aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Why they really want to shut down MySpace
this really hot business man in a pinstriped suit walked past me, said hello, and doubled back. he asked me my name and introduced himself (jack burkman, government relations strategies), asked where i went to school, etc, gave me his card, and asked me to call him. i later texted him and never could get rid of him again. he thought he talked to me on the phone several times, but he never did. i always made kat or kristin be me. he told kristin about how he really enjoyed my outfit (TITS GALORE) and that i was beautiful, etc. by the end of the night (5 am or so), he was offering to pay for our room and give us a thousand dollars if two of us would [Read on]
Now this is the same Jack Burkman who was all over cable [here and here] defending Ann Coulter’s trashing of the 9/11 widows. In her post dispelling any doubts that it really was Burkman, Wonkette adds a new dimension to that Coulter defense.
Crooks and Liars finds that Burkman is a registered lobbyist for the Family Research Council, “I wonder what [FRC President] Tony Perkins will say?” And The American Street found this from Burkman on a June 5 MSNBC appearance:
But this issue [the anti-Gay Marriage Amendment] and the moral fabric of the country is five times as important as the war on terror and the war in Iraq combined . . . . Americans didn’t wake up this morning being afraid of a Lesbian couple. No, but that Lesbian couple is free to do what it wants. It’s not oppressed in America. But that doesn’t mean somehow that it has some right to join what the majority does. What Patrick is arguing here is not only does he want that Lesbian couple to be free from oppression, which it deserves, I agree, but he demands! He demands to this country and this society that they be let into what the majority is doing!
So this Republican strategist wants us free to have sex with him but banned from legally recognized committed relationships. I’m only guessing what his position would be on the Republican sponsored Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006. My position is suggested here and here.
Flower child v social networked child
Earlier in the week I quoted danah boyd, a PhD candidate at the School of Information, University of California-Berkeley, from an interview with Henry Jenkins, co-director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT, conducted via email by Sarah Wright of the MIT News Office on MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA). (Click here for a printable, PDF version.)
I finished it last night, I urge you to read it too. A boomer with my own - shall we say colorful? - history, I find this point by Henry particularly resonant:
[M]ost parents understand their children’s experiences in the context of their memories of their own early years. For the baby boom generation, those defining experiences involved playing in backyards and vacant lots within suburban neighborhoods, socializing with their friends at the local teen hangout, and participating within a social realm which was constrained by the people who went to your local school. All of that is changing. Contemporary children and youth enjoy far less physical mobility, have less time outside of adult control, and have fewer physical places to hang out with their friends.
Much of this activity is being brought online. What teens are doing online is no better and no worse than what previous generations of teens did when their parents weren’t looking. The difference is that as these activities are being digitized, they are also being brought into public view. Video games bring the fantasy lives of young boys into the family room and parents are shocked by what they are seeing. Social networks give adults a way to access their teens’ social and romantic lives and they are startled by their desire to break free from restraints or act older than their age. Parents are experiencing this as a loss of control but in fact, adults have greater control over these aspects of their children’s lives than ever before.
Indeed, one of the biggest risks of these digital technologies is not the ways that they allow teens to escape adult control but rather the permanent traces left behind of their transgressive conduct. Teens used to worry about what teachers or administrators might put in their permanent records since this would impact how they were treated in the future. Yet, we are increasingly discovering that everything we do online becomes part of our public and permanent record, easily recoverable by anyone who knows how to Google, and that there is no longer any statute of limitations on our youthful indiscretions.
Emphasis mine. My experience is that what’s true for baby boomer parents is also true for baby boomer college professors and administrators: we’re too often focused on the wrong problem! Caught up in our own shock, how can we effectively help teens take appropriate precautions?
My goal is to understand and support, and then from that understanding supportive place look for and find the teachable moment. I’ll be very interested in the MacArthur Foundation development of an ethics casebook:
Right now, MySpace and the other social network tools are being read as threats to the civic order, as encouraging anti-social behaviors. But we can easily turn this around and see them as the training ground for future citizens and political leaders. Young people are assuming public roles at earlier and earlier ages. They are interacting with larger communities of their peers and beginning to develop their own styles of leadership. Across a range of issues, young people are using social network software to identify and rally like-minded individualism, forming the basis for new forms of digital activism. Current research shows that teens who participate in massively multiplayer games develop a much stronger ability to work in teams, a greater understanding of how and when to take appropriate risks, an ability to rapidly process complex bodies of information, and so forth. At the same time, these teens are facing an array of ethical challenges which are badly understood by the adults around them. They have nowhere to turn for advice on how to confront some of the choices they make as participants within these communities. Part of the work we will be doing for the MacArthur Foundation involves the development of an ethics casebook which will help parents, teachers, and students work through some of these issues and make sensible decisions about how they conduct their online lives. We see this kind of pedagogical intervention as far more valuable than locking down all public computers and then sending kids out to deal with these issues on their own.
