Archive | July 2013

The abyss’s game

A few months ago I wrote about my decades long struggle with a specific incident of separating the art from the artist. A writer some of whose work I had enjoyed back in the eighties, removed all doubt about the hints of his extreme homophobia in 1990 when he published a long essay explaining how he didn’t hate anyone, but homosexuals deserved death and worse punishments, which god would mete out upon them some day.

At the time of my earlier post, DC Comics was facing a boycott by comic book stores and fans for having hired Orson Scott Card to write a Superman series. That deal has since been indefinitely suspended. Now, as news of a boycott of the movie adaptation of Card’s most famous work has surfaced, Mr Card is pleading for tolerance, because it’s a policy decision that has now been settled, and it would be unfair for people to punish a book written before this topic was even a political issue.

Card is doing what several of the anti-gay organizations and politicians have been doing the last year, trying to claim that they simply have a disagreement on this one tiny area of policy, and that now they are being punished for holding this reasonable opinion. The truth is, that Card, the National Organization for Marriage (of which he is a board member), and all the others oppose all gay rights, as well as opposing the laws allowing adults (straight and gay) to make a whole slew of decisions about their own sexual and reproductive behavior.

Orson Scott Card is a hateful homophobe who has actively campaigned for (and given money to) efforts to criminalize such behaviors. And it’s something that he has been doing for a lot longer than he would like you to believe.

At the time he wrote Ender’s Game and its sequel, Speaker for the Dead, he stated multiple times that he believed his writing was god’s work. He believed in moral absolutes, he said. He thought any society that didn’t enforce his moral absolutes would collapse, and he wanted to write fiction that demonstrated those ideas. He wrote more than once disparaging the moral relativism of much of science fiction, particularly the original Star Wars movies and novels of Iain Banks.

In that 1990 essay I mentioned above, Card wrote:

Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.

The 1990 essay was written as the culmination of years of defending comments he had made shortly after the publication of Speaker for the Dead to the effect that homosexuality is all about domination and control of others, so of course he had to include homosexual villains in his world, even though he thought homosexuality was a sin and that homosexuals who didn’t repent would deserve whatever bad things that happened to them. Or, as he put in in that essay:

True kindness is to be ever courteous and warm toward individuals, while confronting them always with our rejection of any argument justifying their self-gratification. That will earn us their love and gratitude in the day of their repentance, even if during the time they still embrace their sins they lash out at us as if we were their enemies.. And if it happens that they never repent, then in the day of their grief they cannot blame us for helping them deceive and destroy themselves. That is how we keep ourselves unspotted by the blood of this generation…

In 2003 Mr Card was really angry at the Supreme Court for saying that laws which criminalized private sexual behavior between consenting adults were unconstitutional, and among other things he wrote:

There is no such thing on this earth as a human society that does not closely regulate the sexual and reproductive behavior of its members, to one degree or another.

In 2004 Mr Card wrote in The Rhinoceros Times:

However emotionally bonded a pair of homosexual lovers may feel themselves to be, what they are doing is not marriage. Nor does society benefit in any way from treating it as if it were… In fact, it will do harm. Nowhere near as much harm as we have already done through divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing. But it’s another nail in the coffin.

In 2008 Mr Card wrote in an op-ed piece for the Mormon Times:

Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.

In 2012, again writing for the Rhinoceros Times, he said:

Heterosexual pair-bonding has been at the heart of human evolution from the time we divided off from the chimps. Normalizing a dysfunction will only make ours into a society that corrodes any loyalty to it, as parents see that our laws and institutions now work against the reproductive success (not to mention happiness) of the next generation.

You can read a whole lot of this on his own site, because he reposts most of his essays. He has disavowed some of his previous positions, but he’s also demonstrated a remarkable ability to change his tune back and forth as seems appropriate. Back in 2004, for instance, in an interview he disavowed some of the lies about gay people he had previously spouted in his editorial writings, and said that he no longer supported reinstating sodomy laws. Then he turned right around and as a Board Member for NOM voted to use those same lies and tactics in campaign commercials against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t tell, and the passage of civil unions and marriage equality laws. As recently as the 2012 election, he’s authorized the same arguments for restoring sodomy laws as part of those campaigns supposedly defending traditional marriage.

On his web site he appeals to democracy a lot, decrying most of the civil rights progress (not just gay rights — he opposes divorce, access to birth control, and thinks that unmarried woman who have babies should face substantial penalties from society) because he thinks it is largely imposed by the courts.

Which I find particularly hilarious since a deep loathing for the notion of allowing people to make their own choices is obvious in every piece of fiction Card wrote, especially Ender’s Game. If you don’t remember that theme, and feel an urge to tell me how I fail to appreciate the brilliance of his work, go back and read your old copy of Ender’s Game, paying especial attention to the story arc of Peter, who eventually becomes a “benevolent dictator.”

Then we can talk.

Orson Scott Card is a hypocrite and a bigot who has used distortions and outright lies to hurt innocent people. He has renounced those lies and distortions when it is politically convenient, and then gone right back to using them as soon as possible. Now, he’s just a sore loser who hopes to make some decent money in Hollywood. And how much would you like to bet that he’s going to keep pouring part of his money into groups like NOM, and go right back to spreading the lies and distortions?

It’s time to stop giving him a pass. It’s time to stop giving him money, no matter how indirectly.

Premiere Imagined Injury Firm

I was going to write about all the people wailing about the harm that marriage equality is causing the world, such as an email from the National Organization for Marriage which asked for donations eight times. Eight pleas (each with a link to the donate button back on their web page!) in a single email message!

But then Mark Fiore posted this funny video that says it better than I could:

And while I’m linking, PolitiFact takes a look at the other claim being thrown around by the anti-gay folks: Wedding vendors have been forced to participate in same-sex marriages under threat or even jail, Family Research Council president says.

The concept of businesses as public accommodations which cannot discriminate against customers has been around for a lot longer than the gay marriage debate—the 1964 Civil Rights Act, for instance. If you are open to the public and offering goods and services for sale, you can’t discriminate. To a lot of people this sounds odd, until you frame it this way:

Imagine a grocery store owner in a small rural community, it’s the only grocery store for miles. Should that grocery store owner be able to refuse to sell food to someone because of his personal beliefs? “No Lutherans Allowed,” for instance?

You buy a business license, you hang your sign out, you open your doors (accessed by public roads and public sidewalks), and you say, “Come in and buy!” Then you have to open those doors to everyone who will pay, behave civilly, and so on. It doesn’t matter if you’re a grocery store, or a restaurant, or a bakery, or a flower shop. You have offered your merchandise to the general public, you have to allow the general public to buy them.

It’s really that simple.

Defining me

I’m a member of several tribes.

I’m queer. I end up writing a lot about LGBT issues because:

  • I’m gay;
  • society is still pretty messed up in how it deals with lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and otherwise queer people;
  • many parts of society are becoming less biased about all of that, so there is frequently cool news to share about that;
  • and the parts of society that aren’t feel threatened by all this change and are going to ever more ridiculous efforts to make us go away, which also generates news items worth sharing (or ranting) about.

I’m a nerd. I write slightly less frequently about fantasy, science fiction, and related subjects. But a rather larger portion of my life is involved in pursuing various forms of the fantastic than everything else. It forms another of my tribes. Or a loose confederacy of a bunch of related tribes. Or something.

I’m a geek. I majored in mathematics in university, and took some classes that were supposed to be only for engineering and physics majors. I work with computers. I was a LAN administrator back when most companies didn’t have IT departments, I have racked and stacked, I’m reasonably fluent at the command line of UNIX and Linux systems, I’ve done a bit of programming, I design interfaces, and I routinely figure out (and by figure out, I mean digging into configuration files and scripts and sometimes compiled components and making the software do stuff they don’t tell you it can do) large complicated software systems without consulting manuals.

I’m a writer. By avocation I’m a storyteller. I’ve been lucky enough that my day job has been about writing/creating/designing documentation for a quarter of a century now. I’m at a point in my career where I do a lot more information architecture than actual typing of words, but it’s all about telling someone about something and how to use it. At home I write fantasy, science fiction, and mysteries. Sometimes I get them published. Sometimes I publish them myself.

I make art. I’m not great at drawing or painting, though I do both. I am pretty good at designing books and book covers. I’m inordinately fond of fonts. I sing, I compose music, I play some instruments. I assemble unrelated bits and pieces into weird wholes which some people find interesting.

I’m a collector:

  • Books
  • Dictionaries
  • Dice
  • Plushies
  • Gadgets
  • Pencils
  • Encyclopdias
  • Music
  • Tigers
  • Toys
  • T-shirts
  • Otters
  • Reference books
  • Sketchbooks
  • Ponies
  • Movies

I love purple. Of all the tribes to which I belong, the purple tribe is perhaps the hardest to explain to non-members. It isn’t just about the color, but purple is everything.

I believe. I believe that the universe makes sense on a fundamental level, even though it is also deeply weird and fuzzy. I believe in the power of mathematics, which is just a way of saying that I believe in the power of thinking, because mathematics is simply an extremely formalized way of applying our thinking processes. I believe that people are capable of breathtakingly beautiful acts of love and kindness. I believe that there are absolute matters of right and wrong, but an infinite variety of mitigation; and by absolute I do mean absolute—morality doesn’t come from a divine being, if divine beings exist he/she/they are subject to morality and just as capable as we are of screwing up.

Hi, I’m Gene, and I’m a ________.

“So, why isn’t your husband here?”

I’m sharing a table at the vendor’s room of EverfreeNW, a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic convention.

I love going to conventions. I love going to conventions in order to spend time with friends who I don’t get to see as often as I like, to see and occasionally buy cool and odd things, to get away from mundanity for a few days, and sometimes to learn new things. Because I am a big introvert, I don’t really do well at the kinds of convention activities where one is required to interact in an open-ended way with a lot of strangers.

Oddly enough, I have discovered that the best way to see all the cool costumes, nifty artwork, and so on, while avoiding too much stranger interact is to staff a table at the convention and try to sell stuff. This may sound like a contradiction, but the structure of the dealer’s den means that generally I am only interacting with strangers in a limited number of ways. I am usually simply answering questions about the merchandise at the table. I’m not a hard-sell kind of guy. I will try to make eye contact and smile or greet people who are looking at the merchandise, but then I let them make the next move.

It is easy to spend the time when people aren’t asking questions writing. The last many years I usually have either my Macbook or my iPad with a bluetooth keyboard. Previous years I would have a notebook and a pencil. I wrote the first draft of one of the funniest, horror/epic fantasy/Christmas ghost story cross-over pieces ever entirely by hand in a dealer’s den in Chicago one con, for instance.

I got a lot of writing done on the first day of EverfreeNW.

I also had a lot of cool conversations. One of things I’m selling are a bunch of our duplicate 2-inch vinyl pony toys. We bought several extra boxes of them last year to do our pony-themed Christmas tree. So I had a box full of them which people were picking through looking for their favorite characters. One woman kept holding up some of the obscurer (“background ponies”) characters and asking me their names. I had to confess that I don’t recognize a lot of them, either.

At one point I said, “I’m sorry. My husband knows the names of most of the background ponies, not me.”

“Why isn’t your husband here, then?” she asked.

I pointed to the enormous line of hundreds of people waiting for registration. I had been hearing stories all day that people were waiting in line for hours to buy their memberships. I said, “My husband is on registration staff. I don’t know when I’ll see him again.”

“Oh, yeah, you may not see him again until the con is over.” She went back to looking at the ponies. “I must say, even though they’re being slammed, the people who waited on me were all very nice and helpful.”

She bought about half a dozen ponies.

Several other fun conversations were with younger kids about buttons. My husband has recycled a lot of the packaging material for some of the pony toys by turning them into pin-back buttons. The buttons are popular with lots of folks, but the kids seem especially enamored of the buttons. Most of the conversations centered around which is their favorite character, and what the best picture of said character was that we had on a button.

I noticed that the younger kinds most liked the inch-and-a-quarter size. Though the slightly older ones would pick the small buttons, then realize that the price was the same for a big one, and go looking for a large one with the same character. Because the buttons have been made by cutting out pre-printed packaging, we seldom have the exact same pose in both sizes.

One girl tried to talk her younger sister into switching to a bigger one of the same character. “No! This one’s better!”

Can’t argue with that!

Why ponies?

I’m a fan of lots of things, and I’m used to most people not quite understanding my obsessions. Many of the other kids watched Lost In Space, for instance, while it was running in prime time during first and second grades, but didn’t understand why I still liked to watch the reruns in sixth grade. And none of them seemed to be watching Star Trek when it was on prime time, so I got a lot of blank looks if I talked about it, until years later when it became a big hit in syndication. Similarly, all the kids knew who Superman and Batman were, but thought I was weird for reading the Avengers and Doctor Strange.

Once we finally moved to a town big enough to have a significant sci fi contingent (10th grade), I started feeling a little less like a freak. And when, that summer, the original Star Wars came out, it seemed for a while as if everyone was at least a bit of a freak. Though I still got some funny looks and rolled eyes when people found out that I had driven to a large screen theatre in another state 13 times just to see Star Wars on the highest quality screen and sound system I could find.

And so for the last couple of years I’ve found myself having to explain the appeal of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, a show originally intended for little girls.

The truth is, I resisted watching it. When I first heard about the Brony phenomenon, I thought it was mildly amusing, but more because other people were making such a big deal out of young adult men watching a kid’s cartoon. Then one of my friends started showing episodes to my husband while we were all at a comics con together, and though I tried not to watch, I couldn’t resist.

The answer to “why ponies?” is simply that the scripts were well written. Yes, Lauren Faust, the producer for this relaunch of My Little Pony, had wanted to create a show for little girls, but specifically she wanted to get away from the sexist assumptions of most toys and shows aimed at little girls. She wanted a story that treated girls as humans, not little princesses who are only interested in dolls. So the six main characters, all female, are written as six young adults with diverse interests and occupations. We have an athlete, a baker, an animal caretaker, a farmer, a designer/seamstress, and a librarian. The emphasis, in the first season, at least, was less on outlandish mystical villains (though, yes, there are a couple of those) and more on personality conflicts, misunderstandings, and mundane misadventures.

More importantly, the writers don’t generally talk down to the audience. Instead of writing stories that will appeal only to children (or what some adults think would appeal to children), they write character-driven stories.

It reminds me of a theme I read again and again back in the days when I regularly read Writers Digest and The Writer magazine: a good children’s story was a good story, period. Every established children’s author or editor of children’s publications has tons of stories of meeting aspiring writers who have the mistaken notion that writing for children is a good place to start, because children’s writing is easier, because children are simple, right?

Children are people, they just don’t have as much experience as adults. Yes, there are areas of the brain that don’t reach full development until mid-to-late twenties, there are topics that children may not have the emotional maturity or context to handle easily, and there are topics that society generally agrees aren’t appropriate to share with children. Their priorities and perspectives are different, but they aren’t stupid and they aren’t simple-minded. Their stories, therefore, shouldn’t be dumbed-down versions of adult stories.

And that was certainly the case in the first couple seasons of the show.

Another thing I like about the show is the utter lack of cynicism within the stories and so far as I can tell in the execution of the series. It’s just a fun, often joyful experience.

I understand why some people don’t like the show. I understand why some people think it is strange that adults follow the show, organize conventions to talk about it, and so forth. But then, I also think that more people should ask just what the appeal is to so many otherwise intelligent adults of the by-the-numbers, totally unchallenging, practically sleep-written Law & Order franchises.

Come on! What’s with that?

All American Music

Here’s an interesting video for this Independence Day:

Steve Grand, the performer, doesn’t have a label, yet, but you can buy this song here
What music post from me would be complete without Kazaky?

No Independence Day is complete without Ray Charles’ “America the Beautiful”

And I always have to post a song from the musical 1776 on this day:

The Last Founding Father

Unlike certain former governors I could name, I can name my favorite Founding Father: Thomas Jefferson. Not only do I have a favorite, I have gotten into debates with friends about why he was the best of the Founders.

But not only do I have a favorite, I also have a second favorite: James Madison. And while I have written about Jefferson many times, Madison deserves some praise.

Madison was the son of a tobacco plantation owner in the colony of Virginia. As the eldest son of a wealthy landowner, he had been tutored in the classics, mathematics, geography, and so on. In college he continued his interest in the classics, also studying Hebrew, philosophy, and law.

It was during this time that his letters to friends began to mention his discomfort with the persecution of Baptists. In Virginia at the time it was illegal to preach without a license from the Church of England (a law that continued after independence, when the Church changed its name to the Episcopal Church, and continued as the official church of Virginia). Madison’s family leaned toward Presbyterianism, though several of his cousins were clergymen in the Church of England, and one became a Bishop. Madison never experienced the sting of this religious persecution personally, but he felt that it was wrong for the law to impose one church upon everyone.

Madison was still a young man when he was elected to the Virginia Colonial legislature. It was as a delegate that he met Thomas Jefferson, with whom he formed a friendly working relationship. Madison remained in the legislature through the war of independence.

After the war, Madison became acquainted with Elijah Craig, a wealthy distiller and a Baptist who had been jailed numerous times for preaching without a license. Madison began working with Craig to introduce laws in the Virginia assembly to protect churches other than the official state church. Jefferson was keen on the idea, but thought Madison was going about it too timidly. When Jefferson began to champion the cause of disestablishing an official state church altogether, Madison threw his support behind it, and eventually the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom was passed.

In 1787, when it became clear to everyone that the weak central government that had been established after the revolution was not working, Madison was one of the delegates to what became the Constitutional Convention. Madison arrived at the convention with an outline for a new government, and it became the starting point. Although the final constitution drafted hardly resembled Madison’s outline at all by the time they were finished, the entire debate had consisted of amending and expanding on Madison’s idea, prompting many to start calling him the Father of the Constitution.

Madison was the source of one of the most brilliant ideas in the Constitution: the notion that two sovereigns meant more liberty, not less. Each citizen is answerable to both their state and the federal government, but each state is answerable to its citizens and to the rest of the states through the agency of the federal government. Similarly the federal government is answerable both to the states and the citizens. If a citizen feels wronged by his state, he can appeal to the federal government, for instance.

Madison was one of the key authors of the Federalist Papers, which were a series of essays explaining why the new Constitution was necessary.

After the Constitution was ratified, Madison was elected to the House or Representatives. Many people repeat the myth that several states ratified the Constitution on the condition that a Bill of Rights (listing specific rights that citizens could never be deprived of) would be added. That’s simply not true. Several delegates of the original Constitutional Convention thought there ought to be a Bill of Rights, but not a majority. During the debates throughout the states during ratification, many of the Anti-Federalists raised the lack of a Bill of Rights as an argument against ratification. In several of the states there were attempts to add a requirement for a Bill of Rights, but not one state actually passed such a requirement.

Madison had been of a mixed mind on the matter. He feared that if a specific list was drafted, future generations might argue that those would be the only rights people had (I’m looking at you, Justice Scalia), but he also worried about what would happen without an explicit list. He worried a lot about the “tyranny of the majority”—the fact that people in the majority could force their views on others, such as the laws that made it a crime to preach one’s religion if one wasn’t certified by the official church.

So, he arrived at Congress with a list, and introduced a bill to amend the new constitution.

Eventually, his list, rearranged and revised slightly, became 12 separate clauses that were passed by Congress and sent to the states. Ten of them were adopted within a few years, the First granting freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, and the right of all citizens to petition the government. The second protected the right to keep and bear arms (though not for the reasons most people think). The third guaranteed that citizens could not be compelled to provide free room and board to soldiers (a source of painful memories shortly after the revolution, which seems a bit odd to us now). The fourth protects against unreasonable search and seizure, requiring warrants with probable cause. And so on, until the tenth, which covered Madison’s big worry by explicitly saying that any power not specifically mentioned in the constitution as belonging to the federal government belongs to the states and to individual citizens.

One other of Mr Madison’s original 12 wasn’t ratified until just over 200 years later, becoming the Twenty-seventh Amendment, limiting changes in salary of members of congress (and in certain circumstances, other officials) from taking effect until a new election of the House of Representatives has taken place.

Madison didn’t like it when people referred to him as Father of the Constitution (even his friend, Thomas Jefferson insisted on calling the document itself, “Mr Madison’s Constitution” for the rest of his life), but he was proud when they called him Father of the Bill of Rights.

Madison later served as Secretary of State when Jefferson was President, and was subsequently elected the fourth President of the United States. He was President during the War of 1812, the prosecution of which changed his mind about the need for the country to have a standing army, as well as a national banking system.

After leaving the Presidency, he retired to the family plantation, which had entered into financial difficulties while being managed by Madison’s stepson.

His last work in government was as a delegate, at the age of 78, to a constitutional convention for the State of Virginia. The primary accomplishment of the convention was to remove the requirement that a man had to own property in order to vote (yes, that was still happening in 1829), but the convention failed to resolve the equal apportionment of delegates in the legislature, which Madison had championed.

Madison’s most famous accomplishment may be the Bill of Rights, but what I admired about him was his passion for increasing liberty and improving the ways government served the people. And I love that he always came prepared with a proposal, but was also always ready to accept revisions in service of the greater goal. He had strong opinions, and spoke both eloquently and passionately for them, but he wasn’t afraid to admit when he had been wrong, and to sincerely change course when necessary.

His philosophy might be best summed up by something he wrote in the Federalist Papers:

It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part… In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of nature, where the weaker individual is not secured against the violence of the stronger.

By the time he died on June 28, 1836, every other man who is considered a Founding Father of the U.S. had died before him. He was the last Founding Father, but no one could say that he was the least.

Second Notice? Really?

Even though I pay almost all of my bills online, I have so far resisted the offers of the various services and agencies I have to send regular payments to to go “paperless.” Getting the bill in the mail reminds me to set up the payment. And given the unpredictability of email spam filters, I’m just a little nervous about relying on email notifications solely for my mail.

Before you start composing a comment telling me how to add an address or a domain to a whitelist, let me remind you that first, I’m a tech writer in the telecommunications industry—I have been part of the development team for products that process email; I understand about whitelists, I do.

The problem is that sometimes someone at an upstream provider will change the way a filter works. Or the company sending me the notification may make a change in the way emails are sent. And sometimes spam filters are just glitchy. I just recently had an incident where three messages were sent to me within a few days from the same sender to my account. The middle of the three was snagged by the spam filter, which made the third message a bit confusing. When I found the missing message and compared the header information in it to the two that got through, they were all identical.

So, for now, I’m sticking to paper for bills.

It seems, however, as more and more of us do most of our communicating on line, that the junk mail people are sending out twice as much junk mail, hoping somehow to get our attention. And they are going to greater lengths to make the junk mail look like something other than what it is. “Official documents enclosed” or “Response required by (date)”

There has always been some junk mail like that, but it seems to be getting worse.

And then there is the not-quite-junk-mail. I contribute to a number of causes. I’m a bit random about it. Each month after I set up all the payments for the bills coming due, I’ll ask myself, “Who haven’t I give a donation to in a while?” And so I’ll log into the web pages of a couple of these causes and make a small donation.

During election years I wind up throwing a lot of these donations to either candidates who have done something I think justifies my support, as well as a few of the more general party organizations. I’ve been doing this for years, and have gotten used to receiving mail from all of these organization asking for a new donation on a regular basis.

I’ve noticed that at least two of the party-affliated committees have begun to send out requests for donations with phrases such as “Second Notice” and “Final Notice” printed in red, which makes one think it’s an overdue bill.

But it isn’t an overdue bill. They have set themselves an arbitrary target by an arbitrary or semi-arbitrary deadline, and the previous month’s plea for a donation said something about, “Help us achieve the important goal of raising $XXX,XXX before the next filing deadline!” And if you haven’t sent in any money, then you get this so-called “second notice” saying, “We told you how important this deadline is, but we haven’t heard from you!”

It’s a donation! One of the ways that donations differ from bills is that a donation doesn’t have a deadline. A donation is voluntary. A bill is an obligation. I signed up for some service (electricity, cell phone, internet, what have you) and agreed to pay an amount on a monthly basis. There is a deadline because it is an obligation. If I don’t pay the obligation when agreed, then certain penalties will apply, possibly including having the service turned off.

But if I don’t meet this wholly made-up deadline for your fundraising goals, I’m not skipping out an an obligation. I have no obligation to donate.


The coffeehouse closes

I don’t remember exactly when it was that I first read a post at Pam’s House Blend. One of the other news blogs I read posted a link to a story, I clicked it, and was immediately charmed by the logo of a coffee cup next to the blog title, with the tag line, “Always steamin'”

The blog, and its creator, Pam Spaulding, has been a good source for news related to the equality—particularly for women, racial minorities, and the LGBT community. Writing from North Carolina, Pam brought us news and commentary leavened with a bit of humor and the friendly attitude implied by the coffeehouse theme. Both Pam and the blog have won awards for online journalism.

I really felt as if I were sitting down with a cup of coffee and chatting about the news while reading her blog.

Today is the last day for Pam’s House Blend. In her announcement (which I linked above) about closing down the blog, she mentions her health issues, and alludes to the difficulties in being an unpaid citizen journalist while trying to keep one’s day job.

I know some of her regular contributors will be launching a new blog to continue reporting on the types of issues Pam’s House Blend was known for. And anyone who has read her commentaries knows that Pam is going to keep speaking her mind and standing up against prejudice.

But I’m going to miss my regular visits to the virtual coffee house.

Farewell, Pam, and thanks.

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