aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, February 23, 2006
The not-so-gay games
In Newsweekly broke the story about the popular online multiplayer World of Warcraft gamer cited for harassment because she recruited for a “GLBT friendly” guild in a general chat channel within the game. After some initial confusion the company issued an apology and promised to institute change.
In Newsweekly’s Alexander Sliwinski has followed up with a report about an International Game Developers Association (IGDA) survey regarding diversity behind the scenes in the video game industry:
“We are pretty homogeneous,” said Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the IGDA. “A lot of the information matched the stereotype of what a game developer is.” ... The report shows that 6 percent of individuals identified as being GLBT, with another 2.6 percent refusing to answer. The report mentions that many people stated they would not take the survey as a direct result of this particular question.
I’m struck that they even conducted such a survey in the face of these views:
There were respondents irritated that the IGDA was even looking into the issues of diversity. Many said that diversity has nothing to do with the outcome of a game - that the focus should be on talent and not diversity in the workforce.
“Please quit the PC stuff,” wrote one 37-year-old respondent, “you are a independent game developer org. Stop wasting money on diversity stuff and start doing useful stuff for independent game developers - who cares about race, sexuality or any of that stuff. This is the absolute last thing you need to waste money on - you are starting to sound like a political party - STOP IT NOW, or you won’t see any more money from me!”
Even though on average they have more industry experience and higher level of education, there is an $8,000 salary gap between GLBT workers and their non-GLBT coworkers. One game designer observes:
“The overall culture of video games is still fairly homophobic, even if most of the developers aren’t, which could have an effect on the self-confidence of LGBT industry workers. Also, many LGBT developers are closeted at work, which may keep them from forming the personal relationships that often lead to promotions and other business opportunities.”
I’m glad to see the game developers association tackling the topic, and In Newsweekly’s Sliwinski sticking with it.
RELATED: A couple thoughtsdeas that inform my thinking on the story. Here I look at how diversity matters because it makes us smarter, more creative and we make better decisions as a consequence of it. And here I look at examples that illustrate how the biases we need to become aware of and work to counteract are the subliminal biases that we can hardly even know we have.
Niggas, queers and dykes
Damon Wayans wants to trademark “Nigga” for a clothing line and retail store:
[S]o far, his applications have been unsuccessful. Trademark examiner Kelly Boulton rejected the registration dated Dec. 22, citing a law that prohibits marks that are “immoral or scandalous.” A previous attempt by Wayans was turned down on identical grounds six months earlier.
“While debate exists about in-group uses of the term, ‘nigga’ is almost universally understood to be derogatory,” Boulton wrote to Wayans’ attorney, William H. Cox, according to the application.
I don’t want it trademarked because I don’t want any of our language trademarked but I wonder, do we really want Kelly Boulton telling us a term we use to describe ourselves is immoral? What say do any of us have in reclaiming those derogatory terms used against us?
Lynda Zadra-Symes, a trademark lawyer in California, said Wayans may be successful. She compared “Nigga” to the successful registration of Dykes on Bikes. The San Francisco Women’s Motorcycle Contingent fought the Trademark Office for three years to overturn an initial rejection of a Dykes on Bikes trademark. The mark was published Jan. 24.
“Because the application was by a group of lesbians it was eventually allowed to publish,” Zadra-Symes said.
“This is a great victory,” the group proclaimed on its website. “It affirms our right to determine who we are and how we present ourselves to the world.”
However, Tawnya Wojciechowski, another trademark attorney practicing in California, compared Wayans’ application to the ongoing legal case where Washington Redskins trademarks have been challenged by seven Native Americans. “They’re going to have a really tough time,” Wojciechowski predicted.
Remember George Will’s Sunday comment, “Conservatives believe in the pursuit of happiness, liberals believe in the delivering of happiness from a post-New Deal government.”
Today he blows that line up into a whole column:
A survey by the Pew Research Center shows that conservatives are happier than liberals—in all income groups. While 34 percent of all Americans call themselves “very happy,” only 28 percent of liberal Democrats (and 31 percent of moderate or conservative Democrats) do, compared with 47 percent of conservative Republicans. This finding is niftily self-reinforcing: It depresses liberals.
