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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Challenges For A Better Tomorrow - Obama's State of the Union

State of the Union addresses are often more about pomp and ceremony than substance.

Tonight, President Barrack Obama, transcended from a President seeking to establish his identity to a man who has forever made a mark on our Country and the World.

In a call to arms (in a figurative sense), President Obama asked that we regain our sense of hope, direction and national identity.  He asked that we shy away from our differences and focus on what makes us great.  He said: "From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That's how we win the future."

He spoke of changes in the World and how that should not discourage us but challenge us.  He said:
None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be, or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do – what America does better than anyone – is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living.
Innovation is part of our culture and it is something which we do best.  We face our challenges and we create.

But it is not only the challenge of a changing world which President Obama asked us to embrace but the challenges of restoring our economy to the greatest in the World.  For a nation which has faced an unprecedented recession, the President challenges us to identify and make the "right" decisions as to how to restore our Nation's economy.  “We have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in,” he said in the text of the speech released by the White House. “That is not sustainable.”

President Obama said:
I recognize that some in this Chamber have already proposed deeper cuts, and I’m willing to eliminate whatever we can honestly afford to do without. But let’s make sure that we’re not doing it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens. And let’s make sure what we’re cutting is really excess weight. Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may feel like you’re flying high at first, but it won’t take long before you’ll feel the impact.
That challenge is particularly difficult in this time of recession.  More Americans have been impacted by this "great recession" than at any time since the Great Depression.  So the challenge is not simply to restore the economy but to protect those most vulnerable.  President Obama asked that we look out for our fellow man and make life better for all Americans.

President Obama spoke of the challenges facing our schools and our need to improve the quality of education for our children.  It is a daunting task but one that we can ill afford to ignore.  He outlined for us the challenges which we must overcome to make education in America great again and the steps which he has taken to right our path.

He spoke of our need to make math and science important again.  “We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time,” he said. “We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business.”

And in what President Obama does best, he spoke of the importance of recognizing that we are all Americans and that our differences are what make us great.  When speaking of our troops throughout the World he said:
Our troops come from every corner of this country – they are black, white, Latino, Asian and Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay. Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.
It is that challenge to "leave behind the divisive battles of the past" which makes his message so important today.  He reminded us: "Amid all the noise and passions and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater - something more consequential than party or political preference."

Prominent progressive economist James Galbraith praises Obama’s speech.

"Overall, this is a terrific thematic speech. It sets out important goals, for the most part in the right areas: research, technology, infrastructure, education, jobs. The priority for clean energy is clear (though if the word "conservation" is mentioned, I missed it.) It speaks broadly of health care cost control, not narrowly of cuts to Medicare. It appears to support, or at least does not contradict, the emerging bipartisan consensus that Social Security benefits should not be cut. The weasel-word "entitlements" does not appear. It lends a word of support to some of the nation's most embattled public-sector employees - teachers. It is compassionate and sensible on immigrants and immigration. It defends the vital role of regulation in a market system. It does not waste many words on the deficit or the national debt or the fiscal commission."
It is a call to arms and challenge for all of us to find our commonality and discard our petty differences.  "We will move forward together or not at all."

In a time when there is so much discontent in the Country, it is President Obama's challenge to us to stand united that is his most important message.  Together we are far greater than any one of us.

So, accept his challenge of hope.  Accept his challenge of innovation.  Accept his challenge of humility.  Accept his challenge of One Nation, Indivisible and With Justice For All.  President Obama summed it up best:
"Amid all the noise and passions and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater - something more consequential than party or political preference."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What Did The Vatican Know?

The Vatican has long said that it was unaware of the multitude of child-abuse scandals which have now been reported against the Church.

Now, according to a 1997 letter, the Vatican warned Catholic bishops in Ireland NOT to report suspected cases of child abuse to police.

That is tantamount to condoning and allowing child-abuse.

The letter was "obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press." We're sure the Vatican is overjoyed to hear that AP is in possession of such a document.

Pope John Paul II's Ireland diplomat Archbishop Luciano Storero signed the letter himself, and warned Irish bishops that their policy of "making the reporting of suspected crimes mandatory 'gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature.' "

This was all under Pope John Paul II - who is now supposed to be on his way to Sainthood.  Sounds like a Saint to you?

Here's what director of the Irish chapter of Amnesty International Colm O'Gorman had to say about the letter:

"The letter is of huge international significance, because it shows that the Vatican's intention is to prevent reporting of abuse to criminal authorities. And if that instruction applied here, it applied everywhere."
Thus far, the Vatican has declined to comment.  Of course no comment.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Barack Obama's Inspirational Evocation

As we all now know, the past four days may be regarded as one of the worst of times in recent memory for our Country.

For some as yet not well-understood reason, a young man shot down nineteen people. He would have shot more but bystanders stopped the killer before he could reload (they are true heroes). The attacked included a vivacious young congresswoman who is now fighting for her life in a Tucson, Arizona, hospital.

Perhaps what has followed in this tragedy will come to define us more than the attack. Almost immediately, the "blame-game" began - a "National Conversation" which descended into an often nasty tit for tat from opposite ends of the liberal-conservative continuum.

Into this calamitous downdraft stepped the president of the United States, one Barack Obama.

In perhaps one of the moments which will define his Presidency, President Obama gave to a grieving and confused Nation a richly crafted, flawlessly delivered and truly inspiring address.

President Obama spoke of hope - the hope of those 13 that are struggling to survive. He called upon each of us for healing and talking amongst each other in a way that heals and does not wound. Citing Scripture, President Obama called out to us asking that we not attempt to explain the inexplicable by assigning blame.

And, while agreeing that we should seek "to lessen the prospects of violence in the future," he insisted that "what we can't do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other" and instead focus upon our similarities rather than our differences. He spoke of humility and the need for kindness and compassion - making the lives of other people better.

He spoke of many of those victims and how they were making a difference in our lives and what sacrifices they made. How Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' "Congress on Your Corner" events were "an updated version of government of and by and for the people." How Dorwin Stoddard's "final act of selflessness was to dive on top of his wife, sacrificing his life for hers." He announced that Representative Giffords had just opened her eyes for the first time.

And, in what was a truly inspiring moment, President Obama invoked Christina Green's innocent enthusiasm, when he declared, "I want to live up to her expectations. ... I want America to be as good as she imagined it."

That is a message of hope, compassion and humility by which all Americans should live.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Shameless - A New Show On Showtime That Delivers - A Must Watch

Shameless on Showtime!

Acclaimed Emmy® Award-winning television and film producer John Wells (ER, THE WEST WING, SOUTHLAND, THIRD WATCH, FAR FROM HEAVEN, SHOWTIME's AN AMERICAN CRIME) debuted SHAMELESS (based on the long running British series) on Sunday night on Showtime starring Emmy® Award-winner and Oscar®-nominee William H. Macy (Door to Door, Fargo, Pleasantville, The Cooler).

The series is now set in Chicago's West Side Homan Square neighborhood and follows the dysfunctional family of Frank Gallagher, a single father of six children. While he spends his days drunk, his kids learn to take care of themselves. William H. Macy stars in the lead role as Frank Gallagher.

In this new version of Shameless, the sprawling Gallagher family has been transplanted to working class Chicago during the challenging times of today's recession. And the Gallaghers have no lack of challenges with a mother who is AWOL and an alcoholic patriarch -- played by Macy -- who usually ends up passed out on the living room floor. 18-year-old daughter Fiona is left to the task of keeping her five younger brothers and sisters on the straight and narrow, a task that usually proves impossible.  

Just take a peak at the Trailer and you may be hooked,  Appears you will not be alone.  According to the LA Times:
'It may have divided the critics, but in the ratings "Shameless" scored another win for Showtime's programming strategy of banking on antihero star vehicles.
The drama, an Americanized version of a British series, stars William H. Macy as an abusive, substance-abusing father. It delivered 982,000 total viewers, according to the Nielsen Co. — the pay-cable network's biggest drama premiere in seven years, since "Dead Like Me" scored 1.1 million.


I like how with all their differences, the Gallaghers love each other so much as a family.  As messed up as things seem they are a family with so much heart and fun.  They are a family I would want to be a part of.  They show you a family where each of them would do anything for the other; but, yet, they are all survivalists who are so hip and still know how to have fun.

I thought it was brilliant how they show booze, pot and drugs are humans coping devices.  Rather than simply vilify or glorify the use of booze, pot and drugs, they show it with all of its very human complexities.  They show people just trying to get by and find a way to be happy.  In a society that uses so many prescription pills to solve every malady (real or imagined), is it so hard to see that people might seek out booze, pot or drugs as a means of self-medication? 

The older sister (Emmy Rossum as Fiona Gallagher) is a very talented actor.  Her complex and multi-layered performance is mind blowing.  I enjoyed the twist when it turned out that her seemingly "perfect" new boyfriend was really a bad ass car thief.  I thought her portrayal of how she is afraid to be hurt but yet so wants love is acted superbly.

I found it intriguing how they are taking on issues of Muslims and religious people who are just trapped in some different culture they learned simply because they were born into it, and that we are all really the same inside - usually just doing something because it was passed down through family.  No different than say Catholics.  I enjoyed how the Gallaghers seemed free of any defined religion.

The story line between two of the older brothers is especially poignant (Jeremy Allen White as Phillip "Lip" Gallagher and Cameron Monaghan as Ian Gallagher).  I loved seeing the brothers be real brothers - loving each other and being buddies despite their differences.  As it turns out, one of the brothers may be gay, brilliantly played by Cameron Monaghan.  I love how the gay kid is not a stereo typical representation of gay.

And what a multifaceted character Cameron, as Ian 17, gets to play.  Ian is the only member of the family with a steady job.  Cameron said that he wasn't afraid to take on the role of gay teen Ian Gallagher in Showtime's "Shameless."  "I'm always happy to represent the gay community, especially with a really strong, realistic role like Ian," the 17-year-old TV and film veteran said, "so no qualms really."

In Sunday's series premiere, his older brother, Lip (Jeremy Allen White), discovers that Ian is gay and having an affair with his married boss, Kash. In a series of honest, touching and funny scenes, the tight-knit brothers clash before Lip eventually comes to terms with his brother's sexuality and Ian learns that he could have trusted Lip with his secret all along.

What a great message for our times! 

Joan Cusack is hysterical as the nutty mother of the cool high school girl who likes to give blow jobs while tutoring. The scene where the mother offers the kids cocktails like an "easy screw" or "slow gin" was the funniest scene I have seen in years.

And the Gallaghers' neighbors, Shanola Hampton as Veronica and Steve Howey as Kev, are amazing.  Kev and Veronica have a crazy hot sex life and he's totally into her, as long as she's not implying that he's stupid.

Watch and you may be shamed less!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Did Sarah Palin Cause The Death of 5 People in Arizona?

(CNN) reports -- A federal judge was killed and a congresswoman gravely wounded Saturday in a shooting outside of a Tucson, Arizona, grocery store, according to police and government officials.

In all, six people died and 12 were wounded in the shooting, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, according to Rick Kastigar, bureau chief for the Pima County Sheriff's Department

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head Saturday and an unknown number of others were wounded when an assailant opened fire in an area where the lawmaker was meeting with constituents, officials said.
University Medical Center says that at least four are dead.  Sources tell MSNBC that a semiautomatic weapon was used in the shooting.

You ask how might Sarah Palin be involved?

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona appeared on a map of House Democrats "targeted" by Palin in 2010.  You remember, Sarah's HIT LIST - BULL'S EYE.

The map controversially used actual target markers on locations these Democrats lived and listed their names.

Here is Sarah's HIT LIST:

What is Ms. Palin's response?

Palin writes:

My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona.
On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.
- Sarah Palin
Her father Spencer Giffords, 75, wept when asked if his 40-year-old daughter had any enemies.

"Yeah," he told The Post. "The whole tea party."
So Sarah, YOU are in part to blame.  Hate begets hate. Sarah with your HIT LIST and your support of Assault Weapons (WHY DOES ANY AMERICAN NEED AN ASSAULT WEAPON?) you have encouraged and promoted violence.


Unless you immediately remove your "hit list" and renounce assault weapons, it is the same as if YOU, SARAH PALIN, shot and killed these people!

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Most Difficult Post I Have Ever Made - The Inhumanity of Man to Man

I read this story today at Huffington Post.  It is perhaps one of the most difficult stories I have ever decided to post.  It is a story of child abuse - never easy.  It is a story of deep depression - one that I have personally seen one of my best friends suffer and is still struggling to survive.  It is the story of religious intolerance - a story about which I write tirelessly.


Isn't religious intolerance the antithesis of what religion is suppose to be about?

You must read this story and pass it on!  We need to all understand how difficult "just getting by day to day" is for so many of us.

Bill Zeller, a Princeton Ph.D candidate and renowned Internet programmer, died Wednesday from injuries sustained in a suicide attempt. He was 27.

He was 27!!!!  He hasn't had a chance to experience life at all.  Nevertheless, Zeller was a programming whiz kid, responsible for creating applications such as Graph Your Inbox, which visualizes Gmail use over time, and myTunes, which enables users to download others' iTunes music. Zeller made the latter program while an undergraduate at Trinity College.

Zeller stunned the programming community with a 4,000-word suicide note detailing a childhood of physical and sexual abuse, which he had never before disclosed to anyone.

Sexual abuse and depression - crimes for which so many ignore or say "snap out of it!"

I dare you to read Bill's story and not find that the world can be a cold and cruel place.  Bill's story:
"I have the urge to declare my sanity and justify my actions, but I assume I'll never be able to convince anyone that this was the right decision. Maybe it's true that anyone who does this is insane by definition, but I can at least explain my reasoning. I considered not writing any of this because of how personal it is, but I like tying up loose ends and don't want people to wonder why I did this. Since I've never spoken to anyone about what happened to me, people would likely draw the wrong conclusions.
My first memories as a child are of being raped, repeatedly. This has affected every aspect of my life. This darkness, which is the only way I can describe it, has followed me like a fog, but at times intensified and overwhelmed me, usually triggered by a distinct situation. In kindergarten I couldn't use the bathroom and would stand petrified whenever I needed to, which started a trend of awkward and unexplained social behavior. The damage that was done to my body still prevents me from using the bathroom normally, but now it's less of a physical impediment than a daily reminder of what was done to me.
This darkness followed me as I grew up. I remember spending hours playing with legos, having my world consist of me and a box of cold, plastic blocks. Just waiting for everything to end. It's the same thing I do now, but instead of legos it's surfing the web or reading or listening to a baseball game. Most of my life has been spent feeling dead inside, waiting for my body to catch up.
At times growing up I would feel inconsolable rage, but I never connected this to what happened until puberty. I was able to keep the darkness at bay for a few hours at a time by doing things that required intense concentration, but it would always come back. Programming appealed to me for this reason. I was never particularly fond of computers or mathematically inclined, but the temporary peace it would provide was like a drug. But the darkness always returned and built up something like a tolerance, because programming has become less and less of a refuge.
The darkness is with me nearly every time I wake up. I feel like a grime is covering me. I feel like I'm trapped in a contimated body that no amount of washing will clean. Whenever I think about what happened I feel manic and itchy and can't concentrate on anything else. It manifests itself in hours of eating or staying up for days at a time or sleeping for sixteen hours straight or week long programming binges or constantly going to the gym. I'm exhausted from feeling like this every hour of every day.
Three to four nights a week I have nightmares about what happened. It makes me avoid sleep and constantly tired, because sleeping with what feels like hours of nightmares is not restful. I wake up sweaty and furious. I'm reminded every morning of what was done to me and the control it has over my life.
I've never been able to stop thinking about what happened to me and this hampered my social interactions. I would be angry and lost in thought and then be interrupted by someone saying "Hi" or making small talk, unable to understand why I seemed cold and distant. I walked around, viewing the outside world from a distant portal behind my eyes, unable to perform normal human niceties. I wondered what it would be like to take to other people without what happened constantly on my mind, and I wondered if other people had similar experiences that they were better able to mask.
Alcohol was also something that let me escape the darkness. It would always find me later, though, and it was always angry that I managed to escape and it made me pay. Many of the irresponsible things I did were the result of the darkness. Obviously I'm responsible for every decision and action, including this one, but there are reasons why things happen the way they do.
Alcohol and other drugs provided a way to ignore the realities of my situation. It was easy to spend the night drinking and forget that I had no future to look forward to. I never liked what alcohol did to me, but it was better than facing my existence honestly. I haven't touched alcohol or any other drug in over seven months (and no drugs or alcohol will be involved when I do this) and this has forced me to evaluate my life in an honest and clear way. There's no future here. The darkness will always be with me.
I used to think if I solved some problem or achieved some goal, maybe he would leave. It was comforting to identify tangible issues as the source of my problems instead of something that I'll never be able to change. I thought that if I got into to a good college, or a good grad school, or lost weight, or went to the gym nearly every day for a year, or created programs that millions of people used, or spent a summer or California or New York or published papers that I was proud of, then maybe I would feel some peace and not be constantly haunted and unhappy. But nothing I did made a dent in how depressed I was on a daily basis and nothing was in any way fulfilling. I'm not sure why I ever thought that would change anything.
I didn't realize how deep a hold he had on me and my life until my first relationship. I stupidly assumed that no matter how the darkness affected me personally, my romantic relationships would somehow be separated and protected. Growing up I viewed my future relationships as a possible escape from this thing that haunts me every day, but I began to realize how entangled it was with every aspect of my life and how it is never going to release me. Instead of being an escape, relationships and romantic contact with other people only intensified everything about him that I couldn't stand. I will never be able to have a relationship in which he is not the focus, affecting every aspect of my romantic interactions.
Relationships always started out fine and I'd be able to ignore him for a few weeks. But as we got closer emotionally the darkness would return and every night it'd be me, her and the darkness in a black and gruesome threesome. He would surround me and penetrate me and the more we did the more intense it became. It made me hate being touched, because as long as we were separated I could view her like an outsider viewing something good and kind and untainted. Once we touched, the darkness would envelope her too and take her over and the evil inside me would surround her. I always felt like I was infecting anyone I was with.
Relationships didn't work. No one I dated was the right match, and I thought that maybe if I found the right person it would overwhelm him. Part of me knew that finding the right person wouldn't help, so I became interested in girls who obviously had no interest in me. For a while I thought I was gay. I convinced myself that it wasn't the darkness at all, but rather my orientation, because this would give me control over why things didn't feel "right". The fact that the darkness affected sexual matters most intensely made this idea make some sense and I convinced myself of this for a number of years, starting in college after my first relationship ended. I told people I was gay (at Trinity, not at Princeton), even though I wasn't attracted to men and kept finding myself interested in girls. Because if being gay wasn't the answer, then what was? People thought I was avoiding my orientation, but I was actually avoiding the truth, which is that while I'm straight, I will never be content with anyone. I know now that the darkness will never leave.
Last spring I met someone who was unlike anyone else I'd ever met. Someone who showed me just how well two people could get along and how much I could care about another human being. Someone I know I could be with and love for the rest of my life, if I weren't so fucked up. Amazingly, she liked me. She liked the shell of the man the darkness had left behind. But it didn't matter because I couldn't be alone with her. It was never just the two of us, it was always the three of us: her, me and the darkness. The closer we got, the more intensely I'd feel the darkness, like some evil mirror of my emotions. All the closeness we had and I loved was complemented by agony that I couldn't stand, from him. I realized that I would never be able to give her, or anyone, all of me or only me. She could never have me without the darkness and evil inside me. I could never have just her, without the darkness being a part of all of our interactions. I will never be able to be at peace or content or in a healthy relationship. I realized the futility of the romantic part of my life. If I had never met her, I would have realized this as soon as I met someone else who I meshed similarly well with. It's likely that things wouldn't have worked out with her and we would have broken up (with our relationship ending, like the majority of relationships do) even if I didn't have this problem, since we only dated for a short time. But I will face exactly the same problems with the darkness with anyone else. Despite my hopes, love and compatability is not enough. Nothing is enough. There's no way I can fix this or even push the darkness down far enough to make a relationship or any type of intimacy feasible.
So I watched as things fell apart between us. I had put an explicit time limit on our relationship, since I knew it couldn't last because of the darkness and didn't want to hold her back, and this caused a variety of problems. She was put in an unnatural situation that she never should have been a part of. It must have been very hard for her, not knowing what was actually going on with me, but this is not something I've ever been able to talk about with anyone. Losing her was very hard for me as well. Not because of her (I got over our relationship relatively quickly), but because of the realization that I would never have another relationship and because it signified the last true, exclusive personal connection I could ever have. This wasn't apparent to other people, because I could never talk about the real reasons for my sadness. I was very sad in the summer and fall, but it was not because of her, it was because I will never escape the darkness with anyone. She was so loving and kind to me and gave me everything I could have asked for under the circumstances. I'll never forget how much happiness she brought me in those briefs moments when I could ignore the darkness. I had originally planned to kill myself last winter but never got around to it. (Parts of this letter were written over a year ago, other parts days before doing this.) It was wrong of me to involve myself in her life if this were a possibility and I should have just left her alone, even though we only dated for a few months and things ended a long time ago. She's just one more person in a long list of people I've hurt.
