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.

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November 14, 2008

When you discover you never knew someone

Fred Clark at Slacktivist writes about the Liars for Christ:

Supporters of Proposition 8 were forced to resort to Lying for Jesus — pastors will be jailed! your church will be forced to conduct gay weddings! your organist may become even more flamboyant! — because they weren’t able to articulate any honest basis for opposing this right as an equal right. The ‘vixen and I got our marriage license on the same day that George Takei and Brad Altman got theirs. The wedding of George and Brad neither picked my pocket nor broke my leg, so what possible cause would I have had to object to it? What reason would I have to deny George and Brad the same happiness that my wife and I were permitted to enjoy? Such exclusion makes no sense unless we appeal to some imagined grave consequences such as those dreamed up by the Liars for Christ.

And here again we see that basing policy on imaginary fears and imaginary grave consequences leads to different, but very real, grave consequences. When we choose to make laws based on imaginary fears, we see our own rights reduced to mere privileges. This is what always happens when we place fear on the throne.

Orson Scott Card (homophobic terrorist), following his sustained campaign for Proposition 8 and whining about how that made some people not like him any more, writes a follow-up post after Proposition 8 passed with such a narrow and expensive margin, praising some of the younger bullies in the fight:

So when our Latter-day Saint singles heeded the call of the church’s leaders to take part in the defense of marriage, they, more than any other group of Saints, were swimming upstream.

They worked hard. They took risks. And many of them paid a price that is heavy indeed.

Many of them lost dear friends — sometimes with bitter, angry recriminations from people they had once been close to.

It seems ironic that these young Mormons were open-minded enough to be friends with people whose lives were so different from their own; but their friends, in the name of tolerance, could not remain friends with Mormons who merely stood up for their faith.

If the situation had been reversed, if Prop. 8 had failed, these LDS young people would not have rejected their friends who voted to repudiate the meaning of marriage. And if they had, would they not have been condemned as bigots, for being unable to tolerate someone else voting his conscience?

When people whom you thought were friends turn out to be bigots, this is a sad and painful moment indeed: I’ve experienced it myself on a personal level after I came out, discovering that people I thought liked/respected me only did so when they thought I was heterosexual, and on a broader level, with many people across science-fiction fandom who once thought of Card as a decent enough man, I share the disappointment and anger we feel to discover, not only is he a homophobic bigot wannabe terrorist, he doesn’t even recognise bad science when it suits his own prejudices.

But he’s also a whiner. It turns out that the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints doesn’t even have the courage of their own convictions. Their First Presidency, the man they claim has a direct line to God, told them to campaign for and donate to the Yeson8 campaign. They did. It passed.

If the LDS Church had the courage of their convictions, if they truly believed that this action to remove the right to marry from Californian citizens was the right thing to do, why whine and bemoan and complain that they have been “singled out” as a key pressure group in getting it passed? Their complaints that people are pointing at the LDS and blaming them for enshrining this act of bigotry in the Californian constitution, seem to show either some decent shame for this horrible thing – or cowardice, a fear of taking responsibility for their actions. If it’s decent shame, let’s hear a public apology and acknowledgement that they were wrong: without that, I think we have to assume it’s pure cowardice. (Update: other examples of the Yes-on-8 crew lacking the courage of their convictions here and here: further examples welcomed.)

If the situation had been reversed, if Prop. 8 had failed, would the organisations who worked for No on 8 have whined and worried that they were being “singled out”? No. Because people who fight for civil rights have to be braver than that. Bullies are cowards.

These young bullies who rejected their friends, who joined the bigoted campaign their church ran against equal rights in California, who wanted God to have a spaceship and proposition 8 and probably a pony too – they were, Card says, “standing up for their faith”. They preferred loyalty to their church over loyalty to their friends, loyalty to the First Presidency over upholding the principle of freedom of religion and separation of church and state – and they rejected their friends. That their friends reacted to this rejection by these “heroes” with anger and bitterness is evidence, if Card were awake to that, of the importance of friendship in some people’s lives.

Tolerating someone while working to take away their civil rights is not friendship.

November 8, 2008

The awful self-pity of the self-righteous bigot: reprise

About a week before the election, Orson Scott Card posted a lengthy whine about how it was so unfair that his gay friends wanted him to treat them as equals and as friends, and people were being so mean to him just because he was campaigning – as a Mormon in North Carolina – to take away civil rights for a group of people in California. Why couldn’t these people be kind to him? Tolerate his intolerance? (The awful self-pity of the self-righteous bigot.)

I thought this was just Card being a whiner – his other posts against equal marriage and religious freedom have included self-pitying references to how outrageous it is that people actually call him a homophobe for his open support of anti-gay discrimination and legal persecution of LGBT people.

But now it appears that the leadership of the LDS Church has taken to whining about how people reacted to their bigoted campaign against equal marriage in California:

It is disturbing that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is being singled out for speaking up as part of its democratic right in a free election.

What, everyone should just have ignored that infamous letter from First Presidency urging the membership of the Church in California to campaign for Proposition 8? Funny, I hear that bishops who tried to be low-key in their response to that letter were being criticised by church leadership for not making their political campaign strong enough. If you don’t want to be singled out for speaking up, the solution is simple: don’t speak up.

More hypocrisy:

Members of the Church in California and millions of others from every faith, ethnicity and political affiliation who voted for Proposition 8 exercised the most sacrosanct and individual rights in the United States — that of free expression and voting.

Yes. But just voting for Proposition 8 wasn’t what that letter from the First Presidency was all about. Most of the funding to support the “Yes on 8” campaign came from outside California. It’s reported that the majority of it came from LDS members, who had been urged by their church leadership to support Proposition 8. In June, the First Presidency wrote:

We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.

That is a clear call to campaign against religious freedom in California, and against the freedom to marry. Not just to vote against it. Churches which campaign politically lose their tax-exempt status: this was a political campaign conducted by the LDS church. Trying to reduce down to LDS members just voting is a lie.

And again:

While those who disagree with our position on Proposition 8 have the right to make their feelings known, it is wrong to target the Church and its sacred places of worship for being part of the democratic process.

In the New Statesman article (also linked to above), a bishop called Robert Bennion would deliberately take members of his congregation off church property in order to discuss what they might do to support Proposition 8.

“So far I’ve worked very hard to keep this whole thing at arm’s length,” Bennion said. “I see this as purely a political endeavor, which is why I don’t allow any campaigning during church time or on church property. In my mind, it’s possible to be in favor of Proposition 8 without being anti-homosexual.”
While Bennion’s Switzerland impression may seem like on good idea on paper, in reality he’s taken the one position that would make him a target for both sides. His superiors within the church, for example, have repeatedly requested that he get more involved in the issue, but their phone calls are easily ignored and Bennion himself can’t help but smile when the click of a button sends their emails from his inbox to the trash can.

Honour to Bennion for trying to keep a “sacred place of worship” separate from the political campaigning demanded by his church leadership, but it’s clear Bennion was an exception, not the rule, and an exception that came under attack from church leadership. If you base a political campaign in a church, you have no moral grounds for asking political protesters to stay away from your church.

The whine from the LDS finishes with the following piece of stunning hypocrisy:

Once again, we call on those involved in the debate over same-sex marriage to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility towards each other. No one on either side of the question should be vilified, harassed or subject to erroneous information.

This from the church that funded a campaign consisting wholly and entirely of disrespect, incivility, vilification, harrassment, and lies.

Why be such whiners? I suspect it’s a symptom of privilege. (Sadly, I think another example of this is the white/racist reaction blaming the success of Proposition 8 on the “black vote” – see this journal entry for a breakdown of the issues, a numbers breakdown, and of course Pam’s House Blend.) You complain about not being treated with respect when you are absolutely accustomed to being immune from criticism from that source. One Mormon man was complaining in an earlier thread that after he’d posted a long comment calling me an infected, inferior, abusive creature not deserving of equal rights, I wasn’t being as polite to him as he evidently felt he deserved…


Update: from the demo in Salt Lake City which the LDS church took exception to: “Let us all call for greater love, better understanding, dignity and respect toward all — regardless of race, regardless of faith or lack of faith, and regardless of sexual orientation.” In that article from the Mormon Times, by the way, the author Jared Page blandly lies that “the church did not contribute directly to the campaign”.

October 31, 2008

Can someone explain why…

…someone regurgitating this Republican crap about Barack Obama makes a point of claiming to be a Democrat?

I mean seriously. The guy evidently intends to vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin next Tuesday: he supported George W. Bush consistently and loyally: he opposed John Kerry: he seems to have opposed Al Gore: on what basis does he still think of himself as a “Democrat”?

October 27, 2008

The awful self-pity of the self-righteous bigot

On 1st July 2005, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Prime Minister of Spain, told the Cortes Generales:

We are not legislating, honorable members, for people far away and not known by us. We are enlarging the opportunity for happiness to our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends and, our families: at the same time we are making a more decent society, because a decent society is one that does not humiliate its members. In the poem ‘The Family,’ our poet Luis Cernuda was sorry because, ‘How does man live in denial in vain/by giving rules that prohibit and condemn?’ Today, the Spanish society answers to a group of people who, during many years have, been humiliated, whose rights have been ignored, whose dignity has been offended, their identity denied, and their liberty oppressed. Today the Spanish society grants them the respect they deserve, recognizes their rights, restores their dignity, affirms their identity, and restores their liberty.

On Tuesday 4th November 2008, voters in the state of California will be asked to decide if their state shall remove the right to marry from same-sex couples: Proposition 8.
(more…)

May 20, 2008

A human marriage and a card marriage and a loving marriage

George Takei on human marriage:

The California Supreme Court has ruled that all Californians have a fundamental right to marry the person he or she loves. Brad and I have shared our lives together for over 21 years. We’ve worked in partnership; he manages the business side of my career and I do the performing. We’ve traveled the world together from Europe to Asia to Australia. We’ve shared the good times as well as struggled through the bad. He helped me care for my ailing mother who lived with us for the last years of her life. He is my love and I can’t imagine life without him. Now, we can have the dignity, as well as all the responsibilities, of marriage. We embrace it all heartily. (updated from Takei’s blog)

Orson Scott Card on card marriage:

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.

In order to claim that they are deprived, you have to change the meaning of “marriage” to include a relationship that it has never included before this generation, anywhere on earth.

Mildred Loving on loving marriage:

My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry.

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people civil rights.

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