Thursday, May 31, 2007

Catching Up on News...

Sometimes it's worthwhile just to share some of the goings on in the outer world that have either caught my eye or been brought to my attention...

From an article on a mass revolt among livejournal bloggers after an overenthusiastic use of the shotgun approach in attempting to deal with the admitted evil of pedophiles and child pornographers. The revolt is interesting in that it delineates how truly little control blog and similar services have over postings on their servers once they open the gateway, not unlike the recent revolt over at

Whether you favor it or not, in recent months online and PC privacy have taken several significant steps forward through encryption, date stamp modification, and a variety of other techniques once only employed by techno-sophisticates but now available as handy user-friendly kits (timestomp, anyone?) - excellent article over at CIO magazine for those with forensic interests in such matters.

In other news, Nissan reveals a new "feature" for their more upscale vehicles with electronic keys - you can kill the keys with the average cell phone by making or taking calls in close proximity to said keys - wonder if it'd work to quietly ensure a chemically altered friend was off the road for the night.

Another product "feature report" reveals that Microsoft is reworking the Windows Vista version of their Halo game to deal with issues of partial nudity to avoid government intervention.

A moderate mind-bender, a gay pub in Australia wins the right to bar women and straight males from its' demesnes, as those groups allegedly cause gay male customers to feel threatened. Hell, I thought that fell under basic property rights - ban whoever you want, and if you ban enough folks, you go broke.

In a related vein, we see the Paris opening of a Gay Male Bridal Shop...and the sky has not yet fallen, nor has the earth opened up and swallowed the city as a den of iniquity.

And finally, the Swedish have invited the Mayor of Moscow who ordered Gay Pride organizers in that city beaten and arrested to their Amsterdam events, in hopes he will observe a distinct shortage of brimstone and salt pillars.

One piece of good news, Dell is now shipping Ubuntu Linux as the operating system on desktop and laptops for home users, with prices beginning at $549.00 - the Ubuntu distribution includes at no extra cost OpenOffice (think MS:Office or WordPerfect Office), Firefox, Thunderbird, Evolution (an Outlook replacement) all your favorite IM clients or equivalents, and is invulnerable to Windows viruses. The integral firewall is a nice touch, and Linux anti-virus software is readily available as well.

Depart the Eeeeeevil Empire!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Cheap Tawdry Sell for a Good Cause

Pride events serve almost as many purposes as they have attendees. There exist in a single event or set of events elements of "especially festive Mardi Gras", "angry protest", fund-raising, free speech, blatant show-offs, quiet declarations of presence in the world, and (near and dear to my heart) the opportunity for almost anyone coming hesitantly out of the closet to see SOMEONE out/proud/gay from a walk of life sufficiently similar to their own as to shatter the depressing illusion "I'm the only in the universe, doomed to loneliness and self-hatred all my days".

Up in Seattle, Pride is seriously screwed up with a community split down the middle and holding dueling Pride events (each with its' very own Parade & Festival) - one up at the traditional sites on Capitol Hill, the other downtown at the locations where that group held an event in '06 running up between 150k and 250k to the city and vendors.

Both groups are running seriously short of cash, though the one down town with its' debt is substantially worse off than the folks up on the hill wanting to revert to a fiscally sustainable and traditional model.

But enough context. Shameless plug here. I don't care if you're in Maine or Miami, Seattle or Austin, California or New Hampshire - June 8th at 10:30 there's a fund-raiser at Julia's in Seattle for the traditional event up on Capitol Hill. A great drag show and a good deal at $25.00/seat - but if you can't make it (distance, gas costs, prior commitments) feel free to send checks marked "Seattle Pride" to:

Tickets are available through Julia's, Panache on Broadway, and through the LGBT Center.

Things are just a bit screwed up in Seattle, and it seems worthwhile to help the more rational sorts pull it out of the fire.

Memorial Day Ponderings

My family has been unusually fortunate - while we have and have had members of the extended clan in the Armed Services, it's been over a generation since we've lost a member in combat or to combat related causes.

The losses in service in my own life have been the physically and spiritually wounded members of the LGBT community returning from Gulf War I and subsequent conflicts. The young man who came back from naval service as an artillery service shy a leg and any semblance of self-esteem, and more recently guys coming back with varying degrees of PTSD.

In this most recent of conflicts, with over 150,000 troops serving abroad in combat environments, the losses are substantial - 3,500 (approx) dead, approaching 25,000 wounded, and 28,000 or so grieving families or families struggling to bring their beloved back to some level of recovery.

Yet, as wars go, that the casualties are not worse speaks to the professionalism and skill of our troops - even as one can legitimately become quite dismayed with military and political leadership horrifyingly slow on their feet to provide basic responses to changing combat realities.

Our service members have, by and large, in accordance with their oaths gone where they were told and done what they were instructed to do with an unusual degree of professionalism. If we have legitimate complaint, it is not with our soldiers and sailors - it is with our elected officials, and our generals and admirals - the ones deciding where to go and what to do on arrival.

Our troops removed vicious bastards of one description or another from power in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and may yet be visiting with Iran or Syria. Our troops today face homicidal loons (aka terrorists aka insurgents) in Iraq, most of them imported to Iraq from neighboring nations - and effectively act as exceptionally well-armed bait drawing the worlds worst from the cess-pools of humanity to engage in their sundry destructive behaviors far from American soil.

Thank you, each and every one.

To the politicans and military bureaucrats that only now are deploying IED-resistant vehicles to Iraq, that futzed about with initially 2nd-rate body armor, that failed to provide basic supplies, and that obstructed the efforts of dedicated troops and their families to supply themselves...let's just say I'm not especially thankful for YOU, and leave it at that.

The lost are beyond us. The wounded and the returning we can still think for their service - perhaps it is wise to seize the opportunity to thank them while they are not beyond us.

Finally, in what may become a tradition, a bit of Kipling (and a hint to remember the betrayal of our troops coming home from Vietnam, and not repeat it).


I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o'beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:

O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's ``Thank you, Mister Atkins,'' when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's ``Thank you, Mr. Atkins,'' when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.

Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy how's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints:
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;

While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind,"
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country," when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
But Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!

God/dess bless you ladies and gentleman, may your preferred deity shower blessings upon you, even as you are thanked by a grateful public for your service.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Grr. Some gay men peeve me....

And Youth and Idealism, particularly in an anti-war gay community context, are particularly peeving. I ran across this on, a chat site this afternoon... tag line...

"Happy Honor the killers of innocents weekend! Remember to thank a soldier for slaughtering innocent victims for you!"

The kid is 20 years old, but this kind of thing is worthy of comment - as being simply unacceptable. You don't like the war? Slam on Bush/Cheney/Congressional ninnies - not our boys and girls in the field.

It didn't cheer me any further when he went on at some length about how our war dead "deserved it" as did any surviving military who had the temerity to kill in the performance of their duty.

Comment directly to the little creep might be worthwhile. Comment to regarding this generally offensive twit might be more effective, as they are presently a bit sensitive to controversy, IMHO.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Requested Post...

The problem with posting on a requested topic is that your spin on it may not be quite what the requestor had hoped for - however, what say we mumble along and do our best regardless.

"Could you address one to those who've accepted themselves, and tell'em NOT to be such stereotypical caricatures/parodies of what the community is perceived to be by many? I'm talking about the older of the couple being a 'control freak', considering their partner mere arm candy, and not giving the personal respect due - I see it more in the gay subset of the community than in the rest of the community as a whole."

Oy. Surprisingly, this is a hard one, and the reason is that the whole "relationship paradigm" in the community is so new as an "accepted thing" that what it should look like as an ideal hasn't settled out yet, let alone what the less idealistic "best we can likely hope for" thing get established.

The whole older/younger thing is something I've seen played in so many different ways that it makes my head hurt. I've seen both the older and younger members of a couple as dominant, I've seen variations on equality, and other variations (three-way relationship with age & cultural differences, anyone?).

To complicate things yet further, there are the younger (and older) ones who strongly prefer the submissive role - to have their partner of whatever age be the one in charge, whether said partner likes it a whole bunch or not, and can get downright insistent about the whole thing - which is only more confusing.

It may be moral cowardice, but after seeing all this diversity and taking some aspirin, I'm left with a simple policy for looking at such things. At base, if everybody involved in a relationship (however outre) are consenting adults there of their own free will and seem pleased with affairs, as confusing as I may find a particular variant, it's really none of my business.

The ball game is entirely different if there appears to be someone who is being taken advantage of (an elder for his wallet, a youth for his looks and innocence, or the many possible variations), someone held against their will by guilt/fear/economics, or someone whose competence is questionable. Anything from a few well-placed words to a full-scale intervention may be required in those instances, and no matter how good your intentions, any time it reaches that state of affairs there will be substantial wreckage as the result of your actions.

