Thursday, August 30, 2007

The gay/straight divide

No surprise, everyone's talking about Larry Craig these days. In all the coverage, I find it interesting that everyone assumes they know what makes Larry Craig tick. He was looking for sex with men, therefore he's a closeted homosexual. Now I think they're probably mostly right, because I can't think of another reason why someone in his position would risk so much for a chance same-sex encounter. But nobody even seems to question the notion that he's either telling the truth and he's all hetero or he's lying and he's all gay.

It may be a shocking thought to some, but a guy can actually suck a dick (or want to) and not be gay. In the media especially, male homosexuality is treated like the old one drop rule for blackness - any sexual contact with any man at any time makes you all gay. This is clearly nonsense. Anone who's thought about it a little bit will realize that sexuality is a continuum. Not only that, but I think you have to consider physical sexuality and emotional sexuality as two different things. There are guys who will fool around with other guys, but have no interest in actually dating a guy. And this is even more clearly the case with women. And there are women who will sleep with men, but have relationships with women. There are even people who can actually go both ways romantically and sexually, although I would bet these are fairly rare. Sexuality isn't nearly as one dimensional as it's made out to be in the media.

A conservative senator, trolling men's rooms for anonymous sex with strangers, is probably not just an incidental homosexual. There has to be more behind that desire. But it doesn't necessarily mean his marriage is a sham either. Clearly, if he falls anywhere but 0 on Kinsey's scale, he's a self-loathing hypocrite, deserving of whatever publicity he gets. But the way our country handles questions of sexuality is just juvenile. It's like we're a nation of 10 year old boys ("Ooh, that's so gay.")

Update: A couple of comments made me want to clarify my points. First, I'm not trying to defend Craig. He's absolutely a hypocrite, whether he's all gay or not. I'm just using Craig to point out the media's portrayal of sexuality as black or white.

Second, I do have personal experience of the continuum of human sexuality (I'm not just extrapolating from porn), but anecdotal evidence is unconvincing is isolation. The important thing to look to is statistics like Kinsey's, which show a sizeable segment of the population identifies as neither all gay or straight.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Mortgage Crisis

I just read this story at CNN. Pretty typical of the kinds of stories we're hearing now, unfortunately. There was one quote that kind of pissed me off though -

David Downs, a professor of real estate at Virginia Commonwealth University, believes blame for the current quagmire falls on all involved. But he says the consumer should be held accountable first.

The consumer? I agree that the consumer bears some blame. We should all be very careful what we sign up for, especially when the stakes are so high. But David Downs, professor or not, sounds like a typical blame-the-victim asshole. Look, these lenders knew they were making bad loans. They didn't care because they were selling the loans anyway, so it was good, quick profit. Who cares about next year, right? In many of these cases, if there wasn't outright fraud, there was definitely very shady activity designed to cover up the inherent instability of the loan. The lenders are the experts on this, not the consumers. Mortgages are complex, and consumers trust people that are supposed to know better.

This seems very similar to the consumer financing industry as a whole. The banks give out money like candy to bad risks left and right, and then, thanks in large part to our asshole president and his party, aren't held accountable at all. So the consumer bears all the blame when money was almost forced into his hand. The banks just write it off because they expect a certain amount of default anyway. This doesn't even get into the borderline fraudulent practices they practice on servicing credit card accounts.

Anyway, to David Downs and all his ilk, fuck you.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Billy Joel - Uncool?

This morning I was listening to a little bit of Whad'ya know? on NPR. It was a repeat of a 2005 show where Michael was talking to Chuck Klosterman. At one point Michael asks Chuck something like "So you like Billy Joel?", but with a smirk in his voice like he was asking about Barry Manilow. Then after Chuck talked about an interview he did with him, Michael asks "Since you like Billy Joel, what about Neil Diamond?"

