Monday, December 31, 2007

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I ran across this picture while surfing the net recently and thought that it perfectly portrays my personal opinion of marriage.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Working Cats

Feral cats in Los Angeles now have a better alternative than euthanization when picked up by the humane society. Previously, feral cats had little chance of leaving the shelters alive because they usually cannot be sufficiently re-domesticated enough to be suitable pets.

Recently, the LAPD, along with the animal welfare group, Voice for the Animals, instituted a Working Cats program that uses such cats to combat the rampant rat infestation in their various facilities.

Everywhere the cats have been placed, they've effectively ended the rodent problem. Though the cats kill whatever rats and mice they are able to catch, the problem is solved mainly by scent. The rodents become aware of the feline presence by the smell of the cats and their urine -- and simply move on to areas with less cat density.

In areas where the cats have been placed, officers have been assigned to feed and care for them, which supplements their rodent diet.

It's a humane solution all around: the cats are saved from starvation or euthanization and the rats are spared more grisly methods of control, such as glue traps.

It's a great idea that should be imitated in other cities wherever rodent problems exist.

Working Cats

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Everybody Loved Him

Last night while listening to the news on the radio, I heard a story about yet another murder, which included an interview with a friend of the victim. This person described the victim as someone who had a great sense of humor who made people laugh and that "everybody loved him".

As I listened, I thought of how nearly these exact words are used almost every time there's a story about someone who was murdered or simply died suddenly at a young age. The victim is, almost without exception, a blessing and a joy to everyone they ever met.

A listener taking such reports at face value would be led to believe that humorless, misanthropic people are never murdered, nor do they ever die before their time. It's the "Only the Good Die Young" syndrome.

There's also a second, underlying assumption going on. Some people seem to assume that if the person had been anything less than a saint that "everybody loved", then that person somehow deserved to be murdered, so they rush in to assure everyone that the victim was a spotless paragon of virtue.

This brings to mind one prominent murder that happened during my years on the police force. The victim was a well-to-do older widow, who had been murdered by a man she'd been keeping company with. The media had portrayed her in the typical fashion as a wonderful, generous woman whom everyone in the community adored.

Nothing could have been further from the truth. In reality, she was a slumlord whom we'd dealt with several times in disputes with her hapless tenants. She was a mean, unpleasant harridan of a woman about whom few people had anything good to say.

Nevertheless, she didn't deserve to die in the violent way she did. Her character and esteem in the community or lack thereof had nothing to do with her right to remain alive until she died of natural causes. Her death was a tragedy, regardless of her personality or popularity.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Rant About Commercials

When I get home from work at night, I usually have the TV on in the background as I surf the net. Recently, there have been two commercials that annoy the crap out of me.

The first is a guy pushing a cash-back reward for bundling AT&T services. He asks various people how they intend to spend the money they've saved. One woman, with her husband standing by, says she wants to take salsa lessons. The husband says something like "I guess we're going to take salsa lessons". At this point, they start to dance and the moronic husband keeps on saying "Shake it up. Shake it up." in a near monotone. I don't know about you, but I'd like to shake that idiot right off a cliff.

The second stupid commercial for KFC's "Festive Feast" promotion. Well, duh...what else would a feast be but festive?? I think KFC badly needs to hire a new ad agency to handle their advertising if the best word they could come up with to describe a feast was "festive". Talk about stating the obvious -- it would be like running an ad for Sunkist oranges that point out the fact that oranges are orange.

The talk radio station I listen to has been providing its share of annoyances as well. This station has a bad habit of playing two different commercial tracks simultaneously. I've witnessed this happening quite a few times and I can't help but think they're doing it on purpose -- how could something like this happen on a regular basis "by accident".

The station also runs homemade commercials for local businesses and the woman they use for most of these commercials doesn't have a clue about diction or enunciation. I'm guessing she must be donating her time, because I can't imagine any radio station paying for that mush mouth.

Recently, she was on a commercial for a local company that sells carpet and hardwood floors. I have to grit my teeth every time she urges listeners to go down to their showroom to see the "harwood" floors. That's right; "harwood", with no "d" in the word hard. It makes me wonder that if she ever saw me in flagrante delicto, whether she would comment about my "har-on".


Thursday, December 27, 2007

After Christmas Blues

I always feel let down to some degree right after Christmas, whether or not I had a good holiday. If I had a good Christmas, I want the feelings to go on, but if my Christmas sucked, I feel down because there's no hope left for recovering the holiday for that year and it's another long year before I get another chance. I get depressed to see the colorful lights being taken down and neighborhoods being returned to their former drab darkness.

I'm also bummed because after the long wait for the holiday season through the long endless southern summer, the season is over all too soon and now I can see the return of the next miserable summer looming on the horizon, which usually arrives sooner, rather than later in the south.

People have long complained about the rushing of the holiday season: Halloween decorations in August, Christmas stuff up in September. This has never bothered me, because it signals to me that summer will soon be gone for another year.

