Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Walking the Walk

Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimalanga under arrest in Malawi for trying to get married.

The Lord walks with the despised and spat upon all the way to the Resurrection. He walked that path Himself.

Remember these 2 men in your prayers.
Pray not only for them, but for all who can't and won't deliver them from their oppressors.

This is my last post until Easter.



The redundant season.

When are mortality and regrets NOT on our minds?

I will be too busy at work today for ashes. Besides, I always wipe them off before I leave the church, mindful of the Gospel for this day.

Instead of a meditation, here is a movie, Orson Welles' ruined masterpiece, The Magnificent Ambersons, one of the greatest meditations on mortality and regret ever:










I think Madpriest said it best:

so each day is ash wednesday
all this life is ash wednesday

Monday, February 15, 2010

American Politics

The Feckless Party versus The Reckless Party.


Sinan, the Unknown Architect

The BBC Saturday had an article on one of history's finest and most influential architects, a contemporary with Michelangelo and Bramante, whose works probably influenced Palladio, and yet, he remains largely unknown in the West; the great Ottoman architect Sinan.

Sinan more than any other architect created the city of Istanbul/Constantinople that we have today.

Istanbul from the Bosporus

In his long lifetime (he lived to be 100), he designed over 300 works throughout the wide dominions of the Ottoman Empire, and his influence can be seen in buildings from the Balkans to Egypt.

Sinan began his career as an architect very late in life, at the age of 50. He spent most of his life in the Janisarie corps as a military engineer. He was born the son of a Christian stone mason in central Anatolia and conscripted into the Janiseries at a very young age. As was the practice of the time, he was forcibly converted to Islam, and pressed into military service while still a very young boy. He spent most of his life in military service designing and building fortifications and siege works. When he was about the age of 50, the court of the Ottoman Sultanate began commissioning works of civil engineering from him such as bridges, aqueducts, and roads.

Uzunkemer Aqueduct, 1563

They began commissioning public buildings such as bathhouses, caravanseries (public inns for caravans), hospitals, madrasas (religious colleges), and mosques. His talent for such construction, and the elegance of his designs, came to the attention of the sultans. Sinan worked for a number of them, most famously for the greatest of all the Ottoman Sultans, Suleiman (known in the West as "the Conqueror" and in the Muslim world as "the Lawgiver").

In 1453, the city of Constantinople fell to the Ottoman armies, ending the Byzantine Empire and finally ending the last surviving vestige of the ancient Roman Empire. The conquering Sultan Mehmet II claimed the Roman imperial title of Augustus. He then visited the largest and most important of all churches in the East, Hagia Sophia. He began to pray in that church, and instantly transformed it into a mosque.

Hagia Sophia from the west

Hagia Sophia interior

The most important church in the Byzantine Empire and in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, seat of Emperor and bishops that determined orthodoxy for much of the world's Christians, became the most important mosque in the Ottoman Empire and a seat of Muslim religious orthodoxy.
The conquering Ottomans were already accomplished architects, but Hagia Sophia overwhelmed them. They had nothing to compare in size and complexity to that great church. The Great Church would remain an unmet challenge to Ottoman architects until Sinan.
Sinan loved the Great Church and studied it very carefully. Almost all of his greatest mosques are homages to its greatness and variations on its design. Sinan designed and built 3 of the 4 minarets that now adorn Hagia Sophia. The first is a slightly shorter minaret made of brick added by Mehmet II shortly after the church became a mosque.

The Sezhahde Cami was the first large mosque that Sinan built for Suleiman. Suleiman returned from one of his many campaigns in the Balkans to learn that his favorite son, Crown Prince Mehmet, had died at age 22. The mosque was to be his memorial.

Sezhade Cami exterior

Sezhade Cami interior

This is Sinan's first variation on Hagia Sophia on a scale approaching that of the Great Church. Sinan simplifies the church's design and turns it into a more centralized plan; a dome sitting upon 4 massive arches supported by 4 half domes. What Sinan admired most about Hagia Sophia was not its darkness and mystery, but its rational sequence of form from circle to square to rectangle and back to more circles. Sinan would transform Hagia Sophia's dark mysticism into bright clarity of form, with an added sense of harmonious proportion that he learned from the writings of Western architects, especially Alberti, and applies here so beautifully.
Sinan considered this building to be his best work. He took the prototype of the Great Church and gave it a grace of proportion and inevitability of form that the original did not have.

Sinan's largest and most famous mosque is the Suleimaniye Cami, the great mosque of Suleiman that crowns a hill overlooking the Bosporus. This was to be Suleiman's own memorial, a huge mosque that follows Hagia Sophia closely in design.

The Suleimaniye Cami from the Bosporus

The prayer hall of the Suleimaniye from the sahn, or courtyard of the mosque.

The mosque is only the centerpiece of a large complex that included madrasas, inns for travelers, a hospital, a public kitchen, and cemetery containing the Sultan's mausoleum and Sinan's own modest tomb.

One of the Four Madrasas attached to Suleiman's mosque.

This mosque follows Hagia Sophia most closely of all of Sinan's mosques. I would imagine that Sinan was following instructions from the Sultan himself, since the greatest ambition of his reign was to conquer Rome and to build a road from Constantinople to Rome. The Ottoman armies came close, taking Otranto in southern Italy, but did not succeed in that ambition. His march up the Danube was not stopped until his armies reached Vienna. His other disappointed ambition was the conquest of Persia. His armies were defeated by the Safavid rulers of Persia.
The great mosque that Sinan built for him reflects those ambitions, to take the mantle of Rome and to enforce Sunni Muslim orthodoxy upon the Shiite Muslims of Persia.

interior of the Suleimaniye

The interior of the mosque follows the prototype of Hagia Sophia very closely, probably reflecting the Sultan's wishes. The huge tympana on the sides are carried by 4 large porphyry columns recycled from earlier Byzantine buildings, and may have been Roman columns before that. Legend says that they are from the Church of the Apostles which in turn took them from a temple to the deified Emperor Hadrian. What mattered to the Sultan was that they played a role in identifying him with his distant Byzantine predecessors in Constantinople, and his more distant predecessors in Rome.

dome and vaults of Hagia Sophia

dome and vaults of the Suleimaniye

While the Suleimaniye follows the design of Hagia Sophia closely, there are significant differences that we can see when we compare the 2 interiors. Sinan gets rid of the two floors of galleries in Hagia Sophia and simplifies drastically the floor plan. Where large forms like the dome, arches, and semi-domes all flow together with their differences minimized in Hagia Sophia, Sinan emphasizes the transitions with large prominent arches. Whereas Hagia Sophia's interior is dark and full of mystery, the Suleimaniye is light, clear, and open.

Most critics and historians believe that Sinan's greatest work is his last imperial mosque, the great mosque built in Edirne for Suleiman's successor, Sultan Selim II. Sinan was in his 80s when he designed and built this mosque.

The Selimiye Cami, Edirne

Selimiye prayer hall from the sahn

dome of the Selimiye Cami

Sinan returns to the radial symmetry of the Sezhade Cami with a large dome sitting upon an octagon of arches, alternating between tympana and semi-domes. The Selimiye Cami is probably Sinan's most complex and sophisticated variation upon Hagia Sophia.

There are a couple of other works by Sinan that I really love that are less well known.
Such as the Mihrimah mosque in Istanbul, a large dome supported on 4 massive tympana.

The Mirhimah Cami, Istanbul

interior of the Mihrimah Cami

There is also the Mosque Sinan designed as a memorial for Sokollu Mehmet Pasha, a Serbian convert to Islam who served as Vizier or prime minister for the Ottoman Sultans.
The mosque is built into a hillside and entered by a steep subterranean stairway that arrives in the sahn of the mosque.

The Sokollu Mehmet Pasha mosque from the entrance staircase.

The design of the mosque is one of Sinan's most daring, a large dome resting upon a hexagon.

dome of the Sokollu Mosque.

The mosque is famous for the high quality of the Iznik tilework that adorns the qibla wall around the mihrab pointing the direction of Mecca, and on the pendentives between the arches supporting the dome.

qibla wall and mihrab of the Sokollu Mosque

tilework from the Sokollu Mosque

For all of their dependence on the prototype of a great Christian church, Sinan's mosques remain distinctly Muslim. His designs are about a sequence of transitions from shape to shape, from circle to square to hexagon to octagon. We see similar sequences in Islamic pattern, which is why his architecture harmonizes so beautifully with later tilework and stencil-work decoration. So much Islamic pattern and architecture is about forms radiating out from a single point becoming more complex and they move outward, multiplying and subdividing themselves. This is a metaphor for Islam's vision of the one God, and His infinite creative potential.


It's Carnival time, and as usual, nobody tops Brazil. Take a look at this year's Sambadrome in Rio.

And if you want to get naked, cover yourself in glitter, and shake your booty at home, here is some samba with pictures from last year's Carnival:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

"Love me till my heart stops! Love me till I'm dead."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fred Morrison 1920 - 2010

Fred Morrison invented the frisbee. He originally called it the "Pluto Platter". The BBC says he got the idea from tossing a pie pan back and forth on the beach with his future wife, Lu. California kids called it "frisbie" after a popular local pie. Whamo! bought the rights to Morrison's Pluto Platter in 1957, and marketed it as "Frisbee" to appeal to the kids without getting sued by an angry baker.

A Frisbie pie tin. It does look like it could fly.

And ever since ...

It's been fun for young humans ...

... and fun for happy dogs for decades around the world (somewhere in the world right now, even in Iran and North Korea, someone is playing frisbee).

Fun for everyone! (No, I will not vouch for the authenticity of this photo)

God bless you Fred Morrison for bringing so much happiness into the world! What prophet or politician could ever say the same?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

One Little Word

According to the latest CBS, NY Times poll, a majority of Americans support the repeal of DADT. However, a lot depends on how the question is asked. Note how the results varied when the words "gays and lesbians" were used as opposed to the word "homosexual." The variation was greatest among Democrats.

I'm not a military man, or someone with any military interests, and yet, I've know lots of gay and lesbian military vets, including decorated combat veterans and a MASH nurse from the Vietnam War. I also knew 2 gay Korean War vets. There really are more gay Marines out there than most people think, and I've known a few of them. Most of the gay and lesbian vets I've known were from the Air Force, which used to have the reputation as the most gay-friendly of the services (I doubt that's true now in the wake of the evangelical rampages through that branch during the Bush II Administration). I knew a lot folks who served in Navy and Air Force intelligence, many with much needed language skills. Some of these folks stayed closeted and stayed in. Others decided not to re-enlist when the heat got too close. Still others were expelled.

I think with the American military stretched very thin between 2 wars, and setting a dangerous precedent by relying on mercenaries to make up for the troop deficit, the top brass decided that they needed every man and woman they could get, especially those with language skills.

The military is the second biggest closet after the Church (Wall Street may be the third). The historian Allen Berube in his pioneering account of gays in the 20th century American military, Coming Out Under Fire, noted that in World War II, the US military didn't start cracking down on gays and lesbians in its midst until well into 1944. From Pearl Harbor to 1944, there were few discharges for homosexuality. Indeed, claims and accusations of homosexuality were regarded as either shirking duty or settling scores and were ignored. We forget that in 1942, the USA and the Allies were losing the war, and its outcome looked very uncertain. Everyone was needed. It's when victory looked assured that the crackdowns started.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An Outburst

This is a reply to another comment that I posted on a comment thread at Mark Harris' blog Preludium. I begin with that comment.

"Those Global South Primates would probably tell us that it [the schism] happened a bit earlier than that, when they said (unanimously as a body)that our proposed actions would tear at the fabric of the communion, and we went ahead despite the warnings and pleas."

I can only imagine the reaction if the shoe was on the other foot, and we pleaded with Global South Primates to refrain from certain proposed actions. I'm sure they would listen patiently and considerately to the reservations of affluent Westerners who once colonized them, and refrain from any actions that we might find offensive... only in our dreams! They'd tell us all to go climb a tree.
They did just that when they told us to take our "listening process" and our ecclesiastical autonomy and go stuff it.

I find the Church in Uganda's latest report suggesting that it will support the draconian anti-gay legislation before the Ugandan parliament deeply offensive, and I'm not alone. Since I'm not a right wing billionaire with piles of money to pour into the ambitions of any aspiring Prince of the Church, my opinion doesn't count for much.
But I will keep it anyway.

I'm confident that the Christian Faith will survive, but I think the Church is about to shipwreck on the gay issue.
By clinging to a position on sexuality that is rapidly becoming as obsolete as the Ptolemaic cosmic model, the Church once again faces a sharp loss in its moral authority in the larger world. Most of the Western World (and a larger part of the Non-Western World than most people imagine) has already moved on and sees gay folk as healthy fellow human beings and citizens. The recalcitrance of church hierarchies and fundamentalist movements on this issue will ghettoize the Church into a community of self-isolating fanatics that has nothing to say to people or to their experiences. The Church won't have anything to say to people, and they will conclude that the Church doesn't care about them or their lives.

LGBTs see that hierarchs from the Pope to the Archbishop of Canterbury require that they loathe themselves and their sexuality as the minimum price for admission to the Feast. Most LGBTs shook the dust of the Church off their feet a long time ago. That there are still any openly gay Christians at all is testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps there is a big theological and ethical question ecclesiastical hierarchs must ask themselves if they wish to remain so contrary on what many see as a moral issue of human dignity and human rights. If the Church no longer wants to be a friend of humanity, then can it remain a friend of God who created humanity?

--a deeply frustrated gay Christian pewsitter.

As for the Rev'd Harris' Schism Clock on his post, as far as I'm concerned, it's 1AM. The Schism already happened.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snow Day Tomorrow!

Mayor Quimby of Springfield declared "Snow Day" the "funnest day in history," but Mayor Bloomberg of New York shut down the schools for tomorrow. My college also shut down for the day tomorrow.
The local news and weather channels have been running around screaming like it's the Apocalypse. So far, it's cloudy and 40F degrees outside.

I think the Mayor made the right decision. The real blizzard isn't supposed to hit until the afternoon when the wee ones are getting out of school. There's lots of talk about "well, what if nothing happens like last time?" If we just get a dusting again, people will feel very silly. Better that than some kids in a weather related accident on the way home from school.

Well, maybe it will be a heavy snow after all. It's 10PM and the snow just started, a few hours earlier than expected.

It's 9AM and we had about 3 inches in the last hour. Maybe this will be a big snow after all. The main event still has yet to arrive.
I plan to enjoy the little holiday, take a nap, and get some back work done.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Congratulations Mimi!

Who dat struttin' down South Rampart Street dis mawnin'? It's Mimi and her Saints!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Very Serious Buddhist Bells and Smells ...

... with drums and fire.

Japanese Buddhist High Church, a "Fire Ceremony"

My knowledge of Buddhism is very superficial, and I have no idea about the significance of this ceremony. I'm guessing that this is one of those forms of Esoteric Buddhism that began in northern India and found their way into Japan by way of Tibet, China, and Korea centuries ago. I presume that they are chanting a Sutra or Buddhist scripture.
It appears to be some kind of healing ritual, or at least healing might be part of the ritual.
Whatever it is, it's very dramatic to watch.

This is an encore presentation from last year. I hope my longtime audience will be patient.

Womb Mandala, Heian Japan, 9th century

Womb Mandala, detail

Golden Hall of the Jingo-ji Temple of the Shingon sect of Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, Kyoto, founded in 824.

And lest we think that getting bored and impatient with church is exclusively Western, here is one of four 12th century scrolls together known as Choju Giga (Frolicking Animals). Here, monkeys, rabbits, and foxes perform a Buddhist ceremony. A monkey chants a sutra before a frog Buddha while another monkey in the upper right dozes over his rosary.

Why Gene Robinson Will Always Be A Better Christian Than Me

Watch how he answers a hostile question:

I think his answer is quite conservative. It's a bit ironic since the right considers him to be beyond a heretic, a living sacrilege.

Hat tip to the great Madpriest.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Why is it that liberals and progessive dirty hippies are always expected to mind their manners ...

... while right wingers can say just about anything they want and never get called on it?

But American liberals, to a degree far surpassing conservatives, appear committed to the proposition that their views are correct, self-evident, and based on fact and reason, while conservative positions are not just wrong but illegitimate, ideological and unworthy of serious consideration. Indeed, all the appeals to bipartisanship notwithstanding, President Obama and other leading liberal voices have joined in a chorus of intellectual condescension.
--Gerard Alexander in tomorrow's Washington Post

Where are Our Nation's Pundits who are always wringing their anointed hands over the "loss of civility" in public discourse here? I suppose they are too busy writing columns complaining about liberal left bloggers who are smarter than they are to notice items like the following:

Gerard Alexander can kiss my red white and blue Texas ass! -- he said with liberal condescension.

I remain unmoved by the Tea-baggers. I notice that their angry crowds are overwhelmingly white and middle-aged to elderly. Network reporters seem beguiled by them, as if they are a Norman Rockwell painting come to life and in a frothing purple fit, small town America (at least the elderly part of it) spittin' and cursin' on the teevee. This is Sarah Palin's "Real America" gone 'round the bend. Never mind that El Barrio, Harlem, the Lower East Side, and the Village are also very real and in America (and much older than "the heartland," the first people to settle New York were the Dutch, Africans free and enslaved, and Jews fleeing the Inquisition; the English didn't arrive until much later; my German ancestors, who would sire a whole dynasty of political and religious "heartland" conservatives, arrived in 1849 at the South Street seaport as unmarried teenagers with an infant son and no papers and no money; sound familiar?).

The Tea-baggers are twins to the crazy people in Russia who publicly wax nostalgic for Stalin. Those crowds are predominantly elderly and angry too (the elderly Russians are a little more openly antisemitic). Both groups hate liberals just as much as Stalin did. Stalin lived the ultimate teabagger fantasy and murdered liberals by the trainload.

As far as I'm concerned, they are the same bitter old cranks I've known since I was a boy. I knew a lot of them. I couldn't help it. I lived among them and was related to a lot of them. I remember vividly all the "he had it coming" comments when Dr. King died. None of this is new. They are direct descendants of the folks who called Eisenhower a communist after the Republican party leadership gave their champion Robert Taft the bum's rush in the 1952 party convention. They are the same folks who punched and kicked Adlai Stevenson in Dallas in 1963 just weeks before JFK was assassinated. They are in a froth because they know their day is over. The world is changing in ways that no one can stop. They are battling against the tide.

A lot of pundits speculate that this anger comes from hard times. Maybe, but those suffering some of the worst of it are the very brown people these folks blame for the whole crisis.

There was a great African American historian and pioneer of African American studies whose name, alas, I do not remember, who said that poor whites were always promised that they would never be on the bottom of society. The privilege and the safety of being white is over. In the current economic crisis, the experience of a lot of folks is downward mobility, stoking very deep and ancient resentments on top of new anxieties.

Hat tips to Digby and Tristero at Hullabaloo.

In the Teeth of the Beast

"C Street House"

I have many complaints about our President right now, but I give him a lot of credit for taking the Ugandan "Kill the Gays" legislation and all legal and religious discrimination against gays and lesbians right into the teeth of the beast at the National Prayer Breakfast.

Here is the segment from the Rachel Maddow Show reporting on this. It features our own Bishop Gene Robinson.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Usually Democratic politicians tip toe meekly around the very powerful organization of senators, congressional representatives, governors, military brass, and corporate maharajas known as "The Family" that sponsors The National Prayer Breakfast. Both the President and Hillary Clinton made strong, forceful, and unequivocal statements condemning not just the Ugandan bill, but all discrimination against gays and lesbians before a hostile audience.

There were a lot of liberal groups who urged Obama and Clinton not to attend the Breakfast, but I think they surprised everyone.

I give Rachel Maddow a lot of credit for her efforts to bring "The Family" and its doings into the light of day, and publicly promoting the work of reporters (especially Jeff Sharlett) who've spent a lot of time and effort investigating this shadowy organization. "The Family" has been around since 1935. It began as an organization of wealthy right wing business people to finance and support Franco's Falange in the Spanish Civil War, and Mussolini in Italy. It continues to flourish today secretly financing and backing all kinds of right wing and supremacist efforts around the world.

One last thing: I wholeheartedly agree with Bishop Robinson that we must hold these American right wing groups responsible for this draconian proposed legislation in Uganda no matter how much they try to distance themselves from it. Uganda for them is nothing more than a laboratory to see what kind of punitive discrimination would be possible. These groups clearly and unequivocally want to re-criminalize and pathologize LGBTs. For the Ugandan government, the Gay Menace! is a welcome distraction from their own poor record, an opportunity to deflect the anger of their people.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Old People Should Not Serve In The Senate

Jon Stewart and John Oliver on the fitness of old people for public office. Do they threaten the high standards, unit cohesion, and morale of the United States Senate?

If we can't repeal DADT, then let's repeal the Senate, America's House of Lords.

"Senate," from the Latin senus, or old man. How curious that the word "senile" comes from the same root as "senate."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Question for the Day

When did Christianity change from "Love thy neighbor as thyself" to "The hell with thy neighbor, he had it coming?"

I must have missed that memo.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Summer Solstice Sunrise at Stonehenge 2009

Here's something I shared with my students. We just finished Neolithic art.

Stoners among the stones of Stonehenge.

Looks like fun to me.

... especially if I was 25 years younger.

Monday, February 1, 2010

"Not One Swine Calls Me ... "

... not a single damn sow takes any interest in me!"

Max Raabe und das Palast Orchester on why some people make themselves lonely:

Here's a bowdlerized translation

Not a soul calls me.*
No one shows any interest in me.
As long as I’ve lived here,
it’s almost a taunt,
my telephone has been silent.

Not a soul calls me.
No one shows any interest in me.
And I ask myself,
does anyone occasionally
ever think of me?

I find the situation highly fatal,
for the current age not normal,
when everyone only complains about
the telephone fraying their nerves.
I hardly dare go out the door,
for I’ve always suspected
that as soon as I leave the house
it rings or beeps.

Not a soul calls me.
No one shows any interest in me.
As long as I’ve lived here,
it’s almost a taunt,
my telephone has been silent.

Not a soul calls me.
No one shows any interest in me.
And I ask myself,
does anyone occasionally
ever think of me?

Perhaps it’s that some
believe I’m in the land of the Danes.
Or far from here,
where the hyenas yawn.

Not a soul calls me.
No one shows any interest in me.
But it’s not my fault;
I pay the telephone bill every month.

That was no longer acceptable.
There had to be a solution!
Right away for me it was
an answering machine.
And then when I came home,
I was overcome with happiness and joy.
Merrily blinking at me, the machine said
that someone had called.

The sweet voice of a woman
betrays me and says:
“Forgive me, my dear sir,
I dialed the wrong number.”

And if you want to sing along, here are the original German lyrics:

Kein Schwein ruft mich an.
Keine Sau interessiert sich für mich.
Solange ich hier wohn’,
ist es fast wie Hohn,
schweigt das Telefon.

Kein Schwein ruft mich an.
Keine Sau interessiert sich für mich.
Und ich frage mich,
denkt gelegentlich
jemand mal an mich?

Den Zustand find’ ich höchst fatal,
für heut’ge Zeiten nicht normal,
wo jeder nur darüber klagt,
das Telefon an Nerven nagt.
Ich traue mich kaum mehr aus der Tür,
denn stets hab’ ich vermutet,
dass, kaum dass ich das Haus verlass’
es klingelt oder tutet.

Kein Schwein ruft mich an.
Keine Sau interessiert sich für mich.
Solange ich hier wohn’,
ist es fast wie Hohn,
schweigt das Telefon.

Kein Schwein ruft mich an.
Keine Sau interessiert sich für mich.
Und ich frage mich,
denkt gelegentlich
jemand mal an mich?

Vielleicht, dass manche mich
im Land der Dänen wähnen.
Oder fern von hier,
wo die Hyänen gähnen.

Kein Schwein ruft mich an.
Keine Sau interessiert sich für mich.
Doch liegt es nicht an mir,
ich zahle monatlich die Telefongebühr.

Das war für mich kein Zustand mehr.
Es musste eine Lösung her!
Das war für mich sofort
der Anrufbeantworter.
Und als ich dann nach Hause kam,
war ich vor Glück und Freude lahm.
Es blinkt mir froh der Apparat,
dass jemand angerufen hat.

Die süße Stimme einer Frau
verrät mir und erzählt:
“Verzeihen Sie mein werter Herr,
ich habe mich verwählt.”

The lot of the misanthrope, a quiet telephone and an empty answering machine.

End in Sight for DADT?

According to the NY Times, Congressional hearings begin tomorrow on DADT for the first time in 17 years. Obama apparently has had several meetings with the military brass about ending the policy. He seems to be getting little if any resistance to the change, but a lot of questions about the timing (two wars and all that). It looks like the change will take place incrementally in true centrist Democrat fashion. Activists warn that this might provide opponents with an opportunity to create the unit fracturing they bang on about.

I know some people who are largely indifferent to military matters, who are usually pacifists and object to anything military. Maybe, but the military is a fact of life that will probably be around in one form or another until the Eschaton. In this country, changes in military policy reverberate into the rest of society. Truman's decision to desegregate the military encouraged movements to desegregate schools and cities. The increasing integration of women into the military cued businesses into integrating women more and more into the professions and trades. The end of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" will be a huge step forward for LGBTs, and for straight folk; an end to uncertainty and the risk of being caught up in anti-gay dragnets.

Here's a reminder of how high a price was paid to get to this point,

Private First Class Barry Winchell.

This is in addition to the thousands of careers ended to accommodate conventional bigotry.


Time for juice and cereal all you middle aged kids. Don't miss the school bus!