Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Observations from the Road, six months after the storm known as Sandy

A combination of things sent me south this past weekend. The weather was gorgeous, I had a chance to check out the beach house in Stone Harbor, and a friend was already doing some work in the Asbury Park area so we decided to pack Foxy and take her on the road for a much needed drive. I honestly didn't think of it being six months after Sandy hit but that it was.

The photo I posted with this isn't the best I have ever taken but I have a reason for using it. The road in the photo is Ocean Drive between Avalon and Stone Harbor and it's a road I have driven every summer since I learned to drive. Actually, like many things at the shore, I drove on it before I learned to drive but that's another story. Ocean Drive runs from one end of Seven Mile Island to the other, through Sea Isle City, Avalon, and Stone Harbor. I have driven it in at sunrise in search of fresh sticky buns, in thunder storms, in pre-dawn fog, and at sunset going to Sylvester's for seafood. To me personally it's one of the great roads in the world and seeing a road closed sign on it was one of the saddest things I ever saw. Supposedly going to be open before Memorial Day but if not I'm going to borrow my brother's jeep and drive it anyway.

Stone Harbor itself is in good shape considering it had record rainfall amounts along with record flood levels during the three high tides of Sandy. I was talking to someone who stayed in Avalon during the storm and than helped friends farther north. He said one thing he will never forget is the sight of people's lives piled up at the curb. Furniture, rugs, shore stuff, all water damaged and covered with sand and muck. One of my favorite shops, the Suncatcher, is just off the ocean on 2nd Avenue in Stone Harbor and had two feet of water inside at the worst of the storm but you couldn't tell now other than the total newness of everything inside. Fred's Tavern was also in good shape but nobody would admit whose idea the new menu item was. I passed on the Indonesian Shisk Kabobs and stuck with the burgers and beer.

The barrier islands north of Atlantic City were much more heavily damaged than those to the south even though Sandy came ashore roughly over top of AC. We didn't spend much time in the north but there was one spot I had to see. To most people one of more lasting images of Sandy is the Star Jet roller coaster sitting forlornly in the surf of Seaside Heights. The coaster is still there now, drawing flocks of tourists along with the flocks of sea gulls, but its removal is supposed to happen before Memorial Day too. I'm not so sure about that one.

Politically one thing I found was how dearly refusing to quickly pass Sandy relief legislation cost the Republicans. So many people I talked to swore it would be a long time before they even thought about voting Republican, they felt betrayed. I should note that two Republican lawmakers from Texas, including Senator Ted Cruz, who voted against Sandy aid now want federal aid for West, Texas following the fertilizer plant explosion. I think the Texans should wait a respectable length of time, say six months.

Governor Chris Christie for one doesn't fall into the same category as Congressional Republicans. In Jersey Chris Christie is still a god on the level of his idol Bruce Springsteen.

Many people are still hurting, they can't afford to rebuild homes, the insurance money they get doesn't begin to cover the cost of building at the shore today, and some places are in areas that no longer can get flood insurance. FEMA was working on new flood elevation maps when Sandy hit and now many older homes are in the FEMA's most restricted zones and must be raised or see their flood insurance rates rise from $1,000 a year to $15,000. In the end I think many people will sell family homes to developers who will build more of the million dollar monsters that even now line parts of Ocean Drive.

Sadly I think one of the lasting effects of Sandy on the Jersey shore will be the acceleration of some parts of it turning into a rich man's playground.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Observations on Art 4.29

A quick Monday morning post maybe which may into the "is it art?" category. I don't know if it is or isn't art, I suppose if a tattoo is art this is art, either way it's pretty damn cool. It's semi-nsfw but just say it's art and wave off whoever is looking over your shoulder.

Calligraphy on Girls // Shura from Fierce Frog Films on Vimeo.

Shura Chernozatonskaya is a Brooklyn painter who was born in Moscow. Shura has an MFA from the New York Studio School, had a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum 2012, and has work on display at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Observations 4.28

We finally got a gorgeous spring weekend in the northeast. The way things seem to go now it will probably be the only one we get before the weather jumps right into summer so I decide it was time to check on my shore, the first time I have since Sandy. I knew it was still there but I wanted to see for myself and the need to get Foxy on the road, combined with the weather, made for a good excuse. I'll post more on what we found later.

