C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Maggiegate, Continued

Thomas Roberts interviewed - very lightly, I must say - the Queen of Mean yesterday on MSNBC.  (You fellas recall that a couple of days ago, she was a no-show for an earlier interview; MSNBC claims they made a scheduling error.)  Maggie, of course, did her fat-cat purr, all pretty in pink, and dodged and oozed all around the questions like snake oil, denying any hateful conspiracy, untoward action, or unkind motive towards anyone at all.  Why, as Scarlett said of India Wilkes, butter just wouldn't melt in her mouth!

Which strongly reminds your Head Trucker of the famous statement:  "I am not a crook."

By way of contrast, listen to civil rights leader Julian Bond's reaction to what he calls "one of the most cynical things I've ever heard of":

Friday, March 30, 2012

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, March 29, 2012

1940 Census Opened

On this coming Monday, the National Archives will release its first-ever digitzed version of a census to the Internet.  If you are into researching your genealogy, or even if you never have but would like to start, this is a welcome development; census records are kept confidential for 72 years to protect people's privacy.  Below, a government archivist explains how the records have been prepared for online release.

And here, a family historian explains the unique features of the 1940 census and what you can do with it.  Of course, the best way to start researching your roots is to begin with what you know - the present - and work backwards.

1940 Census Release from PPLD TV on Vimeo.

As a public service, your Head Trucker would like to pause here and offer this tip to budding filmmakers:  DO NOT MINDLESSLY REPLAY THAT CUTESIE PERIOD MUSIC ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE FUCKING MOVIE.  Twenty seconds' worth at the beginning and again at the end is totally sufficient.  Unless, of course, you intend to IRRITATE THE LIVING HELL OUT OF YOUR VIEWERS.  Just sayin'.

And one other big tip, to everybody: for every single bit of info you dig up on your ancestors, no matter how trivial, make a note of exactly where you found it. Trust me on this. Yes, it's a little irritating at first, when you are so excited and eager for the hunt - but if you make this a habit, you soon will get used to it, and it will save you major grief on down the road.

There are any number of good and inexpensive software programs that will make all of it easier, such as Family Tree Maker - about $35 last time I checked. Or you can do what your Head Trucker did, and just download the free software from the Mormon website, which is very user-friendly and has all the essential tools you need to keep track of your family data.  It works just fine, and is dandy for a beginner.

For several years after I finally got a home computer in 1999 - yes, I was a tad late to the party, but I kept thinking it was all just a fad - I devoted a lot of time to climbing the branches of my family tree, and with persisitence, and help from a couple of cousins as well as some paid help from a couple of very nice professional genealogists, I finally was able to track down all but one of my 16 great-great grandparents, and 22 out of my 32 great-great-great grandparents. Which takes me back to colonial times in the 18th century, and all the lines that I can trace that far go back to old Virginia or Maryland.

Which is about what I figured when I started.  It would be nice to get further back to England, but that would require digging in archives and things that aren't online, or paying someone to do it, and I just decided to quit while I was ahead; I have enough to confirm the general course of my ancestry, and that was a very satisfying research project.   It's also a wonderful hobby because you never get to the end of it:  there's always another branch to trace, more kinfolks to search for.  And all that contributes to your understanding of who you are, exactly, and where you came from.  As well as who you are not.

I'm over it now, largely because there's no easy way to go further back, but I can recommend ancestry.com for folks who want to do their own digging.

Before we leave this topic, you boys might enjoy this 1940 short the Census Bureau put out to encourage folks to cooperate with the census takers. The film begins, as so many made in that era did, with a paean to our great, shining Republic, wholly devoid of irony or self-consciousness, a thing not possible today for a number of reasons. I'm sad to say.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I reckon you fellas already know about the smoking-gun document that reveals NOM's secret agenda - agenda! - to manipulate blacks and Latinos into hating on the gays. Which, even though I'm old enough to have long since figured out how the world really works, still sorta takes my breath away: my mind just doesn't work in such callous, contemptuous, thoroughly manipulative ways.  Not something I would have ever thought of doing.

But just for the record, if you want the low down on the dirty tricks Maggie and Co. have been trying to pull, you can read a quick summary or the document in full over at the HRC's website.

Lots of bloggers have written trenchant commentaries about NOM's plot to "drive a wedge between gays and blacks" - a direct quote from NOM's own report - but here I'll just quote what Evan Wolfson had to say about this revelation at Freedom to Marry, which reflects my own thoughts pretty well:

In its anti-gay crusade to block the freedom to marry, NOM has spent years working to drive wedges within communities across the nation, all the while claiming it does not ’hate’ anyone, gay or non-gay. Now exposure of NOM’s own strategy memos confirms that NOM will stop at nothing to push its agenda, pitting American against American, minority against minority, family members against family members.

NOM’s wedge-strategy memos detail its campaign to funnel money to a handful of African-American clergy in order to attack gay couples and, appallingly, discredit the strong and clear voice of those African-American civil rights champions, such as John Lewis, Julian Bond, and Coretta Scott King, who have stood up for the freedom to marry and the equal civil rights of all people, including gay people of color. These smoking-gun documents show how NOM has sought, in the most cynical ways imaginable, to bait the gay community in hopes of provoking a hurt response that would further divide, all in furtherance of the ugly and cruel anti-gay agenda.

NOM’s secret memos describe its intention to ‘interrupt [Latinos’] process of assimilation’ by ‘making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity’ and ‘seek to identify glamorous young Latino and Latina leaders’ to reject equal protection for their own family members who are gay. And all of this to be done, fueled by NOM’s shadowy secret funders, in the name of religion -- in flagrant contempt of the Golden Rule of treating others as you would want to be treated. Despicable.

Wolfson concludes his post by showing that NOM is totally out of touch with reality:
Notwithstanding NOM’s efforts, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, conducted Feb. 29 through March 3, confirmed growth in support for the freedom to marry since October 2009 across nearly every slice of the electorate, with strong growth in support among African-Americans by 56% (from 32% to 50%) and Hispanic voters now supporting the freedom to marry by nearly 2 to 1 (55% to 30%).
You might also want to read Rob Tisinai's answer to the question, Does Maggie Gallagher have blood on her hands?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: Reap the Wild Wind

Steve Hayes reviews the 1942 classic:

But what happened to studly Johnny here? He looks like he suddenly aged 15 years since the last review. That's odd.

