Monthly Archives: January 2014

Friday Links (Super-habitable Edition)!

It’s yet another Friday, here’s a yet another collection of news and other things that struck me as worthy of being shared:

We’re All Still Secretly Using Our 1990s AOL Screen Names. Why? (Thanks to Seashellseller for the link!)

Let Love Define Family: Becoming Dads Again.

And Journalists Wonder Why Anarchists Don’t Trust Us to Be Fair.

New York Gives Sean Hannity the Finger With Daily Show Musical Number.

How We Know Gravity is Not (Just) a Force.

Early Europeans had dark skin and blue eyes.

Alpha Centauri B may have “superhabitable” worlds.

Yet Another Study Validates Same-Sex Parenting.

Rise of the Cetacea: Part II – The Ambulocetids.


How the Colors Got Their Names.

NOM determined to divide GOP, define it by discrimination.

It’s Raining Men becomes anti-Ukip protest song. Three decades after its original release, the single re-enters the charts thanks to a social media campaign launched in response to David Silvester’s remarks that the bad weather is a punishment for its gay marriage laws

Here’s The 2014 GLAAD Award Nominees, From ‘Blue Is The Warmest Color’ to Lady Gaga to ‘Orange Is The New Black’.

Stop Beating a Dead Fox. I disagree with Rich’s conclusion for reasons I may go into elsewhere, but: “With a median viewer age now at 68 according to Nielsen data through mid-January… Fox is in essence a retirement community.” and “Hard as it may be to fathom, Fox Nation is even more monochromatically white than the GOP is, let alone the American nation. Two percent of Mitt Romney’s voters were black. According to new Nielsen data, only 1.1 percent of Fox News’s prime-time viewership is (as opposed to 25 percent for MSNBC, 14 percent for CNN, and an average of roughly 12 percent for the three broadcast networks’ evening news programs).”

The Problem with “Don’t Feed the Trolls”: Steph Guthrie at TEDxTor (Thanks to Sheryl for the link!):

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Google Street View does seem to go just about everywhere…. (Click on the double arrows!)

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A nice cover of “Say Something – A Great Big World” (Thanks to Zacky for the link!)

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Ms Ana Matronic and Bright Light, Bright Light created a cool cover of “West End Girls” for a charity gig:

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“Just ignore them!”
Not quite toothless…
Frank Rich has a very well-written piece at New York Magazine, “Stop Beating a Dead Fox,” that is currently making the rounds. Rich does an excellent job laying out the declining ratings for Fox News, including a look at the demographics of its dwindling audience. There’s also some interesting explanation of why Fox has been both very slow and ludicrously clueless about how to integrate the net in general and social media in particular into its service and coverage. The reporting half of the article is really very good, and you ought to give it a read.

However, the most passionate part of his argument is the claim that when those of us who don’t share Fox’s ideology react to the latest outrageous commentary or false story, we’re simply giving them the attention they want. And we should stop doing that. That sounds eerily like the advice I used to get from some adults regarding some of my most frequent childhood bullies. And it is just one of the deep flaws I see in Mr. Rich’s arguments… Continue reading “Just ignore them!”

Mirror, mirror…

Can with a TV remote.
Obviously not actually me, as there is only one remote in the picture…
Several years ago I was reading about the new shows coming out the next season, and one, The Big Bang Theory, sounded like exactly the sort of show that I would hate. So I didn’t make any attempt to watch any episodes. Not very long after the season started, I heard from a few different acquaintances that it was not a good show. The specific comments were that it made fun of nerds by portraying them in completely exaggerated, stereotypical, and unrealistic ways. So I continued to ignore it for all of the first season.

And then another nerdy/geek/fannish friend happened to mention, midway through the second season, that he was strangely addicted to the show. I mentioned the reasons I had assumed I wouldn’t like it, and he said, “Oh, me too!” Then he explained how his wife (a person who has been even more immersed in fannish culture than either her hubby or me) had watched the first season on Netflix. “I tried to ignore, and work on stuff on my computer. But it kept making me laugh… and it usually made me laugh because the characters acted exactly like some of our friends.”

Continue reading Mirror, mirror…

Four-color boy’s club…

Male superheroes in revealing costumes.
If only…
I love superheroes. I read superhero comic books sporadically as a young kid, but didn’t get into seriously following them until I was a teen-ager. Even then, I thought the costume choices artists made were a little weird. I understood why Batman’s costume was mostly black and grey and covered most of his pale skin, because his crimefighting style included lurking in shadows a lot, but if Wonder Woman could fight crime in what was basically a one-piece bathing suit, why did Superman (who had similar super powers and fighting style) need to cover everything up?

On the other hand, since Captain America’s costume included armor (in the the silver age comics the costume included chain mail on his torso!) why didn’t Batgirl take advantage of similar protection?

The classic costume for Marvel's Valkryie.
Marvel’s Valkyrie. Seriously?
And then, when the Valkyrie was introduced in the pages of the Defenders, she had armor… Except originally it was only her breasts that were armored, everything else was either covered with spandex or it was bare. And that made absolutely no sense at all! Yeah, she has those shiny metallic wristbands and the upper arm bands, but those look more like jewelry than body armor, right? (Saddest of all, within the story, Valkyrie was created by an evil Asgardian goddess for the express purpose of proving that women were the equal of men! Her superstrength originally only worked when fighting males. Take a guess as to how long after the character joined the superhero group before a story line saw her falsely accused of a crime and sent to a women’s prison, where the artist got to draw a lot of ridiculous women’s prison scenes…) Continue reading Four-color boy’s club…

Eyes on the road

Cat driving.
Just trying to get somewhere.
Some days I wonder who has stolen the brains of all the other drivers. Recently, while I was giving my hubby a ride to work (one of my favorite parts of work-from-home day is taking him to work, because that means I need to go pick him up at the end of the day, which means I see him sooner!), just a few blocks from our house, a driver, rather than pulling into the middle turn lane to make a left turn, instead turned sideways, blocking both the middle lane and our lane. That’s when I should have realized that it wasn’t Friday, no it was Stick Out Into Traffic Day. Continue reading Eyes on the road

Friday Links!

It’s yet another Friday, here’s a yet another collection of news and other things that struck me as worthy of being shared:

Soap Has a Gender?.

Pastor, 53, arrested at the airport after ‘stabbing his wife to death was heading to Europe to marry his boyfriend’.

Christians aren’t being driven out of public life – they’re just losing their unfair advantages. Money quote: “The venues’ uncertainty was not about hosting Christians; it was about hosting a political event covered in religious fairy dust.”

Labor Board Rules Against Bakery Taken Down By LGBT Protest.

How the Geocentric Model of the Universe Worked [Video]. Great video! You really need to see it.

Michigan GOP official: ‘Herd all the Indians’ to Detroit, build a fence and throw in corn. This is NOT a reprint from the 1800s…

A meditation on a random stranger’s slur.

The five best punctuation marks in literature. More specifically, the author explains five instances where famous writers used punctuation in a particularly interesting/important way.

A Newly Deciphered Babylonian Tablet Details Blueprints for “Noah’s Ark”. More accurately: “…blueprint for the Noah’s Ark myth.”

Why is mathematics the language of the universe? Though the real answer is given in my soon-to-be-published fantasy novel…

An Evolutionary Theory For Why You Love Glossy Things.

Robert De Niro Debuts Documentary About His Late Gay Father At Sundance.

UK Lawmaker’s Gay Marriage Claim Prompts ‘It’s Raining Men’ Facebook Campaign.

Ten literary quotes we all get wrong.

No, buddy, you have NOT been friendzoned. She has been girlfriendzoned by you…. (Thanks to Sky for the link!)

Best family Christmas vid ever:

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Everyone likes a puzzle, but…

Otter in a log.
“You’ll never guess what I found carved inside this log!”
I’ve been known to plot overly complicated puzzles for my roleplaying group. I’ve been known to plot stories with intricate interrelationships between characters and groups of characters. I worry, while writing some stories, that I have put in too many characters, or too many subplots, or hidden clues too subtly for the reader to follow.

But nothing I have every concocted is one-billionth as elaborate or labyrinthine as the puzzles supposedly concocted by various historical figures in order to hide treasures, warn future generations of impending doom, explain to allies how to defeat evil forces, and so forth as chronicled in the typical suspense/thriller/historical mystery: A strange epitaph carved onto an old tombstone leads to a cryptic phrase engraved on the wall of an old building, which points to the hiding place of an old family Bible, which has more cryptic phrases hidden in invisible ink on certain pages, which leads to the map that can only be seen by finding six antique objects and arranging them in a specific formation, which shows the location of a hidden crypt, which is accessed by recognizing an obscure symbol on a brick, which leads to another hidden map, which points the way to another part of the old family Bible where another cryptic clue is hidden in almost random looking dots on the edge of a page, which shows the location of a hidden room under an old church… Continue reading Everyone likes a puzzle, but…

The jerk on the tube

Teen with gun held to his head.
A screen grab from one of the many videos posted last year by groups who kidnapped, tortured, and occasionally killed teens who were alleged to be gay.
So, during what is allegedly a serious news program, after others sitting at the table talked about the violent arrests made under Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” laws, and the hate crimes committed by private citizens (including murdering teen-agers suspected of being gay) who felt emboldened by those laws, the moderator asked a Republican strategist if she thought Russian President Vladimir Putin would punish any gay athletes, tourists, and so forth, at the Olympics. She responded with the following: “Can I just say that I’m so sick of sports? Someone came up this week and said, I am not gay and I know I’m going to get in trouble for this, but all of my gay friends thinks he [Putin] looks so buff in his shirtless photos.”

