Thursday, July 28, 2011

Taking The Day Off

I'm been running myself ragged lately and want to take a day to relax.  Updates as usual starting tomorrow.  :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Geek Shit Wednesday Vol. XVIII

New Mobile Game Designed By X-Men Artist

A new in-depth RPG game is being developed for mobile phones and is being hailed by Wired as "absolutely stunning."  It should look good, as its creator is no stranger to art: Steve Uy, a celebrated artist for the X-Men franchise, is the one making the game.

"Though he has enlisted a programmer and musician, Uy is writing, illustrating and designing the game on his own.

"'This may be a single-man indie game, but it won’t feel like one,' Uy said in an e-mail to  World Without End, Uy says, will take upwards of 15 hours to finish and let players explore several branching storylines.

"Uy is asking for donations on Kickstarter to help him finish the project. He’s hoping to reach $15,000 by late August."

I have to say, its lack of grid-style movement in-game and fresh graphics make this a very appealing game that I'm looking forward to seeing release successfully.

Restrictions On Stem Cell Research Lift

One of the great tragedies in medical research of our age has been the lack of ability for NIH and other institutes to research stem cell treatments that could cure a wide range of ailments ranging from HIV to cancer.  The Obama administration has been attempting to lift restrictions left in place from previous inhabitants of the White House with little success, as a group of researchers working in the field of adult stem cells filed an injunction saying further research would threaten their funding.

The judge in the case, happily, tossed out their objections and stem cells are now fair game for the NIH to study.

"The legal wrangling of the case hinged on two issues: the definition of 'research,' and whether scientists suffer harm based on funding policy decisions. The plaintiffs in the case were researchers who focused on adult stem cells and had seen their NIH grant proposals undergo competitive evaluations, pitted against those from scientists working on embryonic stem cells. With the restrictions on embryonic stem cells lifted, that competition would increase. Thus, they claimed to have suffered harm from the policy change, which gave them grounds to sue. That decision, which may make any funding policy change the subject of future lawsuits, has remained intact in this final ruling.

"Which leaves us with research. The law governing stem cell research prohibits funding 'research in which a human embryo' is subject to harm. The judge in this case, Royce C. Lamberth, read 'research' very broadly, in a manner that would encompass all the preparatory work, including the isolation of stem cells. In contrast, the NIH read the term narrowly, as applying only to the work it was providing funding to."

This is a great thing for science, and I'm looking forward to the results of that research over the next couple decades.

Weird Robot Walks On Water

I'm a firm believer that robots scare the shit outta me, and this thing confirms it:

See that?!  It walks on water.  That's right.  When they're coming to get you you can't escape by boat anymore.  Ugh.  We're fucked.

Just Because It's Really Cute

Awwww.  Thanks to James R. on G+.

This Would Be Great If Bachmann Were Actually A Lesbian

Politics Are Fueled By Greed? What?! *sarcasm*

As if we needed any more proof that the political crusades to protect big business are founded in corporate greed, ThinkProgress reports that Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is fighting efforts to protect public health interests by further regulating the coal industry... all while making millions privately from coal.

"On his financial disclosures for 2009 and 2010, Manchin reported significant earnings from Enersystems Inc., a coal brokerage that he helped run before his political star rose. In the 19 months before winning his Senate seat in a hard-fought special election, Manchin reportedoperating income of $1,363,916 from Enersystems. His next disclosure showed $417,255 in Enersystems income."

I don't really need to say anything about this.  It's entirely obvious that voting in a candidate with strong private interest in damaging industries is a bad, bad idea.  

I know!  Let's pass a bill: the only people who can run for national political office must, by law, have a less than $100k/year income.*

*this post brought to you by the Ian Awesome for US Senate Campaign.

HHS Begins Revising Blood Donation Policies

I have become something of an irritant to Red Cross canvassers in downtown Seattle.  You can't go anywhere without them or Planned Parenthood hitting you up for cash, and while they're great organizations, they can be a real pain.  The poor guys who raise money for the Red Cross, however, are starting to learn to avoid me.  "Hi!  Can I talk to you for a minute?"  Cue Ian's finger-waving: "If you accepted my blood, I would consider donating to your organization!"

This is a bit of a douchebag move on my part.  I obviously cannot donate blood because I am HIV positive, and it's not necessarily the Red Cross' fault that the US Department of Health and Human Services bans men who have sex with men (MSM) from giving blood products.  It makes for interesting sidewalk discussions, though.

Those canvassers may have a reprieve from my one-man terror crusade, though, as the HHS has decided to study the issue further and consider revision of the rules to allow MSM to donate.  From the Gay Men's Health Crisis:

 Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) and the World Federation of Hemophilia laud the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for outlining concrete steps toward review of the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) permanent deferral on blood donation by gay and bisexual men.  In a question-and-answer document, HHS described four areas of necessary study to allow a further review of the existing policy, and implementation of the June 2010 recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability (ACBSA). These areas include:
  • How the risk of blood transmissible diseases in the current donor population relate to the risk factors in donors; 
  • The root cause of quarantine release errors (QRE), the accidental release of blood not cleared for use that potentially put the blood supply at risk; 
  • If potential donors correctly understand the current questionnaire and if men who have sex with men (MSM) would comply with modified deferral criteria; and
  • If alternative screening strategy (e.g. pre- and/or post-qualifying donation infectious disease testing) for MSM (and potentially other high-risk donors) would assure blood safety while enabling data collection that could demonstrate safe blood collection from a subset of MSM or other currently deferred donors.

Well, it looks like I might have to revert to "I'm just really broke guys, sorry."

What I'm Listening To Today

Adam left this song on my Facebook wall yesterday, and even though it's in some commercial or other I have to say it's cute and I like it.

Some Guy Is Sneaking Into Funerals And Then Lying About Them

This guy really needs a hobby.

US Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) has taken a personal crusade against the Obama administration to the next level, having alleged that the government is preventing military funerals from mentioning the word "God."

"A Texas lawmaker is calling for a Congressional investigation of the Houston National Cemetery after he went undercover and determined that cemetery officials are still preventing Christian prayers at the funerals of military veterans.

