Thursday, July 30, 2015

Maybe later

I broke up with Val a few weeks ago and I am trying to process all of the things going on inside my head.  Breakups in the past have been sometimes tricky but they were never full of hate and screaming and accusations of evil and this one is no exception.  I just don't swing that way, mostly, and people that would explode like that tend not to date me in the first place I expect.  When I hear people go off about their exes, accusing them of dastardly deeds and clearing hating them more than anyone else ever, it never resonates with me, in fact it usually turns me right off the complainer.  There are people I broke up with that I have no intention of seeing again but it is just in a 'eh, no real reason to try to have that person in my life anymore' sort of way.  However, never in the past have I broken up with someone and then felt like I would ever try to reunite.  Always the breakup was final, done.  I never hated my exes but I was never going to get back together.

This time is different that way.  A part of why we struggled along for a long time before admitting that we had problems we couldn't solve was that there are a lot of great things there.  Many good times and much real love make it hard to break up.  It really seems like we *should* be together, but it just doesn't work when we are.  I know the breakup was the best course, it needed to happen, but it feels so weird to be thinking that if things change in the future I might want to revisit that decision.

Wistful is a word I never hear used in speech but which I see written all the time.  I think it describes my attitude right now pretty well.  I don't regret the decision, but I do wish there was a way around it.  I have a mix of sadness at the loss and relief that the struggle to make it work isn't there anymore.  I always do better once a final decision has been made and the direction is set, and now I can go forward.  In a few years maybe things will be different, who knows.  Some bit of me is skeptical because I am not the sort to waffle on relationships and be off and on, but other bits are sure that there must be some way to weave all that good into a relationship that works.

I guess the only way to find out is to wait a few years and see.

One thing I am truly glad for is the freedom to let my relationships find the course that works best for them.  Trying to force all relationships into a 'partners for life or nothing' model isn't for me any more.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sad days

Politics in Canada is making me sad these days.  The party currently in charge has decided to randomly mail out checks to people in a flagrant attempt to buy votes, and it seems to be working.  As Sthenno says, it is sad that so many people will vote Conservative no matter what the Conservatives do, but the real tragedy is that so many people will suddenly find the desire to vote Conservative when a random check arrives in the mail.  It is even worse when you consider that the Conservatives changed taxation rules to make sure that almost all of that money gets clawed back at tax time anyway... but that is after the election, so who cares?

Also it is randomly adding complexity to the tax code and requires people to worry about paying taxes on money the government randomly tried to bribe them with, so it is terrible in all the ways.

Truly we are in a sad state when the government can openly and brazenly pay people to vote for them and it works.

But hey, at least I can look south of the border for someone even worse than Harper to make me feel good about my country!  The thing that makes me feel free to laugh at Trump where I can only sob when I think of Harper is that Trump isn't going to win.  He will yell a lot and say many truly awful things but at least in the end he will crash and burn.  Seems likely he will tarnish the Republican brand for many moderates and if he runs as an independent he may well torpedo the Republican contender's chances, but no way is he going to win.

The evil man trying to win with empty promises of fiscal skill and demonization of oppressed minorities is going to lose in the US... but he might win in Canada.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Oh Monsanto

I have seen a lot of yelling about GMO food lately and the whole subject clearly illustrates how willing people are to make false and misleading associations in pursuit of illusory simplicity.  Case in point:  Monsanto and GMOs.  Monsanto and their ilk are a big problem.  A lot of their tactics are disgusting and/or evil.  They use their legal power to exact unreasonable control over farmers and crops.  They display a shocking lack of concern for people's health and environmental standards.  They are a poster child for corporate malfeasance, for good reason.

But people have this problem where they associate Monsanto with all GMO products and that is a big issue.

This has been big news lately because the US Congress passed a law that would prevent individual states from having laws that require GMO labelling.  I have no doubt that Monsanto wants this, no doubt that they intend to profit from it, and no doubt that they have legally and illegally tried to influence this legislation.  But that doesn't mean that GMOs are bad, or that the law is bad, it just means that Monsanto wants a particular outcome and they will get it in ways that are bad.

