To the Proud Parents of a Healthy Corporation

If corporations are people, then they must have parents. In these cases, I guess you'd have to call the owners the parents. To all new parents out there, we'd like to send you a hearty congratulations.

The more we think about it, the happier we are to have you in our diverse community. We've never had such a complicated neighbor!

You do realize that all of you being the parents of one child makes you at least kind of a little gay, right? There's the kid surrounded by a bunch of men and you're all its father, so that's actually not kind of a little gay. We should say it's actually one of the gayest we can imagine. I mean, there's a lot of men standing around that baby corp.

What must they have done together to create this thing?

Don't fret! There's nothing wrong with a group of people raising a non-physical child together as long as they all consent to the arrangement. Embrace your freedom! Live as you see fit!

But you should know that it is kind of gay. You know, in a way that makes about as much sense as calling an organization a person. And that means some people will lump you into a peer group that, unfortunately for you, doesn't usually tolerate bullshit about how your religious rights as a Christian are being violated.

You might even lump yourself into that group. That's not so bad, though. Being on the other side of actual oppression (instead of made up oppression, aka paranoia) can help you develop tolerance, and sometimes even acceptance, of people who don't share your lifestyle.

Good luck!

No More Plastic Yard Waste Bags? Good, I Was Tired of Spending That Money Anyway

Image via Flickr by S Becerra

Image via Flickr by S Becerra

Stop complaining about paper yard waste bags. You should compost anyway. At least get a reusable trash can. Both options are cheaper and better for the environment.

Next year, Louisvillians will have to stop bagging yard waste with plastic bags. The environmental and money-saving benefits for the city seem pretty obvious. Some people, however, worry about the higher price of paper yard waste bags.

At somewhere around 40 cents per bag, paper presents a small financial problem for some Louisvillians.

So, what is a law-abiding taxpayer to do?

Forget about bags.

You have better options that are better for the environment and don't cost even as much as plastic bags.

So, basically, if you buy bags (be they paper or plastic), you're getting chumped.

Stop being a chump.

#1 Start Using Trash Cans

This reader letter in the Courier-Journal obviously comes from someone concerned about the environment (as she should be), and also concerned about spending more money than necessary (as she should be).

Even at a quarter a piece, plastic trash bags will end up costing you more than a couple of sturdy cans. You can get a 30-gallon can for about 15 dollars. Let's say you put one bag of yard waste out per week for 30 weeks of the year. In that scenario, you'll break even in two years. Even if you set out waste half that often, it only takes four years.

There really isn't a reason to buy bags of any kind. A can is a larger upfront expense, but most people who own yards have 15 dollars, especially if it means saving money in the long run.

#2 Start Composting

You have a yard. You have waste. Those are the two essential elements of composting.

Technically, you don't have to spend any money to compost. You just need to throw all of your yard waste in the same place, like a corner of your backyard.

Most people want something a little nicer than that. If you aren't one of those people, your neighbors probably are. It's fine to see a compost pile in your neighbor's yard. It's not so great to see (and smell) a trash heap.

You can go super-low-budget by digging a few holes, throwing your yard waste into them, and shoveling a little dirt on top.

If you want to get fancy, you can make a cage that holds your compost.

If you want to get straight baller with it, drop some cash on a compost bin. The most expense ones cost a little over $200. The affordable ones sell for under $50. Mine is made of scrap wood and old chicken wire. Compost doesn't care.

As an extra benefit, you get free compost for your garden next year. It's another instance where spending a little more money now can save you quite a bit over the years

Want to learn more about composting? Get info from the Jefferson County Cooperative Extension or use one of the dozens upon dozens of websites explaining how and why

Here, I just googled it for you. No excuses.

Damn! The Louisville Lip just taught you a way to save money. Why don't you give some of it to us by subscribing?

Attn Democrats: Beshear Really Wants to Stop Marriage Equality, So Stop Kidding Yourselves

Although some of Beshear's supporters say he doesn't really want to stop marriage equality in Kentucky, his lawyers' brief shows that he's serious about appealing the Bourke v. Beshear ruling.


Shortly after Gov. Beshear refused to follow the lead of Jack Conway, Kentucky's elected counsel, the state hired Ashland firm VanAntwerp, Monge, Jones, Edwards & McCann to defend Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage.

After hearing some of the firm's ludicrous arguments, many Kentucky residents assumed that Beshear, for whatever reason, wasn't taking the lawsuit seriously. Some even supposed that the governor wanted the state to lose the lawsuit.

That argument made some sense at the time. No matter how you feel about Beshear, it's hard to imagine that any thinking person would actually consider "Kentucky has an interest in supporting procreation" as a valid reason to deny same-sex couples their right to marry. As if telling gay couples that they can't marry would soon lead to their giving up, reconsidering a lifetime of feelings, and deciding that they would enter opposite-sex unions just so they could have children.

It isn't even borderline dumb. It's undeniably stupid.

I heard these arguments, admitted that there could be some truth to them, and continued questioning why a state's governor would opt to spend money unnecessarily on a lawsuit he wants to lose. No matter how I looked at it, the governor came out looking like either a liar or an idiot. Possibly both.

Now that Beshear's team of lawyers has filed its appeals brief, I think it's fair to dismiss these early conjectures as wishful thinking. Beshear really is terrible enough to fight against equal rights. And he plans on doing so seriously, even if his arguments do include some truly ridiculous statements.

(Thanks to  L. Joe Dunman for providing a succinct version of the Beshear's brief. For the sake of fairness, readers should know that Dunman represents Bourke in this case. Side note: People in the legal profession need to find a better word than "brief." Brief, my ass.)

  • The state of Kentucky has the ultimate authority to define its own marriage laws free of outside intervention.
  • The 1972 case of Baker v. Nelson is binding precedent, meaning federal courts have no jurisdiction over state marriage law challenges.
  • Same-sex couples are not similarly situated to opposite-sex couples, so their exclusion from marriage is not an equal protection violation.
  • Homosexuality and gender orientation are not protected classifications so a low standard of judicial scrutiny is appropriate.
  • There is a fundamental right to opposite-sex marriage, but not same-sex marriage, so a low standard of scrutiny is appropriate.
  • Kentucky has an interest in procreation and stable birth rates, and excluding same-sex couples from marriage recognition furthers that interest.
  • It is not the state's burden to disprove that same-sex couples can be good parents.
  • The state can make inexact distinctions between people to further its legitimate goals.

While we still see that ridiculous argument about stable birth rates, we also get higher caliber arguments that aren't nearly as humorous.

The brief cites precedence, states that homosexuals are not a protected class, and argues that the state doesn't have the burden of disproving numerous studies showing that same-sex couples are equally capable of raising children as opposite-sex parents.

Of course, that is exactly part of the state's burden. We shouldn't forget that the Bourke case has already expanded rights for same-sex couples in Kentucky. As we've seen from past appeals, the court isn't likely to take away recently won rights.

The only reason Beshear and Co. want to sidestep this burden is because they know they cannot compete with studies showing that children raised by same-sex parents thrive just as well as those raised by opposite-sex parents.  

I don't find any of these arguments persuasive, but that isn't the point. The point is that the Beshear team isn't trying to sabotage the case. They are laying out an appeal they hope will convince the judge. They have a plan, and they hope it will win.

Kentucky's Democrats should be concerned by this. According to a 2013 poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News, 72 percent of Democrats support marriage equality. Even 42 percent of Republicans support marriage equality.

What does it say that Kentucky's governor, a Democrat, doesn't value equality like nearly three-fourths of the party?

It's time for pro-equality Democrats to stop making up excuses for Beshear. He doesn't stand for the party's shared ethics. He doesn't stand for progress. He doesn't stand for equality, freedom, or liberty.

What, exactly, does this man stand for?

Americans Are Getting Dumber... Right?

Photo via Flickr

Photo via Flickr

While a significant percentage of Americans do not believe in evolution of any kind, young adults show that the country is becoming more scientifically literate.


Last May, Gallup released the results of a poll that asked people questions about their religious beliefs and scientific knowledge. The results weren't great. 42 percent of those polled say that "God created humans in present form" about 10,000 years ago. 19 percent say "humans evolved, but God had no part in process" and 31 percent say "Humans evolved, with God guiding."

The poll gives plenty of fuel to alarmists who think that America is getting dumber by the day. AlterNet published an article titled "The Results Are In: America Is Dumb and on the Road to Getting Dumber."

That's a bold statement that needs plenty of support.

The Gallup Poll Numbers are Slightly Misleading

Fortunately for Americans, AlterNet's title is a bit hyberbolic. Educational systems throughout the states definitely need improvements, but the people aren't getting dumber. If anything, they're getting smarter. For the purposes of this blog, "smarter" means more science literate.

Yes, 42 percent of Americans essentially don't believe that evolution happens despite the wealth of evidence showing that it does. In the poll, this number stands out, but only because of the way the questions are asked.

Gallup didn't give respondents two answers ("I believe in evolution" or "I do not believe in evolution"). Instead, it gave them three answers to consider. Two of those answers essentially say "I believe in evolution."

When you ask the question that way, you get 42 percent against evolution and 50 percent in favor of it. It's embarrassing to see that so many people choose the "dumb" camp that denies evolution. But it's invigorating to see that half the country believes in evolution.

Creationists are Getting "Phased Out"

More importantly, the people who say God created the world "poof!" 10,000 years ago in its present form (although presumably with less air pollution) are mostly over 30 years old. When you break it down by age group, it looks like America is getting smarter, at least in this one tiny area of science.

Only 28 percent of people 18 to 29 years old believe that "God created humans in present form within last 10,000 years" while 30 percent believe that "Humans evolved, God had no part in process" and 35 percent believe that "Humans evolved, God guided process."

That means only 28 percent deny that evolution exists while 65 percent believe in evolution of some type.

Compare that to the oldest age group (65+) and you see how much progress science has made. 50 percent of people in that age group believe in the 10,000-year-old world. Only 16 percent say evolution happen without any input from God. 23 percent say God helps guide evolution.

If you want improved science literacy for America's future, congratulations! You're looking at it.

We Have Real Educational Problems to Solve

This doesn't mean that everything is fine and dandy in the U.S.A. Tests show that American students don't know nearly as much about science as their European peers. American students test about as well as students in some of Africa's poorest countries (although, we all know that the poorest of the poor in those countries are NOT attending school, and therefore not taking tests that would bring averages down).

Instead of sounding an alarm, we should look at this carefully.

Besides, there are much larger concerns than whether non-school age adults understand how evolution probably works (evolutionary biology is an exciting and rapidly growing field. I fear that if I don't say "probably works" I'm dismissing all of the research done since Darwin, which is pretty much all of the research ever done).

If you really want to worry about our country's future, consider a National Science Foundation report showing that about 26 percent of Americans believe the Sun orbits the Earth.

This, However Slow, is Progress

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

Returning to the Gallup Poll, what can we learn? Combining it with a little common sense, we learn that

  1. younger adults are more likely to believe in evolution
  2. older adults are more likely to believe that God created humans, as-is, about 10,000 years ago
  3. many young adults take a moderate approach that fuses scientific evidence with religious belief (a perfectly valid approach for those trying to find ways to balance what they see (science) with what they feel (religion)
  4. eventually those young people will replace the older ones

Which means America isn't getting dumber. It's getting smarter.

We still lag behind much of the world. We still have a lot of work to do before we can call ourselves a scientifically literate culture.

Sounding false alarms, however, doesn't help this situation.

This isn't even the place to get into how counterproductive it is to call creationists "dumb." When that happens a wall goes up. Once you build another wall, it becomes even harder for people to switch sides. So, by calling scientifically illiterate people "dumb," we're making it much easier for them to stay where they are instead of developing an appreciation for modern science.

Mick Sullivan: Making Louisville Better One Score at a Time

Last April, The Tamerlane Ensemble (featuring Mick Sullivan, Chris Rodahaffer, Rob Collier, and Joey Theiman) performed their original score at The Frazier History Museum for Buster Keaton's classic movie The General. Atmospheric, catchy and full of historically significant musical references, the score makes an already exciting movie even more fun.

If you didn't get to see it, you have another chance. The group is scheduled to play along with the film at The Bard's Town on June 14th, next Saturday, at 7:30.

Today, I sat down with Mick Sullivan, who's not only a great musician but the coordinator of youth and public programs at Frazier History Museum, to discuss the project and related plans. After our conversation, I was convinced that Sullivan is making Louisville a better place, one score at a time.

The General is just the first step in a series that Sullivan hopes to make. He's working on a score for another Buster Keaton movie, Sherlock Jr. that he may perform solo or with his ensemble. He's also looking at shorter movies from the silent era.

Silent movies are perfect for Sullivan's project:

  1. Many of them never had official scores. At best, they had themes that would direct musicians at local screenings.
  2. Movies from the era are public domain, which means fewer legal/copyright issues that would make playing them in public financially unfeasible.
  3. They're begging to find new audiences, including kids who grew up with CGI-intense films. Once you've seen Keaton literally break his back during a stunt, and keep performing, you start to lose respect for actors who won't even perform minor stunts.

Sullivan hopes to take his project to the people. Playing an old movie with an original score at Frazier or The Bard's Town really only captures audiences who are already interested in the film or the music. Performing in public spaces would make it much easier to reach people who would otherwise know nothing about Keaton's films or Sullivan's music.

