Saturday, August 30, 2008

Peggy Hill Runs for Vice President

It seems as if I was premature, to say the least, in my entry yesterday about McCain's VP pick. Rather than saying his choice was an "astute" one (it's not), I should have said I could see McCain's motivations. And though I can see his thought process, I think it's a gamble that's going to backfire on him.

He may have chosen her partially to attract disgruntled Hillary supporters -- but surely there are more experienced, capable Republican women he could have chosen? The former Governor of New Jersey, Christine Todd Whitman immediately comes to mind as one example.

And it seems as if I was dead wrong in predicting that the religious right would be displeased with his choice. Many leaders in the religious right have expressed approval, which indicates that another reason McCain chose her was to attract their votes.

I had thought the relgious right would be take the view that a woman with young children should be at home raising them, rather than running for VP. But I forgot to take into account the "Do As I Say, Not As I Do" streak that has always been present among the religious right wing, as was perhaps best illustrated by anti-feminist activist Phyllis Schlafly, who believed a woman's highest calling was to be a stay at home mother, yet she never was a "simple" housewife, but rather has devoted her life to promoting several politically and religiously right wing causes. The religious right has always made room for forceful female tokens who articulately express their viewpoints, as long as they remain exceptions to the rule, and do not encourage rank and file women to do likewise.

It also appears as if Sarah Palin is more to the right politically than I got from the initial impression of her. After doing a bit of reading yesterday, it seems as if she's against a woman's right to choose, she's got ties to big oil, believes that creationism ought to be taught alongside evolution in the schools, opposes same-sex marriage, she was a supporter of the ultra right wing Pat Buchanan's bid for the Presidency, she dismisses global warming theories, to cite a few examples.

After listening to her speak yesterday (after I'd written yesterday's entry), I had to wonder if McCain was kidding us. She gave the impression that she's still a small-town soccer mom addressing the PTA, rather than a candidate capable of being the leader of the free world on a moment's notice should McCain be elected. Actually, she reminded me strongly of the character Peggy Hill (from the TV show, King of the Hill), a self-important woman who constantly overestimates her abilities and qualifications and who is always trying to get involved in activities where she clearly out of her depth.

When the Vice Presidential debates come, the highly capable and experienced Joe Biden is going to wipe up the floor with her. Regardless of political party, all one needs to ask themselves is which one they would prefer dealing with global issues and foreign leaders; to lead our nation should it become necessary. I think the answer is obvious.

Your thoughts?

Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain Chooses Palin For VP

John McCain has chosen Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Very astute move on his part.

Palin provides the necessary contrast to McCain. At 44, she is young enough to be McCain's daughter. She is three years younger than Barack Obama.

Governor of Alaska since 2006, she was the former mayor of Wasilla, AK. So, she's not a Washington insider, which provides another contrast with McCain.

As a woman, she is likely to attract the more disgruntled former supporters of Hillary Clinton who just can't get on board with Obama, (which baffles the hell out of me, by the way).

Though she is a conservative, I'm guessing she won't be considered conservative enough for the religious right. I'll be curious to hear their reactions to this news.

However interesting McCain's choice is, I'm still voting for Obama.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bad Week

I'd written the other day that my AC had conked out though it was only four years old.

Well, the week hasn't gotten any better. The next day, my computer was acting slower than normal, so I rebooted it as that usually helps to speed it up a bit. When I came back online and opened the Firefox browser, I discovered that all my bookmarks had vanished. Poof! So, I've been laboriously going around to various sites trying to re-create what I had. But I had a complicated set of bookmarks and I know I'll never remember what all I had, so I won't get everything back.

The next thing I did was schedule a backup for the computer. It stopped midway through, informing me I didn't have enough space to perform a full backup. I was pissed off to find that it had retained what it had been able to back up until that point, however, and had eaten up what space I'd had available. And I have no fucking clue how to get rid of the partial backup I did so I can get back what space I'd had available before starting the backup.