ALSO WATCH FOR: Henry has a book book coming out this summer, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, which he intends to provide some frameworks for thinking about the new forms of participatory culture which are emerging in the digital era.
Friday, June 16, 2006
The value of the destroyer of weeds, thistles, and thorns
Some Apple fans were upset by last week’s anti iTunes demonstrations. I didn’t expect mainstream media coverage, and completely missed this Business Week story. I came upon it while reading EFF Staff Technologist Seth Schoen’s thorough, thoughtful and complete response to those who plead Apple’s innocence. I quote only the last in his list:
The Microsoft alternative is worse: The Free Software Foundation—which organized the Defective By Design campaign—is certainly not promoting Microsoft or any of Microsoft’s products as an alternative to Apple’s. And they’re certainly not being paid by Microsoft to criticize DRM! Although this campaign is focused on the problem of DRM in general, anyone who assumes that criticism of Microsoft means “use Apple” or criticism of Apple means “use Microsoft” has gone astray. Indeed, the assumption that Microsoft’s DRM is the same kind of problem as Apple’s is what led Defective By Design to launch its first protest at Microsoft’s WinHEC conference.
In a sense, the fame of the “Mac/PC” platform rivalry—just like the “Democrat/Republican” rivalry—is an obstacle to learning about new issues. If anyone criticizes Apple for labor issues (as a recent article did) or Microsoft for using digital rights management, the prominence of “Mac vs. PC” makes the general public assume that the critic wants everyone to switch to “the other platform”. This also makes it easier to dismiss a critic of anything as an opportunistic proponent of “the other side” (even in cases where the critic supports a third alternative or no particular alternative at all). Thus any critic of a Democrat can be dismissed by Democrats as a “Republican” and any critic of a Republican can be dismissed by Republicans as a “Democrat”. This particular protest campaign was organized by advocates of free software (if you like, of “Linux"), but Robert Green Ingersoll properly said that “[t]he destroyer of weeds, thistles, and thorns is a benefactor whether he soweth grain or not.” In my office at EFF we have a lot of Mac users who are quite attached to what Apple has accomplished, but who think that Steve Jobs is doing wrong by users with FairPlay.
Perhaps our culture would do well to give more respect to would-be “destroyer[s] of weeds, thistles, and thorns” without presuming that they are selling something, or even that they have an alternative in mind at all. Certainly all kinds of advocates want to be able to point out problems with existing business practices, even if they don’t know an alternative that they would rather you buy.
On the FCC’s “regulatory regime of censorship”
The President signed legislation increasing tenfold the “indecency” fines the FCC can impose on broadcasters. Unfortunately, it’s definitely Mission Not Accomplished in terms of giving parents real solutions to the problem of objectionable content on the airwaves. In fact, this is Mission Accomplished only for the few Americans who polls show want the government to control what everyone else gets to watch on television. Everyone else loses.
We’ll likely never again see on broadcast TV a repeat of a nearly three decade old show that featured several minutes of bare breasts, rape, bondage, whips, violence, the N Word. Yet Roots was beloved by America’s families and was even required watching in some schools. Is keeping Roots—or a similar quality, challenging, controversial program—off broadcast TV a “victory” for America’s children and families, as some lawmakers describe this increased censorship? Hardly. Yet that’s what will be the result.
What’s remarkable about this whole “indecency” debate is that our nation’s broadcasters, cable operators, regulators, and politicians all agree that parents should make the decisions as to what is appropriate for their children to watch. Yet they have combined to deny parents what they need to make those decisions: the freedom to choose the programming they want, and the power to avoid the programming they don’t want.
The result is a regulatory regime of censorship, which is bad enough, but catastrophic and unconstitutional when done so politically, arbitrarily, and unrestrainedly as is the practice with today’s FCC.
