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How's that for deliberately provocative? Yesterday, in the midst of the healthcare meme spreading across Facebook, I posted, Heather Rose Jones considers online memes of the form "post x in your journal in support of y" to be rather unproductive and largely meaningless. Furthermore, my opinions and positions on Issues Of The Day are too complex and nuanced for a facebook post (or a bumper sticker). Therefore, my lack of participation in online memes or opinion surveys should not imply any particular position or lack thereof. In the ensuing comment thread, I noted that if I put forth a more nuanced opinion, it would be in LJ. Having an hour or so to kill....

Having provided the hook, I shall now duck behind a cut, because this is likely to go on for a while. )
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On that Prop 8 thing ... the thing is, the realistic expectation was that they'd uphold the proposition but also uphold the existing marriages. That wasn't any big surprise. What was somewhat surprising was the amount of effort their decision put into squeezing the effects of Prop 8 into as small and restricted a space as possible. Having read through the text of the decision (well, ok, I skimmed large sections of it, but I did go through the entire 136 pages), it seems to me that this is a court that would have loved to have tossed P8 out entirely but they simply couldn't make that work. Instead, they came up with the most restrictive possible interpretation to uphold and then more or less laid out the agenda for how marriage equality supporters should proceed. I.e., force the legislature to actually provide an option identical in substance to "marriage" (but called ... Fred ... or George ... or something) and litigate the heck out of any actual functional differences. Find some same-sex couples married in other states (both before and after passage of P8) who have become residents of California and demand a clear explanation of whether California is going to recognize them as married-by-that-word and whether California is going to treat two couples differently, both with identical marital status in their state of origin, based on when their marriages occurred in relation to P8.

And in the meantime, maybe Obama will grow a backbone and do something about DOMA and DADT.
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The whole Prop 8 thing starts again tomorrow at the CA supreme court. So I'll indulge in just one related head-scratcher before returning to silent fuming and angsting. There's this one alleged "compromise position" that I regularly see people suggesting, apparently based on premise that people who oppose same-sex marriage (hereinafter abbreviated as SSM) are more hung-up on the "marriage" part than the "same-sex" part. That position is some variant on "we should cede ownership rights over the word 'marriage' to religious institutions: the state should perform only civil unions and only religious institutions should be able to create 'marriages'."

Setting aside the long prior history of persecution by the anti-SSM folks who now claim that it's only the use of the word 'marriage' that bothers them. Setting aside the curious absence of any history of these same people objecting to pairs of atheists or non-church-goers using the word 'marriage' for their civilly-sanctioned unions ... as long as it's an opposite-sex pair. Setting aside the question of how the government could cede ownership of the definition of a word to the class "religious institutions" without violating the establishment clause. Setting aside all other questions, I have to wonder whether the folks suggesting this "compromise" are stupid or disingenuous.

Has it not occurred to them that there are religious institutions that have no problems with blessing and solemnizing the unions of same-sex couples? And therefore that this "compromise" would not in the least satisfy the anti-SSM people because there would still be large numbers of same-sex couples who would "own" the label "married"?

Has it not occurred to them that this "compromise" would remove ownership of the label "married" from vast numbers of opposite-sex couples in state-sanctioned unions who chose not to involve a religious institution in that union? And that these two effects in combination, rather than decreasing the number of people unhappy with the state of affairs, would vastly increase that number?

Or do they think that somehow the category "religious institutions" to whom they want to cede ownership of the word 'marriage' would automagically be interpretable as "those religious institutions who would never ever actually apply the word marriage to same-sex couples"?

