Thursday, August 30, 2007

Some Thoughts on Global Warming

What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?
-- Henry David Thoreau

There are people who take a scornful view of environmentalism and of global warming in particular, with some summarily dismissing it out of hand. The rejection of global warming theory seems to take two main threads, the first that takes the view that the idea of global warming is overblown and alarmist:

“The Earth's climate has always shown natural variation … There is nothing to suggest that any warming we are seeing now is not part of that natural cycle.”
--Richard Lindzen

The second reaction is based on a fear that environmentalism might interfere with the pursuit of profit:

“Anti-global warming activism … is based on a horror of capitalism, a hatred of the 'wasteful' choice that such a system creates, and a loathing of the profits that are the engine of growth."
--Dominic Lawson

Personally, I don't know if the horrific predictions about global warming are accurate, either in whole or in part. In this instance, I really hope that those who believe global warming to be an incorrect theory are correct. But I think it's arrogant and short-sighted to stick one's fingers in one's ears and insist categorically that it doesn't exist. The prudent thing to do is to take it seriously and to back further research into it, for causes and possible solutions. If the environmentalists are wrong, and it turns out to be just a natural climate cycle, after all, all we've lost is some money, which can be made again.

But if the environmentalists are correct, making the wrong choice will mean that our descendants will not have a planet to make money on.

I'd say it's better to pay now and make money later than to make money now and pay later.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Where There's Smoke, There's Usually Fire

In a press conference held yesterday, Idaho Senator Larry Craig declared that "I am not gay. I never have been gay." This is despite the fact that he pleaded guilty to a charge of soliciting for sex in an airport rest room earlier this summer.

Craig claims that his guilty plea was a "mistake", and that the police officer "misconstrued" his behavior in the rest room. "While I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct in the Minneapolis Airport or anywhere else, I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in hopes of making it go away," he claimed. He added that he didn't tell his friends, family and staff about what happened, nor did he hire a lawyer. "I wasn't eager to share this failure but I should have anyway because I am not gay."

This incident was not an isolated one for the Republican senator. There has been frequent speculation about Craig's sexual orientation since the 1980s, thought not concrete proof. Last fall, the Idaho Statesman had started an investigation into Craig's sexual orientation after reading a blogger's accusation that the Senator was gay.

One man came forward to the Statesman to claim he'd had sexual contact with Craig in a men's room in a Washington, D.C. rail station in 2004. Another man said Craig made a sexual advance toward him at the University of Idaho in 1967. The Statesman also explored dozens of allegations that proved untrue, unclear or unverifiable.

Hmm, it seems to me that where there's smoke, there's usually a fire. I'd say he's either fooling himself or trying to fool everyone else by saying he's not gay. And it's a sad and pathetic thing to have lived a lie all these years, instead of accepting who he is.

What bothers me here isn't what he did in that airport (and likely elsewhere). What bothers me is the denial and the hypocrisy.

As is often the case when a political figure is outed, Craig's record indicates a series of votes against gay rights and support of a 2006 amendment to the Idaho Constitution that bars gay marriage and civil unions.

Craig is up for re-election next year and it would seem as if he intends to run again. "Over the years, I have accomplished a lot for Idaho, and I hope Idahoans will allow me to continue to do that," he said. He had harsh words for the Idaho Statesman, accusing them of conducting a "witch hunt".

Craig doesn't get it. The negative attention he's getting now isn't because he's gay. It's because he's a dishonest hypocrite.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Inherited Personality Traits?

My son has had his new car only for two weeks now, but he's washed it at least half a dozen times. He went to Wal Mart, and bought all sorts of specialized paraphernalia meant to maximize car washing effectiveness, including a chamois, a big, fuzzy glove, some thing that looked like blue Medusa hair, and several other things.

Seeing all of this stuff, combined with the frequent car washing reminded me strongly of my brother. When my brother was about my son's age, he had a Porsche 911S that he washed almost every day with a similar variety of car washing paraphernalia. I can remember our mother teasing him, telling him that he'd wash all the paint off the car if he kept washing it so often.

Besides this, my son displays a lot of my brother's ways. Neither of them are overly tidy when it comes to general housecleaning habits, but when it comes to their personal belongings, both are meticulous. Both are fussy about how their electronic equipment is handled; I can remember my brother lecturing me about the proper way to handle an LP record and now I see my son being similarly careful with his CDs and DVDs.

Both are creative, musically and artistically. I share the musical talent with them, but I have no talents whatsoever for the visual arts. They are both rather private people, not backslapping, "one of the guys" types. They tend to take an avoidant approach to conflict -- most of the time.

But the thing is, my son doesn't know my brother, really. They've met a handful of times in my son's life and have never spent any extended length of time together. He most definitely hasn't picked up my brother's ways from observation.

We all know that physical traits are inherited. Is it possible that personality traits are in the genes as well?


Monday, August 27, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

Like several members of the Bush administration before him, the highly incompetent Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has finally stepped down.

Is it just me, or have an unusually large number of Bush administration members jumped ship just like rats off the Titanic? The Titanic -- what an appropriate metaphor for the entire Bush presidency.

Now, if someone could persuade Dick Cheney to pull an "Agnew" and to resign the Vice-Presidency. Getting rid of him would be worth more than all the others who have resigned before him.

January 20, 2009 can't come fast enough, in my opinion.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Another Two Cents on the Vick Case

I thought I was through with ranting about the Michael Vick case, but after listening to Neal Boortz tonight, I've got to throw in my two cents yet again.

A caller to the show said they hoped that Vick would get a lifetime ban from the NFL. Boortz disagreed, saying that such a punishment would be too harsh, that he couldn't understand why his likely punishment of a year in jail and the loss of income from the NFL wouldn't be sufficient.

