Wednesday, August 31, 2005

It's the Gays! You Knew This was Coming, DIdn't You?

From John Avarosis at AmericaBlog (his post hyperlinks to the connections each organization has to Repent America):

Religious right group, heralded by top religious right leaders, says God destroyed New Orleans because of gays
by John in DC - 8/31/2005 03:54:00 PM

Oh yes.
And lest anyone write this off as the musings of fringe nutjobs, this group is hardly Fred Phelps.
This is a group that has been defended by scores of lead religious right organizations in just the past year, including the Southern Baptist Convention, Center for Reclaiming America (attached to D. James Kennedy), the American Family Association's AgapePress, WorldNetDaily, the men over at the Concerned Women for America, Lou Sheldon's Traditional Values Coaltion, the freepers, and more.

Here's what this darling of the religious right had to say about New Orleans:

An evangelical Christian group that regularly demonstrates at LGBT events is blaming gays for hurricane Katrina.

Repent America says that God "destroyed" New Orleans because of Southern Decadence, the gay festival that was to have taken place in the city over the Labor Day weekend.

I hear tell that Southern Decadence is the gay equivalent of Mardi Gras, down to the "beads" economy, etc. So why didn't he waste New Orleans sooner? If you go strictly by the numbers of folks completely "debauched" , Mardi Gras would likely be the hands down winner of the 'tour destructo' . Maybe God is just a big fan of the fancy Mardi Gras floats.

(Update: I found this quote from Anne Lamott, author of Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

"You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.")

Bush Plays Catch Up with Hurricane Katrina

Originally uploaded by John Hay.
I can't imagine. I knew Katrina was bad even though the "on the scene" reporting of Weather Channel correspondants made the storm sound almost like a sporting event. The pictures that are showing up on Flickr are very sad. Homes just lifting off their foundations and floating away or being smashed to bits. People still waiting on black tar roofs for rescue. Very humbling. Now 80% of New Orleans is flooded because of broken levees, a potential danger which our friend Jason at Sneer warned John about on Sunday. If you are looking for a way to help, you may want to make an online donation through the United Methodist Church's disaster relief organization HERE. They are very organized and 100% of donations go toward relief efforts.

Warning: Political rant begins here.

Fortunately, President Bush was playing guitar while Rome, I mean New Orleans was drowning. Some people are calling this "My Pet Goat II", referring to Bush's insistence on finishing the children's book even though he'd been notified repeatedly that the World Trade Center had been bombed. Why is that instead of presidentin' whenever a national disaster strikes Bush always appears to be cramming to complete electives for some wannabe liberal arts degree?

Oh, not all of the last two days was spent playing guitar, he did find time on the day Katrina hit to head to an Arizona country club for some cake. Actually he had cake at the airport and THEN went to the club. What does a Red State like Louisiana have to endure to garner Bush's genuine attention? Then again, New Orleans does run a little blue.

CNN says Bush has generously decided to cut his vacation short by two days so he can head back to DC today. This is of course two days after the storm landed. You can tell this man isn't running for office again.

Bush cut his month long vacation by two days even though aides have long contended that his duties are uninterrupted when he spends time at his ranch in nearby Crawford that has White House-level communications capability.

The president decided he should be in the nation's capital given the magnitude of destruction and death caused by Katrina, one of the most severe storms to ever hit the United States.

Really?! Seems like people in CA and AZ might have understood if he'd postponed his visits in order to get back to the Whitehouse before Katrina hit. Say what you will about him, but Clinton used to cut international trips short to be back before impending disasters struck. And the financial aid he provided was substantial, too. I hope for the sake of Gulf coast residents that Bush can pull something helpful together. As much as he dissappoints me, I honestly want to believe our president cares, mainly because his failure to do so means extended chaos for southern Americans. Keep an eye out and feel free to give me a heads up when you see real evidence that he does.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Free Teeth

This is Conor. And these are Conor's teeth. See how straight they are? That's because they've been behind bars for about a year and a half. Not anymore and brace removal calls for a celebration. So Conor, the rest of the Mather clan, John and I went to G. T. South's BBQ for dinner. Later we went out for ice cream. The girl behind the counter was way into Conor, too. Those new teeth are paying off already.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Quotable Pat Robertson

My sister was surprised at Pat Robertson' s assassination recommendations. I wasn't. Here are some other quotes (from Daily Kos) that he's made in the past decade. And don't kid yourself. He's a powerful political force.

"If I could just get a nuclear device inside Foggy Bottom, I think that's the answer."
"I mean, you get through this [book], and you say, 'We've got to blow that thing up.'" --Pat Robertson on "nuking" the State Department; October 13, 2003
Now who are the terrorists again?

""In the Old Testament and the New Testament boys and girls didn't make decisions like this, they were betrothed by their parents. We've got a couple here at Regent University whose parents arranged the marriage and they're very, very happy. I honestly think if we went back to that kind of thing you'd have a whole lot less problems--It'll help. I think it would cut down the divorce rate." — The 700 Club, February 14, 2000
Yes, arranged marriages! Nothing would cut down on the divorce rate like not having a say in who you will spend the rest of your life with.

"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians." (Pat Robertson direct mail, Summer 1992)
Wow, I wonder if my lesbian friend who is chairman of the Log Cabin Republicans here in Indy knows she is against capitalism. And being a feminist sure is a lot of work. When do they find time to plan Lilith Fair?

""We soon as possible to see a majority of the Republican Party in the hands of pro-family Christians by 1996." (Denver Post, 10/26/92)
Wish granted. Hey, wait. I'm a pro-family Christian! Is this a trick? I don't want the Republican Party!

And from Matthew Shepherd online resouces

"[Homosexuals]want to come into churches and disrupt church services and throw blood all around and try to give people AIDS and spit in the face of ministers." Pat Robertson, 700 Club, 1/18/95 - People for the American Way Web site,
Pastor Mike, you better wear your waterproof vestments on Sunday. And by the way, I'm not cleaning this mess up.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Pat Robertson is a Liar

After getting busted for advocating assassination of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez on national television, Pat Robertson decided to lie about it. From Media Matters:

What Robertson said he said on August 22, in a conversation with Chavez critic Thor Halvorssen.

HALVORSSEN: Now, I think that it's very important to also note your comments were about assassination. The person -- I think that alternative is lowering to his level.

ROBERTSON: Wait a minute, I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should, quote, "take him out," and "take him out" can be a number of things including kidnapping. There are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP, but that happens all the time.

What Robertson ACTUALLY said on The 700 Club on August 22:

ROBERTSON: You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

Pitiful. Denying the truth is a national past time these days. Maybe Robertson doesn't want to face what really is in his heart.

The Great Indiana State Fair

John and I went to the Indiana State Fair with our friends Dave (left) and Ken (middle). Dave is a one person PR department for the fair. Sadly, he'll never be the State Fair Queen, but if they ever decide to have a State Fair King, Dave would surely receive the first crown.

You see, Dave, a dyed in the wool Hoosier and former 4-H'r (who recites the four pillars whenever the term 4-H is mentioned) may rub elbows with New York and Indiana socialites now, but he has a past of working in the Dairy Pavilion at the fair. It was here that he absorbed a radioactive dose of Indiana State Fair dust so powerful that it permeated every cell of his body. Now every year he makes at least five trips to the fair and can reel off fifty reasons why you should do the same.

Fair dust is so potent that Ken, just by being around David year after year has taken on the same fair passion. And, he's not even a native Hoosier (from Erie, PA).


Fair food is varied and plentiful. It is not, however, all created equal. Dave and Ken know right where to go for the best of everything, whether it is roasted corn (head to the Jaycee's booth) or ribeye steak sandwiches (Cattelmen's pavilion).

One of the must see stops for us was the Agriculture/Horticulture (AgHort) Building, where all of the best fruits, vegetables, flowers and trees are displayed. Looking at the best of the best is an intense experience so the fair provides an organist in the middle of the exhibit hall to keep things from getting out of hand. I haven't heard organ music this good since Batesville's own Hassell Kimbrough played two organs at the same time (no lie) for three hours straight during my sister's wedding reception.


