aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, May 08, 2006
Never forget: C-SPAN is a cable company
If it were a different kind of non-profit, it might have behaved differently:
On Wednesday, C-Span, the nonprofit network that first showed Mr. Colbert’s speech, wrote letters to the video sites YouTube.com and ifilm.com, demanding that the clips of the speech be taken off their Web sites. The action was a first for C-Span, whose prime-time schedule tends to feature events like Congressional hearings on auto fuel-economy standards.
“We have had other hot - I hate to use that word - videos that generated a lot of buzz,” said Rob Kennedy, executive vice president of C-Span, which was founded in 1979. “But this is the first time it has occurred since the advent of the video clipping sites.” [...]
[A]s became clear later in the week, this was a business decision, not a political one. Not only is the entire event available to be streamed at C-Span’s Web site, c-span.org, but the network is selling DVD’s of the event for $24.95, including speeches and a comedy routine by President Bush with a President Bush imitator.
And C-Span gave permission to Google Videos to carry the Colbert speech beginning Friday.
Welcome Guest Bloggers!
I am thrilled to introduce my terrific guest blogger line-up:
Basil of Basil’s Blog: Basil and I probably don’t see eye to eye on many political issues, but he somehow stumbled on to my little blog very early on and has been its biggest booster ever since. I’ve referred to him as my blogfather for he has taught and guided, encouraged and chided and, more than he knows, kept me going. Basil is returning for his third guest blogging stint.
Harry of The Kudzu Files: I found The Kudzu Files before I started blogging; his was an inspiration that got me going. You’ll find his Care and Feeding of a Blog in my sidebar. A thoughtful writer on his own blog and a regular commenter here, Harry and I are probably pretty politically close on the major issues of the day.
Rachel of Tinkerty Tonk: I’ve become familiar with Rachel through my honorary membership in the Raging RINOs. She’s a librarian and I’m a librarian groupie (I work in a university library). I share her love of words! Check out her Blog Interview at BasilsBlog. My blog and hers were both launched in the same month, so we share a blog birthday.
Augusto of Queer Beacon: Augusto lives in Seattle but is visiting home in Brazil so will start out his guest stint blogging from there. A relative newcomer, he began his blog in February (another February blog baby!) and has been the source of many a good post here. He’s married under Canadian law to a New Yorker of Irish descent. Both he and his husband are lawyers, but Augusto, like me, is planning to go back to school to become an academic.
I’m leaving on a jet plane
But I do know when I’ll be back again: June 1.
I’m off to the Czech Republic accompanying students to do various video projects on a study abroad program. We’ve got cameras, microphones, a light, an audio mixer, laptops and a big ol’ firewire hard drive.
One of the projects is a video blog using blogger and YouTube. We’ll do a photography project using Flickr. We’ll also do more formal documentary work and compare and contrast our experiences with each of the various projects.
One of the goals, beyond developing their skills and documenting the experience from a student perspective, is to come up with a template to help interested faculty incorporate these technologies into their study abroad programs.
I’m not sure what the Internet access will be like in the various places we’ll be visiting, or if I’ll have the time to pop in here and post from time to time. If I do, I will. If not, please enjoy the guest blogger line-up and I’ll look forward to be back blogging full-time again in June!
60 Minutes on Sally Mae’s student turkeys
Everything that’s wrong with government is demonstrated in this piece on Sallie Mae.
They “privatize” student loans and gift a company protection from both competition and default, and do it all in the guise of educating students when, in fact, they are indenturing them. The closing lines:
It’s a system that Congress created with good intentions, to help kids go to college, but it has ended up saddling hundreds of thousands with debt while guaranteeing that a lender like Sallie Mae can become what Fortune Magazine says is one of the most profitable companies in the world.
“How do you lose in a game like that? It’s a great business model. I win from here; I win from there. It’s the protected market,” says Elizabeth Warren.
“It’s not a free market?” Stahl asks.
“It’s a market in which the protection goes to the lender,” Warren replies. “And the students get served up like turkeys at the Thanksgiving dinner.”
Students on Kaavya Viswanathan
As spring semester winds to a close on Harvard’s campus, the disgraced sophomore is generating as much chatter as are final exams and summer internships.
