Friday, December 31, 2010

KTIV: Dan Moore on Vander Plaats' new fundraising jihad to dump Iowa justices; Nathan W. Tucker: Illinoisians enter Iowa to obtain 'sodomy licenses'

KTIV of Sioux City Iowa recently interviewed the co-chair of Fair Courts for US, Dan Moore, who supported retention of Iowa Supreme Court justices during November's election.

In the interview, Moore discussed Bob Vander Plaats' most recent fundraising initiative as CEO of his new umbrella organization, Iowa's The Family Leader, which founder Chuck Hurley has claimed has no ties to the identically-named Mormon-led organization.

Using the sports analogies of which Vander Plaats is fond, Moore accused Vander Plaats of disagreeing with the ref and then attempting to burn down the stadium.

Apparently, the Iowa GOP will push hard on social issues in 2011.

Rod Boshart of the Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that Richard Johnson of the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency and his staff of attorneys are handling about 650 bill requests — roughly half sought confidentially — that already have come in from current and soon-to-be sworn-in new members of the Legislature, noting that it took until Jan. 14 for LSA drafters to hit 650 bill requests two years ago.
Republicans will hold a 60-40 edge in the House, while Democrats will retain at least a 26-vote majority in the Senate where two GOP seats are the subject of special elections in January to replace Lt. Gov-elect Kim Reynolds, R-Osceola, in Senate District 48 and Larry Noble, R-Ankeny, who resigned his Senate District 35 seat to become Governor-elect Terry Branstad’s public safety commissioner when the new administration begins Jan. 14.
Broshart also reports that some Iowa lawmakers will try to establish a residency requirement for couples seeking to be married in Iowa, intended to halt the influx of same-gender couples traveling to Iowa to exchange vows and then return to their home states, as well as to provide a “marriage conscience protection” for people in official positions – such as county recorders responsible for issuing marriage licenses – who object to same-sex marriages.

On the subject of out-of-state gay couples marrying in Iowa, Nathan Tucker, a conservative Davenport attorney, wrote in the Iowa Republican in December:
Despite now being able to enter into a de facto marriage relationship in their home state, many gay Illinoisans still desire the perceived public approval and legitimacy that comes from the actual word “marriage.” For them, the reciprocity provision provides the best of both worlds–obtain an actual marriage certificate in Iowa and have it recognized in Illinois.
This likely means an influx of Illinoisans crossing the border to obtain their sodomy licenses that will, for the first time, be recognized as valid when they return home.
Tucker, second from left, at judicial retention forum in October
hosted by Simpson College and the Iowa Independent
In addition to his extensive contributions to the Iowa Republican website, Nathan W. Tucker, has an "invitation-only" personal blog and is the author of a tract entitled "We the People: The Only Cure To Judicial Activism" available for $12.99 on No reviews of his publication yet have appeared.

Dan Savage: 'The easiest moral question that there is, the Bible got wrong'

Dan Savage on sex, religion, bullying and how he bought Ann Lander's desk for less than $200:
We ignore what the Bible says about slavery. We ignore what the Bible says about women. We ignore what the Bible says about executing women on their wedding nights if they're not virgins. We ignore what the Bible says about lobster and polyester and farming and everything else. We have to learn to ignore what the Bible says about homosexuality. The Bible got slavery wrong. Something as easy and obvious as slavery. Wrong. Jesus Christ: blah blah blah, sermon on the mount, you can't shut that guy up. Not a word about slavery. All the "thou shalt nots" in the Ten Commandments, blah blah blah, thou shalt not... How about thou shalt not own other people? No, the Bible explicitly endorses slavery. The easiest moral question that there is, the Bible got wrong. If the Bible got slavery wrong, what are the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? 100%.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sprinkler dance, performed by UK's cricket team

This dance, which entails holding an arm out and imitating a garden sprinkler's quirky rotation, was not invented in England. Like most cheerfully idiotic sports memes, it originated in Australia.

'We Can Do It' WWII poster girl, Geraldine Hoff Doyle, dies at 86; often confused with 'Rosie The Riveter'

Geraldine Hoff Doyle, who worked as a metal presser in an Ann Arbor, Mich. factory when a wire photographer photographed her, has died at 86. The photos of the then Hoff inspired a famous poster by J. Howard Miller. That poster later became an iconic image for women's rights advocates of the 1960s and 1970s.
     After leaving the factory, Hoff met and married Leo Doyle and the two subsequently ran a successful dental practice in Lansing. Her husband died earlier this year.
     According to Wikipedia, Doyle's image is often confused with that of "Rosie The Riveter," the subject of a popular 1942 song of the same name recorded by several artists, including band leader Kay Kyser. The woman who was the inspiration for the song was Rosalind P. Walter, who came from old money and who worked the night shift building the F4U Corsair fighter. Later, Walter was a philanthropist and an early supporter of the Charlie Rose interview show. Rosie the Riveter became most closely associated with another woman, Rose Will Monroe, who worked as a riveter at the Willow Run Aircraft Factory in Ypsilanti, Michigan, building B-29 and B-24 bombers.
1943 depiction of 'Rosie The Riveter'
by Norman Rockwell

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wikileak's Julian Assange defended by Glenn Greenwald; CNN's complacency, possible Homeland Security crimes blasted on air

Via Skype from Brazil, where his boyfriend lives, Glenn Greenwald defends Julian Assange, wonders aloud why CNN isn't doing more to expose secret government practices, and reminds viewers that many people consider Homeland Security's behavior to have amounted to crimes.

Lady Gaga evades NYC drifts, Florida freezes,
holes up in Nebraska with Omaha boyfriend

Mikaela Olson and Lady Gaga at Benson's Sydney Bar Sunday night.
Josefina Loza of the Omaha World-Herald reported several spottings of Lady Gaga, in town celebrating the holidays with boyfriend Luc Carl, of Springfield, Neb., where his parents still live.

Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, picked up some fresh fish and scallops at Absolutely Fresh Seafood Market at 120th & Pacific Christmas eve and chilled in Springfield on Christmas Day.

Sunday, Gaga and Carl were off with friends for cocktails at the Sydney Bar at 5918 Maple St. in trendy Benson before the Little Brazil concert at the Waiting Room and Lounge, a few doors away.

After playing "Roxanne" on the jukebox and posing for a cell phone photo, word began to spread of her presence; fifteen people were joined by 35 more in less than 45 minutes, so the couple moved to the Waiting Room, which became so swamped with fans in 10-15 minutes that Gag and Carl had to leave; people began to mob them as they exited.

