Thursday, August 28, 2003
Keir Dullea Says...
"Did I say 'wonderful'? Uh, well, something is going to happen. Supposedly. With some luck."
Martin Luther King, Jr.: "I Have a Dream..."
Forty years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his noted speech. Read it here (from the site of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee).
Thanks to Dragonleg for the reminder.
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
Keir Dullea Says...
"Something wonderful is going to happen."
Like, maybe by the end of this coming weekend.
No breath holding.
Friday, August 22, 2003
The Shamalar Revolution
In this delicious post, Agenda Bender gets onto one of the reasons any form of non-traditional me Tarzan you Jane you go fix supper coupling is a threat to the status quo. The nugget: the flowing sounds of Shalamar.
It's in this last verse that [A Night to Remember]s overflowing heart brings the Los Angeles River to floodtide. We're so happy let's drink to the exes!Just remember, kids: If Mullah Omar knew you so much as liked this music, much less were expressing love that way, he'd shoot you without blinking his good eye.
Thursday, August 21, 2003
Was It SoBigF?
Headline currently at Drudge: "WEST FILE VIRUS CLAIMS ANIMALS AT DENVER ZOO... DEVELOPING...".
Press to Israel: Bend Over and Take It
Okay, I'm not so naive as to pretend that the Middle East conflict doesn't have long roots, nor will I pretend that both the Israelis and Palestinians don't have some if not many legitimate greivances with each other, with much of the rest of the world, etc. (If you ask me, the Palestinians, if they would stop and think for a moment, ought to have some pretty big beefs with many of the governments in the Arab world, for example.)
So there was a cease fire.
So someone -- and it doesn't seem any stretch of the imagination that that someone was connected to one of the Palestinian parties in the cease fire -- blew up a bus and killed, what?, 20 something people.
So the Israelis went after a Hamas leader, killing several other people in the process.
It would seem to this one sitting in the safety of his office halfway around the world that an appropriate headline might be: "Cease Fire Breaks Down After Suicide Attack." Instead, the headlines from wire service and newspaper and television web sites almost all seem to be along the lines of "Hamas Declares End to Cease Fire After Israeli Attacks." As if the attacks happened completely context free.
It wouldn't surprise me if this had something to do with journalism-school approaches -- "Always use the most proximate event as the cause" -- along the same lines as similar non-intuitive to this non-journalist journalism practices -- "Always use the largest unit of measurement to describe epoch durations: If it happened yesterday the 31st, then say 'Last month'."
Or maybe there really is an ensemble bias in the press tilting in favor of the Palestinians.
The origins of that putative bias? I don't know. Could be a prediliction for quasi-socialism. The perception that Israel is a bully state. A snivelling toady attitude toward wanna-be (or real) dictators like Arafat. It's a mystery to me why it might exist, given that Israel, for all its faults, is a democratic nation whereas the Palestinian Authority is still essentially a Leninist-based one-party (one socialist-style party propped up for years by the Soviet Union and still unable to make it on its own without massive influxes of USA and European money) pseudo-government that will not, for whatever reasons (scared, confused, in cahoots) put down the terrorists that must, eventually, submit to legitimate governmental authority.
Think about that for a moment: There could be, maybe even in our lifetimes, a legitimate government in the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Would any legitimate government allow a bunch of armed thugs, many of whom are religious whackos, to dictate to the government what its domestic or foreign policies ought to be? No way.
Remember: The reasonable, sensible, language-as-a-way-of-modelling-the-universe proximate cause of the end of the cease fire was the suicide bombing, not the Israeli retaliation. The organizations within the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority that support such actions have lost any credible reasons they might ever have had to exist. The USA and Israeli governments should do anything and everything they can to help factions within that territory to dominate and destroy the terrorists and the supposedly-legitimate groups they are "arms" of.
I'm sorry, but I don't think there's any more room for negotiation with murderers.
Maybe not "Ugh!"
Ken Layne has additional/alternative details on yesterday's item (referenced below) about Phish bassist Mike Gordon, a boathouse, photos, and the nine-year-old daughter of a Hell's Angel's leader. Among those additional/alternative details: Segway rides, not just for the little girl, no boathouse to be behind, and no sneaking around.
Here's hoping it was all just a big misunderstanding. I probably shouldn't have linked to Layne's piece in the first place -- and what the hell was up with the purported serious-media story he linked to being on Orlando's Channel 6's ("local news here") web site when it happened at Jones Beach? -- but I have to admit that there's something creepy about Mike Gordon that I've never been able to clearly identify.
Still, I'm sorry for participating in whatever circus this was.
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
Phish bassist Mike Gordon is in trouble. Something about being behind the boathouse. To take "art photos." Of a nine-year-old girl. Whose father is a Hell's Angels leader on Long Island. Who he met at a Dead show.
Story here (via Ken Layne).
If it weren't for the fact that the father's "associates" may have roughed up Gordon already, this would have that episode of Law and Order where the parents let the comedian molest the little boy for muchos dineros written all over it. And it still might. Everyone except the cops seems to be tight-lipped about what happened.
Creeped out yet? If not, there's always this (via Dave Barry).
Of course, as creepy as both those stories, nether really comes close to that of the murderous bastards who hope to take over the world and killed about 40 people who were getting on with their lives yesterday. Thousands likely died around the world at the hands of less-organized murderers, but without coherence, without the cover of "my religion's better than yours," without trying to end what many of us think of as a life of freedom.
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
The Latest "Insta-Crisis"
Now that the phoney doctor/Republican generated Medical Malpractice Crisis in Florida has been temporarily settled, it's time for the Prison Overcrowding Crisis.
Flablogger Mark Lane has several pieces (starting here, then scroll up) on the latest shenanigans from JEB! and his cronies. (Does the word "shenanigans" make anyone else think of Stubby Kaye? Shenanigans was sort of like Video Village for kids.)
Lane has been on roll lately, with coverage and commentary over numerous topics, including lousy attempts at humor on the part of newspaper editorialists. I hate to break it to him, though, but hardly anyone reads those 19th century legacy/vanity publishing artifacts, possibly excepting around election time, and then with a large grain of salt.
The Salad King Speaks
Here, in today's New York Times (registration required).
The Salad King owns
Dressings and salsa and popcorn
HUD was no acronym
FOX is his target
In the copycat court
Or behind the wheel
He is the salad king
He can sue anything
Monday, August 18, 2003
Not My Kid
Today's Daytona Beach News-Journal has this story about parents griping that their kids who go to all-ages nights at local "night clubs" get roughed up when they act like total jerks in public.
Believe me, I'm not defending bouncers: A bouncer I once knew who worked at an ABC Liquor/Lounge in Orlando was a complete loser. The sheriff's deputies knocked on my door one time at 6:00 a.m. in the morning to see if I knew where he was, because they had a warrant to serve him for bouncing someone too hard. Bouncers can be complete and total creeps. The story contains at least one reported instance of some kids definitely getting bounced too hard.
But who are these loser parents who let their kids go to all-ages nights at these places. In my estimation, the same kind of parents who very rarely, if ever, see the evil that their little monsters do unto others. If I had a dollar for every time some perp's parents had uttered to some media tool the immortal words, "It couldn't've been our son," I'd be a rich man.
Take a ride on the clue bus, los locos parentes, it very well could've been, and it very likely was.
The local DJ is not sufficient reason for letting your budding criminals out of your sights. Quit letting your underage kids hang around bars, unless there's a really, really, good band playing. And if there is, then why don't you join them? It'll embarrass the hell out of them.
Saturday, August 16, 2003
His Son, the Internet Humorist
Were you alive in the 60s? If so, you likely remember
Hello Muddah.If you remember that, you might be interested in the Paul Harveyesque "rest of the story" by Paul Lieberman of the Los Angeles Times regarding Camp Granada (actually Camp Champlain), the songwriter Allan Sherman, and his son, Robert Sherman, who actually wrote Mom-Dad-get-me-out-of-here letters from camp then later in life became one of those persons who comes up with... Humorous WWW Quizzes.
My favorite Allan Sherman song goes
On top of Old SmokeyBut that's not important now.
Friday, August 15, 2003
End of the World, Part 42563
You know how some bloggers, even some favorite bloggers, crow about beating some famous Pulitzer-prize-winning columnist to the punch regarding some particular insight?
Now ask yourself this? When it comes to something really important like this, who had the goods first? This blog or "this blog" by some famous Pulitzer-prize-winning columnist?
End of the World, Part 42562
Devo is doing commercials for (the formerly Satanic, but much better now) Procter and Gamble's Swiffer brand of cleaning tools. Thanks to Dragonleg at Shattered Buddha for the link.