He noted that Vick would be losing a year's playing time while sitting in prison only getting to "watch football on TV", and not getting to play. He went on to bemoan the "tens of millions of dollars" Vick would lose while being incarcerated. Boortz was also concerned about how Vick would manage to make a living if he couldn't play for the NFL anymore.

Cry me a river, Neal. For one thing, in just a few years, Vick has made more money than the average person could ever hope to make in a lifetime. If he's pissed all of those millions away and not invested large portions of that money, then it's on him. Boortz would certainly spare no sympathy for the average non-famous person who was out of a job and/or sent to prison and who had failed to save for a rainy day. He'd simply call those people "losers" as he is so often wont to do when referring to the average down-and-outer.

Similarly, I doubt Boortz would worry about how the average criminal was going to make a living once leaving prison and facing the typical employment discrimination the average ex-con faces. I'd tell Vick the same thing Boortz would tell Joe Schmo the parolee, "If you can't do the time, then don't do the crime".

Let's get one thing straight. Michael Vick isn't the victim here. He killed helpless dogs by torturing them to death in a particularly cruel and heinous fashion. Some people might say that they were only dogs, but psychological studies have shown time and time again that people who abuse animals are quite likely to move on and eventually do the same to humans. If Vick had been arrested only for the gambling, I'd not have a problem with his reinstatement to the NFL after he'd done his time and/or paid his fines.

But Michael Vick isn't your garden-variety pro-sports miscreant; he's an extremely sick individual. I have absolutely no sympathy for him and I don't give a flying fuck about his football career or his millions of dollars. He did this to himself and he threw away his privileged position as a professional football player. No one did this to him. His return to the NFL would be an insult to the NFL, to the fans, and to other football players.


The Lovely and Talented Chica-X

This new template was created for me by the lovely and talented Chica X, who also did my template over at EFX2. She's a very talented young woman who has designed templates for a number of people both at Blogger and EFX2.

To see my blog design at EFX2, click here

To visit Chica's blog, click here

Over the next several days, I'll be adding elements to this blog, as well as trying to move the vast bulk of entries over from my other blogs.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Should "Droopy Drawers" Be Banned in Public?

Atlanta City Councilman C.T. Martin has introduced legislation that would ban clothing that shows off underwear; boxers, thongs, sports bras or even bra straps. However, his main focus would be to ban "droopy drawers"; that is, wearing baggy pants that hang around one's thighs exposing the underwear.

“I don’t think women should have to see that. I don’t think young girls should have to see that. I don’t think children should have to see that,”
Martin told Ann Curry when being interviewed on the Today Show.

Though I agree with Martin that the droopy drawers style is in poor taste and has the potential to be offensive to some, I cannot support any sort of a ban on those who would choose to wear this style in public. Despite it being a completely obnoxious fashion statement, it does not expose the genitals, thus cannot be legally classified as "indecent". Tasteless, yes; indecent, no. And the last time I checked, there were no laws against simple bad taste.

An employer might legitimately ban the wearing of saggy, underwear-showing pants, but there's no justification for outlawing what people wear on their own time in public.

And as a former police officer, I have to mention that this style made it much easier to catch suspects -- wearing baggy pants with crotches hanging down around one's knees makes it a whole lot harder to run from the police!


Friday, August 24, 2007

Lying Like a Rug

There's a new guy at work who has been there for about two weeks. As soon as I met him, I realized he was a bit "off", but I couldn't quite determine just what it was. But it didn't take me long to figure out exactly what his problem was.

He's a pathological liar.

In the short time he's been there, he's told me and other coworkers that he's just living in the projects while his 500,000 dollar home is being built. Though he drives a garden-variety POS to work, he's told everyone that his other car is a top of the line Jaguar. His latest lie is that he's really a bounty hunter working undercover.

And he says all this shit with a straight face, actually expecting people to believe him.

He's not the first pathological liar I've ever known. When I was a kid, there was a girl living across the street who was Queen of the Whoppers. I remember one time her telling me that when her family had taken a vacation to Washington, DC, that they'd visited the White House and she got to sit on President Kennedy's lap and that he told her mother that she was a beautiful little girl. Never mind that she was only three years old when Kennedy was assassinated and wasn't old enough to have remembered something like that, even if it had been true. Even as a kid, I knew such a story could not possibly be true -- nearly every time she opened her mouth, my bullshit detector went off.

A person who regularly tells such obvious lies with no apparent motivation, no doubt has a psychological problem. Pathological lying, also known as mythomania would seem to me to be an extreme bid for attention, as I don't see any other reason to engage in such behavior. Unlike other types of lying, there is nothing really to be gained by it. Also, the lies typically uttered by such people are usually so fantastic as to be immediately discernible as falsehoods by all but the most gullible sorts of people.

Have any of you ever known a pathological liar?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Simpson Book To Be Published, After All

It was recently announced that OJ Simpson's tell-all book manuscript, "If I Did It", which was scrapped before publication last year, will now be published, after all.

A federal judge last month gave the rights to the book to murder victim Ron Goldman's family, who are owed $33.5 million in damages by Simpson.

Simpson was acquitted of murder charges in criminal court, but was found liable for the deaths in a civil case brought by the victims' families. Simpson has vowed to never voluntarily pay damages to the families, and, to this date, the Goldman family has never received a penny of the money owed them.

The manuscript will be published exactly as Simpson wrote it, but with added commentary. Portions of the proceeds will be contributed to the Ron Goldman Foundation for Justice. Simpson will not receive any royalties from the book.

The Goldmans will be required to give a court-appointed trustee 10 percent of the first $4 million in gross proceeds and a percentage of all proceeds beyond that. Nicole Brown's family will get most of that money.

Some people I've talked about this to believe that it is wrong for the Goldmans to benefit in any way from this book; that it is crass and tasteless; that it will not bring back their son.

I'm of two minds on this. Yes, nothing will bring back their son, but it would seem as if this is the only justice the Goldmans are ever going to get. Simpson was acquitted of the murders in criminal court -- when I was in law enforcement, I saw people convicted on far less evidence than what was presented in his trial. So far as Simpson not paying the 33.5 million that he owes, he claims to be "bankrupt", despite a new home in Florida, his NFL pension, and that he apparently spends most of his time golfing and doesn't seem to need a job to support himself.

I don't intend to buy the book, but if some good can come from the proceeds that are donated to charity, then some justice, however small, will have been attained.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Exercise Your Mind

I'm a bibliophile. I've loved to read pretty much since I've been able to pick up a book. Able to read for myself since age four, I've always had a book in progress ever since. As a kid, I brought a book to the dinner table and it didn't matter what it was. I can remember going through our family's set of encyclopedias, volume by volume, at around age ten.

As an adult, I read about 75 percent non-fiction and 25 percent fiction. What I'm interesting in reading goes in spells -- I'll read lots of one type of book for months, then I'll get a taste for something else and the first type will go on the backburner until my interest is piqued for that type of book again. In non-fiction, just one or two books about a particular topic isn't enough -- I have to read everything I can get my hands on about it. For example, I own over 25 biographies of Harry Truman. The way I see it, every author takes a slightly different slant on the topic and includes some information another author missed.

As a libertine bibliophile, I'm in good company, as the most well-known libertine of all time, Casanova, was even a librarian in his last years.

I know there are many people who don't like to read; that they consider reading to be a chore or even work. This baffles me, as reading is as easy as breathing to me and it has provided hours of enjoyment over the years. It's stimulated my imagination and allowed me to "travel" to different times and places I could never go to in real life. I also credit my avid reading with my ability to write -- after so many books, writing simply rubbed off on me by osmosis.

I even know people who actively scorn reading. I once worked with a young man who bragged he'd not read a book since leaving school. I looked at him and said I'd never brag about being a dumbass in public like that.

So, I was not surprised when I recently read that one in four Americans had read no books at all last year. And even among those who had read something last year, the typical person claimed to have read four books — half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn't read at all, the usual number read was only seven. A measly amount, compared to the dozens of books I read each year.

It makes me wonder what these people do to exercise their minds -- if they do at all. If they don't, it explains a lot of things wrong with this country.

At a time when everyone is jumping on the bandwagon about physical fitness, few are alarmed about the erosion of mental fitness in our society. Though many harp on the dangers of being physically unfit, I'm guessing a nation of physically fit intellectual lightweights isn't going to do the country a whole lot of good, either.

Pick up a book and read something today.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Fundamentalist Bizarreness

While listening to talk radio for blogging fodder last night, I tuned to the Focus on the Family show. This organization is so diametrically opposed to my worldview, that I usually listen in stunned amazement, much in the same way one rubbernecks a trainwreck.

When I tuned in, they were interviewing this woman who made the assertion that if a couple was not ready to have children, then they shouldn't get married, either. She said that they should wait until they are ready for children or to call off the marriage altogether.

Where to begin?

For one thing, the vast majority of people, even Christians, do not wait until their wedding nights to first have sex, especially considering that most people don't get married until a decade and more beyond when they go through puberty. They need to wake up and acknowledge reality.

Secondly, there IS such a thing as birth control. And this applies to the few that wait until marriage to have sex as well. A woman who waits until her wedding night can get herself on the pill a month or two before her wedding day, so there's no excuse for getting pregnant before you are ready. Similarly, men can use condoms.

Married or single, there's no reason for anyone to have children before they are ready.

Thirdly, many people don't want to have kids at all, but they do want to get married for whatever reason. To say that people should not get married until they're ready to have children is to say that marriage and, by extension, sex is only for the purposes of procreation.

Conversely, there are also people who want kids, but don't want to be married.

Focus on the Family has other similar, bizarre ideas about marriage and sex on their website. For instance, one article says it's a good idea to get married just so that you can have sex:

Sexual sin is serious business, resulting in severe spiritual, physical, emotional and relational consequences. God's best antidote is marriage. Just because our culture seems to think it's fine to wait until you're nearly thirty years old to take this step doesn't mean you should ignore what you know is obvious: God designed you for sexual relations; God limits all sexual activity to marriage; and if you're finding it difficult to control yourself sexually, He gives clear advice: Find somebody to marry.

I don't know about you, but I think getting married just so you can get laid is a pretty poor reason and a recipe for later divorce.

I think it's much more sensible to engage in safe sex either with one partner at a time or a variety of partners when you're single, so that when and if you are ready to marry, you will do so for the right reasons and not just because you're so horny you're about to burst.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday Happenings

Today, I went to the annual book sale put on by the Greenville Literacy Association, which works to foster adult literacy in the community through tutoring and other efforts. I'd meant to go last year, but forgot to ask off from work to do so. So, I made a point of attending this year.

I'd wanted to get an early start, but it's very difficult for me to get up early in the morning, so I didn't get there until about 3 hours after it began. After I got there, I'd wished I could have been there when they opened the doors, as several sections were already fairly well picked through when I got to them.

Though general fiction books were overrepresented, I still managed to leave with five books, one of which I'd been particularly hunting for, all at good prices. The lover who accompanied me left considerably more loaded down than I was.

My only real complaint was that the building was not sufficiently air-conditioned and I was sweating like a dockworker by the time I was ready to leave. I made the suggestion that they hold next year's sale in November, as I'd have stayed and looked longer if it had been cooler in there.


It seems as if a comment I made at the Alternet website was chosen as one of the 10 Best Comments of the Week:

Reader's Ten Best Comments of the Week


In the last week while driving around town, I've noticed many trees whose leaves are changing color, into fall yellows and oranges. It appears that the trees are as eager for fall to arrive as the rest of us are.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Leap of Faith

When my son first told me he wanted to buy a new car and that he'd need a co-signer, I have to admit I was quite reluctant to do so. With my precarious financial situation and without any promising job prospects on the horizon, I knew that if my son ever had any trouble making his car payment, I'd not be able to take over the payments. I knew that if this happened, the car would be repossessed, leaving my credit in shambles.

It wasn't that I didn't trust my son to take his responsibility seriously. I knew that he would; he's matured greatly over the last few years. He's been recently hired at a new company at a decent starting salary and will get regular scheduled raises for the first year or two, that will make the car easier to pay for over time. He'd also been on his previous job for six years, which shows great stability.

Unlike many single people his age, he doesn't go clubbing each weekend, nor does he drink or do drugs. He's avoided getting himself into credit trouble, declining every credit card offer made to him. Nor has he ever gotten into any trouble with the law.

My major concern was with the financial health of his new employer. In our uncertain economy, it's not an uncommon thing for a company to go out of business, so the possibility of my son's employer going belly-up was largely behind my reluctance to be a co-signer.

Nevertheless, I took a leap of faith and signed the papers for my son's car anyway.

Later, after it was all said and done, he came up to me and hugged me. "Thank you for trusting me," he said. "I love you."

At that moment, my misgivings vanished and I knew it would be all right. I could almost sense my father looking on in approval from the afterlife. Until that moment, I hadn't known how important it was to my son for me to believe in him in this way.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Libertine Avatars

Since I began blogging a few years ago, I've made avatars of myself on various sites. Following are the ones currently in my collection:

These are my Yahoo IM avatars

This is "Libertine Simpson"

This is an Elouai "doll"

I forget where this one came from

South Park Libertine

Three small avatars from Abi-Station

I enjoy making these icons and avatars of myself. The Yahoo avatars actually look quite a bit like me. Feel free to post any of yourself in the comments and let me know of any avatar making sites I might have missed. And don't forget to vote for which avatar of me you like best.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Quotes and Comments

The sinning is the best part of repentance.
~Arab Proverb

What repentance? The best part is to keep on sinning!

It's pretty hard to be efficient without being obnoxious.
~Kin Hubbard

Those aiming for perfection tend toward anal-retentiveness

In every age "the good old days" were a myth. No one ever thought they were good at the time. For every age has consisted of crises that seemed intolerable to the people who lived through them.
~Brooks Atkinson

With the passage of time, good memories tend to become exaggerated and bad one tend to fade.

Few great men could pass personnel.
~Paul Goodman

Most human resource, aka personnel, departments over-rely on people's resumes; how they look on paper, more than the person themselves.

The good die young - because they see it's no use living if you've got to be good.
~John Barrymore

Life is meant to be enjoyed and it's more fun off the beaten path than on the straight and narrow.

Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and be silent.

Do what's right for you and allow others to make that decision for themselves.

Filling out job applications is so depressing. I was filling one out the other day and I got to the part that says "Sex?" Well, I prefer to 'F', but I'm usually alone, so I had to circle 'M'.

Fortunately, this isn't my problem.

Anybody who believes that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach flunked geography.
~Robert Byrne

It's a bit....lower...for me.

Give me chastity and continence, but not just now.
Saint Augustine (354-430)
Confessions, 397-401, VIII, 7

I've seen this particular prayer referred to elsewhere as "The Libertine's Prayer".

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Better Than I Thought

My son bought his first brand new car this week. As he had no real credit, good or bad, I was asked to co-sign for him.

I didn't expect the dealership to accept this, considering that my son now makes quite a bit more money than I do. Plus I had a bankruptcy in 1993 and since losing the best-paying job I ever had three years ago, I've been struggling along in a job that pays quite a bit less than what I was making before. I'm still paying off bills I incurred while I was working at that job and it's been a slow, tedious process.

To my surprise, they accepted the application with no trouble and my son got a good deal that should work well with his budget. When I told them of my misgivings, they said that I actually had a very good credit score -- 733. Not too shabby for someone who's been through the financial scrapes that I've been through in recent years.

Anyway, I'm happy to see him so tickled with his first brand new car. He did better than I did -- I didn't get my first new car until I was 42.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Courtesy Doesn't Have a Weight Limit

"Weight obsession is a social disease. If we cared more about CO2 than BMI there would still be time."

Though an avowed liberal, I regularly listen to libertarian Neal Boortz' talk show. I agree with him about forty percent of the time, primarily his opinions about privacy and civil rights. He's a guy I either agree with wholeheartedly or he's pissing me off bigtime. There's no middle ground with Boortz.

Boortz often talks about the problem of obesity in this country. I have no problem with this, as it's a legitimate health issue. His focus on the issue is usually his assertion that fat people overburden the health care system and are a main reason why there's so much wrong with our health care system today. Another variation on this theme is that they're a primary reason why he believes that a national health care system ("socialized medicine" to use his words) would be impractical and unworkable in the US. In other words, he talks about the issue as a economic one -- he's not overly concerned with the health of fat people for their own sake, but rather, he's more afraid that his tax dollars might go to help someone else, whom he believes bring their health problems upon themselves.

