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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Randy J. Ray's LiveJournal:

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Monday, November 3rd, 2008
6:12 pm
Why I Won't Be Worried if Prop 8 Passes (But I'm Voting Against It Anyway)
(It's been a while since I wrote here, too long. And this post isn't really about me, so this doesn't really help. I'm way behind in reading, plus I have at least two memes I'm still supposed to post on. But with the election tomorrow, I had to get this one out. Actually started this last night, but a weird sequence of Firefox stumbles cost me the whole thing, draft included. So here goes take 2. Warning, this gets kind of long...)

It will be no surprise to anyone who knows me, that I'm against Prop 8. For whatever reason, I've always known a lot of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, etc. Perhaps because of the general accepting nature of the geek sub-culture, they've always felt more able to be out and open in the circles I've been in. I'm just speculating, of course. And though I oppose 8, and have donated to No On 8 twice, I hadn't put up any signs until this past Friday. But my next-door neighbors put a "Yes on 8" sign up, so I felt compelled. I live in an apartment complex, and most of my neighbors seem to be H1B workers. Between general limited visibility and not knowing how many of the people who do see the signs would be eligible to vote, I hadn't seen any need. But I did, just to try and balance out the other side. And tomorrow I'll go and cast my vote, which will include a "NO" on 8 (and on 4, but that's beyond the scope of this post). That said, if I should wake up Wednesday to learn that 8 has passed, I won't be too worried. I'll be disappointed, but it will be too soon to condemn all of California over it.

See, I moved to Denver, Colorado, in May of 1996, just about the time that the ad and campaigning blitz over Colorado's Amendment 2 was stepping into high gear. Back then, the anti-A2 people made some mistakes that (thankfully) the No On 8 people haven't made: first and foremost, they looked around their fairly-insulated enclaves and assumed that A2 would never pass. All the pro-A2 motion they saw was pretty light and lightly-attended. But they overlooked the rural parts of Colorado, which were much more conservative (and still are-- Colorado went for Bush in both 2000 and 2004). The second mistake was in under-estimating the savvy of pro-A2 groups like Coloradans for Family Values, Focus on the Family, etc., down in Colorado Springs. There were quite a number of religion-based "pro-family" groups headquartered in Springs, many of which were created solely to promote the ballot issue. A2 passed, and not by a narrow margin either. Like I said, the anti-P8 campaign hasn't made those mistakes; they've neither under-estimated the size and determination of California conservatives, nor have they brushed aside the misleading and dishonest ads. Rather, they've responded quickly with the truth behind the wildest claims. (A first-grade class dragged unwittingly to a lesbian marriage, with no recourse for the parents? Nope. "As is the case with all field trips, parents had to give their permission and could choose to opt out of the trip.")

But back to A2 for a bit. The fall-out was swift, over-reaching, and completely unnecessary. Colorado was branded the "Hate State". Boycotts were declared. Many large entities canceled planned conventions there, and not just gay groups. Some were large corporations that prided themselves in their equal support for gay/lesbian employees. One of my favorite such examples of misguided "activism" came from Hollywood: the production of the TV mini-series adaptation of Stephen King's "The Stand" chose not to film key scenes in Boulder. Mind you, Boulder was one of three municipalities (along with Denver County and Pitkin County, which is the county Aspen is in) that had originally had the anti-discrimination laws that A2 sought to overturn. But it was part of the "hate state", so they just couldn't find it in themselves to film in a state that would allow discrimination against gays and lesbians. Instead, they filmed in Utah. Yeah, let that one sink in for a few seconds...

What made this all so ridiculous, though, was the fact that A2 was never in effect. The next day after the election, suits were filed. Well before it was scheduled to take effect, A2 had been blocked by court ruling. Both sides fought and fought, taking it all the way up the chain to SCOTUS itself. in 1996, almost 4 years after being voted on, A2 was given a well-deserved final death in a 6-3 ruling. And that's why I won't be worried if P8 passes tomorrow.

First and foremost, regardless of which way the polls go, come Wednesday the losing side will be filing suit. And this one will go to at least the state supreme court, if not all the way up like A2 did. And if it reaches SCOTUS, I expect to see it lose. The vote will likely be 5-4, unless one or more of the conservative justices retire between now and the hearing of the case[1]. In 1996, Thomas had already replaced Marshall. The dissenters were (no real surprise) Scalia, Rehnquist and Thomas. There have been two changes in the court since 1996, and one of those was Rehnquist so no gain made there. Only the replacement of O'Connor with Alito would change the A2 ruling if it were heard/voted on today.

Add to this the fact that P8 is much more blatant in promoting discrimination than A2 was[2]. The pro-A2 forces argued that gays, lesbians and bisexuals[3] did not constitute a minority deserving of specific anti-discrimination language. Kennedy noted this in the decision he wrote for the majority: "[Amendment 2] is at once too narrow and too broad. It identifies persons by a single trait and then denies them protection across the board. The resulting disqualification of a class of persons from the right to seek specific protection from the law is unprecedented in our jurisprudence." A2 seemed benign at face value, because the supporters framed it in terms of "special rights". Of course, you don't just march in and get a city or county board to pass a law to ban discrimination, unless there's ample evidence of said discrimination. But the people behind A2 wanted the right to have gays be turned away from housing, jobs, etc. if the person doing the interview or whatever happened to not like their gayness. To them, this was nothing like the "other" discrimination, the "bad" kind, like back in the 50s and 60s. This was just them exercising their religious views. You know, just like back in the 50s and 60s. P8, on the other hand, is much clearer: "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry". So when (not "if") this goes before SCOTUS, the pro-P8 folks will have to explain why they wish to amend a constitution to specifically remove rights from an identifiable group. Much of the pro-P8 argument is based on the 2000 initiative, Proposition 22, which passed with 61% of the vote. To them, the state supreme court decision was in direct opposition to the will of the voters, or what they like to call an "activist judiciary".

Guess what? They're 100% right. And thank goodness for that, too. In 1967, when SCOTUS handed down the Loving v. Virginia decision, there were 16 states with anti-miscegenation laws still on the books. Even California had such a law until 1948. Was it voted down by the enlightened citizens of the Golden State? No. It was struck down by the state supreme court. And let's just be clear about this: seeing as we aren't talking about legalizing criminal activity, why should people be allowed to vote, largely based on their own personal religious prejudices, to strip people of basic rights? It's fairly safe to say that the 16 states which still had these laws in 1967 would have upheld them if you'd put it to a vote of the people. Indeed, in 1948 California such a vote probably would have supported the existing law. Does that mean those laws should have been left standing? (And if you're sitting there shrugging and thinking to yourself, "Yeah, I guess those laws should have stayed on the books," then I don't know what I can tell you that would make a bit of difference at this point.)

Writing the dissent in the A2 case, Scalia was extremely agitated with the 6 majority-voting justices. And with good reason, as he felt the decision was contrary to the 1986 Bowers v. Hardwick ruling, which had upheld anti-sodomy laws. He wrote, "If it is rational to criminalize the conduct, surely it is rational to deny special favor and protection to those with a self-avowed tendency or desire to engage in the conduct." And his concerns proved themselves out in 2003 when Romer was cited in the case Lawrence v. Texas, which finally ruled all anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional (thus overturning Bowers). Would Lawrence have gone the way it did without Romer? Probably. But the Colorado case helped.

So come Wednesday, there will be lawsuits filed by one side or the other. It's possible that the pro-P8 forces will drop the matter if they lose, but I wouldn't bet anything of value on that thought. And if they win, the implications of such a state constitutional amendment with regards to the equal protection clause of sec. 1 of the 14th Amendment will be pretty strong: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." If P8 passes and should be upheld, it would be the first such amendment to identify a specific class of legal citizens and deny them certain specific rights. I don't think that SCOTUS is likely to uphold something like this.

That's why I'm not actually worried about prop 8. Indeed, if it passes I predict that it will first be blocked from going into effect pending appeal. Then, since at the core the issue is the fact that the California supreme court already ruled  on the matter, it will be in front of SCOTUS faster than A2 was, at which point it will be overturned. And that will set a precedent for the other 47 states that don't yet recognize same-sex[4] marriage, not to mention torpedo any future attempts at an amendment drive for the US Constitution.

For that, I'm willing to wait a few extra years (especially since with it suspended pending appeals, Californians will still be able to get married during the intervening period).


[1] I'm assuming an Obama win, not because I support him but rather because he's pretty far ahead across the boards, now. Barring some huge thing in the next 3 hours, or the most blatant theft-of-election in US history, he looks to win. But I'm not ruling either of those out, either.
[2] FSVO "discrimination", I suppose. I know a staunch conservative who one pointed out that gays and lesbians are free to marry, as long as they choose an opposite-gender partner. But that's like reading the First Amendment as saying I'm free to choose any religion I like, as long as it's Judeo-Christian. While it's true that plenty of Americans actually believe that is what the First Amendment means, SCOTUS disagrees.
[3] On the plus-side, bisexuals in Colorado took some small comfort in the fact that for once, they were included and not overlooked as was often the case at the time...
[4] I keep wanting to type "gay marriage", mainly because it's a shorter phrase. But P8 will just as quickly quash a bisexual wanting to marry someone of the same gender.
Saturday, August 2nd, 2008
3:58 am
100 pushups (http://bit.ly/3yr2vO) Week 2, Day 3: 46 again. Haven't slept too well lately, I was more tired than usual when I did them.
Thursday, July 31st, 2008
5:10 am
100 pushups (http://bit.ly/3yr2vO) Week 2, Day 2: 46 this time, and it felt odd when I realized earlier I was looking FORWARD to this...
Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
2:31 am
100 pushups (http://bit.ly/3yr2vO) Week 2, Day 1: 37 today. Also, getting this close to the floor, I really need a new vacuum. SRSLY.
Saturday, July 26th, 2008
12:13 am
100 pushups (http://bit.ly/3yr2vO) Week 1, Day 3: Sunday, felt like murder to do 8. Just now, I did 41. In other news, OHGODITHURTSITHURTS
Thursday, July 24th, 2008
5:31 am
100 pushups (http://bit.ly/3yr2vO) Week 1, Day 2: When it said the first round was 9 reps, didn't think I could do it. Amazingly, I could.
Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008
2:58 am
100 Pushups (http://bit.ly/3yr2vO) Week 1, Day 1: Oh sweet baby Jesus, this hurts...
Friday, March 7th, 2008
12:01 pm
Werd Nerd-ery
I am historically bad at instigating memes. And I mean historically bad, both in the sense that in my history I've been bad at it, and my bad-ness is on a historical scale. But, something mactavish linked to on Twitter today inspired me to have another go at trying to coax sheep-like following out of others. So, without further weak analogy, I give you...

The Twitter Pangram Challenge!

It all started with mactavish linking to this from her Twitter-stream. That prompted me to respond with this. And that got me to thinking, which is rarely a good thing. So here's the challenge:

  • Familiarize yourself with pangrams, if you aren't already. And forget about using the "quick brown fox" one, this is about original thought.
  • Write one of your own. It needs to be a complete sentence, with clear thought. And grammatically correct, please. Dropping articles is annoying. And for goodness' sake, none of that silly text-speak, even if you do normally use it for Twitter.
  • If the sentence doesn't use the word "pangram", make a follow-up tweet that refers to it by its perma-link URL.
  • Whichever one actually contains "pangram", preface it with a "#", like "#pangram". This is known as a "hashtag" in Twitter-ese, and using it makes it easy for others to track people who are giving this a go. (See also, http://hashtags.org/.)
  • The goal is to be as short as possible within the normal 140-character Twitter text-box limitation. All punctuation counts, of course, except for the hash-tag if your pangram sentence itself contains "#pangram" (err, that is, the word counts, but not the hash). The pangram mactavish linked to was 141 characters. Mine was 118 (I'll be re-tweeting it with the hash-tag when I finish writing this).
  • Bonus consideration for referring to either or both of "Twitter" and/or "pangram".
  • Multiple and or revised entries encouraged.
  • I have no real prize to offer. I'm not even employed right now. But it's Friday and I have oodles of spare time on my hands.

Go forth now and pangram like there's no tomorrow. Or something. Feel free to respond here if I don't already follow you on Twitter (but I will be using the watch feature to keep an eye on them). And by all means, spread this far and wide, here on LJ, on your own Twitter stream, etc.

Current Mood: creative
Tuesday, March 4th, 2008
12:31 am
Happy B-Day to Me
Thanks to everyone who sent me good wishes, whether here, in email or via cutesy e-cards. It's been a pretty good day overall... started with a good on-site interview with a company that is a mere 10-minute walk from my front door. Two other phone interviews that went well, and three more scheduled for tomorrow. One on Wednesday, and an on-site interview in Berkeley on Friday. I don't think I was this busy when I was actually employed...

Ending the day with a nice IM chat with someone new that I've met, with a sleeping cat to either side of me. Yeah, overall a pretty nice day.
12:27 am
F-ing Comcast P.O.S. DVR didn't f-ing record the f-ing Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles f-ing season finale. I actually liked that show, and now I have to wait for it to show up on BitTorrent sites.
Tuesday, February 19th, 2008
12:51 pm
Monday, February 11th, 2008
12:38 pm
Two Tech Tidbits
I seem to have chosen the wrong side on the high-def DVD conflict. It was bad-enough when more and more major studios announced they would only produce hi-def content in Blu Ray format, now Netflix announced they will only carry Blu Ray and will phase out their HD DVD stock. Guess which format I (foolishly) chose?

(I was also going to grouse that I had to learn about this via my news feeds, rather than Netflix being considerate-enough to inform me. But as I was writing this, I got the note from Netflix.)

In other news, some Muslims are signing an online petition demanding that Wikipedia remove images that depict the prophet Mohammed. My reaction to this is, I admit, colored by my atheism, but nonetheless: get over it. First of all, online petitions are lame and ineffective. Not only can signatories not be verified, as I understand it a large number of the signers are anonymous out of concern for backlash or something. This rather defeats your purpose. Secondly, and much more importantly, you do not have the right to dictate terms to Wikipedia. Or anyone else who isn't Muslim, for that matter. You believe that pictures of Muhammed are blasphemy. Christians consider willful suicide (especially that which kills non-military bystanders) to be pretty offensive, too. How about focusing on the renegade elements within your own house, before offering interior decoration advice to others? Some have said that it shows insensitivity to Muslims, but Wikipedia also features detailed, politcally-neutral (well, in theory at least) articles on the rise of Germany's Third Reich in the years prior to World War II. Would you have those articles censored of any images of the swastika, out of concern for the feelings of Jews who are either survivors of the holocaust, or related to survivors? Simply put, every religion has something they consider so offensive it should be hidden away and never allowed to see the light of day. You aren't special. You are being treated just as equally and fairly as any other faith on Wikipedia. My opinion on this is not because I particularly dislike Islam, at least not any more or less than I feel towards most organized religions.

Except, maybe, for the Scientologists. But they're just nuts, and you really don't want to be associated with them even accidentally or in passing.

Current Mood: aggravated
Thursday, February 7th, 2008
5:39 pm
Following Like Any Other Sheep
I suppose it's this meme or the usual Valentine's stuff like 021408 or Valentinr (which I did last year, and it bombed spectacularly for me). By the way, having filled this out twice for others I am happy to accept a link to your answers in someone else's journal, with the 5-6 host-specific questions (10, 13, 17, 18, etc.) tacked on after.

2:37 pm
Firefly Geekery
Steven Brust has written and released a Firefly-themed e-book under a Creative Commons license.
Friday, February 1st, 2008
6:12 pm
Best Advertising Copy I've Read in a While
For the "Peggy" LED pegboard display kit being sold by Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories:

This is an easy way to drive a lot of LEDs-- up to 625-- in a big matrix. You can make an LED sign for your window, a geeky valentine for your sweetie, one bad-ass birthday card, or freak the holy bejesus out of Boston. Your call.

Never forget.

Current Mood: amused
12:27 pm
Especially for britgeekgirl

Current Mood: creative
1:01 am
Mark Ronson feat. Lily Allen, "Oh My God"
I'm still deciding if I prefer this version to the Kaiser Chiefs in terms of musicality, but the video kicks ass. If only Lily Allen actually had that much junk in the trunk IRL:

(Hat tip to bonniegrrl for the video, as the versions I found searching YouTube had embedding disabled...)
Thursday, January 31st, 2008
11:59 am
Heckuva Job, Karz-y
Welcome to the Afghanistan we've helped create:

Sentenced to death: Afghan who dared to read about women's rights


A young man, a student of journalism, is sentenced to death by an Islamic court for downloading a report from the internet. The sentence is then upheld by the country's rulers. This is Afghanistan – not in Taliban times but six years after "liberation" and under the democratic rule of the West's ally Hamid Karzai.

The fate of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh has led to domestic and international protests, and deepening concern about erosion of civil liberties in Afghanistan. He was accused of blasphemy after he downloaded a report from a Farsi website which stated that Muslim fundamentalists who claimed the Koran justified the oppression of women had misrepresented the views of the prophet Mohamed.

To be fair, it's not as though Karzai himself has approved this. But this was supposedly the sort of thing that was supposed to stop after getting rid of the Taliban (who, it should be noted, is on the comeback trail as well).

Current Mood: cynical
Saturday, January 26th, 2008
6:55 pm
Movie Review: Teeth
Teeth is a tender little indie film about a teen-age girl's blossoming into womanhood. Except that something goes terribly wrong.

Actually, Teeth is a low-budget horror flick in which the only tenderness is the tenderizing that gets brought upon the would-be rapists and other no-good'ers. Jess Weixler plays Dawn, a high school virgin who's a popular spokesperson for the "Promise" abstinence movement, which teaches other teens that their virginity is a gift to be shared with their spouse, not a hand-out to everyone who comes along. After a presentation, she meets Tobey, a new boy at her school and red-plastic-costume-jewelry-ring-wearing Promise pledge holder. She's so smitten she catches herself becoming aroused at the fantasy of the two of them... getting married. But Tobey isn't as nice as he seems, and tries to force himself on her only to learn her terrible secret. Her own horror turns to cold acceptance as she learns what potential this has for generally improving the world as a whole.

The movie itself has a fairly modest budget, and the only actor I recognized from any previous work was John Hensley (who plays on "Nip/Tuck", and here portrays Dawn's tattooed, inconsiderate, weed-smoking stepbrother). There is plenty of allegory and no small amount of intentional (and maybe some unintentional) sexual imagery in the shapes found in nature and in buildings. There are swipes taken at the embarrassing state of sex-education in schools these days and at the "body as a gift" mentality. And possibly the grossest on-screen act performed by a dog outside of underground porn films. The last few minutes before the credits roll, the last look Dawn gives the camera, say all that needs to be said about women understanding and embracing the power of their own sexuality.

Not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. Joe Bob says "Check it out!"

Note: I saw this at the CinéArts Palo Alto, where they got two reels swapped accidentally. This shouldn't be a problem for anyone else, but the impression I got from the theater manager (who graciously gave me a refund) was that the reels are/were mis-labeled. If so, and if no one tells the management at a given theater, this could go unchecked. Just a heads-up in case you decide to go see this...

Current Mood: entertained
Friday, January 25th, 2008
12:34 pm
A Brief Distraction
From a picture posted by warrenellis:

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