Election results do not explain this happiness gap. Republicans have been happier than Democrats every year since the survey began in 1972. Married people and religious people are especially disposed to happiness, and both cohorts vote more conservatively than does the nation as a whole.
People in the Sun Belt—almost entirely red states—have sunnier dispositions than Northerners, which could have as much to do with sunshine as with conservatism. Unless sunshine makes people happy, which makes them conservative.
Here’s the Pew poll.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
I’m not watching!
The Times says, in the anchor derby, CBS is betting on folksy:
It’s a scary world, except on CBS News, where it seems downright cuddly.
“Well, Jim, this is some pretty strong talk,” Bob Schieffer said companionably on Tuesday after the CBS correspondent Jim Axelrod described Washington’s reaction to the Bush administration’s plan to allow an Arab-owned company to manage six American ports. “This is fairly weird; there is no other way to put it.”
Summarize the news of the day in five minutes or so; spend a big chunk of time—10 minutes or so—on covering one really good story; and give people even more to think about by ending with opinion.
I still wish they’d adopt that format - with or without Katie in the anchor seat (the Times, “rumors are rife"). I’m watching less and less television news as it gets more and more vacuously formulaic.
I really don’t see that - or “spunky interactive features like “Assignment America,” which allows viewers to vote online for the Friday feature story” - effectively attracting the viewers they crave.
When robots meet in London Fields
You may recall that upon the announced
death discontinuation of the Aibo, I said I much prefer the open source Feral Robot Project discussed by Natalie Jeremijenko in the ITConversation podcast Social Robotics, Smocial Robotics.
These feral robot projects take commercially available robotic toy dogs, modify and adapt them, then release them to investigate contaminated urban sites. The roving robot dog packs create mediagenic events that draw attention to and visualize the environmental findings. The whole endeavor is, in essence, an open source robotics project.
Cool, eh? Great idea!
Today Giles wrote to update me on a recent project in London:
A group from Proboscis (Giles Lane, Sarah Thelwall, Orlagh Woods and Camilla Brueton) and Birkbeck College Computer Science dept (George Roussos and Dima Diall) braved the freezing weather to test the robot out in the field. We adapted a Locustworld meshbox to act as a battery powered mobile mesh node with SPACE Media’s wifi network broadcasting into the southern part of London Fields… The robot took sensor readings (air quality and carbon dioxide) approximately every two seconds, together with a GPS location fix to enable the reading to be correlated with a map and with other forms of local knowledge posted on the UT platform. Alongside our own feral robot, we gave a robot designed by Natalie Jeremijenko for the Ark Centre in Dublin last summer a test run in the fields, its sensor attuned to ‘solvent vapours’. However, as it isn’t able to store or transmit its readings we were not able to determine what, if anything, it encountered.
Here’s an online visualisation of the test results and video footage from the test.
Thanks Giles! Keep up the good work. I look forward to the day I’m posting about some projects on our side of the pond. In the meantime, we have… public pillowfights in our parks.
Jack Shafer says it’s clear that many female newscasters lie about their true hair color—notice all those blondes?—every time they appear on television. TV newsreaders go blond to appear younger and thus more fertile. “The disturbing suggestion here is that men who watch lots and lots of TV news are cruising for vigorous virtual mates at the same time they’re grazing for news,” writes Shafer. “Ladies, don’t leave your husbands alone with the TV.”
Answer sites: ask a question, get an opinion
The answer space is a “space” I wish would be effectively developed. It’s not:
Search engines are great for pointing people to information that can help them find a good deal on a laptop, the correct spelling of an obscure French writer’s name and the latest news stories on the Iraq war. But how well does the Web do answering full questions that involve some research or critical thinking? [...]
Not surprisingly, the answers from free Web sites were long on opinion and humor but short on facts. They tended to be good for gauging public opinion but not very helpful in finding explanations for difficult questions.
