aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, July 31, 2006
Bye Bye Birdie
I missed this last week:
A decorated sergeant and Arabic language specialist was dismissed from the U.S. Army under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, though he says he never told his superiors he was gay and his accuser was never identified. [...]
On December 2, investigators formally interviewed Copas and asked if he understood the military’s policy on homosexuals, if he had any close acquaintances who were gay, and if he was involved in community theater. He answered affirmatively.
I only found it today because Justin Rood has more:
Just got off the phone with Former Sgt. Bleu Copas, the Arab linguist who got booted from the Army over allegations of homosexuality—from an anonymous informant.
He told an Associated Press reporter that an Army investigator asked him if he had ever participated in community theater. An Army public affairs chief today told me he doubted any such thing had happened.
Copas told me he sticks by his story. “It was part of their investigation. That was one of their questions,” he said. But the question didn’t come completely out of the blue.
“The informant, whoever he was, had a conversation with me on an internet chat room, and I mentioned involvement in community theater—I had rehearsal, or something,” Copas explained.
So did the investigator ask the question in order to identify you as the person with whom this anonymous informant had chatted? Or because community theater involvement was evidence of homosexual tendencies?
“I think a little of both,” said Copas, “but I would just be guessing.”
I’m guessing he’s exactly right.
Copas was discharged this January. He has moved back home, enrolled in graduate school—and joined a new community performance group, Theater Bristol, which picked him to play the male lead in its production of “Bye Bye Birdie,” he said. Performances start next weekend.
Mankind yesterday, today & tomorrow
When I imagine mankind 100 years from now, I am informed by mankind 100 years ago:
New research from around the world has begun to reveal a picture of humans today that is so different from what it was in the past that scientists say they are startled. Over the past 100 years, says one researcher, Robert W. Fogel of the University of Chicago, humans in the industrialized world have undergone “a form of evolution that is unique not only to humankind, but unique among the 7,000 or so generations of humans who have ever inhabited the earth.”
The difference does not involve changes in genes, as far as is known, but changes in the human form. It shows up in several ways, from those that are well known and almost taken for granted, like greater heights and longer lives, to ones that are emerging only from comparisons of health records.
The biggest surprise emerging from the new studies is that many chronic ailments like heart disease, lung disease and arthritis are occurring an average of 10 to 25 years later than they used to. There is also less disability among older people today, according to a federal study that directly measures it. And that is not just because medical treatments like cataract surgery keep people functioning. Human bodies are simply not breaking down the way they did before.
TV on the Net
Jeff Pulver has compiled Jeff’s Quick Guide to TV on the Net:
During the past twelve months, as the momentum for Broadband TV has snowballed, an increasing number of media companies have decided to take their content and make it available for viewing on the Internet. In some cases, the content offered is “re-runs” of prime time content, in other cases the Internet is being used to channel “vintage” programming (re-runs of old programs) and there is an increasing number of cases in which new content is being developed by media companies for just the broadband Internet. By default, the viewing experience is being offered to people assuming a Windows desktop. It is the mobile users (Symbian and Windows Mobile) who are most “content-viewing challenged”. Some of the content owners are using variations of Flash and others are using Quicktime and Windows Media to deliver their content.
Some of the sites referenced restrict viewing to certain geographic areas based on their support of digital rights management. (I hope that this is simply a temporarily-limiting aberation, which will be resolved when law and policy catches up with technology and the broader good.)
Commenters have added more and Jeff promises to keep updating the list. Jeff notes, “Amongst all of the “channels” and brands referenced...Viacom appears to be the most active in the creation of broadband TV channels.”
Sunday, July 30, 2006
It depends on what the meaning of “watch” is
This is true of me:
It seems that adults in households that have digital video recorders watch less TV than adults in the general population, according to a recent analysis by Mediamark Research, an audience-measurement firm.
That finding, which comes from in-home interviews conducted by Mediamark with 26,000 adults between March 2005 and May 2006, seems to conflict with the contentions of the major broadcast networks. Researchers for the networks told advertisers in November that people in households with a DVR watched 12 percent more hours of TV a day than those without. Those researchers had argued that that tendency counterbalanced the possibility that DVR users would skip past ads.
I wonder, do all adults actually watch less TV than we think? The most obvious difference of watching TV with a DVR is that you can always choose what you want to watch, so there’s rarely any “grazing.”
