Monday, January 18, 2010

The Family

Recent comment found on a media article about Uganda:

"The Family (or at least some of their members) have been very busy over the years in Uganda "improving" the country, as they probably would do with the USA if they could get away with it. Uganda now has a high rate of HIV infection, because the religious right threatened to remove aid from the country if they didn't stop pushing condoms as being the best way to prevent HIV. They'd done perfectly well and apparently had one of the lowest infection rates in Africa until they were 'helped.'

"Also, members of the Family and other affiliated organizations have been pushing that homosexuality can be cured by prayer. When Rachel Maddow reported on this, they backtracked and issued denials.

"Why on Earth Obama would want to be at the Prayer Breakfast with David Bahati baffles me. Personally, if I were Obama, I would have him banned from the country. Surely the "Kill The Gays Bill" qualifies as hate speech?

"A guy called Jeff Sharlet wrote a book on The Family called The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. It's well worth a read."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Engrish of a University Professor

In one of my classes, a foreign professor was asked what a firewire port was. He replied that it protected against viruses and hacking. This was par for the course. He does not understand us, and we do not understand him, unless frequent repetitions are made. Only when he gives assignments do students bother asking him to repeat what he is saying. We learn on our own, using the textbook. The professor is nothing more than the warden who takes attendance and ensures that we sit still, daydreaming in class until the period ends.

Students are being cheated out of their education by these speakers of "Engrish," who should never have been hired in the first place. Professors from the English-speaking world are fine, but professors whose command of English is sub-par have no business teaching in an American classroom.

China is an Evil Nation

In China, the authorities hunt for human rights advocates using any means, including hacking.

(Incidentally, this is another article that points out the downside of using Internet Explorer.)

How to Spoof Internet Explorer in Firefox

On a rare occasion, those of us who use a browser such as Firefox or Opera may encounter a web site that bans our browser. A message pops up that says, "Sorry, you must use Internet Explorer 6, 7, or 8 in order to access this site."

There is no valid reason for any web designer to ban Firefox or Opera. The most likely motive would be a secret contract with Microsoft Corp. A less likely motive would be the personal prejudice or ignorance of the web designer. If I were designing a web page, and I have done so many a time, then I would not want to exclude a big chunk of the user population from the get-go. But in the university setting, it is possible to require students to use Internet Explorer.

To spoof IE 6, 7, or 8 in Firefox, install this add-on by Chris Pederick.

However, be aware that some sites, such as those run by university computer training providers, have cunning little tricks up their sleeve intended to limit access, even when IE is spoofed. I spent an hour this morning attempting to complete my assignments at home using Firefox spoofing IE, only to discover that the provider discards all of my classwork and returns me to the first question in an endless loop.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Christian Toleration

The Christian nations of the West appear centuries ahead of the Muslim nations, even the supposedly "advanced" and "Westernized" Muslim nations like Malaysia, where a Protestant church was firebombed because a Catholic newspaper dared to use the word "Allah" in a respectful manner. (Apparently, no distinction is made in the Muslim mind between Protestant and Catholic.) Muslims in Malaysia face sanctions for a variety of harmless choices, such as converting to a different religion. Imagine the outcry if the United States prosecuted people for converting from Christianity. In the West, converting to Islam is not regarded as a matter for law enforcement and does not arouse vigilante violence. In Malaysia, the death penalty applies for a wide variety of minor offenses, such as trafficking in marijuana, and yet Malaysia happens to be one of the moderate Islamic countries, on a par with nations such as Dubai or Turkey. A more bloodthirsty religion than Islam would be difficult to find in all the world.

The Christian nations tend to look better upon inspection with regard to human rights, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. The main exceptions to this rule would be found in Africa, where countries like Uganda are still mired in the Middle Ages and intent upon butchering and brutalizing their own people.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Part of the Joy of the Democratic Process

Politician who supports death penalty for Uganda gays:

“There is nothing really that can discourage me from moving forward. As you know, this is the process of legislation – you get criticism. This is part of the joy of the democratic process.

- from the Irish Times


Are you feeling the joy? I think I'm feeling something more along the lines of hate. If that guy feels joy, then it must be the joy that derives from sadism.

I'm not too sure about the Irish Times' claim that evangelical groups were behind the measure. Remember, Jimmy Carter is an evangelical Christian, too, and plenty of evangelicals don't have a problem with gays. However, there is a great deal of paranoia and distorted thinking over on the Religious Right, which comprises a subgroup within the larger group of evangelicals. I think it is safe to assume that there was transference of paranoia and distorted thinking from the West over to Africa. Uganda is a reflection of the frustration felt by the Religious Right in the U.S. They are frustrated because they are losing. Ignorance and prejudice does not play well in areas where there is freedom of speech.

According to Leviticus

"According to Leviticus, shaving one's beard is a sin. Getting a tattoo or wearing a cotton-poly T-shirt (or any garment of mixed fiber) will also incur God's wrath."

-source: p.85, "Are You Kidding Me? Fun Facts that Feel Like They Can't Be True," by Harry Bright and Jakob Answer.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Defeat in New Jersey

The New Jersey Senate defeated a gay marriage bill, which is a symbolic defeat. The lion's share of marriage privileges derive from the Fed, rather than the state. I was not holding my breath for gay marriage in New Jersey. It would not be worth it to me to move to New Jersey in order to get a state-recognized, but not federally recognized marriage.

The absence of gay marriage doesn't mean that gays won't continue to form monogamous unions or that couples won't stay together. It just presents an obstacle in the legal sphere, an obstacle that must be overcome by future generations. The arguments put forth by both sides have been recorded for posterity. As far as I'm concerned, it is obvious that the side in favor of gay marriage is right. An end to the ghetto is envisioned. Assimilation, rather than separation. Openness and forthrightness. If a more productive work force is desired, then gay marriage should become law.

The opposition to gay marriage seems small-minded in every sense of the word. I was particularly amused at one legislator's observation that in this time of economic distress, we cannot envision making such a sweeping social change. What better time? In good times, people want things to remain the same.

Here's another quote from the article: "gay marriage would weaken the social fabric by redefining one of society’s bedrock institutions." You know, I'd like to wash my social fabric. Is it polyester or cotton? Does it respond best to warm, hot, or cold water? Marriage isn't a bedrock, Sir, although it may make the bed rock. Actually, gay marriage would strengthen the social fabric. We could go from, say, silk, to nylon, which can stretch and remain strong.

If I could marry and obtain the crucial privileges bestowed by marriage, then it would have a huge impact upon my life in a practical sense, because my partner is from another country. We would no longer have to wrestle with immigration. Tens of thousands of dollars in lawyer's fees and government fees could go instead toward other things in life. I could work a corporate job and get coverage for my partner thereby.

I have explained this to my friends a hundred times, but here I go again. State recognition is insufficient. The Fed controls immigration rules. Today, the immigration privilege applies to heterosexual couples only. Former Sen. Bob Barr played a role in ensuring that that particular discrepancy remained when he defeated a measure that would have addressed it as far back as the Clinton administration. Bob Barr's singing a different tune on various issues, such as marijuana, so I don't know what he thinks now, but I would have preferred that he had not interfered with my life. I'm poorer today because of Bob Barr, an ironic Libertarian. The only thing I remember him being passionate about in his career was using Government to restrict the rights of the individual.

In the current environment, there is not just discrimination to contend with, but legal exclusion. The law itself is the problem, rather than just a handful of bigots here and there. I do not know of any easy solution, because the law is unyielding, and we are trapped in a systematic injustice. My current plan is to switch careers. I plan to enter the medical profession, where I can train as a skilled worker and hopefully one day immigrate to Canada, which does have gay marriage as well as universal health care. Canada is the Promised Land for gay Americans. If you are educated and experienced, it is the place to go.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Any Takers?

When I found out today how much my blog is worth, I thought, "Dayum! time to put 'er up for sale!"

Any takers?

The estimate may be just a tad on the optimistic side.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Between gnats and cats, I think I'd rather be a cat, a more appealing creature than a gnat. Cats are where it's at. None but a dog would refute that.

As a were-cat, I could befriend anyone worth befriending. I don't think I'd care for the diet of most house cats, though. I'd prefer to introduce myself to an old and lonely rich widow or widower, and perform tricks demonstrating superior feline intelligence. My tricks would be simple, mind you, such as standing on my hind legs and pointing up at the sky. An astonishing feat, such as communicating, would attract unwelcome notoriety, leading to scientists, confinement, experiments, x-ray machines, and dissection. As a were-cat, discretion is essential, because escape is uncertain in confined areas.


Cats think. They have simple minds, but they think. They are poor at using tools, only because their paws were never adapted to holding. But I have watched my cat try to open a door using the same mechanism that I use, a doorknob. He climbs up on a shelf and tries to reach the doorknob, but it is difficult to grasp, and in the end he gives up. But he often attempts to open a door from the floor-level, by reaching a paw underneath and pulling the door toward him. Sometimes he succeeds.

A cat absorbs all that is around him. He looks for routes of escape, comfortable perches, inaccessible perches and hiding places, and he remembers all those details for later reference. He keeps a mental file on every human he encounters. A human that makes a favorable impression is remembered and welcomed with much purring later. A human that makes a poor impression, most often a careless child that thinks a small creature is a toy, is feared.