Am I missing something?
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I'm way behind the wave with my inauguration day blogging, but what the heck. I watched the ceremony on the tvs in the company cafeteria -- the place was packed (and a number or regular morning meetings were cancelled so people could watch). Definitely a good "community" experience and lots of cheering. Random loves: when the quartet was playing, I loved watching how much Yoyo Ma was enjoying himself. Loved Aretha's hat. Loved watching those powerful California women during the march of the politicos (even if I don't always agree with their political stands). Loved Obama's speech. Loved that we once again have a president who knows how to use language not simply as a tool in the hands of a master craftsman but as a brush in the hand of an artist. Love getting reacquainted with that thing called hope.
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Call me crazy, but I'm sitting here listening to the radio, singing along with Pete Seeger and bawling my eyes out.
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For those who like taking all those amusing little quiz memes, try this quiz on U.S. civics issues that I ran across via Daily Kos. I'm rather proud to have gotten 32 out of 33 questions right (and the one I missed was because I accidentally second-guessed myself ... but on the other hand, some of the ones I got right were because I'm good at analyzing multiple choice questions). You won't get clever results to post in your journal, but you can find out how you stack up against the average respondent in their original survey.
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Started off the day taking BART downtown to the anti-8 rally. Definitely more a "rally" than a "protest". It being downtown Oakland, pretty much nobody was around on a weekend morning other than the rally attendees and a handful of bored police standing around in clumps. There was a somewhat random progression of speakers and it went on far beyond a critical mass of enthusiasm, with people drifting off while there was still no end in sight. For me the highlight was our newly-elected (lesbian) city councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan putting in an appearance, but she was the only official presence while I was there. (And since she isn't actually in office yet, I'm not sure she counts as "official".) The plaza out in front of Oakland city hall is a sunken semi-circular amphitheater around a raised "speakers platform". Great for photo-ops and press conference backdrops, but I kept feeling that having Greek-theater seating for a protest rally tended to suck a lot of the energy out of the crowd. It had more of a concert in the park feel -- abetted by the 80-degree weather. Lots of couples with young children, which sort of puts the lie to the whole "it's all about protecting the children" thing. I snapped some phone-pictures but don't think I got any good shots except for some generic crowd scenes.

I left with things still going on sometime after 1pm and took BART over to SF, ending up at Borderlands Books for [ profile] anghara's reading, where I also got to meet [ profile] brooksmoses and [ profile] suzimoses in person for the first time. *waves*


Nov. 9th, 2008 04:26 pm
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Today it's finally been cold enough that I've thought about lighting the pilot in the furnace and adjusting the thermostat. I'll probably leave it for another week or so. I think my general pattern is to turn it on during the week before Thanksgiving (so that the cat doesn't freeze if we get a real cold snap while I'm off at Darkovercon).

Yesterday was the Principality of the Mists Bardic competition, which is always a treat for the various senses. Auditors outnumbered competitors 2:1 in the competition for the next principality bard (although, as [ profile] klwilliams noted, "auditor" is an inapt name for a performer, despite the clear motivation for the use of the word for "participant not for official credit"). It's nice having the option of auditing (I'm even thinking of putting together an auditor-set next year) since it fills out the amount of available performance nicely and gives people a chance to "practice" for the competition. But it is a bit odd to have 4 auditors and only 2 actual competitors.

The dinner at the event was delicious and nicely paced, although I'm still quite curious to know more details about the dishes that were served. The menu was advertised as Russian and, although it isn't an area I've done any specific research in, my impression is that our knowledge of period Russian cooking is sketchy and largely extrapolative. I've gotten spoiled by having my SCA feast menus come with footnotes and references!

My body has finally gotten used to the new morning schedule (although the end of daylight savings time helped immensely) and I'm no longer quite as groggy going out the door. Or quite as tempted to stay up evenings at my old schedule. It's a different experience at the new gym -- lots more people, of course, and while I'm on the elliptical I get a birds-eye view of folks on the climbing walls. To the extent that I can see anything with my glasses off. It drives me too crazy to have my glasses bouncing around on my nose on the machine, which is unfortunate because otherwise it would be a great time to get some reading in. Instead I keep searching for new and interesting podcasts. I could wish that there were a better business model for "renting" audio books in a portable form. As a general practice, I'm not interested in buying audio books that I'm only going to listen to once. I've done a little research on the topic, and you can find web sites that will "rent" you a listen, but only while directly streaming it from the site. So I'd have to have an audio device with a wifi connection. Maybe someone will come up with the equivalent of iTunes movie rentals, although I'm aware that there are some significant logistical issues with that model.

