Wednesday, June 08, 2005

And Here's To You, Mrs. Robinson

Anne Bancroft

No matter how long we live, few guys who grew up in the late 60s and 70s will ever forget the impact on teenage hormones of one stockinged calf:

Her career spanned six decades, including such memorable and diverse roles as Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker (for which she won an Oscar), the Queen in Antz, and Mother Miriam Ruth in Agnes of God.

Among her scores of acting honors, in addition to the Oscar (and four subsequent nominations), she won two Tonys, two Emmys, two Golden Globes and was named Best Actress at Cannes for her 1964 role in The Pumpkin Eater.

Our deepest sympathy to Mel Brooks and family.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Quote of the Day

Civilization was the collective attempt to band together and keep ugliness at bay, but with libertarianism, objectivism and Republicanism, ugliness is god.
-PurityOfEssence, Democratic Underground

Friday, April 15, 2005

Quote of the Day

Rational political discourse is dead. I'd hold a memorial ceremony, but both sides are still dismembering the corpse.


Monday, March 28, 2005

Waiting For The Rapture , Part II

If you're in Schiavo Overload, fear not - this has nothing to do with the freak show still going on in Florida. Those poor fundie nutjobs almost have my sympathy at this point - almost.

I've read four separate stories today which outline the Christofascists' agenda for legalizing their hate; primarily - but certainly not exclusively - against GLBT folks, and I'm feeling a little nauseous right now.

Let's start in the state which The Oxycontin Kid used to deride as a Bastion of Liberalism - Wisconsin. More specifically, the U of W, Donna Shalala's old stomping grounds.
Karen Ryker is a star theater professor who wins praise for her teaching of Shakespeare's plays.

Larry Wu is a professor of sociology who generates millions of dollars in research funding. And Christine Saulnier is a talented academic administrator.

All three openly gay scholars left the University of Wisconsin for other schools in recent years, each citing the state's policy to refuse health insurance coverage for domestic partners.

Warning that UW-Madison is at a competitive disadvantage for recruiting and retaining gay faculty, Gov. Jim Doyle has asked lawmakers for $1 million over the next two years to fund domestic partner benefits for system employees.

"This demonstrates exactly why we have to offer them," Doyle told The Associated Press. "It isn't only about doing the right thing. It's also about our ability to make sure that we can recruit and attract and maintain the best faculty possible."

UW-Madison last year became the only Big Ten school that does not offer such coverage when Penn State changed its policy. But Republicans who control the Legislature said Doyle's plan faces opposition from members who say it is too costly and part of a liberal social agenda.

"I'm not looking to tailor our budgeting policy to make sure we retain left-wing social activists," said Rep. Mark Gundrum, R-New Berlin. "I'm not losing sleep over those folks choosing to go somewhere else."


The debate comes at a time when the Legislature is weighing a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would define marriage as between a man and a woman. The amendment also would prohibit the state from recognizing any legal status "identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals."

Critics say the amendment would render illegal the domestic partner benefits offered by companies and cities and erase the state's progressive image.

Gundrum said the amendment would have no effect on benefits, simply maintaining the status quo by guaranteeing a judge could not legalize gay marriage or civil unions. Approval this session could set up a statewide referendum in 2006.

Next door, in another Blue State, the Michigan Legislature has just passed the Conscientious Objector Policy Act. Sounds almost noble, doesn't it? With a name like that, you'd think that it was written to help facilitate a quick exit into Canada for potential draftees.

Not exactly. It's a bill which will allow physicians and other healthcare workers to refuse treatment to gays and others on moral or religious grounds. Let me say that again. It will allow physicians and other healthcare workers to refuse treatment to gays and others on moral or religious grounds. Not surprisingly, it's being shepherded through by the Michigan Catholic Conference. Apparently, it's okay for them to dick little boys and threaten eternal hellfire if they tell, but adults who choose to bump uglies with similarly plumbed, consenting adults deserve to die in the streets. The bill has already passed the State House and is expected to clear the Senate soon.

Another bill they just passed Wednesday "would exempt a health insurer or health facility from providing or covering a health care procedure that violated ethical, moral or religious principles reflected in their bylaws or mission statement."

From the same article:
Opponents of the bills said they're worried they would allow providers to refuse service for any reason. For example, they said an emergency medical technicians could refuse to answer a call from the residence of gay couple because they don't approve of homosexuality.

Rep. Chris Kolb (D-Ann Arbor) the first openly gay legislator in Michigan, pointed out that while the legislation prohibits racial discrimination by health care providers, it doesn't ban discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation.

"Are you telling me that a health care provider can deny me medical treatment because of my sexual orientation? I hope not," he said.

"I think it's a terrible slippery slope upon which we embark," said Rep. Jack Minore (D-Flint) before voting against the bill.

Paul A. Long, vice president for public policy for the Michigan Catholic Conference, said the bills promote the constitutional right to religious freedom.

"Individual and institutional health care providers can and should maintain their mission and their services without compromising faith-based teaching," he said in a written statement.

It seems pretty simple to me. Health care providers have an obligation to provide care to *all* members of the community. Anyone who avails him/herself of this law should have his/her license snatched on the spot. Anyone who plans to enter the field should probably give serious thought to the possibility that they may, at some time, be required to treat someone with whose lifestyle they disagree - if they can't handle it, maybe they should reevaluate their career goals.

(now, a couple links for the ladies) This most definitely applies to pharmacists, as well. A patient goes to the doctor, who diagnoses the condition and prescribes the medically necessary treatment. The pharmacist fills the prescription, as ordered by the physician. It is not a requirement of the pharmacist's job to know why a patient was given a certain drug, nor is it the pharmacist's job to second guess the physician and refuse to fill what the physician determines to be the appropriate prescription. There Is No Right Of Refusal.

And finally, the Catholics are also busy in South Dakota, where the State just enacted a law which requires women seeking abortions to sign a waiver acknowledging that the life they are ending is ''a whole, separate, unique, living human being."

Now, maybe I'm missing some nuance, but wouldn't signing a form which states that you want to end the life of "a whole, separate, unique, living human being" basically the same as confessing to premeditated murder? How can this possibly end well?

People, the shit is getting deeper by the day. These Christofascist thugs are hell-bent on turning a pretty damn good country into another Third World theocracy, and it has to stop.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Waiting For The Rapture

Lord, Lord, please let Armagedddon come soon! I don't know how much more I can take from these Fundie Asshats.

You've probably noticed that I've kept quiet on Terri Schiavo's family's ordeal... and I doubt I'll have anything to say about it until the poor woman is finally allowed to die. Unfortunately, I'm beginning to think that I'm the only person in the good ol' U S of A who hasn't weighed in yet.

We've got millionaires attempting to bribe Michael to walk away from her, possibly well-meaning nutjobs trying to... hell, do something - get arrested, get on TV - who knows? - by trying to give her water (my favorite blogger, the rude pundit, would probably insert a witty remark here about the importance of watering her once a week), even though a cup of water probably wouldn't be all that helpful, considering her inability to swallow voluntarily.

And now the High Priest of Asshats, the King of False Witnesses, Falwell has weighed in - maybe a poor choice of words - with his opinion.
"Just because there is a judge somewhere in the world who would give an estranged husband like that the time of day tells you how bad the court system is."

Estranged husband. Hmph. I suppose, given Terri's vegetative state, estrangement might be something of an understatement... Otherwise, since they were, and still are, married, one would have to call Falwell a Goddamn liar... again.

Fundies, fundies everywhere and none know how to think. These fools have completely run amok. Warning labels on science books, the Ten Commandments in courtrooms and classrooms, "Christian" separatist movements, advocating Constitutional gaybashing... lately it seems that examples of their idiotic behavior are increasing exponentially.

But this takes the fucking cake. Apparently, IMAX theaters throughout the South have opted not to show a movie about volcanos, for God's sake, out of fear of offending the Fundies.
The IMAX theater in Charleston and several others in the South have passed on showing a science film on volcanoes because of concerns it might offend those with fundamental religious beliefs.

"We've got to pick a film that's going to sell in our area. If it's not going to sell, we're not going to take it," said Lisa Buzzelli, director of the local IMAX theater. "Many people here believe in creationism, not evolution."

Buzzelli said while the Charleston theater doesn't rule out showing "Volcanoes of the Deep Sea" in the future, she considers people's religious views when showing films.

The film makes a connection between human DNA and microbes inside undersea volcanoes. Buzzelli said the handling of evolution was considered in her decision.

IMAX theaters in Texas, Georgia and the Carolinas have declined to show the film, said Pietro Serapiglia who handles distribution for Stephen Low, the film's director and producer who is from Montreal.

"I find it's only in the South," Serapiglia said.

Look, I was born and raised in the South - it's a helluva place filled with wonderful people and incredible beauty, and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

But these fucktards are ruining it for the rest of us. I've gotten into some pretty ugly pissing matches with woefully ignorant fellow Northeastern and West Coast Libs over the dumbass stereotypes of Southerners they seem to cherish - you know, the Red State Confederate Battle Flag-waving, cousin-fucking, NASCAR-loving, Bush-loving, Talibornagain bigot. Frankly, guys, this shit doesn't help.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Welcome Home, Martha

Hope y'all had as good a weekend as I did. Lots of fun family stuff, spent all day Sunday working in the yard and finally did something I've been looking forward to for the past 5 months.

Every now and then, The Light Of My Life (hereinafter referred to as TLOML) and I kick around flea markets, "interesting" little downtown shops and other assorted Outposts of Retail Hell - one of those things you do to ensure Continued Domestic Harmony®. A couple years ago we were poking around in a place that specialized in candles, potpourri and various kitchen accessories in the shapes of barnyard animals. Now, I realize that by openly acknowledging this, I run the risk of having Sir Elton and Rosie O'Donnell (ignorant cow) show up at my door to personally revoke my Homo Union Card, but I would rather have my testicles braided than spend a day being dragged through those places.

Anyway, while I was manfully enduring the aromatorture as TLOML was oohing and aahing over sundry items of overpriced crap, I came across something that


A little background: Our parents raised the four of us to be totally self-reliant, especially on the domestic front - their argument was that my brother and I shouldn't end up getting married because we were tired of TV dinners and out of clean underwear, nor should my sisters have to Rely On A Man to fix a flat or kill a spider. For the most part, it worked. C'mon over and I'll feed you better than Grandma ever did, provided you leave the white glove at home. I don't do spotless, and I sure as hell don't do Perfect. So naturally, I've never been a big Martha Stewart fan. (aha- what's that on the horizon- might we be meandering back toward the point!?)

So, there I was, praying for the sweet release of death as the cloying scent of candles, sachets, potpourri and God knows what invaded my body through every pore and orifice to the muted strains of Kenny G... when I saw it. A plain, small wooden sign, about 8x2", barrel-stave rustic, with simple white lettering which read:

Martha Stewart Does Not Live Here

That sign hung over our kitchen sink for two years... until October 8, when she began serving the prison sentence handed down in her ImClone railroading.

You probably remember enough details of the witch trial that I don't need to remind you that she was basically singled out as a target of opportunity while various Bush Cronies were given passes for committing acts of multimillion-dollar theft and fraud. I also don't need to remind you that the only charge they were able to make stick was not insider trading, but "lying to investigators." Some say that the combination of Bitch Goddess and die-hard Dem is what made her a prime target. Some also say that having wife-beaters on the jury didn't bode well for an independent, successful businesswoman. Maybe. Maybe not. Regardless of the reason(s), she got a raw deal.

Lying to investigators... does that ring any bells?

Back to Martha. In an impressive display of class - or showing just how fucking nuts she really is (you be the judge) - Stewart requested that, instead of dicking around with an interminable appeals process, she be allowed to go ahead and begin her sentence so that she could be out in time for Spring planting. After the obvious bias of the trial, that show of bravado clinched it for me: I'm now an FOM.

And that's why I was so happy Saturday morning to take my little sign out of the drawer and hang it back in its place of honor... above a sink full of dishes.

Meanwhile, Kenny Boy and the Enron bandits are still walking around free.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Why I Love The Internet , Part I

I didn't get my first PC until 1995. We tried a few different ISPs and, pursuant to The Internet Newbie Act of 1993, settled on AOL. Started out with the chatrooms, Usenet newsgroups, and forwarding tired jokes via email - you remember how it was back then.

Then we got rid of AOL, went to broadband, and eventually discovered political discussion boards and Google. Ah, happy, happy days. Of course, the lameass jokes and bullshit chain emails are still coming in, but that's why God gave us Snopes, right? And there were the occasional gems among the junk.

And that's The Message For Today. Don't think I'm breaking any new ground by pointing this out, but it bears repeating: there's some really cool shit online!

This epiphany came courtesy of a long-established site which was referenced in a religion thread on DU. The thread included a terrific parable written by Rev. Jim Huber, and is available at his website. Apparently, Rev Jim and I are in agreement on many of the shortcomings of Organized Religion and its practitioners.

Since Rev Jim is apparently a good guy and definitely not a Copyright Nazi, I'm reprinting it in its entirety. Now, I remember getting this in an email a couple years ago, and you may have, too. Fine. His site is chock full of interesting, intellectually stimulating and generally fun reading. You should definitely check it out, regardless of your religious views. I highly recommend the parable of The Physician And The Priest, and Fred Wanted To Ski.

This morning there was a knock at my door. When I answered the door I found a well groomed, nicely dressed couple. The man spoke first:

"Hi! I'm John, and this is Mary."

Hi! We're here to invite you to come kiss Hank's ass with us."

"Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who's Hank, and why would I want to kiss His ass?"

"If you kiss Hank's ass, He'll give you a million dollars; and if you don't, He'll kick the shit out of you."

"What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?"

"Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever He wants, and what He wants is to give you a million dollars, but He can't until you kiss His ass."

"That doesn't make any sense. Why..."

"Who are you to question Hank's gift? Don't you want a million dollars? Isn't it worth a little kiss on the ass?"

"Well maybe, if it's legit, but..."

"Then come kiss Hank's ass with us."

"Do you kiss Hank's ass often?"

"Oh yes, all the time..."

"And has He given you a million dollars?"

"Well no. You don't actually get the money until you leave town."

"So why don't you just leave town now?"

"You can't leave until Hank tells you to, or you don't get the money, and He kicks the shit out of you."

"Do you know anyone who kissed Hank's ass, left town, and got the million dollars?"

"My mother kissed Hank's ass for years. She left town last year, and I'm sure she got the money."

"Haven't you talked to her since then?"

"Of course not, Hank doesn't allow it."

"So what makes you think He'll actually give you the money if you've never talked to anyone who got the money?"

"Well, He gives you a little bit before you leave. Maybe you'll get a raise, maybe you'll win a small lotto, maybe you'll just find a twenty-dollar bill on the street."

"What's that got to do with Hank?"

"Hank has certain 'connections.'"

"I'm sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game."

"But it's a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don't kiss Hank's ass He'll kick the shit out of you."

"Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to Him, get the details straight from Him..."

"No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank."

"Then how do you kiss His ass?"

"Sometimes we just blow Him a kiss, and think of His ass. Other times we kiss Karl's ass, and he passes it on."

"Who's Karl?"

"A friend of ours. He's the one who taught us all about kissing Hank's ass. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times."

"And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss His ass, and that Hank would reward you?"

"Oh no! Karl has a letter he got from Hank years ago explaining the whole thing. Here's a copy; see for yourself."

From the desk of Karl

Kiss Hank's ass and He'll give you a million dollars when you leave town.
Use alcohol in moderation.
Kick the shit out of people who aren't like you.
Eat right.
Hank dictated this list Himself.
The moon is made of green cheese.
Everything Hank says is right.
Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
Don't use alcohol.
Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments.
Kiss Hank's ass or He'll kick the shit out of you.

"This appears to be written on Karl's letterhead."

"Hank didn't have any paper."

"I have a hunch that if we checked we'd find this is Karl's handwriting."

"Of course, Hank dictated it."

"I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?"

"Not now, but years ago He would talk to some people."

"I thought you said He was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the shit out of people just because they're different?"

"It's what Hank wants, and Hank's always right."

"How do you figure that?"

"Item 7 says 'Everything Hank says is right.' That's good enough for me!"

"Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up."

"No way! Item 5 says 'Hank dictated this list himself.' Besides, item 2 says 'Use alcohol in moderation,' Item 4 says 'Eat right,' and item 8 says 'Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.' Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true, too."

"But 9 says 'Don't use alcohol.' which doesn't quite go with item 2, and 6 says 'The moon is made of green cheese,' which is just plain wrong."

"There's no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you've never been to the moon, so you can't say for sure."

"Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock..."

"But they don't know if the rock came from the Earth, or from out of space, so it could just as easily be green cheese."

"I'm not really an expert, but I think the theory that the Moon was somehow 'captured' by the Earth has been discounted*. Besides, not knowing where the rock came from doesn't make it cheese."

"Ha! You just admitted that scientists make mistakes, but we know Hank is always right!"

"We do?"

"Of course we do, Item 7 says so."

"You're saying Hank's always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That's circular logic, no different than saying 'Hank's right because He says He's right.'"

"Now you're getting it! It's so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank's way of thinking."

"But...oh, never mind. What's the deal with wieners?"

She blushes.

"Wieners, in buns, no condiments. It's Hank's way. Anything else is wrong."

"What if I don't have a bun?"

"No bun, no wiener. A wiener without a bun is wrong."

"No relish? No Mustard?"

She looks positively stricken.

He's shouting. "There's no need for such language! Condiments of any kind are wrong!"

"So a big pile of sauerkraut with some wieners chopped up in it would be out of the question?"

Sticks her fingers in her ears."I am not listening to this. La la la, la la, la la la."

"That's disgusting. Only some sort of evil deviant would eat that..."

"It's good! I eat it all the time."

She faints.

He catches Mary. "Well, if I'd known you were one of those I wouldn't have wasted my time. When Hank kicks the shit out of you I'll be there, counting my money and laughing. I'll kiss Hank's ass for you, you bunless cut-wienered kraut-eater."
With this, John dragged Mary to their waiting car, and sped off.