As per the request of one of the DanceNet readers, here are copies of the past ramblings of the DanceNet Webmaster.
Another year, another successful outing at Beantown. To be honest I go mainly to dance and to see many dancers and teachers whom I don't see at other times of the year. I didn't get there early enough on the weekend to catch the beginner Balboa class so I didn't go to the other ones.
I was lucky enough to get the room in the Kennedy dorms closest to the cafetaria. I saw the inside of the Winthrop dorm...glad I never asked for one of those rooms. Air-conditioning is your friend. I heard Bayview is the newest dorm.
I got to go back during the week. The atmosphere is completely different. With so much dancing during the week, especially with the classes during the day, there isn't as much pressure to get to the dancing after dinner. As a result there's more room on the dance floor during the week. Some people even take naps and come back at midnight.
At one point I was standing nearby when Steven Mitchell was dancing. I wasn't watching his feet so much as I was *listening* to his feet. It was amazing. I wish he had been wearing tap shoes instead so his footwork would have been more obvious.
Tuesday night featuring an hour of "Frankie's Stories" with Frankie Manning. Missing was his usual cohort, dance historian Cynthia Millman. Frankie's style of story-telling was like a grandfather sharing old stories and secrets with a favored grandchild...even if there was really a few hundred people in the audience. Some of the stories were old, some of the ones were new. All were worth hearing. It's too bad that hour wasn't open to the public.
Norma Miller was the featured speaker on Thursday. Unlike Frankie's close intimate style of story-telling, Norma was a fire-and-brimstone preacher trying to pass on the legacy of Lindy Hop. We found out who was her favorite social dance partner and her favorite performance partner (ain't tellin') and we got to see a portion of the new documentary, "Queen of Swing".
I missed Wednesday's band, but Saturday's band, Ron Sunshine, playing a wide variety of tunes.
I thought the weekend portion of Beantown was one day too short. I was driving home just as I was getting into it. As I say every year, maybe I'll do the "whole shebang" next year.
Politicians are elected (and paid) to make the hard (and ethically correct) decisions that affect us all. Part of that job is to protect the rights of minority groups and any unpopular opinions. Their job is to look at the pros and cons concerning all topics and publicly make unemotional decisions. They need to show everyone how they made their decision and then have the guts to stand by them.
Any politician who says that any civil rights issue should be left to a vote of the people is a coward who doesn't want to be take responsibility for his or her vote. If we ran the country that way, some states might still not allow women or African Americans to vote, and slavery might still exist.
Anyone who wants to modify the Constitution (either the American or state document) needs to remember why it was written in the first place. It was intended as a guarantee of the people's rights: for you, for me, and even for those people we don't like.
Take a look at the US Constitution. At one point an Amendment abridged the rights of citizens (to possess and consume alcohol, even in the privacy of their own homes). Luckily the country came to its senses and repealed that amendment.
The Constitution should not be altered to hurt a specific group of people that we don't like, regardless of how the articles are phrased. In Massachusetts, the state supreme court decided that it was okay for homosexuals to get married. The state Constitution should not be used to *take away* that right.
The Real Issues:
It appalls me to think that people get so bent out of shape about issues that aren't important, and then come up with irrational reasons to keep them at the forefront of the news.
These are *logical* reason why gay-marriage (or actually, gay civil unions) should be allowed and why they would be good for the American economy. All the reasons against such civil unions that I hear are *emotional" excuses, mostly "We've never done it that way before". Can anyone give me a *logical* reason why gay civil unions *shouldn't* be allowed (or at least one that can't easily be refuted)? Arguing that gay civil unions lessens that value of heterosexual marriage is a lie, as well as an emotional response, because they can't prove it. That's the same argument they used against interracial marriage and this country hasn't fallen apart because of it. If politicians want to do something to protect marriage, they should do something about the *real* threat to marriage: "divorce". Anyone interested in a Constitutional amendment banning divorce? (Personally, I'm annoyed that gay citizens are getting married before I do. :^) )
What's more important: the American Flag or the Constitution? The *First* Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of speech. The American flag is a *symbol* of that right; it is not the right itself. Allowing some misguided citizen to burn the US flag demonstrates that the Constitution and its Amendments are much more important than the *symbol* of those Articles. That doesn't even bring up the point that such a law is not effective outside this country and would only encourage people in other countries to burn the US flag just to show us how powerless we really are. Does it make sense to let people in other countries have a "right" (to burn the American flag) and not allow our own citizens to make that same (childish) decision? Every elected official is sworn in to protect the Constitution, not the flag.
Over 230 years ago, some very brave and very wise men met and put together one of the most important documents of this land to indicate their desire and right to oppose the self-given right of a tyrant to dictate how they should live their lives. This tyrant thought he had a God-given right to the loyalty of these people who were his subjects. He thought he had a right to tell the people what to do. He ignored the representatives of the voice of the people.
The people thought this ruler was wrong and they fought back. They put in writing their declaration of their freedom from tyranny and oppressive rule and to guarantee their natural rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of freedom, that no one, especially an autocratic ruler, could take away. They especially put in safeguards to prevent any branch of government, or any one man, from assuming the ultimate unilateral control of this country.
History records that tyrant's name, 230 years ago, as (King) "George". The writer and philosopher (and graduate of my high school) George Santayana once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
The Bottom Line:
Politicians are smart enough to know that a lot of Americans are stupid enough to vote instinctively on emotional issues and they'll use that knowledge if they think they are in eminent danger of losing on the important issues (and their own government job). Let's face it: a lot of Americans don't want to have to think through complicated ideas and they really don't have the attention span for it anyways. That's why we elect these politicians into office. It's so much easier to raise a banner on something else that gets a lot of people's blood boiling. It's easy to rile up a lot of people over an emotional issue where they don't have to spend more than 10 seconds to think and decide what they want.
"Marriage" is an institution of the church; I was told by a friend that the Catholic Church wasn't interested in it until about the 1300's so it's not like it's been a burning issue since the creation of time. Couples have been shacking up since the cavemen for mutual support and protection. The things that people should be concentrating on are "civil unions" and "rights". Anyone who goes to city hall to get a "marriage licence" is getting a government recognition of a "civil union" and the legal rights and responsibilities contained therein. The people who are making the big deal against such arrangements use FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Deception) to blur the distinction between "marriage" and "civil unions" and argue their side of the story.
A side note: if people argue that a man and a woman are better parents than a gay couple, then I have to wonder why these people aren't also arguing that a gay couple, two people, are logically better than voluntarily single parents. Has anyone come out against allowing single people to adopt or have children? Or is the real issue is that homosexuality freaks them out?
A second side note: if a politician uses a high official of a church to promote his political issues and ignores the opinions of officials from other churches, is that politician giving preferential treatment to a particular religion? Isn't *that* against the Bill of Rights?
Politicians who raise a furor over flag-burning and gay-marriage are trying to divert your attention from the really important issues, like gas prices, taxes, the economy, jobs, health care, civil rights, world affairs, and the fact that the President of this country made up reasons to invade Iraq. I'm surprised that more intelligent people aren't separating the two issues of supporting our troops and supporting the President. That's because the party in power would have nothing else to say that would make their constituents vote for them. Don't let them get away with it.
PS: Burning a flag is a really stupid way to express an opinion. I know there's a difference between the flag of a country and the people who run that country. In this country, voting and getting other people to vote is a smarter way (yet, more strenuous) of expressing your opinion. I get a lot more satisfaction out of voting out a bad politician. Burning an American flag means you're protesting the democracy and freedom of this country and that's incredibly stupid and childish. I say let them burn the flag; it's a very economic way to identify all the idiots. Hey! I'm in a free democracy and I can say that!
Gay couples are a reality and all the wishing won't make them go away. I have no real opinion for or against gay civil unions. However, they can still have children (biologically) and be good parents to them, and I don't see anyone brave enough to advocate taking those children away from their parents. They *are* as good citizens as anyone else. Why not give them the same legal rights (and responsibilities) as any other parents? Is anyone in favor of treating *any* American as a second class citizen?
An important part of today's requirements for making your business presence known is to get a website. After (manually) editting the pages on this website for the past 10 years, I'm quite proud of the fact that the ratio of HTML code to user-readable information is relatively low; i.e., I use the minimal amount of HTML code to get the information formatted so that you can read it. I've had people comment that my webpages are downloaded very quickly, even from other webmasters.
One of my issues with nice HTML editors is that they put in a lot of extra "junk" in the files. I must admit that some of that extra HTML code conforms to current HTML standards, yet, some of it is extraneous to getting the work done. And some of them are poor at removing "artifacts" in the code.
I was just looking at an HTML from a friend's code because I was wondering why the webpage displayed so strangely. I found that there were hundreds and hundreds of embedded font changes (without any intervening readable text). This one file was several hundred *thousand* bytes long. If you were to know that it was recommended that graphic files not be more than 20,000 bytes, then you'd realize that this HTML file was way too big. This made it incredibly difficult to figure out what was causing the HTML to display badly. If someone with only dial-up access was trying to read the file, they'd give up.
I spent an hour trying to see how much junk I could get rid of. After removing all the junk that would never appear in my webpages, I managed to get the file down to a mere 5,000 bytes long. The page looked a ot better afterwards because I could read it and fix a bunch of problems. Another page on that website was at 500,000 bytes long.
Another art of the problem was that this person editted the pages until it looked good on the browser they were using and assumed it was good enough for all browsers. However, it was the browser on a platform that most people don't use. Mozilla Firefox now has about 13% or 16%; Opera has some low number and Internet Explorer has the rest (Netscape's in there but I forget their market share). Getting a webpage to display properly on the browser that has most of the market is more important than getting it to look right on your own computer at home. Not being to use other browsers on your home computer is no excuse, which is why I'm getting a Mac. (See the page "Not Netscape 4-compatible").
I must admit that I generally test on Firefox; it's the browser I use by default. However, I write my own HTML and the theory is that it should be the lowest common denominator; it should work on all browsers. While each browser has its own personality querks, this website's HTML pretty much works on all browsers. It should be noted, however, that it's much easier to debug HTML code for other browsers when you don't have to wade through junk in an HTML file. Pictures should be resized, compressed and resaved as it should be displayed on the browser, for improved download speeds. If a picture is 640x480 and is going to be displayed as 400x320, then it should be saved as the smaller size (and compressed up to 15:1) so the reader won't have to wait too long for the graphic to download.