Ariel Schrag, Eric Orner

April 11th, 2009 | Uncategorized

Two of my favorite cartoonists have new work out.

Ariel Schrag has just released Likewise, the final volume of her epic graphic memoir about her high school years. Here’s a review in Time Out New York.

And Eric Orner, creator of The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green, is posting a cartoon diary of time he recently spent living in Jerusalem. Here’s the first installment. It’s really funny.

98 Responses to “Ariel Schrag, Eric Orner”

  1. hairball_of_hope says:

    Fabulous spider sequence… “Jerusalem has really big spiders… like Smart cars with fur…”

    Thanks for the great links, AB!

  2. Feminista says:

    **Newsflash**Just heard Amy Goodman,Democracy Now!
    exec.producer,speak here in Portland,OR. She’s
    on her 70-city tour this spring. Check for her schedule. She’s headed for tonight.
    northern CA this afternoon.

    If you need an uplift about the ways ordinary
    citizens are organizing for social change,come to her
    talk if she’s coming to your area. You can also read the
    new paperback edition of her book,co-authored with brother David Goodman,Standing up to the Madness.

    She signed my book,and I shook her hand.

  3. Kate L says:

    Jerusalem has giant, smart spiders? Oy! My sister had a morbid fear of spiders. I really creeped her out once by telling her about the Australian screaming spider. Big around as a silver dollar! And, the worst part is, THEY CAN FLY! I made this all up, of course…

  4. shadocat says:

    I used to love to read “Ethan” over on Planetout, back in the day…That was really funny-thanks Alison.

  5. hairball_of_hope says:


    You’re cruel… I would have done the same to a sibling or classmate. It’s that shared cerebral thing. 😉

    Biggest spider-like arachnid thing I ever saw in the wild was in Texas. I’m not an entomologist but I think it was some kind of tarantula. It was big. It was fuzzy. And this being Texas, where everything is outsized, my work colleague and I were the only ones who actually paid attention to it. A sure sign of Yankees where they don’t belong.

    The spider was sitting near its huge web, like Shelob in her lair, waiting for prey at dusk. Of course, since it was sitting in a tree at the edge of a hotel parking lot, it was most likely to encounter the unwitting tourist taking luggage out of the car trunk. Imagine having that crawl down your back!

    We went back after dark with a flashlight to see what the spider had caught in the web (actually, we were voyeurs who were hoping to catch the spider eating prey). Alas, the web was empty, and Shelob was nowhere to be found.

    Do spiders maintain more than one web? I have no idea.

  6. Al, et al. says:

    My 6-year-old son is currently obsessed with the Goliath Birdeater, an 11-inch wide, 6 oz. spider that eats lizards, mice, and the occasional bird. There are some very scary YouTube videos of them eating mice and things. Jake finds these videos fascinating. I find them showing up in my nightmares. Yechh.

  7. Acilius says:

    “A fine denouement for Schrag’s magnum opus, worthy of the attention of both Alison Bechdel and Michel Foucault fanciers.” — Booklist

    There may not be quite so many Michel Foucault fanciers about as there were when I was in grad school in the 90s, but I’m sure they still outnumber Alison Bechdel- there’s only one of her, unfortunately.

  8. Ame says:

    Schrag’s “Awkward” and “Definition” were fabulous–captured both the things that never change about adolescence and some of the modern features that leave me shuddering. I can’t imagine my teen years with Facebook etc. in the mix…

  9. Maggie Jochild says:

    hairball, if it had a web, it wasn’t a tarantula, they’re hunting spiders rather than web-weavers. My guess it was some version of a wolf spider. Tarantulas in most of Texas are not especially venomous and go out of their way to avoid people. Wolf spiders, and other hunters, on the other hand, I’ve found to often be a bit feisty.

    You’re right, having any big bug crawl down your back is unsettling. But I’ve often held tarantulas in my palm. They’re soft and warm, make good pets except it’s not good for them to confined, of course.

    We lived in Brazil for a year when I was a kid and my mother had read about those giant spiders there like you mention Al, et al. Since my little brother and I had more than one extremely dangerous/hair-raising encounter with Brazilian wildlife (sought out on our parts), we were under strict orders to never go near a spider there of any size. Not that it would have stopped us…

  10. Jessica Bessica says:

    Woot Woot about the schrag book! I have a bitty little magazine length one called “Likewise.” I think she meant to write it in instalments. It’ll be neat to see if the little one is contained in the new one, or if she re-did it.

    @ acilius: goodness, is that what booklist says?! What a crazy-good review! AB and Foucault?! And don’t sell ol’ Michel short. Any humanist grad student worth their weight in coffee, speed, computer paper, and library books owes all they got to Foucault.

  11. Acilius says:

    @Jessica Bessica: I like Foucault. Partly that’s because I started reading him at the same time I first read Lacan, and oh boy does that comparison make Foucault look fun to read. Also, Foucault makes a good-looking watermelon sculpture, as you can see here:

  12. Acilius says:

    Hmm, there was supposed to be a link there. Let’s try this one:

  13. Ready2Agitate says:

    Oh delightful, Alison – thank you – I used to love the most unfabulous life and it’s fun to see some Eric Orner again!

  14. Kate L says:


    “Shelob in her lair”? I see that you know your Ringlore! :)I wonder how many other readers of this blog were instantly able to recognize a reference to JRR Tolkien’s “The Silmarillion”? I did! I did! I told you hairball and I share the same brain! Perhaps hairball did not see that spider in Texas at all, but was in the high Ephel Dúath mountains that border the land of Mordor (where the shadows lurk).

  15. Ready2Agitate says:

    nope – not I – right over me head!

  16. hairball_of_hope says:


    Thanks for the correction on tarantula vs. wolf spider. I just read the wolf spider Wikipedia article, and the big fuzzy one I saw in Texas seems like it could have been one of the Hogna species.


    Knowing this crowd, I’d bet an awful lot of them recognized the Shelob reference. They seem to be pretty up on their Rowling as well. Of course, now that there are films made from all these books, there are plenty of folks who never read the books but saw the films instead.

    Speaking of Rings (and it was in the Land of Mordor, where the shadows lie), this is the time of year that Wagnerphiles go nuts for “Der Ring des Nibelungen.” Tolkien and Wagner each used the same Norse mythology to create their signature epics.

    Today’s Met Opera broadcast was “Die Walküre”. I’m not a fan of Wagner (for musical as well as political reasons), and generally I prefer French or Italian opera, but the Ring Cycle is such a big deal in the opera world that I usually tune in for part of it.

    I must confess that I never understood the Ring Cycle even with benefit of libretto, until I heard Anna Russell’s excellent and hysterically funny explanation of it. Her explanation of Siegfried… “This is the first woman he’s been with that isn’t his aunt” and “I’m not making this up, you know!” Listen to Anna Russell’s explanation in 30 minutes and you can skip the four marathon operas which take about 24 hours total.

  17. Ian says:

    Two interesting pieces. Although the excerpt of the Schrag piece wasn’t long enough for me to get into it, if you know what I mean! Being anally-retentive I’d want to read the previous books before this one.

    The Eric Orner piece was fantastic. I always loved “Social Life” and I even liked the live action film of the strip! But I’ve known gentiles be like that too lol.

    By the way, the slideshow of gay erotic art was hilarious and probably unintentionally funny. “This is another of his muses. He has lots of them” or words to that effect.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I can’t resist this chance to show off my pics of my arachnophobia-conquering day at London Zoo, culminating not in the tarantula-cuddling session (that was easy) but in letting a big fat house spider run over my hand. Click through the sequence to spot the white knuckles.

    Two years later, I’m not cured but it’s easier. And as long as I stay safely home I’ll never have to deal with the screaming Aussie variety, thought i’m sure I’d do my best to trap it under a jar. Basin. Bucket.

  19. Pam I says:

    That anon. was me, don’t know where that cookie went.

  20. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Pam I

    Good for you to work on befriending arachnids. You weren’t kidding about the white knuckles… your hands starts out sort of ruddy and is definitely pale by the last photo.

    Does the London Zoo have a similar program for snakes? That seems to be the other widespread animal phobia.

  21. Khatgrrl says:

    Pam I
    More power to you! As for me, I’m too arachnophobic to even watch your video.

  22. Khatgrrl says:

    Sorry, not video, photos

  23. hairball_of_hope says:

    Happy Easter, y’all. I’m sitting here listening to Jonathan Schwartz play umpteen versions of “Easter Parade,” and it occurred to me that “rotogravure” is one of those words that is lost to the inevitable march of technology. I’ll have to park it next to my slide rule. 😉

  24. --MC says:

    Happy Easter. I was going to write a big essay on new pronouns for the post marriage world, but I also want to cheer and yell for Schrag’s work. I just read “Awkward” and “Potential” and they both were so great.

  25. --MC says:

    Oh, while I’m up: In these post marriage times it might be best to find new ways to indicate pairs of people. The current words in use — husband, wife — sound quaint and Chaucerean: “An thes wommen be a gud wyffe an to hr hus-bannde wel met.”

    A lot of attempts in the past have been made to find more modern, situationally neutral terms that don’t take up much space. I was lying in bed this morning and thinking about the term SO, an acronym of the term “significant other”, which has gained some popularity online. I’ve actually heard people use the term in conversation, pronouncing each letter of the acronym with equal stress.

    My first thought was to make the acronym into a word, maybe “esso”. That’s the name of an oil company, though, so will not do. Knock one S out of the word and it becomes “eso”, like the spanish word for “that guy”.

    Think of it. If you use “eso” as the masculine form, like “husband” but less tenth century, you can then use “esa” as the feminine form. And the beauty of it, this comes with a gender neutral version — “ese”. A term that can be used in a situation where the gender of the mate is not known, without embarrassment. “She’s married? Who’s her ese?” “You know Miriam, that short woman in my tai chi class? That’s her esa.”

    You can borrow this idea for your own usage, as long as you attribute it when the press comes around.

  26. Ready2Agitate says:

    Gay Marriage Avoids the Supreme Court
    from today’s NYT Week in Review

  27. hairball_of_hope says:


    Be prepared to wait a good long time for gender-neutral terms for pairs of people, we’re still in the infancy stages of gender-neutral pronouns for individuals.

    For comparison, take a look at how long it took for the honorific ‘Ms.’ to become standard usage. I’m trying to remember when the NY Times stopped referring to Martina as “Miss Navratilova,” I think it was in the early 1990s.

    As for receiving attribution for the term, you’re likely to have just as long a wait. Here’s a link to an article about the origin of the term ‘Ms.’ (full disclosure, the Sheila Michaels mentioned in the article is a dear friend of mine, it was her Seder I attended on Wednesday).

  28. hairball_of_hope says:

    Interesting piece on same sex marriage broadcast on “On The Media” this week… alas, the transcript won’t be posted until tomorrow:

  29. ksbel6 says:

    @Ginjoint: Where ya been? How’s the crush going?

  30. Ali says:

    Really interesting getting to see work I didn’t know about before. thanks Alison. I was gutted that in the whole of Norfolk there is only 2 of your books in the library system and not a single copy of Fun Home which is beyond belief with its acclaim. ( Mo is definitely needed in Norfolk County Library Services!) I wanted to do it as a book club read – has anyone tried this? It will probably get great conversations going – although my girlfriend pointed out that many may be personal about my sexuality – although they are English so they may just not go there – but straight women are usually very curious, so who knows. Will loby library to purchase a set, if not I guess I start saving for 10 copies now.
    On a slightly more serious note – although a little divergent from the article – I saw Milk last night ( Finally!!!)- I asked in a previous posting what the history of discrimination has been like in the US… Can I just say that I am so sorry – I had no idea! I am ashamed to say that I am a Christian and now want to be a closet Christian!!!!! I felt so proud of the gay rights movement and so ashamed of the church. I really struggle with faith and my sexuality and feel like I have a split identity. So is it possible to have faith and be gay and not compromise on either??? I feel slightly schizophrenic and understand all anger towards the church but am probably not robust enough to take too much of it here.

  31. Kate L says:


    Mordor, a thousand sleepless eyes…

    One Ring to Rule Them All,
    One Ring to Find Them.
    One Ring to Bring Them All,
    And in the Darkness Bind Them.
    In the Land of Mordor, Where the Shadows Lie.

