The It Gets Better Project

I just read about a gay teenager in Indiana—Billy Lucas—who killed himself after being taunted by his classmates. Now his Facebook memorial page is being defaced by people posting homophobic comments. It’s just heartbreaking and sickening. What the hell can we do?

Gay Bullying Victim Who Survived

This letter to sex and relationship advice columnist Dan Savage galvanized him into creating the It Gets Better Project, which uses YouTube video to encourage lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender teens to have hope that their adult years will be much better than the isolation and bullying they receive would indicate. LGBT adults have submitted hundreds of videos showing how their lives are now fulfilled and happy.

If you know a LGBT young person, show them these videos. Let them know that there are better times ahead.

Dan Savage, his husband Terry, and their son DJ

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Joel Burns’ Emotional Speech at Fort Worth City Council Meeting

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And finally, a great response by Dan in his column to a Christian who wrote:

I heard an interview with you about your It Gets Better campaign. I was saddened and frustrated with your comments regarding people of faith and their perpetuation of bullying. As someone who loves the Lord and does not support gay marriage, I can honestly say I was heartbroken to hear about the young man who took his own life.

If your message is that we should not judge people based on their sexual preference, how do you justify judging entire groups of people for any other reason (including their faith)? There is no part of me that took any pleasure in what happened to that young man.

To that end, to imply that I would somehow encourage my children to mock, hurt, or intimidate another person for any reason is completely unfounded and offensive. Being a follower of Christ is, above all things, a recognition that we are all imperfect, fallible, and in desperate need of a savior. We cannot believe that we are better or more worthy than other people.

Please consider your viewpoint, and please be more careful with your words in the future.

Dan responds:

I’m sorry your feelings were hurt by my comments.

No, wait. I’m not. Gay kids are dying. So let’s try to keep things in perspective: Fuck your feelings.

A question: Do you “support” atheist marriage? Interfaith marriage? Divorce and remarriage? All are legal, all go against Christian and/or traditional ideas about marriage, and yet there’s no “Christian” movement to deny marriage rights to atheists or people marrying outside their respective faiths or people divorcing and remarrying. Why the hell not?

Sorry, L.R., but so long as you support the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples, it’s clear that you do believe that some people—straight people—are “better or more worthy” than others.

And—sorry—but you are partly responsible for the bullying and physical violence being visited on vulnerable LGBT children. The kids of people who see gay people as sinful or damaged or disordered and unworthy of full civil equality—even if those people strive to express their bigotry in the politest possible way (at least when they happen to be addressing a gay person)—learn to see gay people as sinful, damaged, disordered, and unworthy. And while there may not be any gay adults or couples where you live, or at your church, or in your workplace, I promise you that there are gay and lesbian children in your schools. And while you can only attack gays and lesbians at the ballot box, nice and impersonally, your children have the option of attacking actual gays and lesbians, in person, in real time.

Real gay and lesbian children. Not political abstractions, not “sinners.” Gay and lesbian children.

Try to keep up: The dehumanizing bigotries that fall from the lips of “faithful Christians,” and the lies about us that vomit out from the pulpits of churches that “faithful Christians” drag their kids to on Sundays, give your children license to verbally abuse, humiliate, and condemn the gay children they encounter at school. And many of your children—having listened to Mom and Dad talk about how gay marriage is a threat to family and how gay sex makes their magic sky friend Jesus cry—feel justified in physically abusing the LGBT children they encounter in their schools. You don’t have to explicitly “encourage [your] children to mock, hurt, or intimidate” queer kids. Your encouragement—along with your hatred and fear—is implicit. It’s here, it’s clear, and we’re seeing the fruits of it: dead children.

Oh, and those same dehumanizing bigotries that fill your straight children with hate? They fill your gay children with suicidal despair. And you have the nerve to ask me to be more careful with my words?

Did that hurt to hear? Good. But it couldn’t have hurt nearly as much as what was said and done to Asher Brown and Justin Aaberg and Billy Lucas and Cody Barker and Seth Walsh—day in, day out for years—at schools filled with bigoted little monsters created not in the image of a loving God, but in the image of the hateful and false “followers of Christ” they call Mom and Dad.

Comments? Send a tweet to @ironwolf or use the response form.
I can’t respond to everything, but I do read everything!

Learning to Program with Teaching Languages

This is a short revue of some of the teaching languages I have been impressed by. If you’re looking to cut your teeth on programming, these are all good choices, they all have easy step-by-step tutorials, they are all available for a variety of platforms including Mac, Windows, and Linux, and they are all free!

Logo

Logo is the Wise Old One of teaching languages. It is also the language that introduced so many of us to geometric concepts via its innovative use of turtle graphics. Here is a free Logo implementation for Mac OS X. Here is a Logo design gallery.

Alice

Alice is an object-oriented programming language that also teaches concepts of 3-D programming and includes built-in tutorials. Here is the Alice home page.

Squeak

Squeak is an implementation of the venerable Smalltalk programming language— perhaps the first true object-oriented language. Here is the Squeak home page. An offshoot of the Squeak project is Squeak Etoys, which is a powerful and dynamic learning environment.

Scratch

Scratch is also based on Squeak, and provides a dynamic programming environment that encourages a community of sharing code among its users. The Scratch home page.

