Friday, September 30, 2011

Vid to Check Out: Mean Kitty and the Pet Psychic

While at work yesterday, I began noticing an increased amount of floaters in my eyes, particularly my left eye.  While driving yesterday evening, I noticed odd flashes of light in the left corner of my left eye.  Then my eye got really bloodshot.  This morning, the eye was less bloodshot, but the floaters were still there.  I went back and forth about going to a doctor, but eventually got talked into it by my husband, my chiropractor, and a couple of my co-workers.  Turns out I had two teeny-tiny rips in the retina on my left eye.  They were able to treat it with some cryogenic device.  Despite some Tylenol and about three different types of topical pain relievers, the procedure hurt.  A lot.  As a result, I'm going to take it easy for the rest of the day. 

I had a couple new things that I wanted to blog about, but they will wait until tomorrow.  In the meantime, check out this wonderful video of the time that Mean Kitty met the Pet Psychic.  I've mentioned before that I love listening to animal communicator Laura Stinchfield's weekly podcast.  This video is pretty fun and does a good job of highlighting her gift.  Very cool stuff:

Now I'm going to go rest in the dark for the rest of the day.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Always the Kingmaker, Never the King

Bob Vander Plaats of the ironically anti-family group, The FAMiLY LEADER, was interviewed by Time about his supposed kingmaker status and about his antipathy towards gay families here in Iowa.  Among other things, BVP was asked about his organization's and sister organizations' assertions that homosexuality is a public health risk.  In fact, they have asserted that gay married people are worse public health risks than second-hand smoking (and then they backed away from that, and then they embraced it, and then they backed away from it, and then they joked about it, etc., etc...).

This is how the discussion went in Time:
You also said homosexuality was a public health risk. What evidence do you have to support that assertion?

You’re talking about how it was compared to second-hand smoking? It was never this organization’s intent to say that if Bob is gay and Alex is not, Bob is going to be a health risk to Alex. I get asked all the time how same-sex marriage impacts my marriage. I say it doesn’t. But that’s the wrong question. How’s it going to impact the next generation? The reason we have a national debt is because you’re looking at yourself, not the next generation. With marriage, when you walk away from God’s design, there’s going to be serious ramifications. For us, it comes down to God’s design: one man, one woman. Anything outside that, we preach abstinence and purity. If everybody practiced that, we’d have a whole different culture today. A much better culture.
So, gay marriage is less like a napkin (as Santorum would have us believe) and more like uncontrolled spending.  Gay families aren't forward-thinkers.  We apparently don't care what happens to our kids (much less our nieces and nephews and neighbors).  We just indirectly cause all sorts of mischief with our lack of purity, like lower divorce rates.

The sad part is that the right doesn't even attempt to claim that we negatively affect the broader culture when our families are safe and secure and existing.  Gay marriage states have the lowest divorce rates and our kids do no better and no worse than kids raised in other families.  But it doesn't matter.  The big bad of marriage equality is just some nebulous unknown.  Gay marriage is a bad thing.  Evidence of its badness is that it exists.  Beyond that, it really doesn't affect hets or het culture.  But it will be.  Quite possibly.  Someday.

Nero at Daycare -- 09/29/11

Nero spent the afternoon at doggy daycare again today.  Lots of fun, especially now that the weather continues to cool off.  Check it out:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

By the Numbers

Seemed like a good day for some random:

5 -- Number of GOP presidential candidates who have confirmed their attendance at The FAMiLY Leader's "Thanksgiving Family Forum (presumably held in November).  They include Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Paul, and Santorum.  The FAMiLY Leader is devoted to attacking and eliminating gay families like mine and the GOP supports their anti-family agenda.  Perry and Romney haven't confirmed yet, which NOM wants you to know.  Meanwhile, they apparently don't care about any of the other confirmed GOP presidential candidates like Fred Karger, who actually does seek to protect all families.  My guess is that Karger hasn't been invited to this event...

$24.99 -- How much money you'll pay to purchase one of the coolest marketing products ever: "Enduring Freedom" Jesus Christ Doll with Rocket Launcher.  Your 4-year-old will enjoy playing with his 12-inch-tall plastic Lord and Savior.  He (or she) will spend hours reliving that portion of Revelations when  Jesus Christ fought off the Four Horses of the Apocalypse using his light mortar rocket launcher (complete with projectile bombs w/depleted uranium tips) and battle knife.  Pretty cool stuff, if you're into that kind of thing.

48 -- Number of illegal immigrants arrested in Iowa and Nebraska this week as part of a nationwide operation conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  2,900 individuals were arrested throughout the nation.  Each of these individuals has had at least one criminal conviction and more that half of those convictions were felonies.  All 2,900 now face deportation.

$1,387 -- That is how much (gross) that actor Corey Feldman earns every month.  His ex-wife is seeking health insurance and child support, according to TMZ.  I'm not even sure why this article caught my eye.  But it amazed me for some reason that Feldman's income after being in all those big movies is now just $26 above the 150% FLP (federal level of poverty).  My favorite Feldman movie is Gremins, by the way.

4,093 -- Revised U.S. Census numbers of the number of same-sex households in Iowa.  That's down from their earlier report of 6,540 household earlier this summer.  Apparently, there was a problem with the design of the forms used by the Census workers who visited homes that created this "data collection error".  I'm still not sure how they can assert that this is the number, given that they were inconsistent about whether gay families should report ourselves as such or whether or not they would even record our families.  But, that's the official number for now.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Millionaire Matchmaker Only Insulted "LA Gays"... Except for when She was Insulting All Gays

Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger raised some hackles Sunday night when she accused gay men of being uncurbable non-monogamists and Jewish men of being liars.  As noted in my post last night, Stanger eventually took to Twitter and explained that she wasn't ragging on all gays, just LA gays.  Apparently, she decided to do some more damage control last night and appeared on Joy Behar's talk show to further explain herself.  I'm thinking that she should have just apologized on Twitter and hunkered down for a couple weeks.

Andy Towle of Towleroad sets the scene:
Stanger says that people missed the point on WWHL, that she was offering advice on an L.A.-specific gay relationship. “Whether you're straight or gay, that's player town. Did I say all gays? I said the gays in Los Angeles.”

Stanger then tried to explain her advocacy work on behalf of gay men: "For five years I have put gay dating on the map. Nobody ever did this. There was no LOGO then. And I did the NoH8 campaign, I was an advocate for gay marriage, I stood up there for my gay friends. I've got more gay friends than Carter has pills."

She then negates her L.A.-specific excuse by asserting that gays "all around the country" are shallow, sex-first, relationship-later individuals, and then insults the gay community on marriage.

Says Stanger to Behar (my transcript):

"In the show when we do the mixers, the guys are passing around the telephone numbers, they're sleeping with each other, even after the millionaire gets the date he's sleeping with the pool of people. My (gay) friend...says 'Patti this is what it's like around the country.' This is the gay community. I said, 'I'm trying to curb them.' Now this is not the lesbian. The lesbian gets involved. They move in together. They're quiet. They're at peace. But the gay men. They whip it out at eye lock. They get involved, and then they find out later whether or not they want a serious relationship. And I hope they use the privilege in New York of gay marriage, because now they have it. And a lot of gays aren't getting married, even though they have the privilege."
Personally, I think there's a grain of salt to what Stanger is talking about.  But, she generalizes quite a bit here and she really needs to stop that.  She needs to figure out if she's generalizing about all gay men or just the LA ones.  If she's talking about her perception about all gay men, then she needs to stop claiming that she's just talking about those LA gays.  Even then, I can't believe that LA is filled with this uncontrolled population of uncurbable sexaholics.

As to Stanger's final point, lots of gays (presumably gay men) aren't getting married because they haven't found someone compatible to marry.  I would think that Stanger would be familiar with this concept, given that she's lived many, many more years as a single woman than as a married one -- and even that relationship didn't last very long. 

She needs to realize that many gay men are indeed married.  Others will get married when the time is right.  And others could benefit from her assistance, assuming that she takes their desire for a lifelong match seriously.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bravo's Patti Stanger Insults // Offends Both Gay and Jewish Men

Looks like I picked the wrong night to read a book.  I should have stayed up last night and watched the season premier of "Watch What Happens Live" on Bravo instead (though doesn't it seem like the last season just ended just a few weeks ago?).  Bravo honcho and WWHL host Andy Cohen brought "Millionaire Matchmaker" star Patti Stanger onto the show to provide dating advice to his audience.  Very quickly, she began shooting out very broad generalizations and assertions about both gay men and Jewish men:
Taking calls from viewers, Stanger repeatedly packaged gay and Jewish stereotypes as insight in a segment that offended viewers and made host Andy Cohen visibly uncomfortable. Things started to get uncomfortable when a gay man called in asking a question about maintaining an open long-term relationship. Stanger said, "In the gay world, it will always be open," and continued, "I've tried to curb you people." She then referenced a gay sex site. Andy Cohen recoiled in shock. "I'm down for the monogamy," he said, pushing back on her comments. She immediately burst out laughing. "When was the last time you had a boyfriend?" she asked, incredulously. Another caller hit on similar themes, and got a similar response from Stanger. He called in saying that he was looking for a committed relationship in L.A., but was having trouble finding people with the same priorities. "You're very handsome," she said, "I thought you were straight." She then clarified that he wasn't "queeny," as Cohen made a funny face that expressed his discomfort.
Stanger later warned a female caller off from Jewish men, insisting that "they lie."

Since then, I've seen Stanger's comments referenced on blogs and there were some pretty negative reactions on Sirius OutQ this afternoon. There is even a hashtag movement, #CancelStanger, trending on Twitter since her appearance last night.

Stanger was initially oblivious to fans' reaction, tweeting, "Love that I was trending last night between Packers & Sisterwives!"  She seems to have moderated her response a bit since then, choosing to generalize with LA gays as opposed to all gays: "...It's true LA gays toughest nuts to crack to monogamy!"  Shortly afterward, she issued a gentler explanation ("Attn male Gays: I support you & my comment on WWHL was to LA gay who can't find commitment.") followed by a broader apology four hours later: "So sorry - didn't mean to offend anyone. Love you all. XO".

This entire mess got me thinking about this summer's "Who's your Bravo Peeps?" challenge.  Maybe I should have invited Patti Stanger to my summer camp outing.  Maybe then she would learn that there are gay couples outside of LA who actually care about monogamy and fidelity.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Melissa Etheridge Denies that her Marriage to Tammy Lynn Michaels was a "Real Marriage"

Singer Melissa Etheridge and actress Tammy Lynn Michaels were together for a pretty long time.  They had a commitment ceremony back in 2003 and they raised children together.  They did not legally marry during that narrow six month period when marriage equality existed in California due to concerns over the Proposition 8 ballot initiative and the uncertainty that it would cause for them if it passed (which obviously it eventually did in November 2008):
Etheridge, 47, said last October (2008) that she and actress Tammy Lynn Michaels planned to marry to legalize a ceremony they had in 2003. But they never went through with the wedding in part because of the threat that it could be banned again, Etheridge told Reuters. "I wanted to wait until I knew that when I step into City Hall and I'm there with my wife and that clerk signs that piece of paper, I want to know that it's free and clear," she said... "My wife and I consider ourselves to be married, we would like that to be recognized some day civically," Etheridge said in a phone interview. "What if this was the 1960s and it was like, 'OK these interracial marriages can be married but these can't.' You can't put this back in the bottle," said Etheridge.
Turns out that Etheridge has a different view towards the gay marriage bottle these days.  TMZ reported on Friday that Etheridge and her legal team are denying that her marriage to Michaels was ever a "real" marriage.  It was more like an extended sleep-over party or maybe a casual roommate situation:
TMZ has obtained legal docs, which draw the battle lines in the break-up of their 9-year relationship that produced twins. According to the docs, Melissa claims she's at loggerheads with Tammy over the following issues:

-- Child custody
-- Visitation
-- Child support
-- Spousal support
-- Division of property
-- Attorney's fees

But wait ... there's more ... Melissa and Tammy are even arguing over whether they were actually married. Tammy says they were (which would entitle her to all sorts of financial goodies) while Melissa says their vows were nothing more than a non-binding commitment ceremony.
I hate winner-takes-all divorce situations.  I have had co-workers go through these.  I have the friend of a co-worker going through one of these right now.  They are awful and they destroy everyone involved -- especially the children in these families.  It disgusts me that Etheridge and Michaels are exposing themselves and their kids to this type of break-up.

What disgusts me possibly even more is that Etheridge is using homophobic legal arguments to avoid spousal support, child custody, and child support.  I can't believe that she is arguing that her family never existed.  Would she have thought that five years ago?  How about back in 2003 when she was planning her commitment ceremony with Michaels?  Did that mean nothing?  Does she understand what she is indirectly telling their kids about their mothers' relationship and their family when she says that it was just some "non-binding" relationship?

In my mind, Melissa Etheridge is no better than that jurisdiction-shoppping and country-hopping ex-lesbian, Lisa Miller.  Trust me, that's no compliment.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

God And Gays: Marin Foundation Featured on BBC World Service's Heart And Soul Radio Program

I was hopping around on Twitter this morning and learned that Andrew Marin was being featured on BBC World Service's "Heart And Soul" radio program.  Additionally, there was an online print focusing mostly on Marin and The Marin Foundation on BBC News Magazine:
Can one man build effective bridges between evangelical Christians and Chicago's gay community?

That is the hope of Andrew Marin - who has spent the last decade living in Boystown, Chicago's officially-designated neighbourhood for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) residents. He works to try and bring Christians and gay people together in open conversation about sexuality and spirituality - and that includes running a large-scale meeting four times a year at Roscoe's, one of America's most famous gay bars. That is no small achievement in a culture where openly gay people and evangelical Christians have long viewed each other with suspicion. But Andrew Marin's determination to bring polarised opposites together in dialogue has grown in ways he never imagined...

