Then the Terrorists Win

I find it amazingly disturbing that we are giving up our fundamental right to question (free registration required), which is even more fundamental than our right to freedom of speech, in an any form of artistic expression. I understand that having someone denegrate your icons is hard to deal with, however letting someone condone violence for it only makes it easier to denegrate your icons again.

I don’t personally have anything against the muslim faith or any islamic people, in general or specifically. Every person I’ve met who claims that faith has been wholly great, but lets be quite clear, I have not met Osama. I believe that Osama should be brought to trial and if convicted should face justice. What that would be is beyond me, and depending on who you listen to, it’s everything from being raised as a Saint (by people who believe he did what was right, realize) to those who think his entire extended family should be wiped out as punishment for his crime.

Creative punishment is not something I want to get into, but I’m sure that if pressed there isn’t a one of us that couldn’t come up with some unique and inspired bit of twisted torture to exact our own revenge. I just don’t know that I want to know what’s lurking in everyone else’s head. My own are bad enough sometimes, and that’s just when I’m writing fiction.

My bigger concern is the path we are on, as a species, as a planet. We have once again come to the cross-roads where the health of the people is tested against the health of the institutions created by and for the people. When the institutions are unhealthy, fanatics and extremists start to weild power because their rhetoric and passionate insanity seem reasonable to the scared and desperate of the world.

In the west we have the posturing and evangelizing power of the mega-church, a very American product if ever there was one. “Super-size my faith!” is all the rage in Houston, as you can see any time you drive down the 16-lane wide Highway 59. After witnessing the people who go to mega-churches fight, swear, honk and complain while trying to get through the amazing traffic when church lets out, you find that ‘love thy neighbor’ is apparently not applicable when thy neighbor is in your way.

In the middle-east we have the other end of the spectrum with the voices of carnage and destruction not even having a home much less a place of worship, yet still spouting out their beliefs and driving their followers to darker and less-enlightened places. You have people in desperate situations, on all sides, who are scared, who are worried for their friends and family, and who feel that all is lost if they don’t do something, and these convincing fanatics give the desperate masses something to do.

Of course, so did Hitler.

Having pointed that out, do you see the path we’re on?

Ah to be young and gay on the stage at Carnegie Hall

Let’s not forget, especially since this is Pride Month here in the lusty U.S. of A., that so many of the things that we adore about the gays are tied inextricably to Judy Garland. She gave us fashion, she gave us music, she gave us hope. And her final act on this earth, her funeral, occurred in the summer of 1969. It was hot, it was a horribly sad day as many had lost their idol and were watching the last performance she’d ever give (C.S.I. wasn’t around then. I know it seems like they were, but no.) When the NYPD raided the Stonewall Inn, the drag queens and street boys were gathered inside to watch the funeral, to weep with Liza, and to click their heels three times and wish that she’d come back from Over the Rainbow. Instead of not-resisting, they stood up, stood tall, and fought back. Stonewall is the beginning of the modern GLBT movement, and one great lady was the catalyst. So it seems only right that a big queen from 2006, Miss Rufus Wainwright, would pay tribute in the only appropriate way for any gay man – by singing the entire concert to everyone he can get to listen!

Wainwright’s reverence for Garland aside, the concert was as much as about Wainwright and his own aspirations. Of course, there was the symbolic importance of a gay performer saluting a pivotal gay icon. Yet this wasn’t an evening of reinvention, but rather heartfelt homage, right down to Wainwright forgetting some of the words (as Garland did) on “You Go to My Head” and resurrecting some of her original stage banter.

Wainwright performs a soaring tribute to Garland – The Boston Globe

I shall one day be that gay, too.

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Miss Manners’ Guide to Mourning

For all the well-meaning people of the world who have been so extremely lucky as to not have ever lost someone they unconditionally love, this is for you. Not because you’re asshats, no, it’s because you’re paving the road to hell with some fantastically insane good intentions by opening your mouths. I would like to point out two things before we get too far into this:

  1. You aren’t being attacked, you’re being counseled, with humor and wit (because grace and patience have failed), and;
  2. If you truly are hurt by something in this post, you are extremely guilty of being a bad friend. You aren’t thinking about what Janna needs, you’re thinking about what you want out of her suffering. She’s not a diamond mine, so stop digging!

