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Archive for December, 2006

December 31st, 2006

Off To Rehoboth Beach…

…with some friends for New Year’s Eve celebrations there with my old friend and former GLIB sysop Jon Larimore and company.  Rehoboth used to be where my family took me on vacation back when I was a wee tyke.  But in 1962 hurricane Ester pretty much flattened it and we never went back.  So I haven’t been there in ages and they say that it’s got a really nice gay enclave there now, where gay folk from the Washington-Baltimore area go to relax and enjoy the beach.  I don’t suppose I’ll be seeing much of that in the winter time, but Jon says they’ll be a few clubs open for the New Years Eve celebrations, and in any case it’ll be worth the trip to be with some friends for New Years, and see a place I haven’t been to in ages. 

I have no idea what kind of Internet connectivity there might be there, so I may be out of touch for the next couple days.  So Happy New Year to all of you!

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)


We Poor Fools Trapped In The Reality-Based Community

Brad DeLong and Steve Benen betray their sad involvement in the Reality Based Community

The Washington Monthly: REDEFINING FAILURE…. Frances Fragos Townsend, assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, was on CNN yesterday discussing the war in Iraq, Saddam’s pending execution, and the Middle East, but CNN White House correspondent Ed Henry had the temerity to ask about the terrorist behind 9/11.

Officials from this White House are known for some bizarre comments, but Townsend’s response has to go in the Hall of Fame. (via)

HENRY: You know, going back to September 2001, the president said, dead or alive, we’re going to get him. Still don’t have him. I know you are saying there’s successes on the war on terror, and there have been. That’s a failure.

TOWNSEND: Well, I’m not sure — it’s a success that hasn’t occurred yet. I don’t know that I view that as a failure.

A "success that hasn’t occurred yet"? By that logic, practically nothing could ever be characterized as failure. Indeed, I’m not sure why the Bush gang hasn’t thought of this sooner.

"Budget deficits are just surpluses that haven’t occurred yet."

"Global warming is just global cooling that hasn’t occurred yet."

"Stagnant wages are just raises that haven’t occurred yet."

"The civil war in Iraq is just peace that hasn’t occurred yet."

It’d be amusing if it weren’t so sad.

My lottery Jackpot is a fortune that just hasn’t occurred yet.  It’s big too.  Huge.  I could pay off the national debt with it.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on We Poor Fools Trapped In The Reality-Based Community

December 30th, 2006

Onward Clueless Soliders

Via Pam’s House Blend

A renewal deal between Time Warner Cable and Viacom will include expansion of cities showing Viacom’s LOGO, a network targeting homosexual viewers. The president of an organization that monitors the influence of homosexuality in the culture, and the head of another that observes cultural trends in media, both say it is really just a natural development of what is already being done on other cable and satellite channels.

Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth says it is significant — but not surprising — that the all-homosexual channel LOGO is expanding outside of New York City, its only availability location on cable thus far.

As Pam points out, Logo has been available outside NYC for quite sometime now.  But…never mind cable.  Seriously.

Pst…  Pete…  Hey…jackass…  Anyone anywhere with a good line-of-sight to the DirectTV satellites can get Logo.  And it’s not a premium or pay-per-play channel either.  Ask me how I know.  They’re watching Queer As Folk and Round Trip Ticket right now everywhere in the bible belt Pete.  And if they’ve got Sirius satellite radio, they’re probably listening to OutQ too.  And Sirius subscribers can get OutQ in a stream feed to their PC too.  That’s how I listen to it when I’m not in the car. 

Booga!  Booga! 

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

December 29th, 2006

A Perfect…Er…Zero…

The BBC site has a really interesting little brain sex test you can take.  It ask you to answer a battery of tests on verbal and spacial ability, how well you can judge someone’s feelings by looking at just their eyes, asks you to measure your finger lengths, and so forth.  One test presents pairs of faces (you can choose between male or female) and asks you to select which face in each pair is the more attractive.  Another gives you a minute to study the objects in a drawing of many random objects, and then presents them again but with some of them moved around and gives you another minute to correctly identify which objects have changed position.

An interesting test.  So I took it…and hit the bull’s eye…

 

This is just my summary…there is a somewhat more detailed analysis after it, but I’m not sharing.  Suffice to say that while it gave me some surprises, the test also confirmed a bunch of things about the way my brain seems to work that I’d always suspected.  My finger ratios were close to the average male’s, but my verbal skills were closer to the average female’s.  My spot the difference score was lower then both male and female averages, but that might be because my short term memory is so weak and always has been.  My empathy score was actually two points above the average response of women, yet I systematize way more then the average male. Oh…and I tend to prefer a feminine face over a masculine one.  Mind you, I asked the test to test me on guys, not gals.  Everyone who knows me from way back when would have a good laugh over that one.  I’ve been asked point blank by friends (gay and straight) based on the males I find attractive, if I am really gay.  Yes…I am. 

In the next installment of A Coming Out Story, I’ll start getting into the left brain/right brain struggle that’s been pretty central to much of my life.  It’s…something of a relief to see that I haven’t been just imagining it all these years. 

