Saturday, February 28, 2009
That sleeveless look reminds me a lot of Jackie Kennedy; for those who care about such things, here's a Washington Post story on the two women and their role as fashion leaders, with some more pictures.
Since the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled last week that same-sex couples should be allowed to wed, many commentators have reiterated their belief that gay and lesbian couples should be excluded from marriage for religious reasons. But why stop there? If marriages recognized by the Commonwealth must be based on biblical principles, then it’s clear more changes to the law are needed. Below are seven suggested amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution that would bring Bay State family law in line with the Bible.
• Because Jacob and David each had more than one wife, marriage in Massachusetts shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women of his choosing (II Sam. 3:2-5; Gen.29:17-28).
• A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is found not to be a virgin, "they shall take her to the door of her father’s house and her fellow citizens shall stone her to death" (Deut. 22:13-21). (Here, Governor Romney’s resurrection of the death penalty will come in handy.)
• As Rehoboam, David, and Solomon all possessed concubines, a married man in Massachusetts shall also have the right to keep concubines in addition to his wife or wives (I Kings 11:3; II Sam. 5:13; II Chron. 11:21).
• When Moses said, "Every one of you must put to death those of his people who have committed themselves to the Baal of Peor," he was forbidding the marriage of a believer to a nonbeliever (Gen. 24:3; Neh. 10:30).
• Christ said, "What God has united, man must not divide." Therefore, neither the Constitution nor any state law of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts shall permit divorce (Deut. 22:19; Mark 10:9-12).
• If a married man dies childless, the widow must not marry a stranger outside of the family. Instead, the dead man’s brother must marry the widow. If the brother refuses to marry the widow or refuses to give her children, the law shall fine him one sandal, and he will be forced to go about wearing one sandal for the rest of his days, and he shall be called the Unshod One of Massachusetts (Deut. 25:5-10; Gen. 38:6-10).
• If there are no acceptable men to be found in the town, a woman shall ply her father with wine and have sex with him in order to produce progeny to carry on the family name (Gen. 19:31-36).
see more pwn and owned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures
Actually, I think this one is a Win. It's clean snow, you notice. Pretty clever idea. I'd have bought one just for the hell of it.
see more pwn and owned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures
And finally . . . there's something you should know about the President's family background:
Friday, February 27, 2009
Okay, so sometimes you just feel stuck in a rut and want a taste of something different. That's cool, the weekend's here, be yourself. Go your own way.
Have fun. Later, guys.
(More photos of Justino Esteves, definitely NSFW)
Based on Mart Crowley's 1968 play of the same name, this shows what big-city gay life was like on the eve of Stonewall: catty, campy, bawdy, bitchy, flippant, and flamboyant. So what's changed? It's amazing to see how all the same types of people are still very much with us - and you'll be mentally intrigued comparing them to your friends. And yourself.
From a review by Gary Morris at Bright Lights Film Journal:
This scathing but ultimately sympathetic group portrait of a gay birthday party that virtually self-destructs before the terrified eyes of mainstream audiences was the first Hollywood feature to take a close-up look at queer culture. In spite of a plethora of topical or dated references — "midnight cowboys," marihuana hidden in Band-Aid boxes, Maria Montez — the film is brilliantly acted and has an emotional clarity and power that hasn't dimmed over the years.
Much of what makes The Boys in the Band so enjoyable today is Mart Crowley's superbly dishy dialogue, which in sheer volume and vitriol preempts all its predecessors, gay and straight. Even classics like All About Eve, touted for its hothouse script, pales beside the boys' barrage of verbal pyrotechnics. Words are both the weapons and the armor in their endless skirmishes, and many of these words have found a permanent place in the culture. Surely not a day goes by without some queen, somewhere, quoting Emory's "Who do you have to fuck to get a drink around here?" or Harold's acid bon mot, "Michael has countercharm." And even straight audiences no doubt filed away for later use comments like Michael's indisputable "One thing you can say for masturbation; you certainly don't have to look your best." . . .
The Boys in the Band was not as big a success commercially as some may think, given its secure place in the firmament of instantly recognizable modern films. Some of its business may have been preempted by queer critics, who were among the harshest. (Friedkin would learn a lesson from this; Cruising begins with a groveling disclaimer that says the film is "not meant to be representative of the whole" gay community.) The late Vito Russo, author of The Celluloid Closet, no doubt spoke for many in being conflicted about it, calling it both "not positive" and "fair" in the same sentence. But ultimately he condemns it as a kind of Green Pastures for queers and a lamentable exercise in self-loathing. This narrow interpretation misses the sheer magnetism, humor, and power of these super-queens. Missing too from most discussions of the film is the fact that, as tied to its time and its subculture as it is, Friedkin pushes the drama onto a wider canvas of human frailty and limitations and lost dreams. "I never understood any of it" is Michael's bitter parting comment, pointing to larger questions that far outweigh the nagging little ones of what sweater to wear and how much to pay the hustler.
It's not politcally correct, but it is historically correct; you have to take books and films from earlier times on their own ground, in context of their own time: a window into the past, a revelation of how people really talked, thought, and behaved.
But overall, people behaved pretty much as they still do - human nature doesn't change. If you haven't seen it, check it out sometime, you'll get a kick out of the funny parts and find some other parts very thought-provoking. The roommate said it reminded him of Tennessee Williams/Truman Capote.
There's also some great interviews and commentary included on the DVD, with Mart Crowley, William Friedkin, Laurence Luckinbill, Peter White, and Tony Kushner. Here's a clip of the opening, with Harper's Bizarre singing the Cole Porter classic "Anything Goes."
Thursday, February 26, 2009
The entertainment Web site TMZ broke the story Tuesday that Northern Trust of Chicago, which got $1.5 billion in bailout money and then laid off 450 workers, flew hundreds of clients and employees to Los Angeles last week and treated them to four days of posh hotel rooms, salmon and filet mignon dinners, music concerts, a PGA golf tournament at the Riviera Country Club with Mercedes shuttle rides and Tiffany swag bags.
“A rep from the PGA told us Northern Trust wrote one big, fat check in order to sponsor the event,” TMZ reported.
Northern No Trust had a lavish dinner at the Ritz Carlton on Wednesday with a concert by Chicago (at a $100,000 fee); rented a private hangar at the Santa Monica Airport on Thursday for another big dinner with a gig by Earth, Wind & Fire, and closed down the House of Blues on Sunset Strip on Saturday (at a cost of $50,000) for a dinner and serenade by Sheryl Crow. . . .
It asserted that it earned an operating net income of $641 million last year and acted as though it did Americans a favor by taking federal cash.
I would ask Northern No Trust: If you’re totally solvent, why are you taking my tax dollars? If you’re not totally solvent, why are you giving my tax dollars to Sheryl Crow?
Coming in a moment when skeptical and angry Americans watched A.I.G., Citigroup, General Motors and Chrysler — firms that had already been given a federal steroid injection — get back in line for more billions, the golf scandal was just one more sign that the bailed-out rich are different from you and me: their appetites are unquenchable and their culture is uneducable.
President Obama served them notice on Tuesday night in his Congressional address, saying: “This time, C.E.O.’s won’t be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes or disappear on a private jet. Those days are over.”
But will they notice?
What I say: Why is no one marching in the streets over this ginormous waste of your money and mine? Why is there no Join the Impact kind of grassroots movement to protest and fight this outrageous abuse, this gaming the system by the obscenely rich corporations and individuals? Why is no one raising a ruckus over this bullshit?
People out in California have been shutting down hotels and restaurants because somebody gave a hundred bucks, or maybe a thousand, to pro-Prop 8. I say, that's stupid.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The Oklahoma House of Representatives - Sally Kern's home away from home, you know - has passed a joint resolution by 83 votes to 13:
"That the State of Oklahoma hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States. "The language of HJR 1003 further serves notice to the federal government "to cease and desist, effectively immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers." . . .Oh dear, are we back to the whole States' Rights thing now? That is exactly the line the segregationists took, starting in the 1940's, to oppose the civil rights movement: Dixiecrats, interposition, nullification, standing in the schoolhouse door, and all such as that. The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?
Eight other states have sovereignty bills pending, another twelve have bills on the way. Some legal sources call the bills merely symbolic, saying that the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution renders such efforts moot. Others are calling the sovereignty movement the thin wedge of a coming secessionist effort largely driven by disagreements over social policy issues such as gay rights, immigration, and freedom of religion.
Joe also reprints part of lesbian blogger Keori's report from the legislative hearings in Hawaii on a proposed civil unions bill:
You know, it gets really tiresome to be called diseased and a pedophile and a rapist and an abomination and a threat to America three dozen times in one day. It infuriates me to hear that yes, heterosexuals have special rights (at least they admitted it finally!) and that is how it should be because The Big Book of Bronze Age Fairy Tales says so. To hear little old ladies screaming that they would rather see their grandchildren commit suicide than "be part of that disgusting, filthy, evil lifestyle", isn't even remotely amusing anymore.
Even better is to, due to the concussion headache beginning to blind me, forget to take off my little green and gold "equality" sticker on the way out of the building, and be followed to the bus stop by a bunch of red shirts with signs. Three 6'5", 200 pound Islander guys with signs saying "Gay marriage is wrong" and "John 3:16" followed the lone little white girl with her laptop case across the street, yelling at me, "Repent!", calling me a bitch and a whore, telling me, "You just need a real man to fuck you straight." Nothing I haven't heard before.
Then one of them said, "We know who you are now, and what you drive. We saw you last Thursday. You better watch yourself, fucking haole bitch." Not one of the 20 people standing around the bus stop said anything to them. I got on the first bus that came along, got off three stops down the street, and caught my right bus a few minutes later. I rode home all alone, with my headphones on, praying no one bothered me. I don't want to ever hear another fake apology from these people saying that they don't actually hate queers, they're just "protecting traditional marriage". It's just the latest lie in their christian hate grab bag.
Now fellas, you remember last fall, all those big strapping gay guys who swarmed the little old lady carrying a styrofoam cross at a Prop 8 rally? If we act nasty like that, we have no moral standing to complain when the other side treats our people that way, do we? It's wrong and it's ugly, no matter who does it; and what goes around, comes around.
And David Mixner summarizes several more examples of Republican asshattery in the last week, including these gems:
-Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) used a major forum in his home state of Alabama to question if President Obama is even a citizen of America!Plus this bizarre video of failed Republican candidate Alan Keyes:
-Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) used another speaking opportunity in Kentucky to proclaim loudly that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would be dead in six months! In an attempt to quell the bad publicity generated, he issued a formal apology to the feisty Madame Justice, who returned to the bench this week.
-Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) wrote in a letter that Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi were not real Catholics! Didn't know the senator was a papal representative. So much for his message on Stimulus!
-The newly elected Chair of the Republican Party, Michael Steele, was asked about the possibility of the Republican Party supporting civil unions down the road he responded, "No, no, no. What would we do that for? What are you, crazy?" So much for inclusiveness!
What I say: Tell you what, guys. Let's be fair about this and give the wingnuts their very own state: Alaska. Hell, let's cut Alaska loose, and let them have it for their own Holy Nation. Then they can all sit up there and beat their Bibles and stare at Putin to their heart's content. Give 'em all a one-way ticket, plus moving expenses, hell we already got a deficit going, it won't cost that much more and everybody would be happy then. Right?
Palin-Jindal 2012. Yes, please God. Pass it around.
President Obama's first speech to a joint session of Congress was stuffed with signals about the new direction his budget will take and meant-to-be reassuring words about the economy. But it was also peppered with exaggerations and factual misstatements.I knew the bit about the transcontinental railroad wasn't right, and I wasn't sure about the car reference. Well, we'll give him a pass for a rousing performance and for doing what all politicians do: painting with a broad brush to paint the rosiest picture he can, and never mind about fine details.
He said "we import more oil today than ever before." That's untrue. Imports peaked in 2005 and are substantially lower today.
He claimed his mortgage aid plan would help "responsible" buyers but not those who borrowed beyond their means. But even prominent defenders of the program including Fed Chairman Bernanke and FDIC chief Bair concede foolish borrowers will be aided, too.
He said the high cost of health care "causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds." That's at least double the true figure.
He flubbed two facts about American history. The U.S. did not invent the automobile, and the transcontinental railroad was not completed until years after the Civil War, not during it.
He claimed that his stimulus plan "prevented the layoffs" of 57 police officers in Minneapolis. In fact, it's far more complicated than that, and other factors are also helping to save police jobs.
The president also repeated some strained claims we've critiqued before. . . .
Certainly we need a cheery vision right now to sustain us. But Mr. President, you're not on the campaign trail now, you got the job. So give us the straight facts, that's part of the Change we voted for, ya know?
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The full video and full text of the President's State of the Nation address that he delivered tonight at the Capitol are available at the White House blog. For some reason, the video and audio don't begin until about the 2:40 mark. If you want to see just parts of it, go to the CNN website where the speech has been divided into segments.
A few observations of mine:
- Before the President entered the House chamber, he was preceeded by the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, the Supreme Court, and the Cabinet. It was very touching to see how the members of the House and Senate cheered ailing Justice Ginsberg as she entered the chamber.
- Hillary, all pretty in pink, got to do a bit of a star turn when she came down the aisle, receiving some cheers herself, and seemed to be in full-throttle campaign mode once again, meeting and greeting.
- The First Lady got a big ovation when she entered the gallery, even though her entrance was not announced by the Speaker. She didn't bring the girls with her; no doubt they were watching it on TV at home with grandma.
- Every time the camera showed John McCain, his expression seemed to be "this just totally bites my ass big time." Too bad, John.
- The President was given a tumultuous welcome when he arrived, which was only to be expected. I thought there was really a bit too much crowding and jostling, with cameramen in the thick of it, snapping pictures only inches away from the President. It seemed more like a barn dance than a state occasion; and after all was said and done, Congressmen and -women delayed the President's exit from the House by at least 15 minutes, asking him to autograph their programs. Please, save that for the Academy Awards, people.
- No mention of teh gayz; but the President was at his inspiring, fire-em-up best, full of energy and elegance, hope and optimism. In other words, a real leader, a real President - not just a sham one.
- Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal gave the Republican response to the President's remarks afterwards. I'd never heard him talk before, and he is a good speaker. But he also seemed to have just arrived from another planet far, far away, without having heard a single word the President had said; and Jindal seemed to think the same tired old Republican platitudes about small government and more tax cuts were bright ideas - instead of just wildly absurd, given where the country is right now, and all we've been through. I thought the Mississippi River ran through Louisiana, not de Nile, but guess I was wrong.
Some of my favorite lines from the President's address:
While our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this:
We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before. . . .
We have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.
Well that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.
Now is the time to act boldly and wisely – to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity. Now is the time to jumpstart job creation, re-start lending, and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down. . . .
Health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year. . . .
I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country – and this country needs and values the talents of every American. . . .
I know that the price of tuition is higher than ever, which is why if you are willing to volunteer in your neighborhood or give back to your community or serve your country, we will make sure that you can afford a higher education. . . .
We will restore a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code by finally ending the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas. . . .
In order to save our children from a future of debt, we will also end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. But let me perfectly clear, because I know you’ll hear the same old claims that rolling back these tax breaks means a massive tax increase on the American people: if your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime. In fact, the recovery plan provides a tax cut – that’s right, a tax cut – for 95% of working families. And these checks are on the way. . . .
And with our friends and allies, we will forge a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat al Qaeda and combat extremism. Because I will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens half a world away. . . .
As we meet here tonight, our men and women in uniform stand watch abroad and more are readying to deploy. To each and every one of them, and to the families who bear the quiet burden of their absence, Americans are united in sending one message: we honor your service, we are inspired by your sacrifice, and you have our unyielding support. To relieve the strain on our forces, my budget increases the number of our soldiers and Marines. And to keep our sacred trust with those who serve, we will raise their pay, and give our veterans the expanded health care and benefits that they have earned. . . .
To overcome extremism, we must also be vigilant in upholding the values our troops defend – because there is no force in the world more powerful than the example of America. That is why I have ordered the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and will seek swift and certain justice for captured terrorists – because living our values doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger. And that is why I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture. . . .
As we stand at this crossroads of history, the eyes of all people in all nations are once again upon us – watching to see what we do with this moment; waiting for us to lead.
Those of us gathered here tonight have been called to govern in extraordinary times. It is a tremendous burden, but also a great privilege – one that has been entrusted to few generations of Americans. For in our hands lies the ability to shape our world for good or for ill. . . .
I know that we haven’t agreed on every issue thus far, and there are surely times in the future when we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months, and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground.
And if we do – if we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis; if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity; if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit, then someday years from now our children can tell their children that this was the time when we
performed, in the words that are carved into this very chamber, "something worthy to be remembered." Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.
There's a number of state legislatures currently considering various gay-rights bills, including civil unions and even equal marriage. Mostly it's a lot of talking and hem-hawing that I don't feel a need to report here; you guys can read up on these things in some of the other news blogs that I link to. I'll wait till something major happens to write about.
But over the weekend, the New York Times published a joint op-ed piece , "A Reconciliation on Gay Marriage," written by Jonathan Rauch, award-winning political journalist and author, and David Blankenhorn, a self-described liberal Democrat and founder of the Institute for American Values. Rauch is gay, Blankenhorn is straight. Here's an excerpt, but you really should go read the whole thing:
In politics, as in marriage, moments come along when sensitive compromise can avert a major conflict down the road. The two of us believe that the issue of same-sex marriage has reached such a point now.
We take very different positions on gay marriage. We have had heated debates on the subject. Nonetheless, we agree that the time is ripe for a deal that could give each side what it most needs in the short run, while moving the debate onto a healthier, calmer track in the years ahead.
It would work like this: Congress would bestow the status of federal civil unions on same-sex marriages and civil unions granted at the state level, thereby conferring upon them most or all of the federal benefits and rights of marriage. But there would be a condition: Washington would recognize only those unions licensed in states with robust religious-conscience exceptions, which provide that religious organizations need not recognize same-sex unions against their will. The federal government would also enact religious-conscience protections of its own. All of these changes would be enacted in the same bill. . . .
Linking federal civil unions to guarantees of religious freedom seems a natural way to give the two sides something they would greatly value while heading off a long-term, take-no-prisoners conflict. That should appeal to cooler heads on both sides, and it also ought to appeal to President Obama, who opposes same-sex marriage but has endorsed federal civil unions. A successful template already exists: laws that protect religious conscience in matters pertaining to abortion. These statutes allow Catholic hospitals to refuse to provide abortions, for example. If religious exemptions can be made to work for as vexed a moral issue as abortion, same-sex marriage should be manageable, once reasonable people of good will put their heads together.
In all sharp moral disagreements, maximalism is the constant temptation. People dig in, positions harden and we tend to convince ourselves that our opponents are not only wrong-headed but also malicious and acting in bad faith. In such conflicts, it can seem not only difficult, but also wrong, to compromise on a core belief.
But clinging to extremes can also be quite dangerous. In the case of gay marriage, a scorched-earth debate, pitting what some regard as nonnegotiable religious freedom against what others regard as a nonnegotiable human right, would do great harm to our civil society. When a reasonable accommodation on a tough issue seems possible, both sides should have the courage to explore it.
Well, what do you think, guys? Leaving aside the legal questions and enormous political wranglings, let's imagine for a moment that Congress did enact a Federal Civil Unions Act - and let's imagine further that this meant you and your partner could enter into a civil union anywhere you live in the U.S.A.; and that you would then be recognized by the federal government (but not every state government) and have all the federal-level rights and benefits of married couples.
Would you settle for that, instead of holding out for full, complete marriage equality everywhere, in every state as well as on the federal level?
In the United Kingdom, Parliament enacted a Civil Partnerships Act in 2005, which by all accounts seems to be working just dandy for our Brit cousins. I've done some reading and , and as far as I can tell, the only differences between CP and marriage are these little details:
1. Civil partnership ceremonies cannot be held in a church; they have to be held in a marriage license office, or in some non-religious place (like a hotel or banquet hall) that is licensed for weddings.However, in every other respect, as far as I can make out, the laws recognize civil partners in exactly the same way that they do married couples; the effect is being married in every way, but without the name. I wonder if some Blue Truck readers from Britain could comment on how well this is working over there; so far, I've not come across any complaints except from the far rightwing religious types, of which they have a lot fewer than we do.
2. Civil partnership ceremonies cannot include any religious readings, prayers, or hymns.
3. Civil partnerships are technically not marriages but . . . civil partnerships. Your passport is marked CP, not married, if you have a partner, and so are other legal documents.
But the U.K. is a much smaller country, and not a huge federal republic of 50 states with wildly differing laws on this subject. So I'm thinking it's much easier to implement the CP thing there than it would be here.
Anyway, what do you think, fellas? As Rauch and Blankenhorn point out, if both sides in this debate won't budge an inch, we have a Mexican standoff. Would you be willing to compromise on the word "marriage" if you got all the rights and responsibilities under another name?
Or should we hold out for the real thing, no ifs, ands, or buts - even though that might take another generation or two to accomplish? Before you answer, you might want to watch this conversation between Rauch and Blankenhorn on the topic:
P.S. - I just realized there's one more little difference between U.K. civil partnerships and marriage: civil partners who tie the knot with a male peer do not get courtesy titles like female spouses do. Which means if you get hitched to Lord Broadbottom, you absolutely do not get to call yourself Lady Broadbottom, no matter how big of a screaming queen you are. You're still just plain Miss Thing.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Forty years ago today. How strange to say. My God, where does the time go?
A very moving speech for those of us who have lived so long under the heel of a homophobic society. Way past time for all that to change. BTW, I didn't know till now that Black was born in California but grew up in San Antone; interesting. also interesting is the fact that he was only 4 years old when Harvey Milk was killed.
I still haven't seen Milk; I'm waiting for it to come out on Netflix video.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
BTW, the ad reminds me - I always wanted an erector set, never got one though. But that's okay. I figured it out on my own.
It's a poignant, thought-provoking story, and a lot of points still very much apply to the world we live in now. Without giving away the plot of the story, suffice it to say that some travellers find themselves in this unheard-of place hidden far away in the Himalayas, presided over by a mysterious High Lama, who chooses a man named Conway to be his successor. Here are some of the things the High Lama says to his wondering guest:
High Lama: We need men like you here, to be sure that our community will continue to thrive, in return for which Shangri-La has much to give you. You are still, by the world's standards, a youngish man. Yet, in the normal course of existence, you can expect twenty or thirty years of gradually diminishing activity. Here, however, in Shangri-La, by our standards, your life has just begun - and may go on and on.
Conway: Hmm. Of course, to be candid, Father, a prolonged future doesn't excite me. It would have to have a point. I've sometimes doubted whether life itself has any. If that is so, then long life must be even more pointless. No, I'd need a much more definite reason for going on and on.
High Lama: We have reason. It is the entire meaning and purpose of Shangri-La. It came to me in a vision long, long ago. I saw all the nations strengthening, not in wisdom, but in the vulgar passions and the will to destroy. I saw their machine power multiplying until a single weaponed man might match a whole army. I foresaw a time when man exalting in the technique of murder, would rage so hotly over the world, that every book, every treasure would be doomed to destruction. This vision was so vivid and so moving that I determined to gather together all things of beauty and culture that I could and preserve them here against the doom toward which the world is rushing. Look at the world today. Is there anything more pitiful? What madness there is! What blindness! What unintelligent leadership! A scurrying mass of bewildered humanity crashing headlong against each other, compelled by an orgy of greed and brutality.
The time must come, my friend, when this orgy will spend itself, when brutality and the lust for power must perish by its own sword. Against that time is why I avoided death and am here and why you were brought here. For when that day comes, the world must begin to look for a new life. And it is our hope that they may find it here. For here, we shall be with their books and their music and a way of life based on one simple rule: Be kind. When that day comes, it is our hope that the brotherly love of Shangri-La will spread throughout the world. Yes, my son, when the strong have devoured each other, the Christian ethic may at last be fulfilled, and the meek shall inherit the Earth. . . .
I am placing in your hands the future and destiny of Shangri-La, for I am going to die. I knew my work was done when I first set eyes upon you. I've waited for you, my son, for a long time. I've sat in this room and seen the faces of newcomers. I've looked into their eyes and heard their voices, always in hope that I might find you. My friend, it is not an arduous task that I bequeath, for our order knows only silken bonds. To be gentle and patient, to care for the riches of the mind, to preside in wisdom while the storm rages without. . . .
You, my son, will live through the storm. You will preserve the fragrance of our history and add to it a touch of your own mind. Beyond that, my vision weakens but I see at a great distance a new world stirring in the ruins, stirring clumsily but in hopefulness, seeking its lost and legendary treasures, and they will all be here, my son, hidden behind the mountains in the Valley of the Blue Moon, preserved as by a miracle.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Way back when 30 still sounded old, and I had finally managed to struggle through college, graduate, and get my first real job, I needed a car to replace the old one that had finally died after hauling me to school and back for many years. And then miraculously, the TransAm of my dreams came along, for sale, at the right price.
I wish I could say I bought it. I wish I could tell you stories of driving to the beach in that T-top, tearing up the Interstates, outrunning the law, radio blaring, cruising down the coastal highway, cutting doughnuts, laying rubber, a throbbing engine that made heads turn when I pulled up, stories of warm days and hot nights, stories that would make you jealous of a carefree and very misspent youth.
But I can't. I bought a cheaper, and much more respectable Chevy sedan. As things turned out, a much more practical choice. A much more practical life. Being what I thought I was supposed to be.
Sometimes I wish I hadn't been so practical. Sometimes I wish I had better stories to tell.
If only we knew then what we know now.
Friday, February 20, 2009
As I've blogged about before, we live in an age where - just the opposite of 100 years ago - tobacco is demonized, but nobody thinks alcohol is such a big deal; it's good for you, drink up.
Well, all you non-smoking free-drinkers, don't be so smug. Your turn is coming, if the news from Europe is any indication.
The French are dismayed to find that their own government is telling them to cut out drinking wine - entirely. Naturellement, the population is finding that hard to swallow, but they did elect a teetotaler, after all: M. Sarkozy.
Yeah, that wine will kill you dead, says the French ministry of health, so lay off of it - not a drop. Studies show . . . what studies always show: just what the speaker wants to prove.
Hello? Am I the only one who has figured this out? Forget all those other studies that proved a little booze was good for ya; that's like so 15 minutes ago now. Get with the freaking program, bud. Straighten up. Fly right. And suck in that gut while you're at it.
More controversy is brewing across the Channel in England, where that government's chief medical officer wants to ban everyone under 15 from ever tasting a single drop of alcohol - not even having a glass of wine at home with your parents at the dinner table.
For the record, France currently has a conservative government, while Britain has a socialist one; so what does that tell you? The nicey-nice people come in all political flavors. And they are all fascist buttheads, no matter what party they belong to.
Well boys, whatever your favorite vice is, enjoy it while you can. I certainly intend to enjoy mine.
I plan to stay human just as long as it's legal. And then some. Because guess what, folks: we are all going to die one day. No matter what you do.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
How lucky I was to be born just in time to have wonderful memories of riding some of the great streamliners, just like young Bobby in this 1954 film. All you guys who came along after I did, you really don't know what you missed out on - it's the only way to travel. Amtrak tries, bless their hearts; but it's just not the same. More like riding a big bus than a train, for several reasons.
There was a sensation and an atmosphere to riding on a streamliner that would be hard to describe. For one thing, believe it or not - people actually dressed up in those days to travel: coat and tie for the men, dresses and high heels for the women. (Somewhere in the back of my mind, I still feel guilty for not wearing my Sunday suit when I get on a plane - sorry, Mom.)
For another thing, it was very comfortable: air conditioning in a time when few people had that at home or school, cushy chairs in the coaches with 3 feet of leg room in front of you, white damask and real silver on the tables in the dining car; getting there was half the fun. So it was a special event, and a special feeling, hard to put into words. You just had to be there. But if you were, it was a delight.
Railroad history is one of my hobbies I haven't had a chance to post much about on this blog up till now, but I'll make a point of doing more with that in future. Meantime, sit back and enjoy the trip here, doing 80 per in safety and comfort through the American landscape.
* Indiana legislators have effectively 86'd an anti-gay-marriage amendment in that state. A tiny bit of good news.
* But in Utah, where the Mormon Church said it's not against gay people, just the misuse of the word marriage, legislators have axed every single one of the Common Ground bills, even including the simple right to visit your partner in the hospital.
* A straight married woman is appalled that the state of Florida makes her and her husband check off their sexual orientation status on an adoption application form.
* While a Georgia man is fighting a custody order than forbids him to expose his children to any of his gay partners or friends.
* And finally, Sally Kern's soul sistah in the Georgia legislature wants to fire all faculty and staff at Georgia universities who teach queer studies or the like, which is such a waste of taxpayers' money in these troubled economic times, you know. Here's Rep. Charlice Byrd's priceless video on the subject:
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
From the Dallas Voice:
In a rare move in the Oklahoma House, a group of Republicans voted unsuccessfully to exclude a gay pastor’s prayer from becoming a part of the House journal.Before offering his daily prayer in the House on Wednesday [Feb. 11], the Rev. Scott Jones acknowledged several people in the gallery — “dear friends, my wonderful parents, and my loving partner and fiance, Michael.”
Jones, the guest of state Rep. Al McAffrey, is the pastor of the Cathedral of Hope in Oklahoma City.When McAffrey, D-Oklahoma City, asked in the session’s closing minutes that Jones’ prayer be made part of the House journal, the chamber’s official record, Rep. John Wright objected and called for a vote.With 16 members having already left, the House voted 64-20 to include Jones’ prayer in the House journal.
HOMOSEXUAL PREACHER BRINGS ABOMINATION TO STATE CAPITOL
This past Tuesday State Representative Al McAffrey (D-inner city OKC) had the opportunity to invite a pastor to be the Chaplin for the day and open the session with prayer. McAffrey is the only openly homosexual member of the legislature. The “pastor” he asked to give the prayer was the “Reverend” Scott Jones, also an openly homosexual who introduced his “fiancee” Michael, who was sitting in the gallery.McAffrey asked that Jones’ prayer be recorded in the official minutes of the day, (this is normally only done on Thursdays) Representative John Wright (R-Broken Arrow) objected and called for a vote on the issue.
In my opinion, this was just another cleverly planned skirmish by the homosexuals in the culture war. Radical homosexuals are trying to force society to accept their perverted lifestyle as normal, equal or perhaps superior. Then of course, when normal folks disagree with them, or express that their perversion is “sin” in the eye’s of God as well as all Bible believing Christians (the only real Christians), then the homosexuals play the victim role and accuse those in opposition to their agenda as being haters, bigots, intolerant, narrow minded, red necks and on and on and on. Actually, you don’t have to read many of their notes to people who disagree with them to see that they are the ones that have their hearts full of hate for people who refuse to accept their behavior.
I believe that unless the content of Jones’ prayer was that of confession for his sinful behavior regarding homosexuality and an expression of repentance toward God for his rebellion and perversion, then his being there to give the prayer for the day was an abomination. Based on my reading of God’s Word (The Bible) Jones’ belief that he is a man of God and anyone else who try to justify homosexuality as acceptable, they serve a “god of their own making or their imagination.” They are not serving the God of the Bible and they do not have a relationship with the one and only true God.
NEWEST NOMINEE FOR LEGISLATOR WHORE OF THE YEAR AWARD
All 3 of the previous nominees for this award have been Democrat Senators. The newest nominee is State Representative John Trebilcock (R-Tulsa). For the 3rd year in a row Trebilcock, a former teacher, has introduced legislation (HB 1036 this year) to give a $500 tax credit to teachers to reimburse them for out of pocket expenses that they spend on school supplies. Trebilcock admits every teacher will spend the maximum amount which will cost the state $21 million dollars.
He indicates this is a neat way to give a $500 tax free pay raise to teachers.Here is my problem with this foolish legislation. It gives each individual teacher the ability to determine how much taxpayers will spend on education. Hey Trebilcock, now an attorney who has probably never read or is unable to understand the Declaration of Independence, isn’t that taxation without representation? We vote for guys like you to represent us, we don’t vote for teachers. Do your job and don’t give it away your responsibility to unelected teachers. Secondly, there is plenty of money for supplies in the classrooms, but you lawmakers have set the standards for teacher salaries which consumes the monies that should be used for supplies. Thirdly, teachers make on average of $5,000 a year more than you lawmakers and $12,000 dollars a year more than we dumb blokes in the private sector who pay the salaries for the both of you. Hum, let me see, you both claim to be public servants, but when you make more than the people who pay your salaries, are you really public servants or have you actually become the “MASTERS” of the public?
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009
In this, the gay movement, in its support for civil marriage equality, is a force right now for social conservatism; and the Christianist movement is the one fomenting the real attack on the institution of marriage. Christianist doctrine - unrelated to the social facts of our time - is, in fact, a social solvent. It helps destroy the family (ask the Haggards); it undermines civil marriage's uniqueness; and it discourages social responsibility. That's because it is about maintaining the stigma toward homosexuality rather than about supporting the important social role of marriage in keeping society together.
As I have said many times, Christianism is not, properly understood, a force for social conservatism; it is a force for denial, religious neurosis and social decay. Which is why those parts of America that are most imbued with Christianist cant often have such higher levels of divorce, abortion, illegitimacy and family breakdown.
According to Think Progress:
When Van Susteren asked Gov. Palin, who joined the interview, about abstinence, she seemed similarly dismissive of her former views on abstinence, admitting, "It sounds naive.” Bristol added, “I just — I hope that people learn from my story and just, like, I don’t know, prevent teen pregnancy, I guess.”In other words, screw all you want if you're straight and use a rubber, that's the way to go. Did you get that, kids?
But if you're gay and just want to acquire sexual pleasure, well, read the next post, from Utah.
And Pink News reports:
On Sunday, a group called America Forever ran full-page ads in The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News calling on Utahns to "stop the homosexual movement." The ad also condemns Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. for endorsing the Common Ground Initiative, a legislative push that would offer inheritance and medical-decision-making rights to same-sex couples and make it illegal to fire or evict someone for being gay or transgender. . . .
America Forever, which solicits donations in its print ad, does not have a current Utah business license as a nonprofit nor is it registered as a political-issues or political-action committee, according to state Web sites.
The ad compares being gay to being "druggies and hookers," labels homosexuality as "anti-species behavior" and concludes that "gays should be forced not to display" their sexual orientation.
Gay-rights opponent Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, agrees with America Forever's stance on upholding "traditional marriage" but condemns the group's tactics and rhetoric, including the ad. "Everything they're doing crosses the line," Wimmer said Monday, noting he helped to eject members of America Forever from an Equality Utah news conference last week after they became confrontational.
"There's no need to have hateful discourse," Wimmer said. "Quite frankly, they make those of us who are on the side of traditional marriage --they make a lot of us --look bad."
Mike Thompson, executive director of Equality Utah -- the advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Utahns that is pushing the Common Ground Initiative -- called the ad "inflammatory" and "divisive."
"It demonstrates what we are up against in having a rational debate," Thompson said. "There's no reason to respond directly to the content of the ad because it's just ridiculous. The conversation should be focused on the Common Ground Initiative and the bills that are part of that." . . .
Agreeing to run an ad does not mean a newspaper endorses it, said Tribune Editor Nancy Conway.
"We didn't see [America Forever's ad] until we saw it in the paper," she said. "Advertising and news are entirely separate."
Conway said she personally didn't like the ad. But "we have generally a philosophy about ads that freedom to express oneself and First Amendment rights are covered in advertising. … We would be hypocrites, really, if we didn't allow expression."
Nearly 60% of Utah residents are members of the Church of Jesus and the Latter Day Saints, known as Mormons, and the Church has a strong influence on the state's culture and attitudes. The [Common Ground] Initiative was designed as a response to statements by leaders of the Mormon Church that it does not oppose civil unions or other measures aimed at moving LGBT people toward equality under the law.No jacking off till you're 18? OMG, is that why I'm gay?!? If only I had known!
It includes measures designed to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment and housing, provide benefits for State of Utah employees and their adult designees, provide inheritance rights and other protections to adults who enter into a declaration of joint support, and repeal part of an amendment to the state constitution that prohibits civil unions.
America Forever's website states:
"Exposing children to this environment of homosexual unions would deprive them of their necessary defences and contribute to the spread of the homosexual propaganda.
"It is imperative to recognise that the approval or legalisation of the homosexual act is something far different from the toleration of it.
"They are already allowed to acquire sexual pleasure with whomever they wish, therefore they are already tolerated. The children however need to be protected as they have been in the past.
"They must be protected until they are 18, from the act of masturbation and therefore cannot be allowed to be exposed to homosexual unions."
Click here to see the full-page ad from these creeps.
State Sen. Paul Koering, R-Fort Ripley, told KLKS on Friday that he will not vote for the Marriage and Family Protection Act, a bill that would make Minnesota’s marriage laws gender-neutral, allowing same-sex couples many of the rights currently denied by Minnesota statute. Koering, who is gay and a Republican, said he would vote against it because the state faces bigger problems.
Koering came out in 2005 after voting against a constitutional amendment to ban civil unions and same-sex marriage pushed by then-State Sen. Michele Bachmann. He is one of very few openly gay elected Republicans in the United States and was re-elected by his conservative Brainerd-area constituents in 2006, despite a hard push by religious right activists to defeat him for his votes on gay rights.
