Tuesday, October 23, 2007
First the good:
I started this blog as a way to connect with others I could talk to, when only one other person knew (for sure) that I am gay. In less than a year, I have come out to many more people, including close friends, than I ever expected to. I am well on my way to coming out to my parents, though I haven't done it yet. I'm still a lot closer than I ever thought I would be right now.
I am no longer going to find a sham wife. I am going to live my life my way. This has been a marvelous 8 months for coming to terms with my sexuality. The boy and I still talk frequently (almost daily), and I think we'd be dating if we weren't so far apart (I don't know how to define long-distance relationships, so I don't try). I don't really think I need the blog therapy anymore. I can actually talk to real people I know in person and trust implicitly whenever I have concerns or doubts.
Now the bad:
The other part of this blog was for me to opine about policy issues, but the news has become consumed with the presidential election, which I find depressing anyway. I've had a harder and harder time finding things that actually electrify me, and my policy posts have decreased significantly in quantity and quality.
I'm just going through the motions here. I haven't changed my ideas, values or principles; however, one can only say "low taxes, low spending, free markets, individual liberty" so many times before it becomes rote. Additionally, my readership has peaked and declined. I just don't think I am contributing much anymore. Posting has become almost a chore.
I have decided that I won't delete the blog, even though I may not be adding to it. So feel free to read the archives, and visit the links.
I just want to focus on enjoying my third year, graduating, studying for the bar, and starting my job. Beyond that, my future is bright.
I'd like to date, find a partner, adopt a child, and have a family.
I'd like to work for twenty-five years, live comfortably but below my means, build a considerable nest egg, and retire from the law to run for public office (as a Republican in a party that is no longer defined by homophobia).
I'd like to retire from public office after making a real contribution to my community and/or country, and spend the rest of my life in relative comfort surrounded by close friends and loved ones.
Once again, thanks for all your help and support. It has been great for me, and I am a richer, more confident person because of it.
Monday, October 22, 2007
My fewer posts bring fewer readers. I notice that I write for readers instead of for myself anymore. Positively, I am getting more and more comfortable being gay, even if I'm still not out to my family. As important as it has been, I am not sure that I need my online support now that I have the real life support of several close friends.
It may be time to hang up the hat. The cathartic benefits of blogging may have run its course. I hate to say it, but I might be done here.
Maybe one day I write a book instead. Less pressure that way.
You have all meant a lot to me.
If my glass of ice water is full, and I let the ice melt, it doesn't over flow. This is because liquid water is more dense than ice. When water freezes it expands, so as ice melts it essentially contracts and takes up less volume. How would the melting of the polar ice caps and ice bergs raise sea levels?
I'm not a scientist, so I guess I'm missing something.
Maybe if all the polar bears drown it would raise sea levels a bit...
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Interesting, I'm not sure what it has to do with anything, but interesting nonetheless.
A few questions. Why is it necessary to sexualize Dumbledore when it didn't come up in the seven books? Is making him gay just something trendy to do?
Sometimes I am a little put off by the current fashion of including a stock gay character for whom sexuality just comes up constantly. I realize that people focus on the sexuality of gay people naturally because it's what makes us different, but there's more to me than my bedroom activities. I guess I just don't want to be seen merely as "the gay guy." However, the more people define characters by their sexuality the more I worry that people will define me that way without getting to know me.
On the other hand, it is nice to see gay characters because perhaps it helps normalizes homosexuality. Maybe I'm just too sensitive. Damned if they do and damned if they don't.
I realize that it is probably better to have Dumbledore be a beloved and important character. Let him have his role in the story independent of of his sexuality, and then reveal casually that he is gay.
Nonetheless, the reaction to the revelation (both positive and negative) just worries me that Dumbledore will go from being a great wizard character to a great gay wizard character. His sexuality will be inextricably tied to his identity and take on an importance not really warranted by his role in the Harry Potter stories.
If we could look at him as a great wizard character (who happens to be gay), it would be fine. I suppose what really bothers me is that we can't. I'm not mad at JK Rowling for outing him, I'm mad that we care so much that she did. Me included.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
Consider a Washington Metro trip from Vienna/Fairfax to Farragut West during rush hour. The cost is $2.35 (or less if you buy weekly passes and even just use them for commuting on weekdays), and it takes about half an hour. During that half hour you leisurely listen to your iPod, read a newspaper, and the only real inconvenience of the experience is the crowding.
Now consider driving into DC from Fairfax the time is already into the hours. Parking is going to be a minimum of $10, and that doesn't include the costs of gas, wear and tear on your auto, or the disutility of the maddening fury that dealing with DC traffic causes.
So as a consumer the choice is clear. But I wonder, is it efficient?
A rail system undoubtedly requires an immense capital outlay as well as significant maintenance expenditures, and with fares like these, when do they recoup the investment? Washington DC doesn't seem to. Although rail ridership in Fiscal Year 2007 was almost 208 million, fares and other revenue (like advertising) provide only about 60% of the Metro's funding. In addition to fares and advertising revenues, the system receives money from each jurisdiction is serves [source (PDF)].
State and local taxpayers are funding a significant portion of the Washington Metro system. The Metro essentially operates at a loss (typical public program), which is disconcerting. It doesn't have to. The fare prices are extremely low compared to the cost of driving into and throughout DC. They could be doubled and it would still make rational sense to use the metro. Even if fare prices start to exceed the cost of commuting, the extra traffic into the city is going to raise parking prices and increase the psychological cost of driving (more commuters = more frustration). So before long, the metro would still be the more economical choice.
Perhaps, you think of the positive externalities, most significantly the reduction of the environmental impact of the daily commute into our nation's capitol. One can make an argument that the because of the tragedy of the commons and the public good problem of the environment, environmentally friendly enterprises such as mass transit should be subsidized. I don't quite buy it because as I pointed out above, there isn't really a market failure here: the market isn't for the environmental benefits, but for the transportation space. Transportation space is not a public good: it both is rivalrous and excludable, and a mass transit system can be operated for a profit. The positive externality of reducing emissions per commuter is just that: external to the market considerations at work here. It's gravy.
