Monthly Archives: September 2007

Excerpt from ‘And the Band Played On’

The book is about the first few years of the AIDS epidemic, and chronicles the arrogance, denial, indifference and general dickery that delayed anything resembling scientific progress almost until the '90s. This section comes after it's revealed that one of the main personnel at the CDC, who had been systematically denying funding to AIDS studies, had a bunch of posters of shirtless male soccer players in his office:

It was a truism to people active in the gay movement that the greatest impediments to homosexuals' progress often were not heterosexual bigots but closeted homosexuals.

Among the nations's decision makers, the homophobes largely had been silenced by the prevailing morality that viewed expressions of overty hostility toward gays as unfashionable. In fact, when not burdened by private sexual insecurities, many heterosexuals could be enlisted to support gays on the basis of personal integrity. By definition, the homosexual in the closet had surrendered his integrity. This makes closeted homosexual people very useful to the establishment. […] The closeted homosexual is far less likely to demand fair or just treatment for his kind, because to do so would call attention to himself.

In other words, next time someone taps their foot in the bathroom stall next to yours, stomp on it.

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British journalism, defined

I was on Messenger today with a friend of mine in London who runs a bunch of magazines for medical students and doctors.

Mike says:

How's yer magazines these days?

Ash says:

going pretty well … though short of writers

Ash says:

wanna write something?

Ash says:

get paid too

Mike says:

with my extensive medical expertise? YES.

Ash says:

doesn't need any … look, just put some words together so i can fill up the space between the adverts

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Excerpt from ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy

They began to come upon from time to time small ciarns of rock by the roadside. They were signs in gypsy language, lost patterans. The first he'd seen in some while, common in the north, leading out of the looted and exhausted cities, hopeless messages to loved ones lost and dead.

By then all stores of food had given out and murder was everywhere upon the land. The world soon to be largely populated by men who would eat your children in front of your eyes and the cities themselves held by cores of blackened looters who tunneled among the ruins and crawled from the rubble white of tooth and eye carrying charred and anonymous tins of food in nylon nets like shoppers in the commissaries of hell.

The soft black talc blew through the streets like squid ink uncoiling along a sea floor and the cold swept down and the dark came early and the scavengers passing down the steep canyons with their torches trod silky holes in the drifted ash that closed behind them silently as eyes.

Out on the roads the pilgrims sank down and fell over and died and the bleak and shrouded earth went trundling past the sun and returned again as trackless and as unremarked as the path of any nameless sisterworld in the ancient dark beyond.

And yes, it's an Oprah's Book Club choice.

 

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Jetlaggot

My last 24 hours:

1.15 pm: Arrive in Copenhagen feeling energized. Lost in thought finding similarities between 'Year of the Dog' and 'Ocean's Thirteen,' the two movies I watched on the plane.

2 pm: Deliver contraband, tax-avoidance guitar to rock-star friend.

2.30 pm: Arrive home, discover swamplike dog-stench has permeated all belongings. Resolve to purchase air freshener for room, lock for door and poison for dog.

4 pm: Fall into sleep. Set alarm for 5 pm. Must. Get. On. Denmark. Time.

5 pm: Alarm goes off and is ignored with prejudice.

7 pm: Wake, watch 'Bourne Ultimatum' for second time. Am heard blurting 'Take THAT, Julia Stiles!' during crucial scene.

10 pm: Fall asleep again semi-voluntarily.

3 am: Wake up feeling unbearably fresh and frisky. Fuck. Read boring book to try and fall asleep. Eighty pages later, give up and make breakfast.

6 am: Fall asleep again. Set alarm for 9 am. I can do this, dammit.

9 am: Beep beep beep.

10 am: Get out of bed 20 snooze buttons later. Make pot of coffee with double the usual amount of grounds.

11 am: The coffee has only made my jetlag angry, like shooting a polar bear with a .22. Surf internet standing up to avoid sleepage.

Noon: Well, that didn't work. Sleep takes me like a Bogota kidnapper. Alarm clock is indifferent and forgotten. I resolve to be better tomorrow. 

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Beach-in’ weekend on the coast

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Reasons why America is broken

In Denmark, I spend a lot of conversations defending America from derisive laughter, eye-rolling, and assorted other cheese-fueled scoffery. Whenever I'm back here, though, I'm almost constantly reminded of the myriad ways in which my country is broken. I came across all of this in my first 48 hours back:

A survey of Americans' attitudes toward, among other things, religion:

58% of respondents support teacher-led prayers and 43% favor school holiday programs that are entirely Christian. Moreover, 50% would allow schools to teach the Bible as a factual text in a history class.

An article about American obesity:

The average American consumer eats three burgers and four orders of fries each week. A typical American child now gets one-fourth of his or her vegetables in the form of French fries or potato chips. Half our nation's family food budgets are spent in restaurants.

 U.S. life expectancy data:

Despite the upward trend, the United States still has a lower life expectancy than some 40 other countries, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The country with the longest life expectancy is Andorra at 83.5 years, followed by Japan, Macau, San Marino and Singapore.

The retirement of the head of the Federal Aviation Administration due to the continuing breakdown of American air travel:

Almost everything about flying is worse than [in 2002,] when she arrived. Greater are the risks, the passenger headaches, and the costs in lost productivity. Almost everyone has a horror story about missed connections, lost baggage, and wasted hours on the tarmac. More than 909,000 flights were late through June of this year, twice the level of 2002.

And this isn't even counting all the problems with health care, prisons, education and corruption I didn't come across in the last two days. How much worse does all this shit have to get before it gets better?

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Seattle snapshot: Customer service

I ordered a cup of coffee yesterday and had the following exchange.

Me: One 12-ounce coffee, please.

Coffee-counter lady: Oh, we're out of 12-ounce cups. I'll just give you a 20-ounce coffee for the same price.

First of all, it really wouldn't have been that big of a deal if I just had to order something else. Interactions like this characterize customer service in the States, and are the reason you always overhear Americans at European coffee houses going 'What do you mean you're out of nonfat milk!?' We're used to getting free shit whenever the unexpected occurs.

Second: A 20-ounce coffee? Only in this country can you order hot, caffeinated beverages by the pint and not be looked at like some kind of junkie.

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How I spent my hangover: Leavin’ on a jet plane edition

Well, I'm off to Seattle tomorrow. Anyone who knows me in 3-D is encouraged to contact me for hanging-outage. Meanwhile, here are the fruits of my crusty-eyed Internet meanderings the last few days:

The results of a worldwide safe-sex survey. Among the results: Both the average Dane and the average U.S. American lose their virginity at 16. The average Turk has 14 sex partners in their life, compared to 9 for Denmark and 10 for the U.S. Oh, and Norwegians have the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases of any country surveyed. And their food sucks. And their government has the spending habits of everyone's grandpa. And it's expensive. Norway just sucks, ok?

An Open Letter From A Black Guy to His Average-Sized Penis

Yeah, maybe if you were on a white guy, or an asian guy, or a girl, your reputation would be a lot better at this point. You might be a little more "remarkable." But the fact of the matter is you're on a black guy, and you are underachieving.

This Wired story about a love triangle that existed exclusively online, and involved only one person who was telling the truth about their identity. It takes place in West Virginia, so of course it ends with someone being shot.

A bunch of crazy pictures from my new favorite blog, Deputy Dog.


that's Caracas, Venezuela

That's a slum outside of Hong Kong, which was the most densely populated place on earth until the police raided it 3,000 times to get all the squatters out.

That's Dubai, which is the home of 30% of the world's construction cranes, and should more or less not have a license to exist.

And that's Tokyo, which is just incredible no matter where you look at it from.

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Tragedy: Now with mascots!

This was the headline on Yahoo! News today:

Hokie jpg

Because nothing pays tribute to 31 murdered students like reminding the suvivors that their school's life-size talking stuffed animal wants their hearts to go on.

I'm sure the tributes to Columbine would have been similarly moving if we had all been reminded of the Fighting Chipmunk that lives in us all.

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