Monday, June 16, 2008

Gay Marriage

As of 5:01pm yesterday, gay people in California can get married. Today in the news I'm seeing mostly cute articles about different couples tying the knot, but in the days leading up to this event, people were re-hashing the arguments for and against gay marriage ad nauseam.

When people argue about the issue, inevitably someone liberal but not very invested in the cause comes up with what he's sure is the most novel idea anyone's ever heard. If only everyone would listen to this brilliant piece of insight, we could all stop fighting and put the issue to rest. the argument is: "Abolish government marriage. Let the government perform civil unions for gays AND straights, but leave marriage to the churches. After all, this gives gay people the legal rights of married people without the separate but equal problem, and since we're not using the word marriage, conservatives can't claim we're going against their religious beliefs!"

this argument is bullcrap.

history lesson:
In Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court found that having separate schools for black and white children, even if they were of equal quality, was unconstitutional. In response, at least one rural school system in southern Virginia literally shut down their schools. "Fine, if we have to give black kids the same thing we're giving to whites, we just won't give anything to anyone. problem solved."

If you think this was an unjust action, how can you support taking away marriage rather than give it to gays? Even if you don't find the situations perfectly analogous, you've got to admit there's a resemblance, and that means making the government grant "civil union licenses" instead of marriage licenses is not going to satisfy gay people.

beyond that, right now marriage means more than just "civil union plus religious ceremony." the meaning's kind of amorphous and changing, but don't mistake "hard to define" with "without definition."

for example: My mother is an atheist. But she's married to my dad. They didn't go to a synagogue or church to have some religious ceremony, but she still rather likes being married to him. Despite the fact their union is not consecrated by any religious power, I'm pretty damn sure she'd think calling their relationship a civil union instead of a marriage would be a downgrade.

This solution would please no one who thinks civil marriage is more than hospital visitation rights and the ability to file a joint tax return.

And you know what? Even if some Evangelicals think civil marriage means exactly that, they would not be okay with calling it anything but marriage.
it's not like they're exactly huge separation of church and state proponents. Have you not paid attention to the idiotic crusades against liberals and the evil ACLU who are wiping out G-d from public life. These people boycott big box stores who say "Happy Holidays" in their December ads. They talk endlessly about displaying the 10 commandments in courtrooms and encouraging prayer in public schools. They very firmly believe that "America is a Christian nation," and to them, instituting Civil Unions is going to be taking the God out of marriage.

Basically, this "solution" would satisfy no one at all. Come up with some new ideas.

Monday, June 9, 2008

it's been a while

Once upon a time there was a prince named Hamlet who lived in Denmark.
And every day he moped around the castle because his father was dead and his mother (Gertrude) had married his uncle (Claudius).
Until one day the ghost of his dead father appeared to him and told him that the Claudius had murdered him.
And because of that, Hamlet vowed to avenge his father, and started acting like a lunatic while he worried over a plan.
And because of that, Polonius started spying on him to prove Hamlet was crazy over Ophelia, but he ended up getting himself stabbed.
Until finally, Laertes returned from France to avenge Polonius's death, and he killed Hamlet with a poison-tipped sword, but not before Gertrude had drunk poison, and Hamlet had killed Laertes with the same sword and both stabbed Claudius and made him drink that same poison. (woohoo run-on sentences!)
And ever since then, Fortinbras (a totally ancillary character from Norway who has been mentioned maybe twice in the past 3 hours) became the new king of Denmark.

I saw the free Hamlet in the park a few weeks ago. It was good. Long (my butt fell asleep) but good. That's my goal for this summer: at least 1 free thing a week. That week I did Hamlet plus a Regina Spektor performance on the mall. Yesterday, I went to the Phillips Collection because they were having free admission. Three guesses what the main show up there was... That's right: Jacob Lawrence. Pretty much every time I go to the Phillips Collection, there is a Jacob Lawrence show up. In fact, this time, they had the exact same Jacob Lawrence show I'd gone to in 1993. Admittedly, my average attendance rate at the Phillips is about once every five years. look, in a city full of great free museums, is it a surprise that I never feel like paying the $12? but still. they REALLY like the guy.

next weekend, I'm thinking...Capital Pride? I want to at least make the parade, I think.

Oh, in other news, here's how the rest of my life is going to go:
Friday: give my notice at my job
A month from Friday: stop working
About a week after that: go on an "adventure tour" to costa rica.
10 Days after that: try to find a place to live next year.
Sept 2: start Smith post-bacc program in math
Sometime in January: do a free birthright trip to israel
May, 2009: graduate from the post-bacc program
June, 2009: who the fuck knows?

Monday, May 12, 2008


In improv yesterday, I got to be a zombie and superman and I got to throw up on stage and pretend to lick someone. Improv is fun.

This is maybe just superstitious, but I think before I can be good on stage I have to fail first. I secretly suspect most people are like this. You need to freeze up and have a completely wooden, boring scene, just so next time you get up, you can be like, "fuck it, it can't get any worse than that disaster," and just play without overthinking things.

Hopefully, flights don't get delayed too badly and I make it to class next Sunday. Three hours of getting the fuck ups out of our systems immediately prior to the showcase will help a lot.

Friday, May 9, 2008


As my buddies still in school suffer through finals week, I'm feeling oddly reminiscent about my own stressful final exam/paper experiences.

My senior year, the last night of reading period, I moved my entire life into the computer science lounge. I had a 20 page philosophy paper to write, and I had not even started the research. After I skimmed through about 10 library books, I came up with a sort of thesis, but it was based on a computer science class I'd taken the previous semester, and only one of the books I'd skimmed was actually helpful.

So I went to the previous class's website, pulled up all the online journal articles we'd read, and tried pulling some quotes from that.

Still, I needed more. I thought I could find something useful in the Computer Science class's textbook, but a friend and I had shared one book, since it's not like anyone actually ever did the reading in computer science classes, and I had no idea where it was. At that point, it was around midnight, so I couldn't go knocking on her door to see if it was in her room, but I had vague memories of us leaving it on the grand piano in the living room many months before, so I made the walk back to my house to see if it was still there. It wasn't.

I freaked out for a while, and then pulled myself together and found the paper I'd written for that class. Sure enough, there were quotes from the textbook. I plugged them into google, and figured out that with a little ingenuity, I could use the "look inside" feature on Amazon to get what I needed.

And then, I put on some music (NPR All Songs Considered. Perfect for getting into a trance-like state.), and stared to type. I have no attention span, so every paragraph or so, I'd award myself with a article.

When I was about 3/4 of the way done, my all-nighter compatriot in the lab informed me sunrise was coming (apparently he procrastinated by reading it's not like there were windows in the lab), so I went outside to watch it rise. I picked up the newspaper delivered to the science building door and scanned the headlines. I'd already read them all.

I walked to higher ground (near the campus center) to get a better view of the sun. Then, the sprinklers went on and I decided to run through them. Finally, I went back to the lab and pounded out the rest of the paper. What a piece of shit. But I finished the damn thing and somehow managed an A in the class. Possibly because my professor cared even less than I did.

ah, school. why am I seriously considering going back next year?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ryan Sorba

The republican club at my alma mater brought this dude to campus yesterday to deliver a speech called "the born gay hoax." Apparently his thesis is that people choose to be gay, it isn't natural, and gay people are out recruiting our impressionable youth. Totall bullshit.

So last night when he came, a ton of students showed up (more than could fit in the room he was scheduled to speak in) and started chanting really loudly and banging on pots and pans. He left halfway through his speech and didn't come back. Now there's some controversy over whether protesting him was appropriate.

A couple thoughts:

I'm not sure if it was appropriate, but I'm kind of proud it happened. It probably was immature, but you're supposed to be immature in college. Never again in your life will you be free to act out as much. Take advantage!

Also, the "this isn't how mature adults behave" argument reminds me a lot of the "this isn't how nice girls should act" line that women have been fed forever. Yeah, it's not how mature people act in polite society, but maybe they should! In general, women don't speak up enough because they're too worried about appearing nice. Good for the protestors for stepping outside the constraints of normal social mores for an evening.

Finally, liberalism does not equal absolute moral relativism. It's true that we make a lot of relativistic arguments. Think of: "just because your church says abortion is wrong, doesn't mean the rest of us think so." or "just because you think homosexuality is a sin doesn't mean the rest of us do!" However, that relativism is not complete, and no matter how fervently asshole republicans want to do so, you can't take it to its logical extreme. I think in general, we should err on the side of being more open-minded, not less, but when someone's opinion is basically lies (whether the lie is "gay people choose to be gay" or "intelligent design is a real scientific theory") we don't have to take it seriously. Not all opinions are worthy of respect. Some are just illogical and stupid.

Monday, April 21, 2008

magic beans

once upon a time, there was a cow named bob.
and every day bob ate piles of purple hay.
until one day, a vagabond set the hay on fire.
and because of that, bob started to go hungry and couldn't produce any milk.
and because of that, the farmer decided to sell her for some magic beans.
until finally, the farmer started growing the (magic) soybeans and stopped raising beef.
and ever since then, vasily the newly vegan farmer made enough money to buy bob back and make her a family pet.

I actually had a good weekend--passover, swimming outdoors, reading a good book. Nothing that made a good story, though.