Archive | November, 2011

Old guys gone wild: why I like the YMCA

30 Nov

I think there’s a lot of truth to this cartoon, and it expresses one of the reasons I’ve always liked the YMCA (where there are still communal showers). It helps me be less body-conscious, less shame-prone about being who I am and looking the way I look. What you see is what you get and it can be very freeing. God bless those naked old men.

NYC haiku signs cater to short attention spans

30 Nov

In a culture that increasingly expresses itself in fewer than 140 characters, New York City thinks it’s found a way to grab a piece of that ever-shrinking attention span: haiku for public safety signs. I think there should be one for people who waltz into traffic on their cell phones, unaware there are such things as traffic lights.

Speaking of which, here’s a good one:

Oncoming cars rush
Each a 3-ton bullet
And you, flesh and bone.

Scott Walker-appointed commissioner says no workplace protection for the gays

29 Nov

They sure do hate gay people, don’t they? The ‘they’ being nearly all of the Republican Party as it now presents itself: a wholly owned subsidiary of the Christian extremists.

Poor Wisconsin, a state I’d once liked so much. At this rate it’s going to be a place I never go again. Scott Walker and his reactionary GOP are showing the way to a terrible future.

From Wisconsin Gazette.com:

A commissioner on the board that makes final decisions in cases involving workplace discrimination says Wisconsin law does not prohibit anti-gay harassment on the job.
Her two fellow commissioners strongly disagree.

Laurie McCallum, who was recently appointed by Gov. Scott Walker to a six-year term on the state’s Labor and Industry Review Commission, wrote that the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act applies only to sexual harassment. That contention was the basis for her dissenting opinion in a case involving Milwaukeean Chris Bowen, a machine operator who was subjected to years of anti-gay harassment as an employee of Stroh Precision Die Casting.

In a 2-1 decision, commissioners Robert Glaser and Ann L. Crump found that Stroh was responsible for fostering a workplace environment hostile to Bowen because of his sexual orientation. Stroh did not deny that the harassment occurred; nor did the company argue that anti-gay harassment is allowed under state law during the eight years that the case bounced around the court system.

But McCallum, the politically connected wife of former GOP Gov. Scott McCallum, defied nearly 30 years of precedent in state law by asserting that sexual “preference,” as she put it, is not a protected category in workplace discrimination cases.

[SNIP]

The court record showed that a group of Bowen’s co-workers repeatedly called him “fag,” “maricon” and “my little bitch,” among other slurs, over a period of years. Bowen once found a bulls-eye hunting target over which the word “gay” was written stuck to his toolbox. Someone put a sign that said, “queer” or “queen” on his locker. A sticker was put in his workplace that said, “Honk if you’re gay.” [emphasis mine]

Judge gives vicious religious group green light for suit against New York marriage law

29 Nov

Viciously anti-gay group “New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms” (an Orwellian name if ever there was one) has been given the go-ahead for their futile suit to invalidate marriage equality in the state.

I find it interesting that the judge states in his decision it would have caused no harm to same-sex couples to let the bill wait three days. Excuse me? The session was at its very end, had already gone over, and waiting three days would in all likelihood have been the death of the bill, which would have caused extensive and continued harm to gay couples. This suit is almost certain to fail, but god the bigotry gets tiring . . .

From Democrat and Chronicle.com:

A state Supreme Court justice in Livingston County has ruled that a lawsuit challenging the state’s same-sex marriage law can proceed and raised questions about whether the June vote to legalize same-sex marriage violated the state’s open meetings law.

The decision, dated Nov. 18, by Justice Robert Wiggins took issue with a variety of procedural steps taken by the Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo when the June 24 vote was taken. The measure passed 33-29, and Cuomo quickly signed it into law.

Wiggins, a Republican judge in the rural county, said the Monroe County-based group New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms presented enough evidence that the open meetings law may have been violated to let the case continue. The state has sought to dismiss the lawsuit, which was filed in late July.

“The Court must consider allegations by plaintiff as true. Considering plaintiff’s allegations, and without deciding matter at this time, the court feels that is a justiciable issue presented whether there was a violation of the Open Meetings Law,” Wiggins wrote in his decision.

Beware sperm-killing laptops!

29 Nov

Had trouble getting a muffin in your girlfriend’s oven? Thinking of spending a fortune on fertility treatments? Wait – it may be that laptop you’ve been hooking up at Starbucks!

