aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, September 21, 2007
NOT NEWS: Hillary, I’m not a lesbian.
Did you see that Hillary has told the Advocate that she is not a Lesbian?
So much for my sources.
Real Freepers react:
She said: “I did not have sex with that women.” ...
Is Mrs. Bill Clinton saying the rumors are not true, or is she saying something else? ...
Was she tapping her foot in the bathroom again?
LATER: The Advocate story is posted.
Echo the old or herald the new?
The NYTimes says the protest in Jena echoes the old civil rights era:
In a slow-moving march that filled streets, spilled onto sidewalks and stretched for miles, more than 10,000 demonstrators rallied Thursday in this small town to protest the treatment of six black teenagers arrested in the beating of a white schoolmate last year.
Chanting slogans from the civil rights era and waving signs, protesters from around the nation converged in central Louisiana, where the charges have made this otherwise anonymous town of 3,000 people a high-profile arena in the debate on racial bias in the judicial system. [...]
Students, particularly those at historically black colleges, have also had a pivotal role in spreading the details. They poured into town after all-night bus rides. Many said they were happy to pick up the torch of the civil rights struggle.
“This is the first time something like this has happened for our generation,” said Eric Depradine, 24, a senior at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. “You always heard about it from history books and relatives. This is a chance to experience it for ourselves.”
In those students I find promise and hope because from great problems greatness grows. This problem is as big an intractable as any we got. I believe this generation has what it takes to solve it.
“What I’m suggesting is we are experiencing a new form of racial inequality. We could think of Jim Crow as a nail. And the protest against Jim Crow were a hammer. And a hammer is an extremely effective tool when you’re dealing with a nail. Contemporary racial inequality is structural. It’s undercover. It is connected with also with sort of black achievement which is also going on at the same time. Contemporary racial inequality is a screw, and if you take a hammer and start pounding on a screw, you just end up with a mess which means we have to live with the fact that a new generation is going to have to innovate a screwdriver to deal with the new problem. And that screwdriver might not look anything like the hammer. And we can’t keep yelling at them to use a hammer for a new problem.”
To me that looks like the beginnings of a screwdriver down in Jena Louisiana.
Are the whites in Jena racist?
And, while we’re on the topic, what about the liberal blogoshphere?
On All Things Considered last July, Jena school board member Bill Fowler said:
As far as racial problems, our community is no different from any other community… I’m appalled at - announce that media coming in here painting us as the most racist community in the world. That is totally inaccurate and not true.
I am thinking Fowler’s right. But therein lies the real problem.
I’ve pointed time and time again to the 2005 South by Southwest keynote address by Malcolm Gladwell. If ever there was a time his point needed to be heard, it is now.
As Malcolm tells it, 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.
Weak IP laws make the fashion industry thrive!
A dear friend who has been treated quite nicely by the publishing industry and is a beneficiary of the current copyright regime - one might even call him a copyright hawk - sent me this from The New Yorker hinting that even he can see that there are times where the extension of copyright works against the interests of an industry.
James Surowiecki, in The Piracy Paradox, finds that cheap (legal) knock-offs help keep the fashion industry healthy and profitable:
Congress now finds itself considering a bill, pushed by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, that would give original designs a legal protection similar to copyright.
Designers’ frustration at seeing their ideas mimicked is understandable. But this is a classic case where the cure may be worse than the disease. There’s little evidence that knockoffs are damaging the business. Fashion sales have remained more than healthy-estimates value the global luxury-fashion sector at a hundred and thirty billion dollars- and the high-end firms that so often see their designs copied have become stronger. More striking, a recent paper by the law professors Kal Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman suggests that weak intellectual-property rules, far from hurting the fashion industry, have instead been integral to its success. The professors call this effect “the piracy paradox.”
The paradox stems from the basic dilemma that underpins the economics of fashion: for the industry to keep growing, customers must like this year’s designs, but they must also become dissatisfied with them, so that they’ll buy next year’s. Many other consumer businesses face a similar problem, but fashion-unlike, say, the technology industry-can’t rely on improvements in power and performance to make old products obsolete. Raustiala and Sprigman argue persuasively that, in fashion, it’s copying that serves this function, bringing about what they call “induced obsolescence.” Copying enables designs and styles to move quickly from early adopters to the masses. And since no one cool wants to keep wearing something after everybody else is wearing it, the copying of designs helps fuel the incessant demand for something new.