I’m Gay

There, it’s done.  No melodramatic build-up to a climax you would have guessed much sooner anyway.  Those of you who have already decided you can no longer be my friend…well…the rest of us will wait while you leave.

Do not be ashamed to say what you are not ashamed to think. -Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

Still here?  Thank you.

I have been told for so very many years that I should never let anyone know my secret.  You know, that I’m a queer, a faggot, a homosexual.  And I believed them.  But they weren’t trying to help me, they were helping themselves.  The result is that I have never once ever lived my life.  The total of what I am, or what I was until recently, is that small subset of things that don’t offend other people.

Pretending to be something I’m not had the result of molding me into a warped version of everyone else’s expectations; something I was never meant to be.  Breaking free of my mold will not cause the real “me” to suddenly appear, but it will give me the freedom to become the person I should have been—within limitations.

I will never know the joys of being a young, happy, gay man.  I was never given the opportunity to openly explore my true self in my youth like my peers.  There were times when I was filled with loathing for who and what I was, knowing I could never be “normal.”  I was afraid.  I was constantly called a queer in school, though I don’t believe they actually knew the truth.  They weren’t capable of that level of discernment and were simply being cruel the best way their limited abilities allowed.  It has taken me decades to realize the problem wasn’t with me.  It was, and for the most part still is, in allowing a narrow-minded group of people to decide what the definition of normal ought to be. A group whose sole purpose is the preservation of their own specific interests.  These people do not serve the greater good, they serve only themselves.

From this day forward, I will live my life.

Unjust Causes

Causes and ignorance, like drinking and driving, do not mix.  Most people mean well, I believe, they just happen not to know what they’re talking about.  Case in point: the “Tell Obama We Are A Christian Nation” page on causes.com.

All twelve and a half thousand people are sincere in their desire that the United States return to the Christian nation it once was.  The problem?  The U.S. was never a Christian nation at any point in its history, nor should it ever become one.  In an 1814 letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper of Pennsylvania, former President Thomas Jefferson noted: “Christianity neither is, nor ever was, part of the Common Law.

Another Jefferson letter to the Danbury (CT) Baptist’s Association in 1802, written during his first term as President, reassured the association’s members their religious freedoms would be protected.  That letter is the source of the oft repeated phrase: “…make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” which is the heart of the premise of Separation of Church and State and part of the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. [source]

So, what of all the people wanting a return to Christianity?  And I don’t mean only those on causes.com; that’s a single page on one web site.  There are so many people desperately wanting a return to something that never was.  Perhaps they would be better served now if they hadn’t been passing notes in their American Government classes or doodling on their book covers in History class.

Before you click that button, make sure you know what you’re “liking” or “joining.”  You may think you’re letting people know you’re supporting a worthwhile cause, but We The People will think you’re an idiot.

An expert opinion?

It was a recent article by the Daily Mail that brought me to the topic of this essay, though not the article per se.  It all started with the discovery in an underwater cave in Mexico’s Quintana Roo province of a boy’s bones which date to around 10,000 years ago.  Having been studied in situ for four year now, the bones have been brought to the surface for further study.

The bit that is supposed to grab your attention, however, is the possibility that we might have to rewrite history (yet again) based on this discovery, this new evidence, that humans were already in the southern part of North America while the Clovis peoples were migrating across the Bering land bridge.  The point being there would be no time for the Clovis peoples to migrate that far south, therefore the boy was part of another earlier civilization.  (They were called Clovis after the Clovis, New Mexico site where they were first discovered.)

I just don’t see this supposition borne out by the facts.  Migration from Eurasia is estimated to have occurred about 17,000 years ago.  Clovis peoples are in what is now New Mexico around 13,000 years ago.  It is about this time something triggered a “cooling event,” the Younger-Dryas stadial, and habitation of the Clovis sites ceased.

Unless these so-far resilient and resourceful people suddenly became dimwitted and decided they didn’t want to follow the game (their food) to a warmer climate, there is plenty of time for them to have migrated to the Quintana Roo region and much farther.