The early years were extremely difficult, he says, as he struggled to work out whether he could reconcile his friends' sexuality with his Christian convictions. "When I went to gay bars or events with my friends, I felt bad, because I felt that I should have been saying to people: 'You're wrong and you need to change.'" But rather than condemning local people, he decided that he should be an open-minded Christian presence. That decision brought with it some unexpected results - and an unanticipated nickname. "For the first three years, everybody just called me Straighty Straighterson - because I was literally the only straight male [they met]. People would start talking to me about God and church and the Bible - people would just bring their questions to me." So chance conversations in bars and clubs spelt the beginnings of what is now an organisation at work throughout the United States...

So does Andrew Marin's work in Boystown genuinely offer a way forward for Christians at war with each other over questions of sexuality? That may depend on how many Christians are willing to tolerate the Marin Foundation's refusal to define its own position on Christian sexual ethics. Andrew Marin admits it is a criticism he hears frequently, but he insists that his focus is on enabling gay people who wish to explore Christianity to be able to do so. He admits that some churches will continue to focus on "healing" gay people of homosexuality - while others will simply welcome and affirm gay people on their own terms. He says that the Marin Foundation simply wants to get gay people thinking about Christian spirituality in its broadest sense, without a disproportionate emphasis on sexual morality.
The radio show connects with the primary pastor at the Evangelical Free church where the Marin Foundation shares office space. It also spends time with a Chicago-based Anglican church that broke away from the Evangelical Church of the USA because of its inclusion of gay people. And there were other interviews, mostly coming from a perspective that homosexuality is universally sinful, that gay people should be allowed at church but celibate, and/or that gay people do not belong in the church.

It's an interesting radio program, but it's also kind of frustrating.  To be honest, it's been a frustration that has nurtured all week since reading Rachel Held Evans' "Ask a Gay Christian..." interview with GCN's Justin Lee.  I am past this debate.  But most people aren't.  Those interviewed in this BBC report support that assertion and most commenters in the "Ask a Gay Christian..." post support that assertion.  Most cannot grasp the idea that gay people can be Christian without seeking ex-gay transformation or without living a life of celibacy.  All gay sexuality is treated equally and there is no concept that the Biblical anti-gay clobber verses might have a different way to being looked at or that gay families can or should have a place in the church.  With this perspective, there is no difference between gay marriage or civil unions or serial monogamy or friends with benefit situations or random hook-ups or prostitution or prison rape or whatever.  To most of those commenting in the church, it's all the same.  More frustratingly, gay and lesbian marriage is frequently treated as the most sacrilegious expression of gay sexuality.  And yes, I'm rambling and reading a bit between the lines.  But I'm long past the debate.

But I'm always up for supporting my friend Andrew and his efforts at building bridges between the GLBT communities and the conservative Christian church.  You can read the full article here and I encourage you to sit back for a half-hour to listen to the accompanying radio program.

From the UK: Divorces Less Common Amongst Gay Civil Partners Vs. Straight Marriages

According to the Office of National Statistics, gay civil partnerships were less likely to dissolve between 2005-2010 than heterosexual marriages throughout the United Kingdom.  When you look at the percentages, neither group ran that high -- especially when you hear the often repeated mantra about the "50% divorce rate".  According to the ONS, 5.5% of marriages ended with divorce during that five year span compared to 2.5% of civil partnerships ending with dissolutionSince 2005, 42,778 civil partnerships were undertaken -- which is apparently four times the number that was initially expected.

Qweerty wisely notes some reasons for the disparity between divorces vs. dissolutions:
The data could be distorted by the possibility that many of the first couples to get civil unions in 2005 had already been together for a long time.

Nero at Daycare -- 09/22/11

This one is actually from a couple days ago, but how can I resist sharing pics of my favorite standard poodle?  Check it out:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Religious Reactions to Don't Ask Don't Tell's Repeal

This is how Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission chose to react to Don't Ask Don't Tell's recent repeal:
I think there's a grave concern on the part of the Southern Baptist chaplains that I've talked to in all branches of the service that their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religious free exercise are going to be either extinguished or severely limited in the near future and they're very, very, very concerned. I believe that if we get a Republican president, we're going to hear the senior officers in all of the branches singing a very different tune than the one they're singing now. I know they're under a tremendous amount of pressure to go along with this political experimentation with our military, which is totally uncalled for. It's just a disgrace that this is going on.
Compare that to Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, the United Church of Christ's executive and minister for LGBT Concerns:
Eighteen years ago the 19th General Synod of the United Church of Christ called for an end to the ban against gays and lesbians in the military. The resolution supported “the development of just and uniform standards of sexual conduct for all military personnel.”

United Church of Christ leaders have advocated that no category of citizens of the United States should be regarded as second class and singled out for discrimination. All should be afforded equal opportunity and equal protection under the Constitution. Under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy more than 13,000 gays and lesbians were discharged and an uncounted number of others left prior to completing full careers due to the pressures it imposed.

With the repeal, gay, lesbian and bisexual service members will no longer be forced to deny who they are as persons or maintain lives of secrecy and separation from their service comrades. They will be free to acknowledge their orientation and their loved ones, and rest secure in the knowledge that should they be killed or wounded their loved ones will be notified.

It is important to note that the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell applies only to sexual orientation and not to gender identity. Transgender people continue to suffer the injustice of not being allowed to serve openly in the military. Although transgender service members will no longer be discharged under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, they may continue to be barred from enlisting or serving openly under other provisions of the military code. Like the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policies, the bans on service by transgender people are also based on stereotypes and a lack of accurate information. The military should take immediate action to repeal these policies, as well.
One denomination is celebrating and looking forward towards overcoming additional forms of discrimination.  The other denomination is looking backwards and advocating for the return of institutional discrimination.  God Bless the UCC.

GOP Debate Audience Boos Gay Soldier; Santorum Apparently Demands Celibacy for ALL Military Folks

It seems like you can't toss a stone without hitting a 2012 Republican Presidential Debate these days.  During last night's debate, a gay solider currently serving in Iraq asked Rick Santorum, "Do you plant to circumvent the progress that has been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?" (i.e., Are you going to undo DADT's repeal?).  Almost immediately, Hill was booed by the debate audience.

Santorum came out with the following answer:
"Any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military. And the fact that they are making it a point to include it as a provision within the military - that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege, I think tries to inject social policy into the military and the military's job is to defend our country. We need to give the military, which is all volunteer, the ability to do so in a way that is most efficient and protective of our men and women in uniform and I believe this undermines that ability."

Megyn Kelly followed up: "So what would you do with soldiers like Stephen Hill. Now he's out. What would you do as president?"

Said Santorum: "What we're doing right now is playing social experimentation with our military right now, and that's tragic. Going forward we would reinstitute that policy..."
That last bolded bit drew huge cheers from the audience.

But let's step back a bit.  Santorum has just stated that the military has no place for any type of sexual activity.  Is he suggesting that heterosexual soldiers and officers need to break away from their husbands and wives and boyfriends and girlfriends?  I doubt it, but then again gay people are crazy, sex-obsessed nuts who cannot control ourselves around innocent hets, right?  (That last bit was sarcasm, by the way...)

Part of the harm caused by DADT is that gay and lesbian soldiers had no support.  They were professionally at risk if they had a boyfriend or girlfriend or partner or spouse.  They could not seek support from their loved one like their het peers while trying to cope with being in a warzone over and over and over.  They couldn't be honest with chaplains or VA counselors about their home issues for fear of committing professional suicide.

It is sad that Santorum and those in that audience want to return our gay and lesbian soldiers to a policy that forces them into a situation where they aren't necessarily going to ever come out to anyone around them, but where they will lose their career if anyone connected to them professionally finds out through direct or indirect means.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Who Knew? Iowa City Has Its Own Pet Psychic

It has been a long while, but I have a grudging respect for pet psychics.  Several years ago when I had a blog over on Beliefnet, I wrote about being a fan of animal psychic, Sonya Fitzpatrick.  She used to have a cable TV show on Animal Planet and now has a satellite radio program on Sirius XM every Tuesday night.  Pet psychics -- or animal communicators -- purport to have telepathic gifts that allow them to mentally communicate with animals, both living and deceased.  A couple that I have come across recently have also claimed to possess the ability to communicate as mediums with deceased people.  They do not need to be physically with the animals when communicating with them.

This is what I wrote back in 2007:
People call in and ask (Sonya) about behavioral problems that their pet is having or to get some insight from their pet's perspective and she comes off as completely believable. She'll throw out some observation from the caller's pet that touches on unspoken truths. Sometimes, it's clear that she's fishing, but other times I can't deny her legitimacy...

My guess is that her abilities have less to do with psychic abilities and more to do with everyday insight, empathy, and knowledge of animal behavior. I'm a social worker who works primarily with disabled kids and I can usually throw out certain questions or observations about their kids when fishing for more information and more often than not, my intuition is spot-on (or it leads down a very similar road). There are certain universal experiences with disabled kids and their families, just as there are certain universal behaviors and experiences with pets. My guess is that Sonya benefits from these animal universals.

Regardless of the genuineness of her psychic abilities, she is a wonderful radio personality and does a great job of connecting with her callers and audience.
More recently, I reconnected with Sonya's program this summer when I renewed my Sirius XM subscription and it's been good to hear her talk to and for the animals.  Before I thought she was a good performer.  These days, despite myself, I'm kind of becoming a believer.  Seriously.

Before I move on, let me share this video that I came across of Sonya providing cat-blogger Karen Nichols are pet psychic reading, which she shared on her blog.  Within minutes, Nichols went from being a skeptic to a believer:

I've added a second clip of Sonya while visiting the Sirius OutQ just 'cuz:

That gives you a little taste of what I've been dipping my toes into recently.  Fast forward to a last month.  I came across a series of podcasts called Pet Psychic Radio.  This particular psychic is named Laura Stinchfield.  I've heard her read dogs and cats and horses.  Sometimes callers have a behavioral problem that they want addressed.  Sometimes they want to learn more about a rescue animal's past.  And other times people just want to see what their pets think of them.  At times, I find myself laughing at these animals' antics and other times I find myself close to tears.  The end result is that this is something that I find myself wanting to directly experience somehow.

Last week, I was mucking about on the Internets and came across a startling discovery: Iowa City has its own animal communicator!  Not only that, but she's someone I know.  At least, she's somebody that I know of.  Her name is Sondy Kaska and she is a local attorney.  She is available by appointment to assist with either living and deceased pets.  And her rates aren't terribly expensive.  I'm strongly tempted to give this a try. 

Christmas is coming soon.  So is my 40th birthday.  Maybe I can talk Mark into getting me a gift card for an hour-long reading.  Both Ms. Lion and Nero have some nervous behaviors that I would like to address, plus I would like to hear what's foremost on their minds (Calliope, too!).  It's very much possible that this is a wishful pipe dream.  But it's something I want to check out at least once in my life.

On a related note before I log off, I was chatting at the end of my shift today and asked one of my team-members if she knew that Sondy was an animal communicator.  She told me that she did indeed know this.  Apparently, she had purchased a one-hour gift certificate with Sondy last year and gave it to her mother to help her prepare for her cat's upcoming death.  She said that her mother sent a picture of her cat to Sondy and then visited with her by phone.  Sondy was able to help my co-worker communicate with the cat and process the impending death.  Apparently, it was a very positive experience for her.  Afterwards, Sondy forwarded a tape-recorded version of the call to my co-worker's mother.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nero at Daycare -- 09/20/11

Nero was pretty wild today at doggy daycare.  Lots of roughhousing and tennis ball play.  Check it out:

Soldier Comes Out to his Dad Post DADT

Soldier comes out to his dad post-DADT.  It's a bit of a tear-jerker:

Monday, September 19, 2011

DADT Officially Ends Tomorrow

Don't Ask, Don't Tell officially ends tomorrow.  Gay men and women will no longer be forced to hide in the closet for fear of losing their careers.  That's pretty exciting stuff.
Don't Ask Don't Tell Repeal
September 20, 2011

Today marks the end of "Don't Ask Don't Tell."  The law is repealed.  From this day forward, gay and lesbian Soldiers may serve in our Army with the dignity and respect they deserve.  Our rules, regulations and policies reflect the repeal guidance issued by the Department of Defense and will apply uniformly without regard to sexual orientation, which is a personal and private matter.

For over 236 years, the U.S. Army has been an extraordinary force for good in the world.  Our Soldiers are the most agile, adaptable and capable warriors in history -- and we are ready for this change.

Over the last several months, our Leaders, Soldiers and Department of the Army Civilians have discussed, trained and prepared for this day.  The President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs have certified that repeal is consistent with military readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion and recruiting and retention.  Your professionalism, leadership and respect for your fellow Soldiers will ensure that this effort is successful.

At the heart of our success is adherence to the Army Values.  These standards not only infuse every facet of our culture and operations, but also guide us as we adapt to change.  Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage are not mere words to us -- they are the very principles by which we live, train and fight.

Accordingly, we expect all personnel to follow our Values by implementing the repeal fully, fairly and in accordance with policy guidance.  It is the duty of all personnel to treat each other with dignity and respect, while maintaining good order and discipline throughout our ranks.  Doing so, will help the U.S. Army remain the Strength of the Nation.

Raymond F. Chandler III, Sergeant Major of the Army
Raymond T. Odierno, General, United States Army Chief of Stat
John M. McHugh, Secretary of the Army
USA Today reports today that the Military has begun accepting applications from openly gay recruits, but that those applications are being officially processed until tomorrow.  The Pentagon has repeatedly asserted that they are fully prepared to handle DADT's repeal.