But it seems as if the retail industry is now rushing the after-Christmas holidays -- and I don't mean New Year's Day, which is, after all, the last hurrah of the holiday season. No, I mean Valentine's Day. It used to be that one didn't see Valentine's stuff out until after New Year's Day, or, at least not until after Christmas was over. This year, however, I began seeing Valentine's shit in the stores at least two weeks before Christmas. I've decided I hate this shit as much or more than some people hate the rushing of Halloween and Christmas stuff. I've no problem with the crap being put out in January, but no earlier.

What's next? Will we see 4th of July stuff being sold on New Year's Day sometime soon in the future? I'm surprised they don't do it already, as department stores have traditionally started selling bathing suits in their stores directly after Christmas.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Anniversary

Sixty-five years ago today, a young couple made their way downtown to the city's Episcopal Cathedral for a simple wedding. Sharing the couple's happiness was the bride's family: her parents, grandparents, siblings, and other assorted relatives. Though glad for the young couple, the groom's parents were unable to attend. It was wartime, you see, plus his family lived a thousand miles away and did not have the money for train fare. The interstate highway system was about fifteen years in the future and gas was strictly rationed, so taking the bus or driving were not practical solutions. I'm also guessing that domestic passenger flight at the time was irregular and spotty, and no doubt limited because of the war.

The 18 year old bride didn't plan on wearing a wedding gown. Because of the war, she'd thought that wearing a good suit would have been sufficient, and it would match well with the groom's sailor uniform. But her mother had talked her out of that, so she posed shivering in her almost-sleeveless gown in the winter cold as photos were taken of the wedding party outside her parents' home.

After the wedding, the happy couple took a short, sixty mile train ride to Boston for a whirlwind weekend honeymoon, as the groom was due to return to sea the following Monday. There was a war on, you know.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad, together in whatever afterlife might exist. Christmas isn't the same without you.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas, Everyone

I've got to go in and work a few hours tonight (Ho Ho Humbug!), but I'll be back this evening to check in on all of you. My primary lover went out of state for Christmas, so it will be a quiet holiday for me. I've got a new movie and a few new books to keep me occupied tomorrow, so I should be OK, plus I've got the day after Christmas to go out and do my thing.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday spent in whatever way makes you happy!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black

Last night, I tuned in to Neal Boortz again, in hopes of getting some blogging fodder. And Boortz did not disappoint.

In one segment of the show, he devoted some time to one of his favorite pastimes: ragging on Hillary Clinton. The point of that day's rant against Clinton, whom Boortz has dubbed "the Hildebeast", was to inform his listeners that she wasn't a very nice person but was, in fact, downright mean and elitist. To illustrate his point, he referenced comments made by law enforcement officers who had guarded the Clintons when Bill was first running in 1992. Boortz told of when the Clintons had attended some sort of charity barbeque that while Bill waded in to meet the recipients of said charity, Hillary had shrunk back, demanding that the security men keep her away from "those people".

I don't know any more about Hillary Clinton than what I read in the media, so I could not say whether or not she's the warm 'n cuddly type, a barracuda, or something in between. But for the point of this entry, that is neither here nor there.

The point of this entry is that, in light of the other topics he spoke about in the same broadcast, and of some I've heard in the past, Boortz is hardly in a position to point the finger at others for being misanthropic and/or elitist.

Earlier in the broadcast, he sneered at a listener's email request to mention musician Dan Fogelberg's death on the broadcast. He said something to the effect that lots of people die in the same way Fogelberg did and that he should just get over it. He added that he didn't see why he should make any mention of it and did the caller want him to memorialize all the other people who had died that day as well, but who just didn't happen to be famous?

What a fucking ass. I don't think that Boortz had to mention Fogelberg's death on the air if he didn't find it appropriate, but was it necessary to jeer at the caller's request on the air? Wouldn't it have been better to have simply emailed the person back and politely decline the request? Even though the musician's death wasn't more "important" than the death of all the unfamous people who died that day, could he not have treated the request respectfully?

Later in the same broadcast, Boortz was lamenting the decline of broadcast journalism, which is a valid enough point on its own. But the manner in which he chose to express his view on the topic showed his inherent elitism loud and clear. He mentioned reports of apartment fires as an example of a non-newsworthy story. Boortz opined that no one gives a shit about the loss of an apartment complex because nothing important was lost, "just stereo systems, futon beds," and the like, which was a not-so-subtle dig at those of us who cannot afford a McMansion in a gated community and must live in apartments.

Is Hillary Clinton misanthropic and elitist? Maybe, maybe not. But I know damn sure that Boortz is both of these things, and that people in glass houses ought not to throw stones.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Rambling About Christmas Lists

After reading Slade Wilson's Christmas gift lists a couple of weeks ago, I sat down to think of what I wanted for Christmas this year. And beyond wanting more books for my collection, I couldn't really think of anything in particular that I wanted.

