Remember earlier when I wondered whether Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni lived on another planet for denying that anti-gay discrimination exists? Well, Louisiana conservatives may live in that outer space realm, as well.
Via Joe.My.God comes word that a House committee in Louisiana rejected an LGBT anti-bullying bill because they basically don't think being gay would invoke a bully's ire.
...Civil rights and gay rights advocates failed Wednesday to win approval for a more detailed and, advocates say, stronger anti-bullying law for public schools. Rep. Pat Smith, D-Baton Rouge, pitched House Bill 407 as necessary, given continued evidence of bullying, including a recent suicide by a Point Coupee teenager who had complained to adults many times about being mistreated by her classmates.
Opponents, lead by the conservative Louisiana Family Forum and aides to Gov. Bobby Jindal, argued that the measure went too far by listing perceived or actual characteristics that should not subject a student to bullying. The committee voted 10-5 to strip the bill of those key changes, which included sexual orientation. Smith shelved the measure, saying the action gutted its intent.
Current law requires local school boards to write policies that prohibit "harassment, intimidation and bullying." It defines those terms, in part, as, "any intentional gesture or written, verbal or physical act that a reasonable person under the circumstances should know will have the effective of harming a student or damaging his property or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm."
Smith proposed several tweaks and additions, but the most pertinent passage extended the definition to acts "a reasonable person under the circumstances would perceive as being motivated by an actually or perceived characteristic, including but not limited to race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, exceptionalities, physical disability, intellectual disability, developmental disability, mental illness or emotional health disorder, language ability, sexual orientation, physical characteristics, gender identity, gender expression, political ideas or affiliations, socioeconomic status or association with others identified by such characteristics."
Louisiana Family Forum president Gene Mills said the bill "introduces sexual politics" into the classroom, according to The Times-Picayune. I don't know what kind of atmosphere Mills, Jindal and their friends have on this hypothetical planet, but it's not oxygen.
Jonathan Frid, the actor most people know for his role as vampire Barnabas Collins on gothic soap Dark Shadows, has died of natural causes, Digital Spy reports. He was 87-years old.
Frid's death of course comes just ahead of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp's big screen adaptation of Dark Shadows, which aired from 1966 until 1971, and was a cult favorite. Frid makes a cameo in the flick.
Remarking on Frid's passing, Village Voice journo Michael Musto raises questions about the actor's private life:
And as my friend William Love--a true-blue Dark Shadows aficionado--remembers, Frid withdrew whenever personal questions were asked.
Frid's familiar line about his character was, "I don't play a vampire. I play a man with a secret."
That seemed to apply in real life, too.
Frid always came off like a fey cross between Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allen Poe, but his culty female fans through the years always argued, "He loves women!" or "He's asexual. He doesn't believe in having sex!"
And there was the hot guy William knows who once approached Frid as a fan, only to have the actor coo, "Let's talk about you."
(Another male I know claims Frid once chased him for sex, but the guy tends to have a vivid imagination, so take it with a grain of vampire dust.)
In the end, though, such questions really don't matter. Not at this point, at least.
Not content with having his email confined to his inbox, New York-based designer Ted Hayes connected his computer to a bubble gun that goes off whenever he receives an email.
Of course it's more complicated than just that, as New Scientist explains:
Creating the system required moderate programming and electronics knowledge. A microcontroller uses a radio module to wirelessly connect to a web server to check a script that gets updated when an email is received. If there are new messages, the microcontroller engages two actuators that emit bubbles. One of them is a relay that switches on a motor while a servo moves a bubble-blowing loop in place.
The simple project is just one example of a growing movement to connect physical objects to the web, creating an "Internet of things". Electronics hobbyists have already built more complex systems, such as an automated network in a home that allows lights, gates and doors to be controlled from a web site. However, pre-programmed devices could soon allow novices to take part as well by decreasing the amount of expertise required.
For his part, Hayes told the site, "I like the idea of physically manifesting otherwise ephemeral electronic information." Hmmm. Didn't Manhunt do that already?
Watch video of Hayes' contraption in action, AFTER THE JUMP.
Mitt Romney's crusade to win over social conservatives will take him to anti-gay activist Jerry Falwell Jr's Liberty University.
CNN reports that the Republican presidential candidate plans to deliver the Christian school's commencement speech in June, just as John McCain did in 2007, Ronald Reagan did in 1980 and George HW Bush did in 1990.
How much right wing propaganda will Romney inject into his remarks? Probably a lot.
The 19-year old actor, known best for The Hunger Games and The Kids Are Alright, is using his position and influence to help Straight But Not Narrow, a group of straight allies who fight for equality and acceptance. And that work has earned him a Vanguard Award from GLAAD, which Hutcherson will receive this weekend, making him the youngest recipient in the organization's history.
Speaking with E! Online reporter Marc Malkin about his work and activism, Hutcherson implicitly thanked his mother for always being an advocate. "My mom has always been a big advocate, especially in the gay, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual community so for me it's always been a part of my soul," he said.
Hutcherson also revealed to Malkin that he had two gay uncles who died from AIDS-related illness in the early-1990s: "They were in their early thirties, in great shape, but unfortunately they were taken away from us too soon. Both passed away at about the time I was born."
As for his activism, Hutcherson says it's far more laud-worthy than anything he does on the big screen. "This is what my family is most proud of and the same for me," he said. "Acting is one thing, but actually trying to change the world and the way people think to make people's lives better? That's the stuff I'm most proud of."
If only Hutcherson were gay -- and about a decade older…
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow could barely contain her excitement during a segment last night on the rise and fall of ex-gay therapy. You know, the theory that people can "pray away the gay."
Tracing the movement's history from its inception in the 1970s to the recent retraction by Robert Spitzer of his past claims that in rare instances people could change their sexual orientation.
Watch the clips, AFTER THE JUMP.