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May 27, 2004

Ahmed Chalabi, meet Jayson Blair

This story in the SF Gate mentions a story in the NY Times about a number of stories that were published by the SF Chronicle about the Iraq war that may turn out to be less than accurate. (Thanks for that Heavy Meta category!)

Here's an excerpt from the NY Times article:

The most prominent of the anti-Saddam campaigners, Ahmad Chalabi, has been named as an occasional source in Times articles since at least 1991, and has introduced reporters to other exiles. He became a favorite of hard-liners within the Bush administration and a paid broker of information from Iraqi exiles, until his payments were cut off last week.

The NY Times goes on to discuss their own poor fact checking, willingness of the editiorial staff to go for the scoop, downplaying of subsequent information that questioned the veracity of previous published reports...

There's this, too:

It is still possible that chemical or biological weapons will be unearthed in Iraq, but in this case it looks as if we, along with the administration, were taken in. And until now we have not reported that to our readers.

It's unclear what inspired the NY Times to look in the mirror, though the defrocking of Chalabi is likely to have something to do with it. I'm pleased to see that the Times is taking some responsiblity, but it's not enough, it's just not enough. Questions remain.

What the hell is going on at the NY Times when Ahmed Chalabi, the (previously) US annointed heir to the throne in Iraq is a more credible source of information about Iraq's WMD program than Hans Blix? Where's the independent reporting? What does the press think it's job is during this war? Has the media really turned into an arm of the White House propoganda machine?

I get that I'm late to the table on this issue and that reporting has been of questionable quality ever since the Bush administration muzzled the White House press corp. But I find this news about the NY Times as depressing as anything I've read lately. It's like finding out someone I love has been lying to me. How could I have been so naiive?

May 26, 2004

How Many Invasions Does It Take

Considering the "news" today, I'm thinking about the cost of the Iraq war versus the cost of having an air marshal or two on every flight, thorough inspections in ports, and other policing activities that would do far more to diffuse active terrorist plots than invading and occupying another country—thus creating more people with degrading hope for their lives and an entity upon which to fix their resentment. Hmm.

Stepping back from that, what kinds of things could we have done to change the world with aid rather than bombs for the same price? What if we had focused our energies on making Afghanistan a welcoming place to democratic reforms and legal business? How would the legacy of that kind of activity differ from what we're going to have from the invasion?

Thinking about the actual threat to Americans versus the perceived threat, I'd like to echo something that appeared in a recent issue of Mother Jones: a list of statistics in the style of the Harper's Index. From "Stats of the Union":

In 2001, 476 more Americans died of malnutrition than from terrorism.

Yes, that year.

May 23, 2004

Book 'em, Dano!

New Library_07.jpg

I've always been fond of the library, but now, my love has no bounds. It's brilliant. There are a few more pictures here, but really, you should just go downtown and see for yourself. Words fail me, all I can think of is this: it's freakin' incredible.

Wien --> Firenze

Well, I got my wienerschnitzel, which was nice. But with apologies to Pam, I didn't get to eat mehlspese at Demel. It was mobbed. On Friday, everything in the Innere Stadt was a mess of tour groups, rude German tourists, and cringe-worthy Americans. Kohlmarkt and Kartnerstrasse were so packed that I was literally claustrophobic outdoors. I did manage to successfully use all forms of Viennese public transport (U-Bahn, tram, and bus) and got to all the parts of the city I really wanted to see. Somehow, though, I kept ending up at the Hofreitschule Spanische everywhere I went--but alas, no Lippenzauner were on display. Only the local daily giving away a car.


By the time I met David at 5 to head to the train station, I was ready for Italy--just a hort, luxurious first-class sleeper train trip away. We even got to use the first-class lounge at Sudbahnhof, which was great because the main station was crawling with freaks. Unfortunately, the biggest freak was the conductor on our sleeping car. In the interests of marital bliss, I'm opting to elide most of the details of the trip, save these: trauma unfolding the beds, no dinner, and the angriest I've even seen a grown man fighting an inanimate object (other than Dad). But then again, I was with David finally, the honeymoon began in earnest, so how bad could it be?

