Atlantis Alumni

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Joni Mitchell-For Free (BBC)

It doesn't get any better than this...ever.

We Are A Country In Debt And Decline...

Thomas Friedman in today's New York Times:

My fellow Americans: We are a country in debt and in decline — not terminal, not
irreversible, but in decline. Our political system seems incapable of producing
long-range answers to big problems or big opportunities. We are the ones who
need a better-functioning democracy — more than the Iraqis and Afghans. We are
the ones in need of nation-building. It is our political system that is not

Friedman's advice: vote for the presidential candidate who you think can reverse the decline. Who is that?


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Happy Gay Pride Weekend!

We're having our own gay pride day parade here in Cherry Grove later today. There's a lot to celebrate this year. We can legally marry in California, and it looks like we'll have a gay friendly president after next January. We're flying the rainbow colors on our top deck!


Friday, June 27, 2008

Barbarian America

The Supreme Court, which is packed with Republican right wing appointees, has now ruled that Americans have a constitutional right to own weapons of personal destruction. This is a departure from the existing understanding of the second amendment, and it represents activist right wing judges creating a right that did not previously exist. The New York Times editorial board weighs in on the decision:

This is a decision that will cost innocent lives, cause immeasurable pain
and suffering and turn America into a more dangerous country. It will also
diminish our standing in the world, sending yet another message that the United
States values gun rights over human life.

We still execute people at the same time that we refuse to provide health care to about 50 million of our own citizens, we now proudly tout our "right" to kill each other with guns, we invade and occupy foreign countries on false premises, kill hundreds of thousands of civilians, and the list goes on and on. As a country we are barbarians. This is how we are viewed by other more civilized peoples.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cherry Grove: Unwelcome Dune Development

We have a beautiful lot in front of our house in Cherry Grove that has never been built upon. In fact, it lies within the Federal Dune District and the New York State Coastal Erosion Hazard Zone, so technically, it's not a "buildable" lot. However, in these times environmental concerns take a back seat to monetary ones, and so we will likely loose this pristine lot to development. One of our neighbors has a display on his property including these satirical signs that pretty well gives you an idea how he feels about the pending development of the lot.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Feds Bust Men in "The Rack"

Apparently, U.S. park rangers have recently issued several citations to men caught having sex in the notorious "meat rack," the undeveloped area that lies between Cherry Grove and the Pines. There is a decades long history and tradition relative to such activities in "the rack." Sex in the meat rack is a victimless crime. The rangers would do better to issue citations to people who walk on our dunes, which DOES damage the ecosystem on Fire Island. In any event, the rangers will be very busy indeed, particularly at night, should they choose to mount a campaign to end the decades long tradition.


PHOTO: Peonies and roses in bloom in our garden

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin Is Dead

...and so we have lost someone who got it right about the perverse effects of religion on each and every one of us:

"The whole problem with this idea of obscenity and indecency, and all of
these things — bad language and whatever — it's all caused by one basic thing,
and that is: religious superstition," Carlin told the AP in a 2004 interview.
"There's an idea that the human body is somehow evil and bad and there are parts
of it that are especially evil and bad, and we should be ashamed. Fear, guilt
and shame are built into the attitude toward sex and the body. ... It's
reflected in these prohibitions and these taboos that we have." - from YahooNews

Yes, "wonderful" religion has caused more grief over things sexual including the demonization of gay people, yet so many gays still cling to religious beliefs in spite of the oppression that they suffer at the hands of organized religion. It's like being a gay Republican! George Carlin was right. Not me: no religion, no thanks!


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Obama And Gay Marriage

Writes "Patrick" over at Pam's House Blend:

If I can't trust Obama to understand what is at stake in California and do
the right thing with all of the historical and intellectual perspective he
brings to this election - then why would I believe for one moment that he will
act on my behalf on an array of issues once he is elected?



Another Obama Disappointment

The Democrats in congress caved in to Bush and the Republicans by approving a bill that lets the phone companies off the hook for their complicity in the illegal wiretaps ordered by the Bush administration. Obama announced that he supports the bill. This is change?

From Raw Story, here's the scoop on this:

"The proposed FISA deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation," Senator
Russ Feingold said
"The House and Senate should not be taking up this bill, which
effectively guarantees immunity for telecom companies alleged to have
participated in the President’s illegal program, and which fails to protect the
privacy of law-abiding Americans at home. Allowing courts to review the question
of immunity is meaningless when the same legislation essentially requires the
court to grant immunity. And under this bill, the government can still sweep up
and keep the international communications of innocent Americans in the U.S. with
no connection to suspected terrorists, with very few safeguards to protect
against abuse of this power. Instead of cutting bad deals on both FISA and
funding for the war in Iraq, Democrats should be standing up to the flawed and
dangerous policies of this administration."

So much for Obama and change. He is beginning to look like another version of Bill Clinton - doing what is politically expedient rather than what is right.


PHOTO: Another blossom that lasts for too short a time - our peony bush.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Some Enchanted Afternoon!

We spent an overnight in New York City on Wednesday and Thursday, which allowed us to take in the matinee performance of South Pacific at Lincoln Center. It's an excellent revival of a wonderful and under appreciated musical. In the evening I went to see Jersey Boys, which I've wanted to see for a long time. It was a lot of fun and took me back to high school days when the Four Seasons were at the height of their popularity. We had a good time before returning to the island on Thursday.
PHOTO: Delphinium blossom

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

California Dreamin' : Gay Marriage Is Legal!

It's gratifying and heartwarming to see all the headlines and the pictures of the happy gay and lesbian couples legally tying the knot in California. In the coming months it will be so important for as many couples as possible from all over the country to legally marry in Ca. to demonstrate the justice and humanity of the California Supreme Court decision, and to prove that the sky will not fall if this country were to finally end marriage and all other forms of discrimination against sexual minorities.

Congratulations to all of my gay brothers and sisters who are marrying now or in the coming weeks and months!


PHOTO: One of our beautiful bearded iris blooms - which we get to enjoy for all too short a period in June each year

Sunday, June 15, 2008

On Tim Russert

Tim Russert was a year younger then I am when he collapsed and died the other day at age 58. I've been a regular watcher of "Meet The Press" since he has been the host. When I taught a couple of courses in American politics at Temple University in the mid 1990s, I asked my students to watch Meet The Press and we had follow up discussions of the content of the show in class. He was that good at what he did - fair but probing interviews that were politically neutral.

I admired Russert for his journalistic dedication to political neutrality. I could never be as kind as he was to some of the crackpots of the far right that he dealt with on the show. But that was how he saw his job. He will be missed.


PHOTO: An outdoor concert In Oviedo, Spain.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bush Is Bushwacked By The Supreme Court

This is good. Columnist Eugene Robinson in today's Washington Post:
So yesterday, for the third time, the high court made clear that the Decider has
no authority to trash the fundamental principles of American jurisprudence. In
ruling 5 to 4 that foreigners held at Guantanamo Bay have the right to challenge their detentions in
federal court, the court cited the Constitution and the centuries-old concept of habeas corpus.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's majority opinion seems broad and definitive
enough to end the Kafkaesque farce at Guantanamo once and for all.
"The laws
and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary
times," Kennedy wrote. Again, it's amazing that any president of the United
States would need to have such a basic concept spelled out for him.
Well, it's not really all that amazing given that the president is dullard George W. Bush.
Is former Senator Sam Nunn from Georgia on Obama's short list for Vice President? Don't go there, Barry. Nunn is an anti-gay bigot who scapegoated gays and lesbians in the matter of gays in the military. He is one of the main reasons we still have "Don;'t Ask, Don't Tell." The gay community would rebel, and rightly so, if Barak selected Nunn.
PHOTO: A poster in Madrid attests to the active gay scene there.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Democrat Inaction On Gays In The Military

The Associated Press notes that while Democrats have controlled congress for the last two years, they have not done anything (hold hearings, etc.) on the issue of gays on the military, even though they talk a good game about allowing gays to serve openly. As usual, we get talk and little or no action. Will it be any different with Obama?


PHOTO: One of the distinguishing features of Gothic architecture, the "flying buttress," which allows for the soaring interiors of cathedrals like the one in Leon, Spain.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ca.Marriage Equality - What Now?

Donate To Equality For All:

"The most important thing now is to hold on to the win in California.
Marriage in California will transform the national debate on the freedom to
marry. It will do that because the decision is well-reasoned constitutional
law from the most influential state court in the nation. It will do that
because California is an American trendsetter. But marriage in California
will do those things only if we can hold onto it. There is a proposal on
the November ballot to ban marriage between lesbian and gay couples. That proposal would put into the California Constitution a clause that only allows
heterosexual marriages . The fundamental freedom to marry would be denied to
lesbian and gay couples, and the concept of treating people differently
would be written into the California Constitution. We think we can
beat this because Californians don’t want unnecessary government intrusion into their lives and don’t want people treated unfairly under the Constitution
So please, send whatever you can to Equality for All
(, the campaign to defeat the initiative and
preserve the freedom to marry in California."

No matter where you live, even if you live on Fire Island, where too many people think that all the money raised for good causes MUST stay "on the island" (how provincial!), now is the time to donate whatever you can to keep marriage equality a reality in California.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Cherry Grove: Stormy Weather!

We're having some beautiful late Spring weather here in Cherry Grove, with two great beach days last weekend. However, a particularly violent thunder storm rolled through here late Sunday afternoon. For some reason, we seem to get really strong storms every once in a while out here on the island. We were entertaining guests, who had to wait for the storm to subside before they could make there way to our house. It looks like the same conditions will persist for the next couple of days. Yesterday I went for a 25 minute swim in the ocean. It's still too cool for most people but I found it refreshing. The water is warming up nicely from what it was just a week ago.


PHOTO: Cathedral rose w \indow in Leon, Spain

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I continue to notice...

I continue to notice the quiet reserve coming from the Whitehouse relative to our current economic debacle. It's been pretty quiet from the President and/or Vice President, especially pertaining to the ridiculously high oil prices.
GW and crew are definitely pandering to their base, no doubt about it. One statistic that has blared out at me is one the Whitehouse Economics briefing page.

Neocons may try and point to things getting better year over year. Seasonally adjusted disposable income increased by $89 whole dollars! Ok, so I won't use any straw man crap that I've heard on O'Reilly or Hannity or the other nuts out there. How about this:

If you are having trouble reading it, I'll help. The poverty level in 2003 was 12.5% and in 2004 it moved to 12.7%. 1.1 Million MORE people were in poverty than the prior year or 37 million total. Those stats aren't cherry picked or made up, they're right off the White House Econ site. And by the way, if you'd like to recognize some stats that matter, household income took a small loss. Not good because apparently it can mean the difference between eating/seeing a doctor and living below the poverty line.

Still think our chief executive should be thinking about our economy? If this were a company, most of the management would be seeing legal council about now. Wake up America, this is serious fuck up of epic proportions.



My friend Louise wrote to me: "Vote for Obama because he is going to need your vote in PA. Anyhow, all our votes matter every time."

Louise and I go round and round on voting because I won't vote for the lesser of two evils. I won't vote for a candidate on one side because the other side is so much worse.

So I wrote back to Louise that I'm considering voting for Obama...BUT:

If the Senator were fully supportive of marriage equality, I would be much more inclined to vote for him. However, he does not support the right of gays and lesbians to legally marry. In this he is actually behind the curve. Marriage equality has been in effect in Mass. for several years now, and in a few short weeks gays and lesbians anywhere in the country will be able to marry legally in California. But the political calculation trumps even what has already been recognized in two states as right and just. That is unfortunate and leaves many gay men and lesbians feeling that they cannot support Obama. It's not just me. You can read the gay blogs and the disappointment is obvious. That he is so much more desirable on other issues than any Republican doesn't help much. We need a leader with the courage to do what he knows is right when it comes to gays and lesbians.


What's Missing?

No picture today. I thought I would make one point without any distractions:

Have you noticed that gas costs have skyrocketed, unemployment is up substantially, costs for normal people are going through the roof and our stock market looks like a carnival ride?

Have you noticed that $600 to to families so they could buy more garbage at Walmart from China hasn't worked?

The point I am making is that GW Bush and crew and 8 years of Republican rule got us here. Not the Democrats, not Senator Clinton or Senator Obama but Republicans. And now we're getting precious little from them except finger pointing at Democrats.

Essentially the lies and skewing of reality has stopped because we're spending too much and not building enough as a country. My point is over. Now the question is what can we do about our economic mess?


PS The only one's (as far as I can tell) that are uncorking the champagne bottles are oil companies, Saudis and some hedge funds. I wonder if the rest of us have to go "eat cake"?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Read This Before You Buy Bolthouse Farms Products!

From Wikipedia:

"Bolthouse Farms, founded in 1915, is a vertically-integrated farm company located
in California's San Joaquin Valley
and headquartered in Bakersfield,
. According to the business research company Hoover's, Bolthouse Farms is
one of the United States's leading
producers of carrots.[1] Madison Dearborn
has a 57% stake in Bolthouse that was acquired in 2005, the
remainder of the company is still family-owned. The company has attracted
controversy due to their Conservative Christian political associations and due
to their handling of a botulism outbreak originating from their product."

Anti-Equality Activism
Bakersfield carrot farmer William Bolthouse donated $100,000 to an initiative aiming to fight gay marriage — a measure that will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot along with the presidential race. Source:

[edit] Bolthouse Foundation
Bolthouse Farms company profits are used to support the The Bolthouse Foundation[4], which supports groups including Evangelical Christian organizations.[5]
Controversy surrounds the foundation as it, along with figures such as Blackwater Worldwide founder Erik Prince, are major donors for the Alliance Defense Fund that is itself criticized for their perceived legal team offense against Separation of church and state (as defined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution), their stance against homosexuality, their focus on proselytism, as well as their opposition to birth control and sex education amongst other reasons.[5][6]
The controversy surrounding the company has led some Bolthouse consumers to boycott Bolthouse Farms products[7]

From the Bolthouse Farms web site:

Corporate Philosophy

The purpose of this Company is to glorify God through our business
transactions, our work, and our relationships. It is further our desire to bring
honor and glory to the Name of Jesus Christ by following God's Word in all of
our dealings with employees, suppliers, and customers. God's Work as contained
in His Inspired Scriptures will be the final authority in all Corporate matters
concerning direction, decisions, and disputes.

Don't Buy Bolthouse Farms Products!

The entrepreneur behind Bolthouse Farms (related carrot brands are Green Giant and Mercer Ranches) is a right wing religious wingnut who has donated $100,000 to support the anti-gay initiative in California that would ban gays and lesbians from marrying. Click on the title above to read the article. Apparently, this bigot is more concerned with fighting gay marriage than sanitation in his own food plants. These products are sold nationwide, so watch what you buy the next time you go shopping!


PHOTO: The part-shade section of the garden here at Liberty Bell, our beach house on Fire Island

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

California Same Sex Marriages Will Happen June 17th!

So says the California Supreme Court, in denying the request for a stay of their earlier ruling made by right wing groups and religious bigots. This is a wonderful development and will strengthen the fight against the anti-gay-marriage constitutional initiative. Since out-of-state gay male and lesbian couples will be able to marry in California on or after June 17th, I wonder what our national gay rights organizations will recommend to couples who would like to take advantage of the opportunity to legally marry within the boundries of the United States? It seems to me that a landslide of gay couples pouring into California to marry could be a powerful tool and make a powerful statement on the nationwide battle for marriage equality and gay rights.


PHOTO: Beautiful Iris in our beach house garden

What Now, Hillary?

Does she want to be on the ticket? I suppose many of her supporters want her to at least be offered the 2nd spot on the ticket. There is historical precedent for opposition candidates to join together on a ticket, e.g, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

If I were her, however, I think I would prefer to remain in the Senate, which is likely to be solidly under Democratic Party control, as will the House Of representatives, rather then play second bananna to President Obama.

If I were Obama, I would not want to run with Mrs. Clinton, and have to deal with all the baggage she would bring, most notably her husband, whose behavior becomes more and more bizarre and unseemly for an ex-president as time goes on.

One thing is clear: Obama needs to try to bring closure to the Democratic primary campaign if he can. However, Mrs. Clinton can continue to contest the nomination right up to the convention. Pundits are split on whether or not she will do this, and on her motivations for not conceding. The next few days will be interesting to watch.


PHOTO: One of my favorite flowers, the Foxglove. I'm trying to get them started in the garden here at the beach so that they come back by themselves each year.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

GM FINALLY Sees The Light!

According to Yahoo News, General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner has announced that the company will shut four plants that build gas guzzlers and shift production to more fuel efficient cars:

Wagoner announced the moves in response to slumping sales of pickups and SUVs brought on by
high oil prices. He said a market shift to smaller vehicles is permanent.
shares rose 43 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $17.87 in midday trading.

Imagine that: the US stock market actually rewards GM for being years late to realize the need for more fuel efficient cars! I realized it four years ago when we sold our big SUV and bought a fuel efficient, 4 cylinder, manual transmission Saturn. Actually, I realized 35 years ago during the first gas shortages and the first "energy crisis."



Photo: A detail of the really old stained glass at Leon.

Stained Glass At Leon

More shots of the spectacular interior of the Leon cathedral.


The California Marriage Battle Is Joined

Long time lesbian activist Robin Tyler over at Huffington:

...a majority of Californians (51 per cent) now supports same-sex marriage!
Only 42 per cent disapprove. But 62 per cent of born-again Christians in
California oppose permitting gay and lesbian couples to marry. I don't mind
these 62 per cent being born again, but why did they have to come back as
Tell me about it.
So, Californians will get to vote in November on whether or not to amend their state constitution to enshrine discrimination against gay and lesbian people. Now is the time for the disorganized U.S. gay community to finally band together and flex its muscle. We have no leader, no Martin Luther King. We are not monolithic. Some gays are not in favor of marriage and some feel we're fighting the wrong battles (who really wants to serve in the army anyway?) But this battle in California is so important because if we lose it that could set back the overall gay equality movement by decades. Will we finally come together as gay people to fight the influence of the right and the religious bigots in California?
PHOTO: More beautiful stained glass in Leon

Monday, June 2, 2008

Take the Bush-McCain Challenge!

Go Ahead, take the challenge and shock even yourself!

Obama Will Be The Nominee Wednesday Morning declares NBC pundit-in-chief Tim Russert on the "Today" show this morning. He expects a significant number of Democratic "Superdelegates" to declare for Obama after the results of the South Dakota and Montana primary elections are in. This will be enough to put Obama over the top and give him enough pledged delegates to secure the nomination. Hopefully, this will end the Clinton's campaign, and end their strangle hold on the Democratic Party. We'll see.

As for Obama, he did the politically necessary thing by resigning from his church, even though much truth is spoken in that church, truth that is especially relevant to African Americans. The church will go on, and Obama will go on - down their separate paths, as Rev. Wright said.

It's too bad that you have to sell your soul to be elected to office in this country. Idealism is too soon shattered by political realities. If Obama is elected, I hope he can maintain some of his idealism through the political battering that he will endure as soon as he steps into the oval office. Call me cynical, but I don't have high hopes. By the way, read Gary Hart's spot on article on idealism vs. pragmatism over at Huffington.


PHOTO: The stained glass in the Gothic Cathedral at Leon, Spain is some of the finest I've seen anywhere and rivals even Chartres, after which this magnificent cathedral was initially patterned.