Sunday, December 29, 2013

My latest letter to the editor

is in The Washington Post here:
In expressing opposition to the proposed casino in Prince George’s County, Margi Willis [“ ‘Vegas on the Potomac’? No thanks, ” letters, Dec. 24] wrote that she and her husband would never go near or support any of Maryland’s casinos. That is exactly the point. Ms. Willis is free not to patronize them, while others who have different tastes are free to visit them. That is what freedom is.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

We're for religious freedom, except when we're not.

A federal judge in Utah has recently held that Utah's law prohiting cohabitation violates a polygamist family's rights to free exercise of religion and due process of law. The National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council are calling the decision "the next step along the path blazed by same-sex marriage advocates...." The NOM and the FRC are in effect opposing that family's freedom of religion.

I thought that opponents of marriage equality were simply trying to protect bakers' and photographers' free exercise of religion. It's almost as though their stated and actual reasons differed somewhat.

My first thought was that LGBT advocates should take every opportunity to point out the chicanery of groups like the NOM and the FRC. Then, however, I remembered how often our advocates have said that free exercise of religion should yield to anti-discrimination laws. We thus have two sides in the debate, both of which think that their preferred outcome should trump the First Amendment's free-exercise clause.

See also: The great big (non-zero-sum) game of life and Same-sex marriage and freedom of association (2)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Faux News: Residents of Nightlife District Complain to City Council About Noise, Crowds

VALLEY HILLS (Faux News): Residents of Valley Hills’ 18th Avenue nightlife district attended last night’s meeting of the city council to demand that the city government take action against the noise and crowds.

Residents of the neighborhood, famous across the state for its vibrant after-hours scene, complained of having to listen to music and crowd noise from the clubs and walk past tipsy suburbanites on their way home. Said one person who had recently moved to the 18th Avenue corridor, “Does anyone on the city council seriously believe that I would move from the suburbs to a condo directly above Club Splondeed to subject myself to that? Why isn’t anything being done?”

Another recent purchaser in the same building concurred, adding, “Condos on or near 18th Avenue are among the most expensive in the city. For what we pay to live here, we’re entitled to a little peace and quiet. Why does the city keep approving commercial land use that is clearly out of place in this neighborhood?”

Others who were fed up with the noise and crowds have found a different solution. Said one resident, “I used to have a roommate who got tired of the whole situation, so he bought a house in the county agricultural preserve. He no longer has to deal with the nightlife, but now he has to smell fertilizer. Why won’t the county board of supervisors step in and do something?”

See also: MILMOT: Make it like my old town

Thursday, December 5, 2013

On this day in history (whose lesson we mustn't learn)

On December 5, 1933, that spectacularly failed attempt at social engineering known as Prohibition ended. Everyone surely knows about its unintended consequences; even a progressive acquaintance of mine who tried to defend it acknowledged what he called "the Al Capone syndrome." The fact that so many people pursue modern-day versions of Prohibition shows statist stupidity, mendacity, or some combination thereof, depending on the statist.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Recently, I have been making short posts directly to my Twitter feed rather than to this blog. If you don't follow me on Twitter, the terrorists will have won! Also, I follow back, and I retweet if you have something good to say.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Redefining marriage?

Opponents of equal marriage rights are ever more desperate for arguments. A currently popular one holds that government should not use its coercive powers to redefine the word "marriage." Am I allowed to have multiple wives and concubines? Does a wife lose her legal identity upon marriage? No? Then it looks as though marriage has already been redefined. Also, it makes no sense to argue that while the word "marriage" is sacred, government has free rein to redefine the word "equal," as in "equal protection of the laws," however it sees fit.

In short, the only way to keep government from redefining marriage is to keep government from defining marriage at all. I believe that that course of action would be ideal, but, as I have said before, I do not want the perfect that is a long way off to be the enemy of the good that is coming to pass.

It's all gay men's fault (chapter 19,255)

The Huffington Post has published a column titled Gay Dudes, Can You Just Not?, decrying the use of the word "tranny" by gay men. Note the focus specifically on gay men. I wouldn't mind seeing radical feminists held to the same standard.

Note also this line:

But it's OK, folks, because they're gay dudes and are therefore untouchable by the LGB-centric media.
That's a fine thing to tell us in the context of showing us the exact opposite.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Richard Cohen continues the straw-man apocalypse.

In a column about Chris Christie and the Tea Party, Richard Cohen wrote,
Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled — about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.
(Emphasis added.) While I have done my fair share of criticizing social conservatives, I try not to say anything about them that is either so breathtakingly clueless or so breathtakingly mendacious.

Cohen has backpedaled:

The column is about Tea Party extremism and I was not expressing my views, I was expressing the views of what I think some people in the Tea Party held.
While the backpedaled version clearly differs from what he originally wrote, it is not much better. By expressing the views that he thinks that some people in the Tea Party hold, he serves his readers idle speculation with a side order of nutpicking.

Also, some progressives have misinterpreted the above-quoted passage of Cohen's column as expressing his own views, which it plainly does not, and have thereby changed the meaning by 180°. Some people appear to spend every waking moment looking for things by which to be offended, no matter what the facts are.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Is the Republican Party about to go under?

One of the major parties is about to go belly up at any moment now, and this has been the case at least since the seventies. After Carter's election, the talking heads predicted this fate for the Republican Party, and after Reagan's first election, they did the same for the Democratic Party. Now it's the GOP's turn again. By now, someone should have noticed the similarity to Rapture predictions.

Today's vocabulary word: period

period, n. asterisk: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fabulous queer dating tip #27: Demand that he respond to your message right now.

Whenever you message him, you are entitled to an instantaneous reply. No one ever has anything else going on, least of all work or sleep, and everyone spends all day in front of his computer or at worst checking his smartphone, right? If he tells you otherwise, he is obviously lying, and you should become manipulative or just plain nasty.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Quote of the week

"Coming Out does not commit you to the political agenda of the 'gay community.' It means you're openly gay. The End." — Steve Zlick, communing here

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Quote of the week

“We have operated the Farm successfully for 32 years after the NPS cut the Farm from its budget in 1980 and are fully staffed and prepared to open today. But there are barricades at the Pavilions and entrance to the Farm. And if you were to park on the grass and visit on your own, you run the risk of being arrested. Of course, that will cost the NPS staff salaries to police the Farm against intruders while leaving it open will cost them nothing.” — Anna Eberly, managing director of Claude Moore Colonial Farm, a park that the federal government neither funds nor staffs, but which the federal government has shut down anyway.

How government licensing protects the LGBT community

... or, rather, protects people's delicate sensibilities from the LGBT community. From the Southern Poverty Law Center:
The SPLC filed a federal lawsuit today against the town of Shannon, Miss., its mayor and its aldermen for unjustly denying a business license to a bar catering to the LGBT community.

* * *

The mayor asked [Pat Newton, the applicant for the business license] to justify why she should be permitted to open the bar. After stating her reasons, the mayor asked the aldermen and citizens to raise their concerns. Newton was confronted with questions laced with insults from citizens and aldermen. One resident asked how Newton could call herself a Christian. Another asked whether she would let her daughter go into “a bar like that.”

At the end of the hearing, an adviser to the town informed the board that Newton had met all the requirements for her application but that the application could be denied on public health and safety concerns. The board denied the application by a 4-to-1 vote – even though no legitimate evidence regarding public health and safety was presented.

If the burden is on a person who just wants to engage in voluntary commerce "to justify why she should be permitted" to do so, we can expect precisely that result.

Let's rely on a "14th Amendment" doctrine that I just made up.

The federal government is expected to hit the debt ceiling later this month. People are calling on the President to exercise his supposed power under the 14th Amendment to address the debt ceiling, a power that he supposedly has because the validity of federal debt "shall not be questioned." Not so fast.

