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February 8th, 2016

Your love fills me with joy…for which I must repent.

Puritan Valentine’s Day Cards!  Oh yes…

puritan valentines

 

A friend on Facebook says, “For that special someone you’re willing to tolerate until one of you is dead.”


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
January 25th, 2016

Two Sides That Are Not As Far Apart As You Think

This came across my Facebook steam this morning, and managed to re-ignite an anger I try very hard to keep contained…

Celibacy at Gay Christian Network: What’s that all about?

It was the following passage, right at the beginning of the linked article. I read stories like these and they make me really angry about what has been done to gay people…not only in the name of religion to be sure, but a certain sort of fundamentalist religion bears a lot of the blame…

On my first full-day at the Gay Christian Network annual conference, meeting in Houston, Texas, January 2016, I met a gay man, my age mate, who told me that for the past twenty years he has lived his gay Christian life committed to celibacy, but no more. Relatively recently, a pastor of a Southern Baptist church from his home state told him he could fully embrace his sexual orientation as a gift from God and enter into a same-sex marriage if he so desired. The man was, to use the expression, bursting with joy as he told me this…

…and I just want to go grab both sides A and B and yell in their faces while trying to shake some life back into them: get that goddamned cult leader off your back, whoever they are, however sincere they seem to be…Especially if they are sincere…You Do Not Need Third Party Permission To Be a Human Being!

And no, this isn’t about my being an atheist getting all holier than thou about religion. I have always had this reflex toward religiosity, or any politics for that matter, that is controlling. And that’s what this is all about; not denial of sex but denial of the heart within. There is no meaningful distance between I Give You Permission To Have That Intimate Heart-To-Heart Body And Soul Companionship and Permission Denied But Feel Free To Ache For It Until You Die Or Else God Won’t Love You And Neither Will We. None. Zero.

Listen to me, it isn’t Jesus you need to know better…it’s yourself. Love and desire are wonderful beautiful things. Finding it in another is one of this life’s perfect joys. The philosopher Lao Tzu said that being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Shame can only corrupt it, turn it against itself, lock you inside an insidious barbed wire fence. And the loveless soul soon becomes the empty shell for others to live vicariously in. If your faith isn’t a light within you, then it is a shroud someone’s wrapped you in. Unwrap yourself Lazarus, and go live life. 

And love God if that’s where you are, or love an amazing and sublime godless cosmos if that’s where you find yourself, and especially find someone to share it all with and love each other wholeheartedly, and don’t ask Anyone’s permission!

 


Posted In: Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | React!
January 22nd, 2016

To Whom It May Concern…

I guess the thing that really surprised me is I always thought you’d be the braver one. I never considered myself brave, just stubborn.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
January 12th, 2016

A Young Gay Guy In The Year 1977

While researching the events of 1977 and Anita Bryant’s campaign, I came across this via a Google image search that turned up this Jack Davis cartoon in the July 1978 issue of Mad magazine…

MadJuly78-JackDavis

It might seem surprising now how low class Mad Magazine’s attitude toward gays was…

Mad #145, Sept ‘71, from “Greeting Cards For The
Sexual Revolution” – “To A Gay Liberationist”

…but this blog post puts it into context: it wasn’t just the times, but also the 50s mindset of the staff. The liberal free spirit I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony mindset of the 60s-70s didn’t usually extend to Teh Gay. Check out the limp wrist in that Jack Davis cartoon. This is the world I came out into.

That summer of 1977 I had to listen to the BBC on my shortwave radio to hear the news from Florida because none of the TV and domestic radio news bothered to say anything about something that was obviously not of interest to decent normal people. Close to midnight sitting by the shortwave I learned that three out of four voters in Dade county had voted to kill an ordinance that simply said gay people ought not to lose their jobs or their housing simply because a boss or a landlord found out they’re gay. The next day as I walked through the city I found myself counting down three people for four I passed…trying to grasp the scope of how much people like me were still loathed.

Then later that December 1977…I watched the Christmas TV special that’s been on my mind the past couple days…


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by Bruce | Link | React!
January 11th, 2016

The Social Media Winds Blow…Coldly On Some Of Us…

The Outcasts are grieving today. Not all of us however, for the same reason. But because the tears at least are genuine, I will hold my peace. For now.

It’s true. I have to admit it, finally. Embrace my inner militant homosexual for the militant that he is. Go take a look in the mirror and admit that the completely unremarkable, vaguely distracted longhaired geek staring back at me is actually pretty hard core. Yes…yes I am. I reckon. I’ve said this before: A militant homosexual is a homosexual who thinks there isn’t anything wrong with being a homosexual, and a militant homosexual activist is a homosexual acting like there isn’t anything wrong with being a homosexual. It’s not about how many marches you’ve walked in, or protests you’ve attended, or how many petitions you’ve beaten the streets for signatures. It’s the mindset. That is the alpha and the omega of it. Because if you speak up for yourself or act up for yourself like you really mean it, whether it’s on the picket line or the checkout line, whether its facing down the Phelps clan or the boss or that kindly neighbor next door who wonders why teh gays want to destroy marriage for the rest of us, they will call you a militant homosexual. And so you are.

I’ve wandered amidst the quilt panels, remembering faces, hearing voices lost forever now to my ears. I’ve listened to the stories of survivors of ex-gay therapy, read their writings on the wall, surprised the bricks underneath weren’t crying too. And I’ve seen what the closet has done to so many good hearts. That’s the worst. So many good hearts. So many hopes and dreams of love and joy and contentment, never to be. There was nothing wrong with us. There was never anything more than simple, common everyday human prejudice and bigotry laid against us, grinding our hopes and dreams into other people’s stepping stones to heaven, or at least into a tiny shred of self respect they had no hope of earning for themselves. We had to be monsters so other people could be respectable. We had to bleed so other people could be righteous. We had to hate ourselves, so other people could admire the troglodyte they were.

When I was a teenager I fell madly in love with a classmate. I thought he hung the moon and the stars. It was the most wonderful thing I’d ever experienced. It blasted my denials about myself to dust. I’ve never felt a shred of shame since. Decades later, both of us old men now, I listened to him talk about how a life lived in the closet made it difficult some days to tell who he was looking at when he looked in a mirror.

Well I know who I’m looking at when I look in mine. And I have no patience. None.

That’s all I have to say.  For now.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
January 6th, 2016

Some Days You Really Miss Rod Serling…(continued)

I think now my little Twilight Zone fantasy can be better. As I wrote it the other day it’s kinda obvious. What it needs is more of that humanity Serling and the writers he brought on board back in the day gave it. (and yes, I’ve been tweaking it ever since I put it up, but I think now I’ll just stop…). I think now that a better progression through the events of history would be if the men around Fearless Leader gradually began to see how wrong it was for them to appropriate the history of those events for themselves, and the tragedy of those who actually did come face to face with tyrannical state power, and as each change of scenery happens more and more of them begin to question what it was they were there to protest in the first place, and turn to the people they suddenly find themselves with and…apologize for comparing themselves to them.

And as they do this, fewer and fewer of them pass on to the next scene in history until the only one left is Fearless Leader, who never learns the lesson.

And maybe the last scene isn’t Tienanmen Square and instead of Sand Creek it’s that wildlife preserve but during the Indian Wars of the late 1800s and Fearless has been dropped in the middle of a roundup of the Indians who once lived there but were force marched out so the white land owners could move in. With the Union Soldiers is one of the old Land Barons mentioned at the beginning of the episode but he has his father’s face and he tells Fearless that they have to get off His land and Fearless says (not really getting that he looks like all the other Indians to this man) wait…not me…it’s our land…at which Land Baron shoots him…or the soldiers drag him off…and we get the closing narration…

standoff land history


Posted In: Politics Thumping My Pulpit
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January 5th, 2016

Some Days You Really Miss Rod Serling

This came across my Facebook stream, in relation to the militia kooks occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon…

twilight zone oregon federal building standoff-sm

In case you haven’t read by now, the militia heros that declared themselves ready to occupy the cottage at the preserve by force of arms for years if necessary until the government ceded the land to them…didn’t bring with them any food…

19492266-standard

Internet ridicule has swiftly followed…

send snacks

Somewhere else I read they were also asking for socks.

This is all very good snark material, but that picture of Rod Serling got me to thinking about what he’d have possibly made of all this. The Twilight Zone wasn’t merely comic book weird tales and amazing stories. Within its otherworldly take, Serling took on the social, moral and political issues of his time, and because his stories were so good as to be timeless, ours as well. The more you watch those old black & white episodes, the more you appreciate what he managed to accomplish in the Hollywood system, and the more you miss him. If TV was a vast wasteland back then, it’s a toxic landfill now.

You can imagine it opening with the militia, (which Twitter quickly dubbed Y’all Qaeda) talking to reporters from the front door of the cottage. Perhaps the local sheriff steps forward to beg them to leave peacefully before anyone gets hurt. The townsfolk don’t want you here, we’re a peaceful law abiding community, the men you’re defending were found guilty of setting fires on public land by a jury of their peers. They could have killed those firemen and rangers. Please…just go…before anyone gets hurt. And the militia spokesman with the cameras rolling (this is late 1950s TV) just recites his boilerplate about freedom, tyranny and the lawless federal government taking our land and persecuting the ranchers. Waving his rifle in the air he says he and his men will occupy the land for as long as it takes and like the patriots who fought for America they too are willing to die for their cause if it comes to it. 

…at which point the camera might pan over to Rod Serling, who might say something along the lines of…

Meet [name of militia leader], American patriot, who with his men has just invaded a small wildlife sanctuary in a remote part of Oregon to defend freedom from the scarecrows contained within pamphlets and newspapers printed by extremist madmen. But tonight those scarecrows will step off the printed page and accept his challenge, because what he and his men don’t yet realize is the land they have occupied…is in the Twilight Zone.

The camera backs away from the militia news conference, and begins to pan over a gathered small crowd watching the proceedings. We hear the militia man arguing with the sheriff in the background, while various townsfolk express their opinion that they should leave before someone gets hurt. Others that they have a point, the federal government doesn’t seem to listen to the people anymore. Someone says they’d listen if more of us voted. Somebody else whispers that they’re not fighting for the ranchers, they’re fighting for the old land barons who owned everything here including the water, before the government cut them down to size. 

The camera comes back to the scene in front of the cottage. The sheriff warns the militiaman that the longer they stay the more likely someone will get hurt. The man repeats his claim that they are willing to die in the fight against tyranny.

The scene changes to night. The camera pans from armed watchmen outside to the interior of the house, where we see these guys are just playing soldier. They brought plenty of ammunition but nobody figured on food and the water to the cottage had been turned off for the winter. There is some argument about what to do next, but the leader is still in control. Unfortunately, he’s just a schoolyard bully in a grownup body. He has neither military experience nor common sense. They bed down for the night.

Then they wake up to find themselves in a Jewish ghetto surrounded by SS men. They have some weapons, but now there is a military force arrayed around them, not a small town sheriff and a few men.  Now we see what they’re really made of and none of them are even close to soldier material, nor martyr either: they’re cowards and it shows right away, first in the leader, who like all bullies collapses into a self pitying heap when confronted with anyone bigger and stronger. His men quickly follow. The Jews in the room with them look on in disgust. The soldiers outside begin firing.

They all die. Then they wake up again in teepees at Sand Creek surrounded by soldiers. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Then they wake up again and they’re in a southern black church during the civil rights days surrounded by a lynch mob led by the local sheriff. Again the cowardly behavior. Again the looks of disgust from the people in the church.

Then they wake up in a small house in ancient Rome, there is a makeshift cross on the wall…Roman centurions are outside. The men rend their togas and try to wave white surrender flags out the windows while the Christians inside look on in disgust. The centurions  break down the door, charge inside with their short Roman swords…

…and they wake up in Tiananmen Square…

…at which point the camera pans over to Rod Serling, who might look into the camera and say something along the lines of…

Every tyrant is a thief and every thief a potential tyrant, and the items of value for their taking are more than simply money and land, but also culture, history, and valor. These things, intangible though they are, contain the sum of all wealth and human nobility that ever was and will ever be, and while they may be stolen and worn for a time, they can only be lived by the those who have earned them. A word of warning to anyone who would cast themselves in the role of martyr in the defense of liberty: you might just get an audition…in the Twilight Zone…

Of course, Rod Serling would write a better story and better words to speak to the camera than I could ever put in his mouth. But a kid who grew up in the black & white TV days can still imagine what it would have been like.

ammon-bundy-bw

 

tiananmen_square-bw 


Posted In: Politics
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by Bruce | Link | React!

Yes, He’s A Kook…But What Do You Think That Means?

Just in case you’ve forgotten over the holidays how batshit crazy this man is, this clip from The Rachel Maddow Show is well worth watching.  The clips of his news interviews over the birth certificate are instructive.

Just a few weeks ago George Will was warning that a Trump candidacy would destroy the conservative movement

One hundred and four years of history is in the balance. If Trump is the Republican nominee in 2016, there might not be a conservative party in 2020 either.

But the suit and tie conservatives like Will, bellyaching that Trump might destroy the conservative movement, need to point their fingers in the mirror instead. Trump is what he is, because the kook pews are what they are, and the kook pews are what they are because the country club crowd found them useful enough to enable them. Will to this day idolizes Ronald Reagan, who began his successful campaign for the presidency in 1980 in a Mississippi city near where James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were murdered for registering black voters, with a speech about state’s rights. He knew perfectly well what Reagan was doing that day. They all did.

Yes, Trump is nuts. What do you think that means? The moral judgement attaches to those who knew better, or could have known better had they wanted to, but took the belly flop into the gutter anyway. Morality is choice, and Trump just is what he is and his followers just are what they are. The judgement on bargains made with the devil attach to the bargainer. Donald Trump is the face in the conservative mirror.

Donald_Trump

 


Posted In: Politics Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | React!
December 25th, 2015

I’m Missing A Christmas Card This Year…

Met my old lover in the grocery store
The snow was falling Christmas Eve
I stole behind her in the frozen foods
And I touched her on the sleeve

She didn’t recognize the face at first
But then her eyes flew open wide
She went to hug me and she spilled her purse
And we laughed until we cried

We took her groceries to the checkout stand
The food was totaled up and bagged
We stood there lost in our embarrassment
As the conversation dragged

Went to have ourselves a drink or two
But couldn’t find an open bar
We bought a six-pack at the liquor store
And we drank it in her car

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how

She said she’d married her an architect
Who kept her warm and safe and dry
She would have liked to say she loved the man
But she didn’t like to lie

I said the years had been a friend to her
And that her eyes were still as blue
But in those eyes I wasn’t sure if I
Saw doubt or gratitude

She said she saw me in the record stores
And that I must be doing well
I said the audience was heavenly
But the traveling was hell

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to time
Reliving in our eloquence
Another ‘auld lang syne’

The beer was empty and our tongues were tired
And running out of things to say
She gave a kiss to me as I got out
And I watched her drive away

Just for a moment I was back at school
And felt that old familiar pain
And as I turned to make my way back home
The snow turned into rain

-Dan Fogelberg, “Same Old Lang Syne”


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I’m Missing A Christmas Card This Year…
December 24th, 2015

Age And Wisdom

Regards Kentucky’s new governor, that quote of H.L Mencken’s about democracy being based on the theory that the people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard kept coming back to mind. Whilst looking it up I stumbled upon this one…

The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.
-H. L. Mencken

Yeah. About that. There’s this beautiful quote of Issac Newton…that I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. The wisdom there is this: that even if you take care to walk though your life with your eyes open and your mind curious, you will still only see what was there for you to see. And that portion is very small.

Don Juan (I’m showing my generational age group now) said that the second foe was Clarity, and that to defeat it you had to keep in mind that your knowledge was merely a light in the path before you, and you do not see what is on either side of that path. Jacob Bronowski said that all knowledge is bound within an area of uncertainty and we must treat what we know with humility. As people get older, myself included, they tend to put great stock in their accumulated life experiences. But you have to be careful. Yes, it was real. But it was only the smoother pebbles and prettier shells you found. There was a greater ocean around you that you will never know.

That doesn’t mean your life experiences are worthless. It was real. It was wonderful. But you need to keep in mind that it was only a part of the whole. And that greater part is huge. Infinite practically. You learned a lot. Treasure it. Pass it on. But remember: the ocean remains.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Age And Wisdom

Code Yellow!

Continuing in our series of Homeland Security Color Alert Code illustrations. Because you all want to be safe and secure in these uncertain times don’t you? Well we’re not from the government and we’re here to help! Our color coded alerts will keep you informed and up to date on everything you need to be afraid of.

Today’s color is YELLOW: Hit the brakes or the gas…think quickly now…

Alert-Level-Yellow


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December 10th, 2015

Code Blue!

Today’s Homeland Security color is Guarded. Rest assured our guards are on the job to protect you from practically all known security threats!

Alert-Level-Blue


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December 8th, 2015

Code Green!

On Facebook a friend posted earlier today that Homeland Security was resurrecting its color code terror alert system. Coolness! Back in the Bush years when it was first rolled out I did an outline for an alert color system of my own, but beyond one sketch never pursued it. I should have. I think mine’s better than the official one.

I’m going to do the whole set now…

Alert-Level-Green


Posted In: cartoon Politics
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December 5th, 2015

Apple: The Cutting Edge On Your Throat…

[UPDATE…]  Actually…the Apple “Lightning To Thirty Pin” connector Does provide full iPod Out integration with accessories after all. I went ahead and spent fifty bucks on one at my local Apple Store because I’d started reading enough positive reviews of it to believe it was at least worth the risk. On the one hand were the initial reviews like this CNET one which flat out says the iPod functionality is missing. On the other were comments in various support forums including Apples, which indicated that at least for some folks it was working just fine. One of these said they had a Mercedes ‘E’ Class of the same year as mine. There were plenty of others though, who said it wasn’t working at all.

So I took a chance, bought one and plugged it and the new iPhone into my Mercedes, and as it turns out, everything works just as I would expect now.  So either Apple had a change of heart, or the initial reviews got it all wrong, or more likely Apple as is its wont gave out rather limited information regarding its hardware and the media just filled it the blanks however they thought best.

So everything is working now with the new iPhone and Spirit. I have all my menus back, my playlists, the alphabetic searching through things using the dashboard keypad. It’s all there, just as it was with the 4s. Fifty bucks for the adaptor, but that’s how it rolls with Apple.

I’ll say this though. I’m noticing a much improved sound quality out of this new iPhone…even through the car stereo. Bluetooth sound is even a little better…at least as far as streaming Pandora and Internet Radio.

So…(ahem)…as to the bitter heated rant I vented below about Apple breaking things and not giving a flying fuck…

never mind

 

Mostly. I’m Still not happy about how Apple likes to break things. It’s a chronic problem with them. But at least this upgrade turned out to be not so disastrous as I’d initially thought. The angry rest of this post is after the break, if you still want to read it. And I will not this: not one word from Apple in any of the support forums was ever, to my knowledge, heard. They could have made things a lot clearer regarding this adapter and maybe there wouldn’t still be so much angst out there over the new connector. I still stand by my characterization of the Apple Complaint Department. And for any iPhone or iPod accessories that won’t take the Apple adapters because of form factor or because of other issues…well…you’re still SOL…

Read the rest of this entry »


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December 3rd, 2015

A Recurring Theme Of Violence

This came across my Facebook stream this morning…

times_comparison

This comparison is worth noting, but I’m sharing this for another reason. In the arguments over gun control, and people (men almost always) who commit acts of violence with guns, I keep seeing this one thing popping out at me: a history of domestic violence or brutality toward women, sometimes children, sometimes animal torture. And also this…look at how the Times phrases it: “…who occasionally unleashed violent acts toward neighbors and women he knew.” It’s like they’re describing a charming little eccentric personality quirk and not a scary indicator of a deeply rooted predatory nature that should have everyone concerned.

The NRA. its constipated culture warriors, its jittery paranoid drunken Ted Nugent following would howl loudly about it but I see an eminently reasonable basis to deny someone the ability to legally buy and own a firearm right there: domestic violence. Of course there would need to be due process, a right to appeal and have your case heard. Fine. But if that’s what you are then the rest of us have more than enough cause to be afraid of what you might do with that gun.

I’m saying this as a gun owner myself, and as someone who believes the right of individual citizens to own their own firearms makes sense in a democracy. Overall gun violence is down. But these mass public shootings are on the rise and, in my judgement, they’re showing a common theme that isn’t necessarily about religious fundamentalism. Background checks won’t prevent all shootings, but if done seriously and diligently they’d be a help. But this also needs to be taken into account: if children can’t trust you, if your lover can’t trust you, then who can? I would say this is even more telling about a person’s potential for violence than a criminal record.

Look at it in the context of the overall mindset toward women, particularly among GOP politicians these days. The shooting at Planned Parenthood and the smear campaign against it are of a piece. You would have to assume, given the number of chest thumping runts now walking the halls of congress and the statehouses, that inconveniencing people at the gun shop, who occasionally unleash violent acts toward neighbors and women, would seem baffling to them at the least, if not an attack on their rights as men. Boys will be boys… The stereotype of the gun owner as having small dick issues is crude and misses it. It’s not their dicks that are small, it’s their hearts. The gun isn’t a dick substitute. The dick is a heart substitute.

Bullies will be bullies. Guns don’t matter. I realize to many that seems an outrageous thing to say but I keep finding it to be true. They say guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Fine. But what kind of people? This ultimately I submit, is precisely why they imposed a funding ban on research into gun violence; because it is exactly what they don’t want science to pin down. They can already see themselves in that mirror. It’s not the gun that makes a person dangerous. It’s the lack of heart that makes a person dangerous. And you really see it in how they treat their spouses, their lovers, children, neighbors. There’s where it tells you that someone is not to be trusted. And maybe not just with a gun either, but also with a seat in congress. There’s the big red warning sign. A criminal background check is not nearly as telling as that is.

 


Posted In: Politics
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Recurring Theme Of Violence
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