Full-Frontal Marriage: Here & Queer

Last week, the Supreme Court of the USA struck down a key provision of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (the provision which prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legalized by certain states and districts) in United States vs. Windsor and denied the proponents of California’s anti-same-sex marriage amendment standing to defend their proposition (which a lower court had made an injunction against) Hollingsworth vs. Perry.

This is indeed good news for same-sex couples, who can now marry in California, the most populous state, and will have federal recognition of their legal state marriages (in those 10+ states/districts where it is currently legal), receiving all the previously witheld federal benefits.  Moreover, married same-sex couples previously endured second class marriages, in which they were recognized by states, but considered “unmarried” by the federal government. Now, having the “second class” stigma removed reframes those same-sex marriages as completely legitimate relationships, which is an important cultural signifier that will help us move towards full equality.

Also, although, unlike Lesbian and Gay folks, some Bisexual and Trans folks were previously able to take advantage of full marriage benefits (depending on their partner and current legal sex), this helps to removes any gender bias that might restrict their choices (at least, in those 10+ states/districts in which it is legal). I believe this will help us move towards more open same-sex relationships and [trans/queer]gender expression, which is definitely a good thing for me.  🙂

However, while I totally support same-sex marriage (because marriage benefits shouldn’t be exclusive to opposite-sex couples and for reasons stated above and elsewhere in this blog), I wonder that we’re missing a few significant points: Continue reading “Full-Frontal Marriage: Here & Queer”

We Are One Boston (Bomb-Busters pt 2)

Following the hellacious Marathon Monday last week, I wrote up about my reaction to the news coverage and politicos (see Boston Bomb-Buster post here), unaware that suspects had been identified and that a terror-filled Friday (April 19th) awaited me.

That Friday morning, I awoke as usual in April, a bit groggy from the pollen seeping through my leaky window (allergies), and pulled myself together for work, only to receive a phone call as I was about to leave. It was my boss calling to inform me that our office was closed, due a “shelter in place” order covering various towns, including Waltham (my office location) while there was a man-hunt on.

I was utterly shocked. I don’t know why, but it never occurred to me that the perpetrators of the bombing would’ve stuck around in the area, nor that they would be identified so quickly.  I certainly would never have guessed that their capture would’ve involved multiple gunfights, a car-jacking, improvised explosives, nor shelter-in-place orders for multiple nearby towns.  I kept wondering, “Is this real?” Continue reading “We Are One Boston (Bomb-Busters pt 2)”

Boston Bomb-Buster

For the sake of posterity, on Monday, April 15th, Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts and the day I needed to resubmit my tax payment (for the largest tax I’ve ever owed, which bounced on first attempt due to lack of funds in my checking account), 2 maybe 3 “explosions” occurred in downtown Boston near the Boston Marathon finishing line, injuring a bunch of people and killing a few.  That’s all I knew on Monday, but of course further investigation has uncovered that these explosions were Improvised Explosive Devices, i.e., home-made bombs, and that more than 170 people were injured and 3 (so far) have died from the numerous sharp metal bits included with the bombs.

This Boston bombing and the news handling of it has elicited a complex mix of emotions and reactions from me. It is tragic and it happened in my adopted hometown, so it feels very sad and in a way personal, even though I didn’t know any of the victims. My heart goes out to those who were hurt and their family and friends.  On the other hand, I am feeling a lot of anger at the news people and politicians, many of whom seem to be pumping fists and fears, trying to make this into another “9/11” style world-changing tragedy. And I feel proud of my city, proud of my friends and fellow Bostonians who aren’t going to let that happen.

To all those directly impacted by these violent and unprovoked attacks, I send my sympathy and support.

To those who are not directly impacted, I want to say, OK, it was sad for a few days, please continue to support the victims, but otherwise move on. Let the justice department do their job and find the perpetrators, let the hospitals care for the injured  – nothing is needed from you, there are other things going on, just move on. Continue reading “Boston Bomb-Buster”

Culture of Violence

With each new instance of a mass-shooting or an otherwise “unjustifiable” gun homicide, the media is filled with pleas for “gun control,” without ever addressing the underlying issue – our culture of violence.  I don’t know if the proposed [weak] gun control measures would result in some minor reduction in bullet injuries or not, but they certainly wouldn’t result in any major changes if not accompanied by a cultural shift away from the idea of “legitimate” violence.

Although fantasy violence pervades our entertainment industry (movies, TV, video games, books, etc.), the fictional violence is not causal – our implicit endorsement of real-world violence is the root problem.  Propagandists have won the war of words in convincing us that any form of violence can be “good” or “bad” (and which is which can switch), depending on your perspective.

Law Enforcement vs. Criminal Acts, Enhanced Interrogation vs. Torture, Collateral Damage vs. Victims, Preemptive Strike vs. Invasion, Enemy Combatants or Insurgents vs. Soldiers or Freedom Fighters, Regrettable Death vs. Murder.  These are all terms which can be used to legitimize (e.g., Law Enforcement) or de-legitimize (e.g., Murder) the use of extreme violence. Continue reading “Culture of Violence”

The Future is Contraction

For centuries, much of human culture has been about expansion – expanding our territory, our populations, our access to resources, our communication, our economy, our influence.  One might argue that the 20th century was the epitome of bigger and better expansionism: two “world” wars among many international conflicts, extreme improvements in transportation (air travel, automobiles everywhere, better boats, trains and public transportation), and the ability to communicate instantaneously and broadly (enhancements to or invention of: radio, telephone, electronic amplification, television, various telecommunication networks, television).

