Wednesday, December 31, 2008

An Observation

With the current financial crisis, the government has an urgent need to increase revenues. At the same time, taxpayers struggling in the current economy don't need to have their taxes raised in order to provide this revenue.

But two obvious means of quickly generating a healthy amount of revenue have never been considered.

The means?

The legalization of drugs and prostitution in all fifty states. Making these two things legal would subject the billions of dollars already spent on these things to taxation, both from customers and through licensing and operating fees from the businesses.

It would also allow the tax dollars now allotted to law enforcement and the criminal justice system to be used elsewhere more efficiently.

I'm not holding my breath that this will ever happen, however, unfortunately.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Want a Long Life? Get Laid Regularly.

Studies have shown that not only can having regular sex help people feel younger for longer, it may even extend one's life. Some of the health benefits of an active sex life are:

- Weight control. Sex can burn 84 calories in 30 minutes, while also improving heart and muscle strength, flexibility and muscle tone. Having regular sex can be used as a tool for those who are looking to shed pounds or maintain a healthy weight.

--I've found this to be quite true for myself, as my weight has fluctuated very little over the years.

- Pain relief. Before popping another aspirin, think about hopping into bed. Sex naturally releases endorphins and corticosteroids, which can help relieve pain from migraines, menstrual cramps and chronic back problems.

--Sex has always been a sure-fire cure for a headache for me.

- Better sleep. Having sex can help insomniacs fall asleep, and it's certainly more fun than counting sheep or keeping your partner awake as you toss and turn. Getting enough sleep carries its own health benefits, including healthy weight and blood pressure.

--Again true. I'm usually able to roll over and fall immediately asleep right after climax. Even when I'm alone in bed, "taking matters in hand" will usually help me fall asleep easily.

- Stress relief. Sex lowers both blood pressure and overall stress. In a study reported in the journal Biological Psychology, individuals who had intercourse performed better in high-stress situations like public speaking and verbal arithmetic.

--I almost always get a "all is right with the world" feeling directly after orgasm.

- Reduces prostate cancer risk. An Australian study, reported in the British Journal of Urology International, found that 20-something men who led healthy sex lives were less likely to develop prostate cancer later in life.

--So far, so good!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Comparing Same-Sex Marriage and Women's Suffrage

Last night, I read an article on the Huffington Post, Why Gay Marriage is the Wrong Issue by Bob Ostertag that got me to thinking. My comment follows below:

The recent trend in the gay civil rights movement to center its efforts on gaining the legal right to marriage reminds me of how the first wave of feminism, which began in 1848, originally pushed for all sorts of civil rights for women, but it eventually ended up concentrating on a single civil right: the right to vote.

While gaining the right to vote was a crucial step in the cause for women's rights, sexism did not end in 1920, nor has it ended yet in 2008. The same will be true of the push for full equal rights for homosexual citizens being reduced to pushing for the single civil right; that of marriage. While as long as marriage exists as a legal category, I believe that all consenting adults should have this right, regardless of sexual orientation, gaining the right to marriage will in no way end homophobia. Let's not forget the wider cause and let's not see marriage as the be-all and end-all of gay rights.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Majel Barrett Roddenberry, R.I.P.

On December 18, the "First Lady of Star Trek", Majel Barrett Roddenberry, died at her home after a short battle with leukemia. She was 76. She was the widow of Star Trek originator, Gene Roddenberry.

She was best known for her roles in the various Star Trek incarnations: Nurse (later Doctor) Christine Chapel in the original series, as Betazoid Lwaxana Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, and she provided the computer voice in every Star Trek series and movie. She will be heard for the last time in the latest upcoming Star Trek movie.

She was originally intended to play the Enterprise's First Officer, which she did in the original series' pilot episode. However NBC network executives, reflecting the sexism of the times, insisted that viewers wouldn't accept a woman in such a position, so she was reluctantly demoted to the more peripheral role of ship's nurse.

A fan favorite at Star Trek conventions over the years, she will be missed.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Sexual Hell Test

Your result for The Sexual HELL Test...


Raw score: 81%

There's a special place in Hell for you: the basement penthouse. You scored the nastiest possible score on the Sexual Hell Test. You have no sexual restraint whatsoever. You'll take pleasure however you can get it, and my guess is you get it a lot. If for some reason you don't right now, you will soon, as people in your category only tend to spiral down ever deeper into the abyss of carnality and delicious sin. Congratulations.

I, personally, think that this category is the best. Paradoxically enough, sexual liberation and indulgence can only bring you closer to purity.

AVOID: all but level 3 hellions like yourself. You wouldn't want to ruin anyone, now would you?

Take The Sexual HELL Test
at HelloQuizzy

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Is Caroline Kennedy Qualified For the Senate?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Let's Not Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater

Most people who oppose prostitution say they are against it because they believe that prostitution inherently exploits women.

Setting aside the facts that not all prostitutes are women and the existence of high-dollar freelance call girls, it is true that most prostitutes are women and quite a good many of them are indeed exploited and abused.

I agree that steps must be taken to end such exploitation and abuse.

But I don't agree that prostitution is inherently exploitative, nor do I think the solution is to keep it illegal. Rather, I believe that legalizing it will bring it out into the open, where it will be easier to address the forms of exploitation and abuses common to sex work.

It's interesting to note that there are many legal occupations where exploitation and abuses of various kinds are common. I can guarantee you that many fast food workers, some factory workers, janitorial and cleaning staff, migrant workers, to cite a few examples, are often exploited and treated unfairly.

However, no one suggests that the only proper solution is to abolish the occupation altogether and make it illegal. It would be viewed as akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Rather, people work to improve conditions in such jobs, believing that exploitation is not inevitable.

Why should prostitution be any different? Oh, wait, it involves SEX! Prostitution is inherently exploitative because no matter how willing both parties are and no matter how much money the woman makes and no matter the conditions, they are not having sex for the "right" reasons, thus it is necessarily exploitative. Have I got that right?

Give me a break. Keeping prostitution illegal and wrapping sex up in a mystique has done nothing all these hundreds of years to protect those who are truly abused and exploited. Legalizing it, bringing it into the light of day, and rationally looking at ways to improve the conditions and status of sex workers, in the same way exploitation is addressed in other occupations, would be a more effective approach in my opinion.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Lights For Astronauts

The homeowners of the following Christmas displays wanted to make sure the astronauts at the space station wouldn't have to go without seeing Christmas lights this year. Feel free to choose the one you think is most likely to be seen by the orbiting astronauts.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stirring Emotions vs. Rational Debate

While browsing at Alternet looking for blogging fodder this morning, I glanced at the headline of one article, Gun Crazy: Firearms Proponents Want a World Where College Kids Carry Concealed Weapons by Liliana Segura.

Normally, I wouldn't have read an article on this topic, but the use of the phrase "college kids" irritated me enough to leave a comment. I did not comment on the content of the article, which I only briefly skimmed, because gun control, like abortion, tends to be a polarizing topic with both sides often arguing from emotion and refusing to even listen to what the other side is saying. Nor will I comment on the topic itself in this blog entry, as it doesn't relate to the point I'm making here.

My comment follows below:

College "Kids"?

The last time I checked, colleges and universities are attended by adults age 18 and over, not by children, i.e. "kids".

I'm guessing the use of the word "kids" in this article was meant to influence the emotions, rather than to set a tone of rational debate about the topic.

The author of this article has clearly indicated her bias in the title, simply by using the word "kids" instead of "students". It was meant to stir the emotions, rather than generate reasoned debate, which I find irresponsible. When discussing highly controversial topics that have a tendency to go downhill quickly into ad hominem territory, it's especially important to choose one's words carefully.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Odds and Ends

Today, I thought I'd write a Christmas themed odds and ends entry.

For years, I thought that one of the lines in the Christmas song, "I'll Be Home For Christmas" was:

Christmas eve will find me
Where I long to be

The actual words are:

Christmas eve will find me
Where the love light gleams

I like my words better; they make more sense. What the fuck is a "love light", anyway. It sounds kind of erotic, which I'm sure wasn't the intent of the songwriter.


In the instrumental version of "Sleigh Ride", there is a sound at the end that imitates the sound of a horse neighing. Has anyone ever wondered how that sound was produced? Well, wonder no more as I'm about to tell you.

I was a trumpet player in the high school band and when our band played that song, it was my job to produce that sound. I produced that sound by pressing the valve only halfway down and by using either a cup or a Harmon mute. Worked every time.


In January of 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge, General Patton wrote a Christmas filk to the tune of "O Little Town of Bethlehem", in response to a German counterattack which destroyed the Belgian town of Houffalize:

O little town of Houffalize,
How still we see thee lie;
Above they steep and battered streets
The aeroplanes sail by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
Not any Goddamned light;
The hopes and fears of all thy years
Were blown to hell last night.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Mormons: Same-Sex Marriage vs. Polygamy

On Alternet recently, I browsed through an article, Mormon Homophobia: Up Close and Personal by Sheldon Rampton. Once again, I found myself responding to a comment that had veered off the point of the original article.

The original comment:

Individual Mormons changing is what changes the church

My sister follows Mormon doctrine to the extent that she bore 7 healthy children and is now, at age 74, grandmother to more than 20. She is the matriarch of this very large family. She is "Mrs. Mormon."

BUT she did not vote for the "Gay Marriage Ban" when it came up in Utah elections. As she expressed it, The problem in Utah is not gay marriage -- it's polygamy.

My response:

The Problem is Forced Marriage of Underage Girls, Not Polygamy, Per Se

Or should I say polygyny, because such Mormons only allow men to have more than one spouse and not the other way around as well.

It's not non-monogamous marriage that is even the problem among such Mormons. It's patriarchal, fundamentalists religion that compels underage girls to marry old men that's the problem.

It would still be as big of a problem
if it was just ONE young girl being forced to marry just ONE old man.

So, the problem isn't monogamy vs non-monogamy, per se.

Indeed, the existence of polyamory, which is when both men and women may have multiple spouses, and is engaged in only by fully consenting adults shows that this is so.

Let's focus on the real root of the problem: fundamentalist patriarchal religion.

Your thoughts?

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Bit of Justice

Today, OJ Simpson was sentenced to at least fifteen years in prison for his part in a hotel armed robbery. The judge rejected his apology, telling Simpson, "It was much more than stupidity." Judge Jackie Glass refused to permit him to go free on bail while he appeals, and Simpson was led away to jail after the sentencing.

The judge repeatedly reiterated that the sentence in the Las Vegas case had nothing to do with Simpson's 1994 acquittal in the slaying of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Maybe so, but these fifteen years are the only justice that Simpson will get for the slaying of his wife and Ron Goldman in 1994. The Goldman family, unsurprisingly, is happy with the sentence.

"There's never closure. Ron is always gone. What we have is satisfaction that this monster is where he belongs behind bars," Fred Goldman said.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Should "Proper" Reasons For Having Sex Be Legislated For Consenting Adults?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What Blows? The Horn Or The Driver?

Most people use their car horns to chastize other drivers, to express their low opinion of the driving skills of drivers around them and to display their desire to hurry.

The incessant horn honking has created noise pollution problems in areas with cramped streets and high car density. In July, traffic police in Mumbai launched a "No Honking Movement" led by taxi drivers who took an oath not to honk. Last year, Shanghai banned honking downtown

But the original purpose of equipping cars with horns was safety -- to warn other drivers to help avoid collisions or other hazards, not to urge slow-reacting drivers to get moving when a traffic light changes.

Evidence is inconclusive as to whether horn honking actually reduces accidents, and some have noted that there is a tendency to shift the fault for collisions to the honked-at, rather than the honker.

A Londoner argued this case in 1912: "Drivers have escaped punishment because they hooted loudly just before killing an aged and deaf colonel, or an elderly woman, deaf, and blind of one eye, or capsizing another car and injuring three or four persons … Ordinary care and precaution would have prevented each of such accidents. Hooting, however, is counted a sufficient set-off against the lack of such care and precaution."

Research into car horn honking has indicated that those who rely heavily on the horn tend to be aggressive, impatient drivers.

Jeff Muttart, a traffic-accident reconstructionist, has studied hundreds of surveillance videos of real-life car crashes and near-crashes. In 2005, he concluded that emergency horn use is not associated with decreased accident involvement. He found that drivers never steered and honked at the same time, and usually they didn't honk at all. About half of emergency honks were meant to chastise and came only after the danger was over. The other half were just preludes to a crash. Muttart explains that our inefficient horn use is linked the fact that most drivers use their horns to express their opinion of the driving skills or lack thereof of other drivers, rather than restricting it solely for emergency use.

Ill-timed honking, even when used to warn other drivers and cyclists, can backfire, startling the honked-at, causing them to freeze or lose control of their steering. This often causes the crashes that the honker meant to avoid. Many drivers use their horns, when their brakes should have been used, instead.

Many cities have banned unnecessary horn honking, such as someone laying on the horn to let his date know he's arrived, for example, and ticket offenders.

I have to admit I'm definitely an offender in using my horn to express my opinion when confronted with bad driving, usually when someone runs a red light. But I've also used the horn for its intended use and have averted a few crashes that way -- usually when someone is backing out of a parking space without looking and is about to hit me. And I'm getting more patient with drivers who don't move as soon as the light turns green.

How about you? What kind of a honker are you?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Man Trampled to Death By Mob of Shoppers

Most people by now have heard the story of the Wal Mart worker who was trampled to death by Black Friday customers who literal took the doors off the hinges yesterday, which gave an entirely new meaning to the concept of a "doorbuster sale."

What the fuck is wrong with people? Is the need to acquire a few cheap gimcracks at a slightly lower price than normal worth someone's life? I don't even understand why these sales still generate crowds so big, considering now that people can shop online from the comfort of their own homes.

After reading about this tragedy from several sources, I thought back to the events of September 11, 2001, when an approximate 13,000 to 15,000 people evacuated successfully from the World Trade Center towers. Despite it being an emergency situation where lives where clearly in danger, and where panic would have been understandable, I've never heard any reports of people being trampled to death during the evacuation. Rather, I heard several stories of people stopping to help others whose physical limitations hampered their ability to escape on their own, some even giving their own lives in such sttempts.

The memories of that day only serve to underscore just how despicable the actions of yesterday's mob of Wal Mart shoppers were.