When he came out in 2005, he was cautious about pushing hard for same-sex marriage, a position he still appears to hold.
“I think some of the gay activists will be upset with me for this, but sometimes I think an agenda is pushed so far and so fast that people have no alternative but to push back,” Koering told Raw Story at the time. “And I think that sometimes you have to move slowly.”
There's a reason why so few gay Republicans get elected. Can you say asshole?
Monday, February 16, 2009
Above is a video report by MSNBC from 2007 on Texas megachurch preachers T. D. Jakes and Joel Osteen, both of whom are raking in millions selling God to the masses: "Jesus is the product," says Jakes, who gave the sermon at the prayer service for President Obama on the morning of the Inauguration.
But as the Dallas Voice reports,
The son of T.D. Jakes — the Dallas megachurch pastor who’s called homosexuality a “brokenness” and declared that he would never hire a sexually active gay person — was arrested in a gay sex sting in Kiest Park in January, according to Dallas police reports.
Jermaine Donnell Jakes, 29, faces a charge of indecent exposure after allegedly exposing himself in front of two undercover vice detectives shortly after 10 p.m. on Jan. 3. Senior Cpl. Janice Crowther, a DPD spokeswoman, confirmed Thursday, Feb. 12 that the detectives were both male. . . .
According to court records, Jermaine Jakes listed his place of employment as T.D. Jakes Ministries. Jakes was released at the scene after being detained.
T.D. Jakes is the founder of the Potters House, a 30,000-member church in South Dallas. A vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, he’s been criticized by HIV/AIDS activists for undermining prevention of the disease by stigmatizing homosexuality and drug use.
On same-sex marriage, Jakes once told USA Today: “To date, I have not seen scriptural authority that allows me to stand on behalf of God and say I now pronounce you husband and husband, and wife and wife. This is an issue the government is undecided about. The Bible is not.”
Once again, the religious closet and its sad, sad effects. I feel sorry for Jermaine; no telling what kind of church hell he's been living in all his life.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday is celebrated February 12, never kept a diary, and never lived to write an autobiography. He was so utterly private a man that even his best friends frequently admitted that there were regions of his mind to which they were never granted access. He was a “terribly reticent, secretive, shut mouth man,” said his law-partner of fourteen years, William Henry Herndon, “and close-minded as to his plans, wishes, hopes, and fears.”
That was particularly true about religion. “I don't know anything about Lincoln's Religion,” grumbled David Davis, Lincoln’s personal attorney and his first appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court, and “don’t think anybody knew.” . . .
Lincoln’s election to the presidency, just in time to see the country fall into civil war, presented him with a different set of challenges to his meager stock of religious belief. Lincoln expected a quick and direct restoration of the Union. But in battle after battle, the Union armies were handed humiliating defeats. The president could make no logical sense of this apparent contradiction of progress. After a year-and-a-half of seemingly fruitless bloodshed, he concluded that God had taken a direct hand in events to stymie the war’s progress so long as it was waged for purely political purposes, and to force Lincoln to recognize that the war must be turned in a moral direction that spoke directly to the crime of slavery.
This insight is what eventually drove Lincoln to depart from the policy direction with which he had begun the war, and to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. To the astonishment of his Cabinet, Lincoln explained that his decision to issue the Proclamation was a “vow” he had made “to myself, and...to my Maker.”
In his Second Inaugural Address, Lincoln came as close to preaching a sermon as any U.S. President has ever dared utter. The war, he said, was not a struggle between a righteous Union and evil slaveholders – both North and South had been complicit in the crime of slavery, and the war was a judgment that God had chosen to bring on the entire nation “until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword.” Only by submitting to that national judgment, Lincoln told his audience, could “malice toward none” and “charity for all” follow.
Lincoln’s public role as president embodied a profound struggle to preserve a “government of the people” that nevertheless still respected a core of moral truth which not even “the people” could repeal. And in that role, he reminds us that religion is neither alien to public life (to be locked up in private) nor a jack-in-the-box (ready to jump into every situation). It is, instead, a reminder of the feebleness of our own wisdom, and of the costliness of truth.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Got a bunch of chores to do this weekend, so I may not post much for a couple days. But whether you're single or togethered, pardners, here's wishing alla y'all a very happy Valentine's Day tomorrow. Take care buddies.
(Photo: Honk to Ray's Cowboy)
Towleroad is reporting this morning that President Bill Clinton will cross a massive picket line on Sunday, February 15, at the Manchester Hotel in San Diego in order to make a speech for money. The owner of the hotel was a strong supporter of Proposition 8 and has bad union practices.The San Diego Union-Tribune has more details on the story, and the response of Clinton's spokesman; also, a copy of the appeal letter here.
In a powerful new coalition, UNITE (the unions) and the LGBT community have been picketing the hotel and urging a boycott. Not since the days of the Coors boycott in the late 1970's has there been such a powerful labor and LGBT alliance.
With the placement of an across-the-top banner on the the pressure for the President to cancel his speech for money grew enormously this week. On the site, there was an appeal to the former president urging him not to cross the picket lines, signed by such LGBT leaders as Cleve Jones, founder of the AIDS quilt; Rich Jacobs, Chair of the Courage Campaign; and Fred Karger, Chair of Californians Against Hate.
A protest will be held Sunday beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the Manchester Hotel in San Diego. The websites of Californians Against Hate and the Courage Campaign have details.
What do you think, guys? Should Clinton speak regardless of the controversy? How important is this boycott to our struggle for equal rights? What would you do?