Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

They are #cats. Really.

July 26, 2013

Last night I popped open an e-mail from somebody I’ve known for roughly 9 years.  We crossed paths in graduate school and I have, what I would have termed until yesterday, an extremely causal acquaintanceship with this person: meaning if we were at the same party, I’d go over and say hello but not much more that a superficial relationship at best.

“Hi.  I believe in honesty.  I just wanted to let me know that in light of the Trevon Martin decision, I found your link on FB to demonstrate latent racism on your part.  I’ve seen a few of your posts about your cat who you call ‘the world’s dumbest animal’ and now this link about another person referring to a black cat in the same manner.  This IS racism.  I’ve expressed my concerns to you before regarding the names of your animals.  Please consider these types of posts and naming of your animals going forwards.  In Christ’s Peace. . . . “

What. The. Hell.  Ok, get a grip you dumb ass New England Liberal, or more correctly, get your head OUT OF your ass.  Lafitte is a cat. (You know, 4 paws, whiskers, tries to catch birds/mice and meows).  He also is quite dumb.  Cute but dumb.

Jackson IS named after Andrew Jackson.  Yup, there are some aspects of the Jacksonian Era that are questionable, there are also some pretty good things (the start of the national banking system) and some quirky things (oh, big block of cheese, to the victor the spoils and that almost burning down of the White House thanks to a party). And depending on who you are, credit for starting the Democratic Party.  If you knew something about history, you’d get that Laffite was Jackson’s side-kick in the Battle of New Orleans securing the port during the War of 1812 (albeit after the war had ended).

But here is the thing: they are C-A-T-S named after (one could argue) moderately important figures and legends in early American history.  One is orange, one is black.  I had Lafitte’s named picked before I even saw him.  I got him because Jackson needed a side kick.

I’m not denying the very real racism that exists in this country: I’m not denying that as a person of European descent I do not fully grasp the complexities of racism (but when you want to chat with me about sexism, discrimination based on sexual orientation or disability, give me a call).

I am stating for the record, having a dumb black cat named after a pirate doesn’t making me a racist.  But sending me an e-mail telling me I’m one, and then signing your e-mail using religion only re-enforces my entrenched beliefs about over the top liberal idiocy regarding issues and the looking for oppression around every corner in and demanding an apology.

Not everything has a hidden agenda people.  Sometimes, you just name your pet after a few quirky personalities in history.  It’s not like I named him Mussolini.  Now *that* would have been offensive.

And for the record? The writer of the e-mail is a white, heterosexual male.  Not that it should make any difference.

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You say #Trayvon, I hear Evan.

July 14, 2013

Every time I hear the name Trayvon Martin, my mind changes it to Evan.  Evan is my towheaded perfectly adorable nephew who happens to be bi-racial.  There are plenty of times I’ve been out with my brother and his family and observed racism.  I’ve wanted to scream (on more than one occasion) after I’ve noticed my brother and sister-in-law being followed in box stores “They are BOTH better educated than you!”  (I know, way to counteract racism with classism.)

I spent a few hours coloring with my nephew on his 6th birthday.  Coloring a family picture, he was matching up skin tones to crayon colors.  Innocence.  I wonder when he will learn he is seen as “different” than his cousins: not for his unique characteristics but because he is not white.

My nephew is being raised bilingually (or, better stated, my sister-in-law is attempting to raise him bilingually, Evan is known to state his Spanish ears aren’t working).  His parents are instilling in him to be proud of his unique heritage that spans European, South American and Caribbean roots.

And I worry about them.  I worry about them as they travel in this country, where all three of them were born, what happens if they are pulled over because of profiling.  I tell my brother he needs to travel with passports when they leave the area where they live since how else can he “prove” he is a citizen? (Not that they should have to!).

But most of all, I worry about the day when my nephew discovers he is “different” and some people a suspicious of him because of how he looks.  I wonder what will happen when he is a teenager and he goes to the convenience store to get something to eat.  I hope by then we will have evolved as a country so that his parents won’t have to hear a knock on the door letting them know that somebody thought their child didn’t belong in the neighborhood.

A great #gay day. No, really. Take that #DOMA

June 26, 2013

I started today posting on Facebook about my very real fears regarding my rights remaining as the status quo, which would mean that I would not be a full citizen of the country of my birth.  Over the past ten years, I’ve watched this country become more accepting to gay marriage but I feared the decision coming from the Supreme Court.

