Friday, December 23, 2005

If you haven't already

I think you should. Sign up to become an organ donor

Save a life once your own is over.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Tony Blair on Celebration of Civil Marriages

The Independent, UK, December 21, 2005:

Why we should all share in these celebrations

Much of the opposition to equal rights for gays was downright spiteful

Tony Blair

Across the country this week, hundreds of couples will be celebrating a major milestone in their lives. They will be followed by thousands more in the coming months as same sex couples take the opportunity to gain legal recognition and protection for their relationship.

The Civil Partnership Act may not be the biggest change that this Government has brought in. But, by correcting an obvious injustice, removing fear and providing security, it will change the lives of tens of thousands of people for the better. It is also, importantly, another step towards the fairer, more tolerant country which this Labour Government pledged to build.

This landmark measure ends the situation where same-sex relationships were invisible in the eyes of the law, denied any recognition of their commitment. It gives gay and lesbian couples who register their relationship the same safeguards over inheritance, insurance and employment and pension benefits as married couples. No longer will same sex couples who have decided to share their lives fear they will be denied a say over the partner's medical treatment or find themselves denied a home if their partner dies.

As you would expect from this New Labour Government, new rights and privileges are also matched by new responsibilities. Financial support will be expected to be provided for the couple's children, for example, in the event of a breakdown in the relationship.

Such a wide-ranging reform was long overdue. By 1997, society's attitudes to lesbian, gay and bisexual people had changed dramatically. There is, as we have seen already this week, still some opposition to these measures. But I don't believe these views reflect the opinions of the overwhelming majority of people in our country.

Past hostility and suspicions have been replaced with tolerance and understanding. Our laws and political culture, however, had simply not kept pace with these changes. So when we came to power, Britain still had an unequal age of consent and it was lawful to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation, religion and age.

It was something I was determined to help tackle. I was struck when I listened in the Commons to debates on the age of consent and other issues like this just how much of the opposition was based on prejudice which was very old-fashioned and, at times, downright spiteful. It seemed to me that a Labour Government committed to equality must take action.

In the last eight years, we have seen steady and, at times, remarkable progress. The age of consent for gay men has been equalised. Section 28, a law of which a great many Tory MPs were rightly ashamed but which they still put in place, has been repealed. Anti-gay discrimination in the workplace has been outlawed as it will soon be, we intend, in the provision of goods and services. From 1 January, gay and lesbian couples will be able to adopt children jointly for the first time.

I am proud it was this Labour Government that has brought in these modernising and fair measures - and I can't imagine that any government will reverse them. I wouldn't pretend for a moment that MPs from other parties did not campaign for these changes. But I am convinced that we would not have come so far or so fast without the election of a Labour government determined to turn its words on an equal, opportunity society into action.

For the Civil Partnership Act helps highlight again this Government's determination to create a more modern, open, fairer and democratic country.

It's a commitment which can be seen in a wide array of measures, not all of which Independent readers may welcome as much as this Act. So along with the Freedom of Information Act, improved rights for parents at work, devolution for Scotland and Wales, better public services, and the creation of the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights, we have also seen new powers - with more to come - to tackle the antisocial behaviour that still blights too many communities. All are part of our central mission to provide security and opportunity for all.

They are having an impact. Britain is, in many different ways, a more modern, fairer and better place to live than it was. One of the greatest delights about London's winning bid for the 2012 Olympics was that the decision by the IOC was based, in no small part, on their recognition of the dynamism, strength, tolerance and diversity of our society.

There is, of course, no room for complacency. There is still too much injustice, discrimination and unfairness. But in ceremonies up and down the country this week, we can also see that, as a society and country, we continue to move in the right direction. That's a good enough reason for us all to celebrate.

Success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall. - Oliver Goldsmith

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Amnesiac Torture Debate

I've just read something so disturbing that I felt it had to be blogged here and on MySpace. Occasional emphasis added by me.

'Never Before!' Our Amnesiac Torture Debate
by Naomi Klein
It was the "Mission Accomplished" of George W. Bush's second term, and an announcement of that magnitude called for a suitably dramatic location. But what was the right backdrop for the infamous "We do not torture" declaration? With characteristic audacity, the Bush team settled on downtown Panama City.

It was certainly bold. An hour and a half's drive from where Bush stood, the US military ran the notorious School of the Americas from 1946 to 1984, a sinister educational institution that, if it had a motto, might have been "We do torture." It is here in Panama and, later, at the school's new location in Fort Benning, Georgia, where the roots of the current torture scandals can be found. According to declassified training manuals, SOA students--military and police officers from across the hemisphere--were instructed in many of the same "coercive interrogation" techniques that have since migrated to Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib: early morning capture to maximize shock, immediate hooding and blindfolding, forced nudity, sensory deprivation, sensory overload, sleep and food "manipulation," humiliation, extreme temperatures, isolation, stress positions--and worse. In 1996 President Clinton's Intelligence Oversight Board admitted that US-produced training materials condoned "execution of guerrillas, extortion, physical abuse, coercion and false imprisonment."

Some of the Panama school's graduates returned to their countries to commit the continent's greatest war crimes of the past half-century: the murders of Archbishop Oscar Romero and six Jesuit priests in El Salvador, the systematic theft of babies from Argentina's "disappeared" prisoners, the massacre of 900 civilians in El Mozote in El Salvador and military coups too numerous to list here. Suffice it to say that choosing Panama to declare "We do not torture" is a little like dropping by a slaughterhouse to pronounce the United States a nation of vegetarians.

And yet when covering the Bush announcement, not a single mainstream news outlet mentioned the sordid history of its location. How could they? To do so would require something totally absent from the current debate: an admission that the embrace of torture by US officials long predates the Bush Administration and has in fact been integral to US foreign policy since the Vietnam War.

It's a history that has been exhaustively documented in an avalanche of books, declassified documents, CIA training manuals, court records and truth commissions. In his upcoming book A Question of Torture, Alfred McCoy synthesizes this unwieldy cache of evidence, producing an indispensable and riveting account of how monstrous CIA-funded experiments on psychiatric patients and prisoners in the 1950s turned into a template for what he calls "no-touch torture," based on sensory deprivation and self-inflicted pain. McCoy traces how these methods were field-tested by CIA agents in Vietnam as part of the Phoenix program and then imported to Latin America and Asia under the guise of police training programs.

It's not only apologists for torture who ignore this history when they blame abuses on "a few bad apples"--so too do many of torture's most prominent opponents. Apparently forgetting everything they once knew about US cold war misadventures, a startling number have begun to subscribe to an antihistorical narrative in which the idea of torturing prisoners first occurred to US officials on September 11, 2001, at which point the interrogation methods used in Guantánamo apparently emerged, fully formed, from the sadistic recesses of Dick Cheney's and Donald Rumsfeld's brains. Up until that moment, we are told, America fought its enemies while keeping its humanity intact.

The principal propagator of this narrative (what Garry Wills termed "original sinlessness") is Senator John McCain. Writing recently in Newsweek on the need for a ban on torture, McCain says that when he was a prisoner of war in Hanoi, he held fast to the knowledge "that we were different from our enemies...that we, if the roles were reversed, would not disgrace ourselves by committing or approving such mistreatment of them." It is a stunning historical distortion. By the time McCain was taken captive, the CIA had already launched the Phoenix program and, as McCoy writes, "its agents were operating forty interrogation centers in South Vietnam that killed more than twenty thousand suspects and tortured thousands more," a claim he backs up with pages of quotes from press reports as well as Congressional and Senate probes.

Does it somehow lessen the horrors of today to admit that this is not the first time the US government has used torture to wipe out its political opponents--that it has operated secret prisons before, that it has actively supported regimes that tried to erase the left by dropping students out of airplanes? That, at home, photographs of lynchings were traded and sold as trophies and warnings? Many seem to think so. On November 8 Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott made the astonishing claim to the House of Representatives that "America has never had a
question about its moral integrity, until now." Molly Ivins, expressing her shock that the United States is running a prison gulag, wrote that "it's just this one administration...and even at that, it seems to be mostly Vice President Dick Cheney." And in the November issue of Harper's, William Pfaff argues that what truly sets the Bush Administration apart from its predecessors is "its installation of torture as integral to American military and clandestine operations." Pfaff acknowledges that long before Abu Ghraib, there were those who claimed that the School of the Americas was a "torture school," but he says that he was "inclined to doubt that it was really so." Perhaps it's time for Pfaff to have a look at the SOA textbooks coaching illegal torture techniques, all readily available in both Spanish and English, as well as the hair-raising list of SOA grads.

Other cultures deal with a legacy of torture by declaring "Never again!" Why do so many Americans insist on dealing with the current torture crisis by crying "Never Before"? I suspect it has to do with a sincere desire to convey the seriousness of this Administration's crimes. And the Bush Administration's open embrace of torture is indeed unprecedented--but let's be clear about what is unprecedented about it: not the torture but the openness. Past administrations tactfully kept their "black ops" secret; the crimes were sanctioned but they were practiced in the shadows, officially denied and condemned. The Bush Administration has broken this deal: Post-9/11, it demanded the right to torture without shame, legitimized by new definitions and new laws.

Despite all the talk of outsourced torture, the Bush Administration's real innovation has been its in-sourcing, with prisoners being abused by US citizens in US-run prisons and transported to third countries in US planes. It is this departure from clandestine etiquette, more than the actual crimes, that has so much of the military and intelligence community up in arms: By daring to torture unapologetically and out in the open, Bush has robbed everyone of plausible deniability.

For those nervously wondering if it is time to start using alarmist words like totalitarianism, this shift is of huge significance. When torture is covertly practiced but officially and legally repudiated, there is still the hope that if atrocities are exposed, justice could prevail. When torture is pseudo-legal and when those responsible merely deny that it is torture, what dies is what Hannah Arendt called "the juridical person in man"; soon enough, victims no longer bother to search for justice, so sure are they of the futility (and danger) of that quest. This impunity is a mass version of what happens inside the torture chamber, when prisoners are told they can scream all they want because no one can hear them and no one is going to save them.

In Latin America the revelations of US torture in Iraq have not been met with shock and disbelief but with powerful déjà vu and reawakened fears. Hector Mondragon, a Colombian activist who was tortured in the 1970s by an officer trained at the School of the Americas, wrote: "It was hard to
see the photos of the torture in Iraq because I too was tortured. I saw myself naked with my feet fastened together and my hands tied behind my back. I saw my own head covered with a cloth bag. I remembered my feelings--the humiliation, pain." Dianna Ortiz, an American nun who was brutally tortured in a Guatemalan jail, said, "I could not even stand to look at those many of the things in the photographs had also been done to me. I was tortured with a frightening dog and also rats. And they were always filming."

Ortiz has testified that the men who raped her and burned her with cigarettes more than 100 times deferred to a man who spoke Spanish with an American accent whom they called "Boss." It is one of many stories told by prisoners in Latin America of mysterious English-speaking men walking in and out of their torture cells, proposing questions, offering tips. Several of these cases are documented in Jennifer Harbury's powerful new book, Truth, Torture, and the American Way.

Some of the countries that were mauled by US-sponsored torture regimes have tried to repair their social fabric through truth commissions and war crimes trials. In most cases, justice has been elusive, but past abuses have been entered into the official record and entire societies have asked themselves questions not only about individual responsibility but collective complicity. The United States, though an active participant in these "dirty wars," has gone through no parallel process of national soul-searching.

The result is that the memory of US complicity in far-away crimes remains fragile, living on in old newspaper articles, out-of-print books and tenacious grassroots initiatives like the annual protests outside the School of the Americas (which has been renamed but remains largely unchanged). The terrible irony of the anti-historicism of the current torture debate is that in the name of eradicating future abuses, these past crimes are being erased from the record. Every time Americans repeat the fairy tale about their pre-Cheney innocence, these already hazy memories fade even further. The hard evidence still exists, of course, carefully archived in the tens of thousands of declassified documents available from the National Security Archive. But inside US collective memory, the disappeared are being disappeared all over again.

This casual amnesia does a profound disservice not only to the victims of these crimes but also to the cause of trying to remove torture from the US policy arsenal once and for all. Already there are signs that the Administration will deal with the current torture uproar by returning to the cold war model of plausible deniability. The McCain amendment protects every "individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States Government"; it says nothing about torture training or buying information from the exploding industry of for-profit interrogators. And in Iraq the dirty work is already being handed over to Iraqi death squads, trained by US commanders like Jim Steele, who prepared for the job by setting up similarly lawless units in El
Salvador. The US role in training and supervising Iraq's Interior Ministry was forgotten, moreover, when 173 prisoners were recently discovered in a Ministry dungeon, some tortured so badly that their skin was falling off. "Look, it's a sovereign country. The Iraqi government exists," Rumsfeld said. He sounded just like the CIA's William Colby, who when asked in a 1971 Congressional probe about the thousands killed under Phoenix--a program he helped launch--replied that it was now "entirely a South Vietnamese program."

And that's the problem with pretending that the Bush Administration invented torture. "If you don't understand the history and the depths of the institutional and public complicity," says McCoy, "then you can't begin to undertake meaningful reforms." Lawmakers will respond to pressure by eliminating one small piece of the torture apparatus--closing a prison, shutting down a program, even demanding the resignation of a really bad apple like Rumsfeld. But, McCoy says, "they will preserve the prerogative to torture."

The Center for American Progress has just launched an advertising campaign called "Torture is not US." The hard truth is that for at least five decades it has been. But it doesn't have to be.
Naomi Klein is the author of No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies (Picador) and, most recently, Fences and Windows: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate (Picador).

(c) 2005 The Nation

Published on Friday, December 9, 2005 by The Nation

I heard Jennifer Harbury on KUOW tonight, on KUOW Speaker's Forum (12/14/2005). She has spoken out against U.S. torture practices long before the Iraq war. Harbury's husband was tortured and murdered in Guatemala in 1992. Since her husband’s death, Harbury has urged the U.S. to disclose involvement in abuses in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Some defend torture as the only means to access vital information that can save lives. Harbury makes convincing arguments against the use of torture in any circumstances. The audio should be available 12/15:

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his own life for the welfare of others. In dangerous valleys and hazardous pathways, he will lift some bruised and beaten brother to a higher and more noble life. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Privacy on

I promised a friend to tell him how to improve privacy on the profile page. Anyone who is not out, but wants to join some groups with "gay" in the name, should not display their groups publicly. To privatize your group memberships, go to Home > Account Settings > Profile Settings, and uncheck Display Groups belong to if you want to hide links to the groups you've joined on MySpace. Your MySpace groups will no longer be displayed on your Profile. You will still be able to access them by clicking your Groups link while logged in.

Each of your blogs can be posted as a public or private blog. Once you have finished writing, at the bottom you will see a number of choices, below mood and other stuff: Comments: disable Kudos & comments; Privacy: Public Diary Friends Preferred List [help].

Public - Anyone can read your post; Diary - Only you can read your post (you can use this like a diary); Friends - Only Myspace "Friends" can read your post; Preferred List - Only those on your Preferred List can read your post. The Subject of all of your blogs will always show on your profile page regardless of their privacy setting.

To create a Preferred list, go to Blog, and then on the left top, under MySpace Blog, you will see: Blog Home, My Subscriptions, My Readers, My Preferred List. Click on the Preferred list, and then search for the names of the people you want to allow to see your semi-private blogs. You can remove people from this list at any time.

If you want to ensure the ultimate MySpace privacy, make your Profile only viewable by your friends. To do that, change your age to 14 or 15. Home > Edit Profile > Basic Info: Edit: Date of Birth. Change the year to 1990 or 1991.

An alternate method of creating a private profile page is found in the Private Profile Tutorial:

This method requires some HTML, but the author gives you very clear step-by-step instructions on how to do it. Also, the Terms of Service of MySpace prohibit you from lying about your age, so this version is more "legal" than simply changing your birthdate-of-record.

You can also go to Home > Account Settings > Privacy Settings, and

Check Require email or last name to add me as a friend if you want other users to be required to know your email address or your last name in order to send you an add friend request (this prevents people who don't know you from trying to add you as a friend).

Check Approve Comments before Posting if you want to review comments to your profile and journals before they are posted. Comments will NOT appear unless and until you approve them.

Check iHide Online Now to make your online status invisible to other users.

Check No Pic Forwarding to prevent other users from emailing links to your images from the site.

Check Friend Only Journal Comments to allow only your friends to post comments on your blog entries.

Check Block Friend Request From Bands to block unwanted friend request from bands.

I think this last stuff isn't very important, but it might make life easier for you. The only thing I do is hide my online status so people don't try to chat with me late at night.

Myspace profile: Blog:

One does not discover new lands without consenting to leave sight of the shore for a very long time. - Andre Gide

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

New Year's Resolution- Small Changes

I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big successes. I am for those tiny, invisible loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of human pride. - William James (thank you John D for this wonderful quotation)

Friday, December 02, 2005

Light a candle for World AIDS Day - easy, quick, beautiful

Today is World AIDS Day. HIV/AIDS is a disease that continues to affect millions across the United States and abroad. Take a moment today to reflect on those who have been lost to this terrible disease and think about what you might do to help, even if it's as little as visiting Bristol-Myers Squibb. They are donating a dollar to AIDS research for every candle that is lit on their website.

Bristol-Myers Squibb makes drugs that contain the AIDS virus. They make loads of money. Let's make sure they donate the $100,000 maximum. Go to and light a candle.

Support World AIDS Day

No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the horizon of the spirit. - Helen Keller

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veterans Day 2005

It is ... for us, the living, to here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. - Abraham Lincoln, 19 November 1863 in the Gettysburg Address

Monday, September 26, 2005

Seattle-area Resources for Gay Youth

I gathered these together for Colin's GSA, so thought I would post them here, too.

PFLAG Seattle:
links to PFLAG meetings and other resources. National:

PFLAG Helpline: 206-325-7724
Crisis Clinic:

Crisis Line - 24-hour hotline: 206-461-3222

Teen Link Helpline: 206-461-4922 answered by teens from 6-10 PM every day

Foster Care Helpline (for GLBT youth specifically): 1-866-LGBTeen
Safe Schools Coalition:
Safe Schools Coalition hotline: 1-800-5-BPROUD

Safe Schools has a great list of Hotlines both local and national:

GLSEN (support for GSAs):
Washington State GSA Network (WA GSA):
GLSEN Puget Sound:

* Seattle Community Network has an excellent list of GLBT local links:

Gay Youth Info Line: 206-547-7900
Coming out, social events, and support resources for queer youth

Diverse Harmony rehearses Sundays, 3-5 PM at First Baptist Church, 1111 Seneca St., Seattle: and

Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival 2005, October 14-23, 2005:

Lambert House:

Gay Skate Night every third Monday, 7-10 PM. Bellevue Skate King, 2301 140th NE, Bellevue WA, 425-641-2046. $5.50; includes rollerskate rental. Inline skates for an additional $4.

B-GLAD (Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian Adolescent Drop-in): 425-747-4937
Weekly support and discussion groups in Bellevue

Oasis Youth Center Pierce Co.:

Youth Guardian Services (email lists):

Great Lists and how to get them (mostly local):

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Health (King Co.):

Ingersoll Gender Center in Seattle:, phone: 206-329-6651

Camp Ten Trees:

National Resources
Matthew Shepard Foundation:

HRC Resource Guide to Coming Out:

Day of Silence:

The Trevor Project:
24 hours nationwide: 866-488-7386 or 866.4.U.Trevor

STD Hotline: 1-800-227-8922

Gay and Lesbian Victim’s Assistance 24 Hour Hotline: 1-800-259-1536

Christian GLBT National Resources
HeartStrong, for GLBT youth in religious schools:

Finding an open and welcoming congregation - Washington: Community of Welcoming Congregations (Oregon & SW Washington):,
Nationally & Internationally:, Institute for Welcoming Resources (The Task Force):

Whosoever, online magazine for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians:

From a Roman Catholic father, God gave me a gay son:. . . and I did not always think it a blessing:

HRC- Living Openly in Your Place of Worship:
Christian GLBT Local Resources
Love Welcomes All:

Youth Resource:

Good explication of the "Ex-Gay" movement:

, The National Coalition for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Youth: OutProud web resources: Outpath, the OutProud Coming Out Archives:

Oasis: & Forum:


Young Gay America:
Hard to navigate, but worth the effort

SEX, ETC. by teens, for teens:

The Gay Youth Corner (Brit):

Scarleteen - sex education for the real world:

What "Sex Ed" Didn't Tell You -- But You Still Need to Know:

Seattle links:

More great sites in Kids Helping Kids, Fixing Gays ("reparative therapy" and such), Gay Marriage and Sex.

I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice. But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream to make room at the table of brother and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people. - Coretta Scott King, March 31, 1998

Thomas Cowan WWI Attestation

Moved to

Cowans and Neighbors 1911 Puslinch, Wellington Co. Ontario, Canada

Any updates to this post will be found on the Genealogy blog:

Page 7 Puslinch Twp. Sub-Dist. # 27
Scott, Arch
Scott, Mary
Scott, Robert?
Scott, James
Scott, Lisabeth/Elizabeth
Scott, Walter
Scott, Andrew
Scott, Margaret
McDonald, Donald
McDonald, Catherine
McDonald, Edith
McDonald, Francis
McDonald, Anna?
[unreadable], Mary
McPherson, Alex.
McPherson, [unreadable],
McPherson, Robert J.
McPherson, James
McPherson, Catherine
McPherson, Jane
Bowman?, Wellington
Cowan, Walter
Cowan, Annie
Cowan, James
Cowan, Walter

Interesting that they are next-door neighbors to the McPhersons; Annie was a McPherson. Also notice the Scott family further up the page. Walter's grandmother was a Scott. Wouldn't it be interesting if they were all relatives?

The index is found on the Wellington County site:

This section was transcribed by Susanne Metcalfe -- thanks, Susanne!

By the way, 1901 is also indexed, but I don't see our Cowans. Did I miss something? See for yourself:

Cowan Marriage Bonds in Upper and Lower Canada:

Ontario COWANs, 1871 Census:

Dad's WWII Enlistment File:

Thomas Cowan WWI Attestation:
(scroll down; not ours -- isn't Grandpa's brother in there somewhere?)

James Cowan & family, Wellington County 1901 Census, Guelph:


Cowans in the Wellington County Historical Atlas:

I love agitation and investigation and glory in defending unpopular truth against popular error. - President James A. Garfield

Friday, September 09, 2005

Traits of a Mature, Self-Actualizing Person

Self-actualization: being knowledgeable, emotionally aware, self-directed, and at peace with the world. Who wouldn't want that? A nice list of the traits from Psychological Self-Help.
They see reality, and knowing "the facts are friendly," they accept reality more than most people. They see through phoniness, deception, and "games"--and avoid them. They cope with problems, rather than avoid them.

They accept themselves and others; thus, they can honestly self-disclose and forgive others' shortcomings.

They are spontaneous with their ideas, feelings, and actions, being genuine and confident.

They focus on solving problems but their "problems" tend to be outside themselves. For instance, they often have a "mission" that may be difficult to accomplish but gives excitement, challenge, and purpose to their lives.

They enjoy privacy, withdrawing sometimes to be free to have their own thoughts. Occasionally, they may have mystical experiences in which they become part of all mankind or of nature.

They resist culturally prescribed roles, e.g. masculine or feminine. They resent unfairness caused by social roles and prejudice. They insist on thinking for themselves and completing their mission, even in the face of social criticism.

They enjoy and appreciate the commonplace, the little things in life--a rose, a baby, an idea, a considerate comment, a meal, a loving touch, etc.

They feel a kinship, a closeness, a warmth, a concern for every human being.

They are close to a few people, although not always popular. They can live intimately and love.

They do not judge others on the basis of stereotypes, like sex, age, race, or religion, but rather as individuals.

They have a strong self-generated code of ethics--a sense of right and wrong. Their values may not be conventional but they do guide their lives.

They are creative and do things differently, not in rebellion but for the joy of being original and talented. They are clever, even in their ability to be amused instead of angered by human foibles.
As often as I can, I choose to make these choices. When I don't--well, I'm just human.

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself. - Harvey Fierstein

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Studying Literature




PinkMonkey: 400 study guides

Bibliomania: 2000 texts; free registration required

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. - Emma Goldman, 1869-1940

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

OK all you computer nerds

If you have never used Opera to browse the web, you owe it to yourself to download it *today*. Why today? It is their tenth anniversary as a company (Norwegian) and they are offering free downloads of the no-ad version just today. [note: if you didn't already do that, you are too late for the free no-ad version. But the free version is still worthwhile! I used it when I still used Windows, and honestly never noticed the tiny ad.]

See If the code to register for free isn't there, it is here (scroll down):

I last used this browser when I used Windows, and I liked it then. It is SO improved over then, it may beat out Firefox on my linux machine. Try it, you'll like it!

Nothing is predestined: The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings. - Ralph Blum

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Freedom to Marry in Spain

Excerpts of speech by Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on the occasion of the historic vote legalizing both gay marriage and adoption of children by gay couples.
We are not legislating, honorable members, for people far away and not known by us. We are enlarging the opportunity for happiness to our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends and, our families: at the same time we are making a more decent society, because a decent society is one that does not humiliate its members.

In the poem 'The Family,' our [gay] poet Luis Cernuda was sorry because, How does man live in denial in vain/by giving rules that prohibit and condemn? Today, the Spanish society answers to a group of people who, during many years have, been humiliated, whose rights have been ignored, whose dignity has been offended, their identity denied, and their liberty oppressed. Today the Spanish society grants them the respect they deserve, recognizes their rights, restores their dignity, affirms their identity, and restores their liberty.

It is true that they are only a minority, but their triumph is everyone's triumph. It is also the triumph of those who oppose this law, even though they do not know this yet: because it is the triumph of Liberty. Their victory makes all of us (even those who oppose the law) better people, it makes our society better. Honorable members, There is no damage to marriage or to the concept of family in allowing two people of the same sex to get married. To the contrary, what happens is this class of Spanish citizens get the potential to organize their lives with the rights and privileges of marriage and family. There is no danger to the institution of marriage, but precisely the opposite: this law enhances and respects marriage.

Today, conscious that some people and institutions are in a profound disagreement with this change in our civil law, I wish to express that, like other reforms to the marriage code that preceded this one, this law will generate no evil, that its only consequence will be the avoiding of senseless suffering of decent human beings. A society that avoids senseless suffering of decent human beings is a better society.

With the approval of this Bill, our country takes another step in the path of liberty and tolerance that was begun by the democratic change of government. Our children will look at us incredulously if we tell them that many years ago, our mothers had less rights than our fathers, or if we tell them that people had to stay married against their will even though they were unable to share their lives. Today we can offer them a beautiful lesson: every right gained, each access to liberty has been the result of the struggle and sacrifice of many people that deserve our recognition and praise.

Today we demonstrate with this Bill that societies can better themselves and can cross barriers and create tolerance by putting a stop to the unhappiness and humiliation of some of our citizens. Today, for many of our countrymen, comes the day predicted by Kavafis [the great Greek gay poet] one century ago: Later 'twas said of the most perfect society/someone else, made like me/certainly will come out and act freely.
[Thanks to Rex Wockner for this translation.]

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. - Helen Keller

Thursday, August 18, 2005

US Women Win the Vote!

. . . .

from the Trenton Evening Times, Trenton, New Jersey, 18 August 1920,
page 1:

Maryland Woman in 1647 First to Demand Equal Rights with Men
(Associated Press)

Ratification of the suffrage amendment to the Constitution ends a struggle which began in this country before the Colonies declared their independence. It will eventually enfranchise 25,000,000.

Woman suffrage first raised its voice in America in Maryland in 1647, when Mistress Margaret Brent, heir of Lord Calvert, demanded a place in the Legislature of the colony as a property holder of wide extent. And in the days of the Revolution, Abigail Adams wrote her husband, John Adams, at the Continental Congress, which was framing the laws of the infant nation that, "if--in the new laws--particular care and attention are not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound to obey any laws in which we have no voice."

Organized work for woman suffrage began in the United States with the Woman's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848, which was called by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, early leaders of Massachusetts and New York, in response to the indignation aroused by the refusal to permit women to take part in the anti-slavery convention of 1840. From the date of that convention the suffrage movement in the United States began the fight that lasted seventy years and ended with victory. Another convention followed in 1852, at Syracuse, N.Y., at which delegates from Canada were present, and it was there that Susan B. Anthony assumed leadership of the cause to which she devoted her life.

In 1869 the National Woman Suffrage Association, with Miss Anthony and Mrs. Stanton at its head, was formed in New York, and in the same year the American Woman Suffrage Association was organized in Cleveland, with Lucy Stone and Julia Ward Howe as its leaders. At first differing widely in policy, the National Association working to put a suffrage amendment through the Federal Congress and its sister organization bending its efforts to convert the country State by State, the two associations later united under the name of the National Woman Suffrage Association. The Association's drive for the vote was led in turn by Mrs. Stanton, Miss Anthony, Dr. Anna Howard Shaw and Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, the latter of whom is now its president.

The nineteenth amendment, which bears her name was drafted by Miss Anthony in 1875 and was first introduced in Congress in 1878 by Senator A.A. Sargeant of California; and it is in the same language that the new principle of the national law reads:

"Article--, Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

"Section 2. Congress shall have power, by appropriate legislation, to enforce the provisions of this article."

The amendment holds the record of being there before the country longer than any other successful amendment to the constitution. It was introduced as the 16th amendment and has been successively the 17th, 18th and 19th and has been before every session of Congress since its initial appearance.

During the first 35 years after its introduction into Congress the amendment made practically no progress and until seven years ago, it had not been debated on the floor for 30 years. But the campaign for the movement was slowly but steadily gaining ground in the states.

Trenton Evening Times, Trenton, New Jersey, 18 August 1920, page 3:

. . . .
. . . .
Meanwhile Miss Anthony made a test of the right of women to cast the ballot by going to the polls and voting. She was arrested and convicted and, though she refused to pay her fine, was never jailed. She became, however, the forerunner of the "militants" who adopted the forceful tactics of the latter days of the campaign.

State after state gradually enfranchised its women citizens. Beginning with Wyoming in 1869, by 1919 sixteen states had given women the right to vote, and fourteen states had presidential suffrage previous to ratification of the amendment.

Militancy in the fight for suffrage in America made its appearance of the formation of the National Women's Party in 1913. On the eve of President Wilson's inauguration, [5,000] women led by Alice Paul, now the chairman of the party, attempted to march from the Capitol to the White House. They were harrassed by a hostile crowd which overran an unsympathetic police and the capital of the United States had its first experience with suffrage riots.

Continuing their demonstrations over a period of seven years, members of the Woman's Party picketed the White House with banners in their hands and served terms in jail for the disturbances of the peace which grew out of their parades and blockade of the executive mansion. During the last few months before the adoption of the amendment, the militants redoubled their exertions. Several demonstrations were held on the steps of the Capitol and on New Year's Day, 1919, watch fires were lighted in front of the White House in which every speech made by President Wilson in Europe on Democracy and self-government was burned. The acts, however were disavowed by the National Association.

Promptly with the passage of the amendment by the Congress the suffrage forces turned their attention to the ratification necessary two-thirds of the states. More special sessions of the State Legislatures were called to act upon the 19th than upon any other amendment. Wisconsin and Michigan on June 10 were the first states to ratify, quickly followed on June 16 by New York, Kansas and Ohio.

From its beginning in this country the suffrage movement met with determined opposition from women as well as from men. The first organized opposition on the part of women manifested itself in 1873, when a committee of prominent women presented a petition to Congress "protesting against the extension of suffrage to women." Mrs. W.T. Sherman, wife of the Civil War hero, headed the committee, of which Catherine Ward Beecher, sister of the famous divine, Henry Ward Beecher, was a member. Various anti-suffrage organizations came into being subsequently until the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage was formed in 1911, with Mrs. Arthur M. Dodge, of New York, as its first president. This body, step by step, fought the adoption and ratification of the amendment.

Full suffrage is enjoyed today by the women of 21 foreign countries, including the new states of Czechoslovakia and Poland and the ancient nations of England, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries. Now that the women of the United States have won the right equally with the men to take part in the government of the republic the effect of the women's vote, on the political life of the country remains for some time to show. Many women are joining the old line parties with their men folk, but the National Woman's Party holds its own convention in June and will draw up its platform for the coming campaign. First efforts probably will be directed to the laws on inheritance, divorce, guardianship and other laws alleged to discriminate against women.

Thanks to the Ancestry Daily News for reprinting this wonderful article.

The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. - Eden Phillpotts

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Consumer Stuff

Consumer Reports is online: but use it in the library. The subscription online is a bad deal. Also try, reviews at, and Judy's

Computer equipment:,

Other stuff:

Digital Cameras:
Camera, accessory and printer reviews, buyer's guide, links to manufacturers

Find an auto mechanic:

Home repairs - Homeowners club:
$45 a year; they will arrange for listed contractors to call you; contractor bids through the club and you accept through the club and pay through the club. Club deals with problems for you. Also Angie's List:

Checkbook magazine, published by the Center for the Study of Services:

Cosmetics - Make Up Alley:, Paula's Choice:, Cosmedics Cop:

Environmentally sound products and services -

Rate energy efficiency of household appliances, cars, lighting fixtures and other products - American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy:

Restaurants - bad! Dead to Us:
Good,, and

Vacations, hotels -

Problems? Consult the Attorney General's office (Washington State):, and the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce:

Surely there comes a time when counting the cost and paying the price aren't things to think about any more. All that matters is value - the ultimate value of what one does. - James Hilton

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Google Earth and Moon

The up-to-date version of this post will be maintained at:

Fun, and practical! The latest from Google is Google Moon, which debuted on the 30th anniversary of "one giant step for mankind." Be sure to go to full magnification!

Next, a program you must download from Google (9MB, free):; Google Earth.

Available is a tool where you can overlay images on top of satellite photos. Try importing a plat map image on top of a satellite photo of the area where your ancestors lived, and you will be looking at a photographic map of your ancestors' property! Adjust the size, orientation, and the transparency level of the imported image, so you can match up the roads, rivers, or other landmarks of the satellite image to your transparency. Drag to toggle between the map and the satellite image. This idea is from an Ancestry Quick Tip by Scott Aaron. Thanks, Scott!

For $20, you can get Google Earth Plus, which allows you to integrate GPS information, and print higher-res maps.

On Eastman's I saw a link to a blog about using Google Earth for genealogy; and in particular, "Creating a Family History Tour" with GE. Start here:

What this power is, I cannot say. All I know is that it exists...and it becomes available only when you are in that state of mind in which you know exactly what you want...and are fully determined not to quit until you get it. - Alexander Graham Bell

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Latest Political Mess in Washington DC

President Bush's administration is under fire from both his own party and the Democrats because of his apparent shielding of Carl Rove who evidently conspired to commit TREASON. So instead of choosing a moderate woman to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court bench, he chooses a right-wing ideologue! Thus he guarantees that TREASON will be moved off the front page, since the national press can't seem to focus on more than one thing at a time -- if they can focus at all.

The latest from
Oppose John Roberts' Supreme Court Nomination

In the past weeks, Republicans and Democrats have called on President Bush to nominate a moderate for the Supreme Court –- someone who would honor the legacy of independent Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. But last night, President Bush nominated Judge John Roberts, a far-right lawyer and corporate lobbyist, to fill her post on the Supreme Court.

We’ve got to stop Roberts. He opposed clean air rules and worked to help coal companies strip-mine mountaintops. He worked with Ken Starr (yes, that Ken Starr), and tried to keep Congress from defending the Voting Rights Act. He wrote that Roe v. Wade should be “overruled,” and as a lawyer argued (and won) the case that stopped some doctors from even discussing abortion.

Join me in signing MoveOn’s petition to let our Senators know we expect them to oppose John Roberts right now at:

I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen. - Frank Lloyd Wright

Monday, July 18, 2005

Scotch, Scots, or Scottish?

Oxford English Dictionary's commentary on Scotch (as short form of Scottish) and Scots entries; the etymology portion of Scotch:
Contracted var. of SCOTTISH.

The three forms of the adj., Scotch, Scottish, Scots, are still current, with some difference in use, which, however, is somewhat unsettled. Down to the middle of the 16th c. the only form used in southern English was Scottish; but in the dialect of Scotland (and in that of the north of England in the 14th and 15th c.) the form was Scottis (cf. Inglis = English), subsequently contracted to Scots. So far as our quotations show, the contraction of Scottish into Scotch is not recorded before 1570 (in the compound Scotchman), though the colloquial pronunciation which it represents may well be much older; instances of Scotch cap, Scotch jig occur in 1591-99, but the adj. did not become common in literature until the second half of the 17th c. From that time until the 19th c. Scotch has been the prevailing form in England, though Scottish has always been in use as a more formal synonym. In Scotland, the authors who wrote in dialect (down to Ramsay and Fergusson early in the 18th c.) used Scots, while those who anglicized adopted the form Scottish. But before the end of the 18th c. Scotch had been adopted into the northern vernacular; it is used regularly by Burns, and subsequently by Scott; still later, it appears even in official language in the title of the 'Scotch Education Office.' Since the mid 19th c. there has been in Scotland a growing tendency to discard this form altogether, Scottish, or less frequently Scots, being substituted. At the beginning of the 20th c., while in England Scotch was the ordinary colloquial word, the literary usage prefered Scottish in applications relating to the nation or the country at large or its institutions or characteristics. Thus it was usual to speak of 'Scottish literature,' 'Scottish history,' 'the Scottish character,' 'a Scottish lawyer,' 'the Scottish border.' On the other hand, it would have sounded affected to say 'a Scottish girl,' 'a Scottish gardener.' Although 'the Scottish dialect' is now the usual designation, it is seldom that Scottish is used as a n. instead of Scotch. Recent usage favours Scots in 'Scots law,' and it is now almost universal in historical references to money, as 'a pound Scots.'

In the 20th c. the word Scotch has been falling into disuse in England as well as in Scotland, out of deference to the Scotsman's supposed dislike of it; except for certain fixed collocations, (such as 'Scotch mist,' 'Scotch whisky') Scottish (less frequently Scots) is now the usual adjective, and to designate the inhabitants of Scotland the pl. n. Scots is preferred (see Gowers/Fowler Mod. Eng. Usage (1965)).
Thanks to James for posting this on the APG list.

Related link - Scotch-Irish Central:

Toleration is the greatest gift of mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle. - Helen Keller

Monday, July 11, 2005

Kids Helping Kids

One of the major developments in the Twentieth Century was the non-religious mutual support and change movement, perhaps led by Alcoholics Anonymous. La Leche League began in a similar fashion, with moms who were having difficulty breast-feeding their babies meeting up at a picnic, and deciding to continue meeting and helping one another. In the early days of the modern women's movement, consciousness-raising groups started the same way, and eventually led to the establishment of women's health clinics, rape relief, abused women's shelters, Ms. Magazine and other fixtures of modern life.

So I'm glad to see young gay kids helping one another. Adolescence is difficult for most people, and our culture makes it even harder for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transexual youngsters. Look at The Mail Crew: GREAT site. Read the "How It Started" section.

Tiga found this group -- Thanks, Tiga! CAFETY.ORG, Care Not Coercion - Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY) is a volunteer youth-run effort, in support of protection for the human rights of youth in punitive behavior modification boot camps, wilderness programs, and 'therapeutic' boarding schools.

Oasis magazine online -- what a great place! Lots of great teen writers:

Another great site - SEX, ETC. by teens, for teens:

Here is a letter that a boy named Justin wrote to his friend, who was struggling with his sexuality: Generous of him to share with anyone else who is also struggling.

Here is the comic FreeZ, written by a young person, about the plight of another teen: This is one of a large number of projects on MySpace started by teens. Here are some I'm familiar with:
Free Z, a group started in dedication to Zach, a young man who was currently being held against his will and being forced to suffer acts of child abuse in the name of religion, started by Ben, age 16. This group has over 4000 members, and is very active, and creative! It has now expanded its reach to include all teens held against their will in these "ex-gay" camps.

Take Action to Legalize Gay Marriage, started by Melly, age 19.

Another, Support Gay Marriages! has almost 22,000 members, and was established by yoko, age 17!

Youth Guardian Services - created by 19 year-old Jason Hungerford who wanted to create a space for teens and young adults only. Monitored email lists for specific age groups; sexually explicit conversations are discouraged.

The Gay Youth Corner is managed by a 17-year-old student in the UK. He describes it as "an international resource, community, profile, and chat website for young gay, bisexual and lesbian people. Working to encourage gay youth to network and gay youth websites to propagate widely and wisely."

Young Gay America, while not started by teens, was created and is run by young people, for teens. They now publish YGA Magazine, too.

GayBoySupport is a site in The Netherlands for gay teen guys. Well-written, complete, and funny. GayGirlSupport is under construction.

Gay-Straight Alliances, while supported by GLSEN and having teacher-advisors, are started and run by teens, for teens. How To Start a GSA:

All big things in this world are done by people who are naive and have an idea that is obviously impossible. - Frank Richards

Is there a Tomorrow?

One thing that has always puzzled me, even when I was a fundy myself, was how my fellow Christians could ignore the Biblical injunction to be stewards of the Earth. Bill Moyers, who has recently become controversial because of attacks on him by the Right, has one answer, in a article published in The Star Tribune 30 Jan 2005. It was adapted from an article on Alternet. Thanks to Joan for sending it to me. Here are some excerpts:

There is no Tomorrow

One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe,to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington.

Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. ...

Remember James Watt, President Ronald Reagan's first secretary of the interior? ...James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, "after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back."... James Watt was serious.
[huge chunk removed]

So what does this mean for public policy and the environment? Go to Grist to read a remarkable work of reporting by the journalist Glenn Scherer -The Road to Environmental Apocalypse. Read it and you will see how millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed - even hastened - as a sign of the coming apocalypse.... (

Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th Congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian right advocacy groups. They include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Conference Chair Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Policy Chair Jon Kyl of Arizona, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Whip Roy Blunt. ... Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia....

And why not? There's a constituency for it. A 2002 Time-CNN poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the book of Revelations are going to come true. Nearly one-quarter think the Bible predicted the 9/11 attacks. Drive across the country with your radio tuned to the more than 1,600 Christian radio stations, or in the motel turn on some of the 250 Christian TV stations, and you can hear some of this end-time gospel. And you will come to understand why people under the spell of such potent prophecies cannot be expected, as Grist puts it, "to worry about the environment. Why care about the earth, when the droughts, floods, famine and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of the apocalypse foretold in the Bible? Why care about global climate change when you and yours will be rescued in the rapture? And why care about converting from oil to solar when the same God who performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes can whip up a few billion barrels of light crude with a word?"

...No wonder Karl Rove goes around the White House whistling that militant hymn, "Onward Christian Soldiers." He turned out millions of the foot soldiers on Nov. 2, including many who have made the apocalypse a powerful driving force in modern American politics.

[enormous snip]...I read all this and look up at the pictures on my desk, next to the computer - pictures of my grandchildren. I see the future looking back at me from those photographs and I say, "Father, forgive us, for we know not what we do." And then I am stopped short by the thought: "That's not right. We do know what we are doing. We are stealing their future. Betraying their trust. Despoiling their world."

....The news can be the truth that sets us free - not only to feel but to fight for the future we want. And the will to fight is the antidote to despair, the cure for cynicism, and the answer to those faces looking back at me from those photographs on my desk. What we need is what the ancient Israelites called hochma - the science of the heart...the capacity to see, to feel and then to act as if the future depended on you.

Believe me, it does.

Bill Moyers was host until recently of the weekly public affairs series "NOW with Bill Moyers" on PBS. This article is adapted from AlterNet, where it first appeared. The text is taken from Moyers' remarks upon receiving the Global Environmental Citizen Award from the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. [This article has been drastically cut. Please see the original for supporting factual material. I have also added emphasis not in the original. -v]

Destiny is not a matter of chance; but a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for. It is a thing to be achieved. - William Jennings Bryant, 1860-1925

Sunday, July 10, 2005


As you know, our country is about to engage in a very high-stakes Supreme Court Justice nomination and confirmation process.

You and I have so much at stake in this process. In fact, there is no more important decision for protecting the rights and freedoms of every American than choosing a Supreme Court Justice. Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life and they have the last word on our Constitutional rights. Their decisions affect us all.

That's why I joined the Human Rights Campaign's Supreme Court campaign, Team Supreme. Team Supreme is a group of hundreds of thousands of people who are committed to protecting and advancing individual rights and freedoms during the Supreme Court Justice nomination process. Please, join Team Supreme. It will only takea moment. Click here:

When you join Team Supreme, you will get:

:: an e-mail the hour after a nominee is announced with our initial reaction
:: an e-mail three hours after a nominee is announced with our analysis of his/her record on GLBT equality
:: action steps to tell you how to make a difference
:: a special invitation to an online chat with HRC President Joe Solmonese

Why Team Supreme?
From the constitutionality of hate crimes laws to the future course of marriage rights in our country, the Supreme Court will have a profound impact on the lives of every GLBT American in the years ahead. And we know that our ultra-conservative opponents are forming a "team" of their own. They are uniting behind one message: that President Bush fulfill his campaign promise to nominate a Justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas -- Justices whose ideals and decisions represent the most discriminatory, extreme views in our country today.

Their "team" includes people like Rev. Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, and the American Family Association's James Dobson -- and it includes the millions of members that their groups represent.

Our team needs YOU -- you, and everyone you know who cares about GLBT equality. Please, join Team Supreme. Click here to be a part of this historical time, and a part of Team Supreme:

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before beginning to improve the world. - Anne Frank

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Researching in Salt Lake City

Of course, genealogists will think immediately of the Family History Library, but there are other research sources in or near SLC also.

The Marriott Library: Salt Lake City's Little-known Genealogical Gem (U of I) by Chad R. Milliner:

The Harold B. Lee Library (BYU) also holds extensive genealogical material:

Staying in SLC
SLC Convention & Visitors Center:

Richard Eastman updates his hotel critiques yearly:
   Comments are always solicited and displayed. The latest:

Annette Hulse describes the City Creek Inn. ...2 blocks from FHL... $48 for a room with 1 Queen, $58 for a room with 2 Queens.... No amenities," but clean, safe, cheap and convenient.

Tips on Making Your SLC Research Trip A Big Success:

Advice for the First-Time Visitor to the FHL:

Salt Lake City Library: Ready, Set, Go!:

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish. - John Quincy Adams

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Films Summer 2005

I slacked off here, and have seen some films without commenting. I'll get back to it, I hope. Until then, here's Wikipedia's List of films that have been considered the worst ever: And a corking good list it is, too.

Time for a new post to go with the coming of summer! Most recently, watched Kaze no tani no Naushika (1984) known here as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Winds here in the US in the Disney-distributed DVD. Charming, and thrilling. Not as polished as his later Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, but a stronger story by far. Some of the American dialog is a bit puzzling if you have the sub-titles on, but I suggest doing so to get more of the flavor of the Japanese terms. 78.

Debra brought over Hotel Rwanda (2004). I hesitated to see it, because the original massacre was so heart-rending 10 years ago. Aside from the BBC and NPR, it seemed to be ignored at the time. Now, there is a *wonderful* film which is the dramatization of the story of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who housed over a thousand refugees during the genocide in Rwanda. His courage is so inspiring that the film is entertaining instead of painful and horrifying. Don Cheadle is MAGNIFICENT in the role of Paul Rusesabagina, and the remainder of the casting is just as good. If you have held back seeing this film because you fear it will be too painful, I urge you to overcome your fears and watch it anyway. You will be shaken to the core by the horror that humans are capable of, but you will come away inspired, too. This is one where you will want to watch and listed to all the DVD extras. Well worth buying so you can lend it to reluctant friends. 95.

Watched the teen movie Mean Girls (2004) featuring Lindsay Lohan as the new girl, Cady Heron. Rachel McAdams is her friend/enemy Regina George, and Lizzy Caplan is wonderful as the art-geek Janis Ian. The adult cast is a lot of SNL veterans: Tina Fey as the helpful teacher Ms. Norbury, Tim Meadows as the hunky principal Mr. Duvall, who is helpless in the face of the bullying; Amy Poehler is hilarious as the completely inappropriate mom Mrs. George; Ana Gasteyer is Betsy Heron, Cady's clueless mom. Daniel Franzese is wonderful as Damian, gay friend of Janis, although he is apparently sexless; and Jonathan Bennett is mightly cute as the love-interest Aaron Samuels. But there is more than just a teen movie here -- Tina Fey wrote the script after reading Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman. Good, and fun! 82.

Still fun, but not as good: Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004), also starring Lindsey Lohan. More subtle and more fun than the run-of-the-mill teenie flick. 75.

Colin, Thomas and I had a fun evening watching Howl's Moving Castle (Hauru no ugoku shiro (2004)), Miyazaki/Disney's latest release. Completely wonderful! Such beautiful, odd, funky, horrifying imagery. This one was about war and the courage to stand up for peace and loyalty. Wonderful characters, great storytelling. Studio Ghibli rocks! 89.

I don't know what to say about Boogie Nights (1997). A bit of genius, I think, but so disturbing, and about such sad, pathetic people. About the porn industry, but so NOT sexy. More later.

Tonight, The Village (2004), by M. Night Shyamalan. MUCH better than I expected, from the luke-warm to poor reviews it got. I liked it very much - the acting and writing was excellent, as was the cinematography and score. The plot was a bit contrived, true -- but it was a "what if," like good science fiction. Maybe people were disappointed by the "plot twist(s)" that are now expected of MNS, but I was pretty pleased. 77.

Freedom is never letting your fears stop you from following your heart. - Susie Switzer

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Comparing Genealogy Software

New programs are being released almost constantly! So how do you know what's best for YOU? Here are some sites that might help:

Genealogy Authors’ Software Guide reviews AFT, Family Origins, Family Treemaker, Genbox, Generations, Legacy, PAF, PAF Companion, Roots Magic, TMG & UFT:

Genealogical Software Report Card (last updated in 2000):
   Reviews Ancestral Quest 3, Ancestral Quest 2002, Brother's Keeper 6, Cumberland Family Tree 3, Dynastree 220 (German), Dynastree 330 (German), Family Historian 2.2 (English), Family Matter 97 4.20c, Family Origins 9, Family Tree Creator, Family Tree Maker 8, Family Tree Maker 10, Genbox, Generations Grande Suite 8, Heredis 6 (French), Kith & Kin Pro 1 (Scotch - Scottish?), Legacy 3, Legacy 4 Deluxe, Personal Ancestral File 5.1.12, Relatively Yours II (Australian), Reunion 6 (Mac), Reunion 8 (Mac), RootsMagic, The Master Genealogist 5, Tree-O 2.1, Ultimate Family Tree 3, Win Family 6 (Norwegian), plus Clooz 1.2, Genelines, Enlightenment, Family History on CD, Genealogical Library Master Catalog, Geneweaver, Location, Location, PAF Companion, Progenitor 2.

Genealogy Software Review 2005 (commercial site - Legacy, Family Tree Maker, Ancestral Quest, Personal Ancestral File, RootsMagic, Family Historian, DoroTree, The Master Genealogist, Cumberland Family Tree, WinFamily, Genbox Family History, Heredis, Famtree):

No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings. - William Blake

Monday, June 06, 2005

Cowan Marriage Bonds in Upper and Lower Canada

The up-to-date version of this post will be maintained at

Library and Archives Canada/Canadian Genealogy Centre have put the Upper and Lower Canada Marriage Bonds online:
Lower Canada later became Quebec, while Upper Canada became Ontario. Here are the Cowan Marriage Bonds:

Lower Canada
Name of Future Husband: O'SULLIVAN, Timothy
Residence: Quebec
Name of Future Wife: COWAN, Catherine
Residence: Quebec
Reference: RG 4 B28
Volume: 30
Bond Number: 79
Date: 1819-09-21
Microfilm Reel Number: H-1129

Name of Future Husband: COWAN, James
Residence: late of Belfast, Ireland
Name of Future Wife: PATTERSON, Mary
Residence: late of Belfast, Ireland
Reference: RG 4 B28
Volume: 31
Bond Number: 285
Date: 1822-08-06
Microfilm Reel Number: H-1129

Name of Future Husband: BARWIS, Thomas Bienvenue
Residence: Quebec
Name of Future Wife: COWAN, Ann Elizabeth
Residence: Quebec
Reference: RG 4 B28
Volume: 33
Bond Number: 529
Date: 1825-10-31
Microfilm Reel Number: H-1130

Name of Future Husband: HOYT, Sandford Liverston
Residence: Quebec
Name of Future Wife: COWAN, Julia Hannah
Residence: Quebec
Reference: RG 4 B28
Volume: 33
Bond Number: 572
Date: 1825-10-07
Microfilm Reel Number: H-1130

Name of Future Husband: MARTIN, Edward
Residence: late of Belfast, Ireland
Name of Future Wife: COWAN, Margaret
Residence: late of Belfast, Ireland
Reference: RG 4 B28
Volume: 34-C
Bond Number: 1372
Date: 1832-07-24
Microfilm Reel Number: H-1130

Name of Future Husband: COWAN, Hugh
Residence: Quebec
Name of Future Wife: COULSON, Harriet Sarah
Residence: Quebec
Reference: RG 4 B28
Volume: 35
Bond Number: 1461
Date: 1833-10-28
Microfilm Reel Number: H-1131

Name of Future Husband: AHERN, John Urquhart
Residence: Quebec
Name of Future Wife: COWAN, Henrietta Eliza
Residence: Quebec
Reference: RG 4 B28
Volume: 35-A
Bond Number: 1591
Date: 1835-12-12
Microfilm Reel Number: H-1131

Name of Future Husband: COWAN, John
Residence: Soulanges
Name of Future Wife: RODGERS, Mary
Residence: Soulanges
Reference: RG 4 B28
Volume: 36
Bond Number: 1664
Date: 1836-06-10
Microfilm Reel Number: H-1131

Name of Future Husband: COWAN, Peter
Residence: Dunham
Name of Future Wife: HACKETT, Jane
Residence: Montreal
Reference: RG 4 B28
Volume: 36
Bond Number: 1665
Date: 1836-11-28
Microfilm Reel Number: H-1131

Name of Future Husband: COWAN, William
Residence: Montreal
Name of Future Wife: CROSS, Elizabeth
Residence: Beauharnois
Reference: RG 4 B28
Volume: 37
Bond Number: 1835
Date: 1837-03-10
Microfilm Reel Number: H-1131

Name of Future Husband: WELCH, Hy.W.
Residence: Quebec
Name of Future Wife: COWAN, Lucretia Mary
Residence: Quebec
Reference: RG 4 B28
Volume: 38
Bond Number: 2086
Date: 1838-05-21
Microfilm Reel Number: H-1131

Name of Future Husband: COWAN, David
Residence: Montreal
Name of Future Wife: FLINN, Ann
Residence: Montreal
Reference: RG 4 B28
Volume: 39
Bond Number: 2133
Date: 1839-03-15
Microfilm Reel Number: H-1131

Name of Future Husband: LANCONS, John
Residence: St.Andrews
Name of Future Wife: COWAN, Maria
Residence: St.Andrews
Reference: RG 4 B28
Volume: 40
Bond Number: 2520
Date: 1840-02-03
Microfilm Reel Number: H-1131

Name of Future Husband: COWAN, Hugh
Residence: Montreal
Name of Future Wife: LINTON, Elizabeth
Residence: Montreal
Reference: RG 4 B28
Volume: 41
Bond Number: 2713
Date: 1841-07-19
Microfilm Reel Number: H-1132
Upper Canada
Name of Future Husband: COWAN, Alexander
Residence: Pittsburgh tp.
Name of Future Wife: MABEE, Rachel
Residence: Charlotteville Township
Reference: RG 5 B9
Volume: 20
Bond Number: 2238
Date: 1831-06-04
Microfilm Reel Number: C-6780

Name of Future Husband: COWAN, James
Residence: Elizabethtown Township, Leeds County
Name of Future Wife: SHERIFF, Marie
Residence: Cornwall
Reference: RG 5 B9
Volume: 17
Bond Number: 1319
Date: 1827-10-29
Microfilm Reel Number: C-6779

Name of Future Husband: GRAY, William
Residence: Dumfries Township, Halton County
Name of Future Wife: COWAN, Anette
Residence: Dumfries Township, Halton County
Reference: RG 5 B9
Volume: 35
Bond Number: 6374
Date: 1838-10-21
Microfilm Reel Number: C-6787

Name of Future Husband: SHAW, James
Residence: Puslinch Township, Halton County
Name of Future Wife: COWAN, Margaret
Residence: Waterloo Township, Halton County
Reference: RG 5 B9
Volume: 42
Bond Number: 8174
Date: 1840-03-02
Microfilm Reel Number: C-6790

Name of Future Husband: COWAN, Thomas
Residence: Richmond Township, Midland District
Name of Future Wife: CAMPBELL, Margaret
Residence: Richmond Township, Midland District
Reference: RG 5 B9
Volume: 43
Bond Number: 8528
Date: 1841-03-06
Microfilm Reel Number: C-6791

Name of Future Husband: COWAN, George
Residence: Bytown
Name of Future Wife: PATTERSON, Margaret
Reference: RG 5 B9
Volume: 44
Bond Number: 8836
Date: 1844-11-06
Microfilm Reel Number: C-6791

The only thing you take with you when you're gone is what you leave behind. - John Allston

Monday, May 23, 2005

Queer as Folk

Darn that Colin! He keeps getting me hooked on great TV series! First Buffy, then Angel, and the Gilmore Girls (still working on that one), and now Queer As Folk. I had heard good things about all of them, but tried to start watching too late in the series to figure out who was who. Now that they are all available on DVD, we can go back to the beginning and see them they way they should be watched. No commercials, and no waiting for next week!

We've watched the first 3 episodes of season one, and I'm hooked. I love the characters, although I want to shake some self-esteem into some of them. So far I know the 4 main characters, all gay men, along with Sharon Gless' Debbie Novotny, the supportive, funny and profane mother, 17-year old Justin and his high-school friend Daphne, and the lesbian couple Mel and Lindsey. Brian is definitely the leader of the pack, the alpha male vibrating with attractive sexuality. He says to heart-broken Justin, "I don't believe in love, I believe in fucking. It's honest, it's efficient - you get in and out with a maximum of pleasure and a minimum of bullshit. Love is a lie straight people tell themselves they're in, so they can get laid. And then they end up hurting each other because it's all based on lies." Yeah, Brian has no issues!

Michael the narrator is the son of Debbie, and still in love with Brian, his life-long best friend. Closeted-at-work Ted and flamboyant Emmett round out the crew of regular characters. Yes, this is a soap, and sure, almost everybody is gay. However, in my opinion, it's really about the American idea of consumerism battling with our human need for connection with those we love. This show is for everybody. Warning for young viewers, though - the sex is graphic, although the penises are usually under wraps.

Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old. - Franz Kafka

Friday, May 20, 2005

Fixing Gays

Seems that the fundamentalist right in the US has come up with a new way to attack gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, with their discredited and damaging "reparative therapy". PFOX is a leader in this faux movement; the "Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays." I'm not going to link to this group -- Google if you must. Even if it were the right thing to do (and I don't think it is), it doesn't work. See Free Z. - Testimonies: We Never Really Changed:

and Reparative Therapy - A Psuedo Science:

These people should all read the book Prayers for Bobby by Leroy Aarons. See the first few pages at

An example of the real-world consequences of this kind of crap, and the damage it can do (happening right now): (unfortunately, most of this blog has been removed, because of what happened)

Another example, from the Love Welcomes All conference:

Interesting article using Zach's case as illustration - What's 'mental health' in a theocracy?

A wonderful comic based on Zach's true story - FreeZ:

Beyond Ex-Gay:

What are the "ex-gay" crowd up to now? Ex-Gay Watch: and Truth Wins Out:

News note on Christianity Today weblog - U.K. Ex-Gay Ministry Quits Effort, Says Trying Changing Orientation Is Hopeless:

A funny/serious take on it - Doin' Time in The Homo No Mo Halfway House: How I Survived the Ex-gay Movement:

And another -

Nice summation on the subject at Wikipedia - Ex-gay:

PFLAG also has a good summation of the issue - Social Work Today:

An emotional and personal account - Jesusland, By Max Gordon:

Find some local groups at the National Directory of LGBT Community Centers:

Excellent collection of links by Gabi Clayton:

Some websites to check out, if you are confronted with this dreck:

Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse:

Scholarly article - Homosexuality and the Bible by Walter Wink, Professor of Biblical Interpretation, Auburn Theological Seminary, New York City:

To Educate About the Consequences of Homophobia: -
Bob and Mary Lou Wallner have written a book called The Slow Miracle of Transformation.

Love Welcomes All:

Whosoever: The Bible and Homosexuality:

A Letter to Louise - A Biblical Affirmation of Homosexuality:
And see some GLBT religious organizations:
Soul Force:
What the Bible Says, and Doesn't Say, about Homosexuality
A False Focus on My Family
Christian Youth: An Important Voice in the Present Struggle for Gay Rights in America

Finding an open and welcoming congregation -, Institute for Welcoming Resources (The Task Force):

Evangelicals Concerned:

National Religious Leadership Roundtable:

DignityUSA - GLBT Catholics:
And finally, a wonderful interview with Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong, about his book The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love on KUOW radio:

Wonderful collection, GLBTQ Spirit:, and Alex Sanchez's (Rainbow Boys, God Box) links:

Three Soulforce booklets, available as hardcopy or free download: What the Bible Says, and Doesn't Say, about Homosexuality, A False Focus on My Family, Christian Youth: An Important Voice in the Present Struggle for Gay Rights in America.

Also see Open Letter to Dr. Laura concerning her Condemnation of Homosexual People:

And Marriage, the Bible, and Mr. Bush:

New group in Virginia - New gay-friendly coalition offers faith-based alternative: Organizers aim to be the antithesis of the vocal conservative Christian set:

White Ribbon Campaign

Raising Awareness about Gay-Teen Suicide

And remembering those who we've lost

Mistakes are the portals for discovery. - James Joyce