Bigotry vs. the Net

A Mississippi school has canceled Senior Prom because a highly photogenic lesbian student asked to bring her girlfriend as her date.  In the now long dead past the student would be at best utterly ostracized by her peers for being the cause of the cancellation of their prom and at worst be the target of some gay-hate beatings.  Or worse.

But the squeaky wheel posts to Facebook and things get around and now there are 1661 news stories, from the BBC to the Daily Telegraph to CBC in Canada to CNN, carrying her story and her plight.  She went on the Today show this morning.  The ACLU has filed suit.  The world now knows that some redneck, bigoted, small-minded, Bible-thumping hicks in the Deep South are so deeply terrified of one girl that they would rather cancel a dance and force everyone to stay home than face that one student might be different then the rest.

She’s cute, she’s erudite… and she’s gay.

This is the new fight for LGBT rights.  Ostracized? Online.  Target of gay hate?  Online.  If all the gay people came Out, stood up, and said, I don’t care about your selective quoting of Leviticus to support your own small-minded bigotry I am here and you need to get used to it, rights would follow suit.   Look at Massachutes gay marriage — Massachutes hasn’t been struck down by God (any more than it normally is) for its horrible transgressions.  Once gay is not something reviled or hidden or locked in a closet, people have no choice but to accept that it isn’t any different than being born with different color skin.

So here I am, cheering on Constance McMillen.  Maybe she can go to her senior prom in her tux and maybe she can’t.  But either way, she has won this fight: she has shined light on the bigotry and watched the cockroaches scurry for dark corners.  She won the moral battle.  It will be easier for the next one to stand up… and the next one… and the next one after that.

Random Thoughts on Politics — GAY Edition

My Only Comment on Ex-Rep. Eric Massa…

I wish gay politicians would come out and be gay politicians. Proudly. Happily. Like an adult. This bizarre combination of gay guys attaining office and then gay-hating or gay-hiding or gay-bashing or pretending to not be gay while engaging in bizarre tickle fights with staffers is an embarrassment to the country.

Come on, guys. It’s 2010. If 10% of humanity is, to some extent, gay, and there are 435 of you in the House of Representatives and you are representative of the population as a whole, 43 of you are gay and one of you is heavily into swinging. Statistically, with Barney Frank, 42 of you are closeted. Give it up.

Hell, enough of you ought to be gay that you can have your own caucus.

And there’s Roy Ashburn…

who at least manned up on his sexuality. But since he’s voted against his own personal interest again and again and again, and now he is, woo hoo! outed! he will have a hard time at gay bars for the rest of his life. Hopefully.

Meanwhile, Gay Marriage in Washington DC…

… is awesome. DC is proud to be Gaytopia. DC is the gay capital of the US. We have all these nice gay people! See: gay Congresscritters and all their gay staffers; above.

I saw a documentary called Outs about outing these gay politicians (who seem to be both Democrats and Republicans), why they hide in the closet (optics! media!) and why they consistently vote against their own personal self interest (gay marriage, gay rights, gay adoption, etc). I don’t completely agree with the above documentary — it makes some pretty odd leaps of logic — but I find myself in favor of getting rid of these closeted guys for actually Out and Sane guys. These closeted guys always get caught in weird, embarrassing, and difficult to explain away situations. They are full of self-loathing and hiding and pretending. Layers upon layers upon layers of levels of stupid settles into a stratified cake of lying and politician ooze. I know perhaps the gay thing wasn’t so electable in the past and thus wasn’t a big political positive but hey, we’re growing up as a society and putting on the big boy boots. Not too long ago, black people, Hispanics and women weren’t so electable, either. Perhaps it is time to consider moving and running in liberal districts instead of living with your ambition and personal hate…

Just a thought.

How To Destroy Physical Evidence

How to destroy physical evidence: Eat the drive.

In a bold and bizarre attempt to destroy evidence seized during a federal raid, a New York City man grabbed a flash drive and swallowed the data storage device while in the custody of Secret Service agents, records show. Florin Necula ingested the Kingston flash drive shortly after his January 21 arrest outside a bank in Queens, according to U.S. District Court filings.

Maybe there’s a rule for getting away with the evidence by ingesting it in the new Leverage RPG. Although the hospital trip and having it manually removed from one’s GI tract is a little harsh — unless the data is that awesome.

David Foster Wallace’s archive acquired

The University of Texas has acquired the David Foster Wallace Archive. Some of the archive is here, along with his heavily annotated copy of Don DeLillo’s Player’s (which I have not yet read) and Borges: A Life by Edwin Williamson.

The collection is both fascinating and sad — sad that there has to be one of these University collections at all instead of 50 years from now.

I am about 800 pages into Infinite Jest.

Edward Tufte Presidential Appointment

Edward Tufte hired to explain stimulus fund spending on the Recovery Independent Advisory Panel.

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information totally sits on my bookshelf at home, and it should sit on yours, too. If he can make a few graphs to explain… anything really… I will be in a world of squee.

He says:

I’m doing this because I like accountability and transparency, and I believe in public service. And it is the complete opposite of everything else I do. Maybe I’ll learn something. The practical consequence is that I will probably go to Washington several days each month, in addition to whatever homework and phone meetings are necessary.

Sometimes I feel like the Republican fight is more “Revenge of the Nerds” with them going “NERD” at Obama then anything else because this is cool and deep geek.

PAX East

Attention K-Mart Shoppers!  We will officially be attending PAX East in Boston!  We are leaving on the evening of the 25th and arriving on the 26th at the hotel adjoining the convention center and then leaving on the morning of the 29th.

