Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Like It Wet, Messy and Black.

It turns out the only fun way to deal with a gloomy day like today is to confront it head on: get out there for a run in torrential rain.  Incidentially, it is also the perfect way to get over a hangover from Sugarland, which, in turn, was the inspiration for the soundtrack of my athletic adventure: a loop of Gimme MoreBeat Goes On and Bossy.  The run was ugly, wet, messy and sexy.  Once every inch of my body was completely drenched I embraced the shittiness of the conditions and focused instead on getting in touch my inner Lindsey, Britney and Madonna.  At the end, when I stopped by the coffee place downstairs to get a doze, Rodney asked:  
"Milk or sugar?"
"I like it black."
"Ohh, you're making my heart beat."
On and on, on the beat goes.. 


One observation on the fallout from the terrorist drama in Mumbai:  not even 24 hours after, India's home minister offers his resignation.  Compare that with a certain senator who has the audacity to run for reelection despite being convicted of 7 felony charges, or a certain ex-director of FEMA who stepped two weeks after majestically mismanaging the government's response to hurricane Katrina - and the publication of his ridiculous email exchanges thereabout.  Totally different political culture.

Shubha Prabhaat!

A view that makes you want to go back to bed and spend the rest of the day right there, maybe, eventually, slowly move to the living room to see what the talking heads have to say about the mess we're in.  Oh, Donna Brazile has a new show on CNN.  Remember her?  The forever undecided/uncommitted/spineless superdelegate from the democratic primaries who milked milked milked the election?  Good, because we need another moderator to observe the new administration appointments and ask insightful and original questions like "What is with all the Clinton people?  What happened to change?"  Thank God for those who see that non sense narrative and confront it head on.  Anyway, good morning, Hindi edition.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Gode Morweninge!

The tree is up, decorated and revealed!  The countdown to Depression Christmas has started!  Good post-T-day morning, Middle English edition.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


If I had a few million dollars to spare I would put this on every TV network in America.  Where can we find a gay T Boone Pickens?

Angel-Headed Hipster on My Mind

The best live-action mainstream American movie that I have seen this year...  Harvey Milk was an intriguing, inspiring figure. “Milk” is a marvel.
Quite a rave from A. O. Scott.  Christopher Orr over at TNR's Plank, while liking the movie, makes the following criticism:
So why did the movie leave me so cold? Largely, I suppose, it is a question of belatedness. Milk was murdered 30 years ago. The exceptional The Times of Harvey Milk won the Oscar for Best Documentary 24 years ago. The Dead Kennedys recorded their Dan White-themed "I Fought the Law (and I Won)" 21 years ago. Yet, all this time later, after the world has shifted under our feet, Hollywood wants us to applaud its courage for finally--finally--telling this story? Really? I can't help but think there will be something cheap about the inevitable Oscar nominations (and probable victories) with which the movie industry will advertise its moral elevation come February.
Good point.  Regardless, I can't wait to see it tonight.

Dobro Utro!

Sunrise in midtown, for a change.  Here's a special good morning to my Bulgarian friends especially that one I haven't heard from in a while - until last night! 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bye Peter.

I have very mixed feelings about seeing one of the smartest people in the government leave his bipartisan post to join the Obama government - excited that he was tapped for the cabinet; sad that he will likely not be allowed to communicate via a blog.  OK maybe 98% happy for him, 1% jealous and 1% inspired.  The man got his PhD 11 years ago, now he's in the cabinet.  

Quite seriously though, in the last few years, the intellectual void in DC was quite apparent; meetings and lectures with Peter Orszag were the rare exception.  

[thx EzraK]

Thanks Cindy.

Based on the evidence presented from experts from all over this country and abroad, it is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person’s ability to parent. Sexual orientation no more leads to psychiatric disorders, alcohol and substance abuse, relationship instability, a lower life expectancy or sexual disorders than race, gender, socioeconomic class or any other demographic characteristic. Qualities indicative of good parenting include attentiveness, involvement in a child’s educational development, the ability to sooth, offer comfort, advice and a secure base for a child, the provision of resources and maintaining a warm, harmonious environment. The most important factor in ensuring a well adjusted child is the quality of parenting.

Similarly, a child in need of love, safety and stability does not first consider the sexual orientation of his parent. More importantly, sexual orientation, solely, should not interfere with a child’s right to enjoy the accoutrements of a legal family. John and James, due to no fault of their own, were removed from an environment perilous to their physical, emotional and educational well being. Their biological parents relinquished them to the State, which in turn placed them into an environment that allowed them, eventually, to heal, and now flourish.

