Saturday, June 29, 2013

Johnson County Supervisors Approve Resolution on Public Restrooms and Transgender People

I have written a few times (here and here) about a trans woman who sued Johnson County, Iowa, over a situation where she had been denied access to a public bathroom at the Johnson County Courthouse by a now-retired deputy. Jodie Jones was followed into the public restroom and told to leave. When Jones pointed out that state law allowed her the right to use the restroom that conformed to her current gender, not specifically her birth gender. The deputy continued to deny Jones access to the restroom "regardless of what the law is." Jones sued and Johnson County's Board of Supervisors eventually settled out of court with her earlier this month.

As part of the settlement, Johnson County agreed to pay Jones $7,000 in damages. They also agreed to pass a resolution clarifying that public restrooms in county buildings are open to people based on their gender identity.

I learned today that the Board of Supervisors approved the following resolution earlier this week:
Resolution Setting Forth Johnson County's Policy Regarding Access to Public Restrooms Based on Gender Identity

Whereas, Iowa law prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in regard to employment, housing, education, credit practices and public accommodations; and

Whereas, Iowa Code Section 216.2 (10) defines gender identity as "a gender-related identity of a person, regardless of the person's assigned sex at birth"; and

Whereas, Johnson County acknowledges that public restroom facilities located in Johnson County's buildings are public accommodations for the purposes of the protections provided by Iowa law; and

Whereas, persons should be allowed to access gender specific restroom facilities according to their gender identity regardless of whether the person's gender identity is different that their assigned sex at birth.

Therefore Be It Resolved that it is the policy of Johnson County that all persons should be permitted to access public restrooms located in Johnson County's buildings based on their gender identity regardless of whether that gender identity is different than a person's assigned sex at birth.
KCJJ reports that county deputies will be required to receive new training on civil rights matters as part of this plea agreement.

Friday, June 28, 2013

D'Angelo at Scattergood Friends School -- 06/17/13

My youngest son just finished his second/final week at Scattergood Friends School's Spanish Language & Culture Camp. Scattergood Friends School is a nearby college-prep boarding school for high school students. It's affiliated with the Quakers and it has a very good reputation.

D'Angelo didn't participate in the residential camp, but instead traveled to and from the program every day. I was a little worried that he wouldn't like it, but he got along really well with the other students, as well as the instructors. He enjoyed most of the activities and learned some basic Spanish speaking skills. He also liked that he had more freedom with some of his free time and was generally trusted to make good decisions.

One of the camp counselors decided to start a camp blog early on in the program. She apparently wasn't able to maintain it after the first couple days, but it was still neat to see the student during some of their early activities. You can see the blog here. D'Angelo showed up on the second blog entry working on a weaving project. He ended up with a nice coaster, which we plan on giving to my mother later this summer. Check out this pic of him weaving:


I've written about Scattergood Friends School once before (here). I wrote earlier that I would love for D' to become a student at Scattergood Friends School some day, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. Tuition currently ranges from $17,000-28,000 annually depending on whether or not students are commuting to the school or if they are boarding. Either way, that's the price of a car-plus every year. I'm sure we would qualify for some sort of financial assistance, but we would still be spending thousands annually for him to attend. But it doesn't hurt to dream (and maybe scheme), eh?

Getting Ready for Trek Fest 2013: "I Mudd"

(Originally written on 06/15/13): I have written before about Trek Fest, over in nearby Riverside, IA. Trek Fest is a celebration of the official future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk. In past years, they have pulled in actors from the original Star Trek television series, but most years it's an excuse to have a lot of fun with a bit of a small town science fiction flavor. I'm not sure that we will get to attend Trek Fest XXIX later this month due to some family obligations, but I thought it would be good to share some of this year's activities with a strong recommendation that you check out the festivities.

Trek Fest XXIX will be held at the end of this month: June 28 and 29, 2013. It's theme? "I Mudd." The t-shirt design is posted on this post and I really like it! I have plans to take Husband Mark to the Trek Fest Museum tomorrow afternoon for Father's Day and am hoping that they have shirts with that design available for sale.

Here is a schedule of some of the highlights from this year's Trek Fest:
Friday, June 28, 2013

6:30 PM -- Kids Parade with the theme "I Mudd"! Line-Up on River Street and finish at Hall Park.

7:00 PM -- Pet Show with the theme "I Mudd"! Located at Hall Park. Prizes will be awarded for the following themes:
1. Warp 7 Recall Races - pet with the fastest recall to its owner wins!
2. Escape from the Andromeda Galaxy - run your pet through a short obstacle course. Fastest pet wins!
3. Famous person look-a-like - who does your pet look like. Most original and best look-a-like wins!
4. Dress for success - costume contest. A class to judge the pet and or handler on their entertaining attire. (Please note that any costume which restricts the animal's normal range of motion, causes discomfort, or creates a hazard and will not be allowed.)
5. Tricky, tricky pet - It doesn't even have to be outrageous. Show off your pet's talent-at anything.

6. Little things matter - smallest pet wins!
7. Really huge award - size does matter -biggest pet wins this category.

8. Crowd favorite - the most popular pet wins this prize!

7:00 PM -- Star Trek Trivia!! at the Railroad Park Pavilion **

7:30 PM -- Demolition Derby!! Located at the Southeast Corner of Hall Park. $10 admission for adults and free to children ages 12 and under! **

9:00 PM -- Dusk Sky-Watching with the Cedar Amateur Astronomers, Inc. at the Riverside Elementary School.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

8:00 AM -- Volleyball Tournament. This is a team event and pre-registration/payment of entry fee is required.

