aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, November 05, 2006
An embeddable Comedy Central player
When media execs wonder why people watch their copyrighted material on YouTube instead of the exact same clips on their own branded sites, well, it’s because their players don’t hold a candle to YouTube. Buffering issues, mandatory downloads, no comments, no direct URL for linking and no ability to embed the players on blogs, to name a few. So it’s good to hear that Comedy Central is relaunching its player later this month with embedding functionality. And Fox is working on a streaming version of its player, which currently requires a download.
They don’t build TV sets so I don’t get why they feel they have to build the player. Let GooTube do it and just sell ads and collect the revenue.
And I’m happy as can be to have a player all tarted up with ad text and logos; just please keep the video ads “click-to-play.”
Have no fear, the Robo-Car is here. Almost.
The Times today on the new automated parking systems:
THE steering wheel of the big Lexus seemed possessed, spinning around briskly and decisively as the luxury flagship parallel-parked itself in one smooth, automated move.
The demonstration of the latest magic trick in auto electronics, automated parallel parking, was a slightly unsettling look at technology now arriving in showrooms.
What’s unsettling to me is that the Lexus system costs over $4,000 and needs a spot with six extra feet of clearance beyond the length of the car (good luck finding a parking space that big in New York; or even Atlanta for that matter).
Four grand and still you have to find the spot, position the car appropriately and place a yellow flag on the screen to tell the system which is the leading corner of the parking space. It won’t work on a slope and leaves it to you to stop, shift into forward gear and straighten the wheels.
A better system is coming soon to the Volkswagen Touran, but what I found most interesting in the Times article was this quote:
According to Bob Allan, the manager of Lexus’s dealer-training programs, the hardest adjustment for drivers is leaving the steering wheel alone to do its work. The tendency is to grab the wheel, he said, because parking is a high-stress maneuver.
“It takes a little bit of trust to actually let the vehicle steer itself in,” said Mr. Allan, who has been introducing the Lexus LS 460’s self-parking feature to dealers and journalists.
A long-time believer that the future of automated driving is closer than we think, the problem I expect will not be the technology. Rather, it is us:
A highly regarded roboticist, [Jay Gowdy] has worked for nearly two decades to build self-driving cars, first with CMU and, more recently, with SAIC, a Fortune 500 defense contractor. He notes that in the US, about 43,000 people die in traffic accidents every year. Robot-driven cars would radically reduce the number of fatalities, he says, but there would still be accidents, and those deaths would be attributable to computer error. “The perception is that in the majority of accidents today, those who die are drunk, lazy, or stupid and bring it on themselves,” Gowdy says. “If computers take over the driving, any deaths are likely to be perceived as the loss of people who did nothing wrong.”
The resulting liability issues are a major hurdle. If a robotically driven car gets in an accident, who is to blame? If a software bug causes a car to swerve off the road, should the programmer be sued, or the manufacturer? Or is the accident victim at fault for accepting the driving decisions of the onboard computer? Would Ford or GM be to blame for selling a “faulty” product, even if, in the larger view, that product reduced traffic deaths by tens of thousands?
That’s from a January Wired article on developing a self-aware car. In such a vehicle, we will no longer be “drivers.” Rather, we’ll be “planners:”
“We want to move up the food chain,” says Bob Denaro, Navteq’s VP of business development. The company sees itself moving beyond the help-me-I’m-lost gizmo business and into the center of the new driving experience. That’s not to say that the steering wheel will disappear; it will just be gradually de-emphasized. We will continue to sit in the driver’s seat and have the option of intervening if we choose. As Denaro notes: “A person’s role in the car is changing. People will become more planners than drivers.”
And why not - since the car is going to be a better driver than a human anyway. With the addition of map information, a car will know the angle of a turn that’s still 300 feet away. Navteq is in the process of collecting slope information, road width, and speed limits - all things that bathe the vehicle in more data than a human could ever handle.
Denaro believes that the key to making people comfortable with the shift from driver to planner will be the same thing that made pilots comfortable accepting autopilot in the cockpit: situational awareness. If a robot simply says it wants to go left instead of right, we feel uncomfortable. But if a map showed a traffic jam to the right and the machine listed reasons for rerouting, then we would have no problem pressing the Accept Route Change icon. We feel like we are still in control.
