aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
MTV, Rhapsody take on iTunes
Wow, MTV and Real Networks’ Rhapsody service are teaming up to take on iTunes, and the new deal looks like it will put an end to MTV’s short-lived partnership with Microsoft. Reports the Wall Street Journal, “Microsoft has been heavily focused on its own Zune service in recent months, to the apparent detriment of Urge, which had few subscribers. MTV itself no longer invested significant resources in Urge after Zune’s debut, according to a person familiar with Urge.” Also, Verizon Wireless is on board for the new Rhapsody partnership, which is an interesting development in light of Cingular’s partnership with Apple on the iPhone. MTV plans to promote the new partnership extensively, especially in combination with its annual VMAs, which air on September 9th. (WSJ sub. req.)
Monday, August 20, 2007
Atheists, foxholes and the final blow
ELLEN JOHNSON: We’re all familiar with phrases, like - you know, I have to say it - Jews are cheap, Italians are in the Mafia, Blacks are on welfare, gays are promiscuous, and atheists are immoral.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Ellen Johnson is the president of American Atheists. But the phrase she hates most of all goes a little something like this.
KATIE COURIC: Perhaps you’ve heard the expression, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”
BOB SCHIEFFER: Wartime, there are no atheists in foxholes.
JOHN BURNETT: To amend the old saying about foxholes, there are no atheists driving trucks in Iraq.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: That was CBS’s Katie Couric and Bob Schieffer, and NPR’s John Burnett. Those were just the three we got tape of. News people say it all the time. Ellen Johnson.
ELLEN JOHNSON: It’s demeaning to atheists. It’s saying that under very dire circumstances or frightening situations, atheists will stop being atheists. They will start believing. And this is really just a wish on the part of the religious, because it’s not based in fact.
JOHN BURNETT: I thought it was a good line for the tape.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: NPR’s John Burnett.
JOHN BURNETT: And I didn’t realize that it was so offensive to atheists. And I learned that in spades after this story came out. They spammed me for weeks with e-mail, saying, we’re outraged. So now I know.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And did you sort of see their point?
JOHN BURNETT: I do see their point. I literally hadn’t thought about it before. And, frankly, I will think twice about using the phrase again.
Also on the program, L.A. Times reporter Bill Lobdell, who was in the news again because his personal account of losing his born-again Christian faith after eight years on the religion beat was reprinted in The Week (evidently magazines turn to reruns in August, too).
The final blow came in a Portland courtroom. It was a hearing for a mother whose child was sick. She was trying to get more child support from the child’s dad, who happened to be a Catholic priest. And she really lived a miserable life. She lived in a friend’s basement for free. They got food from the food bank.
And the priest was on the stand. He had a great lawyer - just the sharpest attorney. She couldn’t afford one, and so it was this mom, basically, against this high-priced lawyer. And his defense was, I took a vow of poverty and I don’t have any money to give.
You know, I sat there and watched the Catholic Church pay for these high-priced lawyers so their priest could get out of paying child support. I saw the mom being crushed by this machine. And I sat there in the courtroom and I wasn’t surprised. I kind of lost that sense of outrage, even.
And at that point, I realized I just don’t believe any of this stuff anymore, and called my wife on the cell phone and just said, you know, I needed to get off this religion beat. It’s over.
I’m off to bed now. There I’ll be reading The Politics of God from yesterday’s NYTimes Sunday Magazine.
Daily Show on-the-scene reports from Iraq
Correspondent Rob Riggle, who has combat experience as a U.S. Marine Corps major, spent five days in Iraq last week with “Daily Show” writer Kevin Bleyer and field producer Glenn Clements. They went with a USO sketch comedy tour known as “Operation Feel the Heat”—armed with small, handheld cameras—and also brought back video that will be used for “Daily Show” about the troops and their lives in Iraq.
Although “Daily Show” spends time on topics related to Iraq and often has one of its correspondents appear against a greenscreen that simulates the Middle Eastern country, it’s the first time the fake-news show has gone the extra step and visited Iraq.
Riggle, Clements and Bleyer visited several bases—including Balad Air Force Base near Baghdad and two forward operating bases—over the course of five days. They performed with other comedians in 120-degree heat on makeshift stages, including a basketball court, then in between shot short videos for “Daily Show.” [...]
