Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thoughts on the John Edwards Fiasco

When I first heard of the John Edwards affair, my first instinct as a libertine was to yawn and tell people that his marriage was none of their business and that he wasn't running for the office of upholding monogamy.

But as the months have passed, I find myself more disgusted with Edwards' behavior with every new report from the media. I still don't care that he strayed from his marriage or even that he sired an extramarital child, which is entirely besides the point of my opinion.

Rather, my disgust stems from how he's handled -- or not handled -- this affair. Instead of owning up to what he'd done -- or simply telling the press that his private life was none of their business -- he first denied that he'd had an affair with the woman in question. Then he later recanted and admitted he'd slept with her. But when she had a baby girl, he denied he was the father, pushing it off on one of his campaign aides. More recently, he's finally admitted that the baby is his. And now it's come to light that sex tapes exist of him and the "other woman".

Can we give the man an award for insensitivity and general dumbassery? Having an affair and siring a child outside one's marriage happens and while it's a political liability in our society, it's hardly a unique thing. And while the timing of the affair was particularly insensitive, considering his wife's illness, he's made it all the much worse with his unwillingness to admit to the truth. He's further humiliated his wife, while at the same time left a public record of repudiating an innocent little girl who will one day grow up to know that her father valued his political career more than he did her.

It doesn't really matter that he strayed or why, as there are dozens of reasons why people do so. But if he was going to get some on the side, he should have used his brain and done it properly. First of all, Edwards in his in fifties and the woman in question in her forties. Had neither of them ever heard of birth control? Granted, he might have thought her past the age of conceiving, but he shouldn't have taken any chances.

And for fuck's sake, what kind of a moron makes sex tapes proving the adultery to all and sundry? It's shit like this that makes me question his power of judgment in other matters as well.

Edwards would have done much better to handle this as David Letterman handled being outed as straying from his marriage, instead of turning himself into a Jerry Springer sideshow.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Odd Associations

Sometimes I make the oddest associations between two completely unrelated phenomena. What follows below is one such example.

I use Firefox as my browser, combined with slow-ass dialup. Frequently, after I've clicked on a page, the taskbar at the lower left corner will inform me that the loading is "done", when it is most certainly not "done". I'll see "done" when I'm looking at a half loaded page, a blank white page, or a blank green page; you name it.

When I click on "refresh" to get it to load again, I often end up with the same results, but the taskbar still stubbornly insists that it is "done".

One time when this happened, I was suddenly reminded of an old MASH episode. Hawkeye and his tentmates had gotten a Korean woman to come clean up the place. She didn't do a very good job of it, but she came up to Hawkeye for her payment and did kind of a curtsey and said, "Finish!!" in her broken English. Hawkeye looked around at the still messy tent and pointed out the things that she'd neglected to do. The Korean woman gave him an obdurate expression, then did her strange little curtsey and emphatically said, "Finish!!" again. Hawkeye gave up, knowing he'd not get her to do it properly, he simply paid her to get rid of her.

So, now, every time I get "done" on my taskbar with a page not properly loaded and hitting "refresh" doesn't fix it, I picture that Korean woman in my head emphatically saying "Finish!!"

What kind of odd associations do you have?

Extra points to anyone who remembers that episode and can tell me the name of it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Conservatives and "Big Government"

I often hear conservatives banging on about the evils of big government; that they believe a small government is a better government, blah, blah, blah. Most recently, many conservatives have stated that they're against health care reform because of their belief that government would do an inefficient job of it.

But it seems they have no problem with the government meddling in the private lives of consenting adults by regulating who may and may not get married. There are no calls for privatization in this arena or hand wringing about the inefficiency of big government here.

It seems that conservatives are happy with government involvement when it serves their agenda. To them, "big government" is only "evil" when it pertains to matters they don't support.

And as far as health care goes, the more honest conservatives won't talk about the supposed inefficiency of government; they'll tell you they don't want their tax dollars going to help "those people".

Just saying...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Polyandry: The Obvious Solution to China's Sex-Ratio Imbalance

In a recent report from Chinese state media, it was announced that 24 million "surplus" Chinese men of marriageable age will likely have trouble finding wives by 2020. The study specifically blamed sex-specific abortion as a major culprit. The study identified this gender imbalance as China's most serious demographic problem.

"Sex-specific abortions remained extremely commonplace, especially in rural areas," where the cultural preference for boys over girls is strongest, the study said,

Researcher Wang Guangzhou indicated that the skewed birth ratio could lead to difficulties in finding a spouse especially for lower income men and that it was likely there would be a widening age gap between spouses. Such low income men would face a scenario of marrying later in life or not finding a wife at all.

"The chance of getting married will be rare if a man is more than 40 years old in the countryside. They will be more dependent on social security as they age and have fewer household resources to rely on," Researcher Wang Yuesheng said.

Another contributing factor to this phenomenon is the country's family planning policies, which limits most couples, with a few exceptions, to only one child. An inadequate social security system also contributes to the already strong cultural preference for male children, as it is believed that men would better be able to financially care for parents in their later years.

The report also stated that the incidence of abductions and trafficking women are becoming serious problems in areas with the highest humbers of excess men.

In normal circumstances in China, there is a slight imbalance in the sex ratio, with about 105 to 107 males born to every 100 females. In 2005, the ratio had widened to 119 males to 100 females, with some areas as high as 130 males to 100 females.

The study recommended that the government relax the one child policy and to encourage "cross-country" marriages.

While I agree that these steps will help the generation after the one currently coming into adulthood, it doesn't help those who will be coming of age within the next ten to fifteen years. A more immediate solution is needed to help these men now.

It's an obvious solution, but it occurs to few people because it violates one of the biggest societal sacred cows.

In a word, the obvious solution is polyandry, which is a form of polygamy that allows one woman to have multiple husbands. If China allowed legal polyandry to exist alongside monogamy, then none of the projected 24 million surplus males would have to remain unwillingly single.

Many people both in Western countries and in China would object to this solution for "moral" reasons. But is this a valid reason?

Looked at objectively, monogamy is no more inherently moral than either form of polygamy. Instead, these three types of marriage are at their base, simply different types of reproductive strategies, each suited for different societal needs..

Polygyny, one man with multiple wives, has often occurred throughout history where population growth was desired and/or needed, such as in agricultural societies where many hands were needed to do the necessary work, and where women outnumbered men.

This is because polygyny is a much more efficient system than monogamy if the goal is to produce large amounts of children. One woman can produce only so many children regardless of the form her marriage takes, but one man can easily sire hundreds of children with multiple women.

Polyandry, one woman with multiple husbands, is suited well for societies where population growth needs to be halted and where men outnumber women. Polyandry limits population growth, as several men are sharing the limited reproductive capacities of one woman. Thus, polyandry is a reproductive strategy that would be ideally suited for today's China, as China both desires to curb its rampant overpopulation and to give its 24 million surplus males a chance of marrying that would not be possible in a monogamy-only society.

But I doubt China will seriously consider this practical solution, even as a short term strategy, because that is the nature of sacred cows, People tend to cling to them, even when doing so is impractical and is maladaptive for a society's current needs.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

A History of Lunacy

Pat Robertson's latest moronic comments about the earthquake in Haiti are just the latest in a history of moronic comments. I'm quite convinced that the man isn't entirely sane and that his lunacy is of a similar nature as what afflicts the anti-gay preacher Fred Phelps.

What follows is a list of Robertson's previous idiocy:

In light of Pat Robertson's most recent outbreak of foot in mouth disease in reference to the school board elections in Dover, PA, here is a small sampling of other moronic things he's said over the years. Makes me wonder why he's running around loose, let alone hosting a TV show.

"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."
–Pat Robertson, calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

"Wait a minute, I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out,' and 'take him out' can be a number of things, including kidnapping."
–Pat Robertson, clarifying his call to assassinate Hugo Chavez

"Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up"
–Pat Robertson, on nuking the State Department

"That was never in the Constitution, however much the liberals laugh at me for saying it, they know good and well it was never in the Constitution! Such language only appeared in the constitution of the Communist Soviet Union."
–Pat Robertson, on the constitutional separation of church and state

"I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household and the husband is the head of the wife, and that's the way it is, period."
–Pat Robertson

"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."
–Pat Robertson

"I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you, This is not a message of hate -- this is a message of redemption. But a condition like this will bring about the destruction of your nation. It'll bring about terrorist bombs; it'll bring earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor."
–Pat Robertson, on "gay days" at Disneyworld

"Well, I totally concur."
–Pat Robertson to Jerry Falwell following the Sept. 11 attacks, after Falwell said, "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say: "You helped this happen."

"Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians. It's no different. It is the same thing. It is happening all over again. It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history."
–Pat Robertson

"Lord, give us righteous judges who will not try to legislate and dominate this society. Take control, Lord! We ask for additional vacancies on the court."
–Pat Robertson

"Over 100 years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that’s held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings."
–Pat Robertson, on the dangers of judicial activism

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sarah Palin: Part of the Dumbing Down of America

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Candidate For 2011 Banned Words List

I was listening to the radio today and an advertisement came on that used the phrase "we've got your back" several times. This phrase means "we're behind you", "we support you", "we stand behind you." Whenever I hear this phrase, I can't help but wonder how I'd manage to walk if someone else managed to "have my back".

As I heard this, I couldn't help but think that this obnoxious phrase should have been on this year's list of banned words. I think I'll submit it for next year's list.

Monday, January 4, 2010

An Observation

While out driving today, I tuned into yet another conservative talk radio show (there aren't any other kind in my listening area, unfortunately). The host was ranting and raving about Janet Napolitano, whom he sneeringly called "Janet From Another Planet", saying that she is unfit to be Secretary of Homeland Security, because of the Christmas Day "crotch bomber" incident. The host based this opinion on the question of how the hapless terrorist was able to board the plane.

Now, I can't say how good of a job Napolitano is doing in her post, as I've not really kept up with what she's been doing since being appointed to that position.

That being said, I think it's ludicrous to blame her for the terrorist getting on board that plane in the first place and being present when it took off. This is because he boarded in Amsterdam, which was, the last time I checked, not a part of the United States, but, rather, a part of the Netherlands, over which the US Department of Homeland Security has no jurisdiction.

Just saying...

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 :List of Banished Words

Lake Superior State University has released its annual list of "banished words"; words they consider trite, overused, annoying, or a combination of all three. Following below is the list, with my comments in italics:


"Apparently, the generally accepted definition of this phrase is to imply that a project has been completely designed and all that is left to do is to implement it...however, when something dies, it, too, is shovel-ready for burial and so I get confused about the meaning. I would suggest that we just say the project is ready to implement.” – Jerry Redington, Keosauqua, Iowa.

"Stick a shovel in it. It's done." – Joe Grimm, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

I'd like to take a shovel upside the head of the person who coined this obnoxious phrase.


"In the lexicon of the political arena, this word is supposed to mean obvious or easily understood. In reality, political transparency is more invisible than obvious!" -- Deb Larson, Bellaire, Mich.

Someone throw a blanket over "transparent".


Long used by the media as a metaphor for positions of high authority, including “baseball czar” Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, appointed by team owners as commissioner-for-life in 1919. U.S. president Woodrow Wilson had an “industry czar” during World War I. Lesser-known “czar” roles in government during the last 100 years include: censorship, housing and oil czars in 1941; rubber czar in 1942; patronage czar (1945); clean-up (1952); missile (1954); inflation (1971); e-commerce (1998); bioethics, faith-based and reading czars (2001); bird flu (2004); democracy (2005); abstinence and birth control czars (2006); and weatherization czar (2008).

I thought the Russians took care of "czars" in 1917.


And all of its variations…tweetaholic, retweet, twitterhea, twitterature, twittersphere….

Jay Brazier of Williamston, Mich. says she supposes that tweeters might be "twits."

Personally, I'd go for "twats", myself.


"Must we b sbjct to yt another abrv? Why does the English language have to fit on a two-inch screen? I hate the sound of it. I think I'll listen to a symph on the rad." -- Edward R. Bolt, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Put "cr" in front of "app" and you get crapp!


Sending sexually explicit pictures and text messages through the cell phone.

"Any dangerous new trend that also happens to have a clever mash-up of words, involves teens, and gets television talk show hosts interested must be banished." – Ishmael Daro, Saskatoon, Sask., Canada.

A "word" spoken by those who aren't getting the real thing.


Came into popularity through social networking websites. You add someone to your network by "friending" them, or remove them by "unfriending" them.

"'Befriend' is much more pleasant to the human ear and a perfectly useful word in the dictionary." – Kevin K., Morris, Okla.

I pretty much hate any noun that is made into a verb and vice versa.


What might otherwise be known as 'a lesson.'

"It's a condescending substitute for 'opportunity to make a point,'" says Eric Rosenquist of College Station, Tex.

So, portions of time are now capable of being taught, hmm?


"Overused and redundant. Aren't ALL times 'these economic times'?" -- Barb Stutesman, Three Rivers, Mich.

I think this stuffy phrase has outlived its fifteen minutes of overuse.


"Everything in the news is about the stimulus is no longer a grant, it's stimulus money, stimulus checks, etc. I think it is just being over-used." Teri Heikkila, Rudyard, Mich.

I've got your "stimulus package" right here!


"Whatever happened to simply 'bad stocks,' 'debts,' or 'loans'?" -- Monty Heidenreich, Homewood, Ill.

This list wouldn't be complete without an oxymoron.


"Just for the record, nothing's too big to fail unless the government lets it." Claire Shefchik, Brooklyn, NY.

Tell this to the owners of the Titanic!.


"I am sick of combined words the media creates to make them sound catchier. Frenemies? Bromances? Blogorrhea? I'm going to scream!" – Kaylynn, Alberta, Canada.

I've been lucky to have never heard this one before.


"Heard everywhere from MTV to ESPN to CNN. A bothersome term that seeks to combine chillin' with relaxin' makes me want to be 'axin' this word." – Tammy, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

What? Does this mean to put an axe into the refrigerator?

OBAMA-prefix or roots?

The LSSU Word Banishment Committee held out hope that folks would want to Obama-ban Obama-structions, but were surprised that no one Obama-nominated any, such as these compiled by the Oxford Dictionary in 2009: Obamanomics, Obamanation, Obamafication, Obamacare, Obamalicious, Obamaland….We say Obamanough already.

Let's bomb all the Obama conages.

My personal contribution to this year's list would be:

FAIL used as a noun.

For example, a football team loses big in a game and it's dubbed "an epic fail". This one made me grind my teeth the first time I heard it. It may be an "epic failure", but it's NOT an "epic fail".