Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More on SC Constitutional Amendment Question 1.

estaminet asked: "Is your proposed amendment worded like ours [Virginia's], i.e. so vaguely that it threatens many other issues, like legal recourse for victims of domestic violence, etc.?"

Thanks for asking! You bet it is!

Here is how the question will appear on the state ballot:
Question 1

1. Must Article XVII of the Constitution of this State be amended by adding Section 15 so as to provide that in this State and its political subdivisions, a marriage between one man and one woman is the only lawful domestic union that shall be valid or recognized; that this State and its political subdivisions shall not create, recognize, or give effect to a legal status, right, or claim created by another jurisdiction respecting any other domestic union, however denominated; that this amendment shall not impair any right or benefit extended by the State or its political subdivisions other than a right or benefit arising from a domestic union that is not valid or recognized in this State; and that this amendment shall not prohibit or limit the ability of parties other than the State or its political subdivisions from entering into contracts or other legal instruments?

Yes []

No []

Explanation of above:

This amendment provides that the institution of marriage in South Carolina consists only of the union between one man and one woman. No other domestic union is valid and legal. The State and its political subdivisions are prohibited from creating or recognizing any right or claim respecting any other domestic union, whatever it may be called, or from giving effect to any such right or benefit recognized in any other state or jurisdiction.

However, this amendment also makes clear it does not impair rights or benefits extended by this State, or its political subdivisions not arising from other domestic unions, nor does the amendment prohibit private parties from entering into contracts or other legal instruments.

As Uncle Zoloft has noted, here are a few things that the so-called explanation does not mention:
> South Carolina will directly violate one of the bedrocks of our Constitution and country, "equal protection under the law."

> South Carolina same-sex couples and their children will be relegated to second class citizens and denied rights accorded to every other South Carolinian.

> Government will tell state institutions and private corporations that they may not offer benefits to same-sex couples and their families.

> South Carolina will directly violate "the full faith and credit" clause of the Constitution. Same-sex couples who have been married in Massachusetts or another country will find their legally recognized marriages nullified in our state.

>Common law marriage will be eliminated.

> Domestic violence laws, protections and support systems will fail to include same-sex couples.

And as Walter Ezell pointed out in today's G-ville News, "It will complicate matters for the state's universities, in outlawing benefits for same-sex partners of the universities' employees."

Monday, October 30, 2006

I'm afraid to watch.

Those of you not living in the Great State of South Carolina may not be dreading next Tuesday as much as I am. Or maybe it is next Tuesday night, or maybe next Wednesday, but probably just next Tuesday.

Some of you may even be crossing your fingers in advance of election day, hopeful that some incumbent or another in your state will get the big thanks-for-the-memories boot. I am not particularly worried about that, though. I have long since given up hoping that Democratic challengers will have their day in the state I have come to call home.

But what I am really dreading is what I am nearly certain will be the passing of Amendment 1. You can read a pretty decent summary of the provision and the hatred and intolerance it will write into our state constitution here.

There have been opinion pieces and letters back and forth in the G-ville News for the past several weeks. The PP even wrote a pretty good letter (not published yet--in true G-News fashion, it will probably be published next Wednesday).

So why am I so certain? Not just because this entire region is held firmly in the grasp of baptofascists. Not even just because we tend to be a redder than red state. But partly because it was only in my first year of living here that interracial marriage became legal.


I clearly remember driving to work one day in the first week or so of my first year of teaching here, and getting disgusted by a long exchange of homophobic "humor" on a radio show. I changed the station, only to land on another such exchange. Where have I landed, I wondered in despair, trying not to arrive at the office in tears.

A lot has changed since then, although not as much as I might hope. There has been a lot more willingness to discuss BGLT topics on campus, and our university non-discrimination clause now even mentions sexual orientation. I remember being warned when I was first here about members of my department making thinly veiled threats to other members about revealing their orientation to unfriendly administrators. People speak more openly now. You still hear plenty of jokes about queers, and all too many people are comfortable snickering at them, but still. It's better.

Tuesday may be a big reminder that it is not that much better. The PP keeps trying to point to signs that the tide is turning, even here. He even tries to read the drive for this amendment as a sign that things are changing. But it's a constitutional amendment, I remind him. The constitution!

If you know anyone here in SC, or if you live in SC, or if there is a similar provision on your ballot this election day, please get your ass, or your friend's ass to the polls.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Stump the DJ.

So the PP got some new speakers and speaker wire, to hook up some music for us in our new fab living room. We have our old stereo back in the den, with the TV, and we have been known to play it loud enough to hear it in the dining room, but still. So now we have speakers, and he is on the verge of wiring them (through a P2C2E) to play music from my computer.

Given that Halloween is just around the corner, and that holiday is a big one in our new neighborhood (our neighbors claim that it is impossible to buy enough candy), he asked me to pull some scary music to play when he opens the door.

It turns out this is harder than either of us expected.

Sure, sure there is the toccata and fugue that folks have played from their Halloween porches ever since the baroque period. And soundtrack music from Psycho and such. But what else?

I tried out "Dead Man's Party," but he pointed out that lyrics don't count, and the music is not scary. Ditto with "Thriller" and "Freaks Come Out at Night," although we are considering looping that great Vincent Price laugh from the former. "Bela Lugosi's Dead" did not scare him at all, and he noted that the kiddies will not know who Bela Lugosi even is--let alone that they should be very afraid of Bauhaus. We tried Sex Mob, whose rendition of "Live and Let Die" on Din of Iniquity is certainly a little creepy, but really the only thing ultimately scary there is how much people can drink and still play music. And Elvis Costello's "Spooky Girlfriend" is hardly intended for the 12 and under crowd. I pointed out to him that any child who could listen to Pink Martini's version of "Que Sera, Sera" without fainting of fright must have nerves of steel, and he conceded that one. I think the scariest stuff I've found so far is Bone Machine, which certainly does not require the lyrics to be creepy, although they are scary in themselves.

But really, I am stuck. Ideas?

Toss frantically.

I'm not sure whether I beat the Gurgling Cod to the Sunday NYTimes, or whether he hadn't noticed a food-related item in the Book Review, or whether he is just not leaping fingertips-first to his computer at such an early post-DST hour, but I can tell you that I read Henry Alford's review of Amy Sedaris's new book on entertaining myself, and did not hear about it on someone else's blog.

I imagine that you too will want to run out to find the book, especially once you read this section about "freshening up her cheese balls":
This method of replenishing and re-forming round globs of nuts and cheese so they can be served at a second gathering is a good shorthand for Sedaris's cooking style, which is the heart of the book (more than 200 recipes are included). In the kitchen, Sedaris is a magpie, a recycler of both foodstuffs and already published recipes. She is not afraid of the phrase "two cups potato chips, crushed."

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Random 10: I'm not a circus star I don't need a bodyguard Edition.

Dedicated readers of this dedicated foe of evil may now be asking themselves, "Since when did this become an exclusively Random 10 blog?" To which I respond, after protesting that I just wrote yet another post about swimming, "What is there worth saying that cannot be followed by a list of 10 musical tracks?"

Besides, I have been too surly and stressed out lately to say anything not laced with profanity.

But because you are all so nice and patient, here is one piece of free advice for you: do not believe anyone who tells you that it would work to spend time in Tulsa without a car. Do not believe them when they claim that you could call a cab, or use a hotel shuttle. These are lies. If you do not have a car in that city full of amazing art deco buildings that are largely standing empty, you will eat every meal in the hotel. Every. Last. One.

1. "Like the Way She Moves," Chris Isaak
2. "Love Minus Zero," Leon Russell (Leon Russell and the Shelter People)
3. "Functional," Thelonious Monk (Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane)
4. "Love Among the Sailors," Laurie Anderson (Talk Normal: Laurie Anderson Anthology, disk 2)
5. Track 9, Faye Wang (a disk whose title and whose track titles I cannot read)
6. "If Only I Had Known," Peter Erskine Trio (Time Being)
7. "Hop Along, Let's Get Her," Henry Morrisson, John Davis and group (Southern Journey, vol. 12: Earliest Times)
8. "Mississippi," John Linnell (State Songs)
9. "Shy," Peter Murphy (Deep)
10. "It Takes Two," Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock

p.s. According to my internet sources, the real lyric is "I'm not a sucker so I don't need a bodyguard," but I like it better the way I heard it back in circa 1989. So there.

Going postal.

Our new swimteam participates in the US Masters Swimming Postal Pentathlon, where you swim five events in one session and submit all the times as a group. They call it a postal meet because you swim the event in your own pool and then mail in your results. There are three different distance groups. The sprint, which we did Wednesday night, has a 50 butterfly, 50 backstroke, 50 breaststroke, 50 free style, and 100 individual medley. Then there is the middle distance event, with 100s of each stroke plus a 200 IM. And then the “ironman”—200s of each stroke plus a 400 IM.

Too bad I’ll be out of town visiting family for that last one.

