Friday, September 30, 2005

Serenity 

For the love of all things good and shiny in this 'verse, go see this movie. Now. What are you doing still reading this? Turn off the computer, get to your nearest cineplex, and see this movie! I caught the first matinee showing today, its opening day of release. I'm trying to convince The Girl to go see it with me when I go again. She's not usually into sci-fi and space movies, but this isn't your run of the mill sci-fi or space movie. It just happens to take place largely in space, on a ship. Named Serenity. Get going!



And then get the soundtrack. And then thank me for telling you to go.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 3:42 PM
Thursday, September 29, 2005

Law Prom Nightmare 

Just received word that the keynote speaker at this spring's Barristers Ball will be lovable Nino himself, Justice Antonin Scalia.

It just keeps getting better. *said dripping with much sarcasm*

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:52 PM
Thursday, September 22, 2005

Feeling Better 

Had a career strategy chat with one of my professors, and I'm feeling a little better about things now. Plus I've had a week to let it sink in. Now I'm off to join my parents for a few days on Cape Cod. But first I have to dig the kayak out of its prison under the basement stairs.

Back after the weekend.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:03 AM
Friday, September 16, 2005

Creative Logic 

After 60+ students signed up to join the proposed Gay-Straight Alliance at Madison County High School in Georgia, a group of parents demanded that the principal and school committee bar the group from forming. To his credit, Principal Wayne McIntosh defended the group:
McIntosh and School Superintendent Keith Cowne told the irate citizens that it would be illegal discrimination to deny the students the right to have a club.
McIntosh told the meeting that the club could be a good influence in the school.
"We're hoping this club is a positive thing. This club offers support to these children and makes their life easier in society," he said. And as for the larger student body, "Kids have to live in the real world," he told the meeting.

Some of the 100 attendees at the meeting disagreed, and one spoke with what I find to be an unfathomably twisted logic:
"I do not agree with the club, with their agenda, and I believe the vast majority of the county would agree with me," he told the Banner-Herald after the meeting.
Chandler said LGBT students are setting themselves apart from other students [and] could be setting themselves up for violence, comparing the club to the Ku Klux Klan in its potential divisiveness.

Wow. So setting up an alliance between gay and straight students is actually the LGBT students' attempt to isolate themselves from the rest of the student body.

And reaching out to straight allies is an invitation to violence.

And establishing a group that embraces diversity is akin to joining a group that prides itself on pretty much hating everything that isn't exactly like yourself.

Can anyone out there follow this leap?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 5:56 PM

Unemployment Begins 

Last evening:
  • 6:15 pm - Drove to school, found on street parking. Double-checked the meter - yep, it stops at 5 pm. Since it was 7 pm by this point, I was all set. Lucky me, off to Accounting for Lawyers. Study business decisions. Yeah, that helped my mood a lot.
  • 9:05 pm - Return to car and find bright orange Boston parking ticket on the windshield. Apparently that strip of meters converts to Resident Permit Parking from 5pm-9pm. $40 due within three weeks. Time ticket written: 8:54 pm. Eleven fucking minutes later, and I would have been gone.
  • 9:06 pm - Answer cell phone call from the lone survivor of my department. Learn that the monthly Uber Department meeting (my ex-boss is in charge of three departments, and she gathers them all together once a month) yesterday afternoon was rather heated, to say the least. The ex-boss didn't have any say in the layoffs - she didn't even know they were coming until an hour before the fact. But she's the boss, so she has to sit and listen to the screaming. The ex-colleague said he was surprised no one knocked on the conference room door to make sure no one was being injured.

Today:
  • 8:00 am - Reduced Netflix movie subscription. Goes into effect 9/24.
  • 8:45 am - Learned of 3 recent breakins and 1 attempt in my neighborhood. Chatted with the trashy neighbors for a while. Since I'm unemployed and was standing on the stoop in my loungewear, eyeglasses and semi-bedhead, I guess I'm fitting right in.
  • 11:00 am - Learned from The Guyfriend that the mood at the office is rather ugly. He had the unenviable job yesterday of pulling the victims' network cards while they were each being axed. Fortunately he had arrived late to work, so he didn't know about the situation until after I was already out of the building. It would have killed him to know before I did and not say anything. And to have to dismantle my computer while I was getting my walking papers? Oof. Instead, I called him from the parking lot and he went with me to Starbucks for a cooling-off latte.
  • 11:30 am - Arranged with my now-ex-boss (she called to apologize once more) to meet Tuesday 8 am for the packing up of the cube.
  • 3:00 pm - Called unemployment. Must call back on October 3rd (yes, the first Monday in October), the first date on which I am officially off payroll.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 5:19 PM

Women Love Angelina 

AfterEllen reports in this week's edition of Best. Lesbian. Week. Ever. that among female respondents to a poll asking with which celebrity they'd be most likely to cheat on their boyfriend, the number one celebrity was Angelina Jolie (57%), followed by Brad Pitt (54%). Oddly enough, Britney spears tied for number three at 23%. I share columnist Sara Warn's stunned reaction to the Britney choice, but I'm not at all surprised by Angelina. Okay, I'm a little surprised, since this poll was aimed at straight women.

But then again, the poll was a Playboy reader poll, so I'm not sure the actual audience is full of straight women. And a number of the "female" respondents may been men answering with the celebrity they'd most like to watch their girlfriends cheating with. And then inviting the boyfriend to join in. Ugh.

Let's just stick with the results on the face of it - America loves Angelina. Hopefully this will result in more people listening to her statements on behalf of the UNHCR. That would make it all worth it.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:34 AM
Thursday, September 15, 2005

Free Time 

You know how I bitch and moan about the commute out to my office's new location? Well, that won't be a problem anymore. The place layed off 8 people today, and one of the bullseyes was on my back.

"It's just a business decision. Your performance review was excellent."

Whatever.

Asses.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 4:31 PM
Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Massachusetts - Marriage Equality Remains 

The constitutional convention today has already rejected the proposed constitutional amendment barring marriage equality but establishing civil unions, 157-39. Debate lasted for less than two hours.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 3:11 PM

Anti-Gay Bashing 

At today's constitutional convention on Beacon Hill, where one of the items on the agenda is the proposed amendment to bar marriage equality but establish civil unions for same sex couples. Rep. Emile Goguen (D, Fitchburg), an ardent marriage equality foe, will be voting against this amendment because he opposes the civil union component, and has switched his support to the even more limiting citizen petition ballot question, which would bar same sex couples from receiving marriage licenses, and would also invalidate the 6500+ current marriages between Massachusetts same sex couples, including mine and The Girl's. Do you suppose the backers of this initiative would be willing to reimburse us all for our wedding expenses?

Rep. Goguen had this to say about his quest to roll back the clock on marriage equality:
One might say, 'Give it up.' Well, I'm not giving it up, and many of us in the Legislature won't give it up. We're not voting for the Travaglini-Lees amendment. It's not right. It's just delaying, and confusing everyone in the House," Goguen said yesterday.

He further elaborated on the citizen response to his actions and statements regarding marriage rights:
Goguen said he has never in his time in public office experienced such a backlash from voters for taking a position. "I don't think you realize when you take on an issue such as this the bashing that you get not only throughout Massachusetts but to all the states adjacent to Massachusetts. The e-mails, the phone calls, the letters," Goguen said.
Interesting choice of words, "bashing." But do you think he's learned anything from this negative voter response? Apparently not.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:12 AM

New TV Season Upon Us 

When I got home around 10:30 last evening I sat in front of the tv for a little bit while I sipped on some orange juice. I find it's hard to go right to bed after classes, as I'm too wound up. Last night I was even more so, since we'd had two OUTLaws meetings - one at 5:15, then another at 8:50 for anyone who couldn't make the earlier event. I always get really jazzed up after school events - I'm just ready to take on the world.

But I took on the Tivo instead. I was quite pleased to see that in the To Do List (shows that are scheduled for recording in the next two weeks) that the new viewing season is upon us! Returning favorites Lost, ER and Cold Case all appeared on the list, as did newcomers Bones and Surface (fka Threshold). Charmed is on the to do list on the upstairs Tivo.

