Saturday, November 30, 2013

Iowa UCC Pastor Indirectly Demonstrates to Readers That Churches Cannot Be Forced to Host Gay Weddings -- Even in Marriage Equality States!

(Pastor Matthew Hunt)
I discovered a recent article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about a pastor who recently started a "gay chapel" in Keokuk, IA. The article tells the tale of UCC Pastor Matt Hunt of St. Paul United Church of Christ who recently started a chapel in a former music store. Keokuk, IA, isn't terribly unique as Iowa communities go, but it straddles the borders of both Missouri and Illinois. That proximity has made Pastor Hunt's new wedding chapel appealing to same-sex couples from those two states who've made the decision to travel to nearby Iowa to make their marriages legal.

The article is primarily about the growing wedding opportunities for gay and lesbian couples now that more and more states allow legalized gay marriage. Instead of making the decision to travel to Keokuk or Des Moines or Iowa City, same-sex couples from surrounding states now have the opportunity to choose potentially glitzier options such as Chicago or Minneapolis. Obviously, people will choose destinations in Iowa -- especially those of us who live here or want to get married economically and/or around friends and family. But there are currently 16 other states to choose from, as well as Washington DC plus nearby Canada plus a few American Indian reservations for tribal members. In other words, Iowa-based gay wedding merchants shouldn't be surprised if they start seeing diminishing opportunities in coming months and years.

But what grabbed my attention initially with this article was the idea that we had an active UCC pastor who was marrying same-sex couples in a store-front chapel instead of at his own UCC congregation. This is what I learned:
Hunt has not overseen same-sex weddings at his UCC church, not wanting to run afoul with church leaders. He said not all are on board with same-sex marriage. Until he has the formal approval of those who hired him about two years ago, he will officiate off site.

He is convinced there is still a market for gay couples who want a place to hold a small ceremony officiated by a pastor, but outside of a traditional church environment. He knows many churches don’t approve of gay marriage and that some gays have left their churches feeling unaccepted. “I want to create a safe space, to make church relevant,” Hunt said. “Maybe that’s all they want. It’s a way for me to reach out.”
Another article about Pastor Hunt and his new wedding chapel indicates that his current UCC church is not comfortable with same-sex marriage and that he didn't want to make waves by dealing with the subject there. It wasn't until one of his congregants put some pressure on him that Pastor Hunt began officiating at gay weddings away from his church building.

I might not agree with these decisions, but it spells out what I've known to be true since marriage equality came to Iowa nearly five years ago: Churches don't have to do gay weddings and that's legally okay. In fact, Pastor Hunt could have gladly avoided any and all same-sex wedding ceremony and he would have been legally okay to do so.

Back in 2009 and 2010, I was working part-time as a secretary at my own UCC church. It didn't happen a lot, but we received several referrals from other UCC churches who objected to same-sex weddings. They referred these couples to us because it was known that we celebrated all of Iowa's families. These other churches weren't risking anything by refusing these weddings. It was and is within their right to refuse such weddings.

Just something to mull over next time you hear that pastors will be jailed and churches will be shuttered for opposing gay marriage in marriage equality states.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Oelwein, IA, Man Arrested//Accused of Wringing Necks of Kittens

(Sterling James Medina)
Bad news coming this week out of Sumner, IA. A 19-year-old man from Oelwein, IA, was arrested early this week after being accused by his stepmother of wringing the necks of four kittens and throwing them each against a garage wall:
(Sterling James) Medina is accused of killing four kittens by wringing their necks and throwing them against a garage wall, said Bremer County Sheriff Dan Pickett. He said the cats were pets of a relative who lives in the 2000 block Viking Avenue in rural Sumner...

Medina had been at his stepmother’s house Sunday as part of an early holiday visit, Pickett said. While she slept, he allegedly killed the kittens in the garage, leaving a blood stain when hitting them against the wall, authorities said.

Pickett said a witness saw the incident.
Medina was arrested and charged with four counts of animal abuse. He faces up to two years in prison for each of these criminal charges, if convicted. As of yesterday, he remained in custody at the Bremer County Jail pending a $4,000 bail.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!: Lil' Chief Versus the Big Fish!

Today is Thanksgiving Day. I decided to post an Archie Comics/MLJ-themed story to commemorate this day. American Indians are integral to the image of the original Thanksgiving Day meal, even through the image doesn't exactly represent the actual story. But I thought I would dig through the Digital Comic Museum and find an old story that reflected the spirit of Thanksgiving Day and the image of American Indians.

It turns out that MLJ didn't really publish many stories featuring American Indians. In fact, it doesn't even look like Archie Comics (the re-branded MLJ publishing company of today) has published many (if any!) characters who are American Indians. What I did find was a secondary character in the "Dotty & Ditto" stories named Dottum and a series of strips in PEP COMICS named after its title character: "Lil' Chief Bugaboo."

I actually enjoyed the "Lil' Chief Bugaboo" stories. The main character was clever, the stories were generally creative, and the artwork was pretty nice. But his name (which rarely appeared in the strip) is horrible and every member of his tribe speaks in this awful form of broken English (i.e., "Me not likum you. Me chasum you off-panel."). But if you got past the main character's name and the others' dialogue, you were treated to interesting stories about him trying to disguise his new pet mountain lion as a dog or him trying to outwit a romantic rival with a bear.

There were three stories primarily featuring Lil' Chief with the exclusion of his tribal members and their annoying vocal patterns. I picked out my favorite from the bunch (from PEP COMICS #43). It doesn't really reflect the spirit of Thanksgiving Day -- except that Lil' Chief is in the mood for an extra-large dinner. But it seems chuckle-worthy to me.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Illinois Lesbian Couple Holds State's First Same-Sex Wedding Six Months Early!!

Marriage isn't a reality yet for most same-sex couples in Illinois. But Vernita Gray and Pat Ewert were granted an emergency marriage license by a federal court earlier this week due to Ms. Gray's ongoing struggles with terminal cancer. The two women were wed in a private wedding ceremony at their home earlier today, making them the first Illinois same-sex couple to get legally married within that state!:
“Every day is crucial for same-sex couples like Vernita and Pat, who may not be able to and shouldn’t have to wait until next summer to get married,” said Camilla Taylor, Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal. “We’re thankful for the swift action by the court and the Cook County Clerk’s office to allow this to happen as soon as possible, and we’re beyond thrilled for Vernita and Pat, who are now able to say ‘We’re married.’”

Ms. Gray was first diagnosed with cancer in 1996. Despite years of treatment and therapy, the cancer now imminently threatens her life. As the couple struggles through this difficult time together, marriage allows the couple to celebrate their commitment to each other but also provide protection for Ms. Ewert.

“It’s a great day for Vernita and Pat, and an historic day for Illinois, for a deserving and loving couple to have the chance to be married on an expedited basis,” added John Knight, LGBT Project Director at the ACLU of Illinois. “Their love and commitment to each other has been demonstrated over time, and we’re thrilled they didn’t have to wait.”
The rest of Illinois' same-sex couples will be eligible for marriage effective June 1, 2014.

Bob Harper from "The Biggest Loser" Comes Out as Gay

Bob Harper, one of the weight loss coaches on NBC's The Biggest Loser, came out of the closet recently:
I haven’t talked about my sexuality on this show ever. And now, meeting Bobby, I really do believe this is the right time. I want to show Bobby that he doesn’t have to live in shame. When I came out, when I was 17 years old, it was one of those things where I realized that there was going to be so many obstacles, but being gay doesn’t mean being weak. And being gay doesn’t mean that you are less than anybody else. It’s just who you are.
I seriously thought that Harper was out before now.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Should Iowa Legalize Medical Marijuana?

My own Senator Joe Bolkcom sent out the following message:
Dr. Steven Jenison, is an Iowa native and a UI College of Medicine Distinguished Alumni, who helped create and lead the State of New Mexico’s medical cannabis program. He thinks Iowa could also create a legal, well-regulated way to help suffering Iowans get the help they need.

Dr. Jenison will hold a public speaking event on Monday December 2, 6:00-7:30 pm at the Des Moines Public Library, downtown, 1000 Grand Avenue.
A quick glance at Senator Bolkcom's Facebook page shows that he and Dr. Jenison are making the rounds this month to discuss the issue of marijuana legalization -- specifically the legalization of medical marijuana.

I'm conflicted about this topic. I have no problem with medical marijuana as a treatment for a handful of specific medical conditions. But I've seen certain states that have legalized medical marijuana for pretty much anything and everything. From the outside looking in, it looks like these prescriptions are potentially blank checks to get high off pot.

It's not a simple process to get certain types of medications -- such as Concerta and other form of Ritalin -- prescribed and refilled. It's my opinion that medical marijuana should be equally scrutinized in all level of assessment, prescription, and refilling. And it should be to treat specific ailments, such as certain cancers, seizure conditions, and glaucoma.

I also think that we need to get the federal government on board before legalizing medical marijuana in this state. What's the point in becoming a producer of this medicine if federal agents can swoop in and arrest you?

Check out the following video to learn more how this state could benefit from legalized medical marijuana:

Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Doctor Who" Turns 50!

I finished watching the 50th Anniversary special of "Doctor Who: Day of the Doctor" of BBC America. It was a great show filled with lots of tributes to this show, beginning with the opening credits -- pulled from the very first episode! We saw the 11th Doctor and Clara, plus the 10th Doctor and his wife Queen Elizabeth I (how many wives did he have??), plus Rose Tyler AKA the Big Bad Wolf, plus the previously unseen War Doctor, plus the Curator AKA the 4th Doctor (??) AKA Tom Baker, plus UNIT, plus the Zygons, plus the Apocalyptic Gallifreyan/Dalek Time War, etc... It was pretty good.

Here are my general take-aways:

1. Matt Smith and David Tennant were brilliant together. I've not been a huge fan of the current/soon-to-be-former Doctor, but these guys were very good with the banter.

2. John Hurt as the suppressed War Doctor was a great concept, but I can't help thinking that I would've preferred to see the role played by 9th Doctor Christopher Eccleston or by the 8th Doctor Paul McGann.

3. The Time War didn't end quite like we'd expected that it did -- so there's hope again for the return of the Time Lords and Gallifrey.

4. I'm really glad that I saw the 6-minute webisode "Night of the Doctor" last week. It showed the 8th Doctor's final moments and his regeneration into the War Doctor. It's great that we've seen Paul McGann's first and final adventure on screen. I just wish we had the opportunity to see more of the in-between time!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Virginia Bakery Ruins Anniversary Cake for Lesbian Couple

An online friend named Sarah posted a story within the online community that we both occasionally inhabit. She shared a disturbing story about a cake order that she placed for her anniversary and the bakery that appears to have messed it up on purpose for her:
I ordered an anniversary cake for Lindsey with the following instructions: "Make this cake (in the catalog) without the balloons. It should say, 'Happy Anniversary, Lindsey! Love, Sarah." The picture shows what I got instead. And it's chocolate. I intentionally ordered it as a carrot cake, Lindsey's favorite. I ordered the cake from a bakery in Virginia near my place of work instead of from a bakery in DC. Clearly, that was a huge mistake. I'm very upset about how this has turned out. I'd would have rather the bakery told me they couldn't serve me than to ruin the cake like this.
I later confirmed from her that she had paid for the cake in advance. She noted that the bakery owner gave her a refund for the cake and offered to make a new cake for her. She turned down that offer because she didn't waste the food. The bakery owner was apologetic about the sloppy cake, but not about the actual writing content.

Sarah posted the story for support on our shared online community and also on Facebook. Somebody from one of those sources shared her story with the Advocate, who posted this story. Several of the commenters are questioning the legitimacy of the story. But I've known Sarah (virtually) for at least a couple years. It really doesn't seem in her nature to create a fake story like this.

She has chosen to not identify the name of this business. She says that she would feel partly responsible if anybody retaliated against the bakery.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Native American Code Talker Ceremony Marred by Closed Captioning Error

Native American Code Talkers from 33 different American Indian tribes were honored yesterday and awarded Congressional Gold Medals for their service during World War I and World War II. Almost all of these code-talkers are currently deceased, but represented by family members and tribal leaders. Eight members of the Meskwaki tribe in Tama County, IA, were among those honored. Those present at the awards ceremony included House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Tom Cole, (R-OK), Ron Kind (D-WI), Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV); as well as 96-year-old code talker, Edmond Harjo.

But the ceremony was marred by a closed caption screen reading out to the entire audience. The closed captioning screen displayed the word "Alcoholic" during the medal presentation when listing out the tribal names.

It was a big enough problem that Speaker Boehner apologized afterwards through his press spokesman, Michael Steel:
Closed captioning services for all major congressional events are provided by a private company that has no affiliation with the House or Senate. Unfortunately, the individual transcribing today’s event apparently mis-heard the word “Choctaw.” The transcription company was given a list of the tribes before the ceremony, so this should not have happened, and we will make a full inquiry... Obviously, the Speaker deeply regrets this offensive error by the transcribing service.
Because "Choctaw" sounds remarkably like "Alcoholic"...

Iowa City Man Launches 2016 Presidential Campaign

(Michael Bray)
A man from Iowa City has launched a 2016 presidential exploratory committee and hosted his campaign's first public meet-and-greet last night at the Iowa City Public Library. This is the first political campaign for 63-year-old Michael Bray. It is unclear from news reports which political party he belongs to.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports that Bray believes that Americans want to elect a "regular guy" who will wake at 5:00 AM every morning and personally open up the doors of the White House to the general public. Very little is known about his campaign platform except that he plans to bring home all of our US soldiers and reunite them with their families.

It's been reported that his presidential plans were formed following a medical emergency. Bray reports that he nearly choked to death on some food, which led to him being hospitalized. While there, he had a bad reaction to some medications and nearly died a second time. Those near-death experiences were seen as a sign that God wants him to launch his present presidential campaign.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"Afterlife With Archie #2": The Dance of the Dead!

I finished reading AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #2 earlier this evening. Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and penciled by Francesco Francavilla, it tells the story of the end of the world -- staring in Riverdale USA. Here's the background: Reggie secretly killed Hot Dog with his car. A distraught Jughead sought the misguided help of the teenage witch Sabrina. Hot Dog came back from the dead and bit Juggie. Jughead became sick, died, and came back from the dead. Now he's creating an army of the undead on the night of Riverdale High's big dance. It's not pretty...

We received confirmation that some of the more ambiguous victims from last issue did indeed get killed by Jughead. His father shows up as a zombie in this issue. So does Ms. Grundy. I'm assuming that Mrs. Jones is also a zombie -- unless she's hiding somewhere with poor little Jellybean Jones!

AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #2 featured the death and zombie resurrection of one well-known Riverdale teen: Big Ethel. It wasn't a pleasant death for Jughead's favorite stalker. Otherwise, lots of nameless teens got bitten by Ethel, Ms. Grundy, and the 'Bee.

There were a couple interesting plot-points that were begun in this issue that promise to be revisited in subsequent issues:

*Brotherly/Sisterly Love... or Lust?: Cheryl and Jason Blossom showed up at the very beginning of the apocalypse. They were just late enough to get warned off by a bloody teen in a Tom Baker "Doctor Who" costume. But there was a crazy incest subtext in this issue. Maybe I read too much into their interaction, but I've seen others make that connection too:

*Same-Sex Teen Love: Remember when I wrote about the various same-sex couplings that were possible in the "Archie: Riverdale Rescue" iOS gaming app? And remember when I suggested that it would be fun to see some of those relationships play out in an actual Archie Comics comic book? I was hoping for Kevin and Jason, which we didn't get here. But we did get another potential "Riverdale Rescue" couple. See if you can guess from this image:

That's right, Nancy Woods and Ginger Lopez (not Ginger Snapp!!) have been secretly dating -- at least in this storyline. These girls aren't out about their relationship and that's starting to create a wedge, as evidenced by this fight. Apparently, Nancy isn't a big fan of Riverdale's other gay teen: Kevin Keller!:

I'm not sure where this relationship is heading, but the shadow in the background could translate into a short-lived romance!

*Who's Next??: A group of students manage to escape from Riverdale High without getting infected. They have taken refuge in Lodge Mansion, but one of those kids has secretly been infected. The big question: Who? Archie? Veronica? Betty? Moose? Midge? Dilton? Chuck? Reggie? Or Kevin??

I'm personally leaning towards Moose or Betty. Besides Archie (who I don't see getting infected this early in the series), Moose is the only survivor who's been in physical contact with Jughead the zombie. And Betty was in contact with Ethel right when she resurrected. So those are my official guesses.

Who do you think will become infected next? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Share them in the comments section!

Iowa City Earns 90 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index!

Iowa City scored 90 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index. The HRC looked at 291 cities across the county and looked a variety of factors in order to come up with their scores.

I went to the HRC Municipal Equality Index to see how Iowa City earned its 90% scoring. Check this out:

It looks like they have a scoring system that looks not only at each city, but also the local county and state. Iowa City scored 18 out of 18 when it comes to Non-Discrimination Laws. It scored 12 out of 12 when it comes to Relationship Recognition. It scored 26 out of 26 when it comes to Municipality as Employer. Iowa City scored 18 out of 18 when it comes to Municipal Services. We stumbled a bit when it comes to Law Enforcement issues: 10 out of 18. We also struggled when it comes to Relationship with the LGBT Community: 0 out of 8.(!!)

That last one confuses me. We lost points for "Leadership's Public Position on LGBT Equality" and for "Leadership's Pro-Equality Legislative or Policy Efforts." Both our city and our county leadership are quite LGBT-friendly and have been quite vocal with their support for all Iowans, including LGBT-proclamations, policies, and public advocacy. Plus we boast several gay and lesbian politicians. So I'm not sure how we got such a low score.

Either way, we earned a total score of 84 (plus 6 bonus points!!), which brought us up to 90 points out of a potential 100 total points.

In contrast, nearby Cedar Rapids, IA, earned a score of 63, Davenport, IA, earned a score of 90, and Des Moines, IA, earned a score of 88.

Missouri Will Allow Married Gay Couples to File Joint Tax Returns! // Updated on 11/20/13: Missouri Lawmaker to Lead Impeachment Charge Against Gov. Nixon!

(Gov. Jay Nixon)
(Originally written on 11/14/13): Missouri has officially been a marriage inequality state since 2004, when it passed an amendment to its state constitution to ban same-sex marriages. Over the years, a series of gay and lesbian couples from Missouri have regularly traveled up to Iowa City to get legally married and then turn around and head back to a state that doesn't recognize its marriages (I wrote about it here and here, as well as this time when they came to my own church!). In fact, the Marriage Equality Bus was just in Iowa City again a few weeks ago!

