Friday, September 29, 2006

Time or Money?

While driving today, I heard a talk show host blithely assert that working forty hour weeks was for "losers". He went on to state that all the "successful" people he knew regularly worked many more hours than that. These comments were made indirectly in relation to saving for one's retirement. As a conservative, he lamented the idea of the government doing anything to help people in their old age.

He and I obviously have a very different view of what success is. Yes, spending every available waking hour possible devoted to one's job will most likely make a person end up with more money available for both spending and saving.

But at what cost? People can get so caught up in making a living that they forget how to live. This man obviously didn't consider that most people are not working at fulfilling, inspiring careers -- most of us have jobs that we tolerate, if we're lucky, that are merely a means to an end. And all the ambition in the world won't make fulfulling careers available to everyone who will just work hard enough for it. Someone has to flip the burgers, carry the bags, drive the buses, and so on.

It's more than a little insensitive to suggest that these people and others in less than rewarding jobs spend even more time doing them, to the neglect of the things in life that really matter to most people: our families, friends, lovers, spouses, and hobbies.

We only live once and we have to live in the now; not spend our active, productive years focused solely on our retirements -- we don't even know if we'll live that long.

He went on to describe the retirements of such "losers" who thought that working 40 hours a week was sufficient -- condemned to the horrors of living in a double-wide trailer!

Well, I think that's a fair trade-off for having actually fully lived and enjoyed my life during my prime years, instead of spending every possible moment working. Indeed, what of the workaholic who drops dead from overwork before he can even enjoy the fruits of his labor in retirement? Who is the "loser" here?

Time is just as valuable a commodity as money; even more so, in my book. Having less money but having had a full life is a fair exchange, I'm thinking.
After all, no one ever says they wished they'd spent more time at the office when they're on their deathbeds.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Health Insurance, Marriage, and Employment

An online friend suggested to me that I should get married to my current primary lover, simply so that I could be put on her health insurance. This lover has also made this suggestion a few times herself, but hasn't pressed the issue, knowing how I feel about the institution of marriage.

I thought about it very briefly, but just as quckly dismissed the idea. I'd told her if I ever decided to do that, that I would not live with her and that I'd continue my libertine lifestyle unhindered; that would be non-negotiable. I also stressed that I would not consider having children; that I'd been there and done that already.

She agreed to all of this -- all too quickly. For those of you who don't know, she is precisely half my age, having turned 24 last month. I've lived twice as long as she has and I've been through countless lovers. And I know that one day, she'll want a man who will settle down with her to raise children. I'm fully aware that my time with her is of a limited nature and that we don't have a future. Even if I wanted to settle down, I know that she won't want to be tied down to an old man by the time she reaches my age. So, for her sake as much as my own, I told her no.

I might have considered this option a bit more seriously with an older lover; someone who has been around enough to know what she wants, who is at the "been there, done that" phase when it comes to having children, and would know exactly what she'd be getting into by agreeing to my stipulations.

Still, though, I think it's a piss poor reason for getting married, even though I have no doubt that some people do get married for this reason. Even though I take a dim view of marriage, I think those who get married ought to do so because they want to be with the other person and not merely for impersonal, practical reasons. Of course, if this country had universal health coverage that wasn't tied to a person's employment, then this entire conversation would be a moot point.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Downwardly Mobile

I was brought up in a comfortable, upwardly-mobile middle class family. My father worked for one of the top oil corporations and my mother was a stay at home mother by choice.

My parents both grew up in the Depression, but their childhoods were quite dissimilar largely because of class differences. My father grew up in the Deep South as part of a semi-itinerant tenant farmer family, which was just one small step above being a sharecropper. They never owned their own home, nor did they ever have a car. He was the oldest of eight children and the only one to graduate from high school and to later get a college degree. Though uneducated themselves, my grandparents recognized both the value of an education and my father's intelligence, and he partially owed his later success to their believing in him. But even though my grandparents were able to make the sacrifice to allow him to finish high school, he wasn't able to participate in any extracurricular activies, nor did he have many possessions growing up.

My mother had it quite a bit easier during the Depression than my father did. She lived in an industrial northern state, and though her family was technically working class, my grandfather was a skilled worker, a welder. Like my mother would be after her, my grandmother was a stay at home mother. Because his skills were always in demand, my grandfather was always employed, and my grandparents owned their own home and had a car. My mother and her siblings all were able to participate in extracurricular activies: piano lessions, dance lessons, Girl Scouts, and the like. Though my maternal grandparents were readers, they had a more laissez-faire attitude toward formal education, and they allowed my mother to quit school before she graduated from high school.

While I was growing up, my parents decidedly different childhoods would sometimes show in small ways in their approach to life. During their marriage, my father was a bit of a tightwad, while my mother was more relaxed in her approach to spending money. This was quite understandable considering how each of them grew up. As he got older however, my father loosened up in a big way about money, realizing after my mother had died that you can't take it with you.

Both my parents valued education; my father having been able to escape a life of poverty because of it and my mother spent her adulthood self-educating herself, regretting her decision as a teen to quit school. Our home was always full of books and magazines, and new books always appeared under the Christmas tree, on birthdays, and on other occasions. Politics and current events were always topics of conversation at the dinner table, so I was exposed to the world of ideas and critical thinking from a young age. Life was never just about mere survival or the mundane details of everyday life.

Despite their differences, both parents did better than their own parents did; they were upwardly mobile. I cannot say the same.

I once read that mine is the first generation to not do better than their parents in large numbers. Of course, my parents were what Tom Brokaw dubbed "The Greatest Generation"; those coming of age during World War II, and who got to spend their most productive adult years in the economically upwardly mobile Postwar era of the fifties and sixties. My generation, on the other hand, has seen more than its share of recessions, downsizing, and the like.

And part of it is my own damn fault for not finishing college. Unlike my father's era, where a bright young man could get ahead by alternate means if he didn't have a degree, nowadays, more and more professions and many times, just "jobs", require that piece of paper to even gain an interview. However, like my mother, I am extensively self-educated. I am in good company; Harry Truman, one of our better presidents, never got a formal university degree, though he was in no way uneducated.

I've spent my working life employed in working class or unskilled labor jobs, despite my obvious intelligence and aptitude. Unless a person like me "knows someone" who can get you in the back door of a job with a future, I will always lose out to the person with half my intelligence who has that piece of paper, and be relegated to dead end jobs.

Despite having spent most of my adult life working with those who usually are not downwardly mobile -- they're mostly people who were brought up working class -- I still retain my middle class outlook and worldview. I may be financially working class now, but I'm psychologically middle class.

And I think this is much of the source of why I'm so unhappy in my jobs; I usually feel like an alien from another planet on jobs that I've had over the years. One thing I've noticed about many people who have always been working class is that they many times have a resigned acceptance to whatever conditions exist on the job; they don't want to rock the boat and risk losing their jobs, no matter how bad the conditions may be. "You're just lucky to have a jooooooooooob" is a common response when I mention bad conditions on a job, as if unquestioningly accepting bad conditions is an unchangeable condition of being employed.

My average coworker is generally not one who engages in much critical thinking or consideration of ideas; they are mainly very practical, concrete thinkers, little concerned with matters beyond the mundane details of day to day life. It makes for a very long workday when I have to confine my conversation to such matters.

Now and then in my various jobs over the years, I've seen other downwardly mobile people like me and they've all shared that "alien from another planet" feeling about these jobs.

This entry has gone on much longer than I originally intended, but I'll conclude by saying that society needs to again return to the idea of many paths to success, rather than the "no paper -- no future" system we have now. Though some professions will always properly require higher formal education, so many others should not.


Monday, September 25, 2006


The word of the day is:


1. the power or right to decide or act according to one's own judgment; freedom of judgment or choice: It is entirely within my discretion whether I will go or stay.
2. the quality of being discreet, esp. with reference to one's own actions or speech; prudence or decorum: Throwing all discretion to the winds, he blurted out the truth.
3. at discretion, at one's option or pleasure: They were allowed to work overtime at discretion

Discretion has been a big part of my life, both in my previous work in law enforcement and in my life as a libertine, which I'll elaborate on shortly.

Using discretion involves relative morality; things are not viewed in simple black and white, right and wrong terms. Rather, one must think, weigh, and consider in order to come up with the appropriate course of action in any given instance. Human beings are complex and matters involving their actions can rarely be accurately boiled down to a set of strict, unwavering rules.

In law enforcement, discretion is honed to a fine art as officers gain experience in dealing with the general public. One of the surest ways to spot a rookie cop is observing how closely they adhere to the letter of the law, even in the most petty of situations. Not yet sure of themselves and their ability to judge situations, rookies naturally depend heavily, and many times solely, on strict interpretation of the law in their job to protect and serve. "Rules are rules" could be the motto for a cop in his or her first year on the job.

But as an officer gains experience in dealing with some of the same situations again and again, they learn to use discretion in enforcing the law, in areas where they are legally allowed wiggle room to exercise their own judgement. One gains a certain knack in reading people which assists in handling the situation. Traffic law enforcement is typically an area where officers are legally allowed a good bit of discretion.

In my personal life, discretion is essential to smoothly managing several sexual partners. I conduct some of my relationships quite openly, often being seen in public with such lovers. With others, the relationships are more private, because of their relationships with other people; intimate, platonic, familial, and professional. In this arena, discretion is closely related to trust and privacy. All my lovers trust me to be discreet to whatever degree necessary.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

What Really Matters

This is a photograph of Earth taken by one of the Apollo astronauts while in transit to the Moon.

Earth is the only planet in the solar system capable of supporting life, human and otherwise, without artificial aid. Our solar system is part of the Orion Arm, a minor spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy, which is far from the galactic center. Though I'm certain there are other Earthlike planets capable of supporting human life in other planetary systems in our galaxy and in other countless galaxies, such planets are many light years away from us. They are effectively unreachable at our current level of technology and of that for many years to come.

Planets capable of supporting life are a rare thing in our universe, and ours is suffering from years of pollution as indicated by global warming.

It is the birthplace and home of humanity; of every human being that has ever lived until the present time. We are all in the same boat together: Americans and Iraqis, liberals and conservatives, terrorists and pacifists, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Atheists, black, white and asian, men and women, and every other category of human on Earth.

Viewed in this way, all the petty things that divide us and seem to matter so much to us in our short lives on this planet don't really amount to hill of beans in the long run. The sooner we all learn we're all in this together and cooperate to save our planet from destruction and stop concentrating on the minuscule things that divide us, the better off we'll be.

Before anything else, we are all citizens of Earth first.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Learning For Its Own Sake

Yesterday, I read an entry at Paula Reed's blog about students cheating in various ways to get better grades, and the nervy parents who actually try to get their kids out of trouble for doing so.

In my reply to her, I noted that most people in our society do not value learning for its own sake. Education for them is all about grades, which are merely a means to an end; a "piece of paper" that will allow them access to more education, which leads to another piece of paper that will get them a job making good money. There's nothing wrong with wanting a good job, but education should be more than a merely utilitarian thing.

Many people do not read for the pleasure of learning something new and, fairly often, not even for entertainment. They view reading as work, and only do so for practical reasons. I think this is a sad thing. I've been to homes where there is no reading matter whatsoever: no books, no magazines, no newspapers. To me a house is not a home without books; a bookless home is a bleak place.

I've been able to read since I've been four years old and I've been reading ever since, to learn new things and for entertainment. Learning has been a lifelong process for me, and I expect to keep on expanding my mind until I die.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Faiths of the Founding Fathers

The Faiths of the Founding Fathers

David L. Holmes

Date: 2006-05-01 — Book

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Review of The Faiths of the Founding Fathers

This book is a balanced look at the religious views of the Founding Fathers (and Mothers) of the USA. It takes the view that while the founders clearly intended the separation of church and state, they were not all of one mind about religion in their private lives. The author roughly groups them in several categories: non-Christian Deists, Christian Deists, Unitarians, and Orthodox Christians of varying degrees of liberality/conservatism.

The first chapter is an overview of the religious climate in the American colonies in 1770, and shows how some denominations differed in belief and practice form these same denominations today. Next, he covers the Anglican tradition, focusing on how this was a common factor in the upbringing of the founders from Virginia.

The next two chapters deal with Deism, the first being an overview of this philosophy and its relationship to the Enlightenment. The second covers the varying degrees of influence Deism had on the founding fathers.

The next six chapters cover the religious backgrounds and later beliefs and practices of several founders: Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe, none of whom could be categorized as orthodox Christians.

The eleventh chapter covers the religious beliefs of women close to the founding fathers: Martha Washington, Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis, Abigail Adams, Martha Jefferson, Martha Jefferson Randolph, Maria Jefferson Eppes, and Dolley Madison. This chapter also discusses why Deism was less common among women during this time and why orthodox religion may have been more appealing to most women.

In the twelve chapter, there is a guide on how to distinguish a Deist from an orthodox Christian when reading material about people from this time period.

Chapter thirteen covers the religious beliefs of three prominent orthodox Christians of the time: Samuel Adams, Elias Boudinot, and John Jay, comparing and contrasting them with the founders mentioned above.

The book concludes with thumbnail sketches of the religious backgrounds and beliefs of Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush senior, Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and George Bush junior.

I enjoyed this book immensely, subtracting a star only because the book could have gone into more detail.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Comments on Quotes

"There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action."
-Johann von Goethe

And the Bush Administration is a prime example of that.

There are more fools in the world than there are people.
-Heinrich Heine

This reminds me of something my father always said: "There are more horse's asses in the world than there are horses".

"Life without liberty is like a body without spirit."
-Kahlil Gibran

A golden cage is still a cage.

"He who joyfully marches in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice."
-Albert Einstein

Our ability to think original thoughts is what separates humans from the lower animals. No point it letting it go to waste.

You don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note.
-Doug Floyd

Nor do all the pieces of a puzzle need to be all the same size, shape, and color in order to complete the picture.

If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good.
-Thomas J. Watson

A hero dies but once. A coward dies a small death every day.

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.
-e. e. (Edward Estlin) cummings

I can attest to the truth of this through experience.

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
-Friedrich Nietzsche


It is the individual only who is timeless. Societies, cultures, and civilizations -- past and present -- are often incomprehensible to outsiders, but the individual's hungers, anxieties, dreams, and preoccupations have remained unchanged through the millenia.
-Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition (Aphorism 183), 1973

One reason why I like to learn history by reading diaries of common people from any given era.

I don't think necessity is the mother of invention. Invention . . . arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness. To save oneself trouble.
-Agatha Christie, An Autobiography, 1977

Lazy people with good ideas will find better ways of doing things. Why do it the hard way if there's an easier way available?

"There is a vast world of work out there in this country, where at least 111 million people are employed in this country alone--many of whom are bored out of their minds. All day long. Not for nothing is their motto TGIF -- 'Thank God It's Friday.' They live for the weekends, when they can go do what they really want to do."
-Richard Nelson Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute?, 1970

Work to live, don't live to work.

"Men for the sake of getting a living forget to live."
-Margaret Fuller

Don't base your identity on what you do to make a living.

Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with a cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.
-Mark Twain, Notebook (1884 entry)

Amen to that!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Justifiable Homicide?

Yesterday, I posted my entry, "Friends", both here and at EFX. This entry generated a fair amount of comments on each site. One comment I got on EFX disturbed me enough to devote a follow-up entry to what he said.

I originally said:

...some of these guys, knowing my penchant for tomcatting, didn't want me around once they got married, for fear I'd seduce their wives. Smart men, as that's exactly what I'd do given the opportunity -- and did several times.

His reply in reference to this:

I'd be a little careful about seducing a friends(sic) wife though. Here's honesty for you; if it were me and my wife, and I found out or worse caught you, I'd shoot you first and her second!

This level of overreaction both baffles me, and it aptly illustrates just how evil and corrosive an emotion jealousy is. I can understand he'd not be happy with the situation, as not everyone is like me, but to resort to murder? Is this something worth throwing one's entire life away over?

I find the idea that one person can so completely own another person, sexually and otherwise, that murder seems like an appropriate remedy for a "property violation" to be repulsive beyond belief. I believe that every person belongs entirely to themselves, and it's completely up to them if they choose to voluntarily restrict their own freedom, as in a monogamous relationship. Doing so never means that person has ceded ownership of themselves in any way to their spouses, however.

I've heard of a few murder trials where the husband killed an straying spouse and/or her lover where the judge publicly commiserated with the defendant husband, actually apologizing for having to enforce the law, admitting they'd do the same thing under the same circumstances! I've also heard of such cases being thrown out of court as "justifiable homicide".

This just boggles my mind. There's no excuse or justification for such murders. There are several possible options for appropriate remedies in such a situation, some practical, some legal: acceptance, separation, divorce, counseling, to name a few. All of these recognize the truth, that, even in marriage, each person still owns their own body and what they do with it.

As for the lover in such a situation, it's not up to me to police another person's marriage for them. If they're willing and I'm willing, it's on them if they break their contract; I'm certainly not going to say no if it's offered. I'm not forcing anyone to do anything. This may be an amoral viewpoint, but so be it.

(Goes to put on asbestos underwear).

Saturday, September 16, 2006


I'm not a backslapping, "one of the guys" type. I can't say that I have any friends of my own sex with whom I hang out or do things with. I had friends when I was growing up like most people do, but once I reached adulthood, I drifted away from hanging out with other guys.

I'm guessing there are several reasons for this. As my friends all got married and domesticated, one by one, I no longer fit into their lives. When some of their new wives tried to fix me up with their single friends, to try to get me to hop on the monogamy bandwagon, I'd drift away of my own accord.

And, of course, some of these guys, knowing my penchant for tomcatting, didn't want me around once they got married, for fear I'd seduce their wives. Smart men, as that's exactly what I'd do given the opportunity -- and did several times. My loyalties were and always have been to my own desires, first and foremost.

Another reason is that it bores the hell out of me to be around a bunch of guys talking about sports. I can understand watching a ball game now and then, but I've never been a fanatic about it. I'd rather have a root canal than listen to someone go on and on analyzing a ball game down to the petty minutiae.

Despite the fact that I enjoy the company of others, especially the romantic attention of women, I'm still at base a very private person, and treasure my time to myself. My home is a haven from the world, where I go to get away from others to recharge and refresh. I sometimes spend the night with a lover, but I have no desire for a daily, domestic relationship with anyone. I enjoy the freedom to come and go as I please, beholden to no one.

Oddly enough, my nonsexual friendships are all online. I've made quite a few blogging friends at several sites, and there are several people that I chat with on a regular basis on Instant Messenger. I immensely enjoy chatting with various people about everything under the sun -- it's like a huge online bull session at times. The internet is a perfect venue for such friendships; I can find people to talk to 24 hours a day.

I'm satisfied with it -- lovers in real life, platonic friends online.


Friday, September 15, 2006

S is For Silence (Book Review)

S is for Silence (Kinsey Millhone Mysteries)

Sue Grafton

Date: 2005-12-06 — 16.98 — Book

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Review of S is for Silence (Kinsey Millhone Mysteries)

I found this book on a lover's nightstand and took it home, as I'd not read a mystery in a good while.

This book is part of a series of mysteries all titled with letters of the alphabet, featuring thirty-something PI Kinsey Millhone. Though the series contains progressive elements from one book to the next, each book can also read comfortably as a stand-alone.

In this book, Kinsey is hired by a woman whose mother had disappeared over thirty years previously, when the woman was seven years old. The case had never been solved by police and the woman wanted closure; to find out whether her mother had deserted her family or had met with foul play.

The missing woman, Violet Sullivan, was a free-spirited libertine living with her abusive husband and daughter in 1950s small-town California, when she disappeared on Independence Day, 1953. The chapters alternate between the book's current setting in 1987 and 1953; from Kinsey's perspective and that of various key people who knew Violet at the time of her disappearance. The transition between time periods is smooth and the reader learns pertinent details from 1953 before Kinsey discovers them in 1987. We hear from Violet's husband, her lovers, the teenage girl who babysits for Violet's daughter, along with others in the community, each adding pieces to the puzzle.

The book is fast paced and I finished it overnight; a definite page-turner. We find out Violet's fate well before the end and the rest of the book is devoted to discovering how it came to be. It kept me guessing until the very end, as I considered several suspects, none of whom turned out to be the right one.

Good book. I intend to read more by this author.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Making People Think

The other day, I posted an entry about my periodic bouts with writer's block. One person commented, making a reference to my "self-imposed obligation to entertain".

This response stuck in my craw as the main goal of this blog isn't to "entertain" people.

Though I write about a wide variety of topics, some of them which are indeed entertaining, this blog's raison d'etre is to make people see things in a new light; I want to make people think. As my blog's subtitle indicates, my goal is to get people to consider things in ways they might not have before -- to think outside the box, to color outside the lines.

I especially like writing about controversial topics, about supposedly inviolate sacred cows. I enjoy the lively exchange of comments that usually follows such an entry -- I know I've done my job if I've struck a nerve.

I don't expect people to always end up agreeing with me, far from it. It is enough to expose people to unconventional ways of thinking about things and to have them entertain such thoughts, regardless of the conclusions they ultimately draw.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Having Children?

While talking with a friend on IM the other night, she mentioned that she'd had a conversation with another woman who was hesistant to date a particular man in his 40s because he was childless. Her hesistation stemmed from her belief that anyone who did not have children by a certain age had something mentally "wrong" with them.

Oh, where to start? There are so many ways to shoot this woman down in flames.

For one thing, with rampant child abuse all over the planet, the world would be a lot better off if many people did not have children. For most people, whether or not they want to have children isn't something they give a lot of careful thought to. It's almost an automatic thing; you grow up and get married, and you naturally have children. I don't know a whole lot of people who search their souls or examine themselves to discover their actual desires on the matter or whether they've even got the aptitude to be good parents.

Indeed, many people give more thought as to what kind of a house or a car they want to buy, or what career they'll work at, than whether or not parenthood is right for them. Parenthood is usually more of a default status, and less one that is actively chosen when not having children is seen as an equally valid option.

However, many people manage to do well as parents and love their children, even when having children is more of a default thing rather than an active choice.

Nevertheless, the human race is in no danger of extinction any time soon; rather, we have the opposite problem. In light of this and the other things I've mentioned, to say that someone is mentally warped and maladjusted for choosing not to have children is shortsighted at best, not to mention naive and arrogant.

There are many reasons why people choose not to have children: knowing one's limitations for the job of raising children, be it one of aptitiude, temperament, or resources, lack of interest, devoting one's life to something else that wouldn't fit well with the responsibilities of parenthood, and so on.

Like the old saying goes, "One can love and appreciate music without feeling the need to learn to play all the instruments in the orchestra". The same is true of children.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Name of the Dame

One custom in our society that I've always found very strange is that of women changing their surnames when they get married. Especially now, when women do not have to be dependent upon men for their very survival, this custom seems especially odd and anachronistic.

The notion of a woman assuming my last name has always made me feel uncomfortable. It seems like a codependent thing to do and it's too much of an enmeshment for my taste, particularly when they use the "Mrs John Doe" form, which is just plain creepy in my book. "Mrs John Doe" seems to have no life or identity of her own, apart from that of her husband; the ultimate codependent.

I've heard women say that they are "proud" to take their husband's name; that it proves their love for him. Using this logic, then, married men apparently do not love their wives, because they don't take her name. At any rate, this symbolically gets the marriage off to a lopsided start.

Other women say they love the idea of everyone in the family having the same name; that this unites them all. Maybe so, but this shouldn't come at the expense of one person having to give up their own name. I know I surely wouldn't want to make that sacrifice. We must also consider that it's not an uncommon thing today for children to have a different last name from their mother when she remarries after a divorce or widowhood, and no one seems to have a problem with family members having different surnames then.

As for myself, the thought of giving up my surname is tantamount to saying that I don't matter, my life history doesn't matter, my family doesn't matter, and my heritage doesn't matter. I don't see why it should be any different for women.

If I were the marrying type, my love for the woman would make it so that I couldn't in all conscience expect her to do something that I would not do; that I'd find repugnant to do.


Monday, September 11, 2006

Low Morale

I hate my job; I get depressed just thinking about having to go in there. The longer I work there, the more I grow to hate it.

On one level, I hate it for practical, everyday reasons: I've worked there for a year and three quarters with no vacation. And there will be no vacations, ever, as long as I work there. I could take some days off if I wanted to, but they'd be UNPAID days. I don't get paid enough to take more than an extra day without it having a major adverse influence on my finances. In the past, on previous shitty jobs, periodic week-long vacations were a boon, giving me a much-needed respite, which kept me from totally burning out.

My job also has no paid sick days, and they give you a hard time if you ever have to be out for any reason. I want to tell these people to get a grip: we're not saving lives here; we're helping people get fat. They need to keep it in perspective.

There's also no health insurance offered, which is something I find more important the older I get.

But beyond all these practical reasons for hating my job, there's also the matter of morale; in my case, the familiar gripe of feeling like a square peg in a round hole. In every job I've ever had, I've always worked with people very different from me; intellectually, personality-wise, their entire way of looking at the world. To those who are familiar with the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, I've spent my entire working life as an NT in a sea of SJs.

For one thing, they never talk about anything other than everyday, mundane matters: what's on TV, sports, popular music, gossipping about other people, and the like. They never talk about ideas, or anything far from the lowest common denominator, unless you count fundamentalist Christianity under "ideas", which is stretching it to the breaking point, in my view.

As with other jobs I've had, I have to keep most of myself to myself, because to share my ideas would be greeted by a huh? expression and the audible whooshing sound of it going over their heads. It's an annoying thing to have to spend so many hours per day with people with whom I cannot have anything approaching a meaningful conversation with.

I know I need to get out of there, but with my lack of paperwork credentials proving my intelligence and potential, the next job I get will likely have this same type of morale problem all over again.

Ok, I'm done whining. It felt good to vent a little bit. Thanks for listening.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Star Trek: the 40th Anniversary

Forty years ago this month, Star Trek premiered on TV. I don't know if I was watching when the first episode aired on September 8, 1966, but if not, it wasn't long thereafter, and I've been a fan ever since.

Gene Roddenberry gave us an optimistic future; where poverty and hunger had been conquered, where everyone had equal opportunities, and where humans had united as a species to explore the limitless universe. Within the boundaries that the network set for him (he'd orignally planned on a female first officer), Star Trek gave us something to look forward to in the future.

Though the original Trek looks cheesy now compared to current TV technology, some of the fictional technology from the show has come to pass. Laser surgery is a reality and our cell phones look amazingly like Kirk's handheld communicator, to give two examples.

I was attracted to Star Trek as a kid because I was interested in the space program, avidly watching every Gemini launch on TV. And, naturally, Kirk conquering the "alien woman of the week" on each show, was quite inspiring for the budding libertine I was soon to be! Star Trek had it all -- science and sexy woman. What more could anyone want?

After the show ended, I watched it in reruns for ten years, until the first movie in 1979. After seeing subsequent movies, I was happy when Star Trek: the Next Generation premiered in 1987, and even happier when Deep Space Nine came along in 1993. To this day DS9 remains my favorite of the Treks. I also enjoyed Voyager (Seven of Nine!) and Enterprise, and was unhappy when Enterprise was cancelled before making its full run. Most of my life has had Star Trek in it in some form; I can only hope that a new Trek show will soon be seen on the airwaves.


Thursday, September 7, 2006

Family Courts vs. Non-Custodial Parents

Once again, the radio has proven to be a source of blogging material for me. The other night I was listening to the Rollye James show and she was talking about horror stories in reference to non-custodial parents dealing with the Family Court system. Please bear in mind that I didn't get to hear the entire show and I encountered it already in progress, so any inaccuracies that follow are because of this.

One fact I found rather chilling is that divorcing parents may not make private arrangments as to child support and visitation, no matter how amicable the breakup and willingness of both parents to cooperate. State involvement is mandatory, as support and visitation are determined by a judge when hearing the divorce case. Child support is not paid directly to the custodial parent; one must pay to the state, who then distributes it to the custodial parent.

I'm guessing that never-married parents may be able to slip under this radar as long as their private arrangements remain voluntary and amicable, but if there's any sort of dispute whatsoever, then they, too, get sucked into the state system, who will make the decisions from then on.

In some states, the amount of support the non-custodial parent must pay bears no relation to their actual income or ability to pay, however willing they may be. In such cases, even a non-custodial parent who wants to pay child support, but within their practical means, inevitably becomes deliquent and is grouped with and punished along with the truly deadbeat parents.

Rollye mentioned some of the punishments meted out to those who are deliquent in their payments; focusing on states that revoke a non-custodial parent's driver's license and/or put them in jail.

Such laws in no way fit the crime, nor help the children that child support was intended to benefit. In most places in the US, if a person cannot drive, they cannot get to work. So, losing one's license = losing one's job. The same is true about going to jail.

Maybe I'm dense, but I don't see how causing the non-custodial parent to lose their job and making it almost impossible to find another job benefits their children in any way. To pay child support, a parent needs to be MAKING MONEY.

When I was divorced, and got custody of my son by default, there was no visitation and no child support. It worked for me and I was able to do this without government interference. In many other families, people are able to make their own arrangements amicably enough for support and visitation. For families who aren't able to do that, the Family Court needs to devise more common sense rules where the focus is on the child and their best interests, rather than punishing the noncomplying parent with laws that hamper their ability to comply.

Rollye also told a particularly horrific story involving unmarried parents that I wish was an urban legend. This case involved a woman, a nurse or a doctor, who had performed oral sex on a man at the doctor's office. The woman saved the used condom (who has oral sex with a condom on, anyway?) and inseminated herself with the contents and had a baby without the man's knowledge. Two years later, she decides she wants child support, and, amazingly, the court rules in her favor and the man, who never even penetrated her, must pay child support. Unbelievable.

I don't have any practical solutions to this mess, but the Family Court system is "broken", to use Rollye's words, and is in need of a major overhaul.


Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Hedonist or Libertine?

A few days ago, Lovertine Lady, posed the following question on my "Libertine FAQ" post:

Do you believe that libertinism and hedonism is the same thing? Is it just a matter of semantics? I had a slight problem agreeing that the two were the same thing, looking at hedonism as a far extreme. Thoughts?

My short reply to her was:

Hedonism is similar to libertinism, but not exactly the same. Hedonism covers a wider range of behaviors than simply sex: eating, drinking, drugging, gambling, and so on. Libertinism is generally understood just to apply to sexual hedonism.

I thought about this a bit more since making this reply. I am a libertine when it comes to sex, but I'm most assuredly not an across the board hedonist. I don't do everything to what some would consider excess. I am neither a gourmand nor a glutton, though I enjoy a good meal, like anyone else. I went through a stage of drunken partying in college, but that lasted no more than two or three years, and even then, I never drank hard liquor. I've not had a drink in years, nor do I want to. I've never taken any kind of drugs, as I prefer to remain in control and want to do nothing that could possibly interfere with my virility. I consider gambling, beyond buying an occasional lottery ticket, to be a waste of time -- I have a perfectly good toilet at home to flush my money down if I ever get the urge to throw away my hard earned dollars.

Thinking a bit more, I mused over the emotional overreactions that many people have about obesity and fat people in general. Instead of simply stating rationally that it would be a good idea for people to eat right and engage in moderate exercise for their health, I regularly see people referring to "lazy slobs who never get off the couch" in the same tones one would use to talk about people who beat their small children. Their level of disgust has always baffled me.

But after considering the idea of hedonism, I realized that fatness represents excess, a sort of a "food libertinism", to many people, regardless of whether or not the fat person in question is actually engaging in compulsive overeating. Having too much of a good time, whether it's with sex, food, or whatever, offends the moral sensibilities of many people in our culture, heavy with Puritan and Calvinist roots. Subconsciously, the overreaction many people have to overweight is no doubt actually a visceral revulsion of hedonism, or the implication of it, rather than overweight, per se.


Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Trust in Intimate Relationships

Tonight, I turned the radio dial again, looking for some blogging fodder. And I wasn't disappointed, either.

I turned to the Delilah show, as she was taking a request from a male caller. He'd been dumped by his girlfriend and wanted a song played to persuade her to come back to him.

When Delilah asked him what he'd done to be dumped, he told her that his girlfriend had been using his computer and had been going through the history file, where she found a picture of another woman. This picture wasn't anyone he knew personally; it was from a website and had been sent to him by a friend through email. It wasn't even a pornographic picture; it was "PG" in the caller's words. He said he was very sorry for what he'd done and wanted to get the chance to apologize to her and make it up to her!

Delilah said she'd done stuff like that, too; and had even gone through men's wallets and cell phones.


For one thing, is this man the biggest wimp who ever walked the planet or what? It is the woman who should be apologizing to him for not trusting him and for invading his privacy. Her snooping and jealous overreaction was totally uncalled for.

As for Delilah and other women like her, I'd not tolerate such deceitful behavior from a lover. Invading my privacy and spying on me behind my back is a complete relationship breaker for me.
A relationship not built on trust is no relationship at all. If a woman wants to know something about me, all she needs to do is come to me directly and ask. I tell my lovers right up front that I see others; they don't need to go through my wallet to find that out. I've never put up with jealous women and I'm not about to start now.


Monday, September 4, 2006

Single Mothers of Sons

While, flipping through radio stations tonight in the car, I paused on a station where Focus on the Family's James Dobson was talking about raising boys.

Just before I was about to move on to the next station, I heard him say that single mothers are incapable of teaching a boy how to be a man.

Incapable? I think not.

For one thing, there's no "how" about growing up to be a man (or a woman, for that matter). You are born male (or female) and if you live long enough, you grow up to be a man (or woman). Pretty simple, I would think.

While a mother cannot share anecdotes on the experience of being a man in our society, women are quite capable of teaching both boys and girls how to be decent human beings; to teach character that is the same for both sexes.

After turning the station, I got to thinking of successful men who had been raised by strong women with absent or uninvolved fathers or men whose main influence had been their mothers. And I came up with a long list of Presidents: Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and that's just off the top of my head.

While having a good father is no doubt an asset for both boys and girls, as I can readily attest from my own experience, a boy raised by his mother alone does not necessarily suffer from a deficit in parenting. Most single mothers do a damn fine job raising their children despite whatever odds they face.

Dobson needs to focus on his own damned family for a change.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

It's About Time

NASA has announced that the 25 year old Space Shuttle program will come to an end in 2010, after the completion of the International Space Station.

The shuttle program will be replaced by the new Orion spacecraft, an Apollo-type capsule which will be built by Lockheed Martin. This spacecraft, while similar in shape to the Apollo, will be three times larger, carrying up to six astronauts.
The Orion project will create about 2,300 new jobs: some 1,200 in Houston; 600 in Colorado, 300 in Florida and 200 in Louisiana.

Instead of another 25 years of going round and round the Earth, the Orion spacecraft will be part of an exploration mission called Constellation. The Orion, along with cargo vehicles, are slated to return to the moon by 2019. The plans are to build a permanent home base there and to ultimately send people to Mars.

"Space is no longer going to be a destination that we visit briefly," NASA associate administrator Scott Horowitz said Thursday. "We're going to learn to live off the land like the pioneers did."

Well, it's about damned time. I've been dreaming of this since astronauts last visited the moon in 1972, when I was 14.