Sunday, September 28, 2008

Moments of joy

Yesterday I received a check in the mail for $200.00. While it would have been exciting to get a personal check for that amount, it was more exciting to see that the check was made out to "Equality for All", my current raison d'etre. On top of the generous donation, add the surprise that it came from a sibling of the Alpha Delta Phi Society who graduated from college more than 30 years before me, a sibling who let me know that he is a registered Republican.

This almost made me cry. I almost cry a lot about this campaign. I would like to write more about it, but I desperately need to do my reading for class, and so I must leave this post short and very, very sweet.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You watch your phraseology!

A phrase I enjoy: "with all due respect"

Why I enjoy it: it is completely meaningless

Example: "With all due respect, I must disagree with your practice of smashing women's faces with hammers just for fun."

How much respect is due to a person who perpetrates such an act of brutality? Very, very little. Therefore, this is a phrase which here means "with very, very little respect."

There are other situations in which I feel very little respect is due. Not a whole hell of a lot of situations, but a few. For example, I feel no respect is due a person's "belief" that my rights are less than his because of my orientation. God is not a surrogate behind whom you can hide your bigotry. God may be many things to many people, but that interpretation is not one I will deign to respect.

(For those of you fortunate enough to participate in the listserv that engendered this post, you may notice that this topic is tangential to that one. I don't intend to be replying directly to a certain alumnus of a certain University. These are just the musings that came out of that other discussion.)

With all due respect, your racist bullshit is unacceptable. With all due respect, your flagrant disregard for the thoughts and feelings of others is disgusting. With all due respect, if your head were any further up your ass you'd be knocking on your own larynx.

The best part of "with all due respect" is that, as long as you're careful about the rest of the sentence, you can use it to say things to people's faces that could otherwise result in fisticuffs. I don't like fisticuffs, but I do like honesty.

Speaking of honesty, here's some: I am so fucking sick and tired of hearing from every single "conservative" who ever graduated from Brown University about how downtrodden they all were and how their voices were never heard. Perhaps if they tried saying things other than "you're not listening to me!", people would listen. Conservative voices are NOT underrepresented in this nation. Grow the fuck up.

Which brings me to my next point: "conservative" and "liberal" are becoming less and less useful. I'm a conservative: I don't want the government telling me whom I can and whom I can't marry. I'm a liberal: I do want the government telling CEOs that they can't just walk away with $700 billion of taxpayer money. I'm a moderate: I believe in acceding to opposing demands in order to achieve some kind of consensus. I'm a radical and a reactionary too (okay I can't think of a reactionary position I hold, but I'm sure there's something). I'm happy to be labeled radical, but I'm not happy to have my positions on any given issue assumed because of that label. I know this 'labels' discussion is old hat, but it's what I've got in my head right now.


I don't actually think there's much of that assumption going on around me. As I noted a few posts back, I'm in a happy place. I'm just in a bad mood from reading Carl fucking Dahlhaus. Not to mention being reminded of how geographically far away I am from some people I miss terribly and how ideologically far away I am from others I don't miss at all.

Sigh. Come on, History. Do your teleological thing and just fucking progress. I'm tired of this moment.

Too good to last

The intarwebs have burst my happiness bubble. Two of the blogs I read regularly (meaning at least once a day) have let me down. It's not the blogs that are at fault, but rather the commenters on said blogs. Racialicious, which usually manages to purge the worst of the nothing-but-offensive-shit comments before I get to them, has had a spate of transphobic commenters on a few recent threads. Bitch PhD, my favorite blog of all, has become a popular target for purportedly race-blind assholes who are certain of their moral and logical infallibility. The most recent post has spurred a long string of trolls arguing that there is no such thing as a "social context" for any remark, and that racism only exists when a speaker decides to purposely enact it with his (or her, but I'll snarkily assume they always think "his" because they're probably sexist too) speech.

Sigh. "Barack Obama is a Muslim terrorist" is not a racist remark because Islam is a religion, say the trolls. Way to miss the fucking point while simultaneously displaying your ignorance of that mythical "social context."

In other news, I somehow didn't notice that I signed up for at least 13.5 hours of volunteer work every week from now until the election. Whoops. At least the guy who convinced me to sign up for the last 6 hours of it was cute.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Thanksgiving, out of season

There are many wonderful things. For instance, this. For another instance, my personal environment. I spent this morning recruiting new members for the union with two other queer musicologists and three other graduate students. That's right; half of the volunteers were musicologists, and all of those were queer. I am in a department that is absolutely and totally queer-friendly, not to say queer-dominated. And not just with respect to stereotypically self-obsessed gay men. Our queers have an interest in a strong union, local and national politics, and delicious buttery croissants. I threw that last one in there to remind you that political awareness does not equate to humorless and pleasurefree automata, as some might imagine. Also I wanted to remember the delicious croissant I ate this morning while recruiting.

