Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I am currently reading Christopher Hitchens' "Hitch 22", his autobiography (or memoirs...not sure what the difference is).

One of the things that hit me around chapter three was his frank and unabashed discussion of sexual relations when he was in boarding school. It was the type of discussion that was so rare in its candor and unembarrassed admission of homosexual relations (for lack of a better term), that my very shock at the subject matter made me question my previously held notions of open-mindedness on my own part.

In the book, he talks about how, being at a school with all boys, where they were also not allowed to talk to girls, their budding sexual desires were directed toward one another in a non-homosexual way. You'd have to read his book to understand it as he explains it better than I, but the very admission seemed, well, un-American. For some reason, we in America still have some rather Puritanical views of sexuality. The idea that "You can build a thousand bridges, but if you lay one pipe you're not a bridge-builder, you're..."

Anyway, as I was thinking about this, I stumbled upon a blog post in Towleroad in which an actor from Inception (which I've still not yet seen), said the following:
"The 32-year-old Inception star, who is engaged to British actress Charlotte Riley, 28, and also has a two-year-old son with a former girlfriend. But asked if he'd ever had any sexual relations with other men, the broody actor said: 'As a boy? Of course I have. I'm an actor for ****'s sake. 'I've played with everything and everyone. I love the form and the physicality, but now that I'm in my thirties, it doesn't do it for me. I'm done experimenting but there's plenty of stuff in a relationship with another man, especially gay men, that I need in my life. A lot of gay men get my thing for shoes. I have definite feminine qualities and a lot of gay men are incredibly masculine.'

The paper adds: "In an interview with Now magazine, the former party-boy who has battled drink, drugs and crime to turn his life around, added: 'A lot of people say I seem masculine, but I don't feel it. I feel intrinsically feminine. I'd love to be one of the boys but I always felt a bit on the outside. Maybe my masculine qualities come from overcompensating because I'm not one of the boys.'"

For some reason, I can't imagine an American actor making a similar admission. Moreover, it's rare to hear someone who's straight (in the broadest sense of the word) admit to being sexually pliable. What I mean to say is, it's nice to see that it's becoming more acceptable for people to question the status quo, even when it comes to something like sexuality. It's time that we, as a society, either stopped caring altogether who people sleep with (which, for me, seems a far more preferable option), or at least were more open and honest about these things. Hitchens' book and this actors comments are, in my opinion, a step in the right direction.

Mosques and flags

When I first joined the Military almost a decade ago, I did so because I felt a duty to follow in the footsteps, in some way or form, of my father, uncles and cousin. There was a "duty" in the tangible patriotic sense, but also in a less tangible way that focused more on knowing what it was that formed my male influences and why they had done what they did.

The patriotic reasons are very easy to explain and understand even for those who are not in the military. The idea that “freedom isn’t free”, while clichéd , is also true. While I’m sure we all long for a day when a standing military is not a necessity, simply put, that day is not today. If that is true, which I believe it is, then someone needs to wear a uniform, and that someone might as well be me.

I am a liberal, I always have been and probably always will be, although, the definition of “liberal” changes quite often, so maybe I should take some time to define what it is I believe more firmly and then title it something else, like, “Adam-sonian”. I mention this because whenever I hear other soldiers say things about “liberal” in college derisively, or how “celebrities” should shut up, I feel the opposite—hearing people express views different from my own is exactly WHY I wear a uniform.

That being said, lately there has been an anti-Islamic fire burning in America that couches itself in the clothes of Patriotism and it makes me sick to my stomach. The “Ground Zero Mosque” being a prime example of such vitriolic and illogical hate. However, there is one closer to home.

I am from Fallbrook (Avocado capital of the world!) and I just read this morning that there will be a protest against a Mosque in Temecula, close to my hometown. The idea that people will wrap themselves in the flag to protest the free worship of others makes me sick to my stomach. It’s somehow harder for me to turn away from this than it is the Westboro Baptist protestors. At least the Westboro people say they’re un-American. These people wear the red-white-and-blue and claim to be patriots while simultaneously trying to deny the right of Americans their freedom of religion.

I would like to write more about this, maybe a little more personal reflection, but to be honest, I haven’t been as upset by something in quite some time. It’s so blatantly hypocritical, unpatriotic and disgusting that my brain can’t really wrap itself around the fact this is happening in my Country…in my State. Pathetic. If there is a way to support the mosque in Temecula, let me know.

Article here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

broken Dam

A Dam broke in Iowa resulting in massive property value losses.

I won't go into too many more details than that, but they're here in the article I read. The thing is, we were very lucky there wasn't massive loss of life to go along with the monetary damages. There are bigger dams, and many of them are beyond useless, they're problematic, environmentally damaging and expensive. The power they produce isn't worth the costs. But, people love water recreation, so we have these massive manmade lakes (yes, I'm including all the fun I had on the lakes in Austin).

It would be slightly ridiculous to drain them all, but if one breaks, why would the government pay to rebuild it? Home owners take the risk when they choose to buy or build on a manmade lake. The idea that the government would subsidize their risk, either by building a new one or footing the cost through FEMA, seems utterly wasteful. Not just wasteful, but when the funds could be used to revitalize areas that AREN'T as affluent as 500k homes on a lake (ie. dense urban living which is better for the environment, helps more people and would help to rebuild currently crumbling cities), the choice seems clear to me.

Homeowners should eat the costs associated with their risks and if the government is going to spend any money, it should be spent on revitalizing dense urban areas. (repeated myself there, but I figure it drove the point home).

For more on dense urban areas, I suggest perusing Yglesias. I don't always (in fact, maybe only 50/50) agree with him, but his writing about urban centers, government subsidization of suburbs and urban planning are generally spot on.

For more about dams and water resources, this is an amazing book: Cadillac Desert

true religion, or truth about religion

There is a common statement that religions are usurped by those who make false claims in its name. An example would be that Islam is a peaceful religion which is bastardized by terrorists. Or, in America, we often hear that Christianity teaches “X” and those who don’t practice that shouldn’t be used as evidence that Christianity isn’t true.

I’m not sure I believe those arguments any longer. When our teacher said something during our cultural awareness class along those lines, I suddenly had a BGO (brief glimpse of the obvious) that we have switched the rightful order of the above statements. I believe now that the following is probably a more true statement:

Religion teaches nothing. Men teach their ideas and attribute them to religion.

Here is the difference between the two: the first idea assumes that there is a “true” Christian teaching or Islamic teaching or Hindu, Jewish etc. But, there is no one to decide what is or isn’t true of any religious belief. Even within Catholicism, there is difference of opinion. So, men decide what it is they believe their religion teaches, and then claim it in the name of religion.

Notice that, while this has some implications regarding the idea of God, I have not touched upon that idea as of yet. Instead I focus on the idea that religion is created , defined and leveraged by man to his own benefit. So, for us to claim that there is some “pure” and “good” religion, which has only been corrupted by man ignores what I now think is true—that the opposite is true.

Friday, July 23, 2010

today in religious crazy.

Today in religious crazy:
1. India encodes in its legal system rules against Gods owning or trading stock. No, seriously.

2. In Israel, a double hoot!
a. The civil court which oversees who and who has not officially converted to Judaism (because, you know, God wants legal civil authorities to decide who is and is not a "chosen" person") is now under more control by ultra-orthodox jews.
b. And lastly, a Muslim man who lied and said he was Jewish is now in prison for "rape" for lying about not being Jewish.

Is it clear only to me that all of this ridiculousness would go away if we heeded the words of John Lennon? Imagine...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

rewriting history to justify a bias

The National Organization for Marriage (an ironically named group for which the sole intent is to KEEP people from marrying) is on a tour of states to try to raise funds and awareness before a Supreme Court Case they believe is forthcoming.

Their turnout has been low (I don't think more than 100 have shown up at any of their rallies) and at each stop, they've been met by equal or greater numbers of pro-equality protestors.

This is a quote from one of the organizers:
“What if Martin Luther King, Jr. would have listened to those who tried to silence him and tell him that his faith has no place in the public square — that he should be silent? You are a part of a new civil rights group – a civil rights group dedicated to protecting the most fundamental and basic institution known to mankind: marriage.”

This is what I want to discuss briefly, this new, Evangelical belief that marriage is some sort of ancient, unchanging, fundamental building block of society.

Having taken a Sociology course (yes, just one), I know that's not true. The majority of people in the world, both currently and historically, do not practice monogamous relationships (Marriage = 1 man + 1 woman as seen on many poster boards). Throughout history, polygamy is actually the most common form of marital status. It was widespread in the Old Testamant (come to think of it, I'm not even entirely sure when that went away. Does anyone know? At some point in the bible, does God reverse course on this one, or is the conversation about someone asking Jesus about a woman whose husband dies and she remarries and then they all die so who is she married to in that the justification/explanation for why polygamy is bad again?) and it's legal under Islam and various other religious sects.

My point, which has been made far more often by far more people than me, and probably far more eloquently, is just that this whole idea is a modern, western concept. We are now trying to re-write the whole of history to fit our current view to justify biases we hold against gays and lesbians today. If the anti-equality forces were honest in their arguments and simply said, "this goes against Judeo-Christian values held by most Catholic and Protestant denominations," they would at least maintain my respect for intellectually honest. But to try and claim that their worldview is "fundamental" and "historical" is ridiculous in the face of actual historical analysis as well as almost all Sociological evidence as well.

Hell, lately even biology argues against the idea that monogamy is somehow inherent to societal norms...birds do it bees do it...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

preventive health care

There are some questions I'd always thought settled, even in my days of staunch Catholicism. One of those was birth control. While I'd argue ad nauseam against using it, I also knew (or thought I knew) that it was settled law--that birth control was legal, the the government supported it, and that women and men relied upon it.

Apparently I was wrong. While writing the law on health care reform, it appears that Catholic definition and understanding of "birth control" (ie. that basically only natural family planning counted as "control") has inserted itself into the debate. So, while there are literally millions of unplanned pregnancies per year, and many of those will be aborted, there is actually debate right now as to if the government should provide free contraception. (this is, of course, a simplification of all the nuances and legalities, but that's basically what it boils down to). So, that leaves us where?

Some argue that 1. preventing unwanted pregnancies is good and 2. to prevent unwanted pregnancies, we should provide citizens with access to free and affordable contraceptives. Others argue that 1. abortion is wrong 2. preventing unwanted pregnancies is good 3. to prevent them, we should tell people not to have sex.

Again, a simplification, but that's basically what it boils down to.

I posted a quote on my facebook a while back about secularism as the appropriate prism through which laws should be viewed. In this case, it seems obvious to me, but then again, I'm no politician. Here's some more on the subject on Sullivan's blog.


The big spike in 2008 was right before Californians decided that "Inalienable" rights were only inalienable insofar as popular vote decided. So, in 2008, 50.2 percent or so of Californians alienated those rights. It's pathetic that the green is dwarfed by South Africa, by Argentina, and Mexico. It's commendable of those countries, but it's mark of shame on our otherwise freedom loving country.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

moving treasures

When I move, I often throw many things away. I don't keep too many sentimental things--souvenirs, programs etc all get tossed. What I have picked up, and I think I get it from my grandmother, is a habit of stowing things in books. I put them in whatever I'm reading at the time so I don't lose them (letters, photos, business cards) and then they stay there until the book is re-opened.

Below is a list of things I've re-discovered:
1. a card left for me by my ex. It was left when, as I was on vacation, my ex had done my laundry and moved me into my house. The card was placed on top of my mattress, which was made with clean sheets and all. It has a childs handwriting and a picture of a puppy on the front with the inscription, "life is ruff without you here." and the handwritten note (the childs handwriting again) which reads, "it isn't funny, but it made me laugh.

2. a photograph of my father, in Army fatigues (woodlands cammo) wearing First Sergeants rank with a full head of hair

3. a letter from my eldest Aunt on my mom's side, whom I've met only once in memory, but who wrote me coincidentally to say "hello" just before I left for Iraq.

4. multiple letters from my grandmother with her trademark smiley face and inscription, "Jesus Loves You!"

5. a letter I'd received from a girl in Grease with me (1998) with one liners from Christian Rock she listened to including, "a friend's a friend forever!" and "We're all angels born with one wing, so to fly we must hold onto each other!" There are numerous exclamation points and heart-dotted "i's"

6. the MIA home burned CD my first ex gave me on our second date

7. some polaroids of me, Lee, Adam and Stu at DLI (2000-2001)

I often joke about scrap booking, but I'm beginning to realize that, scalloped edges or not, I've been doing it inadvertently for years.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

selection bias

About a week ago, the NYT reported that the "climategate" scientist (whose name I'd forgotten) had been vindicated after the University of Pennsylvania (I could be wrong on the uni) had done an investigation. I sent the article to a friend who wrote something like, "surprise, surprise, a COLLEGE vindicated a scientist in a liberal paper." and discounted it altogether.

In the last couple of days, the independent research group assigned to investigate all of "climategate" came out with their investigation as well, which vindicated the scientists as well as climate change as a whole.

I'm sure this will be poo-poo'd as well, since it relies on research by scientists (ie. intelligenstia elites) as well as a British "Sir" (and we all know that British people are European-ish, and thus liberal).

This is the same friend who, when I told him to donate to "no on 8" years ago responded, "the liberals will all do what Dear Leader Obama wants them to do so it won't pass" and then later when I told him to write the Senators on the Armed Services Committee said something similar about repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

It should be noted that this friend is gay (it makes a difference in this case). Anti-liberal hysteria is such that facts are dismissed and selection bias becomes so absurdly overt that the following categories of information are excluded: anything foreign, anything with "Dr." in front of it (excluding Family Research Council), anything from a news source other than NewsCorps, or anything from a college. All those sources are excluded as valid because they don't conform to the bias already selected as "true" by this individual.

It's sad, but it's also no an isolated event. There are millions of people out there (liberal and conservative) who refuse to see even information as non-partisan. It's ridiculous and, sadly, instead of us moving beyond it, we seem to be delving more deeply into this tribalization of information.

The review is HERE if you'd like to read it.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


GOV Lingle made her decision yesterday to override the decision of the Hawaii legislature to allow Civil Unions. Hawaii has already stated that gays and lesbians aren't good enough for marriage, but apparently the back of the bus is too good for LGBT Hawaiians as well.

Although the bill to allow civil unions passed with 76 members of the Hawaii House and Senate (and veto proof majorities in both), she said that "a decision of this magnitude shouldn't be made by one person."

This argument that civil rights should be put to a vote by "the people" is one of the most ridiculous I continually here parroted by those who are looking for a place to hide their own prejudices. Our democracy was set up to protect against this very tyranny of the majority and protect the rights of the oppressed minority--not to ensure the will of the majority will continually be imposed upon a minority.

The Maui Times created two covers in preparation for today, one which reads "Fail" and the other "Redemption". GOV Lingle has failed Hawaii. She stands now not as a Governor who will be remembered for trimming deficits, but as someone who, in the face of change, obstinately stood on the side of ignorance and political pandering to a base which refused to recognize that ALL people are created equal.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

fashion and asthetics...

I was once a fashionable boy. I say boy because at that time, before the Army, I was much younger and less mature. As I joined the Army, and my time in civilian clothes became less important than my time in uniform, I lost the desire and drive to be fashionable. I became more focused on other areas of my life.

I think this was important, but as I've grown, I'm also beginning to realize that my exterior doesn't match the interior. I am beginning to understand the importance of exercise, of aesthetics, and of packaging. My little sister has quite a bit to do with this, as she is both fashionable, and has a great aesthetic in all she does--design, art, fashion and the like.

That being said, I am trying to develop my own style again, and determine what it is that I like, that is both functional and practical considering my job, location (what one wears in Tucson, AZ is vastly different from what one wears in Austin, TX) while being practical wherever I may go next.

In any case, I've re-discovered denim (thanks Greg) and grooming (thanks to photos of me with massive eye bags).

Below is a link to fifty tips for men I enjoyed and agree with for the most part:
Baxter's 50 style tips