Monday, December 13, 2010

Evening commute

I really need to remember that my commute is made considerably easier if I simply lock my bike up when I hang it on a peg. That way I have a wider range of choices as to seating.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Morning musings 9 Dec

Our iPhones were delivered yesterday. I'm very pleased with it! Picked up a bike computer app and am using it to see how much exercise I'm getting.

Right now I'm listening to The Third Reich in Power. Certain parallels between then and now present themselves.

Tonight I have QRC advisory board.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Stupid Email Scams

So here’s the latest Malware scam:


This is to remind that a new version of Adobe Acrobat Reader with enhanced features for viewing, creating, editing, printing and internet-sharing PDF documents has been released.

To upgrade your application:

+ Go to
+ Get your options, download and upgrade.

Thanks and best regards,
John Watt
Adobe Acrobat Reader Support

Copy rights Adobe 2010 © All rights reserved

Don’t follow the link! Adobe products are available from and will, generally, tell you when they need updating.

When the going gets weird, the weird get bizarre

A Christian minister in Minnesota said on his radio program that the nation's first Muslim member of Congress was soliciting the support of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community to implement Sharia law. Follow his logic with us, wouldn't you?

Bradlee Dean of the religious ministry You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International said on his radio program that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) is only supporting LGBT rights as part of a strategy to bring Sharia law to the United States, the Minnesota Independent reported.

"I said time and time again that there is a correlation between the Muslims and the homosexual agenda, and we have a couple of fools in the state of Minnesota that are putting a rope around their neck and they just don't realize it," Dean said on a radio. "Here, let me give it to you this way: Keith Ellison is a Muslim."

Dear reasoned that Ellison's support of protections for the LGBT community (like the Matthew Shepard Act) and for same-sex marriage is part of a plot to overthrow the Constitution and put Sharia law in its place.

"Why is he so adamant about overthrowing the Constitution as it is right now? Because if you pay attention to the plow he's planting the seed," Dean said. "He's trying to come through with Sharee [sic] law."

Because, ya know, every Muslim-Majority nation is a paradise on Earth for queer people.

Whole article in all its strangeness here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Congrats Democratic party, you screwed yourselves!

the Democrats did this to themselves! Both the elected Dems and every Democratic voter who didn't vote. In the former case, imagine how different this election would have turned out if the following were true:

1) Gitmo went back to being a Marine base and not a detention center.

2) Medicare-for-all had passed

3) Glass-Steagal had been resurrected and Wall Street once again had rules-of-the-road.

4) Warrantless wiretaps had been discontinued.

5) There had been a REAL jobs-program WPA-style.

Would the Republicans have still picked up seats? Probably. But they would have been facing a Democratic electorate that felt that too much had been achieved to let it be rolled back. What's more, the Tea Party/Republicans would have done PRECISELY what they did anyway. If Obama had actually staked out some position so far to the Right that he made Joe Miller or Sarah Palin look like full-on Marxists, the Tea Party/Republicans would have STILL called him a Marxist, they'd STILL call him a socialist, they'd STILL say he wasn't born in the United States and they'd STILL say he was in league with terrorists. There is NOTHING that man could do that would please the Tea Party. The same applies generally to the Democratic party. If the Dems eliminated every single social program, repealed the Voting rights act, passed a law making Islam illegal, repealed the Civil Rights Act and did away with the income tax (or just put it all on the backs of the poor), the estate tax and the capital gains tax, the Republicans would still insist that Democrats were un-American, tax-and-spend liberals who hate America and want the terrorists to win. If the Democrats voted to bomb every square inch of land in an arc from Istanbul to Jakarta the Republicans would still say that the Democrats were 'soft' and 'unwilling to fight'.

So what, precisely, did all of these misguided attempts at bipartisanship get them? Nothing. What did all these compromises get them? It got them beat like a red-headed stepchild that stole something, that's what.

When I was in grade school, I got bullied mercilessly. I got bullied for being black. I got bullied for being gender non-conforming. I got bullied for being a geek. I got bullied because the sun shone light upon my face. I learned, really early on, that you cannot show weakness to bullies. You cannot let bullies know you *care* what they say about you. IF you do, you hand them encouragement and ammunition. The Dems, in deciding that they would care what a party that made it clear that their ONLY real agenda was the defeat of the Democratic party--and if the country has to burn or that to happen, so be it--thought they doomed themselves.

Now, was any of that an excuse to stay home? No. It wasn't. Anyone who thinks that there is no substantive difference between the agenda of the Democratic party and the agenda of the Republican party isn't paying attention to either party platform. The Republican party appears to believe that even if you are raped by your own father, you should be forced to have the baby. The Democratic party doesn't. The Republican party appears to believe that America should be *actively* hostile to homosexuals. The Democratic party does not. The Republican party appears to mean that 'freedom of religion means the freedom to practice whatever brand of Christianity suits your fancy'. The Democratic party believes freedom of religion means just that--the religion of your choice or no religion at all. The Republican party believes that if you just cut taxes enough, you'll increase tax revenues. The Democratic party seems to have some nominal grasp on mathematics.

To paraphrase the Bard; the fault, dear Democrats, is not in the stars but in ourselves.

Friday, October 29, 2010

My ultimate jacket

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a WW II bomber jacket. Well, yesterday I got one!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Can’t Keep a Bad Idea Down -

I don’t often agree with Thomas Friedman but here is one where he’s clearly gotten things right.

A dysfunctional political system is one that knows the right answers but can’t even discuss them rationally, let alone act on them, and one that devotes vastly more attention to cable TV preachers than to recommendations by its best scientists and engineers. (Thomas Friedman)

Can’t Keep a Bad Idea Down -

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The fault is in ourselves

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

(William Shakespeare -- Julius Caesar)

                When I came out in the late 80’s/early 90’s and first encountered where Left-thought was headed due to the influence of post-modernism I was concerned but felt, at the time, that I lacked the intellectual chops to rail against it intelligently. Here I was, a high school graduate and former soldier, just starting my academic career and I was being taught by people who had imbibed fully the teachings of Foucalt and Baudrillard. I was trying to wade through post-modernist thinkers, struck by how truly awful much of their writing was and that which I could understand seemed to have very little to do with life on this planet with our species even though it was nominally a critique of how we build and enforce culture. So I picked up my keyboard and moved over to the world of the hard sciences where, at least, there was still an acknowledgement that such a thing as ‘facts’ existed in the world and one could be on some kind of firmer intellectual ground. That was two decades ago. My eyes have drank in countless words since then and they have percolated in my brain all this time. I have learned the art of intellectual discipline and no longer see myself as a hopeless rube with a mind that is still ‘colonized’ by the ‘hegemonic’. We on the Left screwed up. We blew it and we do so spectacularly. While I’m not going to let the Right-wing off the hook--this mess is as much theirs as it is ours--they are not my primary concern except that as a Liberal I need to ready and able to counter-balance Conservatives. As Liberals or Progressives or what-have-you, we have not been at all effective at doing so.