After recruiting, the Mysterious X and I finally watched the final episodes of Lois and Clark, which were disappointing and rather useless. Alas. Finishing the series felt good anyway. Next I took a beautiful nap and woke up in time to listen to a Beethoven symphony, read about the history of philosophy, make a delicious dinner, and watch a movie about an Irish soul band that featured Miles O'Brien in a supporting role. After a little more reading, Z2 showed up to settle Catan with us, and a lovely day was done. Plenty of time for productivity, health, and fun.

On top of these great things, the No on 8 campaign got its first commercial out today, a week ahead of schedule! Go us! Life is generally looking great right now.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ballot initiatives!

Ah, California. This coming election, we'll be voting on no fewer than twelve ballot initiatives. Actually, according to Ballotpedia, two of them are "legislative referrals" instead of "initiatives." Whichever they are, I need to make some decisions. Here are my current positions:
Prop 1A (formerly known as Prop 1): undecided, leaning yes
Prop 2: Of course yes
Prop 3: Of course yes. Note that the ONLY opposition listed on Ballotpedia is the suspiciously-named "National Tax Limitation Committee." I doubt anyone else was willing to come down against children's hospitals.
Prop 4: God NO! This hasn't been getting as much press as Prop 8, but damn is it an ugly one.
Prop 5: Yes, but willing to be argued with.
Prop 6: God no. Idiocy.
Prop 7: Seems no-ish, but definitely need more info.
Prop 8: FUCK NO. See other posts.
Prop 9: No, but I'd love some more info.
Prop 10: Leaning yes, but not certain.
Prop 11: No, I'm pretty sure.
Prop 12: Torn, but leaning no.

As you can see, I could use some arguments on some of the initiatives. Anyone have better information than I do? Stronger opinions? Interesting tidbits? Comments of any kind?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

And some links

Hilarious.

More hilarious.

Interesting and irritating.

Satisfying.

Always engaging.

Money matters

So it looks like Wall Street isn't doing so hot. Lots of unpleasant business going on over there, I hear, and no end in sight. Remind me why this is bad?

I don't want to sound callous. I care when people lose their jobs. I don't, generally speaking, want that to happen. But who's losing jobs from this? Billionaire CEOs of financial firms who already have more than they can possibly consume before death? Are there really custodians or security guards or interns being put on the street by this crisis? I haven't seen any accounts of such folks, which could mean that the papers don't feel their fates are worth reporting. But it could also mean that it's just the giant firms of magic money manipulators that are suddenly sinking like lead balloons. Which reminds me: who the hell came up with that simile? Lead balloons aren't real, you know. Nobody inflates balls of lead. Really.

But back on topic: I'm feeling pretty good about the financial situation. My money is safely locked in Bank of America, the one name I haven't heard intimately connected with SMEF (Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure) in the last few days. As long as my money is resting, inert, it seems to be in no danger. The dollar is plummeting, of course, so I should avoid travel abroad for now, but that's okay; I don't have time to travel or enough money to afford an international flight anywhere at all. Maybe a bus to Mexico. It's only about two hours south of here, I think.

But I digress. The point is fiscal inertia. Scoffed at by the far more business-savvy than I, leaving money just a-settin' in bank vaults seems to me to be the best bet. Not solely because of the market instability currently in vogue, but for a more fundamental reason. I don't really believe in the wizardry of investment, in making money out of nothing. I believe in the five dollars of interest I got in my savings account a couple of days ago (see my last post for an explanation of how this works. Okay, not an explanation so much as a mystification), but not really more than that. Once interest reaches an actually useful amount of money, I grow suspicious. I don't trust the magic money not to vanish whence it came.

This clearly makes me a special kind of Luddite. I trust the computer and the voodoo of the intarwebs, but not the (theoretically) far more prosaic workings of the bank and the market. I just get uncomfortable with money that appears for no reason. Either I should have worked for it, or it should come from someone who has an emotional reason to want to give me things. One, or the other, or both. That's pretty much all the money I feel okay accepting.

This has been a circuitous ramble through mostly uncharted territory in my skull. The money section has shoulder-high weeds and a rusty chain-link fence warning off all passersby. Perhaps it will become more well-traveled in the near future, but I hope not. I like having just enough money in the bank not to feel worried and not to have to think about it too much. Once that becomes impossible, I will worry about the fates of the poor Lehman Brothers executives.

Oh, and just for the record: even though I don't see these collapses as terrible, I still believe that they make the need for regulation stupefyingly obvious. So Les Winan, you jerk-off brokerage analyst. Yes, there's sort of a verb in that sentence.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A small percentage of a telephone

Today I participated in my first-ever phone bank. That's a thing where you put your phone away in a magic box and wait a year or so until you have 1.07 phones. Then you take the extra .07 of a phone and either invest it wisely or give it to the Bird Woman outside St. Paul's Cathedral.

