Thursday, June 30, 2005
First of all, let me say that anti-discrimination laws, as they are currently written, are not to my liking. I am all in favor of making any law that is necessary to underscore the fact that any level or function of government should not discriminate against any citizen due to membership in the classes usually enumerated. In Maine, according to Village Soup, those are currently "a person’s race, age, gender, religion or disability." And I'd certainly be very pleased to see sexual orientation added to that list.
However, I do not agree with the notion that government should force bigots to deal with people they don't want to deal with, unless they're fulfilling a government function. If some jerk doesn't want to hire someone because they're black, gay or Swedish, I say fine, the rest of us are better off without them. I wouldn't work for or do any other business with anybody who was so idiotic, and that should be the end of it. We non-bigots don't need to waste our time policing the private activities of bigots. Bigots should have rights, too. Due to that reasoning, I would vote in favor of rescinding not only the "gay rights" portion of the law, but also the portions of the law for every protected class which do not concern governmental functions.
The thing that has me befuddled about the current campaign by the Christian Civic League, d.b.a. the "Coalition for Marriage," is their out-and-out misrepresentation that the bill which their referendum seeks to veto has anything to do with gay marriage. If it did, I would certainly be an ardent defender of the legislation, rather than an opponent. I want gays and lesbians to be able to enjoy the same wonderful legal relationship with their lovers that I have been blessed to undertake with my lovely wife, Rowan. It is indeed discriminatory on the part of government to disallow same-sex marriages. Ending that discrimination would be worth, perhaps, the imposition of some laws on private activity as well.
So keep working on it, Michael Heath. If you are able to convince me by November that keeping the recently passed legislation in place is the only way to obtain gay marriage rights in this state, I'll be casting my vote against your effort.
Monday, June 27, 2005
A few years ago, when the prisons in Maine went non-smoking, the Courier-Gazette was lambasted for printing an editorial that suggested prison staff might be tempted to smuggle cigarettes. They were right (a rare occurrence), and their point evidenced an understanding of the economics of the drug war. The fact that they caved from that position must have them feeling pretty silly now.
Categories: drugs, prison, politics, Maine
Thursday, June 23, 2005
First, as Jessica says, be honest. If you're worried someone might know (or find out) who you are, it's better to be vague than to lie. My wife lied a little bit about her appearance on her profile, but was immediately open about that when we started corresponding, and soon sent a picture that was really hers. At the time, I had no digital photography capability, so I had to mail her a Polaroid snapshot to a carefully disguised post office box. I dropped the camera after I took the shot, so an eerie green slime seemed to be dripping over my picture. That was an improvement to my appearance, I thought.
Second, read the profiles before you respond to them. If someone says, "no smokers," they probably don't mean, "I'll learn to tolerate your smoking because you're such a stud/babe." Don't just respond to someone because they're in the same town as you, and you see their IM is on. It wastes your time, and theirs.
Third, go with a premium service. My wife and I met through Matchmaker, which requires a fee to be able to view more than a few profiles or respond to more than a few people per month. When I listed my profile on that, I also had one on Yahoo Personals. At the time, it was totally free, and I got tons of useless correspondence from that. There were a few sincere soulmate searchers, but only one that I ended up meeting. Now it looks like Yahoo is charging money, which might weed out some of the chaff.
Categories: internet, dating
Last night, we went to the Colonial Theatre to see Paul Haggis' Crash, not to be confused with the earlier movie, Crash, by David Cronenberg.
It is an extremely well-written, acted and shot movie. Not a scene is wasted, tho you might not realize how important some details are till later in the movie. The characters all pull the viewer into their world(s) quickly. It runs the gamut of emotion, from deep despair to quirky humor. A leitmotiv is race relations, and Haggis' script pulls no punches when it comes to how groups view one another. Nonetheless, he manages to keep even the most racist character, portrayed with bravura by Matt Dillon, from being anything less than a three-dimensional character who finds some unsought redemption.
Other standout performances are by Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Thandie Newton and Jennifer Esposito. But every performance in this movie is very strong.
As for Cronenberg's namesake movie, I haven't seen it, but Rowan has, and says it's good.
One to look for on DVD is House of Flying Daggers. If you loved Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, you will at the least enjoy this movie. It lacks some of the emotional satisfaction that the earlier movie had, but its fight scenes are well done, and some care was put into making the plot. That's more than you'll get from just about anything Hollywood is sending out these days.
Tor and Rowan both give a nod of approval to Saved. It is an dark comedy about shenanigans at a Christian high school. Macohhowdoyouspellhisname Culkin is good as a wheelchair-bound little brother to one of the most pious girls at the school.
My favorite line from the movie comes from a girl who thinks she might be pregnant, but has heard that the symptoms could also indicate cancer: "Please let it be cancer! Please let it be cancer!"
When you use a phrase like Trial of the Century, you usually mean a celebrity affair, such as Fatty Arbuckle, the Lindbergh case, O.J. or M.J. The ruling that has just come down from the Supreme Court has flown under the radar of most folks, yet its implications for the expansion of government power in the U.S. qualify it for the title of Ruling of the Century So Far.
As the Associated Press reports, the Supremes have ruled that "... local governments may seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development ..."
For the record, I think the minority (losing side) in this case has it right. The AP quotes Sandra Day O'Connor's dissent:
"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," she wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."
One thing that most liberals or progressives have failed to see is that it is the great power of government that has led to the great power of corporations in our lives. Rather than acting as a buffer to the power of corporations, government becomes a tool of the corporations. That, in a nutshell, is why I am a Libertarian rather than a Republican or Democrat. Yes, I'm registered as an R for now, so I can try and influence primary elections, but I find myself voting for Ds quite often.
To paraphrase an earlier court ruling, a chill wind blows.... And when the government gets to decide that one party can make "better use" of property than another, and is "more deserving," and can confiscate it from one to give to another, that chill wind is communism.
Categories: politics, libertarianism
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Kidnapping young girls has long been part of the marriage custom in Ethiopia. Theestimates that more than 70 percent of marriages in Ethiopia are by abduction, practiced in rural areas where most of the country's 71 million people live.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
The customer (in a place called Mudchute, believe it or not) bid on two of my comics auctions that were ending about one day apart. After the first one ended, he paid me instantly through PayPal. I noticed that he was still the winning bidder (for 25 cents!) on the second auction. I emailed him, asking if he wanted me to wait and see if he'd win, or go ahead and send out two shipments if he did win.
Of course, somehow he hadn't realized that he had bid on two auctions from the same seller, and elected to wait and see.
It came to pass that he won the second auction as well, for the opening bid of 25 cents. The extra weight of the second auction wouldn't increase the shipping cost at all, so 25 cents was all that was owed. I wasn't about to ask for payment thru PayPal, because their transaction fee would have been greater than the amount sent. And having to wait for an airmailed payment from Mudchute in Merry Olde England seemed a little absurd, as well.
So I told the chap to put a coin in a local animal shelter's collection tin next time he was in a little store somewhere, and we'd be even.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Still with me? Here's a real-life example from today. Yesterday and today, the weather has gotten much nicer than it had been recently. Things are drying out, and it's getting warmer. Turtles are starting to appear in the neighborhood.
When I got home, I heard the extractor fan in the loft window was on. It's on a thermostat, so that wasn't any big surprize.
A couple hours later, I ventured up into the loft to water the plants that live there. I found the fan on the floor, and the window closed. I had taken the fan out of the window on one of the chilly nights, and closed the window, but had neglected to unplug the fan, or turn the thermostat to a position so the fan wouldn't turn on.
In other words, I had lived in a fantasy world for a couple hours, assuming that the fan was in the window, pulling hot air out of the house. I think we all live in fantasy worlds. Some of them are relatively inconsequential fantasies, like my fan's location. Others are truly of ultimate concern, such as the misconception that humans are important in the overall scheme of things; or, the equally horrible misconception that, since humans aren't important in the overall scheme of things, it is not important to try to live by some sort of moral precepts.
May we all strive to live free of our fantasies, or at least in some sort of awareness of them.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
The theater-going public is declining partly due to such horrors, and partly due to the fact that most movies aren't as good as most TV shows these days.
Since I moonlight as a projectionist at a local theatre, this is a subject near and dear to my heart. I think the matter deserves a hefty-sized injection of etiquette, both on the part of the movie-goers and the cinema staff.
At the Colonial Theatre, we have extra staff on hand for the early weekend shows to monitor the audience for excessive talking or other distracting behavior. We actually ask people to leave if they can't or won't allow their fellow audience members to pay attention to the movie. Our regular customers know that a complaint at the concession stand on any other night will bring quick remedial action.
