Site navigation

My neurons at work, for all the Web to see

Archives

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Murdering Bastards and their High-Rise Accomplices

A few days ago, a gentle nun named Dorothy Stang was killed, apparently by henchmen working for loggers working to deplete the Amazon rain forest.

Stang had been working with the native population on sustainability issues. Apparently, she rocked too many boats.

The problem goes deeper than just a contract hit. You see the banks in Los Angeles and Miami? You see the high rises in those cities? The expensive cars, the fancy clothes? Much of these acoutrements of wealth are owned by those with investments in Third World nations.

While some of those investments, such as high-tech, are perfectly legit, some imported Third World wealth we see here is either directly, or indirectly attributed to real estate gains derived from rape of the land.

Can't tell you how much this pisses me off.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Even In Death, "Death Of A Salesman" Author Speaks For Me

The other day, I was asked if I plan to retire at some point in the future.

To that, I refer to the words of master playwright Arthur Miller, who died this week.

"It is what I do," he said in a 1996 interview with The Associated Press.

"It is my art. I am better at it than I ever was. And I will do it as long as I can. When you reach a certain age you can slough off what is unnecessary and concentrate on what is. And why not?"

Friday, January 28, 2005

"Russell Shaw Felt The Sea's Irresistible Tug"

From time to time, I like to track the adventures of my namesakes. And, there are plenty of them out there.

I've just read an article on the Australian Broadcasting Company Web site in which several people who lived and worked in large Australian metro areas decided to move to the Australian coast. The interviews were conducted by journalist Irris Makler as part of a documentary called "Sea Change."

Makler introduced Russell Shaw as a businessman and banker whose love of the sea overcame the business practicalities of living and working in a big city - in his case, Sydney. Russell moved with his family out to Byron Bay 10 years ago.

Russell said that when he moved, he got into teaching, but also became a "property developer with a conscience."

Byron Bay sounds like one of those places where property developers are not looked upon favorably, Russell says he knows that. If he builds or even proposes an unpopular development, well, he might run into an opponent at the pub.

What really impressed me is that Russell says that even though Byron Bay does not abound with a huge amount of waiting-to-be-plucked business opportunities, it is a more quiet place- yet a place where you can make your mark if you are determined to do so.

All this touches a chord with me. Eight years ago, I moved from a noisy, sprawling metro area to be a bit closer to the ocean. I am not a developer (OK, maybe a bit of a Web developer) but when I moved out here to Portland I felt I could make my mark while acquiring the inner peace I was seeking.

As a result of that experience, I can relate to the fact that sometimes, natural surroundings can exert a pull on us that can defeat the workaholic-driven, business exigencies inside our heads.


Friday, January 07, 2005

A Note For Amber Frey

When I last checked, your book about the Scott Peterson trial was number 2 on the Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble best seller lists. Far higher than my books, I must admit.

Amber, you've made mistakes via your heart before. You were lonely, confused and looking for love. Then comes a smooth talker, and you were needy, and you fell into his arms. As exactly as I have done, with women I should have not.

But he held you with the same arms that tossed the mother of his child, as well as his nearly born child, into San Francisco Bay.

But you don't use your arms for killing. You're a massage therapist who uses your arms to heal. And, when the day's work is over, to love. I've known the therapeutic touch and amorous love of one sweet LMT, so I understand the art and heart of the healer.

So many months of self-doubt, of the public spotlight, of fighting the hurt and betrayal. So many months of missing the work you need to do to feed your daughter, and yourself.

So when I see that your book is selling great, and they are going to make a movie of it, I say, go for it. You deserve it. Although nothing can erase the hurt of being betrayed by someone who turned out to be the embodiment of cruelty, do well and live well with your new fortune.

Be healed, as you heal.

What The Universe Has Taught Me About The Implausibility of Long-Distance Relationships

Yesterday, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and his wife announced they were divorcing. Seems as though her career made it necessary for her to spend most of her time in New York, and despite deep pockets and fast jets, the long-distance relationship didn't work. As one of their friends said to a wire service reporter, "what kind of a marriage is that?"

I have tried to kindle or rekindle several long-distance relationships. Ironically, three of the four that come most readily to mind were with women based in San Francisco.

In no case did they work. The first was back in 1988. I met her at a ferry dock, at an broadcast industry press event. We got on a tour boat, decided to sit together, ordered a bottle of cab. Less than two hours later, while sailing under the Golden Gate, we were in each others arms. That evening, we kissed Frenchly as she dropped me off at my hotel. When I got back to Atlanta, where I was living at the time, we stayed in touch, thinking "this could work," but we soon fell out of touch. She may be in Vegas now, but I am not sure.

Then, we move to 1992. That was shaping up to be a rough autumn for me. Two women I had been seeing found new boyfriends. Then, I got sent to the Bay Area to cover a trade show. After that was completed, I picked up a copy of a local paper with the express intent of finding something to do that Saturday evening in and at a place where I could revalidate my social chops and self-worth by meeting someone. I met a nice woman who has visited me twice in Portland. I remember back in 1998, when her cat was dying, and she kept calling me on my cell, quivering and wanting assurance. I cannot say if being in the same city would have helped. She's been living with her boyfriend for a couple years on, now.

