Sunday, August 03, 2003
That's what I've been saying. An article in the NYT on the hatred for Bush that has the democrats doing a lemming.
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I am not suddenly demented with domesticity. Benno is out of town this weekend and I am not only bored but procrastinating. I don't want to think about wedding stuff so soapmaking and knitting it is, aided by a few rented movies.
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Well I can see why some people prefer crocheting to knitting. Oish. None of the books have good pictures either. Nonetheless, I am knitting. One book. One afternoon. I have 3 rows done so far. Figuring out how the hell to cast on was by far the most difficult part. I can see why my old roomate had to find someone to show her how when she decided to learn. The book is like: here's where you are now, and this is where you want to be. But it gives few clues as to how to get from point A to point B. Fortunately I'm good at knots and knitting is just organized knotting.
This is what happens when you go to the craft store more than once in a weekend. All those lovely projects that called out to you the first time get another chance when your willpower is weaker.
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Boy would THAT be disappointing.
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I sure hope he gets approved and they decide to do same sex marriages. It'd be a blessing for a lot of catholics to have a gay friendly similar denomination. I imagine there'd be a lot of converting. Catholic politicians would probably feel the draw too, since they've been told they can't be pro-choice or pro-gay and still call themselves catholic. Schism and schism and schism. Whittle away that base. Idiots.
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So I'm going to make soap. We go through soap around here like you wouldn't believe. I've got all the stuff but I can't find my book. Operating without a recipe, I keep getting new ideas for stuff to add while I go along. I did make a big batch of lip balm last night. It turned out divine although it's unscented and unflavored. Perhaps I'll give some of it to my scent-sensitive friends. I also ran out of tubes. I'm very happy to have discovered the secret to de-grit shea butter.
Now I'm contemplating vast quantities of soap and trying to dissuade myself. But I could give it away as gifts! That way lies madness and I'm not about to start another business making soap. There are too many soapmakers already.
What about cinnamon soap? Everybody wants to smell like cinnamon right? Or bay rum? Though nobody seems to carry the essential oil. But I could order it online. It irks me no end that Benno hates lavender. What's wrong with him? Everybody loves lavender! I need girly smell ideas. Lilly of the valley? I know Bekki likes rosemary soap. Maybe ginger? I absolutely refuse to make anything rose-scented. The smell never goes away.
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Since Dan opened the calorie subject, I'll take a minute and share a new discovery of mine. 16 bean soup is tasty, low cal, fat free, cheap, and most important, easy to make and store. You just buy a bag of mix for under $2. (In the dried bean section.) You soak the beans overnight. Then you boil them for 2 hours. Best of all, you can have infinite variation of spices and other ingredients. I made some on friday and included: Penzey's Sunny Paris seasoning, a couple cubes of beef bullion, a can of diced tomatoes, and an onion. Muy tasty. Dinner and lunch plus 4 servings frozen in Gladware.
Beans beans they're good for your heart. The more you eat the more you fart. The more you fart the better you feel. Let's have beans for every meal.
I like that version better than the one I learned in grade school. On the topic: a little Beano in the soup makes it perfect in every way.
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USS Clueless has a fantastic article up on gay marriage and constitutional amendments.
"In any society, all recognition of liberties is a balancing act, a matter of tradeoffs. There must be always be compromises. Your desire to pop me one in the nose has to be balanced against my desire to not have my nose broken. Your wish to not have your home invaded by strangers has to be balanced against my wish to go where ever I want any time I want. Marilyn's need for privacy has to be balanced against Mark's wish to peek in her window while she's changing her clothes. It isn't possible for all of us to have everything we want. All of us have to accept certain limits on our liberty because those limits make possible the liberty of others in other ways. So we've decided that you don't have a right to break my nose, and I don't have a right to invade your home, and Mark doesn't have a right to watch Marilyn undress. We all accept some limits because we in turn benefit when everyone else accepts the same limits. (Few of us want our noses broken.) We try to make those tradeoffs so as to increase liberty overall, for as many people as possible.He's also got a good article on North Korea including a lot of history and a recent development that's cause for some guarded optimism. Following that that there's an article on xenophobic versus xenophilic cultures. All quite good. All worth reading.
I generally refer to the fundamental principle of liberty, and the best measure of it, as the right to scandalize the neighbors. We can determine how free we are by measuring the extent to which we are at risk of criminal punishment for behaving in ways that our neighbors dislike even though the neighbors are not significantly harmed by that behavior.
There is a long history of humans trying to control the lives of others "for their own good" "because it's the right thing to do." That's completely antithetical to the basic concept of our system.
The "right to drink" was one of those natural rights that hadn't been explicitly delineated in the Constitution but was inherently protected by the Ninth Amendment. Thus there was no Constitutional ability for the government to ban consumption of alcohol. The 18th Amendment was ratified in order to explicitly grant the Federal Government the power to eliminate one of our natural rights. And what became clear is that on a practical level the government can't do so, even if it has been formally granted that power by amendment. Ratification of the 18th Amendment didn't stop people from drinking. Ultimately government can't prevent people from exercising any natural right. Even imposition of very harsh and intrusive enforcement and punishment only reduces such exercise; it never eliminates it entirely.
Another of our natural rights is the right to love whoever we want. Like all rights, this one is not unbounded: we can love anyone we want, but we may not be able to act on that love in all the ways we might like to.
The Federal government has some responsibility to protect the citizens, but it has long been recognized that the Federal Government has a particular interest in protecting children, who are not as able as adults to protect themselves. The government has the power to outlaw statutory rape, and to punish adults who have sexual relations with those below a certain designated age of consent, irrespective of whether it was "voluntary". The legal presumption is that children are not able to give legal consent.
But among adults, it is not possible to prevent people from feeling love for someone else and expressing it, and I don't think we should even try. When it comes to romantic love, traditionally it was felt that this should be limited to monogamous relationships between one man and one woman. For many the idea of any other kind of loving sexual relationship between adults is intolerable (or sinful, or a sign of mental illness or moral perversion).
If Joe and John have such a relationship, this doesn't significantly impact the life of Harriet down the street except to the extent that the knowledge of it gnaws at her because she thinks it's icky (or a mortal sin). She may, for whatever reason of religious belief or cultural indoctrination, feel that such things are immoral or perverse or unholy or just plain disgusting, and thus may want to try to prevent Joe and John from expressing their love for one another.
As usual, this is a balancing act. If Joe and John are fucking out on the front lawn in full view of passing traffic and neighborhood children on their way home from grade school, that's one thing. We have laws about that, and they apply equally to heterosexuals. Asking someone to move it indoors is not a serious infringement of their liberty.
On the other hand, it isn't reasonable to use the law to protect Harriet from the psychic distress she feels simply because she knows that Joe and John do that kind of awful things with one another, even if she doesn't observe it and doesn't know when it happens. That's the point where Harriet has to give way. In order for all of us to have a significant freedom to scandalize the neighbors, we have to accept that we in turn are going to be scandalized by our neighbors. For all Harriet knows, Joe and John might be vegans who are disgusted and morally outraged by her love of steak dinners.
So what about marriage? The issue is politically complicated because for many marriage is actually a religious ceremony, and their attitudes are influenced by their religious beliefs.
But marriage is also a secular legal institution. A lot of atheists get married. Back in 2001 I ran into a devout (but not very worldly) Christian who didn't understand why atheists would want to get married, since they didn't accept the religious principles involved. He found that idea deeply puzzling. I tried to explain why it was valuable anyway. I also explained why I favored gay marriage.
What we're really talking about isn't issuance of licenses or practice of religious rituals. What we're really talking about is establishment of certain bonds of love between people. Marriage recognizes the bond. It doesn't create it, despite what some religions claim.
As an engineer, I tend to eschew ideology in favor of pragmatism, and for me something is what it does. Irrespective of the legal and political and religious arguments about marriage, I think that "marriage" is a deep and abiding relationship between people who love one another and who in part express that love sexually. And its existence doesn't depend on legal or religious recognition. It exists in the minds of the participants, and only there. If it exists, it will exist even if the people don't exchange names. It will exist even if they don't share a residence. Like all exercise of natural rights, the government doesn't create it, and the government can't prevent it.
Many of those who oppose gay marriage are hoping that as long as it is legally unrecognized they may be able to limit how much of it takes place. That's futile; it's going to happen whether they like it or not. Neither they nor the government can prevent it, and the only way they can reduce it is with draconian measures. Others think it's unholy, but that argument is invalid because we don't make law based on religion. The elimination of the sodomy laws over the last three decades is a recognition in this nation that we cannot and should not try to prevent alternate love-styles.
The question of whether formal marriage licenses should be issued for homosexual couples is still a contentious political issue that the citizens of this union are working through, and that's reasonable. Even if some have grudgingly accepted that they have to tolerate gay love, they don't want to formally approve of it. It's an issue worth debating (and in the long run I think the opponents are going to lose it).
But it shouldn't be handled through the amendment process. The fiasco of 18th Amendment showed that this is not the kind of thing amendments should be used for.
"Amending the Constitution" is a big rhetorical tool for many demagogues. Almost any time that some controversial law is overturned by the Supreme Court on Constitutional grounds, you'll find someone muttering, "OK, then, we'll amend the Constitution."
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