31 January 2006
Coretta Scott King, RIP
We have a lot more work to do in our common struggle against bigotry and discrimination. I say “common struggle” because I believe very strongly that all forms of bigotry and discrimination are equally wrong and should be opposed by right-thinking Americans everywhere. Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation is surely a fundamental human right in any great democracy, as much as freedom from racial, religious, gender, or ethnic discrimination. -- Coretta Scott King, 9 November 2000.
The Tennessee scenes, both Memphis and Hendersonville, were part of what I appreciated about the movie.
30 January 2006
Walk the Line
A memorable moment: The scene of a shotgun-wielding Mother Maybelle warding off Johnny Cash's dealer is a hoot.
I didn't know ReeceWitherspoon was from the Nashville area until reading about the SAG awards today. I went to prep school with a Witherspoon. Wonder if there's a relation?
Putt, Putt, Putt, Putt....
The last air-cooled Volkswagen rolled off the assembly line in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in a VW Microbus. Tightening emissions regulations forced the end of the engine whose roots can be traced to the 1930s. A water-cooled version of the engine will replace the long-standing four banger in 2006.Truly, it's the end of an era.
28 January 2006
Gay Agenda Once Again Revealed
Do you want to know the real gay agenda, what 96.8 percent of all gay couples wish for every single day including Sunday? Here it is:
From what I can glean and above all else, the gay people of America seem to want this simply inexcusable level of boundless, unchecked normalcy. It's true. For some reason, they believe the utterly disgusting idea that they should be able to live their lives in peace and trust and health, with full support and assistance from their schools and hospitals and government, just like everyone else. I know. Shudder.
It is, in fact, remarkably similar to what heteros want. And women. And black people. And immigrants. And dwarves. That is, to be able to fall in love and maybe even get married (or at least have the option) and have decreasing amounts of sex and raise a family and hold down a good job and pay their taxes and argue with their lovers over who the hell spent 200 bucks on long distance to their mother, all while not having to worry about getting the living crap beaten out of them with tire chains by Arkansas and Alabama and most of Texas, or secretly loathed by small-minded pseudo-Christians who wouldn't know Jesus' true message if it bit them on the other cheek.
Ah, the deviousness of it all, the sheer nerve to desire the same sort of lives as everyone else. But do you want to know the kicker? The true aspect of the "gay agenda" that makes the religious right's skin really crawl? Here it is: When all of that normalcy is in place, when these repulsive gay beings who like to walk around in public and eat at restaurants and drink their lattes and laugh out loud and stick things into each other's bodies for sexual pleasure, well, they want the most appalling thing of all: They just want to be left alone.
He goes on and gets in this great line:
[G]ay people do not seem to care in the slightest for converting anyone to homosexuality, which of course would be the equivalent of converting a frying pan into a doorknob. It simply cannot be done.
As one kinda famous blogger says: Read the whole thing.
Bono, AMEX, Launch "Red Card" Supporting End to AIDS in Africa
27 January 2006
International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Link via the Moose.
26 January 2006
What If There Was an Australia Day but It Was Over in Australia Before You Ever Could Tell Anyone About It?
25 January 2006
More "Brokeback Mountain"
(2) Larry McMurtry says, "I was startled by it. Unfortunately, I don't write short fiction. But if I did write short fiction, I should have written it myself." Among other things.
(3) The web site for the movie has a kind of guest book where individuals can write about their own experiences -- in their lives or of the movie. Go to the web site, the click on "Share Your Story", then on "click here to VIEW A FEW SHARED STORIES". There are probably a hundred or so of them.
22 January 2006
Nowhere does anyone address underlying historical/cultural reasons for why this issue exists in the first place, those being court-ordered busing to achieve public-school desegregation and the refusal of the federal government to use the school to impose Christian religious practices on students who don't come from Christian families. Both those led to the increases in the numbers of and enrollment in private schools associated with Protestant churches, as well as to increases in the practice of home schooling, and neither had anything to do with the failings of the academic aspects of public schools.
To talk about vouchers without even a wink and a nudge to the fact that they're being used to support religious instruction and religious institutions is to engage in a phony disucssion. That's not to deny that there are reasons to put the feet of the public schools in the USA to the fire and to make them perform: lots of them don't, and some of the reasons are bad academic management, ineffective teachers, and lousy curricula as well as not enough resources. And along the same lines as making sure the discussion includes the evolution of private Christian schools as a response to desegregation, we have to make sure to note that a result of that is public schools that are even more segregated than they were before well-intentioned state actions tried to remedy the situation.
21 January 2006
Okay, Now I Am Totally Creeped Out
Now, Dragonleg is back. Link via Solonor.
A Red State Hypothesis
Lower-income individuals simply live in a much more disrupted society, with higher divorce rates, more single moms, more abortions, and more interpersonal and interfamily strife, than do the middle- and upper-middle class people they want to be like. It should come as no surprise that the politics of reaction is strongest where there is most to react to. People in states like Massachusetts, for example, which has very high per capita incomes and the lowest divorce rate in the country, are relatively unconcerned about gay marriage, while those in Southern states with much higher poverty, divorce, and single-parenthood rates feel the family to be threatened because family life is, in fact, much less stable in their communities. In such environments, where there are few paths to social solidarity and a great deal of social disruption, the church frequently steps into the breach, further exacerbating the fight.In his commentary on the article, Douthat goes on to argue beyond the Prospect article against what he sees as libertinism and lingering impact of "the sexual revolution":
A more libertarian economy does have something to do with the breakdown of "sensible middle-class values" over the last few decades, even if conservatives are sometimes loath to admit it. But the breakdown is also largely a result of the cultural and sexual revolution that began in the '60s and continues to this day - a revolution that has been great for well-off Blue Staters and not so great for everyone else, and whose negative consequences modern liberalism often seems unable to reckon with.Nowhere does either Franke-Ruta or Douthat consider the role of better education as creating a context that influences whether the consequences of the cultural changes -- changes that were almost inevitable given the Second World War and its aftermath -- are negative or positive. And the role that economic affluence ought to play in making that education more available to all.
"A big statue of Bill Hall. And Snowbird."
I kind of think it's a shame what they've done to Snowbird. I liked the concept better when it was a badly-animated penguin that just went "No School! No School!" Now it looks like some kind of disfigured gigantic gingerbread reject from Jim Henson's muppet factory.
More "Why Gay Marriage" (part 4,502,599)
Freeholders (that's New Jersey-ese for "County Council member") in Ocean County, New Jersey, have refused to pass a local ordinance allowing a former police officer who is dying of cancer to leave her pension to her partner. This in spite of the fact that New Jersey state law explicitly allows for such action on the county's part. Towleroad: "They say that allowing Hester's partner her pension would 'violate the sanctity of marriage'."
Excuse me, but pensions are a civil financial arrangement.
Addendum (SUN 22 JAN): The Freeholders have reversed themselves, so the officer's survivors benefits will go to the surviving partner. Story here from 365gay.com. Also, the negative publicity from their earlier cold-hearted attitude has led several other NJ governments to change their domestic partnership policies. (Link via a comment to this post at Mike Silverman's Red Letter Day blog.)
Mormons LDS of Korea
I felt bad for him: He seemed really dejected when I cut him off quickly with a "Thanks, but I'm not interested."
At least LDS missionaries travel in teams. On bicycles. Wearing crisp white short-sleeve shirts and skinny dark ties. This guy seemed to be over his head to be in a strange country with little language skills pushing cultural boundaries so that not only do we recognize those nice young usually American men who are LDS missionaries, but also those nice young Korean men here to witness about Rev. Moon's operations. (And I'm not talking about The Washington Times.)
19 January 2006
Why Gay Marriage (or Functional Equivalent Thereof)?
And people ask why gay couples want the right to civil marriage. Because they are always one ornery relative away from having their relationships shredded under the law.
Non-married or non-marriagable-at-this-time people reading this: Put as much property as possible in both of your names. There's nothing to contest then.
Read the background about the couple and how they raised three kids here. To add insult to it all, the cousins of the deceased partner are suing the surviving partner for back rent. Barf.
18 January 2006
Intimacy Between Men
I didn't know anything about nor had I anticipated this love story between two young men hired to herd sheep one summer in Wyoming. I didn't know it had appeared in The New Yorker. I didn't know Annie Proulx from diddly: I had picked up the book in the Cleveland airport when I was changing planes there on the way back to Memphis, where we lived at the time, from a job interview in Erie, PA. I was taken with the entire collection, even before I got to "Brokeback Mountain."
I didn't grow up in Wyoming, but I did grow up in the only town of a rural county in middle Tennessee. I was lucky to go "off to school," but I had enough experiences in my little home town to know the kinds of things the locals thought about "queers" and "faggots." I knew I was one of "them," even as I told myself I wasn't.
Of the long duration it took me to come out (I didn't come out until I was 33), the sadest part is that for the bulk of that time, I never allowed myself to imagine that I could be emotionally close to another man. Sexually close, yes, but emotionally close: I didn't believe that was in the cards. It was only when I began to consider that option, to see that closeness with another -- another who was going to be another man -- was what I wanted that coming out became part of the picture.
Brokeback Mountain, the movie, depicts a different story: a story of episodic emotional closeness between two men. Their times and situation preclude their intimacy developing further; in fact, the character of Ennis Del Mar, played by Heath Ledger, doesn't even realize the degree of his intimate connection to the other, Jack Twist, until Jack is gone from this world. To me, the movie is solid and substantial: perfectly, if slowly, paced; beautiful in cinemagraphic scope; carefully scripted (by Larry McMurty and Diana Ossana); subtly scored. It covers twenty years, realizing the times and places well.
The story and the movie have affected both Mack and me. The sadness. The possibilities. The connections to the small-town rural lives we could have had. What might have been. What was for many. What still is for some.
The last minutes of the movie, in which the Ennis character goes to see Jack's parents, in which he for the first time, un-selfconciously, is honestly himself before others who are not like him, has stuck with me. He doesn't even realize that just by being there he is saying, "I loved this man." Jack's father is a homophobic asshole, but Jack's mother understands. Perhaps for the first time in his life, Ennis felt okay that he had loved another man. And he seems to have learned the preciousness of that love by the closing scene in the movie.
I know this isn't a review. I know it isn't telling you, the reader, whether to see the movie or not. The story and the movie matter to me: not in some kind of Star Wars gotta see it 14 times way, but in a way that reflects something about what I feel for Mack, about what I feel as being a man who loves another man. The movie, moreso than the story, makes me aware of how lucky I am to have him, to live with him, to feel secure enough in our lives together that our concerns about wacko neighbors coming to off us because we are gay is shrugged off as a humorous fantasy, even if it is still non-negligible. It wasn't always so here, it isn't necessarily so other places, even in this country, and it's not something to take for granted.
12 January 2006
Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!
"Serious discussion" (and humor!) about gay marriage is something that responsible citizens can and should engage in, but one has to be realistic about its influence compared to $150,000 freaking dollars of GOP money intended to use gay people and their serious intimate relationships as yet another boogeyman in their quest for electoral dominance.
The group trying to put a gay marriage ban on the Florida ballot in 2006 is being bankrolled by the state Republican Party.
New state campaign finance records show that of the $193,000 that has been raised by Florida4marriage.org, the political committee working to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage, $150,000 of it came in a single donation from the Florida Republican Party.
09 January 2006
The Donkey's Future
Likely, that should be extended to President or Congress.
08 January 2006
Campaign 2008 Update!
"It's hard to mess up a good western"
06 January 2006
05 January 2006
"I was in the area pastoring to police"
Addendum 1: Julian Sanchez at Hit and Run: "Sure, there's a certain amount of poetic-justice schadenfreude here, but my first thought was: 'What kind of sick dystopia makes it a crime to offer someone a hummer?' "
Addendum 2: It's still illegal here in Florida for unmarried individuals, of whatever sexual persuasion, to cohabitate. See Item 798.01 in Title XLVI of the Florida Statutes. Yow!
04 January 2006
Beneath the Antlers
He's an advocate of McCain and Friedman (Kinky, not Milton), and he's currently employed by the Progressive Policy Institute of the DLC. His TR-worshiping militant-centrist blog (one of my daily reads) is The Bull Moose.
Link via The Corner.
03 January 2006
Sometimes, All You Need to Get a Different Perspective Is to Sit in a Different Seat
in the process of getting the bowl and the tank and the seat and
some pipes and gaskets from the warehouse, we got to talking
about our outhouses and he allowed as how the one he had in
Florida when he was kid in the fifties hadn't been all that
bad, except for the bugs and sometimes a snake, and we both
agreed that there are times out there when you see things from
an unusual vantage, for instance: that view of the night sky in
winter is unparalleled.
02 January 2006
Be Vewy Vewy Quiet: I'm Optimizing My Bwain Pewfowmance
My dangerous idea is that what's needed to attain optimal brain performance — with or without prior brain exercise — is a 24-hour period of absolute solitude. By absolute solitude I mean no verbal interactions of any kind (written or spoken, live or recorded) with another human being. I would venture that a significantly higher proportion of people reading these words have tried skydiving than experienced one day of absolute solitude.I'm skeptical that it would lead to "optimal brain performance" -- how do you measure that in the first place? -- but I'm comfortable that it would lead to an improvement in the quality of life. (Okay, okay. That's hard to measure, too.)
Maybe one could start with 10 minutes of silence and solitude a day and then work up to 30 minutes or so on a regular basis!
Git R Done!
So much stuff, in several places & areas, is waiting that it is tempting to walk away.
Q. What to do when there is so much stuff to do that nothing is possible?
A. One small thing in front of you.
Q. What to do when there’s still so much stuff that one small thing hasn’t changed the pile?
A. Firstly, this is not a question: it is a statement, that nothing has changed. This statement is incorrect: addressing the one small thing has changed everything, although this may not be immediately apparent.
Secondly, do a second small thing in front of you.