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March 29th, 2014

Don’t Worry…It’s Only Geek Humor…

This came across my Facebook stream the other day…

my-neighbors-suck-funny-wifi-network-names

I think I’ll name mine The Network That Dare Not Speak Its Name…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
March 25th, 2014

Fred

Death only closes a man’s reputation and determines it as good or bad. -Joseph Addison

I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.  -Mark Twain

I’ve lived through such terrible times and there are people who live through much worse. But you see them living anyway. When they’re more spirit than body, more sores than skin, when they’re burned and in agony, when flies lay eggs in the corners of the eyes of their children – they live. Death usually has to take life away. I don’t know if that’s just the animal. I don’t know if it’s not braver to die, but I recognize the habit; the addiction to being alive. So we live past hope. If I can find hope anywhere, that’s it, that’s the best I can do. It’s so much not enough. It’s so inadequate. But still bless me anyway. I want more life. -Tony Kushner, “Angels in America”

In his book African Genesis Robert Ardrey wrote one of the more eloquent analogies for the grandeur of time and the curtain death places between us and the past, so often overlooked when pondering the origins of life. He asks the reader to place themselves on a lonely narrow California beach where foggy mountains slope down into the sea…

…let us make two assumptions. The first, not difficult, is that the visible horizon is just ten miles away. And secondly, we must assume that our sea is death, and that it is rising. This is not too difficult an assumption either, thanks to the lonely beach with the muted cries of a few distant gulls, and no other living thing. It is a sea of  death that we face, stretching beyond the visible horizon to the other end of the once-living world. The death-sea rises, slowly and eternally as it has always been rising, covering all things that it touches. It laps now quietly at our narrow beach, the present.

Where the little waves fall back not twenty feet across the shining sand, we see revealed the rotting, moss grown, Spanish hulks of the Great Armanda…A gentle trough between two incoming swells reveals for an instant not a hundred feet from where we stand a cross…Hammurabi’s Babylon is lost beneath the water amidst shifting sands. We cannot see it, for the sea has risen too high. Eighty yards from our little beach, however, what seem to be three rocks break the incoming swells and make white water. They are, of course, the pyramids at Giza.

Nothing breaks the surface of time’s ocean beyond the pyramids…Had we the courage to wade out into this sea of no return, and to swim out a few strokes, we should find a sandbar just below the surface. These are the fields and pastures of those Middle Eastern peoples, nameless and forgotten, who domesticated wheat and barley and cattle and sheep… All that we call civilization stands between the sandbar and the shore…

…the beach we stand on is the precarious present. It will be swallowed before long as other beaches have been swallowed, and a new one will form just behind us…

I think of this image often when confronted by death. In Ardrey’s sea the ten mile horizon becomes a million years, and each one after that another million, and not many horizons do we travel before the short distance between the sandbar at the beginning of civilization and the shore seems almost laughably, terrifyingly small, let alone our lonely little beach.  The joke I heard once is that it isn’t that life is so short but that we’re dead for so long.

I strongly doubt there is an afterlife and the concept seems awkward anyway. If you’re still there then there is no after, only metamorphosis of some sort. And even then the question becomes, of what sort. Do we still have anything left of us that can be thought of as human?  In the end, what Tony Kushner said is true; what we want is not so much an afterlife as more life. But I don’t think there is even that.

But there is something. Our lives are as though little pebbles tossed into Ardrey’s sea of death. At the moment they hit the water and disappear we are gone. But there are ripples that fan out and away from our lives: The reputation we leave behind. The things we did to our neighbors in this life.  The good and the bad.

There is no point in doing unto Fred as he did unto the rest of us because he won’t be bothered by it, he’s gone. You could think of picketing his funeral as a poke at the little tightly wound church of hate he left behind, but the point is without Fred that little ball of bile would not be. Fred was the problem and now Fred’s gone and he won’t care what you have to say about him now. His last chance of earthly redemption is gone. He done passed the Last Chance station and now it’s too late to get off. He will always be Fred God Hates Fags Phelps. Perhaps that was how he wanted it in the end anyway, to be remembered for what he hated, not what he loved.  But at the end, could he even remember anything he had once loved?