Many students express sorrow for Viswanathan, saying her actions appear as naive as the book-smart but clueless protagonist of her novel.
Deena Shakir, a sophomore who befriended Viswanathan during their freshman year, describes the daughter of Indian immigrants as unassuming and outgoing. “She’s intelligent and mature beyond her age,” says the 20-year-old from San Jose, Calif. “You could tell she’d been brought up by parents who taught her well.”
Yet there’s also ample disdain. Some students believe Viswanathan was caught short-stepping a calculated effort to parlay her Harvard status into the latest hot young “chick lit” novelist. Some also worry the incident could seriously sully Harvard’s reputation.
Moreover, at a school where super overachievers are the norm, jealousy over Opal’s release has given way to considerable schadenfreude over Viswanathan’s troubles. “Most people who have judged her think she’s guilty,” says YiDing Yu, 21, a junior and economics major from Orlando. “The evidence is pretty condemning.”
In the article Peter Osnos says she’s an “immature and misguided teenager who got swept up in a race she wasn’t ready for.” I’m not so sure she’s even that.
She’s a product (victim?) of our media machine that likes to report her (alleged) half-million dollar contract and wants a young genius author and, as I said when noting Malcolm Gladwell’s coming to her defense, she’s a cog in the machine that produced this book.
The cause I suspect is hinted at by Dr. Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, a recognized world leader in the study of personality, and author of Mindset—The New Psychology of Success in this outstanding Tech Nation podcast where she comments on our misguided model of 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… [it] 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.[...]
[clip] 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.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Site posting is down
Drat! I just authored a brilliant post called “Colbert watching, dog whistling & the rise of the 5th Estate.” Evidently it was a tad long. I get a 500 Server Error when I try to post.
I have a ticket in to my hosting service who tells my that I’m hitting my server memory limit and another to Movable Type to try to figure out how to fix it. I’m hoping this brief message will get through. If it does and you have any idea how I can fix my blog, please email me!
UPDATE: ICDSoft upped the memory limit on the server for me, which has resolved the symptom, not the problem. The problem, apparently, is my huge category index pages. I’ve been trying to find a way to paginate those indexes for a long time.
Movable Type has warned me that my database could become unstable and crash the whole site. I’ve asked them about the category index page issue; they’ve yet to respond.
Colbert watching, dog whistling & the rise of the 5th Estate
Is Comedy Central becoming for the Left what Fox News is to the Right?
If you do a search on “Colbert” on Technorati, you’ll notice that most of the people now talking about Colbert are users of services like Myspace and Livejournal—teenagers, housewives, and people who don’t visit places like Daily Kos on a regular basis. The fact that his speech has penetrated into the nonpolitical blogosphere is pretty significant. [...]
Also interesting is that really, the right blogosphere just is not talking about him - again, see Technorati. Very few entries slamming him.
The weird thing, which we have already noted here by criticizing the MSM’s ignoring of the Colbert incident, is that for the people in power (and their sycophants, the Right), this was pretty much a non-event. Nothing worth their attention, much less anger. But on the other side, “our” side, the depth of feeling is huge. This is the exact equivalent of what happens when the Right sends out a dog whistle to the Christian conservatives. The Left doesn’t hear it. (And truly, I don’t even think some of “our” people in the blogosphere are hearing the dog whistle of the Colbert incident.)
Casey quotes Yahoo’s Buzz Index:
“Ever since Stephen Colbert opened his mouth at Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner and pointedly mocked Bush in front of Bush, online buzz on the fake newsman has reached scalding temperatures.
“There’s a boulder-coming-at-Indiana Jones quality to the story now. Searches on the eyebrow-raising comedian are up 5,625% this week and picking up speed. Trajectories for “Colbert speech” and “colbert video” are racing off the chart. And “The Colbert Report,” its fan site Colbert Nation, and the newly created ThankYouStephenColbert.org also launched upward in Buzz.”
An update points to a Judybrowni comment regarding a recent AOL.com poll of the joke noting “that 32 percent of those polled think that the joke about the president’s glass being 32 percent full is not funny. Can’t buy comedy like that, people.”
Among my favorite comments were those from Robert Thompson on Radio Open Source (which, if it were just a tad more blog friendly, would provide transcripts). Thompson is Trustee Professor of Television and Popular Culture, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and Founding Director, Center for the Study of Popular Television, Syracuse University:
[34:45] I think what Colbert has proved is that Comedy has moved in as the Fifth Estate when the Fourth Estate had dropped the ball. The press, of course, as others have said, completely rolled over in the lead-up to the war and the only good commentators out there were all coming from the perspective of the support of the president - the Bill O’Reillys, the Rush Limbaughs and so forth and so on - and comedy moved into that vacuum with Jon Stewart, who really started to show his stripes in the coverage of the 2000 election, Indecision 2000 as he called it, now Colbert and even David Letterman has become politicized as a result. [...]
[44:46] When we first heard those polls that so many young people were getting all of their news from late-night comedy, we thought to ourselves, “oh, this is terrible.. how is our next generation of citizenry going to run a representative republic if all of their information is coming from Comedy Central.” You watch something like… the Sunday night thing and if you continue to watch Comedy Central shows you get a sense that boy, you know, maybe this isn’t a bad place to be getting some of our news information.
Christopher Lydon responds, “Absolutely dead on!”
Take it down?
We’re having a brunch today. The guests will likely want to see our new bathroom. In it hangs… Gay Batman.
I want to take it down. Doug says leave it.
I’m about as out as they come, but I like to respect my guests. When my mother saw it she was speechless. No small accompliishment. But what kind of accomplishment was that?
UPDATE: It stayed up. A non-event.
Advertisers: try attraction, not coercion!
I don’t get it, what are advertisers thinking? I dabbled in advertising so have some small awareness of the dynamic and how it works. Capturing viewers when they are in ”avoidance mode” is just plain stupid, a waste of time if you ask me. Annoyed viewers are going to buy your product???
I thought the goal was to attract adherents?
Now the way to do that is to be creative, end clutter, leverage your fan base, and, most significantly, give us the ads we want when we want them. I have no problem with - in fact, I advocate - making the advertising deal explicit. The problem for the content industry is that we may well find the customer base doesn’t believe the value of that content is quite what the industry believes.
Maybe there should be less of it.
We hear over and over the fallacy that they’re just giving us what we want but it looks to me like we want something different. After all, we’re flocking to YouTube. My well-founded fear is that it is precisely the content companies who are claiming to give us what we want who aim to kill it.
We didn’t ask for hundreds of channels that we don’t watch. We want to watch what we want when we want it and I’m quite confident - as our burgeoning technology-driven entertainment budgets attest - that we are willing to pay for it. The problem is a staid established content industry that wants to (feels entitled to!) make money on what it’s already done rather than coming up with anything genuinely innovative.
Me, I’m looking forward to the first iProgam.
Ted Turner invented cable networks when he put TBS on satellite; HBO invented pay cable when it became the first non-terrestrial broadcast TV network; someone will invent individual series syndication online and become the first non-telecast program. The technology is already in place; my hope is that this time around the content industry won’t kill it first.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Iraqi police ‘killed 14-year-old boy for being homosexual’
Human rights groups have condemned the “barbaric” murder of a 14-year-old boy, who, according to witnesses, was shot on his doorstep by Iraqi police for the apparent crime of being gay.
Ahmed Khalil was shot at point-blank range after being accosted by men in police uniforms, according to his neighbours in the al-Dura area of Baghdad.
Campaign groups have warned of a surge in homophobic killings by state security services and religious militias following an anti-gay and anti-lesbian fatwa issued by Iraq’s most prominent Shia leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
At 14 turning tricks for money to support his poverty-stricken family, he is a double victim (and not necessarily gay). The US position?
[The co-ordinator of a group of exiled Iraqi gay men who monitor homophobic attacks inside Iraq Ali] Hili, whose Abu Nawas group has close links with clandestine gay activists inside Iraq, said US coalition forces are unwilling to try and tackle the rising tide of homophobic attacks. “They just don’t want to upset the Iraqi government by bringing up the taboo of homosexuality even though homophobic murders have intensified,” he said.
A number of public homophobic murders by the Badr militia have terrified Iraq’s gay community. Last September, Hayder Faiek, a transsexual, was burnt to death by Badr militias in the main street of Baghdad’s al-Karada district. In January, suspected militants shot another gay man in the back of the head.
...hard to imagine accurately:
“Teenagers get tattoos because they are confident that DEATH ROCKS will always be an appealing motto,” [Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert] writes. “Smokers who have just finished a cigarette are confident for at least five minutes that they can quit and that their resolve will not diminish with the nicotine in their bloodstreams.” For another, as Gilbert shows through a series of logic games and diagrams meant to dupe the reader (they worked on me), we misperceive reality - as philosophers since Kant have recognized - and then use those misperceptions to build a mistaken view of the future.
Events that we anticipate will give us joy make us less happy than we think; things that fill us with dread will make us less unhappy, for less long, than we anticipate. As evidence, Gilbert cites studies showing that a large majority of people who endure major trauma (wars, car accidents, rapes) in their lives will return successfully to their pre-trauma emotional state - and that many of them will report that they ended up happier than they were before the trauma. It’s as though we’re equipped with a hedonic thermostat that is constantly resetting us back to our emotional baseline. [...]
Gilbert argues that what he calls the “psychological immune system” kicks into gear in response to big negative events (the death of a spouse, the loss of a job) but not in response to small negative events (your car breaking down). Which means that our day-to-day happiness may be predicated more strongly on little events than on big ones. On its face, this sounds preposterous, but Gilbert cites study after study suggesting that it’s true.
I’ve been there:
Interestingly, the clinically depressed seem less susceptible to these basic cognitive errors. For instance, healthy people can be deluded into greater happiness when granted the mere illusion of control over their environment; the clinically depressed recognize the illusion for what it is. All in all, it’s yet more evidence that unhappy people have the more accurate view of reality - and that learning how to kid ourselves may be a key to mental health.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Good for Patrick
Andrew Sullivan gets it exactly right:
[Patrick Kenedy] has acknowledged his addiction problem; he is going into rehab; and Kennedys have human rights too. They’re human beings as well as celebrities and politicians. I guess I’m biased because I’m old friends with some members of the family. But I have deeply admired how some Kennedys have sustained sobriety. It’s not easy for addicts. And as a society, we should do more to support sobriety and less to demonize and criminalize addicts. Patrick deserves no legal special treatment; he shouldn’t be let off the hook if he did something wrong. But he also needs help. I hope he gets it.
I don’t count any Kenedy’s among my friends, but I’ve known and loved a good many addicts. The criminal model does no good, the medical model is no better. Andrew’s right, we’ve got to understand rather than demonize addiction and act to support and sustain sobriety.
The aural equivalent of Christo
I’ve loved Times Square since I was a boy; I like it just as much today in its gussied up “Disneyfied” version as I did then. The Neuhaus piece was was there from 1977 to 1992 and reinstalled in 2002:
Pedestrians hurrying over a grate in the triangular median where Broadway and Seventh Avenue converge in Times Square, just south of 46th Street, rarely seem to notice anything out of the ordinary.
But Max Neuhaus hopes that, subliminally, their lives are being changed.
Mr. Neuhaus is a sound artist, a trained musician and formerly famous percussionist who now shapes what he calls intangible sound in space, rather than the tangible sound of a composer working in time. ‘’Times Square’’ is, if not necessarily his masterpiece, then at least his only work still up and running in his native United States.
Or down and running, in this case. The piece consists of sound generators and a loudspeaker installed in a subway ventilation chamber, which is covered by the grate that pedestrians scurry over.
What people hear, if they hear anything, is a dappled, organlike drone, several overlaid pitches that shift as pedestrians pace about the grate, depending on which overtones are reinforced by the resonances. The sound is beautiful if concentrated on, but lost in the din of New York if it isn’t. If you hear it, you keep hearing it: every sustained drone from traffic and machinery sounds like an after-echo. ‘’Once you’ve been there for 10 minutes,’’ Mr. Neuhaus said, ‘’you hear the work for the rest of the day.’’
Amidst teenagers trying to get on MTV and tourists waiting to get discount tickets to Broadway shows, sandwiched between the New York Times and Conde Nast Buildings, the subtle tones that emit from Neuhaus’s installation are easy to miss when there is so much already going on. Nonetheless, Neuhaus provides a deep and complex sensory experience. With our aural senses piqued, Times Square heightens the sensory experience of being in Manhattan. The sounds, the smells, the visuals of the city are all more intense because Neuhaus enhances the sounds of the city. Times Square demonstrates just how our position in life is understood by both our visual senses and our aural senses.
The next time we’re in New York I’ll be taking Doug there.
An organ tribute to John Cage
I’ll be going on an organ tour next week in the Czech Republic. Doug, an organist, would love it; to me, most any organ recital feels like John Cage’s “As Slow As Possible.” The organ’s not my instrument
Like the imperceptible movement of a glacier, a chord change was planned for Friday. Two pipes were to be removed from the rudimentary organ (which is being built as the piece goes on, with pipes added and subtracted as needed), eliminating a pair of E’s. Cage devotees, musicians and the curious have trickled in to Halberstadt, a town about two and a half hours southwest of Berlin by train known as the birthplace of canned hot dogs and home to a collection of 18,000 stuffed birds. [...]
For anyone keeping records, the performance is probably already the world’s longest, even though it has barely begun. The organ’s bellows began their whoosh on Sept. 5, 2001, on what would have been Cage’s 89th birthday. But nothing was heard because the musical arrangement begins with a rest - of 20 months. It was only on Feb. 5, 2003, that the first chord, two G sharps and a B in between, was struck. Notes are sounding or ceasing once or twice a year - sometimes at even longer intervals - always on the fifth day of the month, to honor Cage, who died in 1992.
Here’s an audio slideshow. Doug goes to Germany in June. Maybe he’ll visit.
Apple & the RIAA
The other day I pointed to Apple for saving the 99Ã‚Â¢ song. Today we know those songs drive sales of the iPod; but some see a future where that is turned around. Apple’s planning for that future; is the RIAA?
The RIAA is screwing up the music business. Their hatred of Napster has led to a jihad on free mp3s that is slowly but surely killing the music business. The major labels will continue to merge, consolidate, and put out increasingly irrelevant music.
Something needs to change and this is what needs to happen. The RIAA needs to drop its fight against free mp3s. They need to accept that music sold online needs to be as portable as music sold offline is.
I mean how stupid is it to continue to sell CDs with no copy protection on them but to DRM the hell out of online music… The RIAA needs to accept that some proportion of their customer base will consume pirated music. They need to just eat that as the cost of doing business.
They need to focus on the majority of music consumers who will pay for music, but want a better deal, and want the music portable so they can play it wherever they want.
The RIAA needs to stop playing into Apple’s hand.
Maybe, but I see the relationship as more symbiotic. I’ll agree that Apple’s hanging on as long as it can but Apple knows its monopoly is temporary; the RIAA doesn’t have a clue.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
I don’t watch Lost and didn’t read about last night’s episode until today. PVRblog calls it http://www.pvrblog.com/pvr/2006/05/tonights_lost_i.html” target="_blank">Tivo-proof:
Tonight’s episode of Lost—a show already so deeply embedded with secret signs and clues—will feature details about the episode sprinkled within ads themselves. This is both brilliant and frightening. I can’t recall wanting to watch commercials other than the annual Super Bowl but tonight I’ll actually refrain from hitting the FFWD button so I don’t miss anything.
Rumsfeld spars with critic in Atlanta
You’d expect he’d get a warmer welcome here in the South:
ATLANTA, Georgia (AP)—Protesters repeatedly interrupted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during a speech Thursday, and one man, a former CIA analyst, accused him of lying about Iraq prewar intelligence in an unusually vociferous display of anti-war sentiment.
“Why did you lie to get us into a war that caused these kind of casualties and was not necessary?” asked Ray McGovern, the former analyst.
“I did not lie,” shot back Rumsfeld, who waved off security guards ready to remove McGovern from the hall at the Southern Center for International Studies. (McGovern talks to CNN about Rumsfeld)
Before Rumsfeld’s War in Irag I honestly supported his notions of transforming the military. They haven’t worked. But I give him some serious credit for facing his critics:
President Bush seldom faces such challenges. Demonstrators usually are kept far from him when he delivers public remarks.
Rumsfeld has been interrupted by anti-war demonstrators in congressional hearing rooms as he has delivered testimony to lawmakers in recent months. [...]
When security guards tried removing McGovern, the analyst, during his persistent questioning of Rumsfeld, the defense secretary told them to let him stay. The two continued to spar.