Left Brain/Right Brain

 

You can take the BBC Brain Sex Test Here

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Perfect…Er…Zero…

December 28th, 2006

Too Easy

So I was watching Mambo Italiano on Logo the other night, and it was kinda good…better then most gay romantic comedies I’ve seen.  I could even identify somewhat with the main character, Angelo, though not his internalized homophobia.  He’s a geeky kinda guy, way too analytical for his own good, and too impatient with others.  He’s cute, but not dazzlingly gorgeous.  The film is full of Italian ethnic humor that doesn’t stereotype so much as remind you how human we all are beneath the cloth of culture and tradition.  There were, I’m certain, a lot of cultural in-jokes that were going right over my head most of the time, and yet I laughed.  I could see myself, and the Pennsylvanian Baptist culture I grew up inside of in the characters in that film.  Well…except for the confessional scenes…

The film hinges around what happens to the main character’s life after he comes out to his family, and in the process shoves out of the closet his boyfriend, who is a policeman.  His parents don’t take it well, his boyfriend, aghast, eventually lets himself be "cured" by a woman his own Italian mother sets him up with, and who he decides to marry.

[SPOILER ALERT] If you haven’t seen the film, I’m about to spoil the ending for you.  But I need to do that in order to make the point I want to in this post.  Sorry.  Perhaps you should consider skipping the rest of this post until after you’ve seen the flick…

Anyway…

The main character, Angelo, sees his life start to unravel around him.  His love life…his job…his relationship with his family…it all starts to come undone.  But this is not a tear jerker.  Believe it or not…it’s funny.  Not funny in a way that is contemptuous of its characters, but the opposite…funny because it has a genuine fondness for its characters and all their human eccentricities, which come roaring out under stress.  After his boyfriend breaks up with him, Angelo volunteers at a local gay community center, as a way of trying to meet someone else, even though at this point he really doesn’t want anyone else.  There he meets Peter, who is not quite as hunky and gorgeous as his ex-boyfriend, but is handsome and seems to have a sweet, decent character.  Peter tries to get Angelo to go out with him, but Angelo is still grieving for his boyfriend, who is soon to be married.

Here’s what I like about this film: you can see it setting us up for the dramatic showdown at the boyfriend’s wedding, and yet instead of getting the scene where Angelo rushes to the chapel to declare his undying love and beg his boyfriend to take him back, instead of getting the scene where the vain and beautiful boyfriend finally realizes What Really Matters In Life, and dumps the scheming selfish homophobic woman his mother set him up with to go live happily ever after with the One He Really Loves, what we get is a scene where the vain and beautiful boyfriend actually Does marry the woman his mother set him up with after all, so everyone can assume he is a 100 percent manly heterosexual kind of guy…while at the same moment, Angelo goes back to the gay community center, and accepts Peter’s offer to go out on a date with him.  It’s a wonderful ending.

And yet…

…it’s all too easy.

The filmmakers may have outraged one hoary movie house cliché, but they paid homage to another one: that beautiful people are shallow.  It’s easy to dismiss Angelo’s boyfriend as superficial, internally homophobic, selfish and cruel because…well…he Is.  And that makes it easy to see how Angelo is far better off dating, and then being loved by Peter, who is perhaps not as beautiful, but genuine.  The happy ending is possible, because we know that the boyfriend was wrong for Angelo.  In fact, it’s a pat film ending we’ve seen hundreds of times before; the plain but true heart, winning out over the vain and hollow beauty.

But…what if the beautiful boyfriend wasn’t so shallow?  What if he was as beautiful inside, as he was outside?  What if he had a kind and decent heart after all?  Well, in Mambo Italiano that simply would not have worked, because Angelo wouldn’t have had to suffer being shunned by him when they were both school kids, let alone abandoned after he came out to his family.  This story would not have worked with an honorable boyfriend.  So he had to be shallow and selfish.  Okay…fine…but then why did he have to be beautiful too?  Well…we might have wondered what it was that attracted Angelo to the boyfriend in the first place…but it could just as easily have been status.  The boyfriend could have come from a rich and influential family.  But no…he had to be beautiful.  Because only beauty, particularly in males, is a reliable external indicator of a shallow, flawed inner character.  In the Hollywood mythos, the beautiful man is almost always the most untrustworthy character in the film.  Not necessarily the most evil, but the most untrustworthy.  Ironically, he’s probably also a faggot.

It’s too easy.  Show me a story where the hero had to choose between pursuing a beautiful boyfriend who is not only beautiful, but noble, and an average Joe who thinks wanting a soul mate is the stuff of cheap paperback romance novels.  Mr. Average is not contemptuous.  He considers himself a realist.  And you see in him a potential to beauty that is utterly strangled inside of a concrete bound mentality.  But this is no tale of the ugly duckling or the frog prince.  Mr. Average knows he could be more attractive then he is, he just doesn’t want to be that.  He doesn’t care.

In other words, turn the Hollywood morality tale about how beauty is only skin deep on its head.  Our hero sees that it’s the beauty within that matters, from discovering how beautiful Mr. Average could be, if only he wasn’t so damn apathetic.

We can all be beautiful, each of us in our own way.  But more often then not we’re taught that we are not beautiful, and we come to believe it.  So we don’t take care of our bodies. We don’t buy those bright attractive clothes.  We become shy, too afraid to make the first move toward that beautiful someone we happen to chance meet.  And we project that insecurity out in front of us, everywhere we go.  And so the beautiful someone walks out of our lives forever.

