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February 26, 2004

Guest Blog - gay marriage

Hello, world!

Well, we seem to have, at long last, found a subject for which I care enough to acquiesce and forge my debut into the blogging world, or blogosphere, as I am told it is called.

Let's talk gay marriage. Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few weeks, or this is far in the future and you need to be reminded, the proposition of a constitutional ban on gay marriage is a pretty hot topic these days.

My stance: Undeniably, indescribably PRO gay marriage...
That said, let's look at the reasons people have stated for being opposed:

1) Tradition says marriage is between a man and a woman. ---Uh, okay. I guess I'll go acquire some shackles, then, and start eating table scraps. Did you hear that the sun is still circling the earth after all? And that they're officially un-registering all female voters for the upcoming election. Likewise, the navy's going to start manufacturing cannon-firing warships again. So what if they're obsolete. Traditionally the best armed forces have the strongest navies. Obviously, just because something is traditional, doesn't make it right. Likewise, just because something is new, doesn't make it right either. But here, we're talking about more fair or less fair. But I'm getting ahead of myself. More on that later.
2) Gay marriage undermines the institution of marriage. --- This is a stance which is almost laughable. In fact, I do laugh at it, by querying a coworker of mine daily as to whether the latest spate of gay marriages have caused marital problems for he and his wife. Sound absurd? Well, it certainly should. If your commitment in marriage is so tenuous that it depends on the marital state of another couple, then you have a lot bigger problems than your support of a constitutional amendment. Gay people are wonderful spouses, mothers, fathers, and that does NOT weaken the institution of marriage one bit.

The fact of the matter is that loving another human being is right. No one disputes that. Likewise, devoting yourself to another human being because of that love is also right. The only way you could possibly be mean-spirited enough as to try to dictate that one couple's love is less deserving of legal protection than another's simply because the people concerned are of the same gender is if you believe, since we've determined that love and devotion are good things, that being gay is wrong. Or that homosexual love is inferior or irrelevant as compared to heterosexual love.

That's it exactly, you say, I've couched it in terms of tradition and upholding societal values, but really, deep down, I believe gayness is wrong.

The most common reason for such a view is one of religion. "Scripture says blah blah blah." Well, you know what? You can hold whatever religious belief you want, but TOUGH. The state is under no obligation to honor your specific religious creed, just because your holy book says YOU have to. Separation of church and state, baby. You can believe gay people are sinners, going to hell, worthy of contempt and possibly attempts at salvation, but certainly not equal protection under the law. But it is precisely because our country is so great, that your rules don't apply to everyone.

The second most common reason is some unspecified "feeling" of revulsion to the idea that homosexual love is equivalent to heterosexual love. Which can't be too fair, because you aren't gay and straight at the same time, so how can you compare? You probably feel this way because most people you know are all opposed to it, and you aren't allowing yourself to consider the alternative properly, or fairly. If you fall into this category, I urge you to figure out why you think gayness is a threat to you or to America. If it's because "everyone says so," that's not a very good reason. If you figure out it is actually becase of some latent religious beliefs or vestiges of a religious upbringing, see the preceding paragraph.

The fact of the matter is that homosexual behavior is not unnatural. Speaking as a biologist, homosexual behavior is WELL documented in other primate species, not just humans. And anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of history should know that gayness has been a documented part of human existence since history began. I just LOVE the argument that homosexuality is some deviant behavior people choose. Like anyone would choose to be scorned by society, be the victim of a hate crime, or be possibly disowned by their parents.

How many people reading this have ever heard the expression "jumping the broom"? If you're not black and you said you haven't heard of it, I'm not surprised. Despite references to it still today. Jumping the broom is an expression that goes way back to the days of slavery. As you may expect, slaves were not allowed to legally marry. So when two such people decided they loved each other and wanted to wed, they would hold secret ceremonies with the other slaves whereby a broom handle was laid on the ground and the couple jumped over it together, signifying their committment to one another. This, of course, conferred no legal rights whatsoever, and the partners could be (and were) still sold away from one another.

The bottom line is this, people: banning gay marriage isn't going to stop people from loving one another, or from committing themselves to one another. All it's going to do is use the government to institutionalize the type of discrimination we've prided ourselves on moving away from for a couple generations now.

Support for the ban=homophobia=bigotry, plain and simple.

As far as what you want to call it, marriage or "civil union", that's not important. If it's the same rights, eventually, it will sink in that it's an equivalent love...

Thank you for your time.

February 25, 2004

Got some extra bandwidth and a bit of hard disk space?

Then perhaps you might be willing to contribute to FreeCache. This is kind of like an "Akamai" for the rest of us... and perhaps a little of what I've been talking about doing for a while among friends to distribute the load of large, fairly-static content from things like digital camera pics.

