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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sights of British Columbia, part 1

I'll eventually post some actual words about my trip to British Columbia. For now, here's a bit of what I've seen.

Chief Wakas Pole
Pretty flowers
Low tide
An invitation to bust my ass. I declined.

Raccoons, which are even worse than squirrels.

The market 
Ginormous carrots, with a regular one for scale.

A delicious salmon chowder pot pie from A La Mode


This guy
The central library, inspired by the Coliseum

An apologetic bus

A rather jaunty walk sign

Frenchie's House of Poutine.
Not sure why I find this so amusing, but I really do.

This is Sienna, my hosts' dog.
She's very sweet, and does not seem to mind having her picture taken.

Outside, trees, and several different sizes of rocks.
Note the ginormous one peeking out of the clouds in the background. 

More autumn, and an inviting pathway.
Well, not too inviting. There are bears and cougars out there!

Classes start Monday -- more soon! (Unless I get eaten by a bear or a cougar.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Signal boost: Horizons Foundation's annual fundraising gala and celebration

Another cause to consider supporting: Horizons Foundation's annual fundraising gala. Horizons is a philanthropic social justice organization that, for 30 years, has been "meeting the needs, advancing the rights, and celebrating the lives of LGBT people through a diverse range of programs, services, and initiatives." My good friend Darren Isom is on their board, and invited me to last year's gala -- the FB "cover photo" up there was actually taken on the way there. It was a fantastic evening! This year, they'll be honoring Congressman Barney Frank and Kate Kendell (Executive Director of the NCLR) for their leadership in the LGBT movement.

You can make a donation in any amount -- just enter a contribution amount and, under "Number/type of tickets or sponsorship," chose "donation only." A $250 donation will get you into the main gala -- a cocktail reception and silent auction, followed by a dinner and awards presentations, all at the Fairmont Hotel -- as well as the casino party afterwards, which will take place at the Tonga Room. Casino-party-only tickets are available for $75 and, again, a pledge of support in any amount would be welcome.

If you do choose to give, at any level, please be sure to note Darren Isom as the "event captain or sponsor." And, if you know anyone else who might want to support Horizons Foundation in their efforts to strengthen and support LGBT people and communities, please spread the word!

To donate.

For more information on Horizons Foundation.

What's so funny 'bout reason, discernment, and reality?

I am not a conservative. This means that I will disagree with conservatives on many things. Many. But it is possible for me to *respectfully* disagree with someone. If someone speaks in sentences that involve words with actual meanings, and that express thoughtful arguments and conclusions, I might disagree with those thoughts, and find those arguments uncompelling, but that wouldn't mean my interlocutor was speaking gibberish. She could have a critically engaged set of beliefs and opinions, and the fact that they differed from my critically engaged beliefs and opinions would not render them senseless. (Not necessarily, at least.)

The tragedy for the types of conservatives that I can respectfully disagree with -- and who might be able to respectfully disagree with me, in return -- is that America's conservative party has stopped speaking in sentences that involve words with actual meanings, and that express thoughtful arguments and conclusions. The party's public persona is one of assertions that are either willfully ignorant, counter-factual, or totally disconnected from any engagement with reality. Mitt Romney's recently publicized comments grossly misrepresenting 47% of Americans are another reminder that his campaign isn't even trying to offer reasoned (or even reasonable) beliefs or arguments that demonstrate critical engagement with the world as it actually is. They have long since stopped being people I can respectfully disagree with, and I'm confused about how anyone can even (self)respectfully agree with them at this stage. They have become senseless --not shaped by reason, showing poor judgement, lacking in awareness and understanding -- and even other conservatives are having to admit this now.

The tragedy for all of us is that we can't really count on America's voting public to care as much as I do (or even as much as David Brooks seems to) about reason, discernment, or reality. And there's nothing funny about that.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Ayanbadejo and Kluwe vs. Burns

Um, this is fantastic. So, Brendon Ayanbadejo is a linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. He has also been an open and vocal supporter of marriage equality for at least a few years now. Here's an opinion piece he wrote for HuffPo back in 2009. It's short -- go read it. That piece means it shouldn't have been surprising to anyone when Ayanbadejo recently raffled two tickets to a Ravens game as part of a marriage equality fundraiser. Well, surprising or not, Emmett C. Burns, Jr, Maryland State Delegate (D), didn't like it. In fact, he disliked it so much that he wrote this letter, asking the owner of the Ravens to censor Ayanbadejo. Here's HuffPo on that, and here is Ayanbadejo's response, as reported by the Baltimore Sun. I especially like this part of it:
“I just thought it was important because it’s an equality issue. I see the big picture,” Ayanbadejo said. “You know, there was a time when women didn’t have rights, black people didn’t have rights, and right now, gay rights is a big issue and it has been for a long time. And so we’re slowly chopping down the barriers to equality. We have some minority rights we have to get straight and some gay rights, then we’ll be on our way -- because ultimately, the goal is to be the best country that we can be and we’re always evolving. You just look back to where we came from, and we’ve come a long way, but we still have a ways to go.”
I also love (LOVE!) the 2 cents Chris Kluwe, Vikings punter, has thrown in, voicing his support for Ayanbadejo, the first amendment, and marriage equality. With jokes. Go read it, but put your late-afternoon coffee/Diet Coke (or happy hour cocktail, for my East Coasters) down before you do.

Did I mention that I love it. Good work, boys. I might actually have to start cheering for you and your teams. You know, when it doesn't conflict with Saints loyalty and fantasy football.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Giving credit where credit is due

My favorite quote about Bill Clinton's speech tonight came from Steve Schmidt, one of MSNBC's Republican commentators, who said:

It was extraordinary. It was a virtuoso political performance -- there's no other politician in America in the last generation that could hold the attention of a crowd, have them yelling and screaming, speaking for 3 quarters of an hour. I mean, I wish to God, as a Republican, we had someone on our side who had the ability to do that. We don't. It would be great if we did. Just a[n] amazing performance.

Loved it that Clinton brought jokes. Loved it even more that he did so while breaking down actual policy.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Crunk Feminist Collective on MHP and eloquent rage.

I have to thank a FB friend for posting a link to The Crunk Feminist Collective's insightful short piece on Melissa Harris-Perry losing her cool at Monica Mehta. A video of the moment in question is embedded in that article, and you can find the longer segment at the website for MHP's show.

I was watching that episode, and I was absolutely thrilled when the moment occurred, both because MHP was right, and because Mehta had been saying *horrible* things the entire time, and I had only been able to yell at my TV screen. But, I've avoided looking into coverage of the moment, because I couldn't voluntarily subject myself to the inevitable "Angry (Black) Woman" stereotype reinforcement that I presumed would follow, or having to explain, over and over, why responding to this through the lens of "irrational women" or "overly sensitive Black people and their bad tempers" is both inappropriate and either deeply misguided or intentionally distracting. As The Collective wrote:

One of the ways White supremacy and sexism works is through a putative disavowal of emotion as a legitimate form for expressing thought. Women and Black people are overly emotional, so the conventional wisdom goes. We have been taught to overcompensate for this stereotype by being overly composed, even when anger is warranted. 

I don't think people should be in the habit of shouting each other down on a regular basis -- it's a terrible way to run a discourse. But sometimes you shout because someone has refused to actually participate when you tried to have discourse. Sometimes, you shout because you've been pushed too far to allow propriety to be used in service of misinformation, narrow-minded selfishness, condescension, and a thoroughgoing lack of empathy. Sometimes, asked to hold one more offense, your cup runs over.

So, thanks, A., for posting a link to something I could read without getting enraged. With election season now in full gear, I'll have plenty or reasons to rage, and should probably save what little eloquence I have for that.