New York Times participating in Googlebombing?

OK, so the article itself isn't all that interesting; a group of politically active folks are Googlebombing in attempts to cause their opponents' names to bring up articles questioning the politician's actions and beliefs. I suppose it's kind of interesting that they're Googlebombing to make articles from credible publications come up, rather than the more typical bombing strategy of making some page full of insults come up.

But what is interesting is that the way the story was written seems like it might have contributed to these very Googlebombs. Here is an example of a sentence from the story, with details left out so as not to inadvertently bomb:

Searching Google for [name], the Republican congressman from [area], would bring up a link to a [publication] article headlined [headline that includes a specific issue].

Hmm, the name of the person, the person's position and district, and a specific hot-button issue are all in very close proximity to one another. And the New York Times of course has tons of links inbound and outbound, so stuff contained on their site surely carries a lot of weight in Google's super-seekrit algorithms. While they didn't put a link directly to the articles, they did mention the person's name, the article title, the issue, and the publication name all right there. This could influence what comes up on Google when someone searches for, say, that person's name and that issue. Not as much as a direct link, but still. I really do wonder whether this was intentional.


Various views on the New Jersey ruling

The e-mail last night from equalmarriage.org said:

N.J. Court Rejects Equal Marriage
It is unfortunate that the Court has turned its back on New Jersey’s long history of equality and justice and said that the state’s Constitution is not offended by discrimination against same-sex couples and children.

The one from the Human Rights Campaign said:

New Jersey to Recognize Same-Sex Couples
This afternoon, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the state Legislature must offer the same rights and benefits to same-sex couples that married couples currently receive. This ruling came after seven same-sex couples filed suit against the state when they were denied marriage licenses. This decision reflects the fair-minded values of New Jersey, where polls show that a majority of citizens supports marriage equality.

MassEquality's said:

Victory in New Jersey!
Today, justices of the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously declared that discrimination against same-sex couples violates the New Jersey state constitution.

Freedomtomarry.org's e-mail went more in depth and described exactly what had happen and would the potential outcomes could be after it goes to the legislature. It's interesting to see how these groups -- which are all absolutely pro-marriage -- view the ruling.

And a note to the Metro and others: Stop using the term "gay marriage." A marriage does not have a sexual orientation, and people of various sexual orientations can be in all different sorts of marriages, or not be in one. The laws being discussed are in regard to same-sex marriages, dammit.


Christian extremists speaking out against imagined oppression again

Another story, this time from World Net Daily (consider the source) about people who think that teaching about Islam is "teaching Islam," and who insist that Christianity would never be taught in any sort of interactive way in a public school:

Another school has been "teaching" Islam by having students study and learn Muslim prayers and dress as Muslims, and a lawyer who argued a previous dispute over this issue to the U.S. Supreme Court said such methodologies wouldn't "last 10 seconds" if it were Christianity being taught.

"Would it have been 'just cultural education' if students were in simulated baptisms, wearing a crucifix, having taken the name of St. John and with praise banners saying 'Praise be to Jesus Christ' on classroom walls?" asked Edward White III, of the Thomas More Law Center.

I just want Edward White III, and everyone else, to know that when I was in public schools, we did, in fact, learn about each major religion in a practical way. We made pillars of Islam, we made prayer rugs, we spent several days facing toward Mecca and reciting prayers throughout the day. We spent a day dressed up as monks, remaining silent except when reciting the prayers we'd learned in Latin plainchant, and spending most of the day copying prayers in calligraphy with illuminated letters. We celebrated numerous holidays from around the world, religious and not. No one complained about any of this. And Christianity was absolutely included. No one felt that their children were being converted or anything. For the record, I went to the Edmonds School District's Challenge Program, and the lessons I just described were taught to me between 1990 and 1994 by several different teachers.

I know that at least two of these teachers are still teaching there, and presumably still doing the same lessons. I don't know of anyone who immediately rejected the teachings of their family's religion due to these lessons. I know people who went to my school who later chose different religious and spiritual paths from their family's. I know just as many people who didn't go to my school who later chose different religious and spiritual paths from their family's. Actually, I don't seem to remember anyone who went to Challenge and whose family was a member of a super fundamentalist denomination where it would have been a crisis for them to have some differing beliefs from their family's beliefs. Maybe smarter people are more-open minded? Or are open-minded people smarter?

It's frustrating that there are people who insist that their children don't learn that there are multiple truths in the world.


Craigslist is totally full of weirdos, except I don't mean the usual kind of weirdos one finds on craigslist

So, I'm selling a mandolin on craigslist, and I keep getting e-mails from weirdos. No, not the more typical craigslist weirdos. I mean real weirdos.

I've had people e-mail me and ask if it's still available, then I reply and say it is and suggest we meet so they can take a look at it and I ask them if they have any questions or anything.

Then they don't write back.

Or, they get so far as to suggest times and areas of town where we could get together, then they stop writing back. If we've gotten this far, I usually send one e-mail asking if they're still interested. Then nothing.

I've considered that maybe they're googling my e-mail address or my name or something and deciding that I'm some creep who's obsessed with blimps and puts buckets on her head and getting freaked out that the mandolin might explode in their hands or something.

But I don't think that's it. I've sold several things on craigslist in the past few weeks (no, I'm not getting rid of my possessions in preparation for suicide or anything, thanks for your concern; we're saving up for a couple of goals and we have a lot of junk sitting around) and none of the other items attracted weirdos. In fact, the old, busted iBook generated so many offers that I became sort of a personal eBay, e-mailing the interested parties and asking them to raise their offer if they really wanted it.

I'm this <--> close to editing my ad to say that I'm looking to sell a mandolin to a weirdo.

Geez people, it isn't like it's an accordion or anything.


A couple of (free!) things you can do in the next few weeks to protect equality

As I'm sure most of you know, the legislators vote on November 9 on the next step to determine whether discrimination will be written into the constitution. Only 50 out of 200 legislators would need to vote in favor of discrimination for this to be taken to the next step.

Just personally supporting equal marriage is not enough, as the legislators are the ones who decide whether this will go forward. By spending a few hours of your time, you can personally help thousands of families retain their civil rights in this state.

Here are some things you can do:

Volunteer for MassEquality. Last night, Molly and I spent two hours at their office, entering information into computers. Their staff are really cool people, and it was quite fun, actually. They need all sorts of similar help. They're located at 11 Beacon Street, right near the Park Street T stop. They're open from 10am to 9pm on weekdays, and I believe 11am to 3pm (check on this) on weekends. You can just go in during hours they're open and spend your lunch hour or an hour or so before or after work helping them out, or you can contact them and arrange a time in advance. 617-878-2300 or info@massequality.org

If you're a married same-sex couple, contact MassEquality to ask how you can share your story with legislators. They particularly need couples from west of the city for a press conference that's happening within the next a few days. The people I talked to last night said that "west of the city" extends pretty far for their purposes, so if this might be you, call and ask for Deirdra Dostou and ask if you can be of any help. It doesn't hurt to try. Please, pass this along to any married same-sex couples you know, and please repost freely.

If you haven't contacted your legislators through MassEquality's postcard project or through other means, do so now, either through MassEquality's website, or by writing your own letter or making your own call. Tell all of your friends and family to contact their legislators as well. Huge piles of letters really can influence how some legislators vote.


Vocabulary. Lexicon. Words needed. Longass German ones. Obsessive posting.

Yep, you guessed it. I need a longass German word. If I were one of them cool bloggers with a snazzy tagging system, you could easily see how often I need longass German words. But I'm not, so you'd have to do a find file for "German word" or something and then do some counting. And we all know counting is hard.

Anyway, I digress (an occurrence on this blog that could also be fun to count...)

There needs to be a Longassgermanword(tm) for a musician whose music is so cliche and unintentionally funny that several of their actual songs sound like someone making fun of them.

Like how you'll hear someone playing a few-note pattern over and over on the piano, blabbering about vampires and oppression and your uncle and randomly shreiking in fake accents, and you think, "oh, hey, someone's taking a jab at Tori Amos," only it's actually Tori Amos herself doing so.