I could spend pages talking about the other relationships I've had that were ruined because of my problems and my confusion related to the darkness. I've hurt so many great people because of who I am and my inability to experience what needs to be experienced. All I can say is that I tried to be honest with people about what I thought was true.
I've spent my life hurting people. Today will be the last time.
I've told different people a lot of things, but I've never told anyone about what happened to me, ever, for obvious reasons. It took me a while to realize that no matter how close you are to someone or how much they claim to love you, people simply cannot keep secrets. I learned this a few years ago when I thought I was gay and told people. The more harmful the secret, the juicier the gossip and the more likely you are to be betrayed. People don't care about their word or what they've promised, they just do whatever the fuck they want and justify it later. It feels incredibly lonely to realize you can never share something with someone and have it be between just the two of you. I don't blame anyone in particular, I guess it's just how people are. Even if I felt like this is something I could have shared, I have no interest in being part of a friendship or relationship where the other person views me as the damaged and contaminated person that I am. So even if I were able to trust someone, I probably would not have told them about what happened to me. At this point I simply don't care who knows.
I feel an evil inside me. An evil that makes me want to end life. I need to stop this. I need to make sure I don't kill someone, which is not something that can be easily undone. I don't know if this is related to what happened to me or something different. I recognize the irony of killing myself to prevent myself from killing someone else, but this decision should indicate what I'm capable of.
So I've realized I will never escape the darkness or misery associated with it and I have a responsibility to stop myself from physically harming others.
I'm just a broken, miserable shell of a human being. Being molested has defined me as a person and shaped me as a human being and it has made me the monster I am and there's nothing I can do to escape it. I don't know any other existence. I don't know what life feels like where I'm apart from any of this. I actively despise the person I am. I just feel fundamentally broken, almost non-human. I feel like an animal that woke up one day in a human body, trying to make sense of a foreign world, living among creatures it doesn't understand and can't connect with.
I have accepted that the darkness will never allow me to be in a relationship. I will never go to sleep with someone in my arms, feeling the comfort of their hands around me. I will never know what uncontimated intimacy is like. I will never have an exclusive bond with someone, someone who can be the recipient of all the love I have to give. I will never have children, and I wanted to be a father so badly. I think I would have made a good dad. And even if I had fought through the darkness and married and had children all while being unable to feel intimacy, I could have never done that if suicide were a possibility. I did try to minimize pain, although I know that this decision will hurt many of you. If this hurts you, I hope that you can at least forget about me quickly.
There's no point in identifying who molested me, so I'm just going to leave it at that. I doubt the word of a dead guy with no evidence about something that happened over twenty years ago would have much sway.
You may wonder why I didn't just talk to a professional about this. I've seen a number of doctors since I was a teenager to talk about other issues and I'm positive that another doctor would not have helped. I was never given one piece of actionable advice, ever. More than a few spent a large part of the session reading their notes to remember who I was. And I have no interest in talking about being raped as a child, both because I know it wouldn't help and because I have no confidence it would remain secret. I know the legal and practical limits of doctor/patient confidentiality, growing up in a house where we'd hear stories about the various mental illnesses of famous people, stories that were passed down through generations. All it takes is one doctor who thinks my story is interesting enough to share or a doctor who thinks it's her right or responsibility to contact the authorities and have me identify the molestor (justifying her decision by telling herself that someone else might be in danger). All it takes is a single doctor who violates my trust, just like the "friends" who I told I was gay did, and everything would be made public and I'd be forced to live in a world where people would know how fucked up I am. And yes, I realize this indicates that I have severe trust issues, but they're based on a large number of experiences with people who have shown a profound disrepect for their word and the privacy of others.
People say suicide is selfish. I think it's selfish to ask people to continue living painful and miserable lives, just so you possibly won't feel sad for a week or two. Suicide may be a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but it's also a permanent solution to a ~23 year-old problem that grows more intense and overwhelming every day.