The 14th Amendment, § 4, first sentence, actually reads,

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.
Note those pesky words "authorized by law," which keep getting left out. If I didn't know any better, I'd almost think that people avoid quoting those words because those words get in the way of the desired result. Who makes laws again? The next section of the amendment gives a clue:
The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A free-market solution to Barilla's bigotry

In response to Guido Barilla's comments and his "I'm sorry you feel that way" non-apology, a competitor has done the following:
Bertolli Makes the Most of Barilla Chairman's Anti-Gay Comments

Barilla is struggling enough this week without its competitors piling on. But Bertolli doesn't care. Seizing on comments made by Barilla's chairman about how the company would never put gay couples in its advertising, Bertolli Germany quickly posted pro-gay imagery in its social feeds, happily taking advantage of its rival's misstep.

This is the way to do it, not to invite government to step in and thereby turn bigots into martyrs for free speech.

I love big government, except when it inconveniences me.

We all know the sort of shotgun statists and laser-beam libertarians who call for greater government control over everyone else's life, as long as they themselves get an exemption. We know about those who take a conveniently selective approach to reproductive autonomy or to freedom of association. Now, acquaintances of mine sing the praises of the Affordable Care Act, up to but not including the parts of Obamacare that inconvenience them personally.

The obligatory Barilla post

Guido Barilla has the right to say what he thinks about the family. Those who disagree with him have the right not to buy Barilla products. Why is this so difficult to understand?

People who complain about economic coercion against Barilla must know on some level that they're mistaken, since activists on both the right and the left have long used boycotts. Then again, perhaps economic coercion, like judicial activism, means whatever the person using the term doesn't like.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Whose body is it anyway? DC Government and tattoos

Personally, I am not a big fan of tattoos, but I am also not a big fan of nanny-statism, including this example:
Some popular impulse purchases — tattoos and body piercings — could soon become less impulsive if District [of Columbia] health regulators have their way.

A mandatory 24-hour waiting period is among the provisions included in a 66-page package of draft regulations governing the “body art” industry released by the city Health Department on Friday.

So the city government wants to take a more active role in adults' choices over their own bodies? What could possibly go wrong? Besides, it's not as though either tattoo parlors or potential customers could go to Virginia or Maryland or to a hack in the underground economy.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Quote of the week

“I don’t usually admire Sarah Palin, but when she was making fun of this ‘hopey changey stuff,’ she was right; there was nothing there. And it was understood by the people who run the political system, and so it’s no great secret that the US electoral system is mainly a public relations extravaganza… it’s sort of a marketing affair.” — Noam Chomsky

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Quote of the week

"Aid is just a stopgap. Commerce, entrepreneurial capitalism takes more people out of poverty than aid." Bono

Monday, August 12, 2013

Some rules of life

Reality is negotiable. Dogma isn’t.

Never underestimate the power of doublethink.

The meta-rule: The rules are written, interpreted, and enforced in such a way that whatever you do or say is wrong.

The rule of political and economic terms: Any political or economic term has one of only two possible meanings, which are “whatever I like” and “whatever I don’t like.”

The first rule of religion: The Word of God, when correctly interpreted, always agrees with whatever the person interpreting it wanted to believe anyway.

Corollary to the first rule of religion: All of those thou-shalt-nots are for other people.

The second rule of religion: Believers are saved by the blood of Jesus, or their deity of choice, from ever having the burden of proof.

The third rule of religion: When someone asks rhetorically, “Doesn’t the Bible say…?”, the answer is almost always no.

Queen Carlotta’s Law: In certain belief systems, Queen Carlotta has proclaimed every day as backwards day.

Corollary to Poe’s Law: Some belief systems are so far removed from reality that no matter how carefully you represent what they actually teach, someone will accuse you of setting up a straw man.

Corollary to Godwin’s Law: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving slavery approaches 1.

There will never be Peak Derp. Nor will there ever be Peak Lie

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What went wrong at The Washington Post

Now that Jeff Bezos is to buy The Washington Post, people are talking about the failure of The Post's business model, from content delivery to left-wing bias on its opinion pages to right-wing bias on its opinion pages to parochialism. I believe that such criticisms miss the point.

When I read or watch news reporting, I want the confidence that I have learned enough about the subject to form an informed opinion. I often do not get that confidence from The Washington Post because too often, either bias or sloppiness becomes evident. When an article is an opinion column thinly disguised as news reporting, when it gives undue weight to one side or just shills for one side, when it presents questionable assumptions as unquestionable truths, or when it simply contains obvious errors of fact, I look elsewhere for information. I am less concerned with bias on the opinion pages, which are, after all, opinion pages.

Name that teabagger.

Which right-winger said the following?
I believe that our housing system should operate where there’s a limited government role, and private lending should be the backbone of the housing market.
Only a Randroid teathuglican would use "limited government" and "private" as anything other than swear words, right? Actually, some forms of nanny-statism are losing even Obama's support. The fundamentalists of big government are screaming that he has betrayed them.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Same-sex marriage and freedom of association (2)

I have previously noted some philosophical reasons why we should allow marriage equality and freedom of assocation to coexist rather than allow either of them to trump the other. I now want to point out a more practical reason, namely, that by fighting against freedom of association, we are giving the 'phobes an unnecessary PR victory.

People are already pointing to antidiscrimination lawsuits against bakers and the like as evidence that we are not seeking only the right to live our own lives, but also the power to dictate others' lives. We thus feed the myth of individual liberty as a zero-sum game, i.e., one in which our gains are automatically someone else's losses. We also run the risk of looking like hypocrites for demanding freedom of association for ourselves but no one else.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

More Randroid teathuglican blather about Obama. Oh, wait ....

Which freeper wingnuts do you suppose wrote the following?
Mr Obama has become a more amiable and efficient manager of the American empire. And, in the name of national security, he is laying the foundation for a frighteningly dystopian future by combining full-spectrum surveillance with full-spectrum military dominance.

* * *

Mr Obama, under whom hunger strikers are force fed and whistleblowers prosecuted with unparalleled ferocity, needs to recalibrate before he drives the final nails into the coffin of a once-proud American republic.

Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick wrote that in Financial Times.

Monday, June 24, 2013

La la la, progressives can't hear you.

Progressives of my acquaintance seem convinced that drug prohibition is solely the fault of the private-prison industry and of small-government types. No amount of logic or evidence to the contrary will sway them; even the glaring contradiction inherent in blaming drug prohibition on small-government types escapes them. Once I said to one of them, "If only our elected officials would step in and do something." He not only thought that I was being serious but even expressed agreement with me.

If I didn't know better, I'd almost start to think that progressives refused to blame government for anything except not doing enough. More generally, I'd almost start to think that they deployed invincible ignorance (a/k/a the "La la la, I can't hear you" fallacy) against any logic or evidence that countered their world view. As I've said before, reality is negotiable; dogma isn't.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The straw-man apocalypse, or: How not to convince me that I'm wrong

One difficulty that I have found in arguing with progressives is that when they want to attack my position, they often do not actually attack my position, but instead set up a straw man or even a whole army of them. By "straw man," I mean the following:
The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person's actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position.
For instance, the other evening, I was informed that libertarians agree with Republican flip-flopping on health care, the "get your government hands off of my Social Security and Medicare" viewpoint, crony capitalism, the religious right's social positions, and even drug prohibition (which, in case you didn't know, is entirely the fault of the private sector and of limited-government types). Setting up straw men does not make the other side look wrong; instead, it makes the side setting them up look either ignorant or dishonest.

See also The straw atheist and the straw Christian.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Religious right or P.C. left? Quotes 45 and 46

In this series of blog posts, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read each quote and guess, before doing a Web search, whether someone in the religious right or the politically correct left said it.


The reality is that humans are born male or female. At birth we don’t “assign” sex to a child arbitrarily, as the analysis of this bill implies. We recognize the child’s sex – it is a physical reality. But in the world of this bill, that reality doesn’t matter. Like Cinderella in a fantasy world, a person may choose or change his sex, saying, “I can be whatever I want to be.”


What struck me in reading your document is that those who are biologically female is a simple category (persons with XX genes and genitals) but the other category is not clearly defined, it is so foggy that it could be expanded to include the class of all males on the planet (theoretically). No matter how you define the gender-trans category you run into difficulties. That’s why you have ways of defining that are highly subjective. If it’s “my gender is what I say it is” then persons with dissociative personality disorder or with multiple personalities, would be understood as changing genders more or less frequently.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Study finds positive correlation between economic freedom and tolerance toward homosexuals.

It's a common talking point among both the left and the right that economic freedom and tolerance toward LGBT people are at loggerheads. A recent study suggests otherwise.

The study, performed by two Swedish researchers (see here and here), finds,

Cross-sectional and first-difference regression analysis of up to 69 countries reveals that economic freedom is positively related to tolerance towards homosexuals, especially in the longer run....
Of course, correlation is not causation; also, the data are derived from polls and therefore could suffer from the Bradley effect. Still, the study provides counter-evidence to an anti-freedom talking point.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Today's vocabulary word: dialogue

dialogue, n. monologue: We need to have a dialogue about [pet topic].

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Stuff gay men supposedly like: 22. Being contrarian

I choked when I read this:
To a gay person, groups of people in complete agreement are scary. It’s what happens in a totalitarian state, a Catholic school, church, or worst of all, the suburbs. Since those places are all horrible, a gay person is committed to constantly come up with ways his opinions and political views are different from everybody else’s.
And the earth is flat. Go to a meeting of almost any mainstream LGBT organization, and you'll see just how afraid of groups of people in complete agreement gay people are. Soon after coming out, I learned the hard way that people would flip out over an expression of any idea outside of the group-certified orthodoxy, even something as apparently anodyne as "There are gay men in long-term relationships." As for any distinction between the LGBT community and those other locales, didn't someone once say something about fighting monsters and gazing into the abyss?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Same-sex marriage and freedom of association

One reason often given for opposing marriage equality is that government should not force caterers, florists, tour-bus operators, and the like to provide services in situations that would violate those service providers' religious or moral beliefs. While I believe in equal rights for same-sex couples, I agree that the service providers should not be forced to violate their beliefs. People do not forfeit their freedom of association by disagreeing with me. Also, competitive pressure provides an obvious remedy; if one bakery refuses to take my money, it thereby hands a competitive advantage to another bakery that will. Finally, I do not see the point of forcing people to take my money if they do not want to do so.  In short, since freedom is not a zero-sum game, we can accommodate both equal protection of the laws for same-sex couples and others' freedom of conscience.

On the other hand, I am still waiting to hear a cogent reason why freedom of association applies only to those who oppose same-sex marriage and not, say, to those who have an equally sincere opposition to remarriage after divorce in the absence of an annulment, or in other words why opponents of same-sex marriage deserve a special privilege.  Cherry-picking fidelity to principle is not fidelity to principle at all.

I like to raise that issue with those Catholics who oppose marriage equality on the ground of freedom of association, especially those who believe in their church's teachings against some forms of marriage that secular law allows. They either throw out a red herring or play the persecution card.

I know your inner life better than you do.

People often try to make their point by making assertions about a complete stranger's inner life. If they gneuinely believe that they have the power to discern such things and aren't simply bullshitting, why don't they put that power to any of the obvious good uses to which it could be put, instead of using it only for op-ed columns and Internet arguments?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Today's "More Honest than We Intended to Be" award goes to....

Concerning the sequester, that trim in the rate of growth of vast hacking back of government spending, Brian Beutler writes in Talking Points Memo:
The point of sequestration is supposedly to create just enough chaos that regular people — people with political clout, such as, say, business travelers — demand that Congress fix it. Or as the Democrats conceived it, to create the public pressure they need to knock Republicans off their absolutist position on taxes.
The mask slips, but Beutler hurriedly pushes it back into position in the next paragraph:
They allowed Republicans to inaccurately characterize the FAA furloughs as a political stunt. [emphasis added]

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Why can't they disagree peacefully, like sophisticated Europeans?

A little of that Gallic sang froid about which we keep hearing might have helped here:
French MPs come to blows as gay marriage debate ends

Punches were reportedly thrown in the French parliament on Thursday night as MPs wrapped up the long debate on the government’s gay marriage bill.

* * *

Enraged by what they believed was an insulting sneer by one of Justice Minister Christiane Taubira’s advisers while one of their number was speaking, about 20 right-wing MPs rushed onto the floor of parliament shouting “Out! Out!”.

“Punches were thrown,” according to Socialist MP Bernard Roman, while other sources said that one hit a parliamentary official called in to keep order.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sheeple are easily bound and slaughtered, or: Happy April 15, everyone.

Whenever income-tax rates come up in conversation, it's a safe bet that someone will respond, "I get money back." Yes, most of us already knew about tax refunds, but their existence doesn't address the point. The fact that people keep repeating the argument shows that many people either are that easily duped or want that badly to be duped.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fiction: The Raw Materials of a Man

“Are you going to finish that?” asked Kenny, pointing to my uneaten French toast with his fork.

“No, you go ahead and finish it,” I responded, pushing the plate across the table.

Kenny wordlessly took the plate, placed it in front of himself, and set upon the French toast.  After finishing it off, which did not take very long, he shifted his bulk in his chair and looked at me for a bit.  Then he said, “You’ve been acting strangely lately.”

“How so?” I asked.

“You seem so … I don’t know … distant.  Like we hardly even know each other anymore.  Like we’ve grown apart.”

“What are you talking about?”  I asked.  “It’s not at all as though we don’t know each other.  I take you everywhere with me.  The things that I used to do by myself, we do together now.  Now finish that up so we can get out of here.”

As I thought about what he had said, however, I realized that he had a point.  We hardly seemed like the happy couple that we had been before.  When we first met, Kenny, only 20 and still in college, seemed less like a man than like the raw materials from which men are made.  I almost immediately fell in love with him for his potential, and I knew that I would be able to guide him to achieve that potential.  Lately, however, he seemed ever less reachable.

Once Kenny finished and cleared the dishes, we got onto the road to the bookstore.  “So what is this again?” Kenny asked while we were on the road.

“It’s a book signing.”

“Yes, I remember that, but what book?”

The Crossroads of the Spirit by Raven Silverberg.  We talked about that; remember?”

“Oh, yeah, that new-age crap that you’re into now.”

“Yes, that ‘new-age crap’ that I’m into now.  Instead of sneeringly dismissing it, you really ought to keep an open mind; you might learn something.”

Kenny just sighed.

“You might want to show me a little gratitude,” I said, “for trying to open you up to new experiences.  I know that if you had an open mind, you’d find them enriching.”

“Oh, and just how do you know that?”

“Don’t ask such ridiculous questions.  I just do.  Now would you mind not ruining this for me?”

“Oh, all right, I promise not to ruin it for you.”

At the bookstore, I told the author my name so that she could autograph the book.  After autographing it, she turned to Kenny and asked, “And you are?”

“Ken Parks,” said Kenny, extending his hand.

“Well, Ken,” said Raven, “I get the sense that you have a very old soul.  Are you a seeker after knowledge like your friend Ron?”

“Well, I guess I’m a seeker after knowledge, but not like Ron.”

“I see.  What do you believe about the world beyond the physical?”

“I’m very open-minded about it; I’ll believe whatever you can prove to me with evidence and logic.”

“That’s, um, a very interesting perspective, young man.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, a few other people require my attention.”

On the way home, I asked, “What did you mean by that?”

“What did I mean by what?”

“That you’re a seeker after knowledge, but not like me.  And that comment about whatever she can prove with evidence and logic was just plain rude, especially after you’d promised not to ruin it for me.”

“What I meant was just what it sounds like,” Kenny answered in a testy tone.  “We’re different people, and sometimes I get tired of having you tell me what my interests should be and what I should think.”

“Well, excuse me for trying to expose you to new things.”

“Expose me to all the new things you like.  I don’t have to agree with all of it.”

“I expose you to new things like that because they’re what you need to enrich your life.”

“And you just know, better than I do, what I need to enrich my life, right?  Stop trying to control what I think.”

“I don’t get you.  This morning, you complained that we were growing apart, and now you complain that I’m trying to control what you think.  I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.”

“That’s just it.  It’s like I’m not me; I’m just something to turn into another you.”

We spent the rest of the ride home in silence.

That evening, Kenny seemed distant from me.  I finally said, “You used to be more open to new things.”

“When was that?” he asked, barely looking up from the magazine that he had been reading.

“When we first started going out.”

