Friday, December 31, 2010

Iowa GOP Gearing Up for More Attacks on Gay Families in 2011

The 2011 legislative session will be starting soon and Iowa's Republicans are once again showing their never-ending animosity towards Iowa's gay families through a series of legislative pieces aimed at voiding our marriages.  Here is what they have planned for the coming year:

*Start the process for amending our state constitution to prevents gays and lesbians from marrying.  I have no clue what will happen to Iowa families like me and Mark who have already been married.  Maybe our marriages will continue to exist even as future gay and lesbian couples are prevented from marrying.  Maybe our marriages will be involuntarily annulled.  I'm sure the latter approach is the preferred option of Iowa's cold-hearted Republicans.  That said, Iowa's state constitution is somewhat difficult to change.  Both the House and the Senate have to pass proposed constitutional amendments in two consecutive sessions and then the issue has to be approved by Iowa voters.  So far, the House is all for passing the amendment, but the Senate's Democratic leader says that the issue won't come up in the Senate this year.  So this issue might get put-off for another year.

*Prevent "Anchor Marriages" by establishing residency requirements for anyone attempting to get married in Iowa.  This would prevent gay couples from other states like the Marriage Equality Buses from Missouri or folks from nearby Illinois (who apparently make up one third of all gay marriages in Davenport) from getting married in Iowa.  Of course, it's likely that we will soon be seeing a drop in Illinois gay couples marrying in Iowa in 2011 now that those couples can now enter into civil unions.  Additionally, I'm not sure that Iowa really wants to limit those who can marry here.  I mean, there are actually heterosexual couples (like my cousin Rosalie who came back to get married in northern Iowa) who choose to marry in Iowa despite living elsewhere.  Do we really want to set up this type of barrier just to prevent a few out-of-state gays and lesbians from seeking a marriage license here?

*Establish "marriage conscience protection" for county recorders so that they don't get in trouble for refusing to do their job and refusing to process marriage license applications for gay and lesbian couples.  This would be interesting, though I'm not sure if it would be constitutional.  Then again, maybe they've cowed the state Supreme Court enough that they would refuse to tell recorders to get back to work.

*And, of course, the House plans to begin impeachment proceedings for the remaining four Supreme Court justices who struck down the state's DOMA law.  The GOP wants to punish the Supreme Court for recognizing that DOMA wasn't constitutional and boot out the whole bunch.

So this is what we get to look forward to next year: ongoing attacks by the state GOP on gay families, as well as ongoing reminders that the GOP wishes nothing but harm for us and our families. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best Birthday Gift: "Marvel Apes: The Evolution Starts Here"

I recently turned 39 and the last of my birthday gifts have finally rolled in.  Best gift by far this year?: "Marvel Apes: The Evolution Starts Here".  It compiles four different Marvel comic books (Marvel Apes: Speedball; Amazing Spider-Monkey, Grunt Line, and Prime Eight) into one book, which is pretty cool given that I really liked Marvel's "Marvel Apes" mini-series and one-shots.  The problem is that they decided to publish one of these one-shots (Marvel Apes: Prime Eight) as a digital comic book and, as far as I know, never announced that they were doing that.  As a result, I never read that story even though I really wanted too.  Even worse, a back-story being published in each of the one-shots about Charles Darwin never concluded in print until this TPB came out so I finally know how things turned out.

The concept behind the Marvel Apes is pretty simple.  Imagine a world where apes evolved humanlike intelligence.  Here, gorillas and chimpanzees have learned to live side-by-side and coexist with each other.  Instead of heroes like Iron Man, Silver Surfer, Professor Charles Xavier, Clea, Nick Fury, Bruce Banner the Hulk, and Black Bolt of the Inhumans standing against the evils of Doctor Doom, we now have Iron Mandrill, Silverback Surfer, Professor Xapier, Cleook, Nick Furry, Bruce Bananner the Hulk, and Black Bolt of the Insimians vs. the evils of... well, the evils of Doctor Doom.  These heroes are a bit more savage.  They're more likely to brutally beat their opponents to death than rehabilitate them.

The best part about this series of one-shots, IMHO, was a serial about the time that Charles Darwin pissed off the Ancient One (Earth's now-deceased Sorcerer Supreme) and got mystically exiled to the Planet of the Marvel Apes for a couple weeks.  He immediately drew the attention of L-ook-i (God of Mischief), who proceeds to split Darwin into three forms (Human Darwin, Ape Darwin, and Future Human Darwin).  Eventually, Future Human Darwin uses super-science to transform Human Darwin into the Low Evolutionary and super-evolved hijinks happen.  I won't spoil how things turn out, though I will gleefully reveal that at least one of these three Darwins survives the storyline and is traveling the cosmos and just begging to return someday to comics.  (Maybe someday Low Evolutionary can team up with Gorilla-Man and Ego the Living Planet of the Apes against Squirrel Girl and the mighty Pet Avengers.  I'm just saying...)

Nero at Daycare -- 12/30/10

Nero went to daycare again today.  Not only that, but he got a pretty good body-shot on their blog.  Check it out:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nero at Daycare -- 12/28/10

Nero went to daycare for another visit. Once again, everything but his head showed up on Lucky Pawz's blog:

More on Elton John & David Furnish's New Son

I wrote a bit yesterday about Elton John and David Furnish becoming proud new dads via surrogacy.  I expressed disappointment that they hadn't sought an adoption.  I should have kept reminded myself that the two had actually sought to adopt a Ukrainian child, but had been prevented by that government's authorities.  In other words, I should have kept my opinion to myself.

In related (possibly) homophobic news, the New York Post made the following adoption notice: "Elton & Wife Proud Dads".  I mean, seriously?  Maybe it was a copy editor mistake.  Maybe...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gay Parenting in the News

Sorry I've been away for a few days.  A bunch of things, including my 39th birthday, have converged, which has largely distracted me from blogging.  No big loss, I guess.  Here are a couple related articles that I found interesting:

*Elton John and partner David Furnish announced their joint fatherhood today:
Elton John and his partner, David Furnish, have become parents of a son born to a surrogate mother.

The boy, who has been named Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, was born on Christmas Day in the United States.

“We are overwhelmed with happiness and joy at this very special moment,” they said in a statement issued to the magazine Us Weekly. “Zachary is healthy and doing really well, and we are very proud and happy parents.”

Speaking in January the singer said: “David and I have always talked about adoption. David always wanted to adopt a child and I always said 'no' because I am 62 and I think because of the travelling I do and the life I have, maybe it wouldn't be fair for the child.” But he said he had changed his mind after their “hearts were stolen” by the child they met in Ukraine, who they were not allowed to adopt. He said he now felt he could “give a future” to a child.
I'm happy for this newly expanded family, but the ageist snob in me kind of wishes these men (aged 62 and 48) would have gone ahead and actually gone the adoption route.  I can't help but think of actor Tony Randall, who became a father in his late 60s/early 70s.  He died and left behind a couple of very young children.  I'm not saying that Elton John is going to die any time soon, nor am I saying that adopted children are better equipped to lose their parents.  But I do think that maybe it would have been more appropriate for someone of both their ages to steer away from surrogacy and seriously pursue the adoption of an older child.  Not that either dad solicited my opinion or even gives a toss.  That said, I truly wish all three a happy new life together.


*Did you know that gay parents are more egalitarian than het parents?  That's the findings of a study called "Work, Love and Play":
Same-sex parents, research shows, are significantly more egalitarian than heterosexual parents in the way they divide household tasks and parenting responsibilities.

With lesbian couples, the mother who carries the baby and breastfeeds it is not assumed to be the parent who will stay at home or be the main nurturer. In fact little can be assumed and everything must be negotiated when couples do not have gender roles to fall back on...

''It is not uncommon for the biological capacity of mothers - childbearing, breastfeeding, nurturing - to be used as the rationale for women's more limited participation in the workforce and their primary role as homemaker,'' says Jennifer Power, of La Trobe University, a co-author. But among lesbian couples, generally both women take on a mothering role, regardless of who gave birth, and both tend to take on the work role. In other cases, the women changed roles over time.
This struck me as one of those pieces of "duh" research.  I mean, if you have a household headed by two women or by two men, it seems obvious that they will be more likely to negotiate household roles and duties instead of relying on societal gender roles.  Then again, maybe it's "duh" to me because our home is headed by two dads and no moms.  What are your thoughts?


*Lastly, I thought I would wrap up with this blog entry by Kittredge Cherry of JesusInLove.  It's from the Christmas 2009 season, but I enjoyed her Nativity message last winter and enjoyed it just as much when I read it again this past weekend.  In it, Kitt explains how she created her own Queer Nativity scene and why:
I created my own gay and lesbian nativity scenes this Christmas season. One has two Marys at the manger with the baby Jesus, and the other has two Josephs with the Christ child.

I put Mary with Mary and Joseph with Joseph -- like putting two brides or two grooms on top of a wedding cake!

Obviously this is not about historical accuracy, but I believe that they are true to the spirit of the Christmas story in the Bible: God’s child conceived in an extraordinary way and born into disreputable circumstances. Love makes a family -- including the Holy Family. Everyone should be able to see themselves in the Christmas story, including the growing number of GLBT parents and their children.

Go ahead an imagine that Jesus has two mommies. According to the Bible story, Joseph was an adoptive father anyway. The Virgin Mary had Jesus without sex with a man -- much like lesbian mothers who use artificial insemination.
Follow the link for the rest of Kitt's message, and for a challenge to her readers (which I haven't responded to, but should). 

I shared my initial reaction to Kitt in her comments section last year and thought I would share them here to: "I've always thought that Jesus' family represents the ultimate nontraditional family. Two dads and a mom, brought together by extraordinary means."  My statement may seem like one of the most homo normative, scandalous observations to many an adult mind.  Then again, my own son -- then just four- or five-years-old -- was able to connect commonality between his own nontraditional family (birth mom, birth dad, and (then) foster dads) and Christ's own nontraditional family. 

We adults have a tendency to complicate complicated families, except when we don't.  We can easily acknowledge that Jesus was the Son of God while recognizing and respecting his earthly father Joseph.  I bet most of us don't even blink twice at that connection.  On the other hand, people might look at our adoptive family (complete with two adoptive fathers, plus birth mom to one, plus birth dad to the other) and think that it has to be confusing the the boys.  But it's not.  They understand how things are, just like we do, and we make it work.  In fact, it works because we don't try making it more complicated than it is.

Anyway, I'm beginning to ramble a bit.  I think I am going to take Kitt up on her challenge and come up with some form of LGBT Nativity that reflects our family or maybe just one that better reflects the full diversity of Jesus' nontraditional clan.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thoughts on "Yogi Bear"

Mark and Leslie were doing their thing, so D'Angelo and I made plans to go to the theater this afternoon and watch "Yogi Bear", based on the old Hanna-Barbara cartoon.  Here's the nutshell: Apparently, Jellystone Park is city property.  The city's corrupt mayor, who is morally and financially bankrupt, decides to shut down the park and sell the trees to some lumber company.  Yogi Bear and Boo Boo, ably voice acted by Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake, team up with Ranger Smith and naturalist Rachel, acted by Tom Cavanagh and Ann Faris, to come up with a last minute desperate plan to save their beloved Jellystone Park.  Unfortunately, Yogi's hijinks tend more often than not to foil their efforts, which was probably a good thing or else it would have been a pretty short movie.

I actually wasn't the interested in seeing this movie.  Most of the cartoon getting adapted onto the big screen these days have sucked pretty bad.  This one, on the other hand, wasn't that bad.  Aykroyd's voice acting was less distracting on film than in the commercials.  And it's possible I missed something during my own bathroom break, but I believe this movie went without any crotch-hitting or butt-sniffing humor (which is a miracle in children's movies these days).  The plotline wasn't terribly original, but frankly I don't expect that much out of children's movies.  I do think that the filmmakers had a good time with this movie.  They were generally respectful towards the source material without being overly self-aware or tongue-in-cheek.  And for that, I'll give them their props.

Cavanagh and Faris did a good job with their roles.  But in my opinion the stand-out character was Ranger Jones, played by comedian T.J. Miller (so homo).  Poor Ranger Jones held aspirations of running Jellystone Park, without the skills to do so.  Unfortunately, he was easily duped into the mayor's schemes.  Fortunately, he was smart enough to eventually redeem himself.  Warner Brothers needs to come out with a "Ranger Jones" movie.  They could team him up with Taylor Lautner or Ben Browder. I'd totally be there.

My biggest gripe with the movie was that we had to watch it in 3D. Seriously, there's not enough in this movie to make it worth watching in 3D. If you have the option, which we didn't, watch it in 2D.

Favorite Trailer?: I was surprised that there was only one trailer and it was for some nature IMAX film.  That was kind of disappointing, too.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone!  Church is over and Baby Jesus is another year older.  We opened our Christmas gifts.  I spent way too much and, unsurprisingly, the $10 red-beam flashlight that I gave Leslie was the highlight gift of the season.  Nero is feeling a little queasy after eating most of a peach crisp cake.  Needless to say, it was a lot more fun for him going in than coming out.  Les is on the road, traveling to spend a couple days with his mom and D'Angelo and I are still weighing our options between "Tron: Legacy" and "Yogi Bear" (though we're leaning more and more towards the latter film.

I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday weekend.  Drive safely if it's snowy where you're staying.  And treat each other well.

Learned Some Disappointing News Before Church Last Night

I was putzing around yesterday evening waiting for church and decided to check out my typical cyber-haunts.  Unfortunately, I came across some upsetting news:

Cedar Rapids man escapes work-release facility

Police are looking for Joseph D. Dahlen of Cedar Rapids, who failed to return to a Coralville work-release facility Wednesday while serving a sentence for robbery.

Dahlen, 30, was declared an escapee at 8:40 p.m. Wednesday for failing to return to Hope House, Department of Corrections spokesman Fred Scaletta said.

Dahlen, who is African American, is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs about 180 pounds. He has black hair, brown eyes, and tattoos on both ankles, both forearms, back, right knee, and left shoulder and upper arm.

Dahlen was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree robbery in connection with a March 19, 2003, incident in the 1400 block of Bever Avenue SE. He was sentenced Aug. 1, 2003 and transferred to work-release Oct. 25, 2010.
After a quick consult with Mark, we decided that we should tell D'Angelo. He took it in stride, I guess, though told me this morning that the news was "disappointing". I'm holding out hope that there was some sort of miscommunication and Joe's back where he needs to be, but that's mostly wishful thinking at this point.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tron Guy Banned from "Tron: Legacy"

Jay Maynard AKA Tron Guy has made a name for himself at conventions and on the Internet through his cool costume and keen interest in the 1982 film "Tron".  Now he's in the news again.  Not because of his love for Tron, but because he wanted to watch Tron's sequel wearing his famous costume and his local theater wouldn't let him in:
Millions have viewed his YouTube videos -- but a movie theater in Minnesota doesn't care... because we're told they won't let Tron Guy see the new remake in the costume that made him an Internet legend.

Jay Maynard... gave his local movie theater a heads-up that he planned to see the new "
Tron" flick in his famous costume... but for some reason, they "adamantly" insisted he won't be admitted if he suited up.

We don't know why management refused... but Maynard believes it's because his masterpiece is "too distracting."
Spinoff Online had an even better explanation for why the theater refused to let Tron Guy attend in costume:
My bet is that theater management were worried that everyone would realize they preferred Maynard’s version to what was on-screen.
Which brings up a good question.  I want to see a movie on Christmas and I've been toying with watching "Tron: Legacy".  What do you think?  Is it worth it?  My only other option seems to be "Yogi Bear" and frankly I'm a bit torn.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Local Radio Host Urges that Soldiers Quit over DADT Repeal

I've written before about Des Moines-based WHO talk show radio host, Jan Mickelson.  You can read my earlier blog entry about him here.  Predictably, he is pretty upset by the Senate's repeal this past weekend of "Don't Ask/Don't Tell".  He's so upset, in fact, that he's now actively encouraging soldiers and officers to abandon the military ASAP.  He's also advising parents to actively discourage their adult kids from joining any branch of the military because gays and lesbians will soon be able to serve their country without a professional noose around their collective necks:
The reason, he said, is because the decision to allow homosexuals to serve openly has shown military leadership is “morally compromised” and therefore can’t be trusted “to make life and death decisions on the field of battle, in the war room or in the policy meetings of Congress...”

“This should tell you parents to discourage your children from seeking military service,” he said. “Those of you in the service ought to give notice at your first opportunity you’re gone. Why? Mickelson, do you hate gays so much that you would make those recommendations? No, this is not about the sexual aspirations of the befuddled here. This is about vision and mission.”

Mickelson said he has worked around people who “identified themselves as gays my entire adult life,” and it’s no big deal.

“I’ve also worked around adulterers, gamblers, liars, drunks, gossips, druggies and Methodists. In other words, you and I are surrounded by broken people who are flawed just like I am,” he said. “So what’s the point? Well, this is the first time the military has ever allowed itself to be cowed into buying into the homosexual myth of sexual equivalency. We’ve all been worked over. They’ve been worked over, and what’s left of their moral immune system is gone.”

President Barack Obama is “morally corrupt” and the chain of command is morally compromised, and therefore can’t be trusted, he said. “I wouldn’t trust these people to run a parking lot let alone something so precious as the lives of our children,” Mickelson said.

Mickelson also claimed that the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will affect females much more than it will affect males, so “you’re not going to have a bunch of limp-wristed twits signing up for the Marines. That’s not going to happen. The overwhelming majority of the people who are going to be affected by this are going to be females. And that is the branch of service where there will be the most population of self-designated gays. Most of the images you have in your head of a bunch of flamers joining the Marines, that’s not reality.”
Gays and lesbians have been serving alongside het soldiers and officers for a while now.  All of the nightmare situations that have been bandied about by the right (such as cohabiting and showering with gay men and women) are already happening.  The only difference is that gay and lesbian soldiers and officers are no longer hiding under the shadow of expulsion if anyone discovers their secret. 

All these DADT repeal objectors aren't really upset by the prospect of serving with gay people.  They are already serving with them.  They're really upset by the prospect of knowing that someone they are serving with is gay.

The question left is whether their sense of patriotism and service outweighs their ability to share their job title with someone who's different than them.  If their patriotism is so wavering, then maybe it will be good for the rest of us in the long run if they move on to less important career paths.  Other actual patriots will be more than proud to fill the void left by their bigotry.  IMHO.

Nero at Daycare -- 12/21/10

Nero had another enjoyable time at daycare today.  Check out the fun!:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Boycott Planned for Marvel's New "Thor" Movie

Comic Book Heimdall Vs. Movie Heimdall
Have you been looking ahead towards 2011 and looking for an excuse to watch Marvel Comics' new movie "Thor" this May?  I've got a pretty good reason for you right here: The Council of Conservative Citizens, a group identified as an official hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is launching a boycott of "Thor" because a black actor, Idris Elba, was cast to play the role of the Norse god Heimdall, one of Asgard's sentries:
Norse mythology gets multi-cultural remake in upcoming movie titled “Thor,” Marvel studios. It’s not enough that Marvel attacks conservatives values, now mythological Gods must be re-invented with black skin.

It seems that Marvel Studios believes that white people should have nothing that is unique to themselves. An upcoming movie, based on the comic book
Thor, will give the Aesir an insulting multi-cultural make-over. One of the Gods will be played by Hip Hop DJ Elba...

It's well known that Marvel is a company that advocates for left-wing ideologies and causes. Marvel front man Stan "Lee" Lieber boasts of being a major financier of left-wing political candidates. Marvel has viciously attacked the TEA Party movement, conservatives, and European heritage. Now they have taken it one further, casting a black man as a Norse deity in their new movie
Thor. Marvel has now inserted social engineering into European mythology.
Elba blew off concerns about his casting with the following observation:
"Hang about, Thor’s mythical, right? Thor has a hammer that flies to him when he clicks his fingers. That’s OK, but the color of my skin is wrong? I was cast in Thor and I’m cast as a Nordic god. If you know anything about the Nords, they don’t look like me but there you go. I think that’s a sign of the times for the future. I think we will see multi-level casting. I think we will see that, and I think that’s good."

Stargate's Heimdall
 Frankly, I find the whole boycott to be silly.  They cast a black man in the role of a Nordic god.  Check that...  They cast a black man in the role of a comic book version of a Nordic god.  There are aspects to Marvel's Thor that matches up with mythology, but there's a lot that's just made up stuff.  Where was CCC when comic book Thor began speaking in faux-Shakespearean?  Or when he began flying around with the help of his magic hammer?  Heck, where were CCC's calls for boycotts with Stargate: SG1 introduced their own version of Heimdall and the other Asgardians?

This isn't history.  This is an adaptation of a loose adaptation of Norse mythology.

So while the Council for Conservative Citizen's march in protest of Marvel's "Thor", I'll be munching away on my popcorn with buttery topping and enjoying a damned good adventure movie with my boys.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Surprise for Andrew Marin!

A few weeks back, several folks began planning a super-secret surprise birthday party to celebrate Andrew Marin's 30th birthday party!  In addition to our presence, friends and family were asked to prepare short videos celebrating Andrew's birthday and sharing how his life and work have touched our lives.  This was my contribution:



Darren compiled all the videos into one big show (actually, one musical compilation and a second longer video highlighting the full content of each contribution).  Some of the videos (like mine) were pretty cut-and-dry.  Others were much more creative, including a hip-hop birthday message by Brenda's brother and sister-in-law, as well as a funny puppet show by a couple of Andrew's friends.

Anyway, this is how it went down.  Andrew was doing some home repairs with his dad and his uncle while his wife Brenda, his mom, and his aunt were "doing Christmas shopping" (AKA getting the party space decorated).  They made arrangements to come to the Marin Foundation office at a certain time to show off the newish office space to Andrew's aunt and uncle and were then going to go our for supper.  After showing them the office, Andrew was brought into the church building's fellowship area where the rest of us were secretly hiding and waiting to pounce on him with our surprise message.

So Andrew's giving his tour of the building and came to the fellowship hall door.  He opened the door a crack and immediately saw the balloons and some of the people and immediately shut the door.  "We can't go in there," he told the others.  "I think their holding a surprise party for someone."  His mom said something like "You're right!" and immediately opened the door and shoved Andrew into the room.  It was fun to witness his shocked silence as he took in the assembled crowd of well-wishers.

The rest of the evening was spent eating and visiting and meeting new folks.  We watched the videos and the kids got to whack away at a couple different pinatas and snag a bunch of candy.  I learned this weekend that Andrew is a total Star Wars freak, going back to his earliest years.  His parents had dug out a bunch of remarkably preserved Star Wars toys and blown up pictures of Little Andy playing with his Star Wars action vehicles were scattered throughout the room.

The boys and I spent the morning visiting and eating brunch with Brenda and Andrew, and Kevin and Melinda of the Foundation, and Nicole and Jesse Wick.  It was a nice way to wind down our Chicago trip and to catch up with Andrew and Brenda, given that there wasn't a lot of opportunity to chat at the party itself with all the people there.

30 can be a really cool milestone.  You're still young, yet a bit wiser.  We had a lot of fun celebrating this milestone with Andrew and his family and wish him many, many more celebrations in the years to come!

DADT Repeal Passed in the Senate

I've been away most of the weekend, so I wasn't around to witness or blog about the latest Don't Ask/Don't Tell news.  I'm sure everyone and their dog already knows, but DADT's repeal passed in the U.S. Senate yesterday by a vote of 65-31.  My understanding is that it will take a bit more time for the repeal to go into effect.  I have read anything from 60 days to one year for everything to get ironed out and for gays and lesbians to serve our country without fear of heterocentric witchhunts once this gets signed into law by the President.  Either way, I am happy to be proven wrong about DADT's repeal.  Frankly, I was convinced that it wouldn't happen.  Fortunately, there was enough bipartisan spirit in our Senate yesterday to get this discriminatory piece of legislation repealed.

As noted above, I haven't read too much about the DADT repeal vote or of the different reactions.  I've seen a bit of dismay, trepidation, and elation in the various blogs and news sources.  I had thought about linking to some different sources, but thought instead to close with my own pastor's prayer of happiness and thanksgiving following yesterday's vote:
My soul praises the Eternal One, and my spirit rejoices in God our Savior, because God has looked with favor on the gay and lesbian community. For too long this community has had to fight for every small advancement; has had to hide their true selves; has had to stay in closets because of the heartache involved in coming out; has had to swallow their joy as to not offend others; has had to not hold hands while others get to freely; has had to avoid telling others about the love of their life; and has had to not allow others to ask about it. But that time – at least partially – is over. We can now ask and tell. Thank you, Holy God!

During Advent, we are inundated with Scripture that bespeaks your justice and righteousness. That describes the way that you want the world. That describes a world where our oppression is exchanged for your equality. That beckons us to live out your vision of equality in our everyday lives. And sometimes – God, forgive us – these words feel like platitudes. We hear your Scripture in a background of war, poverty, and all kinds of inequalities in our lives. But today – praise be to you – it’s different. With the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the world has become a better place. A place of greater equality. A place that embodies the symbols we celebrate during Advent: hope, peace, love, and joy. Sure, this law is only one step, but it’s a big step. The moral arc of our world has been bent toward justice. So we pause to say: Thank you, Holy God.

Love is no longer a cause to be discharged from the military. Love is no longer something that has to be kept secret. Love is no longer as controversial as it was just a few days ago. Love is no longer kicked out of the Inn - there is now room. Love is now freer to be born where it wants to be born – and the good news of that love can be shared and celebrated ever more freely. For all this we say: Thank you, Holy God.

Today is a Christmas day. The justice and equality in our Scripture, and the justice and equality in the ministry of Jesus has been born anew. And we pause to celebrate that miracle birth. Thank you, Holy God.

Merry Christmas to all! And merry Christmas to you, Gracious God, for you are the very One who gives us the vision for moments like this. Today we get to celebrate the fact that your vision has become a tangible reality in the lives of real people. Thank you, Holy God, for making Christmas extra real this time around. And may it continue to be real in the coming days and months and years ahead.

Holy God, from this place of celebration, please continue to lead us onward, according to your sacred vision of justice and equality. Amen!

Friday, December 17, 2010

NOM Wants the Rainbow Back

I read this piece on Towleroad.com, which was linked to an article on Right Wing Watch, which is about one NOM-affiliated leader who wants to re-claim the rainbow one multi-colored scarf at a time:
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of the NOM-Affiliated Ruth Institute, is trying to get the rainbow back from gays. She says:
"Proposition 8 was passed by a great grassroots coalition that included people from all across the religious traditions, and also people of every race and color," Morse recognizes. "We are the real rainbow coalition. The gay lobby does not own the rainbow."

She tells OneNewsNow that she wore a rainbow-colored scarf to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hearing on Proposition 8 as a statement to signify that supporters of traditional marriage still own the symbol.

"We can't simply let that go by. Families put rainbows in their children's nurseries. Little Christian preschools will have rainbows...Noah's Ark and all the animals.... Those are great Christian symbols, great Jewish symbols," the Ruth Institute president points out.
This silly statement by Dr. Roback Morse reminded me of a similar interaction earlier this year, which pretty much encapsulates my opinion about the true owner of the rainbow.  I'd like to re-print it here:


A few years ago, I was given a Christian rainbow fish bumper sticker by my now former pastor, Dee. Kind of a mix of Christian and gay imagery, y'know? I have a long-standing policy of not putting any bumper stickers on my vehicles, but I wanted to come up with some way of using this gift. So I took it to work and fitted it onto one of my bulletin boards.

It's been there so long that I rarely even remember that it's there. Occasionally someone will notice it. Usually that person is a gay person or the family member of a gay person who thinks it's cool that I have it there. Otherwise no one ever mentions it.

Today, someone else noticed it. She said that she wished she could have a rainbow fish bumper sticker, but she wouldn't because she didn't want people to mistake her for a lesbian. She then expressed dismay that gay people had stolen and ruined an otherwise Christian symbol (the rainbow).

I shrugged sympathetically and moved on to other sources of conversation. Inside, I wondered why she thought that anyone could own or steal the rainbow. The rainbow is colored light. It's not something you can touch or possess. It just exists.

It's not really the rainbow that she's upset about, but a symbol of her faith. The sad part is, there's no real reason why the rainbow can't possess important meaning to both Christians and gay people. Christians believe that the rainbow is a symbol of the promise God made with humanity that he wouldn't bring back worldwide floods. Gays use the rainbow as a sign of diversity and pride. There's no reason that both communities cannot recognize both symbols. The gays no more stole the rainbow from the Christians than grieving pet owners have stolen the symbol of the Rainbow Bridge from ancient Norwegians.

My thought is that if this person really wants a rainbow fish bumper sticker, then she should get a rainbow fish bumper sticker. Life's too short. Don't let others' questioning thoughts chase you from it. Give it your own meaning.

If nothing else, she may start a new trend months from now where gay people start harping that the Christians have stolen their rainbow fish bumper stickers. And that might make it all worth it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nero at Daycare -- 12/16/10

Nero went to daycare for a second visit.  He actually showed up on today's Lucky Pawz blog entry.  Well, his butt did anyway.  He seemed happy to be there, if body language is to be believed:

Nero's butt at daycare.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

D'Angelo now has his Purple Belt in Tae Kwon Do

Our youngest son D'Angelo tested last Wednesday for his purple belt in Tae Kwon Do.  All parental pride aside, he did a pretty good job and managed to crack apart a huge chunk of wood with his bare foot.  He appear to do well, but it's always possible that one might not actually progress during testing.

Tonight, D'Angelo was presented with his purple belt!

Congratulations, D'!  You did yourself proud yet again!

Holiday Crossword Puzzle!

A couple weeks back, the director of my agency pulled me and three co-workers aside and informed us that we had been drafted to plan some form of entertainment for the department's annual holiday brunch.  Basically, we needed to come up with roughly four fun activities to keep the masses happy. 

One of the activities was pretty easy to do.  One committee member had already planned an Ugly Sweater Contest.  A decision was made to move the contest up a week and (*TA-DAA!!*) an activity was planned.  Another committee member asked a co-worker to sing some Christmas songs for the group and she luckily agreed.  I then suggested a game of "Telephone", using a holiday message.  We spend so much time on the phone and then need to accurately report what we heard in our case notes.  A game of Telephone -- where you start a message at one end of the room and see what kind of garbled translation makes its way down the line of people -- seemed like a fun way to hone our skills.

The last activity is a crossword puzzle that I came up with using various holiday questions and answers.  The first person who answers the questions correctly will win a candy surprise.  I thought it might be fun to share my puzzle here on the blog.  I'm posting it right before work, so there shouldn't be any problems with cheating.  *smile* 

I'll post the answers later this week.  Feel free to list puzzle answers in the comments section, but don't cheat and google the right ones!  Merry Christmas!



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Nero Goes to Daycare

I'm finally one of "those people".  "Those people" who spoil their pets and waste money on frivolous expenses like doggy daycare.  Maybe I just needed to be an owner of a large dog in order for this to make sense on all sorts of levels.

For most of the past year, I have exercised my standard poodle Nero pretty much every evening at the dog park.  We don't have a fenced yard and neighborhood walks aren't enough to burn off his energy.  The dog park is nice because it gives Nero a chance to run, but also to wrestle and socialize with other dogs.  The problem is that it's getting darker and darker earlier and earlier every day now that it's winter again.  It's dark before I even get home.  As a result, Nero's not getting exercised like he needs except on the weekends and he's causing more and more mischief at home.  Not cool.

So now he's going to daycare a few half-days weekly.  Today was his first day and I'm already impressed.  He is totally worn out.  We managed to eat a meal without him even approaching the table.  That's completely unprecedented!

The fun part is that the daycare has its own daily blog.  It looks like they post pics of each day's activities, which is kind of fun.  Unfortunately, Nero didn't show up on the blog today, but he did show up on the blog one day when boarding over Thanksgiving Day weekend!  Check this out:

 
It's not much.  On the other hand, it's great incentive for someone with my pride and ego to continue checking out their blog for glimpses of my poodle.

Anyway, we're going to keep this going until at least the early spring.  By that time, the weather should be warmer and the days should be longer.  Until then, I'm keeping my eyes on the Lucky Pawz blog for pics of my poodle.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Decorating

I spent the afternoon putting up the Christmas tree.  Lots of digging through storage and dragging plastic crates up from the basement.  Then there's time spent sorting the various artificial branches by color.  And then, of course, there's the actual assembly of and decorating of the tree.  Meanwhile, Mark was busy grading, which meant I was entertaining the boys and keeping them out of Mark's hair.  Needless to say, I'm exhausted right now.

Incidentally, it's Nero's first Christmas with us.  That is to say, it's his first full season with us.  Nero came to live with us a few days before Christmas last year.  Now he's older and more independent, but still at risk for totally destroying the tree if he gets it in his head.  Case in point, the tree's been up about five hours and he's already managed to destroy one decoration.  There's still a couple weeks before Christmas and many more decorations to kill.  Fortunately, he's largely ignoring the tree.  Hopefully, that indifference will continue for the rest of the season.

Meanwhile, we're heading into the twelve days of Christmas.  I thought I'd welcome them in and end this post by sharing this Christmas welcome from the United Church of Christ:


Don't Let Them Lie To You from United Church of Christ on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Thoughts on "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader"

D'Angelo and I decided to go see a movie today and this weekend's pick ended up being "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" -- which is a really, really long title, IMHO.  I wanted to bring Leslie along, but he opted to stay home and play video games, for what it's worth.  Here's the nutshell: Edmund and Lucy return to Narnia along with her peevish cousin Eustace (AKA Eustace the Useless) to be reunited with King Caspian on an epic journey to locate seven missing lords and to visit the lion kind Aslan's homeland.  They travel the seas on the Dawn Treader, served by a host of human sailors, a minotaur, and a talking mouse named Reepicheep.

The movie is based off C.S. Lewis' book by the same name.  I've read the book at least three or four times in my lifetime, but it's been a while.  It would have been instructive to have re-read the book before seeing the movie, if only to see what's been changed and what hasn't.  However, a quick review of the book's wikipedia summary confirmed my sagging recollection that the book was less about saving Narnia and more about mapping out the uncharted oceans.

I was surprised at how much D'Angelo really didn't enjoy the movie.  He didn't hate, but he certainly didn't love it.  He enjoyed the big serpent battle at the end, as well as the random bits of comedy spattered throughout the film.  Beyond that, however, he wasn't into the film.  I, on the other hand, really had a good time.  I enjoyed watching the movie and witnessing the transformation of one of my favorite childhood books from the written page to cinema realization.  I thought that the actor hired to play cousin Eustace Scrubb (William Porter) was inspired.  I'm also continuously impressed by the level of special effects employed in movies these days.  Reepicheep's inclusion always felt natural to me and never the product of inserted computer animation.  I now believe a mouse can fence...

I found the storyline easy to follow and I don't believe that someone with no previous knowledge of the Narnia books or prior movies would have that much difficulty settling into this tale.  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader clocks in just under two hours and seemed to exercise a fairly comfortable pace throughout the film... to me, at least.  D'Angelo did find it plodding at points, such as when Lucy began playing around with incantations on the ship.  All in all, I would recommend this movie to those looking for a little adventure.

Favorite Trailer:  "Thor" is looking pretty good to me.  This movie adaptation of Marvel Comics' Asgardian superhero seems to have it all: Gods, Magic, Adventure, and Explosions.  Plus, Thor looks pretty hot.

Fun Pre-Movie Story:  D' and I got to the mall a bit early and decided to wonder around a bit.  Keep in mind that it'd been raining pretty steady all day and we were both pretty wet.  Anyway, we came across one of those "Hurricane Winds" machines and decided on a whim to experience hurricane-strength winds for $2.  It was a fun experience, though I found myself wishing for a little more.  However,... that machine did wonders for blow-drying our soaked hair and also managed to mostly dry off my wet jacket.  It was pretty nice going to the movie with dry hair and clothing.  :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Week in a Nutshell

What a week...  Lots of stuff in the news and I've largely been too overwhelmed from work and kids to rub two thoughts together.  Here's the nutshell:

*As predicted, the Democrats let the gay community down for failing to pass legislation that would repeal DADT.  Now Senators Lieberman (I-CT) and Collins (R-ME) are preparing a stand alone bill that, if passed, will repeal DADT.  I'm not holding my breath.  The Democrats could have repealed DADT last year, but they put us off until the last moment and gambled that we wouldn't notice if they didn't deliver on their promises.  They haven't delivered and most likely won't.  It's not going to be pretty during the coming election...

*An Indiana-based Focus on the Family attorney is helping four Republican activists from Iowa to file a federal lawsuit, which challenges Iowa's process for nominating new Supreme Court justices.  Iowa's current nomination process is considered one of the fairest in the country.  An independent commission reviews candidates and presents finalists to the governor, who ultimately chooses the new justice.  This process was adopted by constitutional amendment in 1962.  As irony goes, this one's pretty good.  The court decision that infuriated the Right and led to the current attacks on Iowa's Supreme Court, Varnum vs. Brien -- which struck down Iowa's DOMA law --, was successfully argued on the basis of equal protection under the constitution.  This lawsuit, which seeks to prevent future incidents of equal protection towards GLBT people in the court by stacking the nomination committee with ideologues, is arguing that the plaintiffs' equal rights are being violated by the current nomination process.

*Lastly, there was a pretty creepy local story this week.  I'm sure this is just another day in the park for many folks in larger cities in other corners of the planet, but this is Iowa.  Iowa City, yes; but it's still Iowa.  Four young adults from Muscatine traveled to Iowa City earlier this week with a shotgun and attempted an armed home invasion at midnight.  Their stated plan was to just use the shotgun to intimidate the house residents into cooperation.  Fortunately, the residents heard these creeps attempting to break in and called the police.  It's scary to imagine what might have happened in this situation if the home owners hadn't woken up.  I know this stuff happens even here in Iowa, but this one just seemed to spook me a little more than other stories like this.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fox News and Atheism

This is the all-time best visual summary of a Fox News interview over the crisis of public Atheism.  It features Fox News' Megyn Kelly and American Atheist's Dave Silverman:


(Hat-Tip: Friendly Atheist)

Interview with a Champion

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Vander Plaats to Iowa Supreme Court Justices: "Just Quit Already..."

The Gazette must be having a slow day.  For whatever reason, they decided to revisit thrice-failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats demanding that Iowa's four remaining Supreme Court justices resign in an orderly, yet cowed fashion as soon as possible.  Maybe it was a fresh interview by BVP, but the quotes weren't very fresh.  I wrote a similar piece on this subject last month.  This latest piece pretty much rehashes what he said last month:
“The people have spoken and demanded a change in leadership,” Vander Plaats told a news conference, saying a majority of Iowans have indicated they do not believe the unanimous court acted within their authority in making Iowa “a same-sex marriage state.”

“… I believe it is now time for the four remaining Supreme Court justices to respect the will of the people and uphold the integrity and honor of the court by resigning in a timely fashion,” he said. “This is how we hold judicial activism in check.”

Vander Plaats said the resignations should be tendered in such a way as to keep a three-member quorum in place to keep the Supreme Court functioning during the transition...

Vander Plaats, a former high school teacher and principal, likened the current court situation to an under-aged drinking party where some got caught and punished, but those in charge asked the other attendees to “step up” and not let their peers be the only ones to shoulder the punishment for the entire group.

“I think if they self-analyzed, if they looked themselves in the mirror, I think they would say there’s a credibility issue with their existence on the court, there’s an integrity issue with their existence on the court, and by us bringing it to light to the people of Iowa, I think they’re going to understand it more than ever,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s wishful thinking. I think honestly this is the honorable thing to do,” Vander Plaats told reporters. “They were all part of this ruling. We voted three off because they were the only ones on the ballot. Had the other four been on the ballot, they would have been voted off as well.”
I like this (non) response from the courts:
Steve Davis, a spokesman for the Iowa Judicial Branch, said “the court chooses not to respond” to Vander Plaats’ comments.
If you think about it, BVP is really pretty ballsy.  He led his first successful campaign and now believes that he has the ability to make demands not only on the continued employment of these justices for making one decision that he dislikes, but also the method for their collective resignation.  Hopefully, Iowans will step up during the next retention vote and support our judicial system against BVP and his political commandeering of our normally top-notch judicial merit system.  If not, I'll truly weep for the downward direction of our wonderful state.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Governor-Elect Branstad Attacks Gay Marriages; Name Calls Senate Majority Leader

Terry Branstad's not governor of Iowa yet, but he is already making swipes at gay families and calling for the involuntary annulment of our marriages:
Speaking Monday at a gathering organized by The Associated Press, Branstad says he expects the Republican-control House to approve the referral of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to voters. But Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal vows to block action on the referral, which he says would enshrine discrimination in the state constitution.
It's no surprise that Branstad is harping against gay families.  He also blathered on about last month's election, where three Iowa Supreme Court justices failed to pass their retention vote:
"The Supreme Court, I think, made a tragic mistake in their decision on same-sex marriage," said Branstad. "The voters of Iowa have overwhelmingly rejected three members of the Supreme Court because of it and I think we need to restore support for the judicial system, and one way to do that is to give people the opportunity to vote on restoring the one-man, one-woman marriage."
Really Terry?  It wasn't an overwhelming election.  It was slightly more than half of those who voted.  53-54% voted against retention.  It wasn't overwhelming.  It was simply enough.  I'm sick of having it asserted that this awful majority voted out the judges.  Yes, they were voted out.  But it wasn't by that much.  Branstad and the GOP should keep this in mind should they try politicizing the next Supreme Court retention vote.  The numbers could easily be switched and then will they sit back and ponder that Iowans "overwhelmingly support 2-3 members of the Supreme Court because of their decision on same-sex marriage"?  Hardly...

Of course, Branstad then slipped into name-calling mode.  The press is reporting it, but nobody really holds the GOP accountable for childlike behavior:
Branstad says the issue hurt Democrats in last month’s election, and he was clearly referring to Gronstal when he stated that “just because you’re a leader in the Legislature doesn’t mean you’re a dictator.
Personally, I love Senate Majority Mike Gronstal's classy response:
Gronstal responded that dictators take away people’s rights, and he won’t do that.
And that's really the truth.  The GOP says it wants to protect the family; but it also says that it wants to destroy my family.  The GOP says that it supports the institution of marriage; but it also says that citizens should have the right to vote against marriages like mine.  The GOP says that kids do best when raised by married parents; but it also seeks to diminish our parental relationships, stating that we don't count because our kids aren't biologically related to us.

The Republican GOP is the real pack of dictators.  They want to eliminate our marriage rights and to legally neuter our families.  They attack our marriage and demean them by calling them "sodomy licenses".  They don't see anything of worth with our families and they won't give a toss if they cause us pain and distress while they slander the sanctity of our households.

I'm not a big fan these days of the Democratic party.  The national party continues to sell out its gay constituents and then gets huffy when it starts losing our votes and our campaign contributions.  But I totally support the Iowa Democratic Party.  Branstad was right when he said that GOP culture war attacks, in part, hurt the Democrats during this past election.  But they still had our backs, because it was the right thing to do.

I have no clue if my marriage will continue until my death or if my fellow neighbors will eventually vote it out of existence.  But I do know that I owe the Iowa Democratic Party my thanks and my continued support for its support of families like mine.

What Is Humanity?

I was going through my church's website/blog and came across an old question from early November that I'd skipped by and meant to come back to eventually.  I guess now is "eventually".  The question?  What is Humanity?:
“What does it mean to be human?” Simple yet profound. There are many directions you could take this question. Who are we? What is our purpose? What is our relationship to God? What is our relationship to each other? Are we mostly decent, mostly depraved, or somewhere in the middle? The list of questions could go on and on. Please answer in any way that is most meaningful to you. What does it mean to be human?
I have been thinking about this question for a while.  I don't usually put too much thought into the question of my purpose here on Earth.  I'm here and I'm kind of used to it.  But Pastor Brian's question has led me to ponder mankind's purpose.  Why were we -- as a race -- created?  Are we just glorified caretakers?  And, if so, are we failing miserably at our job through overpopulation, polluting, over consumption, and extinction agents?

The problem with humanity is that we don't have one mind.  We were seemingly created to care for the planet, but we can't come to agreement with what that means.  One group believes that the planet and everything on it is nothing but raw materials for us to mold to our needs.  Another group believes that we need to do everything we can to nurture, preserve, and protect what's left of the planet at all costs.  And most of us are just shuttling back and forth through life trying not to think too much about it all.

Which leads me to the rest of the question: what is our relationship to God and to each other?  It's clear that God had special plans for us in comparison to the other animals.  We were created in God's image.  Maybe we're minuscule reflections of Him, tending the planet while he tends to the larger universe.  Maybe...

Another question to consider.  Are we decent?  Are we depraved?  If we're made in God's image, is our depravity reflected back on Him on a larger scale?  Or is our collective depravity minimized through our connection to God and the Holy Spirit?  Are we reflecting God's image when we treat each other with compassion, friendship, and support?  What are we reflecting when we treat others like shit?

I feel like I've been doing nothing but answering questions with other questions.  I'm just not sure that humanity as a whole is either decent or deprived.  We all have our moments when we touch those around us and we all have moments that make us cringe upon reflection.  We're not good and we're not evil, but we have the potential to do both good and evil.

So, what do you think?  What is humanity to you?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Busy Day

Today was a fairly busy day.  The day began with worship at my church, Faith United Church of Christ here in Iowa City.  Today's worship service focused on Christ the King and what that means.  What does it mean to be king and, based on the scriptures, what might Jesus think of our country and the priorities of this nation if he walked among us today?

Later on, a group from church tailgated to Carver Hawkeye Area to watch the University of Iowa Women's Basketball play against Kansas State.  It was a lot of fun and the tickets cost only $1 each, which was a great promotional deal.  It was a great game.  The Hawks won 68-62.  Unfortunately, I missed the second half (more on that later).  They played wonderfully for the half that I did get to watch.  The halftime show was great.  A group called Air Elite Dunkers entertained us with some pretty fantastic stunts involving basketballs and trampolines.

Like I wrote above, I had to leave halfway through the game so I could get home in time for Nero's graduation from Canine Good Citizen class through Spot & Co.  Unfortunately, between busy schedules and early nightfall, Nero's not getting out of the house as much as he should.  He was just vibrating with excess energy tonight (and his social skills are iffy on a good night).  Let's just say that he ended up graduating, but I immediately signed him up for a repeat session starting early next month.

Anyway, I'm pretty tired, but plan on running to the gym in about an hour.  My plan is to watch the season finale of AMC's The Walking Dead.  It's a great show and they've done a wonderful job of adapting these characters and storylines from the original comic books series to this television series.  On the other hand, I'm kind of glad that the first season is wrapping up.  It's an intense program and I'm needing a bit of a break before watching Season Two.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Coming Out to my Son

I was thinking about the past today and was reminded of a brief interaction that I had with D'Angelo when he was five or six.  It always makes me laugh.  It's about the time I came out to him.

I was driving with him and I don't know how it came up, but I told D' that I'm gay.  He'd made some sort of comment about gay people that he'd heard at kindergarten or daycare and I'd decided that we needed to have the talk.  His shocked response: "Really? Does Mark know?"

Friday, December 3, 2010

Professional Relationship Ender

I was checking out my AOL account this morning and saw a familiar face on the news feed: Bradley Laborman AKA Bradman.  Laborman is a local celebrity of sorts.  He's worked for the school district, he's been a DJ at KCJJ, he's had a local PATV talk show, he's been a professional drag queen, and now he's the owner of a new online business called iDUMP4U.com.  People contact Laborman through iDUMP4U.com and pay them to break up with their boyfriends or girlfriends. 

I've listened to a few of the calls (such as this and this), which Laborman recorded for promotion and entertainment purposes.  I actually feel pretty bad for the people involved with this business.  Basically, you have someone who doesn't have the guts to directly break up with someone so s/he contacts Laborman, tells him things that s/he couldn't say to his/her partner directly, and then has Laborman smash things up with a drive-by call.

I'm not sure that I see the point in this type of service.  Sure, someone else gets to break up with your other half, but you know you're still going to have to talk with them afterwords.  I guess it breaks the ice and forces the discussion.  I'm just not sure it's worth the $10 (or the $25 to break a wedding engagement).

Who is Doctor Who?

Ryan Johnson of British TV Podcast turned me onto this video a couple days ago.  This is one of quirkiest and concise (and musical!) descriptions of Doctor Who that I've ever seen.  Too good not to watch!:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

By the Numbers

7 -- Number of narcotics arrests made by Johnson County's new K9 team since they began working together on November 15th.  Canine officer Danny formally met the Board of Supervisors this morning.

16 -- Fabulous myths that American have about British people, such as their bad teeth, their resentment about losing the Revolutionary War, their Cockney accents, their gratitude towards the Yanks for helping out in WWII, and their perpetual rain.

21+ -- According to Snarky Hawk, the Iowa City city council wants to make enrollment at the University of Iowa 21-and-older in an effort to curb under aged drinking!  Total farce, of course, but Snarky Hawk never fails to make me smile.

100 -- Apparently, Iowa City is being inundated by fake one hundred dollar bills.

120,000
-- Number of children needing permanent adoptive families here in the United States.  I don't care if you're married or gay married or single, there are kids out there (some who are younger and some who are teens) who could benefit from your love and support.  Please seriously consider whether or not you could help out one of those kids.  Then contact your local DHS office for more information.

60,000,000 -- The price tag for the new Broadway rock musical, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.  Check out the link for images.  It holds the reputation as the most expensive play on the block.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Zombies Attack Ames, IA

ISU-Based Zombie Hunter/Survivalist
It seems like a month cannot go by without the Zombie Menace attempting to gain a foothold here in Iowa.  Iowa City's been hit more than once this year.  I'm aware of at least two other incursions near Des Moines.  Now Ames is being threatened: 
At least 1,000 zombies were stunned with socks on the ISU campus during the past month. The "zombie game" had 1,853 people attending on Facebook by the last day of the game, which ended Monday...

"I think I took it too seriously, but I had a lot of fun with it," (Micah) Morgan said. He made it to the end of the game as a human, but said it wasn't easy. Morgan had to dodge many zombies and had to face some that were on bikes and scooters. He had a narrow escape with a zombie on a bike.

"I jumped in a building, but then he started circling the building, so when I thought he was gone I ran out a back door. He was still there, though, so I ran toward the building I needed to be in for class and there was another guy in front of the nearest door," Morgan said. "I yelled, 'open the door,' and he looked around and then opened the door and I dived in."

He said during the past month he got used to navigating around the campus buildings. "I just kept moving from building to building. I avoided large open areas and I learned a lot about the buildings on campus," Morgan said.
I'm actually a little shocked at the flippant way that these ISU students referenced this attack. Roughly 1,000 people were lost to the zombies and they call it a "game". This is no game. It was a bloodbath. A casual viewing of AMC's The Walking Dead television series offers a terrifying glimpse of what could be if we allow the zombies any traction in our society. We need to stop humoring the undead and treat them like the ungodly menace that they truly are.  My first suggestion?  Real guns instead of sock guns.  I'm surprised the people of Ames survived this assault at all if wads of socks were their primary source of defense.

Apparently, I'm not the only one concerned by Ames' lack of sensible defense against the undead.  ISU opinion writer Rick Hanton sensibly posed questioned ISU's preparedness for zombie attacks earlier this fall:
What would we do if zombies really attacked Iowa State? Well, likely only the well-prepared would survive. That's why I would advise students to check out groups like the Zombie Squad, whose slogan is "We Make Dead Things Deader" or the "Zombie Preparedness Initiative" knowledge-base. Actually a friend of mine who is a grad student at Iowa State recently designed a website called Zombie Strategies with lots of Google Maps integration to help people plan their zombie survival plan.

The university could make preparations for the zombie apocalypse too, just like Doug Johnson at the University of Florida, who last year posted a detailed plan for zombie attack on UF's e-Learning Support Services website alongside plans for hurricanes and pandemic diseases. Notably, university officials took down Johnson's overzealous zombie plan that included official forms to declare why and how employees killed infected co-workers after it showed up in local news, but you can still check it out online.
Campuses like Iowa State University, as well as the University of Iowa itself, owe it to its staff and students to better prepare ourselves for future undead attacks.  As we've seen all too often, it not a matter of if the dead will rise again in Iowa, but when and where.  Unfortunately, nobody really wants to imagine the unimaginable.  Hence, no serious campus preparation will ever be completed.  We will continue reactive defenses and lose more and more of our citizens to the unforgiving hordes.

Iowa can and should do better.  It's possible that the new governor will spend some time and attention between budget trimming and gay marriage bashing to actually hammer out a zombie survivor plan of action.  But I'm not holding my breath.  I will continue scouring the new for evidence of invasions and prepare myself and my family for the apocalypse that appears truly inevitable.