Tuesday, November 29, 2011

 
I've gathered some quotes that say a lot about our current situation even though they span more than two centuries.  ‎

"The United States of America should have a foundation free from the influence of clergy." 
~ George Washington, Founding Father of the United States of America

“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the Republican party and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.” 
~Barry Goldwater, 5 term Senator from Arizona, credited with recreating Conservatism in the U.S. speaking in Nov.1994

“I was there to take down the names of people who were arrested… As I’m standing there, some African-American woman goes up to a police officer and says, ‘I need to get in. My daughter’s there. I want to know if she’s OK.’ And he said, ‘Move on, lady.’ And they kept pushing with their sticks, pushing back. “And she was crying. And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he throws her to the ground and starts hitting her in the head,” says Smith. “I walk over, and I say, ‘Look, cuff her if she’s done something, but you don’t need to do that.’ And he said, ‘Lady, do you want to get arrested?’ And I said, ‘Do you see my hat? I’m here as a legal observer.’ He said, ‘You want to get arrested?’ And he pushed me up against the wall.”
~New York State Supreme Court Judge Karen Smith during Occupy Wall Street


Senator Sanders, who describes himself as a Democratic Socialist, is a former Representative from Vermont and proof, if proof be needed in the wake of that remark, that some few but courageous members of the U.S. Congress are still working hard and intelligently.


"It  consists half of people who think like Michele Bachmann and half of people who are afraid of losing a primary to people who think like Michele Bachmann and that leaves very little room to work things out."                                                                                                                                  
~Retiring member of Congress Barney Frank on the House of Representatives under Republican control

Friday, November 25, 2011

 

Available from Zazzle.com not, unfortunately, as an inexpensive printed poster but as a fairly high priced stretched canvas art piece. 

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The Gay Meme
 
I got this from RG who got it from Cubby who got it from Dr. Spo who got it from Tiger Chanter – no, it’s not a cold, flu or worse, but The Gay Meme.  It has gone through some editing by the men based, I suspect, on each not caring to answer particular questions.  I’ve added a couple of questions back in, so this one is as “complete” as I can get it.  Please feel free to copy it and answer for yourself.

1. How old were you when you knew you were gay?
I didn’t “know” for some years later, but the first manifestation was at age 5 when the father of a playmate came out of the apartment building across the street and stood there for a while. I was looking out the window.  I couldn’t take my eyes off him and just gazed for several minutes, transfixed by his handsomeness.

2. Have you ever had sex with the opposite sex?
Yes; it was OK but I kept thinking, THIS is what people are so crazy about?  Is there something I'm missing?  Then I had my first homosex -- revelation! - and I knew exactly what I'd been missing.

3. Who was the first person you came out to?
The first guy I had sex with.

4. Are you out to your family?
Yes.

5. Do you want children?
I’ve had children, two magnificent adopted daughters.  Raising them was the central event of my life.

6. Do you have more gay friends or straight friends?
Too many of each kind to count – I’m happy to have great friends of all kinds..

7. Were you out in school?
No.

8. Is your best friend the same sex as you?
Yes.  I married him.

9. If your best friend is the same sex, have you ever had sex with them?
Innumerable numbers of times, starting early in our first date.

10. Have you ever done crystal meth?
No.

11. Have you ever been in a sling?
No.  I always thought it might be fun to try but it isn’t a major need.

12. Have you ever done a 3-way?
 A couple and always most enjoyable.

13. Have you ever dressed in drag?
Once, for fun, one New Years Eve.

14. Would you date a drag queen?
Not my thing—artifice and illusion in sex have never interested me.

15. Are you a top, bottom, or truly versatile?
Versatile top.

16. Have you seen an uncircumcised penis?
Many.  I think they’re very attractive.

17. Have you had sex with someone of a different ethnicity?
Yes.

18. Have you ever barebacked?
Only with my husband.

19. How many Cher CDs do you own?
None.

20. Name of your first love?
Alexander the Great – as a boy I was obsessed with him.

21. Do you still talk to him?
It’s a little late for that.

22. Does size matter?
Size has its attractions, but the man matters more than the measurement.

23. Biggest turn on?
Fun personality, confidence, brains, mischievous sense of humor, body hair, beard, enthusiastic kisser. 

