Thursday, July 31, 2008

Random Thoughts

Denver's full of pussies. The big news story this week? 18 days over 90 degrees! ZOMGZ! Everyone, quick! Into the air conditioning! No one else in the world lives in such harsh conditions!

I mean, I know Phoenix jaded me to heat, but damn, people. At least it's not over 90 and over 90% humidity (I'm looking at YOU, Connecticut shoreline in August). And at least the temps will go down in another month. Phoenicians have to wait till December, you know.

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Fundamentalists are like children. They don't mean to be stupid, bigoted, simplistic assholes - it's just that they want the world to be tidy. They don't want to have to think about religion - thinking is hard.

I realized this while watching Hell House, a documentary about Trinity Church's Halloween "haunted house". One of their tableaux deals with The Occult (and yes, you hear the capital letters and the amorphousness of their idea every time they say it.). The script tried to convince people that Magic: The Gathering and Harry Potter books were going to turn us all into Satanists. I wish my Frustration roll had added a plus five to my Throatpunch of Common Sense, but alas - they were only on TV, which is a plus 10 against real people throatpunching them.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

100 Calories of Ire

I wish I could find the commercial on YouTube, so I could link it for you, but I'm sure you've seen it. Two women preparing for a party are filling bowls full of individual snack servings. One woman uses popcorn; the other, chips. The voiceover asks how much of the other guy's snack you really get for 100 calories. Not enough - but here, eat all this popcorn! Popcorn Lady's party is a smashing success; Chip Lady's party has women struggling on the floor for crumbs of chips.

I'm irritated by all the obvious crap: when women get together, we don't eat; we want snacks, but only 100 calories' worth; we wouldn't dare serve our friends something - GASP! - fattening.

But what gets me more than all of the sizeist sexist bullshit is the sheer rudeness of the commercial's premise. Think about it. Not only should the hostess decide what her guests eat through the appallingly passive-aggressive tactic of serving only one food, but she should also decide how many calories her guests ingest.

It's so amazing to me. Sure, a humourous ad can be expected to tweak good manners and common sense, but this is so far beyond a "tweak". This is a full-on, pearl-clutching etiquette horror. Have we really left common courtesy so far behind that it is now acceptable not only to comment on others' bodies, but to take an active role in shaping said bodies? To decide how other people should satisfy their hunger? To decree how sated someone should become?

And OF COURSE it's all women. Women deciding for other women how hungry they are. Women deciding that other women don't need to eat more than a hundred calories at any one sitting. Women deciding for other women which foods can be deemed acceptable.

Come to think of it, this may be the most brilliant 30-second distillation of female diet culture I've ever seen.

Too bad not a second of it can be seen as the least bit ironic or satirical. This isn't a wake-up call or a red flag: this is just life.

Kill the Gay Babies - It's Bipartisan!

With fewer than 100 days till the presidential elections, I find myself involved in more than the usual number of political conversations. At some point in every one, I reveal myself as a Libertarian, and have to hear the attendant ridiculousness about "wasting" my vote, and do I want Soandso to win? Because if I don't vote for Suchandsuch, Soandso is guaranteed a victory.

Please. I know there are many people whose concept of "principle" is shaky at best, and downright slippery most of the time. But I refuse to vote "against" someone, or to cast my lot with the "two" major parties in this country simply because they're expected to retain power. I want to vote for things. I want to be a principled participant in my country's governance.

I'm a Libertarian for a few reasons. One is that I believe passionately in the Constitution, just as it was written. I believe very little else is necessary for governing these fifty states, and that most of the ammendments made to it have been completely unnecessary.

I also believe small government is the best government, and the less the state is involved in my life, my body, my family, or my home, the better it will run for everyone involved. The same goes for the economy: the less the state is involved in business, the better the businesses run, the more money we all make - and get to keep.

But what led me to Libertarianism wasn't such a crystal-clear summation of my political philosophy. It was realizing that the two major parties are almost exactly the same. They both want to take and spend my money on things I don't want to pay for. Democrats want to spend my money on institutionalized racism and killing babies; Republicans want to spend it on institutionalized religious fundamentalism and making sure gay people don't have any rights. There are entire television and radio networks devoted to screaming angrily at the other side. The two major parties - Democricans and Republicrats - do nothing to advance the ideals of our Founders, and everything to turn this country into another Rome, sated on bread and circuses while we burn and Washington produces a thousand fiddlers.

So you go ahead and kill the gay babies. I'll be over here, wasting my vote on principle.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The signers of the Declaration represented the new states as follows:

New Hampshire
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton