aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Stephen Colbert: “I like feminists”
Stephen Colbert’s in a major New York Magazine feature this week. I’m looking forward to reading it. He just had the ultimate O’Reilly dig on his show, a special report to make up for “the disturbing allegations that surfaced yesterday regarding several of my female staff members...and their comfort level around me.”
“Advised by counsel” not to go into details, he launches into “A Salute to the American Lady” that featured a “Cooking with Feminists” segment with Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda baking an apple pie (and discussing the launch of their women’s talk radio network). Then Colbert moved on - in red high heels - to an interview with Ariel Levy about her book, Female Chauvinist Pigs.
In 1963 Steinem, famously, worked as a Playboy Bunny to research an exposÃƒÂ© on their poor working conditions and meager wages. Now the Playboy chairman and CEO is a woman, Christie Hefner, who is also the founder of Emily’s List, a fundraising tool for pro-choice candidates, and the Committee of 200, a mentoring and scholarship group. For her book, Ariel asked Hefner about the Playboy bunny:
[p. 39] The rabbit head symbolizes sexy fun, a little bit of rebelliousness, the same way a naval ring does...or low-rider jeans! It’s an obvious I’m taking control of how I look and the statement I’m making as opposed to I’m embarrassed about it or I’m uncomfortable with it. A little bit of that in-your-face...but in a fun way...’frisky’ is a good word.
Frisky and rebellious. That’s feminist? Not even in 1963. More telling is Hugh Hefner’s version, told to Oriana Fallaci in 1967:
[p. 57] The rabbit, the bunny, in America has a sexual meaning, and I chose it because it’s a fresh animal, shy, vicious, jumping-sexy. First it smells you, then it escapes, then it comes back, and you feel like caressing it, playing with it. A girl resembles a bunny. Joyful, joking. Consider the kind of girl that we made popular: the Playmate of the Month. She is never sophisticated, a girl you cannot really have. She is a young, healthy, simple girl-the girl next doorÃ¢â‚¬Â¦we are not interested in the mysterious, difficult woman, the femme fatale, who wears elegant underwear, with lace, and she is sad, and somehow mentally filthy. The Playboy girl has no lace, no underwear, she is naked, well-washed with soap and water, and she is happy.
Great show Stephen! The Fifth Estate shines again.
LATER: I finally got around to posting the video.
Coming Out Day
In honor of coming out day, a reprise from last year...
Today I advised a student on buying a laptop. As we were talking I asked what year he was. A Senior.
“Oh, graduating.” I asked, “What do you plan to do?”
He answered that he was already an ordained minister and that since they don’t make much money, much as he loves his job, he’d probably have to earn a second income. So graduate school could be in his future.
Interesting, I thought, in light of the Slate photo-essay on God’s McMansions. While we do have one that aspires to be here, the “Real Life” church, most are quite small. They don’t make much money.
I was aware that I was having this conversation today, on National Coming Out Day. And that this particular student, the ordained minister, is one I happened to overhear last election season telling a friend that the two most important political issues for him were gay marriage and abortion.
Now I’m about as out as you can be—and yesterday a young woman, after attending a “coming out workshop,” decided to try it out on me as I was talking with my evangelical student staff, but that’s another story. Everyone knows Doug and me as a couple on campus.
When I neglected to fill out my form for the campus directory, the secretary, whom I have never met, called to wonder if I wanted my partrner listed with me. I did. And I was moved by the kindness and consideration of the gesture.
So what did I tell the student minister?
I told him to shop around and find a few he liked, then look them up on the Internet and buy the one he determined to be the best. That his budget could be his guide and name brands (even the one the school endorses) are not necessary.
He knows I’m gay. I’m guessing it took a while before he could be comfortable enough even to ask about the computer. He will vote in favor of the marriage amendment again the next time. But I think he’s more reachable today than he was yesterday. And if we keep it up, he may well vote differently one day.
7 out of 10 know someone gay
As gay men and lesbians celebrate another National Coming Out Day on Wednesday, a new survey reports seven out of 10 straight adults in the United States say they know someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
The nationwide Harris Interactive online survey of 2,932 U.S. adults also found that 83 percent of those who self-identify as gay or lesbian consider themselves out.
When LGBT respondents were asked if they considered themselves open about their sexual orientation, 92 percenet said they are out to their close friends, and 78 percent said they are out to their parents.
A majority also indicated they are out to other people in their lives, including grandparents, cousins, acquaintances and casual friends, and coworkers and colleagues.
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.
LATER: Cory has more on the TiVo self-destruct button, “Wouldn’t it be better if TiVo didn’t build in any technology that attacks its customers?”
Battelle & Lohmann on GooTube
In an online interview with John Battelle, EFF’s Fred von Lohmann not surprisingly considers YouTube’s DMCA Safe Harbor argument “to be on relatively firm legal ground… It looks like YouTube is working hard to keep its boat in sheltered copyright waters.”
He likes Google’s Library Project (and provides great links to articulate why) and had this to say on Google getting sued:
YouTube has already been sued (by LA New Service), so Google is essentially buying that lawsuit. But I don’t think that’s a problem—frankly, precedent set against YouTube will likely exert strong influence over the entire video hosting industry. So, in essence, Google is just getting more direct control over a lawsuit that is important for its existing and future business. And when it comes to lawsuits, Google has top-drawer talent (both in-house and in outside law firms), strategic vision, and a stellar track record. Google’s executives (like AOL’s and Yahoo’s before them) understand that shaping the legal precedents is a critical part of their business.
And it’s important to consider who are the people suing YouTube. I’ve thought for some time that the first lawsuits against YouTube (and other video hosting services) will be from small copyright owners (like LA News Service), not from major media companies. That’s good news for YouTube (and Google). Small timers tend to lack the resources to bring top-drawer legal talent to bear in these fights. As a result, they often lose, creating useful precedents for the Google’s of the world. In fact, Google has already been successful in securing good precedents against unsophisticated opponents who thought that they could squeeze a quick settlement out of Google (Field v. Google, Parker v. Google). What the small-timers don’t appreciate is that Google would much rather spend money on setting a good precedent than on settling.
Freer than free
IceWeasel is a version of Firefox created for use in “free” operating systems like Debian (and its derivatives, such as Ubuntu), which eschew any element that can’t be freely reused by anyone, for any reason. Iceweasel was developed because Firefox and the Firefox logo are trademarked, and because some of the default Firefox plugins can’t be freely redistributed. Iceweasel will be synchronized with the current Firefox release, but without the non-free artwork and plugins. Link
The Future of the First Amendment
Harold Jenkins discusses The Student Press Law Center and the Future of the First Amendment:
The website reports on a recently released study on the Future of the First Amendment, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which looked into young people’s attitudes towards free expression. Among the studies findings was evidence that there has been a significant increase in the percentage of students who have studied the First Amendment in their classes (up 14 percent since 2004), that 64 percent of students favored the right of student journalists to publish what they want without prior restraint (up from 58 percent two years earlier), and that 45 percent of students (compared to 35 percent just two years ago) believe that the First Amendment “goes too far” in protecting the rights of the media. We can see this last statistic perhaps as evidence of the climate that has shaped this culture since 9/11—where criticism of the government’s position gets read by a significant percentage of Americans as unpatriotic or “going too far.”
His post is so much more than that, and I agree with nearly all of it, even as I think it a bit tinged by a rose-colored recall of his student journalist past.
In particular, in the quote above, that 45% of students who think the First Amendment goes too far (even as some of those same people must believe that they get to say “what they want") merits examination beyond the simple unsupported assumption that it’s due to a climate shaped by 9/11.
I’ll be giving those findings more thought. I wish Henry had too.
I tend to think that with government (both Republican & Democrat) in the pocket of business (both the telecom and Hollywood varieties) the only (”legitimate," vs those with a slightly more guerrilla) way to win is for one market segment to defeat another.
A look at the players in the Net Neutrality debate - Google, eBay and Amazon v. AT&T, Verizon and Comcast - makes plain to me which represent the future and which the past. I’m looking forward. Perhaps with naive hope.
It will be interesting to see what happens next and what happens in the copyright world. I still think Google Lawyers will be a busy, busy bunch. I dont think you can sue Google into oblivion, but as others have mentioned, if Google gets nailed one single time for copyright violation, there are going to be more shareholder lawsuits than doans has pills to go with the pile on copyright suits that follow. Think maybe how Google discloses what they perceive the copyright risk to be in the SEC filings might be an interesting read ?
I think there will be supoenas to get the names of Youtube and Google Video users. Lots of them as those copyright owners not part of the gravy train go after both Google and their users for infringement.
It will be interesting to see how this impacts DRM. As it stands now, there is no DRM on all that video being offered from Google or YouTube. Millions of copyrighted videos that their owners spent a boatload to copyprotect that is available to everyone and everyone without it. (Personally i think DRM is a waste of money, but will all those labels and content providers ?)
His doom and gloom conclusion is well worth reading but better answered by others. I’ll be quoting them.
My own contention stands: YouTube’s no Napster. Downloading free songs does not a community make; uploading your favorite shows so that you become one of your friends’ favorite channels makes a very powerful community. Cuban and the Content Cartel will yet figure out that they’ll make money from that community using their copyrighted content.
As Bette Davis so famously said, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.” Flying’s still the fastest way to get to where you’re going; and I’m still betting on a safe landing.
House sex research & religious faculty
A couple interesting pieces in The Chronicle today. From the first, 2 Democrats’ Votes on Sex-Related NIH Research in 2003 Become Fodder for Attack Ads:
Two Democrats running for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives have come under attack for their votes three years ago in support of controversial sex-related academic research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.
The attacks, in advertisements that their Republican challengers have sought to air on television stations in North Carolina and Wisconsin, accuse the incumbents of voting to spend money to study “the masturbation habits of old men” and “to pay teenage girls to watch pornographic movies with probes connected to their genitalia” instead of authorizing appropriations for body armor needed by American troops at war.
According to a FactCheck.org analysis:
[O]ne study, which the ads say was of “Vietnamese prostitutes,” [was] an effort by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco to find a way to prevent the spread of AIDS.
Another study, referred to as “Masturbation Habits of Old Men,” was part of a larger study on how declining sexual function affects the quality of life of elderly men, according to the Web site.
The ads refer to two other studies as examining “Two-Spirited Aleutian Eskimos” and using teenage girls as subjects in a study of sexual arousal. According to FactCheck.org, the Aleutian grant did not deal with just Eskimos, but attempted to gain a “national picture” of homosexual and transgender individuals in the American Indian and Native Alaskan populations. The other study made no mention of teenage girls as test subjects, and did not receive federal funds in 2003, the Web site says, although it had been supported in 2001 and 2002.
Another Chronicle report looks at a Harvard working paper finding that Professors Are More Religious Than Some Might Assume:
[M]ost professors, contrary to the stereotype, are not atheists. In fact, only 10 percent of professors surveyed said they did not believe in God, while 13 percent said they did not know whether there was a God and did not believe there was any way to find out. Those responses, taken together, show that professors are more than twice as likely to be nonbelievers or skeptics than, for instance, college-educated people in general, of whom only 11 percent consider themselves atheists or agnostics.
But the findings also mean that the majority of professors entertain at least the possibility of God’s existence. Nearly one-fifth of respondents said they believed in a “higher power of some kind.” An additional 36 percent said they had no doubts about the existence of God, while 17 percent generally believed in God but had some doubts.