Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I'm 37. Im not old.

I just realized I am now the exact age referenced in one of my favorite comedy bits:

King Arthur: Old woman.
Dennis: Man.
King Arthur: Man, sorry. What knight lives in that castle over there?
Dennis: I'm 37.
King Arthur: What?
Dennis: I'm 37. I'm not old.
King Arthur: Well I can't just call you "man".
Dennis: Well you could say "Dennis".
King Arthur: I didn't know you were called Dennis.
Dennis: Well you didn't bother to find out did you?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Prop 8 Protest

I went to San Francisco yesterday for the Prop 8 protest at City Hall. Crowd size was estimated at 7500. It was a good-natured bunch, and the nature of the speeches was overall a positive one. Protest peacefully, we'll win because we're right, history is on our side - these themes seemed to be the main focus.

There was lots of focus on "love". It's about love, our love is just as valuable as yours, etc.. Even though it's catchy and heartwarming, I'm not sure it's the best messaging. It seems to me it's not about love, it's about rights. The state's stamp of approval will never do anything to augment any relationship I will ever have, but it does inhibit same sex couples' rights in terms of inheritence, custody, and enforcement of living wills.

One speaker championed the rights of "intersex" Americans, which I had explained to me is basically the politically correct term for hermaphrodites and others born with ambiguous sexuality. A lot of folks, both gay and straight, seemed to be shaking their heads during this, not quite sure what to make of it. But I think he made some interesting points about the blurry edges of our identities and, hence, our laws.

Some of the more entertaining signs people brought:
  • A life-size cardboard cut-out of Beyonce (if anyone has a clue on this one, I'd love to hear it)
  • Queer not gonna take it
  • We can't all marry Liza Minelli
  • Please curb your god
  • If you let us marry each other we'll stop marrying you
  • Joseph Smith had 34, Brigham Young had 56, I just want one

Friday, November 14, 2008

Civil marriages (or, why I hate America, children, and puppies)

See my previous post on a proposal to do away with civil marriages. This post touches on more personal matters.

I have found that, when mentioning this idea to friends, it has oft met with visceral opposition. In general (and this is anecdotal based on my own experience with 10-12 people - please don't read this as prejudicial of either group), Christians and women have violently opposed the idea.

Christians have tended to see it as a dissolution of American values. So the argument goes - marriage is the core of a nuclear family, and that is the foundation of our society, and so the state must support and define it. I just don't get this. Marriage was originally an issue of property - the man owning the woman. That's why fathers still "give away" brides. I think clinging to tradition for tradition's sake is overrated.

If providing children with a stable home is really are the reason for civil marriages, then it should only be allowed to couples who are capable of and plan to have children,. And divorces should be a LOT harder when kids are involved.

But few would argue that a person stuck in an unhappy or abusive relationship should be further punished by the legal divorce process. And few would argue that a loving marriage between a man and a woman for 50 years should have any less weight because the union never produced offspring. That would be insulting. And the current system is just as insulting to anyone else not allowed to marry.

As far as the response I've seen from women to this idea - to be fair, a few of them I was dating at the time. This is one of those examples where I favor honesty over sensitivity, and it bites me in the ass.

One of them I even wound up marrying, and the suggestion that we postpone the civil union until we have children (you see, this would have saved us money on the license, decreased our income tax, and in retrospect a load of divorce bills) - no practical argument mattered - it just meant to her that I didn't love her enough. My commitment to her wasn't sufficient, I had to commit to the Commonwealth of Jamaica, too.

But I just don't get it. I don't get how one can value love, value marriage, be willing to proclaim love and devotion and commitment to a partner and in front of families and friends - how is any of that augmented by the seal of the state? Why is that necessary? And why can I not even speak of it without being viewed as anti-family, anti-commitment, selfish, or unloving?

Shit, the whole thing wears me out.

Civil marriages, do we need them at all?

I've long been of the opinion the the state should not be in the business of issuing marriage licenses. And with Prop 8 passing, and now being protested in CA, the topic has been on my mind.

I believe marriage is a personal, communal, moral, and for most a religious endeavor. I think any steps by our legislature to define it encroaches on our liberties. I don't believe any man or woman loves their spouse any more because the state endorses it. Neither do I believe parents love their children any more.

Marriage laws permeate our legal system, so we'd have to make other adjustments to account for this.
  • If civil marriages go away, so do common law marriages.
  • Inheritance: We already have to deal with sticky inheritance issues when couples are not married, so our legal system can handle it. Wills would be more important for married couples. But, they're a good idea anyway. If they prove too expensive for some Americans, we could easily take some of the money we save by eliminating the civil marriage bureaucracy to make sure every American over 18 can have one.
  • Child custody: Again, we already have to deal with thorny custody battles when parents aren't married. Children should go to the parent who can best care for them - nothing else should matter.
  • Social Security: I believe it is unfair that married couples are allowed to leave their social security benefits to a spouse, but single (legally single, which includes those in marriages not recognized by the state) folks do not. I think the benefits should either end when you die (which would have the added benefit of decreasing the burden on an entitlement doomed to collapse), or each individual should be able to choose a beneficiary.
I'm no lawyer, and I'm sure there are more issues than these, but I think the change would simplify our legal system and make it more fair.

I'd love to hear discussion from others on this. And, please don't think I'm delusional enough to think this has any chance in reality. I just think its a good idea.

My next post will touch on the response I've seen to this idea before.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Targeted Facebook ads

I've been in a relationship for a little over a year and a half, and it recently ended. I subsequently updated my Facebook status from "in a relationship" to "single". I also just had a birthday, and Facebook knows this too.

This morning, I'm going through my Facebook photos, and I notice this ad on the side:
37 and still single?
To which my inner voice replied, "Why, yes I am. And fuck you for asking."

I also got this one on a subsequent page:
10 Mistakes Guys Make: The 10 most dangerous mistakes you probably make with women and what to do about it.
I can tell you one mistake I made - using Facebook when I am in absolutely no mood to be told what's wrong with me.

I'm a capitalist at heart. I don't blame Facebook for allowing targeted ads. Google pays my bills with the same thing in search and GMail. And I certainly can't argue with the effectiveness of their targeting mechanism. Blasting the recently singled with dating advice is, I'm sure, marketing gold.

But it still pissed me off.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

How should I feel about the election?

So, I'm digging the "yes we can" videos and Obama's acceptance speech. I look forward to not cringing every time my nation's leader speaks. I anticipate being much less ashamed of our leadership, especially in regards to torture and civil rights. I think Obama has a real chance to improve our image overseas. And we don't have a vague open-ended occupation in Iraq ahead of us.

But, there's a lot nagging at me, too.

Let's look at all the Republicans had going against them this election:
  • An incumbent with one of the lowest approval ratings ever. A republican (the supposed fiscal conservatives) who's nearly doubled our national debt in 8 years.
  • The worst financial crisis of the last several decades, at least. Worst since the depression, if you believe the most pessimistic views.
  • A VP pick who - geez, I won't even go into it all. In short, the least qualified VP candidate ever. And 2nd place isn't close. Republican insiders were sniping at each other over her selection in the last few days before the election, and even more dirt is emerging now.
  • Republicans had no clear consistent message, divisive ads, and angry racist rhetoric at rallies that seemed to go mostly unchallenged. The democrats ran a much much cleaner and smarter campaign.
And McCain still got 46% of the popular vote. He really might have won this thing without the financial crisis. 

I want to believe we've turned a corner, big step forward in race relations, crushing defeat to Rovian tactics, yadda yadda yadda. But I'm afraid we might have just gotten lucky.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

2008 election, inside the numbers

Projected electoral votes for Obama (somewhere between 349 & 375 once MO and NC are called). This article argues we shouldn't call it a landslide. Why?

Electoral votes for Reagan over Mondale in 1984. 525-13. Cripes, I didn't remember it was that lopsided.

Sadly, this might have helped California's proposition 8 pass. Its success was fueled in part by a large African-American turnout (10% of voters) who were strongly in favor of marriage discrimination (70%, vs 49% for caucasian voters). I guess I'll have to stick with women if I want to get married any time soon.

# presidents who were younger than Obama will be when inaugurated (JFK, Bill Clinton, and Grant).