“Back then, I was trying to get to know you.  It didn’t mean that I wanted to be a clone of you or believe everything you believe.”

“And here I thought you were doing it to grow as a person.”

Kenny threw the magazine onto the coffee table.  “So I’m supposed to grow as what person?  You?  Believe whatever trendy bullshit comes down the pike if you want.  Shove a crystal up your ass and chant your mantra.  But don’t assume that just because you’ve gotten into it, I have to be, too.”  He got up and started heading to the bathroom.

“At times like this,” I said, “I think that the Kenny I first loved has gone away.”

After a long pause, he came back into the living room.  “At times like this,” he said, “I don’t think the person you first loved ever existed at all.”  He went into the bathroom.

“I suppose you’re right,” I muttered, and then hoped that he hadn’t heard me saying so.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Free speech and hate speech, or: The obligatory Michelle Shocked post

Michelle Shocked has the right to be Princess Clara on the subject of same-sex marriage and then to backpedal furiously when called on it. Concert-goers have the right not to support her, as do performance venues in the absence of a contractual obligation to do so.
People have responded to Shocked in ways like this:
Freedom of speech and artistic expression are critically important, but this isn't free speech. This is hate speech.
In fairness, the petition calls for voluntary measures rather than government censorship. Yet in making the distinction between free speech and hate speech as though they were mutually exclusive categories, which, at least in the US, they are not, the author of the petition plays a dangerous game. For one thing, our opponents have become adept at playing the hate-speech card whenever anyone dares to examine their beliefs critically.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Today's vocabulary term: free market

free market, n. phr. whatever I don't like


From the PRI report (which names Microsoft as a major supporter of the increase in the H-1B quota):
So, why does the US need to import labor for this lower-skilled work? Matloff says it has to do with wages and immobility. He argues that since employers sponsor H-1Bs visas, foreigners have a limited ability to negotiate higher salaries or switch jobs. If they do manage to change employers, it means they must restart any green card applications. Matloff says these realities "handcuff" H-1B visa holders to their employers.
Ahh, the grim realities of our beloved free market system!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

In other papal news, water is wet.

My liberal friends are shocked by Pope Francis's history of pronouncements on women and gays. What did they expect? What sort of person did they think that the cardinal electors, all appointed by either John Paul II or Benedict XVI, would choose? The fact that anyone expected differently just shows the triumph of hope over experience.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The latest in the war on soda, and why it matters to LGBT people

The latest:
A judge struck down New York’s limits on large sugary drinks on Monday, one day before they were to take effect, in a significant blow to one of the most ambitious and divisive initiatives of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s tenure.
While the opinion relied heavily on administrative law, such laws present the larger issue that they restrict people's right to make choices over their own bodies. One justification for such laws that tends to show up often in the comments sections is the effect of obesity on public health — the same argument that I heard when I was involved in the struggle against sodomy laws.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My latest letter to the editor

... is here, in the Science Times section of The New York Times:
Re “Prison and the Poverty Trap” (Feb. 19): The article shows that the war on drugs has harmed people like Carl Harris on two levels. First, it has distorted incentives and created an underground market that is both more lucrative and more violent than the aboveground economy. Second, the long prison terms associated with the underground market cause a breakdown of families and communities.

If those in power are serious about the poverty trap, they should be serious about not setting it up in the first place.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

In the Catholic Church, life imitates The Onion.

From The Onion:
VATICAN CITY—Calling forgiveness "one of the highest virtues taught to us by Jesus," Pope John Paul II issued a papal decree Monday absolving priest-molested children of all sin.
From Cardinal Mahoney's blog:
In the past several days, I have experienced many examples of being humiliated. In recent days, I have been confronted in various places by very unhappy people. I could understand the depth of their anger and outrage--at me, at the Church, at about injustices that swirl around us.

Thanks to God's special grace, I simply stood there, asking God to bless and forgive them.

Stuff gay men supposedly like: 21. Poppers

According to articles like this, poppers are some huge gay male sacrament, "one thing we have yet to sell, condemn, or disown in the quest for equality ... the homosexual peyote." Yet strangely enough, I do not know a single gay man of my age or younger who shows the slightest interest in them. Perhaps poppers, like a belief that Social Security will still be there when we need it, are something for previous generations.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Have I mentioned Marco Rubio's water bottle in the last 15 minutes?

In the State of the Union speech, Obama proposed doing more of what we know doesn't work, so how do my liberal friends react? They can't shut up about Marco Rubio's water bottle. If I didn't know any better, I'd almost start to think that they were using a diversionary tactic.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What are gay men up to? How not to find out (2)

On, we read this (borderline NSFW):
STUDY: Most Gay Men Prefer Their Guys Naturally Hairy

According to a survey conducted by Manhunt, gay men prefer their partners to leave their body hair alone.

More than 27,000 Manhunt members were asked which body parts they like their partners to manscape and, surprisingly, most wanted everything left the way God made it.

I have read other studies that "show" the exact opposite. You can "prove" whatever you want if you don't worry about silly little things like non-representative data samples and self-selection bias, which many people in the LGBT media evidently do not.

Yes, I do know better than to expect quality journalism from sites like Manhunt. It does not follow that supposedly more serious sites have to go along.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My blog has inspiread a drinking game.

My post Planning on posting to an Internet discussion board? was posed to this blog post with the following comments:
Was sent this and instantly thought of [other commenter].

* * *

Classic. I love it. Maybe we should have a drinking game: every time [other commenter] hits 50 in a thread, everyone drinks.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Religious right or P.C. left? Quotes 43 and 44

In this series of blog posts, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read each quote and guess, before doing a Web search, whether someone in the religious right or the politically correct left said it.


  • Rich consumers want to spend money on the newest and "sexiest" fashions to show off their wealth and popularity.
  • Fashion designers design exotic and scandalous clothing that shows off the female body, which treats the woman as another luxury good.
  • Fashion agents treat models as merchandise, placing heavy demands on the models to meet the specifications of the designer.
  • The models never feel good enough unless they are the thinnest, youngest, prettiest, etc.
  • Many models suffer irreparable damage from feelings of inadequacy, leading to depression and sometimes suicide.
  • Thinner, younger models take the place of the unstable, unreliable older models (who themselves are no older than 25).
  • Rich consumers buy the latest fashion, become convinced that the newer fashion standard is even thinner than before, and pump more money into the system in the process.
Saying once [gay men] started getting heavily into fashion the model shape changed towards a male form (essentially what a [gay man] would enjoy looking at). Like what Em said.

Now I wouldn’t give a shit except for the fact that they hold up these women ... as an ideal form, knowing damn well 96% of the female population isn’t going to look like that. So women get breast implants, liposuction, nose jobs, spray tans (or skin lightener), lip filler and spend millions on diet and exercise crazes. In the end, women hate themselves and each other.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Nothing says "progressive" like blatant classism.

I'd prefer to believe that this was an isolated incident. Nonetheless, when I first encountered self-declared progressives, one of the first things that I noticed about them was their combination of feigned regard for the downtrodden working class and undisguised contempt for actual working-class people. In the same breath, they could talk about their enlightened, egalitarian ideals and grouse about those stupid redneck hicks. I even pointed out as much in a letter to the editor and thus lost a "friend," who could muster no response except the standard-issue appeal to ridicule. Never underestimate people's willful ignorance of their own hypocrisy.

Friday, January 4, 2013

We've always defended traditional marriage from Eastasia. (2)

As I have noted before, since the November election, users of the argumentum ad populum against marriage equality have quietly memory-holed that argument. Nonetheless, I did not anticipate the sheer brazenness of Cardinal George, Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, who said in a pastoral letter (emphasis added),
If we ignore in law the natural complementary of man and woman in creation, then the natural family is undermined. Our individual lives become artificial constructs protected by civil “rights” that destroy natural rights. Human dignity and human rights are then reduced to the whims of political majorities.
Yes, because we all know that reducing human rights to the whims of political majorities would be very bad.  We must follow the eternal verities, whatever they are this week.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A picture tells a thousand words (just not the ones you intended).

I've seen this floating around the intertubes:

The problem is that justifying your political and economic views by appealing to a science-fiction show set in a post-scarcity society isn't exactly the most credible argument.