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."

Monday, November 30, 2009

Meanwhile, the Fierce Advocate:

Via the Independent Gay Forum:

"Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, a libertarian-leaning Regan-appointee, orders health benefits for a lesbian spouse of a federal employee, and the Obama White House, through its highest ranking openly gay appointee (John Berry, head of the Office of Personnel Management), attempts to thwart the judge's order?"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Congress Suddenly Interested in Respecting DC's Voters?

HT: Joe My God.

DC Mayor Adrian Fenty and Council Chair Vincent Gray were called on the carpet by Congress for not allowing the majority of District residents to vote on the civil rights of a minority. Let's listen in:

At a hearing on proposed changes to the city's Home Rule Act, two Republicans on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee grilled Fenty and Gray about why the District will not allow a public vote.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah), the ranking member of the subcommittee that has oversight over District laws, noted that voters in 31 states have rejected same-sex marriage. "I'm disappointed the people are not getting an opportunity to vote on this issue," Chaffetz said.

Yes, you see, Congress -- Republicans in particular -- really care about respecting the wishes of DC's voters. That's why they've blocked attempts to actually giving DC voting representation in Congress. And why they feel they can waltz in and undo actual initiatives approved by District voters.

Case-in-point: Medical Marijuana. In 1998, 69 percent of DC's voters approved a ballot initiative authorizing medical marijuana. 69 percent.

And then, since Congress respects the will of the peeple so much, former Rep. Bob Barr, a Republican from Georgia, stepped in, said no, and through an amendment killed the implementation of medical marijuana which had won approval from DC's Congressional subjects voters.

To the meddlesome members of Congress: if others can vote on my equal rights, I want the same opportunity. Fair is fair.

And it's great that you want to respect the will of the people of the District of Columbia. Do that all the time, not just when it fits your narrow social homophobic agenda.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Wish for the New "Blade"

As the former staff of the Washington Blade plans their new publication, with pleas to the DC local community for support, I hope they will revisit their practice of keeping the local community at arms length.

For 10 years I was conductor of the DC's Different Drummers Symphonic Band. During that time we couldn't pro-actively talk to the reporters or editors at the Blade covering us. A PR professional -- a person who makes his living dealing with the media -- who we had engaged to help us with publicity says he had never encountered such unprofessionalism and unresponsiveness as he did at the Blade. Meanwhile, the Blade, when they did cover us, would take our press releases and edit them, making what they published about us totally factually inaccurate. No surprise -- they kept us at arm's length. This was not a DC's Different Drummers complaint only. I heard similar frustrations at meetings of the LGBT Arts Consortium meetings I attended at the time. The complaint was a familiar refrain: the Blade did not know or interact with the local DC LGBT community.

Now that they need community support -- and I am not opposed to giving it -- I hope they will change that practice.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Washington Blade Shuts Down

The Washington Blade, serving our community for 40 years, has closed its doors for good.

While not totally surprising, the suddeness was a bit of a shock.

The question now -- what becomes of the Blade's archive? I would hate to think that this archive, which covers our history since Stonewall in 1969 to the upcoming vote in the DC City Council for marriage equality on Dec 1 (the Blade's last front page headline), will be lost.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


UPDATE: The demise of the WashBlade today (Monday, Nov. 16) means the Blade link doesn't work.

Good news -- Barney Frank says DADT may be repealed in 2010, according to an article in the Washington Blade.

But if you wonder why much of our agenda has languished in Congress over the past decade, two quotes shed light on our time spent wondering in the wilderness.

On the question of the timing of DADT repeal, first we have HRC:

"Asked about Frank’s prediction for the repeal strategy, Allison Herwitt, legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, said her organization 'always takes its cues from its congressional allies.'"

Check. We wait for "cues" from the folks who are supposed to represent us about when they will act to end injustice against us. Got it.

Now, let's throw it over to Kevin Nix, spokesperson for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network:

"Nix also said SLDN is urging President Obama to include repeal as part of his defense budget request, which is expected to be delivered to Congress early next year."

Wait. What? SLDN is "urging" action by the government on our behalf? Actually "urging?" Not waiting for "cues" before asking on bended knee to stop injustice against us? You mean they're not letting others tell us "When we say so, and not before that?"

How impatient of them! Hopefully, someday they will cease being political novices and fall in line with the establishment. Then they will stop rocking the boat and making our "Congressional allies" queasy from having to actually follow through on the promises they made to us when they took our money and our votes.

Meanwhile, let's sit here on our hands and hope the "cues" will come soon.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Least of These


Truly I say to you, as you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." (Gospel of St. Matthew: 35.40)

The DC Archdiocese, saying they will end their Charity Organization's work in the District if marriage equality is passed:

Church officials say Catholic Charities would have to suspend its social services work for the city, rather than provide employee benefits to same-sex married couples or allow them to adopt. (Gospel of St. Katherine of Graham, a.k.a., the WaPo).

So, the Church would end it's social programs (helping thousands of kids and the elderly), on the off chance they might have to provide health insurance to a gay employee's spouse? Really?

Has Archbishop Wuerl actually, um, read the Bible?

I'm not one who supports forcing private organizations (like the Boy Scouts, say) to accomodate gay people. And I would oppose efforts to force churches that oppose marriage equality to hold gay weddings in their chapels. But when it comes to employment law, if the church has employees, it has to follow employment law. It's the cost of doing business -- the cost of rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's. And the church gets something back for being a part of society. Your tax dollars can pay to bus Catholic school students on public school busses. And it pays for their secular textbooks, standardized tests and scoring, and diagnostic and therapeutic services.

Not to mention they get benefits from taxes without having to pay taxes.

I'd say the church gets a pretty good deal from Caesar.

But let's look at this another way.

Spousal employee benefits are primarily health care. So if mariage equality passes in DC, is it counter to Jesus' teachings to provide access to health care to an employee's spouse even if that person is gay? Catholic Charities already provides health care services directly to 3,000 people, according to the WaPo article. Presumably, some numer of those 3,000 people are gay. So Catholic Charities is undoutedly already providing direct services to gay folk in the city. But it can't bring itself to do that for the civil spouse of one of it's own employees? They don't have to bless or recognize the union -- just provide access to health care for another human being. Or, to put it in Jesus' words: "When...I was sick, you visited me."

Or, in the case of adoption, giving a previously unwanted baby a loving home? "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me..."

But, silly me, there I go again quoting Jesus. I forgot this was about organized religion and has nothing to do with Him.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Detour Through Section 60

Marriage Defined

One of the biggest myths that the anti-marriage equality folks cling to is that marriage "between one man and one woman" is the way it's been throughout human history. They know not history nor even the bibles they thump. How many bible characters - favored by God - had a marriage that was one man and many women? Not to mention the concubines? But don't take it from me, listen to Dan Savage talk about how straight people evolved marriage making it the institution of privileges and responsibilities between two consenting adults that it is today.

Oh, and Dan being Dan, there's a few F bombs in here so NSFW. But well worth listening to.


The Church again demonstrates Christ-like behavior.

Remember: Jesus taught that we should feed the hungry and help the poor. But only as long as we can keep discriminating against gay people.

Monday, November 09, 2009

GOProud of its Schadenfreude

GOProud -- the new gay Republican group -- is crowing that it was right that health care reform would discriminate against gay couples because of DOMA.

Since they don't actually do anything to build libertarian support in the GOP for a DOMA repeal or any other equal rights policy, one gets the feeling they're quite happy, if not giddy about this fact.

But then, it's also curious that while they rail against health care reform because of it's DOMA-based discrimination, they do not include actually repealing DOMA as one of their federal "legislative priorities."

GOProud is just silly and represents the worst of politics -- partisanship for partisanship's sake, only with a rainbow flavor. Which doesn't excuse it.

"Hard Times for Homophobes"

David Link makes the argument that we should be cheered that we're winning every issue except marriage:

Marriage is not just an outlier, it is the only outlier. The fringe of the right will complain about any legal protections for lesbians and gay men, but they can’t put together a majority on any issue except for full marital equality. An enormous majority of Americans even support repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, though political cowardice on that issue still lingers in Congress -- the same cowardice that got us the policy in the first place.

This chart shows that more than a majority in virtually every state, including the ones with the most anti-gay sentiment, supports employment and housing protection, hate crimes laws and health benefits for homosexuals. The trailing issue in all states is always marriage, with majority-plus support in only six states.

In comments to Link's post on Indy Gay Forum, several argue that marriage equality shouldn't be that important. But, they are wrong. Marriage equality is the ballgame. It is legal recognition that homosexuality itself is fully equal with heterosexuality. The Christian right gets this, it's why they will stop at nothing to prevent it from happening.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Health Care Reform

As long as we're passing health care and thus doing more damage than the terrorists, I'd like to suggest one change:

Stop terrorizing the English language. I'm talking about the term, "pre-existing condition." The prefix "pre" is totally unnecessary, like Republicans at a policy debate. Adding "pre"doesn't make something exist any harder just as ending a sentence with multiple question marks doesn't make it any more a question.

What if we applied the same type of grammar to other words. Would we have "post-history?" "Past-previous?"

I think we need to end the Insurance industry's abuse of the English language with such phrases as "pre-existing condition."

And I think we need to be pro-active about it.

Dan Balz and the GOP

WaPo writer Dan Balz has a front page piece today that begins:

"One year after hitting bottom in the aftermath of President Obama's elections, Republicans have taken their first concrete steps toward recovery."

Balz's story then goes on to highlight how seriously F'd up the Republicans are, making mockery of his lede. Someone should punch his editor.

Okay, yes, the GOP won in VA and NJ, but those victories were pegged more by candidates than the party. The GOP was lucky that it ran against two lackluster Dems and the Republican candidates ran better campaigns than their opponents. It's difficult to see how you can draw Party-wide "concrete steps" from such victories. Especially when Nov. 3 also saw the loss of a House District that has been in GOP hands almost since the GOP was invented. And, as Balz himself points out:

"But New Jersey and Virginia voted against the party holding the White House in the past six gubernatorial elections and are therefore unreliable harbingers of the 2010 campaign."

Duh. Well, that inconvenient truth doesn't prevent the Washington Post and the rest of the MSM from treating those victories as "concrete steps" towards a GOP rebirth.

I think the portent most important for 2010 is the NY House race. The Republican loss there defied history, while their wins in NJ and VA were with history's tide. The GOP, by giving in to the most scurrilous of the tea baggers and birthers will push away moderating voices. And continue to lose.

Republicans are taking concrete steps alright. Concrete tied to their heels as they step cluelessly on water.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Remembering Tchaikovsky

In honor of the 116th anniversary of Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's death, which was yesterday, here is the third movement of his last symphony. Enjoy.

BTW, I don't buy the conspiracy theory that Tchaikovsky was forced to commit suicide after being blackmailed by a rump jury of former classmates over his homosexuality. Alexander Poznansky makes a convincing case debunking that myth in "Tchaikovsky's Last Days."

And, what happened to Ozawa's trademark turtlenecks? I guess now that he's old enough to have one, he doesn't need to wear one.

Good Commercial

Every time I make my bed, I think of that Aricept commercial.

Here's a parody:

I'm Back

I never really went away, but I did take a break from blogging, and for personal and professional reasons took the blog down for a while. I've likely lost my 3 readers, but hear I am just the same.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mike Castle and Obama's Birth Certificate

Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) tells his town hall that Obama is a citizen of the U.S. and gets boos and then the crowd forces a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Hilarious.

Birther Watch

Here's an "AP" story being circulated by the Birthers. They really need to try harder if they're going to pull off a fake AP story -- I can't see the news wire actually using the phrase "looking pretty grim." And at the end of the email the sender urges his readers to "pass it along -- because the media won't" -- well, I don't think you get any more MSM than the AP. They are so deluded they lack even the bare amount of internal logic necessary to ever be credible.

AP- WASHINGTON D.C. - In a move certain to fuel the debateover Obama's qualifications for the presidency, the group "Americans forFreedom of Information" has Released copies of President Obama's college transcripts from Occidental College. Released today, the transcript indicates thatObama, under the name Barry Soetoro, received financial aid as a foreignstudent from Indonesia as an undergraduate at the school. The transcript was released by Occidental College in compliance with a court order in a suitbrought by the group in the Superior Court of California.

