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    I’m not like you

    Posted by Sean at 22:28, July 28th, 2005


    Early last month, a Love in Action administrator said that two male teens in the program were both enrolled for six-week stints in the “ex-gay” camp, and last week in an interview broadcast on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Zach’s father, Joe Stark confirmed his son’s identity as one of Love in Action’s clients.

    “We felt good about Zach coming here … to let him see for himself the destructive lifestyle, what he has to face in the future, and to give him some options that society doesn’t give him today,” Stark said.

    “Until he turns 18 and he’s an adult in the state of Tennessee, I’m responsible for him, and I’m going to see to it that he has all options available to him.” [These are the statements to CBN that were quoted a week or two ago.–SRK]

    A Los Angeles-based psychologist [Ruh-roh!–SRK] took issue with the father’s statement.

    “It appears that both Mr. Stark and the LIA director’s public comments are highly defensive and indicate that their concern is less for the child’s well-being and more for their own purposes,” said Paul Chimubulo said via e-mail.

    “The sort of homophobia they espouse has been shown to be rooted in anxiety and a feeling of threat. … The gay child’s expressions are recognized and interpreted as injurious to the parent’s sense of self. With the publicity this has gathered, the father’s internal anxiety and feelings of threat over his son’s gay identity must really be ratcheted up.”

    I have no doubt that Joe Stark is doing quite a bit of hard thinking about his own performance as a father and how it might have “made” Zach gay, but can we please remember that people have convictions, too? It is perfectly possible–likely, as far as I’m concerned–that the Starks, at least, are genuinely acting as they think is best for their son, based on religious and other beliefs. That those beliefs are fed by factoids that play on confirmation bias doesn’t make them less real, though it should make them easier to argue against.

    My sense is that the wording Joe Stark used is probably the result of heavy-duty coaching–the focus on Zach’s coming adult independence and the characterizing of LIA as showing “options” distract attention from the coercion involved so shrewdly that I find it hard to imagine their coming spontaneously from a distraught parent. But that doesn’t mean he can be dismissed as acting out of a neurotic attempt to preserve his “sense of self.” The word homophobia, paradoxically enough, could conceivably be justified here–for once, we’re not just talking about anti-gay sentiment but about a real attempt to erase homosexuality in someone. But it’s not a judgment call we can really make, and crappy reasoning is just as bad coming from our side as from the opposition. Couldn’t the Washington Blade have found someone more level-headed to cite as an authority?


    Posted by Sean at 22:00, July 28th, 2005

    A slightly different group of six has also been meeting in Laos:

    The world’s top two air polluters — the U.S. and China — joined Australia, India, Japan and South Korea on Thursday to unveil a new Asia-Pacific partnership to develop cleaner energy technologies in hopes of curtailing climate-changing pollution.

    They described the initiative as a complement to the Kyoto Protocol that commits 140 countries to cutting emissions of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, but environmentalists said the new pact lacked firm obligations to cut pollution and that it might undermine the Kyoto accord.

    It said the countries could collaborate on clean coal, liquefied natural gas, methane, civilian nuclear power, geothermal power, rural energy systems, solar power, wind power and bio-energy. In the long-term, they could develop hydrogen nanotechnologies, next-generation nuclear fission and fusion energy, it said.

    Environmental group Friends of the Earth was skeptical about the pact because it contained no legally binding requirements to cut emissions.

    “It looks suspiciously as though this will be business as usual for the United States,” said the U.K.-based group’s member, Catherine Pearce.

    “A deal on technology, supported by voluntary measures to reduce emissions, will not address climate change. This is yet another attempt by the U.S. and Australian administrations to undermine the efforts of the 140 countries who have signed the Kyoto Protocol,” she said.

    Well, nature girl, I have to wonder just how much there is to undermine. Remember this story from several months back?

    Under the Kyoto Protocol, Japan has agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions between fiscal 2008 and 2012 by an average 6 percent from the fiscal 1990 level.