There is nothing wrong with being angry at Fred. There is nothing wrong with that feeling of contempt for the man.  He earned it, worked hard for it, and probably right up to the very end was immensely proud of it. But stand quietly at his grave, respectfully because this is your destination too someday, and let the life that once was be a warning. Hate does not share power within a heart. It will systematically kill every other thing you have in there, everything fine and noble you ever were or ever could have been, and take from you all the smiles and all the laughs and all the love you might have shared, until there is nothing left inside of you but hate itself. To picket a grave is pointless, there is nothing there anymore, only the ripples of what once was spreading gently across the sea of death. For all his picketing of the dead, and all the obscene hatred he vented at the mourners, he was powerless to stop or alter the ripples of their lives, and all the smiles and all the laughs and all the love that were shared, gently spreading outward in time.  All Fred had within his power was to change the nature of his own reputation, his own life’s ripples and he did not. He hurt a lot of people, but he destroyed himself.

Stand quietly. Say a prayer if you have one in you. Will this world be better for your having walked in it? Then let him go. Don’t bury yourself along with him.

[Edited a tad for clarity...and some additional thumping...]

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
February 21st, 2014

I Hate You Cupid…

…but then I’m hardly the only one.  This came across my Facebook stream a little while ago…

straight_boy_freakout

Count your blessings straight boy, and be nice to the one you can’t love back. Painful unrequited love is probably waiting patiently for you too, somewhere down your road…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
February 17th, 2014

Solitude…

By Ella Wheeler Wilcox. So much win in that poem…

But she also wrote, Love lights more fires than hate extinguishes. How I hope that is true…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
February 14th, 2014

Repost: Valentine’s Day Broken Heart Countdown…No Rescue For The Rescuers…

There was the guy I met on the path in Rock Creek Park. I was bicycling to work in those days because I didn’t have a car, and the path through the park was a good shortcut that allowed me to stay off the main roads. It was also a peaceful ride through the woods early in the morning. No busy buzz of traffic, no early morning commuter noise. I saw a cat laying on the side of the path and as I got close noticed it wasn’t moving. At first I thought it was dead, but as I slowed down next to it the poor thing raised its head and looked at me. It was in distress.

Another guy about my age comes bicycling up and together, me gently carrying the cat and him walking both our bicycles, we get the cat to his house, which was nearby. By the time we get there the cat has perked up a bit, but still isn’t moving much. It was a longhair of some sort, there was no blood anywhere on it and its coat was in good condition. But there was no collar so no way to tell who its owner was. Nothing seemed broken but you couldn’t be sure. The guy and his dad agreed to take it to a nearby vet. I went off to work.

After work I stopped by their house to ask about the cat. But I had nefarious motives. The guy who helped rescue the cat was beautiful, and had set even my dull gaydar ringing. On the walk back to his house we began chatting about this and that. There was an air of sadness to him. He spoke in soft, quiet tones as though he was sitting in church. His mother he said, had passed away some years ago and he and his dad lived together. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life but for now he was working part time and in school part time and hoped to get his degree soon. Somehow we begun talking about books we’d read and I’d thrown in a couple trolling comments about Lambda Rising bookstore, which he was familiar with enough that he knew where it was and where it had moved from, and when he mentioned he often used the path for an early morning jog I mentioned Billy Sive, the main character in the novel The Front Runner, and he replied that he was a vegetarian too and it was a better diet not just for runners but everyone.

So there I was at his front door, and his dad answers and invites me in. The guy I’d met was there and the three of us sat in the living room and chatted for a bit, first to assure me that the vet had said the cat would be okay and they were going to take care of it until its owner could be found. Then the talk turned oddly to me…what did I do for a living, how long had I been living in Rockville, what were my interests, and so on. I didn’t mind the inquisition, which came almost exclusively from his dad. In fact I was wanting just then to make myself seem interesting enough to the guy who knew who Billy Sive was that he’d want to see more of me.

Oh yes…I work at a custom plastic shop over in Kensington, and in my spare time I paint landscapes and and draw cartoons. Plus I do photography work for a couple local newspapers and I’m working on a book of my art photography. I emphasized as I usually do when I’m trying to get someone’s attention, my creative side. As his dad chatted with me about my photography, I noted that I had his son’s absolute attention, and from the occasional sideways glances I could tell that his dad saw it too.

His dad asked about my political views and then, as casually as he could manage, asked how I felt about gay rights. And with all the nerve I could manage I replied that I was completely in favor of gay equality. At this point I almost expected to get shown the door, but his dad nodded his head and…smiled warmly. “That’s good,” he said, “that’s good.”

Dad…approves?! This was unknown territory for me, but I was more than willing to explore it. His son seemed very uncomfortable. Shortly after that his dad excused himself, saying he had work to do. When we were alone, his son set me straight.

Dad was a happy agnostic apparently, but when the mother died the son converted to Catholicism. And to be homosexual was a very grave sin (it later became a mere intrinsic disorder…). I could have argued it with him, but there’s a point where you just see it in someone’s eyes that it’s going nowhere. Perhaps he saw it in mine too. He didn’t try just then to get me to believe it too, just to make sure I knew he believed it. 

So we shook hands and I left. Years later I experienced for myself the bottomless grief of my own parent’s deaths…dad first and then many years later, mom…and have never doubted since how despairing and vulnerable it leaves a person. And I have wondered ever since if that gay guy’s dad had been trying, not so much to set his gay son up with a nice boy, but trying somehow to awaken him out of grief. Life goes on…find someone to share it with… But there are those who prefer gay people pass the hours of our lives alone, and in despair. I have no idea if, absent one life hating priest somewhere anything might have come of it between us, but a even a brief walk in the garden might have done wonders for both of us just then. Which, of course, is exactly why he had to believe that love between men was a grave sin, and I had to believe he believed it

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off

Repost: Valentine’s Day Broken Heart Countdown…The Boy I Met In Church

The Google doodle today is lovely, and for me personally, very painful. Those of us who came of age right around the time of Stonewall had to find our way to love across a minefield of prejudice, ignorance and hate. And looking back on it you realize that so many of those roadblocks were put there to prevent you from proving other people’s prejudices wrong…to prevent you from rising above them. Because the one thing you never want the scapegoat to be able to do, is believe in themselves.

I have remarked often on how the gutter thinks homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. I’ve had it said to me outright at various times online. Orson Scott Card has written columns saying it with the same off-handed matter of factness one might talk about the weather. Here’s Randy Thomasson of Save California saying it. When I was a young man, people took it as an insult, as a mockery of their own happiness and joy, whenever gay people asserted their right to seek and find their other half too. And so many time I came close, only to have yet another chance snatched away because I couldn’t be allowed to live outside the gutter I’d been tossed into.

It’s better for gay youth and young adults nowadays. But this is not a good time for me. I’m 60 years old now, and I have so many stories…none of them happy…

Closest I ever came to having an actual boyfriend was the one I met in church. And that’s the way you would imagine it would happen in the best of all possible worlds isn’t it after all. You meet the boy or girl next door, say at church or some other social common ground. Your heart skips a beat and so does his (or hers) and the next thing you know the two of you are dating. The problem for us was twofold: we were gay and we were Baptists.

So, and perhaps unsurprisingly, right from the start of it emotional closeness was difficult for both of us. It’s a common complaint you hear at the tail end of romantic misfires among gay couples. He had trust issues. He was emotionally distant. Perhaps we simply were not right for each other after all. Or perhaps it was something he confided to me one night, as we lay together, in a very quiet, emotionless voice.

We began our tentative affair almost as soon as he got out of the military, having honorably served a tour of duty far, far away from the parent units. His mother and mine were church friends. Every Sunday we gathered at the same church until in my teens I decided church was not for me and mom, while she never stopped trying to nudge me back, never demanded I go whether I wanted to or not. That’s actually a very Baptist approach…there’s a reason Baptists don’t baptize infants and small children. You have to come to God wholeheartedly, just as you are.

