Progressive. Queer. Feminist. Opinionated.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Barnes & Noble

I was in B&N today (I'll be truthful - Rick Santorum is coming for a book signing on Thursday, and Harper and I wanted to try and get a scoop on what was going to go on). In the Cafe, a man came up to the Coffee Girl to vent. He was a tall guy, I'd guess around 6'3 and 240 lbs, probably in his late 50's. He came up to buy a beverage and vent. From what I could hear (I was sitting a good 20 feet away), he had been having a conversation with a group of friends about something (I heard him say "velocity") a few days ago. When he came in today with his wife, the B&N manager confronted him about it and made it clear that he didn't want the group back. There had been a government notification.


Fascism central, eh?

Oh, and on the Rick Santorum sign, some wag had scribbled "Fascist Pig" in loopy girly writing. Take that, Mr. Man-on-Dog.

Hate in Action

I've been following the Love In Action and ex-gay conversion stories in the news lately, but then again, who hasn't been? Crooks and Liars provided a clip of Paula Zahn's CNN program about Love In Action, and I just watched it.

I feel very sad for the people who are brainwashed in this gay conversion programs. I'd love to get angry and scream at my computer screen, but I can't find the energy for it. I only feel sad.

Paula Zahn talks to one young man in the program who says, "I'm happy the way I am," implying that he wasn't happy before. Later, Zahn interviews Gerard Wellman, who works for Love in Action International. He says the program is "not about temptation, it's about behaviour." He pushes the idea that he still feels longings, but he doesn't act on these longings. He goes on to say he felt desperate and lonely as a gay man, and now as someone who has turned his back on homosexuality, he no longer feels this way.

What I find the most perverse about this all is that the young man doesn't delve deeply into why he felt desperate and lonely as a gay man. He doesn't stop to think: did these feelings come about because he was gay or because of society's feelings about being gay? I don't even think that can be a question - it's too obvious. Anti-gay propaganda pushes this idea that young gay people are more likely to be depressed, anxious, and unhappy than straight young people, but the reason for this is right under their noses. These young gay teens live in a heterosexist world, watch politicians on the TV attack homosexuality, and hear the church spew hatred. How can these kids not be more likely to become depressed or anxious? These kids are barraged by hate for one simple sin: being born.

The Paula Zahn piece above bothers me because it shows how Love in Action is addressing the symptoms, not the problem. The problem is that society can be a hateful, ignorant, and cruel place. The symptons are these poor kids and teens feeling deserted and alone. Instead of working to create a friendly environment of love and acceptance, Love in Action takes the words of a man who preached loving one's neighbor and turning the other cheek and creates a message of heterosexism and homophobia.

Hindu same-sex marriage

You always hear that people can change, but we find examples of this not often enough:

(New Delhi) Two teenage women have married in a traditional Hindu ceremony in India's West Singhbhum district - despite laws which forbid same-sex marriage.

The women, identified in the local media as Nitima Biruwa and Laxmi Bari, were married in the village of Bharbaria with the blessings of their families.

Press reports from the region say that the wedding was arranged by family members.

The reports quote the father of one of the women as saying that he had tried for months to break up the couple to no avail. He then decided that the best thing would be to allow them to marry.(link)

I can't help but wish that goverments would listen more to the parents of gays and lesbians when said goverments try to make policies for gays. Maybe this wish is just because I'd love nothing more than to see my mom argue against Bush for gay marriage. My mom supports the president, but she's told me countless times that she doesn't think he could be more wrong when it comes to gay rights.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Sexism, racism, and stupidity, oh my!

Will someone make this man shut up?

Birth Control Harms Women - a video clip from our friend Santorum. According to this blog:

He said it Thursday night. Birth control is harmful to women and society and it's "not a healthy thing for our country."

And I suppose bigoted haters who think that women (including lesbians) should be stuck at home over the stove while their husbands win the bread are good for America?


Speaking of things that are "good" for America, here's a little gem of personal interest, as I'm a Philly resident right now.

Tucker Carlson and MSNBC: Laughing at a missing, pregnant mom who's not from the suburbs. (Side note: this bit of news and the one above were found through Atrios's blog).

I'm sure we've all noticed how often the new media loves to cover missing white (often blonde) girls. I'm not going to comment on the tragedy of anyone missing - it is sad, after all - but it is an interesting point that news channels aren't interested in missing people who aren't blonde and sparkling. As the blogger says, pregnant 24-year-old LaToyia Figueroa from West Philly is missing, and it's not exactly MSNBC's finest hour. Please go read this.

A young, pregnant mother is missing, and MSNBC is laughing at the story.

Somebody needs to make them pay.

This is a good read.

Safe Sex with insects, Roe vs Wade, and gay license plates

This post is in honor of userinfodokool, who has been one of our most loyal readers and supporters. He sends us almost an email a day with news links, and I've been a real ass in following through on these emails. I keep meaning to put up his links, and I keep forgetting. For this I solemnly apologize, and will now provide a great deal of them.


I saw this ad awhile maybe a year ago, but I could never find it again. Luckily, userinfodokool found it. This is a French AIDS awareness ad. Do not click if you are insect phobic. Cass, for the love of God, keep Beth away from this.

I like this ad because it's disgusting and terrifying, and it really forces the viewr to think about what exactly he or she faces when he or she has unprotected sex. Can you imagine the US showing an ad like this? I can't.

This reminds me of what I find most disgusting about Bush's abstinence only programs. I won't argue about this fact: the only way to stay completely safe from STDs and pregnancy is abstinence. But the likelihood of all teenagers staying abstinent is so completely slim it makes me laugh. The worst things about these programs is their inability to spread knowledge. One of my favorite Margaret Cho quotes is, "Silence equals nonexistence." Although she wasn't talking about the subject we're looking at here, I think this quote can apply. Silence doesn't solve anything, but that's what these programs supports. So Bush is supporting the idea that we send kids away from Sex Ed with little to know information about sex. That's so dangerous. It makes me cringe to think about it.


Here's another dangerous issues: AG: High Court Not Bound by Roe V. Wade.

Talking about the landmark court decision legalizing abortion, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said a Supreme Court justice does not have to follow a previous ruling "if you believe it's wrong."

In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Gonzales said the legal right to abortion is settled for lower courts but not the Supreme Court, suggesting high-court nominee John Roberts would not be bound by his past statement that the 1973
Roe v. Wade decision settled the issue.

I honestly don't know what to say about this. I think the article speaks for itself.


I saw this one a few days ago: 'GAYSROK' Plate Ruled OK in Utah. I found it on Conservative Utah To Allow Gay-Positive License Plates.

The Utah State Tax Commission has decided to approve three personalized license plates with gay-positive messages after earlier denying them.

The decision is a first for the commission, which, until this decision, had never approved a personalized plate containing the word "gay."

In December 2004, Elizabeth Solomon applied for three personalized license plates: "GAY WE GO," "GAYS R OK," and "GAY RYTS." The Commission approved the "GAY WE GO" plate but denied the application for the latter two plates.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah appealed the denial on behalf of Solomon.

I think this is a positive step in the fight to stop allow "gay" to be a bad word. Of course, I'm also a little leery of the floodgates this could open.


Again, thank you to userinfodokool for these links. I'll try to keep up on them in the future. He has a real talent for emailing links that I find to be both interesting and pertinent to this site. I think it's important for you readers to be able to access them, so I need to be on top of my game and allow that to happen.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Ivins vs. O'Reilly, a fight to the death

If I can stay on the topic of the ACLU and Bill O'Reilly for a moment...

News Hounds writes that O'Reilly is angry at Molly Ivins. This interests me for a few reasons. Number one, I'm a big fan of Molly Ivins. I recently read Bushwacked: Life In George W. Bush's America, a book I can't recommend enough. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on the audio book so I could listen while I shelved at my library. I found myself often stopping in my work just to lean against the book shelves and shake my head. Ivins has written a damn powerful book. Also, she's got a lovely southern drawl which lends itself to the writing, I feel.

I digress. The News Hounds piece also interests me because O'Reilly's a man of the lie, and I do enjoy hearing from anyone who can take him on. I wish Ivins would come on his show. She's a strong and independent woman, and I think she could stand up to him.

The News Hounds piece is about an article that Ivins recently wrote called "You can't not care: Plamegate illustrates pattern of deception in Bush administration." Here's the paragraph News Hounds says probably pissed O'Reilly off:

I know that sludge-for-brains like Bill O'Reilly attack the ACLU for being "un-American," but when Bill O'Reilly's constitutional rights are violated, the ACLU will stand up for him just like they did for Oliver North, Communists, the KKK, atheists, movement conservatives and everyone else they've defended over the years. The premise is easily understood: If the government can take away one person's rights, it can take away everyone's.

As you can imagine, O'Reilly was not amused. Check out the links.

Bill Fisher's "Bill O'Reilly In Drag"

I usually try to avoid going ahead and just all out posting someone else's blog entry, news article, editorial, etc, but I think this one is too good to pass up. (I found this link through Crooks and Liars, who found it through Jason Miller's Thomas Paine's Corner).

William Fisher has a blog called The World According to Bill Fisher. I'll admit I know nothing about Fisher, but I was very impressed with an article he wrote recently. This article is about Michelle Malkin, the postergirl for the conservative blog world. Malkin is close with O'Reilly, and a lot of their rhetoric sounds very similar. Lately, Malkin has been going after the ACLU and other activists, sounding very O'Reilly-esque by calling the ACLU and other similar programs whiners. She's responding to a lawsuit the ACLU has brought against the FBI, saying that the FBI has collected secret files on the ACLU and other programs like it.

I strongly recommend reading this article, titled Bill O'Reilly In Drag (i.e. Malkin is O'Reilly in drag).

By William Fisher

Michelle Malkin, sometimes known as Bill O’Reilly in drag, opened one of her recent syndicated rants with this question:

“Oh, dear. Oh, dear. Civil-liberties activists, anti-war organizers, eco-militants and animal-rights operatives are in a fright over news that the nefarious FBI is watching them. Why on earth would the government be worried about harmless liberal grannies, innocent vegetarians, unassuming rainforest lovers and other ‘peaceful groups’ simply exercising their First Amendment rights?”

Ms. Malkin was referring to a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, charging that the FBI had amassed hundreds of pages of secret files on that organization and similar groups.

Well, let me suggest that this cute-looking new darling of the salivating right is asking the wrong question. What she should want to know is why the FBI is snooping on the ACLU. After all, the rights the ACLU defends include those that allow Ms. Malkin to write exactly what she wants to write, no matter how misinformed.

Ms. Malkin is too young to remember, and obviously hasn’t read much American history, but if she wants an answer to that question, there are lots of answers. Here are a few.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, the FBI engaged in widespread spying on ordinary Americans. The targets back then were left-wing groups and individuals, civil rights and anti-Vietnam activists and, of course, President Nixon’s “enemies list”.

The leader of the pack was the FBI’s powerful first director, J. Edgar Hoover. J. Edgar started his witch-hunting career in the 1920s under Attorney General Mitchell Palmer. Palmer’s infamous ‘Red Raids’ were enabled by a national environment of fear and suspicion and led to the jailing or deportation of hundreds of communists, anarchists, Bolsheviks, and other dissidents, including Emma Goldman, the well-known Russian émigré poet.

The FBI under Hoover collected information on all America's leading politicians. Known as Hoover's “secret files”, this incriminating material was used to make sure that the eight presidents under whom he served would be too frightened to sack him. The strategy worked and Hoover was still in office when he died in 1972.

Not even Martin Luther King, Jr. got a free pass. The FBI used wiretaps and a covert operation, personally directed by Hoover, to unearth derogatory information intended to destroy King as a national civil rights leader.
In between the Red Raids and Martin Luther King, there was the internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans during World War Two – an action for which the United States Government finally apologized, but which young Ms. Malkin thinks was just a dandy idea.

Even earlier in the life of our Republic, there were the Alien and Sedition Acts, passed in 1798 under the administration of President John Adams. They were sold as measures to protect the United States from "dangerous" aliens, but were actually used by the Federalists to stop the growth of the Democratic-Republican Party.

The four laws making up the Act authorized the president to imprison or deport any alien associated with any nation the United States was fighting in a "declared war, " and deport any alien considered dangerous, even in peacetime, extended the duration of residence required for aliens to become citizens, nearly tripling it from five years to 14, and made it a crime to publish "false, scandalous, and malicious writing" against government or government officials.

These unambiguous violations of the First Amendment were vigorously opposed by such well-known lefties as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

Ms. Malkin saves her fiercest invective for the “eco-radicals” who urge their followers to take “direct actions" against American military establishments, urban centers, corporations, government buildings, media outlets, and the financial centers of the country through “massive property destruction”, “online sabotage”, “physical occupation of buildings”, and large-scale urban rioting.

Ms. Malkin conveniently ignores that fact that such eco-radicals have nothing whatever to do with the ACLU’s lawsuit. She also ignores America’s long history of civil disobedience – which started with the Revolutionary War that created the country, continued through the Civil Rights movement, and is still alive and well today.

No one wants to see mass destruction of anything by anyone, but Ms. Malkin would do well to acknowledge that it was acts of civil disobedience that gave her many of the rights she now enjoys.

Ms. Malkin concludes: " ‘Dissent is patriotic’ is a bromide no responsible agent can swallow blindly. Tolerating the unfettered free speech of saboteurs has threatened enough lives already.”

How about your free speech, Michelle?

I forget who said it, but it’s a statement Ms. Malkin needs to think about: The greatest threat to democracy is the unbridled power of government.

Funny how often small-government states-rights conservatives like Michelle Malkin forget what it is they’re supposed to stand for!

Great article. Check out his blog.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins ...

Lutheran Head Hopes To Avoid Gay Schism:

The head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the latest Protestant group in a showdown over gays in the faith, said Tuesday he hoped the denomination would stay united no matter what the outcome of its debate.

The ELCA General Assembly is scheduled to vote during an Aug. 8-14 meeting in Orlando, Fla., on whether gays in committed relationships should be ordained and their same-sex unions blessed by the church.

I don't expect this will end well, but I'm glad the Lutheran church is trying to approach the issue. Still, trying isn't enough; the church needs to actually change. I think there's a faily good chance I'll be leaving the Lutheran church by the end of this all.

I grew up with the Evangelical Lutheran Church. My parents were never strict church goers, never the kind to show up to every potluck dinner and Bible study class, but we went often enough that my mom knew all the older women in the church and my dad shook hands with most of the men. I didn't understand very much about church politics (hell, I didn't understand that Protestant meant not Catholic - I thought it was another denomination) until I got into high school. Church was a place where I liked how the pastor told nice, kind stories, and where I occasionally found myself for summer day camp.

At some point in high school, the Evangelical Lutheran Church was declared unorthodox by the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, our stricter cousin. I still have the news clipping of this event, nestled away in a box in my night stand. The clipping says we were declared unorthodox because we (1) ordained female pastors, (2) gave communion to other denominations, and (3) refused to condemn same-sex unions. At the time this clipping was cut out, I was proud of these details. My church was taking a stand. Now, feeling older and more disillusioned with the comforts of my childhood, I notice one very important word in that clipping: "refuse to condemn." My church was not condemning same sex unions, but it certainly wasn't blessing them.

Now, six or so years later, the church is finally voting on whether to bless the unions or not. I'll admit that if they vote not to, it'll make my life a whole lot easier. Ever since I heard about the UCC's "God is still speaking," campaign, I've been drawn to the UCC. And especially after I learned all the other unique details about the UCC - how it was in the forefront in condemning slavery, ordaining women, and accepting homosexuality - I started to really believe that I'd leave the Lutheran church for the UCC.

I suppose I can say "leaving the Lutheran church" in name only; now I know I've been leaving Lutheranism for a few years. I never felt like I could mention my girlfriend to anyone involved in the church: my fear has been holding me back. My beloved pastor left around sophomore year of college, and since then whenever I go back to St J's, I feel like I'm waiting for someone to say something homophobic. That's probably a little paranoid, as my church was never one for current events and world issues, but I can't help feeling like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. When will the day come when the new pastor says something about the institute of marriage, or when will one of the other church goers say something about gays in the church?

And as I wrote the words, "my church was never one for current events and world issues," I felt something else in me twinge. Those words are true. My church never was interested in worldly things. Why shouldn't I find a church that is interested in worldly events? We live in the world, don't we?

I want to add one final point, to make sure that this post isn't disingenuous. I talk so much about going to church, the impression might be gained that I'm an every-Sunday sort of church goer. Oh, if only that were true. As I said earlier, my family went when they could, when another pressing event didn't draw us away. During high school, I drove myself once or twice a month, depending on my school's demands (sports seasons are very bad for church).

I've always been very careful to distinguish between religiousness and spirituality in myself, as I've always felt more inclined toward the latter. But while being spiritual is enough for many people, I like the idea of the church to be lurking in the background. I don't need to go every Sunday, but as long as it's there, I felt better about religion. Feeling like I was losing the Lutheran church was sad. It's been a sad few years. And for that reason, I'm glad I discovered the UCC.

Who knows - maybe by the time I return to school for the new semester, I'll be able to officially call myself a memeber of the United Church of Christ. By that time, the Lutheran church will have decided whether or not to bless same sex marriage. I don't know if I'll be around to hear their answer.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Gay records in Germany

This one's just a little bit creepy. Just a bit. Not much at all.

German Police Keep Secret Database On Gays:

German LGBT groups are expressing outrage over reports that police in three German states are keeping secret computer files on gays.

Der Spiegel reports that the names of gays who have been in any way involved in the legal system - either as suspects, victims or witesses - are being gathered on the database.


More lesbians marrying than gay men in Canada

Shall I get out my little "yay lesbians!" flag?

More lesbians than gay men marrying:

According to Saskatchewan's Vital Statistics Office, 19 of the 30 same-sex marriages registered in the province have united lesbians. Though the numbers are still too small to point definitively to a trend, a similar skew is being recorded in provinces where the number of same-sex marriages is much larger.

I know it's not a competition, but a small part of me is shouting, "Whee!" right now. I'm sorry; I feel shame. I shall go hang my head.

Cleveland Heights Gay Partner Registry still alive

Well, I'll be damned.

A few years ago, Cleveland Heights worked to get more rights for gay couples in the form of a domestic partner registry (the rights include employment benefits, property inheritance or hospital visiting rights). This was, by and large, a movement organized by the people. My best friend helped collect signatures, and the people got this to the point at which it could be voted on. It passed, gay couples had more rights, and we were happy.

Shortly after, Ohio passed one of the strictest constitutional amendments on banning gay marriage. I assumed that the registry was done for, and my friend (the one who worked on it) said that they didn't know yet, but things didn't look good.

Look at this:

(Cleveland, Ohio) An appeals court has ruled that a domestic partner registry in Cleveland Heights does not violate the state's constitution.

The initiative creating the registry passed with 55 percent of the vote in November 2003.

Jimmie Hicks Jr., a conservative member of the city council went to court in 2004, to fight the registry saying the registry goes beyond the municipality's its authority in the home-rule powers of the Ohio Constitution.

Hicks was represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, a national Christian law practice that is fighting gay rights in a number of states.

The registry's recognition is not binding on courts, governments or employers. But supporters said it would make it easier for couples to share employment benefits, inherit property or get hospital visiting rights.

In May last year a judge dismissed Hick's case saying the registry confers no legal status on the couples and is not in conflict with the state constitution. (story)

Hick appealed the ruling. A three-judge panel of the 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the lower court ruling.

Hicks has 45 days to appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court. Earlier this year he indicated he was prepared to fight all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Last November Ohio was one of 11 states that passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage and civil unions. Hicks suggested that the argument at the Supreme Court would focus on the amendment. (link)

It's still alive. I almost can't believe this. But it's still alive and being kept alive. I do believe I can say this and fully mean it: hot damn!

Santorum's saying he won't run for president

Lately, I've been reading a lot of sites that thought Santorum was making a move towards presidency, but, to my great delight, I found this today:

Republican Sen. Rick Santorum (news, bio, voting record) said Monday he has no intention to seek the presidency in 2008....

"I have six children ages 4-14. And the idea of coming off a race of the intensity that I am engaged in at this point and turning around and running another two-year campaign for president is not something that I believe is in the best interest of my family," Santorum said in an online interview with The Washington Post. (link)

Can I have an AH-men?

This is a good thing. The man's off his rocker. For example, Crooks and Liars has a video (link) of Santorum on News Night on CNN. On this video, Santorum speaks against Griswold v. Connecticut.

Here's the facts of the case, pasted from the above link, for those who don't know:

Griswold was the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut. Both she and the Medical Director for the League gave information, instruction, and other medical advice to married couples concerning birth control. Griswold and her colleague were convicted under a Connecticut law which criminalized the provision of counselling, and other medical treatment, to married persons for purposes of preventing conception.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Canada telling gay couples to be careful while traveling

Imagine a place where the leaders try to protect their people.

Same-sex couples told to be careful when abroad:

With gay marriage now legal across Canada, the Foreign Affairs Department is warning same-sex married couples to be wary when travelling or moving to foreign countries, which aren't likely to recognize the marriages and could even bar entry.

"As we welcome new legislation in Canada that extends access to civil marriage to same-sex couples, we must also acknowledge that many countries still do not permit such marriages," said Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew in a statement released yesterday.

"Whether visiting or moving to another country, Canadians should always take the time to learn about the laws of the country for which they are destined before leaving home."

How many times has our Senate shot down anti-hate crime laws? And here's Canada warning married queers to be safe.

If you let little girls play with trucks...

"and we hardly define the straight person by who he or she wants to have sex with" wrote Harper.

This is something I've been wanting to write about forever.

There are probably 100 reasons I avoid talking about my sexuality especially on the internet. But a really big one is that I don't want it to define who I am.

The fact that I date the person i do, that's a choice. Being attracted to that gender is not. I want to be defined by what I choose

It's like my hair. People have told me that my natural hair color is beautiful, and act like I'm not happy with who I am because I dye it. But brown hair isn't who I am. I had no say over that, any more than I do over the fact that i was born a girl or in Ohio or anything. It isn't who I am. If someone compliments it, they might as well compliment me for being born in Ohio. (which would be weird, cuz Ohio is crummy I think, but go with it.) If someone compliments my purple hair, s/he is appreciating who I am. I want to be read by the things choose.

Of course, there are choices with what we are born with. I didn't choose to be female, but I choose to wear skirts. I didn't choose to be born Jewish, but I chose to follow the religon.

For a long time I thought sexuality was like my hair, except unchangeable. It was something that had nothing to do with who I am as a person, or at least with who I want to be judged as. I think some people let this define them entirely, and I see that as bad. They become epitomes of a stereotype, be it negatove or positive, and they let that be all they are.

But then again, people do that with like-geek, or punk, too. and those are choices. embracing the culture of it or not, that's a choice.

I guess, in the end, I'm confilcted on this, where once I was sure. What do you guys think?

No sex for you!

I actually laughed when I saw this: Civil Unions OK But No Sex Anglican Priests Told.

The Church of England has accepted a report that will allow gay and lesbian priests to have civil unions but forbids them from having sex.

The proposal was approved Monday by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams - a move that has angered both gays and homophobes in the Church.

Same-sex domestic partnerships become legal in the UK December 5. (story) Although they offer most of the same rights and responsibilities of marriage they cannot be called marriages.

Under the Civil Partnerships law, same-sex couples have inheritance rights to their partners' estates, hospital visitation rights, and the right to receive the spouses share of their partner's pension.

I honestly don't know if this is a step in the right or wrong direction. At least unions are being recognized, but what business does the church have in the bedroom? Here's what Rev. Richard Kirker has to say about this decision:

“This statement is perfectly consistent with the Church of England’s policy of double dealing, duplicity and disregard for decency," said the Rev. Richard Kirker, General Secretary of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.

“At a time where lesbian and gay people – yet alone lesbian and gay Christians – are looking to the Church to affirm their families and to help build stability and provide a safe space for them, the Church spits in their face. The Bishops’ Statement betrays contempt, once more, for lesbian and gay relationships and should be rejected as unloving, unpastoral and unworkable.

This whole argument above makes me think about something we discussed in a wonderful class I took, Here and Queer. How do you define gay love? To be gay means to have sexual feelings for someone of the same sex. So, in a way, gay love is defined by sex. At the same time, gay rights activists have fought for years to stop the business of gays and lesbians being defined strictly by who they sleep with. "We're sons and daughters, lawyers and doctors, artists and writers, sports stars and computer nerds!" has been their general argument. And we hardly define the straight person by who he or she wants to have sex with. It's an interesting argument, I think. I personally feel it's important to keep in mind that a gay person does have sexual feelings for someone of the same sex. I want to be accepted and loved in modern society, but I don't want to be assimulated, if you know what I mean. I'm proud of my love for my girlfriend, and proud of the fact that she's not a man. I wouldn't love her if she were a man. She's my girlfriend, after all.

I think it's also interesting to think about how much time the straight rulers of the world spend thinking about gay sex. I'm quite serious about this. For the Anglican church to make such a statement, they must have spent a great deal of time thinking about, debating, and considering gay sex. For President Bush to be so concerned with a marriage "protection" act, he must spend a great deal of time thinking about gay love. There are many other examples: Santorum's comments about "man on dog" sex, for one. I recently linked to Rev. Wilson's comments about lesbians "strapping yourself up with something." And what about Tom Coburn (a Republican Senator of Oklahoma) comments, as shown below:

You know, Josh Burkeen is our rep down here in the southeast area. He lives in Colgate and travels out of Atoka. He was telling me lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they'll only let one girl go to the bathroom. Now think about it. Think about that issue. How is it that that's happened to us?"

Tom Coburn, 8/31/04 (link)

These people insist we're (the queers) pervered, insidious, and bad for America, but who's got sex on the brain? You tell me.

I'll be utterly honest with you, however. For all the hours Bush spends trying to control my future marriage, for all the time he spends thinking about whether or not we should be allowed to enter a legal contract, I can promise you this: I've never wasted a moment thinking about George W. Bush's sex life.

Madmen in science

I meant to do this a few days ago.

Cass made a post a long while back called Lying to us, lying to them. This addressed the New York Times article Gay, Straight, or Lying? Bisexuality Revisited. To jog your memories, I'll paste a bit of that article:

Some people are attracted to women; some are attracted to men. And some, if Sigmund Freud, Dr. Alfred Kinsey and millions of self-described bisexuals are to be believed, are drawn to both sexes.

But a new study casts doubt on whether true bisexuality exists, at least in men.

The study, by a team of psychologists in Chicago and Toronto, lends support to those who have long been skeptical that bisexuality is a distinct and stable sexual orientation.

Want to know something interesting? This below bit is from a July 20th entry on AMERICAblog, which is like my CNN.

Recently, the New York Times Science section -- which I read religiously -- trumpeted a study claiming bisexuality in men really doesn't exist. All those guys who say they're bi? Liars. What the story didn't tell you was that the study's senior author had lost his prestigious university position as head of department on ethics charges, been investigated for a year and a half and was identified by the esteemed Southern Poverty Law Center as being linked to hate groups. He also saw no ethical dilemma if parents aborted babies they believed were going to be gay. In other words, eugenics. Gee, think that might have colored our opinion of his study? No letters objecting to this article on that basis were run and no clarification about his suspect past ever appeared, to my knowledge. (link)

(For the record, his post goes on about the New York Times making two major errors lately; I highly recommend reading it).

From there, I found this post on AMERICAblog that I someone managed to miss entirely: Bisexuality Study: NYT Gives Prominence To Disgraced Researcher. You can find here a lot of information about Baily, one of the major contributors to the New York Times article, and his very shaky "science."

It seems that J. Michael Bailey has a reputation of conducting disreputable studies. By googling his name and the word "eugenics," I found a site that provides some information from a transexual he worked with for his book The Man Who Would Be Queen:

Kieltyka likens Bailey's "science" to the infamous syphilis experiments performed on unwitting black men at the Tuskegee Institute. "At the beginning of the last century, blacks were expendable human beings to be experimented on without their knowledge," she says. (link)

This all relates to something that's been scaring me lately. For a very long time, it seemed to me that there were two sides debating science in this world. One side was pushed for creationsim, the other for evolution. One side was fundamentalist, the other not. One side thought the world was thousands of years old, the other said billions. And it was easy to see the difference to these two sides.

Now, it seems like nutjobs are everywhere. I'm not trying to be insensitive by using the term "nutjob," but really - why in the world would the New York times allow a man who didn't think there was an ethical dilemma in aborting gay babies to provide information for a so-called scientific study? That seems mad to me!

And here's another example:

George Stephanopoulos:…Now, you’re a doctor. Do you believe that tears and sweat can transmit HIV?

Senate Minority Leader Dr. Bill Frist: I don’t know. I can tell you…

Stephanopoulos: You don’t know?

Frist: I can tell you things like, like …

Stephanopoulos: Well, wait, let me stop you, you don’t know that, you believe that tears and sweat might be able to transmit AIDS?

Frist: Yeah, no, I can tell you that HIV is not very transmissible as an element like, compared to smallpox, compared to the flu. It is not, but the first slide, because I think it’s dangerous to show that and then sort of walk away.

Stephanopoulos: Let me just, I wanted to move to another subject, let me just clear this up, though. Do you or do you not believe that tears and sweat can transmit HIV?

Frist: It would be very hard. It would be very hard for tears and sweat, I mean, you can get virus in tears and sweat but in terms of the degree of infecting somebody, it would be very hard. (link)

This is the Senate Minority Leader, a doctor, and it takes Stephanopoulos one, two, three, four questions to finally get the man to admit that maybe tears and sweat don't transfer AIDS.

How are these people reaching positions of power? How are these people working within the mainstream? It's scary to me. While I understand the need to understand differences in opinion, I also feel it's important to understand that some things aren't opinion - they are only wrong.

If you wanted to read the science of a madman, you once had to look for, say, Chick Tracts. Then you can read Jack Chick explain that dinosaurs and man are both 6000 years old or Lucy was a chimp. Now you can find the madmen in the Senate.

And this scares me.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

"Reparative" therapy says I'm a dirty, dirty girl

My first introduction to the whole "ex-gay" movement was the film But I'm a Cheerleader, wherein the main character gets sent to a "straight camp" (and subsequently falls in love with Clea DuVall, which is a damn better ending than most real straight camps get). I've been interested (read: trainwreck-disgusted) in the ex-gay movement ever since.

Via Ex-Gay Watch: is posting a fascinating series on this topic, of which the second one in particular ("My Gay Therapy Session") just sort of twists my insides. The reporter, Mark Benjamin, enters into a session with Christian councelor Barry Levy as a "possible homosexual," and sees what goes on during one of those sessions first hand. Which is, as it turns out, not a whole hell of a lot.

The words are gentle, helping, informative -- for some values of information -- and Levy himself has the language of a therapist. He even says things that, I admit, make sense:

Levy informs me that homosexuality is difficult to treat because it is about more than sexuality -- it is about a way of life. "I want to make a distinction between same-sex attraction and being gay," he says. "That is a whole ideology. It is a lifestyle. It becomes the locus, or organizing principle, of the identity of the human personality."

Well, yeah. For me, anyway, I'd say this is pretty correct. I'm not just a lesbian -- I'm also part of the queer community. The fact that I work on this blog at all pretty much confirms my desire to be part of this "way of life." The big difference, I suppose, is that I'm totally uninteresed in this whole treatment thing.

But others... damn. This has the hallmarks of a decent therapy session underneath the really corrosive message, such that a person in this treatment may actually find help in other areas of their life and attribute it all to the Gay Eradication. "Look, I don't stress about my life as much -- I must have been stressing because I was gay. Bad gay, bad!"

I hate a lot of things about the ex-gay movement, but this... this helping to hurt is insidious and manipulative and-- words fail me. Yeah.

(Link) (Oh, hey, and fellow contributors, I'd love to see your reactions to the third article and Reverend J. Grace Harley. Extra points go to whoever can write up a good comparison between her story and Joss Moody's.)

Kansas Rep. Steve Huebert's bizarre obsession

It's not entirely surprising to see another state bring up (and start to shout down) the whole gay adoption thing. But Matt Foreman, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s executive director, does manage to brighten the day a bit.

Foreman sees attacking gay adoption as the conservatives’ next move after preventing gay marriage. In April, Kansans became the 18th state to rewrite its constitution to say the only recognized marriage is between one man and one woman.

“This is just another example of — frankly — that bizarre obsession with homosexuality,” Foreman said.


I'm back - and many articles...

Back early from the day away.

Latvia's Gay Pride went ahead. There were more protesters than those on parades, and eggs were hurled, but the parade went ahead. And I honestly think that's the most important thing; it's all about the baby steps. (And here's another article about this).

And for those Harry Potter fans in our audience, here's an article about metaphorical gayness in the books:

The boy is different. He lives in a closet. He's lonely and frustrated, until he's introduced to a colorful secret world of people like himself. And then he learns all the magical things he can do with his ... wand.

Rimshot please.

This article actually discusses slash. I don't know about you, but as someone who spent a great deal of her teen years in fandoms, I'm amused.

And here's an article about spirituality and queers:

"Silence is one of the most stultifying ways of keeping people in the closet," Coffman said. "You miss so much of the quality of life if you can't talk about your significant other."

I always find articles on spirituality interesting.

Also, State to study giving benefits to gay and unmarried couples:

Pennsylvania has taken a step toward offering health care benefits to state workers' gay and lesbian partners.

The board that manages health care benefits for state workers voted unanimously to study the cost of extending benefits to employees' same-sex partners.

The Pennsylvania Employees Benefits Trust Fund board is also expected to examine the cost of extending benefits to unmarried heterosexual couples.


Saturday, July 23, 2005


Ion and I are taking a day trip to see a friend of hers. We will return Sunday in the early afternoon, so no posts from us until then. Maybe another member will take up the slack...? (She says hopefully).

I'm having slight issues with the google search bar I added last night. It's there, but it can't seem to search our site. Any helpful advice? Do we need to make sure that Google the search engine can reach our site? If so, how do I do this? Any ideas?


Friday, July 22, 2005

Spain sees first lesbian marriage

A few weeks ago, I posted about Spain's first gay marriage. This marriage was between two men who had been together for 30 years.

Now I can happily say that the first lesbian marriage has taken place:

Two women have become the first in Spain to get married since a new law allowing same-sex weddings.

Veronica and Tiana, from Spain and Argentina, were married in Mollet del Valles near Barcelona. (link)

If you follow the link, you can see a picture of the happy couple kissing. (And to be fair, I feel that I should mention I found this link through this Gay News blog).

Evangelical Lutheran Church considering blessing same-sex unions


WATERLOO — Same-sex couples might soon be able to get their unions blessed in Lutheran churches.

Delegates to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada's 10th national convention, being held in Winnipeg until Sunday, plan to debate and vote on a contentious resolution on Saturday.

If it passes, individual congregations would have the power to decide whether to bless the union of same-sex couples in committed long-term relationships.

"I think the resolution has a very good chance of being passed," said Rev. Michael Pryse, bishop of the church's Kitchener, Ont.-based eastern synod.

I can barely believe this. Kudos to the Lutheran church.

Latvia's Pride is On

Am I the only one who finds it utterly hilarious that I tried to sign into Dyke Squad using the login name Duke Squad?

Anyway, a few days ago I was going to post about Latvia's Prime Minister banning a gay pride parade. But before I got a chance, the courts said it could go on:

A Latvian court has reversed the ban imposed by city authorities on the country’s first ever Gay Pride Parade in Riga tomorrow (Saturday).

The decision was handed down in the Riga District Administrative Court this afternoon.

“We salute the decision of the Court and consider it a victory for democracy and reason over prejudice and hate,” said Pride organizers, Gay and Lesbian Youth Support Group. “It is a victory not just for the LGBT community in Latvia, but for the entire Latvia.”(link)

I try to be careful when saying things are getting better. Just because gay men aren't executed in this country (at least, legally) anymore and lesbians aren't forced to settle down and marry (at least, not ten times out of ten), that doesn't mean things are getting better. Heterosexism and homophobia doesn't attack in mobs so much anymore, but it's still present anywhere.

But every once in a while, I get a bit of news like this and feel like maybe - but only maybe - I can feel like things are improving.

Administrative: comments

Before I get into the news, I just want to tell people to keep checking our comments pages. We have some interesting discussion in there, a few people who comment regularly with interesting things, and the wonderful DOKool often provides new links. So keep an eye out for all this!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Preventing pain relief helps prevent nasty mansex

Image hosted by Via Adventures in Gastonomy:

Johnson & Johnson, as many companies do, has queer-specific ads for its products. A completely innocuous ad in the latest Advocate, selling Tylenol PM, has been targeted by some "family" groups as "a critical issue because it's one more way that the issue of homosexuality is being normalized and sent out as though it's not harmful," and another example of "Johnson & Johnson's committment to "financially support homosexuality."

Well, lovely. But these groups are also encouraging their members to call up J&J and complain about this -- so, as Karl from Gastonomy says:

Please call and THANK Johnson and Johnson for supporting the community (although, to be honest, they're more trying to make money off the gay community than support a cause...we are a capitalist society, afterall). But still, this ad is placed in a gay magazine for adult gay's not found in Good Housekeeping or Hightlights. It's also a lot less offensive that other ads I see in mainstream publications.

The number to call is: 1-800-962-5357, option 5

They seem quite happy, actually, to receive these calls.

Word on the street has it that they've shut down phones except between 9 AM and 4:30 PM Eastern Standard, but I still say it's worth a moment's work.

Bill O'Reilly can't bully this woman

A lot of people can't hold their own against Bill O'Reilly.

This woman does so beautifully. I highly recommend treking over the Crooks and Liars to watch.


Bill: How do you define terrorism as a columnist? How do you define it? ( I guess he thought she might say that there really aren't terrorists in the world, but only misunderstood souls.)

Antonia Zerbisias (representing the Canadian news): Well I think really the question is how do you define terrorism Bill? I define them as acts of violence against civilians, how do you define it?

UCC and CC

I don't think this should make me quite as happy as it does: Churches of Christ: We're not the UCC

''There's a bit of confusion among people from the outside,'' said Stephen Sutton, minister of the Maury City Church of Christ. Religious leaders in West Tennessee and across the country are hoping to clarify that the United Church of Christ and the churches of Christ are not one and the same.

''The Church of Christ by no means recognizes gay marriage as a valid and moral practice,'' said Howell Ferguson, a Church of Christ missionary with the Bear Valley Bible Institute based in Denver, Colo.

On one hand, we've got a church saying, "Don't mistake us with a church that promotes love and tolerance! We're hateful! Fire and brimstone! Brimstone, I say!!" And normally, this would upset me to no end.

But on the other hand, I'm glad the UCC's having further reaching effects. What they've done is being felt everywhere. And knowing that bigots are getting their panties in a twist? Well, that brings an extra bit of sunshine to my day. Good job, UCC.

''For someone to make the claim that gay marriage is acceptable in the church denies teachings in the Old and New Testament,'' said Ferguson, who is also the Bear Valley Bible Institute stateside coordinator for Madison County.

Ferguson and Sutton say they have never had contact with anyone from the United Church of Christ. ''I've researched their resolutions online,'' Sutton said. However, they welcome the opportunity to discuss and study the Scriptures with anyone.

Ferguson and Sutton cite a list of biblical verses, including 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10, in which they believe homosexuality is condemned.

''It doesn't use the word 'homosexual' but it uses the phrase, 'defile themselves with mankind,' which is pretty plain,'' Ferguson said.

Though they believe homosexuality is sinful, Sutton said, ''It's not to say that this could not be forgiven.''

I think these guys need to read their Bible a little more. Or have they forgotten about the parts of the Bible that endorse selling one's daughter into slavery. Or how about the parts forbidding certain foods?

Or do they, like the majority of allegedly "good" Christians, take bits of the Bible to follow strictly and leave other bits behind? This practice infuriates me to no end. The fact that these people are huge supporters of the "the Bible is the final word!" argument, and then they go and only pay attention to certain passages ... well, that's ridiculous. And so we come to the word of the day: hypocrisy.

I hate hypocrisy. You'll see this become an ongoing theme in my posts.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Layout, "abortion pill" and Santorum+O'Reilly

New layout! I'm particularly proud of this one. Also, the banners (look down at them!) are making my day. Please, use them! Show us off!

All right, back to the news.

In a stunningly stupid display of irresponsibility and partisan word play, Fox News has been calling the morning after pill the "abortion pill." This is from News Hounds.

A small, but significant segment appeared on Studio B today. Greg Kelly (substituting for Shepard Smith) did a story on the morning after pill.

However, on Fox, the morning after pill became the 'abortion pill'.

Calling it the abortion pill and also having a banner that read 'abortion pill' sends a strong message to Fox watchers. This pill is widely known as the morning after pill.

This is simply ridiculous. The morning after pill is given to rape victims and the FNC is calling it an "abortion pill" so the uninformed masses will get up in arms. It makes me sick.

And while we're on fair and balanced news, allow me to return to News Hounds. As they say:

Bill O'Reilly interviewed Rick Santorum last night and agreed that Boston liberalism could have caused a higher percentage of child abuse cases in the Boston Archdiocese. After all, isn't Harvard right there? O'Reilly inquired about the surprising revelation that Santorum's senior spokesman was Gay accepting Santorum's prepared statement of tolerance without question. After congratulating Santorum for appearing, O'Reilly spoke to Barney Frank with the opposing view and gave him a very hard time.

O'Reilly may be a sleazeball, but I have more of a personal problem with Rick "man on dog" Santorum. And I simply don't understand how O'Reilly can claim any measure of being a fair newsman while pandering to this ass.

Please visit both links. They're very good. Also, comments on the layout?


Quick Administrative Detail -

If you are on the LJ feed, you may notice that the feed no longer shows short snippets of these posts, but the full thing. In order to sign Dyke Squad into some blog collectives, I needed to change that. If I find a way to change it back, I will, but otherwise I'll just have to apologize for cluttering your journals.

Look for some layout changes in the next few days. I hope to get to them tonight.

"First woman to head a major US orchestra"

Good news for women. (I grabbed this one from editinggod).

The first woman to head a major US orchestra has been appointed, despite opposition from musicians. Marin Alsop was confirmed as musical director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra after an overwhelming vote in favour by the board of directors. (link).

Of course, some are complaining:

Her appointment to the role of maestro in one of the world's top orchestras means she has broken through what has traditionally been a male preserve.

But it has not been without opposition from some of those who will be working under her.

When it became clear she was going to be appointed, a statement from the musicians said a "vast majority" wanted the search to continue.

But on Tuesday, the board of directors overwhelmingly affirmed her selection.

The orchestra was rehearsing at the time and received the news in silence, according to one musician.

Another, who had sat on the search committee, said their artistic expertise was being disregarded.

It never fails to surprise me how patriarchal this world is. Artistic expertise being disregarded? I certainly hope that was said because people disagree with her methods. Otherwise, that's utterly disgusting.

Bush announced nominee early to get focus off Rove

From here:

President George W. Bush's nomination of a new Supreme Court justice may give White House adviser Karl Rove a temporary reprieve from public scrutiny of his role in the disclosure of an intelligence operative's identity...

The Supreme Court announcement may freeze things, ``and that's probably a good thing for the White House,'' said Carroll Doherty, an editor at the Washington-based Pew Center.

Bush accelerated his search for a Supreme Court nominee in part because of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's name, according to Republicans familiar with administration strategy.

Bush originally had planned to announce a replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on July 26 or 27, just before his planned July 28 departure for a month-long vacation at his Crawford, Texas, ranch, said two administration officials, who spoke on the condition they not be named.

The officials said those plans changed because Rove has become a focus of Fitzgerald's interest and of news accounts about the matter.

Yup, he rushed this nomination so he could take the heat off Rove. Good strategy, but still a shady thing to do. And this Roberts guy keeps sounding worse.

When I first started to post this, I felt a little hesitant. I don't want to jump on the guy simply because he's a conservative who Bush picked. I almost always disagree with conservative politics, but I don't think they necessarily make or break a person. And labeling scares me for obvious reasons.

But evidence is quickly mounting up that if Bush picks someone, he's not the type of character you want to give power to. I'm very uncomfortable with Robert's statement:

In a 1999 radio interview, he said, "We have gotten to the point these days where we think the only way we can show we're serious about a problem is if we pass a federal law, whether it is the Violence Against Women Act or anything else. The fact of the matter is conditions are different in different states, and state laws can be more relevant." (link)

This could simply be a case of poor wording, but the implications the wording holds scares me a bit.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Judge John G. Roberts Nominated

Roberts just made mention of preserving the "institutes of our democracy."

I think we all know what this means.

Transcript of Bush's announcement and Robert's response:

Roberts said:

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you. Thank you very much. It is both an honor and very humbling to be nominated to serve on the Supreme Court.

Before I became a judge my law practice consisted largely of arguing cases before the court. That experience left me with a profound appreciation for the role of the court in our constitutional democracy, and a deep regard for the court as an institution.

I always got a lump in my throat whenever I walked up those marble steps to argue a case before the court. And I don’t think it was just from the nerves.

I am very grateful for the confidence the president has shown in nominating me. And I look forward to the next step in the process before the United States Senate.

It’s also appropriate for me to acknowledge that I would not be standing here today if it were not for the sacrifice and help of my parents, Jack and Rosemary Roberts, my three sisters, Cathy, Peggy and Barbara, and, of course, my wife, Jane. And I also want to acknowledge my children, my daughter, Josie, my son, Jack, who remind me every day why it’s so important for us to work to preserve the institutions of our democracy.

Thank you again very much.

Basic Information

NOW (National Organization for Women) has some information up.

Oh, and the HRC is getting up in arms, too.

And Dean has now said:

"It is disappointing that when President Bush had the chance to bring the country together, he instead turned to a nominee who may have impressive legal credentials, but also has sharp partisan credentials that cannot be ignored.

"Democrats take very seriously the responsibility to protect the individual rights of all Americans and are committed to ensuring that ideological judicial activists are not appointed to the Supreme Court. The Senate Judiciary Committee will now have the opportunity to see if Judge Roberts can put his partisanship aside, and live up to a Supreme Court Justice's duty to uphold the rights and freedoms of every American and the promise of equal justice for all." (link)

Rick Santorum in Bryn Mawr

Rick Santorum will be at Bryn Mawr's Barnes and Noble on August 4th at 7:30 PM for a book signing of his book It Takes a Family.

"Strapping yourself up with something..."

It's time to play Is This Excerpt From A Book Of Porn or the Statements of a Minister:

"Lesbianism is about to take over our community. … I ain’t homophobic because everybody here got something wrong with him," he said. "But … women falling down on another woman, strapping yourself up with something, it ain’t real. That thing ain’t got no feeling in it. It ain’t natural. Anytime somebody got to slap some grease on your behind and stick something in you, it’s something wrong with that. Your butt ain’t made for that. (link)

If you guessed minister, give yourself five points. Reverend Willie Wilson recently made these remarks, among others:

"Sisters making more money than brothers and it’s creating problems in families … that’s one of the reasons many of our women are becoming lesbians."


"No wonder your behind is bleeding. You can’t make no connection with a screw and another screw. The Bible says God made them male and female."

The HRC has now called on Rev. Wilson to apologize, as you can read here. They've said:

“Reverend Wilson has abandoned his truth,” said HRC Senior Diversity Organizer Donna Payne. “Just five years ago, the reverend held a service to bring the black community together over gay issues. He called for the church not to be ‘religious haters but people who know how to extend love.’ Now he’s using the pulpit to rip apart a divided community. It’s shameful.”

“This disturbing change comes at a time when the reverend is leading efforts around the Million More Movement march,” added Harry Knox, HRC’s Religion and Faith Program director. “We would welcome the opportunity to sit down with the reverend and talk about these comments and his plans for an inclusive march.”

While I agree that Rev Wilson's remarks must be addressed, I think this will be yet another thing that I just have to laugh off. "Strapping yourself up with something"? Very eloquent.

Bush to pick Supreme Court nominee soon

Word on the street (yo) is that Bush will pick his new Supreme Court nominee soon, possibly today. Of course, we heard similar news about Rehnquist's retirment, and he's still holding in there.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush is close to a decision on his first nominee to the Supreme Court and could make his announcement as early as Tuesday, Republican sources said.

The sources said Bush is leaning toward picking a woman to fill the vacancy left by retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

"The time is now," said a Republican strategist close to the White House of Bush's announcement.

I started to think about my feelings about a female judge. I'm all but certain that this person will be fairly conservative, but I feel better thinking that she might be a woman. I can't really explain this. I just know that it wasn't a woman who compared gay marriage to people having sex with dogs, and it wasn't a woman who blamed 911 on gays and feminists. And I understand that my belief that a woman would be better is unfounded. There are plenty of female conservatives - oh, and I just remembered Coulter - but I somehow safer if a woman is chosen. This could just be my own gender bias. Yet, O'Connor was a conservative judge who ended up often voting more moderately.

How does everyone else feel about this? Do you feel better about a woman judge? Do you feel that same bias that's affecting me? Or do you feel pretty nervous about the judge regardless of his or her sex or gender?

Monday, July 18, 2005

On "The Evolution of Hillary Clinton"

The New York Times Online has a fairly in-depth article on Hillary Clinton and her changing political voice. She's been growing more moderate over the past few years, and many seem to believe this could imply an imminent bid for presidency.

The article begins:

As she gears up her re-election campaign for the United States Senate, Hillary Rodham Clinton is presenting a side of herself that might have given some of her supporters great pause just a few years ago. Nothing captures this new face of Hillary Clinton better than the Web site her campaign started this week: It portrays her robust stand on national defense and her desire to reduce the number of abortions, among other positions.

In fact, in the last few months, Mrs. Clinton has repeatedly confounded the expectations of people who judged her from her White House years. She has appeared publicly with Newt Gingrich, her onetime political foe. She has called abortion a "sad, even tragic choice." She has stood fast in defense of her vote authorizing President Bush to go to war in Iraq. Over the last few weeks, she has found defenders among prominent conservative commentators who feel she was maligned in a new unauthorized biography.

I've never known what to think about Hillary Rodham Clinton. My parents are ardent Republicans, and from the first moment I saw her, I was taught that Clinton was a liar, a manipulator, and someone who would do anything for power. I regret that. I often feel like I'm behind on political issues because I was taught to simply believe, and I was never encouraged to look at political issues with an unbiased eye.

Although I proudly call myself a liberal now, I'm a firm believer that all too often Republicans and Liberals are similar people with similar goals who "use" different ideologies to reach these goals. I hardly hold power-seeking against Clinton (if indeed she is guilty of that offense), especially because I highly doubt that a man who believes he has a mandate has no interest in power. Besides, I don't necessarily think desire for power is a a negative thing; after all, that desire might imspire a person to work harder for his or her constituents.

I'll admit that I admire Clinton for her political savvy in attaching herself, in a time when it was difficult for women to rise in power, to a man who was going places. Now she has emerged from his shadow, and it's likely she's as powerful as him. I respect that. I also respect the ability to make judgements not based strictly on political party. Although, I am curious as to why she's so supportive of the war in Iraq.

However, I'd like to diverge from my point for one moment. After those first few lines (pasted at the top of this entry), the article goes on to say:

It is a striking departure from just five years ago when she was seen as a fierce Democratic partisan and a symbol of the liberal excesses of the Clinton years.

So now the economic comfort and respect the US held during the Clinton years is considered a "liberal excess"?

Anyway, I'm interested in what others thing about Hillary Clinton. Any thoughts?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Bill O'Reilly vs the BBC

Recently, Bill O'Reilly attacked the BBC for using the word "bomber" instead of "terrorist." He said he wanted the BBC News Head, Roger Mosey, to come into the Factor to debate this. Mosey declined, and O'Reilly said:

" I called Mosey. He's afraid. They told me he locked himself in the loo."

Obnoxious, but typical O'Reilly, right? I read about this a few places, and got the most indepth description of what happened from the above link, News Hounds (motto: We watch FOX so you don't have to).

Well, today I visited News Hounds again, and it appears that Mosey emailed them with the full story. Go read it.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Christianity v. Science

I like to read ultra-fundamentalist Christian sites because I cannot reconcile the fact that the Fundamentalists are so keen to dismiss the parts of science they don't like and keep the bits that they like (i.e. modern medicine, cars, ect). It bothers me a lot because I am a chemist, I work hard, and I am uncomfortable with people using things that I have worked so hard on when they don't really believe in science.

I suppose it all boils down to the fact that Science is almost its own religion. You have your dogma and your nice little stories chock full of metaphor to describe what you can't explain (like the idea of chemical bonds as neat little sticks...). To the Fundamentalists we are competition because they don't understand that we all believe in God, though in some cases it is a deist view of God. There is nothing wrong with Deism. It does circumvent the whole Jesus-as-a-son-of-God thing, but God is there. If it's Jesus they're really wanting, they need to understand that Jesus was God's PR guy; God was the scientist. God made things. He/She/It may or may not exert control over time over his/hers/its creations. It is a common belief in the back of scientists' minds that we are studying God's creations and sometimes trying to emulate his processes. We were, after all, made in God's own image, right?

This whole semi-obsession started when I read this article on The Barbados Advocate via The Raw Story. Here is the article I was linked to. The same site also had this article in response to the original one. In the original article there is a section with a broken link, which when I followed the URL led me to Answers in Genesis. AiG, as they abbreviate themselves, is a site devoted to interpreting the Bible almost totally literally and running every issue of modern times through that narrow moral sieve. They seem affiliated to a number of Creationist/Fundementalist/ect publications, including some scientific journals that support their philosophies. They have a whole slew of scientists that agree with their ideals too. Find more in their Q&A section.

Now here's what really riles me up. They have these organic chemists, like Dr. Dwain L. Ford and Dr. Royal Truman, who claim to have scientific evidence for creationism. If you look in Dr. Ford's bio, linked under his name, he makes the claim that

Chemical evolution, based on random activity of molecules, fails to adequately account for the origin of the proteins required for even the simplest known free-living organism, Mycoplasma genitalium. This bacteria has one chromosome, a cell membrane, but lacks a cell wall and has the smallest genome of any known self-replicating organism. It has 470 genes, which contain an average of 1,040 nucleotide base pairs (bp). This implies that the average size protein coded for by these genes contains about 347 amino acids. The probability of forming, by a random assembly method, one such average-size protein molecule containing the amino acid residues in a required sequence is only 1/10^451.

If the earth were made of pure carbon it would contain only about 10^50 carbon atoms, but more than 10^451 carbon atoms would be needed in order to make enough amino acids to form the proteins to achieve the probability of producing one protein molecule with the prescribed sequence. In other words, it would require an amount of carbon about 10^401 times the size of the earth in order to achieve the probability of forming one required protein molecule with the specifications above! Realizing that the probability of producing proteins by a random assembly method is exceedingly small, some have proposed that DNA was formed by chemical evolution first and then it was used to direct the synthesis of the protein. This trades one problem for another. The random assembly of a gene containing 1,040 bp to code for a specified protein would be likely to require as much or more carbon than it would to make the protein directly by a random assembly method.

What he's saying is that there isn't enough carbon hanging around to form enough random compounds to hit on the right biomolecules to make the simplest organism.

The trouble he gets into asserting this is that he's only thinking of chemistry as what has only been discovered so far as part of organic reactions. For example, organic chemistry researchers have been looking into alternative methods to do common reactions. In recent chemistry history whole new branches have been added, such as solid state chemistry (chemistry done on solids instead of aqueous or organic solutions) and even "green" chemistry where reactions are done in solvent that is then completely recycled to even no solvent at all. The other thing he doesn't seem to be taking into account is that at no point in Earth's history were any of the elements floating free, all pH's within biological limits, all temperatures mild, or anything. Young Earth, as most scientists have it, had an oxygen-rich atmosphere, water on the surface and a multitude of temperatures and pH's depending on the environment (for example, volcanic activity under water creates acids and dissolution of certain rocks and minerals can make basic solutions.) He is looking at the problem in a linear fashion instead of the big picture. When any reaction is run, even with just two reagents, unless the conditions are just right a mix (sometimes a horrific mix) of products can form. So even starting from simple reagents, huge polymers can form. In an aqueous environment, big organic molecules aggregate, or clump up. Eventually you get nice little organic pockets (though also "tar," a mix of organics that are irreparably stuck together) that have any molecule that they come in contact with. Over millions of years and exposure to all sorts of nice energy sources (even light can cause some amazing chemistry so imagine what a volcano or a lightning bolt can cause) some really amazing stuff can form.

In fact in organic teaching lab my sophomore year, we did a Freidle-Crafts alkylation (this reaction attaches a carbon chain to an aromatic molecule, in my case p-xylene, which is benzene with two methyl groups positioned opposite each other) experiment under both kinetic and thermodynamic control to demonstrate just what adding alot of energy will do. The kinetic control was kept at a mild temperature and yielded mostly the desired single alkylation. The other reaction was blasted at high heat and yielded...well...magic. It was processed through a GC/MS machine. GC/MS stands for Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer. Basically what it does is separate the sample by mass and then hit it with special particles to make the molecules break down. Each molecule has a signature breakdown pattern so you can try and figure out what you have. After analyzing my spectra, I discovered I had all of my expected products and them lots and lots of others with splitting patterns that made no sense. Like, we're talking loss of aromaticity (a very very unfavorable change if we're talking strict bond energies) and other crazy crazy rearranging tricks.

The moral of that science-heavy anecdote is that we know nothing about chemistry outside of controlled lab experiments.

Well, that was actually hyperbole. There was the Miller-Urey Experiment. Basically, in 1953, some scientists wanted to see what would happen in a similar young Earth environment. They made up the atmosphere and water with all of the right stuff in it to be a reasonable model. Then, they applied electrical current to the system analogous to the current that flowed through the atmosphere of Young Earth. What happened? Amino Acids happened. Just like that. The implications? A bad enough lightning storm or, really any kind of huge energy jolt, could have jump started life.

