This is mostly for me so I don't forget. It's very much U.S. centric because, well, s'where I am.

I was just talking about politics with a friend of mine and about where I stand on, you know, things. It started a few days ago when she called me (not unkindly, mind you) a libertarian. I'm not, but it got me thinking.

Political leanings seem to be something that, for the most part, people don't tend to clarify to themselves until they're confronted by someone else and are forced to take a stand; otherwise, what they believe is as much a part of them as their pulse. It's perfectly human, but there's something to be said for approaching a position without the knife to the throat.

I'm not sure why I feel the urge to do this, but these are Things I Believe. They all come from one source, really: The Bill of Rights.

I believe in, above all, Civil Liberties, and I believe that there's no such thing as their erosion - you either have them, all of them, or you don't. Anything short of those full and enumerated rights is wrong. Period. Along those lines, I believe that the purpose of amendments to the Constitution are to grant a person more rights, not to take them away. I believe our flag can be burnt to ashes if it's believed to be warranted.

I believe that hate crime legislation is dangerous - what's going through a person's head when they commit a crime is immaterial to the crime and to the punishment, and that a white man beating the shit out of a black man while hurling expletives at him isn't any more of a crime than him doing it with your mouth shut. I believe that public registries of sex offenders are inherently dangerous as well.

I believe in the free market until companies start abusing people, be them employees or customers, and I believe in the power of unions, not because they're effective necessarily but because their existence is an imperative created to balance the rather large mallet employers wield.

I believe in marriage between any number of people who love each other, though polygamy raises some rather interesting bureaucratic issues unsolvable by merely changing 'man and wife' to 'partner one and parter two,' and that withholding that right because of who a person chooses to share their bed with is bigoted.

I believe in education as the solution to 99% of this country's problems, and that public schools should be cathedrals. I believe in the National Endowment for the Arts. I believe in universal healthcare in principle, but I'll be damned if I know how to make it work in a country this large.

I believe in the separation of church and state to the point of getting god the hell off our money, out of our schools and away from our courts.

I believe in the second amendment and that firearms are symbolic and an extension of the rights of a person to protect their property; I also think they should be registered and that every single bullet manufactured or sold in the United States should be uniquely identifiable.

I believe that the patent system is royally fucked up, that Digital Rights Management is an abomination and that the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act is causing our culture to stagnate for the sake of a buck.

I believe that information is just information and that it's what a person does with that information that has moral weight. And speaking of morals, I believe that life begins with consciousness which, sorry, is nowhere close to conception. I believe in the right of a mother to do whatever she wants with her body, though I also believe that teaching people about contraception would solve a lot of problems in that area.

I believe that legislation 'for your own good' is idiotic - not wearing your seat belt hurts literally nobody but you. Likewise, I believe that recreational drugs aren't as much of a problem as the government does and that many drug laws are, frankly, draconian.

I believe in the American Dream, that I am a patriot and that, looking around, I'm just a little scared right now.

I don't normally condone writing many daylogs in e2 to inflate ones number of writeups. But I haven't posted anything on e2 in over a year and I figured this would be a good place to start.

First of all I have lately become more interested in Wikipedia than e2 (although I don't contribute there). I think it is somewhat unfortunate that e2 hasn't enjoyed the success that wikipedia has (hell it spawned the whole freaking wiki craze). It might have been a better direction to allow anyone to edit posts made on e2. But I suppose speculation like that is fruitless :) I guess I now view e2 as a source of creative writing instead of a factual reference. Thats not better or worse, just different.

I have been wondering about, reading, and practicing some Taoist/Buddhist concepts of ego removal, controlling ones wants and desires, mental health type things. I find this type of stuff hard to talk about with other people. Especially friends and family who are religious. My distaste for religion has been growing with recent events but I think you just need to get the right mindset about it. For the most part, religion helps people on a day to day basis and is more of a social thing. But I don't want to digress too far :) I just find those buddhist things hard to talk about with others. It may be neccesary to work with others to remove ego and control desires and to maintain a detached mindset. Basically I am now looking for some sort of meditation class or forum where I can ask my questions and get some help and feedback. I am also especially interested in ego removal techniques. Detachment techniques. Ways to increase ones compassion towards others. However it is a trivial thing to gain a detached mindset temporarily, maintaining that mindset throughout the day/week/year is much more difficult. At some point I think you just need to stop focusing on yourself so much and help some other people out. That seems like the easy way to enlightenment - don't worry about yourself so much and dedicate yourself to others. Maybe I am just too focused on ideas and too reclusive.

If anyone actually reads this and is interested in Taoist ideas I recommend "The Tao of Inner Peace" by Diane Dreher

I went on vacation this last weekend (4th of July) and Fourthkid stayed home. On Saturday, I learn, she “hung with” Blade (can this possibly be the name on his birth certificate??), a young man she met about a year ago. At a bar. I’ve actually met the guy, and he seems innocuous enough. He’s got the hots for Fourthkid, actually.

Anyway, it was Blade and Fourthkid and Blade’s girlfriend, who was not exactly appreciative of Fourthkid’s presence. (Or, appearance. I went out and bought her a bunch of hot new clothes, more on this later.) Fourthkid said, “Well, jealousy is OK, but there’s adult jealousy and then there’s behaving like a 5 year old.”

I said, “No, you’re wrong. Jealousy degrades everyone to the age of 5, if not further down.”

“Well,” said Fourthkid (who is not really interested in Blade, so far as I can tell), “I’m cuter and smarter than she is. And besides, she’s a tranny and I’m a bio-girl.” A “tranny”, I learned by inquiry, is a transexual. She started out a boy, whereas Fourthkid started out as a girl (“bio-girl”). It’s going to be one hot tranny who looks better than this bio-girl, by the way.

Is it just me, or is every third person moushing around the gender boundary in a state of confusion? In a telephone conversation with my good friend Kate, who is a lesbian, I floated out the term “bio-girl”, which Kate had never heard. She passed this on to her partner Angela (both these women are my age (60-ish), and Angela is a former Benedictine nun) and Angela was suitably bemused. (And trying mightily – and not entirely successfully – not to be appalled.)

It’s not gay/straight. This whole thing is generational.

Is the world as we know it ending? I doubt it. My parents thought the world was ending too, when they saw our behavior, and lo and behold it didn’t. I suspect it won’t this time either. But think. What can Fourthkid do to rattle the cage of a woman (me) who is in fact well old enough to be her grandmother? Growing your hair out and saying fuck a lot won’t work this time around, and neither will drugs. Going the other way and being super-straight, not to mention stuffy? Her older sibs have that territory well colonized.

What can she and her contemporaries do to get EVERYONE upset, parents (the ages of her older sibs, and maybe a bit older) and grandparents (us) alike? This is a nice try, you have to give it that. It occurs to me that instead of being relentlessly understanding, which I am being, I should probably at some point fly into a horrified rage just to give her her pellet, to reward this behavior as it seeks to be rewarded, if for no other reason than to stop her from going further and further looking for that very reaction.

But y’know, I’ve played this game before, on the other end, and it’s a bore. I don’t want to play any more. Fourthkid might just have to grown the uff up and stop seeking to get a reaction out of me. Y’think?

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