Wanna see the commercial? Okay. It's your head.
What's next? Some cruise line using Iggy Pop's Lust for Life in their commercials?
Speaking of Iggy.... Agenda Bender offers some schwinging Iggy words on the mongo Northeast power outage.
Speaking of power outages, it only took sixteen days (warning: The whole article is a link to send mail to the author) to get the power back on to some folks in Memphis after a storm there late last month. Our landlady who lives there was without power for eight days. In Memphis. In August.
What's that smell? It's only the river. It's only the river.
Thursday, August 14, 2003
East Coast, West Coast
Ocean Guy, Somewhere on A1A (up towards Jacksonville Beach, I think), has some thoughts on what/how the Democrats might do some things differently to gain back his vote. (Remember: Linking to someone else's post doesn't constitute an endorsement of the ideas there; it does say that I think the ideas should be considered and not dismissed, though.)
On the other side of the continent, out in the SF Bay Area, cranky male person Richard Bennett has what seems to be a pretty succinct analysis of who the players are in the world of California politics and its gubernatorial recall. (Again, I'm not endorsing his point-of-view, but from what I know about Golden State politics, there's something accurate about his listing of who the various power groups in the various parties are.)
It's the Ekman Transport, Dammit
The National Weather Service office in Melbourne, Florida, has an explanation of the upswelling phenomenon causing cold water temperatures along Florida's northeastern coast. It also has the image below.
Water temperatures along Florida's east cost. Click here for a larger version at the NWS/Melbourne web site.
See Cape Canaveral on the east coast? Its Delaware shaped county is Brevard County, and we're in Volusia County just north of there. Lighter shades correspond to colder water temperatures.
It looks like the temperatures in Flagler County are even colder.
NWS link via the Daytona Beach News-Journal, which has this story about the beachside coolness.
Of course, the upside to all this is a great sea breeze. We had the windows open the other night. In August. That's surprising.
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
Mark Lane, of FlaBlog fame, linked (in this post) to the Florida Lost Tourist Attractions site which has a somewhat overlapping list with those mentioned in the similar list from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that I mentioned in this post (below).
Among those on the master list at the FLTA site that I've been to are
There are several Daytona Beach attractions on the list I'm clueless about. Maybe Mr. Lane can fill everyone in.
They've been putting in sewer (at last, no more septic tank) and new water lines into our neighborhood for the past few months. Here's a shot of the alley beside our place.
Apologies for the time stamp. Some moron must not know how to operate his own camera!
If I had read this post at Shattered Buddha before getting into the water yesterday, I'd've known to expect the water temperature to be 59 degrees Farenheit.
59 degrees !
I think the only colder ocean water I've ever been in was at Ogunquit, Maine, summer 1991. The air temperature was 95 degrees F., and the water temperature was 55 degrees F.
Tales of the Tails
Yesterday, the New York Times was featuring this article on struggling traditional (i.e. pre-Disney) Florida attraction Weeki Wachee Springs (warning, slow-to-load Flash intro, but kinda fun in a cheezy way once it loads), the place with the "live mermaids." Trying to come up with some additional background on the place, a web search yielded these slightly different pieces (27 July 2003, 28 July 2003) from last month in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
I've been to Weeki Wachee, but it was a long time ago. Sounds like few improvements have happened since.
As usual, I'm kinda ambivalent about establishments like Weeki Wachee -- or Cypress Gardens -- going out of business. (The Journal-Constitution has this list of Florida attractions that have closed in the past twenty years.) By one set of considerations, they're just businesses, and businesses come and go as they're appropriate to the times and to the degree they can suck up your tax dollars (i.e., corporate welfare) to stay in business. But, the personal and human and nostalgia aspects pull me in a different direction. As the stories above make clear, the Weeki Wachee mermaids are real people, putting on a different and quirky -- and, yes, kitshcy -- entertainment. It sucks to see people lose their jobs.
And there is some value in preserving something from times now past. I'm not saying corporate welfare for all such enterprises, but I'm hopeful that something can be done such that some of those attractions can find a way to keep going as relevant operations, maybe with a little help from the community and its governments.
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Elvis died twenty-six years ago this week. Now, it's Death Week in Memphis.
I mean "Please don't call it 'Death Week' " in Memphis.
Okay, I mean Elvis Week.
Let's tempt the copyright gods. The following is from Lester Bangs's Psychotic Reactions and Carburator Dung:
...and when I read that book [Peter Guralnick's Lost Highway] it reminded me more than anyone else of Elvis even though it was recommended to me by Richard Hell who said it was the best book he had ever read and when I asked him why he said it was because he admired the protagonist so much for his individualism and originality and integrity and all that: BUILD YOUR OWN WORLD AND BE, nobody's happy but maybe at least NO LONGER ALIENATED cause how can you be when nobody else is around course you're probably no longer human either or soon will lose what little grit and blood and marrow lingered on like that waxen old Elvis we all saw on that ghastly TV concert special of I guess one of his typical last stage shows in the waning days but then Madame Tussaud's ain't such a bad place to hang your hat for eternity and being a mummy is one way to live forever just like the Colonel said when some reporter asked him what was gonna happen now that Elvis was dead: "Why, nothin', son, it's just like when he was in the army!") so that even at his most grotesque there was still something of the Infinite about Elvis, something again perhaps extraterrestrial, even down to all the post-death indignities they submitted his poor corpse to I guess to get revenge for all those years everybody in the world wondered what the hell Elvis did all the time and nobody knew so now he's been demystified to the max as we read in the daily swillsheet how he died trying to squeeze out one more little turdlet sitting stool (god, that beats Lenny Bruce even, naked by his toilet with a needle hanging outa his blue arm! damn!) and the other nite on TV I saw Geraldo Revera who is obviously a case of advanced ringworm it's just impossible to way whose body's and while hoping the unlucky host to said worm ain't all of us we get to watch the worm grill that poor ole Greek croaker who wrote all those scripts for Elvis and Jerry Lee and everybody else in town and is now a fall guy if ever I was one and there was even talk of having Elvis's corpse dug up and the stomach analyzed for traces of drugs these two years on which led me to fantasize: Can you imagine anything more thrilling than getting to stick you hand and forearm through the hole in Elvis's rotted gus slopping whatever's left of 'em all over each other getting the intestinal tracts mixed up with the stomach lining mixed up with the kidneys as you forage fishing for incriminating pillchips sufficient to slap this poor sweating doctor 20,000 years in Sing Sing and add one more hot clip to Geraldo's brochure of heroically humanitarian deeds done entirely in the the interests of bringing the public the TRUTH it has a constitutional right to know down to the last emetic detail which they in time get as you pull your arm out of dead Elvis's innards triumphantly clenching some crumbs off a few Percodans, Quaaludes, Desoxyns, etc. etc. etc and then once off camera now here's where the real kick to end 'em all comes as you pop those little bits of crumbled pills in your own mouth and swallow 'em and get high on drugs that not only has Elvis Presly himself also gotten high on the exact same not brand but the pills themselves they're been laying up there inside him perhaps even aging like fine wine plus of course they're all slimy with little bits of the disintegrating insides of Elvis's pelvisElvis Aron Presley. R.I.P.
Lester Bangs. R.I.P.
Monday, August 11, 2003
Pathetic Pat Robertson
Kit over at Paperfrog has this piece about that ugly Pat Robertson, his ugly praying for US Supreme Court justices to keel over and die, and his ugly business connections with now-deposed Liberian president Charles Taylor.
I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but way back in high school, I dated a girl whose mom was ahead of the curve in terms of being part of that early small group who watched Robertson and his 700 Club television show. She was a sweet woman, but an over-the-top religious freak. Her idea of a fun on a Friday night at home was kneeling in prayer for several hours, maybe with some speaking in tongues thrown in. Then watching the 700 Club.
Thanks to folks like her, and the money they gave him, Robertson got over the initial hump required to stay in the televangelizing business and have all that moolah stashed away somewhere.
Sunday, August 10, 2003
The Gay Divorce
AgendaBender has several posts (most recent, previous with a link back to, er, this blog (this blog, not Dave Barry referring to himself as "this blog"), more previous, and most previous) dealing with web-located negative comments about the new Episopalian bishop's having divorced his wife after he came out of the closet as a gay man.
I have to add that, straight or closet-case, that Derbyshire guy at The Corner seems like quite the Drama Queen. After receiving some negative e-mail from people telling him to shut up, Derbyshire said:
But I now know something I did not know 48 hours ago, or knew only vaguely and imperfectly: gay fascism is real, and strong, and determined. If this Political Correctness cannot be stopped, we are going to lose our freedoms.PC inanity can be real and irritating, but real threats to freedom like, say, not honoring Habeus Corpus -- or ongoing denial of basic human rights to, say, gay people -- are a lot more substantially troubling than PC inanity, if you ask me.
