aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Evolution missing from majors eligible for Smart Grants
The Chronicle (paid subscription required):
Like a gap in the fossil record, evolutionary biology is missing from a list of majors that the U.S. Department of Education has deemed eligible for a new federal grant program designed to reward students majoring in engineering, mathematics, science, or certain foreign languages.
That absence apparently indicates that students in the evolutionary sciences do not qualify for the grants, and some observers are wondering whether the omission was deliberate.
The question arises at a time when evolution has become a political hot potato at all levels of education. While the theory of evolution has overwhelming support from scientists, some conservative Christian groups argue for alternative explanations of the origins of life, including “intelligent design,” which holds that an intelligent agent guided the creation of life.
The grants are worth up to $4,000 and are awarded in addition to Pell grants:
But evolutionary biology is absent.
The [Department of Education] has an index of classification numbers—referred to as “CIP codes,” for the Classification of Instructional Programs—for all academic areas of instruction,
Under that classification scheme, there is a heading for “Ecology, Evolution, Systematics and Population Biology,” under which 10 biological fields are defined. For instance, ecology is 26.1301, and evolutionary biology is 26.1303.
But on a list that defines majors eligible for the grants, issued by the department in May, one of those 10 is missing. On that list, the classification numbers rise in order from 26.1301 to 26.1309—with the exception of a blank line where 26.1303, or evolutionary biology, would fall.
UPDASTE FRIDAY - It was an oversight:
The omission of evolutionary biology from a group of science majors eligible for a new federal grant program was an oversight, the U.S. Department of Education said on Thursday, and it will take immediate steps to correct the matter.
Online pedophiles and DOPA
Kurt Eichenwald is headed for a Pulitzer. His Decemer 2005 article exposed an important dark side of children, webcams and the Internet, and yesterday he did it again with a look at the elaborate online world of pedophiles swapping stories and tips for getting near children.
In recent months, new concerns have emerged about whether the ubiquitous nature of broadband technology, instant message communications and digital imagery is presenting new and poorly understood risks to children. Already, there have been many Congressional hearings on the topic, as well as efforts to write comprehensive legislation to address the issue.
But most of those efforts have focused on examining particular instances of harm to children. There have been few, if any, recent attempts to examine the pedophiles themselves, based on their own words to one another, to gain a better recognition of the nature of potential problems.
Without that better understanding I’m doubtful we can offer a real solution. The more resources we devote to ineffective action, the less we have for effective action. We live in the illusion that we’re addressing the problem while it festers and worsens:
In a sense, the creation of the pedophiles’ online community was a ripple effect from the success of government efforts to crack down on them.
Washington’s efforts in the late 1970’s to stamp out child pornography by declaring it illegal were enormously effective, closing off traditional outlets for illicit images.
But the Internet soon presented an alternative. In the early 1980’s, through postings on bulletin board systems, pedophiles went online to swap illegal images. From there, they could easily converse with others like themselves, and they found theirs to be a community of diverse backgrounds.
I was struck that Eichenwald says there is no fundamental change in pedophiliac behavior; it’s who you know:
Some pedophiles revealed that they gained access to children through their own families. Some discussed how they married to be close to the children from their wives’ previous marriages. Pedophiles who said they were fathers described moments involving their own children, such as a man who told of watching his sons change for swimming in a locker room, complete with details about the older boy’s genitals and emerging pubic hair. Others insisted they would never feel any interest in their own children, but commented on the benefits presented by parenthood.
“I have a daughter and have never been attracted to her,” a man with the screen name of jonboy wrote. But, he added, “I did find her friends very attractive.”
Pedophiles chafe at suggestions that such comments reflect risks to minors. They point out, correctly, that family members and friends - not strangers - are the most frequent perpetrators of child sexual abuse. They never note, however, that the minors mentioned in their online discussions are most frequently those they know well, like relatives and children of friends.
Among other insights, [Judith Levine in Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex] wrote that “obsession with pedophiles stems for the reluctance to confront incest and the rampant sexualization of children” in American culture. “Adults project the eroticized desire outwards, creating a monster to hate, hunt down and destroy.”
Emphasis mine. That sure sounds key to me. Here’s more on Levine’s book.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Vengeance by any other name…
On Retributive Justice. Again.
I’m not just some lilly livered liberal. I believe there’s crime and there needs to be punishment. My argument does not deny that there are very real and serious problems to be addressed but I believe that a more effective response would lead to a better, more just and healthier civilization. A civilization with less crime.
[T]he true rationale for capital punishment is indeed justice. It is an approximation of the transcendent order of justice which God has ordained and which the legitimate sovereign, that is, the State, has an obligation to protect, despite the impossibility of its perfect achievement here below.
That a great many mistake vengeance for retributive justice is beyond dispute…
Hm, sounds like a distinction without a difference to me. Just exactly what is retributive justice?
Central to retributive justice are the notions of merit and desert. We think that people should receive what they deserve. This means that people who work hard deserve the fruits of their labor, while those who break the rules deserve to be punished. In addition, people deserve to be treated in the same way that they voluntarily choose to treat others. If you behave well, you are entitled to good treatment from others. [...]
The idea that we should treat people as they deserve is commonly accepted. We do not think that war criminals should be allowed to live carefree lives after committing unspeakable crimes against humanity.
However, there is a dangerous tendency to slip from retributive justice to an emphasis on revenge.
Conservative Christians are overrepresented among those who believe in retribution, rooting their support in “an eye for an eye” while not giving a second thought to “turn the other cheek” and all that is said about forgiveness in the name of God.
Restorative Justice, with its belief that everyone is entitled to “good treatment,” seems a whole lot more Christian to me.
Georgia’s sex offender registry law is irreparably flawed
Georgia’s sex offender registry law is irreparably flawed.
Its stated purpose is the protection of Georgia’s children. Yet it does little, if anything, to protect children from sexual assault. It provides a false sense of security for citizens while unreasonably and irrationally depriving individuals of fundamental rights.
My career has been dedicated to the protection of children. I was responsible for the prosecution of hundreds of sex offenders over 21 years. I taught prosecutors throughout the United States and Europe how to prosecute sex offenders.
I co-founded and currently chair the Georgia Center for Children, a private nonprofit organization that provides free counseling for victims of child sexual abuse. I am dismayed when a statute is passed, purportedly to protect children, but actually does nothing to protect them. I am concerned when laws compromise the rights of citizens without judicious, sound rationale.
“Living near a church packs a serious punishment”
Metro Atlanta sheriffs have been ordering sex offenders who live within about a fifth of a mile of a church to move or face arrest.
In Cobb County, four registered sex offenders had been arrested under the provision as of late last week, authorities said. Hall County deputies had arrested five. And in Gwinnett County, deputies had told six offenders to move because they were too close to churches and arrested one who didn’t comply.
Most of the attention on Georgia’s new sex offender law, which took effect in July, has focused on barring offenders from living within 1,000 feet of school bus stops. For now, a federal judge has blocked enforcement of that provision, which could have forced hundreds from their homes, while its constitutionality is debated in court.
But lesser-known parts of the sex offender law, introduced by House Majority Leader Jerry Keen (R-St. Simons Island), are forcing people to move or face arrest. [...]
Living near a church packs a serious punishment; sex offenders who knowingly violate the restriction face a felony charge that carries at least 10 years in prison.
Sex offenders The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contacted declined to be interviewed if they were going to be named in this article. But they said the law punishes people who have served their sentences and are now living law-abiding lives.
More than 10,550 people are on Georgia’s sex offender registry, with about 2,000 incarcerated. The registry includes the names, addresses and crimes of people convicted of rape, child molestation, sexual battery, soliciting minors for sex and other crimes. It also includes people convicted of crimes, such as sodomy, for consensual acts when they were teenagers.
Pentagon Adviser’s cushy contract
A contract allowed a Pentagon adviser to take home more than $300,000 in university-sponsored pay but never work at the school:
Federal authorities and the University of North Texas are investigating the school’s contract with a Pentagon official who claimed a $310,000 salary last year but didn’t do any work for the school.
The university and the Pentagon signed a one-year contract in November 2004 with retired Brig. Gen. Klaus Schafer, then a top adviser for the U.S. Defense Department, according to an investigation by The Denton Record-Chronicle.
UNT officials said they believed that Schafer, a leading expert in chemical and biological defense, would join the faculty after his assignment with the Pentagon. He didn’t.
UNT spokeswoman Deborah Leliaert said the school not only lost the cost of Schafer’s salary but also has paid about $1.3 million in investigation costs so far.
Via the Chronicle:
Such contracts, which are often known as IPA’s and are common in academe, allow government agencies to hire experts at competitive salaries, which are paid by universities and other sponsoring organizations, such as corporations.
The government agencies reimburse the sponsors for most of the cost of the salaries. Before working at the agencies, the experts are typically required to work for at least 90 days at the sponsoring organizations. However, Deborah Leliaert, a spokeswoman for the University of North Texas, said on Sunday there’s no evidence that Mr. Schafer ever worked at the university.
They eat their own
In the last few months, trade groups representing music publishers have used the threat of copyright lawsuits to shut down guitar tablature sites, where users exchange tips on how to play songs like “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” “Highway to Hell” and thousands of others.
The battle shares many similarities with the war between Napster and the music recording industry, but this time it involves free sites like Olga.net, GuitarTabs.com and MyGuitarTabs.com and even discussion boards on the Google Groups service like alt.guitar.tab and rec.music.makers.guitar.tablature, where amateur musicians trade “tabs” - music notation especially for guitar - for songs they have figured out or have copied from music books. [...]
The publishers, who share royalties with composers each time customers buy sheet music or books of guitar tablature, maintain that tablature postings, even inaccurate ones, are protected by copyright laws because the postings represent “derivative works” related to the original compositions, to use the industry jargon. [...]
“The publishers can’t dispute the fact that the popularity of playing guitar has exploded because of sites like mine,” said Robert Balch, the publisher of Guitar Tab Universe (guitartabs.cc), in Los Angeles. “And any person that buys a guitar book during their lifetime, that money goes to the publishers.”
Mr. Balch, who took down guitar tabs from his site in late July at the behest of the music publishers, added that, “I’d think the music publishers would be happy to have sites that get people interested in becoming one of their customers.Ã¢â‚¬Â�
Charging 36% interest and crying poor
I recently got an e-mail from someone who works for the Community Financial Services Association, the national trade group of payday lenders. She is unhappy that Congress wants to put a cap on the rates that payday lenders can charge. The proposed cap is 36% APR.
If this legislation were passed, the CFSA woman writes, “Payday advance lenders could not even meet employee payroll at that rate, let alone cover employee payroll, other fixed business expenses and make a profit.” In other words: in trying to protect poor people from usurious loans, Congress will shut down one of the few legal avenues for poor people to get short-term loans.
To which I thought: 36% APR! I haven’t read Merchant of Venice in a while, but I’m pretty sure Shylock didn’t get anywhere near that much. According to Using “The Merchant of Venice” in Teaching Monetary Economics, Jewish and Christian doctrines concerning usury were even less permissive than standing Roman law, which allowed up to 12% APR interest on cash loans.
But the payday lenders can’t survive on 36%? If that’s the case, I don’t know how the poor credit-card companies are scraping by, to say nothing of financial advisors, book agents, and even Realtors. It even makes the I.R.S.’s recent move to hire collection agencies look pretty reasonable.
He posts the entire email.
Congregation supports gay Lutheran pastor in Atlanta
A gay Lutheran pastor facing possible expulsion from his church says he will choose his partner over his vocation if he is disciplined for being in a gay relationship.
Rev. Bradley Schmeling, pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Atlanta, has been charged with violating pastoral conduct guidelines mandated under the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. [...]
“Pastor Schmeling has admitted to me that he is in violation of ELCA ‘Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline...’ for ordained ministers. Specifically, Pastor Schmeling disclosed to me that he is in a sexual relationship with an adult male. He has declined my requests for his resignations from his call to St. John’s Lutheran Church and the ELCA clergy roster,” Warren wrote.
It’s a committed relationship. The congregantion supports it:
St. John’s Congregation President Laura Crawley said that she has heard no backlash from church members concerning Schmeling’s charges. And while there has been no talk of a split from the Southeastern Synod, she maintained that the congregation is also squarely behind its pastor.
“We’re very happy for Bradley and Darin both, and celebrate their relationship. It was not as if we never expected that he might find a partner. Our congregation is clear in our support of Bradley, and we also want to remain a part of the Lutheran Church.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Mama’s Boy, Preacher’s Son
There are now over 3,000 Gay-Straight Alliance student clubs around the country. GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network) is “the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for ALL students.”
“We were very much taught in the Southern Baptist Church that God was watching what you were doing with whatever gifts you’d been given. And if you didn’t use those gifts to help other people, he was going to remember, and you were gonna pay! There are many, many Bible verses that I would quote but there are two I’ll zero in on. One was my mother’s favorite, the story of the poor widow who put her only coin [into the temple offering box], and Jesus said it was the greatest gift because she gave all she had. And then there’s the famous story where Jesus says, “Whatever you’ve done to the least of my brothers you have done unto me.” So I was also taught to believe that it was how you treated the least valued people in our society that was going to determine your salvation. Those were very positive values I learned from growing up in a fundamentalist home.”
Together we dug through his memorabilia. I held in my hand the State Department letter confirming that it “does not hire homosexuals and does not permit their employment;” he showed me his photos of the first demonstration but I did not see the picket sign.
New insulation in my attic lead me to recently go through what’s left of my notes from that time; it’s piled in boxes here in my home office awaiting a move to the backyard storage building. Years of living in tiny New York apartments means there’s not much there.
Imagine my pleasure then at finding KamenyPapers.org. The Kameny project is led by Charles Francis and Bob Witeck:
To preserve and protect the archive of gay civil rights pioneer Dr. Franklin Kameny, we seek a donor(s) to acquire and donate the Kameny Papers to a major national archive. This site is a “sampler” of some of the items among thousands of pages of material in the collection.
I got a lump in my throat visiting the site. I was moved then too, very moved. I am lucky to have met him. I wish the project well.
What DOPA means to education
There has been lots of discussion here and elsewhere about the potentially devastating effect of DOPA on the lives of young people—especially those for whom schools and public libraries represent their only point of access onto the digital world. I have made the argument that if supporters of DOPA really wanted to protect young people from online predators, they would teach social networking in the classroom, modeling safe and responsible practices, rather than lock it outside the school and thus beyond the supervision of informed librarians and caring teachers. The advocates of the law have implied that MySpace is at best a distraction from legitimate research activities, at worst a threat to childhood innocence.
But Ravi’s thesis suggests something more—we are closing off powerful technologies that could be used effectively to engage young people with authentic materials and real world cultural processes. Here, social networking functions not as a media literacy skill but as a tool for engaging with traditional school subjects in a fresh new way.
“Ravi” is Comparative Media Studies graduate student Ravi Purushotma. His thesis is here.
Target terror world
Cory Doctorow - ”who’d have thought that putting signs everywhere telling you that you were in danger of terrorists and that terrorists were everywhere and that you should look out for suspicious terrorism behavior would turn normal people into witch-hunting racist mobs?” - points to the inevitable consequences of our fear mongering media (and politicians):
The extraordinary scenes happened after some of the 150 passengers on a Malaga-Manchester flight overheard two men of Asian appearance apparently talking Arabic. Passengers told cabin crew they feared for their safety and demanded police action. Some stormed off the Monarch Airlines Airbus A320 minutes before it was due to leave the Costa del Sol at 3am. Others waiting for Flight ZB 613 in the departure lounge refused to board it…
Passengers noticed that, despite the heat, the pair were wearing leather jackets and thick jumpers and were regularly checking their watches…
Half an hour later, police returned and escorted the two Asian passengers off the jet…
Websites used by pilots and cabin crew were yesterday reporting further incidents. In one, two British women with young children on another flight from Spain complained about flying with a bearded Muslim even though he had been security-checked twice before boarding.
Ready to run
What does Time know anyway?
So sensitive is the question of Hillary’s future that both Clintons refused to let Time interview them about it, and they discouraged those around them from talking, which explains why nearly all the people who did talk did so on the condition that their name not be used.
Apparently not much! This I believe:
Those close enough to know say that she is genuinely undecided but that Bill is not disguising his eagerness to see her make a bid for his old job. “He thinks that she should run, and he’s going to do everything possible to help her,” says Texas insurance mogul and philanthropist Bernard Rapoport, a longtime Clinton friend and backer.
I’m ready for the first woman president. I hope she picks an African American for VP.
