Sunday, March 29, 2009

MOTS (More of the Same) . . . .

Somehow, this is not too surprising, is it?

Per CBS News and others:

Gates: No Change Soon On `Don't Ask, Don't Tell'
Gates Doesn't Expect Any Change Soon On `don't Ask, Don't Tell' Military Policy On Gays

WASHINGTON, Mar. 29, 2009

Don't expect any change soon to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy about gays in the military.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates says both he and President Barack Obama have "a lot on our plates right now." As Gates puts it, "let's push that one down the road a little bit."

The White House has said Obama has begun consulting with Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on how to lift the ban. Gates says that dialogue has not really progressed very far at this point in the administration.

The Pentagon policy was put in place after President Bill Clinton tried to lift the ban on gay service members in 1993.

The policy refers to the military practice of not asking recruits their sexual orientation. In turn, service members are banned from saying they are gay or bisexual, engaging in homosexual activity or trying to marry a member of the same sex.

The more things "Change We Can (wait to) Believe In" . . . .

H/T "drf"

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hey Paul Krugman . . . .

we need you now:

Turn those speakers up, as the tune is actually quite catchy . . . .


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gay Bars Undergoing a Sex Change . . . .

"drf" and I are WAY past the stage of patronizing gay bars - or any bars, for that matter - although in our day we sure spent a few $$ and hours in them. There was that one time at "The Cove" . . . . but I digress.

Reading the following story - in The Anchorage Daily News of all places - did bring back some fond memories:

Gay bars change acts to appeal to straight customers

By JULIA O'MALLEY | Anchorage Daily News
| 03/21/09

In Mad Myrna's drag dressing room, where a J-Lo song wound out among the wigs and gowns on a recent Friday evening, Isanoel Pinson leaned into the mirror, pursed his lips a little and smeared foundation on his forehead.

Pinson, who is in his 40s, started performing drag just after he emigrated to Anchorage from the Philippines in the early '80s. His first haunt was an old bar called the Jade Room. These days the crowds that come to his shows couldn't be more different than they were back then.

"Oh. My. God," he said, applying a ribbon of glue to a false eyelash. "Before is all like gay, gay, gay. Now would you believe? Our audience is all straight people. Couples!"


From San Francisco to Pittsburgh, Boston to Nashville, gay bars are closing their doors and shuttering drag shows, citing lack of patrons.

There are plenty of theories why clientele is changing at Myrna's. People are making connections on the Internet. Growing social acceptance means there are few establishments were gays don't feel comfortable. Simply put, the need for gay bars is fading.


Soon an old-time burlesque dancer in a bustier and ruffled panties weaves through the audience starting her act. Then comes the lithe, shirtless male go-go dancer. Then the Karaoke crooner in a brown v-neck sweater. The room is full of whistles and belly laughs. There's a soldier in dress uniform and his wife in the front row.

Today's audience is usually couples or single women, Wood said.

"The girls want to go see the drag queens," he said. "Women are more tolerant than guys are."

"You can always tell the straight people," says Koeller, "because they're the ones who come on time."


Backstage not everyone is happy. But then they wouldn't be drag queens without a little drama. Pinson, affixing a 3-foot-wide Afro wig, clicks his tongue, looking at the clock. The new acts take forever. He complains in Tagalog to Joebie Fernandez, a diminutive, smooth-skinned queen, who's sorting through a tackle box of earrings. There are eye rolls all around.

The class of drag queens once at the center of the show are aging -- most are at least 40 -- and like a fading order of nuns whose convents are closing, fewer among the younger generation are stepping into their size 13 pumps.


Out on the main floor, bass from the speakers vibrates the drinks on the bar. Pinson waits off stage for her Gloria Gaynor number. Fernandez, in a leather bikini and dangling earrings, steps out to face the audience, opening a huge set of gold lamé wings into a whirl of lights.

And at least for now, the show goes on.

Let's hope it goes on for a long time . . . .

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Blood Pressure Rising . . . .

If this doesn't get you pissed off, I don't know what will:

Undoubtedly, everyone on that panel has had extensive military service, don't you think? Giving credibility to them on military matters is like believing me when I discuss nuclear fusion. Knowledge on subject matter = 0.

Now, how do you feel about the US/Canadian relationship from the FoxNoise perspective ? ? ? ?

H/T Unrepentant Old Hippie

Update March 23: Now even Peter Mackay and the Canadian MSM are up in arms over FoxNoise. Hell, the Bill Good show on CKNW even had a segment of outrage over it this morning. Funny thought, though: Does anyone doubt if Rupert Murdoch wanted to start up a Canadian operation that the current government would not give him the keys to the building?

Seriously . . . .

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bungling Border Bullies . . . .

Crossing the land border between Canada and the US is typically not a pleasant experience. The long lines are a fairly regular thing. Fortunately, we have never had the following experience.

Per CBC News this morning:

Canadian accused at U.S. border of 'stealing American jobs'
Sales representative from B.C. denied entry to U.S. to meet with suppliers

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 - Kathy Tomlinson CBC News

A B.C. sales representative who markets equestrian products in Canada was barred from crossing the U.S. border to attend a trade show last month by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer who accused him of trying to steal American jobs.

"He looked at me, and in a yelling voice he said, 'You're friggin' stealing jobs away from American citizens,' and I tried telling him that I wasn't," Joel Borsteinas told CBC News.

Borsteinas, a Canadian citizen, said he's been in business for 15 years, acting as a middleman between U.S. and Canadian suppliers of western wear and equestrian products and Canadian retailers who want to stock the products.


Borsteinas said the border officer who refused to allow him entry to the U.S. was the supervisor on duty at the time, at the Sumas crossing in southwestern B.C.

"I said, 'Well I don't actually bring the products in. I just write the orders. It's all in Canada,'" said Borsteinas.

"He says, 'Oh you are a consultant then.' I says, 'No — I'm just a salesman. I sell to Canadian stores.' And he says 'Nope, you are a consultant,'" said Borsteinas. "Once again, he says 'You are stealing jobs away from us.'"

Borsteinas said he was then fingerprinted and sent back into Canada. The border officer warned him if he tried to enter the U.S. on business again, he should expect to be prosecuted.


"The wagons get circled pretty quick when there's a downturn like this," said Craig Williams, vice-president of the B.C. division of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME), Canada's largest trade and industry association.

Williams said CME members tend to encounter more difficulties at the U.S. border when there is an economic slowdown. He said the current discussion in Washington about "Buy America" provisions doesn't help.

"I think it is part of an undercurrent of 'Buy America' that is happening in the United States right now," said Williams.

"Unfortunately, it seems to be some of the sentiment that's coming out of the average guy on the street down there — as their family members are losing jobs or they are having cutbacks or they read the newspaper every night. It's very discouraging — and I think it sets a tone of fear."

"I just hope its not a precursor for more," he added.

One more bit of the bush economic "legacy": Border tension between the largest trading partners in North America.

Good job, george* . . . .

* Yeah, we still blame him for everything. He's so deserving . . . .

Monday, March 16, 2009

Get On With It . . . .

One of the many nice things about residing in Canada is that we've already gotten beyond this.

Per The Toronto Star today:

Vermont begins hearings on same-sex marriage
- March 16, 2009

MONTPELIER, Vt. – Vermont lawmakers are starting a week of hearings on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

In 2000, Vermont became the first state in the U.S. to adopt civil unions. House and Senate leaders want to pass the gay marriage bill this legislative session, which ends in May.


In the U.S., same-sex couples can legally marry only in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

It's time to move on now, folks . . . .

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Guns are U.S. . . . .

The gun culture in the U.S. is apparently alive and well.

Per Reuters this evening:
At least 10 killed in Alabama shooting spree
Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:48pm EDT - By Verna Gates

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Reuters) - At least 10 people including the suspected gunman and his mother were killed in a shooting spree and car chase in southern Alabama on Tuesday, authorities said.

The shooter, who was in his mid-30s, killed five people including the wife of a local deputy sheriff and her 3-month-old baby at a mobile home in Samson, according to Wynnton Melton, mayor of nearby Geneva, Alabama.

His other victims included his own mother, two people killed at a convenience store and a man in a pickup truck who died during a car chase as the gunman apparently fired at random, said Melton.

The shooting began in Samson, a small town in the southeastern part of the state and ended after a car chase and gun battle in Geneva, the county seat about 12 miles away, according to the FBI and local police.

"Officer Ricky Morgan rammed his car to distract him and was rewarded with a hail of bullets," said Melton. "One bullet grazed the shoulder of police chief Frankie Lindsey."

A police officer in Geneva said the gunman "shot at several vehicles on the highway and then he shot at Wal-Mart and Piggly Wiggly," a grocery store.

A statement from the Alabama Department of Public Safety said state and local law enforcement agencies had responded to "a series of at least four shooting incidents" involving what was believed to be a lone gunman.

The suspect "left at least nine victims dead before he died from a self-inflicted gunshot," the statement said.

Police said they expected to find more victims. There was no indication of a motive for the spree in which a house was also burned in a nearby county.

Rural southeastern Alabama, which borders Florida, is a largely agricultural area with many low-income families. It relies partly on peanut crops.

Mass shootings have become a feature of life in the United States.

Guns are widely available for purchase in the United States, a country that prides itself on the right to own weapons for self defense and hunting.

This area in Alabama is about 50 miles from where we lived in Florida. We frequently drove through that part of the state travelling back and forth from Atlanta. Who knew a Piggly Wiggly parking lot could be dangerous to one's safety?

Talk about your weapons of mass destruction . . . .

Photo of a
Samson, AL cotton field I took last fall

Sunday, March 08, 2009

"That Was Easy ! ! ! ! "

Obama's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was attempting to signal a new direction in relations between the US and Russia during her visit with her counterpart this week.

There was a bit of a problem, however.

Per Bloomberg:

Clinton’s ‘Reset’ Joke for Lavrov Lost in Translation

By Viola Gienger - March 6

(Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought to use humor today to improve relations with Russia, only to inadvertently invite her Russian counterpart to get the better of her.

Presenting Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a green- wrapped box decorated with a bow and containing a mock “reset” button, Clinton said with a laugh that her “little gift” represents what President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have been saying.

“We want to reset our relationship,” she said before she and Lavrov began closed-door talks in Geneva as the Obama administration seeks to thaw a relationship that had been at its iciest since the Cold War.

Yet a glitch in Clinton’s presentation might have symbolized the frequent disconnects. The word on the button was intended to say “reset” in Russian.

“We worked hard to get the right Russian word,” Clinton told Lavrov. “Do you think we got it?”

“You got it wrong,” Lavrov said as they both laughed. He said the word on the button actually means “overcharge.”

“We won’t let you do that to us,” Clinton said in response, before getting more serious. “We mean it and we look forward to it.”

Lavrov smiled.

“Thank you very much,” he said. “It’s very kind of you.”

Clinton’s staff promised to fix the error on the gift.

Wouldn't you think that out of the thousands of employees in the foreign service arm of "the most powerful nation on earth" a competent translator of the Russian language could have been found?

As Aretha Franklin (you remember her memorable haberdashery at the inauguration, right?) would say:

"All I'm askin' is for a little r-e-s-p-e-c-t. Just a little bit . . . . "

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Beehive State Abuzz in Pornography . . .

Apparently the practise of polygamy isn't the only sexual anomaly in the Beehive State of Utah. The fine residents rank at the top of online porn consumers.

Per The Salt Lake Tribune:

Utah is No. 1 - for online pornography consumption
By Dawn House
| The Salt Lake Tribune | 03/03/2009

Besides its political bent, Utah's per capita appetite for online pornography makes it the nation's run-away red-light state.

A study by a Harvard Business School professor shows that Utah outpaces the more conservative states -- which all tend to purchase more Internet porn than other states.

Online porn subscription rates are higher in states that enacted conservative legislation banning same-sex marriage or civil unions and where surveys show support for conservative positions on religion, gender roles and sexuality, according to an analysis published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives.


Utah's No. 1 score may have to do with its demographics, said the author of the study, Benjamin Edelman.

For instance, Internet porn subscriptions are particularly widespread in states with young populations, in the 15 to 24 age group, while people over 65 are less likely to subscribe. Income can be a another factor, with each $1,000 increase in average household income pushing up the number of subscribers. Rates also go
up with a college education and among people who are divorced, although marriage and graduate degrees have the opposite effect.


Although Utah is headquarters for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Edelman found that regions where people regularly attend religious services are not statistically different from their counterparts in more secular regions. But users who do attend religious services tend to shift their adult entertainment sessions to other days of the week than the day of services.


Daniel Weis, spokesman for the Colorado-based Christian group, Focus on The Family, said the study "is credible only for what it is studying, which is very little."

"My caution is that people do not extrapolate that this is a report for the entire nation," he said. "The fact that conservative-minded people are fighting porn doesn't mean that they go home and look at it."

The Focus on The Family spokesman was also quoted as saying "There is a Santa Claus and a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow."

OK, OK, that last line I made up.

But is it really that much of a stretch ? ? ? ?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

It Wasn't the Devil that Made Him Do It . . . .

Per CBC News today:

Li pleads not guilty in Greyhound beheading trial
Tuesday, March 3, 2009 | 1:21 PM CT
| CBC News

Believing he was acting on orders from God, Vincent Li attacked a stranger on a Greyhound bus last summer, mutilating his victim before decapitating him and cannibalizing part of the body.

In a clear, firm voice, Li pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Winnipeg to a charge of second-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Timothy McLean of Winnipeg on a Greyhound bus in Manitoba last July.

The Crown and defence have agreed on a statement of facts read to the court on Tuesday that suggests Li was mentally ill at the time of the slaying.


McLean's family has been lobbying for changes to the Criminal Code, pushing for victim-protection legislation they call "Tim's law."

The proposed legislation would prevent a person found not criminally responsible of a crime from being released into the community. It would mean that the most violent, unpredictable people who have committed a crime would face incarceration for life, with no possibility of release.

Tim McLean's mother, Carol deDelley, told CBC News prior to the trial that she does not want to see Li ever released from custody.

Mental illness can be devastating, both for the sufferer and other parties who unfortunately become involved . . . .