One way that plays out in my house is that I don’t have the TV turned on all day like I used to. I turn it on only when I’m actually going to watch it. So it used to be on a lot more, even though I wasn’t really watching.
LATER: PVRblog has more.
Don’t buy bottled water. Or “upscale ice.”
Scott Simon on Weekend Edition yesterday:
Upscale ice is headed to a menu near you. Cubes frozen from filtered or spring water.
Companies say that these designer cubes are more healthy and better tasting than ones made from tap water, which can have a stale freezer taste and are still susceptible to bacteria. Each American now drinks more than 26 gallons of bottled water a year. So why not buy a better ice?
Stuart Levitan(ph), CEO of Water Bank of America, told the Wall Street Journal, over time, if we do this right, I believe this will be a commodity.
Yes, maybe. But water is more than a commodity, it’s a necessity. One that is in short supply for many of the world’s poor. And projects like that one serve only to exacerbate the problem.
I’ve pointed again and again to Tom Stangage’s OpEd from one year ago, Bad to the Last Drop. After a taste test to demonstrate that hardly anyone can detect a difference between tap and bottled water, he points out that there are no health or nutritional benefits from drinking bottled water over tap water and “tap water is more stringently monitored and tightly regulated than bottled water.”
And bottled water is actually bad for the environment, “It is shipped at vast expense from one part of the world to another, is then kept refrigerated before sale, and causes huge numbers of plastic bottles to go into landfills.” He concludes:
More than 2.6 billion people, or more than 40 percent of the world’s population, lack basic sanitation, and more than one billion people lack reliable access to safe drinking water. The World Health Organization estimates that 80 percent of all illness in the world is due to water-borne diseases, and that at any given time, around half of the people in the developing world are suffering from diseases associated with inadequate water or sanitation, which kill around five million people a year.
Widespread illness also makes countries less productive, more dependent on outside aid, and less able to lift themselves out of poverty. One of the main reasons girls do not go to school in many parts of the developing world is that they have to spend so much time fetching water from distant wells.
Clean water could be provided to everyone on earth for an outlay of $1.7 billion a year beyond current spending on water projects, according to the International Water Management Institute. Improving sanitation, which is just as important, would cost a further $9.3 billion per year. This is less than a quarter of global annual spending on bottled water.
I have no objections to people drinking bottled water in the developing world; it is often the only safe supply. But it would surely be better if they had access to safe tap water instead. The logical response, for those of us in the developed world, is to stop spending money on bottled water and to give the money to water charities.
LATER: Dannon water with dinner makes me a hypocrite? The water here is not drinkable and so, yes, I know that if you live in an area (Miami!) with lousy water, there’s good reason. Still I see no good coming from the further commoditization of water.
At the beach
I’m just in from a walk on the beach with the dogs. Still no modem at home and working from a Dell, not a Mac, I’m back in action - though with only Shrook.com rather than my 30 day archive I feel like a fighter with one hand tied behind his back. Don’t get me wrong, I’m good to go and happy as can be to be here!
Friday, July 28, 2006
The Great Gay Marriage Debate - Part 1a
First, thanks again to Joe who agreed so graciously to start an argument on this topic when I emailed him out of the blue a few weeks back. I truly want to understand the basis for his conclusion that gay marriage - or as Joe prefers, “marriage equality” - is right and necessary in American society today. So I use the word argument intentionally as it refers to a course of reasoning or a set of statements which lead to a logical conclusion. (Plus, tongue-in-cheek, I like the word because it sounds controversial and usually controversy draws a crowd ... or readership, lol.)
My purpose is not so much to convert you, the reader, to my point of view (although that is a given in any discussion if we’re honest). Rather I want us to understand each other’s positions, exact our own thinking on this topic, and generate further points to consider. Thoughtful comments and civil dialog are always welcome. Joe and I will cross-post our entries at each other’s blogs so that more people can participate in the discussion. Thank you in advance for joining the debate.
In light of what Joe has already written at my blog, Bloggin’ Outloud, I could simply turn this into a series of point/counterpoint posts. I’d rather not. So instead of rebutting every assertion or statement, I’ll basically take some themes, interact with them and develop a few further points for reflection. I do, however, want to react to reframing the topic as “marriage equality” in an effort “to normalize gay in every way” (Joe’s words).
The truth is marriage is not equalizing, nor should it be used as an equalizing tool in order to assuage a marginalized (or so it is perceived) constituency. For two basic reasons, which I’ll elucidate directly. My contention is that there is an inherent advantage to being married (in the traditional sense, ie, in a lifelong healthy bond between one man and one woman) and that that advantage is not only to be enjoyed by the couple but it is to be protected for the benefit of society as a whole.
Marriage is not a platform for “equal rights” or “inclusivity.” By it’s very nature it is exclusive (when two come together, 6 billion others are left out) and that has proven to be the most effective means by which the human race - and more narrowly society and culture - propagates. The most stable and foundational unit in society is the household (the Greek word is oikos) and at the core of the household is a husband and wife. Economic stability is dependent on the preservation of this unit for even our word economy “can be traced back to the Greek word oikonomos, ‘one who manages a household,’ derived from oikos, ‘house,’ and nemein, ‘to manage.’ “
A defined and static oikos benefits society by providing a stable foundation on which a nation may build; healthy marriages translate directly into healthy clans, tribes, and nations. (As to the studies Joe refers to that substantiate the normalcy of same gender relationships and the positive impact these unions may have on marriage, children, etc, I can cite opposing statistics and resources. This particular aspect to this argument probably does call for a prolonged point/counterpoint upon which I’m not inclined to expound at this point.)
It seems to me that the proponants of same gender marriage seek to normalize an unconventional expression of the family unit and thus put same gender relationships on equal footing as the traditional family structure. I believe that this is tantamount to replacing the core of the oikos; and, as I stated above, marriage should not be manipulated in this manner, for two fundamental reasons.
First, it can’t be done. Marriage is already defined as a union between one man and one woman. I admit this is a biblical proposition; and we’ll wrestle with that “500 pound gorilla” (lol) next week. However, if you’ll follow the analogy that I’ve used before, I’ll share my bias openly:
This is a biblical issue and isn’t really open to discussion. People may attempt to redefine marriage, but the genesis of the concept is found in the garden. Marriage can’t be anything else than what it already is. Gay “marriage” is a contradiction of terms.
It would be like trying to redefine a square as a shape with three sides. Despite the sincerity of the creative geometry student, we would tell her, no, what you’ve described is a triangle. Although related to a square in that it has sides, a triangle is a completely different concept. We don’t entertain the idea that this child may be right or that he has a different perspective. A square is what it is. Pass or fail.
So marriage can not be used as an equalizing tool for same gender participants because it already excludes them by definition.
Second, although I am not in Joe’s shoes of course, I contend that there is no need to seek marriage equality. Most of the benefits and perceived advantages that are enjoyed by married couples are already available to non-married individuals who seek them. Wills, living wills, trusts, living trusts, powers of attorney, check writing privileges, domestic partnership benefits, and many other forms of government and/or business practices provide a legal framework where two people can enjoy substantially the same benefits that married couples do.
Now I do support the effort of same gender couples who seek hospital visitation rights and - if not government mandated but market-inspired - “spousal” benefits at one’s place of employment. I didn’t join the boycott of Disney a few years ago because I believe if a company wants to provide benefits to whomever, they have that right. Of course, people have the right to not shop there anymore as well. The issue of benefits is a complex one yet seems at this point reasonably resolved. Therefore, due to the substantive rights already available to non-married couples, the platform of marriage need not be utilized to advance this cause.
So what is the inherent advantage that marriage (traditionally and definitionally understood) has that should be protected for the benefit of society? Honor. Husbands and wives enjoy a cultural and societal stamp of approval that other relationships do not and should not experience. As the core of the oikos (the foundational unit of our species’ stability), the husband/wife relationship serves as an inviolate standard that actually keeps society as a whole from disintegrating.
Melodramatic? Consider the logical conclusion I posited in an earlier post:
What advocates of same-gender unions don’t seem to realize is that if gender is negotiable, then so is the number. Why stop at two? Why not have 3, 5, or 25 people enter into a domestic-partnership so that everyone involved can benefit by our current laws?
Or what about the age restriction? Why 18? Or 16? Why not allow children to enter into a “marriage” with an adult? Who’s to say that this would be inappropriate? Oh, but children can’t enter contracts, you say. Why not? That’s just another arbitrary law that we’ve decided upon. Let’s change it. Children are people too.
You see, the issue is not whether a government should legislate a certain morality - all laws are enacted moral restrictions - the question is to whose moral standard do we adhere? My premise is that we should continue to honor, respect, support, and defend husband/wife marriage, otherwise we will see the breakdown of the oikos and subsequent breakdown of our civilization. I think we see the beginning signs of this already.
