Monday, February 26, 2007

Answering a Reader's Question

Commenting on a recent post, The Capt. asked:

Just curious! Do you find your relationships with various women fulfilling in itself, or does it lead to something within you that you find passionate?

The days of dating 5 ladies simultaneously were entertaining and fun, but I still had the feeling that I wanted to start my own business, and took steps to do it. It was that focus that narrowed down the ladies in my fold to one.

Before I answer this question, I'd like to thank The Capt. for giving me something to write about today, as I was still feeling uninspired!

For me, having relationships with several women simultaneously feels perfectly natural and normal and, except for a brief disastrous attempt at marriage, I've always conducted my sex/love life in this way. At present, there are eight women I see on a regular to semi-regular basis, combined with the periodic one-night stands when I get antsy or bored with the regulars.

I take the pressure off in my relationships by not expecting one woman to fulfill every one of my needs. Each different woman appeals to a different part of me and with each one, I expand my sexual repertoire just that little bit more.

Spreading it around tends to stave off the kiss of death for relationships for me -- too much familiarity. Having space to come and go as I please, see others, helps to keep the interest going. Two old sayings about relationships tend to be true for me: "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" and "Familiarity breed contempt".

The lure of the hunt, and the pleasures of conquest are highly arousing for me and it satisfies my need for animal passion. Emotional love, though it happens now and then, is not always necessary, nor always desired.

I was married once, for about 18 months, in the early 80s. I tried to be monogamous, but it drove me insane. I was only able to remain faithful for two weeks, then I had to have something else.

Limiting myself to one woman is akin to being limited to eating one dish 3 times a day, 365 days a year, year in, year out. Even if this dish was my favorite meal, I would soon grow sick of it and never want to eat it ever again, without being able to have any variety. I love steak, but I appreciate steak much more, when I don't eat it every day; when I can have chicken, fish, spaghetti, and so on.

I'm also quite independent and I value my privacy. No one owns my body and my emotions but me, and I will share one or both with whomever and how many ever I choose. To cage or hoard love, physical and/or emotional, is to eventually kill it for me.

The Capt mentions "dating". I don't really "date" in the traditional sense with all of them -- they are all sexual, but they vary in frequency and feeling. Most of these women are "friends with benefits" that I see relatively infrequently and usually with the single purpose in mind. Most of the traditional "date-y" stuff is with the primary, and, even with her, I come and go as I please. Too much unbroken time, even with her, and I get restless.

I hope I was able to answer his question and I thank him again for giving me something to write about.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Romney, the Mormon Candidate

Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time knows that I am not a Republican, nor am I a conservative. If I had to choose among the candidates for the 2008 Republican nomination for President, my first choice would not be Mitt Romney. In my opinion, the least offensive Republican candidate would be Rudy Guiliani.

And as an agnostic, I am not religious. I find Mormonism, in particular, to be one of the strangest religious sects in the US today, and I'm being charitable just saying that.

That being said, I take a dim view of those who seek to discredit Romney's candidacy by pointing to his Mormon faith. Most recently, his opponents have called attention to the fact that Romney has the temerity to be a direct descendant of Mormons who were renegades from monogamy who engaged in religious, polygynous "plural marriages". Never mind the fact that Romney has been in a monogamous marriage for the last 37 years.

But it wouldn't matter in the slightest to me if Romney had continued his family's and his faith's former practice of plural marriage or had engaged in the modern form of polyamory. His private life is just that -- private and no business of mine. The last time I checked, being in a monogamous marriage was not a constitutional requirement to become President of the United States. Article 2, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution sets the requirements one must meet in order to become President:

1. A natural-born citizen of the United States
2. Thirty-five years of age
3. Resident of the United States for 14 years.

Responding to those who refer negatively to Romney's nonmonogamous ancestors, his wife, Ann Romney, said, tongue in cheek, that in contrast to his two main Republican competitors, her husband had "only one wife". This refers to the fact that McCain has been married twice; Giuliani three times.