I had the day off yesterday and though it was raining, I went out to pay some bills. It was clammy and humid in addition to being wet. Nevertheless, I was glad to be under my car's cool air conditioning considering I now have none in the house. As I paid the last bill at a drive up window, a man in the next lane pointed out to me that I had a flat tire. Fucking great. It was pouring down rain at this time and I certainly didn't want to be out trying to change a tire in that weather.

However, there was a tire store a block from where I was, so I crept down there carefully. It was OK, as it wasn't quite to the point of being a flopping flat tire just yet. I even clung to the vain hope that it was just a leak that could be repaired. But that was silly of me. It, of course, needed to be replaced, even though the tire in question was less than a year old. Money has been tight lately and I really didn't need to be buying another one now. But as I can't put it off and drive with only three tires, I did what I had to do.

As I sat in the waiting room, the TV was talking about an tornado warnings all over my area. I commented on this to the clerk and he said the tornado sirens in town had gone off two times already that afternoon.

WTF? That's the first I'd heard of it. Though I lived a couple of miles from where the tire store was, I'd not heard any sirens at all. The closest siren to me is about a mile off and with two fans running in my house, there's no way I'd have heard it unless I stepped outside and even then, I'd have to listen carefully to pick it up.

We had several more warnings throughout the evening, though none in my direct area and the rain continued as the remnants of Hurricane Fay slowly made its way through the area. I'm under a tornado watch even as I type, but I'm guessing it's only a precaution, as I think the bulk of what's left of the storm has moved northward.

I can only hope the rest of my week get better.

Hot! Hot! Hot!

On Sunday night, my air conditioner quit on me. It made this squealing sound, then quit. The compressor works, but the fan won't blow any air.

This air conditioner is only four years old. I had my previous air conditioner for twenty years without any problems, so this really tees me off.

And I can't afford to call in a repairman, nor get a new one.

I suppose I'm lucky it didn't happen in May, but we've still got some hot weather ahead of us. I went out and bought a couple more fans, but it's not really cutting it.

I'm lucky that my house is well-shaded, as it would be no doubt worse if I had a atark, bare, treeless yard.

If it's not one thing, it's another. Sigh.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama Finally Makes His Choice

I have to admit that I'm somewhat indifferent about Obama's pick for running mate. He's a safe pick, as he's been in the Senate for 36 years (since I was 14!) and he's generally considered to be a moderate liberal. With his extensive experience, he is strong where Obama is weak.

And I believe that out of the three front runners, which also included Virginia Governor Tim Kaine and Senator Evan Bayh, that Biden was the best pick.

Though I'll have no qualms about voting for the Obama-Biden ticket, I have to admit that he wasn't my first choice for VP.

My first choice was John Edwards and I think he'd have possibly been chosen, had the Monogamy Police not gotten to him first and knocked him out of the running.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Don't Need High Maintenance Barbie Dolls

Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.
-Oscar Wilde

This morning, I read an article at Alternet, The Things Women Go Through to Attract Men.., which prompted me to respond. The author summarized her post by saying:

A mind-boggling variety of torture devices have been contrived throughout history to make women more 'attractive' to men.

My response:

I like women. I like them in all sizes and shapes and I like them just as they are without a lot of artificial embellishments.

I like women who are sufficiently confident and laid-back enough to take on the world with a minimum of embellishment.

Being sexy and attractive is an attitude -- it's not high heels, makeup, fancy hairstyles, and so on. A woman who needs these things in order to feel confident and attractive is missing the boat, in my opinion. I think of women like Tammy Faye Bakker, who once said she didn't even go to bed without makeup, which I think is kind of sad.

A woman who is truly sexy will be sexy no matter what she wears because it's her attitude and bearing that makes her so, not her adornments.

High maintenance types who spend large amounts of time on their hair, makeup, clothes, and going to the gym strike me as being excessively self-absorbed, which isn't all that sexy of a personality trait. A woman who jumps out of the shower and pulls on a clean t shirt and jeans and runs a comb through her hair and is ready to go will always attract me over the "don't muss my hair or kiss me with makeup on" types, hands down.

Of course, if a woman wants to do the Barbie doll routine, that's her right, but I'll pass her up for one of her less flashy, down-to-earth sisters every time. She'll be a lot more fun to be around in most cases.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ralph Nader Predicts Obama's VP Choice

Earlier today, Ralph Nader expressed the opinion that Barack Obama would be wise to choose Hillary Clinton as his running mate. Unimpressed with the three men whose names have been bandied about as likely VP picks, Sens. Joe Biden, Evan Bayh, and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Nader said he didn't think Obama would be "that dumb" as to pick one of the three.

Despite the fact that Obama probably personally dislikes Clinton, Nader predicts that he'll do as John F Kennedy did in 1960 when he chose Lyndon Johnson, a man with whom he had many political differences. “He just has to swallow hard and do what JFK did," Nader said.

In Nader's view, a Obama-Clinton ticket would help promote party unity and bring back on board the approximately 25 percent of former Clinton supporters who did not transfer their allegiance to Obama after she dropped out of the race.

Personally, I think Nader's got the right idea.

Monday, August 18, 2008

McCain On His 'Greatest Moral Failure'

Many bloggers have written about the Saddleback Civil Forum, which took place last Saturday, in which both Barack Obama and John McCain were interviewed by Rev. Rick Warren. Thought there is much I could comment on concerning this event, starting with questioning the appropriateness of even questioning the candidates about their religious beliefs at all, I'll confine my remarks in this entry to one question Warren put to both cadidates.

*What was your greatest moral failure?

Obama: Well, in my own life, I'd break it up into two stages. I had a difficult youth. My father wasn't in the house. I've written about this. There were times when I experimented with drugs. I drank, you know, in my teenage years, and I traced this to a certain selfish necessary on my part. I was so obsessed with me and the reasons that I might be dissatisfied that I couldn't focus on other people. The process for me of growing up was to recognise that it's not about me.

McCain: My greatest moral failing – and I have been a very imperfect person – is the failure of my first marriage. It's my greatest moral failure. America's greatest moral failure has been, throughout our existence, perhaps, we have not devoted ourselves to causes greater than our self-interest, although we've been the best at it of anybody in the world.

I couldn't help but wonder if McCain's response was influenced by the recent news about John Edwards' marital infidelity, knowing that questions had inevitably followed about his own infidelity. Though there's no way to know, I'd be curious to know what his answer would have been to this question had this forum taken place a month ago.

I also have to wonder if this is actually how he feels, or whether this was a political move designed to head off those who might question him about this during the campaign and to make points with religious conservatives.

Personally, I think his thoughts and feelings about his first marriage are his own business that he shouldn't feel the need to share with the nation. It's nobody's business but those who were involved, and it puts the current Mrs McCain in an awkward position. It was something that he would have been better off leaving unsaid in a public forum.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Cat House

When Bob Walker and Frances Mooney moved into their current home with their five cats in the late 1980s, they decided to modify their home to make it a more cat-friendly environment.

They started with a floor-to-ceiling scratching column covered in 395 feet of pink-dyed sisal and connected to a wall-to-wall beam just below ceiling height.

“Initially, the cats would run full speed down the hall chasing each other, go up and over the top of the two couches and climb up the column and race along the beam and hit a dead end where it connected to the wall," says Walker.

To solve this problem, they extended the beams through the walls, running them from room to room to create 140 feet of cat pathways. They added more roaming space with ramps and staircases.

These walkways lead to ceiling-high hiding-holes and lookout stations, because as Walker explained, “everyone knows cats like to look down on us.”

Walker and Mooney have written a book that goes into more detail about their pet friendly home modifications, which is entitled The Cat's House.

Friday, August 15, 2008

On My "To Be Read" Pile

I've finished the excellent Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher, which were recommended to me by John Sherck (thanks, John). I've finally started Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, which had sat on my "to be read" pile of books for an extended period of time after I'd read a positive review of it on John's blog. I have to say that this one is more of a slow read, largely because of the old fashioned writing style. I'm only a short ways into the book, however, and I'm willing to give it a chance to pick up.

