aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, August 31, 2006
the homophobe Laffey
If Laffey, a populist conservative, were to win the primary, all the polls and portents suggest that he would be whomped by Democratic nominee Sheldon Whitehouse, a former state attorney general.
The sign for a local business. Do you see what I see?
The Dog Whisperer
He’s a charming, one-man wrecking ball directed at 40 years of progress in understanding and shaping dog behavior and in developing nonpunitive, reward-based training programs, which have led to seeing each dog as an individual, to understand what motivates it, what frightens it and what its talents and limitations are. Building on strengths and working around and through weaknesses, these trainers and specialists in animal behavior often work wonders with their dogs, but it takes time.
I only saw the show once. I was unimpressed.
Mr. Millan builds his philosophy from a simplistic conception of the dog’s “natural” pack, controlled by a dominant alpha animal (usually male). In his scheme, that leader is the human, which leads to the conclusion that all behavior problems in dogs derive from the failure of the owner or owners to dominate. (Conveniently, by this logic, if Mr. Millan’s intervention doesn’t produce lasting results, it is the owner’s fault.)
Women are the worst offenders in his world. In one of the outtakes included in the four-DVD set of the first season of “Dog Whisperer,” Mr. Millan explains that a woman is “the only species that is wired different from the rest.” And a “woman always applies affection before discipline,” he says. “Man applies discipline then affection, so we’re more psychological than emotional. All animals follow dominant leaders; they don’t follow lovable leaders.”
America’s most wired city - Atlanta!
With most of the U.S. technology industry focused on the East and West coasts, you’d think the best place to get online would be San Francisco, or perhaps New York City. But Atlanta tops Forbes.com’s survey of America’s most wired cities.
While Georgia may be best known for hot weather, college football and peaches, Atlanta is no slouch when it comes to technology and the Internet. Home to telecommunications and Internet service providers BellSouth and EarthLink, as well as Cox Communications, the third-largest U.S. cable company, Atlanta beat several cities more closely associated with the Web, like San Francisco, Seattle and New York.
Our rankings factored in the percentage of Internet users with high-speed access, the range of service providers within a city and the availability of public wireless hot spots. Of the 30 cities we measured, Atlanta ranks highest in broadband access options, third in Wi-Fi access points and ninth in broadband adoption: In June, more than 80% of the city’s home Internet users accessed the Web via a high-speed connection.
Via Susan Crawford, “Don’t have Culver City access—that’s your challenge. Southern hospitality means (or should mean) an open, non-discriminatory, unfiltered network.” Given the mood here in Georgia these days, I’m not optimistic.
LATER, Om says:
[W]e checked with WiFi directory service, JiWire and found that San Francisco is the most “unwired” city and has 805 hotspots, including 375 free ones. New York is #2 with 669 hotspots, followed by Chicago with 551. Atlanta ranked at #8 with 372 hotspots, 94 of them free.
Who needs pharmacists anyway!
In the mind of pharmacist Jim Ramseth, there is a moral hierarchy when it comes to preventing pregnancy: Selling condoms and birth control pills is OK. But the emergency contraception known as Plan B is not, and Ramseth refuses to provide it.
In recent months, the genial 65-year-old owner of Covington Pharmacy has fought hard for the right to make professional choices guided by such personal views. And while his stand on the morning-after pill may be a minority opinion in Washington—where more than 2,000 women get Plan B directly from their pharmacists each month—many of Ramseth’s colleagues agree that they should not be forced to provide medication with which they have moral or ethical objections.
I pretty much stand by my own view of pharmacists from last year:
What pharmacists have become in our modern era is nothing more than computer jockeys who look up the med, phone the insurance company for approval, then pull the bottle from the shelf, stick it in a bag and send you off to be rung up? Who needs ‘em!
For a chuckle, take another look at Bill Mahr’s take on pharmacists, “take off your pretend doctor jacket and get another job.”
Stocking up for the War on Christmas
UPDATE: I waited too long to post this. Commenter Viri tried it and found that at the end of the process they now make you call. Anyone want to make that call and report back the results?
The Conservative Voice reported last week that Wal-Mart has already said no to Christmas - Again! And they’re reaching out to gays. This has those who believe that gay marriage is worse than child rape up in arms.
If you’d like to fight back, and satisfy a deeply juvenile impulse at the same time, Seattle’s The Stranger suggests:
Here’s how to do it:
1. Go to http://www.family.org and you will see their home page.
2. Once you’re at the home page, look for the “Resources” link in the blue bar on the left-hand side, right above the “Search” box, and click it.
