Sunday, November 29, 2015

The holidays? One of the lower circles.

Stick to your character, and we won't beat you up on the street.

Bad news for Franklin Graham​, whose admiration for Russia, its President Putin, and its stern disapproval of The Mean Gays, knows no bounds.

The Russian edition of Maxim has declared that, while being gay is unmanly and unforgivable, it is willing to forgive and forget- in ten cases.

Mostly, if you are an actor- and can play straight, or asexual, parts convincingly- you're aces. If you're a gay writer, either be incredibly witty or invent a character who is the model Russian Maxim reader. You can be gay and a science nerd, but the odds of forgiveness are small: one in ten. Music transcends all. If you are any of these things- AND British, well, it's all over. Those Maxims max out over a plummy Oxbridge accent.

The guys RM gets all fanboy about are: Ian McKellen; Stephen Fry ("proves it is possible to be gay and still be sensible man"); Freddie Mercury; Chuck Palahniuk (Tyler Durden, from Fight Club, is THE Maxim Man); French actor Jean Marais; Rob Halford, of the band Judas Priest; mathematician Alan Turing; Neal Patrick Harris, and, rather incredibly, Oscar Wilde.

With help from Google Translate, here is how one becomes a born-again straight guy in Russia:

Gaia, which we respect

We men do not believe men men who love men. This rule is. But there are exceptions. There are gay people who deserve our respect and the right to remain in the eyes of our fellows.

Ian McKellen

Геи, которых мы уважаем

British actor Ian McKellen announced his homosexuality in a live BBC in an interview on the BBC in 1988. But we are ready to forgive him of his orientation to the role of the villain Magneto of the trilogy, "X-Men" and Gandalf from the "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit." In the end, even the British Queen Elizabeth in 1990, McKellen has devoted to the Knights (and officially became the first Knight gay!).

Stephen Fry

Геи, которых мы уважаем

Comedian Stephen Fry, a sample of an English gentleman, which could be put at the Paris Chamber of Weights and Measures (although it certainly would be against), as well as the living embodiment of the idea that one can be openly gay and sensible person at a time. Fry - a gifted comic actor, director, screenwriter and novelist. Forgive him we were ready even in the nineties, when the screens out the first series "Jeeves and Wooster" in which he starred with Hugh Laurie.

Oscar Wilde

Геи, которых мы уважаем

Poet, philosopher, esthete and dandy was a hero of his time and even genius. Oscar Wilde loved not only for his work but also for the endless witty remarks that accompanied almost every his appearance in society. I ruined Wilde (at that time, by the way, who was married and who had children) relationship with a young nobleman Alfred Douglas, whose father was a writer accused of sodomy. Wilde was convicted during the court hearing, and later died in France from acute meningitis - all rejected and forgotten. He deserves credit for that, even during the trial remained true to himself, even though his caustic remarks, delights the audience, largely secured a conviction. Despite the fact that the allegations made by Wilde, considered a serious crime in the XIX century, the love of the public to the writer was so great that at the first hearing of the jury were unable to make any judgment as a deposit for Wilde made a priest Stuart Hadley, did not know him personally, .

Freddie Mercury

Геи, которых мы уважаем

Freddie Mercury - rock icon, an exception to all rules. His creativity he brought us so much joy, that we are willing to forgive him anything. Offstage Freddie also behaved very bravely: learning that has AIDS, it is up to the latter to hide it from family and fans, and for as long struggled with the disease, wrote the songs for three albums ahead and transferred the rights to Bohemian Rhapsody, which was recognized the best song of the millennium according to The Official Charts Company, the fund to fight AIDS. What can I say ... Show must go on!

Jean Marais

Геи, которых мы уважаем

Being an idol and sex symbol of the era, Mare for twenty years cohabited with writer and filmmaker Jean Cocteau. With his manly good looks and athletic physique to be gay in general somehow greshnovato, the more that was filmed exclusively Mare starring courageous and brave characters: knights, captains, at worst, adventurers, but with solid moral principles. And he, without stuntmen perform stunts. His role in "Fantômas" - actually Fantomas and journalist Fandora - is admirable: it is necessary to possess a remarkable talent to fulfill both the villain and the main positive character in such a way that it wanted to imitate the villain. In the end, many of us in my childhood played Fantomas. Our editor fitness accurately, though he hides his true age.

