gray area

Courtesy of friends JE & AC, who moved out of town over the weekend, we now have a new-to-us ginormous TV in our place. The two best things about this TV, other than the mammoth screen:

1. The Fella will no longer need to complain about “the blacks,” i.e., the fuzzy, indistinct gray-to-black range that hampered dark scenes showing on our previous flatscreen TV;

2. I will stop cringing for a split second every so often because my partner has muttered the unexpected phrase “Wow, the blacks are terrible.”


A note for those reluctant to “redefine traditional marriage” — we do it all the time. Here’s a timeline for some changes to remove civil and personal inequities in the marriage law.

An actual “traditional marriage” would deny legal personhood to the wife, allow spousal rape, and deny the right to interracial marriage, among other tragedies. We as a society saw the injustice in these laws, and changed them accordingly. It’s time to do it again.

A tradition of institutional oppression is nothing to defend.


Gordon Brown has issued a formal apology for the British government’s prosecution and persecution of the late Alan Turing, and by extension, offered an apology to all homosexual men* who suffered under the heterosexist laws of the time. Unlike so many official apologies, this one uses uncompromising language to acknowledge the enormity of the wrong committed. A paragraph from the speech serves as an example (emphasis mine in all cases):

Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him. Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly. Over the years millions more lived in fear of conviction.

The speech also draws attention to the cause-effect relationship between Turing’s (putatively rehabilitative) punishment and his suicide.

Of course, it is only words, not acts. What has been done cannot be undone. But surely this is a reflection of a welcome shift in our mores, an erosion of long-held bigotry, that the P.M.’s public contrition extends beyond the public figure of Turing and embraces all those other gay men* wronged by the same laws.

*Note that Brown specifies “men” in this statement.

A new day

I was upset yesterday when the doctor’s office called and told me Wednesday was the only day I could get an appointment. I had planned to spend the morning here in Australia watching the chaos/joy unfold overseas and now I would be deprived due to the drive up to Perth.
In the waiting room I saw the news that Obama won and JM and I did ‘the wave’ in our chairs. Being the only ones there it wasn’t too obnoxious, except perhaps to the receptionist, but she kept her thoughts to herself.
Now we’re back home watching all the speeches, reading the stories, and raising our glasses in celebration, a stark contrast to four years ago. I was told today that eventually I’ll have to have my parathyroids taken out, but I knew that already. I “look good” the doctor said to his colleague over the phone. No immediate worries. I feel good too. Happy day.


We can.
Because we don’t get tv reception at home, at 10 p.m. Tuesday night, The Fella and I headed out to meet some friends at a neighborhood bar, have a few drinks, hoot in delight and relief, and watch history as it happened.
For almost a decade, I’ve felt an increasing sense of alienation from my fellow Americans. As our national narrative became ever more mired in fear and a willful disregard for reason, as education became a thing to sneer at, as the blindness of religious zealots became a point of pride in the highest reaches of our government — our government! — it became clear to me that I simply didn’t know these people. They lived in a different world than mine, they feared and valued different things than I do.
And I never thought they’d do this. I didn’t trust them; I didn’t trust us. I didn’t believe I would live to see a primary contested between a black man and a woman. I certainly didn’t think I’d live to see a black person elected President.
I know it’s early days yet, and there are challenges ahead. I know we’re still a jingoistic, frightened power. I know we overconsume and under-educate. I know. I know. I know.
But it’s something. It’s something huge. We, as a nation, did something sane, something wise, something historic. For the first time in years, I feel some sense of belonging here. This nation may be my home after all.

One more thing

I tolerate Palin
You know, the way she “tolerates” gays. Yes, I’ve included it for sale at Cafe Press.
One of her more eye-opening/rapid-blinking statements of the evening:
“Also I’m thankful that the constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the Vice President, also if that Vice President so chose to exert it in working with the Senate. And making sure that we are supportive of the President’s policies…”
Um, no, not really, not at all.

Mary Poppins: subversivecalifragilistic

From the very beginning, Disney’s Mary Poppins burbles with subtext: Mr. Banks’ stodgy hymn to the well-regulated Edwardian British household’s predictability (a theme underscored by Admiral Boom’s admirably punctual timekeeping cannon) is undermined by Mrs. Banks’ spirited rendition of “Sister Suffragette,” by the unsettling absence of their recalcitrant children, and by the chummy overfamiliarity of the bobby who brings them home.

Clearly, the order imposed by privileged men will be sabotaged by rebellion — specifically the rebellion of women assisted by children and by men of the underclass.

It’s no surprise, then, that the abrupt departure of yet another nanny disrupts the Banks’ rigidly conventional household. Seeking a stern replacement, Mr. Banks is instead outfaced by Mary Poppins, a pert young governess who flouts her prescribed submissive role by refusing to give references and demanding the family submit to a probationary period.

Mary proceeds to introduce the children to members of a lively underclass, including street peddlers, carnival workers, penguin waiters, her decidedly odd Uncle Albert, and of course Burt (Dick van Dyke sporting a hammy accent), the raffish charmer who, between his makeshift enterprises, accompanies Mary on her many secret adventures. Unlike Mrs. Banks’ flighty clamor for equal rights (which is silenced instantly by her husband’s presence), Mary’s subversive influence begins to color the attitudes of the entire household, and even infiltrates Mr. Banks’ place of work.

Tellingly, though Mary seems at first to overthrow the prevailing power structure, she — and her subversive influence — vanishes at film’s end. After her disappearance, the power structures of the privileged are tempered by familial affection, but otherwise they remain intact and authoritative.