Sunday, January 31, 2010


Until this afternoon, I was the only local person I knew who got Swine Flu. But I ran into a friend from the gym today who was just getting over it himself after two weeks, and he told me about four other guys who'd had it. He had to go ER and one of the other guys was in the hospital. So I was not alone.

I guess I picked up H1N1 at the gym, as Himself had asserted ("that filthy germ-factory"). And although the last two weeks have not been fun, it could have been a lot worse.


Ah, what tangled webz we weave

The Boyo "kindly" shared with me a flyer he got in the mail, from The Network of Spiritual Progressives. They are having conferences to "help Obama become the President we hoped he'd be." Apparently Dear Leader is not lefty enough for them! The bosses are liberal luminaries Rabbi Michael Lerner, Sister Joan Chittester and Professor Cornell West. What more need I say?

We had a laugh reading it all...but in that head-shaking esophagus-constricting way, the kind of half-horrified guilty laugh you had while you watched Borat.

An example of what would await you from The Religous Left:
Our New Bottom Line urges people to judge institutions, corporations, legislation, social practices, health care, our educational and legal systems, and our social policies (as well as our personal behavior) by how much love and compassion, kindness and generosity, and ethical and ecological sensitivity they inculcate within is (sic), and by how much they nurture our capacity to respond to other human beings as embodiments of the sacred who can and do respond to the universe with gratitude, awe, and wonder at the grandeur of all that is.
Great writing, huh? The Boyo's specialty is English. He was not impressed.

The flyer, its conference and its sponsoring groups (including those spiritual harpies at Code Pink) gave me bad thoughts. Not the nice bad thoughts I always have in the presence of Himself, but other kinds of bad thoughts.

I am, it appears, neither spiritual nor progressive.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Beyond compare

During my recent flu, I emailed a buddy of mine and complained of some of the symptoms, both physical and psychological. He has been through a hell of a lot of illness in his life and still has to cope with a variety of conditions that make his life a challenge. So I put a line in the email acknowledging that.

His response was sympathetic, but he included a reproach. No comparing of troubles is to be allowed. Just because he's had more illness, he said, is no reason to make believe I wasn't sick.

True enough. If we all compared our misfortunes to those with greater, how many of us would be allowed to notice, much less, talk about what bothers us?

But there are galactic differences in suffering.

In my cyber-wandering, I stumbled across this story about Billy Lynch, a young Marine in WWII, captured by the Japanese and missing...until now. His body has finally been found in China, and the story of his mistreatment, torture and death at the hands of the Japanese can now be told.

Courage like that. Beyond words. Beyond compare.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Dear Leader

A commentor on Facebook opines on Barry Hussein O's SOTU: (emphasis mine).

OK, this is what frightened me before he got elected. He's so scary good at oration. He could easily be a demogogue. So far he seems to be benign. He was so gentle on the opposition tonite. He's so talented. Guess we have to trust him. He's given no evidence that we shouldn't. He just so scary smart.

PS a day later. The guy who made this comment is white, probably in his 40s-50s, college educated and has a private advertizing business. I guess he epitomizes one of the differences for me between progressive liberals and conservatives or libertarians...I simply cannot imagine someone on the right talking like this about a President. The One. It is the adolescent-female bedazzlement that people like Chris Matthews express, he of the Obama tingle up his leg, who recently forgot for an hour that "post-racial" Obama is black. This kind of reaction to a politician....from grown men. It's not that cons never wax enthusiastic about a leader --Reagan, for example-- but the idea of just having to trust him because he's "so scary smart"....The whole tone...It creeps me out.



A quote from a site for non-whites who won't eat meat or fish, eggs or dairy products. I won't link it.

The bloggers here see veganism as part of a larger anti-oppression movement. We, too, are frustrated & angered when vegans do not have a similarly intersectional approach.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

European depravity, continued

Geert Wilders is on trial for "hate crimes" in Holland because he quotes Muslim jihadis and the Koran.

The UK Telegraph's Douglas Murray puts in plainly:

It is not just about whether our culture will survive,
but whether we are even allowed to state the fact
that it is being threatened.