Monday, Gaga was spotted across the street from the new T.D. Ameritrade stadium at Goodnights, a pizza restaurant. Later, the Papio Bowl closed to the public so she could bowl in privacy; it later reopened for open family bowling after the “Poker Face” singer headed across the Missouri to play blackjack in the high-limit room at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs.

Michael Musto explains 2010; is suddenly interested in Justin Bieber

Musto as Snooki

From Michael Musto's year-end wrap-up in the Village Voice:
Celebrity rampaging was so prevalent it even hit walking bad-hair-day Justin Bieber (a/k/a "the Bieber"). He's the androgynous, YouTube-created protégé of Usher—and in fact he basically is Usher, minus the singing, dancing, experience, and sex appeal. But apparently Bieber's got a dark side. In his native Canada, he allegedly parted his Cousin Itt–like bangs and assaulted a 12-year-old who was repeatedly taunting him with the F-word. And suddenly I'm interested in Justin Bieber.

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010: DADT as seen by political cartoonists and satirists

'Gays Too Precious To Risk In Combat,' Says General

As usual the most brilliant satire was owned by The Onion, which produced the fake video above, truly the most exquisitely savage indictment of Pentagon PR duplicity made this year. [Correction: although timely and biting, this video was made in 2007.] SNL should take lessons from The Onion in acting, writing, and production values.

In April, The Onion also "reported:" Closeted Soldiers Getting In Last Clandestine Rendezvous Before 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repealed
Ending 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is a major step forward for the rights of all gay soldiers," said a high-ranking officer who wished to remain anonymous. "That said, there's nothing quite like the thrill of approaching a fellow soldier under the cover of night, undressing frantically behind an Abrams tank, and engaging in wild, forbidden intercourse knowing full well that you'll be kicked out of the military if you're caught. God. What a rush.
July in The Onion brought the following:

Repeal Of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Paves Way For Gay Sex Right On Battlefield, Opponents Fantasize
Many active-duty service members told reporters allowing gay individuals to be open about their sexuality would result in great discomfort among platoons overseas.
     "The last thing I need after a 12-hour reconnaissance patrol is to know I'm hitting the showers with some guy who might be checking me out and who might, after seeing what I have to work with, find himself wondering if I too long for the firm yet tender embrace of another man," Army Cpl. Dale Montgomery said. "So, in conclusion, what were we talking about again?"

Political cartoonists had a field day with DADT in 2010, with many cartoons predictably showing coffins (one with a text balloon reading "You go, girl!"), helmets atop rifles planted in dirt or variations of Joe Rosenthal's famous staged picture of Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima. A surprising number of cartoons ripped John McCain.
     The Australian-born Pat Oliphant used DADT as a springboard to take a slap at the military-industrial complex and to imply that the fight for gay inclusion in the military on equal terms was a fool's game.
Perhaps the nastiest example of cartoonist homophobia was exhibited by Chuck Asay, of the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph. Asay is described by Creator's Syndicate as one of the few "quality conservative cartoonists working in the industry today." Asay's drawing pandered to the basest of bigots by depicting a Marine, supposedly emboldened by the repeal of DADT, copping a feel of another jarhead and being subsequently flattened.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

LDS church hierarchy invites gay activists to Christmas concert

The ABC affiliate in Salt Lake City reports that the LDS church invited several prominent gay leaders to its annual Christmas concert, including Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black (Milk) and wealthy WordPerfect cofounder Bruce Bastian.

I don't think this means anything at all.

Elsewhere in Utah, an armed man was shot to death by police in the parking lot outside the Oquirrh Mountain Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South Jordan on Christmas day. He was carrying a shotgun and was involved in an altercation.

Drill baby drill? How about liquid fuel from cerium, sunlight and CO2 and skip electric cars altogether?

Apparently solar concentrators can generate a substitute for gasoline! This is wild, possums!
     NPR's Richard Harris examined a question posed by Eric Toone, a chemist at Duke University: How can we take solar photons and convert that into a liquid fuel at higher efficiencies than we can using plants?
     One answer is to create liquid fuel using the not-so-rare element Cerium, chemically similar to rare earth metals, but much more abundant (about as much so as copper.) At 3,000 degrees Cerium can turn carbon dioxide and water into energy-rich fuels, and it can be reused!
      Of course, using an energy-guzzling furnace to do this is like using alchemy to turn platinum into gold. Why bother?
     But what if you can use a furnace that doesn't guzzle energy?
     Earlier this year, Sossina Haile, a professor of materials science and chemical engineering at Caltech, got together with some colleagues in Switzerland and figured out how to put cerium inside a device that can generate those tremendous temperatures by concentrating solar energy.
     And they did it — they were able to make synthetic fuel from just water and carbon dioxide. As they report in the journal Science, the system wasn't very efficient — less than 1 percent of the solar energy got converted into fuel. But there is hope.
     "If we had a perfect reactor," Haile says, "we should easily get 10 percent efficient."
     "We went through the big numbers and said, 'Would this make any dent on U.S. energy production?' And the answer is yes," she says.
     Toone, even though he directs an ARPA-E program supporting research on ideas that incorporate biology to do what Haile is trying to do with straight chemistry and engineering, is refreshingly nonparochial about Haile's approach:
     "The ultimate goal is the same, right? ...Green plants typically convert far less than 1 percent of sunlight into fuel. "So the name of the game is to say, 'Well, can we do better than that?'
     To find out, ARPA-E has pumped research dollars into more than a dozen universities and small companies across the country. Most projects are just getting under way, and Toone...  is full of optimism.
     "This is absolutely a solvable problem... I suspect we are 10 to 15 years away from actual fuels that you can buy at a pump and put into your vehicle," he says. "But I do very, very, very strongly believe that this is going to happen."
     Haile doesn't say her approach is the best, but it is an example of something that could pan out: "I personally view that the challenges that remain are very surmountable."

Gerrymandering, 2010: Here, overstuffed gay Christmas dumplings, is why winning state legislatures in a census year is VERY important

The Republicans are going to have their hand on the computer mouse, and when you have your hand on the computer mouse, you can change a district from a D to an R

Michael Cooper and Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times bring us the depressing news that new census data has shown almost 12 seats shifting to the South and West and that Republicans are in the catbird's seat in getting an extra boost from the change. (Now we know why corporate America spent so much money THIS election.)
The biggest immediate danger to incumbent Democrats will be in the Rust Belt, where Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio are all losing Congressional seats and Republicans now control the state governments, giving them the power to draw the new political maps...
     With Ohio losing two seats, political analysts expect the Republicans to eliminate a Democratic seat from the Cleveland area — possibly the one now held by Representative Dennis J. Kucinich.
     ...[Republican] victories in statehouse elections gave them control of redistricting in five of the eight states that are gaining seats, including the two biggest winners, Texas, which is adding four, and Florida, which is adding two.
     ...Republicans will be able to use their new power in the nation’s statehouses and governor’s mansions to draw new districts that will help the party strengthen its hold on the 63 seats in Congress that it picked up in November. When the new data comes in, both parties will use sophisticated computer software to begin carving up districts through politically creative cartography. But Republicans will have the upper hand, giving them the opportunity to add Republican voters to many districts where the party’s candidates won by narrow margins this year, making it easier for them to be re-elected.
     “The Republicans are going to have their hand on the computer mouse, and when you have your hand on the computer mouse, you can change a district from a D to an R,” said Kimball W. Brace, president of Election Data Services, who has worked on redistricting for state legislatures and commissions.
     Redistricting, it is often said, turns the idea of democracy on its head by allowing leaders to choose their voters, instead of the other way around.

Wikipedia explains gerrymandering:

First printed in March 1812, this political cartoon was drawn in reaction to the state senate electoral districts drawn by the Massachusetts legislature to favour the Democratic-Republican Party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry over the Federalists. The caricature satirises the bizarre shape of a district in Essex County, Massachusetts as a dragon. Federalist’s newspapers editors and others at the time likened the district shape to a salamander, and the word gerrymander was a blend of that word and Governor Gerry's last name.

IPAD 2 will apparently go the whole nine yards, er, inches

Well, actually 9.7 inches, so apparently the forecasters who swore up and down that the iPad 2, supposedly to be released next month, would be downsized to 7" were wrong.
     Apple Insider reports that Japanese blog MacOtakara's anonymous Chinese source said that the next-generation iPad units are already in production and the display size will measure 9.7 inches, as it does now.
     New is a mysterious opening along the bottom edge to allegedly encase a large, wide-ranged speaker unit covered with metal mesh and not an SD slot or a USB port, as was previously thought.
     Rumors of dual cameras were not confirmed, although Apple afficianado and Huffington Post blogger Jonathan Rettinger thinks the iPad 2 will almost certainly have front- and rear-facing cameras.
     Aksarbent played around with an iPad at Best Buy and loved it, but was put off by Apple's absolute refusal to support flash on either iPads or iPhones or iPods.
    Some people don't think this is such a big deal. Here, in geekspeak, is why:


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas, Christers!

Aksarbent extends holiday greetings to all of its Christian readers and for their edification provides this potty-mouth recitation of famed atheist Richard Dawkins reading some of his hate mail.

This video comes to us via the December 25, 2010 post of Joel Derfner, who has also posted a fun poll on his website posting for that day.

Rachel Maddow: Newt Gingrich
is a direct mail scam artist

Rachel Maddow is at her best documenting New Gingrich at his worst. Though this clip is well worth watching in its entirety, skip to 7:00 to watch Ms. Maddow filet Mr. Gingrich, his latest money-grubbing confidence game and his unvarnished, sociopathic hypocrisy.

Seattle police release dashcam video of Officer Ian Birk and half-deaf alcoholic he shot to death

Ian Birk
Following a judge's order, Seattle police finally released, on the Friday immediately preceding Christmas, dashcam video of the August death of 50-year-old woodcarver John Williams, shot at five times and hit four times by Officer Ian Birk after not following orders to drop his knife.

Williams, a chronic substance abuser, was deaf in one ear, and his knife was closed, although a picture of the legal woodcarving knife was previously released by Seattle police showing it open.

Birk claimed he felt threatened by Williams, whom he had encountered at least once before. Witnesses say Williams was facing away from Birk when Birk shot him. A number of unconfirmed comments on a YouTube page and various news sites claim that Birk was a veteran fresh from Iraq when the incident occurred.
SPD knife photo released to media
SPD evidentiary photo of knife at scene

Friday, December 24, 2010

After DADT repeal, Ann Coulter reduced (or perhaps elevated) to vacuous snark

After one of Fox's brilliant commenters observed that years of softball practice has honed the grenade-throwing abilities of lesbians, another pointed out that women aren't allowed in combat units, eliciting the response: "Well, they should change that, too!" What did Ann Coulter add to this? Don't Ask, I Fell....asleep.

On Top Magazine reports that Robert Gates, speaking on Fox News, warned on Thursday that “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” remains in effect.
     The new law's language requires that the president and top Pentagon officials – Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – certify that the military is prepared for repeal. That condition was added in an effort to shore up Republican support for the bill.
     “Service members who alter their personal conduct during this period may face adverse consequences,” he added.
     Gates also said that troops who opposed the new policy will not be allowed to leave the military before their commitment is up.
     Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), called on Gates to suspend all investigations during the interim period.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

UN's top torture investigator will probe conditions of Bradley Manning's confinement in Marine jail

David House, now being harassed by
the Department of Homeland Security
Glen Greenwald reports in Salon that both The Guardian and the Associated Press are telling their readers that the U.N.'s top official in charge of torture is now formally investigating the conditions under which the U.S. is detaining accused WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning.

Greenwald notes that supporters of Manning are being subjected to government abuse as well.. 
Last...  November 3, David House, a 23-year-old researcher who works at MIT, was returning to the U.S. from a short vacation with his girlfriend in Mexico, and was subjected to similar and even worse treatment. House's crime: he did work in helping set up the Bradley Manning Support Network, an organization created to raise money for Manning's legal defense fund, and he has now visited Manning three times in Quantico, Virginia, where the accused WikiLeaks leaker is currently being detained (all those visits are fully monitored by government agents).  Like Appelbaum, House has never been accused of any crime, never been advised that he's under investigation, and was never told by any federal agents that he's suspected of any wrongdoing at all.

At Chicago's O'Hare Airport, he was met in the concourse by customs agents, who examined the passports of all deplaning passengers until they saw House's, at which point they stopped... House was told that he was required to relinquish all of his electronic products, and thus gave them his laptop, cellphone, digital camera and UBS flash drive.  He was also told to give the agents all of his passwords and encryption keys, which he refused to do.

House was then taken to a detention room by two armed agents and on his way there, he passed by a room in which several individuals were plugging various instruments into his laptop and cellphone... He was told that he would not receive his laptop or camera back, and the agents kept it.  To date, he has not received them back and very well may never.  When he told them that he had roughly 20 hours of source code work in his laptop and would like to save it or email it to a saved site, they told him he could not do that.  He subsequently learned from Agent Santiago that although Agent Louck identified himself as a Homeland Security agent, he is, in fact, with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.

What's going on is here obvious.  The Federal Government has the authority to conduct border searches of people entering the country that are far broader than for those inside the country, and such searches require no search warrant.  The Government has that power in order to prevent security threats from entering the country, but here, they are clearly exploiting and abusing it in order to conduct investigative searches which would ordinarily require a search warrant but for which they have no basis to obtain one.

Tired Old Queen at the movies holiday picks

Radio, Radio, Radio:
Michael Savage, Larry King and Neil Rogers

Homophobic radio host Michael Savage is fighting with Talk Radio Network over an offer involving Westwood One. Says he's an indentured servant. Aksarbent says: A pox on both your houses.
     In respect of Larry King, we always thought his 25-year detour into television was, for him, slumming. Hope he goes back to radio, because no one in the middle of the night was funnier than Larry King. Even when he wigged out, he was better than Michael Savage or Howard Stern or Don Imus or Wolfman Jack or anybody.
      Speaking of radio, Neil Rogers is dying. For those of you who never lived in South Florida, Rogers is the legendary broadcast personality who came out to his audience while Anita Bryant was on the rampage in the late 70s — and kept his popularity for 20 more years. Described as the gay Mencken, Rogers once, on the air, accused the pope of "worthlessly tying up traffic" during his visit to Florida.

Radical homosexual agenda exposed!

Lose the baseball analogy, Robert P. George, because your argument against gay marriage stinks

Maggie Gallagher and Robert P. George,
author of The Manhattan Declaration
with Watergate felon Chuck Colson
Most of you haven't heard of Robert P. George; he lectures on jurisprudence at Princeton and moonlights as an attacker of gay marriage. But he's real refined, see? In fact, the New York Times Magazine thinks he's America's "most influential conservative Christian thinker." At the National Organization for Marriage, before there was a Maggie Gallagher or a Brian Brown, there was Robert George.
     George's philosophical opposition to gay marriage is why the National Organization for Marriage isn't just a bunch of common bible bigots, you see?
     It's important for NOM's prestige that it has a philosophical hood ornament like George.
     Unfortunately, Slate thinks George's argument stinks. And it said so last week. That upset George, who then claimed that the person who took apart his and his co-authors' arguments [1] ignored his central arguments, [2] made unwarranted linguistic associations, [3] indulged in pejorative labeling, and [4] studiously ignored every challenge he posed.

 The Manhattan Declaration, a theocratic manifesto drafted primarily by George, reflects the author's non-evolved, School of Salamanca view of natural law, one devoid of any new thought beyond the days of St. Thomas Aquinas.
     And there lies the rub. When reproductive rights, embryonic stem cell research, marriage and marriage equality are discussed, it is only through the lens of religious orthodoxy.   Economic justice is briefly mentioned at the out set and is then completely forgotten. Kirkpatrick explains why:
Last spring, George was invited to address an audience that included many bishops at a conference in Washington. He told them with typical bluntness that they should stop talking so much about the many policy issues they have taken up in the name of social justice. They should concentrate their authority on "the moral social" issues like abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and same-sex marriage, where, he argued, the natural law and Gospel principles were clear. To be sure, he said, he had no objections to bishops' "making utter nuisances of themselves" about poverty and injustice, like the Old Testament prophets, as long as they did not advocate specific remedies. They should stop lobbying for detailed economic policies like progressive tax rates, higher minimum wage and, presumably, the expansion of health care - "matters of public policy upon which Gospel principles by themselves do not resolve differences of opinion among reasonable and well-informed people of good will," as George put it.
Robert P. George, for all his acclaimed intellect, still fails to square such a conclusion with a Jesus who spent an inordinate amount of time emphasizing economic justice and virtually no time addressing homosexuality or abortion.

This topsy-turvy view of the Gospels appears to be a very convenient way to rationalize the buccaneer-economic views of neoconservatism...

First person to shake Obama's hand after signing of DADT repeal was gay marine major not previously out

The Miami Herald's Steve Rothaus, reports that a gay Miami Beach man Walker Burttschell, outed and discharged from the Marines in 2003 after someone hacked his email account, attended President Obama's repeal-of-DADT signing ceremony.
Tuesday morning, Burttschell attended the signing ceremony with a close friend -- a gay active-duty Marine major still in the closet.
     Burttschell said that immediately after Obama signed the repeal, the Marine major "grabbed me and dragged me down the aisle."
     The closeted Marine reached out to Obama. "The first person to shake his hand was a Marine who was not out until today. A powerful statement,'' Burttschell said. "He intro­­duced me to the president as a Marine and [Obama] said, 'Good fight, Marine!'

$#*!/Shit/Stuff My Dad Says addresses homophobia

A bit cringeworthy is this throwback to 70's preachiness regarding homophobia, but no more flesh-crawling than Glee's treatment of the same subject, one supposes. We at aksarbent are oddly fascinated that the show would cast John Mahoney as a homophobe, but little else fascinates us about this bomb that apparently CBS cannot throw overboard because of the numbers it inherits from the hit that precedes it, The Big Bang Theory. Not being sadists, we take no joy in seeing an actor as sharply funny as William Shatner roped into a sitcom like this.

We do have to observe that seeing this bit of fiction involving troglodyte old officers vs. forward-looking old officers plays out interestingly against the real life backdrop of DADT and the House/Senate votes: Mahony as retired naval coot McCain and Shatner as anyone in the military who is sane.


Harry Reid returns Lt. Dan Choi's West Point ring

Reed's tweet: Five months after I promised to repeal #DADT, I’m so happy to give back this West Point ring to @ltdanchoi.

Chicago Fox affiliate busts Peter LaBarbera's "moderate" facade after SPLC lists Americans For Truth About Homosexuality as hate group

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

CNS "reporter" Nicholas Ballasy tries to trip up Barney Frank, who sees him coming

Frank then asked HIM a question: "You seem to think that there’s something extraordinary about gay men showering together. Do you think gyms should have separate showers for gay people and straight people?” Ballasy didn't answer and insisted that he was “just quoting the recommendation.” Frank's response: “Don’t be disingenuous. You’re quoting those you think may cause us some problems. You’re entitled to do that, but you shouldn’t hide behind your views.”

Target contributions to anti-gay
politicians never stopped

     Documents filed with the FEC in October 2010 show that Target did nothing of the sort; in fact it continued to fund anti-gay candidates, including some of the same homophobes the company had already been dissed for supporting. All this after Steinhafel promised to reform the review process for future political donations.
     Most of Target's significant political donations after August 5th went to anti-gay equality politicians.
     After Steinhafel's August 5 letter, Target's Political Action Committee recorded $41,200 in federal election activity. Of that total, $31,200 went to anti-gay rights politicians or PACs supporting those candidates.
     Human Rights Campaign has penalized Target in its ratings, for "failing to take any corrective action in response to significant community concerns."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How to avoid unpleasant relatives this Christmas; GAP=Greatest Ad Period

A number of websites will map the geographic distribution of your (or someone else's) surname, but I like this one because it's Italian.

Just like Raoul Bova, the actor/model who made, for Gap Broken-In Jeans, the greatest 30-second commercial in the history of advertising. Tempted by the fruit of another, indeed.


Short Takes: Pat Robertson tells a straight boy how to defend his virtue; Bill Donohue's Catholic League sitting on $26,000,000 and Barney Frank cracks up Chris Matthews

The Atlantic examines DADT vs. Gay Marriage and catches Maggie Gallagher in a fleeting, lucid moment: "... the inability of those who opposed DADT repeal to kill this bill in the lame duck, even in light of the strong opposition to repeal from troops in the field, is an example of the growing mismatch in culture power -- the power to name reality, the power to determine which stories get told and whose feelings count."

If the number of ads for subscriptions to Sean Hannity tripe is any clue, then Hotair is evidently a website for conservatives, or suckers, or both. But it correctly notes the following in a post entitled: The Lesson of DADT Repeal For Gay Marriage:
We have returned to the pre-Clinton policy of leaving it up to the military as to whether and on what terms servicemen and servicewomen may openly acknowledge same sex sexual orientation.
     Contrary to popular media hype, repeal of the law does not itself require the military to allow open service by gays:
In an apparent ad for Gay Realty Watch, Gayapolis News reasons that gay marriage would lower mortgage interest rates. In an interview by Lori Hahn,  Dr. M.V. Badgett, author of When Gay People Get Married claims that... including all of the rights and benefits allotted to other citizens, mortgage rates would be lowered because of the tax benefits given to married couples, allowing for more disposable income.  That income would increase the purchases in the community and thus increase the value of the surrounding businesses.  It would also allow for health insurance to be purchased as a couple.  This would also increase the amount of income that could be put back into the community and thus reduce mortgage rates.
I doubt Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown will buy this argument, but I'd pay to see a pack of carnivorous go-getters wearing Century-21 jackets back Maggie and Brian and the politicians they rent into a corner like snarling wolverines or Carrie Prejeans.

What should a Christian boy do if his friend makes a move on him? "Don't let him drag you down!" is the Pat answer.

This advice was given during CBN's Bring It On segment. Jesus, talk about mixed messages! Now we at aksarbent are all confused. Thanks a lot for bringing this to light, JoeMyGod. (Flash of insight: If Pat Robertson were as worldly as, say, Rev. Eddie Long, he might have advised something more practical: "Friendship with this pervert? No! Fuckbuddy? Yes!"

Catholics United reveals that Bill Donohue's megaphone, the so-called "Catholic League," has $26,000,000 in assets and pays him about $400,000 per year in salary and benefits. CU's James Salt had this to say about Donohue's recent, successful crusade to have the David Wojnarowicz exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery removed:
“Just in time for his end-of-the-year fundraising efforts, Bill Donohue and the Catholic League have once again manufactured a controversy for their never-ending culture war. During this season of Advent, most Catholics and people of faith are concerned about the sluggish economy and how it affects our families, not Bill Donohue’s crusade against art. If Bill Donohue were truly interested in following Jesus, he’d drop this culture-war shtick and do something more productive for those less fortunate than himself.”

Jersey boy Barney Frank (now representing Masschussetts) gives Chris Matthews an informative summary of the House's lame duck session and makes a surprising confession at 3:23 that cracks Matthews up.

Last night's stunning winter solstice lunar eclipse...

Red tint from sunrises and sunsets on earth.
Photo: J. Mapleton
J. Mapleton

Last night's spectacular lunar eclipse was the first to take place on the winter solstice since the time of Galileo, nearly 400 years ago. The next visible total lunar eclipse in the U.S. won't happen until April 15th, 2014.
     Though in much of the country, the eclipse was eclipsed by clouds, here in Omaha, the night sky was beautifully clear, if rather bright. (Though Lincoln banned billboard lights pointing up years ago, Omaha grand­fathered them into a more recent ordinance restricting light pollution.)
     In rural Nebraska, the velvet darkness, free of most air and light pollution, brilliantly set off a red moon in earth's shadow. These pictures were taken from the sand hills near Valentine, one of the premiere star gazing areas in the U.S. because of the extremely dark skies above huge, sparsely populated Cherry County (about the size of Massachusetts, if you chop off Cape Cod.)

45-year-old Omaha bodybuilder
on January cover of Ironman

Todd Smith, who for years owned a popular Omaha gym before selling it to 24-Hour Fitness, strikes a (clichéd) pose on Iron Man's January cover.
     Smith, born and raised in Omaha, doesn't eat any cereal, pasta or bread, just lean proteins like chicken, fish and eggs as well as uncooked vegetables with every meal, and fresh fruit several times a day.
     In an Omaha World-Herald story, Michael O'Connor wrote that Steve Holman, Iron Man's editor-in-chief, picked Smith because he is a good example of how bodybuilders can be in top form in their 40s and beyond.
     Todd and wife Carmen have one daughter, who evidently has two mommies. Oh, just kidding.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Draw Jesus Day: Uh, oh. Bill Donohue and his fax machine The Catholic League isn't going to like this...
Yesterday those ad hoc troublemakers called Art+ organized 400-500 protesters to gather on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum and rally to demand that the Smithsonian return the censored video by artist David Wojnarowicz, “A Fire In My Belly,” to the National Portrait Gallery’s Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.
     The march began in the middle of  Museum Mile and snaked uptown along Fifth Avenue to the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, a Manhattan-based Smithsonian institution.
      Protesters yelled everything from “Put it back!” and “It’s Christmas, what’s wrong with you?” to the more satirical “Free the ants!
     The stink, resulting in the removal in late November by Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Glough, was manufactured by right-wing media outlets and caused by pressure from right-wing US congressman.

Not content merely to aid and abet Art+'s rabble-rousing,
Hyperallergenic has announced the following event:

We at aksarbent are happy to promote this kitcsh laudable art project and therefore relinquish the floor to Hyper­allergenic.
     We’re classy, so in response to the GOP’s attack on David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire In My Belly” video, we want to celebrate freedom of expression in the face of the right-wing American political establishment that gets whipped up into an irrational frenzy any time LGBT people are treated as equals. To celebrate our freedoms and the beauty of America, we are announcing our first-ever (and perhaps only) “International Draw Jesus Day” event.
     Hyperallergic readers and fans with artistic abilities can submit their very own drawing of Jesus for publication on this blogazine on December 26th, which is known in Canada and the United Kingdom as Boxing Day.
     Bring it artists, we will show whatever you send us and NSFW is perfectly fine. Forget the people who want to censor our lives and art and long live freedom of expression!

Email all your submissions to and trust me, we can take it.

Is Omaha Steaks boycotting Glenn Beck? Is it backpedaling? Or is its president just a clever weasel, like say, mmm, Mike Johanns?

On December 16, Media Matters trumpeted the following: Omaha Steaks Pulls Ads From Glenn Beck
Omaha Steaks has joined the list of companies that have stopped advertising on Glenn Beck's program. Work by and the Stop Beck effort has resulted in at least 100 advertisers reportedly dropping their ads from Beck's Fox News program. The campaign began after Beck called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." reported today that Omaha steaks said it would no longer advertise on that program:

    This morning, Omaha Steaks announced that they were removing their ads from Glenn Beck's program (emphasis added):

        Omaha Steaks buys large units of national television advertising during the holiday season. This year, we bought a package of advertising through the Fox Network. We did not specifically request to be included on the Glenn Beck program. As part of our contract, the Omaha Steaks ads run in a variety of time slots throughout the day.

We took your comments regarding the Glenn Beck Program to heart. After further review and careful consideration, we have decided to pull all advertising from Glenn Beck programming effective December 20th, 2010. Unfortunately, due to advertising cancellation policies, we were bound to continue possible ad placements through Sunday, December 19th.

At Omaha, we greatly value the loyalty and support of our customers, fans and followers and thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.
Good thing and media matters posted Omaha Steaks' original announcement, because today CEO Bruce Simon is singing a different tune. He says "The staff writers of our blog responded incorrectly and I want to apologize for any confusion this may have caused."

Now, faster than you can say "Politbureau airbrushes ex-hero from party propaganda," clicking on the media matters link "announced" shows not the original statement (above) of last week by Omaha Steaks, but a new, different one:
Omaha Steaks Television Advertising Policy, Updated 12/17

Correction from the CEO of Omaha Steaks, Bruce Simon:

The staff writers of our blog responded incorrectly and I want to apologize for any confusion this may have caused.  The facts are: we did not “pull” our ads from any show. Our holiday TV advertising contract ends on December 19th. Our contract never specified when our ads would air, only that they would air. Mr. Beck’s show is enjoyed by many, and we at Omaha Steaks hope our steaks are too. Our marketing is designed to speak to Americans who love steaks and great food, getting together with family and friends and giving gifts of great taste – no matter what TV shows they watch or what newspapers they read.
Bruce Simon
CEO, Omaha Steaks
Omaha Steaks buys large units of national television advertising during the holiday season. This year, we bought a package of advertising through the Fox Network. We did not request to be included on any specific program. As part of our contract, the Omaha Steaks ads run in a variety of time slots throughout the day.
At Omaha Steaks, we greatly value the loyalty and support of our customers, fans and followers and thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.
While Omaha Steaks may value customer loyalty and support, clearly it does NOT value clarity. If it did, it would stop apologizing for "confusion" while attempting to create exactly that in respect of the following, rather simple question:

Has Omaha Steaks stopped future ads from being broadcast on Glenn Beck's program, or hasn't it? 

UPDATE: Recently summarized tenderloin steak comparisons by Cook's Illustrated Magazine:

Of the seven steaks editors tested, three are available by mail order. Lobel's is the top-rated mail-order variety. It didn't require trimming, but it's expensive. Omaha Steak earned a "not recommended" rating for its "powdery" and "gritty" texture. Niman Ranch beef was also downgraded for its texture, but it earned a "recommended" rating nonetheless. The best tenderloin of all was one purchased at the local supermarket.

Justin Spring's new book about the creator of 'Phil Andros' — Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade

Samuel Steward left his job as a college professor to open a tattoo parlor and write erotica featuring his alter-ego, Phil Andros. Justin Spring explores his life in his new book "Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade."

(Video courtesy of Jeff Lunger and Samuel Steward)
Watch here.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Jib Jab: Farewell to 2010 wrapup

Jib Jab's end-of year tribute to 2010 was rather flat compared to that company's previous efforts, but the tap dancing of Obama and Biden at the end almost redeemed the production...

UN General Assembly to vote Tuesday on biennial resolution that non-war killing is bad; sexual orientation dropped for first time since 1999;
Arab and African nations to blame

"Friction" map compiled from 11 data sources by European Union’s
Global Environmental Monitoring Unit. It's  a measure  of travel difficulty
to population centers based on data including road networks, water bodies,
elevation, and more. The map was created for the World Bank Development
Report 2009, which examines the effects of geographic concentration
on income and production.
The U.S. government says it is "incensed" (as are gay rights advocates) at the fact that Arab and African nations, at the committee level, have dropped specific references to sexual orientation usually included in the UN's biennual condemnation of extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary killings.
Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, said the United States will introduce an amendment next week to restore the previous language including the phrase "sexual orientation" because "this is an issue that is important to us."

"We've also been doing a great deal of lobbying" to get the restoration of the phrase approved, Kornblau said.

