Thursday, December 24, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
To Juan at the Winter Solstice by Robert Graves
There is one story and one story only
That will prove worth your telling,
Whether as learned bard or gifted child;
To it all lines or lesser gauds belong
That startle with their shining
Such common stories as they stray into.
Is it of trees you tell, their months and virtues,
Or strange beasts that beset you,
Of birds that croak at you the Triple will?
Or of the Zodiac and how slow it turns
Below the Boreal Crown,
Prison to all true kings that ever reigned?
Water to water, ark again to ark,
From woman back to woman:
So each new victim treads unfalteringly
The never altered circuit of his fate,
Bringing twelve peers as witness
Both to his starry rise and starry fall.
Or is it of the Virgin's silver beauty,
All fish below the thighs?
She in her left hand bears a leafy quince;
When, with her right hand she crooks a finger, smiling,
How many the King hold back?
Royally then he barters life for love.
Or of the undying snake from chaos hatched,
Whose coils contain the ocean,
Into whose chops with naked sword he springs,
Then in black water, tangled by the reeds,
Battles three days and nights,
To be spewed up beside her scalloped shore?
Much snow if falling, winds roar hollowly,
The owl hoots from the elder,
Fear in your heart cries to the loving-cup:
Sorrow to sorrow as the sparks fly upward.
The log groans and confesses:
There is one story and one story only.
Dwell on her graciousness, dwell on her smiling,
Do not forget what flowers
The great boar trampled down in ivy time.
Her brow was creamy as the crested wave,
Her sea-blue eyes were wild
But nothing promised that is not performed.
How ironic that this snow came fast on the Winter Solstice today. As the days in the northern hemisphere begin to lengthen and the promise of brighter days takes hold, we can be happy that the Holly King (the mythical figure of winter) will gradually lose hold and give way to the Oak King. The winter snows will ultimately melt, nourishing the roots of plants that will flourish once again in the springtime. The buds are set, waiting to break forth once the sunlight and warmth are intense enough. It's precisely the promise of life reborn that so many cultures throughout human history have celebrated at this, literally the darkest time of year.
This is a metaphor of sorts for all the trials we face: It so often is indeed darkest before a new cycle of life can resume. While we don't always win every battle, the moments when things seem hopeless are often only temporary and but a prelude to new victories. This can often be the case when one loses a job, when one is diagnosed with cancer, or when one suffers a set-back in the fight for social justice for all people (gay and straight alike), all things I've experienced firsthand over the years. But hope renews just as surely as the days lengthen. So there is a lesson in this time of year when so much of the world celebrates the renewal of life and the resurgence of hope for the future. Even on the darkest longest night, the human spirit is strong enough to dream and work for brighter and longer days to come.
Happy Winter Solstice
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Going to Vermont for a White Christmas? Relax - you'll have 3G service
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I write all this as preamble to Babs' post on the Blue Jersey blog concerning tomorrow's vote on marriage equality in the state senate. I particularly like her final point about making sure we hold Democrats to account and support those who support us. We in the LGBT community are a critical component of the Democratic coalition in New Jersey and, as such, are not to be taken for granted. I know I will do my utmost to support those Democrats who stood with us tomorrow. I will also do everything I can to support challengers to any Democrat who votes against my interests and those of all other same-sex couples in New Jersey in the senate tomorrow.
Here's the direct link to her post: http://www.bluejersey.com/diary/13731/marriage-equality-an-open-letter-to-nj-democrats
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
There were many things I experienced that angered or saddened me, things that made me realize just how much willful ignorance of our laws, our foundational principles, and common decency and respect still prevail in our society. But there were some high points as well: I was met with a smile and a nod from a senator running to get lunch when he saw me wearing my Garden State Equality t-shirt. I got to spend the day with friends old and new (Rich, Rick, Boaz, Jane: you're all beautiful people). I shared my cancer experience with Rich, who proved all the more just how caring and compassionate man he is. I got to have a few moments of levity and silliness (I guess that's why we're called "gay") with my friends. I got to listen to powerful testimony from private citizens, supportive luminaries from the worlds of politics and public affairs, and a particularly rousing speech from Civil Rights legend Julian Bond.
