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July 25th, 2016

I, Tool

In 1980, little Libertarian dweeb me voted for Ed Clark. Embarrassment keeps me from naming his running mate. I seriously believed I was helping a new movement which would transform America. We didn’t get Libertarian government (thank goodness), but we did get Ronald Reagan, who kicked off his presidency by breaking the air traffic controller’s union with the help of military air traffic controllers. I was shocked. Nonetheless,I did it again in 1984, voting for Bergland and Lewis. I was dedicated to the cause. I was a useful tool.

My awakening from my Libertarian slumber began in 1986 when Hardwick v. Bowers came down, and nearly all my fellow freedom fighters gave it their hosannas. Freedom it seemed, ended at the state line. That was June. In July of that year came the moment, though I didn’t know it at the time, which I will always regard the climax of Reagan’s presidency: the moment he laughed at Bob Hope’s AIDS joke during the re-dedication of the Statue of Liberty. In a nutshell, that was everything about the Reagan years. I was a useful tool.

Maybe there simply weren’t enough votes for Carter back in 1980, or Mondale in ’84, for those of us who voted third party to have made a difference anyway. But Reagan taught me a lesson about politics, one which the Sage of Baltimore neatly summed up when he said an idealist is someone who, upon noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes it will make a better soup.

by Bruce | Link | React!

June 10th, 2016

Ah…Memories…Now Where’s That Eternal Sunshine When You Need It??

Facebook sends me little daily invitations to see my “Facebook Memories” for that particular day. And I usually dive in to see what I was up to one, two, three, as many years back as I have posts for that day. Some go back as far as the year I joined. This morning, this post from exactly one year ago came up…

1_year_later

I remember this. It was one of those times I didn’t actually say to him I was coming down. Whenever I just appeared and it hadn’t been previously discussed in email, he would be delighted to see me and we’d chat for over an hour after the restaurant closed. But when I said I was coming I always got the cold shoulder. It wasn’t hard to figure out why. And I began to feel suffocated. When you have to self censor everything you say just to hold a superficial conversation for the privilege of being held at arm’s length except when it was safe to actually treat me as a friend and classmate, it’s time to move on. So I pressed the nuclear button. Because sometimes nuclear war can be a beautiful thing.  Just ask General Sherman…

 

sherman_goes_nuclear

And it was. Fuckinn’ Beautiful. However my target wasn’t Dallas. I have no beef with Dallas, other than it takes forever to drive past it.

Thank you for the memory Facebook. Now I can remember all of it and not wonder if I was just imagining things. He said I was creeping him out. And I fired back with nearly ten years of letters, emails and the memories of all those hours long phone conversations we had back when phone conversations were allowed, and every time that I stood at his threshold and he smiled into my eyes, and all the times we spent together, back in high school, and then thirty three years later, and it seemed like only yesterday, to throw back into the fireball, laughing, laughing breathlessly.

I said things we’d spoken of Many Times before, back when our conversations were private. But now they weren’t and that was a line I was told not to cross. So I did. Almost ten years we would chat by email, and for a brief while by letter and phone, and I would come visit now and then, and he could have sent me away at any time if it was creeping him out and he didn’t. He was the one who insisted I come down there. We were chatting on the phone and I said I was taking a road trip and he asked me why I wasn’t visiting that part of America because it was my heritage and all that. So I did. And we met in person for the first time in thirty three years and that was after we’d been chatting by letter and phone and then email about everything he said creeped him out. And all the times he asked me to stay a little while longer.

And then it’s I creep him out is it?

bender_laugh

Always laugh when you press the nuclear button. Total annihilation of a relationship can be Fuckinn’ Beautiful if you do it right.

Sherman Goes Nuclear
Everything burns…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Ah…Memories…Now Where’s That Eternal Sunshine When You Need It??

April 20th, 2016

Weeee Dooon’t Eeeveeen Care!

Alex Jones no less… 

 

billy corgan social justice

 

Social Justice Warrior: Like Militant Homosexual but not necessarily homo.  There.  Now the rest of you kids can play too!

[Update…] A co-worker adds, “Includes Feminazi

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Weeee Dooon’t Eeeveeen Care!

March 7th, 2016

Still Not A River In Egypt…


Reposting this one because it seems so appropriate somehow…

 

…not that I’m grieving, I’m beyond all that now. This is about das Submissive still working through all those stages of denial. He’ll be a while.

More fun to come when I get back to my drawing table!

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Still Not A River In Egypt…

March 6th, 2016

Peace And Quiet

It was after you sent those last photos of your wunderbar vacation that I felt something had changed inside me. Skiing isn’t exactly a risk free sport and I’ve fretted often about your safety on the slopes. This time it was different. For one thing, you sent me those photos right after I’d suggested I might be coming down to your neck of the woods for a short vacation, which I needed desperately. You’d been so quiet and then all of a sudden it’s Look At My Lovely Ski Photos With My Honey.

Yes, yes… It wasn’t hard to figure you sent me those to keep me away. I’m on vacation now Bruce, so don’t bother coming down. But you weren’t. I made a bet with myself that you’d be there after all. And you were. For all I know those shots were from some other trip you took years ago.

But that was just the first flew flakes that started the avalanche. The start of it came before, when I asked myself looking at your photos how I would feel if something happened to you on the slopes. And to my shock the answer came back: I’d feel free. That was when I knew the crush was gone. All there is after that is a hopeless longing for something that’s dead and that’s how people fall into abusive relationships. And I had already started to be afraid that was what this had become. Right from the start your teasing had an element of belittlement to it. The gay kid who accepted himself and went on to live in the world for better or worse as the person he was just couldn’t be allowed to stand taller than the one who fled into the closet. I had to be taken down a few notches to stand in your presence.

It was getting old. Another kid from our school, ironically another youngest brother in another family of Germans who came to this country, used to like doing that to me too. He did it all through school and like you, vanished from my life without a trace, only to come back into it decades later with a big chip on his shoulder for working on the space program and driving a Mercedes-Benz, while he was living in a shack in the attic of a decayed theater in Pennsylvania, and working off some sort of community service at a Mennonite kitchen. As if the kid who was raised by a single working mother and went to school in second hand clothes would ever hold someone’s economic status against them. I had to tell him to go away. Thank you for not making me do that to you.

Freedom! Thank you for not being a possessive narcissistic dick and letting me go. I was worried right up to the end that you would try some manipulative thing and smack me down while keeping me on the hook. Yes, I pushed it. It was deliberate. Because I needed closure. I’m too old now for this shit.

I spent 33 years searching for you. And all that time I thought you’d be the braver one. The stronger one. And you weren’t. You made your allegiances as you told me a few months ago, and all they asked in return was that you let them put a knife in your heart. And you did. Last November the last thing I heard as I left was you complaining that you’d let yourself get trapped in a life you didn’t want. “I did it to myself…” you kept saying as I left. I would have liked to have talked it out with you but that was on the other side of the fence you’d put up so I kept my mouth shut. And anyway, where else was the guy going who told me a few years earlier that he couldn’t tell sometimes who it was he was looking at in a mirror? My last blog post creeped you out did it? Let me guess where…

But teasing is only fun when there is a bedrock of honesty between friends and you don’t want me that close.

Honesty. That’s what they try to kill in us gay kids first. We have to hate ourselves. That means we have to lie to ourselves. And once you start that, it’s hard to know when you’re telling the truth to anyone else, let alone yourself. You told me once that when I’m on my deathbed it won’t be all the times I had sex I’d be thinking about. Well that would depend on how much I’d loved them I suppose wouldn’t it. Yes, actually thinking back to those times I spent in the arms of someone I was deeply in love with would be a lovely way to go out.  I can tell you this though: when I’m on my deathbed what I won’t be thinking about is all the people I could never let see the real me.

What I realize now is I spent 33 years searching for you, and I found myself. When I found you again I was desperate to prove to you that I wasn’t the awkward little dweeb you saw back in school. So I babbled on and on about the work I did for the space program, about the stuff I did fighting for gay equality, until you told me not to talk about any of that in case your wife heard it. I gave you things from work, beautiful Hubble photos of the stars and galaxies, and mission patches. I showed you my artwork and my photography. I was trying to prove myself worthy. And all that time it never dawned on me that I’d Actually Done All That.

Falling in love with you back in high school made me believe in the honor and the dignity and the righteousness of gay love and romance. I could have ended up like so many of our generation, hating myself, living hand to mouth in a cocoon of self loathing, believing such as me did not deserve any better. I have seen so much of that…so terribly much of that. I escaped it thanks to loving you. Or rather, loving the brave, intelligent, noble heart I thought was you. So now you close the door tightly shut on me and I honestly have to say Thank You again, for showing me that I wasn’t the one who had anything to prove after all. And maybe I wasn’t such a little dweeb back then either. Back then it was hard to believe someone like you would even notice me.

I had to scramble all through young adulthood to find work because whenever the boss detected Teh Gay in me I was shown the door. But I kept walking forward. And now I’m a system software engineer working on the James Webb Space Telescope, and a published editorial cartoonist, and a recognized photographer who still gets the occasional newspaper or wedding photography job. I designed and wrote the code for this web site, all but the WordPress blog you are reading now, and even there I’ve tweaked the code a tad where I needed it to do something it wouldn’t out of the box. I might not have accomplished everything I set out to do, but I’ve accomplished a lot, and in some instances way more than I ever dreamed, and I’m not the one bellyaching about the life I’m leading now.

I’ve been living as an out gay man nearly all my life.  I came out to myself when I was 17 years old, accepted myself for what I am, two years before the shrinks decided homosexuals weren’t mentally ill after all.  Yes, I kept it low key for most of the 70s but I never once dodged a direct question and never lied to anyone about it, back in a time when I could be, and was, multiple times, fired for being a homosexual. I can still remember the day when I was a teenage boy and I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and said to my reflection “I Am A Homosexual” after I’d read some crackpot that said admitting it was the worst thing a man could do.  On that day forty-seven states still had sodomy laws on their books.  I used to dig up every failure of nerve I ever had when I came to visit you.  What I should have done was remember all those times I was blind-sided by The Question and I had to make a sudden snap decision about being closeted or not.  Yeah I was afraid. But I never held back. Because by then I could see something with frightful clarity.

