Monthly Archives: December 2008

On Gay Marriage

Before going any further, I need to make one thing clear: This is not an anti-homosexuality screed. There are a whole lot of people who confuse any criticism of homosexuality as “homophobia”, and label any who dare to disagree with every aspect of the pro-gay agenda as “gay bashing”. If I am to be vilified, excoriated, crucified or otherwise punished with long words, I would rather it was for what I said, not for what some overly-sensitive people thought I meant.

First up, Marriage is defined in my dictionary (The Oxford Encyclopedic Dictionary, 1992 edition, in case you were wondering) as “The legal union of a man and a woman in order to live together and often to have children”.

Hmmm… this means that “Gay Marriage” is a contradiction.

The cries from the gay-marriage lobby: “It’s time to change the definition“. Fair enough, but once you start changing it, where do you stop? Why stop at two? Three people? Four? What about siblings and Parents? How do you define “people”? Some say that since “we share most of our DNA with Chimpanzees” that they should enjoy the same legal protection as humans; does that mean that we humans can marry them? It reminds me of the whole legalization-of-drugs thing: wherever you draw the line there will always be someone who wants to hang a big hairy toe over the wrong side of it.

Call me old-fashioned, but I regard Marriage is a sacrament and a covenant – it was God’s idea. But we, the clean-limbed, shaven-armpitted, enlightened children of the West, have run it into the ground. We have cheapened it by marrying for the wrong reasons. We have made it disposable by providing quick-and-easy divorce laws. We have denigrated it in the media, by portraying marriage as either a means of personal fulfillment or a mechanism for exploitation. Everywhere you look, Marriage is either ridiculed or attacked.

One complaint I often hear is: “Lighten up. Why are you making such a big deal of this?” I’m glad you asked. If you believe that Marriage is a sacrament, a covenant relationship between one man and one woman, before God, for life… then yes, it is a big deal to me, and I refuse to “lighten up“.

I would counter with a question: “If Marriage is not a “big deal”, why do some Gays want it so badly?” Isn’t that a bit like going into your local KFC, demanding a Pizza, and then getting upset when they won’t give you one? Do you really want God’s blessing on something that is clearly and repeatedly described as offensive to God? In every major religion and culture worldwide?

While on the subject, let’s stop and look at the other major world religions. I am a Christian, which presumably makes me a bigoted homophobe in the eyes of most proponents of Gay Marriage. Okay, I can live with that. I suppose that means that if I was an Orthodox Jew or a Moslem I would presumably be far more “enlightened”; but wait… they both seem to believe that the correct response to homosexuality is Capital Punishment. Yet the gay marriage mob seem to regard Christians as their worst enemies, even though we stand for their right to live in a way that we may disagree with. How strange.

If two people of the same sex want a formal recognition of their life-long commitment to one another and the common-law rights and privileges that go with it (legal next of kin, beneficiaries etc), and I am fine with that. While I personally happen to believe that homosexuality is morally wrong (historically, rampant homosexuality strongly correlates with dying societies), I will fight for the rights of all to live as they please. Live with whom you want; do what you will.

But please don’t insult my God or my dictionary by calling it Marriage.

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Tom and Jerry

While shopping in Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve, I spotted a Tom and Jerry cartoon collection on DVD.

So what is so noteworthy about this?” you enquire; I’m glad you asked. You see, on the back of the package was a warning: “Unsuitable for Children

Tom and Jerry unsuitable for children? You have got to be kidding me.

I grew up with this stuff.

  • I learned persistence (and futility!) from, Wile E Coyote, Super Genius. I also learned never to trust ACME products, but that’s another story
  • Everything I needed to know about romance I learned  from Pepe Le Pew – it must have worked, as I’m still married after 22+ years.
  • I learned about conflict, collaboration, mischief and vengeance from those co-conspirators and rivals, Tom and Jerry.
  • I learned about hunting and gun rights from Elmer Fudd… Huhuhuhuhuh!
  • I was first exposed to Classical music and Opera by cartoons. Mention Wagner’s “Ride of the valkyries” to most under-30s and you will get a blank stare. Start wailing “Kill da wabbit, kill da wabbit!” and the light bulb will soon come on.

Perhaps I am getting old, but the modern cartoons simply don’t do it for me. They all seem to be about rockets and ray guns, featuring characters with oriental eyes, spiky hair and funny-shaped heads. They also look somewhat  mass-produced; the old cartoons which had a handmade, artistic quality about them. Some of those old cartoons even won Oscars.

And now they are “unsuitable for children“.

Bah.

Now Reading: “The Car That Could”, by Michael Shnayerson

Changes I can believe in

Dear Mr. President-Elect,

You promised “Change you can believe in“, but failed to articulate precisely what form said change might take; here are some changes I would like to see:

