aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, January 07, 2008
Misogyny and racism in the campaign
Ezra Klein’s pal David Roberts, a staff writer at Grist, sent him this e-mail:
I’ll grant upfront that my thoughts on misogyny and racism in the campaign are somewhat fraught, since as your run-of-the-mill privileged white dude, I hardly have the most direct window into their effects. Nonetheless, I’ll venture an observation: misogyny is a much bigger player in this election than racism.
When Obama and Clinton first started running, I cringed in advance. I expected all sorts of crude race and gender stereotypes to come bubbling up-not only from the right, where you’d expect it, but from the media and even from some quarters of the left.
When it comes to racism, I’ve been somewhat surprised to find that I was wrong. Very little of the narrative around Obama’s run has touched on race; very few of the attacks on him have been coded racism, and those that have-the occasional mention of his drug use, the links to his “madrassa"-have come off as unspeakably crude and sunk like a stone,registering only in the fever swamps. If anything, the perception of Obama as “post-racial” (yes, I know there’s no such thing) has been an asset, almost an insulator. (Expect that to change, obviously, if he makes it to the general. Jonah Goldberg’s “the coloreds will riot!” post of last week is a preview.)
On misogyny, though, I’ve been shocked in the other direction: it’s been more overt, more odious, and more unashamed that I could have predicted. The serial depictions of Clinton in the media (and yes, in blogs and op-eds both right and left) are a veritable hit parade of stereotypes about women: She’s humorless. No, she cackles. She’s a cold robot. No, she’s a hysterical crybaby. She wears ugly pant suits. No, she’s showing too much cleavage. Virgin, whore. Ballbreaker, weakling. Chris Matthews has been the standard-bearer here, but he’s just the leader of an astonishingly large chorus of crude gender resentment-a chorus that lamentably contains quite a few women.
I’m not a Hillary voter, for any number of reasons. I happen to think she’s the wrong candidate for the historical moment. But I’d be crying too if I were her. This stuff is just gross.
REMEMBER TOO: Kathleen Hall Jamieson on the avalanche of misogyny directed at Hillary Clinton.
Hillary’s earned my vote
I didn’t want her to run. And I haven’t expressed an overt preference for a candidate here before. But if you were to read between the lines, go back and take a look at all that I’ve written, you would find very little criticism of Hillary. From that you might glean that I favor her.
I do. And here’s why.
I didn’t call it right on Iraq either. I believed the press consensus on WMD and that Saddam was a real bad guy. And so I bought in.
Very quickly - when Turkey didn’t agree to allow troops to cross its border - I had serious doubts. Still I can forgive those who in good faith voted as they did. To the accusation that she should have known, she had access to all of the information and briefings, I don’t know if that was all the information our hindsight says it was.
But what to do now. Anti-war is a very easy position. Pull out is easier said than done. It’s going to be a dangerous logistical quagmire that will require significant political skill. From here it doesn’t look like we’re nearly so united about how to do that as we like to think polls indicate. So getting out and what to do about Iraq once we are “out” is far from settled.
Then there’s the actual terrorist threat whipped up by Bush (as opposed to the “War on Terror” the man has this country living in paranoid fear of). I favor a police action approach to that fight. But that, too, is so much easier said than done. The impact of all we’ve done so far has been to make the terror situation exponentially worse, so the challenge we face today is that much tougher than the one we missed on September 11, 2001.
What I’ve seen of Hillary in the Senate has demonstrated to me that she has the skills and experience I trust to handle Iraq and the threat posed by al-Qaeda.
I’d favor a single payer plan that cherry-picks the best features of national health care systems around the globe.
That isn’t going to happen.
The entrenched interests are way too powerful. And, as important, a huge segment of the U.S. population is as opposed to a “government run” or “mandated” health plan as I am in favor of a “universal” and “affordable” health care system. We’re going to have to come to compromise. Hillary’s experience there is unmatched. (And I don’t blame her for the press-fed Republican lampooning. I see it as practice.)
These reasons, pragmatic and pessimistic as they may seem to be, match my age. I do want experience.
It became obvious to me on the morning of the Iowa caucuses, when the photos of Hillary in her crowd and Obama in his made clear to me that, at 53, I am of my generation. If I were 20 years younger I’m guessing I’d be championing the politics of hope. While I prefer Hillary I am as impressed as anyone at the hopeful energy of Obama. In that Iowa speech, where he cast himself in the role of President of the United States, I saw that it fit. If he gets the nomination, I will vote for him.
But as things stand now, come February 5, I will be pulling the lever for Hillary.
In Georgia, it looks like property rights may trump gun rights:
Calling it “a core fundamental issue” for his group this year, the head of the National Rifle Association lobbied hard Monday for a bill that would allow employees to keep handguns in their cars at work.
NRA Executive President Wayne LaPierre made a rare appearance under the Gold Dome Monday, a week before the Legislature convenes, to push the bill with key lawmakers.
A frustrated LaPierre said the bill, which was effectively quashed last year by the efforts of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, has made it through other state legislatures unopposed, including Oklahoma and Missouri. [...]
Bob Thorton, a Georgia NRA member who sported a t-shirt with the words, “Wayne Never Asked Me,” said House Bill 89 puts the second and fourth amendments of the Constitution squarely at odds.
“You’ve got the right to bear arms and the right to bear property,” he said. “One is trying to step on the other.”