Instead of censoring, how ‘bout letting parents pick and choose what channels they want to subscribe to on their cable and satellite systems, so the ones they don’t want never make it into their homes? Channel Choice (aka Cable a la Carte), when combined with TiVo, the V Chip, onscreen Program Ratings, other tools, and good ol’ fashioned parental vigilance would constitute a more individualized and comprehensive family-by-family approach to the problem of objectionable content than today’s chilling and blunt one-size-fits-all censorship.
A side effect of media concentration:
As we found in our recent research study, when Clear Channel took advantage of "deregulation" to expand from 40 radio stations to over 1200, it replaced local programming on its new stations with Howard Stern and Bubba the Love Sponge. Beware the Law of Unintended Consequences - media consolidation and concentration unleashed Howard and Bubba in many smaller, more conservative communities. Voila - a surge in complaints against stations that had never before been accused of indecency.
Six would be easier to remember
In other fake news, the day after Democrats were skewered on The Daily Show, Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland went on The Colbert Report and was asked to name the Ten Commandments. Now everybody’s talking about it. Crooks and Liars has the video:
Colbert: You have not introduced a single piece of legislation since you entered Congress.
Westmoreland: That’s correct.
Colbert: This has been called a do nothing Congress. Is it safe to say you’re the do nothingest?
Westmoreland: I, I, ..Well there’s one other do nothiner. I don’t know who that is, but they’re a Democrat.
Colbert: What can we get rid of to balance the budget?
Westmoreland: The Dept. of Education.
Colbert: What are the Ten Commandments?
Westmoreland: You mean all of them?--Um… Don’t murder. Don’t lie. Don’t steal Um… I can’t name them all.
Steve Benen of The Carpetbagger Report observes:
Westmoreland co-sponsored a measure that would require Congress to post the Ten Commandments in both chambers… For what it's worth, I used to debate this issue quite a bit when I worked for a certain organization, and I found the question — "can you name the Ten Commandments?" — to be very valuable. Every time I'd do a radio show with someone who wanted the government to endorse and promote the Decalogue, I'd just ask them to name each of the Commandments. They never could. I always wondered why they just didn't bring a copy with them, but it apparently never occurred to them. (They'd sometimes turn the question around and ask me if I could. I kept a copy on my desk.)
OH Dem: “Let the drunks have their time on the road”
In Fake News News: The Daily Show Tim Russert interview was a bore. But the Jason Jones Donkey Showdown piece is a must see. In it he visits “prototypical” Erie County Ohio Democratic precinct captain candidate Jean Miller:
JONES: Tell me about your fundraising.
MILLER: Uh, I didn’t do any fundraising.
JONES: What did you do to campaign.
MILLER: I didn’t.
JONES: Why am I voting for you then?
MILLER: Well I don’t know, you’ll have two to pick from.
JONES: You’re certainly a Democrat alright.
Then there’s this:
MILLER: Nine out of 10 people are drunk driving from four o’clock Friday afternoon to like 5 PM Sunday. So I said, decriminalize it. I think we should make that period of time legal for anyone to drive drunk. The fact is, it’s legal to drink alcohol, we not legalize it… You’ve got all them other days for them to get to soccer. Let us have two days, you can have the other five.
From there, Jones visits a bar to conduct focus groups. And the Indecision 2006 fun has just begun.
A sidebar in the NetBob story:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Launched in Minnesota in 1936 with the advertising slogan ‘Tastes fine, saves time’
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ More than five billion cans have been made worldwide
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Hormel halted UK production of Spam, moving the operation to Denmark, in 1997
Click here to join the SPAM FAN CLUB.
JWT buys up Huff Post adspace
JWT, the oldest advertising agency in the United States, has purchased all the ad space on The Huffington Post home page for one week, starting tomorrow. The Web site will showcase nine of JWT’s best television commercials with links, so that visitors can send the spots via e-mail or instant message.
JWT is hoping that the year-old Huffington Post can deliver that elusive phenomenon: a viral marketing sensation, in which consumers spread marketing messages to each other over the Internet.
The agency also wants to show that it is hip and modern enough to compete in the nontraditional category that has obsessed the advertising industry.
At The Huffington Post, the agency has found an experienced partner in Jonah Peretti, a founding partner of the Web site, who is overseeing the technical aspects of the JWT project.
Mr. Peretti’s name has been tied to viral media since 2001, when he traded e-mail barbs with Nike after the shoemaker refused to let Mr. Peretti order a pair of customized Nike iD sneakers emblazoned with the word “sweatshop.” Much to Nike’s chagrin, the e-mail exchange quickly spread over the Internet, and is considered an early example of how viral media can work.
Now Mr. Peretti and The Huffington Post are hoping to make a handful of previously run commercials from JWT alluring enough that visitors will not only click and watch the spots, but will also e-mail them to others.
NetBob’s Spam victory
NetBop Technologies developed a filter it called “bopspam” aimed at combating unwanted e-mails, known as spam.
But US-based Hormel Foods, which makes the meat product of the same name, initially objected to its registration.
Experts believe the Swansea company is the first in Europe to secure such a written trademark using the word spam.
NetBop’s managing director, Andrew Downie, 24, said his company first applied to register the name in October 2004.
Hormel’s trademark lawyers opposed the application, but at a preliminary hearing the Patent Office indicated it would rule in NetBop’s favour.
Hormel dropped its opposition and NetBop has finally received its trademark certificate.
Via Fixing Email.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
The BEST MOVIE AD EVER!
It’s exactly the kind of movie-going I miss; a small quirky fun gay summer movie for Pride. If I were in New York I’d be there TOMORROW! (Despite the lackluster Blade review. Here’s the trailer and clips.)
On the other hand I do have to admit that even though I’ve already won the game I have my own mostly unfabulous social life right here in Middle Georgia! I guess I’ll just have to put it on my NetFlix que.
LATER: E -GADS! I have unwittingly offended MY FIRST ADBLOGS ADVERTISER EVER! I apparently completely forgot that I had a previous advertiser; and he was ever so generous in his comments (below). Is it any wonder I’ve had only two paid AdBlogs advertisers in 3 months???
That’s what Andrew Sullivan calls the Nigeria we’ll see if the campaign to criminalize homosexuality succeeds:
Section 7 of the proposed law, pioneered and supported by Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola, states the following:
* Registration of gay organizations by the Nigerian government is prohibited.
* “Publicity, procession and public show of same sex amorous relationship” in the media is prohibited.
* Gay organizations are prohibited, as is “procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private”. Violators are subject to 5 years’ imprisonment.
Much more here.
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?
What’s a portal?
I’m not now. Jason apparently is; he’s building a new AOL portal:
AOL TODAY WILL RELAUNCH NETSCAPE.COM as a collaborative news portal along the lines of the popular Digg.com. Weblogs co-founder Jason Calacanis, who joined AOL last year, will head the project.
Similar to Digg, the new Netscape site invites users to submit news stories that they think are noteworthy, and to vote on them; the most popular stories will be given prominent placement on the site. Netscape additionally will include a social networking component, providing users with their own pages where they can share articles they find intriguing with others.
But--in a twist absent from Digg--AOL has hired a team of bloggers and editors, which it calls “anchors,” to follow up on select stories with further reporting. For instance, the AOL anchors might return to sources and pose follow-up questions, or expand on a piece by adding more information about the subject.
The requisite Jupiter quote:
“They’re definitely carving out new territory for themselves,” [senior analyst Joe] Laszlo said..."The new Netscape is probably going to be a pioneer.”
I’m pretty jaded about the “readers vote on” notion of “collaboration.” The whole portal concept has to be re-invented, the way “community” has become “social networking.” There may well be something really new here, but I not seeing it.
Human footballers aren’t the only ones in Germany getting a little bit of lovin’ this time of year. More than 400 teams from 36 countries have shown up for the annual RoboCup, which pits robot against robot in soccer matches across 11 leagues. The goal, as always, is to have a humanoid robot team capable of beating the human World Cup champs in 2050, but right now a lot of the robots are just happy to stand up. Current favorites in the humanoid competition is a team from Japan, while the returning champs from Germany are expected to do well in the four-legged league. Live commentary for some matches will be provided by Sango and Ami, two robots from Carnegie Mellon who explain rules, analyze fouls and call out the goals with their very own “personalities.” No word if former star RoboVie-V will be making an appearance among the robot horde, but the real question is: can they dance like Peter Crouch?