Like I said, "Drama Queen."
Linemen for Uncle Sam
My brother-in-law -- actually it's Mack's brother-in-law, so, since there's no gay marriage in this part of the world, I guess that would make him my brother-out-law -- is also named Tim Wilson. He works for the phone company in eastern Oklahoma. One of his co-workers got called up to active duty. That guy's Air National Guard squadron, the 219th Engineering and Installation, is stationed in Qatar, keeping the lines of communication working over there.
They've got a web site. Check it out.
This is just a brief moment of remembering that there's still lots of military personnel on active duty right now.
Children by the Million Sing for Alex Chilton When He Comes Round
Meanwhile, back in Memphis.... Besides Prince Mongo selling his house (don't worry, he'll find another one in a neighborhood with more appropriate neighbors to irritate by his very presence), the local PBS station made a documentary about the Memphis garage sound of the 1960s, a sound that gave the world the Boxtops ("The Letter"), fronted by Alex Chilton, and The Gentrys ("Keep on Dancing"). The Commercial Appeal's John Beifuss has the story here.
The entry title is from the song by The Replacements, of course. (Bob was such a loser.)
Saturday, August 09, 2003
We finally got around to watching Standing in the Shadows of Motown tonight. My, what a nice little film. It's the story of the Funk Brothers, the under-recognized and under-appreciated musicians who served as the Motown house band for so many records.
How many? My four-CD boxed set "Hitsville, USA" has about twenty or more cuts per disk, and it wouldn't surprise me if many, if not most, of the Funk Brothers played on just about each and every track. And, they also played some songs for the competition. Their involvment in soul and R&B music in the late 50s, the 60s, and the 70s is deep and broad.
The film is splendidly filmed. It's not one of those crusty Ken Burns style documentaries; it largely consists of the artists in question being allowed to talk about what they did and to play the music they were so instrumental (heh) in creating. There are some good front performances by Me'Shell NdegéOcello, Shaka Khan, Bootsy (Collins), Ben Harper, and Joan Osbourne, too.
Addendum: In trying to quickly get that post up last night before I fell asleep, I neglected to mention the quality of the sound editing. Even though we only have a lowly Dolby Pro Logic system, you can still tell when the sound editing of a music-centered flick has been approached with the visual editing in mind.
I thought this film's sound editing was excellent. The image would shift to the guy playing the piano, and the piano would come up slightly in the mix, going back to the original level gradually after the piano left the frame. I contrast that with the Phish flick we recently watched, where the sound editing and the image editing seemed completely disconnected.
Friday, August 08, 2003
Global Surf Report
Rabbit Blog's Heather Havrilesky has this piece on the latest in cinema and television programming with surfing as a focus or aspect.
I'm no surfer: only a poseur. I never really surfed. I own a boogie board and some flippers from the mid 80s, but I hardly ever use them anymore. I still love plain old body surfing, though, and it's nice to live just a few blocks from the beach.
My favorite body surfing experience of my life happened when I was in southern California for a job interview in August or September of 1985. It was late-afternoon on a Sunday after I had spent all day flying east-to-west, Boston-to-LA-via-Detroit. I was staying in Simi Valley near where the interview was the next day. Right across the Coast Range was Zuma Beach in Malibu.
I think I had taken my body board and paraphenalia and had it with me -- it all used to fit in a hanging-suit bag -- but I wasn't using it. Waves were about four or five feet and pretty clean. It was a cloudy, kind of cool day, and the beach was, for all purposes, deserted.
The memory of the thrill of my body hanging over the edge, sticking out, of what real surfers would consider a pissy little wave remains with me today: To be suspended in the water and see this more-than-a-yard drop from the wave you're riding to the water in front of the wave. I've rarely had opportunity to play in such a situation where the waves were so beautiful. It was heart pounding, I got whomped to the bottom once or twice, and I couldn't deal with more than a few good rides, but I've never regreted having done so.
I didn't get the job, but I've always been grateful for the interview.
Thursday, August 07, 2003
Several weeks ago, I noted how cold the local ocean water temperatures had been.
Apperently, it's not just a local phenomenon: Here's a story from the Washington Post about unseasonably cold water temperatures on mid-Atlantic beaches.
