Monday, April 30, 2007

The Right To Be Unpopular

My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.
Adlai E. Stevenson Jr. (1900 - 1965)

I have something to admit. Despite being a liberal, I can't stand Rosie O'Donnell. She's a loud, abrasive publicity hog who commonly states her opinions in an obnoxious manner, usually in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Nearly every time her comments are reported in the news, I wish that she wasn't on my side of the political aisle, as I believe she's not doing the liberal cause very much good. Even when I agree with her opinions, I rarely agree with the way she chooses to present them, as the end result doesn't seem to persuade people, but, rather, to alienate them.

In the last year or so, her name has been in the news concerning controversies with Donald Trump (who is as obnoxious as she is), the Chinese community, Rupert Murdoch, Kelly Ripa, and the British Navy. In connection with her comments about the British Navy, she also expressed agreement with conspiracy theories about the World Trade center attack, asserting that 7 World Trade Center had been imploded in order to destroy evidence of the corporate financial scandals at Enron and WorldCom.

But however much I deplore her irresponsible and erratic public persona, I don't think she's any worse than Ann Coulter. In fact, I'd say she's got a ways to go before she's even in Coulter's league.

The two women have much in common, however. Each time one of them opens her mouth, she gains points for the other side. And they're both shameless publicity hounds. If too much time goes by without either one getting her name in the news, they are both equally likely to make an outrageous comment in public, guaranteeing that her name will be in the headlines once more.

Nevertheless, I am happy to live in a country where both women are free to express themselves publicly, however outrageous, inappropriate, and obnoxious they usually are. The right to freedom of speech is never more important than when it refers to offensive and unpopular expressions.


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Quotes and Comments

In heaven all the interesting people are missing.
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900)

Excessive virtue and creativity often are not found in the same person.

I finally figured out the only reason to be alive is to enjoy it.
Rita Mae Brown

It's certainly my reason for living.

On my income tax 1040 it says 'Check this box if you are blind.' I wanted to put a check mark about three inches away.
Tom Lehrer (1928 - )

A typical example of government blockheadedness

You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.
Woody Allen (1935 - )

Life without such pleasures may not make you live longer, but I guarantee that it will seem longer.

Riches cover a multitude of woes.
Menander (342 BC - 292 BC)

Money cannot buy happiness, but it can surely make misery easier to bear.

If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be - a Christian.
Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

Jesus, please save me from your followers

To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything.
Anatole France Thibault

Progress is made by imagining the possibilities, not relying upon currents facts.

Some people have so much respect for their superiors they have none left for themselves.
Peter McArthur

Don't be the workplace suck-up.

If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.
John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963)

It takes all kinds to make a world.

The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues.
Elizabeth Taylor (1932 - )

There's no one more insufferable than a self-righteous prude

The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.
Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

It's always easier to make a mess than to clean it up.

Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970),

...which explains why fundamentalism exists.

Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are unsure that we are doubly sure.
Reinhold Niebuhr (1892 - 1971)

...which again explains fundamentalism

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Page From My Journal

Here are a few more entries from the handwritten journal I kept when I was on the police force:

February 5, 1989

One day in roll call, awhile back, the shift Lt read a report that M had taken about a stolen car. The car had no seats and had to be cranked with a pair of pliers. When the Lt read this, I laughed and said that this was really M's car and he was too ashamed to claim it as one of his. (Note: M is the same officer I wrote about in previous entry, "Tightwad") Everyone laughed because they all knew this was typical of the cars M drove.

February 6, 1989

When we were on our last third shift, there was a fire down at F & S.. An old house at the back of the property burned. A dog came from near the place and looked at all the officers and then back at the house. One officer had already noticed an odd smell and when the dog came up. someone remembered that there was an old man who sometimes stayed there as a self-appointed night watchman. We checked to see if he was in there and, sure enough, he was in there face down in one of the rooms. He was burned pretty badly, so it was awhile before he was found and recognized as human remains. Most of his arms had burned off and what remained had drawn up to his shoulders. He died of smoke inhalation.

February 11, 1989

I had desk duty tonight and I had to deal with a crazy drunk woman on the phone all night long,. She was calling the Crime Stoppers line and started of the bat belligerent and abusive. She started off by saying we weren't worth a damn and didn't care about doing anything. I asked her what the hell was she calling us for then if she believed that.

