Month: March 2011

The Japanese Catastrophe

I’ve been following the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan with some amazement.

I’ll take it point by point here:

  • That the Japanese voice telecom infrastructure is completely defunct
  • That the internet connections in Japan still seem to be up – we were talking about that at work and realized, the net was designed to be resilient and redundant. The telecom network is suppose to be five 9’s but what people don’t realize is the telephone net can’t handle contention like the internet can.

    It is why I carry my amateur radio gear with me at all times. You never know.

    Radio punches through.

    But I’ve seen remarkable videos of Tokyo skyscrapers swaying. That’s a key difference between Japan and the geographically dead eastern coast of the United States. Here we build em’ rigid though as they get taller there is some flex that needs to occur. If you’ve ever been around the 50th floor of the Hancock Tower in Boston you can perceive the slight swaying.

    It seems loss of life is relatively low too. This is somewhat encouraging.

    I hope Japan is able to dig out of the mess.

  • Gustatory Fun!

    So last night I visited Pauly Penta’s Deli in North Providence. Only got two things because the store was sort of understocked at the time.

    I should explain. Back in 2000 I worked at the RI Department of Attorney General. There was an old woman by the name of Josephine Penta who use to come in occasionally and sell us these great jars of stuffed cherry peppers.

    In addition I’ve also been to parties catered by Pauly Penta. It’s pretty much the best of Italian food that you can get catered.

    So when I got to the store I got some stuffed cherry peppers and some sauteed broccoli rabe. Delizioso! And yes, he learned from Josephine. There’s no doubt that Pauly Penta had t have learned it from Josephine. Because I know that flavor.

    Let me explain it, picture small cherry peppers stuffed with cured meat and cheese and then into a jar or container with olive oil and vinegar for awhile. Of course there are other things in the oil like garlic, herbs, etc.

    And the broccoli rabe!. Rabe is sort of bitter but cook it and it’s magical!

    Then it was on to Trader Joe’s. It’s an interesting place, and it’s got all the stuff you want but that the normal supermarkets don’t carry. So why the ever loving fuck isn’t there on in Providence? I know at least three locations that are empty and would be perfect.

    Soybean is a very versatile little bean. From tofu, to the bean, soy sauce, it’s been pretty much turned into everything. But I saw these, Dark Chocolate Covered Edamame! Now I’ve had edamame out of the pod and I think they are the Japanese analog of popcorn.

    But covered in dark chocolate. Yeah, they’re good, very very good Kind of have to exercise a bit of restraint not to eat the whole damned container of em’. Like I said, popcorn!

    What genius figured this out? I want to know.

    A quick summary of the first four DVD’s of the RI Marriage Equality Hearing

    Prepare for the continuation of Disc 3 and the beginning of Disc 4. I have it saved as a draft here already, I just have to smooth it out from my note taking shorthand and expand it into a full post.

    However I wanted to sum up what I’ve seen so far.

    Those that are pro marriage equality bring up actual scientific fact. The best testimony I saw was the teachers, bless em’ they really know how to lay it down.

    You heard varying estimates of the number of gay people from the bigot crowd. On one end we’re 2.3% of the population, on the other hand we’re 4% and if you read the real data we’re closer to 10% of the population. The bigots seem to want to say that we’re such a minority, why are we bothering.

    Well, I’ll tell you why. I exist, my SO exists, and we want the full measure of equality in rights that everyone else has.

    Then there were those who were strident in their opposition to marriage equality. It was stunning.

    At one point in the videos I saw a RI Capitol Police officer pull out his handcuffs and I think either Chris Young or Kara Russo got arrested.

    Once I’ve watched all of them I’ll start ripping them into digital format (E.g. chunks I can post on YouTube) and start posting the good parts here.

    Disc 3: RI Marriage Equality House Hearing Notes

    Ok, this time I have notes. Lots of notes. A half hour in and I feel it’s time to do a brain dump.

    First up we had Warwick, RI City Treasurer David Olson (sp?). He and his partner Leonard Flood both testified.