With regard to Joe’s final point, that homosexuality isn’t unnatural, who cares if there are instances in the animal kingdom of same sex acts and/or preferences? There is promiscuity as well. And monogamy. So what? Marriage is a gift that God has given to humanity. There is a moral basis to our relationships that is absent in the rest of creation. To argue that humanity should take our cues from other living creatures is to argue that we are merely animals ourselves.
And this premise, I suspect, will lead us into a biblical/moral discussion that is best left until next time. In fact, I think Joe and I have agreed that I will write a piece on this aspect of our dialog, post it here at his blog, and then Joe will have the opportunity to write a rebuttal piece which will be posted at Bloggin’ Outloud. Until then, gentle bloggers, the mic is open.
Doping at the Tour de France
Is this an annual ritual or what?
The provisionally disgraced Tour de France winner Floyd Landis flatly denied last night that he had taken testosterone or any other banned substance and vowed to clear his name.
The American said that his high testosterone reading after a gruelling tour stage last week had nothing to do with taking drugs and that he had always had an unusually high level of testosterone in his body.
If they can do it I can too. [I’m told I wasn’t clear. What I mean is, “If the news folks can run the same story year after year, so can I."] Here’s my entire post from last year when, upon his retirement, they accused Lance Armstrong of doping...
Lance has been dogged by accusations of performance enhancing drug use:
In the cycling chat rooms, as gossipy as you will find in any sport, there are constant debates about whether Armstrong has received artificial help to dominate a sport that has been rife with doping scandals. And now, the debate has begun about this latest move.
Seems odd timing, doesn’t it? Last month, one of Armstrong’s former personal assistants basically accused Armstrong of cheating. In court papers filed over a financial dispute between the two men, the former assistant claims he discovered a banned performance-enhancing substance in Armstrong’s apartment early in 2004.
The theory goes this way: Armstrong is trying to deflect attention from that case by making the rest of this year all about his retirement, not the alleged drug violations. A brilliant diversionary move.
I like to think that these accusations will be proven false, but I find the concept of enhancement fuzzy. And I’m not real clear on why “natural abilities” are more worthy than those you work for. It’s not like they take the drug then head to the beach. This is the reasonable result of a system of coaches, trainers, scientists and businesses creating new drugs, and fans applauding the results of their use.
On Sunday William Saletan asked, if steroids are cheating, why isn’t Lasik?
A month ago, Mark McGwire was hauled before a congressional hearing and lambasted as a cheater for using a legal, performance-enhancing steroid precursor when he broke baseball’s single-season home run record.
A week ago, Tiger Woods was celebrated for winning golf’s biggest tournament, the Masters, with the help of superior vision he acquired through laser surgery.
What’s the difference?
Good point. Saletan looks at the three objections (it’s illegal, unhealthy and cheating) handily dismissing the first two (illegality doesn’t explain why a drug should be illegal and human growth hormone is “generally considered to be safe” by the NIH) then takes on cheating:
Wait a minute. If the andro that helped McGwire hit 70 home runs in 1998 was an unnatural, game-altering enhancement, what about his high-powered contact lenses? “Natural” vision is 20/20. McGwire’s custom-designed lenses improved his vision to 20/10, which means he could see at a distance of 20 feet what a person with normal, healthy vision could see at 10 feet. Think what a difference that makes in hitting a fastball. Imagine how many games those lenses altered.
You could confiscate McGwire’s lenses, but good luck confiscating Woods’ lenses. They’ve been burned into his head. In the late 1990s, both guys wanted stronger muscles and better eyesight. Woods chose weight training and laser surgery on his eyes. McGwire decided eye surgery was too risky and went for andro instead. McGwire ended up with 70 homers and a rebuke from Congress for promoting risky behavior. Woods, who had lost 16 straight tournaments before his surgery, ended up with 20/15 vision and won seven of his next 10 events.
Since then, scores of pro athletes have had laser eye surgery, known as LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis). Many, like Woods, have upgraded their vision to 20/15 or better. Golfers Scott Hoch, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, and Mike Weir have hit the 20/15 mark. So have baseball players Jeff Bagwell, Jeff Cirillo, Jeff Conine, Jose Cruz Jr., Wally Joyner, Greg Maddux, Mark Redman, and Larry Walker. Amare Stoudemire and Rip Hamilton of the NBA have done it, along with NFL players Troy Aikman, Ray Buchanan, Tiki Barber, Wayne Chrebet, and Danny Kanell...Does the upgrade help? Looks that way. Maddux, a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, was 0-3 in six starts before his surgery. He won nine of his next 10 games. Kite had LASIK in 1998 and won six events on the Champions Tour over the next five years. Three months after his surgery, Irwin captured the Senior PGA Tour Nationwide Championship.
Sounds like performance enhancement to me.
Down and out II
You know, in some ways I am so technologically spoiled that it’s not even funny. I’ve got nearly every tool and tech toy I can handle. But, believe me, sometimes my dependence on all that technology feels like nothing more than an [expletive deleted].
You’ve already read the tale of my internet going down. Well today it got worse. First Windstream let me down again. It turns out that when they said that they’d overnight the modem, they were careful not to say that they’d send it out overnight. It would only go out overnight once the order got to the warehouse. Apparently that has yet to happen.
Now I’m going to the beach on Sunday. Lucky me. I was looking forward to it if for nothing else because the hotel has high speed Internet! But more, like any other self-respecting early 21st century technology worker, I have lots and lots of work I plan to do there, a PowerPoint presentation with plenty of video and graphics for a panel at a conference Friday not the least of it.
A few weeks ago I got a spiffy new MacBook Pro. I’ve been reading about how dazzling these machines are and my experience bears that out. So much so that I was going to fully commit to that one machine rather than being all spread out across a number of machines. Tonight. I was going to load that sucker up. And tonight… it went black. Totally and completely black. No throbbing sleep light, no pulsing power orange or green. Nothing. Nadda.
More later. If I can find an Internet connection. And a computer.
The New Yorker on Wikipedia
I love The New Yorker. I subscribe to The New Yorker. I hardly ever read The New Yorker.
Their website stinks - no RSS (nor even an email), they lock up half their content in print and have web only features that do little for me.
And it’s a crying shame! Articles like this week’s profile of Wikipedia by Stacy Schiff are not to be missed. Unfortunately its conclusion is off:
What can be said for an encyclopedia that is sometimes right, sometimes wrong, and sometimes illiterate? When I showed the Harvard philosopher Hilary Putnam his entry, he was surprised to find it as good as the one in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. He was flabbergasted when he learned how Wikipedia worked. “Obviously, this was the work of experts,Ã¢â‚¬Â� he said. In the nineteen-sixties, William F. Buckley, Jr., said that he would sooner “live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.” On Wikipedia, he might finally have his wish. How was his page? Essentially on target, he said. All the same, Buckley added, he would prefer that those anonymous two thousand souls govern, and leave the encyclopedia writing to the experts.
Over breakfast in early May, I asked Cauz for an analogy with which to compare Britannica and Wikipedia. “Wikipedia is to Britannica as ‘American Idol’ is to the Juilliard School,” he e-mailed me the next day. A few days later, Wales also chose a musical metaphor. “Wikipedia is to Britannica as rock and roll is to easy listening,” he suggested. “It may not be as smooth, but it scares the parents and is a lot smarter in the end.Ã¢â‚¬Â� He is right to emphasize the fright factor over accuracy. As was the EncyclopÃƒÂ©die, Wikipedia is a combination of manifesto and reference work. Peer review, the mainstream media, and government agencies have landed us in a ditch. Not only are we impatient with the authorities but we are in a mood to talk back. Wikipedia offers endless opportunities for self-expression. It is the love child of reading groups and chat rooms, a second home for anyone who has written an Amazon review. This is not the first time that encyclopedia-makers have snatched control from an ÃƒÂ©lite, or cast a harsh light on certitude. Jimmy Wales may or may not be the new Henry Ford, yet he has sent us tooling down the interstate, with but a squint back at the railroad. We’re on the open road now, without conductors and timetables. We’re free to chart our own course, also free to get gloriously, recklessly lost. Your truth or mine?
You have to wonder with a conclusion like that if Stacy really gets it. My favorite analogy was made, seperately, by two people who do: James Surowiecki in The Wisdom of Crowds and, more recently, by Benjamin Vershbow at if:Book. Wikipedia is like the third lifeline in Who Wants to be a Millionaire:
[T]he “ask the audience” lifeline, in which the crowd in the studio is surveyed and hopefully musters a clear majority behind one of the four answers. Here, the probability issue gets even more intriguing. Your potential fortune is riding on the knowledge of a room full of strangers.
