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Archive for May, 2016

May 23rd, 2016

Like A Good Neighbor, State Farm Will Pick Your Pocket…(continued)

Seriously starting to consider consulting with a lawyer about State Farm Insurance and Scott Garvey, the agent(s) that’s been screwing around with me.

1) I got a letter from the Maryland Insurance Administration concerning my protest of their rate hike on my policy, for damage to my car while it was parked in front of my house, that was caused by a neighbor. State Farm (you may recall) said they were raising my rate because they had to pay out. Yes, because I chose to work the claim through them rather than the other agency I did not trust. But they got their money back from the other agency, including my deductable. So the MD Insurance Administration apparently got them to agree to roll it back and refund the extra.

Well, it’s been two months and not only have I not seen a refund, the next six month bill came last week and it is Even More than the previous one. So soon I will be sending another letter to the MD Insurance Administration, basically telling them that State Farm is giving them the finger.

2) Whilst shopping for another insurance carrier, I discover that State Farm posted my claim to the Lexus-Nexus database as an “accident” claim rather than a “comprehensive” claim. That’s significant because “accident” raises the rates other agencies will quote me. But since the car was parked when it happened it should have been posted as “comprehensive”. So I’ve been given a number to call Lexus-Nexus and now I have to challenge that too. Which of course I will.

Enough of this crap and you get the sense that it isn’t merely bureaucratic clusterfuck, it’s policy and the company really is predatory by nature.

[Update…] Even allowing that I’m being quoted higher prices because State Farm posted my claim as an “accident”, the prices I’m being quoted for the same coverage are still Hundreds of dollars less over a six month term. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Like A Good Neighbor, State Farm Will Pick Your Pocket…(continued)

May 15th, 2016

A Small Measure Of Justice

This came across my Facebook stream just now…

Germany To Pardon More Than 50,000 Men Convicted Of Homosexuality

The German government has announced it will overturn the convictions of tens of thousands of gay men jailed before homosexuality was decriminalized.

“The historic convictions are wrong. They are deeply hurtful to human dignity,” said Justice Minister Heiko Maas. “We cannot completely completely undo these outrages of the rule of law, but we want to rehabilitate the victims.”

More than 50,000 gay men were convicted between 1946 and 1969, when homosexuality was decriminalized in both East and West Germany. Those men “should no longer have to live with the stain of a criminal record,” says Maas.

Some years ago, shortly after it was dedicated, I went to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to sit in on a series of lectures spread out over three days concerning the history of the persecution of homosexuals during the Third Reich. By then I’d already learned some of that history via a few books I’d found at Deacon Maccubbin’s Lambda Rising bookstore, and various articles in the gay press, and already the size and scope of how our history had been suppressed was stunning me. The lectures at the USHMM added to my understanding of the events surrounding the pink triangles, and more importantly, gave me their context in the greater turmoil that gripped Germany then.

The presenter was a young German scholar who had been studying the persecution of gays during that period. He had shown us several video interviews he’d made of camp survivors who’d worn the pink triangle, and said that as they aged it was important to get as much on the record as soon as possible. But he said, many of the men were still too ashamed or too closeted and were very reluctant to talk. After the war they had not been freed, but made to serve out the prison terms imposed on them by the Fascists, who had themselves rewritten many of the Wiemar Republic laws to make them harsher. Those criminal records had followed them for the rest of their lives he said, making it difficult for them to find work and places to live. And Germany kept their sodomy laws on the books…East Germany until 1957, and West Germany until 1969. So had any of these men been arrested again during that time they would have been facing repeat offender penalties.

So during one of the question and answer periods I asked him if there was any effort being made back in Germany to erase their records so they wouldn’t have it hanging over them anymore.

He almost laughed and said it didn’t matter since they were so old now. The implication being the only reason for doing so would be to make it easier for them to have sex. Well that raised my hackles a tad and raising my voice I said it was a matter of simple human dignity to take the criminal record off them and especially so if you didn’t think the Nazis had any right doing that to them in the first place. He dismissed me in the way Germans do to Ausländer who obviously don’t understand How Things Are Done, saying that there was no such effort being made at that time and there are more importing issues to concern ourselves with.

