Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
Dayton Daily News FAIL #7 (See DDN Fail #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 and #6)

A fun new feature of the Dayton Daily News is their new pay wall. Now when you click on certain stories, such as one featured on today’s front page, “ODOT: 3C trains could go 110 mph,” you’ll see only the first couple paragraphs of the story, followed by an “And there’s more to the story…” blurb trying to entice you to subscribe either to the printed edition of the paper or to their new E-dition.

The Dayton Daily News isn’t alone in wanting to charge online visitors for content. Google “London Times paywall,” and you can see that Rupert Murdoch, owner of the The Times of London, also wants online readers to pay to read his newspapers’ content. In those same stories about The Times’ paywall you’ll also see that The Times’ readership has fallen by as much as 90%.

A challenge facing the Dayton Daily News is that their pre-paywall audience probably wasn’t anywhere near as large as that of The Times.

Another challenge facing the Dayton Daily News is that much of what they publish can be gotten elsewhere for free. For example, the “ODOT: 3C trains could go 110 mph” article starts with the paragraph:

Ohio’s transportation director asserted Tuesday, Aug. 31, that passenger trains eventually will reach speeds of 110 mph across the state, even as freight railroads that will share the tracks effectively responded: “Not so fast.”

Guess where else you can find an article starting with the exact same paragraph? If you don’t know, Google is your friend. Google the above paragraph, and the number one result is not the Dayton Daily News article but rather another article with the exact same opening paragraph, available free to read online at The Columbus Dispatch.

If the Dayton Daily News is going to post basically the same press release that every other newspaper uses, why should anyone bother to pay the Dayton Daily News for news?

Update: Other stories the Dayton Daily News wants you to pay to read on their site that you can get for free elsewhere:

“Starbucks Corp. is set to debut its latest caffeinated concoction — flavored instant coffee.”
Dayton Daily News paywalled version
Free version with same opening sentence on 10news.com

“As of June 30, 21.9 percent of workers with 401(k) plans had loans outstanding, up from 19.3 percent in 2008, according to Fidelity Investments.”
Dayton Daily News paywalled version
Free version with same stats on tricityherald.com

“Democrats unlikely to repeal tax cuts for the rich”
Dayton Daily News paywalled version
Free version with same headline and sentences from McClatchy Newspapers

“N.C. Central University Chancellor Charlie Nelms thinks eye-catching outfits—whether risque or just-plain sloppy—are obstacles to learning.”
Dayton Daily News paywalled version
Same McClatchy Newspapers article available for free on KansasCity.com

“On Facebook, that person you barely know or no longer can put up with is there, all the time, taking up space on your home page, filling you in on all the mindless minutiae.”
Dayton Daily News paywalled version
Same article published 6 days earlier for free by the New York Times

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

Mum’s the word!

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Greek Festival and Gulley

This weekend I experienced a rather odd juxtaposition of two things one wouldn’t normally experience in tandem, namely the Dayton Greek Festival and Quaker pastor and author Philip Gulley. The first I experienced by walking right across the street from my physical home, and the other I experienced by driving 15 minutes south of town to my spiritual home.

The Greek Festival, which occurs each year the weekend after Labor Day, is something I’ve attended annually for over a decade, even before I gained such convenient parking for it, having fallen into the tradition of going with the same friends each year. There’s plenty to experience at the festival—cute Greek boys (especially the one there Friday lunchtime at the Never on Sundae booth), music, shopping (in particular for icons that a friend of mine collects), dancing, thick Greek coffee in small cups, crowds, noise—but it’s the food that’s the main draw.

It used to be that I’d go only once each year, but now that I live so close I eat Greek all weekend. Friday for lunch I had a gyro and cheese and spinach pies and a chocolate-coated baklava for dessert. For dinner I shared a bottle of retsina and had pastitsio and Greek salad, followed by Greek coffee and a couple baklavas. The festival doesn’t open each day until 11 a.m., but, knowing that, I’d planned ahead and had
A sweet, if not healthy, Greek Festival breakfast
baklavas and chocolate pinwheels for breakfast both Saturday and Sunday. Today for lunch I had a chicken gyro (not as good as the lamb gyros—be sure to ask for extra sauce on the side—but tasty) and another spinach pie, followed by some honey puffs. I definitely got my Greek on, as one of the t-shirts available for purchase said.