The quality and breadth of research available, as well as the results of the studies performed about gay parenting and children of gay parents, is robust and has provided the basis for a consensus in the field. Many well renowned, regarded and respected professionals have reduced methodologically sound longitudinal and cross-sectional studies into hundreds of reports. Some of the longitudinal studies have tracked children for six, ten and fourteen years. The starting ages of the children in the longitudinal studies has varied from birth, six to ten years old and followed them throughout childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. The studies and reports are published in many well respected peer reviewed journals including the Journal of Child Development, the Journal of Family Psychology, the Journal of Child Psychology, and the Journal of Child Psychiatry. Each of the studies and hundreds of reports also withstood the rigorous peer review process and were tested statistically, rationally and methodologically by seasoned professionals prior to publication.

In addition to the volume, the body of research is broad; comparing children raised by lesbian couples to children raised by married heterosexual couples; children raised by lesbian parents from birth to children raised by heterosexual married couples from birth; children raised by single homosexuals to children raised by single heterosexuals; and children adopted by homosexual parents to those raised by homosexual biological parents, to name a few. These reports and studies find that there are no differences in the parenting of homosexuals or the adjustment of their children. These conclusions have been accepted, adopted and ratified by the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatry Association, the American Pediatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Child Welfare League of America and the National Association of Social Workers. As a result, based on the robust nature of the evidence available in the field, this Court is satisfied that the issue is so far beyond dispute that it would be irrational to hold otherwise; the best interests of children are not preserved by prohibiting homosexual adoption.
Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman, Nov 25, 2008, judgement in the matter of the adoption of John Doe and James Doe.

Photo: Frank Gill holds one of the foster children he is caring for. CARL JUSTE/MIAMI HERALD STAFF

PS. On the Miami Herald site, a web vote: Do you agree with the ruling? 86% yes; 457 votes.

Not A Landslide.

Going back to my bad prediction, if the financial crisis hadn’t taken place at the moment that it did, if it had been delayed a couple of months, I suspect that prediction would have been correct. But not speculating, one thing surprising about the election was that it wasn’t a landslide. By the usual criteria, you would expect the opposition party to win in a landslide under conditions like the ones that exist today. The incumbent president for eight years was so unpopular that his own party couldn’t mention his name and had to pretend to be opposing his policies. He presided over the worst record for ordinary people in post-war history, in terms of job growth, real wealth and so on. Just about everything the administration was touched just turned into a disaster. [The] country has reached the lowest level of standing in the world that it’s ever had. The economy was tanking. Several recessions are going on. Not just the ones on the front pages, the financial recession. There’s also a recession in the real economy. The productive economy, under circumstances and people know it. So 80% of the population say that the country’s going in the wrong direction. About 80% say the government doesn’t work to the benefit of the people, it works for the few and the special interests. A startling 94% complain that the government doesn’t pay any attention to the public will, and on like that. Under conditions like that, you would expect a landslide to a opposition almost whoever they are. And there wasn’t one.
At the risk of placing this blog to the extreme progressive end of the political spectrum, this speech by Noam Chomsky is worth a read for some dissenting views, a rare thing these days.  In addition to the point above (which I think is an angle that has not been explored enough; somewhat understandably there may not be much popular interest in that), also provides an interesting perspective on the notion that "this could only happen in America", something I (or rather the article I linked to) explored in this entry.
The response for the election was interesting and instructive. It kept pretty much to the soaring rhetoric, to borrow the cliché, that was the major theme of the election. The election was described as an extraordinary display of democracy, a miracle that could only happen in America and on and on. Much more extreme than Europe even than here. There’s some accuracy in that if we keep to the West. So if we keep to the West, yes, it’s probably true. That couldn’t have happened anywhere else. Europe was much more racist than the United States and you wouldn’t expect anything like that to happen.  On the other hand, if you look at the world, it’s not that remarkable.
Go read what he's talking about, including some thoughts on the first Obama appointments.


If only it were 45 celsius and it would be like a Mediterranean summer.  Alas, no.  Good morning, Greek edition.  

Monday, November 24, 2008


Ezra Klein has a good post up about surgical robots,  a topic I have briefly touched on here with a similar general conclusion.

Writing and thinking about robots has reminded me of a good piece of trivia - the origin of the word robot.  It was introduced by a Czech writer Karel Čapek in a play RUR.  It is derived from the Czech work "robota", which means "labor".  Incidentially, anyone remotely interested in science fiction should read his books RUR and War with the Newts if only to see how much of the current science fiction was concieved as early as 1920.

Monday Morning Kristolism.

Economists still do have considerable sway in our public life — even though it doesn’t seem that a large number of them have been particularly prescient in warning about, or strikingly persuasive in explaining, the current economic situation ...

... After all, wasn’t it excessive confidence in complex economic models and sophisticated financial instruments on the part of people well educated in modern economics that helped get us into the current mess?

So I hope the best and the brightest who will be joining the new president will at least entertain the possibility that a lot of what they think they know is wrong. 
Kristol blaiming the crisis on the science of economics is like an obese person blaming gastronomy for being fat.  What discipline, pray tell, do you think we should be relying on to find the answers?  Astrology?  No wait, I kind of understand.  When I was about 7, I asked my mom, a chemist, whether she felt guilty about being a chemist.  The environment, afterall, was getting crappy because all sorts of chemicals that humans produce.  It seemed logical that chemistry should be blamed for something like that.  Makes sense, right?  Yes, to a 7-year old, for sure.

Besides, quite a few economists (Roubini, among others) were predicting the worst, but noone was listening, most crucially not the government (which Kristol has yet to put any blame on whatsoever).  So yes, the new government should entertain the possibility that a lot of what they think they know is wrong.  Every government should, whether there is a crisis or not.  Constantly questioning and testing yourself is the cornerstone of critical thinking and allowing for dissenting views if the key attribute for effective and sustainable governance.  It is also the sort of thing that has been particularly absent during the last 8 years, so coming from the head cheerleader of the present administration this sort of "advice" is not just superfluous and disingenuous.  It is also further evidence that this man is overdue for replacement.

Góðan Daginn!

Hello Zero.  Incidentially, that is also what Citigroup stock would be worth today, if it weren't for the magical powers of the US government.  Good morning, Icelandic edition.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Yesterday Andrew Sullivan posted a passionate response to a WaPo column by Benjamin Wittes on Guantanamo.  This part, in particular, struck something in me:
Once that force is unleashed - and it is pure evil - it is almost impossible to stop it destroying your entire system of government. Maybe Europeans like me, who grew up in a land where torture was practiced by government widely in the distant past, and had that history dinned into us, understand this more acutely than those who have never known anything but a New World. But trust us Old Worlders passionate about the New: America and torture are mutually exclusive as ideas and realities. You can have one or the other. You cannot have both.
Like Sullivan I grew up in a land that practiced torture of all sorts routinely until it was forced to dismantle only 19 years ago.  I was young when the regime changed but the stories of the government's practices basically defined my formative years, so I also have a pretty black-and-white view on the issue.

However, I think there is a greater problem, in addition to lack of perspective on the slippery slope nature of torture, and it's called 24 - the TV show - and what it stands for.  Namely, since 9/11 the notion that torture under some circumstances is necessary has been widely popularized.   Not surprisingly, I am not the first one to make a link between the two: see articles on the topic in the New Yorker and the Nation.   

Tuna Sandwiches.

I go into restaurants and I look around. I want to come up to people and say, "You shouldn't be here. You should be home having tuna sandwiches. What are you doing here? Don't you understand?"  There is a storm coming, OK, and it hasn't hit yet.  And I believe the decisions made, possibly in these next two months, could determine the next four years. This administration could be over before it starts -- over in the sense that it will spend the next four years digging out of a hole that has been created right now, that may be deeper and darker than anyone realizes.
Thomas Friedman on Fareed Zakaria's GPS

Ohayo Gozaimasu!

Good super late Saturday morning, Japanese edition.  Another deceptively sunny morning.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sabah El-Khayr!

Good sunny Saturday morning, Arabic edition.  I got fooled by the sun and went running without my gloves and my hands are still so numb that I could barely press the shutter on the camera.

Friday, November 21, 2008

TGIF, Really.

I have refrained from writing about work and the market because (a) I have been way more focused on the election and then Prop 8 activism, (b) I realize how repetitive and boring it must be when I complain about work;  however, this week reached a new low.  Namely, the lowest since 1997.  Just thinking about what that means makes my brain freeze:  We have rewound 11 years; all the value that has been created since then has been destroyed.  

Weirdly, work events where I run into other finance types have become strangely comforting.  Today I was at an investor day and while everyone was depressed beyond reason, there was an odd sense of community:  everyone is doing shitty, we have all been run over this year, we all feel like nothing makes sense anymore; we are in it .. together.  That may sound cheesy, but to explain the context, these encouters are typically displays of gigantic egos too large to fit in the same room, let alone the same building.  These days, all the egos are so deflated that people have actually become civil and somehow more likable.  So I guess the road to depression has a few bright spots.

Blue-State Fox.