I'm confused. It's not that I care what people think about Billy Joel, but I've never heard of any kind of uncool easy listening type stigma attached to him in pop culture. Obviously, everyone's familiar with the jokes about Barry Manilow, and I guess Neil Diamond has a kind of easy-listening vibe going which some people think is uncool. But Billy Joel? His catalog is pretty mainstream pop-rock, and he has at least one all-time great song in "Piano Man". It just struck me as odd. So wha's up here? Am I missing something, or was Michael Feldman just trying too hard to be funny?

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dumbasses in the news

Ok, I'm using the word dumbass a lot today, but it's just so appropriate. My wife forwarded me this link. I'm sorry but all I can say is C.T. Martin is a dumbass -

Baggy pants that show boxer shorts or thongs would be illegal under a proposed amendment to Atlanta's indecency laws.

The amendment, sponsored by city councilman C.T. Martin, states that sagging pants are an "epidemic" that is becoming a "major concern" around the country.

"Little children see it and want to adopt it, thinking it's the in thing," Martin said Wednesday. "I don't want young people thinking that half-dressing is the way to go. I want them to think about their future."

The proposed ordinance would also bar women from showing the strap of a thong beneath their pants. They would also be prohibited from wearing jogging bras in public or show a bra strap, said Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.

The proposed ordinance states that "the indecent exposure of his or her undergarments" would be unlawful in a public place. It would go in the same portion of the city code that outlaws sex in public and the exposure or fondling of genitals.

The penalty would be a fine in an amount to be determined, Martin said.

Not only is it virtually unenforceable and unconstitutional, it's idiotic. Hey, some people can't dress themselves. We should make this illegal? If you don't want your kids showing their underwear, then address it at home. It may look ridiculous when people's pants are around their knees (does it ever), but who's it hurting? It's not the government's job to enforce fashion. There's absolutely nothing indecent about any of the stated examples. I swear, these idiots really want to live in some dictatorship controlled by their own personal morality. I have an idea, Mr Martin, why don't you take care of your morality, and I'll handle mine and my kids'. Keep your fucking nose out of it.

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The Dresden Dolls

I was looking through the Zune Marketplace (see below) and noticed that they listed the Dresden Dolls as similar to Gogol Bordello. Angleos had a post with one of their videos a few weeks ago and I liked it. So I thought I'd return the favor and post The Dresden Dolls best song (among many that I like), "Girl Anachronism". If you like this I would highly recommend getting their two albums.

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Subscription services, DRM and record company dumbasses

As some of you know, I got a Zune for Christmas. In short, the software blows, the very high potential of this device is unrealized by baffling decisions by Microsoft, but it's a very good music and video player nonetheless. So I've been watching a lot of tv shows on it at the gym, and I have my whole music library on it, with much room to spare.

I've been thinking for a while that I really want to try to find new music, but I don't have lots of time and money to invest. So I checked out the Zune Marketplace. Their music catalog seems to be pretty thorough, not quite up to iTunes level, but not too far off. I decided to try their $14.99 monthly all-you-can-eat plan, figuring that would be a good way to try stuff without paying a bunch of money. I'm not into subscription plans as a final solution. I want to have full control over my music, and I don't want to worry that I can't listen anymore if I don't pay an ongoing fee. But as a means to try new stuff, it seems ideal.

First up, I decide to try Kid Rock's Devil Without a Cause, based on Toast's opinion of it as the second best album ever. I locate it and open it up and there are a total of two songs available for download. WTF? What do these record company dumbasses think - that because I can't listen to them and see if I like them that I'm going to buy them outright? Fuck that, faced with the fact that they've blocked them from my subscription, I'll probably either a)never hear them at all b)listen to a friend's copy, and probably just copy theirs, or c)download it from Sharezaa just to stick it to the greedy bastards. In no case will they get money from me now. However, if I had listened to the album and decided I liked it, it's highly likely I would have ordered the CD off Amazon (DRM free, of course).

