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May 6th, 2013
You Know The Race That Matters When You Loose It
by Bruce |
It was the autumn of 1973. I’d graduated from high school the previous June, come out to myself two Decembers before, and that summer I’d just discovered my first crush had moved away without telling me his family was going anywhere. But also that summer I’d also somehow attracted the notice of a cuteling at a coffee house a friend and I frequented, who took an interest in me. He was beautiful and I was dazzled and unlike my first crush, he was perfectly willing to let my camera give him some love. Looking at it in retrospect, I think I might have even been his first crush.
One day he invited me to go with him to watch the quarter mile fuelers run at a drag strip somewhere in southern Maryland. He bought the tickets and even bought us both pit passes. I drove us both in the car I had just bought with money from my first good job at Industrial Photo. It was the first time I got to see the fuelers up close. I love high energy smoke and belching fire stuff like that, and it was a thrill to see them up close like that.
But it was the time of the first oil embargo and I was young and a tad too self absorbed for my own good. As the races went on into the night I got scared the gas stations would close before the races ended and we would be stranded. He noticed and asked me if I wanted to leave early and I said yes. Just as we left the track he remarked wistfully that one of his favorite racers was probably making his last run just then. I was too busy calculating how far we could get on what was still in the gas tank and didn’t notice.
I saw him again the next night at a city park we both used to rendezvous at. It was usually packed with other teens and young adults on the weekends and that night was no exception. I can still see the sad, dejected look on his face before he saw me approach. He gave me a smile and I noticed then how there had always been a little something extra in that smile before because it wasn’t there then. We chatted for a bit and then somehow we both wandered off with other friends. A few months later he had pretty much stopped seeing me altogether. I was still in a knot over the sudden disappearance of my first crush that summer and wasn’t really paying attention to what was right in front of me, and I let it slide.
I’ve been kicking myself over this memory ever since. If I hadn’t been quite so self absorbed back then I might have figured that getting stranded for the night would have been a good thing. Maybe even the best thing ever.
That memory has been nagging at me a lot recently for some reason, so yesterday I decided to see if I could find that drag strip and try to refresh my recollections of the place. I’d heard it had closed ages ago, but thought I could find where it used to me and perhaps scope out the surrounding area and put some of my memories of that night to rest…or at least give them some clarity. I’d thought the strip was somewhere near La Plata, so I drove down Highway 5 to 301 but didn’t see anything I recognized. So I wandered for a bit and then gave in and went home and started Googling. Eventually I found some links and a few images of the drag strip as it is today. Loneliness and regret are like the two pale horses of my love life. This photo could almost be the path I took through it…
But no…it’s what’s left of the Aquasco Speedway. They say some of the most famous names in quarter mile racing raced there. It may have been where I lost the only race that ever mattered.
If you’re out there reading this now…I’m sorry I was a jerk. I hope you’ve won your race.
April 3rd, 2013
Without Shame What Good Is Marriage?
by Bruce |
Via Andrew Sullivan…Mark Oppenheimer, who thinks same-sex marriage might just pass muster as long as we still get to stigmatize someone…if not the homosexuals…
So here’s my question to Douthat, Maggie Gallagher, Ross Douthat Brian Brown, the world of conservative evaneglical preachers, and others who are so concerned about same-sex marriage: What does it do your perception of Ronald Reagan that he was a divorcé—and in being the first divorced president certainly helped remove any last shreds of stigma? Would you have voted against him for that reason—as many would have in 1952? Would you discourage people from listening to radio hosts who have divorces in their past (Limbaugh, Dennis Prager), or voting for divorcés like John McCain? If our goal is to work our way back to 1950 Marriage, how are we going to re-stigmatize divorce for wealthy white people? How are we going to make their divorces seem unseemly? In 1950, when a divorced woman moved into the neighborhood, people whispered about her. Are we prepared to whisper again?
As they used to say back in the day…matter of fact as some of my elementary school teachers used to say to my face…I’m the product of a broken home. Oddly, I would not have known my home was “broken” had it not been for so many helpful adults back in the day. Kids hear those whispers too Oppenheimer. But that’s part of the fun isn’t it?
Here’s my problem with shaming divorcees..
That’s my dad under that sheet. Mom divorced him when I was two and raised me herself. And but for the fact that mine was a household with a single divorced women at the head of it, you might even say that I was raised in a good Baptist home. But for that one fact. I remember how mom was treated back in those days. I remember how she raised me by setting an example. Never mind church. Yes I got taken to church. She never cheated anyone, never took advantage, never said anything about anyone in my presence she wouldn’t have said to their face, never drank or uttered a curse word in my presence, paid her bills, lived frugally (well…we had to…) kept her promises and when she passed away people in the town she retired to would come up to me on the street and tell me what a ray of sunshine she always was. But no…it was a shameful thing being a divorced woman. The head of my household growing up should have been the crook. Why, I might not be homosexual if my father had been there. A boy needs a father, and better to grow up learning how to rob people of their savings than to be a homosexual. Provided of course I share some of the loot with a few conservative think tanks.
Dad, let it be said, was always nice to me, and nice to mom. To other people…not so much. And mom loved him until the day she died. But she knew better than to let me be raised by him. Let me tell you a brief little story about that. When I was a teenager dad was earning a semi-honest living driving trucks and cargo around the country. More about that “semi-honest” part in a bit. One summer mom felt comfortable enough letting dad take me with him on one of his cross-country runs and one afternoon we stopped somewhere to eat and rest up a bit. I chowed down in the restaurant and Dad went into the bar next door. He came back, sat across the table from me and with a cheerful smile pushed some papers and a pen across the table at me and asked me to make a mark on the dotted line. I must have raised an eyebrow. Just make a mark there, he said. You want me to sign it, I asked? No…just scribble something. So I’m the obedient son and I did it, and he took the pen and papers back, folded them up and put them in his jacket pocket and smiled warmly at me and said, “You just made your dad five-hundred bucks.”
Aw gee Dad…
So I have this…hunch…that if he had remained the God Ordained Head Of The Household like he was God Ordained supposed to be I probably would not be the sort of person I am now, capable of passing the background check I could so I could be doing the work I do now at Space Telescope. Still, he was my dad and I loved him all the same and I feel these bitter little smiles come out of me whenever I hear some jackass homophobe saying that you can love people without sanctioning their behavior. You don’t say? Know something about that do you? And one day when my brother and I discovered he had no stone for his grave I bought him one, and my brother paid to have it placed, and it reads “Beloved Father” because sometimes you do things not because of what was, but because of what ought to have been.
I have never regretted mom’s divorce. Regretted dad couldn’t have been a better dad, but I suppose he actually did the best he could, the best that was within him to do, and he loved his sons and his wives (he married again…and…divorced again…) as much as it was within him to love anyone. But without a doubt was absolutely for the best for both mom and me that I was not raised by him. And piss on you Oppenheimer, if you think whispering shame at divorcees is a good thing. Never dawns on the likes of you that divorce might actually be a good thing does it? Never dawns on the likes of you that the shame you throw at single mothers is felt by their children does it? We’re just collateral damage in your little culture war aren’t we?
Here’s the problem with jackass social conservatives like him…they seem not to be able to function socially without a bunch of arbitrary rules that can never be questioned lest they get utterly lost in the human relationship thicket. They have no idea what the rules are for, other than they’re there to prop up some sort of civilized behavior, the reason for which they have no clue whatsoever. Homosexuality is shameful because it’s against the rules. Divorce is shameful because it is against the rules. The rules are Very Important because without them we wouldn’t have a fucking clue how to behave toward our neighbors.
I have a wee suggestion. Instead of shaming divorce, how about we shame spouse abuse. How about we shame cheating. How about we shame not setting a good example for children. How about we shame not taking care of children. Ah…but spouse abuse was never one of the rules…was it? Women having to submit gracefully and all. And children…the only thing they’re good for is a reason why same-sex couples can’t get married and women can’t own their own bodies. It’s not like we give a good goddamn about their health or feeding or educating them.
March 21st, 2013
Seeing Your Gay Neighbor Through Prejudiced Colored Glasses
by Bruce |
The struggle for gay civil rights is merely homosexuals seeking approval of their lifestyle…
“The primary challenge that our side faces right now is the intense social pressure,” said Joseph Backholm, 34, the executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington. “To the extent that the other side is able to frame this as a vote for gay people to be happy, it will be challenging for us.”
The more things change the more they stay the same. As far back as Anita Bryant’s rampage on Dade County’s anti-discrimination law, the rhetoric has been that all the fuss about gay rights is merely the homosexuals demanding societal approval of their lifestyle. No matter how you phrase that, (a vote for gay people to be happy) it is ignorant. All you’re telling us there Joseph, is you can’t see the people for the homosexuals.
Anyone who thinks this struggle is only about approval or some frivolous desire for “happiness” has ether never loved or does not think gay people are capable of love. Happiness is in your lover’s smile, and the touch of their hand in yours. All the approval you could ever need is in their eyes when they look into yours. You would know this if you ever loved Joseph. You would know why we fight for the honor and the dignity of it if you could see the people for the homosexuals. We are not asking for approval from the likes of you Joseph, let alone happiness. What we need from you is to take the damn knife out of our backs.
March 14th, 2013
Notice: Please Ignore My Cheapshit Prejudices And Focus Instead On My Sickening Behavior
by Bruce |
Oh fer sure…
“Just because I believe states should have the right to define marriage in a traditional way does not make me a bigot.” -Marco Rubio, speaking at CPAC
No. It makes you an asshole. It’s the reasons why you want to deny gay people equal marriage rights that make you a bigot.
February 27th, 2013
House Of Cards Much?
by Bruce |
So in my Google News stream I see that Ex-Gay For Pay Christopher Doyle has penned an article for the “Christian Post” in which he suggests that people who oppose ex-gay therapy are basically like the night man at the Hotel California telling gay people they can check out but they can never leave. You may suppose he’s not one of the pretty pretty boys dancing to remember.
There are things that make my eyes glaze over whenever they hit them…Paul Cameron, Gay Lifestyle, Love The Sinner…and one surefire one is when they keep asserting that Kirk and Madsen’s After The Ball represents some sort of playbook for the Vast Homosexual Conspiracy. No, Chris…After The Ball’s biggest problem in achieving the goals Kirk and Madsen laid out wasn’t then and is not now is the advent of “the former homosexual, or ex-gay”, but something they pointed out themselves in the book…
“There’s no point in mincing words: the current condition of organization and fundraising in gay America is deplorable, and makes a pipe dream of our [Kirk and Madsen's] plans for an effective campaign. Without a unified national movement, led by an organization with sufficient resources to produce and guide the campaign, gay America hasn’t nearly the “strength to bring forth.”
-Kirk and Madsen, After the Ball“, p248.
They’ll figure out how to herd cats before the gay community ever gets that organized. If anything Kirk and Madsen got laughed at and then ignored back in 1989. Yes, yes…if only we had some Madison Avenue guys who could lead us out of Egypt…
And no, the “whole foundation of ‘born this way’” isn’t much likely to tumble “like a stack of cards” at the feet of the feet of the “former homosexual, or ex-gay”…all things considered…
Seriously tragic how them little gay babies just keep doing what them little gay babies were born to do, ain’t it?
To keep insisting there must be some sort of organized gay agenda is entirely of a piece with the authoritarian top-down social order mindset. In the leaves of grass it does not work that way. And reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, does not go away.
February 24th, 2013
Notes On The Gay Lifestyle…
by Bruce |
A militant homosexual is a homosexual who doesn’t think there is anything wrong with being a homosexual. A militant homosexual activist is a homosexual who acts like there isn’t anything wrong with being a homosexual.
I had some conservative friends…once. Not social conservatives…so they claimed. No, no…they were all about smoking pot and live and let live…so they said. Oh, they kept voting for crackpot right wing politicians who had no compunction about waging war on deviants Welfare Cadillac Mothers and the Dirty Fucking Hippies. But they frowned on making a big deal out of it. So long as they were left alone to do whatever they damn well pleased. Heinlein kind of conservatives. If you’ve ever read any Heinlein, you know the type.
One day the sister of the family mentioned off-handedly to me that I’d somehow become homosexual because I’d decided that all women were bitches. I tried to tell her as politely as I could that my sexual orientation wasn’t a matter of rejection of one sex, as my attraction to my own. Desire I said, wasn’t disdain by a different name. I was drawn to males, not repulsed by females. I Liked women. Just not that way. I don’t think she ever got that. Point of fact, I said, when I figured myself out in my teen years, I was able to relate more comfortably to women. The pressure to date against my nature was very disturbing. It made me angry and frustrated. I hated the whole thing. Then I finally came to a place where I could acknowledge that I was a homosexual, that I liked guys and that was okay, and the pressure was off and I could relax. It took a very great weight off my shoulders. But that didn’t seem to compute with her. Or any of them.
One day while pontificating about gay activists…I forget now what the specific issue of the day was…she averred that I was better than them because I was a “discrete” homosexual. I laughed, and told her I wasn’t discrete, I was Single. It’s easy to be discrete about your love life I said, when you don’t have one. I don’t think she ever got that either.
Time passes…the universe expands…and a bunch of people who only knew me casually found out what a militant homosexual I apparently was when my web site, and Facebook, made it possible for them to see my writings about my concerns social and political. And what I saw was it came as a shock to some that I really didn’t think there was anything wrong with me. That I would actually vote and act and behave like Those Other People, that I really believed I deserved the same chances for love and happiness and contentment as everyone else. It felt as though I were being called a traitor somehow. Oh…you were one of Those people all along…
Yes. I was. I am a human being. I have the same needs as any of you. Couldn’t you see that?
Adventures In Online Dating…(continued)
by Bruce |
I wear my hair long. I’ve done this since I was a teenager. I like the look of it on me, and I have a thing for longhaired males. Admittedly it’s high maintenance compared to wearing it short, but it’s worth it to me. So much so in fact, that I’ve declined jobs rather than accede to an employer’s demand that I cut it. Of course, a lot of those were probably more about a suspicion of homosexuality than the length of my hair. Saying I was being fired for a dress code offense after I’d already been employed with long locks suggested there was something else going on.
As I said, I have a thing for longhaired males. And back in my twenties I was delighted to find that even as the clone look was becoming fashionable among gay guys, lots of gay guys still liked the look of a guy with long hair. One day, one of these pinged me on a gay BBS I did volunteer work for, and asked me into one of the private online chat rooms.
He said he’d seen my profile (the sysop had created a message board just for the posting of profiles). This was back in a time when everything you did online you did in a text only terminal. I think the sysop still hadn’t decided what to do about attaching photos to the profiles. Storage space was pretty expensive back then, and download times on a dial-up modem connection were not wonderful. So the profiles had no photos. Mine was correct as far as the specs went…my age, my height and weight…I’ve never seen the point of lying about any of that. But all he knew about me was that, and that I wore my hair long. And right away as I enter private chat mode, he’s telling me how hot he got reading my profile.
I’ve never thought of myself as ugly, but I’ve been called that more than a few times (“people who look like that, want people who look like that…”). But I’ve also had complements too, and when I look in the mirror, I generally like what I see. Yes…I would hit that. But by my mid thirties, still hopelessly single, I pretty much knew my face and my skinny as a rail body were not supermodel material. Okay…fine. I don’t need the world to think I’m good looking…just one special someone if I can just find them.
So I start telling this guy to calm down a bit, because he hasn’t actually seen me. It was really like that because everything he was typing at me in private chat mode is about how hot it is making him just talking there online to a longhaired gay guy. Take a chill pill man…I might be your type or I might not be. The sysop was throwing a BBS party the following week, how about we meet then?
And I figure he just about has an orgasm then….YES! YES! YES! WE HAVE TO GET TOGETHER THEN!!!! And before he signs off he’s bubbling over about how hot long haired gay guys are.
So (you can see this coming…right?) I go to the party, chat with everyone there that I already know, and this guy whoever he was does not come up to greet me. Later I learn that he was there, took one look, and kept his distance. Hahahahahaha…
Later that summer, the sysop organized a picnic for all of us at a nice city park and I was introduced to Mr. Longhairs Are So Fucking Hot. I’d hitched a ride with one of the other users, who asked me ahead of time if I could find a ride home since he had to go to work right after the picnic. I figured I could and wouldn’t you know, Mr. Longhairs Are So Fucking Hot offered me one. Several other users offered me rides after that and I declined saying Mr. Longhairs Are So Fucking Hot was taking me home. As the picnic wound down and my other offers were already gone, Mr. Longhairs Are So Fucking Hot comes back and says he has a date for that night, could I get a ride from someone else. I think I eventually walked to the closest Metro station, which was a couple miles away.
February 20th, 2013
But Lord, I Hate Them So Very Much…
by Bruce |
It’s like the buildup of magma under a hotspot. Eventually the pressure building up forces it out. Same thing with bile…
You can only wear that mask of genial civility for so long before you just have to start spitting at the heretics in the church across the street.
February 13th, 2013
eUnharmony…Sorry, No Love For You…
by Bruce |
Just in time for Valentine’s Day Eve…via The Advocate…
After he was forced to open up his site to gay users, Neil Clark Warren says he had to hire guards to protect his employees from furious conservatives.
He had to hire guards “…to protect our lives because the people were so hurt and angry with us, were Christian people, who feel that it’s a violation to scripture” and it’s Teh Gay who damaged his company. Well Neil perhaps it was those “Christian people” (sic) who damaged it, when they and their forebears went on a rampage in the hearts of their neighbors over the course of millennia. The lonely gay people who went to your site, only to get turned down, were there looking for what every lonely heterosexual went looking there for, what you promised them they would find that made your dating site better than the others. Compatible partners. That matchmaking algorithm you advertised was more reliable then just browsing the personals. They were looking for someone to love and be loved by you drooling moron, and after all, you’re in the business of selling love aren’t you? You know what that is…right…?
“I have said that eHarmony really ought to put up $10 million and ask other companies to put up money and do a really first class job of figuring out homosexuality. At the very best, it’s been a painful way for a lot of people to have to live.”
Yes it has Neil. Because of louts like you. Money isn’t your problem. The only thing stopping you from figuring out homosexuality are your bar stool prejudices. All those lonely, hopeful people you turned away as unfit for your services…never mind whether or not your computer matchmaking scheme actually works or not…they walked away with a tiny little bit more of that pain than they had when they got there…No Homos…and that teensy tiny little bit more has your name on it.
January 19th, 2013
Memo To The NRA…
by Bruce |
…next time, schedule Gun Safety Day Before Gun Appreciation Day.
There ought to be some big national organization out there that provides firearm safety courses. Give them a call if you need help with it.
December 20th, 2012
Our Molochs, Ourselves…
by Bruce |
Fred Clark, one of the most completely decent people you will ever read online, posts a link to this column by Garry Wills that makes me want to throw up my hands and give up on any chance of reasoned discussion concerning guns, let alone violence, in the land of my birth and my heart…
Few crimes are more harshly forbidden in the Old Testament than sacrifice to the god Moloch (for which see Leviticus 18.21, 20.1-5). The sacrifice referred to was of living children consumed in the fires of offering to Moloch. Ever since then, worship of Moloch has been the sign of a deeply degraded culture…
You just know where this is going…
The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily—sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. Sometimes this is done by mass killings (eight this year), sometimes by private offerings to the god (thousands this year).
…and with that I just want to say I’m Done! Done will the lot of you. Hurl yourselves at each other with your lizard brains rattling at full throttle, I just don’t fucking care anymore. There will be no rational discussion of guns Or violence in this country in my lifetime obviously. Or as Wills says without any apparent irony…
The fact that the gun is a reverenced god can be seen in its manifold and apparently resistless powers. How do we worship it? Let us count the ways:
1. It has the power to destroy the reasoning process.
Sure did a number on yours didn’t it Gary. You could wish those first and second commandments were a tad more exact. There are no other Gods…Period! Idolatry is a lie.
Also…I really meant what I said in number nine! But…no. We always have to take this argument into culture war territory. Always.
Here’s the thing about idolatry…when you worship an idol you are surrendering what makes you human to a piece of stone. But point your finger at the idol worshiper if you like, attacking that piece of stone as if it were a god-object is the same thing as worshiping it. By tearing it down you are acknowledging it has power.
No. The power is within. The power is always within. Actually Gary, guns Are mere tools, bits of technology, and a political issue we really need to discuss. But that political issue exists in a context of a culture that is astonishingly violent and discussing the one without the other is as pointless an exercise in generating hot air as I can imagine. If you could reach around that rattling lizard brain getting all offended at the other tribe’s god to the part that’s capable of reason and empathy you could see that. But idolatry has made you weak. You think that if you can just smash the idol it’s power will be gone, but unfortunately Gary it is not Moloch you are dealing with but human beings, and the fault dear Brutus is not in our guns, but in ourselves. Guns. Don’t. Matter.
I posted a wee rant on Facebook the other day, about Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin and his one last swing at gay people before leaving congress. I wanted people having this argument about “the gun lobby” to please notice something. Yes, they are part of the problem, but not because they defend the right of citizens to own guns. So long as people keep thinking of them as a gun lobby they are missing it. This man, Todd Akin has their lifetime ‘A’ rating and the NRA supported him in the 2012 elections Even After he began yap, yap yapping about “legitimate rape”. So women can own guns, but not their own bodies? No…just, no. That simply isn’t how people who are genuinely concerned about freedom, individual rights, and “big brother government” think. They are not that.
Can we please stop the idol worship and look at this…really look at it. They are not a gun lobby, they are a right wing political action committee that pushes people’s buttons about government taking their guns away to get right wing extremists elected. Guns are to them, as the bible is to the Family Research Council. They are tools the right uses to drive people to the polls and vote against their own interests. So is abortion. So is The Homosexual Menace. So is the Angry Black Man. So is The Illegal Immigrant. That is how idolatry works. That is what it does to otherwise rational human beings.
Why are we such a violent society? Well…the right certainly has its opinion about that:
National Review, whose in-house editorial suggested Newtown was the price of the Second Amendment, published a piece on Wednesday from anti-feminist Charlotte Allen suggesting the reason the shooter was able to kill so many students was because Newtown was a “feminized setting”…
Actually, if our culture wasn’t so out of balance when it comes to male verses female leadership it would probably be a whole lot less violent. Which is almost certainly why the hard right (religious and secular) is so relentlessly against female leadership. There’s the problem. Or at least a big part of it. Men must either dominate women or be emasculated by them. What does this right wing trope accomplish other than making males more aggressive? Yes, we can and should talk about sensible restrictions on firearms and firearm ownership. But can we talk about this too? Because if we can’t nothing, Nothing we attempt to do regarding gun control will do any damn good whatsoever. Nothing. And it’ll just be wash-rinse-repeat every time another horrific crime of violence happens.
So long as we are busy fighting a culture war of the right wing’s making, that only the right wing benefits from, discussions about the roots of violence just aren’t going to happen. It’s a win-win, not for the culture of guns but the culture of hate. Please…just stop. And…Think!
A lot of the people you see (I’ve seen and talked to myself) at gun shows are or were once blue collar union workers, who have been systematically cleaved from the democratic party over this one issue by the NRA. A lot of them, not all of them certainly, but perhaps a critical mass of them, could be won back if democrats would bother talking to them, and not screaming at them that they’re responsible for the deaths of 20 children, let alone that they are Moloch Worshipers. Those people have children too and they love them very much.
Also…I really meant what I said in number nine! The first person dragged down into the gutter when you lie about your neighbor, is you.
[Edited some for clarity...]
December 5th, 2012
I Take Orders From The Brainwaves of Karl Marx’s Corpse…
by Bruce |
Via Equality Matters…
NOM is proudly advertising the release of its newest educational pamphlet, titled “The Socialist Attack On The Family”:
In it, Ruth Institute President Jennifer Morse argues that those seeking to legalize same-sex marriage are actually hoping to undermine the institution of marriage altogether, in an attempt to disrupt capitalism and allow for a government takeover of the family unit…
Yes, yes…it’s very difficult for communists to hide under America’s beds when heterosexuals are busy making babies in them…therefore The Family Must Die!!!!
Can the news media stop pretending now that NOM is anything but a bunch of babbling crackpots?
November 28th, 2012
Feelings. Hungry, Hungry Feelings…
by Bruce |
“Here’s what we know about life. I have all kinds of natural feelings in my life and it doesn’t necessarily mean that I should act on every feeling. Sometimes I get angry and I feel like punching a guy in the nose. It doesn’t mean I act on it. Sometimes I feel attracted to women who are not my wife. I don’t act on it. Just because I have a feeling doesn’t make it right. Not everything natural is good for me. Arsenic is natural.” -Rick Warren
Hate is natural. Prejudice is natural. Who to hate is learned, but the capacity to hate is there, deep in the ancient pit within the human consciousness. We all carry the history of millions of years of life on earth within us every moment of our day. Tribalism is natural to us. To be afraid of the alien other, and to hate them, is natural to us. Blind obedience to the alpha leader is natural to us. The unthinking, bloodthirsty mob is in our blood. But so is love, so is kindness to the stranger, so is curiosity, and the yearning for truth and meaning. We are, by nature, civilization destroyers, but also civilization builders. The mindless beast is within us all. The good person is the one who will not unleash it within themselves, or in others. Do you want to be that good person Rick, or do you want to feed the beast? Every moment of your day Rick, it’s one or the other.
You’re right Rick. Just because you have feelings that does not make them right. What makes them right, or makes them profoundly evil, is how your feelings translate into acts. Do you help your neighbor in this life, or do you let the beast eat them? Who is your neighbor Rick?
November 24th, 2012
The Stupid…It Is…Amazing…
by Bruce |
So we had this old Cary Grant classic Room for One More on in the background this afternoon and I just heard Robert Osborne explain that after an earlier broadcast the network had been inundated by angry viewers demanding to know why they cut the word God from the pledge of allegiance in the movie.
November 21st, 2012
by Bruce |
A letter I just mailed off to Mercedes-Benz USA…
November 21, 2012
Mercedes Benz USA
P.O. Box 350
Montvale, New Jersey 07645
Dear Sir or Madam;
Last December I traded in my 2008 C300 for a 2012 E350 Bluetec. I’d wanted a Mercedes-Benz diesel sedan since I was a teenager, and I have been delighted to own this car ever since I drove it off my dealer’s lot.
One important reason I have wanted to own a diesel is I enjoy taking long, cross-country road trips. The longevity and fuel economy of a diesel was very attractive to me for this purpose. Already I have put nearly twenty-three thousand miles on my E350, mostly from driving up and down the east coast from Baltimore to Florida, the Keys and back. The car is a pure pleasure to drive over long distances.
I have been planning to give my car its first trip to California around Christmas to visit family. But now I have grave concerns about driving this car across the midwest. Recently I learned the corn growing states in the midwest have decided to make biodiesel in grades above that allowed in my car more widely available. I have read that in the state of Illinois for example, due to changes in their tax code that make it more economically attractive, B20 is now almost all there is for sale at diesel pumps.
This is alarming to me. I understand, and you have made it perfectly clear, that this grade of biodiesel will void my car’s warranty. Even were the car out of warranty however, my intention is to always follow Mercedes guidelines as to maintenance and service intervals. This is my dream come true car and I am going to take care of it. If B20 is all that is available to me in the mid-western USA, then that would make it nearly impossible to drive this car to California from Maryland, let alone drive around all the backroads and scenic highways of the midwest just to see what’s there. And if this situation spreads to other states, especially along the east coast, I may end up unable to drive the car anywhere, other than locally, and then only so long as regular diesel or biodiesel no greater then B5 remains available to me somewhere I know I can get it.
I am reading that biodiesel advocates say consumers should not be worried about the spread of B20 because, as they put it, all domestic makers of diesel engines have approved it for use. That may be true, but as I understand it those are all makers of trucks and truck engines. There are currently no domestic makers of diesel powered passenger cars, and as near as I can tell every company importing diesel passenger cars says that using biodiesel in percentages greater than B5 will void their warranties. So I fail to understand how they could implement these biodiesel policies not knowing they would profoundly impact drivers of diesel passenger vehicles.
I’m writing you specifically about a column I read in the Chicago Tribune while researching this problem online. The column, “Motor Mouth”, written by Bob Weber, on October 20 of this year, contained the following exchange:
Q: We recently purchased a BMW X5 diesel SUV. The manual states that that diesel fuel cannot be over five percent bio or the warranty would be voided. However, in Illinois about the only diesel fuel available is 11-20% bio. Also, we need a couple of Mercedes diesel Sprinter vans. The dealer stated that their mechanic said it was okay to use B11 to B20 bio fuel. When asked about their warranty they also said that Mercedes can void the warranty if you use over 5% bio fuel. Both the BMW and Mercedes dealers say its okay to use 11 to 20% bio. However, when we asked them if BMW or Mercedes would agree to honor the warranty they both said no. Fortunately, we didn’t by the Mercedes sprinter vans. However, we can’t understand how BMW can sell diesel cars in Illinois without disclosing the fuel is not readily available in Illinois. Do we have any recourse?
— G.H., Northbrook, Ill.
A: We contacted both BMW and Mercedes-Benz with your question. Although BMW has not yet responded, a spokesman for Mercedes said that valued customers will be “…taken care of for any unforeseen technical challenges that may or may not occur in a variety of cases or scenarios.” In other words, if anything happens to your diesel engine, it will be handled. Frankly, we would be surprised if any carmaker’s service department would go through the trouble of analyzing the fuel used.
This does not sound right, so I decided to write you directly about it. Mr. Weber seems to be saying in his column that even though the owners manual on my car states that only B5 can be used, you have told him that owners of Mercedes-Benz Bluetec diesel automobiles need not worry about using it because if anything happens to the engine we will be “taken care of” and (his words) “it will be handled”. I suspect the handling of it consists of our paying the repair bill out of pocket because our warranty has been voided. I also suspect that determining whether engine or emissions control failure was caused by the use of biodiesel in concentrations greater than B5 would not take too much analyzing on the part of any trained Mercedes mechanic.
Please let me know whether Mr. Weber is giving an accurate account of Mercedes-Benz USA policy toward the use of B20 in its vehicles. Also, please let me know what Daimler is doing to address the problem that is developing here in the USA for customers of its diesel passenger vehicles. I appreciate that this is a situation is being forced on you, and your customers, by these midwestern states. But if this it spreads beyond them and nothing is done your customers may find themselves one day soon with wonderful and expensive automobiles that they cannot drive because they cannot find acceptable fuel for them, nor will they be able to trade them in for cars that they can fuel without worry because they will be worthless.
In the meantime, can I suggest Daimler, and perhaps the other diesel passenger car makers could join forces on this, make available either a web site or a directory of some sort with locations where drivers can find fuel that meets their car specifications? I realize the difficulty in maintaining one, but something that could be used while on the road would be very helpful. Currently the car’s navigation system can be set to only show diesel fueling stations, but that is all of them, including those that only sell B20.
Baltimore, Maryland 21211
The letter is more polite in its treatment of midwest corn state biodiesel advocates then I am inclined to be on this blog. The level of dishonesty in their claims that B20 is nothing for consumers to worry about is stunning. You realize after reading it a for an extended period that they can get away with it because diesel powered passenger vehicles are not widely sold or used here in the U.S. compared to elsewhere in the world. Most people hearing that all U.S. makers of diesel warrant their products for B20 won’t know that they’re just talking about truck makers. No U.S. company makes diesel powered passenger cars. And people generally don’t know trucks are held to lower emissions standards then automobiles, so their engines don’t need the sort of emissions control equipment automobiles do. Yes, B20 is fine to use in truck engines. In passenger car diesel engines not so much.
But its reading Bob Weber’s columns on this matter that is especially infuriating. His slipperiness on the issue just oozes off the screen. In October 2011, a year ago as this problem was beginning to reach crisis levels in Illinois, Weber penned this fragrant piece of deception…
Q: All the gas stations in and around Chicago have switched in the past month or so from a biodiesel B5 to biodiesel B20. I understand that B20 fuel voids the engine warranties on Mercedes, Audi, BMW and VW vehicles. They all specify to use only an approved B5 diesel fuel. Some gas stations have even put up signage at the pump stating that fact. Now we find ourselves suddenly in a situation whereby there is no approved fuel available. So what are we diesel car owners supposed to do? — A.A., Chicago
A: Unless you plan to park your vehicle or drive around looking for B5 (5 percent biodiesel) or straight diesel fuel, you have no alternative but to use B20 (20 percent biodiesel). Engine manufacturers warranty the materials and workmanship of their engines. If there are problems caused by the fuel, they are the responsibility of the fuel supplier. That said, reputable fuel suppliers should stand behind their products and cover any fuel quality problems if they occur, states the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).
According to the NBB, “Most major engine companies have stated formally that the use of blends up to B20 will not void their parts and workmanship warranties.” Several statements from the engine companies are available on the NBB website biodiesel.org.
Yes, yes…if the B20 a fuel supplier sells does not meet its specifications or is contaminated it is that fuel supplier’s responsibility. But if it meets all the relevant specifications of B20 and you put it in your car when the car maker is clearly telling you anything higher then B5 will void your warranty, the responsible party is you…more than likely to the tune of thousands of dollars if your engine or emissions system needs fixing because you used a grade of biodiesel your car was not engineered for. And get that “Most major engine companies have stated formally that the use of blends up to B20 will not void their parts and workmanship warranties” crap. Those are truck engines. Every company making and selling diesel powered automobiles in the United States, Without Exception, is stating flatly that the use of B20 Will Void Their Warranties.
They’re even taking steps to make sure in some cases that their truck fleet customers understand it too…
Q. I read Sunday’s article. I work for FedEx Express as a technician. We just went through 2012 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (commercial truck/cargo van) training. We were told by the Mercedes-Benz boys that if you by a CDI (capacitor discharge ignition) diesel vehicle in Illinois you are required to sign an engine warranty waiver due to the fact you can’t buy B5 in Illinois. It’s worse in other states, Minnesota being one off the top of my head with B20 or higher biodiesel.
As usual the politicians in the corn states are dictating policy. No one really knows the ramifications of the ethanol additive. But apparently Mercedes-Benz is not willing to chance it.
Dig it. Daimler, the world’s biggest manufacturer of heavy trucks and buses is making its customers here in the United States sign engine warranty wavers in at least one state. How does Bob Weber, who writes for the Chicago Tribune, which last I heard was in Illinois, keep telling his readers that there is no problem, nothing to see here, move along? One thing I am really keen to see is if Mercedes USA has a different story to tell about what they told Weber. I strongly suspect there was more to that reply he got than he is saying.
And if you think this is only going to be a problem for us diesel car owners…think again…
April 29, 2012 – 8:45 PM
A new blend of ethanol and gasoline may soon show up at the gas station pumps — along with mixed messages on whether it’s safe to put it in your vehicle.
Motorists driving up to pumps for the new, higher-ethanol “E15″ will see government-mandated orange-and-black signs that say the new fuel blend is approved for use in all 2001 and newer cars and light trucks.
Two of the biggest carmakers offer puzzling or contrary messages, right on their gasoline caps. Toyota warns on its 2012 model gas caps not to use E15. Ford offers less-explicit advice.
“When you pull up to the pump it will say you can use this, and then you turn to your gas cap, it says you may not use this — it’s going to be very, very confusing,” said Bob Ebert, service director for Walser Automotive Group in the Twin Cities.
Toyota is now selling cars here in the U.S. with gas caps that look like this:
I appreciate that fossil fuel use is unsustainable in the long run and alternatives must be developed. I appreciate that there will be difficulties going forward with that. I’ve heard it said that the switch from fossil fuels to something else will be painful, but I think “painful” is the wrong word. It will be a chore. It will be work. Fine. All life is purposeful work. We can handle this. We will find the way forward. But apart from automobile warranties and the purely engineering aspect of converting to higher grades of biofuels, there is the issue of turning farm land once used to grow food to the production of fuel instead. Last I heard, there were still hungry impoverished people here on planet earth, and taking land out of food production doesn’t strike me as a plan to fix that.
We don’t know yet what the long term alternatives to fossil fuels are. Meanwhile corn states have used their local tax codes to make high levels of it cheaper than the motor fuels used elsewhere in the U.S. and in Europe, which is having the effect of making those fuels the only kind drivers in those states can put into their cars, whether or not their cars will actually run on them without long term damage. That doesn’t seem to be concerning anyone in the corn state statehouses. Eventually though it’s going to start alarming everyone else.
Stay tuned…the clown show is just getting started…
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