Thursday, September 30, 2010

It Get's Better Project

In response to the rash of LGBT related suicides, Dan Savage launches a new project:

The It Get's Better Project

The Conversation: The 'It Gets Better' Project
Columnist Dan Savage Tells ABC's Jeremy Hubbard About Project to Help Gay Youth

Sept. 30, 2010—

When a Rutgers University student killed himself after his sexual encounter with another boy was broadcast online by his college roommate, he joined a growing list of gay suicides in recent months.

Rutgers student Tyler Clementi apparently jumped to his death from a New York City bridge after his privacy was compromised online, and earlier this week, a Houston teen was also driven to commit suicide after enduring anti-gay bullying in school.

Gay kids are four times more likely that straight kids to commit suicide, according to a recent study, and nine out of 10 gay kids report being bullied.

"Hearing about these kids that have committed suicide, the reaction as a gay adult is always, 'God, I wish I could have talked to them for fifteen minutes or five minutes and told them it gets better,'" said gay columnist Dan Savage.

In an effort to counter the despair and isolation that many young gay people feel, Savage has launched a YouTube channel to provide positive examples of gay adults living their lives and sharing that simple message -- it gets better.

"It occurred to me that we can talk to these kids now," Savage said. "We don't have to wait for an invitation or permission to reach out to them using social media and YouTube."

Savage's first video, recorded with his husband Terry, has had over 200,000 views on YouTube.

In the couple's video, Terry talks about enduring severe bullying as a teenager, recalling being beaten up, thrown against lockers and stuffed into bathroom stalls in his school.

"Sometimes in big urban centers and in media centers, we get the impression that things are universally great everywhere," Savage said. While things may be getting better in big cities, he added, "they're getting worse in small towns and rural areas. We've had fifteen years' worth of an aggressive campaign by the religious right to demonize and stigmatize gay people."

Dan Savage spoke to ABC's Jeremy Hubbard for a Conversation about his new project. We hope you'll watch.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

More on Redistricting

Another NYTimes story on redistricting and its effects on elections...

On the Electoral Map, a Few Pins Might Move

Odds are President Obama may have already lost six electoral votes and his re-election campaign hasn’t even begun.

New estimates released this week, based on the latest Census data, suggest that states in the Midwest and Northeast, which are generally Democratic-leaning areas, will likely have fewer Congressional representatives after redistricting, while others in the South and West that tend to favor Republicans will gain members of Congress.

But the shifting map also has implications for Mr. Obama’s re-election, since presidential electoral votes are based on the number of lawmakers who hail from each state.

Mr. Obama largely swept the Northeast and Midwest in 2008, so population losses there mean that a repeat of his strong performance in 2012 will net him 10 fewer electoral votes from the region.

That would not have made much difference in 2008, when Mr. Obama piled up 365 electoral votes to the 173 for Senator John McCain of Arizona. A 355-183 electoral vote result would have still comfortably made him president.

But there are reasons to believe that the 2012 contest could be far closer than the 2008 one, returning to a pattern that held for much of the last two decades.

In 2000 and 2004, both parties fought over every electoral vote: George W. Bush won by 35 electoral votes in 2004 and by only five in 2000.

“We’re likely to get back to the much closer model of elections in 2012,” predicts the Democratic strategist Tad Devine, who was a top strategist for Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts in 2004 and has spent years studying electoral maps. “It’s a loss for our side. There’s no doubt about it when you look at who’s gaining votes and who’s losing votes.”

Mr. Obama did win a few states in 2008 where population – and electoral votes – are expected to grow. Nevada and Washington will likely each gain one electoral vote and Florida will add two.

But most of the places where electoral strength is growing are “red states,” where Mr. McCain won and where Republicans are likely to continue winning: Texas (plus four), and Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina and Utah (plus one each). Louisiana and Missouri, where Mr. McCain won, are each expected to lose an electoral vote.

As both parties begin planning for the presidential campaign next year, each side starts with a number of states they believe they can count on winning again. The new population shifts mean the Democrats start with fewer electoral votes in their column, and the Republicans start with more.

The problem for Democrats, Mr. Devine said, “is when that list starts looking more like it did in the 1990s or 2000, 2004.”

“That’s kind of the real electoral list, when it was even-steven and you’re fighting for every electoral vote,” he added.

Mr. Devine said that Mr. Obama’s final electoral map will depend on many factors, including who his opponent is, the fund-raising prowess of the Republican party, the state of the economy at the time of the election and the success Mr. Obama has in overcoming the criticism that has depressed his popularity in recent months.

And some population changes are likely to help Mr. Obama, as well. In particular, the growth of the Hispanic population in places like Arizona, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico are positive for Democrats. Surveys also suggest that the Republican position on immigration continues to drive Hispanic support to Democrats.

White House aides and Democratic National Committee officials did not respond to requests to discuss the electoral map. Mr. Obama has not yet announced whether he will run for re-election, and Democratic officials are keenly aware that they should not appear to be focused on 2012 before the 2010 elections are over.

But the political team inside the West Wing is surely keeping a close eye on the electoral map, and how the country’s shifting population might help or hurt them.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

because i am a bonehead, today she receives:

Monday, September 27, 2010

back to the grind...the past two weekends i've been traveling and while i've had a blast, it does make me tired come monday. it will be a short/long week though as i leave thursday for ca through oct. 8, part fun, part work. got lots to accomplish at work before i leave, so here's to getting it all done!!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Check out the Brennan Center's work on what redistricting means in New York.

And, check out this NYTimes story:

How to Tilt an Election Through Redistricting

It was a gerrymander too ambitious for its own good.

When Pennsylvania lost two seats in Congress to the booming Sun Belt in 2000, the Republicans who controlled state government redrew the map of Congressional districts to pack Republican voters into as many districts as possible.

At first, the strategy worked. In the next election, the state’s delegation shifted to 12 Republicans and 7 Democrats, from 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats. Furious Democrats challenged the new map but the Supreme Court upheld it.

Instead of drawing, say, 11 Republican districts with comfortable margins of Republican voters, party strategists had tried to draw 12 or 13 Republican districts, but with slimmer margins. As it turned out, those margins were a bit too narrow, and, by 2006, Democrats had won those districts. The state now has 12 Democratic and just 7 Republican districts, the reverse of what the Republican gerrymander originally accomplished. “They took a risk, and it backfired,” said Edward G. Rendell, Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor.

Now, with the 2010 census complete, Democrats and Republicans across the country are preparing for another once-a-decade exercise in creative cartography. To gain the upper hand in the next redistricting, Pennsylvania Republicans are fighting to win back the governor’s mansion and the state’s House of Representatives. Independent analysts say a Republican surge in statehouses around the nation could leave them with the power to redraw as many as 25 Congressional seats in their favor.

So what are the tricks of the trade? Why do so many districts end up as misshapen Rorschach inkblots with nicknames like “the Earmuff,” “the Flying Giraffe,” or, in the case of a State Senate district in upstate New York, “Abraham Lincoln Riding on a Vacuum Cleaner”?

Both parties rely on sophisticated computer programs, savvy political operatives and election lawyers to push their maps through the frequent court challenges. But the basic principles of gerrymandering — known to the pros as “packing” and “cracking” — are simple, and used often.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

the reception

the beautiful bride:

good friends and giggling:

one of the greatest things i've seen at a wedding, a star chart in which the important people in cath and jer's lives are represented by a star in a constellation:

and we end the evening with a colorful bonfire:

Friday, September 24, 2010

welcome to pittsburgh

the smithfield street bridge:

smithfield street bridge, view to the east:

smithfield street bridge, view to the west:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I leave for Pittsburgh and I can't wait. So excited to see Jess, Cathie and Jeremy (who are getting married), Renee, Holly, Matt, Eric, Chris, everyone!

There are many times I miss Pittsburgh and think about what it would be like to move back there. The trouble is, while I love it, I think it's more nostalgia than anything :) so many good memories there. But lest I forget why I left in the first place...going to grad school and dreams of a better job.

It will always hold a special place in my heart and there will always be visits!!!

212 to 412 soooooooo soon :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

civics: part 1

The question of the day is what happened to civics education? Do students still take government in high school (or any grade for that matter)?

Certainly there will always be a range of engagement but more and more recently I am feeling as though people are so unengaged. One of the things that I liked most about the 2008 Presidential Primary is that it created an environment to talk about the role of delegates (and super-delegates) in the party nomination process. People were paying attention to the National Convention. Additionally, there was much dialogue about the Electoral College and getting to the magic number of 270, similar to the 2000 Presidential Election. Although that conversation centered more around the Electoral College and the popular vote.

My growing concern is the level of engagement in state and local politics. I get that some people are not interested in politics, but this is unlike fashion or reality shows or cinema or sports, this, politics has a direct (and sometimes) immediate impact on our individual lives. The city council member who opposes a large scale development project in you neighborhood that will drastically change the character of your neighborhood. The state senator who is challenging the incumbent who voted against same sex marriage, and their victory would bring NY one step closer to marriage equality. YET, no where close to a majority of eligible voters participate in Primary Elections (where in NY are quite competitive). Here in NY, like many states, district lines are being redrawn. In NY, it is done by the party in power, in the state Senate, Democrats currently have a narrow majority, if we cannot hold this majority in the upcoming election, we will not redraw district lines, the Republicans will, and the districts will continue to be drawn to skew their power and representation. I'm sure you will here more from me on this topic in the days and weeks to come.

So where does the change start? I'll be the first to admit that up until 2006 I only voted in the Presidential election, but then something clicked. The prior 8 years I was pretty transient, I voted absentee in Virginia through much of my undergrad, and didn't participate in the Primaries because I just never got the sense that "my vote mattered." At some point, after spending some time in Pittsburgh I decided it was time to register in PA. I registered with the Green Party. I was at the point in my life where I was fed up with "politics as usual." I, mistakenly thought this would change things up, really, it just locked me out of primary elections since there weren't competitive races on this party line.

In 2004, I was working in NJ but still registered to vote in PA, on my day off I drove to Pittsburgh, a 6 hour ride to simply VOTE. I voted for Kerry. We all know how that ended but the point is that I take my civic responsibility seriously. and it's only gotten more serious as the years pass.

part 2 will be posted in the coming days...more random thoughts and personal stories :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

because sometimes you've just got to smile!!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

i like to make things with playdoh that make people smile.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

After a fun weekend in Iowa and Illinois, i am excited to head back to NYC. As much as I love getting away from the city, I always love going back. Jen was a beautiful bride and the wedding was lovely. And as always, it was great seeing old friends, Steph, perhaps the oldest friend I've got. Met in 1989 at summer camp. Spending time with her this weekend makes me look forward tot he Alumni Reunion in October!!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

"What we do in life echoes in eternity"

Friday, September 17, 2010

Iowa wait no Illinois

beer in boots and tractors = fun on a friday

Thursday, September 16, 2010

the air stinks
with nostalgia,
sweatshirts nights
on rooftops.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

odds and ends

Thomas Jefferson once said: "If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket, what difference is it to me?"

I found this quote in a segment I stumbled upon this morning where Glenn Beck is talking to Bill O'Reilly about why he does not focus on cultural issues like that of gay marriage.

So now we have a growing list of GOP heavyweights who have declared that gay marriage is either valid, or not worth fighting about, include Laura Bush, Dick Cheney, Glenn Beck, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Cindy and Meghan McCain.

In other news, I'm reading a book I missed from 2004, "What's the Matter with Kansas." And we go back to the question of why, so often, people vote against their own self interest in a way to defeat cultural enemies, yet to be defeated.

Then of course, there is my topic of choice as of late: voter turn out. The NYTimes did a piece on the topic. It's an interesting analysis, covers primaries through Sept. 1, so NY is not included in the study. A big take away point is the decrease in partisan affiliated voters and partisan registered voters. There seems to be an increase in independent voters, the trouble with this is that the majority of states hold closed primaries in which you must be registered with the party to vote in the primary. I spoke with so many voters yesterday who were not eligible to vote in NY because they are registered Independents. The trouble here comes in that, at least in NY the battles are in primaries - the Democratic and Republican primaries. I think there is a misunderstanding among voters out there, people want change, people want a lack of party affiliation, both good things, the trouble is, is that there just aren't many primaries being fought on other party lines. So what ends up happening, is these voters vote in the general election with a choice of the candidates who won in the primaries...these voters are limiting their engagement, yet so thirsty for change.

Plenty more to say on all of this, but must get some things done...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Eric Schneiderman on his way to edge out a victory for Attorney General in NY. Now on to the general election on Nov. 2!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010


is primary day - you better VOTE!!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9 years ago today, the worst attack on America soil. 8 years ago today, a childhood friend loses a brother, after beating cancer. this year was the first time in 3 years that I did not need to be at Ground Zero for the ceremonies - that was always a rough morning. so much pain and sadness. this year was particularly interesting given the debate about the Islamic Community Center proposed just a few blocks north of Ground Zero. i wonder if as a country we've moved at all in terms of educating ourselves and being open to differences of others. i wonder what is the measure of progress. ignorance continues to rule in many circles. this is such an incomplete entry, but the bottom line is, i worry. i worry about the future...

Friday, September 10, 2010


so on TUESDAY New York has an important Primary election. Did you know that it is projected that less than 3%of the eligible voting population will vote? why do people not feel the need to engage in the electoral process, but complain all the time about things that they actually have a voice in?

VOTE people!!! people have fought hard for this RIGHT. for this RESPONSIBILITY. do it. just do it. educate yourself and get involved!!! sure a presidential election is sexy, but local politics impact your livelihood so much! that ugly building going up to block your view. fare hike in the subway. community gardens. stop signs. schools. potholes. you name it...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

an interesting day. mid-thursday with nothing to do, so i took a walk. a nice way to spend a bit of time, just me, and manhattan :-) it's nice to get lost among the millions. earlier i found out that a friend was in a bad motorcycle accident. she is currently in a coma and would ask for prayers and good thoughts for her, her girlfriend and their families. this is also a little public service announcement to remind people of the importance of wearing helmets, regardless of the law. life is precious, treat it that way.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010


i've been cheating. not really posting writing but instead random snippets. though i'm still posting, so it counts...

spent most of the weekend helping s prep her apt. for moving back in. cleaning, painting, and all in all making it a better space. looks good and gives me some good ideas for paint on canvass...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

summer is slowly coming to an end. i like this chill in the air.

Friday, September 3, 2010

i called out of work today, because i realized that i needed a lil' mental health day before i took a permanent work vacation. work is a funny thing, we go every day and spend most of our days there. work becomes even more interesting when you are "fighting" for your livelihood. movement work as they call it. underpaid and overworked, but the cause keeps you going. that and the support from the people around you, the friends who will listen to you go off on rants about civic engagement, the ones who will sit with you quietly through a few after work drinks, the ones who will sit with you late at night at work, or better yet, volunteer. at the end of the day, it's about change.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

a little over 4 years...

today was my last appointment with terri. it's a weird feeling. i'm happy. i'm sad. i'm scared. questions abound, as they do with me and a journey down the never ending list of possibilities, attempting preparation for the host of what ifs. i take a deep breath and think of my journey. trace salt rivers. swallow worry. i take another deep breath and trust.