    The Asahi Shimbun established that only a few prefectural and municipal governments have done anything about it. In fact, a nationwide survey found that only three of the 47 prefectural governments and seven of the 13 major cities can actually boast decreases in their greenhouse gas emissions.

    Also, latest statistics offered by about half the prefectural and municipal governments surveyed showed double-digit increases over the fiscal 1990 level in greenhouse gas emissions.

    I’ve been looking out for information since then that the federal government is somehow taking this into account and doing something about it (say by directly regulating industry). It’s always possible that a pertinent article has slipped past me, but I kind of doubt it. The Nikkei, the major business newspaper, is the one I read most extensively on-line and subscribe to (morning and evening editions) in dead-tree form. And the way the issue was reported in native English outlets was so bland you might not have noticed that there was even a problem. This CBS report is typical:

    In Japan, a tireless supporter of the pact, the enactment was being met with a mixture of pride and worry that the world’s second-largest economy is unprepared to meet its emissions reduction targets.

    Japan is struggling to find ways to meet its obligations. A report this month by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed that 11 of 30 top Japanese industries — steel and power among them — risked failing to reach targets unless they take drastic steps.

    It makes me wonder whether many of the other countries that signed on really have a plan.

    Buffalo stance

    Posted by Sean at 09:51, July 28th, 2005

    The 6-party talks are still going on, of course:

    At the opening ceremony of the six-way talks, which resumed after 13 months of suspension at the the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said concerned parties were required to have political will and make strategic decisions if they intended to make progress toward the denuclearization of the peninsula. He added that North Korea was fully prepared to do so.

    But the North Korean chief delegate went on to say that he believed the United States and other participating nations should also be willing to make strategic decisions.

    The delegates were again struck by Pyongyang’s unyielding stance.

    By referring first to its readiness to make a strategic decision, a course of action U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had urged Pyongyang to take, North Korea showed a positive stance apparently aiming at preventing other nations from increasing pressure on Pyongyang to scrap its nuclear program.

    North Korea argued in the July 24 editorial of the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Workers’ Party of Korea, that the United States had transformed South Korea into a nuclear arsenal by bringing in various nuclear weapons. South Korea has denied the allegation that any nuclear weapons are deployed in the nation.

    In February, Pyongyang declared it possessed nuclear weapons. Denuclearization of the peninsula means that Pyongyang’s own nuclear programs and nuclear weapons, and those held by the U.S. military stationed in South Korea, must be abandoned at the same time. North Korea therefore insists that the United States, which drove Pyongyang to develop its nuclear programs by bringing the weapons into South Korea, also should make a strategic decision to abandon its nuclear weapons.

    Retaining this view, North Korea is able to argue that the two nations, as equal nuclear powers, can then proceed with direct negotiations.

    Right…which means that the probability of the DPRK’s actually disarming (what leverage would it have left then–economic might?) is around zero.

    Everyone seems to agree that it would be a bad idea for Japan to push the abductee issue at this week’s talks. Not everyone agrees on how the talks themselves could be “productive,” but perhaps it really is possible for a sort of Dilbert-ish chain of never-ending committees and conferences and inquiries and stuff to be established and kept lamely going until the DPRK actually does collapse.

    The unruffed grouse

    Posted by Sean at 05:43, July 27th, 2005

    Joe has his thoughts up on Jon Stewart’s Rick Santorum interview last night:

    My belief is that we can win the debate, we don’t have to denigrate. So that’s what Sanotrum believes and I don’t agree. I don’t believe that good parenting requires one man and one woman and I find that the studies back me up.

    I also don’t agree that the only societal interest in marriage is children. It’s one interest, even a primary interest, not the only interest. Stable relationships are themselves an interest. They foster a stable society, public health and safety, and better economics, which are all in our societal interest.

    Joe also links to a transcript of the interview at Towleroad. I thought the infamous man-on-dog comparison from a few years ago was just silly–not only insulting but also poorly judged because it gave shrieky political activists an excuse to excoriate Santorum without paying the slightest attention to any distinctions he actually did make usefully.

    Some people may find their brain fried at this segment of the interview:

    Santorum: I would say that certainly people who are homosexuals can be virtuous and very often are. The problem is that when you talk about the institution of marriage as the foundation and building block of society which I say the family is, and the marriage is the glue that holds the family together. We need to do things to make sure that that institution stays stable for the benefit of children.

    Joe disagrees in specific ways with Santorum that I do not, but his comments are, as always, respectful and worth reading.

    A word to the wise

    Posted by Sean at 03:25, July 26th, 2005

    Would everyone please keep the following in mind:

    1. No one is ethically obliged to sleep with you just because you invited him to.

    2. If you’ve flattered someone incessantly and he still won’t sleep with you, refer to item 1.
    3. If you’ve pointed out that you think someone’s refusal to sleep with you constitutes a rejection of your shared gay heritage and is a manifestation of buried shame, self-loathing, and pathetic hetero-imitating…and he still won’t sleep with you, study item 1 REAL HARD.
    4. If you’ve pointed out that his refusal to sleep with you is, when you stop and think about it, a repudiation of the very principles of personal liberty and autonomy that make our civilization great…and he still won’t sleep with you–hello? Item 1.
    5. By this point, the poor guy may be laughing so hard as to need CPR. If you take this opportunity to put the moves on him yet again, you risk getting decked. *

    Make yourself at home

    Posted by Sean at 01:55, July 25th, 2005

    Alice is thinking about Martha Stewart and the 80s:

    It [Entertaining] is a great book, from a time when being completely over the top extravagance was just about to become more socially acceptable than it has ever been since (the 80s), and I wish Martha had just continued right into that stratosphere instead of becoming more small-scale domestic, but then everyone else downsized too, so one can hardly blame her for that. “The most sumptuous book on entertaining ever published” says the back cover, and when I read it as a teenager teaching myself to cook it seemed entirely fantastical and extraordinary: who were these people who threw “A sit-down country luncheon for one hundred seventy-five” in their back garden? Who would make eleven kinds of tiny weeny cocktail snacks for fifty guests? A gingerbread mansion for “The holiday party”, complete with pediment, finials and cupola plus internal lighting? The mile-high lemon meringue pie- “My mother and I baked it when we had extra egg whites on hand, and made a meringue as high as the oven would allow”- went on my mental list of lifetime ambitions, along with plenty of other things nobody in England had heard of in 1982- pissaladiere, tabbouleh, filo pastry, tempura, and on and on.

    I’m with her–aspiration is a good thing. They’re broadcasting Nigella Lawson’s show here in Japan now. It’s fun to watch. Well, I don’t think it’s necessary to put green chilis in every freaking main dish. I also tire of her constant need to use olive oils “infused” with leafy green crap. And the I’m-just-bopping-around-my-home-kitchen-as-I-do-every-day vibe is ruined by the way she, like, makes raspberry sauce while wearing a pink cashmere twinset with no apron.

    But the most annoying thing is the way she’s always talking about how informal and easy and spontaneous cooking can be. I realize that she (and Martha and Delia and the others) are dealing with an audience that’s used to living on prepared food. You’ll just scare the bejeezus out of such people if you start at service à la russe; even so, must we go full tilt in the opposite direction and make everything out to be so accessible all the time? Atsushi and I entertain a lot–I cook and he socializes. (Imagine the disaster that would ensue if we switched duties, huh, darling?) It is indeed nice to have people over for drippy, luscious comfort food that can be pitched into bowls any old way and enjoyed while the wine and conversation flow all relaxed-like; but it can also be a real pleasure to deliver something to the table that’s clearly been in the works for a week.

    Anyway, Alice has more to say about inquisitiveness and inventiveness in general.