10:00 AM -- Parade with the theme "I Mudd"!

11:00 AM - 2:00 PM -- "Show and Shine" judging event at Railroad Park.
12:00 - 5:00 PM -- Free showings of episodes of Star Trek and Invasion Iowa in the Red Barn at Hall Park.

12:00 PM -- Federation Games location near the tennis courts on Hall Park. These games are for children 12 and under. Medals will be awarded for children participating in the following competitions: Edosian Race (three-legged race); Tribble Wack; Star Trek Piñatas; Horta Egg toss; and Pin the Lobes on the "Ferengi"!

12:15 PM -- Costume Contest at the Main Stage at Hall Park. Cash prizes for both adults and children will be awarded under three separate categories:
1. "Federation;"
2. "Supporting Cast;" and...
3. "Miscellaneous Sci-Fi"!

1:30 PM -- Lone Tree Garden Tractor PULLERS located at Red Barn at Hall Park.

2:30 PM -- The Bill Riley State Fair Talent Show located at the Main Stage at Hall Park.

3:00 PM -- Golf Cart Rodeo located at the Main Stage at Hall Park.

10:00 PM -- Fireworks located at Hall Park.

Scattered throughout the schedule are a variety of great music groups.
** I almost never make it to the Saturday events, though I usually have good intentions. We just get distracted by family and life events. But I have thoroughly enjoyed the Friday night demolition derbies and Star Trek trivia contests in past years. The boys keep trying their hardest to get me to compete in the trivia contests, but I always chicken out. Who knows? Maybe this year I'll actually enter the competition!!!

Updated on 06/28/13: Bump!

Don't forget about this weekend's Trek Fest XXIX celebration!

Iowa Senator: Gay Marriage Is Bad Because More People Might Get Insured!! // Update: Sen. Greiner Retiring

(Greiner)
(Originally written on 06/27/13): You might have forgotten, but the U.S. Supreme Court issued rulings on Section 3 of DOMA and Proposition 8 yesterday. That led to several rallies across the country (including here in Iowa City). Not only that, but it seems like every politician is being asked their opinion on the subject.

Case in point?

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa): "I am glad..."

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa): "It doesn't make much difference what my feelings are."

U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa): "I am disappointed..."

But this blog post is really about Iowa Senator Sandy Greiner (R) of Keota, IA. Part of her senate district included part of my own Johnson County, but she's not my state senator. I've written about her once before. That was back in February 2013 when she and 17 other Senate Republicans sponsored an unsuccessful resolution to constitutionally ban Iowa's gay families.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen reached out to her to get her opinion of the DOMA decision. According to the PC, Greiner is unsure about whether or not she will sponsor another anti-gay constitutional amendment, citing tepid public support for that type of resolution. But she still doesn't like same-sex marriage... because same-sex marriage leads to more insured Iowans!:
Greiner stands by her position that expanding gay marriage is increasing health care costs by extending benefits to more partners. “We’re just adding to the pool of people, and that has been my contention all along. I hate to say I was prophetic, but I was,” she said.
What does Sen. Greiner have against insured Iowans? Or is it just insured gay Iowans that she has a problem with?

I mean, if I hypothetically married a woman instead of Husband Mark and placed her on my family insurance plan (keeping in mind that Husband Mark has his own insurance and hasn't been included on my health insurance in years), would Sen. Greiner still be concerned about one more person receiving health insurance? Probably not.

I never hear people complaining about people like me placing my children on my health insurance plan. They usually just have a problem with the idea of placing my husband on my health insurance plan. Why is that?

And where does she get the idea that it costs more to have more Iowans insured? It's not like it's free for me or pretty much anyone else to insure our family members. Would she rather people go to the Free Medical Center or the local emergency room for our health care needs? Doesn't that drive up costs?

Updated on 06/28/13: Speaking of Sen. Sandy Greiner, I just learned from the Bleeding Heartland blog that she is retiring from the Iowa Senate next year. Will the Democrats be able to win her senate seat? There are slightly more Republicans than Democrats in that district, but also a good chunk of unaffiliated voters.
(Iowa Senate District 39 -- Sen. Greiner's District)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Local Businesses Known for Selling Synthetic Drugs Raided Earlier Today

(source)
Very good news. Local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies teamed up today to raid businesses in Iowa City and nearby Cedar Rapids. These three businesses are fairly well known locally for selling synthetic drugs. The two businesses in Iowa City were The Den and In-Zone and the two business in Cedar Rapids was YR Dollar Stop Liquor & Tobacco.

According to Iowa City Patch, this was part of a nationwide effort to address this growing epidemic. 150 federal arrest warrants and 375 federal search warrants were served today in 35 states, 49 cities, and five countries. The Drug Enforcement Administration reportedly arrested and/or investigated retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers of these synthetic drugs.

I have written a few times recently about synthetic drugs, such as when Iowans Against Synthetics protested outside The Den back in April 2013 for selling synthetic drugs to adults and children.

And then there was the time back in May 2013 when I shared information indicating that Iowa City has become the top supplier of Synthetic Drugs in Eastern Iowa.

Lastly, I shared a powerful video by this young man who described his addiction to spice (AKA one particular brand of synthetic drug) and the symptoms that he experienced while using them.