HT to Five Feet of Fury.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010



After I have a viral infection, like the flu I have had the last while, I usually get depressed. It's been a pattern of mine since my 30's. I have learned to expect it. And it has pretty well arrived on schedule. (I also have a couple of days of dropping things, tripping on stairs, etc. That has not happened so far.)

Moods are the lenses through which we interpret life, the emotional focus we bring to our experience. When the mood is depressive, everything turns grey and the focus leans toward the negative and the fearful, what is least attractive in ourselves and others. It filters memory and the present in a one-sidedly darker tone. Not fun.

It is a trial for The Boyo, who does not believe in bad moods. How I envy him sometimes!

Even if you know, as I do, that it is a chemical reaction to an infection and that it will run its course, you still have the experience, the feelings, the cognitive bias. They are real.

We are not angels, well, at least I am not. Not at all.



No, not the wierd HBO show, but gasser of the Kurds, Chemical Ali was hung in Bagdad today. Another good case for capital punishment.


Monday, January 25, 2010


bef. 900; ME hord(e), OE hord; c. ON hodd, OHG hort, Goth huzd treasure; see hide 1 , hide 2

I have watched a few episodes of A&E's Hoarders, about people with catastrophic forms of obsessive-compulsive disorder*, which leads them to turn their homes into piles of garbage.

What really astonishes me is the enabling behavior of their families. An apparently grown man starts to get teary and edgy when it is suggested that a pile of magazines on the stairs be moved, and everyone backs down. That is the really creepy part of this series. The hoarders are clearly damaged and ill people, pathetic. But their so-called healthy family members, clearly part of the network of illness. Wow.

*Not everyone agrees that hoarding belongs with OCD. Another perspective.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New reading

for John Kerry. Heh.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Right and Left

Of some interest. From One Cosmos:

Russell Kirk summarized the six canons of conservative thought as

1. Belief in a transcendent order; and that most political problems are moral problems resulting from bad values. (To cite an obvious example, if dysfunctional minority groups adopted the values of successful minority groups, such as Asian American values, they would be just as successful.)

2. Appreciation of the ineffable mystery of existence, and with it, opposition to the tedious uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of of most radical systems.

3. An understanding that liberty and equality are contradictory aims; a belief that there are distinctions between men and that classes will emerge naturally and spontaneously in a free society. “If natural distinctions are effaced among men, oligarchs fill the vacuum.”

4. A belief that property and freedom are intimately linked. “Economic leveling... is not economic progress.”

5. Distrust of radical schemes by liberal intellectuals “who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs” that simply mask the intellectual’s lust for power.

6. Recognition that change and reform are not synonymous, and that “prudent change is the means of social preservation.” ( conservatives are all for change, just not indiscriminate destruction of the existing order in exchange for a fanciful utopia.)

In contrast, contemporary left-liberalism has entirely different assumptions and attacks the existing social order on the following grounds:

1. “The perfectibility of man”; the belief that education, environment or legislation “can produce men like gods; they deny that humanity has a natural proclivity towards violence and sin.”

2. Contempt for tradition. “Formal religion is rejected and various ideologies are presented as substitutes.”

3. Political leveling: “Order and privilege are condemned,” accompanied by “an eagerness for centralization and consolidation.”

4. Economic leveling: “The ancient rights of property... are suspect to almost all radicals.”


O bama

I watched the President tonight blame everyone but the Democrats and himself ("This is not about me!") because one of the bluest states in the Union chose a Republican for senator.

I was embarrassed for him.


Star Drek continued

I caught a few minutes of the movie Star Trek: First Contact. This 1996 flic is based on time travel, with the crew going into the past to prevent the conquest of the Earth by the implacable and soulless Borg.

In the scene I viewed, Captain Picard --who was assimilated into the Borg hive and then rescued from them-- mows down a few of them with a machine gun. He does this with understandable feeling. And when the last of them falls, right in front of him, he raises the weapon up with intend to smash the creature with it.

At his side has been Alfre Woodard, playing Lily Sloane. She intervenes to prevent him from crushing the apparently dead Borg.

I'm no fan of Ms. Woodard. She is like a lot of actors, who always seem to play the same character no matter which character they are playing. Robert Redford is another offender here. The list is long. And the typically high-minded pacifistic Star Trek character makes her even less appealing.

Not only does she intervene with Picard, but her attitude is not compassionate, but self-righteously horrified. This is part of what I have come to loathe about Roddenbury's project. Nothing is more natural for a man --or a lot of women, frankly-- than to kill with rage, understandable and well-justified rage, someone or some group which has done what the Borg have done. In the Star Trek world, there is no more malignant or dangerous group then the Borg. In this scene, Sloane/Woodard is entirely focussed on reining in Picard to the measure of her moralism. Yeah, I loathe that stuff.

In one of the TV episodes, I, Borg, Dr. Crusher and Geordi and Guinan all convince Picard not to use a single Borg, who develops a sense of individuality, to reprogram and destroy the whole hive. That would be, horrors, "genocide."

This kind of frankly narcissistic hyper-morality makes me completely nuts and I have come to smell it all over the series.


Canuckistan, eh?

For all my affection for Canada, it's sometimes hard to find words to describe the head-up-the-ass form of self-destructive liberalism that so infects that country.

I wonder if the young man had been caught smoking in a car with a child inside instead of participating in a failed Jihad plot to behead the Prime Ministers, would he have had such a lenient sentence so he could live out his big dreams?


Why I like Mark Steyn, racist xenophobe

Two quotes from his piece on the maddeningly ludicrous attitudes and the serfdom-inspiring procedures of the TSA, which refuses to admit what everyone on the planet knows, lest You Know Who (pbuh) be offended. (The layout changes are mine.)

Question: what do the 9/11 killers, the Shoebomber, the Heathrow plotters, the Pantybomber, the London Tube bombers, the doctors who drove a flaming SUV through the concourse of Glasgow Airport and the would-be killers of Danish cartoonists all have in common? Answer: they’re Muslim.

Sometimes they’re Muslims with box cutters, sometimes they’re Muslims with flaming shoes, sometimes they’re Muslims with liquids and gels, sometimes they’re Muslims with fully loaded underwear. But the Muslim bit is a constant.

What we used to call a fact.
And a striking image of progressive government, wishing all of us have "a safe and pleasant journey" through life:

I wrote a few days after 9/11 that the modern airplane cabin was the most advanced model of the progressive social-democratic state, the sky-high version of trends that, on the ground, progress more slowly. It was a statist’s dream on Sept. 11: no smoking, 100 per cent gun control, and no First Amendment either.

The justification was a familiar one—that in return for surrendering liberty, the state will ensure you are safe. And so on 9/11 three out of the four planes followed all the 1970s security procedures and everybody died. Because in the end the state wasn’t up there with them.
La toute chose entiere 'ci. (That's Canadian for , the whole thing here.)


Solomon 7.4


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bridge funding

In 2008, 34 people were known to have killed themselves by jumping off the stunningly beautiful Golden Gate Bridge. Last year the number was 31. Since its opening in 1937, at least 1300 people have committed suicide from its span, an average of 1 per month.

The bridge is the most popular place in the world to kill yourself. The 245 foot fall takes 4 seconds to complete and you hit the 48 degree wall of water at 76 mph. You have at least
a 98% chance of successfully dying.

Driven largely by a group of local psychotherapists --a suspect demographic-- the bridge governors voted last year to put up a plastic-coated steel net underneath to catch jumpers.

Will the Nannies never rest? Or let anyone else?

It would cost $50 million dollars.

Fortunately, the funding is hard to come by.


Hey, Michelle!

HT to Canadian Amazon Kathy Shaidle.

Haiti is a basket case

not because they lack resources, or they're black, or they were slaves or the French did them wrong, but because they weren't colonized long enough!

Talk about contrarian balls. Heh.

PS. Ever wonder about the origin of "basket case"? It was grim British Army slang from World War I, meaning a quadruple amputee. Ouch.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What gibbs?

Watched WH Press Secretary Gibbs "responding" to questions from the press.

Good Lord. Why does he keep his job?


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Critical Mass.

Obama goes to Massachusetts to stump for the Democrat.
She loses.




I expected little to no good from the Obama administration. I have always been immune to his "charisma" ---and seem to have more company there than I used to--and it was always very clear to me that on policy he would be a left-progressive. Not my kinda guy. Pretty simple.

But I have been surprised by a few things. His ineptitude and rookiness, especially in dealing with international affairs, was unexpected, even though his shameful "post-American" kowtowing to foreign rulers and interests was not. Perhaps I should have been warned by his reference to our 57 states and the Austrian language.

But his narcissistic testiness and inability to brook disapproval of any kind was not something I would have predicted. Even less, however, his bush-league (sic) tactics in response. For example, the White House attitude that Fox News is not a "traditional news organization" and therefore need not be treated as a press organ...that is a head-turner.

George Bush was no prize in a lot of ways. But in the face of being constantly pilloried and savaged by the mainstream press for eight years, Mr. Bush never took it upon himself to exclude the bien-pensants clones of CNN, NBC, MSNBC etc. because of their manifest and overwhelming contempt, animus and bias.

Obama's attitude toward the one media voice not slobberingly devoted to him seems un-presidential, peevish, childish, adolescent, cowardly and utterly without manly dignity.


And what do the ratings say?



I have a buddy, whom I have mentioned here before, an unusual combination of brain and brawn whose hi-testosterone style has proven a fearful challenge for him at times. People too easily assume that a very gruff exterior and some quite edgy interests preclude a rich soul, a ferociously bright brain and a thought-through code of behavior.

His reflection on refusing to accomodate a very problematic request made to him by a clearly unthinking man:

"I have no problem summoning the requisite lack of compassion,
but I will countenance no disrespect."

Nicely put, sir.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The partial Monty

I was watching Suddenly, Last Summer on TV late the other night. God, does Tennessee Williams write about anything other than closeted homosexuality?

As I often do, I surf the net while I watch the tube. I started looking for info on Montgomery Clift, largely because I caught a few minutes of a gushing bio of him with Elizabeth Taylor doing the voiceover.

A lifelong friend and -- as my mother just affirmed-- a lover of his owned the house next to my parents' country place. Billy LeMessena, whom I knew when he was an old man, was an actor in New York. When he died, my sister bought his place, and when she died, my parents moved into it.

Turns out that I have two degrees of separation from the late Mr. Clift!

And that means I have three degrees from everyone he ever knew. Strange world.


Friday, January 15, 2010

I am not kind

At least not in thought. In action I am fairly civilized, ranging from subdued to genial, with only very rare outbursts of mild barbarism.

But in thought, now that's another matter. There the shadow thrives.

As the charming Mr. Menkin put it, "Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag* and begin slitting throats."

This week I have found myself musing on individuals and groups, and groups of individuals, who would better serve the planet (sic) by being placed in large burlap bags and dropped into the Bay as the tide was going out.

I find that this is, as they say in linguistics, an agglutinative process. When I finish with one set of deserving victims, it brings to mind another. Is this Freudian free association or Jungian amplification? In any case, the list grows fast.

I will not name names. At least not this morning. But I am thinking unkind thoughts.

*It is odd, at first, that the macabre skull and crossbones image of the pirate flag is called "Jolly Roger". But once you and your shadow imagine how much fun all the throat-slitting could be, well, it does seem pretty jolly.


Insulting progressive racialists

This list of charming comments from our friends on the Left.


Insulting Berekeley

The latest madness from Bezerkley, where multiculturalism --which is nothing more than reverse racism-- continues to degrade. Berkeley High is the current madhouse.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Insulting Africa

While I'm at it, I may as well show more insensitivity by linking to an article by one James Jackson, who opines that Africa is hell, beyond help, and ought to be left to itself.

I have a friend who heads a religious order with houses in Africa, including in Rwanda, land of the Hutu-Tutsi genocide. He was being driven in from the aiport there by a taxi man who at one time had been a member of this Catholic order. When my friend, a white American, expressed sadness and horror about the slaughter of the Tutsi, the driver, a Hutu, replied without embarassment, "They deserved it."

I knew a Nigerian priest, studying in the West, who was a great fave of the social justice crowd. I remember that when the story of the bombing of the US Marine barracks in Lebanon came on the news, he jumped up and clapped. And when I asked him to explain why Nigeria summarily expelled over a million Ghanaians in the mid 80s, he answered, "They're all thieves."

