Thursday, January 31, 2008

Letters to the Editor

When I was in college and for several years thereafter, I regularly wrote "letters to the editor", all of which were published. Most of these letters were in response to things I'd read in the paper that I disagreed with. In a very real sense, these letters were my precursor to keeping a blog; particularly my ranty entries.

Back then, writing a letter to the editor meant typing a hard copy letter on my typewriter, after first writing it in pen on a yellow legal pad. I never liked messing with carbon, so I either made a photocopy of the letter at the library, or saved the handwritten copy as my copy,

After mailing it, I'd wait a day or two to make sure they'd gotten it, then check the paper every day to wait for it to appear in print. When it did, I'd cut it out from the paper and save it in a scrapbook. I'd continue to watch the paper for several days, in case there were rebuttals to my letters, which happened from time to time.

All these years later, I'm amazed at my patience and how long the process took compared to now. Nowadays, I'll fire off a comment on a blog or a site like Alternet and it appears immediately. Rebuttals, similarly, can appear within a minute.

I've not written a letter to a traditional newspaper in over 20 years. The main reason for that was when I joined the police force in a relatively small community, I didn't necessarily want my employers to know my opinions on politics and other controversial matters. So, I reluctantly gave up my letters to the editor hobby.

I even remember the topic of my very first letter, written in 1977. At that time, the drinking age was 18 and my state was considering raising it to 19. As I was already 19 at the time, it wouldn't affect me, but I opposed raising the age. I pointed out that 18 year olds could be sent to war, get married, sign contracts, and so on, so it was not fair to bar them from drinking. I said that all rights and responsibilities of adulthood should be granted at the same age in order to be consistent and fair. If 18 year olds were "children" when it came to having a beer, then they ought to be considered "children" when it came to going to war. I don't remember the exact words, but that was pretty much the gist of it.

Have you ever written a letter to the editor?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Blogging Is Its Own Reward

I've belonged to Blog Catalog, a blog bookmarking site, for about a month now and I've noticed several generic-type blogs there that seem to exist for the sole purpose of making money. Such blogs have little to no content that indicates the blogger's personality or interests.

Also, I've seen a related type of blogger who seems mainly interested in statistics: hits, increasing their ranking in blog clearinghouse sites like Blog Catalog, comments, etc. They offer to read and comment on your blog in exchange for you doing the same, and don't seem to care whether their visitors have a true interest in their blog's contents, just so long as it drives up the statistics and rankings.

Don't get me wrong -- I am pleased to see a lot of visitors on my blog and I cherish the comments I get. But because I don't do much "shameless promotion" of my blog, the hits and comments I get are from people who are truly interested in what I've got to say and their interaction on my blog isn't solely motivated by a desire to increase statistics on their own blog. Indeed, I'm a bit disappointed when I encounter people on my blog who are thus motivated.

I joined Blog Catalog mainly to find other blogs that I'm truly interested in reading, hoping others would likewise find my blog interesting. Though I'll add nearly anyone to my friends list there who asks, only those blogs I'm actually interested in and/or who were my friends before I joined Blog Catalog go in my neighborhood.

I've never made a dime off any of my blogs and though I'd not ever turn down any money offered, it's not my motivation for blogging. One of my prime motivations is to make people think of things in ways they might never have considered before, particularly in the realm of sexual ethics. From the unsolicited emails I get, I see that I am doing just that and one such email means more to me than any money I could make or getting a top blogger award.

Plus, blogging is just plain fun. I've met lots of like-minded people while blogging, while also making friends with and gaining understanding of those who have a different view of the world.

How about you? Why do you blog and what do you see as your most valuable "reward" from doing so? Do you belong to any blog bookmarking sites and, if so, why?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ted Kennedy Endorses Barack Obama

Today, on The Huffington Post, Senator Ted Kennedy published an article about his endorsement of Barack Obama for president. What follows below is my comment to that article:

To be honest with you, Senator, I have no clear preference for the Democratic candidate at this time. I believe that either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton would make a good president -- as would John Edwards.
I also understand that the bickering between them is all part of the political game and that they could and would work together if one is the nominee and the other accepts the Vice Presidential nomination.

My primary wish for the 2008 election is that we do not elect another Republican to the White House. I think we've had more than enough of neocon and religious fundamentalist-inspired Republican ideas in the last eight years, and any of the Democratic candidates would be a breath of fresh air after the Bush presidency. So, I will support the candidate who has the best chances of defeating the Republican nominee in November, though which of the candidates that is remains not fully clear to me at this time.

As an American in my late 40s who has been obliged to work without any health insurance whatsoever for the last four years and who hasn't had a raise in three years, I want a president who can positively affect the passage of a comprehensive health care plan that will not be dependent on how good of a job I have or how much money I make.

In closing, thank you for your words, Senator Kennedy. Some time ago, I was struck by how much Barack Obama reminded me of your brother, but this fact, in and of itself, is not quite enough for me to choose between him and Senator Clinton.

Your thoughts?

Monday, January 28, 2008

10 Celebrities I Love to Hate

Because I've got things on my mind, and I'm distracted and at loose ends, I've decided to fall back on a no-brainer entry idea -- the list. Today's list is the ten celebrities I love to hate. I am merely listing the first ten that came to mind and they are not in order of rank. And I'm sure I'll think of some I like to hate more once I post this entry. For the purposes on this list, I define a "celebrity" as merely someone whose name is recognized by a lot of people

1. Mel Gibson

The man is a flaming anti-Semite and probably an all-around bigot as well.

2. Richard Simmons

That Disco Stu hairstyle went out years ago, and there's just something about him that makes me feel queasy.

3. James Dobson

This promoter of theocracy should focus on his own damned family for a change.

4. Ann Coulter

She is merely one of many pundits who epitomize the coarsening to political discourse in our society.

5. Dr Laura

A busybody, self-righteous moralist spouting her own brand of bigotry mislabeled as psychology.

6. Dr Phil

Dr Laura's male counterpart. What is it about these Dr. Firstname celebrities, anyway?

7. George Bush

One of our least intelligent presidents who has earned his spot on the list of the ten worst presidents

8. Fred Phelps

The obssessively anti-gay fundie who protests funerals. Need I say more?

9. Chef Gordon Ramsey

The petulant, tantrum throwing chef from the reality show, Hell's Kitchen. Grow up and get a damned life, already.

10. Simon Cowell

The wiseass judge on American Idol who apparently gets off on humiliating contestants who don't make the cut. What a prick.

Feel free to list the celebrities you love to hate.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

When Is Marital Infidelity Most Likely to Occur?

According to the Infidelity Facts website, marital infidelity is statistically most likely to occur:

1. After the first year of marriage

This is when the novelty of being married wears off, and the humdrum routine sets in.

Infidelity at this point in a marriage is typically of the one-night stand variety, and usually does not affect the love one has for their spouse. However, those who stray at this time are more likely to repeat it in the years to come.

2. After the first child is born

The entrance of a child inevitably changes a marriage. Much of the focus and attention that was previously given to one's spouse is now directed at the child. Add in the fatigue, stress, and change of routine involved, and you have all the ingredients for a fling.

3. The fifth to seventh year

This is the proverbial "seven-year itch". Affairs at this time happen because a relationship has commonly run its natural course in that all the goals for a relationship have typically been met in this time frame. What is ahead for a couple at this point is years and years of the same old, same old. The anticipation of greater things to come is gone.

Infidelity at this time tends to be the most serious; full-blown, long-lasting love affairs, rather than just getting a little on the side.

Though I am neither monogamous nor married, I can fairly well attest to the truth of this one, as my primary relationships typically are of a time limited nature, though the average longevity of one of my primary relationships is a bit shorter at two to four years. For me, the tedium sets in precisely because I know my partner all too well and there's little new to discover about them.

4. Middle Age.

Also known as the mid-life crisis. The kids are grown, the house is empty, and the couple is back to being just a couple again. Unlike when they were newlyweds, however, the couple knows one another all too well and there's nothing left to distract them from any faults in their marriage. It is at this time that a married person will ask themselves, "Is that all there is?" and figure that if they want something else, they'd better go out and get it while it's still a reasonable possibility.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

CB Radio

Starting back in the mid 70s, CB radios became a big fad. Once pretty well confined to truckers, all sorts of people began buying radios for their cars, and some also got base stations for home use.

I remember one of my friends' fathers got one for his car and we'd sit out in his car, late into the night using it, until the old man chased us out, worrying that we'd wear down the car battery. At that time, I vowed to get one of my own, once I had a car.

After I went off to college, I finally got a CB. I had a great time with it, even though the range wasn't all that great. As I remember, it wasn't even as good as my hand-held police walkie-talkie in the 1980s -- on that on a good day, it could reach as much as thirty miles.

Nevertheless, the CB suited my purposes just fine. I met a lot of my one-night stands through the CB and I think I picked up women this way about as often as I did going to a bar and doing it the old-fashioned way. It was a wonderful tool that helped to speed up the process of getting laid regularly.

Back then, CB had a similar appeal that the internet does today. Instead of internet screen names, we had "handles". Mine was "William the Conqueror".

For other people, the CB filled the role that a cell phone does today, especially in families who had both base stations and car radios.

CB mania lasted no more than a decade or so. By the mid-80s, CB usage was once again pretty much the province of truckers and die-hard radio enthusiasts. I think my aunt was still using her base station in the late 80s, however.

How about you? Did any of you have a CB and, if so, what was your handle?

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Separation of Marriage and State

While looking up definitions of "sex-positive" on the Glossary of Relationship Terms the other day, I came upon a rather interesting entry about the "separation of marriage and state" which pretty well sums up my views.

According to the Glossary, the separation of marriage and state is:

A slogan or summary statement representing the position that a government should be involved in neither:

* the definition of marriage;
* the establishment and maintenance of the institution of marriage; nor,
* legislation and enforcement of laws regarding marriage, apart from:
a. the protection and support of the members of each family;
b. the support of consensual relationships and self-constituted family units, also their protection from outside forces; and,
c. the employment of judges for the disposition of children and property in the event of divorce.

Comments: The slogan is modeled on the phrase, "the separation of church and state," which is said to derive from a remark by Thomas Jefferson.

The position is often nested into a more comprehensive view, for instance, one or more of these:

* Persons and their personal relationships are more fundamental than the state and should not be rendered susceptible to being cogs in a socio-economic machine, which is what governments are wont to do. (Personalism)
* Personal matters are no business of the state, and marriage is primarily a personal matter. (Libertarianism)
* Coercion of any sort is entirely inappropriate when it comes to sexuality, relationships, and marriage, except to counter coercion and violence.
* Religion is none of the business of a government where there is no state establishment of religion; there should be no state establishment of religion; and, since religions have always been much involved in the definition of marriage, a state that involves itself in the control of marriage will find itself either offending one or more religions, seldom all equally, or discriminating against those whom the religions discriminate against; and a government should never be complicit in discrimination, whether between religions, between religion and no religion, or with regard to those against whom one or more religions discriminate.

One implication of the position is that government would no longer be prohibiting such things as group marriage and gay marriage, but instead would be trying to foster a peaceful environment for all sorts of relationships and a fair playing field for the people in them.

Various alternatives to the governmental control of marriage are suggested, for instance:

* Marriage in any formal sense should be abolished.
* Marriage and the form it takes should be by contract between consenting parties, perhaps even a contract to be periodically renegotiated.
* Marriage should be a matter worked out between the families of the parties.
* Marriage should be defined and regulated by the institutions, for instance the religious institutions, to which the parties voluntarily belong. And,
* A combination of the last three: Marriages should be contractual but marriage as such should be institutionalized by families and voluntary religious groups.

When you have time, check out this site -- it will keep you busy for hours.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My Favorite Childhood Cartoons

I must be feeling nostalgic, as I recently wrote an entry about my favorite childhood board games. Now, I leave you with a post about my favorite childhood cartoons. The emphasize is on childhood cartoons, so I'm not including current favorites like The Simpsons or King of the Hill.

1. The Flintstones.

2. The Jetsons

3. Wally Gator

4. Wacky Races

5. Casper the Friendly Ghost

6. Yogi Bear

7. Fat Albert

8. Road Runner

9. Bullwinkle and Rocky

10. Pink Panther

What were some of your favorite childhood cartoons?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Odds and Ends

I can't think of anything specific to write about today, so I leave you with an assortment of odds and ends

Officials in St. Louis recently presented a bill that would ban swearing in bars, along with table-dancing, drinking contests and profane music.

What's next on the nanny agenda? Will they try to ban drinking in bars next?

Yet another celebrity has met an untimely, premature death. This time it was actor Heath Ledger, who was found dead in bed yesterday. Drugs were involved, but it remains unclear as of this writing whether his death was intentional or an accident. It seems the mere fact of celebrity puts one at a higher risk of premature death.

What was the first record album/CD that you ever owned? Mine was "The Age of Steam" by Gerry Mulligan. That's jazz, for those who might not be familiar with him.

The Democrats will have their primary in my state on Saturday. After much thought, I have decided to cast my vote for John Edwards. I think he acquitted himself well at the debate, when he called Clinton and Obama for bickering with each other, asking them whether this would help Americans to gain access to health care, to get an education, and so on.

He's got a fair chance of winning this particular primary, as he was born and raised here and speaks to the concerns of rank and file workers in the state.

I don't have as much confidence for him pulling off the nomination, but who knows?

I call this one "The Clueless Husband".

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What Does "Sex Positive" Mean?

I recently joined Blog Catalog, on which I describe my blogs as being "sex-positive", among other tags. Though the term is self-explanatory to me, I've found that it isn't as clear to many others and there is confusion as to what it means. On one site, I read:

So what SHOULD we mean by "sex-positive"? The ability to choose and "un-choose" one's partners at will, I suppose, unconstrained by any "societal" mandates or gender-biased prohibitions. How to condense that into a more precise, accurate term, on the other hand, I'm not sure.....

To which someone answered:

As I hear it used among feminists and progressives, "sex-positive" seems to mean that one doesn't subject sexual matters to critical scrutiny. If you critique, for instance, pornography, polyamory, prostitution, sadomasochism, or anonymous sex, you are not "sex-positive." (Monogamy, however, is always in season: fire at will!)

To answer the second commenter, the biggest reason why monogamy is currently under critical scrutiny is because it's been rarely questioned and has had the official backing of church and state for hundreds of years. It hasn't needed a movement to defend it, unlike other forms of non-traditional sexual expression. Indeed, for many years, it has been considered the only ethical way of expressing one's sexuality in polite society.

For myself, being sex positive is to believe that sex is a natural, normal, healthy human need that can properly be expressed with or without love being present. Sex positivity affirms sexual pleasure for its own sake, unlike sex negativity, which asserts that sex is solely for procreation. What separates healthy sex from unhealthy sex is that healthy sex is always consensual and engaged in by those old enough to give informed consent. A sex positive society has more than one choice for ethical sexual relationships, including the right to make the traditional choice or to choose celibacy. Indeed, the traditional choice can only truly be a choice when it isn't by default; when society respects that one can choose something else.

According to the Glossary of Relationship Terms site, sex positivism is:

1. The view that human sexuality, including one's own, is delightful in itself, even apart from procreation. In theological terms, human sexuality in its generality is seen as preceding the Fall of humankind into sin and is viewed as a divine gift. A sex-positive stance does not preclude a morality of sexuality; nor does it preclude the social channeling of sexuality.

2. Belief that healthy sexual expression should be encouraged in a wide range of contexts. Within a sex-positive stance in this sense, there is much room for debate as to what is healthy for the individual and for society, so long as human sexuality is not seen as degrading in and of itself.

Comment: The term "sex-positive" is attributed to sex educators at the National Sex Forum (San Francisco, California) in 1968 or 1969.

Or, more briefly put:

Simply put, being sex-positive is about wringing the guilt out of sex. It’s opposed to self-loathing, hatred of the body, and fear of sexuality in general.

Works for me.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dumbass Voters, Part II

Ok, it's time to rag on Neal Boortz again.

I listened to him the other night and he was elaborating on his theme that some people ought to be prevented from voting. (See my post, "The Dumbass Voter".)

In his most recent rant on this topic, he lamented that so many "non-achievers", whom he also referred to as "losers", "dregs", "worthless", and "useless", were allowed to vote, mainly because they would likely vote for Democrats.

He stated his wish that only "achievers" be allowed to vote. An "achiever", according to Boortz, is not simply a person who has a regular job. And full-time parenting or volunteer work is entirely off Boortz' radar. I'm sure he also cannot conceive of achievement that does not involve making money. Rather, an achiever in his book is a workaholic who works 60+ hours a week, at a high-paying, high-status job. People more likely to vote Republican, that is.

Boortz even complained about voting day being on Tuesday -- he saw this as a conspiracy against "achievers" who cannot leave their jobs in order to vote on a work day, despite 12 hours being available for that purpose.

This is all part of his continuing lament that rich people are badly done to in our society; that "losers" are simply "insanely jealous of rich people", when they suggest that not all rich people are hard-working paragons who deserve every penny of the money they have. Apparently inheritance, dirty business practices, favoritism, and nepotism do not exist in Boortz' world. He is ready to believe any negative stereotype as being typical of all poor people, without exception, but woe to the person that even suggests that even a fraction of rich people are rich because they inherited the money or got a good job because their golf buddy down at the country club put in a good word for them.

And of course, middle class and poor people are "ignorant losers" to him when they dare to vote for their own interests instead of voting to favor the rich or big business.

He also continued with his ongoing assertion that poor people are poor because they "choose" to be poor; that they're just simply too damned lazy to be rich. In his world, every person who works hard will become rich and, presumably, start voting Republican. And he believes they can do it all by themselves with no help from anyone or the government. Of course, it's completely out of his ken that some people might be satisfied with making a moderate amount of money and value things other than making the most amount of money possible.

My father grew up desperately poor during the Depression. His father was a tenant farmer, which is one small step above a sharecropper. After serving in World War II, he got an office job with a major oil corporation and, over the years, made his way up the ladder to a respectable mid-level executive position, after getting his BS in Business Administration. My father never became rich, but achieved a solid upper middle class position. But compared to his childhood origins, he was rich indeed.

But he didn't do it all by himself, with no help from people or the government. First, he had parents who believed in him and allowed him to finish high school, in a time and place where most lower-class children quit school as early as possible to help support the family. Secondly, he got his job with the oil corporation in part because my mother's father put in a good word for him. Third, he'd have not been able to go to college at all if not for the government and the GI Bill.

And my father, though an "achiever" in Boortz' book, never once voted Republican. Though he traveled far from his humble roots, he never forget where he came from and how it was for those left behind. Grateful for the help he got along the way, he realized that many good, hard-working people weren't fortunate enough to get the breaks that he'd gotten. When I was a kid, he told me that Democrats looked out for the little guy, while Republicans helped the rich get richer. He said he'd cast his first vote for Harry Truman in 1948 and he'd seen no reason to switch parties as the years went by.

If Boortz had his way, he'd have us return to when our country was new and only propertied white men -- the rich of that time -- were allowed to vote. And a country like that would be little more than serfdom for the rest of us.

Do you want to live in a world like that? I don't. I might hate when dumbasses vote for candidates I don't like, but I think it's a small price to pay for a free society.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Countdown Begins

One year from today, the Bush presidency will finally come to an end, and a village in Texas will once again have its official idiot in residence.

We can only hope that the next resident of the White House will not be "more of the same", but will be a progressive leader who can begin to reverse the wrongs of the last eight years.

Let the countdown begin!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Spirit in the Sky

While listening to the radio the other night, a favorite song from years ago came on the radio: "Spirit in the Sky" by Norman Greenbaum. This song, heard in several movies over the years, such as Apollo 13, embodies what I consider to be the best of rock: a hard-driving bass line, a growling guitar, fun lyrics, innovative sound effects, and a beat that inspires energy in the listener. It is one of the finest examples of what I call "a song with muscle". And, after nearly 40 years, it still sounds fresh and exciting. It was included in Rolling Stones' 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and also VH1's Greatest One-Hit Wonders.

This song also brings back a personal memory for me as well. In the spring of 1970, when I wasn't quite 12 years old, my mother was hospitalized for several days. One rainy afternoon, my father and I went to the hospital to visit with her. In the car, while on the way to the hospital, this song came on the radio. I can remember turning it up and listening intently, accompanied by the slap, slap sound of the windshield wipers keeping time with the beat.

When my mother died 18 months later, I was reminded of that afternoon, and the words provided some comfort to me then. I don't always relive the memory of that afternoon when I hear the song now, but it's never entirely forgotten, either. Either way, this song will always remain on my list of all-time favorite songs.

Friday, January 18, 2008


It's winter and at this time of the year, there is usually low humidity. And you all know what that means.

That's right -- static electricity.

I can remember being a kid and walking around the house, rubbing my socked feet across the carpet, and touching metal items all over the house with the side of my hand. I did this just to see that blue spark of static leap out to meet my hand and to hear the satisfying crackle. The harder I'd rub my feet, the bigger the blue spark would be.

I used to shock my siblings and, I must admit, the dog. I'd touch him on the end of his nose and he'd grimace as the shock got him. It got to the point where he'd run and hide every time he saw me begin to rub my feet along the carpet. He wasn't stupid.

And I can remember doing the laundry and never using a static sheet in the dryer. I liked pulling the clothes out of the dryer, all stuck together, and hearing the satisfying kkkkkrrrrrrttt as I pulled clothes apart. Sometimes I'd even turn the light out, so I could see the blue sparks as well. But now that I do my laundry at the laundromat, there is never any static, though I still don't use dryer sheets.

I once worked in a plant where magnesium powder was used, and sometimes it was my job to vacuum out the excess powder from the inside of the machine. And this is where I've gotten the strongest static shocks of my life. It was hard to keep hold of the vacuum hose, as strong currents of static would reverberate up the hose. I remember one time, standing about a foot away from another person who held the hose and a huge blue spark of static leaped from his elbow to mine. At that level, it wasn't really fun anymore.

