"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Naked Men

I've been rolling this around in the back of my head for a couple of weeks, and I decided it's not something that should stay there.

I was participating in the comments at the SSM debate hosted by Right Off the Shore and got an email from one of the guys at the pro-marriage side asking me to remove the photo from my profile, since it would turn off conservatives who would not then read the arguments. There's enough holes in that to strain cheese, if you'll pardon the Wisconsin reference, but it's their fight and I didn't want to jeopardize their chances, so I took down the photo. It was this one. Nothing showing -- not like my dick was spotlighted or anything -- and I thought it fairly safe for any adult reader, which is, after all, my audience. I finally emailed him back and said that anyone who was turned off by that image wasn't going to pay attention to any arguments anyway, but it was his fight.

I sort of dropped out of the discussion after that -- I'm long past the point where I have to apologize to anyone for being gay, and the totalitarians of the left leave the same taste in my mouth that the totalitarians of the right do, and if you think you have to fight for freedom by censoring those on your side, what is it, exactly, you're fighting for?.

But back to the images, since it's just another facet of the so-called "culture war" (I hope you've noticed that the Christianists want to govern the content of art and literature, as well as everything else). I make pictures of landscapes, close-up abstract natural forms, oddball city views that I like, and naked men. All pretty much part of the standard modernist repertoire. I don't see the naked men as necessarily sexual, although in some images that is the point. I am, however, bemused by the kind of mind that sees any nudity at all as sexual. (Sorry, but one of my most important themes is innocence -- I'd like to do something on the order of Bruce Weber's Bear Pond one of these days -- because to me, that is one of the most enduring and appealing characteristics of men. Somehow, if you dig under the exterior, you will find innocence. Some people just can't see it. 'Nuff said?)

There are other things in those images -- grief and loss, for starters. I've lost a lot of men I loved in the past thirty years.

I also sometimes do classic (or nearly classic -- I have my own ideas on balanced composition) figure studies, as abstract as anyone else has ever done.

So, in case any "conservatives" who get turned off by art are looking, this is what it's about -- these are pictures of men mostly without clothes, not, to my mind, particularly titillating. I will admit that there are images that are much more frank at Hunter's Eye because not every image is meant to say the same thing, but each, to me, has something to say about men, because men are a lot of things, and they don't all have to do with sex.

About the Rabids

I haven't been paying enough attention to "ex-gay" organizations here. I don't have much to say about them that hasn't been said elsewhere -- they are dangerous, unscrupulous, and prey on the vulnerable -- but in light of the spin they are giving the recent APA conference in New Orleans, it worth noting a couple of things.

Wayne Besen, long-time activist and founder of Truth Wins Out, has this nice dissection of statements actually made at the conference and the distortions being promulgated by NARTH and Exodus International. Also, check out this comment by Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin about the vulnerability of these organizations on "informed consent." They are, in Besen's analysis, setting themselves up for malpractice suits.

I think that would be nice. I remain convinced that the way to pull some teeth out of these yahoos is to sue them for major damages. Millions. Tens of millions. More.

On a more general note, I should clarify my attitude toward the Christianist right. I don't necessarily think that anyone who disagrees with me on certain issues, particularly gay issues, is a bigot or a liar, but, based on the evidence, I am persuaded that the ringleaders of the movement -- Donald Wildmon, Peter LaBarbera, Lou Sheldon, James Dobson, Ralph Reed, that whole crew -- are deliberately distorting information to gain political power. (Although I have the sense that LaBarbera is such a freak because he is fighting his own proclivities. I could be wrong -- it's almost too perfect a textbook example.) Hence, I feel no compunction about calling them liars, because I can demonstrate that they are. I will grant that their followers are often sincere in their beliefs, if somewhat confused, and too easily led. Those mentioned, along with their fellow-travelers, are really spearheading the Christian Dominionist goal of turning the USA into a fundamentalist Christian theocracy, although they won't admit it publicly. All you have to do, however, is read some of their stuff (which, granted, I do seldom -- it really does upset my stomach) to see their methods and spot their subtext. (A case in point: Peter LaBarbera's website for his new organization has a "resources" pages on which he lists "pro-homosexual" resources and "pro-truth" resources. I think the perversion of the language in this case if fairly obvious: everyone who thinks that gays should be treated like real people is a liar, while those who are distorting evidence, making up facts, etc., are "pro-Truth." Please.)

So, I can understand that some people, because of their religious beliefs, upbringing, or their social context, have trouble accepting gay men and lesbians as normal. However, if they refuse to recognize the limits of their right to practice their beliefs, and also refuse to look at the evidence when it is clearly presented, then I have no sympathy: they deserve whatever name they wind up with. It won't be a nice one.

And, as a final note in this last context, I do seem to have been blocked from commenting at GayPatriot, although I haven't actually made an inquiry. Anyone who reads this blog, or has experience of my comments in others, knows that I can be a little sharp when faced with idiots, but I'm never really vicious. In fact, in the case of GayPatriot, I've only ever really pointed out that they are not investigating questions fully (granted, I may have said things which could be interpreted as nasty, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder), which apparently they don't want to hear. Let's hear it for the free exchange of ideas, by which the guys at GayPatriot set such store. As long as you agree with them. (I'm thinking of starting a new heading in my links column: Alternate Realities. Maybe GayPatriot will be the first entry.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Y'know, six years ago, this would have been the most outrageous story ever printed in an American newspaper. This story is from NYT, a reprise of this one from the San Francisco Chronicle:

"We haven't heard about this happening -- U.S. citizens being refused the right to return from abroad without any charges or any basis," said Mass, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union.

McGregor Scott, the U.S. attorney for California's eastern district, confirmed Friday that the men were on the no-fly list and were being kept out of the country until they agreed to talk to federal authorities.

"They've been given the opportunity to meet with the FBI over there and answer a few questions, and they've declined to do that," Scott said.

Mass said Jaber Ismail had answered questions during an FBI interrogation at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad soon after he was forced back to Pakistan. She said the teenager had run afoul of the FBI when he declined to be interviewed again without a lawyer and refused to take a lie-detector test.

So basically, the kid and his father -- American citizens -- are being told they can't come home until they give up their rights.

Of course, in the past six years we've had the Patriot Act, the unitary executive, Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, Plamegate, energy policy written by the oil industry, environmental policy written by the owners and operators of coal-burning powerplants, foreign policy written by Israel, displayed incompetence at every level and on every occasion, not to mention extra-constitutional, everyday run-of-the-mill corruption at record-breaking levels.

I know of people (and I regret to say that I actually know some specifically) who will automatically assume that the father and son in question in this article must be a threat to national security because otherwise, why would the government do that? Notwithstanding the fact that the president has repeatedly stated that he doesn't need a reason to do anything -- he's the president, and that's enough. These people are, of course, completely oblivious to the real meaning of this story: we live in a police state. It's not a possibility, it's not threatened, it's not something in our future.

We live in it. Right now.

Take that to bed with you tonight.

(Update: For some reason, when you click the link to the SF Chronicle article from here, you get a blank page, but when you click from Glenn Greenwald's post, you get the article. Same link. Honest. Go figure.)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Left Side, Right Side, Far Side

By way of explanation, aside from Blogger Beta snarls, I've been pretty busy with music reviews lately. One thing I've noticed, though, a product of my habit of emailing myself links from interesting news stories to blog about later: if you let a headline sit for a couple of days, it goes beyond old news. You begin to see how much of the stuff we're getting worked up over every day is pretty trivial.

Case in point: the deletion of evolutionary biology from the list of acceptable majors for low-income student grants, ascribed to a "clerical error" (I know -- sounds fake from the get-go, but. . . .). The left-wing blogosphere is all over this, conspiracy theories flying as they charge into battle. The damning evidence? Two days after the elision is discovered, it still hasn't been restored! Lord. Love. A. Duck. This is the government we're talking about -- these people can't do anything in less than six months. Give it a while. If it's not back on the list in a reasonable length of time, then we should be asking some hard questions. I'm starting to think rightwing paranoid conspiracy juju is taking over the entire country. (I have all sorts of links to the outrage/gnashing of teeth/wild-eyed hysteria somewhere. Not here. If I find them, I'll update.)

One tidbit I did want to share: It looks as though Gay Patriot has me blocked from commenting -- not that they can't deal with open and intelligent discussion, but my comment on this post on the Democrats' culture of corruption hit a "spam filter." The post itself strikes me as either an attempt at Rovian discourse or a complete departure from the real world (not that there's a lot of difference). The comment was (and this won't make any sense until you read the post):

Hmm, let's see. . . .

Jefferson under investigation, Democrats, at Pelosi's insistence, strip him of committee assignments.

DeLay indicted, Republicans try to change the ethics rules so he can remain Speaker.

Nice try.

We'll see if it gets posted at all.

That said, I was going to do a post about reading, but I don't feel like it. What I am going to do today is to focus a bit on my own fiction -- I have some stories that really do need to be worked on, and I have finally figured out where The Fantasy Novel From Hell needs to point itself at this stage.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Go, Blogger!

OK -- I've now been forcibly converted to Blogger Beta. As a result, I can no longer post comments on anyone else's blog. Aside from automatically logging me on from my Google account, which I don't want to do, the system now refuses to recognize my username and/or password when I try to comment at places, like, for example, CabanaBoyScoot.

What an effin' mess!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

This Is Important

From Paul Hackett at Daily Kos.

In Ohio and across the country, leaders of a political movement opposed to basic principles of American democracy seek to create a "Christian nation." While claiming up and down they do not want a theocracy, their acts, associations and the words used among themselves prove otherwise. They have spent the past thirty years developing an elaborate grassroots infrastructure while the rest of us moderate Ohioans and Americans have functioned in a "business as usual" manner.. . .

Back in 1989, when founding the Christian Coalition Pat Robertson said:

The mission of the Christian Coalition is simple. It is to mobilize Christians -- one precinct at a time, one community at a time -- until once again we are the head and not the tail, and at the top rather than the bottom of our political system.

I've been saying it for a while.

People just don't seem to get it that the anti-gay and anti-choice initiatives are just the opening wedge. (And, in the larger context, "anti-choice" is just what this movement is about, across the board.)

(Thanks to Digby.)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I Love My New Map

I'm worldwide -- US (coast to coast), Canada, UK, Germany, looks like maybe Poland and Sweden, possibly one of the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Australia, South Africa, Spain, Portugal, maybe Mallorca? (Who do I know in Mallorca? I don't know anybody in Mallorca.)

Hey, y'all -- take a second to say hello when you stop by.

(What. A. Rush.)

Thursday, August 17, 2006


This is a response to Scoot's post, Was Everyone Just a Bit Gayer Then?", at CabanaBoyScoot -- go read it first.

This post is somewhat tangential to Scoot's, but I think it's not, really. This whole discussion is really tied up with the American conception of masculinity. It's more than a little ironic, to start, that in traditional American families (which still make up the majority in terms of attitudes), women taught boys to be men because successful fathers, by that standard, were never around -- they were off at work, supporting the family. Tied to this is the phenomenon characteristic of American society of "real male dominance." An offshoot of the European model of "mythical male dominance," in which men were the titular authorities but women had strong and definite influence, in America men really were the authority, largely, I think, as a result of our history as a frontier nation.

Consequently, we wind up with the singular American idea of "masculinity": a real man is emotionally self-contained, competent, authoritative, undemonstrative, and thoroughly heterosexual -- for this last, until the past couple of generations, there was no real alternative for masculine men.

Scoot notes in his update the context of locker rooms, group showers, and sex-segregated swimming and gym classes (which I remember well). There is one thing that he doesn't mention, which is, I think, the telling detail: you didn't look at other men's bodies. Ever. Yes, there was a certain comfort level there, men and boys being nude in a group (as well as a lot of surreptitious glances) but I think the key factor in the changing attitude, as witnessed by the facilities in modern gyms, has much more to do with concepts of personal privacy than any rise in the degree of discomfort due to the increased visibility (and acceptance) of gay men. Cruising is still a no-no (at least in "straight" gyms), and even noticing each other is a social faux pas of a fairly high order, but it's one well established in tradition. If you looked, back then, you were a "homo," and while most of us didn't have a clear idea of what that meant, even in high school, we knew enough to know you didn't want to be one.

I think one only has to spend some time at a nude beach to see that the comfort level is still there for many people, but the same behavioral requirements apply. It is, of course, a different story at gay beaches. (Although for anyone raised traditionally, allowing one's self to look at other men, particularly eye contact and particularly if they are nude, is still a problem.)

There is also the traditional proscription against public nudity, which, in the fluid way that these things are interpreted on a day-to-day basis, came to mean nudity outside of same-sex environments. America, like any other nation, goes through periods of openness and repression -- a gay pride parade in the 1980s, for example, was a lot worse, from the conservative Christian point of view, than a gay pride parade now, and this is a group that one might expect to be much more relaxed about things like nudity.