To address the request more specifically...

Younger guys, if you're genuinely attracted to older guys go for it - but remember they've been there and done a lot of things they may not be excited about doing twice, often because it was a sufficiently horrid experience the first time. And each of them comes with a list of things, that should they have any empathy at all and care for you, that they will fight and kick and scream to keep you from doing - because they don't want you hurt. Unfortunately, despite the best of intentions this will often come across as "mother knows best" sort of pushy queen behavior, regardless of motivation.

Older guys dating younger? First off, I probably don't need to remind you, the percentage of those 20-30 years younger than you that genuinely find those in your age group to be eye-catching and scrumptions is rather minimal. Many more will find your wallet or your ability to help them in one fiscal way or another much MORE attractive than you yourself. Be wary, see an attorney, protect your assets.

Second, no matter how much you want to protect your younger boyfriend from the vicissitudes of life, it's seldom possible and even more seldom desireable. Just like you, there are a lot of things that they need to learn, and things being what they are, they can only learn them by doing stupid things and paying the consequences. That you are along for the ride is the price you pay for the 25yo perky young thing factor - they have more idealism left and less life experience to balance it. It's no different than any other cross-cultural relationship - we may all be 25yo to ourselves in our heads, but my 25, your 25, and lil' miss hotstuff's 25 all occurred in different decades and different mileau's. The 1:1 translation isn't always 100%.

Finally, respect him and insist he respect you as well. And that's mainly what I'm talking about - after exercising common sense, taking reasonable precautions, and you still find yourself hitched to a wonderful man 30 years your junior - it's going to take mutual respect and a lot of work and understanding to bridge that cultural gap between 1977 and 2007, when you each repectively did the age that he's at now.

That's my take on it all...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

On friendship...

I moved back to Bigger City from Dusty Flats back in December, and have been job-hunting/doing temp gigs/getting back in touch w/ friends since.

Tuesday, I re-entered the halls of geekhood with a firm job offer, which I accepted and promptly went to dinner with friends.

Unfortunately, over drinks after, it became impossible for me to ignore that a friend who while remaining dear to me is, while innately a good person, does that goodness buried deep within a mire of negativity, passive aggressive behavior, anger issues, social awkwardness, and various other dysfunction.

I realized this person is *not* good for me to have around, since a lot of that sort of thing includes old behaviors of mine I've carefully worked to get rid of...and the damn stuff is contagious. I'd rather not be dragged back to that level, and the indicated course is - regardless of the fact I still care for the guy - to with as much gentleness as I can summon remove him from my life while keeping complications for mutual friends to a minimum.

This rather sucks, but needs nonetheless to be done, not unlike removing a tumor. Dammit. Is painful, if necessary - particularly in a friendship of a decade or more.

We'll see how it goes. So far, it's all been a fairly civilized distancing, and if I can do this in a new way that doesn't involve any lightning bolts, thunder, vindictiveness, or drama on my part...I'll earn a few brownie points and sleep a little better than I might under other circumstances.

A speaker I once heard put it..."We have to, for our own health, love them all. We can't afford anger or hatred. But we DO get to choose the distance we love them at. For some, intercontinental is just about right."

It's worth pursuing, as an alternative to drama.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Evil Purple Dinosaur

I have two delightful and generally darling nieces, and thankfully they are emerging relatively unscathed from the Purple Dinosaur phase of affairs with only one of them afflicted by vegetarianism, a relatively mild if annoying affliction.

That said, I read Ambulance Drivers note on the Evil One and Lawdogs comment thereupon, with a certain amusement and recollection.

My objection to Barney is the sly inculcation of leftist values and wild-eyed pacifism under the heading of "appropriate childrens entertainment" - I would much rather share the ouvre of Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, and Daffy Duck with my nieces...or if I must stick to the modern, South Park or The Simpsons, as they tend to skewer on an equal opportunity basis.

Teaching a child to blindly accept or offer undue reverence for authority is counterproductive if you seek a free nation. Teaching a child violence is *always* evil is teaching a child how to be a victim, and not doing that child any favors.

It is harder, but teaching a child to question authority and ask the hard questions while choosing their battles wisely is worth the extra effort. Teaching a child that self-defense is a moral right and that self-reliance is simply rational gives them a fighting chance against lifes little mishaps.

