aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Blogging: self-exposure or self-expression?
‘Blogging’ is the ability to self-publish. As such it’s a technical term not an editorial one. What I mean by that is that it’s about how not what. Lumping all blogging together isn’t helpful. One blogger may be a diarist, another a commentator, another a journalist. Hence why a code for all bloggers is misguided. Hence why saying things like ‘Very few of them [bloggers] bother with such niceties as fact-checking’ - as it does in the introduction to tonight’s debate - is misleading.
Via Martin Stabe.
My friend Johns calls him a dreadful unscrupulous person but still, “I hope he wins his lawsuit against cbs. I said at the time he was only doing what he was hired to do and what the network, the sponsors and his public want him to do. They are all to blame. He’s only the messenger.”
Yes, yes, yes. He’s a function of our market-driven media. But the market is shifting and we can be glad for that.
Imus has hired one of the nation’s premiere First Amendment attorneys, and the two sides are gearing up for a legal showdown that could turn on how language in his contract that encouraged the radio host to be irreverent and engage in character attacks is interpreted, according to one person who has read the contract.
The language, according to this source, was part of a five-year contract that went into effect in 2006 and that paid Imus close to $10 million a year. It stipulates that Imus be given a warning before being fired for doing what he made a career out of - making off-color jokes. The source described it as a “dog has one- bite clause.” A lawsuit could be filed within a month, this person predicted.
I don’t hope he wins. My guess is it never goes to court but Imus gets the money and the settlement is undisclosed. I sure would like to see the text of the contract.
Via Overlawyered, “it won’t be the first Imus-related suit filed since his firing; that honor goes to CBS itself, which sued a Southern California radio station for copyright infringement for rebroadcasting Imus shows after it was pulled from the air. The case settled a week later, with the station agreeing to stop and CBS agreeing not to seek damages.”
Apple polisher at PC World?
Colleagues at my former outlet, PC World magazine, have told me that Editor-in-Chief Harry McCracken quit abruptly today because the company’s new CEO, Colin Crawford, tried to kill a story about Apple and Steve Jobs.
The piece, a whimsical article titled "Ten Things We Hate About Apple," was still in draft form when Crawford killed it. McCracken said no way and walked after Crawford refused to compromise. Apparently Crawford also told editors that product reviews in the magazine were too critical of vendors, especially ones who advertise in the magazine, and that they had to start being nicer to advertisers.
Crawford was former CEO of MacWorld and only started at PC World about a month ago. According to the PC World source, when Crawford was working for the Mac magazine, Steve Jobs would call him up any time he had a problem with a story the magazine was running about Apple.
WORTH REMEMBERING - from October 2005, Jack Schafer writing in Slate on The Apple Polishers, explaining the press corps’ crush on Steve Jobs and company:
The inordinate amount of attention paid to Apple’s launches must be, in part, a function of the company’s skill at throwing media events, stoking the rumor mills, and seducing the consuming masses. All this, plus the chatter-inducing creativity of Apple’s ad campaigns, and its practice of putting its machines in pretty boxes make writing about Apple products more interesting than assessing the latest iterations of the ThinkPad or Microsoft Office.
Another thing that sets Apple product launches apart from those of its competition is co-founder Jobs’ psychological savvy. From the beginning, Jobs flexed his powerful reality-distortion field to bend employees to his will, so pushing the most susceptible customers and the press around with the same psi power only comes naturally. Although staffed by dorks and drizzlerods, Apple projects itself and its products as the embodiment of style and cool. The population of Apple’s parallel universe? A paltry 1.8 percent of PCs worldwide.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
A greener Apple
Apple Chief Steve Jobs made the company’s first public commitment to environmental action Wednesday by posting a 1,880-word letter on the company’s Web site touting its efforts at recycling old products and eliminating toxic substances from new ones. The disclosures, according to Jobs, were meant to answer criticism from environmental groups and break the silence about Apple’s track record on green practices. [...]
Jobs’ openness was well-received among environment activists like Greenpeace. “Today we saw something we’ve all been waiting for: the words ‘A Greener Apple’ on the front page of Apple’s site, with a message from Steve Jobs saying ‘Today we’re changing our policy,’” according to a statement from Greenpeace.
Plucked from the garden today
Judge makes no decision; child’s suffering continues
Remember Elizabeth Hadaway, the lesbian guardian of a now 7 year old girl, who tried to adopt in rural Wilkinson Country, GA. The judge there denied the adoption citing her lesbian relationship.
Hadaway left Wilkinson County and moved away from her life-partner of seven years to file for custody again in the more liberal city of Macon. There it was granted, but the Wilkinson judge refused to recognize the new order keeping the child in foster care said to be the “worst possible scenario” for her.
A judge did not make a decision today in the hearing of a woman who says that that DFACS is illegally keeping a child from her. [...]
Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit Superior Court judges have recused themselves from the case and the hearing today was held in front of Senior Judge William Malcolm Towson.
Towson asked Hadaway’s lawyer to file a suggested order. It could be weeks before a decision is made, officials said.
Via Gay News Blog.
