Friday, April 30, 2010

Nil, Baby, Nil!

That's what we're hearing from Drill, Baby, Drill! champions Sarah Palin and Michael Steele as the disaster in the Gulf continues to expand.

These are not people known for the reticence...so, what's going on?  Is continuing to Shill, Baby, Shill! simply not in the best taste at the moment given the loss of life, property and the impending environmental catastrophe?  Or is possible that they realize (for the first time?  anew?) their rhetoric at and since the last Republican convention was empty and cynical, aimed at harnessing the inbred jingoism of their base for political gain?


Maybe they're just busy.

[Photo from Texas on the Potomac, a blog at The Houston Chronicle.]

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Praying for death on Facebook

We all know up-close the phenomenon that is Facebook.  Incorporated in 2004, not even a year after Mark Zuckerman created "Facemash" in his Harvard dorm room in the fall semester of 2003, the site now boasts over 400 million users worldwide.  That's quite a change from a newborn website that initially allowed only Harvard College students...then Stanford, Columbia, and Yale...then the entire Ivy League...then all Boston-area schools...and well, you know the rest.  Begun as a social networking tool for college students, many of us are now "friends" with our parents and our parents are now friends with their grandchildren.  What a six years it's been!

It has now become a de facto online town square.  And, given that anyone over 13 in possession of an e-mail address can take part, it was just a matter of time for the content to cover the spectrum from ridiculous to the sublime to the downright offensive.  Users, too, who all have different ideas of what is ridiculous, sublime or downright offensive.  Naturally, politics abounds with groups or pages devoted to this or against that.  This is to be expected.  What is not necessarily to be expected is a group praying for someone's death -- especially the U.S. President's death.  Over 1,000,000 Facebook users now "like" this group.

Seriously?

Alright, perhaps given the unhinged times we live in, this was to be expected.  Apparently, the group evolved from an online poll on Facebook last Fall asking if users thought President Obama should be killed -- something even more staggeringly offensive than prayers for someone's death (though certainly this is splitting hairs).  Sigh.  Ok, what is definitely not expected, then, is that Facebook wouldn't be doing a thing about it.  Despite the fact that Facebook's terms of use bans posting "content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic, or that contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence", the response has been hands-off.  Others have criticized Facebook for allowing Holocaust denial groups, citing their presence as hate-speech.  So, what gives?

The bottom line, however, is that Facebook is not a town square -- at least not in the governmental sense -- and therefore is under no obligation to protect 1st Amendment free speech.  That said, the government is moving ever steadily in the direction of removing hate-speech from protected speech, so why wouldn't Facebook, given a) it has no obligation to protect hate-speech and b) such speech clearly violates its own stated terms of use?

Or, how about this food for thought?  Setting aside the debate between what, if anything, should be banned, let's briefly examine potential liability.  What if, God forbid, someone actually assassinates the current or a future President (or anyone else, for that matter), and later in court cites as partial motivation a group he belonged to on Facebook calling or praying for someone's death?  How would Facebook respond?  What would be their liability?  Legality notwithstanding, what would be their moral responsibility?

Perhaps the reigning king of social networking sites should shelve how best to use their members' information to direct traffic and sell ads and pay a bit more attention to what and whom they are actually hosting.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Is there a Mr. Smith in the House, er, Senate?

Ok, now that's what I'm taking about!

Post Script

For those of you keeping score at home:

You must regard the foreigner who lives with you as the native-born among you.  You are to love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.  - from the Old Testament

The Other

In the past, at times of fear, The Other is the scapegoat.  Always.  Because it can't be Our Fault.  Someone else is mucking up the works, and it clearly isn't us.  We know us, and we're definitely not to blame.

Witness the Birther Movement (such that it is).  A nice, white, Yalie, Texan via New England couldn't have brought down the wrath of God.  It has to be The Foreigner.  How convenient that the Fates brought us Barack Obama.  Right out of central casting, he is -- black (at least half so), born of a Kenyan father (and a Muslim at that), a speaker of foreign tongues, a world traveler at a wee age.  By George, he's perfect!  Sure, he says he was born in Hawaii, but, really, isn't Hawaii just barely American anyway?  Why, many Americans can remember when Hawaii wasn't even a State!

It's amusing -- and maddening -- to see, in the words of Lindsey Graham, "good people" freaking out because of the barbarians at the gate.  Do they not know their history?  Probably not...but they (profess to) know The Bible.  Hmmm, what does The Bible say about welcoming foreigners...?  It warns specifically against NOT welcoming them -- the Old Testament and no less of an authority than the Son of Man/God Himself!

Wha!?

Someone [I'm talking to you, Arizona] needs to take better notes.  We all know e pluribus unum -- "out of many, one".  Unfortunately, we don't understand it.  We "get" the pluribus part, and many of us don't like it one bit (selectively remembering our own part in pluribus).  We like the unum part, but only if we get to define what unum means.  We like to think that unum means what we were taught it means:  a melting pot, where all the various ingredients get mushed together into one, homogeneous whole.  To this, I would like to ask:  when, exactly, have we ever been one, homogeneous whole?  Those who pine for the Eisenhower days would like us to think there was a time when this actually occurred, but they are very, very wrong.  I prefer to think of unum as former NYC mayor David Dinkins described it:  a gorgeous mosaic.  Each piece gets to be distinct while being integral to the larger whole.  Is not a beautiful mosaic an unum?

So, let's review.  God, Himself, tells us to welcome the stranger.  Our collective American history exists because of strangers.  An unum can contain a plurality while still exhibiting cohesiveness.

What, then, is our problem!?

I would like to submit that we have a problem with language.  And it's two-fold.  Firstly, we seem to have a problem with non-English speakers.  Ok.  English is the non-official lingua franca of the land.  And we've all heard about the Italian/German/Polish/etc. ancestors who came here, say, in the 1800s or early 1900s who learned English immediately in order to become good Americans.  All that's fine...to a point.  I, for one, went to Germany in college with someone who had two native-German-speaking parents who thought better of giving their daughter that ability, and she fought as hard as I did (with no such bi-lingual parents) to survive in Germany during that year.  What a waste!  Also, if you go back far enough, you'll find people throughout what became this country speaking Dutch, Swedish, French, Spanish and more.  There was an America then, too; it just wasn't yet the United States.  What I would like to know is why a single language is, ipso facto, a good thing?  How many perfectly good countries out there have more than one official language?  Switzerland has four, and it's been around since the 13th century!  Seriously, what is our problem?

Secondly, we have a self-inflicted issue about the language we use to describe those who are not, or are not yet, citizens.  We call them "illegals", and, in doing so, we do a disservice to them and to us.  To my mind, something "illegal" is criminal.  It's illegal to kill; it's illegal to run a red light; it's illegal to not pay your taxes.  Non-citizens are not inherently illegal; rather they are not-yet legal or, better still, they are extra-legal, or non-legal or how about non-citizens?  Calling them illegals denotes something wrong or, worst, something sinister. How wrong-headed is that?  What, exactly, is wrong or sinister about someone trying to make a better life for themselves and their families the best, or perhaps only, way they know how?  Is that not what our various ancestors did when they washed up on these shores?  Who, honestly, are we to label them "illegal"?

It's not right, and, frankly, the whole dynamic of the conversation needs to change.  The United States of America is one, big glass house...and I don't know a single person who has any right to be lobbing stones at anyone.  We need to stop looking for scapegoats and deal with the issues we have, together.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stiffening one's resolve


Nothing says "put up or shut up" like the threat of being the second Democratic Senate Majority Leader in a row to be completely voted out of office.  It's what happened to Tom Daschle in the 2004 election cycle, and is how Harry Reid got his current job. Apparently, Sen. Reid has decided those are footsteps he'd rather not follow.

Not a moment too soon, Senator.

Fill, Baby, Fill!

The Gulf of Mexico is slowly becoming the Gulf of Texaco*.

The above are recent satellite images from NASA [via HuffPo, here.]  The slick -- continually being fed by 42,000 gallons of oil per day -- now measures something like 48 miles wide by 80 miles long.  It is slowly moving to the north and expanding both east and west.  And, like the spill itself, the list of what is now and will be threatened continues to grow.

Of immediate concern are the bird nesting areas in the Chandeleur and Breton barrier islands off of Louisiana.  Up next would be the tourism-generating beaches of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.  Then there is the impact on marine life, not least of which -- in terms of the local economy -- includes the oyster beds in Breton Sound.  Most devastating -- to at least eleven families out there -- has been the cost paid in human life.

I trust no one is surprised by this -- least of all the idiotic and/or cynical boosters of "Drill, Baby, Drill!"  Certainly Sarah Palin should be counted upon to know a thing or two about what oil spills can do.  The drilling cheerleaders know perfectly well that extracting whatever deposits of oil remaining on our shores is neither a long-term solution nor a nearer-term necessity.  No, it's about the money to be made in the short run, sprinkled with a jingoistic, go-it-alone attitude and a nose-thumbing at the tree-huggers that is so popular among the less-monied, love-it-or-leave-it set.

The short-sightedness is breathtaking.  How many times have we seen it recently?  Just since the 2008 election alone, we've seen Gov. Bobby Jindal mock the notion of volcano monitoring (only to have Iceland shut down European air travel); we've seen the robber barons on Wall Street throw Main Street and the whole global economy under the bus (only to give marching orders to their Washington proxies to block financial reform); we've seen John McCain campaign under the slogan "Country First" (only to choose a running mate who was colossally unprepared to be a heartbeat away from the presidency); we've seen Virgina's new Governor, Bob McDonnell, declare a Confederacy History Month (only without any mention of slavery, the lack of which Mississippi Governor, Haley Barbour, said meant "diddly"); we've seen the Recovery funds lamented by nationally-known and nationally-ambitious politicians (only to be embraced when they aid their constituents at home), etc.  The list goes on, and it's a litany of cynicism and hypocrisy.

So, of course, you know what's coming next.  These Gulf Governors -- every last one of them a Republican, the party of "Drill, Baby, Drill!", lower taxes, weaker environmental regulations and smaller government -- will want to be bailed out by the federal government.  And they'll get the help they need, because that's what the federal government does.  And then the Gulf Governors and their similarly-minded brethren across the country will go right back to biting the hand that feeds them, because that's what they do.

And so it continues....
__________
* I use "Texaco" for literary convenience; the destroyed rig was owned by Transocean Ltd. and operated by BP PLC.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Modest Proposal

Pity the poor Arizona law enforcement community.  They are certainly going to have their hands full demanding papers from everyone who might potential be here illegally.  Racial profiling only helps so much!  What they need is a system to help distinguish legal from illegal "potentially illegal" people, something that could immediately identify people who might look foreign but are, in fact, bona fide American citizens.

Perhaps something like an identifying patch....

[This photo comes from a slideshow over at Talking Points Memo.]

New Arizona [Anti-]Immigration law is racist and deeply hypocritical

Ah, the Pilgrims...North America's First Illegals.  Perhaps the man and woman shown here are some of my ancestors, John Alden and Priscilla Mullins.  Such a lineage used to be the source of great pride -- "American royalty" (until that title was usurped by the Kennedys) -- it still is in some ways, but it also represents the thin edge of a wedge that murdered, raped and stole.

Quite the mixed bag.

Fast-forward 390 years, to this past Friday when Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law what is now recognized as the nation's toughest "immigration" law.  [I place "immigration" in quotes, because this law is about stemming immigration.  It is more rightly called an anti-immigration law.]  In addition to it now being illegal to be, er, illegal in Arizona, it further requires the police to demand papers from anyone suspected of being here illegally.  I'm sure the state's illegal Polish immigrants are shaking in their boots.

I have no doubt that this law will be ruled unconstitutional eventually; it is blatantly so.  What enrages me, however, is that anyone would be able to convince themselves otherwise -- or, constitutionality aside, that this new law is anything but xenophobic, most charitably, and racist at worst.

It is also deeply hypocritical.

Janice Kay "Jan" Brewer is governor of a state that has the second largest population of Native Americans in the country on various reservations covering over a quarter of the state's land area.
A quick search of Brewer's own background comes up a bit cloudy. Her Wikipedia article relates that she was born in Hollywood, CA, to Perry and Edna Drinkwine.  Other articles online cite a slightly different [earlier?] Wikipedia fragment referencing that Brewer, now a Missouri-Synod Lutheran, was raised Jewish.  Regardless, it's pretty safe to say her background is not Native American, in which case her people came here from somewhere, at some point, no doubt lacking proper documentation.