"'The Obama administration continues to try to prevent the word "God" from being used at the funerals of our heroes,” said. Rep. John Culberson (R-TX). 'It’s unacceptable and I’m going to put a stop to it as fast as humanly possible.'

"Culberson told Fox News Radio he attended a burial service at the cemetery under cover on July 8 where he said volunteer members of the honor guard from the Veterans of Foreign Wars were prohibited from using any references to God."

That's super creepy.  Some dude is sneaking into military funerals and then politicizing them?  Uh, doesn't he realize he sounds completely and utterly batshit crazy?

His allegation lacks, unfortunately, any basis in fact whatsoever.  While it is true that some military funerals do not mention God, that is because that's the family's wish.  After all, not every soldier is Christian or even religious.  What, does Culberson want to mandate Christian services for military personnel?  

Motherfucker needs to stop sneaking into people's funerals and leave their final arrangements alone.

Dan Savage Wants To Redefine Santorum's First Name

In an effort to get Rick Santorum to quit bashing on the gays in his campaign, Dan Savage released this funny video threatening to create further "Google problems" for the anti-gay candidate.

I would argue that someone with his clout could be targeting more dangerous candidates-- Santorum is trailing the polls and is not going to get the nomination-- but it's a cute video nonetheless.

Rock 'N Roll Loser Sues Maddow

Bradlee Dean, a preacher who heads his own brand of punk ministry in Minnesota, has in the past been associated with such conservative "luminaries" as GOP frontrunner Michele Bachmann (is anyone else horrified that the words "frontrunner" and "Bachmann" are in the same sentence?), as the anti-gay candidate headlined a fundraiser for him.

Bradlee can't afford his Aquanet!

He made headlines when he went on his radio show and praised the Muslim execution of homosexuals in the Middle East, a story which was featured prominently on the Rachel Maddow Show. Skip ahead to the 1:20 mark on the video below:

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which brought it to everyone's attention:

"On a May 15 radio show, the ministry’s front man, Bradlee Dean, applauded the call of some Muslims for violence against gay people. 'Muslims are calling for the executions of homosexuals in America,' Dean said. 'This just shows you … they seem to be more moral than even the American Christians… . They know homosexuality is an abomination.'"

Now he can't get a job to save his life, so he's falling back on that great American pasttime that all broke skeazebags rely on: suing someone.

He's decided to sue Maddow for defamation, claiming he never supported the execution of LGBTs, despite the glaring evidence from his own radio show. He is asking for $50 million:

"Despite the very clear disclaimer by Bradlee Dean on his ministries website and elsewhere regarding the false accusation that he was calling for the execution of homosexuals, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and others seized on and accused Dean on her show of supporting the killing of homosexuals, as is the practice in some radical Islamic countries. This seriously has harmed Dean and the ministry, who pride themselves on respect and love for all people."

Recently, Dan Savage referred to the Bachmanns as scumbags and grifters. Clearly, they prefer their associates to be grifters as well. Have fun in losing in court, Bradlee!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chris Barron Defends Michele Bachmann On Gay Rights

Chris Barron continues his insane what-the-fuckery today as he has now come out in order to defend Bachmann's record on gay rights and the reparative Therapygate scandal troubling her campaign.

From the Advocate:

"So do you think it’s possible then that she’s been misunderstood and actually does not support reparative therapy?

"I have absolutely no idea. None whatsoever. I’ll be totally honest with you, I think this whole conversation about reparative therapy is just silly season. I don’t believe in reparative therapy. I don’t think many serious people believe in reparative therapy. Also, a sideshow has been created here. We are a country that is in economic ruin. Gay people are living under the Barack Obama economy just like straight people. The situation for gay people when it comes to health care and retirement security and income and jobs hasn’t gotten any better under Barack Obama. And those are the issues that gay conservatives care about and want to discuss in this election."

Honey, please.  Not only are you attempting to muddy the issue on a rabidly anti-gay insane woman running for President, your assertion that Barack Obama is at fault for the failing economy and increasing debt is just plain untrue.  This graphic is circulating showing the expenditures under Bush and under the current administration:

Clearly, the debt and its many consequences were bequeathed from the last president for our current one to handle, Chris.  I thought you were supposed to be smart on fiscal issues?

Pat Buchanan Hearts Norwegian Terrorists

More douchebaggery from social conservatives concerning the terrorist attack by Anders Breivik in Norway, with Pat Buchanan weirdly supporting the mass murderer's point:

"But, awful as this atrocity was, native-born and homegrown terrorism is not the macro-threat to the continent.

"That threat comes from a burgeoning Muslim presence in a Europe that has never known mass immigration, its failure to assimilate, its growing alienation, and its sometime sympathy for Islamic militants and terrorists.

"Europe faces today an authentic and historic crisis.

"With her native-born populations aging, shrinking and dying, Europe’s nations have not discovered how to maintain their prosperity without immigrants. Yet the immigrants who have come – from the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia – have been slow to learn the language and have failed to attain the educational and occupational levels of Europeans. And the welfare states of Europe are breaking under the burden.[...]

"As for a climactic conflict between a once-Christian West and an Islamic world that is growing in numbers and advancing inexorably into Europe for the third time in 14 centuries, on this one, Breivik may be right."

I would posit that, since there have been NO Muslim terrorist attacks in Europe in recent years, the "crisis" Buchanan refers to probably doesn't fucking exist.

What I'm Listening To Today (Marcus Bachmann Gay Prostitute Edition)

In light of the news that gay blogger James Killough is offering $10,000 to anyone who can prove that Marcus Bachmann is homosexual, Michael Sebastian Lux (our own OneAngryCultist) suggested that I pose as a rentboy and ensnare Marcus for some quick cash.  However, I responded:

Glenn Beck Is Even More Disgusting Than Usual

Glenn Beck has left Fox News and is floundering about in radioland, but that doesn't stop the Tea Party favorite from being a shocking pig.

The world watched in horror Friday as news broke of a bombing-shooting spree attack in Norway, with anti-Islamic Christian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik claiming responsibility for the deadly and reprehensible mass murder of the 76 victims.

