Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Ha! Okay, what I just said there was totally ridiculous. Honestly, I don't really have a whole lot of people debating me on my blog, although it's been known to happen. While I suppose it is my prerogative to stop posting comments, I would never dream of doing it. After all, I stand by what I write, and I welcome disagreements. Shoot, I've even been known to ammend my opinion on things (like circumcision - I was pretty deadfast against it, but I developed a more nuanced opinion about it after getting into a debate about it), which I personally see as a good thing.
What prompted my little joke at the start of this entry was something that has come up lately, and frankly has always bothered me. I can't stand it when somebody brings something up and then tells you that they don't want to talk about it. I suppose that most people would find this to be only a minor annoyance, but to me it's aggravating as hell. In fact, I once had a family member bring up a subject a few years ago on which I had a strong opinion (and I also had, like, facts, to support it) and then proceed to tell me not to say anything about it. For me, that's maddening. I mean, if you don't want me to bring something up, I suppose that I can handle that (with some resistence) but if you don't want to hear what I have to say on a given issue, then don't start talking about the subject!
This came up a little bit more recently with a family member (in-law of an in-law) on Facebook, where he would post all sorts of ultra-right wing buffoonery and then I would respond to it. Then, he'd get all bent out of shape, citing his right to believe what he wants. The thing that I couldn't seem to drill in his head was that he was posting to a public forum, and in a public forum he does indeed have the right to express himself, but then I have the right to express myself right back at him. Ultimately, he tried to have some sort of a truce where neither one of us would be allowed to comment on one another's postings. To hell with that!
The thing is, I don't care if somebody wants to try and contradict what I have to say. The worst thing that will happen is that I'll change my mind, which could very well be a good thing! So, I told him that my only precondition was that we were to have no preconditions. He didn't go for it and proceeded to drop me from his friends list. Oh darn. In all honesty, I'm neither upset nor happy. I simply don't care.
Now, I hate to generalize here, but this is something that I tend to notice more and more from people who are supposed "conservatives". A friend of mine told me last night of a friend of hers who actually stated that she wanted to be able to just say her piece on a given topic and then not have it turn into a debate. In other words, "I can say whatever I want, but you don't get to say squat." I have certain in-laws (no, not my mother and father in-laws - they're not like that at all) who will do the same thing - bring up a subject but then end it when people say things that they don't like. Lastly, I can't help but recall the Rappin' Jesus guy at the Prop 8 protest, where his friends actively told him to not try and debate with me.
I suppose that there might be more liberally-minded people who are the same way and the only reason that I don't notice it from them is because I already tend to agree, so this issue never comes up. Hey, if there are any of you conservatives out there who do indeed like to debate, and you have an anecdote about a liberal who behaves this way, please post it in the comments section.
To me, it shows a weak mind, and an insecurity in one's point of view to not be able to handle other people commenting on what you have to say. Don't get me wrong. I realize that sometimes when an argument just keeps going on and on in circles, eventually somebody has to say, "You know what? Maybe we just need to drop this because it's not going anywhere." And I'll be the first to admit that I'm usually the last person to do that. This, however, is not what I'm talking about.
Remember, you have the freedom to speak bullshit, and I have the freedom to call it bullshit.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
How sad for them.
Let's forget about the notion that just because you can't understand how something can not be true, that doesn't make it true. I mean, "There must be something more!" is hardly an argument. After all, there HAS to be a good movie with the Fantastic Four - one of the greatest superhero concepts ever. But guess what? After watching about fifteen minutes of Rise of the Silver Surfer, I realized that there simply wasn't one.
Anyway, my point is this - why does there have to be something more? Ever see the Grand Canyon? 35 million years of erosion to create a sight like that. How about the Great Pyramids - a testament to the ingenuity of the human race. I was lucky enough to see both of them - and the memory of both will never leave me.
Okay, so what if you don't have any world-famous natural or man-made wonders near you?
Well, I'm about to go on a walk with my dog, Argos. I went out yesterday, and it looks like today is going to be as nice of a day as yesterday was. It's sunny, not too warm, and everything is green. My dog walks along my side, repeating a tradition that goes back thousands of years - perhaps a distant Gothic ancestor of mine had one of his ancestors as a cattle dog. And if you go back far enough - far, far, farrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr back, my ancestor is his ancestor. Yeah, that's the kind of stuff that goes through my mind when I'm walking him. Of course, I shouldn't forget to mention the wonders of modern technology, where a tiny device can bring the music of Metallica, John Coltrane or Beethoven along with me. (Yes, I actually have all of them on my MP3 player - I'm just so darned eclectic that I bet you're totally jealous.)
Of course, there's more. I'd be a fool if I didn't mention my wife, who reminds me that there must be something good about me if somebody as selfless and caring as her loves me. My cat's also good at keeping me company when I watch a movie like The Shawshank Redemption that reminds me that no matter how lousy life can get, there's always a way out of the misery. Of course, I'll try to overlook the fact that his saber-toothed ancestors no doubt used to eat my pre-historic hominid ancestors.
This life is pretty amazing, when you think about it. Perhaps there's something more after it, but I'm not going to be disappointed if there isn't.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Anyway, obviously the title of his book would upset some people. Nobody wants to be told that what they believe is a delusion. After all, the implication is that there's something wrong with you if you have a delusion. And people will insist that they KNOW that they're not delusional.
I always wonder about that. How do you know that you're not delusional? I mean, isn't the definition of a delusion something that isn't real but seems as though it is? I don't know why it's such a bad thing to at least consider that you might be suffering from delusions. I admit that I might be. I mean, I don't think that I am - but how would I know if I was?
So anyway, this fella tries to get Dawkins to respond to what, to him, proves the existence of God. Of course, the guy is talking about Da Jeebus, and not Vishnu, Odin, Zeus, or Huitzilopochtli. He insists that he's "walked with God" and "assures" Dawkins that it's been "no delusion". Here, check it out:
Dawkins gives a pretty good answer, I think. After all, if this is what we're to accept as our standard of proof, then we not only have to believe in every god that has ever existed (except Heimdall - c'mon, screw that guy and his horn) but we have to believe every account of alien abductions, ghost visitations, fairy encounters, etcetera. People talk about these things with the exact same conviction as this guy talks about Jesus. They KNOW that what they experienced was real. There is not a doubt in their mind that they're not hallucinating. (Personally, anybody who never doubts themselves scares me. Since when is absolute certainty a virtue?)
There were a couple of things that I found interesting about this. First of all, the guy said that Dawkins didn't address his point. Dawkins did in fact address it. The problem is, the guy didn't get it. His world view is so small, and he starts with the assumption that he's right. After all, he's not talking about all those fake gods - he's talking about the real one! I'm sure that some people would accuse Dawkins of doing the same thing, but his response is one of logic and reason. He's obviously been asked this question before, and his response is correct. Had the guy been born in another place and another time, he would have the same certainty about a completely different god. However, that's an idea that this guy can't even stop to consider. After all, so much of his world view rests on absolute certainty. To even consider what Dawkins said would potentially pull out the bottom of his house of cards.
The second thing that I found interesting is that if you search for it on YouTube, the person who posted it described the way Dawkins answered the question as being "cruel". Why is he being cruel? What is he supposed to say to the guy? "Oh yes, everybody is hallucinating but you." Of course, nobody wants to be told that they're hallucinating - but what if you ARE hallucinating? Should people not tell you so because it's rude?
Now, I don't think that people should go around on the street, walk up to theists and say, "Hey, you're hallucinating." That would be counter-productive. However, this guy came to a presentation that Dawkins was doing. The topic, no doubt, was known beforehand. The guy asked a question. It's a shame that he probably didn't like the answer, and many Christians watching won't like to watch it either.
That, to me, seems to be the ultimate difference between the theist and atheist. The theist uses personal feelings and experiences to determine reality. The atheist knows that what you feel doesn't matter - at least, it doesn't matter when it comes to determining what reality. As an atheist, I don't even necessarily scoff at the notion of somebody feeling God's presence. Perhaps that makes me a bit of a existentialist (assuming that I understand the concept - which I may very well may not be) but if somebody feels God's presence in their life, then that is a very real and valuable thing. No, it doesn't make God real - but the experience is real. That's why I wouldn't put somebody down for having an experience. It's just when they use that as a reason for me to believe - or as a logical argument as to why anybody should believe.
I suppose that it's hard to have an experience and just leave it at that. Personally, I think that I can do it. As I once wrote before, when I was a little kid in the hospital, my mom told me that Jesus was there for me, looking out over me. I truly felt his presence there with me. Now that I look back at it, I know that there wasn't really any god/spirit/zombie carpenter in there with me. And like Dawkins points out, had I been raised in India, I might have felt that Ganesha was there watching out for me. But it doesn't matter. The experience was real, and it made me feel better. Is that the only sort of a thing that can make one feel better? Of course not.
So, I was delusional - and what's wrong with that?
Friday, December 26, 2008
So, I wound up with $130 in gift cards for MoreBeer, the homebrew shop that I go to in Concord. I'm not planning on buying anything big, as I already forked over a pretty big investment earlier this month. I'm just going to use that money for my usual expenses there. (What beer will I make next? I'm debating between an American Wheat and an American Ale.)
My sister-in-law was my Secret Santa, and she's pretty good at scoping out the gifts for me. (I should point out that she bought me my first book on homebrewing, which led me into the hobby. My wife and I frequently joke that it's all her fault!) She got me $50 in gift cards and a couple of nice beer glasses. One's a tall mug for my 22 oz. beers; the other is a tall Hefeweizen glass:
She also got me a cool book by Michael Jackson (the recently departed beer expert, not the singer/dancer/child molester). Although I already have one of his books, this one covers a lot of different ground than the one that I already have.
What's cool, and stirs my feelings of patriotism, is that the country that he seems to be the most enthusiastic about is the U.S.A. Of course, there are writeups about the beers of Germany, Belgium, and England that makes you want to hop on a plane A.S.A.P., but the U.S. definitely gets its due. Of course, some mention has to be made that our most popular beers are pretty blah. Here's a quick excerpt:
"Today, neither European brewers nor most drinkers on either side of the Atlantic have yet grasped that tomorrow's most exciting styles of beers will be American in conception. At first glance, this seems unlikely. The great Czech brewing cities of Plzen and Budweis may wonder just how thinly their names can be stretched in the U.S. When will the "line extensions" reach breaking point? LightBeer; Dry Beer; Ice Beer; Clear Beer; Low-carb Beer. Each of these contrivances is an apology that says: 'Our beer is too heavy, too sweet, too dark...'"
I agree with this viewpoint. In my experience, I've gotten a lot of friends and family members to try some beers that are a little more adventurous than the standard Bud. Of course, there are some who will always prefer their beer to be as un-beerish as possible, but I've had more than a few reactions of pleasant surprise. I think that there are a lot of people out there who would really like craft beer if only they were exposed to it. As the guy who writes the beer column in my local paper likes to point out - think of you store's bread aisle. Do you even picture Wonder Bread being a major part of it anymore? Probably not. Generally speaking, Americans are demanding fuller flavors and more exciting tastes. Beer might be lagging behind, but it's definitely starting to get into the race.
Shoot, if Concord has a good brewpub that serves not just solid local brews, but a nice variety of Belgian imports, you know we've gotta be heading in the right direction.
So, go U.S.A! And thanks, Bre, for the book!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I've been out of town. A cruise to Cabo, to be more specific. This was actually my second cruise this year. Kirsti won one playing Bingo on the last one, so here we were again on another Carnival Cruise Line.
I definitely had a good time, but I feel quite satiated when it comes to the whole cruising experience. To me, the best part of this one was when we got off the boat and went to Cabo - just as the best part of the last one was when we went to Catalina Island and Ensenada. Probably my biggest complaint was that we didn't have a lot of time to spend there, as we only got to do one thing and then walk around a bit until it was time to get back on the ship. (A few people didn't make it back to the ship! From what I heard, it was a couple of boys - ages unknown - and their father had to go back out to Cabo while the cruise ship left without all of them! Sucks to be them!)
Of course, even if everything else was a complete disaster, I wouldn't have traded anything for the best experience I've had in a long time - the Dolphin Swim in Cabo. Yup, that's me up there, feeding a sardine to a dolphin. (The pose was the trainer's idea.) The whole experience lasts only about a half hour, and you're with about seven or eight other people. Still, in that time you get to touch the dolphin, feed him, have him take you for a ride, and "dance" with him. When we saw the brochure for this activity, there was simply no way that I wasn't going to do it. Unfortunately, Kirsti didn't bring her swimsuit, so she could only watch. (Don't feel too bad for her though; she's going on yet another cruise - eight days - and there are dolphin-related activities where she'll be going.)
So, that was awesome, and walking around Cabo was fun. I even went to Cabo Wabo for the sole reason that Sammy Hagar owns it. Luckily, they serve some damn good food there, as the burrito that I had was really something else. It had an awesome sauce on it and the chicken was so tender that I probably could have eaten it plain and unseasoned and still enjoyed it. We also stopped off at another restaurant where I probably had the best margarita of my life.
As for the boat itself, I feel like I got my fill of all that when I went on the first cruise. Honestly, I get a bit of cabin fever, and since I'm not into gambling or socializing with strangers, there isn't much for me to do other than the occasional trivia game and food buffet. I spent a lot of our cruise day reading, which isn't really so bad of a thing. It was relaxing, and all the distractions of home were far behind me. Of course, I should also point out that I got to spend some quality time with wifey, and that can never be bad.
Ultimately though, I think that cruising is definitely something that's more for people with extroverted personalities. I was able to muster up a little bit of small talk with the people who sat at our table, but I'm not the kind of person who wants to go around meeting a lot of people.
Oh, and I should probably embarass myself enough to say that I had a very "me" moment, as I doubt that any other person on Earth could relate to this - but everybody who knows me won't find it too surprising. One night in the dining room after desert had been served, a fella got on the microphone and said that it was "showtime." I remember the last cruise where all the waiters had to put on a little dance routine for everybody, and then they'd get people to come up and dance with them.
Personally, I absolutely hate this sort of a thing. I don't mind dancing, but dammit, if I'm going to do it, then it has to be my decision. (Believe it or not, I'm not a good dancer, but when I'm in the mood I don't let that stop me.) I managed to luck out, but you'd see them go up to people who'd say no at first, and then they'd take them by the hand and convince them to get up anyway. People have tried this tactic with me, and it doesn't work. I don't know what it is, but it starts to become a matter of pride with me. If I say no to something, then that's what I meant. I never mean, "No, but you just might convince me if you keep trying." Is that cutting off my nose to spite my face? Perhaps, but that's my gut-reaction.
So, I immediately started to get nervous when they announced this. I didn't even want to be in the position where I'd have to say no in the first place. (Anybody who's ever read my Eagle-Man stories - you know how he's always anticipating things that MIGHT happen and then starts to stress out about them? He does that because I do that.) And then, a familiar tune started up and the guy announced, "I'm sure that you all know how to do the Macarena, right?"
Oh, hell no. There is no way I'm doing the Macarena. I'll take a Shadrach-like stance and go into the fire before I do that moronic dance.
So, this sent me into "fight or flight" mode, and I quickly turned to Kirsti and said, "I've got to go. Right now. I gotta go." I then briskly walked out - somewhat rudely as I didn't say anything to the people at our table. What was I gonna say? "Sorry, but I hate the Macarena so much that I have to leave." Of course, that would be the truth, and now that I think about it...that's probably what I should have done.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
My dad and I are a lot alike. No, he didn't get me into comics. He also didn't infuse me with an appreciation for Shakespeare. Nope, he's not an atheist (although he is to blame for me becoming one - more on that later). And no, I didn't inherit my non-interest in sports from him. (He was never a big fan, but he did watch a bit more than I ever do. When I was a little kid, I was into football for about two years, and he was the one who got me into it. It just didn't stick though.)
The thing that I got most from him is that I don't take a whole lot of stuff very seriously. Pretty much every occasion is an opportunity for a joke or ridiculing something that we find to be ridiculous. You should have seen the two of us when we toured the Mormon Tabernacle when I was a teenager. We kept whispering to each other, "When are they going to tell us about how we can get our own planet?" My sense of humor isn't exactly the same. I tend to be more ironic and more of a fan of wordplay. However, the notion that every situation is an opportunity for a joke is one that I definitely get from him.
Something else that I get from him is a sense of responsibility. I'm trying to think of something specific, but I'm at a bit of a loss. For some reason though, I feel as though that if I shirk my responsibilities, I'd be letting him down. I think it's just because he always had high expectations of me. As a teacher, I often think back on what my parents did right in order to get me to do all of my work. I know that my dad wasn't any kind of a star student when he was a kid, and I really don't remember him ever really having a talk with me about how I needed to do well in school. It was always just understood that I was to do well. My mom certainly backed that up, but the driving force behind all this came from him. One thing that I do remember is when I pointed out how he didn't do well in school, he replied with, "I don't measure you with the same yardstick that I measure myself."
Another, character-defining thing that he's to thank (or blame) for is my somewhat bullheaded noncomformity. When he would tell me stories about the army, the moral always seemed to be, "Don't join the army." I know that he's enough like me that he no doubt couldn't stand wearing a uniform and doing the same thing that everybody else did. He could also never be the type to join any kind of an organized religion. A story that he likes to share is when he told a guy who was trying to get him to join the church that he owned a boat but wasn't in the yacht club - basically his point being was that he believed in God, but he didn't feel the need to join a group of other people who did.
I also remember my dad encouraging me to think for myself. I even remember him saying that he'd prefer it if I disagreed with everything he said so long as my thoughts were my own. Ultimately, I think that's why I headed down the path that I did. It's funny, because even though he still believes in God, we don't seem to argue much even when I'm being very critical of Christianity.
I guess he likes the fact that I'm not just regurgitating the stuff that he told me.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
That being said, I don't ever expect anything from my birthday, but some people are inclined to get me stuff anyway. So, if that's the case, then here's what I'm hoping for: Gift cards at MoreBeer. If you're somebody who gets beer from me, you stand to gain, as I will no doubt be sure that you get even more from me. I plan on stepping up my equipment and potentially make some lagers.
Like I said, I expect nothing. But if you're just dying to get me something...
Oh, and my birthday is November 24.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
A lot of people have been asking me about how I'm going to vote on Prop 14.5B, and I've been avoiding the issue. Why? Because it always brings up a barrage of questions from people. They take that one issue and use it to judge me. They assume that I'm a supporter of President Lohan. They think that I support the war against Frabelmany. They figure that I voted to have Auszealand added as the fifty-seventh state. I mean, I must feel that way, because that's what everybody else who's against clone/android marriage is like, right?