We got to Florence at about 6:15 am, kicked around a while waiting for the B&B to open, etc. The B&B is nice, though dragging our bags to the 3rd floor (that's 4th floor for us Americans) was, well, a drag. We went for breakfast while our room was made up, and decided to climb the 463 steps to the Duomo before the crowds arrived. Brilliant idea, amazing view, but one hell of a climb. Sweaty, exhausted, and in desperate need of a shower, we went back to the B&B for a well-deserved rest.

I'm almost out of time here, so I'll leave our amazing meals for another post. Paulette, we wept for your absence at lunch yesterday--I'll leave it at that. And also, our lack of love for the Uffizi Galleries--complete and unedited.

Anyway, molti baci agli nonstranieri nonfamosi!

May 21, 2004

Listening to Franz Ferdinand in Vienna

"Gruss Gott" as they say here, though I'm not sure anyone has spoken to me the entire time I have been here. Vienna is lovely but as David has been in meetings since we arrived it has been a very quiet day and a half for me. For those of you who may find it impossible, imagine if you will: Jay, quiet as a kirchemaus.

Our flights were good, if cramped; David slept quite a bit, lots more than I did. We got to Vienna (Wien) about 6:30 local time Wednesday, took a taxi to our hotel, and then had a nice snacky sort of dinner and bottle of wine at a restaurant one of our guidebooks recommended. After a brief tour of a couple of the nearby bars (just to mkae sure we were exhausted) we headed back to the hotel. We were both out like a light.

David got up early to head to his meetings (just a five-minute walk thanks to my excellent hotel-picking), and I couldn´t go back to sleep after he left. With my guidebook and my ten words of German I set out after an amazing breakfast at our hotel, which is quite nice and right on the Ring (marking the old city walls of historic central Wien). I was stunned to find the streets almost weirdly quiet... it was so nice to be in a peaceful urban setting. Then it got creepy--where was everyone? having enjoyed the silence quite enough, I pulled out David´s iPod (mine appears to be toast at the moment) and started listening to the eponymous debut album by Franz Ferdinand. We had downloaded it just for this ironic thrill. Where are the archdukes of yesteryear?

Anyway, I had just gotten to the really good song, the first single, when I arrived at MAK, the completely amazing decorative-arts museum. I spent about 4 hours inside, terribly glad I was alone... because nobody else would have geeked out on the centuries of art glass on display. From 15th-century Florentine martini glasses (by the look of them at least) to the 1880s Baccarat vases to the 1950s Costa art glass, I was enthralled. My glasswear fetish sated, I spent some disturbing time in the Otto Muehl exhibit before heading out. Oh, also, I completely adored the display of Beidermeier furniture curated by Jenny Holzer, complete with her trademark electronic captions at the top of the ornate Baroque hall. My only disappointment was the gift shop, which had no good postcards.

After (seriously) 4 hours there, I needed some food. So I visited the nearby Cafe Prückel, which was great. It was pushing 80 degrees and I sat in the sun with my goulasch und bier, getting really sleepy. David was planning to stop back by the hotel between 5 and 7 (it was like 3:30) so I thought I'd run back to the hotel for a nap. I woke up at 9:30! Apparently David's boss arrived late and needed a recap of the day's events before heading to a work dinner. I wasn't hungry, and for some reason was convinced David would be back soon, so I drew a bath in the HUGE tub, read about giant squid in the New Yorker, and waited some more. (German MTV is really wierd, I learned.) Anyway, by the time 11:00 rolled around, I was hungry... David arrived just I was going to head out in search of food. He was tired and apologetic about missing me earlier, and in the combination of those two I was able to convince him to head out with me. Unfortunately, 11:00 is the witching hour for restuarants here--they'll serve you drinks but not much else.