I'm still ruminating on political topics. I'd love to have some in-depth philosophical discussions about racial issues around Obama's presidency but I haven't yet found a "safe" forum where I, as a white person, wouldn't feel like a bull in a china shop talking about it. And I'm trying to "move on" with regard to Prop 8 but I have to say I'm getting sick and tired of hearing apologists wring their hands over how the No on 8 side wasn't sufficiently energetic in begging people to please please give us our rights. No minority ever got equal rights by waiting for the majority to hand them over. Our best bet has always been to convince the courts to rule as justice demands and let the bigots catch up in their own time. But enough.
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Is it worse to have enjoyed a golden summer of possibility only to be kicked in the teeth and sent back to the back of the bus? Yeah, I'm bitter. Bitter about vote numbers that are an order of magnitude better than the last time my potential right to marry came up on the ballot. But this time they're taking some thing away, not simply moving the goal line out farther. Oh, sure, I'd feel a lot worse if Prop 8 had been defeated but McCain had been elected. Don't interrupt my bitterness with rationality. My current fantasies are all turned towards the scenario where the state supremes say, "Ok, we told you that you couldn't treat same-sex and opposite-sex couples differently with respect to marriage. You want to take away some people's marriages? You have to take away everybody's marriages." None of this pussyfooting around about constitutional conventions and whatnot. Just a flat-out ruling that "equal protection" still means something.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go join a political protest in SF. (I'll be a little late arriving, but I moved my workout to after work so I could sleep in after going down to [ profile] scotica's place for an election-watching party last night. One still needs one's priorities.)


Oct. 10th, 2008 10:01 pm
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Whatever the calendar may say, today was the first day of Fall for me. We had one of those Arctic October winds blowing through, doing its usual thing of whipping up enough dust and whatnot to give me a splitting sinus headache. And to round off my "weather and earthquakes" topic tag, we had a cute little 3.1 movement right at the end of the workday -- just barely enough to make the disco ball in the office sway a little. (Don't ask.)

It looks like I've successfully shifted my gym routine to mornings. It took me a couple of days to get completely with the program, but the issues were things like "must remember to pack comb" and "figure out misleading settings on elliptical equipment" rather than having problems dragging myself out of bed at 6am. The circadian rhythm is still working on getting caught up, but the key thing is making sure I get to bed earlier.

Got my absentee ballot in the mail yesterday. I only have a few of the local races to do some research on before filling it out. Then I can try to ignore all the politicking for a while, except as bad theater. Gah! I hate what US politics have turned into.
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Yay for the California State Supreme Court.

Still working on the whole finding-the-woman-of-my-dreams side of the equation.
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I did another experiment in chestnut flour puddings last night (courtesy of the bag of very very ripe mangoes in the discount produce bin at Berkeley Bowl):

Mango-Chestnut Pudding )

Musings on presidential politics )

Grumpy now

Aug. 3rd, 2007 10:01 am
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It takes a bit for a morning to recover from being woken up at 5am by explosions and flashes of light several blocks over. But you just might think that when you call 911 to report said explosions and flashes of light, the dispatcher might have the courtesy (and knowledge) to say, "Don't worry, it's police action -- we already know about it" rather than saying, "We'll send a car out to look into it." Because in the latter case, one tends to lie awake for the next hour wondering what's going on and why there aren't any sirens and so forth. And then when one finally gets back to sleep, one tends to oversleep and have strange dreams about kittens jumping out of their skins (literally). For full details, plug the phrase "Your Black Muslim Bakery" into your favorite on-line news search engine and keep in mind that they're located two blocks from my house.


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