While some are extending their condolences to the families of victims and attempting to stand with Norway in solidarity, perennial douchebag Glenn Beck is taking this opportunity to compare the Utøya campers to Hitler Youth:

"Glenn Beck, the rightwing US broadcaster and Tea Party favourite, has compared those who were massacred on the Norwegian island of Utøya to the Nazi party's youth wing.

"'There was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like the Hitler youth, or, whatever. I mean, who does a camp for kids that's all about politics. Disturbing,' said Beck on his syndicated radio show."

Not only is this a disgusting attempt to spin and politicize a national tragedy, the Tea Party-aligned Beck would do well to keep his mouth shut on political indoctrination camps.  After all, the Tea Party itself has one, teaching children Ayn Rand's drivel on socioeconomics.  From The Week:

What other principles will Liberty School impart?
"Timeless and incorruptible" ones, gleaned from the organizers' understanding of the Constitution and other writings of the founding fathers. And how will these lessons be taught? Here are some examples:
The gold standard is superior: The camp will have a store where kids can buy things using hard, wrapped candies (representing gold), or a paper currency that will lose its purchasing power throughout the week. "Some of the kids will fall for it," Lukens says. "Others kids will wise up." Max Read at Gawker finds "the idea of a My First Federal Reserve setting monetary policy... rather endearing." But Salon's Alex Pareene is confused: "What will children buy at the 'store' if they already have candy?"
"America is good": The kids will start by sitting quietly in a bare room (Europe), then progress through an obstacle course to a festive party room (the New World), where red, white, and blue confetti will be thrown about. Then the kids will have to clean up the confetti, to teach them that freedom requires work and responsibility. Maybe,says Gawker's Read, but I bet the smart ones "use their hard, wrapped candies to pay other kids to clean up the confetti."
Socialism is bad: The campers will blow bubbles from a communal tub of soapy water, then use squirt guns to shoot other kids' bubbles, tallying the number they pop. Next, they will switch to individual bubble containers, popping their own bubbles, to learn "that you can do a lot more with individual freedom," says Lukens. Huh? says Kirsten Boyd Johnson at Wonkette. Everyone knows "popping other kids' bubbles is way more fun than popping your own."
Dear Glenn Beck: just shut the fuck up already.

Scott Walker Continues War On Liberal Voters

Shah Walker of Wisconsistan is once more attacking Democratic voters' ability to cast their ballots, having already limited voting to residents who have a picture ID and now limiting their ability to get those IDs.

Citing budget shortfalls (what?  Taking away collective bargaining hasn't saved the economy in Wisconsin?!  Weird) Walker's office now has announced the closure of 10 DMV offices in the state, shuttering locations where people can get the crucial IDs necessary to vote.

Michael Schatz, a Wisconsin blogger, points out the crux of Walker's newest nefarious plan to maintain control of what he appears to consider his personal fiefdom: those 10 DMVs?  All in Democratic districts.

"This story shows just how stupid neoconservatives think the public really is. Walker and his ilk pass a bill requiring voters to present valid photo identification at the polls. Then, in the same breath, Walker and his ilk propose a bill to close the identification issuing centers (the DMV’s) in the Democratic districts, making ID’s more difficult for low-income voters to obtain.

"And then, when the Democrats call foul, Walker and his ilk shrug and claim their motivation is purely economic, not political. And we just shake our heads and move on, because, really, what can we do?"

Which, of course, is how the legislature and governor's office is treating it:

"A high-ranking DOT official rejected that claim, saying the changes were based on economics, not politics.

"Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Fort Atkinson, called on the state Department of Transportation to reconsider its plants to close the Fort Atkinson DMV center. The department plans to expand by four hours a week the hours of a center about 30 minutes away in Watertown.

"Jorgensen said he was concerned doing that would discourage people from Fort Atkinson from participating in elections.

"'What the heck is going on here?' Jorgensen said. 'Is politics at play here?'

"Transportation Department executive assistant Reggie Newson denied that politics was behind the office closure plan, saying the decisions were being made based on what made the most economic sense."

Dear Scott Walker: quit fucking with our most sacred rights.  

Bachmann Blocking Media Questions On Marcus' "Ex-Gay" Extravaganza

With the Iowa primary vote a crucial first step to taking the long road to the White House, you might think alienating the local press wouldn't be a hallmark of your campaign.  Not for Crazy Eyes!

At this point, the news on Marcus Bachmann's counseling practice's policy of advising gays that they can change to straights is well-known, exploding beyond the gay blogosphere and grabbing attention in the mainstream media.  The Bachmann campaign, knowing that this information has the potential to destroy her credibility due to the fact that reparative therapy is a damaging and evil pipe dream, has been attempting to control the rhetoric on her involvement in anti-gay politics.

One Iowa news outlet, the Davenport-based WQAD, pressed the issue to the candidate during a satellite interview.  Not only did Bachmann's handlers cut the live feed for the interview, but the station is now blacklisted to prevent further embarrassment to the Tea Party-backed candidate.

"During the satellite interview, behind the scenes, it got ugly. In the News 8 control room, campaign staffers threatened WQAD producers that they would cut off the feed if Rae Chelle repeated the question. A follow-up question was asked on the issue. The Congresswoman's answers were aired nationally on ABC World News Tonight and Nightline.

"At Sunday's Davenport fundraiser was our first chance to interview Bachmann since the satellite interview incident. All Quad Cities media were invited to attend and promised a one-on-one interview during the evening. While our competitors were accommodated, WQAD was blocked and denied."

Does Crazy Eyes really think that censorship and blocking news outlets can save her record on anti-gay policies?  Here's the thing about pissing off the press: they're the press.  They will print the fucked up shit you do.  Alienating news outlets is not beneficial, it's dumb, because they will tell people exactly what you do, say, or avoid saying.  

The original interview:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Snape Admits He Was Boning Dumbledore

Ladies and gentlemen, Severus Snape, here to tell you: it gets better.  Warning!  Spoiler alerts.

What I'm Listening To Today

Today was filled with doctor's appointments in rainy Seattle.  While locals are complaining about the weather, I'm grateful for a day of gloom after spending a week in Joplin.  They took 14 tubes of blood, so I'm a bit tired and worn down, but very happily sipping coffee in my favorite Capitol Hill coffee shop.