Then there was another woman who I knew in the early 1990s and then recontacted while on a business trip to SF in 2001. We have stayed in touch, but the requisite elements have never really congealed. I find it ironic that four hours into my first date with the woman I now am with, and just a few seconds after we first held hands, a little boy walked past us, wearing a tee shirt bearing the name of the destination that SF woman had just gone to with her lover. A generic version of that moment's affect on me even was incorporated into the acknowledgements of my new book.

So yesterday, I flew into SF on the way from Vegas back home, and I see the headline about Gavin Newsom and his wife throwing up their hands at a long-distance relationship that didn't work. I figured, they are each worth millions, jet fare is no problem, but even they - people of perks and privilege - couldn't make it work. I feel bad for them, but as for me, I feel vindicated.

Vindicated not only for the lesson, but for the omen. I was thinking about the last long-distance relationship non-starter, and here, on this very day (my first in SF since she dropped da bomb on me), was a testament to the implausibility of LDRs from the Mayor - the very top civic symbol- of the very same city in which she lives.

Then, on the hop from SF back home to Portland, several omen-type things went down. The plane was late taking off due to baggage problems... the delay was kind of a reminder that getting back and forth from SF to Portland is a bigger hassle than I sometimes think. Then, as the onboard video feature showed scenes from a county where this woman's lover lives, the audio soundtrack on the channel I was listening to played a song by a singer whose last name is exactly the same as that of her lover. And the song that came on at that moment was a tune that although a hit four years after her birth, described her dating style, and her pursuer's bewilderment about why he even bothers - almost to a tee.

When I landed, though all was OK. For you see, just outside the baggage claim area, waiting patiently for me, was she who is love for me. The same one who I was with and first held my hand when that little boy walked by with that tee shirt, which bore the name of the place the woman from SF - the city I had just flown in from - was at with a man who was not me.

Listen to the universe. It teaches us. And, if we learn and then follow the lessons it teaches us, it can heal us, too,

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Russell Shaw, 1960-2004

From today's Scotsman newspaper:

"A surfer whose body was recovered from the sea near St Ives on Boxing Day was today named as 44-year-old Russell Shaw.

Mr Shaw, from Tresillian, near Truro, was pulled from the waves at Godrevy Point at 1pm on December 26.He was taken by air ambulance to the Royal Cornwall Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Police have said the death is not being treated as suspicious."

Russ, I didn't know you, but we shared more than our name. I can tell from where you were found that we've both had a love for the sea..to be in it, on it, at it, and I must presume, to derive sustenance from it.

The sea, its inconstance so much in the news, sang to you, as it does to me. Even though they have removed your body from the water, I suspect your spirit will be there always.

Go well with the waves, mate.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Attention News Orgs: The Tsunami Has Drowned 58,000 Times More People Than Scott Peterson Did

Number of people who drowned as a result of Scott Peterson's vicious actions: 2.

Number of people who drowned as a result of the tsunami's vicious actions: 117,000 plus.

In apportioning minutes and column inches for coverage, I would like to see news organizations exercise the proper perspective.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

If Target Does Not Allow The Kettle, They Won't Get My Money

I'm more one for unexpectedly long-lasting oil lamps than I am for mangers and creches.

That said, I am very, very angry that Target has banned Salvation Army bell-ringers from their property.

Target does give corporately, true. Yet given the need for the assistance that the Salvation Army provides, I wonder how many less fortunate folks will do without - only because the Salvation Army will not have direct access to the largesse of millions of Target shoppers.

OK, let me do what little I can to right this grevious wrong.

Make an online pledge to the Salvation Army here.

Target's main competitor Wal-Mart does allow the bell-ringers. Shop there instead. Here's a link to a page where you can find a Wal-Mart store in your area.
Meet The Fuckers

There. I said it for you, Hollywood, you derivative bunch of focus-group-testing, ecstasy-taking, poker-addicted non-voting-even-though-you-tell-us-how-to-vote mother fuckers.

I have no intention of going to see "Meet The Fockers." It could very well be a fun movie, but on hearing the title, it sounded like an oh-so-shallow play on words - a wink to a word that could never be in a title, but is strewn about in most movies.

"Meet The Fuckers." Hah. Gonna say it again. "Meet The Fuckers."

Neh, neh. Ooh, that felt good.

One mo' time? What the fuck. " MEET THE FUCKERS."

I have met "the fuckers.." more of them than I care to specify in this space.


Wednesday, December 08, 2004

I Identify

News accounts of a strange whale with no pod, who for the last 12 years has roamed the ocean alone...

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Rappers: Remember Who Got You Here

Let me tell you about the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Founded by Dr. Martin Luther King in 1957, it bravely fought for equal rights, and helped achieve integration of schools, workplaces, and accomodations. These developments in turn, set the tone for being black, proud, and if the temperament is appropriate, self-assertive.

It was my privilege as a journalist to know Dr. Joseph Lowery, a key SCLC figure in the 1970s and 1980s.

Now, the SCLC is hurting. It owes $46,000 in back taxes, as well as unspecified additional amounts to other creditors.

Remember what I said earlier... that the SCLC helped achieve integration of accomodations.

