Tag Archive | news

Friday Five (true believers edition)

This is former Marvel Comics editor Stan Lee addressing racism in a 1968 edition of Stan's Soapbox (a feature that was printed on the letters page of most of the Marvel comic books at the time) after the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is former Marvel Comics editor Stan Lee addressing racism in a 1968 edition of Stan’s Soapbox (a feature that was printed on the letters page of most of the Marvel comic books at the time) after the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s Friday! It is the third Friday in November–nearly Thanksgiving in the U.S.! It is also National Novel Writing Month, which means I’m not spending as much time blogging or reading the news during the week.

This week’s links a real mix for me. One of the people in the obituary section is a person I have considered a friend for about 26 years. Another wrote or oversaw the writing of an amazing amount of the stuff I read during my childhood and teen years.

Anyway, welcome to the Friday Five. This week I bring you: the top five (IMHO) stories of the week, five stories of the resistance, five stories of awful things, and five videos (plus my blog posts and notable obituaries).

Stories of the Week:

Former Cowboys Linebacker Jeff Rohrer Is to Marry Partner.

Superior Responsibility: Spider-Man & the Thread of Identity .

The New Yorker Cover Story: Barry Blitt’s “Welcome to Congress”.

I Before E Except After C.

The NRA denies the reality of gun violence. Doctors like me know it all too well. “those who have been in a trauma room, soaked to the skin in the blood of a child … watching his eyes dilate to black and knowing all is lost — well, we have received a clear, strong directive”

This Week in the Resistance:

Trump, stung by midterms and nervous about Mueller, retreats from traditional presidential duties.

Here are the three main factors that drove the Democrats’ blue wave.

CNN’s John King Breaks Down Democratic Gains in House Races: ‘This Is a Blue Wave’.

A week later it’s clear the midterms did produce a blue wave – here are the three main factors that drove the Democrats’ triumph.

On election night, all anyone saw was a ripple. But the blue wave came and the Republicans wiped out

Awful News:

The Acting Attorney General Helped an Alleged Scam Company Hawk Bizarre Products.

Bin Salman ‘tried to persuade Netanyahu to go to war in Gaza’ say sources .

Trump’s Tax Cut Was Supposed to Change Corporate Behavior. Here’s What Happened.. “Since the tax cuts were passed, the 1,000 largest public companies have actually reduced employment, on balance. They have announced the elimination of nearly 140,000 jobs — which is almost double the 73,000 jobs they say they have created in that time”

FBI Reports Largest Spike in Hate Crimes Since 9/11.

Number of hate crimes in Seattle double from year to year.

In Memoriam:


Fred Patten:1940-2018. Fred was a friend, a contributor to the zine I used to edit, and an editor who purchased at least on of my stories for one of his anthologies… he was also the person who probably single-handedly introduced anime to North Anerica, among many, many, many other accomplishments.

‘An Unshakable Humanism’ — Michael Chabon on Stan Lee.

So Long, True Believers: Stan Lee, 1922-2018.

Stan Lee: Marvel Comics Legend Was 95.


Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 11/11/2018: The count goes on.

100 years ago today, World War I, aka The War to End All Wars ended….

I told you the blue wave didn’t fizzle!

That voice whispering that no one wants to read your story? It lies….


Trump and His Fellow Grifters Lie About “Voter Fraud”: A Closer Look:

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Matt Bloyd and Colton Haynes – A Million Dreams:

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Calum Scott – No Matter What:

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New film ‘Boy Erased’ explores the ‘self-hatred’ dealt by gay conversion programs:

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The Winning Trick at the World Championships of Magic Might Fry Your Brain Like an Egg:

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I told you the blue wave didn’t fizzle!

We don't think of it this way, because we forget that state boundaries don't have an objective reality, but the Senate is one big gerrymander. State boundaries are imaginary lines on the map just like congressional districts are. The difference is history.

We don’t think of it this way, because we forget that state boundaries don’t have an objective reality. They are imaginary lines on the map just like congressional districts are.

I know it’s been a lot of politics lately, but since most of my writing time is going to NaNoWriMo, blog posts will be short. And the kind of blog post where I share a couple of links and make a shot commentary don’t take much time. So, here we go:

Despite all the things stacked against the blue wave (gerrymandered congressional districts, voter suppression efforts, the non-democratic/non-proportional nature of the Senate), the not-Nazi party has won a lot: Democrats had a good showing on Election Day. It’s been even better for them since. A lot of the races were too close to call on election night, but eager newspeople were more than willing to call them anyway. As more votes are counted, some of those calls are proving to be wrong. As just one example that this isn’t something that should surprise us: six years ago Jeff Flake was elected to represent Arizona in the Senate. On election night in 2012 he led his opponent by nearly 6%, so everyone called it. By the time all of the votes were counting, his lead had shrunk to a teensy bit more that 2%—he still won, but it was a lot closer than it had appeared on election night.

This year, that same Senate seat was up with no incumbent. On election night, the Republican candidate led the Democratic condidate by a woefully thin margin of one-half of a percentage point. As more ballots have been counted, the lead shrank, just like Flake’s did six years ago (because late-coming ballots often lean heavily one way or another; in Arizona’s case, late-arriving ballots tend to be more Democratic). So now the Democrat leads by a bit more than one percent. That’s a smaller shift than what happened six years ago, but well within what should have been expected: ELECTION DRAMA: Democrat Takes Tiny Lead in Arizona Senate Count; Florida Senate & Governor Prepare For Recount.

Will the lead widen? Will it narrow? Will it narrow enough to throw things into a recount? Will it flip? We don’t know for certain until all the ballots are counted. And that’s true of many races. We’re all so eager, as voters, to know the answer right away, forgetting that ballot counting takes time. The results reported on election night are always just a sample.

That’s why two races in Florida are still up in the air. Things were too close to call: Florida Begins Vote Recounts in Senate and Governor’s Races.

It isn’t just a matter of which ballots come in later (because of military ballots being shipped in from overseas, or absentee ballots mailed on the last day, or states like mine where all voting is by mail and we’re allowed to mail or drop off our ballots at the very last moment). Nor is it just because of issues like that story about one county I included a link to on Saturday where an overadundance of gross incompetence delayed the beginning of counting (among other things). In very high population centers, the sheer volume of the number of ballots means that only a tiny fraction are counted by the end of election night. Instead of hundreds or maybe thousands more to be counted in the following days, it’s hundreds of thousands. So we have low-populations counties like one in the Florida panhandle which had counted all but 26 ballots by the end of election night, and then a place like King County in Washington where there were over a quarter of a million (250,000) uncounted ballots in hand the day after election day—and because mail-in ballots were still in the postal system, thousands more on their way.

We don’t get answers fast. The fact that the margins change as more ballots are counted doesn’t mean something fishy is going on. The election ain’t over until every vote is counted.

100 years ago today, World War I, aka The War to End All Wars ended…

…and the President of the United States couldn’t be bothered to attend a ceremony at a cemetery full of American soldiers who died in that war because it was raining. The asshole flew all the way to Paris for the historic anniversary, but couldn’t leave his friggin’ room to go to a cemetery owned and maintained by the U.S. government where thousands of U.S. troops are burried!?! Trump Skips Visit To American Military Cemetery. And Justin Trudeau Shades Trump For Skipping WWI US Cemetary Visit Due To Rain

“It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary — and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow,”
—David Frum, former speechwriter to President George W. Bush

Ben Rhodes, who served as deputy national security adviser for strategic communications under President Barack Obama, said the excuse about the inclement weather did not stand up. “I helped plan all of President Obama’s trips for 8 years,” he wrote on Twitter. “There is always a rain option. Always.”

“As we sit here in the rain, thinking how uncomfortable we must be these minutes as our suits get wet and our hair gets wet and our shoes get wet, I think it’s all the more fitting that we remember on that day, in Dieppe, the rain wasn’t rain, it was bullets.”
—Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

“They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen #hesnotfittorepresenthisgreatcountry.”
—Nicholas Soames, a British member of parliament who is a grandson of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill

But enough of that. This beautiful story, written last Memorial Day, tells about that American war cemetery in France, along with the program that paid for mothers and widows of the slain to travel there to pay their last respects in the years following the war: In an American Cemetery in France: Thoughts on Memorial Day.

Weekend Update 11/11/2018: The count goes on

Join the Resistance!

Join the Resistance!

I have errands to run and then do some gaming with friends later, so not a lot of time for creating a post. But there were a few interesting things that I saw in the news yesterday that if I’d seen them earlier (or if they’d been published earlier) might have made it into the Friday Five.

First up, this started as a twitter thread people were sharing. One woman who shared the tale of the disasters she and her husband witnessed when they volunteers as poll workers: Porter County’s 2018 Election Fiasco. The county disbanded its election board this year and put everything in the hands of the County Clerk’s office… and obviously they were not prepared. The post I’ve linked has more details than the twitter thread, as she added stuff when she converted it. It’s really an interesting look into just what a clanky and disorganized mechanism our voting system (not just this one county by any means!) is.

Another clunky thing: while millionaires and richer make up approximately 10% of the population of the country, more than half of Congresspeople are millionaires. And while a congress person’s salary is decent, there are some problems when someone who makes only $29 thousand dollars a year gets elected to Congress (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez becomes youngest woman ever elected to Congress). She’s expected to head to Washington D.C. soon and start participating in orientation, hiring staff and such… but she doesn’t get her first pay check as a Congress person until February. And D.C. is famously very expensive to live in.Fox News Can’t Believe Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Won’t Sell Clothes She Doesn’t Own To Pay DC Rent. (The clothes thing is because Ocasio-Cortez did a little modeling a few years ago, and she wore some expensive clothes in a photo shoot. You know, clothes that were owned by the people paying for the advertising campaign the photos were for? Clothes the models wear long enough to be photographed in and are then taken back by the actual owners.

What pisses me off about this is the number of people who are Democrats and otherwise not clueless Fox News personalities who are also making fur of the fact that a woman who was working as a bartender in Brooklyn that the people of Brooklyn elected to represent them in Congress, isn’t secretly a millionaire or something. And people wonder why we keep winding up with slimy people as politicians…

And there are other weirdnesses. When, oh when will they start hiring actual designers to work on things like, say, ballots? Something Looks Weird In Broward County. Here’s What We Know About A Possible Florida Recount. As someone who has professionally designed user interfaces and documentation, as soon as I saw the picture of the ballot I realized immediately why 26,000 voters in one county skipped a race entirely: it looks like it is an example, and not an actual office to be filled in.

Finally, some good news for the future. I’m tempted to re-title this next story “Millenials Kill the Republican Party” but I realize that’s a bit of a stale joke, so I’ll still with their title< Trump celebrated the midterm results, but without millennials and women he could be headed for disaster in 2020. Despite all the gloom and doom predictions and the huge number of stories I saw over the last two years claiming that the polls can’t be believed because young voters respond to polls but then they don’t show up, or how Democrats were driving young voters away for reasons, young voters turned out in record numbers, and overwhelmingly they are rejecting what the Republicans in general and Trump in particular are selling.

There is a lot more fight ahead. One election swinging to just half of one branch of government isn’t going to solve anything. And if we don’t remain engaged and call our representatives and urge them not to vote for somethings, things will get much much worse. But there is hope!

Friday Five (rockin’ the vote edition)

© 2018 Bill Bramhall/New York Daily News

It’s Friday! It is the second Friday in November, which means that it is National Novel Writing Month? I am spending as much of my free time as possible writing, trying to finish one of my novels. I did not get as much writing done this week, not least because I couldn’t stop checking the news Tuesday night until I was satisfied that the not-Nazi party had taken back the House of Representatives, and how a couple of our local votes went before I could stop obsessively checking the news Tuesday night.

I keep reminding myself that I spent most of my life assuming that never, in my lifetime, would queers have true equal rights, including the right to marry. The fact that with the pro-Nazi party is appointing so many federal judges the last two years and the next makes it very likely that what rights I currently have will be taken away. So I had planned to fight the rest of my life, anyway; on one level not much has changed. But if you are a person reading this who thinks I should lighten up on the politics, clearly YOUR rights aren’t under threat, so either educate yourself and join the resistance, or go away. I don’t want you reading my stuff if you aren’t will to help me fight for equal rights. That doesn’t make me the bad guy.

Anyway, enough about that. We scored a bunch of victories this week. So, welcome to the Friday Five: the top five (IMHO) good news stories of the week, five stories of the resistance, and five videos (plus my blog post and notable obituaries).

Good News:

LGBTQ Candidates Record Historic Midterm Wins In Rainbow Wave.

How Did Immigrants and Immigration Fare in the 2018 Elections?

Unresolved high-profile U.S. elections could be headed to recounts.

Putting the GOP’s House losses in context does Trump no favors.

Three red states vote to expand Medicaid during an election where health care was the top issue.

