Surprise, surprise!

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So I’m sitting there at the Visalia Pride Lions 5th anniversary luncheon last Saturday, when a friend of mine gets up to make a presentation.  It immediately got surreal when the very first words out of his mouth were “Jim Reeves”. Needless to say, he caught my attention, and I’m wondering “just what is going on?”  It turns out that the entire board and a bunch of the members of the local LGBT Lions group managed to keep me in the dark, and without a clue, that they were planing to honor me with 2015 “Heart of a Lion” award.

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Sandy Waymack and Slade Childers present the award.

Here’s what Slade had to say:

Introduction

Quite a surprise, and completely unexpected! I was and am honored to be chosen for this recognition, and I thank the Visalia Pride Lions profusely.

Missouri Sheriff puts “IN GOD WE TRUST” on every patrol car

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Photo: Valerie Mosley/News-Leader

Jim Arnott is the Sheriff of Greene County, Missouri.  He recently had “IN GOD WE TRUST” lettering added to about 100 patrol cars because, as he said, “I like it“.

I became aware of this through the Facebook page “Sheriff Deputies“, when they posted the picture to the news feed. Disappointingly, it’s getting a lot of approval from others.  Few seem to understand, or even care, why it is highly inappropriate for this kind of religious proselytizing to exist in a government agency.

Our own community has recently had issues with law enforcement lending it’s imprimatur to a purely religious ceremony, and many are defending the decision of government officials to attend.  Here, they’ve dismissed the connection with the keynote speaker, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a designated hate group, as inconsequential.  The Sheriff told the Visalia Times Delta that he didn’t “get any detailed information about Perkins and his reported agenda until after he and his command staff left”.  At least the Sheriff here is claiming ignorance of Perkins and his agenda, but the Missouri Sheriff is more direct in his statements.

Sheriff Arnott has unilaterally decided that his religious beliefs can be displayed on government property as he sees fit.  Since most people in his area are Christians, few see any problem with the idea.  They seem to view the idea of the long-established legal concept of separation of church and state to mean government cannot intrude on religion, but religion is free to intrude and impose on government.

A person who had questioned the wording on patrol cars garnered this reaction from Sheriff Arnott:

I’m guessing she is offended by it. If that’s the case. I’m hoping that she does not use any of our currency either.”

U.S. currency carries the legend “In God We Trust.”

Many city councils, county supervisors chambers, and other government structures have “IN GOD WE TRUST” prominently displayed, and it’s pretty much impossible to find elected officials, or even bureaucrats, who are willing to challenge the placement of clearly religious wording in government facilities.  The Supreme Court didn’t help matters by ruling in favor of those who want religion wrapped around their government.

I find it disappointing that so many are content to allow government to grant a seal of approval to religious dogma, in clear violation of the idea that it should be completely neutral when it comes to such matters.  They’re quite happy with the mixing of church and state, as long as it’s their church.  I wonder how complacent they would be if it said “ALLAHU AKBAR”? Or “IN VISHNU WE TRUST”?  Changing the name of the god should make it clear why any of them are inappropriate.  If the Sheriff and his deputies want such sentiments on the cars they drive, let them put them on their own vehicles.  Patrol cars are not the place to, as we LGBT advocates have been accused of doing every time we talk about rights, “shove it down our throats” in public.

Will the USA cease to exist as we know it if the minimum wage is raised to $15?

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mcdonaldsautomated

You’ve seen this one, right?  It’s been making the rounds on Facebook and other social media sites recently.  The message is, of course, that demanding an increase in the minimum wage will cause employers to switch to automated systems, and cause our minimum-wage workforce of teenagers working after school to simply dry up.  Of course, what they don’t tell you are two very relevant facts:  most minimum wage workers are adults, and automation has been taking jobs since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

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Christian haters make threats at every opportunity

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Haters gonna hate.  This is what the LGBTQ community has to put up with on a constant basis.  In the comment section of this online article by the local newspaper, the Visalia-Times Delta, a thinly veiled threat.

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Here’s the Facebook page of the hater.  This is his profile cover image.

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What would Jesus do?

Threats of violence from a follower of the alleged “Prince of Peace”.  Religion is more often than not a vehicle for personal prejudice and violence.

Update:  I thought the name sounded familiar.  This jerk is a well known hater from Porterville.  Surprise surprise.

Space Station Science Officer joins Trek designer for Leonard Nimoy/Spock tribute

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spock_tribute_ISSGreat tribute image by NASA, ISS science officer Samantha Cristoforetti, and Star Trek designer Michael Okuda. I’ll let slide the Next Generation communicator pin and it’s too-high placement on the tunic, and just enjoy the Enterprise NCC-1701 no bloody A, B, C, OR D! floating outside the window.  I would say the shirt is the wrong shade of blue, but with the recent flap about the color of clothing flying around the Internet these days, I’ll just let it pass.

#Mars hooey making rounds on #Facebook. Again.

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moon_mars_hooey

Since most people know more about astrology than astronomy (and, no, they’re not the same thing), this nonsense has been making the rounds on Facebook recently.  Needless to say (at least to anyone who paid attention in junior high school science class), Mars will not appear to be as big as the Moon.

The absolute closest distance the Earth and Mars can theoretically ever come to each other is 33.9 million miles.  We’ve never observed that, due to the elliptical nature of the orbits of planets. An approach that close requires a coincidental alignment of orbits that is exceedingly rare.  So rare, that it’s not been observed in human history.

For comparison, the orbits of Venus and the Earth can come within 24 million miles of each other.  The diameter of Venus is 3,032 miles, while Mars is 4,212 (not much difference in the grand scheme of planets).  Earth’s diameter is 7,918 miles. (give or take. It’s a bit more at the equator, less at the poles, due to the spin of the planet on it’s axis.)  Venus, even at it’s closest approach, 10 million miles closer than Mars ever gets, never appears as more than a bright star in the morning or evening sky, so the idea that Mars will look like our Moon is, simply, hooey.  Never going to happen.

If you ever do see something in the sky as big as the Moon (that’s not the Moon), we’re in deep shit.  That’s either the Death Star, or Gallifrey.

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Either one of those, and we’re screwed.

Even just standing around can get you in the newspaper!

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At Gay Porterville’s rally Tuesday, June 17, I got caught in the newspaper’s picture.  This image appeared in the Porterville Recorder’s print edition today.

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See my Alternating Currents blog for the story of the rally, here.

The entire photo after the jump.

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