Finally, as the evening wore on, I found myself in a small overflow room sitting next to Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the New Jersey ACLU. We shared some pizza, laughed at some of the funnier aspects of the day, we talked at length, and wondered when she would finally get to testify. It turned out she got her chance, the very last person to testify that day. I had let my ACLU membership lapse, much to my shame. I have so many charitable interests that I'm in danger of losing track of them all. But not in this case. Today I renewed my membership so I could justifiably say that I'm a proud member of the ACLU. And that's because I believe, fiercely, in individual freedom and dignity. I close with Deborah's own recollections from the overflow room: http://www.bluejersey.com/diary/13762/reflections-from-the-overflow-room
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
An Open Letter Calling on Democratic Legislators to Post Marriage Equality Legislation for a Vote
We believe that equality and fairness are fundamental principles of New Jersey's Democratic Party, and that is why we call on the state legislature to vote immediately on, and pass, the marriage equality bill.
New Jersey has a proud history of supporting civil rights. It was this legacy that encouraged many of us to become involved in politics. We believe that allowing committed gay and lesbian couples to marry is, at its core, about treating our family members, friends, coworkers, and neighbors with dignity and respect.
We appreciate that this is a difficult issue for some state legislators. But marriage equality is an idea whose time has come. We are confident that the voters will stand by those elected officials who do the right thing.
When our children and grandchildren look back on this moment, we want to be able to tell them that we, too, did the right thing.
As Martin Luther King poignantly reminded us, "the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." That is why we’re proud to lend our names and our voices to this important cause. We do so in our capacity as private citizens and Democratic voters, and not on behalf of any particular office or organization.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Most recently, the Catholic Church in Maine was instrumental in contributing money to overturn equal civil marriage rights for same-sex couples in the recent Question 1 ballot initiative in Maine, thus stripping same-sex couples of equal civil protections regardless of whether or not those couples were even Catholic. The Catholic Church is also threatening to withhold charity services to the poor and sick in Washington, DC if the District council votes, as it is expected to, to extend civil marriage rights to same-sex couples there. Perhaps I'm picking too much on the Catholic Church when in fact many other denominations have been just as guilty of imposing their sectarian beliefs on society at large. But I can't help being disgusted as I see an institution that has its own checkered history with respect to morality (e.g. the ongoing scandal of priests abusing children while being protected by the Church, most recently in Ireland) seeking to impose its religion-based sectarian views on all of society, Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Nobody is imposing anything on the Catholic Church. I wish they would return the favor.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I've even been thinking of getting a dedicated helmet-mounted camera myself or improvising a handle-bar mount for my existing camera (which can shoot video). In the meantime, I've been exploring videos shot by other cyclists. Some of them are crazy, shooting through traffic while violating every traffic law in the book. Others are a demonstration of how, no matter how much a cyclist obeys the law, drivers can be inattentive, malicious and downright murderous.
But today I saw a series of videos posted on YouTube by Diego Hernando Szczesny Mancilha, a cyclist living in my home town of Porto Alegre, Brazil. He has improvised a helmet mount for a regular camera and has shot videos riding around the city. Having lived in Porto Alegre and faced the terrible driving manners of its citizens as a pedestrian, I think cycling is the last thing I would do there. If American drivers are disrespectful of cyclists, Brazilians are downright hostile. This guy is brave. Here's one of the videos, this one of Diego hurtling down some of the steepest drops in the city. Porto Alegre is well known in Brazil for its hills:
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
My partner and I recently watched a brief but reasonably informative documentary on PBS' Frontline program entitled "Sick Around the World" and providing an overview of systems for providing and insuring health care in very different settings: the UK, Japan, Germany, Switzerland and Taiwan. While there may be many people in the United States who believe, for whatever reason, that we have nothing to learn from the experiences other countries have had, I very much disagree. Each of these countries offers a lesson in how their societies made choices, often very difficult ones, to balance competing objectives with respect to health care: universality, flexibility, efficiency, low cost, good public health outcomes, and patient satisfaction. The results vary a good deal from country to country but one thing keeps emerging, at least to judge from the public health statistics: all these countries achieve better population outcomes (neo-natal mortality, life expectancy, popular satisfaction) at lower costs as a proportion of GDP than is the case in the United States. We obviously have much to learn from these countries and ignore their experience at our peril.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Here's the first of the videos and my favorite:
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
"Rubber Ducky" is my other favorite song:
Happy birthday, "Sesame Street" and welcome to middle age.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Unfortunately, achieving something better than second-class citizen status in our state will take a lot more than writing a check. At the very least, it will take calls every single day to our legislators not only from members of our community but also from our straight allies. The lesbian and gay community is small and, while attendance at the aforementioned meetings was inspiring, too many members of our community are too cynical, apathetic, or ignorant of their own oppression to participate in this effort. Others, after so many years of disappointment, have little hope and even less energy to fight yet another battle. The losses in California in 2008 and in Maine last week, when our rights were put up for a vote (in a way no one else's would be), have only added to this disenchantment. This is why it's all the more important for us to reach out to our friends, family members, and coworkers for help. We are too few in number without the help of our straight allies to offset the shouting and fear-mongering coming from the forces of bigotry.
The forces opposing marriage equality will tell you that marriage equality somehow redefines existing marriages. That's a lie. They will tell you that your children will be taught about homosexuality. That too is a lie. They will say that marriage is a religious institution and that religious institutions will be affected by marriage equality. That is false: civil marriage is granted by the state and New Jersey residents are free, and will always be free, to choose to have that marriage celebrated in a temple, church or mosque of their choice. The state has nothing at all to do with religious marriage and cannot therefore require that any religious institution do anything different than they currently do. The forces of bigotry will try to mislead the public and our elected representatives into thinking that marriage equality is something other than it really is: simply the extension to all New Jersey couples of the civil rights, protections and obligations before the law that currently only opposite-sex couples enjoy. In short, their voices are loud and shrill, qualities which seem too often to hold more sway in our society than the quiet voices of reason.
So I appeal to all my friends and colleagues to join me and my partner and scores of other couples in New Jersey in our effort to gain the same level of equality before the law that our friends in opposite-sex relationships are. If you live in New Jersey, please call your state assembly members and state senator every day starting now. All it takes is a few seconds on the phone with each of their office staffers to tell them your name, that you live in their district, and that you want them to vote to enact full marriage equality for same-sex couples before the end of the year. I do this regularly and it takes absolutely no time at all, the office staffer keeping a tally of how many people call to support marriage equality. Trust me, our enemies are doing the same thing and will stop at nothing to make sure we never achieve our dream of being treated as full citizens of our state.
Looking up your representatives in Trenton is easy. For a search engine as well as talking points, simply go to this link: http://www.gardenstateequality.org/officials/call.html .
Below is the ad my partner and I are helping to air. In addition to calling your legislators, if you would like to contribute to support this ad and the overall effort to persuade the state legislature to enact full equality, please do so by contributing to the Garden State Equality Action Fund.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I urge my friends to please contact their senators, particularly if they sit on the Committee, to support passage of ENDA. A list of the Senators on the Committe is on the left side of this link. While those of us working in companies with explicit non-discrimination policies or living in states with non-discrimination laws on the books may not fear being fired for being gay, lesbian or transgendered, far too many Americans do not have that peace of mind. In particular, transgendered individuals are at special risk, with more than a third of transgendered people having experienced discrimination in the work place. Non-discrimination is good for business as it attracts and retains the best talent and it is the right thing to do. It's about fairness.
Below is the letter I have written to my two Senators:
As the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions holds a hearing this morning on pending legislation to ban employment and other discrimination against lesbian, gay and transgendered individuals, I'd like to take this opportunity to express my strong support for passage of ENDA.
I hope, Senator, that my partner and I can count not only on your support should a bill come to a vote in the Senate, but that you will urge your colleagues in the Committee as well as out of the Committee to support passage of ENDA.
As a resident of New Jersey and an employee of a company that has a nondiscrimination policy, I am aware of the fact that while I enjoy relative peace of mind, so many Americans elsewhere do not. I very much wish to see all Americans throughout our country be able to go to work without fear that their employer will fire them for their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Thank you.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
But instead, I post a letter I received (and published on the No on 1 campaign site) from Jesse Connolly, who ran a valiant effort to sensitize Maine voters to the fundamental inequity of treating lesbian and gay couples as second-class citizens. This vote shows that the road ahead will indeed be very difficult, even in an otherwise progressive state, and that it may be years, many years, before lesbians, gay men, and transgendered people ever experience the level of respect and equality before the law they demand and certainly are entitled to:
Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of Maine voters stood for equality, but in the end, it wasn't enough.
I am proud of the thousands of Mainers who knocked on doors, made phone calls and talked to their family, friends and neighbors about the basic premise of treating all Maine families equally.
And I'm proud of this campaign because the stories we told and the images we shared were of real Mainers -- parents who stood up for their children, and couples who simply wanted to marry the person they love.
We're in this for the long haul. For next week, and next month, and next year-- until all Maine families are treated equally. Because in the end, this has always been about love and family and that will always be something worth fighting for.
Thank you. Thank you for everything you did. Thank you for digging deep and giving one more dollar to run our TV ads, for making those phone calls for one more hour. This campaign was, from the beginning, powered by people like you who rolled up their sleeves and did the hard work of change.
Stay the course.
NO on 1 / Protect Maine Equality
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
For me, this exemplifies the notion of facing a personal challenge, whether related to cancer or not, and conquering it.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I expected to have to wait forever on the phone, or not have access to a live agent, or to be pushed back to UPS. None of that happened. I was connected to a live agent almost immediately who promptly apologized for problem (even though it was UPS' fault), filed an investigation with UPS, and put in a rush replacement order. That investigation must have awakened the folks at UPS because somehow the package appeared on my doorstep a few hours later. Another quick call to Zappo's to request that they cancel the replacement order was met with thanks for letting them know and some friendly banter with the customer service rep. Why can't all online vendors be like them? I suppose brick-and-mortar stores should hope this approach — easy returns, live agents, respect for the customer — doesn't catch on in the online world. I'll definitely be buying from them again and can only hope that Amazon, which has purchased the company, doesn't change their business model.
My friend and fellow cancer survivor Frank pointed me to an article in The New Yorker about their business model: Zappos, the online shoe shopping utopia: newyorker.com
Incidentally, the bike jacket — a Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible — fit perfectly and will help me to keep on biking in cold weather. I opted for the Screaming Yellow color (more like a neon chartreuse) should help keep me visible to even the most absent-minded cell-phone-using careless drivers on the road. It was nice knowing that even had it not fit, I would have been able to return it hassle- and cost-free. Two thumbs up for Zappo's.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Genesio Oliveira, Gay Brazilian Married To Massachusetts Man, Is Denied Asylum
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Friday, October 23, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
While these crimes are horrific by themselves, what is all the more chilling is the common theme running through them: These are crimes motivated by hatred towards the lesbian and gay community and having the effect of terrorizing that entire community. At the federal level as well as in most states, crimes committed against LGBT individuals are not considered hate crimes even when motivated by hate and promoting fear in the LGBT community at large. Furthermore, these crimes are all too often not investigated and/or prosecuted to the extent they should be as a result of the homophobia present in the local police forces and prosecutors' offices across this country. Please call your US Senators to ask them to support the Matthew Shepart Act recently passed by the House of Representatives but awaiting consideration in the Senate. It would give prosecutors added tools to punish, and by so doing, deter hate crimes committed against our community and its members.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
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Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
There is so much that is wrong in the world and it's easy to be either complacent or cynical, to not care or to think things beyond hope. Effecting change is hard work, work it's tempting to leave to others. But the very least, the bare minimum that one can do is at least support those who seek to make the world a better place by joining in, standing up to be counted, and raising one's voice in unison with others. That's why I'm going to Washington, DC this weekend for the National Equality March. Not because I think it alone will wipe away all the hatred and oppression of lesbians and gay men and transgendered people in the United States. I'm not nearly that naïve. But this march is merely the beginning and the bare minimum of what we in this community need to do.
We need to make noise, be it on the phone talking to our representatives — yes, they're our representatives too just as surely as we pay taxes too — or in the streets or in the schools or in the workplace or in our families and among our friends. We each need to do this until this country wakes up to the fact that we are every bit as entitled to the same protections and responsibilities and, yes, respect that our straight friends, coworkers and family members take for granted.
