January 30, 2009

Religious School's Discrimination Against Lesbians Could Spark Witch Hunt

An appeals court in California recently upheld a decision that supported a religious school's right to expel two students based on sexual orientation.

If you're a religious person who actually believes that being gay is a spiritual offense, this might seem like a victory.

In reality, it's not. In fact, if the decision is upheld (they're trying for an appeal to the State Supreme Court), it could be the end of religious institutions that attempt the same form of discrimination.

Any religious institution that follows suit risks losing more than the many fantastic, religious, beautiful people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transexual church-goers. They risk losing all people who understand what's coming: a witch hunt.

The ruling doesn't just support a religious institution's right to discriminate based on sexual orientation. It gives religious institutions the right to discriminate against anyone, as long as they use religious beliefs to justify it.

Scenario: Orianne doesn't like Andrew because Andrew sometimes hums to himself. Whoops--Andrew ate meat on the wrong day and now Orianne can get him fired! Hooray for Orianne!

But boo for humanity.

January 22, 2009

Yes, Prop 8 is Discrimination

Some people are convinced that Proposition 8 (the California measure that limits marriage to one man and one woman) doesn't take away any rights from the LGBT community.

They claim that through things like a strong will, power of attorney, and more, an LGBT couple can have the same rights as a straight, married couple.

Let's take a look at how equal these scenarios are.



Situation One: A Man and Woman Want to Marry

Man: "Hi, woman. Let's marry."

Woman: "Okay. Let's go to the court house and get that done right now."

Man: "One simple document. How nice!"

Woman: "Easy peasy! We'll have time for coffee and a doughnut afterward!"



Situation Two: An LGBT Couple Wants to Marry

Partner 1: "Hi partner. Let's marry."

Partner 2: "Actually, that's illegal, but we can have all the same rights as a married couple."

Partner 1: "Oh, goodie. I'll call the accountant and find out how we can avoid the estate tax should one of us, heaven forbid, pass away before the other."

Partner 2: "Good thinking. I'd better call the attorney and find out how I can be allowed to visit you if you're ever in the hospital."

Partner 1: "Well, hey! That's not going to take much time at all! And after that, there are only one thousand one hundred thirty six more federal rights we need to get back in order for us to have the same rights as a married couple!"

Partner 2: "That's the spirit! At this pace, we'll be done setting this all up in about a decade--that is, if I don't have to take a second job to pay all the attorney costs and filing fees!"

Partner 1: "I suppose that will slow us down if you're working two jobs, but it's worth it, just to get the rights that we're not being denied!"



It's true. There are 1138 federal rights that LGBT couples do not have when they are denied marriage. Saying that LGBT couples can simply regain those rights by filling out paperwork, consulting expensive professionals, and paying processing fees for acquiring those rights is equivalent to giving all people the right to vote, but forcing some of those people to fill out special forms.

Thus, Prop 8 is discrimination.

And don't get me started on the psychological effects of facing people that don't recognize your marriage just because they have a specific interpretation of a book.

January 19, 2009

How Starbucks and Microsoft can Save the Economy of the Northwest

While I don't have an allegiance to Starbucks or Microsoft, I do want the Northwest's economy to do okay, both for my own eventual well-being and peace of mind, as well as those of my friends.

Here's how Starbucks and Microsoft can save the Northwest:

Starbucks

Quit competing with McDonald's and do what Starbucks does best: sell pretension. When people see the McDonald's ads aimed at Starbucks ("Four bucks is dumb. Now serving espresso."), they need to be reminded that, to a slave growing coffee, four bucks is not dumb.

Action Plan: 100% Fair Trade espresso drinks within one year. Bonus points for adopting standards better than Fair Trade. Boom. Everyone buying espresso drinks at McDonald's feels like a cad.

Microsoft

Develop software for technology needs that exist and will exist in the near future. This is way better than developing an entire operating system based on sucking resources just to justify replacing hardware that already has enough memory.

Action Plan: Cell phones are computers. Why don't they run on Windows? As much as I fear Microsoft becoming the dominant cell phone software company, it could save the Northwest. And, there's something to be said for knowing how to use a brand new cell phone without experience, just because you're familiar with the software. Hey, it's better than trying to convince people they want Vista.

January 15, 2009

Random Statements

Does the player rule the world?

What can you do to assign yourself a muffin?

A student wants to demonstrate fallopian inheritance.

If a court decides you are violating the copyright of a dog, it is time to run.

A student describes the underpinnings of societal mores.

The lines are triumphant.

Follow these steps if your computer is not behaving well.

When in doubt, it's best to organize the pottery.

Add a tourniquet.

What should the band do to make her feel better about the blues?

There are many more heavens than are dreamt of in your cupboard, Horatio.

Viruses hunt for dogs.

January 14, 2009

Roadnotes: Iowa

The following is based on events that took place a little while ago now; I can't even remember when.

We get off the plane.

The Sweetheart's all, "Look at the roads!"

I'm all, "Yeah. They know how to remove snow, here."

I beam with Iowa pride.

Xmas passes.

We box up stuff to ship because we didn't bring huge empty suitcases.

We go home, spoiled.

January 07, 2009

In a Cheesy Legal Thriller Novel, I am an NSA Goon

It's true. In the novel Case of Lies, by the author team up that calls themselves Perri O'Shaugnessy, I am an NSA goon. See for yourself:



Okay, the linebacker body type was a little off, but they got the silent act down. And I do like a good water.



Okay, sometimes it might look like I'm regarding people as Nabokov might have regarded a specimen butterfly before spoking it, but I'm not into decorative insect corpses, I swear. I try to respect the right of living things to die without being on display. Once again, though, they got the silent act down.



That does sound like something I'd say if I were NSA. But I'd probably follow this up with a discussion of semantics involving the word "nation".



I'll have to try the tie-yanking thing, though I'm not sure exactly what an angry tie yank means, or how it affects a conversation. Is that like saying, "Leave me alone already"? Or is it a "I'm getting angry. Hulk. Hulk. HULK!" kind of thing?



I used to chew on my fingernails when I was young, but I've given up the habit. In this novel, though, I'm not sure if this is a sign of me being frightened or bored. Or perhaps the Dietz character had to be mentioned because he wasn't in the previous five pages and people might wonder what he was doing for that entire five page conversation.

The suspense is killing me, but this is the last we hear of Aaron Dietz, the NSA agent, in this book. Maybe he just evaporates into thin air, as I hope to do when I'm ready to leave this world.

Cheesy Legal Thriller Question: If you were in a cheesy legal thriller novel, what would your character be like?

January 04, 2009

When Does a Problem Become a Crisis?

Having recently been on a bus with someone who claimed that Hurricane Katrina wasn't as messed up as the recent snow inundation of Seattle, I pondered the criteria required for a problem to become a crisis.

The problem: Several repeated snowfalls of 4 to 6 inches in a city with virtually no ability to remove snow.

The side effects: Reduced business viability in the form of reduced hours, reduced patronage, and the sheer impossibility of getting anything done when you can't go anywhere.

So, Seattle had some snow. Usually, the snow melts quickly. This time, it didn't, and more snow happened. Thus: a problem.

That being said and accepted, how much snow would it take for someone in Seattle to call in the National Guard? It would be unthinkable to call on the National Guard to get rid of a six inch snowfall.

But what if that same amount of snow fell ten times over ten days? It's like unpacking a suitcase: you take out one thing at a time and don't see any difference, until suddenly: there's the bottom of the thing, peeking out between the jeans and dirty underwear.

This only partially explains how Hurrican Katrina became a severely mismanaged crisis (especially since there was data that indicated a looming crisis). Nevertheless, in many cases, a crisis happens gradually, then suddenly*. You see the gradual changes, but it's hard to see each small problem as part of a collective crisis until it's suddenly too late.

Usually, there is no algorithm for detecting a crisis because a crisis is either easy to detect (example: a 200 foot wall of water about to hit your city) or the crisis is produced by cumulative effects (like moderate snowfalls that happen repeatedly for many days).

I'm not saying Seattle entered the crisis stage a couple weeks ago. I'm just pointing out that it could have, without anyone noticing, if there had been just a little more snow...and a little more...and a little more after that.



* Thanks to Hemingway, or whoever first used that phrase.

January 01, 2009

Remember to Plan for the New Year

As you make plans for 2009 to be even better than 2008, be sure to think of everything. Here's an example:

Things I need: a good roll in zee hay, a hotmama, hay