Monthly Archives: October 2007

bushwreck

an article about another bushwreck: how bush wrecked conservatism

and the ongoing bushwreck of the US government’s trustworthiness as a source of information, and its government policy on the environment, all in one: Washington Post on the bowdlerization of a speech about global climate change, transforming it, basically, into “yaay for the public health benefits of global warming!”

bushwreck“: my favorite new neologism which i just made up right now. succinct, self-explanatory, and redolent of other two-syllable words like “bullshit” and “tranwreck”.

The Republican Shuffle

Following hot on the heels (ahem) of Larry Craig, another Republican politician got caught seeking a little bathroom action, leading to more denials and resignations etc. My partner Michele has dubbed this “the Republican shuffle”. (She’s good with naming things. You should see some of her reagent names. <g>)

For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to just jot down sex scandals of hypocrites. They’re coming fast & furious and this is just what I can remember or noted in the past few weeks.

2007 ongoing – the DC Madam Scandal. Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey clients include:
* David Vitter (Republican Sen. from Louisiana) – dressed in diapers !!!
* Randall Tobias (Republican official; “AIDS czar”; administrator of US Agency for International Development) – resigned April 27, 2007

February:
* Feb. 27: Zachary Daubenmire, son of David Daubenmire (founder of “Pass the Salt Ministries” and “Minutemen United”) convicted of possession of child porn. [
Columbus Dispatch
, Feb. 27, 2007.]

June:
* Gary Aldridge, Baptist minister in Montgomery, Alabama, died of “accidental mechanical asphyxia” — he “was found hogtied and wearing two complete wet suits, including a face mask, diving gloves and slippers, rubberized underwear, and a head mask, according to an autopsy report. Investigators determined that Rev. Gary Aldridge’s death was not caused by foul play and that the 51-year-old pastor of Montgomery’s Thorington Road Baptist Church …” [Dead Reverend’s Rubber Fetish, Smoking Gun]

July:
* Glenn Murphy: Head of Young Republican National Federation; Republican county chairman from Indiana; sexually assaulted another (male) [YR 2007/7/29]
* Tommy Tester, Virginia Southern Baptist minister, caught urinating in front of children at a car wash, with an open bottle of vodka & empty oxycodone bottles in his car. [WBIR 7/31]

August & ongoing:
* Larry Craig – US Senator and Mitt Romney campaign exec caught seeking some glory-hole action.

October:
* Joey DiFatta, running for state office in Louisiana, also caught toe-tapping in a public restroom [nola blog]
* Oral Roberts University president forced to resign – Richard Roberts’ wife Lindsay was accused of having sexual relations w/ a 16yo boy; Richard was accused of mismanaging funds to lead an extravagant lifestyle [NYT 10/18]
* Donald Fleischman, 37yo Republican Chairman of Brown County, Wisconsin, faces criminal charges for fondling a 16yo boy & plying him with beer & pot. [Green Bay Press Gazette]
* Richard Mellon Scaife, right-wing mega-magnate & bankroller of hate politics, has to get a divorce after his wife caught him frolicking with hookers. [pharyngula 10/22]

November:
* Jehovah’s Witnesses settles NINE lawsuits over child sex abuse by multiple J-dub pastors. These were covered up by the J-dub hierarchy. Abusers include: Frederick McLean, a church administrator (“ministerial servant”); James Henderson, a J-dub “elder” and “Presiding Overseer”, whose abuses were known by the church and other elders; Alvin Heard, another member who was “disfellowshipped” from one church but, with full knowledge, admitted to other churches where he molested again; Larry Kelley, a children’s entertainer in Texas; Timothy Silva, who taught “adolescent book studies” at a J-dub congregation in California even after the church knew of his problem; and three others — eight total alleged abusers whose misdeeds were enabled by Jehovah’s Witness official-dom. [msnbc 11/21]

Also in 2007:
* Brand-spanking-new creationist museum: one of the video spokespeople turned out to have been a porn star
* Bob Allen: Republican Florida legislator solicited undercover cop for blow-job

2008:
* In Christian school founder extorts sex from student’s parent – Here we have someone who is unusually ethical compared to many of these people: Instead of trying to extort sex from children, LaVern Jordan, founder and “spiritual backbone” of the Parkway Christian School, simply tried to extort sex from their parents. He told one mom that he wanted to fuck her, and thought for waiving the fee of $300/week that he should get to do that “several times”. He later offered to give her child credit for classes he had failed, again tying it to sex.

I know I missed a lot. But seriously. What is wrong with these people? Lying, hurting other people, hurting themselves — why? Because their morality is founded on irrationality or politics or both, and not on simple, obvious ethical points like do no harm to others, sub-clauses consensuality and honesty.

