Thursday, April 14, 2011

What Facebook Says to a Naked Lady

According to a report on Gawker, a French user of Facebook is suing the company because his profile was deleted after he changed his profile picture. The new picture was actually a painting of a naked woman's nether regions. Gustave Courbet created the work, titled The Origin of the World, in 1886, and it hangs in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris.

This Frenchman's account was deleted right before his birthday, according to the Gawker report, so he wasn't able to get birthday wishes from his 800-or-so friends. Awww.

A couple of other Europeans became so outraged that they switched up their profile pics to the Courbet painting. Then they got madder because Facebook deleted their profiles, too.


I haven't researched this story; I have read only the Gawker report, and I have some questions:
  • Is anyone else on Facebook allowed to have a close-up of genitalia (photo or artistic depiction) as his/her profile picture? I would imagine that it's against the terms of service, but does Facebook have someone looking at all images posted or did image analysis software pick it out or did someone report it as offensive?
  • What are the privacy settings for these three men? Are their profiles only visible to their own friends or are their profile pictures likely to appear on anyone's wall - including people who didn't expect to see exposed genitalia (fine art or not) appearing on their feeds.
  • Why is no one pointing to the biggest pussy on Facebook - the "unnamed Frenchman." He is so outraged that he cannot place any image he chooses on a public forum, and yet he is unwilling to reveal his name. What's up with that? Dork.


A Facebook profile is not a basic human right or a God-given privilege. It's a fancy bulletin board where anything and everything you post could potentially be seen by any of the service's nearly 600 million users. About a quarter of the users are between the ages of 13 and 19. That means probably 10-15% are minors. About 300 million Facebook users are outside the United States. Some of those people come from countries or cultures with different sensibilities. We're not talking about a handful of conservative Midwesterners; we're talking about potentially hundreds of thousands of people who, because of their cultural mores or religious beliefs or personal hang-ups, don't want to log onto Facebook and find themselves face-to-face with exposed genitalia. Fine art or not.

I don't know art, but I know what I like, and in my opinion, Mr. Courbet's painting may be exquisitely rendered, perfectly detailed - in short, brilliant - but I don't want it to appear on my Facebook wall. 


If you disagree with Facebook's Terms of Service, don't issue tirades against them, sue them, or send nasty emails to Mark Zuckerberg. Just cancel your account. The world won't end if you're not on Facebook.

I do have a Facebook profile. Almost everything in my profile is visible to friends only, and my photos are visible to friends of friends. Why?  I created the profile to enter sweepstakes. I had a few friends, but didn't use it a whole lot. Then I won a big prize in a contest, and some sore losers found out that I'd won, and they started trolling around the internet looking for information about me. They went back to their sore loser club forum and made really nasty and in some cases, threatening comments, in which they referenced the photos on my Facebook and MySpace pages. That's when I set about making everything really private. I only kept the account because I wanted to keep entering sweepstakes.


That was in 2007. Since then, I began using Social Media at work, for public relations and marketing. I added a lot of friends. I have visited the Facebook and Twitter accounts of businesses and posted comments (praise, questions, and complaints) on those corporate pages. I have interacted with some of my favorite authors via social media. I reconnected with one of my best friends, who I'd lost track of. Social Media has its benefits.

More recently, every company in the world seems to be jumping on the Facebook bandwagon, and I'm getting really irritated about sweepstakes and contests that require you to like someone's Facebook page, and even worse - the ones that want unrestricted access to my account before I can enter. 

Sorry, I'm not comfortable with that.

So please, if you're furious with Facebook because you can't do whatever you want to with your account, or because some closet art lover got his feelings hurt, close your account. Shut it down. Delete it. Find another social media outlet or just use email. Or pick up the phone. Whatever. Take some of the steam out of Mark Zuckerberg's "evil empire." That'll carry a lot more weight than a petty and frivolous lawsuit.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Coming August 2011

A darkly delicious new fantasy world
of sizzling romance amid the pageantry
of Georgian England.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

John Lennon magazine winner

The winner of the Billboard magazine with the special section devoted to John Lennon is Ginger, with comment #9. Ginger has been notified by email and has already responded with her mailing address. Thank you to everyone who entered. I'm glad to know this very special issue is going to a good home with a big Beatles fan.

Monday, April 04, 2011

TV: Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast was a fairly popular urban fantasy back in the late 1980s. I didn't watch the series in the beginning, and I don't recall what prompted me to tune in late in the second season, right before Linda Hamilton (Catherine) left the series and everything changed.

I never did see how the series began, so when I found Season 1 on DVD for $10 at Big Lots, I picked it up.

Wow. It's really sappy and weepy. I don't know how different it was when I started watching it from how it was in the beginning. I've been reading a bit online, and I gather that the producing staff (perhaps to meet network demands) made a bunch of changes in the second and third season to try to draw in more male viewers. Or maybe I was just dumber 20 years ago.