“You’re getting plenty of play,” Rumsfeld told McGovern, who is an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq.
Responding to another protester who also accused Rumsfeld of lying, the secretary said such accusations are “so wrong, so unfair and so destructive.”
Crooks and Liars has the video.
Mary Cheney: The book blitz is on
I’d cash in too; even though I know you can’t square a circle.
On GMA just now, when asked if her dad was not on the ticket in the 2004 campaign would she have supported President Bush? She answered, “You bet!”
But last night John pointed to this:
She says she considered quitting her role as campaign adviser over the issue of gay marriage, but Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter Mary Cheney tells ABC News “Primetime” anchor Diane Sawyer her sexuality has never created problems within her family. Mary Cheney discussed the campaign, her feelings about President Bush, life with her partner of 14 years, and what it was like to come out as gay to her parents. Watch the full interview with Mary Cheney on “Primetime,” Thursday at 10 p.m. ET. “I struggled with my decision to stay on the 2004 campaign,” Cheney told “Primetime.” Her personal challenge came when President Bush said the nation must defend the sanctity of marriage. When Bush proclaimed it in the State of the Union, she refused to go. Mary Cheney, a senior campaign advisor, was finally taking her stand. “I didn’t want to be there. No one banned me from being there. But I didn’t want to stand up and cheer,” she said. She says the president offered to let her give a public statement in disagreement, and her father indicated publicly he disagreed with his boss on the issue. She declined but says she did talk with her family about quitting the campaign.
I don’t think the whole thing is timed to undercut Bill Frist on gay marriage, though I hope the religious right does. You can read it before you watch it here. And Raw Story has excerpts of Vanity Fair’s Mary Cheney article.
The Diocese of California may well elect a gay Episcopal Bishop (three of the seven candidates are openly gay) which elicited this:
The Rev. Paul Zahl, dean of the conservative Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pa., likened the election of a gay bishop in California to “a terrorist bomb, which is timed to destroy a peace process.”
Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria and leader of the conservative wing of the communion, recently threw his prestige and resources behind a new law that criminalizes same-sex marriage in his country and denies gay citizens the freedoms to assemble and petition their government. The law also infringes upon press and religious freedom by authorizing Nigeria’s government to prosecute newspapers that publicize same-sex associations and religious organizations that permit same-sex unions. [...]
Surprisingly, few voices—Anglican or otherwise—have been raised in opposition to the archbishop. When I compare this silence with the cacophony that followed the Episcopal Church’s decision to consecrate the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, a gay man who lives openly with his partner, as the bishop of New Hampshire, I am compelled to ask whether the global Christian community has lost not only its backbone but its moral bearings. Have we become so cowed by the periodic eruptions about the decadent West that Archbishop Akinola and his allies issue that we are no longer willing to name an injustice when we see one?
I also feel compelled to ask the archbishop’s many high-profile supporters in this country why they have not publicly dissociated themselves from his attack on the human rights of a vulnerable population. Is it because they support this sort of legislation, or because the rights of gay men and women are not worth the risk of tangling with an important alliance?
Millions of dollars contributed by a handful of donors have allowed a small network of theologically conservative individuals and organizations to mount a global campaign that has destabilized the Episcopal Church and may break up the Anglican Communion.
The donors include five secular foundations that have contributed heavily to politically conservative advocacy groups, publications and think tanks, and one individual, savings and loan heir Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr., who has given millions of dollars to conservative causes and candidates.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Dean fires Dems’ gay outreach chief
What’s going on with the Dems and the gays? I don’t get it. SoVo:
Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean on May 2 fired the party’s gay outreach advisor Donald Hitchcock less than a week after Hitchcock’s domestic partner, Paul Yandura, a longtime party activist, accused Dean of failing to take stronger action to defend gays.
Dean immediately hired gay former Democratic Party operative Brian Bond to replace Hitchcock, according to DNC spokesperson Karen Finney, who called Bond a “proven leader.” [...]
Hitchcock’s dismissal came after Yaundura created a stir among party activists, both gay and straight, by sending an open letter on April 20 to gay Democrats criticizing Dean and the party for not getting involved in state ballot measures seeking to ban gay marriage.