Charmed, West Wing and Cold Case all premier on 9/25 at 8:00. Three shows, two Tivos. What to do? Cold Case is in, because The Girl and I both watch that, and it's one of The Girl's undisputed favorites. Charmed and West Wing are mine alone. I'm still undecided on the Charmed v. West Wing dilemma. I've really become hooked on West Wing reruns, and would love to watch the new ones, but I've got years of history with Charmed, the show I love to criticize when they get it wrong, but love to love when they get it right. It has the potential of a fresh start this year, what with the destruction of the manor and the faking of the Charmed Ones' deaths. I'll probably stick it out. I can always catch West Wing on DVD or in reruns later on.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:58 AM
Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Teeter Totter Terror 

Last evening I arrived at school and headed up the stairs to the 5th floor for Wills, Estates and Trusts. I've been taking the stairs at school and work in an effort to add a little exercise to my daily routine wherever I can.

I got stuck behind this very tall, very thin woman wearing 3 inch stiletto-heeled, pointy-toed shoes, attempting to maneuver her way up the stairs while simultaneously attempting to maintain her balance despite wearing an enormous backpack fully laden with what appeared to be about 50 pounds of books and which jutted out from her skinny torso by about 18 inches. As she progressed up each step, she appeared to be waging quite the battle with gravity, given that her own center of gravity was being totally thrown off by her accessories. I feared for her safety, but to be honest, feared more for my own. If she went down backwards, which seemed the most likely scenario, there was no way I was going to avoid the collision.

Fortunately, she departed the stairs at the third floor, so I was able to continue my trek to the fifth floor without fear of imminent harm.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:25 AM
Monday, September 12, 2005

Buh-Bye Brownie 

Mike Brown, relieved on Friday of his oversight of FEMA's activities in the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, has now resigned as head of FEMA.

Friday when his return to Washington was announced, he was quoted as saying he was looking forward to getting back to DC to dispel the rumors about his performance and to reinstate his good name. You'd think he'd want to take the opportunity to assure the country that he was looking forward to getting back to DC to help FEMA better handle emergency situations in the future.

But if he'd done that, maybe he'd still have his job.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 4:28 PM
Friday, September 09, 2005

Ambulation Generator 

How freaking cool is this? And when will it be on the market?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 3:10 PM

Heck of a Job, Brownie 


My Little mobiBLU 

I couldn't stay away from the gadgets for too long. This is my latest addition, just arrived yesterday. It's just the cutest little thing, and functional to boot!

Mine is the 1G model, and I've got it pretty much fully loaded now with just under 300 tracks. Plus my favorite radio stations are installed in the the presets, with plenty to spare. It even now has its own matching lanyard that I attached after lunch today.

In case you didn't get an idea of the size of it from the official website, check out this photo from their user blog. That's right, baby - 1G storage, an FM receiver with 20 presets, voice/radio recorder, drag and drop USB interface with no software required, all on the tip of my finger!

Now the 10G Nomad can sit comfortably on the desk, out of harm's way, while I keep my little cube on a string around my neck or in my pocket.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:17 PM

Reality Check 

Yesterday we had our ACS Welcome Reception, and it was a success. We had about 20 people, including students from Northeastern, Harvard and Boston College, plus professors and a member of the ACS National Board of Advisors. People stayed to meet, greet, network and talk constitutional law and politics for nearly all of the scheduled hour and a half session.

At one point I was chatting with a 1L from one of the other schools, and he asked me whether we had much carry over in our membership from last year. I was explaining that most of us on the board were involved last year, when he got a confused look on his face, and said:

1L: Oh - are you a student... or a prof...
RSLS: *Interupting before he can finish "professor"* I'm a student, in the evening division. You'll find that many of us in the evening division are older than the day students.

This morning I told The Girl about this, with this conversation:

RSLS: One of the 1Ls thought I was a professor.
The Girl: Oh no, that's terrible!
RSLS: Why is that so terrible?
The Girl: Aren't the professors all old?
RSLS: *Pause* I actually AM older than some of the professors.
The Girl: Oh.

I then put it in context, that if I had gone to law school straight out of college, I would have graduated when I was 25, and have been in practice or teaching for 15 years at this point. If I'd gone right into teaching, I'd probably be not only a professor, but a tenured professor by now.

