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Cory Doctorow

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday mornings at church

Like millions of others in the U.S.,  I spent a few hours today in church.  We had our annual Pancake Breakfast fundraiser -- it's a small church, so no fundraising idea is too normal or too "out there" -- before service.

There were people catching up with each other outside the sanctuary while inside, I was quickly running over the songs in today's service and confirming that I was to help with serving Communion.

In attendance today, like most weeks, were the ever-faithful (week in-week out always there), the once-a-month attendees and those whose absence until today was sorely missed.  We had a teenager in the congregation whose mother was attending a friend's funeral out of state and we had a pair of preschool aged twins fidgeting in the back of the Sanctuary with their parents.

Couples were celebrating their unions, people offered up their prayers for themselves and their loved ones and the sermon, though a little long winded, was pitch-perfect for Pentecost Sunday. We celebrated with a church family member over his introduction today of a new love and, hopefully, helped to lighten the load of another church family member who was laid off two days ago.  He, like what happened with me when I lost my job just before Halloween last year, was inundated after the service with wishes for peace and offers of support.  Ever the honest person (sometimes to a fault), I told him that perhaps I wasn't the best resource to finding a new job quickly; however, I would happily help him out if he needed it.

So, what makes my church so unique?

Nearly everyone who attends is gay or lesbian.  Their sons, daughters, nieces and nephews and wards are everyone's children. Some of the couples were married in the small window offered last year before the passing of Proposition 8, and my heart danced today when a man offered up prayers for his husband's health.

I've witnessed many a child having been raised at my church -- I've been a member over 15 years now.  Every child I've known from the church has grown up perfectly normal. I've celebrated with many a pregnant woman in the church and I'm stunned to see these children now that I once knew before they were born.

Maybe it is just me, but usually my weekly visit to church is hardly worth writing about.  And, maybe that's the point -- a casual visitor wouldn't guess they were at an MCC.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Week's end news roundup

Lots of e-mails and interesting news to wrap up and clear off.  Here we go!

Just got my first e-mail from El Tinklenberg.  If you don't recognize the name, perhaps this blog will jog your memory.

Got it?  There's an "oust" link on the left so you can click and donate when possible.

We've got a decent 16 months to help raise funds for Mr. Tinklenberg.  I'll keep socking away a few bucks a month and try giving him what I can when I can.  And, I'm a good 2000 miles from western Minnesota.  Their current Representative is nothing short of an embarrassment, plain and simple.

Can't wait to see her go!


From the VoteVets.org folks, a 62 second statement video on torture.  The link also gives everyone the chance to sign their name to a petition to continue encouragement to close the facility at Guantanamo Bay.

The arguments for keeping this facility are, plainly, laughable.  With an empty "supermax" style prison available in Montana and the folks affiliated with the facility all but begging to take on the detainees, what's the holdup?


Finally, Nicole Belle does a nice wrap-up-for-the-week's-end post at C & L on this week's CA Supreme Court ruling on Proposition and what one of our state's first legally married same-sex couples had to say about the issue.

And, most importantly, there is a link in her post all can access to get to a form which, once completed, would give same sex couples (or anyone else, for that matter) the right to visit each other in the hospital. 

I'll add my own two cents to this and urge everyone to search for more information on either a Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney and/or Health Care Directive.  Pretty much anyone of legal adult age may give the authority to make health care decisions to a person of their choice (including girlfriends, boyfriends, lovers, partners, spouses, etc.).  This document (which is called by one of these names in your state) also gives one the opportunity to specify health care decisions from the moment one becomes incapacitated to the moment one dies.

When you search, be sure to include the name of your state as the forms vary slightly from state to state and states have differing requirements on whether one of these documents needs to be witnessed, notarized, both or neither.  If you get stuck or think your situation may be more complex than a downloadable or template-style form can handle, check out Gaylaw.org.

Here's a toe-tapper that will drill into your ears and stay in your head.  I've not heard such a chipper song with a slap-across-your-face chorus.  Enjoy Lily Allen - it's definitely how I'd utter the song's title -- with a smile on my face and a perky late 70s/early 80's sitcom theme melody.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Minimum Wage Hike A Stimulus To Economy: Study

For the hard core advocates of minimum wage, the actual report is a great read!


Now, how best to counter the hard core, microeconomics 101 business school supply/demand "this minimum wage thing is a farce" mindset?
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So, how is California doing today?

A local church's list of weekly services has been, well, tweaked a bit.  The handwritten request was actually sitting inside the sign's glass, not slapped over the glass.

Today's announcement of two former rival attorneys joining together to file suit in federal court today in an attempt to overturn Proposition 8.  I knew that the thousands of marriages last year would leave a door cracked, but I had not planned on something further getting started today.

On a slightly more personal note, one of my coworkers felt comfortable enough to talk about how traffic was stopped in L.A along the 101 freeway early yesterday evening, which runs just to the east of downtown. 

A rally was planned last night, no matter how the court ruled.  The frustration over having traffic grind to a halt was understandable, but it lead to a brief discussion over what Proposition 8 really is.  The coworkers rather uneducated opinion about the situation did not sit well with the fairly liberal bunch I work with; however, the opinion was not entirely out of character and, where the coworker grew up, he likely faced much more basic life concerns than whether one has the right to marry or not.

Baby steps with all of this, I suppose, and I'm doing my best to do my part.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Today's court ruling

OK, so it's not a great big roaring thunder of traffic, but I kept having a moving picture much like this in my head since 10 am Pacific today.  SF Gate (the online version of the Chronicle) has all the details on California's Supreme court ruling from earlier today.

To be fair, most everything I was hearing/seeing/reading was preparing everyone for an upholding of Proposition 8.  The real "nail biter" here was whether all of the marriages of gay couples and lesbian couples between May 2008 and early November 2008 would continue to be valid or if they would be invalidated.

Those marriages, per the court ruling, are still valid.

Not being an attorney or legislator, the other picture in my head formed was that of two groups of employees at a company.  90% of them get the same 3 weeks of paid vacation time each year and the company closes its doors during those three weeks. The other 10% of employees only get one of those weeks paid.  

The reason?  Does it matter?  Why wouldn't everyone get 3 weeks paid vacation? Or, why not give everyone one week of paid vacation and two weeks unpaid?

Now, in the real world, it's rare a company closes its doors for three weeks.  Vacation pay in the U.S. is determined by the employer and, at least in my experience, is based on how many years you have worked for the company.  Those with the largest number of years of employment with the company get the largest amount of vacation pay.  Outside of the U.S.'s relative cheapness in giving employees paid time off, most workers are O.K. with "more seniority, more paid time off" as the rule.

So, who would ever agree to randomly select 10% of employees to only receive one week of vacation pay and no pay for the other two weeks while my fictional company closes its doors for its workers' mass vacation?

It seems the California Supreme Court had no problem agreeing to this while "grandfathering" a small group of the 10% who, through determination and hasty preparation and execution, found a way to get all three weeks vacation paid.

And, now I'm back to why I've had traffic in my head most of the day.  Those thousands of G & L couples whose marriages were not invalidated today have laid down a big street over which all sorts of attorneys and advocates will motor to give all consenting adult couples, gay, lesbian, straight, what-have-you, will eventually have the full right to marry and all enjoy the same benefits and same designation.

Ready to ride?  Start here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I'll be here the evening of June 19

Devi Bhava, or as dharmakaya.com explains:
Literally translated as “the mood of the Divine Mother,” Devi Bhava is a very special event that celebrates the feminine aspect of God, and God’s unconditional love and compassion for all humanity. It is a traditional, joyful celebration when Amma gives darshan as the Divine Mother in the manner symbolized by the Hindu tradition.
In other words, the Hindu version of a worship service.  I went to the Devi Bhava in L.A. last year.  Though my splitting migraine got the better of me and I had to leave shortly after the service ended and the darshan (see the vid below, about 2:30 in) began, it was a great joy to celebrate and feel God's presence in the ballroom.

Can't wait to see what happens this year. I best get to practicing a few bhajans . . just a few weeks left.

Dance-Off (or Is It "Dance Off"?) Makes College Baseball Interesting...? A Memorial Day Treat

OK, somebody finally got down to the suggestion I left at the college baseball Suggestion Box: have hot college dudes in baseball uniforms attempt to dance on a baseball field.

It's like my happy dreams came alive and were posted on HuffPo. Yippee !!
About Sports
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Susan Boyle Sings 'Memory' From 'Cats' In Semi-Final (VIDEO)

Got the chills all over again listening/watching this performance. I've sung in front of people a few times and, while I can carry a tune in a bucket, I'm always a nervous wreck. Once she heard the audience (I could never see the audience when i've been on stage and the lights bore right into my eyes), she drew strength from them. I'm not a big Lloyd Weber fan, but I could see "Cats" or any of his shows if I knew she was singing in it.

What a joy!
About Susan Boyle
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The blog posting that overfilled the glass

With the new work schedule these past two months, I don't have all day every day to read news articles, blogs, etc., and react.  On the one hand, I have a job! (things could be a lot worse).  On the other, I'm having to sift through a lot of information during the week to decide what is "blog worthy".  I've now picked up the habit of waiting for three "blog worthy" stories before posting except, of course, when I don't.

Moving on, here's what "overfilled the glass" and got me to posting today:

Having a big family history of cancer, I was overjoyed to see this posting on one of my favorite sites.  I'm a big-time spiritual guy, but for heaven's sake, if something is wrong with the body, you fix the body -- meds, surgery, a long soak in a hot bathtub.  The notion that cancer is a healthy response to stress -- ugh!  The people in my life who have battled cancer also battled overdoses of stress.  Then again, a diagnosis as terrifying and life-altering as cancer comes with its own big barrel full of stress.  If stress = cancer, there'd be no day-traders, no soldiers and every last President (well, except the vacation champ) would have their own cancer-treatment clinic at Bethesda.

That said, there is something to be said for battling the spiritual component of any major illness. Certainly, letting the inevitable depression go untreated makes no sense -- people are less likely to go through with the meds, surgery, etc., if they "just don't feel like doing it".

So, treat the spiritual component, the physical side of illness gets a lot easier to treat.  Ignore one, you lose to the other.


Continuing with science, there was an article earlier this week (and the History Channel has a special about it premiering Monday) about a unique set of remains.  So unique, apparently, that it fills in one of the "missing links" of evolution between humans today and animals from millions of years ago.  I was surprised by the word "lemur" appearing in all of this; however, I'm a fan of science and definitely not a scientist (the patch of something growing in the fridge which I keep meaning to clean up does not count as a science experiment).

The entirely irrational side of me still believes there's some mystical link between all of this science and God.  The Hubble telescope, exploring the ocean depths and anti-viral medication are all just tiny glimpses into what we call God.  Maybe I should consider a career as a minister or a full-time psych patient.


As I finished the above section, I somehow got onto a soapbox and whined my poor partner's ears off about the non-passage of five CA state ballot initiatives.

The latest chatter is the only way to close the state government's budget deficit is to eliminate programs that assist the state's poor.  Not only those who appear to be taking advantage of welfare (a really small percentage, I'm sure) but everyone else who is working full time hours, trying to raise children, pay for rent/mortgage, food, etc.  All of these programs -- gone.  And, somehow magically, all the problems will disappear.

I'm just going to stew a bit more.  I know I'm not sharp enough to know what programs to cut which help the least number of people and/or who help those who are already wealthy.  Should be interesting to see if CA's legislature can turn down the panicked rhetoric and make tough budget decision for everyone, not just for every poor person in the state.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A brief round of applause for . .

 . . radio chat show host Mancow, a pretty strong voice in this genre, did what few other chat show hosts would do:

He lasted 6 seconds in a large studio with full knowledge of what was happening and knowledge that he could stop it at any time.  He looked genuinely freaked out.

With any luck, he will meditate on the experience over the weekend (the link to his site which references his experience today does seem to point to a serious meditation -- I think).  How might this change his approach to politics?  Might his spend some of his considerable popularity to change minds and put still more pressure on our current Administration to publicly and loudly begin the investigation and prosecution of all responsible for this and other disgusting practices in the years following 9/11/01?

Or, maybe just some mindless, morning commute silliness (with the occasional questionable cross over into . . uh . . well, I'm not sure.  I guess I need to listen in some morning real soon)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

California Voters Don't Want Dire Cuts; They Want Leaders to Get It Right

I wished this post sounded like brand new, out of the box thinking. Californian's like me have read/heard this sort of thing before. I also wished this post was enough to change enough of voting Californians' minds so they would stop electing Assembly members and State Senators that kept encouraging borrowing over paying as we go. Will CA voters elect state legislators next year that wll reflect their own interests, like they did earlier this week or just go with the best looking, the incumbent or the one with an (R) or (D) after their name?
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

BETTER WETTER? Who's Hotter When Soaking Wet? (PHOTOS, POLL)

Thank goodness for something this fluffy and inconsequential. I still cannot stop screaming at the TV and flippin' th' bird at Newt for all the horse droppings he's uttering lately about Pelosi. Maybe more dudes soaking wet will help me chill out . .
About Celebrity Skin
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Monday, May 18, 2009

First, Denis Leary. Now, Rachel Maddow

I might as well lay all of my cards on the table.  These next few factoids will, undoubtedly shatter a few stereotypes about gay men and shed all kinds of light on what kind of man I really am.

I watch "Rescue Me" -- have done so every summer since Season 2.  While the notion of a drama centering around a firehouse should easily every gay man's delight, every character on the show is extraordinarily dysfunctional.  Every. Last. One.  It makes this show all the easier for anyone to relate to -- who didn't enjoy some level of dysfunction in their own family as they were growing up?

I was more of a casual (read: I'd be in the room glancing up now and then as the show played) watcher before the next to last episode of Season 2.  (yeah, I know I'm sourcing Hulu. Sign up is free.  No captions on this episode - oi!).  I do not remember laughing so hard and crying so hard within the space of an hour.

Anyone that can illicit laughter and tears in the space of an hour is someone of which I'll be a fan for life.

Oh, yeah, and I listen every now and then to Playboy Radio and enjoy a good long belch every now and then.  Really.

And, if there was any doubt before, I'm now a fan for life of Rachel Maddow.  She got me to mine new depths of outrage, then had me howling with laughter . . in the space of 30 minutes!

So, there, multi Emmy-nominated actor on a basic cable show!

First, the "cover sheets" of the Worldwide Intelligence Updates presented to our previous President.  Full color photos.  Bible verses. BIG FONT.  I can't help but imagine that there had to have been, at least once, a finger puppet performance of one of these Updates in lieu of having to *ugh* read one of these things.

Not even me trying to reenact the possible puppet show relaxed my jaw and unclenched my fist.  The color photos I could let slide. But slapping Bible verses under the report titles . . that set me off!  OK, so as a rational grown up there are plenty of incidences of the Bible being used as justification for all sorts of atrocities (here is one directly from someone far more familiar with the Bible than I).

Then, the litany of voices from the right wing over Speaker Pelosi's alleged involvement with torture (I can't call it anything else) of prisoners years ago (and maybe even now? anyone's guess) just so some kind of frail link between the attack in NYC in '01 and Sadaam Hussein.  Newt Gingrich slathered the icing on this bizarre cake.  The outrage I can, again, let slide.  But Gingrich spouting off at someone for lying?  Check this out:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

KNX - U.S. Soldier Caught in Pink Shorts Battling Taliban

KNX - U.S. Soldier Caught in Pink Shorts Battling Taliban

Posted using ShareThis

OK, a confession.

A photo with a soldier in a goofy pair of boxers is ALWAYS going to catch my attention.  Not only a nice visual to segue back to the equally goofy world of politics, war and all sorts of big questions, but a way to start taking deep breaths after the last big earthquake out here happened about 25 minutes ago (OK, so it wasn't "the big one", but I'm less than 20 miles from the epicenter, so it felt big enough for me).

Over 20 years in So Cal and these things still twist and tighten me like a cheap rubber band.

Metalhead's big day at Long Beach Pride

Every year, save one or two when I just was not feeling well enough, I have gone to the Pride Festival in Long Beach, CA. 

 The first few years I just went to wander around, check out the booths selling everything from belt buckles to gyros.  Music from rock to gospel, salsa to techno and always a country music line dancing tent are spread around the edges of the festival like the edges of a pizza crust.

In the last 10 years or so, I have gone to the festival on Saturdays (occasionally Sundays) and volunteered to work at one of the Pride sponsored areas.  Most years I sell tickets at $1 a pop for festival goers to take to Pride sponsored soft drink/water stands and/or beer stands.  Sometimes the ticket selling feels like wading into the midst of a slow running stream to fly fish and, on other years, the four-hour minimum block of time one can volunteer soars by with chatty, sometimes pickled patrons and easy-going fellow volunteers.

Every now and then, I've worked Security for one of the stages (either I'm too old or the music is too loud or the work too dull, but I'm not cut out for Security) or given soft drinks/water in exchange for tickets (I almost got a friend of mine connected with a dude at which he could not stop staring and drooling.  My friend begged and begged me not to do it and, at the last minute, I acquiesced).

This year, I volunteered for something new.  To say what it was would wash away any anonymity.  Suffice to say it was the least amount of fun I have had at any one of these events.  I'm thinking next year (and for years to come) I'll stick with beverage ticket sales.

I usually volunteer in the afternoons.  The festival has a fair number of attendees in the afternoons and, by the time my shift is over, the grounds begin to swell with partygoers and the whole atmosphere begins to change.  Sadly, by the time my shift ended, I had missed watching that same friend of mine from years ago at the soda/water booth singing on one of the stages for his first time.  I did get an photo of an interesting paring of booths.  One of the best things about the Festival is that commerce, social awareness and politics all exist side by side here.  

The effect as one walks past these booths with a funnel cake in one hand and a souvenir plastic mug of diet lemonade in the other can be a bit jarring; however, it's as an eclectic a mix as the festival goers themselves.

Just a few handouts passed to me this year. The gay bars/clubs, as usual, were in full force.  One of the most clever was a tiny baggie for a spa chain (the home page is tame, but I'd imagine going much further into the site would be "adults only") There is another word which I could use to describe this chain; however, I cannot bring myself to do it.  The baggie contained, of course, a business card sized advertisement for the spa that doubled as a coupon, a link to another side for "hookups", a single use fast-food style packet of personal lubricant and a condom (which, as the advertisement says in slightly smaller font than the rest of the ad, encourages use of by saying "Play Safe / Condoms are always FREE").

If you must frequent a place like that for activity it can suggest but not outright say, you might as well be properly equipped and fully educated.  And, if they hold true to their house rules, better still.

Cutest flyer goes to the South Coast Chorale.  I even took the time to enter into their drawing for two tickets to their next performance.  I have a little over a month into talking my better half into going - I'm a sucker for choral performance.

Best moment of my day in Long Beach?  I'd have to pick two though neither occurred on the festival grounds!  Thanks to my employer's metro pass, I had a free ride to and from Long Beach.  On the ride there, I was so amused first watching a infant boy, couldn't have been more than a year old, staring at me intently like I was the oddest thing he'd ever seen.  Later in the ride, I could not get over a couple my age with nine children, early teen to toddler, in tow. How they managed to keep all nine of them in line, especially with kids so often left to meander by their parents while out in public, was especially impressive.

Then, on the ride home, I could not resist playing (as did most of the riders in the vicinity) with a little girl who couldn't have been any older than three.  Her parents both looked exhausted yet the girl was ready, able and willing to carry on through the night.  Another man's sleight of hand and my silly version of "peek-a-boo" were all she needed to stay amused and she played right along with all of us.

I look forward to next year's Festival and hope that I may experience it then as those little ones on the metro yesterday saw their world - wide eyed, energized and anxious to see what's around the corner.

Obama Photos: New Behind-The-Scenes White House Pictures (SLIDESHOW)

A few random thoughts over the first batch of photos:

1) What a joy to have a left-handed President!

2) The President really is engaged and doesn't seem to be gracing the meetings with his presence.

3) Does Michelle Obama EVER not look good?

4) Wow, what a gorgeous house!

5) It is just me or does Geitner look like he's getting scolded or berated ?
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Friday, May 15, 2009

Happy Long Beach Pride Weekend!

Before I dig in to some gay/gay adjacent tidbits, I've been watching, listening and reading what time permits on who ordered what and who was told what and when regarding torture at Abu Grahib, Guantanamo Bay, etc.

The cast of characters are much the same and . . . oh, surprise . . . our former VP Cheney seems to be the top dog in the whole sordid mess.  And, just so someone can point and whine like a sulking child "See? She knew it too! She should be in truhhhh-bulllllllll !!!!  waaa-aaaa-aahhh !!", Speaker of the House Pelosi has gotten caught up in this mess, too.

So, I'll wait to see what piles of dung get flung where next week, hold my nose and poke around all of it to see what it all means.


The Pride Festival and Parade take place this weekend in Long Beach, CA.  I'll be one of the volunteers there tomorrow afternoon and, if I don't get too exhausted after that, I'll head back to Long Beach  on Sunday for the Parade.  I have not been to one of these parades in over 10 years.  I'm not expecting anything I had not already seen in previous parades; however, in light of all the things happening in the world of teh gay lately, it seems this is a good time to reconnect with my tribe.

Now, as an appetizer to this weekend's festivities, I could not stop laughing at the first segment of last night's Daily Show.  I've not been so tickled and laughed so hard and long in quite awhile.  All because . . . "he's gay!"

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Carrie Prejean: 'Satan Was Trying To Tempt Me,' Plus New Pics With Michael Phelps

OK. She gets to keep the crown and sash


and hang out with a shirtless Michael Phelps?

I think she may just want to BE a gay dude. God loves her no matter what. Even with everything she's got happening to her and no matter what manner of silliness she's uttering.
About Miss California
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Monday, May 11, 2009

The laughter and (almost) tears of Monday

I, like many, have been waiting, anticipating today's premiere broadcast of The Randi Rhodes Show (via Premiere Radio Networks).  I'm sure as I strolled around on my lunch hour with my headphones on, head shaking and stifling giggling fits as all of her fans' favorite hallmarks of Randi's show (that NYC accent, the sentences that start, fade out and jump to another thought as if her mind works a lot faster than her mouth, phone callers who couldn't hear her and vice versa) that I looked like an idiot.  Could not care less, though.  Amongst all of the things fans have grown to love about her show, it was so lovely to once again hear a well researched and passionate voice during the workday.


So, Saturday night's press dinner featuring President Obama telling jokes (I'm a sucker for self deprecating humor and he does it well) and Wanda Sykes delivering a sometimes funny, sometimes "oooo, no she didn't!"

So, what was the big issue?  Comedy is best done when the only ones watching are those who think the comedy is funny.  The broader the audience, the more watered down the comedy has to become.  Could be the comedy was not watered down enough for the cameras.  Then again, there is plenty of Wanda Sykes clips out there to give anyone who extended the invite to her for Saturday night's event a good idea what kind of comedy potency they are getting.


On a personal note, I had a unsettling occurrence at work today.  Someone who phoned in for help with their product wound up spending much of the 12 minute call telling me about the set of circumstances which brought him to the phone.

Turns out he and his partner were struggling with multiple stressors.  The customer's parents had died late last year and the customer himself was recently diagnosed with another occurrence of the cancer which, until recently, had been in remission for years.  To add more wood and fuel to the fire, the customer's siblings were challenging my customer's inheritance and, while his parents loved his partner like another son, his brothers and sisters could not be bothered.

And, continuing the fire metaphor, he and his partner had to evacuate their home due to approaching wildfires.

Considering all of the messes life had hurled at him, it was nearly miraculous that he only broke down sobbing briefly twice.  While I was able to take care of his problem with the product and recommended some resources for him to access, I have to leave it up to God to give the man at the other end of the phone to give him the peace that passes all understanding.  There just isn't any good reason why someone who is nearing their final days on earth should have to also handle such heavy burdens.

While it seemed obvious to me that there was something divine about me receiving that call today, I will admit I had felt for just a little bit of time afterward, that perhaps God had placed me in front of too difficult a circumstance.  The last time I had felt this unnerved was after I had lost my mom to cancer 12 years ago this month.

God also took care of me afterward, too.  My partner picked up the phone when I called as I walked to the Metro station and promised to hear the full version of this story when I got home. I got to sit all through the commute home (most days I stand for 3/4ths of the ride -- my balance and stamina are just not what they used to be).  I got to check out a really cute dude for a little while.  Sitting next to me on the second leg of my trip home was a dude watching Olbermann and I wasn't phased in the slightest when a college-aged Jehovah's Witness tried to witness on the train.  By the time I got home, I was relaxed -- at peace -- and able to put today's events into perspective.

I'm already prepared for whatever comes tomorrow.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Obama And Industry Groups To Propose $2 Trillion In Health Care Savings

I used to work for a managed care company in Customer Service/Authorizations/Claims adjustment. I agree with most of this article. The health insurance companies indeed do want to cut administrative costs. I should know, I was part of a big layoff and consolidation at the managed care company I worked at for nearly nine years.

Heaven forbid the administrative cost saving should affect the executives, owners and shareholders. The employers from whom the revenues came I'm sure appreciated slightly smaller than usual hikes in the monthly premiums they paid to the company. The doctors and hospitals, I'm sure, were thrilled to have to navigate an even more dense automated menu-driven phone system or to be one of over 100 calls answered per Customer Service Rep per day.

Everyone happy?
About Barack Obama
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A meditation

Ooh, if this was only the type that involves incense, a tranquil forest retreat and slow, deep Shiatsu massage at the end.  Maybe next time.

Thanks to now having a normal 40-hour-a-week with a daily 2 1/2 hour round trip commute, I have precious little time weeknights to scour the 'net, looking for news that grabs my attention and rattles me enough that I can't just post a mildly snarky comment on that site itself.  Since I'm using public transportation for the daily commute (that's old-school for "going green", btw), I'm saving my pennies to get a new computer (the one I use is fast approaching 7 years old) and some kind of matching PDA I can take with me on the commute.

So, while I await a leapfrog of technology into the 21st century, I just started my now weekly trip through the blogosphere and found a post by one of my favorite writers, Susie Madrak. You'll find a clip of testimony given to the Senate this past Wednesday from a journalist turned TV writer regarding the state of "professional journalism".

I'll distill it:  pretty bleak.

Be that as it may, the last century is full of industries who were on the brink of death when someone found a way to revive/reinvent themselves.  My best guess is that the Huffington Post is in the best position to become this century's NY Times.  Maybe The Mudflats as an adjunct to the Anchorage Daily News and Juneauempire.com ?

So, where do I see myself in all of this?  No Journalism degree and nothing in my resume suggesting a career sniffing out big stories.  I've enjoyed my forays into protest and civic involvement; however, I really love snapping photos of my new work neighborhood (Hollywood CA) and fishing around the 'net for my favorite tunes.

So, maybe no Pulitzer, Peabody or six-figure book deal in my future.  Then again, the majority of writers never receive awards or live in the lap of luxury.

Please knock first before entering the . . uh . . room (?) as I ponder the direction of this blog this weekend.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Jane Harman, AIPAC and why this is news

While this has not made much of a dent in TV news lately, the subject of this post has been rattling around since 2006!

The story involves warrantless wiretapping, a little bit of ever-so-subtle power tug-of-war between two Representatives from California and a lobby group with a formidable history. 

There are allegations that, in exchange for "reduc(ing) espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee . . . the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi (now the Speaker of the House) to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections . ."

So, who is blogging about the Congressional Quarterly article?  PJTV? Fox News? George Will?

Why on earth would blogs favoring liberal opinion write fervently about the allegations of quid pro quo and/or possible Obstruction of Justice?

Here is where I insert my many years of mid-level business management experience into this political morass.

In 2006, the Democrats (which include Harman and Pelosi) wanted to take advantage of the public's frustration with the lack of progress to retain as many Democrats already in place in the House and win enough seats in the House to put the Democrats back into the majority for the first time since 1994.

In my management experience, when our department is short staffed, the last thing anyone wants to do is suspend or fire any employee.  Much more effort is made toward correcting employees who made mistakes and/or keep calling out sick or showing up late to work.

So, in that spirit, it looks like in order to keep Harman in the House, the worst that happenedin '06 was that Pelosi did not give Harman the coveted Chairperson position in the Intelligence Committee.

Now that there is a much bigger Democratic majority in the House, it appears that the chatter about Harman has ramped up again. It did not hurt that a recent revelation that some of Harman's phone conversations were monitored (see emptywheel's post to which I linked earlier in this post).

Listening to a few liberal talk show hosts on the radio lately, it looks like the pressure is mounting to kick off a full investigation of the unseemly political mess from three years ago.

Again, in my management experience, once the department has become fully staffed and everyone is fully trained, the vice of policy enforcement begins to squeeze.  Suddenly, those employees whose infractions were overlooked, now find any continued poor performance or bad habits prosecuted much more vigorously and their suspension and/or firing become more likely.

If it has now become time for the Democrats in the House to police their own and peel off those whose dealings are more gray/shady than most, it looks like this former candidate for Harman's seat in Congress is priming herself to run next year for that same seat.

Can't wait to see how long and far this "housecleaning" will go.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Joe, Michelle and Evil

The two posts from earlier tonight below are, as you know, replies to posts from Huffington Post (scroll down and look for the link to that sight on the left side of this page).  Nothing like people with a microphone and a camera close by having nothing of substance to say.  If nothing else, any need I may have had for Ipecac has suddenly vanished (I just saved a few bucks.  Thanks Joe & Michelle!)

If you need one more quick story to produce the same effect, here you go!  And, what's even funnier, the local party head in Ohio just figured he'd update his posting later on 4/30/09 to fool all of those Internet bloggers and news writers into thinking that post and pics never existed.

Just because I wasn't fast enough to screen capture the offensive post and save it as a .jpg file does not mean that someone else could not be.

You may need to magnify the screen shot in the story to which I've linked to see what was really so outrageous.  I've linked to the article which explains how one of the two men pictured in the offensive post became bald.

If you can find something similar posted by a liberal using a photo of a man in a truly sad and scary chapter of his/her life, I welcome your comments and links.  Something tells me, though, that I'd best not hold my breath waiting for it.

Joe The Plumber Slurs Gay People: I Would Never Let "Queers" Near My Children

I'd suspect Wurzelbacher running for public office would be a sure sign that the Four Hourseman of the Apocalypse are just around the corner.

Uh, Joe, I know it's crazy kewl for Republicans to talk smack about teh gay when they really want to be teh gay, but it's gotten so tired!

And, before anyone claims it, I get the toaster oven award if he finally opens up about any, uh . . same sex buddy lovin' desires. *shudder*
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Michele Bachmann: Obama Led Spending "Orgy," Government "Spent Its Wad" (VIDEO)

Bless you! I cannot imagine how rough it is having someone like Bachmann representing your district. Do let us know as soon as the run for her seat in Congress begins. I was one of those outside of MN who donated to her opponent. I'm socking away a few bucks each month to donate to the next Dem who runs against her in '10.

BTW, her talking about wads has soured me on any of that imagery -- and I'm a gay man. Now that's quite an accomplishment!
About Michele Bachmann
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I have a confession

I watch This Week with George Stephanopoulos.  Every.  Sunday.

And, nearly every Sunday afternoon, I read the liberal blogs about some politician saying something on "This Week" that sets stomachs to heartburn and, in the writer's opinion, goes unchallenged by George.

Having watched these sorts of shows for a while now, I'm getting pretty good at finding when the host lets the guest speak their mind, getting away with blatant opinion instead of an honest analysis of fact.  Once in a while, a Democrat gets to wander down their own path.  More often, the Republicans get a hold of the reins and run roughshod over what's actually happening.

The first segment of today's show was a real test of restraint for me.  Fortunately, the TV is still in one piece and I didn't strain any muscle or tendon from tossing things across the living room.

Things got off to a start with Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch from Utah stating confidently:
We all know he's going to pick a more liberal justice.  Their side will make sure that it's a pro-abortion justice.  I don't think anybody has any illusions about that.
Then, less than a minute later, the dog-piling of Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy begins:
LEAHY: . . I have a pretty good sense of what (President Obama) has in mind for a justice.  What I would argue . .


LEAHY: What I would argue . . 

HATCH: I would like to know that, Pat.

LEAHY (the transcript incorrectly attributed this next quote to George): What I would argue is you walk into the Supreme Court, over the doorway there is a great big piece of Vermont marble, and engraved on it, it says "equal justice under law." That is what you want to have.
and on and on the overwhelming push to the right continued.

In all fairness, the reaction of at least one Democrat in the Senate to the last Supreme Court Justice nominee, Samuel Alito, was not all that much less bellicose.

Still, I was feeling like I was getting the overheated leftovers from a Fox News . . uh . . news program (?).  Well, at least with Fox, everyone knows what kind of spin to expect (or, for that matter, the kind of spin one gets when watching an MSNBC . . news-esque . . show).

I'm saving Fareed Zakaria for later today . . like a treat.  An actual news program withan actual journalist/editor talking with interesting guests with a different take on political and international issues.

Then again, how else would my pitching arm get a workout every week?

Friday, May 1, 2009

"Show me what it looks like . ."

". . . outside your window at twilight" (full lyrics here). This tune will work its way into your brain and slide around 'til you're liking it and tapping your feet to the beat. Check out this YouTube clip of Thriving Ivory performing "Twilight". The more I listen to this band, the more I love them!

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