Save the (Russian) children

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The Sochi Olympics are already off to a bad start. For the past few days, reporters covering the event have been tweeting and photographing how bad thing are (a vast collection of tweets here). Like this:

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That’s like the scene in “Borat” when the foreign visitor to an upper middle class home takes a dump in the bathroom and comes out with his waste in a bag, asking the hostess where it’s supposed to go.

When I went to the Athens Olympics in 2004, I remember everybody saying beforehand how dangerous it was going to be an how unprepared the Greeks were. My son and I had a great time there. Everything was fine.

Sochi, however, appears to be turning out how the skeptics were saying Athens was going to be. But worse.

Today’s shiny object: “Duck Dynasty”

OK. So there’s a controversy concerning something some guy on the reality show “Duck Dynasty” said. I’ve never seen the show, but …

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… that’s a family photo. They’re dressed in camouflage. They’re in Louisiana.

I checked out a random clip on YouTube:

So, really? I’m supposed to be appalled that some Bayou-bred extras from a ZZ Top video would say something that wasn’t progressive? They have a show BECAUSE they say weird shit like this.

Do you think, perhaps, that MAYBE these folks (honestly, I don’t even know their names. Duck? Is that it?) have done something like held a Confederate flag? Hey, let’s go out on a limb here. Are they now or have they ever been members of the Republican party? (Oh, what’s that? They helped a Tea Party Republican win a congressional primary in Louisiana?)

Give me a break. You want to know what we should be upset about?

Marcus Thomas, former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division in Quantico, said in a recent story in The Washington Post that the FBI has been able to covertly activate a computer’s camera — without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording — for several years.

Now research from Johns Hopkins University provides the first public confirmation that it’s possible to do just that, and demonstrates how. While the research focused on MacBook and iMac models released before 2008, the authors say similar techniques could work on more recent computers from a wide variety of vendors. In other words, if a laptop has a built-in camera, it’s possible someone — whether the federal government or a malicious 19 year old — could access it to spy on the user at any time.

That doesn’t razz your berry? How about this?

Target confirmed Thursday morning that it was investigating a security breach involving stolen credit card and debit card information for 40 million of its retail customers.

In a statement, Target said that criminals gained access to its customer information on Nov. 27 — the day before Thanksgiving and just ahead of one of the busiest shopping days of the year — and maintained access through Dec. 15.

Hell, someone hacked my job this week, so now I’ve got to change passwords on everything I log into.

The “Duck Dynasty” “controversy” is just another shiny thing to divert your attention from the really horrible things that are screwing us over.

At least the “Duck Dynasty” guy knew that what was coming out of his mouth was going to be used against him. That’s more than the rest of us can say.

Kids react to the Cheerios ad

This video doesn’t say where the kids are interviewed, but it’s pretty obvious they’re not in the Old Confederacy. I’m guessing New York or California, because:

1) The group is pretty diverse: black, white, Asian and mixed race.
2) The kids really seem oblivious to the fact that people would freak out over the ad.
3) Don’t hear any Southern or Midwestern accents.
4) The responses are all Blue-State Liberal.

A little research shows the Fine brothers (the guys behind this project) were raised and educated in New York City and now live in Los Angeles. (Wow! Who would have guessed that.)

I’d like to say the video is encouraging, but I think the brothers need to get away from the coasts and spend some time in fly-over country (And I don’t mean Denver or Chicago.).

This video puts stars in your eyes. But a visit to the heartland would be more of an eye-opener. Yes, they’ll find kids who will say the same thing everywhere they go, but they’ll also get the chance to question the kids who bring their parents’ prejudices to the conversation.

We’re just friends

You’ve probably seen this already, but just in case you haven’t:

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Remember when the right was going nuts, saying that “Sesame Street” was indoctrinating children into the gay lifestyle?

You don’t?

Bert and Ernie are two grown men sharing a house and a bedroom. They share clothes, eat and cook together and have blatantly effeminate characteristics. In one show Bert teaches Ernie how to sew. In another they tend plants together. If this isn’t meant to represent a homosexual union, I can’t imagine what it’s supposed to represent.
(Reverend Joseph Chambers on his radio show, 1994)

And then the left went nuts:

Bert and Ernie conduct themselves in the same loving, discreet way that millions of gay men, women and hand puppets do. They do their jobs well and live a splendidly settled life together in an impeccably decorated cabinet. ”
(The Real Thing by Kurt Andersen, 1980)

Finally Bert and Ernie did interviews:

“All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay.”
(Ernie to students at Carnegie Mellon University, 1997)

“Oh, you had to ask that question. No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”
(Bert to Spencer Howson when asked if he and Ernie are “more than just good friends” in an ABC Brisbane radio interview, March 7, 2005.)

But this was the best response:

They’re puppets. They don’t exist below the waist!
(Steve Whitmire, who has performed Ernie on Sesame Street since 1993, to students in a Q&A session at Carnegie Mellon University. September 10, 1997)

There’s lots more where that came from here.

Are we done yet?

The Supreme Court has cleared the way for gay marriage by ruling against a key point of the Defense of Marriage Act and by declining to rule on California’s Proposition 8, leaving a lower court order that ruled against that law intact.

So now that’s over and we can move on to more important matters, right?

A group of conservative House Republicans blasted the decisions on same-sex marriage issued Wednesday by the Supreme Court as legally inconsistent and detrimental to the future of the nation’s children. One lawmaker pledged to soon file a constitutional amendment to reinstate the Defense of Marriage Act.

“A narrow radical majority of the court has substituted their personal views for the constitutional decisions of the American voters and their elected representatives,” said Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.). “My response will be later this week to file a federal marriage amendment.”

It’s like beating your head against the wall.

 

 

Stupid is as stupid does: Wear your tutu to work

The GOP in the West is keeping up with the party’s efforts to broaden its base and offer an open tent by offending everyone in sight (from the Spokesman-Review):

Idaho Republican Party leaders are calling on the state Legislature to invalidate local city ordinances that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation — like the one Coeur d’Alene passed after an emotional community debate just two weeks ago.

Six Idaho cities have passed such non-discrimination ordinances in the past year and a half, and a seventh, Idaho Falls, is looking into one now; the Idaho GOP wants them halted. …

Cornel Rasor, a former Bonner County commissioner and chairman of the Idaho GOP’s resolutions committee, said, “I’d hire a gay guy if I thought he was a good worker. But if he comes into work in a tutu … he’s not producing what I want in my office.”

I’ve been working and hiring for a lot of years. So far, no one — straight or gay, male or female — has shown up for work in a tutu. People in Idaho must be kinkier than I thought if it’s happening there.

So how should we react?
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Let the skewering begin!

Cindy Lauper wins a Tony Award

I’ve been wondering, “whatever happened to Cindy Lauper?” And now I see she won a Tony Award a couple of hours ago for a Broadway musical called “Kinky Boots,” about a shoe company that made boots for drag queens?

You can make a musical out of that? OK. Here’s the acceptance speech:

I saw her more than 25 years ago (Really? That long?) at the Louisville Gardens. It was one of those shows where there were no seats. A couple thousand of us just stood on an open floor and danced.

What impressed me most about the show was the point at which hundreds of people (Not me!) tried to rush the stage at the same time and she, very nicely, told everyone to cool it before someone got hurt. I’ve always admired that, because it was just a bunch of stupid kids, stupidly crushing another bunch of stupid kids. But she didn’t get upset and she didn’t yell at anyone. She was sincerely concerned that someone would get hurt.

I did a quick check and see that her version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” came out in 1983. That’s 30 years ago! Here she is in Paris in 1987, a couple of years after I saw her in Louisville.

Much bigger crowd, but just as excited about the song

The consequences of free speech

Guess who’s now the new oppressed class in the gay marriage debate (From TPM):

Over the last few days, as the emerging national marriage equality consensus has become more clear, a number of social conservatives have begun suggesting they are now in a new and oppressive climate in which they’re no longer able to speak their minds about the immorality of homosexuality or why laws should discriminate against gays. …

One of the folks we’re talking about just asked me on Twitter, in so many words, What happened to free speech? Now if you don’t agree with gay marriage you’re in trouble? Obviously we all have free speech. But what people usually want with free speech is the ability to speak their mind and not have people think worse of them for it.

Here’s something liberals learned from conservatives years ago. You can practice free speech. But don’t get your panties in a bunch when people say you’re scum because you’re speaking freely.

A sampler:

When liberals protested the war in Iraq that began a decade ago, conservatives called them traitors.

When liberals say everyone has the right to health care or that income distribution in America has overwhelmingly benefited the richest segment of the country, conservatives call them socialists.

When liberals speak against prayer in the schools, conservatives say they hate Jesus.

When liberals defend poor people, conservatives call them bleeding hearts.

When liberals criticized the Supreme Court ruling that gave the presidency to George W. Bush (the Dumber), conservatives told them to shut up and stop being cry babies.

And now, conservatives speak against gay marriage, and people call them bigots. And their feelings are hurt, so they whine that those mean old liberals are denying their right to free speech.

Screw them. Free speech doesn’t give you a free pass to say whatever you want without consequences or criticism.

 

Lost and found in the New York subway

There’s a heart-warming piece in Thursday’s New York Times by Peter Mercurio that opens with this:

The story of how Danny and I were married last July in a Manhattan courtroom, with our son, Kevin, beside us, began 12 years earlier, in a dark, damp subway station.

I won’t spoil it by excerpting more, but it is worth reading. Or, you can wait a few years, because somewhere in Hollywood, someone is thinking, “This would make a great movie.” Take a look here.