aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, September 18, 2006
Come out! Come out! Wherever you are!
McGreevey’s story is NOT a coming out story; rather it is an involuntary outing story born of political corruption and dishonesty.
McGreevey was forced out of the closet by blackmail and scandal. He did nothing noble and should be no one’s hero. And when Oprah hugs him and has her audience give him love on Tuesday, I suppose that will be the Christian thing to do. But some of us will cringe.
Speaking of cringing, nothing is more telling about the lack of gay acceptance and the need for gay marriage than this:
Nearly one in 10 men who say they’re straight have sex only with other men, a New York City survey finds.
And 70% of those straight-identified men having sex with men are married.
In fact, 10% of all married men in this survey report same-sex behavior during the past year.
SEE ALSO: Being gay is a choice. The right choice!.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Faith & courage
A religious moderate who practices no religion at all, I have been looking for an answer to Sam Harris’s potent argument as expressed in synopsis in this Future of Ideas session at Pop!Tech 2005.
In discussing the Papal Address at University of Regensburg Andrew Sullivan gave me some of what I’ve been looking for:
I just finished reading "The End of Faith" by Sam Harris, and found much in it that stimulated and engaged and even inspired. On the dangers of an anti-rational fundamentalism in religion, I recommend the book heartily. But it is, I’m afraid, too glibly dismissive of "the whole" to be persuasive, too deaf to the myriad ways in which faith can interact and be strengthened by what the Pope calls "logos", the word, reason itself. This reasoned faith, in order to exist, must include doubt and skepticism and the earnest search for truth, which, in turn, must necessarily never conflict with God. Doubt is not an obstacle to faith; it is necessary for faith to exist at all.
And here Sullivan persuades me that the Pope’s message is an inflammatory but courageous one.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
In Atlanta: Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?
UPDATE: The date has been changed back to the originally scheduled September 29. More later.
Opens September 22 at The Plaza in Atlanta. Michael Kime:
A documentary film that I co-wrote and co-produced, Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?, premieres at the Plaza in Atlanta for a one-week run on Friday, September 22nd. [...]
We follow the 2004 Missouri Democratic primary to replace retiring 28-year veteran and former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt. It’s told from inside the campaign of Jeff Smith, a 29-year old adjunct political science prof who embarked on a quixotic bid against Russ Carnahan, scion of Missouri’s most powerful political dynasty. As one analyst says: “The Carnahan name is to Missouri what the Kennedy name is to Massachusetts.”
The odds against Jeff are overwhelming. He starts with no money, no political base and no name ID. His staff is a hodge-podge of political nobodies - mostly his former students. But with the help of DFA Founder Howard Dean (who appears in the film), he mobilizes an army of nearly 500 volunteers, generating a youth-oriented grassroots insurgency that poses a serious challenge to Carnahan and overturns the conventional wisdom about the race.
The film, which the St. Louis Post-Dispatch called the best political documentary since “The War Room,” offers an unvarnished look at the inside of what Roll Call dubbed one of 2004’s most surprising campaigns.
The film premiered at the Silverdocs AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival where it was awarded the Audience Award. Skinner from Democratic Underground went to the premiere and wrote this review.
Like many who make documentaries with their own money, he can’t afford a press blitz so must rely on the grassroots.
I’ll be there next weekend. If you’re in town, I hope you will be there too. Pass it on…
Friday, September 15, 2006
Amazon Unbox: Raw deal!
Amazon’s new video-on-demand store may sound like a good idea, but once you take a look at the “agreement” you enter into by giving them your money, that changes. The Amazon terms-of-service are among the worst I’ve ever seen, a document through which you surrender your rights to privacy, integrity of your personal data, and control over your computer, in exchange for a chance to pay near-retail cost to watch Police Academy n-1. As Ben Franklin might have said: They that can give up general purpose computers for the sake of a little eye candy deserve neither computers nor eye candy. [...]
When you sign onto Unbox, you sign away all the amazing customer rights that Amazon itself is so careful to protect. Amazon Unbox takes away your privacy and every conceivable consumer right you have, and then tells you that the goods you buy from them don’t belong to you, and they can take them away from you at any time, or change the deal you get from them without any appeal by you.
Amazon Unbox’s user agreement isn’t just galling for its evilness—it’s also commercially suicidal. [READ ON]
Thursday, September 14, 2006
The Atlanta Bar plans to honor adulterous fornicator Bowers
A group of gay and lesbian lawyers is protesting the Atlanta Bar Association’s decision to honor former Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers with an esteemed Leadership Award, arguing that Bowers’ most famous legal victory “is one of the most shameful [court decisions] of our era.Ã¢â‚¬Â�
In the 1986 U.S. Supreme Court case known as Bowers v. Hardwick, Bowers successfully defended Georgia’s anti-sodomy law against a challenge by Michael Hardwick, a gay man who was arrested inside his Atlanta apartment for engaging in consensual oral sex with another man. The 5-4 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick technically made it illegal to be a sexually active gay man or lesbian in Georgia, until the Georgia Supreme Court struck down the state sodomy law twelve years later.
The U.S. Supreme Court also reversed Bowers v. Hardwick with its 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas.
Please, TAKE ACTION.
More on Bowers:
In 1991, Bowers rescinded an offer to Robin Shahar to work in the attorney general’s office after learning that Shahar was a lesbian who was planning to have a private, religious commitment ceremony with her partner. Bowers engaged in a protracted, successful legal battle - based significantly on the decision in Bowers v. Hardwick - arguing that Shahar was unfit to serve in the state’s law department because she was essentially violating the state sodomy law by being in a lesbian relationship.
In 1997, days after winning the federal lawsuit brought against him by Shahar, Bowers - who was a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor at the time - admitted having a long-term extramarital affair, in violation of the state’s law against adultery and fornication.
Goint to a wing nut’s wedding
I’m heading off to my niece’s wedding on Saturday, so blogging may be light over the next few days. This isn’t the first time that niece has appeared on my blog. From April, 2005, in its entirety…
My niece is nuts for Wing. That’s her dressed as Wing for a Halloween costume party last year.
She writes: “Wing appeared on South Park!! Did you SEE it?! I have it downloaded.”
Her voice sounds like the cry of a shy hamster in whose rectum a hot poker has just been inserted. The New Zealand-based performer’s squeaky, ear-shredding rendition of “Dancing Queen” (Link: MP3) was featured in a South Park episode last week. I really need to get out on the internet more often, I don’t know how I missed this—Jesus, I just figured they’d made the character up...Her new album of ABBA covers is magnificent: Link.
I just checked. My Wing Nut Facebook group has 2 members. One of them is me.
Gay pols: “a good thing”
While in Germany:
Berlin’s charismatic and openly gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit, is tipped to secure re-election in a vote on Sunday, but the question on German minds is whether he is destined one day to be their chancellor. [...]
Like his gay Parisian counterpart Bertrand Delanoe, Wowereit’s homosexuality has not hindered him.
In fact, his outing in 2001 precipitated by concerns the press would get there first is remembered for the words he used which have since attained cult status: “I’m gay and that’s a good thing.”
“It plays less and less of a role,” Neugebauer said. “There is of course town and country, Protestant and Catholic, but lifestyle is no longer a factor that splits people.”
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
The right to serve
MADISON, Wis. -The three young men who tried to enlist at an Army recruiting station here appeared to be first-rate military material.
Two were college students, and the other was a college graduate. They had no criminal records. They were fit and eager to serve at a time when wars on two fronts have put a strain on American troops and the need for qualified recruits is great.
But the recruiter was forced to turn them away, for one reason: they are gay and unwilling to conceal it.
“Don’t judge me because of my sexuality,” said one of the three, Justin Hager, 20, a self-described Republican from a military family who has “a driving desire to join” the armed forces. “Judge me because of my character and drive.”
As the Pentagon’s search for soldiers grows more urgent, gay rights groups are making the biggest push in nearly a decade to win repeal of a compromise policy, encoded in a 1993 law and dubbed “don’t ask, don’t tell,” that bars openly gay people from serving in the military.
It’s not the grunts on the ground that keep this policy in place:
“Would you rather have a felon than a gay soldier?” said Capt. Scott Stanford, a heterosexual National Guard commander of a headquarters company who returned from Iraq in June. “I wouldn’t.” [..]
“People are really blasÃƒÂ© about the issue,” said Tim Smith, 24, a former marine who was discharged last year after a civilian chaplain, told of Mr. Smith’s homosexuality by congregants, alerted his commander.
I just wish someone would give Nancy Grace some of her own medicine:
Two weeks after telling police that her son had been snatched from his crib, Melinda Duckett found herself reeling in an interview with TV’s famously prosecutorial Nancy Grace. Before it was over, Grace was pounding her desk and loudly demanding to know: “Where were you? Why aren’t you telling us where you were that day?”
A day after the taping, Duckett, 21, shot herself to death, deepening the mystery of what happened to the boy.
Police have refused to say whether she left a suicide note, and said nothing they have found so far in their investigation of her death has shed light on the whereabouts of her 2-year-old son, Trenton.
Investigators have stopped short of calling her a suspect but have focused increasing attention on her movements just before the boy vanished and the notes, computer, camera and other items seized from her house.
Duckett’s family members disputed any suggestion that she hurt her son. They said that the strain of her son’s disappearance pushed her to the brink, and the media sent her over the edge.
Rebecca Dana’s New York Observer piece from last winter documented well that Grace falsified much of her own crusader for victims’ rights and professional vilifier story.
Via Gay Orbit, “She was an idiot as a prosecutor in Atlanta. She still is.”
Sonny Perdue: Get elected governor, take a tax break
Wonkette’s been listening to radio in Atlanta:
SMARTASS CALLER: “The one thing I haven’t been able to do is find a way to have a friend of mine write me a bill that saves me a $100,000 on my taxes. I was wondering how I might be able to get that done.”
GEORGIA GOVERNOR SONNY PERDUE: “Well, you get elected governor, Brian.”
Over at MyDD they have a Governor Forecast 2006 Update. Sonny can afford the candor, Georgia’s still safely in the “Likely Republican” category.
TiVo HD no Myth
TiVo newbies might experience a little sticker shock when pricing the Series3. At $799, that’s a significant jump from even the most expensive Series2 TiVo DVR, which tops out at $399. But TiVo has its eye on deep-pocketed consumers and hardcore videophiles who are already dropping serious money for HD televisions. [...]
The feature package explains the high price tag. It’s the first THX-certified DVR, bringing to the home theater the same high-quality sound viewers would get at the multiplex. THX, which essentially means the movie’s sound is guaranteed to come off the way a director intended, was first used in the 1980s. THX has “a high premium perception in the market,” and TiVo worked together with THX to make sure the sound and picture quality can be delivered according to THX’s standards, Morrison said.
Two cable card slots enable the TiVo to record two programs in HD at the same time while the user is watching a third pre-recorded show. The Series2 can record just two basic cable channels or one basic cable and one digital cable channel at once. The previous incarnation also could not record over-the-air stations.
I haven’t been happy about the TiVo subscription price options and I’m not as much of an early adopter geek as I once was. When it comes time to replace my old clunker, I’ll be considering the subscription free open source alternative, MythTV,
None of the above
LATER: Read/Write Web, ”Apple’s iPod success won’t be repeated with iTV.”
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Pictures lie! Again.
One side effect of the pervasive camera is that we confidently believe we know more than we actually do. We apparently haven’t learned that pictures lie.
[T]here’s another taboo 9/11 photo, about life rather than death, that is equally shocking in its way, so much so that Thomas Hoepker of Magnum Photos kept it under wraps for four years. Mr. Hoepker’s picture can now be found in David Friend’s compelling new 9/11 book, “Watching the World Change,” or on the book’s Web site, watchingtheworldchange.com. It shows five young friends on the waterfront in Brooklyn, taking what seems to be a lunch or bike-riding break, enjoying the radiant late-summer sun and chatting away as cascades of smoke engulf Lower Manhattan in the background.
I missed it when it ran on Sunday; it was brought to my attention by David Plotz’s critique of it in Slate, Frank Rich Is Wrong About That 9/11 Photograph:
But wait! Look at the photograph. Do you agree with Rich’s account of it? Do these look like five New Yorkers who are “enjoying the radiant late-summer sun and chatting away”? Who have “move[d] on”? Who-in Rich’s malicious, backhanded swipe-"aren’t necessarily callous”? They don’t to me. I wasn’t there, and Hoepker was, so it may well be that they were just swapping stories about the Yankees. But I doubt it. The subjects are obviously engaged with each other, and they’re almost certainly discussing the horrific event unfolding behind them. They have looked away from the towers for a moment not because they’re bored with 9/11, but because they’re citizens participating in the most important act in a democracy-civic debate.
I had my upstairs neighbor down and cooked steaks on the grill in my Brooklyn backyard that night. A photograph might have given Rich reason to conclude that I was “not necessarily callous… just American.”
The photograph wouldn’t have shown that in those first moments after the first tower collapsed - when the city had already sealed all the bridges and tunnels and there was no way out, when traffic was gridlocked, and horns honked and people were hollering on my street - that I ran to the shower and filled pails with water; that I turned on the stove and cooked enough spaghetti (the only food in my house) to last me for days; that I knocked on my neighbors’ doors to say that we should all band together (they thought I was a bit nuts - I was) and then I went to the store and bought more food.
But back to the people in the picture:
Rich and Hoepker and I have all characterized what these five people were doing and how they were feeling, but none of us really know. Wouldn’t you like to hear from the five themselves? I would. If they’re out there and they’d like to respond to Rich or me, they can e-mail me at .
For my last example of a lying photo, see here.
BETTER RICH: Coming in the Times Book Review this weekend, a review of Frank Rich’s new book, The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth From 9/11 to Katrina.
The God poll
So USA Today has a story reporting on how your view of God can predict your political values:
A new survey of religion in the USA finds four very different images of God - from a wrathful deity thundering at sinful humanity to a distant power uninvolved in mankind’s affairs.
But answer me this:
Religion-themed movies and books have a vast reach: 44.3% of those polled saw Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ. More than one in 10 of all surveyed say they spent $50 or more in the past month on items such as religious books, music and jewelry.
Did 44% of Americans really see that film? That’s 131,010,221 people.
Buzz. Buzz. Buzz.
Good for Harvard
Harvard will be the first of the nation’s prestigious universities to do away completely with early admissions, in which high school seniors try to bolster their chances at competitive schools by applying in the fall and learning whether they have been admitted in December, months before other students.
Some universities now admit as much as half of their freshman class this way, and many, though not Harvard, require an ironclad commitment from students that they will attend in return for the early acceptance.
Wear a helmet, get hit by a bus!
Here’s one for the Freakonomics crowd:
CYCLISTS who wear helmets are more likely to be knocked off their bicycles than those who do not, according to research.
Motorists give helmeted cyclists less leeway than bare-headed riders because they assume that they are more proficient. They give a wider berth to those they think do not look like “proper” cyclists, including women, than to kitted-out “lycra-clad warriorsÃ¢â‚¬Â�.
Ian Walker, a traffic psychologist, was hit by a bus and a truck while recording 2,500 overtaking manoeuvres. On both occasions he was wearing a helmet.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Open enrollment @ Facebook
They’ll let anyone in to Facebook these days.
Once the exclusive online stomping grounds of college students, social networking site Facebook.com is throwing open the doors to rest of the world. The site is slated to announce in coming weeks that anyone can gain access to the site, simply by affiliating themselves with a particular city or region.
I’m not sure I like it. But if i were going to do it, the way I’d do it is the way Google did GMail: parcel out invites (and keep refreshing the parcel) to current members. Especially in light of the recent ruckus.
Gay Americans & 9/11
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Republicans are planning to spend the vast majority of their sizable financial war chest over the final 60 days of the campaign attacking Democratic House and Senate candidates over personal issues and local controversies, GOP officials said.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, which this year dispatched a half-dozen operatives to comb through tax, court and other records looking for damaging information on Democratic candidates, plans to spend more than 90 percent of its $50 million-plus advertising budget on what officials described as negative ads.
The iPod, the digital music player beloved of everyone from Coldplay’s Chris Martin to President George Bush, is in danger of losing its sheen. Sales are declining at an unprecedented rate. Industry experts talk of a ‘backlash’ and of the iPod ‘wilting away before our eyes’. Most disastrously, Apple’s signature pocket device with white earphones may simply have become too common to be cool. [...]
Analysts warn that the iPod has passed its peak. From its launch five years ago its sales graph showed a consistent upward curve, culminating in a period around last Christmas that saw a record 14 million sold. But sales fell to 8.5 million in the following quarter, and down to 8.1 million in the most recent three-month period. Wall Street is reportedly starting to worry that the bubble will burst.
Tomi Ahonen, a technology brand expert and author, said: ‘For the first time the iPod has had two consecutive falls after 17 quarters of growth. If I were the manager, I would be wanting my people to explain what is going on. The iPod is wilting away before our eyes.’
RELATED: 10 reasons not to buy an iPod.
Email’s not going away. Again.
Yesterday Fred Wilson declared email dead and blamed AOL:
Email is for old farts. And [kids] wonder why we use it.
And I blame AOL for that. Not that I think it’s a big deal. They get by just fine with other messaging systems, maybe better than I do with email.
But I am sure that AOL is the reason they don’t use email and never will.
Then today - as I was authoring this post - buzztracker Techmeme linked to his post. Fred is hot! But me, I’m disappointed in him. And not just because his email-is-for-old-farts declaration came on my 52nd birthday! Rather, it’s because I expected better of him.
I buy into Ray Kurzweil’s observations on paradigm shifts, “New communications paradigms...don’t eclipse old paradigms.” TV didn’t kill radio and movies didn’t kill theater and the Internet won’t kill newspapers and IM won’t kill email:
To hear people saying that we’re striving toward real time communications, I think that’s only half true. Many real-time communications [technologies] like the telephone evolved the store and forward capability later, because only half of the people are interested. The person placing the call wants to talk now; the person receiving the call tries to decide is this a good time or should it roll to voicemailÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
I think that every communications channel really needs both a real-time and a store and forwarded component and each one grows the other. Email is store and forward and IM is real-time. Why are those two different industries? I think that’s a temporary situation.
There are times that you want to have access to your mother right now and other times when the last person on earth you want to have access to you right now is your mother!
IM will unquestionably grow because we clutter email with what should better be instant messages. We’ll learn. But email is here to stay.
GoogleEarth Blog reports a Huge Update to Google Earth and Maps Aerial/Satellite Photos - September 8 and 9:
This update increased high resolution coverage in a number of areas (several states in the US are now all, or nearly, completely covered). Also, new metropolitan areas are covered in a number of states or countries.
He’s got links and examples. The entire state of Georgia now has some form of high res, though the 17th Street Bridge and all of Atlantic Station are missing from Atlanta* and they don’t have the level of imagery required to zoom all the way in to my little town.
* The photo is of a jet leaving Hartsfield Jackson. It must have been years ago, the new runway’s not there either.
The path FROM 9/11
Five years later, Bin Laden Trail ‘Stone Cold’:
The clandestine U.S. commandos whose job is to capture or kill Osama bin Laden have not received a credible lead in more than two years. Nothing from the vast U.S. intelligence world—no tips from informants, no snippets from electronic intercepts, no points on any satellite image—has led them anywhere near the al-Qaeda leader, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.
“The handful of assets we have have given us nothing close to real-time intelligence” that could have led to his capture, said one counterterrorism official, who said the trail, despite the most extensive manhunt in U.S. history, has gone “stone cold.” READ ON.
For The Path TO 9/11, see Max Blumenthal here.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Brad Pitt, my hero!
Brad Pitt has said that he won’t marry Angelina Jolie until the laws over gay marriage are changed in America.
The Hollywood megastar believes that same sex marriage should be made legal - an issue that is currently dividing the country.
Pitt told Esquire magazine: “Angie and I will consider tying the knot when everyone else in the country who wants to be married is legally able.”