Last Sunday HBO's Game Of Thrones finished with possibly the so far best scene of the series. I've read five of the books so I knew what was coming but Daenerys' kick ass "I understood every word you said and now you are going to die" scene was done to perfection. Here is a link to the scene, until YouTube takes it down, but the real reason for writing this was I get to use a pic of the mother of all dragons with this post. The problem with GOT is that now we probably wont see Daenerys again for a couple of weeks. Hopefully I'm wrong because that would be such a shame.

On a totally different topic the Out Magazine Gay Power list for 2013 is out and it looks like the news and political people are taking over with Senator Tammy Baldwin, Fox News' Shepard Smith, The New York Times' Nate Silver, CNN's Anderson Cooper, and Rachel Maddow all in the top ten. You can find the complete list here. By the way, I'm not sure if that out pun was intended or not.

A few months ago there was an article in The New York Times T Magazine about a site called Gidsy which I never got around to playing with. As the article says Gidsy "enables travelers and other novelty seekers to find activities organized by what it refers to as "real people." Rather than get into it I'll let you read the article but what is fun is picking a city and searching for tours to see what comes up. Paris has a number of catacomb tours (one called the "Empire of Death" tour), a Monet's Garden bike tour, a chocolate and pastry tasting tour, and to finish the day either a pub crawl or a champagne tasting tour. A visit to New York could be highlighted by the Jewish Gangstas of the Lower East Side Tour, a mobile scavenger hunt, or a paranormal and ghost tour. After any of those tours the three hour historic pub tour, in which you "hear stories of the pubs' histories and the famous drinkers who frequented them," might be a necessary end to your day in New York. It seems like a bargain at $75 but only if drinks are included.

Have you ever read "Reamde" by Neal Stephenson? If you have you seriously need to read this article in Times about former Phillies and Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, "Rhode Island and the Fall of 38 Studios." I swear when I read the article I immediately thought of the Stephenson novel because it seemed like Schilling's company was writing its very own version of T'Rain. If you never read the novel that makes absolutely no sense but the article is worth reading if only for the political side of it.

For some unknown reason the isn't a Sunday Times to be had in South Jersey today and I have no idea how I am supposed to function without one. I suppose I'll have to make do with sticky buns and coffee.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Observations 4.25

Have you ever read something and suddenly have one of those 'light bulb moments' because you realize it's exactly what you thought about the subject? I know it happens all the time but yesterday I had it happen three times and they each involved a different subject. For what it's worth here are the three paragraphs which I'm not going to comment on. Just read them yourself and see what you think.

In HuffPost Arts and Culture John Seed wrote a column called "Has the Art Market Gone Medieval?" In it he wrote; "Just what can you say about a society in which a picture is worth so much when so many are facing poverty? It boggles my mind that one of the four existing versions of Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream" sold last year for $119.9 million. Such a vast sum of money could do so much to relieve suffering, but instead it was spent on a painting of suffering. As the prices of famous works of art rise, are we in some way going backwards in history?"

From Foreign Affairs comes "Generation Kill: A Conversation With General Stanley McChrystal." Near the end of the interview, which was done in December, McChrystal says something very timely given what happened at the Boston Marathon. "And although to the United States, a drone strike seems to have very little risk and very little pain, at the receiving end, it feels like war. Americans have got to understand that. If we were to use our technological capabilities carelessly, I don't think we do, but there's always the danger that you will, then we should not be upset when someone responds with their equivalent, which is a suicide bomb in Central Park, because that's what they can respond with."

The third is also Boston related but more related to the NRA's theory that a gun in every hand is the best answer to gun violence. This is from Susan Milligan, "Boston Proves It Takes a Village" in US News and World Report. "And what would an individual do with an AR-15? Go door-to-door, ferreting out a man who might well have another bomb on him? That's one way to wind up dead, perhaps taking a lot of other people with you."

Finally I have to throw in a tweet I just saw as I was writing this. Today is the dedication of former President Dubya's library and in honor of that event I want to share this from the Daily Kos' David Waldman (@KagroX); "Bush says he has "no desire . . . to enhance my standing." I wouldn't sweat it, dude."

Twitter doesn't get much better than that.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Observations from the Coffee Shop 4.23

The past few weeks showed just how strong parts of our society are, the people and law enforcement, and how pathetically weak and short sighted other parts are, many politicians and members of the media. The strong speak for themselves so as I always seem to do I'll dwell on the pathetic but I'll finish with something positive.

In voting down gun background checks, if you can call it voting down, many senators showed they were above all afraid of the NRA but also afraid of a minority segment of their own constituency. I don't even think I would say it's money, I think many members of Congress now think of it as a career choice and not an honor to serve. They think of holding their position more than anything else. President Obama seems to despise them so much he doesn't want to deal with Congress at all and that is his weakness because a heavy dose of Presidential arm twisting might have swayed enough votes to change the outcome. Maybe 'we the people' are a little weak too because we don't expect better from Congress so in the end we get we we deserve. Time and the next few elections will tell.

In the days after the surviving Boston bomber was caught the same weakness showed itself in a different way. Senators who just the week before would not even allow background checks because of second amendment concerns were ready to suspend any other rights of an American citizen because, as Sen. Lindsey Graham said, 'the homeland is the battlefield' now. I might have to agree with Graham but not because of terrorism. I would agree because of the 30,000 gun deaths in this country every year, the equivalent of a Vietnam War in the streets every two years.

On the media side CNN showed itself so eager to be the first with information that it was often first but also often wrong. The obvious time was when they, along with Fox News and others, reported arrests had been made in the Boston case, when in fact they hadn't been, than spent all afternoon in meltdown explaining why they had been wrong. Not to be outdone the Rupert Murdoch owned New York Post on Thursday ran a photo on its front page of two men it claimed were the bombers. They were incorrect on both counts. This may be the first time in my life that I wished I was a lawyer because if ever there was an ironclad defamation of character suit this is it.

CNN would have been better served by sending Anderson Cooper to West, Texas where he could cover the fertilizer plant explosion that left 14 people dead. Reuters reported that the plant was storing over 1,000 times the ammonium nitrate allowed by law yet most in the media and Congress shrug it off as a sad industrial accident. The Boston Marathon bombing has been called the worst terrorist attack in The United States since the World Trade Center attack yet in the time since than 300,000 have died in gun related deaths and over 60,000 have died in work related accidents. I'm trying to understand why Boston is a terrorist attack yet Newtown and West, Texas are not.

Now the positive. Last week CNN did most of its reporting live from the streets of Boston. I mention that for a reason because the best reporting last week came from Pete Williams of NBC who did all his reporting from a studio in Washington. If you wanted the first info CNN was the place to look but if you wanted the correct information you waited for Williams. Watching events unfold in Boston last Friday was like watching a season of 24 in a single day yet MSNBC/NBC did a totally awesome job all day with Williams reporting from the studio while Katy Tur and others in the streets of Boston. Tur was doing live reports when I woke up Friday morning and still doing them sixteen hours later when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured in a shrink wrapped boat in a Watertown backyard. They really do deserve any praise they get for their coverage.

4/24 update - To add a little to the pathetic part of yesterday's post I give you Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana. When asked why he had voted against background checks Baucus simply said "Montana." Just two weeks later Montana doesn't seem to matter as much as Baucus announced yesterday that he would not be seeking re-election in 2014. Likely to run for his seat is Montana governor Brian Schweitzer a popular Democrat with a 56% approval rating. Baucus blamed Montana for his vote but a poll released in March showed 79% of Montana voters were in favor of background checks.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Observations on Art 4.21

Tuesday wasn't only tax day in the U.S. it was Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci's birthday. It was also the second World Art Day, a fact I seem to have neglected and didn't post anything. Quite honestly it wasn't the best week the world has ever seen but rather than dwell on that fact I thought some art was called for.

