Tuesday, December 26, 2006

George Bush Has Killed More Americans Than Al-Qaeda Did on 9/11

And that's in Iraq, which had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. For the particulars, see:

"U.S. Deaths in Iraq Exceed 9/11 Count"

Monday, December 25, 2006

Another Quote of the Day

(Keeping it brief today.)

"Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."

--Thomas Gray (1742)

Quote of the Day

" Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so. "

--Bertrand Russell

Merry Christmas -- Something From Hullabaloo

And Then What Happened...? [my comments below]

by digby

Via Steve Gilliard I see that some conservative evangelicals have decided to deal with all the closeted homosexuality in their clergy by starting a homo-rehab program:

Recent gay-sex scandals involving evangelical pastors have prompted much soul-searching among conservative Christian leaders.

No one has proposed rethinking the theology that homosexuality is a sin. Instead, there's a growing consensus that the church must do a better job of helping pastors resist all immoral desires, such as a lust for pornography, an addiction to drugs or a lifelong same-sex attraction.

Seminary professors, Christian counselors and veteran clergy say the best way to help pastors fight temptation is to get them talking -- even about their most shameful secrets. They don't want a sordid tell-all from the pulpit each Sunday. But they would like pastors to bare their weaknesses and admit their lapses before a small group of "accountability partners" -- friends committed to listen with empathy, then rebuke or advise as needed.

J. Edgar Hoover liked to keep tabs on all the gays too. And then he owned them.

The thing I don't get about this is that these people are absolutely sure that homosexuality is a choice. But evangelical pastors are obviously not "choosing" to have a hidden gay life. They believe it's sinful and they hate themselves for it. They, of all people, would not "choose" such a thing. It must be such a strong, fundamental question of identity that they are unable to resist it. (Either that or they're just fast-talking religion hustlers who are completely full of shit. There are probably some of both.)

But there is actually some good news in this, I think. Under these peoples' belief system, being gay is one of the worst sins around. Yet they are carving out a moral exception for gay preachers -- the men who are supposed to set the standards and lead the people. Would they allow murderers to keep preaching? Thieves?

It seems to me that they are slowly but surely coming to realize that homosexuality knows no bounds, even among evangelical preachers, Catholic priests and other religious leaders who can't practice what they preach. If so, it's a good step in the right direction, no matter how small. Maybe if some of these people actually have to hear the stories of torment among their own small, elite group they'll get some empathy --- something Jesus Christ thought very highly of, if I'm not mistaken.


I don't know. Evangelicals think God made everyone in His own, heterosexual image. With everyone being straight from the get-go (conception?), one would have to "choose" to live life as a homosexual or to engage in homosexual acts, and it's the Devil that makes people choose it. I don't see that the hard-line evangelicals would ever find homosexuality acceptable unless Christ Himself were to return to Earth and tell them to leave the homos alone (and, before He left Earth, Christ Himself never uttered a word about homosexuality that was actually recorded in the Bible--I guess Christ didn't consider it a problem). But these "Christians" don't look to the teachings of Christ in their relentless crusade against homosexuals.

They'll cut their wayward pastors some slack by putting the blame on the prevailing permissive American culture, which, they insist, has so woefully deviated from that of our Founding Fathers (who, they will always deny, explicitly separated religion from the governance of the country).

If these people believe dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago (vs. 200 million), I doubt you could convince them there's anything like a gay gene. Science doesn't matter to these geeks. The Bible is all they need. You'll never convince them they need anything more, or that God gave people minds with which to think. To think is to doubt the Biblical word of God. Ignorance is bliss.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

True or False?

In many states the highway patrol carries two gallons of Coke in the trunk to remove blood from the highway after a car accident.

You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of coke and it will be gone in two days.

To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Coca-Cola into the toilet bowl. Let sit for one hour, then flush clean.

To clean corrosion from car battery terminals: Pour a can of Coca-Cola over the terminals to bubble away the corrosion.

To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of coke into a load of greasy clothes, add detergent, and run through a regular cycle.

The active ingredient in Coke is phosphoric acid. It's pH is 2.8. It will dissolve a nail in about 4 days.

The distributors of Coke have been using it to clean the engines of their trucks for about 20 years!

(Answers here. See below.)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Hoaxes and Urban Legends

Rumors fly here on the Internet, often involving the food we eat and the products we use. "Don't believe everything you read," I tell people. And if something sounds fantastic or too terrible to be true, most likely it is. You can always check out rumors at Snopes.

Tonight I came across the following while reading "Cliff's Corner" on Americablog:

Hopefully I have brought a bit of laughter and passion to some of you, while to others, I'm sure this column elicits a similar bodily reaction to that of un-referigerated [sic] Taco Bell meat.
Aside from being poorly written and puerile (which is why I normally don't read the column), the passage also (not surprisingly) perpetuates a hoax about Taco Bell meat. You can find out more about it here.

We have plenty to worry about with George Bush wreaking havoc at home and abroad. Why sweat the false stuff.

Al Qaeda Flourishes with George Bush in Power

Telling, from the New Yorker article, in case you haven't read it:
Just before the 2004 American elections, Kilcullen was doing intelligence work for the Australian government, sifting through Osama bin Laden’s public statements, including transcripts of a video that offered a list of grievances against America: Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, global warming. The last item brought Kilcullen up short. “I thought, Hang on! What kind of jihadist are you?” he recalled. The odd inclusion of environmentalist rhetoric, he said, made clear that “this wasn’t a list of genuine grievances. This was an Al Qaeda information strategy.” Ron Suskind, in his book “The One Percent Doctrine,” claims that analysts at the C.I.A. watched a similar video, released in 2004, and concluded that “bin Laden’s message was clearly designed to assist the President’s reëlection.” Bin Laden shrewdly created an implicit association between Al Qaeda and the Democratic Party, for he had come to feel that Bush’s strategy in the war on terror was sustaining his own global importance.
Al Qaeda thrives on George; George thrives on Al Qaeda. Two sides of the same coin. No wonder George never nailed Osama when he had the opportunity.

Meanwhile almost 3000 American soldiers have died in Iraq, which had nothing to do with Al Qaeda and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

War on Terror: "Knowing the Enemy"

From this article in the Dec. 18 New Yorker:

Since September 11th, the government’s traditional approach to national security has proved inadequate in one area after another. The intelligence agencies habitually rely on satellites and spies, when most of the information that matters now, as Kilcullen pointed out, is “open source”—available to anyone with an Internet connection. Traditional diplomacy, with its emphasis on treaties and geopolitical debates, is less relevant than the ability to understand and influence foreign populations—not in their councils of state but in their villages and slums. And future enemies are unlikely to confront the world’s overwhelming military power with conventional warfare; technology-assisted insurgency is proving far more effective. At the highest levels of Western governments, the failure of traditional approaches to counter the jihadist threat has had a paralyzing effect. “I sense we’ve lost the ability to think strategically,” Field Marshal Sir Peter Inge, the former chief of the British armed forces, has said of his government. He could have been describing the White House and the Pentagon.

Kilcullen’s strategic mind, by contrast, seems remarkably febrile. I could call him at the office or at home at any hour of the night and he’d be jotting down ideas in one of his little black notebooks, ready to think out loud. Kilcullen, Crumpton, and their colleagues are desperately trying to develop a lasting new strategy that, in Kilcullen’s words, would be neither Republican nor Democratic. Bruce Hoffman said, “We’re talking about a profound shift in mind-set and attitude”—not to mention a drastic change in budgetary and bureaucratic priorities. “And that may not be achievable until there’s a change in Administration.” Kilcullen is now in charge of writing a new counterinsurgency manual for the civilian government, and early this month he briefed Condoleezza Rice on his findings in Afghanistan. But his ideas have yet to penetrate the fortress that is the Bush White House. Hoffman said, “Isn’t it ironic that an Australian is spearheading this shift, together with a former covert operator? It shows that it’s almost too revolutionary for the places where it should be discussed—the Pentagon, the National Security Council.” At a moment when the Bush Administration has run out of ideas and lost control, it could turn away from its “war on terror” and follow a different path—one that is right under its nose.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sugars R.I.P.

Tonight while I was napping, I got a call from an old friend. We'd met years ago at Sugars when it was located on Biscayne Blvd. (U.S. 1) just north of 135th Street. After Hurricane Andrew, the bar relocated to W. Dixie Highway a few blocks north of 163rd Street. (Its previous spot on Biscayne is now occupied by the parking lot of a new BankUnited. My, how this neighborhood has changed.) A little over a year ago, the bar on W. Dixie closed and has remained empty ever since.

I'd been a regular Sugars customer for years, as had my friend, though he moved to Atlanta about 10 years ago. Still he would pop in at Sugars on his trips down. Now there's no place to go around here -- no gay bar, at least. So I don't go anywhere now. This has taken some getting used to, and I still can't say I'm used to it. I miss my old Happy Hour compadres. (Fortunately some of them made it to the party, along with the former manager, who's now retired.)

Tonight it would have been nice to meet my old friend at Sugars for a drink, but by the time I called him back, he was already on South Beach, alas.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas is Coming

I love these things from Harry & David.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

War (Continued)

Having grown up in the Viet Nam era and, as cannon fodder, survived (see past post), I think the war in Iraq is a hideous mistake and have thought so from the start. You don't go to war unless somebody attacks you (or threatens to).* And then you go after those guys, not somebody else. (Whatever happened to "Speak softly and carry a big stick" anyway?)

I think this administration has given democracy a black eye. You don't try to impose democracy on other countries. Rather, you set a good example and others will follow. Lately, we've set a very bad example. And with the way this administration has curtailed our own freedoms and resorted to torture, what really is there to emulate? We've become less of a democracy than we were before. Now we've become the devil.

From Poputonian at Hullaballoo (speech made to the UN Security Council by French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin before the invasion of Iraq), with Poputonian's comments:

Therefore, I would like solemnly to address a question to this body, and it's the very same question being asked by people all over the world. Why should we now engage in war with Iraq? And I would also like to ask, why smash the instruments that have just proven their effectiveness? Why choose division when our unity and our resolve are leading Iraq to get rid of its weapons of mass destruction? Why should we wish to proceed by force at any price when we can succeed peacefully?

War is always an acknowledgment of failure. Let us not resign ourselves to the irreparable. Before making our choice, let us weigh the consequences. Let us measure the effects of our decision. And it's clear to all in Iraq, we are resolutely moving toward completely eliminating programs of weapons of mass destruction. The method that we have chosen worked.
De Villepin then detailed the positive results coming in from the inspection reports and talked of the success of other pressures being brought to bear on Iraq. He continued:

What conclusions can we draw? That Iraq, according to the very terms used by the inspectors, represents less of a danger to the world than it did in 1991, that we can achieve our objective of effectively disarming that country. Let us keep the pressure on Baghdad.

The adoption of Resolution 1441, the assumption of converging positions by the vast majority of the world's nations, diplomatic action by the Organization of African Unity, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the non-aligned movement, all of these common efforts are bearing fruit.
Let us be clear-sighted. We are defining a method to resolve crisis. We are choosing how to define the world we want our children to live in.

These crises have many roots. They are political, religious, economic. Their origins lie deep in the turmoil of history.

There may be some who believe that these problems can be resolved by force, thereby creating a new order. But this is not what [we] believe. On the contrary, we believe that the use of force can arouse resentment and hatred, fuel a clash of identities and of cultures, something that our generation has a prime responsibility to avoid.

To those who believe that war would be the quickest way of disarming Iraq, I can reply that it will drive wedges and create wounds that will be long in healing. And how many victims will it cause? How many families will grieve?

We do not subscribe to what may be the other objectives of a war. Is it a matter of regime change in Baghdad? No one underestimates the cruelty of this dictatorship or the need to do everything possible to promote human rights. But this is not the objective of Resolution 1441. And force is certainly not the best way of bringing about democracy. Here and elsewhere it would encourage dangerous instability.

Is it a matter of fighting terrorism? War would only increase it and we would then be faced with a new wave of violence.

Is it finally a matter of recasting the political landscape of the Middle East? In that case, we run the risk of exacerbating tensions in a region already marked by great instability. Not to mention that in Iraq itself, the large number of communities and religions already represents a danger of a potential break-up.

We all have the same demands. We want more security and more democracy. But there is another logic other than the logic of force. There is another path. There are other solutions. We understand the profound sense of insecurity with which the American people have been living since the tragedy of September 11, 2001. The entire world shared the sorrow of New York and of America struck in the heart. And I say this in the name of our friendship for the American people, in the name of our common values: freedom; justice; tolerance.

But there is nothing today to indicate a link between the Iraqi regime and al Qaeda. And will the world be a safer place after a military intervention in Iraq? I want to tell you what my country's conviction is: It will not.

We all know that when it comes to foreign policy George Bush is dumber than a box of hammers, so where did the ideological idea come from that led to this war, and who is the architect of the public relations fraud that sold it to the American sheeple? The answer is that it came from the Republican party, and the PR architect was none other than Karl Rove. Less than one year ago, he was gloating about the the success of the grandiose scheme . . . .

* People who start wars are bad. That's "morally clear" to me.

I Thought This Was A Classic

From Steve Gilliard. As someone commented (and it's hard to make out on this version of the photo), what the hell is George W. Bush wearing on his feet?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Party Update (Party Over)

Wow, the sun is coming up already.

People came early and stayed late. I didn't start really relaxing till they left, which was between 2 and 3. (They started arriving at 8.) I thought it amazing that no one in the building complained about the noise, and there was a lot of it. I guess the walls and floors in this old building are thick.

I had a few perishable things to wrap up and put in the refrigerator and ran the dishwasher. B. did some tidying up. Not that much more to do vis-a-vis clean-up.

My only regret is that the pre-party cleaning contingent (God bless them, but it wasn't me) left two bottles of Febreze standing against one wall in the living room and I hadn't caught it. I'd been too busy. "My bad."

Party was very successful, according to the feedback from the attendees (attenders, really).

I over-bought almost everything but better that than under-buying and people going without, or them having to run to the store for booze or ice or whatever, or just leaving.

Wow, it's almost daytime. Gotta think about going to bed. Been hitting the Absolut Peppar for a few Bloody Marys, which I normally don't drink unless there's vodka in the house. Well, we'll be in liquor and beer for days, not to mention lasagne (delicious, which a guest volunteered to bring) and turkey breast. Almost all of the wild Florida shrimp was consumed. Got a lot of compliments on that. B. doesn't eat seafood except for canned tuna -- I'd bought the shrimp for the guests. I also made a mean crab spread which I got compliments on. (Consisting of really good canned crabmeat, capers, mayonnaise and cayenne pepper.)

Enough already. It's getting way bright out the window.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Party Planning Report

If anybody needs a party planner, I charge $1,000 an hour plus health insurance.

Ticking off items on to-do list for B's party tomorrow night is proceeding according to schedule. Tonite after an extended, reinvigorating nap (which I figured would be more valuable than going to the gym), I did some more shopping, finished painting in the guest bathroom, and boiled the shrimp. Shrimp taste great (I ate only one). They're huge, wild, from Florida and taste sweet as lobster. They really don't need any sauce at all, though I'll be making a cocktail sauce and a mayonnaise sauce with dill relish.

The only things left to do are, basically, roast the turkey breast and buy the beer and ice and the remaining fresh groceries. Thankfully B. is off tomorrow and will be a great help. Plus we have to do some tidying up and decorating and stage everything.

Whenever I paint in this apartment, I see how poor the previous paint jobs have been. It always pisses me off. I end up having to sand like crazy or strip the old paint. Fortunately I bought an electric sander and am pretty adept at stripping (although maybe I've seen better says, but WHO CARES?). :-)

Friday, December 01, 2006

I Revise My Posts Often

So in case you're interested (and most people aren't), you might find something new if you revisit an older post.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

More Bert Monroy

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Photoshop Seminar Attracts 750 to Broward Convention Center

Attended a Photoshop seminar today conducted by Bert Monroy, an original Photoshop "guru" and creative artist who uses Photoshop (and Illustrator) to create works of art that look like photographs, only more real ("hyperreal"?). He currently lives, works and teaches in Oakland, CA. It was amazing to behold his fluid command of some of Photoshop's most mind-bending features. He's been using Photoshop since before it was even called Photoshop.

Was good for me to get out of town (to Ft. Lauderdale) for the day and get my mind off planning for B's party this Saturday night. That has been an all-consuming enterprise these past few weeks. Plus it was good just to get away from work for a day and be stimulated by something really different. Am tired, though. It was a long session, plus I got up early (for me) to take the bus to Broward -- didn't feel like driving. The ride home took
f o r e v e r. Time to chill.

George W. Bush's Problem

He never developed an intellect that was commensurate with his family's much vaunted standing, and in his weakness let himself be shanghaied by the Christianists. Nowadays, true to form, he remains a clueless patsy for power-hungry ideologues with truly bad ideas.

Do check out the link from the Guardian. It seems this family will do anything for a buck. Not exactly what you would call "patriotic."

Here's another tidbit, from "'Dynasty of Death'--Historical Perspective on the Bush Family," by Schuyler Ebbets:

There is no historic parallel that can be drawn, nothing compares with the accomplishments of the Bush family. No dictator or tyrant can equal the suffering and destruction they have wrought on humanity, as they are not mere tyrants themselves, but the makers and breakers of tyrants, the organizers and profiteers of war and death. They are not alone and solely responsible for creating the present day military industrial complex, however since 1915 the Bush family has been directly involved in World War One and Two, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, numerous CIA secret wars, the Gulf War, and now a “Never Ending War”. The past four generations of this one family have had a hand in promoting and profiting from most of major wars that America has waged since the beginning of the industrialized age.

The nightmare for the world began in 1915, with the establishment of an unholy partnership between the U.S. Government and the ‘War Industries Board', for-runner of America's present day 'military-industrial complex'. Some of those seated on the board of directors were Samuel P. Bush, great grandfather of George W. bush, and so-called chief of Ordnance for the Small Arms and Ammunition Section, Wall Street banker Clarence Dillon, Samuel Pryor, executive committee chairman of Remington Arms, and Bernard Baruch, who, as head of the War Industries Board profited in excess of $200,000,000.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

War (Continued)

I was all for the invasion of Afghanistan -- to apprehend, and bring to justice, Osama bin Laden, who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. The Taliban government was sponsoring him. Did they plan on attacking Miami next?

The invasion of Iraq, on the other hand, was totally uncalled for. Iraq was no threat to the U.S. That much was thoroughly documented, although perhaps you wouldn't have thought so if you relied on the "mainstream media" for your information. As odious as Saddam Hussein was, given his past bad behavior, there was no compelling reason to invade Iraq. And now, having invaded Iraq and upset the apple cart (to put it mildly), we've created a new haven for the very sort of terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.

The neoconservatives had been pushing for an invasion of Iraq for years, largely in the interests of Israel. (As if the U.S. has never done enough for Israel.) They just had to find a stooge like George Bush to effectuate their plans. And now, in the wake of the disaster in Iraq, the neoconservatives are repudiating Bush, knowing full well they've helped to destroy the U.S.'s reputation in the world.

Meanwhile people are dying by the thousands, including our soldiers. I would like to think there'll be a special circle in hell for the neoconservatives.

(To be continued)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Lombard Street, San Francisco

Found this shot on the Internet. The street descends from Russian Hill, one of the steepest in the city. On last visit to SF, we trekked up the hill along Powell Street from Ghirardelli Square. I had to stop and rest every 10 seconds or so, it was so steep.

There are switchbacks for the cars and steps for the people. Coit Tower would be upper left atop Telegraph Hill. You can see Lombard Street ascending it.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

War (Continued)

I was spending a year in Germany as a Rotary Club exchange student when I turned 19 and became eligible for the draft. I don't remember when the lottery drawing took place [UPDATE: it was in February], but I remember learning about it from a newspaper clipping my mother sent me from home. Here's how the lottery worked:

The days of the year, from 1 to 366, were written on slips of paper and the slips were placed in plastic capsules. The capsules were mixed in a shoebox and then dumped into a deep glass jar. Capsules were drawn from the jar one at a time. *

The first capsule drawn was assigned the number one, and so on. The kids having the first 50 or so numbers could pretty much count on being drafted and sent to Viet Nam. (If you were in college, you were allowed only to complete your current semester of study before reporting for enlistment.)

By the time the lottery was conducted for my birth year, I'd already made up my mind not to return to the U.S. if my draft number was low. Yet as it turned out, my number was 363 -- about as high as you could get. No chance I would be drafted. I could go home to my family in peace.

(To be continued)

* Wikipedia

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

War (Continued)

While President Bush was in Viet Nam this past week, he said "that the lesson of [the Viet Nam War] was that the U.S. needs to stay in Iraq and 'win' this time." * I can only wonder what his Vietnamese hosts thought about that. The fact that he said it while visiting Viet Nam speaks volumes about how fundamentally thoughtless, how clueless, how reckless in his judgment he is. This self-proclaimed "war president" is a buffoon. It would be funny if people weren't dying.

Tragically, the lesson of Viet Nam fell on deaf ears. You don't send soldiers to die in a quagmire. And in Bush's case, it's a quagmire of his own making. I would like to think, riffing on Christian mythology, there'll be special circle in hell for George W. Bush.