The closet is not a safe space.

It is not a comfort zone. It will not protect you. It only protects bigotry and hate. Our silence, gives them permission to suck all the joy and exuberance out of our lives. Our silence gives them permission to make their stepping stones to heaven out of our hopes and dreams.

I wasn’t about to go there. Yes, it was a struggle. Some days I thought I had no viable future ahead of me. But I persevered. And I’ll tell you what…even in the depths of poverty, living hand to mouth in a friend’s basement, I never once considered going back into the closet as a solution. I just couldn’t see myself lying to myself, let alone to others. Because I knew down to the bone there was nothing wrong with being gay. I always had falling in love with you to look back on, and remind myself that life is good after all. 

Then I found you again. And for a while it was wonderful. But in these last few years you put toning it down as the price for your company. Something happened to you. Something changed. And you let them put a leash on you. And that meant I had to wear it too if I wanted to stick around. And I acquiesced because every time I stood before you I turned back into that awkward little teenage dweeb, all shy and amazed that you would even talk to me. Slowly but surely you nudged me into a closet I once swore I’d never live in. It was becoming corrosive. I had to push it. Because I Am Not That Anymore.

Truth be told, I saw this coming years ago. I just didn’t want to believe the guy I fell so madly in love with once upon a time wasn’t the brave, strong, noble heart I thought he was. I wish I could go back in time and show the kid I was then the adult you turned into. Yes, you’re married. Lots of gay men of our generation are. And many of them love their wives dearly. And it is not in my heart to judge any of them, or you, for it. We live the hand we’re dealt. All you can do is try to make it a better world for the next generation. I was perfectly fine with ours being a long distance friendship and nothing more. It would have been a dream come true. I live in Baltimore. I have the best job in the world and a little house of my own. You live here and have the life you have. We’re nearly a thousand miles apart. It seemed to me that it was for the best. Distance would keep either one of us from causing any trouble to each others lives. We might never be as close again as we were back in school, but life goes on. It could have been wonderful, even so. But you were afraid of even that little contact between us if it had to be honest, and when it came to my having to closet myself just to be your acquaintance then I had to make a choice between self respect and honesty. And that’s a choice I have a Lot of experience making by now. It’s Easy. You choose honesty because there is no other way. Except you didn’t at some point long ago. And now you’re stuck.

Well I’m not getting stuck with you. Not even with you. You should have expected this. I should have expected this.We needed to both open our eyes to each other’s reality.

Different metals behave differently in the fire. You want peace and quiet. I want a life. We went our separate ways long ago. They say men don’t change, they reveal themselves. I wish I’d never seen it, but on the other hand it’s better that I have. When I was seventeen shy little awkward dweeb that I was I deserved better than you. I’m 62 and I’ve lived a lot of life and seen a lot of things and struggled to achieve a lot of things and crashed and burned a bunch of times and soared among the stars other times and I sure as shit deserve better than you now.

And the really achingly sad thing is that you deserve better too. But…we make our own beds.

Your peace and quiet begins now does it? No.

Mine does.

[Edited once…and again and again and again…because I really need to get this off my chest exactly right…]

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Peace And Quiet

January 6th, 2016

Some Days You Really Miss Rod Serling…(continued)

I think now my little Twilight Zone fantasy can be better. As I wrote it the other day it’s kinda obvious. What it needs is more of that humanity Serling and the writers he brought on board back in the day gave it. (and yes, I’ve been tweaking it ever since I put it up, but I think now I’ll just stop…). I think now that a better progression through the events of history would be if the men around Fearless Leader gradually began to see how wrong it was for them to appropriate the history of those events for themselves, and the tragedy of those who actually did come face to face with tyrannical state power, and as each change of scenery happens more and more of them begin to question what it was they were there to protest in the first place, and turn to the people they suddenly find themselves with and…apologize for comparing themselves to them.

And as they do this, fewer and fewer of them pass on to the next scene in history until the only one left is Fearless Leader, who never learns the lesson.

And maybe the last scene isn’t Tienanmen Square and instead of Sand Creek it’s that wildlife preserve but during the Indian Wars of the late 1800s and Fearless has been dropped in the middle of a roundup of the Indians who once lived there but were force marched out so the white land owners could move in. With the Union Soldiers is one of the old Land Barons mentioned at the beginning of the episode but he has his father’s face and he tells Fearless that they have to get off His land and Fearless says (not really getting that he looks like all the other Indians to this man) wait…not me…it’s our land…at which Land Baron shoots him…or the soldiers drag him off…and we get the closing narration…

standoff land history

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Some Days You Really Miss Rod Serling…(continued)

January 5th, 2016

Some Days You Really Miss Rod Serling

This came across my Facebook stream, in relation to the militia kooks occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon…

twilight zone oregon federal building standoff-sm

In case you haven’t read by now, the militia heros that declared themselves ready to occupy the cottage at the preserve by force of arms for years if necessary until the government ceded the land to them…didn’t bring with them any food…

19492266-standard

Internet ridicule has swiftly followed…

send snacks

Somewhere else I read they were also asking for socks.

This is all very good snark material, but that picture of Rod Serling got me to thinking about what he’d have possibly made of all this. The Twilight Zone wasn’t merely comic book weird tales and amazing stories. Within its otherworldly take, Serling took on the social, moral and political issues of his time, and because his stories were so good as to be timeless, ours as well. The more you watch those old black & white episodes, the more you appreciate what he managed to accomplish in the Hollywood system, and the more you miss him. If TV was a vast wasteland back then, it’s a toxic landfill now.

You can imagine it opening with the militia, (which Twitter quickly dubbed Y’all Qaeda) talking to reporters from the front door of the cottage. Perhaps the local sheriff steps forward to beg them to leave peacefully before anyone gets hurt. The townsfolk don’t want you here, we’re a peaceful law abiding community, the men you’re defending were found guilty of setting fires on public land by a jury of their peers. They could have killed those firemen and rangers. Please…just go…before anyone gets hurt. And the militia spokesman with the cameras rolling (this is late 1950s TV) just recites his boilerplate about freedom, tyranny and the lawless federal government taking our land and persecuting the ranchers. Waving his rifle in the air he says he and his men will occupy the land for as long as it takes and like the patriots who fought for America they too are willing to die for their cause if it comes to it. 

…at which point the camera might pan over to Rod Serling, who might say something along the lines of…

Meet [name of militia leader], American patriot, who with his men has just invaded a small wildlife sanctuary in a remote part of Oregon to defend freedom from the scarecrows contained within pamphlets and newspapers printed by extremist madmen. But tonight those scarecrows will step off the printed page and accept his challenge, because what he and his men don’t yet realize is the land they have occupied…is in the Twilight Zone.

The camera backs away from the militia news conference, and begins to pan over a gathered small crowd watching the proceedings. We hear the militia man arguing with the sheriff in the background, while various townsfolk express their opinion that they should leave before someone gets hurt. Others that they have a point, the federal government doesn’t seem to listen to the people anymore. Someone says they’d listen if more of us voted. Somebody else whispers that they’re not fighting for the ranchers, they’re fighting for the old land barons who owned everything here including the water, before the government cut them down to size. 

The camera comes back to the scene in front of the cottage. The sheriff warns the militiaman that the longer they stay the more likely someone will get hurt. The man repeats his claim that they are willing to die in the fight against tyranny.

The scene changes to night. The camera pans from armed watchmen outside to the interior of the house, where we see these guys are just playing soldier. They brought plenty of ammunition but nobody figured on food and the water to the cottage had been turned off for the winter. There is some argument about what to do next, but the leader is still in control. Unfortunately, he’s just a schoolyard bully in a grownup body. He has neither military experience nor common sense. They bed down for the night.

Then they wake up to find themselves in a Jewish ghetto surrounded by SS men. They have some weapons, but now there is a military force arrayed around them, not a small town sheriff and a few men.  Now we see what they’re really made of and none of them are even close to soldier material, nor martyr either: they’re cowards and it shows right away, first in the leader, who like all bullies collapses into a self pitying heap when confronted with anyone bigger and stronger. His men quickly follow. The Jews in the room with them look on in disgust. The soldiers outside begin firing.

They all die. Then they wake up again in teepees at Sand Creek surrounded by soldiers. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Then they wake up again and they’re in a southern black church during the civil rights days surrounded by a lynch mob led by the local sheriff. Again the cowardly behavior. Again the looks of disgust from the people in the church.

Then they wake up in a small house in ancient Rome, there is a makeshift cross on the wall…Roman centurions are outside. The men rend their togas and try to wave white surrender flags out the windows while the Christians inside look on in disgust. The centurions  break down the door, charge inside with their short Roman swords…

…and they wake up in Tiananmen Square…

…at which point the camera pans over to Rod Serling, who might look into the camera and say something along the lines of…

Every tyrant is a thief and every thief a potential tyrant, and the items of value for their taking are more than simply money and land, but also culture, history, and valor. These things, intangible though they are, contain the sum of all wealth and human nobility that ever was and will ever be, and while they may be stolen and worn for a time, they can only be lived by the those who have earned them. A word of warning to anyone who would cast themselves in the role of martyr in the defense of liberty: you might just get an audition…in the Twilight Zone…

Of course, Rod Serling would write a better story and better words to speak to the camera than I could ever put in his mouth. But a kid who grew up in the black & white TV days can still imagine what it would have been like.

ammon-bundy-bw

 

tiananmen_square-bw 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Some Days You Really Miss Rod Serling

May 21st, 2015

You Repent First. Take All The Time You Need…

Some years ago, a young adult fresh out of high school struggling to find a workable career path, I fell in with some friends of a friend who had a shop building custom speakers and sound equipment cases for bands. In addition to building speaker and equipment cabinets, they also had an impressive sound system of their own design capable of filling a theater, which they would rent out along with their services as sound guys whenever a band needed something a bit more than the bar sized sound systems they had with them.