On Saturday, apart from breakfast, I took a break from Greek and ate Italian, not in the way you might have thought (no, not at the Italian festival) but at a spaghetti dinner held at my church as part of “An Evening with Philip Gulley.” Gulley was at Cross Creek as the guest speaker for the most recent of our weekend intensives, occasional times where we invite “professional thinkers” (as Gulley refers to himself and as my pastor introduced him but applicable also to other guests we’ve had previously) to give us amateur thinkers something more to think about.

You might be thinking I’d have done better to stick with the Greeks (and perhaps another bottle of retsina) than to go to a church dinner to hear a preacher talk, but Gulley, whom my pastor also introduced as an Indiana Quaker version of Garrison Keillor, was entertaining. Gulley has a dry self-deprecating sense of humor, a quiet, folksy manner that drew out quite a bit of laughter from those in attendance.

Like Keillor, Gulley draws upon his experiences growing up and living in small town America, but, unlike Keillor, Gulley’s purpose is not just to entertain but also to share his understanding of his faith, and, as Gulley shared on Saturday evening, although he is Christian he doesn’t believe that Jesus is the only way to experience the Divine. Gulley believes there have been and are multiple “God bearers,” and he spent his time Saturday explaining how we might recognize them. (Hint: the more loudly one proclaims that one is a God bearer, the less likely it is that one is.)

As part of his explanation of the concept of God bearers, Gulley, who says he likes to avoid theological language for the most part and to speak instead in language more people can understand, did bring up and explain a theological term, Theotokos, a Greek term for Mary, the mother of Jesus, a term that means (you guessed it) “God bearer.” I mention Gulley’s mentioning of Theotokos not so much because the term itself was central to his message but because I happened to hear that same specific Greek word again not more than 24 hours later.

 

Just as one helping of Greek food wasn’t enough for me this weekend, neither was one helping of Gulley sufficient, and I went back to Cross Creek again this morning to hear Gulley preach during our morning worship. Gulley was again entertaining, telling funny stories from his life experiences, not just to elicit laughter but to explain his faith. Gulley told a funny story from his Catholic childhood about being caught by his priest sledding down the hill of the Methodist church in his small town; rather than progressing in his faith by associating with non-Catholics, the priest thought Gulley should instead remain on the unchanging flat lawn of the Roman Catholic Church.

The problem is, as Gulley went on to explain, faith is not unchanging. Gulley illustrated this with another story, about a photo that his parents still display, a photo taken in 1958 of their family, before Gulley and his younger siblings were born. The photo which Gulley’s parents are still so fond of is valuable because it shows their family at a point in time, but it’s not an accurate depiction of their family over all time.

Alongside that story about a cherished family photo Gulley talked also about the Nicene Creed, again straying briefly away from folksy stories and into theological explanation, but again I mention his mentioning of a theological reference because this too I would hear mentioned again very shortly thereafter. Gulley talked about the 1685-year-old creed not because it is worthless and to be discarded but because, like the photo Gulley’s parents still like so much, the Nicene Creed is a snapshot of Christian faith at a particular point in time, not an unchanging depiction of Christian faith forever and ever.

So after my two helpings of Gulley, I went with another friend back to the Greek Festival for some more Greek food, and after eating, we went inside the Annunciation church to hear a brief explanation of the building and the Greek Orthodox faith, and here’s where the odd juxtaposition of Gulley and the Greek Festival took place. Sitting in the interior of the church with all its beautiful
The only Theotokos?
icons, I heard mentioned two things I’d just heard Gulley mention—Theotokos and the Nicene Creed.

For the Greek Orthodox there is only one Theotokos, and they venerate her with a large icon at the back of their sanctuary, and the Nicene Creed, available on laminated cards stored in the backs of their pews, they brought up as an example of the unchanging and eternal nature of their faith. Quite a contrast to how Gulley made mention of these two theological things.

I point out this juxtaposition not as an attack on the Greek Orthodox faith (this statement echoes one I just saw made today on another blog by someone claiming, as it happens, not to be making “a personal attack on Pastor Philip Gulley”). It’s just that as enjoyable as I find the food at the annual Greek Festival, I’m afraid I don’t find what they serve inside their sanctuary to be as nourishing. Ironically, considering Gulley’s story of childhood sledding, it seems that those who go up the hill to the Annunciation Church value most the unchangingness of their faith while we who worship on the flat lawn in the church building that is Cross Creek cherish that God is Still Speaking.

I guess a lesson to be learnt from this odd juxtaposition is that just as there are multiple festivals with different kinds of food, there are also different Theotokoi bearing the Divine to us in different ways, even if some of us would prefer to go all our lives to the same festival.

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

I know this will count as whining, especially given my overly privileged life, but there’s something that happens continually at the
I love Panera, I really do, but…
Brown Street Panera that really bothers me.

Take a look at the photo to the left and see if you can figure out what bothers me. If you guessed the drippiness of the large frozen caramel that
It is never, absolutely never, acceptable to hand a customer a beverage container that is dripping liquid down its side.
was handed to me this morning by an employee of Panera on Brown Street, then you’re doing better than she did.

What irks me is that this employee knew that the beverage container she handed me was dripping, and rather than wipe the container off before handing it to me, she instead took the easier route of wrapping a piece of wax paper around it.

What irks me even more is that I have complained about this before, both on my blog and on Panera’s online survey site*, and yet the employees at Brown Street continue to hand their customers beverages with drips running down the side.

I’ve spent $308.01 $316.19 (as of this morning) so far this year at Panera and $500.35 last year and $364.13 the year before that. As I’ve written before on my blog, I love Panera. I recognize that my spending hundreds of dollars each year at Panera means I really am overly privileged, but it also means that I should be considered one of Panera’s valued customers, someone they should rather please and keep spending hundreds of dollars rather than someone they piss off so much that he whines online about bad service.

Perhaps the ongoing inability of Brown Street Panera employees (and it is just Brown Street employees, not employees at Miller Road or Dayton Mall or Centerville or Town and Country) to understand that it is never, ever acceptable to hand a customer a beverage container with liquid dripping down its side is God trying to tell me that I shouldn’t be buying so many $4.19 large frozen caramels. Yes, if I really wanted to follow Jesus (and if I wanted to take my doctor’s advice and lose weight), every time I craved a large frozen caramel I would instead drink some water and give the money I saved to my church’s food pantry.

And perhaps Panera’s new menu boards with calorie counts next to each menu item is another way that God is telling me to stop drinking large frozen caramels from Panera. Did you know that a large frozen caramel from Panera contains 600 calories? It’s true—visit paneranutrition.com and see for yourself.

But I’ve never claimed to be perfect and I’m not quite ready to forswear the guilty pleasure of large frozen caramels. If God really wants me to do so, God will have to have the Brown Street Panera employees continue to serve me messy drinks until I can’t stand it any more.

And not being perfect myself, I realize that just as God (and my doctor) needs to remind me of my faults, I’m going to do my part to remind the imperfect Brown Street Panera employees of their faults. Hand me a drippy beverage, and I’m going to complain. Sorry about that, but I’m not perfect.

*A note about Panera’s survey site: Something I like about Panera is that they (at least some of them, if not the Brown Street employees) really do listen. I’d complained earlier about drippy beverages, and Panera of Central Ohio sent me a letter of apology and a gift card. And I complained about the poor design of their survey website (read this post to learn what about their survey site bugged me), and they fired Questar Data Systems (the folks who designed PaneraSurvey.com), hiring Mindshare Technologies to design the new PaneraListens.com site.

**One final note: I’m not looking to get another gift card or any monetary compensation—as evidenced above, I can well afford to eat at Panera—I just want drip-free drinks!

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010


Business Reply Envelope from the DCCC
I got a letter from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee asking for money. My first thought was to throw their pitch away, but I thought better of it and wrote a letter to their chair, using the handy postage-paid envelope to mail it in.

Here’s what I said:

Rep. Chris Van Hollen
Chair
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
PO Box 96039
Washington, DC 20077-7243

Dear Rep. Van Hollen:

I’m sorry, but I’m just not motivated enough to give the DCCC any money.

I gave money to President Obama’s campaign in 2008, and I have been a faithful Democratic voter, but lately I’m just not seeing the point.

You see, I’m gay, and as much as the DCCC might be right that we queers have no other realistic choices when it comes to politicians who might stand up for our issues, frankly I’ve been feeling as though we queers really have no choices at all.

Even with a Democratic President, a Democratic majority (even 60 votes until earlier this year!) in the Senate and a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, you all have not managed to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act or even to extend equal immigration rights to same sex couples.*

How about you manage to get any of these tasks done—and I mean signed, sealed and delivered, not just promising to do them—and then get back to me about my giving any money?

Sincerely,
David C. Lauri Jr.

*Yes, you did finally get the federal hate crimes law amended last year. Sorry, but that’s not good enough.

The Democrats want me to spend money, but the Democrats don’t want to spend any of their political capital. President Obama will throw us queers a bone or two when it doesn’t matter, but when the Republicans are filibustering DADT, does he say anything? Nope. And speaking of that filibuster, why can’t the Democrats make the Republicans actually hold an actual stand-on-your-feet-talking-until-you-drop filibuster?

Yes, there are other political partiesparties that actually support full equality for queers—but giving them money or votes would be as good as throwing my money or vote away.

So instead I’ll continue voting for the Democrats, because I don’t want a Republican appointing Supreme Court justices, but I won’t give the Democrats any more money. (And I’m not the only faggot to stop giving the Democrats money.)

Update 9/22: It seems that the DCCC got my message more quickly than I’d anticpated—according to my site logs, someone from 192.43.248.17, an IP address assigned to the Democratic National Headquarters in Washington, DC, visited my blog yesterday evening. Not that it’ll make any difference in how the Democrats approach keeping their promises on gay issues or in dealing more effectively with filibusters in the Senate, I’m sure.

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

A message for queer kids: It gets better.

If you’ve been a regular reader of my blog, you may recall a post I wrote a couple years ago—“Go [away], Skyhawks!”—in which I shared a few memories of my high school years, explaining how they weren’t the best years of my life and that I thus didn’t care to participate in my 25th high school reunion. (Interestingly, despite my telling Skyhawks to go away, searches for “Fairborn High School” and even “Fairborn High School class of 1984” are among those bringing people most frequently to my website.) It probably won’t surprise you (although it would have in fact surprised my teenaged self) that I’m not alone in feeling that way. Lots of queers do not look back fondly on high school.

In fact, quite a few queer teens right now aren’t having great high school experiences. Despite all the gains queers have made, despite the fact that queer teens are portrayed on such great shows such as Glee, there are still queer teens who are being bullied in school, who feel alone. Some feel so alone that they think the only way out is to kill themselves, which is what 15-year-old Billy Lucas of Greensburg, Indiana, did earlier this month, hanging himself rather than continuing to put up with being bullied for being different.

Was Billy Lucas queer? It’s impossible to know for certain, but he did get called “gay,” according to schoolmates of his (see this Fox 59 news report), and probably using ruder words like “faggot” Cocksucker! Does it offend you to see the word “cocksucker” here? Well it should offend you more that kids in schools across the country are shouting “cocksucker” at their queer schoolmates. and “homo” and “cocksucker” and many other words that newspapers won’t print.

How do I know what words Billy Lucas got called? Because I got called those words myself growing up (long before I ever sucked a cock or admitted to anyone that I wanted to). Bigots and bullies haven’t gotten more creative over the years.

And, again, though I didn’t realize it then, I wasn’t the only one. The Fox 59 news story about Billy Lucas’s suicide and bullying quotes a former student from his high school who also got called names and who got beaten up and whose “awful memories of high school came rushing back when he heard about Billy’s suicide.” This former student is only 21 and refused to be identified, but there are plenty of us who’ve since come out and will testify openly to our shitty treatment.

 

Someone else who’s willing to testify to the shitty treatment queer kids have faced and continue to face is Dan Savage, editorial director of The Stranger, Seattle’s independent weekly newspaper, and more famous as the foul-mouthed author of the long-running sex advice column “Savage Love.” Savage posted on The Stranger’s blog about Billy Lucas’s suicide, and now he’s sharing some of his own horror stories, how his being “really different” made school bad, how he got “picked on a lot, even by teachers too,” how he got beat up (read this New York Times story for details).

But Savage wants to do more than just talk about how bad school has been and how bad school is for so many queer kids. He wants to reach out to queer kids who are currently being bullied and who may currently be contemplating suicide with a message:
It gets better.

Savage realized that we queers who’ve survived may not be able to stop the current crop of Here’s a message from me to Candi Cushman of Focus on the Family: Fuck you! asshole bullies from making life miserable for their queer classmates (or to keep asshole organizations such as Focus on the Family from supporting anti-gay bullies), but we do have the power to let the younger queers following up behind us know that they’re not alone, that life does get better if only they can hang on long enough.

And one way to get that message out there is through a tool we didn’t have as kids, namely YouTube. Savage has created a YouTube Channel called “It Gets Better,” and
Watch Dan Savage and his husband Terry
he’s managed to convince his publicity-shy (and cute) husband Terry to appear in the channel’s first video, in which Dan and Terry talk not only about their difficult experiences growing up queer but also and more importantly about how great their lives have been since high school. Since that first video, many more have been added, and more are coming.

Will I do a video? Probably not. I’ve done my part by highlighting this campaign, by being openly gay, and by talking about gay issues on this blog, including some of my experiences in school. That Skyhawks post I mentioned at the start of this post wasn’t all negative—I point out in it that “my life since high school has been much, much better,” and it’s true, my life has been good. It would have been better if I’d gotten this message as a teenager.

 
Blog tools
<< September 2010 >>
SuMoTuWeThFrSa
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930 
Books
Tags
AJ Wagner (2)
Amazon Kindle Fire (4)
Amazon.com (2)
American Express (2)
American Family Association (3)
Amy Grant (2)
Berlin (4)
Books (15)
Candi Cushman (1)
ChMS (3)
Christianists (16)
Christianity (21)
Christmas (2)
COM101 (4)
Computer tips (20)
Conservatives (6)
Cross Creek Community Church (28)
Cute actors (4)
Dan Savage (3)
David Esrati (9)
Dayton (52)
Dayton Art Institute (3)
Dayton Christian High School (2)
Dayton City Paper (5)
Dayton Daily News (15)
Dayton Dialogue on Race Relations (4)
Dayton Gay Mens Chorus (11)
Dean Lovelace (3)
Derek (9)
Dick Chema (2)
Diversity Dayton (2)
Driving (4)
Drunkenness (6)
English (2)
Epiphany Lutheran Church (3)
Exodus (2)
Facebook (13)
Fairborn High School (6)
False prophets (2)
Feeding Friends (2)
Firefox (2)
Flash (2)
Frankfurt (3)
French films (3)
Gary Leitzell (11)
Gay (85)
Gay bars (2)
Geekiness (5)
German (3)
Germany (34)
Good Friday (3)
Google (2)
Government forms (6)
Grafton Hill (4)
Greasemonkey (2)
Greek Orthodox Church (2)
Hamburg (2)
Hebrew (3)
Issue 1 (5)
Joey D. Williams (2)
Köln (3)
Ken Blackwell (2)
Kiva (1)
Lüneburg (20)
Library (2)
München (2)
Mark Luedtke (1)
Marriage (23)
Mary Cheney (2)
Mazer (4)
MeetFred (3)
Microsoft (10)
Mike Turner (3)
Movies (14)
MVFHC (3)
My stupidity (5)
Nan Whaley (1)
Natalie Barney (1)
Neon Movies (10)
Occupy Dayton (4)
Ohio (2)
Olive (2)
Oregon District (4)
Panera (7)
Park Layne (3)
Parking (5)
Parties (2)
Paul Noah (1)
Paul Pyle (4)
Photos (49)
Politics (36)
Proposition 8 (2)
Racism (3)
Remembering (34)
Republicans (4)
Reviews (9)
Scams (5)
Sean Harris (1)
Sirius (1)
Snow (6)
SPAM (5)
Stivers (2)
Teaching (6)
Telemarketing (3)
Tomatoes (2)
Travel (12)
TV Guide (2)
Typing (6)
Uncle Bill (10)
Verizon (5)
Web design (bad) (17)
Web hosts (4)
Whining (61)
Wright State University (6)
Writing (5)
Yellow Springs (2)
Other months
Email
david@davidlauri.com