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Archive for August, 2008

August 29th, 2008

Oh For Heaven’s Sake…Hey Dave…Go Get Me That Boilerplate Apology Form Willya…

NBC, suffering a torrent of bad publicity for closeting gold medalist Matthew Mitcham during its broadcast of the Olympic men’s diving events, has now issued an apology…

"We regret that we missed the opportunity to tell Matthew Mitcham’s story. We apologize for this unintentional omission.”

Well that certainly satisfies me…

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

August 28th, 2008

So…Why Was Bail Set So Damn Low…?

Practically the minute Bush stole the 2000 election, our national news media have happily reduced themselves to stenographers, jotting down whatever comes out of the white house PR office.  They cheerfully swallowed all the lies that led to the Iraq war, looked the other way as his henchmen blew the cover of a CIA agent for political revenge, and ignored one republican corruption scandal after another.  The slow steady relentless erosion of our civil liberties is something the TV talking heads just can’t be bothered to pay attention too.  Here’s what’s going on during the Democratic convention, via a Dave Barry column that’s both funny and sad all at once…

7:48 – Through intense effort I manage to surge maybe eight feet, where the path is blocked by a TV network that has set up a platform on the floor so its reporters can report on the convention by talking to each other with their backs to the actual convention. There is huge excitement in the surge as people catch glimpses of both Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer, who are, in this environment, the Beatles. The surgers all stop, whip out cell phones and take pictures of the backs of the heads of people who are taking pictures of the backs of the heads of people who might actually be getting direct visual shots of Anderson and Wolf. It is a lifetime convention memory.

So…reporting from the middle of the democratic convention, in the last days of one of the most destructive presidencies ever…a president who has all but publicity torn up and crapped on the bill of rights, the Geneva Convention, and Habeas Corpus among other things….most of the TV news media chatter is about…themselves.  Its like the process of electing a president is all about them.  Its like nothing Bush has done over the past eight years to destroy our constitution matters a whit to them.

So the following cheered me up…somewhat.  Of course they’ll never do this sort of thing during the republican convention…

ABC Reporter Arrested in Denver Taking Pictures of Senators, Big Donors

Police in Denver arrested an ABC News producer today as he and a camera crew were attempting to take pictures on a public sidewalk of Democratic senators and VIP donors leaving a private meeting at the Brown Palace Hotel. 

Police on the scene refused to tell ABC lawyers the charges against the producer, Asa Eslocker, who works with the ABC News investigative unit. 

A cigar-smoking Denver police sergeant, accompanied by a team of five other officers, first put his hands on Eslocker’s neck, then twisted the producer’s arm behind him to put on handcuffs.

A police official later told lawyers for ABC News that Eslocker is being charged with trespass, interference, and failure to follow a lawful order. He also said the arrest followed a signed complaint from the Brown Palace Hotel.

Eslocker was put in handcuffs and loaded in the back of a police van which headed for a nearby police station.

Video taken at the scene shows a man, wearing the uniform of a Boulder County sheriff, ordering Eslocker off the sidewalk in front of the hotel, to the side of the entrance.

The sheriff’s officer is seen telling Eslocker the sidewalk is owned by the hotel. Later, he is seen pushing Eslocker off the sidewalk into oncoming traffic, forcing him to the other side of the street.


It was two hours later when Denver police arrived to place Eslocker under arrest, apparently based on a complaint from the Brown Palace Hotel, a central location for Democratic officials.

During the arrest, one of the officers can be heard saying to Eslocker, "You’re lucky I didn’t knock the f..k out of you."

Eslocker was released late today after posting $500 bond.

Schedenfraude.  It’s like German chocolate cake for the soul… 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on So…Why Was Bail Set So Damn Low…?

August 27th, 2008

I Really Need To Read Some Gibson…

"A Brabus Maybach," he said, as she turned her head in time to see him give the wheel a little pat. "The firm of Brabus extensively tweaks the product of Maybach, to produce one of these."
-From chapter 17 of Spook Country by William Gibson

I must go buy this book…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I Really Need To Read Some Gibson…

August 26th, 2008

William Randolph Hissyfit

Via the New York Post…  Hey!  Everyone!!  Look At ME!!!  I’m A MEDIA KING!!!!

Paul Colichman, the William Randolph Hearst of the gay media, is not supporting Barack Obama for president. But that doesn’t mean he’s backing John McCain.