I have no intentions of voting for Romney. However, I will not base my decision on the fact that he comes from nonmonogamous forbears. Rejecting Romney for being Mormon is no better than those who rejected JFK for being Catholic, as there are much better, more relevant things to reject Romney for. His record of flip-flopping on several key issues is a case in point. There's no need to stoop to prying into his family background, religion, or private life.


Friday, February 23, 2007

No News on the News

I've noticed lately that there's a lot less news on the evening news. I tuned in to my local news station the other night and the lead-off story was in-depth coverage of that week's American Idol, which went on for at least ten minutes. This was followed by detailed coverage the latest drama from the feeding frenzy that has followed Anna Nicole Smith's death, while her body remains unburied and decomposing. After this there was a story about a movie that is being filmed in my area. Only much later in the broadcast was it mentioned, and then, only quite briefly, that a Republican candidate for President had visited my state.

What's up with this? Is there actually so little real news happening that the nightly news has to fill up the time with fluff? If I want entertainment news, I'll tune into Entertainment Tonight, not my local nightly news. I don't watch the news to be entertained; I want to see the important news stories of what's going on in the world. I don't want to be fed cotton candy, I want meat and potatoes news.

It's all right to mention the most recent winners on American Idol on the news, but it should never be the lead off story and the mention should be brief. If someone wants more details, there are shows like Entertainment Tonight, which is a more appropriate venue for detailed coverage than the nightly news. Likewise, the Anna Nicole Smith story has been overdone in both time and detail -- why don't they just bury the poor woman and let her rest in peace?

I didn't have as much problem with the third story about the movie being filmed in my area, because it was told from the angle of a local interest story and it was aired at the appropriate part of the broadcast.

Traditional, general news shows have traditionally shown late breaking hard news first, followed by important national, world, and local events. This is usually followed by local "human interest" stories, entertainment, sports, and weather, and often ends with "odd news" or a "slice of life" piece. It's worked for years, so see no need to fix something that isn't broken, especially now that we've got so many special focus news shows to choose from these days in addition to the traditional news shows.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sex on the Go

A Qantas airlines flight attendant has been fired after she told a newspaper that she had sex with actor Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort in the upcoming Harry Potter movie), in the plane's bathroom during a nine hour flight. She considered this her initiation to the "Mile High Club". After their cramped tryst in the bathroom, she went with him to his hotel after the flight, where they had sex several more times.

"I know some people will think it's disgusting. And I'm not proud of what I did -- it was inappropriate behavior," she said. "But I don't regret it. Ralph is gorgeous and the chemistry between us was amazing. What woman wouldn't want to make love with him? This sort of attraction happens to people all the time. It's just not usually with a Hollywood star at 35,000 feet."

Disgusting? Not at all. Should she have done it? Why not? But it was more than a little stupid to take her story to the newspaper. She should have kept her trap shut and no one would have been any the wiser and she still would have had a job.

Fiennes, through a spokesman, claimed that she was the "sexual aggressor". Perhaps, but I'm guessing she didn't have to put a gun to his head, even though he may now regret his encounter with the indiscreet, blabby flight attendant.

This past Sunday, an Israeli couple traveling on a busy highway got horny and decided to take care of business right there and then. They didn't bother to pull off to the side of the road to do the deed, but simply stopped the car in the middle of traffic and went to it, which immediately began to back up traffic. Police, looking for the cause of the traffic jam, found the couple in the car banging away, totally oblivious to the traffic and car horns sounding behind them.

Now, I've been known to pull off at a rest stop when I've gotten unbearably horny while on a road trip to do the deed, but I'd never stop in traffic to scratch my itch. I want the chance to do it right without interruptions, you know.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

When I was a kid and my mother was still alive, our family normally went on some sort of Saturday outing each week, whether it was to go to the flea market, go to the mall, visit a site of historical interest, whatever.

During these trips, we usually stopped at a fast-food place to have lunch. Back in the late sixties, fast food chains did not have drive-through windows; you had to get out of the car and go into the store to get it, even if it was to go. Our habit was for my Dad or my brother to go in and get the food for everyone, including the dog if we'd brought him along that day, and we'd eat in the parked car.

On one of these typical Saturdays, we were sitting in the car eating our burgers when we saw a car on the road suddenly veer sharply to the right, which then crashed through the front window of the diner across the street.

My much older brother, who was then an operating room technician, immediately jumped out of the car, and sprinted across the street, to see if there was anything he could do to help. The rest of us followed at a more careful pace.

When he got there, the driver of the car wasn't breathing; my brother found him slumped over the wheel. No one inside the restaurant was hurt, so he focused his attention on the driver. He started CPR on the man, then known as "mouth-to-mouth resuscitation". It worked, but unfortunately the man threw up on my brother, but my brother kept it up until the ambulance arrived, when he stood aside to allow them to take over, at which time they thanked him for his help.

It turned out that the man had had a heart attack while driving, which caused him to crash into the building; his need for CPR had not been caused by the accident.

Thanks to my brother, the man was alive when the ambulance took him away, but he later died in the hospital, unfortunately.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Creepy Trend

I was visiting a lover several days ago and she was telling me about her sister, who'd just had a baby. She mentioned to me casually that her sister planned to "co-sleep".

I'd never heard this curious expression before, so I asked, "WTF is 'co-sleeping' -- is it just a fancy name for the fact that she and her husband share a bed?"

She said no, explaining that her sister and her husband planned to have their newborn child sleep in the bed with them until toddlerhood! She also added that this appears to be growing trend, as she's heard of several couples who are doing it.

WTF??? Why would any parents consider such a thing, and what man would put up with it? It seems to me that it would be very easy to roll over and smother the baby in one's sleep or accidentally knock the child off the bed. And it would seem as if the parents would never be able to settle into a deep, restful sleep, for being hyperalert not to hurt the baby.

And I can't imagine this would do much for the couple's sex life. There's no way I'd engage in sex with a baby in the room, no matter how young. It's just plain creepy to me. Again, what kind of a man would put up with this situation? I'm guessing this couple's sex life was never any great shakes to begin with.

And it would seem that a young child sleeping with parents every night would end up overly enmeshed and clingy, This "co-sleeping" crap seems like the worse kind of overprotective smother-mothering.

When my son was a baby, he had a nice, cheerful crib in his own room, no more than a few feet down the hall from our room. There was a rocking chair in there that either the ex or I would sit in to hold him while we gave him a bottle or to rock him to sleep. He was perfectly content to sleep there by himself. It worked for us and for all the parents I knew when my son was growing up.

Let's hear what you think. Do you think I'm overreacting or do you think this is as creepy as I do?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Persistent Memory

Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it.
-- Bret Harte

Memory is many times a perverse thing. We forget many things we want to remember, but with things we want to forget, we couldn't do it if our lives depended on it.

This is particularly true with music. I'll hear a song on the radio that I despise and, more often than not, it gets lodged in my mind in replay mode. No matter how much I try to put it out of my mind, I'll hear it over and over again in my mind for hours, and, many times, will even be humming it, too. The worse I hate the song, the more this is likely to happen.

We also tend to replay embarrassing moments, being insulted, disturbing events, and painful memories in our minds. Sometimes, the harder we try to banish such memories, the more persistent they are. We can distract ourselves for awhile, but the memories inevitably pop back up like weeds.

Usually, the best thing is simply to let such memories be and allow them to recede in their own time. Trying too hard to banish them from our minds usually means that process will only take longer.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Annoyances in Public

Today, I thought I'd write about some types of typical annoyances encountered when out in public, some with particular examples.

One common annoyance for many people is encountering loud or rowdy kids in public. I don't mean children who are merely talking loudly. Indeed, the parents who hiss "SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" every time the poor kid opens their mouth is usually ten times more annoying than the kid could ever be. Many times I've said to such parents, "Your kids aren't bothering me". In other words, quit with the damned shushing, because YOU are the one being annoying.

On the other side are the apparently deaf and oblivious parents to kids who are being annoying. There was one time years ago that I was browsing in a bookstore and a woman and a boy about three years old came in. From the moment they came inside, the boy was saying in a loud, insistent voice, "IwannadrinkIwannadrinkIwannadrink", over and over and over and over, barely pausing to breathe. The mother totally ignored him, acting as if he wasn't even there. Finally I couldn't stand it anymore. I turned to the mother and said, "For fuck's sake, give the kid a damned drink already!" She gave me a dirty look and immediately left the store, much to everyone's relief.

I don't mind kids talking loudly, or even being whiny, but one thing I can't abide is a kid who SHRIEKS at the top of his lungs. It goes through my head just like a nail. Usually the parents of shriekers are the oblivious types, unfortunately.

Another annoyance is parents who let their kids run inside a store, getting in the way of people trying to shop. More than once, I've nearly tripped over such anklebiters when they've suddenly darted out in front of me.

Now, on to the adults -- children aren't the only or even the main offenders out in public. One thing I hate in places like Wal Mart or the grocery store is someone who stops dead in the middle of a narrow aisle, oblivious to others who want to get by. They do this either to carry on a conversation with someone they meet or they're simply confused on where something is located. Sometimes, I'll just stare them down, my arms crossed, not saying a word, until they get the hint. Other times, when I'm in a particularly foul mood, I'll suggest they go off to the side to chat or be confused.

At the movies, I hate people who talk during the movie, either to their companion or on their damned cell phones. Just because you have a cell phone doesn't mean it has to be constantly in use. Before you had a cell phone, you didn't spend every waking moment on your landline, so why do you think you have to constantly be on the cell?

But one of my main movie peeves are people in the same row as you who can't stay seated; who get up 900 times during the movie and squeeze by you, blocking your view, on the way to the aisle. And the worst is when you have someone sitting directly behind you who cannot sit still and spends the movie kicking the back of your chair.

Another place where I typically encounter fidgety people is a diner. You know, the kind of place where the booths have double seats facing opposite directions with a table on either side. I invariably get an antsypants who couldn't sit still if their lives depended on it, on the other side of the double seat from me. They either keep swinging their legs around or jog one leg up and down compulsively so that I spend my meal being jiggled to death. If I wanted a fucking earthquake with my meal, I would have ordered one! I've gotten to where I try to take the booth closest to the wall when I go into a place with seating like this, so as to avoid these morons.

What are some of the typical public annoyances you love to hate?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sixteen Isn't Enough

Most of us have heard of the old TV show, "Eight is Enough". But for the Duggar family, sixteen isn't enough. Children, that is.

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, a fundamentalist Christian couple from Arkansas, have sixteen children. That's right, SIXTEEN. They are proponents of the "Quiverfull" philosophy, which is anti-birth control and who deny the truth of global overpopulation, and who take the view that it's up to God how many children each family has.

And Michelle (who should be renamed Myrtle, as in Fertile), is pregnant yet again with the couple's 17th child, due in July 2007. The thought of this boggles my mind -- just the thought of having sex with her as being akin to throwing a hot dog down a hall makes me shudder.

Though the family has stated they are debt-free, which I cannot fault, and though they ultimately have the right to have as many children as they can support, I still have a lot of problems with anyone having this many children in modern times. We are no longer an agrarian society and no longer need all those hands to work the fields

I can't imagine the children are having a much of a childhood. The older children have had what should be their only carefree time in their lives taken from them by having to help raise their younger siblings. And, to me as an almost-only child with two siblings more than a decade my senior, the idea of never having a moment's privacy is not a appealing one. The Duggar home, by necessity, is run like an army barracks. I'm sure it's a rare thing for any of the children individually to ever get one-on-one time with either of their parents.

I also think of all the children languishing in orphanages and foster homes who are waiting, sometimes fruitlessly, to be adopted. If the Duggars have so much love to give to children, why not adopt several of these children? Why is it so important that they have to "make their own".

And there are more possible implications that concern me. The children are home schooled with very little contact with the outside world or with other children. Home schooling is not necessarily a bad thing, but most homeschoolers have ample opportunities for interacting with traditionally schooled children.

Jim Bob has served in Arkansas House of Representatives and has unsuccessfully run for both the Arkansas and United States Senates.

The pattern of having abnormally large families, coupled with homeschooling and socially isolating the children is a growing one among extreme, reactionary fundamentalists. Couple this with groups such as the Christian Exodus group I wrote about recently, and Christian Dominion groups whose avowed goal is to change our form of government to a theocracy from the ground up starting with election to local government. It would seem that these people are trying to breed their way into a majority in this country so that they will eventually achieve their goals by sheer numbers.

Paranoid? Perhaps. But I think mainstream Americans, both liberals and conservatives, would do well to keep a close eye on this phenomenon.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

A "Single" Rant About Work

Today, I thought I'd write about a work-related peeve. And from what I've read online, this is a common peeve of people in all kinds of jobs and not at all peculiar to my workplace.

I've noticed some ways in which unmarried workers without minor children at home are treated differently from those who are married and/or with small kids. As one single worker put it:

"It's the single people working long hours on the holidays, the worst hours on the weekends, and we are always the first ones called up to work overtime or relocate. This absolutely outrages me!"

In other words, if you're not married or taking care of kids, it is assumed you have no life worth considering and that you are always available to work at any time; that we are "married" to our jobs.

Depending upon the company, some typical benefits available to parents are:
  • flexible schedules, allowing time to be missed for children's activities or illnesses with no loss of pay
  • no penalty for having the workday disrupted by children's needs
  • parental leave
  • exemption from working overtime, weekends, or holidays
  • priority assignment for shift work
  • working from home to save on childcare expenses
  • on-site childcare or assistance with childcare expenses
  • subsidies or fully paid insurance coverage for dependents.

And who do you think is expected to pick up the slack so that parents can have these kinds of benefits. Yep, you guessed it. Unmarried, childless people!

Don't get me wrong. I think it's a good trend that parents should be able to get such benefits. They shouldn't have to make their families take a back seat to their jobs. But this is only a halfway measure. Those of us who neither married nor currently raising kids have lives we value as well and we shouldn't be expected to be the workplace martyrs and take up all the slack that makes those benefits possible for married people and parents.

I hadn't really given this issue a lot of thought until the other day when I overheard the boss asking a married coworker whether he would like to have Valentine's Day off. Because I am not legally married, I was not given this option, never mind the fact that I could easily spend the entire 24 hours of Valentine's Day going from one woman's house to the next, if I were so inclined.

And my son isn't a child, so of course, I shouldn't need Father's Day off, either. And why wouldn't I want to work late on Thanksgiving Eve and Christmas Eve? It's not as if I have a family and have any need to be go home early or on time.(*heavy sarcasm*) You get the picture. It's assumed that if you're single, that you're always available and don't have anything else better to do.

In my case, nothing could be further from the truth. And in every single person's case, it's not the employer's place to decide whose off time is more valuable.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Public Prayer

Matthew 6:5-6

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly

Ever since 1963, when the Supreme Court banned school sponsored prayer conducted by teachers in public schools, the issue of school prayer has been a hot button issue.

By the time I started school in the fall of 1964, we didn't study the Bible, nor did our teachers lead any prayers. At that time, and for the rest of my school years ending in 1976, this wasn't a problem for anyone. We went to school to learn about academic subjects and students went to their various houses of worship to pray and learn about their faith. Just as people didn't go to church to learn math, they didn't go to school to be instructed in religion.

When I was in high school in the mid-70s, we started each by listening to the national anthem, which was followed by a "moment of meditation". This moment could be used to pray or to think about whatever each student wished, according to each individual conscience. It worked out well and offended no one.

Religion wasn't totally absent from our school life, nor was its expression stifled. Religious kids brought their Bibles to school and they had Bible studies in study hall without interference from the school administration. Likewise, it was a common thing to see students wearing a cross or a Star of David.

What was different from pre-1963 public schools was that the school did not sponsor nor lead any religious activities going on in the school -- it didn't "kick God out of school", as some fundamentalists dramatically assert, as if it would even be possible to ban an omnipotent being, anyway. And, as the old saying goes, as long as there are math tests, there will be prayer in school.

I've never understood why religious parents would want the public schools leading group prayers in the first place. Public schools contain students and teachers from all walks of life and from all religions and no religions. It would be impossible to conduct prayers that would be meaningful to all and that would also not stigmatize nonbelievers. I would think a watered-down generic prayer would please no one.

I believe the setup that existed when I was in school worked better and was more meaningful than when school led, coerced prayer was the order of the day. Those that prayed did so out of their own free will and out of genuine desire, rather than being compelled to do so.

In recent years, other types of public group prayer at non-religious events have generated controversy as well. In my state, there has been an ongoing feud between the local ACLU and several county councils about opening their meetings with a group prayer. While the ACLU no doubt has better things to do than get involved in this practice, which is probably entirely voluntary, I think the "moment of meditation" solution might work well in this type of environment as well.

But, ultimately, to those who want to turn every public gathering into a prayer meeting, I would direct them to the Bible verses above for a bit of sound wisdom. In closing, I'll leave you with a relevant quote from Harry Truman:

“When they start praying too loudly over in the prayer corner, you’d better go home and lock your henhouse.”

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Texas Becomes First State to Mandate HPV Vaccine

In a surprising, landmark decision on Friday, Texas governor Rick Perry signed an executive order that made Texas the first state to mandate a vaccine against HPV, a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer. Beginning in September 2008, girls entering the sixth grade will have to get Gardasil, Merck's new vaccine against strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV.

This executive order was especially remarkable, considering that Perry is a conservative Christian who opposes abortion and stem cell research, and who depends on the religious right as his political base. By signing an executive order, he purposely bypassed opposition in the legislature by social conservatives who believe the vaccine will only encourage promiscuity and will interfere in how parents raise their children. Social conservatives insisted that abstinence should be the only way that teens and young woman avoid the virus.

Perry, on the other hand, stated that the cervical cancer vaccine is no different from the one that protects children from polio.
"The HPV vaccine provides us with an incredible opportunity to effectively target and prevent cervical cancer," the governor said.

Merck has recommended Gardasil for women between age 9 and 26, stating that the vaccine is most effective if given to younger girls because the vaccine is ineffective once this very common virus is already present.

The CDC estimates that about 6.2 million Americans become infected with genital HPV each year and that more than half of all sexually active men and women become infected in their lives. More than 9,700 new cases of cervical cancer and 3,700 deaths are attributed to the virus yearly in the United States. Worldwide, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women, with 470,000 new cases annually and 233,000 deaths.

To the social conservatives who want to keep this potentially life-saving vaccine from their daughters for fear they become promiscuous, I would say, better a vaccinated live, promiscuous daughter than one who died needlessly for want of a vaccine that could have saved her life.

This view also ignores teenage human nature. It's not as if teens in the throes of passion will decide not to have intercourse because they might get cancer somewhere down the line and, conversely, none will decide it's party time simply because they now can be protected from this cancer.

Children have long been required to get a wide variety of vaccinations for various diseases before entering school and it's been no big deal for most parents. The fact that this one prevents a sexually transmitted disease shouldn't make it any different.


Saturday, February 3, 2007

Pope Calls For Defense of "Traditional" Marriage and Family

Pope Benedict has come out in opposition to pending legislation in Italy that would grant legal status to unmarried couples, regardless of sexual orientation. He claims that such recognition would endanger the "traditional family".

"We know very well how the family based on marriage forms the natural setting for the birth and education of children, and is therefore a guarantee of the future of all humanity," the pope said. In his address Sunday on Saint Peter's Square, he called for married people, the church and public institutions to "defend, aid, protect and empower" the family.

Benedict speaks of "THE family", as if there is only one kind, which is patently false. Families have always existed in many different forms, so it is presumptuous to speak of THE family. The fact that families exist in diverse forms doesn't keep anyone who wishes from living in what he calls a "traditional" family.

So far far as what is "natural", men and women must come together at some point to create children, but anything further than the act of mating, concerning what kind of social groups children are raised in are practical human constructs, none more "natural" than the last.

And concerning "traditional" families, I'm guessing the pope is referring to the isolated nuclear family unit. This type of family is only "traditional" from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution onward; before that, most families were of the extended variety.

If he means that a traditional family involves legal/church recognized monogamous marriages, even that only goes back so far and only for certain people. In prehistory, family relationships were, of course, much more informal and were neither legal nor religious. Even the Bible records several different kinds of marriages and families: polygyny, concubinage, levirate marriage, single parents, as well as the type Benedict defends.

As one person suggested to me in an IM conversation earlier today, perhaps one of the things motivating the pope's vocal opposition to civil partnerships is the potential loss of revenue for the Catholic Church, as such civil partnerships will no doubt reduce the number of church weddings, and likely, church memberships.

The Pope would do better if he expressed more concern with how people treat one another in the relationships they do have, rather than worrying about what form these relationships take.


Friday, February 2, 2007

Mayor Apologizes For Affair

During a news conference on Thursday, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who is up for re-election in November, publicly apologized for having sex with his campaign manager's wife. Newsom called the affair a "lapse of judgment". The conference was prompted by the sudden resignation of the campaign manager the previous day.

"I want to make it clear that everything you've read is true and I'm deeply sorry about that," Newsom said. "I hurt someone I care deeply about, Alex Tourk and his family and friends, and that is something I'm deeply sad about and sorry for."

Yeah, right! He's making a public apology only because his campaign manager resigned under questionable circumstances and he's trying to do some damage control for his re-election. As one who has slept with many other men's wives and would do it again in a heartbeat, I seriously doubt he actually regrets having sex with her. What he really regrets is being caught.

If he really felt remorse and thought the relationship was a lapse in judgment, he'd have expressed his regrets privately to those involved, regardless of the other outside circumstances in his life. It's a private matter and not something he should have apologized to the public about.

If it were me, I'd openly admit to it, but I'd never apologize. I only apologize for things I honestly feel remorse for, and never simply because it's expected of me.


Thursday, February 1, 2007

Does a Man Have To Be a Husband To Be A Good Father?

What is the best way the government can assist in promoting strong families? Should it be by encouraging better parenting skills or by promoting marriage?

This past fall, the Bush administration awarded 42 million dollars in grants to almost 100 "fatherhood initiatives" around the nation, which emphasize the importance of fathers. Grant recipients will offer services in marriage education, parenting skills and job training. Marriage promotion is the most common approach, with social conservatives in Congress and the White House strongly promoting marriage and traditional family life.

This focus is a matter of concern for many family and policy experts. Vicki Turetsky, an attorney with the Center for Law and Social Policy, believes that fatherhood programs should concentrate on economic issues, to assist men in acquiring steady, long term employment that would allow them to support their kids, whether or not they are still romantically involved with their childrens' mother.

Barbara Risman, executive director of the Council on Contemporary Families believes that programs that pressure single fathers in to marriage could result in short-lived marriages that upset childrens' lives, rather than stabilize them.

I agree. I think that any federally funded program promoting involved fatherhood should be just that, about being a better father, not geared toward making husbands out of them. Such programs should focus on how the man relates to the children, not whether or how he relates to the mother romantically. That's essentially their own business and one can be a good father regardless of how he conducts his romantic relationships.

I raised my son to adulthood as a single father, though I was urged many times to marry for my son's sake during his childhood. Though I disregarded this advice and though I'll never win the Father of the Year Award, I don't think I did too badly as a parent.