Inhuman Swill : February 2004

Enshrining bigotry

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Bob Howe calls to my attention an op-ed by Bob Herbert in today's New York Times on the subject of gay marriage. A choice paragraph:

Bliss and bigotry The opponents of gay marriage are on the wrong side of history. The interests of civilization are not served by driving mature love underground. And the interests of the United States, which is supposed to be the quintessence of a free society, are not served by enshrining bigotry in law.  [full article]
I still, after reading reams on the debate, fail to see why making the definitions of marriage and family more inclusive would devalue the institutions of marriage and family rather than strengthening them. By wanting to participate in them, aren't gays affirming the power and utility of those institutions?
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N by N W

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Why oh why is it that, now that years and years of work on the Manhattan Bridge is done and trains are crossing it on four tracks for the first time since the '80s, this seems to have doubled the crowding on the N and W trains to Astoria? How can that make sense?

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Cognitive dissonance of the week

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I have won an Honorable Mention Award for Short Fiction from the Association for Mormon Letters for my short story "The Day Pietro Coppino Spoke to the Mountain" (Realms of Fantasy, October 2003). I am invited to attend the annual awards banquet Saturday, March 6th, at the main branch of the Salt Lake Public Library.

I am pleased and honored. Startled and flabbergasted and puzzled and delighted and amused are also words that leap to mind.

(Didn't know whether to use the devil or Snoopy icon. Finally decided Snoopy was the more appropriate.)

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Who saw the most recent SNL? We just watched it on DVR last night, and Jimmy Fallon had a "Weekend Update" joke that was so funny it even cracked up Tina Fey, who must have heard it nineteen times already. This is from memory and not verbatim:

"In Georgia this week, a compromise was reached that will allow the word 'evolution' to continue to be used in classrooms. As a trade-off, however, the word 'dinosaur' will be replaced with 'Jesus horse.'"

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Anniversary of a bomb threat

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Dear me. I just realized that yesterday was the seventeenth anniversary of my arrest in Canada on charges of public mischief related to a false bomb threat. I wish I'd had a party. But then again, in today's political climate, perhaps that's not thing I want to invite a bunch of people to celebrate.

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Men's room key

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In the office building in midtown Manhattan where I work, our little company shares a men's room with the other tenants on our floor. The men's room is kept locked, and we have a communal key that sits on a filing cabinet by the door. The key is attached to a large red plastic square that says MEN and has the international male restroom symbol engraved on it.

I returned to work this morning after a week's vacation spent doing nothing but writing (okay, and playing the more-than-occasional computer game). My first stop off the elevator was the men's room. Beneath the door of one of the two stalls I could clearly see the shoes of one of my coworkers, and the communal men's room key.

Lying in the stall on the tile floor.

Now, I long ago stole out to a locksmith with the men's room key and had my own copy made, so I never use the communal version. But still, I'm skeeved out. We keep takeout menus piled on the same filing cabinet, and those I use all the time. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

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It's a Weekend Update world

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Here's what I just heard on the radio:

"Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has ordered the city [of San Francisco] to halt the gay marriages."

I laughed my ass off. A couple of years ago, this would have sounded like a line from The Onion or "Weekend Update" on SNL. Not that it's funny, but sometimes all you can do is laugh.

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The future of Homeland Security

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They could have retitled it better, but Alex Irvine's short story "Retroactive Anti-terror" is up at

Give it a read. It's a fictional extrapolation of real legislation now in committee in Congress.

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Alex Irvine at

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Tune in late this evening at, when and where I have it on good authority my colleague Alex Irvine's newest science fiction story will be appearing.

I heard Alex read the story last week in the New York Review of Science Fiction reading series at the South Street Seaport, and it's a good one. Funny, political, and relevant. Watch for it.

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Bob Howe sends me an utterly demoralizing article from the January 4 San Francisco Chronicle about the persecution and prosecution of peaceful protesters:

Quarantining dissent: How the Secret Service protects Bush from free speech In a May terrorist advisory, the Homeland Security Department warned local law enforcement agencies to keep an eye on anyone who "expressed dislike of attitudes and decisions of the U.S. government." If police vigorously followed this advice, millions of Americans could be added to the official lists of suspected terrorists. [full article]
Personally, I think the Secret Service should focus more of its time and energy on pretzels. I mean, pretzels are a proven threat to the president. Dubya has more reason to fear the average pretzel than any yahoo with a sign. The Secret Service should cordon off all pretzels and not allow them within five miles of the president. I would feel safer if they did.

And while they're at it, they should get those pesky peanuts and potato chips too. After all, there's more evidence of complicity between this Axis of Snackses than there's ever been of the same between, say, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. It should be obvious that pretzels, peanuts, and potato chips have long conspired to provide a criminally delicious and satisfying snacking experience, particularly in concert with beer. I say round up all these salty scalawags and sequester them in Gastrointestinal Bay, quick!

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

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William Shunn

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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