"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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy Hogmanay! Add Scotland To the List

Marriages started at midnight in Scotland, bringing the list of countries that recognize same-sex marriage to -- hmm, I've lost count. OK, according to Freedom to Marry,

Eighteen countries have approved the freedom to marry for same-sex couples nationwide (Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, France, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand, Britain, Luxembourg and Finland), while two others have regional or court-directed provisions enabling same-sex couples to share in the freedom to marry (Mexico and the United States).

So Scotland makes it nineteen with nationwide recognition.

Here's the story on the first same-sex wedding in Scotland -- a humanist wedding, no less.

(click to embiggen)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Now It's Going To Get Tricky

My post-2010 book reviews from Green Man Review are now linked on the "Reviews" pages.

Now I have to go back into my own files and search out each review from before 2011.

But first maybe I'll tackle the music reviews.

Yeah, that's it -- I'll do the post-2010 music reviews.

Update: There were exactly two that hadn't been moved to Sleeping Hedgehog.

That means I really have to start digging around in the old editions. sigh

And a question for you, Gentle Reader: I've been noting for those reviews Sleeping Hedgehog that were originally published at GMR that that is, indeed, the case. Is it really necessary?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Marriage News Watch, December 29, 2014

Something big's going to happen in Florida next week, we just don't know what yet. The Supreme Court is going to examine multiple marriage cases in early January. And new polling shows support for marriage higher than ever.

The Florida situation doesn't strike me as confusion so much as the attorneys for the county clerks' association giving the clerks cover. The idea that something is unconstitutional in one county is more than a little ludicrous, but that's the way lawyers think -- especially if their client wants them to think that way. When that fails, I guess the next step will be "deeply held religious beliefs." And note the resounding silence from AG Pam Bondi (whom the Tampa Bay Times has named "Loser of the Year").

Footnote: I found this pretty amusing, from Tony Perkins at FRC (once you wade through the lies):

Yet DESPITE THE HATE, the lawless attacks, the manipulation, it is our cause—and not the Left—that is ending the year with the momentum and poised to move forward. For this, we can thank God. And we can also take heart. 2015 will be a decisive year.

Two points: Projection is the default position for Tony Perkins. And second, I think that 2014 was the decisive year -- 2015 is just going to be clean-up.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Hero or Three

I don't know if you've been following the story of Arnold Abbott, the 90 year-old man who's been arrested three time for violating Ft. Lauderdale's ordinance against feeding the homeless, but he's finally gotten the recognition he deserves:

The Farver Foundation, which says it "focuses primarily on supporting charitable activities that are community oriented and which address health, education, nutrition and youth development" has named Arnold Abbott its Humanitarian of the Year. The award includes a $15,000 check for Abbott's "Love Thy Neighbor" group, which feeds the homeless in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

I'm pretty sure Ft. Lauderdale is not the only city to pass ordinances banning feeding the homeless, but you have to wonder what these people are thinking. I'm reminded of nothing so much as this story, about trick-or-treaters coming in from "those neighborhoods."

For the love of Christ -- and you do remember what most people in this country celebrate this time of year, don't you? -- get over yourselves and display some humanity.

Here's another story in the same vein -- but at least in Toronto, they don't arrest you for feeding the homeless.

After Screwing My Courage to the Sticking Point

I started linking to the Green Man Review book reviews. It appears that Glen Cook is my most-reviewed author, followed by Steven Brust, Patricia A. McKillip, Charles de Lint, and C. J. Cherryh, in no particular order. (Don't start counting titles on me -- I haven't moved a lot of the McKillip reviews yet.)

And it's going to be even more complicated than I had thought -- not only do I have the "old" (pre-2011) listings to work through, but the powers that be have started adding reviews as posts rather than pages. I think.

I'll figure it out. I always do.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Another Christmas Story

This one, via Digby. It's a quick read, and I'm going to give you the punch line -- but you'll have to read the story to get it:
I didn't say get the story. I said get the kid his peaches.

It's about working on a newspaper in the 1950s, but it's about a lot more than that: it's about what we've lost, now that we've become a money-driven corporate culture. And it's about what Christmas should mean.

And another:
The comedian Margaret Cho has been busking around her hometown, singing, plinking on her guitar and nearly stripping to raise money for the homeless. San Francisco has pop-up restaurants, art galleries and shops, but Ms. Cho’s may be the first pop-up charity.

Through social media, she has notified fans, who brought coats, pants, shirts, shoes, blankets and lots of socks as well as cash, which she gave away at each event. Her ninth and final performance was on Tuesday.

Via Balloon Juice.

