Monday, June 29, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Damage report so far: one smashed shin (courtesy of a post in a campground on the Redwood Highway) and one squashed thumb (incurred next to the Umpqua River while splitting firewood off an old stump that retained much more spring than anticipated; still numb three days later).
About that Redwood Highway: damn. The Avenue of the Giants--actually an old stretch of 101 before it was realigned--is a 31-mile alternate route running along Highway 101 from Phillipsville to Pepperwood that cuts through virgin stands of Coast Redwoods. Ignore the clusters of kitsch that have sprung up in small communities around some of the groves (does anyone really need a ten-foot Bullwinkle chainsawed out of a giant tree trunk?) and spend an hour trundling along the road at the bases of the biggest trees on the planet. You've probably seen pictures of the big redwoods, but they cannot compare to seeing them with your own eyes, standing next to a trunk that's bigger than your kitchen. I felt like a hobbit. The deep, deep shade, the quiet, the realization that I did not know what the needles on the trees looked like because they were too far up for me to see them, and trying to comprehend the two thousand years of time some of them have spent slowly growing up, up, up into the sky while entire civilizations have risen and fallen and the trees haven't noticed at all... that's awe-inducing like little else.
Big tree. Small Boltgirl.
Driving through Oregon on I-5 is a lot like driving through parts of southern Illinois and Indiana, albeit with big hills on the horizon and a lot more conifers. Farms, barns, small towns with beat-up sloping curbs and grass growing out of the cracks and tractors holding up traffic. It is familiar and soothing. I wonder sometimes at my tendency to see new places through the lens of what I already know, evaluating them by their goodness-of-fit with the familiar. Wondering at the perpetual longing for home.
Portland itself is pretty okay. This is the city many people in Tucson point to as a model for what Tucson should strive to become, and really, who wouldn't want that kind of celebration of cultural diversity, historic preservation, green zones, a river walk, and arguably the best public transportation system in the country? I'm not sure how Tucson gets over the stumbling block of a river that doesn't actually have water in it, though, not counting summer monsoon runoff and effluent from the sewer plant. But! We are busily laying track for the new streetcar, which is modeled on Portland's but will unfortunately run on a limited and somewhat puzzling route (the hospital? really?). I hope our streetcar comes with cop car-style bumpers or, alternately, wonder how much it costs to fix streetcars that will inevitably be rear-ended, sideswiped, t-boned, or smashed from the front. They're going to be sharing the street with Tucson traffic, after all.
Today, the Confederations Cup final and Chinatown, possibly with a side trip to Powell's. And the blissful disconnection from the world will continue for another few days.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
We dutifully trekked up and down Lombard Street. I am fascinated by the rumble of the cables running underneath Hyde; the boy is intrigued by the number of very small dogs people walk up and down Van Ness. We both liked the sea lions at Fisherman's Wharf and wondered about a life spent flopping on a dock saying arf arf arf all day long. Maybe the occasional fish makes it worthwhile.
This afternoon it's back in the car and up the road to the Sonoma coast, and possibly very chilly, blustering camping on the beach. Could be invigorating, could suck. We'll see.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Sometimes it has a nasty way of backfiring, though, as our man Tevye learned in Fiddler on the Roof when his daughter, like, totally ran away from home with her boyfriend instead of entering the nice arranged matchmaker-matchmaker-make-me-a-match marriage her father had arranged with Lazar Wolf. Or, continuing the nuptial theme, tradition can be used as a cudgel by people who don't want, say, two people to enter into a marriage that doesn't look like their own--an argument used most prominently, recently, and distressingly, of course, by the DOJ in their DOMA brief for the administration.
Tradition, in short, is a lousy argument for refusing to change a system. And while it's a rationality-free fallback argument when used by anti-marriage-equality people, it's at least as predictable and understandable as irrational arguments can be. When it's the basis for a Supreme Court ruling against convicted people's rights to potentially exonerating DNA evidence, though, it's downright alarming. And that's the tack John Roberts took yesterday when he wrote a majority opinion that punts the question of whether convicts have the right to tests that might prove them innocent.
The "challenges DNA technology poses to our criminal justice systems and our traditional notions of finality" are better left to elected officials than federal judges, Roberts wrote for the majority in a 5 to 4 decision.
Traditional notions of finality. As in, for fuck's sake, back in the day we got a conviction and the bastard swung from a rope and that was that. And now, rather than having trained jurists address the question of whether all defendants convicted within the judicial system have the right to access evidence provided by new technology that did not exist at the time of their trial, Roberts says, it will be so much better to have popularly elected former car dealers and real estate brokers making that decision.
And if a defendant had the misfortune to be convicted in a, you know, traditionally bloodthirsty state like Texas, where any hint of
considering convicts' rights softness on crime means those popularly elected officials will be out of their cushy Capitol offices and back on the lots of Laredo? That's too damn bad. Because we have traditions in this country, dammit, and that's what matters.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
We all now know that President Obama this evening will give some federal agencies the right to give some federal employees some benefits at some time in the future. The problem, as one reader writes, is that federal agencies already have that right, and in fact, are already providing the benefits.
Yeah. That presidential memorandum that fiercely extends some (taxable as income) benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees, so bravely signed with such fanfare at 5:45 pm last night? It turns out we had those benefits already.
I would really like a good reason to not make this my fucking masthead. Next: Obama signs memorandum guaranteeing gays the right to breathe a heady nitrogen-oxygen mix. But only for the duration of his adminstration. Also, the right to celebrate Christmas or Chanukah and maybe Eid if we mind ourselves.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
"Our analysis has been that it will take an act of Congress for the full suite of benefits such as health benefits and retirement benefits to be provided for same-sex couples and families," said Leonard Hirsch, president of Federal Globe: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Employees of the Federal Government. Hirsch said the executive branch has the authority to extend certain other benefits through departments and agencies, such as providing relocation costs for partners of federal employees.
Hirsch welcomed the announcement and said his organization would gladly help with implementing the new policy. "We look forward to working closely with the administration to put this in place as quickly as possible," he said.
Well, get a good night's sleep, Leonard. Lord knows you have lots of boxes to pack there.
The only good part of this whole deal is watching Aravosis melt down ripping Obama after he spent the entire campaign ripping Hillary Clinton up, down, and sideways, and banning people from his blog who were overly critical of Obama.
So here's a quick Maddow on the DOMA brief:
I may need a mental health break from my mental health breaks at this rate. In other news, the Times noticed that the brief was full of asshattery as well, so it's not just me. Yes, I understand that the DOJ does this sort of thing as a matter of course, and that the brief goes through several markups before it's released and that the final version may or may not even vaguely resemble the first draft, but goddammit, religious righty talking points and code language really have no place here. And Obama's silence on it following his silence after each advance in the Northeast speaks volumes I really don't want to have to think about.
What we didn't have to see yesterday.
Unfortunately, we did have to see Tim Howard sprawling helplessly three times as an Italy shot found the back of the net, after a WPSesque red card to Ricardo Clark left the US a man down for the last 60 minutes. Perhaps Bradley should have gone to his bench earlier, say round about the 60th minute, to replace guys like Feilhaber who had been clearly suffering for a long time. I do not like Donovan very much, but props to him for probably the best conditioning on the US side and sending three beautiful balls to open teammates in front of the net who failed to put them away.
Brazil should be interesting, in a bloodbathian sort of way.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Today's topic is What the Fuck Is Going on with WPS Referees?
Maybe a better question is to ask what's going on with league directives to the referees, since recent weeks have made it look like the WPS is trying its hardest to emulate women's NCAA hockey without going the full route of explicitly saying no hitting! Someone might get hurt! You're females, for Chrissakes! This Sunday we watched the Breakers-Athletica game, and somewhere amidst Hope Solo sauntering a full three yards out of the box with the ball in her hands and the ten or twenty references to players who've been suspended, Boston's Jennie Nobis came in on a challenge for a ball in the air and sent the St. Louis defender sprawling. The foul was called, appropriately, but the yellow card was immediately pulled out, and we looked at each other and said, huh? There were no elbows involved. Nobis was tracking the ball all the way. She simply caught more of the defender than she should have. Definite foul, but a caution? Definitely not. We wait with bated breath to see how much of a suspension Nobis will draw from the punishment-happy commissioner.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Prediction: New Zealand will be slaughtered by Spain, quite possibly by five or more, and the peanut sauce will be the stuff of weeping angels and approving nods by Padma Lakshmi.
