Monday, June 11th, 2007

kyintrigue.com's pretty but non-functional form
One of my pet peeves when it comes to websites is the use of Flash. There are times when it can be appropriate, to show an animation or for a game, for example, but there are many more times when developers use Flash just to make something pretty without considering how much functionality they're disabling.

Consider the pretty sweepstakes entry form at kyintrigue.com (don't ask how I got there) — a very sophisticated stylishly adult site featuring translucent dropdown boxes for state, month, day and year, none of which allow you to select values using the keyboard. See how easy the designer of this form has made it for babies born in 2006 and 2005 to select their birthdates? He or she obviously has no clue that in Firefox (and now in IE7 too) on a regular HTML dropdown you can select a value in the list by typing it. Would you rather select your birth year of 1965 by typing those 4 digits or by clicking on a slider and dragging it until you find 1965? You know my answer already.
Thursday, June 14th, 2007
Donald Wildmon is a liar!

Donald Wildmon, Founder and Liar You may already know that I subscribe to the American Family Association's Action Alert e-mails and that I consider AFA Founder and Chairman Donald E. Wildmon to be a liar. Today I got another one of his Alerts, and I just feel like screaming, "Donald Wildmon, you are such a fucking liar!"

Today's Alert is nothing new really, just the AFA's latest attempt to get their members to tell Congress not to add sexual orientation to the federal hate crimes law. I'm still amazed, though, at how flagrantly Wildmon lies. The Alert's headline is "A bill in Congress makes it a crime for pastors and churches to speak against homosexuality." Within the e-mail, Wildmon claims that "House bill H.R. 1592 and Senate bill S. 1105 would make negative statements concerning homosexuality, such as calling the practice of homosexuality a sin from the pulpit, a 'hate crime' punishable by law." These claims are absolutely and completely wrong, and I think that Wildmon knows that.

Here's the text of H.R. 1592. I defy anyone to point to the section of it that says a pastor can't preach against homosexuality. Instead what it talks about are "crimes of violence." Now I don't really buy the old adage about sticks and stones—words can in fact hurt people, especially kids—but the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 is not about punishing anyone who simply says homosexuality is wrong or a sin or even someone who calls someone else a faggot. What it's about is punishing people who "willfully causes bodily injury to any person ... because of [their] actual or perceived ... sexual orientation." Bodily injury, not psychological or mental. Wildmon and his fellow Christianists can thump their Bibles as much as they want, and they can continue to bash homosexuals verbally. They just can't bash us physically, which surely as the Christians they claim to be, they don't want to do.

Wildmon mentions a California lawsuit (but doesn't cite a particular case) that would make the use of certain terms in government workplaces a "'hate speech' crime," whatever that is. Even if that's true (and why on earth would I believe a word Wildmon says), that's a far cry from banning speech in church.

I don't think Wildmon seriously thinks anyone intends to regulate what clergy people are allowed to say in their places of worship. I think instead that he's counting on the ignorance of his followers and is willfully lying to them in order to incite them to action. And the action he wants is not just to defeat the hate crimes bill. No, he wants all his followers, outraged by this Alert, to "please support [him] with a small gift."

Donald Wildmon, you're an ugly man. Both outside and inside.

Friday, June 15th, 2007
Fred blog posts
Fred’s most recent blog posts
as of early morning Friday the 15th

I visited my friend Fred again this morning and saw a couple sad things. One was that Fred’s blogpost roll showed that he’s had only 7 posts since lunch time on Monday, as you can see to the right. The most recent post was late evening yesterday, and the 8th post from the top was lunch time on Monday. Fred doesn’t see a lot of activity :(.

What makes it sadder for Fred is that that post on Monday was announcing the result of a photo contest in which, near as I can tell, everyone who entered either won or got an honorable mention. Fred announced the contest on June 8th and got two entries that day, one entry June 9th and two entries June 10th, all of which are also featured in the aforementioned WINNER OF THE FRED PHOTO CONTEST! entry still lingering around on Fred’s latest blogs and announcements.

Poor guy.

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007
Not very bright today, are we?


Assemblywoman Clark worries:
How are we going to
repopulate the United States?
I read an article in today's New York Times about the same-sex marriage bill that just passed in New York's State Assembly (and will die in its Senate). In debate about the bill one assemblywoman said something that, even if the year were 1989* and not 2007, is really just incredibly stupid. Assemblywoman Barbara Clark, who voted against same sex marriage, was concerned that "same sex couples can't reproduce and repopulate the United States." Now I'd never heard of the assemblywoman before reading this article, and so I have no idea whether she's mentally challenged, but saying something like that really makes it seems as if she is, doesn't it?

  • Does Ms. Clark think that if same sex marriage passes, all the heterosexuals are gonna turn gay? Perhaps she voted against the bill to save herself from temptation.
  • Is the assemblywoman privy to news from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that the rest of the world is not? Is it a well-kept secret that no baby Bay Staters have been born since the queers have been able to marry there?
  • Is it possible that Barbara, in 2007, hasn't actually met any gay people? Could she really not know that these days the gays are all about having kids?

I mean, come on, if you're gonna be against same sex marriage, don't say it's because you're afraid there'll be no Children of [Gay] Men. Instead fall back on something that can't be refuted, like the Bible tells you that homosexuality is an abomination and you want to make America a theocracy.

* In 1989 Denmark because the first nation in the world to allow same sex registered partnerships, conveying most of the rights of marriage to same sex couples. Denmark's birth rate has been declining somewhat but remains above 10 births/1,000 population, not too far below the U.S. rate of 14.

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

Due to traveling and apathy, I've had no Pride this month until last night when I attended a rather gay event, namely the Human Race Theatre's production of Take Me Out, a tale about a baseball superstar who comes out. Since last night's performance was a special(ly discounted) Greater Dayton LGBT Center Pride performance, everybody's who's anybody in Dayton's gay community was there, so it was fun to see some people I hadn't seen in a while.

The set was done well, diamond-shaped with a dugout on one side, a lockerroom on the other and a combination home plate/pitchers mound in the center. Cannily crafted stadium lights and lockers of decreasing size gave an interesting sense of perspective to make the stadium seem larger, and good sound effects of crowd noise and stadium echo (even during Executive Director Kevin Moore's obligatory thank the sponsors/pitch the new season speech) made the theatre seem even more like a ballpark. As at Dayton Dragons games, that the stadium (err, theatre) was packed, added to the excitement and fun. After Kevin's speech, the play got off to a traditional baseball start with the singing of the national anthem but without a soloist to help us on, leaving the audience to stumble through the words on our own without much help from the baseball players/actors on stage. We kept up the baseball motif as the play progressed, too, standing up in the second act for a seventh inning stretch to sing, what else, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

When it comes to the actual play, I really didn't find the plot as gripping as it might have been. The newly out superstar, Darren Lemming (played by Lindsay Smiling), never really gained my sympathy, not even after the play's denouement. The play's narrator of sorts, Kippy (played by David Marantz), was likeable, and Marantz covered up somewhat for at least one awkward moment when he seemed to be waiting for Smiling to say a line.

I was a bit disappointed in another part of the play, a heavily-billed feature that was probably responsible for drawing much of the play's gay audience — the full-frontal male nudity galore. It was tasteful and integral to the plot (OMG, a faggot's in the lockerroom looking at my jewels!), and (another kudo to the set designer Dick Block) the batting deck artfully converted to a working showerroom, but most of the actors were not prime physical specimens (not being a baseball fan, I don't know — are major league baseball players actually fairly flabby?) and thus nothing really titillating to look at. There was one exception, one of the Hispanic players on the team (and unfortunately I don't know if he was Martinez [Greg Hall] or Rodiguez [Ramon Gaitan]) was in fact well hung and tight, with a small sexy tattoo right above his pert buttocks. Hello!

The highlight of the evening was a surprise to me because he's someone I know online (I won't reveal his gay.com screenname, but his profile there features a photo of him with a very sexy beard and moustache). Offline he is Brian McKnight and his portrayal of nerdy gay accountant Mason "Mars" Marzac was terrific. McKnight got all the sterotypically gay gestures and mannerisms down pat to great humorous effect, and he did what Smiling could not do, make me like his character. If you ever have the chance to see McKnight perform, do!

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

This is just another brief whine about the misuse of Flash on the web for forms. Today’s culprit is SuperCuts, who will give you $2 off the first time and $1 each time off thereafter if you sign up for their haircut reminder service.

Bad Flash-based SuperCuts form
supercut.com’s non-functional form
(not as pretty as kyintrigue.com’s)

Unlike the fine folks at KYintrigue, SuperCuts doesn’t think babies born last year will be signing up (you have to be 18 at SuperCuts but not at KY), but their form is plagued by the usual problems. You can tab from first name to last name, but hit tab again and you land on email address. Don’t they want you to fill out birthday? Sure they do (it’s asterisked), but you must use your mouse to enter it. Ugh.

What makes stuff like this worse is the premium that corporate types are paying to get it. I know of a national organization that paid $10,000 for a Flash-based web site and then wondered afterwards why they couldn’t do things like highlight text and copy it or bookmark individual pages, all the sorts of things people have learned to expect from regular HTML pages. What’s even more insane is that it takes extra time (and thus extra money) to develop these forms in Flash that lack the functionality of regular HTML forms. Oh, but they’re pretty, aren’t they?

Update 5/1/2013: I had occasion to read this blog entry again, and sure enough, SuperCuts has updated its profile registration form to be just a plain HTML version. Not as pretty as their old Flash form, but oh so much more functional.

 
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