Alan Turing

Геи, которых мы уважаем

Mathematician Alan Turing is considered one of the most famous victims of homophobia in the UK. According to the court, he was undergoing a forced hormone therapy to suppress libido and he was not allowed to work in the main unit of the encryption UK. The latter was a tragedy for the scientist, and he committed suicide. Where would you be now if it were not for Alan Turing?Certainly not at the computer, because it is he was the creator of the computer "Turing machine", which can be considered the prototype of the modern computer. But the main contribution to the history of the Turing - is the work during the Second World War, when he deciphered "Enigma", a German car to encrypt messages. In this way the British learned in advance of the plans of the Nazis, which helped save thousands of lives. Winston Churchill said that no one else has made the same contribution to the victory of Alan Turing.

Chuck Palahniuk

Геи, которых мы уважаем

When in 2003, Chuck Palahniuk, author of the novel male decades of "Fight Club", he announced his homosexuality, it has not made such a furore what could be. In fact, anyone familiar with the work of Palahniuk suspected that the Puritan could not have created such a countercultural product saturation. So coming out Palahniuk was quiet and peaceful: after an interview in which he blurted out too much, the writer posted online an audio recording where reported his homosexual. And he went on to write books about the marginal personalities, outcasts and deviants. In our list Palahniuk has appeared, of course, thanks to Tyler Durden, a role model of all men.

Rob Halford

Геи, которых мы уважаем

Rob Halford, lead singer of metal band Judas Priest, defined the sound of heavy metal in the 1970s, and one of the coolest singers in heavy metal rock and openly declared his homosexuality in 1998 in an interview with MTV. But his reputation is not affected. We respect him not only amazingly powerful voice four octaves, and that he earned the title of "god of metal", but also for the fact that he, in fact, developed the image of the canonical "Metalist", which is used by all hedbengery polls for many decades on this day (before and after they learned that Halford - gay).If you're so cool, no matter what your orientation.

Graham Chapman

Геи, которых мы уважаем

Members of the legendary Monty Python, the great comedian Graham Chapman officially admitted to its orientation in the mid-1970s on the television show and became one of the first stars who made it public. Chapman happy joking on gay topics - for example, he was the author of the sketch "Mouse problem" of people dress up in costumes and mice found at secret parties eating cheese that has been hidden in the allegory of the gay community. But we respect the Graham Chapman primarily for his roles in the movies "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and "The Life of St. Brian Monty Python," where he played a major role - the man mistaken for Jesus and wants to get rid of his flock in every possible way .

Neil Patrick Harris

Геи, которых мы уважаем

We had a little doubt whether to include in our list actor Neil Patrick Harris - after all, he, by his own statement made in 2006, "a happy gay." But the role of a womanizer Barney Steens in the series "How I Met Your Mother" has not left us indifferent. It is impossible not to respect the one who raised the hunt for the girls in the present art, systematized all the tricks and techniques and created the "Bro Code." Even if he just played the role. But as it is played!

As Kevin Costner cried, in Field of Dreams, "Yeah! What's in it for ME?"

For Freud, the eternal question was, "What do women want?"

In modern America, it's "What do Republicans want?"

And now we know, from an angry old white guy in Iowa:
“We’re willing to pander to anyone as long as it’s not a Christian conservative,” said Mark Tompkins, 73, a U.S. Army veteran and Council Bluffs resident.

Read more here:

Friday, November 27, 2015

It's Santorum's to lose.

The Atlantic has a cool tool that takes polling data on GOP voters' second choices for POTUS. You can click on the candidate you most hope will drop out and see what kind of bump their supporters will give the survivors.

I've been following National Organization for Marriage​'s loudly-trumpeted summer selection of four "Champions of Marriage" among the GOP fold. Each was willing to sign a pledge to be as antigay as Brian Brown could tell them how to be.

Of NOM's favorite four, one- Jindal- has already wussed out. That leaves Carson Cruz and Santorum. Here's who will gain if each of NOM''s candidates stumbles or starves.

If Carson quits- Trump (up 6.6%) Another 6.4 will switch to NOM Champion Cruz. And 0.2% will go to NOM Champ, j.g., Santorum. That'd be a Yuuuuge Payday for Santorum, boosting by a third, to 0.7%.

If Cruz quits- an academic question- Trump bumps up 3.6%. Carson picks up 3.1%. And it'll be Santorum's best day yet! He'll be in tantalizing reach of the Grail: 1%.

If Santorum quits? No change for any of the other thirteen candidates. All of Senator Neologism's eleven supporters will jump off a bridge somewhere in rural Iowa.

It doesn't say much for NOM's political chops that the bulk of their hand-picked candidates' support will go to a candidate who is not a hater and hasn't given them the time of day.

Yes, but WHICH century/ies?

At the blog Noahpinion, economist Noah Smith posits the arc of a century:

Phase 1: Technological Change. A huge burst of new stuff gets invented. Growth accelerates. 

Phase 2: Globalization. New tech and growth create new global supply chains. Trade and migration accelerate.  

Phase 3a: Inequality. New tech and globalization offer lots of opportunity for rich people to deploy their capital. New supply chains, products, and markets allow entrepreneurs to evade incumbents, vested interests, and governments. First movers make fortunes. Rich people deploy their wealth to restrain government attempts at regulation and redistribution, to keep the party going. Meanwhile, workers are forced to compete with foreigners and immigrants, and are also forced to pay the costs of reskilling in response to tech changes and globalization. Widespread inequality results.

Phase 3b: Cultural Change. New economic opportunities allow previously disempowered groups to gain power and status. Tech disrupts traditional family structures. Culture changes rapidly.

Phase 3c: Financialization. The need to finance new tech industries and new global supply chains expand the size of the finance sector. This results in large asset bubbles.

Phase 3d: Geopolitical Shifts. New supply chains and new tech mean some previously poor countries are now able to become rich. With wealth comes power. New great powers destabilize the geopolitical order.

Phase 4: Rise of Extremism. Economic inequality precipitates the rise of "leveling" (leftist) movements. Anger at cultural change and fear of competition with immigrants, mixed with displaced anger over inequality, precipitate the rise of reactionary (rightist) movements. Rightists and leftists feed off of each other, each portraying the other as an existential threat in order to frighten the populace into turning to the opposite extreme. Extremist politicians abuse veto points in political systems to paralyze governments and make countries effectively ungovernable.

Phase 5: Economic Slowdown. The collapse of a global bubble begins a protracted worldwide economic slowdown. For whatever reason (overhang of debt? extrapolative expectations? hysteresis? secular stagnation? some weird disruption to trade networks?), the economy does not recover quickly to previous growth rates. Because of extremist control of veto points, policy is unable to respond to the slowdown. Centrists on both the left and right are discredited and toppled. 

Phase 6: War. Extremists may fight each other in civil wars. Alternatively, geopolitical disruptions may lead to international conflict between new and incumbent powers. Extremists push their governments toward fighting external enemies, assassinating or toppling moderate leaders who refuse to fight. If a country is too weak to fight external enemies, or if no such enemies are close by, civil war results instead.

Phase 7: New Order. Out of the chaos and destruction of the wars emerges a new stable geopolitical order. Left-right extremist conflicts cause society to be exhausted by violence, and moderates slowly return to power. The exigencies of war cause governments to reestablish control over their economies, creating a new set of vested interests and protected incumbents. Inequality is dramatically reduced by destruction of wealth in wars. New incumbents provide a new "social model" that creates economic security for the masses.

These days, the best slur is the pre-emptive one. Sieze the low ground first.

Apparently taking note of the success Donald Trump is having with incindiary rhetoric, the highbrow Anglo-Catholic magazine First Things is accusing the German conference of Catholic bishops of fomenting racism in order to undermine an African caardinal who really hates on the gays- calling their "ideology" the Nazism of our time at the recent Vatican Synod:

Björn Odendahl, an editor at, writes the following in the course of commenting on the Pope's plans for Africa in a piece entitled “The Romantic, Poor Church”:
So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions(of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.
We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added “easy to command”) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah; they must really fear him. (The link goes to a report on Cardinal Sarah's bracing words on homosexual practice at the recent Synod on the Family.) 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Several plates-ful of burnt rolls, dry turkey, and Hell stuffing, thanks!

I’ve always had a fond spot in my heart for Michael and Jane Stern, of the Roadfood books. Their first came out in 1978. It featured Mrs Forde’s, a Laurinburg, North Carolina diner where getting bullied by Norma- who owned it with her sister- was a rite of passage for students at St Andrews Presbyterian College for a quarter-century.

I’m pleased, then, to learn Ms Stern and I share a general loathing for Thanksgiving. In the online edition of The Paris Review, she has just published “The Nexus of All Despair”:

I’ve always thought that Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday, based solely on the fact that I adore turkey. But if I were to remove turkey from the equation, I would probably realize that this holiday, for me, has been nothing but one hideous thing after another.

Why Thanksgiving is the nexus of all despair is a mystery. But to prove that it is, here’s a short list of some of the things I remember.

Stern serenely recalls half a century of dystopian, tryptophan-plagued November hells. As I read them, the spiteful old custodian of the Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse that is my mind started rolling out long-suppressed- a few, just forgotten- exhibits from my own, gravy-stained history:

1960-1970, Ellerbe, North Carolina

My dad grew up in Texas. After his last Air Force posting brought him to North Carolina, he met and married my mother, and North Carolina was home for the next fifty years. We made three trips to Texas in my childhood, to reconnect with his family, and two of his siblings and their families turned the favor in the mid-60s, but we cousins all grew up strangers.

My mother’s family lived in Richmond County, North Carolina. When I was five, my father’s job took us to Raeford, an hour away from my maternal grandparents, and the next decade was my golden age of Thanksgivings. You could always count on a rotating mix of my mother’s six surviving brothers, their wives and kids, and a throng of nearby second and third cousins, great aunts and uncles, and close neighbors.

There was a kids’ table, which encompassed everyone from age four or five through high school. This irked the older cousins- consumed by appearing cool in the mix of yearning and frustration only life in the country can consume. But for a kid like me, it was very paradise. Plenty of food, plenty of playmates for a few days.

1965-78, Shelby, North Carolina

Of all the aunts, uncles and cousins in my mother’s family, we were the only ones with a different surname. My mother was the only daughter of eight children. We’d moved to western North Carolina in 1965. Ellerbe was several hours away now- the farthest away of the family. Both my parents suffered extended illnesses- my mother’s over several years, and requiring a seemingly endless hospitalization at a distant university hospital. My siblings and I spent weekends past counting with friends and relatives, and, when we were home and my dad was off to visit my mother, I was left in the understudy parent role. We now had a bonus sibling, ten years my junior. For me, those were years of improvisatory efforts as being an adult, but reclassification as a kid for purposes of the performance critiques that always followed.

My grandmother was also dying of cancer, and the family gatherings were curtailed. She died at Thanksgiving, 1972, and the funeral was one of the last great family gatherings I remember. Few of the cousins were staying in the area as farming declined. As a family, we were atomizing.

Through my high school and college years, Thanksgiving was a silent affair. We all stayed out of the way as my mother- disdaining help- pulled together way too much meal for the five of us. The good china was laid out in the nearly-unused dining room, and we ate. I don’t recall much conversation. Two of us were teens, and teens were pretty much a 24/7 irritant to my mother. Everyone seemed to be in a defensive crouch, ready to challenge the real, unspoken meaning of any remark.

Dinner would end. The dishes would be done. Football would be watched. I could never get back to college fast enough.

1979, Oxford, England

My first free-standing happy Thanksgiving memory. Some American friends and I scoured the city’s groceries and meat markets, looking for a turkey. Failing that, we phoned restaurants that, despite making their way largely off a large student population, didn’t see the niche American students afforded.

We ended up eating Chinese and seeing Animal House at the movies.

1981, Portland, Oregon

I was in law school, sharing a house with several classmates. For the first time in my life, I had fallen in with an in-crowd group. It was cool, being cool. We pooled our meager first-hand knowledge to put together a memorable dinner for eight proto-adults. After the cleanup was finished, one friend declared the only way to finish off the evening was to have a snowball fight at Timberline Lodge. 90 minutes later and 5800 feet higher, we were calf-deep in snow outside the famous WPA-built hotel. Once all were thoroughly dusted in the white powder skiers adore to this day, we gathered by one of the giant fireplaces for hot buttered rums.

Late 1980s, Sunriver, Oregon

One my sisters married a guy from Oregon in 1985, so when they came out for holidays, I was invited to tag along. The in-law were retired CIA folks descended from pretty much everyone on the Mayflower. Since their people had invented it, Thanksgiving was a big deal.

Once I passed review, the Colonel decreed I could be invited for the holidays even when my sister and her family were back in North Carolina with our parents. There was food aplenty, and interesting neighbors from the spook trade dropping in to visit and tell tall tales of secret deeds. These Thanksgivings- and Christmases- were relaxed, happy affairs, and conversations were, uniformly, landmine-free.

The Colonel and his wife moved to an assisted living facility in southern Oregon, which ended the big holiday events. Both lived to be nearly a hundred.

1996-99, Spokane, Washington

In 1995, I fell in love, and came out to my family. My sister's-in-laws promptly dropped the holiday invitations. No one asked if I was coming home for Thanksgiving or Christmas that year, and my beau was with his family, doing some spadework. I was his first boyfriend; we were still sorting out if the idea of us as a couple had legs.

We decided we did, and the next four Thanksgivings were spent in Spokane with John’s family, a big Catholic bunch whose holiday table stretched, L-shaped, through the living room, den and dining room.

We marked the change of millennia in style: Christmas in Key West with my sister and her family; home for New Years, on our bedroom balcony, watching the fireworks barge Bill Gates had towed in front his house on the other side of Lake Washington; then Hawaii in January, with all of John’s family for a big parental anniversary.

By August, my sister and I both found ourselves facing divorce proceedings. The Dot Com Bust in the spring had, as it unrolled, nearly bankrupted me, taking the shine off what had made me seem a catch when the boom was building.

My sister and her husband engaged lawyers. Being outside the law, John and I went to breakfast one Saturday and sorted out who got what on a legal pad. My parents had written one of their two letters to us, urging us to rally ‘round my sister in her time of trial.

They left me rally-less. We sold our house within the week, and I spent Thanksgiving 2000 packing.

2001, Seattle

My rebound romance was on its predictable trajectory. The object of my affections was invited, by his ex, for Thanksgiving. Mark thought to invite me along. He insisted they remained good friends, despite the breakup. (In the back of my mind, I wondered, a little, if I was a bit of payback- Boyfriend Past, meet Boyfriend Future- in the manner of divorce cases where one spouse shuts down negotiations over something s/he has absolutely no desire to have- the chainsaw, a boxed set of Sex and The City- just because it will drive the other spouse batshit cray-cray.)

My task was to bring a pie, and something to drink.

Anxious to make a good impression, I conjured a seasonally-appropriate pie- crust from scratch, a circular frieze of leaves adorning its perimeter, and a very good bottle of scotch.

Pre- and during dinner chat went pretty well, I thought. I had my antennae on Belgium’s highest threat level, attuned to any hint of mentioning a single provocative thought. This was a challenge, as the ex’s politics- veering inexplicably between admiration for Margaret Thatcher, and voting for Al Gore in the recently settled, if not resolved, presidential contest- he brought up repeatedly.

After another riff on the excellences of Al Gore, the ex asked me what I thought of the Supreme Court decision that found for President Bush.

I should have feigned a fit of epilepsy, or a turkey bone in my throat.

Having found the television news reports of the contest long onf stupid and short on legal analysis, I had looked up the briefs in the Florida and federal Supreme Court cases. I rattled off a quick precis, explained what I considered the moral of the story, and began to help clearing the table for dessert.

A pause in the shuttling between kitchen and dining room indicated Mark and the ex were having a chat. Mark came out, bearing the Glenlivet and pie.

I was being sent home. The ex had taken exception to my summary of Bush v. Gore, and thus, to me.

I decamped. The scotch was served, over time, to guests. The Accursed Pie sat in the fridge for a month before I threw it away.

The relationship lasted a year. I was to meet Mark’s mother for Christmas, ‘02. At the last minute, I learned by email, she "decided to stay home". He went to St Louis. What followed, the kids now call “ghosting.”  The next time I saw him was at the grocery, four years later. He had gotten back together with the ex, who lived in my neighborhood.

I changed grocery stores. I never baked another pie, either.

2003-05, Back to Spokane

After twenty years of work in and around Spokane, I knew lots of lawyers there, and came to be close friends with many. During my holidays with John we’d run into them around town, and started getting included in their holiday party invitations.

We particularly clicked with a retired court of appeals judge and his wife, whose son I had met a few times in Seattle, where he and his partner were law students. The judge was a polio survivor, wheelchair bound, and increasingly requiring round the clock assistance; his mind was as sharp as ever, and he needed regular shifts of visitors to keep his mind occupied. I amused him; a Republican finding myself seriously backsliding, I was an ideal convert for the old New Dealer’s punch card.

Once single, I started getting invited for the holidays; having gotten to know the extended family over the years, I was welcomed in a way my usual bachelor Thanksgivings- plonked down among people who all knew each other but not me- made impossible.

I kept the judge amused. We sat in his sunroom, sipped scotch, smoked cigars, and talked for days. I felt like Dr Johnson, adopted by the Thrales. The bonds grew stronger when I hired the son’s partner in my firm; the three of us dined together nearly every Friday in Seattle, and flew to Spokane together for the holidays.

In 2004 their relationship blew up. Although it staggered on for another year, I was caught in no-man’s land. The calls stopped, the invitations ended. The judge died in 2007.

2007, Port Angeles, Washington

My law partner left in 2006, after our largest client went bankrupt, owing us a fortune in unpaid fees. I became a Keynesian drinker, pumping funds into my bar tab to try and get out of my Great Depression. I shut my practice down and moved to a small town at the tip of the continental US: Canada lay twelve miles across the water.

Port Angeles already had enough lawyers, it developed, so I wrote a novel and hoped, Micawber-like, that something would turn up.

Of course, it didn’t. But for the first time- at the age of 51- my friends asked me to cook the turkey. I did my homework, and the bird was a triumphant sacrifice to the ancestors of my sister’s former in-laws.

Two months later, I was broke, and moved home to the Carolinas.


Thirty years after my last Carolinas Thanksgiving, I was back with the family. Well, some. My sister was married again, to a Belgian who spoke English like a German drill sergeant and was trained as a professional chef. He also didn’t much like me, not that, in those days, there was much to like. But there I was, so Thanksgivings found me at the bottom of the table- my sister presiding over the conversational salon, my brother-in-law handling the edibles. A couple of times I was let to make my horseradish mashed potatoes- no great shakes as a dish, but it gave me a role to play, and, against all the miraculous creations of my brother-in-law’s kitchen, I had plenty to take home.

I had become the crazy uncle, but I took my cues and kept quiet. The guests were always my sister’s and brother-in-law’s friends (my nephew, headed for college, made cameo appearances; my youngest sister would always accept and no-show), who, though I saw them frequently though the year, pretty much ignored me. I suspect they had been briefed not to poke a fork in my cage.

After I got my own digs- shared- I spent the next few Thanksgivings caring for the housemate’s pets. There was a malign cat; a ridiculously expensive purebred canine, imported, air freight, in anticipation of the looming death of the senescent Older Dog. Housemate decamped to Orangeburg for the holidays, to quarrel with his father over politics and protect his share of the estate; Air Freight Dog made repeated attempts to escape, and Older Dog acted out, pooping all over the carpet. The cat would pretend to be gone, or dead.

