Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Architecture Wednesday: The Shipping Container House

This is the Shipping Container House, comprised of 31 21-foot shipping containers stacked three stories high to create a 6,000 square foot, four bedroom, four bathroom home.
Stretched over three levels it features an open plan first floor with kitchen, living and dining spaces, and three bedrooms on the second floor and the master bedroom taking the entire third level. There is a reading room--in my house we call that a bathroom, but in this house it's its own room; a rumpus room--it's been a while since I rumpused; a study, art study, home office, workshop, gym and a saltwater pool.
It's rustic, industrial, urban and chic, designed to incorporate the industrial look of the containers--graffiti and all--along with warm woods, interesting angles and soaring voids. 
I always wanted to be a hobo and sleep in a boxcar, but now as a homo, maybe I just need a boxcar house?

Who Do I Hafta F**k To Get This Job? Oh ... The American People

I have been thinking about looking for a new job — a difficult feat in our tiny town — that might be more conducive to my Lazy Man Aesthetic. I don’t mind working, but like most folks, I like my time off a bit more. But where to look … what to do … good pay … light work load … Congress!

I’ll run for Congress; even though the idea of a gay ex-Californian agnostic being elected to Congress from South Carolina is a stretch, I’m liking the $174,000 paycheck, the pension for life, the free health care, the travel perks and the vacation time.

See, from yesterday, July 29th, through November 12th, our overpaid, barely working US House of representative will work about 14 days; they will take the entire month of August off, work just eleven days in September, and just two days in October, and then not again until after November 12th after the elections! How can I get that schedule?

But then, while working that schedule, I’d also have to complain about the President not doing his job; I’d come up with that catchphrase, “Fundraiser in Chief” and talk about how many rounds of golf he’s played while the world crumbles around him. But, I’d be doing so while on vacation myself, working just 14 days out of the next 106 days.

And we owe this brilliant master schedule to soon-to-be-kicked-to-the-curb lapdog of John Boehner, Eric Cantor, who set this schedule after bragging about working even less days last year! Cantor even wrote on his little blog thingy that these few working days have “created certainty, increased efficiency and productivity in the committee process.”

Really? Cuz I still see nothing getting done. There will be no new jobs bill, no infrastructure bill, no minimum wage increase, no action on climate change, no immigration reform—even while they use that as a political wedge issue, and no equal pay for women. What they will do, every chance they get, is talk about impeaching the President and suing him because he’s trying to get things done without their help because they’re on vacation!

Seriously, people, is this what want … deserve … need … from our politicians? Is this what we expect? While a great many of us work full-time, some working two and three jobs, just to make ends meet, our elected officials who work for us are taking nearly four months off.

And it’s only getting worse. Last year the House worked 135 days — that’s 27 out of the 52 weeks each year; but they worked thirty five days off between July and November. Now they’re down to 14 days; what’s next? Not working at all? They’re on the fast-track toward that schedule because this year they have worked just 133 days; twenty-two weeks out of the year.

And for that they earn an average of $174,000 a year. Let’s do a little math, shall we? Take that $174,000 and divide it by the 133 days they’ve worked and you get $1,539.82 a day. How many of us wouldn’t sell our mothers for the chance to make $1,500 a day while getting four months a year vacation time?

And then they rail about President Obama taking 61 vacation days during his second term — two years and seven months — while the GOP House takes off 165 days in just four months.

Who do I have to f**k to get that job?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Wisconsin AG Van Hollen Outdoes Arizona In Marriage Argument

 Was it just this morning that I read about Arizona’s ludicrous argument against same-sex marriage saying it shouldn’t be legalized because it’s never been legalized?

Yeah, and I thought that was lame, until I stumbled upon Wisconsin’s attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen, who says that while the U.S. Constitution doesn’t require states to grant rights — such as the right of same-sex couples to marry — it does bar states from depriving citizens of fundamental rights —such as the right of same-sex couples to marry. So, Wisconsin is not required to allow Carlos and me the right to marry, but Wisconsin cannot deprive me of that right. Huh?

Van Hollen, arguing in a brief filed with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is appealing a federal judge’s decision that declared Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional saying the decision amounted to the creation of a new right of gay marriage, and that allows the feds more control in an area traditionally controlled by states.

Here’s the deal: it’s not a new right of same-sex marriage, because same-sex marriage is no different than opposite-sex marriage; it’s simply allowing same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples. Same-sex marriage will be no different than opposite-sex marriage … except it might be more fabulous.

But then Van Hollen put on his Fonzie leather jacket, went to Hollywood with the Cunninghams, and jumped the shark by comparing marriage equality to abortion:
“Although the constitutional right of privacy protects a woman’s right to obtain an abortion and precludes government from prohibiting or punishing her exercise of that right, there is no corresponding obligation on government to affirmatively endorse or support her exercise of the abortion right.”
My right to marry has absolutely nothing to do with a woman’s right to choose; an abortion is not a marriage, but I guess if you’re a Republican attorney general then it’s best to throw abortion into the mix to rile up the base.

Adding another argument to his case — because so far his reasons are lame and ridiculous — Van Hollen said that sexual orientation has not been declared a “suspect class” subject to heightened protection like gender or race so it doesn’t deserve the same kind of deference in equal protection claims.

But sexual orientation is just like gender and race in that it isn’t a choice; it just is, and should be treated the same.

And finally, because all the lame arguments were used up, Van Hollen went all Arizona on us and said that Wisconsin has historically defined marriage as between a man and a woman, and voters supported that in a 2006 amendment to the state constitution and so it should just stay the way it is.

So, he’s willing to let the people decide on the rights of others? That might be his undoing because the tide is changing and one day, unless, and when, Wisconsin’s marriage ban is overturned by the courts and the ruling stands, the good people of Wisconsin will realize that same-sex marriage hurts no one, but banning it hurts a great many people.

And for no good reason. 

Arizona's Ludicrous Argument Against Marriage Equality: "Because"

I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage equality these days … go figure … what with Carlos and I planning to tie the knot — and not around our necks — sooner rather than later, and with each week seeing yet another state diving into the equality pool … Hello Virginia … and with the idea of attending a meeting tomorrow night Katherine Bradacs and Tracie Goodwin, a lesbian couple who’ve filed a federal lawsuit challenging the South Carolina Defense of Marriage Law, and their attorneys to see how we, as a community, can get South Carolina moving forward.

It’s almost all I can think about, and, while I don’t agree with the arguments against marriage equality, I do listen to people who have a rational point of view about it; and I consider someone’s faith a rational POV. But, and this is a huge butt, a Kardastrophe-sized butt, if you will, my argument is plain and simple: you cannot use your religious faith to enact laws when we have, or at least should have, a very clear separation between religion and government. I can understand your faith saying marriage is one man and one woman and you can believe that all you want, but don’t push that belief on me, m’kay?

And then I read the argument in Arizona for fighting against same-sex marriage and, well, it’s just ludicrous.  The state's lawyers argue Arizona was never seeking to deny same-sex couples the right to marry, but that the state has always defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman and so that’s the way it should stay.

Well, if that’s the case, Arizona, why change laws allowing women the right to vote? Why change laws allowing interracial couples the right to marry? I mean, if you don’t change the laws because the laws have always been a certain way, then why change any law ever?

:::crickets:::

Caleb Dalton, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom — because freedom would be lost if The Gays can get married — says:
"If you look through the common law and the history of Arizona back to territorial days, marriage was a contract between a man and a woman. That's been the understood definition of marriage. The recent laws that the plaintiffs have challenged didn't change anything. They merely reaffirmed that definition."
Hmmm, so the law was always a man and a woman — remember though, a white man and white woman, or black man and black woman, but never ever mixed — then why the need to reaffirm the law? I mean, if the speed limit is 55 on the highway, do you pass a law to reaffirm that the speed limit is 55?

:::crickets:::

Those Alliance attorneys have set out their arguments like this:

• Arizona regulates marriage for the primary purpose of protecting relationships that would produce children and let those children grow up with a biological mother and father.

I say, if marriage is for the sole purpose of creating children then why are infertile couples allowed to marry? And why are couples who choose not to have children allowed to marry? And why doesn’t Arizona remove children from single-parent homes if the idea is to have children raised by a mom and dad?

:::crickets:::

• They argue that redefining marriage would cast doubt on the value of a mother and a father raising children, which undermines the state's interest in promoting stable homes.

If the state had such an interest in promoting stable homes then every single child in an abusive home would be removed at once and placed into a safe home. It doesn’t take a mother and a father to raise children, it takes a person, gay or straight, male or female, or a couple , gay or straight, who want to raise a child to ensure that child is raised and nurtured and loved.

• Changing marriage laws would weaken the institution rather than strengthen it.

There is no argument for this and just because you say it doesn’t make it true. My marriage — when it happens — will have no relationship to, or influence on, any other marriage.

So, let me make this queer for you Arizona; marriage has changed from the moment it began. It used to be the woman was property of man, so, um, is that how Arizona wants to play it? Or does Arizona want to play it that a man can have as many wives as he wants because marriage used to be like that, too? Maybe we should have arranged marriages, between families, to strengthen power and financial clout? Maybe we should go back to not allowing people to marry outside their faith? Their race?

See, it’s changed, a lot, since it began, because times have changed and opinions have changed, and people realize that love is love and what the hell difference does it make if Bob marries Carlos?

It doesn’t change marriage, it only makes marriage more meaningful to more people. It doesn’t hurt anyone else’s marriage because if it did, we’d have heard about that by now. It doesn’t cause locusts to swarm or hurricanes to smite cities or earthquakes to rumble.

It’s a simple case of ‘I do’ and just because you argue that your law has been one man and one woman since the olden days doesn’t mean the law shouldn’t change.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Marriage Equality Inches South ....

Earlier today a federal appeals court panel in Virginia became the second one this summer to strike down a state ban against same-sex marriage, making it more likely that the Supreme Court will settle the issue as early as next year.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond ruled 2-1 that gay men and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry that is paramount to state marriage laws:
"We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws."—Judge Henry Floyd
The circuit court has jurisdiction over Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina [emphasis mine]. The panel's decision will not take effect for at least 21 days while circuit clerks defending the state's ban decide whether to appeal to the full appellate court or the Supreme Court.

It’s getting closer, y’all!

UPDATE:
The latest news is that the Attorney General of North Carolina has now said he will no longer defend that state's marriage ban in light of the Virginia ruling!

UPDATE # 2
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson  says South Carolina’s gay marriage ban remains intact and he sees no need to change course because the U.S. Supreme Court will likely make the final decision about gay marriage.

South Carolina ... and Alan Wilson ... you disappoint me.

WTF? A Keira Knightley Two-Fer

Lotsa folks think Keira Knightley is one of the most beautiful women in the world, and while I might not agree 100%, she does have a certain something ....

That I call horrendous taste in fashion.

Look #1: Is her slip falling down? Do women still wear slips? Is this some kind of 21st century hoop-skirt-looking monstrosity? Or is it just an Epic Fail?

Look #2: Did a flock of seagulls take many a dump on this dress? And what's with the posture? That stoop-shouldered stance doesn't make this mess look any better and only reminds me that, in this look, Keira is a pirate's dream: sunken chest.

Just sayin'.

ISBL Asshat of the Week: Congressman Curt Clawson

We all know this has been a Do-Nothing Congress for the last, well, since Obama took office, but is it too much of a stretch to say that, while some members ‘do nothing’ other members ‘know nothing’?

Case in point, our nominee for this week’s ISBL Asshat of the Week. Florida Republican Congressman Curt Clawson; for the record, Clawson is the man who replaced Congressman Trey Radel who was arrested in a drug bust a few years back.

During a recent hearing at the Capital, Congressman Clawson was speaking to two U.S. government officials, Nisha Biswal and Arun Kumar, as though they were visitors from another country when, in fact, they hold senior positions at the U.S. State Department and Commerce Department:
“I am familiar with your country; I love your country, and I understand the complications of so many languages, and so many cultures, and so many histories, all rolled up in one. … Just as your capital is welcome here to produce good-paying jobs in the U.S., I’d like our capital to be welcome there. And there to be freedom of capital, and I ask cooperation and commitment and priority from your government in so doing. Can I have that?”
Remember, he is speaking to two Americans, but, apparently, because their names sound foreign and because they have brown skin, well, they must be foreigners. In fact, Arun Kumar, is alleged to have laughed openly at Clawson’s remarks — perhaps the “I am familiar with your country” remark — while  Nisha Biswal responded like this:
“I think your question is to the Indian government. We certainly share your sentiments. And we certainly will advocate that on behalf of the US.”
Stunned deeper into stupidity, Clawson muttered, “Of course. OK. Let’s see some progress.”
And then, following Clawson’s opening statement, Congressman Eliot Engel, the full panel’s ranking Democrat, noted that Biswal and Kumar work for the United States:
“Thank you both for your service to our country, it’s very much appreciated.”
Clawson, of course, as Republicans are apt to do when it comes out that they have no idea what they are saying, or even to whom they are speaking, later apologized:
“I made a mistake in speaking before being fully briefed and I apologize. I’m a quick study, but in this case I shot an air ball.”
Something to learn, say, before running for public office, might be knowing the men to whom you are speaking, and know the topic at hand before sitting down.

But, failing that, I guess, with a Do-Nothing Congress, and men like Clawson in office, maybe it’s a good thing they get nothing done, because just think of all the damage they could cause if they knew what was going on.

Curt Clawson, the ISBL Asshat of the Week.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

I Ain't One To Gossip But ....

Lotsa talk swirling around the web-o-sphere that, after their current On The Run [from Marriage] tour, Beyoncé and Jay-Z just might be headed toward a “conscious uncoupling” a la Goopy Paltrow or a “tender undoing” a la Jewel.

A source — and it’s probably Dina Lohan since Lindsay is across the pond and has her phone unplugged — says  Jay-Z has hired marriage counselors, plural, to travel with them on tour because, you know, on tour is the time to work on your marriage. And that same source says that after the tour Beyoncé will be taking all of Jay’s things out the house and dumping them on the street while she blasts “Single Lady” from the roof-tops. The source also says they stopped wearing their wedding rings a long time ago, and that Blue Ivy was a band-aid baby that didn’t take, and that it’s all over except ….

“They are trying to figure out a way to split without divorcing. This is a huge concert tour and they’ve already gotten most of the money from the promoters up front.”

Wow. Putting money before love. That’s love, in a Beyoncé/Jay Z world.
I was wrong last week when I said that Lindsay Lohan was at the Ischia Film Festival in Italy just to party and fall down, because it appears she went here for an altogether different reason: Lindsay won an award, y’all … no lie!.

Lohan was honored with the Ischia Comeback Award in acknowledgement of her role in the West End production of David Mamet’s play Speed-the-Plow and the award was given to her by Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis, whom she praised in her speech:

“Thank you, from someone so amazing as you are, and being a friend to me, and someone who I aspire to work with and that I’m lucky to have in life. So I appreciate that, I really do.  … Thank you for having me. Thank you, Pasquale. Five years before this I was in Capri with you, and a lot has happened since then, which I know and you know. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much. … It’s really lovely to be in a position like this and go through certain things in life that bring you back to a place where you can then just speed into the plows of the new depths of your life. I just wanna give my life my all, and I just wanna wish everyone the best. Thank you and God bless.”

A few points: how does someone win a “comeback” award for a project that hasn’t even been realized yet? She hasn’t come back in Speed-the-Plow because it hasn’t opened yet. And then how sad that she got an award from someone she calls a friend and yet they’ve never worked together; or howsabout the “a lot has happened … which I know and you know” bit … or how she so seamlessly inserted the name of her upcoming comeback “speed into the plow” into her speech when most normal folks know that if you speed into a plow, you’ll die.

Ah Lindsay, the gift that keeps on giving. Now that’s worth comeback!
Speaking of Lohan, let’s talk Ali Lohan.

Remember how she was going to be a model and then all those pictures appeared where her face seemed surgically altered botched? And then she really had no modeling career to speak of except in Japan where she was known as Lindsay’s Little Sister??

Well, now it seems that while she wasn’t modeling she was busy “writing songs and working with a singing coach” because she fancies herself the next Dolly Parton—even though we still have the real Dolly and don’t need no second-rate hack job.

But then Ali and Dina … Pass-The-Box-o-Wine … Lohan went to Nashville together and it is ALLEGED that there might be some interest in Ali’s singing career—that made me throw up in my mouth a little.

In fact, Ali has ALLEGEDLY — because this comes from Dina you know — been offered a $120,000 contract from one unnamed label, but Ali Dina already rejected the offer because she thinks she can get more money wine from someone else.

And a job as a roadie for her Dad and a position as Tour Whore for Mama because Dina and Michael have realized that they have squeezed every cent they could from Lindsay so it’s time to start with the younger one.
I don’t watch The Kardastrophes but it does seem like the one named Kourtney is the most normal; sure, she’s had a baby or three with her boyfriend, but at least she hasn’t been married and divorced a couple of times, or been cheated on by a basketball player, so I kinda thought maybe she wasn’t a real Kardashian.

But apparently she is because the man she picked to inseminate her three times, Scott Disick, is ALLEGEDLY a well-known alcoholic whose love of the bottle has nearly cost him his relationship, his kids and even his life on several occasions … like last month when he was apparently hospitalized AGAIN for alcohol poisoning after going wild at a Hamptons night club while Baby Mama Kourtney was hosting NorthSouthEastWest’s birthday hullaballoo in California.

Seriously? Is one of That Woman’s rules that her daughters marry, or get knocked up by losers? No wonder Rob Kardashian wants nothing to do with the Klan and no wonder Bruce is having more surgeries to look less like himself and more like a Midwestern housewife.
And speaking of Rob … nice segue … in one of the most recent episodes of that family’s “reality” show Kim Kash Kow Kardastrophe-Kwest bashes Rob — behind his back, of course, but in front of a camera crew — for being overweight. 

And while the lovely porn star Kim admits that Khloe is worried about their brother, she actually says she has no “sympathy” for him at all and that he should “suck it up” and fix his problems with depression and his weight.

You know, like she does with shopping sprees and surgeries.
And last, and certainly least, Swifty, er Taylor Swift.

She’s been spending the summer in New York having her photograph taken on the streets of Manhattan every day, in different outfits because, well, she’s Taylor Swift and that’s what she does. That and have her bodyguards shriek at people who have the nerve to eat breakfast in the same room with Swifty and two of her paid BFFs.

 An onlooker — and it might have been Dina celebrating after she sold the Beyoncé story to the press — says, “Taylor and her two friends took a table toward the back of the restaurant, but her two security guards took a seat at the bar, eyeing the other diners like a hawk.”

And while Swifty ate, her guards watched the room and ran at anyone and everyone who dared pick up a cell phone lest they snap a picture of Swifty with wing sauce on her chin. One diner — again ... Dina — said, “My friend took her phone out of her purse, and one of the men screamed ‘NO PICTURES!’ She was just checking the time!”

And apparently there were no rabid fans bothering the little girl at breakfast; in fact, the only disturbance in the entire room was the rampant shenanigans of Swifty’s security team.
Note to Tay-Tay: if you don’t want your picture taken in a public restaurant STAY HOME.

Better yet, just stay home all the time.