Yandura charged that the DNC failed to counter efforts by Republicans to promote the anti-gay ballot measures as a wedge issue to win elections. He suggested that gays withhold donations to the Democrats until the party formally addresses issues he raised.
Matt’s right, “There isn’t a strategy for dealing with those ballot measures, and we need one.”
From my vantage point here in the red, red center of the real rural South, I honestly believe that this issue could backfire on the Republicans. I’d like to see a Democratic strategy with the guts to take it on.
Was Colbert funny?
It’s silly to debate whether Colbert was entertaining or not, since what’s “funny” is so subjective. In fact, let’s even give Colbert’s critics that point. Clearly he didn’t entertain most of the folks at the dinner Saturday night, so maybe Scheiber’s right—he wasn’t “entertaining.” The question is why. If Colbert came off as “shrill and airless,” in Lehman’s words, inside the cozy terrarium of media self-congratulation at the Washington Hilton, that tells us more about the audience than it does about Colbert.
Colbert’s deadly performance did more than reveal, with devastating clarity, how Bush’s well-oiled myth machine works. It exposed the mainstream press’ pathetic collusion with an administration that has treated it—and the truth—with contempt from the moment it took office. Intimidated, coddled, fearful of violating propriety, the press corps that for years dutifully repeated Bush talking points was stunned and horrified when someone dared to reveal that the media emperor had no clothes. Colbert refused to play his dutiful, toothless part in the White House correspondents dinner—an incestuous, backslapping ritual that should be retired. For that, he had to be marginalized. VoilÃƒÂ : “He wasn’t funny.”
This is a battle that can’t really be won—you either got it Saturday night (or Sunday morning, or whenever your life was made a little brighter by viewing Colbert’s performance) or you didn’t. Personally, I’m enjoying watching apologists for the status quo wear themselves out explaining why Colbert wasn’t funny. It’s extending the reach of his performance by days without either side breaking character—the mighty Colbert or the clueless, self-important media elite he was satirizing. For those who think the media shamed itself by rolling over for this administration, especially in the run-up to the Iraq war, Colbert’s skit is the gift that keeps on giving. Thank you, Stephen Colbert!
Nancy Grace on Capitol Hill
Nancy Grace testifies before Congress today against the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet. On GMA this morning she said she wants parents to be able to - for a fee, of course - get a detailed listing of every page visited by their child on the Internet when they get their bill. “It would be so simple… just like you get with your cell phone...”
Rebecca Dana writing in the New York Observer tell us that the Georgia native and CNN cable-star superhero is a former prosecuter turned media crime-fighter who roots her “crusader for victims’ rights and professional vilifier of the criminal-defense industry” persona in the 1979 murder of her fiance in Valdosta, Georgia.
But it turns out that this “Bill O’Reilly of legal analysis” has played fast and loose with the facts. Much of the story she tells isn’t true:
Nancy Grace was engaged to a man named Keith Griffin. He was murdered in Georgia. And the man who killed him is serving a life sentence. In that, Ms. Grace’s version lines up with the official records from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, newspaper articles from the time of the murder, and interviews with many of those involved in the case.
But those same sources contradict Ms. Grace when it comes to other salient facts of the crime and the trial-the facts that form the basis of Ms. Grace’s crusade against an impotent, criminal-coddling legal system.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Griffin was shot not by a random robber, but by a former co-worker.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ The killer, Tommy McCoy, was 19, not 24, and had no prior convictions.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Mr. McCoy confessed to the crime the evening he was arrested.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ The jury convicted in a matter of hours, not days.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Prosecutors asked for the death penalty, but didn’t get it, because Mr. McCoy was mildly retarded.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Mr. McCoy never had an appeal; he filed a habeas application five years ago, and after a hearing it was rejected.
Ms. Grace has also misreported the date of the incident-it was in 1979, not 1980-and has given Griffin’s age as 25 when it was 23.
The justice system, in other words, apparently worked the way it was supposed to.
On Gay Ads in Straight Places
Two gay guys holding hands. He reads some age issues into it that wouldn’t otherwise have occured to me. His friend in the advertising industry thinks he’s reading too much into it.
I don’t much care, in that I’m not in the market for a new computer, let alone a Mac. I do, however, wonder why advertisers would employ gay themes when designing ads not specifically targetted to gay audiences.
