Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding Thoughts...

Well  here is the  photo.   We waited along the Mall with thousands and thousands of  other people after swearing we wouldn't get anywhere  near Central London today.  Yeah, well...   How often does London throw this big of a party?

First the Wedding.  It went off without a hitch.  The weather forecast said it was going to rain.  It didn't.   Anti-monarchist protesters  said they were going to be out in force.  The weren't.   Pundits  said the crowds would be unmanageable and  unruly, and nothing could have been further from the truth.  

 It's hard  not to get caught up in the hype of an event this big.   The global audience  that watched  these two people get married today  was estimated at over  two billion.  Why?

To be honest?  I really am not sure. There are the obvious reasons.  It's a live history lesson..  The British Monarchy  is living history. To steal the quote from the movie  "The Queen"; it is an unbroken line going back over a thousand years. It's hard not be  fascinated watching  this institution change and adapt  to  the  21rst Century.

You can argue the issue of  how ridiculous  the idea of  hereditary  privilege is  in this day and age, and many here in London are.   London's  biggest talk radio station  LBC 97.3 FM, had no shortage of callers on  both sides of this issue.  With the majority of callers expressing  enthusiastic support, for the  Royals, and  what  today's pomp and pageantry  has done for the morale of the whole nation.    But there were other callers who were just adamant in saying they feel it's crazy to keep paying millions of pounds a year to support a group of people who's only qualification is having been born into the Windsor family.

Yet  if you are going to argue  strictly from the perspective of cost, today pretty much killed that argument.    The cost  to the British taxpayer,  (of which I am now one..)  to maintain the Monarchy is around  70 million pounds a year.    Estimates of  how much money this wedding has  generated for the British economy so far is  low-balled around  six hundred million pounds.  Not a bad  ROI. (Return On Investment.)

If nothing else,  I am totally behind anything that gives British composer John Rutter an excuse to compose new music.  His  new piece  "The Anthem"  commissioned  especially for today's ceremony was amazing.

So at least for today, the debate over the merits and costs of a Constitutional Monarchy was put aside.   Billions of people all around the world,  joined  the over one million people in Central London, (including this new Londoner),  in wishing "Wills and Kate"  all the best.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why the "Birthers" Will Never Accept Reality...

Rachel tells it like it is..

Anyone who still is flogging this  issue is either an idiot, a racist  or simply full of shit.

Headline : Cranky Nutjob Soils Adult Diaper Over DOMA...

Ah... Pat Robertson, the comedy gift that keeps on giving. (hat tip to JoeMyGod)

Lets be clear. Pat Robertson is not a Christian. Oh he is very good at claiming to be. But there is very little coming out of his mouth, that bears any relation to the words of Jesus Christ. Pat Robertson's religion is in fact, Pat Robertson. Pat is a dedicated disciple of his own bigotry and opportunism.

Pat Robertson’s one true God is the money and conservative political power, that peddling hatred has earned him over the years.

Lest we forget just how anti-American this lunatic actually is, let's revisit one of his greatest hits. Here with his favorite backup wacko,  Jerry Falwell.  Pat and Jerry  manage to blame everyone but Osama Bin Laden for the attacks of 9-11.

It long past time for this bitter and sadly demented old man to be taken aside, given something soft to chew and put to bed. The only "higher calling" Pat Roberson is interested in serving, is himself.

The ridiculously mis-named "Defense of Marriage Act"  (DOMA),  is an affront to ALL Americans. I love how Conservatives like Robertson love to champion protests against companies like Disney and Apple for the their progressive stances, but when Progressives do the EXACT SAME THING, to protest business that support bigotry and discrimination, that is just "unbelievable".

I am not going to wast time and blog space going through the facts on how EVERYTHING Pat Robertson and his assorted ilk, have said about same sex marriage is a complete lie. If you really want to read through it all, feel free to go here.

I do have hope that eventually the United States will grow up and leave behind the likes of Robertson and his fellow snake-oil salesmen of hate.  In the meantime,   the rest of the Western World still looks at us and shakes it's head.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hear That Odd Popping Sound?

It's the heads "birthers"  exploding all over the United States....

via Talking Points Memo...
Hoping to end a long-running "controversy" over whether he was born in the United States, the White House released President Barack Obama's long-form birth certificate on Wednesday.
"The President believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn't good for the country. It may have been good politics and good TV, but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country," the White House's Dan Pfeiffer wrote in a blog post.
"Therefore, the President directed his counsel to review the legal authority for seeking access to the long form certificate and to request on that basis that the Hawaii State Department of Health make an exception to release a copy of his long form birth certificate," wrote Pfeiffer. "They granted that exception in part because of the tremendous volume of requests they had been getting."
Check out the birth certificate:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Conversation with a "Birther"

Radio Host Michaelangelo Signorile  had a call on  his show  from a man in Alabama who is convinced that  Barack Obama is not an American.   The call is  a stark examination of   how  no facts, no amount of proof, no birth certificate will EVER  satisfy these people.   They are desperate to believe that  the Obama Presidency is the result of some vast  conspiracy.

This call to the show from Winston in Alabama confirms why the birther conspiracy will never go away, a fascinating look at why crazy beliefs endure. Even after all the facts were explained to Winston, and after he appeared to agree that the facts were right, he still held doubts that President Obama was born in this country.

What's clear to me is that birthers have other reasons for which they dislike the president, even hate him -- and some of those reasons are too ugly, perhaps, for them to even admit to themselves. Hence, they cling to this conspiracy even after it's disproved.

Friday, April 22, 2011

London is not ready...

Not by a long shot.
A bit more than a year out from the biggest logistical challenge London has faced since the Battle of Britain, what is painfully clear to even the casual observer is just how "not ready" this city is to host the Olympics.

Tourists tend to praise London's public transit system. Before I lived here I would regularly lament the failings of the Chicago Transit Authority and the San Francisco BART and MUNI systems, wishing they could "be more like the trains in London."

I take it all back.

To the ELevated trains of Chicago's Red Line I humbly beg your forgiveness. To my beloved BART and MUNI trains from SF Civic Center station, I take every sarcastic remark I ever made, chew and swallow them. You are marvels of urban engineering and models of efficiency compared to "the Tube".

I now know why as a visitor, I always thought. London Transport worked so well. For the most part, visitors only really use the tube in Central London (zones 1 or 2).  Also tourists usually are not on trains at Rush Hour. Around 6pm they're at their hotels getting ready to go out to dinner or theaters/clubs in the West End.

London Trains seem to do pretty well if all you need is to get from Earls Court to Leicester Square during off-peak travel times. Beyond that? It's one big game of "signal failure roulette".

Let's pause here for just a moment to address that great all-purpose excuse for any major problem with trains in and around  greater London...

"Signal Failure".

Back in the 1970's on the now legendary British scifi TV show "Doctor Who", whenever actor Jon Pertwee couldn't pronounce a particularly technical phrase in the script; he'd substitute the phrase "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow", in place of whatever it was he didn't want to try to say.

I'm convinced "signal failure" is London Transport's version of this. I moved to London on April 8th, and EVERY DAY I have been here, there has been an announcement of "signal failure" at one or more points on the Train System.

So as stand writing this on my blackberry in the stifling heat of yet another idled Jubilee line train; I can't help but pose the question:

If London can't manage to keep its train running through an average rush hour commute, how on earth will this city cope with the world's biggest sporting event?

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, April 17, 2011

VERY Cool Time-lapse Video

San Francisco to Paris  in  two minutes..   very cool!  (Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan)

SF to Paris in Two Minutes from Beep Show on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

New Chapters....

Hey there folks, 

Well the move is done.  I arrived in London this afternoon and  Eric and I made it home  with all four bags relatively easily.   Its  been an exhausting  and  emotional week.   Leaving  my job at Kaiser Permanente  on Wednesday, and  getting everything  moved out my  San Francisco apartment, sadly didn't leave a lot of time for  goodbye's.  To  all the folks who have emailed  saying;  "What?!?  You've left!"  I am sorry there wasn't any extra time. 
This move would have never  happened on time without help from  some of  the most  amazing people in my life.   My Sister and Brother-in-Law  Leah & Jean Georges Demathieu  were miracle workers helping clear out my apartment.  Also,  I never would have been  ready  and able to move without the help of Rudy Guerrero,  the most amazing friend anyone could ever ask for, who helped haul and lug and carry and  was an amazing  source of morale support through this whole daunting process.
Saying  goodbye  to  San Francisco was very bittersweet.   Finally being able to move  here to London and start the  next chapter of my life  is wonderful,  yet at the same time it is  odd to leave  a city and  people that has been home for  seven years.     
So as my  (now former) co-workers  at  KP  Learning and Development  like to say...  Onwards!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Thank you GOP for restoring my faith in just how crazy you are...

I will admit I have been  somewhat  distracted over the past few weeks as  I have been packing for my move to London.

As a result of having my head in boxes  for the last two weeks, I have not paid close attention to  what has been going on in the newly GOP controlled  House of Representatives.

Which, as it turns out  is a real  pity.  As I have missed what  amounts to comedy gold,  courtesy of the the Teabagging Wingnuts of the  new Republican majority.   The always brilliant  Rachel Maddow  brings us all up to speed on the latest  fun and frolic...

Wow....Just when you think the  well of wingnutty-ness  has run dry,  the GOP rises to the challenge and doubles down on the crazy.  Lets review. shall we?

According to Donald Trump, (yes,  the really bad hair guy, Donald Trump)   President Obama was not born in the US because there are (according to him)  no pictures of  the young Barack Obama prior to age 13.   BARACK OBAMA PICTURES: The early years -  -  Opps.

THEN,  we have  our current involvement in Libya.  Remember back in oh...  say  2002 and 2003  when ANYONE criticized the  war in Iraq,   the  greater Wingnuttia   went berserk with shrieks of  How  DARE you criticize  the Commander-in-Chief in a time of war, you traitorous  America-hating, troop-hating commie bastard! Why do you want the terrorist to WIN?!
Fast forward to  2011,   It now seems  as if our dear  right-wing patriots  are only patriotic  when the GOP holds the  keys to the Oval Office
And now,  we have  the glorious MYTH that somehow the GOP now cares about and is focused on, JOBS.   Hmmm  really?

The Republican Party is now  a very bad, very sad joke.   One silver lining in all this,  is that once the cirque du' insanity that will be the  2012 GOP Presidential Primaries  is over,  America will most likely re-elect Barack Obama with the largest plurality  since  1984, when Ronald Reagan stomped on Walter Mondale like a bug at an exterminator convention.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Ireland Moves Forward... The US? Not So Much....

Amazing  Public Service Announcement currently running in Ireland...

Meanwhile in the United States the ridiculously mis-named hate group "Focus on the Family" is launching a counter campaign that is PRO- bullying and is actually offering cash prizes to anti-gay Christian students who make the best video about how it's totally right to bully, shame, and ostracize gay kids for their sexuality.

According to Focus on the Family Spokes-bigot  Candi Cushman;  
,LGBT groups use bullying prevention to "promote their homosexual agenda, including the idea that homosexuality is normal. Focus on the Family education expert Candi Cushman said that the group is against bullying but that bullying prevention “is being hijacked by activists.” She claims that anti-bullying programs are gay activism in disguise and that these programs conceal their true purpose.

Eliza Byard, Executive Director, of the The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) had this to say about Focus on the Family's opposition to anti-bullying efforts in schools...

Focus on the Family has tried to discredit GLSEN's efforts to make schools safe for all students since our founding in 1990. These most recent attempts show that, once again, Focus on the Family either doesn't know what it is talking about or simply don't care about addressing bullying, or both. The policies we support - which, by the way, include protections for bullying based on religion - have been shown by years of research to make a difference in young people's lives. That is why nearly 70 national education, youth service and civil and human rights organizations endorse the Safe Schools Improvement Act. In terms of LGBT youth, we certainly hope that Focus on the Family agrees that the current environment in which nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students experience harassment each year in school is simply unacceptable. But we won't hold our breath.
The wing nut social conservative Right knows that Anti-bullying efforts are a direct threat to their ability to fund-raise by dehumanizing Gays and Lesbians. Focus on the Family is desperate to get control of the Bullying debate and get control of it FAST. Because, if you say it is wrong that a kid was bullied because they were  gay, you are really saying there is nothing wrong with being Gay; and FOTF has too much invested in their hate, and can never allow that to happen. 
This in spite of the clear evidence that bullying based on sexual orientation was the direct cause of a number of tragic teen suicides across the the United States last year.
These people are insane bigots, They are so filled with hatred for people who don't share their sad twisted anti-American, anti-Constitutional world view, they would seek to stop efforts that could help save kids lives.
This past year, as this...American equivalent of the Taliban obsessed over DEFENDING the bullying to death of Gay Kids, the news was been filled with story after story, of a Gay Teen somewhere in America who was bullied into taking his or her own life.
Focus on the Family has spent millions of dollars saying that Gays and Lesbians are "attacking families" and are out to "destroy traditional marriage", that Gays and Lesbians have a "Radical Agenda" and are a"threat to children". So I am sure the LAST thing Cushman would want to do is have to answer for the impact that her "work" has had in putting the lives of American kids at risk in their own schools, every day.
While the rest of the civilized world continues to move forward  it is hate groups like  Focus on the I mean "family",  that  seek to turn the United States into  a theocratic backwater of hatred and intolerance.