Right now, I'm watching episode 9 "Dark Spirit." In the first scene, a mature man is at a dinner party when he starts to appear ashen, he's complaining of being hot, and he's hallucinating that bugs are crawling on him. So, he's acting really strange and he looks ill. The people around the table keep trying to make toasts, and then when he jumps up from the table and stumbles across the room, they're just standing there. How about asking if he's okay and calling for an ambulance? Later, Catherine is in her office, and now she's been drugged, and her boss is just saying, "Take the afternoon off," when he should be insisting that she go to the hospital for a tox screen.

Every episode, it seems, someone does something incredibly stupid like that.

Plus, Catherine and Vincent (Ron Perlman) are clearly in love with each other. Vincent is not grotesque or anything. What's keeping them apart? Their own prejudices? 

It's not like the stories don't make good points sometimes, but they're mostly just cheesy, and that's not a word I use lightly.

If it gets any better, I'll write an update.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Libya and the United States

I haven't really been following the situation in Libya and the other Arab states where citizens have been rising up against oppressive governments. I've read a little bit about it online, but we don't have television, and since I left the news business four years ago, I haven't kept up with a lot of stories.

Today, I read an email newsletter from my congressman, Jeff Miller. I once had great respect for Rep. Miller, but lately, all of his newsletters seem designed to cast doubt and suspicion on the actions of President Obama. All it does is make me doubt Rep. Miller's motives.

You can read Congressman Miller's newsletter in full online. Here, I'll quote excerpts, in italics, beginning with the following:

The situation in Libya has been evolving constantly since unrest emerged there in February, following similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and other Arab states. Muammar Gaddafi—the man President Ronald Reagan called the “Mad Dog of the Middle East” for his sponsorship of terrorist activity against the United States and her allies—responded violently to opposition protests and threatened to treat protesters like “dogs” and to “show no mercy.”

He goes on to criticize President Obama for not speaking out against or taking action during the uprising and Gaddafi's violent reaction to it.

He does not criticize Republican President Richard Nixon, who was in office in 1969 when Gaddafi overthrew the sitting monarch and seized control of the Libyan government. Why didn't the U.S. take action then to protect the Libyan people from falling under a military dictatorship?

In February 2006, in the Libyan city of Benghazi, some 30 Libyans and foreigners were killed during civil unrest. Also in 2006, Middle East Quarterly quoted Gaddafi as saying that "execution is the fate of anyone who forms a political party." Rep. Miller does not criticize then-President George W. Bush for failing to take action against Gaddafi for restricting political freedoms in his country or for the murder of both Libyan citizens and foreigners.

Gaddafi has been in power for 42 years - through eight presidential administrations, including 28 years of Republican leadership - but Rep. Miller mentions none of that. Instead, he writes:

For three weeks the President remained silent while the world waited for some sign of American leadership, some indication of America’s intentions.

Now, let's approach things from a different direction.

On September 11, 2001, Muslim terrorists launched an attack on the United States. When the U.S. initiated military action against Al-Qaida and its leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, the world was behind us. A few weeks later, the Bush administration concocted  a story about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and declared war against that country and its leader, Saddam Hussein. As the truth came out, the world slowly began turning against us. Even in Iraq, the U.S. is criticized for its interference. I've spoken to a young man who was deployed to Iraq several times, about his experience with the people there, so my opinion is not just based on media reports.

Rep. Miller, in his newsletter, says that President Obama initiated his war in Libya without seeking the approval of the Congress.

But wait! Rep. Miller admits that President Obama consulted with The Arab League and the United Nations on the best course of action for the U.S. to take in this situation. As I began reading a few news reports this evening, I saw that U.S. troops are being deployed to Libya as part of a U.N. mission to Libya, a mission that includes troops from a number of other European nations.

So, in essence, President Obama is keeping the United States out of war, while still allowing the U.S. to take part in helping protect Libyan citizens.

I think this is the right approach, for these reasons:
  • The United States can't afford the wars that it's in, much less a third front. Our limited involvement is costing the U.S. hundreds of millions of dollars, according to Rep. Miller. A full-out war would cost much more and would likely prolong our involvement in Libya.
  • The United States needs to be part of a larger response, in order to reduce criticism of the U.S. for once again meddling in another country's affairs.
  • The United States must take some action, because we have always tried to assist other nations, other peoples in their quest for freedom. It's a part of who we are and what we are.

President Obama did not declare war against Gaddafi or Libya. The limited action he authorized in support of the United Nations mission is, in my opinion, the best way to help a nation of people speaking out against oppression without earning more anti-American sentiment among the world's nations.

Rep. Miller concludes his newsletter by saying that our Nation [should commit] to war only when we must.

Really? Was that a "must" when the Bush administration lied about and faked evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Because instead of building a false case against Iraq, we should have focused all our efforts on finding Osama bin Laden and disbanding the terrorist group Al-Qaida, the ones who actually attacked the United States, both here at home and abroad.

Finally, I must acknowledge the one thing Rep. Miller wrote that I can agree with:

...our men and women in uniform deserve our highest thanks for their loyalty, patriotism, and professionalism.

 Amen to that. Thank you to all our men and women in uniform, and to your families, for service and sacrifice on behalf of freedom.