Porno Pete: Fox News Coverage Is Homosexy

I never thought of Faux News as homosexy, but hey, whatever floats his boat.

Vibrator "Food Truck" To Make Rounds In NYC

New York is well-known for their food trucks, but this is over the top.

Trojan, the well-known condom company, is promoting their line of vibe toys on July 28th and 29th this week by driving a "Food truck" around Manhattan, with free samples of condoms and vibrating cockrings being handed out.  There will be tests on iPad designed to match each prospective shopper with the best vibrator for their needs, as well as an on-site sexologist, Dr. Logan Levkoff, who will interview personalities in the field of sexual health.

"Fifty-three percent of women and 45 percent of men between the ages of 18 and 60 have used a vibrator during sexual interaction, according to a survey by Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University commissioned by Trojan. And 90 percent of women who have used vibrators agreed that vibrator use can enhance a woman's relationship with her partner.

"The stats are there, but still many people feel uncomfortable talking so openly about the topic. Levkoff said she anticipates some people will be nervous to approach the truck in public, but it's her job to let them know it's okay to talk about the subject in a fun and positive way.

"'The fact that it’s a "Trojan food truck" I think is going to be enough to make people say, "What on earth is that?" and draw people in,' she said. 'I’m hoping that broaching this conversation is going to be easier than most people anticipate, because this is really an entertaining way of having a conversation about something that is often portrayed as super clinical and scary or completely gratuitous, and this is nowhere near those two extremes.'"

While I'm not particularly fiendish for Trojan's products, good for them for such a sex-positive publicity stunt.  I've worked in sex shops off and on for years and find any chance to appropriately promote healthy sexual expression to be an important part of adulthood.  

Ruben Diaz Can Suck It

Seriously, dude, you lost.  Simmer down.

Ruben Diaz had an extra helping of haterade this week, vowing to destroy the recognition of gay weddings performed in New York State via a lawsuit.

"State Sen. Ruben Diaz, a minister who was the sole Democrat to vote against gay marriage when the Legislature approved it, told a crowd near the United Nations that he and other opponents would try to get Sunday’s marriages annulled, saying judges broke the law by waiving the 24-hour waiting period without a good reason.

"'We’re going to show them next week that everything they did today was illegal,' he said, speaking in Spanish."

This guy is starting to make me sick.  So now he's going to not only attempt to prevent committed couples from marrying, but he's going to try and snatch that recognition back?  At this point, Diaz looks like nothing more than a spiteful ass grasping at straws.  Good luck, Diaz.  You're probably going to need it, as marriage equality seems pretty entrenched in the Empire State.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Trial Watch: Prosecutor Asks Jury To Disregard King's Orientation

As previously reported, the defense for Brandon McInerney is attempting to paint the defendant as a victim of sexual harassment on the part of the slain Lawrence King.  Broadly referred to as the "gay panic" defense, McInerney's lawyers are hoping to downgrade his charge to voluntary manslaughter with the excuse that shooting King was a crime of passion perpetrated by a humiliated and harassed teenager.

I personally find that defense disgusting.  Just because I hit on a straight man is no reason to end my life.

The prosecution is attempting to use laws enacted since the murder of Gwen Araujo, in which her killers won a mistrial after the panic defense was used.  The statutes prevent the gay panic defense from being used.

"Ventura County Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Maeve Fox this week said she would invoke the Araujo law when the case is sent to the jury, asking that the panel of nine women and three men be instructed not to let biases toward the victim's sexual identity influence their deliberations.

"Legislators and advocacy groups that pushed hard to see the law passed say they are gratified to see the jury instruction invoked.

"'We can't restrict the free speech rights of the defense and the ability of a defendant to mount their defense,' said Sally Lieber, the former assemblywoman who wrote the Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act. 'But the judge should instruct juries that a person's gender or sexual ID is not an invitation to assault or murder.'

I hope this gross defense falls flat.

This Is Why I Blog

So a quick break from news stuff.

Since Adam has gotten out of the hospital, he has been a nonstop crazytrain, making up for the time he spent asleep by taking me to the movies, looking for a place to live in Seattle, searching for work, and catching up with friends that have been worried about him.

Frankly?  I'm fucking exhausted.

This morning I got up early, put some posts up, and then tried to take a nap.  The energetic little bastard busted into the bedroom at least twice in order to wake me up and tell me something he was excited about, and finally I dragged myself out of bed.

He was outside on the phone, and passed it to me, saying that his friend Jenny had an important story to tell me.

When the whole ordeal was going on, Jenny was getting her news from OAQ, and when we all thought Adam was going to die, she called her friend Desiree in order to cry on a sympathetic shoulder.  Desiree lives in Jenny's small town in Morris, Kansas.  Also, Desiree is bisexual, and living in a small town, her only link to the LGBT community is online.

So imagine Jenny's surprise (and my delight) when Desiree told her that even before Adam's ordeal, she read OAQ, which was one of her news sources.  Jenny, in giving us her congratulations on Adam's recovery and our subsequent engagement, gushed to me on the phone how New Media has helped impact Desiree's life positively and I have been able to contribute to making one bi girl's experience just a little bit less lonely.

So thank you, Desiree, for reading.  Thank you for getting connected.  The only way to enact change for our troubled times is by making coalitions and getting people involved, and congratulations on being a member of a large, diverse, and far-flung (yet very close) community.  Hats off to you!

Also: big news for our wedding.  While it's many months away (and many of our mutual friends are rolling their eyes and doubting the whole thing is going to happen), I've already got half of it planned.  I'm kind of a bridezilla.

One of the important factors was deciding who would perform the wedding.  It only took a moment for us to decide, and this week I asked Dan Choi if he would marry me to Adam.  He graciously agreed, so one of my favorite people, best friends, and my most excellent colleague is going to be the one to get me hitched.  Thank you, Dan.

Taiwan Hearts New York Marriage Equality

What I'm Listening To Today

Missouri is getting to me.  I'm wearing cowboy boots and everything.