As regards Deux's putative reaction about the feminization of education, I'm not so sure: masculinity in this country, particularly, is a mess, going back to that traditional standard of the remote, uninflected male. My own feeling is that it's built on false premises which are finally showing cracks in the foundation. (See the bit above about "real male dominance.") "Maculinity" was the kind of edifice that could stand as long as it was unquestioned. As soon as anyone says "wait a minute," the whole thing starts to come down, and we have no internal models to take its place.

It's become a defensive sort of structure. Call it an incomplete social transition: pre-Stonewall, just to pick a not-so-arbitrary cutoff point, traditional masculinity allowed for friendships between men, which, while not overtly as rich as those that feminists now demand, contained a great deal of subtext on mutual emotional involvement and support. (Traditional men, after all, were not overt creatures.) Younger men could get away with more overt behavior and demonstrations of affection because they were, after all, young -- beta males, at best, and so less was expected of them in terms of adopting the authority of the mature male. Now, of course, expressions of affection are open to gross misinterpretation and there is the fact that, while many people are, publicly at least, willing to accept gays, there is still a great deal of fear among men of being thought gay because there is still a perception that gay men are not "real men," no matter our adoption of the traditional stereotype. (Another irony: I've discovered that the less I concern myself with my own masculinity, the more masculine I am perceived to be.)

Another factor: men and intimacy. It's still a problem for most men, and "social nudity" places a strain on our ability to deal with it because of the gay thing. Men are perfectly capable of being intimate without a sexual overtone, but -- and here I will certainly grant a putative point to a putative response by Deux -- the feminist interpretation of intimacy has taken over, so that if you're not intimate in the way that feminism demands, you're not intimate. (Yes, in certain areas men and women do inhabit different universes and simply cannot comprehend each other. Let it rest.)

Scoot asks: "Have contemporary straight men become so obsessed with the thought that they might be perceived as gay by the mere glance at another man that society has changed this abruptly and this puritanically?" No. First off, society hasn't changed that much. The emphasis is slightly different, but the elements are pretty much the same. As I noted above, ideas of personal privacy coupled with an incomplete transition to the acceptance of gay men is tied in with the insistence that intimacy between men must contain a sexual component (two thoughts on this: on the one hand, it's a capitulation to the idea that nudity is by definition sexual -- thanks tons, Sigmund, for the death of innocence -- and secondly, so what? We're grown-ups here, we can deal with it -- except, of course, that we're not, yet.). Our culture is increasingly sexualized (another incomplete transition, since we still can't deal with it all that comfortably), and the lack of foundation for a new definition of masculinity in the context of another period of increasing repression (which seems to be a losing battle, at this point -- in earlier periods, the forces of virtue didn't have to deal with mass advertising techniques), I think are all contributing factors to what Scoot perceives as obsession.

We're an obsessive society. Just look around you. I don't think, however, that we've forgotten how to be men. We're just casting around for a new definition.


Blogger has really screwed up. Not only are they introducing a Blogger Beta (shudder), but you can now also sign in with a Google account. I have a Google account, which I don't want to use here. I also have a Blogger account. But the damned sign-in keeps automatically signing me in on a Google account, no matter which account I try to sign in on. Now, if I want to post here, I have to go through the sign up for Beta, at which point it tells me that they can't sign me up for Beta yet.

Then I can sign in.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The New Republican Strategy

Run two candidates: Lieberman and Schlesinger in Connecticut, and Santorum and Romanelli in Pennsylvania.

How many do you think they'll run in Ohio?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Gayer Now?

Scootmaroo has a real interesting post up today. Go read it. Expect a post from me in response. (I'm working on it, but it's kind of a ramble right now -- too much to say.)

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Looking at my new toy -- the ClusterMap at the bottom of the sidebar. I had a visitor from China! That's exciting. (Welcome, and I hope you'll come back.)

I seem to be a big hit in Chicago and San Francisco. Also a visitor from UK. (So where are my Australian hits, hmmm?) Germany -- I think I know who that is. (Hey, Firle!)

And Kansas. Wow. (Hmm -- I think I know who that might be, as well.)

This is fun. I'm glad I installed this thing.

At Random, 8/13/06

The Rule of Law:

There's a great and shattering irony in Justice Kennedy's words. I'm actually prepared to believe his sincerity. (I wonder if I would be if it had been Antonin Scalia? But then, I can't imagine Scalia giving such a speech.)

This is, if anything, even more ironic:

American Bar Association President Michael Greco discussed some of the same themes as he introduced Kennedy.

"Any threat to liberties and human rights in one country is a threat to the citizens of all nations," Greco said. "The most fundamental responsibility of members of the legal profession is to ensure that the law is used as an instrument to advance the basic principles of justice, fairness and equality."

Sorry, but reading this, I couldn't help thinking of lawyers like Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, and John Ashcroft. They sort of make ambulance chasers look like saints.


Interesting debate going on, hosted by Right Off the Shore. This post has the links. Here is the second question in the debate.

Update: the second question and responses are here.

Sore Loserman:

In spite of what you may have heard from Rove and Company, Joe Lieberman is not a center-left candidate. He is a center-right spoiler and is now endangering, according to some sources, the Democrats' prospects of gaining control of the House.

Joe, I wouldn't vote for you for dogcatcher.

On Andersen et al:

My final comment is simply that in both the Washington and New York same-sex marriage decisions, the arguments are seriously flawed -- as bad as Bowers, which the Supreme Court not only overturned, but repudiated in fairly strong language, and, contrary to what seems to be the thrust of most commentaries, I don't see them as influential. I think they will be cited by courts who are inclined to agree with them anyway, but I think it's the dissents that are going to be law in short order.

The danger in both these decisions, as I've mentioned previously, is that they reveal an increasing unwillingness on the part of the courts to do their job. I can't ascribe this entirely to right-wing attacks on our independent judiciary, which is a concept that is anathema to the Christianists. However, I think that the corollary that shares part of the blame is that Reagan and Bush between them have packed the federal courts with conservative judges who are too prone to bow to the executive and legislative branches. In these cases, both decisions display undue deference to legislatures (although the Washington decision does quite remarkably all but demand the legislature change the law), and both are unwilling to consider the constitutional issues on quite flimsy reasoning. It's as though they did a lot of reasearch and intellectual backflilps to avoid doing their jobs.


Some thoughts by Jim Johnson of Straight Not Narrow on tradition. Worth reading and pondering. Sraight Not Narrow is a Christian site that is overtly critical of fundamentalists who use their religion as a club. They take on Focus on the Family, the American Family Association, and other "Christian" hate groups. Visit them.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

With Leaders Like This. . . .

The latest group of gay activists to lose their minds:

We seek access to a flexible set of economic benefits and options regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender/gender identity, class, or citizenship status.

We reflect and honor the diverse ways in which people find and practice love, form relationships, create communities and networks of caring and support, establish households, bring families into being, and build innovative structures to support and sustain community.

This document reads like science fiction from the Golden Age: idealistic, hopeful, and completely out of touch.

Wayne Besen, who provided the link, thinks this is a sell-out. I just find it irrelevant.

If the country is having this much trouble dealing with same-sex marriage as a one-on-one committed and legally recognized relationship, what the hell do these people think the reacion is going to be to something that sounds like nothing so much as a gay hippie commune?

This is reflective of something that has caused no end of impatience on my part with the gay movement -- we are overly inclusive. Yes, liberal politics depend on coalition building, but tailoring our movement to fit the needs of others is not the answer.

Talk to me again fifty years after same-sex marriage is legal in this country.


Andersen, et al.

I've read Johnson's concurrence in Andersen again, and managed to get a copy of the opinions in Herndandez vs Robles, the New York State case that is, indeed, even a worse example of judicial reasoning than Andersen. Rather than giving a blow-by-blow of either, since both contain dissents that are right on target, I may just make some summary comments -- after I've had a chance to think about them some more (and after I get through a couple more reviews and a letters column -- I'm on deadline).

Sunday, August 06, 2006

In the Matter of Andersen, Part I

I did sit down and read the opinions, and Dale Carpenter's comments, over again, in full. and I wasn't so far off my original assessment: the plurality opinion, with concurrences, is so far off base as to be obviously grasping at any means, no matter how transparent, to avoid upsetting the status quo. (Or, given the justices' obvious discomfort with the decision, perhaps it's more a matter of avoiding the reaction of the rabids, should the court find as the Washington constitution actually requirs.) One can see, by the beginning of the third paragraph, that Justice Madsen's basis for this decision is beyond weak. "[W]e have engaged in an exhaustive constitutional inquiry and have deferred to the legislative branch as required by our tri-partite form of government." This is a recurring theme and to me (as well as to the dissenting justices in this case) marks nothing so much as an abdication of the court's responsibility for judicial review. (In fact, Justice Chambers wrote a separate dissent addressing just this issue.)

The plurality goes on to note that its decision "accords with the substantial weight of authority from courts considering similar constitutional claims," although the opinion is notably lacking in citations to support this contention. (I, a layman, am aware of decisions in Hawai'i [ Baehr v Lewin, in which the court found that Hawai's marriage law violated the constitutional rights of plaintiffs], Alaska [Brause et al. v. Bureau of Vital Statistics, in which the court granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs and required the state to present compelling arguments for denying a marriage license; mooted by a constitutional amendment], and Vermont [Baker et al v State of Vermont (PDF), in which the court found Vermont's marriage laws unconstitutional but instructed the legislature to develop a remedy], as well as Goodridge in Massachusetts, that arrived at the opposite conclusion. I seem to remember a couple of cases that found against same-sex marriage, but I haven't managed to locate any citations.) These cases are cited later in the opinion, in relation to the suspect class question, but the grounds on which they are referenced seem to undercut the courts determination that gays and lesbians do not constitute a suspect class (although the opinion rightly notes that the question is controversial and that evidence supporting such a designation was not presented).

The plurality also seems to think that, because in both Alaska and Hawai'i constitutional emendments were rushed through on a wave of hysteria, those courts' findings are somehow not particularly valid.

The court's analysis is the least rigorous possible, which in itself raises questions as to the court's willingness to actually evaluate the issues in this case. My disagreements are what might be expected: the question is very narrowly constructed, and in my opinion (as well as that of the dissenting justices) is the wrong question. It's the Scalia stand-by (stated even more strongly by Justice Johnson in his concurrence): the question is not whether the constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage, but whether the constitution guarantees the right to marry the person of one's choice and whether and to what degree the constitution allows state intrusion into that decision. This is something that justices Fairhurst and Bridge address quite cogently and solidly in their dissenting opinions.

My bottom line is simply that the plurality opinion by Justice Madsen and concurrence by Justice Johnson are marred by circular reasoning, too narrow an interpretation of the question, overly deferential attitude toward the legislature, and in some instances outright misstatements of fact (Johnson pooh-poohs the idea that the Washington state DOMA was motivated by animus, althoough Justice Chambers is able to cite extensively from public testimony and the legislative record of the debate to demonstrate that that was, indeed, the case.)

In terms of the discomfort level of the court with this decision, that is fairly obvious, not only by the tone of the plurality opinion, but by the fact that Chief Justice Alexander submitted a separate, one-page concurrence specifically to note that nothing precludes the legislature from redefining marriage.

Justice Johnson's concurrence deserves separate commentary, because it is so bad that one can hardly believe it was drafted by a member of Washington's high court rather than the Washington office of Focus on the Family. More on that one later.

I had intended to do a more detailed deconstruction, but it's really not necessary -- the dissents have done it for me, and quite brilliantly. I'll treat them, as well.


I'm sitting here with a pile of print-outs -- the various opinions from Andersen vs. King County. At first glance, the plurality and concurrences are as hopeless as I had thought -- narrow, asking the wrong questions, riddled with circular arguments and misrepresentations of fact. Look for more detailed commentary as I have time. I may also go back to the New York decision, which as I recall is even worse.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Just a little news from the "me" front. I've been madly trying to pound out reviews with not much success -- the heat, and too many complicated things to review, and a heavy work schedule. Note the upcoming review of Ellen Kushner's Privilege of the Sword, which will be up at GMR on August 13. For August 27, I am already slated for a twofer review of Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly and Richard Linklater's film adaptation. There will also be an omni of George Alec Effinger's Marid Audran series.

For music, there will be some nice contemporary avant-garde (Philip Glass, Olivier Greif, John Luther Adams) some Turkish classical music, more Central Javanese gamelan, an opera by Haydn, some other things spanning my usual range of geography and centuries.

I've just started working on a review of a scandalously bad "New Age" book that has all the faults I despise in "philosophical" writing. That will be at Rambles, at some point.

I am also trying to figure out a way to consolidate the Brokeback posts, so I can clean up my sidebar and put them all together. Maybe I'll do a final comment, as well. (If anyone knows any tricks for doing that, I'd love ot hear about it. Right now I'm thinking of setting up a site on Earthlink and linking to it from here.)

Have to do some writing. Next time.

