Field of Science

DOMAsses in Minnesota

The small government republicans of Minnesota are trying to make sure government is small, but not so small that it cannot limit what we can do, especially when gonads are involved. Minnesota is one of those dumbass states that has law prohibiting same sex marriage. However, that is not good enough for the religious right of Minnesota, no they need to make sure that the whole male-female 1:1 ratio marriage issue is carved in stone, you know old testament style.

I am completely and totally against these bans, they are bullshit and driven strictly by perverse Christian dogma. I will concede that 0.001% of DOMA supporters are not against it from a religious viewpoint, and are simply fucknut insane. Actually, I am interested in why people are opposed to this issue (independent of the fact your god, who spent a bit too much time with 12 strapping young men if you ask me, said so).

Cats you'll be inheriting
One problem arises from the very word 'marriage'. When you say/hear marriage I am willing to bet you think church, white prom bridle gown, tearful ladies, and hooking up with a veritable stranger after the  reception. From the states' standpoint all of this is irrelevant. From the states' perspective you pay some money to get a license and this license confers upon you certain legal rights. Your immediate family, mom, dad, child, sibling automatically have certain rights. For example, if your parents die, you as a child are considered the benefactor of assets. If your mom has a heart attack and is in the hospital, you as the child can visit. In fact, it take's legal work to change these rights. Such as your mom having a will that says her young stud boyfriend gets the house and car, while you get the fourteen semi-feral cats.  So while 'marriage' as a word is tightly associated with a religious ritual, from the states' perspective it is simply a convenient historical term. Indeed, you can get married, without being in a church, without a priest, without a white dress (for either bride or groom), and without the post-ceremonial love-fest. I was married without any of this stuff (god didn't help out with the ceremony and as far as I know no one hooked up afterwards) and you know what? My marriage is as legally valid and carries the exact same legal ramifications as Michelle Bachmann's (the Colonel Sanders of the DOMA movement).
Bachmann asked for a non-evangelical
rationale to support DOMA 
The point here is that 'marriage', again from the states' perspective, is a civil contract. We can argue why the states need to have this kind of civil contract, but I think that is ultimately futile. This type of civil union serves to give a non-family member, family member-like protections/rights. This is similar to adoption which grants a legal parental status to non-parents. It also grants rights to the child analogous to those granted biological children by simply being born. Michelle Bachmann, nut-job that she is, should be familiar with this concept.

One of the issues I hear opposing same-sex marriage is the slippery slope argument. If the government allows 2 adult men to have the rights accorded to 2 heterosexual adults, then ultimately we'll have a woman 'marrying' a horse and Catholic priests 'marrying' young boys. But these are bullshit soundbite asides to distract you and the non-elitist masses. A contract, including the civil variety, can only be entered into by consenting adults. Children can not say Yes, neither can a horse, a turtle, nor a houseplant.

"But what about bigamy?" you ask! Good point. Personally, I do not have a legal issue with bigamy. I do have a social issue as bigamy is essentially only found in societies that limit the rights of women. However, if a woman wants several men to have the same legal right to visit her in the hospital that her brothers have, then why should the state be involved? The same is true if the sexes are reversed. Again, I want to point out DOMA is being pushed by the party that screams for smaller government and for government to get out of the way (except when gonads are involved).

While DOMA advocates often advocate from the standpoint of children. Marriage is perfectly legal and the rights clearly applicable to post-menopausal women and to heterosexual adults who choose not to have children. A woman who had a hysterectomy gets all the same rights Michelle Bachmann does if and when she gets married. Should this woman lose her house and assets to her husband's immediate family if her husband were to die suddenly?

Much of this problem is a problem of biology. We essentially know who the direct relatives are and we consider these people to have rights a stranger doesn't. Family makes for a, generally, clear line in the sand. But it is only clear much of the time. Again adoption serves as a good example. Adopted children have the same rights as biological children. An interesting question is what is the logical basis for this intrinsic protection of family rights. What is this idea based on other than it always happened this way and I can't think of a better way. We have countless examples where families do not deserve the rights the have. For example, the abusive parents of a child have rights the kindly neighbor does not have and the child suffers inordinately while the legal system goes through the process of changing the status quo. Adoption like marriage is a legal way to confer familial rights to non-family members. Ill note the sex of the adoptee does not matter in this legal contract, why does the sex of the marriage partners?

Hey religious right! The legislature voted to put a state constitutional ban on the ballot like you wanted. We still got a tornado in Minnesota that killed someone (who happened to be a deacon returning from church). Does that mean god doesn't want this to pass? I ask because every fucking time there's a storm on the planet after a homosexual person gets even the the smallest iota of respect, you can bet your damn ass some religious fucknut claims that its gods' judgment.

Finally, I want to close with the idea of putting these kind of issues on ballots. I see the rationale and use of ballots. However, our founding fathers (who the religious right seem to appeal to) understood the potential problem, particularly in relation to religion. The phrase you want to google is 'tyranny of the majority'. This is a problem with democracies, which is one of the reasons we have a republican democracy, not a true democracy. The majority will not, usually, grant privileges they enjoy to minorities. This is one of the reasons for the first amendment; this is why Jefferson discussed a wall between the state and the church. I could discuss this at length but I expect an example serves better. What would be the outcome of a state ballot measure for African Americans to attend 'white' schools in Arkansas, what about in 1957? Could interracial couples marry in Mississippi? Would we still have the freedom to practice or not practice the religion of our choice in the 50 states of our union if left up to popular vote?

You can find the senators who voted for passage of this bill here.
and the representatives who voted for it here.

I would like to thank my representative Mindy Greiling for voting NAY, and ask John Marty, my senator, what the fuck were you thinking?!?!

BTW republicans. How is this creating jobs or is that not a priority anymore?

UPDATE: John Marty actually voted against the bill, but he did vote in favor of the wording change.

Student research blogs to follow

Some undergraduate students are blogging about their travel abroad research experiences. You should check them out and give them some encouragement.

We have Chelsey doing some work in South America.
You can also check out Lauren in Guatemala.

Enjoy and if you know of other students blogging about summer research let me know and Ill add them.

Its the End of the World as We Know It....

...and I feel fine.

So the rapture is tomorrow, it little less than 24 hours from now. On campus a few days ago believers were handing out flyers to save our souls. I didnt want one, but had one thrust into my midsection as I was walking by. Normally, I just try to go my merry way, but since I was actually interfered with my dander was up.

The young man who decided I absolutely must have this pamphlet had already moved on to force pamphlets onto unsuspecting students. I stood there and looked at the pamphlet and then called to the young man.

"Do you actually believe this stuff?" I asked.

"Of course I do" he replied emphatically.

"OK, tell you what, can you get the title to your car and sign it over to me? You have to date it, so just date it for the 22nd, since you won't be needing it anymore."

Several students had slowed down to follow the exchange.

"What?" he stammered.

"Look, if you're being raptured on the 21st, you won't need your car anymore. So why don't you sign it over to me starting on the 22nd? You've already stated that this is after the time when you will no longer be on planet Earth. It would help me out, which will likely look good for you with god. Plus, it will avoid issues of ownership for those of us left behind." 

I could hear some students appreciating this explanation.
"Oh, well I don't have a car." He almost begged.

"OK, I get it. Well tell you what, why don't you ask your parents or church leaders or whoever convinced you to stand here handing out pamphlets the same thing I asked you. See how strong their beliefs are when something tangible is on the line, like ownership of their primary transportation." I replied as I turned to walk away.

The sad thing  about all this is that actual real people are going to be hurt. The gullible parting with their retirements to help spread the good word about the end of the world. Some might think those hurt by these people deserve it, 'a fool and her money' and all that. But I don't. We prosecute con artists and frauds usually, but I guess if your con is based on religion you get a pass. 

Thoughts on Bin Laden

I can honestly say I am glad Osama Bin Laden is dead. In fact, I honestly believe that I could have given the order, putting US soldiers lives at risk, to potentially assassinate him. Could I have looked him in the eye, unarmed, and pulled the trigger myself? I would like to think so. if you can order someone else to do it, you should be able to do it yourself. But I do realize that it is not a trivial thing to take a life, not even a vile fuck like Bin Laden. (If he were armed, all bets are off. There's a big difference taking a life that is actively trying to take yours compared to assassinating someone.) I appreciate the decision Obama made to assassinate Bin Laden; I appreciate more the sacrifice the soldiers have made to carry out that mission.

Now that being said I am disappointed with fellow American citizens who celebrated Bin Laden's assassination. (For those who lost loved ones on 9/11, celebrate away, I would.) I remember when the towers came down, I was scheduled to give a seminar that day. While getting ready I heard that the first tower was hit and thought a pilot royally screwed the pooch (it's happened before). While watching the news the second plane slammed into the second tower, and the world changed. I remember not being able to leave the news for hours trying to figure out what was happening while in the back of my mind I'm thinking about having to give this stupid talk. Did I even want to go to the university? This may have been more poignant for me because I stopped working in NYC June of 2001, every day I took a bus from Union City NJ to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, to catch the A train to 168th St. I did go to work, keeping the news on the radio. Shortly after arriving, I received a call asking if I wanted to cancel my talk. Being the new guy on the block, I said I was ok to go, but was relieved when the decision was made to cancel it and close the university until some shit got figured out.

I was scared, not dramatically, but subtly because I did not know what was happening or why. Mostly though I was angry, I wanted payback. I wanted the perpetrators dead. I wanted answers and I wanted revenge. I remember the dancing and remember hating the woman in glasses. I got more pissed.

Osama Bin Laden is a maggot worthy of death. But why was that woman in glasses happy? Upon seeing that video, I would have ordered her assassination too. But FUCK, why were those kids dancing? I could simply take the viewpoint that these people are inherently evil but that seems stupid. Are those children evil? Maybe assassinating that woman isn't a reasonable response. Maybe these people have a perceived issue with the US and view this as some recompense. Maybe I don't know as much about the world around me as I think I do. Regardless, Bin Laden should be killed, his actions were not justified except in the mind of a madman.

So he is dead. Obama ordered his execution and the mission succeeded. No US soldiers were lost in the mission. It was a great success. So what did we do?

We danced.