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Archive for January, 2009

January 28th, 2009

The Party Of Culture War

Sullivan notices the obvious…

The Budget And Sex

Just a glimpse into the far-right psyche. The two biggest ticket items that have leaped into public consciousness discrediting parts of the stimulus package have been family planning and STD prevention. Both have been blaring Drudge headlines. Now, this is technical stuff and I don’t doubt that there’s merit to the case against portraying these as in some way necessary counter-cyclical emergency funding.

But why is it the GOP is so easily galvanized by sexual panic? Weird, if you ask me. This is the budget we’re talking about here. Even there, they reach, like the exhausted tacticians they are, for the culture war. And it isn’t reaching back.

The republicans became the party of culture war when they gave the nomination to Nixon.  This is what people continue not to get about them…even now, amidst the horrific train wreckage of the "free market economy" republican domination of the federal government was supposed to usher in.  Oh…they betrayed their principles, did you say?  No.  Absolutely no.  They did nothing of the kind.  All that small government free market stuff was just the window dressing, over a core that was entirely, completely, absolutely about culture war.  When they finally got the power they craved, they set to work implementing their vision.  Yes, it is an unmitigated disaster.  But you have to understand that it was always going to be that. 

They didn’t care about the economy…they cared about elbowing science out of the classroom and out of government in favor of their nutty religion in which Jesus says to hate the stranger, obey the authorities, and that the rich will inherent the earth.  They didn’t care about the deficit…they cared about keeping women, people of color and homosexuals in their place.  They didn’t care about national security…they cared about rolling back decades of constitutional law that said all Americans were entitled to equal justice, equal rights, to life, liberty, and the persuit of happiness.  They didn’t care about fighting terrorism…they cared about fighting the 60s all over again, and winning this time.

In Goldwater they had their last honest small government candidate.  Nixon gave them culture war, which they embraced with gusto.  Why?  The darkies weren’t drinking from the fountain marked ‘coloreds’ anymore.  The kids weren’t passively going off to die in a war nobody understood, and what was worse, they weren’t cutting their hair.  And more horrifying then all of that, the women were going off the Miltown pill and going on the birth control one instead and asserting their sexual equality.  Suddenly you couldn’t make jokes about women drivers anymore.  And then the faggots started marching. 

Something had to be done.  Nixon was the one.  That he turned out to be a crook, should have been a warning.  But the first thing you have to understand about culture warriors, is they have no inner sense of morality, of right and wrong.  That is why they fight tooth and nail to keep their world from changing around them.  They have no brakes, so they need fences and guardrails.  That, and the privilege that comes with being on top of the cultural ladder, even if you’re at the bottom of the economic one.  White.  Male.  Protestant.  Heterosexual.  You got it made pal…drink up.  In a world where people are judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin, or the shape of their own genitals or that of their lovers’, then what becomes of the privileged? 

The joke after the last Republican convention was that you didn’t see any black or brown faces in the crowd until it was all over, and the cleaning crews came out.  So what about all that Big Tent talk?  What about all that reaching out to minorities and stuff?  For real?  Why…the same Goddamned thing that happened to all that small government stuff.  It wasn’t important.  It wasn’t what the party is about.  The party is about the culture war.  Of course the first thing they had fits about in the stimulus plan was the family planning items.  Do you still think, after the last eight years of it, that they even saw the rest of it?   I sure hope you don’t think that since Bush went down in flames they went down with him.  They sure didn’t go down with Nixon.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Party Of Culture War


So…I’m wandering the web and the various gay news sites and I come across this shot of actor TR Knight and his BF doing Disneyland…

More Here.  I recall wandering around Disneyworld not too long ago.  I had a great time.  But I go into these vacations willing myself not to think about how alone I am wherever I go…which is one reason I’ve always avoided theme parks.  If I don’t do that, if I’m not successful at forgetting, then I just want to go back home.  And there have been times I’ve done just that.

I’m happy for these guys.  I really am.  But seeing stuff like this…at this stage of my life…just reminds me of the life I never had and I don’t want it to.  I just want to feel happy for them.  But…I failed.  I never found it.  God knows I tried (even if a certain heartless jackass in Alexandria wants to keep telling himself that I never did).  I tried.  It never happened.  It just…never happened.  But then…people who look like that want people who look like that…

Wow…  That looks like the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride.  I wanted to do that one while I was at Disneyworld but I thought, one roller coaster at a time so I did Space Mountain instead.  Look at those smiles.  Damn.  Just…Damn


by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Jealous…Me…?

The Mormon War On Gay Americans

Timothy Kincaid over at Box Turtle Bulletin, has the party line vote on the first of the so-called "common ground" bills put forward in Utah.  These bills actually do very little to insure equal rights for gay and lesbian citizens…almost the bare minimum you could imagine.  The first of these to come to a vote, simply made it possible for financial dependents, other then legally married spouses, parents and children, to sue if their breadwinner suffers wrongful death.  Keep in mind that these so-called "common ground" bills were introduced after the passage of Proposition 8, when the Mormon church’s staggering level of involvement became widely known, and the Mormon leadership, while in the glare of the public eye, averred they had no problem with extending gay people many of the rights of marriage…just not marriage itself.

Many of us found that statement interesting, since nothing was stopping them from giving gay Americans in Utah those rights and gay Americans in Utah have damn few if any.  The only places as bad to be gay are the deep south

The bill failed along party lines.  Republican verses democrat?  Oh my, no…

Let me be clear. There is no legitimate reason to exclude those who rely on someone for their livelihood from suing should that livelihood be taken away due to the wrongful actions of another. If a woman is killed directly due to the reckless or wrongful actions of another, why should her partner who stays home and raises the kids not be able to sue?

But because this bill was understood to benefit (among others) those gay persons who rely on each other, Sen. Buttars’ committee killed the bill 4 – 2.

And did the Mormon Church live up to its claim? Did it encourage its members to allow for probate rights for gay couples? Let’s see.

Voting “no” were:

Chris Buttars, Mormon
Lyle Hillyard, Mormon
Mark Madsen, Mormon
Michael Waddoups, Mormon

The three non-Mormons either voted Yes or were absent.

As Kincaid notes, this fits pretty well with recent polls showing that Utah Mormons are hugely against granting their gay neighbors any rights whatsoever, other then maybe, possibly, the right to breath.  So long as they don’t flaunt it.

Expect the Mormon church to claim it has no influence over the state legislature.  They’ve shown repeatedly that they can look you right in the eye, smile, and lie through their teeth.  Your hopes, your dreams, every smile you ever gave the one you love, and every smile you ever received in love, and placed somewhere deep within your heart: these things are their stepping stones to Godhood.  Nothing else matters to them.  Nothing.  They will walk over your every hope and dream, and grind them into dirt, for that promise of Godhood at the end of the road.

I know…I know…  But there are Mormons who don’t hate their gay neighbor…  Yes.  And they are either silent or they are on the road to excommunication.  We, that is America, saw it all during the battle over Proposition 8.  There are no Mormons who are not on board for the war on gay Americans…only Mormons who are about to leave, or be shown the door.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Mormon War On Gay Americans

Always Respect Ice

I’ve said before I’d rather have two feet of snow then even a little ice.  Snow you can at least dig out of.  Snow at least makes it clear that your car isn’t going anywhere.  And you know you are going to be in for a trudge when you walk through it, and that you need to watch where you put your feet.  Ice just sits there and pretends to be a little wet patch on the sidewalk ahead of you.  And if the temperature is just right, it coats itself with a film of water on its surface and dares you to walk across it.

This morning the sidewalks and streets around my neighborhood were dangerous to even stand on.  You just couldn’t. The moment I stepped outside to start cleaning off my sidewalk, I knew I had to be careful.  My snow boots give me no traction at all on the pavement.  The ice was easy to break up though, because the pavement under it was wet, not frozen.  I have an all metal snow shovel I bought ages ago, for digging my car out when the snow plows had buried it.  I begin to just bang the shovel down on the ice while standing on the dry portions of my front porch.  The ice cracked apart and I could just shovel off the broken chunks.  Then I moved forward and bit and repeated the process.  Wash, rinse, repeat…  I’d got all the way down to my street and I was breaking up the ice on my sidewalk when I head a moan behind me.

It was coming from somewhere in the street, but I couldn’t see who it was because of the parked cars.  When I tried to walk out onto the street I could tell right away that two feet just weren’t going to cut it so I knelt down.  The street was a solid sheet of ice…not very thick…but with a little layer of water on top as the temperature was hovering around the freezing point.  I literally had to walk on my hands and knees out into the street.  That was when I saw her…an older neighbor of mine laying on her side in the middle of the road.  I could see blood around her head from where I was.

You have to picture this.  There really isn’t very much ice on the road, but it is smooth…almost ice rink smooth.  And it has just enough water on its surface that you simply can’t stand on it. Your instinct is to run over to help her and you can’t.  You simply cannot stand on the ice.  The woman’s daughter was trying to get out to her from the sidewalk just then too, but she wasn’t able to navigate the road any better then me.  She’s telling her mom not to move and I’m telling them both I’m coming and nobody is getting there any time soon.  I had to literally walk on my hands and knees to get out to her, but eventually I did.  Luckily, oh so very luckily, our street is a small side street that dead ends, sort-of (there is an alleyway access driveway at the end of it).  So there was no traffic trying to get down our street.  Not that anyone could have anyway without sliding into something.  But that was what I was afraid of right then…some idiot trying to drive down our street, seeing us, hitting the brakes…and well…

This particular neighbor is an older lady…in her 60s going on 70s I think.  She was laying on her side and the ice under her head was bloody.  She was talkative when I got to her, and I asked her if she could feel anything broken.  She said not, just her head was painful a bit where her glasses, which she said were up on her head when she tried to walk across the street, banged into her ear when she fell.  There was blood all over the ice around her head, but she seemed clear headed and knew to just stay put until the ambulance came.  I was hoping the injury was better then it looked.  I asked her if she could move her toes and fingers and she said she could.  The daughter called for an ambulance, but I think everyone knew it wasn’t going to get there quickly. 

What eventually happened was a fire truck with some EMTs tried to come down our street and almost slid into some parked cars.  So they decided to just send the EMTs on foot to the scene.  By that time I was worried about her getting hypothermic and so I crawled back to the sidewalk and went back into the house and I got one of my moving pads out and the EMT people moved her onto it so she wasn’t laying on the ice.  She was talkative the whole time and could move her limbs and her fingers and toes. 

It took the Emergency Crew almost an hour to get an ambulance to her because the streets were all so bad.  The initial responder, a fire truck so I was told (I never actually saw it) almost slid into some parked cars and couldn’t get turned onto our street.  The ambulance eventually had to back slowly down one side street, up an alley, and then drive over the grassy lot at the end of my street to get close enough to where they could bring a stretcher out to her.  When the ambulance crew finally arrived with a stretcher they carefully got her onto it.  You could tell she was in pain when they moved her. 

It really doesn’t matter how much ice you get in an ice storm.  Even a little amount of ice is dangerous.  And all the more so when the air temperature is hovering around freezing because that leaves a little tad of melt on top and then you might was well crawl across it because you are not walking over it unless you’ve got spikes or something.  My neighbor apparently thought that since clearing the sidewalks was so easy this morning, the street wasn’t so bad either.  She only got halfway across when her legs went out from under her and she fell.  And the problem was with the streets like they were no ambulance was getting to her quickly.

It’s going to freeze over again tonight, but the rest of the week looks good.  First chance I get I am buying some extra-strength sidewalk and pavement de-icer.  The box at the end of the street the city provides is a mix of sand and salt this year…I’m guessing because we have no money and they’re trying to make the salt go further…and it’s a solid brick in there.  I have to take a pick to it to get enough of the stuff apart to put into a bucket and salt my sidewalk.  They say putting out salt eats away at your pavement, and some of my neighbors refuse to do it because of that. But better my sidewalk and steps get eaten by salt then covered in blood.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Always Respect Ice

Ice Morning

There is a sheet of ice all over everything outside here in my little Baltimore neighborhood, but not a quarter inch of it.  It’s pretty significant though.

When I got up, the first thing I did was look outside to check the ice accumulation.  I didn’t see much right off the bat…although the sidewalks looked obviously iced over.  But the powerlines and tree branches didn’t seem to have any.  Usually, when it’s a really bad freezing rain storm, you get the trees looking a bit glossy, almost like they’re encased in snow, but it’s not snow its ice.  This morning they just looked wet.

Then I put my glasses on. (sigh)  I’ve had to wear glasses for distance vision ever since last February, when I was driving to Memphis and noticed that the lettering on the big highway signs was looking a little fuzzy.  I can see okay at a distance, but to see small detail I need my glasses now.  Once I had them on this morning, the extent of the ice outside was more apparent.  I could clearly see the trees were encased in the stuff too.  But not a quarter inch of it. 

I got dressed and went to step outside.  My bird feeders had a full load of customers and there was a downy woodpecker on the suet feeder so I waited for it to get done.  The woodpeckers are very shy, even the big ones, and will scoot at a shadow.  It didn’t stay long and when it flitted off I stepped out.  The gold finches all over my thistle feeders scattered but they come right back.

Everything outside here is iced over, but only on top.  The tree branches aren’t completely encased it in…they’re dry on the bottom side.  In some places it’s thicker then others, but I’d say the thickest it is most places is 1/16 inch.  That’s still a lot when it comes to ice.  More then enough to shut everything down. When I look upstreet, Redfern Avenue looks like an ice rink, I kid you not.  But a neighbor, shoveling it off his sidewalk, said everything was wet underneath.  He wasn’t having a hard time getting it up off the sidewalk.  So the ground here in Baltimore isn’t frozen.  That’ll make it go away quicker.  Later in the day, they’re calling for rain.

The Institute is closed until 10am, and we can take vacation for the rest of the day on "liberal leave"…meaning it’s okay that you didn’t properly schedule it just go ahead and take it.  I’ll wait and see what it’s like before I decide. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Ice Morning

Snow. Sleet. Freezing Rain. Baltimore

Not exactly your foot deep snowfall…but enough to keep Traveler at home…


Doesn’t it look adorable in the snow?  Well…I think it does.  And I’m here to tell you owning a forty-five thousand dollar automobile does make you think twice about driving it in snow and icy conditions.  And tonight they are forecasting a freezing rain.  Swell.  If I had studded tires (which are illegal in Maryland anyway) I would not move that car.  I can walk to two grocery stores and to work, and in really bad weather, the Institute encourages us to either telecommute or take leave.  In a really severe situation they will close down the Institute altogether, for the safety of staff.  But you have to understand the work we do is in support of space missions that don’t pause for bad weather on earth, and some folks just have to be on call no matter what.  If the power goes out due to ice bringing down lines, or trees onto lines though, I doubt I’ll be able to telecommute.

It’s sleeting now as I write this.  The forecast is for ice accumulation up to a quarter inch in the city.  That’s…pretty bad.  The city seldom if ever plows or salts the sidestreets (we have no money) but distributes salt boxes all around the neighborhoods, which I’ve never seen done anywhere else.  I am responsible for my own patch of sidewalk…all sixteen feet of it…so I shoveled mine and salted it down before bed.  I also put out some extra seed for the birds.  Hopefully the feeders won’t be so iced up they can’t get to it.

If the power goes out tomorrow, because some tree somewhere upgrid from me came down on some lines, I probably won’t be blogging.  BGE is usually pretty good about getting the power back on here in the city…but if the ice is widespread it might take a while.  Hopefully, once again, it won’t be as bad as the worst case scenerio the forecast is predicting.  A quarter inch of ice is a lot.  That’ll bring down some tree limbs around here for sure.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Snow. Sleet. Freezing Rain. Baltimore

January 27th, 2009

Slouching Back Toward The Dark Ages

Via Pam’s House Blend…  The next time you hear someone in the Catholic Church complaining that proposition 8 supporters are being targeted, laugh in their face…

Catholic church strongarms org from hiring anti-Prop 8 priest

Father Geoffrey Farrow, the Fresno priest who came out against Prop 8 during Mass and was suspended for following his conscience by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is still being hounded by the church.

Since he was out of a job, you’d think the church would be satisfied that Farrow would seek employment elsewhere and fade from its PR radar. Think again. Father Geoff applied for a position with the Los Angeles branch of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) and look at the thuggery of the Church in action. Father Tony at The Bilerico Project and at his pad:

CLUE derives a significant part of its funding from the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Today I spoke with a member of CLUE’s board of directors, Rev. James Conn, a Methodist minister and Director of New Ministries for the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church. Reverend Conn had been directly involved in the recruitment and interview process involving Father Geoff.

I asked him if CLUE had denied Father Geoff a second interview specifically because the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles threatened to cut off all its significant funding for CLUE should Father Geoff ever be offered the position in question.

As incredible as it may seem, Reverend Conn confirmed the truth of this and expressed his heartfelt disappointment over the fact that CLUE had to choose between continuing the interview process with an extremely promising and qualified candidate or risk losing the financial support of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles that is critical to CLUE’s work.

…I am writing this because I’ve learned over the years that the Roman Catholic Church gets away with this kind of despicable and inhumane treatment of men who choose to follow their conscience only when its bad deeds are not held up to a strong light. Father Geoff does not wish CLUE to lose its funding and therefore has remained silent about this, but his friends have brought this situation to my attention, and I want Catholics in California and beyond to understand clearly the level of unchristian behavior and deliberate malice of which their bishops and cardinals are capable.

More from the Bilerico Project blog…

It is important to note that at the age of 51, after having devoted 23 years of his life to the Roman Catholic Church plus an earlier 7 years in the seminary, Father Geoff has had his medical benefits discontinued and is without income and assistance from his bishop. While it is disgusting that his bishop has turned his back on Father Geoff, it is infuriating to think that his bishop would conspire with the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles to block gainful and appropriate employment.

I am well familiar with the jargon of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. They will say that they feel compassion for Father Geoff and that they pray for him, but their actions speak too strongly and demonstrate deliberate malice. They do not wish him well. And, God forbid that they should have ever proactively attempted some sort of out-placement effort on his behalf. Some bishops privately do that on behalf of priests who leave, but not the hard-hearted bishop who cut off Father Geoffrey Farrow nor the malicious Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles.

I am writing this because I’ve learned over the years that the Roman Catholic Church gets away with this kind of despicable and inhumane treatment of men who choose to follow their conscience only when its bad deeds are not held up to a strong light. Father Geoff does not wish CLUE to lose its funding and therefore has remained silent about this, but his friends have brought this situation to my attention, and I want Catholics in California and beyond to understand clearly the level of unchristian behavior and deliberate malice of which their bishops and cardinals are capable.

I hope you will consider going to CLUE’s website and leaving them a message about your feelings (please keep in mind that CLUE wanted to continue its interview with Father Geoff so don’t paint them as the "bad guy". If you want to leave a message for the real "bad guy", you may contact the office of Cardinal Roger Mahony.

Archdiocese of Los Angeles
3424 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010-2202
213 637 7000

Ask them why they hate Father Geoff. When they assure you that they do not hate him, ask them to prove it and soon. Right now, more than their insincere prayers, he needs a job.

I hope nobody is surprised. When you hear the Proposition 8 supporters talk of civility and mutual respect, laugh in their face. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Slouching Back Toward The Dark Ages

Boys Will Be Girls And Girls Will Be Boys

I hadn’t known this, but the other day on Fark.Com one of the headlines read that January is National Drag History Month.  As a gay man who tends to favor somewhat androgynous males, I have to admit that some of these performers just knock me out.  That’s not to say I like it when guys dress up as girls, so much as when guys can be sexy and sultry and beautiful.  There’s an art to this that I never really appreciated when I was younger, and stereotyped drag as an artifact of gay repression.  You can certainly view it that way.  But in a more liberated time, you can also view it as a kind of subversive gender-bending art that is beautiful and sexy for its own sake.

Some drag performers don’t have it.  They just look like guys wearing dresses.  But some guys have got it going on.  One commenter on Fark said that a boy in a dress is just a boy in a dress. 

No…  Not at all…

…not at all.   

So…  Happy National Drag History Month Mrs Cuba…aka Deanna Lexington.  Wish my friends down there hadn’t been such a bunch of jackass knuckle-dragging dickheads and let me have a chance to meet you last year.  But if you happen to chance across this post…I have some more photos from that Academy of Washington D.C. Miss Gaye Universe Ball.  It was nice to see you get an award.  Personally, I thought you should have taken it all.


by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Boys Will Be Girls And Girls Will Be Boys

Why Deemphasizing Marriage Will Never Work

In the wake of the passage of Proposition 8, and predictably, you heard the voices from the back bench bellyaching that we were all fighting the wrong fight.  Why are we making such a big deal out of marriage they asked, when we still lack basic anti discrimination protections in jobs and housing?  Why are we putting so much energy into a fight about same-sex marriage, which most of the country is against anyway, when gay people can still be fired from their jobs, denied housing, denied service in stores and restaurants?  Let’s fight for the basics first, they say. 

Sure.  Go right ahead…

Ruzicka, Sutherland wage campaigns against gay rights

Equality Utah’s Common Ground Initiative — a push for legal protections for gay and transgender Utahns — has drawn hundreds of marchers to a Capitol Hill rally, thousands of petition signatures and even broad-based support in statewide opinion polls.

The initiative also has ignited a backlash, led by defenders of "traditional marriage" who want to crush the effort.

Rather than "common ground," Gayle Ruzicka and the Constitutional Defense of Marriage Alliance are touting "common sense." And a Salt Lake City-based conservative think tank, The Sutherland Institute, wants Utahns to stand on "sacred ground" instead.

"The family is the central unit of society, and so our efforts in this regard are ultimately to protect the traditional family and protect marriage," said Sutherland spokesman Jeff Reynolds, who acknowledged Equality Utah has run a "very effective" campaign.

Next week, his group will kick off its Sacred Ground Initiative, a counteroffensive aimed at defeating the five gay-rights bills, all sponsored by Democratic lawmakers, that make up the Common Ground Initiative.

"The message [from opponents] is that our bills are an attack on marriage — which is exactly what they’re not," said Will Carlson, Equality Utah’s public-policy manager. The proposed laws range from protecting someone from being fired for being gay to establishing a statewide domestic-partner registry that would afford some legal protections, such as hospital visitation, to same-sex couples.


Emphasis mine.  Here’s why we’re fighting for same-sex marriage.  Because every fight we’ve ever waged as a people has been turned into a fight over same-sex marriage by our enemies.  Watch it happen again in the fight for these so-called "common ground" gay rights bills in Utah.  Just like it’s happened every time since the days of Antia Bryant and Save Our Children in Florida.

It’s ironic that the bigots understand our fight better then many of us do.  The same logic that says it’s wrong to deny a gay man a job simply because he is a gay man, what do you know, leads in a straight and narrow path to the conclusion that it is also wrong to deny a gay man the right to marry the man he loves, simply because both of them are gay.  To concede it in the one case is to concede it in the other.  Though our enemies deny that rhetorically, you can see they know it perfectly well by how they turn every fight we engage in, for every meager right that heterosexuals take for granted every day, into a fight over same-sex marriage.

Deemphasize same-sex marriage all you want.  Our enemies will underline it in neon.  The homosexuals aren’t just fighting for the right to hold down a job.  The homosexuals aren’t just fighting for equal housing.  The homosexuals aren’t just fighting for the right to adopt.  The homosexuals aren’t just fighting for safe schools.  The homosexuals aren’t just fighting for the right to serve in the military.  The homosexuals aren’t just fighting to repeal the sodomy laws.  The homosexuals are fighting to make their perversion morally acceptable.  They are fighting for the honor and the dignity of their perverted sexual relationships.

Yes.  Yes we are.  That’s the heart of it.  Marriage isn’t central to this fight, but it’s damn close.  Closer then anything else in civil law.  If our sexual relationships are morally and civilly the equal of heterosexuals’ then not only is there no reason to deny us a job, there is no reason to deny us the right to marry.  That is why every fight in this struggle, is a fight over same-sex marriage.



by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Why Deemphasizing Marriage Will Never Work

Was Sie mit “wir” weiß gesicht?

Winnetou and Old Shatterhand ride again…

Karl May production makes cowboy casting call

Germans looking to live out their Wild West fantasies of being a gunslinging cowboy or Indian are in luck: the Karl May festival in Bad Segeberg needs experienced horseback riders as extras for this summer’s performance.

New festival director Donald Kraemer plans to begin rehearsals of the open-air stage adaptation of the classic Karl May novel Der Schatz im Silbersee, or Treasure of Silver Lake, in late May.


Some years ago on one of my road trips as I was driving near Bryce Canyon, I noticed every curio shop and trading post I stopped at all had their prices and item tags on everything in the windows, display cases, and on the clothing racks written in German.  This kept happening all the way from Bryce Canyon to Monument Valley, where I finally crossed paths with a huge, and I mean Huge, caravan of tour buses, all loaded to the brims with middle aged German tourists. 

Nice folk…passionately curious about everything around them…pleasant, polite, cameras clicking away.  But they spoke not much if any English at all and stayed close to their tour guides…which makes me wonder to this day about the stories I keep hearing about how English is widely understood in Germany.  I happen to catch one of them, a pleasant enough German man, taking a snapshot of my car’s license plate. 

I have the special "Preserve The Bay" plates which you pay extra for, and the money goes into a fund to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay.  It’s distinguished from the standard plates by the state waterfowl, the Great Blue Heron.  When the German saw me watching him taking a picture of my plates, he became visibly embarrassed and made a gesture toward the car I took to mean he wanted me to know he was just snapping a tourist photo.  I smiled back and wished I could tell him the plate was a special edition and the facts behind it, but all we could do was smile at each across the language barrier.

I’ve tried to read Karl May.  I can’t.  To an American boy who grew up reading Louis L’amour, May is simply unreadable, and I don’t think it’s because the translations are bad, or that he just didn’t know or understand the West.  Let it be said, those other American icons of Western storytelling, Zane Grey and James Fenimore Cooper, were no better then May in that regard, and had less of an excuse because they actually lived on this side of the pond. 

Grey was the better romantic though.  My first and only walk with Zane Grey through the American West of his imagination, began on the first pages of Lone Star Ranger

If Bain was drunk he didn’t show it in his movement.  He swaggered forward, rapidly closing up the gap.  Red, sweaty, disheveled, and hatless, his face distorted and expressive of the most malignant intent, he was a wild and sinister figure.  He had already killed a man, and this showed in his demeanor.  His hands were extended before him, the right hand a little lower then the left.  At every step he bellowed his rancor in speech mostly curses.  Gradually he slowed his walk, then halted.  A good twenty-five paces separated them.

"Won’t nothing make you draw you —!" he shouted, fiercely.

"I’m waiting on you, Cal," replied Duane.

Bain’s right hand stiffened – moved.  Duane threw his gun as a boy throws a ball underhand – a draw his father had taught him.  He pulled twice, his shots almost as one.  Bain’s big Colt boomed while it was pointed downward and he was falling.  His bullet scattered dust and gravel and Daune’s feet.  He fell loosely, without contortion.

In a flash it all was reality for Duane.  He went forward and held his gun ready for the slightest movement on the part of Bain.  But Bain lay upon his back, and all that moved were his breast and his eyes.  How strangely the red had left his face – and also the distortion.  The devil that had showed in Bain was gone.  He was sober and conscious.  He tried to speak, but failed.  His eyes expressed something pitifully human.  They changed – rolled – set blankly.

Duane drew a deep breath and sheathed his gun.  He felt calm and cool, glad the fray was over.  The one violent expression burst from him.  "The fool!"

When he looked up there were men around him.

"Plumb center," said one.

Another, a cowboy who evidently had just left the gaming-table, leaned down and pulled open Bain’s shirt.  He had the ace of spades in his hand.  He laid it on Bain’s breast, and the black figure on the card covered the two bullet-holes just over Bain’s heart…

This is why Zane Grey became so popular, and why his American West came to define the real West for generations.  That last little touch with the gambler placing an Ace of Spades over the bullet holes is great stuff.  But it didn’t compare to Louis L’amour, and I put the book down and never picked it back up.  Louis L’amour could paint a scary picture of a bad guy with just a few deft sentences of description, not all this face distorted and expressive of the most malignant intent, he was a wild and sinister figure crap.  You got the feeling reading L’amour that you were really there to see it all, not that you were watching it on Saturday morning TV.

