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Archive for July, 2009

July 29th, 2009

Beauty: Not Always Only Skin Deep…

So I got Traveler back from the shop today, and I’m all entranced with my car all over again.  I’m probably one of those highly annoying people who fall in love for the first time, Every Frickin Time He Falls In Love.  So if you’d rather watch pill commercials then listen to me going on about my car, you should probably skip this post. 

While my car was in the shop, and I was moping about the tire pressure monitoring system failure…Because Electrical System Problems Were Among The Most Complained About Issues With Mercedes Automobiles During Its Let’s Forget That Decade Ever Happened Decade…I wandered over to the web sites of some of those Other luxury car web sites. I wanted to look at pictures of the competition. 

My motives were not honorable.  No, I wasn’t thinking of dumping my car just because the tire pressure monitoring system went belly up and it took three days to fix it.  My Mercedes dealer did what the factory told them to do: replace the broken parts with new factory parts that were better designed then the ones that failed.  That required a modification to the wiring harness.  I discussed it with the parts department guys after I got my car back, and was told that the new design was already in all new C class Mercedes.  This is the Mercedes Way of incrementally improving a model all during its production run.  When you buy parts for a Mercedes-Benz, you can’t just order them based on the model year, you have to order parts using the car’s VIN number.   

No…I wasn’t shopping around while my eyes roved over those photos of the newest Lexus, Acuras, Lincolns and Cadillacs.  What I was doing:  Gloating.  Okay…maybe not Gloating…but something akin.  My car was in the shop for almost ten days.  I wanted reminding of why I took a chance on a Mercedes, when I could have easily bought a Lexus, which constantly gets top marks in the Consumer Reports surveys, or the Acura, which is a very close second, and several thousand dollars less costly.  Just for kicks I browsed in the Lincoln and the Cadillac web sites too.  I wasn’t in the mood to play fair.

You will notice I left BMW and Audi out of it.   Porche doesn’t make an "entry level luxury car", and neither do Rolls and Bentley and not in this lifetime will I ever own one of those.  I wanted to compare like for like in price, specs and styling:  Four door sedans in the 30 to 45k price range, styled as nicely appointed "entry level" luxury models, not those so-called sport/luxury models.  I’ve never understood the appeal of those.

An "entry level" luxury car will have more plastic in the interior and fewer über luxury items; like the adaptive seat cushions of the Mercedes S class, which adjust to keep you firmly in your seat during emergency maneuvers.  The dash will be mostly plastic of some sort, with maybe a little wood inlay…none of this all hand sewn leather stuff.  But if it’s done right, the entry level luxury car can put within the reach of your average middle-class wage earner, something a little better, a little nicer, a tad more thrilling, then the bland, mass produced, lowest common denominator average.  If your car is merely a means to get from point A to point B, then a Camry will do.  If it is your wings, your magic carpet to explore the world with, then a Lexus doesn’t really seem like an extravagance.  More like the just right companion for your journey down life’s many highways.  If you can swing it.

But Mercedes doesn’t make anything equivalent to the Camry, and where it shows isn’t in the rarefied heights of the S class, but the car they call the Baby Benz…the C class.  The C is as economy model as Mercedes is willing to go.  But if the Lexus ES benefits from all the work Toyota puts into the Camry, in terms of being able to mass produce an affordable car that is absolutely reliable, the Mercedes C class benefits from having all that expensive engineering above it.  A Lexus ES is a Camry at heart, made to a higher standard.  A C class is a smaller and more modest E class, itself a smaller more modest S class.  But they are all made to the same Mercedes standard of engineering

So the C gets a plastic dash instead of a leather wrapped one, but it’s still made to the same engineering standard as the S class dash.  You slide your hand across its surface and your fingers don’t tell you it’s a toy.  Vinyl upholstery is standard instead of leather, no fancy trim or optional massaging function.  But the seats though basic, are still made to the same engineering standard as the seats in the S class.  I drove from one side of the country to the other sitting in them and I’m here to tell you I never had it so comfortable.  You still get the front seat warmers and the power adjust.  You get a lot of nice extras.  But it is a plain car compared to the E, let alone the S, with a much smaller body, frame and drive train.  It is less expensive, not because it is more cheaply made, but because there simply isn’t as much of it as its bigger siblings.  It is smaller, has way fewer high tech gizmos in it, and way, way less sumptuousness.  The C is the little brother that gets all the hand me downs.  The Lexus by comparison, is a (very) high end Camry.

I don’t even like calling the C class a "luxury" car.  And…really…none of them are when you get right down to it.  At the price point we’re talking about, compromises have to be made, and a true luxury car isn’t about compromise.  And it’s here that you really see the difference: in the Mercedes, when it comes down to it, engineering wins over appearance.  The other makes really want you to think of them as luxury cars, so they go for that luxury car appearance and in the process cut corners everywhere.  The wood trim isn’t really wood, or a very low grade wood.  Likewise the aluminum trim is really just silvered plastic.  The leather in the upholstery is second or even third grade at best.  The dashes are so elegantly sculpted, but so very very cheesy to the touch.  The other makes want to be viewed as luxury cars.  The Mercedes C class wants you to think of it as a Mercedes and Mercedes has always been about engineering first.  Well…except for that Let’s Forget That Decade Ever Happened Decade…

To my mind the C is a very nice compact four door sedan, but made as well as you can make one.  The few luxury touches it has could as easily be options you’d find on any other mass produced  automobile.  It is hardly the most sumptuous thing you’ve ever seen.  It’s actually quite plain looking by comparison to the other "entry level" luxury cars.  There is nothing about the C that necessarily says Luxury Car at all.  Except…except…that uncanny feeling you get when you look at it, and especially when you sit down inside of one, that this thing is built like a damn vault…

Here’s how that all plays out in the cockpit…

The Lexus ES 350…

 

The Acura TL…

 

The Lincoln MKZ…

 

 

The Cadillac CTS…

 

 

The Mercedes-Benz C Class…

 

Do you see the difference?  Never mind for a moment how each of these cockpits looks.  Ask yourself how they would feel to the touch.  Which one of these interiors says to your eye that when your hands touch its surfaces it will feel something solid, or something brittle and plastic?  All that nice curvy plastic in the Lexus and Acura interiors feels about as cheap as it looks.  The Lexus in particular, looks very nice, very sumptuous.  No vinyl upholstery there.  The carpet on the floor is thick and luxurious.  But look at that dash, and the one on the Acura.  They both feel to the touch as plastic as they look.  The Cadillac is just an unmitigatedly ugly mess, in addition to feeling to the touch like it was made in a toy factory.  Only the Lincoln, surprisingly, looks anything like a solid, substantial piece of work.  But even there the eye catches little details that seem…well…cheap.  And alas, under the hood, it’s a Ford.

By comparison, the C class cockpit is almost Spartan.  Just a few nice touches of burled walnut here and there, and a little video display that hides inside the dash as if embarrassed to admit its even there in such a sparse setting.  But you sit down in one of these and you know right away how solidly built the damn thing is.

And then you start it up, and you hear a mill that sounds like you could drive it around the world several times and it would only just be broken in.  It doesn’t growl, and it doesn’t whine.  The sound of it is smooth and deep and precise and lovely.  You can tell it isn’t a sports car.  It’s a finely machined piece of 330 pound 220 horsepower steel and aluminum clockwork, as solid as everything else about the car.   I have driven big block American made V-8s that accelerated more raggedly and with less umpf then this V-6.

Well…I got mine back this afternoon.  And I’m going to take it for a ride…somewhere…anywhere…this weekend.  We’ve been apart for too damn long…

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Beauty: Not Always Only Skin Deep…

July 28th, 2009

Car In The Shop Blues…

Is this how lovers feel when one goes away on a business trip?  It’s like my entire life is on hold until I get my friggin’ car back.  I’m actually getting depressed about this.

I took Traveler in to the shop a week ago Monday to finally have the damage from my neighbor’s sideswipe repaired.  It was minor damage, thankfully.  Just around the front of the driver’s side front wheel well, and the side indicator light cover.  But I didn’t want anyone but my Mercedes dealer touching that car, and especially doing the body work.  The instant you lay your hands on that car you notice how nice and smooth and substantial the paint job on it is.  I wanted it fixed, not covered over.  I had to make an appointment for the work, and the best date they could give me was three weeks away.  So I waited three weeks to have the work done, fuming quietly to myself every time I saw the neighbor who I am certain did the damage.

But the weekend before I was to take the car in, I got a sudden message from the speedometer display…

The Tire Pressure Monitoring System Is Inoperative.

HuH?  Well, I thought, maybe it’s the battery inside one of the tire pressure sensors that’s gone bad.  The cars Mercedes sells everywhere else in the world but here use a system that monitors the wheel spin as the car drives down the road, through the Electronic Stability Control system.  A tire that’s getting low will drag more then the others and the stability control system will detect that.  But when I bought Traveler, that method of monitoring the tire pressure hadn’t yet been approved by whatever U.S. regulatory department it is that approves these things.  I have the Electronic Stability Control system in my car, but it doesn’t also monitor the tire pressure.  In 2007-08 Mercedes sold its cars in the U.S. with a tire pressure monitoring system that has pressure monitors inside each wheel.  They communicate with the tire pressure monitoring system via an RFID chip inside each pressure monitor. 

It’s a more complex system and it gives Mercedes owners headaches whenever a new set of tires or wheels needs to be "registered" with the monitoring system.  You can’t just swap on the snow tires every winter.  You have to reset the tire pressure monitor and register the pressure monitors inside the snows with the system.  That’s to prevent someone else’s car from driving up alongside yours and the pressure monitors in its wheels confusing your car’s monitoring system.  Then in the spring you have to do the process all over again when you take off your snows and put back on the regular tires.  It’s something an owner can do themselves, but it’s a pain.  And the monitors in the wheels sometimes fail and then you have to pull a tire apart to get a new one in.

So I was expecting it to be something like that.  But my dealer is having problems figuring out what’s wrong with the tire pressure monitoring system apparently.  I brought Traveler into the shop a week ago Monday.  It was supposed to be a three day body shop repair and then maybe an afternoon with the mechanic fixing the tire pressure monitor.  But the body shop didn’t get done until Friday afternoon, and the machanic said they needed to order a part because they thought there was a grounding problem in the cabling.  Swell.

I had a rental Volkswagon Jetta, but it was on the insurance for the body work, so I couldn’t keep it for the machanical work too.  So I brought the Jetta back in and the dealer gave me a Subaru Forester to take home for the weekend.  It’s nice for an SUV; small, easy to handle and park, yet very spacious inside.  It was so new it still had that new car smell to it.  I took another load of…stuff…to the city recycling drop-off with it and having that extra cargo capacity was very nice.  But it has that odd Subaru opposing piston four banger and seems to get good gas milage.  Driving it I could almost see owning an SUV.  Well…a mini SUV.  Almost.

Yesterday I called the dealer hoping to get Traveler back.  No luck.  They’re still waiting on a part.  And I’m depressed.  I don’t have my car.  And now I can’t give it a clean bill of health when the next Consumer Reports survey comes along.  I’m going to have to report that my Mercedes had an electrical system failure, and even though it wasn’t anything that would have left me stranded and waiting for a tow truck, it will get tallied up and Mercedes cars are going to keep getting a black eye in the Consumer Reports annual report compaired to the Japanese makes.  But I’ve looked at the new Lexus and Acuras and I would still not buy one.  I might go find another dealer though.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Car In The Shop Blues…

July 25th, 2009

An All Macintosh Household…Finally

[Geek Alert…]

My Windows/Linux workstation, Mowgli, died some weeks ago.  It’s had a recurring problem having to do with somehow loosing the keyboard state when it was turned off and refusing to turn back on again until I’d gone through this ritual of unplugging the keyboard and switching off the power supply at the back end and then plugging the keyboard back in and switching back on the power supply.  It was a frustrating exercise in appeasing recalcitrant hardware and I was getting tired of it.  But simply replacing Mowgli’s motherboard wasn’t a simple option.  Ever since Microsoft went to its software branding anti-pirating technology what had been the painfully slow, gruesomely ugly chore of reinstalling Windows took on an added test of wills between Redmond and its customers. 

Please activate my license again.

You’re stealing our product!

No…I’m just reinstalling it.  Please activate my license again. 

This is not the same computer you licensed this software for. 

I had to replace the motherboard. Theses things fail you know.  Please activate my license again.

Ah-Ha!  The hard drive is different too!  And the video card!

Duh.  I figured as long as I was buying a new motherboard I’d upgrade a few other parts to.  Why is it every time Windows Upgrade runs my computer gets a little slower?

This is a different computer.  You are not licensed for more then one computer.

No…seriously…you think I’d go to all the time wasting nail biting hair pulling cursing profanely pain of installing Windows just for kicks and grins??  Hey, I know, I think I’ll reinstall Windows today.  No idiot, my fucking hardware failed and I had to buy new parts!  Activate my license again.

You’re a software thief!  You must buy a license for this software!

I ALREADY HAVE A LICENSE!!!

Please wait while you are transferred to our sales department…

&#*@%#$!!!…

I’d planned on just giving up on Windows and running Linux on Mowgli long ago.  But Linux has posed its own problems lately, the killer one for me being that for some reason "the community" decided to break Samba somehow.  Samba is the open source networking layer that lets you connect to Windows computers and share resources such as files and printers.  Previous versions let me network just fine with Bagheera, my art room PowerMac G5, and Akela, my Powerbook G4, just fine.  More recent versions can’t seem to talk with them at all.  Windows XP never had any problems talking to the Macs, so if there was a problem it was either something introduced in Vista or something introduced in MacOSX Leopard that only affected Samba, but not Windows XP.  Since I started networking Casa del Garrett, I’ve taken advantage of being able to balance my storage needs between the art room and the front office.  Networking here has to work, or I’m running up and down the stairs with a flash drive in my hand.  And while the exercise is probably good for me, the frustration isn’t.

I’m at a stage in my life now where I just need my computers to work.  I don’t have time anymore to keep on fiddling with them just for kicks and grins.  I have work to do, both at home and for my employer when I’m working from home.  I need things to be reliable here.  And the only absolutely reliable computers in the house for the past half decade have been the Macs.  I have never had any problems with either Bagheera or Akela.  Never.  I’ve had Mowgli apart dozens of times.  And when it hasn’t been apart, I’ve been struggling for hours to resolve either some Windows issue or some Linux issue, usually right in the middle of some other important project.  I need computers I can mostly just setup and use and they keep working.  That’s the Macs.

And the Macs had the added benefit of Much nicer software licensing terms.  There is no branding…at least none that’s visible to the end user.  You just install OSX and it runs.  I assume Apple already knows its own computers are supposed to be running its OS.  And I’ve upgraded both Bagheera and Akela twice now with no fuss at all.  What is more, I’ve actually replaced the system drive in Bagheera with a bigger one and simply file-copied over the old to the new drive and the new drive booted OSX without complaint.  You just can’t do that with Windows.  You need to use drive imaging software for that, and pray the anti-piracy code in Windows doesn’t decide you’re running an unauthorized copy.  Hell…I can file-copy the system drives of either of my Macs to an external drive and boot from it if I need to.  Try that on a Windows box, go ahead.

And the five license "family" OSX packs cost less then two single licenses.  That’s also true for the "productivity" software Apple sells too, such as iLife.  Ever since they came into the house, the Macs have just been all-around easier machines to live with.

I’d been considering becoming an all Mac household for some time now. My plain was to replace Bagheera, which is a PowerMac G5, with one of the newer Intel multi-core Mac Pros next year, and then move the PowerPC box up to the front office where Mowgli was.  But Mowgli died before I could put that plan into action, and my budget this summer just didn’t have room for a Mac Pro.  I considered a Mac Mini, but even one of those ended up being over a thousand bucks when I’d added the extra memory and disk space I figured I’d need.  And you’d better buy one of those with everything you want already in it because you are not opening it up yourself to add anything later.  

I really wanted something more like what I had in Bagheera.  The tower case Macs are so cleanly, so damn elegantly laid out inside that getting into one to add memory, or a new hard drive, is a pure pleasure.  I wanted to keep the option of working on my own hardware open.  I remember my jaw dropping when I opened Bagheera that first time to add memory to it and saw how beautiful it was in there.  Then later, when I opened it again to add a second hard drive, I was floored to see not only how easy it was, but how Apple had even put the extra screws I’d need for the job in a series of screw holes right next to the empty drive bay.

So I looked around at the second hand market, and found a company that deals in used Macs.  They had another PowerMac similar to Bagheera for about $450.  With added memory the total cost came to $550.  It’s sitting beside me now, and I’ve named it Baloo. 

Baloo came vi FedEx in a huge box swaddled in what looked like spray insulation foam.  The first thing I did after unpacking it was take it up to the office and plug it into everything and boot it up, to make sure it arrived in working order.  It was running Tiger (OSX 10.4) and seemed to be in fine shape. It was only later that I discovered it was not the machine I ordered.  I had ordered a machine similar to Bagheera, a 1.8g G5 with 1g of system ram.  What I got was a 1.6g G5 with 512meg of ram.  But I’d also ordered an additional 2g of ram to put into it, so I still had enough to run a decently fast machine.  Instead of it being topped up to 3g though, it would be 2.5g. 

I spoke with the company I ordered it from and said I’d be willing to live with what they sent if I got a refund for the difference.  It was annoying, but not fatal because I had the extra memory and the difference in processors wasn’t that great.  And I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of sending it back and waiting for another one.  The company agreed to send me a refund after apologizing for the mix-up, so I’m satisfied.

I got out my Leopard install disk and did a clean reformat and install on Baloo’s system drive.  I’d saved money by buying the family license pack for two household Macs…I was saving more now by adding a third.  Problem is none of the household Macs, which are all PowerPCs, will run the upcoming "Snow Leopard" version of OSX, so the next OS upgrade, when it happens, will be a lot most costly.  But I’m not going to be in any big hurry for it.

When Mowgli died I pulled its data drive and put it in a IDE to USB converter box.  Then I hooked it up to Akela, then copied its contents over to an external Firewire drive I’d partitioned and formatted in the MacOS file system.  While I was running Akela as my front office computer, I kept the firewire drive attached to it and used that as my data drive.  With Leopard installed on Baloo, I simply unplugged the firewire drive I had connected to Akela and put it on Baloo and now I had all my data on Baloo now. At some point, I’m going to add a second data drive to Baloo and copy the firewire drive to that, and then use the firewire drive as my backup drive.  I’m going to keep the external backup drives I used with Mowgli archived in case I find I need something off of them later.  The backup drives have data backups for both the Linux and Windows systems I ran on Mowgli and not all of that was copied over to the firewire drive I have on Baloo now.  I’m also archiving the original data drive that was in Mowgli.  Baloo starts with a fresh set.  Hard drive space is cheap.

I’ve been adding the software I normally use in the front office to Baloo as I go along.  Firefox… Thunderbird… Neo Office on the Mac rather then Open Office… the NetBeans IDE for Java development…  Oh…and MoneyDance, the checkbook software I’m using lately.  MoneyDance is a Java application, so it runs on Windows, Macs and Linux, and the user license attaches to the user, not the computer.  So if I want to run it on any of the computers here at Casa del Garrett I can, provided that it’s me that’s using it, and only one instance of it is running at any given time.  Nice.

So Baloo 2 and I are getting acquainted and the process is happening just the way I expected it to…smoothly and without fuss.  Baloo was the name of my old IBM PS2 Model 80, which is headed for the recycling center soon now.  So I’ve passed the name along.  In Kipling’s Jungle Books, Baloo was the wise old teacher.  In its first incarnation, Baloo was the IBM PC I used for maintenance work on the old DOS programs I’d developed back in my early contractor years.  I had an Ethernet card in it, and actually had it networked to the other household Windows computers with a copy of Windows For Workgroups For MS-DOS.  I haven’t fired up Baloo 1 in years though.  In its second incarnation here, Baloo is the old PowerPC mac that’s taking care of my front office chores while I figure out what to do with Mowgli. 

I still need a machine I can run Windows and Linux on occasionally for work related tasks, so that’s what Mowgli may become eventually.  Or not.  I have a whole new test center facility that I’m working on at the Institute and I can use that if I need to for any Institute work.  I really don’t feel like bothering with either Windows or Linux at home anymore. 

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

July 22nd, 2009

I Don’t Understand Why They’re Calling Us Bigots Simply For Opposing The Gay Agenda

From our Department of Clueless Nitwits…

Via SLOG, The Seattle Times ran an article yesterday about how fragmented the Religious Right has become lately, and in particular over the fight against gay equality.  The general complaint among the local culture warriors, if not the big generals, is that the fight has become too negative.  Oh really?

Fuiten, senior pastor at Cedar Park Assembly of God Church in Bothell, long has been a staunch, articulate voice for conservative Christian values.

But his position on what role the church should play on gay rights is shifting, and he’s struggling to understand what God wants him to do next.

He remains against gay marriage, still sees same-sex relations as sinful, and also was against a measure passed by the Legislature this spring that expanded domestic-partnership benefits for same-sex couples.

But he has publicly opposed — and won’t sign — Referendum 71, the effort to repeal that measure, saying people are preoccupied with the economy and there’s not enough support.

More important, he said, Ref. 71 "drags us backward into a negative fight we’re not going to win."

"I don’t want the church to be viewed as oppressive, [and] as opposed to people living their lives and eking out whatever happiness they can."

Well if he’s willing to concede that gay folk are "people" now, instead of a cancer on society, God cursed abominations that want to destroy marriage and families and the very moral fabric of western civilization, I guess that’s progress.  But when you’re more concerned about how you are viewed, then the person you really are, you are going to keep missing the point of their anger. 

Senior Pastor Emeritus Jan Hettinga, 64, of Northshore Baptist Church, and an organizer of 2004’s Mayday for Marriage rally, said many at his church feel they’ve "been there and done that" on political issues, and "all we got was really, really bad press and a bad image."

The problem isn’t that you have a bad image.  Here’s the problem:

Branding the disagreement over same-sex marriage as hatred and bigotry was a smart strategy by gay-rights supporters, Hettinga said. "No Christians I know want to be considered haters.

And here’s where I just want to scream in his face.  Strategy.  Strategy.  Strategy.  You stick a knife into people’s hearts, tell them, no, scream in their faces day in and day out that they are condemned by god, call them abominations, threats to families, menaces to children, cancers on society, defilers of the sanctity of marriage, you barge into the gardens of their hopes and dreams and trash everything you can lay your hands on and when they call you haters and bigots you think that’s a fucking strategy???  No asshole, it’s called getting angry with morons who are laying waste to your inner life as if they don’t think you have one.  Still can’t see the people for the homosexuals can you?  Well…that’s how bigots are.

You don’t see people.  You see bogeymen.  You see scarecrows.  They don’t have human hearts, they have an agenda.  They don’t feel pain, they plot strategies.   They don’t love, they just have sex.  And you are not a bigot, just someone who can’t see the people for the homosexuals.  An image makeover isn’t going to solve your problem Jan.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I Don’t Understand Why They’re Calling Us Bigots Simply For Opposing The Gay Agenda

July 17th, 2009

That Book Does Not Exist

Welcome to the brave new world of digital publishing…

Amazon Removes E-Books From Kindle Store, Revokes Ownership

Today, Amazon removed George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm from its Kindle e-book store. The company also went ahead and removed any digital trace of the books, too-striking them from both users’ digital lockers and from Kindle devices.

This unusual maneuver, which Amazon says occurred because Orwell’s publisher changed its mind about offering the electronic version of these titles, is all the more unsettling simply because readers already purchased the books and had their ownership of the item revoked. In the Orwell book case, the item was simply no longer there-it was as if those Kindle users never owned it.

What book citizen?  That book does not exist.  That book never existed…

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

July 15th, 2009

The Wrong Lederhosen

I have this quirky sense of humor that (I think) alternately charms and appalls my friends.  The problem with being a nerd is you never quite know for sure when you’ve taken it too far until your friends are giving you that Oh Do Grow Up look again.  There is some subtle social sensibility you are missing, which prevents you from stumbling across the line from smart and funny into dumb and annoying. 

I have to admit…I was tempted when I saw This.  Oh…very tempted…

Novelty Bavarian Lederhosen With Yodeling Frankfurter Controls: Hurry!

 

Each 6-inch tall plastic pair of Bavarian Remote Control Lederhosen is activated by an infrared remote control knockwurst.  Press the button and the self propelled Lederhosen hops around and sings a merry yodel.

 

You can have your very own Bavarian Remote Control Lederhosen for $19.49.  Requires two AAA batteries.  Knockwurst remote control operates your Lederhosen to within 10 feet.

 

He’d probably never speak to me again…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Wrong Lederhosen


Some Of My Best Friends Are Luid…

Le Dance Pathetique…as choreographed by Linda in San Diego

Un…

I am against the gay pride parade. 

Deux…

It is never report about the luid acts that happen down and around that area.

Trois…

I had friends go down there for dinner not realizing about the parade.

Quatre…

The cops have been told to ignore these acts of luidness.

Cinq…

Please stop this gross parade.

Six…

Oh by the way I do have gay friends.

Le Curtian…Applaus a Voux…

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

July 13th, 2009

Your Friendly Neighborhood Mormon Church: Arresting Lovers One Kiss At A Time

You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.

Last week, a same-sex couple was arrested in Salt Lake City’s "Main Street Plaza".  Their crime was kissing.  That’s right.  They kissed, they got thrown on the ground, handcuffed and arrested

Matt Aune, 28, and his partner, Derek Jones, 25, crossed the plaza holding hands, according to Aune.  About 20 feet from the edge of the plaza, Aune said he stopped, put his arm on Jones’ back and kissed him on the cheek.  Several security guards then arrived and asked the pair to leave, saying that public displays of affection are not allowed on the church property, Aune and Jones said.  They protested, saying they often see other couples holding hands and kissing there.  "We were kind of standing up for ourselves.  It was obviously because we were gay."

Jones said that the guards put Jones on the ground and handcuffed him.  Aune said he was also cuffed roughly, suffering bruises and a swollen wrist.

LDC Church spokesperson Kim Farah said the two men "became argumentative," refused to leave, and used profanity.

And goodness knows no heterosexual would swear at a couple of rent-a-cops for arresting them for kissing their date.  Oh…and this all happened in a public place too…right?

Wrong

The path where they walked is officially church property, but is used as a pedestrian avenue open to the public. That’s because it was a public walkway until 2003, when, reports the Salt Lake Tribune, "in a controversial land-swap deal … the easement became private property, allowing the church to ban protesting, smoking, sunbathing and other ‘offensive, indecent, obscene, lewd or disorderly speech, dress or conduct,’ church officials said at the time. In exchange, the city got church property for a west-side community center."

Dig it.  That space was public property.  And then one day the church that teaches its flock that they too will become Gods, decided it needed more control over that public space.  So they asked the city council nicely if they could have it in exchange for some pretty worthless property somewhere else.  And all the Mormons on the city council gave it to them. 

This is what people are missing in this story.  That city space was a popular tourist zone…particularly for couples…

An LDS Church spokesperson, in a written statement, denied that the two were singled out for being gay.  "Two individuals came on church property and were politely asked to stop engaging in inappropriate behavior — just as any other couple would have been."

The spokesperson declined to comment on what is considered inappropriate behavior, and on the rules governing the plaza.

Salt Lake City sold the property to the LDS Church in the late 1990s.  It is a popular pedestrian thoroughfare, and reportedly a site where couples often pose affectionately for photos.

This isn’t about this oddball God Is A Being From Another Planet religion’s bedrock of anti-gay animus.  It’s about its need to control…well…everyone.  Mormon or not.  It wasn’t a swarm of same-sex couples all necking in that plaza that made the church decide it needed to grab ownership of it away from the public.  And this isn’t Las Vegas we’re talking about here…it’s Salt Lake City…where until just this month, by law you had to fill out an application, pay a fee and become a member of a private club before setting foot in a bar

The Mormon church has always helped shape alcohol policy here, and the change to the law this year was no different.  Only after consultation with church leaders and an agreement that DUI penalties would be stiffened, did lawmakers make progress on the changes.

The Mormon church "helps" shape all public policy in Utah.  Never mind the bible belt, which may consider itself Christian America, but isn’t under the thumb of any one particular church…it is Utah that is as close to a theocracy as can be managed under the U.S. constitution.  In Utah, the Mormon church wants, the Mormon church gets.  Whatever was going on in that plaza before the Mormon church ate it, it couldn’t have been much.  This is Salt Lake City not Key West.  But for theocrats there is never enough control, especially over lovers. 

The Salt Lake Police Department on Friday denied a request by the Salt Lake Tribune for a full police report on the incident, citing Utah laws giving them five business days to respond to records requests.

Sgt. Robin Snyder of the SLC PD refused to name the reason security guards gave for alerting police, saying it is "irrelevant."

They’re getting their stories straight.  I would bet money that every single person who had a hand in writing that police report, when it finally comes out, is a Mormon.

What you need to understand about the leaders of religions like this, is that it isn’t sin they’re waging war against.  Their sworn enemy isn’t the devil.  Theocracy hates the human heart.  And fears it.  Because the heart acknowledges no master other then Love…

 And when two lovers woo
They still say, "I love you."
On that you can rely
No matter what the future brings
As time goes by…

 

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)


Surely No One Could Believe That Stereotype…

Via Sullivan…

Brüno is, in more than one sense, beyond gay. Is any viewer really going to think that this hyperbolically crass and ridiculous narcissist—who wears mesh tops and eye-searing lederhosen, refers to his adopted African baby as a "dick magnet," and drops faux-Teutonic vulgarities about his waxed arschenhaller—represents "the mainstream of the gay community," as one troubled Hollywood "gay insider" put it?

Okay…I have a question for you.  How many top grossing box office movies can you name that honestly represented that mainstream of gay people you speak of?  How many?  No…not just a walk-on token gay character, but a movie About gay people that wasn’t full of the same stupid ignorant stereotypes that are propelling Sacha Baron Cohen’s gayface act to number one?  How many?

That one about the gay cowboys?  The one that couldn’t win an academy award because John Wayne was rolling in his grave?  The one academy members openly said they’d never vote for.  The one they made Bruno-esq jokes about at the award ceremony?  The one that got practically no cable channel airplay after it left the theaters, even though it was nominated for best picture?  That one?

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)


Editing As I Read…How To Cope With Living In A Heterosexual World…

Once upon a time my diet of fiction was huge.  In grade school I was a voracious reader of it, much to the annoyance of my teachers who often caught me at it in class when I should have been paying attention to them.  Once a dour old history teacher of mine, a man who could make World War II seem boring, caught me reading a western behind my text book and berated me for a good ten minutes in front of the whole class.  He demanded to know if my copy of Louis L’amour’s Flint was more important then history class.  It was all I could do to keep from telling him no, just his history class.

But as I have grown older my diet of fiction has dropped severely off.  Where I used to go through one or two fiction books a week, now I’m doing good if I read one or two a year.  It isn’t that I’ve stopped reading altogether.  Far from it.  I read constantly.  Between the web and the few magazines I still subscribe to, my eyes are constantly scanning words.  And I always have a book I am digesting, sometimes several, on the side table in my office with bookmarks carefully inserted.  But these are non-fiction titles.  A history of German-English relations, Death of the German Cousin, by Peter Edgerly Firchow.  A history of Walt Disney Word, Since The World Began, by Jeff Kurtti.  A history of the anti-gay witch hunts of the 1950s, The Lavender Scare, by David K. Johnson.  These are the sorts of books I read now. 

I think I know why, and it’s why I don’t like watching movies all that much anymore, or TV shows that, once again, aren’t non-fictional.  I can watch The Science Channel and The Discovery Channel and The History Channel for hours.  But very little else.  Fiction mostly bores me anymore.

At work, there is a little bookshelf in one corner of the cafeteria where staff can leave books they are finished with, for others to pick up and take home and read.  It’s a kind of informal book exchange.  When I first joined the Institute ten years ago (has it been that long?), it was just a small stack of books on a window ledge.  One day someone had left a few there with a note saying anyone who wanted one could have it.  Over the next few months some books disappeared and others were deposited to take their place.  Eventually the stack outgrew its window ledge and a small bookshelf was installed.

I check it daily, and have even fed from it a time or two.  But as I hardly read any fiction anymore my interest was mostly curiosity as to what my co-workers were reading.  As you might expect, the mix is largely science-fiction and computer technology.  There is an old Word Perfect manual there, and a Turbo-C manual, that have been waiting for a hand to lift them off the shelf and take them home now for almost as long as the exchange has been going.  About half of it cycles quickly and the rest just sits and waits for the recycling bin to come along.  But they’re like me there…loath to toss out a book that might possibly still be useful.

The other day someone left a small collection of science-fiction hardbacks, their dust covers looking almost like new.  But it was older stuff…stuff from my kidhood, when I read it voraciously.  I sorted through them and saw an interesting cover.  It was of an older man sitting in a rocking chair his front porch, reading a book to a companion who stood nearby with a coffee cup in one hand.  The man in the rocking chair seemed to be a farmer of some sort…you could see fields of wheat going off into the distance just off the porch.  His companion was a grey skinned, pointy eared bug-eyed alien.  The two of them were enjoying a restful moment looking over the book the farmer was reading.

I picked it up…it was by Clifford D. Simak titled, Way Station…I’ve never read him…and on a lark brought it home thinking I could always take it back if I got a few pages in and lost interest. 

That’s been my pattern lately with fiction and I know why.  Even back in my kidhood, most of what I read was very light on the romantic interest.  My favorite authors, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Hal Clement, and others, seldom spoke of that baffling dating and mating game, which suited me fine then, and ironically enough still would, although for a very different reason.  Action writer Alistair MacLean (of Ice Station Zebra and Guns of Navarone fame), whose books I devoured, once averred that the love interest just slowed down the action.  I wondered since if he wasn’t simply, as Clarke was, a gay man who couldn’t bring himself to write about love as he knew it, and simply left it out of his writing altogether, but I read now that he was married twice and had three kids.

Clarke, let it be said, wrote one of the most touching same-sex love stories in science-fiction in Imperial Earth.  But even then he had to make his main character bisexual, not gay and there is a female love interest too.  I pretty much just glossed over those scenes, which were gratefully few.  The scenes between the two male characters had real emotion to them.  Or at least, they did for me.

That’s been my pattern.  I pick up a book that looks interesting and as soon as it gets to the love interest I put it down.  Okay…I get that I’m living in a heterosexual world.  But it is the rare straight writer who can hold my interest while I’m reading about it.  And come to think of it, those writers have all been women.  And as more and more science-fiction writers became comfortable, insisting even, with writing about sex too, I just lost interest.  I suppose I can appreciate that heterosexuals probably don’t want to read about gay sex either.  But it would be nice if their gay neighbors had the same kind of depth to their fiction shelves.  Mary Renault is dead.  Mercedes Lackey only wrote one set of stories featuring a gay male lead.  It was wonderful, absolutely wonderful.  But then there was no more.  The various gay authors I’ve read have been mostly one hit wonders, and there is no good gay science fiction to speak of.  None.  Most of what I read these days that is fiction, are yaoi manga from Japan.  I have a bookshelf practically filled with those damn things.

So I picked up this Clifford D. Simak novel hoping that at least it was representative enough of its time that its love interest was minimal.  I got about thirty pages into it when I stumbled upon The Mute Free Spirit Girl In The Woods and thought…yeah…here it comes.  But then I did something, probably out of shear frustration, that I’ve always done when listening to pop music.  I mentally switched around a few pronouns and read it as The Mute Free Spirit Guy In The Woods and kept on reading.  What I found was I could empathize with the main character’s feelings once more, and my interest in the story perked up considerably.  And thus the pages kept turning.

I do this all the time with pop music.  It’s not always easy, particularly with rock songs that are über masculine male meets über feminine female.  But it is do-able.  Sometimes I need to substitute genderless pronouns to make the song make sense.  But in years of doing this, it comes to me almost as second-nature now…

You are all the woman I need
And baby you know it
You can make this beggar a king
A clown or a poet 

…runs through my mind as…

You are all the lover I need
And baby you know it
You can make this beggar a king
A clown or a poet 

…so easily now I hardly think about it.  This is how I cope with living in a world where 99 44/100 percent of the songs about love are songs about heterosexuals in love.  Sometimes I wonder if this is why my imagination is so potent.  I’m constantly re-imagining my pop culture environment to suit myself.  But no…I’ve been a day dreamer since well before puberty.  The imagination has kept me sane all these years.  Or at least, pleasant company. 

So I try this out on Way Station and find myself not putting the book down after all.  It’s more difficult then with rock songs, as I have to buffer the images in my mind as the words create them, then re-build them with the new pronouns, before actually looking at them.  I’m editing it on the fly and taking it in as I’m editing it. 

It’s…do-able, but hard.  With music it’s more the direct emotional content and the words are poetry and their images are meant to free-associate in your mind anyway.  You’re not building any specific image in your mind.  With a novel you are and re-casting an opposite sex love interest as a same-sex one is more mental gymnastics.  And I don’t have the genderless pronoun out I do with rock songs, when explicitly switching gender won’t make any sense.  On the other hand I don’t have to worry about how the words scan to a beat either.  

It is not that much harder, really, then what I do for a living when I’m trying to visualize program flow from computer code.  And I don’t have to do it everywhere in the novel, just when the love interest shows its face.  It’s work…I think it’s cutting my reading speed in half…but as time goes on I’ll probably get mentally faster at it.  As long as it doesn’t involve any actual sex scenes. 

I have a confession to make.  I do this all the time with favorite movies.  Not in real time though…that’s more then even my hyperactive imagination can handle.  But there are titles I could tell you about, some blockbusters, some just little niche films I happen to have liked a lot, that I have recast in my mind, mentally changing a pronoun as it were when the love interest appears, sometimes mentally re-writing huge sections of the plot, to satisfy my need for some reflection of my life and my own romantic desires in the pop culture.  I daydream these rewrites constantly, refining them a little every time I replay them in my head.  With the iPod, I can even daydream them to their actual background scores too.  These are favorite movies, but if you look on my video shelves you won’t see any of them there because I have them all stored inside my head, just the way I want them.

They say gay folk are more creative.  I think that’s more myth then fact, but if there is some truth to it, it’s because we need to be to survive.  We live in a world that is hostile at worst, and uncaring at best.  I wish there was more gay fiction out there.  There are probably tons of good gay writers out there…but it isn’t gay folk who run most of the publishing houses, let alone the Hollywood film studios.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Editing As I Read…How To Cope With Living In A Heterosexual World…

July 12th, 2009

…And Those Inbreds In Southern Comfort Were The Healthiest Society Of All…

From our We’re Not Racists We Just Believe In Racial Purity Department…

Fox News’ Kilmeade: We "marry other species," Finns "pure"

Kilmeade and two colleagues were discussing a study that, based on research done in Finland and Sweden, showed people who stay married are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s. Kilmeade questioned the results, though, saying, "We are — we keep marrying other species and other ethnics and other …"

At this point, his co-host tried to — in that jokey morning show way — tell Kilmeade he needed to shut up, and quick, for his own sake. But he didn’t get the message, adding, "See, the problem is the Swedes have pure genes. Because they marry other Swedes …. Finns marry other Finns, so they have a pure society."

You can see the video of it on Salon.  I suppose they’ll be touting the benefits of incest on FOX News next.  It doesn’t get much purer then that…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on …And Those Inbreds In Southern Comfort Were The Healthiest Society Of All…


Don’t See Much Of That Old “Virginia Is For Lovers” Slogan Anymore, Do We…?

Via Pam’s House Blend…  Remember the bad old days when a person could loose their job, simply for being gay?  Like they were only yesterday?

VA: Court rules against fired gay employee, exposes limits of Gov. Kaine’s exec order protections

Michael Moore, a former resident of Martinsville, VA said he was forced to resign from the Virginia Museum of Natural History because he is gay. The state has no anti-discrimination law, just Governor Tim Kaine’s (who is also the DNC chair) 2006 executive order. The courts have ruled that without legislation on the books, Moore has no recourse there.

Well of course the Governor’s executive order wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.  It dared to suggest that gay people are something other then human garbage.  You can bet your ass that if Kaine had ordered an anti-gay witch hunt the Virigina courts would have backed him a thousand percent, legislation or not. People think Texas is the most anti-gay state in the union, but it just gets noticed more when it does dumbshit things like raid a gay bar and crack some gay heads on the anniversary of Stonewall.

Tell me please, what this man did to deserve loosing his job.  Oh…right…he was gay and it was Virginia.  By all appearances it was an act of pure anti-gay animus on the part of the executive director of the museum, Tim Gette, who probably thinks Moore should be grateful he didn’t call the police and have him arrested for being a sodomite.  Moore had been given an employee evaluation at the time of his getting the boot, that had entitled him to a pay raise.  And then Tim was told the horrible news by someone.  Hey Tim…you have a gay guy working for you.  Imagine that…a gay guy working in a museum…

According to Moore, during his evaluation in October 2006, the museum’s executive director, Tim Gette said, “Michael, there are board members that are aware you are gay, and I do not appreciate you hiding that from me.” 

I can’t imagine why he’d have wanted to hide that fact from you Tim, considering you gave him the boot the moment you found out.  Homophobe much?  You find yourself wondering if the board members who didn’t alert Tim to the presence of a homosexual on the staff are going to get the axe next.  I do not appreciate your failure to inform me there was a homosexual on our staff…  Hey Tim…are you sure you’re the executive director and not an exhibit somewhere over in the Neanderthal section? 

Meanwhile, the Roanoke Times is wagging its finger at a statehouse that wishes its sodomy law was still enforceable…

The decision by the Martinsville court should be a convincing sign to the General Assembly that protection against such discrimination must be written into Virginia’s code. Only a law will offer genuine confidence to Virginia’s gay employees that they won’t face irrational threats to their employment based on their sexual orientation.

It would be better if such protection were guaranteed to all workers in Virginia, not just state employees, but a law making it official state policy not to discriminate against public employees because of their sexual orientation would at least be a start.

Editorial – The Roanoke Times, July 7, 2009.

I’d like to know what planet the editorial board of the Roanoke Times is living on.  An anti-discrimination law?  They expect the Virginia statehouse, which passed an anti same-sex marriage amendment so draconian, so breathtaking in its sweep that some legal experts say it could even be used to break a same-sex couple’s joint checking account…they expect That legislature to pass an anti-discrimination law?  Earlier this year the statehouse gutted an anti-bullying bill of its LGBT protections practically the instant that bill hit the floor.  You expect a state that thinks there is nothing wrong with beating up gay kids to pass an anti-discrimination law?  There something funny in the tobacco down there lately?

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)


Mercedes Love…

…still in it.

Two options I made sure to get when I bought Traveler were the fold down rear seats and the trunk liner.  I did this because the car, lovely though it is, needed to be a working member of the family too.  It’s been a welcome feature this past couple weeks as I’ve been trying hard to rid Casa del Garrett of all the excess…stuff. 

I took a load to the city recycling drop-off yesterday.  It’s an uneasy feeling driving a Mercedes-Benz carefully among the dumpster rows.  You just get the feeling the car doesn’t belong here, even though you’re just taking care of the same everyday household business your neighbors are.  But among the banged up pickup trucks loaded down with junk, the car sticks out.  What yuppy scum is this bringing his luxury car here?  What’s he throwing out…his old expresso machine?

One of the trash guys started backing up a drumpster next to where I was busy unloading Traveler.  He gets out of his truck and walks over to my car and looks carefully at the tires.  Then he asks me if they’re 19" or 17".  I’m embarrassed to admit I hadn’t a clue, but he looks more carefully at them, declares them to be 19" and says his own Mercedes has 19s too but he wasn’t sure they were right for that car.  Turned out he had a CLK he’d bought second-hand from Carmax.  If I’d had half a brain I’d have bought a used Mercedes ages ago and I’d have had one to drive then for more of my life.  The two of us chatted easily for a while about our favorite car maker before getting back to work.  We were both fans

Well.  If the trashman owns a Mercedes, I don’t have to feel so self conscious about driving mine with a load to the dump from time to time.  That’s the thing about these cars…they’re not just empty status symbols.  People in all walks of life appreciate them for their engineering.  The car gave me a reminder of that as I pulled away from the dumpster.

I’d emptied the trunk and the back seat, and flipped back up the rear seatbacks.  Then I got behind the wheel and started the engine and immediately got an alert in the speedometer display that the right rear seatback wasn’t fully latched.  So I got back out and checked it and sure enough.  Just a little nudge and it locked into place.  I’d been too offhanded about flipping the seats back up.  But it was another discovery about my car.  I’ve had it for three months shy of two years and I’m still discovering things about it.  Whatever senses the seatbacks aren’t latched has to know, somehow, the difference between all the way down and not fully up.  It isn’t like the doors where you can just throw an alert if they’re ajar when the driver starts down the road.  Sometimes the driver will drive off with the rear seat backs down because they’re taking a load somewhere.  So the car had to know I meant to latch them back up again, and hadn’t.  

And I’m sure the Daimler engineers considered it a safety issue.  Logically it isn’t a hard issue: you just test for the seat being in the upright position but not latched.  But that’s more complex then simply testing for not latched, which is all you need to do for the doors.  And I didn’t just get a generic One Of The Seatbacks isn’t latched messages, it told me which one it was.  Just like it has whenever I’ve tried to drive off with a door ajar.  I love this car.  Geeze…why haven’t I owned one of these before now…?

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Mercedes Love…


Just So We Don’t Have To Talk About What Louts We Allowed Ourselves To Become

Once upon a time, it may surprise you to learn, the American Puritan set wasn’t so afraid of the natural world.  In fact, they embraced it with a passion very much akin to the environmentalists of today.  My favorite American landscape painter, Fredric Church, embodied the thinking in those days.  His absolutely stunning landscapes were representations not merely of nature’s awesome beauty, but also of the eternal spiritual truths one may behold within.  They were revelations on canvas for "…those who have eyes to see and a mind to understand". 

In his essay, Church and Luminism: Light for America’s Elect, David C. Huntington says of Church’s painting, The Andes of Ecuador, that it is…

…a joyous paean to a divine universe.  The very composition appears to soar in exaltation.  All, as it were, becomes a resurrection.  The light of the sun expands without effort to touch and bless the whole earth.  The atmosphere itself bears the higher message of the painting.  In Cotopaxi, however, the sun must suffer for the evils of this world.

Church painted Cotopaxi in 1863 and many understood it to be a parable for the nation in the midst of a bloody civil war.  Understand, these were not your trite modern bible story paintings.  They were realistic, almost hyper realistic, awesomely beautiful landscapes.  Church twice visited South America, drew many sketches in oil on paper of the natural wonders there.  As well as any modern day naturalist, Church took pains to make sure that every detail of his landscapes were true to nature.  And yet they were created by an artist for a viewing public that took for granted that the natural world and the revelations of the Bible not only did not contradict one another, but did in fact emphasize one another. 

Cotopaxi is a geological parable, a proverb drawn from the sacred "volume in stone".  The canvas is as charged with the spirit of prophesy as is Bushnell’s discourse.  "The word, the meaning and the expression" of the great Andean volcano becomes a "revelation" to "those who have eyes to see and a mind to understand".  Cotopaxi is nature’s type for the regeneration of America.

Once upon a time in America, religion was not at war with the natural world.  In fact it was the pride of many biblical literalists that Americans held a special regard for the natural sciences.  Some even believed that it was here in North America (some said it was Yosemite Valley) that the Garden of Eden had once been located.  Much of the 19th century efforts to protect and preserve the natural wonders of America were based in no small measure on these deeply religious people’s intent to venerate that "sacred volume in stone"…

For those who will have remarked the visible absence of an explicitly Christian context in The Personal Narratives and Cosmos of Alexander von Humboldt, works which twice inspired Church to visit South America, McCosh’s treaties would seem to provide a missing link between Church’s religious and Humboldt’s secular approach to natural history.  Typical Forms and Special Ends in Creation is a dedicated Calvinist’s guide to the "Science of Design".  Geology is viewed as a Bible in stone, infallibly inscribed with the story of creation.  Like the verbal Bible, known to the generations who lived without the benefit of the new dispensation of science, the physical world is as much, so McCosh tells us, the word of God as is the word recorded by the prophets and the apostles.

And then Darwin came along and scared the steaming shit out of all of them, and they never forgave science for it.  It takes courage, and a little humility, to look God in the face and ask a question, because you might just get an answer.  Why yes Pope Urban, Gallilao and Copurnicus were right…the earth isn’t at the center of the universe after all.  And oh…by the way…neither are you… 

After Darwin, America’s religious purists retreated back into a padded room prison of Bible idolatry which has corrupted them ever since.  It is not a matter simply, of science verses the Bible.  Religion that teaches its faithful to deny any fact that contradicts its dogmas makes liars out of them.  First to themselves, then to their neighbors.  When lying to yourself becomes a daily necessity, to lie to your neighbors becomes simply a fact of life. 

Witness the routine, almost offhanded lying by the modern religious right in their war against their gay and lesbian neighbors.  A good recent example is provided by Timothy Kincaid over at Box Turtle Bulletin

Reports are coming in that some people collecting signatures in opposition to the new marriage law in Maine are doing so under false pretenses (Sun Journal):

Gerard Caron walked into the Auburn Post Office and was met by a woman with a pair of clipboards.

“This petition is against gay marriage and this other petition is to support gay marriage,” she said, according to Caron.

The Poland man said he asked her why there would be a petition to support something that already happened, referring to the petition “in support of” gay marriage.

“She just kinda gave me a little grin and didn’t say anything,” he said.

Then he looked at the two petitions and discovered they were identical, both were supporting the repeal of the same-sex marriage law, Caron said.

There is no way this person honestly made that mistake.  It was a lie.  A simple, easy, toss-off lie for Jesus.  We are doing God’s work and that means we have to lie.  Eventually the lying becomes so ingrained in one’s day to day life that it goes unnoticed.  What was a pious duty becomes a habit of two-facedness.  Thus, during the Dover Pennsylvania Intelligent Design trial, Alan Bonsell, then on the Dover Pennsylvainia school board, may have actually believed it when he told Judge John Jones that he didn’t know who the money came from to purchase copies of Of Pandas and People, a creationist textbook, even though he himself had handed his father the check for $850 to buy them…a check that a former board member had given him, from the proceedings of his church’s fund raiser for the books

The judge also wanted to know why the money needed to be forwarded to his father, why Buckingham couldn’t have purchased the books himself.

Bonsell stammered.

"I still haven’t heard an answer from you," Jones said.

"He said he’d take it off the table," Bonsell said.

"You knew you were under oath?" Jones asked at one point.

Yeah he knew he was under oath. This is what fundamentalism brings people to.  More specifically, it’s what idolatry brings people to.  They are not worshiping God the creator.  They are worshiping a book.  After Ben Stein’s film Expelled came out, National Review columnist John Derbyshire smacked out into the open what his fellow movement conservatives are loath to speak of publicly

When talking about the creationists to people who don’t follow these controversies closely, I have found that the hardest thing to get across is the shifty, low-cunning aspect of the whole modern creationist enterprise. Individual creationists can be very nice people, though they get nicer the further away they are from the full-time core enterprise of modern creationism at the Discovery Institute. The enterprise as a whole, however, really doesn’t smell good. You notice this when you’re around it a lot. I shall give some more examples in a minute; but what accounts for all this dishonesty and misrepresentation?

My own theory is that the creationists have been morally corrupted by the constant effort of pretending not to be what they are. What they are, as is amply documented, is a pressure group for religious teaching in public schools.

The shifty…  That’s it exactly.  It’s the shifty.  But Derbyshire doesn’t dig deeply enough into the cause.  It isn’t simply creationists are pretending not to be a religious pressure group.  Morality in the fundamentalist world is a constant struggle to have it both ways.

All this was churning in my thoughts the other day when I came across this post by Marv Knox, Editor of the Baptist Standard.  Marv thinks it’s time for Baptists to talk about homosexuality.  Here’s what talking looks like to Marv…

I’m not a geneticist or a biologist, so I don’t know if someone is “born homosexual.” I do know many homosexuals who swear they did not choose their orientation and never would choose to feel this way. Still, a direct reading of Scripture says sexual relations are designed by God to be enjoyed between one woman and one man exclusively within the bonds of marriage. While I empathize with the pain and grief of homosexual friends, I believe the Bible says their option is to remain celibate. I do not belittle their suffering, because the sex drive is one of the most powerful forces on Earth, but I also cannot ignore what seems to me the plain teaching of Scripture. Likewise, I do not feel their same-sex yearnings alone comprise sin. Humans are responsible for actions, not feelings. So, we must differentiate between homosexuality and homosexual activity.

There’s lots here to unpack, but if the first thing that strikes you is how shallow this man’s empathy is for his gay "friends" you don’t grasp what it means to talk about…well…anything, in fundamentalist circles.  It all comes back to the bible, and ultimately there is no talk because there are no questions.  Questions aren’t permitted.  Only answers.  Does your job bite?  Well, Ephesians 6:5-8!  Are credit card companies ripping off the public?  Well, Psalm 37:21!  Origin of the species?  Well, Genesis 1:20!  Homosexuality?  Well, Leviticus 20:13! 

Talk about homosexuality? Sure…as long as we already know what the answers will be.  Talk to homosexuals?  By all means…to save them. You can talk all you want as long as you don’t listen.

Marv empathizes with the pain and grief of his homosexual friends.  Some of my best friends are…  But he is also perfectly willing to join in the pummeling of them because that’s what the bible tells him he must do.  This he regards as friendship.  Look at that, if you have the nerve.  His "friends" are in pain and grief.  Marv is not looking the other way while they suffer.  He’s looking right at it, adding his own righteous measure to it, and calling that empathy.  He must.  The bible calls us to love our neighbor, and to kill the homosexual…

Mark 12:31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. 

Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. 

"A direct reading of scripture" says both these things.  We must love.  We must kill.  Therefore, to love the homosexual, is to kill them.  Or at least, to make sure they understand that God condemns them.

And let it be said that gay people are killed every year in this country by murderers who claim some measure of justification in the bible’s condemnation of homosexuality.  But while actually killing his homosexual neighbor may be more then Marv’s conscience will endure, twisting the knife in their hearts can be seen as a kind of tough love, the moral qualms at seeing yourself doing it washed, washed, washed away in the knowledge that you are simply obeying God’s will.  That isn’t you bringing pain and grief into the lives of your homosexual neighbors, it’s the fallen state of humanity…it’s Satan…it’s God’s will…not mine…  I am twisting this knife into your heart because God wants me to love you…

Once upon a time the righteous believed that God’s will could be seen in nature’s design.  Then one day nature informed them they weren’t the center of the universe and they turned away in anger.  But as Jacob Bronowski once said, when you discard the test of fact in what a star is, you discard in it what a human is.  The commandments were not written on the stone, but in the stone, and in the light of the sun and stars, and in the songs of birds, and the color of the tiger’s eyes and the fish’s scales, and in our flesh and blood and bones, and in our hearts.  To turn away from the natural world is to turn away from your human identity, and everything fine and noble a human being can become.  Then you enter the wasteland, where inflicting pain and grief upon your neighbor is regarded as loving them…where the death of love is embraced as the purest essence of it.  No Marv, let’s not talk about homosexuality.  Let’s talk about how you became so callow.  You need to understand why that happened.

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

July 10th, 2009

Today In Drunken Germans…

Via SLOG.  Poor little guy just couldn’t wait for Oktoberfest…

Drunk badger blocks traffic

Road kill reported by a driver in the German state of Lower Saxony turned out to be a drunk badger taking a nap, police in Goslar reported on Wednesday morning.

Late on Monday night, a driver reported what he thought was a dead animal on county road 32 near Groß Döhren to police.

But when officers arrived on the scene to remove the traffic obstruction, they were stunned to find that the animal was not dead or injured.

“Right in the middle of the street there was a badger sitting and staring at the officers incredulously,” a police statement said.

The officers quickly discovered that the animal – which was not frightened by their presence – had been snacking on the overripe cherries on a nearby tree.

“The animal’s belly digested the fruit to alcohol and the badger was, as the saying goes, ‘drunk as a blackbird’,” the statement said, adding that the little mammal was also suffering from “diarrhoea containing cherry pits.”

Officers directed the badger off of the road, where he could “sleep off his intoxication in a meadow.”

The Local, Germany

Well of course they let it go on its way.  Who wants to arrest a badger for public drunkenness?  You’d get your hands chewed off.

Good thing it was the happy peaceful kind of drunk and not the loud belligerent kind.  Just imagine walking home from a night out at the bars and suddenly encountering a drunken pissed off badger…

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

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