In related news, the Navy has agreed to change Melvin Dwork's discharge from "undesirable" to "honorable" nearly 70 years after his expulsion from the military.  The 89-year-old former corpsman was expelled from the Navy after an old boyfriend had ratted him out.  "I resented that word 'undesirable'.  That word really stuck in my craw.  To me it was a terrible insult.  It had to be righted.  It's really worse than 'dishonorable'.  I think it was the worst word they could have used."  Dwork will now be eligible for the military benefits he had previously been denied, including medical care and a military burial.

DADT's repeal is long overdue.  Gay and lesbian soldiers and officers have been serving in the U.S. Military for decades.  It is ridiculous that these men and women have given up years of service, as well as their limbs and life, to this country while social conservatives have argued that their very collective presence jeopardized the liberties of heterosexual.  DADT should never have existed.  Fortunately, it will end and the world will realize that little has changed except that a certain group of soldiers won't be drummed out of the military any longer.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Undead were Unleashed on Iowa City Yesterday

A couple days back, I warned my readers about a planned zombie invasion of Iowa City.  Despite my warnings, the zombies managed to lumber through downtown Iowa City before attacking the Iowa City Yacht Club.  As near as I can tell, both the police and the military failed to step in and protect the citizens of Iowa City from this unholy scourge of living death:
More than 200 zombies took part in the trek, which was a fundraiser for Iowa City Hospice Care and the Red Shamrock Foundation, which supports post-cancer patients. It also served as a food drive for Table to Table... (T)he zombies snarled at honking motorists, lumbered past pedestrians who stopped to take cell-phone pictures and drew more than a few befuddled looks from Hawkeye fans heading home after Saturday's game.
It's unbelievable that we live in a day and age where hundreds of undead zombies can swarm the streets of one of Iowa's major cities and attack UI Hawk fans without any sense of response from the local authorities.  Where in that article was a response from either the Iowa City City Council or from the Johnson County Board of Supervisors?  Has the sheriff or the chief of police issued instructions for the frightened people of this community?   So far, the answer is "no".

Fortunately, the zombies actually communicated their intent to attack the Iowa City Ped Mall this time around.  Watchful citizens like myself had time to warn our neighbors and board up our houses.  We might not be so fortunate next time.  Remain vigilant against the zombie menace and be prepared to hold our elected officials accountable.  We might not be fortunate enough to make it through the next incursion alive.

Check out this website for images of yesterday's zombie invasion.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

And a Pumpkin in a Pear Tree

Here's a fun story coming out of Iowa.  A Greenfield, IA, couple discovered a pumpkin hanging from their pear tree earlier this month:
(Phil and JaNelle Lovely) say they have no idea how the pumpkin ended up in their tree, but it appears to be the work of Mother Nature. A nearby garden vine climbed the tree, giving the now-green pumpkin the appearance of having sprouted from one the tree's branches.

JaNelle Lovely says people have been stopping by to see the suspended pumpkin since it was discovered on Labor Day. She's hoping it remains in the tree until it turns orange.
The Lovely's pumpkin story reminded me of my own unexpected pumpkin story.  Mark and I rented a house for a few years before finally settling into our current home.  That first fall, we were raking leaves and clearing away a bunch of weeds.  We ended up discovering the hugest pumpkin hidden amongst all of those weeds.  It was bigger and better looking than anything that you could find at the store.  My guess is that the prior tenants had carved a pumpkin the previous fall and had tossed the discarded seeds out the front door.  Fortunately for us, one of the seeds managed to sprout up.

IA State Senator's Resignation Threatens Balance of Iowa Senate/Stability of Gay Families

This is keeping me up more than it should.  Hopefully, I can get this off my chest here and then get a bit more sleep tonight:
Sen. Swati Dandekar, D-Marion, has resigned her seat to accept a $137,000-a-year appointment to the Iowa Utility Board. Dandekar’s resignation could change the balance of power in the Senate where Democrats hold a 26-24 majority. If a Republican would win an as yet-to-be scheduled special election, the Senate would be evenly divided again.

Gov. Terry Branstad announced the appointment Friday, calling Dandekar “uniquely qualified … (having) demonstrated a deep understanding of the utility industry and of the energy issues facing our state.”

“As a scientist with a degree in chemistry, Swati Dandekar will bring both an educational and professional background that will benefit our state’s utility customers as she helps craft a regulatory environment that protects consumers while promoting energy production in Iowa,” Branstad said. She will begin her service immediately...

The impact of a Republican victory in a special election would be far-reaching as it would make it harder for Senate Democrats to block legislation sent over from the Republican-controlled House. That would include social issues such as a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and abortion restrictions. After a 25-25 tie after the 2004 election, the Senate operated with co-presidents, co-majority leaders and co-committee chairs, one Democrat, one Republican.
The special election to fill Dandekar's seat has been scheduled for November 8, 2011.  It's amazing how one resignation can potentially affect the stability of my family.  This is something that heterosexual people don't struggle with.  They might disagree with an opposing political party's stance on tax policy or job creation or whatever, but they don't face the real threat that the very constitutional existence of their own family will be debated and voted on if the wrong political party gains control. 

The GOP leaders in that article are talking about taxes and job growth and small businesses and everything, but the first thing they will do if they gain more power in the State Senate -- the first thing they always do -- will be to attempt legislation focused on harming gay families:
Rallyig (sic) cries also from the other team. "While an evenly split Senate will not give Republicans control of the chamber, it would eliminate Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal’s ability to block legislation from even being debated," writes Craig Robinson. "That means issues that were never allowed to be debated in the senate, like the marriage amendment, various abortion bills, and even tax cuts, could now see the light of day. Gronstal’s heavy-handed ways also will ensure that activists from all across the state will be willing to help the Republican effort to win the seat."
Do I really need to go into the fact that none of the horror stories about gay marriage that always get bandied about have occurred here in Iowa since we gained the ability to get legally married?  No pastors have been arrested.  No church has been forced to officiate at the wedding of a lesbian couple.  No kindergartners have been taught the mechanics of gay sex.  No social conservatives have been drummed out of town.  The biggest change?  Gay families have the protections and responsibilities that come with civil marriage now.  And the GOP wants to take that away from us.  And pretty much "just because".  Heterosexual families won't be more secure with my marriage's dissolution.  My family just won't exist anymore.  But, hey, it helps hets sleep better so it's all worth it, eh?

The Iowa Democratic Party had a website up for a while called, but it seems to be gone now.  I'll keep my eyes out for it and post more information in the future.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Zombies Plan Invasion of Iowa City Tomorrow Evening

It's been several months, but it looks like the undead will be lumbering through Iowa City tomorrow evening.  That's the unfortunate news.  The fortunate news is that they are actually advertising their efforts to swarm downtown Iowa City.  That gives the people of Iowa City plenty of time to reinforce our doors and board up our windows!:
They're gory. They're flesh-eating. They're undead. And they're invading Iowa City.