But sometimes they do anyway.  The beautiful one in this story is just not in love with our main character.  And because he is noble, he isn’t cruel or cold about it.  He is patient.  He is kind.  You’re a very nice guy…and someday you’ll make someone very happy…but not me.  You are not right for me.  Not like that…  He’s a decent guy.  He doesn’t want to break our main character’s heart.  And worse, he is not only beautiful, he is absolutely right for our main character.  But our hero isn’t right for him.  That can happen.  So they just don’t connect.  That the beauty our hero sees in him turns out to be much more then just skin deep after all, only makes that rejection all the worse.  That’s how it usually is.  Ask me how I know.

Mr. Average on the other hand isn’t so much shallow, as indifferent.  He could be better then he is, but he doesn’t think it’s necessary.  And he’s right.  He’s talented, but he knows he can get by in life on idle just fine thank you.  It isn’t until late in the film that we realize that he’s actually quite beautiful on the surface.  He isn’t selfish or stupid.  Just…indifferent.  Love isn’t perfect Mr. Average quietly insists.  You have to compromise.  You have to take what you can get.  Mr. Average would make a decent enough boyfriend, but not one our hero would walk through fire for…and for that matter, vice versa.  It isn’t love, it isn’t even lust.  Mr. Average offers only an escape from loneliness.  And what is more, he thinks this should be enough for both of them.

But while the beautiful one is searching for his soul mate, that person just isn’t our hero unfortunately.  Our hero is made to realize that finding that soul mate is a very rare thing.  Maybe you get one chance at it.  A lot of people don’t even get that.  By the end of the flick he comes to believe that it probably won’t happen to him unless he gets unreasonably lucky.  I mean…win the lottery kind of lucky.  Mr. Average is offering him a kind of consolation prize.  Forget the quest for a soul mate, he says.  Be reasonable.  Accept what life offers you, and don’t yearn for what it does not.   Beauty is only skin deep after all.  The irony here is that he’s right in one sense, and yet he is most profoundly wrong in the sense that matters.

What will our hero do?  Does he settle for Mr. Average?  More then anything he doesn’t want to live a solitary lonely life.  But if he is not happy in a relationship, won’t that be just as lonely?  Does he keep on trying to find his heart’s desire, and just hope there is something better somewhere, somehow, in a world that seems to him like loneliness is the rule, not the exception.  Or does he accept what life offers, and walk away from what it probably will not?  Perhaps our hero might settle for Mr. Average…until something better comes along.  Perhaps he even proposes this to Mr. Average, and Mr. Average shrugs and agrees.  Sure…let’s both call it an affair, until something better comes along…  But would that really be a salve for loneliness?  And if he did that, and lightning struck and his soul mate did finally come along, would he still be a worthy lover?  In the end the beauty he is struggling to find and embrace one day, is his own.  But is it worth it, if the prize is an utterly solitary life?

I’d watch that movie.  But that is not the kind of film Hollywood dreams are made of.

 

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

December 26th, 2006

How Do You Spell Weasel In Nigerian?

Now that the new spiritual leader of the schisming Episcopalians is getting a little mainstream news media attention, the conservatives are having…concerns

Nigeria’s conservative Anglican archbishop has contacted for the first time the nine Episcopal churches in the state of Virginia whose members voted this month to leave and align with him.

The churchs’ new leader, Archbishop Peter Akinola, addressed in a letter some concerns about his support for a proposed law in Nigeria that would make same-sex union ceremonies illegal. The law also would ban public affection between same-sex couples and private meetings of gay advocacy groups.

Parse this…go ahead…

"We recognize that there are genuine concerns about individual human rights" in the law "that must be addressed both in the framing … and its implementation," wrote Akinola, who has called the growing acceptance of gay relationships a "satanic attack" on the church.

When news reports about dead gay people in ditches start coming out of Abuja like they are coming out of Baghdad, Akinola will recognize the genuine concerns about that too. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on How Do You Spell Weasel In Nigerian?


All You Need To Know About The Episcopalian Schism…(continued)

I didn’t post this yesterday, and I’m reluctant to post it now because I don’t want to make anyone’s post-Christmas blues any worse.  But the New York Times yesterday put up an article on the spiritual leader of the conservative Episcopalians that really says it all

The way he tells the story, the first and only time Archbishop Peter J. Akinola knowingly shook a gay person’s hand, he sprang backward the moment he realized what he had done.

Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, right, internationally known for his harsh stance against homosexuality, with bishops in Abuja, Nigeria, in 2005.

Archbishop Akinola, the conservative leader of Nigeria’s Anglican Church who has emerged at the center of a schism over homosexuality in the global Anglican Communion, re-enacted the scene from behind his desk Tuesday, shaking his head
in wonder and horror.

“This man came up to me after a service, in New York I think, and said, ‘Oh, good to see you bishop, this is my partner of many years,’ ” he recalled. “I said, ‘Oh!’ I jumped back.”

Archbishop Akinola, a man whose international reputation has largely been built on his tough stance against homosexuality, has become the spiritual head of 21 conservative churches in the United States. They opted to leave the Episcopal
Church over its decision to consecrate an openly gay bishop and allow churches to bless same-sex unions. Among the eight Virginia churches to announce they had joined the archbishop’s fold last week are The Falls Church and Truro Church,
two large, historic and wealthy parishes.

In a move attacked by some church leaders as a violation of geographical boundaries, Archbishop Akinola has created an offshoot of his Nigerian church in North America for the discontented Americans…

And they’re contented with him?  Well…yes.  Yes they are…

He supports a bill in Nigeria’s legislature that would make homosexual sex and any public expression of homosexual identity a crime punishable by five years in prison.

The bill ostensibly aims to ban gay marriage, but it includes measures so extreme that the State Department warned that they would violate basic human rights. Strictly interpreted, the bill would ban two gay people from going out
to dinner or seeing a movie together.

It could also lead to the arrest and imprisonment of members of organizations providing all manner of services, particularly those helping people with AIDS.

It’s worth remembering that this was once the situation for gay people here in America.  Never mind the sodomy laws and sex…you could literally be rounded up and herded into paddy wagons and then to jail simply for being in a bar or club that the police thought to be a homosexual gathering place.  Many states, including Virginia, had or still have laws on the books forbidding bars and restaurants from serving known homosexuals.  And despite the supreme court decision in Lawrence verses v. Texas, Virginia is Still trying to enforce in some measure, its sodomy laws.  Without a doubt, the priests and common folk of those Virginia churches that voted to schism, did so with a longing for the good old days when a good homosexual was either a dead one, or one that was in jail. 

But it gets even better.  Look at this:

One of Archbishop Akinola’s principal arguments, often heard from other conservatives as well, is that Christianity in Nigeria, a country where religious violence has killed tens of thousands in the past decade, must guard its flank lest Islam overtake it. “The church is in the midst of Islam,” he said. “Should the church in this country begin to teach that it is appropriate, that it is right to have same sex unions and all that, the church will simply die.”

Wonderful.  The reason we have to persecute homosexuals isn’t so much a biblical necessity, as a political one.  Hatred of homosexuals is popular, and if we teach peace and goodwill and not casting the first stone and loving your neighbor and all the rest of that politically incorrect crap some radical named Jesus once taught, we’ll loose ground to the Islamicists who will gladly keep on playing on the hatreds of the masses.  Someone should ask the Archbishop…no, wait, someone should ask the Virginia Episcopalians if this means they have to hate Jews as much as the Islamicists do too. 

This is the man they’ve thrown themselves at, because their church started treating the gay people among them as something other then human garbage.  This is their new Moses, delivering them to their promise land where homosexuals cannot so much as sit down together in public to eat without being arrested.  But where persecution toward one group is made righteous, none are safe.  The heathens are the people in the church across the street.  The witch is your neighbor, who also sees a witch when they look back at you.  When Jesus said we have to love our neighbor, I don’t think he was suggesting it as a feel-good exercise.  Africa has suffered one horrific wave of genocide after another in recent decades, and it wasn’t because there was too much love to go around.  It isn’t your flank you have to guard, it’s your soul.  Evil rests within us all.  The good person is the one who will not unleash it within themselves, or in others.  When they speak in Virginia of their devotion to the faith, and to Christ, laugh in their faces.

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

December 24th, 2006

Happy…Happy…
 
Joy to the world…Peace, Love, and all the rest of that liberal peacenik hippy stuff…
 
 
by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Happy…Happy…

December 20th, 2006

Throwing Stones From Within Glass Megachurches…

For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind…

The whirlwind reaches Six Flags Over Jesus

A church whose former pastor was president of the Southern Baptist Convention has been rocked by allegations of child abuse, PageOneQ has learned.

Pastor Paul Williams, who directs prayer programs and special projects at the Bellevue Baptist Church outside of Memphis, has been forced to take a leave while a church committee investigates charges that Williams sexually molested a family member 17 years ago. Williams has been at Bellevue for 34 years, reports Agape Press, a news service run by the American Family Association.

In a statement issued by the church and obtained by PageOneQ, the church’s personnel committee says that Williams has taken a paid leave of absence in the wake of "a past, but highly concerning moral failure."

Dr. Steven Gaines (pictured), pastor of the church, has been attacked for not taking action earlier. Gaines acknowledged learning of the allegations in June of this year. While explaining that he thought the issue had been resolved, Gaines said he kept the information private because "the event occurred many years ago."

Understand, that when Bellevue fires someone over allegations of sexually abusing children, it’s a safe bet it wasn’t the gay teenagers being force fed fear and loathing of their sexual nature over at John Smid’s Love In Action, which lives in part on Bellevue’s dime.  That kind of sexual abuse they’ll pay good money for.  Sexually abusing kids isn’t a sin after all, if it’s done in Jesus’ name.

The schadenfreude here is very tempting.  Watching people suffer the kind of witch hunts and sexual panic they’ve brought down on gay people for so many decades can make you believe there is a roughhewn cosmic justice after all.  But you need to pay attention not only to the fact that these are merely accusations, but their source.  I mean that.  The story is making the blog rounds of the witch hunt going on now at Ted Haggard’s former megachurch, going as far as setting up a web site where people can leave anonymous tips about New Life Church staff or its leaders…

To assist in both the process of Rev. Haggard’s restoration and the protection of the Church itself, the Overseers are open to receiving current information relevant to either Rev. Haggard’s recovery process or any concerns about New Life Church staff or its leaders. While they cannot promise confidentiality, the Overseers will handle any such information discretely.

What could possibly go wrong?  Dan Savage ruthlessly mocks it, Here.  But Jerry Maneker over at Christian LGBT Rights has it right …this is nazi-esq witch hunting, pure and simple.

They encouraged friends, family, and neighbors to report anyone who didn’t toe the party line; many parents turned in their children; children turned in their parents; neighbor turned in neighbor; friend turned in friend. This witch hunt, and despite their protestations to the contrary, it is a witch hunt, shows the demented nature of not only the leadership of this "church," but of most of the organized "Church" in its single minded obsession concerning sexual matters, even "indiscretions" not involving minors, that happened well in the past. To say that this is an embarrassment to Christians worthy of the name is an understatement! These limited human beings obsess over sexual matters; indeed, froth at the mouth at the slightest suggestion of what they term to be "sexual impropriety," yet are blind to their own witch hunting, hurting others and their families…

Without question people who sexually abuse kids should be held accountable for it.  But in the current climate of sexual panic, it’s hard not to see how a lot of bogus accusations are going to be made.  I know…I know…they throw tons of bogus accusations at gay people daily.  All the more reason to treat any accusations that come out of the megachurches now with skepticism.  When it comes to sex and fundamentalism, truth is the first casualty.

And yes, ironically now, that fact is coming back to bite them in the ass.  But this reckoning has been building for years.  How many times have we witnessed, well before Haggard went looking for a massage, other fundamentalist church leaders getting caught up in sex sting arrests.  They’re caught with female prostitutes.  They’re caught with male prostitutes.  They’re caught with their own children, or someone else’s.  It’s the so-called bible belt that has the worst statistics on divorce, spousal abuse and child abuse, and surprise surprise, teenage pregnancy.  Who’d have thought…right? 

I’m sorry if people have dug themselves into situations where they feel backed into a corner over biblical literalism verses that complicated messy reality of the flesh, but as a matter of fact, the bible saying it’s so, Doesn’t make it so.  Sex is an instinct older then the fish, let alone the mammals, let alone the primates.  For what should be staringly obvious reasons, it is a powerful urgent drive.  It can trump the survival instinct, as many a backdoor lover who ended up in the hospital after the spouse came home can attest.  You treat the human sexual response like its some kind of blackboard for scribbling bible verses on and it will simply have its way with you. 

They say without the bible, there are no moral standards.  But what kind of a moral standard is it that makes you close your eyes to the reality of your own nature, and then blames you for not taking responsibility for it when it runs out of control?

Lacking an understanding of human nature that you can build wholesome and life affirming moral values upon, there’s probably been quite a lot of sexual immorality going on in America’s fundamentalist churches.  For years they’ve been pointing their fingers for the devils within themselves at liberals, at secularism, at Hollywood, at feminists, and of course, the favorite scapegoat, the homosexuals.  And as you sow, so shall you reap.  Now they’re pointing their fingers at each other.  Anything, but look in a goddamned mirror.  Anything but listen to the guy who once said Let him who is without sin…

No, no.  The stones must keep flying…at everyone else… 

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

December 19th, 2006

There’s Knowing…And Then There’s Not Wanting You To Know Too…

There is natural ignorance and there is artificial ignorance. I should say at the present moment the artificial ignorance is about eighty-five per cent.  -Ezra Pound

Via the Log Cabin Republicans (yes…I know…) A little bit of shear brilliance from Chandler Burr:

The raging debate about gay rights ultimately turns on one simple question.  And, bizarrely, the fact that answering this question will put a definitive end to the national battle over gay rights is almost completely unknown, not only in America in general, but among gay people as well. At its core, the answer to this question is the only one that matters, the one that determines the most appropriate public policy course, and the one that will win the political struggle over gay rights: Is homosexuality a lifestyle choice or is homosexuality an inborn biological trait?  Put another way, does someone choose to be gay or are they just born that way?  You may be surprised to find out that we already know the answer to this question. In fact, surprising as it may be, we’ve known the answer for several decades.

I disagree that this is the only question that matters.  But never mind.  The brilliance I’m referring to here, isn’t in Burr’s framing of the question, but of his framing of the answer.  We’ve known the answer for several decades.  Yes.  Just so.  If the question is a pitch by the religious right, then Burr smacks it clear out of the ballpark with this…

A bit of Biology 101: For every human trait they study, clinicians and biologists assemble what’s called a "trait profile," the sum total of all the data they have gathered clinically (clinical research basically means research done through 1. questions and 2. empirical observation to answer the questions) about a trait. Researchers gather groups of subjects from different areas of the world, question them about their trait, observe the trait in them, and record the data. The various aspects of the trait are precisely described: gradations and variations in eye color are assessed, eye color’s correlation or lack thereof with gender, geography, race, or age is noted, scientists observe the way eye color is passed down through generations—all of which are clues as to whether or not eye color is a biological trait. The data are summarized in papers and charts and published in the scientific literature. That, in sum, makes up the trait profile.

Here is the profile of a trait on which clinical research has been done for decades. It is taken from the published scientific literature. The trait should be rather obvious:

1) This human trait is referred to by biologists as a "stable bimorphism"— it shows up in all human populations as two orientations— expressed behaviorally.

2) The data clinicians have gathered says that around 92% of the population has the majority orientation, 8% has the minority orientation.

3) Evidence from art history suggests the incidence of the two different orientations has been constant for five millennia.

4) The trait has no external physical, bodily signs.  That means you can’t tell a person’s orientation by looking at them. And the minority orientation appears in all races and ethnic groups.

5) Since the trait itself is internal and invisible, the only way to identify an orientation is by observing the behavior or the reflex that expresses it. However—and this is crucial—

6) –because the trait itself is not a "behavior" but an internal, invisible orientation, those with the minority orientation can hide, usually due to coercion or social pressure, by behaving as if they had the majority orientation. Several decades ago, those with the minority orientation were frequently forced to behave as if they had the majority orientation— but internally the orientation remained the same and as social pressures have lifted, people with the minority orientation have been able to openly express it.

7) Clinical observation makes it clear that neither orientation of this trait is a disease or mental illness. Neither is pathological in any observable way.

8) Neither orientation is chosen.

9) Signs of one’s orientation are detectable very early in children, often, researchers have established, by age two or three. And one’s orientation probably has been defined at the latest by age two, and quite possibly before birth.

These data indicated that the trait was biological, not social, in origin, so the clinicians systematically asked more questions. And these started revealing the genetic plans that lay underneath the trait:

10) Adoption studies show that the orientation of adopted children is unrelated to the orientation of their parents, demonstrating that the trait is not created by upbringing or society.

11) Twin studies show that pairs of identical twins, with their identical genes, have a higher-than-average chance of sharing the same orientation compared to pairs of randomly selected individuals; the average rate of this trait in any given population— it’s called the "background rate"—is just under 8%, while the twin rate is just above 12%, more than 50% higher.

12) This trait’s incidence of the minority orientation is strikingly higher in the male population— about 27% higher—than it is in the female population. Many genetic diseases, for reasons we now understand pretty well, are higher in men than women.

13) Like the trait called eye color, the familial studies conducted by scientists show that the minority orientation clearly "runs in families," handed down from parent to child.

14) This pattern shows a "maternal effect," a classic telltale of a genetic trait. The minority orientation, when it is expressed in men, appears to be passed down through the mother.

Put all this data together, and you’ve created the trait profile. The trait just described is, of course, handedness.

Yes.  What we’re all seeing with regard to human sexual orientation, is nothing new or surprising.  Burr compares the two traits, handedness and sexual orientation side-by-side and the likenesses are striking, as is the obvious conclusion.  We already know this…  I entered first grade back in 1959.  I remember vividly the sight of a classmate having his left arm tied down to his side by the teachers (two of them).  The boy’s parents had asked them to do that, if they saw the boy using his left hand to write or draw with.  The thinking being that if you just forced a kid to use their right hand, they would eventually grow out of using their left.  That was 1959.  You may notice that they’re not doing that to left handed kids anymore.  But there was a time when left-handedness was considered a mark of the devil.

It’s an image that has stuck in my mind ever since, and all the more so after I began my own process of coming to grips with my sexual orientation.  I’m gay.  You can pressure me into acting against it…teach me one lie after another about homosexuality, make me come to fear and loath my sexual nature so much I might never touch another male with desire without experiencing waves of guilt and self hatred and fear.  You can pass one law after another, penalizing and even criminalizing same sex relationships…in effect tying that part of me down.  And yet I am still gay.  The idea that you can make me not-gay by tying that part of me down is false.  You can no more make me not-gay then you can make me left handed by tying down my right arm.  That model of sexual orientation, as a learned or adaptive behavior is wrong.  It isn’t like that.  Neither was handedness.  But…we know that.

We’ve known the answer for several decades…  Burr, and many other people of good conscience, need to look at that simple fact.  I mean…really look at it.  Ironically, Burr gives it a glancing shot here:

Behavior isn’t sexual orientation, and the difference between behavior and orientation is as obvious as lying: When you tell a lie, you know perfectly well what the truth is inside…

And so do people like James Dobson, and all the others of his kind in the religious right, who routinely lie about the work of real scientists in order to incite anti-gay passions.  Because inciting anti-gay passions translates into money in the collection plate, and votes at the polls, and tens of thousands of obediant followers who jump whenever you tell them to…and more importantly, bend their knees.  You can’t distort the science the way the leaders of the religious right are, without knowing that you’re distorting it.  That’s lying.  And when you lie, you know you’re doing it.  They Know.

This is where Burr, and others, chiefly honest men and women of science and other civilized people, get it wrong.   Yes, facts matter, because ultimately you cannot fool nature.  But this isn’t a matter of convincing the opposition that they’re wrong.  They know they’re wrong, or they wouldn’t be lying.  The only question that matters isn’t whether sexual orientation is chosen or not, it’s whether the people who still insist that it is, have a conscience or not.  Because if they don’t have one, then appealing to it is utterly futile.

But…you should go read the rest of Burr’s piece.  For the shear pleasure of watching him smack the ball out of the park.  For the next time next time someone like Dobson goes babbling on about homosexuality and choice, so you can see with sickening clarity what a moral runt they are.  We don’t force right handedness on left handed kids because we know how damaging that is to them.  It’s damaging to gay kids too.  Profoundly so.  And yes…the religious right knows that too.  They’ve known for several decades.

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)


Loving The Sinner…(continued)

Gay Couple Beaten In Scottsdale, Arizona Hate Attack

A gay couple holding hands as they left a Scottsdale restaurant were attacked by as many as seven men leaving the pair badly beaten.

Andrew Frost and Jean Rolland say the attack took place just feet from the restaurant’s front doors.  

Frost, 19, needed numerous stitches to close wounds on his head and face. Rolland, 28, suffered many bumps and bruises.

"I had blood pouring out of me and I actually blacked out at one point," Frost told the Arizona Republic.

He said that as he and Rolland exited the restaurant he heard someone yell "fag". He said he turned and saw two men. Frost said that he replied to the slur and one of the men punched him. He said that at least five others rushed from the restaurant and joined the attack.

Frost and Rolland have filed a police report, but no one at the restaurant seems to have seen anything. The couple said they had never seen their attackers before.

Worcester rally takes ugly turn

Tempers boiled over at an anti-gay marriage rally yesterday when the executive director of the Boston-based Catholic Citizenship emerged from behind a lectern outside City Hall, rushed toward a female counter-demonstrator, and pushed her to the ground.

Sarah Loy, 27, of Worcester was holding a sign in defense of same-sex marriage amid a sea of green “Let the People Vote” signs when Larry Cirignano of Canton, who heads the Catholic Citizenship group, ran into the crowd, grabbed her by both shoulders and told her, “You need to get out. You need to get out of here right now.” Mr. Cirignano then pushed her to the ground, her head slamming against the concrete sidewalk.

"It was definitely assault and battery,” said Ronal C. Madnick, director of the Worcester County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. Police interviewed Mr. Madnick and several others moments after the incident.

As Ms. Loy lay motionless on the ground, crying, Mr. Cirignano ran back behind the lectern, where moments before he had opened the afternoon rally by leading a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Emphasising the words "under God" and Leaving out "indivisible", no doubt…

FBI Enters Probe Of Attacks On Lesbians

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been asked to help with the investigation into two attacks on women Ada Oklahoma where homophobic epithets were marked on their bodies.

But apart from helping develop a profile of suspects in the case there is little the FBI can do.  Gays and lesbians are not protected under federal hate crime legislation.

Sara Kaspereit, 20, said she was grabbed by two men as she got out of her car in front of her home on Monday.  One of the men carved the word lesbian into her forearm.

Earlier this month a second woman said she was blindfolded, bound to a tree and the word "Hellbound” was written in marker pen across her chest.

In previous homophobic attacks where the FBI has been asked for assistance there is little the bureau could do.

Last July the FBI was called for help in investigating an incident involving a burning cross in front of the home of a gay man in Athens, Tennessee.  After determining the incident was homophobic rather than race related the bureau declined to help. (story)

Federal investigators examined evidence but said that even if the people responsible are caught they cannot be prosecuted under federal law. (story)

Legislation that would have included crimes against gays and lesbians in federal hate crime laws was dropped in the Senate in May. (story)

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

December 17th, 2006

Beautiful World…(continued)

Two more, from the same series…

 

Sky Castles – Big Bend Utah

 

Wall Of The Epochs – Arches National Park

 

That last one was probably taken with the 50mm f4 Distagon.  On a 6×6 format camera (that’s 120 roll film) a 50 is actually a very wide angle lens.  For a sense of scale, see the small group of people walking the trail in the lower right hand corner.  I used no filters, nor any Photoshop tweaking, other then kicking down the resolution for posting to the web.  The sky really is that blue out there.

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Beautiful World…(continued)


Beautiful World

A little beauty to start your week…courtesy my new film scanner (a Christmas present to myself…I’m allowed)

Colorado River, Near Big Bend Utah

This was taken during my swing through the southwest in 2004, with the Hasselblad I was able, finally, to afford.  Thanks to the general migration to digital, film cameras and lenses I once thought I’d never be able to own are now showing up on the used market, and in excellent condition.  This was taken with a 501c, and the 80mm f2.8 Planar lens it came with, on Fuji Velvia, which rivals the old Kodachrome in detail and color saturation.  The combination of the Hasselblad with its magnificent lenses and Velvia is simply stunning.  When I got my first rolls back it simply took my breath away.  I had to bump down the image resolution here quite a bit or the page would never finish loading, the scanned image size on a 6×6 color slide at the scanner’s full resolution is running about half a gig.  But even so you can see the richness and delicacy of the image.

This is such a beautiful world…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Beautiful World


Redmond’s Golden Chains

Gosh all those Microsoft products all work so damn well together don’t they?  And as a software developer I can say for a fact that Microsoft development tools are not only among the very best there are, but are amazingly well integrated with their business suite of applications, including Office and SQL Server and IIS.   It’s all just one big happy smooth seamless whole.