    There’s nothing I like better than curling up with a good selection of Ringlore, and a heaping plate of MAPLE-CURED BACON!!!

  32. Kate L says:

    Btw, when I first read the opening line of A.B.’s post in this blog, I thought that it said, “Two of my favorite cartoonists have a new work out”!

  33. hairball_of_hope says:


    Got to see my rental children at the second Seder; the oldest (now a college freshman) is a big Tolkien fan, the youngest (now a high school sophomore) is a big Rowling fan.

    We used to chant JRRT stuff from memory when they were younger… (Three Rings for Elven Kings under the sky, Seven for the Dwarf lords in their halls of stone, Nine for mortal men doomed to die, etc.). Great fun. Their mom is a sci-fi buff, but these days she’s more likely to be chanting in Hebrew as her religious leanings have drifted rightward to Modern Orthodox Judaism. Definitely no bacon in that household (nor mine, for that matter).

    Hope you had a good Easter with the UUs.

  34. Ellen O. says:

    Alison’s book Fun Home, along with virtually all other GLBT books, has been “De-ranked” on Amazon. Amazon is now classifying all books with queer content as “adult” (i.e. porn) books.

    Losing an Amazon ranking hurts an author’s sales and is just plain discriminatory. I never shop at Amazon because they support the Republican Party and destroy local bookstores; non-the-less, those who do might consider shopping elsewhere, like Abe Books or Alibris (although I think Amazon owns one of them as well.) If you still have an independent bookstore nearby, that’s the best choice.

    Here’s a link:

    There’s also a petition circulating:

    Have a queer and literary day!

  35. I don’t quite grasp what this means, but has stopped giving sales rankings to books they deem “adult,” and that affects lots of LGBT titles.

  36. hairball_of_hope says:


    “…a new work out” as in a collaborative project, or as in a Jane Fonda exercise video?

    Speaking of whom, she’s appearing on Broadway in Moises Kaufman’s “33 Variations”… the play itself has been panned, but her performance has gotten good reviews. Haven’t seen it yet, so I can’t comment.

  37. Ooops! Thanks, Ellen O. After I posted my comment, I found yours already there before me, but stuck in the moderation room. Because of the links I guess. Thanks for being so freakin’ on the ball!

  38. hairball_of_hope says:

    A quick search of Jan Morris’ titles at Amazon reveals that all her travel titles are listed in the search, but her autobiographical transgender story, “Conundrum” has been deranked.

    Foo on Medusa… oh, I mean Amazon.

  39. Kate L says:


    Back in the early 70’s, my sister and I would recite The Lord of the Rings to each other, too! (The poem, not the three-volume novel, folks 🙂 )And, in our case, our love of the Lord of the Rings was shared by our father (our mom called it all fairy tales). Alas, our father, too, drifted sharply right in his later years.

    “Not all who wander are lost” – J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ve been drifting between denominations, lately. Unitarians, even First Congregationalists (hey, a few years ago First Congo tried to air a nationally televised ad campaign making clear that they are a gay-friendly church, and no network would air it! And, during our local fight agains the passage of an anti-gay marriage amendment to the state constitution it was First Congo members that turned out the most to help). But perhaps someday I’ll return to my roots.

  40. hairball_of_hope says:

    “All that is gold does not glitter…”


    Lots of Congos in New England, it must be the Midwest/Plains Congos that couldn’t get on the air. In NYC, it’s UU and MCC (Metropolitan Community Church) that seem to be in the lead on LGBT inclusion.

  41. dbd says:

    Is it old news over here that Fun Home is among the books that has been removed from sales rankings by on the grounds that it is “adult”?

    the deets:

  42. Maggie Jochild says:

    Amazon is fuckin’ nuts. Not just oppressive, but NUTS to pull this stunt.

    There’s a great post about it by Martin Bosworth at his blog Boztopia, And You’re Done, which gives more background and information about the extremely organized response.

    Pursuing the culture war is all the Right has remaining to them. Unfortunately, they control most of the media (though not us chickens here on this wire, eh?) and are trying to use our money to keep their version of capitalism dominant.

    My response is to not just threaten to boycott Amazon but stick with it permanently. We need responsive, progressive networks to replace the behemoths of the current debacle we call American society, anyhow. It’s going to get crazier and more dangerous as the white boys realize their day is over, and Amazon (how I hate they stole that name) will never have our backs.

    Link your book lists through Powell’s, Alibris, or best yet, a feminist bookstore.

  43. NLC says:

    Just to make an obvious point, the scope of this is surprisingly far reaching, apparently including pretty heavy-weight, established scholarly works: Two, that I checked of the top of my head, are K. J. Dover’s _Greek Homosexuality_ and Bernadette Brooten’s _Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism_.

    (My point, of course, is not to suggest that these books necessarily deserve some sort special treatment. But rather that Amazon’s approach seems clearly rather shockingly scattershot.)

  44. hairball_of_hope says:

    I’ve been having fun (NOT) entering books into Amazon’s new-and-improved bowdlerized search engine.

    I entered ‘Human Sexuality’, expecting to find the Masters/Johnson classic tome. Three pages of results, and it wasn’t there. Finally found it via a circuitous route, and it’s been deranked to 1.2 million something. But ‘Christian Meaning of Human Sexuality’ shows up, and it’s ranked far higher.

    ‘Lady Chatterly’s Lover’ has been deranked to 1.4 million something. ‘Sports Illustrated Swimsuit: The Complete Portfolio’ not deranked at all, it’s at 21 thousand something.

    They are nucking futz (to use one of my favorite spoonerisms).

    Now Amazon is claiming it’s a “glitch” that they are working on correcting. Glitch my tuchas…

    No coverage yet of this issue on Bloomberg or Wall Street Journal, but I expect there will be by the morning. It should make for an interesting analysis of the influence of Twitter and Facebook on business practices.

  45. Ali says:

    So is it a glitch that it is not available in a Library Service in England or is Fun Home hard to find all over the place. Was I mistaken in thinking a book so good and so acclaimed would be bought in large quantities to grace the library shelves?? I guess I hadn’t heard about it in the UK but hoped people with a more professional eye on book culture would have. So was I in a news blackout or did it not sell well in the UK – or only in major cities? I am just amazed at the mediocre books they do buy in in huge quantities – historical bodice rippers and all – and I’m not talking Sarah Waters…

  46. Maggie Jochild says:

    Just to let you know, the Amazon thing has drawn a perfect hellfire response from the progressive blogosphere, and Amazon is putting out explanations that make no sense. Which means it is either a top-level decision made while delusional (i.e., Right-influenced thinking) or, possibly, a very deft assault on their almost impregnable software orchestrated by the Right. It will be all over the news tomorrow, that’s for sure, and the MSM take on it will tell us a lot by what they leave out. (Lying liars…)

  47. Ali says:

    POWER TO THE PEOPLE! It is amazing how much is acheived by people communicating. I’m not sure why Amazon would make decisions that have political implcations when they are bascially a money making machine. But I guess it was probably in response to some conservative complaint – probably about the ruination of young minds. But I think that it is so important that children grow up knowing alternatives – its not as if heterosexual parents, teachers, literature etc turned me straight! So why are so many people scared that books that honestly explore homosexuality will corrupt young people and even ….turn them?!?! So to be clear, what do you think the reasons are that amazon a) labelled the book as adult and b) removed it from the sales rankings?

  48. Pam I says:

    Petition signed.
    I don’t know why Adult has become such a widespread euphemism for porn. Surely it only applies to stuff of interest to 14-year-olds, and real adults are past that phase?

  49. Pam I says:

    Looks like it’s all over – I just searched for Lesbian and got gazillions of titles up. So maybe Glitch was the word, but more likely it’s the power of outrage.

    Despite the rapid overturning of this daft idea, I did just have a moment of horror at how easy it was to strip away that info. Think of the Handmaid’s Tale, where the protaganist discovers that overnight, none of her money or ID works. she has become a serf, as have all women. Too easy. We take too much for granted.

  50. Pam I says:

    Persepholis the film was on TV at the weekend – that is at the front of my mind too.

  51. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Pam I

    Funny you should mention A Handmaid’s Tale… Margaret Atwood was one of the authors whose books I was specificially checking on Amazon for deranking.

    I don’t know that they’ve correctd everything… my test search for ‘Human Sexuality’ still doesn’t bring up Masters & Johnson, but going via my circuitous route, I see it’s still ranked 1.2 million something. However, the search did bring up (and ranked higher) ‘The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality,” authored by those sexuality experts at the Pontifical Council for the Family. 🙁

  52. ksbel6 says:

    @Ali: I don’t find it difficult to embrace both my sexual identity and my Christianity. The extremists that quote the old testament to “prove” that homosexuality is evil, wear polyester blends and eat shell fish (even though those are included as sins in the same list). Jesus taught that one should pray alone and only worship with the group they felt closest to (like a family or small group of friends). Churches expanded on their own (I believe mostly because of money). So I don’t bother trying to find one, I think the majority of them are corrupt.

    Thanks to this blog, I get my online book purchases from Women and Children First. I like to read through their recommendations. I feel like I know some of them based on what they like to read. I hate monopolies. One more reason to avoid anything Microsoft related.

  53. Ian says:

    @ksbel6: You’re exactly right. I wish I could remember where I read it, but I always understood that for gentile Christians that if you’re going to follow one Mosaic law, you’ve got to follow all of them. Once these gigachurches start campaigning for the removal of shellfish and pig products (how many of their congregations farm unclean animals?) from menus, start wearing single-fibre garments and start campaigning for the (re)criminalization of adultery then they’d have a bit more credibility.

    I look back to the very early church where women were preachers and the small groups shared their goods and just worshipped in their living rooms or small gatherings in the open air. Although I am thinking of joining the Quakers – in this country they’re very strong on social responsibility and I don’t imagine they’re very different in the USA.

  54. hairball_of_hope says:


    Slight correction to the fabric blends… the only combination prohibited in the Old Testament is wool and linen (polyester of course, was unknown before the 20th century CE).

    Wool/linen mixtures are called “shatnez,” and Orthodox Jews actually follow this prohibition… there are folks who will inspect and test garments for shatnez for a small fee. In the Chasidic communities (the folks in the black hats), they tend to only purchase garments made in the community or from trusted sources, so they don’t have to get individual garments tested.

    During the shameful eras of slavery and segregation in this country, Bible-thumpers would regularly tout balderdash that miscegenation and integration were against God’s will, and the Bible said so.

    Just look at the Phelps clan… it’s obviously possible to couch all types of wacky hate-filled theology in Biblical terms, if one selectively picks and chooses passages, and then interprets them with a specific agenda in mind. How they’ve managed to interpret the Bible to mean that they should invade and protest the funerals of US military war dead boggles my mind.

    Not sure if there are LGBT-friendly churches in your neck of Missouri, but I’d hate to paint such a broad brush that the majority of them are corrupt (but yeah, there are plenty of hate-mongers and money grubbers masquerading as “doing God’s will”).

    Lastly, I absolutely LOVE that you’ve managed to segue hypocritical theology and censorship by Amazon into an anti-M$ bash. Kudos! Penguins rock!

  55. Alex K says:

    @Ian: Friends (members of the Religious Society of Friends, aka “Quakers”) are committed to honouring that of God in every wo(man). Social responsibility, then.

    Harmony in perceptions and goals is greater among Yearly Meetings in the east of the United States and British Meetings than among certain midwestern and western branches of Quakerism and British Meetings; Richard Nixon was never, to my knowledge, read out of Meeting in Whittier, CA, although I don’t think that he’d have lasted too long in any of the Meetings under the care of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting…

    “Ours is not to judge, but let’s anyway.”

  56. Ali says:

    @ Ksbel 6 et al.
    In essence I struggle with the church – and its treatment of homosexuals. I became a Christian when at university around the same time I ws having my first sexual experiences with women – I was brought up atheist and liberal – so I had no idea it was wrong to be gay according to the church or society – Just that you valued people for who they were. I did sociology and rejoiced in feminist theory. For me to find faith in a loving God was a wonderful liberating thing – but then I joined a church and it seemed like i knew nothing- and because they obviously knew what they were talking about to me a poor misguided unchurched soul – I believed them – dressed like them – no more belts for skirts. So I didn’t feel I could question the bible because I was obviously unqualified to do so – and most Christians I have met say that the Bible is God’s truth and it is a slippery slope to question it.
    Don’t get me wrong most churches are full of wonderful kind people – but it was like the Emperors New Clothes – it was obvious this stuff sounded pretty far fetched but I assumed i must be stupid. So here I am 33 with a beautiful sparkling girlfriend, Two children and separated from a man who hurt me physically and mentally for 9 years because I finally get it that I can say, metaphorically, “Why has that man got no clothes on.” I have argued every time a Christian said that homosexuality is wrong that no one can judge someone else or presume to deny them the right to intimacy and love – but i guess I didn’t include myself in that until recently.
    So what I am asking is how do you not feel ashamed by association with the church, after all it has done to persecute gay people – even if not intentionally hatefully? I just had no idea and sat there watching Milk appalled that anyone would seek to attack another person’s human rights like that let alone a Christian.

  57. hairball_of_hope says:


    The “lying liars” of the MSM, as you called them, have started their spin. The homepage of CNN links to the same CNET article I posted above, but their link it titled “Is Amazon suppressing gay books?” Of course, if someone clicks through the link, the CNET article is titled “Amazon criticized for de-ranking ‘adult’ books”… let the spin begin!

    PC World is reporting the story, with the spin that “the glitch” only started this weekend (it’s been since February), and the author contradicted himself, first saying he didn’t think LGBT titles were targeted, but noting that heterosexual ones were not deranked. DUH!

    Entertainment Weekly reports that Ellen DeGeneres’ autobiography and “Heather Has Two Mommies” were deranked, and neither has explicit or racy content, while the memoir of porn star Ron Jeremy and “Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds”, which includes pictures of more than 600 naked females are still being ranked.

    This is not some right-wing nut who was hired as a code monkey by Amazon… this was a deliberate top-down decision.

    I hope their stock tanks. So far, it’s down today almost 1%, in line with the rest of the NASDAQ.

  58. Ian says:

    Eeek – just caught up with the Amazon stuff. I wouldn’t mind, but I just placed a big order with them before the weekend. Oh well, I shan’t be doing that again.

  59. Acilius says:

    @Ian & Alex K: There is a big rural/ urban split among Friends. By and large, Friends meetings in rural areas tend to be less Quakerly and more like other Protestant churches, with programmed worship services under the direction of a pastor and a tendency to the social Right. Meetings in urban areas are somewhat more likely to be unprogrammed (or “silent”) and to be strongly progressive in their social and political orientation. Most of the world’s Quakers live in western Kenya and are members of the Luh’ya tribe. Their meetings are generally on the rural side of the urban/rural split.

    The urban/rural split runs right down the middle of some Quaker groups. For example, I live in a college town and attend a meeting that is part of Indiana Yearly Meeting. Like most Indiana Yearly Meeting congregations, we have a pastor who presides over a programmed service, though the meetinghouse is also open for unprogrammed worship regularly. It used to be that most of the members of the meeting lived in town and worked for the college or other nonprofit employers, most of the rest lived out in the country. This didn’t seem to lead to much tension until 2002, when Indiana Yearly Meeting took it upon itself to declare that no meeting in the state ought to have a “practicing homosexual” as its pastor.

    This declaration was something less than universally popular. In fact, the clear majority of our local meeting was horrified that the Yearly Meeting would endorse such a stand and wanted to fight back. The clear majority of the rural members, however, agreed with the Yearly Meeting. The pastor lined up with the antidiscrimination side, and she persuaded the local meeting to stop paying its dues to the Yearly Meeting until the declaration was repealed. The declaration hasn’t been repealed, and we still aren’t paying dues.

    So we won. But it feels like we lost. Many, even most, of the town Friends drifted away from the meeting during and after the conflict, many of them joining the Unitarian Universalists or other churches where the battle was already won. The country Friends have the majority now. That isn’t so bad in itself. Friends don’t vote; we settle issues by consensus. That’s why we stay friends with Friends we disagree with, we don’t have to fear that they will force us to do something we don’t believe in just because they happen to outnumber us at the moment. For example, our meeting recently refused to host a Boy Scout troop because a number of us wouldn’t shut up about the Equality Testimony.

    The pastor herself resigned; her successor is definitely on the same side of the issue, but he approaches it in a more subtle, more personal way than she did. So he takes care to ensure that there will be at least one same-sexer or transgendered person in the room whenever the rights of sexual minorities are likely to come up. He never raises the issue himself, though when it does come up he finds a way to make it clear where he stands. Several months ago a leading member of our meeting, a “weighty Friend” as we say, was holding forth against the idea of same-sex marriage. The pastor’s response was to ask how the meeting might react if he wanted to perform a same-sex wedding in the meetinghouse. That put an end to that.

    Our numbers are still much lower than they were seven years ago, about a third of our members left during the conflict. They haven’t come back, and few have come to take their places. The average age of the meeting has long tended to the high side; that age is higher than ever now, since most of those who stayed through the conflict did so because decades of habit kept them coming. The median age of the 80 or so who remain is now well over 70. So our social activism is sharply limited. We still keep up several projects to distribute food and clothing to the poor in our town, and we usually make sure that at least a few of our members attend the occasional peace vigils and other antiwar activities in town. We still have the Quaker conscience. We just don’t have the resources to do as much as we could before.

  60. hairball_of_hope says:


    Bummer about the exodus of Friends from your local meeting, but good that both pastors weren’t of the rural persuasion.

    As a classicist, could you explain the difference (if any) between Pyrrhic victory and Cadmean victory? I would use Pyrrhic to describe this situation, but I don’t really understand the nuanced differences between the two.

  61. Fester Bestertester says:

    [..]difference between Pyrrhic victory and Cadmean victory?

    As distinct from the Cadburyan victory:

  62. hairball_of_hope says:

    The #AmazonFail issue is now on the Wall Street Journal blogs.

    FYI, AMZN stock is down over 2% right now, about six times lower than the NASDAQ. I’ll bet this story has something to do with it.

  63. Antoinette says:

    Biggest Spider I Ever Saw Story:

    It was in Jamaica after a fine dinner and three frozen daiquiris. The spider was the size of my shoe, red with black hair, and located on the bathroom mirror. (This made a bad situation worse because it looked like there were two of the beasties.) I corralled it with the ice bucket and room service menu, put it outside on the balcony of our room and locked the sliding door. I was afraid to give it the ol’ burial at sea in the commode lest it return.

    I don’t ordinarily fear spiders, but this one was truly extraordinary.

  64. DeLand DeLakes says:

    ‘Bout time Ariel Schrag finished that book! I thought the L Word had kidnapped her brain for good.
    @ MC- erm, you may want to rethink your titles. “Ese” means “homeboy” when used between two Mexicans, but it can be construed as a slur coming from a white person, kind of like the “n” word.

  65. Ted says:

    It appears Amazon was hacked by a guy looking for nothing more than causing an uproar.

    For those of a technical bent here’s how:


  66. hairball_of_hope says:

    NPR “All Things Conidered” just reported on the Amazon search “glitch”:

  67. iara says:

    @Ian: Eeek! me too, I had just put in a big order from Amazon…

  68. hairball_of_hope says:


    [Start of techno-geek-speak, English translation for mere mortals below]

    Oh good, now the Phelps wackos are going to hire right-wing code monkeys.

    Technically feasible, but this guy’s story does not comport with Amazon’s own admission that they removed books with LGBT tags from searches.

    Could both things have been happening at once? Sure. But the range and scope of the derankings and search blocks are such that I don’t think this guy’s hack is the real culprit.

    It’s possible to game any system that allows unauthenticated “votes”, and mere presence of a persistent cookie is not exactly secure authentication.

    More technical details on the theory behind the possible hack are here:

    Seeing how this hack required one to be logged into Amazon to inadvertently report “objectionable” content via the invisible iframes, it’s yet another reason not to save cookies/passwords permanently, not to allow websites to keep you logged in, and to clear cache/cookies/passwords after every session. Oh, and to use a decent browser like Firefox, not that Internet Explorer crap.

    [End of techno-geek-speak]

    [Start of techno-geek-speak to English translation]

    The links in Ted’s post and mine above are to sites where some less-than-nice folks post their latest programming exploits (hacks). The two links discuss a method for tricking (social engineering) Amazon’s ranking system and objectionable content complaint system to remove LGBT-tagged books from the search engines.

    The scripts and methodology in Ted’s post seem feasible. They rely on bad practices of users (not clearing browser cache/cookies/passwords, remaining logged into websites such as Amazon all the time), which are unfortunately widespread and not good computing practice. It also relies on some invisible elements on webpages (invisible iframes), which most users will never notice because they keep Java and Javascript enabled at all times.

    The link I posted above describes the hack as a proof of concept, but those are weasel words of course (“Don’t try this at home, kids!”).

    My opinion: It’s possible that this hack was happening, but given Amazon’s own admission that they removed books with LGBT tags from searches, it’s possible both things have been happening at once. Of course, if Amazon’s ranking and objectionable content system were manipulated in this manner, they sure as hell aren’t going to admit it.

    We should be concerned that groups like the Phelps wackos could hire right-wing folks to skew ratings and content systems such as this one.

    And just imagine what they could do with those infamously insecure Diebold electronic voting machines!

    [End of techno-geek-speak to English translation]

  69. AndreaC says:

    There is no way Amazon did this on purpose. That makes no sense.

    * They have happily sold LGBT books for 14 years without censorship
    * They would know that doing something like this would provoke a huge backlash from organized, vocal activists, creating a PR nightmare.
    * This company is based in liberal Seattle and has never shown signs of excessive conservatism.

    What would be the motive? Lots to lose, nothing to gain.

    It was either a terrible coding accident (their explanation), an organized far-right group clicking the “flag this as inappropriate” button that’s since been removed, or a hacker just out to amuse themselves by watching the confusion and anger happen.

    Amazon’s now claiming it was an “embarrasing and ham-fisted” error, but they wouldn’t want to admit it if they were hacked, so that could be covering up. Or the error could be referring to whatever code made the exploit possible.

    But the idea that suddenly doesn’t want our money is just ridiculous.

  70. little gator says:

    Mr Gator’s the worst spiderphobe I know. It’s more likely than not the word he screams when he has a night terror(which were usually triggered by Claritin. They’ve been much fewer and less violent since he stopped taking it. BUt not before he cracked a rib while leaping out of bed screaming and falling over a chair.)

    He’s a bit better now. If he sees one he kills it with a single stomp, instead of thump-dancing on it till it turns to mush. If he asks me to kill one for him, he keeps his voice calm, if stressed. He can even see a picture of one without shrieking and flinging the magazine across the room.

    He still prefers not to hear the word, prefering that I call them “eight-legs” or “that thing you don’t like.” When he saw LOTR he spent half the movie standing by the exit so he could flee when Shelob showed. And if he didn’t love LOTR so much he’d never even have gone.

    Night lights are good. We don’t know why they reduce night terrors, but they do. And they help weak-bladdered gators find the bathroom without tripping over cats.

  71. Ready2Agitate says:

    holy crap (no offense) – had a busy day and got me some blog chat to catch up on! (sorry again – inane post)

  72. NPD says:

    Oh my god, that was awesome. Orner’s still got it.

  73. Acilius says:

    @h_o_h: “As a classicist, could you explain the difference (if any) between Pyrrhic victory and Cadmean victory?” Well, Pyrrhus’ victory was worthless to him because the Romans managed to inflict so much damage on his forces as they were losing. So that wouldn’t quite fit here, since our victory wasn’t worthless. We did manage to establish the point that same-sexers should be treated with respect.

    Cadmus wanted to found a city with his friends. In the course of battle, he lost his friends. After it was all over, he ended up founding a city with his former enemies. I wouldn’t say that even in the worst moments of the conflict we thought of each other as enemies, but as we learned to live together again afterward we did face some of the same challenges Cadmus would have.

    A Cadburyan victory would be better, not least because the Cadburys were Quakers themselves. Of course, it would be best of all if we din’t have to have any victories over each other.

  74. hairball_of_hope says:


    Thanks… do the same Cadbury folks still own part of the chocolatiers, or is Cadbury UK simply a public corporation (or the UK equivalent) with random shareholders bereft of Quaker Cadbury influence? I heard that Cadbury was going to start using fair trade cocoa, but I think that only applies to the UK versions, we get locally-produced licensed versions of Cadbury in the US made by Hershey (and definitely not as good).

  75. hairball_of_hope says:

    The Chicago Tribune has an interesting article today on why the Marriage Equality folks are persuing civil union instead of marriage in Illinois:,0,5378660.story

  76. Acilius says:

    I don’t believe there are Cadburys left at Cadbury PLC.

  77. hairball_of_hope says:

    Latest theory of our global economic meltdown… high levels of testosterone made them do it. Check out the reference to the male hedge fund trader made to wear women’s clothing and take female hormones to tone down his aggressive trading (I am not making this up):

    I recall that the researcher, John Coates, also did a study published earlier this year on the ratios of finger lengths of ring finger to index finger, which correspond to testosterone exposure in utero, and financial trading success.

  78. hairball_of_hope says:

    Looks like Amazon rankings and search are close to being back to normal… Masters & Johnson now shows up in my sample search, as does Jan Morris’ autobiography.

  79. NLC says:

    Seconding h_o_h’s observation I see that the rankings for both of the books I mentioned above (by Dover, and by Brooten) seem to be back.

  80. Kate L says:

    Veering wildly off-topic, in one of her last acts as governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius has vetoed a bill passed by the Republican legislature to limit the ability of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to deny permits to a consortium of power companies that want to build a large coal-powered electrical plant on the high plains of western Kansas. According to a news article in the Topeka Capital-Journal, “Earl Watkins (president and CEO of Sunflower Electrical Power Corporation) said the cooperative (of power companies) would fight for the right to build the “cleanest” coal plant in the nation. He said KDHE unfairly pointed to emissions of carbon dioxide, a pollutant previously unregulated by the state, when denying a permit.” For her part, in her veto message Governor Sebelius said that it would be irresponsible to authorize construction of a $3.5 billion source of carbon pollution in southwest Kansas while the “rest of the country was trying to reduce greenhouse emissions.” The Sebelius veto will probably be sustained. Here is the link to the Capital-Journal story:

  81. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L

    Interesting to note that according to the article, the proposed plant would emit 11 tons of CO2 in KS and 86% of the electricity output would go to TX and CO. Sort of like treating KS as a third-world country, let’s go dump our pollution in poor ol’ KS and reap the benefits in rich TX and CO. The American global business ethic, applied stateside. 🙁

    I wondered about the windfarming in KS, is there much development in that area? It’s not exactly without problems, particularly for migratory birds and lovers of quiet and scenic landscapes, but it’s definitely low on the carbon footprint scale. And excluding the pompous windbags in your state legislature, KS still has a lot of wind that could be harnesed.

  82. Kate L says:

    Wind power is the green alternative of choice for electrical power generation in Kansas, although there are still placement issues and the problem of migratory birds being drawn in by the slowly blinking red warning lights on tall structures. Here in the eastern part of the state, we are in the Flint Hills tall grass prairie and that sometimes creates a conflict between wind power towers and preserving nature. Here is a more or less typical view of the Flint Hills, taken and posted by on FLICKR by someone I don’t know (the image came up when I was searching for a representative Flint Hills photo just now):

  83. hairball_of_hope says:

    I can see how visually disruptive windfarms would be in that vista. Those are power line transmission towers in the photo, yes? By comparison, transmission lines are innocuous.

  84. hairball_of_hope says:

    It’s interesting to see how CNN softpedals the titles on its links to CNET articles about #AmazonFail.

    CNN named the link “Flap continues over Amazon book list”, and I assume the average websurfer would simply gloss over that. Click on the link itself, and CNET’s title is “Amazon ‘adult’ book-delisting fail: Error or troll?”

    The CNET article discusses the possibility that the LGBT deranking was the work of a troll.

    Quoting a blogger who actually tried to execute the script the troll posted:

    Blogger Bryant Durrell said he tested out Weev’s concept and doesn’t believe it is legitimate, partly because of buggy code.

    “Summation: nope, you didn’t do that, you liar you. Nice meta-troll, though,” Durrell wrote on his blog.

    “The really interesting thing about the troll is that he’s right even if he didn’t do it. The vulnerability he describes exists anywhere you make automated decisions based on third-party input.”

    And of course, now that this has gotten wider attention, more competent coders than the troll “Weev” will actually use similar methods to game the system.

    Think of the possibilities… you want to promote your product, book, whatever. Hire some script kiddies who will elevate your product’s rankings and reviews on respected e-commerce sites.

    That’s already a legitimate practice on Google, they use the term “search optimization,” and plenty of web designers and marketers hire themselves out to boost their client website Google PageRanks.

    Another possibility… you want to trash your competition. You hire some script kiddies to bash your competitor’s products.

    And then there are the political possibilities… hate Sarah Palin? Hire a troll to post an interesting looking link on teamsarah’s blog (obfuscated via TinyURL or another redirector). Have the link contain malware code or something that flags right-wing material on Amazon as objectionable.

    You get the drift.

  85. hairball_of_hope says:

    Cautious optimism… CNN is reporting that NY State Gov. David Paterson will be announcing plans to introduce a bill to legalize same sex marriage in the NY state legislature on Thursday. Client #9… oh… make that former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, also introduced the same bill in 2007, but it died in the GOP-led State Senate.

  86. Kate L says:


    A couple at the local Unitarian Fellowship are having the increasingly common problem in these parts of a neighbor wanting to rent a corner of his land so a company can build a commercial wind power generator tower there, close by to their home in the country. These days, the locating of these eco-friendly behemoths is a cause of a lot of controversy among the simple folk of the Flint Hills. Well, that and the bird kill at the base of the towers. The last time I was on a small commuter prop plane back to this neck of the woods, I could see the allure of those slowly blinking red lights in the nightime mist. Seen from above, they seemed to beckon us to spiral closer and closer… I wasn’t flying the plane, fortunately.

  87. Pam I says:

    Wind generators can be dismantled if/when new ways of generating electricity are invented/ found. Nuclear waste can’t.

  88. Ali says:

    It seems madness to not use a free and renewable form of energy – especially in windy areas. If you count the cost to wildlife and the planet in terms of waste, polution and global warming of other forms, the birds seem a very sad but smaller cost. I don’t know how anyone decides in situations of the lesser of evils. Can the flashing not be turned off and the red light warn knowing planes rather than lure unknowing birds?

  89. Acilius says:

    @Pam I: Good point. It also applies to hydroelectric dams. Take a windmill down, and its drawbacks are gone. But once a hydroelectric dam has turned a valley into a mudflat, that mudflat will remain for a long time to come.

  90. Kate L says:

    Here in our neck of the woods, we also have a dam across a major river, creating a lake that once extended north all the way to Nebraska. The reservoir lake is visible from space. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the dam as part of a much larger flood-control project back in the late 1950’s. Today, the lake is silting up and its northern part has already turned into an inadvertent wetlands, welcome as that might be for migratory fowl on their way between Canada and Mexico. The Corps originally thought that the build-up of sediment would happen at a uniform rate along the entire reservoir lake, although a look at nature would have told them that deltas tend to form where sediment-laden rivers first enter a standing body of water. The Corps has also just spent many millions of dollars to earthquake-proof the dam, due to an estimated magnitude 6 earthquake that struck the area in 1867. Earthquakes were another factor that were not fully considered at the time the dam was constructed. Add to this the many farmers and small-town residents who were displaced by the dam and you see many, many adverse consequences of this type of environmental engineering. Oh, I should also mention one thing that the local dam lacks, and which the Corps of Engineers has no plan to install: any hydroelectric generating capacity of any kind. None of the dams built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in this part of the United States has ever generated a kilowatt of electricity!

  91. an australian in london says:

    Oh, how embarrassing, read to the end aussie girl! i just signed the petition, emailed it to 74 people and put a link to it on my facebook site, then read on to find out it’s been fixed. Never mind, a bit of consciousness raising can’t hurt, innit?

    I love the commenters on this blog. Have I ever told you that?

  92. Dr. Empirical says:

    Wind turbines also make horrible creaking noises that carry a surprising distance. Wind energy is cheap and renewable, after the initial investment, but more thought needs to be put into placing them than “Wherever someone lets us.”

  93. Feminista says:

    I read that Judaism (except for Orthodox) and UUs are the denominations most likely to be pro-choice and pro-LGBT rights. Since I was raised Unitarian (after age 7) and had a Jewish father,I’m glad that most of my relatives are open-minded. (To quote my nephew: “we have a few Republicans in the family,but we don’t like to talk about them.”) **grin**

    It also means I don’t have much to say when I hear people wailing,with good reason,about their conservative relatives. On the Jewish side of the family for those currently alive the politics range from moderate Democrats to socialist feminists (the latter is my sister and me). 4 of my sister/fellow Boomer cousins are activists,and I’m glad I’ve gotten to know them better as adults despite significant geographical differences.

    Sometimes people get mad because they think I had it so much easier,or that I only became an activist because of my progressive parents. Well,if being told by first grade classmates that you’d go to hell,derided for being liberal and intellectual throughout high school,and being relegated to the library for the rest of the semester in sophomore world history for asking the teacher to consider another side to the Viet Nam war than what he presented are all easy experiences,I think not. And I’m well aware that some of you had it much worse.

    I would have been completely miserable as a teenager were it not for my membership in LRY,the UU youth group.

  94. Andrew B says:

    On the other other hand, wind power uses space inefficiently. Per acre, you can get a lot more power by burning something or running nuclear fission. And a lot of places don’t have enough wind often enough to bother. So we’re not going to be able to be too careful about where we put wind turbines if we want to get any significant amount of energy from them.

    I don’t have a pat answer to this. I don’t mean to dismiss the issues people have raised. If we are going to take the aesthetic issues seriously, I hope (but am not optimistic that) we will do so in a way that respects the sensitivities of poor people equally with those of the rich.

    Obviously conservation needs to be part of the answer. Please just keep in mind that you’re reading this on your computer and I wrote it on mine, and we’re not only using our computers. We’re using the hosting company’s server farm and the whole internet infrastructure that allows our computers to connect to it.

  95. Acilius says:

    Good points, Andrew B! Thanks for raising them.

  96. Duncan says:

    I just finished reading Ariel Schrag’s first books (Awkward, Definition, Potential) and will probably read Likewise when I can get it from the library. She’s good, all right, but reading about adolescence gives me the heebie-jeebies. Even growing up in a relatively liberal atmosphere where dating girls wasn’t as stigmatized as it would be in many areas, teen love is hell on wheels. I am not sure whether I missed out on that torment, or whether I just had to go through it in my twenties and thirties instead, but thank Cthulhu I’ll never have to go through it again.

    MC, “In these post marriage times it might be best to find new ways to indicate pairs of people.”

    Well, maybe not. Since when are we in “post marriage times” anyway? I figure that if people insist on getting married (and so many Homo-Americans are insisting), they should also have to use the old ways of indicating the pairs and the individual partners.

    ksbel6, on “extremist” Christians who “wear polyester blends and eat shell fish (even though those are included as sins in the same list).” Well, no they’re not, unless you consider the whole of Leviticus to be “the same list.” In which case, notice that “Love your neighbor as yourself” is also in “the same list.”

    “Jesus taught that one should pray alone and only worship with the group they felt closest to (like a family or small group of friends).” Where do you get that? I know the part about praying in secret, but not the bit about small-group worship. Considering that Jesus reportedly ministered to groups of thousands of people, I don’t think it’s obvious that he’d have objected to the superchurches on account of their size per se. As for “family,” Jesus didn’t think much of families: he taught that his family was not blood relations, whom he spurned, but those who did the will of Yahweh as Jesus taught it. Not so different from Fred Phelps (whose church, as I understand it, is mainly “a family or small group of friends” who worship with those they feel closest to.

    And don’t forget that in “the same list” where Jesus taught about praying in secret, he taught people to pluck out their eye if it led them to sin, lest they be cast into eternal fire; to become eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven if they possibly could, etc. Jesus was not a kissyface-huggybear Mr. Nice Guy but a hellfire and brimstone preacher. But to each his or her own.