This was rather unusual for me, as I've always before been able to rattle off a list of desired Christmas gifts at the drop of a hat. As a kid, I'd make my list months ahead of time, usually starting around the time a school year would begin, as this was the signal of the start of the holiday season (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year). My parents always got a Sears Christmas Wish Book, and I'd pore over it for hours at a time, dog-earing the section devoted to toys. I'd circle the items I wanted in pen and then show it to my parents. On Christmas morning, most of what I'd circled would be waiting for me under the tree. As the youngest child in a household with no other pre-teens, I'd always make out like a bandit each year.

I remember the feelings of anticipation that would build as the month of December wore on. By Christmas Eve, I'd worked myself up so much, I could barely go to sleep that night. I miss that feeling -- it came back to some degree when my son was a kid, as I'd anticipate his reaction to his own gifts, but it was never quite the same. For one thing, I could never afford to give my son as much as my parents gave me, and even my Dad didn't give my son as much as he gave me.

As an adult, though I've never gotten the volume of gifts I got as a kid, I've usually been able to produce a Christmas list on short notice. This year, it's different. I don't want much and it doesn't bother me that I won't get much.

But there's one thing I think would make an excellent gift -- I wish Amazon would award a prize to a selected number of customers that would give them their entire Amazon Wish Lists for free.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Sex Addict and the Casanova

While browsing the net for something to blog about, I checked MSNBC news, which often is a good source of blogging fodder. Tonight, I found a few articles that dealt with the non-monogamous male.

The first article I clicked on was "Married man: ‘I slept with 13 women this week", in which a psychiatrist classifies the man in question as a ‘sociopathic sex addict’.

The man's letter read:

I can’t get enough of women. I have to look at every woman who walks by. I watch porn, I flirt, I keep in touch with past girlfriends, I make new ones, I browse for women online. I get up to 30 e-mails a day from women. Once I have seduced them online, they are dying to meet me and usually sleep with me on the first date. Then I find the simplest flaw and use that against them to break it off. They are devastated. They feel I have used them sexually, and they are right.

The kicker is that I am married. My wife is great, beautiful, intelligent and we have a good sex life. I am 41. We have been together for 25 years. I, however, still have a constant rotation of new women. I just can’t stop seducing other women and having sex with them. Nor do I want to because I am having the time of my life.

This man differs from me in several instances. First, I'm not married. Second, I don't deliberately lead women on as to my intentions -- I'm honest up front about my desire for casual sex. Third, I don't have as many one-night stands as this man does -- if I've ever done thirteen women in a single week, it's not been since my college years. Though I do engage in one night stands every so often, the bulk of my sex life is in semi-regular to regular fuckbuddies and friends with benefits. And though I enjoy the thrill of the hunt and the eventual conquest, my sex life doesn't have the same whiff of compulsion as this man's seems to have -- I'm not constantly trolling online for new lovers -- I meet them the old fashioned way in real life. I rarely look at porn -- I'm getting enough of the real thing to need to look at much porn.

Other than having multiple lovers, I don't think I have a whole lot in common with this guy. I have to agree with the psychiatrist that this man has a problem, but the problem is obsession and compulsion, not non-monogamy, per se.

The next two related articles were "Inside The Mind of a Serial Seducer", where a self-defined "Casanova" described his philosophy of relationships and his approach to dating, which was based on an interview on the Today Show with this man. The second article, "Casanova or Scoundrel" concentrated on reader's reactions to the first article.

This "Casanova" was a bit more like me, but again, was far, far from being my twin brother in libertinism. This guy is 32, living in NYC, is a writer, and boasts about having 100 lovers. (Is that all? I've definitely got him beat by a longshot on sheer numbers). Like me, this guy believes that if he is honest about his intentions and what he wants out of a relationship, then there's no need to feel guilty. Unlike me, he sees women as having an "agenda" that must be overridden and seems to take a somewhat adversarial approach to dating. He's definitely more of a cynic than I am.

The companion reader's response article was fairly evenly divided by those who applauded him for his honest approach to non-monogamy and those who found him sleazy for the same reason. I couldn't help but think of how these same people would have responded if the article had been about me.

The articles about both men both viewed them as abnormal and aberrant -- which was not surprising, considering our society's bias for monogamy. Nevertheless, the number of positive responses to the second man, even though both men seem to be purposely chosen to show the negative side of nonmonogamy, seemed promising to me.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Italian Court Usurps Parents' Right to Name Their Child

When a little boy was born to an Italian couple fifteen months ago, they decided to give him the unusual name of "Friday". They went on to register his name at city hall as Friday and a priest also baptized him under that name.

Five months later, a busybody city hall clerk was sufficiently bothered by this unusual name to inform a tribunal, which then notified the parents that the boy's name was "invalid" because Italian law forbade parents from giving children names that were "ridiculous or shameful".

When the parents declined to change their son's name, the court ruled that the boy would be registered thenceforth as "Gregory", as he was born on the feast day of a saint with that name.

In other words, the government told the parents what their child's name was.

As of yet, this particular type of governmental meddling has not occurred in the US. But I'm sure it's only a matter of time before the Good Taste Nazis hit the department of vital statistics here.

It's not that I think that Friday is a great name. On the contrary, it's annoyingly trendy and gaggingly cute. My taste in names runs to the classic; names that have stood the test of time and which have not been altered with "creative" spellings.

