Friday, December 31, 2010

Strawberries are blue; therefore, the capital of Lithuania is Los Angeles.

As I've mentioned, I sometimes like to visit that vast repository of insane troll logic known as the reader comments on The Washington Post's Web site. Many posters follow the pattern of making up a "fact" and using a non sequitur to jump from that "fact" to whatever conclusion they want, thereby achieving twice the certainty. While I don't hope to reach such people, at least I can amuse myself and evidently a few other people by posting nonsense like the title of this post and explaining that it is every bit as logically sound and for the same reasons.

Quote of the week

"Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual)." — Ayn Rand

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The glorious success of gun control

One of the surest ways to start an argument with orthodox queer people is to question the sanctity of gun control. Now, in The Washington Post, which is not exactly well known for its libertarian bias, we read this:
Mexico has some of the toughest gun-control laws in the world, a matter of pride for the nation's citizens. Yet Mexico is awash in weapons.

President Felipe Calderon reported this month that Mexican forces have captured more than 93,000 weapons in four years. Mexican authorities insist that 90 percent of those weapons have been smuggled from the United States. The U.S. and Mexican governments have worked together to trace 73,000 seized weapons, but both refuse to release the results of the traces.
It just goes to show something that I've been saying for a while, namely, that when guns are outlawed, outlaws can still find ways to smuggle in guns.

What the externalities say about you, or: Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.

I'll let you guess which of the following I have.

Trendy facial hair on a younger guy

What you think it says: "I am a man."

What it says: "I am barely out of puberty."

Trendy facial hair on an older man

What you think it says: "I am young at heart."

What it says: "I am having a midlife crisis and cannot afford a Porsche."

An iPhone

What you think it says: "I keep abreast of tech."

What it says: "Everything I know about tech, I learned from the general-interest media."

A BlackBerry

What you think it says: "I am so important that if I didn't keep in touch with the office 24/7, everything would fall apart."

What it says: "I am such a toadie that if I didn't keep in touch with the office 24/7, my self-definition would fall apart."

A mechanical watch

What you think it says: "I appreciate the watchmaking heritage."

What it says: "I am an Aspie."

An armband tattoo in a Celtic or barbed-wire design, plus enough piercings to form the constellation Cassiopeia

What you think it says: "I am an individualist."

What is says: "I am anything but."

A tattoo of a symbol from an Abrahamic religion

What you think it says: "I honor my religion."

What it says: "I just don't understand it very well."

A vast collection of leather and gear, immaculately maintained

What you think it says: "I take the scene seriously."

What it says: "I take the scene (and myself) entirely too seriously. Also, I have somehow come to believe that sex is a costume party."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Bears and racism (2)

Some people seem desperate to believe that the bear community is racist. For example, here we find a tortured analysis "proving" as much.

The author provides the following explanation for "[t]he whiteness of Bear culture," which, given my experience with D.C.'s bear community, I find to be screamingly question-begging. The author draws a link from bears to the teddy bear to Teddy Roosevelt to the "raced cultural dynamic that equates the return to nature with whiteness" supposedly represented by Roosevelt. That connection is so attenuated that it has snapped in two. I could use the same sort of reasoning to "prove" the following: The author has written the article in the Roman alphabet, which was originally developed for a patriarchal, slave-owning, imperialist society; therefore, the article implicitly endorses patriarchy, slavery, and imperialism.

We then read the following:
While many gay white men revel in their identification with the bear (this extends to purchasing Bear T-shirts, caps, vanity license plates, and other items of "Bearaphernalia"), men of color may be much less eager to do so, in light of historically racist comparisons between animals and people of color (Becker 1973; Plous and Williams 1995).
I guess that we are not supposed to notice either the speculation as to people's internal lives or the history of homophobic comparisons between gay men and animals, which would render the argument self-contradictory.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Quote of the week

"I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death." — George Carlin

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A suggestion (2)

You there, with the bumper sticker or vanity license plate extolling the virtues of the old home town from which you took the trouble to move here — If it's so wonderful, move back there. I suspect that the local yokels whom you so love to hate won't miss you.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The privilege card

If you want to argue but cannot be bothered to construct an actual argument, and the race and class cards don't quite seem to do the trick, you can play the privilege card. Certain groups (never individuals) have privilege, or don't, simply because you say so, and privilege-card privilege, unlike privilege in the real world, can be all or nothing, like the Heaviside step function. Also, your opponent's denial of certain privilege counts as conclusive evidence of that privilege.

But beware: People who play the privilege card hate having it played against themselves. The irony, it burns!

Help us, Big Government. You're our only hope. (2)

It's long been teaching necessary for salvation that the private sector thinks of nothing all day except new ways to discriminate against queer people and that only the government can rescue us. Yet this column in today's New York Times paints a different picture:
But in fact the exclusion of gays and lesbians from the military has been a crucial issue for the gay movement for 65 years — in part because, during the postwar decades, it served as a model for anti-homosexual discrimination throughout the government and private sector.

* * *

Eisenhower’s order also required private companies with government contracts to ferret out and discharge their homosexual employees. Numerous states took the federal government’s cue and prohibited bars and restaurants from serving homosexuals or even allowing them to gather.
Those who want to give the government power to do all good things need to consider how it has used that power.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My latest letter to the editor

... is the last one here. There is also one by William Donohue, whining about Catholic-bashing. Poor baby.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Those rotten segregated suburbs!

Everyone knows that suburbs are segregated, especially those in Virginia, while cities are bastions of racial harmony. That's just how it is, and "just how it is" never needs proof.

But look at this, from a source not generally known as biased toward saying such a thing:
William Frey of the Brookings Institution has started to mine the data, concluding that segregation is declining nationally and locally. In his analysis of the 100 largest metropolitan areas, 61 experienced declines in segregation between blacks and whites.

In Washington, Frey found that the average white person lives in a neighborhood that is 63 percent white, the average black person lives in a neighborhood that is 79 percent African American and the average Hispanic person lives in a neighborhood in which one out of four neighbors is Hispanic. That represents a small but noticeable improvement since 2000.

The District [of Columbia] exhibited the most segregation overall under a measurement called the Index of Dissimilarity or, more commonly, the segregation index. It estimates what percentage of people would have to move for races to be distributed in the same proportion in which they're represented overall in a region, with zero being the ideal and anything more than 60 considered high.

At 74 percent, the District had the fifth-highest segregation level in the nation, and Virginia had one of the lowest, 50 percent. Maryland was in between, with 65 percent.
(Emphasis added.)

I'll remember this the next time someone lectures me that people who move to suburbia must have done so to escape integration. Then again, perhaps I am being naïve in thinking that facts will matter.

Quote of the week

"Seas of blood have been shed at the frontier,
Yet still the Emperor seeks to swell his realm."

— Tang Dynasty poet Du Fu

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fabulous queer dating tip #20: It's all his fault.

If you're having an affair, make him feel paranoid for thinking that you might possibly be doing what you are in fact doing. Once the truth comes out, say that he somehow drove you to it. For instance, if you have an affair while your partner is in university, then the fault obviously lies with his choice of university, since otherwise you would never have met your new honey, right? No, I am not making that up.

Your own personal Jesus (2)

Have you ever faced the problem of wanting very badly (for some reason) to self-identify with a religion well known for its homophobia, anti-feminism, or both? There's an easy way to have your cake and eat it too. Just redefine that religion so that it matches whatever you want to believe. Who cares about the obvious intellectual dishonesty, especially if the actual definition of the religion requires acknowledgment of that religion's magisterium and adherence to theological correctness as determined by that magisterium? Who cares that you've redefined your supposed faith beyond recognition? It's how you feel that counts.

For instance, if you want to be the sort of person who is a Catholic, but you cannot be bothered actually to be a Catholic, just declare your particular belief system to be True Catholicism™. All these centuries, the people appointed (supposedly by your God) to define what Catholicism is have been getting it wrong, and we've all been waiting for you, the one authoritative source, to set the record straight. Your trendy gnosticism, eighties new-age woo, or whatever you feel like believing is True Catholicism™ because you say it is.

When people try to explain to you how egregiously you're misrepresenting your religion, they will soon realize that arguing with you about it is like trying to nail oatmeal to the wall. Once they have given up trying to talk sense into you, you can declare victory.

Religious right or P.C. left? Quote 11

In this series of blog posts, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read each quote and guess, before doing a Web search, whether someone in the religious right or the politically correct left said it.

11.
It occurs to me that in the “beauty” industry, being a faggot is its own credential. A faggot with no schooling, training, or experience, can assume a role in that field just by virtue of his homosexuality. I’m sure we can all think of instances where this is the case.

Stuff gay men supposedly like: 14. The Logo channel

Yeah, 'cause what gay man wouldn't want to watch 48 hours straight of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? I've heard people refer to Logo viewers by such terms as "all six of them," and I'm not sure I disagree.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

When the guardians of moral purity outfox themselves (2)

In discussing two flaps over the work of David Wojnarowicz, in 1990 and regarding the National Portrait Gallery Today, New York Times art critic Holland Cotter writes:
One big change from 1990, however, is the nearly universal presence of the Internet. Word of the self-censorship instantly spread, and the video itself, titled “A Fire in My Belly,” went viral, turning up on a number of Web sites, including YouTube. Untold numbers of people could now see something that, without the publicity generated by the dispute, they never would have known existed.
Yes and no. It's undeniably true that the ubiquity of the Internet doesn't help the guardians of right-wing political correctness, and it's also undeniably true that they deserve the credit for making Mr. Wojnarowicz's name a household word. On the other hand, such epic self-pwnage didn't start in the Internet age; bishops railing against Sarah Bernhardt gave her invaluable publicity.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Quote of the week

"The Apocalypse is truly on us when reality outruns the most outrageous satire." — Steve Dutch

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Today's vocabulary word: traditional

traditional, adj. in accordance with the way things were done in America in the fifties, or at least the way television tells us things were done in America in the fifties: If we don't defend traditional marriage, then we're headed down the slippery slope to allowing polygamy and concubinage.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Another bubble? Who'd ha' thunk it?

According to The New York Times, people are "beginning to wonder" whether Silicon Valley isn't experiencing another bubble. How can people only now be beginning to wonder that? I can understand (but consider it regrettable) that many people have never heard of Dutch tulip mania, but how can they not know about the late nineties?

Stuff gay men supposedly like: 13. The A-List: New York

As far as I can tell, gay men fall into three categories: (i) those who pretend never to have heard of this show, (ii) those who have genuinely never heard of it, and (iii) those who complain to high heaven about how dreadful it is. Still, I guess Logo needs some additional programming to prove that it doesn't show the same thing 24/7 (once 8 Femmes, then RuPaul's Drag Race, and now Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Religious right or P.C. left? Quote 10

In this series of blog posts, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read each quote and guess, before doing a Web search, whether someone in the religious right or the politically correct left said it.

10.
I’ve heard faggots and fag hags alike insinuate that a faggot’s asshole is just like a woman’s vagina (since they’re both being penetrated by penises of course...).

A picture that's worth a thousand political columns

This one perfectly sums up relations between Democrats and queer voters, as well as between Republicans and people who actually care about limited government:

Quote of the week

[What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?] "Remember it is not about you." — Bishop Rainey Cheeks

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

But it's not political correctness when I do it!

It's a good thing we have politically incorrect conservative stalwarts like Catholic League president William Donohue to protect us from the politically correct menace. Otherwise, the politically correct whiners, appointing themselves to be the thought police, would censor art that violates their supposed right not to be offended and would even call such art "hate speech." On second thought, given the recent flap over an exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, maybe he isn't the best example.

Also, you'd think that the guardians of conservative political correctness (not that there's any such thing, of course) would have learned by now not to give free publicity to what they oppose. They have given huge boosts to the popularity of works by Robert Mapplethorpe and Chris Ofili, among others.

Finally, the Transformer Gallery has announced that it will show the offending piece. To me this indicates that preserving freedom of expression involves less government management of the arts, not more.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Today's vocabulary word: volunteer

volunteer, v.t. Contrary to what some people may say, this is actually a transitive verb, as in I've volunteered you to do such-and-such task as opposed to *I've volunteered to do such-and-such task.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Religious right or P.C. left? Quote 9

In this series of blog posts, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read each quote and guess, before doing a Web search, whether someone in the religious right or the politically correct left said it.

9.
Pornography degrades women. It also coarsens men. I don't need to prove that, because we all know it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Quote of the week

"There is a difference between seeking the improvement of human behavior and declaring war on human nature. In that conflict, human nature is likely to win." — Michael Gerson

Cardinal on marriage: No one has the right to do what now?

Francis Cardinal George, Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, argues that "no one has the right to change the nature of marriage" and that "[m]arriage is what it is and always has been...." Really? We can add the Cardinal to the ever-growing list of people who want the rest of us to follow a holy book that they themselves ignore.

Magnet schools

Proponents of the "Harrison Bergeron" model of education are complaining that a local science magnet school is non-diverse, since African-Americans and Latinos are underrepresented. Nonetheless, European-Americans are also underrepresented, and one particular community of color — Asian-Americans — makes up 46% of the student body. In that case, what definition of "diversity" are people using? After all, a magnet school like that has to be the least effective tool of white supremacy ever.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stuff gay men supposedly like: 12. Referring to one another using feminine pronouns

Yes, that's what we all do, while listening to Minnie Ripperton on the eight-track players of our AMC Gremlins on our way to macramé class. Do you think you could use some stereotypes from this millennium? Not all of us miss what it was like to be gay in the seventies.

Today's vocabulary word: consequence

consequence, n. an effect, result, or outcome of something occurring earlier. A particularly important form of consequence is called an unintended consequence, although that happens only in response to other people's actions, not ours.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Today's vocabulary word: gentrification

gentrification, n. what those other people do to the neighborhood that I discovered before it was cool and worked to upgrade; certainly nothing that I would ever do myself

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Religious right or P.C. left? Quote 8

In this series of blog posts, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read each quote and guess, before doing a Web search, whether someone in the religious right or the politically correct left said it.

8.
As for the BDSM community, I’m sure I don’t have to explain the problem with people who get off on beating the shit out of and/or psychologically dominating each other.

Stuff gay men supposedly like: 11. Dupont Circle

The closing of Lambda Rising made official what people had long known unofficially: Dupont Circle is now only nominally D.C.'s gayborhood. The local queer population has been moving eastward, or out to the suburbs, at least since the eighties. LGBT-oriented stores have also moved eastward, leaving Dupont Circle increasingly dominated by chain stores. Thus, Dupont Circle increasingly combines the gayborhood feel and urbane sophistication of Tysons Corner with the cleanliness, safety, and easy parking of downtown D.C.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Reality is negotiable. Dogma isn't.

It often amazes me what strong reality-deflector shields some people have. One, when someone was decrying the evils of gay adoption, I asked whether she knew of the studies that directly contradicted her assertions. She responded that yes, she did. No "but," no "therefore," not even a token attempt to dismiss the studies' credibility — she acknowledged the reality but chose to believe the exact opposite anyway.

I wish I could believe that such a person was an isolated exception, but I have no reason to believe that. Many people have a much stronger need to believe than to know, and their beliefs can withstand any amount of evidence or logic. All one can do is to present one's arguments so that at least third parties will see who has an argument and who simply believes with perfect faith in belief with perfect faith.

Quote of the week

‘You mean,’ Captain Penderton said, ‘that any fulfillment obtained at the expense of normalcy is wrong, and should not be allowed to bring happiness. In short, it is better, because it is morally honorable, for the square peg to keep scraping about the round hole rather than to discover and use the unorthodox square that would fit it?’

‘Why, you put it exactly right,’ the Major said. ‘Don’t you agree with me?’

- Carson McCullers, Reflections in a Golden Eye

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fabulous queer dating tip #19: The two shall become one, and you are that one.

Faithfully adhere to the self-evident truth that the relationship is always all about you, you, you. Tell everyone on your boyfriend's behalf what he thinks, wants, and does. Heck, tell him. Of course, it always coincides perfectly with what's convenient for you.

Naturally, he cannot possibly have any goal in life loftier than pleasing you, so be sure to extract concessions from him in terms of his career and (if he's still young enough) his education. Once those concessions become irremediable, you can think about dumping him for someone even more compliant.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

First-Friday gallery openings

Many towns have regular evenings — First Friday, Third Thursday, Miscellaneous Mondays — when art galleries stay open late. In Dupont Circle's gallery scene, this event tends to turn into a dating scene for people who wish to appear sophisticated. Yet it's hard to appear sophisticated when you simply elbow your way to the back to get some wine and then stand around talking with your back to the art. The artists are often happy to talk to me simply because I actually pay at least as much attention to the art as to socializing.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Religious right or P.C. left? Quote 7

In this series of blog posts, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read each quote and guess, before doing a Web search, whether someone in the religious right or the politically correct left said it.

7.
[C]ertain queer people seem to think gender is some sort of choice about expressing themselves and/or how they want to be treated by society. Sometimes the phrase “gender identity” is used to express this idea, when in fact gender identity is a term used in the social sciences to refer to one’s awareness of the gender role one is expected to fill. In short, there is no choice about it. It is not some facet of someone’s being or personality or a choice of style.... They are muddying this important issue with their self-indulgent nonsense.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

How to argue when you can't be bothered to construct an argument

Just use those old standbys, the race card and the sex card. Here we see someone calling a lesbian of color (as one could have easily guessed from her blog) an "arrogant white queen." And here, a Conservapedian tries to discredit atheism and evolution by playing the race and sex cards. No, you may not ask how doing so proves either theism or creationism, nor may you point out the irony.

So now what?

If Obama didn't deliver on all of his promises to the LGBT community, he cannot realistically blame a lack of opportunity. Opportunity knocked, and on some issues, such as marriage and DADT, it even broke down the front door. If he either could not or, more likely, would not deliver then, what now?

Quote of the week

"It's easy to forget, in front of a cheering partisan crowd, that your base is not the country. Democrats forgot that and lost the House for it. The tea-party movement needs to learn from both their wins and their losses." - The Economist

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I did my civic duty this morning.

I sometimes wonder why I bother voting, since elections where I live tend to combine the pomp and circumstance of a Chicago back room with the edge-of-your seat suspense of a coronation. According to FiveThirtyEight, my Congresscritter has a 99.89% chance of reelection. Still, I got to vote against some state constitutional amendments that would increase the power of the state government or give special privileges to certain politically popular groups.

Today's vocabulary word: justice

justice, n. a contraction of "just us": We demand basic justice for ourselves, but you're welcome to continue oppressing those other people for all we care.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Stuff gay men supposedly like: 10. Emotional detachment

We all know that gay men have perfectly self-contained emotional lives, free from the emotional neediness affecting other human beings and the ensuing drama.

And the earth is flat.

Meanwhile, back in real life, many gay men have an alarming tendency to become emotional limpets. If you commit the sin of helpfulness or simple politeness, you may end up adding to your collection of stalkers.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Today's vocabulary word: hostile

hostile, adj. imperfectly adulatory: Why must you be so hostile toward us (politically correct people, conservative Christians, whomever)?

Quote of the week

"[P]overty is only picturesque to those who can easily escape it." - Ross Wetzsteon, Republic of Dreams: Greenwich Village: The American Bohemia, 1910-1960

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fundamentalists of big government (3)

In today's letters to the editor of The New York Times, we see yet again the tired old cry for bigger government because of the "spectacularly ill informed" belief that "markets are rational." That argument attacks a straw man, since it is not libertarians who think that we can legislate utopia into existence. Moreover, it ignores the paradox of democratic statism that I have noted in other fora, namely, that the same people who are too stupid to run their own lives are at the same time brilliant enough to go to the polls and make the right choices for the rest of us.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hypersensitive whiners, don't read this.

You personally suck. Your religious and political views are based on arrogance and narcissism, and only a brain-damaged five-year-old could possibly agree with you. Everything that you enjoy sexually is an abomination unto the Invisible Pink Unicorn and makes you the moral equivalent of people who molest dead puppies (but not, of course, of whatever oppressed minority I happen to like).

I get to say all of the above to you; it's just my freedom of speech. But if you ever dare to say anything imperfectly adulatory of me, I will scream, "Persecution!" and then curl up into a little ball of self-pity.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NPR

In light of the flap over Juan Williams, people are calling for an end to government funding for NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. I would believe in ending such government funding even if NPR agreed with me on everything. I do not see why taxpayers should be made to subsidize radio, particularly NPR, since subsidies for NPR redistribute wealth to the already wealthy. At least we do not fund broadcasting through the same sharply regressive taxation used in some other countries.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

How to change the culture, and how not to do so

This article in today's New York Times Magazine compares and contrasts the hugely successful effort to abolish foot-binding in China with the largely failed attempt to eradicate female genital mutilation in Africa. Queer and HIV activists would do well to heed the lessons learned.

Missionaries seeking to end foot-binding in China operated within a framework of respect for Chinese culture and cooperation with the Qing Dynasty's opinion makers; they succeeded in eliminating foot-binding within a generation. By contrast, those seeking to end female genital mutilation in Africa have often taken the attitude of "We're going to tell you how it is" and have been greeted with cries of cultural imperialism. The article concludes,
First, begin with a dialogue of mutual respect, free of self-congratulation. Second, when you have a core of converts, organize a program of public commitment to new practices, which takes into account the traditions of the community. To end one practice, as the anti-foot-binding campaigners grasped, you need to start another.
I believe that our own activists can draw the following lessons. First, activists attempting to engage the Christian community have often operated from a combination of contempt for Christians and willful ignorance about what Christians actually believe. Two particularly frustrating examples were the HIV activist who dropped the Eucharist on the floor of the cathedral and the compatriot who defended him because the Eucharist somehow represented the cardinal rather than Christ. Christians have responded by circling the wagons. That is not Christian nature, but human nature.

Second, attempts to educate men who have sex with men on the dangers of barebacking and meth abuse have often proceeded from a condescending attitude toward the target audience. Too often, those discussing the matter have come across as joyless puritans rebuking gay men for some sort of moral failure peculiar to gay men. Then those puritans wonder why they are not getting their point across.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Quote of the week

"Is life not a hundred times too short for us to stifle ourselves." - Friedrich Nietzsche

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Be careful what you wish for.

This columnist argues for "sane restrictions on freedom of speech" in order to "mute extremist cacophony." Such restrictions would prove disastrous for his own freedom of speech.

He points out that the American media do not always deal in rational discourse, and on that point, he will get no argument from me. Nonetheless, he then draws the following conclusion:
So, I’m OK if the Supreme Court says that the First Amendment does not protect harassing military funerals. And I wouldn’t lose sleep if it had said that bans on burning the American flags are fine. That’s not because I hate some abstract notion of liberty, it’s because not one of these sensible restrictions would hinder our democracy. Instead, they would promote a less hysterical, more rational national discourse.
The author evidently loses sight of the issue raised by his own topic, which is not whether rational discourse is a good thing or a bad thing, but whether we can trust government to be the gatekeeper.

Would a rule that any positive mention of homosexuality is per se obscene be “sane” and “sensible”? Would it “hinder our democracy”? Until 1958, the United States Government would have answered the former question in the affirmative and the latter question in the negative. Therefore, the publication in which he rails against free speech would never have seen the light of day.

There's no arguing with some people.

Let's play Politically Correct Bingo!

It's like Bullshit Bingo, except, well, more P.C.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

High-fructose corn syrup: Curse of the free market?

The current talk about sugar sodas and other junk foods typically turns to high-fructose corn syrup and thence to the evils of the free market, which has supposedly cursed us with that syrup. A closer examination, however, shows another invisible hand at work, namely, the unintended consequences of government interference in the market.

HFCS has become less expensive than sucrose, and therefore more widely used, because of subsidies for corn plus a combination of price supports, production quotas, and import tariffs for sucrose. Thus, the government subsidizes HFCS while pushing the price of sucrose in the United States to levels far above the world price. Yet some people clamor for government intervention. The government gave, and people want the government to take away; blessed be the name of the government.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Today's vocabulary word: fornication

fornication, n. 1. sex without a license. 2. a translation of the New Testament Greek word πορνεία (porneía), which has whatever meaning suits the purpose of any given Christian in any given situation.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? No time soon!

In response to the Obackstabber administration's action on DADT, Joe Solmonese, no doubt wearing a tasteful yet elegant Dolce & Gabbana ensemble, had this to say:
“It is certainly disappointing and frustrating that the administration has sought a stay. There is one simple way to put the endless legal wrangling behind us and do what the President and the American people want to strengthen our military: the administration and Congress need to finish the legislative work on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal after the election. The interests of the administration, the military, and most importantly the American people are best served by doing the hard work of enacting a durable legislative repeal of this discriminatory law.”
Joe, public displays of masochism are for the back porch of the Eagle, not the political arena.

Today's vocabulary word: logical

logical, adj. conforming to what I want to believe, regardless of what actual logic says. Syn.: rational.

(An aside: Don't tell us how logical or rational you are; let us figure it out for ourselves.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Religious right or P.C. left? Quote 6

In this series of blog posts, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read each quote and guess, before doing a Web search, whether someone in the religious right or the politically correct left said it.

6.
There are only two ways you can have an amicable on-line relationship with trannies (males who believe their delusions are reality).

* * *

Second way: 100% Submission. Whatever they say, you must agree with each and every word 100%. You cannot even quibble about grammar. Your agreement has to be 100% and it has to be convincing and flattering.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thanks again, Fierce-Advocate-in-Chief (2).

The Department of Justice has announced that it plans to appeal the ruling striking down "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." In other fora, I've pointed out that notwithstanding an urban legend to the contrary, the DOJ is under no Constitutional or legal obligation to appeal and in fact has previously declined to appeal rulings striking down federal laws. The Obamapologists have responded with that all-purpose scathing rebuttal, "La la la la la, I can't hear you."

Once, I even asked politely (well, politely for me) for a blue-book citation to whatever legal principle says that the DOJ must appeal. I still got no takers.

Quote of the week

"Mr. Obama kept his promise, he offered hope and that is all you got." - fern501, Brussels, Belgium

Thanks again, Fierce-Advocate-in-Chief.

The Justice Department has appealed court rulings striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, and it may well do so on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The spin is that the Justice Department is required to appeal court rulings adverse to the U.S. Government. There's just one slight problem: No, it isn't required to do so. It has not always done so, and it has not even always done so under the Obama administration.

Stuff gay men supposedly like: 8 and 9. Being incredibly picky and having sex with whatever moves

No, you may not ask how both of those things can be true. It is vitally important to believe all media stereotypes about gay men, even those that directly contradict one another.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Carl Paladino does Gay Pride Day.

I'll grant that Gay Pride Day doesn't always offer the same level of wholesome family entertainment as, say, bestiality porn, but Carl Paladino has gone off of the deep end. Mr. Paladino is the latest conservative Christian Republican to "stumble on" a pride parade and be shocked, shocked, at what he sees there.

First, how does one stumble on a pride parade? I grant that Toronto may be different from any of the cities in which I have participated in such parades, but in my experience, the parade sites are a royal pain to get to. That alone makes me want to call bullshit.

Second, he seems to have paid an awful lot attention to the antics of the Speedo-wearers. I love how these bastions of morality pay far more attention to gay male sexuality than does any gay man I know.

His defenders in the comments section are equally loopy. Their Bible-based defense of his position on homosexuality takes cherry-picking to new depths. What does the Bible say about adultery? Don't tell me what your pastor says about the spirit of Christ's message; only a direct quotation from the King James Bible will do. Also, what would Jesus do if someone forwarded bestiality porn to him?

The two minutes' hate against Best Buy and Target

The HRC's 2011 Corporate Equality Index has downgraded Best Buy and Target, those companies that we love to hate, from 100 all the way down to an abysmal 85. Would that the politicians whom we worship did nearly as well as some of the corporations that we demonize. While we hold the private sector to impossibly high standards of ideological purity, we will make as many excuses for the anointed politicians as they need.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The latest transmission from The Blade to earth (3)

The article that I cited in the last post begins,
The milestone that all gay men dread is upon me. I turn 40 on Monday, National Coming Out Day.
To me, however, “[t]he milestone that all gay men dread” was a non-event. I guess I must be something other than a gay man. Once the keepers of the orthodoxy let me know what exactly that is, I'll fill you in.

It's the culture, stupid. (2)

In discussing the recent suicides among gay youth, Kevin Naff writes:
We focus so much on our legislative battles that we sometimes forget about the battles still happening on the playground.
This point bears emphasis. At least as long as I have been out, queer activists have treated government, particularly the federal government, as a genie capable of granting any wish. Yet not all wishes can come true through an Act of Congress, and every time we downplay or ignore the importance of working for cultural change, we make another unnecessary concession to social conservatives.

Nonetheless, he writes:
What’s been the point of all these years spent informing and educating readers on these pages if kids are still killing themselves?
The key words, I believe, are "on these pages." A teenage boy coming to terms with his sexuality in Baptistville, Texas, may never have heard of The Washington Blade; therefore, we must take our message to the mainstream culture. While it is not always easy, we must do it anyway.

Quote of the week

"And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." - Anaïs Nin

Outlawing versus not subsidizing

The Mayor of New York has sought federal permission to bar food-stamp recipients from using food stamps to buy sugar sodas. Commenters are up in arms, accusing the mayor of trying to impose his will on poor people. While I do not care to have the nanny state micromanage people's lives, I do understand the distinction between outlawing something and simply no longer subsidizing it. That fact that so many commenters do not is alarming.

Today's vocabulary words: give and take

give, v.t. to take less

take, v.t. to give less

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tea Partiers: I am shocked, shocked!

A poll shows that the Tea Party, despite its depiction in the media as libertarian, is actually disproportionately Christian conservative and supportive of socially statist positions. Then again, not all of us thought that the "Obama, keep your socialist big-government hands off of my Social Security and Medicare" crowd would be anywhere close to being consistently libertarian.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Stuff gay men supposedly like: 7. All the same type

Everyone "knows" that all gay men are attracted to a single universal type, which is ... um .... What is today? Monday? Then the media assure us that we all like blond twinks with shaved chests and perpetual three-day beards. It changes at midnight EDT, whenever press time is, or whenever you've successfully adopted that look, whichever is earliest.

Where I live, many gay men go to the leather bar, even if they want nothing to do with leather beyond belts and shoes, simply to avoid the type that everyone "knows" all gay men want.

Evangelical Protestants and divorce

A few more thoughtful Christians are waking up to the hypocrisy of demanding action on homosexuality while winking at divorce, which the Bible also condemns. Nonetheless, in my experience, rank-and-file Christians largely refuse to recognize their doublethink and show little interest in walking the talk.

When I raise the issue of divorce, Catholics either change the subject or scream that they are being persecuted. Non-Catholic Christians creatively rewrite the Bible passages on divorce until they bear no resemblance to the words on paper, or even deny Biblical inerrancy on the matter. Of course, one must never do the same on homosexuality.

This perfectly illustrates the first rule of religion: The Word of God, correctly interpreted, always backs up whatever the person interpreting it wanted to believe anyway. A corollary of the first rule of religion is that rules are for other people. As for how they can get away with it, the second rule of religion holds that believers are saved by the blood of Jesus (or their deity of choice) from ever having the burden of proof.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Quote of the week

“When the government's boot is on your throat, whether it is a left boot or a right boot is of no consequence” - Gary Lloyd

Religious right or P.C. left? Quotes 4 and 5

In this series of blog posts, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read each quote and guess, before doing a Web search, whether someone in the religious right or the politically correct left said it.

4.
Not only is she [Britney Spears] sending a dangerous message about sexuality to girls, but I think she’s setting the feminist movement back a bit, too, because she’s saying that sexuality is the core of our identity.
5.
I think that this show [Sex and the City] is very dangerous, especially to the women’s movement. It’s no wonder people call it ‘Sluts in the City’ because it teaches young women to be whores, basically, to be used by men, to bed hop.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The innocent have nothing to hide.

Since this post, I've seen the light. The government should have an expanded ability to get the plain text of Internet communications. The innocent have nothing to hide.

While we're at it, let's place a surveillance device (the name "Telescreen" comes to mind) into every room of every residence, or just build all residences out of glass. The innocent have nothing to hide.

All correspondence must be public. If you have something to say to someone, say it on a bulletin board (physical or electronic). The innocent have nothing to hide.

We should copy whatever surveillance techniques the Warsaw Pact countries used. The innocent have nothing to hide.

Let's repeal the 4th-6th Amendments. The innocent have nothing to hide.

Stuff gay men supposedly like: 6. Forthrightness

I've heard people outside of the gay male community express frustration with their dating scene by saying that it could use a little gay male forthrightness. So could we. Our dating rituals tend to be more stylized than kabuki. Heaven forbid anyone should ever say what he means.

Monday, September 27, 2010

President Barack H. Bush

I thought we were supposed to vote for Democrats to protect ourselves from this sort of thing. The Obama administration is seeking to expand the security state in a manner of which Dubya would be proud. For that matter, even the rulers of those famously freedom-loving countries, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, would be proud.

Today's vocabulary word: deficit

deficit, n. the amount by which current government spending exceeds current government revenues. Deficits run by that other party will destroy the country, while deficits run by our party are harmless or even beneficial. No, you may not ask how that is supposed to work.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

More on HIV

A study by the CDC purports to show that 19% of men who have sex with men in major cities are infected with HIV. While I have commented before on the difficulty of such studies, we should still be alarmed over the spread of HIV.

While we need education on how to avoid HIV exposure, this is a perfect example of the basic truth that "necessary" does not mean "necessary and sufficient." People know the dangers of barebacking -- just as we know the dangers of smoking, not eating enough vegetables, eating too much of everything else, and texting while driving -- and yet many people do all of those things anyway. Instead of just scolding people, and therefore being tuned out, HIV educators should address the reasons why people bareback.

Also, we should look to privately funded solutions. Since the Reagan administration, government funding on HIV prevention has shortchanged men who have sex with men. We must ensure that HIV education is evidence-based rather than conservative-P.C.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Today's vocabulary word: lol

lol or LOL, interj. Internet slang that can safely be translated as "I am an idiot." Emphatic forms such as lololol, meaning "I am a great big idiot," are sometimes used.

How to read the Bible (3)

So the Bible says that slavery is acceptable but regulated? You cannot make any sense of Scripture without taking into account the historical context.

So the Bible says that the earth is on pillars and cannot be moved? That is obviously poetic language.

So the Bible says that insects have four legs? You're an anti-Semite for even bringing that up.

So the Bible says gives God the credit for David's harem and even provides an inheritance rule for polygamous families? Just because the Bible says that polygamy happened, that doesn't mean that God approves.

So the Bible says that the Rapture was going to happen in the first century? You need to interpret that correctly.

So the Bible sets forth two creation stories that contradict both each other and modern science? Those stories are allegories that you cannot understand without a thorough knowledge of Biblical Hebrew.