“Autopilot in the cockpit greatly extended the pilots’ skills,” Denaro says. Automation in driving will do the same thing.
Maybe so. But me, I’d be just as happy with a dumb car that follows beacons!
President Supreme Court (reprise)
Contrarian that I am, I like Amy Sullivan. Here’s what she said just now on The Chris Matthews Show:
If the Democrats do take back the Senate...I believe that Hillary Clinton will not run for president. She will make a deal with Harry Reid to stay in the senate and be majority leader. She is just by temperament a senator, she is not an executive like her husband is; and she loves being in the senate and she could do a whole lot more good with two, three, four more terms there than she could in four years [as president].
Amy expects we’d know “sometime in November.”
So I’ve been walking around imagining that four years from today we could have Hillary as majority leader, Pelosi as speaker of the house and Obama as president. Two women and a black man; what a different world that would be!
My imagination doesn’t stop there. In the summer of ‘05 The Washington Monthly had a debate between Carl Cannon (pro) and Amy Sullivan (con) on Hillary’s presidential chances in 2008. I read it just after reading Norman Ornstein’s persuasive argument for more politicians on the court.
Add it all up and you might conclude, as I did, that the best place for Hillary Clinton is the Supreme Court of the United States of America. (For those of you who object, please see also Hillary: a uniter not a divider.)
That’s my dream scenario and I’m sticking to it!
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Gannett turns to crowdsourcing
The publisher of “America’s newspaper” is turning to America to get its news.
According to internal documents provided to Wired News and interviews with key executives, Gannett, the publisher of USA Today as well as 90 other American daily newspapers, will begin crowdsourcing many of its newsgathering functions. Starting Friday, Gannett newsrooms were rechristened “information centers,” and instead of being organized into separate metro, state or sports departments, staff will now work within one of seven desks with names like “data,” “digital” and “community conversation.”
The initiative emphasizes four goals: Prioritize local news over national news; publish more user-generated content; become 24-7 news operations, in which the newspapers do less and the websites do much more; and finally, use crowdsourcing methods to put readers to work as watchdogs, whistle-blowers and researchers in large, investigative features.
“This is a huge restructuring for us,” said Michael Maness, the VP for strategic planning of news and one of the chief architects of the project. According to an e-mail sent Thursday to Gannett news staff by CEO Craig Dubow, the restructuring has been tested in 11 locations throughout the United States, but will be in place throughout all of Gannett’s newspapers by May. “Implementing the (Information) Center quickly is essential. Our industry is changing in ways that create great opportunity for Gannett.”
Bob Perry’s rifle-shot aimed at me
Nov. 3 (Bloomberg)—Bob Perry, the Houston homebuilder who led the drive to discredit Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry’s war record in 2004, has replaced George Soros as the biggest donor in U.S. politics.
Perry, 74, has given at least $9.2 million to groups backing Republican House and Senate candidates, Federal Election Commission records show. In 2004, Soros, 76, was the top contributor, giving at least $27 million in an effort to defeat President George W. Bush.
Perry is targeting congressional races in states such as Georgia, Oregon, Iowa and West Virginia that may have slipped off the radar of national party leaders. “You’re dealing with a much more rifle-shot operation’’ than in 2004, said Kent Cooper, co- founder of Washington-based PoliticalMoneyLine, which tracks campaign spending. “Play the long shot and your payoff is much bigger.’’
He’s also responsible for the Economic Freedom Fund push-polling; I got one of those too.
Self-loathing homophobia acted out is not a gay sex scandal
I flat out don’t agree with Chris Crain that this will “if anything...galvanize conservatives,” but his description of repressed self-loathing homophobia acted out is dead on:
If, in fact, Reverend Haggard is a gay man who married a woman, had a family, and yet paid men for sex on the side, then the saddest part of the story is that he probably did view homosexuality as a threat to “the family” and to marriage. For him, it was. And all those gay couples leading happy lives and seeking equal treatment from their government? They are a living-breathing condemnation of the path he felt forced to take. They chose to have their cake (accepting their homosexuality), and now they want to eat it, too (with societal acceptance).
While I’m not nearly so cynical as this, it’s beautifully put. Proceed at your own risk:
This is not a gay sex scandal; this isn’t about Haggard engaging in homosexual activities with a male prostitute and doing illegal drugs, this is about a profoundly corrupt and broken system of leadership in government and society overall that is dominated by hypocrites, pirates and megalomaniacs who are raping what’s left of this nation while a frightened and very confused majority of Americans watch their lives go down the toilet.
The true scandal here is that this will become another gay thing, bad for the gay community and very bad for America.
Pervasive corruption, hypocrisy and immorality among our political, religious and community leaders is an American crisis, not a gay crisis. But the gay card will divert the media and the American people from the real problem and nothing good will come of it. It’s McGreevey, Foley and the Catholic priesthood all over again, all about gay when it’s really about corruption, power and greed.
Activist Courts & Emergent Democracy
The Supreme Court’s ruling in Bush v. Gore was surprising. Shocking, in fact. Probably the most fatuous - i.e., knowingly stupid - Supreme Court decision in history. The justices of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), who upheld racial segregation, could at least plead historical blinders. The majority justices of Bush v. Gore have no such excuse. Both as a raw assertion of judicial power and as a more specific interpretation of the 14th Amendment, it was not merely wrong, but spectacularly wrong in precisely the ways that conservative justices like Scalia, Rehnquist and Thomas had been objecting to for years. The justices invented a nonsensical equal-protection “right” - essentially, the right to an equal risk of having your vote miscounted - and held that any attempt to correct mistakes through a recount was unfair to those who didn’t get recounted. And then they declared this alleged right to be a one-time-only offer, like a grocery-store coupon. As Adam Cohen pointed out recently on the New York Times editorial page, the coupon has indeed expired. Bush v. Gore is rarely cited or applied in other situations.
It might be no bad thing if the Constitution’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws” was interpreted to outlaw the vagaries of voting, and not just Democratic victories. What we have learned, or been reminded, since 2000 is how inexact the art of vote counting is, and how far we are from what we presumed was the first axiom of democracy: majority rule.
For the record, I think the axiom is wrong. I expect that, just as liberals will decry activist judges, we will also pick up the cudgel of originalism. There we will find that the original intent was emphatically not majority rule, but rather a means to glean the wisdom of the crowd.
Recognizing that people are not ants, the founders put in place a brilliant and elaborate system of nondemocratic checks and balances to filter up the emergent intelligence of the nation. Our understanding of democracy as simple majority rule is a misunderstanding. And a mistake.
Kinsley’s essay discusses a passel of books out this fall, each raising different “alarms about the condition of American democracy.” I’m imagining that out of our discontent will come a quest to discover the next iteration of democracy, one that moves forward while also looking back to and honoring our founders’ brilliant intent.
The winning is only beginning
The NYTimes/CBS News poll was conducted Oct. 27 through Oct. 31.
Bush to the world: how to build a nuclear bomb
The Bush administration closed a government Web site set up to publicly display pre-war Iraqi documents on weapons of mass destruction after experts said its content included details for building a nuclear bomb, officials said on Friday.
The unclassified site was established by U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte in March under pressure from Republicans, who believed the captured documents would illustrate the dangers of Saddam Hussein during an election year marked by increasing voter disaffection over the Iraq war.
But Negroponte’s office shut down the site, known as the “Operation Iraqi Freedom Document Portal,” after the New York Times informed the Bush administration about expert concerns over posted accounts of Iraq’s nuclear research before the 1991 Gulf War.
The New York Times, which broke the story late on Thursday, reported that the site’s contents in recent weeks had begun to “constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.”
(Hardly) Remembering Kerry
Poor John Kerry. He botched his joke (If you don’t make an effort to be smart you get us stuck in Iraq; can anyone understand that?) and demonstrated (despite Heritage claims) Michael Kinsley’s old maxim that in Washington a gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth:
Lowered standards have hardly remained the property of privateers these days. As Brad Knickerbocker of the Christian Science Monitor noted, “The Army has had to recruit more soldiers from the Ã‚â€˜lowest acceptable’ category based on test scores, education levels, personal background, and other indicators of ability.” Even Undersecretary of Defense Chu admitted in July that almost 40% of all military recruits scored in the bottom half of the Armed Forces’ own aptitude test.