Of course those tools only work on Microsoft platforms, and you can only take full advantage of them if you confine your applications to Microsoft platforms, but if you agree to wear Redmond’s golden chains, it is almost embarrassingly simple and straightforward for a software developer to build some very impressive custom business applications.  You can be fantastically productive while wearing Redmond’s golden chains.

But the thing to remember about Redmond’s golden chains, isn’t that they’re golden…

Microsoft Turns Up The Heat On Windows 2000 Users

With the recent release of Microsoft’s newest potential cash cows, Windows Vista and Office 2007, the company is expecting a wave of upgrades from users seeking the latest functionality. But what if you’re not looking for new bells and whistles? What if you want to keep your old operating systems, such as Windows 2000, running as long as possible?

Microsoft isn’t making it easy for you. Office 2007 and the software for the company’s much-hyped Zune music player won’t install on Windows 2000. As other new products emerge from Microsoft in 2007 and beyond, more and more of them are likely to leave Windows 2000 out of the party.

Which of these installation restrictions are caused by a real lack of capabilities in Windows 2000, however? Are any of them merely a "squeeze play" by Microsoft to convince buyers that it’s necessary to immediately upgrade all PCs to Vista and all servers to Server 2003 or the forthcoming Longhorn Server?

One example of this conundrum is Microsoft’s Windows Defender program. This antispyware program can be downloaded for free, but it will only install on Windows XP, Server 2003, and higher. The application won’t install on Windows 2000, according to Microsoft’s own product documentation.

Users have reported, however, that this is simply an artificial rule built into the Installshield package that copies Defender files to disk.

Surprise, surprise.  The article goes on to discuss the upcoming legislative changes in how daylight savings time is calculated.  Operating systems will need to be patched accordingly, and Microsoft already has a patch out there for XP and Vista.  But not…surprise, surprise, Windows 2000.  And their position is, they aren’t going to either.  Computer not keeping time correctly?  Oh…you need our 300 dollar software upgrade, and a two-thousand dollar hardware upgrade, to run the software upgrade…

It’s good to be king.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Redmond’s Golden Chains


All You Need To Know About The Episcopalian Schism

Via the New York Times…

Episcopalians Are Reaching Point of Revolt

As many as eight conservative Episcopal churches in Virginia are expected to announce today that their parishioners have voted to cut their ties with the Episcopal Church. Two are large, historic congregations that minister to the Washington elite and occupy real estate worth a combined $27 million, which could result in a legal battle over who keeps the property.

In a twist, these wealthy American congregations are essentially putting themselves up for adoption by Anglican archbishops in poorer dioceses in Africa, Asia and Latin America who share conservative theological views about homosexuality and the interpretation of Scripture with the breakaway Americans.

“The Episcopalian ship is in trouble,” said the Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, one of the two large Virginia congregations, where George Washington served on the vestry. “So we’re climbing over the rails down to various little lifeboats. There’s a lifeboat from Bolivia, one from Rwanda, another from Nigeria. Their desire is to help us build a new ship in North America, and design it and get it sailing.”

Together, these Americans and their overseas allies say they intend to form a new American branch that would rival or even supplant the Episcopal Church in the worldwide Anglican Communion, a confederation of national churches that trace their roots to the Church of England and the archbishop of Canterbury.

… 

In Virginia, the two large churches are voting on whether they want to report to the powerful archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, an outspoken opponent of homosexuality who supports legislation in his country that would make it illegal for gay men and lesbians to form organizations, read gay literature or eat together in a restaurant.

[emphasis mine…]  So this is where they’re headed; into the arms to a man who has methodically goaded his country into a pogrom against gays.  But where else would a schism be likely to end up, that was funded largely by right wing American billionaires like Richard Ahmanson, a Christian Reconstructionist, who has previously endorsed the ritual stoning to death of homosexuals, though he says he now no longer considers it essential

"I think what upsets people is that Rushdoony [the founder of the Christian Reconstructionist movement] seemed to think – and I’m not sure about this – that a godly society would stone people for the same thing that people in ancient Israel were stoned," he said. "I no longer consider that essential.

"It would still be a little hard to say that if one stumbled on a country that was doing that, that it is inherently immoral, to stone people for these things," Ahmanson said. "But I don’t think it’s at all a necessity."

Well…there’s stumbling on such a country, and then there’s bankrolling one yourself.  The conservatives can make all the excuses they want for their decision to schism, but the staringly obvious fact is that they are ripping their church apart for nothing more righteous and noble then a bottomless hatred of homosexual people.  Nobody is forcing them into the arms of the man who wants to cleanse Nigeria of homosexuals, anymore then anyone was forcing them to take money from a man who still finds it "a little hard to say" that stoning them to death is immoral.  They’re going willingly.  Joyfully.  A ‘lifeboat’ Yates called it, who preaches to his faithful in a state that used to enforce a law forbidding bars and restaurants from serving known homosexuals, and which only last month passed a constitutional amendment that strips same sex couples of all legal rights.  But it isn’t enough that the state hates gay people as much as they do.  God has to hate them that much too.

When they tell you it’s not about hate, laugh in their faces and point to their new Moses and his promise land, where homosexuals cannot even sit down together in public without facing arrest.  Then point to their blood money.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on All You Need To Know About The Episcopalian Schism

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