"I’m a die-hard Democrat," he tells Page Six. But Colichman was also a die-hard Hillary Clinton supporter. He and Harry Thomason produced a documentary, "The Hunting of the President: The 10-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton."

Colichman, 46, who owns The Advocate and Out magazines,, and Here, the premium cable network for gays, said he finally dealt with his disappointment over Clinton’s defeat last week and came around to Obama.

"I thought, ‘Get over yourself!’ I had literally written out a check to the Obama campaign. And then I saw him in front of an evangelical group in Anaheim," he said.

Before Rick Warren at the Saddleback Civil Forum, both Obama and McCain defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

"I thought, ‘Wow! He just threw the gay community under the bus,’ " Colichman said. "My partner looked over at me, and we tore up the check."

Hillary Clinton on same sex marriage (Pew Forum):

Gay Marriage
Clinton opposes same-sex marriage but favors civil unions in which gay couples receive full recognition and benefits. She says that "marriage has always been province of the states" and advocates repeal of a provision in the Defense of Marriage Act that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage. In the U.S. Senate, she opposed amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage. While she has solicited and received the support of gay and lesbian groups, many gay activists were alarmed over her March 2007 comment that the morality of homosexuality was up "to others to conclude." She later released a statement saying that she does not believe homosexuality is immoral. In an April 2008 interview, Clinton said she would change federal tax policies and immigration laws to eliminate disparities affecting same-sex couples.

Barack Obama on same sex marriage (Pew Forum):

Gay Marriage
Obama says that he personally believes that "marriage is between a man and a woman" but also says that "equality is a moral imperative" for gay and lesbian Americans. He advocates the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) because "federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does." He supports granting civil unions for gay couples, and in 2006 he opposed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. In March 2007, Obama initially avoided answering questions about a controversial statement by a U.S. general that "homosexual acts" are "immoral," but Obama later told CNN’s Larry King, "I don’t think that homosexuals are immoral any more than I think heterosexuals are immoral."

They both oppose same sex marriage.  They both favor civil unions.  They both favor repeal of DOMA.  They both opposed the federal marriage amendment.  Well that sure puts Hillary way ahead of Obama on the same sex marriage issue doesn’t it?

And…so sitting down with Rick Warren is more offensive then…say…sitting down with Richard Mellon Scaife is it…?


I know…I know…  You’re both MEDIA KINGS!  And…bitter…


by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on William Randolph Hissyfit

It’s Not The Hill That You Need To Worry About Dying On…

It must be an election year…the Log Cabin Republicans are cheerfully telling everyone they can what a bunch of happy quislings they are.  An AP news story on the upcoming republican party platform (which I’m not going to link to), says the platform will contain the usual call for a constitutional ban on same sex marriage.   Log Cabin spokesdroid Scott Tucker says he’s fine with that…

"This isn’t a hill we’re going to die on," said Scott Tucker, a spokesman for the gay rights group Log Cabin Republicans.

Log Cabin is a gay rights group like a white sheet flapping in the wind is an American flag.  But let it be said they’re working on building common ground between gay and straight within the republican party…

"Unlike previous years," said Gary Bauer, a social-conservative veteran of platform struggles, "I just don’t see deep divisions within the party."

See how easy it is for people of differing views on gay rights to get along in the republican party?  Really…all it takes is a little abject submission. 

I realize that you can’t pigeon hole gay people on the issues.  Gay folk range the entire political spectrum from left to right.  I grok this.  But if a conservative gay group will not take a simple basic principled stand for marriage then what the fuck good is it?  Oh yes…I hear them yap, yap, yapping all the time that their sexuality isn’t all there is to their lives and they have other issues too.  Fine.  Marriage, as it happens, is about more then sexuality too. 

I don’t ever want to see these pathetic quislings tut, tutting the sexual excesses of "gay culture" again, if they’re not willing to raise so much as a squeak in protest over a plank that calls for a constitutional ban on same sex marriage.  Better to die on the hill, then in the gutter.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on It’s Not The Hill That You Need To Worry About Dying On…

Why Beltway Democrats Don’t Fight

This from Glenn Greenwald, who is on fire here.  Maybe you are aware, if not utterly disgusted, at how abjectly the democrats capitulated on telcom immunity for illegally spying on American citizens.  Maybe you’re aware of how the immunity bill not only gave the telcoms immunity for illegally spying on us, but made it even easier for Bush to keep spying on us without having to bother with all that getting a warrent and other forth amendment do-wah.  Maybe you’re wondering how democrats can be such absolute wusses when it comes to fighting Bush’s abuses of power.  Maybe your wondering why democrats don’t really seem to care much about protecting and preserving our precious democracy.  Maybe this will enlighten you…

