Monday, January 31, 2005

#11: Thou Shalt Not Vinyasa

Oh, for God's sake. No wonder people look at me like a crazy person when I say I'm a Christian. People like this twit are busy giving me a bad name.

The Bible does not teach that through yoga man can attain progressive higher levels of consciousness so that man will realize he is one with God and merge with Brahman as Hinduism teaches or that man's personality can be extinguished as a flame is extinguished as Buddhism teaches. The Bible does not mention or recognize yoga or any system where man can become one with God.


Yoga is not a panacea, it is a system where man tries to work his way to God. Yoga is not necessary and all of man's works are nothing but dirty rags before the righteousness of God. Why spend one's life in bondage chasing a mirage, spending countless hours doing yoga exercises and meditating, hoping to pull oneself off samsara, the wheel of reincarnation?

I wonder what he thinks Jesus did for forty days and nights in the desert?

Swami Prabhavananda's Yoga and Mysticism lists brain injury, incurable disease, and insanity as potential hazards of wrong yoga practice.

Hmmm...haven't we heard this warning before about a certain other physical activity?

What kind of person would write such nonsense?

Michael Sherif practiced mantra yoga (meditated silently on a supposedly "meaningless" sound which was really the vehicle that drew him into a "Hindu" deity or really a demon from our Christian perspective). He was in bondage to this, in combination with hatha yoga for six years. According to his testimony this was a horrible experience for him. Yoga involvement is really an exercise in a demonic activity which is portrayed as "fun" and "healthy" that can lead to demonic possession. He experienced different states of sensory consciousness which were dark and sterile until Jesus set him free. You may read other articles that deal with witchcraft and New Age bondage at his website:

Oh. Sigh.

Deep Thoughts: Follow-Up

In a recent post, I complained about President Bush's discriminatory comments about same-sex parenting.

Bush said, "Studies have shown that the ideal is where a child is raised in a married family with a man and a woman."

Today, columnist David Corn sets the record straight (uh...pardon the pun):

"When I heard this statement at the time, I scratched my head and wondered whether it was accurate. But, busy as I was with other matters, I did not follow through, as did Benedict Carey of the Times. His story is no surprise. It reports, "Experts say there is no scientific evidence that children raised by gay couples do any worse--socially, academically or emotionally--than their peers raised in more traditional households.""

Bravo, Iraq!

Well, the initial news coming out of Iraq about yesterday's elections is very, very inspiring and encouraging. Given the insurgency's tenacity, it seems virtually a miracle that only 44 people were killed yesterday. Those victims are the true martyrs, not the deluded murderers who commit unspeakable blasphemy in the name of God.

Here's an election scene we don't encounter here in the U.S.:

Still, I feel compelled to point out that the end -- and this is far, far, far from the end -- does not justify the means. Whatever yesterday's successes, it cannot be denied that our invasion and occupation were made on claims that turned out to be utterly false. Had we not destabilized the country and botched the occupation, Iraq's elections might have been held much sooner than they were, and much more peacefully. I firmly believe there was a nonviolent way to oust Saddam from power through diplomatic pressure.

Whatever happens with Iraq's new governmental system and its nascent constitution, members of the Bush administration must still be held accountable for the bad intelligence, bad judgment, lack of foresight and preparation, arrogance, violation of international laws and torture.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Good Luck, Iraq

Well, it's election day in Iraq.

It's no secret I thought the war was not only a bad idea but a grotesque crime against reason and humanity, and even those that have found ways to justify this blunder to themselves have to concede that the execution has been dismal.

Having said that, I want to express my sincerest wishes to the people of Iraq for an election that they can accept as a true statement of their national voice, which for so long has been kept silent. I do hope with all my heart that this is a step forward. To those that risk their lives God bless you for your courage and integrity.

I have heard a number of compelling reasons (the best from Thomas Friedman in the Times) why the election needed to be held now and not postponed; but I still believe the real reason the vote could not have been delayed was that it would have been yet another major embarrassment for George Bush.

We've been through these markers before. First we needed to capture Saddam Hussein, and that would take the gas out of the insurgency, we were told. Then it was the transfer of "sovereignty" to the current "government" last June. (Iraq's sovereignty was not ours to bestow, anyway; and besides, we gave it to a group of people picked by the occupying force. And they still have to defer to the U.S.) Now it's all about the elections.

George Bush keeps asking us to be patient. That's a funny thing from the most dangerously impatient president in history. Where was his patience when international weapons experts were scouring Iraq with unprecedented access? Where was his patience during the diplomatic process?

Given his track record, whatever happens today will be billed as a success. (God willing, maybe it will be.) But I don't think the Americans who view today's elections as an amazing leap forward in the global spread of democracy really understand what's going on over there. In many parts of the country, the candidates have had to remain anonymous for fear of their lives. You know, if you don't even know their name, how do you know what they stand for or what their vision is? They can't campaign in public, and they certainly can't debate. The polling station locations have been kept secret until the last possible minute. How would you like to vote in an election where you had to wait until the day before to find out where you needed to go, fully aware that you are literally risking your life in order to cast a vote for people you know nothing about?

The crazies like Zarqawi, who has taken to spouting comic-book character phrases about the evils of democracy, are not going to give up once the election is over. The candidates have to shed their anonymity today. The winners will be constant targets...and the losers will be, too, for having dared to participate.

Democracy is pretty impotent without security. And there is no security in Iraq.

Americans can't understand the dynamics at work there. Despite the fact that Republicans currently control the Presidency and both houses of Congress, for all intents and purposes there is a balance of power in this country. It will be a challenge, but it's possible Democrats can regain Congress in 2006; the 2008 race for the presidency is wide open. No one is saying a Democrat can't win. Even this President, who claims a "mandate," won with 51% of the vote.

The Sunnis in Iraq, who have controlled the country for the last thirty years or so, constitute about one-third of the population. In a majority-rule Democracy, they will never win. If they followed American congressional rules, they won't even have the votes for a filibuster.

That's not to say that Democracy won't work in Iraq. It can. But somehow -- and on this score we've failed utterly -- we have to convince a third of the population to voluntarily surrender to perpetual minority status, for the sake of the common good. That's going to be a very difficult argument to make.

We'll have to wait and see what the results of the election are, but it seems a safe assumption that most eligible Sunnis aren't going to vote, either out of fear or on principle. This means they'll have even less representation than they deserve. How do we get them to respect the new government as legitimate? That question has not been answered.

Friday, January 28, 2005


A little Friday afternoon humor. If you don't get it, you're not worthy.

Deep Thoughts

Yesterday, President Bush sat down for 40 minutes with correspondents from The New York Times for a wide-ranging interview.

He had a few interesting things to say.

"I think two of the great ironies of history will be that there will be a Palestinian state and a democratic Iraq showing the way forward for people who desperately want to be free."

Does he know what an irony is? Did he mean to add, "despite the fact that I made a huge blunder out of Iraq where I did absolutely everything wrong and that in Palestine, where I could have played an effective role, I stayed on the sidelines"?

I'm just not accustomed to hearing people speak of accomplishing their long- and oft-stated goals as "ironies of history."

He said he was not aware of the recent controversy in Florida -- where his brother is the Governor -- over a law barring homosexuals from adopting children. Sure, he makes banning same-sex marriage in the Constitution a national priority, but he doesn't have time to pay attention to all the little related legal details.

He did add that while "children can receive love from gay couples, studies have shown that the ideal is where a child is raised in a married family with a man and a woman."

Receive "love" from gay couples? Reminds me of the time he expressed his concern that "too many OB/GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country."

Some studies have shown that children raised in same-sex households don't grow up significantly different than their peers. And you know, if they do grow up messed up, it's because they live in a world full of bigots who torment them for being different.

I don't think that anyone is arguing that two biological parents in a stable, committed relationship raising their children isn't a good situation, generally speaking. But there's still no guarantee of that. Just because someone is married and heterosexual doesn't mean they aren't cruel or abusive or neglectful or unfit in some other way. The one thing you can say about same-sex couples is that they have to want children to get them; they don't get saddled with them accidentally. Isn't that worth anything?

The Times says, "He laughed when asked about his admission on Wednesday, during a news conference, that he had not read the article in the periodical Foreign Affairs written in 2000 by Condoleezza Rice, his new secretary of state, laying out his foreign policy."

"I don't know what you think the world is like, but a lot of people don't just sit around reading Foreign Affairs," he said, chuckling. "I know this is shocking to you."

No, but apparently he sits around reading studies on children in same-sex households? And, no, but generally people whose job consists of working with international policy keep abreast of what experts in the field are saying.

