Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2010

continues to suck.

I got Swine Flu, lost my car, lost the man of my heart, and now I am losing my local grocery store.

First as Cala and then as DeLano's, there has been a grocery store within three blocks of my house for the last twenty years. Open 24 hours. Carries the elixir of life, Canada Dry Diet Ginger Ale. I can stop in on foot and get what I need after work, or after the gym, or whenever.

Now it will be closing in a week or two. No one is saying anything about another grocery business taking it over. Which leaves the closest supermarket about a mile away. And me carless.

All I need now is for my local gym to close*. Damn Obama!

PS. And six months later, that's exactly what happened. Life, since 2010, has basically sucked.

Hooda thunkit?


Who do you think this handsome guy is? Another one of my B-movie actor crushes? Pretty fine lookin' fella, no? Men and women would both line up for a bit of his time, right? Well, here's the scoop.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Car wreck, continued

Caught a few moments of the finale of A-List New York, the gay answer to Real Housewives.

The show is full of girls and boys, all male. But no men.  One male character says of another, "At the beginning of the summer I couldn't stand that bitch and now she's my best girlfriend."

There ya go.

Rightness

The folks at altright are a serious bunch, conservative traditionalists. Paul Gottfried made comments about the members' attempts to construct a conservative reading list and in the process enunciated some basic conservative attitudes: natural inequality of persons at both the individual and collective levels, the inevitability and legitimacy of otherness, the superiority of organic forms of human organization over social engineering, rejection of vulgar economism, and a tragic view of life. 

Pretty clear opposition to liberal progressivism, which loves universal equality, pacifist inclusiveness, rational government-mandated social organization, the primacy of redistributive economics, and a utopian vision of life.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Old flame

My favorite B movie actor is Jason Beghe. Totally sexy. Have had a thing for him for years. Have not seen him in a while and suddenly I find him on the loathesomely nihilistic Californication...bearded and naked. Jason is 50.


Men in their 50's....most excellent.

PS. I was inspired to look for videos of Jason in a short-lived series from 1998, To Have And To Hold. He was the male lead. Grrrr. He and his female lead had chemistry but I hated her. Not out of jealousy! I suppose straight men find this kind of stuff appealing...I do not get it at all...but she was a driven professional woman who also acted out all the self-indulgent, whiny, galactically irrational and dishonest games that women can play with men and he did not shoot her. But it was worth it to watch him. A real pleasure to hear (great voice), to see him move, etc. Yeah, I had quite thing for him. And that's all my sins, Father.

 20 years ago

But we all worship the same God


It used to be said the Christians and Jews worship the same God. Now we have the Muslims added into the soup, with the Islam-favoring category of the "Abrahamic" religions.

Do Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God, only in different ways?

Jews worship a monotheist God with a unique relationship to Israel.  Christians worship a monotheist God who is also a threesome of Father, Son and Spirit and the Son became human in Jesus.  Muslims worship a monotheist God who is most definitely not any kind of threesome and whose revelation culminates not in Moses or Jesus but in Muhammad.

The younger religion has a stake in making a case for "the same God" because it legitimates its claim against its ancestor. It can claim what it likes in the ancestor religion and still maintain its supercessional supremacy. But the ancestor religion is far less likely to recognize its God in the version maintained by the new kid on the block. Would a Jew recognize as "his" God the Trinitarian Christian God? And would a Christian recognize as "his" God, the anti-incarnational Unitarian Muslim God?

Bahai is a post-Islamic religion which tries to do to Muhammad what Muhammad tried with his predecessors, include him in a larger vision in which he loses the place he asserted for himself and is relegated to an ancillary role, preparatory to Bahaullah. Would Muslims agreed that they and Bahai's worship "the same God"?

So I am inclined to say that "we" monotheists of the Adamic religions do not worship the same God.

"We" compete with and against each other for ownership of the God who created Adam and Eve. It's sort of like the Palestinians and the Israelis saying, "We both love the same land".

*The photo shows demonstrators in Pakistan supporting the death sentence given to a Christian laborer accused by her Muslim co-workers of blashpheming Muhammad.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey post-prandiem



It worked. Spatchcocked bird was easy to cook -- 12 pounder took less than 90 minutes, 425 for an hour, and then 325 for the last 20 minutes -- and the skin was crisp and the meat was uniformly juicy. No undercooked areas. Easy to carve. My guests --including Molly the Wolfdog--enjoyed it. Very nice. Plus I got to say "spatchcock" a lot.

Started out with cashews, brie, hummus, and shrimps sauteed in roasted sesame oil and cumin. Red and white vinatages. Dinner was turkey, fresh cranberry sauce with oranges, green beans sauteed with almonds, sweet corn with bacon, cornbread stuffing, rice, gravy. Dessert was untraditional: brownies with vanilla ice cream, a Risling sparkling wine. Coffee. Not bad. And very convivial.
And a half hour after the guys had left, we went from this...


to this:


That portable dishwasher was one of the best buys I ever made. Got it second hand for only $50 from a couple fleeing the area after the DotCom meltdown.

Enjoyed the cooking process, chatted with family and friends by phone...a nice day.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Evil definitions


In a conversation today I was accused of defining something exclusively. (You can't believe it. I know.) I tried to point out to the person that definitions are....by definition...exclusive. This means this and this and by necessary implication not that and that. You can enlarge or diminish the range of a definition but in the end you have to draw a line. To define is always to exclude. Otherwise we wind up with Hegel's "night in which all cows are black."

Well, then, said outraged interlocutor, we shouldn't have any definitions at all.

Man, said Aristotle, is a rational animal. Boy, what an optimist!

Thanksgiving 2010

Very similar to Thanksgiving 2008.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bless me, Father

for I have...spatchcocked a turkey. But it was the first time.

The joys of the internet. I'm having some friends over for Thanksgiving tomorrow and was checking out turkey recipes and I discovered...spatchcocking. And today, I did it.



Actually, spatchcocking a form of butterflying. You remove the backbone --no easy task-- and break the breastbone so you flatten the bird out. (Is this how liberals are made?) Spatchcock enthusiasts like the shortened cooking time and juicy results. We'll see tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Junk

The now famous rallying cry against the TSA: "Don't touch my junk." As a 21st century version of "Don't Tread On Me" I'm certainly in favor of it. The ludicrous notion that every traveller on a plane is an equal risk to be a Muslim jihadi suicide bomber is...ludicrous.

But I find it unfortunate that the man refers to God's gift to him as "junk". I'm well familiar with that phrase --which poor Charles Krauthammer apparently thought the man invented on the spot; one of the rare times Charles gets things wrong-- and lots of other that describe the male genitalia. "Junk" is just not one I'd ever be inclined to use.

I recall, imperfectly I am sure, from reading Freud in college that he believed human genitalia could easily be described as arousing or exciting, but never as beautiful. He was wrong about a lot of things, that included. Now I lack the necessary orientation to appreciate the beauty of vulvas, etc. But I have met a few cock-and-ball combos in my time and sometimes one of the words I have for them is beautiful. But then, I do admit to a certain hyperappreciation of the male body. See here and here and here, and, well, here. The list is long; I am on board with Walt W on this.

One of many male-female differences is that men have endless inventive and friendly nicknames for their "stuff", while women generally prefer geographic euphemisms likes "down there". And at least according to one feminist woman I talked to about this, most of the colorful names for women's sex organs were given them by men.

It's an interesting comment on our sexuality that, in North American English at least, if you want to talk about your sex organs, you usually have to choose formal and clinical language that is always Greek or Roman in derivation --penis and testicles and scrotum, vagina and clitoris and vulva-- or AngloSaxon derived words that are not for polite company: dick, cock, prick. So we either have to talk medical or talk dirty.

The other oddity is that while we use our body parts --almost all with AngloSaxon-derived common names--very freely as metaphors for the rest of life and the universe, our sex organs are themselves "metaphored" by non-human objects. Examples: the head of the class, the mouth of a river, the long arm of the law, the foot of the cross, etc. But never do we use penis or vagina like this, as neutral descriptors of the world. Only as a direct insult: he's a prick, she's a cunt.

I am not one of those who wants to go campaigning for a positive language and attitude toward sex organs. Waste of time. Human attitudes to sex always have been and always will be deeply ambiguous.
With good reason. God knows that, on the surface, your "junk" can not only make you very happy but also get you into big trouble. But that's like blaming guns for violence. (To say nothing of the fact that any human endowment or activity whatever can likewise bring pleasure and catastrophe.) The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our junk, but in ourselves.

Monday, November 22, 2010

UnCivil Religion?

I saw this tag on the Fox News link I have on my homepage.



My original thought was, "Some? Only some?!"

Then I read the article and found that we are just dealing with offended multicultural sensibilities.
Z-z-z-z-z

Newsweek has been having a nervous breakdown the last couple of years. Now that Tina Brown is editor, I am sure she can right the sinking ship...

Reviews in brief

Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. I really liked the original one, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. A punchy, moving and imaginative retelling of the Christian drama in an alternate world. But this sequel is a yawn. Mostly because the bad guys all seem like cartoon conquistadors and the Prince is a wimp.  But Queen Susan is an excellent archer and Aslan/Liam Neeson roars nice.

Boy Culture. A gay movie where I didn't hate everybody!  Romantic, even. Derek Magyar is easy on the eyes and likeable. Darryl Stephens, who played handsome but way too fey Noah on the eponymous Noah's Arc series, actually plays a gay man here, not a breathless queen. And even the breathless queen in the film is too young to hate. Surprised to see Patrick Bauchau. Good moment when Stephens come home to tell his family he's gay and they already know. Asks his mom how long she knew. "Since you were 8."

Reminds me of when I anxiously came out to my sister many years ago. Her response was, "What a relief.  I've known for a long time but I was afraid you'd never figure it out." Talk about deflating a dramatic moment. LOL.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1. Gonna see it tomorrow. But a spoiler element is that Ron dreams that Harry and Hermione have sex. Sounds incestuously creepy. We'll see.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Religious transplant

Read an overlong but interesting story by two American Evangelical missionaries to Guatemala who wound up converting to Catholicism. They kept looking for an acculturated form of Guatemalan Protestantism but said that all they could see was a very particular USA kind of religion colonizing the locals.

They described it "like watching The Dukes of Hazzard dubbed in Spanish." LOL!

IMHO, the Latinos are returning the favor, keeping the US Catholic Church alive by massive illegal immigration. Do you think that could have anything to do with the US Bishops' shameless aiding and abetting?

Being the longtime non-practicing Catholic that I am, I realize that traditional Catholic dogma would not cause me much problem --Trinity, Incarnation, Transubstantiation--, but Catholic morality would make me nuts. Not just the gay thing (which I understand but can't live with), but the whole Ten Minutes Old social justice socialism: anti death penalty, pacifism, preferential option for the poor statism, etc. To me, the very definition of "pontificating".

Scatterings

Meteorological metaphor. My moods of late are not unlike this weekend's weather. Heavy rain, periods of sun, partly cloudy, etc. As Freud noted, when love and work are in good shape, happiness is not impossible. When they are not, watch out. It rained so hard in the middle of the night that it woke me up. I couldn't tell if it was rain or hail on the windows and I was wondering if they would break.

Dreamt, unfortunately, about the queens in the A-List series. All I need is about thirty seconds of them when I am changing channels and I can feel my blood pressure rising. Put them all in a bag and drown them.

Yesterday, as part of having three dogs visit my kitchen, my coffee carafe fell of the counter and smashed. Down to SOMA on Monday to get a replacements. Been noticing how many small things break or wear out and must be replaced: lightbulbs, shoes, gym clothes. The law of entropy.

The North Koreans have "stunned" the world by revealing a huge nuclear power project. Quel surprise. I wonder what it must be like to have to "negotiate" with people like them, knowing --I hope-- that all they are interested in is winning. I wonder if negotiators actually get themselves to believe that the North Koreans can be negotiated with, just so their own task is not rendered ridiculous in their own minds. I know how easy it is, from working with crazy criminals, to forget what they are really up to and to be taken in when you are face to face with someone.

Nancy Lugosi has made fun of John Boehner because he cries. She doesn't. (I will refrain from wondering if her eye-opening plastic surgery just destroyed her tear ducts, or what). The dark side of feminism: I can make fun of a man for engaging in typically female behavior while I position myself as the real man. But can you imagine the outcry if a male politician made fun of a woman for crying? Sexism. Rank sexism.

A soon-to-be-a-father Jewish lawyer asked Judge Kimba Wood for a day off when his wife gave birth, if it was a boy, so that he could attend the bris. If it was a girl, no bris, no day off asked for. Her Excellency gave the day off for a possible boy but said that if a girls was born, she would fill in the gender gap in Judaism by having a celebration in court, with poetry and readings about how cool it is to be female. Not her damn fucking job. The taxpayers get to fund her feminism? And Miss Girl Power has her own history, including taking another woman's husband; sisterhood is so powerful. And if the lawyer were a Muslim, would she have the metaphorical balls to supplement Islamic sexism? Not her damn fucking job.

A friend triumphantly pointed out the other day that the Bible discusses homosexuality very infrequently, but talks about adultery all the time, so what's the big deal with the churches and gay people? And Jesus never talked about it at all. Sigh. Jesus also never spoke against slavery, abortion, or colonialism. I am a great admirer of unschooled but curious people read, etc. But sometimes a little sophistication helps. (And while I'm at it, let me say that I have heard this kind of stuff from "schooled" people as well.) And I will not go on about sola scriptura.

Societies or groups tend to create rules and restrictions against things that are actual problems for them. Nothing that we know about Hebrew or Jewish society leads us to believe that there was a lot of homosexuality going on. If it was not frequently addressed, the most likely reason is that it was not frequently done. But when it is addressed, it is not addressed in a friendly fashion, shall we say. The most unfriendly treatment is Paul to the Romans, --Greco-Roman culture there--and it's pretty unfriendly. Homosexuality become Exhibit A in what depravity people fall into because of their ungraced idolatry.

