Jesurgislac’s Journal

February 12, 2009

Never, ever, try to win an argument by editing a Wikipedia page

The Telegraph:

Attempting to explain that the present financial crisis was unprecedented, Mr Brown said: “I’m reminded of the story of Titian, who’s the great painter who reached the age of 90, finished the last of his nearly 100 brilliant paintings, and he said at the end of it, ‘I’m finally beginning to learn how to paint,’ and that is where we are.”

During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mr Cameron said: “The Prime Minister never gets his facts right: he told us the other day he was like Titian aged 90. The fact is, Titian died at 86.”

Records on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, show that at 12.34pm – four minutes after the end of PMQs – the entry for the artist was altered to support Mr Cameron’s claim.

While previously his birth and death dates were set at 1485 and 1576, meaning Mr Brown could have been correct, they were changed to 1490 and 1572.

The editor’s IP address – the unique string of numbers identifying internet users – belonged to a computer in Conservative Campaign Headquarters in south-west London.

David Cameron says “The person at central office who then altered the Wikipedia entry – putting on the correct information, because I think Titian did die at 86, there’s some dispute among academics – but nevertheless that was the wrong thing to do. He shouldn’t have done that, he has been disciplined for doing that.” So, well, that’s nice.

I wonder how he was “disciplined”? Made to stand in front of a blackboard and write out “I will not edit Wikipedia to ‘help’ my boss win an argument”? Or will the words “from an easily-traceable IP address” be inserted there?


Update: “If the Conservative party is prepared to fiddle the figures with regard to the age of dead Italian painters, surely we cannot trust them on the economy either.” – Mark Lazarowicz MP, yesterday

January 29, 2009

Saddleback

from this week’s Savage Love

And now… without further delay… the winning definition of “saddleback“… by a gaping margin… definition number 5: “Saddlebacking: the phenomenon of Christian teens engaging in unprotected anal sex in order to preserve their virginities.” After attending the Purity Ball, Heather and Bill saddlebacked all night because she’s saving herself for marriage.

Here’s why this definition is perfect: Saddlebacking, like barebacking, involves one person riding up on another’s backside. But in this case, it’s not the bare-naked cock-in-ass that’s the most important feature of the ride, but the fact that the person being ridden has been saddled—thanks to the efforts of the Rick Warrens of this world—with religious hang-ups and serious misconceptions about sex. Like the barebacker who casually tosses away his health—or his partner’s health—because he believes, quite erroneously, that “risky = sexy,” the saddlebacker offers up her ass because she believes, quite erroneously, that she can get fucked in the ass—vigorously, religiously—and still be considered a virgin on her wedding night.

I’ve set up a website—www.saddlebacking.com—to popularize the new definition. (Get to work, Google bombers!) Now let’s get this term into common usage as quickly as possible.

Let’s go!

November 16, 2008

Banned again…

You know, it’s one of those peculiarities of right-wing blogs; they complain a lot (a lot!) about how “liberals can’t tolerate dissent”… yet the one thing, routinely, they cannot tolerate is people showing up in their comment threads who don’t agree with them and can say why. I got banned from Family Scholars Blog back when they were still accepting comments; Maggie Gallagher shut down comments on her blog at least partly because I just kept showing up and pointing out she was talking nonsense: recently, I noticed, multiple threads just happened to get closed to comments because, er… I showed up! and

I’ve been banned again. I think that means I won the argument, since the loser I was debating can’t cope with it…

*grin*

July 14, 2008

Heinz Meanz Bigotz

Filed under: Google-fu — jesurgislac @ 7:26 am
Tags: , , , ,

To the Daily Telegraph, in response to their distinctly biased presentation of the recent Heinz Meanz Bigotz kerfuffle:

Recently, the firm was threatened with a boycott by gay rights campaigners after it withdrew an advert that showed two men kissing.

The advertising regulator received about 200 complaints that the Heinz Deli Mayo advert was “offensive” and “inappropriate”.

I noted on the comments page attached to the article (which is moderated, and I expect mine won’t get through) that they “forgot to mention” that the reason Heinz withdrew the Mayo ad from British TV was because of a mass online campaign that shut down their website – by the American Family Association in the United States. They also “forgot” that the ASA announced that they saw nothing offensive in the Heinz Mayo ad. It appears the 200+ complaints were just a British version of the AFA campaign.

Oh, and (other stuff was happening) but I got an apology e-mail from Heinz. Apologising for running the ad. I get that it’s just an ad, not important in the scale of things: but I’m not buying another Heinz product again….

July 4, 2008

Heinz Meanz Homophobia

Filed under: Google-fu — jesurgislac @ 7:47 am
Tags: , , , ,

Heinz Homophobic Ketchup

From The Guardian, July 1st.

The AFA, which says it stands for “traditional family values” and targets the “influence of television and other media” on society, sent an email “action alert” to its 3.5 million subscribers denouncing the Heinz Deli Mayo commercial as the “kind of ad we can expect to see in California as they prepare to vote on homosexual marriage”.

“I thought you might be interested in seeing the Heinz ad featuring a homosexual family and two homosexuals kissing,” said the email action alert.

“We suggest you forward this to all your family and friends letting them know of the push for homosexual marriage by Heinz. This ad is currently running in England, but no doubt can be expected in the US soon.”

The action alert, sent out on June 24, included the phone numbers of Heinz’s US corporate headquarters and an email letter of complaint for subscribers to support.

Cindy Roberts, the director of media and public relations at the AFA, told MediaGuardian.co.uk that after the alert was sent out Heinz US called to let the organisation know the ad would not run again.

Roberts said Heinz had admitted that the volume of AFA members’ email complaints had “bogged the [computer] system down”.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I feel like Heinz just decided to make do with homophobic customers only, and I feel it should be allowed to do so. Heinz brands listed here. I admit this is unlikely to hurt Heinz much: judging by the Duggars family recipes, homophobic Christians eat a lot of processed food.

June 19, 2008

William Saletan on the pro-abortion pharmacies

Pro-abortion pharmacies are a bizarre phenomenon: claiming to be “pro-life”, they promote abortions by denying women contraception: especially emergency contraception, which is of course needed precisely when a woman knows there’s a high risk she might well need an abortion otherwise.

William Saletan (via) sees these pro-abortion pharmacies as a “matter of conscience”: some pharmacists, he feels, just see it as moral to ensure that more women need to have abortions, and the law shouldn’t stand in their way.

There’s actually, I discover via Saletan, an entire website devoted to supporting pro-abortion pharmacists, including even a PDF of guidelines to ensure a person who wants to work as a pro-abortion pharmacist or in a pro-abortion pharmacy, can get the job they want.

The PDF suggests that “the following techniques have been used successfully on several occasions to obtain employment in which the company agreed to a [proabortion] dispensing policy for the pharmacy. This means no [female contraceptive] drugs or devices, including birth control pills, and no referrals for the same.” (I’ve edited the unscientific inaccuracies out.)

  • a belief that God has such employment in mind
  • prayer that God will prepare the way to find it
  • include the pro-abortion message clearly on the resume
  • Unless the interviewer brings up the pro-abortion ethics statement, defer discussing it until the end of the personal interview
  • refuse to take the job unless the pharmacist enforces pro-abortion policies on all staff and customers

Saletan’s “solution” to these pro-abortion pharmacies is typically libertarian:

And Stein’s reporting suggests the abstaining pharmacies aren’t making their policies clear enough. If they won’t do this voluntarily—by posting them, for instance—the law should make them do it. If I were writing the regulations, I’d draw up a big, fat, standardized “We don’t stock birth control” notice, complete with a 24-hour toll-free number that will direct you to the nearest pharmacy that has what you need.

Which of course, if it’s the only pharmacy in a small town, might be a hundred miles away.

I’d suggest to Saletan that a more accurate notice would say: “We promote abortion” and besides Saletan’s slightly pointless 24-hour toll-free number for the nearest real pharmacy, would be required to include contact details for the nearest health clinic that performs abortions: and each pro-abortion pharmacy would be required to pay a percentage of their gross take per 28-day period to that clinic to support women on a low income who need abortions.

Or, you know: the law could just require that a pharmacist who has suddenly developed religious scruples about doing their job, which includes providing women with the means to prevent abortion, would have to either quit being a pharmacist or quit trying to impose their religious beliefs on their customers.

Meanwhile, as an active Internet citizen, I’d like a websearch for pro-abortion pharmacy and pro-abortion pharmacists to bring up the appropriate site: PFLI, the pharmacists for abortion. Unlike pro-lifers, and certainly unlike these pharmacists, I actually think it would be great if there were fewer abortions each year – safely carried out, as early as possible, and prevented as far as possible by provision of wider choices to women.

===

Robert Semler, the pro-abortion pharmacist
Robert Semler, the pro-abortion pharmacist
Drugstores Market Beliefs:

When DMC Pharmacy opens this summer on Route 50 in Chantilly, the shelves will be stocked with allergy remedies, pain relievers, antiseptic ointments and almost everything else sold in any drugstore. But anyone who wants condoms, birth control pills or the Plan B emergency contraceptive will be turned away.

That’s because the drugstore, located in a typical shopping plaza featuring a Ruby Tuesday, a Papa John’s and a Kmart, will be a “pro-[abortion] pharmacy” — meaning, among other things, that it will eschew all contraceptives.

Like the doctors, nurses and other staff members at Tepeyac, Robert Semler, the pharmacist who will run DMC Pharmacy, plans to start each workday with a prayer with his staff, which at first will just be his wife, Pam, a nurse. “Being a faith-based workplace, it’s a logical thing to do,” Semler said.

(More on this from Jill at Feministe.)

March 10, 2008

“It must be true! I read it on the Internet!”

Filed under: Google-fu — jesurgislac @ 12:19 pm
Tags: , , , ,

There’s a post here on Engadget which claims that in Brick Lane, London, the charity Living Streets is experimenting with padded lampposts for distracted texters.

Over on Iowa Liberal, the original Iowa Liberal wrote, in a post entitled The World Is Going To Hell: “Call me old fashioned, but how about letting them run into the posts until they friggin’ learn to look up?”

I checked out the website of the charity Living Streets (you can too: it’s www.livingstreets.org.uk) to find out if this story was actually true, rather than irresponsibly – and gullibly – just assuming that because I “read it on the Internet” it must be true. And yep: no reference to this anywhere on the Living Streets website.

I see the website links to an ITN video on YouTube, which looks to me very like the kind of short clip British news often put at the end of a news broadcast for light relief: it’s labelled “Comedy”. On Google News, “padded lampposts” gets six hits, not one of them a local London news source.

Call me old fashioned, but how about a little less gullibility and a little more research? If I could find out this is a joke, not a real Living Streets project, in something under ten minutes of easy research requiring no significant google-fu: so can you!

Not that this matters all that much: it has all the hallmarks of a delightful practical joke. But as a means of stopping the spread of lies through the Internet, nothing beats asking yourself “Just because this is a good story, is it true?” and looking up the facts for yourself.

Update: To do him credit, Jeromy found a followup link. It’s not a hoax, exactly: it’s an advert for a mobile phone company. (Though the local council was fooled into sending down contract cleaners to remove the padding from the lampposts, but the padding had already gone.)

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