  1. Prohibit gas stations from raising the price by more than 5c in any given 24h period: They raise the prices by 20-40c at a time, but when it is time to lower them, it’s tuppeny-ha’penny time. Enforcement and Punishment is easy: If caught, refund all Credit/Debit fuel sales in that period using automatic reversal. Quick, easy and painful (for the gas stations).
  2. Elimination of the 2% limits for health and work-related tax-deductibility: Why should the corporations get tax deductions that we don’t? And don’t tell me about “Cost to Government”, It isn’t.
  3. Specific laws and punishments for identity theft.  It’s the fastest-growing crime in the country – mostly because the likelihood of getting caught is low and the punishments are paltry – and it will only get worse. This will not change until the punishments are appropriately serious. String ’em up (or deport them if illegal)
  4. Decriminalize “trivial” crimes: Over two million Americans are currently incarcerated (more than China!). The majority of them are there on drugs charges. Unless there is intent to supply (dealers) or a danger to others (DUI), non-custodial sentences are warranted. Again, illegals should be deported without delay.
  5. A serious overhaul of the copyright laws: I could write a book on this one, (and am!). It is ridiculous that 50-year-old movies and 80-year-old books are still under copyright. How does that serve as an incentive to authors (which is, after all, the purpose of copyright)? How is it that downloading a thirty-year-old piece of music is treated as a heinous crime? How one-sided is a law that makes the act of taking my music from my CD and putting it on my iPod a felony? I am all for tightening up protections, but let’s reduce length: say, 5 years for music and TV programs, 10 years for movies, 20 years for books (with the option of one renewal if the author/artist is still alive), but copyright is not ownership, and it never was. Time for a reckoning, methinks.
  6. Say No to Merger Mania: Mergers have robbed the American business landscape of competition and much-needed diversity while the legislators have sat idly by. Where is “competition” when the local Pizza Hut is owned by the same company that owns the KFC next door and the Taco Bell across the road? Why do most of us have only one cable company and one local phone company? It was never meant to be that way. Discourage mergers and acquisitions that reduce competition.
  7. Outlaw restrictive clauses in contracts: Sneakwrap/shrinkwrap/clickwrap licenses should be regarded as non-binding, along with the Arbitration clause (aka the “you-can’t-sue-us-and-we-own-the-arbitrators” clause) that seems to be standard fare in all contracts and agreements these days.
  8. Ban mail-in rebates: Mail-in rebates remind me of Mos Eisley Spaceport: “Never will you find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy“. The Internet is rife with tales of rebates being lost or wrongly denied for spurious reasons. I have had several denied because I had not attached the correct UPC; when I called up and checked, turned out I had attached the correct info after all. While the majority of my MIRs  have been problem-free, there is simply too much incentive here for fraud; at the very least, the before-rebate price should be displayed in advertising in as-large-or-larger print as the after-rebate price.
  9. Reverse the Bankrupcy Reform Act: Most bankruptcies are caused by Divorce or Medical Bills – not extravagant overspending – but the Bankruptcy Reform Act was written (by the banking industry!) in order to minimize their risk by “securing” their “unsecured” loans. It’s high time to shoot this dawg and put it out of everyone’s misery.
  10. Re-regulate the Financial Industry: The Banks were regulated after the Great Depression to prevent another meltdown. For the past twenty years, however, the Financial Industry has successfully fought and removed most of those regulations… and we have seen the result. And now they have the nerve to go begging for bailouts to subsidize even more stupidity – such as buying up the competition… sheesh! I am all about the free market, but lenders who offer money to people who are clearly and obviously unable to repay should be punished; it’s time that Credit Card companies quit sending out approvals to dead people, dogs, teenagers and penniless students with impunity. Whether we need the exact same regulations or a new set, I cannot say… but it is obvious that these bozos cannot police themselves. A practical definition of usury (say 20%+) would be nice, too.

Found: Obama’s Graduation Photo!

obama1

It isn’t, but it’s good for a laugh…

Now Reading: Maxed Out, by James Scurlock

On Tithing

There are few subjects that Americans are as touchy about as Money. It seems like a very sensitive subject to preach from the pulpit. It seems that we would rather talk about just about any other subject under the sun. But since I am not American, I have no such compunctions, so off we go…

Yes, I tithe; have done for years. I wouldn’t even mention it, but I have heard so many misconceptions about the practice of tithing that I felt the need to hold forth on the subject.

  1. God needs your money. Of course he doesn’t — and the preacher who says otherwise will one day have to answer to Him for it. Think about it; a god that needs your money is not really God. However, if the local body of believers (collectively known as “the church”) is to do it’s job (spread the Gospel, feed the poor, look after widows and orphans, etc).
  2. Net or Gross? The bible says that you tithe on “The Firstfruits”, but it also says that you tithe on “your increase”. Every preacher I have ever heard expound on the subject has said “Tithe on the Gross”… but then they would, wouldn’t they? (For those who are wondering, I tithe on my take-home to the local church, but donate enough elsewhere to make up the difference).The sad fact is that most churches, are short of cash – particularly the young, growing churches, which seem to have a lower proportion.To my mind, this issue is something of a red herring; it is not about whether you tithe on your pre-tax total or your take-home, it is whether you tithe at all.The simple fact is that if everyone who called themselves a Christian tithed on their take-home pay, the churches would have more money than they know what to do with… and with that money they could feed the hungry, help the poor and afflicted… and the Government would not have to.
  3. Tithing makes you a good Christian: Nope… Jews tithe. Besides, my aim is to be a Godly Man, not a good Christian.
  4. You can’t afford to tithe. Jesus said “your heart is where your money is”. As one wise man put it, “show me your bank statement, I’ll show you your priorities.” If you can’t afford to tithe, but you can afford Cable TV, DVD rentals, trips to the mall and eating out, then you have just shown your priorities.

As for me, I can’t afford not to. Scripture says “Don’t put God to the test”, but tithing is the one exception where God says “Test me in this, and see if I don’t pour out more blessings on you than you know what to do with!” In the years that I have been tithing, I have always had more than enough. Perhaps you can’t afford to tithe; I can’t afford not to.

So… why tithe?

For the same reason that you fast, pray and rest on the Sabbath – God does not need it, you do.

  • It teaches generosity.
  • It teaches reliance on God.
  • It teaches frugality.
  • It reminds us that we are not the center of our universe.
  • It teaches financial discipline.
  • Most of all, it serves as a continual reminder that money is not your God.

Now Reading: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach