Above the Hate: Riled Up

February 5th, 2009

Through the Gay & Lesbian Leadership SmartBrief, I read Follow the money: The network behind anti-gay funding. I decided to pick out a name and look further. I chose Maggie Gallagher, President of the National Organization for Marriage, who directed $1 million to California to promote Prop. 8. She’s a syndicated columnist for TownHall.com, which bills itself as “the Leading Conservative and Political Opinion Website.” The content and reader comments are appealing and appalling. I knew this stuff was out there. I’d just never seen it before.

I knew better than reading her column titled Above the Hate, but I did it any way. I got all riled up. So riled up that I signed up on townhall.com to post a comment to the ‘marry a goat,” “because the bible tells me so,” and other conservative comments. I also wrote an email to Maggie. It’s below.

You want ‘marriage’ to be between a man and a woman? Start advocating for the government to get out of the marriage business. Work to transfer the institution of ‘marriage’ to religious institutions where it belongs. Churches and other private institutions are allowed to discriminate. The government is not. The government can and will provide all the legal rights and responsibilities to all couples who want to make the commitment.
You and your movement is mistaken if you think domestic partnerships “provide exactly the same legal rights and benefits as marriage.” Try filing a Federal tax return with a same sex partner.
When you talk about minorities exercising their civil rights, it makes these votes and their actions even more appalling. That sidelined and disenfranchised groups would be the strongest backers of government discrimination is a little incomprehensible and very hurtful, especially in the face of a government and people who have worked hard to insure that they are and remain protected classes. We did not put the civil rights gained in the 60’s to a vote. A vote would have institutionalized discrimination, and the Supreme Court would have struck down the vote. The civil rights changes happened because of national leadership and activist courts. (I’m making the assumption that you support “blacks getting the vote”. If you don’t, which I guess is a possibility given your other views, I’m not making a very strong argument.) I see your hate and discrimination.

I have my eye on you. You are the enemy. Your support for government-sanctioned marriage is a battle cry. You do not support the US Constitution and the Supreme Court will make you and your kind look as silly and appalling as Anita Bryant, Adolph Hitler and all the racists who amplified their attacks during the civil rights movement in the 60s. (Again, unless you support separate black and white drinking fountains, et al.)
You are presumably straight. Your movement is parallel to men saying that women can’t vote, another form of discrimination that seems laughable today. Now that you as a white woman have your rights, you don’t want to extend them to anyone else.

In this column, you talk about extraordinary attacks against Prop 8 supporters. GLBTI people have been subject to attacks like these FOREVER. It’s an ongoing problem that is underreported for fear of reprisals, community experience with local law enforcement, and a hateful society. That these attacks are happening to the oppressors do not make them right. I bring it up to point out that what you consider extraordinary are common, every day events for GLBTI folks. They are common because there is social, cultural and government sanctioned discrimination that gives dimwits permission’ to beat up a fag or rape a lesbian. The marriage issue is the most vocal face of that discrimination right now. Payback? GLBTI folks have been on the receiving end of payback since the beginning. We’ve been playing nice and following the rules. That has not worked.
Your actions on marriage means that young gay and lesbian teen will continue to be teased, beaten and killed. That LGBTI adults will continue to be at the receiving end of discrimination.
Once this is resolved, the next LGBTI battle is going to be for polygamy, a right we’ll fight for, this time with the Mormon Church at our side. The government needs to get out of people’s bedrooms.

Not sure writing the letter was a good idea. I think my passion might cloud my main point: to get them to put their money and effort toward getting the government out the marriage business, my favorite compromise on this ultimately insignificant issue.

Checking out Clear WiMAX in Portland

January 7th, 2009

Clear, mobile internet access provider, had introduced WiMAX in Portland, only the second market in the US. Since my income is dependent on internet connection, I have been looking for a backup to Comcast, who is OK on a daily basis, but CLUELESS and unconcerned when my service goes out.

Clear is not looking good. I was looking for a solution that would simplify my life. My intro was a mailing that I suspect every household in their market got. It featured simple layout with a crisp green color scheme. That’s where the pleasantness and my hope for a different experience ended.

For a company named Clear, there’s a lot (and all-to-common) obfuscation going on. I first got it when I followed the URL in my mailer. My goal: to find out what the real costs would be and what the difference between home and mobile internet access. The web promotion for both named the 6-month promo price, but provided no information about eventual costs or the difference. I clicked on the Chat button and was connected to someone who knew next to nothing, parroting back what I’d just read on the web site. She referred me to technical support who did answer some of my questions before disconnecting me. My follow up call got the rest of my questions answered.

Here’s What I Wanted to Know
(and took a visit to the web site and contact with five Clear people to find out)

  • Home is a USB or Ethernet “stand up” modem (cost not pursued)
  • Mobile is a USB key modem that costs $50.
  • The mobile plan with the USB modem will not work with OS X Leopard.(3 out of 5 Clear people say it won’t work. Not very clear.)
  • The mobile plan with the USB modem will work with Windows XP running on Mac hardware.
  • Mobile can be used at home. You just need a USB slot. No speed difference.
  • Activation fee of $35 is to go month-to-month. It’s waived with a 2-year contract.
  • Account is system-wide, i.e., my Portland account will work in any Clear service area.
  • Clear Tech Support says they support Leopard and XP on a Mac. Once denied, twice confirmed.
  • Clear software must be installed on each machine to use the modem.
  • Account/Internet access is not limited by machine or user. My USB modem can be used on any hardware that has their software installed.
  • Installed software can monitor data usage (for data-limited plans).
  • Data overage costs: $10/GB. These were REALLY difficult to find out. One guy insisted there were no overage costs even though they have data-limited plans.
  • Cancellation: With contract, 7-day grace period. No contract, cancel at any time within 7-days with no penalty. Sacrifice activation fee to cancel after 7 days for no contract. Hardware: 7-day credit, otherwise you own it.
  • Contract: upgrade plan without penalty. Downgrade extends the contract. Early Termination fee is more than $35. No Contract: no fee to change/stop.
  • The only difference in monthly cost between a monthly plan and a contract for WiMAX is the $35 activation fee. It’s waved if you sign up for a contract. Why would anyone sign up for a contract?

Local Hold™ Submitted to Google

January 2nd, 2009

I posted my idea for Local Hold™ to Google Product Ideas today.

Local Hold allows users to listen to music [short for any audio content] of their own choosing while on hold. The source of the music can be from anywhere, but the default is the music they are listening to when the phone rings, whether it’s a mobile phone, land line, or VOIP.

For years, I’ve longed for a system that would allow me at least two-fold advantage over the current system for hold content. First, I would not have to listen to the crap that most companies subject their customers to. Why they think that people want to listen to inane music interrupted by frequent reminders that they are on hold and, nonetheless, important? I can get stuff done while I’m on hold. Having a human voice interrupt the music reduces my productivity by grabbing my focus, then shifting it to the reason for the call, only to have it be a false alarm.
I have digital content everywhere, and it’s starting to converge. If I’m listening to audio content on my smart phone, that would become my hold music. Laptop? Hold music. Home stereo? Hold music. Car stereo? Hold music. You get the idea.
Second, I like my music. Why should I listen to ads and music selected by Verizon, Apple, Dell, or some local utility or municipality? I shouldn’t. I’m the customer.
I hate to give this idea away because I think it will be vastly popular. However, I don’t have the resources to develop and market it. I, perhaps foolishly, still hold hope that Google will stick with its “Do No Evil” policy and treat my idea with fairness and generosity.
Vote on my idea here. (Requires Google account.)

Lead the nation forward Sam. You are in the perfect position.

December 10th, 2008

I posted this on the Portland Mercury site as a comment to a picture of Sam Adams with Gnomeland Security and Sister Krissy Fiction:

Just before the beloved Gnomeland Security crew grabbed the focus of the mayor-elect for the photo op, I was trying to talk to Sam about fixing the marriage problem.
Sam Adams will be the mayor of the biggest city in Oregon. He’s gay and in a visible leadership position. Although Multnomah County issues marriage licenses in the Portland area, I still think Sam could play a role in this solution:
Multnomah County stops issuing all marriage licenses, offering instead civil unions to all couples. All couples could experience what a bunch of crap civil unions are at the institutional and Federal level. If you want to get ‘married’ you got to go somewhere else. Multnomah County, and by association and visibility, Portland, could lead the national discussion toward the ultimate resolution: the government gets out of the marriage business and leaves that to the churches.
The activist part of me wants everyone to have to suffer through getting their government marriages changed to government civil unions, and the practical part of me says that grandfathering will be necessary.
This issue is one where the far right and the far left have a common cause: letting religions have marriage. Our constitution dictates the separation of church and State. Our marriage laws do not reflect that.
Lead the nation forward Sam. You are in the perfect position.

This is a time for leadership. Sam Adams is in a perfect place to take the national conversation to the next level. (Straight) SF Mayor Gavin showed leadership by issuing marriage licenses. Just before he did, he said (I paraphrase), “Watch me throw away my political career.” That has not been the case. Getting rid of government-sanctioned marriage of any two individuals would be wildly unpopular, yet, ultimately, it’s the solution that makes the most sense. Lead us forward Sam Adams. I’m sure the Supreme Court will back you up.

PCP and Pole Dancing: A Portland Evening

November 20th, 2008

The Portland Cello Project had a free concert tonight at the John Ross building. The small crowd in the small space had sold out in 4 hours.
While I was there, I got a message from Jen. She invited me to the Lucky Devil Lounge. Her classmates were giving pole dancing recitals. After the PCP concert, I headed to the east side of the Ross Island Bridge and saw the red sign. It looked like what it was: a strip club. The parking lot was full so I had to drive into the industrial area to park, adding to the experience. I parked next to a dairy, fully aware of the irony.
Today a friend send me an email with a quote from a play that focused on being “Gay-Ready,” ready to undergo the scrutiny of gay taste at any moment. No ‘just running to the store.’ Gay-Ready means put together at all times. As I was driving to the Lucky Devil, it occurred to me that I had a gay-ready shirt on. In fact, it’s an out-and out gay shirt. Luckily, I had a fairly plain t-shirt on and my jacket was invisible. As I thought about getting “Straight-Ready,” it occurred to me that I might have a baseball cap in the car. I did. Perfect.
Being straight-ready means blending in, thus eluding the scrutiny of straight people.
Without gay shame or self-judgment about wearing a hat indoors, I went in the club and quickly found Jen. A recital means the women’s bits are covered. It’s more about technique, which involves being sexy and/or slutty, demonstrating flexibility, clonking tall plastic shoes together, flinging hair, and using upper body strength to keep one’s self from falling. (It could be argued that flinging hair and clonking shoes is sexy and/or slutty, and therefore redundant.)
During recitals clothes can come off, but the bits stay covered. Recital night has a crowd wild with other female classmates and teachers screaming and throwing money. Boyfriends and other guys rounded out the crowd. Lucky Devil Lounge was out of tri-tip, the only thing on the menu that looked appealing. The whole thing is so weird.

Letter to the International Court of Justice

November 4th, 2008

As the Bush regime comes to an end, the outrage I’ve felt during the reign inspired me to write this letter to the the International Court of Justice in the Hauge

As a citizen of the United States, I invite you to investigate George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft and other members of the outgoing US federal government for war crimes. The United States is not above the law, and should be accountable to the world.
Thank you,
John E. Brennan

My Apple Nightmare: A Personal Note

November 3rd, 2008

A while back, when it looked like my switch to a Mac was going to be a nightmare, and not the bliss filled love fest I somehow thought it would be, I started my Switching to a Mac blog, mostly to serve as my accessible memory with a timeline for all the cases and issues. Just to say it: I couldn’t keep these records on my computers, because they have been so fritzy. Online was a much better solution.

Today was the best and worst of days with the whole situation.

Background, if you don’t care to read a summary of the details, my 24″ iMac died on Friday, Halloween, after never really working the way I thought it should. I spent 9 months on the phone with Apple. (Yes, it feels like 9 months, but I did hang up to shower occasionally.) While on the phone Friday with the highest level Apple technical support, the iMac finally gave up the ghost. The hard drive failed. I’d been telling them, “It’s the hard drive.” since at least July. They replaced my machine yesterday, using data from a 3-week old TimeMachine backup (since I took one step they suggested, I hadn’t been able to both keep my legacy TimeMachine backup and begin a new TimeMachine backup. I chose to keep my data.) This morning, I discovered that most of my email was missing.
I called the Apple store that supposedly restored my data. I was livid and enraged, but managing to hold it together. The guy I spoke with said something that tipped me over the edge. I let go with a primal, unedited, authentic, “I’m so angry” that I think they heard it at the Post Office. I also flailed, ripping the headset out of my phone. I am sorry the guy had to hear it.
I let it rip from an uncensored place and the world did not fall apart. While what I expressed today is not something I want to express often, it’s not something I want to spend a lifetime suppressing either.