Sometimes, now, I get shocked by my car when I touch metal parts on the frame when getting in and out of it. Not always, though; it depends on the humidity level.

How about you? Are you fascinated by static electricity like I am or do you think I'm nuts?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Predictable Reaction

Did a herd of locusts hit the supermarket?

No, we finally had some snow, and a herd of lemmings rushed to the store to get milk and bread. I don't get it -- why does snow make people suddenly get a taste for milk and bread? And why just plain bread with nothing to put on it? I don't think a milk sandwich will taste very good.

I can see wanting to stock up on food if you're running low, but I don't see why it always has to be milk and bread. People are so damned predictable

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Thoughts on Thinking

Sometimes, I'll ask a person what they're thinking about. Sometimes they tell me, but other times I've been told (in a non-sarcastic manner) "nothing".

I don't get this -- how can a person not be thinking of something, even if it's something trivial? Depending on who it is, I'll sometimes press them further and say, "Nothing? Your mind is totally blank right now? Would I hear static (krrrkkkkzhhhhh) if I could listen inside your head right now?"

I've always got some thought running through my head, even if it's just mundane bullshit. I can't just turn it all off to blank static or dead air. About the only time I come close to emptying my mind is during sex and especially at the moment of orgasm, when I give myself over to my raw animal instincts.

I've got an active, vivid imagination and it's through my thought life that I'm able to patiently bear boring jobs, waiting in lines, and so on. But it's a double edged sword, and sometimes I have too many thoughts racing through my head when all I want to do is wind down and go to sleep.

Of course, having sex at bedtime can head off thought-related insomnia, and I will sometimes "take matters in hand" if I happen to be sleeping alone that night. I've also got some mind games that I've described in previous entries that help to reduce the "racing thoughts" problem.

How about you? Do you always have at least some thought going on in your mind or are you able to completely empty your mind of thought?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

20 Types of Marriage

With the rise of the Religious Right in the last thirty years and their take on "family values", we've heard a lot about what they consider as "traditional marriage". According to conservatives, "traditional" marriage is legal, preferably sanctified by a religious ceremony, heterosexual, monogamous, patrilineal, for life, for love, with a breadwinner husband/homemaker wife, and is the foundation of a nuclear family. The assumption is that this has been the one "right" way to be married since ancient times, until threatened by the sexual revolution starting in the 1960s.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Though marriage has existed since ancient times, it has existed and continues to exist in several different ways that bear at most partial, if any, resemblance to the type of marriages that conservatives wax nostalgic about. Many of the components that are the hallmark of a so-called “traditional” marriage are relatively recent innovations, dating no further back than the mid 18th century or so.

And, according to a report released by the Census Bureau in October 2006, legally married heterosexual monogamous marriages are no longer the majority of American households, though various forms of marriage-clone relationships continue to flourish.

Though some form of marriage-type relationship has been almost universal throughout history as a vehicle for legitimizing and raising children, to determine inheritance rights, and to function as an economic unit, the matrilineal Na of China are a notable exception. Marriage does not exist in this culture, where platonic sibling relationships are more important than love or sexual relationships. Households consist of siblings living together and children that are begotten through casual sexual encounters.

Below is a list of 20 different types of marriages, with some categories commonly coexisting in the same marriage.

1. Monogamy
This the only form a legal marriage may take in Western society. Monogamy can mean marriage to only one person for a lifetime or, as is more common today, marriage to one person at a time, aka “serial monogamy”. Monogamy is usually between opposite sex couples, though same-sex monogamy is becoming legal in some states and countries.

Monogamous marriage is defined as sexually exclusive, though we must distinguish between social monogamy and biological monogamy. Society expects marriages to be both, but studies that have shown that ten percent of babies are fathered by men other than their legal fathers indicate that the two don’t always go hand in hand; that while social monogamy might be ubiquitous, biological monogamy is not.

Polygamy is when either a man or a woman can have more than one spouse concurrently, taking two forms:

2. Polygyny
Polygyny is the most common form of polygamy, which consists of one man with multiple wives. It is still practiced in some parts of the world and was once an official Mormon belief, known to them as “plural marriage”.

3. Polyandry
Much less common, this is when one woman has several husbands. It has occurred in Tibet, Mongolia, the Canadian Arctic, South America, Nepal, Bhutan, among other places. Polyandry is especially suited to populations that have more males than females which is perhaps why it is less common than polygyny, because females outnumber males in most societies. Because of laws limiting Chinese couples to one child only, combined with the traditional Chinese preference for male children has created an unnaturally lopsided sex ratio of males to females, polyandry could be a useful strategy in China in the future to rebalance the sex ratio there.

4. Polyamory
Polyamory is when both men and women may have more than one sex/relational partner. It is currently not a legally recognized form of marriage anywhere, but is rather a de facto type of marriage. The emphasis is on loving more than one person at a time, more so than the sex, per se. Polyamorous relationships take various forms: a primary core couple who each have other relationships with same or other sex partners separately, where the additional partners have a relationship with both partners in a core couple, and so on. Polyamory is uniquely suited to bisexuals, as it allows them to express both sides of their sexuality in committed relationships.

5. Polyfidelity
A form of Polyamory restricted to a specific group of people that all members must agree to. It could be viewed as “expanded monogamy.”

6. Same sex marriage
Most people advocating for same sex marriage only wish to have the current form of legal monogamous marriage expanded to include homosexual couples. However, some gays and lesbians are polyamorous.

7. Open marriage -- swinging
Open marriage is when couples in legal, monogamous marriages both agree that each may have outside lovers. Each spouse has their own lovers, whom they may or may not also love. Swinging is similar to open marriage, but usually refers to when the couple engages in extramarital sex together as a couple at organized events. Swingers are usually emotionally monogamous, unlike polyamorous people.

8. Common law marriage
This is the oldest form of marriage that predates religion and the state, which is still in existence today. Common law marriages are recognized by the state in some places; long-time common law couples are required to get legal divorces like legally married couples in such places. Common law marriages are nearly always monogamous. In places where common law marriages are not legally recognized, such relationships are known as “cohabitation”.

9. Group marriage
A form of polyamory in which there is no primary core couple; rather each member is equally married to all other members.

10. Boston marriage
A term used in the 19th and early 20th centuries to refer to two women who lived together in a long term relationship which was presumably sexual, but not necessarily so, and interacted in public as a couple rather than as roommates.

11. Levirate marriage
A form of marriage in which a woman marries one of her husband’s brothers after the husband’s death. It was practiced in ancient societies that believed in endogamous marriage.

12. Sororate marriage
A marriage in which a man marries his wife's sister, usually after the wife is dead or has proved infertile. This has been practiced in Africa and in the Canadian Arctic.

13. Endogamy

This is the practice of limiting marriages within certain social groups, ethnicities, or classes. The Amish are an example of a group that practices endogamy. Endogamy is also known as Homogamy.

14. Exogamy

The opposite of endogamy; marriage outside a social group, clan, class, and so on. Laws against marrying blood relatives are an example of one type of exogamy.

15. "Mixed" marriage
Marriage between people belonging to different religions, tribes, races, nationalities or ethnic backgrounds. This term has fallen into disuse, as it can be offensive to modern sensibilities, with "exogamous" being the preferred, neutral term.

16. Arranged marriage
Once very common and still practiced in some cultures, an arranged marriage is one where the spouses are chosen by someone other than the couple getting married, and is entered into for practical reasons, not love. Those involved in arranging marriages for others include parents, professional matchmakers, friends, religious leaders, or some other third party.

17. Egalitarian marriage

A monogamous, mixed-sex marriage where husband and wife consider one another equal partners in the marriage. Usually the partners in such marriages also do not live according to traditional sex roles, but egalitarianism can also be found in male breadwinner/female homemaker marriages.

18. Complementarian marriage
A marriage where the man is the "head of the house", where the wife is expected to "graciously submit". Though the wife may work outside the home in such marriages, traditional sex roles are considered the ideal to people who believe in this type of marriage.

19. Covenant marriage
Legal in some areas of the US, a covenant marriage is one where the couple agrees to seek pre-marital counseling and accepts more limited grounds for divorce. In a covenant marriage, the only grounds for divorce are adultery, abuse, and one spouse being convicted of a felony with jail time. There is a movement of some fundamentalist Christians who want this type of marriage offered in all 50 states.

20. After Death Marriage
Permitted in France, a living person can marry a dead person of the opposite sex after the individual has died.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tipping Woes

What I'm going to write about is a sensitive topic; something I've hesitated to write about for some time, for fear of being misperceived. But it's been something eating at me, so here goes.

As some of you know, I've had a job delivering pizzas for a few years now. I've never made a great living at it, but I'd always managed to get by and pay my bills. In the last few months, however, I've been making less and less, getting fewer and smaller tips, and now I'm having real trouble meeting my expenses each month. It's not just me; all the drivers in my store are reporting the same problem.

My store has an extremely large delivery area and I'd estimate that approximately 60 to 70 percent of our customers are black. This corresponds to my average stiff rate -- usually more than half my runs each night are to non-tipping customers. And I'd say that 80 to 90 percent of our black customers do not tip at all and this is true regardless of income level. About 75 to 80 of our white customers tip, while 80 to 90 percent of our hispanic customers are tippers. Most customers, regardless of race or economic level also decide whether and how much to tip before the driver even gets to their door.

I don't get it. Most of the black customers I deliver to are nice people who greet me in a friendly manner, are happy with their order and the service, and thank me politely at the end of the transaction. Yet very few black people will tip. And this is true regardless of the driver's race, as the black drivers complain just as much as white drivers do about being stiffed so often by black people.

It's not just a local thing, either. Google "Why don't most black people tip?" and you'll get results that indicate that this is a concern among tipped employees of all kinds all over the country.

I've concluded that it's not a racist thing, as black tipped employees are as subject to this phenomenon as those of other races are, nor is it something done out of spite or to express displeasure with the service. I'm guessing that there must be some cultural element to it. Perhaps it's the mindset of "Why should I tip someone for merely doing their jobs? It's up to the employer to pay people fairly, not the customer."

I understand and appreciate this viewpoint, but it's not that simple. By not tipping to make that particular statement, one is not punishing the business at all -- they make their money whether or not the customer tips and have absolutely no motivation whatsoever to pay employees fairly or do away with the tipping system. The one being punished is the poor sap making the delivery who depends on tips to make the majority of their living.

Secondly, the tip system exists so that the business can offer the food at a much lower price than they'd be able to do if they paid their employees a fair wage. The business wins, the customer wins, but the employee's fate is left up to chance; whether or not they have tipping customers.

In the pizza business, a fair wage would be to pay drivers similar wages that are paid to delivery drivers from UPS, Fed Ex, and the like, which would be starting around 15 dollars an hour in my area. And that's not even taking into account that pizza drivers must use and maintain their own cars, where UPS and FedEx drivers use company vehicles. But just imagine how much the price of pizza would go up if pizzerias actually did this.

So, it's obvious that the tip system isn't going away any time soon.

Getting back to the phenomenon of most black people being non-tippers, there's no way to politely broach this sensitive topic with my customers without appearing racist, so I'm hoping that maybe this entry will generate some useful discussion.
To read about this phenomenon from two black perspectives, go to:

Blackfolks blog: "Why Don't Black People Know How to Tip?"

The Hilltop: The Student Voice of Howard University: "Tips For Black People".

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Unmarried Candidates Need Not Apply?

During election season, it's nearly ubiquitous for candidates to stress their commitment to the vague notion of "family values", and they usually trot out their spouse and children as proof of their commitment.

This got me to thinking and researching and I discovered that in the entire history of the United States, we've only had one president who was single: James Buchanan, who was president just preceding Abraham Lincoln. Grover Cleveland was single when elected to his first term, but was married while in office.

In recent years, I can't think of a single Democrat or Republican candidate who was single while running for president. And Ralph Nader is the only third-party candidate with name recognition that I can come up with who was a bachelor.

To some people, being single is a negative factor when considering a candidate to vote for; to them being single is synonymous with being immature and irresponsible. In February 2004, Ralph Nader appeared on the political TV program Hardball, where the host, Chris Matthews implied that Nader was both of these things because he was single.

Matthews had asked Nader whether George Bush was intellectually up to being the president, to which Nader answered in the negative, adding Bush's own quote that he was "young and irresponsible until he was forty".

Matthews fired back, "Why do you say he's irresponsible? He's raised two daughter and he's had a happy marriage. Isn't he more mature in his lifestyle than you are?" Matthews continued, "You're an ascetic guy. You go to movie night and maybe have dinner with some pals. I like you personally. But you haven't exactly grown up and had family and raised them and seen them off to college...He's had a happy marriage. Isn't that a sign maturity that you haven't demonstrated?" (emphasis mine).

Apparently, single people are incapable of responsibility and maturity in Matthews' book and being married automatically confers these properties upon people along with their marriage licenses.

In a similar vein, when asked about the possibility of Condoleezza Rice someday running for president, first lady Laura Bush told People magazine that Rice will not run for president "probably because she is single, her parents are no longer living, she's an only child. You need a very supportive family and supportive friends to have this job."

I don't know about you, but this seems a very patronizing comment for someone who is supposed to be a friend to make. And perhaps Bush harbors just a bit of envy in regards to the multi-talented and accomplished Rice in her comments that attempt to make Rice look pathetic.

So, we have pathetic, added to immature and irresponsible.

I don't get the bias. Single people may not have families of their own creation, but every single person has been in a family of origin; surely this qualifies them to support whatever one means by "family values". And that's not to mention that we're all part of the "human family".

In reference to Bush's comment, it's not as if presidents employ their families to help them run the government; they hire and appoint qualified people for that and work with other elected officials. Surely, being single wouldn't change this fact in any way.

How about you? Would you cast your vote for a presidential candidate who is single?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Art Deco Artwork

I've always liked architecture from the Art Deco era, as my header image clearly shows. Art Deco is a style that is retro and futuristic looking, all at once. Recently while browsing, I found several examples of artwork from the Art Deco era,, done by the artist Tamara De Lempicka. I was at once attracted to her art, especially by her use of color. Following are several examples of her work. I will also be making a companion post on my Adventures blog that will contain more erotic examples of her art.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Obama and Kennedy

Though the primary season is upon us, I still haven't settled on a candidate. I know that I will vote for a Democrat, but beyond that, I have no clear preference.

As of this writing, it seems as if the Democrat nominee will be either Obama or Clinton, with Edwards, perhaps, as a longshot.

I've seen a few Obama commercials on TV lately and I've realized that he reminds me in some ways of JFK. He's young, he's relatively inexperienced, and he's got Kennedy's charisma.

Though I would prefer a candidate with more experience, if he is the nominee for the Democratic Party, I will vote for him, rather than voting for a more experienced Republican.

It's kind of like the comment that Harry Truman made during the 1960 election:

You and I are stuck with the necessity of taking the worst of two evils or none at all. So-I'm taking the immature Democrat as the best of the two. Nixon is impossible.

In other words, better a promising, though inexperienced Democrat than voting Republican.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Long Haired Students Are Punished by Suspension in Texas

Four male high school students from the Kerens (TX) Independent School District have been suspended simply for refusing to cut their hair. The appearance policy for male students at Kerens High says hair may not go past the collar, below the eyebrows or a half-inch over the ears. Ponytails can be no longer than a half-inch. A few days before Christmas break, the students were told that they must cut their hair or they'd face alternative school, be removed from extracurricular activities and perhaps jeopardize their graduation.

Say what? For one thing, the hair policy is inappropriate and out of place in a public school. It serves no practical purpose. Number one, it's not a military school, so there's no legitimate reason for uniformity of male hair style. Secondly, it's sexist, because the school has no limits whatsoever in how female students may wear their hair. Thirdly, the hair restrictions obviously do not stem from safety considerations, as female students would be likewise restricted if this were the case.

And to send a student to an alternative school for having long hair? Please. Alternative school is for repeated breaking of major school rules, for things like fighting, stealing, hardcore truancy, and the like, not for differences in opinion over fashion. And graduating from high school should be based solely on the grades the students make, not their fashion sense.

One student, Matthew Lopez-Widish has declined to cut his hair. "I told them that I'm not going to cut my hair," said Matthew, 18, whose hair, when uncurled, reaches the middle of his back. "It may seem kind of stubborn, but to me, it's part of who I am. I just want the school board to notice that just because I have long hair doesn't mean I'm going to quit learning or obstructing people from learning." His mother agrees. "It's just a kid with long hair," she said. "It doesn't seem like a punishment that he deserves."

Damned straight. He's an adult and he should have a right to wear his hair as he pleases. He's not being paid to go to school, so it's not the same as a job requirement.

Matthew had made an effort to comply with the hair standards: his mother would braid his hair and then tuck the braids to shorten them and keep them off his collar. He also slicked back his hair on the top to keep it out of his face and from covering his ears. He is also a straight A student who works 30 hours a week in addition to attending school and he also participates in a theater program.

For the time being, Matthew has decided to transfer to another school nine miles away from his present high school. At his new school, he will not be required to cut his hair, nor go through the rigmarole described above.

Why would this school be pushing the issue so strongly on what is, after all, a very minor and petty rule? The student handbook gives a hint to the underlying prejudice and mindset of this school district:

"The Kerens ISD dress code promotes the effective personal presentation skills which contribute significantly to successful living in adult society. The district's dress code is established to teach hygiene, instill discipline, prevent disruption, avoid safety hazards, and teach respect for authority."

That explains a lot to me. The prejudiced attitude that assumes that long hair is necessarily dirty hair if it's on a male head is summed up by the word "hygiene". "Successful living" betrays the assumption that if a man has long hair, he's necessarily a bum without a job. Again, the "safety hazard" thing doesn't fly, as it doesn't apply to all students. And the "respect for authority" thing says to me that the underlying motivating factor here isn't so much the hair itself as it is to break the will of the students to compel them to conform; to turn them into docile followers, rather than future leaders or thinking individuals. Well, as far as I'm concerned, respect is earned, and it's a reciprocal thing. The students were not respected by not being allowed the privacy of determining something so personal as their own hair styles for no good, practical reason.

It boggles my mind that such a thing could still be an issue in the 21st century. I'd thought that this was something settled forty years ago. Indeed, when I was in high school, I wore my hair long and the school never had a problem with it. I'd have to put it up if I were participating in a shop class, but that was a safety rule that made sense, and I was allowed to have it down when safety wasn't an issue. I don't understand why this school can't follow the same common-sense policy my high school did over thirty years ago. And you would think that schools would have serious disciplinary problems to deal with to have even a moment's time to waste on this nonsense.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The "Dumbass" Voter

It seems to be "rag on Neal Boortz" week on my blog, so here goes with another rant. I promise, however, to write a post in the near future about the things I do agree with him about. There are a few things, believe it or not.

Now, on to the rant.

On the same broadcast that he criticized Hillary Clinton about her marriage, he mentioned in the following segment that he believed that some people ought to be banned from voting, namely "idiots and dumbasses". He mentioned a woman who said she was going to vote for John Edwards because she liked his hairstyle as an example of a dumbass voter.

While we all might wish that politically uninformed and frivolous voters would do us all a favor if they stayed home on election day, there are few of us who would go so far as to advocate banning anyone from voting who currently meets the current criteria.

The obvious question is, of course, who gets to decide what constitutes exactly what being a "dumbass" is? Would it be limited to the frivolous voters such as mentioned above and, if so, how would we go about identifying such voters? I'm guessing that with Boortz and many others, a "dumbass" is merely a synonym for someone they don't agree with.

Boortz said that people should have to "earn" their vote; by having to take a test to prove the person has a basic grasp of the issues. Would everyone be required to be tested? Or would it, as I strongly suspect, be something that would target poor and/or minority voters, much as the now-illegal Poll Taxes were. Indeed, Boortz stated that he would exclude anyone on welfare, because they believes they don't "deserve" to vote, in the same way that convicted felons cannot vote. People may not approve of welfare, but being on welfare isn't a crime in this country.

If it ever came to pass that certain people were excluded from voting because of the "Dumbass Clause", then would such "dumbasses" be excused from paying taxes, being subject to any future military drafts, and so on, in order to compensate for the fact that they have no say in their government? I'm guessing that Boortz has no problem with using "dumbasses" as cannon fodder, even if he thinks they're not fit to vote.

When a caller pointed out the inherent unfairness of people who have committed no crimes having no say about their government and cannot advocate for their own interests, which would quickly lead to their marginalization in society, Boortz shot back that children cannot vote. The caller then pointed out that children have their parents to look after their best interests, that children also do not have the civic obligations that adults do, and they will not be children forever; they are "future voters".

In conclusion, I think we'd be better served by making civics a required course in high school, which would help to give everyone at least a rudimentary understanding of the issues, rather than creating an underclass of citizens by taking away their votes.


Monday, January 7, 2008

Nonmarital Children

Up until the late sixties, it was legal to discriminate against children who were born to parents not married to each other. Such nomarital children were legally classified as "illegitimate", or commonly with the cruder term of "bastard", among other things. As late as the 1950s, children who were born out of wedlock had the word "illegitimate" stamped on their birth certificates and school records.

A unwed mother could have her child taken away from her and put up for adoption, simply because she wasn't married. Children that remained with their mothers could not recover debts owed to her, nor could mothers or children bring wrongful death suits if either had been killed through negligence. Such children also had little or no claim upon their fathers and no guarantee of support.

According to Stephanie Coontz in her book "Marriage, A History", "distinguishing between 'legitimate' and 'illegitimate' offspring had been critical throughout history. 'Illegitimacy' was how families protected themselves from having to share their power or property too widely. Politically, as long as claims to power descended through kinship, the very existence of state depended on the principle of 'legtimacy'." In other words, it was for practical, mercenary reasons, not any high-flown ideas of morality.

Coontz also wrote, "As early as the eighteenth century, humanitarians began complaining that the principle of legitimacy allowed a man to seduce and abandon a woman without taking any responsibility for the child he might have fathered. There was a growing sense that it was wrong to penalize children for the sins or misdeeds of their parents, but few countries took any action until the 1960s." People in the 18th century had sexual practices more in common with our own century than that of the Victorian era of the 19th century; there was quite a bit of nonmarital sex and out of wedlock births. And though not legally required to do so, many men of the time did take responsibility for their "natural children" (the polite term at the time) and raised them in their own households. Ben Franklin is an example of a man who did so.

Starting in 1968, a series of laws were passed that legally ended the second-class status of nonmarital children. In 1968, the Supreme Court, in Levy vs Louisiana, ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause applied to the children of parents not married to one another.

There are those today, who seemingly would welcome a return to the stigmatization of nonmarital children.

In an article that appeared in The National Review in 2002, Kate O'Beirne wrote that our society needs to "stigmatize unmarried sex and the irresponsibility of single mothers who risk damaging their children before giving birth; otherwise it would be unlikely that the number of 'illegitimate' children would be significantly reduced. If single mothers bore the social stigma of smokers, children would be far better off". I don't know about you, but I don't see how treating single mothers as second class citizens will help their children in any way.

Governor Frank Keating of Oklahoma is of the opinion that divorce and out of wedlock births inevitably lead to drug abuse and violence. "You need to be judgmental and say that", he asserted.

Mike McManus , head of a group called Marriage Savers, refers to children born out of wedlock as "monsters".

In a recent campaign ad, Mitt Romney said, "Marriage must come before children. Every child deserves a mother and a father". Well, I don't know about where you went to school, Mitt, but my biology classes taught that all children have a mother and a father. And a marriage certificate is no guarantee that a father will stay to take responsibility for the children he sires, nor does it guarantee that he'll be a good father even if he does stay. Nor is the lack of a marriage license a guarantee that a father will head for the hills as soon as he learns he's to become a father. Laws that deal with the support of children should focus on how the parent relates to the child, to make sure each takes responsibility, and not so much on how they relate to each other.

I've always found the notion that any child could be "illegitimate" to be an offensive one. I remember getting into an argument with a distant relative about this several years ago. She was offended when I said there was no such thing as an "illegitimate" child, as nonmarital children had no say into the circumstances of their births. I went on to say that society might have considered the parents to be "illegitimate parents", which I also thought was wrong, but children in no way should ever be considered so.

A couple of years ago, a relative in her 30s got married. She freely admitted to her mother that he wasn't anything approaching her soulmate; that she willingly "settled". Why, you might ask? The answer was that she wanted to have kids before it was too late, so she got married for this purpose. I don't know about you, but I think that's a pretty piss poor basis for a marriage, especially if he's not in on the true reason she married him.

The push for the re-stigmatization of nonmarital children is directed mainly at poor people; the rich get a free pass for the most part, which they claim is "for the children", rather yet another attempt to legislate morality. Of course, if it's really about the children, it would seem to me that the more effective thing would be to combat poverty than to condemn single parents.


Sunday, January 6, 2008

Arrogant and Offensive

People ask me why do I listen to the Neal Boortz radio show if I disagree with him most of the time -- why don't I save my blood pressure. Well, it's simple -- he's a great source of ranty blogging fodder. And listening to him tonight, I was given prime ranting material.

Boortz can't stand Hillary Clinton. It's an obsession with him. He's not satisfied to merely disagree with her politics; he has to shower her with ad hominem attacks whenever the opportunity presents itself. And tonight, he crossed a line in his attacks on her.

He said that he "knows" that Hillary "hates marriage and children" and that her marriage to Bill "made a mockery" of the institution of marriage. I expected him to rag on her for remaining by Bill's side after the Lewinsky affair, as I've heard others do, but his reason was entirely different. Boortz stated categorically that the only reason she married him was to assist in creating her power base and that she had a child only so that she would look good to future female voters.

Boortz, a divorced and remarried man, opined that marriage is a "bulwark of society", blah, blah, blah, and that because (in his opinion), she did not marry Bill because she'd fallen in love with him and wanted to spend the rest of her life with him, that this was why she "made a mockery of marriage".

Boortz has stated that he believes that Hillary Clinton is "evil", thus he is apparently unable to see her as having any sort of human emotion.

Though I'm not a fan of marriage, I think his attacks on her marriage and motherhood are offensively arrogant to the extreme. He doesn't know the Clintons personally and could not have even the slightest idea of how they feel about one another and their daughter. If he doesn't like her as a presidential candidate and disagrees with her positions on the issues, fine. He's entitled to his opinion. But he should confine his remarks about her to how he disagrees with her and to leave her personal life alone as it's none of his business.

And for him to say that a marriage based on a political partnership, rather than on romantic love "makes a mockery out of marriage", betrays Boortz' ignorance of the history of marriage. Marrying to create an alliance, political or otherwise, had been done for centuries and up until the 18th century, was much more common than marrying for love. Before that time, marriage was traditionally seen as more of a practical than a romantic matter.

Even in the 20th and 21st centuries, it's not uncommon for a man to marry the boss' daughter in hopes of one day inheriting a business or moving up more quickly in a company. I suppose what's getting Boortz' goat in this instance, is that the shoe is on the other foot with a woman supposedly marrying for a reason more commonly ascribed to men.

People marry for all sorts of reasons, not just Valentine's Day-type romantic love; there's not only one "right" reason to do so. And I'm sure most people get married for more than just one reason alone. If the Clintons are happy with their marriage, then who is he to criticize it? It's none of his business why they chose to get married and have a child, or why they choose to remain married.

Boortz talked about other rant-worthy topics in this broadcast as well, but I'll leave that for another post.


Saturday, January 5, 2008

America's Ten Most Lustful Cities

In a recent study to determine America's "Most Lustful Cities, ACNielsen provided a per-capita index of over-the-counter contraceptive purchases in major U.S. markets for the past 52 weeks.

The top ten lusty cities are:

1. Denver, Colorado

2. San Antonio, Texas (tie)

2. Portland, Oregon (tie)

4, Seattle, Washington

5. Salt Lake City, Utah (tie)

5. Boise, Idaho (tie)

6. Washington, DC

7. Cincinnati, Ohio (tie)

7. Columbus, Ohio (tie)

9. Baltimore, Maryland

10. Buffalo, NY (tie)

10. Buffalo, NY (tie)

It's interesting to note that only one city was in the south, though Washington, DC borders the southern state of Virginia. Obviously, cold weather makes people want to find fun ways of staying warm!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Some Friday Thoughts

I'm a bit pressed for time, so today's entry will be what would have been two too-short entries cobbled together.

Yesterday, while reading my local newspaper online, I saw a story about how a homeless man who pushes an overloaded grocery cart all around town had been hit by a car, late the night before. Though he has broken bones and severe internal injuries, he is expected to survive.

When I read the story, I knew who the man was immediately. While out driving, I've encountered him pushing his cart numerous times, usually smack in the middle of the road. I'm surprised that he'd not been hit by a car before now.

One night, while driving in heavy rain, I nearly ran him over myself. I'd just driven over a hill and was headed back down into a flat part of the road in a part of the street where the darkness was not touched by streetlights. Though it was well past midnight, he was out in the middle of the road, pushing that overloaded cart uphill in the pouring rain. It was the last place you'd expect to encounter a pedestrian. Fortunately, I was able to swerve and avoid him.

After I passed him, I stopped to call the police. During my time on the force, we often arrested people like this for "disorderly conduct", simply as a means to give such people a warm and dry shelter out of the rain, and to save them from their own recklessness. When I got the dispatcher on the line, I suggested that she send a car down for this very purpose and she promised to do so.

I don't know what this man's particular history is, but he's a living symbol of the failure of our mental health system.

The other night my son came to me, wanting my advice. Now that he has a steady girlfriend, he wanted to pick my brains about what I thought the best birth control would be for them. He doesn't want to become a father before he's ready, but he finds regular condom use to be disagreeable, like most men do. He came to me, figuring if anyone would know about such matters, it would be me.

As his girlfriend is rather young, I suggested the pill, as they don't care for the idea of an implant, either.

Whatever they choose, I'm glad they're being responsible and not leaving it up to chance.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Looking Back At the 70s

Recently, I read an article on Alternet that was a review of the book, The Great Funk: Falling Apart and Coming Together (on a Shag Rug) in the Seventies (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2007). In this book, the author, Thomas Hine, blames the culture of the 1970s for most of the woes facing America today. He refers to the 70s as "slum of a decade" in which "the country was running out of promise." In his view, the 70s falls short of the standards set by the world-changing 60s. "The politicians were awful. The economy was awful. The insipid harvest gold and avocado kitchens were awful," Hines says. "Finding your identity was extremely important," he wrote, when "each family member dressed to express" -- with enormous clashing checks and plaids, with star-studded lace-up boots and "fun fur" skirts and factory-embroidered faux batiks."

Most of the commenters disagreed, including me. I said, in part,

I came of age in the late 70s, graduating from HS in 1976.

The 70s were a great time to grow up. When I was in high school, there were no metal detectors nor cops roaming the halls. There were no moronic zero tolerance policies -- teachers still used good old common sense back then. "Helicopter parenting" was almost unknown.

I remember reading that in 1973, one person working full time for the minimum wage could keep three people above the poverty line. Now, the minimum wage won't even keep one person above it.

I remember being able to fill my first car up from dead empty to full on just five dollars. Nowadays, that five dollars won't even bump the gas hand up a notch.

Student loans didn't leave you in six figure debt for decades back then. And you didn't need 15 years of experience and a college degree to get any sort of a decent paying job in those days, either.

No one had ever heard of AIDS in those days -- the worst STD you could get back then could be cleared up by a prompt trip to the doctor.

People were less politically cynical back then. At that time, the ERA seemed like a lead-pipe cinch to pass. The right to choose had been established, with women and minorities making gains everywhere and the gay rights movement was beginning to gather steam.

Up until the late 70s, religious people practiced their religion privately and didn't think they had the right to take over the country to replace our democratic republic with a theocracy. Everyone said "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings" without any Christian whining about being a discriminated-against victim.

And not everyone wore those loud double-knit polyester plaid and checked leisure suits in flourescent bug-guts green. It was mainly older guys with a midlife crisis who tried that crap back then. Most guys my age wore jeans, with t shirts in summer, flannel shirts in winter, with sneakers or engineer boots.

I remember the 70s with much fondness. If I could have my cell phone, computer and internet back then, I might even want to go back there to live.

Those of you old enough to remember, how do you view the 70's?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

It's a Plot, I Tell Ya!

The other night I was listening to Neal Boortz yet again (I can't seem to stop doing so) and he said something totally off the wall, even for him.

As anyone who has listened to him for any time knows, Boortz rejects the idea of global warming, insisting that the changes we've seen in recent years are simply part of a natural climate cycle and that humans have little, if anything, to do with it. Well, that's fine if he believes that, and I actually hope that he's right and that our climate changes are something that will simply cycle back the other way at some time in the future. Unfortunately, I think he's wrong.

But the prudent and sensible thing to do is not to reject the idea of global warming out of hand until there is conclusive evidence one way or the other. It's better to be safe than sorry, and all that.

I've long suspected that Boortz' main objection to global warming theory is that efforts to reduce it will interfere with large corporations making money; the worship of the Almighty Dollar.

What I heard the other night confirmed my suspicions. Boortz made the comment that the real agenda of global warming activists is not to preserve the planet, but, rather, the destruction of capitalism! He went on to say that after communism in eastern Europe went defunct, the communists had to find a new vehicle to promote their anti-capitalist agenda, so they chose environmentalism. He apparently cannot conceive of anyone believing that a clean planet is its own reward. And never mind that capitalism will be effectively destroyed if we have no planet to make money on.

I don't know about you, but this comment places Boortz squarely in the tinfoil hat brigade in my book.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Banned Words for 2008

Michigan's Lake Superior State University has released its annual "List of Words and Phrases Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness." Following is the 2008 list:

• perfect storm

A cliche plundered from the title of a book, this expression is overused on TV to mean just about any coincidence.

• Webinar

I've not heard this one, but it apparently is a seminar that takes place online.

• waterboarding

I don't know about you, but when I hear this, I think of surfing and water sports, not torture.

• organic

When misused to describe not only food, but computer products or human behavior, and when used to describe something as "natural".

• wordsmith/wordsmithing

A pretentious cliche for "writing"

• author/authored

When used as a verb. We don't say that an artist "paintered" a painting, so we shouldn't say that an author, "authored a new best seller".

• post 9/11

I'm long been against reducing this tragedy to a sound bite. We don't refer to the attack on Pearl Harbor as "12/7", so I don't see why we refer to the terrorist attacks as 9/11.

• surge

When used to refer to a military build-up. Storms surge, not armies

• give back

When used to refer to the more fortunate members of society performing acts of charity. It makes me want to ask, "What did they steal and who are they giving it back to?"

• `blank' is the new `blank'

As in "50 is the new 30". I wish!

• Black Friday

To refer to the day after Thanksgiving as the first shopping day for Christmas.

• back in the day

I have to admit I'm guilty of this one.

• random

Mainly teenage use, as in, "You are so random!" It's used out of context much in the same way teens say "awesome", which was on last year's list.

• sweet

One that I love to hate. Used mainly by teens to mean, "Great!" or "Wonderful" or the ever-ubiquitous, "Awesome".

• decimate

A common exaggeration. "Decimate" means to "reduce by one-tenth", but most who use it mean "nearly completely wiped out".

• emotional

Used in a vague fashion commonly by news reporters, "It was an emotional day when they lost their home in a fire". Instead of referencing actual emotions, such as "distraught", "stunned", and so on, they simply say "emotional" to refer to all emotions.

• pop

I've not heard this one, but it refers mainly to decorators who say such drivel as "the addition of the red really makes it POP." Bleargh.

• It is what it is

A meaningless phrase used to avoid actually answering a question. Heard mainly in sports.

• under the bus

I'm guilty of this one too, as it makes me laugh. But I agree that it's getting worn out.

I made several suggestions of my own for last year's list which you can read on my New Year's Day entry of last year. I've only got one new suggestion for 2008:

• Pony up

Meaning to contribute money, usually after some prodding. As in, "He ponied up 20 bucks to pay his share of the bar tab." This one should be stampeded to death by a herd of wild horses.

Feel free to add words or phrases you love to hate.