Second, I look to see what Beastie Boys they have, because I lost my copy of Licensed to Ill. I find it and now look, not only can't I download anything from the album, I can't even buy the crippled DRM versions they sell through the marketplace. Now, I already know I like this album, but treating me like this does not make me want to buy the album (again). I was able to download Solid Gold Hits but not the more comprehensive The Sounds of Silence.

Finally, I decide to see what they've got for Sarah Brightman. I already own all her albums but I was interested in seeing what they had. I noticed they had a CD single with a new song released this month. Of course, it's the only one of all her songs that's not available for download. So now, I can't see if I like it, which means I'll never spring for the single. I may get it someday if it's on a future album.

The marketplace does have a pretty good catalog, and there are a lot of songs you can access through their subscription service, but there's enough shit like the examples above to make it more annoying than satisfying. Who are these morons running the record companies? Between their unfathomable support of a technology that doesn't work and actually alienates their own consumers and their reactionary stance on the availability of digital music, it's amazing that these guys are still in business. Hopefully, the recent softening of EMI toward DRM will become a trend. I think there are a lot of people like me out here, who are willing and able to pay for our music, but on our own terms.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007


I ran across this story on CNN just now. In a nutshell, it's about Travelocity paying a fine for inadvertently arranging travel to Cuba several years ago.

Here's the thing. I'm ok with the government warning me about foreign locales because it's dangerous to go there. I'm ok with them recommending that we don't go. I'm even ok with them banning certain business activity with foreign countries. But I don't recognize the goverment's right to tell me, a free citizen, where I can and can't go, especially outside of this country's borders.

Unlike Libertarians, I do understand and support that certain rights are abrogated in the social contract we make by taking part in society. You don't have a right not to pay taxes. But you do have a right to travel wherever you please.

Now I'm no martyr. Although I don't recognize the legal or moral right of the government to ban me from traveling to Cuba, I do recognize that they have the might. I don't care to go to Cuba, but if I really wanted to, I should be able to, without the threat of fines or jail time when I come back.

And that doesn't even address the other major part of this issue - that sanctions like these don't even work. They didn't work in Iraq, they don't work in Cuba, they don't work in North Korea. All they do is starve the populace and create anti-American resentment that their leaders use to stay in power.

They're not even applied consistently. By all rights, we shouldn't be doing any business with China. But I actually think China is a better model to look at. Although still terribly behind in civil liberties and human rights, they're very slowly moving in the right direction. I think a lot of that is due to their engagement with the rest of the world.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

To Catch a Con Man

So there's not much on and flipping around I came across this Dateline episode with the title above. I guess they got tired of catching pedophiles or something. Anyway, they're focusing on the internet con men that try to scam people out of money with the promise of millins of dollars for your trouble. Frankly, as long as these scammers aren't preying on old people or the mentally disabled, I really don't see any reason why their scams should be illegal. Taking money from people who give it to you willingly because they are stupid shouldn't be a crime. They make excuses for the "victims" of these scams on the show by saying they had never heard of the scam or that the scammers are very sophisticated and do a good job of making the scam sound realistic. But that's all bullshit. If you fall for one of these things, it's for one reason only, because you're a fucking moron. Either you're a moron all the time, or your greed has temporarily turned you in to one, but either way, you are a moron.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Dear Hasbro

Stop making fucking Transformers toys that don't fucking transform. I told my son I would buy him a couple of new Transformers, so we went to Toys R Us, only to have to explain to him that his first three choices didn't actually transform. Then I had to watch as his face got sad and he said "Aaaaawwwwww." Actually, now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure there were more Transformers there that didn't transform than ones that did. It's hard enough trying to explain things I actually understand to a four year old, but when he asks "why do they make Transformers that don't transform," all I can come up with is that the people at Hasbro are fucking idiots.