Or when there's yet another song featuring amazing guitar playing, a catchy melody, and awful cheesy lyrics about how, dammit, I might have a tiny dick and all and be a giant nerd, but dammit, I'll be the best lover you've ever had if you'd just give me a chance and perhaps if I'd have stuck to instrumental music--then suddenly the DJ's telling you that song actually was by John Mayer.

Unfortunately, I think my beloved Alanis might also fit into this category, given the brilliant Alanis Morissette Lyric Generator.

Hey, I never said that any of this was a bad thing.


Liberty Sunday filming in Boston draws quite a crowd

Molly and I have just returned from the peaceful vigil that was to be held outside Tremont Temple, where the Family Research Council's Liberty Sunday was filmed. Here is an excerpt of just what exactly the event was about:

The expansion of non-discrimination laws to include homosexuality inevitably constricts our right to express and act on our religious beliefs.


Um, what?

FYI, Mitt Romney spoke at the event. Someone remind me what the guy is doing in our lovely open-minded state again?

Members of the GLBT
community, along with several Unitarian Universalist groups (and one group of Open and Affirming Baptists!) met across the street from the church to hold a peaceful vigil. People passed around candles and sang songs of peace and unity. It was a nice display of community and all, but the timing (we were told to get there at 6:30) was a little odd, because by the time we got there, the attendees were already inside the church.

By 9:15 or 9:30 or so, when the folks started filing out of the church, most of the church groups and GLBT/ally folks had left. We were still there, holding our "happily married couple of faith" sign. Most of the others there had signs like "Mittler" and "Romney is a disgrace." As people walked out, they started shouting "shame! shame!" at them. My group of friends and I quickly decided we weren't into the name-calling and judging, and started chanting "love has room for everyone." A few others came over and joined us. While I'm appreciative of all of the folks who were out there in support of equality, I kind of question what good it did to shout at Liberty Sunday people and call them names. When noted anti-equality figures walked out, several members of the pro-equality crowd flipped them off and yelled at them that they were going to rot in hell and so forth. Not what I consider too productive.

One attendee of the Liberty Sunday event asked a gentleman in the police barricade if she could come talk to us (she seemed to have chosen us since we were chanting about love, rather than shouting at her). The officer was reluctant, but let her through to talk to us. The young woman asked me and Molly if we were married, we said we were, and she told us that it was sinful. We asked her a few questions, such as if she hoped to have the opportunity to marry the person she loved. She seemed to think that we had chosen to love one another, but that she was born attracted to males. She also told us that it "says so in the Bible" that it's sinful for us to love one another, but she couldn't tell us where in the Bible it said this.

Molly and I were interviewed by Bay Windows, several journalism students, and Mass Resistance. I'll update in the next few days with anything they publish. I'm just waiting for Mass Resistance to put up our pictures and call us sodomites or whatever. Woohoo!


"There should be a longass German word for that," part eleventeen

"I want to invite you, because I want you to feel included, but I know it's something you wouldn't enjoy, so I don't want you to feel any pressure to come, but if you do decide to come, you're of course totally welcome."


Happy National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day. While some of us can't possibly come any more out, today is a good day for anyone to read up on how we can support equality and support people who may be in various stages of being out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, family, friend, ally, fit-into-various-acronym-ers. Check out the HRC's Straight Guide to GLBT Americans.


"Fresh Air" interviews gays, ex-gays, ex-ex-gays

Terry Gross continues to amaze me. Last night she did a piece on "the Christian ex-gay movement," as she refers to it. She interviewed Tanya Erzen, the author Straight to Jesus: Sexual and Christian Conversions in the Ex-Gay Movement, Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus International, and Shawn O'Donnell, a former ex-gay and a Christian.

Throughout the entire hour, I didn't pick up on any specific view Terry seemed to have of the movement and couldn't discern any particular point she was trying to illustrate through her interviews. She was very respectful and seemed truly interested in learning about each person's views and experiences. At several points, I thought she might be swinging one way or the other based on the way she challenged one of the speakers on a point, but she seemed to do this equally with each speaker. The only major complaint I have about her interviewing is her use of the term "homosexuals," including in contexts where she is referring to typical gay and lesbian people who have not been involved with the ex-gay movement. I also wish she would have mentioned somewhere in the piece that practicing conversion therapy is grounds for dismissal by all of the healthcare credentialing organizations, whereas practicing mainstream pastoral counseling is completely acceptable.