But neither is "Friday" a "shameful" name as the court claimed. It's easy to say and easy to spell, and if the boy doesn't like it, he's always free to change it as an adult. I'd never name a kid Friday, but I think these parents were well within their rights to do so.

And governmental meddling doesn't get much worse than to tell a parent that they cannot name their own child.

I could have understood the Italian court's position if they'd given him a name that was truly degrading, such as "Shitload" or "Cumstain". I'd not have had a problem with the court refusing to register such a "name" then. But even in such an instance, I still would allow the parents to choose a more appropriate name, instead of choosing one for them. And don't even get me started on choosing a name for someone based on religion.

For their part, the parents have vowed to continue calling their son Friday, even though he will be compelled to sign his name as Gregory on all official documents when he gets older.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Give It Up Already, Pam

After getting married for the third time to Rick Salomon this October, Pamela Anderson is already filing for divorce.

"I paid off a poker debt with sexual favors, and I fell in love," Anderson said during an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres show, when asked how she met Salomon. "It's so romantic." Anderson owed a whopping $250, 000 in gambling debts when she struck the deal with Salomon.

But romantic? Don't make me laugh. Fucking to work off a debt might have been practical and cost effective for her, but I'd not call it romantic by any stretch of the imagination. And, though libertine as I am, if I accepted sex in lieu of a debt paid, I'd not call it romantic. There's no shame in calling a spade a spade. This was a business deal, nothing more -- love had nothing to do with it. Sex and love aren't the same thing and though they sometimes happily coincide, this is one time where it definitely didn't and there's no need to justify this exchange by saying it was.

Some people just don't need to be married. I'm not meant to be married in the way marriage is currently understood, and I've accepted that and have lived in a way that better suits me. It would seem as if Pam Anderson is also ill-suited to marriage and would do well to accept it and stop trying to force a square peg into a round hole, so to speak.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Memories of Childhood Board Games

Every Christmas when I was a kid, I'd get board games as presents. Following is a trip through memory lane of some of the games I had.

1. Candy Land
This is one of the first games I ever got as a small child. I remember bugging my older siblings to play this with me, but it was usually my mother who would end up doing so.

2. Chutes and Ladders
Another early childhood game that my siblings hated to play with me.

3. Sorry!
This was one of my favorite games. Needless to say, I was NOT sorry when I'd knock someone's piece off the board -- I always took great glee in sending someone's piece back to "start". I always chose the green pieces to play with.

4. Parcheesi
Another favorite that was quite similar to Sorry.

5. Operation
I got a kick out of this game and would make the thing buzz on purpose sometimes.

6. Mouse Trap
One of the coolest games ever. With its rickety contraption that set a ball in a sequence of motions through an absurd maze that resulted in one's "mouse" being trapped, there was a lot to like about this game.

7. Crazy Clock
When I first got the idea for this game list, I remembered I had another contraption game similar to Mouse Trap, but couldn't remember the name. After a short bit of research, I found it. Instead of trapping a mouse, the sequence of events for this contraption had the result of catapulting a sleeper out of bed.

8. Clue
The classic murder mystery game

9. Life
I always liked this game pretty well and, as a kid, I liked that the board had 3D features (the bridges) and was not perfectly flat.

10. Monopoly
A game for all ages that I enjoyed playing. Of course, when I was a kid, all they had was the original game, based on the streets of Atlantic City, NJ, as none of the differently themed versions had yet come out.

Feel free to tell some of your favorite childhood games in the comment box.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Libertine's Night Before Christmas

After reading the Mom's version of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" over on Lisalisabobisa's blog, I decided to write my own --
"A Libertine's Night Before Christmas." It's rather explicit, so be warned.

A Libertine's Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the dump
All eight of my lovers, I was ready to jump
The condoms were hung on the nightstand with care
In hopes in nine months, no babies would appear.

More women were standing all nude in the hall
While waiting their turns for the libertine to ball.
With Jenny, ass in the air, and me at her back
Had just settled in, as I drilled at her crack.

When out on the hall there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Slid out of the hole without any warning
Jen bitched; I'd said I'd fuck her 'til morning

His hand on a breast, his eyes all aglow
Was Santa, wanting to fuck the woman below
When, what to my wandering eyes should appear,
But a miniature dick, all nestled in hair.

With a little old peter, he whipped out so quick,
I laughed, and said what a pathetic small dick.
Let me show you just how it is done
I turned to the women and said, "Let's have some fun!"

"Now Mary! now, Susan! now, Karen and Linda!
On, Janet! On, Lisa!, on Donna and Brenda!
Let's go fuck on the floor, then lean up on the wall
I fucked Gina! Then, Lucy! I fucked them all!"

And then, to my surprise, his dick was all hard
The women all waiting to sit on his lard.
As I drew in my breath, he was turning around
On a woman, St Nicholas jumped with a bound

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fucked all the women, not being a jerk.
And putting his finger against each of their clits,
Oh, how they loved it, it gave them such fits!

