aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, December 14, 2007
A 9-year-old’s view of the $100 laptop
A BBC reporter tells the tale of bringing his son, Rufus, an XO from One Laptop per Child:
Rufus is using his laptop to write, paint, make music, explore the internet, and talk to children from other countries.
Because it looks rather like a simple plastic toy, I had thought it might suffer the same fate as the radio-controlled dinosaur or the roller-skates he got last Christmas - enjoyed for a day or two, then ignored.
Instead, it seems to provide enduring fascination.
The XO is a magnificent marvel of engineering. It is pretty much everything Nicholas Negroponte set out for it to be.
Here (and in video above) David Pogue sings its praises. Here a must-see story from the week before last from 60 Minutes. And here the Wall Street Journal’s Steve Stecklow says competition from companies like Intel and Microsoft may one day achieve Negroponte’s larger goal, even as they have hurt the XO’s chances of success:
BOB GARFIELD: So let me ask you this, Steve. Negroponte’s goal was to make laptops available to the poorest schoolchildren in the most disadvantaged countries of the world.
But if it turns out that private corporations see those places as potentially lucrative marketplaces and themselves find a way to get their laptops and software into the hands of the poorest schoolchildren in the most disadvantaged countries of the world, does it really matter whether Negroponte’s laptop project itself succeeds? Hasn’t he still achieved his goal?
STEVE STECKLOW: Well, I would say yes. When I interviewed him and asked him this very question, he did say he would consider it a success if something like 150 million schoolchildren in 2008 receive Intel Classmates and not his machine.
But the fact is, is Intel and Microsoft both told me that they look at a 15-year timeframe, so it’s going to take a lot longer.
And I think he should consider it a success, but if you spent more than two years developing a unique machine from scratch and actually built the thing, which has gotten rave reviews, you would hope that it would become much more than just a niche player in this market.
So I sense definite disappointment. I think the guy deserves a lot of credit for making this happen, because, in fact, it is beginning to happen.
To me it’s a demonstration of entrenched market forces acting to slow innovation and harm a global public good. The XO is a
significant remarkable technological achievement done wholly outside of the market. Negroponte’s efforts attracted those companies in and the impact of their entry is that they will delay the effort to get computers into the hands of the world’s needy children.
Negroponte was exactly right when he said in a recent lecture at MIT that Intel is going to the same governments he’s trying to sell and dumping below cost computers to kill the XO, “Intel should be ashamed of itself. It’s just shameless.”
I have two weeks and 4 days until my blog hosting expires. In October I contracted with E.Webscapes to do the move and, with it, some design work. Everything seemed to be on schedule until recently. It’s three weeks now since I’ve heard from them and so I’ve begun to worry!
It was with my design in mind that I took special note of Poytner’s redesign effort. They have set up Poynterevolution blog to inform readers about the process and gather feedback:
I hope you’ll help us with a fundamental challenge we’re facing in building the new site: the best way of highlighting new content as it’s posted throughout the day. A new edition of Al’s Morning Meeting is posted just after midnight, Jim Romenesko begins updating his page shortly after 7 a.m., and new content from elsewhere on the site is linked from the New on Poynter stack in the right rail. But there’s no easy way to track everything added to the site as the day unfolds.
My design challenge variant on that theme is that my site is such a hodgepodge of stuff that it may be an obstacle to growing readership. If you read me for my gay perspective, for example, there’s too much tech talk. And if you read me for tech insights, you may be bugged by the politics.
Then again, that’s the nature of the individual blog. And much as I may crave readership, a large audience is not the driving force of my blogging. So for the moment I’m not sure how I might handle that challenge, or whether to address it at all.
Meanwhile, Poynter’s challenge is hardly unique among large sites, and the other day Jeff Jarvis pointed to a solution that may just be an emerging trend:
We’ve heard news sites preach the gospel of making “every page a home page” since readers more and more are coming into content directly from search and links and not from a packaged home page. This presents the challenge of how to promote and lure readers to more content.
Well, Aftonbladet [link] seems to have taken the every-page-a-home-page strategy quite literally: As I clicked around from story to story, the bottom half of each page was filled with the content from the home page. The home page followed me around, trying to tempt me to try something else they’d packaged and recommended.
How that might work for me is that my content areas could follow individual stories, e.g. if you are reading a gay story, the gay content flows to you. It you’re reading a tech story, the tech content flows to you.
E.Webscapes, are you listening??? If not, I may be spending the holidays rebuilding this site on my own!!!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Journalist Priests: on David Hazinski’s risky vision
Journalists have built themselves a pretty exalted temple way up high on a hill. David Hazinski wants to keep it up there:
Supporters of “citizen journalism” argue it provides independent, accurate, reliable information that the traditional media don’t provide. While it has its place, the reality is it really isn’t journalism at all, and it opens up information flow to the strong probability of fraud and abuse. The news industry should find some way to monitor and regulate this new trend.
The premise of citizen journalism is that regular people can now collect information and pictures with video cameras and cellphones, and distribute words and images over the Internet. Advocates argue that the acts of collecting and distributing makes these people “journalists.” This is like saying someone who carries a scalpel is a “citizen surgeon” or someone who can read a law book is a “citizen lawyer.” Tools are merely that. Education, skill and standards are really what make people into trusted professionals. Information without journalistic standards is called gossip.
We citizens may only worship in the temple and genuflect at the altar of journalism. We dare not be full participants. Real, professional, journalism requires that journalists be drained of all ideological energy. Thus, the highly engaging and invigorating ways of the blogosphere must be monitored and regulated.
But the highly paid professional, credentialed journalist is out of touch with - and has a vastly different value system than - those who journalism is meant to serve. Where once salaries were in line with public school teachers and the working class; today celebrity journalists are the de facto ruling elite.
And from that perch they insist the journalistic product must be reduced to the boring and technical “balance” of “both sides” of every story (as if there ever were only two). Partisan vigor may only be expressed in the cable TV colosseum point/counterpoint of the pundit gladiators.
In the end Hazinski is like those who want linguists to regulate language. Bemoaning its latest twist and turns and appalled, for example, that the populace has moved the meaning of “gay” from “jovial” to “homosexual” to “stupid” they wish to command that its meaning be turned back to the earlier, idealized, “lighthearted, cheerful.”
Would that it could be, I might worry. As it is I’ll note that the blogosphere is not the cause of the erosion of traditional journalism’s trust and credibility. Rather, it’s a healthy reaction to it.
Huckabee’s rise: God did it
Here’s an incredible video with Mike Huckabee saying that divine providence is responsible for his jump in the polls. I half thought it was a parody mashup (the video was put online not by Huckabee’s campaign). But, no, here’s a report from the Liberty paper confirming it. He’s addressing a convocation at conservative Bible school Liberty University and is asked why he’s rising in the polls, heavenward. His answer:
“There’s only one explanation for it and it’s not a human one. The same power that helped a little boy with two loaves and five fish feed a crowd of 5,000 people and that’s the only way that our campaign could be doing what it’s doing. And I’m not being facetious nor am I trying to be trite. There are literally thousands of people across this country who are praying
that a little will become much and it has, it defies all explanation. It has confounded the pundits and I’m enjoying every minute of their trying to figure it out. And until they look at it from a just experience beyond human they’ll never figure it out. And that’s probably just as well. That’s honestly why it’s happening.” [...]
Apple TV Apple flop?
Over the past few months, a variety of reports have speculated about the future of the Apple TV. Some have flat-out asked if the device “will die,” and although I can’t be sure of that answer, I still like to believe that Apple wants to make it the cornerstone of any home theater. So if you’re asking me to answer that question, I’d say, “Not yet.”
Regardless of my own stance, there are still a host of issues surrounding the Apple TV. First off, it is estimated to have sold just 400,000 units, according to Forrester Research, which is an astounding 600,000 units shy of what the research firm originally believed Apple would have sold by now.
To make matters worse, Apple has yet to provide a decent array of videos on its iTunes store. And ever since Steve Jobs called the Apple TV a “hobby,” some have wondered how dedicated the company really is to seeing this product succeed.
He has three suggestions: Step 1: Allow users to do more; Step 2: Start working with movie studios for a change; and Step 3: Apple must pretend like it cares.
I almost bought one. Fix it and I will.
Slate (the ad is an annoyance not worth waiting through):
Equally dramatic, in a high-tech way, are the parking towers at Autostadt, Volkswagen’s exhibition complex and automotive theme park in Wolfsburg, Germany. This parking garage is entirely robotic. Two 160-foot circular towers store 400 new cars on 20 levels, serviced by a central elevator that can retrieve a car in 30 seconds. While the Volkswagen silos, designed by GÃƒÂ¼nther Henn Architekten, are in large part a marketing device-the transparent towers function as giant billboards-automated parking in some form is clearly in the cards. Stacking cars in close-packed racks can be up to 50 percent more efficient than a conventional garage, but since it is currently more than twice as expensive, it is viable only in cities where land prices-or space-are truly at a premium.
LATER: man rescued from a car hanging from wires between the sixth and seventh floors of a parking garage in Atlanta.
The the ex-husband of Tina Turner has died. They were a staple of the outdoor concert scene of my youth.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
danah boyd on Beacon
She sees the opt-our requirement of Facebook’s new ad approach as a dangerous precedent:
For all of the repentance by Facebook, what really bugs me is that this is the third time that Facebook has violated people’s sense of privacy in a problematic way. I documented the first incident - the introduction of the News Feeds - in an essay called “Facebook’s Privacy Trainwreck.” In this incident, there were no privacy adjustments until public outcry. The second incident went primarily unnoticed. Back in September, Facebook quietly began making public search listings available to search engines. This means that users’ primary photos are cached alongside their name and networks on Google. Once again, it was an opt-out structure, although finding the opt-out is tricky. Under privacy settings, under search, there is a question of “Which Facebook users can find me in search?” If you choose “everyone,” that includes search engines, not just Facebook users. The third incident is Beacon.
In each incident, Facebook pushed the boundaries of privacy a bit further and, when public outcry took place, retreated just a wee bit to make people feel more comfortable. In other words, this is “slippery slope” software development. Given what I’ve learned from interviewing teens and college students over the years, they have *no* idea that these changes are taking place (until an incident occurs). Most don’t even realize that adding the geographic network makes them visible to thousands if not millions. They don’t know how to navigate the privacy settings and they don’t understand the implications. In other words, defaults are EVERYTHING.
Like most companies, Facebook probably chose the “opt-out” path instead of the “opt-in” path because they knew that most users would not opt in. Even if they thought the feature was purrrfect, most wouldn’t opt-in because they would never know of the feature. Who reads the fine print of a website notice? This is exactly why opt-out approaches are dangerous. People don’t know what they’ve by default opted-in to. They trust companies and once they trust those companies, they are at their mercy.
* At the end of last year, 1 of every 31 adults in the United States was in prison, in jail or on supervised release.
* An estimated 2.38 million people were incarcerated in state and federal facilities, an increase of 2.8 percent over 2005.
* Of that 2.38 million, 38% are Black.
* Of that 2.38 million, a bit under 5% are women. “The female jail and prison population has grown at double the rate for men since 1980; in 2006 it increased 4.5 percent, its fastest clip in five years.”
* About 15,000 people were held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities, an increase of 43 percent over last year.
* “In several states, incarceration rates for blacks were more than 10 times the rate of whites. In Iowa, for example, blacks were imprisoned at 13.6 times the rate of whites, according to an analysis of the data by the Sentencing Project.”
* “Still, many prison systems are accommodating record numbers of inmates by using facilities that were never meant to provide bed space. Arizona has for years held inmates in tent encampments on prison grounds. Hundreds of California prisoners sleep in three-tier bunk beds in gymnasiums or day rooms. Prisons throughout the nation have made meeting rooms for educational and treatment programs into cell space.”
Oprah: how transcendent is she?
The weekend buzz was that Oprah transcends race, transcends celebrity and transcends politics.
Oprah Winfrey’s campaign swing last weekend with Democrat Barack Obama was greeted with record-breaking crowds and an equal amount of speculation over how much impact the media mogul might have on the White House race.
After all, Oprah has sent several books to the top of the bestseller list. Why couldn’t that magic touch take a candidate to the top of the polls?
But a new survey out Monday night shows Winfrey’s endorsement is unlikely to nudge Obama higher in the polls—and could potentially hurt the Illinois senator.
According a New York Times/CBS News poll released Monday, only 1 percent of Democrats polled reported that Winfrey’s endorsement would make them more likely to support Obama, while 14 percent said they would be less likely to vote for the candidate because of Winfrey’s support.
Emphasis is Joe Gandelman’s.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
A more careful Andrew Young
Hopefully, this will be my last Young post for a while. He was on WAOK (1380 AM) this afternoon. Political Insider provides the quotes:
Young said this:
“I say to [Obama], run as well as you can, and I will give him as much money as I can, but I had been committed to Hillary Clinton - in fact, I knew Hillary Clinton before I knew Bill Clinton. She and my wife worked together on the Children’s Defense Fund. She was down in Mississippi in the ‘70s and early ‘80s.”
And he said this:
“The thing about Southern governors, and the thing about Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton - they have grown up basically in the black community.”
Wynter compared the experience that Bill Clinton had in ‘92, and the experience that Obama has now. “Why does he have to wait?” he asked.
“He doesn’t have to wait. He’s not waiting. You’re trying to make me argue against Barack,” Young said. “I’m supporting Hillary, because right now, before you can do anything, the economy has got to be straightened out. Now, Bill and Hillary helped to straighten out the economy after [Ronald] Reagan left us in deep debt.
“Hillary and Bill together - and basically, they have been a team, as Jimmy Carter and Rosalyn were a team, as Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were a team. Democrats have tended to marry smart women, and their women have helped them in decision-making.”
Said Wynter: “Republicans marry good women, too.”
Young: “No, no.Ã¢â‚¬Â�
Wynter: “The ones that like women.Ã¢â‚¬Â�
But Young ignored the joke - an unsuccessful attempt at humor, on camera, is what got him in trouble over the weekend.
“No, I’m simply saying that I made a choice a long time ago, that I wanted Hillary Clinton to be the president,” Young said. “I made that choice before she said she was going to run. Charlie Rangel and I have been good friends. Charlie Rangel was the one who encouraged her to come up to New York to run for the Senate.
“She’s the only one right now that I don’t think Republicans could beat.”
Virtual-Reality Based Immersive Education
The Chronicle on funding for a Project to Build Virtual Learning Platform Within Popular Online Worlds:
Virtual-reality software that researchers are developing exclusively for educational uses will be supported by funds from the Federation of American Scientists and the Kauffman Foundation, a group that promotes entrepreneurship, a Boston College instructor announced at a gathering on Saturday at Harvard University.
The instructor, Aaron E. Walsh, is leading the ambitious multimillion-dollar project to build a virtual-reality platform within commercial and nonprofit online games and other fantasy spaces. His goal is to promote online learning through interactive, three-dimensional graphics, Internet-based telephony, Web cameras, and other digital media.
The platform standards and best practices are being developed by an international consortium of colleges, research institutes, and companies that want to use virtuality for instruction, research, and training. [...]
The project builds on Mr. Walsh’s experience teaching Boston College students online in virtual spaces for three years… Mr. Walsh introduced the audience to the digital alter egos, or avatars, of some of his students as they traveled inside a three-dimensional model of an Egyptian tomb. An avatar of one student, standing in front of a digital jackal, explained that to ancient Egyptians the animal helped transport dead bodies to the underworld. The students have learned about some archaeological sites and tombs of Egypt through three-dimensional models developed by the Theban Mapping Project, based at the American University in Cairo. [...]
Also at the conference, Gene Koo, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, talked about how students at Emerson College and Boston residents were using Second Life to foster civic engagement. They’re using the virtual world to design real public spaces, including a park that will be located near Harvard’s campus expansion project in the Allston neighborhood and adjacent residential areas. And they recreated Boston’s subway system to provide tours of the city’s neighborhoods. The Boston Island in Second Life will be formally presented to the city’s mayor at an event Thursday.
Jeff Orkin, a researcher at the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, discussed an online game he created called the Restaurant Game. It seeks to mimic the experience of being in a real restaurant as either a waiter or a patron. Mr. Orkin collects and organizes huge amounts of data about people’s experiences in the game to develop automated responses to players’ remarks or questions. Mr. Orkin said that Immersive Education could help similar efforts that combine artificial intelligence and virtuality.
Netscape on Firebrand
This one I watched twice…
Sex offender residency restrictions rise again in Georgia
The Daily Report tells us that Georgia will try again to ban where sex offenders may live. You will recall that the state’s Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the strict residency requirements approved by state lawmakers two years ago:
Under the new bill being pushed by House Republicans, a sex offender who owns his or her home would no longer have to vacate it if a center where children gather later opens up in the neighborhood. The bill would carve out a similar exception for sex offenders who have established employment, allowing them to keep their job if they had it first. [...]
The residency portion of the new bill would apply only to homeowners. Renters would still have to relocate if a childcare center, church or school moves into the neighborhood after they do.
House Republicans said they took their direction from the court’s own ruling, which hinged on home ownership. The court said that to force a homeowner to abandon his property or be in violation of the law amounts to an illegal taking of property.
Via Maggie at Of Counsel:
Also, for the die-hard-residency-restriction types, how does this help anything? It’s creating situations where sex offenders will be close to schools or day cares or playgrounds or all those other things they want to keep them away from. It seems to me like a rather large compromise. If they don’t mind letting some of them do it, why are we bothering?
The biggest problem remains the one-size-fits-all approach. The danger of someone who’s committed a misdemeanor sexual battery against another person ever hurting a child is slim to none. People who committed statutory rape twenty years ago? Pretty low. And yet we continue to treat all sex offenders like pedophiles. Worse, I don’t know of any treatment regimes in place to try and better assist or monitor those who may be at risk of re-offending. It seems like a lose-lose situation, and it continues to create mountains of work for local law enforcement and probation officers, which means it’s costing the state more money to do something that seems to have little value and risks losing track of offenders all together.
RELATED: Sex offender residency restrictions DO NOT WORK.
Gladwell takes on the I.Q. fundamentalists
In What I.Q. doesn’t tell you about race Malcolm Gladwell looks at the work of James Flynn, a social scientist at the University of Otago in New Zealand to convincingly refute the arguments of the “I.Q. fundamentalists.”
To the I.Q. fundamentalist, two things are beyond dispute: first, that I.Q. tests measure some hard and identifiable trait that predicts the quality of our thinking; and, second, that this trait is stableâ€”that is, it is determined by our genes and largely impervious to environmental influences.
Not so says Flynn:
The best way to understand why I.Q.s rise, Flynn argues, is to look at one of the most widely used I.Q. tests, the so-called WISC (for Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children). The WISC is composed of ten subtests, each of which measures a different aspect of I.Q. Flynn points out that scores in some of the categories-those measuring general knowledge, say, or vocabulary or the ability to do basic arithmetic-have risen only modestly over time. The big gains on the WISC are largely in the category known as “similarities,” where you get questions such as “In what way are â€˜dogs’ and â€˜rabbits’ alike?” Today, we tend to give what, for the purposes of I.Q. tests, is the right answer: dogs and rabbits are both mammals. A nineteenth-century American would have said that “you use dogs to hunt rabbits.” [...]
The psychologist Michael Cole and some colleagues once gave members of the Kpelle tribe, in Liberia, a version of the WISC similarities test: they took a basket of food, tools, containers, and clothing and asked the tribesmen to sort them into appropriate categories. To the frustration of the researchers, the Kpelle chose functional pairings. They put a potato and a knife together because a knife is used to cut a potato. “A wise man could only do such-and-such,” they explained. Finally, the researchers asked, “How would a fool do it?” The tribesmen immediately re-sorted the items into the “right” categories. It can be argued that taxonomical categories are a developmental improvementâ€”that is, that the Kpelle would be more likely to advance, technologically and scientifically, if they started to see the world that way. But to label them less intelligent than Westerners, on the basis of their performance on that test, is merely to state that they have different cognitive preferences and habits. And if I.Q. varies with habits of mind, which can be adopted or discarded in a generation, what, exactly, is all the fuss about?
Flynn then talked about what we’ve learned from studies of adoption and mixed-race children - and that evidence didn’t fit a genetic model, either. If I.Q. is innate, it shouldn’t make a difference whether it’s a mixed-race child’s mother or father who is black. But it does: children with a white mother and a black father have an eight-point I.Q. advantage over those with a black mother and a white father. And it shouldn’t make much of a difference where a mixed-race child is born. But, again, it does: the children fathered by black American G.I.s in postwar Germany and brought up by their German mothers have the same I.Q.s as the children of white American G.I.s and German mothers.
The difference, in that case, was not the fact of the children’s blackness, as a fundamentalist would say. It was the fact of their Germanness - of their being brought up in a different culture, under different circumstances. “The mind is much more like a muscle than we’ve ever realized,” Flynn said. “It needs to get cognitive exercise. It’s not some piece of clay on which you put an indelible mark.” The lesson to be drawn from black and white differences was the same as the lesson from the Netherlands years ago: I.Q. measures not just the quality of a person’s mind but the quality of the world that person lives in.
The hereditarians begin with the assertion that 60 percent to 80 percent of variation in I.Q. is genetically determined. However, most estimates of heritability have been based almost exclusively on studies of middle-class groups. For the poor, a group that includes a substantial proportion of minorities, heritability of I.Q. is very low, in the range of 10 percent to 20 percent, according to recent research by Eric Turkheimer at the University of Virginia. This means that for the poor, improvements in environment have great potential to bring about increases in I.Q.
Comments Gladwell: “It’s very persuasive. And it would be interesting to see what, if anything, die-hard hereditarians like Charles Murray have to say in response.”
I’ll be watching for that response too.
TiVo found it for us on the ION Network (11PM ET to midnight, Monday through Friday), and we found it strangely addictive. We immediately went to the website, and watched the two, TiVo and web, simultaneously.
Saying that it’s dedicated to “commercial culture,” Firebrand curates the site to include only what it considers to be the best video advertisements from around the world. You can peruse a host of ads from big-brand names like Nike, Apple and Volkswagen. Or you can watch Firebrand Live, which is a lot like MTV circa 1983. A window pops up to give you the commercial credits, and “commercial jockeys” or “CJs” walk you through the programming. This being the web, the host is, of course, a hot woman wearing a cleavage-revealing top. [...]
Firebrand is privately funded by NBC Universal (GE), Microsoft (MSFT) and GE’s Peacock Equity Fund. It makes money by charging advertisers to be on the site. [And they sell ads on this all ad channel!] But the company is quick to point out that it does not just accept any ad offered.
Much as I enjoyed the channel and found it addictive, I won’t likely be tuning in. Rather, when I hear about or want to go looking for a commercial or product, I’ll head there.
When I was a child every mother collected S&H Greenstamps, and spent an inordinate amount of time sticking those stamps in books. Imagine a digital variation. The more commercials we watch the more digital stamps we collect.
The kind and number of “stamps” offered could be targeted by age, geography and a host of other demographic data. Instead of sticking them in books we could have an ad infested webquest game.
Ads as fun; ads we want; winners all around.
RELATED: Read/WriteWeb, Commercials As Content - 7 Places to Watch Ads On Purpose.
Monday, December 10, 2007
NYTimes.com traffic skyrockets after paywall drops
Ever since the NYTimes.com swept away the last remaining boulders of its subscription pay wall (aka Times Select) in mid-September, its traffic has been going through the roof. According to comScore, it gained 7.5 million readers worldwide from the end of August through the end of October (November numbers are not out yet). That is a 64 percent jump (to a total of 19.4 million). Similarly worldwide monthly pageviews surged 52 percent in that time period to 181 million. [...]
To put this in perspective, in the month of October alone, the New York Times added 4.9 million readers on the Web. That is more than double the total readership of CNet’s News.com of 2 million, which sadly seems to be one of the few media sites declining in visitors (from 2.5 million in August).
Via Cory Bergman.
Young: “I don’t really think about words”
Political Insider has the story on how Andy Young’s comments on Obama came to light. They were recorded on Sept. 5, but only “took the Internet by storm” over the weekend.
I was taken by his recollections of Martin Luther King, knowing he was there with King on that fatal day in 1968 in Memphis, knowing he was in Selma when the police turned the dogs and fire hoses on women and children, knowing what he’d seen and been through and fought for.
Earlier in the talk he said that he could get “most anything” through the UN without a Chinese veto because he brought them up to his “house” on the 42nd floor Waldorf Astoria for his mother-in-law’s real southern cooking. And that the Palestinians and Moshe Dyan wanted him to broker piece in the Middle East.
He was clearly enjoying telling his tales, and I enjoyed listening…
“I don’t really think about words. Now Martin was an orator. Martin Luther King thought about words. He was an English major at Morehouse. He had memorized long passages of Shakespeare and W.H. Auden and all the poets. Knew the Bible. Almost had a photographic memory. So for him, the oratory was important. I just never was into it that much.
“I started out very early figuring that I had to say what was in my heart. And I didn’t really worry about how it came out. That’s the reason I get in trouble every now and then. That quite often people will misunderstand or misinterpret what’s in my heart. Because I don’t censor myself.”
His words were a blip in the weekend’s political news, drowned out by The OPRAH WINFREY Show.
Bill Clinton - who really might have been a better president had he waited 8 years - was asked about Young’s comments on The Early Show this morning. Now Bill Clinton, there’s a man with a gift for words:
Mr. Clinton chuckled [said] he and young had “been friends a long time, and you know, my (current) office (being) in Harlem, I’ve always been close to the African-American community. I think we’re trying to build an America where we’re all pulling in the same direction. And you know, Hillary and I have been working on a lot of these issues together that are very important to African-Americans now.”
Later, the former president added, “I think that there are a lot of people across the color line now that want to give all our children a chance and all our people a chance, and that’s the kind of America we’ve got to build.”
Gang-Rape Cover-Up in Iraq. By U.S., Halliburton/KBR
To the sexual atrocities in Iran, Dubai and Saudi Arabia, now we add Iraq. But this time the alleged victim was an American citizen attacked by her contractor coworkers:
A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident. [...]
In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, [22-year-old Jamie Leigh] Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave.
“It felt like prison,” says Jones, who told her story to ABC News as part of an upcoming “20/20” investigation. “I was upset; I was curled up in a ball on the bed; I just could not believe what had happened.”
Finally, Jones says, she convinced a sympathetic guard to loan her a cell phone so she could call her father in Texas.
“I said, ‘Dad, I’ve been raped. I don’t know what to do. I’m in this container, and I’m not able to leave,’” she said. Her father called their congressman, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas.
“We contacted the State Department first,” Poe told ABCNews.com, “and told them of the urgency of rescuing an American citizen”—from her American employer.
Poe says his office contacted the State Department, which quickly dispatched agents from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to Jones’ camp, where they rescued her from the container.
She says an examination by Army doctors showed she had been raped but the rape kit used disappeared after it was handed over to KBR. The perpetrators are unlikely to be brought to justice because contractors in Iraq are beyond the reach of United States law.
Her only recourse is civil court. Except that:
KBR has moved for Jones’ claim to be heard in private arbitration, instead of a public courtroom. It says her employment contract requires it.
In arbitration, there is no public record nor transcript of the proceedings, meaning that Jones’ claims would not be heard before a judge and jury. Rather, a private arbitrator would decide Jones’ case. In recent testimony before Congress, employment lawyer Cathy Ventrell-Monsees said that Halliburton won more than 80 percent of arbitration proceedings brought against it.
It looks like her only real recourse is a media-induced public outcry.
LATER - The blogosphere is doing its part: John Aravosis, Atrios, Steve Benen, Lindsay Beyerstein, Crooks and Liars, Digby, Miss Laura @ DailyKos, Amanda Marcotte, Open Left, Siva Vaidhyanathan, Pam Spaulding, Michael J.W. Stickings, and Wonkette. To name just a few.
Quitting Facebook: the evil way
Apparently you can deactivate a Facebook account, but not delete it. Free Infidel:
Many of us, who value our privacy, think this is disgraceful and arrogant. Facebook seems to think it owns us. But why worry? Just make sure all the information they have about you is false. [...]
First, a little more about this business of deactivating an account. If you choose this option, Facebook tells you that you can reactivate at any time simply by logging back in. There is no simple option to have them erase all your details from their databases permanently. Steven Mansour, in his post 2504 Steps to closing your Facebook account, did seem to get them to do this, though it took a lot of effort and meant emailing Facebook directly. But note how Facebook’s final message simply said “We have processed your request” without actually saying - unambiguously and in writing - that the account and all the information that once resided in it had been fully erased. And how would you check?
And so he says we should spend about six months gradually changing our links, our friends, our politics, and our profile. We should also install apps we find annoying and write nonsense on our walls. Finally, change our name:
This is a little trickier as Facebook insists on ‘verifying’ the change. Or so it says. I requested a change of name to something that is, frankly, rather unlikely. A couple of days later, the change was made with no further enquiry from Facebook. So far, only one of my friends has noticed that I’ve changed my name and moved to another continent. That said, searching Facebook for my real name still turns up my profile, albeit with the new name. So the account is obviously associated with both names.
Even after all that, your original information may not be gone forever. “Even though you’ve replaced it, it may be somewhere in Facebook’s databases.”
But what if they catch you? Jack, in comments:
I did exactly what you suggested here in September. I tried filling my Facebook account with meaningless and false data, because I knew there was no way to delete the account.
Sadly (and evil) here is what Facebook did. They “deactivated” my account, because they said that I added people who I did not really know.
I wrote to them to ask them to please reactivate the account, but they said no. My reply after that never got another response from them. [...]
Long story shortÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ all my personal real data is still in FacebookÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ and they refuse to erase or delete it.
“shouldn’t you also be tainting your Yahoo, Myspace, Orkut, Flickr, Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku, Upcoming, Dopplr, Blogger, etc etc accounts as well?”
And Arik comes closest to what would be my chosen Facebook solution:
You want a facebook account. You want some true but random noise around you. You don’t want to disappear or be fake, because everyone else has that same amount of noise about them. Since anonymity is no longer an option, you want to be part of the noise and be as similar to others as you can, never sticking out.
Obama and Oprah
I’m assuming Halperin is standing by his Why Oprah Won’t Help Obama argument:
Winfrey’s endorsement - and her announcement that she will appear with Obama at campaign events in Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire on December 8 and 9 - helps bring the following four things to Obama: campaign cash, celebrity, excitement and big crowds.
The four things that Obama has on his own in great abundance - without Winfrey’s help - are campaign cash, celebrity, excitement and big crowds.
In polls and focus groups, voters continue to express doubts about Obama’s readiness for the presidency, particularly when compared with Clinton. Some analysts have taken to saying that “experience” is a threshold question - that Obama does not need to be seen as more ready than Clinton, just ready enough to do the job. That might be true (or it might not), but the evidence suggests that many voters still have reservations about the Illinois Senator. And the Clinton campaign plainly intends to do what it can to undermine her rival on this very point between now and January.
So yes, expect loud, rousing rallies in all three early voting states when Oprah Winfrey comes to town with her friend Barack Obama in early December, with gobs of media attention, raucous crowds, emotion and great pictures. But don’t expect those events to do anything productive to allow Obama to get over the biggest hurdle standing between him and the White House. American voters are not looking for a celebrity or talk show sidekick to lead them. Obama is an intelligent and thoughtful potential President, but Winfrey’s imprimatur is unlikely to convey those traits to many undecided voters.
In that respect, Winfrey’s events might even be - dare it be said - counterproductive.
More discussion of this from Halperin in this podcast of a speech he gave at the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs on September 18, 2007.
Meanwhile, MyFox Atlanta says, “Obama has outdistanced all candidates, both Democrat and Republican, in fundraising in Georgia. Obama has raked in more than a million dollars in the state.”
LATER - Here’s Oprah in IOWA:
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Souring on Barrow
Maybe I’ve been living here too long. Defending Andrew Young, twice (contradicting my own first instincts in the process!), and standing by Jim Marshall and John Barrow no matter what they say or do because I believe they’re the best we’re going to elect around here.
That’s fundamentally depressing.
All the more so this weekend, with Amy Morton pointing to reported Barrow quotes in opposition to any form of federal aid for undocumented workers including emergency medical care and public school education for their children.
[D]oes he not understand that failure to educate children-regardless of how they came to be here-creates a public safety problem for all of us? It is not as if we can pretend that these children are not here, so if they’re not in school, what does Barrow think they’ll be doing with their time? If they grow up unhealthy and illiterate, what impact does he think that will have on the quality of life in our communities?
Given that children who do not complete high school are incarcerated at a higher rate than others, unless Barrow also proposes that we withhold from the children of undocumented workers the privilege of appearing in juvenile court and becoming residents of the nearest jail, all he’s doing is asking taxpayers to spend the most money possible in the least effective manner. That makes zero sense.
Well, I do totally agree. Now what?
CA diocese votes to leave Episcopal Church
The Diocese of San Joaquin voted on Saturday to cut ties with the Episcopal Church, the first time in the church’s history a diocese has done so over theological issues and the biggest leap so far by dissident Episcopalians hoping to form a rival national church in the United States.
Fissures have moved through the Episcopal Church, the American arm of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which has 77 million members, and through the Communion itself since the church ordained V. Gene Robinson, a gay man in a long-term relationship, as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.
Traditionalists at home and abroad assert that the Bible describes homosexuality as an abomination, and they consider the Episcopal Church’s ordination of Bishop Robinson as the latest and most galling proof of its rejection of biblical authority.
In the last four years, the Anglican Communion, the world’s third-largest Christian body, has edged closer to fracture over the issue. In the United States, several dozen individual congregations out of nearly 7,700 have split with the Episcopal Church. But Saturday’s vote was the first time an entire diocese has chosen to secede.
AP (& me) on Andrew Young saying Barack’s too young
Civil rights icon Andrew Young says Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is too young and lacks the support network to ascend to the White House.
In a media interview posted online, Young also quipped that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has her husband behind her, and that “Bill is every bit as black as Barack.”
“He’s probably gone with more black women than Barack,” Young said of former President Clinton, drawing laughter from a live television audience. Young, 75, was quick to follow his comment on Bill Clinton with the disclaimer, “I’m clowning.”
As I read more I must amend it. I’m not in agreement with most of Don Surber’s post but he does point out the salient fact that Obama’s “a year older than Clinton was when he ran in 1991.” (Though Clinton certainly bungled the beginning, at the very least, of his administration.)
And Kevin Hayden, “Obama would take office at the age of 47. Teddy Roosevelt, JFK, Ulysses Grant and Grover Cleveland were the same age or younger. And Bill Clinton was a whole year younger.” (Then, those were somewhat simpler times.)
I don’t see Young’s words helping Clinton; I still see some essential truths in the whole answer, and I don’t see him as saying “that if you weren’t a 60s agitator, you can’t qualify for squat.”
Andrew Young’s gone off before. Remember WalMart? But I’m inclined to think there’s wisdom there, too, in that old guy.
LATER: The emerging blogosphere consensus is that Young’s an idiot for the comments as quoted by AP. I’m doubtful most have watched the video, not that it would change minds. But one of the things I found most affecting in his comments was his recollections of Matin Luther King. Those memories and experiences certainly impact his words.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Watch through to the end…