Catch more fabulous movie reviews at Steve's YouTube channel.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

Waitin' for the Weekend

Looks to me like Ricardo Villani is ready for a good, long ride:

Are You Typical?

A thought-provoking short from National Geographic - though of course, everything hinges on how you define the word typical.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Afghanistan: "Why Are We Still There?"

This is the cost of war.  Look at it, don't turn away and pretend you didn't see.

Congressman Walter Jones, a republican from North Carolina, is raising that question in the House Armed Services Committee's hearings on the Afghan war this week.  Maureen Dowd writes in the NYT:
The impossible has happened in the past few weeks. A war that long ago reached its breaking point has gone mad, with violent episodes that seemed emblematic of the searing, mind-bending frustration on both sides after 10 years of fighting in a place where battle has been an occupation, and preoccupation, for centuries.

Afghan security forces cold-bloodedly murdered some American troops after Korans were burned by military personnel. Then an American soldier walked out of his base early one morning and began cold-bloodedly murdering Afghan innocents, leaving seven adults and nine children in one small village dead.

There was an exhausted feel to the oversight hearing, lawmakers on both sides looking visibly sapped by our draining decade of wars. Even hawks seem beaten down by our self-defeating pattern in Afghanistan: giving billions to rebuild the country, money that ends up in the foreign bank accounts of its corrupt officials. . . .

Jones was once so gung ho about W.’s attempts to impose democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan that, after the French opposed invading Iraq in 2003, he helped lead the effort to rename French fries “freedom fries” and French toast “freedom toast” in the House cafeteria.

But now he thinks that both wars are sucking away lives and money, reaping only futility, and that he was silly about the fries. He said he’s fed up with having military commanders and Pentagon officials come to Capitol Hill year after year for a decade and say about Afghanistan: “Our gains are sustainable, but there will be setbacks” and “We are making progress, but it’s fragile and reversible.”

He said he had recently visited Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital to see wounded troops: “I had a young Marine lance corporal who lost one leg,” in a room with his mother.

“My question is,” the Marine asked him, “Why are we still there?” . . .

[Jones] concluded: "We can declare victory now. But there’s one thing we cannot do, and that is change history, because Afghanistan has never changed since they’ve been existing."

The epitaph of our Sisyphean decade of two agonizing wars was written last year by then-Secretary of Defense Bob Gates: “Any future defense secretary who advises the president to send a big American land army into Asia, or into the Middle East or Africa, should have his head examined."

What I Say:   Your Head Trucker is no military man, but as a student of history, the insanity of trying to subjugate and occupy a country so impenetrable and so far away has long been apparent, as shown by the disastrous careers of invaders in other lands down through the centuries, from Alexander to Napoleon to Hitler. This takes no special knowledge of military science, just a simple appreciation of the facts of geography, terrain, an enormously long supply line, the lack of dependable nearby allies, corruption, and the natural resistance of any people to a foreign invader.

It's crazy. It's stupid. It's a totally ridiculous proposition, one that is doomed to fail before it ever begins. And yet . . . why does our country keep doing this terrible thing? Korea - Vietnam - Iraq - Afghanistan. Does nobody in Washington ever have a brain bigger than his goddamn dick?

I bet the Marine lying there in Bethesda missing a leg wonders that too.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Classic Shacks: The Greenbrier

No, that's not where I was this weekend, but I thought you fellas might enjoy this short film about the legendary resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, from 1948 - when there was still a bit of glamour to the upper reaches of society. Now they're just as vulgar as anyone else, if you can believe the tabloids and TV shows.

For an update, here's a quick look at the renovated Greenbrier today, where the emphasis is on catering to the hoi polloi, quite a different tone from 1948:

In case you doubt me, their website shows you can get three nights there for about 500 bucks, and a steak dinner will set you back only $40. Not the Econolodge, but within range of most middle-class folks for a special trip.  Of course, all their advertising shows straight couples - don't you think it's time some of us queered the place?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sunday Drive: Danny Boy

This song was a favorite of my late husband's, who played it a number of times in church as an occasional piece. Here it's performed with exquisite styling by Eva Cassidy, another talented soul gone too soon from our midst.

And btw, here's an ABC documentary about her posthumous fame that I just ran across, apparently filmed in 2002:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Waitin' for the Weekend

Quinn Jaxon

Full view here. (nsfw)

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Map of U. S. sodomy laws on the eve of Lawrence v. Texas;
states shown in dark red still had such laws in effect until that time.

A short film from Lambda Legal explaining the background and significance of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas.  This is the first time I've ever seen an interview with the late John Lawrence, one of the two men arrested and convicted of the crime of "deviant sexual intercourse" by the state of Texas in 1998.

What's My Line?

Your Head Trucker fondly remembers this classy show from when it was still current.  A couple of clips here - the first one just takes my breath away, to think that this man actually was there in Ford's Theater that awful night - and lived to tell about it on television, for gosh sakes:

And then just for laughs, here's one of the more amusing examples of a guest whose occupation stumped the panel:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Encylopedia Britannica Ends Printed Edition

A sign of the times: after 244 years of publication, the Encyclopedia Britannica has published its last edition on paper. It's still available online, for $70 a year - but even so, your Head Trucker can't help but feel a little sad that this venerable, once-prized work has gone the way of stagecoaches, clipper ships, and steam locomotives. At its peak in 1990, the print edition sold 120,000 copies; the last edition, 2010, has sold only 8,000, with 4,000 left in stock at $1395 a set, if you want to get one.

As a business professor once told the class I was in:  economics wins out every time.  The Britannica's sales shrank in the face of much-cheaper digital rivals like Encarta in the 1990's, and of course the free, though untrustworthy, Wikipedia in the last decade.  And then, of course, there's the simple fact of speed and convenience:  we collectively tend always to choose the faster, easier way to go somewhere or do something, don't we?  Which is why I'd bet a hundred dollars not 19 out of 20 of my truckbuddies reading this have ever taken a train trip (amusement park rides don't count); and a much lower percentage have taken one in a Pullman.  Believe me when I tell you:  it was the only way to travel, and still is, even on the wretched Amtrak.