3. Under the “Resource Category” menu on the left-hand side, you’ll notice categories such as “Homosexuality.” Go ahead and click that for shits and giggles.
4. It’s time to start shopping! Scroll down a little bit and feel the homophobia flow. How about a nice copy of A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality? Go ahead and click the “Add to Cart” button.
5. Now comes a tough decision: Do you have the book sent to yourself so you can sell it on eBay for cash (my personal favorite) or do you keep it on your mantel as a high-larious conversation piece to point at and laugh when your friends and family come over? Or do you send it to a jerk? I always opt for sending it to myself. Yes, you may end up on the Focus on the Family mailing list (though I’ve been doing this for some time and have never received anything beyond what I ordered), but reading Focus on the Family’s junk mail is a good way to keep tabs on their activities and it will cost them even more money in postage.
Please note: Focus on the Family won’t send you more than $100 worth of materials for free in any given shopping trip, so be sure to keep it reasonable and return often.
6. Select “Add New Shipping Address” and click “Proceed to Checkout.” Or, hell, continue to shop and pick up a box set of The Chronicles of Narnia on CD.
7. The next screen will ask you to sign up for an account and give your information. Don’t worry, they don’t ask for your credit-card number. Enter whatever name and address you like, because you won’t be paying. You might want to make up a phone number, too.
8. Once you’ve filled out all the required fields (you can also create a fake e-mail account if you’re super paranoid), click “Proceed to Checkout” one more time. You’ll now find yourself at the “Here Is Your Cart” field. Annoying thing alert: You may have to reenter your info again after this field to actually set up your account. But just keep going until you get to the “How Much Would You Like to Donate?” page.
9. So, how much would you like to donate? Zero dollars, obviously. Don’t be fooled by the field in the lower-right-hand corner that shows you the suggested donation amounts. Simply select “Enter other total amount” and enter 0.00 as the amount you would like to pay. (Don’t put in a dollar sign or it will ask you for credit-card information!) Proceed to checkout.
10. You’ll now be led to a screen that will try to make you feel guilty about the amount you haven’t donated. But don’t feel bad! Just proceed to checkout again.
11. Jesus! Here you are on the twelfth step and you still don’t have your self-hatred materials! And you thought preventing homosexuality was supposed to be easy! Click “Checkout Now” and you’re done.
You have just removed a few dollars from the coffers of a major anti-gay organization. You can further capitalize on your brief investment of time by selling the item/s on eBay. You’d be surprised how much money you can get—a friend of mine makes a few hundred extra dollars every few months on this perfectly legal activity.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Not nearly enough of a leap
A new online music company said yesterday that it would make a huge catalog of songs from the world’s largest record company, the Universal Music Group, available for consumers to download free.
The company, called SpiralFrog, said its intention was to wean music fans, especially young people, away from illegal downloads and pirate music sites by offering a legitimate source, supported by advertising instead of download fees.
Ok, I’m listening. I Like the idea of making the ad deal explicit. I tune in to some advertising, I get some stuff. The trouble is the content industry thinks their stuff is worth a whole lot more advertising than we do:
For consumers, SpiralFrog’s free downloads will come with many more strings attached than Apple’s paid ones. Users of SpiralFrog will have to sit through advertisements and will be prevented by special software from making copies of the songs they download or from sharing them with other people.
They will have to revisit the SpiralFrog Web site regularly to keep access to the music they download. And the songs will be encoded in the Microsoft WMA format, meaning they will probably not work on Apple iPod portable music players.
Spiral Frog will spiral down the toilet if they think we’re going to like that. I think I hear one flushing:
“Offering young consumers an easy-to-use alternative to pirated music sites will be compelling,” Mr. Kent of SpiralFrog said in a statement. “SpiralFrog will offer those consumers a better experience and environment than they can get from any pirate site.”
Three Ways to Ride the Long Tail
Steve Rubel’s advice to advertisers:
Reach metrics are the currency of the advertising community. We’re obsessed with eyeballs, gross ratings points and page views. But in a Long Tail world, reach has entirely new meaning. Many niche sites, for example, can’t hold a candle to the traffic at the head of the media curve. However, what they do have going for them is credibility. If your brand is mentioned five times on a site that your 20 most influential customers trust, that’s gold. Word of mouth will only ripple from there.
