Michigan Assistant AG — Unbelievable Hate Monger (UPDATE)

If you don’t already know about this story, you’re not going to believe it. If you do, you still can’t believe it, can you?

For nearly six months, Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general for the state of Michigan, has waged an internet campaign against college student Chris Armstrong, the openly gay student assembly president at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

It gets better. Keep reading. And there’s breaking news at the end.

“Welcome to ‘Chris Armstrong Watch,'” Shirvell wrote in his inaugural blog post. “This is a site for concerned University of Michigan alumni, students, and others who oppose the recent election of Chris Armstrong — a RADICAL HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVIST, RACIST, ELITIST, & LIAR — as the new head of student government.”

This idiot, this hate-filled idiot, has defaced Armstrong’s Facebook page, put up pictures of Armstrong with swastikas, and called him “Satan’s representative on the student assembly.”

And get this — he has picketed outside Armstrong’s house. Are you shitting me?

His boss, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, issued a written statement that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of his guy:

“Mr. Shirvell’s personal opinions are his and his alone and do not reflect the views of the Michigan Department of Attorney General,” Cox said in the written statement provided by his office to CNN’s “AC 360” Tuesday night. “But his immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear.”

I thought about posting the email for the AG in Michigan. I realized, though, that there’s not really anything the AG can do about this, since it is done outside of work hours. All I can do, and all you can do, is make clear to anyone around us that we think gay-bashing is wrong, that we won’t stand for it in our presence or in our organizations, and that it has to stop.


UPDATE: The student has filed for a restraining order against the gay-hater AAG. The University of Michigan has already banned the guy from the campus. Good on ya, Maize and Blue! Here’s hoping that the student gets the restraining order (court date Monday) and that this AAG is reduced to sputtering his hate to himself on his hate-blog.

Help Pakistan Thru Texting

Short and blunt — Pakistan is quickly becoming the worst human disaster in recent history.

The eyes see.  The ears hear.  Yet, somehow, the mind struggles to grasp the full dimension of this catastrophe.

Almost 20 million people need shelter, food and emergency care.  That is more than the entire population hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Kashmir earthquake, Cyclone Nargis and the earthquake in Haiti — combined.

At least 160,000 square kilometres of land is under water — an area larger than more than half the countries of the world.

U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon

Here’s what you can do — text “SWAT” to 50555. This goes through the State Department to the UN High Commission on Refugees, which then distributes the money to various aid groups. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s simple, and it’s cheap — but if enough people do it, it can make a difference.

Do it. Now. Before you stop reading.

Interesting moment in Sunday worship

So there I was, singing away on some hymn like I usually do, glad that it had four verses ’cause that meant that I could try to sing all four parts (not at once, although some claim I try that too), when a thought crossed my mind:

“You know, Bruce, you’re going to die some day. And when that day comes, your vocal cords will be stilled and you won’t be able to sing these hymns. And your hands will be stilled, and you won’t be able to type and write and speak your piece. You’ve only got so many notes and so many words in you, dude, so use them well, use them wisely — but above all, make use of them while you still have the chance.”

It wasn’t a bad moment, or a guilt moment, or anything like that. It was just sort of a start, a shift in perspective that said “speak out and sing out while you have breath to sing and speak.”

The other thing that seemed to go with it was — speak the truth, or at least the truth as you see it. Don’t be mean, but don’t hold back either. It would be easy to attribute that to being 57 and being past worrying about what other people think — but the truth is, I DO care, probably too much. So, I temper things, and try to be fair and even-handed, and in the process just water down what needs to be said. This moment was like being told “make it count, dude.”

Don’t know if anyone can relate to this. Don’t know if it means anything, or was just a nice thought during a worshipful moment. But, it meant something to ME, and I thought I’d share.

A Somewhat Strange Request

I have a somewhat strange request to make. I have an online acquaintance that I’ve never met face-to-face (who goes by exmearden), who is having cancer surgery tomorrow. (A tumor in the heart.) I would request any who would to say a prayer or send a good thought her way. More info in this story. Thanks!

Are You a Geek, Nerd, or Dork? Use This Venn Diagram to Check

OK — I thought this was pretty funny, and actually might even be accurate. If you get tired of correcting people who call you a “nerd” when actually you’re a geek, just send them to this link:

FINALLY: The Difference between Geek, Nerd, and Dork Explained by a Venn Diagram

And here’s the diagram:

I think that’s pretty classic. Visit the guy’s site and give him some love (== traffic).


A Book for Artists and Humans of All Kinds

Just finished The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s a book about the struggle to create art, to live to our higher calling, and to be and become what we are intended to be. And it has entered a very select category for me: Books That Changed My Life.

If you think that’s hyperbole, think again. Pressfield nails three concepts that any artist — indeed, any human — struggles with daily:

  • Resistance — that force that tries to prevent you from achieving what you are supposed to achieve.
  • Professional versus Amateur — how to approach your calling with the attitude of the Professional, not the Amateur — including the realization that Resistance is real and must be both respected and overcome, every day.
  • Muses and Angels — the idea that when you commit, even in the face of Resistance, there are forces outside of you that come to your aid and align themselves with you.

I’ll be honest — I wasn’t expecting that third section. Every since I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I have wondered about her assertion that the Universe helps you when you are moving down the right path, and that only by starting down that path will we find that out. Seemed too “new agey” for me. But even while I struggled with the concept, I had to acknowledge that there were times when my life felt “in the flow” and times when it didn’t. And, there were times when committing to write or create seemed to unleash forces within me, or even outside of me, that I didn’t know I had.

Pressfield’s discussion of Resistance is worth the cost of the book, all by itself. By putting a name and a personality on the force that seems to oppose our work, he gives us a way to identify, discuss, and defeat that force. It has already helped me to say “this is Resistance at work” in various areas of my life, and to begin using Pressfield’s strategies to fight back.

And lest any of you think this is only for artists, let me point out that Pressfield takes pains to note that Resistance and Being a Pro apply to any activity in our lives that can be classified as either Calling or Higher Purpose. He talks about writing, music-making, starting a business, helping others — almost any human activity that comes from Self and not Ego.

And yes, at the end of the book he ties it all together with a discussion of Ego versus Self. It provides a surprising ending to a surprising book. Whether or not you accept his metaphysical approach to Angels and Muses, the distinction he makes between Ego (the seat of Resistance) and Self is useful and insightful.

This is an important book for anyone looking to better understand the forces in their lives and the path to fulfilling their life’s purpose and calling. Get it, read it, apply it. It may become part of your collection of Books That Changed My Life.

For All You Weather Addicts

I’ve long been a weather addict. When I was about 10 my parents got me a home weather station, and I predicted the weather to our family all that summer. Got pretty good at it, too … though predicting summer weather is pretty easy in Knoxville.

It’s winter weather in The Ville that is a real challenge, and John Belski does it as well as anyone. So, I was excited to stumble across his blog last year. It’s an excellent resource if you like knowing the behind-the-scenes info — he lays out the various models and explains his thinking on the forecast in clear, understandable prose. Plus, there are a number of regular commenters that keep things lively; some are amateur weather people like me, so they like to debate and discuss the possibilities. All in all a great site to visit. Make the jump for the URL and another couple of weather sites to know about.

Here’s the URL for JB’s blog: http://wave3.typepad.com/belskis_blog. Check it out!

Another Couple of Great Weather Sites

One of my favorite sites is Weather Underground. It’s cram-packed with info, including one of the coolest weather radars I’ve ever seen: their Nexrad radar lets you animate it as much or as little as you want, and shows the various storms and their tracks — very handy for severe thunderstorms.

Finally, if you have an iPhone, use the Weather Underground site for mobile phones at http://i.wund.com. I have it bookmarked on my phone, and also on my laptop — it’s a quick-loading site with current conditions, current radar (static or animated), forecast, and warnings. Save the URL after you’ve entered your ZIP, and you can get the weather fast either on your phone or on your computer.

Oh, and one more thing — click the link for “Scientific Forecaster Discussion” to read the musings of the local National Weather Service office. Now you’re getting REALLY weather-geeky!

On Breasts

Now that I’ve got your attention, let me say first of all that what follows is written by a man — a man who is not a scientist, not a doctor, and not a woman. I do not face the threat of breast cancer with the same level of immediacy that a woman does. I do not have to diagnose it, and I don’t do research on it.

Nevertheless, I have to ask: Why in the world would you stop doing a self-exam that is quick, free, and saves lives?

I read Linda Ellerbee’s opinion piece in this morning’s C-J, and I think she points out what we all know: studies don’t trump common sense. Statistically, some studies show that breast self-exam (BSE) does not help: it does not lower the mortality rate, and it does not lead to earlier detection. These same studies also seem to show that women who practice BSE suffer through more biopsies, most of which are benign.

My first reaction is that the studies must be flawed. How can self-examination not result in earlier detection? Since I haven’t read the studies in depth, I can’t argue with the findings, even though they seem strongly counter-intuitive to me.

What I CAN argue with is the recommendation drawn from the study: stop doing BSE, because it doesn’t make a difference. Let me tell you — it made a difference to Linda Ellerbee. In fact, it saved her life.

The recommendations also lowered the schedule for mammograms. So what are women supposed to do now? Stop getting mammograms, stop doing BSE — sounds to me like the medical establishment is saying “It doesn’t matter what you do; if you’re going to get breast cancer, you’re going to get it, so don’t worry, be happy. Que cera, cera.”

I’m just a male blogger, posting my opinion in a little corner of the intertubes, but it seems pretty obvious to me: breast cancer kills, early detection is good, and BSE is easy and free. If I was a woman, I’d be doing it every month, study or no study. As Linda Ellerbee says, I’d rather be a live anecdote than a dead follower of the latest recommendations.

Sunday Morning in Chicago

On my way north – driving to Green Bay for the week – stopover in one of my fav cities, Chicago. Up early, drove downtown, parked at Millenium Park, then took off walking the Magnificent Mile. Here’s some pix from my phone:

You come out of the underground parking garage, and right off the bat you get to see interesting architecture like this:


Stopped to get coffee at Caribou Coffee, and in the men’s room — a picture of outhouses on the wall. Nice touch.

One thing you can surely say about Chicago: “We’ve got your skyscraper right here!”

Not many cities have a river running right through downtown — with drawbridges, yet!

Or grand old hotels that are still grand. (Check out the doorman!)

And of course, right at the end of the Magnificent Mile, you get architecture like THIS (the Water Tower):

Right across from architecture like THIS (the Hancock tower — note the Xs):

Walking back up, I stopped at the Chicago Tribune building, one of my favorite buildings both because of the architecture, AND because of the paper it represents. There on the wall is a great quote:

Finally, a serendipitous moment — about to cross back over the Chicago River, return to my car, and continue my journey, when I come upon THIS crazy piece of public art. Don’t know the artist, or why it was just standing in front of a construction site — but HAD to take the picture!

So, there you have it — a photo diary of my Sunday morning in Chicago. Hope you enjoyed viewing the pix as much as I enjoyed my morning stroll! And here’s to you Chicago — one of my favorite cities in the world.