Now your Head Trucker will admit that in the last few years, he has rarely bothered to get up from his desk chair and actually go open a volume of his two sets of encyclopedias; still, it's a comfort just to sit here and glance up at them, the gold embossing on their spines still gleaming modestly after all these years, the safe, secure repository of facts, the distilled essence of the accumulated labors of the human mind, toiling down through the centuries towards the light of knowledge.  It's enough to know that they are there if I need them, and I wouldn't trade them for a speckled pony.

I began the encylopedia habit early, and I think that was great good fortune.  When I was 7, my mom traded a funky vibrating-massaging lounger - one those of new space-age things that seemed so cool at the time - to a girlfriend for a set of the 1962 World Book Encyclopedia.  Which was an enormous boon to to this only child:  for years thereafter when there were no other kids around to play with, which was more often than not, I could amuse myself quite nicely with reading through the World Book volumes, surfing them, if you will, as we do the Internet today, skipping with fascination from Soap to Sarcophagus to Swahili to Silhouette and on and on and on.

I soaked up a lot of geography and history that way, by a sort of osmosis instead of careful study; still, I think it helped a lot to make me usually one of the smartest kids in school, grade by grade, and it certainly stimulated my innate love of reading.  There was also a smaller companion set of Childcraft, a soft-and-easy encyclopedia for really young kids, which of course I disdained because I wanted to learn all the grown-up stuff - nevertheless, it contains many wonderful old folk and fairy tales, and poems, with beautiful illustrations - unlike the gruesome, maniacal fare that is pumped into kids now, with predictable results.

By the time I was in high school, I would have liked a set of Britannica - but after the parents divorced when I was 10, finances were tight on both sides, so that wasn't ever a possibility. But long after I'd finished with all my schooling, in 1995 I was thrilled to discover a complete set of the 1964 Britannica in a book sale at the public library - and to my astonishment, the price was only $10 for the whole set, which looks just like the picture at the top of this post. Of course I immediately grabbed a cart and loaded it up with the 24 volumes, paid the fussy queen at the reference desk who sneered silently at my purchase, and trundled merrily home with my treasure. Which for several years thereafter, I dipped into time after time, luxuriating in it. Booklover - what can I say?

Though I will tell you that the Britannica's editors made a very bad mistake in 1974, when they got the deranged idea of dividing up this precious resource into a Micropedia, Macropedia, and Propedia. None of which made any damn sense to anyone outside the editorial offices, and which made it damn near impossible to look up anything at all in subsequent editions. Which is why I prize my 1964 set all the more; plus the fact that many of its articles are written by experts in their field. The article on relativity, to take but one example, was written by none other than A. Einstein. I didn't understand the theory of relativity any better after I had read his article than I had before, but still - fellow booklovers will understand the delicious feeling of being able to meet the great and the good right there on the page.

Not that anyone cares about that sort of thing now except a few cobwebbed antiquarians like me. Crowd-sourcing, the hive mind, the Borg - ah yes, that is the way of the future that will lead us all into, not Truth, but Truthiness, in Stephen Colbert's famous bon mot. In a world peopled with special snowflakes, all sparkling, fragile, and enormously sensitive, pained and distressed by every little interruption to their ceaseless hum of self-congratulation, how dare any snowflake appear larger, smarter, or better than anyone else? How dare any blade of grass grow a millimeter taller than its neighbors? How dare anyone be uncool? Or different? How dare they!

And so the world moves, by its own volition, from dumb to dumber to dumbass - quite merrily, and nobody minds a bit. Grammar, spelling, multiplication tables, cursive writing (it's so haa-aarrd!), Latin, French, poetry, music, art - all these have now ceased to be taught in both elementary and high schools, with rare exceptions. Why should they? We have the Internet! We have Wikipedia! We don't need to actually know anything, or remember anything. We have digital memories!

No doubt a day is coming soon when memory itself will be as devalued as my encyclopedia volumes, for can you not forsee, my friends, the coming digital implants in your brains - why would you need to remember even your own name, when with a wink and a shrug of the left shoulder, you can call up the entire contents of Wikipedia, Facebook, and every single episode of The Simpsons? All endlessly replaying through what's left of your neural cortex, and continually updated in real-time by 7 billion of your fellow men, all wired together like you in one giant, omniscient, undeviating World Mind?

Oh and of course, all the porn you could ever want, 24/7, without even having to flip a page or click a mouse. Tell me, my friends - who could ask for more?

An interview with Jorge Cauz, president of Britannica:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Automotive Notes

I.  Driverless cars, the wave of the future?  Oh please God, no.

Untitled from Amanda Erickson on Vimeo.

II.  101-year-old lady drives 81-year-old Packard:

Go granny, go granny, go granny go!

Honk to Wounded Bird.

Conservative, Not Fanatical

Andrew Sullivan on David Cameron's drive for marriage equality in the United Kingdom:
In Britain, where the cause of marriage equality is being championed by a Conservative prime minister (rendering him, by US standards, a socialist Satanist), a new poll finds a plurality of 45 - 36 - in favor of turning same-sex civil partnerships into civil marriages. Another new poll finds very similar results: 43 - 32. Among those under 24, the support for full marriage equality is 66 percent. Among those over 60, it is 21 percent - an even more extreme generation gap than in the US. But for even the over-60s, 71 percent favor either civil marriage or civil partnerships with all the legal rights of civil marriage. Britain is light years ahead of the US now on this issue - because conservatism there is not in the grip of religious fundamentalism.

But it's particularly gratifying to see in Britain how the Conservatives are actually leading the way in reforming this institution to include every Brit, gay or straight. That's in the tradition of Burke and Disraeli, who both believed that institutions needed to be reformed in order to remain the same in a constantly changing society. Cameron used this issue - full inclusion of and equality for gays - and an aggressive response to climate change as the key indicators that he was a modern conservative, not a religious reactionary. In the US, these two issues have now become fundamentalist litmus tests. To be a conservative in America means implacable hostility to any recognition of gay relationships and denial of the existence of climate change. Both positions are driven by religious fundamentalism.

