aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Ambiguously Gay Duo to host SNL
[O]n April 29 Saturday Night Live is having an all-animation evening. Titled “The Best of Saturday TV Funhouse Cartoons,” the episode is a collection of “Saturday TV Funhouse” cartoons by Robert Smigel, many of which were produced in collaboration with Sedelmaier. With reprises of “The X-Presidents,” “Fun with Real Audio,” “The Ambiguously Gay Duo” (who will be hosting the show) and hopefully-oh please, oh please-the brilliant “Saddam & Osama,” this promises to be the funniest SNL in years.
Drip, drip, drip
I just bought a new showerhead for the new shower in the new bathroom. Am I a flagrant water waster?
If there are 650 gallons of water in a pound of cheddar cheese, is it futile to make small gestures like turning off the water when you brush your teeth in the name of saving it?
It helps with water bills, so it makes sense in that way. And it may make sense with local water resources, which may be constrained, just within a small town, or even a community.
At the global scale, no, it doesn’t make much difference. Most of the water that each one of us uses comes from the water used to irrigate the crops that we consume. That’s principally food, but not only. Cotton for our clothing is a major user of water around the world.
We don’t really know as we pick up the food from the store whether our purchases are responsible for making some local crisis elsewhere worse, but it is often the case. Many countries are facing serious water shortages; often their rivers are running dry, or their water tables falling very fast, and in many cases much of that water is being exported by those countries in the form of goods. Yet, when we pay market price for those goods, that price doesn’t usually include any estimate of the cost to the water resources. We still think of water as an unlimited resource rather like the air we breathe.
That from Fred Pearce in Salon calling for a Blue Revolution. Maybe I’ll return the showerhead.
[W]ith Lake Nasser behind the Aswan High Dam in Egypt—one of the world’s kind of totemic dams—that the evaporation from the reservoir behind that dam annually amounts to, in metric, 15 cubic kilometers of water [3.6 cubic miles], if you can imagine a vast amount like that.
That is roughly the amount of water that is used by the whole of the United Kingdom in a year. In other words, you could fill every tap, meet every water demand in the U.K., a country of more than 50 million people, simply by the water that evaporates from the surface behind the Aswan Dam.
Pearce says, “conserving water in one location can mean just donating it to someone else to squander.” Maybe I’ll keep my showerhead.
Monday, April 24, 2006
I love Shrook, now freeware!
Mac users, Shrook is now freeware:
[A] few months ago I went a bit crazy and declared war on Brent Simmons and NetNewsWire. It’s taken me a while to work out what to do and to put all the pieces in place, but this is what I’m doing: I’m making the full version of Shrook freeware.
This isn’t a temporary promotion and this isn’t a sign of abandoning Shrook. I just want as many people as possible to be using it, because it is better than NetNewsWire and NewsFire and everything else out there. Shrook fans (that’s you) can now recommend it to their friends without requiring them to spend money.
I loved it before, I love it still. It’s the best darned Mac feed aggregator around.
We’re all Dick Tracy now
Martin Reynolds, the Gartner guy in the podcast I pointed to earlier on the demise of wristwatches, responds to the observation that once we envisioned a future with Dick Tracy talking into his watch. Reynolds says that’s exactly what we’ve got:
Wristwatches aren’t that old. They were only introduced, effectively, in about I think the 1930s and displaced the pocket watch, the reason being that people couldn’t make mechanisms robust enough to keep accurate time that sat on people’s wrists. But, if you think back, if you skip that out, we do have people talking into their watches. The cell phone today is a splendid analogue for the pocket watch of history.
Other devices destined for obsolescence? Videotape and the desktop phone are definite goners and the cell phone will replace the camera for all but professionals. He comments in conclusion:
What we’re seeing here with the wristwatch is not the demise so much of the wristwatch but a change in the kind of people that are going to work in your organization or going to be customers of your organization. And there are really two things; one is they’re not so interested in what the absolute time is. They’re much more interested in how quickly you respond to their requests. That’s going to become culture shock.
When you’re meeting with people now watch; see if people in the meeting are wearing a wristwatch. And the funny thing is if they’re not wearing a wristwatch they’re likely to be far more impatient than if they are.
No computer but still sued for filesharing by the RIAA
A Rockmart [Georgia] family is being sued for ongoing illegal music file sharing, despite no longer having a computer.
A federal lawsuit filed Friday in Rome by the Recording Industry Association of America alleges that Carma Walls, 32, of a Morgan Street residence, has infringed on copyrights for recorded music by sharing files over the Internet. [...]
“I don’t understand this,” Walls said. “How can they sue us when we don’t even have a computer?”
Carma Walls said that the family did once own a computer - for about two months. They haven’t had a computer in their home for more than a year, she said.
During the short time the family had use of a computer, she did download some music from Internet sites, she said. But she had no inkling that the sites she visited or the practice itself were illegal.
“I thought it was like recording songs off the radio like we did when we were kids,” she said.
The RIAA’s lawsuit maintains that Carma Walls, through the use of a file-sharing program, has infringed on the copyrights for the following songs: “Who Will Save Your Soul,” Jewel; “Far Behind,” Candlebox; “Still the Same,” Bob Seger; “I Won’t Forget You,” Poison; “Open Arms,” Journey; “Unpretty,” TLC; No Scrubs,” TLC; and “Saving All My Love for You,” Whitney Houston.
Via Cory Doctorow:
Good to see a real standard of care in place over there at RIAA sue-your-customers HQ; this is probably more profitable in the long run than suing people who do share music, since those people are statistically more likely to spend money on CDs. Focusing on shaking down people who don’t own PCs will keep the music industry from alienating its diehard fans.
The end of watches?
At first I thought, I’m a dinosaur! Then I realized, I won’t really miss them either:
Have you looked at any kids lately?
I mean really looked at them.
Have you noticed anything different?
They don’t wear watches.
Ask someone under 25 for the time and they’ll pull out a cellphone.
If they do own a watch, they got it as a gift.
Young people aren’t buying them.
Via A VC.
Religious groups push same-sex marriage ban
This is news? I note the cynical, blatantly political motive:
A coalition of about 50 prominent religious leaders, including six Roman Catholic cardinals and a half-dozen archbishops, have signed a petition and pledged their influence to support a constitutional amendment blocking same-sex marriage.
Organizers of the petition said it aimed to revive the groundswell of opposition to same-sex marriage that played a major roll in moving conservative voters to the polls in 2004. Republicans are increasingly worried about turnout in the elections this autumn, and Republican Senate leaders have scheduled a vote in June on the proposed constitutional amendment.
No one expects it to pass, but conservatives hope to use the vote to rally their grass-roots supporters against liberals who oppose the measure as discriminatory toward gay people.
I link to it because genuinely think they push, the quicker we get to a tipping point that flips the issue on its head:
[T]he depth of popular demand for amending the U.S. Constitution over the issue has never been tested, and at least one survey has suggested that the public’s opposition is cooling.
In May, a nonpartisan Pew Research Poll found that 51 percent of the public opposed legalizing gay marriage, down from 63 percent in February 2004.
LATER: A typo in the headline (I left off the word “ban") led to a traffic spike and a false impression. I’ve corrected it.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Another suit claiming the right to intolerance
Yet another lawsuit from the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of Christians who want to speak out against homosexuality at school:
Three Pennsylvania high schoolers have sued the Downington Area School District after it prevented them from expressing their views on the “sinful nature and harmful effects of homosexuality.”
Stephanie Styer, Steven Styer and Kim Kowalski want to express at school their belief “that there is a superior religious point of view to other competing views that would, for example, affirm a homosexual lifestyle.”
“High schools in America are not enclaves of totalitarianism,” their federal lawsuit states. “Through its written policies and actions, [the district] is violating the free speech and associational rights of every student on its campus.”
Attorneys for the three students believe they will prevail, since the wording of the district’s anti-harassment policy resembles one from the State College Area School District that the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia struck down five years ago.
Judge Samuel Alito Jr., who has since been elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court, wrote: “The Supreme Court has held time and again, both within and outside of the school context, that the mere fact that someone might take offense at the content of speech is not sufficient justification for prohibiting it.”
The Alliance Defense Fund case in Georgia claims that the GA Tech Safe Space initiative denies conservative students their free speech rights.
In my earlier post on the Court banning “Gay-Bashing” t-shirts I explain why I think both the kid and the court were right. The same reasoning pretty much applies here.
SEE ALSO Jane Smiley’s piece, “Tolerance" or Social Control?, from back in February: “When Christians talk about secular Americans being “tolerant” of Christian beliefs, they are misusing the word. What conservative Christians want is not toleration, but social control.”
Atlanta Progressive News
SoVo has the story of a Gay Katrina evacuee who landed in Atlanta and launched a newspaper to empower progressives and partered with the homeless:
MATTHEW CARDINALE UNDERSTANDS that “it takes some audacity to come to a city you don’t know and start a newspaper,” but that didn’t stop the 24-year-old graduate student from launching Atlanta Progressive News less than one month after arriving in town last October.
Unlike most news outlets that publish under the pretense of objectivity, Atlanta Progressive News boldly states its mission to promote liberal issues including universal healthcare, living wages, affordable housing, peace, a healthy environment and social justice that includes gay rights.
“It’s a totally different approach to say we have a platform, we have principles, and we’re going to cover news that brings us closer to those principles,” Cardinale says. “We’re coming out and just saying it, and so I hope people will gravitate towards that.”
About 750,000 people have gravitated toward Atlanta Progressive News since Cardinale created the online version in November, providing the support to transition into a print edition, which launched April 1. READ ON.
Here is a link where you can read ”oral arguments” from the Lawrence v. Texas case, in which the Supreme Court ruled that sodomy laws are unconstitutional and unenforceable when applied to consenting adults. And here is Justice Kennedy, blogging against heteronormativity on behalf of the Lawrence majority:
“Liberty protects the person from unwarranted government intrusions into a dwelling or other private places. In our tradition the State is not omnipresent in the home. And there are other spheres of our lives and existence, outside the home, where the State should not be a dominant presence. Freedom extends beyond spatial bounds. Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct.” ...
“...[Liberty] counsel[s] against attempts by the State, or a court, to define the meaning of the relationship or to set its boundaries absent injury to a person or abuse of an institution the law protects. It suffices for us to acknowledge that adults may choose to enter upon this relationship in the confines of their homes and their own private lives and still retain their dignity as free persons. ...
“...’At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.’” [quoting Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey]
RELATED: Ian Ayres and Jennifer Brown, Straightforward: How to Mobilize Heterosexual Support for Gay Rights
DMCA: From bad to worse
For the last few years, a coalition of technology companies, academics and computer programmers has been trying to persuade Congress to scale back the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Now Congress is preparing to do precisely the opposite. A proposed copyright law seen by CNET News.com would expand the DMCA’s restrictions on software that can bypass copy protections and grant federal police more wiretapping and enforcement powers.
As it they don’t already have Congress locked up through the influence of big media money, the administration plays the terrorism card:
During a speech in November, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales endorsed the idea and said at the time that he would send Congress draft legislation. Such changes are necessary because new technology is “encouraging large-scale criminal enterprises to get involved in intellectual-property theft,” Gonzales said, adding that proceeds from the illicit businesses are used, “quite frankly, to fund terrorism activities.”
The 24-page bill is a far-reaching medley of different proposals cobbled together. One would, for instance, create a new federal crime of just trying to commit copyright infringement. Such willful attempts at piracy, even if they fail, could be punished by up to 10 years in prison.
It also represents a political setback for critics of expanding copyright law, who have been backing federal legislation that veers in the opposite direction and permits bypassing copy protection for “fair use” purposes. That bill--introduced in 2002 by Rep. Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat--has been bottled up in a subcommittee ever since.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Google & the MirÃƒÂ³ take-down
Searching with Google yesterday, I smiled at its logo, playfully reworked to look like a Joan MirÃƒÂ³ painting in honor of the Spanish artist’s birthday. His family and Artist’s Rights Society weren’t smiling, the Mercury News reported, asking Google to remove the tribute mid-day. Google honored the request while saying that the logo did not infringe. [...]
[F]air use, as U.S. courts recognize it, eliminates the need to ask permission. Fair use saves us from the sanitized world where only authorized tributes or commentary are permitted. Moral rights, applied in many European countries but not the U.S., protect the “integrity” of artists’ works—but even that was hardly under threat.
Time and time again dead artists’ family get all proprietary about their dear deceased loved one’s work and send off BS letters like this cease and desist to Google. This in no way harms them. In fact you might say that building awareness of the life and work of Miro only makes their assets more valuable. But at the whim of some whiny family member they hit Google, who was trying to do a nice thing in honoring Miro, with a cease and desist.
So at two bucks a gallon that means the average household spends 6% of its disposable income on gasoline. At three bucks a gallon it’s more like 10%. And that’s only the average.
If your income is higher than average or your driving habits are lower than average, you’ll spend less… At the other end, though, are the people who make less than average and drive more than average. They probably spend 15-20% of their incomes on gasoline. That’s a lot.
So there you have it. There’s a substantial segment of the population that spends a very big chunk of their income on gasoline, and in the past 12 months they’ve seen gasoline prices increase by 50% Ã‚- and that’s at a time when household income has been decreasing for five years running and household debt is already sky high. They’re probably pretty pissed that that whole Iraq business didn’t work out quite the way it was supposed to.
The secret life of corn
I’m a fan of Michael Pollan. I will read his “thoughtful, engrossing new book.” Here’s a snippet from the NYTimes review:
[T]he first quarter of the book is devoted to a shocking, page-turning exposÃƒÂ© of the secret life of that most seemingly innocent and benign of American crops, corn.
The species Zea mays, for all its connotations of heartland goodness and Rodgers and Hammerstein romance ("as high as an elephant’s eye"), has been turned into nothing less than an agent of evil, Pollan argues. Expanding on his articles for The New York Times Magazine, he lays out the many ways in which government policy since the Nixon era - to grow as much corn as possible, subsidized with federal money - is totally out of whack with the needs of nature and the American public.
Big agribusiness has Washington in its pocket. The reason its titans want to keep corn cheap and plentiful, Pollan explains, is that they value it, above all, as a remarkably inexpensive industrial raw material. Not only does it fatten up a beef steer more quickly than pasture does (though at a cost to ourselves and cattle, which haven’t evolved to digest corn, and are therefore pre-emptively fed antibiotics to offset the stresses caused by their unnatural diet); once milled, refined and recompounded, corn can become any number of things, from ethanol for the gas tank to dozens of edible, if not nutritious, products, like the thickener in a milkshake, the hydrogenated oil in margarine, the modified cornstarch that binds the pulverized meat in a McNugget and, most disastrously, the ubiquitous sweetener known as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Though it didn’t reach the American market until 1980, HFCS has insinuated itself into every nook and cranny of the larder - in Pollan’s McDonald’s meal, there’s HFCS not only in his 32-ounce soda, but in the ketchup and the bun of his cheeseburger - and Pollan fingers it as the prime culprit in the nation’s obesity epidemic.
On the Court banning “Gay-Bashing” t-shirts
Of course, the court ruled against the kid, so how can that be? Well, the mistake the kid made, in my view, was going to court in the first place. It’s a tried and true Lefty model that the Right has wholly adopted. I expect they’ll get the same result: Even when rulings go in their favor, those rulings ultimately serve more to disengage the base than to sway public opinion.
I say this even as I say elsewhere that I want the same-sex marriage battle to go to the courts. But that’s like wanting Roe to be overturned because at this point it’s the most pyrrhic victory I can imagine. Get those two cases ruled on by today’s court and we’ll see an energized Left to pull us back to the middle. Please remember that I believe the country is today closely divided not deeply divided (even on religion), and the more we swing in either direction the more out of step we get.
But to discuss for a moment the t-shirt ban, after reading David Shraub’s very thorough and thoughtful analysis (made complete with a roundup of other views), I don’t personally find the t-shirt offensive enough: “BE ASHAMED, OUR SCHOOL EMBRACED WHAT GOD HAS CONDEMNED” on the front, and “HOMOSEXUALITY IS SHAMEFUL” on the back. If the t-shirt were more analogous to the example from the dissent: “HITLER HAD THE RIGHT IDEA” on the front and “LET’S FINISH THE JOB!” on the back, it would more likely meet the incitement to violence standard that everyone agrees is too far.
In this particular case the context in which the shirt was worn - the “National Day of Silence” in which gay and gay-friendly students refuse to talk in protest of discrimination and prejudice - makes it all the more acceptable. In the best student tradition he was voicing a personal opinion (and without talking!); rebelling and taking a stand against a position he didn’t agree with. He shouldn’t have gone to court but I’m guessing he could have won had he skipped school and worn the t-shirt out front, on the street and off of school property. Given that he did go to court, as it stands and as written, I reluctantly agree with the decision. But for me the t-shirt was a missed opportunity for engagement.
What I’m always on the lookout for with students is the teachable moment. Next week I will be having coffee with one of the most outspoken conservative students on campus. He has a reputation for taking very public rabidly anti-gay positions and I’m meeting with him to discuss same-sex marriage. I’m not interested in shutting him up; I’m interested in understanding where he’s coming from and changing his mind. And if I can’t change his mind then I want for the two of us to figure out how we can agree to disagree so that we can peacefully and even respectfully live together in the same university community.
There is reason for optimism. Just yesterday I read of the Utah theater owner who refused to show Brokeback Mountain sitting down in a meeting with about 30 University of Utah students, faculty and administrators who shared their stories of what it’s like to be gay. This is the way I want to win; this is the world I want to live in. Watch the video. This is good important stuff.
In my meeting with the conservative student if I model a, dare I say, tolerant and respectful behavior I have every right to ask for and expect it in return. And that has been my experience so far. I guess a court victory is reason to whoop it up and celebrate and party (and get blog traffic and raise funds), but I’m not sure it’s always the way to a better world.
Note: I’m not linking to the blogger source for the Utah story because he chooses to call the theater owner a bigot. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: I refuse to use the easy seductive name-calling “bigots,” “moonbats” and “wingnuts” language. I try not to link to it either. (Except this once!)
Friday, April 21, 2006
More on intolerance of intolerance
Details of the lawsuit claiming that the GA Tech Safe Space initiative denies conservative students their free speech rights are in SoVo this morning. I note that complainants “are represented by the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund.” Outside agitators!
Detailed in the suit are two specific instances in which the plaintiffs allege their freedom of speech was suppressed.
During a protest of a campus play, “The Vagina Monologues,” the two students were “ordered to cover material portions of a written protest of the controversial, ideologically-charged play,” according to the lawsuit.
[ADF senior legal counsel and leader of the organization’s Center for Academic Freedom David] French said the sign contained “some of the racy quotes from the play,Ã¢â‚¬Â� and that portion is what the administration “demandedÃ¢â‚¬Â� be covered.
Malhotra did write a commentary on the play, titled “The Feminist Mistake,” which ran on the Young America’s Foundation website on March 6.
“Similar to the tactics of Communism, behind the fragile faÃƒÂ§ade of equality and neutrality, the leftist agenda is most destructive to the women it presumes to protect,” Malhotra wrote.
The second instance cited by Malhotra and Sklar in the suit focused on campus police shutting down the College Republicans’ “diversity bake sale.”
The anti-affirmative action fundraiser featured a sliding scale for baked goods. For example, organizers charged white students $1 for a cookie while blacks and other minorities were charged between 25 and 50 cents. Some items were strictly for minorities with white students unable to purchase them. The event was to call attention to the unfairness of affirmative action, according to organizers nationwide. [...]
The ADF is suing four other universities in federal court dealing with freedom of expression on school campuses, French said. They include UNC-Chapel Hill, the entire Cal State system, Penn State and Temple University.
SEE ALSO: Intolerance of intolerance can get you sued, “When Christians talk about secular Americans being “tolerant” of Christian beliefs, they are misusing the word. What conservative Christians want is not toleration, but social control.”
Gay Paris mayor visits San Fran
The mayor of Paris arrived in San Francisco on Wednesday to kick off a three-day visit marking the 10th anniversary of the sister-city relationship between the two cultural hubs.
While in town, Bertrand DelanoÃƒÂ« will meet with local leaders to talk about interests shared by the cities, including how to combat homelessness and discrimination and a desire to connect their growing digital media industries.
DelanoÃƒÂ«, 55, is also one of the few high-profile politicians in France to be openly gay. [...]
In Paris, the fact that DelanoÃƒÂ« is openly gay is a nonissue, his aides said Wednesday. He made his sexual orientation public when a journalist asked him about it before he was elected mayor.
But in 2002, DelanoÃƒÂ« was stabbed in the stomach by a man who said he didn’t like homosexuals or politicians. He returned to work a few weeks later.
Not surprisingly he’s a propponent of same-sex marriage in predominately Catholic France.
The Google juggernaut
Now let’s just take a second to comprehend those numbers.
We are witnessing a business that is approaching $10bn in annualized revenues growing at 80% year over year.
And we are looking at a business with operating margins of almost 50%.
How to compete?
Enter eBay. It’s being reported on the WSJ website that eBay is in talks with Yahoo! and Microsoft regarding some kind of alliance to ward of competitive pressure from Google.
I expect a version of the Journal article on their public site in a day or so. For now, Money has a tad bit more the alliance story.
UDrive: online storage for everyone
Microsoft is planning to use its server farms to offer anyone huge amounts of online storage of digital data. It even has a name for that future service: Live Drive. With Live Drive, all your information - movies, music, tax information, a high-definition videoconference you had with your grandmother, whatever - could be accessible from anywhere, on any device.
Google apparently has similar plans. An internal memo accidentally posted online in March spoke of company efforts to “store 100 percent of user data” and mentions an unannounced Net-storage system called GDrive.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Sex in the MRI
I passed on posting when it made the rounds a couple weeks ago, but referenced it tonight with friends who asked both why - “To find out whether taking images of the male and female genitals during coitus is feasible...” - and how:
The participants (pairs of men and women) were recruited by personal invitation and through a local scientific television programme. Respondents were invited to participate if they met the following criteria: older than 18 years, intact uterus and ovaries, and a small to average weight/height index. The experimental procedure was explained in a letter sent to respondents along with an informed consent form. Participants were assured confidentiality, privacy, anonymity, and the possibility of withdrawing from the study at any time. After written informed consent had been obtained, the participants were invited to come for a scan when the equipment was available on a Saturday.
The tube in which the couple would have intercourse stood in a room next to a control room where the searchers were sitting behind the scanning console and screen. An improvised curtain covered the window between the two rooms, so the intercom was the only means of communication. Imaging was first done in a 1.5 Tesla Philips magnet system (Gyroscan S15) and later in a 1.5 Tesla magnet system from Siemens Vision. To increase the space in the tube, the table was removed: the internal diameter of the tube is then 50 cm. The participants were asked to lie with pelvises near the marked centre of the tube and not to move during imaging.
Here are the images. In telling my friends I remembered, correctly, that the study depended on Viagra to succeed. One delicious detail I wish I had remembered is about the single couple that was able to, er, perform without it:
The reason might be that they were the only participants in the real sense: involved in the research right from the beginning because of their scientific curiosity, knowledge of the body, and artistic commitment. And as amateur street acrobats they are trained and used to performing under stress.
Wish I could think of something funny to say from the gay angle.
Giuliani’s new pals: Santorum & Reed
People keep saying Giuliani is liberal on social issues. I answer, “Everything’s relative.” In laying the groundwork for a presidential run, it looks like he’s distancing himself from any pro-gay positions:
On Tuesday, Giuliani appeared at a rally for U.S. senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a vocal opponent of gay rights, who has said that states should regulate homosexuality “the same as they regulate human sexual contact with animals.” Giuliani said of Santorum, “In any age you don’t have many leaders. Senator Santorum is one of them.”
Today we find that “Giuliani’s hugely popular among Georgia Republicans: A recent poll found he is their top choice for President, beating Arizona Sen. John McCain by 7 points.” What’s he doing with that poularity?
Possible presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani - who was just snubbed by fundamentalist Rev. Jerry Falwell - is headlining a fund-raiser for former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed.
Reed said Giuliani will appear at a May 28 lunch to benefit his run for Georgia lieutenant governor. Tickets go as high as $5,000, for the added perk of a photo-op with Giuliani and Reed.
“He believes they have common ground,” said Giuliani spokeswoman Sunny Mindel.
It seems literally impossible to me that this could work. I was talking recently to a pretty major figure in the religious right about the 2008 race for a freelance piece I’m working on, and he told me there’s just no way for Giuliani to generate any support at all from the party’s base. Even if Giuliani were to completely reverse course and embrace positions that he’s always opposed, religious-right voters would ask how such a transformation is possible, and would no doubt prefer a candidate who’d been conservative all along.
Michelle Malkin and the Dog Poop Girl
There has been at least one unpredictable side effect: fierce witch hunts. In a case that caused national soul-searching, a woman riding the subway with her dog last year refused to clean up after it defecated in the car. One angry passenger photographed her with a camera-equipped cellphone and later posted the photos. Soon, all of wired South Korea seemed to be on the hunt for ‘’Dog Poop Girl.’’ Several misidentified women were verbally attacked, and finally the woman herself was identified on the Internet and humiliated as the topic of countless online discussions.
I’m reminded of that passage because we’re in the middle of our own misbehaving moment right now. Michelle Malkin posted personal information then refused to take it down and now, apparently, one of my fellow lefty bloggers has posted hers.
I’m not going to get into the merits of either side of the argument, and choose to discuss instead how the situation illustrates the need for us to negotiate and establish the norms for our technologically enhanced information environment.
I believe we’re in an era of information promiscuity; that we have to learn the difference between “public” as in “not secret” and “public” as in “made easily accessible to the world.” This era will pass. But I like the South Korean model:
Such problems have led the government to consider curbing anonymity on the Internet, a proposal that has drawn strong opposition here. In another response, in February, the government released a 256-page ‘’IT Ethics’’ textbook for junior and high school students. Teachers are expected to spend 30 hours instructing from the textbook, whose chapters include ‘’Healthy Mobile Phone Culture,’’ and ‘’Protecting Personal Privacy.’’
I don’t kid myself that it will ever happen here. I’d like to see university administration and faculty work with students to address the issues raised by Facebook and MySpace. Whether they do or not I have more optimism for these young people working it out and establishing norms than I do for today’s bloggers.
Then again, maybe this is the process. But I like the tried and true idea of standards-setting, negotiating and establishing norms and “Best Practices” guidelines. I’d join and support and proudly display the seal of a non-profit blogger organization set up to develop some.
Most blog traffic is trash. I’ve written about it before, and it’s not exactly news. Everyone knows it. If you look at your stats, you’ll learn that half of your traffic--or a lot more than half--comes from search engines. People type in things like “nipple schoolgirl goat priest molasses,” and they end up at your site for ten seconds, and they leave, hopefully disappointed. Those people aren’t “visitors,” no matter how much you like to think they are. They’re just lost. And they don’t click ads. Even worse, you may be getting traffic because big bloggers link to you. That doesn’t make you a success. It makes you a pet, living on table scraps. When the scraps stop coming--when you say the wrong thing and stop toadying--those tasty scraps can stop coming, instantly, and then you find out how much readers really care about you.
Via James Joyner:
Graham’s larger point, that bloggers interested in making serious money from their writing should probably augment their blogs with freelance writing and/or pursuit of book deals, is almost certainly right. Blogging is often, to use Steven Taylor’s taglines, a first, rough draft of one’s thoughts. It gives writers a chance to flesh out things they’re thinking about and get feedback. It also helps build name identification. Only a lucky few will ever make a living just posting things on a blog, though.
My blogging is not to make money; I blog to engage in the public debate. But more, blogging for me is a deliberative process to document, develop and deepen my thinking. So my posts are not just the first rough drafts of my thoughts.
I have made a career of promoting the use of media by amateurs for civic engagement. When I started out the technology of choice was television; now it is more broadly defined and facilitated by the Internet.
That amateur civic engagement in the public issues of the day is, for me, the most important attribute of the blogosphere.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Local sites earn big bucks
“The big sites are hiring more salespeople and getting bigger—and shockingly more profitable,” reads the executive summary. “In fact, the largest local website in most markets will generate more in ad sales this year than the largest-grossing radio station in that market.” You can download a PDF of the executive summary for free, but the full survey will cost ya.
I hardly listen to radio anymore; I listen to podcasts. For me, Podcasts are to radio as TiVo is to television.