I have to put it this way, it’s the truth, and some of you out there need to hear it. AGAIN. And so… without further ado, here’s what Miss Manners’ Springtime Substitute had to say:

Hey there. Just an FYI, Janna called me yesterday and I went over there and then to the cemetery with her. Spent the evening with her. There is nothing for us to worry about…she is going to cope…just gonna take a while. However, we discussed some things and I did clarify that SHE….

  1. does NOT like pop-ins (people just showing up unannounced…if you didn’t do it before, don’t do it now).
  2. prefers emails (so she can answer and read at her leisure…or not)
  3. may or may not return voice mails (depends on how many she gets)
  4. usually leaves her cell phone off or on vibrate cuz just too many calls…her bill is outrageous!!
  5. is eating…McD’s everyday all day…and looks the same to me…great
  6. does not like making plans, but if she does, please give her the right to cancel and/or forget about them at any time
  7. does not like people telling her she will be OK, it will get better, he is in a better place, GOD needed him, or asking her how she feels….how do they think she feels?, SHE needs him more than God does, he is not in a better place…his place is with her…and she will not be OK, only surviving day by day.
  8. will go to therapy when she is ready, but I did see several books on her coffee table about grief
  9. knows we are here and she loves us
  10. needs people to understand that if you didn’t do something before (like pop in, or baby her, or call 10x per day) that doing that now only makes her realize something is wrong and different. Act like you used to with her.
  11. hates people smothering her or being “needy” with her.
  12. needs people to realize that YES she is depressed, she is a widow for goodness sake!!
  13. HATES people saying were, was, should have, anything in the past. Just because he is in “escrow” doesn’t mean they aren’t still an incredible couple!

I believe she really is going to manage and cope, she just needs time…and then 5 years from now…she WILL STILL need time…

I have first-hand knowledge of this conversation as I was also there, with Janna & Alicia, and I don’t know what was harder – hearing about all the foolish things people had said, or finding out that I like and know most of the fools.

But wait, there’s more!

Alicia sent this email out to a group of friends, many of whom were not sure what to do and needed the guidance, but couldn’t ‘hear’ the wit that came with it. And then Julie sent the email out as well, and I know of even more people who got all flamed up about it! Apparently some people have a guilty conscious because some of the most bent weren’t doing any of the aforementioned idiocy.

So, that’s why I’m posting this on my blog. I want to see how many more ass clowns there are out there.

Kidding. I wanted to post this for clarification – if you have done any of the list above, just stop and it’s all good. Don’t worry too much about the past right now, just ease off a bit and let her seek you out when it’s the right time for her – and that’s the hardest part of friendship: knowing when to just stand ready, off to the side, without making a noise, so that when you’re needed, you’re there, but not a moment too soon.

However, if you continue doing these foolish activities, you risk getting a lashing by a verbally adept and editorially challenged woman whom you love – and believe me, bad idea. I’ve known her since 4th grade, I know what she’s capable of, and we’re talking ‘Hiroshima’ here – but she’ll do it with love, of course.

Since the responses to the emails have been less than stellar, I have a few suggestions of my own to add, too:

  • Don’t think that this list is a generalized ‘how-to’ for friendship, it’s a ‘how Janna needs you to be’ list, a very specific thing.
  • Don’t think that Alicia or I came up with this, it was the result of a conversation that Alicia and I had with Janna as we drove from her house out to visit Richard. The list is very neatly distilled from that conversation, and given that it was a 4 hour chat, I’m exceedingly impressed by Alicia’s memory and articulateness.
  • Don’t be hurt if a friend calls you on your own insanity – learn from it. After all, enemies may call you on it, but they suck as people, that’s why you don’t like them, so why would you listen to them?
  • Don’t get needy, greedy, or bent out of shape if you aren’t ‘invited’ to something by her. Most of the time any ‘something’ that she’s at is impromptu and invitations weren’t sent out. Deal. We are supposed to support her, and that includes being patient and not always up in her grill.
  • There will be times she won’t want to talk to you – specifically you. Cope.
  • If you are ‘disappointed in her’ for any reason, you need to check yourself right fucking quick. I can’t imagine what sort of fool would say something like that, but it’s a very good way to end a friendship. I would suggest getting a card with a big fuck-all “sorry” on the front sent to her house by you before you chat with her again. You know who you are.

There are times she doesn’t want to talk to me. Yeah, yeah, shut it. It’s usually when I’m out of booze, weepy, working and can’t focus for shit, or when she’s just had it and needs one of her Other Gays instead. It’s not easier for me to have to back off, not call, not email, not text, not pop-in, not drive-by, not string soup cans to her house for us to chitchat over, but I have to be patient. Because it’s Janna, and she needs me near or just available, and that’s her call, not mine.