For a while I actually worked for his father, but it didn’t last. As a boss he had a very bad temper, and could not keep his harsh brand of fundamentalist religiosity, so different from my own mom’s, out of the workplace. Religious tracts were scattered liberally all over his employee lunch room, and he and a favorite employee would discuss the finer points of the Bible all throughout the day, interspersed with bitter complaints about how his customers were always trying to cheat him. I wondered what home life was like with him. Then during the holidays he leveled a particularly angry outburst at his employees for choosing to spend time the weekend before Christmas with our families instead of in his shop. He’d not told us to come in to work that weekend, only in his usual passive aggressive way said that he would like it very much if we did. The next Monday morning he was shouting at everyone who walked in the door, “I WANT YOU TO KNOW THIS SHOP COMES FIRST!!!” and after storming out to get breakfast all of us (except for the favorite) walked…no, ran…out on him.

Sometime shortly after that incident, the boss’s son came back from his tour of duty and made a beeline to my little apartment in a friend’s basement, and next thing I knew we were in the sack together. Apparently he’d figured me out before I’d even figured myself out. My heart seemed like to burst with joy. I was so very lonely then, broke, no job prospects, no car, living in a friend’s basement, and here comes this guy I’d known since we were both kids, decent, well mannered, with a sharp mind you almost didn’t see behind a very big heart. Everything you would expect in the Baptist boy next door, but without the stereotypical hyper religiosity. He had two eyes that just seemed to smile at everything they saw, and a smile that melted my heart every time I saw it.

He had spent years away from the family nest, and now he was back. Bravely I thought, he came out to them. He said later that his father hadn’t exploded, mom and dad said they still loved him, and it would be okay. I had a chilly feeling then, that I knew just what ‘it’ was. Within a week his visits dropped sharply off. One day he told me offhandedly that he was probably more of a bisexual than gay, and I saw it coming. Two weeks later, after no visits at all, we happened to cross paths at a local grocery store and he told me he was getting married to a lady at the church his folks had introduced him to. I think I just nodded my head and wished him well.

Time passes…the universe expands… Seven years later I get a phone call from him…now he’s living far from the family nest, and recently divorced. Can we see each other again sometime? Well of course. And so we began another brief little hopeless fling. Sometimes you really see how the more things change, the more they stay the same. Emotional closeness, if not physical intimacy, was still excruciatingly hard for him. Are we boyfriends, I would ask. He would never answer, just change the subject. He lived far from my own home, and I was in love, so I began to make arrangements to move closer to him. At the time I was making a living as a contract software developer, and I studied the job market near where he was living. When I told him about that he seemed to panic. Once more out visits dropped sharply off. Then came a day he told me, via AOL Instant Messenger, that he was seeing somebody else.

Perhaps we were just not right for each other after all. The hard lesson to learn about love is you can find someone who is just right for you, who seems to complete you in all the places you never even knew were empty, until you met that one person, saw them smile into your eyes. And yet even so you may not be right for them. They may have a completely opposite feeling about you. Ask me how I know this. Perhaps we were not right for each other.

Or perhaps it was something he told me one night as we lay together, in a very quiet, emotionless voice. About the day he came out to his parents. About how the next morning before dawn his father had gone into the household office, fired up the computer, and created a brochure filled with verses condemning homosexuality and what God does to nations that tolerate that which is an abomination in His eyes. About how his father printed up dozens and dozens of copies of the brochure and as the sun rose, walked around their neighborhood and put one in every door of every house, for blocks around. Then he told his son what he had done.

What gay people know is this: strangers can beat you, can take your life away from you, but only family can chew your heart up, and spit it back out. And what I know is this: when you take the ability to wholeheartedly love and accept love from another away from someone, you stick the knife into that person’s heart and also into the heart of the one who might have been loved by them.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off

Do You Believe In Love?

This year instead of my usual Valentine’s Day Poster Contest I’ll just repost a few entries from the pre game countdown I put up last year.  Do you believe in love?  When I was younger I did, most definitely.  And I thought it was just a matter of letting fate cross my other half’s path with mine some day.  And perhaps that would have happened too, but for the fact that I’m a gay man, and lots of people have this religious belief that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.  Mind…it isn’t that they have a belief in god or Jesus or whatever…the religion is that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.  There are Christians who believe this, there are Jews who believe it, Muslims, Agnostics, Atheists…it doesn’t matter what the avowed faith is.  The faith they’ll spend the significant amount of energy, money, and personal moral capital on is Homosexuals Don’t Love, They Just Have Sex.

You want to light a fire in these folks, be a homosexual who believes in love.  Be a homosexual who thinks you deserve the same chance at it they do.  Then watch, as that place in your heart where a love life might have taken root and grown, is systematically, methodically torn apart…

 I was in my twenties, not at all sure of what I was going to do with my life, but at least making ends meet working as a stock clerk at the warehouse of a small catalog retailer. They had two local stores and one, oddly, in Hilton Head, but like a lot of catalog retailers did most of their business around the holidays from the annual Christmas catalog they mailed out. I’d worked there by then for a couple years. Most of summer and autumn were spent bulking up the warehouse with goods for the Christmas rush. But the two local stores had to also be kept in supply. The Hilton Head store periodically got shipments from our warehouse. The two local stores were supplied by me and the company van.

One day, one of the clerks from the Montgomery Mall store came by to pick something up. My jaw probably made a mark in the concrete floor the moment I first laid eyes on him. About my height and age, thin but not scrawny, short reddish hair and geek glasses. His friendly smile as he asked me where the warehouse manager was seemed to lift me off the ground. I pointed in the boss’s direction and thought of that smile the rest of the day. No…the rest of that week.

Periodically he would return and I would walk over to greet him and our eyes would meet and we’d share a smile. My gaydar was never wonderful but it seemed written all over him. Problem was we were never left alone so I could strike up a casual chat with him. The warehouse was getting busy for the release of the new catalog and we had a bunch of new temporary hires running around. Whenever he came to the warehouse the warehouse supervisor always seemed to get to him first, and by the time he’d finished his business I was usually busy with something else.

Plus, it was the late 1970s. You just didn’t come out to people back then without a lot of careful preparation. By that time in my life I’d already been let go from a couple places after it became apparent that Bruce is gay. One supervisor had told me to my face that there was no place for homosexuals in his business. You had to be careful. If he was gay, and I was pretty sure he was simply by the way his eyes roved cheerfully over my body whenever he came around, he also knew he had to be careful. But after sharing several long lingering smiles with him I resolved to at least get a name and hopefully…somehow…a phone number.

One day as I was dropping off stock to the Montgomery Mall store, he came to the loading dock. He’d never done that before…it was usually one of the other clerks. His shift I’d assumed, was the late afternoon to closing one and I always made my deliveries in the morning before the stores opened. But that day, there he was, and he offered to help me unload. My heart leapt for joy. We began a casual chit-chat as we took the stock out of the van and into the store’s backroom. Then the store manager came out to the van…just as we were sharing another of those long lingering smiles. The look on her face could have frozen lava. She told him there was a customer he should take care of, glared at me, and left me to finish unloading.

The next day I was fired. Allegedly because some unspecified store manager complained my hair was too long. (yes, seriously) A couple days later I worked up the nerve to go to the Montgomery Mall store and of course there she was and I was told not to come back. I later learned he was let go as well. I never got his name. Never saw him again. But I can still see that last smile he tossed at me.

I’ve no idea if anything would have come of it, but a closer walk with him would have been nice. But someone else’s Closer Walk With Thee probably took precedence. And why buy your stairway to heaven when you can make it out of someone else’s dream.

Some years later I ran into the UPS driver who ran the route that serviced our warehouse…my job had me working closely with him getting our stuff out the door to our mail order customers, so when our paths crossed again we immediately recognized each other and started chatting.  Hey…what’s up…how are things…? As casually as I could manage I asked him if by any chance he remembered the guy who had made my heart sigh, if only for one brief moment out of my life.  There was a guy…I don’t know his name, but he worked at the Montgomery Mall store…came to the warehouse every now and then…remember him…? No, says he, he didn’t make runs to the Mall. But the warehouse manager who fired me he said, had ended up getting arrested and going to jail. The owners of the company had apparently caught him with his hands in the petty cash box.

No doubt he went to jail knowing that at least a thief’s chances for paradise were better than a sodomite’s.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
February 13th, 2014

A Coming Out Story – Episode 18

acos-18-sm

A Coming Out Story – Episode 18, now posted!  Wherein our young hero learns the Truth about homosexuality.  Sort-of…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
February 12th, 2014

A Coming Out Story…[Citation Needed]?

Either tonight or tomorrow I’ll have episode 18 of A Coming Out Story posted. For those of you not following lately, I’m in the middle of a short, three-part story arc within the story that concerns the horrible sex ed class I had back in junior high school, back in 1968. This little story arc is meant to explain why I can’t seem to grasp the fact that I’m gay even while I’m crushing massively on “T.K.”

What I’m about to relate in episode 18 is what I was actually told about homosexuals and homosexuality at the end of this sex ed class.  Going over it all I’d begun to worry that people reading it would think I was hysterically exaggerating.  You were told What!?

But I needn’t have worried…

Gay Soldiers Undermine The Military Because They Have To Take Breaks In The Middle Of Combat To Change Their Diapers

You read that right. Go follow the link…it’s to an article about one of Gordon Klingenschmitt’s latest rants. I’m tempted to add him as a reference to the series, a kind of homophobia’s greatest hits appendix, for when someone tells me I’m exaggerating the level of ignorance and prejudice gay people faced around the time of Stonewall.  Actually, it’s still out there, alive and well.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
February 11th, 2014

Ah…Valentine’s Day… Let The Reminiscences Begin!

(Reposted from last year…because when it comes to love, all that is old is new again…and again…and again…and again…)

Valentine’s Day Broken Heart Countdown!

This year, I propose having a pre-game celebration.  Jim Burroway posted this today on Box Turtle Bulletin and it added some weight to my Valentine’s Day thoughts lately…

New York Times Magazine Publishes “What It Means To Be A Homosexual”: 1971. The Harper’s October 1970 cover screed by Joseph Epstein — the one where he called gay people “an affront to our rationality” and were “condemned to a state of permanent niggerdom among men” — generated an outpouring of anger in the gay community, which resulted in a protest inside the offices of Harper’s (see Oct 27). Gay activists demanded another article to give the gay community equal exposure, but the Harper’s refused the request. Its editors also refused to apologize. The outrageous insults in the piece become something of a second, lesser Stonewall in the way it brought out even more gays and lesbians who decided it was time to become more involved publicly.

Among them was Merle Miller, a former editor at Harper’s who was also a novelist and biographer…

You should go read the whole thing…Jim’s “Today In History” posts are worth reading every day.  But this one helped remind me of the times I grew up and passed through adolescence in.  That time when we are discovering first the first time, what desire and love are all about.  It should be the most magical, wonderful passage in our lives, but for some of us, condemned to a state of permanent niggerdom it was made into a nightmare.  More so for others than for me, thankfully, or I might not even be here now to type all this.  But the atmosphere of hatred and contempt I grew up within did its job on me too.  In 1971, the year before I graduated from high school, the year I experienced my first crush, Joseph Epstein wrote, “If I had the power to do so, I would wish homosexuality off the face of the earth.” He couldn’t of course, but there was always the next best thing. You could make sure whenever it was in your power to do so, that a gay person never had that chance to know what it was to love, and be loved wholeheartedly in return.