        We made two errors and they are entwined together. One is more philosophical although it has had a negative impact on our strategy and one is more strategic although its underpinnings are certainly philosophical. The former is epistemic relativism and the latter is identity politics. Before this post is finished I hope to demonstrate that these two memes form a double-helix which has served to direct the development of Left-leaning thought to its detriment. Epistemic relativism has given the Left moral blinders and caused us to turn away from most of what is noblest about Liberalism. What’s more, it has created a trap that Conservatives--who went to the same schools as Liberals until recently--have exploited; to wit, the idea that if you believe something to be true then it is True and so any reality that anyone believes must be ‘respected’. Identity politics has turned us into ideologically-driven blowfish, ready to puff up at a moment’s notice over even the most trivial of slights or slips. One result of this is that we are ready to call racism on a hair-trigger which has allowed racists to become immune to the accusation and, as the 2010 Republican primary showed, a badge of honor. Another is that in making being a woman, or a queer, or a person of color a matter of essence we have managed to meet racism and sexism coming the other way! Things in America specifically and the West generally have gotten serious. Deadly serious. More than at any time in the last half-century, America needs a strong and intellectually powerful Left to counter the forces of plutocracy, fascism and theocracy that are converging on the body politic. Political and intellectual movements cannot, by necessity, turn on a dime but if we are to be effective in countering what appears to be coming down the track we must try to change the memes we use--first in speaking to one another and, more importantly, speaking to the general public.

        I’ll take identity politics first. It is the more pernicious and the more ambiguous of the cases. I say that because while epistemic relativism has very little to recommend it, identity politics does make some sense. Identity actually matters. It would be entirely foolish of me to suggest that my experience of America, as a black, butch lesbian, is identical to the experience of my buddy, Ogre, who is a big bear of a straight, white man. The problem with identity politics was put very trenchantly by Nick Cohen in his book “What’s Left” when he wrote;

        To generalize, the idea that a homosexual black woman should have the same rights as a heterosexual white man was replaced by a relativism which took the original and hopeful challenge of the early feminist, gay and anti-racist movements and flipped it over. Homosexuality, blackness and womanhood became separate cultures that couldn’t be criticized or understood by outsiders applying universal criteria. Nor, by extension, could any other culture even if it was the culture of fascism, religious tyranny, wife burning or suicide bombing.

Later, Cohen states that the Left--in breaking with our Enlightenment ancestors--adopted the position of the Ancien Regime which was that ‘ men and women have the ability to transcend their circumstances and culture.’ Think about that for a moment. The position of conservatism, certainly in America, is that women are women and, as such, are constrained by gender from being proficient at certain kinds of tasks; blacks are blacks and, as such, have certain kinds of talents (sports, entertainment) while lacking certain other kinds of talents (logic, rationality, mathematics). While conservatism must give a nod to the idea of individualism, it views those of us who are black or women who defy the stereotype as the exception that proves the general rule. To the degree that conservatism concerns itself overly much with issues of equality, its concern is for the exceptions and not for the general population that fall under the same stereotype. It was once the case that part of what separated liberals from conservatives was that liberals had a belief that bordered on religious that one’s gender, race, or other circumstances of background did not define what one’s capacities were and that if society leveled the playing field, the talents of those considered inferior would be loosed to the benefit of all. No longer. Now I am supposed to bring certain talents and skills to the table as a black woman but they are constrained by those two adjectives. We might, for good measure, add that my being a butch lesbian brings two more sets of expectations but those four adjectives pretty much define the axis around which my talents and skills can be located. So when people find out that I’m a physical science (biomedical informatics) major they are genuinely surprised. When they find out that my worldview is entirely naturalistic they are shocked. My commitment to rationality and reason upset the apple cart of their expectations of what a black woman ‘should’ be. Keep in mind I am talking about liberals and other people ostensibly of the Left.

        If conservatives were less likely to be ruthlessly and gleefully Machiavellian in their approach to politics, then perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad. However, American conservatives have taken ruthless politics to whole (and wholly terrifying) new levels. At the very moment where the Left needs to be able to stand tall and say that “this will not happen, not on our watch” we have lost the language of moral outrage and lost the courage of our convictions. We can stand up and call Bush a Nazi, but we don’t really mean it because Bush wasn’t really a Nazi. We can say chant “2, 4, 6, 8, we say no to racist hate!” but we should not mistake this for actually standing up against racism. We can write, read and discuss articles about ‘unpacking the knapsack’ until the cows come home, but this does not actually move us back to the idea that each of us are individuals who should be judged upon our actions and not simply representative members of some sociologically significant group or another.

        I have talked to many a liberal or progressive who, when asked about how this kinder, gentler, softer, ‘everyone’s reality is true if they believe it’ stance works when confronted with a Fred Phelps stammer and then quickly change the subject. Why? Because they know, deep in their heart-of-hearts, that if the only thing that we can stand on is that we don’t like what Phelps says or represents instead of what he says being actually wrong then, the tender mercies of their hearts notwithstanding, there is no good reason for someone on the sidelines to pick a pro-gay rights stance over an anti-gay stance.

        One cannot effectively fight a ruthless opponent if one does not believe--with a surety--that one’s cause is a righteous one. I think that we have theorized ourselves into a place where we believe our cause is the one we should prefer, but not that it is actually a righteous cause.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A bit more about voting and bigotry

TPM (Talking points Memo) has obtained emailsthat were sent to a voter registration group in Texas. These emails lay bare how racially significant the voter intimidation tactics launched across the country are. This got me to thinking about voter apathy, staying home from the polls and why doing so plays into hands of the corporate plutocrats (in both parties), the GOP and the Tea Party. Before I explain, a little bit of history about why I think the vote is so important and why we, as citizens, should exercise the franchise.

My parents were born in 1922. On paper, both of my parents had the right to vote but, in reality, they had no such right that any official in their home states of Alabama and Louisiana were bound to respect. During WW II, my father served in the US Army, serving with distinction in Patton’s Third Army with the storied 761st Tank Battalion while my mother worked for Boeing building airplanes as a riveter. When the war ended, my father returned to the States and my mother returned to the Deep South. They would try to vote and each time be turned away either by a poll tax or a literacy test. In one quasi-humorous incident, some officials in Tuscaloosa, AL tried to administer a literacy test to my father. Of course, starting with something in English--not a problem at all. Then they handed him something in French--which he read, wrote and spoke fluently. Then they handed him something in German which he’d picked up just enough to muddle through. Finally, they got him on something written in Japanese which he could not read at all. One wonders if any of the men could read what was written on those pages. At any rate, the practical upshot of this is that a genuine war hero (Purple Heart and Bronze Star) did not cast a vote in the country of his birth until nearly a quarter century after he returned home from the War. A woman who had gone up north to work long days building bombers for her country was not considered citizen enough to exercise her right to vote until a quarter century later. The first national election my parents ever voted in was 1968--the first President they ever voted for was Humphrey. They were both 46 years old, three years older than I am now.

I vote because my parents could not vote for the same number of years that I have been voting. I vote because my grandparents could not vote. As a black woman I believe I owe it to the memory of my parents and grandparents to exercise the right they were, quite literally, willing to be (and were) beaten up over, threatened over, had a cross burnt on their lawn because of their civil rights activities and were eventually driven from the South because they refused to buy into the idea that they were neither human beings or citizens.

I understand the sentiment that “voting just encourages them” and, perhaps, in other times and in other nations that sentiment might be justified. However in this time and in this nation, given our history--and history that, remember, is not all that far removed from now--apathy is a luxury that we cannot afford. Regardless of our race, we cannot afford apathy but for black and brown people to indulge in apathy is to walk onto the freeway in the middle of the night, wearing black from head to toe and standing in the path of an oncoming truck. It might make you feel brave and empowered, right up to the point that tens of thousands of pounds slams into you at 60MPH. As I said in my earlier post, the GOP and the Tea Party want non-whites and queers to stay home from the ballot box. The dominant Washington narrative is that we will because we do not see any stake in this election for us. But we have a stake. If you are queer, your ability to marry, to keep your job if you are in the military (or a teacher in many states) are on the line. If you are black or brown, your stakes are too many to list but as a start look at who is fighting our wars--largely the enlisted people are black and brown and overwhelmingly poor.

Lastly, I hate to see bullies win and the Tea Party is chock full of bullies who celebrate ignorance. If you listen to the Beltway punditocracy, the Tea Party is “speaking for the American people” but are they? Are they speaking for you? Do you think that Sharon Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Carl Paladino, Joe Miller, Sarah Palin, Ken Buck, Marco Rubio or any other candidate with Tea Party blessing is speaking about YOUR concerns? They aren’t and you know they aren’t. They can win but only if we let them do so by staying away from the ballot box.

A Citizen's Plea

This blog post is going to go against the “Latinos for Reform” add and ask people TO vote. If you are black or Latina or queer--or if you know someone who is--please VOTE! The reason I ask--no, I beg--you to do so is quite simple: the Beltway media wants you to stay home. The GOP wants you to stay home. Why else would there already be voter suppression efforts underway in Texas and Illinois? Why would Latinos for Reform, run by a long-time GOP hack, put out an ad urging Latinos not to vote? (I’ll get to why queers should vote this time around in a bit.)

Look at the what has happened in just the last few months: In Virginia, a county GOP chair sent a racist emailshowing how is dog could get on welfare trading on every racist stereotype of blacks. In Illinois, operating under the cover of ‘voter integrity’ squads, GOP candidate Mark Kirk is sending lawyers into ‘vulnerable’ (read predominantly black or Hispanic) neighborhoods on Election Day to “insure the integrity of the vote”. In Nevada, Sharon Angle aired an ad showing three angry-faced Latinos sneaking through a hole in a fence. When challenged by some Latino students at a high school, she responded that they “looked Asian to her”. In Texas, the DOJ is investigating another organization for vote suppression. On Rachel Meadows’ show of 19 October, she detailed what is going on with race and how statements that should have ended people’s political careers now are not.

Now, what do all of these things have in common? The racism that has been deployed to fantastic electoral success by the GOP for forty years is once again on full display. What’s more, they’re not even trying to be subtle about it any longer. The things is, the GOP and the Beltway media think that people of color--particularly blacks and Hispanics--are stupid. They think that we can’t see racism when it’s clearly present. However, at the same time, they know something about black and brown people at the polls--more than any other group except rich whites--it is exceedingly difficult to trick us into voting against our own self-interest. While the GOP’s strategy of loving Jesus more than the next guy has worked wonders with whites across the economic spectrum, it has been far less effective with blacks and with Hispanics. The GOP and the Beltway punditocracy expect Latinos to stay away from the ballot this term--what’s more they want you to because that reinforces the dominant narrative that the Democrats have blown it irredeemably. These same people expect blacks to stay away from the polls because we just aren’t interested unless there is a high profile of one of ‘us’ running. I exhort you, I plead with you, I beg you, to upset their narrative. Go out and vote. Take someone with you. Asks your family and friends to vote and ask them to make sure that someone goes with them as well. Depending upon where you are, there may be people who try to intimidate you away from voting--don’t let them! The cops are not going to be arresting people who are going into or out of the polling place. If you have an overdue parking ticket, you won’t be hauled away by the police. The most radically right-wing group of candidates are running for office, the media has already counted the votes and decided that the Democrats deserve to lose and will do so horribly. We black and brown people can swing this election and upset the dominant cultural narrative--but we have to get out there and VOTE!

Now, on to my queer brothers and sisters. Has Obama followed through on his promises? NO! Am I disappointed and angry? YES! However, we know--because they’ve told us--what the Tea Partiers would do if they had their way. Three state GOP platforms (Texas, Maine and Montana) have as planks making homosexuality illegal. Needless to say, gay marriage would be still born and DADT, on its last legs, will be revived with a Republican/Tea Party controlled Congress. I know all the arguments in favor of not voting but our nation cannot afford us sitting this out. I am not given to wild hyperbole nor am I given to indulging conspiracy theories. I’m not one who pulls out ‘fascist’ whenever I see someone with whom I disagree with. However, this movement of hyper conservatives is deeply scary and if we sit this out, they will have themselves a Congress. If they get themselves a Congress they can get themselves a Presidency in 2012.

