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Archive for June, 2013

June 26th, 2013

The Untruth At The Heart Of It

“At the heart of the gay marriage argument is an untruth: unions of two men or women are not the same as unions of husband and wife. The law cannot make it so, it can only require us to paint pretty pictures to cover up deep truths embedded in human nature.”

-Maggie Gallagher, still trying to paint a pretty picture over the untruth at the heart of the anti-gay agenda, that Homosexuals Don’t Love, They Just Have Sex…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Untruth At The Heart Of It

Too Young To Know?

This came across my news feed this morning…

Gay teens? Pew survey confirms gays may suspect their sexual orientation by elementary school

Joshua’s mother, Beatrice Padilla, said, “I always knew in my heart he was going to grow up to be gay.” That didn’t mean, however, she was prepared to learn that day had arrived when her son was in just the fifth grade.

When the boy timidly asked, “Is there something wrong with me?” though, she rallied:

“You eat like everyone else, you sleep like everyone else, you go to school like everyone else. You’re no different,” she said.

He’s now 15 and says that while he never doubted his mother would be supportive, “I don’t think telling a parent at any age gets any easier.”

This is such an old story and I have heard it told and retold among gay people ever since I can remember:  I knew I was different in some fundamental way even then, I just didn’t have the words to express it… I don’t think there is a single one of us who hasn’t heard it over and over and over.  It’s my truth too.  In first grade I knew I liked guys in some distinct way that set me apart from the others and that if I talked about it too much I would get in trouble.

But blabber mouth little young me couldn’t always keep it in.  I remember being teased once by my other classmates about a girl and getting pissed off about it I blurted out that I didn’t like girls, and one of the girls said, “Oh, then you like boys I guess.” and everyone laughed.

I blushed.  Fiercely.  Which only made them laugh more.  Everyone has these school days memories they would rather forget.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Too Young To Know?

Excuses Are Not Mistakes

This from Slate…

Scalia the Mullah: The justice’s misunderstanding of morality, and how it leads him astray in cases about homosexuality.

In a speech last week titled “Mullahs of the West: Judges as Moral Arbiters,” Justice Antonin Scalia told the North Carolina Bar Association that the court has no place acting as a “judge moralist” in issues better left to the people. Since judges aren’t qualified—or constitutionally authorized—to set moral standards, he argued, the people should decide what’s morally acceptable.

…and so on.  Nathanial Frank pegs it at the end of this piece, thusly:

Morality is not just whatever views a majority has long held, and it’s not simply what you learned on your mother’s knee or whatever it says in your faith’s scripture. Moral belief is a grounded judgment about what harms or helps living things.

(emphasis mine)  That.  Which leads to this:  Scalia, like a lot of homophobes, does not have a misunderstanding about morality; he has an assortment of smokescreens he hides his prejudices behind, that he calls morality.

They do that in the kook pews and that is why their moral judgements seem so haphazard and contradictory: They’re not making moral judgements, they’re jerking their knees, dancing from one thing to another to whatever tune their prejudices call.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Excuses Are Not Mistakes

June 25th, 2013

All You Need To Know About Them Is They Are Your Fellow Americans

It’s spit on atheists day at Time Magazine.  Joe Klein steps up to the plate…

Time’s Joe Klein Takes Obligatory, Inaccurate Cheap Shot At Nonbelievers

While discussing the aftermath of last month’s tornadoes in Oklahoma, Klein writes:

But there was an occupying army of relief workers, led by local first responders, exhausted but still humping it a week after the storm, church groups from all over the country — funny how you don’t see organized groups of secular humanists giving out hot meals…

Yeah…funny that. But as that Huffington Post article says, it isn’t true.

At the Friendly Atheist blog, Hemant Metha runs off a list of other post-tornado aid efforts from humanist organizations:

— Foundation Beyond Belief raised over $45,000 for Operation USA and the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

— Atheists Giving Aid raised over $18,000 that will be given to local relief groups in Moore, Oklahoma and directly to families that need help.

— Members of the FreeOK atheist group helped families who needed wreckage removed from their property.

— Local atheist groups such as the Oklahoma Atheists, Atheist Community of Tulsa, the Lawton Area Secular Society, Norman Naturalism Group, and the Oklahoma State Secular Organization have organized volunteers, resources, and blood drives.

— Organizers of the FreeOK conference going on this weekend held a literacy drive yesterday to “benefit the schools affected” by the tornadoes.

There were more examples in that article from Red Dirt Report, and also this which struck me as soon as I read it as eminently typical of the sort of people Klein is holding up as selfless godly saints…

Red Dirt Report also relays an unfortunate anecdote in which members of a religious organization called Freedom Assembly of God walked off a cleanup site after learning that the volunteers working next to them were atheists. They apparently couldn’t bring themselves to work alongside nonbelievers, even to help a family whose home had just been destroyed.

Charles de Gaulle once said that patriotism is where love of country comes first, and nationalism is where hatred of everyone else comes first. In the same vein American is where love of your fellow countryman comes first and Christianist is where hatred of everyone outside your church comes first. You can be one but not both.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on All You Need To Know About Them Is They Are Your Fellow Americans

June 24th, 2013

Let’s Have A Conversation Past Each Other

A Facebook friend posted this graphic a short while ago…

Some days I think I’m the only person in the world who sees the various factions in the argument over gun control talking past each other so…Devotedly.  Actually, yeah, people do talk about banning the private ownership of guns, usually in the context of saying that it would be impractical at this time or that, like a lot of other idealistic notions it just isn’t practical, so let’s do what we can today.  In other words, gosh wouldn’t it be nice if nobody had guns.  Well, some of us think not so much, and we’re not all Ted Nugent crackpots or Moloch worshipers.  So what some folks insist The Other Side should be paying attention to is “we don’t want to take all your guns away” and the what other folks are paying attention to is that “at this time” or “because it isn’t practical” and so it goes.

Yes we can talk.  We can for sure talk about how wonderful a world where nobody but the government can own a weapon, and no I am not an anti-government crank, I am a liberal FDR democrat and I believe that our best defense against tyranny is the ballot box and if you don’t use that wisely your damn household arsenal will not save you and I don’t care how big it is.  I am a liberal FDR union supporting social safety net defending equality for all Americans democrat and I don’t see how rendering the common man and woman defenseless improves their lives much.  However I Can see how sensible regulation of firearms does.  But of course sensible is in the eye of the beholder.  Convince me.

Yes, we can talk.  We can talk about what sensible gun regulation is.  But to have That conversation it would be helpful to hear some general agreement that the second amendment does in fact confer a right on individual citizens to own guns.  No more of this “what part of ‘well regulated militia don’t you understand’ crap. What part of “the people” don’t You understand. How about: “We agree people have a basic democratic right to own their own firearms. But like a lot of basic democratic rights that isn’t absolute either.  Freedom of speech for example, doesn’t mean you can shout ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.  It doesn’t mean you can slander someone without there being consequences.  The right to own a gun isn’t absolute, and especially so where our commonly shared public spaces are involved.  Simply requiring a background check does not infringe on your right to own a gun, it just means that right comes with the responsibility to be peaceful and law abiding.  Everyone has to be that.  Simply restricting the capacity of ammunition clips does not infringe on your right to own a gun, it just means that your gun is for your personal protection not for criminal activity, waging armed rebellion, or terrorism.  Simply restricting weapons fit only for military uses to just the military does not infringe on your right to own a gun, it just means if you want to be a soldier you need to join the Army. But yes, you have a basic second amendment right to own a gun.” Yeah…if only we could have that conversation. But it isn’t just one side of the argument that isn’t interested.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

June 17th, 2013

Look…Up In The Sky…

I will probably not bother with the new Superman flick. I only watched one of the recent Batman movies because of Keith Ledger’s stunning Joker. Mark Hamill does an equally good voice characterization for the cartoon series (go find the YouTube where a fan asks Hamill to do his Joker saying that “Why so serious?” line and the crowd goes wild.)

