February 26, 2004

I’m gonna hit you till candy comes out!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomemos @ 4:54 pm

Oh for…

Okay, I’m going to try not to have a one-track blog, but this really, really pisses me off. This is an article that Bret put in a comment on the last entry, but I wanted to put it here to make sure everyone saw it and got their day ruined as badly as mine was.

The following is excerpted from an article by Orson Scott Card, much-beloved sci-fi writer. The whole thing is found here, but here’s a particularly salient point he makes.

“In the first place, no law in any state in the United States now or ever has forbidden homosexuals to marry. The law has never asked that a man prove his heterosexuality in order to marry a woman, or a woman hers in order to marry a man.

Any homosexual man who can persuade a woman to take him as her husband can avail himself of all the rights of husbandhood under the law. And, in fact, many homosexual men have done precisely that, without any legal prejudice at all.

Ditto with lesbian women. Many have married men and borne children. And while a fair number of such marriages in recent years have ended in divorce, there are many that have not.

So it is a flat lie to say that homosexuals are deprived of any civil right pertaining to marriage. To get those civil rights, all homosexuals have to do is find someone of the opposite sex willing to join them in marriage. ”

You read that right: Gays are not oppressed. They can marry people of the opposite sex just as easily as you or I can.

So this is why it’s so important to maintain the integrity of heterosexual marriage: so that people who can’t love each other, who aren’t even attracted to each other, can have lots of babies for America.

Up until the late ’60’s, many states had laws forbidding miscegenation–the unnatural marriage between people of different races. But what’s so bad about that? Black people and white people had the same marriage rights: the right to marry people of their own race.

I believe the relevant quotation comes from Anatole France: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich, as well as the poor, to sleep under the bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” And it forbids straights, as well as gays, to marry people of their own sex. That’s equality.

I recognize that Card is a Mormon. I’m fine with him being against a class of human beings based on his goofy space religion. No one’s making him go to gay bachelor parties or anything like that. But the fact is that thousands of gay people are forming the same sort of committed, monogamous relationships the right loves so much. They deserve equal protection and recognition before the law. They deserve the right to screw up like the rest of us.

I’ll close with one more quote from the world-renowned author of Ender’s Game:

“Let me put it another way. The sex life of the people around me is none of my business; the homosexuality of some of my friends and associates has made no barrier between us, and as far as I know, my heterosexuality hasn’t bothered them. That’s what tolerance looks like.

But homosexual “marriage” is an act of intolerance. It is an attempt to eliminate any special preference for marriage in society — to erase the protected status of marriage in the constant balancing act between civilization and individual reproduction.

So if my friends insist on calling what they do “marriage,” they are not turning their relationship into what my wife and I have created, because no court has the power to change what their relationship actually is.

Instead they are attempting to strike a death blow against the well-earned protected status of our, and every other, real marriage.

They steal from me what I treasure most, and gain for themselves nothing at all. They won’t be married. They’ll just be playing dress-up in their parents’ clothes.”

Fuck you, Orson Scott Card.


February 24, 2004

Do the steps that you’ve been shown

Filed under: Laws and Sausages — tomemos @ 1:52 pm

Well, that’s torn it–Bush has proposed a gay marriage amendment.

I don’t think the amendment will pass Congress. If it does, I don’t think it will be ratified. They need 38 states to do it, and I think we can find 13 states that will balk at passing the first Constitutional amendment in US history that discriminates against a class of people. But Bush needn’t care if it passes; he can use it as another way the Democrats are perverting values etc. etc. It’s obviously a political move.

Which isn’t to say it’s not absolutely terrifying and outrageous.

There’s a website–there always is–that could help. It’s called Dear Mary, and it allows you to send a postcard to Mary Cheney, openly gay daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney. Before entering the White House, Mary was an outspoken advocate of gay rights, and her father said he supported equal rights for gays and lesbians. Since 1/20/2001, she’s been conspicuously silent. Now she needs to come out and oppose this revolting amendment. Send her a postcard and tell her to do so.

On the site, you can read postcards other people have written. Spend some time there, it’s really touching. They’ve got everyone from gay couples who have been together for eighteen years, to seventeen-year-old gay kids who want to be able to get married someday, to the parents of gays and lesbians. Here’s my favorite postcard I’ve read:

Dear Mary,

Please convince your father that principle is more important than politics and that he should not be a part of the conservative’s agenda against gays.

I am a so-called “straight” grandmother who has no personal dog in this fight, but I can recognize unfairness when I see it. There is no way gay marriage can influence or change my forty-five year marriage unless I were to get in a snit over it and have a heart attack. I have no respect for people, young or old, who take pleasure in denying basic right to others.

Fifty years from now, those like the Bush administration are going to look pretty foolish for their opposition to a thing so honest and right. Please ask your father to break with the others and be on the side of the angels.


Oshkosh, WI

You cannot wrestle a dove

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomemos @ 1:19 am

One downside of this last weekend is that, for some reason, it was Bad Vibes Weekend in the western United States. I was in a perfectly good mood, and so was Lauren, but around us human society was falling apart. The woman next to me on my first flight complained the whole time, I saw a spat between server and served in the food court at SFO during my layover, and I got yelled at for no good reason by a jerky fellow customer at a Portland record store–I was browsing the CD rack near him, and he said, without looking at me, “Go look somewhere else.” I figured he was talking to someone he knew, so didn’t respond; he fixed me with an incredulous look and said, angrily, “Did you hear what I said?” I stammered about how I had the right to browse too, he snapped that he was there first, I said I could wait, and it ended with us both staring angrily at the CDs in front of us. To my credit, I didn’t walk away, but looking back now I would probably pay about $150 for the chance to give him a humiliating put-down. I think I’ve settled on “I don’t care how many people you manage at Taco Bell, it’s Saturday today.” (Or I’d pay $30 for “Fuck you, prick.”)

Bad Vibes Weekend started on my cab ride to John Wayne Airport. The driver had the Sean Hannity show on the radio, and Hannity was talking about how certain it is that Bush is going to get re-elected. “When we come back,” he said, “we’ll talk to a Republican strategist who literally created an earthquake in Georgia.” Misuse of “literally” is a pet peeve of mine, so I made some lame English major joke about it. The cab driver chuckled and then said, “I tell you, I cannot wait for this election.”

“Why’s that?” I asked.

“Because George Bush is going to win in a landslide,” he said. Which I expected, so I wasn’t perturbed. I asked him what he liked about Bush, and a conversation followed.

Look: when leftists talk to right-wingers, they inevitably describe the right-wingers’ side of the conversation as a “tirade.” (Or a “harangue.”) I recognize that. That said, this was a tirade. It wasn’t just that I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, though I couldn’t–he started with “a president who doesn’t believe in appeasement” and made it to “less taxes,” “less government meddling in our lives,” and “fighting the terrorists” before I was able to say anything. (I did mention that some of Bush’s terrorist-fighting seemed to involve a lot of meddling in our lives; he responded, in so many words, that he was okay with that kind of meddling.) It was also that a lot of what he said were clearly stock phrases he had heard elsewhere. I know this because I’ve heard those phrases before–often from Bush himself–and because the cabbie repeated them, verbatim, at different points in the conversation. They included “the U.N. is nothing more than a worthless debating society” (how I wish he was wrong) and “John Kerry has a more left-wing voting record than Ted Kennedy” (how I wish he was right). At one point he even called his cab “the No-Spin Cab, the O’Reilly Cab.” My “spin” was to argue that the “coalition of 37 nations in Iraq” was made up of a lot of countries like El Salvador and Ukraine which were really providing only moral support, if that.

I don’t mean to set up a “dumb conservative cabbie, smart liberal grad student” dichotomy here. He had a lot of facts on hand, I could have argued my case better, and anyway it’s not like all of my opinions are arrived at through my own careful independent research. But I’ll tell you one thing he had that I don’t: absolute confidence in his convictions. He pointed out that it was hypocritical for Democrats, many of whom voted to authorize the invasion, to oppose Bush in Iraq when they had not objected to Clinton in Kosovo and Serbia. I told him that he was right, but that I don’t vote on party lines and so I don’t let those Democrats off the hook. And anyway, I said, he had to admit that the Republican party suffers from similar hypocrisy since– “No. No sir,” he said. He honest-to-God argued that the Democratic Party is an evil, treacherous institution, opposed by the true force of good, the Republican Party. “I’m talking facts here,” he said more than once. “These are just the facts, it doesn’t matter what you think about them.”

Oh God, George Bush can’t win this November. He can’t. I’m talking facts here.

February 23, 2004

Last of the Red-Hot Swamis

Filed under: Travels — tomemos @ 3:03 am

I spent the weekend in Portland, visiting my friend Lauren. Lauren and I were housemates in Oxford, and this was only the second time I’ve seen her since then; it’s been more than a year since the last time, and we haven’t really kept in any kind of touch. In fact, she didn’t even know I was coming until last week. But it was the kind of instant good-time weekend that you want from a 36-hour visit. We talked a lot, we played with her dog Petey, we watched movies. We finally exchanged phone numbers. At first I was relieved that we’re still good friends, then it seemed natural. No doubt it’ll go that way next year, too.

Only a couple of you have met Lauren, so I’ll let one vignette speak for her, and for the whole weekend. On Saturday night, she and some friends took me to a Nickel Arcade–$2.50 to get in, and inside are all kinds of games (arcade games, claw games, skee ball, air hockey) which cost between one and four nickels (two is average). They sell nickels in $2 rolls, I used up three of them. At the end of the night, I had only something like 150 tickets, so I got a wiffle ball and bat. Lauren, though, got 280 tickets, and spent a long time browsing the available prizes. Finally she decided.

“I want a bunch of plastic dinosaurs,” she said.

The dinosaurs in question were so cheapy. They were hollow, with garish colors, and only four or five different dinosaurs, including one which I think doesn’t exist–it looked like what they used to think Iguanadon looked like. But they were five tickets each.

“What’s 280 divided by five?” she asked. The answer is fifty-six.

She turned to the woman at the counter. “I want fifty-six plastic dinosaurs,” she said.

The woman gave her a bag, and Lauren put all the dinosaurs available (twelve) in it. They went into the back and got another bag, then another. Lauren had a plastic supermarket bag full of cheap plastic dinosaurs, and she was just the happiest person.

At the time of this writing, she’s used a bunch of them to decorate her room. Standing on a shelf, they like some fluorescent dinosaur conga line. She’s still got about half of them left, though–and she’s talking about going back to the nickel arcade to win more.

Visit soon, Lauren.

February 17, 2004

Everybody Look Busy

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomemos @ 6:24 pm

That’s what I call two thumbs down.

But when I get back home, you’re always there to rub my back

Filed under: Romance — tomemos @ 11:54 am

I spent the weekend in the Bay Area with Julie. Pat also has a sweetie up there, so we decided to pool our resources (his car and iPod, my humor and erudition) to take advantage of the holiday. Pat drove like a champ, especially considering it was his first time making a trip of that magnitude. And I got to see green grass on the I-5, the first time I’ve come across that.

The weekend was great but short, which is obviously what I was going to say about it. Some highlights: I got to feed Izzy, Julie’s bird; for dinner on Valentine’s Day we made nabe (Japanese winter soup) and went out for drinks; Karen’s birthday was on Sunday night, we bar-crawled around Lake Merritt and it was all a good time. Then, home. Great but short.

Something the weekend helped drive home is that my time in the Bay Area is becoming more and more about Julie and my friends and less and less about my family. (Case in point: I always say “the Bay Area” rather than “Berkeley” now, because I don’t actually stay in Berkeley and none of my friends live there.) When I got to Julie’s, I called home to set up some time to visit my folks. My step-mom made a joke about how they come in second to my Valentine now. “Well, if I was visiting for Mother’s Day, you know who’d be first,” I said. Good line, but of course I’m not going home for Mother’s Day.

What ended up happening was: Julie and I met my parents and my two-year-old cousin Anna (a very cute creature) at the Steam Trains in Tilden Park, which I hadn’t been to since I was 7 or so. That was a lot of fun. Then we went back to the house to talk and catch up, and after about an hour and a half we left. It was a nice visit, but it wasn’t like I was coming home–it was like I was in town with my girlfriend and thought I’d stop by.

Anyway, I’m back in the realm of the working, so I’d better get that started. I’m more than halfway through my second quarter of grad school, so I’m going to go start acting like it.

February 9, 2004

Since when is skepticism un-American?

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomemos @ 9:55 pm

From the Associated Press, dated yesterday:
DES MOINES, Iowa – In what may be the first subpoena of its kind in decades, a federal judge has ordered a university to turn over records about a gathering of anti-war activists.

In addition to the subpoena of Drake University, subpoenas were served this past week on four of the activists who attended a Nov. 15 forum at the school, ordering them to appear before a grand jury Tuesday, the protesters said.

Federal prosecutors refuse to comment on the subpoenas.

In addition to records about who attended the forum, the subpoena orders the university to divulge all records relating to the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, a New York-based legal activist organization that sponsored the forum.

The group, once targeted for alleged ties to communism in the 1950s, announced Friday it will ask a federal court to quash the subpoena on Monday.

“The law is clear that the use of the grand jury to investigate protected political activities or to intimidate protesters exceeds its authority,” guild President Michael Ayers said in a statement.

Representatives of the Lawyer’s Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union said they had not heard of such a subpoena being served on any U.S. university in decades.

Those served subpoenas include the leader of the Catholic Peace Ministry, the former coordinator of the Iowa Peace Network, a member of the Catholic Worker House, and an anti-war activist who visited Iraq in 2002.

February 8, 2004

There’s a long fly, it’s gonna be, I believe…

Filed under: Game of Base — tomemos @ 1:50 am

I really, really can’t wait for baseball to start.

I guess this happens to me to some extent every year, but it feels much, much stronger this year, and happening much earlier. Spring Training hasn’t even started yet (one week!), and yet I’m checking every day and talking with other grad students about trades and Vladimir Guerrero and salary arbitration. I don’t know if it’s that I have digital cable and can finally watch games whenever I want, or if it’s that there’s less to do around here, or what, but I’m having spring fever in February and it’s freaking me out.

I just started watching the PBS Baseball documentary, and I grin like a kid through the whole thing. (Side note: did you know that the curve ball was initially banned in official baseball games?) Ken Burns notwithstanding, I don’t know if there’s something ineffable about baseball that makes it more special than all other sports, or if this is just a normal psychological/physiological reaction to sports fandom. Whatever, I just keep picturing coming out through the tunnel, and there’s the field, with a dirt quarter-circle and bases ninety feet apart.

More of this later. Especially in April.

“Here come the Giants, in the bottom of the first inning…”

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