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Apr. 26th, 2013

Spring’s a Sprung

Despite some of our late spring cool blasts that have dropped our weather into the 50s at points through April, spring has arrived in Houston.  It was a fabulously beautiful day today, and this weekend is packed to the brim with events.

Saturday

There was one major event on saturday that I’ll be missing.  It’s a crawfish boil at a friend’s house in the Northern Heights (above 20th street). I love crawfish, and it’s an easy bike, but my social calendar was already booked when it showed up.  Also being missed, there’s a Day of Derby going on at Houston Indoor Sports.

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Mar. 26th, 2013

Marriage Equality is a No Brainer

Today there are two very important cases being discussed at the US Supreme Court.  Whether the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed under President Clinton is constitutional.  It’s not, and Clinton has publicly said as much recently.  And whether California’s Prop 8, which bans gay marriage, is discriminatory with be discussed as well.

HRC logoIt has long been my contention that the discussion of marriage equality for non heterosexual couples is largely hindered my nomenclature.  The meaning of the word marriage is doing (at least) double duty.  I propose we retire the word and replace it with two others: r-marriage and g-marriage.  Or minimally, footnote our discussions to clarify what it is we are saying when we say “marriage”.

For millennia there has been r-marriage.  Marriage within a religious context.  It is sacred, and for many it is a bond before god that will not be broken until the death of one of the members.

For several hundred years we’ve been living under law that attempts to separate church and state.  Despite that we have legally defined g-marriage, Government Marriage.  This is something that requires government documents, and government fees, and when the relationship is terminated more government fees and documents, and perhaps facilitation by government judges.

There are hundreds of other rights conferred to people who are g-married.  These rights have nothing to do with religion; they could mostly be boiled down to fiscal issues.  These are the rights that are under debate.

No one is trying to change anything regarding r-marriage.  Churches will not be forced to marry anyone they believe is unworthy before god  to be married.  No one!

I question whether the government should even acknowledge marriage.  I would abolish it.  But that’s a radical point of view.  As mentioned, there are hundreds of laws referencing these 2-person bondings.  Removing the g-marriage concept would effect all these historical laws.  Indeed I wonder if the limit of the relationship to 2 people will continue in the distant future.

But there is no doubt the laws conferred by our secular legal system should not be confined by the moral codes of any religion.  Accordingly, there is absolutely no reason to restrict g-marriage on r-marriage’s standards.  Any two people should be able to marry under the eyes of our government, and under the eyes (or not) of any god they espouse.

When you hear people arguing about this issue, try to mentally flag when they’re using the word to mean one thing or the other.

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Dec. 27th, 2012

One Unwanted Gun Gone is a Good Thing

The back and forth on gun safety regulation is going strong and I expect it to continue earnestly through January if not longer. I hope something come’s of it.

Today in an NBC article there was a 2008 quote from a representative of the New Speak named Independent Institute. NBC News describes them as “conservative”, which seem reasonable given the quote.  The Institute itself claims to be non-partisan and says it “sponsors in-depth studies of critical social and economic issues”.

So, if the studies are in-depth, the quotes coming from their Research Director are a bit hyperbolic if not all out lies.

“It’s like trying to drain the Pacific with a bucket,” Alex Tabarrock of the conservative Independent Institute told USA Today in 2008There are an estimated 310 million guns in the U.S. – about one for every U.S. resident.

I would certainly not accuse Mr. Tabarrock of being a scientist.

There are legitimate questions as to whether gun buy-backs are useful or successful.  It depends greatly on how you would measure the success.  It seems the same people that would say “if we get one criminal off the streets, we’re doing good” aren’t willing to extend that tenuous logic to “if we get one weapon of possible death off the street, we’re doing good.”

If we even accept the sisyphian challenge false dichotomy Mr. Tabarrock presents us with, one intimating that unless we remove every gun from circulation that gun crimes will not be diminished, we should look at the numbers he is trying to scare us with.

In the last week I’ve read newspaper articles that totaled over 5,000 guns purchased back from citizens. With 310M guns at large, we would have to have 61,000 such weeks, or less than 1200 years.  Those are all rough numbers, but 1200 years is still a long time, and if that’s the point you’re trying to make, make it on that merit.

Now, the Pacific Ocean has 6.6 x 10^20 liters of water (1.7 x 10^20 gallons).  If we’re equating buckets with the guns, and not one buy-back event, and we stipulate that a bucket is about a gallon. That would leave us with 3.4 x 10^16 weeks or 653,846,153,846,153 years to empty the Pacific Ocean. That’s 544,871,794,871 times longer than slowly, in an unorganized manner, buying back guns.

That’s a ridiculous comparison.

But the implied point is equally ridiculous.  Buy back plans are not about appreciably reducing crime numbers.  The point is, if there is any unwanted gun, we should get it out of circulation.  All guns should be owned by responsible adults that handle and store them properly.  In the same way that if you have used motor oil, we need to provide a safe place for you to dump it, if you no longer want to be responsible for maintaining your gun, we should make it easy for you to get rid of it.  Responsibly.

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Dec. 14th, 2012

I Care More Than You Do

That’s what I hear when I listen to the media: “I care more than you do.”

Today there was another tragic gun related mass murder. This time at a school in Connecticut. As is always the case in injury or death to children, some will claim they have more sympathy for those effected because they are parents.  They don’t state it that way, but that’s the implication of their unreasoned words.

This is itself unsympathetic and self-important.

“I think it’s important on a day like today to view this as I know the president, as a father does and I as a father and others who are parents certainly do, which is to feel enormous sympathy for families that are affected and …” -White House spokesman Jay Carney [CNN]

Here’s what I hear:

“You uncaring, un-empathetic, asshole non-breeders and gays can’t possibly be moved by human tragedy because it involves pre-adult children and you obviously don’t like children …”

When there were several tragedies in the NFL in the last two weeks, I didn’t hear anyone say “I was a high school quarterback, so i really feel for the families of those effected [like others can't be] …”

When there was a movie theater tragedy, I didn’t hear anyone say “I used to be a ticket puller and saw the three previous Batman movies, so I really feel for the families of those effected …”

It’s ridiculous.  And it’s rude.

I’ve known many, many people in my lifetime and their ability for compassion has never seemed to be related to whether or not they had successfully procreated.

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Oct. 26th, 2012

Lines, Lines, . . . or Not

There is a television ad for Galaxy S3 (I think) that is all about the iPhone lines, and the hours that people wait in them.  When you’re ad is mostly about the opponent, you’re losing.

Apple announces a new product, and there will be tens of thousands of people waiting in lines to get it.

Meanwhile, Microsoft pays to promote a tweet to convince a hundred people to show up for the release of the new surface.  $99 of Xbox Music Pass.  I guess that’s a thing; I haven’t heard of it.

https://twitter.com/MicrosoftStore/status/260582589415444481

 

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Oct. 24th, 2012

Lesley Gore: You Don’t Own Me

Written by John Madara and David White and performed by Lesley Gore, a 1963 No. 2 hit single, edited into an excellent statement on Women’s Equality and the politics of 2012.

tip of the hat to: Andrea via Jennifer

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Oct. 23rd, 2012

Final Debate Reaction

Often on the campaign trail Mitt Romney will never mention specifics and only regurgitate platitudes.  In the final debate on foreign policy (transcript) he did much the same.  When he didn’t speak in platitudes, he spoke in what he believed (which was often demonstrably false: “I don’t see our influence growing around the world. I see our influence receding”), or in incorrect facts.  But mostly it was platitudes.

I think this is best shown in his closing statement which is so full of no information, that I would love to have it presented by Obama and run it past conservative voters.

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Oct. 15th, 2012

Breakfast Mundanity: Carrot Cake Yogurt

I was up on 19th Street in the Heights on Thursday, stopped in at Replay to see Crazy Mike and Laura and fill out my outfit for Allen Bartell’s upcoming wedding. Afterward I stopped by the Zombie Kroger on 20th. I tend to grocery shop in single-bag increments. I picked up a few things, but I saw something new that I hadn’t before.

A carrot cake flavored yogurt.  Generic Kroger brand = cheap.  CARBmaster = whatever. I much prefer a non-non-fat yogurt, why rob the natural food of its flavor?  But with the carrot cake flavor I had to vice it a try.

It has a very orange color.  It seems unnatural, but it’s likely from carrot juice (or maybe the “caramel color” and “yellow 6″ helped), that would quickly stain the yogurt.  The first taste was surprising and good. But … then came the aftertaste.  The telltale aftertaste.  Reading the (lengthy) ingredient list confirmed it: sucralose!

Ick.  I hate all artificial sweeteners and this one always leaves a nasty flavor in my mouth.  So much that the rest of the container was spoiled by it.

Now I have one more left in the refrigerator and I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it.

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