aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, November 17, 2007
War on Christmas ‘Naughty’ company list
The Liberty Counsel’s “Friend or Foe” campaign to keep the word “Christmas” alive in holiday advertising has put out a list of retailers who “are profiting from Christmas while at the same time pretending that it does not exist.”
Ace Hardware: Holiday Decorations section on web site. Christmas Trees are referred to as Trees.
Bloomingdales: Web site: Gifted 2007, one Christmas ornament, one Christmas makeup kit, no celebration of Christmas made evident, no Christmas e-card or gift card, but there is a Hanukkah e-card.
Circuit City: Web site: Holiday Gift Guide, Free shipping by December 24th. Only mention of Christmas is in the shipping fine print.
Dicks Sporting Goods: Web site: The Gift Center. No mention of Christmas.
Giant Eagle Pharmacy: Mentions holiday, holiday cards, Festive Seasonal Boxed Cards, and the slogan Reach for the Stars this Holiday Season on the web site. No mention of Christmas.
Hollister Co: Web site: SoCal X-Mas video, Holiday Beach video. No mention of Christmas.
Home Depot: Web site: Everything is red and green, but its the Holiday Gift Center, Holiday Decorations, Home for the Holidays, Artificial Trees, not Christmas trees. No mention of Christmas.
K-Mart: Web site: Holiday Shop, Holiday Toys, Get it in time for the Holiday, Holiday Planner. They are calling Christmas The Holiday. Some local store managers may be hanging Christmas signs, but the company does not appear to be celebrating Christmas.
Kohl's: “Holiday shopping list,” no Christmas trees: just Trees, “Hanukkah” section, “Holiday: find the perfect gifts,” “45 days left: shipping deadlines,” “stocking stuffers,” “St. Nicholas station” and “Nativity” section, but never mentions “Christmas.”
Lane Bryant: “Holiday HQ,” “Gift Guide,” “For a truly special holiday gift…” “Holiday Season,” “Holiday Looks,” and “Holiday Style” on the web site. Typing “Christmas” in the search engine brings up nothing.
Marshalls: Front Page of the web site: “Who Wants a Holiday That Looks Like Everyone Elses?” “Holiday Style,” and “Holiday Decorating Ideas.” No mention of Christmas.
Nordstrom: Web site: “Once Upon a Holiday… gifts were given,” “Great Gifting.” No mention of Christmas. Dec 19 “Last day to make Holiday deadline.”
Office Max: Web site: “Great Gifts for the Holiday,” “Snappy Holiday Gift Ideas,” “Furnish your office in time for the holidays,” and “Everything you need this holiday season and beyond.” No mention of Christmas.
Pet Smart: Web site: “Holiday Central,” “Photos with Santa Claws,” “Holiday Games,” “Holiday Wrapping Paper,” and “Holiday Shops.” No mention of Christmas.
Sears: Online: December 25 is the “holiday.”
Shopko: Report: Newspaper ad says they are selling “holiday lights”, “holiday trees”, and other “holiday items.” Web site: “Holiday ornaments, trees and lighting.”
Sprint: Web site: “Tis the season to give SprintSpeed,” “Holiday Entertainment,” “Holiday Season,” and “Sprint lights up the Holidays.” No mention of Christmas.
SEE ALSO: Morbo’s urgent War on Christmas update.
Iran, Dubai, Saudi Arabia barbarities
You won’t find me visiting the Middle East any time soon…
Amid international criticism ignited by a crusading journalist, Iran’s chief justice has spared the life of a young man who had been sentenced to be executed as the result of a cousin’s accusations of homosexual acts years earlier.
Ayatollah Seyed Mahmoud Hashemi Sharudi nullified the imminent death sentence of Makvan Mouloodzadeh, 21, for violations of Iranian law and Islamic teachings, Saeid Eghbali, the defendant’s attorney, told msnbc.com this week.
Had Sharudi not intervened, Mouloodzadeh would have joined hundreds of his fellow Iranians, some of them just children when they committed their alleged crimes, who are hanged each year in jail yards and public squares. The executions are often carried out via a method designed to enhance and prolong their suffering: A rope is placed around the condemned person’s neck and he or she is hoisted from the ground with an industrial crane.
Alexandre Robert, a French 15-year-old, was...rushing to meet his father for dinner when he bumped into an acquaintance, a 17-year-old, who said he and his cousin could drop Alex off at home.
There were, in fact, three Emirati men in the car, including a pair of former convicts ages 35 and 18, according to Alex. He says they drove him past his house and into a dark patch of desert, between a row of new villas and a power plant, took away his cellphone, threatened him with a knife and a club, and told him they would kill his family if he ever reported them.
Then they stripped off his pants and one by one sodomized him in the back seat of the car. They dumped Alex across from one of Dubai’s luxury hotel towers.
Alex and his family were about to learn that despite Dubai’s status as the Arab world’s paragon of modernity and wealth, and its well-earned reputation for protecting foreign investors, its criminal legal system remains a perilous gantlet when it comes to homosexuality and protection of foreigners.
The authorities not only discouraged Alex from pressing charges, he, his family and French diplomats say; they raised the possibility of charging him with criminal homosexual activity, and neglected for weeks to inform him or his parents that one of his attackers had tested H.I.V. positive while in prison four years earlier.
A court in Saudi Arabia increased the punishment for a gang-rape victim after her lawyer won an appeal of the sentence for the rapists, the lawyer told CNN.
The 19-year-old victim was sentenced last year to 90 lashes for meeting with an unrelated male, a former friend from whom she was retrieving photographs. The seven rapists, who abducted the pair and raped both, received sentences ranging from 10 months to five years in prison.
The victim’s attorney, Abdulrahman al-Lahim, contested the rapists’ sentence, contending there is a fatwa, or edict under Islamic law, that considers such crimes Hiraba (sinful violent crime) and the punishment should be death.
“After a year, the preliminary court changed the punishment and made it two to nine years for the defendants,” al-Lahim said of the new decision handed down Wednesday. “However, we were shocked that they also changed the victim’s sentence to be six months in prison and 200 lashes.”
The judges more than doubled the punishment for the victim because of “her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media,” according to a source quoted by Arab News, an English-language Middle Eastern daily newspaper.
Imagine scrapping the Farm Bill
Annie Myers went to an NYU panel entitled ”The Farm Bill 2007: Understanding the Political, Agricultural, and Nutritional Impact” and came away wondering why we don’t rethink the Fram Bill from the ground up:
We who are up for it sludge through the Farm Bill, and the best of us - whether we’re organizations, institutions, or just crazy individuals - come up with proposals that cut subsidies, end subsidies, fund specialty crop research, or at least somehow cut down on this CORN production, that we’ve all learned from Michael Pollan is a major reason for why we’re stingy, fat, and hated.
What we DON’T consider, is scrapping the Farm Bill altogether. It’s demonstrably ridiculous, in and off itself. To address 3 million square miles of land with 1 Farm Bill simply doesn’t make sense. Agriculture is regional, for one thing. Not only are the culture and politics different in Iowa than in New York, but the land is too, and the climate. A bill with provisions for avocados in California should not be legislating the cows in Maine. Nutrition and Hunger and Agriculture and Trade may be much like adults playing Twister - mischievously intermingled, entirely inseparable, and always (somewhere) hurting - but these forces of the economy need not share the same budget and bed. Money to support agricultural research should not detract from Emergency Food Programs, and whomever pens provisions for popular exports should not simultaneously sign off on subsidies deemed illegal by the WTO… we need to think bigger than a Farm Bill proposal. We need to take the twister-playing issues in the Farm Bill and get them interacting through a different game: synchronized swimming, perhaps, or a maypole dance.
In response to my concerns, [NYU Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health professor Marion] Nestle said that election funding really has to change. As long as we have the Iowa Caucus, she said, no presidential candidate is gonna stick their neck out for truly progressive agricultural policy. Maybe she’s right. I’m not sure what we need. But we can at least take the new, trendy interest in the Farm Bill further than the “Buy this! Buy that! Vote with your dollar!” mantra, and foster some truly innovative, political thought. If people did it in the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ30s, and the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ70s, we can sure as hell do it now.
I think Nestle’s exactly right. And so long as Annie’s looking for a new hero - “with all due respect [to Michael Pollan] we need a new one,” she says - I point back to a hero of mine.
Eric Schlosser closed his keynote speech at last year’s Food, Ethics and the Environment Conference at Princeton with the same optimism expressed in Annie’s last sentence.
But on the way there he made a vitally important point of a kind with both Annie and Nestle’s:
I think that changing the world by what you buy is only going to go so far. And it only works to a point. And after that point I think it is delusion that as consumers we are going to change that system fundamentally or we are going to change the world.
Missing from the discourse, missing from the dialog over the last twenty-five years have been a couple of other phrases. One of them is “corporate responsibility” and the other one is “collective responsibility.” And I stand here honestly saying that I’m not pure, my purchases are not ideal, and maybe some of you in this room are pure but it’s hard to be pure in this country in the year 2006. But ultimately the problems that...I’ve tried to outline are not due to individual faults. They’re really not. They have been caused by big systems. Systems of belief, systems of production, systems of making a profit. And without looking at them from a systemic approach there is no possibility of meaningful change...what we do as consumers isn’t going to make a profound difference. And I think we cannot allow this movement surrounding ethical eating to focus only on our personal responsibility and on consumer power.
Emphasis mine. I’m with Annie! The only way to meaningful change is to take on and fight the system.
Barrow, Marshall and the contempt citations
Back in July, the House Judiciary Committee approved a contempt of Congress citation against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers for their refusal to testify in response to congressional subpoenas over the firings of nine federal prosecutors.
The vote had been scheduled for this week, but then was put off until December. This latest delay, they say, is attributed to strategic timing and not a lack of votes.
So where do our local Bush Dogs stand?
It looks like we might see the reverse of the SCHIP vote with Barrow bucking the leadership this time:
Democrats who have been quietly whipping the bill say they found only one or two vulnerable House Democrats wary of voting for it on the House floor.
One of those is believed to be Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.). But the former law professor said in a brief interview that he just wasn’t familiar with the measure.
“It hasn’t been widely discussed in the meetings I attend,” he said.
Still, Marshall said, he understood the logic of such a measure.
“If it’s appropriate for a witness to testify, and he or she doesn’t testify, then contempt is the remedy that’s available. I don’t know of any other.” [...]
Only one vulnerable Democratic member, Rep. John Barrow (Ga.), openly expressed serious reservations about moving forward with the bill.
“There has been a serious lack of oversight of this administration,” Barrow said. “But at the same time, I don’t think we should be picking fights we can’t win.”
Of the fourteen endangered and centrist Democrats asked about their support for the politically charged provision, Barrow was the only no.
Flyig spaghetti Monster at Academy of Religion confab
A panel on FSM-ism is on the agenda at a gathering of the world’s leading religious scholars in San Diego this weekend:
The title: “Evolutionary Controversy and a Side of Pasta: The Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Subversive Function of Religious Parody.”
“For a lot of people they’re just sort of fun responses to religion, or fun responses to organized religion. But I think it raises real questions about how people approach religion in their lives,” said Samuel Snyder, one of the three Florida graduate students who will give talks at the meeting next Monday along with Alyssa Beall of Syracuse University.
The presenters’ titles seem almost a parody themselves of academic jargon. Snyder will speak about “Holy Pasta and Authentic Sauce: The Flying Spaghetti Monster’s Messy Implications for Theorizing Religion,” while Gavin Van Horn’s presentation is titled “Noodling around with Religion: Carnival Play, Monstrous Humor, and the Noodly Master.”
Using a framework developed by literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin, Van Horn promises in his abstract to explore how, “in a carnivalesque fashion, the Flying Spaghetti Monster elevates the low (the bodily, the material, the inorganic) to bring down the high (the sacred, the religiously dogmatic, the culturally authoritative).”
The authors recognize the topic is a little light by the standards of the American Academy of Religion… But they also insist it’s more than a joke.
Indeed, the tale of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and its followers cuts to the heart of the one of the thorniest questions in religious studies: What defines a religion? Does it require a genuine theological belief? Or simply a set of rituals and a community joining together as a way of signaling their cultural alliances to others?
In short, is an anti-religion like Flying Spaghetti Monsterism actually a religion?
RELATED: The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster website, the American Academy of Religion website and a Nova look at the 2005 Dover, PA battle over teaching evolution in public schools, Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, which follows the federal case that resulted, Kitzmiller v. Dover School District. You can watch the full 2 hour program online. An outstanding documentary, here’s the trailer.
Cornell’s Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States is a terrific reference:
This chart was first published in Peter B. Hirtle, “Recent Changes To The Copyright Law: Copyright Term Extension,” Archival Outlook, January/February 1999. This version is current as of 1 January 2007. The most recent version is found [here].
The chart is based in part on Laura N. Gasaway’s chart, “When Works Pass Into the Public Domain,” [found here], and similar charts found in Marie C. Malaro, A Legal Primer On Managing Museum Collections (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998): 155-156.
See also Library of Congress Copyright Office. Circular 15a, Duration of Copyright: Provisions of the Law Dealing with the Length of Copyright Protection (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 2004) [here].