Earlier today, Governor Jay Nixon (D) officially came out in support of legalizing same-sex marriage in Missouri and issued an executive order allowing the state limited recognition of legal gay marriages from other states (such as Iowa) where they are legal -- at least for joint tax purposes:
In an executive order, Nixon directed the Department of Revenue to accept the combined returns as a reaction to the June ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. That law barred same sex couples who were legally married from receiving any marriage-based federal benefits, such as tax exemptions and Social Security payments.

Under state law, couples who file a joint federal return are required to file a combined state tax return. The executive order clarifies that the law applies to all couples, Nixon said.

The executive order does not alter state restrictions on same-sex marriages, Nixon said. Those marriages are banned under the Missouri Constitution. “This is not about the definition of marriage, this is about the structure of our tax code and Missouri law, which is clear,” Nixon said.
Of course, joint tax returns can be a mixed blessing! But congratulations on this small win, Missouri!

Updated on 11/20/13: Representative Nick Marshall (R) of Parkville, MO, has announced plans to seeks articles of impeachment against Gov. Jay Nixon. Last week, Gov. Nixon issued an executive order allowing married same-sex couples to file joint tax returns.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Methodist Minister Convicted by Church Jury for Officiating Gay Son's Wedding // He's Told to Spend the Next 30 Days Re-Thinking His Pro-Gay-Son Views!

I grew up in the United Methodist Church, but left it for a more affirming worship space nearly two decades ago. But I still attend worship occasionally at my home church and I still follow UMC news from time to time. I have been following a sad story involving a Methodist minister who recently found himself in trouble with his denomination over a 2007 wedding ceremony involving his son and his new son-in-law.

Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, PA, almost got away with it. His son was getting married in Massachusetts in 2007 and asked his father to officiate at his gay wedding. Rev. Schaefer agreed and life went on. Then earlier this year -- one month short of the six-year statute of limitations for filing such complaints -- a member of his congregation formally complained about the wedding. I learned today that the congregant's mother used to be the church's organist, but she got fired for some unspecified reason shortly before the complaint was filed. This all led to a church trial and Rev. Schaefer is being accused of disobeying the Methodist Book of Discipline.

I understand that Rev. Schaefer was told that this trial could have been avoided had he agreed to stay away from future same-sex wedding ceremonies. He declined because three of his four kids are gay!

The sad trial went as expected. Rev. Schaefer was unapologetic about officiating at his son's wedding. He didn't make a big deal out of it because he wasn't seeking to become an activist. He was just officiating at his son's wedding.

The prosecutors (because apparently the United Methodist Church has prosecutors) was quite heavy handed. The UMC likes to brag about "Open Hands, Open Heart," but the church's lawyer told us what they really think of LGBT people:

Long story short, Rev. Schaefer was convicted of breaking church law because he officiated his son's wedding six years ago.

The sentencing phase of the trial was held today. The verdict was finally issued within the past hour. Rev. Schaefer was ordered by the church jury to be suspended from ministerial duties for the next 30 days. During those 30 days, he "must take time to prayerfully discern new calling to LGBT persons" and he must meet with the Board of Ordained Ministry. If after 30 days Rev. Schaefer cannot agree to follow the Methodist Book of Discipline 100% (including and especially staying away from potential same-sex weddings in the future), he will be stripped permanently of his ministerial orders.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Toronto City Council Strips Mayor Rob Ford of Some of his Political Powers // Updated on 11/18/13: Most of Mayor Ford's Powers Stripped Today... Plus He Knocks Over an Old Lady -- Literally!

(Originally written on 11/15/13): If it seems like I just wrote about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford twelve hours ago, that's because it was. He has been struggling with police and ethics investigations over illegal drug abuse and erratic behaviors. You can read more about this mess here.

Earlier today, Toronto's City Council voted 39-3 to strip Mayor Ford of several of his responsibilities, chiefly his authority of appoint and dismiss the deputy mayor and his executive committee. The executive committee runs the city's budget process.

Mayor Ford has stated that he will challenge this decision in court.

Updated on 11/18/13: Toronto's City Council went through a series of votes to remove much of Mayor Rob Ford's remaining powers and staff and passed those over to the city's deputy mayor. Mayor Ford still has some responsibilities, but very few. He continues to resist calls from his resignation and even aspired to become Prime Minister someday during a Fox News interview that I overheard today!

The City Council meeting got pretty crazy. Mayor Ford thought that someone was fighting his brother (who apparently is on the City Council). So he raced over to defend his brother -- and managed to knock over an older City Councilor in the process! Check this out:

CNN World reports that Councilor Pam McConnell suffered a fat lip, but apparently is doing okay.

Nero and the Hand Turkey!

My office occasionally does fun things. A week or so ago, a group of co-workers decided to sponsor a Thanksgiving Day-themed potluck (scheduled for the 20th of November). But they also decided to sponsor a contest -- a Hand Turkey contest!

Folks are being encouraged to create a Hand Turkey and to hang it on their door. At some point on Wednesday, those of us who've created a Hand Turkey will be judged and the 1st and 2nd prize winners will be awarded a mystery prize.

This is what I created for my door yesterday afternoon:

It's a combination of photograph and sliced-up construction paper!

It is possible that I will win, but I was quite surprised by the creativity of some of my co-workers! So, who knows??

If you were curious what's hidden beneath that sliced-up Hand Turkey, it's an old Alf puppet! Here are some of the pics I took of Nero in my search for the perfect-enough pic!


Sunday, November 17, 2013

How Much Longer Can the Walker Plague in "The Walking Dead" Last?

This math-guy ran the numbers on "The Walking Dead" (both the comic book and the television program) and determined that the walker plague should be largely under control by now -- if not completely finished. Here's how it works:

There are roughly 300 million people in the USA right now. Let's assume that 99% of the US population is dead and transformed into undead walkers. That still leaves roughly 3 million human survivors scattered across the USA in small groups of 15-20 people -- not unlike Rick and his group hiding out at the prison. Math-guy ran some more numbers and figured out that there could be as many as 150,000 camps spread throughout the country.

Now let's assume that each human survivor dispatches an average of 10 walkers every month -- keeping in mind that some of these survivors are kids, old folk, and otherwise defenseless individuals. But let's assume that it averages out that way. That means that roughly 200 walkers on average are being killed by each survivor group every month. That means that roughly 2,400 walkers are being killed each year by human survivors. 2,400 destroyed walkers multiplied y 150,000 groups equals 360 million dead walkers.

Now given that walkers aren't having sex and creating baby walkers, the numbers indicate that all of the walkers should be wiped out by sheer attrition within a year. Additionally, both the comic book and the television series are pretty much in the second year of each incarnation, so it is unlikely that the walker plague should still exist -- at least not to the degree that we're seeing in this current season!

Of course, I already mentioned that there are some survivors who are incapable of successfully fighting back against the walkers without the help of others. Also, there are areas of the country where walker populations are going to exceed the ability of survivors to fight back -- I'm thinking of major cities such as New York and Chicago and Miami, etc...

But there is another factor that would appear to work in the favor of human survivors -- especially here in the USA. There are tons of weapons and bullets in this country. I can see groups and portions of the government hording those weapons, but I would imagine that we would eventually establish sniper bases to successfully reduce walker populations.

And, of course, there is the constant rotting that can't be too helpful for the walkers!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Betty & Veronica #268": Reggiestiltskin!

I'm long overdue for reviewing BETTY & VERONICA #268. It's the final chapter in a series of stories adapting familiar fairy tales. This latest story adapted the story of Rumplestiltskin.

Betty and Veronica are two peasant girls who fall in love with Archie, who plays the part of a prince. Cheryl Blossom is an evil princess who wants to get rid of her two new rivals so she locks Betty and Veronica in a dungeon with instructions that they can go back home as soon as they spin straw into gold. B&V manage to accomplish this impossible task (twice!) with the help of a magical troll named Reggiestiltskin. Our little troll later tries tricking the girls into guessing his name. If they guess correctly, they get to escape. If they guess incorrectly, they become his brides! Fortunately -- with the help of three Pussycat fairies! --, our heroines correctly guess Reggiestiltskin's name and the two escape from their prison cells!

Now that it's over, I have to admit that this whole "Fairy Tale Princess" series kind of grew on me! I didn't enjoy the first couple, but I've really enjoyed the last three! "Reggiestiltskin" was particularly fun -- if only for the final two pages! I was really tempted to share them, but I'm trying to cut back on spoilers!

Of course, how many fairy tales -- particularly those featuring young girls -- are there to adapt? I'm sure there are many, but I think Archie Comics needs to take a breather for now and get the girls back into Riverdale!

That said, this story inspired a potential future comic book featuring Little Reggie and his two poly-wives: LIFE WITH REGGIESTILTSKIN! Think "Little People, Big World" meets "Sister Wives" meets "Once Upon A Time"! I would be all over that comic book!

Iowa Cheesehead!

Former GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan came to Iowa today to celebrate Governor Terry Branstad's birthday. You can read about it here, but basically he believes that Iowans would have voted against President Barack Obama in 2012 if we'd suspected that people couldn't keep their junk health care policies due to noncompliance with the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare. Oh, and he hinted that he's going to be visiting Iowa lots more in anticipation of the 2016 presidential campaign!

But I didn't post about that! I posted about this great pic of Paul Ryan and Terry Branstad carrying a hunk of plastic cheese with Branstad's face etched on it! Check this out:

The only thing that would make this better is if Branstad wore it as one of those cheesehead hats! I love it!

Representative Michele Bachmann: "I Lost My Health Insurance Under Obamacare" -- Presumably Because of Senator Charles Grassley!

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota appeared on CNN and revealed that she lost her family's health insurance because of Obamacare. She complained that her husband Marcus has health concerns that need to be covered and now her family has to waste time shopping for health care plans:
When asked by (Wolf) Blitzer if she’s going to sign up for the exchanges, Bachmann first said, “Are you kidding? I’m not gonna waste an hour on that thing!” before telling him “I lost my health insurance under Obamacare.”

She said her husband has some personal health issues and they need insurance, at which point (Paul) Begala jumped in to say, “And now you can’t be denied! Thanks, Barack Obama!” Bachmann shot back, “We were just fine before.”

She explained to Blitzer that “we are forced to go on the website and purchase the health insurance plan from the D.C. health exchange.” And while she’s going to do it eventually, Bachmann said she doesn’t want to waste her “time and frustration” on a website that doesn’t even work yet.
Of course, the reason Bachmann and other members of Congress have to navigate Obamacare's health care exchanges is because of a bill amendment introduced by Iowa's Senator Chuck Grassley:
If Bachmann had government employee insurance (her office did not respond to requests for comment), she is losing it because of Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley's amendment to Obamacare. The Grassley amendment requires all members of Congress and their staffs buy into the exchanges, supposedly so that Congress has a personal stake in the efficacy of the health care law. Grassley proposed the amendment in 2010 as a challenge to Democrats, but it ended up passing with bipartisan support. Issues surrounding the amendment were a major focus of the shutdown negotiations — Sens. David Vitter and Ted Cruz tried to pass an amendment that would remove employer contributions to congressional staff health care, as a way to undermine the health care law.
Bachmann has a month to figure out what plans work best for her family's needs. The ACA computer glitches are slowly being finessed so hopefully they'll have a successful enrollment encounter when they finally make the plunge.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford: I Only Use Crack During Drunken Stupors & I Get Enough Pu$$y From My Wife!

I have to admit that I can't get enough these days of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. There have been rumors for weeks about a secret video showing the tough-on-drugs politician smoking crack cocaine, but he denied those rumors until recently when the police actually obtained the video and began investigating. He's admitted that it's him, that he used crack a year ago during a "drunken stupor," and has continually rebuffed calls for his resignation.

But his latest blow-up-in-front-of-the-press is the greatest. He chose to react to news reports of former staffers cooperating with the police in front of the media. The rest is gold:
It hurts my wife when they call a friend of mine a prostitute. Alana is not a prostitute. She's a friend. And it makes me sick how people are saying this. So unfortunately, I have no other choice. I'm the last one to take legal action, I can't put up with it anymore. So I've named the names. Litigation will be starting shortly. I've had enough. That's why I warned you guys yesterday be careful what you wrote. That's all I have to say for now. And the next thing I want to call Mayor Bratina in Hamilton and tell them we are going to have to spank their little tiger cats. Oh and the last thing was Olivia Gondek, it says it says that I wanted to eat her pussy. Olivia Gondek. I've never said that in my life to her. I would never do that. I'm happily married. I've got more than enough to eat at home. Thank you very much.
Subsequent reports showed members of the Toronto City Council denouncing Mayor Ford's latest outbursts. They even turned their collective backs to him during yesterday's council meeting. Mayor Ford was forced to do another press conference later in the day and apologize for the remarks quoted above.

This could totally be a storyline in Degrassi. One of the kids becomes a political intern and ends up sharing a line of cocaine with the mayor.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gay Marriage in America

I found an updated map of the USA -- post Hawaii becoming a marriage equality state. Technically, this isn't accurate until 06/01/13 when New Jersey's law goes into effect -- assuming there are no additional marriage equality states before then! Check it out:


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Is "Redskins" Truly a Term of Respect towards American Indians?

I wrote earlier about the use of Native American caricatures as sports mascots and about the long-brewing controversy over the name of the Washington Redskins (here). The big thing that I often hear is that it's a sign of respect and honor when sports teams make mascots out of American Indians.

I read the following article on Indian Country earlier this evening and it shares a 1863 clipping from The Daily Republican out of Winona, MN and pretty bluntly demonstrates the historical truth behind the term "redskin":

This was posted on Facbook by Dallas Goldtooth. The 1863 clipping reads:
The State reward for dead Indians has been increased to $200 for every red-skin sent to Purgatory. This sum is more than the dead bodies of all the Indians east of the Red River are worth.
Dallas posted the following commentary next to the 1863 clipping:
It was only 5 generations ago that a white man could get money for one of my grandfather's scalps.

At the time... it was Redskin that was used to describe us.

So to those who fail to understand the significance of this whole mascot debate, think deeper about the word legacy. Is the legacy of racism, death, and plunder worth keeping?

And to my fellow native people who remain unmoved on the issue of mascots and racist imagery, remember that at one time we were hunted for our skin.

And yes there are other important issues out there that we have to handle. But stop being scared of multitasking. The threat that faces our people's future is a multifaceted beast, so it follows that our response(s) should be just as multifaceted.
Please read the article here. It's sadly interesting to read some of the responses he has received.

Will Hawaii Become Marriage Equality State #16?? // Updated on 11/12/13: Amended Bill Passed in the Hawaii Senate! // Updated on 11/13/13: Hawaii Same-Sex Marriage Bill Signed Into Law Today!!

(Originally written on 11/09/13): I haven't written at all about the same-sex marriage effort in Hawaii, but that state (which arguably kicked off the modern marriage equality effort, as well as years of DOMA laws to fight back against same-sex marriages) is on the fast track to becoming the next marriage equality state!

Back on October 30th, the Hawaii Senate passed a marriage equality bill on a 20-4 margin. A House committee in Hawaii listened to five days worth of testimony in favor of and opposed to marriage equality. Several conservative faith communities came together to hold a "people's filibuster," but that eventually ended. Frankly, I avoided the whole mess. I didn't need to listen to their paranoia about how their religious rights would be supposedly trampled over by my marital rights.

For most of the week, the Hawaii House has held a series of three sessions to vote for or against marriage equality. Last night's session went on forever. I was among those watching it unfold online and live-tweeting my reactions. It was actually a lot of fun listening to the stalling tactics of those introducing 29 separate amendments to the marriage equality bill. Finally, under the influence of NyQuil, I succumbed to slumber. But I woke to good news. The Hawaii House finally passed the marriage equality bill on a 30-19 margin.

This bill now has to return to the Hawaii Senate to reconcile a few amendments, but it's expected to easily pass the Senate again. Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie has vowed to sign this bill into law.

Hawaii is one of those civil union states. Existing civil unions will transform into marriages, but I think those couples need to do something to jump start that transformation.

If passed, this bill will go into effect on 12/02/13. Considering that Illinois' marriage equality law doesn't go into effect until 06/01/14, does that make Hawaii state #16 or #15? That was one of the questions that we debated online last night. I'm not quite sure we came to consensus.

Very exciting news!

Updated on 11/12/13: Good news! The Hawaii Senate reviewed the amended same-sex marriage bill that the Hawaii House passed this past Friday night. As anticipated, the Hawaii Senate passed the amended marriage bill on a 19-4 margin earlier today!

I read somewhere (but suggested here) that Gov. Abercrombie plans to sign the bill into law tomorrow morning!

Updated on 11/13/13: Extra good news! Governor Neil Abercrombie signed Hawaii's new same-sex marriage bill into law earlier today!!

Same-sex marriage will be officially recognized effective 12/02/13!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"Archie: Riverdale Rescue": Endless Tasks for Archie, but Not Enough Work for the Others!!

I began writing last month about the new "Archie: Riverdale Rescue" iOS gaming app. It's an oddly addictive game where you are tasked with the improvement and beautification of Riverdale USA using a variety of recognizable characters, such as Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica. A big part of the game also involves building emotional bonds between the various characters, leading to romantic couples, BFFs, and overall friends. I thought it would be fun to discuss aspects of the game that I find exciting, disappointing, and/or note-worthy.

I want to write about one aspect of the "Riverdale Rescue" game that really bugs me! Characters are continuously assigned a variety of tasks aimed at improving property, building emotions bonds, and rebuilding Riverdale. Ideally, Archie is assigned to one task, while Reggie and Jughead are assigned to another tasks, Betty and Veronica have another task, and Mr. Weatherbee has another task. Players then figure out ways to keep the rest of the characters occupied.

This is the task that Archie and Jughead are currently working on right now on my "Riverdale Rescue" game:

There are several other active tasks right now. Let's look at the majority of them:

Notice a trend? Let me spell it out: All of these active tasks involve Archie and/or Archie's home, making it impossible for me to quickly complete a variety of tasks. Even more frustratingly, it's likely that I will finish the task at the top of this list later this evening only to find it replaced by a new task involving Archie and/or his house!!

Let's look at most of the rest of the current tasks on my "Riverdale Rescue" game:

That is correct. Most of the remaining tasks involve Veronica!

For the record, one additional task involves Jughead and Betty and a final task involves Raj Patel's home.

I don't mind being placed in the position of prioritizing a couple tasks involving one character or the other, but it gets really frustrating when most everything involves one or two characters. Eventually this should iron itself out. We will begin seeing tasks involving more of the secondary and tertiary characters.

But, at the moment, it's driving me batty!!