GMOs aren't bad as a group.  There certainly are some that aren't good - after all, there are thousands upon thousands of them so inevitably some aren't good for us.  But non GMOs aren't bad as a group in *exactly* the same way.  Eating rhubarb leaves is totally going to make you sick or die, even when they aren't GMOs.  GMO Golden Rice is a fantastic idea that could save huge numbers of lives.  Fact is, the health benefits or lack thereof in a food have essentially nothing to do with whether or not that food is GMO or not.

This is why I don't think mandatory GMO labels are at all a good idea.  Note the mandatory in that sentence - it is the important part.  If people want to label their food 'GMO Free' then I haven't got a problem with that, though I think it is misleading and worthless at best.  Not appreciably different from 'New and Improved' or 'Better than the next leading brand'.  However, forcing people to label ingredients in food implies that the government has a public health interest in doing so, and in the case of GMOs that is completely false.  It tells people that GMOs are dangerous enough that the government feels is *must* regulate them, which has no scientific basis.

GMOs aren't the problem.  Specific crops, GMO or not, are the problem.  Associating Monsanto with GMOs is a rhetorical tactic that tries to turn people's reasonable concerns about big business's corrupting effect on food and politics into a reason to hate all GMOs.  They aren't the same thing, they shouldn't be lumped together, and a strike against one is not a strike against both.

There are plenty of issues with agriculture these days.  Massive monocultures are a problem.  Excessive use of pesticides is a problem. (Which can be mitigated by GMO crops!)  Corporate control over huge swaths of genetic varieties is a problem.  Unfounded panic over all GMO crops is not going to help any of these issues.

The flip side of the coin is the conflation of 'natural' with 'healthy'.  It is a similar sort of tactic, but has the same issues.  Natural things are not especially healthier than man made things.  Rocks are very natural.  So is poison ivy.  Same with porcupine quills.  I don't recommend eating any of them.  GMO Golden Rice, high calcium carrots, and pest resistant corn are great, and I recommend eating them.  The word natural is just a smoke screen, a meaningless waste of space that evokes feelings of quiet country lanes and small gardens without making any falsifiable claims.

If you don't want to eat GMO food, go ahead.  I don't want to eat cheese, and that is equally arbitrary.  However, the government has no business forcing everyone to use GMO warning labels because there is no public health reason to do so, in the same way that cheese does not need a warning label because there is no public health reason to do so.  Feel free to put a big "CHEESE" label on your cheese, or a non GMO label on your non GMO food.  Have a blast!  But before we expect the government to step in and enforce labelling we should have actual reasons for that, and at this point we absolutely do not have those.  The government is not responsible for making the food industry cater to people's irrational fears.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Simply Bad

Everyone wants a simpler tax code.  Obviously there are a few accountants who are pretty happy for the extra work that labyrinthine tax rules create for them, but to hell with those people.  Everyone else, especially everyone running for public office, really wants a simpler tax code.

It is just that actually delivering one is such a problem.  Every exemption, no matter how insignificant, has a small group that desperately wants it and those people will campaign ruthlessly for its preservation.  It is nearly impossible to imagine support from multiple parties for a real improvement in this regard because no matter what the government proposes to do away with they are taking money from some group that is sympathetic.  Maybe they are robbing the elderly, or perhaps it is parents, the poor, family farms, small business owners, etc. etc.  No opposition party is going to miss the chance to portray the government as a bunch of heartless bastards trying to pry money from those who so desperately need it.

One thing that really worries me about tax reform is that the people who seem inclined to pursue it are so often trying desperately to find a simple system that crushes the poor.  I am consistently blown away by what Republican presidential hopefuls put forward as part of their tax simplification schemes, mostly because they so blatantly aim to improve life for the highest paid people.  They use words like 'flat tax' and 'fair tax' and 'equal tax' to suggest that somehow their plans are better than the current skewed system, but they usually fail to mention that, to them, fair means that the rich really need more money.  Especially the super rich... because they have it pretty hard, as I understand it.

Simple does not have to mean 'screw the poor'.

Canada is less interesting in this regard because there is not so much support for massive tax reform, nor so much of a push for 'fair taxes'.  None of the major parties here are seriously pushing to overhaul the tax system as far as I know, as they all seem comfortable suggesting tiny changes here and there without really tackling the complexity issue in any significant way.  Parties promise individual changes to appeal to specific demographics but we don't have crazy schemes to debate like the Americans do from their contenders for president.

If people want a simple system, and everyone does (those few jerkface accountants notwithstanding) then it is an easy thing to create one that doesn't transfer money up the social ladder.  A $15,000 universal income and a 60% income tax on all earnings of any type gets rid of the need for most personal exemptions and removes the necessity for much of the current social safety net.  Meanwhile, it fixes a lot of the cracks in that system that currently are such a problem.  You can also get rid of sales tax too, which removes a bunch of overhead from businesses and irritations for customers, but of course you would have to make up the revenue in higher income taxes.  There you go politicians - a super simple tax system that doesn't aim to kick the poor when they are down.

Now go implement it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Being Critical of Criticism

I found a very amusing page today called ThePoke that criticizes the front page of the Daily Mail.  I will admit that the Daily Mail is usually pretty terrible even for an internet news site but after viewing the page that was so critical of them I could hardly decide between giggles and tears.  Here is the picture satirizing the Daily Mail:

So, the Daily Mail is being criticized for using randomly sexualized content to grab attention, making up ridiculous things to try to excite readers, and fabricating news.  Sure, that sounds like them.


When I looked at the sidebar for the site hosting this satire, it had six ads on the sidebar.  Two feature fat shirtless men as part of ads for a scam to lose weight with pills.  Two feature attractive, ripped shirtless men advertising other pills as a scam to gain muscle and for 'work at home make huge money' scams.  The fifth picture was shockingly not sexualized but was for more scammy lose weight pills, and the sixth picture was an ad for an auction website... also a scam.

The thing I really want to know is if the people who run ThePoke actually think they are somehow bringing the truth and don't see any contradiction between their criticisms and the ads they choose to run or if they are just evil and know it.

How do you criticize a news source for ridiculous and self serving schlock when you are advertising with fake news stories that sell worthless sugar pills?  How do you spend time moralizing about out of place sexualization on front pages while using ripped shirtless men to push several different kinds of scams on *your* front page?

At least their criticism of paparazzi isn't obviously hypocritical, so that is something.

Even the people trying to do a takedown of a piss poor news source are just trying to get you to give your money to disgusting scams.  I give you ... the internet.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A hero

Donald Trump is wasting no time making more controversial statements.  This time he is in a battle with Senator John McCain surrounding the term 'war hero'.  Many think that McCain is a war hero, and there is no doubt of his credentials - he was shot down over Vietnam and spent five years as a POW and suffered injuries that have affected him his whole life.  Trump has said that he doesn't believe McCain is a hero, on the basis that McCain got captured and that shouldn't be grounds for being lauded as a hero.  "I like people that weren't captured." says Trump.

Trump is a buffoon but the raging debate that this has created brings up an interesting point.  What are the grounds for being a hero anyway?  There is a lot of sentiment in the GOP that anyone who serves in the military is a hero, or perhaps that anyone who actively serves in a combat role is a hero.  This is a huge problem for Trump who is a big military booster and you don't get the votes of soldiers and the people close to them by telling them they are losing their hero status!  However much that may be the Republican norm though, I definitely don't get behind the idea that we should venerate anyone who fights, as it depends very much on who they fought and why.  Glorifying all parts of the military machine is not a standard I can get behind because war should be seen as a grim necessity, not a factory for producing heroes.

It is possible to be heroic when in a war, but being in a war does not make a person a hero.

So a hero isn't just someone who fights.  Someone who fights for the right goals and reasons?  Maybe.  Or is it to do with the suffering they endure?  A member of the Navy who steers a ship near to a war zone and then steers it home again seems more like a normal worker than a hero, especially compared to someone who actually has to hear bullets zipping past their head, deal with injuries, watching comrades die in front of them, and potentially cope with capture and torture as McCain did.

The first thing Google gives me when I type in 'hero' is this:  "A person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities."

You can't really make the claim that being captured or injured is a noble quality or an achievement.  However, there is no question that McCain in particular showed tremendous courage during his incarceration, so by that standard the term war hero seems appropriate.

