aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, December 31, 2006
Stick that magnetic ribbon on your SUV!
This comes from a band out of Austin, the Asylum Street Spankers, and is just a bit more bawdacious than usual for here. It’s all in good New Years Eve fun…
The skinny from Wales on Wikia
Q. Why do this at all? What do you see wrong with search?
For certain types of searches, search engines are very good. But I still see major failures, where they aren’t delivering useful results. I think at a deeper almost political level, I think it’s important that we as a global society have some transparency in search. What are the algorithms involved? What are the reasons why one site comes up over another one. [Wales also raised the issue of how ads might influence regular listings, perhaps search engines trying to keep commercial sites out of the free listings to make money. From there, he went on....] Those types of incentives are problematic in search. The only solution I know to that is to be transparent.
Danny’s conclusion is skeptical. Still:
I find myself oddly hopeful. I don’t think a Google killer will emerge, but perhaps some new ways of a community to be involved with search will come out of it. I wouldn’t have thought Wikipedia would work. Certainly it’s flawed, but it’s also an incredible resource. Maybe something useful will come from the Search Wikia project.
LATER: The NYTimes has a story on the Wikia search project today.
Al-Qaeda strong as ever
Every dismissive assumption made about al-Qaeda before September 11 was wrong. So is the assumption that it is in any way receding today: it is still the most dangerous international security threat to both the Western and Islamic worlds.
Osama bin Laden has not been driven underground or lost touch with his followers. Al-Qaeda is using the internet extensively to communicate with its supporters and to further its aim of creating new bases from which to organise terrorist attacks.
Suggestions that it may have morphed into some kind of “ideological” or “inspirational” organisation that merely encourages copycat groups of young Muslims to emulate its greatest “achievements”, are contradicted by its leadership’s steady stream of instructions to followers. [...]
If any single individual is responsible for the continuing expansion of al-Qaeda, it is President Bush. America’s failed policies in the Middle East and Afghanistan, its failure to rebuild either Iraq or Afghanistan after invading them, and its support for Israel’s roles in Lebanon and in the Palestinian territories, have created unprecedented anger in the Muslim world.
In Somalia America is compounding its disastrous support for the warlords by backing Ethiopia in driving out of Mogadishu the Islamists who took over.
Today, the danger of a civilisational war - between Shia and Sunni within the Islamic world, and between the West and the Islamic world - grows ever closer.
Most blog traffic is trash… Everyone knows it. If you look at your stats, you’ll learn that half of your traffic--or a lot more than half--comes from search engines. People type in things like “nipple schoolgirl goat priest molasses,” and they end up at your site for ten seconds, and they leave, hopefully disappointed. Those people aren’t “visitors,” no matter how much you like to think they are. They’re just lost.
I mention it because I’m in the midst of another traffic burst; thanks to another… [drum roll please] ... TYPO! I spelled Saddam’s name wrong - S * A * D * A * M - I corrected it right away, but it’s in the url and evidently that counts for search engines.
So lots of lost souls from around the world who can’t spell and are searching for video of Saddam’s execution are finding their way, briefly, to my little blog. Lucky me. Here’s more of what I wrote last time a typo got me a thousand visitors:
Internet fame is overrated anyway. Remember Gary Numa Numa Brolsma? His Internet fame began in his Jersey bedroom with a webcam in the fall of 2004. He had no idea what was in store for him. 13,367,200 views.
By Spring of 2005 he had been on Good Morning America and turned down an interview request by the NYTimes. It found his performance “earnest but painful” and called his posting it on the Internet a “grave mistake.” The paper of record also reported that “according to his relatives, he mopes around the house.”
This week Rocketboom checked in with Gary. He’s making a new version of the video - “not the same but similar to the original” - and says YouTube is planning a contest. I’ll post about it on my blog.
Maybe if there’s a typo I’ll top a thousand visitors. That’s all the fame I need.
