Wednesday, December 31, 2008

More Ann Coulter!

The folks over at Media Matters are calling for people to complain to NBC that they are, once again, helping Ann Coulter sell books. She appears often on MSNBC and Fox News -- that's not so surprising; her name attracts viewers, to applaud or despise, and they have 24 hours a day to fill with something. Controversy is their lifeblood, along with pretty missing white girls. But they are outraged that Ann is scheduled to appear on the Today show on January 6th. "Enough is enough!" they say.

I disagree. I say we should have Coulter on the air as often as possible.

Let's face it -- if pressure from "the left" causes networks to stop giving her airtime, it will only give her and her cohorts more proof that liberals control the media, and are hypocritical for saying they support free speech while suppressing conservative opinions.

No, I think a better tactic is to give Ann Coulter plenty of airtime. Let her on every show she wants to be on. Make hers the visible face of right-wing America. Sure, she'll sell a few more books. But meanwhile, people will get to hear her as she calls Al Gore a "total fag," says that women's suffrage "explains the destruction of America," calls for feeding rat poison to Supreme Court Justices, blowing up the New York Times and invading Muslim countries to convert them to Christianity, likens Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler, say that Hillary Clinton would enjoy torturing detainees in Guantanamo, that Jews believe Jesus was a "raving lunatic," and more ridiculous and outrageous comments than I have time to list if I spent all of 2009 at it. Keep her on and talking, and make sure to splash "conservative" all over her -- until finally, actual reasonable conservatives rise up and say, "For God's sake, stop letting this woman speak for us! Shut up, Ann! SHUT UP!"

You know it's pretty bad when, compared to this woman, Pat Buchanan seems like the voice of reason itself.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Drip, drip, drip

Went out and voted around 9:00 AM. The polling place was busy, but there were no lines, which is good since they would be out in the rain. I expect there will be lines later, and the rain is probably going to be sporadic all day, so I hope it doesn't affect turnout. Not that I would expect Obama to lose California -- if the polls are that far off, the election will be over long before it gets to us -- but it could affect the vote for Prop 8 and other state and local issues.

I've never stood in line to vote for more than a few minutes, myself -- California, or at least the areas I've lived, seems to be good in this respect -- so when I see hours-long lines in other states, I'm always a little astonished. I'm glad we have people who are determined enough to vote in these states.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Prop 8

I've been doing a lot of work up in Orange County, particularly in Santa Ana, the last few weeks. Orange County is one of California's more conservative areas, and the area where I've been working is very heavily Latino (and therefore heavily Catholic). So it's hard to look far there without seeing a "Yes on 8" bumper sticker or yard sign. On a few days, there were groups out on street corners waving pro-8 signs.

It was gratifying today, therefore, to see a group on a corner of Bristol Street near the 405 freeway waving "No on 8" signs -- and even more gratifying to hear the many honks of support they were getting from passing cars. It made me feel a bit better about the prospects for Tuesday.

For those who may not know, Proposition 8 is the measure that would amend California's state constitution to restrict marriage to a union between a man and a woman. It's a response to last spring's decision by the state's Supreme Court that laws against such unions violated the California constitution. Since then, an estimate 16,000 same-sex couples have legally tied the knot in the state. Proposition 8, amongst other thing, would throw them into a legal limbo as the courts try to decide whether their marriages could be nullified retroactively.

Even if I had reservations about gay marriage, I have to say that the Yes-on-8 crowd would probably have driving me to a No vote. The signs they were waving made me crazy. "Yes on 8 = Freedom of Religion." ....uh, what? Something is against your religion, so other people can't do it? Wouldn't that be like someone saying, "I'm Jewish, so you can't eat pork"? There are countries which work that way, but they don't have freedom of religion. No one is going to be forced to marry a member of the same sex -- if doing so is against your religion, then don't do it. Seems simple enough.

Now, if the courts specified that churches had to perform and recognize same-sex marriages, that would be quite another thing. But it doesn't. Churches, AFAIK, are free to set their own standards on what marriages they recognize. But the law ought to be the same for everyone.

"Yes on 8 = Free Speech." Say what? Look, just because same sex marriage might be legal doesn't mean you have to like it -- or that you can't express your disapproval. Smoking cigarettes is legal, but that certainly doesn't stop me from saying I think doing so is idiotic. Pre-marital and extra-marital sex are not illegal, but they are certainly frowned upon by most churches and even many non-religious people; they haven't had to take "Thou shalt not commit adultery" out of the Bible yet.

I recognize that many religious people genuinely feel that same-sex marriage violates God's will. But last I checked, God didn't think much of liars, either. And these tactics are at the very least a distraction from the real issue.

I also strongly feel that for many people, religion is merely the excuse to legitimize their homophobia. I don't see groups out there trying to get laws passed against adultery and fornication -- and Jesus talked about those sins often, while he never mentioned homosexuality in any Gospel I've heard of. (I also know some very religious people who are not at all homophobic, some of whom are genuinely conflicted over the issue of same-sex marriage.)

As for me -- well, as I understand it, at least some churches take the position that simply being gay isn't in itself sinful -- but acting on it is. These people, I think should fully support gay marriage -- since everyone knows that once couples are married, they have much less sex. :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thanks, Barack

...for a 30-minute spot reminding me why I've been supporting you all along. That was a nice piece of work.

Sorry to ditch my cynicism for a moment, but I feel it all over again. This guy gets it. Maybe not every single idea of his is the right one, but he gets it. He's going to do his best, he's going to learn from his mistakes, he's going to take his job seriously, he's going to listen as well as lead. He thinks things through. He knows who he's going to be working for, and he won't forget us.

America, let's put this guy in the White House. We need him.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Such a deal...

the $1.29 varieties are on sale for only $1.29? Good to find a bargain in these tough economic times....

Saturday, October 25th

Today, I accomplished the important things I set out to do.

It feels....weird.

Monday, October 20, 2008

"Situation hopeless; off for Wimbeldon finals."

Well, the financial issues which I thought were merely extremely acute and serious, turn out to be slightly worse than that.

Basically: I currently have $3 cash in my wallet, and maybe around $5 in loose change in various places. My checking account is overdrawn up to (and slightly past) my overdraft limit. My credit cards are all more than maxed. I have some gas fumes in the tank of my car. My larder holds approximately one jar of peanut butter and some condiments. I don't get paid for at least five days -- more probably eight -- and, even if I get the maximum I think I can reasonably expect, it still won't bring my bank account balance above zero. But in fact, it's worse than that, since unless I can find at least a little cash, I can't do the rest of the work I have scheduled owing to the aforementioned lack of gas in the car. I've borrowed about as much money as I can from friends and family, I think, and had a salary advance from my employer. I've got an outstanding cash advance from one of those "payday loan" places. And I've just discovered that the only expendable possession immediately available (my digital camera) isn't worth enough to be able to pawn.

Suggestions for immediate action would be strongly welcomed.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I spent almost the entire afternoon being angry. I won't go into why, as I'm not sure how much it matters -- everything was making me angry. It was, in a way, frightening.

Better now. I am hoping it was largely owing to having stupidly allowed my medication to run out. I should be able to remedy this tomorrow. There were also work-related issues, but I don't think I would have stayed so angry, so frustrated, for so many hours, and at so many things, if not for the med withdrawal. I hope so, anyway.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Depressed tonight

Could go on at greater length, but everything seems black and nasty tonight. Finances are the acute worry, but that triggers the whole "Who am I? What do I want to do? Would anyone care if I vanished off the face of the earth? Would anyone even notice? And why doesn't anyone want to play with me?" (The latter applying in many areas of life, from sex to MMORPG's.)

Also feeling largely friendless, which is highly unfair to my friends.

Probably not going to be able to see my therapist next week either --not that I really think it would help -- because they're probably going to send me out of town again, on a work assignment for which I won't get paid (a) enough, or (b) till the following pay period. This job just ain't for me. I need something steady and predictable.


And, I forgot to watch My Name is Earl. Which isn't really depressing, but it is annoying.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Musing on my gender issues

One night earlier this week, I was getting out of my car, when a couple happened to stroll by. I really only saw them from behind. The woman was blonde, wearing a black sleeveless dress and wedged shoes, and was on the arm of a guy whose description I didn't particularly note. "Wow," I thought, "I wish I was her."

Now, this isn't all that uncommon a feeling for me. I have talked often about how seeing a particularly attractive woman walk by will provoke in me a reaction I call the Double Whammy: whereas many men might want her, and many women might want to be her, I want both. Nonetheless, this particular incident stood out a bit for me, and it got me thinking a bit.

In the first place, there really wasn't a double-whammy reaction this time. I felt no particular lust for or wish to be with this woman. Second, I think a lot of it had to do with her being on a man's arm. This isn't because I felt a desire to be with the man -- any man in general, or this man in particular. Rather, I think it was just that it looked so, well, feminine. The notion of walking down the street, looking pretty, on a guy's arm, just seems so attractive.

Then, too, there is a bit of "class envy" mixed in. Not that I have any reason to believe this woman was fabulously rich or anything -- but I've been so spectacularly poor lately that I really can't afford to go out anyplace that I would want to take a date. True, the woman might not have been paying -- but even if so, women who date are expected to spend money in other ways: nice clothes, cosmetics, hair styling and so on. (I've needed a haircut for several months but have been too broke to want to spend the money on it.) So sometimes, the fact that I live in a place surrounded by a lot of "night life" does make one rather wistful.

But that was another part of it: frequently when I have that "wish I was her" sensation, it's pretty depressing. That time, it wasn't particularly. Possibly my "envy" capacity is all being used up right now on people who have disposable incomes, are satisfied in their careers, and so on.

Still -- the particular incident does tend to re-affirm for me that my particular condition is more one of what has been called autogynephilia, rather than being more traditionally transgendered. I know that diagnosis is still rather controversial; and in fact, I myself harbor strong doubts that it applies as widely as its proponents claim. But it still seems to sum up my own feelings more closely than anything else I have come across.

What's that say about me? Probably some things that many women will find disturbing. I don't know how I can satisfy their concerns, to be honest. I don't think any of us are entirely responsible for our feelings, only for our actions. My feelings are very genuine and very deep.

What should I actually do about the situation? Well, for the moment, there's damn all I can do. I'm going to miss out dressing up for Halloween again this year, I am nearly certain. If I ever can get out of my current situation and into a real apartment, then I can consider some options. Long-term, though....I don't know. I keep waiting to figure out who I am, or even who I really want to be.

Friday, October 3, 2008

When atheists attack

Although I am not an atheist, and in fact have found myself growing increasingly uncomfortable with the aggression with which many atheists these days are mocking religion (guys, you might be right, but when 90-plus percent of people believe in something beyond the material, calling them idiots is only going to make them hate you more without accomplishing anything), I found this article in Newsweek to be pretty articulate on what bothers me about Sarah Palin.
What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance.
....a combination she shares, IMHO, with George W. Bush. God (if there is one) help us all.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A couple of thoughts on the VP debate...

I haven't really talked politics on this new blog yet, so, full disclosure going in: I am a Democrat, and I was an early Obama supporter.

Listening to the debate, I think Palin "won" in the sense that I don't think there are any sound bites from the debate that will make her sound as ludicrous as the ones that have been going around YouTube and elsewhere. (When your expectations are negative, zero looks pretty good.) Biden, of course, was right far more often, but that's another question, and in some cases a matter of opinion.

There are a couple of things I wish Biden, or some other big-name Democrat would say, and one thing I would like to say to Sarah Palin.

As to the former: Palin talked a lot about how Obama would raise taxes, and that would kill jobs. To me, "tax cuts" are the Republican equivalent of what they accuse the Democrats of liking to do by "throwing money at the problem." Yes, taxes can have an effect on job creation and other important areas of the economy, but the notion that tax cuts are an economic cure-all is one that we're long overdue to discard. (Further, I resent the notion of job creation by cutting corporate taxes in the name of job creation when many of them could fund the creation of several hundred jobs just by cutting the pay of their CEO to reasonable levels.)

Palin also kept talking about how people want to "get government out of the way." I know Democrats are reluctant to argue this directly, because the phrase "big government" looms over everyone. But the moment! "You know, Governor, government got out of the way of Wall Street, and look what happened. In California, government got out of the way of the energy industry, and the whole state wound up getting raped by Enron. Sometimes, Governor, government needs to get in the way! Which, by the way, is something that was thoroughly understood by Senator McCain's hero Theodore Roosevelt. He got the government in the way of the big trusts. He got government in the way of people who refused to bargain in good faith with organized labor. And he got government in the way of people who wanted to despoil our wilderness instead of preserving it for future generations. Sometimes government isn't the answer. But sometimes it's the only answer."

And finally, directly to Governor Palin: In answer to a question about gay marriage, you made a great point about how "tolerant" you are of gay people. You know what? Screw you. I don't need your tolerance. "Tolerating" something is what you do when you don't like something, but you resolve to put up with it. If you're not really willing to accept it -- then you can take your tolerance and shove it. I'd rather you stopped pretending you're enlightened, and just be honest in your bigotry.

(For those who may not know me, I am not actually gay -- but do have gender identity issues, and I doubt Palin really knows the difference, or cares.)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Two space milestones

For my fellow space geeks, we've had two noteworthy events in the last few days.

First, the Chinese space program had its first spacewalk. This happened on their program's third manned flight. True, the US and the Soviet Union each beat them by forty-five years or so, but third place isn't bad. Apparently their plan is next to construct a small space station, and then proceed with their lunar program. Although I hate to sound like I'm advocating some kind of return to the old space race, I hope that it gives some impetus to the US for its own lunar return program. (One of my few serious disagreements with Barack Obama is that he wants to put NASA's Constellation program on hold. Although I am not entirely convinced Constellation was the correct way to go, the idea of the US being entirely without a manned launch capability when the shuttle stops flying in a few more years is very unsettling to me, particularly when our relations with Russia seem uncertain. I'm hoping that Congress will override Obama on this, if he doesn't change his mind.)

If NASA is falling behind, however, the private sector is working to catch up. A company called SpaceX managed on its fourth launch to put its Falcon 1 spacecraft into orbit, becoming the first entirely private entity to do so. (Very nice video at that link, too.) We're still some years from private companies regularly and routinely putting payloads, let alone people, into orbit -- but it no longer seems out of reach. The question, of course, is whether they can make a profit at it.

I think they can, but proving it may take a while. Meanwhile, three cheers!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hey, Cartoon Network...

Could you do me a favor? Since you run Family Guy about 73 times a week, when you show part one of a two-part episode, could you perhaps mention when (and if) you're planning to run part two? It's kind of hard to judge it intuitively.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mile-High Robbery

I know I said I probably wouldn't be talking about sports again soon, but after todays Chargers/Broncos game....sheesh! I usually try not to let bad calls get me down; I figure they even out in the long run, and besides, if the game is so close that a call changes the outcome, it was probably a random outcome anyway. But today we faced two real whoppers; the last one being a fumble recovered by San Diego with about a minute to go in the game, which was accidentally blown dead before recovery by the head official. The ball was restored to Denver, who scored a couple of plays later.

Don't get me wrong. The Broncos played an excellent game, and I have to give them particular credit for going for the two-point conversion after that touchdown, risking everything for the win instead of the almost-guaranteed tie. I was especially impressed by their quarterback, Jay Cutler; he is one to watch for the future.

The Chargers on the whole didn't do too badly either. With Tomlinson largely sidelined by a toe injury, Darren Sproles more than made up the difference, with a total of 317 yards, including a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 66-yard pass reception. Philip Rivers is looking very good at quarterback, and making full use of all his recievers; Antonio Gates seems to be fully up to speed.

Defensively, neither team was overly imperssive. The Chargers failed to put much pressure on Cutler, which commentators were blaming partly on the fact that we've lost Shawne Merriman for the season; but I think they may not be giving enough credit to Denver's offensive line, bearing in mind that Culter was not sacked once during the previous week's game against Oakland. And Antonio Cromartie, last years' backfield star with 10 interceptions, is off to a very poor start this year; today he had four penalties, and completely failed to stop Broncos reciever Brandon Marshall, who had a franchise record-setting 18 receptions.

So I still think the Chargers have a potential to get into the postseason, but I don't think they're going to be the dominant force in the AFC west that everyone predicted. I'm not really that surprised; they're very close to the same team they were last year, which was certainly a good one, but I never quite understood why people expected this season to be so much better. For that to happen, the defense has to get its act together, and Tomlinson needs to get back to the level of play we all know he's capable of at full health.

But don't write Denver off, either. They too need to work on defense, but their offense may surprise people. The Chargers finish the season against the Broncos in San Diego on December 28th, and that may be the match of the season. If so, I hope we're ready.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sometimes we forget...

...just how good tuna fish sandwiches are.

Wish I had some Fritos with them, but you can't have everything.

Galveston, oh Galveston, I still hear your sea winds blowin'...

Sometimes you need perspective. Spent a lot of last night awake partly because of stress over my financial troubles. I finally got to sleep late, and would probably still be asleep now, but for the fact that someone's loud alarm clock began going off a few hours ago, and I can hear it through my window....and it's still going off. Irritating.

But: I don't live in Galveston. I did watch some of the coverage of hurricane Ike hitting the Texas coast last night, and turned it on again this morning. Although most of the coverage now seems to be focusing on Houston, it's Galveston that seems to me to have borne the worst of it, with the storm surge coming over the sea wall (and parts of the town not covered by the sea wall), and with the eye of the storm having passed right overhead, just off the sea, where the storm is still at nearly full strength. When I went to bed, it was being reported that 911 operators were reaching frantic calls from people who had decided not to evacuate and were now realizing their mistake, asking to be rescued...and being told that it was too dangerous for rescue operations and they were on their own. It's easy to shake your head and figure it's what they get for ignoring the mandatory evacuation order -- including being told they faced certain death if they stayed behind -- but when you hear one guy was calling from waste-deep water on the second floor of his house....well, it's hard not to shiver.

