Tuesday, December 18, 2007

(A Shot of Love Makes Me) Want My MTV?

I am waiting with baited breath to see who wins a shot of love with Tila Tequila. This is embarrassing on many levels. Like any other piece of reality TV whose premise is that someone will find true love, A Shot of Love is a crappy show. I got hooked while visiting folks who have MTV. I’d watch on the sly, flipping channels to CNN to avoid detection whenever footsteps came remotely near my door. So please don’t tell anyone my dirty secret. On second thought, do tell. Spread the word. No one will believe you anyway. This vice is way out of character.

Or maybe it’s not. The force behind my obsession with the reality soap-opera is Dani, a firefighter from Florida. Dani is easy on the eye, and, compared to other lesbians on TV, oh so butch. I am captivated by how her “futchness” plays out in popular entertainment. As we approach the finale, I wonder whether a non-feminine woman can succeed “win” in mainstream media, especially at the expense of her 16 strapping male competitors.

Following A Shot of Love reminds me of my teenage habit of reading Annie on My Mind or Two Teenagers in Twenty to assure myself other queers existed. Even in the age of the L Word ‘mos (homos) on TV are as invisible to me as they were in the halls of high school, so their presence is intriguing. Apparently this still applies when the show features a silly plot and perpetually tipsy lesbians who I don’t for the most part find attractive. Go figure.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Does Picking the Lesser of the Evils Count as a Luxury?

Last week, a self-assured, politically-savy colleague sprung the following idea on me: Financially well-off Americans us have the luxury of voting based on social issues, but for the rest of the country choosing a candidate is a matter of economics. I’ve been mulling it over ever since.

First of all, which vote will improve my economic well-being? According to the GOP mantra, Democrats may be “Tax and Spend Liberals,” but the way I see it, the other option is Spend Don’t Tax Conservatives. I have a hard time seeing politicians who throw money at pet projects like the war in Iraq and abstinence only sex-ed with out regard for their efficacy, or the billions in debt foisted on the next generation, as the fiscally conservative option. If there were a group of candidates who’d make quality health care affordable, I’d vote that ticket in a heartbeat, and consider it the economically responsible thing to do. Alas, the option just isn’t there right now.

And then there are the “social issues.” There isn’t much to get excited about here either. The Dems may be pro-choice, but they get squeamish when it comes down to the nitty gritty (partial birth abortion ban anyone?), and aren’t motivated to take on (and get rid of) abstinence only education. They say they are pro-equality, but they can’t get behind gay marriage. They participate in pride parades, but their willingness to chop the T out of ENDA reveals a discomfort with queerness. The list goes on. It doesn’t feel great to get behind democratic candidates when they have such a weak record on social issues. Gems like Huckabee, however, remind me that I’d be crazy to do otherwise.

What do you think?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Global Warming Makes Strange Bedfellows

Well it’s official now, everyone wants to appear green. Actually, it turns out Newt Gingrich thought of himself as a conservationist before worrying about global warming was hot. The difference now is that he has written a book about global warming. Is that de rigeur for politicians who have fallen from grace?

Anyhoo, today in an interview about said book, Newt said this about global warming: “Caution is key. . . you don’t have to prove the argument about carbon loading the atmosphere to think it would be prudent to try to find economically useful ways to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.” Agreeing with the words coming out of his mouth produced so much cognitive dissonance I almost had to stop driving.

Things returned to normal fairly quickly. First, Newt proposed Nuclear energy as the answer to our carbon woes. Brilliant--- let’s switch to an energy source that doesn’t emit carbon when burned, but takes carbon to mine/transport/process, is non-renewable, and produces very hazardous waste that we will have to store pretty much forever. How environmentally responsible. It even violates point 5 of his own contract, “think long term.” Before, and after, that slam dunk of a suggestion, Newt failed to impress. Just like most other politicians, when it comes to the environment, he seemed like all talk and no action. Even so, I’ll probably give the book a chance. There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell I’d elect him for anything, but if he actually works to solve our environmental problems, I’ll pay attention.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

It'll Come In Handy Someday?

Yesterday Kate Bornstein gave me a get out of hell free card. As rule of thumb, I don't stay up nights worrying about my fate in the afterlife. Even so, I'll file it with the Queer card. Just to have it around. In case it comes in handy.

I'd like to think the card was a personal gift, but that's stretching it. She gave the cards to me and 600 of her closest friends after a speaking engagement yesterday, and you can download your very own off her website.

Of course, the card is 9/10ths marketing ploy, as are most cute freebies. The back side is an advertisement for Bornstein's new book.

Bornstein is an entertaining speaker, and self-described gender outlaw, two kinds of people the world needs more of. Otherwise I don't know much about her.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Diversions

Call Me Lazy. No really, please do. It’s Friday. The work day is over. I’ll do what I damn well please, even if it means sticking a lot of hyperlinks on a page and calling it a post.

As usual, fake news, cuts right to the heart of things. Check out The Onion’s take on a Portland, ME school board’s decision to make birth control available to students through a health clinic on the school grounds. For those of you who missed the back story read all about it on RH reality check, then let me know how you avoided the story. Did you wear ear plugs and a blindfold 24 hours a day for the past two weeks? Run for cover each time someone flipped to Fox News?

Also, thanks to 802 online for pointing out the Which Dyke to Watch Out For (DTWOF) are you quiz. I had lots more fun at work because of it. Take a gander at it yourselves. You don’t have to be a mo for it to be fun, but being a DTWOF reader prolly helps. Oh, and I’m most like Mo. Was there ever any question?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Come Again?

Lynne Cheney (when asked whether, as the mother of a gay daughter, she supports ENDA): “I don’t like questions that don’t reflect the fact I have two daughters . . .that’s my answer and I’m sticking to it.”

Cheney said this in a speech to the National Press Club that aired on NPR tonight. NPR is my best friend and constant companion, so I was listening. So that’s how Cheney deals with the cognitive dissonance of loving her gay daughter and being part of the Bush Administration? By pretending it’s a snub to acknowledge that Mary has different rights than Liz? What a silly (non)answer.

On a positive, and not entirely unrelated, note, it turns out I have a crush on the Unitarian Universalists sex-ed curriculum. Read all about it in this week’s Seven Days. Our Whole Lives (OWL), is aggressively sex-positive, and realistic. As such, it covers everything from body parts to “abortion, masturbation, sexual fantasies, incest, rape, and gender re-assignment surgery.” If only every teen had the opportunity to take such a course.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Words Aren't Everything, But They Do Matter

I was mean today. For no apparent reason I referred to someone short as “that midget girl.” It spilled out of her mouth in place of a proper name. A friend called me on my snarky ways with a swift retort: “that was so politically incorrect.” Point taken: I shouldn’t have said what I said. It was mean. Politically incorrect though? Ugh. That phrase makes my skin crawl. I also dislike its sister, politically correct (PC).

Here’s the definition of politically correct: n Marked by or adhering to a typically progressive orthodoxy on issues involving especially race, gender, sexual affinity, or ecology.

Let me be clear: it’s not the definition of political correctness that makes me queasy. What irks me is how Americans use, and react to the word.

The way I see it, we frame actions as PC to diffuse their significance. This hit home last month as I talked to a student about her new “action hero” t-shirt, part of a college sponsored anti-racism, sexism, violence effort. The student eagerly volunteered that she’d gone out of her way and waited in line for the coveted garment, so I asked her what it was about. “Oh, just some PC stuff” she replied breezily. End of conversation.

Last I checked, diminishing any of the “isms” mentioned on the “action-hero” shirt is vital work. Work that allows previously excluded people to participate safely, and comfortably in the public sphere. Work that benefits society as a whole. When we label a cause PC, however, it is reduced to just being PC-- the only reason to take it up is to hew to a party line. Then we are able to dismiss it without thought.

Similarly, we call things politically incorrect to make bigotry, harassment, disrespect, just plain meanness more palatable. Those are all words whose meaning we understand, and take seriously. Labeling an action harassment, or mean, for that matter, condemns the perpetrator, and acknowledges the damage it does. Labeling an action politically incorrect does neither. Instead, it suggests the only harm in the action is that it is unpopular, and the worst damage it does is insult an over-sensitive, un-specified other. In some circles, it even gives the perpetrator a rogue-ish charm.

When seen in this light, the model of political (in)correctness is a barrier, not an aid, to social change. That’s why it makes me cringe. I wish I understood why the phrase holds such transformative power. Many ideas follow other orthodoxies without becoming one dimensional. Any thoughts?

For now though, I’ll just keep coming up with other ways to talk about progressive causes I care about. It isn’t hard. While many things worth doing are also PC, few things are worth doing because they are PC.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Air Out Your Closet

Happy Coming out day everybody! Celebrate by calling your Congressmen to come out in favor of a trans-inclusive ENDA. (more on that later).

When you're done with that, watch this concise bit on marriage equality. It's courtsey of Pam's House Blend, my new favorite blog.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What I Wouldn't Do With My Spare Millions

(WIWDWMSM for those of you who prefer acronyms)

When I was in MD recently, messages like these were a noticeable presence. They piqued my curiosity.Marriage works? Heck, bank robbery “works” if your aim is to get sacks of cash. Lots of things work, but I don’t see them floating around the city on the sides of buses.

Oh, right, it’s a message about talking about sex, and relationships. I was confused.

It turns out this ad campaign is all about ending teen pregnancy. Which promoting marriage will do, of course. If kids know magical marriage is they will forget about sex, and wait around dreamily for prince charming to propose. Unless they are guys---wouldn’t want them turning out homos--- the guys will stop thinking about sex and start acting responsibly virile. I am so happy I was exposed to this effective, hard hitting campaign. Can’t wait to go get that marriage license.

*****End Sarcasm*****

This is the oddest abstinence until marriage campaign I have ever seen. If you think sex should be reserved for husband-wife procreative uses, just come out and say it. If you care about preventing teen pregnancy, skip the abstinence only message. It doesn’t work. Instead, give kids actual information about sexual health, birth control, and building healthy relationships. If you care about ending poverty, building health families, which the adds certainly hint at, work for better education, day care, health care, anything. Stop wasting money on inane billboards.

It is tempting to poke holes in the message for pages: does marriage alone cause the promised goodies, or are the two just correlated? What if the baby’s dad is a lying sack of sh—t abuser? Does marriage work then? What about same-sex couples who want to get married, but can’t? Instead I will assume the campaign’s shortcomings are obvious and stop now.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction

Thanks to the VT department of transportation for reminding us to be wary of houses of worship.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Even Funnier

Friday Night Funnies

Scene: walking home from the farmers’ market this unseasonably warm October evening.

B: You know, I really like buying local meat,”

CD: Snaps out of admiring the late season local tomatoes to wonder why girlfriend is lavishing love on the grass-fed ground chuck: Why?

B: In short, local meat is better for the environment than that factory farmed stuff.

CD: But mass produced vegetables are bad for the environment too.

B: I know. Why do you think I boycott vegetables?

And in doing so single-handedly keep the Hot Pocket industry afloat.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Its getting hot in here?

This afternoon I went swimming. In Vermont. In October. Voluntarily.

On an October day like this, when one is sitting outside in shorts & a t-shirt after a dip in the river, it is hard not to think about Global warming.

Global warming is about the earth’s climate----trends in weather---- getting hotter. One warm day does not global warming make. Even so, looking back over the past decade I remember a parade of warm winters, when we didn’t heat until the end of December, when it thawed in January, and so on. Since "atypically" warm winters are typical it is hard to resist linking shorter term weather observations to the reality of climate change.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Couldn't Have Said it Better Myself

"In this country we have a real problem with women and power. If people don’t stop saying incredibly sexist things about Hillary Clinton, I may just have to vote for her."

-Kathy Pollitt (from an interview with Deboarah Solomon, NYT Magazine 9/23/07)

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Little Wit to Start the Week

I saw this bumper sticker last week, it made me think, and since the UAW started striking today it seems relevant.

The church can take credit too. They called for a day of rest and worship first, but the bumpersticker makers have a point: without organizers the 40 hour workweek would be a reality for even fewer folks than it is now.

Whether you believe it or not, a well known idea about unions is that they help lazy, underperforming people keep jobs, to the detriment of motivated workers, and companies. This month's Vermont Women has an article about the nurses' union at Fletcher Allen. A few people at the hospital express that idea in the article, but when pressed can't cite concrete examples.

All of this is very interesting to a (relatively) new member of the workforce.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hang onto your Uteruses, Ladies

Or is it uteri?
A district judge in Illinois blocked the opening of the Aurora Planned Parenthood facility. Read all about it at Feministing, 'cuz I have to go to work. Here is my initial thought though, when it comes to womens health, Americans, judges included, feel increasingly free to act based on their own discomfort, not based on legal precedent or what's good for public health. Shameful & Scary.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

On Growing Older

By most measures I’m finally an adult: I support myself by holding down a full time job, own pants that need dry-cleaning, and even act mature from time to time. Lately though, I’ve been feeling young. While in school I didn’t feel young. This is not to say I had illusions of adulthood--- those are hard to have when the most important decision you make is whether to take chemistry or biology. Since I interacted largely with people my age or younger, however, it was hard to feel old. These days though I’m usually the youngest person in the room. Hanging out with people who voted against Reagan is fine, they are usually “hipper” than me anyway, but it sure makes me feel more like a young adult than when I actually was one.

My intent was to write a whole post without mentioning sex, or sounding angry, but good old Maryland ruined that plan. Two days ago, the state supreme court upheld a decades old statute limiting marriage to man-woman couples. The court ruled that the statute doesn't discriminate on the basis of sex, homos aren't a "suspect class" deserving of legal protection, and that there is rational interest in saving marriage for the heteros. Ugh.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Timeless Humor, Unfortunately

From the Onion, October 4, 2000:

Interviewer- Last week, the FDA approved the controversial French abortion pill RU-486, permitting non-surgical abortions in the U.S. for the first time . . . . What do you think?

Patrick Klennert, TV Repairman: "Now, hold on there. Isn't there a line in The Bible specifically prohibiting safe, non-invasive, affordable medical procedures for women?"

The piece has stuck in my mind since I first read it, in the summer of 2001. Rereading it, I chuckle because it is a fake interview, in a spoof newspaper. The realness of it stings. As I think about it, my laughter begins to come from a place of cynicism, nervousness, and then fades out.

The anti-choice cause du jour is trying to deny women in Aurora, Illinois health care access by blocking the opening of a Planned Parenthood health center there. These folks aren’t just opposed to abortion, they are also opposed to the preventative care (including birth control) the center offers.

Why? I don’t care to speculate. Following their unreasonable reasoning is a distraction from the issue at hand: extremist protestors, with ties to violent individuals, are trying to block the opening of a clinic, not on any reasonable legal grounds, but because they are opposed to women having sex without giving birth nine months later.

For those of you who’ve missed my subtle cues, I take this personally. As my current favorite Supreme pointed out last April, in order to achieve equality, a woman must be able to control if and when she has kids. Amen. Furthermore, at their core, anti-birth control arguments rest on a belief that enjoying non procreative sex is immoral. As you might guess, this dyke disagrees.

Counter the protestors by clicking here to display a ribbon in support of the clinic. If you are more ambitiously pro-choice speak up in your community, write a letter to the editor, donate to a clinic. Do something for the care and feeding of our rights. Right now they sure need it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Maybe He is Newsworthy After All

What does one have to do to get arrested for disorderly conduct? In the case of Larry Craig, tapping his foot in the wrong restroom stall sufficed. Basically the guy was arrested for flirting, albeit in a bizarre way, and with a police officer. Hard as it is to side with a man of Craig’s voting record, it irks me that what he did is criminal. Ellen Goodman wrote a great column on this.

At times like these, being a lawyer sure would come in handy. For starters, how does the law define disorderly conduct. Next, why is flirting, or foot tapping disorderly? Findlaw.com states disorderly conduct is a “catch-all crime” used “to keep the peace when a person is behaving in a disruptive manner, but presents no serious public danger.”A peek at Minnesota’s statute is helpful. In MN being “disorderly” can get you arrested if you are “brawling,” disrupting “lawful assembly” or if you are “offensive, obscene, abusive or boisterous.” Craig wasn’t fighting, or interfering with lawful assembly, so his arrest must have been based on the last category, which is pretty subjective. I am not reassured that offending a policeman is arrest worthy, and would like to understand why this does not conflict with the First Amendment. Any scholars out there want to weigh in?

Some odd-balls of the right wing variety think Craig was charged because he’s conservative. You know, its part of the liberal media/ liberal courts conspiracy to pervert America’s soul, or some such drivel. That analysis ignores the fact that anti-gay conservatives benefit from this debacle. Craig’s arrest enforces the notion that acting gay is perverse and, quite literally, criminal. Also, the GOP gets to appeal to their conservative base, the Christian right especially, by publicly purging Craig for actions the base finds morally repugnant. In this way, the situation benefits the Cheney types more than the Clinton types, and all at the expense of Joe Gay.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Leave it to the Professionals

I’m tempted to write about Fred Thompson’s Actor/President campaign ads, but I’m too tired to pull off strident and witty, so we’ll let that alone for now.

My eyelids are another tempting topic. You see, they are quite sunburned. Something tells me though, that the post would only interest readers who are both:
1) exhausted to the point of delirium
2) Me

This Friday I’ll let the professionals handle blogging. Visit RH reality check for a painful yet informative video on why the Global Gag Rule is deadly. The Senate voted to repeal the law last night. George “I’m all about freedom, for people who share my ideology” W. Bush will veto the repeal, so get ready to give him hell. Actually, get ready to give your congressman hell, chances they’d override the veto may be slim, but chances Lame Duck W. will do anything are non-existent. That’s for another day though, right now it’s Friday, relax, sip a beer, enjoy life.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Two Things I Know for Sure

1) Lately the GOP has perpetuated a culture of shame around sex*. A growing faction of the party paints premarital sex as destructive, single parents as irresponsible, women who have abortions as evil, ditto women who take birth control. Of course, in their eyes, gays make the short list of threats to family values too. I’m guessing it’s ‘cause we have non-heterosexual sex, outside of wedlock, how shameful**.

2) Larry Craig’s exposed genitals have been getting more, er, coverage than they deserve. It is important for Americans to know when our leaders don’t hold themselves to standards to which they would hold others. Also there is perverse pleasure in watching the hypocrisy of moral majority types unfold. Even so, does this minor story really need to fill a news cycle? If it must, can we make things more exciting by filling in details. Exactly what is lewd & lascivious conduct anyway? But really, Craig’s marital infidelity is worth way less airtime than actual news like, say, the attorney general’s resignation, the war in Iraq, mismanagement of Katrina clean up funds.

Ps. Craig, thanks for clarifying that you're not gay. The (alleged) cruising had me confused. I’m glad to know you aren’t, ‘cause you sure are creepy.

*Okay, they’ve been doing it as long as I’ve been alive. Wait, Wait, not doing “IT,” mind you, it’s only okay to “do IT” for procreative purposes. Unless you are a powerful (preferably white) man who acts like sex is immoral. Then, “doing IT” for pleasure is okay.

**All the flap around gay marriage does suggest that queer sex inside of wedlock would be just as threatening to them. Go figure.

Two Years Later (aka Homeland Insecurity)

Two years ago today, Hurricane Katrina was all over the news, and in south Florida there wasn’t much else to do, so I was watching. My sense of dread as hurricane Katrina headed for the gulf coast was tempered by ignorance of how much damage a hurricane could do.

To mark the 2nd Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, B & I have been watching When The Levees Broke. The scale of the tragedy is mind boggling. Even more devastating is the extent to which it was preventable. I admire the strength of Gulf Coast residents who survived not only the storm, but also its aftermath. They were beset by government negligence and apathy. Negligence was inadequate levees, evacuation procedures, and officials ill-prepared to deploy relief efforts. Apathy was the federal relief arriving at the scene days later, the president continuing business as usual. No human should have to endure the conditions they did. We can’t control the weather, but we can control our response to it. In this case the response was piss poor.

Two years after Katrina, we are rebuilding at a glacial pace, and I see no evidence we are better prepared for a national disaster of that scale. We are obligated to help each other in times of need. Over generations we’ve created public structures to do just that. When these structures can respond effectively to a disaster of Katrina’s proportions I’ll feel better about so called “Homeland Security”.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Return of Photogenic Veggies!

Actually, a more apt title would be "the return me having time to photograph vegetables."

Sunday, August 19, 2007


As John Stewart put it, liberal politicians tie themselves in knots “trying to reassure the gay community how much they support them, while reassuring the rest of the country that they don’t completely support them.” Around here, it’s playing out like this: the leadership in the legislature has convened a commission to asses public attitudes about marriage equality. It’s an oh-so transparent attempt to put off a vote on marriage equality until after the 2008 election. Politicians aren’t going to alienate the homophobes by introducing marriage legislation right before an election. The commission lets them look like they are doing something for us without actually doing something for us, and risking their seats in the process. This might be a baby step in the right direction, maybe. Forgive me for suspending my gratitude until something actually happens.

In case you were wondering why marriage equality is necessary, even in states with civil unions, here’s one more reason: Until we have marriage rights, unscrupulous sorts will wiggle out of granting benefits to LGBTQ spouses at every available opportunity. Look at Vermont, the first state in the union to grant civil unions. By law, these unions, not incidentally only available to same sex couples, provide all the benefits that the state gives to married couples. But wait, even in friendly Vermont this doesn’t always pan out. One example, the Corporate Tax department refuses to acknowledge civil unions, thus subjecting same-sex spouses to tax penalties that married hetero couples don’t face. Bottom line, in this way, and in many others, the separate status of civil unions has not led to full equality.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Such Is Life

There was a time when I read every newspaper I could get my hands on. It gave me a vague idea of what was going on in the world, and plenty of fodder for a blog. So I started blogging. Now I spend my free time blogging, which leaves less time to know my subject matter. Solution? No more work!
Anybody want to be my sugar mama?
(Yes, B you can share the goodies)
(Or better yet, be the sugar mama).

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

In My Dreams

Foiled Again!

Geeze louise, is it me, or is the public library getting more prudish? I have this really snappy image to post, but can't view it. Why? Because it contains the word sex! Geeze lousie, that is one harsh filter. There are plenty of boring ways to use the word sex: biological sex, sex-ed, sex in missionary position-- you get the picture.

The quandry is this: I can't get too mad that would be biting the hand that feeds (my mind), provides me with internet, and is a constant source of nice librarians bearing good book recommendations.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Sometimes the Left Side of the Aisle is Right-on:

The GOP’s assault on Women’s rights, civil liberties, the environment, etc got you down? As Rep Henry Waxman pointed out last week, don’t take it personally “Bush has also declared war on the Enlightenment.”

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Great Start to the Week

My dad always says don’t buy fish on a Monday because odds are low it will be fresh. I can be slow to admit when the guy is right. It’s true though, buying sushi yesterday, in a sketchy restaurant, hours from any body of water hospitable to tuna no less, was not a recipe for gastrointestinal bliss. Ugh.

(caution, not-so original rant ahead).

Speaking of things that make me nauseous, Bush, for the zillionth time, played the fear card, saying we need to follow his Iraq policy “for the sake of our children & grandchildren.” Whenever he invokes the future, or family, I reach for the barf bag. W, buddy, global warming will harm future generations, so will your limits on stem cell research, erosion of women’s reproductive health options, &, more broadly, lack of attention to the health care crisis. The only thing staler than this war is W’s smug bullshit.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Recently Acquired Knowledge

For starters, I didn’t know, that in addition to being an initialism for Canadian Standards Association, CSA stands for community supported agriculture. I also was unaware of the twisty green stalks pictured above—garlic scapes. Then I joined a CSA. How wonderful it is to discover a whole new vegetable. Well not really a whole new vegetable, just the stalk of a garlic flower plus the un-opened bud. Aren’t they pretty?

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Supremely Unproductive Jurisprudence

For the briefest second after John Roberts became Chief Justice of the United States I thought “he’s young, which sucks in general, but at least that means we can put to rest worries of having a Chief Justice named Antonin Scalia.” Now that we’ve seen his court in action the thought is NO consolation.

The substance of the school integration decision alone was enough to make Friday’s NY times depressing. On top of it all, the image plastered front in center on the first page gave me the willies. It was a picture of the supremes, grouped according to their votes in the case, and the majority looked right spry compared to the dissenters. One can’t deny it, the neo-cons will leave a legacy.

I am not a legal scholar, or a historian, but a few thoughts inspired by the school integration case:

  • Juan Williams has an interesting analysis of the situation. Basically it’s that getting rid of de jure segregation neither got rid of de facto segregation, nor closed the achievement gap between students of color and white students, so we should stop focusing on racial integration, and start focusing on improving all schools, so every kid gets a good education. Yes, every kid should get a good education, but is his idea realistic? We Americans still harbor lots of race and class prejudice, and the successful among us tend to believe society is a meritocracy. Given this climate, I can’t see school reform happening equally across the board, and it doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict that those students who get the short shrift will mostly be poor and/or minorities. Not rocket science, just a reality-based hunch.
  • My favorite quotation in Friday's coverage was from a Columbia law professor who worked on Brown: “Following Brown that was massive resistance. This is essentially the rebirth of massive resistance in a more acceptable form” (NYT, 6/29/07).
  • I’m not going to re-hash why “color-blindness” is mostly just in practice a way to ignore racism. Take a look at Lesboprof for that, and a compelling reaction to the decision.
  • Let’s all keep in mind that ending de jure segregation hasn’t lead to much integration. 53 years after Brown “70% of black students attend schools that are 2/3 black & Hispanic” & “the average while student attends a school that is 80% white” (NY times 6/29/07). Maybe that suggests we haven’t given it enough time. Maybe the socioeconomic, and “white people are afraid of black people” factors that keep us sorted by color will go away, albeit slowly, if we continue business as usual. What I tend to think it suggests is that us white people, yes, myself included, need to acknowledge that we are still benefiting from racism, and work with the entire nation (nope, not just folks who look like us) to change that. Note to the supremes: pretending that law and society are color blind does not count. In the end we will all benefit.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Rites of Passage

There are those big “growing up” moments, first kiss, first paycheck, graduation, etc, and then there are the silly ones. Allow me to elaborate on the latter.

Yesterday I bought a bottle of wine without being carded. I usually don’t mind being asked for ID--- after a few years one gets used to it, and my license picture isn’t THAT bad. I felt very smug and grown-up. So grown up that I didn’t brag to anyone about the experience. Oops, didn’t brag until now.

Today a friend and I found ourselves in a public restroom chugging water out of Dixie cups. We opted for the women’s room since, as he observed, they tend to be cleaner. As we were fixing to leave a woman came in. She yelped and stopped in her tracks to stare at us. We brushed past, leaving her to wonder whether she was in the right bathroom. Déjà vu all over again, but the encounter left me smiling. These things feel a lot better when one has a partner in crime. Guess I’m not too old to be read as an adolescent boy after all.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Friday Night at the Movies

I kicked off the weekend by watching The Future of Food, a documentary about GM (genetically modified) food. It was the Simpson’s Tomacco episode minus Bart, Homer, and a happy ending. Depressing stuff, but worth watching.

I went to the screening wary of our (the USA’s) current food system for a myriad of non-GM reasons. That’s a whole ‘nother post. Heck, I was even wary of GM foods specifically. Cross-pollination and the spread of seeds is effectively impossible to control, so once we release GM plants there is no going back. That reason alone had me solidly behind safety studies, and labeling GM products as such.

What I hadn’t yet wrapped my mind around was how shortsighted and thuggish GM companies are in their pursuit of profit. On the one hand, Montsanto sues farmers who are the unwitting growers of their crops due to seed spread, cross-pollination, etc. How farmers can avoid that? I am not sure. As long as there are birds, humans, wind, seeds & pollen will spread. Adding to that threat is the fact that agricultural areas are chock full of Montsanto test plots, but farmers can’t know whether they are near one. That’s proprietary information. On the other hand, they are inserting terminator genes into their product. Plants with these genes don’t reproduce. That is a huge threat to the food supply, and renders ludicrous claims that GM companies are trying to end world hunger. What they are really trying to do is make farmers, and in turn eaters completely dependent on their product.

In a similar spirit of sly greed, Montsanto patents plants. Ordinary old plants, not just ones with designer genes. They didn’t invent the plant. They didn’t discover the plant. If they are the first to the patent office though, the variety is theirs, and if you are growing it you have to pay up. No one patented sarcasm yet---race you to the US Patent & Trademark Office.

In case you were wondering, here’s why the movie picks on Montsanto so much: with “roughly 90 percent of GE soy, cotton and canola seed markets and has a large piece of the corn seed market” they are the biggest game in town.” Moreover, they are mighty cozy with the US gov’t Don’t worry, Dems too, its fair and balanced.

I wanted to run straight from the movie to the farm stand. My craving for local veggies, was tempered by the prevasiveness of GM foods. If its organic you know its not GM, but that’s about it. I really don’t know whether the family farm down the road is GM free. Chances are better there than at the supermarket though, and at least that produce hasn’t taken a fossil fuel powered journey around the world before it hits my stomach.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


When visiting this site over the summer , keep in mind the following principle: the length of a post is inversely proportional to the temperature and sunshine surrounding the writer. In the pseudo reality of this blog it is just as real as the law of gravity

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean Can’t Dance is going on summer vacation of sorts. The sun and warm weather won’t last a week in these parts.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Can I Speak to the Person in Charge?

B: I don't know what you are thinking. I'm not exactly inside your head.

Me: Makes two of us. If you find anyone who knows what's going on in there, lemme know.

Monday, June 4, 2007

full speed ahead

Ego be dammed--- I've added a stat counter.
Besides, it is quality, not quantity that matters, and you are a quality reader.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Speaking of Greenhouse Gases

Michael Griffin, a NASA big wig was interviewed on NPR this morning. Was there a Bush goon waiting in the wings to exile Griffin if he uttered anything politically inconvenient? Griffin was so cautious and obfuscatory when the conversation turned to global warming that you’ll have to forgive me for imagining as much.