This Week in the Resistance:

Voter ‘Fraud’ and Trump Pal Kris Kobach Goes Down.

Voting machine shortage contributed to lines in Georgia election.

Democrats Have a Long Way to Go to Defeat Trump .

2018 election results: how voter suppression played a role.

Big Money, Quiet Power: A Look at the National Christian Foundation and How They Fund Hate.

In Memoriam:

Thousand Oaks shooting: These are the victims.

Thousand Oaks shooting: What we know about the victims.

Kitty O’Neil: Wonder Woman stuntwoman dies at 72.

Thiel: A hard man, Jack Patera, original Seahawks coach, led the good times.

Things I wrote:

Some things to remember.

You know what to do!

No, the blue wave did not fizzle, we knew the deck was stacked against us.

Just because I need to know that, doesn’t mean the reader does — or, adventures in back stories.


Troye Sivan – Somebody To Love:

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KJ Apa Gets a Passionate Kiss from Rob Raco in the New ‘Riverdale’ Preview (blink and you miss it, but…):

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Troye Sivan Releases Lyric Video for Haunting ‘Boy Erased’ Track ‘Revelation’:

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Trump Mocks GOP Candidates Who Didn’t Embrace Him:

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Democrats Take Back the House, Trump Fires Jeff Sessions – Monologue:

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Friday Five (you have to vote edition)

(Click to embiggen)

It’s Friday! It is the first Friday in November, which means that it is National Novel Writing Month? I am spending as much of my free time as possible writing, trying to finish one of my novels.

Last weekend I posted about the mad bomber than ran off to Geek Girl Con and only learned about the mass shooting at a synagoge when I checked news later on my phone. I… I am still so angry about that. I’m not Jewish, okay, but dang it, I’m a human being and you shouldn’t have to be a member of a community to be infuriated when people murder members of that community while literally shouting things that the alleged president of the United States has said. Please scroll down and read about the eleven people who were murdered last weekend in my In Memoriam section. And please, if you can, donate to a cause that fights hatred. Even more, if you haven’t already voted, please, please, please vote. Vote for candidates who will crack down on hate crimes. Vote to take our country back from the Nazis and white supremacists who currently control the White House and both houses of Congress. This isn’t the last chance to stop the evil, this is rather the first chance to fight back at the ballot box against the evil that already controls the nation. Vote!

Welcome to the Friday Five: the top five (IMHO) stories of the week and five videos (plus my blog post and notable obituaries).

Stories of the Week:

A World Leader Forcefully Condemned Anti-Semitism and Neo-Nazism Yesterday. It Wasn’t Trump.

The Ingenuity and Beauty of Creative Parchment Repair in Medieval Books.

We Did the Math Wrong: That’s why on High Holidays services there are armed guards pacing back and forth in front of every temple I’ve ever gone to.

London Library today unveils 26 books that are almost certainly the original copies that Bram Stoker used to help research his enduring classic. Not copies: the actual physical books of which he scribbled notes in the margins.

The US has an HIV epidemic – and its victims are gay black men.

In Memoriam:

Pittsburgh synagogue shooting: Portraits of the 11 victims.

Who Is Danye Jones? Ferguson Activist Says Her Son Was Lynched To Death.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 10/27/2018: No one should be surprised….

Once again, time to start your word processing engines!

Looking forward to/hoping for some trick or treaters….

You should be writing — whether you join us in NaNoWriMo or not!


CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? | Official Trailer [HD] :

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François Sagat / Igor Dewe – Trust Me (contains NSFW language):

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Carly Rae Jepsen – Party For One:

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Jake Shears Has Slept With a Lot of People:

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Rufus Wainwright – Sword of Damocles (Official Music Video):

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Weekend Update 10/27/2018: No one should be surprised…

One of many photos of the van owned by the bombing suspect. It is covered in racist, misogynist, pro-Trump stickers, including my images of prominent Democrats with gun sight crosshairs superimposed.

One of many photos of the van owned by the bombing suspect. It is covered in racist, misogynist, pro-Trump stickers, including my images of prominent Democrats with gun sight crosshairs superimposed.

I’m late getting out the door to Geek Girl Con, and if I had been more organized last night, I would have written this then and queued it for today. So this follow-up to some of the links in yesterday’a Friday Five will be brief. Yesterday, the U.S. Justice Department announced that they had arrested a man who they believe mailed all those pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and other critics of the alleged president of the U.S.: Cesar Sayoc Jr., Florida man, arrested in pipe bomb case; van with ‘right wing paraphernalia’ seized.

Every news site on the web was able to obtain pictures of the suspect’s van because it has been notorious since 2016 in that region. People have been taking pictures of all the hateful stickers plastered on the van and sharing the pics on social media for a couple of years. He is extremely pro-Trump and extremely anti-Obama, anti-immigrant, anti-women’s rights, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Which is exactly what anyone with any sense at all had been saying. Even at least one pundit who usually is virulently pro-Trump that I quoted yesterday: “If your first reaction to some evil person sending bombs to a variety of politicians on one side of the aisle is ‘FALSE FLAG,’ you are officially deranged.”

Voter registration in Florida is a matter of public record, and look which party the mad bomber belongs to...

Voter registration in Florida is a matter of public record, and look which party the mad bomber belongs to…

So, yes, the mad bomber is clearly someone who has been taking the many times that Trump has referred to locking up his opponents, encouraged is supporters to assault, suggested that someone should shoot, and so forth and finally tried to act on it. A quick search of images in any search engine using the suspects name will turn up pictures of him at Trump rallies, holding up pro-Trump signs, wearing one of those damn MAGA hats and so forth. I’m not linking or posting to any of those because, frankly, I think people who commit these kinds of crimes also get off on the attention afterward. But there are things to know about him: Suspected Mad Bomber Cesar Sayoc likes Trump, bodybuilding, scantily clad women; hates Democrats, Clintons, Obamas, immigrants. Scroll to the end of that article for a list of the many times that the suspect has been arrested in the past, always getting fines and probation, even when he threatened to blow up the local utility and kill thousands of people the second time! So, I’m not surprised that this evil man was on some watch lists. And based on how incoherent and badly spelled his many anti-immigrant and anti-progressive rants on line are, I’m not surprised that he left enough evidence on those packages for officials to trace back to him.

But don’t let any one paint him as an anomaly or a nut job. Remind people of the facts: Study shows two-thirds of U.S. terrorism tied to right-wing extremists. Two-thirds of the terrorist acts that happen in the U.S. are by republican supporters who aren’t immigrants and aren’t muslim.

  • The suspect is a native born U.S. citizen.
  • The suspect is registered Republican.
  • The suspect has proudly declared himself not just a Veteran for Trump, but a supporter of many of the most extreme Republican policies.
  • The suspect has been publicly calling for and echoing Trump’s calls for violence against liberals, immigrants, and so forth.

Make America hate again: When political rhetoric turns violent . And the blame needs to be laid at the feed of Trump and all the Republican politicians and rightwing pundits who have been fanning the flames of hate for years and years.

And in case you have forgotten how many times that Trump has fanned those flames this year: This montage of Trump calling for violence shows him as a stupid thug rather than the president .

Friday Five (five by five edition)

It’s Friday! The fourth (and final) Friday in October! Are you ready to get your spooky on? And by this time next week, will you be joining me in National Novel Writing Month?

Tomorrow will mark the one year anniversary of the first edition of Friday Five, which replaced my previous Friday Links. I have not, over the course of this last year, stuck strictly to my original redefinition of the post: only the five top stories of the week, plus notable obituaries, links to my own posts, and five videos. Some weeks I have two or three categories of links each of which contains five stories. But my goal of limiting how much time I was spending assembling a post which fewer people have been reading since the inauguration of that which has put many of us into compassion fatigue and so forth, has been obtained. So, since I find it impossible not to read the news and bookmark stories I find interesting, this is going to continue!

Which brings us to the Friday Five: the top five (IMHO) stories of the week featuring good news, top five stories, top five stories of interest to queers and our allies, top five sci fi stories, the bottom five awful news stories, and five videos (plus my blog post and notable obituaries).

Good News:

Free rent in Seattle, no catch: Landlords’ faith inspired a gift for tenants.

What Would Jesus Pod? Episode 20: Politicon and Christians Against Trump.

Judge rejects conservative Christian group’s request to halt Drag Queen Story Hour.

This one needs explaining: usually Shapiro is the one making deranged attacks on queer people, women, racial minorities, and the left in general. So I have to acknowledge when he says something good: Shapiro criticizes conspiracy theories about bomb threats to Dems.

Wild bear trapped in a Chinese hydropower station is saved after a dramatic 14-hour operation.

Stories of the Week:

Did the Maya create the first ‘comics’?

Op-Ed: Cis People’s Feelings Must Not Take Precedence Over Trans Rights.

I Know the Salaries of Thousands of Tech Employees – Pay equity requires transparency, so I’m revealing what I know.

How I Accidentally Wound Up Running a Outlaw Biker Gang. Undercover ATF agent tells all.

New York City Cops Arrest Three More Proud Boys.

Queer stories of the Week:

Can Trump Actually Erase Transgender Rights? Two Legal Experts Weigh In.

Human Rights Won’t Be Erased, We Support You. We Fight With You.

Democrats double down on Equality Act ahead of midterm elections – The bill would use federal civil rights law to ban LGBTQ discrimination, but backers say it will also block the Trump administration’s leaked transgender proposal.

Apple CEO Tim Cook Calls Being Gay a Gift From God.

LGBTQ characters on television reach record high.

Science Fiction and Fantasy:


My Genre Makes a Monster of Me.

Guest Post: Invisible Ink.

Can Science Fiction Save the World?

Aliette De Bodard: Cannibalizing A Draft (Or: The Art Of Rewriting).

Awful News:

Conspiracy theories about Soros aren’t just false. They’re anti-Semitic.

Older People Are Worse Than Young People at Telling Fact from Opinion .

Saudis admit killing of journalist was premeditated.

Suspicious packages: Who were the targets, when were they discovered, who intercepted them?

Trump’s anti-trans memo joins a long list of attacks against transgender people.

In Memoriam:

The Funeral Crashers of Seattle – A pair of uninvited party guests used to show up at Seattle events back in the day, steal slices of cake, and get into fights with each other. This story is weird and cool and have a very bizarre surprise midway through!

Dorcas Reilly, inventor of the green bean casserole, a Thanksgiving favorite, has died at 92.

A moment of silence, please, for the mother of green bean holiday goodness.

Gay Games co-founder Paul Mart dies.

Joachim Ronneberg: WWII hero who thwarted Nazi nuclear plant dies at 99. They parachuted into the mountains, skied to the base, blew it up, then eluded 3000 Nazi soldiers to escape to Sweden. In later years, Ronneberg liked to describe his team’s harrowing escape as “a good skiing weekend.”

Joachim Ronneberg: Norwegian who thwarted Nazi nuclear plan dies.

Things I wrote:

Transforming Otters and Traveling Trees.

Pure unbounded love thou art, or an ex-evangelical looks at trans hate in the church.

What’s spooky for me may not be spooky for you.


Courthouse security footage shows Lewis County Judge R.W. Buzzard chase after two inmates who attempted to escape his courtroom in Chehalis, Wash., on Oct. 16, 2018:


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Man sets fire to parents’ home while trying to kill spider with a blowtorch:


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Ghostly Grimpoteuthis Octopus Glides By ROV Hercules:

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Panic! At The Disco: It’s Almost Halloween:

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Ty Herndon: “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” Official Music Video:

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Pure unbounded love thou art, or an ex-evangelical looks at trans hate in the church

Church sign reads: “God's love is unconditional as long as you are obeying Christ.”

Someone needs to look up ‘unconditional’ in a dictionary…

I was the kind of kid who asked my Sunday School teachers, ministers, and anyone else set as an authority in church questions that drove them crazy. I wasn’t doing it to be difficult—I never asked if god could create a rock so heavy he couldn’t lift it—but I often found myself on the receiving end of a scolding rather than an answer. I know part of that is just being a kid. Children, their minds not quite as burdened by assumptions, expectations, and conventional thoughts, often ask difficult questions. The rest of the problem was that I was smarter than average, had an early affinity for logic, a really good memory, and I was being raised in a denomination (the Southern Baptist Convention) that didn’t have a history of rigorous academia.

Before I get further, let me get a couple of disclaimers out of the way: I have considered myself an ex-Baptist and an ex-Christian for a long time, so some people will want to dismiss anything I say on these topics out of hand. On the other hand, I learned my deep sense of social justice from that church and more specifically their holy book. I was the kind of nerd who read the Bible, on my own, cover-to-cover more than once (and had rather large swaths of it memorized). I have often said I didn’t leave the church, the church drove me (a gay man) away.

One of the big problems I had, again and again, was the many times that teachers and leaders in the church would insist that god’s love and mercy were unconditional—and then they would lay out a whole bunch of conditions that one must meet to earn that love. At first they said you had to believe in him order to get his love and mercy. And don’t forget obey him, or you won’t receive his love. And obey him in the right way, not the way other churches say to do it, or you won’t receive his love. And ignore these parts of the holy book, but these other parts you must interpret exactly as we say, or you won’t receive his love.

That’s an awful lot of conditions one must meet to qualify for supposedly unconditional divine love.

It’s not just unconditional divine love that the fundamentalist evangelicals don’t understand. They have a similar misapprehension of civil rights. Tony Perkins heads to Fox News to defend Trump administration’s latest attack on trans rights. This takes a little bit to unpack. If you missed the news this weekend, the New York Times got hold of a memo from the department of Health and Human Services that outlines how the government could erase all trans rights: ‘Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration. More details became available quickly thereafter: The Trump Administration Wants to Define Gender as Biological Sex at Birth.

An important clue in this memo is the assertion that previous definitions of sex “allowed the Obama administration to wrongfully extend civil rights protections to people who should not have them.”

Tony Perkins mention above is the leader of the Family Research Council, an evangelical fundamentalist hate group that spends all its time an energy not on helping families, but rather on attacking gay rights and transgender rights and so forth. And he has made a very similar argument for years: gay, lesbian, and trans people don’t deserve civil rights protections.

Which means he doesn’t understand what a civil right is: rights aren’t deserved. You have them because you exist, period. They aren’t privileges. The Declaration of Independence referred to rights as “inalienable”—they can’t be transferred or removed. We can argue about what is or isn’t a right, but not who has them. Everyone has them. The moment you argue that some categories of people shouldn’t have their rights protected, well, that’s taking you a very long way down the fascist road.

And it isn’t something that Christians should be fighting for. They are commanded to love everyone, including their enemies. And as the Sermon on the Mount makes clear, love isn’t just about warm fuzzy feelings, it’s action. Love means lifting people up. Love means standing up for people. Love means doing good for people who disagree with you. Love means not just taking care of your own, but taking care of everyone who needs help.

Perkins and his ilk justify their opposition to the rights of transgender people by frequently making the claim that the Bible clear says that there are only two genders. It is true that the Bible frequently refers to two genders, but none of those references say that those two are the only possibilities, nor does it give a definition of those genders. While some portions make a big deal about what sorts of behaviors are appropriate for one gender or the other, other passages contradict those notions. And there there are a few places where the text asserts very insistently that gender is unimportant. Such as:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”
—Galatians 3:28, Holy Bible, King James Version

Which seems to back the notion that god’s love really is unconditional, so maybe his so-called followers should stop trying to enforce divisions.

Note: The title comes from the hymn “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” by Charles Wesley, #2 in the 1956 Baptist Hymnal

Friday Five (recovery edition)

(click to embiggen)

It’s Friday! The third Friday in October. Halloween is coming fast, and I’m still nowhere near ready.

My immune system seems to have finally kicked the upper respiratory infection just in time that I didn’t have to skip another unrelated medical test that I have to undergo every few years. That was Thursday morning. Now that I’m on insulin, they insist that this procedure can’t be done in the afternoon (I have do it before taking any insulin that day), which meant that my husband and I were taking an Uber to the clinic at 6:00am (my husband doesn’t drive, and because general anesthesia is involved, I couldn’t drive for 12 hours after) and our friend Jeri Lynn picked us up when I was done. So Thursday started earlier and then I spent the majority of the day sleeping off the meds. Which all makes my usual work-from-home Friday quite convenient.

Which brings us to the Friday Five: the top five (IMHO) stories of the week and five videos (plus my blog post).

Stories of the Week:

12 Authors Write About the Libraries They Love.

This gay couple got the perfect wedding picture & there’s an incredible story behind it.

Why ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ Remains A Queer Cinematic Milestone.

A $21,634 bill? How a homeless woman fought her way out of tow-company hell.

The New “Halloween” Pays Homage To History By Erasing It.

Things I wrote:

Getting ready for the coming spooks and books amid the rising dark.


Saudi Arabia: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Freddie Atlas – Something About You (cw: self-loathing and gay bashing):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Under Pressure Shawn Mendes feat. Teddy Geiger (Cover):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Donald Trump Owes Elizabeth Warren A Million Bucks:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Panic! At The Disco – Bohemian Rhapsody (Live from Sydney for the American Music Awards):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

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