From Reuters:

The digital age has left men’s nether parts in a squeeze, if you believe the latest science on semen, laptops and wireless connections.

In a report in the venerable medical journal Fertility and Sterility, Argentinian scientists describe how they got semen samples from 29 healthy men, placed a few drops under a laptop connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi and then hit download.
Four hours later, the semen was, eh, well-done.

A quarter of the sperm were no longer swimming around, for instance, compared to just 14 percent from semen samples stored at the same temperature away from the computer.
And nine percent of the sperm showed DNA damage, three-fold more than the comparison samples.

The culprit? Electromagnetic radiation generated during wireless communication, say Conrado Avendano of Nascentis Medicina Reproductiva in Cordoba and colleagues.
“Our data suggest that the use of a laptop computer wirelessly connected to the internet and positioned near the male reproductive organs may decrease human sperm quality,” they write in their report.

Kansas teen won’t brownnose Brownback

28 Nov

In a Twit-sation not seen since that snake escaped from the Bronx Zoo, a Kansas teen who tweeted that she’d made “mean comments” to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has refused to apologize at the demand of her high school principal.

From NPR:

A U.S. teenager who wrote a disparaging tweet about Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said Sunday that she is rejecting her high school principal’s demand for a written apology.

Emma Sullivan, 18, said she isn’t sorry and doesn’t think such a letter would be sincere.

The Shawnee Mission East senior was taking part in a Youth in Government program last week when she sent out a tweet from the back of a crowd of students listening to Brownback’s greeting. From her cellphone, she thumbed: “Just made mean comments at gov. brownback and told him he sucked, in person @heblowsalot.”

She actually made no such comment and said she was “just joking with friends.” But Brownback’s office, which monitors social media for postings containing the governor’s name, saw Sullivan’s post and contacted the Youth in Government program.
I would do it again.

– Emma Sullivan, 18

Sullivan received a scolding at school and was ordered to send Brownback an apology letter. She said Prinicipal Karl R. Krawitz even suggested talking points for the letter she was supposed to turn in Monday.
The situation exploded after Sullivan’s older sister contacted the media.

A stroll through Berlin (Maryland, that is!)

28 Nov

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Another Thanksgiving over, another Black Friday fades into the media mist. Partner Frank and I enjoyed our now annual trip to Bethany Beach, DE (via Atlantic City for a night of Thanksgiving at the penny slots) where we stay at our friends Kathi and Dave Hill’s house. They have a retirement home here, although they still live on a farmhouse in Maryland, and Kathi’s mother is nearby. We meet up with all these friends on Friday, have a Thanksgiving feast on Saturday, and make the long trip back to NYC on Sunday.

This time around we left Kathi and Dave to the cooking and headed with mother Marge for a side trip to Berlin, Maryland. The town came into being sometime in the 1790s as part of the Burley Plantation, a 300-acre land grant dating to 1677. This is an old town! The name is believed to have come from a contraction of “Burleigh Inn”, a local tavern. This may be why the town is pronounced “BER-lin,” with no connection to the city in Germany.

Today the town is very reminiscent of Frenchtown, NJ, close to our house in Stockton. It consists mostly of several blocks of Main Street (with some adjoining streets) lined with shops, some restaurants, and, at one end, the historic Atlantic Hotel, built in 1895 and still as grand as ever.

We happened to be there on “Small Business Saturday”, started by American Express as a way to encourage shopping at small businesses, many of which don’t take American Express! While I suspect it’s more a way of getting them to sign up for AmEx than of actually pushing small businesses, it was good to do some shopping that was essentially free (you spend $25 and get a $25 AmEx credit).

We stopped in a number of stores on our stroll, including j.j. Fish fine crafts, Culver’s Antiques, Town Center Antiques, and the Berlin Coffee Shop. There are 53 businesses listed on the brochures you can find in just about any of the stores, and if you have some time for a meal, you can eat in one of several good restaurants.

I noticed what seems to be, for small towns, the obligatory house-drawn tour carriage. Traffic is very light, or at least it was this afternoon, and the town clearly relies on tourists to keep going. If you’re in the area, its only about an hour from Rehoboth, less from Bethany Beach and other places you might find yourself, be sure to stop for a hour or three in Berlin and say we sent you!

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