In most respects, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” is just another riff on the classic quiz show genre, but the lifeline option pegs it in time, providing a clue about its place in cultural history. The perceptive game show anthropologist would surely recognize that the lifeline is all about the network. It’s what gives “Millionaire” away as a show from around the time of the tech bubble in the late 90s—manifestly a network-era program. Had it been produced in the 50s, the lifeline option would have been more along the lines of “ask the professor!” Lights rise on a glass booth containing a mustached man in a tweed jacket sucking on a pipe. Our clichÃƒÂ© of authority. But “Millionaire” turns not to the tweedy professor in the glass booth (substitute ivory tower) but rather to the swarming mound of ants in the crowd.
And that’s precisely what we do when we consult Wikipedia. It isn’t an authoritative source in the professor-in-the-booth sense. It’s more lifeline number 3—hive mind, emergent intelligence, smart mobs, there is no shortage of colorful buzzwords to describe it. We’ve always had lifeline number 2. It’s who you know. The friend or relative on the other end of the phone line. Or think of the whispered exchange between students in the college library reading room, or late-night study in the dorm. Suddenly you need a quick answer, an informal gloss on a subject.
I like to believe that our broadening access to communications technologies means much of our individual rich authenticity can be captured, saved and shared. And if that means a loss of technical accuracy, I’m not convinced that’s a loss of anything worth saving.
So with Wikipedia I’ll stand by my wish for a new emergence of that old oral tradition. And enjoy its honest inaccuracies along with those presented each day by both the “objective” press and the “balanced” press.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Still no Internet
I’ve been forced to read print and watch television; I’m miserable without hyperlinks!
So if you want to read something thoughtful from me, go on over to Lyn’s place at Bloggin’ Outloud and read my opening salvo in our gay marriage debate. And please, cross your fingers for me and hope that that modem gets to me tomorrow. I can hardly go another day…
Marriage Equality dialogue
Some weeks ago I got an email from a fellow blogger:
Wondering if you’d be willing to dialog over a 4 or 5 week series of blog posts about the topic of gay marriage - why you’re for it, why I’m not; attendant issues and implications; religious and cultural arguments/concerns…
I’m a former pastor, a Christian who is evangelical in doctrine. I enjoy blogging for similar reasons you pose and want to expand my thinking in lots of different areas…
My purpose is not to convert you to my way of thinking. I promise not to belittle, harass, mock, etc any of your comments or reflections or arguments. I will not question your faith and will take your statements at face value. I would like to sincerely understand what your thought processes are on this topic and will give you my sincere arguments as well - and if I pull a strawman I expect to be called on it. And vice versa.
Now that was an offer I could not refuse! Lyn had read my Why Blog? post - I blog to to stay intellectually engaged, it’s a way to document, develop, deliberate and deepen my thinking - and he asked me to live up to it.
It took a couple weeks for us to get going, but Lyn posted my opening argument on Tuesday. I hope you’ll go check it out.
It’s a bit longer than I’d like but I think it captures pretty well my current thinking on the topic. I’ll be posting Lyn’s response here in the next day or so. I hope you’ll join in with comments.
Cynthia McKinney’s going down
I know nothing from Cynthia McKinney save the crazy photos they always use in news stories about her. Those photos carry so much bias that I thought I might try to defend her with some liberal friends.
They said don’t even go there. The latest poll shows they’re not alone:
The poll shows Johnson leading McKinney, 46 to 21 percent, with a third of voters undecided. The survey recorded the responses of 489 likely voters and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 5 percent.
Run-offs are notorious for low turnout, which often makes telephone surveys unreliable. Matt Towery, CEO of InsiderAdvantage, said he was unwilling to say that McKinney was headed for certain defeat. “But is she in deep, deep, deep, deep troube? Yes,” he said.
Towery said McKinney and Johnson split the African-American vote in the district, which makes up nearly 53 percent of the electorate. But an overwhelming number of white voters surveyed, who make up 42 percent of the 4th District electorate, said they preferred Johnson.
Towery said his poll also detected some interest among Republicans in the race, which would also work against McKinney. In last week’s vote, many Republicans stuck to their own races, headlined by the confrontation between Ralph Reed and Casey Cagle in the GOP race for lieutenant governor.
“But for every Republican who voted on July 18, another was out of town at the beach,” Towery said. Anyone who did not vote on July 18 is eligible to cast a ballot in the Aug. 8 run-off.
Ed Kilgore has more on McKinney.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
The Fifth Estate skewers the Fourth
[34:45] 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.