Not that Houston hasn't had it bad. Even if you just consider the millions of people who are without power, and may remain that way for weeks, the hardship is considerable. When you add the flooding, the damage to homes and businesses, the debris all over the roads -- well, it's quite a mess, to say the least.

So suddenly, being short of cash and sleep ain't all that bad.

And meantime, as I've been writing this post, that friggin' alarm clock stopped going off. So at least I'll be able to get a nap in later on. And I have a working television, power, an internet connection, a cell phone, and no water on the floor. Yup, life is looking pretty good today.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


It's amazing how much things can look better after a short nap.

Sept. 10th

Well, looking ahead at my finances for the next couple of weeks, I think I've reached the conclusion that I am now Officially Fucked. I think I can keep my car from being repossessed for another month, and pay my rent for the next two weeks. What I can't do is do those things and also have any money left over to buy gasoline and a few other things I need to actually do work to earn more money. I've extended both my commercial and personal credit about as far as I think it can go, and I have no idea where else I can turn for help. I also have a strong feeling I don't really deserve more help.

Let's face it: I don't like working. I like having money, but I am not motivated by money, in the sense that if you give me a choice between working another hour for another ten or twenty bucks or going home early, "going home early" almost always sounds like the better option. (And if the choice is between working an hour or sleeping in another hour, the contest isn't even close.) Which is one reason why my current job is not a very good fit for me.

I can't really blame my situation on anyone but myself, and maybe not even entirely on myself. Well, that's not true: I could blame a lot of people, and a lot of circumstances. But it boils down to the fact that I owe money in so many directions that I don't see how I can possibly get caught up in any realistic way.

All I can ask is that people who have kids with emotional problems or bad work habits, do something about it now. Maybe it's never too late, but it sure feels too late for me at the moment.

In the sports world...

So the Padres are now officially mathematically eliminated. No big surprise, as I think we'd all pretty much given up on them by the beginning of August. They're playing the Dodgers this week, and I actually was secretly rooting for the Dodgers, who are slightly ahead of Arizona in the division standings. I've been in San Diego close to twenty years now, so I'm definitely a Padres partisan; but having grown up in the Los Angeles area, if the Padres are out of it, the Dodgers are next in line. Besides, since the Angels still have the best record in the majors (though just barely), there's at least an outside chance of a Freeway series....

Not really sure what happened to the Padres this year. People were expecting them to be stronger than last year's team, which came within a half-game of making the playoffs (actually finished in a tie and had to do a single-game tiebreaker). Some of it was injuries, but that didn't seem to be the whole story. Part of it was the fact that our bats just never deliver what it seems they ought to. Just not sure why that seems to have been the case ever since I've been rooting for the team.

Meanwhile, Shawne Merriman has decided to have season-ending surgery, which I think is probably the right decision; we were all nervous about him playing on an injured knee. But after the opening week loss, I think it has Charger fans in a sober mood. I have to admit that I'm not quite sure why everyone has such high expectations for the Chargers this year -- I mean, yes, I expect them to do well, but I don't see what makes them particularly better than last year's team. Hmmm. Well, I'll still be watching most of the games and cheering them on. Not quite sure how I got so hooked on Chargers football, but hey, it's fun.

And that's probably all you'll hear about sports from me for a while. If I'd been actively blogging during the Olympics, you'd have gotten more...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Welcome to The Faulty Bagnose

Time for me to get back into the blogging business! I've decided to start a new one rather than continue the old one, for reasons not entirely clear even for me.

I could write a bunch of personal stuff, and will, but for my first post, I'd like to link to something that I would like to see widely read. It's a long message board post from a Marine officer who has done a couple of tours of duty in Iraq, on the history of Anbar province since the 2003 invasion. The piece, while candid about American mistakes, does not engage in finger-pointing, nor does it argue directly for any particular policy in the future; it simply tells what happened -- how the province went to hell and how it's crawled its way back. It is post number 14 in this thread:

Written by DesertRat, a guy I've never met, but who seems to me to be a pretty shrewd and realistic observer. He explains the situation much better than any magazine piece or news story I've heard for some years.