Other how-low-can-you-go indicators of the military’s desperation are now regularly surfacing in news reports. Here are two examples:
Last year, the New York Times reported that two Ohio recruiters were quick to sign up a recruit “fresh from a three-week commitment in a psychiatric wardÃ‚â€¦ even after the man’s parents told them he had bipolar disorder—a diagnosis that would disqualify him.” After senior officers found out, the mentally ill man’s enlistment was canceled, but in ”nterviews with more than two dozen recruiters in 10 states,” the Times heard others talk of “concealing mental-health histories and police records,” among other illicit practices.
In May of this year, the Oregonian reported that Army recruiters, using hard sell tactics and offering thousands of dollars in enlistment bonus money, signed up an autistic teenager “for the Army’s most dangerous job: cavalry scout.” The boy, who had been enrolled in “special education classes since preschool” and through “a special program for disabled workersÃ‚â€¦ha[d] a part-time job scrubbing toilets and dumping trash,” didn’t even know the U.S. was at war in Iraq until his parents explained it to him after he was first approached by a recruiter. Only following a flurry of negative publicity, did the Army announce that it would release the autistic teen from his enlistment obligation.
(That via Billmon, who calls Kerry “the new, even more punchable Al Gore doll.") But then Kerry got lucky. Not only did Ted Haggard blow him out of the news cycle ( couldn’t resist, though Wolcott persuades me it’s the other way around) Haggard actually did manage to tell one thing that rings true:
As you know, um, John Kerry said some things and we all know he didn’t mean what they’re saying he meant. I don’t think he thinks our service personnel are dumb.
And neither do I. But I do think that the Bush administration has dumbed down the media, dumbed down science and is dumbing down the military.
Friday, November 03, 2006
He advertised himself as an escort
Jones claimed that Haggard, 50, paid him to have sex nearly every month over three years. He said he advertised himself as an escort on the Internet and was contacted by a man who called himself Art, who snorted methamphetamine before their sexual encounters to heighten his experience.
Jones said he later saw the man on television identified as Haggard and that the two last had sex in August.
He said he has voice mail messages from Haggard, as well as an envelope he said Haggard used to mail him cash. He declined to make the voice mails available to the AP, but KUSA-TV reported what it said were excerpts late Thursday that referred to methamphetamine.
“Hi Mike, this is Art,” one call began, according to the station. “Hey, I was just calling to see if we could get any more. Either $100 or $200 supply.”
A second message, left a few hours later, began: “Hi Mike, this is Art, I am here in Denver and sorry that I missed you. But as I said, if you want to go ahead and get the stuff, then that would be great. And I’ll get it sometime next week or the week after or whenever.”
He was only on a couple of calls
Q This Reverend Haggard out in Colorado, is he someone who is close to the White House? There had been reports that he was on the weekly call with evangelicals. Is that true?
MR. FRATTO: I’m actually told that that’s not true, that he has—in terms of a weekly call that he has? He had been on a couple of calls, but was not a weekly participant in those calls. I believe he’s been to the White House one or two times. I don’t want to confine it to a specific number because it would take a while to figure out how many times. But there have been a lot of people who come to the White House, and --
Q—when was he at the White House?
MR. FRATTO: I couldn’t tell you specifically. I know that there was a picture of him with the President in one of the TV reports, so obviously he met with the President at some point in time.
Look, this is a personal issue for someone. It’s something that Reverend Haggard needs to deal with, with his family and his church. And I’m not sure that there’s any comment beyond that that’s necessary.
Via TPM, Reverend who?
LATER, The Carpetbagger Report:
Let's set the record straight here. Every Monday, Haggard has participated in a West Wing conference call with evangelical leaders. He's one of only a handful of religious leaders with immediate access to the Bush White House. Here's a nice pic of Haggard and his friend Bush in the Oval Office. Haggard has personally (and successfully) lobbied the White House on policy issues more than once.
He didn’t inhale
He said he met with Mr. Jones and bought the drug. “I was tempted, I bought it, but I did not use it,” he said today. The station posted the video interview on its Web site.
Automated driving (reprise)
My TimesSelect weekend preview tells me that the NYTimes will offer “a slightly unsettling look” at auto electronics technology now arriving in showrooms. I’ll link, and comment, when it’s open to all. In the meantime a reprise of a post from July 2005. Automated driving is closer than we think...
I expect automated driving within a decade.
We already have adaptive cruise control, GPS navigation systems, and computer assisted braking and steering. It doesn’t take a giant technological leap to turn today’s robo-cars into fully automated vehicles.
My guess is we’ll add computer chips to those helpful reflectors embedded in the highway lane lines. The chips can be dumb, like buoys at sea, transmitting speed and navigation settings. The computing power is in the vehicle. Braking and spacing will be handled by a future iteration of the adaptive cruise control.
Such an automated vehicle will be able to operate side by side with older non-automated vehicles. Or HOV style lanes that require automation might operate at higher speeds and capacities. Eventually, I expect all roads to be automated. Traffic lights, stop signs and curve ahead signs can all be translated into chips that pass information to the vehicle.
I am reminded of this because James Joyner points to a vehicle technology in the UK today, a spy device to cut drivers’ speed by satellite. He calls it “an incredible invasion of privacy” over something “they have no business controlling.” As if our profligate flouting of speed limit laws is some kind of inalienable right.
I would think the conservative position is to either eliminate or change these traffic laws, not that it’s an invasion of privacy to enforce them. And I’d prefer uniform enforcement over the present system of whoever, wrong place wrong time, happens to get caught.
James also doesn’t like that London drivers are subject to congestion pricing--a regulatory mechanism I generally favor and would like to see expanded--and says congestion is government’s fault. It’s “because the government can’t maintain an adequate infrastructure.”
I assume he’s aware that many traffic engineers believe that building more roads only attracts more cars. I’d wager a bet that another lane on the Beltway won’t reduce traffic. Have you been to L.A.? Long Island? Roads seem to me to fall prey to a kind of tragedy of the commons. If that’s true, more regulation is the best way to benefit all users.
RELATED: Here I push my prediction back to 20 years, because it turns out that congestion pays.
I listened to this podcast yesterday, before the Haggard story broke. It’s a nuanced and convincing assessment of evangelical disillusionment from Laurie Goodstein, national religion correspondent at the New York Times.
“We are seeing the start of disillusionment round three,” Goodstein said. “This is not just evangelicals disillusioned with the Republican Party, but evangelicals disillusioned with politics.”
Goodstein’s research has found that many Christians are hesitant to categorize themselves as evangelicals because of the denomination’s political implications.
According to a recent Baylor poll she quoted, while 33 percent of Christians polled named their house of worship as an evangelical church, only 15 percent categorized themselves as evangelical.
“Evangelicals are not giving up these concerns,” Goodstein said of their traditionally conservative positions on issues such as sexuality in mass culture, abortion, birth control and homosexuality. “The difference is in terms of how to make those changes.”
Here’s the Baylor study. While the political Religious Right reads the findings as a function of a bigoted bias against evangelicals, Goodstein sees it as evangelicals distancing themselves from the more extreme political rhetoric of religious conservative political leaders.
An argument I find compelling and convincing.
My state senator believes (I know because he told me) that if you’re married with kids it demonstrates to his satisfaction that you can’t be having sex with men.
Maybe this will convince even the people here that he’s wrong:
Facing shocking allegations that he paid a gay prostitute for sex, prominent Colorado Springs pastor Ted Haggard placed himself on administrative leave Thursday from his church position and resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, a platform that made him a rising star in conservative politics.
Haggard, 50, said in a statement released by his 14,000- member New Life Church that he could “not continue to minister under the cloud created by the accusations made on Denver talk radio this morning.”
In interviews over the past two days with KHOW talk radio, 9News and The Denver Post, Michael Forest Jones, 49, of Denver alleges he had sex on a monthly basis with Haggard over three years. Jones claimed Haggard used the name “Art,” admitted he was married and used meth before the two had sex.
In an interview Wednesday with 9News, Haggard denied he’d used drugs or had gay sex, saying he’s been faithful to his wife. Haggard, who has five children, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Unfortunately, my state senator likely won’t change his mind. He genuinely believes that my “lifestyle...preference” is an immoral choice that I was able to make because of our deteriorated culture.
But I’m thinking, one by one, my neighbors who know me will come to understand that he’s wrong. And next time around they might just vote my state senator out.
RELATED: World O’Crap quotes from this Harper’s piece, “Pastor Ted, who talks to President George W. Bush or his advisers every Monday, is a handsome forty-eight-year-old Indianan, most comfortable in denim.”
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Fox ratings tumble
Less comment on this in the blogosphere than I would have thought:
Fox News’s total audience fell 24 percent in the past year, to 1.3 million viewers from 1.7 million, and its key primetime audience, viewers ages 25-54, was down 7 percent in October on a year-to-year basis, to an average 363,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research data.
In third quarter, Fox News suffered a 38 percent decline in 25-54s, to 409,000. In second quarter, that audience was down 22 percent and in first quarter it slid 28 percent. It is still No. 1 by a long shot.
Judy Daubenmier of News Hounds, a web site often critical of Fox News, agrees.
“Fox News has tied itself so closely to George Bush that when his approval ratings go down people don’t want to hear about him, so they don’t want to watch Fox News,” she says.
Jill Olmsted, associate professor of journalism at American University in Washington D.C., thinks viewers have grown tired of Fox’s adamantly pro-Bush rhetoric.
“This could be a backlash,” she says. “We don’t know what’s going to happen on Election Day, but indications are that people are tired of the partisanship and went to get on a more neutral, let’s-get-along agenda.”
Dad gets 10 years in first female circumcision trial in U.S.
POSTED: 5:08 a.m. EST, November 2, 2006
An Ethiopian immigrant was convicted Wednesday of the genital mutilation of his 2-year-old daughter and was sentenced to 10 years in prison in what was believed to be the first such criminal case in the United States.
Khalid Adem, 30, was found guilty of aggravated battery and cruelty to children. Prosecutors said he used scissors to remove his daughter’s clitoris in his family’s Atlanta-area apartment in 2001. The child’s mother, Fortunate Adem, said she did not discover it until more than a year later. [...]
During her father’s trial, the girl, now 7, clutched a teddy bear as she testified on videotape that her father "cut me on my private part."
That father should pay. And The barbarity of the scissors is not the only price his daughter will pay:
According to UNICEF, at least 100 million women, largely in Africa, have been genitally disfigured. Two months ago, the World Health Organization reported that these women, compared to their uncut peers, were up to 69 percent more likely to hemorrhage after childbirth and up to 55 percent more likely to deliver a dead or dying baby. For every 100 deliveries, the WHO estimates that female genital mutilation kills one or two extra kids.
To those who try to equate the two, here’s one outcome for boys:
Four years ago, an analysis of 38 studies by the U.S. Agency for International Development, mostly in Africa, concluded that circumcised men were less than half as likely as uncircumcised men to get HIV, apparently because of the susceptibility of foreskin. Last fall, reporting on a randomized controlled trial in South Africa, scientists found that circumcision reduced female-to-male transmission by 60 percent. “Male circumcision provides a degree of protection against acquiring HIV infection, equivalent to what a vaccine of high efficacy would have achieved,” they wrote.
LOUISVILLE, Ky., Oct. 18 /PRNewswire/—Hollywood legends, American superheroes and Hall of Fame inductees grace U.S. postage stamps and now, Kentucky Fried Chicken has petitioned the United States Postal Service to add its legendary founder, Colonel Harland Sanders, to that elite group. To help make its case, KFC is asking for America’s stamp of approval.
Starting today, chicken lovers nationwide can visit http://www.KFC.com to sign an online petition asking the U.S.P.S. to honor Colonel Sanders, an American entrepreneurial icon, with his own stamp.
Chicken lovers? Here’s Michael Pollan on Free Range chickens:
I did go visit a large organic chicken producer here in California, and if you look at their label, there’s a farmstead with a little silo and a farm house and a farmyard and chickens running around, but if you go to the farm, the chickens are grown in these huge barracks as long as a football field. They’re indoors, there are 20,000 of them in a house, and running along this barrack is what looks like a little front lawn-mowed, maybe 15 or 20 feet deep.
There’s a little door at either side of the barrack where, theoretically, chickens could step outside and take the air. But they don’t. One reason is that the doors are closed until the chickens are about five weeks old.
The farmersÃ¢â‚¬"if you can use that word, the managers-are concerned that the chickens might catch their death of cold or pick up a germ, so they don’t open the doors until the chickens are five weeks old. They smother them at seven weeks; so it’s not exactly a lifestyle. It’s more like a two-week vacation option. And the chickens don’t avail themselves of this option because they’ve never been outside before. They’re terrified of going outside. First of all, it’s not big enough for the whole flock. Second of all, the food and water is inside; they’re not used to it; they weren’t brought up this way. They’re like the cat in the Manhattan apartment; when you open the door they just stand there in terror wondering about the other dimension of reality outside that door.
Free range is a conceit. It’s to make us feel better about these chickens. It’s not doing anything for the chickens, as far as I can tell.
But they’re the lucky ones. Colonel Sanders’ birds are likely far worse off. This marketing stunt deserves to fail. Urge the United States Postal Service not to endorse KFC’s cruelty!
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Crain on the sex-phobic network suits
The suspension has struck almost everyone as an overreaction. No gay voices, including the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), had spoken out against Kinchen, much less called for his removal. Some gay sports enthusiasts, including Cyd Zeigler over at Outsports, have nonetheless suggested that gay groups have contributed to a politically correct climate that pressured gay-friendly ESPN to act.
I, for one, think ESPN’s reaction isn’t an example of pro-gay "political correctness" as much as it is the dysfunctional way we treat sex and sport, where the action on the telly can bear no relation whatsoever to the typical reaction of those watching. Kinchen wasn’t suspended for being "anti-gay"; he was punished for making a sexual remark. He suggested it was "kinda gay" for a receiver to be "tender" with his hands and "caress" the ball.
His remarks aren’t like the anti-gay slurs uttered (usually with impunity) by pro athletes and coaches, but more along the lines of Janet Jackson’s "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super
Bowl halftime a few years back. Those of us watching in real-time noticed
something unusual happen, but it took a lot of prudish conservatives freeze-framing
their VCRs to see her naughty bits, and then came the predictably
ESPN’s response, like the FCC’s historic fine in response to Janet’s boob, wasn’t leftist politically correct. If anything, it was rightist politically correct, which demands censorship "in the name of the children" of any and all discussion of the human body that could be considered sexual. But as any episode of "The Simpsons" demonstrates, the subtlety is for adult consumption and goes right over their children’s heads.
My take here.
The Free Musketeers’ Bogus Broadband plan
The best thing I’ve seen lately on the astroturf groups, industry experts and bought academics is from Karl Bode in Broadband Reports on the bogus experts who have banded together to issue a free-marketeers a guide to a better broadband tomorrow and attack government oversight and municipal broadband
Their focus is not to increase broadband deployment. That would require offering broadband services to rural portions of America, where their employer’s ROI would be dubious and stock prices would suffer. Whether you can get DSL in the remotest regions of your Ohio suburb is the very last thing on the mind of individuals such as Joseph Bast and Sonia Arrison, or organizations such as the Heartland Institute.
The coalition’s suggestions for “maximizing deployment”, include the elimination of all “unnecessary regulations”, telecom taxes or fees (though as discussed many of these are phony and imposed by the providers themselves), as well as ensuring that municipalities are “prohibited from investing in, managing or operating broadband infrastructure and services.”
But wait: wouldn’t banning towns and cities from offering broadband be regulation? And wouldn’t it be “un-necessary regulation” considering companies like AT&T have discovered they can simply compete in the muni-wireless sector? Strange how such rabid fans of a free-market aren’t interested in allowing market darwinism to play out.
The reality is that these groups only oppose regulation when it runs contrary to the interests of their corporate financiers and their own portfolios. For the right price, these groups would find regulations preventing the dumping of toxic chemicals into river water equally “unnecessary”. They’d quickly offer expert analysis and statistics suggesting mutant frogs are a boon to the local ecosystem.
While there are certainly flaws with many municipal broadband models, these are decisions that should be made by the communities themselves, not subjective analysts on the payroll of major telecom providers. Fans of a free market should be eager to see the organic free-market at work. If these municipal broadband operations are such a flawed idea: let them fail.
While incumbent providers have every right to declare an area unprofitable, they should not have the right to then ban these communities from wiring themselves. These broadband black holes were created by the providers. They should either fill them or get out of the way, taking their cadre of subjective experts with them.
Via Slashdot. Thanks Joe!
Kerry botched a joke, they botched a war
So says James Carville, as quoted by The Caretbagger Report. I most particularly agree with Benen’s take on the media:
There’s no great mystery here. Kerry misspoke and said something he didn’t mean. But Republicans, desperate and without an agenda or vision for the future, have nothing else to say. The Bush gang, and their allies, literally want to create a massive political scandal out of a comment that didn’t make any sense, and which Kerry didn’t even mean to say.
Worse, the news networks treated this as if Kerry had shot a man. CNN and MSNBC devoted hours of coverage to a mistaken comment, apparently egged on by a White House which is so ashamed of its own record, it prefers to devote its energy to a verbal miscue of a man who isn’t even on the ballot this year. One gets the distinct impression that the media is overcompensating - after weeks of bad news (actual bad news) for the GOP, news outlets are treating the Kerry slip as a huge deal. All in the name of “balance.”
Emphasis mine. Has this story died yet?
LATER: Not yet, Samantha Bee on The Daily Show: “There you have it Jon, John Kerry losing an election he’s not even in.”
Kinda gay, but hey… that’s ok!
Former NFL receiver Brian Kinchen will not work as an ESPNU commentator this week because of a comment he made during last Saturday’s broadcast of the Northern Illinois-Iowa game.
Kinchen was explaining the need for receivers to make catches with their hands because they are “tender” and can “caress” the ball. He then paused and said, “that’s kind of gay, but hey ...”
“The comments were inappropriate, and we apologize for them,” said ESPN’s vice president of public relations Josh Krulewitz.
Kinchen’s future with ESPNU is under review, Krulewitz said.
What looks inappropriate (homophobic?) to me is the reaction! Who are they apologizing to? The macho sports fan that doesn’t want to acknowledge the existence of gay people?
Next we’ll hear Newt Gingrich argue that he’s been pulled off the air because they were afraid to offend gays. Popycock! (I bet you can’t say that on ESPN either.)
I’m hot. You’re hot. Let’s make out.
“Bully" stars 15-year-old Jimmy Hopkins, who must navigate cliques, fights and young love at his new boarding school, along the way winning brawls, completing missions and plying girls with candy and flowers in exchange for kisses.
But Jimmy can also use the same approach with boys. When Jimmy approaches a tall, blond boy with some flowers, the boy replies: “I’m hot. You’re hot. Let’s make out.”
Alexander Sliwinski at Joystiq has more:
Depending on where you live on the planet Earth, you’re sure to get various versions of spin on the story. So, it’s a good time to go over some developments, and clear up some issues, since our initial piece:
- Joystiq has been in contact with Eliot Mizrachi, spokesperson for the ESRB, and he reaffirms that they were aware of the kissing when they gave a “T” (Teen) rating to Bully. The rating description clearly states “sexual themes” on the box.
- Bully is not the first title to have playable same-sex interaction. The Sims, which also has a “T” rating stating “sexual themes” on the box, allows for a lot more than just kissing. There is even same-sex adoption.
- Brathwaite said to Reuters, “It’s symbolic that the diversity that’s appearing in broader media is making its way to games in a way that’s not insulting or necessarily sensationalistic.”
- Everyone’s favorite anti-games lawyer Jack Thompson, sent a letter to ESRB President, Patricia Vance, “We just found gay sexual content in Bully, as Jimmy Hopkins makes out with another male student. Good luck with your ‘Teen’ rating now, Patty.” Let’s get something straight right off the bat—Thompson found nothing. His letter wasn’t sent until after Joystiq wrote about GayGamer’s video, and we know Thompson reads this site. Thompson was already in possession of Bully, which he requested as part of his political Miami lawsuit to block Bully. Thompson had his chance to make the kissing part of his lawsuit.
- The blond student consistently showed is not the only boy Jimmy Hopkins can kiss. Apparently one boy from each clique is kissable. There is an African-American geek who can be kissed. So, not only is there gay kissing, but interracial gay kissing as well. (Please sense the sarcasm in that bullet point)