I've not posted any booklists in quite some time, so what follows is a list of books on my current "to be read" list.

The first two books, unsurprisingly, come from reviews on John Sherck's blog. I've done well with books he's recommended to me in the past, so I consider him a good source of reading ideas.

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Click on the links to go to John's blog to read more about these books.

Another source of reading ideas for me is Alternet. The books below were featured in articles on that site. The descriptions of each book come from Good Reads

Sex in Crisis: The New Sexual Revolution and the Future of American Politicsby Dagmar Herzog

There is a war on sex in America—and conservative evangelicals are winning. Only three decades after the legalization of abortion, the broad gains of the feminist movement, and the emergence of the gay rights movement, America has gone frigid.

Republicans—and even many Democrats—insist that abstinence is the only acceptable form of birth control, and fully 50 percent of American high schools teach a “sex education” curriculum that includes deceptive information about the prevalence of STDs and the failure rate of condoms. Students are taught that homosexuality is curable, and that pornography is addictive.

Americans are not anti-sex, but they’re increasingly anxious about sex—largely due to the tactics of the Religious Right. Afraid of sounding unelectable, American liberals have failed to challenge its retrograde orthodoxy. We are all evangelicals now.

How has the Religious Right achieved this ascendancy? Surprisingly, argues Dagmar Herzog in Sex in Crisis, Evangelicals have appropriated the lessons of the first sexual revolution far more effectively than liberals. With the support of a billion-dollar Christian sex industry, evangelicals have crafted an astonishingly graphic and effective pitch for the pleasures of “hot monogamy”—for married, heterosexual couples only, of course. This potent message has enabled them to win elections and seduce souls, with disastrous political consequences.

Fierce, witty, and brilliant, Sex in Crisis will force America to confront its national sexual dysfunction—and rally all but the most pious hot monogamists to demand a more sophisticated national conversation about the facts of life.

Shock Jocks: Hate Speech and Talk Radio: America's Ten Worst Hate Talkers and the Progressive Alternatives
by Rory O'Connor

The highly politicized and often factually challenged world of talk radio dominates a sizable portion of America’s airwaves. But the dirty secret of talk radio’s success is the use of hate speech masquerading as free speech. In this book, Rory O’Connor tackles the “hate talk establishment” and shows how huge media conglomerates not only make hate talk possible but make it enormously profitable.

He profiles the country’s ten worst shock jocks, including Don Imus, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage, and describes how they use the guise of “not being politically correct” to ratchet up their anti-gay, anti-woman, and overtly racist language. He then shows how their celebrity leads to a climate that not only tolerates but actually perpetuates racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic attitudes — making America a coarser, more dangerous place. A survey of the small but growing universe of progressive talk radio offers a respite from the verbal violence.

Considering how much I monitor right-wing talk show host, Neal Boortz, I thought this book might be interesting.

I Don't: A Contrarian History of Marriage by Susan Squire

A provocative survey of marriage and what it has meant for society, politics, religion, and the home.

For ten thousand years, marriage—and the idea of marriage—has been at the very foundation of human society. In this provocative and ambitious book, Susan Squire unravels the turbulent history and many implications of our most basic institution. Starting with the discovery, long before recorded time, that sex leads to paternity (and hence to couplehood), and leading up to the dawn of the modern “love marriage,” Squire delves into the many ways men and women have come together and what the state of their unions has meant for history, society, and politics – especially the politics of the home.

This book is the product of thirteen years of intense research, but even more than the intellectual scope, what sets it apart is Squire’s voice and contrarian boldness. Learned, acerbic, opinionated, and funny, she draws on everything from Sumerian mythology to Renaissance theater to Victorian housewives’ manuals (sometimes all at the same time) to create a vivid, kaleidoscopic view of the many things marriage has been and meant. The result is a book to provoke and fascinate readers of all ideological stripes: feminists, traditionalists, conservatives, and progressives alike.

