Archive for May, 2012

Pentecost and Cory Booker: an odd duo.

May 26, 2012

There is a passage in Acts that describes a gathering of individuals (hardly even the ultra-early church) where individuals spoke in his/her native language and was understood by the recipient in his/her native language (think text predictor gone right).  I’ve been to enough church services on enough continents to pick out some of the more ritual aspects of the services (some always confuse me: The Apostles Creed descending to hell or not, trespass/debts/sin variations on the Lord’s Prayer) that I can intellectually understand that passage to mean an understanding due to ritual, body language and common ideals.  Of course, I’m always bemused by Peter saying people aren’t drunk because it’s 9:00 am, clearly, the man had never tailgated in the SEC/Big 10 areas of the world: especially when it’s coupled with the German peasant phrase popularized by Goethe of strawberries by Pentecost mean a good wine crop.  (Note, there were ripe strawberries at the farmers market today in the Boston ‘burbs so I’m thinking it’s going to be a good wine crop. . . ).

As I drove around today making stops at various farmers markets, I couldn’t help but notice all the flags flying at half-mast (an oddly enduring Massachusetts tradition) and think about Memorial Day in the context of those gathered during the first Pentecost and wondering what we would collectively say to each other if what we were saying would be understood.  It would probably come very close to what has landed Cory Booker in hot water for saying what many of us believe: as Andrew Rosenthal wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed

“Cory Booker, the young, dynamic and often unpredictable mayor of Newark, got himself into hot water over the weekend by likening Republican attacks on President Obama’s former relationship with Jeremiah Wright to Democratic attacks on private equity. “This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides,” he said on “Meet the Press.” “It’s nauseating to the American public.”

He also touted the president’s pro-business record (“over 90% of Americans have seen tax cuts under this president”), and said that Mitt Romney “would have let the auto industry fail,” but the media focused on his apparent defense of Mr. Romney’s work at Bain Capital. “I know I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people are investing in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses.”

The sad thing? Booker has spent the week apologizing for his comments.  Booker spoke in a language everybody – right, left, center – understood.  We are tired of the finger pointing, hatred, vilification of opposition.  Discuss your plans, the concrete ones and how you are going to pay for them.  Show us how you will improve our systems.  If the only way you can win is by trashing your opponents, you aren’t worthy of the position.  Booker is right, it is nauseating.  We as a country are better than this: and when an individual feels he has to apologize for heartfelt, probably dead on accurate comments, there is one thing I’m pretty certain of: we all agreed on the message from Mr. Booker, it just hit some on the campaign trail a bit too close to home.

Upon your graduation … some advice to the Class of 2012

May 14, 2012

Since I’m never going to be rich or famous enough to offer tips for success to new graduates, here is my advice for the newly minted graduates of 2012.  Some are funny, some are serious and some flat out address my pet peeves from the class of 2011.

25. Live beneath your means, at least for the first 5 years out of school. 

24. Do your own taxes.

23. Take a class on retirement planning. This summer.

22. Get a copy of your immunization records, birth certificate and medical records.

21. Get a number of a locksmith.  Put it in your cell phone and glove compartment. Trust me.

20. Set your Facebook profile to not let people auto-tag you in pictures.

19. Tight clothes are never appropriate in the work place.

18. Trust me, your boss knows when you come in, when you leave and how many breaks you take.  So do your co-workers.

17. Find a hobby that is off the beaten track of what your friends do.

16. There isn’t a job beneath you; there isn’t a ‘dream job’.

15. Eating fish at your cube will result in comments being made.

14.  Share chocolate not drinking stories.

13. Learn to travel alone.

12. Take a job you think you might be interested in.

11. Stay in touch with former employers, professors and colleagues.

10. If you get fired (and you probably will), spend some time thinking about why you were fired.  Generally both parties could have done a better job in communicating.

9.   Always write a response to your review: just don’t sign and date. Put some thought into the critique of your performance.

8. Know a job you would excel at, know a job you would not like, know a job you would want if you could have any job in the world (even if it’s not in your field).  All are popular interview questions.

7. “I’m a people person”  or “I’m a hard worker” are probably the single most over-used phrases in the hiring process.

6. It’s ok to say you do not aspire to be a people manager.  Some people manage projects better than people.

5. Keep your work colleagues separate from your friends.

4. Stay current with your profession, even if it’s on your own time.

3. Take advantage of tuition reimbursement offered by employers.

2. Leave your laptop, cell phone and blackberry at home during your vacation.

1. Find your passion.  You will be spending a lot of time during your life at work: working in an area you feel passionate about makes all the difference in the world.

Longest Gay Week

May 13, 2012

Long week. Long, long, long week. A week ago, Joe Biden makes a statement being for marriage equality on Meet the Press. Monday, North Carolina voters re-affirm homophobia and stereotypes. The next day, Mitt Romney is outed as a boarding school bully and Obama announces he supports same sex marriage.

Let the debates begin.

One of my friends wrote a lovely note about why LBGT people couldn’t expect Obama to come out for gay marriage due to the risk of loosing an election. Ok, that became a bit moot later in the day but I wonder? Will this cost Obama the election? I hope not.

I’m tired of being politicized. I’m tired of who I love being news. I’m tired of people who probably eat pork, shellfish, wear mixed fabrics and have probably never studied any religion outside of the four walls of their chosen faith have decided I’m an abomination. I’ve said it over and over, until somebody can explain to me why my marriage, my personal life can explain to me why/how it is a threat to their marriage, personal life without using religious language, I’m not interested in listening. It’s fear. Of course, if I had a marriage, it might be a bit more personal – right now, it’s a construct argument.

I wanted to feel elation when the president said he was for gay marriage. Instead, it immediately became a political debate. Did he do this for the ‘gay vote’? What votes will it cost him? I’m not stupid, it’s an election year. And in Washington, everything is about the next election. I had to explain to somebody all of the federal benefits of marriage: not just the obvious IRS tax code ones. The marrying a foreign national, the Social Security death benefits and on and on. I wanted somebody in the GOP to finally stand up and say, you know what? It doesn’t matter what happens between two consenting adults. I didn’t want to hear pundits bash gay conservatives. Sexual orientation and religion don’t belong in politics. I don’t feel threatened by my straight conservative friends heterosexual marriages and I’m going to guess they don’t feel threatened by my personal life.

Then we hear about Romney the boarding school bully. Just what we need. How can you forget if you cut off a classmates hair? Having been subject to some lovely junior high/high school bullying, I remember who spit on my face. I don’t know if they remember: I’d like to think they do. Of course the student involved was closeted. Of course.

Last Sunday, I thought maybe we can have a civil discussion about what it is like to be gay in this country, and how much it hurts. By the end of the week, I wanted to curl up in my bed and sleep. It’s been an exhausting week. It always is when people get to vote on your rights: and even when the president offers you an olive branch, it still hurts.

The road to equality is long and painful. I prefer knowing my enemies. I applaud Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden for their public change in position. In a few years, hopefully this will be viewed as a moment like President Johnson’s introduction of the Civil Rights Act. Courage isn’t often loud: courage is standing up for your beliefs when you have something to lose. Maybe that is what I needed to hear all week: not Romney the bully, the political gains/losses or did Biden force Obama’s hand. What I needed to hear was that when all is said and done, hopefully Obama and Biden will be remembered for standing up for what is right when it could cost them their jobs. And that type of courage should always be celebrated.

North Carolina and Amendment One: A Chance to Say No to Bigotry

May 4, 2012

Most of the time, state ballot intaitives amuse me: should we repeal a liquor tax? What about letting people smoke pot in public? I tend to think of it is the great political revenge of letting voices be heard on some entertaining issues.

Not so next week in North Carolina.  Next week voters in North Carolina are seeking to define relationships.  Currently, the Tar Heel State is does not recognize gay marriage. Now, they are seeking to ban it.  The legislature this year managed to place on the ballot the following:

Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.

If this amendment passes, North Carolina’s Constitution would read as follows:

“Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

Marriage, not civil unions, not domestic partnerships, is the only legal union.  To some people, there might not be a distinction between only allowing heterosexually married couples to receive the government benefits of marriage.  There is: this proposed amendment has the potential to impact domestic abuse charges, custody and support rights in non-married heterosexual couples.

There has long been the stereotype of the ‘narrow minded Southerner’.  This amendment promotes that stereotype.  In a telling quote, Majority Leader Rep. Paul Stam (R-NC 37) stated “They’re going to bring with them their same-sex marriages. They’re going to want to get divorced and have custody issues decided”, he said. “We’re not equipped to handle that.”  Rep. Stam, let me personally assure you, the gay community is not interested in rushing to North Carolina to get divorced.

Maybe one day I’ll understand how individuals can think my decision on who to marry has any impact on his/her relationships (aside from the obvious affair).  Passage of this amendment would be a giant step backwards.  Not just for the LGBT community but for every citizen of North Carolina, and by extension everybody who knows and loves somebody in the Tar Heel State.

I find it bemusing that the political party which staunchly opposes perceived intrusions into our personal lives supports such a reaching decision.  This is bigotry.  This is fear mongering.  This is hatred of the other.

My only hope and prayer is that the people of North Carolina see this for what it is worth and refute the amendment.  We all deserve better.