30 March 2005

amor mundi website...

There is a website I frequent every day entitled amor mundi. It has a lot of interesting things on it, but the greatest thing the writer does is have a Today's Random Wilde spot that is really great. Check out his website.

Here is one of my favorites that I just had to share.

"I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it, and the bloom is gone."--Lady Bracknell, in The Importance of Being Earnest

If you've never read The Importance of Being Earnest, I highly recommend it. I once read it on a flight to Paris when everyone else was sleeping. I was rolling in the aisles trying not to wake everyone up. There is also a couple of film versions of it. The last one was with Ruppert Everett. It was extremely well done.

thanks, Dale Carrico...

i'm still here...

Last two weeks have been great. I was in South Beach for 8 days then to New York to do a make-up workday class for Landmark and have been happily busy this week with The Ring Cycle at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Just haven't had any time to write. Tonight is the first free night I've had in weeks.

The rest was wonderful, the class was fantastice and the opera cycle is stupendous. On top of these, last night one of my all time favorite dreams came true - I met Renee Fleming! I turned around at the first intermission and she was just standing there. My jaw dropped, which I'm sure she noticed. She was enjoying the performance rather than singing.

i have been in seventh heaven...

19 March 2005

John Paul II should be dead…

On the same token Terri Schiavo should be dead also. If they had been living 5,000, 500 or even 100 years ago they would have died from their illness/injury. Medicine did not have the knowledge or ability to keep people alive passed their natural abilities. This, if you think about it, puts into serious question the thinking behind keeping them alive as espoused by orthodox Catholicism and the religious right.

The idea of not taking a life for any reason based on biblical belief never took into consideration that there would ever be the possibility of keeping anyone alive by extraordinary means. The writers of the new and old testaments couldn’t even dream of a feeding tube or a tracheotomy. They probably would have thought of it as being the work of the devil.

People were born and people died. Naturally. The idea of keeping someone alive at any cost brings into question the argument of quantity of life versus the quality of life. What is the quality of Terri Schiavo’s life? What has it been for the last 15 years? What is the quality of John Paul’s life? What reason is there for putting off the inevitable?

Terri Schiavo has only moved her head and eyes for the last 15 years. She has not responded voluntarily but rather merely reacted to any type of stimulus. She has neither been able to make decisions for herself, make her needs known, nor connected with another human being in a meaningful way. All of this has been because of a feeding tube that was surgically placed in her abodomen several years ago. What kind of quality of life is this?

I understand the family’s thinking when the decision was made to implant the tube. There was hope and the thought that something medical could still happen to change the situation. But fifteen years ago, medicine had not made the strides it has made over just the last few years. They believed there was still hope. But when does hope give way to reality?

When my mother had her stroke several years ago, a feeding tube was place in her nose without consulting me. [I was next of kin.] I went ballistic. There was no way that she was going to survive. I wanted it removed at once because when it is put in, as we see in the Schiavo case, it is impossible to remove. The hospital’s response was that they were legally mandated to make certain that she was being nourished. I continued to fight until her doctor assured me that there was no way she could survive even with the feeding tube. It still worried me. I had visions of her remaining in a state of limbo in a position much like Terri Schiavo's. Luckily, she died a couple of days later and was spared the purgatory in which Terri Schiavo is being held.

Was I being a cold, unloving monster of a son? I don't think so. My mother was a vibrant and active person. She worked until she had her first mini-stroke one month before the massive one, and she was 76 years old. A wonderfil life! I believe that she would never had wanted to just be a body with no will or ability. I beleve she would want to be with her god.

If you believe, as my mother strongly did, that your soul goes to a wonderful place called heaven after your death would you want to be held captive in this world? Would you want to be denied the right to be basking in the light of your religious beliefs because you’re in an inhuman state of being? Would you be angry that you were being denied what you believed was the purpose of your entire life of action and being?

just asking…

18 March 2005

and, now, for something fun & exciting...

I'm off to South Beach at 5:00 am tomorrow morning until Friday and then to New York next weekend to take a Landmark class. Of course, there will be operas involved. But first I will sleep by the pool at the guest house for at least the first two if not three days --- besides cocktails. I'll take the PowerBook with and write about some of it along the way.

i can't wait...

nothing better to do...? part VI

This is a double whammy.

First, if you haven't heard yet, the Senate Majority Leader, Mr. Frist, wants to supoena Terri Schiavo, the women who has been in a vegetative state for the last 15 years. Her husband has been trying to have the feeding tube removed because he says that she would never have wanted to be kept alive in a state like this. Her parents and the state of Florida have been fighting to keep her alive.

This has been through the courts, in the state legislature, on Governor Jeb Bush's desk, on and on and on.... The most recent court ruling again was in favor of granting the right to remove the feeding tube. It reportedly has been removed.

However, Mr. Frist wants Terri Schiavo to testify before a Senate Committee along with her husband because you have to testify before the Senate if so supoenaed! Give me a break.

A terrible situation is going to be turned into a circus at any cost. Mr. Frist, himself, is a medical doctor. He must know the debilitating effects of her condition. He must know the consequences of being kept in a vegetative state. He must know he is pandering to the religious right, again.

This is just one more example of the Bushies wanting to control our every move, thought and idea. Republicans are supposed to be against big government being in everybody's face, but they have had a strange way of proving it.

these people have nothing better to do...

If you have never read the book or seen the movie "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood, I highly recommend it. The story shows the country as being totally controlled by the religious right in the United States. It is really scary.

the second whammy...

The biggest fascist dictatorship - the Roman Catholic Church - in the guise of a Bishop Brom of the San Diego diocese forbade all churches in the diocese to bury John McCusker, a gay man who owned two gay bars, because his work is not in keeping with Catholic church beliefs or teachings. McCusker's parents, who are very active in the church, had to make other arrangements at a church that accepts all faiths and beliefs. The city of San Diego is in an uproar.

BUT, here's the rub. Bishop Brom, himself, was previously accused of sexual abuse in Minnesota that was settled out of court. He also made the statement that since he became bishop of San Diego there have been no "payouts" for alleged priest abuse in San Diego. A total lie! They paid out $250,000 just last December. Check out the full story in Ameriblog.

I could go on and on about the hypocricy of the Roman Catholic church, but I don't want to get started. Needless to say, in my mind it is a toss-up between the religious right and the catholic church as to which has bastardized the words of Jesus the most.

again, someone with nothing better to do...

13 March 2005

money is always behind it...

...in some way.

This from 365gay.com:

Connecticut could lose nearly $1 million a year because of decreased inheritance tax revenue if the state allows civil unions of same-sex couples, a new legislative report says.

Municipalities would also pay a price, up to $1.5 million a year for health insurance, pensions and other benefits for town and city workers who enter into civil unions, according to the legislature's nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.

Of course the entire inheritance tax structure in Connecticut is due to be eliminated in 2008 but someone will surely pick up on the "cost" of civil unions and use this as an argument against it.

However, there is another side that will not be taken seriously as it hasn't been yet:

Sen. Andrew McDonald, a Stamford Democrat and co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said the lost revenue proves the inequities gays and lesbians now face.

“Under current law, (same-sex) partners are at a real economic disadvantage because they are considered to be legal strangers — they're no more connected than if you left a bequest to your neighbor down the street,” McDonald said. “To me that underscores very real economic discrimination.”

The Right wants to write discrimination into law, so what difference will it make?

The loss of tax revenue is "the price we will pay to end this legal discrimination,” McDonald said.

Fair enough. Gays and lesbians are now paying for a lot of things through taxes that they get no benefit from. At a much, much higher rate, I'm sure. Maybe LGBT's should be taxed seperately at a higher rate? Would this make the Right happier? Discriminate and punish them?

just asking...

the new terrorism...

Freedom of expression is under attack more now than at any other time in the country's history - even World War II when it was a necessity. The media is being "reined in" and even being told what they should report on. The Gannon-Guckert affair [pun intended] shows how desperate powers that be are to direct what is reported/talked about. This is flagrant propaganda at its worst.

In the New York Times today, Sunday, March 13, 2005, Frank Rich writes in his column entitled "The Greatest Dirty Joke Ever Told" about the "censors" who actually come across as thought police.

Ted Stevens, the powerful chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, pronounced himself sick of "four-letter words with participles" on cable and satellite television. "I think we have the same power to deal with cable as over the air," he said, promising to carry the fight all the way to the Supreme Court. Never mind that anyone can keep pay TV at bay by not purchasing it, and that any parent who does subscribe can click on foolproof blocking devices to censor any channel. Senator Stevens's point is to intimidate MTV, Comedy Central, the satellite radio purveyors of Howard Stern and countless others from this moment on, whether he ultimately succeeds in exerting seemingly unconstitutional power over them or not.

The word in the quote that strikes me as crucial is "intimidate." How many people do you think have actually been afraid to say something during the last three years for fear of offending someone or of being thought to be un-American, say, for example, standing against the Iraq incursion? Or something anti-Christian? I have thought twice some times and I consider myself someone who has always said what I'm thinking aloud.

The right is quick to damn "political correctness" but uses it most explicitly to intimidate people and institutions. What ever happened to questioning what your government does? This is supposed to be a democracy, after all, yet while trying to push a specific form of democracy on the Middle East, our freedoms are slowing being eroded under the guise of protecting us from terrorism. It strikes me that the new terrorism is actually the terrorism of the right. Sensational reporting on what the right considers the erosion of values, for example, same-sex marriage, nudity, foul language, or questioning the current administration, is more intimidating.

More than acts of violence, terrorism is a psychological phenomenon. To keep people in constant fear of the unkown is total control. Not knowing what is going to happen next and the fear that the next minute could be the last is tantamount to taking hostages. When I have to go to the Central Office for a meeting I park in the lot right by the Sears Tower in Chicago. Just after 9/11 I actually thought twice about parking there! Fear of a parking space?

I work with children and the incidence of fighting has increased dramatically in the last three years. People ask, "What's going on? Where is this coming from?" My answer is simple. Kids hear about the "fighting" going on in Iraq; they have relatives who are serving over there; they sense the tension in adults' voices and actions; and they see the results of terrorist bombing on television. Children don't have the capacity to process all of these things and are usually told by adults not to worry about it. But they do! The "war" mentality has permeated all the way down.

This last week Spain celebrated the first anniversary of the train bombing in Madrid. I remember right after it happened a friend telling me that her 11 year old granddaughter asked her if they could never ride the "L" into downtown Chicago any more and if they had to worry about bombs llike the one that happened in Madrid. This from a girl who in some respects is considered to be a bit of a scatterbrain. She was actually afraid. What else could be going on inside their heads?

If I thought twice about parking by the Sears Tower and she was afraid of riding the "L," what are others thinking? If the administration is color coding alerts, what level of uncertainty is real? If I have to think twice about what I say, where is the true democracy in the voice of the people? If the rule of thumb is "majority rule, minority rights," why are people trying to take freedoms away from American citizens by rewriting laws and the Constitution?

just asking...

11 March 2005

the last 11 days...

This has been one helluva period of time. Nothing stopped moving. Every time I turned around there was something else being thrown my way.

The most innocuous thing was the FY06 budget. I thought I had until April 16th to complete it. Then an email came saying it would be due April 1st. No problem. Then another one came saying March 17th. A little problem. Finally, the AIO emailed and said we had to meet on March 1st with a first draft. When we met with her, she said, "Nope. It has to be done before you leave here!" BIGGGG Problem!

What happened was that I didn't have all of the data needed. When I was handed a 6 page memo with instructions that were very precise, I was totally wigged out.

I tried to get it done that day, but it was impossible. I had to start over from scratch. I said I'd have it done the next day. I was well on the way to doing it. I balanced on the second try, began loading the state funding, and the G.D. network kept going down. The technology gods did not want me smiling.

After the network came back up I finished loading the state funding --- only to discover that I couldn't balance because since the day before salaries and benefits had changed on all employees. I was over-budgeted!

That was Friday and not only did I have to figure out where I was off, but I still had to load the federal funding source and I was positive that if the state salaries & benefits had changed, the federal would be even worse because NCLB has assinine requirements.

There was no way I could redo the state budget. I called and got a "reprieve." They knew there was problems with the network. Finally, something was going my way. I told them I would have it finished on Tuesday since there was not school on Monday.

Here is where the best part comes into play. At 6:55 am on Saturday I left for three days in Las Vegas with my friends. I left the entire budget behind me and didn't think about it at all except to tell my friends how ridiculous the entire thing was.

We had a great time in Las Vegas. We stayed at the Bellagio, ate fantastic food and went to see Cirque du Soleil's "Zumanity." It's called the "other side of Cirque du Soleil" because it is about sex and nudity. It was hilarious.

There was one spectacular part after another. The prison tango between the two men was one of the most beautiful dances I have ever seen.

End of the story? I returned late Monday night, went into work late, finished the budget - both parts - and had it into the office at 4:00 pm. I went to my Self Expression & Leadership class that night also.

What did I learn? Everything works out just like it is supposed to work out. I didn't loose my cool - well, the first time the network went down I had a few choice words - but whatever happened, happened. This is a far cry from how I used to handle things. I was totally present all of the time and accepting of what I could and could not do. I made choices and I was happy with my choices.

What else can I say? What do I attribute this transformation to?

landmark education...