The man’s ingratitude
Fred Clark at The Slacktivist says Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, is a petulant jerk:
Venezuela’s Citgo Petroleum Corp. is offering heating oil at a 40 percent discount to low-income families throughout the American Northeast.
Here are some of the words Rep. Barton has used to describe this assistance: “unfriendly,” “belligerent,” “hostile.” Barton is chair of the House Energy Committee, whose spokesperson, Lisa Miller, also chimed in on the fuel assistance for poor families, calling it “obnoxious.” Barton and Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., have launched a congressional investigation of Citgo.
Citgo is being investigated by the GOP Congress for helping low-income American families. Joe Barton seems to think launching such an investigation—trying to stop, or at least interfere with, such assistance—is his job as a member of Congress.
So who, exactly is Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas? His opponent in November, David Harris, tells us:
* Joe Barton is the bought-and-paid-for servant of the American oil industry.
* Joe Barton is a personal contributor of $5,000 to Tom Delay’s defense fund.
* Joe Barton has been recognized as a ”Clean Air Villain of the Month.”
* Joe Barton voted against aid for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Gay in America in 2006
A Gay and a Lesbian are among the slate of five nominees to become the next Episcopal Bishop of California. The Very Rev. Robert Taylor and the Rev. Bonnie Perry are among the nominations advanced by the Diocesan Search Committee (see the full slate of nominees here).
On May 6th, laity and clergy will meet in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral to elect the 8th Episcopal Bishop of California. A month later, in June, the bishop-elect will be considered for ratification by lay and clergy deputies and by the House of Bishops at the General Convention of the National Episcopal Church, in Columbus, Ohio. Following ratification, a consecration is scheduled for July 22. This list of names is not necessarily complete, since there is a petition process that allows other names to be submitted from members of our local churches. Other names may be added before March 13th.
Integrity, a national Episcopal LGBT group, hailed inclusion of a gay man and a lesbian woman in the slate of nominees. “As it has in the past, Integrity expects General Convention to follow canonical procedures to the letter, giving consent to the bishop-elect if there is no justifiable impediment to his/her consecration. The canons clearly state that, “No one shall be denied rights, status or access to an equal place in the life, worship, and governance of this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disabilities or age,” the group stated.
LATER: But, still, there’s this:
FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky (AP)—Wearing vests covered in military patches, a band of motorcyclists rolls around the country from one soldier’s funeral to another, cheering respectfully to overshadow jeers from church protesters.
They call themselves the Patriot Guard Riders, and they are more than 5,000 strong, forming to counter anti-gay protests held by the Rev. Fred Phelps at military funerals.
Phelps believes American deaths in Iraq are divine punishment for a country that he says harbors homosexuals. His protesters carry signs thanking God for so-called IEDs—explosives that are a major killer of soldiers in Iraq.
Gay in America in 1960
Joel Dorius died this week. I had never heard of him, but when I was in the first grade…
[S]tate troopers and local police in Northampton, Mass., searched his home as part of raids on obscenity in the mail ordered by President Eisenhower’s postmaster general.
He and another untenured [Smith College] professor, Edward Spofford, had been turned in by Newton Arvin, a tenured literature professor whose home was raided first. What they found - pictures of men in their underwear and diaries of the closeted gay life - were mild by today’s standards but considered illegal pornography then.
The three men were charged with possession of pornography. Arvin agreed to testify against the others, but he later suffered a breakdown and committed himself to a mental hospital.
The three professors were suspended from Smith. Arvin was able to retire at half pay, but the school’s contracts with Dorius and Spofford were not renewed.
Dorius and Spofford accepted a guilty verdict so they could appeal under Massachusetts law. In 1963, the state’s Supreme Court overturned all three convictions.
Require our leaders to serve
Fewer and fewer of our leaders have military service in their rÃƒÂ©sumÃƒÂ©s. They prefer to sweep blithely along from one comfy perch to the next, cushioned in self-regard, promoting, puffing, spinning, hitting their talking points, building their skill sets. They slip into public office without ever having been yelled at by a bullet-headed black man with sergeant’s stripes and made to stand up straight in 95-degree weather and march back and forth across a dusty field and not ask why. This is a shame.
The way to put military service back in the picture is to pass a constitutional amendment requiring that a candidate for president have at least two years of full-time military service. It would be a boon to the country, to the military and to the young. It would confirm the importance of service. The 42-year-old governor who discovers that he wants to be president would need to go down to the recruiting office and enlist. It’d be a big moment, like when Elvis went off to basic training. Think of Newt Gingrich climbing on a bus and going off to have his head shaved and his individuality taken away and rebuilt.
The Constitution requires the president to be at least 35 and a native-born American. The current president certainly casts doubt on the worth of that native-born requirement, but never mind—amend the Constitution and let the boys and girls of Harvard and Stanford and Yale ponder their future. You will see the Army become more representative of the country, more middle-class and educated, and when it is, it will not likely be sent so casually off to war as the blue-collar Army has been.
An eye for an eye
News that Mississippi plans to put pictures of sex offenders on roadside billboards sent me back to reread Salon’s interview with William Ian Miller, professor of law at the University of Michigan, on the fine art of revenge.
I have called Retributive Justice “the thinking man’s vengeance.” And Doug has explained to me that the biblical “eye for an eye” actually had a moderating effect on retribution at the time. Here Miller asks:
But why assume that what motivates the victim (or the victim’s survivors) is anger, rage and fury? Couldn’t they also be motivated by a sense of grief or duty or love? Perhaps they’re desperate to set things right for their loved one. Perhaps they’re not motivated by rage but by a grim sense of purpose, or a keen sense of obligation. We demean the wide emotional range of what an avenger might feel. Often in a talionic society what an avenger would feel is fear because he’s got to go do this duty against someone who’s already proven himself a killer.
When God says, “Vengeance is mine saith the Lord,” he’s taking a right that the people had and saying, “I’ll do it on your behalf.” Today, the state says to a victim, “We are taking away what, in prior times, was your right to settle this account and we will settle it on your behalf.” Supposedly, we do this for the benefit of the entire society. But if that price is less than what the victim would have gotten in the earlier system, isn’t the victim being asked to pay for a wider societal benefit? Doesn’t something more need to be done for the person who’s been wronged?
I come to what may be an opposite conclusion: that the judicial machinery does indeed detach us from retribution, but it exaggerates the retribution in the process.
If I had to club my neighbor - rather than, say, sue him - I’d have a more honest realization of the impact of my punishment, even if we include the additional distorting effect of rage. If I had to deal with the consequences of my rage, I might moderate some.
As it is I rage at politicians who operate through public policy. And it is clear to me that the policy that results is often not in the broad public interest.
Beyond the question of effectively limiting the behavior it sets out to limit, locking up human beings for long periods of deprivation while doing nothing to build the skills necessary to function in society either means perpetual lockup for virtually any crime or dumping criminals back onto the streets hardened to commit crimes again.
That’s a heavy cost burden for our society to bear.
Harvard Summers’ end?
This morning ABC is saying that the Wall Street Journal is saying that Harvard president Lawrence Summers will step down this week (but I’m not finding links).
My take, unschooled as it, has been more in line with the students:
By a three-to-one margin, undergraduates do not think that Lawrence H. Summers should resign his post as University president, according to a poll conducted by The Crimson this weekend.
Just 19 percent of undergraduates in the survey said that Summers should resign, while about 57 percent said he should not. The online survey polled 424 students and carried a margin of error of approximately 4.6 percent.
“I think he’s doing a fine job,” said Derek J. Horton ‘08. “I know the faculty hates him, but I think he’s kind of running Harvard like a business-and I respect that,” Horton said yesterday in an interview in Currier House dining hall.
I have no friends who agree. I’m open to persuasion.
Via Andrew Sullivan.
LATER: writing in Slate, James Traub says, “Summers was forced out of Harvard because he behaved so boorishly that he provided a bottomless supply of ammunition to his enemies.”
Blogging in China
I see all of this as part of the necessary process of change in China:
The [MSN blogging] site was the result of years of negotiations with Chinese officials. Microsoft lined up the Beijing Youth Daily, a state-owned newspaper, and others to provide content. Just before the launch, it struck a partnership with a state-owned investment firm in Shanghai run by Jiang Mianheng, the son of former president Jiang Zemin. The joint venture marked one of the first times a foreign-invested firm had obtained a license to provide Internet content in China.
Free speech advocates quickly attacked Microsoft for preventing Chinese bloggers from using words such as “freedom” and “democracy” in the titles of their blog entries. But MSN Spaces was a hit, and in less than five months, surveys showed it was overtaking Fang Xingdong’s Bokee as the most popular blog site in China.
Bloggers flocked to the site because of its superior software, which made it easy to include slideshows and was linked to Microsoft’s popular instant-messaging program. But Zhao said he chose MSN Spaces because it seemed less heavily censored than its Chinese competitors.
We’re all playing our role, and change is coming. Inevitably. Incrementally. I continue to stand by my optimism for China.
Via Michael J.W. Stickings at The Reaction.
Monday, February 20, 2006
Bring on some liberals!
You know, I’m a liberal and I enjoy lots of conservative commentators. I don’t just like them when I agree with them, I like them when they make me think a little differently. I’d like to believe that conservatives could feel that way, too, about liberal commentators. That is, of course, if there were ever any to be found on Sunday talk!
Katrina Vanden Heuval sure comes close and she was on This Week yesterday. I just saw it. (TiVo! You can see it via Crooks and Liars.) I did not agree with all that she had to say but wow was she a pleasurable presence.
Here George Stephanopoulos asks about a Pew poll on happiness that found Republicans are happier than Democrats. Katrina follows George Will’s sanctimonious “conservatives believe in the pursuit of happiness, liberals believe in the delivering of happiness from a post-New Deal government.” And she does so with great style:
[Y]ou’re asking a woman named Katrina who is an independent Democrat half Jewish half Catholic, wakes up with guilt and anxiety every morning, and edits a liberal weekly in the fifth year of the Bush administration—no, I think that for, for Democrats or people who believe that the Declaration of Independence meant the inalienable right to pursue happiness, that you look around your country today, at the squandered promises, the unfulfilled promises and you can’t sit back and sing “Be Happy,” you know, that song, “Be Happy, Don’t Worry,” because you have got to get out there with some passion and remake that nation and be proud of it again.
She makes me proud!
There are others like her out there. I only wish they could be a regular feature of Sunday talk.
A Wichita woman
From the Wichita Eagle, There was no way I was ever a man:
“People like me tend to do a disservice to the transgender community,” she said. “Once we finish our surgery, we just want to disappear into the mainstream. We don’t want to become the poster child for anyone.
“But I have an obligation to the ones coming up behind me. I know how hard it is to feel that you are all alone.” [...]
Lisa said that when she was growing up in the 1960s in a strict, small-town Kansas environment, she never heard of “transgender.” She recalls being confused about her sexual orientation.
“I thought I might be gay and a transvestite,” she said. “I thought it was that simple. I thought I could outgrow it or that, with age, it would become unimportant. But it only gets worse. It’s only a matter of time until you crack up.”
She had little idea that her condition was about more than her sexuality.
“Being trans is not about sexual orientation,” she said. “Gay is how you love others. Instead, trans is about gender identity. That’s internal."[...]
Kansas law does not allow birth certificates to be amended for gender. Some states, such as California and Illinois, do.
But Lisa got her Kansas driver’s license changed to “female” two years ago.
“There’s no established procedure,” she said. “It’s up to the person at the DMV. I had to plead with them to just look at me. They put down I was a woman.”
Lincoln’s homosexual proclivity
On this Presidents Day, it’s worth remembering that many historians have suspected that Abraham Lincoln had a homosexual proclivity. In Lincoln’s day there was only homosexual activity and no such thing as a gay identity; I, for one, believe he might have been a happier man if there had been and if he had been free to choose it.
From the December 2004 NYTimes, which asked, ”Was Abraham Lincoln a gay American?”
The subject of the 16th president’s sexuality has been debated among scholars for years. They cite his troubled marriage to Mary Todd and his youthful friendship with Joshua Speed, who shared his bed for four years. Now, in a new book, C. A. Tripp also asserts that Lincoln had a homosexual relationship with the captain of his bodyguards, David V. Derickson, who shared his bed whenever Mary Todd was away.
In “The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln,” to be published next month by Free Press, Mr. Tripp, a psychologist, influential gay writer and former sex researcher for Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey, tries to resolve the issue of Lincoln’s sexuality once and for all. The author, who died in 2003, two weeks after finishing the book, subjected almost every word ever written by and about Lincoln to minute analysis. His conclusion is that America’s greatest president, the beacon of the Republican Party, was a gay man.
Of course, I believe a gay identity is a choice that Lincoln did not have, and though I haven’t read the book my reading about it and of Lincoln through the years leads me to find its central thesis persuasive.
These things are agreed to by pretty much all Lincoln scholars: Lincoln spent years sleeping in a small bad with Joshua Speed, he slept in the White House with Captain David V. Derickson when his wife was away and pulled strings to keep the good captain around.
Even Phillip Nobile, a co-author dropped from the Tripp book project who later became its chief critic, wrote in 2001, “I do believe that bisexuality (he was bisexual by definition) is the best explanation for Lincoln’s sex life” and “If I am right, all of Lincoln biography is wrong and all of Lincoln’s biographers were blind.”
For more, here’s Nobile’s review of the Tripp book. Andrew Sullivan called it a hatchet job, pointed to an earlier Nobile essay that contradicts it, and did side by side comparisons of the earlier essay and the review.
Then there’s this from The New Republic by Princeton’s Christine Stansell. She starts out by asking, who cares? and what would it matter anyway? then walks through the evidence dismissively ("what did it really mean for people to sleep together in small beds?"), calls it all “conjecture amplified by conjecture,” and explains away his affinity for men as “like the great majority of nineteenth-century men.”
Sounds like Homophobia in Lincoln studies to me.
Professor William Labov, a University of Pennsylvania linguist and author of the new book Atlas of North American English Phonetics, Phonology and Sound Change, says there is a shift of vowel sounds in the inland northern cities. He calls it the “northern city shift.”
Via Jonathan Skillings:
Most of us probably don’t make much of a distinction when pronouncing “do” and “dew.” There’s a subtle difference in the pronunciation of the vowels, but for linguist William Labov, a significant one...you can play around with an interactive map (with audio) based on his book “Atlas of North American English” via the Web site of publisher Mouton de Gruyter. (Registration required to get to the free demo.)
UPDATE: If you haven’t noticed, I can’t spell. I’ve corrected the spelling of “vowel.” Thanks Doug!
GLBT studies at Catholic U: “there’s a tension there”
A few weeks ago I quoted Gary Cestaro, director of a new lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies minor at Chicago’s Catholic DePaul University, saying he saw the program as a “no-brainer.”
Now Newsweek’s reporting:
DePaul is the nation’s largest Roman Catholic university-and the Vatican’s official teaching is that homosexuality is “objectively disordered.” “I understand that there’s a tension there,” says Assistant Prof. Gary Cestaro, the program’s director.
So do some conservative Catholic groups, who are calling for the program to be abolished. “It’s clearly portraying the culture in a favorable way,” says Patrick J. Reilly, founder of the Cardinal Newman Society, an organization that promotes conservative teaching on Catholic campuses. “There’s no doubt that this program, at least in a subtle way, is undermining Catholic teaching on homosexuality.”
Cestaro, who largely developed the program from already existing classes on campus, disagrees, noting that he’s even considering adding a class, taught by the campus’s Catholic Studies Department, that would address the church’s stances on homosexuality. He defends the program’s merit-and the university’s right to offer it. “Institutions of higher learning, even if they are Catholic, aren’t spokespeople for the Vatican,” he says. “Like any university, there should be room for free inquiry.”
LATER: Heck I almost missed the gay film festival and staging of “The Vagina Monologues” at Notre Dame! It sounds like DePaul might soon be the Catholic U of choice.