Gay rights and human rights activists also have been lobbying missions to the U.N. in New York in recent days, urging especially those delegations that abstained on the amendment to help restore the mention of sexual orientation.

"We only need a few more countries and we can change this vote around," said Boris O. Dittrich, who directs the program on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights for the international advocacy group Human Rights Watch.

States opposed to protecting sexual orientation from arbitrary execution:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brunei Dar-Sala, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Comoros, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Saturday, December 18, 2010

DADT Repeal Passes Senate 65-31; Final Results by State; Nebraska: Johanns nay, Nelson yea; Iowa: Grassley nay, Harkin yea

Results from govtrack

Nay AL Sessions, Jefferson [R]
Nay AL Shelby, Richard [R]

Yea AK Begich, Mark [D]
Yea AK Murkowski, Lisa [R]

Nay AZ Kyl, Jon [R]
Nay AZ McCain, John [R]

Yea AR Lincoln, Blanche [D]
Yea AR Pryor, Mark [D]

Yea CA Boxer, Barbara [D]
Yea CA Feinstein, Dianne [D]

Yea CO Bennet, Michael [D]
Yea CO Udall, Mark [D]

Yea CT Dodd, Christopher [D]
Yea CT Lieberman, Joseph [I]

Yea DE Carper, Thomas [D]
Yea DE Coons, Chris [D]

Nay FL LeMieux, George [R]
Yea FL Nelson, Bill [D]

Nay GA Chambliss, Saxby [R]
Nay GA Isakson, John [R]

Yea HI Akaka, Daniel [D]
Yea HI Inouye, Daniel [D]

Nay ID Crapo, Michael [R]
Nay ID Risch, James [R]

Yea IL Durbin, Richard [D]
Yea IL Kirk, Mark [R]

Yea IN Bayh, Evan [D]
Nay IN Lugar, Richard [R]

Nay IA Grassley, Charles [R]
Yea IA Harkin, Thomas [D]

Nay KS Brownback, Samuel [R]
Nay KS Roberts, Pat [R]

Not Voting KY Bunning, Jim [R]
Nay KY McConnell, Mitch [R]

Yea LA Landrieu, Mary [D]
Nay LA Vitter, David [R]

Yea ME Collins, Susan [R]
Yea ME Snowe, Olympia [R]

Yea MD Cardin, Benjamin [D]
Yea MD Mikulski, Barbara [D]

Yea MA Brown, Scott [R]
Yea MA Kerry, John [D]

Yea MI Levin, Carl [D]
Yea MI Stabenow, Debbie Ann [D]

Yea MN Franken, Al [D]
Yea MN Klobuchar, Amy [D]

Nay MS Cochran, Thad [R]
Nay MS Wicker, Roger [R]

Nay MO Bond, Christopher [R]
Yea MO McCaskill, Claire [D]

Yea MT Baucus, Max [D]
Yea MT Tester, Jon [D]

Nay NE Johanns, Mike [R]
Yea NE Nelson, Ben [D]

Yea NV Ensign, John [R]
Yea NV Reid, Harry [D]

New Hampshire
Not Voting NH Gregg, Judd [R]
Yea NH Shaheen, Jeanne [D]

New Jersey
Yea NJ Lautenberg, Frank [D]
Yea NJ Menendez, Robert [D]

New Mexico
Yea NM Bingaman, Jeff [D]
Yea NM Udall, Tom [D]

New York
Yea NY Gillibrand, Kirsten [D]
Yea NY Schumer, Charles [D]

North Carolina
Yea NC Burr, Richard [R]
Yea NC Hagan, Kay [D]

North Dakota
Yea ND Conrad, Kent [D]
Yea ND Dorgan, Byron [D]

Yea OH Brown, Sherrod [D]
Yea OH Voinovich, George [R]

Nay OK Coburn, Thomas [R]
Nay OK Inhofe, James [R]

Yea OR Merkley, Jeff [D]
Yea OR Wyden, Ron [D]

Yea PA Casey, Robert [D]
Yea PA Specter, Arlen [D]

Rhode Island
Yea RI Reed, John [D]
Yea RI Whitehouse, Sheldon [D]

South Carolina
Nay SC DeMint, Jim [R]
Nay SC Graham, Lindsey [R]

South Dakota
Yea SD Johnson, Tim [D]
Nay SD Thune, John [R]

Nay TN Alexander, Lamar [R]
Nay TN Corker, Bob [R]

Nay TX Cornyn, John [R]
Nay TX Hutchison, Kay [R]

Nay UT Bennett, Robert [R]
Not Voting UT Hatch, Orrin [R]

Yea VT Leahy, Patrick [D]
Yea VT Sanders, Bernard [I]

Yea VA Warner, Mark [D]
Yea VA Webb, Jim [D]

Yea WA Cantwell, Maria [D]
Yea WA Murray, Patty [D]

West Virginia
Not Voting WV Manchin, Joe [D]
Yea WV Rockefeller, John [D]

Yea WI Feingold, Russell [D]
Yea WI Kohl, Herbert [D]

Nay WY Barrasso, John [R]
Nay WY Enzi, Michael [R]

Friday, December 17, 2010

Focus on the Family pet Iowa State Sen. Kent Sorenson wants to impeach husband of his opponent

Kent Sorenson, elected to the Iowa Senate from district 37, has said he will push for impeachment proceedings against remaining Iowa Supreme Court justices, among whom is the husband of his recent Iowa senate race opponent.

Sorenson, boosted by Focus on the Family, defeated incumbent Staci Appel, wife of  Iowa Supreme Court Justice Brent Appel, by 5,095 votes, 58.85% to 40.92%, and will sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Burn this place down!
He told Christian radio host Steve Deace he will push for impeachment proceedings against the four Iowa Supreme Court justices not recently ousted in a judicial retention vote, among whom is Brent Appel, appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court in 2006 by Tom Vilsack. Appel's term expires 12/31/2016. Appel is the husband of Sorenson's recent Iowa senate race opponent, Staci Appel. Sorenson also described a  conversation he had with a Republican leader who reminded him that his constituents elected him to come to the Capitol and “burn this place down." "They want me to do battle. And I understand that,” said Sorenson.

The Des Moines Register reported the following about Sorenson's financial past:
Federal court records show Sorenson and his wife failed to pay their federal income taxes due in 1995, 1997 and 2002 and owed a total of $8,749.

Sorenson and his wife declared bankruptcy in 2003, owing nearly $174,000 to various creditors. The debt included more than $10,000 in medical care obtained over several years starting in October 1999, such as newborn birthing services, court records show.
Right-wing blogs in Iowa circulated a letter supposedly written by Sorensen's 12-year-old daughter taking the fall for her father's bankruptcy.

Despite Sorenson's inability to cover the medical bills for all of his six children, he attacked Appel for fiscal irresponsibility during his campaign.

UPDATE: Jeff Danielson: "Good thing I'm a firefighter!"
That was Iowa Sen. Danielson's cheerful response to newly elected Sen. Kent Sorenson's “burn this place down" allusion, which apparently referred to the chambers of one or both of Iowa's deliberative bodies. State senator Danielson represents Cedar Falls, where he has been a firefighter for 15 years.

What happened to Dan Choi?

Lt. Dan Choi (left) and Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach,
also fighting discharge under DADT.
Photo: Adam Bouska
Headline writers seem split as to whether anti-Don't Ask Don't Tell activist Lt. Dan Choi was hospitalized for "exhaustion" or for a "breakdown" although Choi, now in the psychiatric ward at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Brockton, Mass., said in an email that he had a "breakdown and anxiety attack."
     ABC News' Susan Donaldson James had this to say about Choi, who is supposed to be released today. (Or not.)
Choi claimed that he had been involuntarily committed, but a spokesman for the Massachusetts Office of Health and Human Services was not immediately able to comment.
     Dr. Una McCann, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and director of the anxiety disorder program, said hospital emergency rooms can legally hold a patient for 72 hours if they are deemed a danger to themselves, to others or are incompetent.
     After three days, only a judge can order a hospital stay without a patient's permission.
     "He either said, 'Yes, I want to be admitted, I really need the rest,' or he got to the [psychiatric] ward and didn't like it and wanted to leave," said McCann, who has not treated Choi.
     "The psychiatric team may have said, 'Not so fast,'" she said.
      A nervous breakdown is an umbrella term for a number of conditions: depression, psychosis, but most often anxiety disorders, according to McCann.
     "Some people develop such severe anxiety, they can't function," she said.

Jared Leto, Zac Efron, Justin Timberlake, Johnny Depp, Ryan Gosling, Keanau Reeves, or Joaquin Phoenix?

No, we at aksarbent have not started writing headlines to bait Google bots. It's because we just read via Queerty via BlindGossip via The Star (obviously, we're slow) the following blind item.
Which musically-inclined actor secretly enjoys watching gay p*rn? He’s straight — and has dated some of Hollywood’s biggest starlets — but there’s something about watching two guys together that turns him on. As for his long-term girlfriend, she knows about his impressive gay p*rn collection, and she doesn’t mind.
Aksarbent's pick would be Justin Timberlake because a) Queerty ran an apparent picture of the bottom half of Timberlake to accompany the article (along with a disclaimer) and because b) we absolutely do not wish to believe that the adorably quirky Joaquin Phoenix is straight and because c) we don't know who the hell Jared Leto is, although we're sure he's very talented and therefore justly famous in circles other than the ones in which we wander pointlessly.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Slate: If homosexuality is ok, why is incest wrong?

Here,  William Saletan busts one of the slippery-slope, going-to-hell-in-a-hand-basket arguments against gay marriage.

Writing in Slate yesterday about David Epstein, a Columbia University political scientist charged last week with third-degree incest for allegedly shagging his adult daughter, William Saletan noted:
...The stereotype among educated liberals: Homosexuality is urbane, polygamy is for Mormons, and incest is for hayseeds. So when David Epstein, a Columbia University political scientist, was charged last week with third-degree incest for allegedly shagging his adult daughter, the blogosphere erupted. Conservatives called it another sign of moral inexorable descent from homosexuality to incest.

...Morally, the family-structure argument captures our central intuition about incest: It confuses relationships. Constitutionally, this argument provides a rational basis for laws against incest. But it doesn't provide a rational basis for laws against homosexuality. In fact, it supports the case for same-sex marriage.

When a young man falls in love with another man, no family is destroyed. Homosexuality is largely immutable, as the chronic failure of "ex-gay" ministries attests. So if you forbid sex between these two men, neither of them is likely to form a happy, faithful heterosexual family. The best way to help them form a stable family is to encourage them to marry each other...

Homosexuality is an orientation. Incest isn't. If the law bans gay sex, a lesbian can't have a sex life. But if you're hot for your sister, and the law says you can't sleep with her, you have billions of other options. Get out of your house, for God's sake...

Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal passes House 250-175;
Nebraska, Iowa reps vote 5-3 against repeal

Today's U.S. House of Representatives vote on the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 was 250-175 for repeal with 9 representatives not voting.

Voting no: Fifteen Democrats and 160 Republicans, including all of Nebraska's congressional delegation (Terry, Smith and Fortenberry) as well as two Iowa representatives, Latham and King.

Voting yes: 235 Democrats (including Boswell, Braley and Loebsack of Iowa) and 15 Republicans.

A complete breakdown is here.

Barney Frank in today's House DADT debate.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Half-century-old video game restored

    Wired reports that visitors to NYC’s Brookhaven Lab will be able to play one of the first electronic games as it was originally presented, thanks to the work of some talented engineers.
    Brookhaven engineer Willy Higinbotham created Tennis For Two, a rudimentary bouncing-ball demonstration, using an oscilloscope and a Donner Model 30 vacuum tube analog computer in 1958. In 1997, Brookhaven staff restored the game for its 40th anniversary, but had to use a solid-state computer, which was imperfect. Now, having acquired a later-model Donner computer, the staff is about to finish restoring “Tennis For Two” to a more period-accurate state.

    Physicist Peter Takacs writes in a blog post that the restoration will be available soon — pending the OK from Brookhaven’s electrical safety inspector.
    “Tennis For Two,” believe it or not, wasn't even close to being the first electronic game.

    Also from 1958: The Chordettes sing what is easily the filthiest song to become a smash in the 1950s, "Lollipop," which is exactly about what you think a song which says "I call him lollipop" is about. A very young Andy Willams seems to be cheerfully and wickedly in on the joke, but the poor Everly brothers seem to wish they were anywhere else.

    But wait, there's more! 50 years later, Dell used "Lollipop" in an ad, and, in the opening, winked even more explicitly at the song's obscene subtext. This deconstruction might be racist, or homophobic, or just smart-alecky depending on your frame of reference...