Christian freaks.

the bush administration: destroying the media environment and the real environment, again

The NYT tells us today about Kevin Martin & the FCC’s new plan to relax the cross-ownership rules, which restrict large corporations from dominating entire urban markets. And, on the same page, on the same day, a story that has all the classic hallmarks of the Bush approach to the environment: scuttle environmental protection schemes that are working, destroy wildlife, and lie about science. New battle of logging vs. spotted owls

god I’m tired. 460 more days is a very long time.

framing & being out

PZ Myers has been fulminating about framing a lot lately, mostly in reaction to Chris Mooney & a few others’ ideas that we have to “frame” science and atheism better in order to win people to our cause. I don’t exactly disagree, because I’ve been tired of framing ever since the 2004 post-election dissections cited and interviewed poor George Lakoff ad nauseum.

Right now some people’s favorite targets are the “new atheists” (and I have to point out that atheist anger and bitterness is not new. Atheism has always been angry at theistic stupidity, unreason, and violence.), particularly Richard Dawkins. Before Dawkins it was Michael Moore. Feminists have frequently been in the hot seat, particularly with regard to abortion rights. Apparently, when some wonderfully strident person stakes out a position on any controversial issue, it is their lot to be attacked by their fellow travelers. (Heck, even the non-strident who have been PR-ing for decades get told how to “frame”: Matthew Nisbet just castigated Al freakin’ Gore mis-framing global climate change. Chris Clarke thinks Nisbet is nuts and I gotta agree.) I find these public lectures to people who are working their asses off to speak their minds to be tedious at best. If Nisbet thinks Gore has gotten the science wrong in some particular, I’d prefer him to write and publicize his own message; not waste ink on freakin’ advice about framing, because, frankly, I think Gore can pay for any such advice that he wants.

However, the latest rounds of commentary got me thinking about framing and being out. Of course, “framing” critiques can be seen as just more movement in-fighting. “Welcome to The Movement! Watch out for friendly fire.” Framing advocates don’t mean it in that way, of course. They’re honestly talking about framing as a way to get people to strategize and coordinate.

But even this kind intention is really an attempt to corral and control the message. There’s no question that this kind of strategic thinking is useful in tight, targeted, PR campaigns from a single organization with a relatively discrete, unified message to convey. Like the Republican Party for the last few years for instance.

But in a movement it doesn’t work, and First Amendment and information theories help tell us why. A social movement is a big, unwieldy, mass of many thoughts and voices, largely tending in the same direction as a crowd but with many ebbs and flows and individual eddies and various tendencies in this or that way. The sum total of the movement ends up being determined by a “wisdom of the crowd” kind of way.

“Framing” is an attempt to distill those mass voices into a single voice. It’s top-down, PR professional driven. It’s the opposite of bottom-up, grassroots, wisdom of the crowds. It’s the opposite of the information marketplace — that First Amendment theory that proposes that the best solution to bad information is not censorship, but more information. In a marketplace filled with good and bad information, all accessible, over time the good information floats to the top. Through the wisdom of crowds, so long as there is no censorship (a market failure in the information marketplace).

So when I hear folks advocating framing, I think: They’re spending a lot of time on tactics and advising the movement, which is their choice. But it would be better to just encourage more folks to speak their piece, no matter what they have to say. The more people who are out about being an atheist — whether they’re angry like Greta Christina, or accommodationist like Chris Mooney — the better. Don’t strategize. Just speak. Tell your story. As the Christians say, Witness.

Because the more atheists talk, the more conversations there are about vital issues, the more people engage in thinking and sifting and responding. And if any angry atheist provokes a moderate Christian-loving atheist to say their piece, great. And if that Christian-loving atheist provokes an angry agnostic to speak out, even better. And if that angry agnostic provokes a confused and questioning theist to start talking, we’ve won. Because this battle is only going to be won when everybody, everywhere, is talking and thinking about these issues, and hearing a multitude of voices, and making up their own minds. With lots of evidence and information in front of them.

now, even MORE derivative!

the wordpress 2.3 upgrade broke a bunch of my special code, so, i’m probably going to switch to a pre-installed theme(s) until i have time to really upgrade my theme. hey i was bored with it anyway.

ignore all the wacky “permissions required” and “no permissions” and “this post is copyrighted” bullshit that theme designers “helpfully” insert into every theme. this blog is creative commons attrib.

update: fixed my old theme to just ignore the problem elements & now (10/18) fixed the problem elements. still troubleshooting but it looks good.

more artist innovation in music distribution

A NYT blog is reporting that Radiohead is making digital copies of its next album available for pick-your-own-price amount — and the best part is they’re DRM-free.

Commenters on the post were almost all positive. A few salient points pulled out of comments:
* This will generate fans for and interest in its nice physical artifact versions of the albums — which are for sale for a fixed price, offering a solid profit point;
* This offers would-be downloaders an opportunity to get authorized DRM-free music at a reasonable price — a sort of come-in-from-the-cold attitude that, however small, will generate more revenue from these downloaders than they otherwise would have had;
* 100% of the proceeds — however small — are going to Radiohead, rather than 5-10% of the cost of a $15-$20 CD.