In the last few years, some niches have crystallized nicely. For example, it’s easy to find thriving communities obsessed with BlackBerries and other gadgetry. The same goes for political blogs. Whether you’re a Lefty or a Righty, you have a home. However, sometimes the Long Tail doesn’t flow down into the niches you care about most. Marketers should play a role in funding the development of communities that give these birds of a feather places to flock together.
Demand more from media
Big Media has done a nice job adapting in the Long Tail environment—editorially. For example, news sites regularly link to blog posts, photos or videos uploaded by citizens. However, where they’re just getting started is in the sales side of the house. The Washington Post took a big step recently when it launched a blog ad network. Demand that your media partners help you find ways to build your brand through niches like the Post does.
RELATED: Stephen Colbert gets it.
What OS would Jesus use?
Ubuntu Christian Edition comes free with porn blocker:
Along with the standard Ubuntu applications, Ubuntu Christian Edition includes the best available Christian software. The latest release contains GnomeSword, a top of the line Bible study program for Linux based on the Sword Project. There are several modules installed with GnomeSword including Bibles, Commentaries, and Dictionaries.
Ubuntu Christian Edition also includes fully integrated web content parental controls powered by Dansguardian. A graphical tool to adjust the parental control settings has also been developed specifically for Ubuntu Christian Edition. These features are truly what sets Ubuntu Christian Edition apart.
REALTED: This Ubuntu Q&A from Wired makes it sound more difficult than I would have thought. But then, I’ve been following their advice, “The best strategy for most people is to run Ubuntu on the side as a hobby, gradually learning its intricacies.”
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Fake snakes for a worthy cause
The silicone snakes featured in SAMUEL L JACKSON’s new movie SNAKES ON A PLANE will be auctioned off to benefit an animal rights organisation. American Humane monitors animal safety on film sets and is known for its “no animals were harmed” disclaimer that appears in many movie credits. The snakes will be auctioned off at auction.newline.com and bids can be placed for the next two weeks, ending 12 September (06).
The current bid is $199.
As it happens there’s another animal welfare group I support that I would urge you to support too. HEART (Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers) works “to inspire and empower educators to implement Humane Education into school curricula and programs.”
Their website, teachhumane.org, is a rich source of good information.
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday that critics of the war in Iraq and the campaign against terror groups “seem not to have learned history’s lessons,” and he alluded to those in the 1930’s who advocated appeasing Nazi Germany.
Speaking of fascism, this sounds like a brownshirt tactic to me:
NEW YORK, NY August 29, 2006 -An Iraqi architect says he was not allowed to board a Jet Blue flight at JFK because of the Arabic inscription on his t-shirt.
REPORTER: Raed Jarrar was wearing a T-shirt that read We Will Not Be Silent in Arabic and English, when he was approached by security officers. The officers said the Arabic script was upsetting other passengers, and told Jarrar to either turn the shirt inside out or wear something else. Jarrar protested but finally wore a T-shirt provided by a Jet Blue employee.
JARRAR: I grew up and spent all my life living under authoritarian regimes. and i know that these things happen. But I’m shocked that they happened to me here, in the U.S. Especially that I moved from Iraq because of the war that was waged in Iraq under titles like democracy and freedom.
It was a JetBlue plane. I’m guess those who love Jet Blue would not be happy to see this kind of behavior coming from the airline, which says it’s investigating “but that it does take into account the concerns of its passengers.”
Snake’s subversive stereotyping
This film is not about plot. But if you care about such things and don’t want to know what happens come back and read this after you’ve seen it.
I went to see Snakes on a Plane this past weekend. Bubble gum for the brain. But tasty. I left the theater smiling. Thinking back, I completely appreciate the way it toyed with gay stereotyping.
The male flight attendant - “Tyler” - appears gay in every way. He makes eyes at the kick-boxer. When a passenger is bit in the behind by a snake, he giddily offers to suck out the venom. Then there’s this production still. What do you think that’s about? [Oops! That’s not Tyler. It’s a married guy on his honeymoon. Another subversion?]
When Tyler makes reference to his girlfriend we all wink, nod and roll our eyes. But after (spoiler alert!) the plane lands safely we see him joyously kissing and hugging his hot girlfriend.
So much for stereotyping!
People are talking about the MyDD House forecast - “Dems take 15-25 seats” - but I was as interested in the Governors forecast. To wit, “it appears extremely likely that the Democrats will capture a majority.”
What about Georgia?
13. Georgia (Democrat: Mark Taylor). The approval rating of Republican Governor Sonny Perdue is fairly strong, but Democratic Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor appears to have at least some shot at victory (though how good of a shot remains to be seen).
Latest polling: Insider Advantage, Perdue 49 - Taylor 32, August 23; Strategic Vision (R), Perdue 54 - Taylor 41, August 23.
That’s better than I thought.
They can’t help themselves
I just finished listening to Diane Sawyer arguing with Barry Sheck that the media was reasonably following where the story led.
What is amazing to me is the media circus that has followed this “case” for almost two weeks now without really a shred of proof that anything had truly developed in the 10-year-old mystery. And we’re not just talking about an informational mention on page six or seven of the local newspaper, or a 90-second story buried in the second half of a one-hour newscast.
We’re talking about hour upon hour of coverage, with some cable news networks devoting the entire hour of a 60-minute newscast to a developing story that could very well have turned out to be a lot of noise about nothing. We’re talking about alleged journalists and editors whose judgment made them decide that John Mark Karr’s plane ride from Thailand to the United States, where he sat, who he talked to, what he ate and even what procedure was used to allow him to use the bathroom was their very top story.
All of this without the most basic elements of proof that freshman journalism students taking Reporting 100 are taught to look for.
Stephen J. Dubner spotted this welcome perspective in a letter to Sports Illustrated:
As a scientist and a sports fan, I believe the current doping scandals compromise science as much as sports. The tests are performed by entities motivated by and funded to achieve the goal of detecting cheaters; their objectivity is suspect. Also, it is a scientific fact that there will be positive tests even when there are no cheaters. From my perspective, the puzzle is not the occasional prositive test, but why there aren’t a great many more. The system is broken, and I fear it is not always due to cheating athletes.”
The author, Brandon Gaut of Irvine, Calif., has a website is here.
A Catholic embrace of Intelligent Design?
The Pope is reportedly considering it:
Philosophers, scientists and other intellectuals close to Pope Benedict will gather at his summer palace outside Rome this week for intensive discussions that could herald a fundamental shift in the Vatican’s view of evolution.
There have been growing signs the Pope is considering aligning his church more closely with the theory of “intelligent design” taught in some US states. Advocates of the theory argue that some features of the universe and nature are so complex that they must have been designed by a higher intelligence. Critics say it is a disguise for creationism.
Like driving a satellite
A photo ode to Google Earth at Slate:
One of those contested places is Iraq. It was recently photographed in high resolution and now functions as a diary, a memorial, and a place to make political statements. American soldiers mark where they were ambushed, where one of their friends was killed, or where they manned a checkpoint. A self-described former member of the Iraqi army annotated the boot camp where he trained to fight for Saddam, showing the escape route he used to sneak out at night.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Cho has been here working on a film. This week she was suffering through one of our hot, muggy summer days when she encountered some unkind behavior in our alleged “city too busy to hurl ethnic slurs.”
“When you walk, you become a moving target of sorts,” writes Cho on margaretcho.com. “A free-for-all to entertain motorists as they burn up fossil fuels and leave you in their smoggy wake. I got hit today with a classic, ‘Me love you long time!’ The offender was loud and cheery enough, and the streets were just crowded enough, and I was just in between buildings and out in the blazing spotlight of sun enough to feel the full force of bitter amusement and overwhelming shame.Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ The incident only reveals the insensitivity and racism of the driver yet I am the one who is embarrassed. I feel violated and wrongedÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ . I swear, I have nothing against straight men, I really adore them, when they behave.”
Katie goes LIVE on September 5
New York says she’s got what it takes to rejuvenate the formula. Romenesko:
Couric lacks old-fashioned TV-news “gravitas,” which is good
Katie Couric is the first network anchor to have a quick, smart, mischievous sense of humor as a major part of her public persona, says Kurt Andersen. “She wonÃ‚’t have many opportunities to crack wise on the ‘Evening News,’ of course,” he writes. “But if you strip away the jokes from Jon Stewart‘s ‘Daily Show’ performances, what remains is an intelligent, charming, clued-in, puckish, apparently unpretentious, occasionally self-deprecating fortysomething whose responses to news stories seem recognizably, appealingly human.”
