aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Leaving the beach
I’m longing to rant about Windstream. Eight days after they said they’d overnight us a new modem, the modem has yet to arrive. Now they tell us it’s lost! Grrr.
So I’ll get home to no internet access. Still. The time at the beach has been fun. The photo is Baci from our last visit here. She’s older now and had no interest in posing for beach photos this time around…
Lance Bass was not outed
Gays and lesbians are under no obligation to keep each other’s dirty little secrets and partying in P-town’s gay bars on a holiday weekend with a celebrity boyfriend in tow is not the behavior of someone living a closeted life.
Here’s the thing about privacy: it’s an easy thing to attain. Go home, lock your door and draw the curtains and you have privacy. Bass’ days as a teen heartthrob are long over. There are no paparazzi camped at his doorstep anxious to chronicle his every move. He is fully capable of living a quiet, private, closeted life. He made another choice.
Outing involves investigating and reporting on the private behavior of a public figure who denies being gay. Hanging out in gay bars doesn’t constitute private behavior. It didn’t take any sneaky detective work to uncover Bass’ sexual orientation. No one peered through his windows or sorted through his trash. He walked into a gay bar with his boyfriend and witnesses connected the dots. Sorry, but there’s no outing in this case. [...]
The simple fact of sexual orientation is not an inherently private thing. Openly closeted celebrities like Bass and an army of others (CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Fox News’ Shepard Smith, actress Jodie Foster, singer Ricky Martin, GOP Congressman David Dreier and actor Sean Hayes come to mind) do a disservice to fellow gays by perpetuating the damaging and false notion that being gay is something to hide and to be ashamed of. And the reporters who omit any reference to sexual orientation when it comes to writing about gay public figures are only enforcing outdated double standards and enabling cowardly behavior.
What’s the matter with Kansas?
It looks like the conservatives may have gone too far:
Last November, the Board of Education’s 6-to-4 conservative Republican majority rewrote testing standards for public schools to incorporate language supported by advocates of intelligent design, which holds that life is so complex it must have been created by some kind of higher power. The new standards say that some aspects of evolution are contradicted by scientific evidence.
On Tuesday, three members of the majority faced GOP primary foes who support evolution. A fourth Republican conservative is retiring, and her seat was up for grabs.
The fifth seat was held by Janet Waugh, a Kansas City Democrat who opposed the new standards. Faced a more conservative Democrat who favored the anti-evolution language, she won with 65 percent of the vote.
Kind of like South Dakota on abortion:
South Dakota voters are leaning against the state’s tough new ban on abortions, a poll released Monday shows.
The statewide survey of 800 registered voters found 47 percent opposed the strict ban, while 39 percent favored it. The remaining 14 percent were undecided. The poll had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
I’m fond of quoting a 1991 analysis of all public opinion polls having to do with national policy preferences. It found that the public tends to make appropriate, sensible, rational, coherent and consistent choices. That’s what keeps me so optimistic on the topic of gay marriage even in the face of what appears to be overwhelming opposition.
I don’t believe our ultimate success is just demographics. I believe that my good neighbors are in the process of acceptance; acceptance of something that is, for them, incredibly difficult to accept. Striking as it does at the core of their beliefs acceptance is more difficult than most of us can imagine.
That said, I won’t stop pushing - pushing is part of change. But I will accept that it takes time.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
The New Yorker on Citizen Journalism
The best Internet journalism usually happens by accident. Most often it’s “when smart and curious people with access to means of communication are at the scene of a sudden disaster” and post raw information, says Nicholas Lemann. More from the Columbia j-school dean:
* “What has citizen journalism actually brought us? It’s a difficult question, in part because many of the truest believers are very good at making life unpleasant for doubters, through relentless sneering.”
* “The quality of Internet journalism is bound to improve over time, especially if more of the virtues of traditional journalism migrate to the Internet. But, although the medium has great capabilities, especially the way it opens out and speeds up the discourse, it is not quite as different from what has gone before as its advocates are saying.”
And here’s a proposal from Steven Berlin Johnson:
Lemann is a superb journalist, and I agree with just about everything he says in the article. But that’s the problem. I think everyone agrees with just about everything he says in the article. Jay Rosen tried to kill off this kind of discussion a year or two ago with his smart essay, Bloggers Versus Journalists Is Over, but obviously it didn’t stick. So let me propose a slightly more blunt approach. Does anyone disagree with the following concepts:
1. Mainstream, top-down, professional journalism will continue to play a vital role in covering news events, and in shaping our interpretation of those events, as it should.
2. Bloggers will grow increasingly adept at covering certain kinds of news events, but not all. They will play an increasingly important role in the interpretation of all kinds of news.
3. The majority of bloggers won’t be concerned with traditional news at all.
4. Professional, edited journalism will have a much higher signal-to-noise ratio than blogging; examples of sloppy, offensive, factually incorrect, or tedious writing will be abundant in the blogosphere. But diamonds in that rough will be abundant as well.
5. Blogs—like all modes of contemporary media—are not historically unique; they draw upon and resemble a number of past traditions and forms, depending on their focus.
So here’s my proposal: if you’re writing an article or a blog post about this issue, and your argument revolves around one or more of these points—and doesn’t add anything else of substance—STOP WRITING. Pick a new topic. Move on. There’s nothing to see here.
BTW I’ve decided my post on Schiff’s piece was off the mark. I was reacting too much like a thin-skinned blogger. My only excuse is that without the tools of my trade I’m not at the top of my form.
I’m home tomorrow; my power is back tonight. I’m lucky:
A smothering heat wave shattered records for electricity use across a wide swath of the country yesterday as utilities and government officials called for conservation and braced for even more strain on the power grid today.
Power systems held up well despite worries about overloaded plants, transformers or lines. But utility executives warned that the risk of breakdowns rises steadily as a heat wave wears on, and with today’s temperatures expected to top yesterday’s, with possible record highs along the East Coast, power companies were girding for a huge challenge.
On the homefront: from bad to worse
You know me, not one to complain. Usually.
But the icing on the cake this week is that I just got a slew of calls from home. Apparently my neighbor took down a tree, and with it a telephone pole, which means the power, the cable and a transformer. And it all started a fire in the little woods I own next to my home.
Nice to live in a small town. I’m away and got three calls and plenty of photos. Damage is minimal. I’m going to the beach!
College colors are part of trademark
From The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription):
Not only are a college’s logo, mascots, and slogans protected by trademark law. So is its color scheme, a federal court has ruled.
The decision marks the first time a court has ruled that the simple use of a college’s colors on items, even when the name of the institution was not displayed, violates a trademark, said Bruce B. Siegal, senior vice president and general counsel for the Collegiate Licensing Company.
“This will help us get at those infringers that operate on the borderline and traffic on a university’s good will,” said Mr. Siegal, whose company represents more than 200 institutions.
The company, along with Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, Ohio State University, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Southern California, sued the Smack Apparel Company, of Tampa, Fla., over its production of four T-shirt designs. Two of the shirt designs were sold during the buildup to the 2004 Sugar Bowl football game, between Oklahoma and LSU. The Ohio State and Southern California shirts referred to the number of national football championships won by the institutions.
Even though none of the shirts included the names of the universities, a judge in the U.S. District Court in New Orleans found last month that they had violated the institutions’ trademarks. Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon noted that each of the universities had used the same color scheme since the 19th century and had “spent millions of dollars over the years in marketing and promoting items bearing their initials and school colors.”