He could have said, "Look. I've known Condi for years. I meet with her every day, and virtually the only thing we discuss is foreign policy. I don't need to read a journal article to tell me what her views are."

But no, he made it sound like reading journals is something only out-of-touch eggheads do on rainy afternoons. When did "intellectual" become perjorative in this country?

"The president declined to talk in any detail about his plans for Social Security."

Gee, do you think that might be because a) he doesn't know enough about it to say anything without totally screwing it up or b) there aren't any details or c) all of the above?

"I can't think of any examples where I said, 'Gosh, I wish I had more power,' I felt like I had plenty to do the job."

July 30, 2001: "A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it."

"Torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture."


"I'm aware of exactly the dangers inherent of the democracy movement testing the will of tyrants who were never held to account. And that's why it sometimes takes a while to erode the power and the tyranny."

Good. Then the inevitable collapse of the neocon wing of the GOP and his eventual imprisonment for fraud, treason and war crimes won't come as a surprise to him. It will be one of the great ironies of history.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


From David Corn:

"This week Ted Kennedy called Iraq "Bush's Vietnam." That's really not fair. As the old joke goes, Bush knew how to get out of Vietnam."

The Punishment for Attempted Suicide is...

the death penalty?

The D.A. in California handling the prosecution of the "deranged and suicidal" man who caused yesterday's horrifying commuter train accident said he would probably seek capital punishment in the case.

No, he's not charged with attempted suicide, of course, but for the murder of the accident victims, who presently number 11.

This man is clearly a danger to himself and others, but he's also ill. He certainly needs to be taken out of circulation, but how does killing him achieve anything? It doesn't bring the victims back and it won't deter people from insanity. Pursing capital punishment is a waste of time and money.

Subway Fire Update

From today's New York Times:

"This fire, still under police investigation, has been ruled suspicious; police and fire officials now say it was set, though not necessarily by a homeless person, which was the initial theory."

Find the Lesbians

This is the picture Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings does not want you to see:

It's a still from the PBS children's show "Postcards from Buster," in which an animated rabbit travels around the country visiting children and makes video postcards to send home about his experiences.

He's met children living in a trailer in Virginia, a Mormon family in Utah, a Native American family, and children from fundamentalist Christian and Muslim backgrounds. Recently he traveled to Vermont and met some kids who are raised by a lesbian couple. That episode was scheduled to air on February 2, until it was denounced by Secretary Spellings because "many parents would not want children exposed to a lesbian lifestyle."

Well, there it is, folks, the lesbian lifestyle. (As if all lesbians have the same life.) Sitting around a fire with your children and their friends and their families. Gosh, that's just terrible. My mind reels at the perversity of it all. It's obviously a vulgar and obscene program.

Years ago I worked at the gift shop at Lincoln Center. An elderly woman came up to me and said she was looking for a ballet video as a gift for her granddaughter, and could I recommend something? Well, I really don't know from ballet, but I said, "Here's a lovely Swan Lake from the Kirov." The woman frowned and said, "Doesn't the swan die in that? I don't think that's appropriate." Yes, I understand how seeing a ballerina lie down on a stage and stop dancing could be damaging to a young child.

People! What are you "protecting" your children from? Reality? You think you're doing them a favor by keeping them in the dark? Because someday your kids are going to grow up and leave your house and reality is going to come up and bite them right in the ass. Or it may even happen sooner than that. You're setting them up for a major emotional and spiritual crisis, and you're leaving them utterly unprepared for it. You think that's "protecting" them?

You don't have to approve of the "lesbian lifestyle" or anything else. It is absolutely your prerogative to tell your children you don't approve of this or that and why. But to pretend it doesn't exist is doing your family an incredible disservice. If you think that you can keep your children from "going gay" by leaving them in the dark, you're dumber than I thought you were.

Censorship at the federal level is also not the way to go. If simply showing a pair of lesbians on television, however incidentally, is tantamount to "promotion," then Murder, She Wrote promoted murder, M*A*S*H promoted war and every time someone says "Osama bin Laden" on tv they are promoting terrorism and radical Islam. (Hmm. That must be why Bush never mentions him.)

Also, here's a helpful hint to paranoid parents. Televisions can be turned off and channels can be changed. How's that for a radical concept, if you don't like what's on?

Is there some reason the radical right has to pursue fictional, asexual characters (Tinky Winky, SpongeBob and now Buster, who's guilty by association) in order to advance their ridiculous agenda? Could it be perhaps that they can't find any real gay people who resemble their evil stereotypes?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


I was introduced to this concept last night at a blogger talent show. Just go to and enter a name and see what the internet has to say. Here's some fascinating statements about yours truly.

Andy is a big advocate of shop safety.
Andy is a gambling man. (Sorry, Dad.)
Andy is on the left.
Andy is not a pimp, but he knows one.
Andy is tearing my shower curtain liner.
Andy is the only one who knows what's going on.
Andy is in need of a loving home in California.
Andy is not pretentious, or even trendy.
Andy is going down.
Andy is for sale.
Andy is da bomb.
Andy is gay gay gay gay gay.
Andy is back vuoden 2002 liigamaalivahti anders vilnrotter aloittaa tänään yhteisharjoitukset joukkueen kanssa.

Mathematical Impossibility

Transit officials have revised the estimated duration of repairs to the A/C line down to "six to nine months" from their original warnings of three to five years. That is something of a relief. There was widespread incredulity and outrage that it could take as long as five years to rebuild a single room full of switches, crippling trains depended on by 580,000 riders every day.

The MTA now hopes to have the A train restored to 50% levels within a couple of weeks, and 80% sometime in April. Still, for the time being, nearly 600,000 New Yorkers must contend with what the New York Times yesterday referred to as the "mathematical impossibility of too many passengers wanting to board fewer trains than usual. "

The President of New York City Transit said it could cost $25-60 million to restore "full functionality," which could still take as long as five years. (If we can find $40 million for an inuagural party, we can find $60 million to repair and upgrade the nation's largest and most important transit system.)

The signal system on which the entire NYC subway system depends dates from 1904, based on technology developed in the 1870s. There are only two companies in the country that can manufacture the necessary components; one of these, according to the Times, is in financially shaky condition because of the limited need for such outmoded technology.

It is preposterous that they would consider spending time and money simply to restore the unacceptable, vulnerable, and century-old status quo. In the short term, it's much more expensive to re-vamp the entire system, but that has to be looked upon as a crucial investment. This is a need far more pressing than the development of the far west side of midtown or, God help us, a new stadium for the Jets and campaigning to bring the Olympics here.

The Times has also reported that the subway system experiences roughly 100 fires per month, mostly from debris coming in contact with the third rail. While the prospect of future fires being set by vagrants still poses a threat, the answer is not, as the New York Post opined yesterday, to throw all homeless people in Rikers' Island. The answer is to address the vulnerability. (If taxpayers should be asked to house homeless people in prisons, doesn't it make just as much sense to take the same taxpayer money and provide services and low-cost housing?)

Additionally, in the past decade there have been two fatal accidents resulting from failures in the system.

Imagine a coordinated terrorist plan to set fires in strategic points throughout the system; it would take very little planning, cost nothing, and have a devastating effect: utter chaos for millions for years. Clearly this is an issue of national security; ponder the effects on our economy if no one in New York City could get to work, even for a day. These points must be driven home to our officials.

President George W. Bush

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

Senator Charles Schumer

Representative Charles Rangel

Governor George Pataki

National Transportation Safety Board

Department of Homeland Security

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

On This Day in Middle Earth

Gandalf casts down the Balrog, and passes away. His body lies on the peak of Zirakzigil.

Freakin' Out

Remember yesterday when I quoted The New York Times as saying service on the A train would be reduced by one-third? Today that has been revised. A train service has been reduced to one-third of normal service. The MTA announced that "there are no plans for the restoration of C service in the near future."

So for every nine trains we used to have, there will now be three. Frequency was insufficient as it was; heading downtown in the morning it was not at all uncommon to have difficulty shutting the doors by 145th Street. Going home on the evening rush, sometimes you'd encounter a train so full that there wasn't room for one more person and you'd have to wait for the next. Now that wait, which was around six minutes during rush hours, will be eighteen minutes. There won't be room for you on that one, either.

This is what I mean by "crowded." Forget about getting a seat. You will be lucky even to get on a train. People in my neighborhood really don't have an option. I am a twenty-minute walk to the nearest other line, which is also already overcrowded. Imagine spending approximately two hours of your day, every day, doing this. (That's assuming you only go one place a day.)

With the C train gone, the A train will probably have to make all local stops on weekends, as the B train does not currently run on weekends. The express took about 25 minutes to run from 59th Street/Columbus Circle to my stop at 181st Street. Along the way it stopped at 125th, 145th, 168th and 175th.

Now it will stop at 72nd, 81st, 86th, 96th, 103rd, 110th, 116th, 125th, 135th, 145th, 155th, 163rd, 168th and 175th. It probably adds 10-20 minutes to your travel time, depending on how far you're going.

It will take perhaps five years to restore service.

Did I mention there's a 9% fare increase next month and another one coming in 2006?

The fire, which was reportedly started in a tunnel by a homeless person trying to keep warm, destroyed a room containing signal equipment which told operators where the trains were. So yes, it's mess, and a big one. But I cannot understand a five-year repair estimate. A transit expert interviewed by the Times said this entire subway line was built in five years -- and that was in the 1930s!

According to the Times, daily ridership on the A/C line is 580,000, more than the population of the city of Seattle.

Therefore, I call for an immediate federal investigation and emergency funds. The president of New York City Transit said it was "impossible" to fireproof signal rooms. That's ridiculous. The current signal system dates back to 1904. It's time to modernize, and the new system can't have its crucial components located inside the subway tunnels. The nation's largest and most important mass transit system cannot be this vulnerable, especially given the current terrorist threat. What if there were a similar incident on the 1/9 line? Transportation on the entire west side of Manhattan would be paralyzed.

I think riders could reasonably be expected to deal with this kind of inconvenience for six months, possibly a year. But severely compromising the only transportation available to 580,000 Americans for up to five years is utterly unacceptable. Federal funds must immediately be made available to upgrade and modernize the system as quickly as possible. Currently the MTA wants to take five years to restore the unsatisfactory and vulnerable status quo, while raising fares and forcing customers to endure long waits and inhumane overcrowding.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Really, Really Bad News

Today's commute was truly awful but I decided not to blog about it. It was painfully slow; the conductors weren't sure whether they were supposed to be going express or making all local stops on the A train. There was a fire over the weekend, so the C train, which typically goes local, wasn't running at all.

If you don't live in NY, you might have a hard time imagining the chaos. At rush hour, those local stations are served by two trains, the B and the C. Between 125th Street and 59th Street, those are the only options along Central Park West. Local trains arriving at Columbus Circle to connect with express trains and the Broadway local are always packed to capacity. Now imagine that service on that line has been cut in half.

So now the New York Times reports: "A subway fire that gutted an underground communications room has crippled two of New York City's busiest subway lines, the A and the C, and full service may not be restored for three to five years, officials announced today."


"The A train has been running at two-thirds of its normal frequency, meaning that riders face a wait of 8 to 12 minutes. Service on the C line, which normally runs from 168th Street in Washington Heights, Manhattan, to Euclid Avenue in East New York, Brooklyn, has been suspended indefinitely."

This is really bad news for folks in my neighborhood; the A train is already so full that riding it is pure torture. To think that trains will be even further apart now is devastating, especially since come February monthly tickets go up to $76 from $70. Additionally, if there's going to be no C service for a long time, then the A will have to make at least some additional local stops, and possibly all stops, which is really going to both slow down the ride and add to the passenger overload.

Could it be...Satan?

So there was a little bit of confusion, apparently, when Bush used this particular gesture, above, during his inauguration. "Many Norwegian television viewers were shocked to see President George Bush and his family apparently saluting Satan during his inauguration yesterday," wrote The Scotsman.

(Questions for the reporter: no one watched the inauaguration in Scotland? No one questioned the gesture? Everyone there is a UT fan? Were you on vacation in Oslo?)

Anyway, we all know that to thousands of Texans it represents a Texas Longhorn, the mascot of the University of Texas. However, I don't think we can escape the fact that our national leader, easily the most reviled person on the globe, uses an internationally recognized symbol for Satan as a greeting.

Is it possible that our president is, perhaps unwittingly, in the service of Darkness?

Interestingly The Scotsman also reports that "the sign also means bulls*** in American Sign Language."* (Ironic for so many reasons!) I think the press corps should adopt the gesture for all future conferences whenever the President evades a question or responds with utter nonsense.

My next question: is this person a Texan expressing solidarity, a devil-worshipper, or someone calling the President's bluff?

* The asterisks are from The Scotsman, but I know they will please my Mother.

Another photo and more commentary here.

Couldn't Say it Better Myself

Last week the New York Times printed a semi-interesting Op-Ed on the ongoing hullabaloo over creationism vs evolution and its effect on public education.

Today's paper contained letters to the editor in response, one of which I thought was particularly germane to my earlier posts:

"What evolution threatens is not faith in God but faith in a literalist reading of Genesis; the only reason fundamentalists care about this topic is that their primary faith is not in God but in scriptural inerrancy."

Sunday, January 23, 2005

On This Day in Middle Earth

Gandalf pursues the Balrog to the peak of Zirakzigil.

Friday, January 21, 2005


So I've been wondering lately just why there is such a difference in the way God is portrayed in the Old Testament and the more forgiving, compassionate messages of the New Testament.

I mean, did He have a midlife crisis or something?

But then I thought, no...I bet he sent Jesus because everyone thought He was this horrible, smitey God and He wanted to correct that impression.

For God so loved the world, John tells us, that he gave His only begotten Son.

I welcome your comments.

Attention: Operation Tolerance is Canceled

Dear Fellow Homosexuals and Others:

This top-secret communique hereby officially announces the scrapping of the covert program formerly known as "Operation Tolerance."

It appears that the details of our plans have been discovered and published recently by the American Family Association.

Our oath of allegiance, which we carefully hid on a random webpage at and contained our top-secret passwords "ignorance," "insensitivity," and "bigotry", has been revealed by Don Wildmon of the AFA.

"If you are a person who accepts the homosexual lifestyle, then you are tolerant," he explained. "If you don't, then you are a bigot who is motivated by ignorance and hate."

We are currently investigating the security breach that led to the exposure of our passwords and hidden agenda to turn America queer.

We can be grateful that our secret handshake remains confidential.

The fate of Operation SpongeBath for the Mind, our top-secret brainwashing video project utilizing disco music and underground gay-movement leaders SpongeBob SquarePants, Jimmy Neutron, Winnie the Pooh, Clifford the Big Red Dog and others is currently under discussion. At present we feel it is imperative to do all we can to ensure the distribution and success of Operation SpongeBath before the heterosexuals can counter-attack. We remember too well with sadness last year's shocking pro-heterosexual propaganda, such as that allegedly "amateur" video of Paris Hilton promoting the heterosexual lifestyle, as well as the gratuitous display of a female's breast during the straight movement's annual orgy of "masculinity" known as the Super Bowl, which also included numerous advertisements for sexual performance drugs, which as we all know are used to give closeted gay men erections to fool their clueless wives.

This directive will have no effect on the ongoing Operation Brad Pitt.

Thank you.


Take CNN's poll!

Your options are, "SpongeBob Squarepants is:"
  • Promoting the acceptance of homosexuality
  • Promoting tolerance and diversity
  • Absorbent, yellow and porous



The other headline I thought about for this was, "Would you like a deep-fried Mars bar to go with your sangria?"

In more Times reportage about the inaugural celebration, I came across this horrifying tidbit:

"The most surprising Lone Star delicacy, at least to some locals watching in dismay, was a new drink ordered by a group of Texans: merlot with 7-Up. It was described as a Texas version of sangria."

Inaugural Humor

"Comedian" Rich Little, who performed last night at the inauguration's Constitution Ball, let this little zinger rip:

"Do you think the War on Poverty is over? Why, yes, I think it is, and the poor lost."

Cher Takes the A Train

So I rode to work this morning listening to Cher's Greatest Hits through my Bose noise-reducing headphones. This is a marvelous way to combat my crowd anxiety. The headphones filter out pretty much all that extraneous, distracting "crowd" noise, so you can just close your eyes and dissolve into the music. They also fuction as ear-muffs; it's 14 this morning.

The only problem is that my inner drag queen wants to mouth the words. Is it in his eyes? Oh, no, that's not the way -- you're not listening to all I say! If you wanna know, if he loves you so, it's in his kiss, whoa-oo-oh-oh...

Then I confess it was really difficult to restrain myself from dancing down 50th Street to "Dark Lady." God what a song! No day should start without it.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Fare Increases Adding Up to a Grumpy Ride to Work

Food Prices in New York in Biggest Leap in 14 Years

I hate cold weather. I live in a 70 year-old building in Manhattan. I have no thermostat, just central steam heat that comes through radiators over which I have no control. The heat is either on, or it's not. I don't know whether the super turns on the boiler at regular intervals or whether it's on a timer. If the apartment gets too hot, I can open a window. If it's too cold, I am out of luck.

The rent is almost $1,000 a month.

It was 10 degrees outside yesterday morning. I have spent the last two nights sleeping fully clothed under a down comforter.

For some reason the air conditioning in the men's room where I work is on full blast. I guess they don't want you to stay very long.

The 7:42 A train was six minutes late this morning, so we had about twice as many people as usual. Two stops later, no one else could get on, though they sure tried, holding doors open, trying to squeeze in, delaying us even further. I think we spent at least five minutes at 145th Street with people fighting -- literally -- to get on. We went through that again at 125th, even though the conductor pleaded over the loudspeakers for waiting passengers to let people off the train and patiently wait for the next train if there was no more room. For someone like me who suffers from crowd anxiety, being closed up in a train for 30 minutes packed so tightly that you have people pressed up against you on every side is not a great start to the day.

In a month subway riders get to pay 8.6% more a month for this pleasure. In exchange for this increase, we receive reduced service.

Pay to Pray?

Today more than 1,000 people are expected to pay $50 each to attend an unofficial pre-inauguration prayer service at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in D.C.

And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.

Matthew 6:5

What the Heck* is Wrong with These People???

First it was Jerry Falwell and Tinky Winky.

Now it's James Dobson and Spongebob Squarepants. According to the New York Times, this past Tuesday Dobson spoke at a pre-inaugural dinner attended by members of Congress and accused Spongebob of appearing in a "pro-homosexual video" being mailed to elementary schools that included a pledge for "tolerance for differences of sexual identity."

Jim, honey, Spongebob Squarepants is a cartoon.

Second, the creators of the video say it contains no such pledge. "The video has appeared on television networks, and nothing in it or its accompanying materials refers to sexual identity," reports the Times.

So first he's worried that children will be brainwashed into becoming gay zombies by a cartoon, and second, he doesn't even have his facts straight (pun intended) when he addresses members of Congress! How is anyone supposed to take people like this seriously? Either he's irresponsible, or he's simply lying.

I have news for you. It's this simple: if your children are gay, they're already gay, and they always have been. By going around and complaining about silly stuff like cartoons and disco songs, you're only hurting your own children and tearing apart your own family. (Not to mention making a complete ass of yourself.) And if your children are heterosexual -- and there's at least a 90% chance they are -- no video or anything else can sway them.

So...the country's $7.6 trillion in debt, we've lost a war against a country that didn't have any weapons to defend itself, our President has stolen at least one election, real terrorists are out there and we've done nothing to improve security here at home, 45 million Americans lack insurance, and he's worried about Spongebob Squarepants.

*Happy, mom?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Some People Should Not Blog

This was the entry on a new blog's first post today:

"Can't really think of anything to say !"

Flowers By Irene

I'm currently reading a really interesting NY Times piece about pro-American bloggers inside Iraq. A lot of people are wondering if maybe this isn't some kind of CIA propaganda operation; after all, they point out, the web host the bloggers use is called "CIATech Solutions."

No, no, no, the bloggers explain. That stands for "Complex Internet Applications."

Do you remember The Simpsons' episode 8F03, "Bart the Murderer," where he gets an after-school job mixing Manhattans for Fat Tony? Marge's suspicions are heightened when she notices a pizza-delivery truck with a satellite dish that's been parked across the street from their house for two weeks. "How long does it take to deliver a pizza?" she asks Homer. The truck then speeds off and is instantly replaced by another, very similar-looking vehicle with this logo on the side:


Monday, January 17, 2005

On This Day in Middle Earth

The Fellowship arrives at Caras Galadhon in the evening.

*Regular posts formerly known as "LOTR Update" will now be called "On This Day in Middle Earth," commemorating the events of the story of The Lord of the Rings as dated in the appendices to The Return of the King.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Today's Sermon

In my previous post, "Why God," the supporting arguments I used were so broad that the thrust of the piece was obscured. It became a discussion of whether mere human existence proves God or whether Galileo was a heretic or not. Lost in all of that was the central discussion of "why bad things happen to good people."

My reaction was inspired principally by two columns that appeared at roughly the same time: William Safire's New York Times column about the Book of Job, and a horrible "satire" that appeared on Slate entitled, "Send a Message to God: He has Gone Too Far this Time." When tragedy strikes, there is a tendency for people to think, "Either God is a complete jerk, or he doesn't exist."

What I wanted to argue is that accidents and tragedies are not necessarily all bad. They can have future consequences that are very beneficial, and therefore, I believe to some extent they are part of "the plan."

People want to know how God can allow people to suffer as they oftentimes do.

Some people assume that the tsunami victims must somehow have incurred God's wrath. Speaking at a breakfast before the opening of the 109th Congress this year during memorial remarks for tsunami victims, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) stood up to read from the book of Matthew, chapter 7:

"The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew, and buffeted the house, but it did not collapse; it has been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine, but does not act on them, will be like a fool who built his house on sand: The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew, and buffeted the house, and it collapsed and was completely ruined."

Now you realize that the majority of tsunami victims were Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist. It sure sounds like Mr. DeLay thinks that the Lord sent the wave to punish people who hadn't embraced the Gospel of Christ.

There's compassionate conservatism for you.

Once a Village, Now Nothing
Copyright 2005, The New York Times

But that is not at all the meaning of that passage. It's a parable, like those we discussed earlier. The house is not literally a "house," it represents faith. Those that have a solid foundation in faith are able to maintain their faith when tragedy strikes. Those that have only a passing understanding of their religion -- shaky foundations -- end up deciding that there isn't a God, or that he's a jerk.

As for the people affected by this tragedy, I'd like to steer you to this AP headline: Tsunami Survivors Cling Tightly to Faith.

What does Christ say to us about the victims of tragedy and misfortune? Turn to Luke 13.

"Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered so? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them -- do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."

It really couldn't be clearer. Christ himself says bad things sometimes happen to good people and it has nothing to do with whether they "deserve" it. There is one judgment and one alone, and it comes at the end of time, not with our earthly death.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

LOTR update

The Bridge of Khazad-Dum, and the fall of Gandalf. The Fellowship reaches Nimrodel late at night.


Generally I keep the language in my blogs pretty clean. I think excessive foul language cheapens whatever point you're trying to make; however, I think the occasional use of profanity for the sake of emphasis can actually be done quite eloquently. (Dick Cheney might agree.)

Having said that, I write like I talk. Occasionally I say a word that would get me in trouble with the FCC. But usually, it's pretty tame. So when I got the comment from my mother on the post below this one, I honestly thought she was kidding. I mean, I'm 30 years old. Use the word "shit" once a day and she has to write to complain about your language? And given the unique relationship I have with my mother and her particular sense of humor, I was sure she was kidding.

So I responded by saying, "Fuck off." I thought it was hilarious.


But upon further investigation, it seems she's not so much concerned about word choice as subject matter. Here's what she wrote in an email:

"Well sweetpea I respect you and your views -- I'm not sure about everyone in the family. I think some of the things you write will be something of a surprise or somewhat shocking to some family members. I guess that means the things related to the gay experience. You know I support you and I want you to be happy. I just think that some folks might be a little uncomfortable with your candor."

I have the best mom in the world. I really do. And I'm not just saying that because I'm soooooo in the doghouse right now. Go back through the archives and see the other great, supportive comments my mom has posted. Really, she's the best. I brag about her to my friends. I think we have an exceptional relationship. I was sure that we were so tight she'd know without question that I was kidding.

But now I see what she was really getting at.

I'm trying hard not to be angry here. But it sounds like it's okay with the family that I'm gay, in a sort of abstract, non-sexual way. Thinking about Andy having physical relationships with men makes them uncomfortable.

Well, you know what? That is SO their deal, not mine. That's part of what my blog is about. What right do they even have to be uncomfortable? I hope they enjoy my blog. If they don't, they sure don't have to read it. If they disagree, they can post comments. If they're offended, they can post comments. Or they can privately contact me. No one has.

You see, I think I'm one of the better advocates for the gay movement out there because my public persona is quite mellow, quite "normal," very "non-threatening." A lot of people assume I'm straight. That makes me one of the gays they're "comfortable" with.

But you know what? Being gay is not just about having a fashion sense and enjoying showtunes. I mean, for all of the fighting we have to do to get people to acknowledge that gayness is not just about sex, I'm stuck with the conundrum that people don't want to acknowledge that I have sex. Well, I do. If that makes you uncomfortable, then sit down and get comfortable with it.

Do you know what I've gone through in my life? Do you know how I've struggled to reach acceptance with myself and God and to have a healthy attitude towards sex and relationships? Do you know how uncomfortable I've been for the majority of my life in my own skin?

Do you know how much anger I have at straight people, how jealous I am for how comparatively easy their lives are and how they take that for granted? How they get to flaunt their fancy weddings and their progeny? Do you know how much I detest it when people assume I'm straight? Now, these are my own issues to work through, and they're in progress.

But I'm not going to apologize for one minute for making anyone uncomfortable because of frank talk about sexuality. My whole life has been uncomfortable. It's your turn. Deal with reality.

Now. This was not addressed to my mother. My mother and I have our own little issue right now which with God's grace we will resolve. I'm not worried.

It was also not addressed to any particular family members. I have been so, so, so very lucky with my family in terms of their open mindedness and support. This goes to any reader in general. My blog is my blog. It's just for me. I write about things I want to get out. I hope you check in from time to time. If something interests you, great. If you say to yourself, "Well, this is not so interesting" or "I don't like to read about things like this" that is your prerogative.

There is a war on in this country, if you hadn't noticed. A war that people like me run a great risk of losing, currently. As far as I'm concerned, it's fight or die. One of the things the religious right wants is for us to just go away, or at least stop injecting reality into their pretty little pictures of how things should be. Well, I don't intend to play along.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Lying Sack of Shit

On January 5, "President" Bush traveled to Collinsville, Illinois, to discuss tort reform. The basic premise is this: "runaway juries" give such outlandish awards to "frivolous" malpractice lawsuits that insurance companies, HMO's, doctors, hospitals and drug companies are being run out of business.

His handlers picked this location because St. Clair county and neighboring Madison county have had 720 malpractice lawsuits filed in the past seven years. Sounds like a lot, right?


14: Number of those cases that actually went to trial and got a jury verdict.

7: Number of cases decided in favor of the plaintiff.

1: the number of jury awards that exceeded the President's proposed damages cap of $250,000.


Now, having sat on a malpractice jury myself, let me say there is such a thing out there as a frivolous lawsuit. The case I sat on had absolutely zippo merit whatsoever. It still costs the doctors money to defend themselves.

Most of those cases referenced above were presumably settled out of court, but that's likely because the doctors assumed they would lose so they chose to offer an acceptable amount rather than leave it up to a jury to decide.

Fair enough. But research indicates that the costs associated with malpractice lawsuits contribute to about one-half of one percent of health care costs.

Two alternative proposals being discussed -- though not by the White House, which is merely trying to safeguard the profits of private hospitals, wealthy doctors and drug companies -- include establishing an independent malpractice suit review panel that would determine whether there was merit to a particular case before it was allowed to go to trial, or establishing a separate branch of courts with judges trained in malpractice issues. Additionally, a majority of malpractice cases are brought against the same doctors over and over and over again. Those doctors need to go.

Malpractice does occur. Sometimes people's lives are destroyed by careless doctors...or by drug companies that suppress negative data. Bush is currently supporting legislation that would make it illegal to sue the manufacturer of any drug that had received FDA approval, even if that approval was later withdrawn. Vioxx was approved by the FDA.

Just like with WMD's and Social Security, this is another bogus "crisis" with a "solution" that is predicated on lies and is really just a hand-out to special interests.

The Democratic Party's North Star

A recent speech by Senator Edward Kennedy about the direction Democrats must take.

Decision '05: The Iraqi Vote

So there's this election coming up in Iraq at the end of this month.

Ah, elections. We know the drill. The primary process, the mailings, the pleas for donations, the debates, the endless, horrible television commercials, the parade of talking heads spinning this that and everything else on the cable channels...

In Iraq, the names of the candidates are confidential because otherwise they will be assassinated.

Way to go, George.

LOTR update

The Fellowship spends the night in Hall Twenty-One of Moria.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

LOTR update

The Fellowship is attacked by Wargs in the early hours; they reach the West-Gate of Moria at nightfall. Gollum begins to trail the Ringbearer.

Fantasy Island

Many times I wish I could move to a big island that had nothing but gay people.

But I don't think there's any island gayer than Manhattan, and that is a depressing thought.

Calling off the Dogs

So the White House has officially called off the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Are they nuts? Who's handling public relations for them? For an administration that refuses to admit making any mistakes, canceling the search is like standing on a big hill and waving a white flag. If they had any sense they'd at least keep up the pretense.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Why God

In the aftermath of last month’s catastrophic tsunami in south Asia and Africa, a lot of people find themselves asking questions. New York Times columnist William Safire perhaps phrased it best when he opened a column on the topic with the following: “Where was God? Why does a good and all-powerful deity permit such evil and grief to fall on so many thousands of innocents? What did these people do to deserve such suffering?”

Go ahead. Ask these questions. How can you hope to have any answers if you won’t ask the questions?

Some people, as in the case of one unfortunate letter writer to the Times, “wonder why they don't just accept the obvious conclusion that God does not exist.”

Oh really? Look at your body. Look at the incredibly complex system of systems that is a human being. Look at how it interacts with the various natural systems of our planet, and how our planet interacts with the universe. When you breathe, your lungs take in oxygen (and if you breathe through your nose, it passes through a hairy filter system to keep out impurities, meanwhile warming and moistening the air for comfort), and this oxygen is picked up by the circulatory system, which carries it to all the cells of your body, then picks up waste and carries it to the various organs that get rid of it. Your lungs expel carbon dioxide, which plants take in and convert to oxygen for us to breathe again.

This is an accident?

A mother’s body produces liquid food for newborn infants. This is an accident?

When you are hot, you produce sweat, which is not only a built-in cooling system, it’s part of your natural mechanism for expelling wastes and toxins. When you’re ill, you get a fever because the offending bacteria can’t survive at the higher temperature. This is an accident?

The gravitational pull of the moon affects the ocean’s tides, but it also demonstrably affects human behavior and women’s menstrual cycles. When women live together over a period of time, their cycles tend to synchronize. This is a coincidence?

Look at a rose. Or a tulip. Or a field of vibrant red Tuscan poppies. Or even a humble dandelion. A fresh strawberry. The sexual organs of plants. Human organs, too, bloom, grow and turn vibrant colors. One of the euphemisms for an orgasm is “seeing God.” Think about it.

Consider the origin of the planet. The conditions that are necessary to sustain life. Now look at Michelangelo’s sculpture of David. (You might even want to consider the marvelous, shimmering translucent marble of which the sculpture itself is made.) Consider the inspiration, the talent, the dedication necessary to make such an artifact. You would have me accept that all of this is the result of some geological, chemical and biological coincidence?

The plays of Shakespeare. The pyramids of Giza. The Apollo space missions. The music of Mozart. Think of all the individual instruments that make up an orchestra. Someone invented them. Someone else built them. Someone taught these musicians how to play. Somehow they all gather together to interpret a system of notation that reproduces a sound that Mozart heard in his mind. Listen to the silver voice of Kiri Te Kanawa singing “Dove sono.”

Have you ever been in love?

I could go on, and on, and on, and on.

And yet, if there is no God, then everything around us, every single thing that exists in the entire universe, you, and every person you know, is simply the product of random chance.

Frankly, that prospect is much more difficult for me to believe than the concept of an Almighty God.

So why, then, is there evil and suffering in the world?

I think this is beyond man’s capacity to understand. That is hard to accept. Man has an innate desire to understand his world and his surroundings, and to question things. If we didn’t, we’d still be in caves. (Though we wouldn’t even have primitive tools and cave paintings.) But if you accept that God designed the universe, from the vast complexity of galaxies and solar systems down to the iris of your eye which adjusts according to the light and helps you focus, then it’s not such a leap of faith to reach the conclusion that He knows what He’s doing.

A friend once explained it this way: have you ever seen needlepoint? When you look at it from the back – our perspective – it’s a big mess of knots, loose threads, loops and jumbled colors. It’s also backwards. But when you see it from the front – God’s perspective – the picture is perfectly clear.

But you know, if you accept this premise, you can spend some time staring at the jumbled, messy, backwards picture, and parts of it will begin to make sense.

So ask these questions. People who tell you not to question God have no faith. Really, they don’t. They don’t because they never asked the questions. They don’t know for themselves. They are afraid. They're afraid of being exposed as the self-righteous pontificating frauds they are.

It’s true that we use phrases like “putting the fear of God” into someone. In several places the Bible talks about the necessity of fearing God. But I don’t think living in quaking terror of the Divine is what is intended. I believe it’s more an issue of having respect for the ultimate power.

Whenever an angel appears in the Bible, his greeting is not, “Hey, how are ya?” but rather, “Fear not!” God himself uses this salutation. A quick search on an internet concordance reveals the phrase “fear not” occurs 139 times in the Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

The problem is that many people have expectations of God. That’s a little arrogant, don’t you think? Rather, He has expectations of us. We ask a question, and expect a quick, clear answer, as if by sometime this afternoon there will be an email from, subject heading “re: Inquiry 943,302,524,239,120,873,320B-4” that begins, “Dear Supplicant, thank you for your recent inquiry regarding…”

Sometimes people don’t like the answers they get. But if you asked me, “Does this dress make my butt look fat?” and you don’t like my answer, you don’t doubt my existence.

People of many faiths spend their entire lives in prayer and meditation in an effort to achieve enlightenment. Many answers can be revealed. But I don’t think any mortal has ever comprehended the secret of the universe. When Moses ascended Mt. Sinai to receive God’s law, he was gone for forty days! And still there was a lot of ground that didn’t get covered.

Additionally, God has a tendency to refrain from speaking literally. Or literally speaking. Notice how Jesus communicated almost exclusively through parables. It’s not a sin to build your house on sand, it’s just not a very good idea. He also tended not to explain many of these parables; He left them for us to consider the lessons hidden within.

Incidentally, this is why I think one of the lessons of the parables is to caution against taking the Bible too literally. Jesus wasn’t really talking about fig trees. I am one of the people, like Galileo condemned by the church for heresy, that believes that science – theory of evolution included – is not at all in opposition to the idea of an all-powerful Creator. The fact that I don’t accept parts of Genesis as literally true does not mean that the contents are not, in some way, truthful. The Bible says God created Adam from the dust of the earth. Darwin says we are descended from monkeys. (Pardon the gross oversimplification.) But literally, what is your body? Carbon and water. So is a monkey’s. I don’t see that the two theories are mutually exclusive.

People who are afraid of the theory of evolution fear it because they have not bothered to ask God about it.

But let’s get back to the troubling, eternal question before us. If God is all powerful, if God is all-knowing, if God is Love, then why do pain and suffering exist? Wherefore tragedy?

Again, we come back to the unsatisfying answer that we mere mortals cannot see God’s full purpose. But if you check back with the Bible, you will see no mention anywhere that earthly existence is supposed to be free of suffering, free of loss, free of doubt. In fact, that is earthly existence. God does not owe you anything beyond what He has already abundantly provided you in His magnificent creation. He makes no promises to you regarding your time on earth. His promises concern your immortal soul. Stick with Him through this painful life, trust that you are in His hands, trust that He loves you, recognize His role in your life, and your eternal reward, like God Himself, will be beyond man’s capacity for understanding.

Look at Jesus’ life. He was poor. He was persecuted. He suffered a horrible death. His time on earth wasn’t all that great. Why should we expect our earthly lives to be any different?

Time out for a parable: twelve years ago, when I visited New York City for the first time, I had a turbaned Sikh cab driver take me Kennedy airport for my flight back to Oregon. He was chatty and I told him this was my first trip. He said, “Oh, and how do you like it?” I said, “Well…there’s a lot of really great things, and there’s some stuff that’s not so great, either.” He chuckled and said, “A coin that doesn’t have two sides isn’t worth anything.”

I think we, as humans, have this idea that our lives are the product of good things that happened in the past. You know, your parents met, fell in love, and here you are. Aw. But somewhere in your ancestral past, I am confident, there is horrible tragedy. War. Murder. Sickness. Natural catastrophe.

Say for example, you are Italian. Your family origins can be traced to the Tuscan hillside fortress-city of Siena. In the years between 1340 and 1350, statistics show that over 1,000 people a year died from bubonic plague. Somewhere in history, a distant relative of yours lost his entire family, everyone he knew, everyone he loved. Gone. “Perche, Signor?” he wailed. “Quanta miseria, sono solo nel mondo, ahime!” Hoping to escape from despair, he left the walled city and moved to a smaller rural hamlet. There he met a beautiful young woman and started a family. Seven-hundred years later, here you are.

Your mother’s family is from England. In the early 1700s a pretty young maiden was betrothed to a handsome admiral from a good family. Unfortunately, he was lost at sea in a terrible storm. She was devastated and heartbroken. For years she remained inconsolable. But then as fate would have it, one day she met another fine man who fell in love with her. They married, and it’s part of his DNA that you carry, not the drowned admiral’s.

You see, we are mostly unaware of the forces in the world that shape our lives. They are not always kind. They are not always gentle. The repercussions of catastrophes, natural and otherwise, stretch out over years, decades, centuries, and eons. The theory goes that an asteroid caused the death of the dinosaurs. Imagine for a second that that never happened. What chance would early humans have had in this world trying to co-exist with the T-Rex? We’ll never know.

This, inconveniently, brings us to the issue of predestination vs. free will. If everything is preordained, then we have no choice in our lives. And yet we know we do have choice. Still, if you go back to the top of this commentary, it’s hard to dismiss the concept of a divine blueprint for the universe. This conundrum, like so many other things, exceeds man’s capacity for conscious understanding, because human logic is not God’s logic. But I believe in the dimension in which God exists they are interrelated.

Jesus’ passion and death was the fulfillment of ancient Hebrew prophecies: predestination. And yet Judas chose to betray Him. Peter chose to deny Him. The crowd chose to release the murderer Barabbas. Pilate chose to acquiesce to the mob. In the Bible, destiny and free will are not in conflict.

What role does God play in our daily lives? This is a topic for heated debate. The Old Testament refers constantly to a city-smiting, flood-causing God whose habit of summary judgment had people dropping dead left and right and changing into pillars of salt. Punishment.

But then Jesus came. Show me a passage in the Bible where Jesus punished anyone. He criticized, he rebuked. He even got angry, when he chased the moneychangers out of the temple. He was God. He could restore a severed ear with the gentle touch of his hand, cure leprosy and blindness, and raise from the dead. One would assume he could also have pointed his finger and reduced sinners to a smoking heap. He never did. Jesus spoke of forgiveness.

Jesus cautioned us against storing up treasures for ourselves on earth. He taught that it is easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle than to enter into Heaven. The plan could have called for him to be born to a wealthy and powerful family – the son of a king, perhaps. What tremendous influence He might have had then! But no, Jesus walked the earth as a poor man, relying on the charity of others for food and shelter.

Yet many people mistake wealth and earthly influence or success as signs of divine favor. If Jesus did not punish us while we lived, then neither did He reward us. There is one judgment, and one alone, and it comes at the end of days. (By the way, a note to Tim LaHaye and his ilk: St. Mark tells us, “No man knows the hour or the day,” chapter 13, verse 32.)

I do accept that God provides us with many opportunities to do His will, and that probably includes bringing us at times to places and positions of influence. Perhaps some people are, in fact, destined to lead. But they are still responsible for the decisions they make, as the lessons of Christ’s passion teach us.

In the wake of the 2004 election, many conservatives viewed Bush’s victory as a sign of God’s approval. Bob Jones wrote, “God has graciously granted America—though she doesn't deserve it—a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be like the clear and certain sound of a trumpet. Because you seek the Lord daily, we who know the Lord will follow that kind of voice eagerly.” But if you accept this argument, you must also accept that God wanted Bill Clinton in charge for eight years. For that matter, God must have put Saddam Hussein in charge of Iraq for a while and chose Hitler to lead Germany. He must have brought Osama bin Laden to the position of extraordinary influence that he exerts in the middle east. An uncomfortable thought, yes? Why would He do that? Well, why last month’s tsunami? Why the San Francisco earthquake of 1906? Why cancer? Why aren't deluxe bacon cheeseburgers healthy?

I don’t know. You’ll have to ask God. Just be prepared to wait a millennium or so for the answer to become clear.

Personally, though, I don’t believe God needs to rig elections for His candidate to win. Just sayin’, is all.

And so we are called upon to stare tragedy in the face, and see what good we can make of it. This is our great task. The Lord asks of us to maintain faith, to not give in to despair, to trust His will, and to trust that when our motives are pure, that He will assist us in doing His work.

I turn now to the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Mere words cannot describe the agony of those hours. Why? How?

But in the few short days that followed, while the ruins still lay burning, a miracle manifested itself in plain sight. Can you think of any time in earth’s history when the entire planet was more united in an expression of grief, sympathy and solidarity? The whole world was convulsed in horror at the brutality and carnage. Billions grieved for the loss of strangers they could never have known. Here was a golden opportunity, such has come, truly, only once in the history of mankind. Yes, that is how singular that day was.

Christ commands us to reach out to our enemies. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44) Or, “Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6:27) “Do not resist one who is evil; if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the left also.” (Matthew 5:39) “To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your shirt.” (Luke 6:29)

Now, that’s hard. That’s just very, very hard. Is it smart foreign policy? I don’t know, you’ll have to ask God. But for a President who claims to be guided by his Christian faith – and I freely confess I am in no position to doubt him nor have I authority to judge him – what Bush did next is hard to justify on a Scriptural basis. He chose war. Was that wise? Can any good come of it? Well, we’ll just have to wait, pray, trust and see.

Our daily lives are filled with miracles; we must just open our eyes to see them. Our daily lives are also filled with sorrow. Why?

You’ll have to ask God.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

LOTR update

The attempt to cross the Pass of Caradhras fails.

The War Escalates

No, I'm not talking about Iraq.

My friends, some scary, scary things are going on in this country right now.

A couple of days ago I briefly blogged about a proposal to change Virginia's license plates to anti-homosexual propaganda. This past Sunday afternoon I was home nursing my cold, listening to Janeane Garofalo on Air America. They did an interview with a representative of a Virginia state troopers' association, who explained why he felt the tags were necessary.

Now, these "tags" would be specialty license plates, so I guess we're operating on the assumption that only pro-traditional marriage types would have them (i.e., no gays). The man felt that this was an essential law-enforcement tool, so that troopers would have advance warning of the kind of "situation" they might find themselves in. For example, he said, "If you pull over a car for speeding that has the pro-marriage tags, this might be a heterosexual couple on their way home to have normal relations. If they don't have the tag, they could be on their way to some kind of drag situation, and I'm not talking about racing."

Yeah, he said that. I checked with a friend of mine from Virginia to see if drag was illegal there. It's not. Still, though, it's certainly understandable. Drag queens exceeding the speed limit could mean all kinds of trouble.

But there's more.

You see, there's such a thing as accidental fellatio. The tags would prevent young, innocent Christian officers from being "accidentally fellated." "It has happened before," the man insisted.

You have to wonder if he's speaking from personal experience.

"You have no idea of the seductive powers of a homosexual," he added.

Now, having seduced a straight man or two myself in my day (hey, that's what college is for!), I'm just going to take that as a compliment. But seriously, folks. Let's talk about this. There is all the difference in the world between seduction and rape. I didn't do anything with those guys that they didn't want to do. They just needed, shall we say, a little encouragement. There is no way to get someone to do something sexually against their will without some sort of threat or force. But that's not seduction.

Think of it in your own terms. Find someone, just out in public, that you are singularly unattracted to. Ask yourself, under what circumstances would you agree to have sex with this person? (If you're heterosexual, go whole-hog and try this experiment with a stranger of the same sex.) What would this person have to do to seduce you? Can you imagine any scenario in which you would find this person "accidentally" performing oral sex on you?

No, me neither. But apparently in Virginia it's so common that the police need some kind of early-warning system to prevent situations that previously have only been known to occur in low-budget porn films.

But, wait, there's more! In the same segment, they did an interview with someone from the American Family Association about why the recent animated film Shark Tale has a pro-homosexual message. The representative actually complained that the film sends the message that you should accept people for who they are. Like, if this were a lefty comedy sketch on The Daily Show spoofing uptight religious right people, it would be hilarious. But this guy was deadly serious. Please, if you need a laugh, click the link for the AFA's review to read about this poor cross-dressing, closet-vegetarian shark. (I wonder why they didn't do a similar review of X-2, when Iceman "came out" to his family about being a mutant.)

Yesterday the Supreme Court refused to hear arguments contesting Florida's new law which prohibits adoption by homosexuals.

I'm not through.

An interview in The Guardian appeared last month with Alabama Representative Gerald Allen, who is a Republican, if you didn't already surmise that. Congressman Allen has recently introduced a bill that would ban the use of state funds to purchase any books or other materials that "promote homosexuality." Allen does not want taxpayers' money to support "positive depictions of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle."

Among the targets are Tennessee Williams for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Alice Walker for The Color Purple. (These are positive depictions of homosexuality?)

Allen says, "We have an obligation to save society from moral destruction. We have to prevent liberal librarians and trendy teachers from re-engineering society's fabric in the minds of our children. We have to protect Alabamians."

Asked if such actions constitute censorship, Allen said no, and explained, "For instance, there's a reason for stop lights. You're driving a vehicle, you see that stop light, and I hope you stop." (You'd better have a pro-marriage license plate, if you don't.)

I don't know what he means, either. Just once I'd like to hear an explanation of what's wrong with homosexuality from someone who isn't a complete fucking moron.

So my friends, let this be a warning: the enemies of fairness and equality are stepping up their attacks. The good news is, they're not very bright.

Play This Up, People!

I never read the "Boldface Names" column in the NY Times because I really don't care, and I rarely know who the names are anyway. However, today's column is about what happened when Michael Moore and Mel Gibson met up yesterday at the People's Choice Awards.

It's absolutely true that the press, at least, has tagged Fahrenheit 9/11 as the blue-state movie of 2004 and Passion of the Christ as the battle-standard of the "moral values" red-state voters. Frank Rich, a columnist whom I greatly admire, has repeatedly made this comparison.

Gibson's response?

"They're trying to pit us against each other in the press, but it's a hologram. They really have got nothing to do with one another."

Moore's response?

"I saw it twice. It's a very powerful film. I'm a practicing Catholic. The great thing about this country is the diversity of voices. When we limit the voices, we cease being a free society."

Now, here's the kicker. Gibson went on to say, "He makes some salient points. There was some very expert, elliptical editing going on. However, what the hell are we doing in Iraq? No one can explain to me in a reasonable manner that I can accept why we're there, why we went there, and why we're still there."

I wish this quote wasn't buried in the socialite column. How I wish I could confront the slobbering Christian right with it. I'd just like to see their reaction. Maybe they'd start boycotting Gibson and his movies?

Monday, January 10, 2005

MANHATTAN MAN ATTACKED BY GIANT OCTOPUS: No, just kidding. It's my acupuncture hickeys. Seriously, though, on my way home from work I thought to myself, if I died in some kind of freak accident, the coroner would probably look at me and conclude that I had been participating in some kind of bizarre sex ritual. Good thing I don't have to do any go-go dancing this week. Posted by Hello

Curing a Cold the Old-Fashioned Way. Really Old-Fashioned.

So, I just got back to my job from a trip to the acupuncturist. He's just a couple blocks away so I had hoped that I'd be gone a little over an hour, but he felt my condition was relatively severe and needed pretty aggressive treatment, so I was actually gone for two hours and fifteen minutes. Oh well.

Anyway, he started by using these heated glass bowls on my back, which, when inverted, act like a vacuum and increase blood flow and expel toxins and pathogens. It sort of felt like having giant clothespins up and down my back. Kinda good and yet kinda not. I bruise easily, so I'm dying to see what my back looks like when I get home. If it's good I'll take a picture. I'm envisioning something like a giant octopus attack.

So those came off and then he put some needles in my back and left me there for another ten minutes or so, and then he flipped me over and poked me in all my favorite places: eyebrows, the cheeks over the sinus passages, the muscle between the thumb and index finger, a couple places on my feet, a couple of abdomen points, the "lung" points near the armpits, and last, but not least, one in the soft spot at the bottom of the throat right over the ribcage.

Now, with me, when I have acupuncture to open up the sinuses, it's like turning on a faucet. All that junk starts to just slide right out and down the throat. Yeah, it's gross. But it's amazing!

Unfortunately, because I was lying down, at one point a big wad of crud got stuck right in the back of my throat, prompting a rather violent coughing attack. Oh, my friends, you don't know joy until you're coughing your head off with a needle jammed in under your adam's apple, among other places. Ow.

So the doctor came in and said, wryly, "Well, that doesn't sound right." He went to the needles in my cheeks, arms, hands and feet and sort of twisted them around, in the same way you'd fiddle with knobs on a stereo to get better reception. Then, having set me to "don't cough," he left me for a few more minutes.

Once that was done, he gave me my prescriptions:

Fritillaria and Pinellia Syrup: 1 tsp. 3-4 times a day

Er Chen Wan: 5-6 tablets twice a day

Minor Bluegreen Dragon: 2 tablets 3 times a day

N-acetyl cysteine: 1-2 tablets once daily

Pure licorice: 1 dropperful three times a day

Hot cocoa, as needed, to soothe cough. No, really. The real stuff, though, not that ultra-processed Swiss Miss crap that's more caca than cocoa. My mom will flip because she swears that chocolate is a virus' best friend. I asked the doctor about that and he said, "What? That's ridiculous."

See...wouldn't you rather go to a doctor who prescribes hot chocolate than some disgusting laboratory chemical?

A Note to My Fellow A-Train Riders

I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.

I had the worst coughing fit on the subway this morning. I felt like an escapee from the TB ward. My head was pounding, my stomach muscles ache from the force of the constant coughing, I feel awful. I came this close to getting off at 125th Street and going home, but I'm desperate for the money so I need to go to work; plus, I hope to see my doctor today, and his office is like 10 blocks from the office, so I figured I might as well make the trip. Assuming I can get in (please, please don't be on vacation), maybe he will tell me to go home. I feel horrible. This isn't supposed to last this long.

Anyway. I saw you shooting dagger-looks at me this morning, silently shouting, "Don't you dare get me sick, pal." I know. I usually do it myself. Especially when I used to sing, I was like, "You inconsiderate shit, don't you know that some people's health is their livelihood? You're sick, stay home and keep your germs to yourself and get better, sheesh, have a little sense of responsibility."

So, I know. I'm sorry. Believe me, I want to be home. There's no place else I'd rather be. If someone walked up to me right now with a briefcase full of cash and a first class plane ticket to Tahiti, I'd say, "Oyyyy, does it have to be today?" So, everyone, just take your echinacea and drink lots of water, and I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me.

UPDATE: Yay! The doctor will see me at 11:30. Huzzah!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Do You Know Me?

Take my friend test!

LOTR update

The Fellowship reaches Hollin.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Fool us once...uh...did we get fooled again?

Okay, I'm not really big into conspiracy theories, but this independent investigation into irregularities with the Ohio vote certainly ought to give anyone pause for thought.

Question for my better-schooled readers out there: if it becomes apparent that Congress has certified a fraudulent vote, what happens?

Yes, That Will Fix Everything!

The state of Virginia is considering altering its license plates to become an anti-gay message. It would show interlocking gold bands over a red heart with the text, "Traditional Marriage."

Sticks and Stones

Mickey Kaus, probably the world's worst blogger, has his knickers all in a knot because CNN has canceled Crossfire and given conservative host Tucker Carlson his freedom, if you will. Kaus sees this as a result of Jon Stewart's October 15 appearance on the show, where he lambasted the two hosts and said, "I should come here and tell you that I don't -- it's not so much that it's bad, as it's hurting America. But I wanted to come here today and say stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America."

The new head of CNN, Jonathan Klein, was quoted -- out of context -- as saying, "I guess I come down more firmly in the Jon Stewart camp." Kaus apparently assumes that this admission of where Klein's political sensibilities align means that he's so biased that he let Carlson go out of deference to Stewart. But Stewart didn't come on the show to attack Carlson specifically; he ranted against the basic premise of the shows and other shows like it. It wasn't Carlson's conservative views that were hurting America, it was the head-butting, "infotainment" format that was more about partisan gesturing -- from both sides -- than actually dealing with current events in an intelligent way.

Kaus is indignant. "Klein ... tells the press he sides with the guy who called his employee a "dick"? ... Why would anyone want to go to work for this man?" He just neglects to mention that long before Stewart used the "d" word, said employee accused Stewart of being John Kerry's "butt boy." (He actually used that choice phrase twice.)

So not only did Kaus' poor, victimized bow-tie wearing poster-child for closeted Republicans everywhere also stoop to playground-level namecalling via sexual innuendo, he made an anti-gay slur. Sorry, Mickey, I'm having a real hard time feeling your pain.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Two Movies

Do you ever come away from watching a movie and think, "Someone in Hollywood thought this was a good idea?"

Last night I rented "Without a Paddle," a screwball comedy about three friends seeking D.B. Cooper's treasure in the Cascade mountains. Now, I didn't expect this was going to be a good movie, but often there's lots of fun to be had in lowbrow entertainment. I'd been sick in bed all day; I wanted something that wasn't going to be, shall we say, challenging. Ohbbboy.

It was the longest 98 minutes of my life. The eye candy was nice, even if the scenario in which our three heroes lost their clothes was more far-fetched than the abruptly abandoned subplot with the grizzly bear. (Personally, I think that would have been a great running gag, if they'd succeeded in making the bear simply an affectionate nuisance rather than a danger. Hey, it could work. It's a comedy. The Simpsons did it. The bear could have come to their rescue, on more than one occasion. Did no one consider that?) Of course the "three guys naked in the woods huddling in a cave together" required a gag to assure us that none of these young men are, you know, that way. Seth Green's character, the "weakling" with the pecs and washboard stomach and myriad neuroses had an almost coming out moment, but in the final scenes of the movie we see him hooking up with the hot babe who lives in the tree. Um, no, I'm not going to explain that one.

Also I found it bizarre that upon discovering D.B. Cooper's resting place -- I'm not really giving anything away, am I? -- our adventurers gazed upon it with such reverence. Um, he hijacked an airliner, people. He was a terrorist.

I'm trying to envision the board room in the Hollywood studio where, after hearing the pitch, some producer says, "Yes! I want to make this movie!" They even signed Ngila Dickson, costume designer of the "Lord of the Rings" movies. Did she, personally, design Seth Green's tighty-whities? Boy, after the drudgery of creating all those overdyed velvet gowns for such plain Janes as Liv Tyler and Miranda Otto, it must have been sheer joy to build mudstained overalls and plaid shirts for some fat Oregon hillbillies. I hope she's not counting on a second Oscar.

Compare that with "The House of Flying Daggers," which I saw on Tuesday night. Granted, this was not a Hollywood film, so it is comparing apples and oranges. "House" is a movie that perhaps wouldn't stand well as just a script (though it was far more literate and interesting than even many "serious" Hollywood films, like "Alexander"), but it was a lush and lavish visual orgy of a spectacle. The "Echo Dance" early in the film was something I will never forget.

You wonder if scripts in Hollywood ever get turned down. Obviously, yes, they do. You also have to wonder if it's the good ones that get rejected.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Where Does the Time Go?

Well, happy anniversary to me! It was eleven years ago today that I moved to New York City. I can barely even comprehend that. The things that have happened to me, the places I've been, the ways I've changed...I am a profoundly different person at 30 than I was at 19. I guess that's normal.

I remember that first night; a snowstorm closed LaGuardia and stranded me in Cincinnati for several hours. When I finally arrived in the wee hours of the morning, the cab drove me to my dormitory down a dark, deserted and very ominous-looking 125th Street (Giuliani had not yet been sworn in for his first term). Once inside International House, I got lost and couldn't find my room. When I finally did locate it, I actually gasped because the room was so tiny. (The chair could not be fully pulled away from the desk because the bed was in the way.)

The radiator warming up made a frightening hissing and loud clanking noise, and if that wasn't bad enough, the person on the other side of the very thin wall seemed to be howling at the moon. (As it turned out, it was a Russian plasmaphysics major who liked to sing along with his walkman. He didn't really speak English, didn't understand the words he was hearing/singing, and couldn't carry a tune. Trust me, on the other side of the wall, it sounded very strange indeed.) I got very little sleep that night.

As much as I complain about life in Manhattan, and as much as I long for an opportunity to go back west, I do love this city, and I always will. I may have gone through adolescence in Beaverton, Oregon, but I grew up in New York.

Monday, January 03, 2005


My letter to the Editors of The Village Voice made it in!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

What if Pompeii had had a Subway?

The folks in marketing at Discovery Channel are seriously out of touch with the realities of the New York City subway. For their upcoming program on the last day of Pompeii at the end of this month, they've launched a subway ad campaign.

Coming home from New Year's Eve festivities on the C train (yes...I have no idea what gives, the C was running and the A was going express on New Year's Eve; normally the C stops running after 11 p.m.), I spied a poster meant, I think, to instill fear in the hearts of your average straphanger.

"How do you outrun an eruption faster than this train?" said the poster, in ominous black lettering against a field of glowing lava.

Faster than this train? The C? Oh, I don't know. I guess you could crawl. Crabwalk? Cartwheel, perhaps. Maybe even just lie down on the tracks.

I think this ad would have been way more effective on, say, the Acela.


Best Wishes to everyone for a safe, happy, joyful, productive, peaceful and lucrative 2005. Here's to a year of great blogging!