Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Stupid thunder...

Every time I find the time to write something there's a thunder storm. We need the rain, I know. But half the time I'm rushing too much to even bookmark all the research pages I have up. So I'm getting very backlogged and frustrated.

Got to go.

More damn thunder.

In other news the garden is doing nice.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Goodbye Agassi...

It's no big secret that I hate sports. Actually, that's not really true though. I'm not obsessed with sports, but I can set down and enjoy a good game when I'm in the mood. There are some sports though that I simply can't stand, others I get too disgusted by politics of. To me a sport should be fun. I'm not against competition, but I just can't get into this cult thing that some fans do. I can appreciate an athlete's dedication and hardships, but the college ra-ra-ra's and whatnot... Sorry. Don't mean to deflate anyone; it just doesn't do it for me.

That said, I do like some sports. I like to watch people play street ball. I like skateboarding and BMX tournaments like the X-Games. I like martial arts, though the competition and reward system bothered me even when I competed. You think soccer moms are scary? They ain't nothing compared to the bloodlust of a Tae Kwon Do mom:

TKD Mom: "Come on ______! RIP HIS GODDAMN HEAD OFF!"

Me: "Geez... the kid's only eight-years-old!"

Anyway. I do like some sports, and Tennis is one of them. Thanks to Agassi. I remember those games between him and Sampras back in the '90s. Whenever they got on a court together, Tennis had my interest. Then I saw the Venus sisters... that was some crazy shit. They might as well have been going at each other with battleaxes. Yet at the end they always hugged and stayed close it seemed.

But in all honesty, I neve got hooked. I'll sit down if a game is on and check it out, but I don't even know when the French open or any of the others are until I bump into them on TV. I'm not a sports enthusiast, but if it weren't for Agassi, I'd probably never have taken interest at all. In fact, I'd probably still be a big "I HATE sports" kinda guy. These days if nothing else has me engaged, I'll at least give most things a chance to suck me in. Heck, I've even watched a few football games now and then! (I can imagine a few people had to have lost some bets over that one.)

So thanks Andre, and good luck on your last game.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The novel ain't dead!

Any other writers out there read this and shout, "hells yeah!" and then spend the rest of the day smiling because someone finally said what you've felt for a long time, only ten times better than you every could. Cause I did.

Once again, thanks Amber and Waldo for giving me a subscription to VQR for Christmas.

Jim-Crow and Gay Rights

Sometime between my right ankle being a sore twisted mass of discomfort and my left leg being a sore swollen mass of yellowjacket stings and bites, this slipped by me.

I've been tiptoeing around the Jim-crow comparison with gay rights, in part because of the apparent black support of the amendment. (Check out the message board for this previous article I wrote.) Jonathan Rauch does an excellent job however drawing the comparisons intelligently without stepping on toes or really using African American hardships distastefully to further the cause of gay rights. It's a really good read.

450 different vertebrate species can't be wrong!

"The flies get it
And the frogs get it
And all them big jungle cats get it
And I bet your little dog gets it
Yeah, I want you to get with it
Yeah, come on, and get with it
Whoo!"

-The White Stripes, from "Instinct Blues" (Sorry, couldn't resist!)



You know, I really didn't set out to turn my blog into a gay rights soapbox, it's just been an interesting arena to engage in, and every time I think I've said my piece and get ready to move on to an article about the evolution of video games, or my pet peeves with the structure and ideals of propriety in essay composition, or looking at narcissistic vs. topical blogging... something else comes to my attention and I'm back on the rainbow wagon.

So Waldo posted a link to this article and it pulled me back in for another go.

Homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom is not really a new thing; or rather, I should say the discovery of it. I remember several years ago coming across an article online about primate lesbianism. The problem has always been that this fact seems to almost hurt the cause of gay rights more than help it. Obviously, proving homosexuality is a natural part of societal evolution and behavior would be a tremendous victory for gay rights, but the problem lies in the opponent. The primary opposition to gay rights is religious fundamentalists. Homophobia can be sprinkled over a variety of different opposing forces, but the real big daddy in this country really is the church. The same people that push for intelligent design to be taught in schools, because they do not believe in evolution. People that take word for word verses 26-31 of Genesis Chapter 1, to heart and ego. If you try to justify homosexuality because da monkeys do it, then the opposition will just point out that we are above the animals and that this is proof that homosexuality is a savage thing of beasts and degenerates. Then you respond that we are animals too and it's like talking to a wall.

In many ways the evidence of animal behavior seems only to preach to the choir. Yet on the other hand it does reaffirm the choir, and I believe the choir is getting bigger.

