Friday, February 20, 2009

Gossip Girl

Gossip Girl.

Who watches it?  

Can someone explain the appeal?  

Should I start watching it?

It has always sounded like a really interesting show, but I want to know what I am getting into before I watch it.  

What shows is it like?  

Do you feel as though it is worth your time?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Earth to Coleman: You Lost

How much longer is this Minnesota Senate election going to be contested? We've had a full scale ballot-by-ballot recount (and let's keep in mind Minnesota has probably the best established mechanisms for recounts in the nation) and we're in to week 4 of a Court case further challenging the recount, with no end in sight. Democrat Al Franken remains ahead by 225 votes (an unbelievably small margin), but the challenges to his certification seem to be unending.

Yes, it was an incredibly close election. But at some point former Senator Norm Coleman needs to realize that he's probably doing himself, his party, and certainly the people of Minnesota a disservice by prolonging this agony.

It has been more than 100 days since the election and Minnesota is being greatly under served by only having half it's Senatorial delegation at work. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota's other Senator, has been overwhelmed with constituent requests on every topic from Social Security, to veterans benefits, and beyond. Also, in a Senate so closely divided (Democrats are currently 2 votes shy of a filibuster proof majority) this one vote difference does have a measurable impact. The recent hubbub over the stimulus package, in which 3 Republican Senators essentially controlled the entire process, is a perfect illustration of how every Senator is important.

But beyond the representative and philosophical arguments, this is just really looking bad for the Coleman camp and Republican Party. Can you imagine if a Democrat had ended up with just a few less votes than the Republican in a major election and not only demanded a prolonged recount but then took the results to court when they didn't like the result? Oh wait, a Democrat did come up short in a major election recently and the Republican filed to have the recount stopped. Instead of putting the nation through more agony, then-Vice President Gore conceded, despite all the major questions and issues raised by the inconsistent electoral process.

My point here is not to re-hash the 2000 election or even paint a purely (though I admit, I do paint a somewhat) partisan picture. However, it is almost impossible for me to imagine a case in which Coleman was 225 votes ahead and Franken would have taken the issue this far past election day. The Republicans would cry foul and scream and rant that Franken was simply a sore loser and was trying to hijack the election.

It's even more suspect that on election night Coleman insisted he was the winner and there was no need for a recount (for the record the margin was so close that it triggered an automatic recount under state law). Franken insisted that he would only stay in until every legitimate vote was counted. During the recount Coleman routinely tried to supress previously rejected ballots from being counted. Now that he's behind in the vote totals, Coleman has reversed his position and his main arguments before the Minnesota Supreme Court have been that more ballots (curiously all from Coleman-leaning counties) should be included in the totals.

Clearly I hope that this all ends with a Franken victory, as I have all along - I don't deny that. And there are two sides to every coin, and there are bound to be slight inconsistancies in any politician's stance on an issue. But the overt double standard that is being applied here and Coleman's unabashed flip flopping is beginning to be embarassing for him and his party. At this point I'd say he has a better chance of letting it go and coming back next round. It's not like Franken can claim a real mandate here. Bowing out, saving what's left of his integrity, and running in a few years makes the most sense.

Give it up, Norm.

Perez Hilton ... IDIOT

Excuse me while I rant...

I am so sick... of Mario Armando Lavandiera Jr. (more commonly know as Perez Hilton). I was never really enamored with his website (it actually really annoyed me), but he always had some interesting gossip and the graphics were funny at times. [I made my own little Perez graphic for this post] Anyway ... as I said, I never really actively read his website, like I did the NYT or Engadget, but if something pointed me there - I would go and look around for a bit.

When I started using Reader I decided that I would monitor Perez and see what stuff he had - so I added him on a trial basis. I don't remember what was occurring around that time, but I recall him breaking a few things that no other blog had for at least 15-20 minutes -- so I was impressed. Things were good, life was good, no complaints. Perez remained.

Of course since my start with Reader, I've added much more - growing from a few feeds, to way too many. Of late I've picked up the Daily Intel (a NYC based blog), which I really like - and I suggest you check out (here). They usually have any gossip that I might otherwise get from Perez. But I've gotten ahead of myself -- why did I start hating Perez.

Well for one, he slams my Reader with entries - probably like 40-60 a day, which is too much for a non-legit news source. I just don't care about celebrity gossip that much ... and apparently his readers do. But aside from that, scrolling through garbage gossip doesn't really bother me ... but two things he does do bother me.

ONE. Perez seems to think it is his right to out every single person he thinks might be gay. Now calling someone gay who isn't actually gay is one thing - that's just like making fun of them. But calling someone gay who is actually gay but has not come out yet - that's a problem. As a gay man Perez should understand exactly what he is doing - if someone doesn't want to be out, it is not his right to tell them that they should be. He's just a jerk in that sense.