I didn't find the last book on Alternet, but rather on Amazon when I lookd up the previous book on marriage:

The Samaritan's Dilemma: Should Government Help Your Neighbor?
by Deborah Stone

For at least a generation, experts have warned us not to reach out to others. Too much help makes people passive and dependent, we are told, and self interest is the only motive that spurs people to work and contribute to society. Liberals and conservatives alike have endorsed this new moral code for government. The Samaritan’s Dilemma challenges this conventional wisdom. We are born needing help, we die needing help, and we live out our days getting and giving help. We live by everyday altruism. So when leaders define the ideal citizen as someone who pursues his self interest and withholds help from others, good people are repelled by politics.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Projecting an Unintended Image

The little Chinese girl, Lin Miaoke, who starred in the opening ceremonies for the Olympics apparently singing the Chinese patriotic song, "Ode to the Motherland", turned out to be only lip-synching the song. The girl whose voice was actually heard, Yang Peiyi, was banned from singing the song in public because she was not considered "attractive enough" for the world to see. Her "imperfections" are a chubby face and uneven teeth.

The two girls are nine and seven years old.

"The reason why little Yang was not chosen to appear was because we wanted to project the right image, we were thinking about what was best for the nation," Chen Qigang, the general music designer of the ceremony, said, "The reason was for the national interest. The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feelings, and expression,"

Oh, they're projecting an image, all right. An ugly image.

They're telling the world that an individual's worth is summed up by their physical appearance, not in their inherent worth as human beings and this accident of birth trumps anything they've worked to achieve.

They're telling the world that even little girls must conform to a narrow, sexualized idea of beauty -- I'm sure many pedophiles would be quick to agree. They are saying those who don't measure up to the narrow definition of what is considered fashionably attractive at any point in history are a lesser form of human beings who should hide themselves from public view and never be seen doing anything worthwhile or fun.

I think it's sickening.

This incident reminds me of something I once saw on a talk show in the early 90s. Martha Wash, a plus size singer who recorded the dance song, "Everybody Dance Now", was barred from performing her own song on a music video and was replaced by a svelte lip-syncher, simply because she was not thin.

That disgusted me then, and the incident with the little Chinese girls disgust me even more because they are children.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Thoughts on the Edwards Brouhaha

In the wake of the news about John Edwards having an extramarital liaison in which he may or may not have sired a child, the reaction has been entirely typical and predictable. People on both sides of the political spectrum have responded with moralistic indignation about his fall from the monogamy bandwagon.. "Shocked", "stunned", "disappointed", "appalled" have been some of the words people have used to express their feelings about this incident. I use the word feelings rather than opinions quite purposely, as most of the sentiments I've read are based largely on emotion and not objective reason.

Republicans reacting to the news have taken a "see, I told you so" attitude and former Democratic supporters have denounced their former support of Edwards, with both saying that he's unfit to be President, based solely on the fact that he engaged in extramarital sex.

Oh, please. Spare me the self-righteous indignation.

For one thing, his marriage is a private relationship. He's not accountable to any of us for his conduct within his marriage. I've read comments from people who say they can't "forgive" him for this. Excuse me? John Edwards doesn't need any forgiveness from strangers who are not, after all, married to him. The only person he owes any sort of explanation to is Elizabeth Edwards. The rest of us need to butt out and tend to our own relationships according to our own consciences.

Secondly, we don't elect our presidents to uphold the sacred cow of monogamy. For one thing, the idea that monogamous marriage is a moral issue, rather than simply a practical arrangement, comes largely from religion. And the last time I checked, we have no religious tests for office and the separation of church and state is still in effect.

Thirdly, his adherence or lack thereof to the expectation of sexual fidelity in marriage does not affect his fitness to lead the country. Before Obama became the Democratic nominee, I was pulling for Edwards -- and I'd still vote for him in a heartbeat. He had the right ideas about labor, on fighting poverty, on healthcare and on middle class concerns, among other things. The fact that he had a friend with benefits outside his marriage doesn't suddenly turn his good ideas into bad ones.

Americans have a schizophrenic relationship with sex. On the one hand, our media bombards us constantly with images of sex 24/7. In practice, we are a fairly hedonistic nation. Statistics show that a sizable percentage of both men and women have engaged in extramarital sex at least once. Yet, our reactions to politicians and other celebrities who are caught being human take a decidedly moralistic and hypocritical streak that betrays that our Puritan origins are still alive and well in 21st century America.

I think the Europeans have the right idea when it comes to issues of this nature. For the most part, Europeans are realistic and practical about the private lives of their politicians, recognizing human nature for what it is and do not unrealistically expect their leaders to be saints. As long as a leader is otherwise competent, his private life is his own business.

Throughout history, many leaders, great and not-so-great according to one's opinion, have not been strictly monogamous: Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton, to name just a few off the top of my head. Would our country have been better off if their service had been refused simply for the fact of marital infidelity? I think not.

Edwards' only mistake in regards to responding to the public was to lie about it, though it is quite understandable considering how American society tends to respond to such incidents. He should have learned something from Bill Clinton's experience and realized that he was only digging himself in deeper. Personally, I think he should have responded by telling reporters that it was none of their business and it was a private matter between him and Mrs Edwards.

The fact of the matter is that Jesus Christ isn't running for president, nor will he ever in the future. People need to give up on the bizarre notion that a politician needs to be a saint in order to effectively lead a country. We need to accept that anyone ever running for president will be human -- and that humans, with all their imperfections are nonetheless capable of being competent leaders.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Kids and College Students

I frequently hear a radio commercial for the United Negro College Fund. In this commercial, a college student describes her busy course schedule that goes from early morning well into the evening. At the end, she says "thank you", as she is presumably a recipient of funds from this organization. Then an announcer comes on and says, "If a kid is willing to do what it takes to get through college...".

I may be nitpicking, but I don't think of someone who is of legal age engaged in responsible activity as a "kid". If I'd been the writer of this ad, I'd have replaced "kid" with "student".

This is a kid

This is a college student.

See the difference?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Don't Expect Us To Think; We're Just Doing Our Job

Pardon my lack of blogging in the last few days. My primary lover, who has been out of town for the better part of a month, returned home the other day and we've been....busy. You get the drill, I'm sure.

I'm still kind of worn out and not all that inspired to write, but somthing happened this morning that was rant-worthy, so I'll write about that.

After going out to pay a bill this morning, I swung through a fast-food drive-through for lunch. I won't name the chain, but it is one that usually has better service than the abysmal McDonald's a block further up the road.

I ordered a burger, fries, and drink combo, telling them to leave off the tomato, pickles, and mayonnaise on the burger. Those who have read my blog in the past know that while I don't hate mayo, per se, I prefer to have it left off my burgers because most restaurants put way too much of it on burgers. Too much mayo on a burger makes the bun soggy and prone to disintegration as soon as you pick it up. It also has a bad habit of turning the lettuce into a limp, slimy mess. Tomatoes and pickles, I just hate them on a burger, period.

After I told the squawk box that I didn't want these three things on my burger, there was a prolonged, stunned silence on the other end. I'm guessing they were trying to gather up enough brain cells to actually....think!

Finally, after a long while, a woman's voice snaps, "Just what DO you want on your burger?" I sighed and spelled it out for them, "Everything else that normally comes on that burger, except for the three things I mentioned." In this case, that would be lettuce, onions, and mustard.

But it was a naive hope that they'd be able to actually use their brains. When I got home and opened my burger, I found they've given me a naked burger; there was NOTHING on it. It was too much for their little brains to comprehend leaving off three ingredients while including the other three normally included. For them, it's either everything on it, or nothing at all.

And they didn't give me a straw for my drink, either. I guess that was my punishment for expecting them actually to think.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Blogging Temperaments

Sitting here this morning, I thought of the many approaches people have toward blogging. And it dawned on me that bloggers tend roughly to follow four basic approaches to blogging. Some people blog about what they do, some blog about what they think, some blog mainly about what they feel, and some blog about what they experience. Of course, any blogger can and often does blog about all four things, but if you read a particular blog long enough, you'll begin to see a pattern and a preference for one of the four approaches.

These four approaches to blogging fit neatly into Keirsey's four temperament clusters, with each cluster broken down into four subgroups, which gives the sixteen personality types of the Myers-Briggs personality system.

The four blogging temperaments that correspond with the Keirsey system are:

  • NT Rationals -- tend to blog most about what they think
  • NF Idealists -- tend to blog most about what they feel
  • SP Artisans -- tend to blog most about what they experience
  • SJ Guardians -- tend to blog most about they do

If you don't already know your Keirsey Cluster and Myers-Briggs type, take the Keirsey test here and the Myers Briggs test here to see if your type matches your basic blogging focus. Feel free to post your results in the comment box. And for those of you who don't already know my type, feel free to guess.

Pure Freedom?

As part of my ongoing monitoring of the political and religious right, I listen to Focus on the Family's Weekend Edition on the radio. One of their ongoing themes is sexual abstinence before marriage -- actually sexual abstinence for everyone not currently married: those widowed, divorced, as well as those never-married people.

All of their "sexual purity" segments are directed toward girls and women only; boys and men are never urged to maintain their "purity". While the choice to refrain from non-marital sex is surely one that anyone should be free to make, I find the reference to abstinence as "purity" and the sexual double standard of directing this advice to females only to be disturbing and offensive.

First of all, a person's value is not predicated on how and when they express their sexuality. To view sexual inexperience before marriage is "purity" implies that a person who chooses differently is of lesser worth, to be "tainted". A person's character is better judged by how they treat others, not by how strictly they regulate their sexual urges.

Secondly, if fundamentalists are so keen to protect the sexual inexperience of their women, they might want to avoid being hypocrites and direct abstinence messages to boys and men as well. You know, what's good for the goose is good for the gander and all that.

Of course, I don't believe in abstinence for all uinmarried people, but if they're going to preach a philosophy, the first thing they need to do is be consistent about it.

In their latest "purity" propaganda segment, there was an extremely bizarre interview with a woman named Dannah Gresh, who leads a "purity" organization for girls called "Pure Freedom" (Note me rolling my eyes at this oxymoron).

Gresh stated that she'd been a Christian since a young age, but that as a teen, she "gave what I was supposed to give my husband on my wedding night to a man I would never marry", and that this single, never-repeated act caused her ten years of grief and psychological torment.

In other words, she was human and did something normal and natural that millions of teens have done before and since. And because of the repressive fundamentalist environment she grew up in, she wasted a decade beating herself up about it.

In Gresh's own words:

As a young married woman and a new mom, I was driving down the highway listening to the familiar voice of Dr. James Dobson. Suddenly, the host asked his guest, "What is the most common question a young girl will ask her mom about sex?" Without delay the woman responded, "Mom, did you wait?"

I pulled my minivan to the side of the highway and allowed ten years of tremendous denial and grief to engulf me. My heart's desire was, is and always will be to live a lifestyle of purity, but in high school I detoured from that pursuit long enough to get tangled up by lust. Like no other sin, moments of unbridled passion had intertwined my life painfully into another's.

That evening, it took me three hours to tell my husband in the darkness of my bedroom. Satan had me cornered into a prison of blackmail until the very moment that my lips uttered my long-awaited confession. Oh, how I wish I had done that sooner. Christ's forgiveness finally verbalized in the midst of my husband's warm familiar embrace suddenly began to heal the deep tear in my heart.

Again, if one chooses to believe that one should be abstinent outside of marriage, that's their choice, but to respond as she did says more about the dangers of sexual repression than it does about "sin". A more healthy response to someone who believe in abstinence would have been to feel regret about not acting according to one's beliefs, then to move on and try not to repeat it. After all, she just got laid -- she didn't kill someone!

Gresh believed she needed to be "forgiven" to be able to let it go of her one, long-ago 'mistake'. I'd say she needed counseling to relieve her of the unhealthy repressive sexual attitudes and guilt she grew up with in order to let go of the obsession and move on. Indeed, if she had, she'd not have had to wait ten years into her marriage to tell her husband she'd not been a virgin on her wedding night, as she'd have known she had nothing whatsoever to be ashamed with.

Her organization "Pure Freedom" is to bring the warped message of judging one's self worth, one's "purity", by remaining virgins until marriage to pre-teen and teen girls. If I had a daughter, I'd not let her anywhere near this neurotic and deeply-conflicted woman's organization, Rather, I'd teach her that her self-worth was inherent and did not hinge on how and when she decided to express her sexuality.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Liberalism, Conservatism, and Heroism

Last night, while monitoring the Neal Boortz radio show in hopes of hearing some rant-worthy blogging fodder, he talked about the recent shootings at the Unitarian Universalist church in Knoxville.

At first his comments were confined to his objections to the attention and criticism that right-wing talk radio hosts have been subject to since the shooting. This was only to be expected, as Boortz is a right-wing talk radio host. These comments did not set me off, as there are valid points to be made on both sides of this issue.

But then he went on to talk about the fact that after the initial shock, church members rushed the gunman and stopped him from killing any more people. (Two people died).

He was of the opinion that, for at least the length of time it took to subdue the gunman, there were no liberals in that church. That is, those men suddenly became temporary conservatives in order to protect the others.

Excuse me?

Does Boortz equate liberalism with cowardice? Does he believe that only conservatives can have courage or be heroes?

One of the men who rushed the gunman, Greg McKendry, gave his life to protect others. I'm quite certain he wasn't thinking about politics as he acted to protect others from further harm.

Boortz' comments insult the heroism of McKendry and that of those who ultimately stopped the deranged gunman.

Shame on Neal Boortz for trying to turn a tragedy into a political opportunity.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Separated At Birth?

Lord Voldemort and John McCain. Amazing resemblance, isn't it?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Register Your Car With the Government, Not Your Intimate Relationships

In an article I read today on Alternet, Is Marriage Worth Fighting For?, a straight woman re-examines her objections to legal marriage in light of recent gains in the fight for same-sex marriage:

"Recent steps legalizing gay marriage have made me reevaluate my aversion to the institution. But I still have my doubts."

The author's objections to marriage have been based on a few key reasons:

1) I don't want to participate in an institution that's been historically sexist and currently discriminates against my gay friends, especially considering that my partner and I couldn't have been married in some states just 40 years ago (we're miscegenators), and 2) I'm uncomfortable with the "till death do us part" rhetoric that seems to suggest that two people parting ways is an inherent failure, rather than, as is so often the case, a necessary moment of growth and change.

She also noted the tendency for people to typically backslide into stereotyped gender roles once they'd gotten legally married, a phenomenon that is less common among those cohabiting.

My response is as follows:

Register Your Car With the Government, Not Your Intimate Relationships

The author mentions her commitment to not get married because it is sexist, heterosexist, and racist. She also mentions the nearly ubiquitous slide into stereotyped sex roles that often occurs after marriage.

These are all valid reasons, but for me, personally, it's the obligatory monogamy that makes marriage a bad fit for me. Even the author of the article does not question this sacred cow, as she writes about seeing the validity of her father's words: "There are as many kinds of marriages as there are married couples,".

Even more central to my objection to marriage -- and this applies to any relationship, gay, straight, single race, interracial, monogamous, nonmonogamous -- is that I think it's an inappropriate governmental intrusion into the private, personal relationships of consenting adults.

It shouldn't be up to the government to make personal relationships "real"; it shouldn't be their place to define, legislate, or promote any type of intimate relationship above all others.

The idea that people must get a license and register their intimate relationships with the government to make them "real" in the same way they get a license to drive and register their cars is really kind of offensive, if you take the time to sit down and think about it.

In the same way that a driver's license is the government's permission to drive, a marriage license is the government's permission to have sex with just one registered partner and to have "legitimate" children with said official sex partner. I don't know about you, but I'll be damned if I register my sex partners with the government, and I certainly don't need it to make my son "legitimate".

People can still have their private weddings and parties to celebrate their relationships with their friends and families, if they so choose. They just shouldn't have to inform the government about it.