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    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.

    Abductees schmabductees

    Posted by Sean at 00:07, July 24th, 2005

    Poor North Korea. All it wants is to get along with everybody, and then what do the democracies of the world go and do? Kim Il-sung’s people abduct a few Japanese citizens from moonlit walks on their own beaches, and a quarter-century later the Japanese are still freaking out about it. It’s not like it just happened yesterday, or anything. Can’t people focus on the big picture?

    The DPRK’s Democratic Choson published statements on 23 July that, given that Japan plans to bring up the issue of Japanese abductees at the 6-party talks when they reopen for the fourth time in Beijing on 26 July, “Our definite feeling is that it is not necessary for us to sit in face-to-face meetings with Japan, given that it is determined to use its cunning to make a hindrance of itself at the 6-party talks.” The statements indicated yet again the DPRK’s position that it will not agree to direct talks with Japan for the duration of the meetings.

    The CNN report is here. Check out the part about the flower. Good grief.

    More 裏金

    Posted by Sean at 23:36, July 23rd, 2005

    Oh, uh, if you’re trying to keep a running count of slush funds in the Japanese federal government, you’re going to have to increase your total by two:

    Trade minister Shoichi Nakagawa admitted Friday that two more slush funds exist at his ministry, including one now containing 52 million yen that was created with payments from UNICEF.

    The other slush fund came from money that was obtained for the wages of part-timers who never worked at the ministry. A total of about 1.4 million yen has been put into the fund at the Trade Policy Bureau’s Americans Division, Nakagawa said.

    Last month, the ministry said its policy-making office secretly kept unused research subsidies to build slush funds.

    Over the past 30 years, only one payment, in November 1975, has been made from the slush fund, when 2 million yen was used to buy a membership to an exclusive restaurant. The membership was canceled four months later, and the money was returned to the fund.

    The other slush fund revealed Friday was created from the wages of fictitious part-timers. The slush fund started in fiscal 1995.

    A total of 1.39 million yen was put into the slush fund from fiscal 1995 to fiscal 2002. But 1.07 million yen had been withdrawn by June 2005 to pay real part-timers hired for busy periods, such as during Japan-U.S. trade negotiations, leaving 321,290 yen in the fund.

    The ministry plans to return all of the 1.39 million yen plus interest to state coffers.

    Egypt hit

    Posted by Sean at 23:29, July 23rd, 2005

    The number of deaths from yesterday’s terrorist bombing in Egypt is up to 88. I’ve been wondering–if terrorism experts thought this was possible, surely we’d be reading it by now, so I’m probably wrong–whether the plan wasn’t similar to that of the Bali bombers: set off an explosion or two to get people pouring into the street, then nail them with bigger explosions once they’re out there.

    A group claiming links to al Qaeda said Saturday’s bombings were revenge for “crimes committed against Muslims,” said an Internet statement. But the statement did not appear on major al Qaeda Web sites and it was impossible to authenticate the claim.

    Egypt’s biggest “crime against Muslims,” from the perspective of Islamofascits, is probably being a reasonably functional democracy. It also has a cultural heritage of world-enamoring brilliance that predates its contact with Islam. Of course, the resort that was hit was popular with foreign tourists as well, so there are people of many countries among the dead; but naturally most of the victims were Egyptians.

    Sincerest condolences to the Egyptian people, and best to President Mubarak and his government in the fight to keep the terrorists at bay. As Dean says, if we assume the flypaper strategy (which I have my reservations about), is working, it means that terrorist cells are going to be striking more frequently in the most Westernized Muslim countries. It’s going to be a trying time.