In my more Guns, Germs and Steel moments, I think of Africa as Europe in the 10th century.


Insulting Islam

A Muslim in Denmark tried to kill Kurt Westergaard, who published the Mohammed cartoons, by breaking into his home with an ax.

Any word on this from the American President, whose duty it is, according to him, to prevent anti-Muslim prejudice?

With thanks to ShrinkWrapped, let me join in and put some of them up here.

There is no right not to be offended. If there is no right to offend, there is no free speech.

*The Arabic text up top reads "American Kafir", one of which I proudly am. Allah is not God and Mohammed was not His prophet.


Amen, Brutha!

The latest installment in the Race Game is Harry Reid's. When I heard what he actually said, I thought, well, for once, he is telling the truth. How can the truth be racist?

And I heard George Will say as much on TV, that for once Harry had said something everyone can agree with. The other commentators at the table were aghast. "His statements are racist, without question!", cried one female chatterer.

Why? Harry has much to apologize for, much to answer for, but these remarks are not one of those things.

He opined on the qualities that would make Barry Hussein O a good candidate, an electable candidate. Light skinned. Able to code-switch between standard English and Black English.

He did use the once-obligatory but now unfashionable word "Negro". But so does the United Negro College Fund.

Is this not true? So what's the beef?

Ward Connerly agrees.
As does linguist John McWhorter.

Both black, negro, African-American, whatever.

I continue to hold that the word "racism" is essentially meaningless now except as a weapon against Whites, as "heresy" was against your enemies in the Middle Ages, or better, "witchcraft".

And the ritual of apology, etc. Demeaning and shameful. Even for Harry Reid.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Will, grace, damnation

No, this post is not about theology. It's about television. Will & Grace. The final episode is on the set now.

I was a fan of the show during most of its run (98-06), despite my then-partner's dislike of it. I have come to agree with him, though I still sometimes watch it at night. There are some funny moments. Jack's line to Beverley Leslie is great: "Don't you have somewhere you have to be? A magic ring to guard?" And the four Fagmalion shows with Dan Futterman were worth watching because, well, they had Dan Futterman in them.

What finally pissed me off was the difference between Grace's husband Leo, played by Harry Connick, Jr and Will's partner Vince, played by Bobby Cannavale. Leo, the Jewish doctor, for his flaws, was an attractive guy. Not just good looking, but substantial. Vince, the Italian ex-cop, nice looking, was a neurotic and pathetic fuck-up.

Thanks a lot, Kohan and Mutchnik.


The trouble with stereotypes

is that they're true.

Otherwise they wouldn't provoke offense.


The peaceful Muslim majority

is irrelevant.

My brother-in-law, a splendid fellow, sent an email containing the text of this article, for which I provide the original. (All those graduate degrees are not going to waste!)

Blogger Paul E Marek makes the very salient point that seemingly peaceful or disinterested or silent or distracted majorities are led. And it's therefore the leadership that is important. This seems especially true to me about Muslims, who are collectivists without a tradition of individualism.

The picture on his site shows a girl with a sign proclaiming that it is not ok to "bash" Muslims. He rightly responds that she misses the point. I would go further and say that suspicion of Muslims is rational and ethical and that it is the job of Muslims not to whine and play the victim, but to prove, show, demonstrate and assure the rest of us that they can be trusted as members of our Western national communities.

It's not very significant to say that most Muslims are not jihadis. What is significant is that the vast majority of terrorists in the world are Muslims. And the leadership of Muslim communities...?

PS. ShrinkWrapped makes a similar point, suggesting a likeness between Good Muslims and Good Germans.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Unruly man" named....

From the SFGate version of the Chronicle.

A San Francisco-bound AirTran Airways plane was diverted with a military F-16 escort to Colorado on Friday after a belligerent passenger locked himself in the plane's bathroom, officials said.

It was the second commercial flight to receive a military escort this week and the third plane diverted because of a passenger disruption.

The three incidents coincided with heightened airline security following a Nigerian man's alleged attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas Day.