So anyway…they’re finally getting around to it. At some point it might be nice for the United States to get around to apologizing too, for not doing the decent thing back then and just letting those survivors of the Holocaust go free, even if they did happen to be homosexual.

gay in 1930s germany

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Small Measure Of Justice

May 12th, 2016

The Proof In The Hate Pudding

Paul Krugman is, as usual, shines a spotlight on something that in normal circumstances wouldn’t need a spotlight for everyone to see it…

Paul Krugman: Trump is appealing to aggrieved white men by lying to them (Salon)

Both parties make promises to their bases. But while the Democratic establishment more or less tries to make good on those promises, the Republican establishment has essentially been playing bait-and-switch for decades. And voters finally rebelled against the con.

What Donald Trump has been doing is telling the base that it can order à la carte. He has, in effect, been telling aggrieved white men that they can feed their anger without being forced to swallow supply-side economics, too…

The truly interesting thing is how abruptly, how completely, the religious right became irrelevant in the Trump onslaught. Your gay and lesbian neighbors have questioned the sincerity of religious objections to gay equality for decades, and here I think is the proof in the pudding. It was, in the main, never about religious belief. Religion was just an excuse…something to wrap their bar stool prejudices in so they wouldn’t have to see a bigot staring back at them in the bathroom mirror. See it now. When it came time to choose between the religious fanatic and mount a grand crusade against Satan for the glory of god, or the fascist demagogue who gave them permission to glory in their cheapshit prejudices, the bulk of the voters ran immediately to the demagogue. And now the fundamentalist true believers suddenly find the pews are looking a tad empty.

There’s what was going on all this time. All that talk of a moral majority. All that talk of a Christian nation. All that talk about putting god back in the classroom, and in the seats of government. All those ten commandment monuments that sprang up all over the country in the years since Brown v. Board of Education…at the same time public swimming pools were being buried rather than let the colored kids swim there too. All those private Christian schools…with their prohibitions against interracial dating. I’ve no doubt that religious fervor moved a great many who gravitated to the republican party over the decades and felt nothing but contempt and scorn for the morals they saw in the world around them. But it is a peculiar sort of Christianity that has no charity either, toward the poor, the stranger, the outcast, and it was never a force in numbers. Not by itself.  

It turns out that many who sat with them in the pews and sang the hymns and put some money in the plate had simply adopted the brand, for lack of anything else capable of preserving their self respect. We are not racists. We are not bigots. We are Christians.  As soon as a messiah came to deliver them from that bondage they flocked to him in relief, without even a goodbye and thanks for all the grape juice and crackers.

There’s what was going on all that time. There’s what was going on.

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

May 9th, 2016

Trying Something Different For A Coming Out Story Episode 20

It’s been slow going getting these episodes out. In part that’s because I have a job that uses up a lot of my daily reserves of concentration. In part it’s the roller coaster from hell I’ve been put on since I re-connected with the object of my affections back then. And truthfully, in part because I never really know exactly how I’m going to do an episode until I’ve finished it. Many of the episodes I’ve finished in the past few years have had bits tacked on the front and back, and some dialogue reworked, as I’ve come to understand the material better.

I want to try something different with episodes 20 and 21. Instead of doing all the pencils and inks and finishing up the entire episode before posting it. Hopefully it will seem like installments of a weekly (or semi weekly) comic strip until each episode is complete. I think given the scripts for these two episodes that’ll work.

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Trying Something Different For A Coming Out Story Episode 20

May 4th, 2016

The Last Clown Waves Goodbye To The Crowd, And The Darkness Outside The Circus Tent Deepens

On CNN Now…

Sources: John Kasich to drop out

Well…okay. Fine. As horrifying as the potential of a Trump presidency is, I feel this as a little tiny ray of light in the darkness. The corporate media kept presenting Kasich as a more sane breed of republican and that he is patently not. So good riddance!

But we’re not out of the woods. If anything now, the woods are closing in. President Trump…  Stand in front of a mirror and say it while watching the fear in your eyes deepen. If Mrs Clinton can get enough of the disaffected republican vote to offset all the disaffected democrats who would rather shove a rusty ice pick in their ear than vote for her, we might not have to witness Donald Trump taking the oath of office next January. But at this moment in time I’m not at all sure that’s going to be enough. Mrs. Clinton’s supporters are still vastly misjudging the degree of antipathy toward her and the DNC in the grassroots, and I strongly suspect that’s at least partially due to cocooning. The disaffected are doing it too. And none of it is helpful. This nation…and the world…might be in for the sort of wild ride it hasn’t seen since the 1930s.

I’ve been what they used to call a Yellow Dog Democrat, ever since Connie Morella voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (signed in the dead of night by You Know Who!). And yet, if I had to choose between Ronald Reagan and Lyndon LaRouche, and it looked like LaRouche had a clear shot at winning it, god help me I’d have voted for Reagan. But then…I’m a cold war baby. I remember doing my duck and cover drills, and the sound the air raid sirens made at 11am on the first Saturday of the month when they were tested, to make sure they would be in working order at Armageddon o:clock.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Last Clown Waves Goodbye To The Crowd, And The Darkness Outside The Circus Tent Deepens


When Did The Social Contract Start Including Everyday Low Low Prices?

This video is making the rounds in the Internet Tubes…

Angry Woman In Walmart Throws A Fit Over Man Using Food Stamps

As a child sits in the man’s shopping cart looking on, the woman complains about how she is paying for his food with her tax money.  

“You know, I put in 50-60 hour weeks… trying to provide for my family,” the man says, although some of his words are unclear.

“You’re not providing for it, I am,” the woman snaps back. “The government is.”

The grim joke here is the government is also providing for this woman. As the article notes, she’s shopping at WalMart. Many of their workers need food stamps and other assistance because WalMart won’t pay a living wage. Without a doubt she’s shopping there, perhaps for the convenience if it’s a nearby store, but most likely for the Every Day Low Low Prices….stuff that costs less so she doesn’t have to spend more. I’d have told her the rest of us are supporting her too. But I don’t shop there. 

The man suggests she complain to her lawmaker or vote Republican. 

“Oh, trust me, I am not a bleeding heart fucking liberal,” the woman answers.

I’m shocked, shocked. No lady, you’re a typical American of a particular type that likes to have their cake and eat it too at the expense of someone else. If your household is making enough you don’t need assistance then you can afford to shop somewhere they pay their employees enough they don’t have to go on public assistance. That poor man and his kid have fewer choices than you do. They need the low cost of goods and assistance even then to buy them. You just want the cheap goods the rest of us taxpayers are making possible by providing WalMart employees public assistance. 

So who’s really the freeloader? It’s you lady. It’s you.

angry_walmart_lady

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on When Did The Social Contract Start Including Everyday Low Low Prices?

May 3rd, 2016

Teachers

According to Google, today is Teacher’s Day. I want to thank a few. Not the ones whose class I sat in though the ones who took an interest and kept the fire burning within me have my eternal gratitude. Frank Moran…my art teacher in high school, and one of the best teachers a kid could have. Marvin Watts, my college English teacher who encouraged me to write because he said I did it well if I put my mind to it. Don Poole, my jr. high science teacher, who encouraged my curiosity about the mechanical universe. I have the life I do today in large measure because of the interest they took in me when I was a kid.  But today I want to also thank others, who lit the fire within from a distance.

David Plowden…

plowden-sm

 

Robert Frank…

robert-frank

 

Margaret Bourke-White…

 

Russia's Dnieper River Dam, the world's largest, during the beginning phase of its construction.

 

…and…I hesitate to say this because her work is so relentlessly dark, but…Diane Arbus.

 

arbus_houseonahill

 

These were the ones who showed me what the camera could do. Plowden is the one probably closest to my heart, but the others are pretty close too. There are other masters of the art whose work I have loved very much, and found inspiring…Ansel Adams being probably the grand master of the form. But those four, Plowden, Frank, Bourke-White and Arbus, shone a light within which I could see myself. Which is what teachers do.

 

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Teachers

Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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