Without a doubt Epstein did just that whenever he got the chance.  His howl against the homosexual in that Harper’s article almost certainly became a dagger in the the hopes and dreams of young gay men and women back then, reassuring parents, teachers, clergy that it was no sin to put a knife in the hearts of teenagers in love, that if they were condemned to live their one life in loneliness and heartache that was merely the Curse Of Homosexuality, not their own bar stool arrogance and cheapshit prejudices that did it to them.  Bobby and Johnny are getting just a little too friendly aren’t they…let’s pack them off to the psychiatrist quickly now…or to some nice church camp somewhere far away, where they can pray their unspeakable sin away…

Ah…Valentine’s Day…when all the lonely hearts ponder writing new songs about the one that did them wrong.  I have a different thing in mind.  How about stories of that which might have been, but for the cheapshit prejudices of the world we were thrown into.  I have a few stories of my own to tell.  Pull up a chair.  Sit a spell.  Love is in the air.  Let me pour you a drink.  There is a box of Valentine’s Day candy over there on the table, pieces of the moon rattling hollowly inside…angry, angry candy…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
January 25th, 2014

Stare Fleetingly Into This Pit…

If your German is nonexistent or as poor as mine you will need Google Translate to read this Der Spiegel article but I highly recommend it, and then following the link at the end to the more in depth article on this man’s life.

A Find In Israel: hundreds of letters of SS chief Himmler

He signed with “Your Heini” or “Your Daddy”: In Israel, according to a newspaper report hundreds of letters from Heinrich Himmler have surfaced. The documents were apparently kept for a long time in a private household. The Federal Archives considers them to be genuine.

[Note: Google translation awkwardness in this post was corrected freely by me...my apologies to native German speakers if I got it wrong.]

Der Spiegel comes right out and says without Himmler there would have been no Holocaust, and their reasoning is that while yes the Nazi leadership were violent antisemites and ultimately on board with the final solution, it was Himmler who kept pushing mass murder as a policy forward at critical moments, simply by virtue of his utter remorselessness. He kept going where others hesitated, or simply never thought to go at the time. And that was simply, chillingly, because killing did not stir him emotionally one iota. He was neither attracted to it nor repulsed by it. It was simply a thing he regarded as necessary. That infamous quote of his, “It is because we can do such as this and still remain moral men, that we are great” captures him perfectly.

He was no raving vein throbbing ranter. Der Spiegel says of him:

Himmler is not a charismatic figure like the coarse and abusive Röhm, no pulpit thumper like Goering and no rousing demagogue like Goebbels. Steaming mobs, hypnotized masses – this is not the world of apparatchiks with pince-nez. He has other talents: He’s hard-nosed as Röhm, nerves stronger than morphine dependent Goering, and even more ruthless than the cunning Goebbels. This is where the evil hides behind the mask of the banal.

To the end he lived inside his own world, utterly disinterested in the human story beyond. To kill millions and then sit down to tea and cakes with your fellow Nazis as though nothing much happened, you need not to care that those people had lives, let alone thoughts and ideas of their own worth listening to. It is all just so much irrelevant static. A telling detail, according to Der Spiegel, is that after he’d concluded the war was lost he still believed he could work a deal with the allies to help keep the communists out of Europe. He bragged that after the war without him Europe would be in shambles and that he only needed one hour with Eisenhower to convince him of it too. But in the end he ducked down the same escape hatch Hitler did. I sometimes wonder if the prospect of killing himself moved him any more than the millions of others he killed, or whether in the end he simply did it because it was necessary.

I find it stunning there is not more written about this man who, in my opinion, even more than Hitler was the very heart itself of the Third Reich. That might be because the very banality of his person seems superficially to make him appear uninteresting. When you look inside the man, seeking to know what it was about him that was missing, that made everything he did possible, it stuns you to discover how little there is in there to begin with. And that leads to a very disturbing place, which may be the other reason he isn’t widely written about.

The myth that won’t die is the Nazis, and the War, and the Holocaust were possible because of an innate character flaw in the German people. It’s self serving bullshit.  The reality more likely is that there are many Himmler’s walking among us right now, right this instant. Quiet, prim, orderly men of orderly habits, and what they’re missing only is the power to act on their belief of what is necessary for the greater good.

 

Heinrich Himmler

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
January 22nd, 2014

Not Why I Am An Atheist…Reason #2. Collect The Entire Series!

I am not an Atheist because I read Ayn Rand back in the 70s.  Matter of fact, I didn’t start acknowledging to myself that I had become atheist until a few years ago. For decades I considered myself an agnostic in the manner of Spinzoa, or Frank Lloyd Wright, who once said he believed in God but he spelled it Nature.  I still love that quote.  But it was actually many years after Ronald Reagan showed me what a world where people who believed that money equals morality actually looks like and I walked away from Rand, that I realized I had become Atheist.  And I would really object if someone told me that I wasn’t an atheist if I didn’t embrace Rand’s philosophy.

Actually, I object to her opinions even being called philosophy.  What she had was a jerking knee about anything that smacked of basic human unconditional sympathy.  She was a sociopath, at one point idealizing a child murderer who grotesquely dismembered his victim’s body, wired her eyes open to make it appear that she was alive when found, and scattered pieces of her body around to taunt the police.  I remember when I first read about this and how unsurprising it was by then.  It is no coincidence that her ideas are embraced today by sociopaths, wealthy and otherwise alike.  And…new generations of useful idiots, like I was once.

Anyway…From Fred Clark

Ayn Rand claimed that her philosophy was the One True Faith for anyone who does not subscribe to religious faith. She said that what she called “Objectivism” — the “virtue of selfishness” and a vehement rejection of altruism — was the only Real, True Atheism. Anyone who claimed to be an atheist, but refused to follow her particular program, therefore, wasn’t the genuine article.

That’s malarkey, though.

And it would be dreadfully foolish for me, as a Christian, to accept this Randian assertion as the One True Definition of Atheism…

Likewise…

That would be like … like … oh, let’s say like recognizing the delusional dishonesty of everything Ken Ham has to say about science and history, but then turning around and declaring him to be correct and authoritative when it comes to biblical interpretation and hermeneutics.

Just so.  Some words are really big.  Christian and Atheist being two pretty big words.  And there are lots of other really big words. And they’re not always descriptive in the way people think they are.  Gay is a big word, especially when it’s another word for Homosexual.

I’ve had people tell me I am still an agnostic because I won’t say that I know for a fact there is no god, which is less objectionable but still…no.  I really really doubt there is a supreme being that created the universe and everything in it, but that I am always willing to acknowledge that someday I might find myself walking along Newton’s beach and pick up one of those prettier than ordinary seashells and find God inside and go Oh…there you were…, does not make me an agnostic. I just…don’t believe.  There’s a word for that.  But it’s a big one.  Like “Christian”.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
January 21st, 2014

Mercedes Love

…still in it.

mercedes_love-winter-2014

I fine powdery snow fell over Charm City this afternoon and my workplace closed at noon due to the inclement weather.  Knowing it was coming I’d walked in and walked back.  As long as the roads are bad my 60k dream-come-true diesel Mercedes that I’ve longed for since I was a teenager stays safely put. City life is good. I can walk to everything I might need, including the Institute, and I have this theory that a car makes a better parking space saver than a lawn chair.

I shoveled my backyard deck just now, and a path to the alley to put the trash out.  The stuff is so light and fluffy I could have used a broom.  I’d say we got about four to five inches in this neighborhood but it’s hard to say because the wind has been blowing the stuff around.  The side of the car facing into the wind is almost completely clear, the other side is covered fairly deep.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
January 20th, 2014

A Coming Out Story – Episode 17: What I Learned About Homosexuality (Part 1)

In which it is made clear that our young hero is growing up in the 1960s, not the year 2014…

acos-17sm

Episode 17 of A Coming Out Story is Here…or go to the main page Here.

This is part one of a three part mini story arc about the horrible sex ed class I had back in junior high, and why it badly skewed everything I thought I knew about myself and about all that sex and love stuff.  The rest of the story going forward will touch back on this repeatedly, as I begin wiggling my way out of the straightjacket of what I was taught in this one week of sex ed.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
January 19th, 2014

If Only Valentine’s Day Was About This Too…

This wonderful Allstate ad came across my Facebook stream just now…

allstate_ad

Be nice if in the midst of all the celebrations of how wonderful it is to be in love, there was also some recognition of how wonderful it would be if everyone else had a chance at it too.  And maybe…who knows…a little re-dedication to making that world where all the butterflies come from love and not fear a reality.

Just saying…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
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