Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Architecture Wednesday: Red Pepper House

From above it looks like a small mountain on a remote island in the middle of the sea.

From the ground it's a luxurious vacation rental in Lamu, Kenya, on an eight-acre plot surrounded by an acacia forest.

The organic shape, with its soft curves and high roof peaks, are created through the use of makuti roof covers over a platform that houses different cube-shaped, coral stone buildings and open-air rooms.

It's indoors, while it's outdoors, and its steps from the beach and a world away from anyone else.

Children ... There Is Hope In Children

A teacher in England, who just happens to be gay, was speaking to his class as a part of the school’s anti-bullying week, and asked his students if any of them had ever heard the word ‘gay’ used as an insult.

Nearly every student raised their hand.

Then he asked who thought that people who were gay or lesbian were bad or wrong in some way.

Again almost every hand went up.

He spoke to the head of the school, and they both agreed that he could, and should, tell his class that he was gay so that they all knew at least one gay person and then begin to stop using that word, and ask others to stop, because when they did they were talking about their teacher.

His students’ reaction was as expected: some gasps, some shocked looks, some questions — Do you have a boyfriend — and then it was over and back to business as usual.

Then he got “the” letter from one of his students, a nine-year old girl:
Dear Mr R
Even though you’re gay, I will always treat you the same way as I do now. I still think about you the same way as I used to. You’re a great teacher and these are just some of the word’s that I would describe you as: great, amazing, fantastic, brilliant, awesome and brave.
The reason why I say brave is because you shared a personal secret which was very brave.
You don’t have to feel scared because I know that everyone in the class feels the same way as I do.
From A x x
He read it, and then wiped the tears from his eyes and thanked her for it. She said something that one of the boys in class had said during the anti-bullying lesson before going back to her seat:
‘It’s just your life.’
Children. There is hope in the children.

Out Of Grief, Comes Hope

Matthew Ogston and Nazim [Naz] Mahmood were a couple, and, in fact were engaged to be married. But Naz needed to do one thing before the wedding: come out to his Muslim mother.

So he met with her, and told her he was happy, that he was in love, that he’d met someone and was to be married; then he told he was gay. Naz’ mother told him he needed to seek a cure, and a few days later he swallowed a handful of pulls and leapt to his death from the balcony of his home.

Now, his fiancé, Matthew, could have blamed the mother for her words; he could have sent his time wallowing in self-pity, grieving constantly about the man he loved who is no longer there, but he had a different plan.

He has created the Naz and Matt Foundation, a group that will support LGBT people struggling with religion and their sexuality.
“With the Naz and Matt Foundation, I’d like to continue that, to provide a support network and place to go for individuals struggling with their sexuality, and trying to come out. It’s one of the hardest things for people from religious backgrounds to overcome if they aren’t going to find acceptance in their community. The Naz and Matt Foundation is not particularly aimed at any religion. It’s aimed at communities that are very closed in their perception. There’s a lack of understanding.” — Matthew Ogston
Ogston has plans to engage with LGBT people, their family and friends in religious communities – and is even planning to release an illustrated children’s book that advocates a tolerant, accepting message.

Ogston recalls one of the last conversations he had with Naz, after Naz had come out to his mother:
“[Naz] asked ‘why do I need to find a cure, there’s nothing wrong with me, I’m just a good person trying to live a good life.’”
Too bad his mother, and her faith, couldn’t see that in her own son, but good that, out of Matthew’s grief, he has created a way for others struggling with their sexual orientation, their family, and their faith, have a place to go for answers, for help, for tolerance, for acceptance.

For family.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The "Don't Jerk And Drive" Ad Has Been Yanked

Okay, so we all know you should never drink and drive; and we’ve all seen the ads out now that say you shouldn’t text and drive. But, out there in South Dakota, they apparently had a different kinda problem with driving and so they created a … wait for it … it’s amazing … Don’t Jerk and Drive campaign.

And so they pulled … for lack of a better word, or at least a more punny word … the ad because, well, masturbation.

Here’s the statement from Trevor Jones, Secretary, S.D. Dept. Of Public Safety [DPS]:
I decided to pull the ad. This is an important safety message and I don't want this innuendo to distract from our goal to save lives on the road.
Innuendo? Is that code for something else South Dakotans are doing on the road when they aren’t jerking?

The PSAs, which appeared on billboards around the state, were supposed to "grab the attention of drivers" about the dangers of navigating snowy roads. The Office of Highway Safety took a whack at double entendre to spark interest in the campaign, but it rubbed a lot of folks the wrong way, and so the ad was yanked.

Just like you wouldn’t want young male drivers to “adjust the antenna” while driving.

Just like you wouldn’t want young male drivers to “blow their own horn” while driving.

Just like you wouldn’t want young male drivers to “clean their rifle” while driving.

A stroke of genius, I might add.

Congressman Mike Verchio, a Republican who chairs the House Transportation Committee, said he heard from several citizens who were upset about the ad … especially the social media hashtag #DontJerkAndDrive.

Ya think?

More than 16,000 people saw the campaign on Twitter in its first week, and page views at the DPS's Facebook page jumped to over 30,000 since the campaign launched, outperforming previous public safety campaigns 25 to 1.

Cuz, you know, the whole jerking thing.

So the ad was pulled, and pulled and pulled from every single site it was on. You'd think South Dakotans would be against "choking the chicken" while driving, but it appears they are far more open-minded than previously thought. 

So the ad is gone; no more sticky PR mess to clean up.

The Kids On A Sunny Day

We had some sun yesterday so all the kids gathered in the sunroom to stay warm, and to sleep.

Clockwise from the top left: The Amazing Tuxedo, the Diva Miss Consuelo Roca Jones, the Pocket Dog, Ozzo, and MaxGoldberg, of the Boca Raton Goldbergs.

SC Taxpayers Billed For Both Sides Of The Same-Sex Marriage Fight

I’ve often claimed that, down here in South Carolina, it’s not the heat, but the stupidity that’ll get you, and, well, my point has been proven yet again.

As has been happening around the good old US of A lately, when a state's same-sex marriage ban is ruled unconstitutional that state’s government officials unleash the hounds, er, lawyers, to defend the ban, to request stays and to file appeals

And those of us who live in those states, like South Carolina, get a little annoyed by that, because since our Attorney General Alan Wilson has refused to admit he’s lost, We The People of South Carolina, through our tax dollars, will pay for those appeals and the stays and the lawsuits. But, what many don’t realize is that it is not just the defense case the taxpayers will fund; we may also be responsible for the legal bills of the gay couples who successfully challenged South Carolina’s marriage ban.

See, federal law requires the losing party in cases involving basic constitutional rights to pay the legal fees of the winning plaintiffs and South Carolina just got its first bill from the seven Charleston attorneys who successfully challenged the state's same-sex marriage ban. Those attorneys have filed a petition in federal court seeking $152,709 in attorneys’ fees, which, if they are successful, will be paid for by, ahem, We The People of South Carolina.

And, since Wilson has vowed to continue defending South Carolina’s same-sex marriage laws in several other cases in both of the state’s federal district courts, those plaintiff's lawyers can ask to be reimbursed for their costs as well. And when Wilson loses those cases, all the way to the Supreme Court if he gets his way, We The People of South Carolina might be on the hook for those costs, too.

Yup, we’re paying to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and we’re paying to have the ban declared unconstitutional; we pay both sides.

But, and this is where I forget about how stupid some in South Carolina can be and a great big grin spreads across my face, any monies these seven attorneys are awarded will not be accepted by them; instead, they have announced plans to donate their fees to the LGBT rights groups that hired them to sue the state, including Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the South Carolina Equality Coalition.

So, and this is where I smile, because I imagine this will irk Alan Wilson even more, the harder he fights to keep the ban in place, the more money it costs the people of South Carolina, and the more money gets donated to LGBT groups in the state.

Hmmm, maybe not so stupid after all?
via NCRM

Monday, December 15, 2014

PFOX: Liars and Asshats

Gay? Are we born that way, or do we choose it?

Well, PFOX [Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays] an anti-gay organization that wants y’all to believe that The Gays chose The Gay is trying real hard again to make their point. This time they’ve erected a billboard along I-95 in Virginia to share their, um, Christmas message:
"Identical twins: One gay, one not. Nobody is born gay."
So says one Regina Griggs, Executive Director of PFOX, who adds:
"Identical twins have the same genes or DNA. If homosexuality is caused by genetics or prenatal conditions and one twin is gay, the co-twin should also be gay…Because identical twins are always genetically identical, homosexuality cannot be genetically dictated. No one is born gay."
Hmmm, that makes sense, you know, until you actually read up on the science of genetics and identical twins, as was done by Scientific American in 2008, where they learned that identical twins are rarely completely the same, such as not having the same fingerprints or even the same IQ levels. Now, if there is some genetic marker that makes one twin gay, maybe that other twin, no matter how identical, wasn’t lucky enough to get it.

And the good folks at PFOX have some IQ issues all their own, or at least some ethical issues, because, you see, the twins in the picture are not twins. It’s two pictures of the same young man, Kyle Roux, a South African model who is not a twin, but is most definitely gay, and wants PFOX to know that:.
"It just seems like there no place in today's world for an organization that is promoting this as being some kind of deviant or distasteful lifestyle, because I've lived my life openly gay and happy for my entire life. It's actually quite a big thing that there is this kind of discrimination and borderline hate speech going on, you know.” — Kyle Roux
Let me make this queer to all those anti-gay hate groups: if you believe in your rubbish, all well and good, if that’s how you choose to live your life. But don’t make up lies and put ‘em on a sign for all the world to see. It makes you look stupid and hateful and just plain pathetic.

Why would you choose that?
via NCRM

WTF? Hilary Swank ... Again

Hilary Swank has a new movie out, and wants another Oscar, so she's been hitting the red carpet and hitting it hard. And making it to WTF twice this season.

Unfortunately, less notice is given to her film role and more attention is given to her choice in fashion.

I mean, this mullet dress looks like a Rockettes cast-off. It makes her look long-waisted, or she's actually seven-feet tall. And the black band at the waist looks like one of those braces my FedEx guy wears when he delivers his big package; yeah, I went there.

I do like the shoes, and I like the hair ... if she was in a yoga class.

It's a shame, though, because back in the day, Hilary would look like this at an event ...

I want that Hilary back.

Today In Christian Love: Beaten For Being Gay

Matthew Fenner joined the Word of Faith Fellowship church in Spindale, North Carolina when he was just sixteen; by age twenty-one, he’d left the church, after claiming he was beaten, strangled, held captive by five church members, mentally, physically, and verbally abused because he’s gay.

For him, January 27, 2013, started off as just another prayer service, until parishioners began gathering around him.  They began to berate him because he was gay; one woman told him he was “disgusting.” This went on for two hours, with Fenner being pushed and beaten, and screamed at in a church ritual that some members believe was necessary to get Fenner to "break free of the homosexual 'demons.'"

Last week, five Word of Faith Fellowship church members — “Good Christians” Justin Brock Covington, Brooke McFadden Covington, Robert Louis Walker Jr., Adam Christopher Bartley and Sarah Covington Anderson — were indicted by the grand jury on charges of second degree kidnapping, simple assault and assault by strangulation; Sarah Covington Anderson was indicted on second degree kidnapping as well as simple assault and assault by strangulation.

In his affidavit to police, Fenner claims that, on at least three occasions, he was ganged up on and attacked, beaten, strangled, and demoralized for being gay. And he says that during that January 2013 assault, a group of church members, led by Sarah Covington Anderson, surrounded him, peppered him with questions about his sexual orientation, pushed him and screamed at him. It was then, he says that Sarah Covington Anderson grabbed him by the throat, punched him, and beat him. He says at least fifteen to twenty other “Christians” surrounded him while the beating took place.
“By this point, Sarah began to tell me how much she couldn’t stand to be around me and that I was disgusting because of my sexual orientation. I told her that I was sorry that I didn’t know what she wanted me to tell her and to which she then slapped me with a great amount of force across my left cheek. At this point I was really starting to get scared.” — Matthew Fenner
Matthew says he joined the church, with his mother and brother, at a time when he was questioning his sexual orientation; he says he decided to attend the church and its school because of his mother.
"My mom and I were always really close and I just thought maybe I can keep an open mind and see if it works — see if I can change. Obviously, that was really a stupid decision because you can't change who you are. But in my mind it seemed like the right thing to do." — Matthew Fenner
As a church member, he became a tutor, helping other students and going to services, but soon some of those “Christians” began to suspect Matthew was gay. It was then, after that January church service that he was attacked.

After he was released, and covered in bruises, Matthew raced home to his mother’s house; she refused to believe him, even though he’d clearly been beaten, and, in fact, both his mother and brother testified against him during the grand jury hearings.

Joshua Farmer, whose law firm is representing those five “Christians” calls the allegations “nonsense”:
“They are innocent of the charges leveled against them and we look forward to proving their innocence and to their complete vindication before a trial court. We are adamant that no one ever physically harmed Mr. Fenner… The church does NOT target members who are gay.”
But there are rumblings that this kind of behavior by church members — the shouting, screaming, physical abuse — is par for the course for Word of Faith Fellowship. The church, founded in 1979 by Sam and Jane Whaley, has, for years, been accused of enforcing extensive control over its congregation.

Former members say they were told by church leaders where to live and work, what to read, how to dress and when to have sex with their spouses. They say that Word of Faith practices "blasting," a form of hands-on, high-pitched, screaming prayer to drive demons from the bodies of parishioners like Matthew Fenner. In 2012, the church’s website stated, “Those who were once drug addicts, alcoholics, homosexuals, etc. are now delivered by the power of God and are living normal lives, serving God and doing his will.” Interestingly enough, since the allegations by Matthew Fenner, the statement has been edited to remove the word “homosexuals.”

Still, many LGBT groups have condemned Word of Faith after several young men — whose parents are church members — claimed they were abused because they are gay. In 2012, Michael Lowry made similar claims against the “church” which resulted in a Department of Justice investigation into the matter as a hate crime. Lowry later recanted his story and returned to the church, but today, he is once again out of the “church” and claiming he was manipulated by church members into recanting his story.

I’m always amazed by those in the far, far religious right, who rant and rave that the LGBT community is trying to strip them of their freedom of religion, and yet say absolutely nothing about the mental and physical abuse churches inflict on homosexual members. 

I’ve yet to see or hear of one instance where a gay group has kidnapped, beaten, verbally abused a member of any church to get them to renounce the demon of faith or come to “homosexuality”, but this kind of anti-gay behavior goes unpunished by so called “Good Christians” like, from left to right, below, Sarah Covington Anderson, Robert Louis Walker Jr., Justin Covington, Adam Bartley and Brooke Covington.

How Christ-like is that?