I took the information she had to give, such as it was, and she cursed at me for not getting emotional about it. She hung up on me when I told her it would be referred to the Sheriff's Department, as it wasn't in our jurisdiction.

Three hours later, she called back to curse at me some more and to demand to know why we hadn't caught him yet. It seems as if all the nuts come out of the woodwork on third shift. But no matter how unbalanced they are or how tenuous of a grip they have on reality, they always remember to call us. No matter what else they're incapable of doing; they're capable of dialing our number.

This Crime Stoppers line, which was meant to be a place where people could give anonymous tips about a variety of crimes, doesn't really work as it was intended to. In reality, it is a nut hotline for people, usually of the paranoid variety, to call when there's no one else who will listen to their paranoid prattle. Sometimes there are legitimate tips, especially when a major crime has recently been committed, but, far and away, the majority of the calls are from these paranoid cranks, who think that all their neighbors are criminals. 99% of the calls are about drugs and the callers either don't realize or don't care that a careful investigation usually must be conducted before a person is arrested for selling drugs. These callers think they can call this line and we'll run right over there and arrest the person in question just on their say-so. And most of the time, they don't tell you enough to go on; not even an accurate address. Plus, the calls are never about any specific incidents; it's always "all the time".

(that same night) I had an interesting nut come in. She came running in here saying that she had been poisoned, but she refused to go to the hospital. I called upstairs and the dispatcher called the Sergeant in, to see if she'd listen to a higher-up better than she did me. While waiting for him to arrive, she kept talking and it dawned on me that she was a Looney Tunes. The clincher was when she said she thought the Black Panthers had done it to her. And she'd driven here from two counties over to tell us this. She said she did this because one of our detectives had told her to stay out of our town.

February 25, 1989

A deaf man came up to me and handed me a piece of paper with a woman's name and address on it. I figured that he wanted me to call her for him. I radioed the dispatcher, explaining what I had and asked her to call the number for him. After the dispatcher called, she relayed that he was a relative of the woman on the phone and I told the dispatcher that he wanted his relative to come pick him up. The woman was very happy and appreciative when she arrived, and it was nice to deal with someone happy for a change, who appreciated our help.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Holding a Grudge

I've never been a person to hold a permanent grudge against someone whom I believe has done me wrong. I'll get pissed off at the time, but, almost always, I'll let it go and get on with my life. Quite frequently, I'll forgive that person, though I'm much slower in allowing myself to trust that person again. But many times, the trust is never rebuilt to the same level as it was once before. I forgive them, but I remain wary and careful for a much longer period of time. Trust can be rebuilt, but like Rome, it's not built in a day.

But it's a rare thing for me to withhold forgiveness permanently. As time passes after an affront has occurred, I find I cannot maintain the level of anger and indignation without great effort. As the saying goes, time heals all wounds....and hopefully, wounds all heels.

I'm also reminded of something my father always said about grudges and forgiveness. He told me that as long as you maintain a grudge and nurse your feelings of indignation, then the other person owns you. I couldn't understand what my father meant as a child, but it's perfectly clear to me as an adult.

To maintain a grudge and to spend excessive time thinking about how badly you were treated takes a lot of energy that could be better spent on more positive matters. This in turn, creates stress in your life. Thus, in a very meaningful sense, another person's time-limited actions take up residence in your mind and control your thoughts -- in other words, the person owns you. You have given them power over your mind. And one thing that is galling about this is that the other person probably has put it out of their mind and not given it a second thought. Essentially, you are a prisoner of your grudge, while the other person is free.

To free yourself, you either forgive and rebuild the friendship or you eventually let it go and move on, if the friendship cannot be continued.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Gluttons For Punishment

While listening to the radio the other night, a man called in to dedicate a song to his wife. This was unremarkable until he said that he'd been divorced from this same woman twice and was now married to her for a third time. He also mentioned that they were back in marriage counseling once again, adding that each time they divorced, he found that he could not live without her.

The radio host jokingly told him that they ought to buy a duplex and each live in one side as they obviously could not live together, either. Thought she obviously meant this in jest, this was somewhat more sensible than what they'd been doing on their own.

I can understand the desire to try to make a relationship work, but I cannot see the point of marrying and divorcing the same person several times. Some people just aren't meant to be married and it would seem as if the only ones profiting from their on again/off again marital status would be the lawyers. I know I learned my lesson after being married only once.

It seems to me the most sensible thing they could have done if they wanted to remain a part of each other's lives would be to stay legally single and to stop involving the government in their frequent temporary changes of heart.

How much does anyone want to bet that divorce #3 is probably in the near future for this fickle couple?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Needless Waste

On my way home from work last night, I stopped to gas up my car. The station where I usually go is a combination gas station/convenience store. There's a snack bar inside where you can get hamburgers, hot dogs, and the like, made fresh. The snack bar is usually closed when I stop there, but because I left early last night, I got there as they were getting ready to shut it down for the night.

I was hungry and I didn't feel like making another stop at a fast food place, so I took a walk over to the snack bar. The clerk was in the process of closing and had thrown away most of the remaining food. All that was left were some chicken wings and a tray full of potato wedges. I arrived just as she was going to pull this tray out as well and throw it all in the garbage. I asked if she couldn't just give me the food, rather than throwing it away.

She said she wasn't allowed to do that; indeed, she wasn't even allowed to take the food home herself or she'd get fired. She did, however, give me the whole lot of it for a greatly reduced price, even thought that was also technically disallowed. The clerk told me that store policy is that it's supposed to be either sold at full price or thrown away uneaten.

I hate this kind of waste and this mentality with a passion. The clerk had mentioned to me that there are a lot of homeless people who pass by the station, and that she'd much rather give away whatever leftover food she has at closing to them rather than waste it by throwing it away. Similarly, our local supermarkets throw away a lot of still-edible, day-old baked goods, rather than donating it to the soup kitchen, the Salvation Army, or someplace similar. I'm not much of a believer in sin, but as long as there are hungry people in a community, to throw away good food is as close to sin as it gets in my book.

I've also seen clerks in bookstores taking paperback books that haven't sold off the shelves to make way for new releases. These books are then destroyed, which is nearly as bad as throwing away edible food. These books could be sold at a discount to a used/overstock bookstore, given to hospitals, nursing homes, and/or jails, rather than being shredded.

They've already lost whatever money they could have made by throwing such items in the garbage, so why not give it away? They probably could get a tax write-off for doing so, as well as giving their business a positive image in the community.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Some Thoughts About the Virginia Tech Tragedy

I've read a lot about the tragedy in Virginia, on blogs and on news sites. Much of what needed to be said has been said, but I'll add just a few thoughts of my own.

In the days and weeks to come, some will use this incident as a political opportunity, referring to it to support their positions on gun control, security, and various other issues, even when there is the most tenuous of correlations with the tragedy. Indeed, conservative author, Dinesh D'Souza even got some mileage out of this event as an opportunity to get in a rant about atheism, of all things:

Where is Atheism When Bad Things Happen?

But I think it's misleading to say that this happened because the killer had guns or because the victims didn't have guns, because security wasn't tight enough, or because there isn't enough belief in God in America today. It's not a liberal vs conservative issue.

It's a mental health issue. It's yet another sad story about the failures of the mental health system in this country. As with Susan Smith, Andrea Yates, and the rest of those who committed similar heinous atrocities, Cho Seung-Hui didn't spend his entire life acting normal, then suddenly woke up one morning and decided out of the blue to go on a killing rampage.

Both students and professors had noted his antisocial behavior, and complaints had brought him to the attention of school authorities on more than one occasion.

In 2005, after being apprehended for harassing two women on campus, the court ordered that he be evaluated by psychiatrists for mental illness, because probable cause was found after an initial evaluation indicating that Cho was a danger to himself or others as a result of mental illness.

But even though he was found to be presenting "an imminent danger to himself as a result of mental illness", he was released and outpatient treatment was recommended for him, which he apparently never followed up on.

I'm of the opinion that this tragedy might well have been averted if Cho had gotten the appropriate mental health help that he desperately needed when he came to the attention of the authorities in 2005.

As long as the mental health system continues to drop the ball and fails to accurately identify and properly treat mentally ill people, incidents like this will unfortunately continue to occur.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Interview With a Libertine

Over on Efx2, where my mirror blog is, many bloggers have published "interview" entries, in which another blogger has asked them five questions about their lives. Miss Minda kindly agreed to interview me, and what follows are my responses to her questions.

1. You have moved away from doing as much blogging about your sexual exploits at Efx2. You mention that it is difficult to write these tales in different ways to maintain the interest. What got you started in writing about your amorous adventures in the blog-world? How did your writing style, in respect to those posts, change and/or evolve over that time? If you could publish a book of those writings, what would you want to include and what would a possible title be?

I have a separate blog at Blogger devoted solely to excerpts from my sex life. The link to that blog, Adventures of a Libertine, is in the left column of this blog.

When I first began blogging in 2004, I started at Blog-City at the urging of a close friend, who thought others might be interested in reading about how I live my life. This blog began as a theme blog devoted to writing about my libertine lifestyle; what and how I came to believe what I do about sex, love, and relationships, and what it means to be a libertine. Essentially, it was a Libertine 101 blog.

However, I did not include explicit descriptions from my sex life there. Another friend suggested I start a second blog for that purpose, which I did at ModBlog in August of 2004. I ran both blogs concurrently, one PG13 rated and the other NC-17.

Eventually, I covered just about everything relevant about libertinism in general and libertinism in my particular case, and decided to branch out my Blog-City blog to write about a wide variety of topics, thought I would continue to touch upon the libertine issue from time to time, which I continue to this day.

When ModBlog crashed and burned, I made the exodus over to Efx2, along with the rest of the erstwhile Modbloggers. I decided at that time to make my Efx2 blog a mirror blog of my Blog City blog, and to move all the content of my explicit blog over to Blogger, where it still remains. I don't write in that one all that often, but it is updated from time to time. I intend to add another entry there within the next week or so.

I keep the two blogs entirely separate and don't promote the other blog here all that much because I want my readership at Efx2 to see the whole person. I want them to see that I'm about more than just sex and to know that I'm capable of using BOTH my heads!

My writing style? I can't say that I think it's changed all that much over time. I'd written accounts of my sex life in a paper journal before, so it wasn't all that hard for me to transfer it to a blog. Likewise, I've had a lot of experience in writing essays about all sorts of topics -- I've been doing that for several years as well.

Several people have urged me to write a book. I've turned it over in my head many times over the last couple of years, but the procrastinator in me hasn't done anything concrete about it. If I were to write such a book, I would include all the pertinent factual blog entries about libertinism: what it is, what I personally believe, and how I live it out in my own life. Along with this, I'd include more general, but related, entries about sociology, psychology, marriage and the family, and the like. Lastly, I'd include several accounts from my sex life over the years. Essentially, the first part would be theory, the second part would be practice.

And the title? I think my blog title, Confessions of a Libertine, would work very nicely.

2. The life of a single parent isn't easy. Being a single father comes with its own set of trials and tribulations. What were some of the difficulties you faced while raising a young son? Who were the people who helped you through the rough times and how? Now that your son is older, what are your hopes for him if he decides to have children of his own?

I had never really planned to be a parent at all, let alone a single one. So, when the ex deserted her son, it's very much of an understatement to say I was gobsmacked. But I sucked it up and stepped up to the plate to do what was right and necessary for my then infant son.

I don't think I could have done it without my father and, later on, my stepmother. I moved in for awhile with my father after the breakup, and he was always available to babysit and to give me advice on how to be a good parent. Later on, when my father remarried after being a long-time widower, my stepmother took her role as a grandmother quite seriously. She spent a lot of time with him doing grandmotherly things and encouraging his inborn talents.

I know I couldn't have been a cop without them, as my job entailed working rotating shifts, which would have been disruptive for a young child, considering that night time child care centers were all but unknown where we lived when my son was young. He stayed with them for week-long chunks, which enabled me to work without worry, and to also pursue my chosen lifestyle without disrupting my son's life.

My father died when my son was nearly 15, but he'd helped me see him nearly to adulthood. My dad once told me that he was glad to do it; that it reminded him of his own childhood during the Depression, when he'd spend weeks at a time living with his grandparents.

To tell the truth, I've not thought much about my son having his own children. He's a grown man now and doesn't seem in any hurry to settle down and have children, though he has expressed the desire to have them at some point. I think he'll do just fine, as he was always very good at getting along with younger children and being patient with them when he was growing up.

3. I don't participate in most of your political blog posts. I do, however, read them. What in your life influenced your political views? What are you hoping for when you post something political at Efx2? Who's views do you most agree with and who's are most opposite of your own?

I grew up in a family that was interested in politics and always had lively political discussions. I've been exposed to politics for as long as I can remember and I've paid attention to issues and elections since childhood.

