April 30, 2014

Every American man has a beard

It's true. Everywhere in the USA, if you see a man, you see a beard. It's an epidemic.

All my favorite baseball players have beards now. The mailman? Beard. The plumber? Beard. When I went to see my doctor last week, even he had a beard! It's shocking, shocking, I tell you.

This morning, fearing the worst, I looked in the mirror and saw that even I have a beard! (I believe that mirrors are a tool to be used sparingly, to learn if you have a dead bird on your head. Since I rarely go out, I hadn't looked into a mirror in some time.) Again: shocking!

What is going on? You don't think...this could be evidence of the coming Rapture, do you? Oh, I hope so. I want so much to get rid of the godders. If Jeebus scoops them up, it'll be heaven down here! Can you imagine all the fun we're going to have? Squeee!

The beards are a harbinger of better times. Long live the beard!

April 29, 2014

Scammer fail

I really get a kick out of phishing scams. They're just so terrible. I don't understand how anyone can fall for them. Here's one I received today:
This is customer support service we are notifying you to carry out urgent verification of your account as we are having some congestion due to so many unused account that has been registered on our system. We are therefore closing some of this account and we need you to verify if your account is still very active and useful to you in order for us to wipe out the unused accounts. In order to verify your account kindly click reply and insert your password on this box (*********) for urgent purpose or you face to lose your account within 48 hrs of receiving the message.

Thank You For Your Understanding and we are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you.
Indeed. I particularly love "kindly click reply and insert your password on this box (********) for urgent purpose." And the Caps they use in the final paragraph are just so special.

Seriously, how do these guys make money? They'd need entire nations filled with nitwits to...

Oh. Never mind.

April 27, 2014

Bruni pays homage to Larry Kramer

Go read Frank Bruni's column about Larry Kramer. It's terrific.

I can't wait to see Mark Ruffalo play the role of Ned/Larry in "The Normal Heart" on HBO (May 25).

April 26, 2014

A little music for today's double canonization


President Hillary Clinton's gonna be a real pip

This is just what I want to hear from a presidential candidate. Here's Hillary talking about her church:
"I love that church. I love how it made me feel about myself," Clinton said. "I love the doors that it opened in my understanding of the world, I loved the way it helped to deepen my faith and ground it."
Sigh. Go read the story. It's sickening. This is just what the country needs: another Jesus-spoutin' candidate who has accomplished absolutely nothing in her life.

A candidate like this is sure to change things for the better around here. I can't wait. Maybe she'll build on her previous "success" by passing a second law about desecrating the flag. It could make it illegal to gaze at the American flag with a shady expression on your face. Or it could force Americans to kneel and pray to it.

One can hope, anyway.

Two popes to tout two popes

If I was blogging heavily, I'd have a field day with this. But this post will have to suffice since I'm busy writing my next novel.

The NYT has an article today about tomorrow's coming-together of one too many popes to, you know, make saints out of two other popes. It's such an incestuous thing. I couldn't let this go by without mention. Here are some excerpts that paint the scene. And yes, there is purpose to this madness.
For Francis, who has spent the first year of his papacy straddling the divisions within the church, this twinning allows him to deftly avoid elevating one man over the other and serves his broader agenda of de-emphasizing ideological battles as he tries to renew excitement among the faithful and reverse a steady decline in church attendance.
You see, John XXIII was the "good pope" who tried to bring people together. He is also the hands-down winner of the title "Earth's most liberal pope". I lived through the John XXIII era and it was hard not to like the guy. But Francis can't be seen as only favoring the "liberal pope". Oh, no, no, no. He'd skew left, and he can't have that. So they took some super-glue and attached the evil conservative pope, John Paul II, as a co-winner of the "Yes, You Are a Saint Now" prize. It's a very holy thing. 

But some party poopers are pointing a finger at John Paul and saying he allowed sex abuse to flourish among priests. Tch. Don't they know he's gonna be a saint?! These naysayers ought to mind their manners. But then, the church has the perfect come-back:
At a Vatican news conference on Friday, John Paul’s former spokesman, JoaquĆ­n Navarro-Valls, defended the former pope’s record on the response to the sexual abuse scandals and argued that the “purity of his thought” had made it difficult for the pontiff to accept that priests could abuse children
So that fixes everything. Thank goodness. But what about the appalling spectacle of popes canonizing popes? Isn't there something...a bit seedy about this?
Despite the excitement among many Catholics, the precedent of canonizing popes worries Professor Duffy and other experts. “Are we going to have every pope canonized now?” he asked, noting that the process is also underway for some other former popes.
No problema. You gotcher good pope (Francis) on yer left, and yer evil pope (Benedict) on yer right, coming together to make saints out of yer good pope (John XXIII) on the left, and yer evil pope (John Paul II) on yer right. It all balances out in a way that leaves everyone in a state of sanctifying grace.

Those Vatican insiders have it all figured out. Enjoy the spectacle, people. And remember: it means absolutely nothing.

April 23, 2014

Bill Donohue's persistent cluelessness

Of course, y'all know Bill Donohue, NYC's Catholic blowhard who makes believe he's an organization. (Yoohoo, Bill. It's just you. One person does not an organization make.) Bill Donohue hates gays and atheists with a passion. But everything he says on this topic is so flawed, it's funny. For instance, there's this:
"Militant atheists have a new goal: they object to students hearing the name of God in the Pledge of Allegiance. No atheist has to say the Pledge, or utter the dreaded words, “under God”—it is optional—but that is not enough: they want to stop others from saying it."
Uh, no, Bill. You seem to have missed the main issue entirely, as you always do. When atheists complain about their children being forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance with it's recently added inclusion of "under god", they're not trying to "stop others from saying it". Only an unobservant Christian troll would say such a thing.

Religious kids can say "under god" all they want: before school, at recess, in their school's Jesus club (if they have one), after school in a darkened church, at dinner, while sitting next to a burning bush, etc. It's the Christians who are forcing others to say "under god".

Why should this be allowed in a secular school setting? Why do nonbelievers have to say "under god" when they don't believe in god? And even if they don't say it, why on earth do they have to witness your child saying "under god"? Is there some special virtue in your child having the opportunity to say this in front of non-believers? Is it some sort of Christian gang initiation rite?

For poor, stupid Bill Donohue, it's always about the Christians. He doesn't care about anyone else's rights. His main goal in life is to paint a portrait of Christians where they are always under attack (...in our overwhelmingly Christian-dominated country!). See, Bill, it's not an attack on Christians when we say keep your silly fairytales to yourselves and get them out of our secular classrooms. We're trying to stop the Christian attack on nonbelievers from taking place every single day in every classroom that says the Pledge. See how that works?

Bill Donohue adores victimhood -- as long as Christians are the victims. And never mind the facts. Facts just get in the way. Yay, Jeebus! What a fool this Donohue fellow is. They should put his photo in the dictionary next to the word "clueless".

April 20, 2014

Easter fun

The Mets game I'm watching just included this graphic:

I love it. Now, don't forget to watch horror movies today. After all, it's the national zombie holiday of Easter. You know, stuff like "It's Alive!" and "Sometimes They Come Back". (That last one's a stinker, but you get the idea.)

Normal, non-religious life begins anew tomorrow. But for today, expect more cars on the road, drunk Christians and lots of colored eggs.

April 16, 2014

The pseudo-jaded

In the early 1980s, I remember hearing a radio DJ who complained that Joni Mitchell fans never bothered to experience their own lives because they didn't have to -- Joni did it for them. They just appropriated her experiences and felt that they had lived.

I think of that observation when I see today's (allegedly) jaded young people. They think they've seen it all and consciously assume a jaded air. "Been there, done that."

But see, you haven't. You've just seen video of other people living their lives. Kids, I know this will come as a shock but that wasn't you in that video. I know you sincerely think it was, but you're wrong.

Go live your own life. You'd be surprised by how refreshing this experience can be.

Jaded, my ass.

April 15, 2014

Lose weight while you sleep!

That's the ultimate grifter headline, isn't it? But I tell you it's true -- in my limited case, anyway.

When I went to the doctor yesterday, I learned that I lost 45 pounds in the last six months. And how did I do it? Why, in my sleep, of course.