He zipped up his pants, once each women was fucked,
And left me to all the women, to have my dick sucked.
But I heard him exclaim, as he left us to play,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good lay!"

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Lights: White or Multi-Colored?

When I was a little kid in the sixties, nearly everyone used multi-colored strings of lights for their Christmas decorating. Strands with small bulbs were used on the indoor trees, sometimes the blinking kind, while most people used the large-bulbed strands to outline the house with. We even had two large Christmas candle lights, that stood three feet high, which we placed on either side of the front door. My welder grandfather had made these out of lead pipe back in the 1940s and they had huge flame-shaped lightbulbs that I still have no idea where my parents got the bulbs from.

I remember as a kid sitting under the Christmas tree with all the lights in the room turned off, so I could enjoy the beautiful pattern the multi-colored lights made in the otherwise dark room. Doing so always put me into the Christmas spirit, making me look forward that much more to Christmas morning.

But in the seventies, many people got the idea that using multi colored lights, especially the ones with the large bulbs, were not tasteful, but were actually quite tacky. These same people began using white lights exclusively for their Christmas decorating -- on their Christmas trees and everything they lighted outdoors. Some went the minimalist route, confining lights to the Christmas tree only, with a single white-lighted electric candle in each of the front facing windows, and nothing outdoors.

My family continued using the small multi colored lights for the Christmas tree, but we'd always used the white lighted candles in the windows, simply because they looked the most like real candles. With my grandfather's outdoor candles, we usually had a pine tree outdoors with a strand or two of the large colored lights on it. We didn't go overboard with the outdoor decorations -- nothing we did gave the electric company orgasms, but what we did was colorful.

Nowadays, I see more and more people doing the all-white light thing, but the amount of lighting has increased. Similarly, the colored light crowd is still holding its own, though in recent years I've seen strands with all one color lights: green, red, blue, purple, orange, and so on. People that use those, usually combine them with white light strands.

Personally, I'm in the colored lights camp. Nothing says Christmas to me like the strands of multi colored lights I remember from my childhood. I still get the same feeling I did back then when I see them. Sometimes, it's a bit gaudy, but lights on their own are never tacky.

White lights, on the other hand, are the same color as what you see year-round in your lamps and other types of everyday lighting. There's nothing particularly festive or Christmas-y about them, unlike the colored lights, which are seen only at Christmas time.

Though I like to see the white lights combined with single-colored strands of colored lights, seeing a home decorated solely in white lights leaves me cold. There's something sterile and ho-hum about them, not to mention the snobby, pretentious aura they can have on an expensive home that says, "more tasteful than thou."


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Study Shows that 11% of American Men Have Multiple Sex Partners

In a recent CDC study published in the American Journal of Public Health, results indicated that 11% of men have concurrent sex partners; having more than one sexual relationship at a time.

The study was conducted among a group of nearly five thousand men, aged 15 to 44, and covered the sexual relationships they'd had in the past year.

Men most likely to have concurrent sexual relationships included:

* Unmarried men
* Men who had been in prison
* Men who reported being intoxicated while having sex
* Men who have had sex with men
* Men with female sex partners who had concurrent sexual relationships of their own

I personally fit into groups one and five.

Also, African-American and Hispanic men were more likely than white men to report concurrent sexual relationships.

Interesting stats, to say the least.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Half a Libertarian

I describe myself as a liberal with libertarian leanings. I am attracted to the libertarian position on civil liberties and most cultural/social issues based on the principles of freedom and privacy. What stops me from entirely becoming a libertarian is the other half of it, where they find common cause with conservatives; their embrace of laissez-faire capitalism, their lack of support for safety net provisions for the less fortunate members of society, and the lack of support for universal health care for all citizens, to name a few examples.

It's a shame really, because the libertarians pretty much share my view of legal marriage, which differs from both the liberal and conservative views.

Conservatives believe: Marriage is a sacred covenant for life between one man and one woman only.

Liberals believe: Marriage and its attendant legal benefits should be available to all consenting adults as a basic human right.

Libertarians believe: Marriage is a personal and private relationship between two or more consenting adults of various gender combinations that the government has no business defining or regulating.

The Libertarian Party platform states:

I.9 Sexuality and Gender

The Issue: Politicians use popular fears and taboos to legally impose a particular code of moral and social values. Government regularly denies rights and privileges on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Principle: Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not have legitimate authority to define or license personal relationships. Sexuality or gender should have no impact on the rights of individuals.

Solutions: Culture wars, social friction and prejudice will fade when marriage and other personal relationships are treated as private contracts, solely defined by the individuals involved, and government discrimination is not allowed.

Transitional Action: Repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act and state laws and amendments defining marriage. Oppose any new laws or Constitutional amendments defining terms for personal, private relationships. Repeal any state or federal law assigning special benefits to people based on marital status, family structure, sexual orientation or gender identification. Repeal any state or federal laws denying same-sex partners rights enjoyed by others, such as adoption of children and spousal immigration. End the Defense Department practice of discharging armed forces personnel for sexual orientation. Upgrade all less-than-honorable discharges previously assigned solely for such reasons to honorable status, and delete related information from military personnel files. Repeal all laws discriminating by gender, such as protective labor laws and marriage, divorce, and custody laws which deny the full rights of each individual.

Recently, in the context of the same-sex marriage issue, Ron Paul also made a comment that is quite similar to my own position on marriage in general:

"I would like to see all governments out of the marriage question. I don't think it is a state function; it is a religious function. There was a time when only churches dealt with marriage and they determined what it was. But 100 years or so ago for health reasons, they claimed the state would protect us if we knew more about our spouses and did health tests and had to get a license to get married. I don't agree with that."

I agree with him here. It's too bad that I can find little else to agree with him about.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wacky Weather

Yesterday, the high temperature record was broken for my area with a daytime high of 79F. Today has been much the same and it's supposed to continue for the next couple of days.

I've had to use my air-conditioner both in the car and in the house. In December. I do live in the south, but I don't live in the tropics, so these temperatures have been at least 20 degrees higher than what is considered seasonal.

People have been commenting on the "beautiful" weather, but I've been grumbling. I don't like summer in July -- I sure as hell don't like it in December. It's taken the Christmas spirit away and looking at Christmas lights while I'm sweating is oddly incongruous, let alone the vision of Santa in swim trunks.

But the wacky weather did have one advantage, as I was able to have an outdoor hookup earlier this afternoon and, with it being December, sans the insects.

But I'm hoping that it will be at least be cold for Christmas even if we can't have snow.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Avatar Crazy

After seeing Birdsnest's avatar entry the other day, even though I already had one of my own, I went back to Yahoo and made a whole lot more. Below, you'll see Christmas avatars, historical and fantasy avatars, and everyday life avatars. Feel free to vote for the ones you like best, and I'll likely put one in the margins, if I can figure out how to do it.

Christmas Avatars

History/Fantasy Avatars

Saint or Sinner -- Which is the Real Libertine?

Everyday Life Avatars

Let's see some of your creations in the comment box.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Value of Property vs. The Value of a Human Life

Last night, while listening to Neal Boortz in the car, I heard him talking about a recent news story with callers to the show. It was about a man who saw burglars robbing his neighbor's house, who then got his shotgun, went next door, and killed the burglars.

Neal Boortz was praising the man for killing the robbers, defending himself against a caller who'd pointed out that it was wrong for him to kill them over property. The caller went on to say that he'd crossed the line of reasonable self defense when he left the safety of his own home to confront the burglars on his neighbor's property. He finished by saying that the man should have limited his actions to the 911 call he made before getting his shotgun.

Boortz countered by asking what if it had been the neighbor being raped or otherwise assaulted. The caller rightly said that this wouldn't have been the same at all; that protecting a human life was a totally different thing from killing someone over household items.

Still not willing to concede the point, Boortz said that items of property represent a "chunk of one's life", based on how much time was required to earn the money that paid for the item in question. He agreed with the caller that it would be wrong to kill someone over "BIC lighter", for example. However, he thought it was perfectly justified to kill someone for stealing an expensive piece of electronic equipment that might have cost "four thousand dollars", considering how much time it took to earn the four grand; that it represented a chunk of the earner's life. But I wonder if he distinguishes between a poor person who took far longer to earn the four grand than a rich person who would have taken far less time to earn it?

And even if his notion that a piece of property represents a portion of someone's life was valid, it still doesn't follow that taking a person's ENTIRE life away is a justified response to having a representation of a "piece of one's life" taken away. The justified response is to take away a "piece" of the offender's life -- by sending them to prison, not the graveyard!

In making this ridiculous statement, Boortz neglected to acknowledge that property -- things -- can be replaced, where a human life cannot. And, as a former lawyer, he has to know that his reasoning would not fly in court.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not denigrating the courage of the man whose desire it was to look out for his neighbor, nor am I excusing the burglars. But, unless this man's life or that of another person had been in danger that night; if the burglars had also been armed, I think he overstepped his legal bounds by killing them. I'd not have had a real problem with him holding them at gunpoint until the police arrived -- which they did less than a minute after he killed them -- but to kill them if he or someone else was not in physical danger was not justified.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Driving the Point Home

A couple of weeks ago, my primary lover asked me to attend the faculty Christmas party at her school, which is this coming Wednesday. She'd not asked me to do so in the few years she's been a teacher, because she'd skipped the parties herself, as she figured they'd be boring.

This year, she told me, she'd decided to go for a very specific reason and my attendance was essential for her purpose.

As those of you who have been reading my blog might remember, she'd had several dates with a fellow teacher awhile back. She'd broken it off with him when he wanted her to break it off with me so that they would have an exclusive relationship. After this happened, I'd not given it anymore thought.

It seems as if this other guy is being persistent and hasn't given up the idea of being with her. Can't say I blame the guy, actually. But it's made her feel rather uncomfortable, especially considering that they have to work together. She likes the guy as a friend, but she doesn't consider him marriage material and doesn't want to lead him on to think that she does.

So, she wants me to come to the faculty party with her, knowing he's going to attend, as a way to drive the point home to him that he should give it up.

I'm willing to allow myself to be used in this fashion, as she's about to the end of her rope with his persistence. But I hope to hell that nothing awkward happens as I'm not into embarrassing public confrontations.


Friday, December 7, 2007


While visiting a blog, I clicked a link to another blog entitled, "How to Tell If a Guy is a Jerk". I read further and the blogger defined a "jerk" as:

"For this site a "jerk," is: a man who is not a good prospect for a long term, committed, emotionally mature, healthy, and loving relationship. While it is absolutely true that no one is perfect and we all make mistakes, there are some men less cut out for a healthy relationship than others. This site is about recognizing them and finding the great men that are available for a mature partnership!"

Whoa. While I fully accept that I'm not a good prospect for a long term monogamous relationship, I don't accept that this makes me a "jerk". I especially resent this label because I'm honest and straightforward about what I want out of my relationships and I'm not trying to deceive anyone to believe otherwise.

Nor do I accept that all "healthy" and "mature" relationships MUST be a long term, committed monogamous relationship, without exception. Healthy and mature relationships take various forms and it's things such as honesty, consensuality, lack of abuse, and so on that make them so.

She also assumes that every woman wants or should want nothing else but a long term monogamous relationship. While this is indeed true for most women, it's not true of all women, as some women aren't cut out for that type of relationship any more than some men are.

And while there's nothing wrong with a blog that gives tips on how to find men who want monogamous relationships, there's no need to denigrate those of us who don't. In one entry, she refers to the belief in having sexual variety as "denigrating to women, it is degrading to men, and it is completely antithetical to a healthy and happy intimate relationship."

Bullshit. I'd not have a problem with her if she'd said that sexual variety wasn't her cup of tea; that she preferred monogamous relationships because they work better for her. I'd not have had any objections to that at all because it would have fallen under the "different strokes for different folks" principle.

Referring to the libertine male, she also said: "There are reasons why some men don't want a life-time partner. It has to do with their ancient ancestor's sexual strategy. These male stone age ancestors preferred being a sperm donor rather than investing in offspring. These sorts of guys just haven't evolved to a place where they care and respect women, or desire the beauty that comes from a long term relationship."

Again, this is full of crap. She assumes too much when she refers to nonmonogamous men as being not sufficiently "evolved" and erroneously states that such men cannot care about or respect women. And she is short-sighted to believe that "beauty" in a relationship can only come in one form and that form must be the same for everyone.

Different men have different needs and want different kinds of lives. Some want monogamous relationships and that's fine. Others of us don't, and that's fine, too. Neither one is more "evolved", healthy or mature than the other, just DIFFERENT.

And as far as "investing in offspring" goes, well, I call her a liar. I raised my son singlehandedly all the way to adulthood, without once ever having been monogamous.

I'm guessing she doesn't know many nonmonogamous men; perhaps only the one who once broke her heart.

She also puts down "fast" women, telling them they don't deserve a "decent" man if they don't become more "coy", to use her words. She states: "It is unrealistic for a woman to expect a relationship with a great man unless she is doing what she can to be a good human being as well." In other words, if you're not a monogamous female, then you cannot be a "good human being".

The hell with this self-righteous judgmental bile. There are no doubt hundreds of sites out there with tips on how to find a suitable partner for a long term monogamous relationship that don't put down those who want something else, that would be more useful than this Dr Laura-esque site.

Rant over. I feel better now.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Compassion and Morality

Compassion is the basis of morality.
--Arnold Schopenhauer

When we have compassion for another person, we envision ourselves in that person's place and imagine how we would feel if this were so. When we sympathize with someone, we do so by thinking of how we would want to be treated in the same instance.

A natural consequence of compassion is wanting to treat that person in the same way we'd hope to be treated if we were in the same circumstances. This is the "Golden Rule", which exists in every religious and ethical tradition. Much misery in this world could be averted if more people had compassion and stopped to think of how they'd like it if they were on the receiving end of acts they are about to commit or words they are about to say.

Compassion doesn't expect perfection, but acknowledges that we are all human and, to use a religious turn of phrase, "But for the grace of God, go I".

Much of what is considered to be morality is not compassionate, but compassion is always moral.

It's less important to teach our children the rules of moral behavior than it is to teach them to have compassion. Where compassion exists, true moral behavior will follow.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Quotes and Comments

If hard work were such a wonderful thing, surely the rich would have kept it all to themselves.
--Lane Kirkland

How hard someone has to work is usually inversely proportional to how much they get paid.

Always be smarter than the people who hire you.
--Lena Horne

This has always been true for me, as they don't apparently hire supervisors for their intelligence.

I always like a dog so long as he isn't spelled backward.
--G.K. Chesterton

Dogs are a lot more fun than the reverse.

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.
--Thomas Jefferson

One would think that if God exists, then we were given the power of reasoning for a purpose.

If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law.
--Winston Churchill

Better to have fewer, basic laws that are applied with discretion and common sense, than thousands of laws that micromanage every iota of our existence.

A room without books is like a body without a soul.

And those whose room it is tend to be boring and mundane as well.

No matter how much the cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens.
--Abraham Lincoln

Nothing better than make up sex!

Some people claim that marriage interferes with romance. There's no doubt about it. Anytime you have a romance, your wife is bound to interfere.
--Groucho Marx

Isn't that the truth!

I was raised the old-fashioned way, with a stern set of moral principles: Never lie, cheat, steal or knowingly spread a venereal disease. Never speed up to hit a pedestrian or, or course, stop to kick a pedestrian who has already been hit. From which it followed, of course, that one would never ever -- on pain of deletion from dozens of Christmas card lists across the country -- vote Republican.
--Barbara Ehrenreich

Friends don't let friends vote Republican!

The only way to make sure people you agree with can speak is to support the rights of people you don't agree with.
--Eleanor Holmes Norton

Free speech is for everyone, even those who offend us.

Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.
--Harry S Truman

Truman said this in response to McCarthyism, but it's still just as true today.

Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err.
--Mohandas K. Gandhi

This is why "nanny laws" are wrong and misguided. Freedom connotes the right to either learn or not learn from the consequences of our actions that don't affect the rights of others.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Let Them Eat Cake

The other night while listening to the radio, I heard an ad which began by talking about the plight of poor people overseas at Christmas time. At first, I thought it was asking people to donate money to send food and warm clothing to such people.

I was wrong.

It was a solicitation to send Bibles to poor people overseas, which would be personally presented to them by a "wonderful missionary". (Their exact words). Pardon me if I gag at this point. Never mind that what poor people the world over need most is food, clothing, job assistance, health care, education, and other practical things.

I've heard of missionaries who make people convert first before they'll give them any food, clothing, or other needed items. But this is the first ad I've heard where they're so blatant about it.

Give them a Bible and let them eat cake!


Sunday, December 2, 2007

"Sticky" Mousetraps Are Inhumane

Recently a coworker mentioned a problem with mice getting into his house. I suggested he get a cat, as I've not had that problem since I've had cats. He said his wife didn't like cats and was afraid of the traditional snap traps, so he was going to buy some of those sticky traps, also known as glueboard traps.

I'm totally against sticky traps. Unlike the snap trap, where the mouse dies instantly by having its neck broken, a mouse caught by a sticky trap dies a slow, agonizing death. As mammals, they feel pain just as humans and dogs and cats would. Trapped mice struggling to free themselves pull out their own hair, exposing bare, raw areas of skin. Mice typically break or even bite off their own legs, and the glue causes their eyes to become badly irritated and scarred. After three to five hours in the glue traps, the mice defecate and urinate heavily because of their severe stress and fear, and quickly became covered with their own excrement. Those whose faces become stuck in the glue slowly suffocate, and all trapped animals are subject to starvation and dehydration.

Laws against inhumane treatment of animals typically don't include rodents such as mice and rats, thus inhumane methods of controlling them are legal. Many veterinarians have spoken out against this barbaric means of pest control and suggest alternate methods. These methods include traps that simply capture, but don't kill them so that they can be later released somewhere outside. Snap traps are also a better choice, as death comes quickly without suffering. And, then of course, there's the option of cats, which goes along with the cycle of nature.

I urge everyone to boycott the use of sticky traps and choose one of the methods suggested above, instead.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Picking Your Battles Carefully

Clemson University's head football coach, Tommy Bowden, has drawn the attention of the ACLU, because of the coach's annual team activity, "Church Day". This event, which has occurred annually for the last several years, is an activity where the entire team attends services at a different local church. Attendance is voluntary, but is “strongly” recommended. Those who do not wish to attend must publicly opt out; simply not showing up is not considered acceptable.

In a letter to the president of Clemson, which is a state-supported university, the vice president of the state ACLU stated, "“My belief as I understand things, the way it’s set up has an element of coercion to it,” he said. “Whether it’s intended or not, we’re concerned that the head coach of a nationally-visible football team strongly encourages people to do things and in the context of all his athletes, says, ‘You really ought to do this unless you want to stick your neck out and say no.'" He also urged that the activity be eliminated.

Clemson's response was not to ban Church Day, but neither will it provide university-owned and operated buses for the event. Those who attend must use their own vehicles.

I'm of two minds on this. Though I'm an agnostic, I see this as a minor thing, not really worth expending time and effort to fight. Clemson University has ensured that the activity is voluntary and has not allowed the use of its tax-supported resources (buses and drivers), which I think is a valid compromise.

But I can also see the ACLU's point. Though attendance is voluntary, requiring players to publicly opt out, is to compel them to publicly take a stand on an issue (religious belief or lack thereof) that they might prefer to remain private. And it's the coach's job to train and mold the students as football players -- it's not his place to mold or influence their religious or spiritual beliefs.

But, in the end, I think the ACLU would have done better to pick their battles more carefully. South Carolina is a conservative, highly religious red state, and the ACLU's criticism of Bowden has only so far served to draw sympathy for him and to bring all the "Christianity is under attack" wingnuts out of the woodwork.