The 20th century ideals of expansion were wildly successful – the world is more connected than ever before; resources, communications and people can and do regularly cross the globe. Our world has become interdependent, such that the well-being of a country like Greece can drastically affect other economies across the world, and vice versa.  And vast numbers of people, not just the super-rich, can purchase and use items manufactured and transported from afar, using fuel and craftsmanship from around the world. Advertisements, the threads of the 20th century economy, literally blanket the world, on billboards and vehicles, sports stadiums and events, flickering across every manner of electronic device, including those small items some of us carry with us everywhere as if they were our lifelines. Continue reading “The Future is Contraction”

Military Machine – not lean, but surely mean

The military is a machine, which has produced all kinds of amazing technology (e.g., GPS, internet, drones), but like many large machines, tends to make a mess of people.  I know a lot of people are pro-military, even those who are anti-war, and I understand that our strong military (in the USA) affords us a lot of privileges, but it really is a deeply defective institution, which causes quite a lot of harm.

In terms of leadership and purpose, the military exists to enforce policy and protect state interests, which do not necessarily coincide with interests of the population (either in the military’s home country or in the country being occupied or attacked).  The state leadership cares about status, world politics, economic and materials/energy security (e.g., oil).  Contrary to popular belief, the military does not exist solely to protect a country’s citizen population; although that is “one” purpose, it is seldom the actual purpose it is used for.

In terms of enactment, violence and killing has been consistently pursued as the desired course of action.  While American military-driven Research & Development has been off the charts, creating astounding technologies, it has been focused almost entirely on more efficient killing.  If a fraction of the same resources had been devoted to non-lethal combat (and better armor / protection for our own soldiers), we could be living in a very different world, one where we could win a war without devastating the population and infrastructure of our target country. Continue reading “Military Machine – not lean, but surely mean”

Intentionality vs. Violence

I don’t think intentionality is nearly as important as most people think.  Rather, it is actions that really  matter.  Actions affect others and the world, regardless of intent.

I heard in the news the other day that Turkey is having a fit because France has made it law that people in France cannot deny that Turkey committed genocide against the Armenian people. The newscaster went on to say that Turkey admits to killing a large number of Armenians, but steadfastly denies that it was genocide.  Is the term “genocide” really so important that it can make the historical slaughter of large numbers of an ethnic group significant or not?

This is the same with so-called “hate crimes”.  If you attack an individual for reasons specific to that individual or for reasons of convenience, that is somehow substantially different than attacking an individual due to some bigotry of the group that individual happens to belong to?

I can see that intentionality matters in terms of regular accidents (e.g., a car crash in icy conditions), but in terms of war or other acts of violence, intentionality should be irrelevant, but is instead used by as complete justification, as if a lack of intent to specifically kill the individuals who died completely excuses “collateral damage” in the case of missiles, drone strikes, carpet-bombing and other weapons of mass destruction.

That said, a mindful intentionality can help reduce the negative effect of one’s actions. If one deeply considers the effects of one’s [unintentional or habitual] actions, then one can change behavior to minimize unintended negative effects.

Epic Fail for the Environment: COP 17

The 17th Conference of Parties (COP 17) for the United Nations attempt to address Climate Change was an Epic Fail.

Basically, rich countries (including the USA) declined to consider any legally binding efforts and what good ideas were discussed were decided to try to agree to in 2015 (not to take effect until 2020).  Also, the Kyoto Protocol (the only global legally binding environmental treaty) is expiring next year and Canada, who failed to meet their agreed-upon standards is exiting the Kyoto agreement without paying the fines that they would owe, so even that treaty has proved ineffective.

Here are some links with details:

What does this mean?  We cannot count on world governments to help with environmental destruction at the global level – we need to focus our efforts locally and individually. Continue reading “Epic Fail for the Environment: COP 17”

Would you like some embryonic fluid with that?

I don’t understand why adult human beings consider it normal/healthy to eat fluids intended for infants or fetuses of other species.

egg imageEggs are embryonic fluid (albumin + yolk) intended for a microscopic organism to grow thousands of times in size into a baby reptile, bird, amphibian or fish.

Cow with uddersMilk is infant formula. Human breast milk is meant to help babies develop into semi-autonomous children.  Likewise for cow udder milk – intended for mostly helpless newborn calves.

How the unwilling donor animals are treated is sad, but regardless of the treatment, how can these fetus/infant fluids be deemed healthy for daily consumption by adults?

Eggs & animal milk are both over-full of protein, fat and cholesterol – far more than any adult needs.  Did you know that excess protein is converted into fat?  And that overconsumption of protein can cause kidney stones and leech calcium from bones?  And  that overconsumption of fat and cholesterol can lead to heart disease?  Did you know that USA is #1 in heart disease (primarily due to overconsumption of fatty animal products like milk and eggs)?

{Their} Mother Knows Best

take other species’
reproductive secretions
how can you eat them?


Murder is a peculiar and elusive category of killing.  It doesn’t simply refer to intentional (non-accidental) killing nor to offensive (non-self-defense) killing.  In fact, it really has no objective meaning at all – it’s entirely circumstantial, more of an exception than a category, much like the term “cruelty”.

If killing occurs for a reason or by individual(s) that a specific other person or persons doesn’t approve of, then it’s murder?!  If the killing is sanctioned by a government (its law enforcement, military, contracted mercenaries or approved rebel forces), then it’s “war” or “collateral damage”!? If done by a non-sanctioned entity (like by non-approved “insurgents”), then it’s “murder”?!

On the other hand, someone dying of natural causes can be considered murder – such as one’s son dying of cancer (when chemotherapy, a toxic treatment was not applied), but when one’s health insurance withholds potentially life-saving treatments, it’s totally fine!  Murder is totally contextual.

Authorized Life-taking

meat isn’t murder
neither is execution
nor kills by soldier