Monthly Archives: August 2011

Marriage and Civil Unions

Had a friend on facebook post one of those memes which make their rounds on an almost daily basis. This particular one was concerning “same sex marriage”.

So let me get this straight…………Kelsey Grammer can end a 15 yr marriage by phone, Larry King can be on divorce #9, Britney Spears had a 55 hour marriage, Jesse James and Tiger Woods, while married, were having sex with EVERYONE, 53% of Americans get divorced and 30-60% cheat on their spouses. Yet, same-sex marriage is going to destroy the institution of marriage? Really? Re-post if you find this ironic.

They are missing the real point behind all this. That there should be a legal option for any couple (same sex, oposite sex, or “other”) to have the same legal standing/”rights”, is NOT a problem with the majority of Americans, regardless of political views or affiliations. This includes financial obligations/rights/status, medical obligations/rights/status, and legal issues (contractual, and otherwise). Personally, I don’t care what, if anything, that goes on behind closed doors with this “couple” is any of my business. And if they want to be acknowledged as an “official” couple, it would seem a “Civil Union” is just the ticket.

The real issue is one of control, and of broad based acceptance of a given life style (be it GLTG, poly___ …fill in the blank, or something else), vice mere tolerance, by society at large. In gaining the status of being “married”, any of these groups/individuals are able to claim (if so desired) a societal justification for their chosen life style/actions. The “institution of marriage” is in disarray. Attacked both from within and without. It has gone through changes, the ease of divorce, for example. But that is the institution, and not the rite or sacrament. There is a difference. The institution is the societal fabric in which “the essence” resides. The rite or sacrament, is the essence. And for the most part, barring a tweak here or there, the rites or sacraments have remained as they always have.

Like it or not, marriage is either considered a “rite” or “sacrament” conferred on a couple by the religion of their choice. As it stands right now, none of the mainstream religions fully endorse and or allow for anything other than one man and one women to be bound together in the bond of “holy matrimony”.

The only reason (at all) that the “State” is involved is to insure all legal statutes have been observed (parties have met the legal age requirements, medical issues, legal issues ).

Again, all the above legal issues, and a couple more, can be addressed by allowing for “Civil Unions”. And as the state already allows for Justices of the Peace, and other dually appointed “agents of the state”, to perform “civil marriages” … unions sanctioned by the state, but not necessarily by any given religion … this agency is already in place. To this end perhaps all unions preformed by the state should be more properly called “Civil Unions”, getting the State out of the business of officiating marriages entirely. And returning this back solely to the religious side of the house.

If you want to be married, perhaps forming your own “religion”, or following, and insure the tenants of your new found faith allow for the inclusion of same sex partners in your marriage rite. But to usurp the word, and by extension, the rite of marriage, which begs the issue of churches sooner or later being forced to marry any and all who come to their respective doors, is at best little more than being childish by those who demand this happen. And suggests there is more at play here than merely being allowed the same status and rights accorded to those who are currently allowed the formal rite/sacrament of marriage.

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Hurricane Irene, or how the media attempts to inspire panic by taking Mother Nature in vain.

By all accounts there is a hurricane progressing toward the eastern seaboard of the United States. It also appears this will be the first major storm to make a direct hit on New York City since Hurricane Gloria (a category 2 hurricane) did so, back in 1985. Notice I said major storm, vice hurricane. Though all reasonable precautions should be taken, and if you know your particular neck of the woods is prone to flooding, it would be wise to seek higher ground before this storm makes such a move impossible. A major hurricane, one of category 4 or 5 status, would be just that, a major hurricane. Such is currently not the case with Hurricane Irene. While I am pondering this post, Irene is actually decreasing in strength, though this may change … hurricane prognostication is not an exact science, the whims of God and Nature are still outside the purview of even the best, and well intentioned weather guessers.

And that is my point. The media, specifically the various “weather channels” and 24hr news outlets, would have you believe at least one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse is going to be making a personal showing, atop his steed at the forefront of the approaching malstrom, as it makes landfall in the States, sometime this weekend. Inform the public at large, give the facts, provide as honest a near term forecast as possible, and that should be the extent of it. Throwing out worst case scenarios, speculation(s) based on an untold number of computer models, and or your inner id’s demand for sensationalism, does not help anyone.