Vincent van Gogh painted Field with Flowers near Arles in 1888, two years before his death. What is interesting about it is that he also wrote a description of the subject in a letter to his brother Theo on the 12th of May, 1888. Van Gogh painted over 150 paintings while at Arles including View of Arles with Irises in the Foreground which was at the same location and many times the 'view' is mistaken for the 'field.' Just a bit of art history trivia for you. Both paintings are at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Field with Flowers near Arles, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
"A meadow full of very yellow buttercups, a ditch with iris plants with green leaves, with purple flowers, the town in the background, some grey willow trees, a strip of blue sky. If they don’t mow the meadow I’d like to do this study again, because the subject matter was really beautiful and I had trouble finding the composition. A little town surrounded by countryside entirely covered in yellow and purple flowers. That would really be a Japanese dream, you know."

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Observations from the Coffee Shop 4.20

Yesterday was a day of millions of tweets. Some of the tweets actually had nothing to do with Boston or the manhunt but at 8:58 P.M. the only one that mattered was posted by the Boston Police department.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Observations 4.18

I'll try and keep this short but after yesterday's pathetic vote in the U.S. Senate I felt like doing something. I decided on a simple list, a list of 45 brave Americans who simply think it should be easier to buy a gun than it is to drive a car. Actually it's easier to buy a gun than it is to import a bunch of bananas or take a pineapple home from a trip to Hawaii but I said I would keep it short. I want to give special kudos to Rand Paul who thinks that parents who have lost their children in a slaughter are simply props who have no place in a reasonable debate. But than there was no reasonable debate, just these 45 bought, paid for, and scared senators who care more about their jobs than what their constituents think.

Gabby Giffords wrote an op-ed for today's New York Times that everybody should read. In it she said this; "Our democracy’s history is littered with names we neither remember nor celebrate, people who stood in the way of progress while protecting the powerful. On Wednesday, a number of senators voted to join that list."

This is that list.

Max Baucus (D-MT), (202) 224-2651  
Mark Begich (D-AK), (202) 224-3004  
Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), (202) 224-2043  
Mark Pryor (D-AR), (202) 224-2353

Lamar Alexander (R-TN), (202) 224-4944
Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), (202) 224-3324
John Barrasso (R-WY), (202) 224-6441
Roy Blunt (R-MO), (202) 224-5721
John Boozman (R-AR), (202) 224-4843
Richard Burr (R-NC), (202) 224-3154
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), (202) 224-3521
Dan Coats (R-IN), (202) 224-5623
Tom Coburn (R-OK), (202) 224-5754
Thad Cochran (R-MS), (202) 224-5054
Bob Corker (R-TN), (202) 224-3344
John Cornyn (R-TX), (202) 224-2934
Mike Crapo (R-ID), (202) 224-6142
Ted Cruz (R-TX), (202) 224-5922
Michael Enzi (R-WY), (202) 224-3424
Deb Fischer (R-NE), (202) 224-4521
Jeff Flake (R-AZ), (202) 224-4521
Lindsey Graham (R-SC), (202) 224-5972
Chuck Grassley (R-IA), (202) 224-3744
Orrin Hatch (R-UT), (202) 224-5251
Dean Heller (R-NV), (202) 224-6244
John Hoeven (R-ND), (202) 224-2551
Jim Inhofe (R-OK), (202) 224-4721
Johnny Isakson (R-GA), (202) 224-3643
Mike Johanns (R-NE), (202) 224-4224
Ron Johnson (R-WI), (202) 224-5323
Mike Lee (R-UT), (202) 224-5444
Mitch McConnell (R-KY), (202) 224-2541
Jerry Moran (R-KS), (202) 224-6521
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), (202) 224-6665
Rand Paul (R-KY), (202) 224-4343
Rob Portman (R-OH), (202) 224-3353
James Risch (R-ID), (202) 224-2752
Pat Roberts (R-KS), (202) 224-4774
Marco Rubio (R-FL), (202) 224-3041
Timothy Scott (R-SC), (202) 224-6121
Jeff Sessions (R-AL), (202) 224-4124
Richard Shelby (R-AL), (202) 224-5744
John Thune (R-SD), (202) 224-2321
David Vitter (R-LA), (202) 224-4623
Roger Wicker (R-MS), (202) 224-6253

Senators of the 113th Congress, Official (addresses, email, etc.)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Observations from the Coffee Shop 4.16

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters
As I write this 3 are dead and 126 are still hospitalized, 17 of them in critical condition, after two bombs went off at the Boston Marathon finish line yesterday afternoon. These are just some of my random thoughts from the morning after.

I was working in mid-town yesterday afternoon. It was one of those rare moments when I have my phone turned off but I still knew something happened, something not good. Live in this city long enough and you start to notice when the police are on edge, that and the fact that there were suddenly more and better armed police on the street. Another sure sign is when there are police cars everywhere with their lights on, no sirens, just lights, as if they were putting on a show of force for somebody. It only took a moment to find out what had happened at the Boston Marathon.

As with any news terror in the age of twitter is instantaneous. Rumors are reported as fact and you have to be really careful and think about what you are reading. One thing I found a bit disgusting was how wingnuts of the right immediately blamed middle eastern (read Muslim) terrorists while those of the left were just as fast to blame home grown crazies of the right. Michael Moore simply tweeted "Tax Day? Patriots Day?" and left it hanging. Right wing bloggers attacked the left for politicizing such a sad event but failed to mention that Fox News and the New York Post both reported a Saudi national was in custody and suspected in the bombings. The Post is still reporting today that the Saudi man was being grilled by the FBI because he 'smelled of gunpowder.' Both the Post and Fox News are owned by Rupert Murdoch.

I read somewhere that any normal person would drop to their knees and pray to god upon hearing the news. I have to be honest and say I'm far from normal but I did think of god later in the day. I want to know what kind of supposedly all knowing god kills an eight year old boy in a bomb blast. Indeed this all knowing god seems to have a thing for kids lately. But enough of that, that's a line of thought that never fails to bring me grief.

We like to think we're lucky in this country because there are parts of the world where terror on this scale is a daily occurrence but are we really that lucky? What is a mass shooting if not a pathetic, lonely, and non-political form of terrorism? As happened after Benghazi President Obama is again being criticized for not immediately calling Boston an act of terror but that would just be stating the obvious. Of course it was an act of terror, gas lines don't spew ball bearings when the explode, the question is terror from who. The word terrorism has political connotations that sometimes are best left to the wingnuts.

I saw former Pennsylvania Governor and the first Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge interviewed last night. The reporter was asking Ridge how something like the combing could still happen without any warning when he changed tone asked what person could do to protect themselves. Ridge simply shook his head and said, "Just live your life, just live your life." I found myself nodding as he said it because, for more than one reason, those are words to live by.

Sadly it's the world we now live in now and frankly I don't think it's ever going to change.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Observations 4.14

Last Thursday the Republican National Committee held another in its series of "rebranding" retreats. It released a resolution that had passed unanimously and without any debate whatsoever. "The Resolution for Marriage and Children 2013" included the following paragraphs which I'm not even going to comment on, I think they speak for themselves. It makes me wonder what it feels like to be a political party that is about to be swept aside by history. You can read the full resolution here.

"WHEREAS, the institution of marriage is the solid foundation upon which our society is built and in which children thrive; it is based in the conjugal relationship that only a man and a woman can form;

WHEREAS, no Act of human government can change the reality that marriage is a natural and most desirable union; especially when procreation is a goal;

RESOLVED, the Republican national Committee affirms its support for marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and as the optimum environment in which to raise healthy children for the future of America."

Observations 4.14

I sat down to start writing my Sunday Observations and realized I hadn't written anything all week. My excuse is that it was a busy week. I went to a concert last Sunday night, had some work to get finished, and I had some visitors. My aunt and sister magically appeared at my door.

I'm not sure if I have ever mentioned my aunt before but I should have as she is probably one of the more interesting members of my family. In many ways I'm more like my aunt than I am my mom just as in many ways my aunt and mom are very different. Both loved art but my aunt made it her life as she graduated from two art schools and worked at a few museums including the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Never married she lived in Los Angeles and New York, at one time having an apartment just blocks from where I live now, as well as Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. The Atlanta stop I should ask her about because I never could figure that one out.

My aunt is the world traveling rebellious sister while my mom was the much more serious and at times philosophical one. In that way the two remind me a lot of my sister and I. In art my mom's interests ran more towards classical art and history while my aunt loves all things modern and abstract. When my mom lost her hair during chemo she religiously wore a Penn State cap her daughter forced on her. Last year, after being diagnosed with the same rare cancer as my mom, my aunt refused all offers from my rather large hat collection and acquired a large collection of her own, long printed scarves that flow behind her.

I love my aunt dearly so I'm happy to tell the reason for the surprise visit. As I said last year she was diagnosed with same cancer my mom had. When she started treatment her CSA-125 level was in the thousands, normal is below 35. After two surgeries, months of chemo, and some personal treatments she wont divulge her most recent test showed a level below 1 prompting her doctors to say they have never seen such a dramatic shift and even inviting her to join some sort of cancer study.

So yes, after almost having an aneurysm when I saw them at my door it was a very happy surprise visit. Still, deep down I feel like I should warn her doctors what they are getting themselves into with this study invitation.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday Observations 4.6

I'm going to start by saying I have no idea what Google is doing with Chrome and by extension Google+, blogger, and all it's other web apps. My main problem? Everything is double spaced including menus and bookmarks. The bookmark spacing is what is driving me insane because I save a lot of bookmarks and now I either have to scroll through them or sort them in more folders than I already have.

We were out last night and saw a woman walking a pink poodle, I do not lie. I really need to know what kind of evil causes a person to dye their dog pink. If you have any clue please let me know.

Sometimes it's best to just avoid reading anything related to healthcare because even with Obamacare it seems the country keeps heading in the wrong direction. A headline caught my eye because it involved Express Scripts CEO George Paz and Express Scripts is the company that handles my prescriptions. The article said health plans hire companies like Express Scripts to help keep a lid on prescription drug costs. Last year Paz had a salary of $12.8 million which made me wonder if I now need a company to keep a lid on the costs of the company that keeps a lid on my prescription drug costs.

Back in November MoMA announced the acquisition of its first collection of video games in a blog post that now has over 200 comments. I'm only mentioning it now because the art world controversy it started fascinates me. I'll be the first to say I have a problem with someone standing on the street corner holding a garbage bag art, I've seen it, but there are plenty of people out there who will argue with me like I smashed the holy grail. Now you have these same people almost ill because MoMA considers video games art. Is a film art? Is architecture art? For different reasons both are so why not a video game? If Damien Hirst's spot paintings can be considered some of the greatest art in the history of man I'm sure a classic video game can be considered art too.

In an earlier post I mentioned Christine Quinn running for Mayor of New York. Lately I have been seeing articles written about her temper and arrogance as if this was a bad thing for a politician, including last week in The New York Times. For the record she has a temper and she is arrogant, probably two reasons I like her, but I have to wonder how one is even supposed to dream of being Mayor of New York without being either. Just look at the recent string of Michael Bloomberg, Rudy Giuliani, and Ed Koch, three of the more arrogant politicians you will ever hear of. Now I'm sure plenty has been written about all three's arrogance over the years but not in the 'this woman has a mouth' type of way the Quinn articles are leaning. A former donor is quoted in the Times article as saying Quinn "used the ‘F’word at least 20 times." Sounds familiar.

Finally a bit of total twitter randomness, one of the better profiles I have ever seen, very short and to the point. Actor John Cusack (@johncusack, verified account), Apocalyptic shit disturber and elephant trainer.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Observations from the Coffee Shop 4.4

Over the past few weeks I may have read more about same sex marriage than I ever did before. Whether for marriage or against it everybody has an opinion now and they want it to be known so in no particular order here are a few odds and ends that stand out.

I'm putting this one first because I enjoyed reading it. I know, I said no particular order, but I really did enjoy it. In "The county where no one's gay" CNN's John D. Sutter went to Franklin County, Mississippi because the last census said that, well, there were no gays. My favorite part is this; "When I brought up the topic with a gray-haired woman I met in front of the grocery store in Meadville, she basically told me gay people don't exist, like, at all. "I don't believe in them kind of people. I don't believe in it," she said. "We don't need that same-sex marriage. That is wrong!'" A few paragraphs later Sutter adds, "I didn't even get a chance to tell her she was talking with a real, live gay person." The short version is that yes there are gays in Franklin County, it's just very few people want to admit it. The article is a good follow up to the Harvey Milk quote I used in a previous post.

For possibly the first, and hopefully the last, time I found myself agreeing with Bill O'Reilly; "The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals. That's where the compelling argument is. 'We're Americans, we just want to be treated like everybody else.' That’s a compelling argument. And to deny that, you've got to have a very strong argument on the other side. And the other side hasn't been able to do anything but thump the Bible." Watch the video here.

I've never paid much attention to reddit and now I think I know why. Rules, I can't stand rules, and I'm thinking that until I finished reading reddit's rules and FAQs I'd forget what I had wanted to post. Here is a sample from the reddit LGBT page; "Rule 1: No homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, racism, serophobia, or misogyny. If you are unclear about what may constitute any of the above, please see the LGBT FAQ. If you are using triggering language in an educational or demonstrative capacity, we ask that you please wrap it in a trigger warning, e.g. [](/tw "problematic text"). If you are submitting a post that contains hateful remarks or triggering language, please precede your post's title with [TW]. For example: "[TW] Title of Post."

Matt Taibbi wrote a scathing column in Rolling Stone about a David Brooks column in The New York Times in which Brooks argues that gays are losing their 'freedom' by winning marriage. Taibbi finished with this; "The whole world seems rapidly to be coming to an understanding that this discrimination against gays and lesbians has to end, and the fact that this change is coming is a beautiful thing. You have to be a very unhappy person indeed to feel anything but joy about it, much less this sarcastic depression."

And that line is a fine one to finish this post with.

update - It seems David Brooks has struck a nerve. Here is another column about his thoughts, "David Brooks's Gay Marriage Delusion," by Amy Davidson in The New Yorker. "Brooks’s argument is that it is right and proper that they were (some earlier gay rights goals put aside): now, at last, gays can and should stop worrying about anything but whether their wedding announcement will make it into the Times. They can stop challenging things. They can be smug, too. Brooks, apparently, would consider that only polite."

Monday, April 1, 2013

Observations from the Road 4.1

It's April Fools' Day and what would it be without those fun peeps at Google freaking people out. They announced on the YouTube blog that YouTube has been one big contest all along and that after 8 years they have found the world's best video so will be shutting down at midnight tonight. Google also announced that Google Maps will now come with a treasure mode.

Semi-seriously speaking of Google, the sudden controversy over yesterday's 'Google Doodle' is too funny. So maybe somebody screwed up memorializing Cesar Chavez on his birthday instead of celebrating Easter. Am I serious? No not really but it looked good. So is the doodle all that important? No. Is Easter that important? No. Is everybody suddenly a Christian? No. Would Google have been better off with Easter eggs and a bunny? Very much so. Messed up world.

My dad was always a big Jeopardy fan and he had some info for me that I wish was and April Fools' prank. Supposedly Alex Trebek is finally going through with a retirement announcement and will leave the show in 2016. The rumor is that the front runner to replace him is Matt Lauer. Please no. I'm more of a fan of the Saturday Night Live version of Jeopardy so maybe Will Ferrell is available.

I haven't done any Sunday Observations for a few weeks but there is one thing I need to mention before I lose the note. I was watching MSNBC one night, probably The Last Word, and there it was, my dream panel. Krystal Ball and Alex Wagner seated next to each other. All I needed was the addition of Mika Brzezinski and I could have died a happy girl right then and that's no April Fools' joke, seriously.