Today In Grifting

One thing that pisses me off about evangelism is the fleecing of the faithful, promising unlikely lifestyle fixes through prayer for a small "donation."  A perfect example, found via JoeMyGod:

Santorum Is Pissed About "Santorum"

Ten years ago, Dan Savage focused his ire on an anti-gay politician and started a phenomenon that just won't quit.  In a stroke of genius, Savage forever associated the word "Santorum" with pooey lube, and the politician ignored it for a good decade.

Now, however, he's trailing in the polls and lacking funds, so what better time to suddenly be fed up?  He went on TV and sent an e-mail to potential donors this week attempting ride the waaaaahmbulance all the way to the bank.  From the Real Time:

"This man has gone out there and tried to destroy my integrity– I mean, you’ve heard about this Google issue, that’s Dan Savage. It’s the lowest debasement of public discourse. It’s offensive beyond anything that any public figure or anybody in America tolerate [sic], and the mainstream media laughs about it. They kid about it. They write about it. They say Santorum’s ‘Google problem,’ and when you see this kind of over the top– the Google thing is worse than what he said there– they laugh about that, too. Why? Because it’s a liberal beating up on a conservative, and that’s okay. And whether it’s Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann, it’s the left making fun of someone who believes in the values that built America, that believes in traditional marriage. How outrageous! How bigoted! How hateful that you actually believe that raising children in families with mothers and fathers is something to be encouraged! Just because you hold those opinions you are subjected to the worst form of vulgarity on the internet, on television, on everything else… I wear it as a badge of honor that someone as vulgar and as disgusting and as hate-filled as Dan Savage sees me as Public Enemy #1. To me that tells me I’m doing something right."

"Savage and his perverted sense of humor is the reason why my children cannot Google their father’s name. I took the high road for nearly a decade by not dignifying these mindless attacks, then even defending his 1st Amendment right to spew this filth. And to this day, liberals like Rachel Maddow serve as Savage’s lackeys on national television, pushing his smut."

Oh, Rick Santorum.  You make me want to drink.

Hey guys!  Let's play the Rick Santorum drinking game!

The rules!  Take a drink every time he says:

1.  Dan Savage.
2.  Pervert.
3.  "Santorum."  Ha.  It means poop.
4.  Google.

Take two drinks every time he:

1.  Brings up his children and how they're being victimized.
2.  Blames liberals for his failures.

Today's total:  18.  Michele Bachmann is a lot better at this game.  No wonder she's leading in the polls.  

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Discussion: Celebrity Impact On HIV/AIDS

In a recent Queerty piece, Daniel Villarreal bemoaned the lack of HIV-positive celebrities in Hollywood. At one time, we had a slew of famous people coming out as poz in order to put a face on a deadly disease and give the virus the attention required to halt the spread of a horrible epidemic.

During the '90s, brave men like Rock Hudson came out as HIV-positive and combated the stigma of the disease as being "other." In recent times, who fills this role? We have this notion that HIV is manageable, much like cancer, yet still, there's no-one living openly with HIV who can "put a face on it."

I agree with Daniel. Who really thinks there aren't any celebrities with HIV currently working today?

The conversation evolved off the blog though, and Daniel asked me a complicated question that I've had to address before: Is it really wise to even term HIV manageable? While it's certainly treatable, isn't it counterproductive to prevention to allow educational campaigns to stress that it is no longer necessarily deadly?

The Catch-22, of course, being that hiding that information can promote unnecessary stigma against people living with HIV. So what's the solution?

It's a subject I've had to address before. In May, Dan Savage gave an interview to Hivster in which he rashly claimed that we should be hiding the facts about HIV:

"HIV [prevention campaigns] are fatally compromised, terribly conflicted. They seem designed, first and foremost, to avoid making the already HIV+ guys feel bad about being positive. That fear—that this, that, or the other HIV education campaign might stigmatize having HIV and hurt the feelings of guys who have HIV — is paralyzing and it leads to neutered, ineffective, flaccid campaigns. They can’t say, 'Don’t get HIV! It’s life-altering, it’s hard!' and 'HIV is not big deal! You’ll be fine! Guys with HIV are living wonderful, rewarding lives!' at the same time."

I respond to statements like this very simply: you can't win by lying or hiding the truth. You can't educate with obfuscation. The reason I'm progressive is because I believe in telling the truth. Changing the perception that HIV is manageable flies in the face of the purpose of education and promotes negative stereotypes of people living with HIV.

Is Dan suggesting that we should be making HIV-positive people feel ashamed of their serostatus? I reject that notion, as do most HIV advocates. Stigmatizing poz people as a method of prevention is a dangerous campaign which turns people living with HIV/AIDS into casualties of opinion. Clearly, unfounded bias is in of itself flawed.

Even more simply? People don't say "Oh, well, cancer is manageable. I'm going to go get loaded on carcinogens." I have never ever known someone living with HIV who said "Well, I figured I would just take a pill, every day, for the rest of my life, so catching HIV didn't matter." Really, which HIV prevention programs are saying "HIV isn't a big deal!"?

Finally, the best way to prevent HIV and still mitigate the problem of serophobia is most easily addressed by tailoring campaigns to include the consequences of HIV. While my disease is manageable, there are still serious daily consequences and fears I must face every single day. I take pills, I have side effects, I have to constantly worry about my medical coverage. All year long I have frequent doctor's visits where multiple vials of blood are drawn.

So no, Mr. Savage. HIV prevention campaigns are not flawed by telling the truth. They are perfected by telling the truth. Education cannot be founded on bias and fear campaigns. It is unacceptable to create unreasonable fear through misinformation! Since when is censorship of the facts a tool for HIV prevention?

It only served to underscore Daniel's point: HIV-positive celebrities who come out as poz could provide not only a face that validates the need for prevention (people are still catching it, guys!), but could educate the public as to the consequences of their serostatus. Happily, for people like myself who face stigma related to our disease, this would serve the piggybacked benefit of humanizing once more this virus which has become increasingly "other" with lack of visibility.

Will the Rock Hudson of the 21st century please stand up?

Miami-Dade Adds Transgender Protections To Anti-Bullying Laws

With new amendments to the district's policy, Miami-Dade School District has added transgender protections to its anti-bullying policy.

"Miami-Dade School District, the fourth largest in the nation, has added gender identity to their harassment and anti-bullying policy.