Perhaps, for the Governor and her supporters, if someone didn't have the decency to be here first, like the Native Americans, it is somehow nobler to have arrived on a boat (rather than leaping a fence or transversing a river), or to have had the good taste to speak a European language (Spanish is fine, but only if you're actually from Spain), or at the very least to have arrived before current living memory.

Whatever the reason, it's clear these Juan-Come-Latelies are out of luck.  The inn's full.

Friday, April 23, 2010

"Everybody Draw Mohammad Day!"

Perhaps you saw the recent South Park episode where creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, abiding by the letter (if not the intent, exactly) of the traditional prohibition of images of Mohammad, depicted the prophet fully covered in a bear suit (complete with a "BEARS" t-shirt).

Predictably, this didn't go over so well with some people, and Parker and Stone received an ominous threat, prompting Comedy Central to "alter" the episode.  This, in turn, didn't go over well with the show's creators, nor with at least one other person:  Dan Savage.  Savage, a journalist, pundit, native Chicagoan and generally brilliant guy, posted the following [artwork by Molly Norris] in response yesterday afternoon on the website Slog:

Uh-oh.

For their part, Parker and Stone posted a statement yesterday on their South Park Studios website.

William Shakespeare and James Buchanan













What do the "Bard of Avon" and the 15th President of the United States have in common...other than today being their birthdays?*

They both have ongoing speculation about their true sexual orientations.  Despite the indignant protests by those who feel compelled to defend -- what, exactly? -- the clues exist, the hypotheses emerge, and the questions remain open. 

On the straight-to-gay spectrum, Shakespeare would have difficulty achieving anything gayer than bisexuality.  In addition to having married Anne Hathaway and fathering three children by her, it is widely assumed he had other intimate relationships with women.  Indeed, the "Dark Lady" sonnets suggest as much.  Other sonnets, however -- 126 of them addressed to "Mr. W.H." -- contemplate male beauty, express desire for the "Fair Lord" or "Fair Youth" and, at the very least, provide a basis for speculation.

Buchanan's life, on the other hand, provides more fodder for analysis.  Our only bachelor President, he was, as a young man, engaged to be married.  The engagement was eventually broken off by the young lady after the disappointment of a largely-absent Buchanan was compounded by rumors of either other women or "gold-digging".  She died soon thereafter, with Buchanan swearing he would never marry.  Ostensibly, he stayed true to this oath; but, in practical terms, he did form an intimate, 15-year relationship with a senator from Alabama, William Rufus King, that only ended upon King's death.  The two men lived together and were essentially a couple, with some wags referring to King as Buchanan's "better half" or "wife".  Most of their correspondence while separated during various diplomatic posts was destroyed by their respective nieces, but enough remains to testify to a special kind of friendship.

Of course, none of the above proves anything; it doesn't need to.  Dissecting their sexualities may be interesting, but what is far more interesting and telling is observing how people react to the very notion of asking what appears to be, based on the evidence, legitimate and reasonable questions.

__________
* Shakespeare's actual date of birth is unconfirmed.  April 23 is a guess based on a baptismal record, dated April 26.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Barack Obama is no Franklin Delano Roosevelt

He never claimed to be.  I wasn't around to vote for Roosevelt -- any of the four times he ran, not by a long shot, just for the record -- but I most certainly had Roosevelt in mind when I did vote for Obama.  Unfortunately, the Obama administration (so far) bears little resemblance to the Obama candidacy.  I suppose that is to be expected in today's political climate.  Even with one of the largest majorities in Congress, this Democratic president (and leader of his party) has walked a careful line.  This timidity is the bane of the modern-day Democratic Party.  Why they don't understand this is something I will never understand.

I, and others like me, voted for a reformer...a reformer the likes of Franklin D., or at least Theodore.  But the days of "big stick" presidents is over; there's too much money involved.  Obama has to castigate Goldman Sachs while, at the same time, seek campaign contributions.  Conflict of interest much?  Republicans do it too, of course, but the conflict isn't so great.