As I waited for the decisions to be handed down, I felt the acid rising in my stomach.  I sat at work and desperately tried to focus.  I received a text shortly after I knew the decision had been handed down (damn my work place for blocking live stream!).  It simply said “well, shit.”  What? Followed by a virtual text explosion.  Almost every gay person I know started texting each other: stunned euphoria. Yes, we’d have liked for a broader reach, yes there is much work to be done but in a matter of minutes, gay people in 12 states and DC had the same federal rights as everybody else.

Tears started to slide down my face.  It was (almost) everything I asked for.  It didn’t take the sting away of having my civil rights be adjudicated. It doesn’t end homophobia.  It didn’t settle the constant state vs. federal rights battles.  As my co-workers started following the story of some football player being arrested for murder, I wanted to yell at them to shut up, to revel in the moment that for a lot of people today will be one we won’t forget because we were told what we knew: we are equal.

I realized that for them, the SCOTUS decisions weren’t that important.  A few passing comments were made, mostly “I thought we got rid of that a few years  ago”, but for the rest of the day, I kept checking my twitter feed to make sure, yes, that really did happen.

Tomorrow, we can start working on equality in all states.  But tonight is for celebration.

Julie #Hermann: Not Just A #Rutgers Issue (I’m Looking at You #Tennessee)

May 27, 2013

I follow the University of Tennessee Lady Vol Athletic programs. I started following them the way of many non-alum by way of their program flagship for women’s athletics, the basketball program which until this year had been coached under the legendary Pat Head Summitt.

I am not sure where the line is on Hermann and saying 1996 was a different ‘era’ (it has been 17 years) as far as how players expect (yes, I wrote expect) to be treated.  In the article published in the NJ Star-Ledger, the paper reports on a letter delivered to Joan Cronan (then the AD for the women’s athletics department, Tennessee merged their programs less than 5 years ago) which The Star-Ledger summarized as:

“Their accounts depict a coach who thought nothing of demeaning them, who would ridicule and laugh at them over their weight and their performances, sometimes forcing players to do 100 sideline push ups during games, who punished them after losses by making them wear their workout clothes inside out in public or not allowing them to shower or eat, and who pitted them against one another, cutting down particular players with the whole team watching, and through gossip.”

The letter was given to Cronan in the spring of 1997.  1997 is a critical year in the time line: the basketball team had just completed their second title run during which the team had 10 losses.  HBO would run a documentary called A Cinderella Season: The Lady Vols Fight Back. The promotional information from DCTV?

“Winners of the 1996 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship, the University of Tennessee’s Lady Volunteers seemed poised to contend for the trophy again. But halfway through the 1997 season, the team were not living up to their promise. They were losing almost every important game of the season. Injury to a star player, Kellie Jolly, didn’t help. It seemed that even the remarkable efforts of Chamique Holdsclaw would not keep the team from falling apart. Could this team really win again?

A Cinderella Season: The Lady Vols Fight Back follows the legendary Lady Vols for an entire season, from 6:00 am torture runs to inside the locker room, from the bench during games to bus rides, broken bones, and broken hearts. You will feel like a member of the team as they turn tears into triumph at the 1997 NCAA Championship.

The film also captures the intensity and drive of Pat Summitt, the Tennessee coach, as she molds her team into winners.”

In her second book, Pat Summitt states, Raise the Roof, Pat Summitt writes “Anybody who had gone through our 29-10 season had run miles and miles of wind sprints” (page 32).  The 29-10 season? The 1996-1997 academic year. Later in the same book, Summitt discusses the relationship with the off guard in the 1997-98 team which would win a third consecutive national title “You’re being selfish and stubborn.  You are acting like a brat.  Is that who you really are?” (page 168).  Summitt states this was offered as a challenge to then freshman Semeka Randall.  Name calling a player by a high profile coach, later acknowledged in a published book: zero consequences.

There is more from the same book:

To LaSonda Stephens in an open practice “You need to grow your little ass up”.  (page 196)

Bringing a copy of an unflattering newspaper article to Semeka Randall for her to read.  (page 208)

From Pat Summit’s first book, Reach for the Summitt:

“I saw the spot on the wall where I had thrown a cup of water in frustration with my center, Abby Conklin.” (page 4) in the presence of Conklin and the coaching staff (page 16).

Making a team practice in un-washed game day uniforms (page 107-108).

Notice a pattern here? The difference, of course, is that Pat Summitt’s players didn’t revolt.  The stories in and around the Lady Vols program around Pat Summitt are legendary.  For many years, Pat Summitt was considered THE coach in women’s athletics.  A young volleyball coach arrives to Knoxville and bears witness to behaviors which has created a beloved coach and a winning program.

Fast forward 20 or so years, where are the criticisms for the University of Tennessee for not investigating (remember, Hermann quit coaching and became an administrator at Tennessee) now? The outcry in Knoxville is a bit alarming.  Yes, Summitt stepped down due to early onset Alzheimer’s but her behavior of disrespect to players was openly accepted.  And Hermann’s replacement? 4 transfers this year under heavy questioning over verbal abuse of players.

I don’t know where the line is; I do know this.  I don’t believe for one second Hermann forgot all of the incidents (maybe some of the finer details) but her behavior on the Knoxville campus mirrored the documented behavior of the iconic basketball coach that continued after Hermann’s departure from the Knoxville campus.

Where is the line in the sand? And why is only one former coach being criticized?

#IntlDayAgainstHomophobiaAndTransphobia? Support a #ballez

May 17, 2013

Really.  There is a day (ok, several different days) that basically say it’s not ok to hate the non-heterosexual community.  I’m going to spare everybody my rant on that simply because I’m tired of writing it, saying it, and above all thinking about it.  Put it this way, every day, I’m reminded of how I’m “different”.  I’m over this.  Over it.  People blog about the sexualization/objectification of Disney FEMALE characters, has anybody looked at the images they present to boys?

Katy Pyle’s re-interpretation of The Firebird, a Ballez is MORE than just a queer ballet.  It is so much more than that.  This show re-examines how we present people.  Take a look at the picture below taken by Chrissy Pessango:

Chrissy Pessango Picture

Chrissy Pessango Picture

What do you see? More correctly, what do you see? Look at the different body types, look at the gracefulness each of these dancers holds.  Maybe one, ONE, presents the body type you would expect to see in a ballet.  One.  And here they are a dance corps, musicians who identify as non-heterosexual but teaching a much broader lesson: the presentation of the craft is the important part.  Shaking up gender expectations is huge: doing so with health body images? Well that’s nothing short of spectacular.

The show opened last night as St. Mark’s church (an Episcopal Church in NYC).  Yes, a mainline church supporting queer art.

The $10,000 Pyle is hoping to raise is to provide better pay for those who have contributed so much to this project.  Please help fully fund her.  The show is sold out.  The importance of this re-envisioning is not just important for the queer community but for every person.  None of us are that “perfect” image.  Pyle’s work is groundbreaking.  Pyle’s dancers are taking very real risks in their professional lives.  The church that is supporting them will undoubtedly draw (more) criticism.  That is the risk of being a ground breaker.

This is the link to the KickStarter campaign.  Please give what you can.  The project is so close to being fully funded.

And no, I was not paid to write this review (and I wish is I was in NY so I could go see the show!!!)

The insanity of attempting to use your #fsa and #insurance plans. #mangledcare

May 13, 2013

The flexible spending accounts (FSA) are one of the more under utilized benefits by many of my co-workers.  The net is that you can legally allocated up to $2500 (as a single person) designated from pre-tax dollars to pay for prescription medications, physical therapy, medical co-pays, etc.  Usually (keyword) it works like a charm; you go to the pharmacy to pay with the debit card and it’s done.

Until one day, you receive in the mail letter stating that they company managing the FSA system (in my case PayFlex) sends you a letter stating they need “an itemized receipt for the treatment received”.  It’s a Dante worthy ring of hell adventure just this side of having to be the unfortunate soul to cuts Donald Trump’s hair. Really.

Being a proper Gen Xer, I first tried to solve this issue on-line.  Being a total type A, save documentation you probably don’t need person, I pulled out the “Welcome to PayFlex” guide.  Any reasonable, logical, sane person would have waited until Monday to handle this over the phone.  After spending a few hours playing with the web site, I gave up and called.

I swear on Jackson’s life that the reason why costs care are what they are is because of the sheer ineptitude of the industry to become seamless.  It would save them money (increase profits), probably decrease secondary illnesses related to things like increased stress from dealing WITH insurance companies.  The reality is that none of these the issues I’m have their roots in the currently being enacted Health Care Reform Act/Obamacare.  My hope is that the new act will only LESSEN the frustrations.  I don’t have hope because the system is so entrenched.

So back to the attempt to use my FSA account. . . .

I mailed back the detailed receipt as requested.

They denied the claim.

I called.  Why was this denied? You didn’t use our form.  Uh, great but it doesn’t say to send a claim.  I read her the letter (really) and it didn’t mention a claim form.  A few transfers letter, they’ve agreed to re-review bill without the form since, you know, they don’t require it.

Back and forth, they ask if they can fax me something (no, I don’t have a fax number).  They are stunned.  I’m stunned.  I ask them to send me the form in the mail (true story: my printer broke and since I can use the printer at work? Why bother: most of my life is paperless) since I don’t have a printer.

Back on hold; they aren’t sure if they can mail me the form since it’s on-line.

More conversation, she keeps suggesting to me to use the online feature(s).  I wholly agree but I point out to her that since I am using my iPad, there is an encryption mismatch.  I agree to use my notebook to register for the services.  Turns out, my employee ID number wasn’t long enough: I needed 2 leading zeros. Turns out the zip code that I’m supposed to use is not mine but my employers (not in the information).  Log in.

Very first line? “New mobile applications for iPhones, iPads, Andriod and Blackberry.”

Somebody just send me Bully Boy Vodka.

 

And we are stunned by #Abercrombie & Fitch #feminism

May 9, 2013

I’ve seen variations of the following article discussing the idiocy of Abercrombie & Fitch in various versions all of over social media. This is the latest one to hit my Facebook feed.

Here is the deal: this isn’t like the CEO of Macy*s saying such a stupid remark.  A&F has a long, long, long history of questionable business ideas.  Deciding to boycott A&F now ranks up there with the idea of “Hey, I wonder if we can land a person on the moon?”.  Abercrombie & Fitch has long been worthy of a boycott, banishment and a simple refusal by sane people to not purchase their clothing.  Here are some of the highlights:

 

1) Employees are refered to as ‘models’.  Yup, you read that right, models.  I’m not going to go on an anti-model rant but in the context in of the 21st century model is just this side of “allowing for objectification” and “we won’t hire ugly people.”

2) In 2005, the company was subject to a federal consent decree due to a hiring and promotion practices.  A consent decree essentially means that the federal government has found their violations of federal laws has been so egregious that a third-party is required to monitor such activity.  I work in a heavily regulated federal industry, it’s extremely hard to wind up with a consent decree when matters of health, medicine and transportation are involved.  It’s damn near impossible when clothes are concerned.

3) A&F has a history of discriminatory practices against Muslims and people with disabilities.

4) Countless ads that objectify and/or sexualize children, ads that are xenophobic, employment practices that are far out of line cultural norms.

Look, this is a company that has united feminist groups, Bob Jones University, liberal religious traditions and several unions.  Yes, they did donate $10 million dollars an emergency department at a children’s hospital.  But the larger question is this: this is a company that at every turn manages to purposefully offend every non-white, thin, attractive member of the population.  Ten million dollars probably doesn’t even begin to cover the damages they have done.

The bigger question is this: Why the hell have people been shopping them for so long?

Angry Lesbian Rant Year After Amendment One #lgbt

May 8, 2013

FB this morning is that it’s been a year since NC declared I’m not an equal person. Most days, I shrug states rights. Ok, no days do I think that. But the year anniversary the day after Delaware made me completely disheartened.

You know, I’m sick of defending the South and Southwest where a chunk of my family and friends live. I pretty much think your states all suck. How you can look me squarely in the eye and say you don’t think I deserve the same rights as every other citizen is beyond me. This isn’t about marriage in the religious sense but about marriage in the legal citizenship sense. Don’t flatter yourself: a gay guy or a lesbian woman isn’t looking at you or your spouse plotting how to break up your marriage so we can ‘convert’ you. Really. And if you are worried about that? Find a therapist. Homophobia is curable.

If you can say you feel my right to marry a woman is “immoral” ok. Chances are you’ve done things in that Bible you want to shove in my face I could probably find a list of ‘immoral acts’ you’ve committed: starting with the shellfish argument, the clothes you wear, the fact you are ‘casting a stone’ created completely in your own mind(s). While I’m at it, while you are shoving your morals on my rights, do you even bother to attend church let alone tithe? Or do you stand on the judgement of others because you think it is your God-given heterosexual right?

Here is the piece which you probably won’t read. Gay people probably aren’t going to run a church that they know is gay unfriendly asking to be married. If you attend church, you probably know that the minister of a church usually retains the right to perform the ceremony. Marriage is both a civil and religious ceremony. I could give a rats ass about your church polity. My church polity allows for marriage, unions, blessings of same-sex couples. My state grants the same rights (it’s the part where the minister says “by the power vested in me from the state of xxxx”). You can keep your interpretation of God. I demand my civil rights: as a tax payer, as a citizen, and as a human. Until then, I think 39 states suck.

Simply #bostonstrong

May 1, 2013

Along Boylston
Along Boylston

Make shift Memorial at Copley.

Marathon pic2

Marathon pic3

Marathonpic4

Marathonpic5

marathonpic6

Also at Copley.

marathonpic7

Re-glassing of Marathon Sports.
Marthon Sports Reglass

For the first time since the marathon, I had to be in the Copley area.  I snagged a few pictures.  I’ve always thought that make shift memorials were weird.  As I wandered around the one that has sprung up on the Boylston side of Copley,  looking at random pictures, quotes, I understood.  New Englanders in general don’t show a lot of emotion.  There were tears shed.  The ever-present car horns that are Boston were absent, nary a Duck Boat in site and the street musicians were absent. Copley has changed.  We are still struggling.  We need the satellite trucks gone.  Our farmer’s market needs to open on time.  We will heal.  We are changed.  But we are #oneboston.

I’ve lived here longer than anyplace aside from my native Chicago.  I’m proud to call Boston home.  And our city will only be better.  Because, to quote the incident commander, “It’s what we do.  We are better than them.”  We are #bostonstrong.

The Act Bearing Witness: The Campaign for Southern Equality

January 13, 2013

I’m lucky: I live in a state that grants equal rights to all citizens. You know, that little tiny one that has a host of legal benefits called “marriage”. There is an organization that is working in the south try change the laws so that all citizens have the right to marry the person they love. The Campaign for Southern Equality is working to raise awareness, change the laws and bring equality to citizens in one of the most hostile regions of the country.

I’ve said it a thousand times and I’ll say it a thousand more: I don’t care what your religious doctrine says about gay marriage. I truly don’t. My religion, church and congregation affirm marriage of all couples (and was one of the first in the nation to do so). It’s welcoming in the definition of the world welcoming: not the hip/trendy we are for gay rights that seems to permeate many congregations. I really, really, really don’t care what your interpretation of God is when it comes to my rights (but, unless you are willing to live by the entire literal teaching of The Bible, I’m also not interested in a discussion with you on the subject.

About this time every year, I become angry as I’m reminded I’m not a full citizen in the eyes of my government. I find it odd since apparently I qualify as a “Daughter of the American Revolution” (yeah, something about leaving Massachusetts for Ohio in the 18th century) and have some indigenous heritage as well (talk about not having the energy for apologist history). Every year when I complete my Massachusetts return, I’m reminded how in the eyes of the federal government, I don’t have the same rights. I don’t have the right to survivor benefits (Sally Ride’s wife doesn’t; Neil Armstrong’s wife does), I am not automatically given the right to make medical decisions for my spouse, don’t even go there with what can happen to inheritance issues in states that don’t recognize marital equality.

I’ll never understand how anybody can think my (non-existent) marriage can be a detriment to their marriages. This is civil rights: this is the equality of all citizens.

Tomorrow, two friends of mine will apply to have their legally obtained marriage license registered in the state of their current residence. It will be denied. They know it will. It won’t make it hurt less. It doesn’t make it less wrong. All it means is that in the 21st century, two people who I’m honored to call friends will be denied the rights that straight people take for granted. They both hold advanced degrees; they both work for justice. One likes basketball, one likes the Oscar Ceremonies the point of obsession. They are both normal women who love each other. And tomorrow, in the land of the ‘free’, they will be told and all of us who love them will be reminded of how they are oppressed by the state they live in and by the federal government. Yes, we’ve come a long way in under a decade, but we have so further to go. And until then, people like my friends will be told to their faces “their kind” (my kind) isn’t welcome in our country. And that is nothing short of shameful.