In theory, this does all of the things a solution I was talking about would do - reduces the burden on the source host quite a bit, provides replication outside of the burdened host in response to upswings in demand, and doesn't require too much centralized infrastructure. And users are none-the-wiser. I'm going to set up a proxy and see how it goes.

Too bad the file minimum limit is 5megs. This makes sense. Now, someone's just gotta' make a front-end Apache module which will redirect direct requests for too-large content away to freecache, except requests coming from freecache proxies. This should be pretty easy... anyone?

February 24, 2004

ExPARC researcher returns for a culture discussion

I think I remember seeing a talk he gave (probably a Forum) at PARC in 2002, but Dan Russell returned today to talk for the ISTL weekly lab meeting.

Here is a link to the notes

Free Ama concert this Thursday @ Stanford

For those of you who are local, and wanted to check out that artist I mentioned
before, Ama has a concert this Thursday night @10pm at the Stanford Coffee House

Anyone want to meet me there?

February 20, 2004

What's on your iPod

Following on Ken's entry, here're the first 15 songs chosen at random from the 7703 songs.

They Dance Alone - Sting
Floor (Jars of Clay Cover) - UIUC Xtension Chords
High Hopes - Pink Floyd
Intro - Guru
Breathe Again - Toni Braxton
Have you ever - Offspring
After The Rain - The Samples
Paul Rosenberg (skit) - Eminem
Nation States - Propaghandi
Reba (yeah, some of my tags aren't so good...)
Tiger Army - Nocturnal
Territorial Pissings - Nirvana
Thank You (Live - Acoustic) - Dido
Hands Clean - Alanis Mrissette
I'm Real (Remix) (ft. Ja Rule) - Jennifer Lopez

Considering that something like 3200 of the songs on my iPod are collected from others, and, ergh, haven't even been played yet, this seems like a semi-reasonable cross-section of what's there. The vast vast collection of Punk which I came into possession of through a past collection-munging is slowly getting removed. Well, the stuff that sucks is, anyway. The wonders of 27gb of usable space is that this process can take a while. Likewise, though I have on the order of 30 CDs of college a cappella, only a few of them are actually allowed onto my iPod at a time. I like the stuff, but in moderation, for gosh sakes. Well, unless you're just too cool, in which case I probably keep all of your stuff in the iPod anyway.

February 17, 2004

Continual erosion of our rights...

This from a recent Salon article, though I think it originally appeared in the Oakland Tribune last year sometime. A statement by Mike Van Winkle, spokesman (yes, the actual mouthpiece) for the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center, defines what they might consider terrorism:

"You can make an easy kind of link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that's being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that protest," he said. "You can almost argue that a protest against that is a terrorist act."

Uh, what? Protesting a war against terrorism is terrorism? How many other crimes are going to be elevated because of this? I mean, yeah, civil disobedience can be a crime, but it doesn't make you a terrorist.

Anyway, read the Salon article. There's way too much good stuff in there for me to summarize.

February 08, 2004

Attempting a new thread....

As those of you who ever see me in person know, I tend to spout off a lot about Privacy issues. In this way, I have some Libertarian views, but largely disagree with the doctrines of that party.

Anyway, I'm going to try to blog about disgusting stuff that's going on right now. This comes up partly because of several recent discussions I've had with J about what to do if our country continues down the slippery slope of McCarthy-ist backslides we've been following.

So, the first twothree links to start things off:

This one describes a recent "audit" performed by journalists all over Florida. They were posing as "normal" citizens requesting documents that should be available according to Florida's public records laws. An astonishing 43 percent of the agencies audited failed to follow the law correctly. Read the article for the rest of the atrociousness.

Then there's this article from yesterday's SF Chronicle, telling us about grand jury summons being used (and silence orders in conjunction) to terrorize and interfere with protected political speach, which so happens to involve objecting to current policy. We should encourage this kind of non-violent protest, rather than push things in a direction where history will repeat itself. In any case, there're laws protecting this kind of speech for a reason. Thank goodness the Patriot Act wasn't invoked in this case... yet.

Lest you all think I'm going to focus on state issues to the exclusion of the questionable actions of our current regime, check out this article from US News, which details all of the recent slides in progress made toward opening our federal government. This is my favorite, because its just so stupid some of the things that are being done. Can preventing access to the common man of knowledge of where a natural gas pipeline is going to be help prevent terrorism? The pipeline's going to be visible sooner or later. Not letting citizens get access to that kind of information primarily serves to stifle discussion and critique, not improve security. This kind of madness is more and more commonplace in our national policy these days.