Marriage says to a child: The man and the woman whose sexual union made you will also be there to love and raise you. In this sense, marriage is a gift that society bestows on its children.
At the level of first principles, gay marriage effaces that gift.
[ . . . ]
But there are more good things under heaven than these beliefs. For me, the most important is the equal dignity of homosexual love. I don’t believe that opposite-sex and same-sex relationships are the same, but I do believe, with growing numbers of Americans, that the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over. Whatever one’s definition of marriage, legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples and their children is a victory for basic fairness.
I think that there is more to marriage than children, and that those children who can not be adequately cared for by their birth parents are still entitled to be cared for by whatever competent and loving parents society can find for them. At any rate, I am glad to see a Prop 8 supporter come out of the closet and realize that the way to strengthen marriage is to focus on strengthening marriages, rather than denigrating homosexuals.
The other day they were talking about Aung San Suu Kyi on the radio, that the path she chose to follow was the path laid forth by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Martin Luther King. The idea is not to seek victory over the enemy, but to identify the universal capacity for virtue, to love the enemy and change the enemy’s heart, to be open to a more enlightened and equitable path. I feel that David Blankenhorn’s evolution here, along with the evolution of many Americans, is evidence that this sort of spiritual warfare is carrying the day in my country.
There will be friends you haven’t exchanged a word with in years, and one day you’ll meet and it is as if no time has passed, except that you are a little older, a little wiser, a little more foolish, and you have a bunch of gossip to catch up on.
There were friends before there were text messages, or email, or telephones, or letters, or even an alphabet or a language.
Which is just a long-winded way of suggesting you don’t need to worry too much who is texting you back. Years from now you’ll know who some of these best friends from today are, and it won’t have much to do with who texted you back this week.
(From some unsolicited advice posted to a nephew on Facebook.)
Lots of good humor to deliver a simple and important message. We face an important problem in that we designed our primary education systems to build conformist factory workers. As we rocket ever faster in to our collective future, what we’ll need more than ever is the capacity to formulate creative solutions to our new problems. Kids start out creative, then we educate the creativity out of them. We need to do what we can to help our kids grow with access to the various disciplines which move them, so that they can realize their potential as 21st century human beings.
Last week I enjoyed a great story by Rands, who, as a team lead, had a total communication disconnect with one of his team members. While he enjoyed an easy rapport with Harold and Stan, he just wasn’t clicking with Wallace. At first he accepted things as they were, but soon learned that the disconnect with Wallace was a genuine problem in need of improvement. Rands concluded that the only thing to do with Wallace was to completely unwind his normal assumptions about rapport and “clicking” with a colleague and just get down to making basic communication work. This can be pain-stakingly frustrating, but this is what you need to do when you’re not getting the easy, intuitive connection you want with someone you rely on.
One of the comments (Harry) chided Rands: “Here’s the deal: if your boss asks you to lead, he either gives you the power to sack people, or you don’t accept his job offer. In your case, Wallace is obviously not compatible with you. So you sack him.”
I thought “No–Good engineers are expensive, and it is preferable to learn to steer an existing engineer in the right direction rather than finding and training a replacement.” Other comments pointed out that Wallace wasn’t incompetent or incapable, just that he needed clear expectations with management. Someone named Dave chimed in:
“I’ve been a Wallace, and I’ve also been a Harold, and from my standpoint it has less to do with personality than with context. You can have a poor team dynamic, with no clear leadership and constantly-shifting goals, where everybody ends up isolated in their corner and becoming Wallace, at least in part. Or you can have a good team, where even the most Wallace-y engineer becomes Harold for at least a few hours each day.”
Amen. We each have in us both a Wallace and a Harold. They are Yin and Yang. The Wallace side of my personality wants to get heads down in to the work, but needs to know what to work on. The Harold side takes some time to chat up his manager and coworkers to find work and set priorities, then steps aside and lets Wallace get back to work. Tech workers tend to be more innately introverted, they tend to want a good manager to play the part of Harold, and come back and set clear work objectives and priorities. When things are not going well, unhappy people will tend to revert to their base personalities. For engineers this often means getting stuck in Wallace mode.
Sometimes employees are happy and eager, and sometimes they are curmudgeons. It depends on the context of work and life morale, mediated by an employee’s emotional intelligence. These are variables that can be influenced, allowing for change over time. Management needs to provide a positive work environment with clear goals. Employees need to do our part in building a positive home environment, with positive life aspirations, while also cultivating a greater degree of self awareness. An employee who learns to steer their own craft and deliver what management wants will create a more positive work environment for their colleagues.
I had a dream last night. I was riding the subway to my new job as Mayor of New York City. I was amused and a little relieved that nobody recognized me. I had been late out the door so after the crowd in the car eased somewhat I started changing in to my suit. That is also when I got some face time with a few of the remaining passengers, who told me they knew who I was, and were glad to see me going to my new job.
I had another dream last night, where we stopped at Grand Army Plaza because I’d seen a Blue-Footed Booby lay a big blue egg and walk away. We were concerned for the safety of the egg, so I went to move it into the shrubbery and bury it a little, except first my companion stepped on it a bit, cracking the shell. I sat the egg upright so the yolk wouldn’t leak and on my companion’s advice we began covering it with leaves. I found the egg was kind of like a potato and I could cut some skin from one side to patch the hole over the yolk. Things were going well enough until my partner did something I don’t remember that caused the egg to fail. I was upset, mad, discouraged, but got over the tragedy quickly enough. When we got back on the bus The Oppressor started criticizing my partner for her failings. This made me mad. I got up in his face and reminded him about his karma.
That dream was a pretty obvious reference to an episode earlier in the week where we “rescued” a fledgling from another corner of Grand Army Plaza, but due to bad advice and my own complacency, and the inherent difficulty of avian rescue, the little thing perished. I was upset, mad, and discouraged, and my partner was mad at me for the whole thing, which made me mad at her. In the following days I had more sympathy for her view because she’s working in a difficult, complex, high-stress, high-stakes environment where saving weak fragile little newborns is their passion. And there is always the fear of screwing up, which means suffering and often death, for the meekest of human beings, followed by blame, criticism, lawsuits. She shouldn’t have brought that home and laid it on me, but on the other hand when you live in a pressure cooker the steam is going to find your cracks. This will happen sometimes in a relationship and it is important to handle trouble gracefully. And she is certainly forgiving of my own shortages of equanimity. We didn’t talk about it, but she made me some cookies.
I read somewhere that in interpreting a dream, it is less important to figure out the imagery and symbolism, and more useful to study how you react to situations. Where earlier in the week I had wanted to defend myself against harsh, unfair criticism from my partner, in my dream I wanted to defend my partner against harsh, unfair criticism. I was pleased.
My coworkers were discussing the “stateless” nature of our periodic weeks on the pager rotation. I said that on-call was like driving across the country, a space outside of the normal flow of life, where night and day are flexible and after the first few days the miles all blend together. We’re moving back to California, where I have a job as a senior member of my team. A lot of the crowd won’t recognize me, but the old timers at the end of the commute will be glad to see me.
Boyfriend? Girlfriend? Fiancé? Significant Other? Partner? And what if, like me, you are utterly lacking in “gay-dar” and have no idea you’re using the wrong word? That’s why my default word for Super Happy-Fun-Time Love Partner is now “sweetheart.”
“You got a sweethweart? How are they?” Boys are sweethearts, girls are sweethearts, husbands and wives are sweethearts, and maybe your sweetheart is a cat, or a video game, or your spinster sister, or what-have-you.
The only place where I see this maybe falling down is with poly-amorous people who have multiple sweethearts, but in my experience these folks are so busy getting laid that they don’t have much energy to take offense at the most superficial of trivialities. Sweet!
As someone who has wondered at the issues involving monastic vows of sexual abstinence, I found myself dog-earing the following passage from an interview with a Buddhist couple who gave up the monastic life for marriage, as interviewed by Leslee Goodman in the January, 2009 issue of The Sun. (more…)
One week ago the people of this country began to party in the streets. I was actually driving down 16th St when I had to stop because the street had been spontaneously closed by joyful San Franciscans. Once I got on my way home I passed Market and Castro. Castro was blocked off for a formal street party, but the crowds seemed subdued. Upon arriving home I saw that Prop 8, repealing the right of people to marry a person of their own sex, was ahead.
Joy at electing a remarkable man to the White House. But a gut-punch to those of us who feel deeply about equal rights.
Just now I received a link to Keith Olbermann, and NBC commentator, who does an excellent job of expressing my dismay over Proposition 8:
The gist: marriage is about Love. At the time Barack Obama was born his parents’ marriage was illegal in 1/3 of the United States, and in the days of slavery, marriage between black people was illegal. There is no advantage to be had in opposing gay marriage, and in this culture where we feel uncomfortable about the impermanence of relationships, and the high rate of divorce, if two people can find love, we ought to allow them to enjoy it the same as anyone else.
While there are lawsuits out to restore same-sex marriage through the courts, my personal hope is that we can put it on the ballot again, and that next time it comes before the people of California, the people will have grown in their own hearts to accept that allowing lovers to marry is what we ought to do. We gained ten points since the last ballot proposition, and Prop 8 would likely have failed were it not for balls-out misinformation fear campaign by the Mormon Church and other cultural conservatives, who viewed popular support for same-sex marriage in California as the first step in a trend that would ultimately lead to acceptance of same-sex marriage throughout the United States.
We have work ahead to ensure the rights of a minority that has been tormented for too long.
You’ve been meeting folk but there are those who you’d rather avoid, and you delete them from your phone. Later, they call and you answer because the number looks familiar: maybe it is a family or coworker! Awkwardness ensues.
Solution? Keep the number, but change the name to “Do Not Answer” — especially if you may have a tendency to get drunk / lonely.
I do not actually use this strategy, but I read it a couple years ago and its re-telling was recently well-received, so I thought I’d share.
Me? I recently changed my voicemail to explain that I tend to avoid my mobile phone altogether and that e-mail works far better. I really dislike talking on the damn thing. It makes my brain warm and leaves me feeling anxious. Yeah, I’m weird.
“So you don’t approve of getting even — of taking revenge for something that was done to you?”
“Revenge does not alter what was done to you. Neither does forgiveness. Revenge and forgiveness are irrelevant.”
“What can you do?”
“Forget,” said Borges. “That is all you can do. When something bad is done to me, I pretend that it happened a long time ago, to someone else.”
“Does that work?”
“More or less.” He showed his yellow teeth. “Less rather than more.”
Talking about the futility of revenge, he reached and his hands trembled with a new subject, but a related one, the Second World War.
“When I was in Germany just after the war,” he said, “I never heard a word spoken against Hitler. In Berlin, the Germans said to me” — now he spoke in German — “‘Well, what do you think of our ruins?’ The Germans like to be pitied — isn’t that horrible? They showed me their ruins. They wanted me to pity them. But why should I indulge them? I said” — he uttered the sentence in German — “‘I have seen London.’”
Jorge Luis Borges speaking with Paul Theroux
_The Old Patagonian Express_
Revenge has its appeal, but I don’t think it helps. We use the expression “forgive and forget” but the concern is that certain things should not be forgotten. I figure it is better to forget than to have difficulty stuck in your heart. I think I’d say “forgive, if you can, draw a lesson from the memory, and then move on.”
Try to remember the circumstances and what happened, and that you felt a certain pain and whatnot, perhaps with great intensity. The pain itself, the “pain memory” I would leave behind, if you can. We are fools to forget, but we are foolish too to react in the present to pain from the past.
While women are the more frequent victims of domestic violence, men can be victims too. Whatever your gender, it is good to keep an eye on things. If you are dating someone and your partner seems a bit psycho, you may be entering a situation of “dating violence”. Wikipedia has a good starting point, with a list (adapted from ACADV) of early warning signs of dating violence:
Unpredictable mood swings
Alcohol and drug use
Isolates you from friends and family
Uses force during an argument
Shows emotional hypersensitivity
Believes in rigid sex roles
Blames others for his/her problems or feelings
Cruel to animals or children
Abused former partners
There’s plenty of material online, and the CDC has a teen-oriented web-site called ChooseRespect.org.
The most lethal time for an abused person is when they are trying to leave the abuser. Have a plan and get back up! The news is full of (seemingly) nice people whose partner was trying to leave and ended up dead. When in a domestically abusive situation, use universal precautions and assume anyone has the propensity for violence.
As far as I can find anywhere, the best and seemingly sole advice regarding how to handle domestic violence is to leave. To this end, there is a National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
If you are preparing to resolve an abusive situation, the American Bar Association offers a Domestic Violence Safety Plan. It is a bit scary to read, but better to consider such things before you actually live them!