Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Incest Laws

So, social libertarians out there-- which should be illegal?

A man marries his biological sister whom he was raised with and has two kids.

A woman marries her biological brother whom she was raised with, but one or both of them is sterile.

A man marries his adopted sister, who was adopted at age 3.

A woman marries her adopted brother, who was taken in at age 12.

A man marries his stepsister. Their parents were married when they were five.

A woman marries her stepbrother. Their parents were married when they were twenty.

A man marries his half-sister but one or both of them are sterile.

A woman marries her half-brother and they have kids.

A man marries his biological sister-- whom he was separated from at birth and didn't meet until adulthood. They have kids.

Same scenario as above, with sterility as a factor.

First cousins marry and have children.

First cousins marry and have no children.

Second cousins?

An aunt and a nephew?

Where are the lines?

My outlook on it-- it should be illegal under all circumstances for two full-blood siblings who were raised together to marry and/or have children. People like that have clear mental issues and their kids would be messed up, physically from inbreeding and mentally as well.

If one or both proves sterility? Doesn't matter. Still the mental issue, potential for abuse, etc. Should they be jailed if they are incestuous? Nah. Order them into counseling and set up a restraining order to keep them apart.

What if they didn't know each other as children, though? If they met as adults? Well, this is rare enough that I figure that saying they can marry as long as they prove sterility first, for the sake of any kids. They weren't raised together. They may not even have known for a while. They're probably messed up a bit, but not the same as if they had been raised together.

I've always thought the guidelines should be:

-If they were raised in the same household since before one or both hit puberty, no marriage. Even if they weren't biologically related at all. If they weren't, then they should be able to marry. This wouldn't apply to large group homes or anything, naturally, only family situations where they are raised as siblings. There is a big potential for abuse there and on top of that to be attracted to someone whom you perceive as a sibling and have always perceived as a sibling is a sign of mental issues. Natural hormones developed from growing up in the same household should have made your siblings and parents seem sexually gross to you.

-If they are immediate family, full-blood or half-blood, or they are the aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew of their potential spouse, they should not be allowed to have children. Well, more specifically, they should not be allowed to marry unless they prove sterility, and if they have children they should not be allowed to raise those children themselves. Also, they shouldn't be allowed to adopt, because we really don't want whatever made them think this wasn't vile to get passed on to the next generation, and there's too much emotional baggage involved anyway. If there is sterility and the first guideline doesn't apply, they should be able to marry.

-If they are first-cousins, they should be able to marry as long as the first guideline doesn't apply. However, double first cousins-- ones that are cousins though more than one line-- shouldn't be able to have kids. North Carolina has the right idea with the distinction between double cousins and regular cousins, I think.

And of course all the laws should be made to include homosexual relationships, which should be treated the exact same way, only in all cases, of course, the sterility would be guaranteed, and they shouldn't be allowed to adopt. Two full-blood sisters shouldn't be able to marry. An uncle and nephew? Sure, as long as there's no sign of child abuse previously and both are of age. However, if your brother and your son want to get married, I think you need to seriously consider seppuku. Or at least a nice, comforting lobotomy and a change of identity.

And yes, the very thought of it makes me feel icky. Incest in any form to anyone closer than like a third cousin makes me feel icky (that's why it's nice that my boyfriend is a completely different ethnicity). It's gross. It's taboo. There is very little redeeming about it and it should be REALLY, REALLY discouraged by religions, parents, teachers, society as a whole... but that doesn't mean it should always be illegal. Laws should protect people from other people, protect minors from everything, and protect the mentally disturbed from themselves. So in many cases where there's a likelihood that it's not a case of mental issues, and there are no kids, there are no victims. It's gross, but then again, so are lots of legal things, like open-casket funerals, scat porn, rocky mountain oysters and Michael Jackson's face.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

In America, Sex Scares YOU!

Ah, Halloween costumes. The time of year where children get to dress up like ghosts and witches and adults get to dress up like sexy ghosts and sexy witches.

Dear God, Halloween dance Friday night-- five French maids, about five sexy witches of some sort, a sexy nurse, two schoolgirls, a sexy 1920's gambler, a sexy angel, a sexy Hogwarts witch, a few sexy pirates and at least four prostitutes, or as I like to call them, "sexy sexies."

Which I actually don't mind because there weren't any kids there, though I do wish more people had been creative about it, or that there was at least more options in stores (my best friend Vivacia had HORRIBLE luck finding one and finally went with the pirate idea, though she wears pants with it). Don't get me wrong, though, I like sexy Halloween costumes. They're fun and they let people get away with letting down their repressions. I only wish that guys had sexy costumes, too. I have seen "Muscle Man," "Breathalyzer" (guess where you blow), and "Hefner," which count as adult costumes, plus couples costumes, which are rarely anything BUT dirty.

The only objections I have towards the sexification of Halloween is a) People who wear sexy/revealing costumes around their kids or to hand out candy-- come ON, set a good example! or b) when the KIDS are wearing sexy costumes. Honestly, when we went to the Halloween store to get Ryter a Byzantine soldier costume, they had one labeled "Child's French Maid." Child French Maid? Then "Preteen Girl Firefighter" which was really a "sexy firefighter" for kids, and pretty much half of all the girl's costumes-- for YOUNG girls, not even TEENAGERS-- were basically smaller versions of the adult women's costumes. The high school cheerleader costumes bared the midriff. REAL high school cheerleaders don't even show their midriff!

For that, I partially blame parents who can't say no to their kids (which is why they would buy that sort of thing) but also, I blame the manufacturers. What designer thought, Oh, let's make the kids French Maid costumes! and got away with it? I mean, maid costumes, maybe, but these are like SHORT skirts. And why does a female prisoner costume have to have a skirt? Is there anything wrong with making it pants? Or a firefighter, referee, police woman or army officer in camouflage? Why do we have "harem girls," can't they just be an "Arabian princess" or a "genie," and come on, cover the stomach, chances are she's going outside in cold fall weather anyway. It wouldn't be hard and it would make a world of difference.

Plus, in Halloween stores, they should have a kid's section, and then a separate, clearly marked (more than just a sign hanging over it, I'm thinking like how Barnes and Nobles has an arch over the one entrance to the kid's books section) adult section, with the normal costumes in one area and the "sexy" or suggestive ones in another. That way adults can dress however they want and have fun with it, and kids won't be exposed to the more obvious innuendo costumes.

Letting a child make their own choices does not mean letting them become sexualized at a young age. If they say "I want to be a prisoner!" and point to the striped dress, is it that hard to say, "Oh, great idea! But that will be really cold for trick-or-treating, and prisoners don't really dress like that-- why don't we get you a costume that covers more of your legs?" And if they whine, tell them that you could always MAKE them a Halloween costume-- either you're a good enough clothing maker that they'll love it, or you aren't, and they'll shut up.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Ephebophilia is Not Sick and Wrong, Just Skeezy

Genarlow Wilson was freed today. Thank GOD.

Sex laws in this country are ridiculous. They either seek to control women or to let women control men, never anything in between.

For the sake of this argument I am excluding pedophilia (sexual assault on someone who has not undergone puberty).


Statutory rape laws-- I call these "Daddy's Little Girl" laws because they all seem to say, "Oh, my precious little baby would NEVER want sex, that man must have COERCED her!" Yeah, right. My opinion is that if a teenager actually lies about her age-- as in, tells a person over the age of consent that s/he is over the age of consent-- then there should be a slight punishment for not bothering to check, never more than a few months in prison. What's more, S/HE should be punished for lying to the man or woman who slept with her/him. I'm thinking like a year of community service plus paying damages to the "offender."

However, if s/he merely lies by omission-- never says one way or another what his/her age is-- the underage person shouldn't be punished, but it should be a slightly reduced sentence for the overage person as opposed to if they actually knew beforehand their age.

Cases of ephebophilia-- and please, let's call it that, none of this "statuatory rape" or "pedophilia" crap, call it what it is-- sex with a teenager-- should be determined based on both consent, and if that consent was coerced somehow-- promising not to tell about some misdeed, or something. There is a difference between actually taking advantage of someone and only taking advantage of them because they're not really old enough to know better.

And for Pete's sake, people, it's not statutory if they're BOTH under the age of consent, if one is and the other is less than five years older than them, or if the older person was mentally incapacitated somehow, like if they were high. Stupid and unfortunate, but not statutory (it could be sexual assault, though, if s/he didn't consent). Age-based consent isn't like normal consent. Normal consent is cut and dry-- yes or no. Age-based consent is "Is she old enough? What if she's lying? Is that ID fake?" You have to cut people some slack.

At the same time, it's kind of skeezy to want to have sex with young teenagers. I'm just saying you shouldn't attack a guy because he thought that young, hot girl was worthy of attention and she turned out to be a year too young. Then again, I also think all drugs should be legal for people over the age of 18 and the drinking age should be lowered etc, etc. So clearly, I am a Libertarian idiot, at least according to most liberals.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Death and Taxes

Am I the only one who thinks there should be taxes on children, instead of tax breaks for them? Honestly. I know that you have to pay for your kid too but with so many programs designed to HELP kids and people who have them there should really be some kind of tax. That might also discourage people from having a bazillion kids. Honestly, especially if SCHIP ever gets passed, the government will be covering education and health care and after-school programs and scholarships and Social Services... and yet, we pay LESS in taxes when we have biological children.

Of course, this shouldn't apply to adopted children, because in that case the parents usually already have to pay an adoption fee and go through a huge hassle, and by adopting children who need homes they are performing a service for the community as well as gaining a child. Adoptive parents should get tax breaks still, and if the kid was older at the time of adoption, they should get more of a tax break. That might encourage some people to adopt instead of having biological children, as well.

I've always thought they should have a tax plan that said you pay x percent of your overall income in taxes for every biological child you have. Don't make it a lot of money, just enough to help offset the cost of properly educating them. And there should be a tax on in vitro fertilization as well. Call it a luxury tax. Besides, if you're having a kid at 50 or 60 they'll probably wind up becoming a ward of the state at some point when you keel over and die while playing catch in the yard.

I think that the tax code needs to be completely redesigned to be more effective, and on top of that, there needs to be taxes on specific things, either state of federal-- children and invtro fertilization, any drugs that might be legal (including cigarettes and alcohol-- a sin tax), non-reconstructive surgery (luxury tax), property (not a lot though-- New Hampshire property taxes are a bit ridiculous), income (a fair tax, not a flat tax), and gas-powered cars (to encourage people to switch to a more environmentally-friendly fuel, or at least bilk them until they do). Other than that, they should steer clear of taxes. Sales taxes are a hassle (although probably okay for big luxury expenses, like electronics) and meal taxes really shouldn't be at anything higher than the town level. Obviously there would also be a whole different set of taxes for businesses.

And yes, many of those things would affect me. The car, property, income, restaurant, and child taxes will all affect me some day. And yes, I am aware that taxes suck, but honestly, we have to pay our bills somehow. If the tax code seemed fair I wouldn't mind. I don't particularly mind even now, I just think it's flawed. Yeah, I know, I'm a libertarian, libertarians in New Hampshire are all tax dodgers, whatever. No society can survive without some tax paid to the government, and while I'd rather pay less and have them do less, they're going to do more, so I might as well do my part to keep them from plunging even further into debt.

Of course, some of the first things to do would be to improve the IRS, which is owed $300 billion more than it collects, and stop outsourcing to other companies, because we're paying them between 22 and 24 % of what they collect. To which I say, why aren't we just hiring more or more efficient tax collectors?


Also, there's commentary on another candidate, Fred Thompson, in the comments to yesterday's post.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Closing Comments on the 2008 Election Series

Meh. I'd do more Democratic candidates but I'm just doing the ones everyone seems to be talking about. I could do Edwards but I didn't like Edwards last time he was running and I don't like him now, and that's only partially because almost no one who wants to go into the medical field or is in it now likes him because he was once an ambulance chaser.

I think if the Republican party runs McCain or Romney, most voters will go Democrat. They are too reminiscent of Bush and the neocons. I'd vote Clinton or Obama over them, of course. If they run Giuliani, the Dems may have a challenge. They'll probably run Clinton, she's more popular.

My guesses:

Giuliani vs. Clinton: Could go either way, but there might be a knee-jerk NOT REPUBLICAN vote for Clinton. Also could be a knee-jerk NOT HILLARY vote for Giuliani. I'd probably vote for Giuliani just because Congress will be Democratic and Clinton + Democratic Congress = WAY too much power.

Giuliani vs. Obama: Obama is a pro-war Democrat who doesn't really seem to understand fiscal policy. Giuliani is a socially liberal Republican. There may be a knee-jerk NOT REPUBLICAN vote for Obama but then again a lot of people vote Republican by default even still. I would debate it a lot and likely go with Obama, because he hasn't come out in favor of executive authority like Giuliani, and because I think I disagree with Obama a little bit less than I disagree with Giuliani, which is a depressing thing to vote about.

I don't really agree with any of the candidates. I really want someone who pushes for spending cuts and peace talks, who gets along with other countries even if he or she ideologically disagrees with them. Someone who wants to focus on the deficit first and foremost, and once spending is cut in other areas, THEN will start to implement other programs. Someone who is socially liberal but who will leave most issues up to the states unless doing so involves the restriction of human rights.

Part 5 of the 2008 politics series

And now, Hillary's runner-up, Obama:

1. He wants to focus on ethanol as a fuel source, which is not really the best option. At least he's willing to consider nuclear research.

2. He has said he wants to EXPAND the military. And attack Pakistan, if he thought it would get rid of al-Quaeda; and Iran, if it was a potential threat to us. I want to get AWAY from this crazy enormous military that we use like Nanny 911 to the world!

3. He's totally pro-Israel too. See my Clinton comment.

Yet he favors stem-cell research, guaranteeing certain rights for homosexuals, ensuring that abortion remains legal, not allowing amnesty for illegals, and a merit pay system for teachers and increasing teacher salaries, which could go a long way towards improving public schools. At the same time, though, the programs he wants to implement would cost a lot of money and if he tries to do them before he pulls out of Iraq we'll severely increase the deficit. I think in that case his lack of experience is an actual problem because he doesn't seem to understand the fiscal difficulties of his plans. Either that, or he's lying through his teeth.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Part 4 of the 2008 Politics Series

My scintillating analysis of the 2008 candidates continues!


My problem with Democrats, who I still may likely vote for, is fiscal policy. And because Congress will be primarily Democrat, most of their ideas will get through, whereas a Republican candidate might have to butt heads with them all the time. Like Clinton-- I hate her proposed ideas for fiscal policy. Also, she's opposed to free-market capitalism. But there are some other big issues I have with her--

1. She's totally pro-Israel. See my comment for McCain.

2. She's in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants.

3. She wants to maintain a military presence in Iraq indefinitely. I figure we should get on our knees, beg the UN to help them, and pull out.

4. She wants to ban flag burning too.

5. She believes in executive authority, like Giuliani.

6. She's very pro-drug legislation.

7. She ALSO doesn't want to guarantee rights for homosexuals, though at least she likes the idea of civil unions.

8. She wants to ban certain very violent video games. I don't mind banning kids from them but I don't like the idea of banning adults from them.

What I agree with-- she supports stem cell research, she has good stances on environmental issues, she's decided that she doesn't like No Child Left Behind or education vouchers, and she won't ban abortion at the federal level.

Plus, I'd rather the first female president wasn't a) a former First Lady, b) so strongly pro-family and THINK OF THE CHILDREN!-ish, and c) such a stereotypical "liberal female politician." Just because I'd rather we had out first female president be a bit more like our first male President-- you know, beloved by the majority of the population, and not just "better than the alternatives." Not that I would let that influence my vote.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Part 3 of the 2008 Politics Series

I'll do the last two Republican candidates together because there's no way I'd vote for either of them, and here's why.


Mitt Romney:

1. He is very anti-abortion, though he may allow the states to decide. That's uncertain.

2. He supports No Child Left Behind, charter schools and vouchers. As stated before, I pretty much hate all those ideas.

3. He is pro-abstinence-only education, which is moronic. Abstinence-only education DOESN'T WORK. Duh.

4. His stance on environmental issues is basically "if it immediately hurts humans, stop it-- but if it doesn't, and we can get money off of it, then screw long-term effects!"

5. He opposes rights for homosexuals.

6. He would push to limit stem cell research, which could save millions of lives.

7. He opposes medical marijuana.

8. He approves of Guantanamo, and will not allow the prisoners there to have judicial review, which is a violation of the Geneva Convention and besides, it makes the US look like total hypocrites because we insist that everyone treat people in their countries a certain way and yet we don't do it ourselves.

9. He would increase troops in Iraq and continue that war.

10. He would refuse to meet with leaders of nations whom he disagreed with, or who are dictators. Now, I'm not saying we should appease every dictator who comes along, but there is a lot to be said for opening diplomatic relations with countries, even if we don't really like their methods.

I agree with his stance against censorship, against prayer in public schools, for encouraging tech research (well, it's better than other uses of the money),and that he opposes amnesty. None of those are strong enough to make me want to vote for him, ever. He's conservative on social issues AND he's a war hawk.


As for the final Republican, John McCain:

1. He wants to continue the Iraq war, increasing troops, and wouldn't be opposed to invading Iran.

2. He is completely pro-Israel, and anti-Palestine. I'd rather we had a President who left Israel/Palestine alone, because there's too much emotion and religion wrapped up in that, and we don't need to be involved. Not that we should stop aiding Israel, but we should stop being so overt about it.

3. He would keep Guatanamo Bay as it is, like Romney would.

4. He is very pro-drug legislation, which means no medical marijuana and more of the "War on Drugs."

5. He supports school vouchers.


7. He wants Roe v. Wade to be overturned, and he is against birth control and contraceptives. He would push to redefine not just fetuses, but embryos as well (an embryo is what you call it between fertilization and the 8th week of gestation) as people. He also is a supporter of abstinence-only education, which means that not only can young women not abort the mistakes but they won't know how to prevent them in the first place.

8. He wants to ban flag desecration, which is just stupid.

9. He favors amnesty for illegals. I've always thought they should amend the law so that you are not a citizen if you are born in this country but your parents are here illegally, and make it easier to get work visas. Then continue deporting and more importantly protecting the borders. With the ability to deport whole families instead of just parents, and the fact that many illegal aliens come here to give birth so their children can live in this country, that would cut down on the number of illegals. Amnesty just says "Yeah... I know we said you can't come, but we'll let it slide this time. But in the future, YOU CAN'T COME." Any kid knows that when a parent talks like that you can get away with it any time you want.

In fairness, he does at least want to allow stem cell research (unlike Romney), though he would regulate it, and favors merit-pay for teachers (a strategy I like as long as they get MORE pay for doing well, not LESS pay for doing poorly). He also would leave the gay marriage question up to the states. He opposes drilling in Alaska and ethanol subsidies, which is good, and wants to reduce the deficit. But none of that can make me ignore the fact that he wants to attack science education AND sex education and make it illegal to even take a morning-after pill. He's religious right. No thanks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Part 2 of a Politics Series

Continuing with my 2008 campaign commentary... This was interesting for me, as I actually learned a lot about the candidates and what they stand for.


Of course, Ron Paul most likely won't get the Republican nomination-- and the main candidate, Rudy Giuliani, isn't really the kind of person I would vote for:

1. In the past, he has used government money to build massive stadiums in New York. While it's not like he'll do that in DC it's a bad sign in terms of fiscal policy.