LATER - They do have this:
This year the Republicans couldn’t even find a credible candidate to take her on, in no small part because of the inroads she has made in more conservative upstate New York. There are other unlikely places where she has won friends and admirers. When Hillary was first elected, General John Keane, then Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, sought an audience, hoping to acquaint the new Senator with some of the Army’s priorities in her state, including West Point and the perpetually deployed 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum. It didn’t entirely surprise him that it took three months to get on her schedule or that, once he did, her staff called his twice to remind him that she couldn’t spare more than 15 minutes.
When he finally got in to see her, however, the meeting did not go as he had expected. For starters, it lasted 45 minutes. “She committed immediately to West Point and the 10th Mountain Division, with follow-up on-site visits,” he says. “But it was her enormous depth of knowledge about the military and her sincerity about our people which surprised and disarmed me.” As First Lady, Hillary told Keane, she had traveled the globe and had often been able to see parts of the world that security prevented her husband from visiting but where the U.S. Army was always present. “She had an extraordinary grasp of our military culture, our soldiers, our families and what it was like for them,” Keane marvels.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Allen’s truth, Dean’s strategy & Hillary should tour!
Actually, I think Senator Allen got it right:
This fellow here over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. He’s with my opponent. He’s following us around everywhere. And it’s just great. We’re going to places all over Virginia, and he’s having it on film and its great to have you here and you show it to your opponent because he’s never been there and probably will never come.
While everyone’s gloating about the odious truth behind Allen’s use of the term macaca, there’s another truth that doesn’t even merit mention: the Dems won’t go there. And they don’t come here. The more I think of it the more it annoys me.
Today I listened to a Times Talk interview of Howard Dean. I have to say I pretty much agree with everything he said.
Contributing writer Matt Bai conducted the interview and seemed to suggest that the Times might have a significant article on the 50 state strategy. If so I’ll be quoting it. I like it.
The notion of strategically writing off the South ticks me off. I live here. I vote here. I’m not alone here.
Which brings me to Hillary. I’m well aware of the revised view that questions the success of her listening tour and considers her upstate strength a myth:
The upstate voters she has won over she courted with retail politics: showing up in small towns, becoming fluent in the most parochial of concerns, and delivering federal dollars. In a region that historically hasn’t seen much of its senators, she has been omnipresent. Zogby says it’s these repeat visits that have done the most to expand her support base. “Presence is so important to upstate voters,” he says. “The psychology is: If you pay attention to us, we’ll give you support.”
But retail politics don’t translate well nationally.
Poppycock! Hillary Clinton, COME ON DOWN!
“Obviously, you can’t do a listening tour in all twelve zillion counties,” says Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie, though he suggests that the same skills are useful during primary season.
Hillary should, right after re-election as senator, set up an exploratory committee and launch a listening tour that is the exact national replica of the one that won her first senate election. And she should start with a swing through the rural South.
Sontag: “Men burn out”
A meditation on the Metropolitan Museum’s small, grave, beautiful photography tribute to Susan Sontag has this passing reference to her sexual identity:
Sontag understood sickness from the inside. In the 1970’s she survived cancer and wrote a fiercely demythologizing book about it, “Illness as Metaphor.” A decade later she followed that with another, “AIDS and Its Metaphors,” an analytical indictment of social stigmatization through disease.
She dedicated that book too to [American artist Paul] Thek, who died the year it appeared. He was an old and influential friend. Like her he was bisexual. But, tormented by his appetites, he kept clear of gay politics. She seems not to have been tormented, but she also kept clear.
Just for fun, a Sontag quote from a May 2000 Guardian piece:
“As I’ve become less attractive to men, so I’ve found myself more with women. It’s what happens. Ask any woman my age. More women come on to you than men. And women are fantastic. Around 40, women blossom. Women are a work-in-progress. Men burn out.”
My experience hints it’s true...er, the women blossom part!
Save Your Space
Save Your Space is a website created by a Southern California organization called “The Friends of MySpace” (not affiliated with News Corp). They have put together a petition against DOPA and they’re trying to collect signatures of people of all ages who are opposed to the legislation. If you are (and you damn well should be if you’re reading my ramblings), please take a moment to sign. And then pass it on.
They want 1,000,000 signatures in one month. There’s only two weeks left. Here‘s the bill. Here‘s the danah boyd and Henry Jenkins public statement of the reasons they think DOPA is a really bad piece of legislation.
RELATED: danah’s putting together what may be the definitive compilation on peer-reviewed social network research sources.
Young & Wal-Mart
I find Ed Kilgore’s ”if Democrats decide to tell these voters they can’t be good progressives and shop at Wal-Mart, we will lose these people” argument persuasive. And I assume Wal-Mart’s days at the top are numbered - it’s the kind of lumbering giant that GM became last century.
So I can’t say that I was bugged that Andrew Young shilled for them. He could do worse:
Referring to the remarks as being singled out from a long interview, Mr. Young said Friday in a telephone interview, “I thought this was kind of below the belt.”
“Now I don’t blame anybody,” he said, a day after apologizing for his remarks and resigning from the Wal-Mart payroll. “It was stupid of me to say in that context. No, it wasn’t stupid of me. I said it in the appropriate context. But I didn’t think about how it would read.” [...]
Mr. Young made his comment to a reporter from a black newspaper, The Los Angeles Sentinel, responding to a question about Wal-Mart’s effects on mom-and-pop businesses.
“I was giving a rational explanation of a historic phenomenon,” he explained later. “Can you talk about ethnicity objectively without it being demeaning or stereotypical?”
He added that he had also discussed black merchants who overcharged the poor.
“The way this came out it makes me sound like I’m refuting everything I’ve done over almost 70 years, frankly,” Mr. Young said.
He defended his work, saying, “I still think that Wal-Mart is good for poor people.”
LATER: Posting as I did without comment - and with those introductory words - could lead you to think I condone his remarks. I don’t. But he has built up enough good will from me that neither do I condemn him.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Bush pardon and pardoning Bush
By granting absolution to a convicted moonshiner, George W. Bush also earned the unique distinction of becoming the first president to pardon a cast member of the 1972 Academy Award-nominated movie “Deliverance.”
Randall Leece Deal of Clayton, Georgia, had a small role in the film about four Atlanta businessmen who have unpleasant encounters with locals during a north Georgia canoe trip…
Deal has never made a single federal political contribution, according to Federal Election Commission records. When asked if he had any special political connections with the White House, Deal laughed and said, “Oh no. No sir. None whatsoever.”
Deal did describe himself as a Bush supporter, pardon or no pardon.
That last line is not unusual coming as it does from a man working in a north Georgia sheriff’s office. But consider the story of 74-year-old Ethel Williams, a Ninth Ward New Orleans resident visited by President Bush after Katrina destroyed her home:
“We’ve got a strategy to help the good folks down here rebuild,” the president said that day. “Part of it has to do with funding; part of it has to do with housing; and a lot of it has to do with encouraging volunteers from around the United States to come down and help people like Mrs. Williams. So we’re proud to be here with you, Mrs. Williams, and God bless you.” [...]
But since that day, not much has happened. Williams’ house has stood gutted, just as it was when the president left.
This is a fascinating story, all the more so because of Mrs. Williams reaction:
Williams says she’s not angry at anyone—especially not the president. She never voted for Mr. Bush, but she says she really felt a connection with him that day in April. She now calls the president a friend.
She’s confident that President Bush will make sure things work out: “You can’t get me to say he won’t, because he will. Watch.”
“What’s your name? I’m gonna call you. I’m gonna prove it to you. Before you leave, let me know how to get in touch with you. I’m gonna call you.”
I have to say I was surprised that the Rove team would let Mrs. Williams’ home become an example like this. But I was more surprised by her reaction.
If I were ‘W’ I’d get that woman’s house fixed then go have gumbo and dirty rice with her!
Snakes and Sam
The Times calls it an amusingly crude, honestly satisfying artifact:
There are several different ways to die from an encounter with a snake and this film has them all. Not long after the passenger lights turn off, the rubber, computer-generated and (several hundred) live snakes slither into the main cabin, where they proceed to sink fangs into faces, necks, limbs, torsos, one bared and bountiful female breast and the unseen organ of a male passenger who forgets the number one rule of using strange bathrooms: check the toilet bowl. Naughty by nature or perhaps more by design, these snakes don’t just dart out of toilets; they also slide up bare legs and under dresses, moving in and out of more bodily orifices than the adult-film star Ron Jeremy did in his prime.
RELATED: Salon in July on why “Snakes on a Plane” turned into Snakes on a Plane.
iPod: Made in China
With no forced labor:
Apple Computer said Thursday that it had found no evidence of forced-labor conditions at a Chinese factory that makes iPod digital music players.
But it said that a company investigation found several violations of Apple’s code of conduct and that the supplier, Foxconn, was changing its practices as a result.
Apple sent an audit team to a Foxconn factory this summer after The Daily Mail of London reported forced labor and other sweatshop working conditions in Longhua, a suburb of the southern city of Shenzhen, where iPods are manufactured.
Here’s Apple’s report.
On Social Media and the Networked Public Sphere
Ulises Ali Mejias provides an excellent summary of the issues surrounding digital publics:
Can social media increase and improve civic participation? If so, in what ways? There’s a lot being said and written about the subject these days, but it is difficult to get a clear overview of the opinions. I attempt here to collect viewpoints both for and against the premise that social media is creating a better public sphere, and analyze them in the context of what constitutes a public and its antithesis, a mass. In presenting what are sometimes extreme positions within this debate (too idealistic v. too critical), my hope is to begin to understand the reality that lies in the middle, and come closer to understanding social media’s potential (and limitations) as a tool to bring about social change.
At a general level, we could say that on one side of the debate are those who believe that social media can increase civic participation and shift the balance of power away from the institutions that currently stand in the way of change. On the other side are those who warn that social media can only offer a reduced form of participation, that it diminishes the value of individual contributions, and that it leaves social systems more prone to manipulation by lowering their intelligence to the minimum common denominator (i.e., stupidity or mediocrity).
Thus, the debate can be framed in terms of whether social media can engender democratic publics that embody an intelligence and capacity for action greater than the sum of its members, or whether it will merely continue to support the production of anti-democratic masses of disenfranchised and alienated consumers. Of course, social media is a big label encompassing many different technologies, and even the same technologies can be applied differently in various contexts. But while features and applications might differ, the people contributing to this debate are obviously focused on the aggregated impact that social media is having on our societies rather than on specific examples of applications.
Via Liz Losh:
Mejias focuses on three areas of concern in current debates: 1) the balance between the ability to produce and consume ideas, 2) the access to affordable and effective means of producing ideas, and 3) how (or if) these ideas are translated into action. It’s worth looking at the comments as well, since Howard Rheingold weighs in with a correction of his position about the NPOV ethos of wiki-communities.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Abstinence only anecdote
It became nearly impossible for the Canton, Ohio, school board to ignore the unintended byproducts of its abstinence-only program when 13 percent of Timken High School’s female student population became pregnant last year. Thanks to Feministing for pointing us in the direction of this ridiculous-but-true story about a school board that has, to its credit, finally seen the light of sex education.
Of course it took 65 of the 490 female students becoming pregnant within a year to adequately deliver that message, but as Jessica of Feministing queried, “I guess better late than never?”
It’s well-known that many societies hold lefties in low esteem. In Christian tradition, the devil is generally associated with the left hand; the word sinister comes from the Latin for left, sinistra. Arabs have historically used the right hand for eating and the left for, er, activities at the other end of the alimentary process. More scientifically, left-handedness is related to a number of physiological conditions. Lefties have higher rates of high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, and schizophrenia.
On the other hand, if you’ll forgive the inevitable bad pun, left-handedness is also linked with creativity. Leonardo da Vinci was a lefty, as were Michelangelo, Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein. Psychologists confirm that left-handedness involves different brain function: While right-handed people seem to have better cognitive skills on average, studies find that lefties are more common among the highly talented.
Ok. But do they roll in the dough?
Thanks to two new studies, one from the United States and another from the United Kingdom, we have some answers… In the U.S. study, college graduates overall earned an average of 30 percent more than high-school graduates. And after accounting for other determinants of pay-age, intelligence, marital status, and race and ethnicity-lefties with college education earned 10 to 15 percent more than their right-handed counterparts.
MythTV is an open source home theater application that runs under linux, but for many new to linux and building your own PC, installing and configuring it can be a daunting task.
Among the many features:
Some DVRs boast letting you fast forward through your commercials - but this usually involves fumbling for a remote and seeking to the start of the next scene. The MonolithMC will actually skip the commercials - without any interaction from you. When the MonolithMC records a show, it is also quietly making notes to where it detects commercial breaks. Later when watching the show, the MonolithMC simply jumps from one mark to the next creating a seemless movie experience - the way it should be.