"Speak Out for Marriage Equality" Rally at Pentacrest in Iowa City Tonight at 6 PM! // Update: What Happened at the Rally?

It is expected that the U.S. Supreme Court will finally release it's ruling on the pending marriage equality cases involving Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. Then again, they might end up holding back on their decision until their next term. Hopefully, I will have good news (or partially good news) to share on that front later this morning.

Win, lose, or punt, same-sex marriage supporters will be gathering tonight on the University of Iowa Pentacrest here in Iowa City at 6:00 PM to celebrate each other or to figuratively lick each others' wounds.

Updated Later: I was unable to attend tonight's rally due to some childcare issues. Fortunately, fellow Iowa City blogger John Deeth was at the "Speak Out for Marriage Equality" rally at Iowa City's Pentacrest and live-tweeted the entire event.

Here is how tonight's rally went. Keep in mind that you will need to read upwards to follow the progression of his tweets:

DOMA = Unconstitutional! // Plus Proposition 8 Case Dismissed

The U.S. Supreme Court finally made a decision on the "United States v. Windsor" case -- and it worked out pretty well for us gay and lesbian families. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was deemed unconstitutional in a 5-4 decision:
According to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion for the Court, “[t]he federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”
This primarily affects married gay and lesbian families in the 12 states (plus Washington DC) that allow same-sex marriage. It will force the federal government to recognize our marriages.

Updated: The U.S. Supreme Court also ruled today that those defending the Proposition 8 case have no standing. That means that the earlier court decision voiding the Proposition 8 constitutional amendment in California has been upheld and apparently same-sex marriage has returned to California!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Iowa City Sinkhole

Yesterday afternoon, a giant sinkhole began forming outside the Johnson County Administration Building, which is one building away from where I work. Check out this video:


Check out how much it grew over the course of an hour!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Wanted: Attractive People Willing to Divorce on Reality TV

Looks like Bravo is casting people for a new reality TV show for married, common-law married, and/or civilly unionized people who are 1. attractive, 2. upscale, 3. divorcing, and 4. willing to divorce on national television. The show will be called "Untying the Knot."

(source)

"Trek Fest" Documentary to be Filmed this Weekend in Riverside, IA

I wrote last week about Trek Fest XXIX, which will be held this coming weekend (June 28-29, 2013) in nearby Riverside, IA. Trek Fest is the annual celebration of the official future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk. This year's theme is "I Mudd." I posted the schedule of events for this year's Trek Fest here.

The Press-Citizen reports this morning that Trek Fest will be receiving a little extra attention this year. A student film maker from Pittsburgh, PA, will be in town from June 28-29 and creating a documentary about Trek Fest and Riverside.

This isn't the first time that Riverside has attracted this type of attention. Back in 2005, Spike TV did a reality TV show featuring William Shatner called Invasion Iowa. The premise of the show was that a science fiction movie featuring Shatner and dozens of locals was being filmed in Riverside. Shatner played the diva and the production people played several gags in order to film the bemused reactions of the residents of Riverside. Eventually, the gag was revealed to the people of Riverside and most everyone got the joke.

I'm assuming that this weekend's documentary effort will be more serious that Spike TV's earlier efforts.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

BETTY & VERONICA #266: "Snow White & the Riverdale Dwarves"

I just finished reading BETTY & VERONICA #266, which continues a tradition of "Fairy Tale Princess" stories featuring Betty and Veronica and all of their friends. This issue was inspired by Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. It was a pretty basic adaptation of the story. The Evil Queen (portrayed by Veronica) becomes jealous of the beautiful Snow White (portrayed by Betty). Snow White ends up seeking refuge in the home of seven hard-working dwarves (portrayed by Chuck, Dilton, Jughead, Kevin Keller, Mr. Weatherbee, Moose, and Pop Tate) before eating a poisonous apple that places her in a coma. Fortunately, the dwarves defeat the Evil Queen and the handsome Prince (portrayed by Archie) kisses the girl and turns Snow White into a Fairy Tale Bridezilla.


I've written before that I'm not a huge fan of the "Fairy Tale Princess" thing. I don't remember it being a big thing when I was growing up, but Disney seems to have built up the concept over the past couple decades. All that's to say, I'm pretty sure that this type of story appeals strongly to a different type of Archie Comics readership than folks like me -- and that's a good thing to market to a diverse readership!

What I liked: I loved the dwarves. I wish we could've seen less of Archie and the Woodsman (portrayed by Reggie) and much, much more of the dwarves! Writer Dan Parent and artist Jeff Schultz did a great job of combining together the Riverdale Pals (sans Gals) with the Disney dwarves and allowing elements from each genre to shine through. I'd love to see a sequel featuring just the dwarves someday:


What I didn't like: This is more of a commentary of this entire "Fairy Tale Princess" theme. I'm kind of tired of stories where Betty is cast as the virtuous Fairy Tale Princess and Veronica is cast as the wicked rival -- or as the co-Fairy Tale Princess that we've never heard of before -- such as the time when she portrayed Rapunzel's twin sister in BETTY & VERONICA #264. It would be nice for Veronica to play the princess and Betty to play to bad girl at least once.

Why couldn't Veronica be the Princess who cannot sleep because Bad Betty snuck a pea underneath her mattress? Or maybe Veronica could find herself being chased by the Big Bad Wolf as Little Red Riding Hood? Betty usually gets portrayed as a goody-goody girl, but I've also seen her as a schemer. It'd be fun to see that Betty again for a change:

Friday, June 21, 2013

Johnson County Settles with Trans Woman over Bathroom Dispute

(Jones)
Early this year, an administrative law judge ruled that a now-retired county deputy discriminated against an Iowa City woman named Jodie Jones by ordering her out of the bathroom. Jones announced that she planned to sue Johnson County unless the two sides were able to hammer out a settlement that included an admission of wrongdoing by the Johnson County Sheriff's Department. That settlement was reached two days ago.

As part of the settlement, Johnson County will pay Jones $7,000. Johnson County also agreed to pass a resolution stating that "public restrooms in county building are open to people based on their gender identity regardless of the person's gender at birth." I'm glad that they came to this settlement.

One thing that aggravated me was the following quote by Johnson County Board of Supervisors Chair Janelle Rettig. It's possible that she was badly quoted, but if not she should know better:
Johnson County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Janelle Rettig said Henderson, who has since retired, was a good employee who had to make a quick decision after being told a man was in the women’s restroom. She said Henderson chose wrong, but not with any intent to discriminate.

It wasn’t that this individual was treated poorly. It’s just that she was asked to leave the restroom,” said Rettig, a lesbian who pushed for gender identity to be included in state and local anti-discrimination laws.
The employee might not have meant to discriminate, but the administrative law judge already ruled that she had discriminated against Jones. The deputy was informed about the state law that allowed Jones to use the woman's restroom and then she said she didn't care about the law.

Jones herself has stated that she wouldn't have pressed forward with this lawsuit if she hadn't been treated badly. She said that she understood that transitioning can be confusing to the general public. But she felt that the "I don't care about the law" attitude expressed by the employee went over the line. So it's disingenuous to state that Jones wasn't treated poorly.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors plans to vote on this resolution next week at their next public business meeting. And I'm sure some training exercises amongst the county employees will follow in the future.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Exodus International Closing!

I learned of Exodus International folding late last night and had hoped to write up something during lunchtime. Then I got distracted by the life around me.

I will write up more later this evening, but here is a taste of what is to come:


Okay. I'm settled at home for a while...

Exodus International is holding its annual convention this week. I guess it's gonna be their last convention. Exodus International's president Alan Chambers announced last night to a stunned audience that the group's board has decided to close down the group permanently. You can read a transcript of the speech and announcement here.

This is what's on the Exodus International website:
Irvine, Calif. (June 19, 2013) — Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality announced tonight that it’s closing its doors after three-plus decades of ministry. The Board of Directors reached a decision after a year of dialogue and prayer about the organization’s place in a changing culture.

We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change – and they want to be heard,” Tony Moore, Board member of Exodus. The message came less than a day after Exodus released a statement apologizing (www.exodusinternational.org/apology) to the gay community for years of undue judgment by the organization and the Christian Church as a whole.

Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus. “For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.” 
Chambers continued: “From a Judeo-Christian perspective, gay, straight or otherwise, we’re all prodigal sons and daughters. Exodus International is the prodigal’s older brother, trying to impose its will on God’s promises, and make judgments on who’s worthy of His Kingdom. God is calling us to be the Father – to welcome everyone, to love unhindered.”

For these reasons, the Board of Directors unanimously voted to close Exodus International and begin a separate ministry. “This is a new season of ministry, to a new generation,” said Chambers. “Our goals are to reduce fear (reducefear.org), and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.”

Local affiliated ministries, which have always been autonomous, will continue, but not under the name or umbrella of Exodus.

Exodus President, Alan Chambers, is available for interviews. For press credentials or to set up an interview, contact Amy Tracy at 407/808-9831 or 719/355-9075; amytracybusiness@gmail.com. For additional information and a schedule of activities, please go to http://www.exodusfreedom.org.
I have read that the "Reduce Fear" website is a re-brand of the Exodus International group. I have read others who argue that it's not because it doesn't address ex-gay change. The link to the Reduce Fear website essentially leads to an empty page, so I guess we will have to wait and see.

People on the Gay Christian Network website have already been fretting about the "power vacuum" left in Exodus International's wake. One person is particular is afraid that a spin-off ex-gay group known as Restored Hope Network will prove more nasty than Exodus International ever was.

I'm like, "So what?" Restored Hope has already taken over. If they hadn't, Exodus International wouldn't be folding. If Restored Hope wants to do all sorts of nasty, crazy culture war stuff, then let them. That's the kind of stuff that makes the average person shake his/her head in bemused embarrassment. It doesn't really impress anyone except those on the far right side of the culture war.

I'm glad that Exodus International is gone. They have caused more harm than good to LGBT people over the past 37 years. It's time for the group to go away. But it was nice to have a heartfelt apology and acknowledgement of past harm before they closed their door for the final time.

Nero at Daycare -- 06/20/13

It was a hot one here in Iowa City today, but that didn't stop the dogs from having a ball at doggy daycare. Check it out:


Alt-Folk Singer Michelle Shocked to Perform at San Francisco Pride // Update: Michelle Shocked SF Pride Performance Canceled!

(Originally written on 06/17/13): You may remember when Alternative Folk singer Michelle Shocked when on an ironic "God hates faggots" rants, which angered and confused her overwhelmingly gay-friendly fans. It didn't help that Shocked refused to directly respond to questions over this confusing dialogue. Shocked's American concerts were all canceled, which led to a series of artsy protests by Shocked herself.

Shocked eventually went on CNN's Piers Morgan program a few weeks later and responded about the "God hates faggots" discussion. She also very directly expressed her support for LGBT rights and same-sex marriage. Too bad that most people had stopped supporting her by the time this interview aired.

Fast forward to now. The San Francisco Examiner has announced that they will be hosting a free concert by Michelle Shocked on June 30th, the last day of SF Pride.


I have already seen calls for protests, which is unfortunate. Michelle Shocked could have prevented this career implosion by doing what she did on the CNN interview sooner. But she missed her opportunity to effectively finesse her message. I'm curious to see how things work out for her on June 30th.

Updated on 06/20/13: Turns out that things didn't worked out too well for Michelle Shocked or the San Francisco Examiner. After a few days of defending this concert and disputing the question about whether or not he is actually "promoting" it, SF Examiner president Todd Vogt announced yesterday that the Michelle Shocked concert is canceled:
After many people expressed outrage over his plans, Vogt said in a Wednesday, June 19 interview that he's "sick" over what's happened. Shocked's concert was to take place on the day of the San Francisco LGBT Pride parade and celebration.

He said the intention had been "to shine a light" on "bigotry and hatred, and to have Miss Shocked apologize for her comments and perform for free. It was intended to be a healing and good will gesture, and it has turned into something totally, totally different. It was never, ever my or our intention to upset people or to anger them. To the contrary, we were hoping this would help everybody move on and not only provide closure but maybe a fresh start."

Vogt added, "It has been misread and misrepresented and misreported, but it's obvious that while our intentions were good, they definitely were misguided, so I feel terrible personally, and never, ever intended this outcome."

From what I've seen of Michelle Shocked, I'm not entirely convinced that she would have actually apologized for what had happened before. At least, not adequately for that audience. On the other hand, she was promoting it this week and last week as a concert in support of Bradley Manning. I could get behind a concert in support of Bradley Manning.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Woman Suing Iowa Culver's Restaurant After Walking into Window

I meant to write about this last week, but then I got distracted until today. Seems like a woman was visiting the Culver's restaurant in nearby Coralville, IA, back on December 27, 2011. Unfortunately, she had an accident while leaving the restaurant and just filed a lawsuit against Culvers. The source of the accident? She walked into a window:
(Mary T.) McCarthy says in the lawsuit that on Dec. 27, 2011, she was a customer at the restaurant, at 2529 Heartland Place, when she attempted to walk through what she believed to be an opening next to an exit door. McCarthy dislocated her jaw, broke her nose, tore a rotator cuff and sustained soft tissue injuries to her neck and back, in addition to emotional trauma, the lawsuit states.

McCarthy’s lawyer, personal injury attorney George Appleby of Des Moines, says the restaurant was negligent by failing to provide a proper marking, warning or sign on the panel.
So, essentially McCarthy and her attorney are trying to argue that she thought there was a huge empty space in the wall next to the door at this Culver's restaurant.

Looking at the comments section, it appears that McCarthy may be 85-years-old, which might explain the severity of her injuries. She is seeking unspecified damages for physical and emotional trauma related to this accident and her resulting injuries.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Nero at Daycare -- 06/18/13

I had a terrible day at work, but that didn't stop Nero from having a fun time with his four-legged friends at doggy daycare today. Check it out:

"Archie Double Digest" #244: Archie Has a New Dog!

Early this year, I made a pledge to actively purchase all Archie Comics titles that feature original materials. Part of this was to support current creative teams. But I also wanted to express my frustration over the amount of reprint materials in Archie Comics' digest titles. I don't mind purchasing reprint material, but I feel better about it when it's combined with new materials!

So I have been buying all of Archie Comics' comic books with original content: ARCHIE, BETTY & VERONICA, KEVIN KELLER, LIFE WITH ARCHIE, and (eventually) their NEW CRUSADERS-related titles. Not only that, but I've really gotten into their current "Worlds Collide" cross-over between SONIC THE HEDGEHOG and MEGA MAN. Soon I'll be getting AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE, too. That's not to say I'm not getting their digests. I get SONIC SUPER DIGEST every quarter and I've been a fan of WORLD OF ARCHIE DOUBLE DIGEST because it includes fun back-up stories featuring "Bats" and "Cosmo the Merry Martian" and "Pat the Brat." I just prioritize the titles with new material.

So that's the background out of the way...

Last night, I came across a list of Archie Comics' September 2013 solicitations and became very excited. It looks like ARCHIE DOUBLE DIGEST #244 will be leading with a new story featuring Archie Andrews and a new four-legged friend. Check this out:
Meet Archie's new dog Vegas! Vegas is full of personality, but how will he get along with the other pals' and gals' pets of Riverdale? When Veronica hosts a pet soiree with all the most popular pets (including her many poodles!), he'll make some new friends and learn some helpful hints along the way! Get ready for some tail-wagging fun in "Don't Fret My Pets!" the lead story in this laugh-packed digest!
It's possible that I am wrong with this assessment. I thought that some of the other lead stories in September's digests were new, but some investigation proved otherwise. But so far, "Don't Fret My Pets!" seems to be a new story. Which is totally exciting!

Assuming that ARCHIE DOUBLE DIGEST #244 does indeed lead with a brand new story, I really, really, really hope that this becomes to returning trend. *Fingers Crossed!*

Monday, June 17, 2013

Pagan Recruiting Efforts

I saw this on Facebook and got to wondering why we don't see more Pagan proselytizing. Check this out:

(source)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dogs Stolen from Fredericksburg, IA, Property Following Reports of Possible Animal Neglect

(source)
Here's an interesting story coming out of Chickasaw County, IA, which is about two hours north of me. I learned yesterday via Facebook about reports of alleged neglect of several dogs on a rural property outside Fredricksburg, IA. According to this blog article, there were "several" dogs on the property who were allegedly malnourished and lacking adequate supplies of water. It was suggested that nobody had lived in the house on the property for "quite some time."