AirTran Flight 39 left Atlanta at 10:36 a.m. EST with 132 passengers and five crew members. It was scheduled to land at San Francisco International Airport at 2:20 p.m. local time.

En route, the male passenger refused to follow crew instructions to return to his seat and locked himself in the rear lavatory, according to AirTran officials. They said he apparently was drunk. The FBI identified the passenger as Muhammad Abu Tahir, 46, of Virginia, according to the Associated Press.

The AirTran pilot diverted the plane to Colorado Springs. Two F-16s were launched by the North American Aerospace Defense Command Region to intercept and escort the plane.

Local law enforcement and FBI officials met the AirTran plane at Colorado Springs Municipal Airport just before noon MST and detained Tahir. Security officers then used dogs to search the plane.

Tahir was being held at the El Paso County jail, the FBI said. Federal charges for interference with a flight crew were expected to be filed Monday, the Associated Press reported.

After a three-hour delay, the AirTran plane left Colorado; it landed at SFO just after 5 p.m.

Also Friday, a Hawaiian Airlines plane bound from Las Vegas to Hawaii was diverted to Los Angeles after a man allegedly harassed another passenger. And on Wednesday, NORAD dispatched two F-15s to escort a Hawaii-bound jet back to Portland, Ore., because of a disruptive passenger.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

What's in a name?

From the records of the Social Security Administration, the popularity of names for US born babies, by year. Only Michael survives in the top 5. (It's probably my favorite boy's name, too).
Boys' names seem more conservative. David and James survived 30 years. In 2008, top five are all Biblical names. Interesting. Sounds like a group of Massachusetts Puritans!

For girls, no crossovers, more change. Look at #4 in 2008. Madison?


































I was just provoked on Facebook by an entry about names. The trends noted here just sound to me like an increase in attempts at elegance or pretentiousness. Totally subjective reading.

Two American groups seem to have had some issues about names. The white middle class hippie trend of naming kids things like Autumn, River, Apple, Moon Unit or other such silliness seems to have played itself out for the most part. But the black fashion of creating names that sound faux French, or faux African or Arabic still apparently continues. Both of these behaviors strike me as embarassing pretenses which wind up giving human children labels better suited to a new line of automobiles or a rock group. Read 'em and weep.

And if you want a good laugh:


What's to say?

At a memorial barbeque (sic!) for a man killed by gunfire, another man is killed by gunfire.


Friday, January 08, 2010

Understanding homophobia

Even though I swore off using all the "phobia" words, homophobia is just shorthand for disliking gays. So this post is a thought about why many people dislike gays.

I am watching a documentary about various people coming out to their families. In Jamaica. And in rural Oklahoma. I am remembering my own coming out speeches. Pretty dramatic. Long ago.

For a long time, understandably, I could not disengage the question of why people dislike gays from why someone would dislike me for being gay. I have more distance now.

Anyway, here's my short answer: the differentiation between males and females, between men and women is one of the most foundational and crucial structures in human society, and in the human psyche. If you seriously challenge that, people are going to react badly.

It would be tough enough if the difference were simply on the level of erotic object choice, if gay men and lesbian women were pretty much like most men and women but for the objects of their desire. But I have come to realize that the way "gay" has turned out, it is very much about deviating from standard maleness and femaleness. It is as much about effeminacy as it is about same-gender sex. So, confusing the genders is very much what makes people upset.

The celebrated "tolerance" of some North American Indian tribes, with their institution of the "berdache" is not an exception to the rule, but its confirmation. People in those cultures who crossed the gender boundary were institutionalized quite specifically so that the opposite gender boundaries --very localized in specific tasks-- were maintained.

Am I saying that if gay men and women were conventional men and women with the exception of what we do in bed that there would be no bad reaction? No. Not at all. But the prominence of drag and queeniness in gay culture certainly does not help.

And if I am right, that male-female opposition is a fundamental human structure (our recent and revolutionary feminist experiment being rare), then homophobia, though unpleasant, is understandable.

My thought for the day.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Since we are both (at best) irregular Catholics, The Boyo and I share a common language. Which he, especially, sometimes uses for creative blasphemy, in Italian, bestemmia. Being Calabrese, that's practically a given. Mediterranean Catholicism has a gift for sacrilegious talk that Northern Catholics can’t even imagine. It has made for a lot of laughter between us, as well as the single most creative, appreciative and blasphemous compliment I have ever received (and which I will not print here).

There were two reasons why, after a lifetime of intense engagement, I gave up the practice of the Faith (although never really my connection to it; that's practically in my DNA). The first was my acceptance of the incompatibility between an unrepentantly homosexual life and an integral Catholic life. That was excruciating, but I saw no other way.

The second was the problem of Job. During the awful years of the AIDS epidemic, 1983-1996, I was very involved. I acted as a volunteer "buddy" to a young man with AIDS, giving him someone safe to talk with, to go with to the doctor and, eventually, to the funeral home to pick out his coffin. In those days, folks with AIDS did not live long and I only knew him for six or eight months, but they were intense days. And when he died, I found myself strapped with an overwhelming sense of injustice. It seemed to suck the faith out of me. How could a God who was in any sense good and powerful allow that kind of misery and suffering? Not original, but it hit me hard. It became personal.

That did not make me an atheist. I have corners of my soul where it feels as if there is no God, but I cannot maintain that kind of dogmatic certainty for long. I find atheism, especially militant atheism, both adolescent and boring. And I see no evidence that an atheistic society –one that denies that it lives within a larger sacred order-- can survive, much less pass itself on to another generation. I am a congenitally religious man, even if not pious or observant. I wrestled with God for years, still do.

One of the helps I encountered was in the ancient and fuzzy heresy of Gnosticism. Gnosticism is an underground stream in the Western tradition and takes many different forms. It is a religious response to the enduring problem of monotheism: the existence of evil and suffering in a world created by a good, all-powerful and all-knowing God.

Gnosticism speaks in myth, in image, ritual and symbol. It is drawn to the play of opposites. And it seeks salvation from the exile, bondage and illusion of a fallen world not through faith or works, but through a kind of consciousness called gnosis, the Greek word for knowledge.

Gnosticism holds to a kind of splitting in the Divine: there is a primordial Godhead outside this world (and deep inside of us) and another lesser godhead which created the world of matter, time and death that we know. In our deepest selves, we are a spark of the original Divine, although we find ourselves by the fall of creation trapped inside the system of pain and injustice that constitutes so much of this world. It did not solve my dilemma, but it alleviated the pain. It did not require either faith or good works, but instead a kind of awakening, an awareness, a revealed intuitive knowing.

From the 2nd century Valentinian Gnostic, Theodotus:

What sets us free

is the Knowing


who we were and who we have become,

where we were and where we have been thrown,

where we are fast heading,

wherefrom we are rescued,

what is birth,

and what is rebirth.

Two images of Gnosticism: one in words, and seriously beautiful; another, unintentional, in moving images and pretty well beyond fabulous.

Nowadays I live with what is at least a paradox, that there is a deep transcendent serenity in God and that He is also as savage and wild as the cosmos He has created.


Monday, January 04, 2010

Bad old America....oops

It seems that Americans enjoy more religious freedom than any other people in the world.

Factoring in both societal attitudes and governmental policy and action, the Pew Forum found that religious freedom is pretty rare on the planet.


A little slow on the uptake

I watched a gay-themed flick recently, Almost Normal (2005). It's been described as Peggy Sue Got Married meets Back to the Future. The lead, Brad, is a dissatisfied middle-aged gay man, cozily tenured but single and bored, who crashes his car and finds himself back in high school in an inverted world where heterosexuality is deviant and homosexuality is the norm. Guys bond with guys, girls with girls. And they also make opposite sex friendships for the sake of procreation, so that each child has four parents. The film also has a happy ending, which I was in the mood for.

The gay-straight inversion trope is not original, but there was something really likeable about Brad. So many characters in gay flicks are queens, narcissists, victims --or all three-- but Brad was none of these. An "almost normal" gay guy. As he says, "Just because I don't fix cars doesn't mean I have to dress up like Judy Garland."

He was not a stunner, at least at first glance, but definitely attractive in an under the radar kind of way. And my attraction to him grew throughout the film. By the time he kissed his high-school wet-dream, the captain of the basketball team, I was really really getting into it. Gave me goose-bumps.

I thought, What's with this? And then it dawned on me, over an hour into the film.

Brad is The Boyo.

The physical resemblance suddenly jumped out and the character is a tenured teacher, slightly balding and in need of a haircut, with glasses and some facial hair, a non-sharp dresser who looks great in a pair of jeans, an easy laugh....Yikes. Though younger, there he was!

J. Andrew Keitch as adult Brad

Brad in high school

Funny. There he was, right in front of me. Duh. Nice movie.


Same ole same ole

It is funny that my self-involved post garnered two positive comments from Anonymouses. Be they serious or ironic, I don't know. Because I find myself way less interesting and interested in blogging. Reason? I think I have pretty well said what I have to say and am repeating myself.

Now repetition is not new for me. My Guy refers to my "magical anecdotes that always get better on second or third telling." And who is a constant source of novel insight? Unless you have multiple personality disorder, some consistency of character will naturally lead to repetition. Without it, there's effervescent chaos.

The political world is so depressing that my posts about it have been brief and I have put more of my personal life into the blog, as well as talking about sex more. These have not struck me as leaps in creativity but rather as distractions, ways to avoid nothing but ranting.

But I think that my response to most things is, at this point, predictable. The eternal return of the same, as Nietzsche would say.

I am under no illusion that this blog has tons of readers, so whether or not I post and what I say is pretty much an exercise in self-soothing (and a mercy to my friends, who do not have to listen to me in person.)

I shall probably sputter on. After all, even if it does little good, what harm can it do?


Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Queen's New Year's Message

My ex and I have been having dinner together on Friday nights almost since we split up eight plus years ago. This past Friday was New Year's Day. As we strolled along Market Street in the Castro, after an uncharacteristically limp meal of fish and chips at The Cove, a car sailed by and an ebullient young man stuck his head out the window and waved to everyone on the street, gaily yelling, "Happy New Year, bitches!"

Needless to say, we did not wave back.


Friday, January 01, 2010

Starting 2010

Two things come to mind that I am self-involvedly happy about, as The Aughts come to an end.

First, of course, The Boyo, My Guy, The Man. I know that I sound like an inexperienced teenager about him sometimes, but I am neither new to romance nor anything close to being chronologically adolescent. But being in love has a way of equalizing us all. He is not perfect, my guy. We have a few issues; who doesn't? But he is definitely terrific. Makes me very happy. Very. Here he is, being happy. He's good at it.

Second, at a time of year when a lot of people are bemoaning the weight they gained during the holidays, only adding to their already problematic weight or fitness status, I am doing very well in that department. My health is good and I am in good shape. No need to "go back to the gym." I never left.

My BMI number, that ham-fisted measure docs use to decide who's obese and who's not, makes me overweight. I clearly am not.

Both my ex and one of my sisters have expressed concern that I am too thin! Six foot one, around 195-200 lbs, 33-34 waist, maybe 15% bodyfat. The result of going to the gym 5-6 days a week for 7 years!* Feels good to look good. Shallow, but true.

So with love and health, I am good. I am very grateful.

There's a gay folk-wisdom saying that you can never have a great lover, a great job AND a great house all at the same time. Two out of three only are allowed.

Well, I think My Guy has all three: a tenured and unionized job he likes, a really nicely done home, and me. But I have only two. He's great, my house is fine for now, and although I love my work, the recession has been very tough on my income. So it's good for innate interest and satisfaction, but not for the bank account. Will that improve in 2010? And if it does, will Mr. Wonderful turn sour? Will my roof leak?

But since the Mayan Calendar tells us that the world will end on 21 December 2012, it's not all that important....


*Before 2002 I was off-again on-again in the gym and weight department. Basically an aging ectomorph with an appetite for carbs. That year I lost over 45 lbs and finally succeeded in making regular exercise and reasonable eating a part of my ordinary life. I've had a few setbacks along the way, but just put one foot in front of the other and got results. Part of the reason I am so narcissistically pleased is that this is a later-life achievement and I know that it has a built-in shelf-life. Wish I had done it a long time ago, but enjoying the hell out of it now.
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