TWO. More recently, as you may or may not be aware, we have been in a recession. Companies have been laying people off, and there has been a lot of news about the economy. I get really pissed off when Perez posts a layoff (often times a few days after it has been through the media cycle) and lists the title as "R.I.P." ... I'm sorry, the company is dying, no one has died ... these people have lives and futures - no one is dead. It really bothers me that he does that - even more so than the fact that it is often quite late. Additionally most of his news regarding said companies is misconstrued - if not blatantly incorrect.

THREE. I know I said there would only be two, but sue me - there's a third. This goes along the same line as the first two in that Perez doesn't know what fact checking is. I get it - he runs a gossip blog and feeds off gossip ... that's fine. I don't care if you report that Madonna had a baby if she actually didn't. What bothers me is when he reports on the news and current events - more times than not he does not seem to understand what is going on and completely misstates the situation.

This third reason finally reached a culmination yesterday when I saw a post Perez made regarding Facebook. First off, the rest of the world had the story on Sunday/Monday - so please don't make it seem like you are breaking the news on something when you know you aren't. Not only that, but Perez basically made it seem like Facebook was evil and stealing things from you. While I agree that Facebook's modified ToS were quite dangerous, Facebook wasn't stealing content from you. So shut up Perez. Please just shut up. After reading that post I went into my Reader settings and immediately deleted the feed. It had been a long time coming - and I will still see anything 'important' that Perez decides to post because people will share it, but I'm personally glad to be rid of him.

In writing this post I went to Wikipedia to do some research (and to get his real name ... and this CC-licensed picture). As I suspected Perez has a lot of lawsuits pending against him - not only for defamation of character, but also for stealing images. The wiki page is here. But it seems that not only does Mario know nothing about current events, he doesn't quite understand copyright law either. While I'm sure his lawyers could make a great case that his stolen images fall under the category that he is using them to achieve humor or satire ... I'm not sure how it would hold up that a good portion of his website (and income) is based around these images that he steals and then writes in Paint on. Stop Stealing.

I'd also like to say that PerezHilton.Com media player is the WORST media player on the web. I would compare it to my disdain for any of RealMedia's players - even though it is built in.

So that's it ... I'm over my rant, but take what I wrote into consideration. If you are a Perez reader, just pay attention and make your own judgement as to if you think this is a website you really want to be supporting. And if you are not currently a Perez reader, I wouldn't recommend starting.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Millenial Watch: 2 Openly LGBT Elected Officials... under 25

As usual, leave it to the young people to lead the way.

It seems that there's been a lot more news on the LGBT front in recent, months, but maybe that's just me. After Prop 8 there's been a general upswing in activism. We've also seen marriage, civil union, and domestic partnership progress in several states recently (Hawaii, Maine, DC... etc).

But for the second time in a week now I've seen news that, while creating little hubbub, seems to me just as (if not more) important. Twice now I've seen a young, progressive, LGBT leader acknowledge their sexuality and that it has no bearing on their candidacy for public office. By being out and part of the Millenial generation they're overcoming two massive hurdles most candidates don't have to encounter.

Of course it's big news anytime that an openly LGBT person declares their candidacy for, or wins, public office. We're emboldened by such leaders as the Mayor of Portland (sans scandal), Bruce Kraus of the Pittsburgh City Council, Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin in the U.S. House, and more. Each of these people are an inspiration and a unique, trailblazing part of the LGBT-equality movement.

But it's personally even more inspiring for me to witness members of my generation taking the reigns now in leading their communities. For all the talk of many of our leaders, activists, and policy makers, it's still very difficult for young people to get much cred in some circles. It's even harder still for Millenials to be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to public office. Organizations like the Young Elected Officials Network and their Front Line Leaders Academy are fueling the movement by training young people with an interest in public service, and helping to remove that age barrier.

First, I saw a news story and several blog posts about Newark, Delaware City Councilman, and friend of the blog, Ezra Temko's announcement last week that he is bisexual. In his short time on Council, Ezra has been at the center of efforts to expand LGBT rights and nondiscrimination in Newark. Discussing his decision to come out and dating his boyfriend Drew:
When we started dating, it struck me how many rights we don’t have. I’ve always been very family oriented, so the limitations on our future made me recognize the level of privilege I had been assuming in my life, which motivated me to step up my advocacy in this area. From that, I began to see what states and municipalities around the country are doing and I asked myself, ‘Why isn’t Newark doing this'?

Nick Schalosky is a college junior in South Carolina who was just elected the first openly gay official in the state! Nick used Facebook to organize a last-minute write in campaign for the Charleston County Constituent School Board. After noticing that no one was running for the position, but too late to register for the ballot, he used online organizing tools to communicate with voters, organize his campaign, and reach out to (new) media.

Schalosky, 21, is also the Secretary of the local Stonewall Democrats Chapter and has written a great article about online organizing, community involvement, and a reflection on his candidacy here.

Congrats to both of you gentlemen! If you hear about any more Millenials or openly gay officials making waves, let us know!!

Rants and Revels

Alright, so once again I've failed to post for a little while. However, here are a few important things on my mind that I'd like to share with you. I apologize ahead of time if this heads in the stream-of-consciousnss direction.

First of all -- and I know that it's Wednesday and this post is overdue -- last Friday I went to the Ben Folds/Jason Mraz concert at GW's Smith Center. It was great! I'm not normally one for concerts (especially ones where you don't get a plush seat), but I was thoroughly impressed. Both performers were last at GW my freshman year there (that was almost 6 years ago for those of you without an abiccus) and while I saw Mraz (with Guster) I sadly missed Ben Folds. Thus, I was inspired to make it out this time.

I went into the night with a thoroughly pro-Ben Folds outlook, thinking of Mraz as icing. Folds was great to watch and did a few of my favorites, but Mraz was electricfying. His stage presence and overall charisma was just much more fun, regardless of whether you've ever heard anything he's done.

Bottom line: if you have the chance, see Mraz. But Ben Folds is still good too...


Little known fact: Southern Delaware is not unlike rural Alabama. I have family in northern Delaware and visited many times in my childhood. However, it wasn't until this past weekened that I spent any time in the far southern reaches of the state. Let me say that my eyes are now open.

Sheam, Skank, and a few others journeyed to our dear friend Chad's family estate in lovely Seaford, DE to celebrate President's Day. Among all the festivities, we had the opportunity to do some sight-seeing and visit with the locals. Everywhere we went (most notably a thoroughly enjoyable tour of the manor once owned by Governor William Ross) we interacted with people with a very pronounced accent. If I hadn't known any better I would have gussed we'd landed somewhere in Mississippi. It turns out Delaware, as a slave state, was a little divided on the secession issue leading up to the the Civil War. While most of DE wanted to stay with the Union, the people of Seaford and other southern DE regions sympathized with the south.

Pure conjecture: but it seems to me they're still passive-aggressively rejecting their northern neighbors and putting on those phony southern accents.


Voting Rights!!

The Senate has moved the latest incarnation of DC voting rights legislation out of committee (even some Republicans voted for it, though not John'Curmudgeon' McCain). This bill, like one passed by the House but filibustered in the Senate last session, would give DC a full voting House member and give Utah an additional member (they're next on the list to receive one by population). Majority Leader Reid plans to bring it up for debate soon (next week?) and anticipates that they will have more than enough votes to overcome a filibuster, thanks to the November election.

The House has yet to really act on the bill, but it passed last session by an overwhelming majority and we can only expect those numbers to go up.

Exciting news!! While it's far from a solution, leaving DC unrepresented in the Senate for instance, it's a great step forward!

Also -- I'm officially endorsing Howard Dean for HHS Secretary! I've actually been ranting to my friends/twitter following/facebook for a few days on this matter. He's quite the ideal candidate in my book. Dean is a doctor, was a very successful Governor (who reformed and greatly expanded healthcare), very successful DNC Chairman, and he's shown that he's a skillful manager (ala DNC, Vermont, etc).

All that said we're not likely to see Dean at all active with this White House. The new President's enforcer / chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has a notoriously bad relationship with Dean going back to Dean's DNC Chairmanship and Emanuel's time running the DCCC. Emanuel scoffed at Dean's '50 State Strategy' of investing in Democrats nationwide, instead of targeted spending that would have helped Emanuel's colleagues in Congressional races.

Apparently Obama, though the obvious benefactor of the 50SS success, seems to agree with Emanuel. Last month when the new DNC Chair Tim Kaine took over and Obama held an event to celebrate, they failed to even invite the outgoing Chairman Dean. Talk about arrogance.

I honestly fail to realize how at a time like this, facing innumerable national crises, our leaders can still afford to not put skilled and experienced people like Dean in key positions like this. I realize that there are going to be personality conflicts, and Dean's presidential campaign didn't end on a particularly high note (well, actually maybe the note he hit was a bit too shrill...), but at some point let's realize that ability to do the job and do it well should be paramount.

In any case: Dean for HHS!!

That's all for now. Feel free to share thoughts, idea, disagreements, etc below.