Saturday, 31 March 2007

silly Saturday: the Bear edition, II

You may have noticed me mentioning Joe.My.God. before. He's a great guy and I always check his blog (as one of the) first. He just reposted a link to this video. Isn't he cute? (Those damn Babydaddicts are turning me into a bear-lover!)



The man who turned me on to Joe is hopefully going to be online again soon. I knew of Joe's blog before, but it was K who got me hooked. Love you, K!

silly Saturday: if I had words

If I had words to make a day for you
I'd sing you a morning golden and new
I would make this day last for all time
Give you a night deep in moonshine
-- Scott Fitzgerald & Yvonne Keeley -- If I Had Words

Words cannot describe the joy I feel finding this video. It's Scott Fitzgerald and Yvonne Keeley (the last link is in Dutch) singing If I Had Words, my very first favourite song. It was a world-wide hit in 1978, starting in The Netherlands in 1977 so I would've been possibly four, probably five at the time.

I couldn't get enough of it! Must have driven my mother crazy. Interesting point - I think - this is also the very first video clip I remember. I would sit in front of the television and wave my arms. And sing along, or pretend to, my first English lesson was another five years off into the future.



It's an adaptation of the Maestoso from Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3, of course... And reading that article I just realised I knew the song was in the movie "Babe" too. I seem to remember a version sung by a chorus of mice (yes, I watched Babe).

(this post was inspired by WUM)

silly Saturday: the Bear edition, I

Bruintje, Betty, Brutus, Barney, Billy, Boris, Bolke, Breintje, Bolke (Breda), Bertus, Barend, Baloe, Bella, Binky, Bickel, Bonnie and the Bezorgbeer. These are the members of a large bear family living mostly in Rotterdam and its surroundings. They each run a caff (diner for our American friends) that part of a chain called De Beren ("The Bears")

I confess I've only eaten at a Bear cafe once, a couple of years ago with my then colleagues. As I was taking a stroll during my lunch break yesterday I noticed they're opening a new restaurant two minutes from my current office.

Friday, 30 March 2007

Judy



“The next one is sort of a strip tease tempo. We don’t do it! We just talk about it. Um, so… Aw heck! No, not in Carnegie Hall, it wouldn’t look right, at all. Somebody moans, do you moan?” [‘I moan, Judy.’] “Do you?” [‘I moan.’] (…) you, finish moaning, what tempo (…). Now moan, really moan!”
-- Judy Garland, Carnegie Hall, New York, NY, April 23, 1961

Althogh I never really listened to her before, I think I can positively say I love Judy Garland now. Of course it was Rufus Wainwright (who else) who introduced me to her work (other than "that movie"). When he decided to recreate her famous 1961 Carnegie Hall concert I bought the album to hear the original. In fact the 2001 reissue CD I bought is exactly how Rufus started to listen to her.

Alone together, above the crowd
Beyond the world, we’re not too proud
To cling together, we’re strong
As long as we’re together
-- written by A. Schwartz, H. Dietz

He dedicated Alone Together to his boyfriend Jörn during his second Judy Garland Tribute concert at Carnegie Hall last June. Normally I could go on about him for ages, but I'm sorry, I am starting to feel a bit tired now. It's a big step to suddenly start work a full week after all this time. Fortunately I only worked full-time for one week.



(The "strip tease" number Judy mentioned during the original show was Puttin' On The Ritz, by the way.)

Technically it's silly Saturday again, but I won't start the silliness until after I wake up. Sneak preview: one (or possibly more) of the posts will be about bears...

bless you!



This is just a very short message to say I haven't sneezed so much in months as I have at work this week.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

I feel like dancing



My tickets for Scissor Sisters on the 4th of July arrived yesterday. With the e-ticket BY sent me - and I will find a way to pay you for it - I now have two tickets to each of their shows in The Netherlands this summer.

K's moving back to Amsterdam, he has paid for an apartment. He seemed a bit down because it makes the end of his marriage pretty final. But on a selfish note it means I have somewhere to sleep. Don't get to spend the night with gorgeous men like him very often (read: at all).

who needs cancer research?

This is pretty sickening:

At the National Cancer Institute — where most basic cancer research gets funded — the budget has been virtually flat since 2003, with the White House this year proposing a $78 million cut. The human cost this year will be that 3,000 fewer patients will be in clinical trials.

Still, the war on cancer has brought progress. Cancer-related deaths — 554,000 per year — are going down. However, cancer survivors like Lance Armstrong argue that you don't quit when you're ahead, especially when a half-million dead is still a horrible number.

"That's 9/11 every two days. If they dropped that bomb every two days, I'm telling you this country would pay attention," the seven-time Tour de France champion says.

Guess where the money's going? An indefensible war or treating cancer patients... Such a tough call.

(Source)

bring me edelweiss



For my hubby.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

berufsverbot

I'm declaring the German word Berufsverbot the official word of this week.

It calls up images of the Second World War, of Jews and later anyone who was deemed politically unsound by the nazis was forbidden from certain occupations. I thought those days were behind us...

But now a scary political party is making noise about people with dual nationality. There are two junior ministers in the new Dutch cabinet who have two passports (one Dutch-Moroccan, the other Dutch-Turkish, I think) and it started out with a blatant attack on them. Then it grew to this idea that people with dual nationality should be forbidden to hold certain 'sensitive positions' (elected representatives, judges...)

The chiefs of police have already issued a statement that they have every faith in their officers with dual nationality and they don't want anything to make them feel like they are not trusted.

Meanwhile I learned today that thousands of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party are being allowed back to work by the Iraqi government. The Berufsverbot still holds for those who have been found to have committed crimes or are still wanted, but it is an important gesture towards the Sunni population.

And today's paper also reports that a Polish minister wants to exclude homosexuals from working in schools or any other job that would see them in close contact with children.

4x9

Today I received some very good news. After my team leader finally found some time to talk to me (not really his fault, his days were already planned when he found out about me) he told me I get to work four days of nine hours instead of five times eight. It's four hours less, but gives me a complete extra day off work.

He was against it at first because he was worried I'd want one of the popular days off (Friday, Wednesday) but I quickly told him I would take Thursday or Tuesday. I'm getting the former, I'd resolved to work five days this week, but now I can start planning stuff I have to do - like visit my GP, who wants to see me again before his month-long vacation. And I want to see him too, he only gave me two 15-day prescriptions so I need a new one.

I'm feeling pretty damn good by the way, no serious first-day (-week) tiredness, you know, the draining feeling of taking in so many new thigs. I don't know if it's the meds, but that's making it a lot easier to adjust. The days are flying by. It probably helps that the weather has been fantastic, perfect spring weather (although still a little bit cold in the mornings when cycling to the station; I bought train and bus passes - my employer will pay me back - but the one for the bus is more in case the weather turns bad, I plan on riding my bike as often as possible).

I'm actually starting to feel slightly useful again...

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

sleep


Le Sommeil by Gustave Courbet

Late last night I had a thought. In fact I had too many thoughts, my mind races and that's what was keeping me from sleeping. Having to sleep makes me less able to fall asleep. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to trick my body into believing it needs to wake up at 6:30. (I didn't fall asleep until after 1:00AM)

Trying to sleep "because I have to" is and has always been torture for me, I remember the distress it caused me as a child. As far as I remember I stood in my parents' living room bawling my eyes out and saying "I just can't go to sleep!" or the nights spent in a hospital ward staring up at the ceiling too scared to tell the nurses I really, really couldn't sleep.

So now it's almost midnight again, the alarm is still set for 6:30AM and I simply don't feel like going to bed. I think I'm going to try and read something, but there's a reason I was such a well-read child: it didn't really make me sleepy.

Perhaps us "nighties" should unite and revolt against the "day people". (I think there may have been some movement in Denmark but I don't know much more about it because it was, you know, in Denmark...)

Monday, 26 March 2007

first day

I just lost a very long blog post about my first day at work for a major international financial institution. So excuse me if I recap rather briefly.

There were some mishaps and miscommunications between the agency I work for and the company that I've been placed at. Like the time I was expected there this morning and the number of hours a week I'm supposed to be working. I have a contract with the agency that spells out the hours and an email from the agency telling me what time to report, so that's not my fault.

The contact who picked me up at reception dropped me off at the wrong team, but the team leader I was supposed to go to wasn't expecting me. I spent most of the day looking over the shoulder of a relatively new employee, but that was quite interesting. I think I'll like the work and the people.

The team leader was busy with meetings most of the day, he'll hopefully manage to squeeze me in some time tomorrow to talk about my skills and such. We also need to sort out this hours thing, because I would really like to work four times nine hours and have the fifth day off. He was afraid I'd want to take Monday, Wednesday or Friday, but I don't care, just as long as I have an extra day off.

I'm just posting that last part because it means I get a second chance at posting these lyrics, sort of (Yes, my mother was a Donovan fan):

I went up for my interview on the 4th day of july
The personnel man he questioned me, until I nearly cried
Made me fill in forms, until I shook with fear
About the colour of my toilet roll and if my cousin's queer
-- Donovan -- Gold Watch Blues

Wait, here's a quick translation from the code of conduct they had me sign:

Employees are allowed to use Electronic Communications resources for private means on an incidental and short term basis, both internal and external, as long as this isn't detrimental to their daily tasks and on condition that further guidelines in this code of conduct aren't breached.

Counted as unacceptable private use will certainly be playing or downloading games, visiting porn sites, shopping, gambling or taking part in games of chance, keeping a personal work-related diary ("blogging") and visiting chatrooms.

This isn't a work-related blog, is it? so it should okay to check in here from time to time. I'll keep my notebook (that is the paper version) with me at all times just so I can take notes.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

pretty toasters, introducing model number 6

If you haven't seen Battlestar Galactica yet: watch out, here be spoilers!



Meet Number Six from Battlestar Galactica in two different guises. First off we have Caprica Six, the femme fatale who seduced Gaius Baltar and used him to blow up the planet. Then she followed him around - as a figment of his imagination? a chip implanted in his head? an angel telling him God's plan? Who knows? - giving him advise, telling him what to do. And poor Gaius just can't resist!



Then there is Gina, found out to be a Cylon on the Pegasus she was subjected to barbaric "interrogation" methods, including vicious beatings and rape. Baltar befriends her and eventually helps her escape. The first thing she does is kill Admiral Cain. After that she joins a resistance movement that wants to make peace with the Cylons and is willing to force the authorities with violent measures. Definitely a fatal lady.

Apparently the name Gina is a reference to some fans' derisive nickname for the Re-imagined Series, GINO - "Galactica In Name Only". You've got to love these shirts with the Cylon toasters on them. This one is signed by some of the cast, Tricia Helfer who plays Six is on the right.

Here she is with two other cast members, also playing Cylons! In the center Lucy Lawless as D'Anna Biers (or Number Three) and on the left Grace Park playing Number Eight. One of Number Eight's guises was Lt. Sharon 'Boomer' Valerii.

I promise I won't let YummyMe badger me into Battlestar Galactica posts for a while now.

positively great campaign

This is an interesting campaign by the French organisation AIDES. They have created posters with the faces of all the candidates in the upcoming presidential elections in that country. They text underneath each of their faces says "Would you vote for me if I were HIV-positive?" and then underneath that "We have to get rid of AIDS, not those who are HIV-positive". I'm not really sure on the respective candidates' stance, although I know Ségolène Royal has spoken out in favour of gay marriage. But I really admire this campaign.

AIDES is a combination of "aide" meaning help, support and AIDS (although the French acronym is actually SIDA). They are also behind a couple of safe sex spots that I really liked. One evening, or rather very late at night, I noticed this one on the Franco-German TV station ARTE. I was just surfing by, but stayed to watch, not knowing what it was at first but fascinated nonetheless. Then later I discovered there's a version with a girl in it too.

The first round of voting for the next French president will take place on April 22. The candidates depicted here are front-runners Ségolène Royal, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Bayrou, who can make this an interesting race.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

true colors



During the month of June Cyndi Lauper, Debbie Harry and Erasure among others will be playing concerts throughout the United States on a tour called True Colors, calling attention to gay rights. The show will be hosted by Margaret Cho and Rufus Wainwright will make guest appearences in Boston and Washington DC.

I could expand further, but here is Cyndi Lauper doing such a good job talking about the tour on The View:


If you're looking for a sighting of Yummyme, it's rumoured he will be at the Houston show...

Make sure to check out concert dates in your area.



The Woodlands Pavillion near Houston, TX

silly Saturday pt. IV



A few months ago a new feature appeared on the Scissor Sisters website. Coinciding with the release of their new album Ta-Dah the site was redesigned and a section called the Scissorhood was introduced as something that would be the heart of the online fan community. The Scissor Sisters MessageBoard, it said, would remain for the time being.

The problem with the Scissorhood is that it's too clunky, there are no features for fans to connect online except a profile that holds 500 characters of personal info and private messages that only go up to 120 characters. No serious replacement for a messageboard. So within days the messageboard regulars were up in arms, emails and other messages were sent to band members and management - some of which may not be very tactfully phrased.

To find out what it was all about I too registered and made a profile for myself. Like I said, there weren't that many features. The only interesting thing about it were some special features, video interviews, one song, and the tailgate section, where you can enter concerts you've been to/are going to, and see who else went/is going. I don't recall seeing any reviews on there yet.

However... Lately the whole damn thing has been inaccessible to me. Whenever I try I get the message shown in the picture above. Choose "nee" (no) and sometimes it stops loading, choose "ja" (yes) and it will keep trying to load unsuccessfully.

This was the final instalment of silly Saturday. I hope you've all enjoyed the show!

silly Saturday pt. III

Not sure how I could have missed this one, but silly Saturday seems like the right time to post it after all.

Israel has recalled its ambassador to El Salvador after he was found drunk and naked apart from bondage gear.

About a month ago the Israeli ambassador to El Salvador was found "bound, gagged and naked apart from sado-masochistic sex accessories" in the back yard of his San Salvador residence. Although he hadn't broken any laws, the Israelis, considering this a case of "conduct unbecoming" have recalled Tzuriel Refael. I marvel at the stupidity of doing anything that could be seen by the local police guarding the compound. (Yes I know the danger of getting caught can be a part of it, but he's the [expletive deleted] ambassador! That's just silly...)

Reports say he was able to identify himself to police only after a rubber ball had been removed from his mouth.

I seriously considered finding an illustration, but that might be a bit too much.

(BBC, Haaretz)

silly Saturday pt. II


QuizGalaxy!
'What will your obituary say?' at QuizGalaxy.com

silly Saturday pt. I

No, I'm not a philatelist, these are the stamps you get at our local supermarket. I say "get", but I mean "buy", of course.

So that's what I've been doing this morning. Sorting stamps into strips of five and ten and sticking them into booklets. By a weird coincidence I grabbed exactly the right number of flyers. There's 200 stamps to a booklet, I took five of them and I think I have six stamps left, plus three or four still in my wallet. (I know, I was pretty impressed by that myself!)

And no, I didn't lick them all myself. I have a little sponge in a holder that you just brush them over. I find it rather relaxing to do simple tasks like this and because I didn't have to concentrate very hard, I was watching Battlestar Galactica at the same time. (Yummyme, I like the look of Gina a lot better than that of the other Six.)

Until the end of last year they had a scheme where you could either get cash or a voucher for a train ticket but the last part has been scrapped. If you go for cash you get three cents back for every two you paid, if you went for the train voucher, it was almost four. Since my sister lives on the other side of the country and has neither a car nor a driver's license, it was always very useful to her.

For any of you worrying how I'll survive the next few days, that's another thirty euros in the kitty, so I'll be fine. Right now the washer's done and the sun's coming out. I can take a hint.

cute Knut



Meet Knut, the cutest, cuddliest little bear I've ever seen.

He's a 3,5-month-old polar bear cup and lives at the Berlin Zoo, where he's being hand-reared because his mother rejected him. (Sadly his brother died.)

Today was his first outing in public, to the great expectation of lots of fans and media. According to the BBC there were live interviews for TV and radio going on as the little bear was taking his first steps outside.
There has been controversy surrounding Knut because some silly animal rights activist said it would be better if Knut were killed rather than be reared by humans. Of course everybody else who has seen this cuddly furball on TV recently has fallen in love with him and there's no way that is going to happen. Imagine the pictures of school kids in floods of tears...

I just couldn't resist posting a LOT of cute, cuddly Knut pictures.














EDIT: Added especially for WUM:

Friday, 23 March 2007

if I should buy jellybeans

If I should buy jellybeans
Have to eat them all in just one sitting
Everything it seems I like’s a little bit sweeter
A little bit fatter, a little bit harmful for me
-- Rufus Wainwright -- Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk

So incredibly true. I can't stop, it's so embarrassing. I tend to have nothing in the house, that way I can't eat it.

Rufus Wainwright - Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk

sexy Starbuck



I'm slowly making my way through older episodes of Battlestar Galactica (the new series, which is a "re-imagining" of the original) and in the episode I'm watching now there's a scene between Starbuck (I still can't get over Starbuck being female in this version) and Admiral Cain. It seems to me there's a whole lot of tension there that's, well, sexual... (Of course it could just be my imagination, but even given the style of this series there just seemed to be something extra there this time.)




Starbuck's the blonde, by the way. Yummyme prefers Six, but I think Starbuck is much more sexy. Of course I used to have something for the old Starbuck too.

three blind mice

Mice, like most mammals, have limited color perception, equivalent to that of people with red-green color blindness. Their eyes have two kinds of color detectors, or "cone" cells, each sensitive to a different part of the spectrum.

Unable to differentiate between reds and greens, they see the world as a blend of blues and yellows, with gray overlays added by black-and-white-registering "rod" cells.

The Washington Post reports today that scientists have found a way of making mice, who are largely colourblind in a similar way to colourblind people, see colour by introducing a human gene.

The work also points to the possibility of curing some of the millions of colorblind Americans -- and even enhancing the vision of healthy people, allowing them to experience a richer palette than is possible with standard-issue eyes.

The italics in that quote are mine. It would be intriguing to know how they think they can enhance healthy people's vision. What they've done to the mice is adding a third colour receptor to the two they have naturally. I'm obviously no biologist, but where would they get a fourth to enhance humans? Are there other species with different receptors?

This is bordering on the science fiction, the idea of an "improved" humans, homo sapiens mark 2. It's not just fixing what is broken (and maybe we shouldn't go into the question whether we should think of people with disabilities as "defective" and in need of repair), it's the creation of "superhumans".

That scares me. Also, I can think of better improvements the human race could use... I'm thinking in song lyrics again. The references to Technicolor in that article triggered this one:

Hi Time magazine, hi Pulitzer Prize
Tribal scars in Technicolor
Bang bang club AK 47 hour
-- Manic Street Preachers -- Kevin Carter

(more about Kevin Carter)

inconspicuous consumption

The more observant readers among you may have noticed I love Scissor Sisters. Those who know me from other boards may also have noticed me moaning about having no money. I'm feeling pretty guilty right now, because earlier today, despite having borrowed from my parents and still being about 100 euros overdrawn, I bought two tickets to Scissor Sisters' outdoor concert on July 4th in Amsterdam (Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek).

So now I'm 189,82 overdrawn. My parents would be mortified and justifiably angry. I hope they're not here when the tickets arrive in the mail. If they are I may have to lie and tell them K had them sent here because he's moving at the end of the month... Which of course makes me feel even more guilty in advance.

In my defense I would like to say that:
  • Scissor Sisters are really VERY good

  • I'm starting work on Monday, so I will be earning soon

  • I'm expecting 255 euro from my health insurance this week (this was my no-claim deposit over 2006)

  • I only pay interest over the overdraft, no fines or anything like that (the interest isn't that high either, in total it would come to a few euros a month)

Thursday, 22 March 2007

true faith



I feel so extraordinary
Something's got a hold on me
I get this feeling I'm in motion
A sudden sense of liberty
I don't care 'cause I'm not there
And I don't care if I'm here tomorrow
Again and again I've taken too much
Of the things that cost you too much

I used to think that the day would never come
I'd see delight in the shade of the morning sun
My morning sun is the drug that brings me near
To the childhood I lost, replaced by fear
I used to think that the day would never come
That my life would depend on the morning sun...

When I was a very small boy,
Very small boys talked to me
Now that we've grown up together
They're afraid of what they see
That's the price that we all pay
Our valued destiny comes to nothing
I can't tell you where we're going
I guess there's just no way of knowing

I used to think that the day would never come
I'd see delight in the shade of the morning sun
My morning sun is the drug that brings me near
To the childhood I lost, replaced by fear
I used to think that the day would never come
That my life would depend on the morning sun...

I feel so extraordinary
Something's got a hold on me
I get this feeling I'm in motion
A sudden sense of liberty
The chances are we've gone too far
You took my time and you took my money
Now I fear you've left me standing
In a world that's so demanding

I used to think that the day would never come
I'd see delight in the shade of the morning sun
My morning sun is the drug that brings me near
To the childhood I lost, replaced by fear
I used to think that the day would never come
That my life would depend on the morning sun...
-- New Order -- True Faith

hot fuzz



For all the bloody murder, the guns and explosions, this movie is really just a love story.

Danny: "This is me..."

Angel: "Well, I shall... see you in the morning."

Danny: "Unless you want to come in for a cup of coffee."

Angel: "I don't drink coffee."

Danny: "Tea...?"

Angel: "No caffeine after mid-day."

Danny: "How about another beer?"

cold snap

"I'm HIV-positive."
"I suspected that."


I can't remember exactly where or when it happened, I suppose we must have been somewhere reasonably private, but I have no memory of our surroundings. K was surprised, of course, and wondered what had made me think that he might have been infected.

I could and still can remember exactly where and when the conversation took place that all but convinced me. It was a year almost to the date after I first met him and we were on a long train journey back from a concert in a rather provincial town. The night before, he had walked out of the concert after thirty minutes and spent the rest of the time drinking at probably the only gay bar in town. Perhaps because he had a cold, the alcohol hit him harder than usual.

Since the concert hadn't started until 11PM this left me trying to find my way across a strange town some time after 1AM to pick him up. And the instructions weren't all that clear. Somehow I found him and I sat with him at the bar while we waited for a cab (I suspect the hotel was only a couple of blocks away but I was lost and he was too drunk), getting filthy looks from the local queens because we were hugging and kissing. Yes, sometimes I do worry about invading their 'safe space', but this time my hag-instincts to take care of K took precedence. And the place was dead before I walked in anyway.

I had been prepared to help him up the stairs to their hotel room, but the night clerk had obviously dealt with drunk and unsteady guests before and swiftly whisked him off. The next morning we had a champagne breakfast, over which I met K's partner for the first time; although he had been in town the night before, he didn't come to the concert or the bar. I'd be surprised if he said more than ten words to me that day and we have never really hit it off since.

For the first half of the train journey - his partner was only travelling with us part of the way - the three of us had a six-seater compartment to ourselves. At some point, for reasons I can not recall, during a conversation I don’t remember, the word blood was mentioned. I suspect it may even have been by me, I'm not sure.

At that exact moment, the temperature dropped. And I knew.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

I love your accent

Miss Foppen, a frail little old lady with arthritic hands, taught me that "I love your accent" was something you didn't want to hear - because it meant you had an accent and they could tell you weren't, well, English. With so much American influence through movies and TV series, plus (my theory) a natural tendency for native Dutch speakers towards the American, I bet we were some of the most English-sounding schoolkids in The Netherlands. I followed her advice and listened to BBC Radio a lot (although I quickly changed from the World Service to 5Live).

But lately, my accent has travelled across the Atlantic. I spend way too much time talking to K. When we're together, we speak English and apparently everybody thinks I'm American, just like him... We met a friend of his last Sunday who figured out, though the conversation rather than my accent, that I'm Dutch. "Oh, so you're from here?" and then he added that I could have been from anywhere in the US.

Perhaps I should work on regaining my English English. After all, it'll make me sound brilliant.

I shouldn't be saying this, high treason really, but I sometimes wonder if Americans aren't fooled by our accent into detecting a brilliance that may not really be there.
-- Stephen Fry

marriage, not straightforward

'Traditional Marriage' Isn't As Straightforward As All That

When Americans say "that's history," notes historian Alan Dawley, they usually mean that "you can forget about it." Unless, of course, they want to justify something by claiming that history "proves" that "it's always been this way." Such is the case of those who rely on "the lessons of history" to oppose same-sex marriage.

Whether one is for or against legalizing same-sex marriage, we must understand that it is heterosexual couples who have been tampering with marriage for the past 200 years. Heterosexuals repealed the old laws mandating wives' subordination to husbands and prohibiting divorce. It was a lawsuit involving a heterosexual Connecticut couple that led the Supreme Court to overturn laws forbidding the sale of contraceptives, thus giving married people the right to decide not to have children.

Heterosexuals also pioneered assisted reproduction, allowing couples who cannot have children to become parents anyway. And it was heterosexuals who repealed the legal definition of marriage as the union of a husband who must play one role in the home and a wife who must play a different one.

Stephanie Coontz teaches history at The Evergreen State College, in Olympia, Wash. She wrote "Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage" (Viking, 2006).
Source: Hartford Courant

heartburn



Is this heartbreak or is this heartburn?
Have I been played or do I need a Rolaid?
Gotta learn the difference 'tween "I loved ya"
The difference 'tween "I loved ya" and the symptoms of ebola
-- Rufus Wainwright -- Heartburn

Heartburn sucks. It sucks my sleep and my dreams. Since I've started to live and eat more healthily, I haven't had too much trouble with it, but sometimes it creeps up on me. Things like coffee and fruit juice are triggers for me and in a fit of invincibility I did enjoy quite a few glasses of a pineapple and passion fruit juice mix yesterday - so I had to be punished. It always manifests itself when I go to bed. Not when I lie down, but before. This at least saves me the discomfort of lying down and getting an extra big gulp of acid sloshing around my aesophagus. Instead I prop myself up against my pillows (I have four sizeable ones all to myself, although I rarely use more than two at a time), risking a stiff neck, interrupted sleep but at least getting some rest - hopefully.

you've got to be carefully taught

One of Joe.My.God.'s commenters posted these lyrics from South Pacific. Although it deals with racism rather than homophobia, it seems to illustrate yesterday's post very well.

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!
-- South Pacfic -- "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught"

By the way, kudos to Rodgers and Hammerstein for sticking to their guns and not cut the song under pressure. Talking about racism being taught and suggesting the possibility of miscegenation was seen by many in 1949 as un-American and communist.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

seething



I am outraged, disgusted and bloody furious.

(thanks to Joe. My. God. for posting it)

EDIT: Suggestions have been made that this could be a parody, or a stunt by Chris Morris, possibly to lure people to a fake demonstration and expose them as bigots. I hope so...

grey cord trousers

My grey corduroy trousers are very important to me. I've always liked them because the legs are composed of three panels, giving three lengthwise seams - and when you're as short as me you take any help you can get to look a little bit taller.

One of the three strips on either side is cut perpendicular to the others, the ribs of the cord running horizontally instead of verticaly. I think that's a fun detail although it may contribute to making me look a little bit wider it doesn't seem to detract from the slimming effect too much.

But the very best thing about my grey cord trousers is that I discovered a couple of days ago that I can pull them down without unzipping or even undoing the top button.

I have lost so many centimeters/inches around my hips and ass that my pants' waistband fits over them. They're not falling down yet, I can wear them without fear, but that is my next goal.

I haven't unfastened those pants since I found out.

reach for the stars


Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night

Last night I realised that the new Rufus Wainwright album title, Release The Stars, reminded me of the expression "reach for the stars". It seems appropriate, since Rufus can never be accused of setting his sights too low...

I'm getting a little bit impatient waiting for this album. Fortunately I have some nice Mika rarities to keep me distracted. I've been evaluating my feelings for Mika this morning, here's a little something I prepared earlier (slightly improved):

Mika's music sounds less complicated and more 'poppy' than most of the stuff I listen to, but that doesn't mean it's rubbish. I can understand how some of it, especially the falsetto parts, can grate. I love Rufus Wainwright and hordes of people say they can't stand his nasal voice, but that's their personal taste.

Love Today isn't one of my favourites either, by the way. Mika said he wanted to write a song around a number of hooks, that's all it is really, I would call it an exercise. But he has a number of other songs that I do enjoy. (Of course Love Today would start playing right now, wouldn't it?)

I think he's becoming one of my guilty secrets, like listening to Take That or something (I don't, it's just an example!). But then there was a time I saw Scissor Sisters in the same light and they have not just grown on me, but grown - and their debut album was definitely a very mature product. That's what I worry about with Mika, I do sometimes feel that his album is a collection of pastiches, like a coffee table book of Van Meegeren paintings: pretty, great technique, but just slightly off because you know they're not real...

I adore Mika and I wish him all the best, but I'm not sure he has 'found his own voice' yet. (hate that expression but can't think of a better one).

Here's a little something extra, a Mika rarity.

Mika - Intoxicated

Monday, 19 March 2007

it's a numbers game

There are some things that I am just not very proud to admit to, because I have this snobbish dislike of anything that's popular. The problem is I get suckered into some of them anyway and then I feel guilty.