So it is not like the lack of real moral outrage among Catholics over gambling or smoking or dancing or bad language, where these activities simply do not register as biggies on the Catholic conscience. In the Old Days, homosexuality was hardly ever spoken of in Catholicism; that does not mean the Church thought it was cool. I recall the only time it was mentioned in the Catechism, and it was so awful that it was mentioned metaphorically. Under the discussion of the kinds of sin, after going through the Seven Capital Sins, there was a question about "sins that cry to heaven for vengeance": wilful murder, the sin of the people of Sodom, oppression of orphans and widows, and defrauding the laborer of his just wages.

So frequency of condemnation usually correlates to frequency of occurrence as well as perceived importance. So if you want to find out what bad behavior is going on in a culture, check out their laws.

Two funny and recondite examples: in the Rule of St Benedict, the venerable text founding Western monasticism, you see that life in a 6th century Italian monastery was a bit more like Dodge City than you'd imagine. Along with lesser sanctions, abbots could take away food or order up a good flogging. And in the 13th century details in the Dominican ritual books, friars are admonished when taking Communion not to make odd noises, or strange faces or flail around. And when they have received, to make sure the holy bread is all gone before they engage in spitting. And there are histories of monastic prisons...

On other things Catholic: a lot of Boomer Catholics are in a huge apocalyptic tizzy over the upcoming re-translation of the Mass which will be put in place a year from now. It replaces the 1970s one with a version much closer to the literal Latin, with its sacred language and formality. I mostly hated the 1970s translations. In a word: banal. The change promotes the resacralization of the liturgy, doesn't mince words about sin and divine grace and leaves behind the egalitarian and feminist concerns of the immediate post-Council translators. I'll probably go to church next year to see what it sounds like.

Thanksgiving is coming up this week and for the first time in many years I am not going back to the family gene pool for it. Nothing wrong with the family. I just hate the plane trip, and in my post-B haze would rather not be around five siblings in happy marriages. I'll get together with friends here and that will be low key and enough.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Interest and perception

Sexy title, eh? Doesn't it make ya wanna just jump right in and read on?

Anyone who pays attention to how their mind works can see that our interests have a lot to do with what we notice. I first saw this at work when I was in high school and I wanted to buy a typewriter. Suddenly the papers were full of ads, there were more stores that sold them, etc. Prior to my desire, I hadn't realized there was so much typewriterness is the world.

So it's no surprise that the world is full of unsuccessful love matches. On TV, in movies, in my practice, among my friends, in popular songs, etc. An unsuccessful attempt to bond with someone you're in love with, well, it's hardly new or rare. Seems more like a staple of life.

I am certainly feeling better about my unsuccessful attempt than I was in August or September. Some days now I have what I would call an awareness of unhappiness rather than a direct feeling of misery. Some moments, even days, remain a bit hard. And occasionally, very occasionally, I almost feel good.

How I handle it all is largely based on selfishness and experiment. What makes me feel better without, hopefully, retarding the process too much. And sometimes I follow accepted wisdom on how to handle it and sometimes I don't.

In the language of grief, less denial, less anger, a different kind of depression...not acute. Bargaining....can't really say about that. Acceptance...some. It's still somewhat unbelievable to think of the man I believe I could have loved for the rest of my life and know that it will not turn out that way. Not rare, not original, but still hard to take in. Not impossible now, but still hard.

PS...And then of course I come upon the incredibly romantic last minutes of Open Range, where Kevin Costner and Annette Bening finally connect. Simple, direct, human, moving. I'm gonna have to do penance in the Church of Fallen Manliness, but those scenes always make me choke up. Really sweet. Grownup love.

WTF dawg?

Don't ask me how, but I wound up at The Urban Dictionary and found this entry for the Latin phrase Athanasius contra mundum. Some wag has a rare sense of humor; read the example sentence. Something you hear from the homies in the 'hood all the time, dawg.

The wasps are gone

Sept 29

Nov 20

A chilly and rainy couple of November days. The nest finally seemed abandoned, so I took down the lantern and removed the impressive little mass of more than a hundred empty hexagonally shaped paper chambers...only to discover that there were about a half dozen critters hiding up behind it, against the cold, I guess. They wandered slowly off on foot...on paw? on what do you call a wasp's podiatric thingy? According to my research, only the queen will survive the winter and the others will naturally end their short lives with the colder weather. But they lasted far longer than I thought they would. As St Paul said in Hebrews: We have not here a lasting city.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dogged devotion

I like dogs. Always have. If circumstances were right, I'd have one.

But I personally know of and have seen media stories now of dogs that are out of control...and people put up with it. For a long time. I once spent a weekend with two married Jungian analysts at their country home. Estimable people. But their dog was a monster. So much so that I was told to take care of any bathroom needs before retiring and not to leave my bedroom at night because the dog would attack me...

Either fix the situation or get rid of the dog!

Hey, I have gotten rid of human boyfriends when they made my life a hell.

UnWhite Washing our Past


The faculty senate at Eastern Illinois University is considering removing the name of Stephen Douglas, he of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, from one of their buildings. Douglas held unacceptable views on Blacks.

The author of the article that discusses this issue writes
It is easy to read (the) charge that Douglas "bears a dishonorable record of public service and is hence undeserving of public acclaim and honor" as simply another sanctimonious exercise in air-brushing the racially-insensitive and diversity-intolerant out of college and university histories. And this has provoked some equally-predictable push-back from historians like EIU's Mark Summers, who argues that "trying to find historical actors who fully abided my own moral judgments was a fruitless exercise... because our world today is too different from the world occupied by predecessors who spoke and acted in the past." Douglas was, in other words, a man of his time, when white supremacist attitudes were actually mainstream, and should not be judged by "presentist" attitudes.
However, the author then finds his own grounds for removing Douglas' name, based on another political stance he took. That's a mistake. He got it right earlier on, describing the move "as simply another sanctimonious exercise in air-brushing the racially-insensitive and diversity-intolerant out of college and university histories." And out of American history.

Perhaps the doctored puritans of EIU have never read Great Emancipator Abraham Lincoln's real views on Blacks? He rejected slavery, but never felt that Blacks and Whites were or could be equal (“there is a physical difference between the white and black races that will for ever forbid the two races from living together on terms of social and political equality.”), hoping that most of the African-descended would return to Africa. Let's take down the Lincoln Memorial.

Part of the progressive agenda, with PC as its metastasizing modality, is to disconnect contemporary Americans, especially whites, from a positive emotional connection to their past. To destroy their self-respect and cultural pride. And they have succeeded all too well. The ridiculous social pressure to use only "correct" terms for Official Victim Groups is a way of saying that all your thoughts and all your language...and your whole culture and history...prior to The Sixties was wrong.

We now have to make believe that the tribal peoples who lived on the North American continent prior to the European invasion and conquest are "Native Americans." They were not. The Americans conquered them and absorbed or corralled them. "America" is an entirely European creation. To use the PC term implies that the Indians are the real Americans and we Johnny Come Latelies are mere evil usurpers; that's the PC narrative.

As well, there is not one derogatory thing about calling Japanese, Koreans or Chinese "Orientals." But it has taken on the shame of "nigger", so that now one must say "Asians". Why? Despite the surface blather about Eurocentrism, it is also to cut us off from our shameful and ignorant past. All language prior to the Sixties must be expunged, so we can learn to think in the new and enlightened way. But any people that cuts itself off from its past is committing suicide. And that, of course, is what the progressive and liberal agenda is about.

So here's to "Douglas Hall".

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Trivia, humoresque and transgression

I am officially old. GQ announced its Leading Man of the Year and I have no idea who he is. James Franco, btw.

Spent well over an hour last night trying to find out why my Windows Live email program refused to send anything all of a sudden. Turns out that when I deleted one of the messages in the Outbox, which contained a photo encased in a new and non-optional Microsoft Windows Live photo frame, everything went back to working as normal. My experience with Apple is very recent and restricted to the iPhone, but I have decades of Microsoft experience and Bill Gates' people usually manage to create software that is incompatible with their other Microsoft programs, all the time. And I have yet to encounter an "improvement" that does not entail the loss of a feature that I liked.  If I ever have money again, I may cross over to Mac land.

__________________

I can't resist posting this. Though B and I are broken up, over three months now, we do have contact. He sent this email today because it reminded him of our last trip away together in early July.


For all his many many many flaws --actually he only has one and a half, but it's major!--- he is a damned funny man. My very first online connection with him, sight unseen, made me laugh and even now he can get to my funny bone like nobody else.

__________________

Transgression of a certain kind has always had an attraction for me. (I get that tendency from my mother Eve!) So here's a two-part culturally transgressive question. I'm afraid it may sound rhetorical, but I'd be very interested in actual answers:
Are there any instances of Gentile societies where (especially Ashkenazi) Jews were not restricted by law and did NOT wind up in positions of power or influence all out of proportion to their numbers? Are there instances of societies where Blacks are unrestricted by law and in competition with other racial groups and do NOT wind up at the socio-economic bottom?
Our current liberal culture requires us to engage in excruciating acrobatics (aka, lies) when it comes to certain groups. I can't think of any other group in history which has worked so hard to address a history of race-based bad behavior as modern Whites --I think it's really unprecedented, to the point of pursuing cultural suicide, even-- and yet the assumption is that Whites are always racist. If you can't see it, then it must be even more malicious, hypocritically hidden. On the other hand, if Blacks are the beneficiaries of fifty years of legal and social and economic programs designed to improve their position and yet a significant number of them appear regularly to engage in significantly self-destructive behavior (eg. drug use and incarceration, unmarried parenthood), somehow it is not their fault. Or "the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow."

Here's another transgressive thought. Consider the recent history of the European Jews: emancipated from the ghettos and shtetls in the nineteenth century and then within a century, perhaps, subjected to mass demonization, deportation, confinement and slaughter, so that two-thirds of them are gruesomely wiped out within a few years. Now to say that they have rebounded from that experience would be an understatement. They went from being on the brink of extinction to once again ruling the world (according to some people!) within a generation.

What if some other group had been at the center of that kind of disaster? How do you think they would have fared by now?

Not all groups are equal. 

Now I am certainly treading on thin liberal ice here. Talking about racial and ethnic groups this way. Not letting people be unique individuals. (Which, by the way, I am pretty good at doing in real life.) But the whole effing liberal project is based wholly and entirely on talking about groups! It's just that some groups are more equal than others. Bad White male capitalist patriotic warmongering religious consumerists vs Good People-of-color female wealth-sharing transnational peace-loving secular environmentalists.  (Unless, of course, you're dealing with Muslims: then you can be theocratic and violent and misogynist but it's OK because...uh, because why?)

And just a note on groups like Blacks or Hispanics. For PC purposes, that's all you need. But in real life, within those groups are many other groups. Black crime rates in Toronto are astronomical. But when you further investigate, you find that 98% of the crime comes just from Jamaicans. Worth noting. And if you compare the cultural patterns of Cubans in America and Mexicans in America, you can see right away that not all groups of Hispanics are alike, either. Why should they be? Ever compared an Italian with a Swede?

(And btw, the next time some PC asshole wants to make you feel bad because you mistake a Korean for a Japanese, ask him or her if they could tell a Greek from a Spaniard or a Dane from a German. PC BS.)

Talking about groups is unavoidable. You cannot talk about an individual without referencing his group characteristics, be he a human or a tree. Human thought cannot take place outside the dialectic of generalization and individuality. Unless you grasp the general group concept "tree", you cannot know any particular sycamore, pine or oak. The exhausting contradictions of liberal politeness on this question are clearly designed to prevent us from seeing the forest in which the trees grow. A dictum I learned in PC school about how whites should deal with blacks sums it all up: "Unless you wanna be a racist, just forget that I'm black. And by the way, also never forget that I'm black."

And since I'm on a roll, one of the reasons that Asian-Americans do so well is that they seem to have found a way of maintaining a largely non-confrontational sense of heritage while adopting American middle class family, education and work values, including dressing like ordinary people and speaking standard English and having ordinary American first names. Ba dump bump.

I better get outta here before I'm arrested.

___________________

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Peeping Ex

Queen Elizabeth I, in trying to resolve the contentious religious issues of her day, was famous for denying that she had any interest in making "windows into men's souls." I am unlike her in several ways. One of them is that men's souls fascinate me and whenever I find a window into them, I look in.



Here's an email I got from a friend which opens one of those windows. His story made me smile.

I ran around the lake today, and often
when I am there I see one of
my colleagues running. He is a little
older than I am, but I can't catch up with
him and he annoys all my competitiveness.
Plus, he has a bumper sticker that says
"War in Not the Answer."

Today, we started out at about the same time.
We made some perfunctory polite greetings, and
started to run. He immediately took a short-cut,
almost a mile short cut.  I eventually passed him
though he stayed close on my tail until he took
another short cut. While I've been running 4.5 miles,
he's been running about 3.

Even though I know war is not the answer, and
that he didn't even know he was racing me, I
wanted to let the air out of his tires.
__________________

You can't, said Kant


Although I am not a big fan of Emmanuel Kant, I like his wisdom here, which famous liberal (but anti-Marxist and not progressive) philosopher Isaiah Berlin took for the title to one of his books:  
Out of the crooked timber of humanity 
no straight thing was ever made.
Although it is supposed to be sort of un-American to accept limitations, to confine your dreams, etc. that is a half-truth. The Founding Fathers certainly were dreamers, but they never doubted that their dreams had to find a place within the limits of reality. They knew history in detail, the actual story of man as he actually has been, and although it gave them hope for liberty, it was a sober hope. In history, despotism is the norm. (The more "visionary" dreamers of the French Revolution wound up, in short order, with The Terror and Emperor Napoleon.) The kind of republican freedom they wanted was rare and not particularly long-lived. They knew this. Witness Ben Franklin's response to the woman who asked him, outside the Pennsylvania State House after the Constitutional Convention was over, what kind of government he and his fellows had given the new country: "A republic, madam, if you can keep it."

One of the limits they were mostly all aware of is the limit of human nature itself. The genius of Madison's constitutional vision was not to make a governmental system for angels but for men. His separation of powers in three branches of government assumed, assumed, assumed that they would naturally struggle with each other for supremacy. He did not attempt make men rise above ambition, but sought to use their ineradicable ambitions to counter one another's lust for power.

The American Revolution was finally a rather conservative revolution. That, I believe, is the secret of its success and longevity. It was willing to live with unpalatable things like slavery. And the men who wrote the words "All men are created equal", did not hold the silly idea, now regnant, that every human being is equally gifted, talented, capable, able or deserving. It was a far more modest claim. And if they actually intended it to mean adult white males, that was not --as now so huffily asserted-- a tragic flaw, but common sense in the context. It is no accident that the primary unalienable rights they list were not "life, liberty and happiness", but "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." A crucial distinction unnoticed by our current age, where we are told by marketers, teachers and politicians about how much we "deserve".

What provoked these thoughts was a news items describing the flight of males from Reform Judaism, the transformation of that most common form of American Judaism into a female ghetto. The majority of new rabbinical students are now women. Men are staying away in droves.

This feminization is showing up all over the culture: the humanities in the university, most churches outside the Catholic/Orthodox fold, in some professions --certainly my own psychological one. While feminists, and people who now think that feminist ideology is just The Obvious Truth, may certainly pathologize this trend as a flaw in the male gender's ethical structure, it is true to say that part of the crooked timber of humanity is that men and women are indeed very very different. Opposite, even. Opposite sexes. Different needs by nature, by design.

And where a realm is dominated by women, or even begins to be so, men will now leave it. The common wisdom fed to us by the media and our betters still can speak with victim nobility about "old boys clubs", but the truth is that the girls' coffee klatch is now established in our culture. And men certainly want no part of it. For that reason alone, theology aside, for Catholicism or Orthodoxy to admit women to the priesthood would be suicidal. Christianity has enough of the feminine in it already.

Gay men are usually far more at home in a feminized space, and so that cadre of males might remain and even grow. In the clergy, in academia, in therapyland, etc. But your standard man will withdraw.

I once shocked my Board at the psych institute where I was executive director for many years by asking them to be conscious of how they were making their organization a place where straight males would not come, a place increasingly dominated by women and gay men. Not, I said, an archetypally healthy balance. They simply stared at me. To my knowledge, only one straight male, an East Asian, has entered their training program in the last five or seven years. One year the new class was entirely female. They yammered on embarrassingly for years about "diversity" while making the place more gender-uniform all the time.

It is supposedly a mark now of Western identity that women are free and equal. This is one of the things we use to distinguish ourselves from Islam. But if the West continues to be feminized, what is the eventual outcome...especially if other large and unfriendly parts of the world remain, as nature seems to prefer, patriarchal? If you succeed in converting your neighborhood to Quakerism, but the rest of South Central is run by the Crips and the Bloods...how long do you think you'll last? As the author of Androphilia puts it, "A society dominated by women and effeminates cannot survive."

I ask myself this question: if a classless society is impossible --certainly the Marxist experiment showed that-- what makes anyone think that a non-sexist society is possible? Or a racially blind multicultural one? If we are to believe anthropologists, during our long hunter-gatherer phase --the longest and most determinative phase in human history-- there really was no class as we know it. That only became possible with sendentism and agriculture, a mere ten to twelve thousand years ago. One could argue then that sex and tribe differences are far more deeply engrained in human nature than class.

It seems to be that men establish their own sense of manhood and their status as worthy mates for women, by competing with other men in hierarchical masculine realms. Feminine rites of initiation are very rare compared to rites for young males. It may be that nature herself, through menstruation and childbirth, initiates girls into womanhood. Males can really only be made into men by other men. Undo that construct and those patriarchal places of separate power, and they cannot complete their archetypal task. The US Marine Corps, though forced to comply with the societal drift, still insists on keeping genders entirely separate for basic training, basic initiation. Beating out a woman in competition brings no honor to a man and losing to one is catastrophic. Like or not, nature has made the two sexes quite different.

It is not uncommon to discover, if you talk long enough with a liberal or progressive, that they basically find the world as it is to be a scandal, an outrage, a crime. If they can imagine a just, fair, peaceful and egalitarian world in their heads, --a source of enormous ethical pride for them--it enrages them that such a world does not exist outside. And in typical human form, visible since the story of Adam and Eve, they look for Someone Bad To Blame. I have to say that this is also the hallmark of an adolescent mind. Who is both more self-righteous and clueless than a teenager?

Conservatives are more likely to take the world as it is as given, to take reality as a teacher rather than an enemy, to adapt to limitation rather than froth about it. For all its flaws, conservatives are more likely to be amazed that things are not a lot worse, because they know that they have been and can be again. Any time. Hence, the urge to "conserve."

One of the favorite quotes of progressives is one attributed to Robert Kennedy.
       “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”
Well, Bobby, there are a lot of things, it turns out, that never were because they can never be.  

Wishing, Bobby, does not make it so.



Monday, November 15, 2010

A petty whine

There's a guy on television who combines a thick Brazilian accent with a thick gay supersibilant accent. Reminds me of a guy at my gym with the same combo. Totally offputting. End of petty whine.

WTF?

I mailed my passport renewal application on Friday and using the USPS tracking system found that they attempted delivery to the office in Philadelphia this Monday morning at 11.15 am. Attempted delivery? To the national passport office? Were they out for lunch? Now I have to get on the phone and if I can talk to a human, find out wtf is going on.

Xtreme Catholic trivia

Why is St. Dominic's candle being held by a monkey?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bollyback Mountain...not quite

Homosexuality was only decriminalized in India a year ago and now Dunno Y, which includes a love story of two men, is on the big screen. Even a man and woman kissing in movies has been a sore spot for Indians morals, so two men...


From the BBC video, it seems that the two young men are Christians --the sprawling and dysfunctional DeSouza family is the centerpiece of the film-- and spokesman for the All India Christian Council assures us that every religion in the country sees homosexuality as wrong. Something Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs can all agree on. I have looked at a variety of review of the film. Apparently it has bigger problems than gay sex.

One of the gay activists interviewed about the film says that it will help break down stereotypes and misconceptions, including the confusion between gays and transgenders! Every other Western-style construction of LGBTism aims to do precisely the opposite. Good luck with that one.

America, love it and leave it...please

A friend reminded me today of the common pseudo-threat that "if so-and-so is elected, I'm leaving the country." I recall a lot of liberals saying that about Bush. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, none of them left.

A neighbor was threatening to leave if Sarah Palin were elected. My friend, no fan of Palin but even less a fan of narcissistic posturing, said to him, "Go." Pretty cool.



This is only anecdotal, but I have the distinct impression that when a lefty progressive like Obama was to be elected and, alas, was, conservatives talked about moving not out of the country but to another part of the country. Someplace redder. It's liberals who, when they don't think they're gonna get their way, threaten to abandon their purported homeland altogether.

If I'm right --duh--, that says very much in a nutshell.

And when did this trope start up and be seen as a noble and tragic choice rather than a cowardly foot stamping form of treason? The category of the "expatriate". When did it begin and how has it morphed over time? Do white liberals imagine themselves the spiritual children of Josephine Baker?

And apropos of very little, liberals are always telling us how smart they are, how nuanced. Why is it that stupid Nazi chimp George Bush made public his SAT scores (1206), allowing experts to extrapolate that to an IQ in the mid 120's, and yet uberbrilliant John Kerry and LightWorker Genius Obama have not? Humility, surely.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Southern Gothic

A Facebook friend posted a short clip from a very strange 1967 movie, Reflections in a Golden Eye. It is set on an Army base in the 1940's. The clip shows Marlon Brando as a married captain obsessed with a handsome young private, cruising him in the rain. The film, which I have seen several times, has the weird, histrionic*, hyperacute, bent-out-of-shape and feverishly repressed feeling of a Tennessee Williams play. Normalcy is nowhere to be seen, regardless of who wants who. As the trailer finally advises, "Leave the children home."




The author of the original novel, Carson McCullers, was a friend of Williams; her most well-known work is The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter.   Although a little Williams usually goes a very long way for me, his assessment of McCullers' work caught me: "Carson's major theme was the huge importance and nearly insoluble problems of human love."

*Elizabeth Taylor is in it. Nuff said.

Architecture I like

9th century Spanish church

20th century New England house


21st century human male

Imagine worser

Can the SyFy channel make anything but the worst movies in history, over and over again?

The eternal fascist, do-gooder style

On an episode of This Old House, new homeowners cannot remove poison ivy from their yard without permission from the Conservation Commissions because it's a native species...

Some San Francisco zealot is trying to get a measure on the ballot that forbids (only) male circumcision prior to age 18.

The township where my mother lives has a famously intrustive and restrictive building code. When she bought her house, which was built prior to the current code, the town decided that there was too much interior space for the size of the footprint. She had to have one room upstairs walled up in order to get a certificate of occupancy. After that, the carpenter came back and re-opened the wall and made a new door...

Then there's San Francisco's secular kosher laws: recycling.

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.
C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Local hero

When I first moved to my San Francisco neighborhood, almost 20 years ago, there was a handsome, friendly but clearly not-well fella who used to flirt with me on the street. I learned after a while that he was Glen Burke, who'd played major league baseball for four seasons in the 70's. He was the first gay man to be out while playing. And he remains the only one. He died of AIDS in 1995.

I was doing errands, buying groceries, and noticed that the neighborhood is illuminated by spotlights for the opening of Out: The Glen Burke Story, showing at the Castro Theatre tonight.

Cultural contradictions

The FDA now wants graphic images of corpses and diseased lungs placed on cigarette packaging, to discourage smoking. But isn't it considered grotesquely and barbarically beyond the pale to show the actual results of abortion to discourage women from doing that?

An easy life

I have watched two programs recently about war. A recreation of the Battle of Alesia in 52 BC, where after seven years, Julius Caesar's Roman army finally defeated Vercingetorix's Gauls, bringing fifteen million people into Rome's growing empire. And color films of World War II, focusing on the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. Both of them are three-dimensional, detailed, concrete, almost unbelievable. The sheer physical effort and exhaustion involved. Both of them leave me speechless. So many men in history have been in war. I never have been.

That alone makes mine an easy life.

When I was on my way back to North America in 1974 after my year of study in Rome, I rented a car, a little deux-chevaux, to drive through France. Included in that trip was Normandy. I cannot say for sure if my memory is accurate, but I think it is truthful. I arrived near the beach late in the afternoon in summer, on an overcast day. I trudged up toward the hilly area that lead to the sea. And when I reached the top of the ridge, suddenly, spread out before me as far as the eye could see, between me and the water, in either direction, were thousands and thousands and thousands of white crosses. I had not cried for years, but when my eyes took that in, the graves of so many young men, many my own countrymen, who died violently far away from home and family, suddenly I stopped breathing and there was water falling down my face.

Even now, my instinct is the same.

I have had an easy life.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

POV

Dinosisters

In the mid 1960s, 180,000 sisters and nuns in the USA


A comprehensive in-house study of Catholic priests, brothers and sisters reveals the startling fact that in the United States there are now more sisters over 90 than under 60.

Currently, less than 58,000
(and over 90% are 60+)

An old story, with my 1999 version and edit

VIOLENT MEN

Lot’s Hospitality


B
y Sodom's gate at sundown, there sat Lot ‑‑Abraham's brother's son‑‑ who saw the travellers coming, who rose up for them, and bowed down to them. "I am, my lords, your servant and my home is yours, your feet to wash, to pass the night and then to go your way at morning light."  They would not, but wished to sleep full out in Sodom's square. Again Lot pressed, again and so at last they went with him. He fed them well, they shared his food.

 

The Strangers Attacked


2          But on the point of sleep, the men of Sodom came, they ringed Lot's house, the old, the young, all shouting:  "Bring the strangers out to us, we mean to show them how we get to know our guests." Out the door Lot came to bar the way. He pleaded: "No, my friends, do not abuse these men, who have the sacred place of guests within my home, for me to guard.  Instead I offer my two girls, untouched, to you.  Take both of them but do not rape these men who shelter in my house."

4          But they all bellowed,  "Foreign scum, what right have you to order us around? Stand aside or you will get it worse than them." They rushed at Lot, to break the door, but from within  the guests reached out and rescued him, shut out the shouting men, then shut their eyes from sight, struck blind the mob,  who stumbled from the door, all dark.

The Violent Cities Destroyed


5          The two men spoke to Lot: "Now take your wife and daughters, all your kinfolk, every one, and flee this place, which Yah will crush." (Lot bade the young men promised to his girls to come away with them; they only laughed, they took him for a joker).

6          With dawning light the sheltered guests were urging Lot to go, go soon, before the city was a ruin, but he balked. They took him by the hand, his wife, his girls, and pulled them from the town. “Run to the hills, run for your life, never look back”; this was their warning.

7          And with the sun now rising, burning, Yah gushed blazing sulphur on the land, on Sodom, on Gomorrah, all the valley, all the humans, all the green.

8          Lot's wife recalled them now‑‑ her cattle and her neighbors‑‑ she turned around, looked back, she saw and stood stock still, recast in solid salt. 


9          At morning Abraham looked up. He saw the spreading vapors from the land, a smoking furnace now. Up he ran, to stand upon the place where he had words with Yah, looked down into the valley and he saw, saw the deed the god had done.

Lot’s Daughters


10        Lot lived in a cave, his two daughters with him. The elder told the younger: “There are no men for us to wed, as women do in all the world. Our father's old. With wine we can seduce him, then at least we'll bear him sons.”  One night the elder, next night the younger, they gave their father wine to make him sleep, then went and mounted him, conceived and bore two sons, one each. Moab and Ammon were their names.  Moabites and Ammonites,  no friends to Abraham’s descendants, have their root in these two sons of Lot and his daughters.





Self parody


The Queer Studies Conference 2010 at UCLA.

By comparison, the mythical notion of medieval theologians arguing about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin seems appealing.

I recall reading an article many years ago, claiming that concern about "decadence" was just code for fear of homosexuality. Maybe they had a point.

HT to American Thinker

The Quotable EM Forster

The author of Maurice, the first homosexual novel with a happy ending. An Edwardian man of his time, for sure. Without him, Merchant/Ivory would never have existed.



England has always been disinclined to accept human nature. 

Love and understand the Italians, for the people are more marvelous than the land.

There is something majestic in the bad taste of Italy. 

"Was Mrs Wilcox one of the unsatisfactory people -- there are many of them -- who dangle intimacy and then withdraw it? They evoke our interests and affections, and keep the life of the spirit dawdling round them. Then they withdraw. When physical passion is involved, there is a definite name for such behaviour -- flirting -- and if carried far enough it is punishable by law. But no law -- not public opinion even -- punishes those who coquette with friendship, thought the dull ache that they inflict, the sense of misdirected effort and exhaustion, may be as intolerable. (Howard's End)

You can transmute love, muddle it, ignore it... but you can never pull it out of you.

We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand.

Most quarrels are inevitable at the time; incredible afterwards.

They go forth with well-developed bodies, fairly developed minds and undeveloped hearts. An undeveloped heart-not a cold one. The difference is important.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Car wrecks

I occasionally watch the ongoing saga of Hoarders. Crazy people. Seriously cracked. Amazing and unsettling how people --family and professionals both-- have to placate them because they threaten to become upset. Watching a program on serial killers would be less disturbing.

Premature

It's early, weatherwise, for this poem by Wallace Stevens. 
But the seasons of the soul and the heart have their own timetable.


One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Error 404

Clicked on a San Francisco link and got this elaborated message for Error 404.

Nuff said.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Car wreck

I know that it's supposed to be trash, that it's only a facade of reality in the sense that it is played and probably semi-scripted for maximum conflict, drama, embarrassment, etc. In short, it's a gay version of Real Housewives. And the gender difference is minimal. Minimal. Bitches with dicks. And it's done that way on purpose. I know that.

That having been said, The A List is loathsome, pathetic, grotesque. If that's what gay is, then I'm in favor of reparative therapy and jihad. Creepy. Awful. Disgusting. Characters without character, utterly without dignity or worth, just attitude and money. If there's an argument for homophobia, there it is.

Taking things for granted

The thing about the things you take for granted is that because you take them for granted, you don't know that you do.

Watching a pleasant Masterpiece Theatre series about a traditional English village in the Victorian 1840's. The railway is coming to them and they resist and fear it. Funny scene when the village matriarch gets her posse to give it a try and these country women first ride it. Apprehension, fear, unheard of speed, exhilaration...It must have been like our first ride on a roller coaster was for us...with a bit of Cape Canaveral thrown in.


Things we take for granted, and now even find antique, were once as new and exciting as our novelties are to us.

What are homos looking for? E.G.

Posting from a guy I just connected with online. (I altered the pic to keep his privacy.)


The vagaries of life. This is a man who, to all appearances, is a major catch: handsome and strong, solidly employed, connected to family and friends, with outside interests and a natural sense of humor. I'm sure guys would line up for him. But it appears that he has set his heart on an unattainable man. And nothing else will finally satisfy him.

Friday, November 05, 2010

What are homos looking for?

Well, the obvious answer is: other guys. But it's a bit more complex than that.

A Toronto Jungian analyst, Graham Jackson, wrote a set of rich books about archetypal patterns of male intimacy: The Secret Lore of Gardening (1991) and The Living Room Mysteries (1993). In typical (!) Jungian fashion, he produces a typology of male partnerships. He mixes clinical material with a lot of examples from myth and literature, both classic and popular. I have found it pretty true-to-life in its description of the attractions of opposites working themselves out in male-male relationships.

Secret Lore explores the varieties of "green" earth-bound men bonding with "yellow" solar and sky oriented men, the practical down-to-earth man with the man who lives for ideas and the Big Picture. Living Room investigates connections between "red" men, romantically passionate, aesthetically and emotionally gifted and "blue men" the rational patriarchal man of societal duty and status.

Another structural set that Jackson notes, and which informs both of the above patterns: the man-youth dyad and the dyad of the more equal comrades-in-arms. In a simpler way, father-son and brother-brother dyads. Kinship libido playing itself out in, for example, the classic Greek age structure of erastes-eromenos and in the primordial fellow love of Gilgamesh and Enkidu.


Other writers, such as Paul Rosenfels (who influenced Jackson) with his "assertive and yielding" dyads and Keith Swain's "alpha-beta" couples explore other aspects of unlikeness in same-sex bonding.

In my last relationship, with B, it was definitely of the comrades-in-arms type, brothers. No dads and no sons. I was both the more yellow to his green and the more red to his blue. And though he always assertively denied it, --thereby proving my point! -- the alpha.

In my relationship history, I am almost always yellower, but the red and blue position are both ones I have held. Not all constellations are the same, even for the same person.

Of course the deep feminine and masculine are always playing underneath here: Gaia and romance vs thinking and hierarchy. Assertive and alpha vs yielding and beta. The fundamental mysteries of Yin and Yang seem inescapeable.

And once you get to know them, why would you want to?

__________________________________

Some notes some day on Innis and Jack in Brokeback Mountain, the homoerotic and not gay movie of 2006. Complex stuff there. And I am an unabashed fan both of the short story and the movie. (It is probably the most parodied film of all time; just check out YouTube. My psych take on that is that it was too close to the bone, pardon the phrase. People who were expecting to see or talking themselves into seeing two "gay cowboys" were confronted with something much more universal, precisely by being so unusual.) While I could truthfully say that both film and story move me, often to the point of tears, my actual experience is not so much being moved as being nailed, riveted, transfixed, in effect, so moved that I couldn't move. Is there a verb for that?

Update. There is a verb for that: transfixed, which means emotionally impaled and rendered immobile through awe, etc.  Checked the dictionary. Kinda figured I was not the first person to feel that way!

What are homos for?

Evolutionary biologists ask why nature keeps making homosexuals, since the likelihood of their reproducing is lower than for ordinary child-begetting folks. How low probably varies a great deal. The very recent phenomenon of gayness, with a social identity, has allowed far greater numbers of homosexually inclined people to skip marriage and begetting than would likely be possible almost anywhere or any time in history. One non-homo friend of mine has lamented this new sociological escape route, since it removes from the gene pool a big chunk of men, at least some of whom exhibit notable gifts of body and spirit.
Most often the biologists come up with the Helpful Uncle theory, another male to support nephews and nieces. I doubt anyone will ever create a definitive answer. Why does nature make homosexuals might be up there with What Do Women Want?*

Some rude people, noting the nature keeps making all kinds of defective humans --schizophrenics, for example-- so it might be more of an imperfection in evolution rather than a design. One very rude theory is that it is caused by a yet-undetected virus.

A game I play sometimes on the subway or walking home from work is to extrapolate the conceit of the movie A Day Without A Mexican, where you instantly remove a whole population from, in this case, contemporary America and see what you've lost (or ridden yourself of!). It can be pretty unnerving and very unPC.

So if we removed all the gay men --I regularly exclude lesbians from these ruminations because even though my best female friend is a lesbian (!), as a group they do not seem parallel to homosexual men--
what more or less 3% of the population would we lose and/or rid ourselves of?

Two groups come to mind right away, decorators and mentors. Decoration and ornamentation seem to attract a lot of gay men. These range from a Michelangelo to the local store window dresser, florist or hairstylist. (If you extend the notion of decoration to certain types of entertainment, you'd find a lot of homo guys there, too.) And there seems to be a lot of gay men in the teaching and the clergy professions. Am I in the ball park here?

________________

My answer to this: "They want what they want when they want it, buddy."

I am pretty sure that my mother has had a strong role in shaping my sense of the feminine and one of the big differences for me, primitively true even if not empirically true, is that men are stable and predictable, while women are wildly labile. My mother's reality is whatever she decides it is at the moment and the idea of continuity seems alien to her, not unlike The Red Queen, who believes six impossible things before breakfast every day. My choice in female friends clearly shows a preference for women who are not labile. (My longest partnership, however, was with a man who lived on what seemed to me an emotional merry-go-round! I knew I was in trouble one day when we were arguing and I realized that he was Claire and I was Jack, mom and dad. Maybe even gay men can marry their mothers!)

Thursday, November 04, 2010

A day late

The Trappist monk Thomas Merton was someone I used to read a lot of when I was younger.  He combined a down to earth eye  and a monastic romanticism with a mystical streak and a gift for thinking and writing. Voluminously. I was just in the SF Main Library today and re-read his essay, Firewatch, a rambling meditation on his turn one furnace of a summer night as lone night watchman in the great monastery of Gethsemani. It ends his 1953 The Sign of Jonas and contained lines that once greatly comforted me:
"The Voice of God is heard in Paradise: 'What was vile has become precious. What is now precious was never vile. I have always known the vile as precious: for what is vile I know not at all. '"

I love this poem below mostly for the section So the bells rang. It expressed very much my own many years' experience of chanting the Office in choir, something I used to love. St Malachy's day was yesterday.


St. Malachy
by Thomas Merton

In November, in the days to remember the dead
When air smells cold as earth
St. Malachy, who is very old, gets up,
Parts the thin curtains of trees and dawns upon our land.

His coat is filled with drops of rain, and he is bearded
With all the seas of Poseidon.
(Is it a crozier, or a trident in his hand?)
He weeps against the gothic window, and the empty cloister
Mourns like an ocean shell.

Two bells in the steeple
Talk faintly to the old stranger
And the tower considers his waters.
"I have been sent to see my festival," (his cavern speaks!)
"For I am the saint of the day.
Shall I shake the drops from my locks and stand in your transept,
Or, leaving you, rest in the silence of my history?"

So the bells rang and we opened the antiphoners
And the wrens and the larks flew up out of the pages.
Our thoughts became lambs. Our hearts swam like seas.
One monk believed that we should sing to him
Some stone-age hymn
Or something in the giant language.
So we played to him in the plainsong of the giant Gregory:
Oceans of Scripture sang upon bony Eire.

Then the last salvage of flowers
(Fostered under glass after the gardens foundered)
Held up their little lamps on Malachy's altar
To peer into his wooden eyes before the Mass began.

Rain sighed down the sides of the stone church.
Storms sailed by all day in battle fleets.
At five o'clock, when we tried to see the sun, the speechless visitor
Sighed and arose and shook the humus from his feet
And with his trident stirred our trees
And left down-wood, shaking some drops upon the ground.

Thus copper flames fall, tongues of fire fall
The leaves in hundreds fall upon his passing
While night sends down her dreadnought darkness
Upon this spurious Pentecost.

And the Melchizedek of our year's end
Who came without a parent, leaves without a trace,
And rain comes rattling down upon our forest
Like the doors of a country jail.

Post game thoughts

One of the reasons I don't often read the SF Chronicle is the letters to the editor. (I'll get to that).  I did dive in yesterday, though, to find out about the fate of the various offices and propositions we voted on. Our ballots here are five pages, double sided. Nationally, of course, the country sent a loud "shellacking" message to Obama and the Democrats: Stop it. Locally, California and San Francisco remained true to form and on the road to further ruin. (Although granting the vote, even in limited fashion, to non-citizens, failed to pass. Some sanity remains. And the useless marijuana proposition was also defeated.)

There were a few races where people ran unopposed. Anyone I voted for in that situation won. Handily. But wherever there were competitors, none of my choices won. How countercultural of me. (The State AG race will take a while to complete and I may have one winner there, but not yet.) For State propositions, I was with the majority most of the time. For local ones, half and half.

California has a population of about 33 million, of whom about 24 million are over 18. The governor's race drew about 7 million voters. (The two previous ones drew 8 and 6 million.)

Now back to why I don't read the Chronicle's Letters to the Editor. I am sure that people like the two I will cite can be found anywhere, but they seem to encapsulate aspects of the local population that I detest.

The Giants won the Series, of course, on Tuesday night and the city erupted in several hours of boisterous merrymaking. Writer 1 said he was awakened by all the noise and mayhem but was disappointed to learn that instead of celebrating the war crimes trial of Bush and Cheyney, it was merely about some "man-boys" playing a game.  Writer 2, a young wife and new mother, went with her hubby and infant out into the raucous crowds at the Civic Center and discovered, to her horror, that the smoke of cannabis and tobacco was present. Amazingly, when she chastised some of the revellers, they responded unsympathetically. Her conclusion: that mothers and children are unwelcome in this city and that she felt "unsafe" and is now looking to move out of town.

I will spare you much commentary on these two, since they are pretty much self explanatory. But they do represent a strain of the local peeps that is, shall we say, very unattractive.

What was very attractive, however, was all the joy and mayhem precisely about an American game. I generally loathe diversity talk, but if you looked at the seas of people all smiling and shouting, focussed on a common pleasure and pretty well uninterested in the details of their diversities, it was heartening. I had a similar experience in Las Vegas a couple of years ago: the most racially mixed crowds I think I have ever seen. Getting along just fine. Not because they were trying to, but because they forgot about that and were engaged in the more common human enterprise of gambling, eating, drinking and having a good time.

My experience suggests to me that when we are conscious of our differences and it is on the bases of our differences that we try to relate, it always fails. We do much better when we find a common interest and just go for it.

Looking from the City, NorthWest to the Marin Headlands

One sad note. I shared an uncommon common moment with someone who normally eschews feeling anything other than happy, hungry or horny. Both of us, watching the parade and the City Hall celebration, thought of people who would have loved to see this, had they only lived long enough. I thought of my friend Christina, who died last year of cancer. She was a great Giants fan and this would have pleased her very very much.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The morning after

Although in California we now have Governor Moonbeam 2.0 joining Nancy Lugosi and Barbara Botox, nationwide, the message is clear....sir.


The Republicans might redeem themselves a bit if they can cut spending, cut taxes and gut Obamacare.

Joy in Bagdad by the Bay


Hundreds of thousands of folks are lining the streets on this sunny warm day to welcome the Giants home. Willie Mays is riding in the parade.

A happy town.

(Solitary fan above; a native San Franciscan, not me.)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

San Francisco

There is much that I love about this city. And there are some things I hate. I mean really hate. The Board of Supervisors, for the benefit of our health, has taken aim at the McDonald's Happy Meal. Foul, meddling busybodies.

I've exercised my franchise

done my duty, done my damage, however you put it. I hope the message to Washington is a loud and clear No. And I hope the Republicans don't screw it up.

An Alberta Park Ranger


Thom found this fella on line and suggested I might like his look.

Damn, the boy knows me well. It's a great thing, testosterone.

And not only is he effin beautiful, but a talented photographer, with a sense of humor*. His caption for this doubles shot:

Ever wanna tell yerself just to shut the fuck up?

*I seem to have a historical weakness for these type of guys...
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