It was this story on the Daily Mail’s web site that prompted the following comment:

I’ve been on enough digs and seen enough evidence to show me that humans have lived on this planet for millions of years already. Some with a very high degree of civilization. If you think what we’re living now is a high degree of civilization, you’re deluded. We have forgotten how to respect our planet and have lost all of the REAL high technological processes that we once knew through subversion and other interesting means. I truly believe that the likely scenario is that humans were already on the South American continent millions of years ago. They made their way NORTH, not South as some would have you believe. This is why we have Teotihuacan and other high tech cities in South America, Central America and Mexico, the southern, central and northern USA and Canada. The mounds, pyramids and other structures did not just build themselves and it’s impossible for much to have been done by the hands of slaves or what have you. Logic is a wonderful thing. Use it, don’t lose it.
– B. McIntyre, Montana, USA, 28/8/2010 17:44

This comment has a rating of +14, the sum of positive and negative ratings this far.  You have read the comment for yourselves and now I’d like to show you what it says to me.

I’ve been on enough digs…”  Really?  How many have you been on?  Which ones?  How many is enough?  What qualifies you to interpret what you have seen on those digs?

…and seen enough evidence to show me that humans have lived on this planet for millions of years already.”  If by “humans” you mean anything in the genus Homo, then you are correct.  Homo habilis appeared roughly 2.4 million years ago.  If you are referring to humans that resemble modern humans, the time is closer to 200,000 years. [Timeline of Evolution]

Some with a very high degree of civilization.”  Using what scale?  What determines that a civilization is of a high degree?  Examples would have helped.

If you think what we’re living now is a high degree of civilization, you’re deluded.”  Perhaps, but you must forgive us since you have yet to offer anything by which we could measure these degrees.  Are we Medium?  42?  G?  Orange?  We’re deluded?  Do you have a clue what you’re talking about?

We have forgotten how to respect our planet and have lost all of the REAL high technological processes that we once knew through subversion and other interesting means.”  You have now gotten so far off point you can no longer see it with a telescope, but let’s play along.  Technological?  Are you saying civilization and technology are synonymous?  The part that reads “through subversion and other interesting means” is our first solid clue that B. McIntyre is a conspiracy theorist nut job.

I truly believe that the likely scenario is that humans were already on the South American continent millions of years ago.”  With the fact that the skeletal remains of the boy mentioned in the aforementioned news article appear to be the older than anything in Central or South America, this highlights another of McIntyre’s fallacies: that he or she is an expert.  You can truly believe anything you wish, but that does NOT make it true.  However, continuing to truly believe in the face of opposing evidence could indicate some sort of mental illness.

They made their way NORTH, not South as some would have you believe.”  The “some” referred to here would be, at a minimum, paleontologists and geneticists who have made it their careers to study such matters.  They should all bow to McIntyre’s opinion because he/she “has been on enough digs and seen enough evidence“.

This is why we have Teotihuacan and other high tech cities in South America, Central America and Mexico, the southern, central and northern USA and Canada.”  To which high tech cities in the USA and Canada are you referring?  Omaha and Toronto?  Perhaps you mean the high tech, fluted arrowheads of the Clovis peoples?  Because, yeah, that far surpasses anything we’re capable of in our Medium, 42, G, Orange degree of civilization.  Hey, McIntyre!  Did you know that we are now able to send messages long distances without having to burn anything?  And we can do it in the rain!  Shove that up your “Teotihuacan.”

The mounds, pyramids and other structures did not just build themselves…”  Was this meant to support your million-year-old South American dynasty theory?  How?  Seriously, offer some evidence these were not built by southerly migrating people.

…and it’s impossible for much to have been done by the hands of slaves or what have you.”  Holy Hannah!  What the hell are you on about now?  Is it possible the news article I read could be so different from the one you saw?

Logic is a wonderful thing.  Use it, don’t lose it.”  This could be evidence that McIntyre likes Chinese food and/or Snapple.  It certainly has the ring of something from a cookie or a bottle cap.  Sadly, it is impossible to use or lose something one never had, and McIntyre MOST DEFINITELY does not have logic in his/her skill set.

There wasn’t a single fact or bit of supportable opinion in McIntyre’s comment.  The entire thing was utter bullshit from “I’ve…” to “…it.

No sé (a dream)

I don’t know my name.

I don’t know where I am.  I don’t even know where I was when they took me.  But I do know that if I slow down or stop running, I’m dead.  I don’t deserve this!  No 15-year-old deserves this kind of crap.

A nasty little bastard and three of his loser pals are intent on killing me and three other Mexicanos about my age because we had the gall to escape.  We started running as a group, but drifted apart the farther we ran.  That has worked in our favor though we hadn’t planned it.  Hell, we didn’t plan any of this.  The chance to get away just sort of happened and when the first of us started running, the rest followed.

There are only two things on my mind right now: my next step and the paved road ahead of me.  I know if I can reach that road I’ll be safe.  There are homes along that road with families and trees and dogs and mailboxes and green grass.  A real neighborhood.  Nothing like this dry and dusty dirt road with its half-exposed fist-size rocks that will trip you in half a heartbeat.

Every second arrives with the curse that it will be my last, but leaves as a blessing that it was not.  I’m so exposed in this field of waist high needle grass, I can almost feel the rifle sights burning a spot on my back.  And I am so tired.

The air is hot and humid and full of bugs.  I’m used to the heat but it feels like I’m running through water or something.  It’s slowing me down, draining me.  I have never run this fast for so long before.  Part of me wonders if it wouldn’t be easier just to stop, to get it over with.  It can’t be worse than the painful stitch in my side or gasping for one more lungful of hot, wet air.

It’s getting dark now.  On my right, towards the setting sun, I see another of the boys running as I am, not so much towards the paved road (I don’t think he can see it yet) as away from our kidnappers.  Just then he throws up his arms and falls forward.  A second later I hear the shot.

Idiot!  I’ve been running in a straight line!  That could’ve been me!  I start running back and forth across the dirt road randomly, I hope, but always towards the pavement with its unspoken promise of safety.  I think of that other boy, the one who just got shot, and I wonder how much it hurt.  I didn’t know him, I don’t know any of them, but part of me feels bad he’s gone.

There’s another boy ahead of me and to the right, almost at the road, and suddenly I realize how close it is.  It’s less than a hundred feet away!  My brain tells my body to run faster, but my body has become like those pendejo Hondas with the big mufflers the white kids in the suburbs have.  They make a lot of noise, but they don’t move very fast.

Why do I even think of such things now?  Concentrate!  Breathe!  Don’t trip!  Do not trip!

And I’m there!

I was watching the dark road to avoid the rocks and it took me a few seconds to realize I was actually on the pavement.  Finally! The other boy I saw ahead of me is standing on the road, too, watching me and catching his breath.  Together we run a little farther down the road until it is completely dark, and so we aren’t in plain sight of the field, before stopping to catch our breath again.

We never see the fourth boy again.

– – –

The short, ugly, son-of-a-bitch leader of the gang that tried to kill me stands in his junkyard castle with two of his soldier whores, both carrying Kalashnikovs the way mothers cradle babies.  He seems smug and angry, which is what passes for happiness in his fucked-up world.  And yet, he wonders, how dare a bee sting him on his forehead.  His forehead!

His anger turns quickly to confusion as his hand comes away with blood from the sting.  He stumbles and sits down heavily, never having heard the shot.  In his confusion, this puta imagines he sees me standing next to him, smiling.  I don’t know how I know this, but I do and it makes me glad to know this is what he’s thinking as the last of his worthless life fades into nothing.

– – –

I don’t know how much time has passed since that day in the field of needle grass, nor do I know where we’re going, but as I switch seats to sit between my older brother and one of his friends, I realize I am safe.  The fading memory of my ordeal no longer haunts my dreams, but it sweetens every waking moment.  I see that the bad times aren’t as bad as they could be and the good times are better than I ever thought possible.

And I still don’t know my name.