The transcript shows that Obama (Soetoro) applied for financial aid and was awarded a fellowship for foreign students from the FulbrightFoundation Scholarship program. To qualify, for the scholarship, a student must claim foreign citizenship. This document would seem to provide thesmoking gun that many of Obama's detractors have been seeking. Along withthe evidence that he was first born in Kenya and there is no record of himever applying for US citizenship, this is looking pretty grim. The news hascreated a firestorm at the White House as the release casts increasing doubt about Obama's legitimacy and qualification to serve as president. Whenreached for comment in London, where he has been in meetings with BritishPrime Minister Gordon Brown, Obama smiled but refused comment on the issue.

Britain's Daily Mail has also carried the story in a front-page article titled, "Obama Eligibility Questioned," leading some to speculate that the story may overshadow economic issues on Obama's first official visit to the U.K.

In a related matter, under growing pressure from several groups, Justice Antonin Scalia announced that the Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear arguments concerning Obama's legal eligibility to serve as President in a case brought by Leo Donofrio of New Jersey. This lawsuit claims Obama's dual citizenship disqualified him from serving as president. Donofrio's case is just one of 18 suits brought by citizens demanding proof of Obama's citizenship or qualification to serve as president.

Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation has released the results of their investigation of Obama's campaign spending. This study estimates that Obama has spent upwards of $950,000 in campaign funds in the past year with eleven law firms in 12 states for legal resources to block disclosure of any of his personal records. Mr. Kreep indicated that the investigation is still ongoing but that the final report will be provided to the U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder. Mr. Holder hasrefused to comment on the matter.

Friday, July 17, 2009

"I'm Praying For You"

I guess it's nice when someone says that to you, it means they care and are thinking of you. It's nice, but not really helpful.

What would be helpful would be if they could share God's response.

Otherwise they might as just as well say "I'm thinking about you."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

DC Metro

I don't ride Metro regularly. Today I did.

I was somewhat amused and alarmed that as we were leaving the Archives station the driver announced that the next stop was Archives. And as we pulled into L'Enfant station the driver repeated his mistake by announcing that we were arriving at Archives.

If Metrorail train operators don't know where they are I doubt they're really paying attention to driving the train.

On this Day in History

Today, in 1790, a swath of land at the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers was designated as the seat of the new nation's government.

Marion Barry was arrested the next day.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Obama Born Outside US

Right wing whack-job Alan Keyes (I know, you thought I meant Sarah Palin there for a minute) has won a small technical victory in his case declaring Barack Obama an "illegal" president, alleging he was born in Kenya and not Hawaii (via Joe).

But even if we assume for a moment that this were true, Obama would still be eligible to be president because if I read Title 8 of the US code correctly, he is still considered a "natural born citizen" because he had one parent who was a US citizen. According to Title 8, people who are "Citizens of the United States at birth" include this:

Any one born outside the United States, if one parent is an alien and as long as the other parent is a citizen of the U.S. who lived in the U.S. for at least five years (with military and diplomatic service included in this time)

This would describe Obama's situation if he were born in Kenya as Keyes delusionally thinks.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Adopting Dori

UPDATE: She is much improved. She still has diarhea but is eating and is perky and active. Things are looking much, much better and we're hoping for a discharge tonight. (7/13 10 a.m.)

"If it's a congenital heart defect, there is no prognosis. We would have to put her down."

You don't expect to hear those words less than 24 hours after adopting an eight-week-old puppy. Only a few short hours ago we were wrestling with what name to give her and where to put her crate. We didn't expect to be at the Vet with our new puppy, let alone being confronted with this dire possibility.

Of course, things haven't gone exactly as expected for us, dog-wise. Two weeks ago today while hiking in the Shenandoah National Park, Dave and I spoke about the waning days of our 12 year old dog Buster while one-year-old Dixie darted back and forth on the trail beneath our feet.

And then she vanished into the underbrush -- the scent of a deer luring away our expected 12-15 years with this sweet dog.

I wasn't sure I was ready to adopt another dog so soon after Dixie's disappearance but when Dave started e-mailing me links to adoptable puppies, I knew I wouldn't have a choice. And when I came home last Wednesday and found the profiles of three puppies printed out and sitting on the dining room table, I gave in.

We settled on the puppy named "Mallory." She was a lab/retriever mix from South Carolina, being rescued by Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. LDAR is an amazing organization. They rescue dogs from "high-kill" shelters in the South, bring them to the DC area and place them in foster homes until they can be adopted. A transport of dogs from South Carolina was scheduled for Saturday at 4:30 and Mallory -- and her 5 siblings -- were heading North.

Because we had successfully adopted from LDAR before Dave was able to arrange for Mallory to skip the foster step and go right into adoption with us.

Saturday we began getting ready for having a puppy in the house -- our first in 12 years. A neighbor gave us a crate. We secured the back yard. In keeping with the times we went to Green Pets on 14th Street to get supplies. Nothing but organic, non-pesticided foods for this pooch. We were determined she have small carbon pawprint.

At 4 pm, we nervously made the trip to a parking lot in NW DC (yes, there are parking lots in NW, who knew?) where the transports were arriving.

This sounds simple but it's actually a complex, hectic task. There are 40-50 dogs in crates in a large cargo van arriving. Meanwhile a crowd about twice that size of humans is standing around, waiting for their foster dog. The dogs arrive and we crowd around the van. The LDAR volunteers somehow sort the dogs out, calling the name of the dog so their temporary humans can claim them. While the humans take the dogs for a much needed walk, the LDAR folks sort out the dogs medical records which have also arrived in the van. Only then can the dogs go to their temporary homes.

They gave us special instructions because we were dealing with a pup who hadn't had all her shots yet. Parvo is a nasty dog tummy disease that is hard and costly to treat and it's very contagious. No touching other dogs. Don't put her on the ground where other dogs have been. She'll need a drink of water but only let her drink out of her own bowl.

We teamed up with Susan, a saint who is fostering Mallory's five siblings (How many people do you know would open up their home to five un-housebroken puppies covered in dog-yuck? But because of her these animals will not die and will go to good homes, probably with kids who will have happy, lifelong memories of their childhood dogs. Because of this woman -- and all the volunteers at LDAR) We got the dogs sorted out and I picked Mallory up.

She was tiny, clearly the runt of the litter. I could see fleas crawling through her thin mat of fur. She smelled of urine and feces and vomit and had puppy breath.

And I thought she was the cutest thing I'd ever seen.

She has a white face with beautiful olive eyes. And she lifted her face to my chin and licked my beard.

We got the paperwork done, gave her a drink and finally we were off taking her to her "forever home."

We let her walk around the back yard a bit and then gave her a much needed bath. Actually, by this time we all needed a bath and so the humans showered and all flea-contaminated clothes were quickly washed.

She ate.

And then puked. And pooped. Pooped nasty watery foul smelling slime.

But she seemed fine enough before bed time and again in the middle of the night when we checked on her.

But this morning her crate floor blanket was covered in puke and diarrhea. I cleaned her and fed her. And the whole process started again. I thought she seemed lethargic and less lively than she had been the night before. And then we saw blood in the stool.

That's when the fear hit: Parvo.

Parvo is a virus that attacks the cells of the digestive system and can invade the heart, causing sudden death. It is difficult and expensive to treat. And it's common in dogs from the South.

At 10 AM this morning we were on the front stairs of our Vet's office waiting for them to open. We had no appointment, but they were able to take us in. By this time it was clear that "Mallory" was literally one sick puppy.

They first tested for Parvo. While we were waiting for the results, she got a thorough exam.

She was pale. I didn't know dogs could be pale, but they can be. You look at the gums. The Doc thought this meant she was anemic. She had a heart murmur. Could be because of the anemia, the Doctor guessed. She's dehydrated from the vomiting and pooping. And she's malnourished.

The Parvo text came back. Negative. That was a relief - - but we knew at this point Mallory was going to need more intensive care than we could give her. An hour later, when the blood work came back, the doctor's guess of anemia was confirmed.

This is where the Doctor starts speculating. The anemia was likely due to blood loss from intestinal worms and fleas feeding off her. Fleas can literally kill a dog or cat through blood loss. Fleas can bleed a dog to death. I did not know that. could be a congenital heart defect causing her to bleed into her intestines.

I know which theory I'm going with.

So, we took her to the Friendship Heights Animal Hospital where she is getting IV fluids and nutrition as well as meds to get her digestive system in order. We're hoping this will correct the anemia which could also end the heart murmur.

Her little crate is here, empty. Her blanket -- which she spent just a few short hours on -- is clean, soft and waiting. While we wait for the hospital to call with an update.

As we were about to walk into the hospital earlier today, Dave stopped and turned to me and, with tears in his eyes said, "We have to name her. We can't leave her here without a name."

I looked at her and knew. "Her name is Dori," I said.

Get well, little Dori.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A New Puppy

Dave is pushing for a new dog after Dixie disappeared two weeks ago.
I think it's a little soon, but admit the chances of her re-emerging at this point are slim. Working theory -- someone found her, liked her and kept her. At least until she decides to take another walkabout and plop into someone else's life.

So, Dave contacted the pet rescue people and found this pup -- "Mallory," a lab/retriever mix.

So, the name "Mallory" has to go. The Pet Rescue people, we think, give the dogs names because it's probably easier to adopt a dog with a name than a number. Dixie came to us as "Selena."

Mallory makes me think of Alex P. Keaton's sister. So we talked about a new name last night.

Dave: How about "Pooka dog."

Me: What?

Dave: It's Hawaiian for "hot dog." Isn't that clever?

Me: I'm not going, "Here Pooka Dog!" That's too gay.

Dave: Well, how about a regular girl name. [he thinks for a minute] How about Bonnie?

Me: We have a friend named Bonnie. We can't name her Bonnie

Dave: But she's moving.

Me: [knowing I need to come up with an acceptable alternative or I'm going to be stuck with "Pooka Dog" -- which means why not just get a poodle and groom her and tie pink ribbons in her fur] How about "Betty?"

So we're thinking about "Betty." Feminine, yet kind of working class girl. And we don't have any friends named Betty.


Monday, July 06, 2009

Tortured Quote for the Day

Sarah Palin:

"I’ve never thought I needed a title before one’s name to forge progress in America."

She gets lost in one sentence. It starts out about her and ends up about everyone. She should have more properly said, "I never thought I needed a title before my name to forge progress in America." Or, more modestly, "I never thought a title was required to forge progress in America." And the "forge progress" part is clunky -- "forge" makes me think of a blacksmith or something large and bulky from a time when trains belched steam. I don't sense "progress" in the forging. "Spark, spur," or even a simple "create" would have sufficed.

But perhaps I expect too much from someone the Republican Party said was qualified to be leader of the free world.

I doubt there is a scandal coming. This smells like a temper-tantrum.

I don't think she needed a scandal to force one's resignation.

See, she's got me doing it.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Marion Barry

You know, we should just forgive his tax debts in light of the entertainment value he keeps providing year after year.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

At the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Summer is here and that means the Smithsonian has erected tents on the mall and invited folk singers and tellers and craft makers from far and near to come sing their songs, tell their stories and make their wares. This is done for the entertainment of tourists and today, for me on my way home from an early closing at work for the holiday.

I love the musical acts they bring to these things. A few years ago a sister duo from the Orkney Islands reduced me to sobs with a violin duet written by a man mourning the passing of his lifelong wife.

Today I listened to a Welsh duo singing about beheading horses. They said it was a Christmas song.

I did not stick around for the Halloween set.

Next I witnessed a beautiful, young African American woman and an elderly Asian man spontaneously (and actually somewhat sensuously) dance together to the music of a Colombian dance band. They were soon joined by dancers from every creed, race and walk of life.

I mean, does anyone do this anywhere else? America: a place where everyone, no matter who they are, can stand up and make complete fools of themselves.

(That was the point of the George W. Bush presidency, was it not?)

I took a picture of the dancers on my iPhone, which I will add to this post later. I'm too lazy right now.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Facebook of the Day

From DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who is one of my facebook pals:

"Nothing could be sadder than going to a service for a man you respected, who died in the Metro collision, than going to the service of Gen. David Wherley and his wife, Ann, at the Armory where he worked and lavished love on D.C., especially our kids. Their cremated remain in one modest wooden vessle. Enough of sadness. Off to Martha's Vineyard for a few days."

Well, I'm glad she could overcome her grief.

Irony Alert

Signs posted on major highways into DC:

"July 4th Events Downtown. Avoid Delays. Take Metro."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Search and Rescue

We were hiking in the Shenandoah National Park yesterday when our dog, Dixie, spotted something and gave chase. She did not come back.

We looked and waited and re-walked the trail and no signs of her. We're going back today. The trail we were on started at the cabin we were renting so there is at least a chance that she would find her way back there.

But if we don't find her, she is wearing a tag with our name and phone number.

Anyway, that's why posting has been light.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mayor Fenty's Conservation Corps Makes Its Own Work

Leaving the house this morning to walk my dog in my Columbia Heights neighborhood I find this door-hanger flyer lying on my front steps, near the sidewalk. In case you can't read this, it says:

"The Mayor's Conservation Corps -- We're here to help clean and green your neighborhood! "

Apparently their first act of conservation was to conserve the energy it would have taken to walk all the way up to my door to actually hang the flyer. Clearly they set a good example for the Pizza Mart guy who, impressed with their energy saving maneuver, saved his own energy and placed his flyer thoughtfully on top of Conservation one.

And it wasn't that my stairs are overly steep. I found the Conservation Corps "We're here to green your neighborhood" flyer on the sidewalk, in a neighbor's fenced-in yard, on other front stair steps and the street gutter. I guess when they said they would "green" the neighborhood what they meant was littering it with green flyers.

Hopefully their second act will be to walk back through the neighborhood and pick them up.

And while we're on the subject of conservation -- perhaps the cash-strapped District could have conserved a few dollars and not printed the green litter brochures in the first place. There are abundant community blogs and listserves they could have spread the word to at no cost and without the trashy residue.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Tale of Two Obamas

David Link sees two Obamas: One who bodly addresses the thorny problems of the Middle East and one who shirks from (surely less) thorny gay issues.

Monday, June 22, 2009

In the Tank

The newest addition to my aquarium, a purple firefish. He (or she) was immediately shoved around (literally) by the Damselfish. I'm nervous about he (or she) making it...but she (or he) did show interest in food this morning (though didn't eat). I'm hoping he (or..) oh hell, it eats tonight. If so I think it'll make it. If not...

Remember, this is a relaxing hobby.

UPDATE: Fish ate a nice portion of mysis shrimp this morning.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Gays on the Back Burner

Accepting, for the moment, that Obama is sincere in his pro-gay positions, it's clear the Administration has given absolutely no thought or had no discussions about fulfilling campaign promises to gays. They've been caught with their pants down by this uproar and have bungled just about every aspect.

We've been put on the back burner (which led to DOJs throwing us under the bus and backing over us a few times).

And why not? Where else do we have to go? No one is under any illusions that we would be better off with McCain in the White House (with the possible exception of the deranged GOPride folks). Hey, we've got a financial crisis and two wars and health care to fix -- the gays can wait. They're not going anywhere.

And if this were October, 2012, and all that transpired this past week happened then, and it was Romney and Obama on the ballot, where would our dollars and votes go? Would we sit it out?

Sometimes to be gay in America feels a bit like being a man without a country.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Obama Throws the Gays a Bone, Part II

Taking a break from writing fiction, Alan Scott writes me:

"Gay rights are a bitter pill for most people to swallow, so we have to take baby steps to turn negative public opinion to our side. I know that we are pinning a lot of hopes on Obama but sweeping changes aren't going to happen overnight. Baby steps, although frustratingly slow, are how we have to gain our freedoms. :)"

There is some doubt that this was even a step, or if it was, it was a step in place. John Arovosis claims Federal agencies already had the ability to offer these benefits. And the claim that Obama couldn't offer health benefits because of DOMA is at the least debatable because DOMA defines marriage -- not domestic partnership. And the benefits offered in the presidential memo go to domestic partners, not same sex spouses.

It may make some political sense to cheer Obama for this "step." I admit it was striking to see Frank Kameny at the President's shoulder in the Oval Office.

But my fear is that this was a cynical ploy on the part of the White House to smooth over relations with the gay community. In fact, that's what the New York Times reported:

"But administration officials said the timing of the announcement was intended to help contain the growing furor among gay rights groups..."

There is the growing sense that Obama's actions are the exact opposite of his words. He claims to be a "Fierce Advocate" for gay rights, but as the Washington Post notes today:

"Obama's memorandum, designed to be both incremental and pragmatic, typifies the cautious way he has approached gay issues since taking office five months ago."

Obama claims to find DOMA "abhorrent" yet allows his DOJ to advance some of the most abhorrent notions about gay people possible to defend it. Much has been made of the brief's comparison to incest, but to me the most offensive is the claim that if gay people want to marry, they can -- they just have to marry someone of the opposite sex! See, no inequality! To me, that denies our existence and our humanity -- it stands contrary to the fact that gay people require someone of the same sex to meet their physical and emotional human needs, just as straight people require someone of the opposite sex for fulfillment. It's a view that is rooted in pre-nineteenth century scholarship about homosexuality.

Finally, you say that "sweeping changes aren't going to happen overnight." But in a sense, they are -- the recent successes for same sex marriage at the state level augur for some type of sea change. But let's leave the more vexing question of marriage aside for a moment.

As Sean Bugg has been hammering home, 70 percent of Americans support allowing gays to serve openly in America's armed forces. Obama claims he will remove DADT but has taken no steps in that direction, despite the fact that a vast majority of Americans would support him on it. Even the pragmatic "incremental steps" mentioned early are absent here -- the Pentagon says there has been no talks about changing the policy and apparently there hasn't even been staff level discussions about it between the White House and Senate leadership. Apparently Obama and Sen. Harry Reid are staring at each other from opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue pointing at each other saying "you do it!"

"Fierce Advocate." Hrmph.

I'm glad every day that John McCain is not in the White House. But until I see action indicating otherwise, President Fierce Advocate is a dud on gay rights.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obama Throws the Gays a Bone

Obama is extending Federal benefits to partners of federal employees.

The gays were just thrown a bone.

I don't mean to sound ungrateful. Yes, it's progress. It's a step. But it's a baby step. Obama just had the Feds do what many large corporations did in the 1990s.

It doesn't make up for the incendiary language of the DOJ brief; it doesn't end the sweeping inequality that gays live under because of DADT and DOMA. If the gays are impatient it's because we were promised "change" and taking incremental baby steps as a means to placate our demands for full equality is also something that harkens back to the 1990s. Been there, done that, Mr. Fierce Advocate. It's not change. It's more of the same.

Understand this -- our relationships are trashed by federal law and demonized by the current DOJ. In fact, that brief denies the core of who we are -- a people who's emotional and physical needs are best met by a partner of the same sex. Obama's DOJ denies that by arguing that if we want equal marriage rights all we have to do is marry someone of the opposite sex. Mr. Obama -- the Federal government recognizes your humanity and need to marry the person of your choice. Why are we denied the same? The law makes us unequal Americans and you have done nothing to change that and this latest move does not change that.

America has higher ideals than this, Mr. President. But we lag behind many other nations who recognize their gay citizens' humanity and recognize their equal right to marry and serve in the military. I would have more rights in the Queen's England than I do now in Thomas Jefferson's America.

We can do better than this. You can do better than this.

I am glad that the community is in an uproar. As Americans, we will not put up with being treated as second-class citizens.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pride Festival

I had a great day signing up people for DC For Marriage yesterday. Along the way I ran into many good friends from DCDD, GMCW, Metro Weekly and others. It felt like a family reunion.

After I signed up more than 150 folks in support of DC marriage equality (Yes, we will email you. You will need to take action. This will not happen without you). I scarfed down some festival "food." I asked for a kebob and somehow ended up with a faux-chicken gyro. I was in too good a mood to quibble. Just nibble.
I was happy because so many people seem energized politically. Pride can serve a purpose other than going to a party by enabling our organizations to reach people -- and organize.

HRC Wakes Up

A well done letter from HRC taking Obama to task for the anti-gay DOJ court brief.

Just remember, Joe -- accept action, not words.

(Michael, where are you...I've been expecting you to pop up here and say "told ya so!")

Obama Owes an Apology -- of Action

David Link walks through what likely may have "allowed" the offensive Obama DOJ anti-gay legal brief to be written and filed. I agree with his call-to-action:

The ball is now in the President’s court. He owes us an apology – and not one of words, but one of action. Signing a hate crimes bill won’t do it. Nor will an additional imprecation to Congress to do something about DOMA. It is he who was elected President with the explicit promise that gay equality would be on his agenda. What Presidents do is lead, and after this anything less than the kind of leadership he shows on other issues will be confirmation of a betrayal of those like me who voted for him in good faith.

Iran (continued)

Statement by the Iranian Queer Railroad (Canadian-based group that helps gay Iranians escape persecution in Iran):

Three days after upholding an election that saw tens of millions of Iranian citizens participate in an unprecedented display of hope for "change" in the social, economical, cultural and political aspects of the society, the cities of Iran have become scenes of violent crackdown against people by police and intelligence forces. A large number of people, political activists and journalists have been detained; cellular phone services have been disconnected, access to the Internet has been made virtually impossible, and almost all of the newspapers and publications reflecting reformist or other critical perspectives have been shut down.

Despite the overwhelming participation of the supporters of the two candidates running against Ahmadinejad in this election, and the widespread proliferation of the slogans of "Hope, Reform, and Change", the ministry of state, only hours after the voting deadline, announced Ahmadinejad as the outright winner amid a wave of shock and disbelief; an announcement that was very quickly acknowledged and officially supported by the supreme leader of Iran.

What the supporters of the two reformist candidates and the opposition against Ahmadinejad are correctly calling "wizardry" and "coup d'├ętat" against the will and choice of the people, is a virtual martial law in the streets and universities aimed at a severe crackdown and bloody suppression of the protesting voices.

Overwhelming evidence supports the case that there has been an unprecedented rigging of the results of the tenth presidential elections, evidence that is not only supported by the voters and the representatives of the people at voting stations, but is also acknowledged by the staff of the ministry of state and an established group of well-known clergy.

"Majmaae Rohanyoone Mobarez", which has the former reformist president Mohammad Khatami as a member, has declared the elections "rigged" and called for cancellation or recount of the ballots.

Opposing the true will of the people and their struggle for reform and change, by resorting to organized governmental fraud and the bloody crackdown of the masses, is a clear cut demonstration of severe violation of human rights in a large county where millions of citizens have resorted to their most basic legal right, to arrive at freedom, justice, civic rights, and a friendly relationship with the rest of the world in accordance with international laws and human rights codes.

"Multiple Voices for Change", representing a number of Canadian-Iranian citizens, condemns the harsh crackdown on the Iranian people by the Ahmadinejad government, and calls for human rights organizations and the government of Canada to support the movement of the Iranian people in the name of getting their vote and rightful president back. Crackdown on the Iranian citizens, going against humanity and human rights, and governmental fraud, will not remain contained within the boarders of Iran.

We ask those whose voices echo with us all around the world, regardless of their particular positions in relation to the election, not to leave the Iranian people alone in this uneven fight. Please contact your governments and ask them to support Iranian people and DO NOT indorse the Iran election result.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ari's Plea

The WaPo reports on the Iranian elections this morning as a done deal -- but following the story online shows the situation to be much more dynamic. I'm reposting my Iranian friend Ari's request for help and vigilance:

To all non-Iranian friends: please help spread the news of the outrage and disgust of the Iranian people with the election results. The western media is very conservative at the moment regarding this blatantly fraudulent election. This is some sort coup d'etat....This is not the will of the Iranian puplic; they are mostly in shock or despair, and the braver ones are being mercilessly beaten on the streets.

By "conservative" I think he means with a smal; "c," not in the liberal vs. conservative political sense.

And here's what happened overnight, from a HuffPo reader via Andrew Sullivan:

"My next door neighbor is an Iranian immigrant who came here in 1977. He just received a SAT phone call from his brother in Tehran who reports that the rooftops of nighttime Tehran are filled with people shouting 'Allah O Akbar' in protest of the government and election results. The last time he remembers this happening is in 1979 during the Revolution. Says the sound of tens of thousands on the rooftops is deafening right now."

And because cell phones and access to Facebook and Youtube have been shut down by the Iranian Government, this "Allah O Akbar" protest was organized by Twitter. Seriously.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Random Thoughts on the Pride Parade

I marched with the Marriage for DC contingent in D.C.'s Pride Parade this evening. Devoted Scott's Take readers and personal friends may be surprised to hear that, given my experience two years ago.

Well, the marriage issue has got me wanting to take to the streets again. So, here are some random thoughts about the parade:

  • It didn't rain. I have yet to march in a gay pride parade with rain. So if you wanna march dry, better make sure I'm there.
  • Wow, some spectators were really drunk.
  • There seemed to be more people than ever.
  • DCDD Drum line lookin great!
  • The DC Cowboys may look Brokeback Mountain, but they seem to be increasingly clubbish in their repertoire. Still hot, though.
  • The Food and Friends float, and the drag queen in the grocery bag costume, were my favorite.
  • Lots of bride drag. I'm not sure that really helps. Oh well, not everything has to be taken seriously. I'm learning.
  • The DC for Marriage contingent was well received. A group in front of the Crew Club was exceptionally enthusiastic. Hmmm.
  • I liked the chant, "When I say 'dee-cee' you say 'marriage.' 'Dee-cee:' 'Marriage!' 'Dee-cee!" Marriage!" It was easy on the throat and since they didn't give us water that became really important for loud chanting, especially by 17th street.
  • Why do they have announcers at reviewing stands? Every group has people carrying a big banner with their name printed boldly on it. I think it takes away from what the people on the street are doing. I felt that way as head of a marching band; I felt that way as a dry-throated chanter.
  • If every person who took one of our cards signs our petition and gets five of their friends to do the! Pride matters politically this year more than ever, and in the next several years to come. Rather, it matters if we use the annual gathering to really come together and organize. Which means giving us your email address, people!


My friend Ari is Iranian and he has sent out an urgent plea, which I'm passing on to you:

To all non-Iranian friends: please help spread the news of the outrage and disgust of the Iranian people with the election results. The western media is very conservative at the moment regarding this blatantly fraudulent election. This is some sort coup d'etat....This is not the will of the Iranian puplic; they are mostly in shock or despair, and the braver ones are being mercilessly beaten on the streets.

The Daily Dish has a good coverage of historic events in Iran.


I'm going. If for no other reason than to find the Democrats' booth and ask them, "WTF?"

A Gay Soldier's Husband

Via Jimbo.

What it's like to be a "legal stranger" to the most important person in your life.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Obama Admin Defends DOMA

And in pretty vile ways to boot.

Forget the call for a March on Washington in October. How about a March on the White House this weekend? It's Pride weekend here in Washington, so lets take all those thousands of queers who will be here up to Layfette Square at 1600 Penn. on Sunday.

Federal Security Clearance Interview

Yesterday I was interviewed by an Office of Personnel Management investigator who is looking into the background of a friend of mine for her security clearance as an appointee in the Obama Admin.

Here's part of the interview:

Q: What types of social events did you and she attend together?

A: We used to go down to the Hookah bar and hang out after our al Qaeda sleeper cell meetings.

Those Federal agents have no sense of humor.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Re-Asking the Same Sex Marriage Question

Polling guru Nate Silver points out that Americans are more likely to be okay with marriage equality if asked the right question. Via Gay Politics:

When gay marriage is polled, it is almost always framed as a positive right, as in: “should the government permit Adam and Steve to get married?"

But there is a different way to frame the question that is no less fair, and flips the issue on its head. Namely: “should the government be allowed to prohibit Adam and Steve from getting married?“. This is closer to the logic embodied by the court decisions in Iowa, California, Massachusetts, and other states. Those courts didn’t create gay marriage; they argued, rather, that it was already protected by their respective state constitutions.

Quote of the Day

At the end of the WashPo story about the Holocaust Museum gunman, this from one of Van Brunn's fellow travelers on the shooting at the museum:

"The responsible white separatist community condemns this," he said. "It makes us look bad."

Umm, no. At least, it's not the first thing that makes you look bad.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Scenes from the Aquarium

This is one of my coolest saltwater aquarium residents, a green serpent starfish. He hides in the rocks until feeding time. When that happens he can move with surprising speed toward the food. I have almost got him taking pieces of cooked shrimp from my hand.

The blur to the left is a Damsel fish. Damsels are known for their hardiness -- and their aggressiveness. This particular Damsel I have named "Hitler" for he is the meanest of the Damsels. And a killer -- he killed one of the other Damsels in the first week. His method is to "hit" a fish over and over, biting. Which is why "Hitler" is such an apt name (as opposed, say, to "Osama"). He is working on killing another fish, whom I've named "Lazarus." Because I've given him up for dead several times after Hitler's relentless attacks. But he keeps coming back.

The most peaceful fish in my tank is a Yellow Tang, whom I've named "Wanda." If you can see the short spikes of white by her tail they are in fact spikes, which she used to keep Hitler at bay when she was introduced to the tank. Now he doesn't bother her and she minds her own business, grazing on the algae. Unfortunately for me (but not for her) there's a banquet of algae for her to feast on.

The Right to Bare Arms...and Everything Else

Nudists lobby Congress. It should be an easy sell, since so many members can't seem to keep their pants on.

Swoopy Bird Gets Humans

We have one of these birds in our neighborhood. We call it the "swoopy bird."

No humans were harmed in the making of this video.

Here's Where I Stand

From the Musical Camp, which I have not seen. But it's a great song. Happy Pride.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Supreme Court Thows Out DADT Challenge

Apparently, granting a request of the Obama Administration, which argued: "don't ask, don't tell" is "rationally related to the government's legitimate interest in military discipline and cohesion."


Must be part of the plan.

Friday, June 05, 2009

HRC, Obama and the Gays

I think John Aravosis has a compelling interpretation of the HRC/Obama "agenda setting" flap, particularly this:

"Many of us have been worried that the Obama administration might be trying to Sista Souljah the gays (i.e., distance themselves from the gays to show just how independent, how "new Democrat," they really are). The irony is that the embattled lead gay groups, in order to survive in an increasingly angry post-Prop-8, and increasingly expectant post-MA-NH-VT-IA-ME-CT, world, may end up having to Sista Souljah Obama in order to regain credibility in the eyes of their own members. And if that happens, I can't name a single Democrat (or Republican for that matter) in recent memory who's been on the receiving end of our ire and walked away unscathed."

As President Obama has to be careful not to be too far in front of public opinion. But he also must not get trampled in its wake.


David Carradine was in Bangkok filming a movie -- titled "Stretch."

Did HRC Throw Gay Service Members Under the Bus?

Sean Bugg provides info and links to the breaking news that HRC made a "deal" with the White House to put off repealing DADT in favor of ENDA and Hate Crimes legislation.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Obama Apologizing to Terrorists

I don't have to watch Rush or get Newt's Tweets to know that's the meme launched by the wingnuts over Obama's speech in Egypt and his comment that after 9/11 America lost sight of its values.

Truth is, we did. George Bush & Company (and this includes Congress) put "safety" as the sole touchstone to justify their actions. And when your only value is "safety" and you give in to your fear you can justify any action, no matter how draconian. As I've written about before, I believe we must pursue life (i.e., "safety") and liberty, a Jeffersonian construct.

Obama's saying it didn't reveal a secret shame. The whole world has seen the Abu Grahib photos and Gitmo is no state secret.

And to those who say it's a weakness to admit we were wrong I ask, is that what you teach your children? To pretend you're right, refusing to admit error while everyone you know is aware of your mistake?

We know what that looks like. We just had eight years of it.

This is, indeed, change.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Air France Flight 447: Turbulence CAN Bring Down a Jet

The crash of the Air France flight caught my attention, not only because of the tragedy itself, but because I'm a nervous flier and I tell myself that jets just don't drop out of the sky.

More specifically, whenever I'm flying and we encounter "rough air" (my second favorite flying euphemism, with "water landing" being the first) I tell myself (repeatedly and urgently) that turbulence can't bring down a jet plane. Why, they fly planes into hurricanes!

Turns out, yes turbulence CAN bring one down. Here's what a commercial pilot blogging at Flight Level 390 has to say:

"A thunderstorm is a violent and scary entity. It has the power, and I mean real power, to easily rip the wings from an A330, or any other make or model of aircraft. No problem whatsoever."

Oh great.

On a recent flight to Louisville we encountered "rough air." And the woman sitting on the window grabbed the arm of the man in the center seat. Apologetically, she said "I'm a nervous flier and my husband isn't here. Do you mind?" He didn't, of course. And a few bumps later I started eyeing his arm closest to me.

"Turbulence can't bring down airplanes" I told myself, and quelled my desire to grab the man's arm.

Now I don't think I could be that calm.

So how do I buy airline tickets for seats next to hot, tolerant men?

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Washington Post and the Wone Murder Case

The Washington Post is running a feature story on the Robert Wone murder case on it's online entity,

Robert Wone was murdered at the home of friends after working late one night. Wone was straight -- his friends were gay and in a three-way relationship. And one of them heavily in S&M.

Since there is nothing new so far in the Post's story about the case, and, in fact, none of the key parties in the case would even grant the paper a fresh interview, one can only draw the conclusion that the Post is using the sorid details of the crime to drive traffic to its Web site.

And then there is the way the reporter links "gay families" to three-ways and S&M. Here's an excerpt, read all the way to the end. The final sentence in this segment stopped me cold for its implicit suggestion about our families:

(the three men who lived in the house where Wone was killed are Victor Zabrosky, Dylan Ward and Joseph Price)

"To give jurors in the obstruction-of-justice trial a fuller picture of the housemates, the U.S. attorney's office said, it will seek to introduce evidence of their intimate connections. In addition to Price's spousal union with Zaborsky, authorities said in court filings, Price and Ward were involved in a "dominant-submissive sexual relationship," which prosecutors said is relevant to the case in light of what they think happened to Wone.

Ward kept a wide array of esoteric sexual implements in his Swann Street bedroom, many of them designed to inflict pain, according to a police affidavit. Investigators said Price used the name "culuket" on the Web and posted a member profile on the fetish-oriented site, listing "electrotorture" among his "activities enjoyed." Culuket's posting listed a dozen other favored sex practices, described in explicit terms, and sought a third man to join a sadomasochistic relationship with "me and my dom."

Later, in a police interrogation, Zaborsky would refer to his and Price's emotional commitment to each other, saying Ward did not "share an equal part" in that relationship. But he added, "We're trying to develop it in that way."

A respected law partner. A successful marketing manager. A direct-mail fundraiser studying for a massage license.

A gay family. "

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Mormons and their "Image"

A Washington Post story today on the Mormon church's role in the anti-marriage equality fight included this:

A 2008 poll by Gary C. Lawrence, author of "How Americans View Mormonism: Seven Steps to Improve Our Image,"

Okay, stop right there. Hey Mormons. You want to improve your image? That's a pretty Earthly concern, don't you think? Did Jesus take a poll? Did He conduct focus groups? Consult Frank Luntz? Did He dial test the Sermon on the Mount?

But since it seems to be important to them, I have a suggestion. Mormons, if you want to have a better image, I think it's easy.

Be more Christ like!

As Garry Wills states, in his excellent book, "What Jesus Meant:"

Many would like to make the reign of Jesus belong to this political order. If they want the state to be politically Christian, they are not following Jesus, who says that his reign is not of that order...If people want to do battle for God, they cannot claim that Jesus has called them to this task, since he told Pilate that his ministers would not do that." (page 54).


What is the kind of religion Jesus opposed? Any religion that is proud of its virtue, like the boastful Pharisee. Any that is self-righteous, quick to judge and condemn, ready to impose burdens rather than share or lift them. Any that exalts its own officers, proud of its trappings, building expensive monuments to itself. Any that neglects the poor and cultivates the rich, any that scorns outcasts and flatters the rulers of this world." (page 77)