The “Daily Show” contingent said it is sensitive to the soldiers’ concerns, and the comedy this week from Iraq will focus on Riggle’s escapades while there. “Of course what’s going on is serious, and we take it very seriously,” Riggle said. “Any humor we did, it’s on me being an idiot. We know where the line is.”
Riggle and Clements went to the show’s producers in November to ask whether they could go to Iraq with a USO tour being planned and at the same time shoot pieces for “Daily Show.” After months of preparation and training in what to expect when they got there, Riggle and crew left Aug. 10.
Stop rushing the death penalty
Larry Cox, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, has this letter in the WaPo today:
Giving the attorney general the power to further "fast-track" the federal appeals process in capital punishment cases ["Gonzales to Get Power in Death Penalty Cases," news story, Aug. 15] is a recipe for disaster.
Even now there is irrefutable evidence that fatal errors in capital cases have gone undetected because of time limits imposed on federal judges.
Troy Davis, who is on death row in Georgia, is a case in point. His serious claims of innocence went unheard at the federal level because of arbitrary deadlines. Mr. Davis came within 24 hours of execution last month before a state parole board stepped in. This month, Georgia’s Supreme Court granted him an appeal to present new evidence.
Despite all this, he might still be executed.
Innocent men have come frighteningly close to execution; some may already have been put to death. Since 1973, 124 individuals have been released from death rows in 25 states because of wrongful conviction. Increasing the speed of executions flies in the face of that fact.
I’ve been arguing for liberals to abandon their faith in the courts and build legally binding, alternative institutions - based on mediation and rooted in social norms - that resolve issues before they ever even get to the courts.
Perhaps “abandon” is too broad. I might better advocate a two-pronged approach; build those alternate structures and reform the courts.
A reform worth considering:
...the creation of specialized health courts, where judges experienced in medicine would try cases without juries. The concept is backed by the nonpartisan legal reform group Common Good in conjunction with the Harvard School of Public Health. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has donated $1 million to promote the creation of these courts in six states: Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Wyoming. [...]
Among the benefits of health courts:
• Judges would be assisted by neutral expert witnesses and guided by evidence-based practice guidelines. Unlike juries, they would issue written opinions that establish precedents and standards of care, removing much of the uncertainty physicians now practice under.
• Awards would be more consistent. Juries sometimes base awards more on sympathy than facts. An injury “worth” $100,000 in one place might bring $2 million or nothing at all with a different jury. Health courts could make awards based on a schedule of benefits, similar to workers’ compensation.
• More patients would be compensated. Under the present tort system, plaintiffs must prove negligence by a doctor or hospital. With health courts, claimants need only show that the injury would not have occurred if best practices had been followed. The standard would be whether the injury was avoidable or preventable, not whether a physician fell below the standard of care. The entire process would be far less adversarial.
• Although more claims would be filed, the average award would be considerably lower. That’s been the experience with the Kaiser Permanente system in California where 6 million patients have signed agreements to resolve malpractice disputes through arbitration rather than jury trials.
• Perhaps most important, health courts would promote patient safety. Reporting information about injuries to a central data base would allow experts to determine why errors occur and how they can be prevented. The current punitive system encourages defendants to hide mistakes rather than examine them.
Moyers on Rove
Via Joe Gandelman, who has the transcript. See also, Joe’s Did Media’s Story Narrative Needs Exaggerate Rove’s Political Prowess?
Gay Unions and Black Chruches
The The WaPo looks at Covenant Baptist, a DC area church where co-pastors Dennis and Christine Wiley have begun to conduct same-sex union ceremonies:
For years, disputes over homosexuality have convulsed predominantly white Protestant denominations—Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopalian and Presbyterian—but they have only recently hit black churches.
“It’s going to be a real challenge,” said the Rev. Carlton W. Veazey, minister at Fellowship Baptist Church in the District and founder of the annual National Black Religious Summit on Sexuality. “We’re just beginning to really deal with it.”
Most major historically black denominations have taken strong stances against homosexuality. [...]
[E]mbracing gays can come at a cost. Victory Church, a black megachurch near Atlanta, lost 2,500 members—half of its congregation—after its pastor, the Rev. Kenneth L. Samuel, started preaching acceptance of gays several years ago.
“I did not know that my theological view would be so negatively reacted to,” Samuel said. Even now, he said, “we are ostracized and criticized throughout the city by pastors and religious people of all types, certainly within the black community.”
A problem that would go away immediately if only more congregations - black, white or whatever - would embrace the lesbian and gay people among them:
The gays flocking to Covenant say the church’s deep Baptist roots link them with the rituals and traditions of their childhood. [...]
And that was fine with church member Martha Battle, who said she didn’t mind Covenant’s outreach to gays at first, because “everybody needs to be saved.”
But now, “straight people are leaving and gay people are coming in,” said Battle, who left the church with her 13-year-old grandson after the Wileys began performing same-sex union ceremonies. “They’re taking over. I’m sick to my stomach over this mess. It’s not right. Why should we have to leave and let them come in and take over the church?”
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Rove on the Sunday chat shows (& Porky Pig)
In three Sunday show appearances, he was not asked once about his efforts to politicize the federal government, despite the fact that a front-page article appeared on that very subject this morning in the Washington Post. Rove was also not asked about his role in selling the war prior to the invasion. Nor was he asked about his connections to Jack Abramoff, his use of non-White House email accounts, or his stewardship over the Katrina reconstruction efforts.
I’m thinking this more accurately reflects what he really meant to say:
Cory Booker’s Atlanta connection
I am hoping that Cory Booker is one of those who can re-ignite and re-imagine a Civil Rights movement for our era.
Booker was born in Washington, D.C., and the family moved to the north Jersey suburb of Harrington Park when his father earned a promotion. Both parents worked as executives at IBM and helped to integrate the company.
To ensure that they could buy their home, a white couple posed as Booker’s parents.
Cary and Carolyn Booker instilled the values of respect and hard work.
“You’ve got to give 110 percent,” said Carolyn Booker, who now lives with her husband in suburban Atlanta.
Cory Booker, their youngest of two sons, left New Jersey for California, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and played football.
RELATED: More arrests and a look at the role of race, immigration, and the conservative bandwagon forming around the Newark murders.
Rich on Rove
My friend Sam is a Frank Rich fan. He finds today’s column particularly delicious. Me too:
Forced to pick a single symbolic episode to encapsulate the collapse of Rovian Republicanism, however, I would not choose any of those national watersheds, or even the implosion of the Iraq war, but the George Allen “macaca" moment. Its first anniversary fell, fittingly enough, on the same day last weekend that Mitt Romney bought his victory at the desultory, poorly attended G.O.P. straw poll in Iowa.
A century seems to have passed since Mr. Allen, the Virginia Republican running for re-election to the Senate, was anointed by Washington insiders as the inevitable heir to the Bush-Rove mantle: a former governor whose jus’-folks personality, the Bushian camouflage for hard-edged conservatism, would propel him to the White House. Mr. Allen’s senatorial campaign and presidential future melted down overnight after he insulted a Jim Webb campaign worker, the 20-year-old son of Indian immigrants, not just by calling him a monkey but by sarcastically welcoming him “to America” and “the real world of Virginia.”
This incident had resonance well beyond Virginia and Mr. Allen for several reasons. First, it crystallized the monochromatic whiteness at the dark heart of Rovian Republicanism. For all the minstrel antics at the 2000 convention, the record speaks for itself: there is not a single black Republican serving in either the House or Senate, and little representation of other minorities, either. Far from looking like America, the G.O.P. caucus, like the party’s presidential field, could pass for a Rotary Club, circa 1954. Meanwhile, a new census analysis released this month finds that nonwhites now make up a majority in nearly a third of the nation’s most populous counties, with Houston overtaking Los Angeles in black population and metropolitan Chicago surpassing Honolulu in Asian residents. Even small towns and rural America are exploding in Hispanic growth.
Second, the Allen slur was a compact distillation of the brute nastiness of the Bush-Rove years, all that ostentatious “compassion” notwithstanding. Mr. Bush and Mr. Rove are not xenophobes, but the record will show that their White House spoke up too late and said too little when some of its political allies descended into Mexican-bashing during the immigration brawl. Mr. Bush and Mr. Rove winked at anti-immigrant bigotry, much as they did at the homophobia they inflamed with their incessant election-year demagoguery about same-sex marriage.
Finally, the “macaca” incident was a media touchstone. It became a national phenomenon when the video landed on YouTube, the rollicking Web site whose reach now threatens mainstream news outlets. A year later, leading Republicans are still clueless and panicked about this new medium, which is why they, unlike their Democratic counterparts, pulled out of even a tightly controlled CNN-YouTube debate. It took smart young conservative bloggers like a former Republican National Committee operative, Patrick Ruffini, to shame them into reinstating the debate for November, lest the entire G.O.P. field look as pathetically out of touch as it is.
Criminals and cable
Last night my nephew - no Right Wingnut he - argued that we coddle our criminals in prisons by allowing them to watch cable television.
I argued that his position is a reflection of our more punitive culture:
One simple measure of punitiveness is the likelihood that a person who is arrested will be subsequently incarcerated. Between 1980 and 2001, there was no real change in the chances of being arrested in response to a complaint: the rate was just under 50 percent. But the likelihood that an arrest would result in imprisonment more than doubled, from 13 to 28 percent. And because the amount of time served and the rate of prison admission both increased, the incarceration rate for violent crime almost tripled, despite the decline in the level of violence. The incarceration rate for nonviolent and drug offenses increased at an even faster pace: between 1980 and 1997 the number of people incarcerated for nonviolent offenses tripled, and the number of people incarcerated for drug offenses increased by a factor of 11. Indeed, the criminal-justice researcher Alfred Blumstein has argued that none of the growth in incarceration between 1980 and 1996 can be attributed to more crime:The growth was entirely attributable to a growth in punitiveness, about equally to growth in prison commitments per arrest (an indication of tougher prosecution or judicial sentencing) and to longer time served (an indication of longer sentences, elimination of parole or later parole release, or greater readiness to recommit parolees to prison for either technical violations or new crimes).
This growth in punitiveness was accompanied by a shift in thinking about the basic purpose of criminal justice. In the 1970s, the sociologist David Garland argues, the corrections system was commonly seen as a way to prepare offenders to rejoin society. Since then, the focus has shifted from rehabilitation to punishment and stayed there. Felons are no longer persons to be supported, but risks to be dealt with. And the way to deal with the risks is to keep them locked up. As of 2000, 33 states had abolished limited parole (up from 17 in 1980); 24 states had introduced three-strikes laws (up from zero); and 40 states had introduced truth-in-sentencing laws (up from three). The vast majority of these changes occurred in the 1990s, as crime rates fell.
Worse than the huge financial burden of our punitive criminal justice system - to build and staff prisons and the expansive legal system required to place and hold them there - are the social costs. Every prison inmate is some mother’s son, brother, sister, father, uncle or friend to those of us on the outside. And if while inside we do nothing more than provide cable television and a gym, how can we be surprised to find that when they are set free they re-offend and wind up right back in jail?
Our punitive lack of rehabilitation services is a de facto training program for criminals. They come out of the system worse than when they went in. I just don’t see how that’s good for any of us.
Jail time added to list of teen sex risks
This AP story is making the newspaper rounds:
Atlanta | Health teachers have long warned teens that they risk becoming pregnant or contracting diseases if they are sexually active. A few are now adding a new lesson to the list: Have sex and you’re breaking the law.
Pop culture may be filled with images of promiscuous high schoolers, but in many states it’s still illegal for them to actually have sex, even if they’re close in age. And although legal experts say it’s rare for prosecutors to seek charges, they can and sometimes do.
Perhaps the most famous example is Genarlow Wilson, the Georgia man serving a 10-year prison sentence for receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old girl. Georgia lawmakers have softened the law prosecutors used to sentence Wilson but they didn’t erase the criminal penalty altogether. It’s still a misdemeanor.
Lawyers and health educators say most teens - and even many parents - are unaware that consensual teenage sex is often a crime.
SEE ALSO: My5th.org
Wikipedia and media authority
An issue I find more fascinating than the one addressed by WikiScanner is Wikipedia’s reliance on traditional media to determine when a subject is ”notable” and whether a source is credible and authoritative. danah boyd makes the point:
I’m trying really hard to figure out ways in which we can get youth to think critically about the construction and production of information. I believe that Wikipedia is a great source for working through and thinking about these issues, but I’m extremely worried about the ways in which Wikipedians fetishize mass media as ideal sources. Hell, I’m worried about the ways in which my own industry [academia?] sees mass media as proof that the sky is falling. Media is often very useful for citations, but to assume that it is always right seems to be extremely dangerous, especially for a community that’s fighting an image issue concerning the ease with which things can be edited and published. I also think it’s dangerous for Wikipedia to perpetuate inaccuracies in mass media just cuz mass media said so.
To those Wikipedians out there who happen to read my blog - is there any conversation amongst Wikipedians about how to deal with mass media coverage? Is there any conversation about how mass media coverage is often biased or inaccurate? Why is mass media coverage so valued? (And why on earth am I notable because I’m profiled in mass media instead of because of why mass media was covering me?)
In comments a Wikipedia editor writes:
Most Wikipedia editors know that mass media is often unreliable… but it’s all we can agree on. “What is a reliable source” has occupied literally tens of thousands of messages. What the policy should say and when to make exceptions on it start flamewars of legendary intensity; I think some often forget that Wikipedians made the policies and thus can change them if they’re bad. [...]
There’s not one sort of Wikipedia editor, any more than there’s one sort of blogger. Some people place more importance on some things than others: effect on the subject, reliability of sources, proper procedures for verification, etc.; with people it is more difficult to come to agreement, because there’s more importance on getting it right *now* as opposed to something where the subject isn’t herself affected.
There’s a new unofficial Wikipedia search tool, WikiScanner, that lets you enter the name of a corporation, organization or government entity and get a list of IP addresses assigned to it. Then, with just a few more clicks, you find all the anonymous edits made from those addresses anywhere in Wikipedia’s pages.
WikiScanner is the work of Virgil Griffith, 24, a cognitive scientist who is a visiting researcher at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico. Mr. Griffith, who spent two weeks this summer writing the software for the site, said he got interested in creating such a tool last year after hearing of members of Congress who were editing their own entries.
Mr. Griffith said he “was expecting a few people to get nailed pretty hard” after his service became public. “The yield, in terms of public relations disasters, is about what I expected.”
Mr. Griffith, who also likes to refer to himself as a “disruptive technologist,Ã¢â‚¬Â� said he was certain any more examples of self-interested editing would come out in the next few weeks, “because the data set is just so huge.”
Wired has more, including a list of too-good-to-be-true Wikipedia spin jobs, submitted by the public and rankable by all, that actually turn out to be true (MPAA edits DRM, ACLU slanders the pope, Subway declares its sandwiches ‘delicious’....).
Busy with the first week of classes, I’m late to this party. Here Cory Doctorow comments on the Disney whitewashing of his entry; here Wonkette sees vandalism by the Republican Party of Minnesota as proof that Republicans Hate Harry Potter.
Crooks and Liars points to the diligent detective work of dKos diarist Democrashield for cataloging the “egregious even by FOX standards” editing of anchor entries (Fox hits back here); and from the UK, the Telegraph whacks the BBC for hypocrisy in pointing to the CIA when its own house is unclean.
All of this is good blogger fun, but really just a tempest in a teapot. The fact that kids make prank phone calls is an annoyance, nothing more (do kids even do that anymore?), and does not delegitimize the phone network. Similarly, pranksters don’t delegitimize Wikipedia; they’re an annoyance to be dealt with and Virgil’s done that nicely:
[Wikipedia founder Jimmy] Wales, who called the scanner “a very clever idea,” said he was considering some changes to Wikipedia to help visitors better understand what information is recorded about them.
“When someone clicks on ‘edit,’ it would be interesting if we could say, Ã¢â‚¬ËœHi, thank you for editing. We see you’re logged in from The New York Times. Keep in mind that we know that, and it’s public information,’ “ he said. “That might make them stop and think.”
Like prank phone calls, this is an issue that is bound to fade away.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Slate on the economics of sexual hypocrisy
God’s latest gift to columnists and standup comedians is Florida legislator Bob Allen, arrested this summer in a public restroom for offering an undercover cop $20 and a blow job (yes, that’s $20 and a blow job, not $20 for a blow job). This story has everything. First, there’s Allen’s risible defenseÃ¢â‚¬"that as the only white guy in the men’s room, he got scared and needed a way to fit in. Then there are the exquisite details, like Allen’s Web page, which lists his sole recreational interest as “water sports.” And the crowning glory: Allen’s long history as a staunch defender of family values, including an attempt to outlaw masturbation in the presence of a consenting adult. Oh, the hypocrisy!
Or maybe not. Why, exactly, do we call Mr. Allen a hypocrite? Answer: because he wants to impose standards on others that he’s not willing to impose on himself. But you could say the same thing about a lot of other politicians. Consider, for example, a U.S. Senator who seeks to raise income taxes on people in her own income bracket yet neglects to make voluntary overpayments to the government each April 15. Is she equally a hypocrite?
Hypocrisy is not an economic concept, so economic theory can’t answer that question. But it can go a long way toward clarifying the issues and sorting out good analogies from bad ones.
Slate’s on a roll! Earlier in the week they had a story about sexual math in which they examine the discrepancy between the average number of sex partners of men and women. Here we have the economics of sexual hypocrisy:
It’s perfectly rational-if a little ugly-to say: “I care enough about the homeless that I’d like to force my neighbors to feed them, but not enough that I’m willing to feed them myself.” And it’s therefore perfectly rational to say, “My first choice is that everyone but me feeds the homeless, my second choice is that everyone including me feeds the homeless, and my third choice is that nobody feeds the homeless.” But now you edge a lot closer to what might reasonably be called hypocrisy. Because now you’re imposing a standard that you’re not willing to meet voluntarily-even though the free-rider problem does not apply.
What does all this mean for family-values crusaders who solicit sex in public restrooms? It depends, I suppose, on the nuances of their positions. Suppose you’re Bob Allen: You believe that America is veering off course, and you expect that God will smite us unless 10,000,000 people all change their sinful ways. That’s like a streetlight. Either 10,000,000 others will change their ways or they won’t, and your own behavior is extremely unlikely to make a difference. Might as well go for the blow job. On the other hand, if you’re Bob Allen and you believe that each individual sinner brings marginally more divine displeasure on all of us, that’s like feeding the homeless. Your own behavior matters regardless of what everyone else does. In the first case, I might call you cold and calculating. In the second case, I might call you a hypocrite.
And ditto for the senator who calls for higher taxes but doesn’t pay them voluntarily. If those taxes are meant to pay for streetlightsÃ¢â‚¬"or for police protection, or public parks, or the military-then I’ll give her a clear pass on the hypocrisy question. But if those taxes are meant to feed the poor, we’re entitled to ask why she doesn’t go ahead and pay them without waiting for the rest of us.
Legal imigrant imprisoned & deported for consensual sex
When xenophobia and sex offender hysteria meet. San Francisco Chronicle:
A legal immigrant in Northern California who was 20 when he began a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl faces deportation to Mexico under a ruling Thursday that was described as unjust by a majority of the federal appeals court panel that issued it.
Although Juan Estrada-Espinoza’s relationship with his girlfriend was consensual, the crime he committed under state law - unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor at least three years younger than he was - is considered sexual abuse of a minor under federal law and is grounds for mandatory deportation, said the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
In a separate opinion, two members of the three-judge panel said the court was required to follow its ruling in another case last year that defined the crime as abusive in all circumstances, but should convene a larger panel to reconsider the issue. Each case should be judged on its facts, and there is no suggestion of abuse in this case, said Judge Sidney Thomas, joined in the opinion by Ronald Leighton, a visiting federal judge from Tacoma, Wash.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Lutherans in the news today
On Saturday of last week, delegates at a Lutheran Churchwide Assembly in Chicago approved a statement asking bishops to wait until 2009 to discipline gay pastors who are in relationships (they already allow gay ministers, but requires them to be celibate). For some reason I’m at a loss to ascertain, this is news today.
The vote was too late to prevent the defrocking of Bradley Schmeling as pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Atlanta, who had told his congregation and his bishop that he was in a long-term same-sex relationship.
But Mr. Schmeling’s congregation intends to keep him as its pastor. The resolution permits his bishop, the Rev. Ronald Warren, to forgo disciplining the congregation for retaining him.