24. Biggest turn off?
Crudity, ignorance, lack of human compassion.  That’s also why I’m a Democrat.

25. Ever been harassed due to your orientation?
Yes.  Once when we were in Georgia or north Florida when a motel desk clerk refused us a room with a double bed.  It was very mild  -- I’ve been lucky.

26. Worst gay stereotype that applies to you?
Huge opera fan (and have made half my career in opera).  And I reject “worst” as I think of it as my best.

27. Ever been to a pride rally?
Several.

28. Would you marry if you could?
I could and did, at the end of the first week it was legal in Massachusetts, on our seventh anniversary.

29. Would you rather be rich and smart or young and beautiful?
Rich and smart.  Whatever level of intelligence I have has allowed me to do many wonderful things and in the coming debacle, having something tucked away is going to be essential.

30. Do you sculpt your eyebrows?
I clip off anything that grows out too long, and trim my nose and ear hair. 

31. Do you trim your body hair?
Not regularly but occasionally for fun.  I once had everything below my neck shaved with a straight razor and talcum powder, one of the most sensual experiences of my life.


 32. Ever had sex with more than one person in a day?
Yes, a couple of times, including my answer to # 12.

33. Ever been to an orgy?
Yes.  My introduction was an elegant dinner party for eight gay men, including a Catholic priest*, that morphed as planned into group sex. 
 * I am SO going to hell, but we knew that already, didn't we?

34. Have you dated your best friends ex?
No.

35. Would you vote for Hillary Clinton if she ran for president?
In a New York minute!

36. Do you want monogamy in your relationships?
Not necessary.  Love is.

37. Do you believe in true love?
Yes!

38. Do you have any tattoos?
Quite a few, including a full back piece.  I’ve done all the art myself, colored and sized exactly as I wanted it on my body.

39. Do you have any piercings?
Earrings.   Since RG and I have had exactly the same experience with nipple piercings, I quote him verbatim: "
At one time, I did have my left nipple pierced, but the scar tissue behind the piercing pushed it out, and the hole sealed up."  In my case I saw it happen.  After having it for thirteen years, it took just four days from beginning to be pushed out to the ring dropping off.

40. Would you date a smoker?
No, I never did. 

41. Do you get HIV tests every 6 months?
No.

42. Do you know anyone who has died from HIV?
Yes: classmates of mine from both the Boston University Theater School and grad school in Theater at Brandeis University.

43. Do you know what Stonewall was?
Of course!

44. Strangest place you have had sex?
On a wrecked early 20th century barrel armchair in the basement of my house in Boston (restored and reupholstered it now sits quite handsomely in our living room.  Memories!)

45. Strangest place you’ve woken up?
In the garage behind a house at or very near the original starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, MA. -- it didn’t have anything to do with sex. 
Runner up: in a room in the Airport Hotel at T.F. Green Airport in Providence, RI,  Only one of the three of us actually was taking a plane the next morning.  It had everything to do with sex. 

46. Are your best years behind or in front of you?
Definitely not behind – the adventure continues!

47. Favorite porn movie?
Thick as Thieves (Kristen Bjorn, dir.).  The last half hour is a gorgeous, extended “sex duet” by two astonishingly beautiful men; close runner up: Island Guardian (Brad Michaels, Adriano Marquez, Will Clark, Trenton Comaux)

48. Are you in love now?
Yes, more than ever.

49. Ever been in love with a straight guy?
A couple of crushes, not love.  I knew better.

50. Did you ever have sex with him?
One of them.

51. Have you ever been to a nude beach?
Yes, the lamented Moonstone Beach on the Rhode Island coast (closed down by prudes on the most bogus of charges); the beautiful Gay Head Beach (aka Aquinna) on Martha’s Vineyard; and a delightful private flooded quarry in Milford, NH.