A 2006 University of Maryland study on chat rooms found that female participants received 25 times as many sexually explicit and malicious messages as males. A 2005 study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that the proportion of Internet users who took part in chats and discussion groups plunged from 28 percent in 2000 to 17 percent in 2005, entirely because of the exodus of women. The study attributed the trend to “sensitivity to worrisome behavior in chat rooms.”
Joan Walsh, editor in chief of the online magazine Salon, said that since the letters section of her site was automated a year and a half ago, “it’s been hard to ignore that the criticisms of women writers are much more brutal and vicious than those about men.”
The newspeg for the WaPo article is Kathy Sierra going public in March about being threatened by a cyber-stalker. I’ve not followed closely but from the start sided with Scoble and was appalled by Kos’s naivete.
More from Joan Walsh writing in Salon of her reaction to Sierra:
I truly believe misogynist trolls are only a tiny sliver of the Web population. But I can no longer say they don’t matter, or they do no real harm. We have them here at Salon in politics and relationship threads; Sierra has them in the world of tech marketing. They’re probably not the same guys. That’s disturbing. What’s unique to the Web is that they can easily collaborate: A vicious prankster who’d like to rattle Sierra can make threats or even find and publish her address, and he might only want to scare her, not do her real physical harm. But he can be joined by an unhinged person who takes the address and acts on it. And who’s to blame?
I don’t have an answer to that question, or a solution. All I can really do is promise to think and talk about it more, and not dismiss other women’s—and some men’s—complaints about what women suffer online as easily as I have in the past.
Post title lifted from Slate.
46 pounds of phone records
Team play: the YouTube backstory
Stehen J. Dubner quotes Hunter Walk, a brand manager at Google:
Personally it’s been interesting to get to know Steve [Chen] and Chad [Hurley]. Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ But the YouTube story doesn’t end at Chad and Steve. In fact, one of the underreported factors in their success is the product, design and engineering team they assembled. Almost all of the original team worked together at Paypal/eBay. As YouTube grew incredibly quickly they were able to sound the bell and keep bringing on more former colleagues. All folks who were vetted, trusted by one another, etc. Imagine the time, hiring risk and integration friction they saved - the ability to “get the band back together” was without a doubt a reason that YouTube scaled.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
A doctor redefined as a non-doctor by a jury
Dr. William Hurwitz, the pain management physician originally convicted in 2004 of over 50 counts of distributing narcotics, was found guilty in his retrial Friday on sixteen counts of drug-dealing. John Tierney on the compromise federal jury verdict:
I asked the three jurors what they made of the distinction made by Dr. Hurwitz’s lawyers and by the judge: that this trial was not a malpractice case. In legalese, the jurors were to decide not whether Dr. Hurwitz had provided the proper “standard of care,” but whether he had violated the Controlled Substances Act by prescribing drugs “outside the bounds of medical practice.” The jurors said they were all aware of the distinction, but none of them claimed to understand it.
“I don’t know that I know enough to be clear about that gray area between malpractice and out of bounds,” Juror 1 said.
“We just had to go with our gut,” Juror 2 said.
“That was definitely a struggle,” Juror 3 said. “That was a gray area.”
Again, I can’t blame the jurors for being confused, because lawyers can’t agree on this distinction either. And that’s why, in the end, I think Dr. Hurwitz’s problem was not so much with the jurors as with the law. The Controlled Substances Act is a ass - or at least it’s been turned into one by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Justice.
A doctor is obviously acting outside the bounds of medical practice when he’s intentionally prescribing OxyContin not as medicine but as inventory to drug dealers. But as the law has come to be applied by narcotics agents and federal prosecutors, a doctor who is genuinely trying to treat pain can still be sent to prison. Lapses in medical judgment - or even just differences in medical judgment - have been criminalized. A doctor can be suddenly redefined as a non-doctor. All it takes is a second opinion from a jury.
Juries & Race & subliminal racism
It seems the great conductors of the world once innocently believed that men were innately better musicians than women and orchestras were male bastions. When, one day, through a set of fortuitous circumstances, a male maestro auditioned a woman he thought was a man (she auditioned from behind a screen) he hired her. And when screens were broadly adopted it became clear to everyone that women were every bit as talented musicians as men.
What once was “obvious,” that men were better musicians, is now obviously not.
His story is to illustrate the power and peril of subliminal snap judgments. Says Gladwell [@48:38]:
There are certain things about somebody that all of us are really really good at knowing right away, and certain things that we may think we’re good at knowing that we are profoundly not…
Sexual attractiveness, you can do like that…
When we have real experience with something we are good at making profoundly good snap judgments, but in almost every other situation where we do not have that level of expertise our snap judgments are bad. And as a society I feel we are way too cavalier about the products of our snap judgments.
After his talk, during the questions, Gladwell made this observation that I still have seen made no place else [@50:29]:
I have become convinced since writing this book that juries should never be able to see the defendants in a jury trial; that that is just crazy. Why? Because the kind of snap judgments a jury is likely to make about a defendant from seeing the defendant are all irrelevant…
Every year someone stands up and points out that there are huge differentials in the conviction rates and sentences for blacks and whites convicted of the same crime. And yet we make that observation and kind of shrug and say, “Well, that’s America.”
We don’t have to live with that. Why don’t we do something about it?
I would bet every dollar I own that if we put the defendant in a backroom and had the defendant answer all questions by email that the gap between black and white defendants, the sentences and conviction rates would shrink.
I absolutely believe that.
I do too.
The Times today looks at new research on Southern whites challenging long-held beliefs about the nation’s political realignment and the origins of modern conservatism:
Matthew D. Lassiter was motivated to research his own Southern roots. He found a gap between the history he had learned in school and his experience growing up in its wake in Sandy Springs, a white, middle-class suburb of Atlanta. “I was trying to find my own people, my parents and grandparents,” said Mr. Lassiter, 36, who wrote “The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South” (Princeton) published last year. “There were a few white Southerners who were liberals, a larger number throwing the rocks with the rioters and the vast group in the middle were left out of the story.”
As a graduate student at the University of Virginia, he taught undergraduates and assigned the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail,Ã¢â‚¬Â� in which he wrote, “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride towards freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than justice.”
Mr. Lassiter, who now teaches history at the University of Michigan, said: “Who are these moderates? They don’t seem to be participating, yet they’re completely complicit in the system of Jim Crow.”
Mr. Lassiter’s book looks at how the federal government subsidized white flight to the suburbs, where middle-class whites could embrace colorblind values but still maintain all-white enclaves and schools. “When you look at suburbs and middle class, then you start getting a national story,” he said. “White suburbs outside Charlotte are reacting the same as white suburbs outside Los Angeles or in New Jersey.”
I am fascinated and want to learn more. I am coming to see Southern whites as a convenient scapegoat, an excuse for our national inaction.
Yes, we can point with scorn to overt racism - and there is undoubtedly more of it here - but what are we doing to remedy the systemic racism that pervades our nation, keeps black men disproportionately imprisoned and city school systems disproportionately impoverished?
SEE ALSO: How personal responsibility helps lock in the status quo. I believe that dynamic is at work here as well.
Caged Canaries: The Southern Democrats
You may recall that before the election I dubbed the congressional Democrats seeking reelection in my area two canaries in a Republican coal mine. When their wins were up in the air, I worried that my birds are croaking and argued the value of Blue Dog Democrats. They did finally win, so now are they singing my song?
Well, not exactly. I saw last week that they “crossed over” and voted with Republicans on the Iraq Supplemental Funding bill:
Four Southern Democrats “crossed over” to vote against the bill. They were Barrow and Marshall from Georgia, Taylor from Mississippi, and Lincoln Davis from Tennessee. (Lewis of Georgia voted against the bill, but for a different reason, see below.) Only one Southern Republican, Jones of North Carolina, “crossed over” to vote for the bill. [...]
Here’s what two of them had to say:
Barrow of Georgia: “That’s no way to fight a war.” (There’s also some circular logic regarding “acts of Congress.")
Lincoln Davis of Tennessee: “ I have been clear with leadership from day one that I can’t support a bill with a day certain for withdrawal without waiver provisions.”
And from the principled vote against the whole mess:
Lewis of Georgia: “I will not and cannot in good conscience vote for another dollar or another dime to support this war. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.”
So with our differences, why do I continue to support these Southern Dems? Yes, it’s true, where else am I going to go? To the far worse local Republican alternative? But I don’t stick with them because I feel trapped. Rather, I see them as the ones in a cage. The reality of where they and I live is that they’re voting with the popular sentiment here and they cannot go far afield.
My goal is to change that popular sentiment, and towards that end they are the change agents. They will allow our locals to tune in to that more liberal message whereas Republican group-think would allow locals to just tune out those perspectives.
The Blue Dogs also keep Democratic group-think from setting in. My wisdom-of-crowds ideology believes a diverse party (which I define as diverse opinions and views, not just ethnic, racial and economic diversity) is a good and desirable thing.
Finally, I see our two party system as a fundamental part of the process of bringing together our geographically large and diverse nation. Shoehorning all of us into two parties works to hold us together where a multi-party system might more likely break us apart.
So I am a big fan of electing Democrats even if they will argue against what I see as my interests (gay rights, for example) within the party. I like to think that my arguments will win them over but even if they don’t, my arguments will grow stronger for the fact of the debate.
With that, I’m all for John Arthur Eaves, the holy-roller Democrat candidate for governor of Mississippi. Beyond the fact that he is far and away better than Haley Barbour, he’s making the economic argument I find so appealing:
Eaves roots his populism in the same evangelical Christianity as his social positions. “A lot of people ask me, ‘How are you a Democrat and a Christian?’ “ he says in his Jackson office, festooned with photos from his 1996 trip to Israel to baptize his sons. “And I say, ‘Because I’m a Christian, I’m a Democrat.’ Christ healed the sick, reached out to the poor and came to tell us the truth, which today would translate into support for health care and education. Christ came to help people, and I believe that’s the role of the Democratic Party.”
So do I.