Thursday, June 28, 2012

Words, Weighing us Down

Hello My Friends;

  I just saw a wonderful video.  Small, short, easy.... It talks about how we carry words with us.  They not only impact our moment, but color our day.  They fill us, make us heavy, or make us light.  What words do you carry?  What words do I?
  More important, what words do we inflict upon others?

  At work there is one man who is a classic pain in the butt.  He's a Cliff Claven of Cheers fame.  A social outcast, a gossip who needs to be liked yet doesn't shower or dress well.  He just seems to place himself in the worst circumstances and, by word or deed, digs his holes deeper and deeper.  And yet, he is a man, worthy of respect and care - no matter how difficult I find it to do so in times of frustration with him.  I've been doing my best to always speak well to him.  Because he's aggravating, it's an obvious challenge - like giving up chocolate for New Year's or Lent, or something.  In the process, I've found him still a bit aggravating, but very human. 

  Here is the link to that wonderful video.  It was on Milkboys, so you likely already saw it.  I was touched by it, by the simple message it portrayed.  With such a simple word of Haj (hello) did the colors shine in this one's life.  May we always be aware of our words, and may our words lift our fellow human beings.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Things that make me go hmmmmm?

Hello Friends;

  Don't take this wrong, but for a great part I'm writing you today because I am a bit bored.  Sorry, that sounds horrible, but the thing is I've been working so many hours over the years, only having time off work during holidays - when I often have family obligations or some such.  It is strange for me to not have work to do.  For so long, I worked 6 nights a week, having only one night off, which I used to catch up on my sleep, and in the midst of it all I worked about the house or doing lawn mowing for others.  Then, come Sunday night, I went in early.... it is about that time when I'd normally be heading into work, and I feel wonderful yet out of place not doing so. 

  I was just reading a wonderful story about two men who began to raise a family via adoption.  It was filled with sorrow, joy, love, hope, togetherness and true family.  A great story.  Now, telling you that I am finding myself a bit bored, I anticipate recriminations from Scottie that I should be out enjoying life, experiencing life, meeting people, etc.  I agree... but ...

  So, I guess I'm setting myself up.  I'll hear it from my friend, and I know some of you are thinking the same things.  But, here is my thought that prompted my writing today:  why is it that we work our life away only to find ourselves at a loss when we have moments when we don't have to work?  Does work so define us?  Are we so in need of "constructive" activities that sitting about in the summer breeze is a bad thing?  I don't know.  What I do know is that there is a robin singing away on the fence, and it sounds just wonderful.  Maybe this is the meaning of life?

Men can get raped, too

Hi Friends;

  Below is a very disturbing article.  I would caution callousness towards those portrayed, believing any who live in such an environment worthy of all the depredations inherent.  What I would hope, and with those who read this blog I think I'm safe doing so, is that we remember that not only are these someone's family, but that rarely are these men going to be forever in this environment.  We need to understand that we are responsible for how we treat people in every environment.  The purpose of prison is not only to protect society from crime, but to give the person a chance to pay for his crimes, redeem himself, and reenter society as a good person. 

Christopher Glazer takes to N+1 magazine to argue that we should Raise the Crime Rate.

Statistics are notoriously slippery, but the figures that suggest that violence has been disappearing in the United States contain a blind spot so large that to cite them uncritically, as the major papers do, is to collude in an epic con. Uncounted in the official tallies are the hundreds of thousands of crimes that take place in the country’s prison system, a vast and growing residential network whose forsaken tenants increasingly bear the brunt of America’s propensity for anger and violence.
Crime has not fallen in the United States—it’s been shifted. Just as Wall Street connived with regulators to transfer financial risk from spendthrift banks to careless home buyers, so have federal, state, and local legislatures succeeded in rerouting criminal risk away from urban centers and concentrating it in a proliferating web of hyperhells. The statistics touting the country’s crime-reduction miracle, when juxtaposed with those documenting the quantity of rape and assault that takes place each year within the correctional system, are exposed as not merely a lie, or even a damn lie—but as the single most shameful lie in American life.

From 1980 to 2007, the number of prisoners held in the United States quadrupled to 2.3 million, with an additional 5 million on probation or parole.

Victims in juvenile facilities, or facilities for women, have an even tougher time: usually it’s the guards, rather than the inmates, who coerce them into sex. The guards tell their victims that no one will believe them, and that complaining will only make things worse. This is sound advice: even on the rare occasions when juvenile complaints are taken seriously and allegations are substantiated, only half of confirmed abusers are referred for prosecution, only a quarter are arrested, and only 3 percent end up getting charged with a crime.

In January, prodded in part by outrage over a series of articles in the New York Review of Books, the Justice Department finally released an estimate of the prevalence of sexual abuse in penitentiaries. The reliance on filed complaints appeared to understate the problem. For 2008, for example, the government had previously tallied 935 confirmed instances of sexual abuse. After asking around, and performing some calculations, the Justice Department came up with a new number: 216,000. That’s 216,000 victims, not instances. These victims are often assaulted multiple times over the course of the year. The Justice Department now seems to be saying that prison rape accounted for the majority of all rapes committed in the US in 2008, likely making the United States the first country in the history of the world to count more rapes for men than for women.

America’s prison system is a moral catastrophe. The eerie sense of security that prevails on the streets of lower Manhattan obscures, and depends upon, a system of state-sponsored suffering as vicious and widespread as any in human history. Dismantling the system of American gulags, and holding accountable those responsible for their operation, presents the most urgent humanitarian imperative of our time.

Progressives lament the growth of private prisons (prisons for profit). But it’s sadism, not avarice, that fuels the country’s prison crisis. Prisoners are not the victims of poor planning (as other progressive reformers have argued)—they are the victims of an ideological system that dehumanizes an entire class of human being and permits nearly infinite violence against it. As much as a physical space, prisons denote an ethical space, or, more precisely, a space where ordinary ethics are suspended. Bunk beds, in and of themselves, are not cruel and unusual. University dorms have bunk beds, too. What matters is what happens in those beds. In the dorm room, sex, typically consensual. In prisons, also sex, but often violent rape. The prisons are “overcrowded,” we are told (and, in fact, courts have ruled). “Overcrowding” is a euphemism for an authoritarian nightmare.

While the attempt to count the number of rapes in America’s prisons is new, the problem is not. Alas, it’s one quite unlikely to go away because the overwhelming majority of Americans are perfectly happy to shift the risk of violent crime off our streets and out of our neighborhoods and into walled communities where people regarded as little more than vicious animals are housed. That they face a good chance of being raped while there is variously seen as fodder for jokes, the wicked getting their just desserts, or collateral damage. It’s virtually inconceivable that political will to do something about the problem will coalesce any time soon.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Myth of the Gay Agenda

Hello Everyone;

  This link is for something so profoundly simply, but so very necessary.  I hope you will click on it and watch - I don't think you will be disappointed.
 Sometimes when I reblog a post from Milkboys I feel a bit silly.  They have such a huge readership I can only presume you all have read it.  So, maybe it's just that it interests me and I want to be sure I have a link somewhere so I can find it again.  Maybe there's that one person who missed it on Milkboys and my pointing to it prompts a second look.  Maybe I've just wasted five minutes and should just give you the link and shut up.  Yeah, maybe....  ok, here it is.  It's great, please watch.

The Right to Parent

Hello Friends;

  As many of you who have read this blog know, I have some trigger topics.  Gay rights.  Child rights.
Human rights.  Dogs.  Music.  ..... there's a few more, but those catch my attention.

  This morning I was looking through my email.  I saw an article on Yahoo's front page that caught my eye.  (HERE)  It was about a father losing custody of his children and them coming up to be adopted because of his weight. 

  Now, normally on Saturdays, I am off to a pet rescue adoption event - provided I'm in town.  Today I just don't have the time or the stamina - this new job is wearing me out!  But,  in thinking about this man's rights to have his children, I'm reminded of a conversation I had with Scottie somewhat recently.  You see, to adopt a dog or cat from this rescue organization, there are certain requirements:  One must have a stable home capable of having the animal.  For instance:  placing a high energy large breed in an apartment is a poor combination.   Secondly, if you've had a pet in the past, what vet. was used?  We will check with the vet to be sure there were no abuse issues.  There are costs involved in adopting - mostly to help cover the neuter, shots and microchip - so to a small extent, financial ability to care for the pet is sort of considered.  Long end of the deal:  we want to be sure placing a pet in this person's home is a good "forever" match.
  So, let's consider the requirements for having a child:  Man.  Woman.  Sex.  9-months and a lot of sweat.  Bingo, it's a baby.  How to care for it?  How to afford it?  Well, rarely does that come up.  It's a slope that once started down becomes dicey at best.  For instance, can we tell someone they are not allowed to have a child because they are very overweight?  That's what happened to this man.
  What would be next?  You can't have a child because you don't make enough money?  What constitutes enough money?  Should one have to be married to have a child?  Hetero only?  What if the government decided that we would need a license to have a child - like we need to drive a car, a boat, have a dog?  Could we have racial profiling used to steer acceptance?  How big of a mess could this become?
  And in amongst this mess are all these small souls who had no real vote in the matter of coming into the world and want only to be cared for and loved.  Who can now love and care for them?  Can a gay couple - male or female pair - adopt them?  Love them?  Help them grow into great people?  Well, not really - the power mad declare that a child is best raised in a loving environment of hetero persuasion, don't you know.  Which is much like saying that everyone should drive a brand new four wheel drive who live in snowy environments.... great to say, but unlikely to occur.  And, failing to provide what they deem ideal, then the answer must be the limbo of foster care?
  I guess in the end, I have no answer to any of this.  Should that man lose his progeny because he is overweight?  What is good enough reason?  What really ought to be is that we as a people become responsible for our decisions, grow up, and do what is right.  Until then, I guess we are going to be at the mercy of a government agency convinced it knows what's best - no matter how asinine.
  What do you think?

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Touching 'Coming Out'

Hi Friends;

  This is a coming out I think I'd like to see more of...  enjoy.  (Click Me)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Double Standard

Hello Friends;

  I noticed this article in the Yahoo front page when checking my email.  It struck me, why is it that when a politician lies to us, it's excused.  But, should one of us lie to a politician, specifically congress, suddenly it's a problem.  And why should it be?  Don't they work for us?  Aren't they our employees? 
  Ok, when it gets right down to it, neither is acceptable.  But, you get my point.  A lie is a lie, and putting a "political spin" on it makes it no less the lie.  I am frankly so tired of outright fakery and lies from our "leaders" that I could spit.  I couldn't imagine lying to my boss.  So, tell me, if they are lying to us... who do they really work for?          ~r

After eight weeks, 46 witnesses, two dozing jurors and an estimated $2 million-$3 million spent in taxpayer money, the Roger Clemens trial has finally come to a close.
The verdict: Not guilty on three counts of making false statements, not guilty on two counts of perjury and not guilty on one count of obstruction. The charges stemmed from testimony that Clemens made in February 2008, telling a Congressional committee that he had never taken steroids or HGH. Prosecutors also alleged that Clemens intentionally made false statements that misled investigators.
Clemens faced a maximum sentence of 30 years and a $1.5 million fine if he had been convicted on all six counts, but he instead made out better than Barry Bonds. The all-time career home runs leader was hit with one charge of obstruction — but sentenced to no jail time — in his own perjury case.
Both Clemens and Bonds will hit the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this winter and it's likely that neither will walk away happy with the results. Whether you agree with their stance or not, Cooperstown's voters carry a much lower burden of proof when it comes to the evidence that both used performance-enhancing drugs during their careers.
But like Bonds, Clemens benefited from the reasonable-doubt standard that's applied in a federal courtroom. Despite staging an exhaustive trial, federal prosecutors were unable to build a convincing case. Nor were they able to defeat the doubts that the defense raised about the motives and integrity of former Clemens trainer Brian McNamee.
So that's that. While we'll argue forever about the merits of the nation's lawmakers getting involved with baseball's steroid era, Clemens has escaped the legal process with no major damage except for a sizable lawyer bill. He'll face much more public scrutiny going forward, of course, but this trial was really never going to have any impact on the court of public opinion. Your view of Clemens before this verdict is probably the same as your view now.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

To Life, Hope and Change!

  Some look upon a scarred body as one that has received so much pain, agony, hurt... I think on the scars I've seen in some of my family who went through surgery.  Older heart surgeries were huge for scars.

   Yet, there is an odd thing about a scar.... it is a place where an injury occurred, yet it has healed.  At least on the outside.
  Now, I think upon the concept of the sore; of the phrase "opening a sore wound".  Unhealed, barely scabbed over, aching, bleeding, frustrating and hobbling.  So many of us have wounds that do not heal, that do not even give us the merit of showing scars, only weeping wounds that will just not leave us be.  The tragedy upon all of that, it seems like scars are so evident where the seemingly more evident wounds would be easily seen yet are not.  They hide, behind small corners, shadows, little small smiles and ineffective laughs, yet the persist.  Staying closed until odd moments seem to bring them to the surface to be all but intolerably painful.
  I am fortunate to have certain things scarred over and, if ugly, at least acceptable.  They are memories of pain, yet no longer painful in themselves.  And, like all of us, I have my wounds.  I try to keep those covered.  Every now and again, I peek, but mere acknowledgement comes with its own trauma. 
  I tell you this to speak about my choices of living alone.  I choose that rather than let people close to me.  I know it.  I even have a good feel for why.  Such is my life.  And yet, every now and again a phrase hits me, and I realize that it still hurts.
  I mentioned in a response to an earlier comment that I had seen a great show on PBS. In that show, there were a few stories that had me empathizing and feeling their pain, even their hope and joy.  And, in some, I felt the words strike deep to my soul.  One of those phrases went sort of like this:  'Everyone needs someone to love - Someone to share the popcorn while watching a movie; Someone to wait with them as they see the doctor; Someone to pick them up at the airport, greeting them with a smile and a 'welcome home'.'   
  I don't honestly know what my future will bring.  I like living alone, and I understand that in part it is to avoid opening those sores that seem to weep and bleed upon investigation but otherwise seem quite healed and scarred over nicely.  I like that I come home and my dog is so happy to see me, loves to cuddle with me, be part of my family.  Will I ever have anyone else?  I don't know.  For that matter, I don't even know if the dog will allow anyone else on the bed - there are times she barely allows me!  
  Past injuries ought to be in the past.  Passed.  Gone.  Yet, hobbled and frustrated, pains come back to all of us, I guess.  Still, there is hope, still there is life. Here's to life, hope and change. 

ACLU vs. DOMA news

Another DOMA Win!
By James Esseks, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 7:44pm

When it rains, it pours! Late this afternoon, another federal judge ruled that the so-called federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the federal constitution. The ruling came in an ACLU case brought by Edie Windsor after the death of her spouse and partner of 44 years, Thea Spyer.

Edie and Thea became a couple way back in 1965. By 1967, long before marriage for same-sex couples was anything more than a pipe dream, Thea proposed marriage to Edie – that’s just what their relationship meant to them. Thea couldn’t give her an engagement ring, because Edie wouldn’t have been able to explain it to her colleagues at IBM, so she gave her a diamond pin instead. They were inseparable for the next four decades.

In 1977, Thea was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and they both worked, over the next 30 years, to accommodate Thea’s progressive paralysis. She first used a cane, then crutches, then a manual wheelchair, and finally a motorized one that she could operate with her one good hand.

In 2007, with Thea’s health failing, they got married in Canada. In Edie’s words, “If you live together for 42 years, and you love each other for all those years, how could marriage be different? It turns out it’s different, and you don’t know why.” Edie and Thea enjoyed married life for the next two years, until Thea died.

In New York, Edie and Thea were a lawfully married couple, but because of DOMA, they weren’t in the eyes of the federal government. So when Thea left their apartment and the rest of her possessions to Edie, the IRS taxed that inheritance as though they were strangers. Where a straight widow would have owed nothing at all, Edie had to pay over $363,000 in federal taxes.

Never a timid soul, Edie challenged that tax bill – and the insult to her marriage – in federal court, in a case brought by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP, the ACLU, and the New York Civil Liberties Union. And today, the federal trial court in Manhattan ruled that DOMA violates the equality provisions of the federal Constitution.

Edie’s is the fifth case in which courts have struck down DOMA, and the fourth ruling to come just in 2012 – a veritable avalanche of judicial wisdom on our side, and a sure sign of an idea whose time has come. Now Edie is off to the federal appeals court for this part of the country, and the DOMA issue is very likely to be before the Supreme Court this coming term. Let the avalanche continue!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Words will never hurt me....?

  Reading a recent posting on Milkboys has me a bit concerned and, frankly, pissed.  To be true, I want the best for myself - I think we all do.  Do I have the courage to go out and risk certain things to achieve it?  No, but that is a conversation for another time.  I surely want the best for our youth.
  Here is the article portion that caught my eye:  92% say they (the 'they' refers to lgbt youth) hear negative messages about being LGBT – 60% say those messages come from politicians.
  In what may or not be fair, I guess I look to Scottie as a certain role model in that he is who he is - deal with it.  But many aren't that strong.  Inevitably, I look towards young people a bit protectively and as a result this statistic brings about my anger and protective ire. 
  Here we have all these politicians and preachers pounding their particular pulpits and podiums, mostly their puds, while railing against the very folk for whom they should be protecting.  You politicians say you are "for the children" and yet look at this statistic!  I am assuming that at least some of the other negative comments heard come from pulpit pounders, but I may be wrong in that assumption.  Still, STILL!  Look to your words!  Is it a wonder that our young men and women are choosing to die rather than live as they are - or in some horrible circumstances, as they are perceived - in this world?!
  I see the most hideous and heinous actions when our politicians willingly stomp on the rights, needs, and the very hearts! of our young people to garner a vote from the frumpy and rumply set.  You assholes should be ashamed!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Hi Everyone

  I had a rough week.  I worked as hard as I could, yet still made too many mistakes.  Well, too many in my estimation.  I've been down on myself, beating myself up for those mistakes even while doing what I can to be sure that I don't make them again.  In the end, we are all human, and our mistakes teach us a lot.
  Today I was taught, again, that I'm being stalked by the WhatIf monster.  Being too hard on myself and allowing worst case scenarios that are unlikely to occur to stress me.  I learned that no matter what happens, it happens - ya know?  - and the best we can do is care, and do the best we can do.
  So, to that wonderful friend who, in the midst of his own struggles, lifted me up, I offer in gratitude this link.   Thank You, My Friend.  (click on that)

 I hope you others, where-ever this day takes you, will be a shining star for someone who needs just a bit of guidance, a kind word of encouragement or a simple smile or pat on the back. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

A bit of sanity....

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The California State Senate today approved a bill designed to limit the ability of mental health providers in California to engage in dangerous sexual orientation change efforts (sometimes referred to as “ex-gay therapy,” “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy”).

If approved by the Assembly and signed by the Governor, Senate Bill 1172, authored by Senator Ted Lieu and co-sponsored by Equality California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Mental Health America of Northern California, Gaylesta, and Lambda Legal, would make California the first state in the nation to ban licensed mental health professionals from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts of any kind for a minor patient, regardless of a parent's willingness or desire to authorize participation in such programs.

“Being lesbian or gay or bisexual is not a disease or mental disorder for the same reason that being a heterosexual is not a disease or a mental disorder,” Lieu said. “The medical community is unanimous in stating that homosexuality is not a medical condition.”

Sexual orientation change efforts pose critical health risks, including depression, shame, decreased self-esteem, social withdrawal, substance abuse, self-harm and suicide. For minors, who are often subjected to these practices at the insistence of parents who don’t know, or don’t believe, the practice is harmful, the risks of long-term mental and physical health consequences are particularly severe.

“Too many young people have taken their own lives or suffered lifelong harm after being told, falsely, by a therapist or counselor that who they are is wrong, sick or the result of personal or moral failure,” said Clarissa Filgioun, Equality California board president. “Legislative action is long overdue to end the abuse of sexual orientation change efforts and for the state to fulfill its duty to protect consumers — especially youth — from therapeutic misconduct.”

In 2007, the American Psychological Association convened a Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. The task force conducted an intensive review of peer-reviewed studies and concluded that efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm. The American Psychiatric Association published a position statement in March of 2000 in which it states that it “opposes any psychiatric treatment such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder.”

Recognizing that there is no credible evidence that any type of “therapy” can change a person’s sexual orientation and that sexual orientation change efforts may cause serious and lasting harms, the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, and the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists have also issued cautionary position statements on sexual orientation change efforts.

Recently, Dr. Robert Spitzer, the author of a study often cited by proponents to validate sexual orientation change efforts as a legitimate therapeutic practice, redacted the study and issued a formal apology to the LGBT community.

Senate Bill 1172 is part of a broader effort on the part of Equality California in 2012 to protect and empower lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. Another legislative initiative, Assembly Bill 1856, which was approved by California Assembly, will increase safety for and improve the emotional well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender youth in foster care by creating cultural competency standards that must be met by any foster homes housing LGBT youth.