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October 2nd, 2015

The School Shooting…No, Not That One A Few Days Ago…No Not The One Before That One…

I’m going to just write some thoughts as they occur…

  • David Gerrold, who I follow on Facebook not so much for his fiction as his willingness to talk about how it is to work in TV and Hollywood, while lambasting NRA extremists wrote what I think is the right take on the Second Amendment. You see people arguing about the “well regulated militia” part and either ignoring that part about “the right of the people” or insisting that the one overrides the other. Gerrold said essentially that taken together they mean “the people” have a right to own guns, but that “well regulated” part means congress has the power to regulate them. Yes. That works for me. It makes complete sense.

    I keep bringing this up: We have the right to self defense, and to the means of self defense, but our shared spaces convey shared obligations and responsibilities. To the extent that government can require car makers to make their cars safe to drive on the public streets, make them not disgorge crap into the air everyone breaths, make everyone get a license to drive on them, and tell localities exactly how to erect signage on those streets, and what sort of markings streets must have, so that the streets are safe for Everyone to drive on, it can also limit what sort of weapons you can bring into public spaces, which public spaces must of necessity be weapon free (oh…say…courthouses…polling places…Schools!) and require licensing to show that you know how to handle them safely and that you understand the law.

    This is just common sense as far as I see it. Public space that is too dangerous for the public to use is a contradiction. It’s not a public space if nobody sane dares go there. And as to the notion that more guns makes public spaces safer…well:

  • The nutcases were babbling initially that the school was a so-called “gun free” zone, and of course, blaming that on the carnage. But it wasn’t a gun free zone after all, and furthermore, there actually Were people on campus carrying guns. They didn’t intervene for the staringly obvious reason that they were afraid the police would mistake them for the shooter if they did. Be nice if the More Guns On The Streets The Better crowd would try to understand this.

    We have the right to self defense, and to the means of self defense. That’s a right that is obvious in the context of democracy. But that’s the limit of it. The role of government is to secure our rights. And a vital part of that is a police force that keeps the peace. How anyone sees that a dozen or so armed people fighting it out on the streets with a spree killer amounts to civilization is beyond me. The police have to handle these situations and they can’t if everyone is a potential threat. At best a weapon gives you better odds at getting the hell out of there, or staying alive while ducking and covering. But you can’t do more than that or else you are contributing to the chaos of the event.

    Most of us in this life aren’t prepared to engage a shooter, even if we take our guns out to the range on a regular basis. At best we can train ourselves to handle firearms safely, hit what we’re shooting at, know what our limits are, and maybe keep our homes, loved ones and our own butts alive if the worst happens suddenly. But dealing with violent crime is the sort of specialty skill you have a trained police force for, so the rest of us can go on with the business of civilization. They keep the peace. That is their job. A country were everyone needs to bear arms to keep the peace is better described as an anarchy, not a democracy. And there’s a reason why anarchy and civilization are mutually contradictory terms.

    We have the right to self defense, and to the means of self defense. That’s a right that is obvious in the context of democracy. But that’s the limit of it. If you want to play with military grade weapons and go after the bad guys, join the army or your local police.

    And if you can’t make the cut there…take that as a lesson. Most of us can’t either. Respect the ones that can. Let them do their job. It’s a really important one.

  • I could wish I saw nearly as much passion about the recent news story of how Alabama, the birthplace of The Voting Rights Act, is once again moving to deny black Americans the right to vote, as I see now about gun control. Oh there is anger and activism on that issue without a doubt. But the anger, the take no prisoners fury, on this one issue is incomparable. And it is disturbing. There are so many of us who are gun owners, who believe the second Amendment confers a right on individual Americans as opposed to militias (one supposes not the sort of militias as the ones that came to Cliven Bundy’s defense…) to own a gun, who can be talked to about this, and worked together with to achieve some good sane sensible gun regulation. If only we could be talked to in terms other than we’re crazed gun nuts with Dirty Harry fantasies of killing people. Please. We are not that. We enjoy the shooting sports. We believe we have a right to self defense.  We don’t have fantasies about overthrowing the government. In fact, if I could point to one thing about right winger rhetoric on guns that absolutely drives me nuts it’s the notion that our guns are a defense against tyranny.  No.  The ballot box is our defense against tyranny!

    Now…look at this…

    alabama-dmv-closures
    The entire article is here.

    This is how we loose our precious democracy. The belly laugh is the same people who are bellyaching about needing their guns to defend themselves from tyranny, are the same ones making damn sure only folks like themselves are allowed to vote, or have any say in their government. Tyranny? Why goodness no…they just want Their country back is all.  So I have a question for all my liberal friends who are as heartbroken and appalled as I am at the level of gun violence in this country: What change do you think is going to be remotely possible in a nation where only republican votes matter?

More later…

 


Posted In: Life Politics
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The School Shooting…No, Not That One A Few Days Ago…No Not The One Before That One…

Tangled Webs

This came across my Facebook stream just now…

blindsided

This is all of a piece with the cathedral of lies the homophobes have been building over the decades. All that junk science, all those lies about the lives of gay people, all that meticulously crafted misinformation. It was supposed to sway the masses and win them the culture war. Instead it’s cocooned them in a fantasy world. No, the Catholic church is nowhere near as gay friendly as the way more humane than Ratzinger ever was Francis is making it seem. But the same people at Liberty Council who have been manipulating Davis for their own ends, really thought they could manipulate the highest levels of the Catholic church too.

As my bitter Baptist grandma used to say, oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. And the first person you deceive when you start down that path, is yourself.


Posted In: Politics
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Tangled Webs
September 30th, 2015

Here Comes Another One…Just Like The Other One…

This came across my facebook stream just now…

anotherone

 

Indiana House Majority Leader Jud McMillan, a co-sponsor of the state’s controversial “religious freedom” law resigned his seat abruptly Tuesday, after a sexually explicit video starring the representative was sent via text message from McMillin’s cell phone. TheIndianapolis Star reported it is unclear who sent the text or how broadly it was distributed. 

This is the second time McMillan has resigned from a job over sexual misconduct allegations…

Oh look…

McMillan has styled himself as a champion of the religious right’s crusade against marriage equality. His campaign website listed marriage discrimination as his top issue. “I will protect the integrity of the institution of marriage,” the site read. “In southeastern Indiana the family has always been the foundation of our strength of community. Our relationships with our wives, husbands, parents, children, siblings and other loved ones provides the glue that binds our common purpose. In these times of turmoil the rest of the country could learn something from our example.”

Yes.  Yes it can. “This is the second time McMillan has resigned from a job over sexual misconduct allegations.” Glass houses man. Glass houses.

Allow me to thump my pulpit on this One More Time, because it can’t be spoken about enough: Gay people are their scapegoats. They point their fingers at us, fashion us into scarecrows for the decline of morals and the end of civilization, so they won’t have to look at the mess they’ve made of their own lives.

Over and over again we see the righteously indignant, thumping their pulpits one day about the homosexual menace, caught up in their own tawdry sex scandals the next. Cause And Effect is going on here. They’re screaming at us, to drown out the screams of their own conscience.


Posted In: Politics Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Here Comes Another One…Just Like The Other One…
September 28th, 2015

Just Keep Doing Stuff…

Unreasonably proud of myself for squeezing out one tiny little pencil sketch for ACOS tonight, even though I was dog tired all day long because I didn’t get Any sleep last night. Insomnia comes and goes as it damn well pleases. But inking that sketch tomorrow and scanning it in will complete another strip, and the next few should come together pretty quickly too.

But then I have a series of way more complex panels to do… You’ll see why.  In the meantime, Tripping Over You has become my favorite web comic. You should take a look. The creators are Way More Diligent about keeping to their schedule than I ever was.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Just Keep Doing Stuff…
September 27th, 2015

Back To Work…

Finished the pencils and photoshop scan and some line art work on another three panel strip for ACOS episode 19, and got three more panels of a four panel strip done. It’s only been what…about a year and a half now since the last episode…

Six more (about) to go. I need to do some more pencils to finish that four panel one. Hopefully I have the energy for it tomorrow after work. One problem is, and has always been lately, that I have to be in such a state of concentration all day long at work that when I come home I’m so mentally tired I just want to veg out until bedtime.

The biggest problem however…since oh, about 2008…is how a certain someone down south screws with my head whenever I tell him I’m working on this. But he’s staying in his comfort zone lately so that gives me some space…and energy…to resume work on this thing. And to continue the storyline the way I’d originally planned.

Spoiler Alert:

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted In: Art Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Back To Work…
September 26th, 2015

Back To Work…

Back working on A Coming Out Story, Episode 19. I know…I know…it’s taking me forever. But I’m getting motivation now from a certain someone down in southern climes.

I’d forgotten about how Heathkit builders knew you needed, in addition to a good soldering iron, solder, various wire snips, screwdrivers and such…a cupcake tray.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Back To Work…
September 25th, 2015

Them Homos Can Really Sing And Dance Can’t They…

This came across my Twitter stream just now…

vv_summit_copland

 

Well…yeah. Appropriating our creative work while spitting in our faces is something they do all the friggin time. They’ll have us all thrown in jail if they could, while happily tacking our artwork to their walls, wearing our designer clothes, and humming to our music playing on their iPods. I was reading Orson Scott Card a few years back rhapsodising on how much he just loved to hear K.D. Lang sing. This is the man who has said that homosexual couples don’t really have emotional attachments to each other but only think they do. This is the man who said homosexuals are expropriating the institute of marriage and if same sex marriage were made legal he would have no further allegiance to this country.

But my goodness that lesbian can really sing can’t she…

 


Posted In: Politics

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Them Homos Can Really Sing And Dance Can’t They…
September 24th, 2015

Notes On Atheism

Despite his stance on same-sex marriage, and the sacredness and dignity of same-sex love and romance and sex, I’m finding myself just thoroughly touched and uplifted by this Pope. Today he had company with the homeless of Washington D.C., rather than dinned with the city power elite. And he told them that “The Son of God came into this world as a homeless person.” Whether or not you believe that Jesus of Nazareth was god incarnate is beside the point. Those people surely needed food for the soul as much as their bodies. For a moment they would have felt loved, and Valued.

I’ve written here often about a passage from the biography of Mary Renault, who gave me a vision when I was a teenager of that sacredness of same-sex love that I so badly needed. In it her biographer quotes her as saying that politics like sex was a reflection of the person within, and if you’re mean and selfish and cruel it will come out in your sex life and in your politics when what really matters is you aren’t the sort of person who behaves like that. To that I would only add religion. If you’re mean and selfish and cruel it will come out in your religious beliefs and your spirituality when what really matters is you aren’t the sort of person who behaves like that.

That includes atheism. The stereotype of atheists like myself is we’re arrogant, uncaring, selfish. But it’s the inner person that matters, not the clothing of their politics or religion. They say without religion there can be no morality. Atheists reply that religion has been responsible for some of the cruelest, bloodiest passages in the history books. But it’s the person. It is always the person. Everything else is detail. I am an atheist because belief simply stopped making sense to me. Love, kindness, trustworthiness, lending a helping hand when you can…these things have always made sense. I could sit here and type out rationalizations for why, and maybe you could type out some theology to prove my rationalizations are just empty hand waving, and then I could say the same about your theology. It’s all just reflex. What matters is the heart.

I could wish this pope could see the people for the homosexuals. But unlike Ratzinger, I can’t imaging him ever excusing violence toward us. Or anyone. His religion is his logical frame of reference. But the heart within is a noble one. When he made company with the homeless of the nation’s capital, he preached to both them, and to the high places. It was stunning.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Notes On Atheism

To Whom It May Concern…

Message in a bottle…

“Maybe the journey isn’t about becoming anything.
Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you,
so you can be what you were meant to be in the first place.”

 

I hear them use the phrase “born again” as if it’s a single point, one extraordinary moment in a lifetime. But that’s a soul stillborn. This is why I dislike that sort of religion. He who isn’t busy being born is busy dying.  You hear them talk about the end of the world as if it’s a thing that will happen someday. The world ends every day. And every morning a new world begins.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on To Whom It May Concern…
August 12th, 2015

Wishing For A Lost Old Friend…

I have a story to tell about my life that I really should have told here before now. It’s about how a boy raised by a single working mother with very little household income and absolutely no hope of going to college, ended up working on the Hubble Space Telescope project and then the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope.

I got to thinking about it lately because I’ve begun a personal project at home to get a DOS virtual machine running. I wanted to be able to run some of my favorite old DOS programs again, XyWrite and PC-Outline, and archive and preserve some of my old DOS program and data files. It brought me back to a time when I was still just tinkering around with computers and had no idea what I was going to do for a living or what my future might hold, other than it would probably be as it had always been up to that point, just a series of low wage warehouse or service jobs. Mom had spent her entire working life as a low wage clerk for a company that processed ads in the Telephone directories, back when Ma Bell was a monopoly and you rented, not owned your telephone. I always figured my life would be pretty much the same as hers.  But it wasn’t.  And the story goes further back than those days I spent tinkering with the IBM PC compatible I’d built from parts I got at a HAM Radio Fest.

I should tell the whole thing here because looking back on it now amazes me, and I actually lived it. Here’s something I posted to my Facebook page reflecting on that first computer I built. I’ll just leave it here, with a few editorial tweaks, as prologue…

I’ve been wishing for years now that I hadn’t given away the first IBM PC compatible I built from parts. Yeah it was a parts machine, but it was my first hand built computer and I used the very best parts for it I could find at the time, and all in all in retrospect I’d actually designed a pretty good system.

It was based around an 8088 motherboard with the full 1.meg complement of memory (user memory was only 640k) and what was said to be the most compatible BIOS of the time. Just to make sure, I bought a shrink wrapped copy of IBM-PC DOS 3.1 just to verify that. If it would run PC DOS it was compatible enough for me.

I bought a “clamshell” PC case for it….

clamshell Case
This one is very similar to the one I bought,
though the innards of mine were a tad different
and I’m pretty sure I had the floppy drives on the left
side of the bay.

Clamshells weren’t FCC approved because they leaked radio emissions like crazy. If you ever run across an original IBM PC and wonder why it had that awkward metal sleeve over a metal frame construction, keeping it from leaking RF was partly why (also, back then IBM just over built everything because…IBM). I knew I would be constantly tweaking and improving the thing, and that case with its door opening like the hood of a car would make that easy. To the case I added a toggle switch, tucked under the front cover, to switch off the speaker. I was still living in the Rockville apartment with mom back then, and I didn’t want her disturbed while she was trying to sleep. The switch was for things that went beep in the night.

I didn’t have the money for a hard disk drive when I first built it. I bought two Teac 5 1/4 floppies which were then the best floppy drives made. Hard disks were hellaciously expensive then, but as it turned out, an expansion RAM disk card was affordable. I bought a two megabyte RAM expansion card, mostly for its speed. Then I would create floppy disks with batch files on them that copied my programs and their data to the RAM disk, and when finished, copied the data back from the RAM disk, and simultaneously to a backup disk I’d placed in drive B. Running things from the RAM drive made everything blazingly fast, even on an 8088, even off the hard drive I would later buy. Eventually I would add an external print spool device too, with a 250k RAM buffer that allowed programs to dump their print output quickly and give me back control. Most of you reading this will probably will never know the frustration of sending output to the printer and being unable to do Anything, even turn the PC off, until the printer was finished with your job. Ah…the bygone days of DOS…

Back then even the most expensive color cards and monitors were hard on the eyes when it came to displaying text. And I didn’t have the money anyway. So I opted out of color altogether and bought a Princeton Graphics amber screen MDA TTL text monitor, which was the sharpest text display on the market then, and the amber color of the text was easier on the eyes IMO than the standard green. I paired it with a Hercules Graphics Plus card, which was the best monochrome graphics card of the time. It had a very nice video graphics mode which alas never caught on, although early versions of Microsoft Word could utilize it and its user defined RAMFONTS mode.

My first computer was a Coleco Adam that only lasted a few days before I had to take it back because the printer stopped working. I bought a Commodore C64 afterward, and for several years the Commodore was my introduction to the computer world and what I could do in it. I wrote my first BASIC programs in Commodore PET Basic (which I would later learn was a variant of Microsoft Basic). I took my first tentative steps into the online world with it. Hooked it up to my shortwave radio and read the teletype traffic. But the Commodore was a closed system aimed mostly at game play and lightweight household tasks. The IBM PC was the real business computer. The Commodore was an 8 bit machine that came with 64k of RAM, of which maybe 40k was user RAM. The IBM was a 16 bit machine that had an entire megabyte of RAM, 640k of which was user RAM. 640k! 16 bit! I remember that first day after I got mine all put together and it ran and booted PD-DOS, sitting in my room on the edge of my bed, just looking at it, awed by what I’d just done. It felt so wonderful…and yet so scary…to have all that power at my command. Maybe this was how normal boys felt about finally getting that Mustang they always wanted. “That’s a real computer…” I kept thinking to myself. “What have I gotten myself into now…?”

Little did I know. Eventually I got a 20 meg hard disk for it. Eventually I got a copy of Microsoft PDS Basic, with the Jet database engine and learned to write business software on it. Eventually I got a 1400 baud modem for it, then a 2400 baud US Robotics and found my way to a gay community safely away from the bars where I could actually relate to anyone. Eventually I moved on to a hand built 386 tower with PC-DOS 5, then 6, and Windows, and Visual Basic. Eventually I got a job writing programs for Baltimore Gas and Electric, and then an apartment of my own and a new car. Eventually I got a job at the Space Telescope Science Institute and a house of my own.

I sure wish now I’d never given that first PC away after I moved on.

 


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Wishing For A Lost Old Friend…
July 26th, 2015

Would You Like The Knife Served With Or Without Love?

Oh look…the same damn thing I’ve heard a zillion times already…

ex-gay-celibacy

No. There is absolutely nothing new about this. It’s the same old, same old. True there were lots of ex-gay outfits that claimed they could turn gay into straight. But there were always those who simply offered counseling and support for celibacy. Back in the 1980s, before the internet opened to commercial use, a user on the gay BBS I did volunteer work for, David Morrison, dived into a very rigidly conservative form of Catholicism, renounced his former gay activism, and signed on with their “Courage” (sic) ex-gay group which since 1980 has been counseling gay people against having sex. Eventually he wrote a book, “Beyond Gay”, where he argued among other things, against what he was calling “cheap sex” before he left G.L.I.B.. (He later wrote a column for the New York Post, titled “What Crime Of Hate And Anger?” in which he argued that Matthew Shepard had it coming, because he had a history of risky sexual flirting with strangers. Loving The Sinner. The right wing site Eutopia reprinted it, along with a deftly edited portion of my letter to the Post challenging it so they could wag their fingers at those of us who value our “certitude of experience” over their “certitude of Truth”…)

The neat thing about the anti-gay industrial complex is its convenient fluidity. Don’t like all that vitriolic gay bashing rhetoric? Well just walk right over here where we don’t do that. We =Love= the sinner. No, really! Think all that love the homosexual stuff is a lot of pussyfooting around what god plainly condemns? Well right over here we have all the fire and brimstone your cold little heart desires! God Hates Fags and so do We!

We can stick the knife into your gay neighbor’s heart any way that makes you comfortable…with or without love.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Would You Like The Knife Served With Or Without Love?
July 24th, 2015

If Only…

If only it were so simple…

boyfriend builder

No…it would never be that simple, even if it was that simple. How come “Intelligence” only comes bundled with the “Low Emotive Response” package? And why do I have to add the “Metal Head Banger” option if I want long hair? What do you mean that model is only available in Canada and Europe…??


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on If Only…
July 21st, 2015

Yes, Life Is Short. What Do You Think That Means?

Several months ago I started getting spam from this outfit…

life_is_short_be_a_cheat

My first reaction was to be creeped out. Then to wonder…were they also deliberately targeting gay men too. Because getting involved with a cheater is bad enough, getting involved with a closeted one is doubly bad.

I appreciate that a lot of gay guys, particularly of my own generation, got pushed into straight marriages that went completely against their nature. It’s a tragedy made worse by the fact that these marriages almost always dragged an unsuspecting heterosexual women into it, though sometimes the heterosexual woman is made to believe she’s helping somebody she loves very much. They were both lied to. You can hate the prophets of homophobia for what they’ve done to both gay and straight people.

But encouraging closeted gay people to have affairs on the side is just going to reinforce that sense of brokenness within, driving the knife in their heart even deeper.  Most of us of my generation have one time or another crossed paths with deeply closeted, married gay men. You see what it’s done to them and it makes you angry. But you learn to stay out of it. Everyone has to find their own way out of that thicket of lies, and see themselves not as broken, but beautiful in their own way. If you want to help a closeted gay man find their way out, set an example.

Life is short. Live the life you’d be proud of. Someone might see it and something inside of them will awaken.

 


Posted In: Life Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Yes, Life Is Short. What Do You Think That Means?
July 12th, 2015

So Beautiful, The Promise Land I Now See…

One reason I think the struggle for gay equality has been such a scorched earth battle, apart from the immovable nature of bigotry, is fear of having to come face to face with the damage they’ve done to so many lives. Hearts who could have found their other halves. Lives that could have been lived together.  Love that could have been…and was not. The empty wasteland so many were condemned to wander alone, because of ignorance, because of arrogance, because of hate. At all costs, they do not want to have to know the magnitude of their crime.

And so the fight goes on. And so it turns from a bitter, angry struggle against the Homosexual Menace, into an even more bitter and more angry struggle against responsibility, against the guilty conscience that waits for them on the road ahead…patiently…patiently…

sad-sm2

Some wounds will not be healed, but only eventually buried. That’s okay. Just so long as there are no more. There must be no more.


Posted In: Life Thumping My Pulpit

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on So Beautiful, The Promise Land I Now See…
July 8th, 2015

Question

These clerks and judges who say they’re not granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it goes against their “sincerely held religious beliefs”…I have a question. Have you ever…Ever…Even Once….denied a heterosexual couple a license on the basis of your religious beliefs?

Or is is just the gay couples you have religion about?

 


Posted In: Politics
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Question
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