In other news, my lawyer friend marginally talked me down from my window ledge over the DOJ brief seeking to dismiss the California DOMA lawsuit for lack of standing, but just barely. Since I am not a lawyer, I get to say I still think the whole thing's extremely aggravating anyway.
Back to South Africa-Iraq, thanking the DVR gods for the ability to watch the match after breakfast rather than before. 0-0 and not real inspiring, and I still haven't decided who I want to win. Spain-New Zealand after that, and then the WPS match this afternoon.
Oh, and Archaic period culture history. Really.
Friday, June 12, 2009
I don't often link to Aravosis, but the man is a lawyer, and he parses the brief at length and better than I could. I will just add my two log-cabin-backed pennies to the discussion, regarding this:
Loving v. Virginia is not to the contrary. There the Supreme Court rejected a contention that the assertedly "equal application" of a statute prohibiting interracial marriage immunized the statute from strict scrutiny. 388 U.S. 1, 8, 87 S.Ct. 1817, 18 L.Ed.2d 1010 (1967). The Court had little difficulty concluding that the statute, which applied only to "interracial marriages involving white persons," was "designed to maintain White Supremacy" and therefore unconstitutional. Id. at 11. No comparable purpose is present here, however, for DOMA does not seek in any way to advance the "supremacy" of men over women, or of women over men. Thus DOMA cannot be "traced to a . . . purpose" to discriminate against either men or women.
Miss the point, much? No, the purpose of DOMA is clearly not to discriminate against either men or women. That's because the purpose of DOMA, and even more so the purpose of the defense offered by the administration, is to discriminate against both men and women who happen to be gay. And when Obama's lawyers start trotting out the legalese equivalent of "you have the same right as everyone else to marry someone of the opposite sex," well, I start putting my fist through the nearest wall.
Patience, my ass. Putting off action is one thing. Actively working against a cause you pledge your support to whilst campaigning for dollars and votes is entirely another.
Maybe one of my lawyer friends can talk me down. You guys enjoy a challenge, no?
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I think Tim Love, because he sounds nice and does a lot of charity work, and also has a classic burger joint. Also Elizabeth Falkner, because she's both out and a killer pastry chef who likes cupcakes (and she baked Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon's wedding cake!). Wylie Dufresne because he loves breakfast, and I spent the entire morning mournfully wishing for a plate of bacon and eggs. And he loved sweet Carla's green eggs and ham Quickfire dish during the last Top Chef.
Cooking shows involving challenges requiring the chefs to immediately spring into action, think on their feet, and still turn out creative, quality dishes are the best. Iron Chef America would be so much better if the chefs were actually blindsided by the secret ingredient rather than being given a list of possibilities ahead of time so they can prepare possible menus.
Potato chips, I must have potato chips when I watch Top Chef. A wretched habit I fell into during the last go-round, but so delicious. Yay!
Are the two shootings related? Probably not, beyond the creeping suspicion that extremists of more than one rightish stripe might be feeling more emboldened these days, as one white guy after another bravely stands up to call the president a monkey and a Muslim, and his first Supreme Court appointee a racist, after a campaign in which the white male candidate spat out his revulsion over abortion for the sake of the woman's "health" in bitter, angry scare quotes. And of course it doesn't do jack to explain the asshole who murdered the Army recruiter last week in the name of Islam. But that doesn't make our little teeny-tiny watered-down tastes of Baghdad in the past couple weeks any more palatable and less unsettling.
Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to call on Congress to enact legislation to reform the health-care system.
Grassley responded by texting, "Pres Obama you got nerve while u sightseeing in Paris to tell us 'time to deliver' on health care. We still on skedul/even workinWKEND."
A short time later, Grassley sent, "Pres Obama while u sightseeing in Paris u said 'time to delivr on healthcare' When you are a 'hammer' u think evrything is NAIL I'm no NAIL."
Mr. President, Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of the great state of Iowa, wishes to inform you of his displeasure at your directive that he speed up the legislative process whilst you look at the Louvre with your lovely wife and daughters, for this order is forcing him to desist from his own salubrious rest and refreshment, instead resulting in him workinWKEND, so WTF, bitchez?
In other news, Sen. Grassley's response to the pending Chrysler-Fiat merger was HELLA NOES, and he also notified Sen. Specter that he now PWNS ur ass and no UR MOMZ a NAIL LOLOLOLOLOL.
Not much later, as I walked down the breezeway at work, the sun was fully up and hitting my back, the brief respite of woodsy air chased by an early warmth promising an inevitable hot, sharply bright day.
And life in the desert goes on.
Monday, June 08, 2009
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
My WTF moment came this evening, which is Day Five of a fucking sinus infection that has completely put me on my ass, which came on the heels of a groin pull, which came on the heels of sore knees, if knees have heels, which came on the heels of a perpetually spasming deltoid and triceps, which came on the heels of an inflamed rotator cuff, which came on the heels of another goddamn migraine, and my stress levels are through the roof. It goes something like this: I officially lost twenty pounds, have been eating healthy home-cooked meals rather than going out, have been working out like a maniac, have largely eschewed alcohol other than the occasional glass or two of red wine, and have even been dutifully drinking more water, and after all that have officially felt like shit for about three months solid now. WTF?
I mean, seriously, WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK? The outcome was supposed to be the exact opposite of what it's turned out to be, and I'm pissed. Gimme a taco and a beer. All this health is fucking killing me.
Discovery #2: and also when said displacement renders typing skills to somewhere below the first-grade level. My backspace key may melt at this rate.
Discovery #3: to say nothing of what happens to basic cognitive functions. Should I have applauded Darth's marginal marriage statement yesterday? I have no idea. Since in the same speech he let on that maybe he'd been knowingly lying through his ventilator about a Saddam-9/11 link for eight years solid.
Anyway. I can't think and can barely type, so let's try embedding some videos. Do we go with poignant first, or coffee-spewing? I think coffee-spewing. Forthwith, in honor of New Hampshire giving it another go this morning, mawwiage (nicked from Joe.My.God.):
Next, in the more poignant category, is this one from the Media That Matters Film Festival, promoted over at the Blend:
As I commented there, I would have done this one slightly differently, with the young man being rejected half the time and totaling up the yes and no responses until he comes to the very last house in the country, taking a deep breath, ringing the doorbell, and asking his question... and then the screen fades to "How would you feel..." before we learn which way 50% +1 comes down in his case. Be that as it may, it was still a nicely done piece that will probably preach to no one outside the choir unless people post it in comment threads at redstate.
My head, my head.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Should we just adopt this as the new pride symbol? It has
enough radii for G and L and B and T and Q and I, after all.
Darth Cheney popped the mask off for a moment yesterday and said something that sounded almost human.
If you don't want to listen to the voice, which I fully understand, this is what he said:
""I think that freedom means freedom for everyone," Cheney replied. "As many of you know, one of my daughters is gay, and it is something we have lived with for a long time in our family.
"I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish -- any kind of arrangement they wish,'' Cheney said. "The question of whether or not there ought to be a federal statute to protect this, I don't support. I do believe that, historically, the way marriage has been regulated is at the state level. It has always been a state issue, and I think that is the way it ought to be handled, on a state-by-state basis...
"But I don't have any problem with that,'' he said of the same-sex marriages that most of the states in New England, Iowa and the District of Columbia have authorized. "People ought to get a shot at that."
Huh. I can't wait to hear
Jabba's Limbaugh's reaction. Will he dare try yanking Cheney back into line? As much as I loathe Dick Cheney, I tip my well-worn cap in his direction for being a father first when it comes to this issue, and am gratified for this very visible proof that knowing and loving a gay person goes a long way toward believing that we all might deserve equal rights.