Friday, January 29, 2010

This Is Not Helping

Oh, for fuck's sake.
A study to be released next month is offering a rare glimpse inside gay relationships and reveals that monogamy is not a central feature for many. Some gay men and lesbians argue that, as a result, they have stronger, longer-lasting and more honest relationships. And while that may sound counterintuitive, some experts say boundary-challenging gay relationships represent an evolution in marriage — one that might point the way for the survival of the institution.

New research at San Francisco State University reveals just how common open relationships are among gay men and lesbians in the Bay Area. The Gay Couples Study has followed 556 male couples for three years — about 50 percent of those surveyed have sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners.

Some key words/phrases here may be "male" and "Bay Area." But hey, NYT, don't let the fact that the dataset was drawn from male couples keep you from glossing the sample as "gay men and lesbians," and really, don't let "Bay Area" keep you from leading with the straight-from-Focus-on-the-Family-playbook assertion that monogamy just isn't in the cards for many gay couples across the board. And please don't go in depth about the percentage of hetero marriages that feature cheating by one spouse or the other, but do showcase one straight open-married couple as an illustration of how gay marriage may serve to spearhead a total revamping of all marriage with the innovation of everyone fucking other people--within the rules, of course.

“The combination of freedom and mutual understanding can foster a unique level of trust,” Mr. Quirk, of Oakland, said.

“The traditional American marriage is in crisis, and we need insight,” he said, citing the fresh perspective gay couples bring to matrimony. “If innovation in marriage is going to occur, it will be spearheaded by homosexual marriages.”

Open relationships are not exclusively a gay domain, of course. Deb and Marius are heterosexual, live in the East Bay and have an open marriage. She belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and maintained her virginity until her wedding day at 34. But a few years later, when the relationship sputtered, both she and her husband, who does not belong to the church, began liaisons with others.

Fuck. Seriously? This is yet another example of why science--even lowly social science--shouldn't be reported by newspapers. Because Prop 8 types will blow right through the details of the study sample and the inclusion of anecdotes from a completely different population than that dealt with in the study and say see, just like we always told you: homos can't keep it in their pants, lesbians either probably, not that we're keeping score, and they're going to change marriage to mean we all have to let our wives fuck somebody else. Phenomenal stuff, that, with impeccable timing as Perry v. Schwarzenegger heads into closing arguments.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Not a Good Sign for Women's Pro Soccer

Last year's WPS regular-season champion LA Sol went tits-up 45 minutes ago, after last-gasp attempts to secure an investor fizzled. The 19 players on the roster will be up for grabs in a special draft for the remaining eight teams in the league a week from today, making it the first time in the history of forever that the planet's Player of the Year for four consecutive years (!) in any sport will be shunted into an expansion draft mere months after collecting her most recent trophy.

The Marta Fire Sale may be complicated somewhat by league rules limiting the number of international players on each roster; under current rules only St. Louis, Boston, and Washington have spots available, and of these three, Boston is up first in the first round, with Washington next. Which means Washington snap up Johanna Frisk and then take their pick of the non-Marta Boston roster. You heard it here first. I'll wait for Jordy to weigh in on who she wouldn't mind seeing head south if it means watching Marta team up with Kelly Smith on a week-to-week basis.

In other women's soccer news, I am watching the semifinals of the CONCACAF U-20 women's tournament and thinking nobody on these nations' senior national teams need to be watching their backs anytime soon. US-Costa Rica in particular has been bad touch-bad touch-foul for the entire first half.

And I do hope the remaining teams have their shit more in order than LA did.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Super Bowl Fun!

Tim Tebow is going to be on TV on Super Bowl Sunday, which will likely be his last Super Bowl-related appearance unless he does something about the lisp and lands in a TV booth someday. No, he's not playing on the field--the draft isn't until April--but he'll be playing the missionary role that's become such a big part of the mythos that has been built up around the kid by people who are into that convert-the-natives sort of thing. Tebow will be appearing, with his mother, in an anti-choice advertisement produced by Focus on the Family.
... he's an unabashed pro-life supporter; his mother, Pam, was advised by her doctor late in Tebow's pregnancy to abort the baby because it was a dangerous pregnancy. Her refusal led to Tebow's compelling life -- and also to a 30-second Super Bowl commercial by Tebow and Pam (sponsored by Focus on the Family) that will add to Tebow-mania.

In the interest of fairness, I won't put words in the boy's mouth. This is what he said about why he's doing the commercial:

Pro-life is very important to me. My mother listened to God late in her pregnancy, and if she had listened to others and terminated me, obviously I wouldn't be here. If others don't have the same belief, it's OK. I understand. But I hope they respect that at least I have the courage to stand up for what I believe in.

Okay. Timmy, maybe you understand--and possibly even respect--that other people have sincerely held opinions on this that differ from your own. But if you're really approaching this with the live-and-let-live attitude your quote appears to be trying to portray--and if you are as cognizant of the "choice" element in "choose life" as you should be, given the personal history you're flogging here--you should know better than to do your witnessing for full-term pregnancy under the banner of James Dobson, who most assuredly doesn't think "it's OK" that other people don't have the same belief. Because, if you hadn't noticed, Focus on the Family spends an inordinate amount of time and money working to make sure that no American woman has a choice to exercise about pregnancy ever again. Otherwise, you're pulling a Palin and repeatedly referencing a choice that was made by a woman to insist that women should not be allowed to make choices. Encourage women to make the same choice your mom did? Mmm, considering she went against medical advice and endangered her own life and the well-being of the four kids she already had, I'm not sure that's the best thing to be encouraging, but hey, I'm all about free choice under informed consent, so go for it. Lend your face and boner-prompting among the evangelical set to an organization that will use your image to further their attempt to eliminate reproductive freedom? Shove that shizz up your ass, sideways.

Related issues include CBS' decision to approve airtime for this, when they've refused politically/cultural war-ly charged ads in the past (notably, the 2004 UCC spots supporting marriage equality), as well as the just plain tackiness of letting politics/culture wars intrude on what is supposed to be the one national holiday we can all agree on, goddammit.

By the by, Tebow is fond of referencing Bible verses on his eyeblack. I'm sure the fact that he's never put MATT 6:5-6 under his eyes is just an oversight.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Winter Weather Wonderland

I have no photos, but I wish I had thought to get a screengrab of the Weather Channel last night, which showed southern Arizona experiencing a (1) high wind warning, (2) severe thunderstorm warning, (3) winter storm warning, (4) BLIZZARD warning, for fuck's sake, and (5) tornado watch. All at the same time. The warnings crawled in red across the bottom of the screen to alarm beep triplets, the wind outside howled and thrashed the trees. This morning it's still raining here in the valley and the mountains appear to be getting thrashed by some kind of large, snowy weather. When I got to work the doves were perched in a ruffled line along the fence, beaks tucked under wings, and a coyote alternately admired himself in a puddle and pointed his nose up to yip into the damp, cold air. It's a day for boots and sweaters and hot soup in the desert.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Well Well Well.

Considering the amount of crap that has been spewed by Arizona's various representative delegations in the past week, this came as a pleasant surprise.

This undated image provided by Adam Bouska/NOH8 Campaign shows Cindy McCain, the wife of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., posing for the NOH8 campaign. NOH8 is a gay rights group challenging Proposition 8 passed by California voters in 2008 banning same sex marriage. (AP Photo/Adam Bouska/NOH8 Campaign) NO SALES
Cindy McCain, the wife of 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, and their daughter Meghan have posed for photos endorsing pro-gay marriage forces in California.

Mrs. McCain appears with silver duct tape across her mouth and "NOH8" written on one cheek in a photo posted Wednesday to the Web site of NOH8, a gay rights group opposed to Proposition 8. The ballot measure passed by California voters in 2008 bans same-sex marriage.

Cindy McCain contacted NOH8 and offered to pose for the photo endorsement, the Web site said.

That must have made for some fascinating dinnertime conversation in Chez McCain. I wonder if any of their china is left intact. It's almost enough to make me give Cindy a pass for her "the only way to get around Arizona is by small private plane" comment during the campaign. In fact, yes. We have no roads in Arizona. Pass granted!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

See, This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

"The people of Massachusetts have spoken. We welcome Scott Brown to the Senate and will move to seat him as soon as the proper paperwork has been received," said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

And with that final formality performed in fine lapdog fashion, the 60-seat supermajority evaporated and the progressive express train was derailed and... well, and Senate Democrats breathed a deep sigh of relief at not having to deal with this unfamiliar and uncomfortable thing called "power" any more, not that they ever really had much to begin with, considering the Blue Dogs' first inclination after the 2008 election was to see which one could out-Republican the others and Blanche Lincoln and Olympia Dukakis inexplicably became the most important people in the biggest Democratic-majority Senate the country had seen since before "Democrat" took on its modern connotations of social justice, civil rights, and lip service to the same before promptly rolling over to the whims of a minority party that wisely decided to stop acting like it ever lost power in the first place.

And a former nekkid centerfold with a pickup truck and a taste for tax cuts but not so much for the unprivileged classes slid into Ted Kennedy's seat nuts-first and the Dems wonder how this ever could have happened and we can kiss what was left of healthcare reform goodbye.

Never mind that healthcare "reform" in its current state probably isn't worth passing anyway. The teabaggers will crow that this special election in Massachusetts is a bellwether, the first tolling of the death knell for the administration's agenda. Never mind that said agenda barely rises above the status of business as usual; the important thing is that said business as usual was dressed up in a progressive Obama t-shirt trimmed with hopey lace and topped with change sauce, and that image is what took a resounding smack to the gob yesterday. And just like Jesus said, Harry Reid brushed himself off and smiled and politely held the door open for the guy.

Good job, Martha Coakley! Excellent work, DSCC! On the upside, now that everyone and their dog says this means Obama's a one-termer, does this mean he'll get busy on some of those campaign promises that were just too toxic to touch before being re-elected?

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Year in Review

New Year's Day: very nice.

First full week of January: wretched tooth pain.

Second week of January: offending tooth drilled into oblivion; temporary crown installed; excruciating tooth and jaw pain.

Third week of January: emergency root canal; total bill for dental adventures $2100.

Rest of 2010, never mind rest of January: you are on fucking notice.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Frank Antenori Rides Again.

Commenter Melissa asked for my opinion on Arizona House Bill 2148, a proposed revision of the state's adoption regulations from this:
Any adult resident of this state, whether married, unmarried or legally separated, is eligible to qualify to adopt children. A husband and wife may jointly adopt children.

to this:

A. Any adult resident of this state, whether married, unmarried or legally separated, is eligible to qualify to adopt children. A husband and wife may jointly adopt children.

B. Pursuant to rules adopted by the division, the division or an agency shall place a child who is in the custody of the state and who has a case plan goal of adoption with any person who is certified by the court as acceptable to adopt children. The division or agency must give primary consideration to placement with a married couple and may consider placement with a single person only if a qualified married couple is not available, unless any of the following applies:
1. The single person is a legal relative of the child.
2. The alternative for the child is extended foster care.
3. A meaningful and healthy relationship between the single person and the child has already been established.
4. The child's best interests require the adoption by the single person.
5. The adoption is the result of a direct placement adoption.

Among the sponsors are our old friend Frank Antenori (R-Not Tucson), who favors protecting women's delicate constitutions from difficult things like decision-making and thinking and stuff, and yesterday's rockstar of the day, Judy Burges (R-an intersection west of Prescott), who thinks Obama is a secret muslin foreigner. I have not been able to locate any comments by these two or any of the several other all-Republican sponsors, and I am very interested in what they will have to say.

Exceptions 2 and 4 listed above (alternative is extended foster care/adoption by the single person is in the best interest of the child) would seem to leave a sufficient amount of leeway for single people or unmarried couples (read: gay) to argue that they shouldn't be sent to the back of the line for a specific child, although if that's the case I wonder why Antenori and company inserted them in the first place. Well, unless the main point of this exercise is to jab a pointy stick in teh gays' eyes just because they can, and I suppose that should never be ruled out where the Arizona statehouse is concerned.

However, if you're an unmarried single or partnered person who knows you want to adopt, but aren't personally acquainted with a child who needs adopting and who you can leverage the exceptions for, it sounds like you're screwed until all the prospective straight married people who suddenly line-jumped you have been eliminated for one reason or another. In that case, your best bet appears to be requesting a special-needs child, since this will bump you up to official second-class status from what will be bottom-of-the-barrel status.

B. The division is not required to accept every application for certification. In determining which applications to accept the division may give priority to applications filed jointly by a husband and wife who are adult residents of this state and who wish to adopt a child who has any special needs as defined in section 8-141 and secondary priority to single adult residents of this state who wish to adopt a child who has any special needs as defined in section 8‑141.

The evaluation process remains unchanged from its current structure, which oddly--to me, anyway--specifically spells out that the moral and religious characters of the prospective parents are to be evaluated by the state before stamping an application as a go or a no go. More on how this plays out when once it starts playing.

Another Very Good Option

Doctors Without Borders got their asses kicked by the earthquake too; if you're in a donating mood, shoot them ten bucks or fifty.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


The right way to respond to the earthquake in Haiti:

12:30am (1/13/2010) You can text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross relief for Haiti.

6:20 pm The American Red Cross is pledging an initial $200,000 to assist communities impacted by this earthquake, and is prepared to take further action as local responders assess the situation. As with most earthquakes, we expect to see immediate needs for food, water, temporary shelter, medical services and emotional support.

The American Red Cross is accepting donations through our International Response Fund.

The absolute wrong way to respond to the earthquake in Haiti (fast forward to 6:00):

If you don't want to cede 60 seconds of your life to Pat Robertson--completely understandable!--the short version is Haitians swore a pact to the devil so that's why they keep getting their asses kicked by natural disasters. Seriously, Pat, STFU already.

Note 1: Video from Pam's House Blend.

Note 2: Verizon apparently isn't participating in the Red Cross' texting donations campaign--thanks, Verizon--but you can still go online to make a donation to the International Response Fund, and possibly drop some coins into several of the other buckets they have set up for your local chapter and deployed military while you're there.

Arizona Yet Again Fails to Disappoint

And here we go again. Rockstar Arizona state representative of the day (we don't say du jour in these parts) is Judy Burges (R-Skull Valley), who earned her tally mark in the GOP locker room in Phoenix by preparing legislation requiring presidential and vice presidential candidates to prove their natural-born US citizenship before they'll be allowed on the ballot in our fair state. In fact, they'll have to double secret probation downward dog prove it, which should make the AZ secretary of state just thrilled about his job.
The kind of certification Burges wants, though, could be more difficult than simply checking for a valid birth certificate, as the arguments about his legal qualification go beyond whether he was actually born in Hawaii.

A lawsuit filed in federal court in Pennsylvania charges, among other things, Obama lost his U.S. citizenship when his mother married an Indonesian man and moved there, and he failed to reclaim it as an adult. But Judge Barclay Surrick threw out the case without ruling on the issue, saying the plaintiff did not have standing to sue.

Oh, in case you need to ask? This is about the integrity of the electoral process. It isn't about Obama.

Burges said the measure is not necessarily about Obama, though she admitted she doubts he was born in Hawaii as he claims or that he can show he is a U.S. citizen.

No, honest, it's not about Obama, necessarily.

Still, she acknowledges she is not an Obama fan.

"When someone bows to the king of Saudi Arabia and they apologize for our country around the world, I have a problem with that," she said.

Totally not about Obama!

The two-term lawmaker said her concerns remain about having a president whose citizenship — and, as she sees it, loyalty — is not clear.

"We want to make sure that we have candidates that are going to stand up for the United States of America," Burges said.

Clearly not about Obama in any way at all!

Got anything else for us, Judy?

"Obama has a book, and it said, when it came down to it, he would be on the Muslim side," Burges continued. "Doesn't that bother you just a little bit?"

What bothers me, actually, is legislators--even of the state-level Republican variety--functioning as human equivalents of forwarded e-mails from right-wing relatives. What Burges just told us right there is that she didn't read the book herself, but knows somebody somewhere this one time said Obama has this book saying he loves Muslims and hates America. She probably isn't sure which of Obama's two best-sellers contains this information, although when it comes down to it, they both probably do, so it doesn't really matter.

The quote comes from Obama's book, "The Audacity of Hope," where he writes about conversations with immigrant communities following the 2001 terrorist attacks, especially Arab and Pakistani Americans. Obama said they were fearful over detentions and FBI questioning and were concerned about the historical precedent.

"They need specific assurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction," Obama wrote.

It remains unclear, then, why Burges chose the comparatively more difficult route of writing legislation and hustling votes when she could have just busted out the markers and posterboard for some where's the birth certificate or, better yet, Obama secret muslin signs. Maybe she thought her bill would be a more subtle approach, assuming this is what passes for subtlety in Skull Valley.

An ugly direction indeed. Hey, Arizona statehouse Republicans: can we at least see a little more originality out of you lot next time around? Even Glenn Beck will think you're nuts on this one, and that is just never a good sign.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Friday, January 08, 2010

In Which Rush Gives Us Clarity

Wow. I had no idea healthcare in Hawaii is so affordable, and offered on understanding installment plans! Rushbo counts himself among the uninsured in America, and helpfully tells us all why we should all strive to be uninsured. Because if he can pay for two days of inpatient testing, why, anyone can!
Limbaugh made the argument that healthcare is actually cheap, "You hear here that multimillionaire, only Limbaugh could afford it, that's such a misrepresentation of the truth. I'll just tell you if you can afford a car, you can afford what I did in the hospital. If you can afford a pretty expansive media room, you can afford what I spent in the hospital, and with all the tests and everything else. If you can afford an SUV, could have gone to the hospital 3 or 4 times for what I, it's just a matter of choice, what you want to budget for and pay for, Rush we got to have a car to get to work, and we got to have a house, yeah but everybody says they got to have healthcare too. The people don't prioritize it the way they do other things."

Well now. It seems I can afford a hospital stay like Rush's, because it would work out to the price of my "expansive media room" (2-year-old flatscreen from Sears, just recently paid off at $100 a month) and my car ($266/month for the past two years, with three to go). Oh. Wait. Maybe when he said "afford a car" he didn't mean the lowest monthly payment you could wring out of Toyota Financial after scraping together a down payment from friends and having a stellar credit score only because you've never been able to afford purchases major enough to default on. Maybe he meant paying cash for a new car, which in Rushland probably doesn't mean a used pickup or a new economy hatchback, since he keeps six or so rides in his garage that each push the half-million dollar sticker price. And since I have yet to hear of a two-day inpatient excursion at the level Rush enjoyed coming in at under the sticker price of my Matrix--and since I have an operating brain that is connected to reality--I have to go with the "paying $450,000 cash" possibility.

Let them eat cake and jaw-dropping unexamined privilege don't even begin to scratch the surface here. And the saddest part is that legions of Rush's barely-scraping-by listeners just sat back and said you tell 'em, Rush.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Today in Self-improvement

And to think I used to while away the hours listening to old Ellen clips on the YouTube whilst coding artifacts. News flash: the drudgery portion of my job, which involves measuring and recording various attributes of the waste flakes produced when prehistoric people whacked rocks together to make either (1) tools or (2) a big mess, can essentially be performed by a well-trained baboon. Not much of a drain on the cerebral resources, that. So I load up a playlist with Ellen, which inexplicably boosts my productivity by about 25%, or Eddie Izzard, or Arrested Development, and measure and weigh and tippy-tap the keypad and life is good, if simple.

Then I discovered iTunesU a few days after Christmas. Seriously! You can go to iTunes and listen to audio or watch video of college-level lectures on many different subjects. Granted, some of it is Open University woo (Chemistry is Awesome), but they also have stuff from MIT (Chemistry 5111: Organic), so I'm busily plugging holes in my knowledge base while simultaneously registering complete flake-rhyolite-25.11 mm-.87 g-wheee. All for free.

Then when s-orbits and p-orbits and carbon bonds refuse to anchor in my brain, I just listen to this and feel much better:

Monday, January 04, 2010

A Word on the Rose Parade

Well, not a word on the Rose Parade so much as the completely predictable exercise in re-framing the selection of Chesley Sullenberger as Grand Marshall afforded too many people in Pasadena who found themselves adjacent to reporters' voice recorders. No one can argue that Sully is a genuine hero, or that we would all gladly pay a $200 bag surcharge for the rest of forever if it would guarantee him being the pilot on our jaunts from Tucson to O'Hare. But that's not enough for an increasingly Palinized public whose highest accolade for the giants among us is that they're actually of average stature, and possibly midgets.
Sullenberger was chosen to embody the theme of the 2010 parade, "A Cut Above the Rest."

No one could disagree that he fit the bill perfectly, parade-goer Jessica Osterman said.

"It's good that they're going back to the roots and picking an average person," said Osterman, 28.

For Terri Rubio, 58, the selection of Sullenberger was an inspiration.

"He's not out to sell himself as a celebrity," she said. "He's a common person who's sticking to his values."

Jessica and Terri are apparently unaware that "A Cut Above the Rest" generally != "average person." Because Sullenberger is not a common person. He's a highly trained, well-educated professional who also stays on the cutting edge of safety procedures and crisis response research. In other words, he's pretty fucking elite--and in more other words, he's exactly the kind of person you want flying your airplane. The average guy, whether he "sticks to his values" or not--whatever the fuck that means in the context of landing a jet in a river--is not.

While it didn't come up in the Rose Parade quotes I read, I sense it simmering right under the surface, so I'd also like to remind these folks that, unlike the average Joe who might find suddenly himself in the pilot's seat when the engines go flat, Sullenberger stayed on task and focused on his training rather than taking a moment to bow his head.

Interviewer Katie Couric asked exactly the kind of what-exactly-happened, what-did-you-think-then questions that drew colorful details from the captain, a very succinct and focused man. But one question jumped out from the others: "Did you, at any point, pray?"

It seemed to be the only question that surprised Sullenberger, who had taken his plane from a normal take-off through a disasterous bird-strike that killed both engines to ditching in a frigid river in less than five minutes. His answer:

I would imagine somebody in the back was taking care of that for me while I was flying the airplane.

There's been more than enough remaking gods and heroes in our own image over the last nine years or so. Let the man be a hero without dragging him down to your own level.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

2010, Post the First

I had to think for a minute about what the date is today, and then count forward and backward a few times to figure out which day of the week we're dealing with here. Apparently it is Saturday, which after a Friday that felt like a Sunday creates more confusion than I can deal with after only one cup of coffee.

People a few blocks away from here spell out messages in the rocks in their yard. Yesterday's (Friday, so I hear) was


which takes a lot of rocks. I always wonder how they deal with kerning issues; it's very precise. So my reasonable and only resolution for 2010 is to try not to suck. Fair enough. Also, I would like to make something involving roasted cauliflower at some point before 2011. There you have it.

The girlfriend is off for a day of refereeing, the boy is off at his dad's and points unknown, and back here at Chez Bolt the dishes want washing and the floors could do with some attention and the shed yet again failed to magically clean itself out overnight. In other words, life as usual has triumphed over the holiday afterglow and today's bowl games aren't close to compelling enough to justify putting off usual life's demands for another day.

One more cup of coffee and I'll get moving. Oh, yes, and Dick Cheney can go fuck himself.