To do less is moral and intellectual laziness.

It is for this that I despise Barney, and much of modern so-called "children's television".

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A letter to the newbies

Pride, screwed up as it is, in my town is coming up at the end of June...and organizer that I am, I find my little fingers amidst it. But that's not what I'm writing about today.

I spent my afternoon yesterday with an otherwise sensible, employed, brilliant and kindly sort and a fair amount of the evening chatting with friends and acquaintances in the community...and was minded to write a letter to the newly out and the poor SOB's of all genders about to be thrust into that adventure.

Now, the newly out and about to be out are - IMNSHO - bugf$^k nuts for about a year, on average, from "THE MOMENT". Some are out there a bit longer, some hurry up about the project, and some sad souls are trapped in that state for a very long time indeed. I speak only to the mens side of the community here, not having much experience of the womens, so can't comment of the BFN duration or existence in part of the community with any accuracy.

It may not help during that first year (or perhaps it might, for some lucky sorts). This letter is for the newbies, and those pseudo-newbies who've survived their first year.

To: Newbies & Pseudo-Newb's
From: Been There, Done That, Have the Fertilizer
Re: Gay Man's Basic Life Operation Manual

Welcome to the community - it's not that big a deal, even if it looks like it. The same personality types exist in the community as any place else, if on occasion a bit more flamboyantly and/or with more or less dysfunction as in the mainstream community you grew up in, perhaps a bit modified by intense life experiences. A lot, though not all, of the same rules apply when it comes to staying sane, happy, and socially successful.

Don't buy into the assumptions or the stereotypes. Ask questions, even the hard ones, and don't be afraid of looking dumb. Don't live your life to keep others happy, live your life so you can sleep with yourself at night. Be yourself, but gently. Groups are fiction, individuals are real and can be hurt - generalities are dangerous. Never, ever, mess with the women's community. Be consistent, but have compassion. Don't be afraid of conflict, but avoid unnecessary cruelty. Make sure that you're not a burden to others before you start picking up others burdens. Think twice before getting married, then think again, no matter how cute and sweet he seems. Never get a boyfriend to fix a temporary emotional mess. Boys aren't houses - fixer-uppers and build your own does not work but the attempt is hideously expensive on many levels.

You are the same person you were a year ago with a bit more self-honesty attached. Being a member of the LGBT community doesn't somehow magically turn you into a saint or sinner, and you will find your fellows every bit as screwed up or saintly as you ran across in the mainstream community.

Probably you've experienced either the outright statement or strong implication of "to be a REAL member of the LGBT community, you must be/do ".

This is a crock, and a rather tacky way of taking vulnerable newcomers to the community and shepherding them into the advocates little group or cause. Fact is, you either have gender issues or find the same gender attractive on either a sometimes or exclusive basis - that's the sole membership qualifier for this community.

That said, and stating clearly that being yourself with integrity is important, every community has its sacred cattle and social rituals and giving them some respect where possible within the paradigm of integrity can significantly ease your way.

Don't fret about the drag queens and the leather queens. They've been the canary in the coal mine (i.e., the obvious targets bigots tend to go after first) for years, and have consistently had a major presence at the forefront of the LGBT civil rights effort. You don't have to dress up in leather, do a whips'n'chains fandango (unless that's what thrills you), or put on a dress and perform Cher and Madonna songs - but be respectful of those that do, both out of gratitude and in realization that hassling either group will make your own life far more difficult than it will theirs.

And the old notion "if it weren't for leather/drag, the straights would accept us"? If it was ever true, about which I have sincere doubts, even if every last leather and drag queen were to vanish from the face of the planet in the next 20 seconds....there's enough video out there that it's a lost cause. Fret about something you can actually influence.

No matter how cute the man, conversion jobs are a bad notion. Even if they are raging closet cases that do an unconscious Sandra Bernhardt wherever they go, they tend to go nuts for a year or so after they admit they are members of the community, and particularly when after the fourth double-gin-tonic for both of you they wake up with you and the memory that they *enjoyed* themselves the previous evening.

If you're not a wild-eyed liberal, you're surrounded by them. Pick your battles.

"Men are pigs, some have redeeming virtues" may be an overstatement. However, don't be rushing out expecting to find Mr. Right in the first fifteen minutes of sanity. If you DO stumble across a candidate, don't screw it up...the good ones aren't all that terribly common.

And after that shower of cold Auntie Mame, and LIVE! :)