So the Bible says that rape victims may be forced to marry their rapists or sometimes must even be stoned to death? That was an old ceremonial rule that was nailed to the Cross.

So the Bible says that women must remain silent in church? That was meant for a specific situation in the church back then.

So the Bible teaches faith healing? You have to remember the doctrine of cessationism.

So the Bible says that sex between men is an abomination? The Word of God is the Word of God, and it says what it says.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Religious right or P.C. left? Quote 3

In this series of blog posts, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read each quote and guess, before doing a Web search, whether someone in the religious right or the politically correct left said it.

3.
Gay men engaged in consensual mass murder “the AIDS epidemic” and could care less about the results. Their entire urban culture have become one vulgar sexual scene. Where once the guys talked about liberation, now you see signs all over the place in West Hollywood talking about the dangers of meth addiction.

Don't ask, don't tell, don't feel any shame.

Until the recent vote on DADT, the standard socially conservative excuse for opposing LGBT rights was an appeal to democracy. Now, when confronted with the fact that a majority of Americans favor repealing DADT, I hear social conservatives say that America is a republic, not a democracy, and even that democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner. It must be nice to have had your sense of shame surgically removed.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quote of the week

"The Washington-based gay rights groups made a decision early on that they were better off going along with the president's timeline and that right now that looks like a serious miscalculation." - Richard Soccarides, quoted in The Washington Post

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Orwell would be taking notes.

Social conservatives in Iowa are complaining that if the state supreme court can engage in "judical activism" by applying equal protection to the state's marriage laws, then it can take away gun rights and property rights. So by protecting constitutional rights, the court is preparing to take away constitutional rights? Then it's true: Freedom really is slavery.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The self-appointed spokespersons for queerdom

It appears from an email that I've received today that the National Stonewall Democrats speak for me, whether I like it or not. The email trumpets the National Stonewall Democrats' endorsement of One Nation, Working Together. The latter organization supports a fairly predictable laundry list of liberal causes, some of which I support, but others of which I do not.

The email includes the following:
You spoke and said we need to stand together as One Nation.
I did? It continues:
The LGBTQ community values align with the values of One Nation:
Who is this LGBTQ community, and who gets to decide what its values are? If we form some sort of hive mind, I have somehow been left out. When I was involved in mainstream LGBT organizations, the people in charge responded to my feedback with an attitude of "Sit down, shut up, and let us do your thinking for you." So much for diversity, inclusivity, and consensus-building.

Stuff gay men supposedly like: 5. Opera

This was once true, and opera and queer sensibility share an over-the-top emotionalism. Nonetheless, it's difficult to imagine the current crop of twinks spending hours listening to music not spun by this month's superstar DJ. The opera house where I live attracts a straighter-than-straight audience, and there might be a reason.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Today's vocabulary word: ruler

ruler, n, a device for measuring length. The fact that a ruler is typically marked in inches along one edge and in centimeters along the opposite edge causes confusion among people composing personal ads.

Religious right or P.C. left? Quotes 1 and 2

In this new series of blog posts, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read each quote and guess, before doing a Web search, whether someone in the religious right or the politically correct left said it.

1.
When male sexuality is not controlled, the consequences are considerably more destructive than when female sexuality is not controlled. Men rape. Women do not. Men, not women, engage in fetishes. Men are more frequently consumed by their sex drive, and wander from sex partner to sex partner. Men, not women, are sexually sadistic.
2.
Manipulating and calculating mentally ill males who set themselves up as women will use their positions to make life of any female in association with their love interest a living hell. Yes, these males are mentally ill. The desire to mutilate your body is a mental illness.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Today's vocabulary word: stereotype

stereotype, n. a monstrous slur when it's about me, but the definitive statement of truth when it's about someone else

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Quote of the week

"I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires." — Susan B. Anthony

Some certainties in life

  • Death
  • Taxes
  • True believers who have never read their own holy book
  • Apostates who have
  • That guy who looks drop-dead butch until the first time he either walks or talks
  • Tourists who think that traffic laws are only for locals
  • Road closures in D.C. for any reason or no reason
  • People who "know" your inner life better than you do
  • An item that goes on sale right after you buy it
  • A special that applies to everything except what you want to buy

The backlash against the backlash

In response to the Tea Partiers' calls for smaller, less intrusive government (and the matter of how many Tea Parters are genuine libertarians is a matter for a different rant), old-school liberals are circling the wagons and praising big government. I am not sure that we should uncritically join in.

For those seeking personal individual liberty, including LGBT people and women seeking greater reproductive autonomy, big government has traditionally been our enemy far more often than it has been our friend. A government powerful enough to give you what you want is powerful enough to take from you what you have, and history shows that such a government will unhesitatingly do so.

Nor will it do to believe in only those individual liberties that we ourselves want to exercise. I have heard progressives argue for their own rights and then dismiss others' rights with comments like "There are no objective rights" and "That's the sort of thing that the government decides for all of us." Such hypocrisy can only help their opponents' cause.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Today's vocabulary word: Judeo-Christian

Judeo-Christian or Judaeo-Christian, adj. relating to the religion of the Mayor of Dallas-Fort Worth, who drives a Lincoln-Mercury.

For some reason, this term offends those who take their religion seriously and don't just use it to back up their secular political beliefs.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Stuff gay men supposedly like: 4. An aversion to sports

As someone who lives in a metropolitan area with both a gay sports bar and a leather bar that effectively becomes a gay sports bar whenever da gaaaaame is on, I beg to differ. Also, Andrew Christian* evidently has a market somewhere.

*Do not do a Web search for that name from work, unless of course you work at the American Institute for Twink Studies.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Quote of the week

“Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.” - James Bovard

Welcome to Alexandria. Now pay up.

It's not just D.C. anymore. Small-business owners in Alexandria are complaining that increased parking rates and aggressive parking enforcement are driving away customers.

Explain to me again how government at all levels gets to pick people's pockets as much as it likes because doing so won't affect people's economic behavior. Also, we keep hearing of the need to stimulate consumer spending; is this the best way to do so? On second thought, I'm sure that Alexandria's policies will do wonders to stimulate consumer spending in Arlington and Fairfax counties.

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" declared unconstitutional

A federal judge has declared "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" unconstitutional on the ground that it denies LGBT soldiers substantive due process and freedom of speech. With regard to freedom of speech, some of us saw that coming a while ago. Also, thanks for nothing, Fierce-Advocate-in-Chief.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fluffy-bunny Christians, but not of the left (2)

I've written about those who cherry-pick just enough Christianity to back their secular agenda. Since then, this article has come out, saying:
What passes for American Christianity today is increasingly counterfeit. It appears more focused on a transient earthly kingdom, rather than a heavenly eternal kingdom.
Yet again, people want to hold the rest of us accountable to a body of doctrine that they themselves only play-act at following.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Stuff gay men supposedly like: 3. Ruffly, blousy shirts

This stereotype has been dated to the 19th century and believed with perfect faith ever since, but rumor has it that this is the 21st century. For one thing, how would gay men wear those things and still show off the bodies that they've developed by devoting their entire adult lives to working out? In real life, when gay men can be made to wear shirts at all, the uniform includes snug, value-priced jeans and t-shirts. A standard joke has it that one should not arrange a blind date and say, "I'll be the one in jeans and a t-shirt."

Today's vocabulary word: scripture

scripture, n. a textual Rorschach test, into which each believer projects her or his own personality in the process of "interpreting" it. Syn.: Torah, Bible, Qur'an, Journal of Discourses (oops, no, not that last one).

Friday, September 3, 2010

Quote of the week

"[T]he middle class gets the bohemia it deserves." -- Ross Wetzsteon, Republic of Dreams : Greenwich Village: The American Bohemia, 1910-1960

Today's vocabulary word: tolerance

tolerance, n. something that only my intolerance merits.

The latest transmission from The Blade to earth (2)

Here we go again. This article in The Washington Blade reads less like responsible journalism than like some sort of conservative-P.C. attack piece against gay men. The article opens:
Despite booming sales of the iPad, Kindle and other digital book readers, some see a disturbing trend among gay men: We are reading fewer books today than previous generations.
Yes, that's it exactly: Gay men, and only gay men, are reading fewer books. As evidence, the article cites the closure of gay bookstores. That phenomenon couldn't possibly have anything to do with the increased space given to queer literature in mainstream bookstores. Also, we know that it's completely gay men's fault because lesbian bookstores like Lammas have ... um, never mind.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Today's vocabulary word: less

less, adj. or adv. more, but not so much more as the other side wants: We believe in less government intrusion into this aspect of our lives.

Fabulous queer dating tip #18: Talk, but don't communicate.

Learn to chatter for hours on end without actually saying anything. When he asks you a question, ignore it. If you can't ignore it, give a stock non-answer like "You just don't get it, do you?" or "If you have to ask, there's no point in my telling you." If the topic is vitally important to the relationship or to him personally, brush aside the question with "That's none of your business." The last is especially appropriate if he's caught you snooping in something that's undeniably none of your business.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Growing up gay, then and now

A recent conversation with a friend about substantially younger gay men on Facebook got me thinking about the differences between being a young gay man now and my own experiences with growing up gay.

For one thing, social attitudes have changed dramatically. Today, urging tolerance for LGBT people is de rigueur in many areas of society. While the "liberal" mainstream media can still be conservative on our issues, they have mellowed somewhat, and besides, they have far less influence than they did. By contrast, in the seventies, in the blue-collar neighborhood where I grew up, urging such tolerance was just not done; I was the only one who did, and my point was not exactly well received. When I did officially come out, it was into the world of the politically correct Savonarola clones, who led me out of one closet only to shove me into another.

Moreover, the Internet allows queer youth to form virtual communities with people like them around the world as well as to receive unfiltered information about sexual issues. Such things can be useful to anyone and vital to someone growing up in Baptistville, Texas. Back then, by contrast, not only did we not have social-networking sites or even Usenet newsgroups, but we did not even have the access to unfiltered information about homosexuality that exists today. Instead, we had to rely on rumors or at best those gatekeepers of right thought, the "liberal" mainstream media, which seemed unable to mention gay people without using the word "predatory." Those who criticize technology as isolating and dehumanizing should take note.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Today's vocabulary word: special

special, adj. equal: said of rights that someone else wants

Impossible standards of ideological purity

Someone recently criticized me for having listened to the music of Hildegard of Bingen, given her stance on homosexuality. How ideologically pure do we have to be? Do we have to drink milk only from lesbian cows? Besides, would it be such a sin unto death to give a 12th-century nun the same amount of slack we so freely give to modern Democratic politicians?

Fluffy-bunny Christians, but not of the left

Yet again, we see members of various denominations that in other contexts might disparage or even flatly deny one another's Christianity -- in this case, Mormons and evangelical Protestants -- join forces for a supposedly Divinely sanctioned political cause. Having been called on doing so, they are now concocting elaborate excuses that essentially amount to backpedaling. If I didn't know any better, I might start to think that some people start with a secular ideology, or simply a lust for secular power, and then cherry-pick just enough Christianity to back it up.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Quote of the week

"Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding a truth." - Karl Ludwig Börne

Friday, August 27, 2010

Today's vocabulary word: opinion

opinion, n. a fact that contradicts what I want to believe:
"This proves that your statement is wrong."

"That's just your opinion."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

No double standard there

When a company otherwise known for exemplary pro-LGBT policies strays from the straight and narrow, we must call the wrath of the heavens down upon it. When a beloved Democratic politician opposes our equality, and when his administration uses shockingly homophobic arguments to do so, we must make endless excuses for him.

Stuff gay men supposedly like: 2. Shaved chests

While a few gay men still follow one of the more regrettable fads from the nineties, many of us did not follow it even then. Pardon my blasphemy, but some of us think that being a gay man has something to do with being sexually attracted to men, including the things that make men look like men and not women or children. After all, it's not as though all of those Carl Hardwick* calendars went begging.

*Do not do a Web search for that name from work.**

**Unless of course you work at a leather bar.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Today's vocabulary word: lie

lie, v.i. to transcend small-t truth in pursuit of my own personal opinion of what big-T Truth is: So what if we can't defend our belief system without lying? What's that got to do with whether our belief system itself is a lie?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Needlessly alienating potential allies

In light of the recent protests against Target and Best Buy, people are asking whether we are needlessly alienating potential allies. Some people say that this is not a serious worry, since the anti-gay crowd will find any reason to oppose us, while those who already support us will still do so. Nonetheless, one problem with the "preaching to the choir" mindset is that not everyone is in the choir. How shall we regard the fence-sitters or those whose support for us is wavering? If everyone's mind were already made up, what would be the point of protesting at all?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Today's vocabulary word: irony

irony, x. a random series of vowels and consonants, having no meaning, at least so far as we can discern.

Our workout routines, ourselves

The joke used to go that gym is gay church. In that case, it has gone from being a C&E social-club church to being a cult. In both talking to other gay men and reading online profiles, I notice increasingly that working out is not just something that many gay men do, as has long been the case, but instead evidently at or the near the core of their self-definition. Many religious leaders would be elated to see their parishioners give such a central place in their lives to their god or gods.

Once, when I noticed a handsome, very muscular man sizing me up, and I finally got the nerve to talk to him, I tried unsuccessfully to get him to talk about anything except his workout routine. While one person does not make a trend, my experiences with other gay men lead me to believe that he is far from unique.

Gay men used to work out to be attractive to other men. After all, being gay men, we cannot simply put on an expensive watch to get a date. Nonetheless, I suppose that eventually, gay men will start hooking up just so that they will have workout partners. Also, leave it to gay men to develop a sexual fetish for forced workouts (no, really -- do a search for it).

On this issue, the queer theorists, with their love of speculation over observation, have gotten it spectacularly wrong. They often advance arguments -- necessarily convoluted and necessarily untouched by empirical reality -- that only upper-class men have the time and resources to devote to working out. If so, an awful lot of gay men of my acquaintance will be surprised to learn that they are upper-class. What is left of a rule in the face of so much counter-evidence?

Full disclosure: Yes, I exercise. I do so because my doctor said that I needed to lose weight. It is not gay church for me.

Stuff gay men supposedly like: 1. That "must-see" TV show

There is always at least one TV show that supposedly has all gay men glued to the set. Mention it, and you will get a chorus of "Am I the only gay man who doesn't watch ____?" I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that we can't all be the only gay man who doesn't watch it. The last show that "all gay men watch" that any gay men of my acquaintance admitted to watching was Absolutely Fabulous, and that was a while ago.

Quote of the week

"We are sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution. And freedom of religion is part of that Constitution." -- An Army spokesperson, on a prayer space used by Muslims near the site of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fabulous queer dating tip #17: Make him damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

Badger him into talking to you. As soon as he starts, interrupt. When he complains, say that he never says anything of interest to you anyway. When he clams up, go back to badgering him into talking to you.

In terms of sex, accuse him of never wanting to try anything new. When he does try something new, tell him how much his kinkiness grosses you out.

Call him a rube from the foothills for not wanting to try different restaurants. When he suggests that you go, tell him that by dragging you to different restaurants, he's keeping you fat.

If only!

WND has dropped Ann Coulter as a keynote speaker for its Taking America Back National Conference because of her plan to address HOMOCON. Said Joseph Farah,
The drift of the conservative movement to a brand of materialistic libertarianism is one of the main reasons we planned this conference from the beginning.
What drift into materialistic libertarianism? How far into the Narnia of theocratic statism do you have to be if modern conservatism looks to you like materialistic libertarianism? Finally, if conservatism ever does drift into materialistic libertarianism, where do I sign up?

Today's vocabulary word: people

people, n. a hive mind capable of forming opinions, but only when those opinions agree with mine. Otherwise, the people must have been prevented from forming an opinion by the evil machinations of (circle all that apply: the liberal media, the corporate media, anti-Christian persecution, global capitalism).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fabulous queer dating tip #16: Talk to him. And talk. And talk. And talk.

Relationships are all about communication, so be sure to communicate to him non-stop. Whether the subject is of even the remotest interest or use to him is beside the point; it matters to you, and that's all that counts. It's a good way to introduce him to that other great love of your life, the sound of your own voice.

If you've ever seen the episode of Daria in which Quinn spends several hours on the phone to her boyfriend, babbling about fashion and boring him to tears, you know what to do. Actually, Quinn Morgendorffer is a good role model in most areas of life.

Today's vocabulary word: balance

balance, v.t. to tilt toward my side. We must balance our newspaper's coverage when we quote someone pro-gay, but not when we quote Bishop Harry Jackson.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

Traditional family values, but not of the right

Yet another area in which the P.C. left comes across as a parody of the religious right is its obsession with relationships. We've all surely had them try to beat into our heads the notion that a long-term relationship should be our number-one priority. Is that really the best advice to give to someone who may well be in an abuse relationship? Then again, no cost is too high for ideological rectitude, at least when someone else is bearing that cost.

Your own personal Jesus

While Wiccans may have originated the term "fluffy bunny," nominal adherents of more mainstream religions, particularly Christianity, are often fluffy bunnies as well. While they may have rejected anything resembling the theology of their chosen religion, or may not have bothered learning it in the first place, they believe with perfect faith in their self-identification with that religion, as well as in their homemade God who backs up everything they say.

For example, on another site, I have encountered many self-identified Christians who believe that the Bible is only partially God's Word; by some odd coincidence, the parts that they like are both Divinely inspired and Divinely preserved, whereas the rest of it isn't. They know this because "God" speaks to them and tells them which parts to follow and which to ignore. If you know such people, you know that it does no good to point out that "God" speaks to many other people, including other people on the same board who hear from "God," and tells them mutually exclusive things. They either don't understand or don't care that any "God" that so consistently contradicts both itself and its own holy book isn't God at all.

Quote of the week

“I am incapable of saying what people want to hear” - Kang Zhengguo

Monday, August 9, 2010

Today's vocabulary word: hypermasculine

hypermasculine, adj. failing to conform rigidly to my preferred the only conceivable way to be a gay man

"I watched one episode of Glee and didn't care for it."

"Then obviously you're putting up a hypermasculine front as a way to compensate."

Related entry

Is sexual orientation a choice? Does it matter? Should it matter?

In light of the Proposition 8 decision and of recent media accounts of fluidity of female sexuality, people are discussing the significance of the question of whether people choose their sexual orientation. I will ignore the ignorant conflation of fluidity with choice and will instead give my views on whether it should matter and whether it does matter.

For multiple reasons, it should not matter whether people choose their sexual orientation. It is undeniably true that people can choose to convert to a different religion or to abandon religion altogether, yet no one claims that that freedom to convert makes people having politically unpopular views on religion fair game for discrimination. Also, in libertopia, people would have the freedom to choose their sexual orientation insofar as they could do so, unless in doing so they somehow initiated force or fraud against someone else.

Nonetheless, "should not" does not mean "does not." While libertopia is a long way off, the 14th Amendment is the law now, and immutability of a characteristic has a lot to do with the level of scrutiny that courts will give to discrimination on the basis of that characteristic. We must also consider political reality; if we can use that reality to our advantage without committing intellectual dishonesty, why should we not?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bishop Harry Jackson strikes again.

Suburban Maryland's favorite religious flim-flam man has blessed us with a tirade that turns the concept of equal protection of the laws on its head. In Jackson's alternate universe, we have a "core civil right to vote for marriage" that Judge Vaughn Walker took away from us. If you didn't know about such a right, don't feel bad; neither, I suspect, did just about anyone who had stayed awake during first-year constitutional law. Then again, I have yet to see any evidence that Bishop Jackson lets the truth get in way of his dogmas.

Jackson also accuses Walker of having "misread history and the Constitution...." That comment alone contains toxic levels of irony.

Quote of the week

"For if the constitutional conception of 'equal protection of the laws' means anything, it must, at the very least, mean that a bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot constitute a legitimate governmental interest." - United States Dept. of Agriculture v. Moreno, 413 U.S. 528, 534 (1973)

Today's vocabulary word: democracy

democracy, n. the right of the voters to run the government however I want. We must defend democracy on the subject of marriage, just as surely as we must defend the Second Amendment and religious groups' freedom of expressive association to discriminate.

"Contradictory" marriage rulings actually aren't.

In light of recent rulings on same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and California, some people have asked how those rulings can be reconciled. If one court says that the state has the right to define marriage, while another limits that right, are those courts not saying exactly the opposite things? Actually, no, they are not.

The Tenth and Fourteenth Amendments are both the law; the former protects the rights of the states against the federal government, while the latter protects the rights of individuals against the states. Since states have rights against the federal government that they do not have against their own people, the rulings can easily be reconciled.

In the machinery of government, the Tenth and Fourteenth Amendments can be envisioned as ratchets connected in series. Each can turn in only one direction, namely, the direction of greater protection for rights against government. The turning of both of the ratchets controls the machine's output.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

At least our side is better on this issue.

People like to excuse the excesses of their party by saying that at least their party is better on certain issues than is the other party. Even when that would be a valid excuse if true, it isn't always true.

For example, Republicans like to say that their party is better at holding down the growth of government. Alas, the factual basis for that assertion seems to have escaped Veronique de Rugy, who has actually analyzed the growth of the federal government and come to a somewhat different conclusion. For example, federal spending increased more under George W. Bush than even under Lyndon B. Johnson.

Similarly, Democrats like to say that their party is better at protecting civil liberties, including Fourth Amendment rights. By some accounts, however, Obama is outdoing Bush on such issues.

On same-sex marriage, we're still behind Argentina ...

... but less far behind Argentina than we were this morning. In response, people are still whining about their supposed right to vote away the rights of whomever they don't like. We therefore need to make the case that in a constitutional republic based on individual liberty, people do have certain rights that are beyond the reach of the majority. It won't hurt if we point out that those who sing the praises of unfettered majoritarianism don't believe their own talking point.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

You might be a liberal if ...

(A companion to "You might be a conservative if ...")

  • You think that ATM fees are too high and that taxes are too low.
  • You think that prosperity is something that politicians can just decree into existence and that some politicians refuse to do so because the plutocrats keep lobbying for poverty.
  • You want politicians at the national level to decree prosperity into existence and politicians at the county level to protect you from it.
  • You give all of the credit for the 1990’s Clinton and Gore and all of the blame to someone else. You insist that the Clinton-Gore new economy and the dot-com Dutch tulip mania had nothing to do with each other.
  • You think that small is beautiful, except in government.
  • You regard local home rule as an outmoded, unworkable, and even racist concept, except in the District of Columbia.
  • You think that while the point of diversity is to let people of differing viewpoints learn from one another, the way to achieve diversity is to suppress those same differing viewpoints.
  • You want to improve our public schools by doing the things that made them a mess in the first place.
  • You oppose road construction but support the tax increases proposed to fund that road construction.
  • You think that corporations frequently oppress us and are often monopolistic, whereas government never does and never is.
  • You consider yourself to be down with the working class, even though you never interact with any actual working-class persons except those whom you are paying to serve you. You regard people less economically fortunate than you as the virtuous working class when they say what you want to hear and evil redneck trailer trash otherwise.
  • You think that tax cuts cause deficits in a way that spending increases don’t.
  • You are sure that the plutocrats are behind everything bad. You resent that big companies like P&G and HP lobby for anti-gay laws, over the objections of the Joe the Plumbers of the world.
  • On those many occasions when a member of the religious right and a member of the P.C. left say exactly the same thing, you have no problem simultaneously disbelieving and believing it.

Friday, July 30, 2010

When 'phobes are more honest than is good for them

By now you may have seen this sign, shown at a National Organization for Marriage rally in Indianapolis:

sign calling for death penalty for gays, citing Leviticus 20:13, showing too nooses

We should do what we can to draw attention to signs like this. Those who display such signs have renounced whatever moral high ground they may have had and cannot hide behind "We're only doing it to defend democracy" or whatever this week's lie is. Such signs are also sure to outrage fence-sitters and thus do our work for us. Besides, those who know the Bible can have a bit of naughty fun with the question of why that is the only OT verse that wasn't "nailed to the Cross."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Maybe the nanny-statists are finally getting it.

Congress is reconsidering its four-year-old ban on Internet gambling. The ban provides a perfect illustration of something that nanny-statists have long refused to recognize, despite the overwhelming historical evidence: namely, that actions have consequences, particularly unintended consequences.

The New York Times, which has not exactly been the mouthpiece of libertarianism recently, notes the following:
On Wednesday, the House Financial Services Committee approved a bill that would effectively legalize online poker and other nonsports betting, overturning a 2006 federal ban that critics say merely drove Web-based casinos offshore.

* * *

But the enforcement actions have barely put a dent in the industry, experts say. Gamblers have used online payment processors, phone-based deposits and prepaid credit cards to circumvent the ban. By some estimates, American online gambling exceeds $6 billion a year.
Although desire for increased revenues is the primary motive for the proposed repeal, the prohibitionists must also be waking up to the fact that the government has tried to improve our virtue on a matter that is neither within its power nor any of its business.

Quote of the week

“Some adults will spend their money foolishly, but it is not the purpose of the federal government to prevent them legally from doing it.” - Barney Frank

You might live in Northern Virginia if ...

  • You regard the military as the engine of the economy.
  • You miss sodomy laws.
  • The thought of privatizing the liquor stores horrifies you.
  • Despite the above, you characterize your belief system as anti-government and pro-business.
  • Your cul-de-sac has a state highway number.
  • The major parkway near you does not.
  • You know at least one Ph.D. scientist and at least one young-earth creationist.
  • In a neighborhood a short drive from yours, all of the businesses have signs in a foreign language, most likely Vietnamese, Spanish, or Korean.
  • You think they're doing it just to persecute you.
  • You are dimly aware that the Potomac River is not the edge of the world. Still, you don't feel like pushing your luck by crossing it.
  • You are convinced that the edge of the world just can't be any farther north than Laurel, Maryland. Everything north of that is marked on your mental map with mermaids and sea monsters.
  • You're glad you live in Virginia; it's not full of liberals, as Maryland is. As far as you're concerned, Montgomery County is practically New York City.
  • You're thinking of moving to Stafford County because Prince William County has become just too gosh-darned cosmopolitan.
  • Once you move to Stafford County, you will do everything in your power to turn it into an exact duplicate of the Prince William County neighborhood that you left.
  • You will then move to Spotsylvania County. Lather, rinse, repeat.
  • In your neighborhood are some good Salvadorean, Afghan, Indian, and Thai restaurants. You never go.
  • Across the river from you are some of the finest museums in the world. You never go.
  • You can flawlessly navigate all of the culs-de-sac in your subdivision, but when you're in the city, you cannot begin to imagine how to find the corner of 14th and Q from the corner of 13th and R.
  • Your commute is at least an hour each way. That's just the way the world works. At least you can use that time in the SUV to return phone calls.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Know your enemy.

In working for our goals, we need to know more than where we want to be. We need to know who is standing in our way, what those persons believe, and why.

People who argue queer issues often appeal to religion, and in America, religion for the most part means Western Christianity in various modern manifestations. Therefore, in engaging such people, we should show some familiarity with Christianity beyond straw-man portrayals in the mainstream media, lest we needlessly antagonize the very persons whom we are trying to win over.

For example, I have heard activists justify a publicity stunt that made us look spectacularly bad to the general public by arguing the "fact" that Communion represents the minister or religious institution, as opposed to any connection that it might have to Jesus Christ. Even worse, when I pointed out the issue to one activist, he insisted on wallowing in his willful ignorance.

Activists' ignorance of Christianity is especially frustrating since Christians have made such an effort to make the needed information available. How often do you hear that Christians refuse to discuss their beliefs?

The above applies to secular political ideologies as well. Many people in the P.C. left tend to lump everyone who disagrees with them into some undifferentiated "right." What do neocons, theocons, paleocons, populist conservatives, limited-government libertarians, and anarcho-capitalists all have in common, other than the "fact" that they are all on the "right"? An argument that would make perfect sense to an Objectivist might deeply offend a traditionalist conservative, and vice versa. Moreover, we should stop using terms like "corporatism" and "laissez-faire" without looking up what they mean.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The irony! It burns! (4) Whining about right-wing propaganda

E. J. Dionne of The Washington Post complains about
the bludgeoning of mainstream journalism into looking timorously over its right shoulder and believing that "balance" demands taking seriously whatever sludge the far right is pumping into the political waters.
Has he read his own newspaper, particularly its coverage of LGBT issues?

Friday, July 23, 2010

There's no way that that can backfire, is there?

I recently heard a gay man use appeal to disgust in discussing why something should be outlawed. Is that really such a good argument for us to use?

Our Fierce-Advocate-in-Chief (2)

The reporting on a recent straw poll to gauge queer voters' approval of Obama, unscientific even by the admission of those who conducted it, raises the following issues.

1. “Unscientific” is putting it mildly. The poll involves multiple layers of self-selection.

2. Obama's defenders say that we cannot expect change overnight. Yet Obama has won high praise for his ability to get his agenda through Congress — except of course on our issues. We are perfectly in line in asking when it will be our turn.

3. Saying that Obama is better than McCain would have been is like the line from Animal Farm, “Surely, comrades, surely there is no one among you who wants to see Jones come back?”

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Quote of the week

"Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." - H. L. Mencken

Does this mean that political correctness is the feeling of being personally oppressed because someone, somewhere, may be happy?

Fabulous queer dating tip #15: Become an emotional limpet.

Once you're dating seriously, you should completely forget how you got along without him. Insist that he spend every waking moment giving you his undivided attention. Don't suggest things to do together; instead, make him come up with suggestions, and then veto each one. A relationship is an emotional give-and-take; he should give, and you should take.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A truly strange, but strangely common, argument (2)

When people argue against others' liberty, they often argue that they themselves will suffer temptation from the exercise of that liberty. For example, mixing with people of different religious backgrounds will apparently provoke believers to commit idolatry and incest. To me, that argument says more about the believers' own mindset than about the power of that provocation.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Today's vocabulary word: communist

communist, n. anyone who disagrees with me on any matter. Syn.: socialist, atheist, left-winger, right-winger, fascist, capitalist, racist, neocon.

True story: Someone once called me a fucking communist for advocating reduced government intervention in the automobile industry. When I asked him whether people wanting increased government involvement were fucking Libertarians, he gave me that all-purpose scathing rebuttal known as pretending not to have heard the question.

The majority should rule, but only when it agrees with me.

I can hardly wait to see how anti-equality social conservatives will respond to this.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Today's vocabulary words: prove and show

prove, v.t. to assert

show, v.t. to assert repeatedly, more loudly each time

The passive voice

Clarity of thought would be helped if a moratorium were observed on the use of the passive voice. Too often, it is written or said that such-and-such thing was done, when it is intended that the question "By whom was that thing done?" should be evaded. If you are thoroughly annoyed by this post, then my point has been made.

The Post finally grows a backbone.

I'm glad to see that The Washington Post has finally stood up to Bishop Harry Jackson. Traditionally, The Post has uncritically parroted whatever Bishop Jackson has said, no matter how blatantly Jackson has had to cherry-pick both the Bible and American history to make his point. The Post was starting to look like Jackson's church newsletter in broadsheet form, except that his church's evangelism budget did not pay for my subscription.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Faux News reports: Governor Proposes Bold New Government Programs to Solve Problems Caused by Previous Bold New Government Programs

Governor Chris Rosenkreuz announced at a news conference today that he is proposing a series of bold new government programs to solve the problems caused by the last round of bold new government programs.

Speaking at the Valley Hills Community Center, Governor Rosenkreuz said, "For too long, we leaders in state and local governments have stood idly by and done nothing about the unintended consequences of our actions. We must put a stop to that and act now.

"For instance, drug prohibition has led to drug-fueled gang violence and has also led people to replace banned substances with unsafe alternatives. That is why we must take a zero-tolerance approach in the War on Certain Drugs.

"We also need increased action to stop the spread of HIV, caused by men who were driven to the D.L. back when we had sodomy laws and remain there thanks to the homophobic police. We further need stricter environmental enforcement to counteract the environmental abuses facilitated by tort reform.

"With regard to the economy, we need greater economic-development incentives. Businesses keep leaving for neighboring states with different tax rates and regulatory schemes, and we need to replace them.

"Our mandates for lower development density have led to far-flung sprawl. We should therefore take land by eminent domain to build neo-urbanist town centers and thereby conform to this week's eternal verity of good land planning."

When asked whether the newly announced programs could have unintended consequences that would have to be fixed later, Governor Rosenkreuz responded, "Everyone in my administration knows that 'unintended' and 'unforeseeable' mean the same thing. Besides, it all ties in with my next bold new government program, which is a jobs program in the state capital."

Fabulous queer dating tip #14: Bait and switch.

Pretend to be something that you're not in order to get his attention, and then, once you have him in your talons, abandon the pretense. Once you and he have planned all of those things that you were going to do together, tell him how utterly boring you find them and that you have to do something else entirely. Stop being pleasant, and revert to your normal psycho bipolar self. If you were an exclusive bottom, suddenly become an exclusive top, or vice versa. In short, be the evil twin of the person with whom he fell in love.

Today's vocabulary word: unbiased

unbiased, adj. tending to confirm my biases: I read (The Washington Post/The Washington Times/Salon.com/WND) for its unbiased coverage. See also: echo chamber.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Quote of the week

"A government should not mobilize an army out of anger; military leaders should not provoke war out of wrath." - Sun Zi, The Art of War

As with many things in this book, this quote has applicability beyond literal war.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Today's vocabulary words: oppress and persecute

oppress, v.t. to disagree with: Stop oppressing me with your politically incorrect opinions, pig.

persecute, v.t. to prevent from persecuting others: By enforcing the establishment clause, unelected liberal activist judges are persecuting the religious right.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Just what we need, more prohibition

While politicians can waffle endlessly on the real issues, they can move at light speed to create yet another victimless crime. The latest matter on which the nanny statists feel called to protect us from ourselves is a new drug called "spice," which includes synthetic cannabinoids. While I do not care to try it, I understand the difference between what isn't a good idea and what should be outlawed. Moreover, while it can undoubtedly be dangerous to some people if abused, so can many if not most things in stores.

The Washington Post, which is seldom if ever dismissed for its libertarian bias, has quoted a voice of reason on the subject:
Eidinger, who is also known locally as an advocate for D.C. statehood, said banning spice would simply push it underground. He also said that laws criminalizing cannabis have driven people to use the murky alternative.
Indeed. When are people going to learn the obvious lesson from past forms of prohibition?

On second thought, maybe spice is so heinous that it should be banned. Let's discuss the matter over drinks and cigarettes, shall we?

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Tenth Amendment

Liberals have long dismissed the idea of states' rights as inherently reactionary and even bigoted. I wonder how how they'll think about states' rights after the decision striking down DOMA under the 10th Amendment.

More generally, many people talk as though repealing the 10th Amendment would allow Congress to shove reactionary local leadership out of the way and do all sorts of wonderful progressive things. How has that worked out for the District of Columbia?