Politicians and Global Warming; Oil and Water

When I read Suzanne Goldenberg’s article from The Guardian World News, a UK newspaper, my first thought was, “you have got to be kidding me.”  My second was, “what perfect timing!”

Just the day before, a friend of mine on Facebook made the comment: “Safe to say at this point that Global Warming belongs in that Dr.Pepper commercial with the Easter Bunny, Santa Clause, and Tooth Fairy.”  This is a reference to the Diet Dr Pepper commercial shown during the Super Bowl where Diet Dr Pepper joins Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, an alien and others in their “I Exist Support Group.”

That comment was spurred by recording setting snowfalls in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area.  The National Weather Service total for Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) for the two snow events is 44.3 inches.  It also highlights a common misunderstanding about global warming and may offer a clue why so many do not believe it to be a problem.

To begin to grasp the magnitude, not merely the scale, of global warming (as if the name wasn’t a clue), one must understand that it is about climate change and not individual weather events. Those who do not realize this, or those who wish not to believe it, will use occurrences such as the recent snowfalls along the US’s eastern seaboard as proof that global warming is clearly a fabrication.  These very same people will remain absolutely quiet when the temperature at BWI reaches 70 degrees in February, as it did in 2009.  During the same period, the temperature at Dulles Airport in northern Virginia was 71 degrees, and it was 72 degrees at Reagan National in Washington, D.C.

Why the silence?  Aren’t meteorological “hiccups” the proof some people need to convince themselves a thing does or does not exist?  No?  Then what could be keeping more people from understanding the crisis our biosphere faces?

In that Facebook entry I mentioned earlier and which the original author has since deleted, I said politicians were to blame.  Politicians don’t like spending your money on things they don’t like, and they don’t like global warming.  It is, from a short-sighted point of view, a money pit.  Repairing the ecology will be hideously expensive and there aren’t likely to be many, if any, quick returns on the investment.  (Ironically, parents will setup college funds for their kids but not spend a penny towards ensuring there’s a planet left on which to attend a college.)

Many politicians represent areas heavily invested with industries that directly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, or the “carbon footprint.”  It would be political suicide for them to anger large blocs of their constituents just to ensure our survival as a species.  A favorite weapon of the politician to defend an untenable position is to behave like an immature child.

Have you ever seen a kid do something wrong and blame someone else for it?  When the innocent one says they didn’t do it, the actual culprit calls them a liar.  Politicians do much the same thing when they tell you that you should not listen to any of the world’s climatologists, meteorologists, biologists, botanists, oceanographers, or any other scientist in a related discipline because they are telling you what to think.  (Do you see the irony?)

You’re probably wondering when I’m going to explain what this has to do with the perfect timing.  That would be now.  I’ve finished the backstory, ending with the tie-in to The Guardian’s article.

It seems I was mistaken earlier when I said it would be expensive, “hideously expensive” actually, to fix our planet.  The representatives from the Republican State of Utah have already done it!

In a non-binding bill, and by a vote of 56-17, Utah’s state representatives condemned environmentalists as “climate alarmists” and global warming to be “a vast conspiracy to destroy the American way of life and control world population through forced sterilization and abortion.”  With a stroke of a pen…  (In my mind, there’s a stroke of a pen and an eloquent flourish considering they have just saved the world.)  With a stroke of a pen, global warming was just legislated out of existence.

As an aside, the vote also tells me one other thing: There are at least 17 members of the Utah House of Representatives who are not completely insane.

To their credit, I guess, these representatives also “called on the federal government’s Environmental Protection Agency to order an immediate halt in its moves to regulate greenhouse gas emissions ‘until a full and independent investigation of climate data and global warming science can be substantiated.'”  One can only wonder what professions will be called upon to conduct this investigation.  Since scientists seem to be too damned biased towards facts, perhaps politicians will assume this burden of responsibility.

Coal-burning power plants, gas-guzzlers and farting cows may now continue their burning, guzzling and farting as they please.  Should we ever enter another “green age” when we believe we’re harming the only planet we have and should take action to reverse the process, we shall ask Utah to legislate us back to safety.

“Honey, spray your hair with the good stuff!  We’re driving our big, old car to a book burning!”

AFTERWORD

Dear readers, it seems we may be right back where we started and global warming is still a crisis we will have to face NOW.  A non-binding group of scientists legislated themselves the power to legislate.  Then they legislated a bill stating it was now the day before the Utah House of Representatives saved us, and further legislated the Utah HR out of existence, thereby negating our salvation.

On a related note, does anyone know any politicians who would agree to be interviewed for an article titled How To Stay Insane In A World Gone Sensible?

In Memorium: Maurits Alphons “Mark” Jansen

Mark Jansen was one of the kindest souls I’ve ever had the privilege to meet.  He could be funny and he could be serious, but I never once ever saw him angry.  And he could smile.

Everyone has smiles they use for various reasons.  We have our Polite Smile, our We’re-being-tolerant-of-your-noisy-kids Smile, our Please-take-the-picture-already Smile and so on.  Mark had one smile and it was a genuine reflection of his spirit.  If I had to give it a name, it would be a Being-around-you-makes-me-feel-good Smile.

To say that I don’t feel sad Mark is gone would be an obvious lie.  A large part of whatever is good in me is a result of Mark’s influence in my life as classmate, coworker and friend.  That part of me resonates with the pain of his passing, but in that pain I’ve begun to realize how much of Mark lives on, not only in me but in everyone who knew him.  That gives me cause to celebrate Maurits Alphons Jansen.

And it would make him smile.

Fireball XL5

XL5 Rail Launch
XL5 Rail Launch

Over the past few weeks I have been quietly reliving part of my childhood.  I have thirty of the thirty-nine episodes of Fireball XL5, a sci-fi marionette show for kids, and am busy “acquiring” the final nine eps.  For those of you not familiar with XL5—and I’d wager that’s pretty much all of you—the premise is that Colonel Steve Zodiac and his crew patrol space to protect Earth from native and alien villains.

Fireball XL5 was created in 1962 by Gerry Anderson who also created Thunderbirds (1965),  Space 1999 (1975) and several other shows.  Thunderbirds was remade in 2004 as a full-length feature movie based on Anderson’s series.  There is a simplicity to XL5 that only a child can appreciate.  To move about in outer space requires only a thruster pack and some oxygen pills.  (No worries about extreme temperatures or that whole vacuum thing.)  The same mental abilities that allow a 5 year-old to turn a cardboard box into a medieval castle automatically edits the clearly visible strings and renders the jerky movements of the marionettes into something completely believable.  Colonel Zodiac was aided in his missions by Venus, the ship’s doctor, Robert the (transparent) Robot and Professor Matthew Matic who designed the Fireball series spaceship.

There were some pretty interesting technologies in Fireball XL5.  The ship was launched with the aid of a rocket pack that boosted the XL5 down a mile-long rail, as in the image above.  The ship’s main thrusters fired only at the end of the rail, which culminated in a 40-degree incline.  The nose section, dubbed Fireball Junior, was detachable and capable of landing in areas where Zodiac didn’t want to risk the ship.  (Note the blister just behind Junior where the rest of the ship could be piloted when the nose section was separated.)  At the beginning of every episode Steve Zodiac and Venus could be seen riding hover scooters along the top of XL5 from back to front, then they would descend though an open hatch into the rear compartment of the nose section.

Like any “B” movie and TV show created in the 50’s and 60’s, Fireball XL5 was rife with “space” jargon.  The spaceship was part of the World Space Patrol, headquartered in Space City.  The ship could travel at Space Velocity 7 and was frequently used to thwart space spies.  (Yes, they actually called them space spies.)

Still and all, I wish this show could be taken out of the world of children’s programs and updated for the 21st Century.  Not as corny as the Thunderbirds movie, but not as dramatic as Battlestar Galactica either.  Maybe something in the “gritty adventure” genre like Firefly/Serenity.

Edit: 10 May 2009, I have all 39 episodes on my computer and my iPod.  I know you can’t see me smiling but trust me, I am.