My availability to provide housing hosting: here is my statement

Since last summer, late July, I have considered the possibility of hosting an asylum seeker or possibly an international refugee in my “inherited” trust house.  I see that I discussed my previous experience with this matter on February 23, 2014 (and to some extent Nov. 2, 2016).

I won’t give a detailed history of all the discussions, but I have met with an attorney separately in Virginia (where I lived), for some sense of what legal risks could be involved. I’ve documented elsewhere the requests for housing assistance particularly from The DC Center Global, as here on a legacy blog.

There is a big difference between refugees and asylum seekers.  Refugees are vetted by the State Department and by Homeland Security before they arrive.  They can get benefits and can go to work and support themselves.  They usually have support from religious congregations, which work through a number of non-profits (themselves faith-based) who work with DHS.  Generally these non-profits are pretty mainstream now and don’t impose their religious values (as with LGBTQ people).  Usually refugees are intact families that are put up in commercially run apartments with rental assistance.  Occasionally there are single individuals who are placed with people who know them (relatives if possible) or whom social service agencies locate.

Asylum seekers are already here in the U.S.  They may have overstayed their visas, but applied for political asylum within the one year period of arrival (in most cases).  They might have entered illegally and then requested asylum, in which cases they are often placed in detention.

Asylum seekers are not allowed to work or get federal benefits for some number of months (6-9) after application.  Asylum cases can take an extremely long time to be heard by immigration judges.  In practice, judges have a lot of discretion on applying ideas like “particular social group” or “credible fear”.  It’s conceivable that the Trump administration could try to tighten these, but there is no really clear sign yet that this is happening,

Asylum seekers, by definition, have not been vetted before coming.  Therefore, it is riskier, on its face, to allow them to circulate freely in American society.  Generally, the idea behind the law is that asylum seekers are welcome when some individual or family or small social group will vouch for their integrity and will financially and physically support them.  That means that asylum seekers who have relatives in the US usually have more sources of help than those who do not.

The best host, then, is usually a relative or someone who already knows the asylum seeker personally,  Someone else who would host an asylum seeker might be able to do a background check with a school or employer, if the person had been here on a work or study visa.  A host might be able to use one of the many “background investigation” sites on the Internet to do a check of public records.  But the prospective host has the situation of potential liability for the behavior of the person hosted without (short of very radical ideas like marriage or adoption) the legal arrangements that are possible, say, in Canada, which has legally well defined private sponsorship status in its family law.

Organizations seeking to assist asylum seekers do not have the resources behind them that churches assisting the hosting of refugees have. Generally that may be asking “strangers” to host them without the usual reassurance of knowing the person well, and without the social service agency supervision that lawyers have told me personally is necessary.  One practical solution is to ask prospective hosts to volunteer for a while to get to know the people first, to help build “social capital”.  This might be problematic if a volunteer has housing space but resists offering it out of personal caution.  So hosting gets to be seen as an act of “faith”.  It’s easy to misuse other people’s “faith”.  But it’s also true that a potential host, like me, could have the “Rich Young Ruler Problem”.  That is, he has limited social capital personally (because he has a veneer of self-sufficiency) and has a lot to lose if something goes terribly wrong.  On the other hand, someone used to a communal lifestyle with “less to lose” might think that offering hosting is not much of a deal and ought to be expected of everyone.

The host does face some possible hazards . Without going into too much detail, these could include housing someone with illegal status after an application is denied (although there are some faith-based groups who attract volunteers who see providing sanctuary to undocumented immigrants as a moral duty – that is another matter), a “trojan horse” person (Donald Trump’s “take care of your own first” idea), or criminal misuse of the host’s Internet router.  Another possibility is that, especially depending on unknown future developments, the person becomes a long term financial dependent in areas like health care treatment (including HIV-related).  There can be general social adjustment issues around behaviors like smoking., recreational drugs or alcohol.

At this point, let me reiterate what my own position on hosting anyone is.

