aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, March 27, 2006
More Katie speculation
The biggest guessing game in network news - whether NBC Today star Katie Couric will leave to anchor The CBS Evening News -has been going on for months now, and speculation has far outweighed any answers.
“I think this is one of those deals that isn’t done until it’s done, and right now I don’t think anybody really knows what Katie will decide,” CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer says. “It’s up to Katie to decide, and when she does, we’ll all know.”
RELATED: Katie & Jimmy the oddest coupling since Fonda & Turner?
Why is Windows so slow?
Many reasons, but this is the one I was looking for:
Microsoft will not say so, but antitrust considerations may have played a role in the decision that Mr. Allchin called the right thing to do. As part of its antitrust settlement, Microsoft vowed to treat PC makers even-handedly, after evidence in the trial that Microsoft had rewarded some PC makers with better pricing or more marketing help in exchange for giving Microsoft products an edge over competing software.
In the last few weeks, Microsoft met with major PC makers and retailers to discuss Vista. Hewlett-Packard, the second-largest PC maker after Dell, is a leader in the consumer market. Yet unlike Dell, Hewlett-Packard sells extensively through retailers, whose orders must be taken and shelves stocked. That takes time.
Hewlett-Packard, according to a person close to the company who asked not to be identified because he was told the information confidentially, informed Microsoft that unless Vista was locked down and ready by August, Hewlett-Packard would be at a disadvantage in the year-end sales season.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Uh oh, the medical bills!
My vertigo has worsened this weekend; not a good indicator for getting back any hearing (in the right ear). I hardly care. My only concern these days is keeping the other ear working! That and the medical bills.
Between the hernia and the hearing, I’m out of pocket thousands of dollars and looking at I don’t know how much more. I live a modest lifestyle (last night’s Saturday night recreation was laundry and having people over for pie), live in a modest home and earn a modest salary.
It’s not clear how I’ll make the payments. I’ve posted before about illness and injury as contributors to bankruptcy. I’m not here predicting mine; rather, I’m learning first-hand how real those stories are. And I’m the lucky one.
Right now a colleague is battling cancer. She faces a life-threatening illness and co-pays and the complications of loss of salary from not being able to work and child care. Recall too the husband of a colleague who got a liver transplant that meant he hit the lifetime maximum of he and his family’s insurance.
Then there’s the administrative burden. I have to call and pre-certify and keep track of the paperwork (as do all my providers) and I’m telling you it’s a very thick file. I read somewhere (I have to learn del.icio.us!) that the administrative costs for health care in America are the highest in the world at 25%. I can’t find that link, so this one will have to do:
Exhibit 6.11: Private Health Insurance Administrative Costs per Person Covered, 1986-2003
The cost per enrollee for private health insurance expenses not related to direct care services (such as administrative costs and profits) continued to rise, from $85 in 1986 to $421 in 2003. The most rapid growth occurred in the 4-year period from 1987 to 1990, when these administrative costs rose 125%. For the six-year period from 1998 to 2003, administrative costs per enrollee nearly doubled (+95%).
Talk about bureaucracy! And all this so they can tell me I’m not covered. Insurance is all about pools and spreading risk. Isn’t the largest pool the whole country? Aren’t we all in this together? All of us will get sick, all of us will face end of life health costs, it’s in our interest to share them.
I’ll end quoting Geriatrician Dr. Christine Cassel on Fresh Air. She argues for Medicare reform, but because she argues too for keeping it a government program:
I think it’s very important that we keep the Medicare program as a government program in this country. And I worry that, because people are focusing on its flaws, that they may think the answer is just to throw it all over to the private sector and private plans, which, I think, are not going to turn out to be as efficient. The things I like about it are, first of all, that it’s universal, it covers everyone, and covers everyone with similar and comparable benefits. So it makes it easy for patients to understand it and easy to administer. Leads to the second thing I like about it, it has very low administrative costs. Medicare costs--administrative costs are 3 to 5 percent compared to almost all of the private sector, which is between 15 and 25 percent. That’s a lot of wasted money that goes to administrators rather than going to deliver health care. And the last thing that I think is really important about it is that it supports innovation and training in medical care, it actually supports young physicians getting good training.
How to peel a potato
Speaking of viral video… Remember How to Fold a Shirt? That one was sent to me by Doug‘s mom. You’d be surprised at the percentage of students who tell me they’ve seen it. Today I learned how to peel a potato…
Olasky on Reed
The WaPo reports Marvin Olasky - “a close associate of President Bush who helped developed the administration’s faith-based initiative and the concept of ‘compassionate conservatism’” - is one of Ralph Reed’s harshest critics:
Olasky, a journalism professor at the University of Texas, is editor in chief of World magazine, the mission of which “is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Since Nov. 19, World has run 10 articles and essays describing the $4 million in gambling money Abramoff paid to Reed to lobby against casinos competing with Abramoff’s clients. The articles have highlighted incriminating e-mails and other disclosures that have raised doubts about Reed’s explanations of his activities.
Reed, Olasky wrote March 4, “has damaged Christian political work by confirming for some the stereotype that evangelicals are easily manipulated and that evangelical leaders use moral issues to line their own pockets.”
There is gold in that Web Junk!
The Times looks at viral video today:
[M]any of the videos on [VH1’s] “Web Junk” come from viewers - creative people using affordable digital video cameras and desktop software to shoot and edit and post their own clever shorts. “Saturday Night Live’s” rap sketch “Lazy Sunday,” perhaps the most widely seen viral video of late, has already inspired numerous parodies, including “Lazy Monday” (featuring two 11-year-old Chicago boys lip-synching to the original), “Lazy Muncie” (where the honor of the Midwest is defended) and “Lazy Saturday” (the West Coast answer to “Lazy Sunday"), which was featured on Episode 4 of “Web Junk 20.”
It’s an updated version of the long-running series “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” but with a twist: “The distinction,” said Mr. Graden, “would be that I would call ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ accidentally created, and these are often purposely created by people to express their own sense of comedy and commentary.”
We call that Remix Culture. One day they’ll get it. Is this a good sign?
Mr. Graden thinks image quality doesn’t really matter; in fact, he suggests, the worse the clips look the more effective they tend to be. “People want to believe these were completely homemade expressions,” he said, “that they were discovered out in the universe and were brought to air. If they look like slickly produced television I don’t think people would buy into the utter randomness that is that show.”
Others, for example Ziff-Davis’s David Coursey, have no vision. He said last summer [clip] that amateur content is ok as a hobby, but still “a lot of the content is going to be highly suspect...information viruses spread by podcast...low-end personality driven and I don’t think that that lasts.”
He’s not alone in his thinking. So for those of you who are interested I’ve put my riff on that in the extended entry…
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Perpetual Partial Attention
A blurb in the Times today:
Just three short years ago - an eternity when you consider the explosive growth of the online juggernaut - regular Internet users already spent 25Ã‚Â½ hours a month sitting at the computer, the Nielsen/NetRatings study says. By now that has shot up to 30Ã‚Â½ hours - fully an hour a day. (It’s a wonder that people still also have time to watch the vast quantity of television they do. When do they wash the floor? Practice piano? Do laundry?)
The answer is: they don’t watch TV. It’s on, but they’re not paying attention. On the Web, we give/get full attention. My audience is smaller and asynchronous, anonymous and fickled (staying only so long as it wishes), but I get its full attention. Much more on that in a future post.
In 1997 I coined the phrase “continuous partial attention.” For almost two decades continuous partial attention has been a way of life. In order to cope and to keep up with responsibilities and relationships, we’ve stretched our attention bandwidth to its upper limits. We’ve used technology...as a way to think about how the brain works and, interestingly, we seem to think that if technology has a lot of bandwidth, well so do we…
With continuous partial attention we keep the top level item in focus and then we scan the periphery in case something more important emerges. Continuous partial attention is motivated by a desire not to miss opportunities. At the heart of it, we want to ensure our place as a live node on the network. We feel alive when we feel connected to others. To be busy and to be connected is to be important… Speed, agility and connectivity have been top of mind and marketers have been humming that tune for almost two decades now.
Between the extraordinary amount of information technology available today, the need to network and the always on lifestyle, we are increasingly over-stimulated, overwhelmed and unfulfilled.
I’ve recalled her term as Perpetual Partial Attention, and prefer it so I will keep it. The idea had never occurred to me even though at about the same time she coined it I moved from the always on lifestyle she describes so well to one where I “regulate my inputs.”
That’s my phrase, and not nearly so poetic, but descriptive nonetheless. I do not listen to my voicemail, read my email, answer my cell phone - or even my home phone - unless I choose to. I do not own a Palm Pilot anymore after migrating from the original Casio Boss (pictured?) that I upgraded with each new iteration from the early 1990s. I could type with my thumbs as quickly as with a full keyboard (and I did save my full address book which now resides in MyYahoo!)
So I’ve got the input part down pat; it’s no longer a problem. Now, as a budding-blogger, the trick is: to regulate my OUTPUT!
LATER: See also Perpetual Partial Attention II.
On Ben Domenech & subliminal racism
This I posted back in October in the context of Bill Bennett’s “[Y]ou could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down” comment and then again in December for Blog Against Racism Day.
It seems the great conductors of the world once innocently believed that men were innately better musicians than women and orchestras were male bastions. When one day, through a set of fortuitous circumstances, a male maestro auditioned a woman he thought was a man (she auditioned from behind a screen) he hired her. And when screens were broadly adopted it became clear to everyone that women were every bit as talented musicians as men.
What once was “obvious,” that men were better musicians, is now obviously not.
His story is to illustrate the power and peril of subliminal snap judgments. Says Gladwell [clip]:
There are certain things about somebody that all of us are really really good at knowing right away, and certain things that we may think we’re good at knowing that we are profoundly not…
Sexual attractiveness, you can do like that…
When we have real experience with something we are good at making profoundly good snap judgments, but in almost every other situation where we do not have that level of expertise our snap judgments are bad. And as a society I feel we are way too cavalier about the products of our snap judgments.
After his talk, during the questions, Gladwell made this observation that I have seen made no place else [clip]:
I have become convinced since writing this book that juries should never be able to see the defendants in a jury trial; that that is just crazy. Why? Because the kind of snap judgments a jury is likely to make about a defendant from seeing the defendant are all irrelevant…
Every year someone stands up and points out that there are huge differentials in the conviction rates and sentences for blacks and whites convicted of the same crime. And yet we make that observation and kind of shrug and say, “Well, that’s America.”
We don’t have to live with that. Why don’t we do something about it?
I would bet every dollar I own that if we put the defendant in a backroom and had the defendant answer all questions by email that the gap between black and white defendants, the sentences and conviction rates would shrink.
I absolutely believe that.
I do too.
On Ben Domenech & self-esteem
Dr. Carol Dweck is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, a recognized world leader in the study of personality, and author of Mindset—The New Psychology of Success. She spoke with Dr. Moira Gunn in an outstanding Tech Nation podcast. In this clip she speculates on a couple famous plagiarism cases:
There are these famous cases of Janet Cook and Stephen Glass, famous young reporters who made up stuff. Had to give back a Pulitzer Prize. Had to leave the New Republic in shame. What was that about? Were they just cheaters with deep down bad qualities? I think they were like the children in my studies who received lavish praise for their intelligence or talent and then didn’t feel that they had the luxury of learning. Maybe Janet Cook and Stephen Glass felt they had to be brilliant right away. They couldn’t take the time to learn the ropes and do the legwork and yes, they came out with these great stories right away, but they weren’t true.
It’s about self-esteem [clip]:
Self-esteem per se is just fine, but I think we have a misguided model of what it is and how to promote it. We think it’s something that you can just pump into a child the way you inflate a tire. And we think we can do that by telling them how great they are. That’s the misguided part.
In our work we’ve shown that telling children how great they are… makes them very happy for a few minutes, but it makes them completely unable to cope with setbacks. How does it do that? ... Well it puts them into a fixed mindset. It tells them, “Hey, you did well on this test. That lets me read your underlying fixed ability and I think it’s pretty good.”
But it also tells children the name of the game is to look smart. So that when we then offer these students a chance to do something that stretches them and would help them learn, they say, “No thank you. I’d rather keep on looking smart.”
We also showed that when they then got something that was more difficult, they crashed. They said, “I guess I’m not smart after all.” They lost their enthusiasm for the task and their performance went way down. Incidentally this was an IQ test, so praising their intelligence made them less smart.
And, um, that’s not just some liberal claptrap using the underlying reason to justify the crime or coddle the criminal. It’s about using the underlying reasoning to understand in order to better prevent future crime!
On Ben Domenech & racism - Telling it like it is
I have been watching the Domenech developments all week. Too busy for thoughtful comment, too much for the limits of quoting, I have said nothing.
Steve Gillard is generally too strident for my taste but I am a regular reader and often agree with him nonetheless. Today he’s mad. Rightfully so. He answers Ben and Mike and says many, many important things that need to be said on their (our?) racist assumptions.
I wholly agree with him on this, and believe he makes his case completely and convincingly. Read him. I’ve found no other commentator saying it.
I might add on my own that it would be easier to accept the Domenech defenders’ and friends’ prescription - just punishment followed by forgiveness, “his character is not irredeemable” - if it were a formula applied through their public policy recommendations for all of us rather than merely a plea applied to one of their own.
LATER: Oh, and I agree with all who make what should be (but is not) the obvious point that the Post should not be hiring political activists to balance non-partisan journalists.
Religion or conscience
A long review by Martha Nussbaum writing in The New Republic of Kenji Yoshino’s Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights includes this passage on the founding fathers’ notion of religion and conscience:
If Yoshino had gone into the religion cases, he would have had to face an issue that he nowhere faces: what reasons for exemptions from laws of general applicability should a legal regime recognize? Or, to use Yoshino’s language, what types of covering should it forbid? Ours has focused on the specialness of religion--after all, that is what the free exercise clause protects, not the “free exercise of culture,” or the “free exercise of identity,” or anything else. “Religion" was clearly understood at the time of the founding as a broad concept: early drafts often use the term “rights of conscience,” and my guess is that the final wording came in only because of the decision to focus on “exercise” as well as belief, and because the phrase “free exercise of conscience” was an anomaly, just not a phrase that anyone had used in these debates.
Whatever the Framers meant to protect (and we should remember that around 80 percent of Americans in the early years of the republic were not members of any organized church, though most were Christians of some kind), the tradition of interpretation has understood the notion of “religion” relatively capaciously--at the very least to include non-theistic religions such as Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. During the Vietnam War, the Court went still further, giving exemptions from the draft to two young men whose beliefs were sui generis. One, Seeger, called his view “religious” and provided a metaphysical account to go with it. The other, Welsh, crossed out “religious” on his conscientious objector form, and plainly had what we might call a comprehensive ethical doctrine entailing non-killing. The Court stretched “religion” to the limit here, obviously trying to show respect for conscience even when conscience did not take an organized or traditional shape.
I’m not sure whether the review is behind a paid wall or not, so have excerpted more of it for conrtext` in the extended entry.
Neo no more
Fukuyama offers firm recommendations about the struggle against terrorism. He says, “The rhetoric about World War IV and the global war on terrorism should cease.” Rhetoric of this sort, in his view, overstates our present problem, and dangerously so, by “suggesting that we are taking on a large part of the Arab and Muslim worlds.” He may be right, too, depending on who is using the rhetoric. Then again, I worry that Fukuyama’s preferred language may shrink our predicament into something smaller than it ever was. He pictures the present struggle as a “counterinsurgency” campaign - a struggle in which, before the Iraq war, “no more than a few thousand people around the world” threatened the United States. I suppose he has in mind an elite among the 10,000 to 20,000 people who are said to have trained at bin Laden’s Afghan camps, plus other people who may never have gotten out of the immigrant districts of Western Europe. But the slaughters contemplated by this elite have always outrivaled anything contemplated by more conventional insurgencies - as Fukuyama does recognize in some passages. And there is the pesky problem that, as we have learned, the elite few thousand appear to have the ability endlessly to renew themselves.
RELATED, “An Essay From the New York Times Magazine Adapted From the Book:” After Neoconservatism.
Education is subservient to razzmatazz
The Georgia Aquarium - “not created by a municipality, or a society of subscribers like those that founded the earliest public zoos. It is almost completely the creation of a single man, Bernard Marcus, co-founder of the Home Depot” - as metaphor for our times:
[E]very gallery (and a 3-D theater) bears the label of a corporate sponsor: AirTran, BellSouth, Georgia-Pacific, Home Depot, the Southern Company, SunTrust Bank. If old-fashioned princely patronage was meant to reflect glory on royal powers, a similar goal is apparent here.
But the aquarium does not woo or court its visitors. It means to overwhelm them the moment they pass through a narrow entrance walled by swimming fish and enter the cavernous central space, where public dining areas are surrounded by entrances to thematic galleries - “Ocean Voyager,” “River Scout,” “Cold Water Quest” “Tropical Diver” and “Georgia Explorer” - that almost seem like entrances to amusement park rides. [...]
In Atlanta, too, river fish are glimpsed in an atmospheric, jungle-like path with rippling light and water - a latter-day variation on aquariums’ once-standard grottos. And perhaps most dramatically, there is the sight of a small school of golden trevallies, swimming in perfect formation, inches from the grim mouth of a 17-foot whale shark.
Yet to discover that those fish are trevallies, I had to search. Labels are either nonexistent or uninformative. One is often meant to browse through touch screens of images that offer minimal enlightenment for maximal effort. The galleries are organized around habitats, but they provide no information about what effects these habitats have on marine life or how animals function within it. Without enough context, it is astonishing how often these carefully planned routes devolve into miscellany. [...]
The lack of information and the inconsistency of imagination are strange, given the ambitions and accomplishments of this institution - including an educational program that draws schoolchildren with an apparently detailed curriculum. It is as if once the big effects were created, the creators relaxed into routine. Why though, is there a reluctance - here as in so many other museums - to provide real information for those who want it? Or to design exhibits that don’t just create atmosphere but spur understanding? The now requisite messages about conservation are pumped into a 3-D cartoon, but even they have no real import. ...[T]his aquarium’s risks are not of tanks fracturing or sea water growing stale, but of isolated spectacles and too little information.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Britannica hits back at Wikipedia study
In a document on their website, Encyclopaedia Britannica said that the Nature study contained “a pattern of sloppiness, indifference to basic scholarly standards, and flagrant errors so numerous they completely invalidated the results”.
The scholarly slanging match prompted an equally robust response from Nature.
“We reject those accusations, and are confident our comparisons are fair” it said in a statement.
I can’t help but feel that in the end it doesn’t matter. Jabs and parries will inevitably be exchanged, yet Wikipedia continues to grow and evolve, containing multitudes, full of truth and full of error, ultimately indifferent to the censure or approval of the old guard. It is a fact: Wikipedia now contains over a million articles in english, nearly 223 thousand in Polish, nearly 195 thousand in Japanese and 104 thousand in Spanish; it is broadly consulted, it is free and, at least for now, non-commercial. At the moment, I feel optimistic that in the long arc of time Wikipedia will bend toward excellence.
My bottom line is that today we all have to develop our own “editorial judgment;” that technology gives us the tools and we no longer need accept the fiction that there is one definitive authority. In my view, Britannica was the faith-based encyclopedia, and they, steeped in their belief system, are upset that they will no longer be.
I see Wikipedia as part of a welcome return to an oral tradition. In that argument, I say that I won’t miss the lack of technical accuracy. To be clear, I won’t miss it in the oral tradition, or the Wikipedia entry, because I agree with Ray Kurzweil that old paradigms don’t die. We’re not talking about replacing the encyclopedia. We’re talking about an additional information source that can inform the others.
I don’t want one definitive source. I don’t need one definitive source. George Orwell described a world with one definitive source. I want to be empowered to make my own decision. And the freedom to choose the consensus choice or the popular choice or the contrary choice or to propose my own choice!
I’m really kind of oblivious to who Hollywood actors are, so when I read that Randy Quaid is suing the Brokeback Mountain producers, I wasn’t sure which one he was. It turns out he’s as ugly and greedy as the character he played. Salon:
In a lawsuit claiming he’s a victim of “a ‘movie laundering’ scheme” that tricked him into only getting paid art-house film wages, Randy Quaid is taking the producers of “Brokeback Mountain” to court, asking for $10 million in damages and “restitution for all ill-gotten gains.” Quaid apparently thinks he was hired under the false pretenses that the movie’s producers somehow thought the film might become the unqualified box office success it now is, with a gross of $160 million so far. In papers for the suit (which you can see here), Quaid claims that when he was approached by director Ang Lee in 2004 for the part of Joe Aguirre, he was told: “We can’t pay anything. We have very little money. Everyone is making a sacrifice to make this film.”
Here’s a copy of the lawsuit.
Intellectual Property Run Amok
A DAY AFTER Senator Orrin Hatch said “destroying their machines” might be the only way to stop illegal downloaders, unlicensed software was discovered on his website.
BILL GATES had the 11-million-image Bettmann Archive buried 220 feet underground. Archivists can access only the 2% that was first digitized.
AMONG THE 16,000 people thus far sued for sharing music files was a 65-year-old woman who, though she didn’t own downloading software, was accused of sharing 2,000 songs, including Trick Daddy’s “I’m a Thug.” She was sued for up to $150,000 per song.
MICROSOFT UK held a contest for the best film on “intellectual property theft”; finalists had to sign away “all intellectual property rights” on “terms acceptable to Microsoft.”
ONLY ABOUT 5% of patents end up having any real commercial value. READ ON.
The Union Pacific Railroad has gone trademark crazy. They’re threatening to sue anyone who puts a Union Pacific logo on a model railroad, photographers who take pictures of Union Pacific trains, and even painters who paint pictures of Union Pacific trains. Model railroaders, photographers, and painters are freaking out, natch.
My argument that government can does not mean to suggest that government will. I’m as skeptical as the next guy, I just think a big chunk of the fault lies in our accepting the de-legitimization of government.
This is a more realistic indicator of the future of what government will do:
FCC Chief Kevin Martin yesterday gave his support to AT&T and other telcos who want to be able to limit bandwidth to sites like Google, unless those sites pay extortion fees. Martin made it clear in a speech yesterday that he supports such a a “tiered” Internet.
Martin told attendees at the TelecomNext show that telcos should be allowed to charge web sites whatever they want if those sites want adequate bandwidth.
He threw in his lot with AT&T, Verizon, and the other telcos, who are no doubt salivating at the prospect at charging whatever the market can bear.
He did throw a bone to those who favor so-called “net neutrality”—the idea that telcos and other ISPs should not be allowed to limit services or bandwidth, or charge sites extra fees. He said that the FCC “has the authority necessary” to enforce network neutrality violations. He added that it had done so already, when it stepped in to stop an ISP from blocking Vonage VoIP service.
The Telcos on Net Neutrality
“There’s been a misconception about the network we are building and how we plan to deliver services,” said Cicconi. “What we plan to do amounts to creating dedicated services.”
AT&T and Verizon already offer dedicated pipes to consumers for Internet Protocol-based TV services. Because they are providing the video service themselves to their own customer base, they control movie packets from the time they enter the network until they reach the subscriber at home.
Cicconi said it is unreasonable for companies offering competing video services that travel over the public Internet to demand AT&T offer the same quality it provides through its dedicated service.
“This debate is all about movies,” he said. “A handful of companies who have plans to stream movies want to ensure their product is as good as ours. Or they want ours to be dumbed down for them.”
Cicconi said that trying to achieve the same level of quality for video over the public Internet would be too expensive, because it requires extra equipment and network resources.
The Times on South Park’s “revenge”
Scientologists can seem peculiar and overly defensive. But so can the executives at Viacom. The media giant has a history of pressuring its subsidiaries to cave under pressure: CBS canceled the mini-series “The Reagans” after a right-wing lobbying campaign threatened a boycott of advertisers’ products. (CBS also disinvited Janet Jackson from the Grammys after her “wardrobe malfunction” during a Super Bowl halftime show, which was produced by yet another Viacom company, MTV.)
“South Park” is an anarchic, sophomorically profane series famous for fearlessly knocking all kinds of taboos; most recently it lampooned Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” and the Terri Schiavo case. So once Mr. Hayes left and Comedy Central canceled the offending episode, it seemed natural to expect its creators to poke fun at Viacom as well as Scientology. Both institutions seem equally ready to sacrifice their members’ freedom to protect their image and well-being, except that Scientology doesn’t pretend to traffic in free speech. [...]
It seems that the only way “South Park” could tweak its parent company was to make even more fun of Scientology, almost daring Viacom to censor it. “The Return of Chef” was funny, and it was even more savage about the religion founded by L. Ron Hubbard, than the first, much-contested episode, “Trapped in the Closet,” which was originally shown on Nov. 16 and was scheduled to be shown again on March 15. [...]
The parallel to Scientology could not have been more obvious. But it was the parallel between Viacom and Scientology that made this episode necessary in the first place.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
My response to the “TV is going to be TV” commenters
The comments on my ”TV is going to be TV, delivered like TV, for a very long time” post - itself quoting Mark Cuban and Susan Crawford and calling for greater government involvement in Internet regulation - are unanimous in their belief that government can’t. I have to wonder, would they then agree with my further belief that we are headed for a benign corporate state? I’m not fearing that. They likely would.
But still they can’t imagine that government could do a good job of promoting an open and free Internet. Funny, then, to realize that it was our government that funded and developed the open and free Internet - and yes, Al Gore played a big role in helping that along.
I acknowledge that after government - either directly or through university research funding - gets it started, it is a corporate assessment of profitability that determines which of any emerging technologies will be developed for the consumer market.
But I think the Internet handoff was noteworthy for the ease with which it occurred. Not a peep from anyone, not even from the cyberspace technorati who heralded the Internet as the end of for-profit communication by arguing that this technology allows individuals to bypass the corporate sector and communicate directly with each other.
Gay marriage doesn’t lead to polygamy
Krauthammer finds the gay/poly divergence perplexing. “Polygamy was sanctioned, indeed common” for ages, he observes. “What is historically odd is that as gay marriage is gaining acceptance, the resistance to polygamy is much more powerful.” But when you factor in jealousy, the oddity disappears. Women shared husbands because they had to. The alternative was poverty. As women gained power, they began to choose what they really wanted. And what they really wanted was the same fidelity that men expected from them.
Gays who seek to marry want the same thing. They’re not looking for the right to sleep around. They already have that. It’s called dating. A friend once explained to me why gay men have sex on the first date: Nobody says no. Your partner, being of the same sex, is as eager as you are to get it on. But he’s also as eager as you are to get it on with somebody else. And if you really like him, you don’t want that. You want him all to yourself. That’s why marriage, not polygamy, is in your nature, and in our future.
Support for Gay marriage is increasing
WASHINGTON - The public backlash over gay marriage has receded since a controversial decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 2003 to legalize those marriages stirred strong opposition, says a poll released Wednesday.
