Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Eugene Volokh Considers Gay Sex
Yesterday, UCLA law professorEugene Volokhthrust into the public debate a very long post of turgid prose which rams the argument down our throats thatgays are converting people:

If you persuade someone to become a vegetarian, you can be said to have converted him to vegetarianism. He's still biologically an omnivore, but his practices are now different. Likewise, changing someone from (a) being an orientational bisexual who engages solely in heterosexual relationships to (b) someone who is an orientational bisexual who engages solely in homosexual relationships, or to (c) someone who is bisexual both by orientation and practice strikes me as quite rightly called a"conversion."

I am too juvenile a person not to snicker about Volokh's comparison between eating meat and sexuality.

Volokh, a former computer programmer who became a UCLA freshman at age 12 and clerked for Sandra Day O'Connor, is like the anti-John Roberts.

Unlike Roberts, who has been taking the fifth his entire adulthood, Volokh makes regular practice of sharing controversial opinions like this bizarre riff on homosexual conversion, which values a Humpty Dumpty-like fixity of the definition of the word"conversion"over the anti-gay persecution that results from the irrational fear of gay recruitment.

His contrarian outspokenness is a great trait for bloggers (or Internet trolls), but will forever disqualify him from consideration for the Supreme Court.

Buzzword.Com Runs Manila 9.5
I've upgraded toManila 9.5onBuzzword.Com, the free weblog service I'm running for Manila and Radio UserLand users.

The server's having problems staying online lately, to the chagrin of Craig Jensen ofBookNotesand other bloggers trying to publish there.

I think the problems are caused by the huge number of weblogs on the server -- somewhere around 5,000 at the moment. I'm going to move every weblog that hasn't been updated in 2005 out of Manila, which should leave fewer than 500 sites on Frontier.

Casting a Dark Horse as the Sixth 007
James Bond producers are searching for a new actor to play the role afterdumping Pierce Brosnanthis week.

Media favorites for the next 007 include Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger, Jude Law, and Clive Owen. I imagine they'll pick someone from this demographic: Top-of-the-marquee actors under 40 from the U.K. or Australia who can handle a black-tie dress code.

British bookmakers have Owen as a4/5 favorite, but some of their other choices are so odd you have to wonder at the collective intelligence of the gamblers placing the bets. Goren Visjnic?

As someone who became bored with the Bond movies around the time Timothy Dalton took over, I'd love to see them do something bold with the franchise, casting a black actor in the role.

A color-blind casting call opens up some interesting possibilities. Black actors can lead blockbuster action movies, as proven repeatedly by Will Smith, but he was born in the wrong country to be considered for the role. An American Bond would go over as well as an AmericanRobin Hood.

Brosnan's choice for successor is reportedlyColin Salmon, the actor who played MI6 operative Charles Robinson in the last three Bond films.

My pick: Idris Elba, the 32-year-old actor who playedStringer BellonThe Wire. Born in London to parents from Ghana and Sierre Leone, Elba was incredible in an odd role -- an erudite Baltimore drug dealer trying to turn dirty money into clean businesses -- and he wears a suit like he was born in one.

Air America Addresses Loan Issue
TheNew York Timesreported today on thequestionable loansthat Air America Radio's former director Evan Cohen gave to the network from a New York children's charity.

A spokesman for the charity told theTimesthat Air America has placed $875,000 in escrow as part of a repayment agreement. Al Franken addressed the subject in detail on his program earlier this week.

This should take the wind out of the sails of the conservative bloggers who have been riding this story for weeks, inflating its importance with grandiose names like"Air Enron."But a quote fromBrian Maloney's analysis of Franken's programshows they plan to keep right on rowing:

The Radio Equalizer analyzed this audio in great detail.

After repeated listening ... the laughter seems nervous in nature, coming at odd times. It's used to cover up the particularly touchy aspects of this, toward the end.

This isn't the first time that Maloney's finely tuned hearing has picked up the sound of a conspiracy. In 2004, when his weekly Sunday afternoon radio show wascancelledby Seattle station KIRO because of Seahawks coverage, he claimed the real reason was his on-air criticism of Dan Rather.

RSS 3.0: Please Pass the Fork
Jonathan Avidan has announcedRSS 3.0, a one-man attempt to forkRSS 2.0.

As far as I can tell, this is Avidan's first involvement in syndication. He's passing over three groups -- the developers of RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, and Atom -- without making an attempt to work with any of us.

RSS 3.0 is pitched as a better-specified version of RSS 2.0, but it drops a bunch of elements and makes changes to several others, so it's more than a spec rewrite.

Avidan also claims it willmake Atom better, which would be a neat trick, since that format just became aproposed Internet standardafter an arduous, two-year development process. I'm guessing that its creators would burst into tears at the slightest mention of a second version.

I don't know why RSS offers more forks than a picnic, but I wish I could use theRSS Advisory Boardto simplify the situation. A new person trying to figure out syndication shouldn't have to learn three formats just to make an educated decision about which one to support. Correction: Four formats.

Slashdot founder Rob Malda thought RSS 3.0 wasfront-page newsyesterday, which gives me hope. I've been working on an incredible new format I call HTML 5.0.

Turn Your AM Dial to the Left
I'm putting together a talk radio station lineup, in case I win the lottery and can bring liberal radio to Jacksonville. North Florida could use the variety -- I live within listening range of three stations that carry Rush Limbaugh live. I can only assume that the right wingers in this area are concerned that one or two stations might lose their towers to a hurricane or nuclear attack, so they've build some redundancies into the system.

My rules: All hosts have to air live, should run in their entirety, and be a liberal alternative to the conservatives hogging AM radio. Here's what I've got so far:

I don't know what to do with 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., or 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Air America offers Jerry Springer in the morning, but I think I'd prefer three hours of dead air, and I've yet to hear a broadcast of Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder's evening show that I liked. I may try again this evening to hear guestDuncan Blackraise some hell.

There's nothing on in the middle of the night but George Noory, the creepy successor to Art Bell. Maybe I'll just broadcast live audio of Al Franken sleeping.

In the early '90s I was an editor ofStarText, the pre-web online edition of theFort Worth Star-Telegram.

One of the most popular features I introduced on StarText wasgoodnews, a keyword where readers were always guaranteed to find a non-depressing news story.

A wire story today reminded me of that keyword -- a400-foot tall waterfallhas been discovered in a northern California recreational area:

Until recently, very few had seen the roaring water that tumbles three tiers before pouring neatly into Crystal Creek. That such a spectacle should evade even park officials for nearly 40 years is remarkable, said park superintendent Jim Milestone.

"It wasn't on a map, no one on the trail crew knew about it. People who been here 27 years had never seen it,"said Milestone, who is leading an effort to clear a trail to the newly named Whiskeytown Falls.

USA Todayis running acover storyonPatrick Cobbs and Jamario Thomasof the University of North Texas Mean Green, the NCAA-leading rushers in 2003 and 2004.

They'll become the first season leaders to ever share the same backfield when my alma mater loses by several touchdowns to LSU on Sept. 3.

Redirecting Sites off a Manila Server
A fewBuzzword.Comusers set up weblogs on other servers during theextended downtimethis month. Ralf resumed his German- and English-language weblog Moorbek on anew sitethat runs the Antville weblog software, keeping theold versionaround until he can move the data over, and Julian Harris is now publishingJulian on SoftwarewithWordPress.

Manila can easily redirect weblogs to a new address on another server: All I have to do is edit a line in theconfig.mainresponder.domainstable.

The primary disadvantage to moving is that Manila implements a redirect with an HTTP status code of"302 found,"which could indicate a temporary move, rather than"301 moved permanently."A site's Google pagerank isn't transferred with a 302 redirect. I'm hoping that UserLand updates Manila to address this issue.

If you had an old weblog on Buzzword and it's now published elsewhere, let me know and I'll redirect visitors to your new site.