We need to sensitize the people in our lives to stop hurting us by thinking our love somehow less than theirs, by voting for candidates who continue to maintain a body of tax and family law that oppresses us, by talking a lot about tolerance when what they should be doing is practicing respect. This is, sadly, a lifelong amount of work for anyone in the LGBT community who cares enough to want to change all our lives for the better. And it's work that won't get done simply sitting at home in front of the TV or going to a dance club all the while cynically putting down the efforts of well-meaning and hard-working lesbians and gay men to make a change. So this march isn't sufficient. But it sure beats sitting at home doing nothing and just feeling like a victim. Well-behaved and quiet people never effected any change worth a damn in this country's history. It's time to get vocal. That's why I'm going to Washington, DC and that's why I'm going to keep hammering away at issues that matter to this community until we gain full equality.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Activity Details for
Ride with Nathan
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My friend and coworker Nathan and I decided to take advantage of reasonably good weather today and the fact that our entire organization at work was having a United Way fund-raising event at Lewis Morris Park, adjacent to Jockey Hollow National Park near Morristown, to go on a ride in the area together while the rest of the team would stay behind at the park. The tricky thing for me, a novice with only one month of bike ownership, was mapping out a loop that would be long but not too hilly for me. That proved difficult on paper (er, MayMyRide) and, as it turned out, on the road too, the whole area adjacent to the park being very hilly indeed. This was one challenging ride and even Nathan, a seasoned rider (he rode the century at the Philadelphia LIVESTRONG Challenge this year in great time) told me it was hillier than he expected. Well, I did it. Sure, I got off my bike and walked a few yards halfway up the worst two hills (at around mile 13 and mile 18), although in my defense they reached grades of 22% and 16%, respectively, and I was still in a lot of pain from a particularly tough leg workout a couple of days before. My leg routines always produce muscle soreness at their peak 48 hours after training. Not to be outdone by the hills, I managed to have my chain fall out near the very end of the ride as I switched the front gear from a particularly tough climb back into the park after almost 25 miles of riding. Who knew threading a chain back on was so easy?! It took little more than a few seconds to get that baby back on so I consider that yet another right of passage into the world of cycling. Hills, falling chains, aggressive drivers, and more hills. Bring 'em on! I'm ready and feel really good about today.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Here's a brief report on him from CNN:
John Marcotte: California Man Introduces Amendment To Ban Divorce (VIDEO)
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Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
It's been a slow afternoon so I started checking out some of the blogs and tracked one entry on the This is Why You're Fat blog (a collection of food oddities) all the way back to a recipe for something called Meat Cake, a concoction of meat loaf, mashed potatoes and ketchup in cake form. It seems a very efficient way of consuming a meatloaf-with-mashed-potatoes dinner by the slice. Stick a candle in it and it makes a great birthday cake for the meat lover.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
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Monday, August 10, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
How to Squat with Proper Technique without Injuring Yourself
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I care that my adopted country, the United States, has made one costly mistake after another with respect to issues of justice, war, peace, investing in the future, and economic development.
I care that its leaders plunged it into a war of choice at a tremendous cost in human lives and wealth, a cost which will haunt my country for a very long time to come.
I care that there are people in this country who have no access to health care while others, I among them, have access to the very best health care all by virtue of where we work or where we live. Yet the very same people who stood by and, in fact, cheered on the aforementioned costly war now wring their hands at the potential cost of achieving universal health care coverage, a cost that pales in comparison to the cost of war. Apparently it is better to spend a fortune destroying lives than to spend a lesser fortune helping to save them. These same people talk about foreign princes wanting to come to our country as an indication of our health care excellence, ignoring so conveniently the lack of access to that same health care to so many Americans, none of them foreign princes.
I care that we have allowed our cities to lose jobs, people, and quality of life while permitting the leveling of our once beautiful countryside to make way for isolated corporate centers, self-enclosed housing developments consisting of little more than oversized boxes, and shopping centers that have made the once diverse American landscape seem oddly uniform. All this at the cost of congested highways, inefficient transportation systems, and an alarming reliance on energy procured in unstable parts of the world ruled by despots.
I care that our country has all too often, when afforded the choices, sided with tyrants over oppressed people throughout the world, despite the lofty ideals professed by our leaders. The very same leaders who trumpet democracy while overturning democratically-elected governments elsewhere.
I care that in many fundamental respects, those politicians who so often talk about values and patriotism have been the quickest to depart from the ideals behind the founding of this republic more than two centuries ago.
I care that our elected leaders are often quick to do the bidding of industry and other special interest groups over the obvious needs of the people who elected them to office, figuring that campaign contributions from industry groups are more important than earning votes. That they remain in power only proves that their political calculus is correct.
I care that my country lectures other countries on human rights while using torture as a tool to extract confessions, notwithstanding the fact that torture has never been shown to reveal the truth. It only reveals what the tortured thinks the torturer wants to hear.
I care that a president, a constitutional scholar no less, can argue that he has the power to detain people indefinitely even if they have been acquitted of any crime, solely on the suspicion that that person might someday exact revenge for that very same indefinite detention. This is the stuff of Kafka.
I care that in a country which began its life as a refuge for groups that had been oppressed for failing to subscribe to an official religion in their home country, a country whose very constitutional framework enshrined the principal of government having absolutely nothing to say with respect to creed, a country founded by a group of men of diverse and often vague religious beliefs, we now see so many of lawmakers making law based solely on their personal religious beliefs.
I care that the very politicians who argue so strongly that their religious scruples should be the foundation of law are all too quick to violate those very same scruples in their personal actions. They go even further by condemning others for the very actions, such as adultery, they are guilty of.
I care that so many of my fellow Americans, including people I know and love, gladly elect politicians who are only too happy to continue to see people like me, by virtue of whom and how I love, be afforded less protection under the law than they are. I am told that this is for the good our country. I am told that were I treated the same as others, the very country would be in danger, ostensibly at the hand of the god in whom these same people believe. In fact, I am told that were I to enjoy the same civil rights, protections and responsibilities as my "straight" friends and loved ones, their opposite-sex relationships would somehow become meaningless. I am told this is for the sake of tradition, nevermind we have seen many traditions (women as chattel, slavery, perhaps someday torture) thankfully abandoned for the sake of justice and progress. But ignorance dies slowly, apparently. I fear I won't outlive this particular form of ignorance, the ignorance of heterosexism.
I care that my country spends its wealth on wars of choice while actually reducing what it spends on fighting a war of necessity against diseases like cancer, heart disease and AIDS.
I care that we have apparently become a country of people who, for the most part, speak of spirituality and who condemn consumerism, all while lusting after products produced in far-away lands by exploited people.
I care that my outrage isn't shared by everyone. And I worry that in merely expressing that outrage, I am little better than the objects of that same outrage.
I write all this not with the expectation that anyone will actually read it (the obscurity of this blog is protection enough) but merely to list out the many things I have to realize I can do little to change. And in recognizing one person's inability to change everything, I recognize how important it is, in the over-quoted words of Voltaire, to tend my own garden. Not only to focus on only those things I know I can do, but to enjoy the light even when surrounded by darkness.
This occurred to me when talking to a couple of musicians last Saturday at a party. I had only just met them but within moments learned of their knowledge of and commitment to music performance. Here were two people who seemed genuinely happy and satisfied and whose lives revolved around art. We talked about Bach and the topic of his music alone was such a breath of fresh air compared to the constant news of war, politics, corruption, bigotry, racism, homophobia, and hypocrisy.
I can't help envying people who don't evince the sense of outrage I feel. They are probably happier for it. After all, what good is feeling outraged about something (or everything, in my case) while feeling powerless about it. Why should life be robbed of the light (Bach, for example) just for the sake of worrying about the dark?
My partner Sean and I will be leaving on vacation soon, spending a mere week in some quiet out-of-the-way places in New England. Perhaps this will be a time for me to remind myself that it is possible to care too much about that which I can't single-handedly change. I should use it as an opportunity to return to those things, set aside since before my second cancer diagnosis, that dispel the darkness. My Bach recordings will be making the trip with me next week.
Friday, July 10, 2009
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Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
For example, DOMA is defended on the grounds it protects the Federal government's "scarce resources." By that line of reasoning, the Federal government should likewise not recognize opposite-sex marriage. Furthermore, the motion states rather broadly that DOMA is "well-reasoned" and doesn't deprive same-sex couples of any fundamental rights. I guess the over one thousand rights afforded opposite-sex couples under Federal law don't really count.