Realize that the entire situation sucks. We all have to grow up a bit and be those people we admire for their quiet wisdom and serenity while facing the emotional wreckage heaped upon loved ones. They are wise because they are silent. People say things in an attempt to magically heal a wound. People cling so they can be the hero who catches them the next time they fall. People do new things, like drop in unannounced or call 1,000 times a day, because they want to change the world, and it wasn’t like this before, so it’s change.

We’re all wise enough to shut the hell up, back off, sit down, and just be. Trust that she’ll get you when she’s ready to just be.

Much love!

Part II – Driven to Unhealth

If you missed the novel I wrote before, you might want to read it just to understand what sort of a rant I’m on. I would point out that I’m leaving the comments open for you all to bash away at my foolishness, just remember that you get what you deserve when I filet you for not paying attention.

In addition, I’ll add this one quote of myself that sums up the first part of this diatribe:

Massachusetts has created a law that is set to backfire. Since they went bonkers and killed an industry and shackled it’s citizens right to the government teet. A professor at PRINCETON who teaches economics but apparently doesn’t understand how his field applies to reality is cheering this on. I’m waiting for pigs to fly, the Four Horsemen to appear at my door with a Domino’s Pizza, and for Bush to declare every Friday is “Fryday” and that pot is legal. Not one of those things is more ludicrous than this law.

And I would point out that no matter what you think, you know I’m nuts. I readily agree. But anyway, here’s the solution, in all it’s gory glory.

  1. Patents on research are abolished. I know this sounds crazy, but the fact that the best minds in medical research are pressured to find a new drug for the patent rather than being free to focus on research of every kind to find new solutions with proven drugs is nuts. The fact that nutrition isn’t studied by these minds is the greatest issue, but until they don’t have a reason to follow the money, they won’t do anything else. Their corporate bosses won’t let them.
  2. Medical Malpractice is abolished from the court system. Here there are a few reasons for this change.
    • The malpractice laws have made doctors into lotto tickets. Every time someone brings a malpractice suit against a doctor, every other patient and potential patient pays the price. Higher premiums for the doctors are passed onto the patients, and unless a doctor ends up having their license revoked, nothing medicine-related really happens. In cases where a medical professional loses their license there should be court proceedings, but not until then. Remove the ability to get money from a doctors just because their treatment wasn’t perfect and we’re all better off.
    • Malpractice is a useless function of the law. If a doctor betrayed her position and killed or maimed a patient, first would be the revocation of her license, via the peer panel outlined next, followed by criminal and civil proceedings. If the patient died, that is called “murder” and if they were just maimed, it’s called “assault” and possibly “attempted murder”. Those cover most everything that a doctor could do to intentionally harm a patient.
    • Peer Review Panels would be the grand jury before a doctor could be taken to court. I don’t mean just doctors reviewing doctors as that’s a recipe for a mess as well, but having lawyers and programmers and linguists and others of high education review the procedures, the events, and the reasoning that the doctor used would be the first step toward recommending criminal prosecution of a doctor for their actions with a patient. Only after that would a patient be allowed to sue, and then, as they don’t have malpractice or the insurance behind it, the lawyers won’t be able to ‘go for the gold’ because there really won’t be any.
  3. Money is set aside, and awards are given for proven, duplicatable research that improves life. I’m not generally fond of phrases like “improves life” for an idea, and I’m not a doctor or researcher, but I would bet that a panel of them put together to review a peers research, including original and supporting evidence, any duplicated research data, etc., could reasonably decide if the resulting treatment or drug is a good thing for humanity and therefore Award the original researchers. I’m thinking with money, which we get from…
  4. The Practice and Research of Medicine becomes as Social Construct. Just like we pay for streets, schools, parks, subways, and every other social-whether-we-realize-it-or-not project, we should pay for medicine. Medicine should be funded by all of us, because it helps us all in the end. Does this mean higher taxes? No, just means that the money we current foist to private industry in the form of insurance payments we’d instead pool into a public trust system.
  5. Medical training and education is free to those who qualify for the schooling. Now that is Northern Exposure and it makes sense Ð You need a doctor, pay to make one. This person wants to be a doctor and has the requisite foundation classes all in order, then no problem, it’s done and paid for. And why do we do this? Because if it doesn’t cost $150,000 to get a medical degree, these new doctors aren’t under the pressure to make more than $150,000 to just survive their first few years.
  6. Now, for those of you think I tried to pull some sleight-of-hand by breaking the article apartment having this section be separated by a few weeks from the other in the hopes that no one would notice that I’m suggesting a fully-socialized system in this section why complaining that Massachusetts is going to force it’s entire citizenry onto the government’s teet. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth, because that’s exactly the point.

