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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Year 2012 in review - 7 years of blogging

 Thomas Kraemer Dec. 15, 2012 wearing thick eyeglasses made of real glass, not plastic

PHOTO: Thomas Kraemer is shown above, at the end of 2012, not much worse for the wear, sporting a bright white beard and feeling in the spirit of being a Merry Christmas Santa Claus, but while also wearing some very heavy and thick eyeglasses made of real glass (not made of the standard plastic lenses, which would be even thicker) to obtain the necessarily high index of refraction required to partially compensate for his low vision blindness, which was caused by an ischemic stroke a few years ago. His current vision is similar to the typical grainy nighttime security camera videos often shown on TV news shows to ask for the public's help in identifying suspects, but he is also unable to recognize faces and some objects in a group of objects. See my previous post My low vision blindness is like seeing a captcha all the time (1/1/12 where I describe some of the complex problems caused by my low vision blindness, all of which are uncorrectable using any technology known today.

Despite having gone legally blind, I am glad that I have been able to keep blogging for 7 years, even though I can only do it at much slower pace today. (See my previous post Year 2006-2011 in review - 6 years of blogging (12/1/11)) When I started blogging seven years ago, it was a chic thing to do and Google soon bought the Blogger service, which at one time was being directly used by several internationally famous gay pundits, such as the gay conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan and gay liberal blogger Michelangelo Signorile. Both men soon become some of the first professional bloggers and shifted away from using Blogger.

The Blogger site of gay liberal Signorile moved to its own domain name for Michelangelo Signorile XM radio show. Also, blogger Michelangelo Signorile is the Editor-at-Large of Huffington Post Gay Voices page. Similarly, after using the actual Blogger Service for awhile, Andrew Sullivan moved to writing The Atlantic blog by Andrew Sullivan, "The Dish" at Andrew Sullivan's blog then moved to being hosted by The Daily Beast at

My purpose in blogging was never to do it professionally or obtain fame and glory by attracting a huge audience. I only wanted to use Blogging as a tool to document things of personal interest to me and share my notes with only a few other people on the Earth. I quickly discovered the real power of blogging, which is the ability to use Google search to find things in my own Blog notes. Unlike my decades of typewritten notes, which I can no longer search by skim reading due to my low vision blindness, I can quickly find things in my notes, even surprising things that I've forgotten writing, by doing a simple Google search of my blog.

I don't mind that many other people have also found my notes by doing a Google search, but the downside has been that a few trolls were attracted to my blog and they were able to trick Google's system into labeling my blog as having possible "objectionable content," which as a side effect disabled the ability to search my own blog. See my previous post This may be my last post - customer feedback to Google (12/1/11).

When Blogger disabled the ability to search my own blog, it became an even bigger problem for me as my low vision blindness worsened and I needed to be able to search my own blog even more in order to relocate my notes. After I was unable to solve this problem created by Google, I did a crude workaround fix and created the new blog you are reading now Tom's OSU Blog at, where I have been posting at for the last year. As a result, I quit adding new posts to my old blog (still readable, despite the "objectionable content warning" message) at Thomas Kraemer where I blogged for 6 years. This is why this post celebrates my 7 years of blogging.

I can still touch type blog posts as fast as ever, but my reading speed has been slowed considerably because I have to use computer software accessibility tools to read text. I also depend on picture captions, including closed picture captions that are not normally visible to users unless the internet browser is set to display closed captions and the Website has provided closed captions for pictures and videos. (You can try to see if your browser is displaying picture captions by hovering your mouse cursor pointer over my picture at the top of this post.)

Interestingly, even though I can touch type at normal speed, I can't dial a telephone number on a standard touch tone telephone number pad, probably because I never memorized the telephone key positions before my stroke and I am having problems making new spatial memories. After my stroke, for some unknown reason, I can't type either numbers or sentences while looking at any keyboard, I can only touch type without looking. This problem has made it hard for me to find and type special characters that I rarely use and had not previously memorized their positions on the keyboard before my stroke.

My Blogger posting statistics are a good measure of how much I've been slowed down by my stroke. During the last year I wrote 80 posts total, whereas I had averaged more than 250 posts per year during my previous 6 years of blogging, for a total of 1,553 posts before I suffered a stroke and started the new blog you are reading.

Unfortunately, my vision deteriorated even further during last year, probably due to more ischemic stroke damage according to my doctors and their fMRI images of my brain.

Everyone I meet asks me what I can see because I am clearly not totally blind, yet. The best description I've been able to come up with is that my vision is like watching the grainy night-time security camera videos that are often shown on TV newscasts to ask the public for help in identifying lawbreakers. Sometimes I can catch a few details of vision, but most of the time I can see only general shapes and little color. I still can't recognize faces anymore (something called prosopanosia or face blindness) and I therefore find it very difficult to watch movies with characters I am not familiar with. See previous post My low vision blindness is like seeing a captcha all the time (1/1/12.

Instead of blogging, the chic thing today is Facebook and social networking in general. Blogger was originally setup with many social networking tools, such as sharing and comments, but they are not used much despite recent attempts to add Google Circle social networking. The reason is probably because Blogger has typically attracted only the more intelligent crowd because Blogging required the ability to write posts whereas Facebook was set up to enable even the most casual user to socialize without ever having to work at it -- random socializing is much more fun for most people, including me sometimes!

Unfortunately, for some interesting and unknown reason, my low vision blindness and other neural perception problems are making it impossible for me to use Facebook, even though I had learned how to use it before my last stroke with my private family members. I don't know if it is because Facebook uses a more graphical user interface, which is hard for me to see, or if it is due to something else. I suspect I might have the same problem with Blogger if I was also using it as a social networking tool with the Google 1 Circle feature, but I have been using Blogger mostly as a solitary tool. Part of my problem is that I can no longer look at the screen and recognize the graphical connections between faces and other objects. I also can't read very fast either. I am sure that my disability would be an interesting subject for the user interface researchers, who I employed in a former job as an advanced research manager for the large Hewlett-Packard computer company, because user interface researchers are always looking for different models of perception in a quest to design better user interface designs more universally usable by everyone.

I plan to live another few decades before I die, but I have experienced some ominous signs telling me that I am about to die soon. The areas of my brain killed by the ischemic stroke are being consumed and swept away by my immune system, which is causing brain swelling and inflammation that in turn is causing me seizures and various neuropathic pains. It is hard to tell how much of my symptoms are benign and will heal to a stable point where I will suffer only from mostly vision loss or if my symptoms will progress further and cause worse problems, such as paralysis or even death.

Looking back at my life, I feel so blessed by God because my life has been much more good than bad. I am glad that I have been able to contribute a few small things to the world during my lifetime and hope I can do even more before I die. If I died tomorrow, I am glad that I have no regrets about how I've lived so far. (Although, I can think of things I would have done differently or even better!)

Speaking of looking back, here is my list of highlights from 2012:

Friday, December 21, 2012

PBS cancelled gay TV show 'In The Life'

VIDEO: PBS TV "In The Life: The Final Episode" posted on Dec. 1, 2012 -- Last aired on the local KOAC-TV PBS affiliate in Corvallis, Oregon on Dec. 20 and 21, 2012. (Note: this TV station's Web site no longer lists broadcast times for "In The Life"). Also see IN THE LIFE episodes and web exclusive videos at

The groundbreaking newsmagazine "In the Life" ends its 20-year broadcast run this month. Watch the final episode above. It's an illuminating look at the show's coverage of major issues -- and at how much has changed in 20 years. You can still view "In the Life's" archive online. Find out what In the Life Media is up to next, too.. (Quoted from "Farewell to 'In the Life,'" PBS WNET-TV posted Dec. 5, 2012)

In The Life: The Final Episode' At a time when lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people were virtually invisible in media, IN THE LIFE became the first to bring real stories, struggles and issues about the LGBT experience into living rooms across the country. In our final episode, we look back on highlights from our 20 years on public television. In The Life Media is coming to an end, but its vision is not. The organization will pass the baton on to communities, networks and individuals in the form of an online hub. Stay tuned for exciting news announcing ITLM's new home. You can still view "In the Life's" archive online. Find out what In the Life Media is up to next, too. (Quoted from "Farewell to 'In the Life,'" PBS WNET-TV posted Dec. 5, 2012)

TV Guide magazine said, "The gay TV news show "In The Life" premiered June 25, 1992, on PBS.".