Two things he said particularly irritated my sense of reality. First off, “I am not sure it is fair to say [global] warming is a problem me must wrestle with (sic). To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth's climate today is the optimal climate.” This after he acknowledged the scientific consensus that global warming exists, and homo sapiens activity is driving it. Global demand for fossil fuel is increasing. In so far as our excess emissions contribute to the rising mercury, as long as this trend continues all signs point to continued global warming. Put aside whether the current climate is optimal or not. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that our societies are adapted to the current climate, so as the climate changes we will have to do things differently. Plants are already migrating towards the poles, and native Alaskans, beleagured by melting permafrost in the other direction. These are just two examples. Whether you are a shipping tycoon hoping for newly navigable trans-arctic routes, or a farmer worrying about desertification, climate change is “a matter requiring a solution”—a problem. At this point, pretending otherwise is a stale argument.

Later Griffin accuses folks who want to deal with global warming of arrogance and wanting to decide “which climate is best for all human beings.” Demagogues of all stripes play this card. They call the opposition an alienated elite who wants to rule the average joe, all in order to imply their side stands up for the common man. But what an odd time to pull that trick! Americans, roughly 5% of the worlds population, didn’t consult the rest of the world before bingeing on fossil fuels. We have already played a disproportionate role in altering the world’s climate. It is hard to acknowledge that global warming has an anthropogenic component and ignore that. Griffin’s claim just draws more attention to our arrogance.

If you want to learn more about denial, listen to Griffin’s interview. If you want to learn about Global Warming check out the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs & Compost Here I Come

So much for “look before you leap;” peer pressure wins every time, which is a round about way of saying I’ve joined an eco team started by my co-worker. The team is a support-group of sorts for people who want to reduce their individual carbon emissions. Us aspiring Captain Planets have to stick together. It will be fun if we get something done, and maddening if we pat ourselves on the back while going nowhere.

The cynic in me is yelling “the difference you four make will be statistically insignificant in the context of the USA, heck in the context of your town.” My conscience, however, tends to think such cynical voices are an excuse for inaction. If everyone follows that line of thinking, we’ll never get anywhere. So I’m doing the eco-team, but damned if I’ll feel smug about it.

Monday, May 21, 2007

is feminist a dirty word?

Right now I am in the public library trying to discover a new blog. Trying, not succeeding. So far I can see the posts, but the comment policy is off limits. My attempts to navigate there are thwarted by a pesky: “access has been denied for the following reason: banned phrase found.” What message could inspire more curiosity? Believe you me public library, my imagination has conjured up a much lewder phrase than appears on the forbidden page.

What is lewd anyway, and I do I really want the library board deciding? One answer is that libraries are community space; communities should be able to set standards of conduct; and if I have a problem with the internet use policy I should appeal to the community to change it, or not use their internet. Besides, think of the children you crazy dyke—without web filters they’ll ruin the sanctity of libraries, not to mention their brains, by looking up smut.

Will my blog be blocked for that last sentence?

What sort of banable material is on Lucky White Girl? From what I’ve seen so far, it is a nice feminist, pro-NPR, anti-global warming type of blog, the kind you’d take home to meet the parents. Well, the presence of censor-worthy content has certainly made me want to read more.

Don’t worry, the irony has not escaped me. The same sensibility pulled racial or homophobic speech largely out of the realm of the acceptable is keeping me from enjoying a feminist blog. This makes me wish I knew more of what the law, and some cool scholars, have to say on free speech. Especially what they have to say about the distinction between public and private spaces, and between speech and other conduct. Is the internet a public space? What about the public library? In my mind there is a distinction, however blurred and conditional, between speech that offends and speech that endangers. Also between speech that offends and speech that limits some folks’ ability to occupy a space in the same way the majority does. I am just blogging off the cuff here though, no real authority.

I more annoyed at my inadvertent acceptance of the content filtering software than I am at its presence. Maybe when I signed up for the library network I agreed to an acceptable use policy that said something about that. I don’t recall. Certainly when I logged on this time, there was no notification. A quick perusal of the library home page doesn’t reveal an “acceptable use policy” either. Web users should know what they are getting into.

I am not getting all worked up over this one. Not by a long shot. From the MPAA to Google, there are much more powerful organizations controlling what gets said in the public sphere and how we say it. It is just one of those examples of de facto censorship alive and well when you don’t even know it is happening. Couldn’t resist sharing.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Me, Me, Me & You

I have resisted the urge to install a hit counter. One could say it’s a sign I blog not for the benefit of adoring fans, but for myself. One is on to something. The part of myself for which I blog is my large and somewhat fragile ego. At press time this blog has only had 43 profile views. 20 of those are me checking to see how many people have checked out my profile. That datum does not suggest I have accumulated hordes of eager readers. So, to avoid damage to my ego I will not install a hit counter at this time.

Another thing that has been conspicuously absent from Can’t Dance: the First Ten Posts is mention of my sweetie. It’s true, she might upstage me, but that’s no excuse—my ego is used to it. It all boils down to lack of creativity. We couldn’t agree on a witty blog name. Every name I suggested was met with a look that said “ Do that and you are sleeping alone. Outside. Without the benefit of my Thermarest®.” We still haven’t agreed on a name. Luckily it is May now, so I could probably survive a few nights outside. Besides, I have saved up for my very own Thermarest®, thank you very much. My sweetie’s pseudonym shall henceforth be BTPB, B for short.

Most of you, B included, are scratching your heads over this one, so allow me to explain. It is a roundabout reference to Better Than Chocolate, the corniest movie ever. We had high expectations for the film, and both found it painful to watch. It was, however, worth the rental fee: It is one of the only movies we have the same opinion of, and we coined a new term. We now refer to unspectacular things as “better than chocolate.”

BTPB is not a typo. Calling one’s lover the title of a sapphic flick seemed cloying, nauseating even. B is definitely not cloying. Not to mention, she nixed that one, and I don’t really want to sleep outside. So I’ve settled for Better than Peanutbutter, high praise coming from me, and while we haven’t agreed to it, B hasn’t vetoed it either. Remember dear, I love you for your sense of humor.