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Golf stupidity

This is ridiculous. I get that golf is a game where honesty and sportsmanship are valued, certainly more than our other major sports where cheating is ok as long as you don't get caught. But this scorecard thing isn't about honesty, it's just red tape. Clearly, the PGA is big enough that they can have someone else keep score. Obviously, they have someone else check the scorecard. They could just correct these mistakes and notify the player. Intent and circmstances should count for more than crossing some imaginary "scoring area perimeter".

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My greatest live sports moment

I haven't been to nearly as many live sporting events as I would have liked to, but even so, I was lucky enough to see a few really amazing games in person. This one was the best.

The Setup: Florida State had been ranked #1 all season long until a terrible loss in South Bend against Notre Dame. Notre Dame was ranked #2. Fortunately we scored a late garbage TD to get the game within 7. The relatively close score on the road meant that the voters only dropped FSU one spot. We swapped spots with ND.

So we fucked it up again, just like 1991 and 1989 and 1987. But then, out of nowhere, Boston College beat Notre Dame in South Bend on a last second field goal. We were back in business. Now we had one game left, at Florida, who were also ranked in the top 5. Michelline and I had never been to Florida so we decided to go down and try to get some scalped tickets

The Game: We got to Gainesville and waited outside the stadium with about $100, I think. We couldn't find anything until midway through the first quarter when we were able to get a pair of tickets while we were trying to get to a sports bar. If you've ever been to a big time college game, you know that they oversell the stadium, and nobody pays attention to those numbers on the bleachers. It's usually standing room only, standing sideways. So we found our way over the the FSU section and got in on the edge.

We dominated early, getting into the red zone 3 times, but only getting 13 points. We went in at halftime 13-7, but felt pretty good because we had been moving the ball great and shutting the Gators down.

And we came out the same way in the third. Scored 2 more TDs to go up 27-7 and let a 3rd get away when Charlie Ward threw an interception in the end zone. That's when things started to turn a bit for the Gators. They scored a TD to pull back within 13, and when we were just about the score another TD to most likely put the game away, William Floyd fumbled inside the Gator 10. The Gators took it down for another TD and suddenly the score was 27-21.

So now it's under 6 minutes, FSU has the ball on their 21. Gators can take the lead with a TD and they have all the momentum. The crowd's going fucking nuts. First and 10, incomplete. 2nd and 10, incomplete. Now the noise is unbelievable. It's the single loudest place I've ever been in my life. The stadium is throbbing with the noise. The air is kind of shimmery, like you can almost see it. I can't talk to Michelline, even if I yell into her ear. My stomach is in knots because I know we're letting it slip away. And then this (Watch out for the sound the last 2 or 3 seconds, it kind of breaks up) -

It was all over after that, even after our shitty kicking game reared its head and we missed the XP. I've never heard a crowd go from so loud to so silent. Of course there were a few thousand of us FSU students screaming like crazy. We finished 33-21, and went on to win a National Championship, finally.

That was the best. I'm all drained now from writing about and watching the video (thank you, YouTube). Anyone else out there have a great live sports moment?

Maybe I'll do a post about my worst live sports moment, if I can dredge through the trauma. All I remember is wide something or other.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Eight is Enough Meme

Toast tagged me with this blog meme, so I figured I should give it a shot, even though I'm way too lazy to post much normally these days. Also, I'm very bad at any kind of self analysis, so don't expect anything earth shattering. Certainly nothing as disturbing as Toast revealed. I also won't follow his lead of posting geeky pictures from 20 something years ago for everyone to laugh at. I'm supposed to post some rules, but I'm with Angelos, fuck the rules. If you really care, you can see the rules at my brother's post below.

1. I'm really bad at any sort of self analysis. See, I already stole the first one right from the introduction.

2. I eat almost nothing. Not quantity, I mean, but variety. I don't like much. Someone at work made a list of things that I will eat, and it has around 50 things on it. That's probably a little high as it has redundant things on it, and also has a lot of things that I will eat, but never do. In reality, I normally eat just a handful of things. Other than it not being particularly healthy, which I'm starting to worry more about as I get older, it doesn't bother me at all. But for some reason other people are very concerned with what I eat (or don't eat).

3. I hate abbreviations. I almost never abbreviate anything. I just don't understand the point. I'm a pretty mediocre typist, and I have no problem typing things out in full. Standard abbreviations, like states don't bother me so much, but when people start abbreviating things like video game and movie and book titles, it really irritates me. Especially when the context doesn't make clear exactly what the abbreviation stands for.

4. I'm very calm and easy going in real life. By the amount of shit I complain about online, that might not come across so well. But the few people who know me both online and in real life say that I'm very different in real life, and I suppose that's pretty true.

5. I hate poetry. I've never read a single poem that I enjoyed, and have no desire to try and find one if there perhaps is one out there somewhere.

6. I've worked at the same company for all but 4 months of the last 17 years. I got hired before I graduated from high school and started a few days after.

7. I never wanted kids growing up. I always like them, but never had any desire to have any of my own. My wife had three kids already when we got married, and as I realized all the neat parts of their lives that I missed when they were little, I realized I did want my own kids. We had to do IVF to have one, but luckily it worked out perfectly and my son is now almost 5 years old. I can't imagine now why I didn't want kids before.

8. I'm really, really cheap. I buy the generic Wal-Mart brands whenever possible, and I buy as much stuff as I can at the dollar store. I think some of it comes from not having much money for a significant portion of my adult life, but even if I made a million dollars a year, I still think I'd buy the cheapest thing possible in many cases.

Ok, there you go. I'm supposed to tag eight people, but since I doubt I have eight readers left, and most if not all of those would have been tagged already by Toast, I'm going to tag the first eight people who find this through a Google search. You're on the honor system.

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Eight is Enough Meme

It's been a while since I did one of these. This one is more interesting than some of the others that float around. Toast's list was enlightening (and mildly disturbing :)). Here are the rules -

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.

2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

3. People who are tagged write their own blog post about their eight things and include these rules.

4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged and that they should read your blog.

5. 8 is a magic number. Not three.

1. I don't wear deodorant. I don't need it. Certainly, there are times when I get sweaty and a little odiferous, but I just wash. Generally I smell the same when I get home from work as I did when I left in the morning. I believe there are a lot more people who could get by just fine without deodorant or antiperspirant, but they've been brainwashed by the hygiene establishment.

2. I have a hard time relaxing if there's work to do. You might not know it if you saw all the shit there is to do around my house because, well, there's a lot of stuff to do, and I had to come up with a coping strategy. So, in order to really relax in the afternoon or evening, I have to do something productive that day. Right now I'm sitting amongst several piles of debris from our office, which we're in the process of cleaning out. I'm ok with it because I have a plan to deal with it, and I got other stuff done this weekend. So I rarely have weekends or even single days where I do absolutely nothing. Even on football Sundays, I'll mow the grass or something.

3. I am extremely hairy. About the only place I don't have much hair is the top of my head. I'm not sure why it happens that the spot that people care the most about having hair on is the spot most likely to lose it. I mean, have you ever heard of someone losing their back hair? I'm fine with my baldness though. I cultivate a distinguished bald pate, like Captain Picard.

4. It's nearly impossible not to like me. Now I know you're thinking 'I already don't like you, you arrogant ass', but honestly, I get along well with everyone. A large part of that is that I'm non-confrontational, to a fault, actually, so I don't often give people overt reasons to dislike me. The rest, of course, is due to my sparkling personality.

5. The first novel I remember reading was Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein. I was probably 10 or so. I didn't like that one much. My Dad really likes a lot of Henlein's early stuff, and gave me Glory Road next. It was better, but I never got into Heinlein much. I'm more of an Asimov guy.