The Teens, Greenville, SC/Charlotte, NC

2011 and ‘13 were rather like Dr. Watson’s account of Sherlock Holmes and the Giant Rat of Sumatra- tales for which the world is not yet prepared. My new policy is an old one, first adopted in the 1990s, when I grew weary of others seeing me as a stray in need of a home, if only for an early dinner and some football: I lied- yes, had plans, thanks- and left town for the weekend.

Now I don’t leave town. But as Charlotte is one of the fastest-growing cities in America, every week brings a few thousand new strangers. Most of the people I once knew here have moved away, or died.

But for the five years of my “marriage”, as certain religious enthusiasts like to air quote my personal assault on their values, I’ve lived pretty much alone. After I became single again, it took a long time to get back to the lost sense of solitude as a reasonably acceptable state of being. For a while there, doing things alone just reminded me I hadn’t anyone to do them with any more.

So I think I’ve hit my sweet spot for Thanksgivings to come. Quiet, orderly, unchained from the required menu. I watch no football, nor any reruns of Thanksgiving episodes of TV shows past and present, unless the film The Ref, Pieces of April, or Home for the Holidays, is on.

I continue to hope that every time It’s a Wonderful Life is shown, a little more of the master print decays into unsalvageability.

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!

If you ever met Burroughs...well, he was unforgettable. And, just a bit contrary.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Lego talk- snapping words together in the hope they will form an idea.

Modern Problems: no matter where you go, there you are.

How to create a panic about one thing to fuel a cold, clear-eyed animus toward another

I can never decide: does North Carolina Values Coalition just have no ethical standards, or do they really believe their audience are witless dopes? Here's a case in point, which they posted on Facebook: an article on the transgender public restroom panic groups like NCVC has adopted as a stalking horse for its antigay agenda. Start with the photo: a soaking wet woman in a bathtub? What has that to do with public restrooms? With the exception of concerns the author has with the safety of locker rooms in gyms- where toilet availability isn't really the stalker's Eden opponents claim restrooms in, say, a mall, are- absolutely nothing. In fact, Mike Huckabee mocked the very notion in June: “I wish that somebody would have told me in high school that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in P.E. I’m pretty sure I would have found my feminine side, and said, ‘Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today,” Huckabee said to laughter and applause. “You’re laughing because it sounds so ridiculous, doesn’t it?” said the GOP presidential candidate. So you get to the article and it's written by a communications director for a Seattle area nonprofit. There's no objective data cited in her article. It's not within her expertise. The author is, however, a victim of childhood sexual abuse, and there is now doubt from even her elided account that she has suffered greatly. But she was not abused in a public bathroom. For The Federalist and NCVC, it's the basis for a powerful, and misleading, emotional hook for the story. For the author, transgender equality is a wedge in a door that is already open, and that her solution will not close, or lock: "Let me be clear: I am not saying that transgender people are predators. Not by a long shot. What I am saying is that there are countless deviant men in this world who will pretend to be transgender as a means of gaining access to the people they want to exploit..." The author, understandably, seeks a bulletproof level of assurance that life will not deal with her the same way again, but concedes that transgender people do not need to be kept out of women's restrooms- it's men who can still get in there. "Don’t they know that predators are known to intentionally seek out places where many of their preferred targets gather in groups? That perpetrators are addicts so committed to their fantasies they’ll stop at nothing to achieve them?", she asks, adding "With zero screening options to ensure that biological males who enter locker rooms actually identify as female, how could a woman be sure the person staring at her wasn’t exploiting her?" And what, one might ask, is one to do if the woman doing the staring is a pervert of the lesbian variety? Here, the entire point of the article fails utterly. So her solution- and, presumably, NCVC's- is telling transgendered people just go somewhere else- wherever they can find, if they can. And the real abusers- the ones the author admits are NOT transgender, laugh and laugh, because they know this really isn't about them. This is a straw issue, useful only for pushing transgendered people out front to scare people into conflating that non-issue with civil rights protections for The Mean Gays.