Friday, February 16, 2007

Filthy Pigs

A friend of mine sent me a link to a Rolling Stone article criticizing the American pig farmer. Before you click on that link, let me caution you that it is pretty graphic and I am still nauseated by the images portrayed. If you have eaten anything with pork in it in the last 4 hours, you should probably wait.

Typically, I am a proud supporter of the ag industry and have little aversion to eating meat. However, I made the unfortunate choice of eating sausage this morning before reading the article. Tasty sausage, though it was, this article exposes some of the less glamorous truths about pig farms (are there any glamorous truths?).

The particular pig farm Rolling Stone wrote about was Smithfield Farms in Smithfield, Virginia. That particular farm is one of the largest pig farms in the United States, slaughtering 27 million hogs each year for an $11 billion profit.

Another notable number is that they spilled approximately 4 million gallons of pig excrement waste into Virginia rivers and streams and have allegedly leaked much more into ground water. This is in addition to the overpowering fecal smell surrounding the plant that is so lethal pigs and men have both died from the smell.

The article reads much like a less socialist excerpt from Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and I made the very same mistake President Teddy Roosevelt was purported to do: eating sausage for breakfast before reading the dirty truths of the meat industry. Seriously, I could have done without reading about pig shit this morning.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Gay Drama in the NBA

It's been a while since I did a sports related post here at the Land of Fruits and Nuts. Frankly, I don't like basketball much and Cal's season leaves a lot to be desired. There was once a time when Cal fans would leave football games saying, "just wait until basketball season." Now, Old Blues are wishing to bypass college hoops to get back to fall, football, and Tedford.

My basketball post today isn't so much on the sport as in the Gay drama surrounding it. Between Anna Nicole updates and news stories featuring crazed astronauts in diapers, a few news sources have featured John Amaechi's recent coming out. Amaechi is the first NBA player to admit he is Gay and the sixth pro-player of any major American sport's league.

There is nothing really all that remarkable about Amachi coming out of the closet. We all know that lots of Gay people exist and that, statistically, there must be many more closeted athletes in every major sport, probably on every team. But what is interesting, but unsurprising, is the level of homophobia present in the world's premier basketball league.

Amaechi, in his new book, Man in the Middle, reportedly wrote about his homophobic coach. Recently, former Miami Heat star

Saturday, February 10, 2007

GOP Convention in Sacramento

Today is the second day of the CRP Convention held in Sacramento. I haven't had much of a break here yet but have seen all of the usual faces, bloggers, movers and shakers, and other celebrities of the California Republican Party.

While GOP might not stand for Gay Old Party, there seems to be quite a delegation of out Republicans running around the convention center this weekend. In fact, prominant Gay Republican bloggers BoiFromTroy and Kevin Norte have both been spotted frequently. Tonight, one of the larger hospitality suites will be hosted by the California Log Cabin Republicans and will feature a Hawaiian Luau theme.

Tomorrow morning the general session will commence and delegates will discuss policy issues and candidates for statewide offices within the Republican party. It currently looks like Chuck DeVore's plan to remove the authority of Republican primary voters to support a Presidential candidate is going down in flames. Late in the week, Duf Sundheim, Ron Nehring, and others wrote a letter condemning the plan and urging members to vote against it.

Unfortunately, not all of the votes are going so well. Southern California members elected Jon Fleischman of the FlashReport. This, of course comes the morning after Fleischman campaigned to Log Cabin members by explaining that he will never support Gay Rights, will never attempt to understand or accept "the Gay lifestyle," or support the chartering of Log Cabin Republican chapters. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Hopefully other rightwing candidates won't find as much luck in the elections tomorrow. Most notably, Tom Bordonaro (a member of the rightwing California Republican Assembly) is running against Tom Del Becarro. Members of the party need to recognize that our relevance is at stake if we don't take a more moderate, inclusive position.

I know where my vote is.

Is Everybody Running?

Apparently the only people not running for President in 2008 are Arnold Schwarzenegger and me. I attribute the lack of both of our candicacies to constitutional ineligibility for the Oval Office.

Now that Clinton and Obama have publicly announced, Giuliani has filed papers, and McCain and Romney are expected to announce their intentions soon. Add to these candidates Duncan Hunter, Joe Biden, and other unlikely hopefuls and the race for the White House will be quite a crowded one.

This year will be a fun one for political crackheads!

Friday, February 02, 2007

A Post About Gavin Newsom (But Not His Affair)

While California is still reeling over Mayor Gavin Newsom's latest romance, I want to focus on what made Mayor McDreamy the political star that he is today. Hint: it wasn't his looks or money.

On February 12, it will have been three years since Mayor Newsom declared same-sex marriage legal in California. While he did not have the authority to interpret state law (that role is reserved for the courts) he did force California to consider the issue with urgency. On that fateful day in 2003, Newsom's protest shook California like an earthquake and initiated a series of lawsuits now pending in the California Supreme Court to determine whether Gays and Lesbians have the legal right to marry.

I have already written about my personal views on Gay Marriage (as a refresher: I support Gay Marriage but think there are more important and urgent Gay rights issues that must be addressed immediately). Still, I applaud efforts in California to show heterosexual people the inequality faced by Gay men and women.

The Yolo County Clerk-Recorder, Freddie Oakley, was featured in the Sacramento Bee today because she is doing just that-making more apparent the inequality faced by Gay couples in this state.

Ms. Oakley is statutorily unable to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, so she has developed a certificate of inequality to grant instead. Obviously, Gay people already know that we are treated unequally under state laws, but these certificates have continued to draw attention to the disparity. Although Governor Schwarzenegger has signed legislation that grants every state-provided benefit and responsibility of marriage to domestic partners, Domestic Partnerships are still unequal to Marriage in both name and federal benefits.

In short, I applaud the efforts of both Newsom and Oakley for keeping Gay rights on the forefront of California politics.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Hippies More Wood!

If you follow Cal sports, environmental politics, or the City of Berkeley, then chances are that you have heard about or seen the hippies living in the trees at California Memorial Stadium.

Unfortunately, this is not some giant publicity stunt to draw attention to Wonder-Coach Jeff Tedford and the California Golden Bears.

Instead, the Ewoks have taken to the trees to prevent the University from cutting them down to make progress on retrofitting the stadium and building a new sports complex near the site. The tree-sitters claim that the University is threatening to cut down one of the last old-growth woodland areas in Berkeley.

The biggest problem with their argument is that it isn't an old growth woodland area nor is it one of the last surviving woodlands around.

The trees around the stadium were planted by the University and only four predate the stadium itself: three oaks and a redwood. Those who make a short trek to another shrine to Cal athletics, the Tilden Statue near Haas Pavilion, will find themselves surrounded by a lush woodland protected by the University. In fact, many other wooded areas exist on campus, several with University protections to prevent the flora and fauna from being disturbed.

The University has agreed that some environmental disruption will occur as a result of the new construction, but plans to mitigate the damage by planting three new trees for each one that is removed. Further, it is important to note that the University planted those trees on University land several decades ago as part of a landscaping design. It should be well within the ability of the University to remove the trees. Besides, the stadium is of more historical, cultural, and economic value than the trees in question.

What is most interesting is what groups have entered into the fight: most notably, the Panoramic Hill Neighborhood Association (PHNA). PHNA has a long history of being a thorn in the side of the University, the students living on Southside, the Greeks, and Coops. It is no secret that they have opposed construction on the stadium on the basis of the noise, lights, and traffic in the area. They have latched onto tree preservation because it is just the latest in their many attempts to stop the progress of the University community.

The Panoramic Hill Neighborhood Association doesn't love trees; they hate student life.

In conclusion, Berkeley hippies, Ewoks, and the PHNA are forming an evil axis that hates students, Cal, and college football. They should be opposed at all costs.