Setting aside the idea that overweight exists for a variety of reasons, not all of them self-induced, I'm less than impressed with his argument when one considers that he rarely, if ever, castigates smokers, alcoholics, drug addicts, and others who engage in risky behaviors. After all, these behaviors are a cause of many illnesses: cancer (which is the biggest health problem today, bar none), emphysema, other lung disorders, cirrhosis of the liver, anorexia, TB etc. And these are behaviors that are completely self-chosen -- a smoker and a drinker can completely quit cold turkey, but an overeater cannot totally give up food.

But what's worse is how he presents his views. Instead of discussing the problem in a rational, non-emotional manner, he chooses to engage in ad hominem attacks on all fat people, typically using his favorite term "lardasses". With all the self-righteousness of a fat man who has lost several pounds (though he's still far, far from being skinny), he demonizes fat people as worthless losers, undeserving of any respect or common courtesy simply because they are fat and for no other reason.

I don't know about you, but I wasn't brought up to believe that courtesy has a weight limit. Nor was I raised to believe that good manners should only be exhibited toward perfect people.

While it no doubt would be a good thing if most fat people could lose weight and keep it off, this is hardly a moral issue making someone a bad person. We all have our crosses to bear in this life -- not one of us is perfect. Some of us eat too much, some smoke too much, some drink too much, some of us are assholes, some of us are stupid, some of us are greedy and so on. We all have things about us that need improvement. And I don't see why one person's types of flaws should be "better" than another person's shortcomings..

I'm not a fat man, but I sure as hell am a lazy one! And there are those who would consider my promiscuity a character flaw, though I obviously don't. Yet, I am not subject to repeated public scorn for these traits, as fat people are for theirs. I don't read articles or watch TV where people are constantly bemoaning the increase of "lazyasses" in America, nor do I have strangers catcall "Horndog!" at me when I walk past them in a store.

The right way to approach this issue is to provide common sense information about healthy eating and the benefits of exercise, to call for healthy foods that are more affordable, low-cost gyms, and so on, not to humiliate people who have weight problems. People like Boortz who get off on trashing fat people tell us more about their own shortcomings and insecurities than they do those whom they condemn.

Karma is a bitch and I'm hoping that Boortz gains back all the weight he lost and then some. But I'm guessing that not even this would teach him any humility.


To see the level of self-righteous viciousness that some people descend to in attacking fat people, read the comments following this article. I'm guessing that none of these commenters are perfect people in a position to judge the shortcomings of others.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Shitty Rant

I woke up several hours earlier than I cared to this morning, not feeling well. As the day progressed, my vague malaise developed into full-blown dysentery. Not only was I running back and forth to the bathroom, I felt decidedly woozy.

Because the forecast predicated another sweltering triple-digit day, I thought that it would be better for me to stay home under the air-conditioner, near the toilet, rather than to go out with little sleep, an upset stomach, and a system depleted from repeated diarrhea.

So, I called in to inform them of that fact and I was told that I couldn't be out unless I had a "doctor's excuse". I don't know about you, but I don't know anyone who goes to the doctor for diarrhea. All I wanted to do was avoid the sun, rest and stay near a toilet until it ran its course. Not every ailment that indicates that a person should stay home necessarily needs a doctor's care.

I also resented the hell out of this because my job doesn't provide any health insurance whatsoever -- I can't be running back and forth to the doctor for every small ailment, considering that I have to pay full price out of my pocket every time I visit. If it's something that will pass on its own, I prefer to treat myself with common sense methods at home and save money, especially considering the pittance I earn each week. It's also not logical to assume that if an ailment doesn't require a doctor's attention that a person is therefore fit to work.

If I had a job in an office where I was seated to do my work with a desk near a restroom, I'd have gone to work, no problem. But in my job, I spend large amounts of time with no convenient access to a rest room, so that changes the situation completely in my book.

And it's not as if I'm providing some vital service -- they'd have survived a day without me, I'm sure. Indeed, when I did have a job that was a vital service, I had a much easier time taking a day off when I was sick.

So, I was obliged to drag my weary, worn-out ass to work and suffer through a shift and several more bathroom expeditions. I was sorely tempted to take a shit on the floor and say, "See! I told you I was sick!"


Friday, August 10, 2007

"Healthy" vs. "Conventional"

The other night while listening to the radio, a woman called in to dedicate a song to her husband. The woman mentioned that she and her husband had been having problems because she had been giving her phone number out to other men when they went to clubs.

The host told her that she needed counseling to "fix what was 'broken' inside her" so that she could "have a healthy relationship".

Well, I agree that the woman has a problem -- but it's not that she's nuts or has something "broken inside her".

The woman's problem is the lack of HONESTY, both with herself and with her husband, not necessarily her inability to be monogamous. First, it seems she is not squarely facing the fact that she is likely not the monogamous type and would have been better off remaining single to pursue a non-monogamous lifestyle.

Secondly, she wasn't honest with her husband when she entered into a conventional marriage, promising to be monogamous. If she'd been upfront with him about her natural inclinations, then he'd have nothing to complain about, but if she didn't, it isn't his fault if he expected her to follow the traditional vows.

I'm sure that the radio host meant that counseling would help her to "have a healthy relationship" in that she'd learn to settle down into monogamy. But I would say that counseling would help her to have "healthy" relationships once she learned to be honest with herself and with others. It might not help fix the marriage that she's in if they can't come to an agreement about the monogamy issue, but it would help with any relationships in the future.

Let us not confuse what is "healthy" with what is conventional or traditional. The ability to be honest and genuine is a mark of mental health that will serve a person well whether they choose an unconventional lifestyle or if they decide to enter into a traditional relationship.


Thursday, August 9, 2007

Odds and Ends in August

The next time I decide to have sex outside in the summertime, would someone please hit me upside the head and remind me of this post?