It doesn't make sense that public transit should be public in that it is owned and operated by the government. If it is operated at a loss, it is inefficient and then it is subsidized by taxpayers who may or may not use it. Further, in most cases could be operated at a profit. If it is operated at a profit then the private sector is better suited to own and operate it. Why should the government get profits in addition to the taxes they steal from us?
Sunday, October 14, 2007
It was a rather leisurely weekend of eating, drinking and other things [[ ;-) ]]. Neither of us are terribly outdoorsey, so we didn't go up for the hiking or anything else, just for a change of scenery and the chance to be alone.
Chris is terribly generous, and I may have actually paid less than my fair share (while I don't really like the idea of taking advantage of someone, it's nice not to be taken advantage of!). Nonetheless, the things I did pay for, I typically had to convince him to let me.
I'm finding myself growing fonder and fonder of Chris, and I am sad to leave him. I wouldn't say we are dating dating, but I would definitely consider it. And it's not because he pays for things. Well, not just because of that :)
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Although she seems primarily to be making a point about the second amendment, there are some legitimate concerns with being unarmed:
"Our safety plan at our school now is that if somebody threatening comes in, you try to avoid eye contact, and do whatever they say, and that is not acceptable anymore," [Katz] said. Shootings at Virginia Tech University and the one-room Amish school in Pennsylvania, "reinforced my belief we have to take action, we can't just acquiesce as we have been taught to do."Ms. Katz has a concealed weapons permit, which requires a certified gun safety course, and she practices regularly. The school board is, naturally, against this (why am I reminded of Dolores Umbridge?). According to a CNN broadcast, the Superintendent noted that guns are banned in "courthouses, private work places, airplanes, and sports arenas, so why should schools have a lower standard of safety?"
The argument is asinine, not least of all because two of those areas are readily distinguishable. First, private citizens may not be allowed to bring guns into courthouses, but courthouses are crawling with police officers or U.S. Marshals who have very visible guns. Second, firing a gun in a pressurized cabin poses risks far beyond just being caught in the line of fire (although following Sept 11 and even today I think that pilots should be trained in firearm safety and be allowed to carry a gun).
As for the rest of the Superintendent's argument: allowing teachers (properly permitted) to carry handguns in school will make students safer! Gang members and psychos don't heed the prohibition against guns, and that just leaves the law abiding population unprotected. It is more than reckless to put our heads in the sand against the dangers posed to children rather than trying to protect them. Why aren't we affording a higher level of safety to our children than we do to sports fans or private office workers?
This isn't the first time:
The president faced a similar outburst during a speech last December when students at Amir Kabir Technical University called him a dictator and burned his picture.These are good signs.
Since it relates somewhat and I watched the movie last weekend, here's a clip:
Monday, October 8, 2007
I considered titling this post "My Results are Positive," and then saying I am HIV negative. I am classy enough not to do that, but boorish enough to tell you about it anyway.
Not that I was really, really worried, but still it's nice to know for sure.
If I haven't heard by noon, I am going to call them.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
It took me forever to figure out who he is until Wikipedia came to the rescue: he was Adrian, Eva Moore's adopted son during the Second Season of Nip/Tuck (new season start in just a a few weeks!). Below is a picture of what he looked like on that show.
Seth's character on Nip/Tuck was delightfully wicked. Apart from being a sociopath, drug dealer, and emotionally abusive, he tried on several occasions to seduce Matt McNamara (who was sleeping with the woman Adrian though was his mother). Oh, and Adrian was also sleeping with the woman he thought was his mother (but Eva was a transsexual, and not actually a blood relative of Adrian's. Apart from the sometimes unnecessary (though no less enjoyable) ass shots (Seth has a couple!), can there be any question why I love this show?
Anyway, I'm over Zac now (we broke up since neither of us are really out yet). Seth is on my list instead. I'll be watching him on Wednesday nights on ABC (Project Runway will have to be Tivo-ed).
PS, I am writing this post in class, so I can post no shirtless pictures. Sorry :(
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
And while the cost of the war is considerable and causes me great worry (not least of all because of the proposal to impose a War Surtax), but there is an even bigger monkey on our fiscal backs: The elderly.
Robert J. Samuelson in the Washington Post today notes that
From 2000 to 2030, the 65-and-over population will roughly double, from 35 million to 72 million, or from about 12 percent of the population to nearly 20 percent. Spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- three big programs that serve the elderly -- already represents more than 40 percent of the federal budget. In 2006, these three programs cost $1.1 trillion, more than twice defense spending. Left on automatic pilot, these programs are plausibly projected to grow to about 75 percent of the present budget by 2030. [emphasis added]So forget about the paltry War on Terror, our War on Death is costing us more than twice as much, and it is exepected only to get more expensive. Add to that the drive for Universal Health Care, and we can expect those elderly to live even longer. Once the Death tax comes back, these longer living seniors are going to use up their estates instead of leave it to us younger, better looking descendants. The picture is dire indeed.
Analogizing from our dear Speaker's remarks regarding the war on terror, we have only three choices to avoid these staggering deficits:
- Institute a draft. It is politically inviable to force people to be nursing home attendants. I have always opposed this measure
- Tax our people to support this program, so the true cost hits home. I always and with all my might oppose any tax increases whatsoever
- End our engagement with the War on Death because it is too costly.
Oh you aren't willing to do that to save on our deficit problems? Then please don't use the rhetoric of the fiscal conservative as a rationale to end the war.
*Please note: my actual suggestions for Social Security are not so draconian as those above, but I suggest them to make a point.
Note further: I do actually see the distinction between funding a campaign that creates death and has little to do with national interests anymore and a program that purportedly enhances the quality of life of certain citizens of this country. But you will forgive me if I am a little resentful at the prospect spending most of my working career funding the retirement of a generation that perfected the art of living beyond their means. I'll gladly stop whining once I am allowed opt out, which I promptly will.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
It might be nice to clear them out of the Party, but they will vote Rudy if he gets the nomination. Three words why: Madam President Clinton.
The big problem will be keeping my focus whilst working among lawyers, who are notorious for consuming. Unlike many of my peers I will not be buying a brand new fancy car upon commencement of my career. My own car is still pretty new (about 5 years) and has been quite reliable. Not dropping 35,000+ on a rapidly depreciating asset that I won't be using much (public transportation is good in my city and will be my method of commuting) is pretty easy. What will be hard is not running into an upscale store and buying a pair of jeans (on sale for only $200!) as a reward for a stressful week, or not spending three times as much on meal because it's just easier to eat out than to cook for myself.
I plan to keep a leash on my spending by putting only a portion of my income into my checking account and the rest into harder to touch savings or investment accounts. I can't trust myself, I need the external enforcement. I'm a little concerned about having a credit card. I wish to build up a credit history, but worry that without close monitoring I will get careless. Perhaps the early payment of my student loans will be enough without having an actual credit card, but I'm not sure.
These concerns are exacerbated by the fact that I've been living a little fast and loose lately (my trip a couple weekends ago was rather expensive). I haven't been thinking too much about the money going out. Last week I ate lunch out every day but one. I would prefer not to burn through my loans so that I can return some of the money at the end of the year. With that in mind I have decided to make two changes:
- Start using cash. Right now I use a debit check card to pay for everything. It's a whole lot easier to put down a piece of plastic than to count out bills, so this would reign in my spending.
- Limit meals out to three a week, total. That may sound like a lot, but I am not talking about three dinners. Eating out would include paying for the meal in the school cafeteria, so I will be bringing most of my lunches to school.
I ran across a blog about money issues for GLBT people: Queercents. I've read a couple articles, some of which have a sort of sanctimonious anti-materialistic bent (particularly the article on Board Games), but I am going to poke around to see if there is some useful information.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
I live in Tehran with my parents and younger brother and am studying to be a computer software engineer. I've known that I was different from my brother and other boys for as long as I can remember.
I was born in 1982, two years after the start of the Iran-Iraq War, and when I was growing up, most boys loved to play with toy guns, pretending to be soldiers in the war. I liked painting, and playing with dolls. My brother preferred to play with the other boys, so most of the time I was lonely.
I was 16 when I first realized that I was sexually attracted to some of the boys in my high school classes. I had no idea what I could do with that feeling. All I knew about homosexuals were the jokes and negative stories that people told about them. I thought a homosexual was someone who sexually abused children -- until I saw the word "homosexual" for the first time in an English encyclopedia, and found a definition of myself.
After that, I started searching the Internet for information about homosexuality. Eventually I came across two Iranian Web sites where I could communicate with other gays. I was 17. At first, I didn't want to give anyone my e-mail address because I was afraid that I could be abused or that my parents might find out, or that people on the site could be government spies. But I finally decided to exchange e-mails with one person, and after some correspondence, we spoke on the phone. I'll never forget the first time I heard the voice of another gay man. We arranged to meet at the home of a friend of his, and the three of us talked for hours. I felt so comfortable with them. The next day I learned that the friend was interested in me. His name was Omid, and we became boyfriends.
I also became interested in the gay social movement that started in 2000. Around that time, Iranian society became more open under President Mohammad Khatami's reformist government. The Internet became common, and everybody started talking about issues they couldn't even have thought about before.
Until then, the gay world had been underground and secret. Under the Islamic Republic, gays could face the death penalty; they could also lose their jobs and family support. Meetings and parties took place only in the most trusted private homes. Heterosexuals were almost never seen at these gatherings. Even fellow gays were only slowly accepted. It could take years for a homosexual to become known and trusted. Most older gays were married and even had children, and their family and friends had no idea of their sexuality.
There was a handful of gathering places for outcast homosexuals in Tehran, people who couldn't hide their sexuality and had lost their jobs, or people whose families had disowned them, and who had turned to selling sex for money. Those places were always being attacked by the paramilitaries.
My generation was the first to start the coming-out process. I decided to come out when I was 20. I thought that if I just talked to my parents about it, they would accept my reasoning. I was totally wrong. Their reaction was horrible. They started to restrict me -- I couldn't use the phone or invite any of my friends over, and they cut back on financial support. Part of their reaction was religious; part was their concern that I couldn't survive as a homosexual in Iran. They were also ashamed to tell the rest of our family and wanted to see me married to a woman.
We argued constantly; they insisted that I wasn't gay, that I only thought I was. It took me years to calm them down, but over time, they lost any hope of changing me, and they started to change themselves. Now they accept that I'm gay, but they're not happy about it.
Meanwhile, the gay community has worked to educate people via Web sites and dialogue with our friends and families. But we've found that the most effective way of changing people's minds is coming out. When people see us as reasonable humans, their negative views of homosexuality are shattered. I can honestly say there's been a change in the way Iranians view us now. Gay life in Iran isn't as underground as it used to be. We have gay parties with heterosexual guests -- and even our parents! We have places where we can congregate -- in coffee shops, special park areas and even certain offices. Many more homosexuals are willing to come out these days. Activists estimate that .5 percent of the Iranian population is homosexual, bisexual or transsexual.
But we weren't surprised by Ahmadinejad's comments about gays at Columbia University. What else could he say? We stone homosexuals in Iran because that's what God wants? It was a joke, but he gave the only answer he could.
I wish our president could learn to respect gays instead of denying us. But I'm not holding my breath. In the meantime, my only response to his remarks is this: Whatever he says, Ahmadinejad can't change the fact that we exist.
Amir is an activist in Tehran whose name is being withheld for his safety.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Why do I find it encouraging? Not because I care that much about marriage, but because Mayor Sanders is a Republican. Another Republican who is more amenable to gay rights is someone everyone loves to compare to Emperor Palpatine, the Vice President. What do these two men have in common? Gay daughters.