Here are photos from CNet.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Raymond Rodriguez might have expected some feedback. When he showed up at the Boise Gay Pride parade carrying a sign that read “Homosexuality is an abomination,” he was not, as you might imagine, the most popular guy on the block. But now he’s filed a report with the Boise Police Department because he said he was attacked by gay-rights supporters who thought his presence was, to say the least, inappropriate.
Rodriguez, who is a regular fixture outside Planned Parenthood (BW, News, “The Sign People,” March 24) said he was “hit, spit on, and attacked with metal crutches.”
Maybe we can get him interviewed on Fox News by Julie Bandera.
The Right never did like the EPA
Now they have another reason: their calls brought down the phone system, but didn’t stop sponsorship of gay pride events:
[A] deluge of phone calls triggered by an “action alert” from the anti-gay American Family Association temporarily disabled the phone system at the agency’s Office of Civil Rights.
The e-mails flooded the offices of several EPA divisions, including the civil rights unit, which issued an announcement in May recognizing June as Gay & Lesbian Pride Month at EPA.
“We’re moving ahead with these events as planned,” said EPA spokesperson Bob Zachariasiewicz. “There are no plans to change anything.”
During those rare moments I find myself feeling uneasy about the course of the war on terror, I take consolation by looking back at America’s unconditional victories in our two previous crusades against abstractions—the war on poverty and the war on drugs. As far as poverty goes, it seems incredible now to think that there was ever a time when Americans had to worry about health insurance, affordable housing or quality education. No wonder we’re deconstructing safety nets faster than a bankrupt circus.
As for drugs, that victory has been even more decisive. Ever since Richard Nixon ordered an “all-out war, on all fronts” against narcotics over a 1972 Oval Office cocktail with H.R. Haldeman, the drug menace has been swept from the land. One need only look at the millions of POWs we have taken in daring raids on such hotbeds of enemy activity as Detroit, East St. Louis, Ill., and Newark, N.J. Or the 10-year prison sentence handed down to enemy propagandist (and MC5 manager) John Sinclair for selling not one, but two joints. Or the imprisonment of comedian Tommy Chong for engraving his countenance on glass bongs—a man who, as his prosecutor pointed out in her closing arguments, “was a bad example because he made fun of drugs and cops in his movies.” You’d have to be smoking something to worry that a government that conducted these campaigns will falter in securing us from Islamic terrorists.
OK, seriously—do people actually believe in the war on drugs anymore? Did they ever? If so, I suggest they read Dean Kuipers’ “Burning Rainbow Farm: How a Stoner Utopia Went up in Smoke,” which captures the paranoid absurdity of our current drug laws as well as does any book in recent memory. This well-researched, compassionately written study of the 2001 killings of pot activist Tom Crosslin and his lover, Rollie Rohm, by FBI and police snipers on their Michigan farm is a memorable portrait of the war on drugs at its ugliest. It is also a timely reminder of the dangers inherent in ceding our basic civil rights to combat a nebulous menace. Read on.
Service lets people rip videos
I just think, if you make art of any kind, any media, and put it out into the world, part of the bargain of cultural production is you don’t get total control. If you want total control, as I’ve said many times, keep it in your bedroom. Play it for your friends. That’s it. That’s how you keep complete omnipotent godlike control of your work. But if you’re going to put it out there...you just don’t get total control. And if you think you do then I’d say you’re not really thinking for the good of culture and art you’re just thinking like a corporate lawyer.
He explains he’s not anti-moneymaking, he just believes sampling is “utterly none of my business.” Watch it. I agree completely and totally.
I was reminded of Hosler’s comments as I read this, from CNet:
A pair of services run by one person in Australia are giving people new ways to access and use video content from sites like YouTube and Google Video, and copyright holders may well find themselves up in arms about it.
Known as Peekvid and Keepvid, the sister services are designed, respectively, to aggregate and index copyrighted YouTube content, and allow users to rip content from YouTube, Google Video and other services to their hard drives.
Now, we’re always told that the market gives us what we want. Does anyone doubt that this is what we want??? What do you think the chances are that we’ll be allowed to keep it?
The slippery slope
I’m looking forward to the slide down it!
High-achieving college kids are reportedly [link] dipping into “brain-steroids”—drugs like Ritalin and Provigil, which focus attention. No one really knows how widespread this practice is, since it’s uncommon for anyone to get busted for peddling smart drugs, and the side-effects of “abuse” are minimal.
This strikes me as the canonical cognitive liberty fight: why shouldn’t you be allowed to make an informed decision about what state of mind you’d like to be in? Why will the law allow people to kill brain and liver cells with stupefying booze, but not smart drugs?
You know I agree. I’m all for enhancement. Which reminds me, I’ve passed The Age of Spiritual Machines on to friends and am knee deep in The Singularity is Near. I’ll be 90 in 2045 and, like Ray I, plan to do what it takes to be here.
For more, here’s Kurzweil in The Great Debate - Enhancing humans: how far do we go? with Baroness Susan Greenfield. And here’s Kurzweil with Dr. Moira Gunn talking about the book.
21st Century “flyers on corkboards”
Craigslist is brilliant because his main activity is something that posters are inherently promiscuous with—personal spamming. In any other context, the bulk of the material on Craigslist would be considered spam. In my email box, on another message forum, heck even on one of google’s spam-ridden Blogger sites. The posts are the equivalent of those indiscriminately posted flyers on corkboards at universities.
Buy my mattress..need a ride to Chicago...come see my band. People put these flyers up fully expecting only a handful to see or care about them enough to rip off a tab with the phone number at the bottom. The expectation of response is low but it’s cheap to try.
Now Craig’s lead-into-gold trick is that he gets his posters to accurately classify their spam. Into 160 categories. Holy Toledo Jacob Nielsen. You can’t have a pulldown with 160 things in it. Half of your users wouldn’t get a pulldown with 3 things in it right. Ah, but it’s not a pull-down. Half of the entire homepage is a giant selector devoted to classifying posts.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Academic Freedom again
Michael BÃ©rubÃ© spoke on Saturday to the annual meeting of the American Association of University Professors. The text of his remarks is rich and important reading. A brief excerpt from the intro:
Academic freedom is under attack for pretty much the same reasons that liberalism itself is under attack. American universities tend to be somewhat left of center of the American mainstream, particularly with regard to cultural issues that have to do with gender roles and sexuality: the combination of a largely liberal, secular professoriat and a generally under-25 student body tends to give you a campus population that, by and large, does not see gay marriage as a serious threat to the Republic. And after 9/11-again, for obvious reasons-many forms of mainstream liberalism have been denounced as anti-American. There is, as you know, a cottage industry of popular right-wing books in which liberalism is equated with treason (that would be Ann Coulter), with mental disorders (Michael Savage), and with fascism (Jonah Goldberg). Coulter’s book also mounts a vigorous defense of Joe McCarthy, and Michelle Malkin has written a book defending the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War Two. In that kind of climate, it should come as no surprise that we would be seeing attacks on one of the few remaining institutions in American life that is often-though not completely-dominated by liberals.
Meanwhile, nemesis David Horowitz, featured prominently in the speech - “Horowitz was a member of the extremist fringe thirty years ago when he was hanging out with late-model Black Panther Party crackpots, and he’s a member of the extremist fringe now. He’s merely exchanged fringes.” - was on Larry King yesterday defending Ann Coulter:
HOROWITZ: I think that Ann has done is a service. And I don’t think people understand it, obviously, at all. There’s a great human—there’s a great human tragedy. There’s also a political argument. It wasn’t Ann who crossed the line. It was these widows who crossed the line. They have called Bush a liar. They have accused him of being responsible for 9-11. And then you want to say --
KING: Hold on, Georgette. Don’t speak --
HOROWITZ:—then you want to say, well, hold them harmless. They can go out and call the president a liar and make him responsible for all these deaths, but you can’t respond to them. That’s her point --
And she, and he, are free to express it.
Peer to Patent
The US Patent System was designed to encourage innovation and science by granting special rights to ideas that were novel, useful, non-obvious and well-specified. Unfortunately the system has devolved in to one granting patents on things that already exist, are trivial or useless. Furthermore companies have figured out how to use “the system” to prevent innovation by patenting competitive ideas so they will not be developed. Others seek patents similar to existing ones for the sole purpose of litigating with anyone having patented success.
Part of the problem is that the system relies on overwhelmed, inexperienced and underpaid patent examiners. Since their determinations are final and not subject to review by the agency itself, their rulings have far-reaching implications. Modern technology has proven that collective intelligence is highly effective in solving these problems. Beth Noveck outlines her proposal to revamp the existing patent system using proven techniques like collaborative filtering and peer review.