    Olson and Flood married in MA . They are Episcopalian, and Bishop Shore allowed them the opportunity to marry in an Episcopal church in Seekonk, MA. Olson is disappointed that RI doesn’t allow gay marriage. He goes on to state that he is unable to put his husband on his city health insurance here in RI. Oddly enough, the company I work for that isn’t even based in RI allows me to insure my partner.

    He did say the below which I love:

    “To be a leader you must be willing to continue the vision of Roger Williams which was to create an inclusive democratic society that allowed everyone the freedom to worship and think as they please, and to make sure the basic rights of any civil society are provided to every individual and not just to a certain group of individuals.”

    You aren’t redefining the definition of marriage, you are enhancing the definition of marriage.

    I do note the NOM bigots are holding their signs of 1 man + 1 woman = Marriage. I’d like to ask they fold those signs up until they are all corners and shove them up their asses.

    Next bigot to testify is Mr. Galapo. I get the impression he’s been well coached on this subject. He goes on to thank those who flew in from out of state! (What the fuck are they doing in RI?) he cites NOM, ADF, Ruth Institute, FRC saying that hey speak for a lot of RI’ers. I will contend that they don’t.

    Galapo conitnues on with the ‘fact’ that people on the same sex marriage side are about validating a life style choice (Bigot speak!) and how it isn’t about validating their love, relationships, it is about institution of marriage. I beg to differ.

    Galapo references David Blankenhorn, the very same who was discredited during the Prop 8 trial..

    Galopo goes on with the standard “It’s about children apparently, and I want to speak out about children.” What, that they’re little bastards and should be nailed into a barrel until the age of 30? No, nothing so draconian I suppose.

    Galopo says that government has a responsibility to defend public and their interest in marriage using law and policy to defend marriage.

    He then says the U.S. census for the year 2000 states that 2.3% of population is gay. Wrong, wrong, wrong. We’re a lot more than 2.3%. We’re more in the range 5 to 10 percent.

    Galapo then goes on about the well being of children, grandchildren, and that to satisfy a small group, on the basis of CHOSEN sexual behavior, is not compassionate to children.

    Finally, Galapo brings up poll that 80% want to vote on it, which I’ve disproved handily on this very blog, it’s closer to 30% than 80%. That’s a fifty point spread, so someone is telling a bald faced lie.

    Next up is RI Rep. Ferri:

    Rep. Ferri thanks Chairwoman Ajello. Says that marriage should be revered, that God put them in leadership position. Ferri heard others testify that relationships don’t last. In order to abolish this lie, he has his husband, Tony Caparco with him. They have been together for 30 years. Cripes, we’re just shy of 20 years in casa Truthspew.

    Ferri agrees that we have a representative republic form of government and that if you want to put everything on the ballot then the legislature doesn’t need to exist. Ferri goes on with the rhetorical ” Why do we waste all that money to campaign when everything could be on the ballot. ”

    Ferri introduces his good friend Dr. Peter Snyder, Professor of Neurology, Vice President of research for Lifespan group. Dr. Snyder makes it clear he isn’t speaking for Lifespan though I have the feeling that Lifespan is in our camp. And Snyder was the most powerful check against the bigots in this part of the hearing.

    Snyder is dual trained as clinical neuropsychologist, and cognitive scientist.

    Snyder’s Brother is an MD and lives in Warwick and is gay. The brother married his partner in Canada but Snyder goes on how they don’t have the rights in their home state to have their marriage recognized.

    Snyder’s tells us that his children have two loving uncles that they adore. They make no distinction and see marriage a promise between two adults to love and take care of each other for life, not just exclusive to heterosexuals. I should note that this is precisely what scares the bigots, that children realized that there is nothing wrong with being gay. I’ve known this for a long time, that the bigots would use the children as a weapon against our rights because their religious arguments just don’t have the weight or gravitas it once did. And it isn’t going to get it back.

    Snyder states that he studies human sexuality and is also the editor of Brain and Cognition that on occasion looks at human sexuality and the literature around it. Imagine, a scientist! Love it!

    Snyder says that the best most credible, replicable and reliable science understands that human sexuality runs on a continuum and is a mix of genetic, hormonal and neuro-development. Expression of which is beyond human control. He mentions would like to be 2 to 4 inches taller, but can’t change that just like you cannot change sexuality.

