Saturday, January 10, 2015

Extinguish Intolerance

If you follow me on twitter, you know I've been on a single-issue rant these past few days. I apologize if I've been annoying, especially since I've been known to unfollow people for less.

I've been following the lead of super-blogger Joe My God in trying to hijack the hashtag #ExtinguishIntolerance. The anti-gay segment of the religious right has been using this hashtag to fan the flames of righteous indignation over the recent firing of Atlanta Fire Chief, Kelvin Cochran.

For those who haven't been following this story, Cochran was put on suspension a month ago for not properly clearing a self-published book – written in his capacity as AFRD Chief – with the city's ethics board. During this suspension, with the investigation ongoing, Cochran was told by his boss, the Mayor, to not discuss the case publicly. Had Cochran complied with this gag order, he'd be back at work leading this city's thousands of fire fighters and this story would be over. Instead he got himself fired.

This case would have been universally cut-and-dry had the book not been about Cochran's Christian faith, including this nonjudgmental tidbit:
“Uncleanness — whatever is opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, all other forms of sexual perversion.”
Cue the cries of Christian persecution. (Not religious persecution, mind you. Can you imagine their reaction had he written a book about the glory of Islam and distributed to his employees?)

Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal constitution says it best:
"Claims that Christians are being persecuted in this overwhelmingly Christian country — especially here in Georgia, a state that is more Christian that most — ought to be taken skeptically. When the majority sect cries persecution, it is generally not persecution at all but frustration that its majority status does not translate into the deference that they believe they deserve. There is a very important difference between the two, because that deference to the religious majority comes at the expense of the minority, which undercuts rather than protects religious liberty."

This is what this kerfuffle boils down to. While an ever-growing number see public expressions of anti-gay sentiment as abhorrent and old-fashioned, there's this element of society that can't abide seeing their world-view going the way of the dinosaurs. Hence the push for all these "religious liberty" laws. This is them fighting tooth and nail to preserve an environment where their anti-gay bias is not just tolerated, but legally condoned. They don't just want freedom of speech, they want their freedom of speech to be consequence-free; something the First Amendment was never meant to guarantee.

This is why a case of procedural discipline escalated to willful insubornation then on to full Christian martyrdom. Those now screaming "religious persecution" and "freedom of speech" are hypocrites, ignorant to the facts of this case. What they're really upset about is the light of dawn exposing them for what they are. Plain and simple bigots.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Craft Epiphany

There. The holiday decorations have been returned to storage for another year. Well, for ten months anyway.

You know that song about the twelve days of Christmas? Well, technically, we're still within those Twelve Days which extends from Christmas to Epiphany, which is tomorrow. So let me be the last to wish you one final Merry Christmas.

For the first time in my life, I didn't have a Christmas tree. With two new kittens in the house, I wasn't even going to attempt erecting a holiday jungle-gym strictly for their pleasure. Maybe next year. Maybe.

Although I have to admit it was nice not having the chore of taking a tree down this year, it was still a challenge making sure the house contained the requisite amount of holiday spirit. For help with this I relied on the Crafty Lumberjacks for inspiration. These guys make owning a glue gun hot. I know, glue guns are supposed to be hot. You know what I mean.

So following the lead of my Crafty Lumberjack friends, I'm going to walk you through the holiday craft project that was the centerpiece of my Christmas table...

First make your pattern cut-outs. I used file folders
which had just the right amount of stiffness.

Make your gingerbread dough. You can google the recipe.
I searched for "structural gingerbread". It's still technically
edible. I guess. But, ick.

Roll your dough to 1/4" directly on the parchment paper and use your
patterns to cut out the shapes you need. Don't lift or move the
individual pieces or they'll distort. Leave them right right where you
cut them and lift the entire parchment onto your baking sheet.
The trimmings can be re-rolled to make other pieces.

Bake about 20 minutes to a light golden brown.
It's best to let the pieces cool completely before trying
to assemble. Ideally overnight.

I added powdered cocoa to some of the dough
to create pieces with a contrasting color.

Next whip up some royal icing. Again, you can find the recipe online,
but it's just powdered sugar and egg whites. Most recipes call for
pasteurized or powdered egg whites. But I think part of the thrill of
building gingerbread houses is the risk of salmonella.

Start with the first wall of your structure using the
icing as a structural glue.

Royal icing sets quickly, but don't rush it. Give
each seam a few minutes to bond before moving on.

I use canned goods to hold my walls in place
while the icing solidifies. In the mean time I
move on to my gingerbread men.

Food coloring in water makes a nice paint that
retains the edible quality of your masterpiece.

I thought chocolate cookie crumbs stuck to the icing would make
a nice scruffy beard.

Now I add the finishing touches to my project. Baggies filled
with icing and candies make fun little trash bags. And chocolate
cookies make nice old, abandoned tires.

Now I add the Gingerbread Stevie. 

Ha! Gingerbread Stevie kind of looks like the Abominable
Snowman from "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer".

Wait... What's Gingerbread Stevie doing behind a gingerbread dumpster?


Thursday, January 1, 2015

My Resolution

This is my resolution.

For the year 2015, I will not have sex.

Why? I want to give blood again. Like I used to.

I think I can do this. It's only twelve months. Fifty-two weeks. Three hundred and sixty-five days...? Right?