Why Hate Big Media?
Why hate big media? Because despite having enormous human and financial and computational resources, big media outlets behave stupidly enough frequently enough.
What am I talking about? For one, earlier today, a headline at Slate had the word "masturbation" as "masterbation." Like the punch line of a joke about a guy who's really good at putting worms on fishhooks. Sure, they corrected it quickly after I sent them an e-mail, but what am I, a proofreader for Microsoft's online magazine?
Now, currently on the front of the CNN website, is this teaser paragraph for this story on the California gubernatorial recall:
California's gubernatorial recall race took another twist today when Rep. Darrell Issa, who largely bankrolled the effort, decided not to run. Over the past two days, Sen. Dianne Feinstein decided not to enter the race. Then actor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would. Today, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante said he would run for Gov. Gray Davis' job if the recall passes.That last sentence makes it sound like there's going to be two elections: One to see if Davis gets recalled, then a subsequent one to elect a new governor.
But there's only one election being held. One question on the ballot will ask whether Davis should be recalled; a second asks voters to choose one candidate who will replace Davis if the recall question passes. The second question is moot if the recall fails. The construct "would run ... if the recall passes" just doesn't cut it. Surely a company like CNN with Time-Warner's resources can afford to pay top-notch graduates of journalism schools who can communicate the reality of a situation accurately, even to readers like me.
I don't mind typos, weird grammar, or misspellings on an individual's blog. I get site hits for having misspelled "Kobe Bryant" as "Kobe Bryan" and "American Splendor" as "American Slendor". But I'm doing this for free, excepting the reader's valuable time. The people who put together Slate and CNN and the New York Times get real money for doing what they do, so it's fair to hold them to a higher standard.
Addendum: My lover/partner/unindicted-co-conspirator tells me, correctly, that the punchline to the fishhook joke would be "masterbaiter." Sigh. Remember, there's a universal law -- I think it's Cohen's law -- that says every attempt to publicly correct (screw the split infinitive) another's grammar and/or spelling results in one making a grammatical or spelling mistake of one's own, with "mispelling" being particularly likely.
This article in today's New York Times (registration required) describes how Vermont-based jam band Phish used technology to oull off last weekend's big rock show in Maine. The key technologies: Walkie-talkies and Wi-Fi.
The concert organizers collaborated with Apple to open the House of Live Phish, a sort of next-generation Internet cafe. Using one of 20 iMacs, concertgoers could not only surf the Web and send e-mail, they could also burn free custom CD's from the 154 live Phish tracks that were loaded on each computer.To that, add the following instructive words to any engineer of any form:
In the end, It was all about the music, but technology allowed the artistic experience to bloom far beyond the stage and, more important, allowed the logistics behind the festival to come together. Hadden Hippsley, Phish's production manager, may have best captured the festival's overall approach to technology.There's a lesson there.
Today's Washington Post has this feature article on some who would be governor of California.
It's not just Arnold, Arinanna, Gary, and Larry.
Update: South Knox Bubba reports yet another candidate.
Three Little Words
Regular readers -- the few, the brave -- know that I'm partial to reading National Review Online's group blog, The Corner. I think it's a fun, energetic, read, I share some, certainly not all, of the participant's foreign-policy perspectives, and I like the fact that the participants are identified as individuals and take each other to task, disagree, joke internally, etc. Maybe it grows out of all those episodes of Firing Line I used to watch. Hell, I even read Up from Liberalism.
I certainly don't subscribe to their many, if any, of the predominantly expressed opinions at The Corner about domestic matters, particularly social issues. The recent events within the Episcopal Church (disclaimer: not my church. I was raised a Baptist by my mom and switched myself to Methodist when I was in the 4th grade. I'm still technically a member of the Centerville, Tennessee, United Methodist Church, which means they get money from their local Conference because I'm in their head count, which is fine with me. I'm formally agnostic, strongly inclined towards skepticism about all things supernatural. Matter evolves from nothing, through mechanisms we may or may not be able to understand. Life evolves from matter. Spirit is an attribute of living things, not the other way around. One man's opinion, etc.), though, have brought forth comments in that blog that I don't care for, particularly John Derbyshire's comments. I won't quote them; I won't "Fisk" them; I won't give them credence beyond a link, and simple respect and sorrow, pity even, for someone who feels very differently about something than I do, yet something that I'm doubtful he has any real knowledge of beyond his reported "disgust".
Similarly with Lileks's comments today. Both his and Derbyshire's comments are based on the premises that wedding vows are wedding vows, that children's needs overrule all, and that by divorcing his wife, the mother of his two daughters, when he acknowledged his homosexuality, Bishop Robinson displayed an unfitness for -- well, if you read them it sounds like "life as we know it" -- the clergy, much less being a bishop.
Also, today, someone at The Corner linked to Lileks's comments mentioned above. Ironically, they didn't choose to link to Lileks's recent sensible comments on gay marriage.
I respect folks' differing points of view, and I take them at face value reflections of what they take as their own deeply held feelings and beliefs. I'm not in their skin: who am I to say that what they say isn't genuine and heartfelt. I stronly believe in the value of vows, in responsibility towards created children, etc., but I also understand -- and I think I understand this in a way that Derbyshire or Lileks likely never will -- that a gay man leaving a relationship with a woman, formal marriage or not, children existent or not, because he recognizes that he is a gay man is substantially different than a man leaving his wife for another woman. Their inability to see that difference -- I believe it exists -- goes beyond their sincerity in their comments. It gets to an inability to imagine something about aspects of one's being when those aspects are 180 degrees against the widely-held social and biological currents.
There's every evidence that Bishop Robinson was a responsible divorced dad. That some men in the same situation are irresponsible is no condemnation of this individual or of individuals to come.
Respecting the intrinsic rights that gay people have, and that ought to and will eventually be respected, will not, cannot, denigrate the lives of heterosexual people. Respecting and acknowledging gay relationships with legal and social institutions like marriage will not, cannot, take away from the institution as people already honor and respect it. It will change who gets to shove whom around, and that is a good thing. People who aren't heterosexual don't need to spend their waking hours worrying about who is coming for them or their loved ones, or why they aren't treated the same as everyone else.
That new shades are added to the pallet doesn't remove the value of the ones already there. The sky is not falling. Western Civilization is strengthened, not denigrated, by respecting everyone's human rights, not reserving certain rights for individuals with selected attributes.
Get. Over. It.
Wednesday, August 06, 2003
Paddy's Bar was one of the locales on Bali in Indonesia that were hit by yahoo suicide bombers last October. Just a day or so before yesterday's new bombing in Jakarta, Paddy's reopened, a big "fuck you" to the terrorist assholes. Story here from the Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Austraila).
I saw the story yesterday in the wire-service world-news section of the dead-tree Fort Pierce Tribune, published before yesterday's bombing, but didn't get around to finding it in on the web until now.
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
Bears: On the Charts, with a Bullet
The gay-male bear subculture is on the charts with a bullet. Andrew Sullivan has this piece called "Da Bears" up at his web site; it's also availabe here at Salon, but you have to click through an ad to read it there. What's surprising to me is that Sullivan is writing about the bear thing as if it's the latest thing, when, in fact, it's been around for over ten years.
The Resources for Bears website, started by Bob Donahue, has been up since 1994. (Bob was one of the co-authors of the Bear Code, which was the original online "code." Ironically, the 'B' for Bear in the code has been ignored by the code-come-lately Blogger Code.) It grew out of the Bears Mailing List, which was started in the early 90s (I think) by Roger Klorese and Brian Gollum. (See correction below.) The Bear Community, in fact, probably has as much origins in the online communities of pre-WWW -- mailing lists, Usenet, and BBSs -- as it does in the real-life development of Bear Clubs, Bear Bars, Bear Magazines, etc.
The aspects of bears vs. the rest of gay culture described by Sullivan have been noted by bear types for as long as bear types have been corresponding with each other: hair vs. waxed, flannel vs. silk, gregarious vs. standoffish. And the way mass-market gay media focus on the latter of each of those pairs as a projected norm, instead of just letting people be who they are. That some gay men are hairy, or large, or like cotton, or get off on masculinity shouldn't come as a surprise, but it does come in contrast to other images and ideas presented, and not only in gay media.
Perhaps the best line in the piece is, "Straight people love their gay people flaming, or easily cordoned off from the straight experience. Bears reveal how increasingly difficult this is." But it's not just straight people, of course, to whom this applies. It also applies to a goodly number of gay people. Which brings us back to the eternal problem of true diversity: recognizing it and accepting it. Even within the bear group, there is wide diversity of attitude, employment, background, and just about any other factor you find except the ones used to "define" the group.