    Posted by Sean at 09:52, July 24th, 2005

    So, you know, Google Earth is kind of cool, but just how old are those images of Japan? For those whose lives are also 渋谷中心, check this out:


    That section labeled “WTF?!” is the site of the Cerulean Tower Hotel. As you might imagine, that means the parking lot shown…


    …has been gone for quite a while. The darned thing is 40 floors. It opened in 2001. Not even in Japan can they bring two halves of a modular skyscraper on flatbed trucks down National Highway 246, upend them on the foundation, and rivet them together. Maybe I’m seriously missing something, but I’m guessing the image dates from around 1997 or 1998. (The Infos Tower nearby is already there.) I mean, it’s a free service–I’m not being ungrateful, and it’s actually kind of cool to see things where they were right after I’d come to Japan. It’s just odd. Maybe the version you have to shell out for has more up-to-date stuff?

    Any minute now

    Posted by Sean at 02:25, July 24th, 2005

    I would just like to point out that it’s not irresponsible of me to be sitting here reading and posting and eating cookies when I should be cleaning the bathroom, because, see, I’m thinking about the fact that I should be cleaning the bathroom. And that makes it all better.

    The bathroom is funky by this point. Well, okay, since I’m a neatnik, by most people’s standards it’s probably not very funky at all. It’s just that, having been at Atsushi’s last weekend, I didn’t get a chance to give it a really thorough scrub-down. In July in Tokyo, just spending five minutes wiping everything with Top Job does not count as bathroom cleaning for the week.

    It’s been very mild this year, though. Yesterday was kind of gross, but not as kiln-like as you often get. That was fortunate, given the number of people who were stranded by suspended train service after the earthquake. I haven’t felt any aftershocks, though I probably wouldn’t have been awakened by mild ones. Things seem to be back on track now.

    I received your message in full a few days ago

    Posted by Sean at 02:06, July 24th, 2005

    Via Ace (Happy birthday!), this post Jason Kuznicki is a must-read…uh, must-view. It’s both moving and understatedly hilarious. Ace points out something that cannot be repeated too often:

    If there are folks who cannot accept themselves as homosexuals, or reconcile their faith with their orientation, then I support their desire for a heterosexual life and wish them happiness, however they have to accomplish that. However, I am beginning to notice a trend amongst “ex-gays.” Just like Rev. Grace Harley, the testimonials at PFOX and Exodus, most of them had other problems: unhealthy sexual addictions, drug abuse, physical or sexual abuse, infidelity, mistrust. Remove these factors – ones that will cause discord in any relationship, gay or straight – and find that there are more and more gay people out there living happy, healthy, productive, emotionally and spiritually satisfying lives. Sometimes I wonder if the ex-gays’ problems are not who they are, but what they were doing. They might actually agree with me on that statement since the program teaches you to view being gay as something you do, not something you are. I see the gay as who they are/were and the bad habits as what they were doing to bring them down.

    You know it, girlfriend. When people claim to have found the key to beatific happiness, my suspicions are immediately aroused if they go on to insist desperately that no one living differently could ever anyway anyhow possibly be happy. It always sounds to me (when from ex-gays) like a need to seal off their own unvanquished need to find a same-sex mate lest it erupt again at any moment.

    To Ace’s suggestion that the ex-gays find a new marketing strategy, I would add this: Knock it off with the moist-eyed, unctuous, quivering-with-sympathy, soppy, sappy, sodden tone of patronizing helpfulness. (Jason Kuznicki captures it with truly frightening proficiency.) To even-keeled gays with a healthy sense of mischievous humor about the realities of life, it’s like Lee Press-ons across the world’s largest chalkboard. No one who truly feels he’s found the path to rectitude needs to talk that way.

    Corruption on Earth

    Posted by Sean at 01:06, July 24th, 2005

    Thanks, Eric. I can understand why everyone wanted to jump on this story so quickly, but there are so many possible variables–the chief ones being Persian culture and the opportunistic thuggishness of the Islamic Republic in Iran. It made me wonder–the Iranian government is notorious for bringing sex-related offenses into cases in which its real motivations lie with other behavior.

    “Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi”
    To: “Eric Scheie”
    Subject: Re: Photos of public execution of two youngsters in the city of Mash’had
    Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2005 12:08:00 -0400

    The story does not change…the info that the Mullahs gave out first was one thing and then activists outside Iran were informed that there was more to it than those two boys being hung for theft. ALSO, please note that they were not gay in the way people in the west would think of “gay” ’cause people in our part of the world have sex with men and women and in that part of the world, it’s common for men to sleep with men and women…but to us, it’s all sexuality and sexuality in and of itself, to the Mullahs is not acceptable. There are many dichotomies that one cannot properly explain for westerners; like the Eunuchs in our part of the world, etc. To people in the west, they’re disgusting and bizarre…to us, they’re wonderful and we love our Eunuchs! However, un P.C. that may be in this part of the world.

    These two poor boys did have sex with each other but that was never what they were officially charged with and that is a fact. The reason WHY in fact they were executed, underneath it all was because the Mullahs often make an example of youngsters who are unruly and apparently these two had been also raped and sodomized by a local Mullah whom they wanted to expose. Like those two innocent 16 year old and 19 year old girls they executed last Oct. and Dec…Atefeh Rajabi and Leila Mo’aafi…they said that they were whores but it turned out that they had both been molested by the local Mullahs and
    when these two poor girls had come to expose them, they got executed.

    I hope this explains it. I cannot explain any more than this because if you aren’t from that part of the world you will NEVER understand or grasp the height of the Islmo-Fascist mentality. Their psychosis is something HITLER could not even imagine and yet no matter what we dissidents try to explain to westerners…people refuse to believe what we impart…simply because your part of the world is not ancient (or the archaic’ness’ was shed many moons ago) and your values entirely different AND at odds with what those people over there, do, say and think.

    Actually, I think I do come closer to understanding this issue than many Westerners. I have heard about Muslim mullahs raping young men they’ve sentenced to death for “sodomy.” And clearly Iran today is a country run largely by such sociopaths.

    As to sexuality, we in the West have a different way of processing these things, and as I have said many times, in my opinion we have come up with unnecessary divisions based on “sexualities” which are as varied as the individuals. But the bottom line here should not whether anyone is homosexual or heterosexual, or should be labeled “gay” as we do in this country. It’s the human freedom to be left alone in matters of one’s bedroom.

    Japan has normal relations with Iran, and you meet Iranian businessmen in the bars here occasionally. Eric’s right about unnecessary divisions, but I think it’s important to point out that there really are homosexuals as we think of them in Iran, too. As one (drop-dead gorgeous–good grief, was that man beautiful) guy put it to me a few years ago, “In Iran, it’s not uncommon for men to marry and be bound to their wives while also being attracted to men or boys, but [conspiratorial smile] I’m like you.” Also, setting artificial but meaningful boundaries is one of the most important things an advanced civilization does.

    None of this means that I don’t think we should protest against laws on the books that allow teenagers to be executed for sodomy. Nor do I think that gay leftists shouldn’t be clobbered hard for the way they constantly make excuses for illiberal non-Western regimes and treat the Bush administration as the greatest threat to liberty for gays and lesbians. (Of course, given their own tendency to mewl that all their problems are everyone else’s fault, their affinity for the Palestinians, at least, is pretty understandable.) It’s just that in all the point-scoring, something gets lost: these people hate imagination and free thought and idiosyncrasy in all forms. Their hatred of homosexuality may be sincere, but in practice, they frequently invoke it as a means to the end of maintaining power and strongarming people back in line. Ms. Zand-Bonazzi has a final point to make:

    The west is hugely to blame and in my opinion not so much the U.S. (though the U.S. has managed to make a mess of a few things big time), EUROPE…those European plutocrats are the ones at fault and though I hate the idea of those innocent people dying (there were also Iranians among the people who died on the bus on 7/7 in London), I’m sorry but I believe the U.K. government brought it all onto themselves…and NOT by backing the war on Iraq but by NOT backing off from doing business with CORRUPT Islamists, LIKE, the Mullahs for all these years. They were warned that the Islamo-Fascists have no good intention to ANYONE in the west…but the Euro bastards like to act like it’s only the U.S. and Israel.

    Well, the US could stand to be less cozy with the al-Sauds, but point taken.