He's currently looking for a way to make public performances possible.

In the meantime, get yourself to The Bard's Town to hear The Tamerlane Ensemble perform their score of The General. With Sullivan's plans moving forward, it could be a long time before you have another chance. Those of you who missed the Frazier performances are lucky to have another opportunity.

Don't let it slip by.

Here's the Facebook invite for more info:


Guest Post on Never Nervous

I wrote a guest post for Never Nervous about the recent Visiting Nurse/Invisible Things/Martin Bisi show at Dreamland, where you can now buy alcoholic beverages as well as tickets to awesome performances and films.


...It was a set worth watching, I just wish I'd had a chance to hear it....

...He recorded Herbie Hancock for fuck's sake! How am I not going to go see the man who can record Herbie Hancock, then turn around and make awesome records with Helmet, Unsane, and Boredoms?...

You know you want to go read that shit.

I Keep Going to Art Museums Even Though I Hate Them (Kind of)

Unless you're really rich or have close relationships with some amazing artists, you probably don't get to see really good visual art very often. Computer screens don't count. Books only kind of count. If you think Lord of the Rings and similar crap CGI tripe count, you're reading the wrong blog.

There's probably only one kind of place that you can see a Cezanne, a Monet, or a popular Picasso: an art museum. (If you want to see an unpopular Picasso, go to your rich uncle's house. It's occasionally possible to buy his work for a few hundred dollars since he made a lot of stuff and lived to be freaking 91 years old.) The same goes for living artists. Good luck finding an affordable Helen Pashgian for sale.

Last summer, I flew to New York specifically so I could see the James Turrell exhibit at the Guggenheim. (I could have bypassed NYC for New Haven, my ultimate destination, but I had to stop to see what is probably going to be one of the last great things done by a rapidly aging artist.) His pieces can reportedly cost millions just to install. If you're not familiar, Turrell tends to use a lot of computers that control light in mysterious ways. He also uses some weirdo membrane fabric that I can't identify.

This summer, I was lucky enough to be in LA for a couple days, so I checked out the Turrell exhibit at LACMA, which might be even more impressive than the NYC setup. Viewing his work is a transformative experience for me. It's a short-lived transformation, but for a few hours my brain is firing on unknown cylinders and managing to find inspiration, thoughts, and pockets of euphoria that had gone previously unmined. 

Even Louisville gets (and has) a good share of impressive art. If you go see it, you'll thank yourself.

And if you're like me, you'll come away enlightened and angry.

I'm routinely antagonistic to the poor, bored security guards who have to follow orders that they probably don't give a shit about. Recently when someone took a picture of a Pashgian sculpture, a security guard yelled out "no pictures, please!" I looked at the guilty woman and said something like "god forbid that your camera might harm the light." The sculpture was a large plastic tube with light shining into it. A work of beauty, but also something that a camera flash would never harm.

(I've also been very kind to a handful of security guards in hopes of breaking museum rules. It works occasionally, mostly on young women guarding things in the dark. For some reason I have an easier time charming women in poorly lit places.)

It comes down to my fundamental belief that art is interactive and that I should be able to touch it, play with it, and discover what makes it amazing. If a painting has thick layers of paint, I need to put my face against it to see how thick those layers are. It's not a desire. It's a need. And I will do it until someone stops me.

At the Guggenheim Turrell exhibit, I ran my hand along the odd membrane while no one was looking. I pushed in gently to feel its give. I encourage you to do the same because it feels unlike anything you'll ever touch. It's stretchy yet firm. The color warps as you push in.

Baltimore's American Visionary Art Museum has some of the coolest things I've ever seen. When you display a ten-foot boat made of matchsticks, you're a fool for thinking that I won't bend over the security rope to see what's inside the boat. Is it empty? Are there more matches? Does it have moving parts? These are questions that I have to answer before I can leave the room.

I understand why museums protect art in this way. Some of them probably do so because they aren't allowed to let patrons take pictures. It's a legal thing that they can't control. Others don't want you touching, breathing, or getting, I don't know, you're fucking aura or something on the art because it will degrade it somehow.

I understand this position. Human fingers are covered in nasty oils that can damage practically anything when given enough time.

I understand that they want to preserve these things for future generations.

I understand it, but I don't care.

No, it's more than that I don't care. I think it's bullshit.

If we, the people living now, don't get to enjoy and explore art as fully as possible, then it's worthless. Throw it away. Set it on fire. I'll come back every few years to see how the landfill has altered it. I'll stand and watch it's beauty as it burns.

When museums don't let us experience the fullness of art, they discredit patrons and the artists. No, I don't care whether the artist wants people touching it or not. If you don't want people touching it, keep it in your home.

We're so worried about preservation that we forget about experience.

We have to protect these things for the next generation? Why? Let the next generation start from scratch. It might even be better that way. They don't need our baggage. Let them start over and discover what they can.

What makes us think it's okay to alter the surface of the planet by building suburbs, blowing up mountains, and filling cities with concrete that turns otherwise fine land into flood-prone hot spots... yet it's a unthinkable that we should touch a painting?

There's also an underlying classism that has always existed in the art world.

Museums are wonderful because they house art, but they are places where people of modest means go to see mindblowing things. They often get to do this because an extremely wealthy owner has lent the exhibit for viewing. Extremely wealthy people do not have to experience art in the same way as me and you.

What happens when the wealthy owner sits in her mansion watching a Calder mobile that doesn't have enough breeze to move? She gets out a fan, or she gives it a little tap. She sets it in motion. She gets to do this because she owns the art. She possesses it. She can do what she wants.

The rest of us have to stand, waiting for someone to open a door that will set the mobile to life.

What a shame.

At times, I'd rather see it melted down to make computer parts. Without interaction, it's just half of what it could be. We're holding it back. We're holding ourselves back. We're only letting ourselves see what should be experienced with our whole bodies.

We've found a way to demean the patron, the artist, and the art. When we worry more about protection than discovery, none of us will reach our full potential.

How We Interact With Preservation Louisville's Top 10 Endangered Places of 2014

Earlier this month, Jacob Ryan wrote a piece for WFPL's website about Preservation Louisville's Top 10 Endangered Places of 2014. A look at how our city interacts with these places could explain why they're on the list.

Could've been a movie theater. Sigh.

Could've been a movie theater. Sigh.

1. Vacant and Abandoned Properties

(I'm not sure that abandoned properties are endangered in Louisville, but okay.)

How we interact: throwing plastic bottles, feeling let down when we don't hear glass break.

2. Historic Educational Building, such as the Carnegie library at 1705-41 West Jefferson Street

How we interact: yelling at building because it isn't located in fancy suburb.

3. Mid Century Modern Structures

How we interact: kicking historic sign to measure the metal's value.

4. Ouerbacker House at 1633 West Jefferson Street

How we interact: wondering how the Russell Neighborhood got a mansion. Then wondering where Russell is.

Convenience at its finest.

Convenience at its finest.

5. Historic Corner Stores

How we interact: buying gun and pawn stores within a block's radius. Seems like a good investment.

6. Roscoe Goose House at 1302 South 3rd Street

How we interact: counting money in hopes of new Triple Crown winner.

7. Sacred Spaces, such as Lampton Baptist Church

How we interact: entering house of worship, quietly praying to a different god.

8. Peter C. Doerhoefer House at 4422 West Broadway

How we interact: trying to check in via Foursquare.

9. Historic Old Clarksville Site

How we interact: blaming Clarksville for how long it took Jeffersonville to open its side of the Big Four Bridge.

It's also a graveyard for teenage sex drives.

It's also a graveyard for teenage sex drives.

10. The Old Water Company Block (Morrisey Garage, Falls City Theatre Co. & Odd Fellows Hall)

How we interact: driving to Georgetown, IN because there aren't any drive ins left in Louisville.

Rejected Superhero Concept: See-Saw

Portfolio: See-Saw (born 1982 as Alto Cromwell) showed his talent early. At just 6-years-old, he figured out that he could make himself less visible to his pre-school teachers. He experienced his first full transition at 12.




Power: invisibility

Reason for Rejection: At first, this looked like a solid application. After reading a few scripts, it became obvious that the writer and the publishers do not share the same idea of what entertainment is, especially regarding a significant down-side to See-Saw's ability, namely that he goes blind whenever he becomes invisible. The publishers struggle to understand why the writer would put such a limitation on one of his creations.

Unfortunately, we envision a lot of storyline lines about See-Saw trying to navigate himself through cocktail parties, blind to the stains spilled drinks will cause but unwilling to reveal himself. Another obvious and overwhelmingly tempting plot: See-Saw trying to watch a couple make love, but if he doesn't hide via his invisibility, he's visible to them and he'll likely get caught... but going in invisible means that he can't see anything. Sure, it's interesting during that one issue when See-Saw experiments with installing cameras in various bedrooms, but how much is there after that?