“I’m disappointed that they couldn’t fully change the policy,” Mr. Schmeling said. “But I think it’s a big step forward for us. For the first time, the church is saying that there are partnered gay and lesbian pastors who are serving faithfully and well in our church, and they should stay in place for sake of the mission of the church.”
The Rev. Bradley Schmeling of Atlanta believes he and about 20 supporters made a difference in how one Lutheran denomination will deal with gay members and ministers in coming years.
Schmeling and members of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Atlanta lobbied representatives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America this month to stop removing gay pastors from pulpits. And church representatives did just that, at least for two years.
“There is a little more space for [gay] pastors to serve without fear,” said Schmeling, who is gay and has felt the sting of church discipline.
Let’s say you’ve totally mastered the grown-up thing. You’ve got a good job, meaningful relationships with your loved ones, a nice place to live—basically, you’re king of your universe. If that description fits you—or even if it doesn’t—then “Superbad,” written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, directed by Greg Mottola, and produced by guy-of-the-moment Judd Apatow, is for you: because you’re never too old, or too together, to relive the humiliation of your teenage years.
On some level, “Superbad” is a sweet story about friendship between teenage boys, specifically about the way our society’s expectations of men—of any age—often prevent them from expressing their true feelings. Mostly, though, it’s about teenage boys struggling to get laid, trying to buy alcohol with a fake ID, and, last but not least, riding the bus. And really, that’s enough. Even though the movie’s characters do learn some valuable lessons and are therefore redeemed—at least partially—there’s nothing metaphorical about “Superbad.” The movie doesn’t need any superfluous redeeming qualities: Its pleasures and charms lie in its very crudeness, in the way the characters’ thoughts begin in their dicks and spill out of their mouths, completely bypassing their brains.
Here’s the trailer. I am not Superbad.
Ubuntu security concerns dismissed
You’d think placing repurposed surplus machines with the free Ubuntu Linux OS in a school for students with special needs is a no-brainer. You’d be wrong. Resistance is the way of our world I guess.
And the resistance - from the administrative side of the house under the guise of security - will no doubt raise the recent security concerns. Canonical dismisses them:
Concerns over the security of the Ubuntu Linux distribution arose this week, when five out of eight community-run servers sponsored by Canonical had to shut down.
The servers had “started attacking other systems,” according to an Ubuntu newsletter. The issue first came to light on Saturday, when Ubuntu users voiced concern over a problem with local community (loco) hosted servers.
London-based Canonical moved quickly to minimize the issue and reassure users that the operating system is secure.
“This is not a problem with our production servers,” Gerry Carr, marketing manager of Canonical, told ZDNet UK, sister site of CNET News.com. The issue was with “loco servers that we pay for but that do not sit in our data center.” As a result, the security in Canonical’s data center was “in no way compromised by these attacks,” Carr said.
I’m not real sure that will mollify my guys.
[T]he company did accept that the servers had been poorly managed. The problem arose because the responsibility for security lay “between Canonical and the community,” Carr said.
“Most of the time,” this was just as it should be, Carr said, but “server management is maybe not one of those times.”
The issue is one for the community to decide, he said. “Either the loco servers come into our data center and are subject to our standard, rigorous security and management, or they sit completely outside of it and are run by the community.”
The issue is outlined in detail in an e-mail from Ubuntu’s community manager, Jono Bacon.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
FCC Opposes Plan For Free Broadband
The Federal Communications Commission is seeking to shut the door on a plan by a group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to offer free wireless broadband Internet service nearly everywhere in the U.S., the chief executive of the group said.
M2Z Networks Inc. issued a statement in which it said it would take the FCC to court in an attempt to force the agency to conduct a thorough analysis of the plan before it determined whether it would back it.
The Menlo Park, Calif., company has proposed taking 25 megahertz of spectrum that is currently vacant and using it to build a wireless broadband Internet network to provide free service to 95% of Americans within a decade.
In addition to the backing of well-known Silicon Valley venture capitalists who count among their earlier investments Amazon.com Inc., Netscape, Google Inc., social-networking site MySpace and TiVO Inc., the plan has the backing of a number of prominent lawmakers. [...]
According to John Muleta, a former head of the FCC’s wireless bureau and now chief executive of M2Z, the group was informed last week by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s office that Mr. Martin had circulated a proposed decision to the other four commissioners that would deny M2Z’s plan. An official in another commissioners’ office confirmed that Mr. Martin had circulated a letter suggesting the plan be declined.