Yesterday GMA and The Today Show both did stories on Robert Wexler playing along with Colbert on the topic of cocaine.
Last night Colbert shot back. Before bluntly endorsing Wexler - “my friend” - he went after the network news folks with a comic ferocity that was finely targeted and absolutely 100% effective.
The python that ate the electric blanket, tanorexia, uncomfortable shoes, fake flood shots, getting peed on causes stress, the chimp playing Texas Holdum… all stories he excerpted from those real news shows to illustrate the point.
A hookah’s not a bong
Somehow I had missed that they were a trend.
But it does give me reason to recall that I only learned a month or so ago how hookahs work. From an article in Slate on medicinal marijuana:
Marijuana need not be burned to release its medicinal components. When the plant is heated to a degree short of combustion, its active ingredients become vapor and are released without the accompanying smoke.
That’s the secret of the hookah - vaprization! No nasty tar and nicotine. So does that mean when you use a hookah you are not really “smoking?”
Making up with Windstream
Calmer voices prevailed today.
This morning Doug called Windstream. When he did he said that there was a long pause as the Customer Service Agent read the notes from yesterday’s series of calls. Doug asked that the agent read the notes from the last call verbatim:
Customer became upset, customer shouted. I asked him to stop but he would not.
Doug told the agent that he thought I might dispute that recollection (I would) but that he did not. And the upshot is a new modem overnighted to us, a move up to 3 MB “Tier 2” DSL and a one-year contract at $29.95. Apparently our old contract expired in June so we had moved to a higher rate.
I did discuss with colleagues this morning how, in the cold light of the day after, it does seem that I had overreacted. And I must say that I do genuinely admire that Customer Service people - who are not responsible for the problems they deal with and are hardly paid enough for what they go through - are typically able to cool and calm those difficult situations they deal with.
For the moment, I guess this is the closest I can come to an apology.
What’s a bus stop?
A federal judge Tuesday refused to extend an order blocking enforcement of a new Georgia law that bars sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of school bus stops.
U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper conceded that his order would result in more confusion over the law - other parts of which have already taken effect - and said he was “deeply troubled” by the law’s potential for displacing thousands of offenders.
However, he said blocking the bus stop law from taking effect would be premature. The law says each bus stop must be officially designated by the local school board and so far none have been authorized.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Down & out
Sitting in my car in a parking lot mooching off someone else’s internet, I brought the dogs along to keep me company. I’ve been reduced to this state of affairs by a thunderstorm last night that - after four calls and as many hours on the phone with tech support - I find has apparently knocked out the ethernet port on my DSL modem.
How did they figure it out? The ethernet light was not lit on the front of the modem. I swear to you I said as much to the first technician I talked to. Not a great introduction to Windstream.
But it gets worse. They tell me, too, that I have not purchased a support contract (I don’t recall being offered one though I have to admit that if they did I would likely have turned it down) so it will cost me $100 and take who knows how long to get it here.
Angry as all get out I demanded that my phone service and DSL service be cancelled immediately. He said I’d have to call another number. Tomorrow! It’s after business hours…
Much as I hate them, I called the cable company to get cable broadband. No luck. The fiber’s close, but not here yet. That’s better then when I moved here three years ago; at that time they sold it to me and came to install it before telling me they didn’t have it.
So I called BellSouth. No dice (I’m not in BellSouth’s service area). This is what the American telecom industry (and Ted Stevens) calls competition!
I’m not one of those who blogs at work. It’s not that I don’t believe in it it’s just that I’m too busy working at work. I’ve told a neighbor that I’d swap my riding mower for his couch and broadband tomorrow night so I will hopefully get something posted then, but it looks like I’m a blogger out of luck for the next little while. I’ll keep you posted as I can…
Monday, July 24, 2006
Augusta Chronicle drops Coulter
As it happens, I’m sitting right now in a Panera Bread in Augusta:
The Augusta Chronicle of Georgia dropped Coulter’s column from its editorial page last week. A Friday article from its editorial staff claimed that its editorial page “stand[s] for civility,” and noted two reasons to part ways with Coulter. First, it saw “stridency” in her declaration that 9/11 widows were “witches.” Second, it worried that “Coulter herself had become the issue, rather than the topics she was writing about, which is an unhealthy circumstance for a journalist, even a columnist.”
The paper will replace Coulter with conservative columnist Michelle Malkin.
That’s progress???No, that’s Georgia.