Of course, if I'd been attired in my usual student garb, there probably wouldn't have been the confusion in the first place. Not many professors wear cargo shorts, Tevas, and polo shirts to official events. But then neither do the leaders of the hosting group, so I was wearing dark blue slacks and a nice lavender button down shirt. And my Tevas. And I borrowed the nice clothes from The Girl.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:52 PM
Thursday, September 08, 2005

Mad Keyboard Skills 

According to the BlackDog's 60-second online typing test (via Magic Cookie), these are my marketable typing skills:

Percentage Accuracy : 100%
Percentage Inaccuracy : 0%
Characters per minute : 432 cpm
Characters per second : 7 cps
Words per minute : 82 wpm
Words per second : 1 wps
Total Speed status : Too Good
Overall Accuracy : Absolutely Perfect
Down from my years in medical transcription, but good enough for tech writing by day, taking notes by night and writing papers on the weekends.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:27 PM

Runaway Legislature 

"I'm encouraged that the governor is going to stop the runaway Legislature, and he's going to represent the people," said Karen England of the Capitol Resource Institute, a Sacramento group that lobbied against the bill.

Oh, so now it's the Legislature that's out of control. Everywhere else in the country it's the Judiciary that's getting the blame for over reaching. I guess they couldn't really label the California Legislature "activist," since law-making is their actual designated role. So instead they're a "runaway" body. Huh. So when the legislature gets results the conservatives like, it's hailed as demonstrating the intended design of the elective process, wherein the elected officials represent "the will of the people." Of course, part of the purpose of an elected body is to have that body represent not only the majority, but also the less numerous minority, to be a check against majority attempts to impinge on the rights of those with whom they disagree.

Gov. Schwarzenegger and company have also strategically placed themselves ready for any court ruling that might come down stating that barring same sex couples from marriage is violative of the state's constitution - it's not the will of the people (although he previously said he'd be okay with it if approved by either the legislature or the court).

So now the only way to legitimately enact any law is by a direct vote by the population? I'm sure that will work out really well.


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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:34 AM
Monday, September 05, 2005

Ministry of Truth Straightens up Dusty Springfield 

According to Gay.com (UK and Ireland edition), a Universal Studios film about the late singer Dusty Springfield (will not have any mention of her lesbian relationships, just the het ones.

Reasons given were reportedly that execs were "wary of including gay content after a series of cinema flops," for which Alexander was cited as an example. Also reported was that the studio "fears upsetting the actress lined up to play the star, who is a noted Christian rock performer." Grammatical gaff aside, if they were afraid of upsetting the actress (listed on IMDB as Kristin Chenoweth), why did they ask her to play an openly gay (or at least publicly bi, and gay to her friends) singer in the first place?

This article is in stark contrast to coverage on the project by AfterEllen earlier this year, in which director Jessica Sharzer stated that they wouldn't be "shying away" from the fact of Dusty's being a lesbian.

This reminds me of the year that two tv movies came out (so to speak) about Liberace, but only one event mentioned that he was gay. I thought we'd moved past that since 1988.

I wonder how Melissa Etheridge would be portrayed on the big screen, or Ellen Degeneres? Does it depend on who they line up to star?
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UPDATE (9/6/05): I'm happy to convey that AfterEllen got right on this and debunked the original article that Gay.com had pared down and reprinted (I was unable to locate the full text of the Rupert Murdoch-owned Australian paper, Sunday Times). The original article had a number of glaring errors (such as claiming that The L Word had been cancelled), and a call to writer/director Sharzer confirmed her earlier statements.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 5:04 PM

Next... 

Well, that answers that.

Now we're back to the first question: who will Pres. Bush nominate to replace Sandra Day O'Connor?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:49 AM
Sunday, September 04, 2005

A Nice Thought 

But it's never going to happen.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has stated his opinion that Pres. Bush should request retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to rescind her retirement, and possibly appoint her to the Chief Justice position.
Asking her to stay on, at least until January, gives the president a bit more time to think this process through, rather than trying to jam decisions," Dodd told Fox News Sunday. O'Connor cited her age and a need to spend more time with her family in her retirement statement, but "she's a patriot who would do what her country needed," Schumer told The Associated Press.

It would be nice, and a whole lot more palatable than any of the more likely nominees, but it's just not going to happen.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:04 PM

Chief Justice Rehnquist, 1924-2005 

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Presidential Tour 

From an AP story about Pres. Bush heading down to Alabama:
"It's as if the entire Gulf Coast were obliterated by the worst kind of weapon you can imagine," the president said.

Dude, that's exactly what happened. Threats to Homeland Security are not all driven by human action. And nature provides a heckuva destructive weapon at times.

Further from the article:
"The results are not acceptable," said Bush, who rarely admits failure.

Well, he hasn't actually admitted failure, or even responsibility for the failure:

Standing with the governors in an airplane hangar, Bush said, "We have a responsibility to clean up this mess."

"What is not working right, we're going to make it right," Bush said. Referring to rampant looting and crime in New Orleans, Bush said, "We are going to restore order in the city of New Orleans."

"The people of this country expect there to be law and order, and we're going to work hard to get it," the president said. "In order to make sure there's less violence, we've got to get food to people."

"We'll get on top of this situation," Bush said, "and we're going to help the people that need help."


He managed to phrase it such that while acknowledging that there are major problems, he at no point associates his administration with the failures and issues to this point. He only associates the administration with promised solutions.

"The results are not acceptable." Not that the White House's response is unacceptable. The results are unacceptable.

"We have a responsibility to clean up this mess." So things just became a mess, and now Pres. Bush is going to ride in on his horse and clean it up. This makes him the good guy, not part of the problem.

"What is not working right, we're going to make right." Again, dissociation from the problem, connection with the solution. Everything to this point is not his fault, but anything good that happens from this point forward is because of his doing.

"The people of this country expect there to be law and order, and we're going to work hard to get it... In order to make sure there's less violence, we've got to get food to people." Well-played! An appeal to law and order, while also isolating the chaos from "the people of this country." Guess what? The looters, gangs and other people behind the unlawful activity ARE the people of this country. And he's going to get food to people in order to lessen the violence. If he (and we, the people) focused more on the larger issues of hunger and poverty in this country, the scene might not have been set for the violent response. Have you noticed how he's always emphasizing how hard he's working? I'd feel better if he showed us through his actions and results, rather than just expecting us to believe him.

"We'll get on top of this situation..." Not "we've seen what works and what doesn't work, and we're adjusting our approach." Not "we're fixing the problems we've been having." Just that "we" are going to get in there and fix this mess that unnamed parties have left for the federal government to go in, work hard and resolve.

Speak true, Mr. President. Drop the spin and we might start believing you.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:17 PM

The Dorian Gray of America 

Robin Young of WBUR's Here and Now was on Morning Edition this morning for her usual preview of the day's show, and she's had it.

"We're a civil radio station, and we have civil conversations, but I don't know how much longer I can do that. This is a national disgrace. It now is clear that more people are going to die horribly because of the lack of preparedness for and lack of response to Katrina than died in the hurricane. It is just horrendous. I watched Harry Connick, Jr. this morning, a native of New Orleans. He was so sickened by what he was seeing, sitting in Los Angeles, he flew to Louisiana, got there yesterday, drove into New Orleans as he said this morning on The Today Show, without seeing any road block - drove in and walked around the city by himself. And he's saying 'If I can do this, where are trucks of water? That could be your or my mother dying on the floor of the convention center because she has no water, in America.'

So we're throwing the show out again and we're going to continue to take a look at what's going on. I mean, a lot of people are wondering, we got to Bagdhad faster than we're getting help to New Orleans, and it's just a national disgrace."

As Morning Edition continued, they played a series of sound bytes that followed the story from just before the hurricane, to the present. At first after the storm but before the flooding, there were lots of people saying that the lord had their backs, since they had decided to stay in the city and they were proven right. They thought.

Of course, the apparent intent of the lord was reinterpreted after the flooding, when some groups stepped up to the mic and the press release to proclaim that the flooding was God's punishment against those who sin and shelter sinners. Now, I'm thinking that if this whole thing was part of intelligent design, a protective god or a punishing god, things would have come out differently. If this is intelligent design, there are a lot of flaws in the plan. If the lord had their backs, there wouldn't have been a storm in the first place. If this was punishment, wouldn't it have been a bit more specific? I mean really - the states of Louisiana and Mississippi aren't in general very welcoming of the gay men and lesbians on whom that group blamed the flooding. If this were punishment against the wicked and those welcoming of sinners, wouldn't it have been focused entirely on New Orleans? But then again, lots of folks in New Orleans probably adhere to what they see as god's will, so wouldn't they have been spared? Wouldn't the punishment have been better targeted at cities and/or regions with larger populations of the supposed evil-doers?

This wasn't a supernatural intervention in moral response to things done or not done by people. It was a hurricane. It caused the sea level to rise, it caused the waves to crash into the structures on shore, it caused the water level in the lake to rise, it caused failures in the levee system. It was predicted, it was tracked and the possible outcomes were known.

Then our wise president gets on the air and states that "no one" could have predicted that the levees would fail. I'm sorry, but Bullshit. Just Bullshit. I'm no natural disaster savant, or follower of the latest in city planning news, but I've been hearing for years about the dangers facing New Orleans and their particular topographical issues. And the failure of one or more segments of the levee system has always been discussed as an area of particular concern. So don't say no one could have predicted it. They did predict it. Say "we didn't think it was going to happen during this storm, and we were wrong."

Pres. Bush also explained that he'd spent a lot of time with Alan Greenspan and the members of the energy and economic experts, to take a look at how the disaster might affect the nation's economy, and how they can best mitigate those effects. I'm so glad he's dedicating large blocks of time to assisting businesses, because business is the lifeline of America and the American Way.

Bullshit. Just Bullshit. Meet with business leaders and tell them to get their asses in gear, do some public work and help out. Get satellite phones out there to rescue workers (I heard an interview with a sat phone provider in Arizona who had rented out about 400 satellite phones to emergency workers - how about donating some? How about the government taking care of it?), get infrastructure workers down there to assist with the physical recovery of the area, get medical workers down there to assist with the physical recovery of the people. Get mental health workers down there to assist with the emotional recovery of the population. Get the National Guard down there to stop those absolute and total assholes who are looting Wal-Mart's entire firearm department (yes, that was the first area to be looted) and are now further terrorizing the other survivors, including shooting at a rescue helicopter trying to move patients from a hospital. Why didn't this happen earlier in the week? Why was it more important to sit down with oil industry experts to help them get their balance sheets through the storm?

This wasn't a tsunami. This was a storm that was being tracked, and the early warning had been given out that the area needed to be evacuated. Why don't more people who can leave do so? There are always people who hold it as a point of honor that they never leave. We have them up here, too. They refuse to leave their beachfront home in the face of severe winter storms, or they go down to the seawall at Revere Beach during a hurricane. Why doesn't New Orleans have a system set up for evacuating those who don't have their own means of leaving the city before severe storms such as this one? This is the scenario they've been discussing for years, and they saw it coming.

And now that what's done is done, a small number of the survivors are managing to demonstrate every ugly stereotype that the world has of Americans. Gun-happy, criminal, exploitative, intimidating, thriving on the opportunity to grab power in the face of chaos, and more eager to blame the mythical "powers that be" than to dig in and fix it. A SMALL NUMBER. But that small number has a huge impact.

Huge numbers of people are pitching in, helping their neighbors even though they're suffering themselves, organizing, implementing rescue and recovery efforts as best they can. But then there was the guy - not a resident of an impacted area - interviewed on the radio this morning complaining about how the "powers that be" (his exact phrase) are just using the hurricane to take advantage of the American People and force us to pay more at the gas pump, and it's all just a big conspiracy. Not to say that there's not some truth in this - there are reports of price gouging, people are looting and then reselling the goods to refugees - but take a look in the mirror, dude. He was filling up his big old gas guzzling SUV at the pump while he was complaining about the price of gas. Do you really need that fuel hog? Have you thought of modifying your day-to-day habits in order to conserve a little bit of gas and reduce demand?

The government - national, state and local - need to get in there, and need to prepare in the future. But people need to take some responsibility too. Show some interest BEFORE this stuff happens. What would you do in case of whatever type of natural disaster is known to occur in your area? Get involved in your community. Take a look at what might be causing that rise in crime. Anything that might present an alternative to criminal activity? Because just "locking them up" isn't the big picture answer.

As Robin Young said earlier, "Where's the Rudy Giuliani of New Orleans?" The armed gangs can only step in if there's a vacuum. Community leaders, whether elected or just active citizens, need to be ready to prevent that vacuum from forming, and be ready to step up if the vacuum does occur.

A woman being interviewed on the BBC just said that New Orleans is America's Dorian Gray. The weaknesses in the infrastructure have been there and are there throughout the country, but we can no longer pretend we don't see them. The looters, muggers and rapists have been in the community for a long time, but now everyone has to see them. The question is - what are we going to do to change our conditions?

If a natural or man-made disaster (or a combination) were to occur in your region, what would you do? Think about your particular area - what are the possibilities? Earthquake, flood, hurricane, tornado, heat, cold, blizzard, power failure. What needs to be done on a community or regional level? What would you do? And what would you do to help others and your community? Or do you take care of number one and everyone else can look out for themselves. What would you do? What can you do now? Think about it.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:13 AM
Thursday, September 01, 2005

How Old Is That In Film Years? 

My e-mail alert from AfterEllen today is a look back at the indie film Go Fish. I loved this movie when it came out. The Girl says she hated it. I didn't know her then, so I'll have to take her word for it.

But I was dismayed that the article comes under the heading "Back in the Day." It's a monthly column "that takes a look back at key moments in the history of lesbians and bisexual women in entertainment." Yikes. Back in the day. My next thought was "I suppose that makes Desert Hearts a classic film."

Sure enough, on page two of this two page piece, is the reference: "The '80s ushered in such classics as Personal Best and Desert Hearts and many lesbians could finally see something of themselves on screen." Double Yikes.

I remember watching Personal Best in stealth mode, in case someone might put the pieces together. It was my senior year in high school, or maybe the summer after graduation (1982). I think I may have watched it with my then-boyfriend. Mmm, Mariel Hemingway and lots of athletic women. It was secret heaven.

By 1985 and the debut of Desert Hearts, how times had changed. Two of my Bryn Mawr friends (one of whom is now married to soxfan and attended my wedding this summer, the other with whom I eventually had a brief fling and is now married to a man - whatever) and I trekked up to NYC for opening weekend. I don't recall how we travelled, but we probably took the train up from Philly. I do remember walking around and not being sure we were in the right area, when we came around a corner and saw a line of women around the block. Yep, this must be the place. I also recall we smuggled in a bottle of Stoli in the sleeve of my Levi's jacket that I carried, and once in the theater we mixed it in with our purchased Cokes to about a 50-50 mix. Coming out in the 80s generally involved large quantities of alcohol. Glad that's behind me.

The sight of Kay slamming her hot rod into reverse and speeding backwards down the highway in order to flirt with the newly arrived soon-to-be-divorcee? Took away our collective breaths. Later scenes stunned us into very pleasant silence. We couldn't believe we were able to see this on the big screen at a mainstream theater.

A few months later I saw it again with a friend from the summer job in Princeton. It was playing at an art house in Doylestown, PA. She was just starting to come out (I was the first person she told. She later had a brief fling with my then-girlfriend. Haven't seen her for years, but my sister had dinner with her recently. I did get together the ex-girlfriend and her current partner just after I started law school, though. Bygones were bygones, we're all grownups now, and I think she's still an occasional reader of this blog - Hi! Post a comment if you're reading this!), and since it was playing in the area it seemed like a good idea. There were maybe a dozen people, mostly straight indie film fans. But it was fun, and still a great movie.

Kate Clinton referred to Desert Hearts in her act at that time. She mentioned the part where Kay's younger, jealous brother offers Vivian some gum, but she changed Vivian's response:

Walter: Chicklet?
Vivian: No thanks, I like my women full grown.

Then there was the snarky fellow guest at the divorce ranch, who would later dazzle us all as Lt. Tasha Yar. Who out there didn't cry when Lt. Yar died, and rejoice whenever Denise Crosby returned in a guest appearance on ST: The Next Generation?

I guess the point of this long and rambling entry is that I felt old this morning, having such clear memories of "classic movies" from "back in the day." But I forgive you, AfterEllen. Bygones are bygones. Whatever.



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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:31 AM