I'd seen Sullivan's article available, but hadn't read it yet. When the conservative types at National Review's The Corner are linking to Sullivan and describing the bear crowd as "Da Bears," it might be the beginning of the end, so I finally took a look. Turns out "Da Bears: Behind a Hairy Sub-Sub-Culture" is the title of his piece at his web site, whereas the title at Salon is "I am bear, hear me roar!". "The Bear Phenomenon" would've been better than either, to this headline writer, but no one's asking me. All we need now is a link from the InstaPundit, a mass-market novel featuring bears, a television show on TNN -- or Spike or whatever it's called -- and the bear trip will be completely absorbed into the larger culture. After ten-plus years, not just yesterday.
Addendum: A correspondent writes that it was Steve Dyer and Brian Gollum who founded the Bears Mailing List in 1988. Roger Klorese was running the list when I was reading it back in the early 90s. My friend also notes that there were signs of bear sensibility in gay culture starting in the early 1980s.
The Farm in The News
The Farm is a commune near Summerville, Tennessee. It was founded there in 1971 by Stephen Gaskin. When Gaskin and his gang of hippies moved there from the San Francisco Bay area, the regional media -- i.e., the Nashville Tennessean and the local Nashville television stations -- had a collective fit, hyping the story regularly. This was still fairly soon, in some sense, after the Summer of Love, after Tate/Bianca, Charles Manson, et al., so who can blame the local powers that be for trying to scare the wits out of the locals? Remember: there's always a lot of grocery store ads on when the weatherman is hyping the upcoming snow storm which turns out to be a dusting, so run out and get that half gallon of milk, some cigarettes, and a few lottery tickets. You may be trapped for days by the DEATH BLIZZARD. Well, those hippies are here for your daughers and sons, ladies and gentlemen.
(Okay, if you've never lived in a snow region, the above might not make much sense. I'm just trying to get across that our commercial information resouces, even if they are well-meaning in many senses of the world, and even if they are extremely professional and dedicated to their profession, are still part of the world, very much a part and not detached or neutral or capable of objectivity in any deep sense. Capable of striving for objectivity, yes; capable of disclosing conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflicts of interest, yes; capable of being neutral, no way.
And obviously capable of getting caught up in the emotion of a moment: I think it's pretty obvious from watching coverage of the recent war, the way the Kobe Bryant nonsense trumps a terrorist bombing for column inches and time on the radio or television, from the willing mass insanity when Princess Di crashed and burned. Espescially if that emotion sells newpapers or increases ratings.)
Anyway, MSNBC is carrying this AP story about the Farm, which is still plugging along, albiet with a capitalist twist. Link (here) from those libertarians at Reason's Hit and Run.
Disclosure: Someone I knew in high school ran away from home and joined The Farm. See, they were coming for the local daughters and sons. I don't have a followup as to whether he's still there or left, how long he stayed, what happened, or anything detailed. I believe, don't know for sure, that he left his home and went there to live when, by community standards, he should've been finishing high school.
Saturday, August 02, 2003
Funding National Service
Author Dave Eggers, mentioned in this space (here) a few weeks ago in reference to a good but silly pirate movie, has this op-ed in today's New York Times (registration required). He's taking the Bush administration and House Republicans to task for not fulfilling their obligation to fully fund AmeriCorp and the programs -- teaching, tutoring, and more -- it funds that (1) provide direct service to people who need it and (2) provide college-age kids a chance to give something to the national community and to local communities.
Not only is his message thoughtful, but, in contrast to many op-eds, particularly those by members of the government and traditional advocacy groups, the manner in which he delivers it is uncluttered and free of obfuscation.
Egger's tutoring/creative-writing program in the San Francisco Bay area is 826 Valencia. Check it out, if you haven't previously.
Friday, August 01, 2003
The Attic of Your Mind
Over at Alphecca, Jeff Soyer explores the memory-as-home metaphor in this post.
A related concept that's been used by folks since, oh, at least the ancient Greeks, that Jeff's post brings to mind, is using the map of someplace you know, like, say, your home, as a tool when you have to organize information.
Say you have to give a speech. You "put" different elements -- paragraphs, bullets, whatever chunks you like -- of content into different rooms of a building you already know. So, you use existing spatial associations you already have to help structure the abstract information you're trying to present to yourself or to others.
All this talk of mental imagery: It makes me think that it's about time to clean out the attic.