Uh, I think I’ll sit content with the cozy few legitimate readers I get every day. And laugh off the occasional typo-inspired traffic burst.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Corteo in Atlantic Station
Originally uploaded by spooks and ghoulies.
We’re headed out to Costco, Ikea, Corteo and Mitra. Should be fun, Fun, FUN!
No Geographic Cure
In the AA Glossary, a “Geographic” is when an alcoholic tries to find a cure through a “fresh start” in a new location.
It don’t work!
But lawmakers nationwide seem to think a solution to the sex-offender problem is a kind of inverted Geographic; ban sex offenders from living near schools, day care centers and other places that children gather. The NYTimes editorializes today:
Of all the places that sexual predators could end up after prison, the worst is out of sight, away from the scrutiny and treatment that could prevent them from committing new crimes. But communities around the country are taking that risk, with zoning laws that banish pedophiles to the literal edges of society. [...]
Just as it would feel foolish to forbid muggers to live near A.T.M.’s, it is hard to imagine how a 1,000-foot buffer zone around a bus stop, say, would keep a determined pedophile at bay. If children feel secure enough to drop their wariness of strangers, that would be a dangerous outcome. And of course, no buffer against a faceless predator will be any help to the overwhelming majority of child victims - those secretly abused by stepfathers, uncles and other people they know.
The problem with residency restrictions is that they fulfill an emotional need but not a rational one. It’s in everyone’s interest for registered sex offenders to lead stable lives, near the watchful eyes of family and law enforcement and regular psychiatric treatment. Exile by zoning threatens to create just the opposite phenomenon - a subpopulation of unhinged nomads off their meds with no fixed address and no one keeping tabs on them. This may satisfy many a town’s thirst for retributive justice, but as a sensible law enforcement policy designed to make children safer, it smacks of thoughtlessness and failure.
The Closet in decline
SoVo’s Year in Review story of the year, Swan Song for the Closet:
Having confined and defined much, if not most, of modern gay existence, “the closetÃ¢â‚¬Â� showed once again in 2006 that it is still a mighty force, albeit a shadow of its once powerful self.
In fact, some believe the closet is steadily inching toward irrelevance, as successive generations of gay and lesbian youth settle into their sexual orientation without first surrounding it with four walls of angst, denial, duplicity and shame.
We can only hope.
2007 Prediction: User Generated Devices
Fred Wilson has my favorite 2007 prediction:
Yes, the web has brought this power of the user to the forefront of our society, enough to make us the person of the year. That’s cool.
But what is cooler is that this is part of a larger revolution in information technology that started back in the early 90s with Linux. It’s the open source movement and it’s about opening up technology so that anyone and everyone can contribute to the collective good.
And I believe its time for this revolution in information technology to move into the hardware space. It’s time for user generated devices. [...]
[T]he existing consumer electronics manufacturers aren’t interested in modularity and giving the user more control over their devices. Their desire to tightly control the user experience will lead to a movement much like what has happened on the web.
Users are going to take control of their devices and I think 2007 is the year we will start to see it happen.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Download your GMail via POP3
Om Malik yesterday:
An increasing number of GMail subscribers are complaining that their emails, accounts and archives are simply vanishing.
For nearly 10 days, a strange sort of bug is simply cleaning out the GMail inboxes. An afflicted soul wrote to us this morning, warning about this bug. Just when we were saying GMail is getting better and better.
Here’s Google’s explanation:
Regretfully, a small number of our users - around 60 - lost some or all of their email received prior to December 18th. Once we found out about this issue, we worked day and night to confirm that only a few accounts were affected and to do whatever we could to restore as much of the users’ accounts as we could. We’ve also reached out to the people who were affected to apologize and to work with them to restore the email from any personal backup they might have. We know how important Gmail is to our users - we use it ourselves for our corporate email. We have extensive safeguards in place to protect email stored with Gmail and we are confident that this is a small and isolated incident.
I’ll be downloading mine.
LATER: And now your GMail contact list is vulnerable to hijacking.
I’m not going to lose any sleep over Saddam Hussein’s death but I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the US had behaved like a world leader and sent him to be tried in the International Criminal Court instead of having the “Iraqi government” (which clearly has no real legal system) stage a show trial and now execute him in the middle of a civil war.
Call me crazy but it just seems to me that would have shown that we care about the rule of law and removed the festering wound of Saddam from the workings of the current government which was bound to exacerbate the sectarian hatreds.
LATER: The Nation’s John Nichols looks at Human Rights Watch finding Saddam’s “a deeply flawed trial” that “marks a significant step away from respect for human rights and the rule of law in Iraq.”
Wired 2007 predictions
My pics from their predictions:
Internet Traffic Doubles ...
to 5,000 petabits per day by the end of 2007. And 80 percent of it is peer-to-peer file sharing, mostly Skype video and BitTorrent.
BitTorrent on TiVo
Speaking of, digital video recorders get BitTorrent baked in, bringing internet video to the living room.
No-brainer—but no one cares because we’re all using IM, especially at work.
Second Life Ends a Life
Skullduggery in Second Life—probably digital adultery—ends in a real-life murder.
Year o’ the Laptop
Half of all new computers sold in 2007 will be laptops and 20 percent of those will be Apple’s MacBooks.
Print to Web
A major newspaper gives up printing on paper to publish exclusively online. [...]
Apple Goes Apple
The entire Beatles catalog is licensed exclusively to iTunes for a year. [...]
Digg Becomes the New Friendster
Digg holds out for a big payday but ends up like Friendster (i.e., no friends). [...]
First AT&T, Then Google
A whistle-blower reveals that the National Security Agency has been wiretapping Google for some time.
Google Goes G-Man
Google gives up search queries to the feds. Likely scenario: The FBI asks who’s been searching for terms like “dirty bomb” and Google hands over all the IP addresses.
Don’t Don’t Be Evil
Google drops “Don’t be evil” as its corporate mantra. Evil has its justifications, but no one likes a hypocrite. [...]
They’re Watching You
Congress passes a law requiring internet service providers to keep logs of all web traffic and e-mail for three years.
NYT Goes Free
The New York Times opens its archives from behind the paid firewall, realizing it’s more lucrative to be the internet’s paper of record than charging readers for individual stories. Thankfully, Thomas Friedman’s clichés and mixed metaphors remain behind the pay firewall for at least two weeks.
MySpace Spaces Out
MySpace splinters as teens head for niche sites. New services that control profiles across multiple social networking sites begin to take off.
Sipple had served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, where was wounded twice. Following his discharge in 1970 he moved to San Francisco, living on a veteran’s disability pension.
With the media clamoring for information on the man who saved the presidents life openly gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk told a reporter that Sipple was gay and had worked on the campaign that made Milk the first gay local politician in the US.
But while Milk and Sipple’s friends in San Francisco knew he was gay his family did not. Following the press report his mother disowned him.
Sipple, shocked by the outing issued a statement: “My sexual orientation has nothing at all to do with saving the President’s life, just as the color of my eyes or my race has nothing to do with what happened in front of the St. Francis Hotel.”
He then sued the San Francisco Chronicle and six other papers for damages, and the mental stress he suffered as a result of his mother’s action. The lawsuit dragged on until it finally was dismissed in court five years later.
The distress that Sipple was going through led him to drink. He was found dead on February 2, 1989 in his apartment. Police at the time said they believed he had been dead for two weeks. [...]
Only 30 people attended Sipple’s funeral.
Savion’s Happy Feet
In New York I passed on the opportunity to see Happy Feet. I wasn’t the least bit interested in seeing March of the Penguins, why would I want to see a rip-off? Turns out, the Happy Feet idea was hatched first. But the real reason…
I went to imdb.com, the Web site for all things cinematic, and printed out the film’s complete cast and crew. There, on Page 13 of 14, between the listing for Lucinda Glenn as production coordinator: animation, and Alexandra Gunter as additional production coordinator, is Savion Glover, motion capture dancer. This is giving tap new recognition? [...]