To make a long story short, one day while I was out with them doing a gig somewhere in Virginia, the manager of the band we were working with noticed my little lambda necklace. This was back in a time before the rainbow flag, when the lambda was the recognized symbol of the gay rights struggle. He points at it and says somewhat belligerently “Why are you wearing the gay symbol?” This was a period in my life where I was still being careful who to come out to, but at the same time I’d made a resolution to myself not to lie if cornered. Well, I was cornered just then, and hoping for the best I told him it was because I’m gay, “We don’t allow gays in our crew he says. Bernie, one of the co-owners of the speaker shop, begins laughing and saying that I’m just joking. Somehow this only made me dig my heels in more. “No, says I…I’m gay.”

Next day Bernie fired me, taking pains to insist it wasn’t because I’m gay…I just wasn’t working out. Somehow.

Time passes…the universe expands… Some years later I run back into the old friend who connected me with Bernie and George (the other co-owner). How are things? Fine, how about you? Blah…blah…blah… As we’re busy catching up with what’s been happening in our lives, Glenn asks me if I’d heard about what happened to Bernie. No, says I, what’s up with him? He’s in jail, says Glenn. Couldn’t keep his hands off of under aged girls, he says.

Glenn eventually stopped talking to me after friending me on Facebook and being shocked, shocked, to discover what a militant homosexual I am. Oh well. On judgement day let it be said I would rather stand before my creator as an unrepentant sodomite, than have to account for some of the heterosexual lives I’ve witnessed with my own two eyes.

duggar_molester

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on You Repent First. Take All The Time You Need…

May 20th, 2015

The Center Of The Universe…It Is Not You…

Browsing Fred Clark’s Slacktivist blog today I see this…

First contact and ‘the great disillusionment’

The idea that there may be something new under other suns is nothing new under the sun.

That’s why I’m mostly just kind of meh about this Damon Linker piece and the other (semi-)recent posts James McGrath rounds up on the subject. Linker hits on several of the “challenges … to the world’s religious traditions” that first contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life would introduce, but he misses the biggest one — the one explored by both Kepler and Wells. Kepler acknowledges the kind of questions Linker raises — “have they souls to be saved?” But then he quickly skips ahead to the more potentially devastating question: “Are all things made for man?”

That would be the Copernican shift in our theology forced by such an encounter. The main problem would not be that we would need to refine or reform how we think about God, but that we would have to completely upend how we think about ourselves.

Fred Clark is one of the most decent people you will read here on the Internet tubes. I could wish voices like his were heard more often in the popular culture. I was reading the other day one of the heavy hitters in the religious right arguing against the idea of other intelligent life in the universe, because of course the entire purpose of Creation was mankind. Okay I’m being a tad sarcastic about that, but not by much. And it reminded me of that day in the fields by a newly cut country road. It’s the same mindset.

I’ve told this story before, about the time when I was earning a living as an architectural model maker, and the shop owner I was working for at the time took his employees out to the countryside in late autumn to gather yarrow. Yarrow was a plant we used to make trees out of for the landscaping around our model buildings. At the end of a season the stalks were hard and the seed pods all dried up, and you could dip the pods in wood glue and sprinkle flocking (a finely shredded colored foam rubber) over them which made them look like little trees. Even better, you could then split the seed pods into smaller and smaller halves to get trees suitable for just about any scale you were working at.

So that day we all went to a place the shop owner, Ron, said was a likely place to find our quarry. Yarrow he told us, was very particular about where it grew in the wild. It had to be free of any shade trees or other competing bushes. It had to be open to the sky to allow lots of sun and rain. The best places he said, were where new roads had just been built, and the ground on either side cleared during construction. He had been scouting all summer for likely spots, and that day he led us to one. A new road that had just opened up county.

Ron was very much the devout fundamentalist. I had a job there because mom and I went to the same church he did for a time (I’d already left the church by this time, and mom eventually went elsewhere but stayed friends with Ron’s wife). Ron saw in my landscape paintings a talent he could put to use and despite the heavy air of religiosity in his shop I found I liked the work very much. He liberally scattered religious tracts all over the employee lunchroom, and held prayer sessions with his favorite, while the rest of us opted out for the safety of the shop and our work. I’ve written elsewhere about what he did to his gay son the day he came out to his family. I bring this up because of what happened that day we went yarrow hunting that I still vividly remember.

Ron passed out trash bags and told us to stuff them with every yarrow we could find. The bags would end up being stored in the attic space of his shop, and the contents used as needed for model landscaping. The idea was to get enough to tide us over until next fall.

So I wandered around looking for yarrow, and eventually my eyes got attuned to the shape of the things amidst all the other tall grasses we were wading through. I’d filled up one trashbag and was opening another when it occurred to me that I had no idea about the life cycle of these plants our workflow depended on. Might be a good idea I reckoned, to leave some behind so we’d have some next year. So I started leaving behind every third yarrow I came across. There was plenty there, so I figured we’d still get enough for another year’s work.

Ron came over and pointed out I’d missed some. I explained what I was doing and why. I’ll never forget the look he gave me. Not one of exasperation (I’d already seen enough of those…Ron had…anger management issues…), but…patients. He saw a teachable moment in it.

He nodded his head. “I see where you’re coming from,” he said to me kindly, “but God gave us these things to use.”

And so I was instructed to get the ones I’d missed and pick every one I saw. It was disheartening because I knew he’d check now that he knew what I’d been doing. So I shifted gears and picked more slowly hoping he’d eventually decide he had enough and we could go and some plants might be left behind. I was more naive back then. People like that aren’t deflected away from their missions so easily. He got every single one near as I could tell. He’d have had us all working until the next morning if there were that many more there to be had.

The universe was created Just For Us. So of course there can’t be any other intelligent life out there. And global warming is a socialist plot. Anything that makes you question exploring every last natural resource, or for that matter your human neighbor, is socialism. Beware the ideology that regards humanity as anything less than the masters of the earth. Well…second only to God almighty of course. Maybe.

Not every person of faith sees it that way. Remember that. I’m not sure that we’ll ever detect signs of intelligent life beyond Earth in my lifetime. I am certain of this: if Franklin Graham is alive to see it, he will insist they’re evidence that demons are real. That mindset is not disillusioned so easily.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Center Of The Universe…It Is Not You…

May 13th, 2015

For Some Reason You’re Acting Like It Hurt…

florist

“One of my favorites was Rob Ingersoll. Ingersoll came in often and we’d talk. Like me, he had an artistic eye. I’d try to create really special arrangements for him. I knew he was gay, but it didn’t matter — I enjoyed his company and his creativity…”

Yes, yes…It didn’t matter, until it did. Which is to say it always mattered, just not until that moment in a way that she was willing to be honest with him about.

And now she’s surprised that one of her favorite customers reacted with a lawsuit. That’s more telling then that she refused her services. Favorite Ingersoll may have been, but clearly not as human as herself, Otherwise She Wouldn’t Have Been Surprised. It’s how Anyone would react to having their joy of getting married, of finding in this poor lonely angry world that special someone, that wholeness of heart and body and soul, having it suddenly treated like it was a dishonorable thing. Being told your feelings toward the one you love more than anything, the one that completes you, the one you would walk through fire for, are immoral, disgusting, offensive to God. But in a nice way. Ever so politely. I took his hands and said, “I’m sorry…” It cuts you deep. Especially since, if she’s to be believed, he had understood himself to be a favorite customer of hers.

But homosexuals don’t have feelings like the rest of us and so she’s surprised. She “felt terrible” when she should have felt deeply ashamed of herself. A flower shop isn’t a church and arranging flowers isn’t a religion. If Ingersoll was just a stranger who walked in off the street wanting flowers for his wedding her behavior would have been bad enough. But see how she does not seem to grasp that boasting about how friendly she’d become with him, Despite The Fact That He Was Gay, makes the heartlessness of it worse, not better. She had been given an opportunity to see a Person not A Homosexual and she couldn’t.

This is the part so many people miss about the anger of that reaction to getting slapped in the face by prejudice. Bad enough when it comes at you from strangers. He, if she is to be believed, opened up to her in a way gay people are Still highly uncomfortable with. He trusted her. Never mind she discriminated against a customer and a fellow American. This man trusted her enough to be open about himself. He trusted her enough to share his joy with her. She betrayed a friend.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on For Some Reason You’re Acting Like It Hurt…

April 29th, 2015

How About Not Throwing So Many Of Those Fathers In Jail Then?

This came across my Facebook stream just now. It’s the kind of thing that just sets me off and I start seeing red. No…first I see a face. My Mom’s face.  Then I see red…

danger_moron_at_work

 

I was raised by a single divorced mother you drooling brick-brained ideologue and her son’s police record is a hell of a lot cleaner than your’s is.

But… But…

I had good public schools to go to…which you want to take away from America’s kids.

Even in a time when women made less than 60 cents on the dollar than a male co-worker for doing Exactly the same job my mom could still afford to raise a child back in the 50s and 60s. And that was because we had an economy that benefitted middle class and service workers like my mom. …something else you want to kill so your rich benefactors can buy more yachts. All those high paying union jobs gave paychecks to people who actually bought goods and services with them instead of gambling at the Wall Street casino. But your kind hates unions.

Mom was able to afford health care for me when it was desperately needed, after I came down with Scarlet Fever when I was 6 and then was laid up in bed for months with complications. Once upon a time working people and even a poor working single mother could afford health care for their kids. And you are trying to kill off the Affordable Healthcare Act.

Mom could afford to feed me, even on her meager salary back then. It wasn’t a fabulous diet I had back then but I never went to bed hungry. And it was reasonably healthy You want to take food stamps away from poor kids and let the food industry feed everyone else junk.

And even on that meager salary she could buy me books to read.

Face it Paul…you don’t give a good goddamn about those inner city kids. Broken homes is it you’re worried about? What ruins more marriages than money problems? You are making home life for everyone but the rich worse and worse so they can have more and more and more and you’re bellyaching that kids don’t have fathers? I’m laughing in your face. It isn’t lack of fathers that drove those kids into the streets, its lack of any concern whatsoever for the rest of America you can’t see from inside your nicely furnished cocoon. They’re just little people. If you and your kind were really concerned about them not having fathers, maybe so many of them wouldn’t be in jail right now for piddly sh*t that very few white men ever face arrest for, let alone jail time. Maybe the life those kids are looking wouldn’t be a school-to-jailhouse pipeline.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on How About Not Throwing So Many Of Those Fathers In Jail Then?

March 3rd, 2015

Beauty Is Only Heart Deep (To Whom It May Concern)…

This came across my Facebook stream just now…

beautiful young heart

What is doubly so dehumanizing about “people who look like that want people who look like that”: it not only denies the humanity of the person you are calling ugly, it is denying that humanity to the person you think is more beautiful than they are.

But of course, it depends doesn’t it, on what it is you think people “want”.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Beauty Is Only Heart Deep (To Whom It May Concern)…

February 9th, 2015

How About We Both Share The Road

The cyclists got a new law passed here that requires cars to stay at least three feet away from them while passing. It’s a good and necessary safety measure, but this morning I could see the coming spring downside already. In many city streets cars simply can’t pass a cyclist unless they go into the oncoming lane of traffic. And at least one cyclist I saw on the way to work this morning was taking full advantage of that fact to quite deliberately slow traffic to a crawl. Because I guess, cars are evil things and people who own them in the city deserve it.

I know the mindset, it’s why the Washington D.C. suburbs have a horribly inadequate highway infrastructure. If we don’t build the roads we won’t get the cars the thinking went. So they didn’t build the roads…but they kept on building the offices and shopping centers and condominiums and the cars came anyway. Lots of them. And now the joke is someone gets a flat tire in College Park and it backs up traffic in Tyson’s Corner.

I appreciate that continued reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable. I appreciate that bicycles have to be a big part of the solution, along with walkability, especially in the urban and residential zones where speeds are low to begin with. Mass transit is not a magic pill. Unless we’re talking about putting Disney’s “people movers” everywhere in cities like he had planned for E.P.C.O.T., his prototype city of tomorrow, urban mass transit can’t even come close to solving the problem. But having cyclists and automobiles together on the same pavement is a recipe for accidents, not to mention road rage. They need to be kept physically separated and for all the same reasons as automobiles and pedestrians need to be kept apart. It’s the simple physics of it. But at least pedestrians in the city have sidewalks. Many city streets simply aren’t wide enough to support a dedicated bicycle lane. I see those “share the road” signs everywhere now, but someone peddling along at 7 miles per hour in a twenty-five mile per hour zone and nobody can get past isn’t sharing the road, they are appropriating it.

I don’t know the answer. But I know this because I’ve seen it over and over: Americans are never more obnoxious than when we get started on moral crusades. At least consider letting traffic go by if you’ve got a bunch of it backed up behind you and you can’t peddle any faster than 30 percent of the posted speed limit. You’re not making the drivers any more likely to reconsider owning a car by bottling them up behind you. Most of them probably live in the suburbs and can’t do without a car.  You are not making them any more likely to reconsider commuting from the suburbs either.  In the current economy you go wherever the job you were lucky enough to have is. You are not making them any more likely to consider relocating to the city. You want to do that, improve the fucking schools and crime rates. Trust me, I love my city life and I have tried often to talk my co-workers into it.  And always what I hear back is yes, But…schools…crime.

God how I would love for the cities to undergo a big fat urban renaissance.  It’s so lovely…you can walk to your job, and to the grocery store and nice restaurants and bars and if you decide to go out drinking it’s no problem for the highways because you just walk back home and everyone stays safe.  I have just about everything I need within walking distance of Casa del Garrett and I love it. I wouldn’t trade it for the suburban life I grew up in for anything. Every day I am out and about in my neighborhood I find myself thinking, This is the life! I But transforming American commuting habits isn’t going to happen overnight. It will take decades and in the meantime you have to let the cars use the city streets.

Understand this if you understand nothing else: You are not saving the planet by slowing traffic down. You are keeping those fossil fuel burning engines burning those ancient forests for longer periods of time where they are least efficient. Show your concern for planet earth get off your high horse if not your bicycle and let the damn traffic get by you from time to time.

Or not. I don’t care. I normally walk anyway (and get treated like shit by both drivers and cyclists from time to time) and even if I’m driving in to work, because of the weather or I have cargo I need to transport, it’s only a mile away from my house and if you got off the bike and walked in front of my car I would still get there at the speed of walking. But I’m an outlier in the traffic bottleneck behind you. Most of those commuters probably just got off I-83. You are making them furious, and furious people do stupid things and I don’t want to have to see it when it happens.

[Update…]

Yes, as a pedestrian most of the time in my neighborhood, I am well aware drivers can be complete assholes too. I was reminded of that fact just today as I was leaving work, when I saw a co-worker almost get run over by a driver who just blew through a crosswalk like it was a mere suggestion. The road in front of the Space Telescope Science Institute building where I work, San Martin Drive, is within the campus of Johns Hopkins University and there are signs all over the place telling drivers to be aware of the students. Students jog that road all the time…it’s a nice road that borders Wyman Park on the other side. It has several blind curves and you can hit someone if you’re not careful. And there are raised crosswalks periodically along the road to give pedestrians some safety and to slow traffic the f*ck down since it’s a 25mph speed limit there. They have these little signs posted in the middle of the crosswalk telling drivers pedestrians have the right of way and if one is in that crosswalk you have to stop.

This lady apparently thought that was optional. She almost hit my co-worker who was In The Crosswalk (I saw it happen) and if that wasn’t enough, rolled her window down and shouted at him to get off the road. Most drivers in my experience will stop for you, but there are assholes everywhere.

Some days I think instead of telling people to Share The Road what’s needed are signs saying Don’t Be A Dick

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on How About We Both Share The Road

February 2nd, 2015

Why I Hate The NRA…Part The Upteenth…

This came across my Facebook stream just now…

morons at target practice

More Here.  This is incredibly idiotic. As a gun owner I cannot fathom…I am actually at a loss for words…as to how anyone who has ever shot a gun cannot grasp the level of danger here.

In my younger years, a friend of mine and I would go to another friend’s house to shoot our guns in their backyard. But they lived in the sticks, far away from anything and we could do that safely. There was a county law prohibiting shooting within a certain designated distance from any home or structure. And they had lots of property surrounding their home. Enough that we could just walk far enough away from the back of the house to be legal, and still be on their property.  At the edge of the cleared area was a fence and over that a forest that went on for miles. My friend and his often went hunting back there. I knew it as a place where we could blast away to our hearts content and not bother anyone.

I remember quite well as we fired at various targets propped up on a board in the backyard…cans, bottles, plastic jugs…the sound of our bullets ricocheting off trees in the woods behind the fence. I’d be there with one of my .45s and I’d touch off a round and if I missed we’d listen for the sound of the slug bouncing around in the forest off one tree and then another and then another…bip…bip…bipbipbipbip… It was a warning: just because you’re aiming at something that doesn’t mean that’s where your bullet is going to stop. It can take a bounce and then it might go anywhere. This is why the law was you couldn’t be shooting anywhere near another structure and never mind which direction you’re pointing.

I remember once we were shooting at a stack of empty soda cans we’d propped up on a large piece of scrap metal. One of the folks living there was a welder and we found something in the yard we thought we could use to raise the height of our targets. I was shooting my single action .45 with rounds I’d hand loaded with soft lead bullets. I took a shot and missed and immediately felt something brush up against my right leg, looked down and saw several shards of lead embedded in my blue jeans. The bullet had hit the piece of scrap metal and fragmented and some of the fragments had bounced back at me with enough force they almost penetrated my pants leg. Occasionally the lessons you learn are non-fatal. We never propped our cans on anything bullets couldn’t easily punch through at that distance after that.

That target shooting so close to other people’s homes (look at that photo again) is much too dangerous is something anyone who has ever shot a gun in their lives should know. But of course this isn’t about guns, let alone public safety, it’s about culture war…

So Florida law is cool with this. The cops are not cool with this, but tell me there’s nothing they can do. The city attorney says he can do nothing. The NRA threatens any town that dares try to pass an ordinance against this. And best yet, crazy governor Scott made certain in 2011 that any public official trying to pass a local ordinance or otherwise prevent this would be removed, fined $5,000 and barred from using public resources to defend him/herself.

They’ve degenerated down to outright idolatry now. Guns have become the new crucifixes of the right, the fetish you keep close to protect you from evil spirits and wave at the heathens to keep their demons away. And their sins are so many it isn’t enough that Jesus died for them. Their neighbors have to die too.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Why I Hate The NRA…Part The Upteenth…

January 14th, 2015

The Militant Hurricane Bolt Agenda

The table is running out of dominos.  South Dakota’s constitutional amendment reserving marriage to heterosexual couples only was struck down the other day by a federal judge…

Federal judge: South Dakota ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional

Judge Karen Schreier ruled in favor of six same-sex couples who challenged the South Dakota ban on gay marriage and put her decision on hold pending appeals.

Well this didn’t sit well with Bob Ellis over at The American Clarion, owner of media company Dakota Voice, LLC since 2005, 10-year U.S. Air Force veteran, political reporter and commentator and founding member and board member of the Tea Party groups Citizens for Liberty and the South Dakota Tea Party Alliance…

Marital requirements exist for a reason. It takes a man and a woman to form a marriage. Two men or two women sodomizing each other performs no useful function whatsoever for society, and there is no benefit whatsoever in having government serve as a “friendship registry” for two people who want to sodomize each other on a regular basis.

…a point he really drives home with the following illustration:

real_unreal

Never mind shop class, you start to wonder after a while if the sex education classes in certain parts of the country would actually benefit from a trip to the hardware store.  Because when the dimwit you’re arguing with starts reaching for the nuts and bolts to prove their point about sex it’s a safe bet they’re not much of a do it yourselfer.

hurricane_bolt

Hey look…it screws in the wall…and then another a screw goes into it. Hardware bisexuality!  Or…versatility of you like.  Pissst…Hey Bob…if you think the militant homosexual agenda is a threat to our very existence, you really need to investigate the militant hurricane bolt agenda.  Seriously.  This is probably why they have hurricanes in places that allow this.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Militant Hurricane Bolt Agenda

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