I happen to live in the ‘Ew, gays are icky’ South but I watched all of the ads and there was nary a homosexual overtone to be found. (Macworld apparently missed it too.) It took some time to even find the guys holding hands (duh, networking) but, going with it for a moment, I would see such an association for Apple as a positive one.
Living here in rural Georgia I’m not nearly so plugged into this dynamic as I once was, but in my day everyone knew that gay people were the leading indicator of which was the hot club, the best restaurant, the most promising neighborhood, the latest trend and the highest style in town.
Richard Florida wrote the book that documented and quantified the phenomenon, The Rise of the Creative Class: Why cities without gays and rock bands are losing the economic development race. My first encounter with his thinking was this 2002 Washington Monthly article:
[I]n 1998, I met Gary Gates, then a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon. While I had been studying the location choices of high-tech industries and talented people, Gates had been exploring the location patterns of gay people. My list of the country’s high-tech hot spots looked an awful lot like his list of the places with highest concentrations of gay people. When we compared these two lists with more statistical rigor, his Gay Index turned out to correlate very strongly to my own measures of high-tech growth. Other measures I came up with, like the Bohemian Index---a measure of artists, writers, and performers---produced similar results.
Talented people seek an environment open to differences. Many highly creative people, regardless of ethnic background or sexual orientation, grew up feeling like outsiders, different in some way from most of their schoolmates. When they are sizing up a new company and community, acceptance of diversity and of gays in particular is a sign that reads “non-standard people welcome here.”
A gay association works only to enhance and affirm Apple’s association with style and leading edge technology. If it affirms people like Joyner’s antipathy to Macs that’s no great loss.
Now I hasten to add that I take Joyner’s point on the Dolce & Gabbana ads (his post has the whole series) in GQ and Esquire and raise him one: these ads do not represent me or my lifestyle and do a disservice to gay people.
I am a big advocate of the notion that gay is not just about sex. That ad is merely the gay equivalent of a “Chicks dig guys who drink Miller Lite!” ad, but placing it in straight publications only serves to affirm stereotypes that I would like to move away from.
NOTE: be sure to read the comments on Joyner’s post. Very interesting back and forth.
Linda Paey on Limbaugh
Limbaugh is not suspected of selling pills, and is instead given rehab/medical treatment, in circumstances that are similar to Richard Paey. Yet my husband, Richard, a typical Joe, was never offered rehab, he was instantly charged with selling pills and was given 25 years in prison. There is an obvious problem with enforcement. Many thanks for having focused attention on his case.
Contrast how they arrested Richard to how they dealt with Limbaugh. From the 60 Minutes piece, Prisoner of Pain:
“They had guns and ski masks and, like, five, six people ran into the house and half of them took the kids and my mother in law. And the other one grabbed me,” says Linda Paey. “And Rich kept on saying, ‘Please, call my doctor. Can you call my doctor?’ You know? ‘Everything’s fine. Call my doctor.’ And they said they already have.”
Indeed they had. The doctor was originally a suspect.
Linda, I only wish there were more that I could do.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Genarlow Wilson loses his appeal
The news is not good:
Genarlow Wilson’s case inspired a key exception to a tough Georgia sex crimes law, but he continues to lose his own legal battle.
Wilson was 17 when he had oral sex with a 15-year-old girl. His attorney says the girl agreed to it, but Wilson was sentenced to ten years in jail for aggravated child molestation.
Now, the state appeals court has thrown out Wilson’s challenge to that sentence.
Wilson’s mother, Juannessa Bennett says that while her son should be punished for the oral sex on New Year’s Eve 2003, he shouldn’t be forced to serve the ten year term of a sexual attacker.
Bennett points to trial testimony that the 15-year-old girl was sober and willing
“She had nothing to drink, she had nothing to smoke. She even admitted that she had lied about her age—she came forward and she said that,” Bennett said.
His legal team is now preparing a Motion to Reconsider and continues to fight on.
Needless to say his mother is devastated by the news and the shock to know that her son is sentenced to ten years in prison for a consensual sexual act and her son was the reason to change the law in Georgia to prevent other teens from going through this same problem.
Your prayers and support are very much needed.
Sign the online petition.