(To be continued)

*E & P

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


You get to be skeptical about war when you're potential cannon fodder. (At least I did.) I literally grew up with the Viet Nam War -- that's how long it lasted. And the older I got, the closer I came to being drafted.

I don't recall ever knowing anyone who served in the Viet Nam War, much less anyone who was killed in it (and 57,690 U.S. soldiers ended up dying). The war was not being fought by people from Coral Gables. The kids in Coral Gables went to college and got deferments from the draft. When those deferments were up, they went to grad school and got more deferments. That was my plan, too. While I didn't even have a high school education (yet), I figured it would be smart not to get involved in that never-ending conflict -- certainly my untimely death was not going to change things. I was acquainted with the Domino Theory, but I didn't care. The politicians in Washington could have their war without me.

As I approached the age for being drafted (19), the lottery was in place.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

"History of Sex"

Watched it tonite on The History Channel. I've always been fascinated about Chinese foot-binding, which the series addresses. Amazing to what lengths people will go to be fashionable and sexy. (Reminds me a bit of "Dr. 90102." )

Foot-binding went on for centuries and basically hobbled the woman.

From among many articles out there (reference notes omitted):

"The process of foot binding started for the young girls anywhere from the age of four to six. It was done so early in her life so that the arch did not have much time to develop. The mother . . . was the one to bind the feet, and usually started the process late in the fall or winter, so the foot would be numb and the pain would not be as severe. The daughters' feet would first be soaked in warm water or animal blood and herbs. The special potion that was used for this caused any dead flesh to fall off. She would have her toe nails cut as short as possible therefore not allowing them to grow into the foot. After she received a foot massage, the four smallest toes on each foot were broken. This was not even the worst of the pain. The mother soaked silk or cotton bandages in the same liquid the girl's feet were soaked in. The bandages, which were ten feet long and two inches wide, were wrapped around the smallest toes and pulled tightly to the heel. Every two days, the binding was removed and rebound. This part of the process went on for two years. By this time her feet were three to four inches long. To assure the feet staying small, the ritual continued for at least ten more years."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

News Flash: San Francisco is Gayest U.S. City

Doh! Who'da thunk it?! From Advocate Online:

A study that shows the percentage of people in the nation's largest cities identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual lists San Francisco on top with 15.4%, with Seattle coming in second with 12.9%. Atlanta was third with 12.8%, and Minneapolis fourth with 12.5%. Four of the top 10 cities were in California, while all but Boston and Atlanta were west of the Mississippi River.

The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, used census and other federal information to estimate the numbers.

The census data on same-sex couple households showed that between 2000 and 2005 the number reported increased by 30%. New Hampshire had the largest jump in same-sex couples, with 106% over the five years studied, with heartland states like Nebraska, Kansas, Indiana, and Iowa also showing substantially increased numbers.

The findings do not show a sharp increase in the number of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in general. Instead, the study suggests, people are more willing to disclose their sexual orientation in government surveys.

More facts from Wikipedia:

San Francisco is a minority-majority city as non-Hispanic Whites make up less than 44% of the population. Asian Americans, principally Chinese, comprise nearly 31% of the population. Hispanics of any race make up just over 14% of the population. At less than 8% of the population, San Francisco has a lower concentration of African Americans than the United States as a whole. Few of San Francisco's residents have lived there their whole lives. Only 35% of its residents were born in California; 39% were born outside the United States.

San Francisco has the highest percentage of same-sex households of any American county, with the Bay Area having a higher concentration than any other metropolitan area. Gay men outnumber lesbians; it has been estimated that one in five males over the age of 15 is gay.

(The "City and County of San Francisco" occupies the tip of the San Francisco Peninsula and measures approximately 7 by 7 miles, with a population of 739,426. By comparison, the City of Miami is slightly smaller in land (i.e., not including water) area and contains an estimated 379,724 inhabitants. With five boroughs (or counties), New York City has a population of over 8 million within an area of 321 square miles, making it the most densely populated major city in North America (with Manhattan being the most densely populated county in the U.S.). San Francisco is the second most densely populated major city in the U.S. [mostly from Wikipedia] [photo of Coit Tower courtesy of me])

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Belly Fat" More Than "Unsightly"

Caught this story on CBS News tonite, "Slowing Down Men's Biological Clocks."

"A lot of people think as they get older that there is erectile dysfunction. But there's more than just that," [Dr. Harry] Fisch says. "There's excessive weight gain, tiredness."

One of the factors determining the pace of the ticking is testosterone.

"Testosterone is the major male hormone," says Dr. Peter Schlegel of Weill-Cornell Medical College in New York.

That hormone helps regulate mood, sex drive, fertility and muscle mass. And over time, it drops — at the rate of about one percent per year after age 40.

After age 60, roughly 20 percent of men are testosterone-deficient.

"One of the problems that occurs as men get older is they convert more testosterone to female hormones or estrogens," Schlegel says.

That's right. The structure of testosterone is remarkably similar to the structure of estrogen. With just one enzyme, the body can convert this male hormone into a female hormone — and body fat speeds up the process. So a bigger belly may mean lower testosterone.

* * *

"The obvious answer [to how to keep testosterone levels normal, naturally] is that size really does matter — that is, the size of the belly," Fisch said. "The easiest thing you can do to keep your biological clock from ticking too fast is losing the weight around the belly."

Note to me: Watch belly!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Midterm Elections

I'm still a bit shell-shocked, but now that the stinking haze of battle has lifted, the view from the foxhole looks hopeful.

As much as I try to brace myself against the onslaught of Republican gay-bashing that always happens around election time, I can't help but take it personally. Gays are a threat to no one but themselves, i.e., when they hide in the closet and cowardly suck up to their oppressors: the Republicans who hate them and would just as soon they didn't exist. (I learned that lesson during the "Silence = Death" era of Ronald Reagan, and things haven't changed much since then, if not in some respects gotten worse.) I have no special place in my heart for self-loathing, Republican gays. As I've watched Rep. Mark Foley and the Rev. Ted Haggard crash and burn, I'm glad to see they're finally starting to get their comeuppance. I look forward to more of these outings. Those clandestine forays out of the closet can get you into a heap of trouble, especially if you're a professional gay-basher by day. "Oh what a tangled web we weave . . . ."

And, on that topic, here's an interesting tidbit from The Jewish Week via Americablog:

Then, as if things could not get worse, there was the disgrace of [religious right leader Rev. Louis] Sheldon’s own friend and colleague, Rev. Ted Haggard, the Colorado mega-church leader and president of the National Association of Evangelicals, an even bigger pillar of Republican support on the Christian right. Sheldon disclosed that he and “a lot” of others knew about Haggard’s homosexuality “for awhile ... but we weren’t sure just how to deal with it.”
Months before a male prostitute publicly revealed Haggard’s secret relationship with him, and the reverend’s drug use as well, “Ted and I had a discussion,” explained Sheldon, who said Haggard gave him a telltale signal then: “He said homosexuality is genetic. I said, no it isn’t. But I just knew he was covering up. They need to say that.”
Yeah, if it were ever to come out that homosexuality has nothing to do with Satan, these guys would be out of a job. (But wait. Isn't that what genetic researchers have been saying of late????)

The last I read, Haggard will be undergoing a spiritual "restoration."

"I see success approximately 50 percent of the time," said H.B. London, vice president for church and clergy at Focus on the Family, the conservative Christian ministry in Colorado Springs. "Guys just wear out and they can no longer subject themselves to the process."

Those who fail "end up selling cars or shoes or something, and being miserable and angry the rest of their lives," London said.

* * *

"I'm sure there will be those who lay their hands on Pastor Haggard as an act of faith, calling on the act of God to restore and heal," he said. "The prayer can be therapeutic, the laying on of hands can be ceremonial."

Harrumph. The process Haggard has subjected himself to can take five years. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So it appears America has regained its senses. I must say I never lost mine. Then again, I tend to watch the Republicans closely, since so much of what they say and do (or, in some cases, don't say and don't do) can affect the lives (or bring about the deaths) of gays. And mostly they're against us. I have to forgive my fellow Americans for not being quite so vigilant, but maybe they should have seen it coming. The current Republican administration rises to power under a cloud, against the will of the voters. Rather than humble himself, George Bush believes that he, like Moses, has been sent by God to lead the people. And it only goes downhill from there. Need I go on...

At last we have some checks against this self-styled divine rule of kings.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On an entirely different note, made a great batch of lasagne today. Started last nite, making the sauce.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Playing For The Long Term"

Read this post from "The Left Coaster".

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election Nite - Who Can Sleep?!

Don't mean to sound greedy, but hope to wake up tomorrow to hear the Dems have won (without resorting to dirty tricks, mind you) control of both houses of Congress. Right now, Senate races in Virginia, Missouri and Montana are too close to call, but Dems are leading and they need to win all three to take control of the Senate. It's already a given that they'll take over the House. God bless Nancy Pelosi from the great city of San Francisco -- our new House leader!

Busy day: voting, work, doctor's appointment, election party. Tired!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

What You Won't See in "Marie Antoinette"

"The perfumer was shocked by his first visit to the palace for some of the reasons it must also have shocked Marie Antoinette, who had grown up in a court and a family where impeccable hygiene was an article of faith. Not only did courtiers at Versailles look embalmed behind their masks of white powder and rouge but the many who bathed only once a year smelled like corpses. The filthy halls and courtyards stank of the excrement from humans and pets; dead cats floated in stagnant water; and a butcher plied his trade—gutting and roasting pigs—at the entrance to the ministers’ wing."

--JUDITH THURMAN, "DRESSED FOR EXCESS; Marie Antoinette, out of the closet," The New Yorker, Sept. 25, 2006

(In case you're interested, there's a bunch of Marie Antoinette portraits here. And although Halloween's over, some of you might be interested in this. There's always next year!)

Watch a Great Video


from Tristero at Hullabaloo

After all, no matter how sensationalized the reports and how deep the sin, it is Christ – not Ted Haggard – who is the head of this Church. [from an editorial in The Christian Post]

If that is so, that "Christ is the head of this Church," then Christ has just sent his Church - through the travails of Ted Haggard - an unequivocal message to stop bashing and obsessing over gays. And stop forcing them to hide in closets.

Since Haggard before his fall was consumed with making marriage for certain Americans constitutionally illegal, Christ now is telling evangelicals to behave with mercy and grace towards gays, to stop obsessing over the gender of two people who love each other, but to accept them, to love them.

And if I were a member of "this Church," I'd very much attend to this message Christ has sent our way.

[Read more at Hullabaloo]

Quiet Day at Home

So glad last week is over. Yesterday was a pisser at work.

Last night I made chicken and dumplings for today's lunch. B. loved it. He's off at work now. I also served the kale, which B. refused to eat. He likes the collards, though. Right now I'm making some black-eyed peas with smoked ham hocks.

Last night B. brought home some beautiful orchids, which I put in a water pitcher (q.v.).

I had planned on going to the gym after yesterday's nap, but I didn't wake up till 9:30. I'd set the alarm for 8:45 but the time was on a.m., not p.m. I considered this an "Act of God" and headed off to the store. I really do like going to the gym on Friday nights, however, since the place is practically empty (which is not to say that I like going to the gym).

Will amuse myself a bit further online and then go take a nap. Looks like a storm is brewing outside.

Windy Out

The grey horizontal stripe in the middle of the picture is the roof of the indoor marina next door. Above it to the left, Arch Creek, with Bal Harbour in the distance. In the foreground is the pool deck.

Bougainvillea Down

The wind has been wreaking havoc with the bougainvilleas. (That's why we went out and bought the plastic pots.)

Quote of the Day

"If I wanted money, I would have blackmailed him," Jones said. Evangelicals across America probably wish he had.

--Lauren Sandler, Salon's War Room, quoting homosexual escort Mike Jones

Friday, November 03, 2006

Thursday Nite

One more day till the weekend. Yippee!

This morning, as I was standing at the corner getting ready to cross the street to my bus stop, I noticed something crunching beneath my shoes. I looked down and it was a cigar, or cigars, burned at the tips, arranged in an arc at the edge of the sidewalk. In the grass beyond lay a red and black cloth upon which had been arranged a little tableau of burning red and black candles, sliced fruit, cowrie shells, and what not. It was really quite attractive. Had kind of a gay sensibility to it. B. just told me that today was el dia de los muertos (the Day of the Dead). So we had a little voodoo offering going on at the intersection. That was a first.

Tonite I made kale. I'd never made it before (or eaten it, as far as I know). I must say, I prefer collard greens but they didn't have any at the store.

Going to go watch "Queer as Folk" on Logo. Nite!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Quiet Night (Continued)

(Eating some of that sauerbraten right now, cold. And finishing off the ginger snaps.)

Since I moved in here over 4 years ago, I'd never had a trick-or-treater knock on my door. (The first year, I bought candy.) Last night I had a bunch of them but no candy, so I put ginger snaps in plastic bags and handed them out. Plus B. had a few snack cakes lying around.

Back to the other topic. Nowadays the Republicans will do anything -- anything, no matter how vile and depraved -- to win elections and hold power. It's all about winning -- and playing a dirty game. Since most Americans are basically Democratic in their thinking, the only way Republicans can win is by spreading lies and distortions about the opposition, lying about their own agenda (since the voters otherwise wouldn't approve, e.g., starting needless wars and privatizing everything to enrich themselves and their cronies to the detriment and at the expense of the public), scaring the voters, and subverting the democratic process by tampering with elections. (And of course the Supreme Court helped in one instance.)

As much as today's Republicans lack in principles and scruples, they also lack in ideas. And the mantle of morality in which they cloak themselves is but a thin veil for the hatred and hypocrisy that in essence define them. I just hope the voters will stop being fooled. And we've got to get rid of those paperless voting machines, too.

Time to chill.

Quiet Night at Home

(Hmmmm. I began to type this title and it popped up. I must have used it in the former blog.)

I was going to go to the gym tonite but decided to stay home. B. is at work but has tomorrow night off. It's been hectic around here and also at work. I'm tired. Can make up the gym visit. I haven't been on the blog since Saturday.

Last night I came home and began finishing off a sauerbraten that had been marinating since last Thursday night. I hadn't made this dish in a while. I came to love it years ago while I was an exchange student in Germany. Before then, I don't believe I'd ever had it. At least in the region of Germany where I spent most of the year (Westphalia), this dish was made for special occasions -- I think I first had it at Christmas dinner.

I had run out of juniper berries (for the marinade) a while back and, as expected, the local Publix didn't have them. Rather than make an almost impossible mid-week run to Laurenzo's or Epicure Market, I decided to go with pickling spice, as called for in a recipe from the Fanny Farmer Cookbook. (I'd also gathered up a few recipes from the Web to consult.) The pickling spice did a serviceable job, but I prefer the flavor imparted by the juniper berries and will stick to using those from now on.

Yesterday I also prepared a sauteed cabbage side dish from The Joy of Cooking, along with potato dumplings -- from a box. Both turned out excellent. I'd been afraid to subject finicky B. to the traditional German sweet-and-sour cabbage (which I love) and go with the sauteed cabbage, since I'd made it before and he liked it. This is a rather simple affair -- a grated head of cabbage sauteed in bacon drippings with onion or garlic (I used both) and then baked in the oven with a cup of sour cream. (I also drizzled some vinegar in it.) The last thing I made was the gravy from the meat marinade, thickening it with the usual ginger snaps. Came out great but everything took several hours, including cleaning up the mess in the kitchen. Hence, I'm taking the night off.

Changing the subject. What about all the flap over John Kerry's maliciously misconstrued joke! I'd like to see George Bush come out and apologize for causing the deaths of 2,800 U.S. soldiers and who knows how many Iraqi citizens. (More anon -- have to run to the store.)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

K. on Drugs

He's back on the catnip (my fault!)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Aunt Yvonne, 1932-2006

From the St. Petersburg Times/Brandon Times:

She wouldn't let a debilitating illness ruin her life

Yvonne Pepper, who died Oct. 17, lived more than 20 years with multiple sclerosis .


Published October 27, 2006

In many ways, Yvonne Pepper lived the ordinary life of a housewife and mother. Her ability to inspire others was anything but ordinary.

For more than 20 years, Mrs. Pepper, who died Oct. 17 at age 74, lived with a progressive form of multiple sclerosis.

The condition changed her life and made some of her former activities difficult or impossible, but it never affected her spirit.

"She had some hard times at first right after we got the diagnosis, but as time went on, she just lived her life," said her husband, Richard Pepper of Brandon. "She was definitely an inspiration to her friends and her neighbors, and to her family."

Mrs. Pepper was born in Memphis, Tenn., but moved to Miami with her family when she was about 5 years old.

She was just a sophomore at Miami High School when she met the love of her life, the man who would become her husband of 55 years.

"We had fraternities and sororities in high schools in those days," Richard Pepper said.

"She was in a sorority, and I was in a fraternity. We met after a meeting one night. We just saw each other and that was it."

They married two years later. They celebrated their 55th anniversary shortly before her death.

The Peppers and their children came to Brandon in 1962, when Richard Pepper took a job as a tugboat captain.

In the 1980s, Mrs. Pepper started noticing some numbness and some vision problems.

The Peppers went from doctor to doctor trying to find out what was wrong. They finally got an accurate diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. "Every case of MS is different," Richard Pepper said. "Hers was progressive, but she was lucky compared to some people. She was always able to walk, with a walker, right up until the time she died."

She eventually had to stop doing housework, but she was never the kind of person who would just sit back and let life pass by. She stayed active at Holy Innocents Episcopal Church and was an avid reader, especially of religious books. Her husband said her faith helped her deal with her debilitating condition.

She also remained a devoted mother and grandmother. She loved the Atlanta Braves and her beagle, Chico.

Besides her husband, Mrs. Pepper is survived by four children, Dianne Pepper, Karen Resciniti, Donna Pepper and Jay Pepper, and four grandchildren.

Back to Blogging

I stopped blogging for a while (not that many people noticed). I used to blog under the name "Arch Creek", which has since been taken over (robotically, I suspect) by a gambling site. Ultimately they're the losers -- as you may know, President Bush recently banned internet gambling in the U.S. Meanwhile I'm back with the Arch Creek Blues.

("Arch Creek" is an old name for North Miami, where I live. The building I live in borders the geographical Arch Creek, which feeds into the Intracoastal Waterway. I guess the panoramic view of Miami Beach and the Intracoastal makes up for the recent 100% increase in our condo insurance, which upped the unit's monthly maintenance by 20%.)

Much has happened since I last blogged. B. was in the hospital for over a week at the beginning of July, being detoxed and rehabbed for a Xanax addiction. This drug is difficult (and dangerous) to get off of. Unbeknownst to his doctor, B. tried to quit cold-turkey and ended up having convulsions. I called 911 while he was having a seizure here at home, and the paramedics took him to the nearest hospital emergency room. The next day he was admitted at another hospital for treatment. (He also had a severely lacerated tongue, along with a bad bump on his forehead from hitting the tile floor here, both of which had healed nicely by the time he left the rehab.)

On a happier note, over Labor Day we spent a relaxing week in San Francisco and saw a lot of sights we didn't get to see last year. We also took a guided bus tour of Monterey and Carmel, with beautiful Pebble Beach nestled in between.

Marie Antoinette

Last nite B. and I went to see the movie. Stupendously boring. I wouldn't see it again for free. I'm not much of a Marie Antoinette fan, for that matter, but an article I read in The New Yorker a while back piqued our interest in going to see the movie. (B. and I rarely go to the movies since B. works most weekend nights.) It turned out that the article is a helluva lot more interesting than the movie. Go read it while you can. Yet one thing neither the article nor the movie really gets to the bottom of (no pun intended) is the conjugal problem between Marie and Louis.

According to a 2002 article from the Guardian, "[o]ne of the underlying causes of the French Revolution, the disastrous marriage between Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, has been brought down to size [pun intended, for sure] by a meticulous investigation into the royal couple's sexual incompatibility. Put simply, the king was endowed with a ' bracquemart [sic] assez considérable' - a rather large penis - and Marie-Antoinette suffered from a condition known in the court as ' l'étroitesse du chemin', a narrow vagina, that made her frigid."

"I refuse to believe that it is my daughter's fault," the empress [Marie's mother] wrote to her ambassador at Versailles, maintaining demands for an operation on the king even after several intimate inspections by doctors. They repeatedly said there was no evidence of phimosis, a narrowing of the preputial orifice, a theory that Zweig [a biographer] insisted on after reading nagging letters from the imperial mother-in-law replying to misleading correspondence from her daughter.

From the "Circumstitions" website:
It is widely reported that Louis XVI of France could not father children until he was circumcised. Unfortunately for the story, he was already a father well before the alleged operation. Remondino invented this lie in his history of circumcision. It served his need to find historical precedent for circumcision in Europe, to make the ritual seem less alien and more familiar. These were calculated lies without any historical basis. A more scholarly study from France (Le phimosis de Louis XVI (1754-1793) aurait-il été a l'origine de ses difficultés sexuelles et de sa fecundité retardée? [Prog Urol. 2002; 12(1):132-7] by G. Androutsos) thoroughly debunked this myth.