Q: That sounds like great fun. Now, this being for my Gay Guide to Glee column, everyone wants to know about all the gay stuff. We all know your character will be a queer kid from a rival high school, and that he’ll befriend and become a mentor to Kurt. What we don’t know is, what kind of gay is he? Prissy? Butch? Bitchy? Evil? Dishy? Lying? Warm? Sporty? Tough? Slutty? Western? Chaste? Fashion forward? Retro? …”Normal?”
D: Those are all delightful adjectives for anyone gay or straight. I will say, um, the reference is that he’s very Tom Ford-ish. He’s very charismatic, put-together, composed guy. Gay. But I wouldn’t say he’s overly queeny, and not too butch either. He’s just very…composed. The fact that he’s gay isn’t at the forefront of who he is. It is in terms of who he is personally, yes, but in terms of how people perceive him, it seems very matter of fact. And it’s introduced almost as a superfluous part of who he is. Obviously it’s not. It’s a huge part of who he is. But in terms of how he wishes to be perceived, it’s not a huge part.
Blaine is a very, very cool cool guy. He’s experienced many of the same trials and tribulations that Kurt has. When we meet him, Blaine sees a lot of himself in Kurt, in terms of experiences and the way they feel about the world around them. He feels the need to impart his knowledge, be a source of strength for him, and really help him through what he’s going through. He has such a wonderful energy. I couldn’t feel more positive about this.
This is quite good. I just prefer Florence’s voice, but this is still good.
I am still on team Down With This Sort of Thing. It’s so bland, with none of the savagery and joy of Florence’s. (I had the same issue with their cover of All American Rejects - Gives You Hell. It just sounded bratty, not cheeky.)
At the end of a “60 Minutes” interview, the international pop icon went drinking with Cooper and got him tipsy.
“We actually ended up that day in a pub in London drinking Jameson, which I don’t really drink,” the anchor told The Insider. “So she got me to drink, like, two of them. And by the end, I was ready to have the interview be over, because I really sort of couldn’t ask anymore questions.”
Cooper sounds a bit like a lightweight, but he’s definitely a “Little Monster.” The hour-long show isn’t slated to air until Grammy night 2011, but the journalist is already gushing about the Grammy-winning singer.
“She’s obviously a fascinating person,” he told The Insider.
The high profile drinking buddies got together on a few occasions for the Q & A, and Cooper added that the show was a great way to get to know the trend-setting performer.
“What’s great about ‘60 Minutes’ is you spend a lot of time with the person you’re profiling. So to be able to spend a couple of weekends with [Lady GaGa] in various paces over the course of several months, it’s really cool. And it’s really interesting…I’m learning stuff about her I never saw before.”
I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.
This list is my favourite lists of all the lists. I also particularly enjoy that Austen got 3 quotes on this page. I rather enjoy this one.
“I am at a loss to understand why people hold Miss Austen’s novels at so high a rate, which seem to me vulgar in tone, sterile in artistic invention, imprisoned in their wretched conventions of English society, without genius, wit, or knowledge of the world,” - Ralph Waldo Emerson.
I disagree with some of them (obviously. I love Shakespeare and Salinger. More as well, but those stand out), but it’s still pretty great. Definitely agree about Gore Vidal.
A group of hippopotamuses rests motionless in the cool of an African freshwater spring. Schools of tiny fish have gathered round their flanks and feet, nibbling at parasites and sloughing skin. The hippos, far from passive participants, splay their toes, gape open their mouths and spread their legs to assist the fish in their cleaning services.
Five thousand miles away, in a Montreal lab, an iguana ventures away from her warm perch to retrieve a gourmet tidbit from a frigid corner of her terrarium, ignoring the dull, processed reptile chow just beneath her perch. It’s a reptilian version of shunning the fruit bowl and dashing out for doughnuts on a wintry night.
And in Bowling Green, Ohio, a pair of young rats utter ultrasonic squeaks as they chase a hand to be tickled. Rats accustomed to being petted also approach a hand, but not nearly so quickly, nor with as many squeaks as rats trained to expect a tickle.
These three examples of animal behaviour share a common, central element: pleasure. In each case, the motivation for the behaviour is the reward of a pleasurable experience.
“So what?” you might ask. If you have been owned by a cat or dog, you have probably witnessed the animal’s blissful comportment during a chin scratch or belly rub and received an indulgent nudge for more after withdrawing your hand.
