Sunday, July 01, 2007

Another Gorgeous Sunday

It is the most beautiful day ever in Rockville, a record-setting day, perfect temperature, perfect clear sunshine, birds singing, a slight breeze. Somebody's playing some flamenco guitar on PFW and the coffee is bubbling in the pot. The dog's asleep on the couch with the boy. The boy is there because there was a a spider in his room, like, four days ago. Actually, he killed that one, but he thinks there might be another one. Whatever, he can sleep on the couch, it doesn't mean we have to be quiet. We measured him last night. I thought he was probably six-one, but he's right at six feet tall. Maybe it was the shoes, or the way his pants hang down around his knees, I thought he was taller. Whatever, spankings are now out of the question. My option now is to negotiate over gas money.

We went yard-saling yesterday. Didn't buy anything, but it is fun just to go around and yack with the people. We saw the lady we bought our piano from, and a lady from Spain. She wants to go back there when her husband retires, but he's American, he doesn't really want to. We told her about going to Málaga; I was in this big meeting at the university, figuring out the meaning of life etcetera, and suddenly the professor who was chairing the meeting looked at his watch and said, "Oh, the meeting has to end, it's time for me to go for a walk with my family." And that was that. When I told the lady this she lit up, totally understood that we have it wrong here. She was kind, but you could tell, she's a little older now and she'd like to spend her days in a place where people have their priorities straight, and her husband, who she met when he was stationed over there in the war, doesn't actually get it. Personally, I don't think she'll make it back to Spain -- she's from Valencia -- but when you're talking about retirement, man, I'd totally go there. Never mind somebody who speaks the language and knows the street names, and knows how to walk around and have tapas without paying for the wine, which she mentioned.

We went to another yard sale where Dave Edmonds was playing, and I asked the lady if it was a CD or the radio. It was the radio, and I should listen to that station. It was funny, she talked like "we" were some kind of country or culture, where our way of life was the big thing and we had to be patriotic to our time, when music was good. There was a shiny red GTO parked in the garage, from the middle-60s, and I should listen to this radio station because they play good music from Our Day. Well, it was a little flattering, because Dave Edmonds would've been the 1980s, which is, uh, a little after My Day. I mean, I saw Rockpile once at the Roxy, and I even met Al Kooper and Carlene Carter at that gig ... that's another story (and a good one, too). Maybe the Doors would be My Day, or Janis Joplin, or the Beatles -- yeah, the Beatles were My Day. Or maybe anything Really Old is Our Day. Sorry, I can't work up that kind of commitment to the past, I want to fight the fights we have today. I don't miss the old days. Well, I guess I would if I sat around thinking about it, but I don't. I kind of miss crashing on somebody's couch, with tapestries on the wall and a labrador named Boogie who has a blue bandana for a collar and chases Frisbees, but ... not really. That was cool, but I want to see what happens next.

The Post had its Cheney series this week, starting last Sunday. It seemed to me, this could be like the Woodward and Bernstein Watergate stories, this tore open the White House and the nastiness that goes on inside it. The guy has taken over the government, and it is not a pretty thing. He doesn't have our interests in mind, let's say. The four-part series took his mission apart, brick by brick. The administration is refusing to respond to subpoenas from Congress, Cheney is claiming not to be part of the Executive Branch, it is just getting weird and crazy. Years ago I predicted, talking to a guy in my doorway at work, that there'd be some reason we wouldn't be able to elect somebody new in 2008, in the next election. Since then, I thought maybe we'd get back to normal, and we'd be able to kick these guys out. But now, I don't know. I can see them declaring some kind of state of emergency and claiming we need to keep the same guys in the White House because we're "at war," or "under attack" or whatever. You hate to think of the USA that way, like some Central American dictatorship, but that's the way it's been going. Think about it: torture. We torture people. We have secret prisons around the world, where we lock people up and torture them nobody knows where they are. How did this happen?

Man, there is a good guy on the radio right now. He's playing an acoustic guitar and it's tonal, he keeps the key center but he keeps changing the scale. It's fast, and clean, I might need to get this CD. Guy's name is Benjamin Verdery, and this is an album called "Tears for Peace." Speaking of which, I'll be in England pretty soon, and there's a guy there who has developed a kind of computationally intelligent software to accompany a musician. You run his program and it listens to you and responds to what it hears, supporting the soloist with some midi instruments; I've heard some mp3's that he's made, and I want to do it. He said he can set it up so I can play the guitar with his swarm intelligence program. Won't that be cool? I am thinking of doing a free-form version of "London Homesick Blues," in London, accompanied by this software. Changing the meter, messing with the key, I am really looking forward to that.