May, at least in translation, writes a lot like Grey and Cooper, which is why I can’t read him.  And his West, and Grey’s, and Cooper’s just isn’t real.  But sometimes real isn’t what’s wanted.  You want the myth.  You want the high opera.  You want to see the struggle between good and evil drawn out in sharp, bold strokes because that story Is more then the sum of its real life parts.  Art, Picasso said, is a lie that makes us see the truth.  One of these days I have to go see that Karl May festival for myself, and the German cowboys and German indians that gather there to pow-wow…

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

The Weather In Baltimore, For My Family Out In California Where They Don’t Have “Weather”…

Looks like we’re finally going to get a good snowing in this season.  The sidewalks and streets in my little Baltimore neighborhood were covered with the white powdery stuff this morning, but not very deep.  It’s sticking though, and they’re calling for it to keep on coming down all day and into tomorrow, when for our wintery pleasure it will turn to freezing rain.  Swell.

The trick now is to not clean your car off as the snow falls, because when the freezing rain comes down on top of that it’ll be real easy to get the ice off.  Just bang your hand on the sheet of ice on top of the snow and crack it apart.  Then it’ll just slide off the snow, and off the car and you won’t have to scrape it off.  Some years ago when I lived in Cockeysville, a helpful neighbor cleaned the snow off my car one afternoon when they were calling for a freezing rain that night.  I wanted to throttle him, but I’m a wuss and I just planted a smile on my face and tried to explain to him that he’d just created a lot of ice scraping fun for both of us the next morning.  Surprisingly, the look on his face when it dawned on him was not very satisfying.

I got my winter hat in the mail, just in time for the snow.  The rabbit fur ear liner is very nice…but it seems a tad big somehow.  It fits fine and snug around my head but comes down really low to my brow.  I don’t think a smaller size would fit around my head, but I’m not used to having a hat come down that far to my brow either.  So maybe I mis-measured my head. 

The eternal problem with singleness: It’s hard to measure yourself.  Inside and out.  Which is why we need companionship.  More for the inside then the outside, although having someone to take your measure on the outside can be handy from time to time too.  It’s not good to be only seeing yourself inside of mirrors.  You need to see yourself in another person’s smile every now and then too.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Weather In Baltimore, For My Family Out In California Where They Don’t Have “Weather”…

The You Can Marry Anyone Of The Opposite Sex You Want Argument

I’ve considered this one a good test of mendacious jerk factor ever since I ran into a particularly loathsome creep on Usenet named Steve Fordyce, whose favorite hobby horse it was…

The marriage laws do not discriminate against homosexuals.
They have the same right to marry a person of the opposite
sex that heterosexuals do.

Now, everybody…including the bigots who make this argument by the way…know that this is a bogus argument. Let’s apply it to a different set of people…

Laws that prohibit the practice of Judaism do
not discriminate against Jews, since
Christians have to obey those laws too.

The problem is it sounds perfectly logical.  How can you argue that treating people the same is discrimination?  But it’s a fallacy of ambiguity. To say that you are treating everyone the same is not to say you are treating everyone equitably.  The trick here is that a word is being used in two different senses at the same time.  Look at this again…

The marriage laws do not discriminate against homosexuals.
They have the same right to marry a person of the opposite
sex that heterosexuals do.

The problem is with the word ‘discriminate’.  In this statement, it is being used in two difference senses at the same time.  Let’s look at its definition.  This one I took from The Free Dictionary…


[-nating, -nated]
1. to make a distinction against or in favor of a particular person or group
2. to recognize or understand a difference: to discriminate between right and wrong [Latin discriminare to divide]

So in the one sense, yes, the law makes no distinction between gay and straight.  But it does not follow then, that the second sense of the word ‘discriminate’, to make a distinction against or in favor of a particular person or group is also not true.  Let’s rephrase it…

The marriage laws do not distinguish between homosexuals
and heterosexuals.  They give homosexuals the same
right to marry a person of the opposite sex they give
to heterosexuals.

This statement is both true and much clearer now as to adverse discrimination, in the first sense of the word, that homosexuals endure even though they are not being discriminated in the second sense of the word.  Let’s try it another way.

The marriage laws treat homosexuals and heterosexuals
equally.  Both groups have exactly the same right to marry
a person of the opposite sex.

Here the ambiguity is on the word ‘equally’.  Once again, it is being used in two difference senses at the same time…



1. Having the same quantity, measure, or value as another.
2. Mathematics Being the same or identical to in value.

a. Having the same privileges, status, or rights: equal before the law.
b. Being the same for all members of a group: gave every player an equal chance to win.

a. Having the requisite qualities, such as strength or ability, for a task or situation: "Elizabeth found herself quite equal to the scene" Jane Austen.
b. Adequate in extent, amount, or degree.
5. Impartial; just; equitable.
6. Tranquil; equable.
7. Showing or having no variance in proportion, structure, or appearance.