What happened in Latvia
An open letter from Lars Grava, a founding member of Mozaika, the organisation that co-ordinated the Riga Pride and Friendship Days:
I am writing this in English since the story needs to be told far and wide. This is the story from my perspective. Everyone else who was there will have other stories to share.
Gaston and I are safe after yesterday’s well-organized fascist attacks against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community in Riga during Pride.
We are shocked by the hatred that manifested itself yesterday, but we are thrilled by the positive energy that we found among so many friends and supporters. READ ON.
It’s a gay world after all
Here are the finalists for the Mr Gay Competition, to be held in Palm Springs this October. It’s no big deal, a tiny little event in the grand scheme of things. But I cannot help but notice that Iraq has a finalist, along with Israel, Nigeria, Lebanon, Poland and, my favorite ... Vatican City.
Giving the people what they want
During the week which ended on July 16, the ever-popular online video-sharing site’s unique audience soar by a whopping 75 percent to 12.8 million users, up from 7.3 million during the previous week, according to new data released by Nielsen//NetRatings. That traffic jump follows a hard-to-fathom six-month period of exponential growth for the site, as its audience size skyrocketed by nearly 300 percent since the beginning of the year.
I for one am hpoping that they are the next Google.
Deep linking video
Google has a new feature that lets you link within a video:
Now you can email links to specific points inside a video! All you have to do is add the time you’d like to share to the end of a video’s URL. We support hours (h), minutes (m), and seconds (s).
For example, Invisible Board is a 1 min 46 sec long video but I believe the coolest part is at 1 min 26 sec, so all I have to do is add #1m26s to the link I’m going to send to my friends! Just like this: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6396990712930217422#1m26s
A similar functionality that lets you excerpt an audio file has long been one of my favorite features at ITConversations.
It’s the interplay
So, not long ago I was the clichÃƒÂ© liberal writing that the courts protect minorities. I gather that was the mainstream liberal thinking at the time. The vogue among liberals now is to say courts should do nothing. From Dahlia Lithwick’s review of Jeffrey Rosen’s The Most Democratic Branch:
Rosen rejects the “romantic myth” of “antidemocratic courts protecting vulnerable minorities against tyrannical majorities.” He contends that “the least effective decisions have been those in which courts unilaterally try to strike down laws in the name of a constitutional principle that is being actively and intensely contested by a majority of the American people.” And then he urges that if the courts want to maintain “democratic legitimacy” they must become safe, cautious; forever lagging one step behind Congress and the public-opinion polls.
There are two problems with this prescription: The first is practical and the second is normative. As a pragmatic matter, Rosen is never terribly clear as to how the courts are meant to divine public readiness for big constitutional change. He claims that “polls are hardly a reliable indicator,” and concedes, as he must, that “judges are not supposed to follow the polls.” Yet as he works through case after case, classing decisions as either constitutional successes or reckless overreaching, his predominant support lies in the contemporaneous polls he cites.
More troubling, he claims that the nation was ready for the dramatic constitutional shift in Brown v. Board because “over half the country” supported it, whereas the court’s decision in Roe v. Wade was an affront because 52 percent of the country supported it. To be sure, Rosen can slice and dice that data to suggest that the country wasn’t really ready for Roe, even though the polls suggested it might have been. And it isn’t inconsequential that the court had the support (admittedly grudging) of the executive branch in handing down Brown. But as Rosen himself proves, by futzing with these equivocal numbers, it’s not possible to know with any certainty what the country is ready for-particularly when the polls show the public to be about evenly divided on some constitutional question.
Me, I’ve taken to saying that the beauty of the three branches is in the interaction among them; I don’t think it matters whether it’s the courts or the executive or the legislature. It’s the jockeying for place and power among them that engages us, makes us think, and moves us forward. That imterplay is our process of reconciliation and progress.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
The rocky road
With progress comes setbacks. The Canadian military has progressive policies, but still:
[G]ay and lesbian soldiers face a life of secrecy and isolation.
According to a letter from one gay soldier, obtained by Sun Media through an access to information request with the individual’s name protected, homosexual troops face “negative” reactions to their sexual orientation within the ranks.
Just two years ago Julie and Hillary Goodridge - with their girl-next-door good looks and adorable child - became the perfect poster family for gay marriage in Massachusetts. They were the lead plaintiffs, in fact, in the case Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health.
But now the couple so publicly wed is separating. And that private, personal decision has become, like their decision to marry, a subject of contentious public debate.