More so, Roughgarden is not simply portraying the species, about actually challenging Darwinian sexual selection. (Gosh, Darwin's really having a tough year!) She's purposing a natural utility to sexual diversity both in animals and people. These kinds of scientific leaps, though radical, might make more ripples than the average kinky dolphin story.

I looked at the sample online at Amazon and was happy to see chapters in her content listing exploring homosexuality utilized in various past and present cultures. So I think I'm gonna give it a read. Anthropologically, this has been a subject of interest to me since I did a presentation on Two-Spirits back in high school.


On another note, when looking at the article this struck me more on a feminist level:
Furthermore, the mechanics of sex helped explain why the genders were so different. Because eggs are expensive and sperm are cheap, "Males of almost all animals have stronger passions than females," Darwin wrote. "The female...with the rarest of exceptions is less eager than the male...she is coy." Darwin is telling the familiar Mars and Venus story: Men want sex while women want to cuddle. Females, by choosing who to bed, impose sexual selection onto the species.
Biologically, this makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. I know this level of sex education is pretty elementary, but I don't know how to respond to this but to state the obvious: Women do have a finite number of eggs, but they don't ejaculate them during sex! They are disposed naturally through the menstrual cycle. If an egg is not fertilized, it's pretty much lost anyway. Pregnancy puts this cycle on hold though. So the logic escapes me. It is true that women inevitably face menopause, an in this respect do not have their entire life time to find their ideal partner like men who constantly produce seamen on into their 70s. But with the individual act of sex, the argument does not hold up.

Of course I'm approaching this with humans, whose cycles are less seasonally dependent like that of a Lion's for example. And exception is acknowledged in the theory, but if we are to apply these theories to humans then we must address them under our own sexual conditions.

This idea that men are horny little sex machines and women prefer to "cuddle" is more of a cultural product. If you want to get down to the mechanics of it, because men have to produce sperm, we're typically less capable of repeated rounds of sex than women. There also seems to be considerable evidence that women are capable of substantially larger numbers of orgasms at a time than men. They also reach sexual prime at later and more mature stage of life then men. When you take it all in, is it any surprise that many cultures seem intimidated by women? That they emphasize virginity before marriage and in some cases force forms of FGC to try and keep the female sex drive under control?

There is one distinct biological difference though that does account for women being more couscous and selective then men. Regardless of childcare laws... women can get pregnant and men can't. If a guy hits the road, he can in many cases wash his hands of the matter and get away with it. The woman is still pregnant. Why this wasn't pointed out seems odd to me, because it's a much more obvious and a better biological argument when looking at humans. Perhaps I'm reaching too far out from the original intent. Either way the article does go on to challenge the theory pointing out that, "Nobody is hornier than a female macaque or bonobo (which mount the males because the males are too exhausted to continue the fornication)."

To me this whole thing seems kind of ironic. For centuries fundamentalists have been agitated by biology and similar fields of science because in addition to concepts like evolution, which seem to challenge Genesis (anyone else find it interesting that God made humans AFTER making all the other animals?), they have broken us down to our basic mechanics. They are slowly showing us that we are but soft machines, our emotions are chemical reactions and our minds little more than advanced computers. Naturally these conclusions aren't held by all scientists, but that's often the image given. On the other hand, it seems that in face of much more complex and provocative implications of sex and relationships, the religious right (who surely love that play on words) seems to be stressing that sex should be purely a function of procreation, reverting to a much more primal and mechanical way of life. Science, for a change, seems to be stressing that there is more to this than we'd think.

I've noticed in the message boards and entries of other bloggers a stressing that fundamentalists, in all this talk of separation are actually losing track of the concept of love in their pursuit to preserve the institution, concept and sanctity of marriage. They're all about the idea and not about what it really means to marry someone. Regardless of my somewhat conservative lifestyle, something about sex being meaningless beyond procreation, that procreation should be the primary focus of two people pledging themselves to one another... strikes me as rather soulless.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wasps and Sharks

Got into a nasty Yellowjacket nest today at work. I've counted three stings and multiple bites to my left leg. The suckers got in my shoe and started knowing away at my ankle, now my calf is rather swollen and sore.

The Benadryl has left me in a drowsy stupor all day. When not passed out asleep. I've mostly killed time playing Jaws Unleashed. I have the old Nentendo Jaws from the '80s, and couldn't resist when I heard about this new version. If you're not familiar with this new title, imagine Grand Theft Auto with a Shark... yeah... it's pretty sweet. Lots of bugs keep the game from being fantastic though. Still, a lot of fun if you're into smashing boats and chomping swimmers.

I've almost beaten it though and can't help but feel the gamer in me has really died. The hours I put into this just feel so utterly wasted and unfulfilling. With the new wave of systems, gaming is about to enter into some very exciting changes. And for the most part I couldn't care less. It's weird. Guess I'm getting old. Bump into teens down town and about... I mean I'm only a few weeks from twenty-one, but I can't help but be aware that I'm not one of them anymore. Not sure I'd really want to be. I just hope as I grow out of old thrills there are going to be new ones in there place, and not stupid stuff either.

Anyway... heads doing the drowsy thing. Back to Shark for me.



High Rotation:

Duke Ellington (with Mingus and Max Roach!) "Money Jungle"

Sonic Youth "Rather Ripped"

Friday, June 16, 2006

Out of Town

Looks like I'll be out of town overnight tomorrow. I'll probably not have internet access, so people trying to get in touch with me may have delayed e-mail replies if I don't hear from them before I go. I'm also not clear on what my cell phone situation's going to be.

In other news, my ankle's doing much better. Didn't bother me any walking today... though it's not like I've been typing all day while standing up. :)

When I get back I promise I'll try and blog something light and under three thousand words, like my thoughts on video games or something.

Take it easy.

Gay Rights: From Iraq to Virginia

(NOTE: Sorry cvilleblogs readers. I'm not sure why the italics are not showing up on there. To pervent confusion and headache with regards to my breakdown of Marshall's opinion piece, please read this directly from my blog. Thanks!)

* * *

"They sheathed their swords inside their bibles

And when they come, they come to beat him straight
But it’s the bible that takes a beating
When you preach a love of hate"

-Danny Schmidt, from God's Love of Man


Before the criticism rolls in, I'd like to make clear that my intent is not to present with the following a slippery slope argument, or any other manner that would conclude or imply that if the proposed constitutional amendment banning homosexual civil unions in Virginia passes, it would lead to such harrowing atrocities as those reported in Iraq. I believe the following portrays a classic example of the dangers that come when religion holds strong sway over government or is in fact the foundation of a government. Such a system becomes vulnerable to fundamentalism and fanaticism, which often lead to stripping of rights, violence, and inevitably deaths. Also, by using a religion in such ways as to sway masses, gain power, and justify atrocity, one perverts the image of that religion and does injustice to the humble people who follow it.

I must stress though that those are general beliefs and not analytical conclusions of the situation in Iraq. I'm extremely inexpert in Islamic scripture (having read only small quotations and summaries of belief, concept, and custom) to give any opinion of how well the happenings do or do not fit into Allah's teachings, or the relations between the Koran and Sharia, nor do I wish to venture far down this path, for it deviates too much from my intent with this article. These are merely reasons why a separation of church and state matter so much to me.

I've been out of commission a lot this past week for varying reasons as previous posts have suggested. In addition, problems with my ankle left me propped in bed with little to do but dabble online and read. I've also been weary of typing, since in addition to heavier than usual blogging, geography and circumstance had for a time made it my primary means of communicating with friends. The benefit of this combination is that it put me in a position to devote more time to catch up on reading other people's blogs.

So poking around on Charlottesville Blogs led me to Nanovirus, which had a charming little blip back in May that caught my attention. Before reading this I had not been aware of the existence of UK Gay News, which (if you can get beyond the advertisement for the Key West resort and its full Monty model) seems to be a pretty good source for international news on homosexual related stories. More so, I had not really paid attention to such happenings in Iraq nor been aware of the Iraqi LGBT.

When you read about a 14-year-old boy killed by a gunshot to the head because he committed homosexual acts, or of parents saying they'd kill their children without hesitation if they ever learned that they had... it's hard to evoke anything but an emotional reaction. Seeming completely powerless to do anything about it, the common reaction is to say an enraged comment at the screen, just to get that ball of frustration that tightens the strip of muscles between your naval and solar plexus out before the heat build up where your open eyelids curl back into your sockets becomes too much. It doesn't really accomplish anything. The comment usually lacks as much reason and rational as the documented act that provoked it.

The reality is that this isn't an uncommon thing. Events similar to these, at least when looked at individually, happen all over the world. What seems to make Iraq stand out is our occupation. This is happening in a country that we are claiming to bring democracy to. Not to undermine the atrocities present while Saddam Hussein was in power, but this is an atrocity (though it should be noted that homosexuality was punishable by death during his regime) that's escalated after his fall, supposedly from Iranian influence in the country.

So a feeling of responsibility does seem to resonate. Of course how best one could go about rectifying the problem (if we should) is beyond me. At some point we have to draw the line and let Iraqis run their county as they see fit. The complications involved are one of the reasons I never supported the war.

Whenever the issue of respecting the customs of another culture and their right to practice them on their soil, despite enormous disapproval through personal beliefs on our own, arises, I've always felt that the very least (if not best) we can do is oppose it in our lives. To be clear, what I mean is not to harass such on our own soil or anything that could be deemed malicious, but to show a strong and decent culture practicing an alternative. If you disagree with the subordination of women in a culture for example, than instead of going to that country and imposing your beliefs upon it, make an effort in your personal life and surrounding homeland to promote feminism and equal rights. Challenge chauvinism when it rears its head in your social circles. The same goes for racism or any other prejudice. For anything really!

Take religion for example: the people of devout faiths that I've come to respect most have not been the ones who have tried to "save" my soul, but the ones that have shown humility in their demeanor, and excelled as genuinely decent hardworking people. Never feeling the need to convince anyone of their faith by evoking it with every other desperate breath, they create an allure to it by way of their generally admirable character that seems to draw deeply from its discipline. By thriving in contradiction we can disapprove of practices afar without hypocrisy, and by doing so, cast an imposing shadow that could with time permeate inspirations of radical thought into the people of such lands.

Obviously American police are not dragging homosexuals into the street and legally shooting them, but we do discriminate. We hide behind our scriptures just the same. We do it on cultural and political levels. The national marriage amendment did not pass, thankfully, but in many respects the similar proposed for the Virginia constitution is even worse. Not so in the sense that it would (redundantly) impose a definition of marriage upon the fifty states, but, through obscurity, potentially grosser discrimination of fundamental rights. It prevents homosexuals from forming any legally recognized union that would bear similarity to marriage.

I confess in my past writings there is some confusion in my comparisons of the two amendments, both in description and through my focus on the notion of homosexual marriage. The former is in part because of some difficulty finding a copy of the amendment's full text. You would think an article of such import would be a Google search away, but in actuality it took me a few hours and a couple e-mail requests before a site bearing it was linked to me. It seems you really have to know where to look if want to read actual documents and not just descriptions of them from news articles. Perhaps I am still simply unskilled at finding things online, but in a way that's my point. I'm very concerned many of the average voters are not going to take the trouble I did, and thus not know what they're voting for.

So let me make clear that this is not an amendment to protect the proclaimed sanctity of marriage. The definition of one man and one woman is already recognized nationally as the only legal form of Marriage. The failure of Bush's marriage amendment did not lose this. The Clinton administration already set the traditional definition as the only legal definition. If this amendment does not pass, marriage will not suddenly become open to homosexuals. Regardless of how much I've argued about the issue of gay marriage, that is not the issue here. It is simply an issue I feel strongly about.

The real issue (and please pardon my repetition) is whether or not homosexuals should have any of the rights that are associated with marriage. As the amendment says, "Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage." This is about the existence of alternative civil unions other than marriage.

I recall criticism of Brady Earnhart's protest song Thank God Virginia's On Our Side when it circulated through the blogsphere. One listener interpreted it: "people who support the amendment are lumped in with homophobic criminals." Though Brady and others have already addressed that specific comment, I think the song is spot on with its bridge in cautioning of the discriminatory ramifications of this amendment.

Spirit of the law's in the courthouse
Spirit of the law's in the churchyard
Spirit of the law's on the sidewalk
Spirit of the law's in the hiring line
Spirit of the law's in the bedroom
Spirit of the law's in the barracks
Spirit of the law's in the pool hall
Spirit of the law's in the punch line
Spirit of the law's in the tire iron
Spirit of the law's on the playground

When you infect the spirit of the law with prejudice, then you infuse prejudice with the spirit of the law. As Brady cautions: "The encouragement a bigot takes from us-versus-them, hot-button legal maneuvers like this one is constrained not a whit by the lofty rhetoric that's used to sell them to the voting public. Any decent folk who are now in favor of the amendment ought to be aware of the toxicity that will seep out of it down the road."

For any who still question the presence of prejudice, look no further than the words of one of sponsors of the amendment: Delegate Robert G. Marshall himself. Observe his tone of repulsion and mockery. His arrogance and use of abstraction and generalization throughout his comments:

After two generations of the divorce-producing, disease-laden sex revolt, with some folks working hard to separate the marriage part from love, now we have others who want to separate the mom and dad part from marriage. These separatists are quite serious. In fact, they usually are very stern. Some are federal judges. Others are state judges. They claim that a man can marry a man, or a woman a woman. They do this without cracking a smile. (My own acting talent falls far short of this ability.)

Note his avoidance of specific groups or ideologies, balling the whole of two generations into "disease-laden sex revolt." This, his following paragraph to the lyrics of Love and Marriage, evokes a strong desire to return to the Leave it to Beaver ideology of the 1950s. (I mean not to lose focus, degrading criticism into pure character assassination, but I can't help but wonder if he is displeased with all sexual change throughout this period, including the cultural and legislative leaps in women's rights. What "gentry" would he have us look to?) Also, his use of "disease-laden" suggests AIDS, a common tool in the demonizing of homosexuals. I can think of few general titles that have shown to be historically more appealing to rally against, more signifying of a sense of "us-against-them" than the label of separatist.

His following quote from Paula Ettelbrick, under the context that he uses it, seems to suggest some horrifyingly debased moral agenda when she says, "Being queer means pushing the parameters of sex, sexuality and family, and in the process transforming the very fabric of society." In fairness though, sodomy (and thus all forms of homosexual sex) is illegal (regardless of enforcement) in the state of Virginia. The existence of homosexual parents with the same basic rights of heterosexual parents, by nature, pushes the parameters of family. These are pretty much meat and potatoes gay rights aspirations.

Heterosexual marriage requires sexual exclusivity. Advocates of same-sex unions merely "prefer" sexual exclusivity, but do not require it.

Indeed, a prominent same-sex "marriage" advocate speaks of "an openness of the contract" for marriage between homosexuals and claims that such a legal union would be more durable than heterosexual marriage because the contract contains an "understanding of the need for extramarital outlets." No such "understanding" exists in law for married heterosexuals.

Again, Marshall gives no specific example of his "prominent same-sex "marriage" advocate" thus generalizing the whole of advocates into an image he presumes unsavory to the public. He tries to blur the line between marriage and civil union, and in that obscurity, impose the moral ideals of marriage on concepts of open civil union, thus reciprocally implying a desired demoralization of marriage through the putting aside of its defined monogamy. This is also a generalization of all forms of civil union, relating them to marriage as if they were all purely alternatives to marriage... as if they were all merely marriage by another name. Obviously all civil unions are not such, and that is what is at stake with this amendment. If the prospect of open unions is too liberal or otherwise unappealing, than it should be addressed individually, and if found unappealing, should be thrown out as a specific form of civil union, like bathwater without the baby.

What do you think public school sex education will become with same-sex marriage?

As I said: note the repulsion in his tone. I'm not sure how much public school sex education has improved since the kids I was exposed to growing up, but considering the ignorance in the early '00s, I don't think conservatives should worry too much about an increase in explicitness. The majority of high school and college students I've conversed with on such matters did not in fact know how to properly put on a condom. If instructing someone to pinch the tip of the condom while unrolling it onto the penis so as to provide a reservoir for ejaculation and thus reducing the risk of the condom breaking is too squeamish a subject matter to bestow on the ignorant and sexually active, than I'm sure no teacher is going to talk about the risk of STD transfer by using saliva as an anal lubricant regardless of condom presence. Really Mr. Marshall, god forbid with the predominant percentages of AIDS in homosexual men we dare talk about sodomy!

By adopting our marriage amendment, Virginia will not have to recognize out-of-state, same-sex unions of any stripe that seek to grant the rights and status of marriage to same-sex "unions.

In other words: if you're driving through Virginia with your partner... try to avoid getting in a car accident that would result in one of your deaths. The paperwork could be real nasty. We don't take kindly to your sort 'round har!

This has nothing to do with the ability to contract, to leave your estate to a friend, to provide that a friend may direct your medical care if you are incapacitated, to open a joint bank account, to start a business and other such activities.

Really? Because the amendment completely fails to note that, and it is the amendment that will be interpreted legally, not Marshall's description of it. In fact, in an apparent effort not to be too obvious in the amendments prejudice, it was written so broadly and obscurely that heterosexuals should also be very concerned about it's implications in regards to our own rights. No distinction is made to get heterosexuals in civil unions off the hook.

To say that homosexuals may not enter a same-sex "marriage," but they can have civil unions or domestic partnerships is to invite a legal challenge to Virginia's public policy for denying to homosexuals "equal protection of the laws." That is why the marriage amendment is written the way it is.

That is also exactly why it should not be passed! Homosexuals should have equal protection of the laws. They should have equal rights. They should not be segregated by the prejudices of squeamish politicians. If you want to protect the sanctity of marriage, then fine, it's safe, but to not permit homosexuals or others the basic rights embodied in that institution is absurdly wrong.

The current complaints that it will do something other than protect marriage are a little curious. For example Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has now come out against the amendment, although he told the two Catholic bishops of Virginia before last year's election that he supported that exact wording. Why doesn't the governor point to public statements of his from last year sounding the alarm about unintended consequences? Is it because there aren't any?

Instead of addressing the accusations brought forth, here Marshall uses Gov. Kaine as a distraction from the issue, completely dodging it. Merely attacking the credibility of Kaine or anyone else who raises question about the repercussions of this amendment is not answering them. It does however add justification to such concerns. He asks, "Is it because there aren't any?" As one of the key people behind the amendment, he ought to know, and we asked first.

Equality Virginia says it represents gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people who are opposed to the marriage amendment. So, how are the bisexuals to gain their "rights" without having one marriage partner of each sex? What do they really want?

In addition shifting the focus from homosexual rights to bisexual rights, Marshall confuses bisexuality with polygamy and sexual promiscuity. In reality, a bisexual may practice both, like some hetero and homosexuals do, but it is not the case of all bisexuals. Bisexuality merely means one can be attracted to either gender. Many share the same aspirations of settling down with a single partner that many hetero and homosexuals proclaim. Again Marshall tries to attack the image of his opposition with misleading generalization and ignorant demonizing. He also continues to evoke the word marriage when the issue is civil unions.

His final comment seems almost amusing:

There is a lot that cannot even be mentioned in this "debate," or even discussed in newspapers. I say vote for real marriage on Nov. 7.

Again he evokes repulsion towards the subject matter and mockery. What of relevance cannot be mentioned? I'm seriously asking. Would Marshall be willing to expound on these dirty matters elsewhere? I genuinely fail to see how the detailed sexual habits of homosexuals, if that is what he's referring to, would be of relevance. Indeed, I'm left with few conclusions but that what cannot even be motioned is the facts regarding the poor composition of this amendment and how their obscurity may lead to interpretations that restrict the rights of heterosexuals.

This is the tone of a primary supporter of the amendment. This is the rhetoric being used. Through out he subtly attacks the image of homosexuals and their supporters misleadingly so as to induce a repulsive reaction from readers. This amendment is only an attempt to protect the idea of marriage in the most perverse sense of bigotry.

The timing of his opinion's publishing seems all the more embarrassing when compared to the reports of the 14-year-old killed in Iraq twenty four days prior. I mean not to use such events to overshadow reason with emotion, for besides my dislike of such technique and value of reasoned thought, I recognize the differences and complexities of the events in regards to our own. I'm not saying that voting for the amendment is an act of support for what happened in Iraq. However, an educated decision to vote yes seems to suggest some small agreement with the fundamentals that were taken to such horrific extreams with Ahmed Khalil. Perhaps I am wrong. Still, I ponder how as a people we should respond in our lives, as citizens of a state thought of as "for lovers" and as part of the nation that self-proclaims itself the police of the world... however we are to present ourselves in light of such atrocities as those of last year, last month, and almost certainly this present, tarnishing our constitution with prejudice does not come to mind.

There are more immediate reasons to vote NO on November 7. Reasons more pertinent to our everyday lives. I've addressed them, as have others. At this moment though I simply cannot refrain from a feeling of shame in light of the late proceedings and considering regional issues of greater import and utility that this would be an issue considered for amendment. I guess some people will do whatever it takes to get a "moral" vote.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Reading...

Kinda took today off. Nurse couldn't make it today for my grandmother, so plans of going to work and college and just about everything went out the window.

Have a few things to blog, but overall I've had a desire to just take a break. I find I'm spending a lot of time either watching movies (which are often depressing) or doing things online. I'm sick of sitting in front of screens.

I took a chunk of today and dragged out a few books. I need to read more books. For so long I thought I was going to be an English teacher, now I'm lucky if I make it though one in a year. In fairness, I am reading a lot more online, and Spanish wore my brain out while I was wading through the four semesters of it.

So I'm dusting off my Lovecraft so that I'll be brushed up once Tim gets around to reading him, and I'm looking at Moby Dick. My sister got my a nice copy of it back in '99. I think it's time I took it on.

A few pages in to Moby, I can see I made the right choice. My growing interest in linguistics makes the opening actually interesting to me. Many had warned me when I was younger that it was quite boring.

I'm also looking at my copy of Kerouac's The Subterraneans. I wanted to read it all over a weekend, but what the hell. I want to read it and I've held that book for a long time too.

I've also been very absent minded in reguards to my cell phone today and have found quite the stack of missed calls. Sadly I'm without caller ID.

Try to leave my cave more tomorrow... though sadly it will probably just be to go to work.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Suncoast has set...

So I was shanghaied from work the day before yesterday to help my mom find a gift for a friend's birthday. (There's a lot of birthdays lately it seems.) This led to venture into Fashion Square Mall. I'm a far cry from a mall rat. (Yes I was practically born and raised on the Downtown Mall, but that doesn't count. Totally different cultures.) For years I've only had one reason to go to the mall: Suncoast Movies. I'd visit Walden Books and the nature stores and stuff, but the only place in the mall I've ever actually been a patron was Suncoast. For years they were the only notable place to by movies in town. You could get a decent selection at your Wal-Marts and what not, but if you wanted something crazy, like Audition: the director's cut, or The Stanley Kubrick DVD collection... Suncoast was the place to go. For years it was the only place in town with a notable selection of anime for those interested in that market. Not to mention tons of geek stuff like Warriors (before the recent popularity resurge) t-shirts and enough Evil Dead merchandise to make a months paycheck incinerate in your hands as if it were held with red hot tongs. It was a fun place to hang out at.

I hadn't been to the mall since Eric and I killed time there on his birthday a few months ago. Much had changed.

Suncoast apparently went "bankrupt" according to the assistant at the nearby entrance to the mall. It's gone.

Sam Goody has also left the mall. Currently there are no outlets to purchase movies or music in Fashion Square.

I now have absolutely no reason to enter the wretched place. Walden Books is nice, and might be the only place in town to get a few books on my list, but ultimately I'd rather shop downtown for books and yes... the evil Barns and Noble when I've no where else to turn do occasionally take my money, but more often than not I'll turn to buying an obscure book online.

That's probably what killed Suncoast in the end. Online buying, but Target and Best Buy can't deny the blood on their hands. Heck, Target even advertises it.

What concerns me most about all this is that these places will never have the selection that Suncoast had. Wal-Mart was selling One Missed Call to my shock recently, but will I be able to buy Kikujiro from them? You can still get some decent titles at Plan 9, but they tend to be $10 over price.

I guess the internet has just become a little bit more my place ground. So adios Suncoast. We had some good times.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Best fortune cookie ever

First off, Blogger.com has been down a lot today. So I'm very sorry if anyone had any problems posting or reading my blog. It has been very frustrating to not be able to do things when I've had time today to do them, and I know a lot of other friends that use Blogger and could not comment on their latest articles.

Anyway, all seems well now... so back to blogging!

* * *

Fortune cookies have been a pretty silly thing for years now. They either tell you something lame like, "You will find much happiness in life" or instead of a fortune they'll give you some words of wisdom. These wisdom cookies, filled with little bits of advice and observations are seldom even the slightest bit profound, but tonight I found what must be the best I've ever read:

"Education will never be as expensive as ignorance."

The "Learn Chinese" word was "Europe" incidentally. There might be something that could be read into that, but for me the fortune was really what stood out.

Been a long day... but a good one.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bush and Gay Marriage: Part 2

Ok, so here are those thoughts about the quotes. I wish I could have included them last night, but looking at the length of this, I'm really glad I didn't try before. I wouldn't have gotten any sleep.

"Our policies should aim to strengthen families, not undermine them. And changing the definition of marriage would undermine the family structure," said Bush[.]

I'm certainly not the first person to ask this, but nonetheless I must ask how does a homosexual union affect another parties' union? How does it cheapen the oath that you pledage with your significant other? People marry in this country for many different reasons. Some people marry for money, others for citizenship, some for possessive control over a partner or because their parents told them to. I've even heard of a few nuts that do it for some absurd backwoods concept called "Love." There are a lot of reasons, and a lot of them seem to undermine marriage a lot more than two people of the same sex. So where is the moral front against those? Where's the constitutional amendment against greedy insincere jerks? Nowhere. Why? Because this is a country where people have the right to do those things. They have a right to swear before any god they want that they will devote their life to someone, only to turn around and screw them over because they didn't sign a prenuptial agreement. I don't think the government should get involved with many of these kinds of things, but they do bother me a lot more than homosexual marriage, and none of them will have any effect on the sturdiness of any oath I choose to pledge with someone I love.

There is no way that a homosexual marriage will undermine any heterosexual marriage. The only thing that can undermine marriage is to embark upon it insincerely. By changing the definition of marriage to include homosexuals, it will not undermine the family structure either. This will not destroy current or future heterosexually parented families. Heterosexuals are not going to form homosexual marriages, let alone leave their heterosexual marriages to do so. If anything this will help prevent the awkward scenario of homosexuals in heterosexual marriages, which is usually a very unhealthy environment to raise a child in when one considers the often-overlooked sensitivity of children towards their parents' marital infidelity and unhappiness. Broadening the potential for happy families to exist is a far cry from undermining.

Traditional marriage, Bush said, is the cornerstone of a healthy society and the issue should be put "back where it belongs: in the hands of the American people."

The thing is that's the exact opposite of what this is doing. By making this a constitutional amendment he is taking this out of the hands of the American people. He's taking away our right to grapple with this issue on a state, city, county, and household level where we can decide what marriage is to us. He's telling us what it is, and threatening to rap us on the knuckles if we try an alternative.

"Marriage between one man and one woman does a better job protecting children better than any other institution humankind has devised," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. "As such, marriage as an institution should be protected, not redefined."

This one disturbs me on so many levels I almost want to give it an article of its own. On what grounds has the Senate Majority Leader come to this conclusion? What exactly does he mean by "protecting children" and how is that achieved more so by "one man and one woman" than by any other union?

If there is a concern that by being raised in a homosexual union a child will by exposure become a homosexual, it should be noted that many children have been raised by homosexual unions and gone on to live average heterosexual lives. The concern has never fully made sense to me. I mean... do people think the children see their same-sex parents have sex? And if so, is that because they were exposed to that much of their parents' sex life? I know I wasn't to mine. Also, it seems to me that people that are so concerned about this tend to forget that most homosexuals come from heterosexual families. Actually, I've never really head of a case of homosexual parents rearing a homosexual child, but I must admit I really haven't sought them out.

In many ways there isn't that much difference between a single parent and homosexual parents, except that, by being two, they can provide more and devote more time to their child(ren). A single parent (of any orientation), though capable of bringing up a child better than two of lesser competence, is generally considered less fit for rearing a child than two parents. This alone however, does not deem them unfit. They still maintain the right to raise their child or even adopt a child. I admit that the absence of exposure to a gender, notably the child's opposite and especially if that opposite is female, can run the risk of distancing, detachment and even chauvinism and misogyny. I've been chewing on the notion for a while now that a great deal of such behavior in this country and abroad has been the result of generations of mothers dying in childbirth, leaving male children with no sexual role model in isolated areas such as farmlands or northern country but their widowed (and perhaps resentful) fathers... passing from one generation to the next till the present. In any case this concern has been shown not to be too serious when in the face of single parents that are not so ignorant to the opposite sex and when in environments where one can be exposed to role models of gender diversity. In either case single parents are found competent with little regard to my concerns, and thus I think the same should be found for homosexuals.

Which brings up another oddity concerning numbers. It is radical, and one that does not exactly agree with my personal preferences regarding relationships, but why only one man and one woman? Why not two men and three woman, or five or six? Couldn't more parents provide more and give a child or multiple children more attention? Couldn't more parents beat down an assailant trying to harm their child? What exactly is the threat that Bill Frist feels "one man and one woman" are better than "any other institution humankind has devised" at protecting a child from? It's abstractions like this and their ability to rally people that really give me a headache. (Kind of like the one I have now.)

On a less radical note, I can't help but notice a particular focus on the nuclear family, with no mention of extended family. It's an oddity, in face of a country that is becoming increasingly urban, with suburbia and many counties developing at an alarming rate into subdivisions and condominiums. Why in all this rhetoric of family values is there no mention of the benefits of grandparents in a child's upbringing? Some of the most intelligent, outgoing, and generally decent people I've known can credit at least one grandparent for contributing to their education. I can't help but be tempted to comment on the current administration's disregard for the elderly. Taking care of our ninety-three year old grandmother, my family's seen first hand the effects of many of the funds Bush has cut along with all those taxes. Looking at such moral family agendas that don't mention the elderly when talking about protecting the family structure, I can't help but feel cynicism towards any concept that his administration actually cares about the elderly.

That's all for now. Possible revisions and additional thoughts later. For now... I sleep and reply to comments if any emerge.

Take care.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Bush and Gay Marriage: Part 1

So I'm finally sitting down to update da blog, and I'm thinking about what a lovely weekend I just had with my girlfriend, going to my all generation high school reunion, and all types of wonderful lovely little things to write about...

...then msn.com comes up... and I see the news.

It's a really uncomfortable feeling when I find myself agreeing with AM radio talk show hosts. I think it's hard not to conclude that Bush is using the gay marriage issue to keep the public distracted from more serious issues in politics. Like with the abortion issue, any republican knows that (in theory) by prohibiting gay marriage, support can not only be mustered within their party but also from outside it where religious beliefs will converge. I find it funny how when many of these heated moralistic issues get fired up, people seem to act like it's some kind of new threat, like abortion or homosexuality has not existed in this country since its beginning.

I'm compelled to let myself be sucked into this debate though. Perhaps it is due to my lack of interest in general politics and profound interest in ethics and philosophy. Perhaps it's that unlike immigration or Iraq, I do feel like I can contribute something meaningful to this. More than anything, I think it is perhaps because as much as I believe Bush is doing this to keep the religious right from completely abandoning him in his declining (has he hit the decimals yet?) approval ratings... as much as I believe this issue is trivial in the face of so much that is happening right now, the outcome of this amendment cannot be ignored. This is not a state vote or a campaign platform. This is something that could have a very real impact on many peoples' lives. I have friends that are homosexuals, and there is something very disturbing to me about them not having the same rights with whomever they choose to love as I do and that they won't have the same rights to raise children as I have.

There are a few quotes in this article I'd like to comment on, however, they will have to wait till perhaps tomorrow evening. Looks like I've got to get up early again.

Hope friends are doing well. I'll try and crawl out of my cave soon.