Monday, July 02, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
Only Two More Sleeps!
Only four more sleeps until the blogger summit and I can put live faces to the pictures, words, and voices I've been following. Still a mixture of nervousness and excitement about this one.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Nothing much to report
Inspite of that I'm still finding time to have a bit of fun on the weekends. I met up with the guys Friday night for the Fairytales film fest. The movie was "Outing Riley". In a nutshell it was about a guy coming out to his siblings after his parents have passed away and how they react. He had two older brothers, a younger brother, and a younger sister. Somehow that seems vaguely familiar. Saturday we finally made it to an ARGRA dance. We've planned on going before but always seemed to end up staying in or heading to the club. As Jeff mentioned we're not so hot on Twisted at the moment so we actually made it to the dance this time. When we first got there we weren't sure what we had gotten ourselves into. Being a gay rodeo dance they were playing country music but after a couple songs they started playing more dance music. Seeing two guys two stepping around the floor was kind of neat but I probably won't run out and start taking lessons. We were all relieved to learn they still had a buffet. We had heard rumors that they didn't anymore. I really enjoyed the dance. The atmosphere was more relaxed than the club and sometimes it's fun to just have a night out with your friends without assessing every guy that walks by on his potential.
Hopefully work will slow down soon so I can try some of this work/life balance thing that so many people talk about these days. At least the trip to SF is cooming up soon so I'll have a break then. I'm also heading home in July for my brother's wedding although I might get recruited to help wih preparations but it will still be a break from taxes.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Canada's poppy quarters caused sensational warnings of 'spy coins' in U.S.
Mon May 7, 4:49 PM
By Ted Bridis
WASHINGTON (AP) - An odd-looking Canadian quarter with a bright red flower was the culprit behind a false espionage warning from the U.S. Defense Department about mysterious coins with radio frequency transmitters, The Associated Press has learned.
The harmless "poppy quarter" was so unfamiliar to suspicious U.S. army contractors travelling in Canada that they filed confidential espionage accounts about them. The worried contractors described the coins as "filled with something man-made that looked like nano-technology," according to once-classified U.S. government reports and e-mails obtained by the AP.
The silver-coloured 25-cent piece features the red image of a poppy, Canada's flower of remembrance, inlaid over a maple leaf. The unorthodox quarter is identical to the coins pictured and described as suspicious in the contractors' accounts.
The supposed nano-technology on the coin actually was a protective coating the Royal Canadian Mint applied to prevent the poppy's red colour from rubbing off. The mint produced nearly 30 million such quarters in 2004 commemorating Canada's 117,000 war dead.
"It did not appear to be electronic (analog) in nature or have a power source," wrote one U.S. contractor, who discovered the coin in the cup holder of a rental car. "Under high power microscope, it appeared to be complex consisting of several layers of clear, but different material, with a wire-like mesh suspended on top."
The confidential accounts led to a sensational warning from the Defense Security Service, an agency of the Defense Department, that mysterious coins with radio frequency transmitters were found planted on U.S. contractors with classified security clearances on at least three separate occasions between October 2005 and January 2006 as the contractors travelled through Canada.
"We'll have a good laugh over it," said John Regitko, who writes a newsletter for a leading coin-collecting organization, the Canadian Numismatic Association. "We never suspected there was such a thing (as spy coins) anyway."
Regitko predicted the quarter will become especially popular among collectors because of its infamy as the culprit behind the spy warning, despite the quarter's wide availability. "Everybody has some in their drawer at home," he said.
One contractor believed someone had placed two of the quarters in an outer coat pocket after the contractor had emptied the pocket hours earlier. "Coat pockets were empty that morning and I was keeping all of my coins in a plastic bag in my inner coat pocket," the contractor wrote.
The Defense Department subsequently acknowledged it could never substantiate the espionage warning, but until now it has never disclosed the details behind the embarrassing episode.
In Canada, senior intelligence officials had expressed annoyance with the American spy-coin warnings as they tried to learn more about the oddball claims.
"That story about Canadians planting coins in the pockets of defence contractors will not go away," Luc Portelance, now deputy director for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, wrote in a January e-mail to a subordinate. "Could someone tell me more? Where do we stand and what's the story on this?"
Others in Canada's spy service also were searching for answers. "We would be very interested in any more detail you may have on the validity of the comment related to the use of Canadian coins in this manner," another intelligence official wrote in an e-mail. "If it is accurate, are they talking industrial or state espionage? If the latter, who?" The identity of the e-mail's recipient was censored.
Intelligence and technology experts were flabbergasted over the warning when it was first publicized earlier this year. The warning suggested that such transmitters could be used surreptitiously to track the movements of people carrying the coins.
"I thought the whole thing was preposterous, to think you could tag an individual with a coin and think they wouldn't give it away or spend it," said H. Keith Melton, a leading intelligence historian.
But Melton said the army contractors properly reported their suspicions. "You want contractors or any government personnel to report anything suspicious," he said. "You can't have the potential target evaluating whether this was an organized attack or a fluke."
The Defense Security Service disavowed its warning about spy coins after an international furor. The United States said it never substantiated the contractors' claims and performed an internal review to determine how the false information was included in a 29-page published report about espionage concerns.
The Defense Security Service never examined the suspicious coins, spokeswoman Cindy McGovern said. "We know where we made the mistake," she said. "The information wasn't properly vetted. While these coins aroused suspicion, there ultimately was nothing there."
A numismatist consulted by the AP, Dennis Pike of Canadian Coin & Currency near Toronto, quickly matched a grainy image and physical descriptions of the suspect coins in the contractors' confidential accounts to the 25-cent poppy piece.
"It's not uncommon at all," Pike said. He added that the coin's protective coating glows peculiarly under ultraviolet light. "That may have been a little bit suspicious," he said.
Some of the U.S. documents the AP obtained were classified "Secret/Noforn," meaning they were never supposed to be viewed by foreigners, even the United States' closest allies. The government censored parts of the files, citing national security reasons, before turning over copies under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
Nothing in the documents, except the reference to nanotechnology, explained how the contractors' accounts evolved into a full-blown warning about spy coins with radio frequency transmitters. Many passages were censored, including the names of contractors and details about where they worked and their projects.
But there were indications the accounts should have been taken lightly. Next to one blacked-out sentence was this warning: "This has not been confirmed as of yet."
The Canadian intelligence documents, which also were censored, were turned over to the AP for $5 under Canada's Access to Information Act. Canada cited rules for protecting against subversive or hostile activities to explain why it censored the papers.
Associated Press writer Beth Duff-Brown contributed to this story from Toronto.
And these are the people that are supposed to be protecting the free world? These coins were in general circulation. I can't believe they didn't notice receiving them when they got change at every convenience store. What did the they think? The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) was posting operatives in stores just so we could plant spy gear on US agents? I think we have better things to do with our time.
(I hope RD aka Mitch doesn't mind me stealing his format)
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Whatever will be...
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Chad posted some videos today that got me thinking. I laughed at them too but something Cohen, the guy in the videos, said caught my attention. Usually when you hear ex-gay movement you immediately think of the religious right. In his interview though, Cohen asserts that being gay is a choice and that if you want to live that way great but he shouldn't be forced to live that way if he chooses not to. While the religious right would definitely agree that it is a choice they are in complete disagreement with Cohen about what choices are acceptable. This raised some questions because being from a religious background I always assumed that the only reasons not to be gay were moral ones. But Cohen doesn't make that claim. Instead he says that he just knew that it wasn't right for him (and by right I mean correct vs. incorrect not good vs. evil)
To consider this fully I started at the beginning. Is being gay a choice or are we born that way? Personally, I don't think that being gay is a choice the same way that picking a major in college is. I just don't see any evidence to support this. How many people do you know that have said "I'm tired of being straight. I think I'll be gay from now on (or at least until I change my mind again)." Not very many. Instead you see people saying "Why am I gay? I don't want to be this way." Usually this is due to the stigma associated with homosexuality. So the only option left is that people are born gay right? Not necessarily. I think the answer is both. I think the reason that science hasn't given us any definitive answers is because there are different causes of homosexuality.
I happen to believe that I was born this way. As far back as I can remember, I have always related better with girls. I played dolls and house with my sister and cousins, in elementary school my best friends were girls, and as an adult I find it very awkward trying to interact with straight guys in social settings. There are also things about me that fit in with some of the research. My mother was in a car accident when she was pregnant with me which some studies suggest may have exposed me to different levels of hormones inutero and therefore affecting my sexuality. I am the third of four boys. Some studies have found a correlation between birth order and incidence of homosexuality. I am also left handed. Left handedness is higher among the gay population suggesting a genetic link.
While it may be true that I was born gay, does that mean that everyone that is gay is born that way? I don't think so. Take a look at allergies for example. Some are caused by a genetic predisposition, others are environmental and some are even caused by traumatic events. I think homosexuality is the same. Some (probably most) are born that way however I believe other people can become that way for various reasons, some of which may involve a traumatic event. This is where I think choosing to be gay occurs. The choice isn't whether or not to be gay, it's whether or not to stop being gay.
This leads me to my next conclusion. If some people become gay because of some influence on them in their past then theoretically, addressing this issue in some way (reparative therapy) would cause them to cease being gay. The problem with this is that the religious right tries to apply this to all gays because they assume that being gay is a sin and so there must be some way of fixing it. I think many of the problems in our world are caused by people taking a one-sided approach to things and not keeping an open mind. If we as homosexuals can't be open to the possibility that reparative therapy may work for some individuals then we're no better than the extreme right who say those that can't change aren't trying hard enough. If someone is born gay then that is who they are. It's an inherent part of their make up and I don't think they can change. At the same time, if someone is molested as a child and their whole mental , emotional and sexual development is destroyed then they may develop same-sex attraction. I believe that therapy to deal with these issues would result in them reverting back to their original sexual orientation.
While I may find Cohen's methods unorthodox, if he is able to accept that some people are happy being gay then I must accept that some people choose not to be. I do hope that Cohen considers the origins of homosexuality in the men that come to him for help and why they want to change because I do believe that attempts at changing someone who is born gay will only end in pain and suffering.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Luck O' the Irish
Here's to you and here's to me,
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Ugly (part 2)
It says VIP
Wow I've never even been an IP
Do I have too?
Well I guess I better start eating potatoes.
Don't dance near the guy with his hand under his coat.
The chin is all about justice.
The bandaid in the bowl turned me off.
Two weeks ago that idiot didn't even walk upright.
Have we met?
We're not even meeting now!
I liked the part where Betty's nephew breaks into a one man show of Hairspray on the subway to catch his very straight homophobic father up on the show because they're running late.
I've been noticing lately that there seems to be more acceptance of gays in the media. For a while now there have been gay characters in sitcoms and movies which mostly protray gay stereotypes and people don't seem to mind it. They may even allow themselves to laugh at the humour. But recently I've noticed that there have been gay couples on reality shows. A couple of weeks ago I was watching the news on Radio-Canada (the French CBC) and they had a peice on same-sex parenting. Granted the couple featured were francophones living in SF but the fact that it was on the primary news network for French speaking Canada was impressive. Then around the same time a caught an episode of Your Money or Your Wife that featured a gay couple. The show is about couples going through financial trouble because one of them has very poor money skills and teaches them how to deal with their debt and live within their means. Just today I caught an episode of Clean Sweep that also featured a gay couple. The show did nothing to hide the fact that they were living together and slept in the same bed. The rooms that were redone were the master bedroom and the home office. I find this encouraging because it normalizes being gay. These are real life people living together in a relationship and struggling with the same issues that every other couple struggles with (money and clutter).
The "gay population" seems to be going through a generational shift. Some are starting to question the value of becoming normal. They like being unique or "queer". On the one hand I can understand this. As being gay becomes less of an issue the gay villages start breaking up becuase it's no longer as important to live in close proximity to other gay people and with this comes a decrease in the sense of community that gays share. But on the other hand, this sense of normalcy and acceptance is what those that have gone before us have strived for. If we turn our backs on this then does that make all the suffering and abuse they endured worthless? One imortant aspect of this trend to me is an increased sense of security. Having only recently started going out on the scene (such that it is), I mentioned to Jeff that I was beginning to understand the importance of gay bars. It's a place where you can be yourself. It might be nice to go to different clubs but you just can't let yourself go completely there. You just never know if some straight redneck, indoctrinated by the AFA, is going to see you get a little too close to your BF and then be waiting for you outside later. Even if a sociopath did go to the gay bar the odds that you would be targeted are greatly diminished because you're surrounded by gay people.
To me, a loss of community is a small price to pay for my personal safety outside the gay ghetto. Besides, what's wrong with a house in the 'burbs with 2.5 kids?
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
"Oh my, there's 'name'. (insert sideways glance and eyeroll) He's Russian and they say he has a big cock."
"But stay away from him. He'll sleep with anything that has a hole."
"There goes 'so and so'."
"Didn't you sleep with him"
"Is it true he's 'small'."
"Like the size of the neck of a beer bottle?"
"Ooo, he's hot"
"Yeah but he's a bottom. Why are all the hot ones bottoms?"
Ahh yes. It's the only way to do a gay bar. You have to bring your own commentators along for the play by play (my apologies for the sports analogy).
Things are starting to pick up at work too with the tax season approaching. Tomorrow I have Doug and Jeff crayoned in for lunch and in the evening I'm going for cocktails with the firm's pride group. The head of the firm's pride committee is in town from Toronto so we're taking him out. Nothing planned for Thursday yet but my sinuses are producing mucous at an alarming rate so I should probably take it easy and get some rest. Friday I am on a course all day and then have a function at my boss's house. Then comes the weekend. I don't think I have any plans yet. I really shoud look into getting a personal assistant. All of the other celeberties have them. Ugg! I just realized it's only Tuesday. Oh well. Hope everyone has a happy hump day.