aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Whistling Past the Graveyard
Emory University Political Science Professor Alan Abramowitz says that For Democrats, Whistling Past Dixie May Be Whistling Past the Graveyard:
Tom Schaller argues in Whistling Past Dixie that not only should Democratic presidential candidates write off the South, they should actively campaign against southern values in order to maximize their electoral prospects in the rest of the country. What Schaller is advocating is not just a non-southern strategy for Democrats, but an anti-southern strategy.
The assumption underlying Schaller’s argument is that not only is the South more conservative than the rest of the nation, but that southern values are now so antithetical to those of voters outside of the region that trying to appeal to southerners will only reduce a candidate’s appeal outside of the region.
But is it true that a candidate who appeals to voters in the South will reduce his appeal in the rest of the country? Based on an examination of the evidence from the past six presidential elections, the answer to this question is a loud and clear no. In fact, the evidence supports the opposite conclusion: the better a presidential candidate does in the South, the better that candidate will do in the rest of the country and, especially, in the key battleground states that determine the outcomes of presidential elections.
In order to test the viability of Schaller’s anti-southern strategy, I examined the correlations among Democratic presidential candidates’ vote margins (Democratic percentage minus Republican percentage) in five states across the last six presidential elections. The five states that I chose included two southern states, Georgia from the Deep South, and North Carolina from the Rim South, and three battleground states, Pennsylvania from the Northeast, Ohio from the Midwest, and Colorado from the Mountain West. ... Not only are all of the correlations positive, all of them are very strongly positive. READ ON
YouTube lowers the censorship bar
So says Nick Gisburne. His account was pulled by YouTube, triggering Xooglers - “a gathering spot for ex-Googlers to reminisce and comment on the latest developments in search” - to post a plug for free speech Friday:
(Since Google acquired YouTube I figure that makes this fair game for Xooglers.)
...His account was deleted for posting another video that was nothing but a slide show of quotations from the Quran. (That video has since been reposted by at least a dozen other people so it’s easy to find.)
This really bothers me for four reasons. First, to deem quotations from a holy text to be “inappropriate content” is outrageous on its face. Second, Gisburne was given no warning. Third, YouTube didn’t just delete the video in question, they deleted Gisburne’s entire account. And fourth, this makes a mockery of Google’s “don’t be evil” slogan. There can be no possible reason for this action other than caving to intimidation, and sanctimonious cowardice in the face of oppression is a particularly pernicious breed of evil.
Via John Battelle, “This is a bad precedent.”
DOPA Jr. has arrived
While i was off getting my eyes zapped, Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) introduced a new bill into the Senate called “Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act” (S49). It has all of DOPA in it and then some. This time, it’s squashed between some small changes to child porn legislation (upping the fines namely) and restrictions on the sale of children’s personal information for marketing purposes. It’s just as infuriating and i can’t stomach the idea of going through these discussions again.
Largest Ship in the World
More photos @ Damn Cool Pics, “The Knock Nevis is a Norwegian owned supertanker, formerly known as Seawise Giant, Happy Giant, and Jahre Viking. She is 458 metres (1504 feet) in length and 69 m (226 ft) in width, making her the largest ship in the world. She was built between 1979 and 1981, damaged during the Iran-Iraq War, and refloated in 1991.”
More on gay & the NBA
The San Francisco Chronicle today asks is the NBA really ready for gay players:
One of the more fascinating comments that followed former NBA player John Amaechi’s coming out this past week came from Cleveland’s LeBron James, one of the few stars candid enough to suggest that having a gay teammate could raise serious issues.
“We spend so much time together, we’re like family,” James told the Akron Beacon Journal. “You take showers together, you’re on the bus, you talk about things. With teammates, you have to be trustworthy. If you’re gay and you’re not admitting that you are, you’re not trustworthy. It’s the locker-room code. It’s a trust factor.” [...]
And consider these comments to reporters from the Sixers’ locker room alone.
From Shavlik Randolph: “As long as you don’t bring your gayness on me, I’m fine.”
From Steven Hunter: “Nowadays it’s proven that people can live double lives. I watch a lot of TV, so I see a lot of sick perverted stuff about married men running around with gay guys and all types of foolishness.”
Cheating on wives and girlfriends? That apparently doesn’t fall into the “foolishness” or “sick and perverted” category.
“The majority of people in pro sports—I mean, in the world—don’t feel comfortable with that type of person around,” Wolves guard Troy Hudson said to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “Especially in a masculine sport where you’re always touching each other, you have to take showers together.”
But the aspirations are good. That’s progress:
“We’re a diverse society and we preach acceptance,” Knicks general manager/coach Isiah Thomas, who waived Amaechi in 2004, told reporters. “We’re proud of diversity and no matter what your sexual preference may be, there is an acceptance and a tolerance level that should be accepted everywhere. No one should be excluded.”
Raptors coach Sam Mitchell took it one step further.
“It shouldn’t be about tolerance, it should be about respect. Treating people as human beings,” he told the Toronto Sun. “Are you supposed to tolerate me because I’m black or are they supposed to treat me with respect because I’m a human being?”
Top 5 hosted blogging platforms
I owe Basil a post on my experience with Movable Type. Meanwhile, after switching to Expression Engine, I have to wonder whether I should have switched to a hosted platform. Cnet points to PCWorld’s editor picks:
Not too surprisingly, the list was topped with a Blogger, WordPress and TypePad trifecta. Lesser-known Tripod and Squarespace rounded out the list.
All five of the hosted platforms are either free or cost less than $10 per month, and each has its own set of pros and cons. Each of those feature sets can make a platform sing for one user while making it too pedestrian for another (formatting features can be a godsend for people who don’t have strong HTML skills, for example).
One can only hope that the Times report today on just how awful The University of Phoenix actually is might save some from throwing away their good money:
The university says that its graduation rate, using the federal standard, is 16 percent, which is among the nation’s lowest, according to Department of Education data. But the university has dozens of campuses, and at many, the rate is even lower. [...]
[M]any students say they have had infuriating experiences at the university before dropping out, contributing to the poor graduation rate. In recent interviews, current and former students in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington who studied at University of Phoenix campuses in those states or online complained of instructional shortcuts, unqualified professors and recruiting abuses. Many of their comments echoed experiences reported by thousands of other students on consumer Web sites.
The complaints have built through months of turmoil. The president resigned, as did the chief executive and other top officers at the Apollo Group, the university’s parent corporation. A federal court reinstated a lawsuit accusing the university of fraudulently obtaining hundreds of millions of dollars in financial aid. The university denies wrongdoing. Apollo stock fell so far that in November, CNBC featured it on a “Biggest Losers” segment. The stock has since gained back some ground. In November, the Intel Corporation excluded the university from its tuition reimbursement program, saying it lacked top-notch accreditation.
It adds up to a damaging turnaround for an institution that rocketed from makeshift origins here in 1976 to become the nation’s largest private university, with 300,000 students on campuses in 39 states and online. Its fortunes are closely watched because it is the giant of for-profit postsecondary education; it received $1.8 billion in federal student aid in 2004-5.
Today’s story details the poor quality - faculty is 95% part-time and spends half the time with students as at a traditional university, cookie-cutter courses cram a semester into five or six four-hour sessions and are crafted at headquarters, student complaints that they’re learning too little and paying too much - and emphasizes profit pressure as the culprit. Me, I look back to a Times story from last March:
It took just a few paragraphs in a budget bill for Congress to open a new frontier in education: Colleges will no longer be required to deliver at least half their courses on a campus instead of online to qualify for federal student aid.
That change is expected to be of enormous value to the commercial education industry. [...]
The provision is just one sign of how an industry that once had a dubious reputation has gained new influence, with well-connected friends in the government and many Congressional Republicans sympathetic to their entrepreneurial ethic.
The Times opens today’s story saying, “The University of Phoenix became the nation’s largest private university by delivering...a solid, albeit low-overhead, education to midcareer workers seeking college degrees.”
It looks more like the rise had little to do with education but was instead aided and abetted by politics from the start. Again, from last March:
Sally L. Stroup, the assistant secretary of education who is the top regulator overseeing higher education, is a former lobbyist for the University of Phoenix, the nation’s largest for-profit college, with some 300,000 students.
Two of the industry’s closest allies in Congress are Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, who just became House majority leader, and Representative Howard P. McKeon, Republican of California, who is replacing Mr. Boehner as chairman of the House education committee.
And the industry has hired well-connected lobbyists like A. Bradford Card, the brother of the White House chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr.
Both Republican allies are still there. Boehner now serves as House Minority Leader; McKeon as Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education and Labor. And Sally Stroup‘s still at education; Bradford Card‘s still lobbying. While I don’t spot Apollo among his latest registrations, education remains in his portfolio and there’s little doubt he’ll be hired in as needed.