"I think—you know, I pay very close attention to what the independent media are saying and what bloggers and others are saying, and I think what—a sort of disturbing trend is that we have sort of blue-state Fox emerging, where people are, you know, sort of treating Obama in a different way than they would treat Bush or anyone else in power. And I think—remember, when Bush first took power, there was a tremendous outcry over all of these old Reagan hands that were being brought back in and the neoconservatives and others.   I mean, I think the time is now to call the question on the involvement of some of these people, that this is the precise moment when this kind of journalism matters, when we have to remind people of the history and the previous policies implemented by the people that are at the center of Obama’s foreign policy team right now, because we’re going to be living with these people for the next four years running the show. And I think it’s incredibly important to be all over this right now, before they’re named."
Abso-freaking-lutely.  Jeremy Scahill on Democracy Now!, his piece on the topic here.  Incidentially, their review of potential Treasury Secretary suspects, here, is pretty critical of Geithner, who seems to be getting the job:  
Geithner, I think, yeah, maybe he would be marginally better, but if you look at the deal he initially did with Bear Stearns and JPMorgan, there are a lot of critics of that who say he was had. He was negotiating with Jamie Dimon, who sits on the board of the New York Federal Reserve Bank along with Geithner. And he’s—Geithner is considered to have been hoodwinked in that deal, because the New York Federal Reserve ended up mainly getting worthless subprime mortgage securities in return as collateral for the nearly $30 billion it put up. It’s already recorded a paper loss of $2.7 billion. And he outsourced the management of the collateral to BlackRock. Now, it’s probably just a coincidence that also as part of the—one of Geithner’s main advisers is John Thain, who was CEO of Merrill Lynch before it was swallowed up by Bank of America, and it’s probably just a coincidence that Merrill Lynch owns a 49 percent stake in BlackRock. And what this really represents is, you know, the old boy network. The Federal Reserve Banks are in many ways just Wall Street clubs. And so, I think Geithner himself would not be that good of an appointment, you know.
Well, at least he's good looking.


Thirty.  TGIF.  Good morning, Cherokee edition.  Starting the day at the Mandarin Oriental..

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Not That Special, After All.

"Americans, indulging this month in our national pastime of unparalleled exceptionalism, need to rejoin the reality-based community. Pride is one thing. But telling ourselves that the Obama story could only happen in our country, in our time? That's hooey."
Good article over at Slate

Goeie môre!

Yes, I overslept.  Good morning, Afrikaans edition.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Back 2 Court.

Good news from the Golden State: the Supreme Court will hear the legal challenges to Prop 8.  Unlike Sullivan, I think this is important.  Not only does it sound intuitively wrong to me that a simple majority should be able to take a vote on the issue of the rights of a minority group.  It is also a legitimate constitutional issue and a matter that is at the core of the American form of democracy.  Those who claim that issues like this should not be decided by the courts ignore the fact that this is precisely the point of a constitutional democracy: to have a framework and mechanisms in place to ensure that certain fundamental principles are maintained no matter what the majority thinks.    

I just hope that this does not deflate the movement that has formed since the passage of Prop 8 or diminish the urgency of having Federal marriage equality legislature passed. Speaking of which, see here for the Queerty guide to Obama's gay rights agenda. 


"Here is the difference. Bull Connor was hosing people down in the streets of Alabama. John Lewis got his skull cracked on the Selma bridge."
Mike Huckabee on the View, explaining that the gays have not been physically assaulted enough to be comparable to the Civil Rights Movement, via Towleroad.  More STFU here

Dobré Ráno!

It's official.  Minus.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It Could Be Worse.

At least we're not Ukraine.  

"Only 15% of the population are supportive of the existence of gay couples."



When asked about his perspective on social issues—gay marriage, abortion—Prince tapped his Bible and said, “God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was, like, ‘Enough.’ ”

The author of "Sexy Motherfucker" and "Get Off" via New Yorker

"Look, I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment. I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it. I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion."

Newt Gingrich via Queerty.

“We are a professional Army and professional units don’t conceal their identity by wearing masks.  He expressed appreciation for the service and sacrifice of the interpreters but said those dissatisfied with the new policy ‘can seek alternative employment.’”

Lieutenant Colonel Steve Stover, a military spokesman on the US military banning Iraqis from  wearing masks, via George Packer.  Packer's phenomenal report on Iraqis who work for the US military here.  

More STFU here.

Guten Morgen.

Not freezing, yet.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What Now?

For those interested in knowing what to now that Join the Impact has come and gone, here's what:

1. From the creators of Join the Impact comes Day Without A Gay.  Call in gay on Dec 10th!

2. From the screenwriter of Milk, Dustin Lance Black, and one of Harvey Milk's friends, Cleve Jones, comes the 7 weeks to equality campaign: "We call on all supporters of equality to sustain and intensify the nationwide campaign of mass protests and non-violent civil disobedience, for seven weeks, starting on November 27, 2008, the thirtieth anniversary of the assassination of Harvey Milk, and to then gather together in mass, from all corners of our country, in Washington, DC on the morning of Tuesday, January 20, 2009, to honor the inauguration of our President, Barack Obama."  What I particularly like about their initiative is the redirection of efforts towards the Federal government, as opposed to piecemeal state-by-state approaches.

I will keep me eye out for other campaigns, initiatives and protests.

Velvet Revolution.

I have been so consumed with the Prop 8 protests that I almost forgot about the anniversary of another protest almost 20 years ago, on November 17th, 1989, which started the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia that ultimately led to the overturning of the 40+ year old Communist regime.  I was 8 years old so I did not have a very good understanding of what was going on but I clearly remember the level of excitement and anxiety in the air.  Just reading about the events here is giving me goose bumps.  

The Socialist Union of Youth (SSM/SZM, proxy of Communist Party of Czechoslovakia) organized a mass demonstration to commemorate International Students Day (the 50th anniversary of death of Jan Opletal, a Czech student murdered by the German occupiers during World War II). Most members of SSM had privately been in opposition to the Communist leadership, but had been afraid of speaking up for fear of persecution. This demonstration gave average students an opportunity to join others and express their opinions without fear. By 16:00, about 15,000 people had joined the demonstration. They walked to Opletal's grave and - after the official end of the march - continued into downtown Prague (map), carrying banners and chanting anti-Communist slogans. At about 19:30, the demonstrators were stopped by a cordon of riot police at Národní Street. They had blocked all escape routes and beat the students. .. (on Nov 25th) The number of participants in the regular anti-governmental demonstration in Prague reached an estimated 800,000 people.
I was reminded of that electric feeling a few times in the last two weeks, first the night of Nov 4th and then during the two gay rights demonstrations last week.  

The interesting thing about the Velvet Revolution is that the protests on Nov 17th, 1989, were not the first time people demonstrated against the communist regime.  The first such event and an important step toward dismantling the regime, was the Candle Demonstration on in March of '88, which was - get this - organized by Roman Catholic groups asking for religious freedom in Slovakia.  How ironic that since then, the Christians in Slovakia have evolved from one of the key persecuted groups to the staunchest opponent of another group with the same predicament during communism, the gays.  Sympathy, it turns out, is not a particularly logical or viable disposition.

007 is soooo '07.

A rare PLAY post for once after watching the new Bond movie, inspired not by the qualities of the movie (which there are surprisingly quite a few) but by the context in which it is taking place and the fact that by the time the movie hit the screens, it is already outdated.  Consider the following references: expensive oil; green energy; a bribe executed in Euros, because "the dollar is not what it used to be."  Clearly, the screenplay was conceived in 2007 and early 2008; by now it feels strangely nostalgic that 6 months ago, those were our concerns.

Monday Morning Kristolism.

Republicans and conservatives today face a similar challenge to that of 1976. A hawkish foreign policy, social conservatism and middle-American populism aren’t the problems. Those elements, as embodied on the Republican ticket by John McCain and Sarah Palin, produced a respectable 46 percent of the national vote — in the midst of an economic meltdown, with the Bush administration flailing and House Republicans rebelling and the Republican ticket lacking any coherent economic message... 
... I don’t see why conservatives ought to defend a system that permits securitizing mortgages (or car loans) in a way that seems to make the lenders almost unaccountable for the risk while spreading it, toxically, everywhere else. I don’t see why a commitment to free markets requires permitting banks or bank-like institutions to leverage their assets at 30 to 1. There’s nothing conservative about letting free markets degenerate into something close to Karl Marx’s vision of an atomizing, irresponsible and self-devouring capitalism.
Actually, both relatively reasonable statements.  I agree with the former in the sense that Obama's victory should not be over-interpreted as a dramatic seismic shift in the electorate since it took the trifecta of an epic meltdown in the financial markets, historically low approval ratings of the incumbent and Caribou Barbie.  As for the latter quote, that is something I would expect from Krugman, not from one the most vocal conservative commentators.  Ah, how things are changing.  Column here.

Good Morning NYC!

37F.  What a troubling way to start the day.  Uugh.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Join The Impact NYC Protest

Just had to lead off with a flag picture, like I did last time.  After a stormy morning, the sky opened up just in time for a gay protest.  Go figure.

The whole set is here

Friday, November 14, 2008

More Savage, Better and Sharper Than Ever.

CNN surprisingly pulled in Dan Savage for tonight's debate on Larry King Live moderated by Joy Behar and he kicked some serious bigoted ass: Rev. Harry Jackson and Rev. Jim Garlow.  On his side they also had San Fran major Newsom.  They originally advertised Cynthia Nixon who ended up being included via a pre-recorded interview (and was so eloquent and charming, btw, it made miss Sex and the City for a quick second) so I'm guessing Savage was a replacement for her.  But, oh, did he do good.  Unlike in his previous CNN appearance, he was more collected and sharper.  

After 40 minutes of back and forth, it was clear that there is no argument that the proponents of Prop 8 can bring that is not easily refutable (sanctity of marriage; tradition; majority rule); what is more complicated, even for Dan, is responding to the accusations of hostile behavior and rhetoric by the gay demonstrators towards members of that church and black people.  Faced with a logical refutal of the non-sensical arguments, anti-marriage folks are quick to point that out.  This is troubling and there has to be some sort of response to set the record straight.  HRC or LAMBDA or some other well funded organization should launch a nationwide campaign to clarify that this isn't an issue of race and it isn't an issue of religion.  It's an issue of basic human decency and that is not a zero sum game.

NYT, Where's the Love?

After the protest on Wednesday it felt like we were making history when on a random weeknight several thousand people (anywhere between 4,000 and 10,000, it seems) gathered and marched down Broadway from the Mormon temple by Lincoln Center to Columbus Circle.  It seemed big enough to get some sort of mention in the New York Times, so last night I looked through the print edition of the paper to find nothing.  What gives, NYT?  Don't feel the need to cover the protest of a big portion of your readership that is making national headlines elsewhere?

Shoutout to CNN, which has been dedicating some serious airtime to the issue (on AC360, among others).  Tonight at 9pm, Larry King Live is fully dedicated to a same-sex marriage debate: "Same-sex marriage! Voters in California banned it -- now the backlash! Joy Behar, Cynthia Nixon, Pete Wentz, Mayor Gavin Newsom, Rev. Jim Garlow and others debate the pros, the cons, and what happens next in the fight over Proposition 8!"  

In case you don't know who Jim Garlow is and the "Rev." isn't clue enough (I was secretly hoping it's some excommunicated Reverend, but no such luck):
"We’re watching California and the vote on marriage. Because if you fail there to stop it, if you fail to stop it, what will be unleashed across the world will be a spirit worse than radical Islam."
Will Joy, Cynthia and Pete tear him to shreds first, or just eat him alive?


Inspired by the insanely wise Surowiecky with some finishing touches by hopefully-soon-to-be-contributor Brian, I decided to start a new feature here, Shut the Fuck Up, to call out things that should have stayed unsaid.  

From yesterday, there is the W speech at the Manhattan Institute that enraged Surowiecky, demonstrating both the gift of relentless denial and reminding us just how excruciating the next 70 days could be; some good highlights from Felix Salomon here

The day before, just as the gays were protesting and marching for that silly thing known are equal rights, Elton John chimes in from Cipriani on Wall Street to tell us we are "putting people off" and that we should settle for civil unions.  Thanks, John, but separate is really not equal.  

Finally there is Sarah Palin who deserves an STFU not for anything she is saying in particular (though there's plenty there, too), but because of her apparently unstoppable efflux of media appearances.  Jon Stewart does a good round up.  Is one week without her too much to ask for?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Savages Everywhere.

Can't not point out that the world has seemingly exploded with Dan Savage, which is awesome.  The guy is hard at work speaking out for our rights.  His segment on Colbert was hilarious, which isn't always the outcome no matter how good and witty an interviewee you are, given Colbert's slippery slope of ironic sarcasm.  The appearance on AC360 side-by-side with Tony Perkins, the personification of everything that is wrong with the Christian church, was much more heated and I felt aweful for him.  A funny post about those 2 appearances here.  Then there was his piece yesterday in the Times and his appearance at the protest last night.  Finally, a great post yesterday explaining why it took us until after Prop 8 was approved to get all riled up.  Props to Dan!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Tonight's protest in front of the Mormon temple at Lincoln Center was a success by many measures.  The attendance was enormous, some 4,000 people in front of the temple according to ABC and many more by my estimate, as people were joining in as the protest marched from the temple down Broadway and ended at Columbus Circle.  It wasn't just well attended, it seemed to be widely attended.  I spotted familiar strangers from many contexts and each one of us ran into multiple friends.  It felt like everyone who could be there tonight was there.  It was peaceful, without any big hiccups or problems with the police.  

Up next: Saturday's Join the Impact nationwide protest.

Here's how we started in front of the temple:

Walking down Broadway:

At Columbus Circle, at the end of the protest.  People were hanging around for a long time.  It was quite a sight.

The award for the cutest dad/son goes to:

For the full set, click here.  For a great set from someone who clearly knows much better what they're doing with the camera, see here


We are about to make history for the second time in a month.  The first time was last Tuesday, with the election of the first African-American president.  The second historic moment is the protests happening all around California and now one coming to a city hall near you at 1:30pm EST this Saturday.  Read about the genesis of the explosive grass-roots movement here.  Many commentators are detecting something big is happening: see examples here, here and here.  

Visibility is what we need and visibility is what we're getting: among others today's op-ed in NYTimes by Savage, special comment by Keith Olbermann, Judge Judy, Joy Behar subbing for Larry King on Friday.

I am still not exactly sure what the end game is here or what can be achieved in the near term, but people getting up to take a stand in massive numbers is an accomplishment enough.  See you at the Mormon Temple tonight.  Whoopi will be there.  Please please please, be civil

PS.  This is my 100th post on EatReadPlay, so here's a little cheer to that!

Monday, November 10, 2008


Last night I hosted a little movie night to watch The Times of Harvey Milk.  It was something we planned with my friends Brian and Bryan a few weeks back during our hiking trip, I think originally as an outgrowth of a conversation about the upcoming movie Milk based on the life of San Francisco's openly gay supervisor Harvey Milk.  Even though it wasn't the original intent, it turned out extremely timely due to the passage of Prop 8.  It was amazing how so much hasn't changed since the 70s.  But it was also incredible to see how passive we have become, relatively speaking.  I was already fired up about trying to do something about Prop 8 but after watching the documentary, I am on fire.  

The day after the election, I expressed my hope that Obama in the White House could be a good sign for gay marriage, and two friends reacted:

"He's not going to advocate for gay marriage. He's just not going to get in the way of it. I doubt it'll be on the Dem Congress' plate either. No one is gonna want to touch it."

"Yeah, everyone's going to want to avoid 2010 being another mandate-squandering 1994. We're years from further meaningful gay rights legislation at a national level."

Even though I don't necessarily disagree with those conclusions, it dawned on me yesterday that if we ever want to see some progress with gay rights, we have to stop giving up so easily before even fighting for them.  It's really a horrible vicious circle.  Surrender feeds inaction, inaction feeds stagnancy, stagnancy feeds surrender.  In reality, no progress can be done without reaching for things that are seemingly unreachable.  The vicious circle needs to be broken.

With that in mind, I am planning to attend the protest at the Mormon church on Wednesday and the City Hall protests on Saturday and I am encouraging everyone to do so.  We are not going to overturn Prop 8, but it is about time we took a stand.  

Monday Morning Kristolism.

Democrats are getting ready to take control of every branch of the government and Bush is all but ready to flee the White House and start working on his autobio comic book.  But don't despair - that does not stop neocon wisdom of Bill Kristol setting liberals' heart rates to healthy elevated levels every Monday morning.  Consider this desperately cynical nugget, with regards to what Obama said about the dog:
Here, in a few sentences, Obama did the following: He deepened his bond with every dog lover in America. He identified with every household that’s tried to figure out what kind of dog to get. He touched every parent with a kid allergic to pets. He showed compassion by preferring a dog from a shelter. And he demonstrated a dry and slightly politically incorrect wit by commenting that “a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me.” Not bad. It could be a tough four or eight years for conservatives.
What a strange scary place his mind must be, where discussing a dog is automatically assessed as a strategic political move.  Either way, it is good to know what truly moves Kristol.  On a related note, he concludes with the following:
And it wouldn’t hurt for Governors Sarah Palin, Mitch Daniels, Bobby Jindal and the other possible 2012 G.O.P. nominees to begin bringing some puppies home for their kids.
Spare the poor dog, she is not even a remote possibility.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Rainy Saturday Drop of Cheesiness.

The stages of a relationship can be defined by farting.  Stage one is the "conspiracy of silence."  This is a fantasy period where both parties pretend that they have no bodily waste.  This illusion is very quickly shattered by the first shy "ouuh, did you fart?" followed by the sheepish admission of truth.  This heralds a period of deeper intimacy, a period I like to call the "fart honeymoon," where both parties find each others gas just the cutest thing in the world.  But of course, no honeymoon can last forever.  And so we reach the critical "fork in the fart."  Either the fart loses its power to amuse and embarras, thereby signifying true love, or else it begins to annoy and disgust, thereby symbolizing all that is blocked and rancid in the formerly beloved.  Do you see what I'm getting at?

Love and Other Disasters, 2006.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Voting Your Pocketbook.. And Other Election Myths.

Having some fun with the CNN exit polls.  

If anyone tells you that:

Rich people vote Republican - tell them that 52% of those earnings over $200K/yr voted for Obama, versus 46% for McCain.  To put this in perspective, for someone earning $250K/yr, this is a difference of $10K in after-tax income.  Turns out, above some income level, people are quite fine with spreading the wealth around.  

Gays vote Democrat - they do but not as overwhlemingly as one would expect: 27% of them voted for McCain.  I can only guess this was because neither one of the candidates had a strong vocal position on the gays either way.

Clinton would not have done as well as Obama did - quite the opposite.  52% of those polled would have voted for her and 5% wouldn't have voted at all, effectively giving her 56% of the vote, or a 12% lead over McCain.  I am guessing this stat is duly noted by Hillary.

Mutt Like Me.

"With respect to the dog, this is a major issue. I think it's generated more interest on our website than just about anything. We have -- we have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypo-allergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypo-allergenic. On the other hand, our preference would be to get a shelter dog. But obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts, like me. So the -- so, whether we're going to be able to balance those two things, I think, is a pressing issue on the Obama household."  President-elect Barack Obama in his first press conference.  

OK, I'm rapidly developing a crush.


The argument I was making about McCain's loss implicitly in this chart and more explicitly in this entry is echoed by WaPo's Krauthammer today:   
In my previous life, I witnessed far more difficult postmortems. This one is easy. The patient was fatally stricken on Sept. 15 -- caught in the rubble when the roof fell in (at Lehman Brothers, according to the police report) -- although he did linger until his final, rather quiet demise on Nov. 4.  In the excitement and decisiveness of Barack Obama's victory, we forget that in the first weeks of September, John McCain was actually ahead. Then Lehman collapsed, and the financial system went off a cliff.
The column proceeds to point out the non-exogenous factors, ie the mistakes that McCain made:  suspending the campaign and the Palin pick.  Indeed, the chart supports that - note the uptick in Obama "shares" on September 26th.

Just something to consider as we are making conclusions about what Obama's victory says about the American spirit, American democracy, American dream or any other noble power people seem to be invoking these days.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Fall to Remember

Click to see legibly:

How it all happened:  Intrade prediction market for odds of Obama's presidency, overlayed with key economic and campaign events.  

Everyone can make their own conclusions, but one thing is for sure: what an eventful 2 month period!

ps.  Please comment if you can think of major events I am missing on the chart.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Congrats America, well done.  

I really did not think it was possible.  During the primaries I was rooting for Hillary, among other reasons because I thought a black candidate would be fighting a tough battle against racial prejudice in the national election.  Thankfully, I was wrong.  

Like many, I am so relieved and excited.  But unlike many commentators, I do not believe the outcome shows race is no longer an issue in America.  Had the election taken place in September, before the financial meltdown and a broad set of McCain missteps, it would have probably gone the other way and the current discourse would have been the exact opposite.  However, it is comforting, that faced with rather gloomy circumstances, many people were able to, at least temporarily, overcome their prejudice.  In the end, it may not matter how it happened; beliefs often follow actions, the outcome is what matters.  

Unfortunately, those positive feelings are largely eclipsed by bitterness over the outcome of Proposition 8.  It's so insanely depressing that even in California there isn't enough popular support for it.  It's one thing not to allow gay marriage.  It's another thing to actually take it away.  That really hurts.  The sheer craziness of it hits me when I think of how the couples who have already wedded must feel - what a brutal intrusion of their very private, family life.  And it really makes me think:  democracy is a wonderful thing, but where do we draw the line?  Where can't we have a simple majority dictate and enforce their rules on us?  That argument, it turns out, has some basis in the legal system, thank God, and it is on that basis that some groups are challenging Prop 8 in courts.  See this Sullivan entry for some background.  

Unlike Sullivan, I am enthusiastic about the prospect of litigating this like there is no tomorrow.  I want to sue up to the highest levels of the judicial system. I want this to make news as much as possible.  I want people everywhere to be constantly reminded of this grave ridiculousness.  Why should we be educating people about our rights?  Why should we be begging for someone's acceptance?  As I said earlier in this entry, sometimes beliefs follow actions; other times beliefs follow law.  We did not wait for slave owners to start appreciating the slaves' human rights.  We did not wait for popular support to legalize miscegenation.  And we are not going to wait for the majority to accept that we deserve the right to marry.  We're just fucking not.  A line has to be drawn somewhere.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Even though I don't run marathons anymore, I can still appreciate how tough they are.  When you watch at mile 24, some of the stuff you see is downright jaw-dropping.  Most people, even those with the most intense training, are at a point where their bodies are running on sheer will.  It's no longer about physics or strength or nutrition.  It's pure determination.  In the pic above, my teammates from Frontrunners New York, Kelsey and Chris.  Kelsey is pacing Chris for a sub-3 hour marathon.  They finished at 2:59:31 .. amazing.

Another notable phenomenon worth mentioning was people running with Obama pictures on their shirts.  I bet that those will look quite funny a decade from now.  "OMG, dad! You ran the marathon with Obama on your T shirt?"

Then you have the people who may look funny but you know they are going through just as much pain as everyone else.  This guy in particular is not kidding at all - he ran 3:16 yesterday after running 3:08 three weeks earlier in Chicago.

And then there's Peter McGrane.  If there was an inspiration ad featuring him, it would go something like "Peter - making sub-3 marathons look easy since 2008".  This is him on the way to a 2:49 finish, shaving off 5 minutes from his first sub-3 performance in Chicago last month.  

Speaking of Peter, do these arms look familiar?

One thing is for sure: while I may no longer be a marathon runner, at least I got the cross dressing part down this Halloween!