May 30, 2014

Walk-on music for the first gay MLB baseball player

Because I'm a huge baseball fan, I often wonder about something. If you're a fan of the game, you know that each player picks a song as his "walk-on" music. It plays during at-home games as the player walks to the batter's box to hit. 

So here's the question: what song should the first gay baseball player pick? Mind you, it's up to him. That's understood. But if I was the first gay player, I know exactly the right song.

First, some background. Consider the fact that every other player these days feels a pressing need to pray on the goddamn ball field. I mean, really. Before every at-bat, these players make the sign of the cross. And then if they get on base, they do it again and point up at gods floating in the sky.

And it's not just the hitters. Pious pitchers wait until the camera's on them and they're about to pitch -- and then they go to the side of the mound, remove their cap, bow their pious heads and pray. Jesus. Some of them even use their finger to write scriptural nonsense on the side of the mound. To bless it, or something.

This battle is already over: Christianity and major league baseball have become one. (Just watch for slo-mo replays of them pointing at the sky, if you don't believe me.) I think this is sickening. It's baseball, people, not church. Go find your religious homies to pray with outside the stadium. Or do it in the locker room without the cameras on you. Why must we watch you pray? Is that in the bible too?

Sigh. Anyway, that's the background for my choice. If I was the first gay player, I'd use John Lennon's "Imagine" as my walk-on music. Wouldn't that be fabulous?

I love it. What do you think?

The Whittington family's video

Just saw this on Joe Jervis' blog. It deserves a very wide viewing audience, so here it is. It's nice to see a family that loves their child unconditionally. (And they picked a great song to begin the video, even if the sound's not perfect.) Give it a watch if you haven't seen it already. Very cool.

May 29, 2014

They don't make movies like they used to

Recently I watched "It, The Terror From Beyond Space", a BW sci-fi movie from 1958. The world was a different place then. For one thing, film-makers created movies without thinking. At all. After all, thinking is for eggheads. They just pointed their cameras and yelled "Action!"

To illustrate this point, I'd like to show you three screen grabs from the movie:

So there they are, sitting in a tin can, hurtling toward the Earth. They're returning from Mars -- and of course they're completely unaware that a monster is on board. Now, see, the most important thing you can do when dealing with a monster in space is smoke a cigarette. They had tall lockers filled to the brim with cartons of cigarettes, and people were lighting up throughout the movie. I guess they had a good exhaust system.

Since this film was made in the 1950s, a lot of time was spent lighting women's cigarettes -- which the hapless females were able to enjoy when they weren't serving coffee to the menfolk. Or preparing dinner. Or flirting. Or screaming.

But at some point, you must deal with the monster. Cigarettes alone won't do the trick. So what did they do in their precarious tin-can spaceship? They set off tons of grenades, of course. You wouldn't believe how many grenades they exploded, with nary a care about whether they were near a side wall of the ship.

That's what I love about early sci-fi: the lack of critical thinking -- or any thinking at all. Whenever the world gets me down, I haul out one of these old sci-fi films and laugh my troubles away. Works every time.

That is all. Carry on with your day.

May 24, 2014

Biggest Catholic hypocrite ever?

Who can say? There's so much competition for the title. But Joe Jervis has a story today about a priest who is, at the very least, a finalist in this closely-watched, fierce competition. Now, I could be wrong but I think Monsignor Aaron Brodeski just may win the coveted title of Biggest Catholic Hypocrite Ever. And that's saying a lot.

Final note: the fact that there is no god makes this priest's bigotry even more appalling. Liars for Jesus -- they're everywhere.

Strange and wonderful

At NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day site, I found this lovely photo today. (Click for larger.)

Here is the text that accompanied the photo:

Why would clouds appear to be different colors? The reason here is that ice crystals in distant cirrus clouds are acting like little floating prisms. Sometimes known as a fire rainbow for its flame-like appearance, a circumhorizon arc lies parallel to the horizon. For a circumhorizontal arc to be visible, the Sun must be at least 58 degrees high in a sky where cirrus clouds are present. Furthermore, the numerous, flat, hexagonal ice-crystals that compose the cirrus cloud must be aligned horizontally to properly refract sunlight in a collectively similar manner. Therefore, circumhorizontal arcs are quite unusual to see. This circumhorizon display was photographed through a polarized lens above Dublin, Ohio in 2009. 

You understood that, right? Visit NASA's site daily and you'll see some wondrous things. That I guarantee.

May 23, 2014

I love this

You are hereby ordered to watch this. I love it. It's Sam Smith doing an acoustic version of "Latch".

May 21, 2014

Hamsters probably enjoy running on a wheel

The proof is in. Researchers wanted to find out if wild animals would, on their own, hop on a running wheel and run on it. Lo and behold, they love it.
In all the team recorded over 200,000 animals using one or the other of the wheels over a three year period. The main runners were mice, some of which jumped on, ran for a while, jumped off, then jumped back on and ran some more. One mouse ran for an incredible 18 minutes.
So it's settled: they loves them some wheels. This puts the issue to bed forever, I assume. One thing pissed me off, though. The writer apparently felt compelled to include this statement:
The researchers claim the animals ran on the wheels because they enjoyed it, which could be a little bit of anthropomorphizing, as no one has been able to prove that animals other than humans experience emotions.
Duh. Whenever I see a statement like this, I wonder if the writer has actually met a real, living animal. Of course they have emotions. People who think otherwise are privileged gits with a huge blind spot.

May 20, 2014

The marriage equality flag

Now that the "gay flag" has fully morphed into the equality flag, I purchased two of them. And it's not just because I'm gay. A lot of straight people are flying this flag because they support marriage equality. And that's a very nice sentiment.

Mind you, marriage bores me to death no matter the sex of the people involved. Marriage sounds like jail to me. One of the happiest thoughts I will ever have is "I never got married. Hooray!" So it's a bit difficult to cheer the scads of marriage-happy gays.

We must have the right to marry, of course. It's a crucial battle that has to be fought in every state and country. That I can get behind. But seriously, don't even tell me about your marriage. I'll just get bored.

Why did I buy two? So I'll have one on hand when a friend inevitably says, "Oh, I wish I had one of those!" I'll hand it over toute suite.

If you're not flying a "marriage equality flag", why not? Go get one today.

May 18, 2014

Dowd eviscerates Condi

Every once in a (great) while, Maureen Dowd is worth reading. Her column today is one of those moments. It's called "Condi's Lesson". Here's a small excerpt about Rice's ignominious eviction from Rutgers' graduation ceremony:
For a militaristic imperialist, Rice caved awfully easily. She should have invaded Rutgers, occupied the podium and said her piece about her failures on peace. And the students shouldn’t have jumped the gun. After all, there was always a chance, a small one, admittedly, but a chance, that Condi Rice would have looked into her soul and told the story of what happens when you succumb to the temptation to sell it.
There's more at the link. You know you wanna read it. Fly, my pretties.

May 17, 2014

God has issues

I always loved that phrase. "She has issues". It's marvelously dismissive. And yes, God has issues.

This occurred to me as I was watching a baseball game last night. Actually what I was watching was major-league baseball's pious pinhead pitchers. I swear, almost every pitcher seems to doff his hat and pray on the god damn mound before hurling the ball. Seriously, you can't do that in private? You may not have noticed, but it's a baseball game, not church. Sigh.

Anyway, as I watched these weaselly antics, I found myself wondering about the way these guys always take their baseball caps off before talking to God. Obviously, god cannot see through hats. That's the message here. You are totally invisible to god if you keep your hat on. This is why they force women to wear a hat in church: so God won't see them. God only has time for men. Without hats.

Hats are kind of like god's kryptonite. See? I told you: god has issues.

Which leads me to today's recommendation: always wear a hat.

The scariest thing

What's the scariest thing you've ever seen? Tell you what, I'll start by giving my answer to the question:
I once viewed all the color schemes Microsoft offers to its users. I did! I looked at every one of them -- in one sitting! I remember feeling woozy afterward. It was a true nightmare.
In case you've forgotten, here's an image from back in the day. Oy.

So what's the scariest thing you've ever done?

May 13, 2014

Visibly gay

Michael Sam's "historic" kiss brings something to mind. Of course, it's perfectly normal for him to kiss his boyfriend after getting the best news of his life. Guys kiss their life partners at such times, whether they're straight or gay. It's the very same act, no matter the sex of the kissers.

I live in upstate New York, where people are far from sophisticated. When I moved here about 20 years ago, I left gay people behind. There just aren't any gay people here. Oh, you'll see one every few years, but that's about it. (And there are old gay people who never struck out for the big city, never made their gay mark. But that's a whole 'nother post.)

I'm a recovering alcoholic and I attend AA meetings. When I moved here, I'd just had a relapse. So I found myself trying to get sober among a zillion straight people. After attending gay meetings in Manhattan for many years, this seemed really weird to me. But as it turned out, no one was against me for being gay. They all seemed very accepting.

This continued to be the case for many years, during which I remained sober (with the help of a great straight sponsor). And after I'd been sober for some time, lots of straight guys asked me to be their sponsor. I would say to each, when they made this request, "You know I'm gay, right? This is about your sobriety, so if you have even a slight problem with this, pick another sponsor. But if you're truly okay with it, sure, I'll be your sponsor." No one turned me down and the fact that I'm gay was never a problem.

However, in my quieter moments I used to tell close friends that I thought people accepted me because I don't have a boyfriend. It's one thing to say you're gay, and quite another to show that you're gay by hauling your boyfriend everywhere, maybe hugging him in public, holding hands, etc. That, I wasn't sure people would accept. But since I'm happily celibate, it never came up.

With Michael Sam, it's already come up. I'm sure many people who initially said they were "fine" with him being gay, had second thoughts when he kissed his lover on live TV. Being visibly gay is different from saying you're gay.

I'll be interested to see how this plays out in the coming months and years. Any comments from the peanut gallery?

May 12, 2014

Lest you miss this

PZ Myers has a great quote on his blog today. It's part of a post he did about Pope Francis's latest folly: doubling down on exorcism. It seems the new, liberal, sensible pope believes in the debbil! Fun. Apparently Francis brought all the big-time exorcists together so they could share the elite practices of their craft:
During the conference, the Rev. Cesar Truqui, an exorcist based in Switzerland, recounted one experience he had aboard a Swissair flight. “Two lesbians,” he said, had sat behind him on the plane. Soon afterward, he said, he felt Satan’s presence. As he silently sought to repel the evil spirit through prayer, one of the women, he said, began growling demonically and threw chocolates at his head.
Asked how he knew the woman was possessed, he said that “once you hear a Satanic growl, you never forget it. It’s like smelling Margherita pizza for the first time. It’s something you never forget.”
Can you imagine the stupidity required to think and say such a thing? The ooze that is the Roman Catholic church is sinking ever deeper into the swamp of superstition. And Pope Francis is cheering the collapse on. So much for hope, me bloggies. The church is lost.

May 11, 2014

Bruni and Dowd for your Sunday

In the NY Times today, both Frank Bruni and Maureen Dowd have excellent columns about the Pope and Roman Catholicism. It's a Mother's Day extravaganza. Since the Times keeps its stories behind a paywall, I'm providing readers with free links to both. Here you go.

Bruni says:
Those matters take center stage in an expanded employment contract that the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is forcing on more than 2,000 teachers, some of whom are refusing to sign it. In what the document does and doesn’t spell out, it sends the tired message that virtue resides in whom you share your bed with and how you do or don’t procreate.
And Dowd says:
The cool pope suddenly doesn’t seem so cool, allowing Rome’s grand inquisitors to torque up the derogation this Mother’s Day of the American sisters who have mothered so many — even as an endless parade of ghoulish priests were shielded as they defiled vulnerable kids in their care.
Both columns are terrific. What are you waiting for? Go read them.

May 10, 2014

One last post with a Satanic theme

This will make three posts in a row about Satan. Kinda fun, leading into Sunday, and all.

Remember the recent insane Town of Greece v. Galloway ruling from the Supreme Court? The one that said it's just fine and dandy to open up secular state meetings with prayer? Yes, we have nitwits on the Supreme Court. (Reality check: these are the same people who think corporations are people. They have a tenuous and faltering grip on reality.)

On the heels of this stunningly idiotic, un-American decision, a Satanist has asked to open a meeting in Florida with a Satanic prayer. Be careful what you wish for, my wingnut friends.
“I just want equal billing. We allow various religious nutjobs to give a prayer. They pray to Jesus who is make-believe, god who is make-believe, why not Satan who is make-believe?”

“Why discriminate against one make-believe god over another?” he continued.
That's really what's at the heart of all this, folks: make believe. I hope he gets a chance to offer the prayer. Hopefully someone will record the reaction among the pious attendees and share it on YouTube. Fun!

Satan visits Harvard

Funny story in today's NY Daily News. "Satanists" are about to hold a Black Mass at Harvard University. Mind you, they're not "real" Satanists, just fun-loving atheists. (I doubt there's such a thing as a real Satanist. Just saying.) Check out the story for further details.

I love the reaction of the Catholic archdiocese of Boston. They must take these things seriously, doncha know. Keeps the rubes in line.
All this talk about Satan has spooked the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston issued a statement blasting the Satanists’ scheduled demonstration and announced plans to conduct a “Holy Hour” during the same time at a nearby church.

“For the good of the Catholic faithful and all people, the Church provides clear teaching concerning Satanic worship,” the statement read. “This activity separates people from God and the human community, it is contrary to charity and goodness, and it places participants dangerously close to destructive works of evil.”
Yadda, yadda, yadda. The devil isn't real, folks, and neither is god. The church makes believe both are real because it keeps those donations flowing in. And that gives them more money to fight gay marriage and keep women subservient.

Religion is a destructive fairytale that blinds believers to the true nature of reality. And when it is not shackled by laws that prevent it from dominating secular society, it establishes a theocracy and becomes a savage, de facto prison for all humanity. Religion is the opposite of rationality and creativity. It stifles and suffocates and obfuscates. It is the most evil invention of mankind.

May 9, 2014

I think I'll skip Rosemary's Baby this weekend

Scene from the real version of Rosemary's Baby.
From the moment I heard about it, I was hostile to the idea of a TV remake of Rosemary's Baby. You can't remake perfection. Roman Polanski's movie based on Ira Levin's novel is a faithful visual presentation of the book. Scene for scene, it's the book come to life.

It seemed to me the TV remake would be like the sad and embarrassing remake of Psycho in 1998. Seriously, you cannot remake perfection. You just have to move on. So I was predisposed to dislike the "new" Rosemary's Baby, which will debut Sunday at 9 pm on NBC. (The next episode will air on Thursday night at 9.) Hashing it over, I decided not to watch the show. And maybe that's a sound decision, in light of this review of the mini-series in today's SF Gate.

I liked the following snippet from the review. Dave Weigand, the reviewer, is dissecting the fact that the press release for the TV mini-series failed to mention the earlier perfect movie by Roman Polanski.
Then again, why mention the baked Alaska from last year's gala dinner party when you're about to serve Hostess Twinkies at this year's pot luck?
Sounds about right. So, are you going to watch it?

May 6, 2014

How to deal with religious bigots

Fun story today in the NY Daily News. It seems a group of "Black Israelites" were getting nasty at a shopping center, denigrating women, gays and whites in the name of their filthy god. And this wasn't a one-time event. They kept coming back, week after week, so the businesses decided to fight back. I love how they handled it.

You might have a sudden urge to listen to this song after reading the linked story.

May 4, 2014

Bruni nails it again

This isn't the first time I'm directing readers to a column by Frank Bruni in the NY Times. There's a reason for this -- the man is prescient and clear. Today's offering is called "America the Shrunken". Here's an excerpt:
More and more I get the sense that we’ve lost it, and by “it” I mean the optimism that was always the lifeblood of this luminous experiment, the ambition that has been its foundation, the swagger that made us so envied and emulated and reviled.

We’re walking small. And that shift in our gait and our gumption has been palpable for many years, during an unusually sustained period of frustration that has the feel of something more than a temporary dive: a turned corner, the downward arc of a diminished enterprise.
It's not good news, but it's real and true and we'd best pay attention. We're on a slide and we're going down fast. Maybe we should do something about it before it's too late. 

Nah, let's just go shopping. Maybe pick up some donuts, or something.

May 1, 2014

The setting for Xmas Carol will soon be my home

I put this post up on my Xmas Carol blog the other day. Just realized I should have posted it here, too. So here you go. -- Keith O'Connor

When I wrote Xmas Carol, I used a local NY horse farm as the setting for the story. It's an actual, real-life farm owned by a friend of mine, so I was familiar with the place. It's gorgeous there, which made it the perfect setting for a sprightly tale of horror. That's a photo of the entrance to the farm. Inviting, isn't it?

Well, it now seems that I'm moving to the farm. I didn't see that coming. In a sense, I feel like I'm moving into Xmas Carol. I can't wait for snow to fall during the first Xmas I spend there. It will be very odd and I'm sure there will be a bit of magic to it -- as if I might bump into one of the book's characters as I walk the farm's roads. So far, it looks like the move will take place in late summer or early fall.

I guess this a case of life moving into art. Pick up a copy of the book and you, too, can see the world of Xmas Carol.

A common-sense solution for railway crude-oil accidents

Updated below.

Okay, so some guys have to make zillions of dollars by shipping dangerous crude oil around the country by rail, passing through residential areas where they cause untold horrors when they derail. They have to make all that money! It's imperative. And so we get repeats of scenes like this:
Crews used cranes and other heavy equipment Thursday to clean up a derailment that plunged oil-carrying tanker cars into a Virginia river while state officials worked to determine the environmental impact of the thousands of gallons of spilled crude.
Apparently, until bureaucratic fools can agree on a remedy such as retro-fitting the tankers or building newer, stronger cars, the American people have to suffer the consequences of these events occurring over and over and over.

Uh...wouldn't it make sense to say that until we come up with a solution that everyone can agree on, the trains should be limited to speeds under 20 mph? Wouldn't that eliminate these traumatic incidents? 

It's a simple interim solution -- so obviously no one will suggest it. Remember the book, "The Ugly American"? If a similar, timely book were written today, it would be called "American Git". We are becoming a totally senseless country. If you don't believe me, turn on a cable news station and listen for five minutes.

Uh huh. Gits.


I wondered about the speed issue and found this:

One key factor in train derailments that influences the extent of damage is speed.  The models that predict failure rates of tank cars during derailments use an "average accident" speed of 27 mph. Yet, even the NTSB Chair Hersman pointed out that it is not realistic, given the higher speeds seen in some of the serious derailments in recent years and the fact that the new standard adopted by the railroads on routes outside of major cities is 50 mph.  Reducing train speeds would be one effective strategy to reduce risk of catastrophic derailments.