Joost American ‘Broadband’ problem
I want to cancel cable and get my TV on the web. Joost could be a model but still lacks the programming I want. But that’s not the biggest obstacle Joost’s success:
The fundamental problem that Joost faces is the fact that the broadband available to North American households simply isn’t fast enough for them to provide image quality comparable to digital cable or satellite, much less high-definition video. [...]
My concern is that with DSL provider AT&T moving into IPTV, and cable Internet providers already delivering video, what little competition there is in America for consumer broadband providers, any incentive to increase speeds (especially the upstream bandwidth) could hit a wall of corporate self-interest. After all, why should companies like Comcast offer the kind of high speed broadband enjoyed in Europe and Asia when it would simply enable companies like Joost to compete with the company’s own digital video offerings?
Even if there is a significant increase in network speed, without any guarantees of network neutrality, Internet providers could simply charge Joost and other independent IPTV upstarts for the bandwidth rights to stream video of comparable quality to their own digital video offerings. And guess who that cost would get passed on to? That would be you. So while Joost has a lot of potential on other continents, the cards are stacked against the company here in the USA.
Gay marriage poll: As goes New Jersey…
...so goes the nation? Newsday:
Twice as many New Jerseyans “would be fine” with allowing gay couples to marry as would be upset if lawmakers enacted a marriage equality law, according to a new poll.
The Zogby survey of 803 New Jersey voters was commissioned by the gay rights group Garden State Equality to mark the six-month anniversary of New Jersey’s civil unions law on Sunday.
By 63% to 31%, New Jersey voters say they’d be fine with the state legislature upgrading civil unions to marriage equality.
By 72% to 21%, New Jersey voters say state legislators would be in no electoral danger if they enacted marriage equality.
By 61% to 29%, New Jersey voters say they expect the state to enact marriage equality within just a couple of years.
Zogby asked the baseline question - do you favor marriage equality versus civil unions - in two ways. Results are 48% to 45% for marriage equalityin one question, 48% to 30% in another.
And a significant 35% of respondents said they would be less likely to dobusiness with a company that denies equal benefits to gay employees. 20% said “much less likely.Ã¢â‚¬Â�
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Ever notice that when we’re in a heat wave, like we are in Atlanta now, you never hear about global warming on conservative talk radio? But give them one cold day in the middle of 30 blistering hot days, and they’ll spend the entire show ridiculing it.
They still got time… yesterday 101Ã‚Â° today 105Ã‚Â° tomorrow 100Ã‚Â° Friday 99Ã‚Â° Saturday 101Ã‚Â°
Petraeus Report Won’t be Written by Petraeus
Left and Right note that...
Despite Bush’s repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.
So the White House will lie in the report it writes under Petraeus’ byline, then “interpret” it on its own to justify anything it wants.
Let me predict the future:
The report: “Success!”
The interpretation: ”Smashing success!”
Now, I didn’t expect the report to be an objective view of the situation totally divorced from politics. But I did figure they’d at least take reasonable steps to at least present that illusion.
Doing it this way is so mindnumbingly stupid as to defy measurement.
i agree with both of them.
Those magnificent men in their riding machines
Doug, on the first day of fall classes, this post’s for you! Too bad it’s too hot to ride to school...
A one-of-a-kind wooden bicycle photo essay from CNET:
A replica steampunk powered monocycle from the Victorian era on eBay via Boing Boing:
The Victorian monocycle brings to mind Mr. Garrison’s gyroscope-powered Segway-parody monowheeled “IT” from the recently repeated South Park episode, The Entity. Garrison came up with the vehicle because he was tired of inefficient and frustrating airline check-ins and miserable in-flight conditions.
The public takes to the vehicle, agreeing that its propulsion method employing “four ‘flexi-grip handles’ that somewhat resemble erect penises; two used by the hands, one in the mouth, and a fourth handle which is inserted into the anus” is preferable to and more comfortable than flying. That observation is even more true this summer than it was when the episode first aired in 2001.
Viacom hasn’t settled with Google/YouTube yet (though the latest interesting development is that Google says it wants to depose Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart) so the only clip to slip through the Viacom copyright hawks is from