Monday, July 31, 2006

Why I didn't campaign for the Democrats over the Weekend

The Democrats are in it to win it come November. Over the weekend, the Dems marked the "100 days 'till the election" with a massive, nationwide canvassing and voter-registration drive. They called it the "Democratic Reunion." And I wan't there.

Don't get me wrong, the Democratic Reunion idea was fantastic!! I've been scouring the blogs for coverage and was not disappointed. The reception in NJ-3 was pretty good too. Unfortunately, I could not make it because I've been bed-rested (with my foot high in the air) for a whole week so the canvassing and door knocking bit is out of the question.

For those of you all who do not know, Last summer, I ruptured my achilles tendon. Since the surgery, there have been nothing but complications which I'll spare you here. One thing I will say is that the original incision to fix it has never healed. That's right: one year on, and I still have a wound that requires 2x daily dressing for the past year.

Two of the predicating factors to my injury are worth sharing as the election season heats up and the fight gets really intense: first of all, I was uninsured at the time of the injury. My treatment at Cooper Hospital was as a "Charity case" and the level of care was astonishingly poor. (the reason I know this is 'cuz I ruptured the other achilles in 2000 -- when i was insured to the max -- and was fixed up and bipedal again in no time. Fact is, this unfortunate coincidence allows me to judge first hand the differences of care I received in the two surgeries and subsequent follow up.)

Now if I could marry Greg -- my second point -- I would be on his insurance plan and this very well may have been a non issue. When the injury happened, Greg and I were in the process of getting domestic partner benefits through his work. He has a good gig downtown at Urban Outfitter's corporate headquarters where domestic partnership benefits are available, unfortunately (even in such progressive outfits like Greg's) gays are held to a different standard with regards to benefits and domestic partenrship, etc. There were 5 criteria we needed me meet to qualify and at this time of the Rupture, we had met 3. So we still had to make a "joint purchase of a major item" such as a house, a car, etc. The bar was set higher because I am not "married." I am not married because I can't.

So there I was, biding my time on the margins while getting my ducks in order. One bit of bad luck on the tennis court (and some lousy timing) quite literally turned my world upside down. I have been out of work for a year and this time underscores why I fight for what I fight for: marriage equality, insurance for all Americans. These things are not just abstract concepts we strive toward. they are real world issues facing millions of Americans, including this one.

All things considered, I am lucky. I have a stable relationship and a breadwinner. I also have access to a support network of friends and family, In short, I am a best case scenario for what happens when everything thatcould go wrong DOES.

Most others who are uninsured do not have these luxuries. WE FIGHT FOR PEOPLE ON THE MARGINS AND WE SHOULD BE VERY PROUD!

So when you're out there on a 100 degree day and slogging through the humidity to do something like knock on doors to fight for the Democrats, just remind yourself how much this all means. And then go fight some more.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

"He shoots you dead and he eats your head"

Image courtesy M e Cohen
While contemplating the Second Coming, recall Blondie's rendetion of "Rapture." Personally, this song takes me right back to my roller-rink days.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Free Drugs and everyone gets laid!

Howdy and happy Saturday. A lot going on around the blog-o-sphere and I want to share a sampling.....

Over at my other blog, BlueJersey, we have two of our US Congressmen from NJ sounding off about the failure of Bush's environmental AND energy policy. Chances are, your summer electricity bill has arleady clued you into this relaity. If not, go fill up your gas tank and recall the Clinton days when gas was around a dollar a gallon. Wasn't the Iraq war supposed to make gas cheaper?

Meanwhile the big oil companies are rolling in the juices of their own largesse with no discernable plan to develop alternative sources of energy that don't trash the environment. And yes, you read that right: I have US Congressmen guest-blogging on my other site. Maybe I am doing something right afterall?
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Pam at the Houseblend talks about why Lance Bass' coming out matters to the gay community. Personally, I am thrilled -- and just a little jealous of the happy couple's fame, riches and hotness. But mostly happy for them. Besides, Lance and I have something in common: a thing for German/Americans from Wisconsin- both our partners are named "Lehmkuhl."
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On a much heavier note, Media Matters asks "Are we living in the last days?" Aparently, all this madness going on in the Middle East is music to the ears of fundamentalists "Christians" who regard the conflict as the sign of a Second Coming. Be afraid, be very afraid.

