Category Archives: articles

Laughing Together

1. Saving marriage for when you’re actually mature, and not just when you think you are; it’s really hard to contribute your full share if you’re off getting high on your own stuff. How do you know the difference between believing and knowing? Two giveaways are a sense of urgency, or a sense of shame about your choices or circumstances. If you’re making your case to people, then you’re not ready.

2. Marrying someone with whom you can be yourself, good and bad, but who inspires the good.

3. Being mutually free with praise, stingy with criticism and honest about things that are uncomfortable to talk about — not because you have to, but because you believe in each other.

4. Never taking your spouse for granted. Either you share in everything from lofty ideals to the daily workload, willingly as a loving gesture to each other, or you’re asking to be unhappy.

5. Having the good luck to meet someone who forgives you when you fall short, who’s just grateful you tried to live up to your promises (and promise).

6., 7., 8. Laughing together.

9. Shared sexual needs, or shared openness to dealing with mismatched sexual needs.

10. Not needing checklists. I could add to this one all day, but ultimately, relationships either work or you’re forcing the issue — the foundation for endless mistakes.

Carolyn Hax, 27 August 2009


Jesus Didn’t Preach Tolerance

Outrage is pouring in from all sides — as it should. Terry Jones is the kind of ”pastor” who gives clergy a bad name; the kind of ”Christian” who affirms the worst suspicions of skeptics and cynics. His plan to burn copies of the Qur’an on Saturday (September 11) is a stunt both feeble and horrifying.

If we didn’t live in an age of instant access to quasi-news, fake-news, and no-news, no one outside the greater Gainesville area would know about the ironically named Dove World Outreach Center.

The response from both right and left, religious and secular, has been — in a nutshell — one of condemnation for Jones’s shocking lack of tolerance. It’s been interesting to observe the conflation of American and Christian “values,” and the naming of such values to marshall opposition to Jones’s primitive xenophobia: respect, open-mindedness, freedom of conscience.

But Jesus didn’t preach such things. Jesus preached — embodied, actually, in a way that got him killed – love. Risky, radical, costly, inconvenient love. Messy, complicated, difficult, demanding love. Love of neighbor, of stranger, of enemy.

Tolerance costs me nothing. Loving others — seeking their good, willing their prosperity and happiness, genuinely desiring their companionship — this is the hazardous business of community, of relationship-building, of making and sustaining friendships for the long haul. Tolerance is all too happy to avoid all this. Tolerance turns out to be a means for keeping us estranged from one another while we pride ourselves on our progressive politics or our general open-mindedness whatever our politics.

Nine years after 9/11 most of us are tolerant of Islam but we don’t really love Muslims. We don’t really know any Muslims to love. Tolerance has kept us at a safe and sterile distance.

It’s easy to condemn a publicity-seeker like Terry Jones (what would it mean for Christians to love this nutty guy?). Righteous indignation abounds — just check Facebook. But it’s hard to engage in the slow, patient work of love (of our Muslim neighbors, of wayward souls like Terry Jones). Yet this is the work we’ve been given to do, the work of love that is the way of Jesus.

This was posted by Debra Dean Murphy to her blog, Intersections, in September of 2010. I love that middle paragraph (the emphasis is my own), so I’m reposting it.

NOM Strategist Now Supports Gay Marriage

by Lane Moore, Jezebel, April 9, 2011

Louis J. Marinelli, the National Organization for Marriage‘s former tour organizer, says he now supports civil marriage equality for LGBT people.

Marinelli, who was known for railing against the LGBT community via Facebook and Twitter posts has now posted a statement on his blog saying:

Having spent the last five years putting all of my political will, interest and energy into fighting against the spread of same-sex marriage as if it were a contagious disease, I must admit that it is hard for me to put the following text into words let alone utter them with my own voice.

Whether it is an issue of disbelief, shame or embarrassment, the one thing that is for sure is that I have come to this point after several months of an internal conflict with myself. That conflict gradually tore away at me until recently when I was able to for the first time simply admit to myself that I do in fact support civil marriage equality.

Marinelli says he eventually realized that he was “surrounded by hateful people; propping up a cause I created five years ago, a cause which I had begun to question” and that he “aimed to extend an olive branch” by way of erasing disparaging comments and banning the people who posted them.

Once you understand the great difference between civil marriage and holy marriage, there is not one valid reason to forbid the former from same-sex couples, and all that is left to protect is the latter.

Indeed Christians and Catholics alike are well within their right to demand that holy matrimony, a sacrament and service performed by the Church and recognized by the Church, remains between a man and a woman as their faith would dictate. However, that has nothing to do with civil marriage, performed and recognized by the State in accordance with state law.

My name is Louis J. Marinelli, a conservative-Republican and I now support full civil marriage equality. The constitution calls for nothing less.

The part I emphasized in bold is exactly how I feel. I don’t mind if your religion forbids same-sex marriage, but not allowing civil marriage is ridiculous to me. Two people of the same sex getting married will not affect your marriage. The world will not end.

This chart sums that up pretty well:

Also, it’s hilarious to me that the party who runs on a platform of Good Family Values has SO MANY gay sex scandals.

The Folly of Subjecting Rights to a Vote

by John Tomasic, The Colorado Independent, April 7, 2011

A recent survey of Mississippi Republicans conducted by Public Policy Polling (pdf) found that a majority of them believe inter-racial marriage should be illegal. According to the poll, 46 percent of the Republicans told PPP staffers that interracial marriage should be illegal and 14 percent of them said they weren’t sure. Only 40 percent of Mississippi Republicans believe interracial couples should be allowed to legally marry. The poll comes a week after Colorado Republicans voted down a bill that would have granted Colorado gay couples domestic partnership rights already granted automatically with marriage to straight people. The Republican lawmakers said the issue should be left to voters to decide.

The question on interracial couples came in a poll intended to measure support for likely GOP presidential candidates. PPP called 400 usual Mississippi Republican primary voters between March 24 and March 27. The firm reported a margin of error at +/-4.9 percent.

The Colorado civil unions bill passed easily and with bipartisan support in the state’s Democratic-controlled Senate before dying in the House Judiciary Committee. Senator Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, led the opposition early, mostly citing the need to protect traditional marriage but also pointing to votes of the people cast in 2006. That year Coloradans passed Amendment 43, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman, and they voted down Referendum I, which would have established civil unions for gay people. “We have to respect the will of the people,” Lundberg said.

House Judicary Committee Chairman Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, took up that argument, as did all of the other Republican Committee members after they voted to kill the bill.

“I think [civil unions] is a major public policy decision,” said Gardner, “and because it was subjected to a vote of the people, both in Referendum I and Amendment 43 in different ways, to do it differently now, [to pass it] legislatively, that strikes me as aggregating to ourselves something that the people have spoken on.”

The House sponsor of the bill, Denver Democrat Mark Ferrandino, said he thought the talk from Republicans about the “will of the people” was just a cover.

“This was pressure by leadership to not let [the bill] out of committee,” he said. “That’s what you saw. They were scared… They were too concerned with what the far right wanted and not too concerned with what the people of Colorado wanted.”

Democratic Judiciary Committee member Claire Levy said at the hearing that asking voters to weigh whether or not to grant citizens rights was not appropriate. We don’t submit to a vote of the people Constitutional rights guaranteed to all Americans, including minority Americans. That’s not the way the United States is governed, she said.

The progressive politics America Blog, writing on the PPP poll, said the reported numbers were only a sort of tip of the iceberg.

“What’s really sick is that 46 percent of Republicans were willing to admit to a stranger (pollster) that they don’t approve of the mingling of the races. Imagine how high the REAL number is.”

Andrés is Colombian/Puerto Rican, & I’m white. I don’t usually think of our relationship in terms of it being a Controversial Interracial Relationship. Well, a Controversial Interracial Relationship with a Ten Year Age Gap. Well, except when we get mean mugged by old white ladies at the mall. And yes, my father approves, not that I should have to ask permission at 23 years old.

We have some differences, but most of them come from being two different people, not solely from being from different cultures or being different races. Neither of us has ever had hang-ups about dating outside our respective races. My first “boyfriend” (of two weeks) was a sweet black kid named Lemar in 9th grade. He’d send me little love poems written in French & I’d embarrassingly have to get my dad to translate.

Reading these poll results from Republicans in Mississippi is shocking to me. It’s 2011. I’m not even sure why this was asked, but it’s truly eye-opening. It also reinforces why neither of us ever want to live more South than Northern Virginia. We’ll stick with major cities on the Upper-East coast, where attitudes like this are a little harder to come by, instead of the majority.

Sunday Reads

A few interesting articles I read this week:

Cannibals Seeking Same: A Visit To The Online World Of Flesh-Eaters

by Josh Kurp, The Awl, March 16th, 2011

This is what happened: A little over ten years ago, on March 9, 2001, 39-year-old Meiwes, a computer technician living in the German village of Wustefeld, brought home, had sex with and killed 44-year-old Brandes, a Berlin man who lived about 250 miles away. Meiwes then ate 44 pounds of his flesh over a period of ten months. While that may sound like murder, there’s something else that should be mentioned: Brandes wanted it all to happen.

Condemned to Joy: The Western cult of happiness is a mirthless enterprise.

by Pascal Bruckner,, Winter 2011

On August 21, 1670, Jacques Bossuet, the bishop of Meaux and official preacher to the court of Louis XIV, pronounced the eulogy for Princess Henrietta of England before the Prince of Condé. The Duchess of Orléans had died at 26 after drinking a glass of chicory that may have been poisoned. At the threshold of death, the young woman had called on priests rather than doctors, embraced the crucifix, asked for the holy sacraments, and cried out to God. The wonder of death, Bossuet exclaimed, citing Saint Anthony, was that “for the Christian, it does not put an end to life but rather to the sins and perils to which life is exposed. God abbreviates our temptations along with our days; he thus sets a limit to occasions that might cost us true, eternal life; for this world is nothing but our common exile.” The good death was a door opened on eternity, a passage to that “true, eternal life.” In this life, by contrast, agony was expected.

As Kindles Take Over, What Happens to Margin Notes?

The Atlantic, March 14, 2011

The opening salvo was a New York Times dispatch from Chicago’s Newberry Library, home to some of American arts and letters’ most important margin scribbles, tirades, and asides. Readers—famously among them Poe, Coleridge, and Jefferson—have long filled the precious real estate between the printed word and the edge of the page with their running commentary, and margins are a trove of insight for scholars and biographers. But Mark Twains of tomorrow, beware—the future of such “literary archaeology” in the Age of Kindle raises a number of questions about whether e-annotations will add value to paperless books or simply spew more ephemeral, unfiltered chatter to the digital world. Ink fixed on paper, fragile as it is, has a kind of permanence that bytes of data can’t claim.

A Charitable Rush, With Little Direction

by Stephanie Strom, March 15, 2011

Disasters, particularly those epic enough to earn round-the-clock news coverage, are a fast way to get donors to open their wallets. So it was no surprise when nonprofit groups, starting with the American Red Cross and moving down to small charities, scrambled to raise money to help the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

But wealthy Japan is not impoverished Haiti. And many groups are raising money without really knowing how it will be spent — or even if it will be needed.

The Japanese Red Cross, for example, has said repeatedly since the day after the earthquake that it does not want or need outside assistance. But that has not stopped the American Red Cross from raising $34 million through Tuesday afternoon in the name of Japan’s disaster victims.

Sunday Reads

A few interesting articles I read this week:

The Lost Art of Pickpocketing

by Joe Keohane,, February 23, 2011

The decline of dipping on the rails is extraordinary. Subways were always the happiest hunting grounds for pickpockets, who would work alone or in teams. There were classic skilled canons—organized pickpocket gangs—at the top, targeting wealthier riders, then “bag workers” who went for purses, and “lush workers” who disreputably targeted unconscious drunks. Richard Sinnott, who worked as a New York City transit cop in the 1970s and ’80s, also admiringly recalls “fob workers,” a subspecies of pickpocket who worked their way through train cars using just their index and middle fingers to extract coins and pieces of paper money—a quarter here, a buck there—from riders’ pockets. “They weren’t greedy, and they never got caught,” says Sinnott. Bit by bit, fob workers could make up to $400 on a single subway trip; then they’d go to Florida in the winter to work the racetracks. Many of the city’s pickpockets trained elsewhere, “and if they were any good, they came to New York,” Sinnot says, with a touch of pride. “In the subways, we had the best there were.” Pickpocketing remained fairly rampant for years. Glenn Cunningham, who was part of an elite NYPD anti-pickpocketing task force in the 1980s and ’90s (he currently handles security for Robert De Niro’s hotel and film festival), says that pickpocketing in spots like Times Square was “out of control” at that time. “I made tons of arrests with those guys. We were like cowboys.”

Tour De Gall

by A. A. Gill, Vanity Fair, April 2011

What you actually find when you arrive at L’Ami Louis is singularly unprepossessing. It’s a long, dark corridor with luggage racks stretching the length of the room. It gives you the feeling of being in a second-class railway carriage in the Balkans. It’s painted a shiny, distressed dung brown. The cramped tables are set with labially pink cloths, which give it a colonic appeal and the awkward sense that you might be a suppository. In the middle of the room is a stubby stove that also looks vaguely proctological.

Insane Asylum Plans

Up to the 19th Century mentally ill people were sometimes chained naked in squalid conditions in places like London’s Bethlehem hospital which became synonymous with chaos (its name being contracted to bedlam) and where tourists would pay to see the freak show. Then came the extreme rationalism of the Kirkbride plan which created a very unusual form of architecture for asylums throughout the Anglosphere that was used until the 20th Century. As a result of their demise, most are abandoned ruins today, giant, rotting testimonies to a bygone era of clinical Victorian discipline combined with neo-Gothic extravagance.

The Kirkbride plan consists of an enormous a symmetrical staggered wing, like a bird made out of lego. Men are on the left and women on the right in wings that radiate from the main entrance for increasingly violent or incurable patients. Early mental institutions where patients had to pay for their own incarceration would also vary in class (rich to poor) on the y axis. The staggering of the wings ensured the flow of air through each, purging them of diseased vapors perhaps, such was the Victorian obsession with fresh air, from outdoor Tuberculosis wards to seaside promenades and piers.

Sunday Reads

A few interesting articles I read this week:

The Someone You’re Not

by Mike Sager,, February 24, 2011

Two years later, he is moved to a minimum-security prison at Grafton, Ohio, and eight years after that he moves to the Grafton Farm. Most of the inmates at the farm are allowed to work outside. Some can even drive into town themselves. As a convicted child molester, Ray cannot leave the facility unsupervised. He has a similar problem with the mandatory courses he’s supposed to take: Because he refuses to stand up in group and admit he is a child molester, he is not allowed to participate.

Years pass. He sees a couple guys have heart attacks. He sees a few guys get killed — they’re lying there bleeding, you know, you just keep moving. He sees beat-downs, beefs, hassles, rapes. He watches a cellie die slowly of a heart blockage — a decent older man who’d shot a guy for messing with his daughter. Towler is locked down in solitary twice. The first, a ninety-day stint, follows a routine shakedown: His cellie has a shiv fashioned from a spoon he bullied Towler into bringing back from the kitchen. The second stint follows the death of his mother, in 1984. He is allowed to go to the funeral; he wears shackles. When he returns, he asks to be put in solitary — he just wants to be alone. Over the years, most of the prisons in which he is housed are far from home — one is on the border with Kentucky. After the funeral, the only relative who visits is his sister Deborah.

From the very beginning, he draws portraits of guys, amazingly realistic likenesses with a number-2 pencil, on the back of an envelope or on a sheet of plain paper, something very special an inmate can send to his mom, his woman, his kids. Ray sells the portraits for cash or other valuables. His talent grants him a certain respect within the prison community, despite the mark of his despicable crime, which is written at the very top of his file and all of his paperwork, along with his prison number, 164681. His offense follows him everywhere. There is no escape. He says he feels like the actor Chuck Connors on that old TV show Branded. The theme song plays over and over in his head: What do you do when you’re branded, and you know you’re a man?

Twitter Was Act One

by David Kirkpatrick, Vanity Fair, April, 2011

McKelvey took Dorsey on as an intern and learned that this awkward teenager could swiftly master most computing tasks. When McKelvey began to worry his company could get killed by an online competitor, he found that Dorsey was the only one on his small staff who agreed on the need to migrate the business onto the fledgling Internet. McKelvey hired several freelancers for the project. “One guy asked me, ‘What’s my job title going to be?’ I said, ‘Assistant to the summer intern.’ He was basically a stick figure. I said, ‘Just do everything this kid says.’ ”

Dorsey kept improving as a programmer. His parents didn’t want him too far from home, so he enrolled at the University of Missouri at Rolla and, as a hobby, wrote dispatch software for emergency vehicles and couriers. (Dorsey is unusually good at staying focused.) In his junior year he wandered through the Web site of DMS, a large courier-dispatch company. Burrowing into its computers, he found the e-mail of the C.E.O. and wrote to him. “I said, ‘You have a [security] hole in your Web site. Here’s how to fix it. And, by the way, I write dispatch software,’ ” recalls Dorsey.

Cutting Out the Middle Men: The most efficient way to spend money on the homeless might be to give it to them

The Economist, November 4, 2010

One asked for a new pair of trainers and a television; another for a caravan on a travellers’ site in Suffolk, which was duly bought for him. Of the 13 people who engaged with the scheme, 11 have moved off the streets. The outlay averaged £794 ($1,277) per person (on top of the project’s staff costs). None wanted their money spent on drink, drugs or bets. Several said they co-operated because they were offered control over their lives rather than being “bullied” into hostels. Howard Sinclair of Broadway explains: “We just said, ‘It’s your life and up to you to do what you want with it, but we are here to help if you want.'”

Intent! It’s Fucking Magic!

by Genderbitch for, February 3, 2010

Today, someone said a slur. It actually doesn’t matter what slur it was, because you see, he didn’t intend to hurt anyone and therefore it couldn’t possibly be a slur. Much like how intent magically protects the actions of all privileged fuckjobs, intent means that anything you say, no matter how many groups it hurts, what awful views it enables, no matter what systemic bigotries it props up through the usage of language that enforces social concepts that crush a marginalized group, it mystically negates all of that.