Wednesday, January 28, 2009


This bit of video is bloody amazing. Please click. Even though I hate the ideas of animals in captivity or being exploited for frivolous human interest, it's still an amazing few minutes of footage.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The End is Near!

Has the economy officially collapsed, even at the upper end of household wealth? Rolls-Royce, which sold 27 cars in December of 2007, sold precisely zero in December 2008.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why treat us differently?

After my response to a comment on a previous post, about how different relationships can be treated differently comes this post from Andrew Sullivan's blog on the same basic point:

"Think of the diversity of lived experience that now exists within this civil institution in America. You have strict Catholic families with no divorce, no contraception and lots of kids in a very traditional fashion; you have childless yuppie couples, living in different cities; you have arranged marriages among some immigrant families; you have a newly married couple in their seventies; you have Larry King on his seventh and Dennis Prager on his third; you have Britney Spears' 55 hour special; you have teenage elopers and middle-aged divorcees; you have a middle class evangelical couple with three young kids and two working parents; you have George and Barbara Bush and Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher; you have open marriages which amount to sexual arrangements; and Mormon marriages whose sexual monogamy will continue physically after death.

Are people really saying that a lesbian couple of several decades or a newly married couple like me and Aaron fall outside the cultural range of these experiences? Civil marriage is already so broad in its inclusion of social types and practices that including gay couples will make virtually no difference at all. And this is the genius of civil marriage: it's a unifying, not balkanizing, civic institution. To argue that including gay couples destroys the institution is absurd."

A New Ally in the Fight for Equality

Through Facebook, I've come across a new organization fighting for marriage equality, Read the list of rights. Some are important, some are minor. Then read some of the stories of how real couples are affected when the option to marry is not available to them. Here are a few excerpts:

"Unlike straight couples that can pass their estates to their spouse tax-free, LGBT couples must pay full taxes as if we were leaving our estates to a total stranger."

"When she passed away I had no rights to anything; I was not even allowed at her funeral. Her family took her body back to Ohio from Maine where we lived together most of our relationship—even though her wish was to be buried in Maine. Thankfully her Aunt knew the truth and was there for me and kept her cell phone on so I could hear the funeral over the phone. Hearing the service over the phone and visiting her grave site after everyone had left was the only closure I had."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

From Day One...almost

From the official website:

"President Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights."

It's right there.

Except it never says "all." And that's where it can get tricky. The rights spelled out in the last sentence are among the easiest to provide equal access to. Only the most callous of the homophobes believe in denying access to a loved one in the hospital. The other three are just about money, and not that much of it in the larger scheme. Why not highlight federal immigration rights and Social Security survivor benefits?

I realize I should be over the moon about even the language that exists. The past eight years were not good ones for civil rights in general, and for gay people in particular. Society took many steps forward -- as witnessed by the ever-rising approval numbers for marriage equality (and even higher numbers saying yes to equivalent civil unions) -- but our government didn't come along.

So don't get me wrong, I'm grateful. But this is not our first time at the rodeo. We've been screwed in the past. Promised one thing, then told we had to settle for another. It happens. That's politics.

Which is why this bothers me. Because the language seems just vague enough to be politically-expedient if Obama can't get the whole deal done. Maybe Social Security is too broke to handle more survivor benefits, or immigration is too high anyway, and the right guard play enough games that the civil unions bill extends 1134 Federal benefits instead of 1136. (Or whatever the exact number is -- I've never seen it as an exact number that I can recall. It's either 1000+ or 1100+ or 1200+. UPDATE: It's 1138. Interesting that I estimated it so closely!) So it's not quite "all." It's still "1,100+," just as stated in the President's agenda.

This is weasel room that the simple placement of an "all" or two would clear up: "...civil unions that give same-sex couples ALL legal rights and privileges...", would be my first addition. Then: "...enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits..." Change "the" to "all" in that sentence and it's perfect. Two word changes and we're done.

Since Obama seems to act more with savvy than expedience, perhaps it's part of larger plan. Either way, let's get the show on the road.

Turning the Corner

It was a day like any other. I got up, fixed a cup of hot chocolate, and sat down to read e-mails.

But it was also a day like no other. Because after I finished my web browsing and cocoa drinking, I turned on the TV in time to see Barack Hussein Obama step into the bright light and frozen chill of our capital.

Today was like no other because today we ended eight years of failed policies, cronyism, elitism, unbridled hubris and self-centered lawlessness. Today a man stepped onto the world's biggest stage, at one of its most critical times and said, yes, I will take on the challenges we face together. I have put together a team of bright minds and I will attempt to lead us all to the brighter future we all envision.

Of all the candidates I have voted for, I have never had one I truly felt confident following. President Obama isn't perfect, or a savior, and he will surely make mistakes. I was too young to experience the surge of hope and optimism surrounding the election of JFK, but unlike LBJ or Nixon or Ford or Carter or Reagan or Bush I or Clinton or Bush II, Obama brings with him not only a fiery brilliance, but a sense of calm leadership and sincere longing for public service that gives me a confidence I have never before had in a leader. Everything I see about the man makes me believe he will not only make the hard decisions, but the smart ones, as well.

Perhaps our global economy and culture are too complicated and intertwined for one man to competently nudge them in the direction we think we ought to go. But constitutionally, we can have only person in charge. I'm very glad it's Barack Obama.

Balloon Animal Sex

30 seconds of frivolous fun on a solemn day.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Guilty on Virtually All Counts

I am an elitist. I shout it proudly from the rooftop! At least as long as "elitist" can be defined as someone who believes "elite" is a positive attribute, something we strive for. If someone believes we ought to have really freaking smart people taking on the incredibly immense challenges that face contemporary society, culture and politics, and you think that's elitist, then sign me up as a card-carrying member.

But take a gander at this column by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford, as he tries to lay out just how broad the definition of "elitist" seems to have become by allowing you to take a not-so-simple 18-part test to determine whether or not you fit.

Money quote: "13. The hammer with which you often consider striking yourself in the face when listening to Bush speak or when observing McCain's creepy grin or hearing Palin's embarrassing answers to simple questions of policy has never actually been put to use for any "real" work, and has only ever really been used to tap down a few loose nails on the deck of your Martha's Vineyard summer cottage or tighten some planks in the fetish dungeon."

Nicely Done

A series of Public Service Announcements on the importance of marriage equality.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Find the poor, ignorant souls...

...who believe strongly enough that gay people shouldn't have equal civil rights. Click here to see where the folks who donated to Yes on 8 live, and how much they gave.

Nailed by E-mail

From an e-mail received this morning: "Although, I do not know you in person, I have received your contact via, personal search while seeking a reliable but obscure individual to assist me in this pending transaction."

Reliable but obscure. That's me, alright.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Last Scandal of the Bush Era?

Johannes Mehserle, the cop who shot in the back and killed an unarmed man on a BART (who was on the ground and surrounded by several other cops) has been arrested in Nevada, where he had fled because of death threats. He had previously resigned from the BART police rather than answer question's from internal affairs.

I'm guessing that his victim, Oscar Grant, was not the most law-abiding citizen, and had probably been causing trouble. He was, after all, resisting arrest, struggling to avoid being cuffed. But with several other officers on hand, Mehserle clearly pole-vaultedover the line between reasonable force and brutality. In fact, he pretty much leapt beyond brutality right into murder.

To me, this seems sadly resonant with the Bush administration approach to conflict -- when the dark people are acting up, overreact. Don't just torture them - humiliate and photograph them for your entertainment. You have the power, use it. It's just going to waste if you don't, right?

Mehserle joins the ranks of folks like Lynndie England, people who felt empowered to express their hatred and rage because, when it came right down to it, the man at the top had the same gut response.

Please sir, may I have some more?

Jon Stewart is ravenous these days. Like a child who has been told the giant bag of M&Ms is about to go back in the cupboard and is grabbing his last handfuls of candy, Stewart is relishing his last moments with the man who made him rich. Just watch...

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Happy New Year

It's been two weeks since my last post. I hope you all enjoyed your holidays.

But the reason I haven't been posted hasn't been entirely due to the long vac, but rather the fact that I haven't had much of interest to say. I realize that hasn't always stopped me before, but I do try to post only when I feel I have something to say that isn't entirely insipid. I'm happy to whine and complain and vent (but I'm happier when I can be funny or provocative or insightful), but I just don't want to be boring.

I'll try to maintain that commitment in 2009. Which brings me to my first complaint of the year: people who misuse "literally." When a sportscaster says "Graham is literally on fire out there today," there better be flames coming off him. "Literally" means something is actually happening. It has stepped out of the realm of metaphor and ventured into reality. The ad for a combo money clip and credit card holder where a guy complains that his fat wallet is "a pain in the butt -- literally" is alright. The interviewer who reflects that he could "literally see the wheels turning" in his subject's mind is not.

Just keep that in mind.