Last night in Denver, at the Mile High Station — next to Invesco Stadium, where Barack Obama will address a crowd of 30,000 people on Thursday night — AT&T threw a lavish, private party for Blue Dog House Democrats, virtually all of whom blindly support whatever legislation the telecom industry demands and who also, specifically, led the way this July in immunizing AT&T and other telecoms from the consequences for their illegal participation in the Bush administration’s warrantless spying program. Matt Stoller has one of the listings for the party here.

Armed with full-scale Convention press credentials issued by the DNC, I went — along with Firedoglake’s Jane Hamsher, John Amato, Stoller and others — in order to cover the event, interview the attendees, and videotape the festivities. There was a wall of private security deployed around the building, and after asking where the press entrance was, we were told by the security officials, after they consulted with event organizers, that the press was barred from the event, and that only those with invitations could enter — notwithstanding the fact that what was taking place in side was a meeting between one of the nation’s largest corporations and the numerous members of the most influential elected faction in Congress. As a result, we stood in front of the entrance and began videotaping and trying to interview the parade of Blue Dog Representatives, AT&T executives, assorted lobbyists and delegates who pulled up in rented limousines, chauffeured cars, and SUVs in order to find out who was attending and why AT&T would be throwing such a lavish party for the Blue Dog members of Congress.

Amazingly, not a single one of the 25-30 people we tried to interview would speak to us about who they were, how they got invited, what the party’s purpose was, why they were attending, etc. One attendee said he was with an "energy company," and the other confessed she was affiliated with a "trade association," but that was the full extent of their willingness to describe themselves or this event. It was as though they knew they’re part of a filthy and deeply corrupt process and were ashamed of — or at least eager to conceal — their involvement in it. After just a few minutes, the private security teams demanded that we leave, and when we refused and continued to stand in front trying to interview the reticent attendees, the Denver Police forced us to move further and further away until finally we were unable to approach any more of the arriving guests.

It was really the perfect symbol for how the Beltway political system functions — those who dictate the nation’s laws (the largest corporations and their lobbyists) cavorting in total secrecy with those who are elected to write those laws (members of Congress), while completely prohibiting the public from having any access to and knowledge of — let alone involvement in — what they are doing. And all of this was arranged by the corporation — AT&T — that is paying for a substantial part of the Democratic National Convention with millions upon millions of dollars, which just received an extraordinary gift of retroactive amnesty from the Congress controlled by that party, whose logo is splattered throughout the city wherever the DNC logo appears — virtually attached to it — all taking place next to the stadium where the Democratic presidential nominee, claiming he will cleanse the Beltway of corporate and lobbying influences, will accept the nomination on Thursday night.

Sometimes I wonder if things really are getting more corrupt these days, or if we’re just seeing more of the corruption because of the grassroots media that has emerged during the Bush years.  In any case, the above isn’t to my mind so much an argument against voting for democrats too, as for paying more attention to local elections, because congress is an aggregate of many local elections.  I strongly doubt that the voters in the districts represented by the Blue Dogs approve of having their phones tapped, let alone giving the tappers a free pass in exchange for millions of dollars to run a convention. 

We need to break the republcan grip on power in Washington, so they can’t do any more damage then they’ve already done to the courts, to the economy, to civil liberties at home and America’s moral stature abroad.  But we also need a grassroots effort to get more people elected who want to serve the people, not the corporations.  Because the corporations don’t give a good goddamn about democracy, let alone about America.  All they see is their bottom line.  We need better democrats.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Why Beltway Democrats Don’t Fight

August 25th, 2008

The Gay Basher’s Friends

You may have heard that an Australian named Matthew Mitcham won the gold in the 10 meter diving event.  You may have heard that in doing so, he broke the Chinese sweep of the diving events.  You may have heard that a string of disappointments some years ago caused him to drop out of the sport briefly and that his comeback this year was the end result of a lot of very hard and determined work.  What you might not have heard, if your only exposure to the China Olympics was our mainstream news media, is that Mitcham is openly gay…

NBC Censors Sexual Orientation Of Openly Gay Gold Medalist Diver

According to, of the 10,708 athletes at the Olympics this year, just 10 have identified themselves publicly as being gay. Of the 10, Australian diver Matthew Mitcham is the only male gay athlete.

Yesterday, Mitcham won the gold in the in the 10m platform diving event, scoring an upset over the Chinese team, which was heavily favored to win. But as Maggie Hendricks at Yahoo’s Olympics blog notes, NBC never mentioned Mitcham’s orientation:

NBC did not mention Mitcham’s orientation, nor did they show his family and partner who were in the stands. NBC has made athletes’ significant others a part of the coverage in the past, choosing to spotlight track athlete Sanya Richards’ fiancee, a love triangle between French and Italian swimmers and Kerri Walsh’s wedding ring debacle.

As Atrios said the other day: love triangle okay…gay, not so much.

There are two parts to the culture of violence toward gay people.  The first is the relentless demonization of gay people.  By churches, by religious leaders, by politicians and their parties, by bigots with a platform.  The public is told we are a threat to children, to families, to society, to the very existence of the human race.  We are portrayed as sexual predators, disease spreading sociopaths, self-centered narcissistic parasites on society.  We are said to be shallow, vain, self-centered and interested only in self gratification on the one hand, and self-hating, self-destructive and miserable on the other.  When we are not dangerous sociopaths we are contemptible faggots.  The other part is the silencing of gay voices.  Where we are not allowed to tell our own stories, in our own voices, where social invisibility is imposed upon us, as though we are a dirty secret best kept away from view, the only voices that are heard, are the voices of those who hate us.  The hatemongers go unanswered, and this is what happens…




Oh…and this…

I now feel very fortunate that I was able to spend some private time with Matt last summer during my vacation from Saudi Arabia. We sat and talked. I told Matt that he was my hero and that he was the toughest man that I had ever known. When I said that, I bowed down to him out of respect for his ability to continue to smile and keep a positive attitude during all the trials and tribulations that he had gone through. He just laughed. I also told him how proud I was because of what he had accomplished and what he was trying to accomplish. The last thing I said to Matt was that I loved him, and he said he loved me. That was the last private conversation that I ever had with him.

Impact on my life? My life will never be the same. I miss Matt terribly. I think about him all the time—at odd moments when some little thing reminds me of him; when I walk by the refrigerator and see the pictures of him and his brother that we’ve always kept on the door; at special times of the year, like the first day of classes at UW or opening day of sage chicken hunting. I keep wondering almost the same thing that I did when I first saw him in the hospital. What would we have become? How would he have changed his piece of the world to make it better?

Impact on my life? I feel a tremendous sense of guilt. Why wasn’t I there when he needed me most? Why didn’t I spend more time with him? Why didn’t I try to find another type of profession so that I could have been available to spend more time with him as he grew up? What could I have done to be a better father and friend? How do I get an answer to those questions now? The only one who can answer them is Matt. These questions will be with me for the rest of my life. What makes it worse for me is knowing that his mother and brother will have similar unanswered questions.

Impact on my life? In addition to losing my son, I lost my father on November 4, 1998. The stress of the entire affair was too much for him. Dad watched Matt grow up. He taught him how to hunt, fish, camp, ride horses, and love the state of Wyoming. Matt, Logan, dad, and I would spend two to three weeks camping in the mountains at different times of the year—to hunt, to fish, and to goof off. Matt learned to cook over an open fire, tell fishing stories about the one that got away, and to drive a truck from my father. Three weeks before Matt went to the Fireside Bar for the last time, my parents saw Matt in Laramie. In addition, my father tried calling Matt the night that he was beaten but received no answer. He never got over the guilt of not trying earlier. The additional strain of the hospital vigil, being in the hospital room with Matt when he died, the funeral services with all the media attention and the protesters, [and] helping Judy and me clean out Matt’s apartment in Laramie a few days later was too much. Three weeks after Matt’s death, dad died. Dad told me after the funeral that he never expected to outlive Matt. The stress and the grief were just too much for him. Impact on my life? How can my life ever be the same again?

Excerpt of Dennis Shepard’s Statements to the Court
November 4, 1999


There are two parts to the culture of violence toward gay people…and to all minorities.  The first is hate.  The second is that silencing of the voices of the hated, which allows hate to go unchallenged and unquestioned.  Last week a young Australian diver, after a difficult struggle to come back from burnout and defeat, won a gold medal for the 10 meter dive, beating out the best of the Chinese diving team.  You were allowed to know that.  He is openly gay, and his parents and his lover were there to support him in his quest for the gold.  He said his boyfriend was part of the support network that made his dream possible.  You weren’t allowed to know that.  Because then you might start wondering about all those things you were taught about homosexuals. 

And then you might start wondering why the news media doesn’t give a damn.





by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

August 24th, 2008

Beauty Isn’t Just Skin Deep

Next October will mark my first year with Traveler, my Mercedes-Benz C300.  And I’m here to tell you that driving down the road and seeing that cute little three pointed star standing up at the front of my hood is Still magic…

I went to my local camera store (there’s a really good one all too conveniently located just a few blocks down Falls Road from where I live) yesterday morning to buy some ink cartridges for my art room printer.  I really need to get going on those wedding photos I took for a relative last month.  I was driving Traveler because I also intended to go to the hardware stores out in Cockeysville to get some stuff for the yard work I intended to do this weekend.  When I got to the camera store I parked on the street, in front of what looked to my eye, bizarrely, like a Mercedes-Benz pickup truck. 


I figured it had to be some guy’s old Mercedes sedan that had been converted into a pickup truck, because while Daimler is one of the world’s biggest truck manufacturers, as far as I know they don’t make small bed pickup trucks.  So this thing I was seeing in my rearview mirror had to be a conversion of some sort…



…Well…no.  It’s a Toyota Tacoma.  It’s owner stuck a Mercedes grill onto it.  If you look closely can see the bolts holding it over the Tacoma’s own grill.  It fools you though, because of the shape of the Tacoma’s hood.   If he’d put a little more work into it, it could be very convincing. 

But he’s not an enthusiast. (and I know its owner is a he because I saw him come out of the store shortly after I took these…)  He’s just being cute.  If he could afford that Tacoma he could afford a decent second hand Mercedes from around the timeframe that grill comes from.  And if he’s willing to flutz around with the truck to make it appear to be a Mercedes he could put some effort into working on an older one and getting it running.  He just wants the look.

I didn’t buy mine for its a status symbol value.  I don’t care about that.  I bought it because the way they’re designed and built just takes my breath away, and has ever since I was a teenager.  And now that I actually own one, I really regret not buying a used one when I could have afforded it.  It might have been more work to maintain, since Mercedes owners typically don’t get off of their cars until they’ve racked up tons of mileage.  But it would have been worth it because then I’d have had one to enjoy for more of my life then I have.

There are flashier cars.  I was browsing a car enthusiast blog the other day, reading a thread asking which cars had the best interiors.  Of course, there were plenty of photos of Bentleys and Rolls Royces in that thread.  But I was astonished to see how many people in there actually liked the look of the Cadillacs.   Huh??  There were tons of Cadillac photos in that thread.  One person posted a shot of the inside of a Maybach.  There were several Audi interiors posted.  A couple Maseratti.  The Maseratti were really nice looking.  I didn’t see anyone posting any Mercedes shots.  One idiot claimed the Maybach was just a glorified ‘S’ class.  Well it isn’t, but if I had the kind of money that buys a Bentley, I’d buy a Barabus tuned ‘S’ class instead

Yes…in my dreams…I know…  But that’s where my head is at with cars.  Style takes second place to engineering and craftsmanship.  At least British luxury car sumptuousness has real artisanship behind it.  The leather is all hand sewn in a Bentley.  It takes one skilled craftsman an entire day to do the leather work on just the steering wheel.  That’s what your money is buying.  Seeing people drooling over a Cadillac interior in the same breath seems grotesque.  If we actually put that much effort into the substance of our cars here in the U.S. I wouldn’t mind.  But we don’t.  That Toyota with the Mercedes grill tacked over its own isn’t all that much different from certain U.S. car models that essentially did the same thing back in the 1970s and 80s…


1975 Mercedes-Benz 240D


1979 Ford Granada


They even gave it a cute little hood ornament.  Of course, the Granada wasn’t as expensive as the Mercedes.  But even for the money you paid it wasn’t as well made as it could have been.  The irony here is that, particularly back in the 1970s, Mercedes styling was considered somewhat stogy…a bit boxy and drab.  But by then even your average Ford buyer knew they were solid as bricks.  What Ford was trying to there was copy that boxy stogy Mercedes styling a bit…but not too much…as a way of making its buyers think they were getting the engineering of a Mercedes too. 

An analogy I like to use is…think of a nice, simple Ikea desk.  Simple…basic…functional…not brazenly stylish, but beautiful in its own straightforward way.  Now think of that very same desk…but made out of solid mahogany, with mortise-and-tenon joints, and drawers on rails so perfectly fitted and balanced you can open and close them with your little finger and they don’t make a sound when you do.  That’s what it feels like driving Traveler.  That’s why driving it is still magic.  I didn’t buy it to impress anyone.  I love to drive.  I love exploring the highways.  Now I have a car that seems to love it as much as I do.  For all its creature comforts Traveler is a rock solid piece of engineering.  I have Never owned a car that was as able…and…eager…on the road as this one. 

Just yesterday I took a drive to York Pennsylvania and wandered around for a bit with one of my cameras and some black and white film.  I’m headed out the door now to go somewhere with that camera again.  The price of gasoline has been keeping me from behind the driver’s wheel for too damn long and the weather this weekend is great for photography so I’m out the door.  Household chores can wait.  And that little three pointed star on my hood leading the way down the road is as magic as the next horizon.


by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

August 23rd, 2008

Don’t Tell Me There Are More Then One Of Those Things…

Via Fark.Com, via Wired.Com…  This is actually kinda creepy…



The skull of a…thing…that seems to be all mouth and teeth.  The  description is as follows…

The fleshless skull of a blind eating machine, its huge gnashing maw a surreal irony, for it has no stomach. It feeds voraciously… not out of hunger, but out of murderous instinct. Luckily, you can easily escape it, since it has no legs…

But it can roll.  If it really gets itself going you could be absolutely fucked.  Picture this thing rolling down a hill toward you, teeth flashing in the sunlight with each turn…

…this is the avatar of Death himself, also known as…

…Pac Man.  I used to love playing that game.  Now I’m going to get the creeps every time I see one of those things in an arcade…


by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Don’t Tell Me There Are More Then One Of Those Things…

August 22nd, 2008

Summer’s End…Already…?

It happened last Tuesday.  That morning the swallows in the Institute parking garage were there, busy with their normal morning routine.  As I walked past I saw them busily darting in and out of that concrete structure like little arrows…fussing and chattering…wheeling and diving in the air above the Institute feeding on the morning’s bugs.  When I came back out that afternoon to go home, they were all gone.  Skedaddled, probably, for their South American nesting grounds. 

Just like that.  The silence was deafening, and as always, a little sad.  So summer’s over…already…?  We have two or more flocks in our parking garage…two for sure in the upper level deck, and maybe one more in the lower.  Since I rarely ever use the lower deck I’m not as familiar with that flock.  Last year they each left on different schedules.  This year for some reason, they all split together.  I wish I knew what the signal was.

All summer long while they’re there in the garage, I whistle to them as I walk by.  They’re fun little dickens, and I’ve taken over the years to calling to them in a particular set of whistles that isn’t anything like their own…since my mouth just can’t make the sounds they do…but distinctive enough that I was hoping they’d become familiar with and know that I wasn’t a threat to their nests.  Not that they don’t seem to be completely comfortable with the humans going in and out of the garage anyway.  They’ve made their nests in little recesses in the ceiling concrete where the light fixtures are and we park our cars and walk through the garage just a few feet beneath them.  Sometimes, as I walk though the garage and whistle to them, they come flying out and fly around me like a playful chattering swarm, before shooting into the sky to feed.

Wednesday morning I checked to make sure they really were gone.  I wandered from one end of the garage to the other and it was stone quiet in there.  Not a peep, not even from the sparrows who apparently still didn’t know that their nemesis were gone.  For all practical purposes it’s still hot and sweltering summer here in Baltimore, but that sudden deathly quiet in the parking garage is the first sign that it’s loosing its grip.  Fall is on the way.  Looking back at my blog archives I see that it’s always been around the end of August that they’ve left, but one year it was the first week in September for some reason.  That afternoon I checked again before walking home and there was no sign.  They were gone.

Yesterday morning I took another walk though the garage, a little depressed.  Sometimes I wish I could fly south with them.  And…rationally…I’ve always wondered just were it is exactly our particular flocks migrate to.  As I was walking out the other end of the upper deck, I suddenly spotted two swallows, sitting perched quietly in a corner.

Aww…what’s wrong guys…?  Did you get left behind…?   Birds stick with their flock and it startled me that these two weren’t with the others.  For a moment I wondered if they’d come down with something right before migration time.  I whistled to them a couple times, as if to say Hi there…are you all right?   If I could have, I’d have said You two need to get going!  The others have a two day start on you…!  But I don’t speak Swallow. 

I stood there and whistled to them once more.  Side-by-side they eyed me over, but said nothing.  Sometimes I get a few swallow chirps back.  I wondered if they’d separated from the flock for some reason, and were now on their own.  Why are you still here…?   Did you miss the signal?  But I had work to do.  I gave them one last whistle, and then I turned toward the pedestrian exit, and to my day. 

Just as I stepped into the sunlight two little arrows suddenly shot past on either side of me and into the sky.  I watched them make a beeline over Wyman Park and disappear into the summer blue. 

Were you waiting for me..?  Were you checking to see if I was coming too..?

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

August 20th, 2008

Why I Read The Gay Press

The Holmes County School District, which was the site of a court battle over the right of students to declare their support for their gay and lesbian peers, has begun court ordered sensitivity training classes for it’s teachers and staff.

Can you spot the difference between these two news stories on this topic?

First, the local TV News station…

Fla. principal accused of gay ‘witch hunt’

Employees of 1 rural Florida school district are starting the new school year by attending sensitivity classes.

A federal judge’s ruling prompted the classes at the Holmes County School District. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the district when a principal banned students from wearing rainbow-colored clothing or other items that he said showed support for homosexuality.

Principal Davis enacted the ban, and suspended students who violated it, after one student told him she was taunted for being gay. Davis told the girl that it was wrong to be gay, order her to stay away from younger students and called her parents. The girl’s friends wore gay pride T-shirts and other clothing in support.

A federal judge ruled that Davis and the district violated the students’ free speech rights by banning the clothing.


Florida school at center of GSA battle begins sensitivity training

Teachers and staff in a Florida school district which was at the center of a long legal battle over gay/straight alliances are back in the classroom – this time as students in sensitivity classes.

The Holmes County School District set up the training sessions after losing a federal court battle in which the judge blasted the principal of Ponce de Leon High School principal David Davis for leading a “relentless crusade” against homosexuality.

U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak said in his ruling last month that principal David Davis “embarked on what can only be characterized as a witch hunt. The ruling also said that Davis led “morality assemblies” that ignored the First Amendment.

Davis has since been replaced as principal.

During the two-day trial in May, Davis testified that he believed clothing, buttons or stickers featuring rainbows would make students automatically picture gay people having sex.

He went on to admit that while censoring rainbows and gay pride messages, he allowed students to wear other symbols many find controversial, such as the Confederate flag.

Heather Gillman, a 16-year-old junior at the high school, sued the district with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union after she was told she could not wear buttons, stickers or clothing that supported LGBT civil rights.

After she received the warning, the ACLU last November sent a letter to the school board’s attorney on behalf of Gillman, asking for clarification as to whether a variety of symbols and slogans, such as the rainbow flag or “I support my gay friends,” would be allowed at the school.  

The school district replied that it would not allow any expressions of support for gay rights at all because such speech would “likely be disruptive.” 

The district then said that such symbols and slogans were signs that students were part of a “secret/illegal organization.” 

The problems began in September 2007 when a lesbian student tried to report to school officials that she was being harassed by other students because she is a lesbian.  Instead of addressing the harassment, students say the school responded with intimidation, censorship, and suspensions. 

Prior to the release of his written ruling, Smoak issued an order that forces the school to stop its censorship of students who want to express their support for gay people.  The judge also warned the district not to retaliate against students over the lawsuit.

The AP went one better too…running a story all about how the locals support the principle that started all this, headlined, FL. Town Backs Principle In Gay Student Case.  It mentions nothing about the morality assemblies, the fact that confederate flags were allowed to be worn but not t-shirts supporting the gay students, or that Davis said students wearing gay supportive messages would make people think of gay sex, or that the district declared gay supportive students to be part of an illegal secret organization.  It did say however, that the townsfolk were sincerely baffled about the judge’s "scathing rebuke", and why the principle had done anything wrong.

The AP also says that "Many in the community support Davis and feel outsiders are forcing their beliefs on them."  That would be as opposed to forcing dissenters to keep their mouths shut while they force their piss ignorant beliefs about homosexuality on gay people, their parents and their friends. 

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

Keeping An Eye On Fay…

So I have friends down in Florida (and readers according to my server logs…) and places I’ve visited that I’ve become fond of.  So I’m checking the news headlines for the latest on Fay.  Last night I heard that the storm might wander offshore, strengthen again and take another swing at Florida.

So what do I see when I look at Google News…?

`Fickle Fay’ Loses Strength, Hurricane Watch Dropped

Tropical Storm Fay May Strike Land Again

Tropical Storm Fay fizzles in Florida

Tropical Storm Fay expected to gain strength today

Tropical storm Fay gathers strength over Florida

Fay intensifies by feeding off warm inland waters

Not a hurricane yet, but Fay spreads damage in Florida

Clear now?  Me too… 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Keeping An Eye On Fay…

August 19th, 2008

Day Side / Night Side

Do you have a composer who speak to you?  Not some trendy pop band…but a pure music classical composer, whose music seems to define you in a way none other does?

I have two.  When I was a teen, I discovered Shostakovitch.   Mom and I were driving alone to California, defying her family to visit dad’s side.  I remember it clearly…we were driving through Pennsylvania west on I-70 after having dropped grandma at her brother’s house.  It caused a family uproar, but we were both determined.  That night, I was driving and she was nodding off in the passenger’s side.  We were going to California.  I had the radio on to some random classical station, and driving down that empty highway I heard music that just said it all to me at that point in my life.  I was alienated, confused and utterly alone it seemed.  And here was this amazing symphony that just said it all. 

I later learned that it was Shostakovitch’s first symphony, composed when he was just sixteen.  It was amazing how well it said it all.  All though the rest of my adolescence  I devoured his music.  His symphonic music.  It touched me in a place no others did. 

Later, as I grew older, I discovered the music of Ralph Vaughan-Williams.  His music touched another side of me…a side that was tender and wounded, and struggling to assert itself in my consciousness.  The side that believed in the beautify of life.  The side that believes that’s all that really matters.

We probably all have that struggle in ourselves.  One side dark, lonely and alienated…the other hopeful and believing.  Sometimes we find music that speaks to them.  Shostakovitch speaks to that dark lonely alienated side of me…the side that knows that Sturgeon was right…that ninety percent of everything is bullshit.  The side that knows that the bullshit often wins.  Vaughan-Williams speaks to my other side.  The side that knows that doesn’t matter.

Shostakovich 10.

Ralph Vaughan-Williams 3.

These are me.  The Shostakovitch piece is only good for the first three movements.  That last movement is silly…giddy…a bit hysterical if you ask me.  It’s too giddy…like he’s faking himself out.  But the first three movements are pure gold.  The Vaughan-Williams piece is pure gold all the way though…especially the last movement.  The obo concerto on that album is beautiful too.  But the symphony is gold.  Pure gold.  These are me.  These links are to the performances of each that are, in my opinion, correct.  They’re Amazon MP3s if you care to download them and listen.  They’re not expensive and I think worth every penny.  Beautiful music, each in its own way.  These are me.

Oh…and here’s Shostakovitch 1, in case you’re interested.  This one’s pretty close to what I heard that night long ago, which was performed by the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra.  I don’t recall who was conducting…but the Russians seem to get this one better then anyone else does…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Day Side / Night Side

August 18th, 2008

Question 1 Of 12

From this week’s Spiegel pub quiz

The small German town of Loitsche is asking €14,600 for a broken-down bus stop. Why?

Sounds like somebody doesn’t like Tokio Hotel.  But read those other two answers and tell me Germans don’t have a sense of humor.  And this one…

Question 5 of 12

Why did Russian tanks and troops roll into Georgia last week?

I guarantee you there are people in Georgia (U.S. of A.) right now with their guns loaded, keeping a watchful eye out for those Russian tanks…


by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Question 1 Of 12

August 17th, 2008

Fear Of Fay

So it looks like tropical storm Fay might become a roaring hurricane before it makes landfall.  The Florida Keys and Orlando, both of which occupy fond places in my heart for various reasons, are in its path.  So I’m keeping an eye on it.  Her.  It.  Whatever.

You know…they need to stop giving these dangerous things cutesy names.  Instead of Fay, how about Insane Clown, or Babbling Homeless Man With An Axe, or Drunken Train Engineer or Laughing Pit Bull or Flying Anvil Swarm…

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

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