On the other hand, we cinema staff must also mind our manners. We must strive to keep our voices down, lest they float into theaters and detract from the big-screen experience. At the Colonial, people who want to watch credits -- and there are more of them than most people think, even for perfectly dreadful flicks -- are allowed the courtesy of having the house lights at a low level, or off, as long as they want to watch. We don't send our cleaning crews in front of people who are still sitting and watching. They paid for their tickets, and they get to watch the whole movie. Period.
So if you find yourself in a situation like Slublog's, don't hesitate to complain to the management. Tell them there's a little theater on the coast of Maine that tries to keep the big-screen experience enjoyable, and if it can try, why can't they?
Once we've got our acts together, we can all gang up on Hollywood, and demand that they make more than one good movie per quarter.
Categories: movies, etiquette
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
First, a quick account:
MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) -- A Keene Libertarian who tried to board a flight carrying nothing but a Bible and a copy of the Declaration of Independence was arrested Saturday at Manchester Airport.
Russell Kanning, 35, was arrested after refusing to comply with security screening procedures and refusing to leave the screening area....
Kanning's demonstration was part of a larger effort by Libertarians to promote their belief in individual freedom and limited government. Others planned to start a private mail service, to call attention to the federal government's monopoly on first-class mail delivery, and sell bottles of liquor, in defiance of state liquor laws.
Now, I'm all in favor of acts of civil disobedience or demonstrations to bring attention to political or moral concerns. I've participated in my share of those, although not in the recent past. I'm especially in favor of the actions in the last quoted paragraph. But demonstrating against the security procedures in an airport, as risible and ineffective as they may be, does not seem like a way for a political movement to gain traction after 9/11. Sign me up for carrying a letter across town, but not for getting on a plane without some sort of scrutiny.
But it is nice to see Libertarians in the news. First time that's happened in a long time.
Categories: libertarianism, disobedience
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
A Buddhist meditation:
May all domestic animals be free of suffering
May they find companionship with loving humans
May their humans be free of suffering
May their humans be clear of thought
May all hoarders of domestic animals find the help they need.
Categories: Buddhism, meditation, animals, Maine
Monday, June 13, 2005
JPEGCrops lets you open all the JPEGs you want to alter, crop and rotate them in one fell swoop, and save the reformatted files to another folder so that your original files are still available. I just cropped and rotated 45 jpegs in about 15 minutes, and that was the first time I used the program!
I am such a mooch!
Friday, June 10, 2005
I remember my little brother, who just this week has become a father, was just the right age when MacGyver aired so that every episode was "must-see TV" before the phrase was known. At least that was a great improvement over his earlier obsession, The Dukes of Hazzard. (Somehow, he never noticed that they basically used the same plot week after week.)
As Pete, at least Elcar made the show somewhat tolerable for older siblings everywhere. For this, Mr. Elcar, a generation salutes you.
Categories: television, obituaries
When I read this story in the Bangor Daily News, I couldn't help but feel a dite nostalgic for the old Bob and Ray show on the radio. Now some of you may be thinking I'm dating myself, but then you probably don't know that the comedy duo had a show on NPR in the late 80s.
If you like very dry humor, try and find some samples on the web.
Categories: comedy, radio
Thursday, June 9, 2005
Tuesday, June 7, 2005
I couldn't help commenting on one student's observation:
"It's incredible," John Deans, 21, said. "We're really putting our mouth where we're walking."
Deans, a COA junior, volunteered to help coordinate recycling efforts as students lugged clothes, books and other detritus of college life out of their dorm rooms Saturday.
Some advice for senior year: take an English class, especially one that points out the pitfalls of mixed metaphors.
Monday, June 6, 2005
I have found the way to get the blogger comments into haloscan. For now, clicking on the permalink of any post will reveal the comments that were left via blogger. Right now they don't count as comments on the front page. I will have to manually cut-and-paste each comment into haloscan. This will be a back-burner project for me.
Sunday, June 5, 2005
I have to say that this is the first episode of the Star Wars franchise since The Empire Strikes Back that warrants multiple viewings. I actually enjoyed the second viewing more than the first, especially the battle scenes.
Friday, June 3, 2005
We both enjoyed one of the extras on the DVD: a half-hour documentary into the LAPD Rampart corruption scandal of the late 90s. It only tangentially fits into the theme of the feature, but it's riveting.