Alan Chambers especially amazed me. I hadn't actually heard him speak before and hadn't read anything other than isolated quotes about what Exodus International aims to do. I was surprised to hear the way he answered the questions, and suprised to find that, well, the guy doesn't seem to actually be an asshole. He stated at one point that he has a number of gay and lesbian friends who come to house and spend time with his family, and that he is happy for them that they are happy, although he himself believes that they are not living in a way that is true to the Bible. I thought this was a really respectful view, even though I don't agree that he even needs to have a stance on something that doesn't affect anyone else.

Aside from that, the stories pretty much confirmed my beliefs about the movement. The stories of people who were successful at becoming "ex-gay" all involved people who had not found supportive GLBT communities and whose experiences of being gay had also involved drugs, abuse, and anonymous sex. There were no stories of people who had had loving same-sex marriages, accepting workplaces and supportive GLBT churches before deciding they needed to convert and become straight.

I do also think that the people involved are not representative of the GLBT population. Alan Chambers spoke about how he is against same-sex marriage, because he says that if it had been an option, he likely would have chosen it. Of course, we all know plenty of people with well-formed identities who aren't the least bit fazed by what the government thinks of our identity or our relationships. I think his view on same-sex marriage "leading people into being gay" shows just how suggestable he is (and presumably the other people involved in the movement). It really pretty much disproves his assertion that anyone can be converted.


Indigenous Peoples Day

Boston Indymedia has a couple of photos and descriptions of Columbus Day protests that took place in the area. The Brookline High students in Coolidge Corner are particularly inspiring.

Sadly, there don't seem to have been many Indigenous Peoples Day events in the Northeast. Look how many took place in Oregon.


If there's ever a patent dispute, my readers can vouch that they saw it here first

I can't believe no one's thought of this. There should be toilet seats that automatically revert to unused temperature upon flushing. Like, they could have radiator-type pipes squiggled around inside the seat so the water would go through there and cool the thing back off. I think they'd have to be metal or glass/porcelain instead of wood or plastic, so they'd conduct well, but I think it would work.

Either that or the restroom could have some sort of countdown timer on the door that activates once someone leaves and is calibrated to the length of time that it takes a toilet seat to stop being perceptably assy. Like, WARNING: if the red circle is up, the ice is too thin to skate sit at your own risk.


From the "no, see, you're asking for something from ME" department

I just got a letter from some third-party agency hired by my health insurance company to follow up and see if an injury for which I was treated could possibly be covered by worker's comp or auto insurance or property liability insurance or a civil suit or something. In other words, they're looking for some way to get someone else to pay for the claim so Blue Cross Blue Shield doesn't have to.

Having sustained a lot of freak injuries, I'm used to getting these forms and writing back something like, "no, I have epilepsy and spinal cord injury and am generally uncoordinated and have a tendency to do really stupid things, so I assure you that I was injured entirely by my own fault and there's no one to go after. Also, I plan to spend the weekend taunting wildlife while running with a chainsaw. Have I mentioned that I don't remember the accident because I've been drunk for the past eight years. Thank you for your time."

So, I'm going down the list, checking off that, no, there was not an automobile involved, it wasn't on someone else's property, it wasn't while working, goddammit, enough questions already; I sliced open an artery and a couple of tendons while trying to cut a bagel, and no, you can't have the name of the bakery. Or the knife manufacturer.

Then I glance at the envelope on my desk and realize that instead of a series of pleasing bold black lines and a "no postage necessary if mailed in the United States," there's a square and a "post office will not deliver without proper postage."

Waaaitaminute. I'm not paying 37 cents to assist you people in finding someone else to blame for my injury. Dumbasses.

Reminds me of when my mortgage company has called me and been like "stay on the line for a very important call from AMC Mortgage" and then insisted I give them my account number. "Ma'am, we are unable to proceed without you giving us this information." Uh, hi, that's really fine with me if we don't proceed, since I didn't ask you to call me in the first place.

Ooh, on second thought, maybe I should pull the insurance letter out of the shred pile and send it to them after all. "Um, yes, I distinctly recall that my injury was caused by AMC Mortgage."