2. He'd be willing to go to war with Iran just to prevent them from getting nuclear weapons. I don't want Iran to get nuclear weapons, but it's hardly the US's job to decide that. We aren't the Middle East's nanny. Along the same lines, he's been rather anti-UN.

3. He wants to send more troops to Iraq and continue the war there. Now, the current system is not working, clearly, and I find it problematic that a potential Commander in Chief would support a system that isn't working.

4. He likes Bush's idea of domestic surveillance. BAH. I have nothing to hide (unless my discussing plans for the evening is a terrorist plot) but it's still an invasion of privacy.

5. He likes education vouchers. I'd prefer to make the public schools we have better than to just give parents permission to pick whatever school they want on the taxpayer's dime. Exceptions are of course important for children at the extremes of the spectrum (the uber-geniuses who are doing calculus in the third grade and the developmentally challenged kids who are focusing on learning how to communicate their basic needs obviously can't be easily integrated even into a good public school) but most kids getting vouchers would be average kids like me who just need a decent, well-funded, well-STAFFED public school.

6. He wants to allow prayer in school and more importantly, the posting of the Ten Commandments and other such documents focusing on a certain faith. I view this as a violation of the first amendment because it's saying that one religion is "best" in the eyes of the government. I guess I wouldn't mind posting the Ten Commandments, as long as Hammurabi's Law, the eight precepts of Buddhism, and the five pillars of Islam are next to it. As for prayer in schools, private prayer and moments of silence are one thing, but a public school should not call such moments "prayer" or lead groups in prayer.

7. He is opposed to medical marijuana. As a firm opponent of drugs I say make them all legal, at LEAST medical marijuana.

8. He has stated that he approves of radically conservative Supreme Court judges like Scalia. Which means that he might appoint someone similar.

9. He believes in executive authority, which is just scary. A president should NEVER believe in executive authority. Bush believes in executive authority. How's that working out for us?

I like that he is pro-choice, he accepts evolution as fact and thus would likely be in favor of requiring public schools to teach it, he is in favor of guaranteeing certain rights for homosexuals, he supports stem cell research, and he believes in global warming. However, I think his stance on executive authority, his approval of conservative judges, and his views on domestic surveillance and his approval of the Iraq war would be too much for me.

Part 1 of a Politics Series

I'm gonna be doing a little series on how I feel about politics now, and then another one in a year or so when it actually matters...


Since I usually identify myself as a libertarian, everyone's been saying I should vote for Ron Paul. It's unlikely. My biggest concerns with him are:

1. Against gay marriage and adoption, and in favor of "don't ask, don't tell. Admittedly with a Democratic Congress he wouldn't be able to do a lot of damage. But he could block legislation that could secure rights for homosexuals, even if it doesn't involve federal money. He wouldn't try to ban gay marriage at a federal level, but at the same time he wouldn't allow laws that would prevent states from invading people's private lives. I know it won't happen for a long time, but we really need a constitutional amendment saying that the government cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, same as we needed one that said they couldn't do it on the basis of race (There's not enough discrimination against women any more to warrant making that an amendment).

2. No federal money for schools. The one way in which I am really, truly not libertarian is that I think that we need to provide for children and the mentally handicapped or ill. But again, it's unlikely he would be able as president to decimate the federal school funding system, and on top of that at least he would push to repeal No Child Left Behind.

3. Anti-abortion. But he's agreed to leave the question of abortion to the states, which is something. With a Democratic Congress, which we will most likely have, that wouldn't be too disastrous.

4. He opposes the UN.

However, I agree with his fiscal and international policy ideas, and the concepts of state's rights and minimal intervention at the federal level. I've always felt that the only thing the federal government should enforce on the states are basic human rights and equality, and if necessary, protections for minors and the mentally handicapped/ill. Ideally the states would take care of the minors and mentally ill themselves, but they don't.

But I most likely won't vote for Ron Paul because of his stance on the rights of homosexuals, and I wouldn't vote for him anyway unless it looked like my vote didn't really matter in terms of keeping the religious right out of office.

Monday, October 15, 2007

And yes, I fully admit I bought her "Drive Me Crazy" Album. I was 10!

At the risk of following the trend-- my subject today is Britney Spears.

I'm sick of hearing about her. Not because she annoys me especially, but because it depresses me. This is a girl who is clearly, obviously mentally disturbed. She has substance abuse issues, repeatedly has mental breakdowns, has had her children taken away form her due to neglecting them and has been slowly driving her employees away. And what does everyone around her care about? Getting her career back on track.

She should never have done that MTV show. The execs should have said, "No way, come back once you've gotten your life under control." The music business should essentially blacklist her until she drops out of public eye long enough to undergo extensive psychiatric therapy, get clean, get at least joint custody of her kids and get back in shape. They have fancy counseling centers that cost a fortune and keep you away from the public eye-- why can't she go to one of those? The problem is she doesn't want to-- she seems to subsist off attention, probably due to bad parenting. The only way she will seek help is if she thinks that by getting it and getting back into the spotlight she'll get more attention.

The truth is, Britney Brand was pretty popular. She was very marketable. The music industry is trying to salvage her career by giving her a new CD, trying to give her a comeback, etc. They shouldn't. They want their money machine back, they need to turn her back into the pop star she was, only with a "sad period" in her life and maybe a book deal. Which means therapy.

If the record execs went to her and said, "We're dropping you, but if you prove that you can clean up your act and get mental help, we'll take you back" she might do nothing, at least not at first. But without a job and without her kids, she will eventually run out of alternatives. She will start to fade from the public eye, and that will terrify her.

In one of my more socialist thoughts, I wish that there was a way that people who were so obviously nutzo and were accepted as such by psychiatrists who only READ about them could be committed to an asylum against their will. Obviously such laws could be ripe for abuse and would need strict regulations on when and how they could be used, but seriously. Think of how many celebrities you hear about who really obviously need mental help. I'm not talking the Scientologists here, that's not the same thing-- but the Michael Jacksons who are addicted to creepy plastic surgery, the Mary-Kate Olsens who nearly starve themselves to death, and the Lindsey Lohans and Britney Spearses, who are trainwrecking their lives. No decent psychiatrist or medical doctor will argue that Michael Jackson or Britney Spears doesn't need serious therapy, just based on their obvious, public problems. And yet, they're around.

Honestly, what would be BEST for Britney Spears right now would be if she bought a nice house out in suburbia, went to therapy twice a week, stayed clean and got a "something to do" job as a lounge singer or a waitress-- quiet, out of the way, and able to live out her life in peace. If she did that for five years, the paparazzi would start to leave her alone, because PTA moms are boring.

But she won't, because she's an attention whore. Instead, she'll try to get her life back in the stupidest ways possible and we'll read about her drug-related death on the evening news...

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Culture of Food vs. Exercise

In Western cultures at least, and probably in many others as well, there is a strange relationship between humans and their food. Specifically, the consumption of nutrients and calories, born out of survival instinct, has become an art. People make their careers not out of just turning raw materials into food, but doing it in the most tasty, artsy way they can. We have a culture of food-- first dates are always a meal or at least coffee, holidays are celebrated with feasts, people bemoan the loss of the "family dinner." We love to eat. We are even, one might argue, obsessed with eating. Keep in mind I am making gross generalizations and there are many people to whom this doesn't apply.

In primitive times, it made sense to celebrate food. Food was a sign of status, of privilege, because you had it. Now, the vast majority of people (in the Western, developed world) has basic food supplies. But instead of simply not celebrating with food, we celebrate with fancy food, tasty food, expensive food. We upped the requirements of "feast food." But we still love to eat, and thus, the rampant obesity in both this country, Canada and the UK and, to a lesser extent, mainland Europe.

At the same time, exercise is a chore. Again, generalizations, focusing on the average schlub and not the super athletes. We try to figure out times to cram in a walk or a trip to the gym. We avoid it if we don't feel like it, or if it's a holiday. If we excercise, it is because our doctors told us to, we want to feel better about ourselves, or we want to look better for the opposite sex (or the same sex, as the case may be). We tend not to do it because we want to. It's not pleasurable the way eating is. Is there "comfort exercise"? Do people ever say to you, "I can't stop exercising, I only do it because I'm stressed out?"

And yet, we need exercise as much as we need food, and in this culture, one is vastly more preferable and thus more available. The roles really should be reversed-- eating should become a maintenance operation, and exercise should be fun "family time." That's not going to happen though.

What could happen is that instead of the concept of a gym membership, where you pay a huge sum and then invariably stop going, they should have a gym that's more like a restaurant. You can go in and pay a little fee for the use of the machines for a workout of a given length of time. Include pay showers and rentable lockers, and put them everywhere, with nice long hours instead of the whole "closed at seven" crap. So I can stop by while running my errands, if I have the time, and pay $5 to work out for half an hour on the Stairmaster. No commitments, I don't get guilty if I don't come in, and if you could make them like Starbucks, put them everywhere, people might be more inclined. Especially if it was inexpensive. Maybe offer incentives, or have a "social room" and a "non-social room," so that those who wish to shoot the breeze can do so and those who wish to just work out quickly can also do so. And make the air very, very dry, but offer free camel packs (see picture) with a small charge for the mouth thing so you have a new one, so you can drink water as you work out. That will cause sweat to evaporate quickly and make people more comfortable.

Make it as convenient to exercise as it is to eat, and people may want to do the former a little more often. Then again, gyms pretty much LIVE off the guilt factor-- my concept might not work economically. They would have to open the first one in the upper-middle-class residential area of a big city, since city types are more likely to want to go to a gym.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


Every once in a while on Fark there will be an article about someone who cheated on their spouse and got some terrible and disturbingly humorous retribution, or whose infidelity was discovered in an interesting way. A while ago-- a long while-- there was one on how the US is the country that most disapproves of infidelity. Other cultures, particularly in Europe, take a "don't ask, don't tell" approach, or consider it people's private business, but in the US, several states still have adultery laws and infidelity is considered to be the WORST thing you could do to a significant other with the possible exception of certain bedroom behaviors a lady doesn't share in her online blog.

In fact, statistics say that 22% of married men and 14% of married women in the US have had extramarital affairs, and yet 90% of us believe, at least in public, that it's morally wrong. Keep in mind that all those statistics need to be adjusted for the inherent secrecy of infidelity. And couples counselors estimate that 50% of male clients and 40% of female clients cheat, according to Newsweek.

This harks back to our Puritan days. We are a comparatively very conservative nation. But at the same time, those who disapprove of infidelity aren't just the diehard Christians. You can be an American atheist and be furious to learn that someone you know is cheating or is being cheated on. It's not just a religious taboo, it's a cultural, social taboo.

I mean, no one wants to be cheated on, ever. But the WORST thing? Women will support their spouses while they sit in jail but if they cheat, it's over. I think I would prefer to find out my husband had a mistress to finding out he was a murderer, or only married to me for tax reasons, or poking holes in the condoms. Admittedly, there are serious health problems that can result from infidelity-- monogamous relationships don't pass on STDs. But that's not what people think when they first find out they've been cheated on. They think, I've been wronged.

What's even more interesting than our powerful cultural reaction to infidelity, however, is that it happens anyway. You'd think that with that much of a taboo stacked against us, cheating would be out of the question. But it isn't. Cheating happens all the time. Is it just a biological imperative to diversify the gene pool? But such liaisons don't usually produce children. You would think that the power of our collective morality would be more of a deterrent.

The other factor is, no one wants to be cheated on, and yet many people cheat-- why? Why do people think, It's okay that I cheat, but if my significant other did, then it's over? Some people claim it's justified-- He's busy at work, she's always too tired-- but in the end, no justification is enough if they are the abandoned one.

I wonder about this because the thought of cheating, for me, is unfathomable. I really can't imagine a situation where I would. Finding a date is HARD, why would I go back to it once I had someone? If I was truly unhappy in a marriage, I would divorce, after much counseling had failed. And yet, the first thought I would have if I found out my spouse had been cheating would more likely be, Oh, shit, did I get some disease? followed by Oh, shit, did he have a KID? followed by Why did he cheat, what have I been doing wrong, why didn't he tell me if he was unhappy, and oh god, what if he wants to leave me for her? It wouldn't be, He betrayed me-- he deserves to die, or at least lose as much of his money as possible in a messy divorce.

It's interesting.

Israel and Palestine

I've noticed something, in reading online forums and in talking to people. Very few issues are as hotly debated as that of Israel and Palestine. Threads on this topic are more vehemently debated than gay marriage. I think this is because in any given group, people tend to be either staunchly conservative, staunchly liberal, or moderate and not particularly opinionated on subjects like homosexuality, feminism, racism etc. But 90% of the people who know more about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict than the name have an opinion on it, and your normal political alliances don't really apply-- it's not like conservatives are pro-Israel and liberals are pro-Palestine or vice-versa. If it's at all important to them, it's REALLY REALLY so.

Of course, the time to really worry is if they're truly, deeply passionate about it, because then they will be furious if you disagree. I've discovered a system for knowing when not to talk about the conflict:

-If you believe that Palestine is right, or that Palestine might have some decent points of grievance, don't talk to someone who is Jewish, of Jewish ancestry, or has ever expressed any anti-Muslim opinions.

-If you believe that Israel is right, or that Israel might have some decent points, don't talk to anyone who is Muslim, anti-Semitic, or a conspiracy theorist because WHY are 90% the conspiracy theorists anti-semitic too?? Must be because "the Jews control the banks and the media" and all that jazz.

This causes a problem for me, because since I am not part of a major religion and the one I was loosely raised as is secular Protestant, I actually have a much more impartial view than most people I talk to. I think both have grievances, because I believe that the UN had no right to make Israel a country all those years ago and encourage Jews to move there, so the Palestinians have a legitimate complaint, especially since many laws are biased against them. At the same time, that doesn't give them the right to terrorize the Jewish people any more than living there gives the Jews the right to "fight back." The Israelis have a legitimate complaint in that all their neighbors are ready to kill them, they're much more progressive and can better handle the land than most of the Palestinians, and they've been there for so long it's not fair to kick them out.

Besides, everything in the Middle East is tied up with religion. You can't kick anyone out. And they can't live together, clearly. At this point the two groups have pretty much equal claims to the land, whatever they may want to do with it-- and although I know Palestine would enact Sharia law, I still say that it was their land to begin with and they have equal claim to it.

If I were Empress of the World... I'd wall off all the major holy sites. Jerusalem especially. Completely wall it off. Then impose martial UN law over the land, saying it no longer belongs to any nation. Ban Jews or Muslims or anyone who is known to have a strong side in the issue from that military service. Set up a number of gates, all strongly policed, sort of like the Vatican-- make sure that if you want to get in you haven't a single weapon on you and no history of terrorism. Inside the walls, put soldiers everywhere, with non-lethal weapons.

Then, split the rest of the land.

Make sure there is a clear, protected road from whichever country doesn't contain Jerusalem to the city; then force a mass exodus. Tell people which area is which. Allow the governments to (non-lethally) evict their enemies from their land. Make sure the land is divided by population and if you can, make sure they get comparable shares of the most fertile land. Will people be happy? No. Which is why you police the border like crazy and impose a major UN presence in the area for at least two generations.

Of course, this would hardly solve the problem but it would certainly hold of the inevitable. I would also pump aid money into this new Palestine with certain stipulations-- namely, that it has to go towards building schools and educating the populace (or as I would put it, "making sure you are at the same level or higher than your enemies so you can protect yourselves"), that it can't be used to manufacture weapons or it will ALL go away, and that all women must be educated under an improved curriculum until the age of 18, regardless of if they are married before then. Forcing them to educate their women or forfeit large quantities of aid would lead to a generally more educated populace, women marrying later (a man doesn't want a wife who has to go to school every day and can't watch his children), giving birth later, and hopefully getting a bit of empowerment thrown in with it all.

So clearly I can't just be Empress of the World, I also have to be God, because that's pretty much the only way this would happen. My boyfriend's probably right, just pull out of the region in a military sense, give money to the Kurds, and force major civil war that will drastically decrease their numbers.

Bah. Being an optimist is hard in this world.

The Case For Group Marriage

I am a big fan of legalizing stuff. I'm a social libertarian when it comes to adults. I've always thought laws should protect people from other people (i.e. no murder) and protect children and the mentally ill, but if you're of sound mind and body and you want to become a crackhead, I'm not about to stop you, unless I actually care about you personally.

But there's some things that are tricky.

Group marriage is a good example. I'm calling it group marriage because the term "polygamy" is used colloquially to refer to "religious-based polygyny" but "group marriage" both includes traditional polygamy and those weirdos where there's three men and four women and they all love each other.

Now, I think people should be allowed to marry how many people they want. And yet. There should be restrictions. If group marriage was legalized, you would have to say:

-All members would have to be over 18. This applies even if people can marry their first partner at a younger age, like how in Utah it's 14. Teenagers can be a lot more impressionable than adults and you want to hold off that sort of thing as long as possible. They need to be out from under their parent's control, and if my other idea of a national service was enacted, wait until they get out of the national service, when they're 20 or so. The longer they are out from under their parent's immediate control before the marriage, the better.

-All previous spouses must agree. Let's say a man decides he wants to marry his mistress, but he and his first wife don't want to divorce because of the kids, and his first wife doesn't approve. He can't just marry the second woman. The first wife has to give her consent before a judge and that judge has to make an effort to make sure the first wife was in no way coerced. The second wife would also have to be doing this of her own volition (and not under parental control or anything) and be fully aware of the man's situation. I'm thinking waiting periods and consent forms and opt-out clauses and everything.

-All partners have to have regular access to the mainstream community and the right to file a divorce if they so chose.

-You have to figure out certain logistics. Like what happens in case of a divorce? I say if one woman divorces her husband, who has three other wives, then she should get MAXIMUM 1/5th of his money and belongings. He should still have to pay normal child support though (and I favor abolishing alimony).

-Another logistic would be who makes the decisions? Let's say you're in a polyamorous marriage and one of your two husbands is on life support, but your third wife is radically anti-pulling the plug and your first wife thinks it's time. I say that unless the husband writes a living will labeling one of the partners as the decider it should be chosen by vote.

But there are other issues with group marriage, like the toll it takes on a society. Look at the Muslims, who have created an underclass of unmarried, very frustrated men who blow up buildings for God. Now, let's face it. There is no way that legalizing group marriage in America will make it mainstream, not with the above restrictions. There's too many Christians, too many empowered women, and too many educated men who understand the flaws in that system. You would have three groups who try it: Fundamentalist Mormons, who are doing it anyway and at least the prospect of making it legally binding and giving them validity would (potentially) make them come into the open and thus help us regulate the negative sides to it-- plus most of their practices would be illegal under my system anyway; very few Fundamentalist Muslims, mostly just-off-the-boat immigrants-- Westernized Muslims don't do the plural marriage thing; and nutty polyamorous people who are a tiny minority AND tend to be educated enough that people leave when they figure out that they don't like it.

If we make it seem to the religious polygamists that we are more accepting of their lifestyle, they will be a bit more trusting of us. Then we can start educating their children.* Once you educate the younger generation on your own you can start to empower the young women to protest, encourage the young men to see the problems in the system, and over many generations of Westernization the ideas will lose popularity.

Laws don't really change society, education for children changes society, and much faster.

*In an ideal world you would also say that no person can have more than two biological children. That would basically ELIMINATE religious-based group marriage, because those men don't want to support a wife who can't provide offspring. But that's unlikely at best.