Jesurgislac’s Journal

December 31, 2008

About me

I got this idea from Renaissance Guy. Herewith a list of random items. Comment to let me know what you can identify with.

I purposely kept all my political opinions off this list, or almost all, because that’s something I’m fairly sure we already know about each other if you read here regularly.

1. Learned to read at the age of three and have seldom stopped since.

2. My favourite kind of novels are the sort that include large amounts of expository information in the narrative – Victor Hugo, J. R. R. Tolkien, Robert Graves, Octavia E. Butler, K. J. Parker, C. J. Cherryh.

3. Milk chocolate should be at least 40% cocoa. Dark chocolate should be at least 70% cocoa. White chocolate is not actually chocolate at all.

4. I hardly ever get around to watching a movie when it first comes out. I’m much more likely to watch it 2 years later when it’s on TV or someone loans me a DVD.

5. Though going to the cinema or the theatre with people who want to sit down and talk about it afterwards is a treat.

6. I’m fascinated by ancient writing: by the invention of writing and the development of the concept.

7. I’m fascinated by writing – by the ability to convert thoughts in the head to symbols on the page and vice versa.

8. I eat peanut butter on bread with tomato ketchup.

9. I like Marmite.

10. I’m a lifelong vegetarian, and while I try to be polite about it at all times, i really don’t understand how people can enjoy eating meat.

11. I loathe having a meal with someone who feels they’re entitled to make negative comments about what I – or anyone else at the table – chose to eat.

12. I love making bread.

13. Once Willie Nelson has sung any song, it’s a wonder to me that anyone wants to listen to anyone else sing it.

14. Good dialogue is the single thing most likely to attract me to a new TV series.

15. I’ve only been to one live music event in my adult life (not counting church services with choirs) and I came away thinking that it worth having had the experience of hearing Willie Nelson sing live, but I couldn’t understand people who actually wanted to go to events like that on a regular basis, what with the amount of time spent hanging about, the people in the audience singing along so you can’t hear the person we all paid to hear very well, etc.

16. Wine is better than grapes. Beer is usually a waste of good grain.

17. Very dark rich real ales and beers are totally worth it, though.

18. Amy should have died after she fell through the ice. Beth should have lived to grow up and keep house for Jo, who should have continued to write thrilling stories and never married anyone.

19. People who think Fanny Price should have married Henry Crawford and Edmund Bertram should have married Mary Crawford have really not been paying attention.

20. Russet apples are the best apples there are.

21. But any apple is good except for those big mushy ones, red or yellow.

22. The perfect fruit is a mango.

23. I read XKCD three times a week and always click on random to view some past XKCD when I do.

24. I try to use cloth bags or my backpack instead of plastic bags whenever I go shopping.

25. The arrival of the post used to be an exciting moment. Since e-mail was invented, the paper mail has become less and less interesting, but I remember when the sound of the letters falling through the door was a thrill.

26. I think Shakespeare’s comedies tend to be at least as scary as his tragedies.

27. I prefer cats to dogs, both aesthetically and as pet/companions.

28. But think a well-trained well-behaved dog is a pleasure to see, particularly a working dog.

29. But feel a cat leaping up onto my lap, curling up and purring till it falls asleep, is better than any pack-loyal dog.

30. While ordinarily I manage to separate my feelings about a writer’s political views from my ability to enjoy their writing, Orson Scott Card managed to make himself one big exception over the past four years, speaking as someone who was an enthusiastic fan for over twenty years before 2004. It’s not just that I disagree with him: it’s also that Card seems to be unable to tolerate widespread disagreement with his politics without becoming a jerk.

31. Favourite poets; Marilyn Hacker, Rainer Maria Rilke, Rudyard Kipling. I find this combination as weird as you probably do, but those are genuinely the three I’m most likely to sit down with and read their poems purely for the pleasure of it.

32. Allergic to dust/dust mites. Hate housework.

33. Keep favourite t-shirts till they have noticeable holes in them.

34. Prefer growing herbs to flowers.

35. Love the moment on any flight when the air flowing under the wing of the plane pushes the plane upwards away from the ground.

36. Ever since I first understood how the depth of the atmosphere, the angle of light through the atmosphere, and the human eye’s ability to perceive light, is why we perceive sunsets, I’ve appreciated sunsets all the more. Knowing how it works increases my aesthetic appreciation, not only for sunsets but for almost anything.

37. I like scented candles, but not candles whimsically shaped into amusing statues of wax to be destroyed by burning.

38. When reading Little Women I always identified with Jo. When reading Mansfield Park, I always identified with Fanny Price. When reading Ballet Shoes, I always identified with Petrova.

39. I hate all fizzy soft drinks, cola or sodapop or ginger.

40. I prefer still wine to fizzy wine, too.

41. I am an atheist.

42. I have read the Bible from Genesis to Revelations, and re-read most of the more interesting books multiple times in more than one translation.

43. I keep trying to do the same with the Qu’ran, and keep finding it less interesting, though I’m working on achieving a basic familiarity.

44. I don’t like celery.

45. I dislike mint: I still wish it wasn’t the default flavour for toothpastes.

46. Wikipedia annoys me greatly, even when I make use of it.

47. I love dunking a chewy cookie into a hot cup of tea.

48. About the only thing I think I would consider killing myself over is if the alternative were a protracted and painful death.

49. Goldfish are not pets, they are decor.

50. Blueberries are overrated.

December 19, 2008

Message to heterosexual supporters of Barack Obama

Telling us you don’t think it’s a big deal that a homophobic bigot has been invited to give the invocation at Barack Obama’s inaugeration?

Because Barack Obama has got to reach out to those homophobic, sexist, racist evangelical Christians. And it’s not a big deal when in doing so he insults LGBT people.

What else are we good for, if not to be the group that people of all religions can insult? It’s not as if Obama needs to treat LGBT people with any respect: the sane ones know he’s better than any Republican alternative, the insane ones suck John Hagee’s dick in airport restrooms and thank him for the privilege.

Members of the Lesbian and Gay Band Association are going to have to stand there politely and listen to Rick Warren, who thinks their having the freedom to marry is like incest or paedophila. I bet they weren’t warned in advance that they would be required to do that.

I hope Nancy Sutley can arrange to be absent. It would be ugly for Obama to force her to attend as Rick Warren prays.

Now why didn’t Obama invite John Hagee? Hagee could have insulted Barack Obama, too, and then we’d all be even.

December 18, 2008

But people shouldn’t throw shoes!

On Sunday 14th December, an Iraqi journalist, Muntadar al-Zaidi, of Baghdadia Televison, threw a pair of shoes at George W. Bush.

- “This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog.”
- “This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq.”

Zaidi is 28 years old, a graduate of communications from Baghdad University: members of his family were arrrested under Saddam Hussein’s regime, and he himself has been abducted by insurgents once and also held twice for questioning by the US occupation. (BBC)

Personally, I don’t like people throwing shoes at anyone.

His brother, Dargham al-Zaidi, told the BBC that Muntadar deliberately bought Iraqi-made shoes, from a shop on al-Khyam street in central Baghdad: dark brown with laces.

For some reason, I found myself wondering what kind of shoes they were: a pair of rubber flip-flops wouldn’t do much damage; steel-toed Doc Martens would be a different story. Insofar as I could see anything about these particular shoes, a lot would seem to depend on whether or not they had wooden heels.

Bush dodged both shoes, and appeared quite insouciant about the incident. Abdel Karim Khalaf, the head of operations at the interior ministry, told Reporters Without Borders that Muntadar al-Zaidi faced proceedings under Articles 223, 225 and 227 of the Iraqi criminal code: he can be sentenced to up to seven years in prison for “insulting a foreign head of state”.

That said, I also wondered whether Bush would have had any sense at all of how angry a lot of Iraqis are had this not happened.

Bush’s response: “If you want the facts, it’s a size 10 shoe that he threw.” (BBC)

I’m not saying that that makes it OK; just wondering.

Muntadar al-Zaidi has (his brother says) suffered a broken arm, broken ribs and internal bleeding after being beaten in custody. But after all, it wasn’t OK for him to throw shoes.

All these preceding blockquotes are from Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings.

Teresa at Making Light, in her Free Muntadar Zaidi now! post:

So, will someone please tell George that he has two choices? He can either grab a moment’s grace in the midst of the sorry spectacle that is the end of his administration, or he can have people sending shoes in his direction for the rest of his life.

But not Hilzoy. Obviously.

I wondered when Hilzoy took the gig at Political Animal if she would be infected by the same thing that got Kevin Drum: the need to have your political enemies praise you as “unpartisan”. I don’t know if she cross-posted this to Political Animal, but it’s a post Kevin Drum could easily have written, expressing such concern for Bush being the victim of having shoes thrown at him without harming him – without a word or a shred of concern for the man who threw the shoes, though it didn’t take much thought to know that he would suffer badly for what he did.