If that happens, the corporate donors behind the Tea Party will get what they want--more outsourcing and that will lead to more economic distress. How long do you think it takes before the GOP/Tea Party decides that there are three pillars to the problems of America--Latinos, Muslims and Queers and decide to pass laws to do something about it? You’re already seeing this happen to two of those three groups. As queers, can we really afford to presume that we aren’t next in line?

Please, for whatever it is that you love, VOTE!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Christine O'Donnell loves the Constitution so much...

...that she has no idea what’s actually in the document. It’s like ‘love at first sight’ on steroids. It’s ‘love without sight at all’. Last night in her debate with Chris Coons who is running against her for Senate, the subject of the First Amendment came up. Ms. O’Donnell apparently loves the Constitution and wants to preserve it so much that she doesn’t even feel the need to know what’s in it! It seems that she was unaware that the words “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...” wasn’t actually in the Constitution or, perhaps, was in some liberal bastardization of the document. Anyway, the video is just TOO perfect.

The good part starts at about 2:37 but the whole thing is worth watching for the train wreck.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Seven is larger than Zero

I was saddened and frustrated with your comments regarding people of faith and their perpetuation of bullying. As someone who loves the Lord and does not support gay marriage, I can honestly say I was heartbroken to hear about the young man who took his own life.
If your message is that we should not judge people based on their sexual preference, how do you justify judging entire groups of people for any other reason (including their faith)? There is no part of me that took any pleasure in what happened to that young man, and I know for a fact that is true of many other people who disagree with your viewpoint.

October 13, 2010 : Savage Love | The A.V. Club,46294/?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=feeds&utm_source=type_savage-love

The above quote was posted on the Savage Love blog. My partner brought this to my attention and I immediately asked “to your knowledge, how many Christians have committed suicide in the last, say, 30 days because some queer person said something harsh about Christians?” Her response was, “None that I can recall.” In the last month, however, seven queer young people have killed themselves because they were queer. They killed themselves because they live in a society where people think it is perfectly acceptable to put homosexuals in the same category as rapists, murderers, pedophiles or practitioners of bestiality. They killed themselves because either their churches or churches in their communities teach that homosexuals are less-than, less-worthy, that our relationships are not real relationships and that our love is not actually love. They killed themselves because they grew up in a society where the dominant religion teaches that God hates them. Seven to zero. Now, I’ll admit that I have not gotten better than a “B” in math since I was in elementary school but I’m reasonably certain that seven is larger than zero. Seven queer suicides because of the teachings of Christianity and the actions of Christians and zero Christian suicides because of the actions of queers.

Now, I understand that as a West Coast liberal, I’m supposed to be ‘nice’ about this. I’m supposed to either dance around the issue and pretend that it isn’t the teachings that these poor, dead kids heard in the church pew that contributed to their deaths or I’m supposed to chalk it up to an unnamed and ill-defined ‘worldview’. But I’m not going to do that. Of course, it should (but won’t) go without saying that I’m not submitting the butcher’s bill to every Christian on the planet. I’m not saying that all Christians hate gays and I’m certain that a lot of Christians believe that homosexuality is morally wrong but still have queer friends. I know that because I have friends who are Christians and who believe homosexuality is wrong.

However, it would be dishonest to pretend that religion had nothing to do with this or to pretend that I have no idea what these kids went through. I’m generally loath to talk about my deep personal experiences on this blog because I think that my thoughts on matters are more interesting to others than my emotional states. However, this situation demands an exception and for me to step out of my comfort zone.

Three times between the ages of 15 and 22, I walked right up to the door of suicide, knocked and for different reasons each time, turned back at the last minute. The first time, I was 15, and was on a medicine that contained belladonna to settle my stomach because I had stressed myself out so much that my stomach was overproducing acid--at fifteen. I did some research, found out what belladonna was, realized that the remaining fifteen pills would probably be enough to do me in, and so I laid my pills out in a row on my chest-of-drawers that also served as my nightstand with a glass of water, turned out the lights and, because I was fascinated by the code of bushido at the time, prepared myself to die. I fell asleep. It was the first time I could remember falling immediately asleep in years (normally it took me between one and three hours every night to fall asleep). The second time, I had just gotten divorced, at this point I was really wrestling with my sexuality. I went up on the roof of the office I worked at, got on the ledge, and then was staring down at this beautiful blue Mustang which was what I was going to impact when I jumped. One of the security guards passed underneath my shadow, he called his opposite number inside, who called the cops who came and took me to the hospital which let me go home. The last time it was near the end of the year, the first one since the divorce and the last one I had in the closet. I was alone in my apartment and I sat down in front of the oven with my Zippo lighter in one hand, the phone cradled against my shoulder and my other hand on the knob of the stove talking with this wonderful young man named Peter at suicide prevention. He asked me if I could think of a single reason NOT to turn the knob and blow myself to kingdom come. The only thing I could come up with was that Christmas had just happened and my little 8 unit apartment building was old and wood-framed. It would’ve gone up like a stack of tissue paper. I told Peter that none of my neighbors had done anything to deserve losing all their stuff and their Christmas presents and being thrown out on the street in the coldest winter in 20 years. Peter told me that if I could see how my actions would affect others even in the midst of pain so great I was willing to die to make it stop, I was a compassionate human being and that the world could use more compassion. That was enough. It caused me to turn around and walk away from death one more time.

I wanted to kill myself because I was queer and because my culture and my church told me that being queer was just about the worst thing one could be. It was a sin before God and a betrayal of the black community (because I wouldn’t be making strong, black babies). I wanted to kill myself because at school I was teased mercilessly for being different--even though I was not out to myself, I was sufficiently gender non-conforming to be targeted for the full treatment. I wanted to die because I thought it was the only way of preventing God from hating me for being queer.

Now, it’s been two decades since that last, long winter’s night but I recall the whys of my mental state with clarity. One does not spend a decade suicidal and not recall why. To say that religion had no part to do with what I endured would be to lie--religion had everything to do with it. I understand that some of you Gentle Readers may find this uncomfortable--so be it--it does not change the facts on the ground in any significant fashion. It was religion that drove me to the brink of suicide and rational thought that brought me to wholeness.

I understand that the really virulently anti-gay people don’t want to be labeled as bigots. I get that. However, the segregationists didn’t think they were bigots either and yet they were bigots.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Asher Brown, Justin Aaberg, Billy Lucas, Cody Barker, Seth Walsh, Raymond Chase, and Aiyisha Hassan. None of them lived to see 25.

Stay rational.

Emotions of mass distraction

When we believe for unworthy reasons, we weaken our powers of self-control, of doubting, and of fairly weighing the evidence. There is a great danger to society here, not just in believing the wrong things, but by losing the habit of testing things, and hence to sink back into savagery by becoming a credulous society.
 (John W. Loftus)

I begin with this epigraph because I think that it points directly at the syndrome I’m going to talk about. While normally this blog is more about science and American politics than it is about things that happen in community forums, in this instance there is enough cross-over that I think it deserves its own post. This has to do with an ongoing issue with where I am a moderator. The moderation team banned a user late last week because she had taken financial advantage of a couple of users. What is more, when it was clear that the jig was up for this person she fell back on what she has used time and time again--“I’m dying of cancer!” In fact, to bolster the story she posted a picture of herself hooked up to an IV drip in the hospital. When the picture was removed, she then reported a picture of another person who was using a vampire photo dripping blood as their avatar. She claimed that this was ‘triggering’ to her. When the hammer finally came down, she went on Facebook and began claiming that the moderation team at BFP--and two people in particular--had banned a woman with cancer for no apparent reason implying, in fact, that she was banned because she allegedly has cancer. It is this kind of emotional manipulation and the fact that it is sadly effective that I want to address in this post.

While Samuel Johnson said that ‘patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels’, I would submit to you, gentle reader (all three or four of you) that emotional manipulation and emotional hostage taking is a sanctuary for the scoundrel and that it will welcome her into its bosom and hold it close through the harsh nights as the wolves of fact howl outside the doors. It works because it forces any person who would not be clinically diagnosed as a sociopath to stop and question themselves to make sure that they are not being heartless or cruel. It is a fantastic way to get people to flock to one’s side, particularly if there is some clouds and fog swirling around the issue, making it hard to see the large picture. In such a gloom the emotionally manipulative statement is like a lighthouse to mariners except that when they get close to what they believe is safe harbor, they find--usually too late--that it is an illusion cast by sirens who sit upon the rocks waiting for the ship to ground. It is a fantastically effective strategy made even more so by certain dynamics holding sway in online queer spaces where we are encouraged and exhorted to be supportive at any and all costs. Supportive, in this connotation, means being unquestioning and putting one’s critical thinking facilities in neutral or, better yet, tossing them out the window entirely.

If one can invoke some disease--particularly one that can be played out for a while, then one is in the cat-bird seat. Cancer is fantastic for this kind of thing because there are so many different types of cancer, people are justifiably terrified of them and the disease can run so many different courses. For some, they are diagnosed and are dead a year later. For others, they are diagnosed and the cancer goes into remission only to spring back with a vengeance. You can milk sympathy for quite some time with this. Contrast this with, say, Hepatitis C which does not have the emotional cache of cancer. We view cancer has something that happens to people, we think of Hep C as something people bring on themselves. So if one wants to gain sympathy for one’s illness, and one has a disease that does not give one much in the way of emotional mojo, it is awfully tempting to invoke a disease that garners more sympathy.

However, whatever the disease it does not actually excuse behavior. The argument that the banned woman is attempting to make is that she should not have been banned because she has cancer regardless of what her actual behavior may or may not have been. But is that actually the case? Is it true that having a terminal condition excuses people’s behavior? We must answer, with conviction, that the answer is no because every human being alive was born with a terminal condition called life. You will die, I will die, and from the moment of your conception you are on a one-way journey toward the end of your life. Just because some people know that their end will come sooner rather than later does not and should not exempt them from behaving like a decent human being or facing the consequences if they choose not to do so. However, the emotionally manipulative tactic being deployed in this sorry little drama seems to be designed to short-circuit people’s intuitions about this. Somehow, for reasons left unexplained, we are supposed to suspend all critical thinking, all rationality and all the other mental tools we use in order to determine if someone is trying to pull the wool over our eyes the minute someone says that they have this or that terminal disease.

Now, some reading this might try to argue that I’m minimizing having a terminal illness--I’m not. I’m merely arguing that having a terminal illness is not a ‘get out of jail free’ card. The rest of us are not obliged to believe any given statement X that one might make just because one has, say, MS anymore than anyone is obliged to believe what I say just because I have hypertension.

Something I’ve learned in my twenty years online is this; when standing on the sidelines of an argument, attempting to determine which side might be correct, watch the behavior of partisans on each side. The side that can only resort to jerking your emotional chain is almost certainly the party that is in the wrong. One group of partisans has compared this sorry incident to what the Nazi’s did (it isn’t) and a lynching (it isn’t and as the niece of a man who WAS lynched I find that comparison insulting) and the other group of partisans has tried to be restrained in their descriptions and/or rebuttals and hewed as close to the facts as is possible. Putting aside that one of the partisans is (allegedly) terminally ill, which side sounds like it’s just trying to deal with the situation and which side sounds like it is trying to win by jerking people’s emotional chains?

The good news is that all of us have the ability to resist attacks on our common sense from emotions of mass distraction, we need only step back and look at the issues and at the behaviors with a critical eye.

Stay Rational

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Enforcement Must Be Halted, Federal Judge Rules

This is why conservatives hate the judiciary so much--when it comes down to it, the judiciary is obliged to treat citizens like, well, citizens and not merely political targets of opportunity. Today a federal judge blocked continuing enforcement of DADT! As a former soldier booted out of the military for being queer, this made me get misty-eyed. No matter what else happens, today is a good day.

SAN DIEGO — A federal judge issued a worldwide injunction Tuesday stopping enforcement of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, ending the military's 17-year-old ban on openly gay troops.
U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips' landmark ruling was widely cheered by gay rights organizations that credited her with getting accomplished what President Obama and Washington politics could not
"This order from Judge Phillips is another historic and courageous step in the right direction, a step that Congress has been noticeably slow in taking," said Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans.
He was the sole named veteran plaintiff in the case along with the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights organization that filed the lawsuit in 2004 to stop the ban's enforcement.
U.S. Department of Justice attorneys have 60 days to appeal. Legal experts say the department is under no legal obligation to do so and could let Phillips' ruling stand.

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Enforcement Must Be Halted, Federal Judge Rules

Friday, August 27, 2010

Glenn Beck: We knew Martin Luther King, We loved Martin Luther King. You, sir, are no Martin Luther King.

Tomorrow is the 47th anniversary of the March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs. Glenn Beck is going to attempt to hijack this day for his conservative agenda and has, to that end, been spreading a meme that conservatives--white conservatives--were the driving force behind the civil rights movement. This meme is false. They weren’t. Conservatives--not necessarily Republicans but Conservatives--were vehemently opposed to the movement and its goals. I have, in other posts, quoted William F. Buckley who articulated the conservative opposition to civil rights and so will not belabor the point here. However, I cannot--as the child of parents who were at the march with my elder sister (who was only a few months old at the time)--sit idly by and not try to counter this meme in some small way.

If one were to listen to FOX news or conservative rhetoric generally, one would think that the only significant words King ever uttered were “I have a dream...content of our character”. That’s it. Well, the man had much, much more to say and if he were alive today conservatives would pillory King as being so Marxist that they would consider Obama the second coming of Adam Smith in comparison. At any rate, I thought it might be useful to post--in all of its glory--the full text of King’s “I have a dream” speech.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Yvette Carnell: Low Black Male Graduation Rates Indicate a Failure in Faith, Not Circumstances

This is an eloquent and wonderful statement about lowered expectations within the black community, specifically as it relates to our young men. This was originally posted at Huffington Post.
Who was the first person in your life to introduce you to the concept of failure? Now, who was the first person in your life to teach you that failure was not only possible, but probable?
If you consider yourself successful by any measure of the Western standard, then you were probably never introduced to the Negro narrative of obfuscation, which teaches the inevitability that outward circumstances will methodically undermine any constructive steps you take in the direction of upward mobility.
All varieties of Negro head honchos, from shepherds of churchgoing hallelujah flock, to old timey civil rights activists, preach the defeatist mantra of how "the man" is out to get them and the variety of ways that our system keeps a "brotha" down.
Unfortunately, it now appears that this chorus of pessimism has entrenched itself in the minds of African American young men, teachers, and even parents.
According to a recent study by the Schott Foundation for Public Education, less than 50% of black males graduated from high school during the 2007-2008 school year. Even worse, according to the report, "(M)ore than twice as many black students are classified as 'mentally retarded' in spite of research demonstrating that the percentages of students from all groups are approximately the same at each intelligence level."
It is clear from the data that young black men are throwing in the towel at record numbers. These numbers should be anything but surprising considering how the black community has systematically lowered expectations for black men on every conceivable level.
In education, we feed young black men bleak statistics which forewarn that he will be killed or imprisoned before age 25, making the pursuit of education futile. In love, black women welcome the most pitiful representations of manhood into their hearts (and bedrooms) with open arms. And in our families, it is now widely accepted for black single moms to raise their kids alone and leave the court system to do battle on their behalf for child support - but what of male parental support?
Even the language we use to refer to our beloved black boys bespeaks his littleness and certain demise. The term 'young black male' is cold and devoid of any true emotion.
If we choose to push for a transformation of thought which undoes the damage of the over-empathizers, apologists, and recklessness in our community, then we must teach young black boys that life has meaning under all conditions. To suffer is a small thing, but to suffer without meaning is despair, and that should be avoided at all costs.
We must also implant in them the truest of all human truths; that they alone are responsible for their choices, and that although hustling has been painted as the clear choice for all warrior hearts, it is not. It is, in truth, a coward's exit. His flee from the battlefield.
Famed psychiatrist Viktor Frankl once mused that "If we take man as he is, we make him worse, but if we overestimate, we promote him to what he really can be." What our education system, homes, and churches are missing are idealists. Believe him grand, and he will be that. Believe him held captive by statistics and circumstances, and he will be just that.
You see, we save young black boys not by sharing their opinion of their own lives, but by nourishing a grander dream for them than the one they currently dream for themselves.
Our freedom, their freedom, lies in perception. You can either allow them to believe that their current conditions are building them up, or tearing you down. But in order to succeed, young black men must be taught that their lives are not subject to the whims of societal laws alone. They must be lived to have meaning.
It's time that educators and advocates alike tone down the rhetoric with regard to the circumstances young African-American men face, and turn the conversation in the direction of what they already have - inside. If we lose this generation of young black men, it won't be because of society, or our crumbling education system, but because we stopped believing.

Yvette Carnell: Low Black Male Graduation Rates Indicate a Failure in Faith, Not Circumstances

NYPD Charges Man With Hate Crime After He Allegedly Stabbed Muslim Cab Driver | TPMMuckraker

Just saw this at Talking Points Memo. And so it, if anyone is tempted to connect this incident to, say, the controversy involving the Cordoba House community center let’s just stop that right here. This incident is the result of (everyone sing it, you know the words!) “one bad apple”. And when there is another incident--a firebombing at a mosque or what-have-you that will also be “one bad apple”. However, should some person who is the target of anti-Muslim violence strike back then that is all Muslims.

The New York Police Department has confirmed to TPM that a cab driver in Manhttan was allegedly stabbed by a passenger who asked if the cabbie was Muslim, and says the incident is being treated as a hate crime. The suspect has been charged with attempted murder and other crimes.
According to Detective Marc Nell, at 6:12 pm last night, the driver picked up Michael Enright, 21, of Brewster, NY, at the intersection of 24th Street and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan. The cab proceeded to drive north, and Enright asked the driver, who Nell identified as a 43-year-old Asian male, if he was Muslim. After the driver responded that he was, Enright allegedly stabbed him repeatedly with a Leatherman tool, according to police.
"[Enright] stabbed the driver in the throat, right arm, left forearm, right thumb and upper lip," Nell said.
According to police, the driver called 911, and stopped the cab on 3rd Avenue between 40th and 41st streets, managing to lock Enright inside until police arrived.
Nell told TPM that the cab driver is in stable condition, and that Enright has been charged with "attempted murder two as a hate crime, assault with a weapon as a hate crime, aggravated harassment second degree because of race and religion, and criminal possession of a weapon."
Nell could not confirm that Enright had admitted to asking the driver if he was Muslim.

NYPD Charges Man With Hate Crime After He Allegedly Stabbed Muslim Cab Driver | TPMMuckraker

Nature is altogether more clever than we are

Earlier this summer, I made a post on the BFP message boards talking about the Gulf oil spill and how bacteria could be deployed to clean up the oil. At the time, I was thinking of oil-eating bacteria that lived in soil being adapted to live in salt water. What I didn’t realize (but probably should have) is that nature had already hit on this little trick and there are already bacteria that live in the deep, cold water and love to eat oil. NPR did a story on them this morning.
There are some encouraging signs from the Gulf of Mexico that bacteria are consuming the underwater oil plume from the broken BP well. The news comes just days after oceanographer Christopher Reddy and a team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said they had found a big underwater oil plume in May and June, but no signs of oil-eating bacteria.
At the time, Reddy said microbes are about as predictable as teenagers.  "Microbes are pretty selective in how they eat oil," he explained.  "Sometimes they kick in; sometimes they don't. Sometimes they do the easiest work and they don't do the hard work."

The thing that I'm learning from this project is that there are no shortage of surprises from the microbial point of view.

- Benjamin Van Mooy, scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
The hard work is what scientists had been hoping to see — bacteria consuming the more toxic chemicals in the oil plume and rendering them harmless.  Reddy said sooner or later, the bugs should show up.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A somewhat surprising incident

This is Gay Pride month. In celebration of this fact, my partner and I hung out our rainbow flag--the one that looks sort of like the stars and stripes, except a double-woman symbol replaces the stars and the rainbow replaces the red and white stripes. This was Saturday afternoon, in between my never ending homework in preparation for finals week (almost done, yay!). That evening we were watching a movie with the windows open and we heard someone walking by, talking very loudly. They interrupted their conversation to comment ‘f-ing homos live there’. I have to say this shook us both up a bit. This is the second blatantly homophobic incident we have experienced here in Portland in the last few years. (The first occurred a couple of years ago when someone threw a bottle at us from a passing car.)

We have lived in the Centennial neighborhood for a year now and really love it (my commute to Hillsboro is a little long but that’s another post) but this incident gave me a moment of pause. Now, we have a dog who is a fantastic guard dog--great during the day when we’re not home, not so much at night--and an alarm system. The people right across the street and right next door to us know us and know when we’re not home so I’m not too worried about someone doing property damage or breaking in. Still, in a city that prides itself on its tolerance and diversity just that someone would be so bigoted to say that was a little disconcerting.

We’re not scared, just concerned.

On another note, the other lesbian couple that lives around the corner from us has moved which was disappointing. Although I did see one of them in her car (recognized the rainbow sticker and color) driving down Division on my way to work.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday on the Patio

It’s Sunday morning and I’m sitting on my patio getting ready to do my homework. Yesterday, I spent a good part of the day working on my chem lab drawing Lewis structures for 13 different molecules, now it’s time to do the online assignments and then get cracking on the math. I’ll probably be out of it tomorrow since I’m going to the dentist and know that there’s going to be pain.

On happier notes, my life is really sweet. We’ve been in the house for a year (Thanks Todd!) and we’ve now had Angus for a year. Tonight Jaime is going to give him a meat-cake for his ‘Gotcha day’.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Stand up for free speech

Lars Vilks, the cartoonist who drew Mohammed as a dog, has been attacked while lecturing on free speech. He was not seriously harmed. There is a video clip showing the attack, the chanting spectators, and the police quelling the mob.
The YouTube video is below.

I am a Liberal and so first and foremost, I have to stand up for free speech. If some folks are offended by the image of Mohammed with a dog’s body, then there are other ways to respond more in keeping the values of liberal democracy. Assaulting the cartoonist isn’t on that list. In further news, it turns out that an Al Qaeda front group is offering $100,000 for someone to murder Vilks!
Maybe not today, perhaps not tomorrow, but at *some* point we’re going to have take a stand and assert that free speech is valuable enough to US to risk offending the sensibilities of Muslims. If we can’t, if we do not value free speech even that much, how can we call ourselves liberal at all?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Louisiana Drilling Rig Overturns: Accident At Mobile Inland Drilling Unit

Well, I'm not saying that it IS Obama's fault but let's look at this.

Obama -- Oil. Both begin with O! But wait, what color is oil? It's black. And what did Obama put as his race on his census form? That's right, black! So, how likely is it that a BLACK man with whose name begins with "O" would JUST so happen to be president when a lot of OIL, which also begins with "O" and is also black, is spilled into the Gulf of MEXICO which ALSO, one can't help but notice, has an "O" in it!

Now, I'm not making accusations! I'm just asking questions! And Obama is a DemOcrat! And DemOcrats don't want Oil drilling off the coast. So what better way to get the American people to believe that America shouldn't drill for OIL off our coasts than for there to be a big "OIL" spill which leaks lots of the BLACK stuff into the gulf of MEXICO.

Since we're on that subject, why can't they get AMERICAN oil? Why does Obama want drilling of oil in the gulf of MEXICO! It's MEXICO! And what else comes from MEXICO? MEXICANS! How do we know that this isn't just an elaborate scheme to smuggle more illegals into America? I mean a lot of the Mexicans are brown. Brown begins with B. Black begins with B. And Barack Obama's name begins with a B.

I'm just asking questions!

"I'm Glenn Beck and I approve this message."
About Gulf Oil Spill
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gladys gets some service

I’ve been a bad Audi owner! I was 3K miles overdue for service. Fortunately, my car is in really good shape and I didn’t have to have all the major stuff done (that’s another service about 6K miles down the road). I have to say, the folks at Sunset Imports really do know how to take care of their customers. Every time I’ve been here they’ve been helpful, explained what was going to happen and I never got the feeling I was being talked down to because I’m a woman.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A House Divided, Again

Another thought:

Why is it that the 'will of the people' only matters when it is *conservatives* who feel like their will is being ignored? Something over half of the American people want a single-payer healthcare plan and we didn't get it. But, for some strange reason, THAT isn't seen as ignoring the will of the people. Can any conservative--Mr. Blankley included--explain that to me? If I were opposed to the health care bill because it was 'socialism' (which it isn't) then the vote Sunday would be in direct violation of what I and others who constitute the People wanted but if I am opposed to the health care bill because it didn't go far enough then that doesn't matter?

Put another way why is it that letting corporations run roughshod over our democratic republic is an expression of the 'will of the people' but wanting to rein in corporations is isn't?
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Come out, come out, whoever you are!

James “The Amazing” Randi has now come out of the closet! He did so in a short but poignant post on his blog Swift, from which I quote below.