I can related to this, big time -- I came really close to living on the street a number of years back. Being me, of course, my biggest worry was how I was going to take care of Ben. Fortunately, it didn't happen, but it happens way too much -- we're the fucking richest country on earth, and we have people living on the streets while presidential candidates are putting in elevators for their cars?

So my year-end giving, such as it is, is to Ali Forney Center and food banks, stuff like that. Because that was almost me.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

And Regarding "Peace on Earth"

have you noticed the silence on the right about the news on the economy?

So, what’s the Republican reaction to the latest GDP numbers, for example?


Note, I don’t mean “nothing” in a colloquial sense, as if they issued press releases that struck me as vapid and meaningless. Rather, I mean “nothing” in a literal sense. I went to the homepages for John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, the RNC, the NRSC, the NRCC, and the RGA. Collectively, they didn’t publish a single word about the striking economic growth.

So, I moved on to Twitter, checking the feeds for Boehner, McConnell, Reince Priebus, the RNC, the NRSC, the NRCC, and the RGA. Again, literally nothing.

What can they say -- even "Benghazi!!1!" is a little stale at this point, and now that the Republican Congress has released its "IRS scandal report" showing no wrongdoing by the White House, there's not much left. (Oh, and don't think, "Well, it's the holidays, they're all away from Washington." They're posting and publishing on other things -- but not the economy.)

And no, I'm not surprised that we haven't heard from the great economic policy wonk, Paul Ryan. When your whole philosophy is based on bad fantasy novels, what can you say?

Given that their economic policies have never worked, and that the Democrats have once again pulled the economy out of the toilet -- well, apparently not one of them is a big enough person to just say "I was wrong."

This Is the Way to Celebrate Christmas

Presented without further comment:

In Hiroshima Peace Park, built to commemorate the victims of the first nuclear attack, there is a statue of a young girl holding a golden origami crane. On its base are inscribed these words: “This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world.” The memorial was built by the efforts of the classmates of Sadako Sasaki, the subject of that statue, who was only two years old when the United States dropped the nuclear bomb, code-named “Little Boy,” about a mile from where Sadako lived.

Ten years after Little Boy decimated Hiroshima, Sadako, like so many other Japanese children, came down with leukemia as a result of her exposure to radiation. The prognosis for anyone with leukemia in those days was “terminal.” There was no hope. A friend of Sadako’s, Chizuko Hamamoto, visiting her in the hospital, reminded the suffering girl of a Japanese fable; if one folded a thousand paper cranes, the gods would grant their wish. Then Chizuko picked up a gold-colored piece of paper and folded a crane, telling Sadako, “Here is your first one.”

Click through and read the whole story.

And just to drive the point home, check back on this post and this one.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"Happy, Merry, Blessed"

and while I'm thinking of it, "joyeux" as well.

There -- that ought to cover all the bases.

Note to Bill O'Reilly: You may think you've won the War on Christmas that you invented, but CTA buses still say "Happy Holiday" and "Season's Greetings."

The FDA's New Blood Ban

Which is what it amounts to. Towleroad has the most complete summary of the situation I've seen so far:

The new changes would finally allow gay men to participate in blood drives provided that they had not engaged in sexual contact with other men for at least a year, however.

Here's the agency's press release, which makes a lot of claims but doesn't quite convince me:

Over the past several years, in collaboration with other government agencies, the FDA has carefully examined and considered the available scientific evidence relevant to its blood donor deferral policy for men who have sex with men, including the results of several recently completed scientific studies and recent epidemiologic data. Following this review, and taking into account the recommendations of advisory committees to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FDA, the agency will take the necessary steps to recommend a change to the blood donor deferral period for men who have sex with men from indefinite deferral to one year since the last sexual contact.

John Aravosis has a good post with some of the responses, as does Joe Jervis.

I'm usually willing to acknowledge baby steps in the right direction, but there is simply no justification for the FDA's recommended change; of course, there was no justification for the lifetime ban to begin with. From all I've been able to find, the new policy does not reflect current science or accepted procedures for other groups. As HRC noted in its response, "The American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, and the American Association of Blood Banks have characterized the blood ban as medically and scientifically unwarranted as far back as 2006."

Seems like Obama hasn't been all that successful in weeding out the homophobia in the Executive Branch.

What a Difference a Year Makes

A nice little Christmas present, via Joe.My.God. -- a map showing marriage equality states then and now:

Monday, December 22, 2014

Marriage News Watch, December 22, 2014

Florida clerks can start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples in January -- but if they do, they could risk arrest and jail time. An anti-gay group in Hawaii is still trying -- and failing -- to stop marriages. And things are still looking bad for the National Organization for Marriage.