Political Insider says The Georgia Chemistry Council has declared defeat of the bill a matter of national security:
“The nature of some materials produced in the chemical industry make our workplaces higher-risk targets for potential terrorist attacks,” said council executive vice president Rudy Underwood. “A mandate by state government to force our member companies to relax the necessary security measures adopted by the chemical industry would be counterproductive to ensuring safety and security for our employees, neighbors and essential products.”
Tom Cruise: still not gay
I never thought he was. The trashy Andrew Morton biography would have it if there were even the slightest hint. Instead we get that Cruise is second-in-command at Church of Scientology.
And more trashing of Scientology:
According to Britain’s Daily Mail: “[Morton] quotes Hubbard’s son, Ronald De Wolf, who fell out with his father, giving a Playboy interview: â€˜You have complete control of someone if you have every detail of his sex life and fantasy life on record. In Scientology the focus is on sex. Sex, sex, sex. The first thing we wanted to know about someone we were auditing was his sexual deviations. All you’ve got to do is find a person’s kinks, whatever they might be. Their dreams and their fantasies. Then you can fit a ring through their noses and take them anywhere. You promise to fulfil their fantasies or you threaten to expose them.’ Morton says Karen Pressley was at Gold Base one evening when John Travolta’s sexuality was openly discussed. He writes: â€˜’It made my head spin,’ she recalls, â€˜and made me realise that the idea of confidentiality was a chimera.’ As another Scientology executive admitted bluntly, â€˜These files come in handy if they want to blackmail you’.’”
According to the tabloid, the book makes no claims about the actor’s sexuality.
Cruise’s attorney Bert Fields is threatening legal action based on the reaction of the public.
“Vegangelical” I’d heard before. But where did “Retrovore” come from?
A Texan farmer by the name of Loncito coined this one, according to my fellow Kossack Jill Richardson (aka OrangeClouds115) who was chatting with Loncito and his son at an Austin farmers’ market. As Jill wrote in a dairy on Daily Kos yesterday, the son told his father "Dad, if you didn't raise animals the way you do, I'd probably be a vegan."
Loncito agreed that he probably would be, too. And that, Jill wrote, is when “they came up with the term "retrovore"-"one who eats food that was raised the way it should have been raised… like they used to do it before they learned how to ruin it.”
This word dovetails nicely with Michael Pollan’s edict "Don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food." According to NPR’s Liane Hanson, “2008 will be the year of ethical eating; vegetarian and locally produced food will grace more tables; wines will be more than organic, they’ll be biodynamic; there will be servings of micro-greens you grow yourselfâ€¦” In other words, more of us will be breaking free from the conventional food chain and getting back to the garden. I guess it’s too early to nominate “retrovore” for 2008’s Word of the Year, but I thought I’d give it a running start. Better not look to the vegangelicals to help me spread the grass-fed gospel, though.
Retrovore would get my vote. I’m about to buy my second cow (pictured above). This one I’ve known since it was a young calf; the first one is chronicled here.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Imagining some 21st century ad innovations
If Madison Avenue is sooo 20th century, what might the 21st look like?
Vinton G. Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google, gave a very interesting and wide-ranging talk last September at Dickinson College. His take on the future of television and advertising is particularly interesting.
He suggests that the broadcast and cable guys are so stuck in their business models that they don’t get it. And the IPTV future propounded by the telcos, “frankly, tries to turn the internet into a cable television system.” He imagines a day when you download a full movie in 30 seconds:
[rough transcription begins @49:20] If your downloading streams of packets, they don’t have to be confined to audio and video in this television environment. In fact, let me suggest to you that the term “television” should be reserved for today’s industry, with its business models and everything else. And the term “video” should be reserved for the medium, video, because video on the Internet is not the same as television because the business models don’t have to be the same. I can download packets with audio and video but they could also have text, they could have books, they could have other digitized information, programs, it could be anything.
So imagine you are downloading a movie. Not only are you getting the audio and the video, but you’re getting information about when it was made and who made it and what was the book it was based on and something about the author. Sucking packets off the disk, you have a programable device which is interpreting the packets - it’s not a dumb raster scan thing, it’s actually looking at the data and deciding what to do with it - if some of that information is advertising information you don’t have to confine yourself to the old television advertising model which is: interrupt the program just at the most crucial part and make sure they hang around watching the commercial before you get back to the who shot John? Instead, you can use the model that Google has so successfully monetized, allowing the customer to be in total control of what advertisements they watch or if they watch them at all.
Imagine downloaded information about some of the things that you see in the movie. You’ve heard of the term product placement where people pay money to put the Macintosh with the logo prominently in the middle of the screen or the car comes up so you can see the grill of the Cadillac. Those are all attempts to monetize product placement. But now imagine that you have a movie playing. It’s being played through your laptop or you have a computer controlled device and you can mouse around on the screen and click on things in the field of view. If the information that was downloaded about that product has activated that objectâ€¦ a window can pop up and tell you something about that product. And if you happen to be online at the timeâ€¦ you can pull back fresh information about the product, who buys it, where is it available and so on.
Suddenly the consumer is in charge of the advertising experience, not the advertiser and not the party delivering the content. This is such a diversion away from the classical business model that it’s very, very hard for some companies to completely understand that they could exercise very, very different mechanisms to monetize the entertainment.
He qualifies that this is no Google plan. He’s just imaging how an alternative way of treating video could be quite different from a user point of view. But it’s an imagined future I could like much better than my cable bill that comes with commercial interruption and irrelevant clutter.