Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The re-remaking of the American urban environment

In Tysons Corner, Virginia — America's twelfth largest central business district and the classic example of an edge city — planners are planning to convert the suburban spaghetti road system into an urban grid. In decades past, however, urban planners saw the grid as the root of all evil and tried to convert urban street grids such as that of Southwest D.C. into cul-de-sac road systems befitting low-density suburbia. Progress appears to be chasing its own tail. It is a shame that something as slow and expensive to change as a street layout has to be so fashion-driven.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Quote of the week

“I was always frustrated, and angry sometimes, about the stories that people were telling, which were either coming-out stories or frothy, sexy comedies which weren’t funny or sexy.” — Andrew Haigh, on the shortcomings of gay cinema, in The New York Times

Friday, September 23, 2011

WWMLKD? (What would Martin Luther King do?)

As with Jesus and Einstein, people often quote Martin Luther King to back up whatever point they are making, often without doing any work to find out what he actually thought about similar issues. For instance, here we read the following questions, asked purely rhetorically with no attempt to answer them, on what Dr. King would have thought about the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell":
As Martin Luther King day passes again, we as a community must look into the past fight for civil equality. What would Dr. King say of our movement? Would he be joyous that we have gained the right to fight openly in the US military? Or would he be telling us that it is time to work on reconciliation with the Iraqi and Afghan people?
Then again, perhaps King, like Jesus and Einstein, mystically agrees with whoever invokes his name on any issue.

Paging Rick Santorum

Hey, frothy one, regarding "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," I've got your special privilege right here. You're quite welcome.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Religious right or P.C. left? Quotes 28 and 29

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.

[in response to transgendered people's issues] Personally I am a giant sea slug trapped in a [human's] body but I don't think I want to have species re-assingment surgery.
[in response to transgendered people's issues] I feel like a squirrel inside. You must address me with the correct squirrelific pronouns.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quote of the week

"[T]he ego protects its cherished illusions even when the truth is rising up before one's eyes." — The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide on homophobes who are aroused by gay porn and then deny it, not that the phenomenon is at all limited to that.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What LGBT voters can learn from Jews

The recent Republican victory in New York has Democrats on red alert. According to an article in today's New York Times,
Sensing trouble, the Obama campaign and Democratic Party leaders have mobilized to solidify the president’s standing with Jewish voters. The Democratic National Committee has established a Jewish outreach program. The campaign is singling out Jewish groups, donors and other supporters with calls and e-mails to counter the Republican narrative that Mr. Obama is hostile to Israel.
Can anyone imagine this happening if Jewish voters in that district had done what the queerer-than-thou activists keep telling us to do, which is to support Team Blue no matter what? While I do not agree with all of the expressed reasons for voting for Turner, those reasons do not change the fact that if politicians see no political downside to ignoring us, they will ignore us.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Theocracy when it suits me

Statists of both the left and the right often justify their statism by attributing it to their God. If we ignore the little detail that America is not a theocracy, we still have the difficulty that theocrats across the board tend to cite only those religious beliefs that suit them. For example, left-wing theocrats pound on the Biblical teachings of love and mercy while ignoring the thou-shalt-nots, while right-wing theocrats do the opposite.

Theocrats of all stripes assume that once church and state are united, it is their church that will prevail. They also believe with perfect faith that God agrees with them on everything and therefore worship competing Christs who would scarcely recognize one another. Finally, they resolve the difficulty of wildly differing "Christian" political views by accusing anyone who disagrees with them of not being a true Christian at all.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Today's vocabulary word: superstition

superstition, n. a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation; specifically, someone else's belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation. If you dare suggest any resemblance to my holy faith, I will play the religious-bigotry card.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Quotes of the week

"9/11 was a faith-based initiative." — George Carlin

"Civil liberties groups say the response is disproportionate and may even have handed al-Qaeda a victory by permanently altering the openness America once celebrated." — Catherine Philip, The Times of London

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What LGBT activists can learn from the Tea Party

Say what you like about the Tea Party, but it has greatly unsettled the political status quo. An article on Reason, "What the Left Can Learn from the Tea Party," explains that the Tea Partiers have gotten results by showing politicians that business as usual would come at a political cost and that the Tea Partiers were willing to sacrifice a few pieces if checkmating their opponents required them to do so:
The Tea Party movement was able to grind the gears of politics as usual by demonstrating to the McCains of the world that single issues matter more than whether the opposing party might win this or that congressional seat.
The article further notes that this lesson has largely been lost on the left:
Soros in particular is a case study in how giving blanket support to a political party can undermine your favorite causes. According to a 2004 New Yorker article about anti-Bush billionaires by Jane Mayer, Soros’ bill of particulars against Obama’s predecessor included Bush’s attempts to spread democracy at gunpoint, his expansions of presidential power, and his prison camp in Guantanamo Bay. In every one of those areas, as in the drug war, Obama has not been significantly better than Bush.

* * *

As Eric Sterling, president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, told Sullum, Obama has been able to pursue the war on drugs as usual partly because “those who care have not made him pay a political price yet.”
Queer activists in particular need to learn this lesson. Team Blue's cheerleaders often tell us that we must support Democratic candidates, no matter what, if for no better reason than to keep Team Red from gaining power. In doing so, however, we simply show Team Blue that it may do as it pleases on our issues, since we will not make it pay a political price. If the Tea Partiers will sacrifice a pawn now and then to win the game, we should be willing to do so as well.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Today's vocabulary word: know

know, v.t. to want very badly to believe, despite having just made it up with no supporting evidence

They're taking over!

We often hear that (fill in the blank) are taking over some part of the LGBT community. Most recently, it's effeminate gay men who are supposedly taking over one subset of gay maledom.

I've noticed that when someone makes this complaint, it's usually the (fill in the blank) who are making things happen, while the complainers are just sitting on the sidelines complaining. People have accused me personally of taking over organizations just by doing any of the work.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Stuff gay men supposedly like: 19. Witty conversation

As I noted earlier, a common misconception about gay men is that our conversations make the Algonquin Round Table look like a frat kegger. If only. Back when I came out*, people considered it the height of wit to screech, "Oh, please, Louise" as the rejoinder to everything. Now, we just speak in pop-culture-generated catchphrases. There is probably a gay section of hell where the demons answer everything with "Take the red pill, Mary."

*I heard someone say something about riding dinosaurs to gay bars. Stop that right now!

Quote of the week

"Magical thinking is no substitute for verifiable facts." — Steve Chapman, Reason