Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Why the US Does Not Have Enough Arabic Translators

Since keeping its base happy was more important than actually collecting information on terrorists, the Bush administration discharged as many as 37 soldiers who were training to be Arabic translators. And this was just since 2002 - after 9/11!

Why were they discharged? Because they were openly gay. This was strikingly shortsighted behavior two years ago, and it may now be coming back to haunt Americans.

In certain parts of the military, openly gay soldier have not been discharged when their skills were deemed necessary to national security. But what could be more necessary to national security at this time than skilled Arabic translators?

On September 27, 2004, the FBI announced that it was behind in translating Arabic documents and tapes. Not only that, but some tapes were being automatically deleted before they could be examined. Since the FBI typically hires many former military members, they might not be so far behind if not for the institutionalized homophobia of the Bush administration.

The only way we can maintain a civil, modern, safe society is to use the talents of all. I want a president in office who understands this, and that's why I'm voting for John Kerry.

[[I've also submitted this as a Letter to the Editor at the Post-Gazette, and added it as a page to The Facts Do Matter.]]

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Gee Whiz, Slow Again!

After renaming my blog a few weeks back, I haven't posted in nearly a month. I was somewhat overwhelmed by getting ready for Noreascon IV, this year's World Science Fiction Convention in Boston. While I'd changed jobs in the course of convention planning (resigned from being the Exhibits division director to taking a less stressful job as the FANAC exhibit area head and general Exhibits staffer), I was still pretty busy.

Over the last two weeks, while I was pretty much happy by how the convention went, I've been surrounded by the deaths, illnesses, and bad luck of friends and family members. Longtime Boston fan George Flynn died just before Worldcon. I've known George since my early days in fandom, and enjoyed his writing and appreciated his proofreading work on many NESFA and MCFI publications. My sister-in-law lost her job just a few months after my brother lost his, and her brother is terminally ill. My mother landed in the hospital after she couldn't walk one morning (she has a knee problem and it sounds like she may need surgery). And, yesterday, when Jim and I visited a shop we hadn't visited in a few months, we heard of the sudden, tragic death of the store's co-owner earlier in the summer. We'd been going to Mellinger's a few times a year since we found it just after we moved to Pittsburgh eleven years ago.

I'm not chronically sad or depressed, but my insomnia continues to be bad, which means my concentration is bad, I work very slowly, and I'm unbelievably forgetful. I hope to upload lots of Worldcon photos and even write a report. This will probably take some time. I also hope to help organize the many photos we collected for the Web site over the next few months.

Worldcon, while busy and frazzled at times, was mostly pretty pleasant. I was thrilled by how well The Mended Drum worked out - while I can't take design credit, I can take concept credit! The Art Show was about the best since MagiCon. First Night and the Friday Night Events were different events that both went very well. While the Hugos ran much longer than I expected, Neil Gaiman did a fine job as MC. I hear the Program was great - at least the items I was on went very well. We also had some lovely meals out with friends (at Brasserie Joe's, Leagal Seafood, Summer Shack, and the Pour House), and I got to take my Dad out for his 75th birthday (Durgin Park) and my youngest brother out for his 40th birthday (Marche Move-n-Pick).

Jim and I spent a few days up in Gloucester after Worldcon, a nice break before returning home that I really appreciated. We had an elegant dinner at Ocean View Inn (where we also stayed) and lovely breakfasts at Sugar Magnolia. We also drove and walked around Gloucester and Rockport, and hiked through Halibut State Park up in northern Cape Ann.