    Or do you not get it?

    You see, when you socialize a section of social need but not the entirety of that social need, you create disparity for the citizens. If only the basics of care are socialized, but the specifics like high-price cancer drugs are not, the system is designed to punish the less well off, which, depending on the treatment can actually start quite high in the social strata.

    By socializing the entire system, from research to treatment, education to retirement, we can easily give rise to a system with substantial rewards still available to researchers, but no more huge profits for pharmaceutical corporations to wring from the populace. We can give huge grants and support to companies doing research on tools, such as fMRI machines, and let them use the technology developed in other ways outside of medicine to make money, and we can buy the machines at cost-plus-points towards the next grant to keep manufacturing costs down. We can build hospitals because everyone is paying into the system a substantial amount of their own money. We can reduce costs overall by eliminating the legal waste of the current malpractice system. We could socialize and still remain stable and capable.

    It won’t happen. But we could.

Votes of the Beasts

I find a certain poetic balance in the fact that a group of bigots are calling for the U.S. Senate to vote on an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would ban gay marriage on Sixth Day of the Sixth Month of the Sixth Year of the New Millennia – in other words, “Doing the Bidding of the Beast” it seems.

I followed that link in this Slate article by William Saletan which is a good read regardless of your stance on gay marriage, provided, of course, that you’re not a unreasonable bigot. For those too lazy to follow the link, he discusses “Covenant Marriage” which is apparently much harder to dissolve than the normal piece of paper. The ad campaign should be “NEW & IMPROVED!! Ball & Chain: Now with more Chain! for those fundamentalists who really want to prove their devotion to another.” Never mind that it just takes a bit more time and/or ammunition to end the marriage anyway. (And by “ammunition” I mean either legal or the kind you buy at Wal-Mart with a gift card. Whatever you want; consequences sold separately.)

In their foundational statement on marriage, Catholic, Baptist, and evangelical leaders claim to be defending it against cohabitation, divorce, and “diminishing interest in and readiness for marrying.” They call for “mentor couples” and “influence within society” to promote marriage. Can you imagine a more powerful influence than finding out that the gay couple down the block has a stronger marriage than you do? Can you imagine a more powerful way for that couple to earn society’s respect? Here’s a chance to get more marriage, less cohabitation, and less divorce. Is that what conservatives want? Or would they rather keep out the gays?

Numbers are clearer windows to the soul than eyes. If you sign the petition to stop gay marriage but won’t solidify your own commitment (even in this only-nominally effective way) then you are proclaiming your bigotry, which isn’t very big of you at all.

Say what?

Ok, so I’m up early and I’m going over some notes and files and seeing what I haven’t posted in the recent past that I fully meant to and I came across a few things. I know, I will have the finale to my long-winded and perhaps wrong-headed article on stupid ideas for healthcare reform posted as promised, just consider the last 10 days a gimme and get over it. Besides, I bet if you read that post again, as I have just now, you’ll find that I seem to actually make sense. So you know you’re going nuts, too.

Anyway, here are two things that I wanted to post. First, a clipping of a conversation that I was having with my friend Casper. It’s pretty self-explanatory:

biblical insight

I figure that should generate some lovely hatemail, and I can only hope it includes curses from the Biblical Curse Generator which has been thoroughly wonderful at helping me describe how I feel without using the word ‘fuck’ over and over this past week.

Now the second is a bit more disturbing, at least to me, as it would seem to hold the key to my soul. I was up waaaaaay too late and couldn’t get to sleep so I was catching up on reading several of the blogs that I enjoy. I had gotten to Blurbomat, home to the husband-like-appliance in the dooce household, and Jon is a pretty amazing writer, artist, random-word-of-the-day-with-sprinkles kinda blogger, kinda like his wife. So anyway, he had written something that I felt the need to comment on – but apparently it was about time for me to sleep, so in mid-sentence I crashed. I awoke nearly 2 hours later, laptop on my face, only to find that I hadn’t finished my comment, and had instead typed a bit of, um, well, you decide:

the key to my soul

No for real, read it again.

Um, yeah. I have no idea either. The fact that I can pronounce “bhabitatae” is the chocolate frosting on this one.