Context Free

Context Free is a program that generates images from written instructions called a grammar. The program follows the instructions in a few seconds to create images that can contain millions of shapes. There is a gallery with thousands of art pieces and their source code.

Processing

Processing is an open source programming language and environment for people who want to program images, animation, and interactions. It is used by students, artists, designers, researchers, and hobbyists for learning, prototyping, and production. It is created to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context and to serve as a software sketchbook and professional production tool. The Processing home page.

Wiring

Wiring is an open source programming environment for exploring the electronic arts, tangible media, teaching and learning computer programming and prototyping with electronics. Wiring is based on Processing. The Wiring home page.

Arduino

Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments. The Arduino programming language is based on Wiring. The Arduino home page.

Comments? Send a tweet to @ironwolf or use the response form.
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The Joy of Patter

All my life I’ve loved and collected songs that have quick, intelligent, and tongue-twisty lyrics. Back in 2005 I even started a thread on Ask Metafilter requesting recommendations for such songs. But I only recently learned that this style of lyricism has a name: the patter song. Here is a selection of patter songs old and new on YouTube. All are safe for work and fun for kids.

I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General — Pirates of Penzance

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Rock Island — The Music Man

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Hardware Store — Weird Al Yankovic

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Pinch Me — Barenaked Ladies

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The Name Game — Shirley Ellis
Mad Dogs and Englishmen — Noel Coward
One Week — Barenaked Ladies
The Elements — Tom Lehrer
Yakko’s World — Animaniacs
The Presidents — Animaniacs
State Capitols — Animaniacs
Be Careful What You Eat — Animaniacs
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious — Mary Poppins
It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) — R.E.M.
• We Didn’t Start the Fire — Billy Joel [official vid] [slide show]
Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me) — Reunion

More? Here is Wikipedia’s list of patter songs.

Comments? Send a tweet to @ironwolf or use the response form.
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Saturday! Game Day in Glendora

Sorry for the short notice, but if you’re in the Los Angeles area on Saturday July 12, then please come to the Game Day I’m having in cooperation with the Glendora Public Library. Drop in with your favorite game, puzzle or brain teaser, or play one of the many we will have here. Doors open from 1:00 PM to 9:00 PM, with Free Pizza served at 5:00 PM. All ages welcome!

The library is at:
140 S. Glendora Ave.
Glendora, CA 91741

Map below. Click here for directions.
Game Day at the Glendora Library

Comments? Send a tweet to @ironwolf or use the response form.
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Darth Vader is a Meanie

My kids are now thoroughly into Star Wars, and learning how a true villain behaves.

(These are all safe for kids to see.)

Aha!

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Comscan Has Detected—

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I’ll Never Join You!

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Let Me Look On You With My Own Eyes.

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Ironwolf’s Mystery Spot: Gondry Redux

I just noticed that, not content to have been exposed only once, hoaxer Michel Gondry came back with another “remarkable feat”, (pun sort of intended) just asking for a good debunking. This time he claimed that he could solve a Rubik’s Cube in under a minute with only his nose! Let’s watch as he tries to trick us…

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Now being no slouch himself, some random YouTuber (who sounds almost, but not quite, entirely unlike like Brian Flemming) took it upon himself to again expose the ruse which (to the untrained eye) may have seemed slightly uncanny. The reality is far more mundane.

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But Gondry is a slippery fellow, and like Uri Geller, I know he will be back again and again to bedazzle and mislead the weak minded…

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Ironwolf’s Mystery Spot: Time Machine

The first video below inspired me to find some other interesting backwards-shot clips. I also showed my sons (7 and 3) how we could use iMovie to do our own fun backwards videos.

How Michel Gondry Faked His Rubik’s Cube Stunt

As revealed by Brian Flemming, creator of The God Who Wasn’t There.
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The Swedish Bookstore Scene from the movie Top Secret!

Watch it (almost) as it was shot here.
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More Michael Gondry: Will it De-Blend?

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Weird Al: Amish Paradise

Pay special attention to the last scene.
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Barry Jones: Backwards Magic

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Game Day Six

If you’re going to be in the Los Angeles area on Saturday, June 30, you’re invited to an occasional event I hold called Game Day. Here is the text of the evite, where you will find full details.

In cooperation with the Glendora Public Library, I’d like to invite you to the long-awaited Game Day Six! An afternoon and evening of card and board games ranging from the classics to the wildly innovative (and possibly even some rare or new computer games). Bring your favorite games, and discover some new ones.

I will bring my game collection, and Ron Polk will also bring his collection of over 100 brain teasers and puzzles for you to try.

This event is open to the public and all ages are welcome, so feel free to spread the word among your friends, family, and colleagues.

Unlike previous Game Days, there will not be a potluck, but you are invited to bring your own picnic/snacks, and the library will be providing additional refreshments, with pizza served at 5:00 PM!

Anyone who wants to be added to the Game Day invite list, send your e-mail address to ironwolf@dangerousgames.com. Also, please let me know if you have any ideas for interesting L.A.-area venues for future Game Days.

Comments? Send a tweet to @ironwolf or use the response form.
I can’t respond to everything, but I do read everything!