It’s that Batman cartoon series that’s clarifying for me. It works because its setting is a Gotham City that stylistically could be both today and yesterday. That 1930s-ish styling makes it work and that’s because that’s the period that character emerged from in the comics. These characters, Superman, Batman, and so forth, belong in the timeframe they were created in. That is where they make the most sense. Notice how modern film makers (and comic book producers) struggle with updating their costumes. Those costumes reflected those of circus strongmen and trapeze artists, and were instantly recognizable and believable to the readers of that time. Nowadays they just seem…weird.

Instead of updating the old superheroes we should set their stories in the times they were born, and create new ones for our own. Were I to do a Superman series I would start with his being found by a childless couple in rural Smallville, sometime in the 1920s, when the information highway was the daily newspaper and the vacuum tube radio in the living room. You wouldn’t have to make him a god to make him believable as an awe inspiring figure in a world that didn’t know what we know about time and space. He was a child from a lost world raised on Earth to be one of us. But he was different, he could fly, he had x-ray vision, he could bend steel in his bare hands, bullets just bounced off him. That was amazing back then and I believe there are still lots of good stories, relevant stories, you could tell about that character without having to make him more than he was to fit into a 21st century he really does not belong to.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Look…Up In The Sky…

Couldn’t You At Least Pretend We Have Facts On Our Side?

This comes across my Google news stream this morning…

Study Finds Supportive Tilt to Gay Marriage Coverage

News organizations are far more likely to present a supportive view of same-sex marriage than an antagonistic view, according to a content study by the Pew Research Center to be released on Monday.

Yes, yes… I hear they take a pretty positive stance on the theory that the Earth is round too.

We’ll be hearing all about how this proves the news media is biased against Christians from the kook pews for years to come, but what’s happening is that the Proposition 8 trial pretty much destroyed the idea that the case against same-sex marriage has anything to support it other than animus.  Think back to how completely taken by surprise so much of the press seemed to be after that trial was over, that there wasn’t more to the case against letting same sex couples marry.  Those of us who have been in this struggle for decades knew exactly how empty their rhetoric was, how utterly bogus was their junk science.  For decades they’ve been burying the political debate in bullshit and you have to admire how energetically they went about it.  Their think tanks and research institutes produced tons and tons of deceptive, mendacious, carefully crafted bullshit and the fact that there was just so damn much of it coming out of them seemed to convince even tolerant middle of the road types that there was something to it, that homosexuality was if not an abomination, at least a tragic outcome that ought not to be encouraged if possible.  And then came the trial, and they had to put all of that bullshit on the witness stand…

“In a court of law you’ve got to come in and you’ve got to support those opinions, you’ve got to stand up under oath and cross-examination,” Boies said. “And what we saw at trial is that it’s very easy for the people who want to deprive gay and lesbian citizens…to make all sorts of statements and campaign literature, or in debates where they can’t be cross-examined.

“But when they come into court and they have to support those opinions and they have to defend those opinions under oath and cross-examination, those opinions just melt away. And that’s what happened here. There simply wasn’t any evidence, there weren’t any of those studies. There weren’t any empirical studies. That’s just made up. That’s junk science. It’s easy to say that on television. But a witness stand is a lonely place to lie. And when you come into court you can’t do that.

“That’s what we proved: We put fear and prejudice on trial, and fear and prejudice lost.” -David Boies

There were never any facts.  It was always about prejudice.  It was always about hate.  That’s not trivial.  Hate has motivated the passage and enforcement of laws that persecute homosexuals for generations.  But hate is factual only in the sense that it exists, not that its excuses are themselves factual.

So another way of putting the outcome of that Pew study is that news organizations are likely to give greater weight to the facts than to bullshit, even passionately squawked bullshit.  And that’s because, at least in theory, newspapers are supposed to report the facts.  And there are no facts that support bans on same-sex marriage.   There are only myths, lies and superstitions.  Those are the facts.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Couldn’t You At Least Pretend We Have Facts On Our Side?

June 16th, 2013

New Soylant Emerald, With The Taste Of Real People

Fake eggs with odd yellow shade spotted in Singapore

“Early this morning I wanted to cook some Maggie mee, and I found that this egg looks like the kind of fake eggs I saw in videos from China.

“Is the fake egg scam in Singapore now?”

The fake potato chip, cheese and lemonade scams have been here in the U.S. for decades now.  Fake chocolate coming soon so I hear.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on New Soylant Emerald, With The Taste Of Real People

When Mr. Fixit Is Done With You, You’re Done

I learn some lessons the hard way, usually by way of stubbornness.  I hate the idea of just throwing things that break away, even if the cost of buying it in the first place was cheap. But I have spent too much money and time trying to fix a bunch of cheap solar lawn ornaments only to find that despite my best efforts none of them were fixable.

First came the solar powered tiki lamps…

I immediately fell in love with the idea of having backyard lights that ran off solar.  Whimsical decoration seemed wasteful to be running off the electrical grid, especially in the summer months when the city grid is already stressed.  And I wanted my little alleyway backyard to be lively.  The moment I laid eyes on these at the hardware store I had to have them.

At first they really did the trick.  But after several rains the first generation of Casa del Garrett solar tiki lamps started to fail.  When the first one did I examined its construction, opened it up and poked at it with a multi-meter and determined that the little CDS photocell that switched the circuit from Charge The Battery to Shine The Lights had gone bad and I actually went to a Radio Shack (amazingly the chain still sells parts) and bought replacements and soldered them in.  Worked for a while but then something else failed in the tiny circuit board and that was that.  But, typical Bruce, instead of just tossing the bad ones I saved them for parts. Next year I bought new ones and discovered they’d changed the design and now they didn’t use CDS cells to switch on the lights, they apparently figured out when nighttime came from the voltage coming off the solar cell.  Okay, thinks I, that’s a better design and maybe I can use those spare CDS cells I have now for some other future project.  This is how hoarding nightmares begin I guess.

Next year I bought some more solar ornaments.  The makers were getting creative and I kept seeing things I wanted for the backyard…

These all failed eventually too, either due to rainwater getting inside and corroding the electronics or from overheating in the direct sunlight. (who’d have thought solar powered lawn ornaments would be exposed to direct sunlight…right?).  This year when I began waking up the backyard from its winter slumber, most of my solar ornaments were dead.  Stubbornly I resolved to fix everything rather then trash what stopped working and buy new.  But despite my best efforts at reviving them most would not light anymore, or hold a charge for very long and some things died tragically on the operating table. The tiki lamps were the worst, but everything I tried to fix this year ended up dead. It seems while this stuff is sold for outdoor use, it is not made for outdoor use.

Meanwhile I had spent lots of money on parts, acrylic paint because these things also fade drastically in the sunlight (who’d have thought solar powered lawn ornaments would be exposed to direct sunlight?) and a new soldering gun for cutting into the hot glue gobs that hold these things together.

But the worst of it was all the time I spent trying to fix these things.  Hours and hours and hours of poking and cutting and soldering and repainting things that I eventually had to throw away anyway because I could not get them working again. Wires that were too tiny to suffer more than factory assembly would come apart in my hands. Batteries would simply stop recharging because the circuit boards had suffered too much water damage, or were failing due to heat buildup from sitting outside all day long in the direct sun (who’d have thought solar powered lawn ornaments would be exposed to direct sunlight?).  And now I’m kicking myself for having spent too many hours of my life this summer trying to fix junk when I had so many other projects around the house that needed my attention too.

I bought this stuff because I liked they way it decorated my backyard.  Instead of some dark city rowhouse alleyway yard I had something that livened up the place and looked nice to the eye.

It’s hard to admit defeat but I tell myself that throwing plastic junk away these days isn’t so bad since the city has a recycling program.  Maybe some of this stuff will come back as something more useful and long lasting.  Plastic trash cans maybe.

I still want light and fun in my backyard, so now I’m looking around for things that run off the same sort of low voltage wiring that path lights use.  I have two lighted water fountains out back now that run off the grid. I had to repaint one of those before deploying it this season but that’s not so bad a task. The solar stuff is junk. If you go with that then expect to have to replace it every season and don’t be surprised if some of it doesn’t even make it to the end of the summer you bought it. The idea of this stuff running off solar is nice but a carbon foot print is not greatly reduced by products that only last one or two seasons and then they have to be thrown away or recycled.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on When Mr. Fixit Is Done With You, You’re Done

June 15th, 2013

Staff…That’s What I Am…Staff…

They say cats don’t have owners, they have staff, and the same might be said of little Baltimore rowhouses…like on days like today when the sky is blue and the air is clear and clean and crisp and your car says Come with me and see what we can see and your cameras say Oh, Oh, Take Us, Take Us Too! and the house says Not On Your Life You Don’t you have grass to mow and railings to paint and concrete to patch and seal!

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Staff…That’s What I Am…Staff…

Mercedes Love…

“The Mercedes-Benz diesel-powered mid-size sedan is as durable a notion as you’ll find in autodom. Mercedes created the world’s first production diesel-powered passenger car in 1935 and began putting oil burners in its mid-sizers (a.k.a. Pontons) in 1955. The very words “Mercedes diesel” conjure all kinds of associations, from college professors who have forsaken their Peugeots, to wiry German mechanics, to cab drivers in Kabul. It’s an archetype; a 911 Turbo for meerschaum-smoking squares, a Shelby Mustang for people who got beat up in high school…” –Eddie Alterman, Car and Driver.

“One thing I feel most passionately about: love of invention will never die.” –Karl Benz

“The best or nothing.” –Gottlieb Daimler

“When you get into the car and time stands still for a second – that’s my dream car.” –unknown

…still in it.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Mercedes Love…

June 11th, 2013

How It All Ends

This from Truth Wins Out…

Anti-Gay Activist Exhorts Father To Destroy Relationship With His Eleven Year-Old Gay Son

Several weeks ago, Tennessee student Marcel Neergaard made a lot of news when he, at the ripe old age of eleven, led a campaign to have an education award rescinded from vehemently anti-gay Tennessee lawmaker John Ragan…

Bullied eleven year old stands up to political bullies in the Tennessee statehouse.  It’s a very heartwarming story.  And there’s a follow-up everyone should have expected, but I’ll bet his parents didn’t completely…

Sharon Kass is one of the strangest anti-gay activists out there. As far as I can tell, she’s never actually held any official position with an anti-gay organization, so she’s not making money off of being unhinged. But unhinged she is. That may be putting it lightly…

She wrote a letter to the kid’s parents.  You can read it in full at the link above and be completely disgusted, as any sane person would be.  But this is how the struggle ends.  This is how the heterosexual majority finds out this fight has always been between all that is fine and noble in the human heart, verses the human gutter.

It has always been that fight.  We win it when heterosexuals finally come to see we all share a common human heart after all.  And when they do, they become the enemy too, and the gutter will turn on them as well.  And when they finally, Finally see the honest face of what has been preaching at them all these centuries, this fight is over.  That is how the story of this struggle ends.

Not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with a tiny little tin voice babbling on and on and on and on and on about gayism.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on How It All Ends

A Wee Pride Month Reminder

…and you are beautiful.  Just sayin’.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Wee Pride Month Reminder

June 9th, 2013

Mercedes Love

…still in it.

Something I try to do to Spirit once a month is clean and condition its vinyl and leather upholstery and the rubber gaskets around the doors, hood and trunk. The steering wheel is wrapped in a nice soft leather but the rest of the car is the legendary MB Tex upholstery which a lot of Mercedes affectionados will recommend over the leather because it lasts longer and is easier to clean. But something in my body oils dries up and hardens vinyl severely.

I discovered this effect back when I was a teenager, on the Koss Pro 4AA headphones I happened to love the sound of.  I was always having to buy new ones every a couple years because of what my skin oils did to the ear pads.  Those really nice soft vinyl ear pads would become rock hard and useless after a couple years just from contact with my skin and you couldn’t just buy new ear pads. Eventually even the cable connecting the headphones to the stereo would harden and start coming apart wherever my fingers touched it and then the headphones were finished and I would have to buy new ones.

So, decades later and two years after I bought it, the driver’s seat on my ‘C’ class, Traveler, began to harden and crack where my bare legs touched it in the summer while wearing cutoffs and when I took it in for repair my dealer said he’d never seen that happen to MB Tex before, and I remembered what my skin oils did to all the Koss headphones I used to own.

So now that I have Spirit, my ‘E’ class Dream Come True car, I do a careful cleaning and conditioning of my driver’s seat and while I’m at it I do the rest of the car too.  I have it down to a routine now.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Mercedes Love

I Can Fix It!

Today’s backyard task is getting the water fountains running and mow the expansive Casa del Garrett lawn. I have two small illuminated water fountains for the backyard, one shaped to look like a small polished ball of granite with a section cut out of the top where the water percolates. It’s actually made of plastic…a real granite one would have been too heavy and too expensive. But it looks very convincing. Before putting it all away last winter I hosed it down and discovered to my dismay that the paint was flaking off. So one task today is to repaint those areas, matching the original simulated granite coloring.

So all that time spent in the 1980s as an architectural model maker, making realistic models of buildings and lobbies to be made from various materials from the samples I was given, is still paying off.   Or maybe it’s the years before that I spent painting imaginary landscapes.  Anyway, I am not buying another water fountain just because the paint flaked off this one when I washed it down last year.

Last year I bought a small planter shaped and painted to look like a rock, and this spring when I began waking up the backyard garden I saw that it had started coming apart, probably because even though they sold it here in Maryland, it wasn’t made to take below freezing temperatures. The plaster it was made of was cracking and coming apart and when I got done removing all the loose plaster about half the outside of it was a mess. So I bought some plaster of Paris and reshaped it. But then I cheated and bought some Rustoleum rock textured spray paint because so much of it was gone I really didn’t need to match much that was still there.

I still have several outdoor solar light things I need to fix. There’s a solar turtle whose shell lights up at night…it’s lamp is apparently broken and, surprise, surprise, the only way I have of replacing it is cutting a hole in the bottom of the turtle. They just glue everything together now and expect you to throw it away when it breaks. Also, I have a statue of a boy with a jar of lightning bugs that I’ve had for a few years now. His jar lights up at night but the batteries inside are not holding much of a charge anymore and, surprise, surprise, there is no way to replace them other then I somehow melt off the hot glue holding his on off button panel and get inside. Plus, years of summer sun have faded his paint and now he is looking a bit anemic. So I need to repaint him and put in a fresh battery. I have no idea what I’m going to find when I get inside there, and I’m still not sure how I’m going to open up the turtle; the plastic they cast it out of is pretty thick.

I suppose you could say I’m wasting the precious minutes of my life fixing things I could just as easily buy new, but I can’t bring myself to throw something away that I can fix. I could spend the money but money is also time out of my life in the sense that I had to work for it, and I’ve already spent money on these things so throwing them away when I could fix them would amount to wasting a part of my life too.  But deep down inside I just can’t stand the idea of throwing things away that can be fixed.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I Can Fix It!

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