    When Snyder told his children he wouldn’t be there for dinner that evening because he was testifying for marriage equality he explained the importance of talking to legislators so his uncles could be married. His 7 year old looked up at him and said “Daddy, that’s silly. They should be married already”

    Yeah bigots, your time is coming to a close.

    Rep. Valencia – supports H5012 – submited testimony regarding scientific evidence. He’s not a lawyer, trained as a scientist though his bio on his legislature page makes no mention. I get a feeling it’s social science which is valid too. If it involves observation, hypothesizing and making an educated synthesis then yes, it qualifies.

    Valencia reminds us that there is no scientific basis in claim that M-M, F-F parents are any different than M-F parents.

    Valencia also brought up a favrite MLK quote of mine that said “The Moral Arc of the Universe bends toward Justice! Neither Valencia or I could have said it any better.

    Back to a bigot and his son:

    Michael Casey – father and husband and has been married for 21 years and has 5 children, is a Christian and is there to defend marriage. Casey requests that the committee reject 5012 and support 5260. He says that the union of one man and one woman is critical.

    Casey aks What is fairness? He then says that attempts to redefine marriage are unjust, and unfair to everyone including children.

    Continuing to parrot discredited ‘science’ on the part of the bigots, Casey says that discrimination based on gender or race is defined by immutable qualities. Continues to say that there is no scientific basis to why someone is gay. Says that his main point is that marriage is between one man and one woman. To treat things differently is not unjust discrimination.

    Yeah – ok, not unjust discrimination? Boy needs to have his head examined.

    Casey spews that reserving marriage to a man and a woman is not a denial of equality. He says there are many ways to protect basic rights and equal dignity of persons without redefining marriage. Sure there are, if you want to spend thousands on attorney fees and then be uncertain if everyone has copies of those documents. Casey’s arguments are patently ridiculous.

    Blathering on, Casey says that or the state to redefine marriage would be to intentionally and institutionally deprive children of their basic right to a mom and a dad. He asks if mothers and father indispensable , that there’s a difference in intentionally depriving a child of a mother or father.

    Casey then tries to predict what same sex marriage is going to do his and other marriages or families? He says that redfining marriage would deconstruct and de-institutionalize marriage from a social institution in service to the child, into a private relationship between adults. Where the hell has this guy been for the last 200 years?

    Ajello finally cuts him off as his time is up. He asks to close and is allowed and starts reading sentence after sentence until Ajello finally cuts him off. Nice!

    Evan Casey (Son of Michael) up:
    Even says that purpose of marriage is to create and foster new life, and express love between two people. (I bet young Evan is just itching to find his Special Purpose!) In a same sex union love can be expressed, but new life cannot be created. A bigot in training is a sad thing to see.

    Rabbi (Whose name I didn’t catch, but she’s a reform rabbi) speaks in support of marriage equality. Those opposed to marriage equality often site Lev. 18:22, book is often misunderstood and this quote is taken out of context. Prohibitions that do not relate to modern lives. Teaches us about sacred living, treating our fellow human beings with respect. You shall not hate your brother in your heart, you should love your neighbor as yourself. She says that the text can be used to persecute, or bring justice. Let us bring justice.

    These are just notes from the 1st third of the 3rd disc.

    Apologies

    If the disc two notes seem a little disjointed. Part of it is because the rapid fire arguments of the bigots were a bit difficult to parse and then synthesize. I’ll be re-editing before I post the disc three notes.

    I also tried to do it on the fly here without jotting notes this time, just jotting them in and modifying but the arguments of the bigots, I need to use bullet notation on those and then take them point by point.

    But the other part of it is that the statements of the bigots come off as so very ignorant. Ignorant of the rule of law, ignorant about their own source document, just flat out intellectual laziness.

    Disc 2: RI Marriage Equaliy Hearing Notes

    So we closed out disc 1 with Maggie Gallagher trotting out the same tired canards finally wrapping it up on disc 2.

    I’ve written about Gallagher here before and I tire of beating the same dead horse all the time. Suffice it to say, Gallagher lies, so to Austin Nimocks of the Alliance Defense Fund. (Why do I read Nimrod when I read that name?)

    Anyhow, the second disc segways into Noah Garreto, a 13 year old who understands marriage equality. And he does a great job of driving home the point that LGBT people are people first, not second class monsters.

    One thing I note, hearing young Mr. Garetto speak and hearing his classmate speak is that I detect a strong undercurrent of atheism in some of the things they’ve said. Gives me great hope for the future, I’ll tell you that!

    After the middle school kids the A team was brought up. One an attorney who is also gay and related his story of losing a lover at age 43 and all the grief that brought due to the fact that they couldn’t marry. Then the owner of the states largest real estate firm testified in support. I’m unable to find the name of the company but her last name is Lopedes or Lopiedes. She pointed out the economic benefits of allowing same sex marriage but also pointed out the opportunities lost because of RI’s stance on marriage equality.

    Next up we have the NOM’ers:

    Rachel and Kyle Green – ya know, because um, God said so! Really, that’s their argument. Young Ms. Green brings up Sodom and Gomorrah. I shouldn’t even bother on this one. To hell with it, I will! . She states that her god (version of god) is the same today as yesterday, in other words never changing. I hate to break it to her but her god did change quite a damned bit from O.T. to N.T. Perhaps she should read the book sometime in the near future.

    Ms. Green goes on to attempt to speak for her god. It’s really quite amusing. I have one question for her, if god so disapproves of marriage equality, why is Massachusetts still on the map? But she’s telling us all this with love in her heart. It’s not so much what we think, but what her god thinks. Hold on, I need to go get a barf bucket.

    Next up is Kyle Green. He’s must be Rachel’s brother. I see the same neanderthal look in both of them. Young Master Green lets slip that he’s from West Greenwich. Ever been there? It’s redneck heaven. Seriously.

    Young Mr. Green too on about the Bible. I’d like to see him LIVE that Bible for a month. He and his whole family. I bet they’d be enlightened at the end of that ordeal.

    It’s also interesting how young Mr. Green can both love and condemn his gay uncle. I get an extreme sense of Mr. Green’s stupidity here since he’s gung-ho for the military. Hopefully when he gets sent to Iraq he’ll get his ass handed to him.

    Mr. Green isn’t the most erudite person in the world either. In his own neanderthal way, he tries to equate being gay with pedophilia, bestiality and polygamy. The holy trifecta!

    Rep. Chippendale asked some interesting questions. He pointed out to Young Master Green that the bible contains polygamy. Then he went on to ask Rachel Green if she believed in the book of Revelations. When she answered in the affirmative he then said “Is what we do here today isn’t going to change anything.”

    It was deer in the headlights time! Ms. Green couldn’t answer so Young Master Green had to step in with this defense only to be cut off by Rep. Ajello. I love you Rep. Ajello, seriously, you rock as chair!

    Next up we have the high powered bigots. They all came to RI, so that means they must be terrified that we’re going to get marriage equality. The list is as follows:

    Jennifer Roback Morse – Founder of the Ruth Institute. Yeah, NOM! She states that history will not be kind to RI. She then goes on to start spouting about the 50% divorce rate, etc. Then she starts on the essential public purpose (I’ve found my special purpose!) the usual bullshit of NOM. She goes on about how a same sex marriage has one biological and one who takes the place of a biological parent. It’s really quite interesting because Ms. Morse doesn’t address the adopted children of gay parents, the ones who aren’t biologically linked to either parent. I suppose that would be good enough? And Morse brings up the alleged non support of the African-American community. Kind of irrelevant here in RI where the black population is only about 4%.

    And my real response to Morse can be summed up in two words. Fuck her!

    I’ve noted something else. Kara Russo seems to be the enforcer, telling people to straighten out their “One Man, one woman” signs. She’s done this all through the testimony thus far.

    Peter Sprigg – needs no introduction suffice to say I’d like to pop him one. He was in Maryland the day before. He’s a busy guy. He’s going to speak about the harms of homosexual marriage.

    For example, Sprigg goes on about the taxpayers, consumers and business that would be forced to subsidize homosexual relationships. But if employers don’t want to grant those benefits whether by faith or cost they’ll still find themselves in trouble.

    Sprigg continues with the red herring that schools would teach homo relationships are identical to heterosexual unions. Duh, Because, they ARE!

    Sprigg then says that freedom of conscience and religious liberty would suffer and that it applies not only to churches but service organizations, and individuals. In his most at risk category he brings up Catholic Charities in Boston.

    Sprigg rehashers the NJ Methodist Pavillion brought up again.

    He posits that M.D’s, counselors, etc. could be denied licensing.

    He says there are more harms. Key bullets: Fewer children raised by mother father, more children grow up fatherless, and lesbians creating them through AFI, says kids suffer delinquency, drug abuse, and depression.

    Birth rates fall . The sky will fall. It’s raining chickens! Everybody, get a pot!

    Sprigg tries to bring up the polygamy argument and fails miserably.

    Next up, the Rev. Bernard Healey, the Bishop’s Butt Boy. He’s there to defend marriage. He goes on about how ridiculing and putting down of gays is wrong, etc. but then goes on to deny us a full measure of rights. He looks like he’s one taco short of a massive coronary. He’s got more chins than a Chinese telephone book. In fact he sort of reminds me of Peter Griffin in Family Guy.

    That is all for tonight. Over a thousand words of analysis and ad hominem taken their toll.

    Watching the hearing on Marriage Equality in RI

    So when I got home today waiting in the mail was a packet from the folks at Capitol TV. I have to send them some blanks and email a thank you for turning this around so quickly.

    I’m about half way in to the first of five discs.

    My thoughts so far. Rep. Charlene Lima (D) Cranston. I didn’t even have to look it up, to look at her you KNEW she’s a Cranstonite. Her proposition of a different section of law for same sex couples, you know, just like cars have different classifications, you drive a truck, I drive a car. Actually sweetums, cars and trucks are registered with type 01 in RI, unless they are used for commercial purposes. That’s why you’ll see cars and trucks with COMB, or COMM on them. And then of course there are type 18 for amateur radio plates. So the analogy fails but I get your gist.

    But no matter how you dice it, it is SEPARATE but EQUAL is NEVER EQUAL! Even the bill sponsor, Rep. Art Handy alluded to that.

    But when she started her trying to cast marriage equality as something we could capitulate on, a thought popped into my head. What if I went to Rep. Lima and said “You know what, I don’t think the vote of women should count as much as the votes of men. So why don’t we carve out a section of law that says a woman’s vote is only worth 1/3 that of a man’s?”

    I’d love to hear her answer. And don’t you know, when Rep. Jon Brien starts on his Prop 8 like legislation introduction, Lima makes the connection. I think Lima sees the light.

    Brien did bring up RIGL 8-10-3 which is the only instantiation of husband and wife in all of RI law. He did leave out the part where the judge told the parties in Ormiston v. Chambers that if they had brought the suit under constitutional violation, they would have prevailed. Sin of Omission is a biggie!

    I also find Brien’s “Let the people vote” to be an abdication of the tough choices on the part of he and legislators like him. I’ve written about this before how legislators think their constituents are clocking them. Most people could give a rats posterior to be honest. It’s only people like me who like to hold legislative feet to the fire. The squealing sound they make when feet to fire is like music to my ears.

    What ever happened to courage in a politician? What ever happened to principle? To decency? How have we fallen so far down the pipe in so short a time?

    I’ll be posting more as I review the discs. You’ll have to forgive me as there are over 10 hours of testimony in these videos so it’ll be approximately five posts or so. And I’ll be ripping these discs to digital so I can share them EVERYWHERE. I also will have to friend put together some compilation discs. One of the bigots, one of those who support marriage equality. Slice, splice and dice. This is going to be fun.

    And once again, a kudo to the folks at RI Capitol TV.

    Oh and a treat. RI has it’s own version of old Crazy Eyes (Michelle Bachmann). Introducing Tea Bagger darling Doreen Costa:

    Rep. Dorreen Costa
    Rep. Doreen Costa