THE NEXT DAY: The Chicago Tribune has a major piece on DePaul’s program.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
TV networks just don’t get it
As anyone with an Internet connection and a love of cupcakes can tell you, “Lazy Sunday” is a tongue-in-cheek rap video starring Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg of “Saturday Night Live.” NBC first broadcast the video, a two-and-a-half-minute paean to New York’s Magnolia Bakery, Google Maps and C. S. Lewis, on Dec. 17.
Fans immediately began putting copies of the video online. On one free video-sharing site, YouTube (http://www.youtube.com), it was watched five million times in a few days. NBC soon made the video available as a free download from the Apple iTunes Music Store.
Julie Supan, senior director of marketing for YouTube, said she contacted NBC Universal about working out a deal to feature NBC clips, including “Lazy Sunday,” on the site. NBC Universal responded early this month with a notice asking YouTube to remove about 500 clips of NBC material from its site or face legal action under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. YouTube complied last week. “Lazy Sunday” is still available for free viewing on NBC’s Web site, and costs $1.99 on iTunes.
If networks were more effectively putting their content online, I’d be happy to link to their advertising laden sites, but they don’t make it easy and don’t use universal formats. They just don’t get it:
Several online commentators noted that NBC’s response to YouTube, while legally justified, may have been short-sighted. The online popularity of “Lazy Sunday” has been credited with reviving interest in “Saturday Night Live” at a time when it is in need of some buzz.
Ms. Supan said VH1 and other television and movie producers were increasingly putting their own clips, trailers and music videos on YouTube in hopes of jump-starting their own viral phenomena.
Religious left must apply for federal faith-based dollars
I saw it, but hopelessly didn’t even bother noting it: “President Bush has signed legislation giving $500 million to faith-based programs to promote and strengthen opposite-sex marriage.”
Well today Troutfishing at Daily Kos, after noting that “Jim Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives...confirmed that no direct federal grants from his program had gone to a non-Christian religious group,” offers up this suggestion:
What to do ? Well, look at it this way :
Existing “faith based” spending is solely going to Christian groups ( or was as of when Esther Kaplan interviewed “Faith Based” office head Jim Towey ) but - in theory - any faith organizations can apply. What’s necessary is the documentation of pervasive disrimination in the allocation of “Faith Based” contracts. There’s a need to establish a clear pattern of biased “faith based” funding allocation.
That shouldn’t be very hard, but real faith groups - Christian left, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, B’ahai - whatever and whoever, there’s a vast spctrum of religious diversity in the US - need to apply for “faith based” funding. AND, those groups need to document their experiences of the process. [...]
Further, I see no reason why such faith based organizations can’t hire gay couples and pay them to promote straight marriage.
In Massachusetts, Texas, wherever.
We’re working with a weak hand - we need to get creative, and fast.
The imam and the former foreign minister
From 60 Minutes on the firestorm in Denmark, the imam stirs things up:
The Muslims felt totally rebuffed at home in Denmark. So the imam sent a delegation to the Middle East with a dossier of pictures, not only of the published cartoons, but of others that were even more offensive. One showed the prophet with the head of a pig.
Abu-Laban told 60 Minutes he had received these in anonymous threatening letters. But the dossier left the impression that those pictures had been printed in the newspaper.
“I guess what I’m getting at, imam, didn’t you include these obscene cartoons as a way of really stirring up the pot?” Simon asked.
“We didn’t give it to media. Don’t forget this point,” the imam said.
“I’m the media. And I have it,” Simon replied.
It was the dissemination of that dossier which ignited the flames that are still burning today.
“You weren’t getting any attention here before you spread the word. Now, you’re getting attention and engagement. Do you think your mission was a success?” Simon asked.
“Yes. The whole world is engaged. I’m so positive,” Abu-Laban replied.
Asked if he thought the casualties are worthwhile, the imam said: “I feel sorry. But we make cars and they make accidents. We build skyscrapers, but they collapse in an earthquake. This is life. We have maybe unexpected tragedies. And we have to live with them.”
They also point out that Flemming Rose “has been put on indefinite paid vacation and encouraged to leave Denmark. He’s currently resting at a five-star hotel in Washington, DC.” The report ends with the former foreign minister on the benefits of a little self-censorship:
“When you use the freedom of speech to make jokes of other people’s religions and you do it with the single purpose of demonstrating that you have the right to do so, then you are undermining the freedom of speech as I see it,” [former foreign minister and newspaper editor Uffe] Elleman says.
“Is that what you think the newspaper was doing? Do you think they were deliberately provoking just to show that they had a right to do it?” Simon asked.
“Yes. And I reacted very strongly because Muslims in Denmark—well, that’s a minority, and you don’t treat a minority that way. You don’t stamp on other people’s religious feelings. That’s bad taste,” Elleman said.
“Why I Published Those Cartoons”
Flemming Rose, the culture editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, in a WaPo OpEd on why he published the cartoons:
...I commissioned the cartoons in response to several incidents of self-censorship in Europe caused by widening fears and feelings of intimidation in dealing with issues related to Islam…
Has Jyllands-Posten insulted and disrespected Islam? It certainly didn’t intend to. But what does respect mean? When I visit a mosque, I show my respect by taking off my shoes. I follow the customs, just as I do in a church, synagogue or other holy place. But if a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission. And that is incompatible with a secular democracy.
This is exactly why Karl Popper, in his seminal work “The Open Society and Its Enemies,” insisted that one should not be tolerant with the intolerant. Nowhere do so many religions coexist peacefully as in a democracy where freedom of expression is a fundamental right. In Saudi Arabia, you can get arrested for wearing a cross or having a Bible in your suitcase, while Muslims in secular Denmark can have their own mosques, cemeteries, schools, TV and radio stations. [...]
Since the Sept. 30 publication of the cartoons, we have had a constructive debate in Denmark and Europe about freedom of expression, freedom of religion and respect for immigrants and people’s beliefs. Never before have so many Danish Muslims participated in a public dialogue—in town hall meetings, letters to editors, opinion columns and debates on radio and TV. We have had no anti-Muslim riots, no Muslims fleeing the country and no Muslims committing violence. The radical imams who misinformed their counterparts in the Middle East about the situation for Muslims in Denmark have been marginalized. They no longer speak for the Muslim community in Denmark because moderate Muslims have had the courage to speak out against them.
A powerful argument that must be read in its entirety.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Will Medicare drug plan bring seniors back to the Dems?
Older voters, a critical component of Republican Congressional victories for more than a decade, could end up being a major vulnerability for the party in this year’s midterm elections, according to strategists in both parties. Paradoxically, one reason is the new Medicare drug benefit, which was intended to cement their loyalty.
During next week’s Congressional recess, Democrats are set to begin a major new campaign to highlight what Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, describes as “this disastrous Republican Medicare prescription drug plan.” Democratic incumbents and challengers plan nearly 100 public forums around the country, armed with briefing books and talking points on a law that, party leaders assert, “was written by and for big drug companies and H.M.O.’s, not American families.”
Recognizing the widespread criticism of the new drug program, Republican senators met in a closed session with administration officials this week to discuss the rocky rollout of the plan and prepare for questions back home.
But pollsters say the Republicans’ difficulties with the over-60 vote go beyond the complicated drug benefit, which began Jan. 1. President Bush’s failed effort to create private accounts in Social Security last year was also unpopular with many older Americans.
Quicken Sunset policy: the workaround
You may recall that users of the popular Quicken financial management program face a yearly ritual: Intuit Inc.’s forced retirement of the online components of slightly dated versions of the software. It’s called a Sunset Policy.
I remain aghast at the notion and believe the expiration day should be made loud and clear at the time of purchase or such policies should be made illegal. But today in comments to my last post on the topic Phillip left this sound suggestion:
This policy is so whacked--for your info though, you can call their 800 number complain loudly enough (actually, it didn’t really take much) and they gave me a free download of 2006 basic: 800-811-8766.