Saturday, June 16, 2012

Perhaps as a lifelong nerd, I have an uncommon perspective on gay marriage. I've always been on the fringe. When I was in high school, being into science fiction, fantasy, and comic books was a sure fire way to be on the outskirts of the "cool" group. When I went to college, I didn't hide who I was, but there were enough other people who felt the same way that I didn't feel anywhere near as alone as I did is high school. Now my predilections are mainstream, and those of my kids who follow the same path don't have nearly the same obstacles to acceptance that i had.

In some (not all) ways, being gay is the same. It's achieved a modicum of acceptance thanks to the internet and the ability for like-minded people to connect, but it still hasn't reached the goal of mainstream acceptance.

It'll get there.

And one of the reasons is because there are many of us who in some SMALL way understand their plight and don't want others to have to go through what we did in ANY way.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

What is Love? (Baby, Don't Hurt Me)

If you are friends with me on Facebook (and if you aren't, why not?), you probably know I like to debate.  Sometimes the questions are good enough that I should probably post them here for my own reference if nothing else.  Here's the first of this series.

A friend of a friend asked me this when I told him that I require evidence to believe anything.
So do you believe that love exists? Can it be proved matching the criteria outlined above? If not, then what is it that exists between a parent and a child, spouses, best friends, etc?

My response:

The problem is that "love" is an abstract concept. It's a term we use to describe a set of feelings and actions, not a thing unto itself. With that in mind, no, I cannot prove love exists. I can describe how I determine what love is and what criteria I require to meet it. You may not agree with what my criteria is, and I may not agree with yours.

I feel my wife loves me, and I love her in return because of two things. The first is the biological imperative that has evolved in humans and most other mammalian species to mate and develop family units to survive. We are driven to mate, and chemical reactions in our brains make it pleasing to stay that way (this also conflicts with male imperative to impregnate as many females as possible. One of a number of reason I don't believe in intelligent design. Evolution didn't design us very intelligently).

The second is that we selected each other because of mutual interests beyond initial physical attraction. These and other personality traits helped us develop a bond and empathetic concern for each other that, coupled with trust built up over the course of our initial interactions, I consider love. Your criteria may different, and if so, then that doesn't make yours less correct than mine.

Friendships are similarly built, minus the imperative to mate (probably).

Love for your children is by far the most evidently an evolutionary trait for survival of the species. It's the one that's the least rational. Anyone who has ever had a teenager will attest that there are times it makes absolutely no sense to continue to love them, yet we still do. If we're lucky, we also develop bonds of mutual interests with our kids, but sadly that's not always the case. Of course, there is a school of thought that conjectures that is also an evolutionary trait as it spurs offspring to leave the nest and continue to help the species proliferate.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Even sincere promises are not enough, sometimes

So in the end Obama signed the new defense bill allowing American citizens to be detained indefinitely, but he attempts to console the public by pledging that it will not be used by his administration against our own people.

You want to know why I'm not in the least bit consoled?

In the very best case scenario where we take him at his word and he's as good as he pledges, we've got four years at best to enjoy the respite.  It's possible we've only got one if he doesn't get re-elected.

The problem is that it almost seems that this constitutional scholar doesn't understand the reasons for having a constitution very well.  It's a document that when it is actually enforced protects us not only from the excesses of those in power at the moment, but those in power in the years to come.  I do believe Obama is a decent man, and I will take him at his word for the nonce, but his word does not bind the hands of his successors.  He has given permission for Presidents from this day forward to "disappear" anyone who they find troublesome.

The sad part is that I've recognized this flaw in even benevolent dictatorships for decades, and it was due to yet another comic book.  In the early 80s, Marvel produced Squadron Supreme, a story in which a team of heroes decide that the best way to save the world is to rule it.  They set themselves up as the final arbiters of all that is just and begin a program of disarming America and brainwashing criminals to prevent them from ever committing another crime.  They are opposed by Nighthawk, a former member who sees what they are doing as wrong and puts together a counter-team of heroes to defend traditional freedoms.  The twelve issue series culminates with a battle between the two, and toward the end of the fight Nighthawk has the opportunity to express his concerns to the temporarily incapacitated leader of the Squadron, Hyperion:
From Squadron Supreme # 12 by Mark Gruenwald and Paul Ryan, 1986.  

Why is it so hard for our leaders to understand this very simple truth of governing?