Complaints were made to the Chickasaw County Sheriff's Office and someone apparently had investigated the property this past Friday and believed that there was adequate food, water, and shelter for the dogs. The Sheriff's Office reported that the dogs' owner was being given one week to provide medical records for all of the dogs.

Now KGAN is reporting that some of the dogs have gone missing from that property near Fredericksburg:
The two coon hound pups, and terrier were on a property reported for animal neglect. Miller says, they were part of eight dogs reported for neglect but not in serious danger. Deputies were working with the owners to improve conditions of the dogs, but someone reportedly stole the animals from the property. Deputies want the animals returned, so their health can be monitored.
It's actually pretty scary how many unattended dogs get stolen from rural properties around Iowa, with or without publicity about incidents of alleged animal neglect.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Honey Boo Boo, Uncle Poodle & the Family Head to the Beach

(source)
TMZ reported a couple days ago that Honey Boo Boo and her family spent the day at the beach recently. I'd read about the recent family trip to Tybee Island after they had wrapped up filming for the second season of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on Facebook. Their post had implied that it was a private getaway. But there were a ton of pictures of Honey Boo Boo, her parents, her sisters, and Uncle Poodle posted on TMZ and frankly it looked more like a celebrity photo shoot from some gossip magazine to me -- except that the stars look more like you, me, and/or the "people of Walmart."

But here is the real reason I posted this piece. I finally got to see Lee "Uncle Poodle" Thompson topless at the beach and I liked what I saw! (so homo) It's interesting to see him with nipple rings and there's some irony of seeing him hold a blow-up tire next to his own spare tire. It's nice to see a celebrity (reality TV or otherwise) who's not afraid to show off his everyday body to the world. But one hopes he ended up spending enough time in the sun to spread his tan from his neck and arm to his chest and stomach!

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If you go through the TMZ pics, you'll see several of Uncle Poodle splashing in the ocean with his family and getting buried in the sand by his nieces.

Video Response to Racist Cheerio Haters by Lesbian Moms

Late last month, General Mills released a commercial promoting Cheerios featuring an interracial family. General Mills ended up having to disable comments on its YouTube channel because they were inundated by thousands of racist comments about the biracial child and her interracial parents:
An innocent ad for heart-healthy Cheerios has sparked an onslaught of disturbing racist backlash on the Internet. The cereal brand was forced to pull comments from its YouTube page after a cereal commercial featuring an interracial family reportedly prompted a string of messages about Nazis, racial genocide and viewers so disgusted they “want to vomit.”

The half-minute ad — which has more than 250,000 views — shows a young girl chatting about Cheerios with her Caucasian mother, and later pans to her black father. While the spot garnered an unusual amount of racist criticism, General Mills-owned Cheerios said the buzz wasn’t all negative.
You can watch the commercial here:



I learned today of a funny video response (not by General Mills) to the racist responses to the above Cheerios commercial, this time featuring an interracial pair of lesbian moms.

You can watch that video here:


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Rep. Steve King Angered by Immigration Activist Protest

A group of immigration reform activists from United We Dream showed up today to protest at the legislative office of Congressman Steve King (R) of Iowa after he'd sponsored an effort to cut funding to President Barack Obama's deferred action program, which grants deportation reprieves to "DREAMers" (i.e., adults who came to the USA illegally as young children and who are essentially acculturated Americans in every way except by citizenship):
United We Dream, an undocumented youth activist group, organized a protest at the Iowa congressman's office this morning. Two dozen or so demonstrators showed up at King's office to voice their displeasure with him, organizers said. They arrived wearing caps and gowns (photo here) to reinforce their message that they want to pursue higher education and careers in the U.S... Julieta Garibay, a legislative associate with United We Dream who participated in the protest, said the activists had asked to meet with King, but his staff turned down that request. Instead, she said, demonstrators recited the Pledge of Allegiance in front of King's staffers and offered personal accounts of how their immigration status had affected their educational and career goals... In the middle of the protest, Capitol Police were called to King's office in the Rayburn House Office Building. The demonstrators were peaceably escorted out by officers, Garibay said.
This protest upset Rep. King, who took his grievance to Twitter:



In somewhat related news, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that Iowa's Hispanic population continues to increase as a much higher rate than the rest of Iowa's overall population. The Hispanic population numbers for Iowa came in at 162,800 in 2012, which was a 3.2% increase from 2011.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Suspicious Package Destroyed by Iowa City Bomb Squad was Actually an Art Sculpture

(source)
You may remember that the Johnson County Bomb Squad was summoned to downtown Iowa City this past Sunday evening to destroy a suspicious package. Turns out that the would-be bomb was actually an art sculpture created by local poet and artist Russell Jaffe.

Someone had bought the sculpture and an accompanying poem from Jaffe early this year. This weekend, the person who purchased the sculpture left the sculpture in a newspaper vending machine. People use this particular vending machine to informally exchange items with others. Kind of like a "Little Library." You take stuff left by others and you leave stuff that others might enjoy.