The comments on NOM, while a little unusual for AFER, are pretty much on point.

Florida seems to be adopting the Kansas strategy -- fight tooth and nail, county by county -- and all that's going to happen is that it's going to cost their taxpayers a lot of money.

Another Hanky Time Video

'Tis the season. Unfortunately, I can't embed the video, but it's via AmericaBlog.

A screen cap:


Sunday, December 21, 2014


OK -- my reviews from Sleeping Hedgehog are now all linked from the "Reviews" pages. Really. Truly.

Eventually, I will get up the nerve to tackle the Green Man Review material, which is going to be complicated -- many of those have been moved over to Sleeping Hedgehog, but not necessarily deleted from GMR.

Wish me luck.

Presenting the "Complete Picture"

This is the most jaw-dropping thing I've seen to come out of the whole Ferguson fiasco:

"There were people who came in and yes, absolutely lied under oath," he said. "Some lied to the FBI. Even though they’re not under oath, that’s another potential offense — a federal offense."

"I thought it was much more important to present the entire picture and say, 'Listen, this is what this witness says he saw,'" he added.

"Even though he wasn't there and we know he's lying."

I'm speechless.

"Home for the Holidays": Something To Think About

"Home for the Holidays" is an annual CBS special directed toward encouraging the adoption and fostering of children. This year, for the first time, it features a family headed by two men.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Image of the Week

I haven't done this in a while, but what the hell. We haven't had any snow to speak of so far, but the winter's still young. Although the days when I would go out shooting in a blizzard are long past.

More Music Reviews

I got up to "Various Artists" in the Sleeping Hedgehog music listing and realized that I was going to have to deal with the fifteen volumes of Central Javanese gamelan produced by John Noise Manis.

Next time. But I'm almost caught up.

Another Police Story

No, they're not all authoritarian assholes:

When Tarrant, Alabama Police Officer William Stacy was called to the Dollar General store on Saturday, December 6, he wasn’t especially surprised. “We get shoplifting calls at Dollar General all the time,” he tells Yahoo Parenting. “Usually people are stealing things like makeup or phone chargers – not things they need to get by.”

So when Stacy arrived to find 47-year-old Helen Johnson stealing eggs to feed her two daughters, her niece, and two young grandkids, he knew this incident was different. Johnson explained to Stacy that her family hadn’t eaten since Thursday. So instead of making an arrest, the officer, 23, bought Johnson a carton of eggs. “When she mentioned the kids and said they were hungry, that’s when I knew I wanted to buy the eggs,” Stacy says. “No matter what financial situation kids are in, it’s not their fault they’re hungry.”

Click through and read the follow-up. And if you can, make a donation to your local food bank.

Via Balloon Juice.


The only thing I have to say about Obama's move to normalize relations with Cuba is "Well, it's about freakin' time." Barbara O'Brien has the most cogent summation of the whole thing that I've seen:

For a lot of reasons many of you already brought up, there’s no downside to normalizing relations with Cuba. The old policy certainly did nothing to weaken Castro or set the people of Cuba free. Business interests in the U.S. welcome the change; Gulf Coast states especially could benefit. And, of course, this should provide an economic boost for the people of Cuba. Pope Francis himself helped broker the deal.

Click through -- it's not all that long, and it summarizes both the move and the Republican reaction pretty well. I especially like the quote from John Cole.

And here's a little background from the administration side.

I may publish updates on this one, if I run across some choice bits.

OK, this is choice, from Glenn Greenwald and Sam Stein, via Tom Levenson at Balloon Juice.

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 3.12.59 PM

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 3.16.33 PM

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Another Week

Until Christmas. I've probably posted this before, but I love it, especially this version -- it's just so nice and relaxed.

Culture Break: Ancient Music

Ever wonder what the music of the ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, or Greeks sounded like? We don't know for sure, but musicologists and music historians have come up with some possibilities.

This article from Raw Story, reprinted from Newsweek, describes one such attempt, by composer and musician Stef Conner, to reconstruct ancient Babylonian music:

But the words on the paper, the modern incarnations of these mineral etchings, were not enough for Conner. She wanted to know what these languages sounded like, to summon life from stone. Many of these poems and snatches of writings were sung and chanted, according to historians. The tunes played an important part in rituals in Mesopotamian societies, from funerals to lullabies, Conner says.

So she teamed up with Andy Lowings, who reconstructs ancient instruments and plays a mean lyre, a musical instrument with strings that resembles a harp. The two set out to create music that brings ancient Babylonian poetry to life, and The Flood is the result.

We tend to forget, at least we in the Western world, that most cultures didn't have what we call "concerts" -- music was part of what can only be described as theater/ritual/performance. Opera's really the closest we come, and that misses what is often the religious significance of performance. (Unless, of course, you're a diva fanboy.)

There's a soundtrack at the article that I can't embed here, but it's worth a listen.

The music itself reminds me a little bit of the musical form known as "gharnati," from medieval Iberia, as reconstructed by Jon Balke and Amina Alaoui and presented in the album Siwan, although there's obviously a much stronger Arabic influence here. (Although I can't help but wonder if the Babylonian original might not sound closer to this -- there's often an emphasis on the kind of embellishment in singing of the sort that Alaoui engages in here in non-Western music, particularly in the Middle East, and there's no telling how far back that tradition goes.)

We're on slightly firmer ground with ancient Greek music -- the records are better, we know more about the instruments and about the context. Here's a piece from Conrad Steinman's ensemble, Melpomen, from the album of the same name:

And of course I've reviewed some of this stuff:

Jon Balke/Amina Alaoui, Siwan

Conrad Steinman, Melpomen

The Police

This is an illuminating exchange, but this summation, I think, gives us a good idea of what the real problem is with too many of the police in this country:

"How about this: Listen to police officers' commands. Listen to what we tell you, and just stop," he said. "I think that eliminates a lot of problems."

"I think the nation needs to realize that when we tell you to do something, do it," he added.

And for some strange reason, the response from people who don't think they should be living in a police state seems to have struck a nerve.

Charles Wilson, national chairman of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, told TPM that he thought both sides had the right to express their opinions. But he has sensed a change among his peers.

"What you've got to understand is that cops don't like to be criticized. We have a hard job to do. ... Cops are just like everybody else, especially when they think they're doing the right thing," he said. "But I would have to tell you, yes, they have become quite a bit more defensive."

Contrast that with this statement from Andrew Hawkins, the Cleveland Browns player who wore a T-shirt calling for justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford III, both killed by police.

To clarify, I utterly respect and appreciate every police officer that protects and serves all of us with honesty, integrity and the right way. And I don’t think those kind of officers should be offended by what I did. My mom taught me my entire life to respect law enforcement. I have family, close friends that are incredible police officers and I tell them all the time how they are much braver than me for it. So my wearing a T-shirt wasn’t a stance against every police officer or every police department. My wearing the T-shirt was a stance against wrong individuals doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons to innocent people.

And just who, exactly, is the problem here?

You can read Hawkins' full statement at the link.

Addendum: CNN decided to do a special on cops involved in lethal force situations, and invited viewers to submit questions. The response was a bit more than they bargained for.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Today in "Disgusting People" -- An Antidote

Reading through the various blogs and news items this morning, I was about to get depressed all over again, from Bryan Fischer saying that Jesus would support torture (how's that for perversion?) to a spokesman for FRC saying he's not sure if gays should be executed, to outgoing Sen. Tom Coburn single-handedly blocking a bill to for a new veterans' outpatient care facility because it's "too nice", and Ted Cruz, just in general(he even manages to piss off other Republicans) -- well, you know it's endless.

Then I ran across this:

Click through for a transcript and the backstory.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Marriage News Watch, December 15, 2014 (Update)

South Carolina's anti-gay Attorney General may have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to gay rights groups. New research shows why marriage equality has been so successful so fast. And Hillary Clinton gets thanks for supporting the freedom to marry from an unlikely source.

There's also the possibility -- probability -- that other states that fought the decisions will also have to pay costs and attorneys' fees for the plaintiffs.

Update: Just ran across this in the comments to this post at Good As You:

Sunday, December 14, 2014

It's Begun

I've started pulling in the Sleeping Hedgehog music reviews. I'm sort of bemused by the range of music I've reviewed, there and elsewhere -- everything from Nickelback to Clannad to Bartók to Wagner's Ring, with a helping of gamelan and raga.

Sort of bears out my idea that "it's all just music."

Well, That's Unfortunate

The Senate passed the omnibus spending bill yesterday; Obama's expected to sign it. They didn't strip out any of the nasties that Republicans and "moderate" Democrats tucked in.

And who would have thought that Congress would be using fear of a shutdown as a smokescreen? Clever, aren't they?

More on the "National Security State"

From Digby, who starts off with the horrific story of a Mr. Bashmilah, a small businessman originally from Yemen who ran an import/export business in Indonesia, detained on a trip to visit his mother and eventually turned over to the CIA. That story's bad enough. Digby's commentary is what leapt out at me, though:

Our government officials showed us that they are hysterical panic artists who cannot be trusted to keep their wits about them during a crisis. They proved they will revert to superstition and primitivism when they are afraid. They are openly admitting it this week with all the excuses about how we need to understand the "atmosphere of [f]ear" they were living with in the aftermath of 9/11 and how the panic and hysteria of the moment led to all these "mistakes."

These are supposed to be professionals, people whose jobs it is to stay calm when the public is frightened. They are supposed to have the cool heads and the experience and training to keep it together in these situations. They are not supposed to be running around in circles, unable to figure out the difference between the enemy and some random guy who had a new passport. They were supposed to already know what countless studies dating back decades (centuries!) have shown: that torture doesn't work. They were supposed to be good at this.

Do I really need to say more? Except to opine that maybe someone should hang Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld upside down for three weeks.

OK, one more point: I'm willing to allow that the Dubyah administration was being run by a bunch of sadistic frat boys. The fact that the CIA, NSA, and allied agencies (and see this post for a run-down on that whole situation) are still not accountable under Obama is even worse: it's a calculated policy, because Obama is nothing if not calculating.

Read the whole post. It's guaranteed to ruin your day.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Saturday Science: Birds, Again

Interesting article at TPM this morning summarizing the results of a massive study of bird genomes. Starting at the beginning:
Reconstruction of Iberomesornis romerali
Very early in the lineages leading to about 95 percent of today's birds, the researchers propose that a split happened some 68 million to 69 million years ago. One branch leads to doves, flamingoes and a few other species, while the other branch leads to basically everything else. That implies, for example, that flamingoes are more closely related to pigeons than they are to pelicans or other water birds.

A second split followed soon after, so that the resulting four lineages faced and survived the brutal extinction some 66 million years ago that's most famous for wiping out the dinosaurs, said Erich Jarvis of Duke University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a lead author of the work.

I have to admit that birds fascinate me -- not that I'm about to become a bird-watcher, in the traditional sense. I just enjoy watching what they do and puzzling over their behavior, which is, as often as not, opaque. Maybe it's just that they are what's left of the dinosaurs, and who expects to understand why a dinosaur does what it does?

For some basic information on the evolution of birds, there's always Wikipedia.

Today's Litany of Horrors

Digby has an eye-opening post on what's not getting attention in the continuing resolution that just passed the House. It's pretty awful. Her summation:

The progressive Democrats will now be free to make losing stand after losing stand --- which is a nice bit of theatre that excites people like me without having to disrupt business as usual --- while the Democratic centrists and the Republicans make "deals" for the benefit of their benefactors and trade off cuts to various benefits and regulations like they were baseball cards. If any consensus exists in the US Congress it's that we need to protect the most vulnerable among us: rich people.

I can see the next two years -- longer if Hillary Clinton takes the presidency in 2016: a long string of atrocities like this, with the president nodding and signing.

I'd rather have the government shut down. At least that way, Congress couldn't do any more harm.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Me, Wonderful Me

I left a comment at this post on AmericaBlog yesterday that John Aravosis thought was so wonderful that he turned it into a post.

And I'm even more gratified that the new post is generating a lot of comments.

The Torture Report (Update)

Before I start, TPM has the executive summary of the report. I don't know if I'm going to read the whole thing -- from the bits and snippets I've seen, the activities it describes are disgusting to any civilized person, and I frankly don't know if I could handle it.

I really don't know what else to say, except to state categorically that torture is wrong, no matter what Bill O'Reilly says:
On a personal note, I know scores of Americans who lost loved ones on 9/11. I've watched their children grow up without mothers and fathers. If I were president, I would [have] authorized waterboarding and other severe interrogation methods of high ranking captured terrorists.

It is morally correct to protect innocent lives from barbarians.

We are a nation of laws, but we are in a brutal ongoing war. Americans need to be protected.

Never mind that torture is not very effective. Notice the bait-and-switch: yes, it's morally correct to protect the innocent (although in terms of this particular "brutal ongoing war," who are the innocents?), but you don't need to torture anyone -- much less other innocent people -- to do that. To conflate the two is duplicitous, to say the least. (And note this is coming from the very Catholic Bill O'Reilly, after the Church has unequivocally condemned torture as immoral.)

And lest you think he's alone in this, read this bit on the reaction of the terminally stupid Andrea Tantaros at Fox (where else?).

"The Bush administration did what the American public wanted, and that was do whatever it takes to keep us safe. These terror tactics have been stopped because as a country we decided we are better than this," she said. "It’s not about democracy now. No, no. It’s about politics."

If the Bush administration gave us what we wanted, that would be the first time in history that an administration has been that responsive to the people's wishes. And no, Ms. Tantaros, it's not about politics, it's about accountability, and making sure it doesn't happen again (although I have vanishingly small hope of that).

Digby and her fellows at Hullabaloo have a history of how we got there in a series of posts today, starting off with a telling comment about the reaction on Fox:
Notice they're not saying it wasn't torture anymore. They are mounting a full-throated defense of torture as a virtuous tactic.

And the CIA lied about it. Read points Four and Five of this report from TPM. It's even worse than that: here's a timeline of the whole thing, beginning in 2002, that shows a pattern of deception and obstruction on the part of the CIA.

Yeah, I know -- another link dump. Click through or don't, but if you want any sort of clear idea of what a mess we've gotten ourselves into, do it.

Update: I was looking for this story this morning and couldn't remember where I had seen it. It's Sen. Jay Rockefeller's remarks on the report. Read it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014


I just realized I haven't entered any of my music reviews for Sleeping Hedgehog into the review pages. And here I thought it was time to move on to the Green Man Review material.

Scatterbrained? Who, me?

Monday, December 08, 2014

Marriage News Watch, December 8, 2014

Marriage could be coming to Florida sooner than we expected. Plus, after last week's big win, the Mississippi lawsuit is now on the fast track to an appeal. And Kansas just lost their latest attempt to hold back the start of marriage.

I wonder about Kansas, I really do -- not only are they still fighting marriage equality, in the face of all odds, but they re-elected Sam Brownback as governor after he destroyed their economy. WTF?

There Is No Bottom: Today in Disgusting People (Update)

If you're lucky, you've never heard of Charles C. Johnson, a/k/a "Chuck C. Johnson," who blogs at GotNews.com (not to be confused with Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, who is an entirely different order of person). However, I'm sure you've heard about the Rolling Stone article on the University of Virginia gang rape, which caused quite a splash. Now it seems that there are some discrepancies in the story, and Rolling Stone has issued a statement detailing the background.

As is usual in a case like this, the victim was identified only as "Jackie" -- none of her personal details have been disclosed, neither by Rolling Stone, nor by the Washington Post, which published a follow-up that cast doubt on some parts of the story. (In fact, WaPo has published a host of articles on this in the past week or so, many of them seemingly more oriented toward taking a swipe at Rolling Stone than anything else.) Among the denials, the fraternity named says it held no date night or party on the evening in question, and the man named as the orchestrator of the rape belongs to a different fraternity and says he doesn't know "Jackie."

OK, so Rolling Stone screwed up, even though the screw-up was on the side of protecting the safety of their source.

Enter Charles C. Johnson, who published what he claims is the name of the victim (without any sort of outside confirmation, aside from claiming "multiple sources" -- yeah, I know, he found it on the Internet, so it must be true) and is now threatening to publish details about her and her family is she doesn't step forward.

As you might imagine, the reaction has been less than positive. The New Civil Rights Movement has an overview of some of the responses. Johnson is even getting a negative reaction from the right:

DanRiehl @DanRiehl

Let me just say it plainly, this type of bullshit makes me sick and we don't need it on our side @ChuckCJohnson

12:16 PM - 7 Dec 2014

About the only response I can think of for Riehl is to say: He's yours. That's the side of your movement you try to sweep under the carpet, but it's the motivating force of the right: unrestrained id.

Does this all make Johnson a piece of shit? Actually, it seems that he'd already pretty well established that; it's just that the high-profile nature of this story takes Johnson's actions outside the realm of Twitchy or Red State and paints it in big strokes across the Internet for all to see.

I hope the woman he named, whether or not she actually is "Jackie" -- and that's not been confirmed at all -- sues his ass for everything he ever hopes to have.

(Sidebar: You know, looking at the news lately, I could make "Today in Disgusting People" a daily feature. No, that's just too damned depressing.)

Update: And once again, we have the reporting becoming the news.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Today's Must Read

Very interesting post at Mahablog, focused ostensibly on race and identity, but touching as well -- well, actually, based on human beings as social animals and how that context shapes who we are and who we think we are.

We are not only physically dependent on each other but psychologically dependent as well. There is all kinds of data and real-world experience showing that actual isolation is devastating to a human. Prolonged isolation from other humans literally drives us mad. Indeed, our personalities — the traits we think make us uniquely “me” — are (to the psychologist and sociologists who study these things) entirely about how we relate to other humans. If there are no other humans to relate to, personalities cannot be expressed and arguably don’t even exist.

One of my favorite exercises — describe who you are as an individual without reference to a position within some kind of social or economic network. In other words, describe who you are as an individual without reference to family, nation, profession, interests (sports? stamp collecting? messing around on the Web?) or anything that doesn’t require other people. I say it can’t be done.

This ties in to my thinking on the social contract and the bases of morality, which I've explicated ad nauseam, but to summarize: the social contract is our morality, which in turn is all about how we relate to other people, which is something those who rail on about the evils of birth control and homosexuality and the like are never going to understand, since they think of morality as a set of rules derived from the tribal taboos of a group of ancient Middle Eastern nomads that can't be broken for fear of eternal damnation, to which I can only respond, Well, you get what you pay for.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Disgusting People: The Week In Review (Link Dump)

And it's been quite a week for them -- the woodwork has never been so busy.

First, a group who might as well be regulars in this category, the Liberty Counsel, knickers all twisted because the D.C. city council not only had the nerve to pass an ordinance outlawing SOCE (which is what they're calling "reparative therapy" now, since nothing else seemed to work), but repealed an amendment allowing private schools to discriminate at will. Choice bit:

Liberty Counsel sent a letter in opposition to Bill 20-803 [the bill banning SOCE] to every member of the DC City Council.

The vote was unanimous for passage. Tell you anything about how influential Liberty Counsel is?

The "Reverend" Stacy Swimp of Michigan made the list this week, bringing a new round of the Oppression Olympics to the Michigan House:

There’s a comparison between the homosexual allegation of gay rights and black civil rights,” he continued. “And as a minister of the Gospel, and as a black American whose parents participated in the Freedom Rides — my ancestors were slaves in plantations in the state of South Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Indiana and Mississippi — I stand here today rather offended.”

I invite Rev. Swimp to show me documentation of his trademark on "civil rights." Oh, and one question: when was the last time being black was outlawed?

An upbeat note: Another regular in this category, Scott "Export the Gays" Lively, will have to stand trial for crimes against humanity.

The Tony Perkins Award goes to this clown from Focus on the Family for the most lies told while saying absolutely nothing.

And ramping up the crazy, we have "ex-gay" Christopher Doyle. Click through to read the rant -- it's pretty disgusting, and quite possibly actionable. I hope Terry Bean and/or the board of HRC sue his ass.

And, under "This Week in Christian Love, we have Arizona "pastor" Steven Anderson, who has a long record of spewing filth and has now outdone himself, promising an "AIDS free" Christmas if we just kill all the "homos.

That's all I can take.

Friday, December 05, 2014

I Must Be Doing Something Right

I just discovered I've been blocked from commenting on WND, also known as "WingnNut Daily."

I guess the echo chamber gets confused when you introduce facts into the discussion.

Today in Liars for Jesus™

Happened across this at Towleroad, and it's choice -- another propaganda piece from Focus on the Family:

Let's do a little parsing:

First, there's no such thing as a "same-sex marriage license." That's like saying that the states had to issue "interracial marriage licenses" after Loving. There are just marriage licenses, just as there's only marriage -- the Supreme Court has been very careful not to put limits on the institution.

Next, the votes of the people in Florida: "Trampled on" is a nice image, if you're a bigot, but the fact is that the voters had no right to vote on that issue to begin with. “Fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.” (West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943))

"Where does the court get it wrong on marriage amendments?" The courts can't get it wrong, unless their decisions are overturned by a higher court. So far, given the decisions in the Circuit Courts who have ruled on marriage cases, the Sixth Circuit is the one that got it wrong (and if you've read their decision, it's glaringly obvious how wrong they got it).

"Liberal appointees" vs. "conservative judges." That's the whopper. A significant number of the judges who have ruled in favor of marriage equality have been Republican appointees, starting with Vaughn Walker in Perry, and including, most notably, Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit, whose opinion was in Baskin scathing. And frankly, no one in his right mind would consider Posner "liberal."

"Two basic sets of opinions" -- yeah -- The Sixth Circuit (which we've already discussed) and everyone else.

And I'm not the only one who thinks this "interview" was scripted.

And as an antidote, I give you the future:

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Headline du Jour (Upate)

From Raw Story:

University of Texas loses 100 brains. . . .

The snark writes itself.

(Isn't UT where Mark Regnerus was teaching?)

Update: They found them -- in San Antonio:

The brains, missing from a facility at the University of Texas in Austin have been found at the University of Texas in San Antonio, Timothy Schallert, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the Austin school, told the Los Angeles Times.

“They have the brains,” Schallert said. “They read a media report of the missing brains and they called to say: ‘We got those brains!’

