Raznor's Rants

Costarring Raznor's reality-based friends!

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Posted by the bekka

I read Jill at Feministe's post and was moved to make some comments about the conservative response to Brokeback Mountain (and homosexuality in general). Here they are for your enjoyment: enjoy, darn you!

1. If gays and lesbians were to “recruit,” they’d have one hell of a pitch for potential proteges: discrimination, hate crimes, contempt and disgust, legal inequality, and ostracism from family and loved ones. I wonder how this can be repeatedly construed by people whom homosexuality makes “uncomfortable” as a compelling recruitment package? And besides, our country isn’t exactly in a mood to be recruited right now (see under: US Armed Forces).

2. Wow. The Marlboro Man is an enduring symbol of America. That’s terrific, considering that he’s an advertising concept. Here’s a little background on him.

Dr. John Watson, one of the founding fathers of Behavioral Science, pioneered the use of behavioral modification in his post-psychology career as a Wall Street advertising executive. Ever seen really, really old commercials? How they just tell you - straightforwardly - all about how good the product is? And it seems really strange? Watson was one of the first to identify the comparative power of pairing a product with an emotionally provocative image (Pavlovian or Classical Conditioning) such that the consumer would associate the feelings from the image to the product. This is a much more effective way of enticing a customer - it’s an emotional appeal, not an intellectual one.

Enter the Marlboro Man. Marlboro was originally sold as a cigarette for women, and Philip Morris wanted to redirect it towards the male market. In a rap session, their ad execs asked themselves, “What’s the most manly thing you can think of?” Of course, the immediate response was “a cowboy.” And thus the Marlboro Man was born, and a resounding success he was - Marlboro is now one of the most popular brands of cigarette on the market. Oh, and here’s the clincher - ever notice how the Marlboro Man is on the advertising, but not the cigarette pack? That’s because, according to the ad execs who created him, the Marlboro Man represents the American dream - a dream of freedom - and they wouldn’t want you to crush that dream and throw it away every time you finish a pack.

Hmmm. Now that I think of it, maybe the Marlboro Man is a enduring symbol of America - of consumer manipulation lurking under the guise of “freedom of choice.”

Template Change
Posted by Raznor

This excellent post by Jill over at Feministe reminded me of the last time I saw Skip before his death last month, watching Brokeback Mountain, which was the last film Skip saw. So for at least a month, I'll have the tribute to Skip at the top of this page, with the excellent picture of him dancing with the Bekka at Ross and Bekka's wedding last August.

I finally took down the cost of Iraq war applet. Suffice to say, it costs a lot of money. We get it by now.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Is it still saturday? Dog blogging
Posted by Raznor

Been a busy weekend, and I completely forgot about dog-blogging yesterday. But here's a couple pictures of Hermes with his milk bone.

In other Hermes related news, Gus moved into the house today, so next week, prepare for more Hermes and Gus pics!

That's Hermes carrying his bone.

Prepare to be eaten, bone!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Yes some hunters are gay
Posted by Raznor

A great article in The Daily Sun by a gay hunter talking about Brokeback Mountain. And it's really his personal experience with the story that really got to me.

Isaw Brokeback Mountain a short walk from my home in downtown Missoula, at the historic Wilma Theatre. Between the old sound system and my bad ears (courtesy of the Marine Corps), I had difficulty hearing what sparse dialog there was. But I could pretty much guess what the two sheepherders were mumbling, having read Annie Proulx's short story twice.

The first time I read it, I was still closeted and married, fighting, denying and suppressing my attraction to men; often leading a secret, shameful double life. The story hit hard, and I felt doomed to a life of deceit. I read it again last year, when hype about the upcoming movie first hit the press.

By then I was out, best friends with my former wife of 14 years, and living truer to myself. It made me grateful I had found the courage to change my story to a happier ending.

It's a really good article. Read the rest.

Is He?
Posted by Elyce

If, as written on a bumpersticker I recently saw here in Redneck USA (aka suburban Nashville, Tennessee), "God is Pro-Life," then someone explain the Great Flood to me. That wasn't so very pro-life, was it?

A blog post that entirely stems with the frustrations of grading as a math teacher
Posted by Raznor

My god! How much more basic can you get?! Zero times anything is zero! Zero times 5? Zero! Zero times x? Zero! Zero times the sum of two other numbers? Zero!

That is all.

. . . Okay, let's try to prove this? 0+0=0, right? can we agree on that? Good. So for some number x 0x=(0+0)x. Follow? Well that means that 0x=0x+0x, so 0x=0x-0x (ooh algebra that's hard!) But anything minus itself is 0 so 0x-0x is 0. Thus 0x=0.

Now let's see everyone use that little fact.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I don't know who's running this country- but he's got some serious 'splaining to do
Posted by Raznor

Via Greg - who got it from Kos - this is one of the lamest excuses I've ever heard - and I've taught Freshman level mathematics for nearly 2 years now!

President Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates until the deal already had been approved by his administration, the White House said Wednesday.

Interesting. It's not Bush's fault, it's the Bush administration's fault. And this means we shouldn't be too hard on Bush for some reason.

Can we get a competent president please?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A preemptive welcome to Pandagon readers
Posted by Raznor

According to the great Amanda Marcotte, my post on the bill currently in line for the Arizona Senate should appear at Pandagon tomorrow morning. So I thought I'd do a bit of an update on the post.

Via Berube, there's an article at Inside Higher Ed on this little bill. As should be a surprise to no one, the bill is defended with a brazen bit of arrogant ignorance:

The sponsors of the bill did not respond to messages seeking comment. But local news coverage of the session at which the bill won committee approval quoted Sen. Thayer Verschoor as citing complaints he had received about The Ice Storm, a novel by Rick Moody that was turned into a film directed by Ang Lee. “There’s no defense of this book. I can’t believe that anyone would come up here and try to defend that kind of material,” Verschoor said at the hearing, according to The Arizona Star. Other senators spoke at the hearing, the newspaper reported, against colleges teaching “pornography and smut.”

This, by the way, is why I will forever be against any bans on pornography. Because it'll be assholes like these who will wind up getting to define what pornography is.

So what's so annoying about this law? Let's take a look at the official fact sheet for the provisions:

1. Requires universities under the Arizona Board of Regent’s jurisdiction and community colleges under a community college district to adopt procedures providing a student with an alternative course, coursework, learning material or activity if that student finds those offered to be personally offensive without financial or academic penalty.

2. Specifies that a course, coursework, learning material or activity is personally offensive if it conflicts with the student’s beliefs or practices in sex, morality or religion.

3. Becomes effective on the general effective date.

Wow, that's it in a nutshell, isn't it? I'm already pretty pissed off about the state of Arizona higher education (moreso since receiving my rejection letter from UC San Diego earlier today) but looking at provision 2, I can't help but imagine the worst case scenario.

Now I'm lucky in that my field is mathematics. Assholes like the Arizona senators here and David Horowitz don't understand mathematics, and therefore aren't on a crusade to destroy it. (just imagine, though, if they could possibly grasp Banach-Tarsky paradox - then we'd be screwed) But let's take a look at the ramifications of this to the subject areas it does affect.

1) Biology is out. Evolution is "controversial". Therefore it would be possible to get a biology degree at an Arizona school without ever fucking learning about biology.

2) Religion is out. Idiot religious intolerants are going to be offended by learning about wrong religions. So it'll be possible to get a degree in Religion at an Arizona school without ever learning about any religions.

3) Philosophy is out. My God, those existentialists are so immoral!

And you get the idea. Arizona Republicans, unhappy with the slow smothering of higher education they've been working on by their constant funding cuts are now attempting to just throw in a bomb and be done with it.

One thing of interest in the article, though, is even arch-asshole David Horowitz is against this particular bill:

he Arizona bill goes beyond the measures that have been pushed in other states — in fact it goes so far that David Horowitz, the ’60s radical turned conservative activist who has pushed the Academic Bill of Rights, opposes the measure. “It doesn’t respect the authority of the professor in the classroom,” he said. “This authority does not include the right to indoctrinate students or deny them access to texts with points of view that differ from the professor’s. But it does include the right to assign texts that make students feel uncomfortable.”

To which I must respond to Mr. Horowitz with a big, good old fashioned "FUCK YOU!" This is the guy behind the McCarthyite "Know the Network". This is the guy who spreads vicious rumors about university professors started from assholes who failed courses due to their complete lack of intelligence but happen to be conservative. This is the guy who with every breath is trying to fuel the growing stream of anti-intellectualism in this country that leads to bullshit like this.


On a related note Michael Berube is now officially my hero. Funniest post ever.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Saturday Dog Blogging
Posted by Raznor

Today is a Hermes plus toy theme. Enjoy.

Hermes and his rope.

Hermes and his ball. Also his rope.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Can I get an Amen?
Posted by Raznor

Kevin Drum:

I realize that Al Gore believes in global warming, and therefore all good conservatives believe global warming doesn't exist. But it's time to grow up and take notice that all the global warming news for the past few years has been bad. Not only is it happening, but every recent report I've seen indicates that it's happening faster and with more dire results than we've previously believed. It's really beyond belief that so many people are still burying their heads in the sand over this.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Good news for our tiny blog
Posted by Raznor

With Amanda Marcotte off to Amsterdam (lucky popular blogger- mumble mumble) Pandagon has started it's Blogwhore Bonanza. And I'm happy to report that my post on the dumb law being considered in the AZ senate made the cut, and will be appearing on Pandagon next Wednesday.

Of course, the potential problem is the situation may completely change by next Wednesday, but I plan to remedy this by posting an update on Tuesday evening.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Friday Dog Blogging
Posted by Raznor

Hermes. Yes that Hermes.

This isn't a change back to dog-blogging on Friday. Just, as I said earlier, because I'm heading to LA tomorrow. I just dropped the Hermes with a friend for the weekend. I miss him already.

Thwarted attacks
Posted by Raznor

Greg has the details:

After the President's conveniently-timed revelation about a foiled attack on Los Angeles, I contacted a few friends in the intelligence community and was able to get my hands on this IM conversation between Al Qaeda's number two guy and Bin Laden's second-in-command (on that org chart, everyone's a VP).

It only gets better from there. Read the rest.

It's Friday - It's random - and it's 10
Posted by Raznor

Well time to fire up the ol' iTunes and see what comes up. Enjoy the list. Feel free to post your own in comments.

1. "5:15"- The Who
2. "Raspberry Beret" - Prince
3. "'Til I Die" - Brian Wilson
4. "Good to Go" - Elliott Smith
5. "Worlds Apart" - Bruce Springsteen
6. "Ruled by Secrets" - Muse
7. "Bull Rider" -Johnny Cash
8. "Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey" - The Beatles (this may very well be the greatest Beatles song ever)
9. "Boys Keep Swinging" - David Bowie
10. "Muzzle of Bees" - Wilco (live version)

So there you go. Have fun. I'm heading to LA for a party in Skip's honor, so I'll try to do a dog-blog later tonight.

As if high education in Arizona isn't bad enough
Posted by Raznor

Apparently the Arizona senate is arguing an interesting little law:

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
Section 1. Title 15, chapter 14, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended by
adding article 8, to read:
15-1881. Alternative coursework or materials

This is exactly what Michael Berube wrote about recently in an excellent blog post:

THE PRINCIPLE OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM stipulates that “teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties”; it expressly insists that professors should have autonomy from legislatures, trustees, alumni, parents, and ecclesiastical authorities with regard to their teaching and research. In this respect it is one of the legacies of the Enlightenment, which sought—successfully, in those nations most influenced by the Enlightenment—to free scientists and humanists from the dictates of church and state. And it is precisely that autonomy from legislative and religious oversight that helped to fuel the extraordinary scientific and intellectual efflorescence in the West over the past two centuries; it has also served as one of the cornerstones of the free and open society, in contrast to societies in which certain forms of research will not be pursued if they displease the General Secretary or the Council of Clerics. But today, the paradox of these legislative “academic bills of rights” is this: they claim to defend academic freedom precisely by promising to give the state direct oversight of course curricula, of departmental hiring practices, and of the intellectual direction of academic fields. In other words, by violating the very principle they claim to defend.

How the hell can you teach political science, if people who are offended by politics get to get around it. How can you teach religion, if someone's religious views mean they don't have to learn about other religions. How can you teach biology, when there's an organized movement against biology. How can you fucking teach anything at all when someone just has to give a reason for being offended and no coursework for them. And why should any other sane person, if this legislation gets past, consider a degree from an Arizona university to be worth a goddamn thing.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Them Evangelicals
Posted by Raznor

It is sometimes difficult (for me at least) to differentiate the whole of Evangelical Christianity with the Pat Robertsons and James Dobsons of the world. Sure, there are Evangelicals have a bigotry/end times view of Christianity that is contributing to the destruction of all that is good in the form of voting for Bush, but occasionally they do something good.

So hey, credit where credit is due. I hope the Evangelical Climate Initiative all the best.

On those evil toons
Posted by Raznor

Okay, so I haven't posted much on those 12 Danish cartoons that supposedly will start World War III, nor the idiotic religious extremist response, nor the oppurtunistic right wingers who now get to continue hating Muslims while pretending that what they're actually doing is defending free speech. But in my defense, I haven't been posting much of anything of late.

But fortunately, Ted Rall has perfectly summed it all up for me.

Thank you Ted, for your rocking.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Posted by the bekka

I called Barry this morning to see how he was doing and if he wanted us to come over. Sounding in surprisingly good spirits, Barry said he was busy running around doing errands and shopping, and wouldn't be home until late.

In the course of this, he told me how one of his errands involved going to the post office to pick up some certified mail that had arrived for Skip. Barry presented Skip's wallet and asked to pick up his deceased partner's mail. They apologized, but said they were not able to do so. They said Skip needed to give authorization in order to release his mail, and Barry told them that would be kind of hard to do.

But he avoided going nuts at them. What would be the point? The mail will get sent back, and hopefully it will eventually make it into Barry's hands. At least Walgreen's was willing to give him Skip's developed photos.

And I just sat there, holding the phone, crying with the inhumanity of it all. I wondered if they'd even bat an eyelash if some random black woman were to go in there with Skip's wallet and ask for her deceased husband's mail. The response would have been more like, "I'm so sorry for your loss, ma'am. Let me go get that for you right away."

It was bad enough that Bear had to lose his domestic partner and soul-mate of 20 years this week. But he then had to suffer the further indignity of being told by an underpaid Government bureaucrat that they had never been the sort of companions worthy of the privilege of reading each other's mail.

You tell me how that makes America a better place. Just tell me how.

I'm so sorry you're dead, Skip. But I'm not sorry that you don't have to live in such an unfair world anymore.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

So Long, Skip
Posted by Ross

That's Skip in the pink shirt, Barry in the orange at our wedding. Skip passed away on Monday.

Keep Me In Your Heart
by Warren Zevon

Shadows are falling and I'm running out of breath
Keep me in your heart for awhile

If I leave you it doesn't mean I love you any less
Keep me in your heart for awhile

When you get up in the morning and you see that crazy sun
Keep me in your heart for while

There's a train leaving nightly called when all is said and done
Keep me in your heart for while

Keep me in your heart for while

Keep me in your heart for while

Sometimes when you're doing simple things around the house
Maybe you'll think of me and smile

You know I'm tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Keep me in your heart for while

Hold me in your thoughts, take me to your dreams
Touch me as I fall into view
When the winter comes keep the fires lit
And I will be right next to you

Engine driver's headed north to Pleasant Stream
Keep me in your heart for while

These wheels keep turning but they're running out of steam
Keep me in your heart for while

Keep me in your heart for while

Keep me in your heart for while

Keep me in your heart for while

Posted by Elyce (for Lane)

Lane would like to share one of his recent artistic creations with the world. This one is entitled "Man covered with honey, licking it off, on the way to the bathtub." I hope the world appreciates the boy's creative genius as much as his parents do. *grin*