Indeed, there are many who are ignoring all the warnings, both good and ill, staying home and shoring up for what may be coming. And to some extent, who can blame them. After all human nature is not all positive. Granted there are those who, based on personal experience, a strong understanding of their immediate environment (home and surrounding area), and a strong sense of self, will elect to wait out the storm. They will most likely be successful. There are others, many others, who fail to meet any one, or all of the criteria which their successful fellow traveler has met. So, they will find themselves, quite possibly at the mercy of Mother Nature, before the current storm completely passes them by (or perhaps very shortly there after). Of course there are those who “just don’t care”. Ironically, they are much like the drunk who gets into a collision, many times escaping with little physical injury (Or is completely splattered. They seldom, if ever find the middle ground.), and so will escape the storm with little worse than a hang over.

So for those of you who seek something to balance the scales of sensationalism a bit. Being well aware of the danger, but knowing literally which way the wind blows (and can convert from miles per hour to knots per hour). Along with those who “just don’t care. I have come up with an alternate “scale” for rating hurricanes. Instead of Categories 1-5, based on sustained wind speed inside of the storm … I give you the “Beer-hord Scale”

It breaks down as follows.

Tropical Depression/Storm = 2 six packs
Tropical Storm/Cat 1 Hurricane = 2 six packs up to 1 Case at Cat 1
Cat 1-2 Hurricane = 2 Cases
Cat 2-3 Hurricane = 2 Cases up to 4 cases when reaching Cat 3
Cat 3-4 Hurricane = 1 Keg
Cat 5 Hurricane = 2 Kegs

This also helps to validate the shelves being emptied, at a terrifically high rate of speed, from most grocery and liquor stores, as a given approaching storm becomes more of an immediate treat.

The picture below, should also be implemented to help said stores prepare for the onslaught of potentially storm ravaged customers, in need of liquid courage.

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The Top 100 Science Fiction/Fantasy Novels … as selected by NPR

This is (supposedly) a list of the top science fiction/fantasy books as rated by those noted sci-fi (and they would call it that) mavens, NPR. The list is by no means complete, and there are a couple of authors I would have added to the list. But what the hell.  This was originally posted on facebook, on the 20th, but seeing as a host of others have brought it to the blog side, this lemming shall follow suit.
Those I have read are highlighted in bold.

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert (Only the first book, Dune. Then the sandworms ate my brain.)
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (Saw the movie, any number of times.  Probably should read the book.)
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein (Actually have read all RAH’s books/stories )
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger (Although I did see the movie)
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore (For those who are into computer gaming, this is a spin-off of the Never Winter Nights series of games.  Great games btw.  But never have read any fiction purely based on a game, this one included.)
74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher (No, but his Harry Dresden series rocks.)
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock  (Pretty dark series, but Moorcock was like that.  For an interesting read, find a copy of his “Behold the Man”…sorta like “Life of Brian” without the giggles.)
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony (Though I loved this series, and started reading it about the same time I was reading the “Myth Adventure Series” by Asprin [and why wasn’t that on this list?]. they should have included Anthony’s “Incarnations of Immortality” Series, or used it instead…better writing all the way around. Or as someone else mentioned, his “Gods of Tarot” series.)
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

Not a bad list, for a bunch of nimrods at NPR.  So many authors and titles were absent.  (And multiple listings from any single author is just wrong.  And I liked a number of the authors they did this to, but that doesn’t make it right.)  Especially since there were so many quality reads which were missing.  Spider Robinson (if only for the Callahan series); Simon R Green, (John Taylor where for art thou?). If you are going to include Howard, than where is Burroughs?   If we are going to allow for Fantasy, how about C.S.Lewis’s “Narnia” series? And what about L’Engale’s “A Wrinkle In TIme”? I am sure there are others who I should mention, but names escape me for the moment.
And a bit tip of the squid lid to Leeann who had this on her blog.

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