“I know the brains will be treated very well there,” Schallert said.

And if I remember correctly, Regnerus was teaching at Austin.

Nobody's Listening

That's a song title, and I can't remember whose song it is, but it perfectly describes the ruling class -- including those who exist in their little bubble in D.C. -- every time the 99% try to make themselves heard -- if they don't just have us pepper sprayed, or worse.

Via Crooks and Liars, this from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-All of Us):

The American people must make a fundamental decision. Do we continue the 40-year decline of our middle class and the growing gap between the very rich and everyone else, or do we fight for a progressive economic agenda that creates jobs, raises wages, protects the environment and provides health care for all? Are we prepared to take on the enormous economic and political power of the billionaire class, or do we continue to slide into economic and political oligarchy? These are the most important questions of our time, and how we answer them will determine the future of our country.

The long-term deterioration of the middle class, accelerated by the Wall Street crash of 2008, has not been pretty. Today, we have more wealth and income inequality than any major country on earth. We have one of the highest childhood poverty rates and we are the only country in the industrialized world which does not guarantee health care for all. We once led the world in terms of the percentage of our people who graduated college, but we are now in 12th place. Our infrastructure, once the envy of the world, is collapsing.

Real unemployment today is not 5.8 percent, it is 11.5 percent if we include those who have given up looking for work or who are working part time when they want to work full time. Youth unemployment is 18.6 percent and African-American youth unemployment is 32.6 percent.

Today, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the median male worker earned $783 less last year than he made 41 years ago. The median woman worker made $1,337 less last year than she earned in 2007. Since 1999, the median middle-class family has seen its income go down by almost $5,000 after adjusting for inflation, now earning less than it did 25 years ago.

And, unlike right-wing Randian policy wonks (are you listening, Paul "I've got mine" Ryan?), Sanders actually lays out a plan. Click through to read it -- I suspect that, like me, you're going to find it too commonsensical to need voicing, but then, this is Washington we're dealing with.

I wish Sanders would throw his hat in the ring for 2016 -- might serve to push Hillary to the left.

And check out his website -- it's sort of inspiring.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014


Finally, at long last, and so forth: the "Reviews" pages in the sidebar now include all book reviews from Sleeping Hedgehog. All that's left is the Green Man Review work.


Monday, December 01, 2014

Marriage News Watch, December 1, 2014

More victories this week in some very conservative states. We're now closer than ever to the start of marriage in Arkansas and Mississippi. Florida is refusing to issue drivers' licenses to a couple after they married and changed their last name. And support for marriage has skyrocketed in Wyoming.

Also, today is World AIDS Day. Just a reminder.

A Couple of Thoughts on Ferguson

From Digby, this observation:

Forget the shooting of an unarmed man. Let's talk about the reaction to it instead. That seems to be the M.O. of the right when it comes to dealing with Ferguson and the hideous underbelly of American racism. Elias Isquith at Salon talked a bit about this last week:

From the very beginning, before St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch had uttered the first word of his defensive and dissembling speech, the fix was in. The conspiracy this time was not to protect Officer Darren Wilson from standing trial for the killing of Michael Brown, though that was certainly related. This time, the conspiracy was to organize the announcement of Wilson’s exoneration in as provocative a way as possible. The ultimate goal was to manipulate the public and the press into forgetting the real story of Ferguson — of police brutality and racial injustice — and bickering about the morality of rioting instead.

Thinking back, Digby and Isquith hit it right on the head. It's been a pattern for a while, and the sad thing is, it works: we're led to focus on the reaction and not the trigger, and not the underlying causes.* It's a long post, but worth reading -- Digby has a lot of examples going back over the past several years, detailing not only the misdirection, but the lies used to support it.

This is the sort of thing that Digby's talking about: That paragon of journalistic integrity, Rich Lowry (and if you don't know who Lowry is, yes, that was meant to be snarky) rode along with Darren Wilson earlier in the day that he shot Michael Brown, so Lowry, of course, knows exactly what happened when he was no longer there.

Thinking about this, I've come to the conclusion that labeling the press as "complicit" assigns them too much agency: they're lapdogs, nothing more. (The ones who aren't tend to be in exile or relegated to the sidelines. Think about what happened to Soledad O'Brien for giving Tony Perkins a hard time -- she's now with Al Jazeera.) It's at the point now where, if you want to know what's happening in this country, you have to go to the foreign press, because the domestic press has an agenda dictated by the powers that be, and it doesn't include honest reporting.

* Footnote: plug this post by Tom Sullivan into the mix to get an idea of those underlying causes.