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    Sleight of hand

    Posted by Sean at 11:57, February 8th, 2005

    I had gratefully forgotten his existence, but Living in Pink links (or was just displaying a link on one of its newsfeeds) to this Queer Day link to this Inquirer article about James McGreevey, who is settling into life as a Recovering Governor. Be sure to read the last sentence of Baker’s statement–pricelessly dry. And though it’s only February, I think Sabato has clinched the award for Drollest Use of a Participial Modifier, 2005:

    Ross K. Baker, a Rutgers University political science professor, said the former governor did a masterly job of erasing memories of much of his scandal-riddled 2 1/2 years in office with his “I am a gay American” speech.

    “I think he probably pulled off one of the most extraordinary acts of self-labeling in modern history by reducing the entire episode of Golan Cipel to ‘I am a gay American,'” Baker said. “He defined the reason for his resignation as his sexual orientation and not other things that were less attractive about the McGreevey administration–like corruption.”

    Larry Sabato, the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, agreed that McGreevey’s portrayal of himself has made him more marketable–“assuming he isn’t indicted.”


    Posted by Sean at 11:11, February 8th, 2005

    I might have known you could trust PennDOT to make on-line processing just as delay-prone and frustrating as an actual trip to the DMV. After all, why let modernization deprive you of the old-fashioned niceties? Thank you, Harrisburg! It’s a comfort to know that, even a continent and ocean away, I’ve got a friend in Pennsylvania.

    (No one needs to bother pointing out that if I’d renewed my license as soon as my parents forwarded the form to me, I wouldn’t have been in the kind of hurry that makes “connection timed out” messages into major obstacles. That’s not the point. What government of a commonwealth of 12 million people, which used to have more paved roads than any other state, has its flippin’ DMV site down at 7 a.m. local time on a work day? Pfft!)

    You can only see the top ninth, you know

    Posted by Sean at 21:29, February 7th, 2005

    You know how your friends who have been to Tokyo complain about the groping problem? We are not kidding:

    A record 2,201 cases of women molested on trains were reported in Tokyo last year, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) said.

    However, MPD officials said that they believe this is just the tip of the iceberg, noting that numerous victims of such crimes choose not to file criminal complaints against their molesters.

    Among the 2,201 cases, the MPD arrested, or sent investigation reports to prosecutors, on 1,886 suspects aged 14 to 80. Those in their 30s, some 37 percent, accounted for the largest number of suspects. About 30 percent of the victims were high school girls.

    Now, before anyone starts drawing conclusions about fundamental kinkiness in the Japanese character…uh, well, truth be told, there is some of that. But I think it’s fair to say that this is more a function of (1) having people packed so tight that you can essentially make mischief unobserved in the middle of a crowd of 200 people and (2) teaching women that part of modesty is not standing up for yourself in public.

    How would it be for you to do a little adapting for a change?

    Posted by Sean at 14:32, February 6th, 2005

    Agenda Bender writes about seeing Stella Dallas on TCM. Less fortunately for him, he also remembers La Toya.


    Mark the wickens quotes one of his countrywomen and–though I don’t think this was exactly his intention–demonstrates a truism: there’s no one more obnoxious than an atheist whose favorite subject is his own atheism. At least the pharisaical religious types tend to be entertainingly campy.


    Marc the Amritas never sends trackback pings, which is not a problem but means that people don’t necessarily see when he riffs socio-linguistically off someone else, the way this post expands on my comment about a recent insanity plea yesterday. Marc helpfully offers a wide selection of quick-and-dirty mental disorders that opportunistic minorities can draw on when facing the all-important task of evading adult responsibility. There’s probably one you can use. Check ’em out!

    Big plans for Japan Post

    Posted by Sean at 11:10, February 6th, 2005

    Plans for the privatization of Japan Post are moving right along–and in predictable directions. Heizo Takenaka announced some of his team’s new proposals last week; the Yomiuri has an English version:

    It also proposed requiring the companies that will manage postal savings and life insurance services to entrust their business to the network management company for a 10-year transition period from April 2007 to guarantee universal service.