I won't go into too much explicit detail here, but the other night I got the urge and called up a lover to see if she could help me out. She told me that she wasn't at home and wouldn't be for awhile, but that she could meet me somewhere.

To make a long story short, we ended up doing the deed outside against her car. When I got home, I realized that my ass and legs were covered in mosquito bites. Very itchy mosquito bites. And trying to scratch that many bites with just my fingers simply wasn't getting the job done. So I got an old hair brush and went to town on myself with that to get some relief. I ended up spending that night periodically scratching like a hound.

I'm still itching some -- the hot weather we've been having hasn't helped things at all.

Speaking of the weather, we had our first triple-digit high temperature of the summer today. The official high temperature was 104F, which set a record. The lowest temperature of the day also set a record for being the highest low temperature. Unfortunately, the weatherman predicted more of the same for tomorrow, with no rain in sight.

It was so hot today that I thought I saw a guy wearing a red suit and carrying a pitchfork as I drove around town.

Despite it being almost too hot to breathe, let along eat, this didn't stop the usual crop of idiots from ordering pizza. We could have had alien invaders marching down our town's main street, and these cretins would still be ordering pizza. Hell, I'd not be surprised if the aliens would order pizza to be delivered to their spaceship as well!

I managed to get through the night without completely melting into a greasy puddle, but when I got home, I had to literally peel the sweaty clothes off my body. I'd left the air-conditioning on when I'd left the house, so that the cats wouldn't get too hot while I was gone. So, at least I got cool quickly enough once I'd divested myself of my nasty clothes.

While listening to a radio talk show tonight, one caller said "incentivize" when talking to the host. When I heard this, I yelled at the radio, "That's not a word, you fucking moron!" Out of all types of bastardizations of the English language, I think I despise corporate trendy lingo the most.

I read that there was a F2 tornado in Brooklyn yesterday. This is an extremely rare occurrence for New York City, the last time being in 1889. Screwy weather, indeed.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

No Religious Tests For Office

Yesterday, while addressing a town meeting in Iowa, Republican Presidential candidate Rudy Guiliani was asked several questions about his religion, particularly whether or not he was a "practicing Catholic". He was also asked to discuss the role his faith played in making decisions on issues such as abortion.

Guiliani declined to answer, citing that one's religion is a personal matter: "My religious affiliation, my religious practices and the degree to which I am a good or not so good Catholic, I prefer to leave to the priests," Giuliani said. "That would be a much better way to discuss it. That's a personal discussion and they have a much better sense of how good a Catholic I am or how bad a Catholic I am." He also added, "That's a matter of individual conscience. I don't think there should be a religious test for public office."

There are those who have questioned his Catholic religious faith or lack thereof because he is pro-choice, a stance that the Catholic Church opposes. Some church officials have suggested that candidates who are pro-choice should be denied the sacrament of communion. Similarly, there are those who question Giuliani's commitment to Catholicism because he has been married three times, with one annulment and one divorce. Catholics who are divorced and have remarried are not permitted to receive communion.

When he was asked later why he didn't answer the questions at the town meeting, Guiliani said that even presidential candidates have a zone of privacy.

"I believe that things about my personal life should be discussed personally and privately," he said, adding that his personal life is relevant only to the extent that it would affect his performance in office.

I fully agree. In fact, I salute him for taking a firm stance on this issue, clearly and uncategorically stating that one's faith or lack thereof should not be an issue for any political candidate seeking office. Other candidates, both Republican and Democrat, are seemingly unwilling to confront this issue head-on, perhaps in a fear of losing Catholic, evangelical, and fundamentalist votes.

This may cost Guiliani the election, but it's an issue that's long needed to be addressed. For the last 30 years or so, corresponding with the growing political power of Christian fundamentalists, the private religious beliefs of candidates have been topics of public discussion, taking on a relevance that had never been quite so prominent in past years, with the notable exception of JFK's Catholicism in 1960.

Candidates and presidents have all been put into the awkward position of having to publicly extol their personal commitment to faith, whether or not it existed in reality. In what should be a private matter of conscience, some have been obliged to make hypocrites out of themselves in order to have any chance of being elected.

Let's dump these quasi-religious tests for office and allow a candidate's beliefs about religion to remain a private matter between them and the god of their own understanding or no god at all. I want to know what a candidate plans to do about the war in Iraq, the American health care crisis, unemployment, infrastructure problems, and whole host of other issues relevant to the everyday lives of all Americans. I could not care less about a candidate's private religious beliefs and practices.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Flying Under the Fundamentalist Radar

My primary lover will be teaching fourth grade this year, rather than the third she's taught in her first two years of teaching. When I'd mentioned to her that I was looking for stuff to read that was similar to Harry Potter in feel, now that I'd finished with Deathly Hallows, she said that she was going to put me to work for her. She'd been wanting to find some Harry Potter readalikes to read aloud in class that were on the same reading level, but shorter and would allow her to get through more books in a single school year. So, she asked me to read a few and to give her my opinion.

I'd mentioned a book to her, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, so I read that one first. This book is first in a series of three (so far) called the Young Olympians. The main characters in the books are the half blood children of Greek gods and mortals.

It was an engaging read, though not quite as satisfying for an adult reader as the Potter books. But there were definite elements in it that would resonate with Potter readers. Percy Jackson, the "Harry" character, is the son of Poseidon and a mortal(Muggle) woman. His two best friends Grover (Ron) is a satyr, and Annabeth (Hermoine) is the daughter of Athena and a mortal(Muggle) man. Percy has a stepfather, Stinky Gabe, who is amazingly like Vernon Dursley.

The half-blood children attend Camp Half-Blood(Hogwarts), where Dionysus(Snape) is a counselor who doesn't much like Percy. Percy's former teacher, Chiron (Lupin), also helps out there. There are 12 cabins that correspond to the 12 major gods and goddesses and a camper is assigned to the cabin that corresponds to their divine parent. The children of Ares(Slytherin) are particularly nasty to Percy, with Clarisse(Draco) being their leader. Percy is alone in the Poseidon cabin, but most of his friends live in the Hermes(Hufflepuff)cabin.

During his adventure, Percy, Grover, and Annabeth fight all sorts of monsters, but end up dealing the the Furies(Dementors) most often.

I won't give away the plot so as not to spoil it for anyone interested in reading it for themselves or to give it to a preteen or teenager, but I was able to recommend this book for my lover to use in her classes. I think once she reads it to her students, they'll want to read the others in the series.

But there were certain elements in the book that might cause problems with fundamentalist parents if they happen to read the book themselves. First of all, the Greek gods and godesses were never much on monogamy. Let's face it, most of them were decidedly libertine in their proclivities. And Riordan doesn't sugar coat this fact in the books, either.

Every kid at Camp Half-Blood was born out of wedlock and Riordan presents this in a matter-of-fact, non-judgmental way. The only concession to traditional morality he makes is to refer to the mortals as "girlfriends" and "boyfriends" of the gods and goddesses, rather than properly referring to them as "lovers". And he highlights the fact that some had more "girlfriends" and "boyfriends" than others, sometimes concurrently.

In Percy's case, his mother was single when she had an affair with Poseidon and there was never any pretense that there would ever be any marriage. She kept her own last name when she married Gabe, and it's made clear in the book that she didn't marry him for love, but rather for security.

After reading the book, I wandered over to to read the reviews, fully expecting to see angry reviews from fundamentalists claiming that the book was immoral and eeeeeeeeeevil, as they've done with the Potter books. But there was nary a fundie review to be found; the book enjoyed high ratings from nearly everyone.

I was a bit baffled at how this book fell under the fundie censorship radar -- perhaps they're so busy frothing at the mouth over the Potter books that these less well known books were able to slip by unnoticed.

At any rate, I'll get a perverse satisfaction knowing that my lover will be reading the first book to her fourth graders this year. I hope she's able to get through it without any fundamentalist parents being any the wiser.


Monday, August 6, 2007

WWII Kissing Sailor Identified

This famous photo was taken on August 14, 1945 by Alfred Eisenstadt for LIFE Magazine. Like the photo of the flag raising on Iwo Jima, this photo is an iconic representation of American victory in Word War II.

The photographer never named the people in this photo, so for years the identity of the sailor and the nurse remained a mystery. When I first saw the photo as a kid back in the 60s, I thought it was my Dad, because the sailor looked like him to me.

But when I asked my father if it was him, he said, no, that he'd been at sea that day and not in New York City.

This past Friday, however, the sailor was positively identified by Houston Police Department forensic artist Lois Gibson, as being 80 year old Glenn McDuffie. Gibson took precise measurements of McDuffie's wrists, knuckles, arms, forehead and ears, then compared them to enlargements of the famous photo.

"I don't say this lightly. What I do is usually a matter of life or death, so I don't mess around when I identify someone," said Gibson, whom the 2005 book of Guinness World Records said has helped police identify more criminal suspects than any other person.

Eleven other men have also claimed to be the sailor in question. Gibson carefully studied the bone structure of all these men.

"I was able to eliminate all the others based on their foreheads, or the superciliary arch — where the eyebrows are," she said.

On Aug. 14, 1945, McDuffie was in Times Square when the word came.

"When I got off from the subway, a lady told me the war was over, and I went into the street yelling. I saw the nurse and she was smiling at me, so I just grabbed her," McDuffie said. "But we never spoke."

Saturday, August 4, 2007

A Couple More Insomnia Mind Games

As most of my readers know, I have recurrent bouts of insomnia. Over the years, I've developed several different mind games that help me fall asleep on nights when I'm sleeping alone. Counting sheep just doesn't get it for me, nor does using the same mind game each time. I've written about this before, and today, I'll add two more that I'd not mentioned previously.

The first one will appeal to bibliophiles. In this fantasy, I've moved to some remote outpost where a new town is being built, typically in Alaska or someplace similar. I've only been able to take a few books with me.

The new town is bare bones, still developing. There's little more than a general store and a gas station in town, along with a few houses. I get a job in the general store that sells a little bit of everything. But no books.

Most of the people who come in are as hungry for something new to read as I am. But because it's in a remote area, traveling to the next town where there's a bookstore isn't a practical thing to do.

I decide to start a library in the corner of the general store. At first, all I have are the few books I brought with me, held upright with bookends on top of a shelf devoted to other goods. I ask others in the town to contribute and soon, we have a ragtag collection of dog-eared paperbacks and old magazines.

Then, each of us writes home asking people to send their old books, yard sale books, and so on. This generates some good books, but also a lot of those Reader's Digest Condensed books that no one wants. Nevertheless, we're glad to have even these, because there's so little to read up there.

The next step is ordering from Amazon and other sites and eventually one bookcase turns into two, until they have to expand the general store to build an entire room for the little library. If I'm still awake by this time, ultimately, the little town builds a small library building, separate from the general store.

The second fantasy is similar in some ways to the first, in that it's about starting with very little and expanding.

In this one, there's an interstate highway that has a long stretch of highway going through a sparsely populated area. There's one section that has 200 miles of flat land between exits. The state decides to make another exit halfway in between for a refueling stop.

This is done and a small sixties-style gas station is built, at a empty crossroads right by the highway. There is one attendant who sleeps on a cot in the back room, who later puts a small trailer behind the gas station.

Soon, the business grows and the gas station is renovated into a large convenience store with several islands of gas pumps. More people are hired to work at the gas station, which generates several more trailers put on a new side street near the gas station/convenience store.

Not long after that, a Days Inn type motel is built on the other side of the gas station, with a Waffle House soon following that, attached to the motel. This, in turn, generates a new apartment complex for the motel and restaurant workers.

On the other side of the overpass near the ramp going down in the opposite direction, a McDonald's opens, a small dollar store, then an auto repair business for stranded travelers appears.

I never stay awake long enough to see the entire town built, however. I'm always asleep long before the ubiquitous Wal Marts and CVS stores enter the scene.

I'm going to bed now, but I don't think I'll need either of these two mind games to fall asleep tonight.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Seventeen and Counting

Several months ago, I wrote about Michelle Duggar pregnant with her 17th child. Yesterday, she gave birth to her seventh daughter and 17th child, Jennifer. This latest child was born five days past her due date.

Less than 30 minutes after giving birth, Michelle, 41, and her husband, Jim Bob,44, gave an interview, where they admitted they'd "love to have more"

I don't know about you, but if I were Michelle, I think I'd want to go running off into the night screaming in terror at the idea of doing it an 18th time. I'm surprised her uterus hasn't dropped out of her body of its own accord, all stretched out like Calista Flockhart's sweater after Rosie O'Donnell wore it. And it's almost unbelievable that Michelle went five days past her due date; it would seem that the baby would have just dropped out if she'd happened to simply sneeze too hard.

Give it a rest already, Duggars. I know fucking is a lot of fun and the two of you obvious go at it like bunnies, but it's time for Michelle to have the playpen removed and for Jim Bob to arrange to shoot blanks from now on.

And it wouldn't hurt to spend more time with the kids they already have instead of talking about gettin' busy making more.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

What I'm Reading Now

After finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I felt a bit let down because there won't be any more, except in fan fiction. I've been looking around to find other books that are "readalikes" or at least bear some similarity to the Potter books. Another blogger had recommended Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series about a wizard private detective. I got the first one in that series and, while an engaging enough read to make me want to read more, it doesn't really have the same feel as the HP books.

I've scoured several sites where recommendations are given to Harry Potter fans looking for something new, but similar to read. As one who had not read much fantasy previous to the Potter books, I found these lists quite useful. After reading several such lists, I went to Amazon to read plot descriptions and made a list of the ones that seemed most promising.

One newer series that sounded interesting involves modern day Americans who are "half bloods"; the children of Greek gods and mortals. While the books are intended for teen readers, what I read of the plot descriptions indicate they might be worth reading for adults, as the Potter books were. I ordered the first in that series at the bookstore and if it proves to be as interesting as it looks, I'll read the other two currently available.

I also took the list I'd made to the used bookstore, and found a copy of "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" by Susanna Clarke in new condition. This is a one-off novel for adults about two wizards at the beginning of the 19th century. It's a thick book with small print, so it should keep me busy for awhile. If anyone has read this one, I'd be curious to hear what you think.

On the non-fiction front, I was reading an essay at Alternet that was an interview with Mike Jones, the male escort who outed the antigay evangelist Ted Haggard. Jones mentioned his new book, "I Had to Say Something", which tells about his relationship with Haggard and why he outed him. It sounds interesting, so I'll see if my library has it the next time I'm up there. To read the Jones Alternet interview, click here.

Later this month, I'm going to attend the "Really Good, Really Big, Really Cheap Book Sale", which is an annual mega book sale of used books of all types, put on by a group that promotes adult literacy in order to raise money for its efforts. I'd first heard about it last summer after the fact and made plans then not to miss it this year. The sale is held in a closed-down mall and will have over a hundred thousand books available at yard sale prices. I intend to make a list of books to look for so I can stock up on books properly.

I'm not much of a bookworm, am I?

If you have any book recommendations, feel free to list them in the comment section.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

237 Reasons to Have Sex

Researchers at the University of Texas have published the results of a study with a list of the 237 most common reasons why people have sex. And the answers differed little between the sexes. For both men and women, their top reasons for having sex were all about lust, not love; the physical needs were the top motivators, with the emotional needs distinctly trailing In fact, 20 of the top 25 reasons were the same for both men and women.

So much for Men Are From Mars, Women are From Venus.

I wasn't able to find a list with all 237 reasons, but following is a list of top 10 and bottom 5 for both sexes. I would say that 6 and 7 are usually my top two motivators.

Men's top 10 reasons:

1. I was attracted to the person.
2. It feels good.
3. I wanted to experience physical pleasure.
4. It’s fun.
5. I wanted to show my affection to the person.
6. I was sexually aroused and wanted the release.
7. I was “horny.”
8. I wanted to express my love for the person.
9. I wanted to achieve an orgasm.
10. I wanted to please my partner.

Women's top 10 reasons:

1. I was attracted to the person.
2. I wanted to experience physical pleasure.
3. It feels good.
4. I wanted to show my affection to the person.
5. I wanted to express my love for the person.
6. I was sexually aroused and wanted the release.
7. I was “horny.”
8. It’s fun.
9. I realized I was in love.
10. I was “in the heat of the moment.”

Men's bottom 5 reasons:

1. The person offered to give me drugs for doing it.
2. I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease.
3. I wanted to punish myself.
4. I wanted to break up my relationship.
5. I wanted to get a job.

Women's bottom 5 reasons:

1. I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease.
2. Someone offered me money to do it.
3. I wanted to get a raise.
4. It was an initiation rite to a club or organization.
5. I wanted to get a job.

The bottom five are pretty wacky and I can safely say I've never done it for any of these motivations.

Feel free to list your top reasons in the comment box.