These kinds of things show that while it may easy for some people to think of gays and lesbians as "the others," proximity and experience causes second thoughts. This isn't the case of "we're queer, we're here, get used to it" being shouted from outside their homes. Rather, the proximity comes from inside the home, the office, the country club. It's not a question of numbers or visibility, per se. The experience comes from the happy times they spend with people before realizing they are gay. It's about people learning that gays and lesbians are their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, parents, friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc.
It's quite difficult to be gay and then get close to someone who is a homophobe. Instead it seems to be more effective to be close first and then come out as gay. Sure there are still cases of "no son of mine," and I personally dread coming out to my old-guard Republican family, but seeing things like Mayor Sanders have a change of heart because he realized he loves his daughter more than the party line gives me great hope.
On a grander scale that's why I still refuse to leave the Republican Party. If I leave and become an elephant hunter, it's like my shouting gay pride slogans right outside their home. Republicans won't change their minds from angry outside opposition, instead they will get defensive and even more steadfast in their homophobia. I honestly think that well within my lifetime we are going to see the Republican fear of gays and lesbians go the way of opposition to fear of interracial marriage. But that it's only going to happen through relationship and bridge building; it's positive experience with gays and lesbians that will make the difference.
P.S. This isn't the post I can't remember. I fear that one may have evaporated forever.
(H/T: Richard J. Rosendall at Independent Gay Forum)
* According to Towleroad, some New Jersey same-sex couples are reporting that civil unions as opposed to marriage are not enough. An excerpt:
Craig Ross, of Somerset, said his employer refused to give health coverage to his partner, Richard Cash, after the two formed a civil union in April. They were one of several couples who described how business have cited federal laws that refer to 'marriage' or 'spouses' in order to deny health coverage to gay and lesbian employees who have tried to obtain benefits for their partners under New Jersey's civil union law. "They're looking at it as a ceremony, not even a relationship or a legal status," Ross said. "It's just words."This seems like a) poor drafting of the New Jersey law or b) poor lawyering by the businesses. I don't have a copy (and am too lazy to find one) of the New Jersey law, so I cannot say for sure. Simply creating a ceremony recognized by the state called a civil union but does not afford that union equal legal status with a marriage, is as Craig Ross argues, "just words."
If, however, it does afford civil unions the same legal status as a marriage, then I am not sure how citing Federal statutes that refer to "marriage" and "spouse" will help these businesses. State law may (usually) afford more rights to its citizens than does federal law. I doubt that any judge is going to accept the argument "regardless of what the state of New Jersey says about health coverage by companies doing business in New Jersey, since Federal law requires no more than to recognize opposite sex spouses, our business must only meet that standard."
Before you worry about the cost of litigating the issue, let me assure you that this would be ripe for a non-profit gay law group to do pro-bono.
Another, whinier excerpt:
Tom Walton, of East Brunswick, said the difference in name — civil unions versus marriage — sends a message that gay couples are inferior. "Having to explain it automatically devalues it," Walton said. "Even if it gives us the same rights marriage, it doesn't give us the respect."The government can't make people respect you (and whining like this won't help either). If people don't respect same-sex unions, they probably won't respect them if you call them marriages either. The minute a male talks about his "husband" instead of his "wife," people are going to hear "partner." Whether they respect the coupling has nothing to do with what it's called.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Things are getting tragic over there:
Shots were fired to clear crowds defying a brutal crackdown in Myanmar Friday as authorities reportedly cut Internet connections and graphic new video footage showed troops using deadly force.***A day earlier, troops with automatic rifles fired into crowds of anti-government demonstrators, reportedly killing at least nine people in the bloodiest day in more than a month of protests demanding an end to military rule.
By shutting down the Internet, the dictators are trying to prevent images of the bloody struggle from escaping the country.
Tough as it is over there, let me make clear that I am not advocating a Wilsonian Crusade to free the Burmese people. Nonetheless, things like this are both hard to watch and perversely encouraging. The reasons it is hard to watch are obvious, but I am glad to see a people standing up to its oppressive government. I wish the people success.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I am not. I see it as a strawman argument that if anything only weakens the position of homosexuals who still consider themselves Christians (like me).
Humorous yes. Persuasive, no. The big problem is that the whole argument relies on the Old Testament.
The best that homosexuals can do with the Fundies right now is a "love the sinner, hate the sin" + "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" kind of relationship.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
If monks who are leading the protests are mistreated, that could outrage the predominantly Buddhist country, where clerics are revered. But if the junta backs down, it risks appearing weak and emboldening protesters, which could escalate the tension.Although, that is not to say that the monks have the upper hand. Generally speaking, pacifists don't fare to well in armed confrontations and the Burmese government has dealt with this before:
When faced with a similar crisis in 1988, the [Burmese] government harshly put down a student-led democracy uprising. Security forces fired into crowds of peaceful demonstrators and killed thousands, traumatizing the nation.If the people of Myanmar are lucky, this little skirmish my lead to the beginnings of freedom.
What is interesting about this story has been China's reaction to the protests:
China has quietly shifted gears, the diplomats said, jettisoning its noninterventionist line for behind-the-scenes diplomacy. A senior Chinese official asked junta envoys this month to reconcile with opposition democratic forces. And China arranged a low-key meeting in Beijing between Myanmar and State Department envoys to discuss the release of the leading opposition figure.
The government that committed the Tiananmen Square atrocity is now quietly telling the Burmese government to cool its jets. Why? After all, almost two decades after their own massacre of pro-democracy protesters China is still an oppressive authoritarian state. The cynic in me wonders if China just wants to look good for next summer.
Regardless, the Burmese monks are in my thoughts and prayers and I hope they have even mild success.
Anyway, to summarize my trip let me list things that are fun to hear:
"I hope you like steak"
"We can replace your phone for free"
"Those jeans make your ass look good. You should get them."
"Of course we should get more wine"
"Here's your swordfish"
"I'd love to sing showtunes with you both"
"That's enough football, let's get in the hot tub"
"No, sir, it isn't a problem to cancel your 6am wake up call"
Friday, September 21, 2007
But while we’ve still got a moribund and bloated government postal service, Germany’s privatized Deutsche Post seems to be at the leading edge in global shipping and business services. We’ve got congested, government-owned, and union-dominated seaports, while Dubai will be host to a huge and efficient intermodal system.Who'd have thought that we would be looking at Germany as an example of less bureaucracy?
I truly, TRULY believe that the best thing our government can do for our economy is to get out of the way. We can argue all day long (and we would, since we never seemed to get anywhere) about whether government should subsidize our health care, and I will concede that the nature of that good makes it a complicated debate. However, why do we have a transportation bill where the question is not how much will we subsidize an industry (or really, a single company) instead of why should we be subsidizing it?
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Karen's wrong only because she hasn't made money, but she has increased her utility.
Say Karen values the handbag at the full price (meaning she would buy it for $900). If she pays $900, her utility is the same. She has lost $900, but gained the handbag which she values at $900.
Now, say the handbag is on sale for $500, and Karen buys it. Out of Karen's $900 she has lost $500, and in exchange she got something she values at $900 and still has $400 of her money left. Her total utility (as measured by dollars) is $1300, a gain of $400.
Happy bargain hunting!
I went to professional responsibility class this morning (an unnecessary requirement in the training of lawyers), afterwards I got some work done, and then went to lunch with Karen and Alan.
We sat outside on a patio for two hours eating our lunch and drinking wine. We just relaxed, enjoyed the sun, and had a good time talking. I'll be visiting Karen's family this weekend so we discussed what we wanted to do (oh that reminds me, I might be MIA this weekend: I'm not sure if blogging will be a priority when I am visiting Karen's family). All in all, it was a pleasant, leisurely lunch.
The best thing is we do this at least three times a week now! Like I said before, for third year law students with jobs, school is only a minimal commitment.
Now, don't you wish you were me? ;-)
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
All this brings me to Blue Joe's in San Antonio. The owner of the bar refused to allow an artist to show his photographs because they depicted the artist's boyfriend dressed in Victorian costume and wearing make-up. According to the artist:
[The bar owner] just said they looked too much like drag queens, and he didn't want to attract that type of clientele to the establishment. Of course, right then and there, I felt really offended.In response, the bar owner has been accused of homophobia and a myspace campaign started to spread the word. The bar owner tried to defend his decision because the photos might give an impression that they cater exclusively to gay customers, which they do not. The owner has a valid point: in a commercial setting, artwork needs to appeal to the broadest customer base. Chances are, though, Joe Blues won't have to worry about any gay customers for a while now. (Though if the owner really is homophobic, a boycott by gays might be the very thing he wants)
So far the response has been perfectly appropriate. I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop: Joe Blues being sued for anything other than breach of contract. They may have a perfectly appropriate breach of contract cause of action, but if I know lawyers, and I do, that won't be the only claim if a complaint is filed. Since this is Texas we probably don't have to worry about any legislation flowing out of this little tiff.
My point: using market power and information to punish businesses that offend = okay; using the power of the state to force them not to offend or to punish after they have = bad.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Seems, I am not alone in my fiscal policy disappointment. In his new memoir Alan Greenspan criticizes the Bush administration on deficits and spending. Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman (for what, 70 years?) and devotee to Ayn Rand's ideas on the glories of capitalism, has a bit of credibility when it comes to economic policies. According to the review in the NY Times,
Mr. Greenspan describes the Bush administration as so captive to its own political operation that it paid little attention to fiscal discipline, and he described Mr. Bush’s first two Treasury secretaries, Paul H. O’Neill and John W. Snow, as essentially powerless.The bulk of the bulk is devoted to his views on markets, globalization and the American economy. I will be excited to read it.
Mr. Bush, he writes, was never willing to contain spending or veto bills that drove the country into deeper and deeper deficits, as Congress abandoned rules that required that the cost of tax cuts be offset by savings elsewhere. “The Republicans in Congress lost their way,” writes Mr. Greenspan, a self-described “libertarian Republican.”
*In fact, one could (and many, including me, do) argue that the abandonment of the limited government and fiscally responsible principles that Republicans still pay lip service to (sometimes) is what led to the dominance of the religious right within the party--a classic example of selling out.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
In order to avoid dealing with certain things (especially if they might provoke strong emotion) I often try make myself too busy to think about them. I do this by giving myself goals and projects. (For anyone who puts any stock into the enneagram, this is classic type 3 behavior).
Currently there are two competing situations in my personal life--one good and one bad (and again, I am not talking about coming out). The good is that in about a month I may have a boy visiting me. To avoid the bad one, I am going to focus entirely on the good and getting in good physical shape in time for the visit.
This, my last year of school, is perfect for finally seeing my abs (I've felt them, just never seen them). I have a well equipped gym at my disposal for no extra charge, and because I have a job, school takes up only minimal time (meaning enough preparation not to be embarrassed, and then taking a long lunch).
I have a couple of hurdles, though too. I have several friends who love to cook and do it well. And though they'll cook fairly healthily (using ground turkey instead of beef, making sure we have vegetables, etc.), the quantities completely blow everything to hell. Also, I am a moderate party guy (meaning I love to drink when someone else is paying for it). Though I have considerably limited my beer intake (preferring wine instead), I'd probably see better results if I went off both entirely. I'm just not quite willing to commit social suicide my last year of goofing off before the real world sets in with a vengeance.
So with that background, here's the plan:
- Weather permitting walk to school. I go to school in a small college town and live less than a mile from campus. Walking is not that strenuous, so why not? Also, I'll save money on gas and maintenance (what do you mean by "environment?").
- Work out at least three times a week. I warm up by running a mile, do weight machine circuits, and then cool down by running another mile. When I run I use the interval method. Maybe after a couple weeks I'll add a cardio day to my workout schedule.
- Eat more than three times a day. Make my biggest meal lunch.
- Increase my protein, green vegetables, and fiber. Limit my fried foods (a toughie for this southern boy!)
- No more carbonated beverages (though I make exceptions when it's used as a mixer--not that it's healthier, but otherwise I'd have the mixed drinks plus the Cokes throughout the day. I'm still decreasing my Coke intake).
Friday, September 14, 2007
People familiar with the courts in New York will immediately recognize why this isn't terribly exciting: unlike other states and federal courts, In New York the "Supreme Court" is the trial level. Still appealable.
It's interesting that in just a couple weeks two big trial decisions regarding gay marriage came down in separate states.
In similar news, I am aware of Arthur Branch's, um, disappointing statements regarding gay marriage. The self-described Federalist is uncomfortable with just this type of thing: A state judge determining that a state has to recognize the same-sex marriage of another state. He supports (or at least used to support) civil unions at the state level. I'm curious to know what he thinks about the Department of the Treasury or Social Security Administration recognizing them as well.
Like I have always said, whether it's called marriage by the state is irrelevant, it's the recognition of civil benefits for same sex partners that matters.
Further, I find it interesting that some people think that civil unions would hurt the push for marriage. I realize that having a separate but equal institution seems unpleasant, but with the progress we have seen in just 10 years, do we really think that it would stop with civil unions anyway?
Update: Mea Cupla, I forgot to link to the news story about the NY court ruling. You can read about it here.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I still remember that clear morning. It was my first semester of college and I only had one class on Tuesdays, which wasn't until 11 AM. Tuesdays were my sleep in morning. My roommate, Jim, was an athlete (had a crush on him, buts that's a story for another day) and he got up early to work out on Tuesday mornings.
Blissfully asleep, I am awakened by Jim practically breaking the door down shouting "we're being attacked!" I tended to be the calmer head between us, and still annoyed at being awakened I asked him, "what the hell are you talking about"
He said that he saw on the TVs in the gym that a plane had crashed into the world trade center. Not being one to jump to conclusions, I suggested that it was probably just a tragic accident. Then he told me about the second plane. We turned on the TV in the dorm room just in time to learn about the pentagon.
It was a terrible day. Luckily, I was very fortunate. I didn't know anyone in Manhattan, and no one my parents knew were killed or even injured. But even so, I won't ever forget that.
By the way, I chose a picture of a memorial for flight 93 because the passengers on that flight are my heroes. Just typing this makes me tear up.
Monday, September 10, 2007
So what if Rudy or Mitt appear too liberal to the base? We don't need to worry about the base voting, because liberal as Rudy and Romney appear, Hills [pictured below] seems more liberal. She will get the Republican base out in November 2008. But if Fred appears too conservative, the moderates and swingers (not that kind of swingers) won't want him.
I'm also getting a little annoyed by the Reagan comparisons. I certainly understand why the Thompson capaign is invoking the name of our 40th president, but I wish they wouldn't. I do not mean to sound derisive, but Fred is not Ron. Apart from both being relatively conservative Republicans and having acting experience, the comparison seems a bit superficial. The issues facing us today are quite different than those facing us almost 30 years ago.
Further, although I may be, our nation is probably not looking for a Reagan. I may not have been paying much attention to politics (or even alive) when RR was elected, but it seems to me as though 1980 was a response to Carter. We don't have a Carter; we have Bush II. Any backlash/response is not going to be in the direction of "more conservative." My only hope is that the response is not so severe in the direction of "less conservative" that it pushes into, well, you know. (Of course, certain factors outside the presidential election can make me a little more comfortable with a party shift in the executive branch).
Elections for me are always depressing; it's never about whom I want, it's about avoiding the one[s] I don't.
Note further, that he is trying to withdraw his resignation as well:
He announced Sept. 1 that he would resign at the end of the month, but told Senate leaders last week that he would remain in office if he was able to get the plea overturned.Does he really think he still has a career either way?
Anyway, the little break gave me some ideas for a few posts, which should be forthcoming this week. Right now, I have to eat breakfast. I wonder if Flipping Out is on (Ryan, the business partner and ex-boyfriend of the main investor guy, is sooo pretty).
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Back in my "straight" days, I was basically asexual. I ignored girls sexually, and was oblivious and indifferent as to whether they ignored me. Sexual attraction was largely a non-issue.
All of a sudden, I spent a summer out of the closet, and went, admittedly, a little wild. Now I can't seem to leave the summer in the summer. Not a day seems to go by without a text from some guy I met last summer (thankfully, David got the message. Though I doubt he reads the blog). One guy even offered to fly me back to the city for a long weekend. I'm not saying we're in stalker land, but then again I don't really know where that line is.
Here's the odd part, while I consider myself above average on looks, intelligence and personality, I don't think I am enough on any measure to warrant the kind of attention I am getting. It's not that I don't like the attention, it just confuses me. I like the attention; I want people to want me, but I feel a little guilty about leading the boys on.
Monday, September 3, 2007
It really doesn't affect my life too much now that automatic and internet banking are so pervasive and I often forget to get my snail-mail for days. Also many, if not most, retail stores still open their doors, and even have sales. As a student I can still do my work on Federal holidays (and often have to). When I graduate, I can bill for work on weekends and holidays just the same as work done on other days. So all in all, my only complaint is that it just leaves a bad ideological taste in my mouth.
Tangent: the discussion Matt had about capitalism with some Yugoslavian youths made me sad inside.
In other news: time to put away those white dinner jackets and linen suits. I don't care who says the rules have changed.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Because I have no connection to Iowa or have much of a sense of the judiciary there, I cannot predict what will happen to the case as it inevitably makes its way through the appeals process. For at least a minute, though, Iowan gay couples get the same civil benefits as straight married couples. The fact that this is accomplished by calling the union a "marriage" is just gravy.
Aside: On the Federal side, I think the only thing the government needs to do is recognize gay couples as equal to straight ones. So far as I can tell, the department that needs to do so most urgently is the Department of the Treasury. Especially once the estate tax comes back. Yes, once again, it all comes down to money for me.
UPDATE: Kip has a much more detailed analysis of the court decision than I will ever do here. First off, the decision is 63 pages long. I'm now a third year law student with a job (read: coasting), so I'm only going to read the decision if I'm paid to.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
I was in the restroom today and I saw an associate in the stall next to me wiggle his fingers under the partition between stalls. I ignored it, like I do whenever associates do anything besides work. He did it again. I thought maybe he was holding his hand out for an assignment, thinking perhaps I'd brought one with me to the bathroom. It turns out I had. I took the papers from my pocket and put them in his wiggling fingers. Then his foot crept under the stall and rubbed against mine. He wanted more. So I reached into my other pocket and pulled out a credit agreement. I scrawled at the top, "Proofread this," and slipped it under the partition. He took it. Forty minutes later, the completed assignment and proofread credit agreement arrived on my desk. Well done. Associates bold enough to ask for assignments in the bathroom are acceptable in my book.
But not everyone sees it that way. See, this associate was already working for another partner. And it's not entirely within the normal protocol for an associate committed to one partner to be looking to engage with other partners, especially in the bathroom. And especially from a completely different practice group. There are rumors he's done this before. There are a number of different bathrooms in the office designated as "work bathrooms," where there are outlets in each stall for laptop computers, fully functioning wireless, a printer, and a secretary on duty at all times. While these bathrooms function as normal bathrooms throughout the day, everyone is aware that work does go on there, especially in the corner stall. So an especially eager associate can cruise these bathrooms throughout the day and, if he's lucky, find an extra assignment or two. These may not be the best assignments the firm has to offer, but they allow some exposure to new partners and perhaps enable connections that will help the associates down the line. Most associates don't talk about their secret bathroom rendezvous. Somehow the bathroom assignments are considered dirty, illegitimate, cheating. And some associates, over time, get a reputation.
What ends up complicating matters is that most associates don't like it when one of their own is begging too hard for these bathroom opportunities. They don't like to see someone stand out, meet new partners, and put themselves in a position to move ahead. So once an associate gets a reputation for cruising the bathrooms, he puts himself at risk for vigilante justice. Associates who aren't into the bathroom scene corner their colleagues, rough them up a little bit, steal their copies of the tax code. It can be an ugly scene. But it's not my job to police the associates. In a way, I like to see associates take matters into their own hands. And I like that it means that associates who want the bathroom assignments know they're taking a risk, but they do it anyway. Their impulse to do as much work as they can, their impulse to impress as many partners as possible, their raw biological impulses are so strong that they're willing to put their bodies (and tax codes) at risk for it. That's the kind of dedication I like to see. The kind of commitment that makes me proud to work at a place like this, and proud to see an associate's fingers wiggling under the bathroom partition and give him exactly what he deserves. To put that thick, hot-off-the-printer lease agreement right in his hands. Makes me proud to be a lawyer.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I found an interesting set of statistics in the book Non-Profit Organizations: Cases and Materials (3d ed. 2006) by James J. Fishman and Stephen Schwartz (I'm using this book for a school project; an online version doesn't seem to be available, sorry). Health care is the single largest sub-sector in the service providing non-profit sector (service providing excludes religious organizations), absorbing 60 percent of non-profit revenues and 25 percent of charitable contributions. Fishman & Schwartz at 22. Further, hospital care represents the single largest component of health care in the United States. Id. at 24.
Now here comes the interesting part: the break down of Hospital Care. Non-profit hospitals comprise about half of all hospitals. Id. Non-profit does not mean not profitable, but rather tax exempt and prohibited from distributing profits. Id. at 3. So for those non-profit hospitals that do earn a profit (not all do!) those revenues must be reinvested into the provision of services rather than distributed to owners. There is no investment incentive in a non-profit; revenues must come from fees for services, government grants or charitable contributions. Id. at 18.
The second largest group of Hospitals in the U.S. are government hospitals at 31 percent. Id. at 25. Government hospitals mean run by a governmental authority, mostly at the state and local level. Id.
Then for-profit hospitals are only 19 percent of all hospitals. Id. And they seem to be smaller as the account for only 14 percent of hospital beds. Id.
What does this all mean for this debate? On the one hand you might look at the numbers and say, "See, Pink, the market doesn't need to regulate health care; as you said quality is great. Such great quality is delivered without a significant market incentive for investment! Let's socialize that pesky 19 percent!"
On the other hand, you can just as easily say (as I will, predictably), "Perhaps many of the ills in our health care system, such as lack of access, are created by the lack of market incentives for the majority of hospitals."
Why bring this up, it's just another scandal, and a relatively small one at that? He paid a $500 fine and his 10 day jail sentence was stayed. In the course of human events no one really cares.
Well, some people might care, since Craig has a predictably dismal voting record with regards to gay and lesbian issues (according at least to the HRC, the be all and end all of gay and lesbian policy positions--thank God we have them to tell us what to think). So it's easy to get smug and shout "hypocrite." That's a rather appropriate reaction, but that's not what I want to talk about.
Over at Sully's blog a guest blogger expressed some guarded sympathy for deeply closeted gays and lesbians. The blogger then noted that his sympathy does not extend far enough to accommodate those closeted gays and lesbians who, in order to protect their "shameful secret," are openly hostile to other gays and lesbians. Particularly those who are in a position to influence national policy. Fair enough. When I hear these kinds of stories I sort of feel something similar, a mix between pity and disappointment.
Don't get me wrong I am trying to defend his record at all. Instead, I am just noting that it must be awful to be someone like that. Really, all I can say is that thanks to some close friends and this blog, I'm grateful that in 40 years I will not be another Senator Craig.
Monday, August 27, 2007
So first Rove, and now Gonzales. I am starting to get a feeling of And Then There Were None.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Anyway, I am bringing it up because right now I am reading my first assignment for that class and my eyes are rolling out of their sockets. I'm reading about the dark years (as far as I am concerned) of 1965-1980 when the regulatory state started gaining real momentum. Siiiiigh.
PS sorry about my delinquency in blogging. I've been getting settled in at school.
Update: The class got off to a great start. In the first few minutes the professor picked on me a bit for being the "cold, economic type." Then she contrasted me with other students who may be of the radical "trees have feelings" variety. It's fairly clear that I can be relied upon to voice a viewpoint that few others interested in environmental law might hold.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Chris is a "paramedical esthetician," which I think means "pretend plastic surgeon." He works for a real surgeon, and I get the impression Chris can use needles and lasers, just not a scalpel. Botox but not breast implants, and so forth. Of course I have no idea. Nonetheless, he seems to do well for himself [[I didn't have to pay!!]]. Chris is slightly nellier than I tend to prefer, but since he has a professional (mildly?) job, I was able to overlook that. I think I am becoming something of a career queen (surely there is such a thing?). Did I mention he paid [[I'm two steps away from being a prostitute, boy toy, second husband]]?
I arrive at his condo (he has equity! Swoon!) and I call to tell him I'm in the lobby. Turns out he's not ready yet, but buzzes me up anyway. Turns out his view is gorgeous, and I spent time out on his balcony as he finished getting dressed (nothing scandalous here--he did so in his bath and bedroom). Shortly thereafter, (though still after a surprisingly long time) we are on our way to a Vodka Bar [[not really a gay bar, but practically one]].
He has a Cosmo; I have a Vodka Tonic [[I am the more butch of our pair]]. We both eat Salads. Eat drink talk eat drink talk. Learning my lesson I do not disclose that I hunt the poor and minorities for sport [[am a Republican]]. We talk about work and theater and other such stuff. Eventually I learn that Chris considers himself a movie buff [[he follows the Oscars closely but has probably never heard of, say, The Seventh Seal. Not that I judge him for that, I mean, who likes Swedish cinema?]]. Chris was quite surprised that I had not seen The Queen yet. Several drinks later we decide to go to his condo to watch that film.
I still have not seen The Queen [[ ;-) ]].
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Hillary has geared her campaign towards caring about those poor unfortunate souls that remain "invisible" to the Republicans. Accordingly, Hillary has chosen a new campaign song. Click below to see her sing it.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
- Democrats pledge to reverse unions' decline: No kidding. How altruistic of them to protect the power of a group that consistently delivers votes to the the other party. Oh wait, scratch that, reverse.
- I am aware that Rove has resigned. I just don't have anything to say about it.
- I was not invited. I wouldn't have gone, though.
- I am against the Real ID Act. Do I have to explain this? The next step is just to station an American soldier in every household in order to catch terrorists. Sure that's unconstitutional, but only for now.
- I bet I scared you a little by having a link in that last line :-)
- And yet, this doesn't bother me all that much.
- An interesting comparison of Health Care proposals among the candidates of both parties. I like most of what the Republicans have to say (SHOCKER!). Tax Deduction are two of my favorite words--but only when right next to each other. Tancredo's attempt to bring Health Care back to his pet issue looks a little forced, but hey, who can blame him? The Blurb about Romney makes him look a tad, well, untrustworthy--dare I say, Kerry-esque. Sadly I can't really blame that on that particular "liberal" medium. But boy has Romney got hair.
- On the lighter side, like it does most gay men, the first minutes of The Nines...er...excites me. Especially around minute 4:45.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Mike Gravel states, in part:
By drawing upon the language of states rights, Hillary embraces the tradition of John Calhoun and the defenders of slavery along with Strom Thurmond and the segregationists. Throughout our nation's history, every time national public opinion turns against oppression, opponents of progress use states rights to present themselves as defenders of liberty in the face of federal power.
States rights has always been the last refuge of the bigots. Now Hillary has given rhetorical cover to the homophobes. If she wins the Democratic nomination, opponents of gay marriage will cite her statement to justify their opposition to national marriage equality over the next decade.
Now I much beg Senator Gravel's pardon, but it seems a little dangerous to put all our eggs in the Federal basket. Why, isn't DOMA federal legislation? Didn't the FMA start in federal government (and admittedly die there)? Or the Federal Estate Tax that will hit gay couples quite significantly once it is reinstated? Has the Senator from Alaska noticed that at least 16 states plus the District of Columbia have workplace protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation while ENDA continues to languish in a Democrat controlled Congress?
PS, I NEVER thought I would be defending Hills on this blog. That Sen. Gravel made me do that is the most irritating thing of all.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Where I am:
I have been out all summer. I was out at work (I rather expect I will return to the same firm after graduation--assuming I get an offer. I find out next week!). It really was great to learn to get comfortable with myself. I think that was an important step. Had I not taken it, I am certain I would be seriously considering staying in the closet for ages.
I have been able to date some, as well as just have fun. A lot has become clear to me this summer. For instance, I always hated kissing, until I started kissing guys. Now I actually really like it--a bit too much perhaps given my inability to remain appropriate after a drink or two. I suppose that means I actually am gay.
Where I need to be:
I really need to start thinking seriously about telling my family. So far, I have trying to build up to them, but Matt suggested it might be easier to go the other way: family first then friends. Otherwise i have worse worry for longer (let's face it, most of us are more concerned about how our family reacts than our friends, however close they may be).
Now, I have decided to wait about a year. Before you get too concerned that I am still stalling, let me tell you why. A year from now I will have graduated and finished taking the bar. I will have made, at least in my own mind, the transition into bona fide adulthood. As an adult I should be honest with my parents about who I am. But at the same time I will be in a position to take care of myself, should it come to that ( I don't expect it to, but it just seems prudent to have this option).
Further, assuming I get the job I hope to, I will be working rather long hours over 500 miles from where they live. That will give them a sort of buffer of time and space to deal with it on their own terms (and honestly, it will give me some means to forget about the discomfort my sexuality will cause them while they do deal with it).
Finally, it will give me time to prepare how to do it. Should I tell my sister first, or my parents first? I'll probably do it while they are visiting me here rather than at their home. I feel like I need to read up more. Perhaps plan out exactly the things I want to say. This is not the kind of thing I think I should jump into cavalierly. It wouldn't be fair to them.
PS: I regularly re-link to it, but once again I want to go over Nick's Mom's advice. She's awesome.