    The government plans to restrict the new status to employees of the network management company and another company that will provide delivery services, including that for delivery of certified mail and court documents.

    Takenaka did not say whether the new status would be quasi-government employee status, which would ensure employees are subject to the same anticorruption rules as government employees. [I feel better already.–SRK]

    He said the government would consider a system to continue universal service, as a contribution to regional communities, of postal savings and life insurance after full privatization in 2017.

    In addition, the government would stipulate that there should be more than one post office in each municipality. It will pledge under the postal privatization bills to secure residents’ convenience and consider providing services in underpopulated areas.

    Mail pickup and delivery is a public service, so I can see why maintaining universal access is a theoretical worry. Practically speaking, though, is there any area to which private courier or freight services refuse to deliver?

    What the committee appears to be talking about is not just a one-line condition that the new corporation that handles the mails not restrict delivery by location. That bit about at least two post offices in every municipality, for example, is nice but arbitrary. If you’re familiar with rural areas, you can imagine some of the municipalities we may be talking about. Recall also that Japan is essentially one long volcanic range poked above the Pacific; there are twisty, hard-to-traverse mountain and ravine roads all over. The Kanto (Tokyo-Yokohama-Kawasaki) and Kansai (Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe) megalopolitan areas may house an unusually high proportion of the Japanese population, but the outlying areas are still outlying. I’m not aware of any regulation that says every municipality must have at least two rice-sellers or general stores, though you never know in Japan. Is it necessary (or wise) to be reforming Japan Post so that it maintains universal service by mimicking its current, drag-prone structure as much as possible–while piling on the number of corporations and rule-making bodies involved?

    Can’t wait to see what they come up with for the savings and insurance divisions!


    Posted by Sean at 02:19, February 6th, 2005

    You gotta love those temporary insanity pleas. This story is one that’s been kicking around the gay news sites for at least the last week or two, and I’m glad that the latest news is that the jury thought it was baloney (though perhaps not in any way sympathetic to the murder victim):

    But Boyle told the jury that Hirte was tormented about his sexuality and confused about what was going on inside of him.

    According to Boyle, Hirte had “homosexual urges” that intensified after he drank alcohol [We wouldn’t know anything about those.–SRK], as he did the night of the murder.

    Boyle claimed that Hirte was overcome with anger and “self loathing” and that he should be found insane. A psychiatrist testifying for the defense told the court that “gay rage” is a valid medical condition. George Palermo said that after examining Hirte he determined that the man had killed in a “micro-psychotic” episode. Palermo said that the “episode” was brought on by the “shame of realizing he had sex with another man.”

    Real modern convenience items, those mini-psychotic episodes that start just before a crime and end just after it. Hirte’s strikes me as kind of funny, since after my first time with a man, I was pretty screwed up with shame and self-loathing myself. I spent the next day throwing up. I think I took about six showers, and I know I sat in my room and cried a lot. Might’ve punched the wall a few times. Oddly, I never once had the urge to get a shotgun and knife and go back and kill my soon-to-be first boyfriend.

    Knew you’d be here tonight / So I put my best dress on

    Posted by Sean at 16:11, February 5th, 2005

    CNN has redeemed itself for every minute of air time given to that gasbag Brent Sadler: Design 360, its weightless show about contempo aesthetics, just did a segment on the new Kylie Minogue costume exhibit. Did I have a gaygasm or what? In fact, I’m pretty sure I died. Right here. The entity typing this is Sean Kinsell’s specter.

    I mean, we had the hot pants from “Better the Devil You Know” and the hot pants from “Spinning Around.” We had the loopy-swatch dress and the hooded what-is-that-supposed-to-be? from “Can’t Get You out of My Head.” There was stuff from her parents’ attic that she’d incorporated into her act–because, you know, she’s just-folks, like us in the audience! And, of course, Kylie herself was there, petitely bouncing through the racks and talking about wanting the people in her hometown to see everything first, because that’s the kind of humble girl she is. She remembers her Melbourne Melbn roots, she does.

    Of course, if I were curating this collection, I’d include all the guys from the “Slow” video. You know, as accessories. This is called “proper context.” And I’d make sure those horrid sheaths from “Hand on Your Heart” were kept way in the back of the storage closet. Some things are not worth remembering.


    Posted by Sean at 09:31, February 5th, 2005

    For possibly the first time in my entire life, I have risen at 8:30 on a Sunday morning to make myself a proper breakfast of eggs, toast, corned beef (the can didn’t have a key attached; some improvising with pliers and two nails was called for), juice, and tea. This is not a move toward self-improvement on my part, heaven forfend; I just have to go into the office today.

    Since I’ve been bustling around the kitchen to Outlandos d’Amour , I figure this is a good time to note the recent New York same-sex marriage ruling. Michael has his thoughts and a link to the PDF file of the original decision. The gay marriage debate merry-go-round started to bore me long ago, not because the issues aren’t important but because participants have a tendency to talk past each other repetitiously and VERY LOUDLY about small points without first finding common ground on the basics.

    I’m happy that our relationships have support from a lot of straight people, though I disagree that this is the way to channel it. On the other hand, however sincerely people may idealize marriage as sacred, it’s hard to fault those who argue that it’s evolved into essentially a loving relationship between two people who happen to want to be in it at the time. That is the way it’s actually been practiced for the last few decades, after all. (Blech, and speaking of Baby Boomer solipsism and self-indulgence, we’ve arrived at “Born in the 50’s”…no, not me, do it to Julia! JULIA!…where’s that remote?) Perhaps if people who object to gay marriage were willing to work as publicly and strenuously to reform divorce and custody laws, it would be harder to dismiss them as just prejudiced against queers.


    Posted by Sean at 21:17, February 3rd, 2005

    Having just sniggered at Westerners who gravely drop Oriental wisdom, I will now take the opportunity to discuss (briefly, at least for me) one of my favorite Japanese proverbs. Hypocritical, perhaps, but then, I own the place.

    What brought it to mind was a Proverbs-quoting comment on this post at Dean’s. The post links to an article called “How to Seem Smarter,” and though the basic tone is tongue-in-cheek, there is a good deal of truth to it.

    Anyway, the Japanese proverb I’m thinking of is this:


    nou aru taka ha tsume wo kakusu

    “The astute hawk keeps its talons hidden.”

    Now, of course, there are other Japanese proverbs that more explicitly admonish you to keep your trap shut to avoid making a fool of yourself. This one, however, has always been one of my favorites because, for one thing, it covers varieties of show-offiness besides just babbling. It’s like the German saying, “Always be more than you appear” (which, as Miss Manners once pointed out, “predates the invention of the Mercedes-Benz paid for on installments”).

    Another thing about it is the sensuality of the language. Except for the first word, which has a long-vowelled pronunciation borrowed from Chinese, the entire sentence is composed of native Japanese words. They flow along rapidly because of the alternating consonant-vowel structure and because most of the consonants themselves are unvoiced: k, t, ts, s. The sentence is sibilant and slightly menacing when you say it–pronounced conversationally, it comes out like noh’arutakawatsumewokox. You can imagine a hawk sitting in a tree, very still and observant, with the only sound the rustling of the leaves while he decides what to do next.

    Ryohei Sugimoto’s mother confirmed dead

    Posted by Sean at 20:29, February 3rd, 2005

    It’s only been a little over a month since the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, but I’m sure it’s seemed like much longer for Ryohei Sugimoto, 12, whose story has been the focus of much of the human interest coverage of the event here. When the rest of his family was swept away from the Pipi Island resort where they were vacationing, it fell to him to identify his father’s and brother’s remains. His mother’s body has finally been found and identified (dental records). Ryohei and the uncle who went back to Thailand with him will be coming home.

    With Mrs. Sugimoto, the number of Japanese confirmed dead comes to 26.