Growing up in New England, my parents were, like many people in that area, liberal Democrats. Both parents grew up during the Roosevelt presidency and were grateful to him for how he helped lead our country out of the Depression.

I remember as a child my mother telling me "there's good and bad in all kinds" and "it takes all kinds to make a world", while my father told me that "Republicans are for the wealthy and Democrats are for the working people". Both of these views, of course, were very broad and not the whole story, but they were the seeds in how I became a liberal.

My father worked for a major oil corporation for nearly 40 years and he used his position as the manager/supervisor of the various departments he headed over the years to be a mentor to both minority and female workers, knowing that they usually didn't get a fair chance to advance in the company during the time he worked there. His example here also influenced my political beliefs.

Unlike many young people, I was never at odds with my parents about politics; rather, they were my role models.

What I hope for when I post my political views -- indeed, my views about any topic at all -- is that my readers might look at a particular topic or issue in a way they might not have considered before. I don't expect to change every person's mind with my views, but I'm satisfied if they come away with a better understanding of why I believe as I do and where I'm coming from.

I would say that I probably agree most with Eclectablog's views, and there are a few others with whom I'm usually in agreement with, though I can't say there's anyone with whom I totally agree and completely rubberstamp their opinions.

I suppose I disagree most with Rubicon and -- you knew I'd say it -- your husband, Aielman. However, I appreciate their reading and participating in my blog with their comments. I greatly value those who disagree with me and challenge my views, as such exchanges serve to keep me on my toes and help sharpen my thinking and to better clarify what I believe and why.

4. Some of your posts that I enjoy the most, deal with your life as a police officer. What advice would you give to a young man or woman interested in pursuing criminology as a career? What were the best and worst things about being a cop?

I've never really thought much about advice I'd give to young people wanting to enter the law enforcement field. But let me give it a try. To be a good cop, the first things that pop to mind is that it helps to be patient, observant, intuitive, and to be careful and methodical when reaching conclusions. And a thick skin is a must, because you'll be insulted to the max and questioned by everyone; the criminals, the victims, the general public, your supervisors, lawyers, judges, and the court system.

"To serve and protect" isn't just a phrase; it is what every police officer must remind him or herself of from time to time, as dealing with the dregs of society all the time can sorely test the commitment and patience of even the most dedicated officers. The idealism and "romance" of the job wears off pretty quickly, but the desire for fairness and justice should be what remains.

The best thing about being a cop: You get the chance to help people to make wrong things right, even if in just a small way. You get to help get the predators off the street. You get to see the news behind the news. You get to go to many places and see many things the average person would never see. The benefits were excellent; health insurance, sick days, retirement, etc. Sometimes you get to meet famous people and. let's face it, the uniform was a woman magnet. I had to say that last one, as I'm sure my readership expected it of me and I have a reputation to live up to and all that.

The worst things about being a cop: Shitty hours, inadequate pay, inadequate understanding from the public of the job we did. Stress and burnout is also rampant in police work -- it seems as if there are lots of cops who either have drinking/drug problems or depression, or both. Because we dealt with people who were not functioning at their best, it's all too easy for shitty attitudes and prejudices to creep into one's psyche, and it's essential to fight the tendency to take a dim view of humanity in general and some groups in particular. Finally, there's the "good ol' boy" system and dealing with some coworkers. The "good ol' boys" in police work are old veterans who are suspicious of new innovations in law enforcement procedures, who tend to be less educated, more racist, more sexist, and so on. The second type of problem employees are those with authority issues. Police work tends to attract a lot of people with low self-esteem who take the job because it will put them in the one-up position over others for the first time in their lives. Both types of officers make the job harder to do for the rest of the force.

It's an experience I'd never trade, as it has changed me in many positive ways and matured and tempered my political beliefs, but I have no desire to return to this type of work.

5. Instead of loving one, you love many. When you are looking for one to love, who would be perfect? Imagine that perfect lover, emotionally, physically, etc. Who is she? What is she like? Whether it's for one chance meeting, or someone you see multiple times, who would you love to make love to?

First, I'd correct that and say that I don't "love" many; I merely have sex with many. I'm a libertine, not a polyamorist. Though I give away my body freely and, as some would say, rather indiscriminately, I don't give away my heart that easily. I'm much more private with my emotions than with my body, which is the reverse of a lot of people.

To me, sex and love are two different things that sometimes coincide, and that's a good thing. But I see the value of both things separately; they don't always have to come together to be worth pursuing. I recognize that I'm not going to love everyone I have sex with, and that works well for me.

I don't look for "perfection". I'm not perfect, so why should I expect my lovers to be? Rather, I look more for someone whose imperfections mesh well with my own, someone with whom we can tolerate each other's imperfections. And I happen to think that a perfect person would be boring and intolerable.

But I'm guessing what you're really getting at here is "suitable" rather than perfect. Depending on what the nature of our relationship is: a one time deal, an occasional fuckbuddy, a friend with benefits, or a more serious relationship involving love, I look for different things. That is, I'm more particular about what I'm looking for the further I go up the frequency, duration, and emotional level. For a one time deal, she only needs to be clean and meet a very minimum standard of intelligence and attractiveness. A fuckbuddy should be congenial and be talented and open minded sexually. A friend with benefits should be someone with whom I can hold an intelligent conversation, be occasionally available for dinner or a movie, etc. The more serious, emotional, "primary" relationships should be with a woman who cares about me, accepts me as I am, is intelligent and aware, has a similar worldview to mine, has a sense of humor, be down to earth, likes animals, is emotionally stable and mature, and who is independent.

My current primary lover is a woman many years younger than me who is a teacher and we've been seeing one another for a few years now. We get along well and it's a comfortable relationship for both of us.

Like all men, I have my preferences for a physical type, but this aspect isn't as important to me as it is for most men. I've been with the gorgeous, high-maintenance types and I've been with women who would be most kindly described as "homely". And you know what? More often than not, I have a better time, sexually and otherwise, with the less than physically perfect women. In my vast experience, I've learned that sexiness is an attitude first and foremost, and not so much one's appearance, though that can play a part.

A lot of men don't know what they're missing by limiting potential dates to the most "eye-appealing" women. As my relationships with women are to please me and not to impress other men, I cast my net in a much wider pool than does the average guy.

Ok, you asked which type of women that I'm most attracted to, appearance wise. What catches my eye first, is a woman on the tall side with dark, straight or wavy hair, with blue or green eyes, large breasts, on the buxom side. Think Sophia Loren in her prime (though I think she's got brown eyes). But I like all kinds of women: short, tall, medium, fat, thin, muscular, young, mature, red hair, black hair, brown hair, blond hair. Let's face it, I just like women, period, and nearly every woman has something attractive about her. Sometimes you just need to take the time to look for it.

Thanks again, Minda, for your questions, and I hope I answered them to your satisfaction. I think King of Ankh was going to ask me some questions as well -- feel free to do so as long as they don't exactly duplicate Minda's questions and I'll do another post with those questions.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

On Call?

Not long ago, when I was on my day off, my cell phone rang. I looked at the number calling and saw that it was coming from my place of employment. Because I am not paid to be "on call" and because my job is in no way an essential, critical position such as a doctor, nurse, and the like, I felt no guilt in ignoring the call. They don't pay me enough to give a shit to come in on my day off if they happen to be shorthanded. It was my day off and there was no way that work was going to intrude on my personal time.

I guard my time and my privacy carefully. My land line phone is never hooked up unless I am using it to initiate an outgoing call. I don't answer my cell phone unless I recognize the number and I want to speak to that person at that time. If I'm in bed for the night, taking a nap, or having sex, I'll even shut the cell phone off entirely, so I don't have to be annoyed by the incessant ringing. My phone has voice mail capability, so if something comes in that is important, I can return calls later on at my leisure if I so choose.

Before the advent of cell phones, if an employer happened to call someone who wasn't paid to be on call who wasn't home, they were just out of luck. I just make sure that this still holds true in my case. If I'm not scheduled, I'm not available. Period.


Saturday, April 7, 2007

Zero Tolerance Idiocy

The other day at work, a coworker about my age and I were talking about our respective high school years; about how glad we were to graduate. He said that graduating was like getting out of jail and I agreed, saying it was like being liberated from a POW camp.

But then I noted seriously that things were really a lot easier when we went to school, before the advent of "zero tolerance" policies. At least in our day, teachers and administrators had discretion in setting and enforcing school rules and the punishments usually bore some appropriate relation to the offense.

Blockheaded zero tolerance policies, on the other hand, hamstring school officials and the mandatory rigid application of such rules often result in either absurd, or more often, unfortunate results. Students today are ending up with juvenile records for minor infractions that would have been handled on a case by case business during my school years with a note home, in-school detention, and the like.

Some examples of zero tolerance idiocy include:

Kids have been kicked out of school for possession of Midol, Tylenol, Alka Seltzer, cough drops and Scope mouthwash - contraband that violates zero-tolerance, anti-drug policies. Students have been expelled for Halloween costumes that included paper swords and fake spiked knuckles, as well as for possessing rubber bands, slingshots, water pistols and toy guns - all violations of anti-weapons policies.

An 11-year-old died of asthma because his school's zero tolerance policy prevented him from carrying an inhaler. (The New York Times, November 19, 2002.)

Shanon Coslet , a 10-year-old at Twin Peaks Charter Academy in Longmont, Colo., was expelled because her mother had put a small knife in her lunchbox to cut an apple. When Shanon realized the knife might violate the school's zero-tolerance policy, she turned it in to a teacher, who told her she had done the right thing. The child was expelled.

A six year old little boy was charged with "sexual harassment" for kissing one of his female classmates on the cheek.

Has the world gone crazy? Treating good kids who commit minor rules infractions in the same way one would handle a hardcore juvenile criminal cannot accomplish anything positive, either for the student or for the school. School officials should once again be free to set and enforce common-sense rules, using discretion on a case by case basis. The zero tolerance philosophy should be abandoned as a failed, unworkable approach to discipline.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Liberal, But Not Trendy

I'm a liberal and I've always considered myself to be pretty open minded. Some conservatives think this means that liberal, open minded people always accept anything and everything that comes down the pike uncritically. They have been known to point out that one's mind shouldn't be so open that one's brains fall out.

But it's not necessarily so. To be liberal is not at all the same thing as being trendy. In my own case, I've never been one to jump on bandwagons, to do anything because "everybody's doing it." In fact, I have a strong contrary streak, which many times has made me more determined NOT to do something simply because it's currently trendy.

As a liberal, I've always been open to considering new things, and especially unconventional things. But I've always evaluated things for myself and have never done anything simply because "everybody's doing it". If it doesn't appeal to me, or I don't think there's logical justification for it, I don't do it.

This was a fortunate attitude for me during my adolescence, as I was able to avoid getting involved in the drug scene, smoking, or breaking the law. My newly widowed father was also able to leave me unsupervised without any fear that I'd burn the house down.

But being a liberal, I do not begrudge others the right to be trendy, even when I'd never choose it for myself. If something works well for me, I'll stick with it,with no apology. If it isn't "broke", I don't feel the need to fix it. If somethings new comes along that makes sense to me, I'll go for it, regardless of how many other people, if any, do likewise.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Sex Objects?

As my regular readers know, I sometimes like to listen to talk radio when I'm driving around in the car. On Sunday, the station I listen to has several religious segments, which I many times listen to simply to get a handle on what the other side thinks and to use as a source of blogging fodder.

Yesterday, I was listening to this one guy talking about his disapproval of casual sex, saying that it was wrong to treat women like "sex objects", instead of as "whole people". Interestingly, however, he didn't have anything to say about women who might treat men like "sex objects". I'm guessing that in his cocooned fundie world, women never initiate sex, but are all sitting around passively waiting to react, rather than act.

As I listened, I considered the notion of "sex objects". I've heard the concept before from feminists, though it was the first time I'd heard it addressed from the perspective of religious fundamentalism.

I concede that in a long term committed relationship this argument has merit, but I don't agree that this makes casual sex inherently wrong. The sole point of a one night stand or a fuckbuddy relationship is sex, so of course it makes one's partner into a "sex object". I fully realize that my partners are "whole people" who are about more than just sex, but their non-sexual selves are irrelevant in this context, as the connection is solely for the purpose of sex. I don't see why this is such a problem if both parties are on the same page and understand the nature of the relationship.

It's just like how a minister is a "religion object", a doctor is a "health care object", a teacher is an "education object", or the people we get together with regularly to bowl, go fishing, or play poker with are "entertainment objects", and so on. We all have people with whom we interact on a regular basis for a sole or limited purposes, and don't get to know them in their totality as "whole people". Why should it be any different for sex for those of us not in committed, daily, domestic relationships?