Saturday, March 27, 2010

Evening News 3/27/10

The lost language of cranes. A crane tips over in lower Manhattan, smacking into a building. Luckily no one was injured.

All I said was that Jesus was a cocksucker. Some people in Texas are offended by this innocuous idea.

In the heart of the Old Dominion... The state of Virginia isn't as interested in knee-jerk bigotry as the Governor and Attorney General had hoped.

First they banned gay marriage, then the joke was that they would ban gay funerals. Apparently, the bishop of the city of Tursi didn't get the message. (Via Joe My God)

(Random picture of a Canadian mountie from... I'm not sure where. Let me know if you recognize the thing.)

Homophobia is Alive and Well

So last night Dr. Snickerdoodle and I were walking home from dinner and a guy started shouting homophobic slurs at us from the roof of the local library.

Dr. Snickerdoodle remained calm but I lost my sh*t and started screaming at the guy.

You'd think that after 25 years I would be used to this, but it always catches me off guard.

What do the billions of Flaming Chef Fans think of this?

Morning News 3/27/10

Rachel Maddow, the straw lesbian. JR Russell over at Lez get real has a charming essay about Mass. Senator Scott Brown's fund raising letter that makes not-so-subtle reference to Ms. Maddow's Saphotasticness which is true and fabu. But the idea that she plans to challenge him for his seat is absurd.

There, now nobody is happy. The Israelis and the Palestinians are still slaughtering one another, complicating US attempts to get them to stop slaughtering one another.

We Germans aren't all smiles und sunshine. German Chancellor Angela Merkel takes a very strong role in negotiating the Greek bail out, prompting some in the EU to resent her very strong role.

Watch out Laszlo Panaflex! Actor Dennis Hopper honored with star on Hollywood's Walk of fame.

(Image of Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow in MGM's 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz.")

Friday, March 26, 2010

Iceland Bans Sex(work): Good Thing?

Julie Bindel over at the Guardian posted a story yesterday about Iceland cracking down on its sex industry called "Iceland: the World's most feminist country."

Of course women should not be coerced into the sex industry and sex trafficking is an inexcusable human rights abuse. However, Bindel's assertion that "shutting down" the sex industry is the best way to halt these abuses is, to me unpersuasive and counter-intuitive.

Making prostitution illegal does not make prostitution go away.

Sex work has been around for a long time (see photo) and it isn't going away any time soon. Prohibition simply forces its participants underground. Once criminalized, prostitutes have less or no access to the legal system that should protect them from human trafficking. As long as prostitution is illegal, pimps can coerce their hookers with drugs and violence without fear that their "employees" will complain in any meaningful way.

What are they going to do, call the cops?

I think Nevada is on the right track and Iceland is making an all-too-common mistake.

(Photo from a whorehouse mural uncovered and restored in the ruins of Pompeii. From Dear Kitty.)

Analysis: Why the Prop 8 Trial Matters

The Prop 8 trial drawing to a close in federal court in California is the most important legal case put forward on behalf of gays and lesbians, ever. It may sound incredible, but in a sense, we are fighting over whether or not gay people exist in the eyes of the federal government, and whether or not there is such a thing as discrimination against us.

Not everyone wants to read all 2,951 pages of the court transcripts, but since I did, I want to offer a very short overview of this case as I see it.

The Olsen/Boies team has offered clear and comprehensive evidence that California's constitutional marriage ban:

1. Harms gay citizens and our families.
2. Violates federal constitutional gauranties of due process and equal protection.
3. Was passed in a manner consistent with historical patterns of anti-gay prejudice.
4. Is indicative of the fact that gays and lesbians do not possess a meaningful amount of political power in the American Legal system. In fact, LGBT's are more statutorily disadvantaged than African Americans and women were when they were granted suspect and quasi-suspect classification.

On the other side of the case, the proponents of Prop 8 have left enormous gaps in their "argument."

1. They have no evidence to support their claim that marriage equality harms society.
2. They agree with our experts that the marriage ban harms gay couples and our families.
3. They agree with our experts that marriage equality would benefit gay families and help reduce anti-gay prejudice.
4. They did not provide a meaningful rebuttal to our side's argument that gays and lesbians do not possess a meaningful amount of political power.
5. They agree that prop 8 stripped a disfavored minority of a fundamental, constitutional right.

The shortest and best overview of our side's case is the Plaintiff's Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, which you can find in .pdf form here. It is a tour de force of legal scholarship with a clear, logical flow and will go down in history as a masterpiece.

The Proponents summary however, is an irritating, 223 point bullet list replete with innuendo, homophobic smears and woolly thinking. It lacks logical flow and does not construct or follow a coherent line of reasoning.

We are still waiting for the judge to schedule closing arguments and I will keep you posted as soon as I hear anything. Also, stay tuned to Firedoglake's trial tracker and AFER's trial tracker and the Trial reenactment on youtube. If you can, consider donating to these groups so they can keep their excellent coverage coming.

Any law-types out there who want to chime in with your expertise, please do so.

(Photo from

Morning News 3/26/10

On second thought, I guess I did know all about what was going on. The New York Times has revealed documents demonstrating that then Cardinal Ratzinger knew that a serial pedophile priest returned to working with children within days after beginning treatment.

"Tiny" adorable T-Rex found in Australia, only 10 feet tall. First evidence of this species in the southern hemisphere expands our understanding of dinosaur evolution.

If a gay soldier is injured on the battlefield, would the military have to allow his husband access to his bedside? Government officials will have to think about it, but SLDN urges that we focus on DADT first, then worry about the "what-ifs?"

Clamping down on human freedom from beyond the grave. Fundamentalist group first established by Indonesian dictator Suharto, successful in halting sexual minority conference in Jakarta.

Try that in America and they'd shoot you. British Docs call for smoking ban to be extended to cars, beaches, parks and outside of all buildings.

Earthy vernacular, indeed. Premier Morgan Tsvangirai explains that protections for gays have no place in Zimbabwe's constitution by describing a man breathing on another man's neck as they "hump."

(Photo of dancing cigarettes from

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Evening News 3/25/10

More talk today of making the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law less draconian. I agree with those who are saying we need full repeal and are asking what has taken so long for us to get this far.

Regarding the Pope: A good overview of the developing crisis as the Catholic Church deals with more and more sex-abuse scandals that have steadily come closer and closer to Benedict.

David Frum booted from conservative think tank for suggesting that Obama's health care reform package is not terrible.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released findings from a study that shows that gay men in the District of Columbia are five times more likely to be HIV positive than the rest of the city's adults and teenagers. But gay men younger than 30 used condoms more often, got tested more frequently and had fewer sex partners.

What a relief! Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell explains that laws protecting gays from discrimination aren't necessary because discrimination against gays isn't "a real problem."

(Random Photo of Pink Puddin' from: I don't know where I got this one. Anyone recognize this image?)

In Honor Of Christiaan Huygens

On this day in 1655, Christiaan Huygens discovered Saturn's moon Titan. Below is NASA's breathtaking footage as the Huygens probe drifts over landscape suggestive of snowy mountaintops, river channels and shorelines before coming to rest in a dry riverbed scattered with polished stones.

One of my favorite moments in the film starts at 3:42 into the 4:41 footage, when the shadow of the probe's parachute passes across the eerily familiar terrain.

Robert Culp 1930-2010

Damn, damn, damn!

Robert Culp, writer, comedian, actor and eater of dog biscuits died on March 24th. "I Spy," "Greatest American Hero," "Wagon Train," "Bonanza," "Rawhide," the list of his TV credits touches upon all the mainstays of American television history.

He was a funny, talented man and his death makes me sad. My condolences to his family and friends.

(Photo of Robert Culp from the Debbie Young Groves Collections via fifties

Breast Implants for Illegal Immigrants!

From Lil Larry, here's a link to Mark Fiore's latest 'toon in which Mr. Dan and Dogboy discuss the new Health Care Reform Bill.

Peppy, fun and short.

Morning News 3/25/10

Charges that the Catholic Church repeatedly chose to protect itself by silencing the victims of priestly sex abuse strike directly at Pope Benedict. You will recall that Pope Benedict's job before he became Popified, was as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith which was responsible for dealing with allegations of sex abuse by priests.
Even Sinead O'Conner is speaking up, not happy with the Pope's recent letter to Irish Catholics. "There should be a full criminal investigation of the Catholic hierarchy of any country in which this has been an issue. There should be a full criminal investigation of the Vatican."

"Could you rephrase that as an ethical question?"
"Yes. Is it right to buy an iphone app to help me plan for passover?"
There are apps to help you find kosher foods, pronounce the four questions correctly and the Washington Post reports that more than 11,000 people have signed up for "Tweet the Exodus" updates.
What a time to be alive.

The Dude does not mind.
Californians will vote this November on whether to legalize marijuana in that state.

Mullin and Gates announce that they will find a kinder, gentler way to enforce the disgusting and inexcusable Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. They claim that this is a step in the right direction, designed to change the culture in advance of full repeal.
I know a way to really change the culture, get rid of DADT now.

Towleroad is reporting on a Public Policy Institute of California poll that now shows more people in that state support marriage equality than oppose it.

Add another to the stack. A possible new hominid species has been discovered in a cave in southern Siberia. Identified by its mitochondrial DNA as distinct from Neanderthals and modern humans, more study is required before the bone fragment leads to the designation of a new member of the human family.

(Photo of museum quality replica "Lucy" skull from Skulls Unlimited. Seriously, go to their site and have a look. You can buy anything there and it kicks ass!)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What Concentric Circle of Hell is This?

Just got back from Costco with Little Larry.

Lot of Christian-Bible-related DVD's in the movie section.

I ate a whole hot dog all by myself and Larry ate two. But I made up for it by eating an entire chocolate/vanilla swirl yogurt thing.

No crowd-related anxiety attack, but I was really glad to get out of there.

(Photo of Costco Frozen Yogurt from

An Open Letter to the Republican Party (from TPM)

(Thanks to Dan Savage at SLOG)

Russel King over at Talking Points Memo has a thoroughly footnoted catalogue of some recent problems with the Republican Party in this country.

Short version: nix the hatred and hypocrisy.

I am not a huge fan of the Democrats either, but I recommend King's piece and the discussion thread that follows it.

I appreciate that he presents this list as an admonishment, but he also presents it as plea to the Republicans to return to some of their philosophies that are good.

He ends with:

"We may or may not agree with your values and vision, but we'll certainly welcome you back to the American mainstream with open arms. We need you."

Shout Out to Ireland!

The Flaming Chef is still figuring out how this here blog-thing works, and I don't want to frighten anyone with my big-brotherishness, but I think I have a reader in Ireland!


Hi there Ireland, glad to have you aboard.

I've heard that you're having a culinary renaissance over there with marvelous places to eat. I'd love to hear from you about that and other goings on on the third largest Island in Europe.

But don't feel any pressure. I mostly just wanted to say "hello."

(Photo of Ireland from space by NASA JPL.)

Morning News 3/24/10

"Ow, my freakin' ears!"

"Well I expect that kind of language at Denny's, but not here!"

Joe Biden swears. Everyone on the planet is totally indignant because we've never heard the F-word before.

"Hey buddy, can you spare a drachma? ...I mean, Euro?" EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn urges Europe to find an EU solution to Greece's debt crisis. But Germany is cranky and says "Go IMF yourself!"

Tory Leader David Cameron had a bit of trouble reaching out to gays in the UK during a taped interview with the Gay Times. After he fumbled through questions about EU votes on gay equality, "(t)he interviewer (told) Cameron: "If we vote for you, we want you to vote for us."
The Tory leader said: "I do, I do. Do you know – can we stop for a second?""

The Cameron interview, and commentary about it, is less than 3 minutes long and well worth a look for the issues it brings up. Politicians are learning to play good lip service to the gay community, but when it comes down to fundamental conviction about our equality as a human rights matter, it is clear that we still have a long way to go.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Evening News 3/23/10

Went to happy hour at Davis Street Tavern today with Linda and Jim. We shared several plates of oysters, a hangar steak and frítes, sausage platter, cheese plate and several lovely cocktails. Definitely worth your time.

President Obama signed Health Care Reform into Law today.

Robert Gates may announce a more humane way to discriminate against gay soldiers ahead of possible full repeal of the repugnant "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy.

A federal judge ruled that a Mississippi school board violated Constance McMillen's rights by cancelling her high school's prom. But he didn't order them to hold the prom either. This reminds me of southern communities filling in their swimming pools with sand rather than integrating them back in the 60's.

(Update: Dan Savage over on SLOG has a super recap of Constance's court proceedings today and a great interview with her that is worth checking out.)

The ACLU and Equality California have appealed Judge Walker's ruling that they turn over their internal campaign documents for the Prop 8 Trial.

(Photo of the Davis Street Tavern from the Portland Mercury.)

Morning News 3/23/10

Civility is alive and well: Texas Rep. Neugebauer is kinda sorry he yelled "baby killer" at Rep. Stupak.

The entire state of California is cranky about... everything. 69% consider jobs and the economy to be among the most important issues for the upcoming governor's race.

Finally, space travel for the rest of us. Virgin Galactic conducts test flight of suborbital vehicle capable of carrying six passengers. Now a mere $200,000 per ticket.

Bleckley County High School in Cochran, Georgia will allow gay senior Derrick Martin to take his boyfriend to the prom. Isn't that nice?

I think Jesus is getting a little fat. An art survey study indicates that the depiction of last-supper portion sizes has steadily grown over the last thousand years.

And speaking of Jesus, fat people, and being cranky: Andy Borowitz reports that the teabaggers are mad that Michelle Obama wants to take away their constitutional right to Big Macs. (Hat tip Ryan McShorts)

Borowitz quotes teabagger Carol Foyler: "Rush Limbaugh is definitely with us."

(Image by unknown artist of "The Lard Jesus" from Freethinker.)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Well Spoken Cutie Pie Speaks

Towleroad has some excerpts of Dan Choi's interview with Newsweek.

The theme in this short interview is the conflict in the LGBTQ community between the elites (as exemplified by the HRC) and those who are willing to cause trouble (like Get Equal) to move our agenda forward.

Both strategies are necessary, but if DADT repeal is not part of the defense authorization bill that Obama presents to congress it will be a further indication that we need more Dan Chois and fewer champaigne receptions at the White House.

Said Choi:

"I'm not guilty, I'm not ashamed, and I'm not finished."

(Photo by Sean MD80)

US State Dept Reports on Global LGBTQ Condition

The Country Report on Human Rights Practices produced by the US State Department, this year took an unprecedented look at the condition of LGBTQ persons in almost every country.

The conditions run the gamut from beheadings and imprisonment all the way up to full marriage equality. Needless to say, full civil marriage equality is not the norm.

A .pdf of the whole report is here.

I Think Its Called Sports

A local bunch of guys displayed greater ball-handling skills last night than another bunch of guys who were not local. The two "teams" (as they call themselves) "played" against each other for several hours in a rectangular arena surrounded by thousands of people who cared about one side or the other.

The people who witnessed the event, or "fans" paid money to watch the proceedings and referred to the "game" as "basketball."

More on this fascinating discovery as events warrant.

Prop 8 Update 3/22/10


The defenders of bigotry and prop 8 now claim that there never should have been a trial in the first place.

The New York Times quotes plaintiff attorney, Ted Olsen:

“They’ve got to complain about something,” he said. “They think they’re going to lose.”

Check out the Prop 8 Trial Tracker, Firedoglake and the Marriage Trial re-enactment on Youtube for even more coverage.

(Hat tip to Dr. Snickerdoodle. Not sure where this baby picture came from.)

How They Voted: Graphic Map

The New York Times, (via SLOG) has a map of the US that breaks down how congress voted on HCR. Worth a look-see, even though it holds no surprises.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Re: Facebook And Other Traumas

The Flaming Chef joined Facebook today and I've received approximately 1 billion emails from old friends from all over the place.

I'm touched, I'm moved and I need another cocktail.

First I get a cell phone, then I start blogging, and now this.

What's next, a horseless carriage?

I swear, the 21st Century will be the death of me.

Shirtless Sunday Movie Recommendation

Don Chaffey's "Jason and the Argonauts" is packed with Ray Harryhausen special effects and shirtless men. What more do you need?

Bask in the glory as Jason, heir to the throne of Thessaly embarks on a mostly shirtless quest ordained by the Gods to retrieve the golden fleece.

Lots of stop motion beasties and, did I already mention that this movie is packed with shirtless men? Don't miss Hercules's adorable and heartbreaking daddy-crush on Hylas, the brainy younger man who also looks good without his shirt on.

Grab some popcorn and maybe some whiskey and waste the precious gift of life that God granted you with this 1963 festival of cheese and...

...shirtless men.

(Picture of hunky, daddy Hercules (Nigel Green) from Seventh

Sunday Morning News 3/21/10

Wonderful article by Scott Calvert in the Baltimore Sun about Maryland gay couples flocking to DC to marry in the wake of Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler's legal opinion that gay marriages would be recognized in his state. Maryland resident Lisa Polyak's simple words sum up most of my feelings:

"I wonder when people are going to get past what is holding them back from saying we deserve simple equality(?)"

(Hat tip to Dr. Snickerdoodle.)

It is going to be a real nail-biter: Congress votes today on Health Care Reform. The Boston Globe reports that abortion remains a contentious component, but it looks like the special gimme to Nebraska is out. I'm still not clear on whether the new tax on so-called "Cadillac plans" will still be there. You will recall that this new tax has really upset labor unions. Anyone out there who knows more clearly about this one-please comment or contact me.

Stay classy guys: The Washington Post has some good coverage of the ugly protest that took place yesterday when teabaggers spit on Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver and called him a nigger. They also called Rep. Barney Frank a faggot, but refrained from spitting.

Special Volcano Porn for Wicker Parker: 450 people have been evacuated from an area 100 miles southeast of Reykjavik, Iceland because a volcano is shooting its wad like a frat boy on a date.

(I'm not sure who took the above picture or which volcano is shown. If you know, or if you are the owner of the copyright, please contact me and I will attribute or remove the picture immediately.
(Update: Photo by Patrick Gansler)