Whether or not Trump and McCain agree on McCain's claim to the war hero title is itself immaterial.  The deeper concern, and the one which the people covering the story will almost universally ignore, is why we are so eager as a society to laud people for being part of war without any concern as to the actions they took during that war.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Mixed up

For the past while Nathan Nun, an artist friend of mine, has been building art for my card game Camp Nightmare.  He has a big chunk of it done now and it is time for us to figure out what we are going to do with it.  It has me feeling a bit nervous and unsure, which isn't something I feel at all when designing a game.  It only comes out when I am looking at publishing and selling it.  I don't fret about people seeing the game and criticizing it, but I find the idea of staking a huge amount of money and time on other people's desire to pay for it somewhat stressful.

An entrepreneur, I am not.

 The weird thing is, I can't exactly pinpoint the source of my vague sense of being ill at ease.  The simplest explanation is that I fear failure, but I don't think that is exactly it.  I have never been happy setting my fortunes on the approval of others and letting my sense of self worth be derived from someone else's standards.  It is a Stoic thing - one should let one's own happiness only be dependent on one's own effort and standards.  Why would you allow another person to decide if you get to feel successful or happy when you don't have to?

This sort of feeling was what made university so hard for me.  I often enjoyed the learning and I wanted to know many things but I found it incomprehensible that I would do so much just in pursuit of marks, only to prove to a person that I knew what I know.  I don't care if some random prof signs off on my brains and talent - I know my own worth just fine!  Not caring about marks, indeed even finding the whole idea completely irrational and ridiculous, makes working hard enough to succeed in university a challenge.

It is similar here.  I will end up pouring an enormous amount of myself into a project, hoping to please other people.  There are no end of trash games that make money (Monopoly says hi) and just the same there is an endless list of great games that sold almost nothing.  Luck plays a huge role in it, and the whims of random individuals in the process.  I don't want to stake everything on that!  I would be comfortable betting money on me winning a bunch of games because I know long run my talent will win out, but trying to produce a single project like this is a huge gamble the results of which are far outside me.

On the other hand maybe it is just the fact that I am doing something far outside my experience that is making this seem daunting and I am just using this Stoic construction as a way to dismiss the entire process as a way of avoiding facing it head on.

So it seems to me that either I am just running away from my destiny, from pursuing the thing I obviously should do, with pointless philosophical prattle.... or I am raising honest and real objections to the necessity of getting a lot of people to give me money to validate my artistic creation.  Can't really say which, at this point.

But it does seem like I won't ever *know* unless I go after it and find out.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Big decisions

Naked Man sent me a query a little while ago about the idea of parents being particularly good or bad at making decisions for the future of communities or humankind in general.  That is, does having children grant a person a particular stake in the future that causes them to make better long term decisions?  On the other hand, does the myopic focus on one's own children at the expense of everybody else make a parent especially unsuited to making decisions affecting everyone?

I tend to think that both extremes are foolish and the correct answer is that we can't draw much useful information from knowing that a person has children when it comes to deciding how society will unfold.

I have an eight year old kid and although I am a very different sort of person now then I was back before I had a kid I can't say that doing so made me a better governor.  I now know how I react when pushed to my emotional breaking point, what it is like to deal with extreme sleep deprivation, and how greater conflict with my spouse feels.  I have felt protective towards Elli, but I certainly haven't felt the extremes of irrational overprotectiveness that parents are so often portrayed as feeling.  People seem to take that sense of desperate worry as a sign of good parenting and see valuing my own offspring above all other things as a virtue.  I don't see it that way, and certainly haven't had my feelings go that way.  Elli is important to me but not in the way most people's kids seem to be important to them.

All the time I spent taking care of Elli could have been spent learning other lessons.  I could have taken courses on history, learned about social work, volunteered, or read more about politics in that time I invested in her.  I am pretty sure those sorts of things would have given me a better understanding about how to make policy then playing peekaboo ever would.  

Being a bit nuts about your kids is, it seems, the default state for parents.  I have seen plenty of people stand around agreeing that helicopter parenting is a problem and wish for the good ole days where kids could just play... and then admit that their kid has nearly every hour from dawn to dusk booked solid with activities, weekdays and weekends alike.  They know that the activity treadmill isn't good for kids, they don't like it, and yet they can't get away from feeling like their particular kid needs ALL THE THINGS or they will somehow fall behind.  They want the absolute best for their children no matter how much it makes things worse.

But I don't think that this tendency really matters much when making policy.  People tend to want things that will protect their interests and the interests of people like them regardless of whether or not they have children.  In any case most parents I know are desperately focused on getting past the next day or week, just trying to keep their heads above water.  They aren't going to be overprotective of the future because they can barely figure out how to have time to look at the future at all.  Maybe they start sacrificing the present to deal with the future after the kids move out and things quiet down, but generally I don't think you can count on parents to spend their time figuring out what will be the best for everyone twenty or fifty years from now.

Basically decisions should be made by those who are best informed and who recognize both that preparing for the future is important and that because we know so little about how the future will look we can't place too much faith in our models.  A model of the future from 1990 would essentially ignore the internet of today and that makes the model pretty much useless.  We should think about the consequences of our actions while acknowledging that our certainty drops off drastically once we go more than a few years out.

Whether or not you have squeezed out a couple of rugrats in your past has little to do with your ability to do these things.  Have children or don't, but the idea of placing people who chose differently as being unfit to make policy decisions is hubris and nothing else.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Go Canada!

I am liking my vote in Canada a lot more than a theoretical vote I might have in the US these days.  Mulcair and the NDP are actually in the lead right now and are favourites to win the next election, though not by much, and that makes me very happy.  For awhile I was leaning Liberal at least in part due to their stance on legalization of marijuana and the general ending of the war on drugs but that ended quickly.  The Liberals with Trudeau as their leader have taken a beating over supporting bill C-51, and rightly so.  We should not be surrendering our freedoms for security, especially when such security is there to protect us from fictitious threats.  Now that I realize that the NDP are also in favour of ending the ruinous and morally bankrupt notion of imprisoning drug users I can support them without reservation.

It is so nice to want to vote for someone who has a good chance to win instead of agonizing over strategic voting choices!

On the other hand there is Donald Trump.  Who apparently believes that Mexico ships all of its criminals and rapists into the US, and when called on such overt and disgusting racism decided to double down and defend his position.  Obviously his stances on the issues of immigration and border policy are reprehensible but they aren't even financially sound.  Immigrants, including illegal and undocumented immigrants, are a *boost* to the US economy, and indeed to other developed nations economies.  Those immigrants generally work extremely hard at rough, low paying jobs and don't end up consuming social services resources nearly as much as legal residents do.

I don't like it when people insist on being assholes to improve their own finances, but at least I can wrap my head around it.  Being an asshole in a way that costs you a ton of money is completely inexplicable to me.  Seriously, this guy is leading polls in some places on a platform of fiscal wizardry when he has been bankrupt multiple times and doesn't understand that immigration is a financial boon.

My mind, it is boggled.

Though I do hope Trump beats out the other Republicans somehow.  The guy can't possibly win a general election against any reasonable Democrat (hopefully Bernie Sanders!) and though the Democrats are *way* too right wing for me there isn't anyone else credible.  I am sure all the politically oriented comedians are with me on this one because Trump would provide them with a year's worth of fodder for no effort at all.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Being better

Dan Savage's column this week featured a letter writer who had been against gay rights in the past, but for the past fifteen years has been a supporter.  He found himself in difficulty when new friends found out about his previous attitudes.

This is a tricky topic.  We want to encourage people to change their minds and become more supportive of social justice causes, but what is the best way to do that?  How should we approach the topic of people who come around on something - that is, what do you say about someone's checkered past?

I am certainly not blameless in this.  For example, when I was young I never thought that being gay was wrong or destructive or anything of the sort but I didn't really get why activism was necessary and failed to grasp how I could stop being part of the problem.  I hadn't ever met a gay person to the best of my knowledge (almost certainly I had met some but didn't know it) so it seemed like a very far away thing.  In my late teens I would definitely have voted for marriage equality but I didn't understand the necessity of it all - as long as same sex couples had all the rights, who cares if they get the actual title of marriage?  I thought that having civil unions with full rights wasn't necessarily right but I didn't get why that separation was so important.

Part of that was just my general disdain for titles but part of it was simply not understanding how reserving rights for specific groups perpetuates oppression and stigma.  I talked to a lot of people, read a lot of things, began to understand why such distinctions are a problem, and now I won't put up with people who thoughts as I once did.  I will happily spend time trying to make them understand and won't write them off right away... but if someone really does hold to their homophobia then they don't get to be my friend.

My record on trans issues is similar in that I was never a hater but I really didn't get it and a lot of my speech and small actions were definitely not trans friendly.  I have educated myself and gotten better but there is still more improvement to be made.

Given these things I can't be too harsh on people whose attitudes haven't shifted to align with mine yet so long as they aren't being terribly destructive in the meantime.  A person who thinks that a marginalized group ought to be treated fairly and well but who doesn't understand why particular legislation is necessary or can't figure out why their normal figures of speech are a problem is someone I can work with.  That was me a couple decades ago!

I can't deal with the real hatred though.  People that feel that being gay is a sin, or those that spend their time trying to crush trans people by making up ridiculous arguments about sexual assault in bathrooms enrage me and it would take some kind of Herculean effort to erase such atrocities from the ledger.  

I suppose that I always felt like such a freak, such an outsider, that it never made sense to me to persecute others who didn't fit.  The in groups that might perpetuate such things wouldn't accept me so why should I side with them against others?  To be honest until I got to university I never felt like I had found a group that did accept me and I mostly just wanted to keep my head down and be ignored.  Not everyone who feels like that responds the way I did - there are plenty of people who are persecuted who desperately punch down any chance they get - but that was certainly a part of the way I was shaped.

Who knows which of my attitudes these days will be considered regressive and cruel a few decades from now?  I have heard speculation that my meat eating tendencies will be thought unacceptable within my lifetime but I don't buy it.  Really all I know is that there is much more to learn and I will certainly have more changes to make to the way I think and the way I speak.  I wouldn't have it any other way - complacency is a sad state.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Two Minds, one Lumberjack

Back when I was about 12 or so I occasionally went out to a particular little batch of trees near my parents place to smash stuff.  For some reason a grove of trees near the road grew between 3-5 meters tall and then died, producing a forest of 3 cm thick trees that were dry, brittle, and easily smashed.  I was strong enough to tear them out of the ground and swing them around like gigantic baseball bats, using them to smash other dead trees to smithereens.  Eventually my bat would be broken into bits and I would have to find another.

The memories I have of doing this are fascinating.  I remember swinging my weapon into a dead tree and having the tree shatter into many pieces with the force of the blow.  Bits of dead tree ranging from twigs to big chunks a meter long would fall from the sky, landing on my head, shoulders, and arms.  I never suffered any damage from this as the pieces falling from up high were tiny, so although I certainly noticed the impacts it wasn't dangerous.

The most powerful part of the memory though is the trance like state I was in.  I cut loose, allowing myself to revel in destruction and exertion, sinking into a frenzy where nothing of my usual self existed, where the only things in my world were fury and adrenalin.  After twenty minutes or so I would come out of it, stop breaking things, and begin to feel the strain in my arms from my labours and the soreness from where I had smashed into trees or where they had smashed into me.

At the time I had no idea why I did this.  I had no explanation for what came over me.  Now I do.

These episodes were the earliest memories I can currently recall of an obvious division in my personalities.  In these circumstances Passion was fully in charge, truly released to whatever he wanted, and he absolutely loves uninhibited physical exertion.  Director couldn't have fully given up control if there was any danger to anyone else or even if I was doing something wasteful or wrong to plants or animals but no one was going to be hurt and the only victims were trees that were already dead anyway.  Because that was true and there was no risk, no worry, Director could fade very far away and let Passion roar and rage.

Thing is, I remember what a relief it was to have done this.  I recall with certainty how much calmer it made me and how enjoyable it was to bask in the afterglow.  It wasn't a sexual thing at all, but the feeling afterwards was definitely comparable to the feeling after sex that I would experience many years later.  Smashing trees like that didn't get me riled up and angry afterwards, didn't make me worse off, but rather it allowed me to calm the beast, to give Passion free rein to get what he needed.  Doing that let him be quiet, settle down, and gave me a deep sense of cool satisfaction.

This gives me a better sense of why I am such a sexual creature now and why sex is so important to me.  When Passion has his chance to be fully in control and go berserk it grants me as a whole a sense of completeness and joy that I simply cannot replicate otherwise.  Sex clearly isn't the only way to achieve this but it is definitely the easiest way.  Also probably one of the healthiest since while the risk of falling trees actually hurting me was pretty small it was still there.  Sex, on the other hand, is a net positive to overall health with the cardio benefits outweighing any risk of injury.

I wonder a lot about how this division in my brain occurred.  Why do I have a beast inside me with a conscientious bureaucrat minding him?  Did Director evolve to keep Passion in check, to let me fit in with the world and not break myself against its rules?  Or did Passion come to being because Director was deeply unhappy and needed to go away and have someone indulge my more base desires?  Have I always been this way?

What is clear is that I need both bits.  Director, left to himself, would sink into depression.  He would spend all his time worrying about the future, counting pennies and preparing for disaster, and never properly enjoy the present.

Passion by himself would go paintballing every day and try to spend the remaining hours of the day in frenetic sexual liaisons.  I would go broke and cause everyone in my life to shun me... maybe not in that order.

Each of my halves needs the other desperately.  They function well as a team, and absolutely require teamwork for my life to work at all.  I guess one answer as to why I am this way is simply "Because I have to be."

Friday, July 3, 2015

A rainbow

Same sex marriage is now legal in the US, so says the Supreme Court of the United States.  Hooray!  We should be happy this happened, especially because the US has such a huge cultural influence across the world and this may lead to the same decision in other nations.  It is important to keep in mind though that this isn't the end of the gay rights movement, just another milestone along the road.  There are still plenty of things that need fixing and improving but we can be happy at least for one less thing to worry about.

I have seen a lot of people arguing that this decision was the wrong one.  There are two basic tacks they take:  First, that same sex marriage is wrong, against God's will, counter to our biological imperative, or other nonsense.  These people are just foolish, cruel assholes and I have little else to add.

The second argument is that this change should not have come about from the Supreme Court, but rather through the slow and piecemeal process of individual states legalizing same sex marriage.  That was obviously happening and the inevitable tide of progress was sweeping over the US just as it is the rest of the world but the final holdouts would have lasted quite some time I think.  This argument involves a bunch of legal issues and suggests that the decision was made badly because it incorporated the idea of dignity, trampled on states rights, or wasn't explicitly supported by the constitution.  This set of arguments isn't as obviously bullshit but it is bullshit nonetheless.

The Supreme Court isn't a collection of nine judges that impartially and expertly interpret the law.  It is mostly a collection of hardcore partisans who vote their party line no matter what and come up with reasons to justify their positions.  Is anyone really surprised that the liberal judges voted for legalization and the conservative ones voted against?  Are we pretending that this happens every time because they just *happen* to impartially interpret the law that way?  Nonsense.  When it comes to any politically charged issue like this everything unfolds along ideological lines every time.

We know that marriage equality is coming.  It is a gigantic rainbow coloured steamroller that is crushing the world and no one will escape for long.  The only thing that matters in this case is how soon we can get it done and since the Supreme Court is getting it done faster than individual states then that is how it should get done.  The next issue to come before the court isn't going to be ruined because of a new definition of dignity because the court will just do what they always do and vote the party line with one or two judges in the middle waffling a bit.

No more hiding behind fatuous 'but the purity of the law!' arguments.  The law isn't pure, and if you oppose this ruling on that basis you are placing your personal delusions about law over the plight of a marginalized minority.  This will get you no respect from me.

I will say that there are those that oppose marriage for anyone regardless of gender combinations on the grounds that it is discriminatory to single people.  Some of those arguments have merit.  However, that isn't going to change any time soon so we need to make the best of it with what we have and that involves making sure it is available to both straight and queer people.