Thursday, December 31, 2009

For Old Long Since-- Good Riddance 2009

On New Year's, the Scots have a tradition of "first footing," where friends and neighbors strive to be the first ones to cross the threshold of your home after the New Year arrives. They are rewarded for their attempt at first footing by the host offering free whiskey. This is such a popular custom that first footing attempts can continue until January 3rd.

2009 has had its bright moments. We Inaugurated the right man. My sister re-married a man I am proud to call brother. And I have a new gay nephew. Eli moved closer and is a total joy. Dave and I celebrated 22 years. And we have a great new dog, Dori.

On the other side of the scale there is the loss of Dixie, the recession, the war(s), the disappointments in the Obama administration, a new terrorist attack and, as a result, new security theater at the airport (and in the sky).

It was also the year cancer attacked my father, a battle we continue at the closing of the year.

For all its blessings, 2009 was a year that beat against the soul for me. I am glad it is over.

The Scottish poem and song, Auld Lang Syne, is about going through rough times but but being able to rely on the friendships and family who have been with you for times long since...

And so, 2009 passes. Good riddance. And in the spirit of the song:

And there’s a hand my trusty friend !And give us a hand o’ thine !

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dave Barry's Year in Review

Dave's summation of 2009 gave me giggles. This recollection from September made me laugh out loud:

On the international-finance front, leaders of the world's economic powers
gather for the G-20 summit meeting in Pittsburgh, where, in a rare display of
unity, they vote unanimously to fire whoever is responsible for selecting their
meeting sites.

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's Civil Marriage, Dammit

As happy as I am about marriage equality moving forward in DC, and as thankful I am to the religious leaders here who stood up for marriage equality, this is the wrong move.

It's hard enough already to separate civil marriage from religion and church from state in dealing with matters homosexual. Fenty is as clumsy as he is courageous.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Merry Christmas for Atheists

An Arkansas judge rules that "freethinkers" can set up a holiday display with images of Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt and Bill Gates (What Gates has to do with anything "free" is beyond me), next to the Nativity scene at the state capitol. As Blue Arkansas said:

Not every Arkansan celebrates Christmas you know, and if one religion is entitled to be represented in state government then they all are.


The true test for freedom of religion will be when an image of Mohamed is erected on the town square during Ramadan (or whatever the Muslim equivalent of Nativity during Christmas would be).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Items May Shift

Question. I paid $40 to check my bags and then was told I needed to put my backpack under the seat in front of me so people who didn't pay to check their bags could use the overhead bins. I refused. Was that reasonable or out of line?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thou Shalt Be Like Me: A Tale of Fear From North Carolina

In North Carolina, conservative activists are suing to remove re-elected Raleigh City Councilman Cecil Bothwell. Not because of fraud, abuse of duty, hiking on the Appalachian Trail or giving his girlfriend a raise on the public dole.

Not because he wants to limit the death penalty (as if city-level government could do that) or because he wants to conserve water and downtown trees.

No, conservatives want him out of office because Bothwell doesn't believe in God.

And a quaint 1868 provision in North Carolina's constitution makes it illegal for an atheist to hold office in the state. No, I am not making this up.

Of course, that case won't stand up against the U.S. Constitution, which precludes religious tests for holding public office. But it may not deter these conservative activists from launching jihad against Mr. Bothwell.

(In a bit of journalistic sloppiness the AP story that I take this from calls Bothwell an atheist but also says he belongs to the Unitarian church. Unitarians, if judging by the UUC I attended briefly in Jacksonville, do believe in something, they're just not sure what. Perhaps if the conservative activists fail in court, they can get the KKK to burn a giant question mark on Bothwell's front lawn.)

Here's what I don't get about many of the Christian, straight white men in this country:

They are scared shitless. Woefully insecure, they can't tolerate difference.

In this case, they can't be secure in their own beliefs unless the law mandates everyone be like them. If you're different you are legally precluded from society.

In the case of gays in the military, the majority would have us believe our military can resolutely face down global terrorism but if one GI Joe wants to kiss another the whole thing would fall apart.

Growing up gay in a straight world has the advantage of making me feel secure in who I am. Buffeted by unrelenting pressure to conform to the straight world, I had to develop a strong sense of self to survive. I am certain, and secure, in my sexuality and masculinity. I do not tremble or experience self-doubt if a see a man and a woman kiss or get married. And as someone who tries to have an open mind about religion but who has had dominant doubts and questions since college, those doubts and questions don't go away because a majority believes something that I don't. I I certainly don't need laws that mandate everyone be like me or believe what I believe. I don't need laws that mandate that people like me.

I just want to be left alone. And have the same shot in life everyone else does, whether they are like me or not.

Why do so many in the straight, white, male majority have a problem with that?

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Tale of Two Carols

Here's two versions of Carol of the Bells by the Mormon Tabernacle choir...the first is a high octane orchestrated version in which the chorus seems to get kind of pissed, and the other is an a cappella arrangment which seems to me to be less bombastic without losing the urgency of the message the song is intended to empart. Still, I like them both.

Ding, dong, ding dong.



Monday, December 07, 2009

Safest Seats on an Airplane

Popular Mechanics analyzed survivor statstics of airline crashes since 1971 and answered the question, "where's the safest seat?" Hint: First class passengers, you're doomed.

Click to enlarge.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Friday, December 04, 2009

Is the Hadron Collider Shrinking the Economy?

Jerry thinks so.

Leave Tiger Alone

We don't really know what transpired at Tiger's house before his infamous ride. And it's none of our business. Assuming he broke no laws other than reckless driving, for which he's been fined, we don't have the "right to know" anything. Tiger is not married to us. He's not a politician running on a "family values" platform. His golf game doesn't depend on whether he stays faithful to the missus or boinks every cocktail waitress from Ponte Vedre to Palm Springs. Frankly, I give him credit for this statement:

"Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn't have to mean public confessions."

Sure, we might find some fun or schadenfreude in learning all the details (as regrettably we probably will). But that's cheap.

Tiger will work his personal problems out with his wife. Or not. But until he steps back on links we should leave him the hell alone.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

"We Have Nothing to Fear From Love and Commitment

A New York Senator knocks it out of the park for marriage equality. The other side wasn't listening. (Hat tip: Graham Gillette)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Liberal Reagan?

Some bloggers, notably the one at the other end of Euclid Street, has argued that Obama is the liberal version of Reagan. Great communicator, transformative, all of that.

I don't know about that. But it does look like he is Reagan in at least one way. The Gipper gave great lip service to the religious right but didn't actually do a lot to further their social agenda.

Obama has made great statements on gay civil rights. But hasn't actually done much -- if anything -- to enact them.

Harry Thomas, Marriage Equality Champ

I agree with DCists praise of DC City Council Member Harry Thomas Jr.'s vote in support of marriage equality. As the DC blog points out, Thomas was one of few council members who could face political fallout for voting for the measure. But Thomas said:

"I represent a ward that is torn down the middle on this issue," he said. "But as a legislator, I cannot allow my personal...or religious life to allow for the disenfranchisement of any individual in the District."

Thomas could have taken the safe path, voted no, knowing the measure was going to pass, making those who favor marriage equality in his ward less motivated, since the final vote went their way anyway. As it is, opponents to marriage equality are angry and motivated and have vowed to go after council members who supported the measure.

Lets hope some Senators in the New York legislator find some of Harry Thomas' courage.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Good Grief! Obama Hates Charlie Brown

Obama's speech tonight has bumped the annual Charlie Brown Christmas Special, which prompted this blog post. And this comment (one of the more re-printable ones):

"He wouldn't preempt a Muslim TV show."