Cats communicate via body language most of all. They do not vocalize like we do. They are not large predators and have to get by upon stealth, which does not favor vocalizing. If your cat vocalizes, it may be a sign of learned behavior modeled upon its adoptive parent. My cat sometimes makes an utterance for no other reason than it feels bored and craves attention. This is not typical catlike behavior.

Cats are simple creatures, free of the intellectual noise of a human brain. They are not complex, but have a limited scope of thoughts. Their feelings, however, have a wider range. They are capable of just as many feelings as we are. I have seen my cats express jealousy of each other and envy of each other. They sometimes express loneliness, or fear of abandonment. Our cats know when we are about to leave on a vacation, and they don't like it at all. Cats dislike change of any kind. They prefer routine.

To read a cat's thoughts, examine its face and tail. The tail betrays irritation. If the tail twitches, the cat is annoyed or wants to use the litter box. The face expresses emotion. The eyes of a cat can be read in much the same way as the eyes of a human. As with us, a cat's narrowed eyes indicate suspicion, wrath, misgiving. Open, wide eyes may mean fear, especially if the rest of the body is tense, as though preparing for flight, or if it hunches down to make itself appear smaller. On the other hand, large eyes may mean happiness and affection, especially if it seems relaxed and cooperative.

Cats do love, but they are selfish and have a dim understanding and appreciation for what love means. Never expect consideration or sympathy from a cat when you are sick. However, a cat will return affection to a certain extent, in its own way and under its own terms.

Cats are not skilled at reading the thoughts of human beings. To them, we are mysterious giants with certain god-like powers, such as the power over light and darkness, but they soon discover that we are slow, unstealthy, and sometimes behave in ways beyond their comprehension. Cats prefer predictability, and humans are not always predictable. The phone may ring, and a few minutes later a human leaves the house for several days. The cat does not know why. It is bizarre, another strange human custom that cannot be explained.

Remember that a cat is a tiny guest, deserving care and consideration. If not raised under human supervision, it would fear us in the natural world by instinct due to our massive size. A tame animal must be treated with gentleness, so that it remains tame and does not learn to fear humans. Once a cat begins to fear humans, it will hide all the time under beds and tables and only come out for brief periods to feed. This makes a poor pet of little value to anyone, and the animal will not be happy about things either.

They do not understand all the reasons for why humans do what they do, but their fear of us leads them to follow certain rules, such as using the litter box, or refraining from the destruction of furniture. Other rules they may never master. It is better not to try to teach very much to a cat. If you can potty-train a cat, that should be enough.

I have never been able to break the cat of the habit of drinking out of the toilet. It will get a drink while I'm not looking, and the only way I know what it has done is by the wetness of its arms and face. The best solution I found is to leave the toilet seat cover down.

My cat comes when called by its name, but only sometimes. This was a voluntary habit that it learned as a result of my rewarding it with praise when it came. If other people are around, it will not obey. If it is too tired, it will not obey. Cats view commands as requests made by a friend, subject to refusal. That is how we should view our commands, as well.


I have an infestation of gnats in my study. They are attracted to my LCD monitor, where I swat them. I'm as fast with my hands as a frog with his tongue. Well, maybe not quite that fast, but close.

I'm in awe of frogs. How can they remain stock still for hours on end, only to launch a lightening-fast attack? I hope to watch a documentary one day about frogs that explains all. About gnats, I have less interest. I understand that most of their body is composed of their jaw (or is that the flea? I don't recall).


Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to retain all my brains, such as they are, and assume the form of a gnat. I could observe all the details of other people's lives without their being aware.

I prefer to imagine not being swatted, sprayed with insecticide, or being seized by a Venus Flytrap. Upon reflection, there are many hazards attending the life of a gnat. The sole advantage is espionage.

If I could be a gnat for a day, visit the headquarters of the rich and powerful, and then fly back home and resume the form of a human being, then I could put whatever information I obtained to good use. Maybe I could uncover scandals or crimes of great importance to the public. Or maybe I would learn of a certain stock to buy or sell at great profit, the same sort of behavior that sent Martha Stewart to prison.

I wonder if I would prove equal to the ethical challenges of being a were-gnat. I hope that I would be a good were-gnat and try to make the world a better place, rather than just enriching myself at the expense of others, as so many other lycanthropes do.


Spell to Surrender to Sleep

A fear that enforces wakefulness may seem large and threatening, but it is a gnat in need of swatting. You are more powerful than that which you fear. Remember that life and death are not serious alternatives, but only seem so for a brief span of time. Power surrounds you and nourishes you even in the darkness. Though your ears remain alert for the approach of danger, sleep, sleep, sleep and dream, just as your ancestors did in the wilderness long ago, and remember your dreams, for they will guide you.

The First Time I Came Out

Time for a stroll down Memory Lane! This time, I'm wearing rose-tinted glasses to see what is good, disguising what was not. If the memories are altered, then so be it! I've grown weary of drama. What I want is a feel-good story.


[A long battle with Writer's Block took place here at this spot.]


Now I have the title. Getting the title is nine-tenths of the battle. The rest comes easy.

"The First Time I Came Out."

My brother was the first to tell me that there was a gay bar in town. I was seventeen at the time. I didn't believe him. I lived in a small Southern city in the 1980's, and homosexuality just wasn't discussed by anyone I knew, save in derogatory terms of horror, contempt and curiosity. But my brother saw the exterior of the gay bar in his travels around town. All he knew was that it had a sign out front that stated, in all capital letters (don't worry, reader, I will spare you the caps), "This is a gay bar. Do not enter the premises unless you are a homosexual." He thought the sign was funny, and so did I, but I imagine it was designed to defuse potential conflicts and misunderstandings. When I asked him where it was located, he looked at me with suspicion, and asked why I wanted to know. I looked away, made excuses and resolved never to bring the subject up again. Except I did. More than once or twice. Eventually it transpired that he had forgotten the location, or else he felt it unwise to share such dangerous information with a young and impressionable mind such as mine. Undeterred, I examined the phone book, looking for nightclubs or bars with a gay-sounding name, without success. After that, I made a couple of trips around the city, looking for the sign that my brother had described, but I never found it.

Two years later, I was taken to all of the gay bars in town in one night by an older man that I had met on my own, in the wild, so to speak. Stepping into a gay bar for the first time, as a gay man, is difficult to describe to those who are not gay, but I will try. Imagine that you are an American living in China, and you step into a bar filled with Americans. They greet you, their fellow countryman, with a smile. That is the best analogy that I can make.

I was too young to drink, and so I drank Coca-Cola. My companion had a smile as wide as mine, because he was showing me off, while I was coming to terms with not being the only one, ever again. I shook hands with many men, but remember little of what was said. It was in the line of good humor and advice to the new initiate. I did not remember the names of anyone I was introduced to. I felt happiness as well as sensory overload.

There was a good-looking black man of twenty-five or so standing beside a video game machine, and he said the only words that I remembered from the whole experience. We only looked at each other, and as if in response to the question he read in my eyes, he said, "Yes, you are beautiful." I thanked him and paid him a compliment in return. Emboldened, he asked me what my name was, and I made something up that sounded appropriate. I should have given him my number, but felt loyalty to the one who had brought me and paid my way.

No Sooner Do I Praise a Corporation...

No sooner do I write a post on my blog that praises AT&T, than I receive a postcard in the mail from AT&T destroying my favorable impression about that corporation.

I had boasted of AT&T's Internet service having 99.99% reliability. Well, that part still applies. Yesterday, AT&T sent all of their customers a nasty postcard that read, in part (paraphrasing), "your user agreement has been amended [without your consent] to let us call you at any time for telemarketing purposes. We may robocall, use anonymous numbers, or any third-party minion of our choosing to interrupt you at dinner-time with pointless adverts designed to waste your time."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

A friend of mine resolved that from now on, he would reject any glass of wine offered at a party. I asked him what his policy would be on beer. "That," he said, "will be decided on a case-by-case basis."

Friday, January 1, 2010

Charity to Strangers in Distant Lands

Charities may give a skinny penny out of every dollar to the actual people they are collecting for. There are too many charities and too little oversight. In general, the bigger and older the charity, the better. A large charity is likely to enjoy economy of scale and be more efficient. It is also likely to attract enough attention to remain honest in its dealings, rather than devoting most of its income to maintaining its staff.

When Westerners give to Third World nations, they may fail to consider who they are giving to and what their aims and motives might be. They give because it gives them a fuzzy feeling inside, which is all right, but where does the money ultimately go, and who benefits? Throwing money into a blind alleyway to unknown strangers is not a good way to distribute charity.

Here is a recent case of a Somali man who entered Denmark with bloody murder on his mind. I wonder whether he was fed and nourished by Western aid at some point in his life. Some in Third World countries have different values than we do. If they were better off, they would choose to harm, rather than help us. They might interpret our cartoons, poetry, fiction, movies, or editorials in a negative light and target us for killing. I'm reminded of Uganda, which has declared that they will murder all homosexuals and imprison anyone who knows of a homosexual and does not inform authorities. Contributing to relief in Uganda would be like paying for the nourishment of future murderers. There is a case in Malawi where the police want to conduct humiliating medical exams on gay men to prove they had "unnatural relations," punishable by a lengthy prison term.

I prefer for charity to begin at home. I'm more familiar with people that live around me and would rather tend to them than unknown strangers in a distant land, who might be villains for all I know. I think there is a kind of self-loathing that causes people in developed countries to shrink from helping their own countrymen, but to look to distant lands to bestow gifts. In this way, they assist those who may later prove to be villains.
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions