February 13th, 2013
The Atlantic has a cute story about the sayings that Necco’s Sweethearts have taken off the candy over their nearly 150 years. This is the illustration:
Which was all nice and fine until I saw this one.
Yeah, I know what it is supposed to say, but really? Really? C’mon, it’s tough enough being 49 and single this week.
January 2nd, 2013
We seldom venture far from stories with some relevance to the gay community. But sometimes you run across something that seems to bring tremendous advantage to a huge number of people and is so obvious that you wonder why its not been thought of before. So, from that perspective, I want to pass on an idea that combines LED technology with grandfather clock mechanics and results in gravity powered light that can replace dangerous and hazardous kerosene or other fuel-based lighting for the roughly 1.5 billion people who do not have electricity, the GravityLight.
The developers are giving the initial 1,000 unit production to African villages in 2013 and are seeking R&D funds to make a cheaper model which they hope could be purchased by villagers in Africa for less than $5. So for about the cost of three months worth of fuel, they could get a long-life, maintenance-cost-free alternative to the kerosene lamp.
Test your skills: catch the errors in this USNews article, win a prize
December 12th, 2012
It’s rare that I read an article so inaccurate – so horribly insanely pound your head on the wall and eventually just laugh your ass off inaccurate – that it becomes a work of art in its own right. Brad Bannon writing in the US News has such an article.
If it weren’t so earnest, I’d think it was satire. I’ll copy it in its entirety, assuming that it will change (normally I would never quote an entire article; fair use rules don’t generally stretch that far. But as I expect some revisions to be made it is necessary for the competition).
Special bonus points for who can catch the most errors.
Why the Supreme Court Will Rule in Favor of Gay Marriage
The justices read the election returns, or so goes the legal proverb about the Supreme Court. In this case they might have also looked at the Election Day national exit poll which showed that a plurality (49 percent to 46 percent) of voters favored gay marriage. Maine, Washington, and Maryland became the first states where voters legalized gay marriage themselves.
Friday, the Supreme Court decided to hear two cases on gay marriage. The first case comes from Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of appeals sitting in San Francisco. This case concerns the constitutionality of Proposition 8, a voter initiative in California that banned gay marriage. The other case is from the Second U.S. Court of Appeals in New York City. This case focuses on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, which became federal law in 1995.
The opponents of Prop 8 believe the law is unconstitutional because the ban treats gay couples unfairly, which is a violation of the Equal Protection clause in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. The Equal Protection clause states, “Nor shall any state… deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The defenders of Prop 8 believe that the federal government doesn’t have the constitutional power to interfere with the state ban because the Constitution does not give the feds the power to regulate marriage. Under the 10th Amendment, powers that the federal government doesn’t have are reserved for the states.
Many observers believe that the Court will overrule the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law that went into effect in 1996. DOMA expressly states that the United States government does not recognize the legality of gay marriage. In the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the plaintiff Edith Windsor, a widow legally married to another woman argues that DOMA violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment because the Internal Revenue Service sanctions more favorable tax rules for heterosexual couples than it does for same sex couples. The Justice Department under President Obama feels DOMA is unconstitutional and has declined to defend the law. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft who represents the supporters of DOMA argues that the Supreme Court should be hesitant overruling a law approved by the other two branches of the United States government.
Even though both cases concern gay marriage, the issues for each differ. In the Prop 8 case, nullification of the California law would effectively nullify the state laws in 41 states that ban gay marriages. If the court nullifies DOMA, the ruling would only apply in the states that permit gay marriage and would give the gay married couples in those states the same kind of tax and healthcare benefits under federal law that heterosexual couples enjoy. It would be easier politically for the court to nullify a federal law that is relevant in a few states than it would be to end state laws in 41 states. But the nullification of both the state and federal statutes is the only way to ensure the freedom that all Americans should enjoy without the government poking into their personal lives.
The prospects for giving gay couples equal rights under the law are there. On the Supreme Court, there are obvious blocks of four liberal and four conservative justices. The ninth justice, Anthony Kennedy is the swing vote. Supporters of gay marriage note that in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, Justice Kennedy ruled to nullify a state law which discriminated against gay couples. If Kennedy and the four liberal justices rule that DOMA is unconstitutional, the court will do what it did in the Lawrence case which is to give gay couples the same rights that heterosexual couples enjoy.
Support for gay marriage will only grow over time. Demography and history suggest that it is just a matter of time until gay Americans can shake off the stigma of second class citizenship.
Thomas Jefferson believed that political equality was an unstoppable force in a democracy. History supports Jefferson’s theory. In 1896, most Americans accepted send class citizenship for blacks as the natural order of things. So did the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled that year that the agency that ran the trolley cars in New Orleans did not violate the equal protection clause when it arrested a black person, Homer Plessy for riding in a car reserved for whites. By 1954, the public turned against segregation and so did the Supreme Court in Brown et al v. the Topeka Kansas Board of Education. In Brown, the court ruled that Linda Brown, a black elementary school student, had the constitutional right to attend the all white school in her neighborhood. The Equal Protection clause in the 14th Amendment didn’t change between 1896 and 1954 but the justices and public attitudes did.
The ruling in Brown paved the way to blacks to start the long journey from second to first class citizenship. It took blacks years for black Americans to enjoy their right to equal protection under the law. Hopefully, Edith Wilson will enjoy her day in the sun like Linda Brown. Conservatives and Republicans can slow the train of freedom but they can’t stop it.
In their book, Millennial Makeover, Morley Winograd and Mike Haas noted that a large majority of adult Americans under 30 years of age were very supportive of gay marriage while seniors strongly opposed the idea. So it’s just a matter of time until gay Americans shake the shackle of second class citizenship.
UPDATE: What do you win? Whoever catches the most errors wins BTB crap!!
Yes we sell logo crap – or, more exactly, Cafe Press sells fine quality products with a BTB Logo. We don’t push it on you, but it’s there for those who want to proudly show your local coffee klatch, your gym buddies, or your nosy neighbors that you read the musings of Jim and Rob and the gang (you have permission to pretend that you skip right over mine).
So if you win, I will buy you your choice of: a BTB Mousepad, a BTB large mug (I have them, they are great coffee cups), or (drumroll please) a BTB tote bag which is great for trips to the beach or slogging home groceries from environmentally conscious overpriced organic-only co-op neighborhood hippy-chick avocado stands (don’t mock – they make the best guacamole).
One week from today, I’ll announce the winner (which should be pretty damn obvious anyway).
Some things change, some things stay the same
December 11th, 2012
In an article in the Guardian about the proposed marriage bill in Britain, I see the inevitable here. Give it a decade and this will be common:
Richard and Mary Smith, an elderly couple wrapped up tightly against the bitter wind, were happy to pause on their way to have coffee to bemoan the state of school discipline, and speak of their fears about crime and poor parenting. But “as far as gay couples living together and getting married, that’s their choice”, Richard said.
Which will be followed by “but those lesbians don’t raise their kids right anymore! They used to be polite, but now they run all over my lawn!”
Pat Robertson is a heretic, a blasphemer, perhaps the Anti-Christ
December 10th, 2012
From our dear dear friends at the American Family Association:
On a broadcast of The 700 Club late last month, Pat Robertson disputed the belief that the earth is about 6,000 years old, suggesting billions instead.
“I know people will probably try to lynch me when I say this,” he stated, “but Bishop Ussher — God bless him — wasn’t inspired by the Lord when he said it all took 6,000 years. It just didn’t …. There was a time that [dinosaurs] were on the earth and it was before the time of the Bible. So don’t try to cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years. That’s not the Bible.”
Well! I declare!
Can’t he read the simple English in which the Bible was written? It’s right there in black and white, to be taken literally and exactly!
My oh my!
But not to worry:
Moreover, the AIG researcher notes that Robertson’s claim that dinosaurs existed before biblical times is illogical, because there is no pre-biblical time; the Bible starts with the creation of the world.
Happy … um … something
December 7th, 2012
This summer I found this lovely item in HomeGoods which I’m sure would come in handy while celebrating, oh, something or other.
Or, as my friend Dan Rosen told me on Saturday, “This year has gone by so fast. It’s almost Hannukah and I haven’t even started putting up my Christmas decorations.”
Story of a porn Idol
September 28th, 2012
In the early 1990’s, Ryan Idol was the king of gay porn. Idol Eyes, his 1990 debut video starring opposite Joey Stefano (another story, another time), was a huge success and promotion of Idol as the face of a higher quality, professionally filmed version of erotica made him a recognizable name. I have some vague recollection of being at some party about that time in which the dance floor was alive with the rumor that Ryan Idol had just arrived by helicopter.
Idol (real name Marc Anthony Donais) went on to star in Huge Video’s Idol Worship, Idol Thoughts, Idol Country, and Idol in the Sky, along with a few others which did not feature his name. Coming to the porn world fresh from a Playgirl centerfold, he claimed to make $50,000 per movie.
But by the late 1990’s, Idol’s career may have been suffering from overexposure and after 1996 he ceased working for Huge. While pursuing plans to produce his own video, Idol Gods, Idol turned to stage acting. The transition was not a large one. In 1997, Idol stepped in to star in Making Porn, Ronnie Lawsen’s play about an out-of-luck straight actor who ends up in the gay pornography business.
But Idol was still in the limelight. And he lived it up in the company of Windy City Times founder Jeff McCourt. (Chicagomag.com 2000)
… McCourt would drift into a number of brief relationships, the most notable of which was with Marc Anthony Donais, a man far better known in the gay community as the pornographic film star Ryan Idol.
“In some kind of fucked-up way, they cared about each other,” says Alter. “They were two highly narcissistic, very on-the-edge types of personalities who were using each other for image, for money, for drugs, for sex.” He adds, “In spite of all that—and I know how strange this sounds—I think there was something real there.”
Donais, who today lives in a small New England town, agrees. They met in the late 1990s, when Donais was in Chicago and attempting to launch a legitimate acting career by starring in a play in Bailiwick Repertory’s annual Pride Series. He and McCourt began a yearlong on-again, off-again relationship that was complicated by the fact that, for most of that time, Donais had a girlfriend. “He was somebody I’ll never forget,” Donais says. “He was really like a best friend, a big brother. He would have me in his office all the time to show off and stuff. And he would be wielding his power, and I identified with that.”
The staff remembers it somewhat differently. “We’d have editorial meetings where Jeff would be sitting there with white powder around his nose, drinking booze out of a bottle with Ryan Idol asleep on the couch,” says Weisberg. “At some point we just knew this wasn’t going to work—that this was no way to run a business.”
But life for Marc Anthony Donais was not all flashbulbs and applause. The glamorous life, with its abundance of chemical happiness, was difficult for him to handle. And his erratic behavior and fiery temper got in the way. One night after a performance he got angry, punched the playwright, and left in handcuffs.
While that put a temporary stop to the starring role, the worst was the night of March 20, 1998, when Donais took a leap out of the window of his girlfriend’s fourth floor apartment. A fortunate bounce off an awning saved his life leaving him with a shattered pelvis, mangled left arm, severe concussion and whiplash.
Without health insurance and resorting to on-line appeals for funds, Idol went back to the play in Miami Beach’s Colony Theater. He promised to be good. He lasted a month. On September 1, 1998 Idol showed up 45 minutes late. (Steve Rathous)
“His eyes were dilated, and he was extremely agitated, ” Hodgson said. “I told him he was in breach of contract for showing up late. His response to me: ‘Sue me. . . . F— you. . . . I’m not going on.’
“In his street clothes, he went center stage in front of the audience and said: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, the show has been canceled.’ He walked out through the front door and left.”
That was it for Making Porn, but Ryan continued his stage career with Scent Of Rain, a rural-set gay-man-finds-love story with lots of nudity. And, after a hiatus of about a decade, got a bit part in a revival of The Ritz (2007) and earned the right to say he played on Broadway. He even managed to get a one man show, Anatomy of an Idol, produced. But Idol Gods never materialized and Ryan Idol’s superstar days were long over. The public had no interest in an aging Marc Anthony Donais.
But three years ago, Donais returned to the public eye, though not in a way he would have preferred. That night he was upset over a recent breakup and went to visit the woman with whom he had been involved. (SacBee)
According to the victim’s testimony at trial, Donais entered the woman’s apartment the night of Sept. 5, 2009, and told her, “I came over here to kill you.”
The two had been involved in a relationship, but the woman – whose name is being withheld because she is a domestic violence victim – said she ended it when she caught him having sex with his male lover.
The woman said Donais stormed into her bathroom while she was taking a bath at her 48th Street residence and began to beat her with the porcelain lid.
He claimed to have beat her in self defense saying he thought she had a knife. The jury didn’t buy that one. On September 20, 2011 he was convicted of attempted murder.
When he went for sentencing, his attorney requested that he be removed. Donais then sought another trial, claiming inadequate council. His second trial didn’t fare better and yesterday Donais faced his sentence.
More than a year after his conviction, a one-time gay porn star who beat his former girlfriend over the head with a toilet tank lid has been sentenced to 12 years in state prison for attempted murder.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Troy L. Nunley imposed the term Wednesday on Marc Anthony Donais, 46, who established a reputation in the 1990s as one of the top stars in his genre under the name of Ryan Idol.
Which brings me to my Ryan Idol story. It’s not exactly that thrilling and doesn’t portray me in a particularly complimentary light, but here is how I recall it:
This was way back when, in the mid 90s just about the time that Ryan Idol was coming to recognize that in porn fresher is better. One of my clients, an HIV/AIDS service group, was the charity recipient of that year’s gay porn awards and the executive director asked me to join him at the event.
It was not nearly as risqué as it sounds. Because liquor was sold, there was no nudity and clips from the videos couldn’t be shown. Other than a couple “oh, I didn’t know you did porn” encounters, it was fairly boring and only one moment really stands out it my mind.
At the table next to our own was a still-recognizable face: Ryan Idol. He was easy to spot as he was the only man to bring a female date to the event, a woman he described as his fiancée.
And he was noticeably drunk. And obnoxious.
Now most people weren’t treating this in a very serious manner. After all, where exactly does one display the award for Best Bottom in a Three Way?
To my defense, I insist that we didn’t really start it. But we couldn’t help but notice that Idol has strong opinions about who should be receiving awards, opinions that he wasn’t exactly keeping to himself.
My client got a mischievous twinkle in his eye, and I played right along. We noticed that Ryan Idol was nominated for some award later in the program and decided to set the stage. We started a just-loud-enough-for-him-to-hear conversation about the role. Neither of us had seen his performance but we assured each other that it was a masterpiece and worthy of the highest praise.
“Oh my god, that was so hot! Amazing! And look at the competition. Did you see that one? Ugh, booooring, I fast forwarded!”
Perhaps a more sober or more astute man would have known that he was being egged on. And perhaps a less volitile actor would have politely applauded the winner when his name wasn’t called.
But I will forever remember Ryan Idol standing and screaming at the stage, “That’s bullsh!t! That’s fuc%ed up!”
In retrospect, I’m glad he never found out that he was set up. And that he didn’t have a handy toilet seat.
I invented a nutritional supplement this morning.
August 18th, 2012
The market is HUGE!
God Bless Amercia!
May 30th, 2012
Contrary to a couple of snide rumors out there, I did not copy-edit the Romney campaign’s new iPhone app.
Naturally, there’s already an Amercia-themed Tumblr.
Today in Science: Five Urinals Are Better Than Seven
May 16th, 2012
Someone finally determines the most efficient number of urinals based the International Choice of Urinal Protocol. Complete with graphs and formulas.
Where There’s History, There’s a Tumblr
May 9th, 2012
April 10th, 2012
Republicans respond to divine message
March 21st, 2012
This Iowan Is Tired of the Bad Press
January 3rd, 2012
Don’t let the focus on the GOP caucuses affect what you think about Iowa. (NSFW, so get your earphones.)
Friday Fun: what number are you?
December 9th, 2011
The New Yorker’s Paul Rudnick has decided that Kinsey’s sexuality scale is just too limited and so he’s come up with his own. And, it being Friday, I won’t rant about stereotypes or make much of his presumption that there is no life (worth noticing) outside Manhattan.
Though I couldn’t pick Mandy Patinkin out of a lineup, I’m a 20 (but only because I’ve never seen Follies).