Written by James Randi   
Sunday, 21 March 2010 12:37
Well, here goes. I really resent the term, but I use it because it’s recognized and accepted.
I’m gay.
From some seventy years of personal experience, I can tell you that there’s not much “gay” about being homosexual. For the first twenty years of my life, I had to live in the shadows, in a culture that was — at least outwardly — totally hostile to any hint of that variation of life-style. At no time did I choose to adopt any protective coloration, though; my cultivation of an abundant beard was not at all a deception, but part of my costume as a conjuror.
I have always been an admirer of Randi’s. I became even more impressed when I found out about a stand he took for the cause of racial justice some 50 years ago. Now there’s this.
Thank you Randi, you truly are amazing!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Conservatives Re-Write Declaration of Independence

Your post is almost a perfect example of WHY these issues are so important. IF it were true that two people are treated equally regardless of race, color, gender, sexual orientation in all circumstances you would have a point. However, that is not the case. I have spent my entire adult working life in environments where I was THE woman (or one of a few) or THE black person (or one of maybe 2) and I have been discriminated against in hiring. I have had people express surprise that I was raised by a black family because my speech and diction are very precise.

What's more to the degree that people ARE treated equally before the law that has been because of the efforts of *liberals* and that work was opposed by *conservatives*. From Bill Buckley defending segregation on down, it has been conservatives who were opposed to equal rights. Conservatives would like us to forget that inconvenient fact. Please note, if you bother to respond, that I said conservatives not Republicans.

Voting Rights Act? Championed by liberals, opposed by conservatives.

Equal Housing? See Above

Equal Employment Opportunity? See above

Equal Rights Amendment? ditto

Elimination of miscegenation laws? (laws against interracial marriage) Ditto

Desegregation? Ditto.

Conservatives like to pretend that they were *always* in favor of the above, but they weren't and they also like to pretend that the fight for those manifestations of equality were and are a fight for 'equal outcomes'. They aren't.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Comparing Office Suites

So, I have both iWork ’09 and Office 2008 installed on my MBP. I go back and forth between the two suites and so, just for giggles, I’m going to do a comparison between the two. For the next two weeks anything I need to do in the way of creating documents I’m going to use Microsoft’s product. After that I’ll use Apple’s and see which ends up comes out on top.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why I'm a progressive...

This wonderful and clear-eyed contrast between progressive and conservative ideologies offered at Huffington Post by Mike Lux.
Conservatives' answer to the question "Am I my brother's keeper?" is a resounding Hell NO. And that is the essential divide between them and the progressivism which Beck describes as a cancer: progressives believe that all of us are in this together. When our child is weakened by a chronic illness, or our parent by old age, we don't abandon them in the wilderness so that the lion can eat them up (and then laugh about it). When our brother stumbles and hits bottom, we don't stand back and see if he can pull himself up by his own bootstraps, we lend him a helping hand. When our sister is abused and treated unfairly by an employer, we don't tell her she's on her own, we work with her to make things fairer. We believe in a community that helps each other survive and prosper, because we don't want to live in a world where only the strongest and wealthiest and -- yes -- luckiest survive. We don't have fantasies that all our success is of our own making because we know that without good families, good neighbors, good school and libraries and roads and bridges paid for by public dollars, that without all that, we'd be much less likely to make it on our own. In spite of Beck's paranoia, we have no problem with people being successful. I have never once heard any progressive attack Steve Jobs or Eric Schmidt for their success, or attack the local small businessperson making a good living because he or she is supplying products a community wants. But what we do believe is that those lucky enough to be successful have a responsibility to give something back to their fellow citizens.
That just about sums it up.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hak-Shing William Tam, Prop. 8 Backer, Claims Gays More Likely To Be Pedophiles

This trial reminds me of nothing so much as the 2005 Kitzmiller vs. Dover School Board evolution case. In that instance you once again had Christians going into courtrooms and 'lying for Jesus' trying to disguise their *obvious* religious motivations. I expect that the judge in this case will deliver the kind of epic legal smackdown that was delivered by Judge Jones in the Dover case who commented that he was stunned 'at the breathtaking inanity' of the school board.

I understand WHY the pro-Prop 8 side of this case didn't want their positions broadcast, it's not because they thought they would be subject to ridicule it's because they realized that if they testified under oath their bigotry would be made plain and clear for all to see.


Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Can a Science-minded Child be Raised Religious?


I think you are taking the word 'faith' and stretching it to its breaking point. Let me try to explain. I'm a biologist. I recognize that, ultimately, my field is predicated upon chemistry 'working' and that chemistry working is predicated upon physics working. Now, I know the chemistry I need but nowhere near as much as a chemist. I know the physics I need to know and maybe a little bit more but that is nothing compared to a physicist. I *trust* that my colleagues in chemistry and physics have got their sums right and so, on a day-to-day basis, don't think about, for instance, quantum mechanics as it relates to populations even though, at the most fundamental level of understanding, populations of organisms are made of quantum mechanical systems.

Now, let's say that physics *consistently* failed to error correct or that chemistry consistently failed to understand the properties of various compounds. If, after consistent failures, I STILL insisted that physics and chemistry were sound THEN I would be acting on faith that *eventually* those disciplines would get their collective acts together.
About Religion
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Of COURSE it's not racist

A new professional basketball league called the All-American Basketball Alliance (AABA) sent out a press release on Sunday saying that it intends to start its inaugural season in June, with teams in 12 U.S. cities. However, the AABA is different from other sports leagues because only players who are “natural born United States citizens with both parents of Caucasian race are eligible to play in the league.” AABA commissioner Don “Moose” Lewis insists that he’s not racist, but he just wants to get away from the “street-ball” played by “people of color” and back to “fundamental basketball.” Lewis cited the recent incidents of bad behavior by NBA players, implying that such actions would never happen with white players:
“There’s nothing hatred about what we’re doing,” he said. “I don’t hate anyone of color. But people of white, American-born citizens are in the minority now. Here’s a league for white players to play fundamental basketball, which they like.” [...]
He pointed out recent incidents in the NBA, including Gilbert Arenas’ indefinite suspension after bringing guns into the Washington Wizards locker room, as examples of fans’ dissatisfaction with the way current professional sports are run.
“Would you want to go to the game and worry about a player flipping you off or attacking you in the stands or grabbing their crotch?” he said. “That’s the culture today, and in a free country we should have the right to move ourselves in a better direction.”

What he means to say, of course, is that he doesn’t go out of his way to burn crosses on lawns or anything like that. Since racism is burning a cross on a lawn and he hasn’t done that (lately) he can’t be a racist. See how easy a post-racial society is?