Monday, June 30, 2003

Here's a relationship for you, sirs
Watching the ITV news just now (the UK's third TV channel, for those of you elsewhere), and a piece on the Government's new plan to give same-sex couples many of the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexuals. From the Government's consultation paper:

- The Government proposes to create a scheme under which same-sex couples in England and Wales would be able to register their partnership.
- The scheme would be for adult same-sex couples who are not in an existing registered partnership or marriage and are not closely related.
- Couples who register would have a new legal status as "registered civil partners", and would acquire a package of rights and responsibilities.

As you can imagine, in the UK it's a contentious issue and always has been, with many groups arguing that it's only giving gay and lesbian people the same rights as anyone else - and with many others saying that it destroys the 'sanctity' of marriage, or is 'gay marriage' in all but name.

One of the people interviewed on the programme was from the Christian Action Group or something like it - I can't be bothered to check because a paraphrase of the name tells you enough - and said "This is gay marriage dressed up as something else, and what the government is doing is making a relationship available to these people which...". There, I tuned out and started laughing.

I mean, 'scuse me?! These people already have relationships, don't they? Aren't relationships emotional states bounced back and forth between 2 people? OK, granted, legal trappings can be made available to people. But it's not as if the government can say to 2 men: "Here, my friends, have a relationship." (You can just imagine the reply: "Oooooh, lovely, thankyou!".) Or did this god-bothering, ethically-confused twat actually personally believe that he and his wife weren't having a relationship until they put their rings on?

If anyone reading this would like to tell me whether there's a mainstream religious basis - which can be easily applied to a relaxed real world - to that statement, please comment. Anyone else - comment too. I want your views.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Homos! Handshakes! Oh, GOD!!
Hehehe. :o)

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Like a line from a novel
You know the way, in really intense or really shitty novels, one lover says to the other: "You're like a work of art" or something like that? Well. Here's an extract from a message I got today on OUT:

Gosh, I couldn't help but notice when I saw your picture how pre-Raphaelite your features are. I promise, that's not a cheesey chat-up line or anything (one step removed from "come up and see my etchings" or something like that). It's one of my favourite styles of painting, and I can see you in a Rossetti or a Burne-Jones painting.

What do you think?!
Showers, but some brightness later
Richard Dawkins, in an article printed by today's Guardian Review, advocates a naturalistic worldview, along with some illuminating, even bright, asides along the way:

I once read a science-fiction story in which astronauts voyaging to a distant star were waxing homesick: "Just to think that it's springtime back on Earth!" You may not immediately see what's wrong with that, so ingrained is our unconscious northern hemisphere chauvinism. "Unconscious" is exactly right. That is where consciousness-raising comes in.

So, as with the word 'gay' which was hijacked decades ago by homosexuals, Dawkins reports on a couple of people who set up a website to enable you to self-identify as a bright. Not as bright, but as a bright. Do you have a naturalistic worldview? Go there, if you're not too embarrassed with the gimmickry of it all...

The ills of contemporary poetry are also given some attention, and in the Independent's magazine, there's an interesting, if scary, article about The Big One - the catastrophic earthquake which wil strike San Francisco sometime in the next 40 years. Sadly, The Independent is shit at putting such articles online. So it's not there.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Acceptance or Interest?
When I was still at university, I was sitting in the union one night when, for no particular reason, the talk turned to things gay. As these conversations among straight people will, it led to the only gay person at the table (ie. me) lifting my pint and remarking that I too was that way inclined - eliciting a spectacular lack of surprise from most of them. They already knew. But for a couple of people, who didn't know, what my linguistic disrobing created was... hmm, not acceptance exactly, but interest. "Oh, so you go to that weird place by the docks then?" Mmm, yeah, no argument there - after all, it was weird. "Cool." Whooooaa - wait a minute. Cool? Cool?! No, no, trust me, you're just meant to say something like "Faggot".

And then: "Actually..." (oh god no, please jesus, don't let him say it) "...I was thinking of..." (look, I said don't) "...going there myself sometime." Followed by a sort of uncertain smile which said "Will you take me?" Now, regardless of whether or not I wanted to, there was no way I'd've led him into that place, trailing an uncertain but wanting-to-be-stylish posse of lads. So I smiled back and said "Another pint?" and the evening ended with me having a raging erection and him having a snog with a girl in the corner. But anyway.

For a start, lads don't fit well into a place like that. A rundown, dirty, we-haven't-seen-a-straight-person-in-years, place like that. And second, to be stylish in Club 2000, you could have turned up in a clean outfit of jeans and white t-shirt and upstaged nearly everyone. For the rugby player in the union who thought I was brilliant, Club 2000 wouldn't have worked. If it didn't ring my bell, I thought, chances were it wouldn't have rung his. Anyway, it didn't matter because a few weeks later, a really stylish and sexually relaxed bar with nightclub attached opened on Union Street. All the straight guys went to it, and all the gay guys did too, wanting to be stylish themselves by going to a straight place en masse.

Julian Linley in today's Observer Magazine writes an interesting little article about how such straight interest and gay relaxation and willingness to please (or be pleased) can flourish in larger more varied cities.

The question I was asking, though, isn't answered too well... does it really lead to increased acceptance, or just more interest? Are gay people becoming the props for straight style? And why - if straight men just need to have a longterm relationship to relax their grip on their masculinity and go gay a few nights a week - why can't the camper variety of the gay man just, well, get hitched and similarly jettison his campness?

Reason: for straights, gay clubs are, well, an untroubling funfest. For gays, gay clubs are... a lot more serious. The straight man who goes to gay clubs has said "I'll have my freedom of choice, thanks" and is usually admired for it. The gay man who goes to straight places by similar choice has said "I'll have my freedom of choice, thanks" and is usually thought downright weird by his gay peers. Rant over. :o)

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Brooklyn Daily Eagle: 1841-1902 is online!
Draft Riots erupt - 13th July 1863Thousands of copies of the paper have been fully scanned and can be easily fulltext-searched and loaded in a variety of formats from this fascinating site. The Brooklyn Draft Riots, lynching of Negroes, 'wanted' columns showing what people were looking for in the 1840s: "Wanted: a SITUATION, by a neat industrious girl, to do cooking, washing, and ironing...".

One thing worth knowing is that Brooklyn was an independent city when The Brooklyn Daily Eagle was published, not yet having been swallowed by New York. The building of the Brooklyn Bridge - covered by the paper - changed all that.

Oh, it's all wonderful. Go there at once!

Friday, June 06, 2003

God Save Dame Edna - Australia's new representative for HM The Queen!
Honest. She volunteered and everything!
Please, please, let it be so.
New York Times: scandal or so what?
I found the BBC's dry reporting of Jayson Blair's error- and deception-ridden reporting for the New York Times came in for some criticism on Haddock. I agree. When a journalist in a respected national paper goes so badly off the rails and isn't noticed doing so, people should make a fuss. Read the following passage, from the start of the paper's sado-masochistic 12,000-word article:

A staff reporter for The New York Times committed frequent acts of journalistic fraud while covering significant news events in recent months, an investigation by Times journalists has found. The widespread fabrication and plagiarism represent a profound betrayal of trust and a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper.

The reporter, Jayson Blair, 27, misled readers and Times colleagues with dispatches that purported to be from Maryland, Texas and other states, when often he was far away, in New York. He fabricated comments. He concocted scenes. He lifted material from other newspapers and wire services. He selected details from photographs to create the impression he had been somewhere or seen someone, when he had not.

And he used these techniques to write falsely about emotionally charged moments in recent history, from the deadly sniper attacks in suburban Washington to the anguish of families grieving for loved ones killed in Iraq.

In an inquiry focused on correcting the record and explaining how such fraud could have been sustained within the ranks of The Times, the Times journalists have so far uncovered new problems in at least 36 of the 73 articles Mr. Blair wrote since he started getting national reporting assignments late last October. In the final months the audacity of the deceptions grew by the week, suggesting the work of a troubled young man veering toward professional self-destruction.

Mr. Blair, who has resigned from the paper, was a reporter at The Times for nearly four years, and he was prolific. Spot checks of the more than 600 articles he wrote before October have found other apparent fabrications, and that inquiry continues. The Times is asking readers to report any additional falsehoods in Mr. Blair's work; the e-mail address is

Every newspaper, like every bank and every police department, trusts its employees to uphold central principles, and the inquiry found that Mr. Blair repeatedly violated the cardinal tenet of journalism, which is simply truth. His tools of deceit were a cellphone and a laptop computer ? which allowed him to blur his true whereabouts ? as well as round-the-clock access to databases of news articles from which he stole.

The Times inquiry also establishes that various editors and reporters expressed misgivings about Mr. Blair's reporting skills, maturity and behavior during his five-year journey from raw intern to reporter on national news events. Their warnings centered mostly on the errors in his articles.

His mistakes became so routine, his behavior so unprofessional, that by April 2002, Jonathan Landman, the metropolitan editor, dashed off a two-sentence e-mail message to newsroom administrators that read: "We have to stop Jayson from writing for the Times. Right now."

After taking a leave for personal problems and being sternly warned, both orally and in writing, that his job was in peril, Mr. Blair improved his performance. By last October, the newspaper's top two editors ? who said they believed that Mr. Blair had turned his life and work around ? had guided him to the understaffed national desk, where he was assigned to help cover the Washington sniper case.

By the end of that month, public officials and colleagues were beginning to challenge his reporting. By November, the investigation has found, he was fabricating quotations and scenes, undetected. By March, he was lying in his articles and to his editors about being at a court hearing in Virginia, in a police chief's home in Maryland and in front of a soldier's home in West Virginia. By the end of April another newspaper was raising questions about plagiarism. And by the first of May, his career at The Times was over.

What people in said newspaper shouldn't do, in my opinion, is treat every single journalist in the place as guilty until proven innocent, nor should it suspect Pultizer prize-winning writers for making only a very few mistakes - mistakes which are matched or exceeded by some journalists in the same stable. The editors have resigned - what is now needed is not an internal pogrom but changes of rules and procedures to make sure what Blair did - to such an exceptional extent - cannot happen again. The integrity of journalism and the public interest demand it.

The New York Times has been stabbed and seemingly can't stop jerking and thrashing in pain. Come *on*! Nasty things happen in papers all the time. The knife's been pulled out of your flesh anyway. Get over it, stop thrashing, focus - and get back to work, you resource-drenched, wellpaid, adulated sons of bitches. ;o)

Thursday, June 05, 2003

I just got a message from someone on a website which has a profile and picture of my good self on it. The picture's the same as the one linked from this site's front page. He said "You are one ugly bloke!" and then blocked me from replying. What I was going to reply was "You have no picture on your profile, but your attitude makes you uglier than you think I am".