Actually, that's not what a phone bank is, it turns out. I still have only 1 phone. But I did use that phone to call lots and lots of random party-less voters and ask a few of them their opinions on gay marriage and Proposition 8. My stats, which apparently reflected unusual productivity, were approximately 77 dials, 17 wrong numbers, 9 definite "no" votes (yay!), 1 definite "yes" vote (boo!), 1 non-English speaker (Italian, I think, but I marked her as Spanish), and 2 undecideds. Meaning that almost 50 of my calls went to people who weren't home or didn't answer their cell phones. There's got to be a better way to do this! Two people in our bank had over 50 wrong numbers each. Is that really worth the time?

It is, it turns out. We raised a bit of money and got a few volunteers to help out next week. That's enough to make it worthwhile, though not enough to win. If you have time and live in California, please see if you can attend just one four-hour phone bank. They're everywhere, every weekend and some weekdays. If you don't live here, please give some money. Any money at all. The website is linked above, or you can contact me and I'll arrange a donation. The campaign is endearing itself to me by requesting donations of bizarre amounts like $173 or $36.

If you have no interest in keeping same-sex marriage legal in California, and you somehow read this blog anyway (who the hell are you, hypothetical reader?), think of this as a way to mobilize vastly more Obama voters to actually get to the polls in November. Don't let the wackos like my one "yes" voter win this. His reason for voting the wrong way? Marriage should be hard work, as difficult as possible. Gay people want to get married just for "convenience." We should be allowed to adopt children, but not get married; we just don't work hard enough. Really, I'm barely paraphrasing. These are the nuts to beat.

On a lighter note, I was given a free DVD of Dante's Cove at the phone bank. Good God is that show awful. It's like porn, but with tastefully censored sex scenes. Leaving only stilted dialogue and wooden acting behind. At least the people doing the bad acting are hot. Except Tracy Scoggins, previously best known to me for her ludicrous portrayal of gossip columnist Cat Grant on Lois and Clark. Maybe Bab-5 fans will take issue with my dismissal of Ms. Scoggins; I must admit I've never seen it. Feel free to take me to task. Just as long as you also donate some money to No on Prop 8.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Still alive

It's been 10 days since my last update. I've spent much of that time rearranging furniture and then sitting on it. Not too much interesting has happened. I just feel like I should update so the internet doesn't think I'm ignoring it. Don't worry, Tubes, I still love you. I'm just not writing to you as often.

UPDATE: Mere moments after posting this, I read of the horrible train crash here in LA that took place this afternoon. The title of this post gains new relevance in this light. I'm not sure what I have to say on this topic yet, but man is it scary. This is at the root of my fear of roller coasters (along with the whole height and speed and motion sickness thing): what happens if somehow another thing is on the track going the other way? You can't get off the track. You just die. Like in that creepy story from freshman year English in high school.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Triangle Board

Today the Mysterious X and I went on our first furniture-buying excursion. Praise be to the thrift store, for we found a dining room table with four matching chairs all made out of REAL WOOD! I hate, loathe, despise and abominate particle board. Not that the former table was made of it, but far too much of the furniture one can afford on my salary is. This find was refreshing. It's shitty wood, assembled in Malaysia probably by underpaid children, but as the secondhand purchase supports the AIDS Healthcare Foundation instead of the sweatshop, I felt little guilt about this. And that limited guilt was immediately assuaged by simply running my hands over the smooth wooden surface of our new table.

On the same trip to Out of the Closet, we donated my old DVD player, purchased there one year ago for the whopping sum of $25.00. Unfortunately, when we returned home and tried to watch a DVD, we discovered that the Mysterious X's DVD player is too newfangled for our Triassic television, and I had to run back to the store and un-donate the old one. D'oh. There go our hopes and dreams of a DVD player with an operational remote control. If only the old and new fangles had been compatible!

I also returned home with a small, blue, thick-bottomed glass dish in the shape of a fish to use as Nikolai's new water dish; this should free up one of my ramekins for more culinary purposes. We'll see if he accepts that change along with the newly rearranged living quarters and change from broccoli to lettuce that I inflicted upon him today. This may be too much for his delicate constitution to take at once. Especially since one of his crickets is a free-range one I caught in the living room instead of a Petco-raised industrial cricket.

Soon we will return to OotC to seek more furniture of the non-particulate type. Important living room items remaining: coffee table and/or end table(s), TV stand, possibly a lamp. Though I might be fascinated enough by a particle board lamp to give it a shot.

Non-moving-related thoughts are on hold for the moment; forgive the fascination with furniture and fish-dishes.