Two Hours of Interesting Economic Stuff

October 10th, 2008

This American Life and NPR News have co-produced two shows that I found very interesting and frightening.
Besides learning a lot about what exactly happened, I also learned that regular lawmakers brought this issue up a decade ago. Everybody said that these complex financial arrangements were not for the public, just financial professionals, and should not be regulated: that Wall Street would not make any bad decisions.

For more listening, they’ve been doing podcasts, Planet Money, on iTunes for free.

We Have an Unsustainable Economy, not a Wolf

October 2nd, 2008

Wall Street & Congress: Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.

I know I am going to get screwed with the economy, bailout or not: my 401k will lose value, my taxes will go up, my consumer debt interest rate will rise. So why should I support the bailout? With or without it, my American Dream gets screwed, again.

Eliminate the Middle Class

Bush & Co. has been setting the economy on a track to make the wealthy wealthier, the poor poorer and mess with the middle class so that most start falling on the side of poor or struggling. When you are struggling to make ends meet, you can’t be very politically active. You can’t keep an eye on abuses of power, corruption of the constitution, or general vague smarminess. When the general public and their kids are not well-educated, the government has even more power to grab power, insinuate control, and act as traitors under the guise of patriotism. No child left behind in getting an education that’s worse than their parents and grandparents with the real objective.

Predictable, Inevitable Comparison to Nazi Germany

I’ve used Goering war quote before, edited to make it apply to all leadership circumstances:

…[I]t is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers [opposition] for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
–Goering at the Nuremberg Trials

Bush & Co. are waging war on several fronts, most of them on the home front: education, economy, social. (I can’t believe people were stupid enough to re-elect him…)

Back to the Bailout

I’m not voting for anyone who did not vote on it or voted for it. I know they think they are compromising, but this is not a time for compromise. It’s a time for leadership.
The problem is: nobody knows what they are doing. We are in new territory. The experts don’t seem willing to admit that they are just guessing; doing what’s been done before, what’s been perceived to have worked in the past. I have to question, given the situation we are in, if what has been done in the past has indeed worked. Seems to the that it’s gotten us to where we are today.
History is also repeating itself in the presentation of this as a financial meltdown that needs to be rushed through: crisis management. Bush already got us on that one. He’s cried Wolf! too many times.
We have an unsustainable economy. There, it’s been said. We need to pour money, not into a fix, but into a restructuring.
I hope the upcoming elections reflect the power of the people to overthrow the people in government, and therefore the worst parts of the government and its ties to big business.

Better Reading than Here

Here’s a great Progressive post: Turning a Wall Street Giveaway Into an Economic Rescue for All Americans

Snapshot. Want. Do. Home

August 9th, 2008

I’m afraid I will forget this stuff if I don’t write it down.
Early April:
Leave Portland for Santa Cruz. Stop a Dad’s in Weed for a night.
Work on site in Scotts Valley for a client for a work week.
Drive to Ontario, CA, spend the night and fly to Albuquerque.
Albuquerque: Visit Steve, get panchakarma, fly back to Ontario.
Drive to the Palm Springs area, work a few days, then head south east of San Diego to the ADZPCTKO with Gottago. See other trail friends.
Drive Gottago and La Zorra to beginning of CDT in the boot heel of New Mexico. Leave them in the middle of nowhere. I head to Tucson.
I’d planned to stay 10 days in Tucson, but somewhere on the trip I learned my brother would be getting out of the physical rehab hospital. So only a few days after arriving, I flew from Tucson to Philadelphia.
Philadelphia, where I had mild weather, and a wonderful time taking care of my brother. Fly back to Tucson on my birthday.
I drive 800+ miles from Tucson to Santa Cruz on June 1 after seeing David and Norbert off on the train in Tucson.
Another week on site in Scotts Valley for the same client.
Arrive home the same day that David and Norbert arrive on the train, after a Bay Area visit.
Drive to Portland, stay a few days, then head to Eugene for a 5-day spirituality seminar.
July brought word of my mom’s cancer, so early August finds me in Monterey, helping her recover from surgery.