Go Desmond Tutu!

BBC: Tutu chides Church for gay stance

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has criticised the Anglican Church and its leadership for its attitudes towards homosexuality.
In an interview with BBC Radio 4, he said the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, had failed to demonstrate that God is “welcoming”.
He also repeated accusations that the Church was “obsessed” with the issue of gay priests.
He said it should rather be focusing on global problems such as Aids.

Tokyo so far

Lots of shopping around Shinjuku – fetish items like stationery, a Hello Kitty camera (that I had to return cos it was crap), and generally enjoying the randomness of the shops and the shinyness of the roads that take you to them.
The shops around Harajuku are a bit like Camden’s Electric Ballroom or stable markets, and the people shopping there are perhaps more interesting than the show-offs on Jingu-bashi.
We accidentally found a lovely friendly lesbian bar – the Anchor. The scene seems small but decent.

Yes! Goodbye Howard.

Australia sweeps Rudd into power

Australia’s opposition Labor Party under Kevin Rudd has won a sweeping general election victory, removing PM John Howard after an 11-year term.
Mr Rudd said Australia had “looked to the future” and that he would be “a prime minister for all Australians”.

Unbelievably happy about this. But it’s a long way back to an Australia I can respect and be proud of. Let’s hope it starts now.

Facebook soon to equal spam?

Wired: Facebook Rolls Out Highly Targeted Viral Ad System

The real kicker is the third component. It essentially collects the data from the first two components (keeping user info anonymous, of course) and provides it to a given business to assist in its targeted advertising objectives. For instance, a user who goes to Coke’s page and interacts with or installs its viral app (“Sprite Sips”) can pretty much expect to become a shill — inserting all sorts of branding messages and endorsements into friends’ News Feeds.

We suspect that Facebook Ads means more app spam … lots and lots of product-pushing app spam.

All kinds of potentially creepy privacy issues there. I’ve already seen instances where third-party apps were able to display otherwise privacy-controlled information, so it can only get worse.

Ranking the sexiest women?

I’m quoting lots of this response to Maxim magazines poll of the world’s five “unsexiest women” because I think it’s really important.

In calling this kind of vicious, sexist rubbish “news”, the poll is given a smidgen of legitimacy. The media implicitly support the notion that it is OK to scrutinise and rank women on the basis of the most superficial and degrading of all criteria — their appearance.
In the past three decades, as women have made advances in public life and steps have been made towards greater equality between the sexes, the scrutiny of women’s bodies seems to have gathered pace. Take politics as an example. In Media Tarts, Julia Baird’s excellent book examining the media’s treatment of Australian female politicians, Baird argues that women in politics are rarely judged on their merits. Media commentators are far more interested in women’s hairstyles (Bronwyn Bishop, Julia Gillard), sexual histories (Cheryl Kernot), polka-dot dresses (Joan Kirner), sexiness (Julie Bishop, Natasha Stott Despoja) or unsexiness and weight (Amanda Vanstone) than their policy stances or the contributions they might make to the fabric of our nation.
Indeed, in many respects, women are still seen as less the sum of their parts and more the sum of their “bits”.
I can hear the naysayers: if you don’t like lists like these, don’t read them. And I agree. But even if — like me — you don’t actively seek out polls like these, assessments of women permeate every aspect of our culture. Ask any woman and she’ll tell you that such images are the reason she spends hours in front of the bathroom mirror, worrying about her every blemish or ripple of cellulite.
Media outlets need to be much more reflective about the role they play in fostering this kind of self-scrutiny among women. They must abandon the practice of uncritically promoting sexist material about women, of the kind we see in the Maxim poll. Because, as a woman, I can only do so much to avoid such harmful nonsense.

The Age, Media’s ugly looks obsession

Fascinating, and perhaps scary: When work becomes a game

Video games are big business and soon they could be big in business too.

All of a sudden, say academics and researchers, companies have realised that all the time employees spend gaming in virtual worlds is changing them.

Companies were adopting game mechanics for several reasons, said Dr Reeves.

The main reason was for the transparency it gave to the way workplaces were organised and for revealing who got things done.
“It exposes those that do and do not play well,” said Dr Reeves. “There is a leader board and you know the rules.”
It had the potential to turn workplaces into meritocracies where the most accomplished are easy to spot because they have racked up all rewards, achievements and levels required for a particular post.
While it may not sweep away systems of privilege or end nepotism it had the potential to make workplaces fairer and take some of the grind out of the day job, he said.

BBC, When work becomes a game
But what if you don’t play games? Will familiarity with gaming conventions give some people an advantage? Could you ‘game the system’?