In a sane and rational American landscape, the Republican Party ought to look and sound a lot more like this.  But I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Not in My Name

As I wrote some time back, I no longer care to post many stories about the awful things that happen in the world.  Too much bad news makes me numb and listless.  But this horror in Afghanistan -  done by a soldier wearing the uniform of my country - it so grieves my conscience and all my moral sense, and is so utterly repugnant to contemplate that I have to speak out and say the only thing I can:

I'm sorry.  And I am so ashamed for my country.

That doesn't cover it or change it or make it any less terrible, I know.  But I hope the Afghan people know that this inexcusable massacre is not something the American people ever willed or wanted, nor the vast majority of our soldiers.

I'm so sorry.  I don't know what else to say.  So very, very sorry.

May God give peace to the dead, comfort to the grieving, and have mercy on us all.

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: Fallen Angel

Steve Hayes reviews the 1945 thriller:
Dana Andrews, Alice Faye, and Linda Darnell collide with tragic consequences in Otto Preminger's moody film noir classic, FALLEN ANGEL. It's the tale of what happens when a drifter (Andrews) blows into a small California town and sets into motion a series of desperate, seedy and violent incidents, revolving around the obsession of several men with a beautiful and provocative waitress (Darnell). Filmed on the heels of Laura and using many of the same technical people, it also stars Charles Bickford, Anne Revere, and Percy Kilbride, and is film noir excitement at its very best.

Catch more fabulous reviews at Steve's YouTube channel.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lovelight: It's You

Jeezus, if only they'd had TV shows like this when I was staring at the ceiling of my room, wondering and fearing I was the only boy in the whole world who had ever felt these things, or ever would.

Good night, guys, and may all your dreams be lovely ones.

The Pork Boys Do a Bunch of Goodies

Your Head Trucker's part-time job.

So last night I braved the wind and the rain to haul myself down to M.P.'s place to be guinea pig for a bunch of new recipes he wanted to try out and get feedback on, with a view to the catering business he wants to start in a couple of years when he retires.  And oh my there were a LOT of goodies, not sure I can remember them all right now but they included:

Egg-knot pastry with icing and slivered almonds

Maple-and-bacon muffins (two kinds, sweet and savory)

Apple-and-cheddar muffins

Spinach chausson - creamed spinach baked in a roll of puff pastry.

Miniature cordon bleus - individual fried roll-ups of chicken, turkey, ham, and cheese, I think, deep fried.

Chicken strips - very thinly sliced breast meat rolled in breadcrumbs and fried, served with honey-mustard sauce and barbecue sauce

Disco fries - homemade french fries covered with chicken gravy and shredded cheese

Pilon de poulet etouffe - chicken drumsticks baked in gravy and served over rice

Strawberry turnovers - Sugared strawberries with honey and cottage cheese baked in a triangle of puff pastry - he's gotten awfully good at making that from scratch - with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

And maybe more but that's all I can recall at the moment.  Oh my was it good, a delightful, delectable evening.  Of course, we ate only a small serving of each thing, and even so I came home quite stuffed but with a load of scrumptious leftovers that I can't wait to try again.

Sunday Drive: Beautiful Isle of Somewhere

This lovely old hymn was a favorite of my papaw's, and I had it played at my mother's funeral.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Color My World

Just thinkin':  What if somebody said green is the color of growing things, therefore green is the only natural color, no others allowed.  I mean, green is very nice and all, but . . . wouldn't that be a kind of tunnel vision?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Waitin' for the Weekend

This week, studboy Eric Hanson is winding my crank big time:

full view here (nsfw)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Queering the Animal Kingdom

Bighorn sheep came out of the closet long before we did.

Animal behavior is not a direct guide to human behavior, for several very good and obvious reasons; but it still gives us some valuable insights into the biology and psychology of sex.  Excerpt from an article in Slate magazine:
In an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan on Sunday, former Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron called homosexuality “unnatural,” and a behavior that is “ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.” We’ve heard that many species of nonhuman animals engage in gay sex, which calls into question the first part of Cameron’s statement. But what about the practice of shunning gays—can animals be homophobic too?

Not as far as we know. Homosexual behavior has been documented in hundreds of animal species, but the same does not hold for gay-bashing. For starters, few animals are exclusively gay. Two female Japanese macaques might have playful sex with each other on Tuesday, then mate with males on Wednesday. Pairs of male elephants sometimes form years-long companionships that include sexual activity, while their heterosexual couplings tend to be one-night stands. For these and many other species, sexual preferences seem to be fluid rather than binary: Gay sex doesn’t make them gay, and straight sex doesn’t make them straight. In these cases, the concept of homophobia simply doesn’t apply. . . .

Researchers believe that gay sex is even rewarded in certain species. For bonobos, sexual activity serves as an instrument of social harmony: It reinforces bonds and keeps the peace. For instance, when a female bonobo migrates into a new group, she often ingratiates herself to the clan’s other ladies by having a lot of sex with them. Far from being shunned, this homosexual behavior is welcomed. And former Stanford researcher Joan Roughgarden has argued that among male bighorn sheep bisexuality may be the norm; those that don’t participate end up as outcasts.
And from Seed magazine's 2006 article about Roughgarden's research:
Male big horn sheep live in what are often called “homosexual societies.” They bond through genital licking and anal intercourse, which often ends in ejaculation. If a male sheep chooses to not have gay sex, it becomes a social outcast. Ironically, scientists call such straight-laced males “effeminate.”

Giraffes have all-male orgies. So do bottlenose dolphins, killer whales, gray whales, and West Indian manatees. Japanese macaques, on the other hand, are ardent lesbians; the females enthusiastically mount each other. Bonobos, one of our closest primate relatives, are similar, except that their lesbian sexual encounters occur every two hours. Male bonobos engage in “penis fencing,” which leads, surprisingly enough, to ejaculation. They also give each other genital massages.

As this list of activities suggests, having homosexual sex is the biological equivalent of apple pie: Everybody likes it. At last count, over 450 different vertebrate species could be beheaded in Saudi Arabia. You name it, there’s a vertebrate out there that does it. Nevertheless, most biologists continue to regard homosexuality as a sexual outlier. According to evolutionary theory, being gay is little more than a maladaptive behavior.

Joan Roughgarden, a professor of biology at Stanford University, wants to change that perception. After cataloging the wealth of homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom two years ago in her controversial book Evolution’s Rainbow — and weathering critiques that, she says, stemmed largely from her being transgendered — Roughgarden has set about replacing Darwinian sexual selection with a new explanation of sex. For too long, she says, biology has neglected evidence that mating isn’t only about multiplying. Sometimes, as in the case of all those gay sheep, dolphins and primates, animals have sex just for fun or to cement their social bonds. Homosexuality, Roughgarden says, is an essential part of biology, and can no longer be dismissed. By using the queer to untangle the straight, Roughgarden’s theories have the potential to usher in a scientific sexual revolution. . . .

Of course, most humans don’t see sex as a way of maintaining the social contract. Our lust doesn’t seem logical, especially when that logic involves the abstruse calculations of game theory. Furthermore, it’s strange for most people to think of themselves as naturally bisexual. Being gay or straight seems to be an intrinsic and implacable part of our identity. Roughgarden disagrees. “In our culture, we assume that there is a straight-gay binary, and that you are either one or the other. But if you look at vertebrates, that just isn’t the case. You will almost never find animals or primates that are exclusively gay. Other human cultures show the same thing.” Since Roughgarden believes that the hetero/homo distinction is a purely cultural creation, and not a fact of biology, she thinks it is only a matter of time before we return to the standard primate model. “I’m convinced that in 50 years, the gay-straight dichotomy will dissolve. I think it just takes too much social energy to preserve. All this campy, flamboyant behavior: It’s just such hard work.”

What I say: Your Head Trucker finds all this research mildly interesting, and an excellent rebuttal to the fundamentalists. Still, there doesn't have to be a reason for gayness, you know. It is what it is, and what it is is human - "that is all ye know, and all ye need to know."
You must remember this,
A kiss is still a kiss,
A sigh is just a sigh--
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by . . . .

It's OK to Be Takei

George Takei reveals a snap-snap-snap! side of himself that he never showed on Star Trek in this PSA slamming Tennessee lawmakers and their efforts to pass a don't-say-gay bill:

Tennessee Lawmakers: We Need To Chat from Allegiance - A New Musical on Vimeo.

Via The Advocate.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How Do You Solve a Problem like Maggie?

Jane Lynch as Maggie Gallagher in the courtroom drama 8, which
aired live from Los Angeles last weekend; catch the whole video here.

Gay marriage will destroy the family and make straight couples not get married: so goes the logic of homophobes like Maggie Gallagher and all the rest. Marriage, they say, is only for the purpose of conceiving and raising children: conveniently ignoring the fact that all kinds of straight people can and do get married when they either can't reproduce or refuse to, and nobody thinks a damn thing about it.

But how can you make people who aren't rabid fanatics see the truth, as opposed to the lies about marriage equality? An excerpt from Slate magazine's article, "When the Facts Don't Matter":
Research commissioned by the Third Way, a moderate think tank in Washington, illustrates how this might look. A team of research psychologists conducted in-depth interviews with members of the “moveable middle,” or those considered open to supporting gay equality but not yet fully there. They used psychological tools to identify their subjects’ emotional states and concerns around issues of gay equality. What their research revealed were subconscious anxieties around what they perceive to be a world spinning out of control, a feeling exacerbated by a sense that new understandings of old institutions are being forced upon them. Some may oppose same-sex marriage in an effort to seize control and bolster values they see as besieged. . . .

Equality Maryland, the state’s major LGBT equality group, recently helped secure the freedom to marry with a message that gay people, like straight people, seek to “make a public promise of love and responsibility for each other and ask our friends and family to hold us accountable.” The values that would be more likely to appeal to liberals who already endorse same-sex marriage—those of individual rights and entitlements—were not the message. In her forthcoming book, Supreme Court lawyer Linda Hirshman argues that a rhetoric of moral values, which itself strikes many as conservative, was the gay movement’s “surprise weapon” in beginning to win the freedom to marry. Telling the stories of heroic caretaking throughout the AIDS crisis and of committed relationships through thick and thin, advocates stopped relying on feeble appeals to tolerance, and showed naysayers that gay people shared their moral values and deserved equal treatment.

This doesn't mean that liberal equality advocates must turn more conservative in order to advocate to the middle. What it means is recognizing the common ground that already exists, in the form of what I’d call “sub-values” (responsibility, fairness, respect for tradition, sanctity) within the larger values debate around homosexuality.

This was convincing to Ted Olsen, former solicitor general under President George W. Bush, who explained that he joined a constitutional challenge to California’s gay marriage ban to protect conservative values: “We believe that a conservative value is stable relationships and stable community and loving individuals coming together and forming a basis that is a building block of our society, which includes marriage.” Along the same lines, after discovering in their research that some moderates were offended by seeing same-sex couples throwing weddings in jeans or during parades, Third Way recommended that gay and lesbian couples find a way to signal they took marriage seriously, appreciating the sanctity of such a solemn commitment.

Are Women People?

Given Republican men's new-found and gleeful obsession with slandering and subjugating women - who, it seems, should once again be kept barefoot and pregnant, and perhaps shackled to the kitchen stove - that will probably be in Santorum's next speech - a strange thought just occurred to me: 

Is it possible - is it really possible that this election won't be centered around the awesome, abominable wickedness of teh gayz?  For the first time since I don't know when?

Is it true that female is the new gay?

Is a pair of X chromosomes really just a birth defect?

Read these articles and draw your own conclusions, pardners:

Time magazine:  Subject for Debate:  Are Women People?

Also:  Men Have Sex Too

New York Times:  Who Decided That This Election Should Be About Sex?

Photo: Honk to Wounded Bird.

Another Navy Homecoming

Sailor Jonathan Jewell, at right, greets his boyfriend, Sean Sutton, with a kiss after returning home from a 7-month deployment to the Persian Gulf aboard the U.S.S. John C. Stennis.  I'm lovin' these out-and-open homecoming kisses, aren't you, guys?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

That Picket Fence

A young gay couple chooses monogamy over an open relationship:
I’m not like that. Call it jealousy, call it insecurity, I simply couldn’t process being open. Both my partner and I come from stable, loving homes with heterosexual parents that have remained committed and monogamous. They, along with greater society, have taught us that this lifestyle brings the greatest deal of personal joy and emotional fulfillment. We have fully bought into the idea and don’t think ourselves narrow-minded for doing so. You could argue we are being blinded by societal norms rather than fully experiencing what we may carnally desire. That may even be true, but: we are happy. For us sex is still all of these things: a primal fit of passion of physical desire, an intense emotional intimacy, or just a way to release an unrelenting case of morning wood. I simply cannot imagine the man I love sharing himself in any of those ways and then returning to our bed after a shower.

We want what our parents have. Give us about thirty years and you might get an invite to our future son or daughter’s (most likely heterosexual) wedding. We’ll be in the front row: the proud Dads that still want only each other.

I call it maturity and character.

Anybody can be a dog, or a 14-year-old with an everlasting boner, whacking it at every opportunity with or without a partner. Even when they're past 60. It takes no talent, no self-respect, no commitment of any kind - just a hard-on.

If you can't be any other way, well, fine. Enjoy your life.

Just don't lie about it, starting with yourself - and don't mindfuck guys who want something that can't be found on every street corner.

See also: Being a Man Means Putting Others Before Yourself.

The Story Behind Lawrence v. Texas

Excerpt from the New Yorker's review of Flagrant Conduct by Dale Carpenter, professor at the University of Minnesota School of Law, about the landmark 2003 Supreme Court case:
Lawrence and Garner may have been reluctant to talk to civil-rights lawyers from the outset, and reluctant to become the face of gay sodomy in Texas, and yet this imperfect test case could be made over into something more than serviceable. Lambda Legal, a national gay-rights advocacy group, agreed to represent them as a means both of directly challenging Bowers v. Hardwick and of highlighting the consequences of criminalizing consensual gay sex. Sodomy laws were almost never enforced, but their very existence legitimatized a culture of homophobia, and as long as Bowers was still on the books gay-rights arguments would be stymied in the courts.

The legal opportunity depended, however, upon persuading the defendants to go along with an unusual strategy. High-powered lawyers would represent Lawrence and Garner, as long as they agreed to stop saying they weren’t guilty and instead entered a “no contest” plea. By doing so, the two were promised relative personal privacy, and given a chance to become a part of gay-civil-rights history. The cause was greater than the facts themselves. Lawrence and Garner understood that they were being asked to keep the dirty secret that there was no dirty secret.

That’s the punch line: the case that affirmed the right of gay couples to have consensual sex in private spaces seems to have involved two men who were neither a couple nor having sex. In order to appeal to the conservative Justices on the high court, the story of a booze-soaked quarrel was repackaged as a love story. Nobody had to know that the gay-rights case of the century was actually about three or four men getting drunk in front of a television in a Harris County apartment decorated with bad James Dean erotica.

State by State

New Yorker cover by Bob Staake.

What Homosexuality Is Not

Another short video by independent filmmaker Ryan James Yezak in support of the documentary he is working on, Second Class Citizens:   click here to support the project with a $1 or $5 contribution.

Frankly, I admire the concept but I find the tone too strident and the speakers too limited to one age group. What do you think about it, guys?

Monday, March 5, 2012

"Please Torture Me in the Old Way"

Three years into the Obama administration, Guantanamo is still very much in business, guys, in case you forgot. An excerpt from The Independent, but do go read the whole article:
On the day he marks 10 years locked inside the world's most notorious prison without having been charged with an offence, the last UK resident in Guantanamo Bay pleads with his captors: "Please torture me in the old way . . . .  Here they destroy people mentally and physically without leaving marks."

Speaking from his cell through letters and comments published for the first time in The Independent today, Shaker Aamer, who has never stood trial, reveals the torment of his captivity and removal from his family. Yesterday a senior British source close to the talks admitted that Mr Aamer's detention was "unconscionable". His plight was raised most recently with the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week.

Fears are growing for the welfare of Mr Aamer, from south London, who is now 45 and has a wife and four children. He has never met his youngest son. His lawyers are particularly concerned by the deterioration of his mental and physical state, which Mr Aamer describes vividly in his letters. He has lost 40 per cent of his body weight and is suffering from health problems, aggravated by long periods in solitary confinement. . . .

A British resident, born in Saudi Arabia, Mr Aamer had indefinite leave to remain in the UK when he was reportedly sold to the US in 2001 by Afghan villagers for $5,000. He claims he was helping to build a school. The US claims he was fighting with the Taliban.
Ten years in prison, not seeing his family, tortured and put in solitary confinement - and has never been charged with anything, never been given a trial: all this is being done in YOUR NAME and on your behalf, my fellow Americans.

Do you give a damn?

Do you think it can't happen to you?

Somebody posted this comment on another blog:
Why am I supposed to care about the detainees in Gitmo? People get hacked to death by machete every day all over Africa. Nobody says anything. Nobody has ever died in Gitmo. If waterboarding these motherfuckers saves the life of one American, its fine with me.
What do you say, my friends?

Cardinal Compares Gay Marriage to Slavery

From The Independent:
Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the head of Catholics in Scotland, described gay marriage as a "grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right" and said the Government's plan to reform marriage laws was "madness".

In a stinging response to the Government's assurances that no church would be compelled to conduct gay marriages, he wrote: "No government has the moral authority to dismantle the universally understood meaning of marriage.

"Imagine for a moment that the Government had decided to legalise slavery but assured us that 'no one will be forced to keep a slave'. Would such worthless assurances calm our fury? Would they justify dismantling a fundamental human right? Or would they simply amount to weasel words masking a great wrong?" The strength of the Cardinal's intervention caused outrage among gay-rights activists and supporters of same-sex marriages.

Ben Summerskill, from the gay-rights campaign group Stonewall, described the Cardinal's language as "insensitive beyond words".

"The increasingly shrill tone of what Cardinal Keith O'Brien is saying suggests that he believes he is losing the argument," he told The Independent. "I'm surprised that the Cardinal is now portraying himself as being in the vanguard of protecting children. There are hundreds of thousands of children who were abused by his church, a fact that was hidden for decades by institutional cover-up. And now he feels it necessary to rush to 'protect' the small number of children who might grow up with lesbian and gay parents in long-term, stable and loving relationships."

How to Wipe Your Google History

From Wired, via Andrew Sullivan:
If you've been to Google's homepage lately — and the chances you have are astronomical — you may have noticed a little announcement mentioning something about changes in Google's privacy policy. You then probably ignored it — but you shouldn't.

On March 1st, 2012, Google will implement a new, unified privacy policy. The new policy is retroactive, meaning it will affect any data Google has collected on you prior to that date, as well as any data it gathers afterward. The official Google Blog has more details on what the new privacy policy means. But what does all of this legal jargon mean practically? Basically, under the new policy, your Google Web History (all of your searches and the sites you clicked through to) can be combined with other data Google has gathered about you from other services — Gmail, Google+, etc.

Previously Google kept your search history separate, which means that its profile of you was less complete. If you'd like to keep your personal data a good distance away from Google, you'll need to delete your existing search history and prevent Google from using that history in the future.
Click here for a quick quide to wiping your web history from Google and keeping it private.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lovelight: Evergreen

Joe Jervis reminded his readers a few days ago that this song was number one thirty-five years ago right now.  Which hit your Head Trucker right between the eyes - where the hell did the time go? I do recall being entranced by this song when it was brand new, and dreaming dreams that young men have always dreamed, with one set of pronouns or another. At that age, it was easy to believe not merely in the possibility of happily-ever-after, but in its certainty as well.

Ah well.  We live and learn.  Meanwhile, just enjoy the might-have-been here with some studly pronouns - and dream of a dangling modifier or two.

Sleep tight, guys.

Evolution, Also Known as Clarity

Found at the Bilerico Project:  A gay man who, full of 70's anti-marriage rancor, long derided the institution is now addressing wedding invitations with his fiance, much to his astonishment:
I can barely believe I'm saying this - 2 years ago I would have labeled this line of thought reactionary and dangerous - but I have no doubt that the best way to spend the rest of my life is in a sexually exclusive, till-death-do-us-part relationship with this man who wants the same thing and wants it with me. The vow of permanence, the no-exit of it, is what makes it desirable, what makes it even possible. I wouldn't consider it otherwise. It is what allows me to relax into its arms. It is what allows me to experience it as an opening up rather than a shutting down of possibilities. I don't have to worry when we fight what it means about our future. What it means is that we better talk it out now because forever is a long time to live with resentment caused by an argument about washing the dishes.

I am 50 years old. I have been in relationships that were beautiful and intense, that lasted years, with the most wonderful men, relationships for which I have no regrets but on the contrary have deep gratitude and appreciation, but they ended, and I have no interest in endings any more. I've said that, though I love cats and miss having them around, I don't want any more cats because I watched 4 of them die and I can't do it again. I can't do it again.

I don't want a contingent relationship, I don't want a commitment that's good until one of us falls in love with someone else or feels restless or bored or trapped, or until we "grow apart." It's a marriage. If we grow apart, we'll grow the fuck back together.

I know for a fact that my change in attitude has something to do with my age. I could not have made this commitment, I could not have felt this way, wanted this, when I was 25, or 35, or 45. I know exactly what I'm putting aside for this, and I know I'm done with it.

For the record, some of us never bought that 70's free-love jazz to begin with, and felt that way and wanted all that when we were 25, and the disco era not yet quite gone away. 

I'm just sayin'.

Sunday Drive: His Eye Is on the Sparrow

The great Ethel Waters singing a classic Southern favorite, "His Eye Is on the Sparrow," in a famous clip from the 1952 movie The Member of the Wedding, based on a novel by Carson McCullers.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Beginning at 9:45 pm, Texas time (is there any other kind?) via YouTube or AFER.
Featuring an all-star cast including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jane Lynch, Kevin Bacon and others, "8" is a play written by Academy Award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and directed by acclaimed actor and director Rob Reiner. It is a powerful account of the case filed by the American Federation for Equal Rights (AFER ) in the U.S. District Court in 2010 to overturn Proposition 8 [LINK], a constitutional amendment that eliminated the rights of same-sex couples to marry in the state of California. Framed around the trial's historic closing arguments in June 2010, 8 provides an intimate look what unfolded when the issue of same-sex marriage was on trial.

11:15 Texas time: The play's over, but it will be posted soon on YouTube and I'll repost it here on the Blue Truck when it is available.

I must admit, I'd heard this play was in the works months ago, but I couldn't imagine how anyone could make a lengthy court proceeding into a play without a lot of boredom; yet the writer, Dustin Lance Black, did just that, and the all-star cast was great.

I have to tell you, boys, when all those big stars walked out on stage at the beginning, your Head Trucker lost it for a moment or two:  in some sense I felt they were coming out for me, and for my Cody, and the little dog, and that life we had together for a flicker of time, in that tiny little town far out on the prairie - that this play was ultimately about us, and the millions of others like us, who wanted, and want, nothing more than to live a quiet, happy life just as the relatives and the neighbors do, a life protected and respected by the laws, a life of equal dignity and honor under the Constitution and the noblest principles of this Republic.

A life free from fear and free from interference: the equal protection of the laws, the pursuit of happiness. A life of Yes, not of No - of sunshine, not of shadow - of I Do, not of You Can't.

Just like everyone else. And bless God, that day is finally dawning for us all in this land - may it come quickly.

Update:  Here's the complete play, which runs an hour and a half; when the red button appears on the screen, click it to get started at the right place.

And one of the most memorable lines tonight was not in the script: after the play was over, attorneys for our side Ted Olson and David Boies were called onstage, where Boies remarked: "We put fear and prejudice on trial, and fear and prejudice lost."

"I Treasure the God Who Loves Me"

Well, former sitcom star, now evangelical Christian, Kirk Cameron expressed a nice little thought there.  Trouble is, why does he think his God loves him so much - and hates me and you, my truckbuddies?  Why does Cameron think God smiles with heavenly delight on his marriage - but would be moved to celestial wrath with yours or mine?  Why exactly does Cameron think he is a sinner Christ died to save - but you and I, Christ despised?

Listen to his interview with Piers Morgan and see if you can understand these things:

P.S. - Kirk, I have a clue for you: there was no Garden of Eden. Believe it or not.

Update: The Advocate reports:
The sometime actor sent an exclusive statement to ABCNews.com today to reply to his critics. “I spoke as honestly as I could, but some people believe my responses were not loving toward those in the gay community,” Cameron says. “That is not true. I can assuredly say that it’s my life’s mission to love all people. I should be able to express moral views on social issues, especially those that have been the underpinning of Western civilization for 2,000 years — without being slandered, accused of hate speech, and told from those who preach ‘tolerance’ that I need to either bend my beliefs to their moral standards or be silent when I’m in the public square.”

Cameron adds, “I believe we need to learn how to debate these things with greater love and respect. I’ve been encouraged by the support of many friends (including gay friends, incidentally).”

LGBT advocate Randy Roberts Potts, who is grandson of the late televangelist, Oral Roberts, has released a statement on Cameron’s response, saying, “Increasingly, Christians understand that loving their gay and lesbian family and friends means supporting them and advocating for protections for their families. Kirk may feel that he is defending the ‘underpinning of Western civilization’ through his words, but in reality they are harming those whom he claims to love. I hope that he will continue to study and pray on how he can demonstrate true Christian love toward gay and lesbian people.”

Oh, again with the invisible (imaginary?) "gay friends" routine . . . . Right.

Eternal Flame, Eternal Flake

And be advised: Santorum says he will invalidate the more than 150,000 same-sex marriages now existing if only he gets the chance.

Cartoon: Honk to David Mixner.

Contraception's Con Men

Garry Wills

Excerpt from a read-worthy essay by historian and Pulitzer-prize-winning author Garry Wills - a Catholic but also a longtime critic of Vatican policies - in the New York Review of Books:
By a revolting combination of con men and fanatics, the current primary race has become a demonstration that the Republican party does not deserve serious consideration for public office. Take the controversy over contraceptives. American bishops at first opposed having hospitals and schools connected with them pay employee health costs for contraceptives. But when the President backed off from that requirement, saying insurance companies can pay the costs, the bishops doubled down and said no one should have to pay for anything so evil as contraception. Some Republicans are using the bishops’ stupidity to hurt the supposed “moderate” candidate Mitt Romney, giving a temporary leg up to the faux naïf Rick Santorum; others are attacking Barack Obama as an “enemy of religion.”

Pusillanimous Catholics—Mark Shields and even, to a degree, the admirable E. J. Dionne—are saying that Catholics understandably resent an attack on “their” doctrine (even though they do not personally believe in it). Omnidirectional bad-faith arguments have clustered around what is falsely presented as a defense of “faith.” The layers of ignorance are equaled only by the willingness of people “of all faiths” to use them for their own purposes. Consider just some of the layers:

The bishops’ opposition to contraception is not an argument for a “conscience exemption.” It is a way of imposing Catholic requirements on non-Catholics. This is religious dictatorship, not religious freedom.

Contraception is not even a religious matter. Nowhere in Scripture or the Creed is it forbidden. Catholic authorities themselves say it is a matter of “natural law,” over which natural reason is the arbiter—and natural reason, even for Catholics, has long rejected the idea that contraception is evil. More of that later; what matters here is that contraception is legal, ordinary, and accepted even by most Catholics. To say that others must accept what Catholics themselves do not is bad enough. To say that President Obama is “trying to destroy the Catholic Church” if he does not accept it is much, much worse.

To disagree with Catholic bishops is called “disrespectful,” an offense against religious freedom. That is why there is a kind of taboo against bringing up Romney’s Mormonism. But if Romney sincerely believed in polygamy on religious grounds, as his grandfather did, he would not even be considered for the presidency—any more than a sincere Christian Scientist, who rejects the use of medicine, would be voted for to handle public health care. Yet a man who believes that contraception is evil is an aberrant from the American norm, like the polygamist or the faith healer. . . .
Do go read the rest of this well-reasoned essay, and the comments section as well.

What I Say: The Republican Party, as currently constituted, is wholly unfit to govern. No further elaboration is necessary on this point, which is self-evident to any reasonable being.

And another thing: I don't care how many Bibles or bulls or birettas they pile up to support it, the Catholic teaching that contraception is evil is simply bizarre - as crazy as anything that, say, Scientology might teach, and is an evil lie. The Catholic Church, to speak in the most broad and general terms, has a much greater comprehension of history and human society than perhaps a small-town Baptist church out here on the prairie - but even so, as the Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles state, "the Church of Rome hath erred . . ." and egregiously so in this matter so very necessary to the happiness of individuals and the wellbeing of society.

It's just damn wrong, and anyone who says otherwise is either a religious fanatic or a simpleton. It is nearly beyond belief that we are even having this debate now, in the 21st century - and yet, history offers ample proof that the wickedness and folly of the human race are inexhaustible.

See also: Andrew Sullivan's article, "The Politicization of Catholicism":
It's in this context that you have to understand the recent cruel withholding of communion to a lesbian daughter at her mother's funeral, or the abrupt firing of a gifted music teacher because he sought to marry the man he loves. As modern society shifts, and as its own flock shifts with it, the Church hierarchy has decided to double-down on its sexual absolutism. The cruelty comes with it.

Child Scarred for Life after "The Talk" about His Gay Uncle

A heterosexual mother in the UK writes:
I've been forced to explain homosexuality to my kids (aged 3 and 4) because their uncle is gay. This incredibly difficult and traumatic experience went as follows:
Child: Why does Uncle Bob go everywhere with Pete?
Me: Because they're in love, just like Mummy and Daddy are.
Child: Oh. Can I have a biscuit?
We're all scarred for life. Scarred, I tell you.

From the Guardian via AmericablogGay.
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