Well, you know what? I am experiencing the need to throw a baseball with somebody. I hope that kid wakes up pretty soon.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The administration is refusing to respond to subpoenas from Congress,"

So has every administration. It's an on-going source of constitutionally created tension.

"Cheney is claiming not to be part of the Executive Branch,"

Well, he has legislative duties, has no executive powers, is elected and isn't accountable to the Chief Executive.

"it is just getting weird and crazy."

Always has been.

"Years ago I predicted, talking to a guy in my doorway at work, that there'd be some reason we wouldn't be able to elect somebody new in 2008, in the next election. Since then, I thought maybe we'd get back to normal, and we'd be able to kick these guys out. But now, I don't know."

Fascinating. The future is this:

Democrats have blown their last chance. Next year's election will be between the Republican and an independent (or third party candidate). The military coup scenario is some old counterculutural fantasy. Here's a clip from Spring 1971:

"5-6-7-8, we don't want your fascist state!"

Blog on. It helps.

July 01, 2007 2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Air America's Young Turks column:

"As usual Dinesh D'Souza is wrong. He sees the examples of the ancient Greeks and Romans practicing bisexuality as definitive proof that homosexuality is not innate. His theory is that since current Greeks and Romans don't practice rampant bisexuality (let's assume that's true for the moment being) and the ancient Greeks and Romans did, it must be a cultural thing. Not a genetic one.

What if it were both? Which it is. That the human animal is capable (and interested) in bisexuality on a large scale and that this does not manifest itself until society is open to it. This is ironically very similar to the Christian right argument that we must guard against homosexuality because if society is left unguarded, homosexuality, or at least bisexuality, will run rampant. I agree. And I would add -- so what?

What's funny about the Christian right argument is that they admit that they are powerless to stop feelings of homosexuality taking over if society opens up to it. What's going through their minds? Perhaps they're not so different from the ancient Greeks after all.

Of course, as Kinsey showed, the difference between homosexuality and heterosexuality is not a sharp divide (I used to take credit for this idea until I realized Professor Kinsey had written about this before I was even born). It's not a black or white, gay or straight issue. Everyone is somewhere along the gay-straight spectrum.

And the further society opens up to homosexuality as permissible, the more people feel comfortable coming out as bisexual, homosexual, omnisexual or whateversexual.

Let me give a quick and absurdly simplistic example. Let's assume 100 is completely gay and 0 is completely straight on our gay-straight continuum. A person who ranks a 95 on the gay scale is probably going to act out on those innate desires no matter what societal rules there are, even at the risk of being put to death in closed societies.

A person who is a 5 on that scale might never act on any trace bisexual desires he or she might have no matter what the societal norms are. But the more open a society is, the more you will start to draw in people who score an 85, 75, 65, 55, 45, 35, etc. on our fun little gay-straight line.

In a very closed society some one who is "80% gay" might never come out and in a very open society someone who is even "20% gay" might try it. These are gross simplifications, but you get the point. In fact, this is in some ways exactly what the culture warriors on the right have been warning about.

The Christian right (and the religious and cultural conservatives of a great many societies) have been worried about this for a long time. They are right. As society opens up, we will likely be more "gay." Or in reality, be closer to our true nature, wherever that might lie on the bisexuality continuum.

Where the cultural right is wrong is when they make a value judgment on that. Of course, there isn't anything wrong with that all. In fact, since it allows us to be closer to our "real" nature without societal judgments on our natural sexual preferences, there is something very right about it.

As it stands, our current culture doesn't yet appear to be fully comfortable with a truly and widely bisexual society. So, we inch toward progress or slouch toward Bethlehem depending on your interpretation.

Though it must be noted that we have already achieved a great deal of openness on the female side of the equation. Ask around and see if you can find a woman under 25 who hasn't made out with one of their girlfriends.

My informal study on our show indicates about 80% of girls under 25 have at least tried a sexual experience with another woman (I concede that I am no Alfred Kinsey and my so-called evidence is wildly anecdotal, but ask for yourself and you'll see my numbers are shockingly accurate).

D'Souza uses history as his guide. It's ironic because his argument is ultimately against the tide of history and the inevitability of our genes. We know what the future holds, it is our past. The American people are right, our sexuality is innate. We just have to have the courage to own up to it."

July 01, 2007 7:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On controversial social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, America's young people continue to track conservative, according to a poll by The New York Times, CBS and MTV.

The survey collected opinions of 17- to 29-year-olds. Sixty-two percent said abortion should be outlawed or restricted. Danielle Huntley, a student at Boston College Law School and president of Students for Life of America, said she's proud her peers are not buying into liberal rhetoric.

"It illustrates that my generation realizes that they are survivors of Roe," she said. "Each of us born after 1973 could have been legally aborted by our parents. "

Tom Robins of the College Republican National Committee said the opposition to abortion can be attributed to young people's level of understanding.

"Our generation has seen the effects of that," he said. "They understand that abortion on demand is not a healthy choice for America."

Fifty-four percent of young adults expressed opposition to same-sex marriage. Ron Luce with Teen Mania said the challenge is to make sure their opinions are founded in biblical truth.

"We, as those who love God and who have conservative Judeo-Christian values," he said, "need to proactively… help them understand why and how they come from Scripture, and why we believe what we believe."

July 01, 2007 9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some pro-life educators will be speaking out at the annual convention of the National Education Association (NEA) this weekend. They say they'll ask the nation's largest teachers union to stop supporting controversial political causes.

Pro-Life Educators and Students, or PLEAS, will prayerfully picket outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. Bob Pawson, one of the organizers, said the NEA misrepresents millions of teachers who disagree with its political agenda.

“Many of us are pro-life NEA members who are annoyed at the fact that the NEA leadership has taken us down this social, moral, extremist agenda trail," he said. “We want to make our leadership in the union truly neutral on abortion and completely disengage.”

Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council, said it's particularly ironic that pro-abortion resolutions have long been a standard part of the NEA.

“You would think a union would act in its own best economic self interests," he said. “They’re actually advocating the killing of the next generation of students.”

The NEA no longer advertises what resolutions will be voted on at its convention. Tracey Bailey of the Association of American Educators said he thinks he knows the reason for the silence.

"They’ve gotten tired of losing tens of thousands of frustrated and disgruntled members," he said, "when they find out their money is being used for these controversial social agendas.”

July 01, 2007 9:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a lifetime member of the NEA and an elected delegate to 28 Representative Assemblies, I would like to point out that the "leadership" that Anonymous likes to excoriate is no other than the 9,000+ voting delegates (elected by their local Associations) who propose and then vote, democratically, for every position taken by the NEA on the floor of the Representative Assembly. These delegates represent local associations from all over the U.S. and possessions. Critics who like to blather and tear their hair about how the Association is being manipulated by some sort of "power elite" simply do not understand the democratic processes in force at every convention and which are an integral part of NEA's operations. It's sort of like the CRCers in Mont. Co. who have a really difficult time accepting that the curriculum (especially as related to the Health Curriculum) is decided by democratic processes and that they are the ones who are in the minority of malcontents who like to pass themselves off as the voice of "citizens" or "parents" of Montgomery County. The NEA has its own core of minority-opinion teacher members (and definitely not the "millions" that Anonymous likes to inaccurately talk about) who are always in opposition to progressive policies. Somehow they seldom manage to get elected as Delegates to the Convention and perhaps it's because they express opinions not held by the vast majority of NEA's members.

July 01, 2007 10:57 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

This is what I love about the Internet.


July 02, 2007 7:39 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Anonymous at July 01, 2007 9:06 PM

Anonymous quotes religious right spin on an NYT poll. Note a comparison with what he quoted and what the poll actually said:

Anonymous said "Sixty-two percent said abortion should be outlawed or restricted"
Actual poll results:

37% - Abortion should be generally available to those who want it
38% - Abortion should be available but under stricter limits than it is now
24% - Abortion should not be permitted

Anonymous said "Fifty-four percent of young adults expressed opposition to same-sex marriage".

Actual poll results:

44% - gay couples should be allowed to legally marry
24% - gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not legally marry
30% - there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship

Now anonymous can argue that the words they put down on paper are technically true. But the message they tried to convey is completely dishonest.

There is no way religious conservatives believe holding “conservative views” includes support for civil unions. Nor is 68% support for recognition of gay couples cause for anyone to triumphantly declare that young Americans “continue to track conservative”.

July 02, 2007 3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Anon, did you catch the news in Independence Day's edition of the Washington Post? It seems there's a "stark edge" in the contributions to candidates in the '08 Presidential race with $3 given to Democrats for every $2 dollars given to Repugnicans. Obama's 258,000 individual contributors since January 2007 total more than individual contributors over the same period for Giuliani, Romney, and McCain combined.

Romney's had to dip into his personal fortune to lend his campaign another $6.4 million (for a total of $9 million, and it's not even 2008 yet!) and McCain may have to rely on "matching money from the federal government, along with strict spending limits that are part of the bargain."

Contrary to your beliefs that Democrats have blown their last chance, "there is a heck of a lot more grass-roots enthusiasm among the Democratic base than there is among the Republican base"

July 04, 2007 11:15 AM  

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