Here's the snag. I really don't like food, so overeating isn't an enjoyable pastime for me. But I can get fat anyway because I take Trazodone to fall asleep. It works like a charm but it also tends to stupify me to the point where I wake up several times during the night and eat everything I encounter: a full jar of peanut butter, two bags of cookies, etc. This will make you fat. I've proven this fact to my satisfaction.

Luckily, this was only happening because I didn't care. Then, one bright sunny day, I decided to get skinny. How? It's simple. I told myself not to eat anything during the night. I haven't eaten one thing at night since I made that decision. (What can I say? I can give myself orders and follow them. This has always been easy for me.)

So now I'm a skinny guy -- and I lost the weight while I slept, just as the headline claims. Today, I weigh 220 pounds at 6' 5". (That's not much for that height, BTW.)

Sorry if this plan won't work for you.

April 10, 2014

He's a "man's man"

Mike Metheny: a man's man.
How I detest the phrase, "a man's man." Ugh. I gag when I hear people use it. What on Earth does it mean?

The other day, I heard a guy on TV say that the players on the Cardinals baseball team respect Mike Metheny, the Cardinals' manager, because he's a "man's man". Ugh. There goes my involuntary gag reflex again.

Last winter, I thought I had witnessed the death of this phrase while watching a tattoo "reality" show. The artist said he had to do a really good cover-up job on a guy's rather feminine tattoo because the customer was a "dude's dude". Right there, I thought the phrase was over and done with. I mean, how could it survive that? Alas, it's still around.

What do you think straight men mean when they call a guy a "man's man"? I've thought long and hard about this and I think it means "wow, that guy is really sexy!" Isn't that it? I mean, I'm gay and I think Mike Metheny is the sexiest guy in baseball. Srsly. So, is that what straight guys mean, too? I think it is.

But maybe I'm wrong. You tell me. What do they really mean?

Edna Christ, wife of Jesus, confirmed as real

Despite Vatican protestations, it is confirmed. A bit of papyrus that says Jesus not only had a wife but considered her a proper disciple, is not a modern forgery.
A faded fragment of papyrus known as the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,” which caused an uproar when unveiled by a Harvard Divinity School historian in 2012, has been tested by scientists who conclude in a journal published on Thursday that the ink and papyrus are very likely ancient, and not a modern forgery.
Edna Christ is real. Of course, I knew this all along because She appeared unto me shortly after the papyrus was discovered. It was a lovely Visitation, wherein She told me that She is a god, fully equal to Jesus. She also informed me that I will live a long life and go to heaven -- and that my book, Xmas Carol, will be remembered as one of the greatest stories ever told. It's true; She said this unto me.

The Vatican didn't like this news when it first came out, and they are surely unhappy to receive today's shocking confirmation. Jesus had a wife and respected her! If this is true, as seems to be the case, then priestly celibacy is simply a jerkwad policy created by a deluded, modern church that long ago lost its way. Sounds right to me.

Pray unto Edna. Her juju is much more powerful than Jesus'. And she cares, unlike the Big Guy. Hail Edna!

April 8, 2014

Krugman dovetails with David Deutsch

You know who Paul Krugman is -- but who's this David Deutsch guy? Well, he's one of the most intelligent physicists working right now to create a quantum computer. Deutsch is way up there in the stratosphere, but he's such an intellectually engaging guy that he takes the time to tell us about his mental adventures. I could go on and on about how much I enjoy Deutsch's writing, but I'd like to make a point.

Today on his blog, Krugman talked about the difference between the liberal and conservative mindset. Why is their approach to reality so different? Here's an excerpt:
One possible answer would be that liberals and conservatives are very different kinds of people — that liberalism goes along with a skeptical, doubting — even self-doubting — frame of mind; “a liberal is someone who won’t take his own side in an argument.”
Since I'm reading "The Beginning of Infinity" by Deutsch, I couldn't help but notice the concordance between this notion and one of Deutsch's primary premises in the book. Deutsch believes that the launching point for infinity -- the point beyond which humanity soars in soon-to-be-discovered ways -- is the willingness to call out untruths wherever and whenever we see them.