52. Have you ever been to a bath house?
A hamam in Seville, and the Kiraly Baths in Budapest.  Sex was not involved.

53. Ever had sex in public?
Does in the shrubbery just off the sun deck of a nudist resort in central MA count?

54. Have you ever been/stayed in a relationship for Money or Security, instead of Love and Friendship?
Never.

55. Are you “set in your ways” as it were?
No.  I had enough of that in my family growing up and I saw it as death by self mummification.  One reason I was so attracted to the arts growing up is that they are dynamic, developing and changing constantly.

56. Ever been to Fire Island, Saugatuck, Key West, Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Springs, Provincetown?
Yes – No – Yes – Yes – No -- Yes

57. Are you part of a gay organization?
As in being a “card-carrying” member?  No.  But:
Boston’s AIDS Action Committee: volunteered, regular contributor
Boston’s Theater Offensive: worked with, contributor to, marched with in Boston Pride
New Hampshire Freedom to Marry: worked with and would probably do again to preserve same-sex marriage in this state.

58. Is your gym cruisy?
Planet Fitness in a small New Hampshire town with few out gay men? – no

59. Favorite make out music?
The sound of heavy breathing

60.  Grindr or Scruff? 
I don’t use hook-up sites but from what I know of them, Scruff would be my choice.

61.  What character in The Women do you most resemble?
No idea, as I've never seen the movie, either the original or the recent remake.  Do I have to turn in my gay card now?  :-)


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

 

I have to admit that I've been uncharacteristically pessimistic in my outlook lately.  I don't like what's going on in this country, particularly the big rise in hate directed at so many different groups and the totally unacceptable reality of Republican candidates knuckling under to hate groups by signing oaths to strip GLBT people of rights, partner benefits, personal health benefits, job security, etc. just for being gay.  And the financial insecurities we all may be facing, and which so many are already dealing with, are a growing concern.

So, I'm working to narrow my focus for the next couple of days to those people and things in my personal life that sustain me and bring joy to my life.  Top of the list is my wonderful Fritz who loves me as nobody has ever done, along with my magnificent daughters, their husbands, and my beautiful, vivacious granddaughter.  I am blessed with a large number of friends from coast to coast, from our northern to our southern border and from abroad.  One I have known since I was 18 years old; many came into my life when I met Fritz; a great many others I got to know right here blogging.  I've met a gratifyingly large number of my blog friends and hope to meet more in the future.  I am thankful for your comments, advice, support, and for your senses of humor, laughter being the great healer in "interesting" times.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Monday, November 21, 2011

 

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I kicked this up as far as I could, but any extra effort required to study it is worth the effort in my opinion.  I had known that for the last several years, the Danes and Swedes, et al. kept coming up #1 on surveys of the happiest people on the planet; this chart lays it all out and includes information on how various demographic groups are doing in each country, as well the rate of social justice, the quality of health, and levels of poverty.

And there, right at the top, are all the Scandinavian countries, clustered together with the highest social justice ratings; the United States in in the bottom five with a low social justice rating and a high rate of child poverty.

Now, what makes the Scandinavian countries so successful and their populations so happy?  Among other things, they have high taxes that everyone has to pay, and resulting services that are second to none.  How do they do it?  Well, for one thing they take care of their populations in a manner that routinely gets condemned here as the dread "Socialism!"

This country used to boast the highest standard of living in the world; clearly that isn't true any more, and it's a sad thing giving signs of becoming worse. 


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Word of this latest prediction of the End of the World, The End Times, The Rapture -- whatever -- comes from Joe Jervis at Joe.My.God.  With Harold Camping having retired from the Rapture predicting scam, others have picked up his mantle and are continuing.  The fact that predicting the end of the world has been a major cottage industry from very early christian times, with hundreds and hundreds of prophecies not one of which has ever come through, you think would alert the present day "prophets" to the fact that taking over the franchise is actually a lose/lose situation.

World Net Daily says "experts" are predicting that Satan and Jesus will battle it out in a cage match next year. So put your affairs in order and all that. Oh, and it's the Jews' fault. "Given the rejection of Jesus by orthodox Jews as Messiah, this could herald the coming of Antichrist in 2012."             

Yeah, uh huh.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Thursday, November 17, 2011

 
The story of the lesbian couple who were denied a wedding cake by a mid-western baker has been reported in many places.  This version is from the Huffington Post:


Iowa Baker Denies Wedding Cake To Lesbian Couple

First Posted: 11/14/11 12:48 PM ET   Updated: 11/15/11 08:40 AM ET

An Iowa lesbian couple might have hoped to find a wedding cake that was both delicate and sweet, but they say their experience with a Des Moines-based baker left behind a sour taste.  As KCCI-TV is reporting, the owner of Victoria's Cake Cottage refused to bake a cake for Trina Vodraska and Janelle Sievers, who are planning a June wedding, because she is Christian.

Victoria Childress, who runs her bakery from home, says it's her right as a business owner to turn away customers."I said, 'I'll tell you I'm a Christian, and I do have convictions.' And I said, 'I'm sorry to tell you, but I'm not going to be able to do your cake," Childress, who met the couple during a taste-testing appointment, said. "I didn't do the cake because of my convictions for their lifestyle. It is my right, and it's not to discriminate against them. It's not so much to do with them, it's to do with me and my walk with God and what I will answer [to] Him for."

Though Childress said no condescending remarks were made, the couple says they were nonetheless left feeling humiliated by the experience. "It was degrading," Vodraska said. It was like she chastised us for wanting to do business with her."

__________________________

Do people like this woman ever stop to think of everything in their lives that is done for them, manufactured for them, performed for them, served to them -- by gays and lesbians? Many of their doctors and nurses, their children's teachers, their flight attendants when they fly, TV anchors who report their news, singers, actors and musicians who entertain them, their police and fire fighters, senators, representatives, mayors and city councilors are gay. They're perfectly willing to TAKE from gays and lesbians, their faith apparently isn't challenged or defiled by having their wants and needs provided for by gays and lesbians -- but this person refuses to GIVE even one simple cake? 

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Dorli Rainey is suddenly known nation-wide as the 84 year old lady who was pepper-sprayed by Seattle police (along with a pregnant 19 year old and a priest):




Ms Rainey is no stranger to violent police or military bearing down on innocent citizens -- she is a holocaust survivor who came to the United States and established herself as an activist in support of progressive causes.


From The Atlantic Wire on the Web:
"Born in Austria, Rainey came to the U.S. in 1956 following her work as a technical translator in the U.S. Army in Europe, she explained last year on the Talking Stick, a weekly show on public-access television. Describing why she left Austria she said "it's a great country but it's a really bureaucratic country." She is an activist across a range of issues including non-violence in foreign affairs, feminism and local transportation. In the interview, a sort of celebration of her life's work, she voiced disapproval for the "car takeover" in Seattle and how parking lots are detrimental to the general welfare of the city, among other things.

"The tech-savvy activist also has her own blog called Old Lady in Combat Boots where she describes herself as an "all-around troublemaker." "I believe change begins in the streets, and all citizens have the power to make a difference," she writes in the blog's about section. "Together we can make our voices heard in the ivory towers of government, so lace up your combat boots, log in and turn on!" She hasn't quite kept the blog running: the last post is from 2009. Past posts include articles on feminism and tunnel projects. Other activities include being a member of the Seattle chapter of Women in the Black. According to its website, it's an international network of women who "stand in silent vigil, calling for peace, justice and non-violent solutions to conflict.The Toronto Star exchanged e-mails with Mike McCormick, the producer of the Talking Stick, who said Rainey is "a role model among activists that walks the walk." He added, “She's passionate, thoughtful, well informed, dogged, fearless, in-your-face but not in an intimidating way, warm, caring, humorous, doesn't pull her punches kinda activist you want right next to you when the s--t hits the fan.” " 

The police response to the Occupy protests nationwide has been progressively more violent and I fear that eventually, someone is going to be critically or even fatally injured.  But one thing hasn't changed -- the seemingly invincible ignorance of the Republicans, major corporations, Big Banking, the usual conservative commentators and the Fox "news" channel.  They still maintain they've not been able to discern what the Occupy demonstrators want, what they object to, or if there's any meaning to their protest beyond a kind of infantile snit at the 1% that my generation used to call "The Establishment."

Now, I may be weird — it’s certainly a possibility — but from Day One I have never had the slightest doubt or uncertainty about the issues the Occupy Wall Street protesters wanted to bring to public attention.  The radical, inconceivable, precedent-shattering thing I did was to read their signs and listen to their comments to the media. OMG, I looked, I listened! How bizarre of me. I did nothing any closed-minded, billionaire-protecting, corporate-owned Republican couldn't have done, and I learned what the protesters wanted.

Of course, I was interested in learning.

Ms Rainey was interested in more than just learning because she already knew; she was determined to make her voice heard and to inspire others to maintain the exercise of their Constitutionally-protected right to gather peacefully and express dissent, something I was taught in school was one of our greatest rights, a right that set us apart from and above other nations.  And for this, a aged woman who had survived the Third Reich and had come to the U.S. because of its promised freedoms, got noxious chemicals shot into her face.

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Quite by coincidence, an opera on the theme of dissent by young people has just opened in New York City.  Here are a few excerpts from the review in the NY Times:

Preoccupying Opera: Youthful Acts of Dissent
by Anthony Tomassini

There are many impressive things about “Kommilitonen!,” the new opera by Peter Maxwell Davies, with a libretto by David Pountney, which had its American premiere at the Juilliard School on Wednesday night.  “Kommilitonen!,” which loosely translates from the German as “fellow students,” is an exploration of political activism and protest movements that entwines three stories based on real people. One concerns the black student James Meredith, who in 1962, in the face of violent opposition, compelled the segregated University of Mississippi to enroll him. Another focuses on two Chinese students caught up in the Cultural Revolution, who were forced to denounce their parents, dedicated schoolteachers. The final story involves a brother and sister in Nazi Germany who joined the White Rose resistance movement but were caught and executed.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Mr. Pountney said that “Kommilitonen!” was conceived in 2008, when “there wasn’t any” student activism. By the time of the premiere earlier this year, protests had broken out worldwide.

On Wednesday about two dozen protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement stood outside the Juilliard building. I spoke with a couple, who said they were not protesting Juilliard, though there were denunciations of David H. Koch, the billionaire supporter of right-wing causes and of arts institutions. They were there, they said, to continue their campaign on behalf of the 99 percent and show that activism is alive. One protester invoked the last line of the opera: “There is no quota on freedom.”


The final performances of “Kommilitonen!” are on Friday night and Sunday afternoon at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater of the Juilliard School, 155 West 65th Street, Lincoln Center; (212) 721-6500, juilliard.edu.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

 
The Washington Post's On Faith forum featured a guest column today by Jesuit priest James Martin S.J. on the striking parallels between the Catholic Church pedophile priest scandal and the current Penn State University pedophile debacle.

As someone who was raised Catholic and sent to strict Catholic schools, I have always been ambivalent about the Jesuits.  I know that their education is longer and far more intellectually rigorous than that of any other religious order in the Catholic Church.  Aside from the gay and gay-friendly parish priests I've been lucky to know, if any Catholic clergy person is capable of critical thinking and analysis rather than endlessly regurgitating the party line, it is very likely to be a Jesuit.  On the other hand, I also know that the Jesuits were founded to be major agents of the Counter Reformation, organized along military lines of discipline to combat the spread of Protestantism and to fan out through the world and convert "pagans" and "heathens" to keep them from being converted by Protestant  missionaries; Jesuits therefore bear responsibility for the destruction of many native cultures and spread of fatal European diseases throughout the world.

But Father Martin is strictly fair and able to accept the culpability of Catholic hierarchy in enabling and then covering up pedophilia by priests and members of the hierarchy itself.  More importantly, he explores the underlying political and psychological reasons, as he explains in this excerpt from his Washington Post column:

"But I would like to focus on another area that has received little attention in the church, and which may help to shed light on what may still happen in State College.  Several years ago, I was invited to address a conference for psychologists and psychiatrists on the topic of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, held at a large teaching hospital in New York City. My own presentation focused on the ways that the sexual crisis came about in the church, that is, the factors that allowed priests to continue to abuse, and bishops to overlook the abuse. (Clergy from other denominations offered their perspectives as well.) Immediately following my presentation a psychiatrist stood to present his paper.  And what he said astonished me.

"There were, he explained, two main characteristics of the sexual abuser: narcissism and grandiosity. The narcissist is almost entirely focused on his own needs and personal gratification. Think of it this way, suggested the psychologist: When an emotionally healthy person accidentally does something offensive to someone, and notices another person recoil or senses a feeling of discomfort in the other, the healthy person will stop, because he or she respects the needs of others. To take a benign example, if you are speaking to someone at a party and physically move too close, accidentally invading someone’s “personal space,” you may notice the other person take a step back.  If you are healthy, you will say to yourself, “I’m making someone feel uncomfortable.” And you will take a step back as well.
When the narcissist, however, experiences another person’s recoil or discomfort, he will not take that step back. He will not consider the other’s feelings. He may not even notice those feelings. Why?

Because, as the saying goes, “it’s all about him.” The narcissist’s needs are paramount. This, in part, helps to explain the tragic tendency of the abuser to continue to abuse even when the other is clearly suffering. Though I have never witnessed an actual case of abuse first hand, it is not hard to imagine the suffering that must be evident on the face of the child or young person. The healthy person registers this emotional response; the narcissist does not.

"The second quality is grandiosity. Many abusers, explained the psychologist, are typically grandiose men and women. The grandiose person is often the “Pied Piper,” the one who easily gathers around him students, football players, altar boys, or even adults. Often a larger-than-life character, he may be the charismatic founder of an organization, the successful president of a school, the beloved teacher, the energetic Scout master, the popular pastor or the well-respected principal. Children and adolescents gravitate towards him because of his charisma; and, more importantly, because of his exalted status adults may feel more comfortable leaving their children in his care.

"Let me be clear about something else: I’m no psychologist, and no expert in sexual abuse, so I cannot offer any further data other to say this: these words struck me with the force of a lightning bolt. Why? Because the majority of priests I knew who had been removed from ministry because of abuse claims showed precisely these two qualities. And in the case of Jerry Sandusky, Penn State football’s defensive coordinator accused of sexual abuse, we see some signs of both: the narcissist (who-allegedly commits rape despite the terrible suffering it causes) and the grandiose Pied-Piper (who founds a center for boys).  But there is a further problem, one that is not often spoken about.

"In my experience, after the conviction or removal from office or ministry, those two qualities merge in the person with the terrible consequences. And these consequences make it far more difficult for the institution to address such cases. The grandiose narcissist now focuses almost exclusively on his own suffering. His removal from office, or from ministry, he believes, is the worst thing that has happened to anyone, and he (or she) laments this fate loudly and frequently. Because of his narcissism he focuses almost entirely on his own troubles; because of his grandiosity he inflates them to ridiculous proportions. He suffers the most.

"Even more dangerous: he draws others into his net, and the suffering of the real victims, those whose lives have been shattered, is overlooked-even by otherwise intelligent and well-meaning people. The focus of those within the institution is shifted onto the person they know, rather than the victims that they may not know. “Poor Father,” some parishioners may say, “how he suffers.” It is difficult for a diocese, a religious order, a school, or indeed members of any institution to resist the powerful pull of the grandiose narcissist. Indeed, people often seem unaware that they are being deluded into an overblown sympathy for the wrong “victim.”"

The link below leads to the entire column which is very much worth reading, but the heart of it is quoted above.
 http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/a-priests-view-of-penn-state/2011/11/13/gIQAcevnHN_blog.html

Relevant to one of Fr. Martin's points, I was pleased to see on today's news that yesterday's Penn State game included a moment of silence for the boys who had been molested.   In the riots after the revelation and subsequent firings, the support of the protesters was all for the perpetrators and those who covered up for them.  That there was finally concern for the young victims is a healthier sign.

Here is part of James Martin's official Jesuit biography:

"James Martin, S.J., is a Jesuit priest, author and associate editor of America, the national Catholic magazine (he also blogs at “In All Things,” the new editorial blog from America magazine). Father Martin graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in 1982, where he received a bachelor’s degree in finance. After working for six years in corporate finance with General Electric Co., he entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1988.

"For his regency, he worked for two years with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Nairobi, Kenya, where he helped East African refugees start small businesses. In 1995, Father Martin began his theology studies at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology, in Cambridge, Mass., where he received his master’s degree in divinity in 1998, and his master’s in theology in 1999. While in Cambridge, he also worked as a chaplain at a Boston prison. After completing his Jesuit studies, he was ordained a Catholic priest in June 1999."

The number of journals and newspapers to which he has contributed pieces is enormous.  He also has five books published, the most interesting  (particularly to me as a designer and writer in the performing arts) is A Jesuit Off-Broadway: Center Stage with Jesus, Judas and Life's Big Questions.  The book is a record of the six months he spent working with the LAByrinth Theater Ensemble assisting in the development of the script for "The Last days of Judas Iscariot."

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I got this from Fritz who got it from his sister; he's anxious for me to share it with you all:

Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) -- a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

I'll say right up front that I'm still working out exactly where that sits on the political spectrum, but if nothing else, I believe the word itself aptly describes how our government is (non)functioning at this moment in our history, along with several other governments around the world.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

 

The info in this graphic has been put out in a wide variety of forms but it needs to be repeated often.  For all their self-proclaimed superiority as advocates of smaller government and fiscal responsibility, our debt crisis can be laid directly at the feet of Republican presidents.

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Blog pal Jess Bunshaft (splenda in the grass) reported on Facebook tonight that Channel 11 in New York has hired a new traffic reporter, the splendid looking Nathan Kamp (above, in case you hadn't figured it out).  What makes the hire so . . . interesting is that Nathan's official job title is actor/model.  He's very much at home posing for "the majority of covers of romance novels" in various states of undress, according to one website that features him.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  I expect a spike in ratings as a lot of new viewers switch to Channel 11 news.  Some of them may even be interested in traffic.

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I was following the vote counts in various states around the country and, like many others I'm sure, I was surprised and delighted at the results.  The architect of Arizona's severe immigration law was recalled by the voters.  The anti-union law was defeated by the voters in Ohio.  That city in Michigan will retain its protections for gays and lesbians.  I looked at the vote counts for the Virginia legislature and found that three Democrats had been elected for every two Republicans, and that Virginians elected their very first openly gay state senator.  All across the country, openly gay candidates were elected as state Senators and Representatives and in New Jersey, the first openly gay African-American mayor in that state.

The biggest surprise, certainly, was the resounding defeat of the "Personhood" Amendment in Mississippi.  A subsidiary surprise was that the Catholic Church in Mississippi came out against the Amendment as election day neared, calling it too extreme.  The various groups who advocate stripping women of their reproductive rights, and their protections should they be hospitalized during pregnancy, are vowing to introduce identical amendments in five other states.  But you have to wonder: if it couldn't be passed in the deep South, can it pass anywhere?  

Most of all I wonder if what happened yesterday is in any way a predictor of the results in the far bigger, vitally important presidential election next year?


Sunday, November 06, 2011

 
I certainly hope so!

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I haven't done a meme in ages but this one caught my attention:

1. Name a TV show series in which you've seen every episode at least twice: None; I like TV but am not obsessed with it.

2. Name a show you can’t miss: Big Bang Theory

3. Name an actor that would make you more inclined to watch a show: Tim Bagly, Tyne Daly, Clark Gregg, Malcolm Gets, W.H. Macy, Christine Baransky, Hamish Linklater

4. Name an actor who would make you less likely to watch a show: David Spade

5. Name a show you can, and do, quote from: The Carol Burnett Show

6. Name a show you like that no one else that you know enjoys:  BBC World News
[except for Fritz]

7. Name a TV show which you’ve been known to sing the theme song: A: none   B: you don't want to hear me sing

8. Name a show you would recommend everyone to watch: The Colbert Report

9. Name a TV series you own: None (see #1)

10. Name an actor who launched his/her entertainment career in another medium, but has surprised you with his/her acting choices in television: Dolly Parton

11. What is your favorite episode of your favorite series? Carol Burnett’s Gone with the Wind take off.

12. Name a show you keep meaning to watch, but you just haven’t gotten around to yet:  Real Time with Bill Maher 

13. Ever quit watching a show because it was so bad?  Saturday Night Live (pathetic writing); Grey's Anatomy (endless crises as they all sleep with each other in every possible combination imaginable).

14. Name a show that’s made you cry multiple times: Carol Burnett – with laughter

15. What do you eat when you watch TV?  A small bowl of Grape Nuts with plain soy milk and a very little bit of sugar

16. How often do you watch TV?  Only when there’s something on worth watching, meaning not a lot

17. What’s the last TV show you watched? Masterpiece Contemporary

18. What’s your favorite/preferred genre of TV? Documentary, now that the Variety Show is dead

19. What was the first TV show you were obsessed with? Captain Video and his Video Rangers

20. What TV show do you wish you never watched?  Fox News – any of it

21. What’s the weirdest show you enjoyed?  Any show on which Michele Bachmann explains American History -- totally surreal

22. What TV show scared you the most?  Any show on which Ann Coulter was being interviewed

23. What is the funniest TV show you have ever watched?  Moonlighting

24. What show was canceled too early into it's run?   $#*! My Dad Says, Sports Night


Thursday, November 03, 2011

 
The quickie marriage of Britney Spears certainly got its share of derision but I think it's being matched or exceeded by the ridicule that's being heaped on Kim Kardashian.  Compared to Britney's 55 hours or whatever it was, Kim's 72 days almost qualifies her as an old married lady.  I suspect that part of the jeering is due to the obscene orgy of spending that ran the wedding well into multimillion dollar territory.  And in the wake of the Kardashian divorce, comments are reappearing like magic that gay couples who have been together for decades have their relationships dismissed as valueless, while celebrities can marry and divorce within weeks (if not days) without the slightest fundamentalist Christian disapproval -- if they're heterosexual.

One development has been a calculator for gay and lesbian couples to find out how long they've been together in terms of Kardashians, here used as a unit of measure representing 72 days of marriage. See how many Kardashians you've been married by going to http://bryanforbes.github.com/kardashian-calc/

Fritz and I, for example have been married for 73.29 Kardashians or 14 years and 6 months.  The calculator is very easy to use -- just enter the date your relationship began and the date you use the calculator in 00/00/0000 form.  On the site, the calculator looks like this non-working screen capture.



The answer is delivered in an instant.

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Fritz and I surveyed the damage to trees on the property after the recent storm.  There was wind but the greatest amount of damage was done by the heavy, wet snow that fell on trees that had not dropped leaves mostly still green as a result of our extended summer that lasted almost to November.  We were lucky that there was no damage to the Center, the old house, or the barn -- but among the fruit trees it was carnage.  One apple tree destroyed completely, one knocked completely down (a small part might be salvaged); one cherry tree destroyed, one peach tree gone, another with major branches ripped off.  A tall sycamore had every branch either ripped off or cracked and hanging; a small pine went over and there were branches everywhere from black walnuts, maples, oaks, etc. 

In New Hampshire there were some 315,000 homes and businesses with no electricity in spite of aggressive tree cutting activities by PSNH (Public Service of New Hampshire).  As of this morning about 34,000 still have no power, meaning in most cases no heat, no cooking, no phone, internet and cable, and no water if they pump their water from wells.  Several hospitals closed, many school systems are still closed.   It's worse in Massachusetts.  We were insanely lucky to get our power back in 27 hours; for others it will be a week.

The three highest number of electric outages in state history were for the 2008 ice storm, the 2009 wind storm and this latest October 2011 storm.  New England's storms are getting are more intense and powerful, obviously, just as heat waves are getting longer and hotter nationwide, the rain storms hitting the northwest are bigger and more destructive -- and the tornadoes are becoming more powerful and cover greater swaths of countryside and cityscape when they touch down.

But there are other factors.  A growing population is one of course, but the big one is the continuing failure of the utilities to put the lines underground.  They apparently prefer to spend millions of dollars putting the lines back up year after year only to have them ripped down again almost immediately by these storms.  I think a wise utility would look at the weather and resulting outage trends and take the proper measures.  Our power, phone, cable and internet lines, however, remain vulnerably up in the air. 


                                                                                                                                                                                                      

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