(I like the Harry Potter novels.)

*cough* Anyway... I think I did an admirable job holding out against this sudoku craze, but then it snuck up on me and now I'm hooked. Last week it was one of the ways I could tell the meds were having an effect on me, as I was having a lot of trouble concentrating on my daily puzzles (I have one of those puzzle-a-day calendars, it lives in the bathroom). But this Sunday's four-star puzzle went without a hitch and today's 1-star was a total breeze.

I've been thinking about what fascinates me about these 9x9 or (3x3)(3x3) squares. It's something about te order and regularity, the rules are absolute and impossible to circumvent. I sometimes go into what comes close to a trance-like state, it feels like I "see" the patterns before I can deduce them. It feels good.

I also do the sudoku puzzle on the Washington Post website most days. Here's today's puzzle, an easy one to start with if you're not familiar with the concept.

certificate of good conduct



The Dutch Minister of Justice has conducted an investigation into the behaviour of the person mentioned in this certificate and declares that, in view of the risk for society in relation to the purpose for which the certificate is requested and considering the interest of the person, no objections against this person have resulted from this investigation. The Minister hereby issues the Certificate of good conduct, pursuant to article 28 of the Dutch Judicial Records Acts.

Bet you're all glad to hear.

as if Afghanistan wasn't in enough trouble already

It amazes me, but according to this article in the New York Times injectable heroin is only a recent arrival on the streets of Kabul. Afghanistan may be the biggest opium and heroin producer in the world, but apparently until five years ago all the country's users smoked the stuff and the ones shooting up are still a minority.

But it is named as one of the reasons for a threatening boom in HIV infections, the actual subject of the article. Others are the large number of people going abroad in search of work, millions of refugees, lack of testing or treatment facilities, no antiretroviral drugs, inadequate screening of donated blood, social stigma and lack of education (of any kind, including basic health education and safe sex).

Until this year, the members of the government AIDS team worked out of a shipping container on the grounds of the Health Ministry. They have graduated to a drafty unheated hall inside the main building. While the World Bank granted Afghanistan money to gather data and work with high-risk groups, Dr. Rehman’s hopes for an AIDS treatment ward in Kabul, country-wide testing and antiretroviral drugs remain unfulfilled.

tired

I'm so tired... And I'm starting to postpone things again. I cannot afford - literally - to mess up. It's getting very dark outside, earlier it snowed and it looks like we might get a reprise, which isn't really helping because I don't think I should be driving anyway, let alone in those conditions.

I'm worried the tiredness may be a reaction to yesterday. I started to drink without thinking about the consequences and only after a couple thought about possible drug interactions. I didn't think there were any, but now I'm wondering if this could be some kind of delayed response. But the alcohol should be out of my system now, shouldn't it? Perhaps it was going to sleep far too late - again - that did it. But I do that all the time and this uncontrollable yawning is new to me.

Okay, I'm going to handle this because I have to, I'm going to stay sane. But I think I will stay in and try to handle all the email today. That'll be something at least.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

change of plans



So minutes after posting that I was going to work on my backlog of emails, K called, saying he wanted to get out of the house. I figured meeting him in Amsterdam would keep him out of *most* trouble.

By the time I got to Amsterdam Central Station, K was in a backroom somewhere. (Don't ask me why, but he actually answered my call from there!) We agreed to meet up in the same bar we played pool at last week, Spijker - now dubbed "the sleazy bar". - I thought he was in the backroom there, but the bartender said he hadn't seen him, so that was a bit weird.

Fortunately K showed up five minutes later, but we didn't stay there long. After a couple of drinks (and a false start because I left my bag against a stool) we moved on to Prik - now dubbed "the Butterfly Lounge". - We had a chat with the owner and got him to play some Mika for us. A friend of K's walked in, so we had a nice chat with him when K decided to up and leave to meet someone. (You don't want to know, but more importantly I'm not going to tell...) I chatted some more with this friend and then he left to buy salmon for dinner.

Before I left I told the owner about the Scissor Sisters concert next month and that it might be interesting to do something on the Saturday night. They're always very good with theme nights and stuff. Might be fun to take the Scissor Sisters crowd there. I know some of them would've had fun tonight, it was Furball café...



O yes, just as I was about to leave, there was a major hail storm. (stock photo)