Well, I'm still my old self. I think that President Lohan made for a better actress than a President, and while I supported our allies in Portupain, I'm still against this current war. Oh, and Auszealand? Are you kidding?
So then, you're probably wondering how I can possibly have problems with clone/android marriage. It's true; I was very outspoken about allowing androids to marry once they achieved sentience. I also marched and stood in the rain to support the rights of clones to marry. And let's not forget who one of the most vocal pro-alien marriage advocates was - me. (My wife tells me that I was also very outspoken about allowing gay people to get married. Honestly, I didn't even remember that until she showed me the passage in my great-great-grandson's history book. I actually laughed out loud, believing it to be a hoax of some sort! Gay people weren't allowed to get married? How absurd! But apparently, yeah, people really were that ignorant back in the early part of the century.)
Here's the thing with android/clone marriage though - while I believe in the right to pursue happiness on the part of any sentient, I think that this is where the line should be drawn. What am I afraid of? I'm afraid that we regular humans are going to become absolete. After all, why should regular humans marry when the far physically superior clones and androids can marry and even reproduce (with the latest android models!)
We're becoming an extinct species, people. This is where the line should be drawn. Of course, all of my grandkids say that I'm just an old fart who's afraid of change. What do they know?
Sunday, November 16, 2008
to just one wife is enough
for me anyway
In discussions with gay marriage oponents, one of the common arguments is the slippery slope of, "If we allow gay marriage, then what's to stop us from allowing ____________." The most common thing to fill in the blank is polygamy, of course.
Of course, some people will also bring up pedophilia and bestiality too. Well, I'm not even going to dignify those arguments with a comment. After all, if you're so stupid that you can't see the difference, then I can explain it forever and you still won't get it.
And let's say that when we're talking about polygamy, we're not talking about these cult leaders who basically brainwash their children and marry girls at the age of fourteen or even younger. For argument's sake, let's take a look at consenting adults who want to be in a polygamous relationship. What about that?
Well, as far as the law is concerned, you really can't compare it to same-sex marriage. After all, with same-sex marriage, the only thing that changes is that it's between any two consenting adults instead of solely adults of the opposite sex. There's nothing in the marriage laws that say anything about procreating or anything like that. As for allowing polygamy, the very nature of having a relationship between more than two people completely changes the dynamics of the situation. Who gets the inheritance? How are divorces handled? Who gets child custody rights? And who exactly is going to determine how all of this is straightened out?
Essentially, a whole new legal contract would have to be created for polygamy. And polygamists can't say that they're being denied equal protection because NOBODY currently has the right to have more than one spouse - whether you're straight or not. With gay marriage, you currently have straight couples with rights that gay couples don't have. That's where there's inequality. With polygamy, it's a completely different situation that currently has no equivalent under the law.
So, what about polygamy? As of right now, I don't think that there's enough of a demand for it for the government to start getting involved. Personally though, so long as it is indeed between consenting adults, I don't have a problem with it. Just like gay marriage, it's not the lifestyle that I'd want for myself, but who am I to deny anybody happiness? So, I don't really think that it should be illegal either.
But what if the demand for it starts to increase? Honestly, I just don't see that happening, but I certainly could be wrong. Perhaps if it does, then society needs to start figuring out a way to protect these people and their children.
Still, the bottom line is that it's not so simple that it's the automatic next step after same sex marriage is allowed. There are far too many questions that would need to be resolved first.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
and it won't ever be so
'till we have justice
This morning, Kirsti and I, along with a handful of friends, went down to City Hall in Walnut Creek to join one of the many prop-8 protests across the state (and across the world as well, it seems).
Even though I felt pretty sad at the passing of this unjust amendment, I still feel pretty positive about the future. Even if it wasn't clear that the younger generations are bound to eventually overturn it, I even have some confidence regarding these lawsuits that have been filed. The one that makes the most sense to me is the one that claims that Prop 8 isn't an ammendment so much as it's a revision of the Constitution. After all, if it declares that we all have equal protection, but then an ammendment says that we don't, that's a bit of a contradiction now, isn't it? Supposedly revisions require a lot more than just a simple majority vote.
I promised myself to be on my best behavior if I saw any of the "Yes on 8" crowd. I didn't really get much of an opportunity, but there were a couple who showed up. One was a guy who wouldn't talk to anybody, including the little kid who asked him if he loved anybody. There was another guy with a cardboard sign that read "Your making yourselves look stupid." Scott and I were quick to mock his bad grammar. I figure that sort of a thing is fair game. We even chanted "Yes on grammar!" at him.
One thing that I really think was cool about it is that I really wasn't sure exactly who was gay and who was straight. In some cases, I could probably make an educated guess; however, I didn't feel like some sort of token straight guy in a gay crowd. I felt like we were all Californians - Americans even - who all felt the same way. It really didn't even seem to matter.
What was also cool is that a friend of Kirsti's, who's a lesbian, was with us and was much more open about her sexuality than I had ever seen. The thing is, I imagine if you're gay you probably have a tendency to not bring it up, as you don't exactly want people pointing the finger of judgment at you all the time. Kirsti's friend and I had never discussed my feelings on the issue, so perhaps she didn't want to test it out only to find that I was anti-gay rights or something. She probably figured that it was pretty safe to discuss it openly if I was at an anti-8 rally though.
Oh, and don't get me wrong. By saying that she was "open", I'm not saying that she was describing her sex life to us. I'm referring to how she and I were joking about the "gay agenda", and I told her that I was tired of her always pushing it on me. It was pretty funny because a lady standing behind us turned to her and asked her, "When you find out what that is, could you let me know?" She also made it a point to thank us for protesting with her, as everybody else in our group was straight.
So, we're not where we should be - but we're getting there.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
a crazed fan dead on the ground.
Could see it coming.
I'm not really a fan of American Idol. Kirsti watches it, but that's because she's more of a fan of vocalists than I am. I'm more of a fan of music in a more general sense. The kind of talent that comes out of that show, while I can appreciate on some level, really just doesn't do it for me. I think that I watched about half of the first season, all of the second, half of the third, and then only bits and pieces after that.
The one part of the show that I continued to watch even when I gave up on it in general was the beginning. You know, where all the crappy, deluded singers try out and get laughed out of the building. It's like watching a train wreck - you just can't keep your eyes off of it. (There's also a lot of that on So You Think You Can Dance? - a show that I like a bit more than Idol - must be all those women with their dancer legs or something.)
A few years ago though, I just had to stop watching even that part. Something about it just made me feel dirty - like I was delighting in the pain of others - schadenfreude, if you will. It started to occur to me that a lot of these rejects were probably people with mental conditions and/or special needs. They were deluded, but for many of them, it might not have been solely out of a general sense of cluelessness. It started to feel like I was laughing at a guy in a wheelchair trying to climb the stairs.
So, I don't watch it at all anymore. Now this whole thing with this one Idol reject who killed herself in front of Paula Abdul's house has only confirmed how I already feel. This obviously was a person who was suffering from some sort of mental problems, and America (maybe even I as well) laughed at her.
Kinda sad, isn't it? Maybe they should just focus on the talented people from now on? All the rejects can make the cutting room floor.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
With that said though, he really hit the nail on the head when it comes to Prop 8. Anybody who voted yes on it should have to watch this.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
If I would have known this from the start, then I wouldn't have been so conflicted about voting for him. (Just watch - the conservative pundits are now going to start wondering about Obama's ties to the Hobgoblin. Didn't he serve on a committee with Roderick Kingsley? Come on, Obama! Come clean about this relationship!)
My mom is thirty years and two weeks older than me. She was born two years before the end of World War II, so she knows a thing or two about what war can do to a country. She married for the first time when she was seventeen and she had her first child when she was nineteen. (I think that I'm getting my numbers correct here.) She divorced her first husband and met my father when he was stationed in Germany for the army. Not long after that, she came to the United States, hardly knowing any English, and married my father. Of course, this is the sort of thing where if I had a daughter who was going to do something similar, I'd tell her that she was crazy and that I was going to chain her to the floor until she wised up. Thankfully, my grandfather did no such thing, because then I wouldn't exactly be here.
Of course, she eventually caught on to that whole speaking English craze that was sweeping America, and by the time she had me, she hardly spoke any German to me (at least in comparison with my older sister).
Anybody who knows my mother realizes that we're quite different. For one, she's extremely extroverted. Last New Year's, she asked me what my plan was. When I told her that I didn't have a plan, she told me that she used to "like to party" on New Year's. I, of course, wasn't partying by design, as I really can't stand parties. Still, I realize that it's a good thing that my mother was so extroverted, as I inherited her basic social skills. That's why people are genuinely surprised to find out that I'm an introvert - I sometimes wear the mask of somebody who actually enjoys human interaction. (I'm exagerating, but you know what I mean.)
She's also a theist. I suppose that I could call her a Christian, but she has her own unique mish-mash of beliefs that hardly makes her the conventional Christian. She seems to be holding on to some hope that I'll one day be a believer again. Maybe she'll get her wish - I like to keep all possibilities open. I will say though that I'm glad that she exposed me to a lot of religious stories when I was growing up. The older I got, the more I realized that many so-called believers were extremeley Biblically illiterate. I think that my mother shares my love for stories in general, and obviously Bible stories would be emphasized. So, that's definitely something that I got for her and am grateful for. After all, if I didn't have such an appreciating for the art of storytelling, I don't think I'd be able to do my job.
Growing up, she played a lot of classical music - including opera. I still can't quite seem to get into opera, but I do occasionally play some Beethoven on my MP3 player while walking my dog. That's not so much what's important though. My mom gave me an appreciation for "high art". She made me realize that there's some stuff out there that might not be as catchy and instatly accessible, but those sorts of things become much more satisfying in the long run. For me, it might not have led to a love for classical music, but there are other things that I can appreciate as an adult - like classic films and Shakespeare - that many people my age still don't get.
Of course, I've also inherited many of her idiosynrasies - like an obsessive need to make sure that I've gone to the bathroom so I won't have to go later. I don't have bladder problems, but I try to go number one at every opportunity because I'm afraid that I'll be stuck having to go really bad later on. She's to blame for that one. She also is hyper self-critical. If I tell her something about her parenting that I didn't care for, she interprets it as me saying, "You were as bad as Cronus was when he swallowed his children!" No doubt I'll be the same way. I can have twenty students tell me that they love my class, but one kid tells me it's boring and I feel like a huge failure.
At least I recognize that this is something that's part of my nature, and I've gotten pretty good at overriding it and focusing on the positive. Hopefully all the good stuff about her in this entry will be enough for her to focus on the positive.
Have a happy birthday, Mom. I love you.
but I have a problem with
all other races.
Okay, the above Haiku doesn't represent the way that I feel, but have you ever noticed that usually the phrase "I'm not a racist" is usually followed with a "but" and then something incredibly racist? Of course, there's also the variation where people say that they're not "prejudice." Yeah, I know, the correct word is "prejudiced", but those people say "prejudice". I'm not prejudice myself, but I am euphoria.
There was actually a woman on TV (to be fair, not a Republican but a Hillary supporter) who said that she doesn't want to vote for Obama because she wasn't "ready for a black president". To do another slight variation, she immediately followed up that statement with, "I'm not prejudice or nothin'." Hate to break it to you, lady, but if the reason why you won't vote for a guy is because he's black, then you're a racist. Are you ready to join the KKK? Maybe not, but you're definitely a racist.
Speaking of being a racist, my mother-in-law was recently forwarded some email by a right-winger relative (which is funny because my mother-in-law is definitely not right-wing. She's probably more conservative than I am, but she's not exactly quoting Sean Hannity - and I'm fairly certain that she voted for Obama). The email was obviously addressed to conservatives, and it was full of style, but it contained very little substance. Whatever, that's fine. The only thing that I took issue with is how it said that the reason why Obama won is because of "white guilt". In other words, us white folks still feel so bad about slavery, that we'd elect any black guy into office in order to make ourselves feel better. (Flava Flav/Rodney King 2012!)
Is it possible that some white people voted for this reason? I suppose so. I suppose that some black people voted for him only because he's black. I'm fairly positive that a lot of white people didn't vote for him because he's black. (Or because he's an Arab, even though, ya know, he isn't.)
The thing is this though, if you're a white person and you can't think of any other reason why a white person would vote for Obama other than white guilt, you're a racist. Again, are you KKK material? No. But if you can't conceive of the fact that a lot of white people voted for him simply because they thought he was the better candidate, then there's something misfiring in your brain.
Hey, I just happen to be a white guy myself. My mother was white, and my father was of white origins, which makes me half white and half white, which equals something like 100% white. I also voted for Obama. Why did I do that? Because I thought that he was better than McCain, and I definitely thought that he was better than Sarah Palin (but then again, I think that the squirrel who steals from my bird feeder is better than Sarah Palin. Squirrel/Beaver 2012!)
If I think about it, and I imagine that Obama is a white guy (which he kinda is, if you want to get all DNAey about it) and McCain is a black guy, I'm still voting the same way. (If I picture Palin as the same as she was before and Biden as a moss-covered tree stump, I'm still going the same way.)
Why? Because I'm not a racist, but I gotta say that I think that all Scandanavians are perverts.
(Calm down - I'm part Swedish.)
But I'm able to curb my perversions since the rest of me is normal human.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Kenya ain't Arabia.
Get yourself a clue.
I'm trying to keep a level head about things. I've read several blogs and comments from Obama supporters who basically are acting as though he descended to Earth on a cloud. I can understand these feelings on some level. It is a great symbolic triumph for this country now that we have our first black President. I can understand why many African Americans (and other minorities) feel inspired by this. And of course, anybody who has any empathy for minorities in this country would no doubt feel inspired as well. I'll admit that I've caught a bit of that as well, and I'm starting to feel - dare I say it? - hopeful about the future of this country. I certainly haven't felt that way in a long time. And whenever I hear him talk, I finally feel like my President is a guy who "gets it". Check out his speech on the separation of church and state (you have to get past the guy at the beginning though):
Still, while I don't consider myself a cynic, I am a bit cynical when it comes to politics. Obama is not going to live up to some of the expectations that have been placed on him. It's good to be excited and hopeful, but let's not go overboard, eh?
Anyway, then there's the other side - the people who will be disappointed if he doesn't turn this into an Orwellian dystopia. In today's paper, one letter writer wrote that Obama is "clearly a Marxist." Clearly. Isn't it funny how the socialists and communists aren't supporting him? I mean, if it's so clear, then wouldn't he be their guy? The thing is, I only know the bare minimum about Marxism, but I'm feeling like I'm a Marxism scholar when it comes to these people. They use it as a buzzword to get people all riled up - despite the fact that they don't even have a clue as to what it means.
Another person wrote about he's not qualified to be President because he's an Arab and he attended that Muslim school when he was young. Dear Helios - how can a person in this day and age, in the flippin' INFORMATION AGE be this exceedingly ignorant? He's an Arab? Arabia is the same thing as Kenya? I'm guessing that I'm Turkish then, and my wife is of Chinese descent. I mean - why not? Apparently, geography is some sort of elitist subject, and anybody who tries to be accurate regarding where a person's ancestry comes from is out of touch with "real America".
And let's just take it as a given that we shouldn't have a problem with a President who's an Arab - or a Muslim even. Honestly, I'd have an easier time with a moderate Muslim than a fundamentalist Christian.
So, I guess if I'm going to fall too far into one trap or another, I'd rather go with the hopeful than the hopeless.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
1. How long ago did dinosaurs live?
a. 50 years ago
b. 4000 years ago
c. Over 65 million years ago
d. Dinosaurs are an invention of the liberal elite
2. What countries are a part of NAFTA?
a. The U.S., Mexico, and Canada
b. America, Mexico, and Alaska
c. 'merica is the greatest country ever
d. I'll get back ta ya nafta I do a little research. (insert wink)
3. Africa is _________
a. a country
b. a continent
c. where the Garden of Eden was probably located
d. The Heart of Darkness
4. What newspapers do you read?
a. The New York Times
b. The New York Post
c. The Paris Business Review
d. All of 'em. (Too many to name any - even one, because then it would look like I'm playing favorites)
5. Which of the following is not a Supreme Court decision?
a. Roe v. Wade
b. Brown v. Board of Education
c. Dred Scott v. John FA Sanford
d. Whopper v. The Big Mac
6. What the difference between a pit bull and a hocky mom?
b. pit bulls are all boys and hockey moms are all girls
c. choke collars
d. Pit Bulls are too dignified to make folksy-sounding jokes that impress the rubes.
7. What is the job of the Vice President?
a. Break ties in the Senate, attend funerals
b. Be in charge of the Senate
c. I don't know
d. Oversee the construction of a new, more powerful, Death Star
*If you are unsure of an answer, go ahead and circle all of them and we'll count it as correct since after all, you did circle the correct one.**
**Or don't circle any at all. That's what a maverick would do!***
***A real maverick doesn't read.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
With that said, I just read about how some people are suing over the results of Proposition 8. I read it a couple of hours ago, but the basic premise is that they're claiming that it was an illegal change to the Constitution, and since it took away rights, it needed to have gone through the legislature first before going to the voters.
I'm no legal expert, so I'm not going to comment on that. All I know is, if they are successful, it's just going to add fuel to the whole "activist judges" fire. Now, that particular argument was total bull the first time around, and it might very well be bull in this instance too. However, what I'd rather see happen is us biding our time. I had several students express disappointment in the results - they seemed genuinely bewildered how anybody could vote the way that they did. This is quite a sight - because as much as I'm against it, I do understand the mindset of the Yes on 8 crowd, as I had to get over a lot of my own ignorant attitudes regarding gay people. These kids though - they were as baffled as I was when I was in second grade and first learned about segregated drinking fountains during the days of Jim Crow. It simply didn't make any sense to me why they'd ever do that.
We're going to need to put some trust in the new generation. We might not be getting what we want right now, but it will indeed come. Of course, I realize that there already are some gay couples out there who got married since the lifting of the ban several months ago, and they're going to do whatever they can to protect their marriages. Personally, I think that they should fight tooth-and-nail to protect what is theirs. After all, love is worth fighting for - even when it is in vain. Shoot, that's the whole point of Cyrano de Bergerac, and you're not going to argue with Cyrano, are you?
Again, I might feel differently about this if I was a gay man. Still, wouldn't it be better if we could simply say that gay marriage is the will of the people AND guaranteed by our basic human rights?