Late Breaking Repeats
Jon and Stephen are on vacation. Repeats! What to do? The Onion, tried and true:
Despite claims from the TV news outlet to offer “nonstop news” and “coverage you can count on,” an Onion investigation has uncovered hundreds of instances in which KAMR Channel 4 10 O’Clock Eyewitness News team relied almost exclusively on news reports, weather forecasts, and even special-interest features already generated by the station’s 6 O’Clock Eyewitness News team.
Via Lost Remote.
Shocking and unconscionable
That’s how Kenneth R. Feinberg, the special master for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, described the contingency fee collected by one of the lawyers. The propriety of the fee is now in the courts, and that’s the gist of the article on law.com.
Indeed the fee is highly questionable to those of us taxpayers not privy to the ways of the bar. But buried down deep in the article (and highlighted by Ted Frank at Overlawyered) there’s this unfortunate turn of phrase:
Joseph P. Awad, the incoming president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association and a partner in Garden City, N.Y.’s Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, was one of the lawyers who participated in TLC. He said the group was holding a dinner on the fifth anniversary of the [September 11] terrorist attacks to celebrate “the largest pro bono project in history.”
If I were Awad I just might sue.
RINO Sightings is up!
A collection of good posts from people who don’t drink Republican Kool-Aid:
A self-described “honorary member,” I’m there too:
Happy Birthday Don! Love the Ninja Text Generator!
The rigmarole called peer review
When it works, it’s genius - quality control that ensures the best papers get into the appropriate pages, lubricating communication and debate. It’s the quiet soul of the scientific method: After forming hypotheses, collecting data, and crunching numbers, you report the results to learned colleagues and ask, “What do you folks think?”
But science is done by humans, and humans occasionally screw up. They plagiarize, fake data, take incorrect readings. And when they do? Oy! Somebody always blames peer review. The process is lousy at policing research. Bad papers get published, and work that’s merely competent (boring) or wildly speculative (maverick) often gets rejected, enforcing a plodding conservatism. It seems silly to say this about a system that’s been in development since the mid-1700s, but the whole thing seems kind of antiquated. “Peer review was brilliant when distribution was a problem and you had to be selective about what you could publish,” says Chris Surridge, managing editor of the online interdisciplinary journal PLoS ONE. But the Web has remapped the universe of scientific publishing - and as a result, peer review may finally get fixed.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Google Apps for Your domain
John Battelle got the email:
On Monday August 28th we are announcing Google Apps for Your Domain. This brand new Google service allows everyone in an organization to collaborate and stay up-to-date through e-mail, calendar and instant messaging - anywhere, anytime.
Everything is hosted by Google, so there’s no hardware to buy and maintain or software to manage, deploy and patch. The applications are fast, reliable, work from anywhere, anytime and have the elegant simplicity everyone has come to expect from Google. And they’re free. The applications we’re releasing at this time represent only the beginning; we’re working hard to add more. We know you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
The new service is an extension of Gmail for Your Domain, a service that Google launched in beta version in February. It allows organizations to use Gmail applications with their own e-mail address, instead of the “@gmail.com” domain.
The Gmail for Your Domain test service has tens of thousands of active domains, hundreds of thousands of users and hundreds of universities registered to use it, said Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager of Google’s enterprise business.
GOP kid bloggers
AS the leader of the Republican party in the US Senate and a possible presidential candidate, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee has a reputation for sober rectitude. The same cannot be said of his son Jonathan, a Vanderbilt University student who recently appeared on the internet wearing six cans of beer strapped to his belt.
Nor has Jonathan’s brother Bryan done much to help his father’s attempts to strike a reasonable note about US involvement in Iraq. “I was born an American by God’s amazing grace,” wrote Bryan Frist in an online profile. “Let’s bomb some people.” [...]
The popularity of teenage networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook is proving a goldmine for political bloggers keen to compare the pious proclamations of candidates running for office with the blogs and picture-sharing websites maintained by their children.
No sooner had Congressman Louie Gohmert, a conservative Republican from Texas, unleashed a tirade against the moral inadequacies of Democrats opposed to the war in Iraq, than someone found internet pictures of his daughter Caroline dancing on a bartop and posing with a man in his underpants.[...]
Errant children have long been a fact of Washington political life, but have rarely caused any lasting scandal. Bush was untroubled by the underage drinking exploits of his twin daughters Jenna and Barbara. The president’s brother, Governor Jeb Bush of Florida, was not seriously damaged when his daughter Noelle was arrested on drug charges. His son John was arrested for having sex in a car in a shopping centre car park.