Postal events are a little strange, compared with real meets. For one thing, they happen during practice time, which may or may not be ass early in the morning or else at the end of a workday. Also, even though you might dive from blocks, the adrenaline levels are not quite the same. Plus no officials, so a little less pressure on the legality of turns. But all this to say, postal meet times are hard to compare with regulation meet times.

The way we did it was to warm up for 30 minutes, then swim one race every fifteen minutes. We swam in two heats, and happily the PP and I got to swim in the same heat for all the events. If you read about the Columbia meet already, you might already be anticipating the rematch on the 50 free.

This meet confirmed something I already knew: that I am not so hot at the 50 distance. Each of the races felt fine, but I did not really feel like I hit any kind of stride in any of them, until the 100 IM, which felt like an almost perfectly swum race for me. I did have a best time in the 50 back, but I had not swum that race since April 2004, and after all I have been working pretty hard to get that stroke together. Our coach even said one of the other coaches was commenting on how good my backstroke looked. (But recently our coach had noted that when I’m swimming backstroke I look like a turtle on its back. Nice.) But it was a lot of fun to do these races with the other teammates—and heck, practice was a LOT shorter than usual, even if the intensity was higher.

And the PP did whoop up on my ass during the 50 free. We were both of our regular meet pace, but he beat me by about a second. I’m sad to say I never got a lead on him, and by the end all I could see out of the corner of my goggles was his bright red swimsuit.

Bad news is that racing at night is no good for my sleeping. I suppose I could have predicted that.

Swimming the 100 IM made me excited about the middle distance races, which we’re doing the Monday before Thanksgiving. Stay tuned.

50 FL :34.48
50 BA :38.69
50 BR :37.89
50 FR :34.30
100 IM 1:17.29

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wednesday Random 10: Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain Edition

I've been tinkering with my mp3 player: after about a year and a half, I have taken the classical off.

Why, you ask?

I don't listen to it that way.

I do listen to plenty of classical music, mostly on the CD player in my study, and sometimes on the CD player in the living room, and occasionally from my computer's speakers, where I have all my CDs digitized (13,950 tracks and counting).

But I do not listen to it in the car, because the car noise (whether from our noisy old car or the open windows) makes it hard to deal with highly variable dynamics. And mostly these days, I listen to the mp3 player in the car--where I also enjoy playing with the random feature. And frankly, I don't care for random programming that moves back and forth between, say, Gogol Bordello and the slow movement of a Vivaldi concerto. I am all about eclectic, but that does not work for my moods.

So for the last couple of days I have been enjoying Radio Isis on my new long commute. My mp3 player is very fond of Howlin' Wolf, it turns out, as he makes a better than statistically likely appearance in my random samplings. And I love the transitions I would never have thought of myself. Besides, I do not always think broadly enough about what music might work for me at any given moment, and the random feature brings me things I had forgotten.

So! A big set-up for today's early Random 10. I'll be at a conference the rest of the week, so a Friday post is not in the cards:

1. "Trappola Mortale," Nicola Conte (Bossa per due)
2. "Margarita," Grupo Niche
3. "Miracle," Swati Natekar (Essential Asian Flavas)
4. "Buggin' Out," A Tribe Called Quest (The Low End Theory)
5. "The Whistler," Doctor Rockit (Indoor Fireworks)
6. "Fennimores Lied," Ute Lemper (Ute Lemper Sings Kurt Weill)
7. "Everybody Needs Somebody," Wilson Pickett
8. "Pony," Tom Waits (Mule Variations)
9. "Ooh Child/Redemption Song," Molly Johnson (Another Day)
10. "It's a Blue World," Lionel Hampton

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Mug!

Explanation here.

(Just so you know, it is not easy getting an autofocus camera to take good pictures of etched glass.)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Meet Report: SC SCM Masters Champs

Greetings from the ass-resting period following the South Carolina Short-Course Meters (SCM) Masters Championship, held in Columbia, SC this weekend. Because we had wedding festivities to attend yesterday, the PP and I drove down this morning (leaving at 0:dark-thirty).

One hour and forty-five minutes of darkness and driving later, we arrived at the beautiful new Drew Pool in the Drew Wellness Center: it is a 25 yards x 25 meters pool in a beautiful sun-filled natatorium, with high ceilings, decks flush with the water level and seriously non-turbulent lane lines.

I had not been sure what to enter, since we have only been back in the water consistently for not quite 2 months, but I signed up for the 200 IM, 100 BR, 100 FR, and 50 BA. Then today, at the last minute, I deck-entered the 400 FR. It was the last event of the day, and I thought that would be the smart time swim such a beast of an event.

The very exciting part of this meet was being at a meet with a TEAM. There were three other swimmers (besides the PP and me), and our couch regularly travels to meets, too. It was fun to cheer on the other swimmers, and feel moral support from them. But what was REALLY fun was finally being able to swim a relay. I swam the first leg in the 200 meter mixed (that means 2 men + 2 women) free relay, where everyone swims a 50. There was only one other relay team swimming, but it was still a blast.

I was happy with my individual results, particularly given where I am in the season. I had a best time in the 200 IM, a so-so time in the 100 BR, and first-time SCM swims for the 100 FR, 50 BA, and 400 FR. It is hard not to be in the shape I was the last time I raced the 100 BR seriously, and so not able to pull a lifetime best time, but it is important, I guess, to race at different points of the season, to remember how to race and to be able to tell when I am having a lifetime-best swim.

Because it was a fairly small meet, they swam men and women together, so the PP and I ended up in the same heat of the 100 FR. Over the years, our times in that event have been very close, sometimes with him beating me, sometimes the reverse. But we have never gotten to swim in the very same heat--and in adjacent lanes! I have never kicked harder in a freestyle swim than I did today, trying to kick my husband's ass.

And I did--heh. I can revel in this now, but I am certain that he won't let it happen next time.

The highlight of the meet, surprisingly enough, was the 400 free. Before the swim, the coach said, "So, do you have a plan?" and I wanted to say, "Yes, to just rest it." But instead I said I would swim it like a 200 free, just longer: out fairly quick on the first 100, then dial back a bit on the 2nd 100, then pick it up on the 3rd 100, and crank it home for the 4th. He suggested I not dial it back too much on the 2nd, but otherwise, cool. So I took off, and of course my first several strokes were too fast, but I settled into an even, steady, strong rhythm pretty quickly. "Wow," I thought, "I feel like I am swimming on top of the water, instead of in it. I hope this will last."

Reader, it did.

I kept my pace pretty steady for the second 100, rather than dialing back, then I felt good building the 3rd and cranking the 4th. My splits showed that I did indeed negative-split the last 3 100s. And it felt awesome!

I think that a real difference this year has been the amount of distance-oriented training we are doing. This team does a lot more sets involving long (which to me means 200 yards and more) swims, and partly because of my shoulder troubles, I have been varying my strokes a lot more, swimming a lot of individual individual medleys (i.e., disproportionately little fly). This kind of swimming made the 200 IM seem like a breeze, instead of a chore. And it made the 400 free feel great.

Because it was a small meet, I also managed to score the high points trophy for my age group. How cool is that? It is a beer mug that says "South Carolina SCM Championship High Point." Heh again. I have never had the highest number of points in my age group in a meet where they were giving awards for it.

So that was more competition in one day than I have had at a meet in a good long time, and it felt like just what I needed, after not the week that I needed.

Now it feels awesome to sit on my butt. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, out there in blogland. I'll be sitting in front of the TV, perhaps drinking a beer out of my fab new mug.

200 IM 3:08.81
100 BR 1:30.26
100 FR 1:15.12
50 BA :43.19
400 FR 6:08.86
200 FR Mixed Relay 2:35.86

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Popov believes in Isis.

This just in from Timed Finals:
The world record holder in the 50-meter freestyle, Alex Popov, believes South Carolina’s Isis can come back from her extended slacking from competition, and be “even better than before.” Speaking at a launch event for Russia’s bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Popov backed the idea that Isis can return to Masters Swimming competition and be even more dominant than she has ever been. "She is really and truly a superheroine," he said. "She will crush the competition like bug."

Not long ago Isis claimed that retiring from swimming competition was on her mind daily. "I just don't know if that is where I want to put my energy," she said. Popov believes that would be a waste of talent, something that cannot be allowed. “She needed a break to sit back and relax,” Popov said. “But I know she could come back and she would just win. She is that good.”

After a better than expected performance at Masters Nationals in May, and a top-three finish in the Death Valley Open Water Meet, Isis had been wondering whether competition was something she should continue. "I'm wiped out," she said.

She has battled everything from a sore shoulder, to media overexposure, to the occasional hangover. She has moved households and trained briefly with a new coach, before switching to a new team and additional secret training in an undisclosed location.

If Isis decides to pursue major competition soon, she will find herself at the South Carolina Short-Course Meters Championships, and then perhaps the St. Nicholas Invitational--and who knows, even Dixie Zone Championships, date and location TBA.

Popov, one of the world’s greatest sprinters, believes that Isis’s extended absence from the pool will not be detrimental to her performance. "She has done so much. At her age she has the experience to be able to compete against anyone no matter how long she has been out. And all that while being a dedicated foe of evil--and champion of the weak!"