What's worse is that these scientists are openly hostile to "non-believing" scientists. Take this link. Someone write rebutting their position and they answer in scripture and half-answers instead of facts. I hate to be elitist, but these chemists aren't published in any journals aside from their own narrow religiously monitored ones. Not only that, but if you read their publications, they don't read terribly professionally. They are geared to emotionally manipulate. Science is based on unemotional judgement, not jerking around people with honest religious convictions. Dr. Truman seems to make a hobby of this, publishing for True.Origins here and here.

The half-answers really get to me too. Let's look at some of those half-answers.

The creationists' favorite game, even out of their own territory (they actually made it to Scientific American and offered up a decent article advocating intelligent design, though the Evolutionists actually had scientific data), is bringing up parts and mechanisms in nature "too complex" to occur by chance. Here are some Dr. Ford offers up:

Evidence for intelligent design is widespread in nature. For example:
a The motorized rotating flagellum of some bacteria.
b Blood clotting and its control.
c The high degree of organization within a typical cell.
d Cell division and its control.
e The system for protein synthesis.
f The human eye.
g The respiratory chain based in the highly organized mitochondria.
h The biosynthetic pathway in which acetyl CoA is the key compound.

You'll notice that many of these only really apply to higher organisms where they could have devoloped by normal old evolution; something doesn't work, you die before you breed. That can also explain the flagellum; one day some bacteria mutated and got a stalky thing. A couple million generations later, the stalky thing can wiggle. And so on and so forth. Cell division and organization can also be adequately reconciled if you buy into the accepted theory that advanced cells began as symbiotic colonies of all different organisms (ala Volvox). This also explains why mitochondria have genetic material. I will concede that I have no answer to the Acetyl CoA pathway. I'm not the greatest biochemist so to me enzymes are like magic little reagents. The human eye is my favorite though. Both sides have adopted it because it's complicated but highly flawed. For instance, no other animals that I know of have blind spots. Those blind spots are caused by the fact that our eyes are wired inside-out, resulting in a break in the receptors. More arguments against this "irreducible complexity," as Intelligent Design advocates call it, can be found at Talk Reason here.

Ah, I'm tired. I think that's enough. My brain is all melty.

Bisexuality: Dance, my pretties, dance!

So has an issue on bisexuality that looks fascinating as hell here. Downside: You have to sign up (or go to Bugmenot or utilize one of a dozen methods of damning the Man).

Here's what I want to know: What do y'all think? Is bisexuality actually an issue, or is this just another media overload? Do you have more links (thus probably backing the media argument)? Do you wish we'd shut the hell up about the bis already? Preach it to me.

More on "Thought Toddler Gay, Dad Kills Son"

I'm going to continue on the subject that Ion began in her last post. Sorry, Ion, I'm not trying to step on your toes. I was merely posting about this in my personal journal and I found myself with a longer entry that I wanted to share.

So. Ion linked to this news article: Thought Toddler Gay, Dad Kills Son. Here's the first few paragraphs:

A 21 year old Tampa man is charged with murder after his 3-year old son was pummeled into unconsciousness and then died.

Ronnie Paris Jr. went on trial for his own life this week in a Tampa courtroom. The toddler's mother, Nysheerah Paris, testified that her husband thought the boy might be gay and would force him to box.

Some blogs are blaming the radical Christian. AMERICAblog says:

Well, the radical right hate groups must be very proud. They preach hate and tell parents they should be ashamed and despise their gay kids and they tell kids of gay parents to be ashamed of and despise them.

Their message of hate is getting out: a Florida man is going on trial for beating to death his three year old son. He feared the little toddler was gay and insisted on "teaching" the boy to box by slapping it on the head repeatedly until the poor child vomited or peed himself. Ultimately, the child fell into a coma and died. (Thanks to threader Ms. Julien in Miami for pointing us to this.)

That's what happens when you demonize human beings and destroy families by ewncouraging parents to turn against their children.

I'm don't want to blame all Republicans (period, do not pass go, that's that) for this. I highly, highly doubt any of the real haters, that even Falwell or Bush, would actually want little kids to die. And I think it's clear that the man who killed the boy had some major problems.

However, I have to admit that John from AMERICAblog has a point. You teach hate, fear and prejudice, and people do dumb things. Those dumb things can be bashing a couple holding hands in the street, voting against allowing gays to marry, or supporting your church to speak for intolerance. In this tragic case, for a guy who's clearly nuts, doing something dumb was forcing a three year old to box.

No words...

I am horrified.

EDIT: Gene Stone, of Huffington Post, does have some words.

Here's a word from me: Criminy!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Listening and shouting: on Michael Moore and others

I know it's not very popular for the progressive left to like Michael Moore, but I have a confession to make: I do.

I understand the complaints against him. And I understand completely why someone may not like him. He is loud, he does make a nuisance of himself, and he can be biased to the point of not even wanting to consider the viewpoint of the other side. But while watching Fahrenheit 911, it struck me that no one can say he doesn't care. He cares a lot. And despite the loud-mouthedness, despite the in-your-face attitude, and despite the mask of loud, angry liberal, he seems to me to be someone who genuinely likes his country and wants to change it.

I invite you to disagree with me. I understand that many people dislike him. But I ask you to understand that I will differ with you on your opinion of him.

The strength of the right comes from their unity and their willingness to be adamant on issues. They have Santorums who will compare gay sex to men having sex with dogs, then refuse to back down, and then be supported by his backers. They have men like Cheney who will not admit that there is trouble in Iraq. They have men like Hannity who will repeat their talking points until the American public agrees without thinking. And they have supporters like Falwell who will make ridiculous assertions and refuse to backdown.

One of the reasons I support Dean so much is that he's finally daring to make assertions, and he refuses to back down. For as much as Rove will insist liberals "don't get 911," Dean will fire back that the Republican party is a party of white, Christian men. And while I believe it is necessary to have people like Kerry to compromise, and groups like the HRC to speak softly, I think it is just as important to have the people who will get in the faces of the opposite party, the American people, and their own party to shout. Edwards does well, but so does Franken. Clarke is important, but so is Barbara Boxer.

We need all kinds to fight this assault by the right. We need people to listen and be thoughtful and compromise, but we need people who will shout and refuse to backdown. The right can be nasty. Very nasty. And it's important to have people who will call them on it.

And that is why I like Michael Moore.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

More on bisexuality

DOKool once again kindly submitted a link. (And, hey, if you guys see something neat, feel free to leave a link in the comments).

From here: Bisexual women "pressured to be lesbians"

DOKool thought, and I agree, that this is interesting in relation to the NYT article that Cass posted about.

Women who are bisexual face an increasing amount of pressure to declare themselves as lesbians, according to a new study.

And bisexuals continue to feel their sexuality is a stigma, the study claims, in comparison to gay men and lesbians.

Any thoughts?

Santorum refuses to back down from remarks on Boston

Santorum's still at it. A few weeks ago he said:

"It is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political, and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm" of the clergy sexual abuse scandal."

Boston, understandably, is pretty annoyed with this. Santorum, being the bullheaded ass he is, continued his assertions:

''The basic liberal attitude in that area . . . has an impact on people's behavior," Santorum said in an interview yesterday at the Capitol.

''If you have a world view that I'm describing [about Boston] . . . that affirms alternative views of sexuality, that can lead to a lot of people taking it the wrong way," Santorum said.

and then:

''I was just saying that there's an attitude that is very open to sexual freedom that is more predominant" in Boston, Santorum said yesterday. Reminded that the sexual abuse occurred across the country, Santorum said that ''at the time [in 2002], there was an indication that there was more of a problem there" in Boston. (all quotes from here)

I don't believe this guy. That's one thing that really bothers me in this party. These people won't admit they are wrong. And it's scary to wonder if these people actually don't believe they are wrong. I think Santorum really believes what he says, just as I think Bush really believes that God chose him to be president. I don't know if this makes the situation better or worse. On one hand, at least they aren't lying - they truly believe they are right. On the other hand, how in the world can they believe they are right?!

Anyway, politicians from Massachusetts are peeved. US Representative Barney Frank said Santorum was a "jerk." And I like what Representative Martin T. Meehan said, ''There's not much you can say about someone who claims to have read the Bible cover to cover and came away from it thinking it encourages hatred for fellow human beings."