My favorite part is the statement that DOMA was not motivated by animosity towards gays! Really. So the fact that my partner and I, were we even able to obtain civil marriage in our home state (where we cannot), would not be recognized as a couple in most of the country or by the Federal government is something born out of what then? Is DOMA and act of love for same-sex couples? Is DOMA a gesture of compassion towards couples who simply want to live their lives together, free of fear of discrimination in taxation, in the healthcare system, when they retire, and when one of them dies? It sounds like the usual religious right claptrap about "loving the sinner." No thanks. I don't want this so-called Christian love. What I want is the same set of rights that my opposite-sex married friends take for granted. Please don't tell me that DOMA has nothing to do with anti-gay sentiment. I'm nowhere near stupid enough to buy that.
For more on this filing, check out John Aravosis' citations from this filing in his blog entry. Aravosis goes into more detail and his entry is a must-read for any same-sex couple that is interested in knowing what chance they have of seeing any progress on this issue for our community.
Meanwhile, I'm left saddened that my growing skepticism that the Obama Administration is in any way sympathetic to the LGBT community has found yet more evidence to support it. The president has described himself as a "fierce advocate" for LGBT rights. Yet the LGBT community has seen nothing but silence on issues fundamental to it and now outright hostility.
After all, this is an administration that continues to enforce Don't Ask Don't Tell by separating decorated and uniquely-skilled lesbian and gay service members from the armed forces at a time when our armed forces are already stretched. In fact, a bill written by my representative, Rush Holt, calling for the end of DADT is languishing, with no word of support at all from the White House.
The president continues to enjoy a great deal of forbearance across a wide range of issues, tackling as he does so many problems inherited from the previous administration. But the silence and now hostility from his administration on issues that matter to a community that had disproportionately supported him in the last election, thanks largely to his ostensible "fierce advocacy" for it, is inexplicable. And it's disappointing and discouraging. To judge from the evidence so far, I in my condition of gay man in a loving relationship with another man do not have a friend in the White House.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
EXCLUSIVE: Ex-Gitmo Detainee Lakhdar Boumediene Details Torture - ABC News
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Friday, June 5, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
But this post is not about the failure of our government to do more to combat cancer, particularly as there are hopeful signs that we are waking up to the pressing need for more research and better treatment options for this disease. Rather, it concerns the one thing that humbles me as I do what I can to raise money among my professional colleagues, my friends, and my family members: generosity. I can't help being inspired by the willingness of so many people to give so much.
Many of these people have been closely affect by cancer, either as patients, as care givers, or as people who have lost someone to this disease. As a cancer survivor, I understand now better than ever the motivation, born of a frustration in the face of cancer, to do something, anything, to fight this scourge. For the people who have been robbed by cancer (that's what it feels like to me), it becomes a lifelong need to do something so that others need never suffer the same. The people who have suffered because of cancer and choose to do something about it inspire me because they see themselves not as victims, but as warriors. They have chosen not to be defeated by cancer but to fight back.
But I'm impressed in a different way by the generosity of people who have never suffered the pain and loss of cancer. Those people evidently give not out of a personal experience but rather out of a sense of empathy. They are able to imagine the sense of loss that others must feel. They understand that we all share the costs of cancer as this disease ultimately touches all of us in one way or another. Empathy and compassion are the qualities I've felt I've lacked for much of my life and which I've come to appreciate now as a two-time cancer survivor. I'm humbled by the fact that so many people who have not had to face cancer are nonetheless so ready to give out of precisely the sense of empathy.
So as I see the donations on behalf of my participation in the August 2009 Philadelphia LIVESTRONG Challenge pour in, I feel a deep sense of awe at this abundance of empathy translating into generosity. It is this very quality — the willingness to translate feeling into action — that we need more of in our society today.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|The Colbert Coalition's Anti-Gay Marriage Ad|
Thursday, April 16, 2009
If any state should secede (which no state can, by the way), it should be my own state of New Jersey. In a ranking of the ratio of Federal funds received to Federal taxes paid, New Jersey comes dead last among the fifty states. New Jersey's "return on the tax dollar" is $0.61 while Texas is just below parity. Cry me a river. By the way, among the states with the biggest return on their tax dollar are, you guess it, Alaska (Palin country) and Louisiana (Jindal land). Ah, the irony.
Monday, April 13, 2009
As if that weren't funny enough, some folks opposed to same-sex civil marriage rights are organizing something called Two Million for Marriage but referred to by the abbreviation "2M4M" which sounds more like a personals ad for a male three-way. Do the right wingers even bother to think at all before coming up with this stuff? Here's Rachel Maddow trying to find a discrete way of poking fun at this latest: