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Been Awhile But I'm Still Here


OK, OK. I apologize. I have been very negligent in posting to my personal blog. Yes, I admit it. I have a habit of starting things and not really finishing them. But I am, in fact, still here. And I am resolving to do better at posting frequently to my personal blog.

The reason I am posting this message today is because I had another discussion/argument with a good friend that just left me stunned yet again. Once again I found myself shocked that an otherwise intelligent, educated, articulate, and progressive friend not only wasn't aware of, but actually argued with me, that gay and lesbian people are protected from employment and housing discrimination by existing federal civil rights laws.

Let's be clear folks. No, the federal civil rights laws that prohibit housing and employment discrimination do not protect sexual orientation, they only cover race, creed, color, religion, national origin, gender, age and disability.

And that's it!

This means that it is perfectly legal for an employer to fire a person for being gay or lesbian, or to refuse to hire him or her in the first place. In fact, if a person were to identify as gay or lesbian, it is absolutely legal under federal law for the employer to say, "you're gay, I don't like gay people, so you're fired."

This means that it is legal for a landlord to say to, "I don't rent to homosexuals" to an openly gay or lesbian couple.

Yes folks, this is legal!

OK now I will admit that, yes, if someone were to be that blatant in being homophobic there would likely be backlash and it would probably be a public relations fiasco for the person or company doing that, but we're not talking about whether or not it's right or wrong. We are talking whether or not it's legal. And it totally is, I promise you.

Here, read this: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/sexual-orientation-discrimination-rights-29541.html

Also, to clarify, let's get specific.

OK, yes, federal employees (people who work for the federal government) are protected against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (being gay or lesbian).

Also, there are individual private companies which chose on their own to include sexual orientation in their list of classes which they will not discriminate against. This is true too. But not all companies do this by any means. There are some rather large Fortune 500 companies which famously do not include sexual orientation in their company nondiscrimination policies.

And, there are some states which include sexual orientation in their own state laws against employment and housing discrimination, but not very many, and Texas is not one of them.

Finally, there are some towns and cities which protect gays and lesbians from housing and employment discrimination too, but again, not very many, and Dallas is not one of them. 

Also, let's be clear that we are talking about housing and employment, not marriage or domestic partner benefits/insurance. We are talking about housing and employment.

The bottom line is, despite widely held public opinion, it is perfectly legal for an employer or landlord to look right in a the eye of an obviously gay or lesbian person and say, "We don't allow gays here, sorry."

Is this wrong? Yes. Would there be public outcry? Yes. Is it bad business? Yes. Would it create bad publicity? Yes.

But it's legal.

In early 1991, despite all the realities I just pointed out about it being wrong, bad business, a public relations nightmare, etc., a company called Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Restaurants decided they were a "family" restaurant business and wanted to promote a "family-friendly environment" in their restaurants and summarily fired all their employees, company-wide, who were either gay or lesbian, or whom they perceived to be gay or lesbian. They did so blatantly and without shame.

Was there an outcry? Yes. Were people pissed off at them for it? Yes. Was there a boycott? Yes.

But it was legal.

Now to be fair to Cracker Barrel, they did respond to the public outcry and change their policy. In 2004 they even added sexual orientation to the list of protected classes in their nondiscrimination policy. But the fact is, it was legal for them to do it.

So folks, I applaud you for being upset that people would fire or refuse to rent to a gay or lesbian person. I would be too. I agree with you that it's wrong. But it is legal.

Think about that the next time you hear someone scream about gays and lesbians asking for "special rights."

Living in the Future


Have you ever stopped to think how awesome it is that you live in the future?

 

I mean I get that we don't have flying cars or anything (still pissed at Back to the Future for getting my hopes up), but many of the things we do have are just amazingly cool.

 

I'm thinking specifically of smartphones. Right now, for example, I'm using the talk to text feature on my smartphone to write this blog. You just speak and the words appear on the screen.

 

Cool right? I know! It Doesn't always get everything correctly though. Like the other day I was trying to tell a person in a text message "bye sis" and it came out "buy asses."

 

Yeah, that could have lead to some unfortunate purchasing decisions.

Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.

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Happy Now Libba?


OK OK, my friend Libba has been on me about not keeping my daily blog updated. So, here we go. I'm back.

Not really much to report on. I had a birthday on July 16th (still waiting on those presents folks), and the anniversary of my father's death was last Friday (the 16th of September), but other than that it's been uneventful.

I got a new smart phone, and I have fallen in love with it. I wonder just how the hell I ever got along without a smart phone all these years!

Anyway, I'll be updating more often now. Thanks for reading my blog!

- Cliff

All Moved In


Hi Everybody!

Sorry it's been so long since I last posted, but I've been busy. I moved into a new place in the Brook Hollow neighborhood of Dallas. I'm quite taken with the view, and I love that it's close to both work and my mother's house.

In other news, I'm really enjoying my job with Eagle Systems. I am learning a great deal about the business of transporting hazardous waste and the rules and regulations involved. And the truckers I talk to love to tell me how they feel about pretty much everything. I've learned that Coca-Cola syrup is considered both a corrosive and a flammable hazardous material, but that some bug sprays are not. I've learned that the transportation industry uses either a Department of Transportation standard for placarding trucks as carrying hazardous waste, or a United Nations numbering system, and that both have their flaws and advantages. In short, the system could use an overhaul.

All in all, things are going well for me. Quite happy to be back in Dallas.

Well, time to do laundry. See ya!

- Cliff

Well, I'm Still Here


Hi Everybody,

Well, I'm still here. I guess that either (a) the Rapture didn't happen as predicted, or (b) I'm destined for Hell. I'm leaning toward the Rapture not having happened. Turns out this doomsday-predicting preacher, Harold Camping, apparently made the exact prediction in 1994 and was wrong then too. (I don't know about you, but I'm kind of wondering where he's getting the money for the billboards.)

The day after the Rapture was supposed to hit though, Dallas was hit with several tornadoes. I was at work when the sirens went off. The office manager called me and told me to get everyone who was outside inside, to lock the gate, and to get the heck inside ASAP. I didn't need to be told twice. One guy jumped out of his truck and ran inside, leaving the truck in the middle of the lot.

We made it out of the storm with no casualties (unless you count the blown-over Porta-Potty), but I gotta admit, the whole time it was going over I found myself wondering if maybe this was Judgement Day after all. LOL.

- Cliff

After Rapture Looting Party and New Job


Well, are you ready?

The world is supposed to end tomorrow, remember? At least that's the latest prediction, according to http://www.wecanknow.com/.

Personally, I'm not holding my breath, but if the Rapture does come tomorrow, and I'm still here I will be a little miffed. LOL.

I also plan to go to the After the Rapture Looting Party being advertised on Facebook. Last I looked, they had over 400,000 people planning to "attend" the looting. LOL.

In other news, I'm liking my new job. Although the place in Rockwall was very nice, as I said in my previous blog entry, this new place in Dallas is considerably better. With Eagle Systems (my new employer), I have more money, a Dallas work site, and full benefits, including life, health, dental, accident, cancer indemnity, and something called "specific event" health insurance. It's all through AFLAC too, which is a good company.

Well, now I have to update all my addresses and stuff again. Oh well, all for a good reason.

You know? If the Rapture comes right after I got my new job, I'm really gonna be miffed! LOL.

- Cliff

I Love My Workplace!


Wow!

I really love this place in Rockwall where I'm working right now! The facility manager is super nice, and doesn't think she's above everyone else. She sits and talks to people, and engages them in conversation. She sincerely listens to them when they talk to her.

The training they provide is top-notch. The training coordinator isn't arrogant or condescending, like so many training people seem to be, but is still thorough. Every morning there are fresh donuts, fresh coffee, and fresh fruit. The employee lounge has a big screen TV with cable, 3 sofas, 2 microwave ovens, 2 refrigerators, and tables with cloth tablecloths.

Seriously, this is a very a nice facility. I'm really going to miss this place when I leave.

- Cliff

Hooray!

I finally got a long-term work assignment, after waiting more than 2 weeks for them to get off their corporate kiesters and give me a project. I'm quite happy.

Until then, I am enjoying a day of rain and French Fries at McDonald's, along with copious quantities of Dr. Pepper and high speed Internet bandwidth of 11 Mbps downstream.

On the way into McDonald's, however, and while holding my laptop bag in one hand and my notebook in the other and trying to awkwardly open the door, I managed to pull the door directly into my open toe (because I was wearing my traditional hippie-liberal sandals), cutting it and making me bleed all over McDonald's nice shiny floor.

Fortunately a nice lady had a Band-aid, and it appears I will live.

Good. I wanted Dr. Pepper. Can't enjoy a Dr. Pepper if you're dead from toe injury.

- Cliff

The End of the World is Nigh?


Have you heard?

It seems the world is going to end when Christ comes back for the Rapture on May 21, 2011.

Perhaps you've seen the billboards announcing that "We Can Know," but if you haven't the website says it all:

http://www.wecanknow.com/

I've been hearing these Doomsday predictions my whole life. When I was 12 in 1978 and the hostages were in Iran, everyone was saying Ayatollah Khomeini was the Antichrist and the end was near.

Then in 1979, I heard that all the planets in our solar system were going to line up in some kind of convergence and the world would end just before New Year's Day in 1980. There was even a local Pentecostal minister that managed to convince a friend of mine's dad to sell his brand new truck because he wouldn't need it after the Rapture, which was coming in a few days.

In the early 80s I read Hal Lindsey's book "The Late Great Planet Earth" that the world would end as soon as the European Economic Community accepted its 10th member. (The European Economic Community is now the European Union and has way more than 10 members, but this hasn't kept Lindsey from updating his predictions every few years and continuing to sell books. despite being wrong over and over again. Take a look at his Wikipedia page, the listing "Hal Lindsey.")

Then in 1987 I heard from the New Age Movement that, once again, the world was going to end when all the planets in our solar system lined up in what they called the "harmonic convergence." As you can probably tell, we're all still here.

In 1999 it was Y2K. The world was supposed to end when all the computers failed because they were going to think it was 1900 and not 2000. I had a friend that barricaded herself in a hotel with hard copies of all her financial records, convinced the end was nigh. Another friend had stocked up on cans of gas, food, and other survival gear, and has filled her bath tub with drinkable water. I went to a hellacious party on New Year's Eve 1999, and then went home, slept, and woke up to the world, still alive and well (although with a massive hangover.)

My grandmother told me that she heard all these same things growing up. She said Hitler was believed by people to be the Antichrist, and that the world was going to end at that moment. So, I guess I gotta say I'm a little skeptical at these end of the world predictions.

As a final note, I recommend looking at these website, which shows that failed doomsday predictions are not uncommon:

http://listverse.com/2008/09/18/top-10-failed-apocalyptic-predictions/
http://www.randi.org/encyclopedia/appendix3.html

Remembering to be American and Human


In light of all the celebrations and joyousness about the death of Osama bin Laden, I find myself glad that many of my friends feel the same way I do, that one should not celebrate even an enemy's death, and that we should remain cautious that terrorism will not only continue, but will now likely escalate as extremists flock to avenge their leader.

I saw a quote on Facebook supposedly from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but it was actually slightly adulterated. The actual King quote, with my own sentiments, says it all: I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I do not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. "Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I'm also pleased that news is quickly coming out to challenge the ideas that the location and assassination of Osama bin Laden was the result of intelligence gathered via CIA secret prisons and water-boarding (torture). The link is here:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/05/03/972665/-Rumsfeld-confirms:-Waterboarding-did-not-net-intelligence-that-led-to-binLaden.

Also, the initial demonization attempt to characterize bin Laden as having used a woman as a human shield has been corrected. That link is:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/2011/05/bin_ladens_wife_not_killed_in_raid_white_house_say.php/.

In no way do I mean to suggest Osama bin Laden was anything other than an evil man! However, I think we should stick to the truth and not embellish.

Finally, I'm also quite glad to see that Pakistan is coming under scrutiny. It is absurd, in my opinion, to think that high-level officials in Pakistan were not aware that Osama bin Laden was hiding in plain sight in their country. He was in a fortress/mansion/compound which was originally a Pakistani intelligence service safe house, in a Pakistani military town, 60 miles north of the capital city of Pakistan, and a half mile from the Pakistani version of West Point. And Pakistan knew nothing? Come on. Does anyone seriously believe that?

The bottom line for me in all of this is that we need to remember who we are as human beings and as Americans. Americans do not parade in the streets draped in their own flag dancing and thanking God that someone was killed, not even a major enemy. Taking out Osama bin Laden was a necessary evil, not our turn in a grand football game. If Americans truly have superior ethics, values, and morals to those like bin Laden, then we do not celebrate death.

Additionally, we must remember that the American Way is to value rule of law, human rights, life, and justice rather than vengeance. Dumping Osama bin Laden's body in the ocean was probably not the wisest move, despite the need to avoid giving extremists a holy site to use as a shrine. (Although this shows an ignorance of al-Qaeda's perverted form of Islam. Osama bin Laden was a Wahhabist, and they don't believe in having marked graves or in grave visitation.)

My personal preference? I would have preferred that we had sent in a team to capture Osama bin Laden alive, then dragged him before a world tribunal to answer for his crimes against humanity, like the Israelis did with Adolf Eichmann. But I admit that bin Laden likely would never have allowed himself to be taken alive, which is why I call his death a necessary evil.

As I close out my rant today, I want to remind everyone also that truth is always the first casualty of war, and that even this act by the United States was an action taking place in a war. So let's be skeptical and careful with how we view any information coming in about what went down and how it happened. 

And also, perhaps most important of all, let's not forget that the death of Osama bin Laden will likely result in retaliation and acts of vengeance against Americans and our allies. Celebrations can easily aggravate that.

- Cliff