Really though, a blog name is the least of our semantic challenges. More on that later.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Last week some asshole(s?) vandalized RU12, the queer community center. My initial reaction to the news was anger and confusion. Why do something like that? Throwing bricks through a window in the dead of night suggests cowardice. Throwing them hard enough to break windows and damage the interior of the building on their way down suggests a really strong arm, or some mechanical advantage. Perhaps I assume the destructiveness indicates insecurity on the part of the perpetrator because I’d only resort to violence if physically threatened. In the end, there is no reasonable reason to do something like that. I won’t try to find one.

But I will be angry. It pisses me off that the folks who work in the center can’t feel safe. It pisses me off that RU12 has to divert time and money from their work at building community and keeping queers safe to clean up after such jerks. It pisses me off that there needs to be a concerted effort to keep queers safe in the first place.

Saturday, Bill O’Reilly cornered Bill Lippert (a state legislator) in the statehouse and proceeded to act like, well, a school yard bully. Ostensibly, the ambush was because Lippert doesn’t back Jessica’s Law, a mandatory minimum for sex offenders. A glance at Lippert’s legislative legacy, however, reveals (shockingly) that he is as ready to throw the book at sex offenders as the next guy. So why the vitriol?

Not surprisingly, Lippert is a lightning rod for slime balls. Personalities like O’Reilly are motivated by ratings. Apparently some people get off on watching their acolytes sling accusations of moral degeneracy at, well, anyone to the left of Reagan. That Lippert is a gay man who *gasp* works for gay rights just adds to the fun.

Yup, you guessed it: I am still pissed off. Why is it still okay to lash out at people who seem different? I know I am not alone in my anger at these incidents. Clearly, however, such actions are still accepted by some. Otherwise they would have stopped long ago.

You could say there is a silver lining. Such blatant hostility startles homos like me,
people who have happened into a safe bubble in which they can be (almost) as queer as they please without fear of retribution. Maybe it even angers us to the point of action. But is that really a silver lining? I’d like to believe that the Bill Lipperts and RU12s of the world don’t need to be harmed for me to be motivated.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

How ‘Bout Them Freedom Fries

84% of registered voters showed up at the polls in France this Sunday (NY times). Let’s do that on this side of the pond in 2008*.

*While we’re at it, can we avoid electing a right wing ideologue?

Sunday, May 6, 2007

There is Symbolism in here Somewhere

Yesterday I awakened so enthusiastically that looking back on the event, even I, a morning person, feel a bit grossed out. It was green-up day--- a statewide campaign to pick up after ourselves, and I was ready to go.

The idea makes a lot of sense. All winter long there is enough snow to, for the most part, hide our littery ways, and certainly enough to thwart all but the most devoted cleaner-up-ers. By may (thankfully) there isn’t snow left to hide the 5 or so months of trash, so some spring cleaning is in order. Compared to la cite d’ou je viens, hey compared to most places in the US, there isn’t much trash. That just makes the idea even cooler. Besides, it is an excuse to wander aimlessly, and possibly befriend some neighbors while chipping away at one’s liberal-white person guilt complex. To resist such an opportunity takes more discipline than I have, or so I thought.

I bounced over to the town clerk’s office for an area assignment, and a bright green trash bag. But wait, the parking lot was empty, the building locked. There was no clerk to be found. Not to be deterred, I scurried home “someone will be there by 9 am,” I thought, as I plunged into a personal green-up day, which consisted of vacuuming the living room. 9 rolled around and things looked more promising. There was a cluster of cleaners collecting cans in the cemetery, and girls gathering garbage on the green, but no town clerk. Foiled again. As a token sign of participation I picked up a scrap of neon orange flagging on the way home.

My intent was to get a regular old garbage bag and join the fun. Then it occurred to me: my 8 gallon white kitchen bag would stick out amongst the green-up bags as much as I would in group of neighbors who’d known each other for years. Shyness, an uncharacteristic emotion, overcame me. So instead of greening-up I played the stereotypical American and hopped in the car to go buy stuff. The irony made me smile.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


For the second time in as many days I drove home at a snails pace. It was a refreshing change from last weeks commute though, which was slowed by frozen precipitation. This time I was stuck behind a manure spreader. That’s a sign of mud-season spring if there ever was one.

Last year come April I was surprised when cows appeared in a field down the road. Where had they been all winter? At first I thought “come December cows must make like retirees and hop a train to Florida where they spend the winter doing . . . um . . . er . . . whatever one does in Florida. But wait, cows used to VT cloud cover would roast in sunny FL. They’d come back indistinguishable from McDonald’s burgers. Bovine migration is clearly not the answer.”

The mystery of my quadruped neighbors’ winter digs sat in the back of my mind until one day at work. “Where do cows go in the winter?” I asked my unsuspecting boss as we sped past farms en route to a site. The fit of laughter that followed made driving difficult. She’s the patient sort though, so once we were back on the road and she could talk without snorting coffee out her nose she calmly answered my question.

Oops. I try not to let my insanity show the first month on the job. Anything to hang onto one’s dignity. At least my question is resolved: cows spend the winter like us, they put on down vests, huddle in front of the heater, and slurp hot tea.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Gonzales v Carhart

Gonzales v Carhartt

The so called partial birth abortion ban doesn’t intend to protect women or fetuses. It isn’t only an effort to end post-viability abortion, it isn’t an effort to “draw a bright line between abortion & infanticide,” as congressmen so smugly claim, nor is it based on medical/public health concerns. It doesn’t even make much sense.

The ban seriously jeopardizes women’s health. We can no longer take for granted the right to make reproductive decisions based on medical knowledge and individual needs. Period. Don’t just notice this in passing. Read Justice Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion (starts on pg 54). Read the majority opinion. Read the law it upholds.

I am angry. Yesterday, when the news broke, I was seeing too much red to see the keyboard. For now the most constructive thing I can say is read the dissenting opinion. Justice Ginsburg gets to the heart of the matter: the federal abortion ban “and the court’s defense of it, cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at” women’s right to an abortion, “a right declared again and again by this Court—and with increasing comprehension of its centrality to women’s lives”

Sunday, April 15, 2007

April, you're such a tease

My discipline wanes with the melting snow. In March cross-country skiing is a treat. In April bundling up is too much of a hassle.

The first weekend of April was painfully beautiful. All of a sudden the sky, buildings, boxcars on the passing train, everything that looks so flat in the winter, when we are the filling in a gray sandwich of sky and clouds, dazzled. Even the muddy ground appeared vibrant. All this color upstaged the thrill of going outside without a down vest and mittens. My thawing toes, however, were notable. On days like this, a flatlander can’t help but expect a normal spring.

For me, normal lies (not so far) south of the Mason Dixon line. Down there puffy fruit trees bloom overnight. They capture one’s attention until the rest of the landscape turns green. While the flora struts its stuff, the temperature winds lazily upward. July will bring swampy humidity, but May is heaven so who cares?

Today’s slush-storm is a rude reality check. Up here, far closer to Canada than any outpost of the confederacy, spring would be a euphemism for the stretch between winter and summer. Would be if anyone ever bothered to use the word. Instead they call it like it is, mud season. Maybe it’s a survival technique ---don’t want to get one’s hopes up for nothing. Maybe it’s a warning—flatlanders beware: you’re in for a rough few months. Whatever the origin, one thing is for sure: every mud season I witness makes winter seem better and better.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Well, what are YOU doing here?

Dammed if I know what I’m doing in the blogosphere. I may be uptight but I’ll admit many things go better without a plan: road-trips, tough-chats with the boss, life, to name a few. Blogs I’ve read have a nice spontaneity about them that suggests the same is true of blogging. So, true to form, the control freak that rules my brain just bullied my gut instinct into shutting up, and I, on post number three, will explore my motivation for blogging.

So far the act of writing is reason enough. I am not by nature a concise person. Disorganized, poorly punctuated, rambling, free-associations bang around in my old dome-piece all day long. Squeezing several days worth of those into something concise enough to “read well” is rather satisfying. When I can imagine the reader (hello, are any of you out there?) laughing it is even more so. This is a surprise. I spent the better part of my education dreading papers, essay tests, really any occaison I had to put pen to paper with the knowledge someone else would read my handiwork. I like to think I’ve grown as a person, but probably its just the pseudo-anonymity of the internet.

Being a reader, though is what got me started. From the NY times, to fiction, to those freebies papers you find in the corner store, I’ll read anything, just to hear what folks have to say. If something has printed on paper and displayed in a place from which I can purchase it/borrow it though, an editor, usually someone other than the writer, has deemed it worthy of publication. I accept that. Before the internet, I did so without thinking about the writing that didn’t make the cut. Blogs, the written word without that middleman, have made me a more active reader, one who views reading as a form of communication in symbiosis with writing, which has attracted me, a reader, to writing.

What about you? Why do you blog? Read blogs? Bring on the comments, I’d love to hear.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

a little self righteous indignation, if you please

According to this week’s Advocate cover story, Hillary Clinton & Barack Obama are both completely comfortable with gays (I’d give a direct quotation, but I couldn’t bring my cheap-ass self to purchase the magazine). . Okay. Note to self: when you, Barack & Hillary are at a cocktail party, it is okay to chat. Your flaming dyke-ness won’t make them uncomfortable.

What exactly does it mean to be “comfortable with gay people” anyway? On a social/familial level it means A LOT to me. I would be devastated if the people I love and respect most saw the fact I’m queer as reason to stop loving and respecting me back. On a political & governmental level comfort is not enough.

Theoretically I care whether politicians are comfortable with gay people, because theoretically such comfort could lead to equal rights. Lets not hold our breaths though. Plenty of straight people, politicians and voters alike, are comfortable with us, but last I checked there is still a federal defense of marriage act (DOMA) on the books, trans people can be fired for being trans, and “don’t ask don’t tell” hasn’t gone away. Loads of straight people may be comfortable with us in that nebulous “It okay I’ll still be your friend way” but a large number of them are also comfortable with us as second class citizens.

What troubles me even more, is that the aforementioned laws/policies only keep LGBTQ people from embracing mainstream institutions. How is that so radical? When these things are so hard to achieve, its difficult to envision a nation where equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits of citizenship extends to the queerer of us. When folks are threatened by a man in a dress, and DOMAs are passing right and left, it is going to be an uphill battle. I suppose Hillary and Barack’s comfort is better than nothing, but its 2007, by now we deserve better.

Monday, April 2, 2007

March Sanity (In April)

As of today we know one branch of government acknowledges that the E in EPA might stand for something other than (friendly) Environment (for oil tycoons).

An agency whose mission is to “protect human health and the environment” can regulate greenhouse gases (www.epa.gov)? Craziness! One wouldn’t think a whole bunch of litigation would be necessary to arrive at that conclusion. The naïve among us might suppose the EPA would come to that conclusion on its own, based on scientific consensus regarding greenhouse gases and global warming. The naïve among us ignore the power of profits and the inertia of a fossil fuel based economy, I suppose.

Its cool to hear the Supreme Court sees the Clean Air Act as both enforceable and relevant to climate change. Unfortunately, there is a vast gap between today’s ruling and environmental policy that combats global warming. The ruling doesn’t explicitly say the EPA has to regulate greenhouse gases. You can bet there’ll be lots more litigation and lobbying before that happens.

In the meantime we Americans need to get moving. There are so many ways to conserve energy. By choosing to do so en masse we can create economic pressure to develop green products and political pressure that drives green policy. CEOs care about profit, and politicians care about re-election. That is not going to change. If environmentalism is seen as profitable, whether in terms of dollars or votes, these folks will become environmentalists. I am not delusional, just hopeful. There are significant barriers to a mass conservation movement, and change will likely be incremental. I allow myself to hope, though, that Americans will eventually muster the will and creativity to reduce our greenhouse gas output, even if it takes a little sacrifice.

Even though Massachusetts vs. Environmental Protection Agency isn’t revolutionary, I can breathe a sigh of relief. Way to go Supremes. I’d like to drive all 1056 miles round-trip just to give each of you a big hug. Don’t worry, as a token of appreciation for your green sensibilities I’ll hold back.

Friday, March 30, 2007


Last night intoxicated by fruit smoothies and good company I caved to peer pressure and fell into the blogosphere. Okay, so it was really more like gentle nudging from a peer, and I’ve had better smoothies.

Here goes.