I clearly recall watching the first airing of "In The Life." It survived both the Clinton and Bush era anti-gay political activity and so I am curious what has caused its demise during the Obama administration -- Washington, D.C. politics is always complicated. I hope it has noting to do with the PBS funding being cut by Republicans.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mainstream ignoring US Supreme Court's 1972 gay marriage decision

Baker et al. v. Nelson, United States Reports, Volume 409, Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court, October Term, 1972, Oct. 10, 1972 'dismissed for want of a substantial federal question.'

PHOTO: An original printed bound copy of first U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage that was initiated by University of Minnesota law student Jack Baker in and his lover Michael McConnell in 1970 after they noticed that Minnesota State law did not specify the gender of married couples and they got married: Baker et al. v. Nelson, Oct. 10, 1972, "United States Reports, Volume 409, Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court, October Term, 1972," U.S. Government Printing Office, 1974, p. 810. (See previous posts Baker v. Nelson 1972 Supreme Court order on gay marriage (7/22/09), Arthur Leonard CA Prop 8 appeal still citing Jack Baker gay marriage case (8/3/12) and (NY Constitutional law Professor) Arthur S. Leonard on Baker v Nelson gay marriage case (7/28/09))

National press coverage, of the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to hear cases concerning anti-gay marriage laws, is ignoring the Supreme Court's literally one-sentence-long ruling in 1972 that essentially said marriage is a matter of state laws, without any substantial Federal interest.

Even though the Supreme Court takes only a few cases, it was forced to rule on gay marriage in 1972 by obscure court rules, of that era that were exploited by the University of Minnesota law student Jack Baker, who had been legally married in Minnesota when the law did not specify gender of marriage applicants.

In a personal communication last year, the ferociously private Jack Baker and his spouse Michael McConnell, now in their 70s, still consider themselves legally married, even though Minnesota later outlawed gay marriage, because no court has legally revoked their marriage license.

As a classmate of Baker, I heard firsthand Baker's constitutional law professors worrying that his case was too soon and it might set a legal precedent that would be hard to overturn. The professors were right it set a precedent that has been cited in every same-sex marriage case, but ironically, it has not been ventral to any judge's later decision.

Here are some links to interesting writing on the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to hear some of the gay marriage cases:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Klüver-Bucy Syndrome, sexual preference changes and Simon LeVay Book


PHOTO: (click photo to enlarge) table of changes to sexual preferences in patients due to damage of their brain. The table was printed in the medical journal paper by Miller, et al., "Hypersexuality or altered sexual preference following brain injury," Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry with Practical Neurology, Aug. 1986, Vol. 49, pp. 868-873 -- PDF. This table included one woman who changed from homosexual to heterosexual orientation. The article notes that “temporal lobe structures play an important role in sexual preference and activity.” The paper notes that the Klüver-Bucy Syndrome, the bilateral temporal lobe dysfunction, is more commonly associated with changes in sexual preferences rather than hyper-sexuality. Note that the term sexual preferences is not the same thing as sexual orientation, such as being gay or straight, because sexual preferences includes other things, such as pedophilia and a desire for sex with objects. The Klüver-Bucy Syndrome and this paper was referenced in the book by Simon LeVay, "Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why, The Science of Sexual Orientation," Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 219, as part of a larger discussion on possible theories for sexual orientation, which may include a biological mechanism in most humans that suppresses homosexual behavior instead of something that would activate it, such as a gene or other biological development process. See previous post Simon LeVay's new gay science book (10/14/10)

Unfortunately, this paper has been quoted out-of-context by ex-gay groups to justify their unethical attempts to change gay people to be straight via prayer and psychotherapy. It is clear from reading Simon LeVay’s book that being gay is an inborn trait that can, at best, be repressed in humans. with a choice for celibacy, and it is set at birth or very early in the development of both men and animals. It is clear that attempts at changing sexual orientation can cause iatrogenic harm.

Due to my low vision blindness, it is taking me years to read Simon LeVay’s news book on gay science. Simon LeVay has been a prolific author on the science of sexual orientation for decades: