Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pros and Cons of One Night Stands

While prowling the web to find something to write about, I found a site that discussed the pros and cons of one-night stands, which you can read about below. It's a rather superficial treatment of the subject, but I'm too tired to write anything more in depth tonight.:

The Pros:

* Sex is fun and it burns calories

* The commitment factor is zero: no obligations, tests, trials or torturous ‘we need to talk’ conversations.

* Sitting by the phone, or constantly checking your cell phone flies from the window.

* One of the most popular documented sexual fantasies is that which involves doing the deed with a perfect stranger: a one night stand can fulfill this fantasy without any freaky add-ons.

* I'd add the obvious pro that one night stands introduce variety into one's sex life.

The Cons:

* Stranger sex may be an exciting fantasy, but it can be dangerous; Gump’s chocolate box may turn out to be something else.

-- But the danger factor is part of what makes them exciting.

* While condoms act as a barrier for some of the nastier STDs, they don’t prevent things such as pubic lice or Herpes. The absence of a dental dam during cunnilingus may not be a wise idea if the giver has a cold sore on their mouth.

-- What the fuck is a "dental dam"?

* Peer pressure, or the need to fit in doesn’t necessarily translate to great sex.

-- Trust me, I don't engage in one night stands to "fit in".

* High alcohol consumption can impede sexual performance, to result in delayed orgasm and/or erectile dysfunction (‘softcock syndrome’).

-- Which is the main reason why I don't drink alcohol at all. I don't see why the author of this article thought that booze was an essential component of a one night stand.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Caption This Photo

In light of my previous entry, I thought I'd submit this photo to reader-generated captions. Submit your caption in the comment box below. The winner doesn't get anything but appreciation, however.

One Thing I'm Grateful For

Gas prices continue to rise in my area and there seemingly is no end in sight, as the US is expected to hit an unprecedented four dollars a gallon this summer.

I know British and European readers will think Americans are whining (whinging?) over nothing, considering that they've always had high gas prices. However, one must remember that the US does not have a national health care system and 47 million of us have no health insurance, with millions more becoming underinsured, as more companies are either cutting out health insurance altogether or offering inferior plans where one pays more and gets less.

But I am grateful for one thing.

I'm glad I'm driving this:

Instead of this:

It probably costs more to fill the tank of one of these behemoths once than I spend in groceries in a month.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Disaster or Opportunity?

Yesterday, I found out that one of my "friends with benefits" has moved into the same apartment complex as my primary lover. And not only did she move into the same complex -- she moved into the same building!

I'm of two minds about this. It could be a disaster -- a logistical nightmare that would provide ample occasion for unwanted conflict.

On the other hand, it could work out in my favor, as it's the perfect setup for impromptu threesomes, not to mention the gas I'd save in travel time.

I'm guessing the reality will be somewhere in between the two.

I do have an interesting life, don't I?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Time For A Change

Things are getting pretty tight around here.

I gassed up this past Sunday for $3.21 a gallon. It had been $3.15 the day before. The following Wednesday, I gassed up again and the prices had jumped to $3.39. Last night, it was up to $3.42.

My trips to the grocery store are telling a similar story. Last week, a four pack of Nine Lives cat food was $1.35. Last night, it was up to $1.50 and a sign by the shelves informed me that this was the "sale" price. Bananas had been 48 cents a pound -- now they're 58 cents.

Meanwhile, I've been on the same job for three years now and in all that time I've not gotten a single raise. Our business has also been suffering more as the gas prices have risen. People are cutting corners to offset the gas prices and one of the first things they'll cut is something perceived to be a luxury item. Did I also mention that I have no health insurance, paid sick days, retirement, or paid vacation?

I ask myself if I'm better off than I was eight years ago and the answer is a resounding NO. I have less real money to spend and I have fewer opportunities to improve my situation.

People in my area are fed up. Rightly or wrongly, John McCain, as a Republican, is viewed as four more years of the same ol' thing.

I'm ready for a change How about you?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Belief-O-Matic Religion Quiz

I didn't get much sleep last night, so I feel like I've been dragged through the mud at this point. I'm not particularly inspired to write anything today, so I leave you with the Belief-O-Matic religion matching quiz. The results indicate how many of one's personal beliefs match the faiths mentioned below:

1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Liberal Quakers (93%)
3. Secular Humanism (89%)
4. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (81%)
5. Neo-Pagan (79%)
6. New Age (74%)
7. Theravada Buddhism (74%)
8. Nontheist (68%)
9. Reform Judaism (68%)
10. Taoism (64%)
11. Mahayana Buddhism (60%)
12. Bahá'í Faith (53%)
13. New Thought (48%)
14. Orthodox Quaker (46%)
15. Scientology (38%)
16. Sikhism (38%)
17. Jainism (30%)
18. Orthodox Judaism (30%)
19. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (29%)
20. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (24%)
21. Islam (23%)
22. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (21%)
23. Seventh Day Adventist (16%)
24. Hinduism (14%)
25. Eastern Orthodox (11%)
26. Roman Catholic (11%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (0%)

To take this quiz, click here, and report your results below.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

There's Not a Roach Motel Big Enough To Handle This

Most people worry about having mice or roaches in their kitchens.

But a Florida woman came home the other night to find an
alligator in hers. The eight foot gator had come into the house by busting through her sliding screen door, then walked through the house to where she found it in the kitchen.

When she called 911, the dispatcher didn't believe her at first, asking whether what she'd seen was really an iguana. When animal control officers arrived, they were able to remove the alligator without incident. No one was hurt, except for the gator who had a minor cut when it broke a plate after knocking it off a table.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Life On Other Planets?

During a lecture he gave on Monday, scientist Stephen Hawking expressed the opinion that he believes that it is likely that life exists on other planets in our galaxy. He said that given the size of the universe, it is unlikely that Earth is the only planet to develop some sort of life.

"While there may be primitive life in our region of the galaxy, there don't seem to be any advanced intelligent beings," he said, though he did not discount intelligent life existing elsewhere in the universe.

In his opinion, the lack of success by the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project to discover signals from an alien civilization suggests that none exist within several 100 light-years of Earth. He offered two reasons why this could be so: aliens intelligent enough to beam signals into space may also be smart enough to build civilization-destroying weapons like nuclear bombs, he said. More likely, he added, is that primitive life is likely to develop, but intelligent life as we know it is exceedingly rare.

I would add a couple of other possibilities: there could be intelligent alien life that simply isn't at the level of technology to send or receive such signals or to recognize signals as such and it could be that our receiving equipment isn't sophisticated enough to receive signals or we're already getting them but not recognizing them.

Hawking, however, dismisses UFOs and stories of alien vistation and abductions. "Why would they only appear to cranks and weirdos?"

He also stressed the importance of ongoing space explorations, primarily as a way to ensure the long-term survival of the human race. "If the human race is to continue for another million years we will have to boldly go where no one has gone before," Hawking said.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Do It Yourself Paternity Tests

Home pregnancy tests have been around for around thirty years. Now, you can go to your local drugstore and buy a do-it-yourself paternity test.

The Identigene paternity test kit presently retails for $29.99 at Rite Aid drugstores. One customer who used one of the kits said, "Why not do it privately? We did this as discreetly, as efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible.”

“Everyone is purchasing the tests because they’re curious,” said Douglas Fogg, chief operating officer of Identigene, who expects to sell at least 52,000 tests this year. “They’re looking to establish questions about their own child or their own paternity.”

Some think the DIY test are a bad idea. “From our perspective, direct-to-consumer genetic tests raise all the same issues for lax government oversight, potentially misleading or false advertising and the potential for making profound medical decisions on the basis of poorly interpreted or understood results,” said Rick Borchelt, a spokesman for the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University.

Others disagree. Unlike genetic tests for health conditions, tests that use DNA to determine paternity are fairly simple to provide and fairly easy to interpret, said Michael S. Watson, executive director of the American College of Medical Genetics. One customer said that even though the tests may raise some ethical question, that she considered it more ethical to know the truth.

The Identigene kit includes swabs for collecting cell samples from the inside of the cheeks of the child and the alleged father. Collection of the mother’s cells is optional, but recommended to strengthen the results. The swabs are packaged and mailed to the Sorenson laboratory where they’re analyzed. Results are reported online, by phone or by mail in three to five business days. They come back as a probability figure that verifies paternity with 98 percent to 99 percent accuracy, Watson said.

Legal experts warn that consumers shouldn't use these tests and expect the results to hold up in court. “The jury’s still very much out on these tests in terms of reliability and establishing a chain of custody,” said Susan Crockin, a lawyer who specializes in reproductive technology, Because the cell samples are taken in private, there’s the potential for fraud.

Most of the users who have been buying the kits don’t plan to use the results to resolve legal issues, Fogg acknowledged. Rather, most are simply looking to answer social questions.

Watson estimates that between 5 percent and 10 percent of genetic tests he's conducted show a child is not related to the presumed father. This corresponds to statistics in a book I reviewed in an earlier blog entry, Sperm Wars by Robin Baker, which said that around 10 percent of children were not sired by their legal fathers.

What do you think? Personally, I think they're a great idea dn I wouldn't hesitate to use one if necessary.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Children: Setting Healthy Boundaries vs. Breaking Their Spirits

Last night while out driving, I tuned into the Focus on the Family show, to see if they'd say something that I could use as ranty blogging fodder. Most of the show was the usual, unremarkable fundie nonsense, but one segment set me off sufficiently for me to create this entry.

James Dobson was talking about kids who don't always obey their parents, using an incident with a three year old as an example. Dobson made the comment that challenging a parent's authority is the original inborn sin, i.e. evil. He elaborated that adults still carry around this "inborn sin" and the inability to obey without question is one of the things that destroys a society.

My first reaction was to wonder if Dobson thinks that God can't tell the difference between humans and sheep. Because, surely, if God wanted sheep, then there was no need for human beings to exist.

Secondly, a three year old challenging a parent's authority may be annoying, but it's neither evil nor sinful. It's the beginning of the process in which a child develops a separate identity from one's parents and is primarily a learning process. Children naturally test their boundaries in order to learn what their parents will permit. Challenging authority is also part of a child's natural curiosity to know why about everything in their world. Personally, I'd worry about a child's mental health if they were too docile.

It's a parent's role to set boundaries for their children that become increasing wider the older the child becomes. By responding to the inevitable challenges to their authority in a teaching spirit, rather than in a punitive one, it helps a child make sense of their world, to learn to reason, and to acquire a mature sense of ethics and morality that isn't based on fear of punishment. And, it enables them to stand up for what is right, rather than blindly following authority for its own sake.

Parents setting healthy, common-sense boundaries for their children does not involve breaking their spirits as Dobson seems to believe. Indeed, the prevalence of an authoritarian parenting style in Germany in the early 20th century was no doubt a large part of why Hitler was able to take over the country and control it for 12 years, as most Germans had been conditioned as children to obey authority unquestioningly.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Quotes From Winston Churchill

I've always considered Winston Churchill to be one of the most eloquent speakers of the 20th century. Following are a selection his quotes:

Great and good are seldom the same man.

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.

A prisoner of war is a man who tries to kill you and fails, and then asks you not to kill him.

An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.

Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all.

He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.

Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.

History is written by the victors.

I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.

If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.

If you are going through hell, keep going.

If you go on with this nuclear arms race, all you are going to do is make the rubble bounce.

If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.

Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on.

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Collection of Neologisms

Not too long ago, I found an interesting site, Word Spy, that is a collection of neologisms coined in the last 20 years or so. Following is a list of some of these words, complete with definitions.

corporate anorexia
n. A business disorder, marked by an extreme fear of becoming inefficient that leads to excessive cost-cutting to the point of serious loss of business and sometimes bankruptcy.

bozo explosion
n. The large number of inept employees that a company ends up with when it hires an incompetent executive, who in turn hires incompetent managers, who then hire incompetent workers. clue stick n. A metaphorical stick used to "hit" a person in an effort to remedy that person's ignorance or incompetence. In the same vein:
"The Top 10 things to say to the terminally clueless:
10. Step into the rain and let a few clue drops hit you.
9. Go to a restaurant and order something off the clue menu.
8. Open up a book and read a clue chapter.
7. Step on the elevator and get off at the clue floor.
6. Pick up the clue phone.
5. Buy a ticket on the clue train.
4. Hit the road and go to the clue outlet mall.
3. Take a dip in the clue end of the pool.
2. Make like a detective and find a clue.
1. Take a hike in the clue forest."
—"Send a movie executive to clue camp," The Orlando Sentinel, October 21, 1994

n. A person who is both stupid and extremely rude or obnoxious.

n. A pile of discarded clothes on the floor of a person's room. [Blend of floor and wardrobe.]

n. A song or tune that repeats over and over inside a person's head. Also: ear-worm, ear worm.

n. A sedentary lifestyle focused on screen-based activities, particularly television, the Internet, and video games.

n. Food derived from genetically modified (GM) plants and animals.

noun. A person who obsessively gathers the complete collection of a particular set of items (such as a musician's recordings or an author's books).

Frankenstein veto
n. A veto in which the words in a bill are deleted or rearranged to form a new bill with an entirely different meaning.

buzzword bingo
n. A word game played during corporate meetings. Players are issued bingo-like cards with lists of buzzwords such as paradigm and proactive. Players check off these words as they come up in the meeting, and the first to fill in a "line" of words is the winner.

adj. Relating to something positioned beside or within reach of a toilet.

n. A jobless person who has access to money — especially a trust fund income — and who affects a laid back, bohemian lifestyle. —adj. Relating to such a lifestyle.

n. 1. A fake blog containing links to sites affiliated with the blogger with the intent of boosting the search engine rankings and ad impressions for those sites. 2. Spam links added to the comments section of a blog. [Blend of spam and blog.] —splogger

stink lines
n. In an illustration or cartoon, the wavy lines that appear over an object to indicate that it smells bad; the metaphorical stench emanating from something that is extremely bad. Also: stinklines.

noun. An e-mail message spewed out in all directions.

barking head
noun. A pundit or commentator who speaks in a loud voice and whose comments tend to be abrasive, aggressive, and partisan

butt bus
n. A bus parked near a pub or restaurant that is used as the establishment's smoking section.

acronym. Single, Independent, No Kids: the Self-Centered Urban Male. Used to describe the growing number of heterosexual men who have little or no interest in marriage and children.

--I guess that would be me

noun. Lovers who maintain their independence and individuality. The writers Michael Holroyd and Margaret Drabble, who for the first 15 years of their marriage lived in separate houses, provide the archetype.

--this one fits me pretty well, too.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

How Much Money Is Enough?

This past week, Harry Potter author, JK Rowling, has been testifying in court in a suit she brought against a fan, Steve Vander Ark, and publisher RDR Books, for attempting to turn Vander Ark's long-established website, The Harry Potter Lexicon, into print version. The Harry Potter Lexicon is a popular reference site to the popular book series.

Rowling claimed that publication of the lexicon has "gutted" her plans to publish a comprehensive Harry Potter Encyclopedia and that Vander Ark's book would be plagiarism. Vander Ark's publisher contends that the books would fall under a fair use allowable by law for reference books.

I don't buy Rowling's contention. First of all, Vander Ark's Lexicon is simply a handy guide to the Harry Potter world; it only arranges Rowling's own words by topic in encyclopedia form to make it easier for fans to look up things. He doesn't claim that he wrote any of the original material. In other words, he's an arranger, not a composer. Anthony Falzone, the attorney representing the book's publisher, countered that the encyclopedia, meant to be a companion to the books or the films, not only does not diminish the original novels, but actually enhances the enjoyment of them. Falzone said the point of the Lexicon is "to organise and discuss the complicated and very elaborate world of Harry Potter". Indeed, what's the point of buying the Lexicon, if one does not buy the original books first?

Secondly, the Lexicon was not meant to supplant Rowling's planned Encyclopedia and cannot for one simple reason. His Lexicon is limited to material already revealed in the books. Rowling's Encyclopedia, on the other hand, will contain background information not included in the books that will flesh out what has already been written. This information was not included in the novels so that the novels would flow better and for reasons of avoiding excessive verbosity. Rowling's Encyclopedia, above all, will answer all the unanswered questions readers still had after finishing the final novel. Most Harry Potter fans will want a copy of both the Lexicon and the Encyclopedia and, if made to choose, nearly all would choose Rowling's book over Vander Ark's.

Rowling has said "This isn't about money." I don't buy that, either. For one thing, the Lexicon site has been online since 2002 and Rowling never complained about it until Vander Ark planned to turn the site into a book. Warner Bros. had even flown him to the set of the fifth Harry Potter movie and used his lexicon every day during production, without Rowling objecting to his role as a consultant.

Earlier today it was announced that Judge Robert Patterson advised Rowling to settle her dispute with Vander Ark out of court.

Having read the various news articles about this case in the last few days begs the question: How much money is enough? JK Rowling is already the richest woman in the UK, considerably richer than the Queen herself. Her suit against Vander Ark, whose internet Lexicon has only served to help increase popularity of Rowling's books, smacks of petty greed in my view. She'd be much better off if she simply let it go and not fret over any small profit Vander Ark could gain from the publication of the Lexicon, as it could only be a paltry sum compared to her fortune.

This is just my opinion and your mileage may vary, of course.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The FLDS Compound Raid: Identifying the Correct Root of the Problem

Once again, Alternet has provided me with excellent blogging fodder. In today's article, Prosecuting Polygamy, the author talks about the recent raid on the FLDS ranch in Texas, taking the position:

Authorities must vigorously enforce the laws against polygamy to stem the abuse of women and children in fundamentalist Mormon communities.

To say I found her opinion and the resulting article to be extremely short-sighted would be to make an understatement. Following below is my response to the article:

]The Author Misidentifed the Root Cause of the Problem

First, to be completely correct technically, what the FLDS is practicing is PolyGYNY, not polygamy, per se. Polygyny is when only men may have multiple spouses, where polygamy allows both men and women to do so. Polygyny is the most common type of polygamy, but that doesn't make it synonymous with polygamy, as the media is usually prone to assume.

Second, the root cause behind the abuse of the women and children here is an extreme of patriarchal fundamentalist religion, not the polygyny, per se. The truth of this is borne out by the fact that children who live in insular patriarchal fundamentalist religious compounds in monogamous families typically are subject to the same types of abuse. Monogamy, in and of itself, is hardly a protection against abuse for children or women.

Third, the existence of polyamory, which allows both men and women to have multiple spouses, but is secular and egalitarian in nature, shows that abuse is not an inherent characteristic in multi-spouse families.

Fourth, adequate laws already exist to protect people from domestic abuse and underage/forced marriage, regardless of the form their families take. The fault here lies with law enforcement officials who were hesitant to enforce laws that they have no compunction about enforcing when the abuse happens in a monogamous and/or secular family, because our society tends to view religion as a sacred cow.

It's not the form a family takes that determines likelihood of abuse, but, rather, how people act within whatever form their relationships take. What increases the likelihood of abuse is adhering to an extreme insular patriarchal fundamentalist religion, regardless of whether the marriages are monogamous or polygynous.

The government rightly needs to protect children from underage marriage, whether it's monogamous or polygynous...or polyandrous, for that matter. It also needs to protect the women from marriage under duress, regardless of age. And for those polygynous marriages that were entered into by those old enough to consent of their own free will, then leave them alone.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Thoughts on Circumcision

This morning, I read an interesting article on Alternet about circumcision. The author addressed the question:

Circumcision remains one defining trait for Jewish men. But how does a Jewish feminist parent rationalize the tradition today?

Written in a tongue-in-cheek style, the author ponders how to reconcile her Jewishness with her liberalism, where it is currently not politically correct to be in favor of circumcision. She researched the topic and found quite a few anti-circ links, from Jewish, other religious, and secular perspectives.

Most of these groups "propagate the dangers and medical futility of circumcising male newborns, and 'facilitate [the] healing' process for the estimated 1.2 million Americans still 'diminished' every year."

She mentioned support groups and message boards for men who believe they are "victims" because they were circumcised.She mentioned a man who who posted that "circumcision was 'the single most traumatic event of my life' on the Circumcision Resource Center’s website. Or the forty-seven-year-old man from Atlanta who blogged about being ignored, explaining that, 'When we men discuss our feelings about circumcision, no one listens, not even doctors. I'm one of the millions of men who doesn’t like being circumcised. I wish I had been able to scream at the doctors, ‘Hands off, it’s mine!’'"

The article mentions men who feel so strongly that they were victimized that they attempt to have their foreskins restored, either by surgical or rather painful non-surgical means and have even formed an organization, The National Organization of Restoring Men.

My response to this article follows below:

I'm not Jewish, but I was circumcised as most American baby boys were in the late fifties. It's been a total non-issue for me throughout my life. I don't feel like a "victim", and I'm quite happy with the appearance and performance of my penis.

It wasn't until the last few years or so that I even heard about the anti-circ movement. I have to admit it pretty much baffles me, as I do not see my life as having been diminished for the simple fact of being circumcised.

I rolled my eyes when reading about the man who said that his circumcision was the "most traumatic event of his life". Give me an effing break. I can understand a man perhaps wishing that he'd been left uncut, but I don't get all the hand-wringing and claims of continued "suffering".

And the idea of men forming a group to piss and moan about what victims they are because they were circumcised decades before, when there are people who go to bed hungry every night, people truly suffering and dying in cancer and AIDS wards, and a host of other examples of true suffering, just leaves me speechless. The idea of foreskin restoration leaves me similarly speechless.

Of course, disliking circumcision is a perfectly valid opinion. But for oneself, it's over and done with, and I see little benefit in embracing the notion of perpetual victimhood. Rather, a more positive way to express one's opinion would be to leave one's own sons uncut and to provide information for those future parents who are undecided about this issue, then leave them to make their own decision.

I blogged about this a few years ago and ended up having to write a second entry because of the heated responses. To read these entries click here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

New Study Claims Regular Churchgoers Less Prone to Infidelity

A new study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family indicates that regular attendance at religious services is a predictor of marital fidelity.

Led by David C. Atkins and Deborah E. Kessel of the Fuller Theological Seminary, the study covered how various facets of religiosity, including prayer, closeness to God, faith, and religious activities related to infidelity.

The authors found that regular religious service attendance was the only reliable predictor of infidelity. Prayer, importance of religiousness, and strong reported faith were not reliable predictors.

The authors believe that regular attendance likely implies prevention of infidelity because it is a shared activity between spouses. Attending services can create a strong network of relationships within the church, synagogue, or mosque that can provide social support to the spouses. Also, attending services means that an individual is hearing religious teaching on marital fidelity and the general importance of marriage.

For myself personally, this seems valid at face value because I've not stepped foot in a church since my teen years. But, for the most part, this research doesn't ring true to me.

First of all, though monogamy is heavily rooted in religious belief and practice, over the centuries it has woven itself so inextricably into the fabric of western culture that most wholly secular people value it as well and do not regard it as belonging especially to religion.

Secondly, my personal experience tells me that this is a load of horseshit. Some of the biggest philanderers I've known have been regular church goers. I remember one former coworker who "got religion" and ended up becoming the pastor of a small Baptist church in town. I remember being skeptical of his newly found religious fervor at the time, as he was about as big of a libertine as I am. Sure enough, he ended up getting fired from his job as pastor for having an affair with the church secretary.

And if the news media is any indication, my coworker's story isn't at all rare. Can you say Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, anyone?

Of course, this study was biased as it was conducted by a religious group, so that in and of itself, should warn anyone to take its results with a grain of salt.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Obama's Remarks About Working Class Voters

I'm guessing that everyone is aware of the kerfuffle that has resulted from Barack Obama's comments about frustrated working-class voters, expressing why he's perplexed about failing to win over many of these voters.:

"It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

I agree that this was a poor choice of words. But if I'm reading him correctly, he's expressing a common concern among Democrats about working class voters who inexplicably vote against their own economic interests by voting Republican.

Such voters many times will vote based on issues such as opposition to gay marriage and/or abortion, support for anti-flag burning laws, and so on, which have nothing to do with improving the quality of their day to day lives. They tend to vote Republican based on these issues, ignoring the fact that Republicans often vote against measures that would improve their everyday lives in the area of health care, worker's rights, educational assistance, and other similar issues.

The 2004 book "What's the Matter With Kansas?" by Thomas Frank addresses this phenomenon in depth, so Obama is hardly the first person to address this issue.

Obama later clarified his remarks by saying:

"They are angry. They feel like they have been left behind. They feel like nobody is paying attention to what they're going through.

"So I said, well you know, when you're bitter you turn to what you can count on. So people, they vote about guns, or they take comfort from their faith and their family and their community. And they get mad about illegal immigrants who are coming over to this country."

While I wish Obama had chosen his words more carefully, I agree with the gist of what he said: that voters who vote Republican based on symbolic wedge issues, often contrary to their own economic interests, need to be reached and then to address the things that would truly improve their lives.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Spouse Isn't the Same As a Car

Proposed legislation is pending in the SC Senate that would reinstate an obsolete law that once allowed jilted spouses to sue people who had "stolen" their spouses for alienation of affection.

“It should be a law. It’s just like if someone steals your car. If someone steals your wife,” there should be consequences, said sponsor Sen. Jake Knotts, R-Lexington.

I'm sorry, but a spouse is in no way like a car. A married person does not own their spouse like they own a car.

A second point is that a divorce is between the married couple only. The straying spouse is responsible for their own behavior, not the person they strayed with. The third person didn't take marriage vows and it's not up to them to uphold them.

When overturning the original law in 1992, Chief Justice David Harwell wrote for the majority that such “heart balm” laws “were rooted in antiquated perceptions that wives are chattel of husbands.” The high court scrapped the law also because of its propensity to be used as blackmail.

Hopefully, the attempt to exhume this antiquated law will die in committee.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Eyes Have It

A university study suggests that we can judge a person's attitudes towards relationships simply by studying his or her features.

Results suggest that men looking for a quick roll in the hay should look for women with big eyes. Women interested in the same should look for men with square jaws, prominent noses and small eyes rather than males with softer features. I'm guessing that if one wants a long term relationship, one should look for mates with the opposite features.

I don't know about you, but this seems like junk science to me. I've found through vast experience that I can't really guess a woman's receptivity to casual sex based solely on her appearance.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Memories in a Song

Going through the supermarket this evening, I heard an old song that brought back a memory from years ago that I'd not thought about in a long time. It was the old Fifth Dimension song, "Wedding Bell Blues" from 1969.

It's part of my memory because my son's mother used to sing this one to me all the time before we got married (such a subtle hint, hmm). She'd change Bill to Will when singing this song to me. I guess you could say it was "our song".

Reading the words now again after so many years, they still seem oddly appropriate, as the song spoke to my reluctance to marry.

Bill, I love you so, I always will
I look at you and see the passion eyes of May
Oh, but am I ever gonna see my wedding day
I was on your side Bill when you were losin'
I never scheme or lie Bill, there's been no foolin'
But kisses and love won't carry me till you marry me Bill

I love you so, I always will
And in your voice I hear a choir of carousels
Oh, but am I ever gonna hear my wedding bells
I was the one who came runnin' when you were lonely
I haven't lived one day not lovin' you only
But kisses and love won't carry me til you marry me Bill

I love you so, I always will
And though devotion rules my heart I take no bows
But Bill you're never gonna take those wedding vows
Oh, come on Bill
Oh, come on Bill
Come on and marry me Bill
I got the wedding bell blues
Please marry me Bill
I got the wedding bell blues
Marry me Bill

Feel free to name some of your songs with current or former partners in the comment box.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Ignoring "Expert" Advice, Yet Still Getting Good Results

I clicked on a link recently that brought me to a site that gave men pointers on how to attract and impress women. I read the tips provided and had to laugh because I don't follow most of them, yet I never seem to lack for bed partners. This particular advice list was telling men what every bachelor should own. Following is the list, with my comments.

1. A top-notch coffee/espresso maker
I don't even own a standard coffee pot, as I never drink the stuff. That's OK, because I don't bring women home to drink coffee. We can go to a cafe, if that's what she wants.

2. A lamp in your bedroom
I've got one of these -- doesn't everyone? I have it so I can read in bed and never thought it would especially impress a woman.

3. Swiffer sweeper + Swiffer cloths + Swiffer wet cloths
If my place is too nasty, I generally go to her place. And I'm guessing that a woman has better things to do when visiting me than checking the brand of my cleaning products.

4. A comfortable couch

I've got one of those, too, but again, it's not to impress women, but rather because my ass doesn't much like sitting on a hard bench. But there's no way I'd buy the "$1,200 Mercer" (whatever that is) that the article recommended.

5. Nice underwear

I have to agree with this one. If I'm going out to get laid, you can be sure I won't be wearing anything raggy with holes in it. I wear nice boxers -- never tighty whities.

6. A key-ring that can fix, cut, and open anything
Yeah, right. If a woman has a Boy Scout fetish I can see her being impressed with something like this, but otherwise, I don't get it.

7. $150+ jeans
Whaaaaat? You've got to be kidding me. I'll stick to my classic fit Lees and Levis, thank you very much, and spend the money I saved on something else. I don't bother with high-maintenance types where the price of my jeans would be a make or break deal, anyway. If I'm going to buy something expensive, clothes-wise, I'd rather lay down the money for a well-made leather jacket.

8. $200+ dress shoes
See above. I dress up about once per decade and there's no way I'd spend that much on a single pair of shoes.

9. 300-Thread-Count Cotton Sheets
People actually count the number of threads in a sheet? Who knew? Besides, the women I bring to my bed are too occupied with better things than counting the threads in my sheets.

10. The Joy of Cooking
I don't bring women home to eat. If she's hungry, we go to a restaurant.

There you have it. I ignore most of these "must-haves" and I still get laid regularly anyway. I guess the women I see haven't read this list.

Monday, April 7, 2008

A Woman After My Own Heart

While checking my email earlier today, I got an email from the Huffington Post with a list of article links. When I came upon one entitled, "Less Monogamy, More Fun", I immediately clicked. It seemed as if there was someone writing for them who thinks like me.

I know some of you are sick of my posts on the monogamy/libertine thing, but I didn't have anything else to write about today, and I thought my response to this article would make a good post, nonetheless. Feel free to stop reading now if you are sick of the topic.

The author, Suzanne Portnoy, is a woman after my own heart. Portnoy is the author of two books, The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker and The Not So Invisible Woman, two erotic memoirs that recount her sexual adventures,

She is 45, divorced five years ago after a monogamous marriage. Single again, she came to the realization that monogamy was no longer for her. "When it comes to relationships, I opt for the plural over the singular, the now over the forever. When I want an orgasm, it's just a phone call away," she said.

Amen. A woman after my own heart, my female counterpart.

I wrote a rather lengthy reponse, which I had to cut down considerably because Huffpost has a 250 word minimum. The entire comment is posted below

I am the author's male counterpart. I'm in her age bracket and I've always lived an openly and unapologetically non-monogamous life. I'm not "polyamorous" in that I don't love everyone I have sex with, nor am I a swinger, as I'm not in an emotionally monogamous marriage and I don't approach my sex life as an organized couples activity. Neither am I a "cheater", as I'm not married, nor do I ever agree to sexual exclusivity with any lover. Rather, as my handle indicates, I'm a libertine, a sexual and emotional free agent, being not socially, physically, or emotionally monogamous.

I do not believe that humans are naturally monogamous and I have no desire to try, preferring to live in harmony with my own nature. My sex/relationship life consists mainly of having several "friends with benefits", along with the occasional one-night stand. From time to time, I have deeper emotional relationships,

I like the freedom to come and go as I please and it's easier for me to avoid sexual ruts, which tend to be created by excessive familiarity; the same old, same old, with the same old person. As one author put it, I don't do well, "mating in captivity".

There are quite a few other women like her,out there -- I've slept with quite a few of them. They're not wanting to put in the time and emotional effort into a committed monogamous relationship for many valid reasons. Some have recently divorced or broken up from long term relationships and don't want to jump into a new one -- but still have sexual needs. Others have busy careers that are the main focus of their lives -- but still have sexual needs. Others simply prefer to live alone and maintain their emotional independence -- but still have sexual needs. There's nothing wrong with any of this, as long as those involved are on the same page and accept the nature of the relationship. I've spend my life being the friend with benefits to many such women and will continue to do so as long as I'm able.

Many women are realizing what most men have always known -- that sex and love are not the same thing, nor should they always have to occur together. Sex with love is a fine thing with the right person, but sex without love with agreeable partners can be a mighty fine thing, too.

Naturally, the libertine life isn't for many people -- but neither is the monogamous life. But there's room for both kinds of people (and many other variations in between!) out there.

Live and let live, I say.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Movies Names That Sound Like You're Taking A Dump

I laughed my ass off while reading this list. I hope you do, too.

Operation Dumbo Drop
The Remains of the Day
The Running Man
Lord of the Flies
Days of Thunder
Loose Cannons
The Milagro Beanfield Wars
The Fast and The Furious
Cheaper by the Dozen
Deep Impact
The Happy Ending
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Midnight Run
Reign of Fire
The Great Escape
Dirty Work
Mission Impossible
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
Drop Zone
Night Shift
Naked Gun 2: The Smell of Fear
Like Water for Chocolate
Blazing Saddles
Sweet Smell Of Success
Bring it On
It Happened One Night
Easy Come, Easy Go
A Fine Mess
The Harder They Fall
The Big Shot
The Longest Day
The Big Squeeze
Blast from the Past
You Can't Take It With You
Waiting to Exhale
Gone With the Wind
Dirty Dancing
The Sound of Music
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure
Cannonball Run
If These walls Could Talk
Any Which Way You Can
Some Like It Hot
Joe Versus the Volcano
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Bringing Down The House
In The Line Of Fire
Something's Gotta Give
A Mighty Wind
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Dirty Harry
Sudden Impact
The Cable Guy
Dr. Doolittle
The Human Stain
The Dirty Dozen
Some Came Running
Internal Affairs
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Fire Down Below
Winnie the Pooh's Grand Adventure
Scent of a Woman
Looking for Mister Goodbar
Hope Floats
The Vanishing
Still Breathing
Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
Big Business
Final Destination
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Mean Streak
Foul Play
Stand and Deliver

Friday, April 4, 2008

An Irrelevant Question

While visiting Butler University recently during her travels across the country campaigning for her mother, Chelsea Clinton was asked by a student journalist whether she thought the Monica Lewinsky affair had reflected negatively on her mother's credibility.

In response, Ms Clinton said, ""Wow, you're the first person actually that's ever asked me that question in the, I don't know maybe, 70 college campuses I've now been to, and I do not think that is any of your business."

I'm baffled. I don't see how the Lewinsky affair icould affect Hillary's credibility The Lewinsky affair was not a threesome and did not involve HIllary in any way. Most people would consider her the injured party in this incident and in no way responsible for what happened.

Surely, people can come up with better questions to ask Chelsea Clinton that actually have some relevance in reference to her mother's bid for President. Anyone with a half an ounce of brains would know that Bill Clinton getting an extramarital blow job ten years ago would have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on whether or not Hillary would be a competent President.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Pests in Public

I've written a few times about how I handle people who ring my doorbell uninvited, especially those selling religion door-to-door.

But I don't think I've covered what I do when approached by people in public, such as at the mall, who are selling things, religion, or who want me to take some sort of inane survey.

It's quite simple. I do the "Helen Keller routine". That is, I play deaf, dumb, and blind. I keep on walking and give absolutely no indication that I heard them, saw them, or are even aware of their existence. I figure that with this type of cold selling, there's no point in giving them even the tiniest of openings.

Some of them don't get it, though. I've had some of them to follow me for quite awhile, bleating, "Sir! Sir! Sir! Sir!"

It never works, however. The more insistent they are at catching my attention, the more I am obdurately determined to ignore them. I especially relish doing this to those losers who try to bum a cigarette off me in a parking lot. I can't be bothered to tell them I don't smoke.

How about you? How do you handle annoyances of this type?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Some Sex Myths Debunked

While browsing the net to find something to write about, I found a couple of sites that debunked myths about sex, particularly those about infidelity. Following is a list compiled from two sites that squared pretty much with my own experiences.

Men want more sex than women do

Of course, the first thing I'd ask is "which man and which woman"? But even in general, this is an erroneous statement that does not take other factors into account. Because the average woman does most of the housework in addition to a paid job, women tend to be too tired for sex more often than men. Hormones also tend to make women want more sex at certain times of the month, where desire for men tends to be spread out more equally.

Sex therapist Ian Kerner also made the interesting statement: The idea that men want sex more than woman is absolutely a myth. As a sex therapist, the main issue I work on is mismatched libido, and believe it or not I meet way more sex-starved wives than husbands. In fact, a recent study in the British publication the "New Scientists" has revealed that married men have lower levels of testosterone than single men of the same age.

Hmm, I knew I stayed single for a reason!

If you're truly a great lover, you should know how to please anyone

Experience is indeed helpful for successful sexual encounters, in that one tends to build up a wider repertoire of sexual techniques, but it's not the only component that goes into pleasure. Perception (level of attraction and/or emotional response), attitude, and communication are also factors.

Happy couples have good sex most of the time
This myth is closely related to my tendency to get bored with too much familiarity; to lose the spark when a partner gets too familiar. It's also true that different people have a different concept of what they consider "good sex"

Ian Kerner said: "In my experience, there are often two sexual types: "thrill-seekers" and "creatures of habit." The former always wants more, more, more, and new and different experiments. The creatures of habit likes things the way they are: in a bed for example, a few reliable moves that lead to mutual satisfaction. The best relationships are when thrill-seekers are paired with thrill seekers and creatures of habit are paired with creatures of habit."

Naturally, I'm the first type, the "thrill-seeker", and I would venture to guess that those in this category tend to me more non-monogamous in nature than those of the second group.

Men sleep around more than women do
This is true to some extent, but it's traditionally been more a matter of opportunity, rather than an inherent difference in desire between the sexes. Because of reliable birth control, which minimizes the risk of unwanted pregnancy, the likelihood for women to engage in casual sex has approached that of men in recent years.

But because women are still judged more harshly for promiscuity than men, women also tend to underreport the number of lovers they've had, while men tend to overreport. iVillage sex expert Tracey Cox pointed out that "a recent study found women only tend to remember significant lovers, who were part of relationships, forgetting (somewhat conveniently) one-night-stands or holiday flings."

You shouldn't have to plan sex - it should be spontaneous or something's wrong
This is a problem common with monogamous couples -- and it's one of the reasons why I avoid monogamy. It's what I call the "in a rut syndrome".

Tracey Cox said, "Anyone who expects to be spontaneously turned on by their partner 10 years and two kids in, really is kidding themselves. The human nervous system is programmed to become desensitized the more of the same stimulation it gets. Considering most of us have sex in exactly the same way and it's with the same person, it's no wonder we have to put a bit of thought into it to keep sex good."

If my partner had an affair, it means he or she doesn't love me/Affairs happen only in unhappy and unloving marriages.
While affairs can happen for this reason, more often this isn't so because extramarital sex usually isn't about love, but rather a desire for variety and for the thrill of "forbidden" sex. It's closely related to the "rut syndrome" mentioned above.

Tracey Cox said: "It doesn't necessarily mean your partner doesn't love you - but it does mean he or she doesn't respect you if you had agreed to be monogamous [emphasis mine]. While some affairs do mean something is missing from your relationship, a lot of affairs are just about sex. A certain kind of sex. Sex on the sly, a bit on the side...If you're the type of person whose moral values mean you don't see extramarital sex as something wrong, you could easily have affairs and still love your partner.[emphasis mine again]

Ian Kerner said: "Sexual attraction isn't always just about love. It's about passion, unpredictability and spontaneity - qualities that are hard to maintain in a long-term relationship, but that can be found quickly through infidelity...We have to understand that love and sexual attraction do not necessarily go together, and sometimes work against each other. In the end, human beings require newness, novelty, intellectual and emotional engagement. That's what fuels the expansion and development of a relationship and when those qualities start to wane people start to think about how to get it elsewhere."

This is strongly correlates with why I personally find monogamy unworkable for myself.

A person having an affair shows less interest in sex at home.
Not necessarily. Sometimes it's actually the reverse that happens as the straying partner will sometimes bring home new techniques and passion is often multiplied by having more than one partner. I know my primary lover and I tend to have better sex during times when I've been seeing a new lover.

The person having an affair isn’t “getting enough” at home.
This myth is sometimes used to "blame" the partner of a straying spouse, but it's often untrue. Again, the "rut syndrome" comes into play here, as well as a simple desire for variety.

In conclusion, it seems to me that a key to avoiding sexual problems is to avoid getting into sexual ruts. It's a built-in flaw of monogamy, that can be responded to in two major ways.

For those like me, one can simply opt out of monogamy altogether and seek variety openly, which ironically tends to delay the onset of the "rut syndrome" longer with a particular partner.

Those committed to monogamy, however, need not despair, but they'll have to work harder to maintain passion over the long term of the relationship in order to avoid ruts and the affairs that can spring from them.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Some Interesting Quotes

My ass is worn out tonight and I'm too tired to concentrate on writing anything, so I leave you with a list of interesting quotes.

A "Normal" person is the sort of person that might be designed by a committee. You know, "Each person puts in a pretty color and it comes out gray."
~Alan Sherman

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
~Dr. Seuss

A man must consider what a rich realm he abdicates when he becomes a conformist.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking. ~J.K. Galbraith

Before you can break out of prison, you must first realize you're locked up. ~Author Unknown

I am not in this world to live up to other people's expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine.
~Fritz Perls

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it - even if I have said it - unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.

Our concern must be to live while we're alive... to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a facade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are.
~Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

The plague of mankind is the fear and rejection of diversity: monotheism, monarchy, monogamy and, in our age, monomedicine. The belief that there is only one right way to live, only one right way to regulate religious, political, sexual, medical affairs is the root cause of the greatest threat to man: members of his own species, bent on ensuring his salvation, security, and sanity.
~Thomas Szasz

Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.
-- JFK

Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.
-- W. Somerset Maugham

Each man must grant himself the emotions that he needs and the morality that suits him.
-- Remy De Gourmont

Virtue is its own punishment.
- Aneurin Bevan