One of the highlights of the evening was seeing the "World's Largest Boar." I called him Smiley. I don't know what his real name was, but he was huge and definately a "he". I know it's rude to say such things and I opted not to photograph the evidence, but this pig was packin'.

My camera died before we got to the Home and Family Arts building and the midway. We did manage to ride some rides. The Twister was my favorite. I'd never seen it before, but it was like a big Tilt-a-Whirl that went up on its side. The guy running it gave our car a good bonus spin before it started, too.

If you're ever visiting Indiana in August, you owe yourself a big slice of Americana and a funnel cake. Come on out to the Great Indiana State Fair (official title). Ken and Dave are excellent fair hosts, and chances are they will already be there waiting for you.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Connecticut Suing the Federal Government

Connecticut is suing the Federal Government for mandating that the state comply with the No Child Left Behind act (or suffer the consequences) without giving them the funds necessary to see NCLB through. The funds are promised in the law, but somehow did not show up in the national budget.

Underfunding has been one of the big problems with NCLB, but not its only problem. You may remember the conflict of interest issues associated with the "'selling" of it to America. A columnist was being secretly paid by the White House to promote the law to black families through media outlets. But that is another story (here).

Connecticut is the first state to sue over NCLB, but not the first organization. That honor goes to the National Educators Association (NEA).

This could get interesting. Thanks to Rawstory and Newsday for the heads up.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Takin' It to the Street

New Sidewalks
Originally uploaded by Troy Smythe.
Today the city finished putting new sidewalks in front of our house. Since the shaping and smoothing seemed to be the most artistic part of the process I asked the guys doing the trowel work if I could take their picture. They were all about it. In fact, the guy standing up was about half a block away, but he came running when I whipped the camera out. He was the crew supervisor so he made sure to act like he was bossing the other guys around. I think he thought it was funnier than they did.

Anyway, it was good to catch a glimpse of our tax dollars at work. And the crew did an amazing job. I thought about getting their names, but with their boss there it didn't seem to be that kind of party.

Originally uploaded by Troy Smythe.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Election Watch Begins

Potterdad forwarded Paul Krugman's op-ed piece in the New York Times regarding voter supression. Interesting to note are the similarities between the 2000 election and the 2004 election. According to a new book by Andrew Gumbel, a US correspondant for the British journal The Independent, the same suppressive efforts were used by the Republican party in both elections. The result was that much evidence exists to suggest that Al Gore actually won the 2000 election, however Bush did indeed win the 2004 election.

Two different news media consortiums reviewed Florida's ballots; both found that a full manual recount would have given the election to Mr. Gore. This was true despite a host of efforts by state and local officials to suppress likely Gore votes, most notably Ms. Harris's "felon purge," which disenfranchised large numbers of valid voters.

But few Americans have heard these facts. Perhaps journalists have felt that it would be divisive to cast doubt on the Bush administration's legitimacy. If so, their tender concern for the nation's feelings has gone for naught: Cindy Sheehan's supporters are camped in Crawford, and America is more bitterly divided than ever.

What's done is done, and we'd be fools to believe that election tampering is only a Republican party game. Gumbel suggests that both parties have been guilty of it in the past, and I have no reason not to believe him. "Absolute power..." and all that. But what concerns me is also Krugman's fear,

Our current political leaders would suffer greatly if either house of Congress changed hands in 2006, or if the presidency changed hands in 2008. The lids would come off all the simmering scandals, from the selling of the Iraq war to profiteering by politically connected companies. The Republicans will be strongly tempted to make sure that they win those elections by any means necessary. And everything we've seen suggests that they will give in to that temptation.

I know of no one who reads this blog, on whatever side of the issues they find themselves, who would tolerate election tampering. Righteous honesty is a quality all of my friends share. Allow this to be the first invitation you receive to be a part of the 2006 and 2008 elections. I encourage you to be present. The watchful eyes of all kinds of good faith voters create accountability. Work at the polls, volunteer to drive folks to vote, take election day off and hang out with friends at the polls with a pitcher of hot cider. Show up in places where voter supression is likely to happen. Don't be obstructive, but be vigilant.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


John planted a bunch of sunflowers for me this year in our cutting garden. They are the happiest darn flowers I've ever seen, and very photogenic. I don't let a day pass without going to visit them, and I hope never to have another summer without them.

Red and velvety. Bees and birds LOVE these things. They get so pumped about being on the flowers that they couldn't care less if I exist.

Red Sunflower
Originally uploaded by Troy Smythe.

Sunflowers are like people--very tall people.

Up High
Originally uploaded by Troy Smythe.

"Teddy Bear" is short though. Teddy Bear is the actual name of the variety, not one I just made up to be cute.

Teddy Bear
Originally uploaded by Troy Smythe.

Sweet. Don't know this one's name.

Originally uploaded by Troy Smythe.

Sunflowers make great cut flowers, too. Pretty, but not too precious--very homey.

Originally uploaded by Troy Smythe.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Prairie Home Companions

I went to Minneapolis recently to do some work for my friend Kris.

Kris and Scott
Originally uploaded by Troy Smythe.

She and her husband Scott are wonderful friends of ours. The picture above is from Auriga's, one of the great places we ate. John had never been to Minnesota, so he came up for the weekend and we had a wonderful time.

Chuck Close Opening
Originally uploaded by Troy Smythe.

Kris's friend Robin, who works for the recently reopened Walker Arts Center, got us tickets to the opening of Chuck Close: Self-Portraits 1967-2005, which was a great exhibition. Robin is on the right. John is on the left, Kris is in the middle.

Robin, who is the Director of New Media Initiatives at the Walker and her staff worked with media artsits to produce a telematic table, called the Dialog project. The table has screens on which images of art in the collection float while tiny figures walk nearby. I used my fingers like chopsticks in the air to pick up the figures on the screen and then to drop them on a work of art. Each figure has a different personality and represents a different question, like "How was this made?" or "Who made this?" Dropping them on the work of art would bring up the answers. If I liked the question I could move the figure to another work of art. If I wanted to learn more about the work of art I could pick up another figure (question) and drop it on the art. The Dialog project uses internally mounted LCD projectors and externally mounted infrared cameras to allow the computer to recognize the user's gesture. Kind of a mind blowing way to get information about art.

Scott and John
Originally uploaded by Troy Smythe.

Here are John and Scott having a go.

We stayed busy the entire time we were there. One time Kris got in a little too big of a hurry and dropped her blow dryer into the toilet. Oops! While we waited for Scott to turn off the right breaker I got a photo of the near catastrophe. Thankfully no one was hurt. I'm glad I got the picture though. It amuses me on so many levels.

A Wet Heat
Originally uploaded by Troy Smythe.

Farmers' Market
Originally uploaded by Troy Smythe.

One of my favorite places was the Farmers Market where I discovered later that I had only taken this one picture. Seriously, I'm like a large mouth bass. We were surrounded by acres of organic greens, flowers, and baked goods, but what do I take a picture of? The big table of shiny things, all of which were probably made in Taiwan. But, you see, they were SO shiny.

We had a great time. Kris and Scott are wonderful ambassadors for their state, which is a pretty amazing place: home of Target, Prince (America's Mozart), Tammy Faye Bakker, Jessica Lange and more good food than I've ever encountered in a city that size, much of it coming from Kris's kitchen. We can't wait to go back!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Baby Name Wizard

John and I are deciding on baby names and our friend Lara (a creative techie as well as a parent) pointed us to this REALLY fun part of the Baby Name Wizard blog called Name Voyager. It's a speedy interactive that shows the frequency of all of the baby names in America over the past 100 years. Kind of fun to find your own name and an elegant use of graphics. The Baby Name Wizard blog itself is interesting. It looks at trends and impulses in America's naming habits. Thanks Lara!