Whazzup, Adventurers? Beeeeeautiful day here in the ATX. Sun is shining, a cool breeze, and not a cloud in the sky.
I've got a 4 day weekend coming up, thanks to Veteran's Day (thanks Dad and Grandpa Ross!!). The best word to describe that is probably SUPERAWESOME.
I didn't write about it because we were in the middle of the election craziness, but Michael Crichton died of cancer this week. Crichton was a complex guy. He had a medical degree from Harvard, he was a political conservative who wrote pieces arguing with the science of global warming (among other topics), and he wrote countless works of captivating fiction, including The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, Westworld, Runaway, The Terminal Man, Twister, Congo, Rising Sun, Disclosure, and Coma, plus many others (he was also the creator of the popular TV series, E.R.). He was also 6'9" tall.
Anyway, I always kind of liked the fact that Crichton had some sort of high minded concepts in his works, but that he kind of executed them with a sort of populist, everyman appeal (for instance, he incorporates scientific concepts and explanations for events in both Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain, but the plots are really driven by the horrific effects that are produced when science ends up failing. It might seem a little complicated to understand how genetic engineering produces dinosaurs or how a strain of germs begins to mutate into a plague, but in both cases it's not hard to understand what you need to do when things go wrong in these scenarios- you need to run away very fast). Crichton was good at creating a sense of wonder and amazement in his books, but still tying them to reality just enough to make you stop and question exactly how much of his stories had the possibilty of becoming reality.
Anyway, I enjoyed reading a number of his books (even some of the ones that were later made into terrible movies, like Congo), and some of the movies that have been made from them (Jurassic Park, Westworld, The Andromeda Strain to name a few). Via con dios, Crichton.
And I didn't really write about this over the past couple of days because, frankly, I didn't really realize what had happened until I spoke with a couple of friends yesterday who are gay, but a number of measures were passed during this past election which limited or stripped rights from gay individuals and couples. Arizona passed a ban on gay marriage that mandated "only a union between one man and one woman would be recognised". It was effectively the same measure that failed two years ago, when John McCain, who at that time spoke his mind rather than channelling the visions of the religious right, came out against it. Arkansas passed a measure banning gay couples from adopting children. Florida passed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and any union that approximates marriage. In California, proposition 8, the ballot measure that literally "eliminates the right" of gay men and lesbians to marry, has been passed. I find the whole thing very sad and disconcerting. I just don't understand denying equal civil rights to anyone in this country in this day and age (okay, convicted criminals may pose something of an exception).
I've heard the whole, "marriage has to be restricted to the union between a man and a woman" argument, but it just doesn't make sense. Are heterosexuals really so insecure in their identities that they're going to feel their marriages devalued if gay couples are allowed to marry? I can't see how someone else's marriage should affect the nature and/or quality of another couple's marriage at all. Maybe straight couples should be more worried about abusive marriages involving physical violence, since I literally see that sort of thing as devaluing marriage as an institution. That might make some sense. (e.g., if you're in a relationship where someone is getting beat, you're not allowed to call it a marriage. Unfortunately, these defenders of marriage don't really seem worried about that scenario.) If the only thing giving your marriage meaning is definition by way of exclusion, then your marriage already ain't worth crap, anyway, people. If two people love each other and want to get hitched, I just can't 1) see the harm in letting it happen, and 2) see how it's anyone's business other than that of the couple involved.
The Arkansas ban on allowing gay couples to adopt is perhaps the most troubling. At a time when we're hard pressed to find loving homes with capable parents who want to have children, do we honestly think that the sexual orientation of the parent is going to make them love their children or care for them any less? There have been no reliable studies whatsoever that have shown that children grow up maladjusted or with behavioral disorders as a result of growing up in a home with homosexual parents, and in fact, I'm willing to bet that children who grow up in two parent households, regardless of the sexual orientation of the parents, probably tend to do better than children in single parent households, just by virtue of being able to receive more attention.
Anyway, the whole thing is sad, and I'm sorry to see it. This kind of prejudice is a thing that, unfortunately, is only going to go away very slowly, as the anti-gay movement seems to be justifying their prejudice in this case through religion, which makes them comfortable with it on a level that I see as completely unjustifed in any sort of rational, moral sense. (If your religion tells you that you have the inherent right to hold yourself above other people, you need to seriously reexamine you religion. That way lies fascism, bigotry, and a whole host of other nasty tendencies.) I do think that things will eventually change in this country in terms of gay rights, as more and more Americans come to be better acquainted with (and less paranoid about) their gay coworkers, neighbors, family members, etc.. But the change could be a slower one than more progressive minds keep seeming to expect.
Anyway, the election wasn't all wine and roses for liberals. One big step forward, and maybe a few steps back...