"Equality Florida along with and members of our Miami-Dade Safe Schools Coalition have worked for more than a decade to expand these vital protections and Miami remained one of the few large Florida cities without such a policy, until now."

This brings the number of students protected from bullying to 1.55 million in the state of Florida, representing 60% of the population.  Sweet!

Breaking: DADT Repeal To Be Certified Tomorrow

Sweet Jesus, really?  Finally?  This isn't a joke?

The repeal of DADT seems to have dragged on forever, with the administration even attempting to foil judicial injunctions preventing the discharge of gay and lesbian servicemembers during the repeal process.  However, today we have good news!

"Senior defense officials tell NBC News that the Pentagon will announce tomorrow that both Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and all of the Joint Chiefs have certified that the military is ready to repeal 'Don't Ask Don't Tell.'

"Each member of the Joint Chiefs had to submit a recommendation to Secretary Panetta, indicating that they are far enough in their training to repeal DADT, and that it will not have an impact on military readiness."

After certification, there will be a 60-day period until DADT is forever dead.  I'm getting impatient.  This victory has been too long coming.

VIDEO: We Want Marcus!

Video has been released of the barbarian protest at Marcus Bachmann's counseling practice.  It's pretty damn cute, and at the end, the barbarians ask, "Marcus, what's in your closet?"

Newest X-Men Comic Addresses LGBT Teen Suicide

If you're a gay comic book nerd like me (what blogger isn't) then the X-Men storylines are stories you have likely followed for years.  I myself was an unabashed lover of Storm growing up, cuz I mean, that bitch is a diva:  

Continuing the X-Men's theme as a metaphor for the civil rights struggles of our time, one of Marvel's latest ventures is Generation Hope, a book that describes the trials of mutant teens as they develop their superpowers (read: they find out they're gay) and figure how to integrate into society (read: come out of the closet).  Generation Hope #9, which hits the stores today, was teased by Marvel as follows:

"'OUT, OUT...' This is the X-Men comic that will have people talking for years! Some candles burn twice as bright and half as long. Some candles don't get a chance to burn at all. Generation Hope discover what happens when a light goes out."

In an interview with, the writer, Kieron Gillen, illuminates that it is a reference to the teen LGBT suicide.  

"It was directly inspired by the conversation around the very public gay suicide stories. It doesn't get much more sensitive.

"When the stories [about gay teen suicide] started to break, the first place I heard about it was actually from Fraction. We'd just passed the baton, and he said "If I was still writing the X-Men...". I read the news and could only agree.

"It's not the type of story that fits in any other major superhero book. It's simply not what those books are about. But the X-Men? X-Men is a book about mutants, used as a metaphor about prejudice. And of the X-Men books, Generation Hope is fundamentally about new mutants trying to survive dealing with the fact they're mutants. With the metaphor in place, you can not just do a story about it - I dare say you should tell a story about it. In a real way, it's the sort of story Generation Hope exists to tell. If we can't tell this story and tell it as well as we can, the book may as well not exist."

Awesome.  Now if we could get the cast of X-Men: First Class would do an It Gets Better Video.

I figured I'd take this opportunity (I really love comics) to do a short rundown on the who's who of gay mutants in Marvel continuity:

1.  Northstar

Northstar is arguably the most famous gay comic book character ever, being the first featured in Marvel comics.  He notably also became the first to come out as HIV-positive.  He cured it, naturally, because he was half-fairy.  Whatevs.  He started out a member of the Canadian-based Alpha Flight (Canucks like gays better anyway) but then became an X-Man.

2.  Wiccan

Wiccan, a member of the Young Avengers, is a magic-using son of the probability-changing Scarlet Witch.  He originally was called Asgardian (as a nod to Avenger Thor) but changed his name when he came out as gay and dating fellow Young Avenger Hulkling.  I agree with the name change: it's probably a bit problematic to be gay and have your code name rhyme with Ass-Guardian.

3.  Hulkling

The son of Captain Mar-Vell and a Skrull princess, Hulkling has shapeshifting abilities that allow him to have increased strength and stamina.  Plus, he's a hot blond.  'Nuff said.  

4.  Karolina Dean

Karolina, a member of the Runaways, is a teen superheroine who has solar-based superpowers.  Her storyline began with an unrequited crush on the female lead of her group of teen heroes, but she has since fallen in love with Xavin, a Super-Skrull-in-training.  In fact, much like myself, she has been engaged to her partner.  She is notable for having once been suicidal, even offering herself to a vampire in hopes he would kill her.  After beginning her relationship with Xavin, she has since become much happier.  

5.  Xavin

Xavin, a Super-Skrull-in-training, was pledged at birth to be the husband of the Majesdanian Karolina Dean.  Xavin hit a snag in the road, though, when "Kar" came out as lesbian.  Luckily Xavin can change genders, which I would argue makes her not just a gay superhero, but a transgender one as well.  Xavin tragically left the Runaways title in order to protect Karolina from... um... space cops... and hasn't been heard from since.

6.  Anole

Anole is a mutant superhero associated with the X-men, with the powers of color-changing, a prehensile tongue (don't get pervy, readers) and the ability to crawl on walls.  Since his debut, he has become a fan favorite, as he has evolved in his sexuality enough that it is no longer an issue that plagues, due to his mentorship by the aforementioned Northstar.

There a tons more LGBT characters in comics, but these are certainly the most popular in Marvel.  Their recent storylines, to me, indicate that Marvel is thinking smartly about their audience.  Queers have long loved the X-Men, and now they are getting storylines that touch directly on modern LGBT issues.

Allen West Blames Being A Jackass On Military Background

Allen West is refusing to apologize for his insane, vaguely heteronormative rant that he e-mailed to DNC Chairman Wasserman Schultz, stating that his language stems from his time in the military.  He then signs himself onto the "Maverick meme," saying the gaffe illustrates how he's just not a Washington insider.

Of course, it might not be the best idea for him to remind everyone of his military background, as he was discharged from the military for abusing Iraqis with clear violations of international and US law.

"Funny story, about West's military unit, though. The reason he no longer commands them is that he was forced out of the Army for beating a man in Iraq. After West grew suspicious that an Iraqi policeman was helping terrorists, he ordered his men to abuse the soldier before personally firing his pistol past his head to, well, fearmonger and intimidate the suspect into giving up information. The man was never linked to any attacks and West didn't just own up to his actions, he campaigned on them."

I served in the military as well, and I sometimes do in fact blame my foul mouth on my time spent in that hallowed institution.  Even though respect for all soldiers is paramount as part of the military's creed, we swear like, well, sailors.  

However, I'm not a member of the United States House of Representatives, and when I am (do you doubt it?) I'm probably going to clean up my language.  I know!  Allen West should resign and start blogging instead.  Then you can say whatever the hell you want.  

The Changing Face Of AIDS

Via JoeMyGod, this image has a huge interactive version that allows close inspection of this data compiled from several sources.  Take a gander, it's pretty fascinating.

What I'm Listening To Today

Because I'm going to be in Seattle soon and I'm feeling just a little bit rebellious.

Sounds Like Some "Barbarians" Could Use Some "Discipline"

Maybe Marcus just wants to give us naughty gays a spanking?

In response to Michele Bachmann's weakening rhetoric against gays in an attempt to hide the fact that she's a big ol' hater, Nick Espinosa (the glitter bomber who got Newt Gingrich) led a protest in which he and a crowd of gays dressed as fabulous heathens danced in the lobby of Marcus' counseling practice, scattering glitter and chanting "You can’t pray away the gay — baby, I was born this way!"

It's clear that the LGBT community is not going to let America forget Michele's anti-gay roots.  

Photos via ThinkProgress:

Thanks to reader Charles L. for the tip.

Really, Minnery? Just Shut The Heck Up.

Yesterday Tom Minnery got his ass handed to him by Sen. Al Franken on the accuracy of his testimony, as Focus on the Family's Minnery attempted to assert that one study suggested that children fare best in families with one father and one mother.  Franken, of course, pointed out that the study said children do better in "nuclear family units," regardless of the gender of either parent.

Also, his name and eyes suggest to me that he is part minnow.

T-Minn continued ridin' that crazytrain, commenting on his fuckup by asserting that the study didn't include same-sex couples in that definition.  

"Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., focused on Minnery’s written testimony, targeting one of more than 60 academic citations concerning the positive impact when children have a married mother and father in the home. Franken said he interprets one study’s definition of 'nuclear family' as one that would include same-sex married couples with children.

"Minnery replied after the hearing, 'A careful reading of the study gives no indication that same-sex couples were included; it’s simply silent on the subject. Based on the actual text of the report, a realistic assessment is that silence means absence. This study is one small part the mountain of solid data that demonstrates kids do best with a married mother and father.'"

Disregarding the fact that exclusion of gay couples would entirely invalidate the study from the gay marriage debate (how can you say that straight couples are better when you don't compare them to the alternative, T-Minn?), the lead author of the study actually supported Franken's criticism and stated that families headed by gay couples were included in the study's definition of "nuclear family."

"'Sen. Franken is right,' the lead author of the study told POLITICO. The survey did not exclude same-sex couples, said Debra L. Blackwell, Ph.D., nor did it exclude them from the 'nuclear family' category provided their family met the study’s definition.

"The study’s definition of nuclear family is: 'one or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents of all the children in the family.'

"That means the study does not provide evidence that straight couples’ children necessarily fare better than same-sex couples’ kids, as Minnery claimed."

I like that this comes out after Minnery claims he "carefully read" the study, as if Franken did not.  Here's what's funny about the debate on gay civil rights: the opposition would like America to believe that their argument is based in rationality and common sense, while the left is attempting to obfuscate and discriminate against the concept of "family."  The truth?  Critics of marriage equality are study speed-readers hoping no-one will notice that their rhetoric flies in the face of science, compassion, and respect for American families.

Puppet Love

The off-Broadway show Avenue Q has been widely popular and is in its second year of its run.  The gay-theme musical is now celebrating marriage equality in New York State by announcing the wedding of two its puppet characters, Rod and Ricky.

"'To have this finally happen for us—especially so soon after Will and Kate—is unbelievable to me,' Rod said in a statement released by the production. 'I realize there are a lot of broken hearts out there now that Ricky and I are off the market—step back, all you chorus boys!—but I've known since Day One that Ricky is the husband for me. He's the furry fellow I want to spend my life with both on and off the stage.'"


Beyonce "Flash Mob"

So, Target is horrible for giving money to anti-gay candidates, fine.  In addition, I think a "flash mob" to promote single sales in a retailer is less flash mob and more "filming a music video in public."  However, this video promoting Beyonce's new single is still pretty cool.

UPDATE:  Reader Nathanael K. points out that Todrick Hall, who's in the video, is a former grifter who's scammed children out of money by accepting payments to cast them in musicals and then refused to give them parts.  Wrong is scrawled all over this video.

New Political Movements: Divisions Within The Democratic And Republican Parties

We normally think of Ebert as a movie critic, but he occasionally writes pieces on the real world and has a humdinger up on his blog for the Sun-Times in which he surmises that the Republican party, fragmenting and non-relevant, is doomed to the pages of history alongside the Whigs and the Prohibition Party.

"What I read,and hear is that the Republican Party is abandoning its hopes of speaking for a majority of Americans. It will still win elections. It controls the House. Perhaps it will elect the next President. But steadily and fatally it is moving out of history."

Why are the Republicans doomed?  Ebert suggests that their rhetoric and policies have fallen drastically out of step with mainstream America and just about every issue on the board.  He identifies 10 different key "trigger issues" that are dividing the Republican voter base, sounding a death knell for the GOP.

I took most interest in two issues, financial reform and of course, gay rights.

"Financial Reform. It is obvious to anyone who cares that the housing crisis and market collapse were brought about by greedy and dishonest actions by the big banks, Wall Street trading firms, and their unholy co-defendants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Yet attempts to regulate these industries are staunchly opposed by Republicans (and some Democrats). Now that there's clear evidence that firms recommended their clients buy mortgage-based securities that they themselves had devised to fail, why haven't we seen a parade of criminal cases?

"Gay Rights. The enormous shift in public opinion on these issues is not reflected by many leading Republicans, who must heed the beliefs of the religious right. Consider that Michele Bachmann, said to be leading in some primary polls, subscribes to the belief of her husband that homosexuality is a treatable condition. Despite the dogma of the Tea Party that the government must not invade our private lives, they have no hesitation in dictating what we may do between the sheets. A great many conservatives and Republicans must be homosexual. Many GOP candidates do not speak for them."

All in all, I found it to be a very smart and comprehensive piece of prose.  I, like Gaius Publius of AMERICAblog, think that there are divisions on the left as well.  There are hard-line Democrats (think staunch Obama supporters) and then there are Progressives.  Progressives, like myself, are firm on liberal issues and not afraid to criticize Democratic leadership for failures to cleave to those ideals. 

Are we, then, the liberal answer to the Tea Party?  It's clear that these divisions are not as deep or as noticeable as on the left.  After all, the left does not subscribe to religious or dogmatic extremism, and strives for inclusion, not exclusion.  However, within every political party there must be a movement to remind leadership "Hey!  You've strayed from our message."  

I believe the Tea Party started as that movement for the GOP.  Since then it has devolved into the worst sort of rabid invective and demagoguery, and I can't help but agree: this is a sign of times to come, when we will no longer have this two-party circus that has lost sight of the ideals that birthed their movements.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Geek Shit Wednesday Vol. XVII

Dawn Spacecraft To Visit Giant Asteroid

Vesta, the solar system's second heaviest asteroid, is due to be visited by NASA's Dawn spacecraft at 1:00 AM EST on July 16th as the exploratory vessel slides into orbit to begin a year of gamma ray and neutron surveys from 9,900 miles above the asteroid, which has a circumference of 329 miles.

"'It has taken nearly four years to get to this point,' said Dawn project manager Robert Mase of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in a press release. 'Our latest tests and check-outs show that Dawn is right on target and performing normally.'

"Dawn navigated toward the asteroid belt, a space rock-rich zone between the solar system’s inner and outer planets, using gravitational energy from Mars and by firing its ion-powered thrusters. Its arrival at Vesta is expected at 1:00am EDT on July 16.

"It will take 10 minutes and 30 seconds—the time it takes light from Vesta to reach Earth—for engineers to know if the operation succeeded."

After the survey of Vesta, Dawn is due to fire its thrusters and move on to the massive asteroid Ceres, which is so large it is referred to as a "dwarf planet."  NASA hopes to capture invaluable data from the trip, as Ceres is suspected to contain water ice and have active mud volcanoes. 

Army Testing Smartphones As Alternative To Proprietary Tech

The United States military, with its vast budget, is continually testing new expensive technology to make navigation, tracking, and reporting easier on the battlefield.  I was constantly astounded at the price tag associated with the equipment I worked on during my time in service, with simple radios (that never worked) costing in the tens of thousands of dollars.  

Often, the civilian tech market seizes a military tech concept and then markets it for civilians.  However, with increasing budget concerns in 2011, the military is now testing a simple device that has made a hit with every cell-phone user in America: smartphones.

"The results have been promising, according to program director Michael McCarthy, stating that younger soldiers who grew up with smartphones and handhelds are very comfortable using them for military purposes.

"Soldiers in the field can text GPS coordinates, send pictures of their surroundings, or file common reports directly from their phone."

The project has run across some problems, most laughably the fact that the service coverage of the iPhones tested was spotty at best in testing zones in New Mexico and Texas.  However, this seems like a cheap solution to a very expensive problem.

Even Amid TV And Twilight Madness, Comics Rule Supreme At Comic Con

Comic Con is the biggest geek convention of the year, having attracted comic nerds for four decades to San Diego California.  However, sometimes the convention sees an increased presence of other media shown on the floor, with Twilight-mania notably infecting this year's gathering.

However, comics still reign supreme, as they appear to be the media that binds the geekier aspect of the entertainment industry together.

"'The comics are what I like to call the gooey center of all pop culture,' said Joe Field, who owns a comic book store in Concord, Calif., and has gone to the convention annually for the past 25 years.

"'Movies, TV and video games all spin out of the creativity of telling stories with words and pictures,' said Field, who founded the industry's annual Free Comic Book Day. 'That's why the San Diego Con has become this sort of beehive of pop culture activity, because comics are really the genesis of visual entertainment.'"

Ugh.  I intend every year to go and never end up doing it.  Someday, Comic Con, someday.

Congressman Allen West Gets Cranky, E-mails Ridic Tirade To Coworker

I once got fired in a corporate environment for calling someone a "dumbass" using company e-mail.  Luckily for Representative Allen West (R-FL), he gets to keep his job after firing off a monumental hissy fit to DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz after she repeated Democratic stances regarding his attacks on Medicare.  She made the statements after he had left the House floor, and boy did he get mad!  First, her remarks on the floor via Politico:

"'The gentleman from Florida. who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries, unbelievable from a Member from South Florida,' Wasserman Schultz said, saying the legislation 'slashes Medicaid and critical investments essential to winning the future in favor of protecting tax breaks for Big Oil, millionaires, and companies who ship American jobs overseas.'

"Her criticism of the legislation -- more or less what most Democrats are saying today -- provoked a furious response. West copied members of House Republican and Democratic leadership on the email, as well as his chief-of-staff, Jonathan Blyth."

His e-mail is TRULY hilarious.  He calls her vile, despicable, and then tells her she is NOT a Lady.  

"Look, Debbie, I understand that after I departed the House floor you directed your floor speech comments directly towards me. Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional ,and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up. Focus on your own congressional district!

"I am bringing your actions today to our Majority Leader and Majority Whip and from this time forward, understand that I shall defend myself forthright against your heinous characterless behavior……which dates back to the disgusting protest you ordered at my campaign hqs, October 2010 in Deerfield Beach.

"You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!"

Golly gee whiz!  Did he really tell Debbie to shut the heck up?  Such shocking language!  

Aside from the fact that he chose to criticize her ladyhood, thus reinforcing stereotypical ideals of how a lady should behave, he is overreacting, using childish language, and being incredibly unprofessional.  Plus, I laughed super hard at his e-mail.  I kinda want to get elected to office just so I can piss him off and watch my e-mail inbox fill up with his hilarious batshittery.