Fun with cats' brains

I was messing with my cat Dexter just now, because, really, what else are cats for? I've always known that he's particularly smart (makes up for the other two stupid cats in this household), but he surprised me just now.

He'll answer to "Dexter" consistently, which I knew, but I discovered that he won't answer to "Hamster!" or "Dumpster!" in the same intonation. That's good to know; at least he won't go crashing through the window if someone is screaming outside chasing their runaway trash container.

Dexter is going to eat you


Friends of gays should not be allowed to edit articles

This little work of satire summarizes how-not-to-fuck-up-the-internet better than any actual
guidelines could.


So many people are just so fucking stupid: Part 384293748392749823 in a series

There should be like a $5000 fine for jaywalking with a child in one's care. (Or an adult who has a guardian appointed.) I see people doing this just about every day. It's about one of the most irresponsible things a person can do, and it isn't like speeding or drifting in your lane or something where one can legitimately say that it happened accidentally. It isn't like you just space out for a second and look up and realize the place you're leading your child is the middle of the fucking road. And the fine should be doubled when the person towing the child or pushing a baby carriage outside the crosswalk (or against the light) glares at the cars that aren't stopping, as if there's some special law where you yield to people who are endangering their children.


Homophobia within the queer community

Purple Roofs is a worldwide directory of queer-friendly lodging. I use it to find my accommodations pretty much every time I travel.

Each listing contains the basic overview of price range and amenities, along with whether the place is either "gay owned," "lesbian owned," or "gay friendly. The "gay friendly" designation appears to mean "gay" in the broad sense, and every property that isn't gay or lesbian owned is listed as "gay friendly." I've not yet come across one that's bi-owned or trans-owned.

The listings also specify who is welcomed there. Most listings say this:

Clientele Welcomed: Gay Men Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Straight

Some of them list only gay men or lesbians. This seems reasonable, because there are some resorts and B&Bs that are hangouts pretty much exclusively for one group or the other, and while the ones I know of wouldn't be unwelcoming toward an outsider, most people who don't belong to that group would probably feel a bit out of place. I'm perfectly down with there being gay male hangouts, and I just view them as somewhere that I'm glad exists, but where I'd be out of place, thus appreciate the forewarning. I'd feel the same way if there were listings of places with a largely trans clientèle, though I haven't come across any of these.

There are a few places, however, which list everyone but bisexual, or everyone but trans, or everyone but straight. I'm not comfortable with this. Again, I'm fine with the idea of safe space, where a specific marginalized group with a lot of shared experience comes together to feel comfortable and feel like they fit in. When gay males or transpeople are looking for somewhere to spend a few days with a group that's homogeneous in respect to this part of their identity, that makes sense to me. (Get it? Homo?) I don't at all feel like they hate females or straight people or cisgendered people.

But what doesn't make sense is when somewhere is welcoming to a broad group of queers, except for one specific type of queers. Why would somewhere just exclude bisexual folks? Or transpeople? If you have a group of queer people, male and female, single and partnered, why on earth wouldn't bisexual or trans folks fit nicely right into this group? Oh, right, because some queer people are biphobic and transphobic. Which, sure, all of us have prejudices, but this goes beyond that. It's just alarming to me that there are so many business owners who would consciously check off a box on a form stating that an entire category of queer people are not welcome in their mixed queer setting. It's just bad business, too, because I don't stay anywhere on Purple Roofs that isn't welcoming to my bisexual or trans brothers and sisters.

And why would someone exclude straight people? I understand that some straight people might not want to be in a heavily queer setting, but why would the place turn them away outright if they otherwise have a diverse groups of folks spending time there? If a place welcomes gay men, lesbians, bisexual folks, and trans folks, they're going to have all sorts of family configurations hanging out there. Straight people aren't going to be intruding on safe space when the crowd is this diverse to begin with. Homophobic straight people might, but they haven't eliminated that possibility, since I'm sure they end up with biphobic and transphobic queer folks staying there anyway. A few of these anti-straight places even mention that they're child-friendly. That one really confused me. So, queer parents can't bring their straight children? Did they think before coming up with this policy? Even at the places that don't mention children, why would a resort want to object to, say, my family vacationing there along with a straight friend or two?


Yeah, so, the caucus...

Overall, it was really interesting. I enjoyed seeing how the process works (never mind how there's no reason whatsoever that we're still using the electoral college system instead of popular-vote-by-phone or similar).

It was kind of intriguing to me to think about how really pointless the process is when you're talking about a district that's made up of Somerville, Cambridge, and most of Boston. Basically, we spent four hours trying to choose delegates from a pool of big-name politicians who have considerable media coverage in terms of which candidates and issues they support. Yes, there were some no-name candidates who made it impressively far (and I voted for a few of them, mostly because I like to support the less-connected political newcomers, as long as they have a solid platform), but in the end, we were voting over and over to narrow our decision between Major Politician A and Major Politician B. Remember, the reason we're choosing delegates in the first place is because we're trying to choose someone who we think is most likely to continue to support Barack Obama at the DNC. Sure, in smaller districts, there might be issues with the chosen candidate changing their support, but I just don't see this happening in Boston where we have all the press coverage to look back on, in addition to the major candidates all being people with political aspirations aside from just running for delegate.

My highlights, in no particular order:

Roy Owens ran for delegate, and got eliminated in the first round. Someone explain to me what the hell he was doing supporting a progressive candidate. Google the guy, and granted many of the hits will be things I've written or have been quoted as saying to media sources, but he's blatantly anti-GLBT rights, not-subtly anti-immigrant, and, well, just isn't progressive. He enjoys running for things though, and one of the beautiful things about this country is that people like him are allowed to get on the ballot and allowed to preach homophobia. And the smarter and more compassionate folks are allowed to wonder openly about what on earth is up with him.

Representative Capuano was banging on the lectern with a red stapler to get people's attention. (If you don't understand why red staplers are funny, I'm really not sure what it is that you see in this blog, but welcome nonetheless.)

The process involves electing two male and two female delegates. First of all, what the fuck? Is this the 1600s? Why not also sort them on the ballot by race? Or age? Second of all, I am genuinely curious what laws apply in terms of how one's gender is determined in this process. Are they going by legal sex? (Ignoring the fact, for the moment, that there is absolutely no reason for a society to even have a concept of legal sex). When the process is taking place in Boston, do the laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression apply? Which would mean, of course, that any candidate could self-identify his/her gender, provided that s/he consistently identifies this way in everyday life, as the laws specify. In the same vein, would the caselaw of using sex discrimination laws in other jurisdictions to fight the same discrimination apply similarly? Or, since this is a federal process, would federal law be able to trump local law, similarly to how the Passport Agency cites the DOMA? I can't find any information either way indicating whether they're going by legal sex or by current gender presentation.

Since this is One Smoot, I do also want to point out that, at one point, several members of the audience asked Representative Capuano to please read the numbers of votes (written on a chalkboard on the stage) out loud, since the numbers had gotten progressively harder to read as the board had been erased and reused several times. He stated that he would not do so, since it would be unfair, as he had not been doing so all along. I don't understand this logic at all, but isn't this an ADA violation? The political process is required to be accessible, and it's certainly not an undue hardship to ask him to read four or five names and vote counts out loud when requested to do so. I realize that the people asking him to read it probably had normal vision (I couldn't read it after the board had accumulated enough chalk dust, and I have normal vision). Still, it's an ADA violation to respond to a simple request for accommodation by asking the person why they need the accommodation, or assuming the reason they need it. I know specifically that if someone in a setting asks to use an elevator that requires staff to activate it, it's illegal to ask why they need it or to say that it's "only for the disabled" or similar action that indicates that the person is taking it upon themselves to assess the person's disability.


Come to Jordan Hall on Saturday at noon to help decide who will be the next president

One of the families I work with is very politically active, and they've convinced me to go to the caucus tomorrow afternoon. I didn't know much about the process either, but it sounds really interesting, and it's of course for a good cause.

The caucus for Barack Obama is at Jordan Hall on Saturday April 5, and the doors are locked at 1:00pm, so be there before then.

There's more info here about the process, as well as the locations of the caucuses for those of you who aren't in the 8th congressional district. FYI, the 8th district includes Cambridge, Somerville, and most of Boston except for South Boston and parts of Dorchester, West Roxbury, Roslindale, and Hyde Park. To find out what district you're in, go here, and scroll down to District Representatives: Congressional. If yours is Michael Capuano, then come to the caucus with me, dammit.