Category: Rants

Hiding Out

The sad and sorry state of gay rights in this country has been a bit of a pet peeve of mine for going on fifteen years now, ever since I learned a relative was gay. That day I learned a very important lesson in life, and my parents didn’t even have to say anything. Leaving hate out of their teaching of life’s lessons was enough. I basically right there figured – this person is just as good, just as loving, just as human as any other person I’ve met, and they’re not out violating The Golden Rule, so why come down on them over one detail that is infinitely more important, and certainly more personal, to them than it is to me?

I decided as a 16-year old that really hadn’t previously cultivated an opinion one way or another that homophobia was not going to be in the cards for me. Further, I had decided that homophobia in general was something I wasn’t going to view as simply “somebody else’s opinion” – not like competing political ideologies, or banter between friends who are fans of opposing teams in sports – but rather a brand of behavior that should be met with the minimum possible amount of tolerance. The recent passage of gay marriage legislation in the state of New York therefore was just as cool to me as the Mormon church’s apparent involvement in California Proposition 8 was reprehensible. Public policy should be a pay-to-play system, and churches that choose to involve themselves to the level that happened in that instance should have their tax-exempt status swiftly and permanently ripped out from under them. (But that’s another rant for another day.)

We all have our own problems, and it is a pointless waste of time going around trying to vilify everybody. But when somebody comes on with this nonsense that what ten million people do in the privacy of their own bedroom should be made illegal and forced out of society because it doesn’t conform to their personal beliefs, and then subsequently gets caught engaging in that activity – that becomes a source of entertainment as far as I’m concerned. Conservatives and religious types, perhaps in both cases as a function of their religious beliefs, seem to be the most frequent offenders in this regard. The brazen hypocrisy involved is what separates these folks from how a person goes 5 MPH over the speed limit but doesn’t harass or condemn the next person for doing it as well.

You had to figure, as is the case with anyone else who has ever dared to run for the president, that when Michele Bachmann declared herself a candidate for the Republican nomination for the 2012 presidential election, folks would go digging for some sort of dirt on her to undermine her viability as a candidate. Now, she has her own skeletons to deal with. For example, in spite of being a Tea Party hero, she doesn’t hate socialism nearly enough to refuse the quarter of a million dollars in subsidies her family farm has accepted. And then sometimes, as a function of having a vacuum between her earholes, she relocates the shot heard ’round the world to Delaware, or gets her John Waynes mixed up in feckless attempts to pander to voters – the sort of cheap trick normally reserved for professional wrestlers and singers in a band, purpose-built to score easy cheers from an audience, but she still managed to mess up anyway.

But what I find way more interesting is that it turns out her husband is operating some sort of “pray away the gay” clinic up in Minnesota, something she refers to as the family business. This place, billing itself as a counseling center, allegedly employs reparative (conversion) therapy – methods which have long since been disapproved of by the American Psychological Association – in some sort of effort to turn gay people straight. Like it’s some injury you can get physical therapy for, or some sickness you can get a prescription for. Here is a recent quote from Marcus Bachmann that fairly plainly illustrates what he thinks of gay people and why he thinks it’s his job to “help” them:

“I think you clearly say ‘what is the understanding of God’s word on homosexuality,’” Bachmann said. “We have to understand barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined and just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn’t mean we’re supposed to go down that road,” he continued.

Other than confirming to me that Mrs. Bachmann and her husband both hold wildly irrational belief structures that makes both of them unfit to run a Dairy Queen let alone a clinic or an empire on the skids, the existence of this clinic is interesting because now apparently a bunch of people’s gaydars are going absolutely crazy when they see Mr. Bachmann in action. This guy either secretly plays for the other team or just convincingly acts like he does. In either case, when you have gay peoples’ gaydars going off – that’s a sign of something. There absolutely would be nothing funnier or more disruptive in this campaign cycle, which is already a sad and crazy circus, if folks’ suspicions turned out to be true and this guy were outed. Absolutely nothing. Mitt Romney passing healthcare legislation in his home state that is not all that different from the much-reviled “Obamacare”? Not even in the same galaxy. At least he was doing something productive!

I’m actually rooting for it just because I’d want to see how explosive it gets.

And now, perhaps because I’m examining Mr. Bachmann through the lens of suspicion that he might be gay, I find myself looking at everything he says and does and interpreting it as he were, and it’s providing some pretty funny results. Barbarians need to be “educated” and “disciplined”, you say? Sounds like…

Ohhh, you bad boy, you need to be taught a lesson! You deserve a spanking!

And of course, who could ignore the obvious – a secretly gay man running a clinic for gay people to come to? Sounds like an easy way to hook up.

It’s been a little over a year since Family Research Council co-founder, Southern Baptist minister, and all-around jackass George Rekers was caught red-handed on vacation with a male prostitute. And when Larry Craig, the senator in Idaho who voted against extending the definition of a hate crime to cover sexual orientation, supported the Federal Marriage Amendment, and expressed support for an Idaho constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, was caught engaging in “disorderly conduct” with an unsuspecting man in a public restroom – that was just exciting.

But what would be even better is a potential First Husband using the family business as a front to cover up some dirty little proclivities of his own. This guy is saying everything Larry Craig said and doing everything Richard Simmons does. Imagine the backlash if it were to turned out this week’s religious conservative darling, signer of the controversial “marriage pledge”, was abiding a homosexual in her very own home. Oops, did I say backlash? I meant hilarity.

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Here We Go Again

One submission has come from a company called International Databases, LLC. It’s a one-man operation run by Stephen Sample, who says he has a degree in evolutionary biology and taught at the high school and junior college levels for 15 years.

The material he submitted consists of eight modules dealing with current issues in biology and ecology. Most are well within the mainstream scientific consensus. But there are two that deal with the origin of life. Those sections say the “null hypothesis” is that there had to be some intelligent agency behind the appearance of living things. It is up to the scientists proposing a naturalistic explanation to prove their case.

http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/142452/20110507/texas-controversy-over-teaching-evolution-brews.htm

I can’t believe people still fail to understand how this works. Science isn’t where you go “we can’t explain x, so we’re going to say God did it”, it is “we can’t explain x, so let’s make ourselves understand it well enough to be able to do so by subjecting it to the scientific method”.

In science there are laws, theories, hypotheses, and unfounded nonsense that does not hold up to – or worse, resists – scrutiny. The first three are categorized in descending order of certainty based on research, observing what happens when we recreate the circumstances believed to result in some specific outcome, and the predictability of the results. Some things we can’t test for practical reasons. We can’t test a dog evolving over the course of 150,000 years to see if it sprouts wings or develops language – but we can observe a bacteria developing immunity to a drug that used to eradicate it and suppose that the evolutionary process does manifest itself in other means. We can’t add a second moon to Earth’s orbit to test for changes in the tides, but there is little reason to doubt gravitational theory because nobody has ever tripped over a rock at sea level and fallen upwards into the sky.

As for the unfounded nonsense – that is where intelligent design comes in. You cannot scrutinize it. You cannot explicitly observe or otherwise quantify the existence of “God” in nature. There is no molecule to isolate, and you cannot compare environments where God exists and environments where God does not exist in the way that you can compare environments without oxygen and oxygen-rich environments. And since God cannot be explicitly observed, you cannot perform experiments on it. How does God react to light? To water? What happens if you put God in a jar with sodium and shake it up? You cannot answer any of those questions in the affirmative or the negative. Why? Because God is a construct of faith – in this context, faith based on a sufficient enough amount of arrogance to suggest that you cannot watch the sun come up and claim with a straight face that God didn’t make that happen.

The scientific method seeks to answer all questions and sufficiently explain the questions it can’t thoroughly answer. Intelligent design seeks to put up a sign that says “for more information, please refer to the Bible”. That is not science, and people should not pretend that it is.

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Oh Look

I’m up late. Again. Same reason as last time, too.

Well..

Same cause, but different reason.

In the interest of being as vague as possible, I’ll just say I left something undone over a decade ago, and it’s one of those things you think about for years and kick yourself for not taking care of it when you should have. Maybe one of these days I’ll get a chance to tie up the loose ends… or maybe I won’t, and it’ll keep resurfacing every so often to bother the hell out of me for hours or days at a time – long after we’ve all gotten our flying cars. Come to think of it, that whole time frame where this issue originated wasn’t that great for me personally. I was teetering on the edge of being a full-blown basket case, and actually had somebody tell me later on that I came off like I was going to snap at any moment.

Wouldn’t that have been a trip.

Been extremely busy the last week due to the recent round of tests. Had an Asian civ. test last Friday which was a rehash of material from last year, a comp sci test on Wednesday which I’m fairly certain I did good on, and a Chinese history test tomorrow – technically later on this morning – which I’m not entirely sure about just yet. I misjudged how much time I actually had to get ready for the test, and as a result I ended up putting off reading the two books I had to read until last week. In the end I read about 80% of both of them, taking ridiculous amounts of notes along the way. My experience with the tests the professor in this class gives tells me that should be enough. Oh, and there’s a Japanese test next Tuesday.

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I make a bloggings

So, here’s me right now:

This is after an hour of failing to get to sleep. The dumb thing about going to bed with your mind on stuff is when you can’t take your mind off of that stuff and you end up laying in bed forever running over what you’d do/say, or what you should have done/said. Now if only my flux capacitor worked…

Anyways, we’re about halfway through week 5 of the fall semester. Things are a bit hectic this time around as I’m taking 15 hours of actual classes on top of having to work to cover a several thousand dollar gap that financial aid didn’t cover. And then on top of all that I decided this would be a good time to go volunteer to be MC at this year’s Japan Night, so now I’m committed to attending the occasional rehearsal in preparation for the show in November. I’m still finding time to screw around, such as right now when I’m blogging instead of sleeping, but for the most part I’ve been staying pretty busy. Which isn’t altogether a bad thing.

Ok, so here’s my official review of the trip to San Francisco last month, which I mentioned in this post. The school I checked out was on the west side of town, away from the downtown insanity. I’m not sure if I just got lucky or if that’s how stuff happens out there, but the day I went to the campus it was a full 5-10 degrees cooler than the downtown area (where most of my exploring that weekend took place), and it was foggy on top of that. The campus itself was pretty cool to walk around. I had a pretty good feeling about the visit, and as it happens a return trip is just around the corner – I’m going back to San Francisco to take the JLPT in December, and as it happens it’s being held at SFSU.

As for the rest of the city… definitely cool. I’ve lived in a lot of different places over the years but the one common factor is that they were all for the most part smaller cities. San Francisco has more people in one square mile than Papillion does total. I spent some time staring at tall buildings one evening, and I spent the whole trip figuring out the mass transit system. Probably the best part was there no way I could have seen the whole city in four days. I went to Japantown, the Asian Art Museum, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and I took in a Giants game, but I missed Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Park, and who knows what else.

The most telling thing about the whole trip is that 6 weeks later – long after the initial excitement has worn off – I still want to go back out there on a long-term basis. Even if it means paying through the nose to live there.

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… And the “not so much” things for this week

Now the bad news:

1) My financial aid for the year got pulled. Basically, I was dismissed from school 9 years ago for failure to maintain satisfactory academic progress – an assessment I don’t dispute – and that came back to bite me in the ass when the school went to audit who all was receiving aid this fall. The kick is, although I am technically in good standing with the school for having successfully applied for readmission, I didn’t actually do anything to reverse the situation I was in on campus. The on campus/off campus distinction is important – although I have a full year’s worth of credit transferred in from the community college in Omaha, that does nothing to either help or hinder my progress in Lincoln.

So the short version of this little story is that I rushed down to Lincoln the day after finding out and filed my appeal. I stated that in the interim, I had been slowly racking up transferable credits at another school and that the situation would simply correct itself after 3 months now that my head’s screwed on straight. The committee who oversees these things looked at my appeal and approved it on the condition that I take at least 10 hours’ worth of classes in the fall and pass them all. Fine, they’re all softball classes anyway.

In the meantime I’m looking at private options for the fall term as I think it’s going to be a little tough for me to scare up $7000-$8000 between now and the fall, and I think I’ll be okay in that department. This is just a giant pain in the ass to deal with.

2) The price of the new iPhone. Ok, first of all let’s get something straight here – I realize I’m not the target audience for this contraption. I greatly prefer text messaging to phone conversations, I don’t care one way or the next if I can surf the internet and/or check e-mail when I’m on campus and probably 5 minutes away from a public terminal anyway, and most of all I don’t want to pay $50 or more a month for phone service. Especially when I can get a Skypeout account for like $3 a month. I just jumped on Sprint’s SERO plan, which gets me 500 minutes of talk time and unlimited text messaging for $30 a month. In the whole quest for cell phone service to replace my company phone which is soon going away, that is hands down the best deal I found. By far. That’s the kind of cell phone customer I am. So having said that…

The new iPhone is going to cost $199, whereas the old one used to be $399. Basically a 50% discount. This looked like a really sweet deal, and I was just about ready to take the plunge… then the details started coming out. To wit: the data plan is going to be $10 more a month, and you have to pay $5 extra to get the 200 SMS package that used to be included. Do the math – or better yet, don’t, because it’s already been done:

Steve Jobs himself said the primary reason people weren’t buying iPhones was because of the cost. In response, Apple’s and AT&T’s bean counters diligently moved beans from one pile to the next until they could come up with the biggest crock of shit farce I’ve seen so far – a phone being advertised as “half as expensive” that carries a higher total cost of ownership than its predecessor.

Steve, you are one crafty son of a bitch, but do you really think that’s going to make people jump in line? The iPhone was too expensive before, so now that it’s even more expensive that should fix the problem?

Really, come on.

Uh, I guess the only other thing I don’t like this week is that somehow the Yankees managed to climb out of the AL East cellar. Pinstriped bastards!

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