If I know the person already (even if primarily onine), my attitude is no different than anyone else’s would be.  It all depends on that person and my connection to him/her.  It may be easier if the person is publicly known.  This is the normal experience of having a house guest.  It’s not an issue.  But I’ add that I don’t “do” Airbnb (either as a provider or guest).

If it involves a request to house a person suddenly in need of housing, and I learn of this suddenly:

If I already know the person, then it is no issue (above).

If I learn about the situation at a social or volunteer event and the person is not from overseas, I would need to talk to the person in detail and would need references (see Feb.23 posting – I’m stricter now than I was then).  This actually happened once in early January, 2017 but I took no action..  It is very unusual in general.

If it is an international hosting situation (refugee or especially asylum seeker) and if I do not know the person already, I need to have a scheduled in-person private meeting with at least one attorney or professional social worker representing the organization, to discuss a number of potentially adverse scenarios.  Some time (up to two weeks) could elapse before I decided if I’m “in” or remain “out” (no pun).  I make no apologies for my “faith deficit” or lack of “social capital”.  Actually, I may have my own sources of social capital to bring to the table.  But an existing organization asking for this kind of assistance must recognize me as an “Out of Network” provider.

It could help if the organization offered a public “town hall”  information forum for potential hosts, or published an FAQ page, after review by an immigration attorney.

In talking about “knowing the person” from online activity, I also realize this assessment must be looked at carefully.  The person needs to be capable of (verifiable) independence and not simply trying to manipulate others online.

(Posted: Saturday, March 25, 2017. 3:45 PM EDT)

More on unsolicited job interview invitations to “pimp out charities”

A little correction to P. 137, Chapter 4 of my DADT-III book.  It was 2009, not 2006, that I was approached for the job of supervising teens raising money in shopping malls.

It was a Friday evening, just before 6 PM,  in February, 2009 that I got that unsolicited call on my Blackberry.  I was in the basement about to sit down to my computer and I was surprised by the call.

I went to the “interview” on the following Tuesday afternoon in an office park just inside the Beltway on Route 7, on a bitterly cold day after an arctic front and polar vortex.  I remember that the interviewer, who said he was ex-military, reeked of cigarette smoke.

I generally don’t like to be approached in public by fundraisers, because there is so much of this – unless I recognize the cause.  Just like, I don’t like telemarketing calls – who does.  And I don’t like to be interrupted with silly “deals” that I don’t need.

There’s more to say about this – it used to be honorable to sell for a living, but it seems like with the loss of manufacturing and other “real” jobs, we’re left with pimping out things,  including charity, to one another.  On that idea Donald Trump could be right.  I’ll come back to this soon.

(Posted: Sunday, March 19, 2019 at 11:30 AM EDT)

When chess opening books in print have variations refuted suddenly

This post may set up an argument I want to make about niche blogging v. news blogging later.

In the 1984 book “Play the French” by John L. Watson (1984, Pergammon Press) and Watson gives an unusual variation in the Winawer French as favorable for Black:

1 e4 e6 2, d4 d5 3, Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 Qd7!? 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6, bxc3 b6 7. Qg4 f5 8. Qg3 Ba6 9, Bxa6 Nxa6 10, Ne2  Nb8 11 Nf4 Nc6 12 Nxe6!? Qxe6 13 Qxg7 Qg6 14 QxRh8 OOO! (threaten to trap the W Queen) 15 Be3 Rd7 16. h4 h5 but now the ECO innovation 17 g4 by Shmidt is supposed to refute it.  The idea is to offer another pawn to draw the black Queen away from supporting trapping the queen, so White stays ahead by an exchange.  (Note White could have f4, f5, too).

(Posted: Sunday, March 12, 2017, 11:30 PM)

Credit union robbery and kidnapping in Florida borders on terrorism, challenging my own idea not to be negotiated for

There was a robbery attempt at a credit union in Jacksonville FL on Dec. 1, 2017 that does cross a line into terrorism that I talked about here, as to possible personal consequences, on Aug. 12, 2014.

The most straightforward story was on news 4 Jacksonville.

But a new report plays a video showing much of the incident.  It seems to show one employee being singled out as a hostage, and then three more (who may be customers or employees) later.

This is a particularly dangerous precedent, that as I said before, could set up the possibility of negotiation with terrorists in a civilian setting, in a place of business like a bank.  What comes to mind,, of course, is how the Pulse disco attack in Orlando turned out last June.

In this case, however, the motive for the incident is still unclear. Mental illness could be involved, but it is the mentally ill who are more easily recruited as lone wolves.

Consumers can reduce their risk by making trips to banks only when necessary, and by staying away from entrances and in the middle, with the rest of the crowd.  It’s best to do ATM withdrawals in the day time in locations with heavy foot traffic and police presence.  Many banks have tightened their security rules for consumer safe deposit access in recent months.

(Posted: Friday, March 10, 2017 at 7:15 PM EST)

Sweden reinstates conscription out of fear of new cold war with Russia; tie to my own books?

This story is in line with my coverage of US male-only conscription in Chapter 2 of my DADT-1 book and in Chapter 7 (“Fiction 1”) of DADT-III.

According to a detailed story on p. A7 of the New York Times today (by Martin Selsoe Sorensen), Friday, March 3, 2017, Sweden has reinstituted conscription, including women, out of fear of Russia and Vladimir Putin’s aggression

Finland also is not part of NATO (like Sweden) and would seem to be at even more risk.  There was a mysterious assassination in the Karelia area a few months ago.  That possibility fits in to my “Angel’s Brother” manuscript.

Sweden is also insisting that civilians have disaster resilience training, and learn to live 72 hours without utilities.

(Posted: Friday, March 3, 2017 t 2:15 PM EST)

One of the shortest master chess games ever

To open the new month (and let March come in like a lion), here is another “phantom menace” chess game, and one of the shortest ever in master play.  It’s Serov-Gorbunov, 1988, three years before the collapse of the Soviet Union

Here’s another gem, Firzhanov-Kirzanov, a 3-Nights Game, with multiple knight forks in the opening.  I think I saw this trap right after starting to play chess at GWU in the fall of 1964.

(Posted: Thursday, March 2, 2017 at 11 PM EST)

The Fall of Milo: and a curious repeat of an incident when I was substitute teaching

I wanted to make a note here about the recent “meltdown” of the “career” of provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos after a video that appeared (to some people ) to support pedophilia, made last July for a site called Drunken Peasants, was “rereleased” by his adversaries, leading to his disinvitation from speaking at a major conservative group and the cancellation of his book publication (he says he now has an offer from another publisher) and his resignation from Breitbart..

First, I’ll give a link to his own statement at his own press conference today.

But a couple points are relevant to my own narrative, and I hope Milo becomes aware of this (as if he finds this post).

The most significant is his previous contention that sometimes teenagers, below age of consent in some jurisdictions, seek “power” over older men by “tempting” them (almost in the sense of Biblical temptation) and then controlling them (maybe even by blackmail) when the older men give in.  This may happen both with heterosexual and homosexual contexts.  That was the point of my screenplay short “The Sub” which I discuss here March 6, 2014.  I had posted the screenplay text and treatment online in early 2005, and through a complicated set of events and improbable coincidences, led to my loss of my substitute teaching job in late 2005, as described there.  The incident never made “the media” then. But perhaps I am lucky, as local television stations are quick to announce unproven accusations sometimes. I embedded the short into a larger scripted called “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany” (previously, “Conscripted”) which is referenced in the March posting with a WordPress pingback.  I always felt that I had not heard the last of the incident, but I didn’t expect the same sort of incidents to come roaring back with the 2016 presidential election and now Breitbart’s editor.

It’s important to remember that I never “did” anything.  But I posted a fictitious scenario where I could reasonably be viewed as the older gay male protagonist (the “self-libel in fiction” problem). That could be viewed by some people as “inviting” an incident (something that legally becomes “The Implicit Content Problem”).  .

My bringing this up (and Milo’s, for that matter) does not defend or advocate the practice.  It does not advocate sex with minors.  It “merely” warns people that this does happen.

Milo also makes a point, with which I concur, that in practice physiological adulthood often may occur before the age of consent.  Yes, I know Dr. Phil’s contention that the brain is not fully mature until about age 25 (about the best year for a chess player, maybe).  Physiologically, girls may start to mature before age 12, and in the past very young marriages were legal.  I can remember (when subbing) that a ninth-grade English teacher had to explain that Juliet (in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”) would be legally underage in most states today.  As I recall, Scarlet O’Hara is 16 when Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind” starts.  Boys may start a little later (in early grades, boys trail girls by about 18 months but start to catch up at around age 12 or 13)  Boys may occasionally appear to have passed well into puberty as early as age 13, or maybe until age 21 or so.  With boys there is an extremely wide “normal” range of ages where adult appearance (secondary sexual characteristics) becomes evident.  There sometimes are racial differences (as with body hair).  All of this is fact.

The “age of consent” varies widely among countries and states within the United States.  It tends to be higher in the US than in Europe.  Higher age of consent reflects the idea that brain maturity is necessary to have the judgment to give informed consent to behavior that can have long term consequences in a complex but free society.  This compares to how things were a couple hundred years ago in agarian societies where early marriages were necessary in order to have enough children.  As Dr. Phil says, teenager “don’t see around corners”.  Often they don’t, at least until 17 or so.  An older person who feels attracted to a younger adult still perceives the person as an adult (if the person is mostly past puberty).   Milo is right about this.

There are issues where the public seems to demand emotional (and not just intellectual) solidarity.  Protection of minors is such an issue.  Look at the vigorous prosecution for possession of child pornography (which could be framed on the Internet) and at the way police (and groups like “Peej” on NBC’s “To Catch a Predator) set up stings to find adults trying to hook up with slightly underage minors online.  In some states, most notably California (also Wisconsin, Virginia, Arizona, and Wisconsin) the age of consent is still 18.  The degree of emotion demanded does not seem to correspond to the real danger.  The right term to use for what Milo talks about is probably ephebophilia, not pedophilia.  The 2003 Lionsgate/Lifetime film “Student Seduction” is particularly relevant (see comments near end of this link).

If there is a moral issue with the attitude implied by some of Milo’s statements, it is one of bad karma.  If too many people are obsessed with finding their lost youth in new sexual partners (even when these partners are legal adults), then marriages become unstable, and less attractive people have trouble finding mates at all.  This seems to be the real moral problem.  Call it the “Oscar Wilde Problem”, as the British writer noted the worst thing to lose was one’s youth.

There is also an implied bullying in Milo’s statements against some people (or members of some groups).  I do understand the attitude, to want to say “Man up, so I don’t have to deal with you personally as you are some day.”  I did grow up in a culture where the onus was on me to meet the expectations of others, because if I didn’t, someone else would have to take up the slack.  So I personally don’t go out of my way for solidarity with others merely because of past marginalization alone.

German Lopez explains “The Fall of Milo Yiannopoulos” here.

(Posted: Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 6:30 PM EST)

A phantom menace of a chess game

I went to the Oscar documentary shorts program at the West End Cinema in Washington DC Sunday (Media commentary blog), an as I entered the lobby, I saw a plastic chess board set up.

I set up a position  1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Nf3 Bg7 5 Qb3 dxc 6 Qxc4 00 7 e4 a6  (the Hungarian variation of the Russian system of the Grunfeld, Kaplan. game 7.12, B p 96).

When I came out of the movie 2-1/2 hours later I see someone had finished the game and Black had won a piece, at about move 20.

I can’t quite reconstruct it, but I’ll take credit for a win with Black.

Kaufman gives a trap 8 a4 ?! (8 Be2 is standard and much better) b5! 9 Qb3 c5! 10 dxc5 Be6 11 Qa3 b5! 12 Qxb4 Nc6 and Black follows with Rb8 and Rc3

(Posted: Monday: Feb. 13, 2017 at 2:30 PM EST)

Empathy shaving rituals: should one’s body become a bargaining chip?

I wanted to pass on an NBC News video from Jan 31 about body empathy, here.

The story concerns a high school principal who publicly shaved his head (or allowed it to be shaved) to show empathy with a student who had been bullied and whose grandfather might have terminal illness.

The video says “it doesn’t matter what you look like, it’s what’s inside”.

I’ve written before about “Be brave and shave” barbering benefits (like one at the Westover Market outdoors on the patio in Arlington VA a few years ago).

I’ve never felt that my own body should become a “bargaining chip” so that crosses a line with me. That’s true even given my own alopecia and, as aging man, bald legs.  I’ve never been cool with the idea of making anything that happens to someone OK – yet I understand at an intellectual level that this bears on collective resilience.

On p. 29 of the DADT-1 book, I mention the “Tribunals” hazing ritual at the College of William and Mary in the fall of 1961 – now more than a half century ago.  It was to happen the last Friday night in September in the basement of one of the dorms.  “They” would shave the freshman boys’ legs, under the urban legend that for one of them, it would never grow back.  There was a Spartan idea that ritual body shaming anchored male fungibility and willingness to play warrior for the group, and codify social ideals of male performance (in intercourse) later in life.  This ritual made more “sense” in those days, before swimming and cycling had become popular individual sports.

We would see this kind of idea surface in Season 1 of the Apprentice when Troy McClain “took one for the team” and allowed his legs to be waxed on camera.  Donald Trump mentions that in his book “How to Get Rich” but it’s never been mentioned in the campaign or during the early days of his presidency. There is always a first time.

Someone on Facebook recently sent a picture of someone with neurofribromatosis, and challenged all the friends to send the person a birthday greeting, and then complained when no one would, over the putative lookism issue.  I’m not sure that the word of this is. It’s a kind of pimping of affection.

(Posted: Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at 12 Noon EST)

More details about how my William and Mary expulsion in 1961 unfolded

I just wanted to add a little detail to the narrative of this Jan. 10, 2014 chronology of my fall semester 1961 as a freshman at William and Mary.

On p. 6 of the DADT 1 book, it says that I met up with my parents at Rogers Hall.  I think actually I was standing on the corner of Duke of Gloucester and Richmond Road, as my parents’ Galaxie, my father driving and Mother in the front seat, swung around.  In those days you could drive on Gloucester.  I think we parked at what was then called Rogers.

I don’t have any proof of my parents’ movements that Thanksgiving weekend, so what I report is the best of my recollection from what my parents told me then.

I believe that my parents would have gotten the call from the Dean from an operator at the Scotts’s house in Charlotte, NC around 8:15 PM or so.  They were probably watching television on the living room, or they could have been playing cards (my parents liked to do that). My father probably took the call, and probably didn’t tell Mother about it until they went to bed.

As far as I know from what my father said, they had stayed in Charlotte for the weekend.  Father wanted to go to a particular church service (a little odd for a Thanksgiving weekend ending) Sunday before returning.  My parents must have suspected that some sort of existential issue was at hand.  After all, I was an only child.  If I was gay, I probably would never give them grandchildren, and the family lineage from their marriage would die out.  I think that was what they believed but wouldn’t say.

They would have had a quiet drive back to Williamsburg, a lot of it along US 52, through South Boston, VA, in a time before there were a lot of interstates.

Nevertheless, they would stay together for 25 more years, as my father would pass away from prostate cancer on January 1. 1986, being ill for only a short time (he could not tolerate being a “burden”), but my mother would live until December 14, 2010, having a long decline in the last three years.

(Posted: Friday, January 20, 2017 at 8 PM EST)

A repository of footnotes for my DADT books and other stuff