Somewhere tonight there is a star rapper and his 25-member posse. They are staying at a fancy hotel in a downtown district where, not all that many years ago, the hotel was for whites only. And, if that star rapper and members of his posse count back just a few generations, they would find sharecroppers and slaves.

This week, the posse will probably spend as much money on the road as in the SCLC's annual budget. In just a few days, they are likely to spend in excess of what the SCLC owes the taxman.

And don't even get me started on the value of the gold chains the rapper and his posse are wearing.

I'm not saying give back your gold chains, or stay in cheap digs. But if even one of these self-absorbed rappers stepped up to the plate for the SCLC, I would respect the genre more.
Do Celebrities Really Vote?

As a former entertainment journalist, I went on the road with my first celebrity some 30 years ago. It was the band War, a great group known for such hits as "Cisco Kid," "Slippin' Into Darkness" and "All Day Music."

Since then, I've interviewed hundreds of famous people, including many more entertainers.

Forgive me for being skeptical, but when I see entertainers encourage their fans to vote, I have to wonder if they vote themselves. My skepticism is driven by the insularity that most famous musicians and actors have.

Just a hunch or a gut call, but somehow I have trouble visualizing P Diddy or the guy from OutKast filling out a ballot - even an absentee one. They run with their huge posses, but do they involve themselves in tasks that do not relate directly to themselves? I applaud their efforts to get out the vote, but when it comes to celebrities doing the work of ordinary folks such as you or I, put me down as skeptical.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Ya Think?

This new research paper from the Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences says that when we sense fearful facial expressions on the part of others, we too become afraid and want to flee.

I don't have a Ph.D., but isn't the report's central assertion rather obvious?
As Ye Vote, So Shall Ye Reap

I have to watch my back here, so I will keep my references generic.

I know a woman who almost always votes Republican, yet galavants around various waterside resorts with one of her lovers or, umm, friends. And, she occasionally can be found on some singles Web sites looking for even more guys to provide her with entertainment for the moment.

Yesterday I heard "Maneater" by Hall & Oates. The lyrics fit this woman pretty durn accurately, even down to the Jaguar that I believe one of her rich friends owns.

Back to politics. I assume that due to actuarial realities, the man she voted for will appoint the judge that will eventually cast the margin that will overturn Roe v. Wade.

Although it is not likely that abortion rights will be overturned in the state where she now lives, it would be fitting if she were to find herself in a post-Roe "dilemma."

I really don't wish that on her, but if it happens, at least she knows guys that will fix the problem. Millions of other American women do not.
You Gotta Have Heart

Today I've learned that famed railroad videographer David Goodheart died of a massive heart attack at age 57. I was an admirer of his, and am saddened by this news.

But the irony is inescapable. Just goes to show that surnames don't necessarily describe the person.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Thirteen Motorized Wheelchairs Or One JDAM?

We're bombing Fallujah right the fuck now.

According to the Navy League Web site, a JDAM bomb costs a minimum of $23,000 each.

The other day, I saw a woman strain with all her strength to push her manual wheelchair across the street, in traffic.

According to 1-800-Wheelchairs, a motorized wheelchair costs about $1700.

So, factoring in shipping costs, you can buy 13 motorized wheelchairs for the cost of one bomb dropped in a city where no one attacked us, and is in a nation that had no WMD.

13 motorized wheelchairs, for enduring quality of life, vs. one bomb, dropped in an instant, cratered to the sidewalk.

13 motorized wheelchairs for one bomb.

You want to talk to me about "morals?"


COASTOPIA: A DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

This is making the rounds of the Web and the Blogosphere. Although this is not of my own writing, I figured I would post it here as well.

Ladies and gentlemen, you needn't fret anymore. We have decided that we can't live in the United States anymore, because so many of you in the "heartland" are so full of shit. We were all going to move to various other countries, but then we thought - why should WE move?

We are tired of rednecks in Oklahoma picking the leader who will determine if it is safe for us to cross the Brooklyn Bridge. We are sick of homophobic knuckle-draggers in Wyoming contributing to the national debate on our gay marriages. So we have done the only thing we could.

We seceded.

May I present to you: AMERICAN COASTOPIA. That's right, American Coastopia. The states of Washington, Oregon and California are joining us on one coast, and we will provide all of New England.

In the middle of the country, we have taken Iowa and Illinois, mostly because we need the fine produce of Iowa's soil, and the museums in Chicago are fabulous.

Oh yes, we're taking Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina too. I'm not going to live in a country without the Tar Heels. (And Duke? You're being moved to Greensboro, just like Wake Forest was. Sorry! Assholes.)

The other dot is New Orleans, which you don't deserve. American Coastopia needs a place to gamble, and the locals want nothing to do with you. Sure, you can visit, but it isn't part of your country anymore.

I can sense your worry. Who will get all the banks? You can fucking have most of them, because we're taking downtown and midtown Manhattan back, turning the whole thing into a giant artist colony replete with movie studios and progressive think tanks. Wall Street and other financial institutions will be relocated to Charlotte, which we believe will suit your needs better. Frankly, the good folks in Manhattan are sick of being a terrorist target for your benefit.

A word about our politics. Abortions will be safe and legal in American Coastopia, and homosexual men and women will be free to marry at their discretion. We will have our own currency, and trade with any countries we want. Everyone will have health care. Everyone will have an identity card. Homelessness and unemployment will be virtually unknown. We believe in a meritocracy and a huge chasm between church and state. 100% of our cars will be hybrid by 2006.

Yes, we're taking all the people that ever created everything beautiful. Yes, we're taking all the funny people too. All the sculptors, architects, surgeons, philosophers, violinists and fishermen.
You should have treated them better when you had them.

We hold our noses as we fly over you. We are sickened by the way you treat people that are different from you. The rest of the world despises America, and we don't want to be lumped in with you anymore.

Please, all of you who went to bed last night sick with worry, come to us. In American Coastopia, the light is always on, the hazelnut lattés are always hot, and we have a trundle bed for each and every one of you.
Red State-r?

Well, then, if you voted for Bush because of "moral issues," well, then, your "morals" are not the same as mine.

You preach the virtues of family life. I was raised in a loving home, and my parents were married for 41 years. But there are conditions that make this impossible for others to endure. It's not the hairdresser and the ballet dancer, nor the phone installer and her beautician girlfriend that shack up. It's the outsourcing of jobs - maybe even your job - by the same employer who donated to, and voted for, the same person you did.

Maybe you first became aware of morals four years ago, when you refused to vote for a candidate who worked with a man who stained a dress of a woman who was not his wife. But what about staining the tundra? Which was a bigger sin?

And to think you bought into the Swift Boat Liars. Let me tell you something. Jim Rassmann, a lifelong Republican and like me, an Oregon resident, was there. You weren't. This is an honorable man, who, unlike the talk show hosts you revere, doesn't do Oxycontin or participate in phone sex with an underling.

So go back to whatever comforts you, but the next time I fly over your county, look for an arched index finger about 33,000 feet up.


Friday, October 29, 2004

Roving Editor?

In a tape released today, Osama Bin-Laden attacks Bush's courage and even evokes Michael Moore's "My Pet Goat" scenario. I am far from a conspiracy theorist, but it could be that the tape was received a few months ago. It could have been surrepetitiously routed through to Al-Jazeera to air at this time, three days befor the election with the belief that this personal attack would help Bush by spotlighting the enemies he is "fighting" and "protecting us from." I wouldn't put any of this past Karl Rove.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Remember This Well

Long-distance relationships do not work. You plan for the wonderful weekends, but it is the mundanities of day-to-day living that constitute the foundation.

And without proximity, LDRs are prone to misinterpretation and miscommunication.

Do yourself a favor. Don't go there, as I have in the past. But not now. Never again.
Attention X-Chromosomers: Bush Wants To Control Your Life!

In the latest New York Times poll, 48 percent of women supported the president, compared with Kerry's 43 percent - a reversal from July, when Kerry had the women's vote 52 to 40 percent.

My broader take on the issue is that the real gender gap is not between women and men. It is between single women and married women.

2000 exit polling showed Bush and Gore equal among married women, but Gore with almost twice thevote of Bush among single and divorced women.

And if you take into account the fact that African-American and Latino voters of both genders tend to vote alike, more along the lines of ethnicity rather than gender, the problem is white, married women.

Easy to project why. Although denominations and people differ, the very act of marriage confers a respect for tradition, for what some call "values." The married, nested female may feel secure in everything from her husband, to her career, to her health benefits, to her contraception, and sees the bigger threat with taxes, maybe even something like that Chechen school happening here.

Yet for many single, divorced, or unattached but signif. other-tethered women, there is not the safety net that marriage *apparently* provides. For these women, the act of being sexual does not require traditional sanctification rites -- but does require a modicum of reproductive freedom that Kerry seeks to guarantee but Bush opposes. So it would be natural for many women of that age to go for Kerry. Also, divorced women have - at times with much personal pain- gone through the changes, from apparent security in the nest to being on their own, and would favor the candidate that allows them the most determinative set of freedoms while they are on their own.

Add to that, Kerry is a poor campaigner. Everything out of his mouth seems to be a focus-group tested slogan. That was also the case with Gore -- I guarantee you that Tipper kiss came out of a consultant's mind. Bush has his focus groups and consultants too, but Bush, as did Clinton, has better over-the-shoulder stagecraft.

Kerry better do well in the debates. Only by a miracle did we not experience any Supreme Court vacancies this term.


Friday, July 09, 2004

Hey Jeri!Resistance Is NOT Futile

Jeri (Seven Of Nine) Ryan married a rich Republican banker. Maybe she loved him, but would she have even looked at him if he was Jack Ryan, working stiff? Seven of Nine...million?


I just wonder if this guy got elected to the Senate, would he have bucked his party to defend the right of one of the strippers in the kinky sex clubs he apparently liked to attend, to terminate a pregnancy generated from kinky sex? Or any kind of sex?

At least this time around, Ms. Materialistic is dating a storyteller (Trek's Brannon Braga)not a money-hoarder.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Anicia Lane, June 16, 1952-July 8,1988

I've never loved any woman more than her.
She loved me as much, if not more than any woman ever has.
She was so many things to me: gentle lover, my best friend.
Today, I mark not this gentle Quaker's premature and painful death.
I mark the joy her presence brought to all who knew her, and to this world.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

What Does Being a "Rich Trial Lawyer" Really Mean?

Already, the fright-wing talk show hosts are bashing presumptive Vice-Presidential nominee John Edwards for being a "rich trial lawyer."

To that, I say, we need more rich trial lawyers. At least, the type that Edwards is. You see, so much of corporate America, including most elements of the healthcare system, places profits before people. You try and get sick without health insurance, and see how many bills you get. You fall prey to a slick scheme, and see how apathetic prosecutors are. So bless those who will fight for you, and take some of the settlement as part of their hard-earned work on your behalf.

And another thing bugs me: let me parse one syllable out of the pejorative phrase "rich trial lawyer." The phrase is: "law." Trial lawyers are practicing under the law, indeed the same Constitution for which you conservatives so gleefully cite the Second Amendment.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Moby

Porcelaine is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written and/or recorded
Tinsley Ellis: Blues Guitarist, Buddy, Transcender Of Life's Passages

Special moment in my life a few weeks ago.

When I lived in Atlanta in the late 1970s, I became friends with a budding blues guitarist named Tinsley Ellis.

He became famous. I became almost famous.

Hadn't seen him in seven years. Then, he played in Vancouver, Washington earlier this month.

Handshakes and hugs.

There's something magical about people who transcend passages in your life, and who you stay close with during, and after those trancendences.

Love The Fetus, Not The Child (Unless He's Been Baptized)


So, the ravenous right-wing Republicans packed the Nader convention, and did so without any shame or deception.

I hate to be proven right.
Ice Cream Parlor, 2037

The other night I went to the Baskin-Robbins in the Uptown Shopping Center.

I witnessed a bunch of 19 year olds on summer hiatus singing along to the song that was playing on the P.A.- "Indian Reservation," by Paul Revere and The Raiders. The song was number 4 in the charts, 33 years ago, during this week in 1971...hmm, 14 years before they were born?

I just have one question. Do you suppose in 2037, 19 year olds will be rocking to the current number four song in the nation? That would be, The Reason, by Hoobastank?

I don't think soooo....

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Lonsdale Quay Market

This is a hint.

And so is this.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

I'm On The South Beach Diet

I have made some changes in my life. Perhaps the biggest is going on the South Beach Diet. Paunch disappearing.

This action falls within a broader personal agenda that involves grafting the personal discipline I devote to my work, to my physicality. Tired of being looked at by people who are straining to say I should lose some weight, but decline to say this because they fear it will hurt my feelings.

But someone did point out this issue some weeks back, and I decided, fuck it man, I don't want to be pitied. I want to get fit. So now, I am on my way.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Ronald Reagan

This is the day Ronald Reagan left his body.

Didn't vote for him, never would have. He was personally affable, and even likeable, but not if you were poor and needed a hand, was a woman who became pregnant and soon regretted it, was an air traffic controller who wanted the respect due him or her by the government, was a California redwood relying on protection, was an emphysema suffer living downwind of a coal fired plant, was a Nicaraguan nun about to be shot by the members of a junta whose clandestine funding was approved by Reagan's appointees.

And, he helped promote a movement of the selfish, toward near if not total dominance of our economic, political and social fabric.

If any good comes from his passing, may Nancy Reagan's plea for stem cell research be heeded. And, condolences to his family.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

About Teaching and Learning

Saw this online, of all places, on the Columbia County, Oregon, web site:

Tell me, I forget.
Show me, I remember.
Involve me, I understand.
~ Chinese Proverb

Friday, May 07, 2004

Teresa and Sandra

Anyone else agree that Teresa Heinz Kerry resembles what Sandra Bullock is likely to look like 20 years from now?
Teresa and Sandra

Anyone else agree that Teresa Heinz Kerry resembles what Sandra Bullock is likely to look like 20 years from now?
Iraq And A Hard Place

Many have known about these Iraqi prisoner abuses for months. They are only coming out now because of a few courageous whistleblowers, and the attendant media frenzy.

I get the feeling, tho', that all the mea culpas we've been seeing this week have taken place because the high-ranking officials with ultimate oversight have been dragged kicking and screaming into this. If these matters did not come forward, they would have been perfectly happy to leave things as they are, with these humiliations taking place in secret.

Although the military brass may be annoyed at these abuses, they didn't, and don't, seem to react with the same instant vitriol as if a female soldier sought an abortion, or a male soldier hooked up with another of his gender, and made no secret of that. So, put prisoners on leashes, grope women at Tailhook parties, that's OK. Just don't get caught. Exercise control of your own body, and your own heart, not OK.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Love and Marriage

While I have not been programmed with the ability to feel same-sex sexual attraction, I am a loving person in this life and in this world. And in this world, there is not enough love.

It is not the business of the government to tell two consenting people who love each other, and who want the rights and responsibilities that the joy of love brings, that their love is illegitimate and will not be recognized by the same government that supposedly, is there to protect their rights.

It wasn't so long ago that African-Americans could not marry whites in some states. But even then, no serious discussion of a constitutional amendment to ban the practice nationally was ever pursued.

Obviously, bringing the matter of a constitutional amendment to this issue is a political way to deflect what is really wrong in this country, as well as to energize portions of the conservative base -- warmongers, the greedy rich, the well-meaning but inflexible Evangelicals, the Endtimers, the bigots who are uneasy being around, or even seeing, people who are not like them.

And it is funny, in a most ironic way, that many of those same right-wingers who argue for the "sanctity of marriage" have been divorced -- often through a string of actions that involved them violating their own marriage vows.

As to those who would say that same-sex marriage weakens the "institution" of marriage, well I have some thoughts there. The institution of marriage started out as way to codify a wife's status as the husband's chattel, or property.

And, as if marriage was not weak enough already.

You know what weakens marriage? Not favoring the Family & Medical Leave Act, which allows for post-birth paid time off, and which, fortunately was signed despite overwhelming negative votes from the party now in power.

You know what weakens marriage? A Guardsman, whose normal absence from home for two weeks was stretched out to a year by service in a war that is unjustified.

You know what weakens marriage? Traitorous companies, run by Republican CEOs, who close plants and outsource white collar jobs to India just so that their stock price will go up. The laid-off husband or wife sits home, or takes a menial job while the bills pile up and the stresses do too.

You know what weakens marriage? Placing stresses on families by allowing health care costs to rise, by hospitals charging whatever they can, and prohibiting the import of safe prescription drugs from Canada.

You know what weakens marriage? Driving families and companies they work for into bankruptcy, and all the marriage stresses that come from that, by looking the other way when companies rig energy prices, energy markets, and allow 401 (k)s to tank.

I could go on and on, but that executive decision to lay off 5,000 of your loyal, well-trained people will disrupt numerous marriages. The fact that two men or two women who love each other, and whom you have never met, decide to get married in San Francisco, or wherever, has nothing to do with your heterosexual marriage in Wooster, Ohio. Nor should your marriage have anything to do with theirs. It is you, who need to be true and honest with each other.

I'll say it one more time: there's not enough love in the world.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Hawkeyes

Remember that this was a caucus, not a primary. Although primaries skew toward loyal voters, caucuses, because of the work and time commitment involved, tend to attract the most loyal of loyal party voters. There seems to be a calculus among Democrats (including myself) that the party should nominate the most "electable" candidate. I am not sure that Kerry is the most electable, but remember that Iowa is not a youth magnet. In that state, the electorate, and the population, tends to skew older.

And because of the older demographic, you have a big slice of people who are not all that experienced with the Internet -- except, perhaps, to send e-mail to their grandchildren.

It isn't over, but I cannot ignore the prognostications and declarations of people like Howard Fineman who thinks the Dean Internet boom may have peaked -- 450,000 out of the chute, now slowing down over the last few months to 600,000 or so. It may not be that "only 18,000 of" Dean's Iowa supporters turned out ... in fact, in terms of loyal voters, that may be all he has there.

I am not saying I am in lockstep with him, but Fineman is right far more often than wrong. He knows a lot more about retail politics on the ground than polemicists like Farber, for instance. And, as I have reported in several articles, when you take a look at Internet polls on objective news sites, you still see a conservative-libertarian streak. Less so as the Internet has democratized, but still discernible.

Older voters tend to be impressed by strength, and experience. Kerry is a vet, and has both. Dean may have been seen as intemperate, not electable, and perhaps a bit too socially liberal (I said "socially," not economically). I mean, your Iowa voter is meat and potatoes, not Ben & Jerry's. Yes, I know Dean is neither, but that's the spin.

Edwards? The charm. I didn't think he would finish so strong. But I just don't see him as the nominee.

Yes, of course Dean can win the nomination, but last night's performance elicits uncertainty. Kerry-Graham? Possible.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Dukes of Earle

Just read an Editor & Publisher piece on alt. country-rocker Steve Earle, and his penchant for being a news junkie (he once was a junkie of a far more nefarious kind).

I feel motivated to paste in two quotes from the article. Quotes that I agree with, wholeheartedly:

"It's not that (the media is) right-wing or left-wing, it's just that they're doing the same thing radio is doing -- doing market research and pandering to a market they've identified. I'm ready to do the Bill O'Reilly show on Fox this month, but equating that with a real political discussion is like believing pro wrestling is real. It's just pandering to our worst instincts, and it works. They've just identified a market and can sell to it. It sells more beer. "

And:

"I don't have a problem with the existence of the right, but the right has a problem with my existence. We just have a different definition of patriotism. One day this country will be remembered maybe for rock 'n' roll, maybe for baseball, and a few other things, but our Constitution is going to be like Hammarabi's code. It's a hipper document than its framers intended it to be."



Praise Be To Joan Of Arc..hes!!

Today it is being revealed that the late Joan Kroc, widow of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, is bequeathing $200 million to NPR.

That's almost double NPR's annual budget.

NPR is a shining light in a sea of pandering crap- fright-wring squawk radio, focus-tested playlists, stations broadcasting canned feeds from remote production facilities of their conglomerate owners.

With eye on waistline, I stay away from Mac... but I will have a Big Mac today in honor of Joan Kroc.

Bobby Hatfield

Bobby Hatfield, the alto voice of the Righteous Brothers, died today. His was one of the great radio voices, and was a milepost on my music-loving journey from a kid with a transistor radio to an adult who wrote about music for national publications.

When I was a teenager, and both my parents were at work, there was one song on the radio that I turned up and sang my heart out to: "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by the Righteous Brothers. The song gave me chills, and nearly 40 years later, it still does.

Belting out those words provided catharsis for those troubled times in my life. Not because of the words themselves, (for I was too young to have experienced love gone cold) but the gymnastic vocal workout involved in trying to accurately mimic the deep voice of lead singer Bill Medley (who struck me as a kind of blue-eyed soul Herman Munster) and the alto voice of Bobby Hatfield.

I also tried to emulate Hatfield's voice by singing along to such radio hits as "Unchained Melody" and "Ebb Tide."

Then, I remember the old tv music show "Shindig" playing on our kitchen tv. My father, who had a very good "standard" voice, used to ridicule the voices of rockers. The Righteous Brothers came on, singing the vocally demanding and rousing "You'll Never Walk Alone." My father, who sang along, was very impressed.

Bobby Hatfield has sung his last note on stage, but his voice remains on the radio, and in the mind's ear of tens of millions.

My Thoughts On CBS and The Reagan Biopic

As far as I know, I am the only person in history with a degree in Political Science who has served as a contributing editor at two broadcasting industry trade newspapers. So, I kind of feel qualified to talk about the Reagan biopic controversy at CBS.

I see both sides. There are some types of people more predisposed to becoming screenwriters than others.Those with hierarchical mindsets, people who are easily controllable via fear or machismo, generally do not enter art forms where an unchained mind is necessary. So what you had here are liberal screenwriters who probably didn't vote for Reagan, taking big liberties and passing off assumptions such as his condemnation of AIDS sufferers as facts.

There is also a certain lack of grace to doing this while Reagan is still alive, but is not in a position to defend himself.

When conservatives screamed, though, CBS owner Viacom wussed out, making changes and relegating the movie to Showtime. Viacom is a very acquisitive media properties owner, who would love to own more. The executive, regulatory and legislative avenues of government are all in the hands of those who adore Reagan. So, when other conservatives yelled, CBS backed off.

Reminds me of when, under previous ownership, CBS backed off on broadcasting a 60 Minutes an interview with a whistle-blower who was about to deliver the goods on tobacco companies. CBS had some regulatory issues in play then as well, and big tobacco has some powerful friends.

Reagan is due an objective biopic treatment, but his adoring fans will never be happy, and by the way their brains and political assumptions are unwired, most screenwriters are constitutionally unable to deliver a fair production.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Cyclists Don't Listen To Clear Channel Stations

Apparently, radio hosts at three stations owned by monopolist Clear Channel kidded listeners to throw bottles at cyclists, or hit them with open car doors.

I encountered a rude cyclist this evening, but that's not the point. The first thing you should realize is that at Clear Channel, everything, including the songs, the jokes, etc., is centralized and focus-tested.

You also need to realize that Clear Channel is a right-wing outfit, not so much because of ideology but because they are acquisitively greedy, and the Republicans are the ones most likely to favor the type of deregulatory envirornment to let them buy up almost all the stations they want.

As part of this conservative bent, Clear Channel stations across the country sponsored Iraq war rallies, and stopped playing Dixie Chicks music after they criticized the President.

What does this have to do with bike-riders? Everything. There's an undercurrent in this country that associates urban bike riders with alternative transportation, and alternative transportation with environmental and left-wing political leanings. Many of the more profound urban bike riders will tell you they ride rather than drive because it saves the earth.

Those are the type of people who voted for Nader, not for Bush (although, as it turned out, a vote for Nader was a vote for Bush).

These are the type of people who listen to Radiohead, not radio that's dead.

So whacking cyclists is another way to get guffaws from your macho, conservative male listeners.

If you want to make it up to me, tell us to give the finger to those guys (and they are mostly guys) who drive Hummers.
Bigot In The Parking Lot

Friday night, I saw and heard something in the parking lot of Albertson's in Beaverton, Ore., that absolutely disgusted me.

Some guy got out of a pickup and was yelling foul invective at what sounded like a contractor who did faulty work, and would not get paid.

OK, that happens all the time, but the guy with the pickup then started to insult the guy's ancestry. Here's a loose paraphrase:

"You haven't a legal leg to stand on. You are talking about my legal system, and my country. You haven't even been in the country long enough to read or write English. You can barely speak English." On, and on, it went.

I was not in a position to view the rear of the aggrieved party's pickup truck, but I'd just bet it had an American flag. There's nothing wrong with the American flag, only with some of the people who brandish it.

Judging by the demographics of the area, the recent immigrants being bawled out is Mexican-American. He probably came here in search of a better life. He isn't standing on the corner, drinking Tecate all day. He learned a trade. I ask the pickup driver what if the situation were reversed? What if you had to take your wife and kids to Monterrey, Mexico, learn the language and a trade?

There are also a fair amount of Russian emigres in Portland, and the "incompetent" contractor could be one of them. I am sure the redneck screamer in the parking lot has been indoctrinated to hate Communists. If the object of his wrath was a Russian emigre, well, he hates Communists, too. That's why he was here...he came here with his family to escape Communism, or more likely, its economically crippling aftermath.

Maybe he did shoddy work. That's what courts are for. Someone's ethnicity or lack of skill with the language should not play a part in it.

Sadly, I drove away from that supermarket parking lot thinking that this guy is a right-wing, bigoted xenophobe. He probably voted for Bush... not that doing so makes one a bigot, but here is an administration that takes a dim view of family planning assistance to other nations. Maybe contraception education would have resulted in a smaller family for the immigrant contractor who roused your ire.

Wonder why so many people hate us around the world? People like you are part of the reason, you asshole.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Hollow-ween


Halloween? Bah. I just don't get it. Never have, even as a kid. I prefer to be wacky and loopy on my own schedule, thank you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Churchill Speaks

"Never give in! Never give in! Never, never, never, never-
in nothing great or small, large or petty-
never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense." -Winston Churchill

After the sucky day I had today, inspiring words indeed.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

This Blog Is Televised



Now this is cool. I am in a hotel room in Spokane, Wash., posting this entry over an Internet access connection through the television set. The interface that the LodgeNet service displays on the tv is a bit clunky, and does not allow me to format this entry with html code o even with boldface. I am here on the way home to Portland on the way home from Ione, Wash., where I rode a tourist train tday. Only leaves two short legs to go, and I will have a complete set of pix representing each Amtrak, commuter, light rail and tourist train and trolley in Washington and Oregon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Fear As An Element Of Control

Could you imagine the right-wing outcry if 9/11 had happened when Clinton was President?

The fright-wing squawk show hosts tend to overlook that 9/11 happened on the watch of a CIA director who Clinton hired, and Bush reappointed. If Bush were so resolutely more determined to thwart terrorism more effectively than Clinton did, would he have kept the chief of our nation's key anti-terrorist infractructure under Clinton? No, he didn't replace him, and still hasn't.

And it was a Democrat, Joe Lieberman, who first proposed the Department Of Homeland Security. The Bush adminstration fought the concept when it was introduced.

Mythologies have festered out of 9/11. Clinton was a skirt-chasing, draft-dodging, equivocating wuss (well, maybe the first part is true); Bush is a real man, and a hero. Interesting that style, rather than substance, quantifies a hero. Reagan was a hero to many of the same people. Reagan and GWB both "served," but GWB was in National Guard, flying planes thousands of miles from harm's way, and Reagan, already an actor by the time WWII broke out, was drafted and made training films.

A real hero? How about the reservist who has just been called back to Iraq, and is trying to hold his young family together? And yes, the firemen at the WTC were heroes. And if you have to have a Republican president who was a hero: OK, Ike, and even Bush The Elder, a real combat pilot who bailed out of his plane after being shot at by Japanese fighters.

The Saddam-Osama "connection" is another mythology. This one is largely driven by fear of "the other." They are bad people, they are Arabs, most speak the same language, so they must be affiliated with each other.

This is a social pathology not new to America. Fear of "the other" is ingrained in our racist history. Fear that a red man will scalp us. Fear that a black man will ravish our daughter. Fear of the Mediterranean-looking person, for they might be a Jew, and the Jews "killed Christ." Fear of the Latino family, for the perceived "gangs" they will bring in. Fear of Japanese-Americans in WWII, for being potential saboteurs.

Fear of everything and everyone that does not look, think and feel as we do.

There's a reason why we see so many vehicles with American flags AND fishes. Both indicate a susceptibility to hierarchical command structures -- a male President, a male God. There's a reason why, in some religions, congregations are collectively known as "flock."

Have you ever seen a sheep in a flock? They are meek. They must obey, or the German shepherd will bark. (Llamas are far more gentle sheep-herders, and such sheep look on llamas as big brothers, but there aren't that many of them).

And this administration is all about fear, you know. They want us to be afraid. Fearful people are more susceptible to manipulation, control and obedience. The way you teach obedience to a herd animal is through fear. And Ashcroft is the barking German shepherd.

Perhaps I shouldn't keep harping on the American flag thing. My father was a disabled war vet. But these days, when I see a big SUV with one or more large flags, I instinctively think that here is a person who is being manipulated through fear by right-wing radio and preachers, who thinks Saddam did 9/11, who expects to be swept away in the Rapture, who doesn't believe in evolution or a woman's right to choose. And via their SUV, wants to project superficial power when they are, in fact, powerless. But Mr. or Mrs. (Ms. doesn't apply) SUV-driving flag-waver, that SUV probably is running on fuel from Arab nations, plus is polluting the atmosphere that God made...er, "6,000 years ago."

I keep on telling myself that by holding such views I am tracking prejudiciously. Perhaps I am, but they fired first.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Judgment To Rush

Now that Rush Limbaugh is in rehab for an addition to prescription painkillers (which, according to reports, he may have purchased without a scrip), it is real easy to jump on the guy for criticizing the permissive drug culture of the 1960, 70s, and even the Clinton White House. I do not like this person, and my dislike of Rush Limbaugh and all he stands for makes it easy to pile on.

Yet let us not do this. He is a human being, and he is in pain. If we too, are human, we should wish him an exorcism of his excesses. I have had my own. Let us debate him and his argumentive inconsistencies when he is best able to meet the challenge. The triumph of our more noble cause will be that much more legitimate.