First of all, what kind of heartless jerk think that’s an appropriate response right after someone has talked about teen-age kids being tortured and murdered?

Never mind that it’s a complete non sequitur, do you really expect us to believe, Mrs. Wealthy Republican Campaign Consultant, that you actually have gay friends…? Continue reading The jerk on the tube

Actions speak louder than words

Credit: Associated Press)
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bayard Rustin in a file photo from 1956.
Not wanting to co-opt another community’s struggle, I don’t usually write anything about Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. But since certain other people with far less right than I do have, and have done so as a way to shore up their own anti-gay agenda, I feel an obligation to make a couple of observations.

Bayard Rustin is probably most famous as the man who handled all the organizational details of Dr. King’s 1963 March On Washington. Rustin took care of everything from the transportation, to making sure there were enough porta potties for the crowd, to insuring that no one brought weapons and the march stayed nonviolent, to convincing Dr. King that King’s speech should the be at the very end of the program. Rustin was convinced that the “I Have a Dream” message that King had been writing and rehearsing would work best as the dramatic crescendo at the end of the day, rather than as an opening whose sentiment might be overshadowed and diluted by other speakers and performances afterward.

And Bayard Rustin was gay. He was not closeted and secretly gay—Bayard Rustin was openly gay in an era far more homophobic than today. Despite having been arrested, beaten, and several times fired for being homosexual, Rustin remained open and candid about his sexuality. Throughout the years of their association, Dr. King was frequently urged (and begged and ordered) to push Rustin out of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, to distance himself from Rustin and denounce him as a “pervert” and “immoral influence.” Again and again, Dr. King refused to do that, and continued to rely on both Rustin’s organizational and debate skills.

Dr. King was assassinated before the Stonewall Riots, therefore before the modern gay rights movement began to be noticed by the press and the public at large. We don’t know what he might have said or done at that time. We do know that he fought as much against factionalism within his own movement as the enemies without, trying to keep everyone focused on the cause of racial equality and economic equality. As more than one historian or political scientists have pointed out, if he had been anti-gay, there would surely have been a sermon delivered on the topic, or some negative comments about Rustin or other homosexuals he met among the hours and hours of FBI wiretap tapes.

And there isn’t.

Nor is there any indication he ever asked Rustin to try to hide his sexuality.

Rustin had deep religious convictions about the importance of nonviolently fighting against racial and economic equality. While he was open about his sexuality, he didn’t start publicly fighting for gay rights until the 1970s, when he referred to the treatment of gays and lesbians as the new barometer for measuring social justice.

And he wasn’t the only one.

“If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, you do not have the same rights as other Americans, you cannot marry, …you still face discrimination in the workplace, and in our armed forces. For a nation that prides itself on liberty, justice and equality for all, this is totally unacceptable.” — Yolanda Denise King, Dr. King’s eldest daughter.

Today, several white leaders of anti-gay organizations have tried to wrap their hatred in King’s legacy. They do this by quoting King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, a rabid anti-abortion and anti-gay rights activist. I suppose it is petty of me to point out that the supposedly pro-traditional marriage, pro-life Alveda King has been divorced three times, had two abortions, and the only reason she didn’t have a third abortion is that she could not convince her father or grandfather to pay for it, and that she didn’t appear to become anti-abortion until she started being a paid speaker for various archconservative groups.

But I think Dr. King’s widow might have more accurate insight into Dr. King’s beliefs:

“I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people. … But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.” — Coretta Scott King, Dr. King’s widow.

Bayard Rustin and his long time partner, Walter Naegle.
Bayard Rustin and his long time partner, Walter Naegle.
To me, the real answer comes back to Bayard Rustin. Dr. King was pressured to distance himself from Rustin, to disavow him, to remove him from leadership positions within King’s organizations. When, before the March On Washington, a U.S. Senator read the full police report about Rustin’s arrest in 1953 into the Congressional Record, including Rustin’s guilty plea to the sodomy charge, along with statements from Rustin’s FBI file in admitting several times to being a homosexual, virtually no one would have faulted Dr. King if he had removed Rustin from his position. In fact, the then-president of the NAACP begged Dr. King to, at the very least, not publicly acknowledge Rustin’s role in organizing the march.

Dr. King did none of those things. When Life magazine interviewed King about the March, Dr. King credited Rustin and A. Philip Randolph as the organizers, which led to Ruston and Randolph appearing on the cover photograph of the magazine.

I could include many more quotes from members of Dr. King’s family and other leaders of the movement, but I think Dr. King’s actions toward Rustin tell the story.