A society without error-correction will always go nowhere. Look toward faith for a great example of a tradition that is hidebound and calcifying. If you can't question the tenets of your religion, and update them in light of new discoveries, then your faith is worth nothing. It is unconnected to the coming "infinity".

Even our computers operate with the understanding that there will be errors. Error correction is built into the software that we use every day. And in countries where the populace can vote down an insane idea, there is also a form of error correction. Contrast this with the ruling ethos of Saudi Arabia, for instance. There, you can't question anything. This is a society that will fail. Staying the same is no guarantee of future viability -- quite the contrary. The world is always changing.

So I was happy to see Krugman hone in on this crucial difference between Democrats and Republicans. We (Democrats) see errors and want to correct them. They (Republicans) don't. The future belongs to those who are willing to question everything.

(And hey, wasn't that a popular hippie phrase back in the day? Question everything. Question authority. Yup, I remember seeing those phrases and they are indeed a form of error correction. Hippies got a lot of things right.)

April 7, 2014

Pope Francis decides to kill Africans, for Jesus

New pope, same old story. Who cares if African people die? As long as they're not using a condom, they'll go straight to heaven. There's no problem here, no problem at all.
Pope Francis has praised church workers in Africa who promote chastity as a key way to prevent the spread of HIV. Francis was speaking Monday at the Vatican to bishops from Tanzania.
Many non-Catholic health care workers advocate condoms as an important weapon to fight the spread of the HIV virus that causes AIDS. The Vatican opposes condom use because church teaching forbids contraception.

Francis praised church health care workers in Africa who care for those with HIV/AIDS and "all who strive diligently to educate people in the area of sexual responsibility and chastity."
People won't act in a sexually "responsible" manner if being responsible is defined as practicing chastity. People have sex. It's what humans do. And now that the pope has said this, many Africans won't use a condom because they think that doing so would be a mortal sin, punishable by an eternity in hell (provided by the "loving god" of Christian fairytales. Thanks, jeebus!).

Because of this announcement, more Africans will have unprotected sex, get HIV and die. To Francis, this is preferable to having a lovely bout of sex while wearing a condom. Mustn't have fun. Fun is sinful.

Pope F, we had high hopes for you. But your church fetishizes death and you just jumped on board.

And all this to praise a nonexistent god. It's sickening.

April 1, 2014

Losing people, losing history

I saw this in the news today:
An activist group says the death toll in the three-year Syria's conflict has exceeded 150,000.
Think about that: one hundred and fifty thousand people. Gone. When I read those words this morning, it brought me back to the AIDS deaths of the 1980s. When you lose an enormous number of  people, it's not only the individuals that are lost. You also lose the flavor and history and reality of an era. And of course, and not least, you lose all the shared experiences. No more the joy of getting together with people who played pivotal roles in your life. All gone.

NYC wasn't the same after gay men began to die in large numbers. That was such an awful time. So many talented, productive young people lost their lives, for no reason, really. At the time, it felt like the landscape itself was being altered on a daily basis. "Did you hear who died?!" That was the constant call. It felt like an attack, especially in light of daily casualty counts. It bred fear in us, which was followed by anger. Fury, really.

A pervasive sense of loss spread throughout NY's gay community. And there was also the matter of those missing talents. Stunning young artists, actors, dancers, painters and writers dropped from the ranks of the living. As Robyn Hitchcock said in his song about the passing of Nick Drake: "And when you're gone, you take the whole world with you."

New York was never the same after these mass deaths. And Syria will not be the same country after the current atrocities end. You can't lose that many people and simply restart your country at a later date, as if it had been on hiatus. It's not just people but history, memory and sensibility that is being obliterated. 

It makes you wonder what kind of a world this is. And then you remember that it's all chance, all luck. It's about where you were and what you were doing on a particular day. There's no hiding from it. Death is the grim reaper, paring the world around us on a daily basis. Nothing is assured, nothing is promised -- not really. Life is what it is.

But AIDS was an unknown virus. There is no effective way to elude something you know nothing about. That's not the case in Syria (and in so many other places). People's greed and lust for power should not be allowed to decimate an entire population.

But they are, Blanche, they are. Again and again and again.