Standard American Mutt

Every time I take a survey, I get pissed off.

Why? Because in every survey, the bean counters in charge of it want to nail down exactly what group I’m a part of, so that they can massage their numbers to get the answers they want. Amongst the male or female, married or single, how much money do I make type questions, they inevitably ask “what is your race?”

Hell if I know, I’ve never done a genealogy on my family history. The subject is about as interesting as watching paint dry. My skin’s white, sure enough. But that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Ancestry determines what type of blood runs in your veins; and only working with the surnames of my grandparents, I can claim German, French and English blood (Caucasoid? WTF is that?) Who knows what else has been thrown in there over the last couple of hundred years? In my estimation that makes me a Standard American Mutt.

‘Race’ is an illusion anyway. The behavior attributed to ‘race’ is nothing more than ethnic culture; the absorbed societal norms which influence the thinking of an individual, and culture changes from generation to generation (and the people who wish to preserve their ethnicity are fighting an losing battle on a constantly shifting slope) The genetic differences between the ‘races’ are no greater than the genetic differences between individuals of the same race. So what does it mean to claim membership in a particular race? Bragging rights?

Beats me. I’m proud to proclaim myself a ‘mutt’. Now if I can just get the people printing forms and writing surveys to include Standard American Mutt as one of the choices…

Lincoln’s birthday? Not for me.

Since the day that our son was born, the daughter (also known as the teenager) has been jealous of the attention that his birthday gets. Costumes and free candy on your birthday, how do you beat that?

15 years ago today, I became a parent, and started marking that official anno parenti time. If the full truth were to be told, I’ve been raising children since I was a child myself. The children I raised weren’t my kids, but sometimes you get handed a job that you didn’t ask for. As the eldest in a single parent household, you spend a lot of time herding the younger ones. You can always look forward to mom getting home at some point later in the day, and then you can quit pretending you know what you are doing and get back to being a child yourself.

Once you are mom (or dad) things get a little more complex. The early experience helped, though. I knew how to change diapers. How to feed a baby, hold a baby, a thousand different things. But at 2 in the morning, when it’s your turn to rock the baby, you find that you miss the days when mom would come home and take over. Well, not really. But just for a minute there…

…And they grow so fast, too. 15 years? It couldn’t have been that long. But then, she’s a good bit taller than she was when I first saw her. Then, I could hold her in the crook of one arm, a little over 6 pounds, light as a feather. I’m still taller than her now, but I don’t think that will last much longer. I can remember taking her to the Montessori School for the first time. I can remember her learning to read, and then talking me into reading books that she liked (I’m hooked on Harry Potter and it’s her fault) getting me hooked on anime (especially Hayao Miyazaki) Discovering she has quite a talent for art in her own right. Trying to encourage her to explore her talent, without pressuring her to ‘do something’ with it. Dropping her off at the High School for the first time; wondering out loud if I “should walk her in…” The disgusted “DAD!” that I got in return was the first clue that she was growing up much faster than I was really ready for.

I think they’ll have to sedate me for the next birthday. I don’t think I’ll be ready for 16, dating, driving.

After the boy was born, we took to telling her that “well, your birthday is Lincoln’s birthday too…” That didn’t work. She could go here and see a full list of the famous people who were also born on this date. I doubt that would be good enough either. Maybe, if she’s half the artist I think she can be, she’ll end up on that list as well.

She’s already on an exclusive list of one in my book. That’s a good enough reason to celebrate the day all by itself, without needing costumes and candy. Wouldn’t you agree?

Happy Birthday, dearest one.

Armchair Quarterbacks

There has been a running joke in the family since ‘the Wife’ and I got together, that our televisions are broken, they won’t tune a channel that has a sporting event on it. Neither of us has any real interest in sports.

My father watched every football game that was broadcast, back when I was a kid. There was also only one TV set in the house (dating myself, I’m sure) so if I wanted to watch TV, I had to watch what dad was watching. And it was generally sports. I never had any interest in the game, but after several years of being ‘forced’ to watch football, I got a pretty good grasp of what was going on. I can carry on a conversation with those who have a sports affliction similar to my father’s, so most people don’t realize that I can’t stand watching sports on TV (in fact can’t stand most sports ‘at all’) and would rather be doing anything else.

As an aside, ‘the Wife’ used to get into role-playing games in college. One of them was a “fantasy football” type game, played with teams and their current stats. She always enjoyed picking the Seattle Seahawks as her team, because they had the best stats. She generally won the game because the major drawback for the Seahawks, the tendency to choke in a clinch, didn’t affect the gameplay.

For as long as we’ve made the joke concerning broken television sets, we’ve commented that “if the Seahawks ever got in the Superbowl, we’d have to watch it”.

I’m watching a football game this Sunday. I blame ‘the Wife’ for this.

Writing without Reason?

I generally have two or three books I’m working on reading at any given time. Currently my non-fiction book of choice is Stephen Hick‘s Explaining Postmodernism. So far it’s been an excellent read for anyone wanting to understand some of the broad philosophical trends of the last few centuries. Currently I’m working through chapter 4 – “The Climate of Collectivism”. I’m marveling over the impact that someone like Rousseau seems to have had over philosophy in recent history.

Whatever else he may have said aside, anyone who writes theses about reason being the root of mankind’s unhappiness, and that we must abandon it in order to be happy, really ought to look to his own house first. As someone who has written volumes over the years, I think I can honestly say that one cannot write a sentence without applying reason, much less an entire treatise on any given subject.

I’ll give him one thing, mankind would have been much happier if he had followed his own advice. 

Dry Cleaning Conspiracy

Clothes that can’t be washed in water, when the world’s surface is covered by 71% water; when the body that it goes on is 60% water; when on any given day in the averge human’s life, water can fall right out of the sky onto the clothing he is wearing (well, unless you’ve been living in Austin lately, that is. What a drought) what else would you call it?

Yes, I put the dry cleaning into the washer again, so what?

“Light up, Everybody…”

The smoking argument. A conversation with my ‘teen’, and some suggestions.

CATO’s regulation seems to enjoy beating dead horses as much as I do. They have offered a rebuttal to the ACSH article that calls them to task for belittling the health threat posed by cigarette smoke.

Quoting from the article:

We started that article with this declaration: “Truth was an early victim in the battle against tobacco.” We ended the article with this admonition: ““When that goal [i.e., truth] yields to politics, tainting science in order to advance predetermined ends, we are all at risk. Sadly, that is exactly what has transpired as our public officials fabricate evidence to promote their crusade against big tobacco.”

OK, granted. They spin some pretty good arguments for the CDC’s figures being exaggerated. But I think they are confused about who and what is motivating the witch hunt that the CDC is simply the public edifice for. It isn’t the gov’t that is after ‘big tobacco’, as referendum after referendum and ordinance after ordinance against public smoking is proposed and passes. It’s the average person on the street who doesn’t smoke himself (which is now the majority of the population, by the way) doesn’t want to have to smell someone elses cigarette smoke, and figures “there outta be a law”. Suddenly, there are laws. This is how ‘democracy‘ works.

[Yes, I know, we’re a Republic. The majority says we aren’t any more, apparently they don’t understand the meaning of the words in the pledge that they recited daily. I guess that’s what happens when you let socialists write documents for free thinking people]
The fact that there are serious health consequences to smokers, and costs that get passed on to the government as the guy left holding the tab at the end of the night, simply buttresses the argument against allowing people to smoke, at all. Facts that the regulation article itself admits:

Second, we are wrongly censured for stating that ““the hazards of smoking remain largely speculative. “What we actually said is quite different, indeed mostly contrary: “Evidence does suggest that cigarettes substantially increase the risk of lung cancer, bronchitis, and emphysema. The relationship between smoking and other diseases is not nearly so clear.””

Pretty much puts case closed on it for me. My point in bringing up the evidence against smoking was never to call attention to ‘how many’ deaths, and the obvious manipulation of statistics to ‘awfulize’ the outcome should be ridiculed; but the facts do show a connection between poorer health, shorter less healthy lives, and smoking tobacco. Since I have health problems already, it benefits me to choose non-smoking establishments when I do go out. Luckily for me Austin is a proper socialist paradise and has taken any need to think for myself, about where to go on a night out, out of my hands.

…Which is good, because if it was left to my anarchist/libertarian brethren I’d have no choice but to walk in and sniff the air before deciding if I wanted to actually ‘stop’ anywhere. Probably just stay home in that case (the recurring “what do you want to eat?” argument is hard enough on its own) which would be cheaper.

On the bright side, watched a segment on Beyond Tomorrow tonight dealing with an ‘anti-smoking’ injection. Clinical study results are positive (success rates approaching 60 percent) which is good. Most people who try to quit ‘cold turkey’ fail (3 percent success rate) The various forms of nicotine replacement therapies fair only slightly better (30 percent success rate) So the drug manufacturer is obviously quite pleased with the results. I myself quit cold turkey, after three tries. I was able to apply an REBT technique to the nicotine craving; I would think of the smell that an empty bar has in the morning when you show up to clean it, every time I wanted a cigarette. It took a while, but I was able to beat it. I actually feel ill when I think about smoking these days. (I’m applying the technique to craving french fries now. I don’t know if that’s going to work or not. Love them fries)

I hear you saying “what if I just want to smoke?” Fine by me. Go do it somewhere else, though. Here, you can have my old supply of ‘coffin nails’, I’m not going to need them anymore.