While I'm on the topic of religious fanatics, Mark at Spittle&Ink asks what it would be like if the Ten Commandments were the law of the land. To which I reply, "If the the fundamentalists wanna live in a theocracy so goshdarn bad, GO LIVE IN IRAN!"
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Fifth Column blogger Schadenfreude quit smoking cigarettes about 209 days ago. No word yet if he's still smoking pot. But one thing is for sure, as a black man in America, he has enough to worry about without getting lung cancer. Still -- with the rapture coming and all -- he wonders, what am I saving myself from?
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Proof that the right-wing goofballs do not have a monopoly on religion, the former Arch-Bishop of the NJ Episcopal Church sends a message of hope to Gays and Lesbians in New Jersey. We should know any day now if gays can marry here in the Garden State. It nice to have the bishop on our side of this one.

I have to say, if the homo-bigots in Washington (you know, the ones who make Gay issues a "thing" every election day?) had any idea just how hurtful their mean-spirited politicking can be, I truly believe they'd stop doing it. In case you're wondering, I am gay and yes it hurts.
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Last but not least, Dan at Blinq explains why massaging the German Chancellor makes perfect sense. This was the funnies tidbit I saw all week, so go watch. Rinse, later, repeat.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I was a teenage ballkid

Back in highschool, I was a ballkid for the pro tennis tour stop in Washington D.C., near my childhood home. I got a chance to be on court with the brightest lights of the tennis constellation, including Hall of Famers Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles anong others.

I pretty much knew I was gay when I saw Chris Evert's panties, and it did nothing for me. But tennis skirts are very short. And when you're down on the court with the players, and they're bending and lunging, you can't help but get a panty shot or ten. I've seen some pretty famous panties.

The name of the tournament was Virginia Slims of Washington. Thinking back, the idea having a cigarette maker sponsoring sports seems crazy. But it was a lot less politically correct back then and frankly I never saw the irony. If you look at the picture of my credential, you can see the image of a lady holding a cigatette in one hand, a racket in the other.

The players did have a canned answer for the press if asked about the obvious contradiction between a smoker and a tennis champion. According to Martina's autobiography the players responded, "I don't smoke. But if I did, I'd smoke Virginia Slims."

Nowadays the tour's title sponsor is Sony, which doesn't have the same P.R. issues as a tobacco company.

Anyway, the tournament came around each February, and it was a huge thrill to take part. Growing up in a military community in Southern Maryland, I was starved for an urban fix, and hanging out in Washington (an hour away from where I lived) was fun and exhilirating. Anyone who remembers their first time in the big city, knows what I'm talking about.

As I write this, the memories are flooding back, but one stands out.

One year, a player named Natalia Zvereva asked if I knew how to find Tower Records, which was a few blocks from the event. I ended up walking over her over, and we chit chatted along the way. I don't speak Russian, and her English was dodgy at the time.

When we got to the record store, she thanked me and I wished her luck in her next match, at which point we went our separate ways. Needless to say I was buzzing.

I went over to the "listening station" to check out the (latest) 1980's hits and was jamming out, when all the sudden someone tapped me on my soldier.

I turned took off my headphones and turned around to find two burley, mustaschioed men wearing black overcoast and dour expressions. They looked really out of place. And really pissed.

"What did she say to you?" one demanded in a Russian accent, clearly refering to my chat and walk with Ms. Zvereva. Keep in mind this was the 1980's and the Cold War was still in full swing. Natalia was from the USSR, and the guys accosting me were her "minders." I was convinced they were KGB agents.

I was still young and fearless at this point, and I simply told them "she asked for directions" and went back to listening to my Depeche Mode, and that was that. Thinking back, it seems a little creepy. Fact is, the tournament I was ballboy'ing was at George Washington University, just a few blocks from the Soviet Embassy. There were agents and spies trolling all over in that neighborhood.

Such was the life of a teenaged ballboy: fun, rich glamourous people, geopolitical intrigue, free Reebok from head to toe, a week off from school, a chance to flirt with cute GWU guys, I could go on and on!

Anyway, thanks to Mom for sending me the badge from the 1990 tournament which got me thinking back. She found the badge while cleaning out her attic.

For more about Natalia Zvereva and her dramatic struggle with Soviet system, check out this article.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hip Hop Diplomacy replaces Cowboy Diplomany....

...but British Prime Minister Tony Blair remains very much a lapdog.
Image Courtesy of Jersey's own M.e. Cohen

Lassiter Space gets lastest scoop from NJ Senate Showdown

Menendez Social Security Press ConferenceFor those of you who thought George W. Bush's plan to privative Social Security was a thing of the past, THINK AGAIN.

In today's press conference at the Trenton Statehouse, Senator Robert Menendez issued a clear warning: inspite of the beatdown the President took on Social Security last year, Bush plans to reintroduce his privatization scheme right after the November election.


Last month (Whitehouse chief of staff Bolton) said the President intends to again put privatization front and center on the agenda when a new Congress convenes next year. The sad reality is that Social Security is still under siege. George Bush is trying to privatize it and Tom Kean Jr. wants to go to Washington to help him finish the job. And I'm not gonna let him."

Sen. Lautenberg was also on hand, as were Congressmen Andrews, Pallone, Pascrell, Payne and Rothman.


We shouldn't be risking people's money when, for many, Social Security is their primary source of independence. Since 2000, the stock market is down 4%. It's too much of a gamble.

Then he quipped that the press conference should have been in Atlantic City since the Bush/Kean plan is like "rolling the dice."

So the idea of tying up Social Security into the stock market seems like a curious plan. Who would stand to gain the most? Wallstreet perhaps?

Rep. Pallone was up next and pointed out that,

For the year or two of that debate (to defeat Bush's plan) Bob Menendez was the chairman of our democratic caucus. He organized the democrats in the House to try to stop the President's plan. It was Bob who took the lead and we succeeded in killing the Bush plan under Bob's leadership.

Pallone also suggested that "Social Security, in my opinion, should be the center point in this campaign as it illuminated the stark differences between Menendez -- who stands up for the little guy -- and Kean, who stands up for Wall Street."

Up next, Rep. Payne also thanked Menendez for his leadership on this issue in the House Caucus. Payne wondered whether, after working all your life, would you want a "defined benefit or a risky scheme?"


The Republicans march in lock step with the President no matter how harmful his policies are to constituents. The American people spoke loud and clear about their opposition to privatizing Social Security, so why would the the President bring this issue up again?

Payne, who's the only black person on the NJ delegation, also pointed out that privatization would be especially hard on women and minorities "because of the disparities in their annual earnings compared to other workers."

Rep. Andrews reminds us all that Junior has had many opportunities to express opposition to the Bush plan to privatize and so far refused to do so.

Said Andrews, "Social Security will be on the ballot in November and it will be on the Senate floor next year."

Rep. Pascrell questions the money we'd need to borrow to finance privatization reminding us "it'll add 3/4 trillion to the debt in this country."

Wow, that's more expensive than Iraq.

As if the debt weren't high enough already. Oy.

Pascrell also mentioned that if Medicaid Plan D (which enriches the biggie pharmaceuticals) is any indication, then we need to fight privatization of Social Security, which would benefit Wall Street.

Last (but not least) Rep. Rothmann reminds us that "the people have spoken," and they reject Bush's plan because it puts "ideology over the best interest of our seniors."

Amen to that.

Afterwards Senator Menendez opened up the floor to reporters, and bloggers alike.

Eugene Sonn, who covers the NJ beat for Philly NPR, pressed the Senator for the Democratic alternative to Bush's plan reminding us all that demographic realities will require a solution at some point.

True enough. And when the time comes to make the solutions happen, I want there to be a Democratic majority in Congress. As Menendez pointed out in his reply, a solution to fix Social Security starts with resisting the President's plan.

Fact is, I'm not super-rich enough to benefit from the Bush policies. As a member of the middle class, I trust Menendez and the Democrats will do everything possible to help me from falling into abject poverty in my old age.

Such is the nature of this fight.

Now I hate to say it, but one of the day's best lines had nothing to do with Social Security.

When asked whether Zulima Farber should be fired, Menendez said that an investigation is pending and that such a call is Gov. Corzine's to make.

"She worked with her heart," Menendez replied, "and not her head."

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Nickle for your thoughts?

Look out, Abe Lincoln. The campaign against the penny, the copper coated coin stamped with the face of the former president, gathered momentum this week with the introduction of legislation to pull it from circulation.
Aparently the penny is not worth the copper-covered zinc it's molded from. According to the Treasury department, each penny costs about 1.4 cents to make.

Rep. Jim Kolbe (Republican, Arizona) introduced a bill this passed week that would phase out the coin by rounding all transactions up or down to the nearest nickel, or 5 cents.

If Kolbe's bill was passed, it would increase the need for nickels -- and that's what Kolbe is really after, contends Americans for Common Cents, a coalition opposing the bill.

Arizona leads the country in copper production, which has a $3.3 billion direct and indirect impact on Arizona's economy, according to the state Department of Mines and Mineral Resources. And the nickel -- despite its name -- is composed mostly of copper, with a nickle coating.

Penny coincidence? I wonder.

I used to tell store clerks to "keep the pennies" or I'd toss them away. Now I am at that point in my life where hoarding all my money will mean the difference between me retiring in 30+ years (when I'm 65) or much much sooner. I have a huge bin in a closet where I collect all my one-cent coins. When the bin is full, I schlep it to the bank and deposit it into my savings account. The last time I cashed in my pennies, it was $300 worth which was enough to open a CD. Go figure. Since it takes about 9 months to get to the top of the bin, I could save up to $8,ooo (plus interest) over the next twenty years. I am too greedy to not appreciate the purchacing power of the penny nowadays.

But don't take my word for it.

San Francisco's AIDS Emergency Fund (AEF) makes good use of pennies to save lives.

According to their website, their mission provides short-term emergency financial assistance to San Franciscans battling HIV/AIDS. Since 1982, AEF has rallied community support to help pay basic living costs such as rent, utility bills and medical expenses for poverty-level San Franciscans with disabling HIV or AIDS. Annually, AEF helps nearly 2,500 clients avoid eviction or utility shut-off, improve the quality of their lives and maintain stable housing.

Over the past twenty-four years the bulk of the AEF's $20M budget came from two sources: pennies collecteted by Bay Area students' "Every Penny Counts" campaign, and also from penny jars left all over San Francisco at stores, cafes, bars, etc. Over the past quarter centure the AIDS Emergency Fund "penny jars" have become a permanent feature in the Bay Area.
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So, what's your take on this penny debate? (Now that I think about it, that would be a cute drag name: "Penny DeBate," don't you think?)

While there is still time.... a penny for your thoughts.

While you're at it, take a minute and listen to Lionel Richie -- the original penny lover -- singing his tribute to the one-cent coin.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

New Jersey one step closer to death penalty ban

Yesterday, New Jersey's Death Penalty Study Commission took testimony both for and against executions. Its report (with suggestions for the legislature) is due in November. At that point, the state legislature will vote to abolish capital punishment in New Jersey.

I'd like to see the death penalty abolished here in my state. So yeah, I'm totally biased. After interviewing Kirk Bloodsworth (who's the first American ever exonerated from death row with DNA evidence) I had no doubt whatsoever that the death penalty was both morally disgusting and ridiculous public policy. Let's hope enough of our legislators feel the same way to ban the death penalty in New Jersey.

Taking time out of her busy schedule prosecuting crime (and bailing her boyfriend out of trouble) was Attorney General Zulima Farber, who joined a host of others on the panel which also included (among others) NJADP chief Celeste Fitzgerald, and former state Sen. John Russo, who introduced the bill in 1982 to allow executions in this state.

Russo (click pic to enlarge) got an earful from the first witness, Bishop John M. Smith, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton. Russo wondered if supporting the death penalty makes him a "bad Catholic."

"No," the Bishop shot back, "Just out of touch!"

The Bishop continued, "We vigorously oppose the death penalty which is inconsistant with the standards of human decency."

Amen to that.

(As a Catholic myself, I am glad to see the Church on my side on this issue. Now if only I could get the Vatican to accept that I will not burn in hell because I'm gay. But that's another story....)

The second witness was Sharon Hazard-Johnson, who came to support the death penalty after her perents were savagely and methodically killed in their home. Mrs. Hazard-Johnson thinks her parents' killer should be executed. As emotional and painful as it was to hear her story, I believe her testimony was uncompelling simply because it was so emotional. If you take the emotions and grief you're left with little in her statement. No disrespect to Sharon Hazard-Johnson, but cooler heads must prevail on this on. Lives are at stake.

Also on the witness list was lawyer Barry Scheck (pic), codirector of the Innocents Project in New York, who said the state's law allowing execution was adopted during the "dark ages."

"It was a different era then," Schreck said while gazing over at Sen. Russo, "We are now in the DNA era."

Shreck (who you might remember from his testimony at the OJ trial) cited 182 post-conviction exonerations based on DNA testing as proof positive that mistakes can happen and do happen .
click pic to enlarge. That's Kirk Bloodsworth on the right with his wife. Take a look at Mrs. Bloodsworth's grief-stricken face and remind yourself that mistakes have happened. Another former death row inmate (whose name i forget) sits at right.

Israel reaps what Israel sews!

Image courtesy Stephane Peray

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

From Israel with Love

Isn't it about time we start to ask ourselves if the Israelis are really the sympathetic character of the mid-east conflict? The US Government is quick to blame any- and everyone under the sun, Syria, Lebanon, Hezbollah, Iraq, etc. And yet it's still taboo to question Israel and the Zionist war machine. Better to keep quite than to be accused of anti-Semitism.

Take a look at these pictures of young Israeli children signing their names on bombs bound for Lebanon!!

James at Genius of Insanity points out the obvious:
Look at the glee on the faces of these girls. What kind of message does this reinforce in these children?? Hate, that's what. Allowing children to sign messages of hate on bombs meant for Lebanon is actively watering the seed of hate in the next generation. Surely these young children were encouraged to sign these bombs and that is disgusting. How did these children find their way into the zone of the military? It appears that they were purposefully brought in for the signing. And if they DID come on their own (possibly by their parents) why were they not turned away?? Especially since military installations are dangerous places during a time of war!!! Such lack of concern for their lives and fragile, impressionable minds!!! Children learn hate from adults.
Kvatch at Blognonomous asks another obvious question:
One wonders if these girls know that these bombs may kill little Christian girls, little Muslim girls, in short little girls just like them?
And then, a bit more sarcastically asks,
"If you don't die, how about a play date?"
This is way too gruesome to contemplate for very long, but it's worth a minute or two of consideration.

Why I support stem-cell research

George W Bush is set to veto a bill passed by Senators which would increase funding of embryonic stem cell research. In fact, this will be the first time Bush has used his veto pen.

Hard to believe that for all the lousy bills that Congress has sent the president's way, he never saw fit to veto anything until now. Bush has his reasons, of course. However, like most of the President's choices, this one is seeped in judgment and bad science.

Bush claims that stem cell research is immoral and that it undermines the sanctity of human life. Hey, doesn't letting people die of diseases like diabetes and Parkinson's compromise on the value of human life? What am I missing here?

Stem cell research would have benefits to most families, including my own. My little brother Adam was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes (the bad kind) when he was six years old. Fastforward twenty years, and he's still taking insulin to manage his chronic illness. When I look at this picture (click to enlarge) of me and my brother (in blue) playing with his young son, Chase I am reminded why I feel so strongly in the promise of stem cell research.

Adam has fought gamely against diabetes pretty much his entire life. The idea of the illness taking it's long term toll on my brother is heartbreaking. No matter how well the disease is managed, many long-term diabetics face complications including blindness, organ failure, loss of limb, etc. Adam is only 28. The next twenty or thirty years could bring some relief to my brother, if not a cure. The idea of the president's political cowardice standing in the way of a cure for diabetes is sickening to me.

If George W. Bush had any real interest in preserving the sanctity of human life he might try ending executions in this country. Or stop sending Americans to die in Iraq. Or curb the numbers of Americans with no health insurance.

This issue is a political one. And until our politicians get their heads out of their asses, people like my brother will wait and suffer.

I am so mad right now I can't even see straight.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

WTF is wrong with him?

(Pam from the Houseblend reports)--

I really don't understand what is going on in Dear Leader's mind. It's an endless stream of inappropriate behaviors by a head of state. Here he is "joking" with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel by either grabbing her on the shoulders to startle her, or as John says, to give her an uninvited neck massage.

There's video as well.

Either way this is BS. I'm sorry, but if Bill Clinton was up there behaving this way, you can only imagine what would be said...


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
* A touch of class part 73

* We can't send him abroad

* Bush's dome-rubbing fetish

* Bush using a woman's shirt to wipe his glasses (video)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The birds the bees and all that good stuff.....

It's been a terrible week for the economy, although George Bush would have you believe otherwise. Consider this: on Janaury 21, 2001 the Dow Jones Industrial Average opened at 10,732.46 Later that day, George Bush was sworn in as President. As I write this, the market is at 10,721.82. Well done, Mr. CEO President. My IRA and 401(k) thank you. So does my gas tank. And my saving account. And my lack of health insurance. Oy, I could go on and on and on.

So, how's your economy going?
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Pam at the House Blend has an interesting piece about San Fransisco mayor (and mega-hottie) Gavin Newsom. Gavin is a big reason that the republicans want San Fransisco to fall into the Pacific. I, on the other hand am proud that folks like him are in positions of power.
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On a totally scandalous and thoroughly dramatic front, my new friend Julie's blog has a story about reconnecting with the father she never know she had. Actually it's more of an operetta. In three acts. Miss Julie's story has everything in the book: drama, comedy, tragedy, mystery, 1980's hair, and finally redemption. Go ahead and check it out and laugh at Julie's retro fashions and remember some of your own 80's styling choices. (part 2 and part 3)
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Finally, Dan over at Blinq blog offers up this gem on the infamous World Cup headbutt. If you're unsatisfied with the explanations from the players themselves, check out Dan's list of alternative explanations and conspiracy theories, complete with a Lego recreation of the incident. (P.S. Dan if you're reading this, I wonder who do I have to sleep with to get on your blogroll?)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A nation at War...

...a American public that's too busy eating pork rinds to give a hoot. (click to enlarge)

No wonder the United States is going to hell in a handbasket.

Clearly we don't need the liberals and the homos to ruin America. The beer-bellied redneck set seems to be doing just fine as it is.
(image courtesy of Horsey)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Between the Fuehrer and the Berlin Wall

My mom cleaned out her attic last week and came across some slides taken in Europe in the late 1950's while my grandfather was stationed at Rhein-Main Airforce base.

The pictures showed this era as a fascinating time to be in Europe (especially Germany) so soon after WWII. To me, the coolest shots were the photos from a trip they took to Berlin in 1960. Keep in mind, the Cold War was just heating up (no pun intended) and Berlin was right at the heart of the geopolitical tensions of the times.

When I first came across this photo of my Mamaw and Pop in front of the Brandenburg Gate (click to enlarge) my jaw hit the floor. This photo was snapped about a year before the infamous Berlin Wall went up and snuffed out most contact between the two Germanies. That's why this shot is so fascinating for me. Before the Wall, there was a sign! That kinda blows me away.

The Brandenburg Gate was later the site of a massive protest the day beofore the Iraq war began. I was in Berlin that week and the demonstration was powerful and impressive......Too bad it didn't work!!

Anyway, that trip (2002) was the last time I was in Berlin and still single. Of course the wall had long since fallen by that point and Berlin didn't look like a bombed out moon base like it did in 1960!
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You might also notice in the pics that my grandparents were dressed to the nines. In fact, in all of the shots, they were fancied up: suits, dresses, hats, gloves, etc. Even the kids.

In the second pic (click to enlarge) my grandmother is strolling past the rubble of the Kaiser Wilhelm Church. As you can see, the Allies banged it up pretty bad!! The church still stands as a memorial of war, looking much the same today as it did then. In the bottom picture (of a modern Berlin) you see the church next to a renovated hexagonal belltower.

The Kaiser Wilhelm church is a provocative monument to war in the heart of a reunified metropolis. And the park nearby is a great place to smoke a joint, or so I hear.

Do you have a city that you love as much as I love Berlin? Tell me about it!

Black is beautiful, African American is not!

I have a problem with the term "African American." In fact, i hate using it to describe folks of African descent and am much more comfortable referring to them as black people. Most of my black friends agree.

Says Pam, "I don't use African-American unless quoting someone else. You're correct that this is some sort of politically correct moniker."

While chatting with Pam I suggested that "African American" is an expression used by white people to make themselves feel/look more culturally sensitive. Further, I hardly ever hear blacks refer to themselves as "African American." Frankly, blacks never really embraced the expression.

They're no more comfortable with "African American" than I would be with "European American." Not only does the term itself sound clunky, it's just bizarre making a reference to the continent of my ancestor's birth to describe myself. This is not to suggest I'm not proud of my Irish heartige, quite the contrary. But for others to characterize me in ways (and with words) I would never use to describe myself makes me wonder how black feel about being referred to as "African American" by white people. And the feedback I got indicated they are not offended with the term "black."

Besides, the moniker is totally illogical, as Miss Pam points out, "It makes no sense - white Charlize Theron, born in South Africa, should, based on that definition, be African American. It's so stupid." I agree.

Where do you fall on this one?

(Click pic of African-born Oscar winner Charlize Theron with former South African President Nelson Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg)

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Head-butt heard 'round the World

If you ask me, the infamous headbutt in the World Cup finale was the highlight (or lowlight) of the tournament. First of all, I'm American, so soccer puts me right to sleep. Secondly, the incident was the height of melodrama. What's not to like about that? In this video, it looks like the Italian player tweaked the French guy's nipple before getting the smackdown.

The French media is also reporting that Marco Materazzi called Zinedine Zidane a "dirty terrorist" prior to the Frenchman's red card in Sunday's World Cup final, while Materazzi has denied the accusation. I like the tweaked nipple theory better. Watch and judge for yourself.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bits and pieces 'round the Blog-o-sphere

The lesbians rule Wimbledon (again) and this year's champ is Amelie Mauresmo of France. We'll see if Madameoiselle Mauresmo inspired her countrymen to win soccer's Wold Cup finale later today. Who are you picking to win? France or Italy?
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A lot of going on over at my other blog, BlueJersey. Check out this op-ed piece (written by the head of NJ's ACLU) about the abuse of power and warrentless spying by the Whitehouse. While you're over at BlueJersey check out our intrepid reporting on the NJ budget madness and its consequences.
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Speaking of consequences, XpatriatedTexan takes a peek into Bush's "stay the course" drivel. Remember ladies and gents, our president was too chickenshit to got to war himself, but has no problem sending your sons and daughters to fight and die.
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Are you a Dave Chappelle fan? My boy Bacon went to his live show the other night and was underwhelmed. Why's that Bacon? Do miss the days when before Dave Chappelle became DAVE CHAPPELLE? Back then, he was a rising comic genius. Now, he’s the embittered megastar misanthrope — out of touch, with no sense of perspective? Well tell me about it, BITCH!!!!
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Finally, Mary Scott at My Left Wing warns us that something smells rotten in blogland. Blogging is such a new medium but is quickly emerging as a powerful political force. So suddenly there's clout within the blog-o-sphere. And with clout comes accountability. Mary Scott's advise: You want accountability? Don't engage in unaccountable activities. Duh.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Local Airman Carl Ware laid to rest amid suspicions of foul play in Iraq

As Glassboro Airman Carl Ware Jr. was laid to rest yesterday, questions began swiriling about the exact nature of his death.

Airman Ware's parents have suggested the shot to the chest that killed their son in Iraq wasn't fired by the enemy, rather by someone on his base, possibly a fellow soldier or security contractor.

Military officers in Hawaii (were Airman Ware was stationed) told the family they were investigating the shooting to try to determine if it was accidental or deliberate.

Air Force Times:

Officials at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu did not confirm or deny the family’s account other than to say his death did not happen in combat, and that it was being investigated.

Calls by Blue Jersey to the 15th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office at Hickman were pretty much fruitless.

When asked "Do you have anything to tell me beyond what what stated in the Department of Defense's original press release" they were unwilling to divulge any substantiative details regarding the death of NJ's 44th casualty of the Iraq conflict.

According to a military spokesman at Hickman AFB, the DOD has thirty days to conduct an investigation into Airman Ware's death. At that point it's the Pentagon's prerogative to rule that the investigation is simply "Inconclusive."

In other words his family may never know what really happened in Airman Ware's final moments.

How did Airman Ware die?

Why did Airman Ware die?

Did Airman Ware have to die?

Will we ever know?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

No More King George....

Schoolhouse Rocks still rocks!

If you're too young to remember this, then watch, learn, and enjoy the irony. If this dates back to your childhood then it should require no introduction.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

My Neighbor dies in Iraq

A Glassboro family is mourning Airman 1st Class Carl Ware Jr., whose death in Iraq marks the 44th casualty for New Jersey. Airman Ware was only 22. Courier Post:
Ware, who went to Iraq just over a month ago, helped provide security at Camp Bucca, a prison facility in southern Iraq.

The details on the tragedy are thin at this point. Aparently, this was a non-combat related incident. Carl Ware's body should arrive at McGuire Airforce Base in Burlington County later today.

His daughter Caitlyn (see pic) turns one later this month.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Korea to field joint Olympic squad?

The two feuding Koreas are in negotiations to field a joint team at the upcoming Bejing Olympic games. At the Athens 'o4 Games, the two Korean teams marched together in the opening ceremony (click pic to enlarge) but fielded different squads for the actual competition. The idea is a long time coming. Sports Illustrated:
Still technically at war after the 1950-53 war ended with no peace treaty, the two Koreas first considered competing as a joint team at the 1964 Tokyo Games, but years of acrimony and military tensions meant it remained just an idea.
The talks aren't going well and it has nothing to do with the recent chatter of a North Korean missile test. The sticking point is actually over team selection. Korea Times:
A key question for the talks will be whether the joint team will seek a fair balance of athletes from the North and South or put together the most competitive team possible. At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, South Korea won 30 medals, including nine golds, while North Korea tallied five with no golds. If slots for athletes are allocated on a quota system by country, the unified team would likely be less competitive and create bitterness among top athletes left out of the squad.
The International Olympic Committee is leaning hard on both sides to field a joint squad, which is a good sign. If you think the IOC doesn't wield a shitload of foreign policy clout consider South Africa was barred from taking part in the '64 Olympics in Tokyo over its refusal to condemn apartheid. The ban was lifted in 1992, by which point South Africa had a black president.

So when IOC president Jacques Rogge says it an imperative that the two sides hammer out a deal, i am encouraged... ..especially since the next Games are in China, one of the few countries w ith meaty diplomatic ties to both Koreas. In any event, at least this is a welcome distraction from the usual bullshit I read about Korea all the time.

I love the Olympics, I love geopolitics, and mostly I love having something to write about besides our lousy president!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Wake and Bake

I made this!! From scratch! I am so excited!!
(can you tell by all those exclamation points?)

I am getting ready to cut it up but it's so cute and perfect that I wanted to archive it for the archaeological record. (click pic to behold cherry pie perfection!)

If you have some baking tips you wanna share, feel free!

Nadia's first perfect 10

Hard to believe that Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci scored the first perfect "10" in gymnastics history nearly thirty years ago! I was too young to watch those Olympics in Montreal in 1976. But as a fan and historian of the Olympic movement, I am a huge Nadia fan.

Wanna check out the first perfect "10" in Olympic history?
Just to put this Olympic moment into some perspective, consider that when the judges posted Nadia's mark, the scoreboard read "1.oo." Aparently, the highest number the scoreboard would register was "9.95."

Of course, the crowd wasn't fooled. They saw the mark and immediately knew they had just witnessed Olympic history. (Click on pic to enlarge)

Sick of Israel/Palestine

I woke up to news of the Isaeli military going throught Gaza with a fine-tooth comb. Their mission was to rescue a Jewish soldier who was kidnapped by Palestinians.

It makes me wonder where the mighty (American-funded) Zionist war machine is when we need them. (Of couse, just floating this question is totally taboo..... Questioning Israel is tanamount to anti-Semitism in this country. But that's a blog for another day........)

Of course the battle between both sides--Israel and Palestine--has been going on my whole life. Frankly, I am sick of hearing about it!! Any ongoing narrative that lasts this long is gonna lose its novelty, right? Well, not this one. For some reason, the antagonists in this drama manage to keep it fresh and ripe for American media consumption. ENOUGH ALREADY!!!

Both sides claim to want peace, but neither deserve it. If you can make an argument to the contrary, then please do so in the comment section.

It's worth noting the growing number of hard-core evangelical Christians in the US who see the crisis in Israel/Palestine as the beginning of the end. They're hoping that all hell breaks out which--in their opinion--would lead to the second coming of Christ. Basically, they're hedging their bets that Armageddon is on the way and that the Israeil/Palestine conflict is a part of journey to the so-called "Second Coming."

I believe if the end of the world is close, we have the religious fundamentalists of all flavors (Arab, Jew, evangelical) to thank for it. If you ask me, they're all a bunch of assholes.