PS -- congrats to Scootmaroo at Cabana Boy Scoot for his entry into the big time.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

At Random, 8/2/06

This Really Pisses Me Off:

I got this story in an email at work.

Knight says the local Meade newspaper is trying to put him out of business and was frustrated when it ran an article about the flag and did not even bother to contact him regarding why he put it up. In fact, most people we spoke to in Meade said they didn’t even know what the flag meant until the article ran. But once word got around, the reaction was harsh.. . . .

Knight says his son gave him the flag after a trip to Dorothy's house, a museum about the Wizard of Oz. The flag reminded the boy of "somewhere over the rainbow."

Knight's son is twelve years old, and just liked the flag. These are "values" Americans. One seriously wonders what American values they hold.

I also got a follow-up email: Knight is getting a lot of support, tons of e-mails and letters, and people making a point of stopping by if they're in the area.

I think it would be appropriate to write a letter to the local paper (the Meade County News, which doesn't appear to have a website) and also to the Knights to show your support: innkeeper@lakewayhotel.com

Of Note

A very nice dissection of right-wing rhetoric, by paulsavage at Epinions.

Evolution on the Rollercoaster

I seem to remember predicting this some while back: the anti-evolutionists have have lost the Kansas school board. Again.

On Tuesday, three members of the majority faced GOP primary foes who support evolution. A fourth Republican conservative is retiring, and her seat was up for grabs.

The fifth seat was held by Janet Waugh, a Kansas City Democrat who opposed the new standards. Facing a more conservative Democrat who favored the anti-evolution language, she won with 65 percent of the vote and will be unopposed in the fall.

With the unofficial count virtually complete, two of the three conservative Republican incumbents — John Bacon and Ken Willard — held onto their spots on the ballot.

However, the third conservative, Connie Morris, lost to Sally Cauble, a moderate Republican who supports evolution. Meanwhile, the Republican nod for the board's open seat went to another moderate, Jana Shaver. That combination would swing the balance of power toward those who oppose the board's current educational standards.

Gibson and Coulter

From Andrew Sullivan:

Both Coulter and Gibson have made a fortune catering to bigotry. But one is sincere; and one is completely cynical. In some ways, perhaps, an argument could be made that Gibson is preferable.

I noted in my brief digression on bigotry a couple of days ago that in my opinion, if you think your emotional biases are justified solely because you believe in them, then you are more of a bigot -- you're not amenable to reason or even self-interest. Frankly, Coulter turns my stomach; Gibson has turned a gift into a travesty. It's a hard call, but I'd say on that basis, Gibson is the worse bigot -- there's no evidence that Coulter is really a bigot at all, just a cynical manipulator. The same could be said of George W. Bush -- supposedly he's very supportive of gays personally, but he has no compunctions about joining the bashing when there's political support at stake.

Sullivan finished by asking why Coulter is still on TV. That should be obvious -- she sells.

Besen on Andersen

A small item I neglected to comment on, from Wayne Besen:

But Justice Madsen wrote that the plaintiffs were not entitled to such review because they had not demonstrated that homosexuality is an immutable characteristic like race or gender."

Besen ascribes it to swallowing ex-gay propaganda, and frankly, the whole opinion reflects that attitude: I keep running across statements in the opinion that come straight out of Exodus Ministries, Focus on the Family, Family Research Institute (an official hate group) and the like. This is just one more example of the intellectual poverty of this decision. I don't really care that GayPatriot and Dale Carpenter think it's solid -- quite aside from the Christianist talking points, the opinion is a prime example of John Yoo justice. It simply confirms my opinion that GayPatriot and Carpenter are missing something somewhere -- like a moral foundation.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

How Kids Thrive

Vis-a-vis the Andersen decision, via Pam's House Blend, from a story on CNN:

A woman who molested at least one of her five children and prompted four of them to have sex with each other has been sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Robin Kraft, 26, had pleaded guilty in June to two charges of rape and four counts of child endangering. Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge David Davis on Friday imposed the maximum sentence, saying Kraft should not be released from prison while she can bear children.

...Prosecutors said Kraft and her husband, Paul Kraft, 32, sexually abused their four sons and one daughter, ages 1 to 6, in 2004.

In March, Paul Kraft received five life sentences on five rape charges and 96 additional years on 12 charges of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor. He is ineligible for parole.

I would love to see what similar evidence the Washington court has on children of gay couples. Oh, wait . . . evidence isn't relevant in this case.