So against my better judgment, I ended up eating at a Mexican restaurant in Vienna. The Caipirinha was excellent, and the chicken burrito better than I had feared. With that, it was bedtime. David and I both zonked out--but not before mentioning that it had been a public holiday (Ascention Day, apparently), which explained the preternatural stillness of the city.

Today has indeed been much busier around town. David and I got up, checked out, stowed our bags, and had another huge breakfast. (Clearly, nobody here has heard of Atkins--it's bread galore, with no complaints from me.) I headed out on foot to the Karlsplatz/Margareten district... which as it turns out is less pedestrian-friendly than the Ring. And kind of gross. So when I saw a stop for the "hop-on" tourist bus, I thought I'd wait for it. And wait I did. For like an hour. And this whole time, chartered tour busses from Germany, France, and Spain disgorged elderly Europeans in front of me. Choking in diesel fumes and stepped on by one too many ancient Deutchlanders, I was getting pissy and misanthropic. I finally gave up on the tour bus, which would have been a handy way to see the sites, and opted for public transport. I'm not actually sure I needed to bother with the €5 daypass, since nobody seems to actually use any form of payment onboard. But Now I've found my way to a livelier area and an really nice new internet cafe owned by a family of Turks. The Austrians really seem to dislike the Turks, by the looks of the slightly menacing (if impossible to interpret) election posters up everywhere, but they look like upstanding Austrians to me.

Anyway, I have about 5 more hours before I meet David back at the Hotel to head to the Sudbahnhof to catch the night train to Florence. I'm ready to get to a country where I speak the language (at least more than here) and ready to enjoy the with-my-husband part of the honeymoon. That said, the past couple of days have offered a much needed chance to decompress from the wedding craziness.

I'm hungry... if I can just find somewhere to get some wienerschnitzel I'll be happy.

May 20, 2004

Two things

One, Virginiaisforhaters.org gets another mention in the Stranger this week. This time in reference to a planned rally down at city hall to urge a boycott of Virginia businesses.

Lawmakers in Virginia passed a remarkably stupid state law last month, banning contracts between same-sex couples. Nationwide, gays are now boycotting the state and companies headquartered there--like J. Crew, Capital One, AOL (check out www.virginiaisforhaters.com). On Friday, May 21, local gays--headed up by Michael McAfoose, who led the Mayday for Marriage counterprotest--will go to city hall and urge the city to approve a resolution boycotting dealings with Virginia His gang will also be chopping up their Capital One credit cards and AOL promo CDs on the sidewalk. AMY JENNIGES

Wish they'd mentioned the time though. I'd go.

Two, Jay or David, can you give me enough permissions to zap the comments from that asshole who's been spamming us all day. I'd hate for him to just load up the entire site with his little irritations until you all get back!

Vocation: Baggage Screener

Do you have what it takes to protect this country on the front lines? The vanguard role of baggage screener might be for you! Thanks to the miracle of modern computer simulation, you can test your screening skills—and your resistance to the whinings of passengers. Don't wait for reality television or embedded reporting to bring this exciting world to you!

It gets scarier day by day

Oh my God! And true to form I don’t recall any of the mainstream media picking this up. This is the kind of shit that scares me tremendously. The kind of shit that makes me worry that even moving to another country might not be sufficient to escape this.

Why is it Slate, Salon, BBC, the Voice, can uncover really, truly scary stuff like this, or damning evidence like the stuff about Bush lying about his service in the Guard, and the mainstream media never covers it for the rest of the country to see. Yet they do think Clinton’s personal indiscretions are scandal-worthy? Evidence that the president is a nutcase (and taking policy advice from even bigger whack-jobs! What’s next, a memo on Fred Phelps meeting with W to give advice on same-sex marriage policies?) and a liar are apparently less disconcerting than stains on a dress.

Look, I realize that lots of people in politics feel a need to believe in some religion (though why people need the threat of hell to make them act as good people is beyond me), but I like to think that for most of them it's a tradition and something that has a personal place in their lives, not the basis for policy making. It scares me when reason in law is replaced by superstition and FREAKING DOOMSDAY CULTISTS!

I want to hear just one more pundit bring up the “liberal” media. Liberal, yeah, if by liberal you mean that they’re in the pocket of the right-wing administration.

May 18, 2004

Pix galore!

Well, David and I are almost packed for Europe, so I took a few moments to upload, edit, and crop a few photos. Enjoy shots of the bachelor party, wedding, and of course Paulette's fabulous birthday party last night at Marrakesh.

Thanks to everyone who made all these festivities so fabulous, and look for some Bon Voyage/Voyeur posts soon!

May 17, 2004

Pictures to follow

Jay Porter and David Smith were married Saturday, May 15, 2004, in North Vancouver, British Columbia. Marriage Commissioner Maureen Hunter solemnized the ceremony, which began at five o’clock in the afternoon and was attended by 50 close friends and family members.

The wedding and reception were held at the Hamersley House Bed and Breakfast. Official witnesses for the brief ceremony were Paulette J. McKay of Seattle, and Michael Robinson of London, England. Seated in the first row were David’s mother Margaret Smith and stepfather David Smith of Adelaide, South Australia; Jay’s parents Judy and Larry Porter and of Oklahoma City; his grandmother Barbara Tompkins and aunt and cousin, Lynda and Janet Plemons. Jay’s sisters, Julie and Lyndi Porter, read a brief passage from Corinthians before the exchange of vows. Floral arrangements of calla lilies and white roses adorned the arbor of majestic fir and dogwood trees, laurels, and rhododendrons on the grounds of Hamersley House, a lavishly restored British Columbia Heritage Site dating from 1903.

David and Jay wore vintage tuxes, matching neckties in a light blue Art Deco pattern, and black satin vests. The “Jazz Age” theme continued throughout the evening, with prelude music featuring Ella Fitzgerald recordings of classics by Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, and others. As the grooms completed signing the marriage license, Chet Baker’s “Let’s Get Lost” heralded the arrival on the lawn of servers carrying champagne and hors d’oeuvres.

The wedding reception moved indoors as Jay’s sister Julie served as Master of Ceremonies as toasts were offered by both grooms’ attendants, with a special reading of “suggested vows” edited from suggestions of friends and family by Julie Welch of Seattle. After these toasts dinner was served. The buffet dinner by Louis Gervais Fine Catering was accompanied by the Twist of Jazz Trio. A selection of British Columbia wines and classic cocktails were served on the verandah, accompanied by a selection of Pacific Northwest cuisine small plates including local baby lamp chops, pork loin in Calvados glaze, firecracker prawns with kumquat marmalade, smoked salmon with black and white sesame seeds, and radicchio-wrapped bocconcini covered in a spicy sour cherry sauce.

Following dinner and drinks, the grooms cut their cake, a chocolate-espresso cake, covered in Tiffany blue and white vanilla fondant icing and silver dragées, which featured Art Deco architectural motifs and topped with a single calla lily.

Both grooms addressed their guests, thanking especially the numerous family and friends who had arrived from England, Australia, Oklahoma, Florida, California, and Oregon and mentioning fondly their many friends attending from Washington State, including fellow members of the Seattle Quake Rugby Football Club in attendance. Both grooms were emotional in their thanks for the unwavering love and tremendous support they have received from their families, both in the past and as a couple, and for the closeness of the dear friends who comprise their “urban family.” Both Jay’s father and David’s stepfather added their blessings for the union, and commented on the assemblage of so many friends from around the world and throughout the grooms’ lives. The toasts were ended with a special word of love and thanks from the mothers of both grooms.

Following the toasts, the grooms tossed their calla lily boutonnières to a crowd of their single guests; the prizes were caught by Tom Bentler and Julie Porter, though the two are not presumed to be marrying each other.

In addition to the wedding cake, guests enjoyed a caramel apple tarte, lemon mousse served in demitasse cups, and a selection of cheeses and fresh fruit. Following more drinks and dancing, the guests dispersed at eleven o’clock. The grooms’ immediate family and close friends stayed at Hamersley House for the weekend, enjoying the amazing hospitality of proprietors Shelly and Derek Porter.

Having returned to Seattle with the families Sunday afternoon following a picnic in Stanley Park, the grooms depart Tuesday for a honeymoon to Vienna, Florence and the Tuscan coast, and London.

May 11, 2004

Those damned humanitarian do-gooders

This is the kind of guy who probably actually likes George Bush.

Unfortunately, I guess there are enough people in Oklahoma who share James Inhofe's points of view that the man is in office.

A day for outrage, it seems to be. And a day for being that much more ashamed of being an American. I think that will be the strongest legacy the Bush administration leaves this country--that of making us the worst of the bad guys in the world.

God Hates Fred Phelps, Part MMMXXLVIII

This makes me so angry I can barely type. Our beloved rugby coach, John Cook, passed away earlier this year. In March, his partner Brett and many friends hosted a memorial service, with space kindly donated by Christ the King Catholic Church, whose priest had been John's friend for many years. Well, somehow Fred Phelps (whom you might remember from these posts about his sick, sad activities) heard about it and is coming here to protest a week from Saturday. David and I will be in Europe but if some of you could join the Quake boys in a counter-protest, it would be wonderful. I'm copying below Brett's note the Quake Rugby list and some of our responses, including the Phelps Family Itinerary of Hate.

On Sat, 8 May 2004, flip98102 wrote:

> Hello everyone, Brett here. I got some bizarre and infuriating news
> last night. Apparently Fred Phelps' hatemonger minions are planning to
> demonstrate at Christ the King church, because said church dared host
> a memorial for a goddamned, burn in hell forever faggot, namely John
> Cook. Their brainless hate is infuriating enough on its own, but this
> is happening specifically around John. I will be there. I told the
> Priest I wouldn't "make trouble", but there's no way I can ignore
> this. I know many of you will be out of town (it's supposed to happen
> May 22)but I hope a few of you at least can be there with me and for
> John. I still have to find out what time and other details, but
> please contact me (John's old number) if you want to help.


Hey Quake,

I went to www.godhatesfags.com (that is Fred Phelps' website) and got some details about the May 22nd demonstration.

May 22, 2004
3:30 pm 4:00 pm
Seattle, WA
Seattle Eagle Tavern, 314 East Pike St.

May 22, 2004
4:30 pm 5:00 pm
Seattle, WA
Christ the King Catholic Church, 415 N. 117th St.

So, apparently they will be at the Eagle and then Christ the King Catholic Church.

I'm not sure what sort of action we should take about this, but there must be some action. I have a meeting in the morning and hope to be out to the church by 4:30pm. I hope to see many of you. After reading some of their website and trying to keep my breakfast down I noticed a few interesting points. It appears that gays yelling at the protesters does a few things
1. shows them that we are as violent and immoral as those at Sodom and Gomorrah.
2. Shows them that someone is hearing their "truth".
3. It gets them off, they really like to see gay people upset because that is their mission.

Now, I don't agree with these things but according to their website this is what happens. So, I think we need to come up with something outside of yelling. I think if we all went there and silently prayed, or pretended to pray (depending on your feelings around God) with some signs saying something along the lines of: "We're Praying for You to Find Love". I think this would actually really piss them off. However, if this isn't your cup o' tea, Craig and I spoke with a judge last night and apparently if your record is clean and you go and thump some bible thumpers you will only get about 6 months of jail time and most likely you won't even see that, just some community service.

Either way I'd be proud of ya.

George

Unemployed Voters for Kerry

I can't help it. This really bothers me.

Massachusetts Sen . John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, was the only senator who missed the vote. Kerry was campaigning Tuesday in Kentucky.

Senator Kerry. Do you want my vote, or what?

Add brats, Australia Fair!

I can't really add anything to this... thanks for sending it Jamie!

Do It for Your Country

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australian couples owe it to their country to have more children and should get on with the job, the nation's treasurer said on Tuesday.

"You go home and do your patriotic duty tonight," Peter Costello said when asked by a journalist if he was "the family-friendly treasurer saying get out there and procreate."

Oklahomos roll their own boycott

I know these guys! I used to be a member of Cimarron Equality Oklahoma, which is running ads nationwide telling gay-friendly companies not to expand into Oklahoma. A number of anti-gay legislative efforts prompted the campaign.

It may have to wait until June, but I'm going to have to call them and say congrats on launching such a ballsy strategy--and for validating my idea of using the economic-development process to gain leverage in beating the antis.

May 10, 2004

Exporting "incarcerocracy"

America is just barely operating at the standards of democracy these days, but one thing we excel at is locking people up. With the fall of the Soviet Union and the demise of the Apartheid regime in South Africa, our closest competitors fell far behind. We lock up about 5.6 million of our fellow citizens--2.7% of our population, or one out of every 37 Americans.

So behind the bright and shining lie of "exporting democracy to Iraq," it's clear now after the Abu Ghraib incident that what we've really been exporting is something we have a lot more of on hand--our commitment to lock people up needlessly and then treat them savagely.

This sickening New York Times piece (linked to by Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo) drives the point home with quotes like this:

Physical and sexual abuse of prisoners, similar to what has been uncovered in Iraq, takes place in American prisons with little public knowledge or concern, according to corrections officials, inmates and human rights advocates.

In Pennsylvania and some other states, inmates are routinely stripped in front of other inmates before being moved to a new prison or a new unit within their prison. In Arizona, male inmates at the Maricopa County jail in Phoenix are made to wear women's pink underwear as a form of humiliation.

At Virginia's Wallens Ridge maximum security prison, new inmates have reported being forced to wear black hoods, in theory to keep them from spitting on guards, and said they were often beaten and cursed at by guards and made to crawl.

The corrections experts say that some of the worst abuses have occurred in Texas, whose prisons were under a federal consent decree during much of the time President Bush was governor because of crowding and violence by guards against inmates. Judge William Wayne Justice of Federal District Court imposed the decree after finding that guards were allowing inmate gang leaders to buy and sell other inmates as slaves for sex.

The experts also point out that the man who directed the reopening of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq last year and trained the guards there resigned under pressure as director of the Utah Department of Corrections in 1997 after an inmate died while shackled to a restraining chair for 16 hours. The inmate, who suffered from schizophrenia, was kept naked the whole time.


America--home of the imprisoned, land of the sadistic jailer. Are these pictures really a surprise, or are we experiencing the shock of recognition? As we decline into imperial despotism under Bush, Cheney, Rove and Rumsfeld, our prisons here and abroad increasingly resemble the apparatus of torture that links evil empires throughout history.

One wonders--how many Iraqis will we have to lock up to ensure a pro-US government is elected there? I'm sure we have somebody working out the math right now.

May 09, 2004

Don't quote me

Obviously I've been doing this Virginia thing ong the margins of a crazy personal and professional time... but I've done a lot of PR in my day and you would really think I could have pulled together some better talking points before my interview with the Washington Blade. How many times can one man use the word "just" in an interview? Just about a hundred! But the story came out pretty well, and people in Virginia definitely know about us now.

May 07, 2004

Yes, Please!

Now, THIS is some smartypants hijinks. Don't miss the WTO section.

Stupid Kid Things

Every time I see that picture of the young woman with the cigarette in her mouth giving the thumbs up, the same question comes to mind: Who is she? Where did she come from?

Stories are starting to surface. She's got a name. She's 21 year old Lynndie England of Fort Ashby, West Virginia. Here's a quote from one article:

Newspaper reports claim in Fort Ashby, Lynndie England is a being toasted as a hero, with one local quoted as saying that tormenting Iraqis would be no different to shooting a turkey.

Speaking from her trailer, Lynndie England's mother Terrie is quoted as saying her daughter was just doing stupid kid things, and that she was just following orders.

Google Lynndie and you can learn more about her and her home town. But you won't learn the answers to other questions. Like, why are we so surprised? Have we totally forgotten everything we know about history? We fought a war overseas in a place called Vietnam. We sent a bunch of young, undertrained solders to kill, watch their comrades die, and be destroyed themselves. History has shown us how they behaved. Rwanda. Somalia. Kosova. What happened in those places? War destroyed all the rules about human behavior.

When you Google Lynndie, you can find stories that almost - but not quite - defend her actions. Writers will tell you that it's not as bad as what happened to prisoners under Saddam. They'll say it's no My Lai. Yeah, they're probably right. But.

I've been thinking about myself at 21. And I've been thinking about what could have happened in my life to make me turn out to be like Lynndie. You know what? I feel sorry for Lynndie England. Not for what she appears to have done, but for whatever circumstances made her who she is.

May 06, 2004

VAhaters in The Stranger

Oh how we love Last Days by David Schmader! We always have, but now our love is requited:

MONDAY, APRIL 26

This week of drug-addled athletes, dramatic arraignments, and deeply damning photographs got off to an uncharacteristically inspiring start today, as a pair of male homosexuals in Madrona launched their political indignation into cyberspace with VirginiaIsForHaters.org, a snappy website devoted to denigrating the so-called "love state" for its April 23 passage of House Bill 751, which not only outlaws civil unions, but prohibits "any partnership contract or other arrangements that purport to provide the benefits of marriage." "We're getting married in Vancouver on May 15," say site creators Jay and David, "so we had plenty of other things to do at the moment. But this was such an outrage it was either do the site or have an aneurysm."

Wisely avoiding brain damage, the soon-to-be-newlyweds staked their claim on the Internet, urging fags and their friends to boycott Virginia tourism and VA-based companies--starting with the beloved-by-homos clothier J. Crew. "There's nothing particularly evil about J. Crew," admits Jay. "But they're all into being from Virginia, and now that seems kind of disgusting. With their loyal homo customers, we definitely saw them as low-hanging fruit."

Apparently we're going to be profiled in tomorrow's Washington (D.C.) Blade as well; I did an interview with them on Monday.

Hopefully this will buoy our site traffic, which now seems to have shifted to haters.

May 05, 2004

What was that pot calling the kettle again?

I find it distressing, if not surprising, that the race between Kerry and Bush is still so close. Though I know there is plenty of time before the election, it still would make me feel better if Kerry had a strong lead early on (similar to the way I feel about Yankees/Mariners games).

But the fact that Kerry's been hurt by Bush attack ads accusing him of being indecisive and pandering to special interests really makes me worry that the good people of this country are monumentally stupid. Uhm, so special interests would not include the logging, energy, coal, agribusiness, or automotive industries right? Because those are pretty much the only interests Bush even gives notice to.

And sure, it's true that Bush doesn't waffle, and he isn't indecisive. As we all know, when he makes a decision, he sticks with it, regardless of what happens to prove he was wrong.

Or the Bush campaign accusing Kerry of being "another rich liberal elitist from Massachusetts who claims he’s a man of the people." Because Bush is not just a rich, ultraconservatice elitist from Texas who claims he's a main of the people?

Sigh.

The govenator

It's nice to know that Governor Schwarzenegger is handling the tough issues facing his administration head on.

I like this part of the story best:

"This will depend on what it is people are buying: a bobblehead of Schwarzenegger like they would buy one of Britney Spears, or is the bobblehead making a political statement, which would be protected by the First Amendment," said Los Angeles attorney Robert N. Benjamin.

I can't help but wonder what, exactly, that political statement would be. That he bobbles on issues? That his head is disproportionately Republican? That he can benefit Ohio's economy as well as California's? That it was his venture into comedy that ruined his film career? That he's actually the pop tart's biological father?

And who says that buying a Britney Spears bobblehead is inherently not a political statement? The quagmire of issues this brings up is really quite intricate, isn't it?

All You Need Is Phenylethylamine

I'm not sure that I'd want 10,000 Mars bars, and I love chocolate. Maybe they can be used to make a bomb? In any case, one woman cleaned out a Woolworths in London, paying with 50-pound notes. Was her motivation chemical?

London has Woolworths?

The Disney Version

Breaking news here at Zoka: Disney plans to block release of Michael Moore's new film, Farenheit 9/11, by Miramax. I'll let you news.google it for more details, but here's a link to a poll on MSN.

I think this will probably help the film, actually, much like I suspect Sinclair's blocking of Nightline last week probably increased viewership. (I'd love to see numbers on this.)

May 04, 2004

Pop Vultures

I was lying in bed wallowing in my latest bout of pollen induced misery when the throbbing of my sinuses became subservient to a valley girl voice discussing what makes a pop icon. "If you can dress up as her for Halloween, she's an icon. One year, I went as Courtney Love. I look NOTHING like Courtney, but everyone knew exactly who I was. I wore this big messy blonde wig, and a white strappy evening gown, and I pushed a baby carriage..." (Apologies for the inexact transcription.)

This was preceded by a thorough discussion of Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" - and the whole broadcast was interspersed with bits of shameless pop hits, including "I'm Justa Girl" - and a discussion of how 14 year old girls now look like total badasses because of the revival of 80s fashion.

Pop music is a guilty pleasure of mine, but now, with the accidental discovery of Pop Vultures, a Minnesota Public Radio show, I no longer need hide my head in shame. Their site says "We obsess over pop music so you don't have to." Well, thank you for helping me out. Plus, the whole NPR thing gives me a little intellectual cred. Though it also makes me more likely to be singing Mary J. Blige in the shower. And, um, on the bus.


May 03, 2004

God save the Guardian... from the fundagelicals

Not only for their amazing coverage of everythin the US is doing to royally fuck up the world, but for coining the term fundagelicals.

The word "fundagelism" has never appeared in the columns of this newspaper. The term is, however, current in the blogosphere - that cyberforum which nowadays carries the most interestingly paranoid political debate. "Fundagelism" is not a word that trips easily off the tongue. It's a crunching together of the even more mouth-boggling compound "fundamentalist evangelism".

You know, back when I worked for Planned Parenthood, the national organization used the incomparable Celinda Lake as their pollster, and I got to meet her several times. She coined for us the term "religious political extremist" after her polling showed some horribly huge swath of American considered itself "religious," "right," or both. The phrase provoked the negatives it deserved, but in practice is was really hard to say in an interview (almost as hard as "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities"). "Fundagelical" is just a brilliant alternative. Do read the article, though it might well make you cry.

Honor Roll

I'm sure everyone caught the fuss over Ted Koppel's reading the names of the US soldiers killed in Iraq. 721 of them, there were. There was something about this story that was making me itchy beyond the usual 'Can you believe the corporate censorship' knee jerk reaction. After thinking upon it for a while, I realized that I'd seen this done before. The News Hour has been running what they call the "Honor Roll" for a while. They read the names of the war dead at the end of the News Hour and there's been, as far as I know, no flap about it.

I dropped them a line to ask about it. Here's what they said:

Thanks for your interest. We read the names of those service members who
have died in Iraq when the names become available. It's not who died that
day or even that week, just the most recent names that have been released.
Also, names aren't released everyday, so our Honor Roll is not run everyday
either. So you may hear on the news that four or five soldiers have been
killed in Iraq, but we do not run any names - this is not because we are
being censored or have discontinued the practice, we are just waiting for
officials to notify next of kin before they start releasing identities out
to the media. Sometimes a whole week will go by with no Honor Roll, and then
we will have an Honor Roll with over 20 names on a day when there were no
casualties

I hope I was able to answer your questions. If you are curious, we do keep
an online archive of the Honor Roll.

Sincerely,
Online NewsHour Staff


I didn't watch Ted Koppel, but I have seen the Honor Roll a few times on the News Hour and it always fills me with great sadness.