But science - while more than willing to broach the important matter of animal pain - has shown a profound lack of interest in animals’ capacity for good feelings. We scientists prefer evolutionary explanations for animal behavior. How an animal may be consciously experiencing his or her world is generally reserved for after-hours chats, and doesn’t get published in scholarly journals.
What is the evidence, then, that pleasure plays an important role in how animals experience the world? First, there is the simple fact that as humans, we know pleasure and this suggests that similar creatures do, too. There are also parallels between our emotional and biochemical responses and theirs. For example, when rats are anticipating opportunities to play, their brains show an increase in dopamine, a compound associated with pleasure in humans.
Perhaps the most important argument for animal pleasure is that it is adaptive. Just as evolution favors pain as punishment for dangerous or maladaptive behaviors, pleasures evolved to reward behaviours that encourage survival and procreation.
But for most of us, it is how animals behave that provides the best window onto their inner lives. As the earlier examples with hippos, lizards and rats illustrate, animals often behave as though they are enjoying themselves and also manifest signs of exhilaration, joy, love, curiosity, and mischief.
Humour is also not only the province of humans. Chimps mock, dogs tease and parrots provoke. When asked to identify the colour of a white towel held up by a teacher, a gorilla named Koko repeatedly signed “red”. Then, grinning, she plucked off a bit of red lint clinging to the towel, held it up to the trainer’s face and signed “red” again.
What are the implications for humankind’s relationship to animals when we acknowledge and embrace the richness of their sensory experience of their worlds? It is convenient and economical to exclude animals from our sphere of moral concern - as we do, for example, in the meat, biomedical research, and fur industries. But is it right?
To the degree that animals can enjoy life, we may conclude that our moral obligations to them are greater. We may have no obligation to provide pleasure to another, but actively depriving them the opportunity to fulfill natural pleasures - as we do when we cage or kill them - is another matter.
Darren Criss - Für Elise/Summertime/Ain’t No Sunshine
It’s Monday. Here, have an audio post of a perfect human being with a perfect angel voice simultaneously covering three songs in a seamless way that makes this post require no justification whatsoever.
If you need me, I’ll be in a puddle on my side of the internet.
On November 21, 2010, I was allowed to enter the U.S. through an airport security checkpoint without being x-rayed or touched by a TSA officer. This post explains how.
Edit: This is a rough draft, but I wanted to get it up sooner than later. For now, the quotes below are paraphrases. I have the entire ordeal recorded, and as soon as I condense the recording, I will update the quotes, expand the story, and make the audio available. However, the current draft reflects the moods, messages, and overall plot to the best of my ability.
This past Sunday, I was returning from a business trip to Europe. I flew from Paris to Cincinnati, landing in Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
As I got off my flight, I did all of the things that are normally requested from U.S. citizens returning from abroad. I filled out the customs declarations, confirmed that I hadn’t set foot on any farmland, and answered questions about the chocolates that I had purchased in Switzerland. While I don’t believe that these questions are necessary, I don’t mind answering them if it means some added security. They aren’t particularly intrusive. My passport was stamped, and I moved through customs a happy citizen returning home.
But wait – here was a second line to wait in.
This new line led to a TSA security checkpoint. You see, it is official TSA policy that people (both citizens and non-citizens alike) from international flights are screened as they enter the airport, despite the fact that they have already flown. Even before the new controversial security measures were put in place, I found this practice annoying. But now, as I looked past the 25 people waiting to get into their own country, I saw it: the dreaded Backscatter imaging machine.
Now, I’ve read a fair amount about the controversy surrounding the new TSA policies. I certainly don’t enjoy being treated like a terrorist in my own country, but I’m also not a die-hard constitutional rights advocate. However, for some reason, I was irked. Maybe it was the video of the 3-year old getting molested, maybe it was the sexual assault victim having to cry her way through getting groped, maybe it was the father watching teenage TSA officers joke about his attractive daughter. Whatever it was, this issue didn’t sit right with me. We shouldn’t be required to do this simply to get into our own country.
So, since I had nobody waiting for me at home and no connecting flight to catch, I had some free time. I decided to test my rights.
After putting all my stuff through the x-ray, I was asked to go through the Backscatter. I politely said that I didn’t want to. The technician quipped to his colleague, “We’ve got an opt-out.” They laughed. He turned back and started to explain.
After he finished, I said, “I understand what the pat-down entails, but I wanted to let you know that I do not give you permission to touch my genitals or the surrounding area. If you do, I will consider it assault.”
He called his manager over, who again informed me of the policy. Throughout this event, this happened quite a few times. After raising my concerns regarding the policy to an officer, they often simply quoted back the policy. For the sake of brevity, I will simply say “Policy restatement.”
I said, “I am aware that it is policy, but I disagree with the policy, and I think that it is unconstitutional. As a U.S. citizen, I have the right to move freely within my country as long as I can demonstrate proof of citizenship and have demonstrated no reasonable cause to be detained.”
Policy restatement. “You have two options – the Backscatter or the pat down. It is your choice, but those are the only ways you can go through security.”
I asked if I could speak to his manager.
“I’m the supervisor here.”
“Do you have a manager?”
“Yes, but he’s very far away at the moment. And he’ll say the same thing I am.” Policy restatement.
At this point, I took out my iPhone, activated the voice recorder, and asked The Supervisor, “Per my constitutional rights, I am not allowed to be detained without reasonable cause for arrest. Now, am I free to go?”
He answered, “If you leave, we will call the APA.”
I asked, “Who is the APA?”
“The Airport Police.”
I said, “Actually, that’s probably a good idea. Let’s call them and your manager.”
The Supervisor turned and walked away without saying anything. I stood and waited, chatting to The Technician about how they aren’t allowed to wear radiation badges, even though they work with radiation equipment. He said, “I think I’m a couple steps ahead of you regarding looking out for my own health.”
I stood and waited for 20 minutes. Two cops showed up. Big ones. I admit, I did not want to be handcuffed by these guys.
One cop was older than the other, but they were still clearly partners. Neither of them took the lead on answering my questions, and neither of them told the other what to do. They came over to me and asked me to explain the issue. I first showed them the iPhone. After I explained my position, they restated the policy to me.
I said, “Yes sir. I understand the policy, but I still disagree and I still don’t think that I can be made to do these searches in order to go home. Now am I free to go?”
They didn’t answer.
I repeated the question. “Since you are actual police officers and not simply TSA, I am sure you have had much more training on my rights as a U.S. citizen, so you understand what is at stake here. So, am I free to go? Or am I being detained?”
Young Cop answers, “You aren’t being detained, but you can’t go through there.”
“Isn’t that what detaining is? Preventing me from leaving?”
“You can leave if you want, but it has to be that direction.” He points back towards customs. Young Cop asks, “Why are you doing this?”
I explain that I’m worried that the Backscatter has unproven health risks. And that for all he knows, I might be a sexual assault victim and don’t feel like being touched. I say that the policy is needlessly invasive and it doesn’t provide any added security.
He asks, “But didn’t you go through this when you left on your flight?”
“Yes,” I say, grinning, “But I didn’t want to miss my flight then.”
The cops leave, and I stand around and wait some more. It should be noted that throughout this time, no fewer than 10 TSA officers and technicians are standing around, watching me. I was literally the only one still waiting to go through security.
The cops, The TSA Supervisor, and another guy were standing behind the checkpoint deliberating about something. I explained this to my iPhone and The Supervisor shouted, “Does that thing have video?”
“No sir. Just audio.” I was telling the truth – I’m still on an iPhone 3G.
After a while, Young Cop comes and asks me for my papers. My passport, my boarding pass, my driver’s license, and even a business card. I give him everything except the business card. He told me that he was just gathering information for the police report, which is standard procedure. I complied – I knew that this was indeed standard.
He left, and a Delta Airlines manager comes over and starts talking to me. He is clearly acting as a mediator. He asks what I would consent to, if given my options. I explain that I want the least intrusive possible solution that is required. I say, “I will not do anything that is not explicitly stated on recording as mandatory.” He leaves.
Let me pause and clarify the actors’ moods here, because they will soon start to change:
The Supervisor: Very standoffish. Sticking to policy, no exceptions.
The TSA Officials: Mainly amused. Not very concerned otherwise.
The Cops: Impartial observers and consultants. Possibly a bit frustrated that I’m creating the troubles, but being very professional and respectful regardless.
The Delta Supervisor: Trying to help me see the light. He doesn’t mind the work - he’s here all day anyway, so he’d rather spend it ensuring that his customer is happy.
After another wait, Old Cop returns, and asks me what I want. I tell him, “I want to go home without going through the Backscatter and without having my genitals touched. Those are my only two conditions. I will strip naked here if that is what it takes, but I don’t want to be touched.”
He offers as an alternative, “What if we were to escort you out with us? It would involve a pat-down, but it would be us doing it instead.”
“Would you touch my balls?”
“I don’t want to touch your – genital region, but my hand might brush against it.”
I clarify, “Well, like I said, I’ll do whatever you say is mandatory. If you tell me that you have to touch my balls—“
“—I said no such thing. You’re putting words in my mouth.”
“OK. I apologize. If you say that a pat-down is mandatory, and that as a condition of that pat-down, I may have my genitals brushed against by your hand, even though you don’t want to, I will do that. But only if you say it is mandatory.”
“I’m not going to say that.”
“OK. So am I free to go?”
“You are free to go in that direction.” He points back towards customs. Then he walks away to commune with the others.
My iPhone is running out of battery, so I take out my laptop, sit in a corner, and plug it in. I have some work to do anyway, so I pull up Excel and start chugging away for about 20 minutes.
This is where the turning point happens.
The cops come back and start talking with me. Again, they are asking why I’m doing it, don’t I have a connection to make, etc. They are acting more curious at this point – no longer trying to find a contradiction in my logic.
I eventually ask what would happen if I got up and left, and just walked through security. They shrugged. “We wouldn’t do anything on our own. We are only acting on behalf of the TSA. They are in charge of this area.”
“So if he told you to arrest me, you would? And if he didn’t, you wouldn’t?”
“That’s right,” Young Cop says.
“OK well then I think it is best if we all talk together as a group now. Can you call them over?”
The Supervisor returns, along with the Delta Manager. The Supervisor is quite visibly frustrated.
I explain, “The police have explained to me that it is your call on whether or not I am being detained. If I walked through that metal detector right now, you would have to ask them to arrest me in order for them to do anything.”
He starts to defer responsibility to the officers. They emphasize that no – they have no issue with me and they are only acting on his behalf. It is his jurisdiction. It is policy. They won’t detain me unless he tells them to.
So I emphasize the iPhone again, and ask,” So, if I were to get up, walk through the metal detector, and not have it go off, would you still have them arrest me?”
The Supervisor answers, “I can’t answer that question. That is no longer an option because you were selected for the Backscatter.”
“Well you can answer the question because it is a yes or no question. If I got up and left, would you have them arrest me?”
“I can’t answer that question.”
The moods have changed. The cops are now frustrated with him because he’s pawning off his decision-making responsibility to them. He’s stopping what is clearly a logical solution to the problem. Meanwhile, the Supervisor is just growing more and more furious with me.
In another deferment of responsibility (which he probably thought was an intimidation factor), “Well then I guess I’m just going to have to call the FSD.”
Unphased, I ask, “What’s the FSD?”
“The Federal Security Director.” And he walks away.
I can see him talking on the phone to the FSD – a man apparently named Paul – and I can only catch parts of the conversation:
“No, he’s been perfectly polite…”
“We tried that…”
“All he said was … Constitutional rights”
He walks over to Old Cop and hands him the phone. I can hear similar sound bites. They hang up, deliberate some more, and then wait some more.
Meanwhile, I’m typing away on my computer. Answering emails, working on my Excel model – things that I would have done at home regardless.
He walks over and stands uncomfortably close to me. After typing for a bit more, I look up. His voice shakes, “I don’t know if I ever introduced myself.” He pulls out his badge. “My name is XXX XXX. Here is my badge. Now, I’ve shown you my credentials.”
Ah – he’s gotten the Miranda talk. I hide my smile.
“Here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to escort you out of the terminal to the public area. You are to stay with me at all times. Do you understand?”
“Will I be touched?”
“I can’t guarantee that, but I am going to escort you out.”
“OK. I will do this. But I will restate that I still do not give you permission to touch my genitals or the surrounding area. If you do, I will still consider it assault.”
And then came the most ridiculous scene of which I’ve ever been a part. I gather my things – jacket, scarf, hat, briefcase, chocolates. We walk over to the staff entrance and he scans his badge to let me through. We walk down the long hallway that led back to the baggage claim area. We skip the escalators and moving walkways. As we walk, there are TSA officials stationed at apparent checkpoints along the route. As we pass them, they form part of the circle that is around me. By the end of the walk, I count 13 TSA officials and 2 uniformed police officers forming a circle around me. We reach the baggage claim area, and everyone stops at the orange line. The Supervisor grunts, “Have a nice day,” and leaves.
In order to enter the USA, I was never touched, I was never “Backscatted,” and I was never metal detected. In the end, it took 2.5 hours, but I proved that it is possible. I’m looking forward to my next flight on Wednesday.