Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tea Party Update

Just wanted to take a moment to point to some coverage of the Tea Party movement by the Christian Science Monitor.

Saturday Weigh-In: February 28, 2009

Weight: 364.4 lbs

Total Weight Lost: 27.4 lbs in 42 weeks (0.6 lbs / wk)

It's really kind of depressing. I started out doing well on my weight loss plan but since Hurricane Ike I've been hovering around the mid-360s. On the plus side, that means I've adopted a way of eating where I'm happy with what I'm eating but I'm not putting on any weight. On the minus side, I haven't reached my ultimate goal of getting down to around 200 pounds.

So what has gone wrong? Basically when things have gone wrong I've used them as an excuse to indulge myself in foods that I like but that I shouldn't eat quite so much of. With Ike, of course, it was phrased as I didn't have much choice but to eat what food I could get. Then I got sick in January and again in February and that was a convenient excuse to stock up on lots of pasta. I mean, making dinner doesn't get much easier than boiling a pot of water and tossing in some spaghetti. It's something I'll have to watch out for in the future.

I'm better now and there's no excuse for not eating right. I've even got new shoes specifically for going out walking in so we'll see how well I do at getting back on track.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Houston Tea Party

As Congress prepares to pass a $400 billion spending bill filled with over 8,000 earmarks, i.e. pork, after having just passed a $1 trillion pork-filled "stimulus" bill that the Congressional Budget Office admits won't have any real effect on the economy for a couple of years, people in Houston and around the country decided the time was right to hold a tea party. Inspired by the Boston Tea Party, these citizens are protesting people who have been fiscally responsible being forced to subsidize those who have not been fiscally responsible. I think CNBC's Rick Santelli summed things up quite nicely.

If you haven't heard anything about this before now, that would be because most of the media has decided that thousands of people staging a tax revolt isn't newsworthy. Look for more non-coverage on April 15 and July 4 when more tea parties are planned.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Camille Paglia vs. the Fairness Doctrine

I love Camille Paglia. Don't get me wrong. I probably disagree with her political views more often than I agree with her. I just admire and respect her intellectual honesty. Whether I agree with her or not, I know that she's put some real thought into the issues and come by her positions honestly. She doesn't just blindly parrot the party line like so many people do. Which is why I wish more liberals would listen to what she has to say about the Democrats' plans to revive the Fairness Doctrine.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Irony is a Muslim man founding a business in Buffalo for the purpose of portraying Muslims in a more positive light and then beheading his wife who was in the process of divorcing him. Here's a suggestion. If you really want people to think better of you, not cutting someone's head off would be a good place to start.

Who Watches the Watchmen

As March approaches I'm eagerly looking forward to Watchmen.

Watchmen was a very important comic book series from the 80s that helped comics gain acceptance as being acceptable entertainment for adults.

The comic book is set in a dystopian world in which there is a single superhuman, the god-like Dr. Manhattan.

In this world, superheroes have been outlawed as dangerous vigilantes.

The comic opens with the last remaining mask, Rorschach, investigating a man's murder only to discover that the murdered man was the Comedian, a fellow hero and member of the Watchmen.

There has been some concern about translating the comic to the big screen. I think the concern is justifiable. The comic was a piece of art. A lot of thought went into it's creation. Not just into the story but the artwork, the back up feature, even the layout of the panels. It will be interesting to see how good of a job Zack Snyder has done turning that into a movie.

Those not familiar with the comic book should be aware that many issues, as was common with many comics, featured a "back-up" comic called Tales of the Black Freighter. This pirate comic at first appeared to have nothing to do with the Watchmen story but as things progressed it actually proved to be fairly important. This story won't be included in the movie but will be released separately on DVD on March 24th.

You probably don't need to see it to enjoy Watchmen, otherwise they wouldn't release it two weeks after the movie, but if you enjoy the movie you might want to check it out. Though I may wait until Watchmen comes out on DVD to see if they include Tales of the Black Freighter as a special feature.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Few Words about Gay Marriage

Let me begin by saying I'm not gay and I'm not married and neither of those things is likely to change any time in the immediate future. That means I don't really have any stake in the gay marriage argument. That said, here are my two cents on the subject.

On the one hand, gay and lesbian couples want the same legal rights and protections as heterosexual couples. I can't say that I blame them. As far as I can tell, from my completely unscientific and rather limited observation, most people don't have a problem with that.

No, the problem seems to come in when religion gets involved. Most of the arguments that I've heard against allowing gay marriages stem from people's religious beliefs. Given that it's no surprise that one of the biggest sources of support for California's Proposition 8 was the Mormon church. Which I find rather ironic given that Mormon marriage practices are considered rather questionable themselves by pretty much every religion that doesn't practice polygamy. Just goes to show that being discriminated against doesn't preclude you from discriminating against others.

Now I'm not one to believe the Constitution requires total separation of Church and State. The men who stamped "In God We Trust" on all of our currency weren't afraid of religion. What they were afraid of was a church effectively taking control of the government with church officials governing the country instead of our duly elected representatives. This is what the First Amendment says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

That's a command to not establish a state religion and to not interfere with people's religious practices. Now obviously we do interfere in some religious practices. To use an extreme example, if you practice a religion that calls for human sacrifice you're going to be out of luck here in the United States. However, gay marriage is not human sacrifice.

There are a lot of religious practices that offend me. For example, I find it offensive that Catholics believe that it's okay to sin as long as you confess your sin to your priest and then do whatever penance they give you. (Yes, I know that's not the Catholic church's official position but it's how pretty much every practicing Catholic I know views things and it's a rather obvious mindset given the church's rules.) It doesn't matter if I find that offensive because the First Amendment gives them the right to believe whatever they want.

What I find far more offensive than gay marriage and isn't sanctioned by the First Amendment is using the Constitution to make religious discrimination the law of the land. This is exactly what people supporting a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman want to do.

Your church doesn't approve of gays getting married? Then I guess gays won't be getting married in your church. If there's a church that believes it's perfectly okay for gays to get married, and obviously there are, then there's no reason they shouldn't be able to get married in that church and you can console yourself with the thought that they don't have a proper marriage just like you undoubtedly tell yourself that any religious practice you disagree with isn't a proper religious practice.

The government isn't supposed to support one religion over another but that's exactly what's happening here. The obvious solution is for that since marriage is clearly a religious institution the government should get out of the business of defining what is and what isn't a proper marriage. Instead let each religion decide for itself what constitutes a proper marriage.

Of course if the government isn't going to be sanctioning marriages then it shouldn't be attaching legal rights and protections to them either. Now it is in our society's best interest to confer those rights and protections so let's confer them through government sanctioned and completely non-religious civil unions with existing marriages being grandfathered in. Then people can get married in whatever church they want and just file a notice of civil union with the government. As an added bonus people who don't want to have a religious ceremony, such as atheists, but do want something a little more elaborate than standing in front of a Justice of the Peace could have some sort of civil union ceremony. It might even create a small industry around civil union ceremonies.

Seems to me like everyone would win except, perhaps, those people who can't stand the thought that not everyone shares their religious beliefs.