Wednesday, September 29, 2010


That's my new word for straight people who are totally cool/comfortable with gay people. strays.

Anyway, quick story--I was dancing at a gay bar this weekend and overheard the following:
stray guy to gay guy, "Is this what it's like for you at straight bars?"
gay guy to stray guy, "No. You're having fun."

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Bruce Bartlett, domestic policy advisor to President Reagan and Treasury official under Bush I keeps a blog. Recently, he posted a table showing how Reagan got the economy stimulated in the early eighties.

For any Republican running for office today under the auspices of deficit reduction WITHOUT raising taxes, it makes for an interesting chart. For anyone wondering what we should do today, it makes for an interesting read. The main point? Here he writes it best himself:
It may come as a surprise to some people that once upon a time in the not-too-distant past Republicans actually cared enough about budget deficits that they thought raising taxes was necessary to bring them down.

free speech and subsidized faith

In yet another example of someone who doesn't understand the difference between freedom of speech and freedom from repercussion, about one hundred pastors will endorse candidates from the pulpit this coming weekend in order to challenge the law saying non-profits and churches (both tax exempt) cannot directly endorse candidates.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a group of lawyers who argue on behalf of perceived persecution of Christians plan on defending the pastors when they, inevitably, go to court. One of the ADF spokesmen is quoted as saying,
We believe that a pastor has a right to speak whatever he believes without fearing the government will somehow censor what he says or threaten to take away his tax exemption.

The group of pastors will record their sermons and send them to the IRS in an attempt to bait a lawsuit believing they can challenge the law, and win, in Federal Court. The law has been on the books since 1954. My question is, if it is "unconstitutional" for the state to say tax-exempt status is dependent upon not engaging directly in politics, why is it not "unconstitutional" for churches to have tax exemption to begin with? They are some of the largest, most influential businesses and land-holders in America and we currently gain no tax revenue from them.

A group of monks in planning on building a rather large, gaudy monastery in Wyoming and neighboring ranchers are upset. They believe the monastery will adversely affect the environment, traffic and the area. One clear thinking woman said,
"The plans look like someone took an old cathedral and just dropped it onto our beautiful landscape. As their contribution to this community will be prayer rather than property taxes the town will take a large loss on the currently paid property taxes. As for prayer, I am sure we are all grateful for that but are capable of doing that ourselves."
Think about that. Every down-town church, mosque, and synagogue including Saint Patrick's in NYC and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in downtown Los Angeles occupies land which would otherwise be used to generate revenue for the city and state through taxes and commerce. Instead, we subsidize these organizations by saying they do not have to pay taxes. Maybe it's time we re-think this?

The articles I discuss are here and here.

Friday, September 24, 2010

No Mosque at Ground Zero

There are so many things to say about this political ad, I don't know where to begin. The gross misunderstanding of history? The gross bigotry of equating Islam with Terrorists? Or the idea that she has a good chance of actually writing legislation for the United States of America?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chambliss Ad (Cleland)

Saxby Chambliss ran against Max Cleland, a multiple amputee Vietnam War Vet, by questioning his courage.

Now, a day after voting AGAINST Don't Ask/Don't Tell, someone in his office sent an email to Gay rights activists stating, "All fags must die."

Why am I not surprised that like attracts like?

addendum: Chambliss fired staffer and called blogger to apologize. Good on him.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


SEN Lindsey Graham:
You're trying to check a box with the Hispanic voters on the Dream Act . . . this is using the defense bill in a partisan fashion that hasn't been done before.

The DREAM Act would allow a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who were brought here as children if they were to provide military service or complete higher education (simplified explanation). This seems, to me, to be a fair minded and decent thing to do. There is no statute of limitations on illegal immigration (putting it on par with rape and murder), even though a lot of people never made the choice to break the law themselves. They were brought here illegally by their parents.

People would have us believe that ALL illegal immigrants came over as adults, but that's simply not true. So, what are these people supposed to do? They've grown up in America, they've grown up thinking they're Americans and find out, only as teenagers, that they're not. Go "back" to where they "came from"? They have no "back" to go to...their families are here. Their friends are here. Their lives are here.

So, they go to college or serve our country in the military and gain citizenship. We kill two birds with one stone-we ensure assimilation into the "American way" by civic participation and also push the children of immigrants to better themselves, and their progeny, by asking them to get an education.

I can't see anything wrong with this.

But Graham's assertion that this is just to gain favor with Hispanics is ridiculous. Anyone who believes in immigration reform and that we need to solve the problem of illegal immigration should be a fan of this Act. How Graham is not, I don't understand. But if he thinks voting against it will hurt Republicans with Hispanic voters (who apparently vote in a bloc), he is probably correct, but only insofar as Republicans CAN lose favor with Hispanics, whom they've continually demonized over the years as un-American to begin with. If you've no support from Hispanics to begin with, what is there to lose?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Elizabeth Warren!!

I'm no economist. I need to learn more. But, from what I do know, I know the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a great idea, long overdue, and that tapping Elizabeth Warren to head it is also way beyond its time. Hopefully Dodd doesn't do anything to block this.

A side note--why is it that so many ex-Republican Congressmen, White House Staff, Cabinet members etc. endorse the steps Obama has taken, but not one CURRENT Congressman has. There are really only two options (this isn't, I don't think, a false dilemma, I really think there are only two options):
1. Times have changed so drastically that there is an ideological split between Republicans of two years ago and those of today--including within the ideology of individual Congressmen who have been serving longer than two years.

2. Current Republican Congressmen care nothing for their own ideology but only for the political gain to be had from saying "No." This would explain why people who are no longer in power can say they agree with something while those currently in power have to tow the line on "No."

I won't say which I think is true, but you're more than welcome to guess...

calls to repeal DADT!!!

People often say no one can make a difference. Especially celebrities. Celebrities are all worthless, mindless, uneducated blow-hards, right?

Not always. If you know me, you know I've been a fan of Lady GaGa since I first hated her (when I first saw Poker Face and thought, "wow, what a talentless, pop-culture, 15 min wannabe hack!") I moved on from there as I grew to love our Lady GaGa power-hours in Iraq when we'd play The Fame and people would come to the S2 shop to listen, dance like we were drunk and otherwise pretend we were elsewhere.

Lady GaGa has been outspoken about her support for the LGBT community for a long time. She said so at last year's VMA's and this year outdid herself. Instead of bringing a date, she brought four service members no longer serving because Don't Ask/Don't Tell forbid them from doing so. Some were discharged, some voluntarily left, but all four would otherwise be serving today were it not for this law.

Some said GaGa was using them as props, just to gain attention for herself. But, soon thereafter, if one clicked on, s/he was directed not to Lady GaGa's website, but to Servicemembers Legal Defense Network with instructions to call your Senator and make your voice heard. More than words, GaGa prompted people to action.

But, does that do any good? Does a celebrity have any sway, or is it all just hot air? Enter Lauren and Ellie. Two college aged girls who saw GaGa's call to action and who, were they involved before or not, were spurred to action. But watch the video, not just them. They got their friends. They posted it online. It's now "viral" and people can see how ridiculously easy it is to call your Senator and have your voice heard NOW.

So call. Why not? You've nothing to lose, and so many have so much to gain. Is your Senator on the fence? The lives of SO MANY servicemen and women can be changed for the better with just a phone call from you. So why not do it? Just watch Lauren and's not hard. Really...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Before I get into the topic I'd like to write about, I have an observation: My writing has declined. Not in quantity, but quality. The only excuse I can come up with for this is that I've not read as much as I'd like to recently, and I don't "think" too often, or too hard, lately. I had a professor years ago who started the class by telling us that "Good writing is good thinking." So, I'm not thinking like I once did, and I apologize for that.

Now, onto the topic I was thinking about today...

I went to a movie with a friend on Sunday and on the way to the theatre, I kept commenting on cool things I'd see. A mural here, some amazing architectural shadows and light there, a sculpture, old signage for hotels...Tucson is full of oddly beautiful things. But my friend, Will, he had never noticed. He's from Tucson.

I started to think about how every time I've gone on vacation, I've gone to where someone lives. Barcelona, Vicenza, Rome, Belize, Las Vegas, Montreal...all these places that seemed amazing and foreign to me are actually inhabited and frequented and, I'll assume, ignored, by the people who live there.

It was kind of a wake-up call to me to start remembering to always try and use "new eyes" wherever I go next, be it Kansas or Germany, to remember that wherever I go, there are things of beauty and things to inspire--just so long as I don't overlook them.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


David Guetta recorded a song with the lyrics, "All the crazy shit I did tonight--those will be the best memories for me. I just want to let it go for the night. That will be the best therapy."That song was my theme song before I left Austin and I was going crazy-go nuts, and this is my first weekend in Tucson that has measured up. (A quick aside, I remember my first weekend off after Basic Training. My friend Justin Beierman, from the midwest with a very Minnesota accent, came up to me to ask, "Hey, Harmon, are you going to lose your god-damned mind this weekend?" echoing one of our Drill Sergeants' favorite things to yell at us.)

It all started Friday night when I finally got to hang out with Will again. Our schedules and the geography make it fairly difficult for us to find time to hang out, but we were finally able to marry things up on Friday night. He had a couple of parties to attend and was nice enough to invite me along. So, I came out to Tucson and we went to dinnerand then we began the Tucson party circuit.

Here's where the weekend began to get interesting. I completely forgot that Will, being in college, has a different peer group than I, when it comes to age. The difference being...well...he has friends who aren't yet 21 and I have no for some time (well, minus one). Anyway, we went to the first party, a margarita mixer, was held at a really sweet apartment that was carved out of some spare square footage at a day-care center. Thismade things interesting when the cops showed up because someone called that people were "breaking into the day care center". So, the cops show up and there are a bunch of kids drinking and dancing in, what appears to be, a day-care center.
Will, his friend and I leave the day-care margarita mixer and head to house B for a house-warming for five college aged girls who just moved into a house. I could tell where this party was because the crowd had spilled onto the street about two doors down in either direction. I knew at this point it was probably NOT going to last too long. We grabbed a bottle of vodka I had purchased as a house warming gift and made out way in.

Before even making it to the door, we were approached by a drunk sentry co-ed (you know, the girl who's drunkenly decided it was her duty toensure no one else uninvited shows up, but who was simultaneously too drunk to walk straight or recognize a face). She asked who we were there to see, we told her, and she knew the girl. She looks back at the party and says, "'s not this house." We walk past her and into the party to be greeted by a rather adorable Tia and Tamara look alike who Will works with. She ushers us into the holy-of-holies of a College party--the hidden alcohol--where we beginto dole out shots of vodka to those deemed worthy.

There was a keg, which was floated, and promptly replaced by some benevolent kid and keg-stands began. I had never seen one of those up close...interesting. Anyway, Will went out to get some chapstick from the truck when suddenly people started to freak out. Apparently a cop had come. The doors were locked, cups were thrown away, alcohol was hidden and everyone sat down and tried to be very, very quiet. A guy who had passed out and people had written in marker all over his face didn't know what was going on and walked outside directly into the cop's perch where he was immediately ticketed. (I wonder if he was arrested, if they'd have cleaned off his face BEFORE the mug shot).

Anyway, we waited out the cops, and I took Will and his friend home.

The next morning began the UA/CItadel football game. I went to Caleb's house where I met his two friends from Oregon, AJ And Taylor. We made some vodka/lemonade drinks and began swimming. Taylor made guacamole which put mine to shame and we listened to GaGa while swimming and prepping ourselves for what we knew would be a football blowout. Sean, Stu, Caleb, Taylor, AJ and I then went to the tailgate party at the school. We met up with Ashley there and had some jello shots and I shotgunned my first beer (or, more appropriate, I had my first shotgunned beer), most of which ended up on my shirt.We went to the game for a bit and left early to go swimming again, and then...out to the bars.
The bars went as expected and afterwards, Will and I met up with his friends G, Lanie and Evyn. We were up until about four in the morning listening to techno, being dazzled by laser lights and otherwise just chillen. Lanie, was absolutely transfixed by the pomp with which a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue was packed (lined in silk, the bottle looks almost religious in its vestments).

There is much, much more to explain about that part of the night that I'd like to share, but will definitely need to keep close hold. Needless to say, it was another night of firsts and another night of memories.

Best part? We topped off the weekend with Brunch at the Rincon Market...DELICIOUS!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Internet drama and flame wars...

I've been "online" (ie. I've had an internet presence in social networking and/or blogs) for about seven years now. I believe freshman year is when I first started, maybe on Friendster. Over the years, I've met some good friends, I've read some interesting things and I've had a lot of fun.

However, I'm not vacuous enough to think that my online persona is a real person. It's a part of me, a small part, that you (my loyal fans) get to read/see. It's what I allow you to see.

The problem with this is twofold. First, there are people who think e-life is "real". It is not. Second, people fill in the blanks with what they hope is true, or fear is true, but don't know what IS true.

I shall elaborate:

Many years ago, I started a support group for people in the military going through various issues. It was just a network, that was it. Kind of akin to inviting everyone over to my house from the Army who I knew had lost a parent, but instead of my house, we had an internet space. That group grew to a few hundred and, because my face was on the "moderator" part of the group, people would "friend" me. That was all fine and dandy until people started to think we were really "friends". They would confide in me, things I didn't need to, and sometimes shouldn't, know. They would come to me for advice, personal and professional. They would be offended or happy if I did or didn't write. Their lives, it seemed, weren't augmented by the internet...they WERE the internet.

Likewise, now on Facebook, I delete people at random. Why? Because I feel like it. I don't want 1000 friends. I want...however many friends I know and see on the daily, or, at least, talk to on the daily. Why? Because I'm not delusional. If I'm sitting at home for days on end with nothing to do because I'm alone here in Sierra Vista, what good does it do me to have 1000 friends? None.

"But," you ask, "we are close! We can go months without talking and pick up right from where we left off, we are REAL friends!" This, you see, is possibly true. But that doesn't mean I want to know where you went to lunch, what time you went to sleep, what workout you did, who you saw on the subway etc. etc. So...deleted. Does this mean I don't like you as a person? Is it a value judgement? No. It means that while I like you as a person, I don't find your internet persona adds anything to my life.

Now we get to the second part. Where people who know me only from the internet develop feelings, positive or negative, about me as a "person". This normally takes the form of too long email exchanges with people I've never actually met, or flame wars with people I've never met either. In these situations, emotions get high (normally on the other side since, as I've stated, I'm pretty emotionally detached from the internet as an ACTUAL identity). It is entirely too easy to fall in love, or hate, or disdain or awe for someone whom you really don't know.

That being said, this rant is over.

Remember people, the internet is NOT real life. Your online friends AREN'T real friends. Your real friends are real, and if you're lucky enough for them to be online, good on you, but don't confuse the two. For those of you with whom I am a REAL friend and a REAL person, I look forward to seeing you as soon as possible, even if (but hopefully not) that is after years and years of internet and phone silence. We will get together, swig a beer and toast to the intervening years and the future to come.

Ha ha...purposely timed email as addendum (names redacted). Seriously...I just got this in the email:
Imagine my surprise when I searched your name in my friends and couldn't find you. Don't preach to me about bullshit like facebook etiquette. But rude is rude- online or in the flesh. I looked through our mutual friends and there is NO way you talk to all of them on a monthly basis. That's bullshit and you know it. I have plenty of friends on facebook that I don't talk to but I know they check out my page so it doesn't bother me. All of my close friends are also my friends on facebook though so I can always easily check up on where they are and how they are doing without being intrusive.

Anyways, forget it. I shouldn't have said anything as soon as I realized you deleted me. In fact, I wish i hadn't searched for you in the first place.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Iftar dinner...

I went to Iftar Dinner tonight at the Chapel on Post and it was one of those "only in America" moments.

You see...I'm an atheist.

I attended the Muslim breaking of the fast dinner...

Hosted by an Orthodox Jewish woman...

Held in a Catholic Chapel.

It was awesome. And the food was great, and the people were a lot of fun. But seriously...can you imagine this happening elsewhere?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

So I'm sitting at work and spent the first hour or so reading my blogs and otherwise messing around online (I wasn't totally shamming, everyone was, we were waiting for the teacher). So, following is the list of interesting things I've read as well as my thoughts about them:
1. Philosophy is Dead. So says Stephen Hawking. I'm not sure I agree with that statement, but he is much smarter than I. What I know I DON'T agree with is the following response from Marylin Robinson:
...this approach to science excludes "the whole enterprise of metaphysical thought", despite metaphysical reflection being a defining characteristic of the human experience.
That idea kind of goes against my strongly held belief that just because people have done or thought something, or some way, forever is NOT a reason to keep doing it as such. There may be some wisdom to it, but there may also be some, possibly even more, in utterly rejecting it.

2. More reason to legalize marijuana: It's NOT a gateway drug.

3. I don't think I have to state unquivically that it's immoral to execute someone who is mentally retarded. Boarderline retarded? Also immoral. This case illustrates why the death penalty is faulty to the point of being immoral on its own. Read about Teresa Lewis.

4. This one bothers me the most. Politics have trumped service in the Senate and the White House. The Judiciary is in crisis because Obama didn't appoint fast enough and because Republicans stalled just to stall. Senator McConnell specifically said he was holding some nominations not because of any issue with the nominee, but to punish Obama for his votes as a Senator. Justice is delayed, our system of public service is broken, the politics are driving this failure. Read about why it won't be fixed here--Obama left Largely Helpless

Thursday, September 02, 2010

my escape

(For the purpose of being inclusive, I will refer to my ex as "Pat", as in "It's Pat", so that both my male and female readers will follow this equally personally.)

I once, five or six months ago, needed an escape. I had been dumped, which happens, but more importantly, I had been hurt, badly. I was lied to, and made to feel it was all my "fault". It didn't end pretty. Other than the death of my father, I can't remember a time I've felt as badly as I did--but unlike my fathers death, this pain was directly caused BY someone. As in, someone CHOSE to make me feel how I did.

So, I found an escape. I wrote more, I made new friends, I hung out in new places and things were good. The friends I made were amazing and are still my friends, and the places and things I did to escape were equally grand.

But, over time, Pat invaded those people, places and things.

And what? What do you do when your "Pat" has become part of your escape? You can't ignore Pat, it doesn't work. Even when Pat's not there, Pat's there. Pat's there in the stories that aren't told (because no one wants to bring Pat up) or the jokes that involve Pat. Pat's on your facebook and photos and everywhere else.

Do you cut your losses and find a new escape? But what about the friends you've come to know and love? You can't throw out the baby with the bath water.

My friend Alex recommended forgiveness. She says that the thing about forgiveness is, it doesn't matter if Pat deserves it or not, it makes you feel better than holding onto hate. But I can't do that yet. I don't know if I ever can. All I can hope for, right now, at least, is that my own Pat just leaves. That Pat's no longer part of my life, my escape or otherwise. That Pat--just isn't.