Mr. Glover himself professes total satisfaction with his credit. “My job was to be a stunt man,” he said yesterday through a spokesman in his office. “I love George Miller, and was happy to be a part of the film. I have no problem at all.”
Maybe a proper credit for Mr. Glover just slipped everybody’s minds, including Mr. Glover’s. Maybe dance, even in a film whose entire plot hinges on dance, is so far from the concerns of most people that Mr. Glover’s credit escaped everyone’s attention. But that omission seems especially worrisome when the dance being slighted is deeply rooted in the black American tradition.
“I was just so excited that someone was putting dance in the movie,” Mr. Glover told Ms. Kaufman. “I didn’t ask any questions. I was just going on the strength of tap-dancing - someone wants tap-dancing.”
Well, someone did, and maybe Mr. Glover is as happy as he says he is with his, and tap’s, new prominence. But if tap is to be respected, its greatest living exponent must be respected too. To win respect, you have to do more than be the best there is. You have to fight, meaning negotiate, for the recognition you deserve.
Maybe Savion’s mellowed; I always thought him to be a fighter. Here a promo for Happy Feet featuring Savion on how the dance sequences were put together:
Ford’s pro-gay post presidency remembered
Condemn me if you will but I supported the pardon of Richard Nixon and voted for Gerald Ford for president. I was young and dumb; always a registered Democrat, that was the last time I voted Republican.
Interesting to remember that Ford would become the first past or current president to join a gay advocacy group:
In a widely read interview in October 2001 with lesbian columnist Deb Price of the Detroit News, Ford called on his fellow Republicans to join him in supporting equal treatment for gay people.
“I have always believed in an inclusive policy, in welcoming gays and others into the party,” Ford said. “I think the party has to have an umbrella philosophy if it expects to win elections.”
When asked by Price if gay couples should receive the same economic benefits as married couples, such as Social Security and tax deductions, Ford said, “I don’t see why they shouldn’t. I think that’s a proper goalÃ¢â‚¬Â¦I think they ought to be treated equally. Period.”
Ford’s gay-supportive comments in the Price interview prompted the Republican Unity Coalition, a gay-straight alliance that advocated support for gay issues within the Republican Party, to invite Ford to join its advisory board.
To the amazement and delight of the group’s executive director, Charles Francis, Ford accepted the invitation…
LATER: The original October 21, 2001 Deb Price Detroit News column.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Video ads that work in a YouTube world?
Earlier I read this Chris Anderson 2007 prediction in the LATimes:
I’M WILLING TO bet that 2007 is the year that somebody figures out how to make video advertising work in a YouTube world. And if I’m right, the TV industry is going to get very rocky, very fast.
Later I came across this from Cory Bergman at Lost Remote:
Earlier this year, Google rolled out click-to-play video ad units as part of its AdWords network (demo here). Now Google is testing in-stream video ads, a sort of video AdSense for content publishers. Here’s how it would work: Publishers upload video to Google Video, embed the players on their own sites and the Google-powered ads are embedded in the streams (currently as post-rolls). The revenue is then split. Google has been testing the in-stream ads on Beet.TV (although I didn’t see them when I checked today) and also working with MTV. Add YouTube to this equation and you have a massive network of video blogs that are shooting, posting and embedding video content, a market ripe for video advertising.
The iPod vending machine
The top treat in the sleek, high-tech machines operated by her company and ZoomSystems at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is a top-of-the-line Apple iPod that fetches $349 before tax. It comes with a money-back guarantee, and it doesn’t drop from anywhere.
A sophisticated robotic arm gently guides the mini-music machine to the buyer’s hands.
Not only did various versions of Apple’s iPod comprise the hottest-selling consumer electronics item on Amazon, but the fifth-generation 30-gigabyte model with video playback topped Amazon’s list as the most wished-for product and the most popular gift item in the consumer electronics category for the year. [...]
Hitwise reported that Apple’s iTunes Store saw a 413 percent increase in traffic between December 24 (Christmas Eve) and December 25 (Christmas Day). And the company saw a 110 percent increase when comparing Christmas Day 2005 with Christmas Day 2006.
As goes Kansas, so goes Red America
[A] dramatic shift...has taken hold lately among gay and bisexual Kansans, many of them well into midlife and ensconced in long-term relationships. An energized culture of coming out has emerged, apparently in reaction to what many see as the anti-gay climate that led to the marriage ban.
Nowhere is this change more obvious than in a new analysis of census data by Gary J. Gates, a demographer at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, a think tank at the University of California, Los Angeles. He found a 68 percent jump in Kansas households headed by same-sex partners between 2000 and 2005. In 2005, 11 out of every 1,000 couples living together in Kansas reported themselves as same-sex, according to Mr. Gates’s review of the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey data, a figure closer than one might expect to those recorded in New Jersey and New York, where 12 and 14 out of every 1,000 couples, respectively, are same-sex.
What the increase suggests, Mr. Gates said, is not so much that gay Americans are flocking to the state, but that the ones who live there have been galvanized to declare themselves to their neighbors and communities.
Here‘s the Gates’ study. Kansas wasn’t the only state to see a dramatic jump in households self-identified as headed by same-sex partners (see p.12); Colorado is up 58%, Indiana increased 54%, Iowa 58%, Missouri 56%, Nebraska 71%, Ohio 62%, Oklahoma 42%.
Overall same-sex couples in the U.S. grew by more than 30 percent, an increase five times the six percent rate of growth in the U.S. population. We in Georgia are up 27%, but then we already had the 8th largest gay population in the country.
I’m betting stories like this are going to be told more and more:
Ms. Slayton found that the more she opened herself up, the more she found solace. The day after the marriage amendment passed, her handyman, a Rush Limbaugh fan who came to install her air conditioner, expressed his sympathies. “He came upstairs and said ‘I’m just so sorry, Cyd, I know how hard you worked on this,’ “ she said. “He put his arm around me and it was just about as touching a thing that happened around this whole issue.”
MORE FROM KANSAS: Kansas Sen. (& Pres hopeful) Sam Brownback wants a Senate panel to question a judicial nominee who has already been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee about attending a lesbian commitment ceremony; said the Times, “Whether someone has attended a same-sex commitment ceremony is not a worthy litmus test to impose on someone seeking an important office. Whether someone holds hateful views toward gay people certainly is.”
Lawrence, KS is considering a domestic partnership registry that would be run by the city. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius will be chair of the Democratic Governors Association. Check out the LeftyBlogs Kansas feed. And in case you missed it, The Onion’s Kansas bans evolution is a hoot.
Not you, “us”
The important movement online is not about “you.” It’s about “us.” It’s about our profound need to connect and share. It’s about our remarkable ability to create among circles - each person contributing a little bit to a poem, a song, a quilt, or a conversation.
So it’s not about your reviews on Amazon. It’s about how we as a community of Web users choose to exercise our collective wills and forge collective consciousnesses. So far, we have declined to do so. We have not harnessed this communicative power to force the rich and powerful to stop polluting our air and water or to stop the spread of AIDS or malaria. We have not brought down any tyrants. We have simply let a handful of new corporations aggregate and exercise their own will on us. And we have perfected online dating.
But there are signs of real profound triumphs of “We.” Wikipedia is the best example. Blogs are another. Communities - both local and global - have generated amazing collections of content and communication in recent years. They have truly challenged the status-quo in ways that Time hypes so well.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Georgia’s New Years Eve Blues
ATLANTA - The Halo lounge is a vision of Space Age chic, with midcentury-modern lounge chairs, a 40-foot bar made of white onyx, and a custom sound system thumping sinuous dance music.
It’s the kind of “stimulating” nightspot city officials describe in Atlanta’s latest marketing campaign, the one with the slogan “Every day is an opening day.”
But this New Year’s Eve, the Halo will be closed for business - because New Year’s Eve falls on a Sunday, and Georgia law dictates that bars cannot serve alcohol on Sundays.
Space Age, meet Bible Belt.
It’s not so bad as it sounds. In Atlanta - and my town - restaurants, hotels and bars with special permits can serve alcohol. The laws are an anachronism; even here.
I’ll be back
Regular readers will have noticed the dearth of holiday posts.
I had a terrific holiday vacation in the north, but on my way home Sunday I was felled by a bout of food poisoning. I’ve been down and out since.
I can only say I’m glad that it was not worse and I hope to be back posting soon.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
The way we were
LATER: A friend of Sam’s says, “I know those old photographs and they are adorable even though the men were not gay but very unselfconsciously embracing, something bred out of them now.”
My work decades ago on the film Before Stonewall tells me it’s not so clear; the photo essay - and its sentiment - are legitimate either way.
The perfect gift
Politically active family from Portsmouth, NH gave me Barack Obama’s Audacity of Hope last night. They got it at his book signing there, and were among those impressed by his charismatic speaking style:
PORTSMOUTH, N.H.-Brenda Bladen was trying to explain why she liked Barack Obama so much-he was authentic, selfless, and inspirational. He was restoring her faith in politics. “I’m not comparing him to Jesus Christ but Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ “ she said, before talking about the senator’s humble beginnings.
No description or venue seemed big enough to accommodate Barack Obama’s first visit to New Hampshire. In Portsmouth, it was standing room only as he signed his book The Audacity of Hope in a community ballroom normally used for wedding receptions. The 750 tickets for the event sold out in 24 hours. (One thousand people showed up.) [...]
It’s easy to see why New Hampshire Democrats were in a frenzy over Obama. He is a winning presence in a room. He is stylish in his uniform of white shirt, no tie, and dark blazer. He carries himself with the weightless self-possession men’s magazines achieve only by employing a team of stylists and wardrobe artists. Even his left-handed signature is elegant-a B and an O connected by confident slashes. If he really were a rock star, he’d have it etched into the side of his private plane. “I didn’t know about the charisma factor,” said Jessica Hayes leaving Portsmouth. “Now I know. I’m in love.” (In Portsmouth, people waited in line for over an hour to have him sign a copy of his latest book.)
Mine is not an autographed copy.
Friday, December 22, 2006
If i were to live in, say, Minneapolis, MN rather than somewhere near Macon, GA, I’d need to keep this in mind:
ADVANCES like electronic traction control and all-wheel drive make it possible for many cars to get through winter on all-season tires, which provide good grip in a wide range of conditions. But in regions with heavy snowfall and prolonged low temperatures, a set of specialized winter tires may be the difference between getting to your destination or spinning off a slick road.
About 20 years ago, winter tires were much the same as summer tires except for a tread pattern that was deep and blocky - a design intended to help the car claw its way through snow. But winter tires have improved a lot in the last decade or so.
The sex-offender panic is evidently a global phenomenon:
In a development that would make the Grinch smile, Santa Claus is said to be in danger of disappearing from British homes, stores and streets—a victim of the fear surrounding child sex abuse.
According to the Manifesto Club, a free-speech group, stringent British child protection laws are threatening to ruin the traditional Christmas custom.
In recent years, the British press has focused increasing attention on the threat sex offenders pose to young children. Because of pedophile scandals, the group said in a new report, most adults playing at Santa in schools, churches and stores are now required to undergo costly criminal background checks before donning the red suit.
Concern about lawsuits has prompted many department stores to ban children from sitting on Santa’s knee, touching him or visiting him in the traditional grotto (Santa’s workshop).
Via Joe Gandelman.