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Agenda Bender
Saturday, October 19, 2002  

Forget Venus

I like haiku. I think that's not allowed. I know a lot of it is mini-kitsch, forvever polishing the same precious stone and repackaging the same precious insight about the sacredness of every frigging moment--cranking out moonglow epiphanies by the yard. But sometimes it really works and when it does there is nothing quite like it. I guess dayku is some other brief poetic from, I know that there are varieties of haiku, disagreement over the real line length pattern and allowable subject matter--so dayku must fit in there somewhere. Again we must thank Blogdex the destroyer for this tip. Really it is sublink from the page Dex listed in their current top 20. That page is funny too.

But this pageis dizzy X dopey X sneezy. It's called Dayku and it is a columnar collection of haikus for peace (or more properly anti-war haikus--doubt they'd accept there is a difference). The link that got my click read dayku: little poems can stop war. So dayku appears to be a subset of haiku with two special characteristics--it has war stopping super powers and it often includes hyperlinks. I don't include all the hyperlinks in my reprints below (too much work) or the author credit. so go to the page for best effect.

Herewith a selection, a child's burqa of dayku, if you will:

The nascent U.S.
peace movement
continues to
build a following.

Thank you Senator
Robert Byrd; on this sad day
you were my hero.

"I offer myself
to Saddam in exchange for
universal peace."

Harken: Yea, Biden:
Yea, Feinstein: Yea, Clinton: Yea,
Rockefeller: Yea...

Wars begin during
football season; Coach Bush is
ready for kickoff.

You do something. Start
anywhere. Do it poorly.
One thing every day.

Forced inspection of
weapons of mass destruction
occurs (in Belgium).

"once out of power
Bush and his friends could become

We close with this mini-epic of misunderstanding and reconciliation. Let it be a lesson for Mr Bush and Mr Hussein. See how it's done?

Say, why no portraits
of women poets for peace
on Dayku's banner?

Dai Ichi says:

You must have missed our
pics of Sappho and the great
Denise Levertov.

And Yoko!

Mea culpa, then!
I guess I came sort of late
to this peace-party.

OK one more, this might be my favorite. I really do like this one.

'Forget about' a
trip to Venus
if we go
to war with Iraq

11:05 AM

Friday, October 18, 2002

Brother Stair Stumbles

Note to the Data Lounge: When running a perfect paste jewelbox story about a small time southern anti-gay christian cultist with a great name who is going down in the flames it is not necessary to further ornament the piece with a higlighted text block that dully intones HOW HEAVY THE PIOUS HYPOCRITE FALLS. Speaking of overweight piety, how heavy the superfluous editorial squib falls. It crushes all the fun inherent in the story:

For more than two decades, evangelical preacher Brother Ralph Gordon Stair, has railed against the sins of sexual deviance...

The charges against him say he "used coercion to accomplish his battery by enforcing his religious [and] personal beliefs with the victims." Stair was also charged with two counts of breach of trust for stealing more than $29,000 from an unnamed man's retirement fund. He was denied bond....

Stair’s community members sell all of their worldly possessions, turn over the proceeds to him and move to Colleton County to live a life of farming and prayer...

The preacher — or as he prefers to be called, "prophet"— sermonizes on numerous AM radio stations across the country...

For years Stair focuses his fire and brimstone sermons against gay men and women. "The last two Gay Pride Days have resulted in an awesome earthquake that shook the entire Western area of the country and a flood that devastated the entire Midwest"...

Stair also derided Catholics as "Mary worshippers" and the pope as "the great whore." For years, he asked people to sell their possessions, leave their cities, and join him in his compound in Canadys, SC. Until his arrest, he had approximately 100 followers living in his community.

10:20 AM

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Our Values, Our Voice

I kinda get Andrew Sullivan's point about the gay baiting ads in the Montana senate race. Yeah, a Republican who used the tactic against a Democrat would have been slammed by all the gay groups and most of the media. But that just means that Democrats are more expert at divining and exploiting anti-gay subtext than Republicans.

Especially Republicans who think the imputation of homosexuality is a loathsome slur. The commercial is still funny and the flyer that Andrew links to today is good for a smile too. I know if someone slipped it under my door it would be the first campaign flyer I read with any real curiosity.

If Mike Taylor had half a clue he would have flown Lady Bunny out to Montana to endorse Max Baucus. If he had a complete clue he would have flown her out to Montana to endorse himself. Her motto, "the higher the hair, the closer to God" would have resonated with the Christian right. You'd think it would have resonated with Mike Taylor too. Back in the day anyway.

Andrew should have looked a little more closely at the Montanans for Clean Campaigns page he links to today. They are playing googoo and condemning the new Baucus flyer as "one of the most destructive political pieces of any campaign in the United States." They also think that Taylor's insulting, anti-gay statement last week was a "moving and emotional public announcement." At the end they tell us "As Montanans we have a responsibility to throw out poor leadership that no longer repsesents our values, our families and our voice. Send a message...Vote for Mike Taylor." Oh.

But it is hard to take their dismay at the tactics of the Baucus campaign seriously when you see these Montanans' version of clean campaigning. At the top of the page is a headline quote that reads "Lies and character assassination are the only way to win a campaign"~ Baucus Campaign Policy Manual*** When you follow those three asterisks down to the bottom of the page you find these smallish words.

*** The "Baucus Campaign Policy Manual is a ficticious manual that been compiled based on reviews of past Baucus campaign activities. This is not an acutal quote but given supporting data, it could be.

The higher the bullshit the closer to God. And their proofreading is as sloppy as their ethics.

11:26 AM



Michelangelo Signorile goes for scalding irony in his latest NY Press column but he's only capable of room temperature sarcasm on his best day. This isn't his best day, you might want to put on a sweater before you follow the link. The piece is headlined I'm With Ashcroft which enables the smarter children to predict how he'll play out the gimmick down to the last clattering joke before even reading the first word. Except that the bright children's imagined column would have been cleverer.

M.S. leads with his avowal that he's with Ashcroft in curtailing civil liberties in this time of crisis and he's willing to cut loose whatever constitutional guarantees the situation demands. At this point even the duller children could finish the column.

You see, as it topsy turvy turns out Signorile has been playing the sly dog all along, he's not talking about limits on free speech or assembly or privacy, no, he would start with the second amendment first--he's talking about guns. At this point even the dead children can calculate how many commas are left in the column.

There is one good joke in the piece but it's metafarcical, so while Signorile is the joke's author he doesn't see it and wouldn't get it. The joke is that Signorile thinks he is being ironic when he says he is with Ashcroft. Just as camp is the lie that tells the truth Signorile is, well, a camper who tells the truth. He is with Ashcroft. The division isn't between people who pick this amendment or that to sacrifice but those who would pick at all and those who would preserve them all. Michelangelo Signorile meet your daddy.

10:09 AM

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Bit Actors

Nick Denton thinks that the power of graphic modeling programs like Poser will leave flesh and blood porn models jobless. It won't. It will foster the creation a credentialing system for real porn, porn featuring certified human beings. So along with the "all models are certified as over 18" you'll start seeing porn footnotes vouching for the reality of the pics. In the same way that Perfect 10 magazine promises its readers it is a silicone/saline free zone. Bit porn will certainly take a big part of the market eventually but that doesn't seem imminent either given the Poser porn on display here (I'm linking the gay bitmodel page but there is important work being done in all the prefs).

At the very least live model porn will always be a significant niche market. The backstory addicted will never be satisfied with rendered flesh (and we're not talking candles here). Also, while bit models are very undemanding and cost almost nothing to feed and unclothe they are lousy at personal appearances in stripper bars. This points to a fallacy in the implied economic argument. The unreal models are created by real people who do need to be paid--both the people who create the poser software and the people who wield that software to create the models. So you've displaced the costs from the models to the creators in bit porn. Except for the always small group of porn superstars the industry doesn't pay its models and actors all that much anyway. A lot of them make much more on the stripper circuit than from the movies and mags too. Not clear to me at all how all this will add up to any in any net savings in the cost of porn production. And wouldn't you rather your grubby porn dollars went to your strung-out real live though distant dreamboy then to the less dreamy potato chip junkie cobbling together a naked Poser Pinnochio?

Then again never underestimate the ability of male human beings to be satisfied by even the most rudimentary sexual imagery. Most guys can get off to stick figure porn in a pinch so this part of the market will be more than happy with bit porn even in its DW Griffith phase.

I always think of the parable of the hard up birds I read in some pop science book. You can fool some male birds into full courtship horny heat by stringing up a laughable mess of feathers with a couple of buttons for eyes. I know the feeling.

10:23 AM

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

I See Gay People

I forgot to note this last week, but it's such a good schematic of Stanley Kurtz's hard wiring that I have to preserve it. First here's Stanley's Corner post from October 6th.

Interesting article at ABC News today about the use of school anti-bullying programs by homosexual activists. Last year we had an effort to eliminate the celebration of Mother’s Day. Now we’re teaching children to avoid terms like girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, or marriage. This is a national battle that is bound to grow.

Now go to the story Stanley is touting.
Then come back here. I don't want to sway you, so take your mind on a trip and do the comparison yourself. Then come on back from sunny West Virginia for my merry exegesis and a funny switchback curve to the story.

WELCOME BACK! I went through your stuff while you were gone. So, notice anything odd about Stanley's version of the story? Like maybe Stanley's contention that the article is "about the use of school anti-bullying programs by homosexual activists."
Like maybe there are exactly zero "homosexual activists" in the story? Like maybe the entire gist of the piece is the effort by anti-homosexual activists to keep any mention of homosexuality whatsoever out of the public schools ? It makes me wonder if Stanley is endowed with some Kinsey Scale Sixth Sense so that he and only he can see the absent homosexuals in the story? Or does Stanley just know that the unseen Elders of Urania are working the levers at all times?

Stanley is right that urging the avoidance of the words "girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, or marriage" is an absurdity but I wonder if that is even truly being proposed in the guidelines. The bullet points in the story don't appear to be quotes form the manual but second hand characterizations of what's there. In any event, here they are again (or for the first time if you cheated and didn't do your homework and read the ABCnews piece for yourself). The first one is foolish, we don't need teachers doing double duty as billboards for causes of any sort, but the second and fourth are certainly legitimate for older students. Part of the third suggestion is true too, it wouldn't hurt if teachers used the word "partner" now and then. It works for straight relationships too--unless of course it denotes an equality there the that the West Virginia Family Foundation also finds troubling.

+Wear a "LesBiGay positive" button or a T-shirt with a "Straight, But Not Narrow" slogan or a pink triangle

+Tell students not to assume all their classmates are heterosexual, but acknowledge that some students are homosexual and bisexual.

+Avoid using traditional terms such as boyfriend, girlfriend, wife or husband and broaden their language to include "partner, lover, significant other." Teachers are also advised to use "permanent relationship" instead of "marriage."

+Identify the contributions of homosexuals in history, literature, art, science and religion and expand libraries to include books related to sexual diversity.

Sure, full time paid-to-be gays are employed in the sensitivity-industrial complex as are fulltime paid-to-be blacks, females, native americans etc, etc. And yeah, gays try to smuggle thier agendas into the school curriculum under other cover. But so does
everyone else, conservatives most certainly included. This just might be the biggest tent of all--every race, religion, gender, ideology, sexpref, and ethnicity together under the Public School Big Top, trying to whisper instructions to the ring master and the lion tamer. So you've got a mini-car packed with axe grinding clowns (that's where the sparks and smoke shooting out the windows come from) but Stanley only manages to see the homo in the trunk.

And is he really sympathetic to the goals of the anti-gay group featured in the story, The West Virginia Family Foundation? Does he really believe that discussion of the bullying of gay students should be specifically excluded from a program that is meant to address school bullying generally as the WVFF wants:

The project, critics argue, is not needed because the state Legislature has passed anti-bullying measures and West Virginia School State Board has adopted codes of conduct that protect all students from bullying and harassment.

"The fact is the 'project' is really nothing more than hate crimes training for children under the guise of an anti-bullying program," said McCoy. "West Virginia hate crime statute does not include sexual orientation as a protected class, nor is there a federal hate crime statute with this definition. Where does the attorney general obtain his authority to unilaterally implement a political program behind the backs of the citizens of this state?"

Got that? Gays are not a protected class under West Virginia hate crime statute and so gay bashing and bullying can't properly be discussed in any school program set up to address bullying in the schools (I mean we all know that isn't really such a problem anyway--anti-gay epithets and bullying based on gay taunting is such a rarity in schools, right Stan?) How much you want to bet the WVFF is not so literal minded and legislation bound in its other interpretations of what is proper or not in the schools? And where else but here would they argue that the fact "the state Legislature has passed anti-bullying measures" ends the argument entirely and makes such a program superfluous, or even illegal itself. They passed a law don't you know? Again, do they carry this logic over to other moral teaching? I'm assuming the WV legislature has passed laws against murder, rape and robbery too. Best leave any further teaching against them out of the schools too.

But the article is really about homosexual activists hijacking the yellow bus and painting it lavender.

Now for the amusing third act turnabout. If you go to the WVFF site you will see this headline among their recent news items: Successful Anti-Violence Group Accused of Evangelizing 'Unwitting Teens'. The laugh at the end of that link is a press release news story from yesterday lambasting the ADL's campaign against a school anti-violence program called Rage Against Destruction that the ADL says "is masked as an anti-violence initiative to expose 'unwitting teens to an unabashed Christian message'." heheheh ad infinitum

It's probably the gays in the ADL who are behind the smear, eh Stan?

Update: The Lady Eve Tushnet sends a metrical correction. The most important kind. "I've always preferred "Elders of Sodom," Eve writes. "Gets the rhythm right. So to speak." Well as long as we are so-to-speaking, I've always preferred the Youth of Sodom (talk about rhythm!) but Eve's point is well taken. I sat for 5 minutes trying to find a word with the right beat or some Zion phoneme echo. I couldn't find it, Sodom escaped me and it has both. But at least Urania gives me the excuse to link to the cool Ulrichs page.

More: Joanne Jacob's take on all this at her great mostly education stuff blog. I agree, though I didn't make the point above, that anti-bullying "programs" are of dubious value and that simple, clear and well enforced rules about respect for fellow students are a better way to go.

8:05 AM

Monday, October 14, 2002

The Left Hand Path

Blogdex the conqueror lists a site called i used to believe today. It is very entertaining and it recalls one of the best books I know, Joe Brainard's funny and beautiful I Remember. Brainard's book and the i used to believe site are comprised of one or two sentence memories mostly from childhood. They tell you a lot about children, a lot about knowledge, and a lot about signal and noise. Joe's book covers memories beyond remembered misunderstandings but they play a big part in I Remember as they do in all honest recollections of childhood.

There is something really important about these kind of collections of mistakes and skewed conclusions. They are provocative in a left handed way. What aphorisms and rules of thumb approach head on these books back into, bounce off of, or run over.

Joe Brainard we miss you.

From i used to believe:
I used to believe that when people on the radio sang "I love my baby" or "me and my baby" or "hey baby" they were talking about infants. I was very confused by "my baby left me." I believed this until I was 11 or 12. --Helen

Every kid must have heard this at some time. 'You know they are taking the word gullible out of the dictionary.' We all believed it the first time, didn't we? --billy.b

I used to believe that only men could be left handed -and I only found out that women could be when I got to university (at eighteen years old!) --J

I thought that males had two penises, one for peeing and one for sex. The reason is, I didn't know about testicles, and I could see something hanging behind there in the Leonardo Da Vinci drawing and on the Tarot card with the nude man, so I thought that was the other one. --Aussie

I used to beleive that all pains were headaches. So for example, I had headaches in my stomach, legs and arms.--James

Once when I was 2 my mom and dad were going to attend a wedding (and leave me and my sister with a babysitter.) I thought they were going to their OWN wedding, and for years and years after that I thought that was when they had gotten married.--Carrie

I used to believe that I would be a millionaire--Dewey

8:10 AM

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Ask Me "How's Business?"

Andre writes in response to this post:

" facto repeal."? Oh, you think the powers that be in the military finally have come around and said to themselves "Wow, we've been treating Gays way too bad. We have to change that"? I hardly think so. Maybe you haven't noticed that we are heading to war (or so the story goes) and all systems are on increasing resources for the fight ahead. What the SLDN is objecting to is that the military will let the DA, DT [Don't Ask, Don't Tell] go when they need the bodies, but enforce it to the hilt when they don't need the bodies. Gays and Lesbians are their chioce in attrition when they dont need the ranks filled. The military thinks they are just as good cannon fodder as straights when they need cannon fodder, and are expendable when they don't. That isn't repeal in any way, 'de facto' or otherwise.

What they are doing now only rubs salt in the wounds of so many Gays and Lesbians who suffer from the stupid policy. Maybe you shouldn't read PlanetOut? Do you really think we are anywhere near this: "If there are gay soldiers suffering intolerable harassment then make the argument for their safety and release from service on the basis of their civil rights as Americans..."? I mean it's quite simple. The military should accept Gays and Lesbians as full status personnel without any restriction that aren't place on all personnel. They have done it in the past for other groups and have been successful. They can do it here. But what they are doing now with their selective enforcement of DA, DT is the ultimate in crassness, discrimination squared, if you will. SLDN sees this and is acting properly on it, I think. At least their view is a lot more honest than your view.

My reply:

Thanks for your letter. I have to say though your point kind of escapes me. Yeah, the military is stepping away from DA,DT because probable war increases manpower needs. That is de facto repeal of DA, DT for the time being. Gays who join the military are joining THE MILITARY--the arm of the state that fights wars. You seem upset that gay soldiers are being kept around to help fight this war.If your argument is over the justness of the war then you should make that point. But otherwise gay soldiers no less than straight ones are subject to the demands of the military during wartime. We have a volunteer army, so the only way you end up in a uniform is by making that choice. Gay recruits also sign on knowing that they have special (lesser) status under the provisions of DA, DT. Women also have special (lesser) status in the military (they are banned from field combat). You can argue that there should be complete equality for gays and for women in the military but you can't say that this unequal status is unknown to female and gay recruits and that they don't make their choices having taken these facts into consideration.

So I do think the SLDN position of seeking enforcement of DA,DT is grossly hypocritical.

You quote me: "If there are gay soldiers suffering intolerable harassment then make the argument for their safety and release from service on the basis of their civil rights as Americans..." And you ask, "Do you really think we are anywhere near this?" Uh, yeah I do, but it's a complicated point. Soldiers (again gay or straight) have lesser civil rights than other citizens of the USA so the bigger hurdle gay soldiers face in making a civil rights argument is not their sexuality but their status as SOLDIERS. But the SLDN tactic suffers from the same limitation. So I'll take an argument invoking basic civil rights over one that rests on the codification of secondary status for gays any day.

And to your point that "the military thinks they [gays] are just as good cannon fodder as straights when they need cannon fodder, and are expendable when they don't." The fact is the military has waved all sorts of policies in other times of war. They get less selective about who they let in and they get much more selective about who they let go. Your use of the term cannon fodder puts you in the strange position of arguing that gays are being denied true equality with other cannon fodder since they are liable for dismissal from the military for saying they are gay when cannon fodder is not needed. But your use of such a loaded term again makes it appear that your argument is really about this war and possibly militarism in general. So I have to suggest you listen to yourself when you to say me "at least their view is a lot more honest than your view" and be honest about the argument you are really making.

To end with some agreement, you say: "The military should accept Gays and Lesbians as full status personnel without any restrictions that aren't placed on all personnel". And I say exactly.

11:58 PM


Wisdom from The Living, The Dead and The Jailed

My three favorite insights into the state of popular music from the last year. All are paraphrased, I took them to heart but didn't write them down:

From George Harrison, I read this in some news account from around the time of his death: Pop music has only two flavors these days. It's either sour and megaviolent or it drowns you in syrup. You're either ugly and angry or pretty and cloying.

From Ol' Dirty Bastard, in an interview from prison in Vibe magazine: Something's happened to music. It's like the government has taken something out of it. I listen to the radio and what used to be there is gone.

From the Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant in an interview with the Brit gay mag AXM: The problem with pop music is kids have been sold this audition model of how to make music. All these Pop Idol shows teach them that it's about getting your look together, rehearsing an act of other people's hits and then going for the popstar job interview.

These are wild paraphrases. I'd love to see the real quotes to see how off I am word for word. I think I'm almost exact though in the spirit. What really resonates with me is the harmonic link between George and Neil that arises out of the memory of the George set piece in Hard Days Night--George's wandering off to the pop fashion office and his so funny off-hand dismissal of the youth culture they were trying to create there in the Beatles' image. Sham pop--pop built according to market research templates-- is always a part of mass culture but it's at floodtide now. Or more optimistically a little below flood tide, receding ever so slowly.

If you want to feel special pain at the contrast between pop as a job (which can still produce some good stuff) and pop as art (where greatness is possible) consider this. The average age of all the assorted boy and girl band members and pop idol contestants is about the same age that George Harrison was when he was writing "Blue Jay Way" in the spooky hills of Hollywood. Which is to say 24.

Read it and weep. Gently, like your guitar:

George Harrison Portfolio. George Harrison was born February 25, 1943, making him the youngest Beatle.

Blue Jay Way - Recorded 6th September 1967 - 1 take (backing track only) Overdubs 7th September 1967, take 1 onto take 2 onto take 3. Overdubs 6th October 1967 onto take 3. Final mix - take 3

7:27 AM