One that is equal to another: These two models are equals in computing power.
tr.v. e·qualed or e·qualled, e·qual·ing or e·qual·ling, e·quals

1. To be equal to, especially in value.
2. To do, make, or produce something equal to: equaled the world record in the mile run.

‘Equally’ is being used to mean both Having the same privileges, status, or rights: equal before the law and Impartial; just; equitable.  But one does not necessarily follow from the other.  Let’s rephrase it…

The marriage laws treat homosexuals as if they were heterosexuals
and give them the same right to marry a person of the opposite
sex that they give to heterosexuals.

Now the problem is more clearly understood.  The marriage laws deny that gay people even exist.

The fallacy is one of equivocation.  It is using a word in two different senses, to prove a conclusion that does not follow from the stated premise, simply because the same word appears in both the premise and the conclusion.

A feather is light.
What is light, cannot be dark.

See how that works?  Now look at this…

Marriage laws do not discriminate between homosexuals and heterosexuals.
Therefore marriage laws do not discriminate against homosexuals.

It simply does not follow.  Yes, the law does not discriminate between gay and straight.  It does not follow that the law does not discriminate against gay people. 

Nobody makes this argument honestly.  Nobody.  This is bad faith on its face.  When you hear someone making this argument, you know you are dealing with either a bigot or an ass, and usually both.


by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The You Can Marry Anyone Of The Opposite Sex You Want Argument

January 26th, 2009

Oh Cheer Up!

Another Valentine’s Day spam arrived in the mail today…this time from Harry & David…

From: "Harry & David"
Subject: Perfect match: Gifts as extraordinary as your Valentine.
Show your affection with our sophisticated confections

Love, Sweet Love ...
What the world REALLY needs now!

They'll know you're all heart when you send an
exclusive Harry & David Valentine treat.

Sweets from the Heart $24.95
Sweets from the Heart with Wine $59.95

Restrictions apply. Void where prohibited by law. See details here:

Hello…  Is this Harry or David?  Yes…I’d like to order a bottle of vinegar and a lovely bouquet of ragweed and barbed wire.  Send it to Cupid…wherever the hell he lives.  The gift card should read…  Hello…?  Hello…? 

I’m such a sourpuss this time of year…for some reason…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Oh Cheer Up!

I’ll Take The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same For 1000 Alex…

Via Brad DeLong…  Now I see that the republican bellyaching over contraceptives is even more dishonest then just their usual crude sexual mores posturing…

Bad Faith Economics

Paul Krugman:

Bad Faith Economics: As the debate over President Obama’s economic stimulus plan gets under way, one thing is certain: many of the plan’s opponents aren’t arguing in good faith…. John Boehner, the House minority leader, has already made headlines with one such shot: looking at an $825 billion plan to rebuild infrastructure, sustain essential services and more, he derided a minor provision that would expand Medicaid family-planning services — and called it a plan to “spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives.”

Emphasis mine.  And it get’s better…

[T]he bogus talking point that the Obama plan will cost $275,000 per job created…. It’s as if an opponent of the school lunch program were to take an estimate of the cost of that program over the next five years, then divide it by the number of lunches provided in just one of those years, and assert that the program was hugely wasteful, because it cost $13 per lunch. (The actual cost of a free school lunch, by the way, is $2.57.)…

Nice.  They keep this up throughout the recession and they’ll be lucky if they get more votes next election then Lyndon LaRouche.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I’ll Take The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same For 1000 Alex…

I’ll Take Begins At Conception And Ends At Birth For 500 Alex…

Via Atrios…  The republicans are staying true to form in the war on sex…


I’ve never bought the idea that opposition to abortion is solely about controlling women’s bodies. I’ve just known too many people who were genuinely sincere in their religious beliefs that abortion is wrong. But I’ve seen little evidence that conservatives’ hostility to contraception, to methods that prevent unwanted pregnancies and therefore abortions, from taking place, could be anything else.  Steve Benen writes, via Elana Schor, that Republicans are opposed to money in the stimulus bill that would help state governments assist low-income women in getting contraception coverage:

Beyond the fact that this policy would save the government money in the long run (a finding from the same office that didn’t produce that report on the stimulus), are Republicans really arguing that unwanted pregnancies don’t result in a significant financial burden for families that are already struggling in an economy that’s likely to get worse? What’s the moral justification for denying them the choice of preventing pregnancies they don’t want? That having sex should be predicated on yearly income?


This has been another edition of Simple Answers, To Simple Questions…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I’ll Take Begins At Conception And Ends At Birth For 500 Alex…

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