It’s a great idea. Eminently reasonable. Sponsored by IBM! I still am not optimistic that we’ll ever make it happen. Here’s the Peer to Patent Project website.
Hm. I’ll have to try this:
[A] new form of self-expression that connects people through visual symbols (personal tags). Our mission is to give you a fun and easy way to create these symbols that tell your story, let you decide how you want to share them, and use them to connect with people anywhere in the world.
How do I use Mikons?
1. Sign up to establish your unique login ID and password.
2. Use the Mikon MachineÃ¢â€žÂ¢, our cool vector drawing tool, to create the symbols that tell your story. You can design from scratch or remix other graphics to build your personal set of Mikons.
3. Publish your Mikons and choose how you would like to share them, possibly with your family, friends, and co-workers; or you can always keep them private.
4. Connect with other Mikoners, search for people with similar Mikons, join a community, email a fellow Mikoner, view your friends list and much more!
Helmet laws & drug laws
You know, I think it’s downright stupid to ride a motorcycle without a helmet but I don’t give one whit about passing a law to make you wear one.
I don’t want to use the state to save you from yourself (hence my stand on drug laws*) but I do think the state has an interest in your behavior if that behavior impacts me (hence my stand on drug laws*).
* Linked quotes from former chief of the Seattle Police Department Norm Stamper in the LATimes last year, “I don’t favor decriminalization. I favor legalization, and not just of pot but of all drugs, including heroin, cocaine, meth, psychotropics, mushrooms and LSD.”
Online predator stats
I have finally gotten around to reading Henry Jenkins (co-director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT) and danah boyd (PhD student at the School of Information, University of California-Berkeley) on the Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006.
I’ll have much more to say once I finish and digest the full interview, for now here’s danah on the distortion of statistics:
The media often reference a Crimes
Against Children report that states one in five children receive a
sexual solicitation online. A careful reading of this report shows
that 76% of the unwanted solicitations came from fellow children.
This includes unwanted date requests and sexual taunts from fellow
teens. Of the adult solicitations, 96% are from people 18-25; wanted
and unwanted solicitations are both included. In other words, if an
18 year old asks out a 17 year old and both consent, this would still
be seen as a sexual solicitation. Only 10% of the solicitations included
a request for a physical encounter; most sexual solicitations are
for cybersex. While the report shows that a large percentage of youth
are faced with uncomfortable or offensive experiences online, there
is no discussion of how many are faced with uncomfortable or offensive
experiences at school, in the local shopping mall or through other
mediated channels like telephone.
Although the media has covered the
potential risk extensively, few actual cases have emerged. While youth
are at minimal risk, predators are regularly being lured out by law
enforcement patrolling the site. Most notably, a deputy in the Department
of Homeland Security was arrested for seeking sex with a minor.
The fear of predators has regularly
been touted as a reason to restrict youth from both physical and digital
publics. Yet, as Barry Glassner notes in The Culture of Fear,
predators help distract us from more statistically significant molesters.
Youth are at far greater risk of abuse in their homes and in the homes
of their friends than they ever are in digital or physical publics.
RELATED: Salon on MySpace or OurSpace:
The past few years have seen an explosion in the number of schools taking to the Web to find out what students are saying and doing. And punishment has followed, from a Pennsylvania school that suspended one student for creating a parody MySpace profile of his principal to a California school that suspended 20 students simply for viewing one student’s MySpace profile, which contained threats against another student. And some public school systems, like Illinois’ Community High School District 128, are even taking steps to monitor everything their students say on sites like MySpace.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Fake news going too far
I’ve been smitten with Robert Thompson’s formulation of the fifth estate, “When the fourth estate is doing such a horrible job of what it is supposed to be doing, the fifth estate - comedy - steps in.”
On the other hand, fun can go too far. Lost Remote:
The Comedy Central fake news show, Dog Bites Man, is getting a bite taken out of it by the Oregon attorney general’s office. The fake TV crew shot a documentary at Portland State U. while pretending to be a real TV news crew. The Oregon AG is protesting the tactic, saying the group is doing “damage.”
I have serious problems with false releases:
Comedy Central has excused the ruses by saying that each participant is required to sign a general film release in advance. The release signed by Smoller listed only the production company, Central Productions, and said nothing about the comedy show or the network.
Emphasis mine. Never sign a release in advance. I always ask interviewees to sign after I shoot. And you have every right to limit use.