Thursday, July 20, 2006

Jon Stewart on Lebanon, CNN and 'The Pump'

Jon Stewart on Lebanon, CNN and 'The Pump'

Monday, July 17, 2006

Because it's "Icky"

The reason gay marriage is such a hot button issue is that, for gosh sakes, gay sex is icky.

Of course, I used to think the same about broccoli, sushi, chinese food, red wine and oral sex. But then I grew up.

But there are those who gosh darn it just DON'T want to even THINK about icky things. Lucky for them the Bible has some pretty harsh language to back up their beliefs and feelings, giving them the legitimacy of the word of 'God' to back up their intolerance and closed-mindedness. (Never mind the inherent hypocrisy of using this one part of Leviticus and ignoring the rest. That's a whole 'nother topic.)

For people like this the concept of banning gay sex is a dog they can hunt with. However, since even the religious right realizes that they can't pass laws regulating what consenting adults can do in the privacy of their own home, all they have to fall back on is to deny people who engage in such behavior any claim of legitimacy in the law. Thus the banning of gay marriage.

They love to couch it in terminology that is Rovian, Luntzian in it's seeming legalese. "Protection of Marriage," and "Protection of the Family." Hey, who wouldn't be against something like that? Except that this is not about protection, but about persecution, about discrimmination.

The legal aspect of marriage can and should be administered and enforced by government. The moral aspects of marriage should be solely up to the individuals concerned. Never the twain should meet. This is separation of Church and State and the most intimate, personal and powerful level. Who will you have in your bed? What will the two of you do there? And what the h**l should Focus on the Family, Bill Frist, Arlen Specter, Rick Santorum, Dick Cheney, George Bush, Congress or the Supreme Court have to do with *any* of it?

All because some people think it's icky.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Happiness Is...

As a programmer I often become embroiled in complex, sometimes passionate discussions about the best way to solve a problem. As a blogger and frequent contributor to online political forums, I frequently see others engaging in heated debate, complex rationalizations, scatological name-calling, etc. in an effort to reach consensus or (far more commonly) make their own point and stick a finger in the eye of the disagreeable other guy in the process.

Universally lost in this is the primordial question: Why do we do all this? A former co-worker of mine had the answer.

"I just wanna be happy."

Isn't this engraved into the very soul of our Constitution? The right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?" The Founders remembered that for all of our strugglings, whether they be technical, political, social, emotional or physical, we just want to be happy.

Now comes the results of a study that lists all countries in the world based on the happiness of their citizens. It's an eye-opener, to say the least., The study was published by the UK-based New Economics Foundation. The article describing it is here, courtesy of The Independent.

The kicker: those of us in the United States are no where near as happy as we should be. The island of Vanuatu scores highest with 68.2, while poor Zimbabwe is at the bottom of the list with 16.6. (Ouch.)

Here's the bottom of the list:

  • Canada: 39.8
  • Ireland: 39.4
  • France: 36.4
  • USA: 28.8
  • Russia: 22.8
  • Estonia: 22.7
  • Ukraine: 22.2
  • Dem. Rep. Congo: 20.7
  • Burundi: 19.0
  • Swaziland: 18.4
  • Zimbabwe: 16.6

Damn. We're not that far from the bottom! Neither are other countries that we largely perceive to be similar to us, such as England and Canada.

I don't claim to know what we can do to increase our happiness as a nation. But as they say, "first you have to acknowledge you have a problem." Also, it's patently true that there's more to life than being happy. Many historical figures achieved greatness despite - or perhaps because of - great personal trials, difficulty and unhappiness.

Still, if we're so unhappy, the question must be asked: what are we doing wrong?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Global Warming - Rants and Reason

It's both amusing and frustrating to hear the hysterical right deny the fact of global warming and to rant and rail against doing anything about it.

If we act on the assumption that it's true, then we have to learn how to live our lives while putting less carbon dioxide into the air. This may mean some hard choices - research into and the adoption of alternative energy sources, using more public transit and/or smaller cars, more energy-efficient means of growing food, doing our work, etc. etc. This will require financial hardship in many cases. It is my opinion that big business should bear the brunt of these expenses, since they've been reaping the vast majority of profits from cheap, dirty energy these past 150 years.

Still my burning (sorry) question to you is: WHY ARE YOU SO AFRAID OF THIS?

It just seems to make sense to me. Let's try to live cleaner, more efficiently. Let's try to put less junk into the air. Whether or not global warming is a fact, why would this be a bad thing?

The level of anger and denial on this subject signals a profound fear. Of what, I'm not sure. Fear of losing your SUV? Fear of having to WALK, or TAKE A BUS? Fear of having to turn off your air conditioners? Fear of having to eat less meat and more vegetables? Fear of actually having to do what someone else TELLS you to for the betterment of all?

Why are you so tremendously afraid?

Regarding the idiots who say 'we only have 100 years of recorded temperatures, the earth is millions of years old, that's not enough data,' bear in mind there are scientifically valid ways of extrapolating the earth's temperature thousands of years into the past. To those who say 'there were no SUVs in the days of the dinosaurs,' my reponse is SO WHAT? The earth's climate has changed repeatedly in 65 million years. Tell me how good that was for the dinosaurs. Our interest as a species is to maintain the earth's temperature/climate/geography at the same level is has been during human history. This is the environment in which we came up, this is what we want to maintain. Dinosaurs have nothing to do with it.

In closing, let me refer you to WikiPedia's article on global warming:

Here's the money quote:

"Only a small minority of scientists discount the role that humanity's actions have played in recent warming. However, the uncertainty is more significant regarding how much climate change should be expected in the future, and there is a hotly contested political and public debate over what, if anything, should be done to reduce or reverse future warming, and how to cope with the predicted consequences."