The sixth annual Iowa City Zombie March takes over the town at 5 p.m. Saturday, starting in Happy Hollow Park. A group of about 250 zombies is expected to participate in all their gory glory to raise funds for Iowa City Hospice Care and The Red Shamrock Foundation, which supports post-cancer patients.

Organizer and head zombie Shawn Beatty, originally from Marion, brought the idea of the march of the undead to life after missing out on a similar event in Madison, Wis. "I was mad (I missed it)," Beatty said. "So I thought, 'I'll do my own with a lot of friends in Iowa City.' I figured at least 10 people would show up, and at the time I was a teacher in Wisconsin, so I thought if it went horribly wrong, it wouldn't get back to me." About 40 zombies showed up for the first gathering, Beatty said...

Beatty said zombies come in all shapes, sizes and ages, from an 18-month-old pirate zombie to a couple in their 70s who wear matching costumes every year. "We've had zombie babies in strollers, zombie parents, the whole range," he said...

"Everybody comes together in good spirits, dragging their feet and looking for brains..."
Surely, I can't be the only person in town offended because the walking dead are raising money to support hospice care and cancer recovery.  If the zombies really want to help cancer survivors and promote hospice treatment, they need to stop eating people and expanding their undead swarms!

Check out this website for more information about tomorrow's Zombie March.  This information can help protect you and your loved ones.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Another Mountain Lion Spotted in Iowa City

Earlier this month, I shared a story about a couple cougars that were spotted by numerous people at 7:30 AM near one of the local elementary schools.  Today, the Press-Citizen reported a new cougar sighting near the First Avenue Hy-Vee, which is across town from the first sighting:
A cougar sighting reported Wednesday afternoon in east Iowa City is the third sighting of a cougar or mountain lion in the area in two weeks. Iowa City police received a report about 4:12 p.m. Wednesday of a cougar walking in a small wooded area on the east side of South First Avenue near Hy-Vee and the bike path along Ralston Creek.

Animal control and police officers responded and searched the area but did not locate the animal. Officers from the agencies continue to patrol the area, said Misha Goodman, director of animal control and the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center... Goodman said she usually receives reports of sightings several times a year.
I live near one of the local creeks, so I'm more mindful than some of wild animals roaming the streets of our little city.  Since moving here, I've seen everything from squirrels and rabbits to owls, eagles, and foxes.  Fortunately, I haven't seen any mountain lions. 

I worry about urban predators coming after my dogs, particularly little Ms. Lion.  But maybe I should be a bit more nervous about my kids.  It's worthwhile nothing that each of these sightings took place either immediately before or after school.

UPDATE ON 09/16/11: Here's a bit of related silliness coming out of the University of Iowa.  After Wednesday's mountain lion sighting, UIowaPolitics tweeted: "I didn't know Bachmann was in town. Bah-dum-bum."  It was a silly post and way less worse than many that I've read about Bachmann, but the UI pretty quickly went into damage control mode.  The UI later removed the tweet and replaced it with the following message: "The University of Iowa apologizes for an inappropriate post to this feed earlier today."  To their credit, Bachmann and her people released the following response: "When you are 55 years old, have had 5 children, and been foster mother to 23 children, Michele is grateful when people don't refer to her at The old Lady in the Shoe."

I'm having a problem wrapping my head around the concept of a UI politics-related twitter account.  Especially if the UI flips out for fear of ever offending any of the candidates.

The Mighty Stand Revealed

Last month, I shared an silhouetted image of seven Marvel super-heroes who will rise up to save the planet from the evil Serpent and his seven hammer-wielding "Worthy" champions:
There were seven superhumans "Worthy" enough to serve the evil Serpent over in Marvel Comics (Absorbing Man, Attuma, Grey Gargoyle, Hulk, Juggernaut, Sin, Thing, and Titania). Marvel recently revealed seven "Mighty" heroes who might just be tough enough to oppose the Serpent and his Worthy allies. The Mighty are all blacked out, but that doesn't stop me from speculating about their identities. Some are easy choices, others aren't. Here are my initial guesses (from left to right): Ms. Marvel, Iron Fist, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Wolverine, She-Hulk (not sure which one, though I'm hoping for Red She-Hulk and planning for the future She-Hulk), Mockingbird, Hawkeye, and Spider-Man. It's still unclear if these folks have been mystically or technologically charged by anyone or whom that might be. I could be wrong with some of my guesses, but it's notable that neither Thor nor Captain America are mighty enough for this group of Mighty Men (and women).
Marvel Comics finally revealed the identities of The Mighty and I just wanted to congratulate myself on picking six out of seven.  The Mighty are Ms. Marvel, Iron Fist, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Wolverine, Red She-Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Spider-Man.  It's a pretty cool team, though I'm not sure if I would have chosen Black Widow.

Nero at Daycare -- 09/15/11

Nero was showing off his new 'do at doggy daycare today.  Looks like one of the other dogs decided to inspect it and leave a bit of drool behind.  Just part of the joy of being a dog.  Check it out:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lesbian Couple Improperly Denied Marriage License by NY Town Clerk

People For the American Way (PFAW) issued a press release informing the public about a lesbian couple who went to their local town clerk in Ledyard, NY, and found that the elected official refused to process their marriage license:
People For the American Way Foundation and Proskauer Rose, LLP, a global law firm, sent a letter this weekend to the Ledyard Town Board, demanding that the town’s clerk fulfill her legal duty to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The letter refers to Ledyard Town Clerk Rose Marie Belforti, who had publicly stated that she will not sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples and refused to do so for Katie Carmichael and Deirdre DiBiaggio on August 30. With the Ledyard Town Board’s permission, Ms. Belforti decided to stop issuing marriage licenses altogether due to her opposition to the Marriage Equality Act, instead delegating the responsibility to a subordinate officer. Upon appearing before Ms. Belforti for a marriage license on August 30th, Ms. Carmichael and Ms. DiBiaggio were told by the town clerk herself that they could not obtain a license that day and instead would need to return by appointment another day to meet with a subordinate official who would fulfill their request. Faced with discrimination by an elected official who placed her personal prejudices above the law, Katie Carmichael and Deirdre DiBiaggio turned to People For the American Way Foundation for help in realizing their right to wed.
You can read the letter that was sent to Ledyard Town Clerk Rose Marie Belforti and Ledyard Town Supervisor Mark Jordan here.  Ms. Belforti is being told to do her job and process all marriage licenses or step down.  Barring that, PFAW and Proskauer Rose, LLP, are threatening to take further legal action against the community of Ledyard.  Meanwhile, the Alliance Defense Fund is all excited about New York's town clerks refusing to do their jobs and has promised to back them up if they don't want to do their jobs and process gay marriage licenses.

What a waste of time and resources.  Town Clerks are not there to bless marriage licenses.  They are there to process the paperwork.  Why not just process these ladies' form and move on with life?

Ms. Lion After the Groomer -- 09/13/11

Ms. Lion went to the groomer yesterday.  Neither she nor Nero were quite as shaggy pre-grooming this time around so they both mainly got bathed and trimmed.  Ms. Lion came home with a fetching ribbon attached to her one ear.  She seems to love showing off bit of clothing.  There's a bit more bounce to her walk when wearing a sweater, for example.  She has the same extra bounce now that she has her ribbon.

Check it out:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I'm a Winner!

A few weeks ago, I was checking out the Twitter feeds of different people and came across a notice for a "Freebie Friday" contest by one of my favorite writers, Kelley Armstrong.  I was asked to name two of the narrators for her book, Living with the Dead.  I've been re-reading the books and answered Hope Adams (a chaos-binging half-demon) and Adele Morrissey (an evil Clairvoyant photographer).  Turns out that I was one of the three winners for that week's contest!  (More on that below.)

I don't write about her work much, but I can't get enough of her "Women of Otherworld" books and related works.  Imagine that there is this secret society of supernatural races living among us.  That's the Otherworld.  I started reading the first book, Bitten, because I like werewolves.  Bitten introduced readers to Elena Michaels, the only female werewolf on the planet.  The story explored her ambivalence about her lycanthropic fate, while detailing an attempted werewolf coup against the North American Werewolf Pack.  Stolen came next and informed both Elena and the readers that the Otherworld has more than just werewolves in it.  There are witches and shamen and super-powered half-demons and vampires.  Subsequent books introduced ghost-seeing necromancers (one of whom earned her fame passing fake messages from the grave to her grieving fans), Mafia-like sorcerer Cabals, and Clairvoyant paparazzi.

Anyway, I was offered an autographed "extra" from Kelley Armstrong's bookshelf.  It was mostly a bunch of anthologies that contained short stories by her.  But there were also some audio books and other materials.  Husband Mark suggested I get Armstrong's Otherworld Primer.  It's a black and white comic book that provides a basic introduction to all of the main characters and most of the supernatural races who populate the Otherworld.  Not that I needed a primer, but Mark thought it would be nice for him to finally figure out what I'm yammering on about everytime I get one of her books!

The Otherworld Primer arrived yesterday.  I occasionally bug D' that we're going to move to Canada.  Don't get me wrong.  I'd really like to move to Canada.  There's lots of room, saner politics, and I could bring my dogs with me.  But Mark wants us to have actual jobs before emigrating and D' absolutely does NOT want to move to Canada (he hates Degrassi -- don't ask...) and I'm pretty sure that it would be close to impossible to move Les permanently to another country, so we're not moving anytime soon.  But it was fun getting a package from Ontario and it was even funner teasing D' that it contained the deed to our new Canadian house.

The comic is pretty cool, but it was even more cool to get a half-dozen Otherworld-related bookmarks.  Readers are guided through the Otherworld by the powerful half-witch/half-sorcerer Savannah Levine.  It does a great job of summarizing the characters, their races, and some of the major character/plot points.  Plus, it focuses heavily on the werewolves which is always a good thing.

I want to thank Kelley Armstrong for sending me the comic book primer and the book marks and I really want to encourage others to pick up her work.  The stories are fun and exciting and creative and the pace is always smooth as butter.

Monday, September 12, 2011

House of Worship or House of Ill Repute?

This is pretty wild stuff.  CNN reports that a church called the Phoenix Goddess Temple has been the subject of a 6-month undercover investigation for operating as a secret brothel.  So far, 20 male and female employees have been arrested and 17 others are being sought.  Those arrested have been arrested for prostitution and various other schemes.  Those arrested were providing "neo tantric" healing therapies for church members.  Those church practitioners would perform sex acts in exchange for monetary donations.  The church managed to generate "tens of thousands of dollars" a month.  My own church is lucky if it collects $10,000 in tithes in a single quarter!

Predictably, the Phoenix Goddess Temple employees are arguing that their neo tantric healing therapies aren't acts of prostitution, but instead religious acts.  Phoenix police dispute that:
"What's unusual is that they were trying to hide behind religion or church, and under the guise of religious freedom, they were committing acts of prostitution," (Sgt. Steve) Martos said. "We certainly respect First Amendment rights. However, religious freedom does not allow for criminal acts," Martos said.

Regarding the Goddess Temple's website, he said: "What they would talk about would seem to be religion. At the same time, they were implying or intimating that they were giving sex therapy." The website says at one point: "Sex is a holy, sacred and divine healing force at the core (of) our beings. Once we embrace this force instead of deny it, we become successful, happy and powerful manifestors." The website also features unclothed women, listed as residing in several states, under a "Goddesses" section.
Frankly, I see both sides. Looking at some of the materials, it looks like a brothel. Looking at most of the website and services and language, it looks like a church. Maybe not a Christian church; but not all religions are Christian and many of the religions that predate Christianity practiced stuff like this form of temple worship.

People in this country are quick to promote the religious liberties of others.  Some even go so far as to promote civil disobedience against laws that protect gay people and our families.  But usually they're only interested in protecting their own religious liberties.  The same Christians who want their rite protected won't think twice about ignoring denominations like my own United Church of Christ that actually support and honor both opposite- and same-sex families.

I'm not certain how legitimate Phoenix Goddess Temple is as an actual Goddess Temple as opposed to a closet brothel, but I want to learn if they're legit or not.  And, if they are, I want religious libertarians to stand up for this church and its practitioners.

GOP Presidential Candidate Banned from Tonight's Tea Party Debate

The Tea Party is hosting a presidential debate over on CNN.  It looks like -- judging from the CNN promo pic -- everyone has been invited to debate.  Except one particular GOP presidential candidate: Fred Karger.  Keep in mind that his poll numbers are just as good -- if not better -- than some of these other candidates:

Nero at Daycare -- 09/12/11

It's another fun day at doggy daycare for Nero today.  Check it out:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Ten Year Anniversary: Where Were You That Day?

I was visiting the IowaCityPatch website and came across the following post: Ten Years Since 9/11: Where Were You That Day?:
It's been 10 years since terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon. What do you remember about that fateful day?
I was driving to work that morning and listening to KCJJ radio.  They cut from their normal programming to listen to CNN coverage of what sounded initially to me to be the unfolding story of a small plane accidentally crashing into one of the World Trade Center towers.  I had visions of non-stop news coverage of an accident that affected a bunch of people in New York City, but otherwise meant little to the rest of the country.  Little did I know how right I could be while being so wrong.  I flipped off the radio and continued my short trip to work in silence.  Shortly after arriving to work and flipping the radio back on, I realized that a second plane had struck the other World Trade Center tower.  Then we learned that the Pentagon was hit.  Eventually, we learned of a crashed plane.

It was one of the least productive work days that I've ever experienced.  Everyone was focused on radio reports and scanning the Internet for updated information.  The President and the Vice-President were squirreled away safely.  Washington DC was closed down.  The sky was being cleared of all air traffic.  Occasionally, one would hear the sound of some military jet and even Air Force One up in the sky.  But otherwise the skies were clear.  Everything was uncertain.  We all just knew that we had been attacked by someone.  Were we going to war?  Against whom?  For how long?  Lots of questions and few answers on that day.

I remember my now-former-agency director frantically wondering if our office should be closed down due to potential attack.  I remember laughing and thinking about the 9/11 post-script: "Pentagon, World Trade Center, and Johnson County Social Services building attacked on this date".  We didn't close and the building managed to remain intact despite the uncertainty of the day.

I watched some of the news coverage on television when I got home that evening, but ultimately decided that it wasn't good for Leslie to sit around and watch that stuff.  We decided to get away from the TV that evening and go to the city pool.  We were the only ones there outside of the lifeguard.  To this day, I don't regret the decision to go swimming that night.

So that's where I was on 9/11.  How about you?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

By the Numbers

0 -- Number of gay people, Jews, or other non-Christians who will be employed at the newly christened Point of Grace Children's Academy in Waukee, Iowa.  The daycare -- located for years at Point of Grace Church -- used to be known as Happy Time Preschool & Daycare.  New management was hired, Happy Time was officially closed, and Point of Grace Children's Academy was born.  All of Happy Time's employees were told that they no longer had jobs and needed to re-apply for their old jobs.  In order to qualify for their old jobs, they needed to sign off on new "lifestyle agreements":
That lifestyle means regular attendance at a Christian church, no sex outside of marriage, no homosexual conduct, no viewing of pornography, no drug or alcohol use, and no vulgar language, according to the application posted on the church's website.
GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann recently spoke to the church and, according to the linked article, listened as the church's pastor, Jeff Mullen, preached against homosexuality as "unnatural" and  "immoral" and then showed off a video promoting ex-gay theology.  Contrary to popular anti-gay marriage theory, the police have not been pounding at Rev. Mullen's door demanding his arrest even though marriage equality is the law here in Iowa.  You heard correctly.  He managed to successfully preach against gay sexuality in a gay marriage state and still maintained his religious liberties.  Plus, his church managed to successfully disrupt the church's daycare and the employment status of at least one lesbian staff member.  Hallelujah.

2 -- Number of letters that led a North Carolina-based comic book store called The Comics Conspiracy to boycott the newly revamped hit comic book, Action Comics.  This comic featured Superman utterly "GD" while getting exploded upon.  The comic book owner felt that Superman's statement was a curse towards God and offended his Christian faith.  Action Comics writer Grant Morrison noted that The Comics Conspiracy was boycotting his book because of the "GD" word balloon, but continues to sell comic books like Avatar's Crossed, featuring bloody and violent anal rape scenes.  Morrison went on to note that Superman was not cursing God in that offending panel:
It should go without saying that the offending panel and caption, a mere ‘GD’, is a sound effect grunt – to suggest Superman’s breath being forced through gritted teeth – much like ‘DHH’, ‘GNUHH’ or the many others used throughout this book and in general in the comics business. It’s not in any way representative of God or a curse.
Following Morrison's responses to this controversy, The Comics Conspiracy officially lifted its boycott of Action Comics.  Maybe he should ask first and boycott second next time around.

4 -- Number of parts (plus an introduction) to Emergent Christian leader Tony Jones secular versus religious marriages.  I don't agree with the concept of getting government out of marriage, but it's an interesting read.

18 -- Age of the student who was forced by administrators at The Master's School, a K-12 Christian school in West Simsbury, CT, to withdraw from her senior year rather than being expelled.  Her crime?  The school had completed an investigation of several of the female students and discovered that this student is a lesbian. Her former coach responded to the incident with dismay:
"She texted me and said something like 'They kicked me out,' and I made a joke, 'What, are you pregnant?' and she said, 'No, worse. I'm gay,'" said Lodovico. The coach said she immediately got on the phone to see if the decision could be reversed, but no.
99 -- Percentage of counties in the United States of America that officially house same-sex couples.  And those are just the ones who reported themselves to the U.S. Census Bureau.  60% are female and 40% are male and 22% of all reported couples are raising children.

Johnson County Paranormal Team Interviewed by KCJJ Radio

I've written in the past about the Johnson County Paranormal Team.  The JCPT is our own local ghostly investigative organization.  They check out suspected ghostly manifestations and then report the results of those investigations at local forums and online. 

I recently learned that the JCPT appeared on KCJJ radio.  They discuss some of their recent investigations and show off some of their investigative tools.  Plus KCJJ personality and city council candidate Steve Soboroff shares some of his own paranormal encounters.  It's pretty interesting stuff and worth checking out:

Video streaming by Ustream

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Leslie at his Photo Shoot -- 09/08/11

Les is a high school senior.  It's hard to believe that my little monkey boy has transformed himself into a man.  There are two indicators that you have a high school senior.  First, the military recruiters call your home.  A lot.  Secondly, you get inundated with advertisements for professional photographers who want to take your kids' senior pictures.  Today was Leslie's senior picture day. 

It went a lot smoother than I thought it would.  I anticipated that he would get bored and shut down.  I feared that he would refuse to pose after we'd plunked down a bit of change to schedule his photo shoot.  I shouldn't have worried.  He was a pro (and a bit of a ham).  It ended up being a lot of fun.

I managed to snap one shot of my own with my phone camera.  It's not the best picture, but I was trying to not annoy the photographer too much.  You get the point, anyway.   Check it out:

Nero at Daycare -- 09/08/11

Nero had a great time at doggy daycare, though apparently he had to deal with a tennis ball thief.  Fortunately, he's not too territorial when it comes to toys.  There were lots of dogs to play with today.  Check it out:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Heterosexuality is like a Lock and Key

Heterosexual sex is like a key that unlocks the heart.  At least, that's the story being told by Rev. Johnny Hunter over in North Carolina at a Republican press event promoting a constitutional amendment to ban the legal recognition of gay families:
According to at least one of the speakers called to the podium by (Speaker Pro Tem Dale) Folwell, an anti-LGBT marriage amendment is necessary in North Carolina because homosexual acts violate biological rules. According to a Rev. Johnny Hunter, sexual acts between two people of the same gender are “immoral and unnatural.” Hunter explained that only heterosexual acts allow a marriage to be properly “consummated.” At one point, Hunter held up two locks (apparently as a symbol for two women) and banged them together to show that they were not designed for each other. He said the same would be the case for two keys – apparently in reference to two men.

Got that? According to a speaker promoted by one of the top officers in the North Carolina House of Representatives, marriage isn’t marriage unless it can be consummated through heterosexual intercourse...

One of the reverends explained that if 20 male couples (or 20 female couples) were isolated, Gilligan-like, on a desert island for 100 years, they would eventually die off but that if men and women were present, they would produce lots of offspring!
I have to break it to Rev. Hunter (and not to get graphic), but gay couples (at least those of the male variety) can usually find some sort of lock to unlock, even with an abundance of keys.  We might not repopulate an island in 100 years, but we'd have fun trying.  Plus, what's the likelihood of 20 male couples or 20 female couples getting stranded on an isolated island?