Sadly, Realpolitik requires succumbing to the (promised) end justifying the means, but with the proviso that the "end" will be a mishmash, a prudent middle-road.  This isn't what I voted for (though I knew it would be so)...it certainly isn't what millions of others, inspired by Obama's historic -- monumentally-historic -- candidacy, voted for.

In his defense, he is faced with a Republican Party that has decided it's role is to obstruct.  I'm all for a "loyal opposition"; but, this opposition has been anything but loyal.  The Republican base has called this president every name in the book, with some of the most outspoken elected officials (who should know better) giving, at best, silent acquiescence and, at worst, vocal agreement [I'm talking to you Michelle Bachmann and Jim DeMint].

Elections matter.  Obama won.  The Democrats, now in the majority in Congress, won.  And, just like Bush and the Republicans before him/them, they deserve to have a chance at bat.  It might be "allowable" for the losers to gum up the works, but it certainly isn't fair play.

And, if Americans and America don't stand for fair play, then perhaps we should just hit the reset button and start over...because this isn't the America we like to think we are, nor is it the America we keep touting to the rest of the world.

Über-cool video of NASA's newest Sun images

The Sun.  Without it, Earth just wouldn't be the place we've come to know and love.

The Guardian has posted a video sequence of NASA's most-recent images...a nice complement to today's "star", the Earth.

The new U.S. $100 Bill looks downright European

...according to well-known numismatist Matt Drudge.

Hmmm, ok.  And this is a bad thing because...?

Chicago suburbs Kenilworth, Winnetka, and Highland Park make the Top Ten

Top Ten big-spending, American suburbs, that is.  HuffPo is presenting the largest-living suburbs from a report showing household spending for 2009.  A company called Bundle gathered the information from over 300 suburbs around the country.

So how did Chicago's suburbs stack up?

1st Place:  Kenilworth

7th Place:  Winnetka

10th Place:  Highland Park

Well done, North Shore.

There would be no Earth Day without Bugs Bunny

...because Bugs saved the Earth in the 1948 Warner Bros. cartoon Haredevil Hare.
 
You'll remember that Marvin the Martian was bent on destroying the Earth using his Uranium Pu-36 Space Modulator.
When Bugs realizes the gravity of the situation, he cries out in horror:  "You can't blow up the Earth...all of my friends are on the Earth!"

In the end, it's the Moon that gets blown up.  Earth is saved, and 22 years later Earth Day is born.  Hooray...and thank you, Bugs Bunny!

Happy Earth Day!  Now get out there and hug your planet.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell calls the Democratic Party "Soulless"

And he's right.  Check out what HuffPo's Sam Stein has to say about a recent panel discussion where Rendell sparred with House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA).  Said Rendell:

"I don't think we have a battle for our soul -- I think we have lost our soul," he said [about the Democrats]. "We have been cowed into [sic] stop talking about the things that made us Democrats in the first place; that we believe the government can and should make a difference in people's lives; that we can protect the most vulnerable in our society; that we can, in fact, give opportunities to people who haven't had it. And that government can be an important catalyst -- they can't do it by itself -- but they can be a catalyst for growth."

Boy, howdy.

Asked later, by Stein, about what he meant specifically about the Party being soulless, Rendell said:

"We have been out-spun and we are scared," he said. "And when you are scared, you can do one of two things: you can circle the wagons and hide inside or under the wagon, or you can get out and fight for what you believe in. I think we are starting -- President Obama started when he went to the Republican caucus -- to fight back and for what we believe in. If we do that, I think our losses will be much less [in 2010] than what anybody suspects."

Rendell is absolutely right.  I like Rendell; he's a straight-shooter.  Democrats tend to be wusses, and this is a double-edged sword.  They're wusses because they actually care about debate; they're wusses because they actually have different opinions about how best to move forward; they're wusses because they refuse to march in lock-step.  These are all positive attributes, actually, but they fail in the blood-sport of politics.  Republicans have no such quandaries.  They have their marching orders and they fall in when commanded.

What's the old truism?  Democrats have the heart to lead, but no brains; Republicans have the brains to lead, but no heart.

This duality is our choice...in every election.  Unfortunately, FEAR will always side with brains over heart.  LOVE, however, will always side with the heart.

What side are you on?

Why you drink

I figured as much.

[Via Andrew Sullivan's post on The Daily Dish, How Big Should the Safety Net Be?  Image via Miss Cellania.]

Jewish-Americans for Sarah Palin

Oy veh.



TPM is reporting on some meschuggener Mentsch trying to drum up support among Jewish-Americans for the ex-Half-Governor, Sarah Palin.  His new site -- JewsForSarah -- seeks to burnish Palin's Israel-related credentials.  The fact that Palin, a Christian Zionist, believes support for the Jewish State is a prerequisite for the Second Coming of Christ (when Jews will recognize Jesus as the Messiah) doesn't seem to faze him.

Not surprisingly, it does faze others; the response from the overwhelming majority of Jewish-Americans has been:  thanks, but no thanks.

From the sublime to the ridiculous

Friend Lia found this short send-up of Romeo & Juliet...if Juliet had a Sassy Gay Friend.

Enjoy!  [Warning:  sipping liquids while watching this is not recommended.]

Mark Twain's yahrzeit

In addition to a foreign royal's birthday, today is also a memorial day for some home-grown, American royalty -- literary and otherwise.  Today is the 100th anniversary of Mark Twain's death. Via HuffPo, I found a site called Story of the Week, a project of The Library of America.  In honor of this centennial, the site has reprinted an 1889 interview of Twain by Rudyard Kipling, then a young man making a pilgrimage from India to the U.S. to meet an idol of his.

Rudyard Kipling's Mark Twain Interview

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart...and his Orchestra

Well, not orchestra so much as back-up gospel choir.  Stewart "goes to church" to lay down a little fire and brimstone on the sinners at Fox News.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Bernie Goldberg Fires Back
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Praise his name!

Happy Birthday, Your Majesty!

Today is Queen Elizabeth II's 84th birthday.  Her official -- as in public holiday -- birthday is usually held on the 1st or 2nd Saturday in June (in the UK, anyway...other commonwealth nations sets their own public holiday dates).  This year it will be June 12th.

And may I say, that is a gorgeous hat, Ma'am.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

iPhone User?

You're in luck!

You can add an icon to your iPhone homescreen for...wait for it...DraneSpout.

Woohoo!

So...you go to http://www.dranespout.com/  on your iPhone, click the plus sign on the bottom of your screen, then click "Add to Home Screen".  Now you can roam wherever, knowing your DraneSpout fix is but a moment away.

New Haven Alien in New York

There's a fun article in the The New York Observer today entitled "The Yaliens Among Us".

Specifically targeting undergraduate alumni/-ae now living in NYC, it discusses the various, specific attributes of the Yalie.  One of these attributes is how "exceptionally nice" Yalies tend to be.  I heartily agree, though from a slightly different vantage point as a graduate school alumnus.  My fellow graduate students were, indeed, nice (more remarkable, given they were proto-architects), but I have to say that my experience with undergraduates was almost universally agreeable.  I TA'd many, and I have to say it was a lot of fun.


Boola boola!

[P.S.  This picture looks like it was taken from the roof terrace of the School of Architecture...how appropriate!]

[Hat tip:  Darren Kowitt]

In an octopus' garden...

...you have to keep a tight grip on your camera (apparently).

Check out this mind-bending video over at The Daily Dish.


With God as my witness, I will never swim in the ocean again.

Oops!

Yeah, well, at least he cannot tell a lie.

Good.

The Ugandan MP who sponsored the "kill-the-gays" bill will be banned from the UK if it passes, reports The Guardian.  Will we do the same?

Demonstrators protest against the anti-homosexuality bill outside 
the Ugandan embassy in central London, on December 10, 2009. 
Photograph: Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images

Do you suppose they're finally learning?

TPM has the following article up on its site:

White House:  Obama Won't Make Cautious Court Pick
Because GOP Will Oppose Whoever He Nominates

By George, I think he's got it!

Thank you, Wonkette, for remembering!

Do you recall a certain Louisana governor mocking "volcano monitoring" during the Republican response to President Obama's first State of the Union address?

Wonkette does.

The Martini

It should go without saying that no blog of mine would be complete -- let alone get out of its first week -- without paying tribute in one manner or another to the king of cocktails, the martini.
Master Bartender Karl Kozel shares his considerable know-how over at HuffPo.  Check it out.

Cool Site Watch

Despite the fact that I'm generally down on the architectural profession at the moment, I will always love the discipline...the art of Architecture.  So, it is with this in mind that I recommend checking out Architizer.

The Polar Bear continues to get respect

Camp Bo-Bo by the Bay is shown some love in a recent article from Newsweek.

Suds from Downeast

Maine brews are on their way to The White House.


Party in the East Room!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Well done, (ELCA) Lutherans!

Check out this article in The Huffington Post about a recent announcement by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The ELCA Council is adopting "significant revisions to ministry policies". [Read the Council's actual news release here.] In a nutshell, the church is abolishing any remaining anti-gay policies; in other words, gays and lesbians, whether single or in relationships, will no longer be forced out of ministry. Even better, the new policy will be retroactive, allowing the re-hiring of people who were fired for no other reason than stepping out of the closet.

As an Episcopalian, I say: way to go, Lutherans...and welcome!

Who knew?

Apparently today is Patriots' Day (not to be confused -- yeah, right -- with Patriot Day on September 11). Only officially observed in Massachusetts and Maine (a part of Massachusetts until 1820), it commemorates the battles of the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord.

This saddens me for two reasons: I grew up in Maine and am only just now learning about this commemoration; and this perfectly honorable remembrance has obviously been co-opted by self-styled, modern-day "patriots" who blow up government buildings, protest some of the lowest taxes in history and wave around guns as close to the Capitol as they are legally permitted (Virginia).

Hooray.

Remembering Oklahoma City


15 years ago today. Husband and I toured the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum last year. It presents in disturbing detail how your world can change irrecoverably in an instant. It's a place of both healing and warning, and its lessons have never seemed so poignant. Unfortunately.

The Tea Party and the Neo-Confederacy

Check out Frank Rich's op-ed column in today's New York Times.

This was the money quote for me: "It’s not happenstance that officials from the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Virginia and Mississippi have argued, as one said this month, that the Confederate Army had been “fighting for the same things that people in the Tea Party are fighting for.”

We may have known this intuitively, but many times it takes Frank Rich to actually say it out loud.

Eyjafjallajökull spews on.

Here are two pictures from a collection over at Huffington Post that best drive home the problem facing Europe at the moment.





The second image is the air at Gatwick Airport in London.

Clearly the Nordic gods are stirring. I blame Wall St.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A word about my banner

The drainspout featured in my brand-spanking-new banner is one Husband and I photographed this very day on the campus of Northwestern University, here in our hometown of Evanston, Illinois. It hangs above an entrance to Chauncey Keep at what was until recently the campus of the Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. It is now a part of Northwestern and serves as additional student housing. Seabury still exists (thank God), but in a much-reduced form. It leases some of its former space from its new landlord...until its future plans are more concrete. Fortunately, the exteriors cannot be touched; they're registered landmarks, both federally and locally. This is very good news for this beautifully-patinaed copper scupper!

Welcome!

Before the action begins, I'd like to take a moment to say a bit about WHY and HOW. The WHY is to give voice to, well, many things. I gots stuff to say and stuff to share, and this will help me do that. The HOW is through (God willing) daily posts about things that strike my fancy, things I feel are important, things I want to share, and things that are simply amusing or fun. The title of this blog is "DraneSpout" -- a combination of my last name and a description of what comes naturally to me (so I'm told), that is: spouting. A drainspout (also known as a downspout or a scupper and leader) collects what the heavens throw down onto our roofs and sends it ...wherever. In the same sense, DraneSpout collects what I think important/relevant/interesting/etc. and sends it to you via the posts I proffer here. I hope you like it or are intrigued by it or are compelled by it. If nothing else, I hope you're entertained by it. I, for one, will be entertained no end...so there's that. And, frankly, isn't that enough?

Hopefully, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.