Some people are just dealt bad hands in this life. I know many people have it worse than I do, and maybe I'm just not a strong person, but I really did try to deal with this. I've tried to deal with this every day for the last 23 years and I just can't fucking take it anymore.
I often wonder what life must be like for other people. People who can feel the love from others and give it back unadulterated, people who can experience sex as an intimate and joyous experience, people who can experience the colors and happenings of this world without constant misery. I wonder who I'd be if things had been different or if I were a stronger person. It sounds pretty great.
I'm prepared for death. I'm prepared for the pain and I am ready to no longer exist. Thanks to the strictness of New Jersey gun laws this will probably be much more painful than it needs to be, but what can you do. My only fear at this point is messing something up and surviving.
I'd also like to address my family, if you can call them that. I despise everything they stand for and I truly hate them, in a non-emotional, dispassionate and what I believe is a healthy way. The world will be a better place when they're dead--one with less hatred and intolerance.
If you're unfamiliar with the situation, my parents are fundamentalist Christians who kicked me out of their house and cut me off financially when I was 19 because I refused to attend seven hours of church a week.
They live in a black and white reality they've constructed for themselves. They partition the world into good and evil and survive by hating everything they fear or misunderstand and calling it love. They don't understand that good and decent people exist all around us, "saved" or not, and that evil and cruel people occupy a large percentage of their church. They take advantage of people looking for hope by teaching them to practice the same hatred they practice.
A random example:
"I am personally convinced that if a Muslim truly believes and obeys the Koran, he will be a terrorist." - George Zeller, August 24, 2010.
If you choose to follow a religion where, for example, devout Catholics who are trying to be good people are all going to Hell but child molestors go to Heaven (as long as they were "saved" at some point), that's your choice, but it's fucked up. Maybe a God who operates by those rules does exist. If so, fuck Him.
Their church was always more important than the members of their family and they happily sacrificed whatever necessary in order to satisfy their contrived beliefs about who they should be.
I grew up in a house where love was proxied through a God I could never believe in. A house where the love of music with any sort of a beat was literally beaten out of me. A house full of hatred and intolerance, run by two people who were experts at appearing kind and warm when others were around. Parents who tell an eight year old that his grandmother is going to Hell because she's Catholic. Parents who claim not to be racist but then talk about the horrors of miscegenation. I could list hundreds of other examples, but it's tiring.
Since being kicked out, I've interacted with them in relatively normal ways. I talk to them on the phone like nothing happened. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I like pretending I have a family. Maybe I like having people I can talk to about what's been going on in my life. Whatever the reason, it's not real and it feels like a sham. I should have never allowed this reconnection to happen.
I wrote the above a while ago, and I do feel like that much of the time. At other times, though, I feel less hateful. I know my parents honestly believe the crap they believe in. I know that my mom, at least, loved me very much and tried her best. One reason I put this off for so long is because I know how much pain it will cause her. She has been sad since she found out I wasn't "saved", since she believes I'm going to Hell, which is not a sadness for which I am responsible. That was never going to change, and presumably she believes the state of my physical body is much less important than the state of my soul. Still, I cannot intellectually justify this decision, knowing how much it will hurt her. Maybe my ability to take my own life, knowing how much pain it will cause, shows that I am a monster who doesn't deserve to live. All I know is that I can't deal with this pain any longer and I'm am truly sorry I couldn't wait until my family and everyone I knew died so this could be done without hurting anyone. For years I've wished that I'd be hit by a bus or die while saving a baby from drowning so my death might be more acceptable, but I was never so lucky.
To those of you who have shown me love, thank you for putting up with all my shittiness and moodiness and arbitrariness. I was never the person I wanted to be. Maybe without the darkness I would have been a better person, maybe not. I did try to be a good person, but I realize I never got very far.
I'm sorry for the pain this causes. I really do wish I had another option. I hope this letter explains why I needed to do this. If you can't understand this decision, I hope you can at least forgive me.
Bill Zeller
Please save this letter and repost it if gets deleted. I don't want people to wonder why I did this. I disseminated it more widely than I might have otherwise because I'm worried that my family might try to restrict access to it. I don't mind if this letter is made public. In fact, I'd prefer it be made public to people being unable to read it and drawing their own conclusions.
Feel free to republish this letter, but only if it is reproduced in its entirety."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Baby It"s Cold Outside"

Dean Martin had it right.  Baby It's Cold Outside.

America Could Face Coldest January in 25 Years

Some meteorologists are saying that the coming weeks could be the coldest January we've seen since 1985, with January 10-20 seeing the brunt of the freeze. New York City with highs in the teens!

Record-smashing cold already gripped a large portion of the West the first few days of the month with snow even falling in Las Vegas Monday. Bitter arctic air has also made a return to the northern Plains, while the East and South experienced a dramatic cooldown since the weekend.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Food Riots Next?

FAO Says Food Prices Surpass Record Highs Seen During 2007-2008 Bubble.

Some say I have too many negative stories.  Why do I carry so many stories which have negative implications?  Primarily because I see the main-stream media as skewing far too much on the side of "everything is ok and everything is getting better."

We as humans have an innate sense of optimism.  We want to believe that things are getting better.  We want to believe in the good of people.

So we have a natural tendency to want to read stories about things getting better.  We often view negative stories with suspicion or distrust.  I am simply saying we should apply the same standard to all stories we read and ask ourselves, based on our own experiences and what we see, "does this article make sense?"  "Are things really getting better?"

So with the main-stream media already telling you how great things are, I also like to play devil's advocate.  What else is going on in our World that we should know.

And that leads us to a new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization.

The last time food prices hit ridiculous levels, the immediate outcome was global food riots in places such as Haiti and Bangladesh. Which is why distributors of riot equipment in the world's poorest countries may be in for a bumper crop as the Food and Agriculture Organization has just announced that world food prices have just surpassed the previous record last seen in 2007-2008.

The report also notes that the increase in food costs will also hit developed economies, with companies from McDonald's to Kraft raising retail prices.

So while we may not have riots in the US, those people on the margin here at home, who barely are getting by, may find the going even tougher.
Support your local food banks and other charitable organizations serving the poor and hungry.  They may need it now more than ever.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Scalia: Women Don't Have Constitutional Protection Against Discrimination

Yes read that headline again -- Scalia: Women Don't Have Constitutional Protection Against Discrimination.

But it is not just women.  "In 1971, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that they were protected, in an opinion by the conservative then Chief Justice Warren Burger," Adam Cohen wrote in Time in September. "It is no small thing to talk about writing women out of equal protection -- or Jews, or Latinos or other groups who would lose their protection by the same logic. It is nice to think that legislatures would protect these minorities from oppression by the majority, but we have a very different country when the Constitution guarantees that it is so."

The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not protect against discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, according to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

What does that mean?  Marcia Greenberger, founder and co-president of the National Women's Law Center, called the justice's comments "shocking" and said he was essentially saying that if the government sanctions discrimination against women, the judiciary offers no recourse.   Greenberger said that under Scalia's doctrine, women could be legally barred from juries, paid less by the government, receive fewer benefits in the armed forces, and be excluded from state-run schools -- all things that have happened in the past, before their rights to equal protection were enforced.

And not just women remember.  Jews, Latinos, homosexuals, the disabled.  All shit out of luck with Scalia.  Unless of course, we make laws to prohibit that discrimination (you can't just rely on the Constitution.  No we would need the majority to decide women need protection.  That the disabled need protections.

Too bad for women.  Just ask Brett Farve if women need protection.