Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I Love A Clever Review...

Especially when I agree!

Peter Jackson didn’t particularly want to direct The Hobbitand I didn’t particularly want to be bored to tears, but there we both were, fulfilling what could only be described as some sort of cinematic murder-suicide pact.

Read the rest of Simon Miraudo's review here

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jackson's "Hobbit" a Disappointment

A Tolkien fan, not a geek, I was thoroughly delighted by Peter Jackson's faithful rendering of each volume of The Lord of the Rings.  Despite some story changes (e.g. The deletion of Tom Bombadil) and moving some major events from book to book, each of the films left me satisfied and ready for the next.



For many years I read the Hobbit aloud to elementary kids.  It's a great story where the good guys come out ahead and evil is overcome.  (I usually summarized the battles at the end.)  One of my favorite scenes and a particular challenge was Gandalf's imitation of various troll voices to extend their discussion of how best to prepare the dwarves to eat is one of my favorites.  Under Jackson's direction Gandalf's cleverness becomes a warrior splitting a rock.  It robs the scene of intimacy and that sets the tone for the rest of the movie.  It's a video game, not a film.

While beautifully filmed and cleverly crafted the grand scale that must be imposed to satisfy audience expectations, overwhelms many an opportunity for empathy. This is a direct outcome of Jackson's division of the book into 3 movies.  While many of the expansions of story are true to Tolkien's universe, incorporating minor characters from ancillary materials, such as Radagast the Brown, it just isn't needed.  The original story is complete and well fashioned.  Jackson has shown his reverence for Tolkien in three brilliant films, but it seems that, like Smaug, greed is the undoing of the New Zealander.

One ring to rule them all.  One film to tell the tale of the Hobbit would have been plenty,

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Where to "Spend" Your Holidays


The "American Family Association," mostly noted for their opposition to anything gay, gets to the really important stuff this time of year.  You know the stuff that Jesus really would have been worried about.  The war against Christmas.  Thank the Eternal One that they are counting how many times "Holiday" is used instead of "Christmas." You can even download their "Naughty or Nice" list and choose to shop where the true spirit of Christmas, AKA the commercialization of the holiday, is alive and well.


I suggest you use their list as well.  I might not agree with them about HOW to use it. Perhaps instead of a trip to any store you could visit an LGBT welcoming church, synagogue, mosque or temple.

May your holidays, including Christmas if you celebrate it be filled with joy!  May you remember the real message of every religion and may there be peace on earth, good will to all.

Neil

The AFA's most recent letter follows.  My favorite part is the ad after the signature.

--------------------------------

Humbug! Three companies lose rank on AFA's 'Naughty or Nice' list

December 11, 2012

Dear Neil,
As you finish up your Christmas shopping, three companies have noticeably reduced their use of "Christmas" in newspaper advertising and on their websites from past years.
After carefully reviewing L.L.Bean, True Value and Sam's Club, the AFA Naughty or Nice list has downgraded them from being "For" Christmas to "Marginalized."
L.L.Bean
L.L.Bean told AFA it would increase its use of "Christmas" in advertising, but after two weeks, we haven't seen it. Instead, it continues to reference its "Holiday Gift Shop" for those "holi-daily deals" that includes a "holiday" delivery schedule. Ironically, L.L.Bean touts a "Christmas" catalog, but you won't find "Christmas" anywhere but on the cover. Throughout the catalog, everything is "holiday."
True Value Hardware Stores
True Value's website offers "holiday" coupons, "holiday" gifts, "holiday" decorating and "holiday" lights when you "Shop the Holidays." There are very few references to "Christmas," but the overall theme is dominantly focused on using "holiday."
Sam's Clubs
Sam's Clubs website homepage reminds you to check out their "Holiday Entertaining Catalog" for those "Perfect Holiday Values." Sam's Club is owned by Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is listed on our list as a top promoter of Christmas, but the Sam's Club subsidiary is the company's Scrooge and is hoarding the word "Christmas" from the shopping public.
Sincerely,

Tim

Tim Wildmon, President
American Family Association
 
P.S. Are you looking for a tour that will help you capture the deep, rich, Christian heritage of our county and the people who founded it? If you are, then our Spiritual Heritage Tour is for you. Experience America's Christian Heritage on our DC/Mount Vernon or Williamsburg Tour.

.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Reductio ad Absurdum

As a gay man finally able to be legally married, the next 6 months will be nerve-racking.  While waiting for my right to legally and publicly solemnize and celebrate my love for another man, there is nothing I can do but wait and speculate.  There is no lobbying the Supreme Court.  The Justices's positions are for life and their decisions cannot be appealed.  There are no more powerful people in the United States.



Today I heard that Justice Antonin Scalia had been questioned about his dissenting opinion in Lawrence v. Texas and comments afterwards.  Lawrence declared that 'sodomy laws' violated the constitution.  Here is a snip from his dissent:
The Texas statute undeniably seeks to further the belief of its citizens that certain forms of sexual behavior are “immoral and unacceptable,” Bowers,supra, at 196–the same interest furthered by criminal laws against fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality, and obscenity.


When questioned by an openly gay freshman law student on his comments Scalia refers to a legal argument technique called reductio ad absurdum, or reduction to the absurd.   From the great majority of sources, Saclia is quoted, "If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?"

In an article "Gay Student asks Justice Scalia to defend his 'bestiality' comment,"  NBC news reports about Scalia's appearance at Princeton.  

At Slate.com a more dramatic spin on his response is posted.  Their post is Scalia Defends Comparing Sodomy to Murder. Most notably a part of the quote missing in the NBC report is here.  The reference to murder. 

Fox News had this headline: Confronted by NJ Princeton student, Scalia defends arguments that strike some as anti-gay

Reduction to the absurd is where we are headed as a nation.  We may have arrived. Most Americans get their news from one source.  Going no further than a headline, which is essentially what most TV news does, look at how dramatic or benign a news story may seem.

While writing this I was also following "right to work" legislation in Michigan.

NBC:  Michigan passes anti-union 'right to work' measure over protests of thousands.

Fox News: Michigan House approves right-to-work bill, as teachers ditch school to protest


Reductio ad Absurdum indeed.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Show Biz Folks and AFER

Thanks to Betty for sharing this!  Variety reports on the reaction from those who have championed the cause to have this brought before the Supreme Court.


The industry figures backing the federal suit to overturn California's Proposition 8 welcomed the news that the Supreme Court would review the case, and the show biz activists for same-sex marriage expressed confidence in the outcome. 
It was just over four years ago, in the aftermath of the passage of the state's ban on gay nuptials, that Rob Reiner, his wife Michele and their two political consultants, Chad Griffin and Kristina Schake, hatched the idea to fight the initiative through the federal courts. Enlisting Ted Olson and David Boies, two legal eagles on opposite ends of the political spectrum, to lead the case provided a dose of publicity. David Geffen and Steve Bing provided the millions in seed money to get the effort launched. 
Griffin, who is now president of the Human Rights Campaign, said that the court's decision was "nothing short of a milestone" in the movement for marriage equality.
From the start, the goal had been to get the question of same-sex marriage before the high court. 

Read the rest here,

If You Really Understood What God Meant!

"Gay Marriage" is the topic of the day.  Please, people, it's not just gay marriage, it's marriage equality.

The internet is littered with people re-energizd to debate the topic, including this writer.

But there is something that many of them rely on:  The Bible.

I've read many posts that try to defend marriage equality by pointing out that "traditional marriage" was not so traditional in scripture.  It's true.  Polygamy was OK. Slaves sleeping with masters. The list goes on.

One of the Christian faithful responding that the person who posted a graphic of the various forms of marriage and relationship in the Bible said  they were just people working out the kinks until we got it right.  "If you really understood what God meant..." she wrote.  Of course I could argue against that easily.  It's always seemed to me that the ultimate heresy is to claim to know the mind of God.

But, folks, all of this is meaningless.

Certainly our faith helps to inform us is broad questions of justice and injustice.  But the 9 people below are called upon to interpret the Constitution of the United States without regard to the dogma of their particular faith.



Suppose that in Loving v Virginia (1967) the majority of justices used the tenants of the Mormon faith held until 1978 that black people could not be full members of the LDS church?  They certainly would not have acted to allow inter-racial marriage and Justice Thomas would be "living in sin."  (Though one could argue that he indeed is, but for very different reasons.  Chiefly hypocrisy.)

Kyle and I have been discussing who might vote how.  We both agree that Thomas will most surely not support marriage equality, at least as it applies to gay ad lesbian Americans.  We also expect that Alito will not, though he said in his dissent to Lawrence v. Texas  that overturning Sodomy laws would open the door for "gay marriage."  Justice Roberts on the other hand is not a slam dunk.  He is conservative, but often in the true libertarian sense and his legacy as Chief Justice just might make him move in the direction of real justice.

Speculation is academic.  But we can hope and pray that this Supreme Court will do the right thing.  In the light of recent elections and public opinion shifts we are very, very optimistic.

NYLS Professor Lays It Out

In Gay City News, a professor at New York Law School, Arthur Leonard,  lays out the history, the SCOTUS orders, the outs they have left themselves and a prediction on the DOMA case.  He says the the Prop 8 case is a toss up on the standing issue and if it rules the direct and narrowness of its decision is anyone's guess.

Justice Walker of the California Supreme Court issued a broad decision declaring that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional.  From there Leonard continues....


The Proponents appealed Walker’s ruling to the Ninth Circuit, which stayed his order pending the outcome of the case. The Ninth Circuit first held that the Proponents had standing to appeal Walker’s ruling, after obtaining an advisory opinion from the California Supreme Court that initiative sponsors enjoy that right under state law. The appeals court then affirmed Walker, but on the narrower theory that no rational basis had been shown for the state to withdraw the right to marry after it had been granted.
In their petition to the Supreme Court, the Proponents posed the broader question –– on which the Supreme Court has now granted review –– of whether same-sex couples are entitled by virtue of the 14th Amendment to the same right to marry enjoyed by different-sex couples.
But the high court will revisit the question whether the Proponents have standing to represent the State of California in defending Prop 8. If the Court rules that they did not have standing to appeal Walker’s ruling as a matter of federal law, that would mean that neither the Supreme Court nor the Ninth Circuit would have jurisdiction to decide their appeal. In that event, Walker’s ruling, which was not appealed by any of the named defendants in the case –– such as the governor or attorney general –– would be the final ruling, binding in the state of California. Same-sex couples would once again have a right to marry there.
If the Supreme Court finds that the Proponents did have standing, it would proceed to consider the merits of the case. It could decide to answer the question on which it granted review –– whether California can reserve the status of marriage to different-sex couples –– or it could, if so inclined, accept the narrower reframing on which the Ninth Circuit decided the case and find that that Prop 8 violated the 14th Amendment because no rational grounds exist to rescind an existing right to marry, especially in a state whose Supreme Court had ruled that same-sex domestic partners were entitled to all the rights of marriage. 
In other words, the December 7 decision by the Supreme Court offers no guide as to how broad or narrow its final decision might be.

The DOMA challenge involves a New York woman, Edith Windsor, who petitioned the IRS to return $380,000 she would not have had to pay were it not for the federal government's refusal to recognize her legal marriage.  When her wife died in 2009, Windsor was left the entire estate. Under laws controlling inheritance a spouse should not be liable for this tax.

There are "standing" issues here as well. Because neither the President nor official bodies of the legislature wished to challenge the lower court's ruling in favor of Windsor, a so-called Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group was formed at direction of Republicans in congress headed up by a former Solicitor General Paul Clement to challenge the decision.  Now the current solicitor General, Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. has filed a petition supporting the lower court's decision and asking the Supreme Court to hear the case for the sake of resolution.  Again, the court has asked for the respondents to argue first that they do indeed have standing.  If they are found not to, that would end the case and the lower court's decision would stand.

Leonard says:
At the end of the day, I don’t believe the Supreme Court will find that the US solicitor general lacks standing to bring these cases before it. The number of federal district courts that have ruled against the constitutionality of Section 3 is steadily mounting, more lawsuits are in the pipeline, and a nationwide resolution of its constitutionality is needed.
As a result, my conclusion is that the court will likely proceed to the merits on Windsor, and I think there is a good chance it will decide, by at least a vote of 5-4, that the lower courts are correct in holding it unconstitutional. The progress of the marriage equality movement may help to influence the court in reaching that conclusion. As of January 1, same-sex marriage will be legal in nine states and the District of Columbia, and if Judge Walker’s ruling eventually goes into effect, in California as well. As the proportion of the country living in marriage equality states increases, the “anti-democratic” effect of a Supreme Court ruling on this issue decreases.

Read the entire article here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

What Americans For Equality Rights Has To Stay


Strange bedfellows, conservative Theodore Olsen (counsel to Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush) and liberal David Boies (who argued for Al Gore in Bush v. Gore before the Supreme Court) joined together to for AFER,  American For Equality Rights, to overturn Proposition 8.  Both found common ground in defending the right of lesbian and gay Californians to marry.

These two lawyers assembled a crack team to take the case of Perry v. California forward.  Watching their arguments at the California Supreme Court and at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, both of which found Prop 8 unconstitutional, it is hard to imagine that the Supreme Court will overturn these rulings.


What SCOTUS Said

Here are the two postings from SCOTUS regarding Marriage Equality:
12-144       HOLLINGSWORTH, DENNIS, ET AL. V. PERRY, KRISTIN M., ET AL.
                   The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted.  In
             addition to the question presented by the petition, the parties
             are directed to brief and argue the following question:  Whether
             petitioners have standing under Article III, §2 of the
             Constitution in this case.
12-307       UNITED STATES V. WINDSOR, EDITH S., ET AL.
                 The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted.  In
             addition to the question presented by the petition, the
             parties are directed to brief and argue the following
             questions: Whether the Executive Branch’s agreement with the
             court below that DOMA is unconstitutional deprives this Court of
             jurisdiction to decide this case; and whether the Bipartisan
             Legal Advisory Group of the United States House of
             Representatives has Article III standing in this case.
What in Means:

PROP 8: (12-144)

In the first decision the court has agreed to hear the Prop 8 case.  That is bad news for Californians who were hoping they would refuse to hear it.  If they did refuse marriage for all would have resumed in California very quickly.  HOWEVER there is a hopeful part.

In directing the petitioners to argue whether they have standing, there is a very big out.  California refused to argue against Prop 8, which reversed marriage equality in California by popular vote.  The State was saying tacitly "we want this to be overturned."  California, under Gov. Schwarzenegger, saw gay marriage as in the best interest of the state.  The people who opposed marriage equality were then forced to defend their position.  They were granted "standing", that is the right to pick up the state's role in defending the proposition, by the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  The ninth circuit upheld the State Supreme Court decision that Prop 8 was unconstitutional.  But they also issued a stay of overturning the marriage ban pending the Supreme Court decision.

In raising the question of standing once more, it is possible that SCOTUS could rule that the petitioners cannot, in the absence of the State of California, proceed. If they do, it's done. The decision stands and gay marriage resumes in California.  If the petitioners do have the right to argue, then a ruling on Prop 8, up or down, will be rendered.

DOMA: (12-307)

The Defense of Marriage Act, ironically named from the point of view of gay and lesbian Americans, denies federal rights and responsibilities to gay couples.

The conservative leaning court is of concern.  However we must remember that they found a way to allow "Obamacare" to stand in the face of vocal opposition from the right.

There are some big "outs" for SCOTUS in the questions included in the writ of centoriari.  This one is too complex for me.  I need to read some more. But, if the court were to decide that it could not decide, as silly as that sounds, it could allow them to kick this can down the road.

The arguments will happen in March and a decision will be rendered in June.

I only hope that reading one more explanation of this will not confuse my readers.  In the meantime, here is the perfect picture to support the right to marry.  I suspect it will challenge the stereotypes of many.  This couple is applying for a marriage license on the first day of availability in the state of Washington.


All I Want for My Birthday is SCOTUS Decision

Assuming that SCOTUS, The Supreme Court of the United States, does not act today, the may issue an order on Monday about up to 10 cases affecting marriage equality.

In case they are reading my blog, here is what I would like:

1) Deny the appeal of Proposition 8 in Perry v. California.  This would allow the 9th circuit court's decision that declared denial of marriage as unconstitutional under the California Constitution to stand.  The court would then lift its stay and marriage in California would resume.  Following previous posts you may know that would restore full marriage rights to 38 million people.  Thirty percent of the population would then have equal access to marriage.  That's 92 million of 312 million according to the 2010 census.

2) Hear any of the cases that challenge the constitutionality of DOMA, The so-called Defense of Marriage Act.  DOMA says that not federal rights or responsibilities tied to marriage can be granted to a marriage unless it is between one man and one woman.   This of course runs up against Article 4 of the Constitution which grants "full faith and credit" to the laws and statutes of other states.  There are 8 of theses cases.  Massachusetts has had marriage equality since 2003.

UPDATE: Moments after posting: 3:15 PM.  SCOTUS is hear both DOMA and PROP 8.  This is potentially bad news.... it will not be argued/decided until March.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

In the Straight Closet




Can you find the straight man in this picture?  According to Tim Kurek (center), the gayborhood of Nashville couldn't.  For a year.

Kurek was raised in an evangelical household, spent a year at Liberty University (Jerry Falwell's pride and joy) and like most of those around him believed that homosexuality was an abomination.  During a Soul Force demonstration at Liberty University, Kurek argued with a protestor from the pro-gay evangelical group, founded by Falwell's former closeted aid, Mel White.  Shortly after that Kurek left Liberty and during the course a few years started to question the talking points about gay people with which he had grown up.

His plan was to go into the closet as a straight man and come out to his family and friends as gay.  He wanted to walk a mile in the shoes of a gay man. So for one year he lived among the homosexuals.  The LGBT community around Church Street in Nashville became his friends and, as to his family... Sorry I will keep spoilers to a minimum.

Kurek's decision took a lot of criticism. Many LGBT activists said he was making light of the situation by imagining that he could really "get it" in just one year and with the knowledge that he could walk away whenever he wanted. Kurek takes this criticism on honestly.  He never wanted or expected to find out what it was like to be gay.  He did want to challenge his prejudices and clearly in a very big way.  He wanted to find out what the LGBT community was like and not just as a casual observer.  His "experiment," as he calls, accomplished this.  It's really a must read for anyone, gay or straight.  Period.

I read this book on the recommendation of a straight friend.  Our discussions about the book revealed how our different points of view informed our reading.  My friend was more interested in his changed perspectives.  I found that his experience of living in his own closet was more powerful.

The friends he makes and the people he meets really are quite a broad spectrum of the community.

Several things about the book were of concern to me.  I bought this as an e-book and was quite distracted by the number of misspellings and typographical errors.  The center part of the book does become repetitive and well, a bit preachy.  Kurek gave himself away as open-minded too soon in the book for my liking.  I found it harder to believe early on that he would have shouted down the protestors in Soul Force than that he would following through with the experiment.  But hidden later in the book are perspectives that make his epiphanies seem more believable.  Kurek makes contact with folks from the Westboro Baptist Church family.  I found that interesting.  The reaction of his new community when he revealed that he had been lying to them for a year kept me reading at a pretty good clip.

Every gay Christian should read this book.  Every Christian should read this book, but I fear that will not happen. I will be recommending this to my church's book club.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My Tumultuous Affair With Tassimo

I am a coffee addict. Nothing short of it. Two years of sharing my life with a coffeemaker has been work.  All good relationships are I suppose.

MSNBC had a Tassimo commercial on about 5 times an hour during the season leading up to the holidays and I had decided that I wanted a single serving brewer.  After lots of research and tasting I picked the Tassimo.  Here are the reasons:

1. It produced a whole gamut of hot and even cold (sort of) beverages.  Coffee, espresso, lattes, cappuccinos, iced coffees (brewed over ice), teas (and iced tea if brewed over ice), low fat lattes.... and of these various strengths, cremas and flavors.

2.  There were only two brewers that promised to stay around long term: Kruerig and Tassimo.  Between these two the quality of the coffee brewed was no contest.  Kreurig brewed a weak version of coffee and no other options.  Tassimo's bar code reader adjust the heat of water and pressure of steam automatically to brew a strong, full bodied cup or a less robust cup if you experiment and find the brand  that suits your taste.

3. Choice.  This was a hard one, but between Maxwell House, Gevalia and an array of European brands Tassimo had plenty of variety.  The fact that Starbucks only made single brew pods for Tassimo cinched my choice.  Clearly the broader array of American choices would be available for Kreurig, but given number 2 above, I really didn't care.

I got my Tassimo and was prepared to live happily ever after. Then things started going wrong.  First Starbuck terminated their contract with Tassimo.  They clearly saw that the big market was with Kreurig and the quality of the brew be damned.

Then there was the recall.  The pods apparently "exploded" and showered user with hot water.  My guess is that these folks opened the machine before the brewing was complete, but the company sent a new pod holder that tightly locks it in place.

Bed, Bath and Beyond, where I bought the machine, started scaling back their offerings of t-disks, as they are called. With the loss of Starbucks (I still have two packages that cost $12 which are on ebay for $300 each) I started experimenting with other brands available from Amazon and Tassimo direct.

I discovered some wonderful new coffees, notably Maestro Lorenzo Crema and Carte Noire.  Gevalia and Maxwell House both have a T-disc that brews a 12 oz cup.  Kyle likes the former.

I was wondering if Tassimo would go the way of some other single cup options, but Bed, Bath and Beyond has restocked and TIM HORTON'S is now selling their coffee in t-discs.  For those of you who don't know, Tim Horton's is the Canadian version of Dunkin' Donuts. They have great coffee, and while I haven't tried their Tassimo version yet, it's a good sign.

Which brewer would I buy now?  Tassimo, hands down.  It just brews a better cup of coffee.  Period.

Now Kreurig is selling a new version of their brewer which claims to brew a stronger cup of coffee.  Just one catch.  It's a whole new pod, the K-cup Vue, I think.  Really?  Just how confusing will that be?  And Starbucks has their proprietary system, Verissmo.  It, of course, only brews Starbucks coffee, espresso and frothed milk-like something.  It is powdered, unlike Tassimo, which has a liquid "Milk Creamer."

Tassimo has a great product and I enjoy it almost every day.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Lincoln and Same-Sex Marriage

Kyle and I saw Lincoln today.  We both agreed it was a great piece of cinema.  The acting a tour de force especially for Daniel Day Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones.  Hal Holbrook also delivered a fine performance.  Although sprinkled with Spielberg's usual "fairy dust," asKyle calls it, the film was done with a lighter touch and the expected heart-wrenching, tear duct stressing coda, was toned down.

Both of us agree about the irony of watching the beginning of the end of slavery as SCOTUS was deciding how to the deal with gay and lesbian equality was on our minds.

Today the Supreme Court of the United States was expected to release its decisions to review, or not to review, 10 pending cases on marriage equality.  The basic premise of these cases challenge the constitutionality of DOMA (the so called "Defense of Marriage Act), Proposition 8 in California.  Indeed no action was announced kicking the can down the road until at least Monday... and perhaps beyond.

Great sources for information are found at  AFER.ORG, the website of the organization that is challenging Proposition 8.  This site has many informative videos and links.

If you choose to dig further, I commend to you a four part investigation of how this may be handled by the The Supreme Court at SCOTUSBLOG by Lyle Denniston.  Part I tackles the constitutional standard, Part II, the arguments for, Part II the argruements against and the final part the court's options.

The last read of interest is a opinion piece which argues that this is the most important decision that these nine justices have faced or will face." Tom Goldstein says,
Our country and societies around the world will read the Justices’ decision(s) not principally as a legal document but instead as a statement by a wise body about whether same-sex marriages are morally right or wrong.  The issues are that profound and fraught; they in a sense seem to transcend “law.”  Given the inevitability of same-sex marriage, if the Court rules against those claiming a right to have such unions recognized, it will later be judged to be “on the wrong side of history.” 
The real irony of watching Lincoln as the court decides is personified in Justice Clarence Thomas. The only African-American currently on the court (and also in an "inter-racial" marriage) is one that will assuredly come down on the wrong side of history. His position is due completely to people who came down on the correct side, including Abraham Lincoln.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NYSED Building is 100 years Old

Over the past few months I have spent 4 days in the hideously 1960s vintage annex to the New York State Education Department.  The main building is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and they just don't make 'em like they used to!


During the course of my stay, I did get to wander through the original building.  A favorite part of structure is the rotunda.  The main levels surround the opening that spans 5 floors. The centerpiece is a silvered pendant chandelier.




Pretty cool!

Bishop of Maine on Marriage Equality


The Rt. Rev. Stephen Lane is someone I count as a personal friend.  As the Bishop of Maine, he was faced with the need to respond to marriage equality and how the Episcopal Church will live with it when, on November 6th, the people of Maine voted to extend marriage to all.



In his usual well-informed and pastoral style Bishop Lane has issued guidelines that can be viewed here.

The document is beautifully, clearly and directly written with sensitivity the concerns of all.  No clergy is mandated to bless any marriage.  They never have been and never will be. But the bishop makes it clear from the get-go that he is giving permission for his priests to bless these marriages and legally act as they would for any marriage.

The bishop was Canon to the Ordinary in Rochester, an office he served with grace and knowledge of the the church and the requirements of the office, before he was elected as the Bishop of Maine.  Steve,  I love you more than ever!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Flag of Marriage Equality

A week ago the map of marriage equality in the United States was dramatically altered.  Carl Tashian's Flag of Marriage Equality is also ready to be updated!  I made a video of the flag's progress. Your comments about the video in this rough form are welcome as well as suggestions for a music track.


The Flag of Equal Marriage (Carl Tashian) / CC BY-SA 3.0

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Night 11:30 pm R-184 O-172, BUT...

Going on 11:00 pm and Romney is ahead in electoral college 184 to 172.  HOWEVER his is running of states he can take.  Nate Silver has not been wrong on a state yet. Virginia is out, but Tim Kaine was elected.  Florida has slight lead for Obama with Miami-Dade, an Obama stronghold.  Ohio is not in, but Sherrod Brown was reelected.  All good signs.  Silver has predicted victories in all three.  California is about to close.  This is going to happen!

Election Night 9:30 R-153 O-148

Obama has Wisconsin. Tammy Baldwin... ?

NY closed... Election results are coming in.  Of course NY was called for Obama in 15 minutes.

Watching Louise Slaughter and Kathy Hochul who we want returning to Washington. Louise is predicted to retain her seat.  Kathy Hochul is a "race to watch." She defeated a tea party candidate last year.



Election Night 8:30ish R82-O64

Electoral Votes: NBC Reports Romney-82, Obama-64

Big news is that Florida looks to be going well for Obama.  Of course they are not reporting early on that one... wonder why???

Nate is looking better and better.

Why Do I Torture Myself? Elect Night 7:30 33-3

Three states closed and few closing now.  Torture.  Virginia is too close to call and that's the most important first indicator.  Different source report differently.  CNN lighting up a bar chart on the Empire State Building.  NBC projecting the electoral college decisions on a map on the ice in Rockefeller Center, dubbed 'Democracy Plaza' for today.

Most indicators are a <1 are="are" blue="blue" even="even" have="have" is="is" leanings="leanings" light="light" meaningless.="meaningless." nbsp="nbsp" on="on" or="or" p="p" pink="pink" precincts="precincts" reported="reported" rural="rural" site.="site." so="so" the="the" their="their" this="this" urban="urban" using="using" which="which">
My vocabulary has been expanded to include, 'down ballot.' In NY that would be 'cross ballot.'  It means the candidates other than the president.

Called:  Kentucky, Indiana, WV and SC are red, Vermont is blue.  Electoral Votes: Romney 33, Obama 3.

Monday, November 5, 2012

TOMORROW: Why your vote matters for LGBT people


I am updating my Facebook cover to reflect the the importance of tomorrow's election for LGBT Americans, and not only Americans, but hope for LGBT people around the world. It could give them great hope that this country, a model of democracy, cares about ALL of its citizen.

There is a clear choice.  One party has a platform that institutionalized discrimination.  One party has a platform that supports full equality.  One party supports the so called 'Defense of Marriage Act' (DOMA) and a constitutional amendment that would make it part of the Constitution.  One party calls for the repeal of DOMA and opposes amending the constitution to deny rights and responsibilities to a particular segment of our society.

The GOP is on record to deny LGBT their rights.  The Democrats are for marriage equality and protecting the rights of all.

Four states vote on Marriage Equality tomorrow.  Maine, Maryland, Washington and Minnesota will go to the polls to decide if civil marriage is available for all. Martin O'Malley, Governor of Maryland, said,"I want to leave my kids a society where everyone's home is protected under the law."

Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) Maryland


The first openly gay Senator, Tammy Baldwin, could be elected in Wisconsin. While there are a number of openly gay member of the House of Representatives, this will be the first member of congress voted in by an entire states electorate.

If you are a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered or you love or even care about someone who is, please think carefully about your vote and how it will affect the future of equality for you, your neighbors, your loved ones and every single American.

Please, if you are on the fence, or even leaning right, let this decide which candidate deserves your vote.

One final note:  If you identify as Christian, vote on the principals that Jesus spoke, not the values that have been adopted by some followers to exclude some of God's children.  Vote to include.

Thank you!

Update:  Did I leave out SUPREME COURT APPOINTEES?   Yikes!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Cher and Kathy on the Election and Women

Listen up .... Cher is speaking!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Amtrak and I Are On The Skids

Apparently, this train, The Lake Shore Limited, has no WiFi.  It has a dining car.  Linen and silverware. It has no WiFi.  Strange priorities. I am not hungry.

Because this train goes to Chicago it leaves "the corridor" and as we all know, there is no WiFi beyond the Eastern Time zone.  Damn cowboy, Indians and train robbers.  Glad I am getting off the train before civilization ends.

Preston!  Men. Love ya and leave ya.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Amtrak, I Love You.


On board Amtrak from Rochester to NYC.  The fare of $62 each way (minus 10% for AAA) seems more than reasonable, but wait!  If you order now we'll give you free WiFi.  No shipping and handling.   Regular coach class.

And... It's fast!

What a way to go!

And the gentleman above is named Preston.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Off to Celebrate 50 years of "..AWRENCE!"



Today AMC is showing "Lawrence of Arabia" on the big screen.  Celebrating 50 years of David Lean's epic by filling the big screen once again with those big blue eyes!  Can't wait.

Xpedia: Journey to Understanding

While you may not want to eat at Chick-Fil-A along the way you can, in good conscience, schedule you trip with Xpedia.  Please watch this very moving video.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lowlights of the Republican Platform


The platform was passed easily today by the RNC.  These lowlights are taken from the Boston Globe.  Which of these remind me why I left the Republican party as a young man?  Trick question.  All of them.
MARRIAGE:
The platform affirms the rights of states and the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriage. It backs a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
I really don't have to go further.  My rights are apparently less important than a fertilized egg. 
VOTER INTEGRITY:
‘‘Voter fraud is a political poison,’’ the platform says. It praises legislation to require photo identification for voting and to prevent election fraud.
We know what that means and who it affects.  It's a solution in search of a problem.
GUN CONTROL:
The party says it opposes legislation intended to restrict Second Amendment rights by limiting the capacity of clips or magazines or otherwise restoring the assault weapons ban passed during the Clinton presidency.
 Here is a problem ignored.  There is no reason that anyone has a "right" to an assault weapon.  This is toeing the line of the NRA.
ABORTION:
The party states that ‘‘the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.’’ It opposes using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or to fund organizations that perform or advocate abortions. It says the party will not fund or subsidize health care that includes abortion coverage.
I am not a woman, but if I were I would not want an abortion.  I would like the right to choose.

Why anyone who is a self respecting gay man or lesbian, non-white, female or a responsible gun owner would support any Republican boggles my mind.

And then there is health care, social responsibility and job creation by the government ala FDR.  Some many ways for the Democratic Party to define the differences. Please let them,

Saturday, July 14, 2012

On Apologies and Non-apologies


How often have you actually received an apology from a person in a position of leadership?  It always seemed to me that training in administration included a course called Apology 101.  The curriculum is one word long.  "Don't"

In my experience the apology from leadership is rare and when it does occur it is usually negated or modified in such a way as make it less than an apology, if not meaningless or even demeaning.

There are at least two types of non-apologies:

"I am sorry that what I said hurt you," or "I am sorry that what you thought I said hurt you."  At least the first assumes that hurt occurred although it is not retraction.  The later can be translated as "you stupid idiot, how could you not understand what I said?  It couldn't possibly be my miscommunication.  If you're hurt it's your own damn fault."

"I am sorry about that.  I really should have not done that."  Now there's an apology.  Unfortunately it is often followed up by a tit-for-tat.  "I have been meaning to tell you that I was hurt by ...."  This approach is one that initially seems to be a real apology, but ends up canceling it's effectiveness with a reference to the score card of mistakes.

"Fair Fighting" is something I remember about effective communications.  When one issue is being discussed or argued, that should be the only item on the table.  No "But last month you said ...." when the latter issue has nothing the actions being discussed.  This is difficult.  It requires open communications so that when something happens in which either party feels injured it is dealt with immediately.  Please note that I am not saying that I practice this anymore than anyone else.  However my confession is, I do know better.

The apology that really makes a difference is "I am sorry. I made a mistake." and optionally "Please forgive me."

That's the kind of apology that invites, "You are forgiven.  Let's move on."

I know that Jesus calls us to forgive 70 times 7 times (Matt: 8:22).   Internally I can forgive a slight and just move on but it's a lot easier and moves us toward reconciliation when there is an apology.   It's a bit awkward to walk up to someone who has hut you deeply and say "I forgive you," without context.  But maybe that is what we are called to do.


WSJ BS


I am reminded of calling home from General Convention in 2003 when Gene Robinson was given Consents. I would report what was going on and Kyle would say the reporter must be in a different place, and just mentally but physically.

We all know, or should know, that what is reported is not exactly what happened. but there should be some attempt at accuracy. And reporting should be reporting, not op-ed. What was published in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about General Convention is a another clear indication that an well-informed American public has fast becoming extinct. This age of information technology has, ironically, led to its decline. Rarely do I feel it as personally as I did yesterday. Here's what I posted on the blog from the deputation of the Diocese of Rochester.
I fear many of you will read a piece in the Wall Street Journal that purports to be news. I won't give you the link because it does not deserve reference. You can use Google or some search engine to find it... or simply use the link in the blog from the Bishop of Arizona below. Be sure to read the comments he has received. 
This hack journalism starts with an accusaton that this was two weeks of revelry and frivolity. I can assure you that most of us at salads and Starbuck on the run, had Kristy run to the grocery store to supply us with sandwiches so we could eat together and only one night had a decent meal in a real restaurant with linen and silverware as we celebrated the the close of 9 days of work usually beginning at 7:30 and rarely ending before 9.
There is such an agenda behind  this and so much inaccuracy that your best bet is to not believe a word of it. The sad thing is that in today's polarized media world there is an audience that will eat this up and believe every word of it.
As disturbing as it is to see this agenda driven ... well I can't dignify it with the label "reporting" ... essay, maybe... it is impossible to explain how it feels to be the target. Perhaps one of my more learned colleagues will dissect it line by line.
Now I know why when I saw the Presiding Bishop at the airport this AM she seemed in daze. Start here... And my prayers for all the victims of this hideous attack. 
http://arizonabishop.blogspot.com/2012/07/wrong-on-every-count.html?m=1
Trying to read the comments posted to the original WSJ article is tedious and sometimes painful. It sparks the passionate groups on both sides, and the atheists who are looking for reasons to point toward religion as part of the problem, not the solution to anything find more than adequate fodder in this sort of publication.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The end of the World as we know it.

Geeks of Episcopalian... Your jargon will have to change.  GC 2012 has just voted to sell HQ  at 815 2nd Ave. in NYC.  This action in the House of Deputies must pass the House of Bishops, but that is almost certain to occur.  Unless we find property at 815 Something Street in the middle of America, we are forever changed.

Resolution D017 Rejected then Overturned.


Our resolution D017 "Moving Toward a Paperless Convention" went before the the committee on Structure.  Kit Tobin was present to answer questions at the beginning of the session.  Later the committee reported out its recommendation to reject.  Given that the Secretary of the House of Deputies used that title phrase yesterday, it is surprising.  We will have to find out why it was rejected and offer amendments when it comes before the house.
It's about time we stopped bringing down forests to print every resolution.

A group supporting a resolution on Palestine sent us all a large glossy booklet at home, distributed another copy on the floor AND had it all printed as a part of their resolution.  Without regard to the content of the resolution that is incredible waste.
Below is our Resolution.

D017 TOPIC: TECHNOLOGY
RESOLUTION TEXT
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 77th General Convention
call upon the planners of the 78th General Convention to make all materials
available electronically, both prior to and during the convention, and to make
WiFi available on the floor of both houses. In addition, planners are called upon
to make electrical outlets available on the floor of both houses for participants
who wish to use laptop computers or other electronic devices to access these
materials.

EXPLANATION
The actions outlined above would provide a number of important benefits. The transmission of information
(resolutions, amendments, announcements, etc.) via electronic means could streamline the convention process
dramatically, allowing for faster and more accurate dissemination of up-to-date materials.
Significant reductions to printing and paper costs would offset the expense of providing access to electrical
outlets on the convention floor.
In order to be responsible stewards of the earth's resources, it is our duty to drastically reduce the amount of
paperwork generated by Convention. The potential for cost savings and greater efficiency provides added
incentive to plan for a "paperless" convention.

The Resolution came to the floor of the House of Deputies.   I spoke to it.  It was amended to remove  the last sentence about electrical outlets was removed.

This became the first resolution to require a use of electronic voting. It passed by 58% voting in the affirmative.

The resolution as passed in the House of Deputies, reads....

D017 TOPIC: TECHNOLOGY
RESOLUTION TEXT
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 77th General Convention
call upon the planners of the 78th General Convention to make all materials
available electronically, both prior to and during the convention, and to make
WiFi available on the floor of both houses.

Now on to the House of Bishops


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Maurice Sendak Remembered

Today, the "Author of Splendid Nightmares", died.  The monicker was used in the headline in the New York Times. "Why is a gay man allowed to write children's books?" asks Stephen Colbert in his interview with Maurice Sendak:
Part 1: Part 2:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Where's the Outrage?

Governor Romney is using the Olympics to promote candidacy. Much more pertinent than removing Osama Bin Laden. Will the Olympics sue him?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Condescending Sexism at Its Best

Alex Costellanos, Republican something or other, interrupts my hero, Rachel Maddow and gives her a not so thinly veiled, "Now there, honey... don't fret your little head trying to understand big numbers." Mistake!



Thursday, March 22, 2012

Les Misérables is on it's way!


2012 is shaping up to be a killer year for movies. We were recently tantalized by a bevy of Prometheusgoodness, we’ve got the one-two superhero punch of The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, and towards the end of the year we’ve got some promising stuff from Quentin TarantinoPeter Jackson,Judd ApatowKathryn Bigelow and Baz Luhrmann. One of the more high profile projects coming later this year is director Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech follow-up: a large-scale movie musical adaptation of Les Miserables. The all-star cast is lead by Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, and today the first image of Jackman as Jean Valjean has surfaced.
From Collider


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Iris Maps are Coming Along...


This week's big project - and last week's and next week's - is mapping my gardens.  Using iDraw, I created bed outlines.  The next step was to create color and shape coded markers for various classes of irises.  Labels were added. Next I used Graphic Converter to create small versions of the ID photos I use for each cultivar in my database.

As I move through this process I have had to do some more research.  One of the most profuse cultivars in my garden I have labeled as Honky Tonk Blues, but I may have to rethink that.  Ocean Pacific turns out to be something I discovered the packaging for.  Although I had a light blue identified as OP, it seems it is darker.  These are more likely to be Monet's Blue.  All this means that my Honky Tonks may well be OP.  I cannot find any actual proof of having purchased Honky Tonk.  I hope the Greater Rochester Iris Society will help me sort this one out!