Apparently, a private security guard saw the sculpture and alerted the police. They in turn contacted the bomb squad and the poor sculpture was destroyed. Somehow the artist and the person who'd left behind the offending sculpture have been in contact with the police and everyone is apparently sufficiently convinced that this was all a big mistake.

Here is an explanation of what happened directly from Jaffe's Facebook page:
ANNOUCEMENT Nø. 1: There was a bomb scare in Iowa City over the weekend, and I was indirectly responsible. You see, in January I did an art show of mixed media sculptures, HELL-Ø-SCAPES, comprised of painted-on and smashed-up electronics. The walls of local gallery PSz, were painted black and covered in scrawls of abstract pop-culture/boyesque/jaunty confessional poetry. I auctioned off all the artwork for cheap at the end of the closing reception. One woman, an exceedingly nice local kooky lady, bought a small portable TV for $2 and insisted that I write some of the wall poetry in her notebook. Within the 2 pages I gave her were poems like, “IT IS YØU MAKING A HUGE MISTAKE,” “YØLØ,” and “XØXØ, I REALLY MISS YØU/NØ ARCHITECTURE.” Flash forward 6 months and this Iowa City art-loving lady left my artwork and poems in the STRANGE TRACTOR newspaper stand on the corner of Washington and Dubuque during Arts Fest. Apparently people use that box as a kind of off-grid arts freeshare; you leave something and take whatever has been left in kind. Well, someone saw a gold-spraypaint-and-painted-blood-stained antenna poking out of the box and called the police, who called the bomb squad. O brothers, sisters, lovers, friends!; it was super fun to be driving home from my tour (I was out of town for all of this) and have my landlord call me to tell me the cops were looking for me. But not only were the cops super cool, they have gotten a huge kick out of this story. It’s a big hit at the station. One of them told me it’s “a fucking awesome story, totally hilarious, I wish I was writing for the college paper so I could cover it” today on the phone. I am glad no one was killed, and having my art and poetry eviscerated by a bomb-destroying robot is the thing I realized I never knew I always wanted.
You can see a close-up picture of the sculpture taken by the police in the top corner of this blog entry. Another pic of the sculpture, taken by Jaffe is immediately below. Check it out:

Council Bluffs, IA, Couple Awarded $147,000 for Anti-Gay Harassment by Rental Management Company // Update: It Wasn't Just Name-Calling.

(Originally written on 06/11/13): Charles Anderson and Brandon Morehouse of Council Bluffs, IA, rented an apartment together back in 2011. Apparently, building's on-site maintenance man Allen Emert learned that the couple was sharing a one-bedroom apartment in March 2011. Emert then began harassing and name-calling the couple on a daily basis. The pair complained to New Life Multi-Family Management LLC, Emert's employer and the management company responsible for the property that they rented from and sought to get them to pressure their employee to leave them alone. Unfortunately, that complaint went nowhere.

Here is a description of the harassment faced by the couple, as identified on the Iowa Civil Rights Commision's website:
During the trial, the jury heard evidence that an on-site maintenance technician, Allen Emert, verbally harassed the two men by calling them derogatory terms and slurs, and making offensive gestures on an almost daily basis during March and April 2011. Mr. Emert directed words such as “fag,” “queer,” “butt pirate,” and “pillow biter” towards Mr. Anderson and Mr. Morehouse. Mr. Anderson complained about the harassment to New Life’s on-site property manager, Christine Clark, who failed to take any corrective action. Mr. Anderson then complained to Shirley Spencer at New Life’s corporate office about the harassment and she likewise failed to take any corrective action. The jury also heard evidence that the harassment began early in March, 2011 after Mr. Emert discovered that Messrs. Anderson and Morehouse were sharing a one-bedroom apartment. From that time until they left the complex in April 2011, Mr. Emert harassed the two men on an almost daily basis. The jury also heard that besides calling Messrs. Anderson and Morehouse “faggots” to their faces, Mr. Emert also referred to them by this epithet and other derogatory terms to other New Life employees and residents.
So the couple filed a lawsuit against New Life Multi-Family Management LLC with the assistance of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. And their lawsuit was very successful:
Jurors awarded $22,000 in economic damages to Charles Anderson and Brandon Morehead, plus $50,000 for emotional distress and $75,000 in punitive damages, according to a news release issued by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, which brought filed a lawsuit on the couple’s behalf...

The four-day jury trial ended in a finding that New Life had discriminated against Anderson and Morehead based on their sexual orientation.
I'm sure we will hear from culture warriors who argue that Emert and his employer shouldn't be punished for their opinion. But Anderson and Morehouse were stuck by a lease at that property and had certain financial and legal obligations to their landlord under Iowa law. The same reflects back on New Life Multi-Family Management LLC.

Updated on 06/12/13: Aksarbent posted a link today to a KETV news report that demonstrates that this wasn't just a simple case of rude behavior and name-calling. It also involved threats of violence and an illegal three-day eviction.

Check this out:



Here are more details from the KETV report:
According to a lawsuit filed by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, a maintenance technician employed by New Life Multi-Family told Anderson he would, “Get him one of these times and it would all be over with,” and he was “going to beat him with a lead pipe.”

When Anderson complained to apartment management, New Life Multi-Family took no action to address the multiple complaints of harassment. Instead, management began the process to evict the couple, giving them three days to get out.

“I'm like, ‘Man, this is not right. This is what happened. This is not right,’" Anderson said. “We didn't get our deposit back. We didn't get our months’ rent that we paid.”

Anderson and Morehead moved out, but the Iowa Civil Rights Commission stepped in to file a lawsuit against New Life Multi-Family Management on behalf of the couple. On Friday, a jury ruled unanimously in the couple’s favor, awarding them $147,000 in damages.
The couple lost their deposit and a month's rent when they were served with a three day notice through "clear and present danger" eviction proceedings.

Lastly, I'm not sure about the names of one of the plaintiffs. I'm seen him listed as Brandon Morehead and as Brandon Morehouse. If someone could clarify this for me, it would be much appreciated.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Nero at Daycare -- 06/11/13

It could have been nasty today at doggy daycare with a heavy humidity. Fortunately for Nero and his friend, the folks at Lucky Pawz had the sense to drag out the swimming pool. Instant fun! Check it out:

"Afterlife With Archie" #1 Cover

We learned yesterday that SWAMP THING artist Francesco Francavilla will be the artist for the new AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE comic book, which is scheduled to come out in October. The cover to the first issue has been released and it sure looks creepy!

Check it out:

Poor Jughead...

Bomb Squad in Downtown Iowa City Tonight // Updated on 06/11/13: Police Confirm Package Was Not A Bomb

(Originally written on 06/09/13): Husband Mark just came home from his office and asked me if I knew anything about the bombs. Turns out that the Iowa City Police Department has dispatched their bomb squad to downtown Iowa City. I did a quick search of local news sources and learned that they are investigating a suspicious package.

(source)

KCJJ has the most description information about the suspicious package on their Twitter account:
Iowa City Police say a note was left with a suspicious package at Dubuque and Washington Street and they plan on detonating it.
KCJJ posted the image above, which describes the bomb squad radio detonating the package. Other than that, I don't know much.

As always, I will post more once I learn more.

Updated on 06/11/13: The big news in this case is that police and FBI investigators have had the opportunity to review the remains of this package and determine that there never was a bomb:
With the assistance from the FBI, officials determined that the suspicious package was not a bomb or incendiary device, and at no time was the safety of the public jeopardized, according to a news release.
I remember a recent situation out of Linn County where somebody had left a package of donated clothing or food for people in need (with a noted describing the intent of that particular gift) and that was treated as a suspected bomb. I'm half-wondering if this was something similar. Some vendor left a package behind by mistake or somebody left a box of trash along the curb in hopes that someone else would pick it up.

Then again, we (the general public) have no idea what the note said.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Iowa City Man Charged/Arrested for Detonating Fireworks Near Bomb Squad Investigation

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As of this moment, there hasn't been much released about the Iowa City Police Department's bomb squad investigation into a suspicious package and note (which was subsequently destroyed by the police). However, there was one arrest last night for a similar, but separate incident is close proximity to this police investigation.

According to KCJJ, one Iowa City man has found himself in the county jail after he allegedly exploded a fire cracker. It didn't turn out well for him:
Police now say that as the investigation was continuing just after 11:30pm 32-year-old Steven Abraham Crittenden of Dolphin Lake Point Enclave threw of lit Silver Bomb Cracker M-88 in front of the nearby Deadwood, causing a loud explosion. Crittenden went inside the bar, came back out and attempted to flee the scene on his bicycle. He was stopped by police and denied knowing anything about the fireworks, although two more Silver Bomb Crackers were found on his person.
Crittenden was arrested and charged with Reckless Use of Explosive, Possession of Fireworks, Interference with Official Acts, and Public Intoxication. He could spend over a year in jail if convicted of all this.

I should clarify that Crittenden was not arrested as a result of the bomb squad incident. It's unknown if he had anything to do with that. It should also be noted that he has not been convicted of his charges and is innocent until proven guilty.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

59% of People Opposed to Gay Marriage Believe That It's Inevitable

(source)

KEVIN KELLER #9: Kevin's Vacation from Heck!

I really enjoyed reading KEVIN KELLER #9, which was released last week. It tells the story of Kevin and his family as they plan a cross-country driving adventure to attend a celebration to celebrate his father's accomplishments. Somehow, Kevin's old best friend (Wendy), his new best friend (Veronica), and his boyfriend (Devon) all manage to shoe-horn themselves into this family outing. Imagine two adults, five teens, and one girl riding in an RV for any amount of time. Now imagine that two of them are Devon and Veronica. It was quite funny.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's talk about Devon. He was introduced in KEVIN KELLER #7 as Kevin's "bad boy" boyfriend. At the time, I couldn't see it. I mean, everyone told me that he was trouble. I just never saw it. We saw it in this issue, which was comical!

The issue starts out with Kevin and his old friends, Wendy and William working as lifeguards at the beach. After he got chased away from his working boyfriend, devious Devon hatched a plan to get some attention. Check this out:


This whole scene made me laugh. Not only was Devon plotting, but crazy Tribble-guy Paul pulled his own "I'm drowning(!)" stunt!

And there were the water-and-vinegar scenes between Veronica and Devon that threatened more than once to destroy this family vacation:


There were a few touching scenes, too. Devon and Kevin were probably the most believably affectionate throughout this issue of the comic book. Additionally, the seeds were sewn to possibly reunite Devon with his estranged parents, which would be nice to see eventually.

I really like how this book is unfolding. Kevin Keller has a strong supporting cast that includes his family, Riverdale mainstay Veronica Lodge, his old friends from junior high school, his boyfriend, and his boyfriend's rival. And, interestingly enough, the book has become gayer and gayer without ever mentioning the word "gay"!