I have already spoken to a few of you about our possible arrival but now it is certain. If you are also going to be at PAX East please let me know so I can arrange the phone number swap for meetups. If you don’t know me in person and are not part of Team Burlodge North but still want to meet up to see that I really am as short and loud as rumored, let me know as well.

Also, the schedule is totally up now.


Stuff on My Droid

I have owned the Droid for a few weeks now and it is conforming to my lifestyle. A few apps have stayed on, a few apps have bit the dust, and a few I like very much. Here’s today’s Quick Roundup of Droid Toys ™ that do not include “phone,” “calendar,” or “email”:

1. Remember the Milk. I finally signed up, and paid the $25/year fee to, Remember the Milk. So should you: easy to use task lists, multiple lists, and shared lists. The free mobile Droid app integration complete with running task list widget on the main page is fantastic. Double click, click the box next to complete, and it automatically syncs with the website. It’s especially powerful with shared lists.

2. Google Listen. I am fairly meh on podcast software because I use iTunes and my iPod and the original version of Google Listen was a horrible piece of dreck. But the new, upgraded version is very nice and very powerful. It has good search features, list management, subscription management, download only on wifi, automatic stream, and manage Listen subscriptions through Google Reader.

3. Seesmic. I haven’t tried any other Twitter clients on the Droid but Seesmic has features I want: twitpic integration, maintains my “last read” point so I can easily find my place and scroll through an hour or two of tweets, easy reply, easy retweet, and easy private messages.

4. Google Maps and Google Navigator. Google Map support is, unsurprisingly, spectacular on the Droid. Google Navigator is a bit strange to use in car mode but it is a better GPS than my tom tom in a pinch.

5. Weight Journal. For $0.99, it will chart your weight! It sounds stupid but knowledge is power and the ability to watch one’s weight allows one to moderate one’s daily intake of calories accordingly. And as soon as I started using it I saw a very small but steady decline in my weight…

6. Pandora radio. Pandora just got an update that improved it considerably because before it was dropping the connection constantly. I am still not certain why it insists on playing all Beatles songs on my Radiohead station but it has found some interesting music for me.

7. Netcounter. It tells me how much bandwidth I am consuming. That’s it. It’s a handy metric to have.

8. ConnectBot. Yes! An SSH shell on my Droid! Sure I have to use the pull out keyboard for it but it is an honest to freaking god full color term on the Droid in itty bitty teeny weeny type. AWESOME.

9. ShopSavvy. Open it up, scan in an item, get prices and reviews. I have used it on games that looked dubious and came back with nothing but poor reviews.  It has already saved me money.

10. WeatherBug. Don’t leave home without it. It gives me a constant update on the temperature outside.

Stuff I have that I like and will keep but don’t use so much:

– ElJay, an LJ client.
– Yelp!
– Flickster
– Evernote
– Facebook client
– Google Goggles

All good, recommended apps. I’m just not hitting them as hard as my above top-10.

Fear Inc.

A very nice essay about US Fear culture from TomDispatch called Fear Inc. It is a nice analysis of the 9/11 that never ends, the US fear culture, and who profits.

Newsweek is running a similar sentiment. Maybe the news media has gotten their teeth on a newer, and more interesting, story: how we have all been spent into bankruptcy by make-believe fear mongering.

Dostoevsky as MUSH Log

I am a lifelong fan of Russian literature, especially the fine works of Fyodor Dostoevsky. I love Notes from the Underground and Crime and Punishment. I decided to try out Daily List by reading a free translation of The Brothers Karamazov. I had started reading it once a long time ago and I figured I would finish it. The translation is very spotty in places but the copy is readable — I would recommend springing for the Penguin Books version.

The Brothers Karamazov is about three brothers, Dmitri, Ivan and Alexey, who were abandoned by their father after their mothers died. Dmitri has a different mother than Ivan and Alexey. Old Fyodor is a drunk who hates everyone. The cook, Smerdyakov, also hates everyone and he might or might not be Old Fyodor’s illegitimate. And girls are involved: the beautiful Katerina Ivanova, the trollop Grushenka, the crippled Lise. And here’s a bit of plot:

Dmitri is engaged to Katerina Ivanova but for some reason his father Fyodor wants to marry her so Fyodor has gotten Grushenka involved and Dmitri is obsessed with Grushenka but now Ivan is moving in on Katerina Ivanova who is having fainting fits and Alexey (Alyosha) simply wants to marry poor crippled Lise and make his family whole but Ivan is an atheist and Dmitri is crazy and Smerdyakov is plotting to get them to all kill each other…

Eventually the plot devolves to stabbing and deep introspection of the soul because:

– It’s a Russian Novel
– It always devolves to stabbing
– The soul needs some serious introspection

And reading along… I get this strange feeling I have read all this before. I feel deja-vu.

A good, solid, Russian gothic novel is everything a MUSH devolves into given five minutes and half a playerbase: lots and lots of people sitting around discussing how they are quite upset, then going on a huge monologue about God for a few pages, some tension, perhaps a good war or two if reading Tolstoy, and then someone gets a good, solid stabbing. Then after something finally happens everyone — yes — sits around in cafes and discusses everything again! Wash, rinse, repeat. (This ties back well into Rob’s post about romance novels.)

This sort of thought leads me down the path to all sorts of MUSH-like genre games where the novel reads an awful lot like a MUSH log with some better language, punctuation and spelling:

– Romance games, where everyone sits around and talks.
– Jeeves and Wooster games, where everyone sits around, talks, drinks, and fails to shoot pool.
– Russian novel games, where everyone sits around, talks, drinks, stabs, and angsts.

I, personally, will be the first person to app on the Jeeves and Wooster MUSH.