Gay marriage remains a divisive issue, with 51 percent opposing it, the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found. But almost two-thirds, 63 percent, opposed gay marriage in February 2004.
“Most Americans still oppose gay marriage, but the levels of opposition are down and the number of strong opponents are down,” said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center. “This has some implications for the midterm elections if this trend is maintained. There are gay marriage ballot initiatives in numerous states.”
Times Preview: Fukuyama in the Book Review
Watch for it this weekend:
In February 2004, Francis Fukuyama attended a neoconservative think-tank dinner in Washington and listened aghast as the featured speaker, the columnist Charles Krauthammer, attributed “a virtually unqualified success” to America’s efforts in Iraq, and the audience enthusiastically applauded. Fukuyama was aghast partly for the obvious reason, but partly for another reason, too, which, as he explains in the opening pages of his new book, “America at the Crossroads,” was entirely personal. In years gone by, Fukuyama would have felt cozily at home among those applauding neoconservatives. He and Krauthammer used to share many a political instinct. It was Krauthammer who wrote the ecstatic topmost blurb ("bold, lucid, scandalously brilliant") for the back jacket of Fukuyama’s masterpiece from 1992, “The End of History and the Last Man.”
But that was then.
In the meantime, check out his new journal, The American Interest.
The Times’ review notes that the name “slyly invokes the legendary neoconservative journals of past (The Public Interest) and present (The National Interest), just to keep readers guessing about his ultimate relation to neoconservative tradition.”
Hate in Savannah on St. Patrick’s Day?
I love Savannah, but I’d stay far away on St. Patrick’s Day. Then, that’s no different than staying away from New York’s Fifth Avenue on St. Patrick’s Day.
Turns out there was an alleged hate crime this year in Savannah. I applaud the police response:
Interim Police Chief Willie Lovett ordered an internal investigation Tuesday after a gay man said police did not help him when he was attacked the day after St. Patrick’s Day. [...]
“There seems to be an accusation the officer didn’t do what he should have done,” Lovett said. “I want to be assured and the public to be assured that any time an officer doesn’t handle anything properly, we’ll look into it.”
Lovett said he wants to find out which story is correct: the victim’s or the one outlined in the police report.
“Apparently there seems to be a lot of accusations that this agency is discriminating against gays and lesbians,” Lovett said. “That is not a stigma I want to attach to this department. That is simply not true.”
Georgia Equality disagrees:
“In three weeks, there have been three separate life-threatening hate biased attacks and the city has allowed the attackers to go free thereby giving them a calling card to spread their violence of hate and bigotry,” said Chuck Bowen, the organization’s executive director. [...]
“The Savannah Police Department sent a clear message this past Friday night-don’t expose your breasts or urinate in public or you’ll be arrested and hauled off to jail and the keys will be thrown away,” Bowen said. “But beat someone near death because they are different from you, and they’ll give you the keys to the city.”
I’m fine with calling for an investigation but I would tone down the rhetoric until there’s proof of something more than “Police were rude to me.”
Recently I redesigned my site. This time I did it myself. I said to a friend, “I’m still not satisfied with my color palette.”
He sent this, The Surprising Truth About Ugly Websites:
Ugliness has never looked better. I have spent the last few days examining a surprising trend in web design that has made ugly websites look absolutely irresistible. No, its not the bolded, 18 point Times New Roman font shouting at me as I access the page that has me excited, nor is it the harsh colors that have actually managed to make my eyes hurt and distort my vision. In fact, its not even that logo which is so pixelated from being processed, resized, saved, and edited so many times that it appears to be blurred to protect the identity of the company who owns the website that has me singing the praises of ugly websites. What is it?
That’s right - ugly websites are surprisingly effective in making money. As a person who puts business before technology, a profitable website is a website is an unbelievably attractive website to me.
His reasoning gets to the root of something that both clients and web developers must learn: People don’t look at websites, they use them…