6. I love to travel. Everywhere and anywhere. In my ideal hedonistic dream life, I would have a nice little place to live where I would spend almost no time. Even now, I get antsy if we don't have at least a weekend trip planned in the near future. We generally go on 3 large vacations per year - cruises, Europe, weeks in the mountains, interspersed with several long weekends to Orlando. We're saving up for Christmas and a December cruise to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary and it's so far away it's killing me (and my wife).

7. I'm a Dallas Cowboys fan because my dad was. We didn't have a home team (Atlanta and Miami are both 5 or 6 hours away), and my dad liked the Cowboys of the 70's. Like most boys, I wanted to be like my dad, so I picked them up. Of course, my dad is a lukewarm football fan now, and has shifted his allegiance, such as it is, to the Jaguars. Stinking traitor.

8. I was blessed with what some may call a tin ear. All my music is ripped in WMA format at 48 kbps. Any audiophiles reading this would now be apoplectic probably, but I've played these 48 kbps files side-by-side with their uncompressed parents, on fairly decent sound systems and heard no difference. Maybe under ideal conditions, in some special sound room, I could appreciate the differences, but honestly, I never listen to music under ideal conditions. I listen in the car, at the gym, doing yardwork, at work at my desk. I figure I get just as much enjoyment out of my music as an audiophile, with far less hassle and grief.

Ok, since everyone I know in the blogging community has already been tagged by Toast, I'll just tag my wife, Michelline, 8 times.

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Our Fridge

Here is our fridge, prompted by the Question of the Moment over at Toast's place. I'm not sure if this is the window to the soul of our home, but I think you certainly get a sense of what's going on by looking at our fridge.

First off, you'll notice we have great taste. This is evidenced by the Harry Potter and Florida State magnets, the "Broadway in Jacksonville" flyer, and the Pizza Hut coupon. (Quick aside - I'm listening to some French rap song on XM U-Pop. French is usually a beautiful language for music, but I think it's met its match with rap. Really a jarring sound.)

Second, you see that we have kids. If you open the large version of the pic, you might be able to make out the two blank chore charts in the upper left hand corner, one each for Tori and Libby. What you can't see is that these are several weeks old. The kids generally do their chores, but we suck at keeping track of them. Then there 's the summer camp sheet (that's the orangish one), and the Hillary Duff magnet.

A lot of the rest is just stuff we stick up there that we need to keep track of but can't find a better place for. On the magnetic board, you can see our reminder for our dental cleanings. All 4 of us go together every 6 months. That's coming up tomorrow. There's also our vouchers for our NCL cruise coming up in December. At least we got something from the bloodsucking credit card we carried nearly full for years.

So that's us. And in case you're wondering, we're going to be getting rid of that god-awful wallpaper next month. As a bonus, I've included the side of our fridge below. It's the home for the unused magnets.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Beer Blogging

This isn't something I normally do, since my beer tastes are pretty normally lowbrow and not worth the trouble. But I won (suck it losers) Toast's 100000th visitor contest, the prize for which was a beer. So, yesterday, I got beermail, and after putting it in the fridge overnight, I tried it out today.

Berkshire Brewing Company Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale

The Bottle: I mention this because first of all, it was some kind of weird size, I don't know if they use the metric system or something, but it was bigger than the 12oz Icehouses I normally drink. Also, I tried to open it for a few minutes with no luck, the cap just wouldn't twist off. I was about to give up on getting it open, but then I discovered that the end of my can opener doubles as some sort of archaic bottle opening device, so I was able to get it open with that.

The Pour: As I'm not into this beer blogging stuff, I'm not sure what this section is supposed to be about, but I always see it in other people's beer blogging posts. Needless to say, I didn't pout it, I drank it straight out of the bottle like normal people.

The Taste: It was pretty good. Smooth, no aftertaste. I liked it. Not enough to start drinking high quality beers instead of Icehouse, especially considering the price, but I enjoyed it.

Anyway, thanks Toast for the beer. Maybe I'll have a similar contest when my counter gets to 100000. If either of us is still alive by then, maybe you'll win it and I'll return the favor.

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