Update: Where to send your old shoes.

December 11, 2008

“It turns us on when you don’t have equality”

Seriously.

The Yes-on-H8-ers have come out of the closet: they get turned on by denying LGBT people equal civil rights. For them, it’s a sexual kink. They can’t get off unless they’re fantasising about how their friends and neighbors can’t get married.

Playful Walrus was the first to admit it Kingfisher agreed that this was their motivation too: and Pearl really gets off on it.

(With regard to discussion at these blogs: Pearl, like Beetle Blogger and PomegranateApple, bans opposing opinions, preferring echo-chamber praise or silence to discussion. Playful Walrus requires full name-and-address registration. Kingfisher initially appeared to welcome debate, but then – as an anonymous troll appeared with the intent of derailing a civil debate with ad hom attacks on me – made a mod’s decision that anonymous ad hom attacks were preferable to informed/polite debate. I guess that would go with KF’s declared sexual kink of denying other people civil rights to get off…)

It’s interesting because I always figured the people who talk about how if same-sex couples can marry this will “destroy” mixed-sex marriage are speaking in code about how they fear closety gay men and lesbians will not want to spend their lives in card marriages when they see long-term same-sex couples getting to marry. How soul-destroying it must be for a person who all their lives denied themselves – to see others who were not so afraid.

But this doesn’t explain why happy hets would oppose marriage. But this admission makes sense of it: they have a kink of their own. They get off on other people’s inequality. A form of BDSM, not safe/sane/consensual, but harmless enough so long as it was merely fantasy – so long as Walrus or Kingfisher or Pearl just wanked themselves off over the idea of two men or two women being denied marriage. No one should be condemned for their sexual fantasies, so long as they don’t impose them on others who haven’t consented. I have no problem with these bloggers having shared sexual fantasies about how they’ll deny marriage to same-sex couples.

But when they want to force their sexual fantasies of denying marriage on to other people…

There’s a word for people who think that satisfying their sexual arousal is more important than sexual consent: words for people who think what turns them on ought to be forced on other people against their will. That’s the kind of person these anti-marriage bloggers are. Not just bigots…

December 9, 2008

Persephone embraces Hades: Demographic Winter

Pomegranate Apple whines: …it still persists. this argument that if someone is pro-traditional family it means you are also a bigot, a homophobe, a religious-crazy, a racist etc.

Yes, it does, for fairly obvious reasons. “Pro-traditional family” is the name used for themselves by those who oppose equal rights for same-sex couples and their children: although these people talk a lot about being “pro” this and “promoting” that, they identify themselves primarily as against some couples, some parents, and some children.

this argument also says that if you promote traditional family you also promote the oppression of women, senseless breeding

If you are against the oppression of women, it’s fairly basic that you support the right of women to decide how many children to have, and when to have them. The post to which I am responding is all about promoting a video, Demographic Winter, which regards the ability of white women in developed countries to make use of effective and safe family planning as a threat. While some people linking to this video may be doing so stupidly, without thinking about what they’re promoting, the movement behind this video is very explicitly for the oppression of women and the denial of family planning because not enough white babies are being born.

Proposition 8 is pretty much over

No. Not by half. On 19th November, the California Supreme Court agreed to review the validity of Proposition 8 in response to a lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). The lawsuit argues that Proposition 8 is invalid because it “improperly attempts to undo the constitution’s core commitment to equality and deprives the courts of their essential role of protecting the rights of minorities. According to the California Constitution, such a radical change in the way the courts and state government work cannot be decided by a simple ballot measure.”

Proposition 8 will not be “over” until it has been overturned by the Californian Supreme Court. As this is the same court that determined in May that the state constitution made a ban on same-sex marriages invalid, I think the bigots happily hugging to themselves the belief that they won are having a premature bigotgasm.

my blog continues because I think strengthening marriage is a pretty crucial conversation.

I note, however, that far from “strengthening marriage”, this blogger is firmly on the side that opposes the freedom to marry – and far from wanting to have a “crucial conversation”, this blogger bans all comments except from pre-approved commenters.

Children are not accessories.

True, but who said they were?

Children are not annoying.

Oh, come now. Whoever said that has never looked after a child in their life. Every child has an entirely human capacity for being thoroughly annoying, and children have a special capacity for being specially annoying. I speak as an experienced babysitter/childminder and aunt to several niblings. Children can be exceptionally damned annoying.

Children are not burdens.

Oh yes, they are. Whoever said that has never had full financial/emotional responsibility for a child in their life.

Children are blessings.

True. This does not prevent them from being exceptionally damned annoying and burdensome.

From Nature, from God, from the Universe. They should not be lightly or selfishly dismissed (to day-care) (to raise themselves) (to fend for themselves) (to grow up with out a father) (to grow up without a mother) (to abortion clinics).

Now here is the crux of it. A “traditional family” by this definition is a family in which one or both of the parents, who are in this paradigm if “traditional” always a mixed-sex couple, provide all the childcare for all the children. Anything else is “lightly or selfishly” dismissing the children.

This excludes most of the families in the US. Not by sexual orientation, but by income. This is a statement of class privilege, not just homophobia, sexism, and racism: the only really good parents, in this paradigm, are the parents who can afford to raise a family with just one regular income. Parents who can’t – where both must work – are being “light and selfish”, treating their children as “burdens”.

It is unacceptable for any society to shrug their shoulders and say, “they turn out fine.”

Because it’s unacceptable to be content with fine children?

I’m not okay with fine.

Again: see the class privilege? Rich parents produce children who aren’t just “fine children”.

Children deserve (perhaps have a fundamental and natural right?) to grow up with a mom and a dad interested in all the moments of their lives.

But as we’ve just established: working-class parents can’t provide that – “lightly and selfishly” they put the kids in daycare so that they can both work to pay the rent. Middle-class parents usually can’t provide this either: “lightly and selfishly” they too need to use daycare: the only kind of “mom and dad” who won’t ever need daycare and won’t ever need to leave the kids alone when they work are, in fact, the kind of couple who are so wealthy they can afford live-in staff. Without having even a part-time job.

Adults should do everything they can to help make this a reality.

For the privileged few who can afford it?

Strong families means sacrifice, but it means children grow up healthy, happy, and capable of contribution (without being weighed down by emotional scars).

I think, actually, the children of the very rich who never went to daycare but who had a mom and dad “interested in all the moments of their lives” are quite as likely to be weighed down by emotional scars as the ordinary children this blogger thinks have “light and selfish” parents who merely work hard all day to feed, clothe, and house their children, and then pick their kids up from daycare and take them home…

Strong families means a civilization that can focus on art, science, helping 3rd world countries, instead of being traumatized by its own issues (poverty, welfare, crime, psychological problems, the list goes on). (and on).

So a ciivlisation made up exclusively of the enormously wealthy? Can you say “Eloi”? How about “Morlock”?

This is, yes, way beyond this blogger’s determination to discriminate against and dismiss some parents and some children: to denigrate strong families and to deny marriage as a civil right. This is about an idea of privileged, wealthy couples somehow being the only kind of couple who really deserve to have children. Parents who work for a living are “light and selfish” parents.

So, tangled up in a complex knot at the root of the anti-marriage movement there is classism, sexism, racism, and homophobia. My my my my my my, what a mess.

December 7, 2008

No, it’s not unfair

From Reflections on faith, politics, and society: However, efforts like this (www.mormonsstoleourrights.com), to single-out and scapegoat Mormons in particular, based on their support of Prop. 8, are unfair

No, it’s not. The LDS Church mounted a concerted political campaign in California against Proposition 8, and succeeded. There are internal accounts before the election of the pressure that the LDS hierarchy was putting on bishops to pressure their congregation into doing pro-Prop8 work: here‘s one account: and from a different perspective, here’s another.

Now they see their tax-exempt status threatened as a result, they’re going all weak-kneed and saying “it wasn’t just us!” but this is cowardly bullspit. It wasn’t “just” them – but they were the only church that, as a church, stepped over the bounds that separate church from state and got their congregations to work as a political unit.

In 1978, the LDS Church ended a long-standing tradition of religiously-inspired racism when it seemed likely that the IRS was going to take away their tax exempt status. I don’t know whether their pro-Prop8 battle will be enough to lose them their tax exempt status now, but the threat should at least ensure that the LDS leadership will never again pressure members of the congregrations to take part in political campaigning and donation at the will of the church leadership.

The number of LDS church members, fervently pro-Prop8 themselves, who lack the courage of their convictions about same-sex marriage when it turns out that their public, political and financial opposition to same-sex marriage has brought public, political, and financial opposition on them, is quite astonishing to me – clearly, for all their fanatical talk about how same-sex marriage is the ultimate threat to the society, they don’t really believe that crap, any more than pro-lifers really believe that abortion=murder.

If these LDS church members believed that in supporting Proposition 8 they were supporting everything most dear to them, then the LDS Church losing its tax-exempt status (and their facing the opposition of their less-bigoted neighbours) would be just the price they had to pay for saving society. If they were brave. If they believed what they were doing was the right thing to do.

They aren’t just bigots and bullies. They’re cowards.

December 6, 2008

Humans are not an endangered species

Sometimes, the obvious needs to be said. The world’s population is 6.7 billion (World Population Clock) and rising: a large and flourishing population of human beings exists in almost every part of the world. About the only continent we don’t have a breeding population of humans on is Antarctica, and we could, any time we wanted, it would just take much more technological investment than penguins need.

So what’s with the “demographic winter” thing that Christian-right “profamily” activists are so keen on? As Kathryn Joyce points out in The Nation, what’s missing are the “right” babies – what worries this kind of person is not the human species becoming extinct, but not enough white babies being born.

At the national level, in 2004 Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi offered a “baby bonus” of about $1,000 to parents who had a second child. … Elizabeth Krause, an anthropologist and author of A Crisis of Births: Population Politics and Family-Making in Italy, tracked that country’s population efforts over the past decade and found politicians demanding more babies “to keep away the armadas of immigrants from the southern shores of the Mediterranean” and priests calling for a “Christian dike against the Muslim invasion of Italy.” The racial preferences behind Berlusconi’s “baby bonus” came into embarrassing relief when immigrant parents were accidentally sent checks for their offspring and then asked to return the money: the Italian government hadn’t meant to promote those births.

Barry McLerran, said to be a “producer” (he doesn’t appear on IMDB), did a “documentary” about this problem racists have with white women not having “enough” babies, which is entitled Demographic Winter.

Proposition 8 passed on lies: one of the most prevalent lies before it passed was that somehow it would affect the Californian school system. That’s not a lie the pro-Prop8ers can usefully stick to, as it will become evident as time goes on that “Yes on 8″ didn’t affect the school system in California at all.

But now the rash of homophobic blogs that appeared around Proposition 8 have been picking up on this: I noticed it via Beetle Blogger, Kingfisher Column, The Pomegranate Apple, all of whom are linking to a free torrent. They need an excuse: a claim that if same-sex couples are allowed to marry, this will somehow affect the white population of the world, or at least of their respective countries. This works for the anti-marriage movement because for them (as I wrote two years ago):

these people who oppose contraception, sex education, abortion, and who oppose child support, a right to paid maternity leave, breastfeeding, subsidised daycare, free education for all beginning in nursery school. Racism and sexism are the roots, with homophobia as a flourishing fruit of the tree.

Not just the bloggers, but their permitted commenters (most of these blogs only allow their own cohort to post comments):

  • “Oh man. If that video doesn’t make obvious the need for traditional, healthy marriage and family, I don’t know what will. Homosexuals seem to always bring up the broken homes, victims of divorce, that plague our society today. As if the crumbling family unit and committed, loving marriage will be saved by allowing gays to marry.”
  • Marriage has been weakened by no-fault divorce and the general acceptance of cohabitation and adultery. Will gay marriage serve to strengthen the desire for marriage in the eyes of young heterosexual males? The mule is about to kick again.
  • The amazing thing is that people can see pretty clearly that the trends are going south, but the majority of people haven’t been convinced enough to change how they see things. Perhaps this has to be like the new “environmentalism” cause. Save the planet, go back to basics, families, values, vegetables and whole grains.

It’s not just about equal marriage. For these people, racism is just as important as sexism is just as important as homophobia: not only must same-sex couples be denied marriage, white women must be denied contraception and access to abortion, because more of the right kind of babies must be born.

On 16th November, in The Advocate, Michael Joseph Gross described an encounter with an elderly straight woman:

The night before Election Day, a black woman walked into the San Francisco headquarters of the No on Proposition 8 campaign. Someone had ripped down the No on 8 sign she’d posted in her yard and she wanted a replacement. She was old, limping, and carrying a cane. Walking up and down the stairs to this office was hard for her.

I asked why coming to get the sign was worth the trouble, and she answered, “All of us are equal, and all of us have to fight to make sure the law says that.”

Right on.

December 4, 2008

Please choose love instead of hate…

The funniest free video of 2008: shame it had to be inspired by PropHate.

Prop 8 the Musical

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