A Next of Kin Relationship

In “An Unfinished Life”, there are two wifeless but heterosexual men who are very close. They are so close that one of the other characters assumes that they are lovers. But they’re not. And that’s good, because if there’s one thing I don’t want to see it’s Morgan Freeman having sex with Clint Eastwood. The movie is worth seeing. Jennifer Lopez looks good as always, and if you do fly other way, you might like the cowboy hats.

With or without sex, two people can be closer to each other than they are to anyone else. They could be injured war buddies who are unable to have normal relations; They could be old friends, each of whom has lost their husbands; Or, possibly, they could be gay lovers. The point is, nobody has to ask. Why couldn’t two people who are closer to each other than any member of the opposite sex, and are committed to sharing their lives together, enjoy the benefits that come from a next-of-kin relationship?

The various domestic partnerships that have been proposed as a substitute for gay marriage received hostility from anti-equal-rights advocates because even though they weren’t called “marriage”, they were framed as a marriage with a different name to appease homosexuals. The hostility was hateful and wrong, but it was powerful. And the way the domestic partnerships were framed as vehicle exclusively designed for gay couples meant that they would not be used by others who could, and should, be allowed to take advantage of them.

I would call the relationship a “Next Of Kin Agreement” or something like that. I realize that there would be little more than a semantic difference between that and a “domestic partnership”, and I realize that most of the people who would take advantage of it would be gay lovers. But framing the debate differently would support gay couples while allowing other deserving people to take advantage of a legal acknowledgement of their relationship.

I also realize that my timing for this post is pretty lousy. It’s too late now to prevent the travesty that has occurred in Virginia, a wide sweeping law which not only prohibits gay marriage but anything “bestowing the privileges and obligations of marriage”, even if granted in a different state. But if the issue comes up again, maybe we come up with something even better and more inclusive than what marriage equality advocates were hoping to achieve in the past.

The wrong message

I was pretty sure Creigh Deeds was going to lose and I knew that if he did, I’d be reading a lot of bullshit about how his loss was a referendum against the Democratic party.

Like I said, “Bullshit”. It was a referendum alright, but it wasn’t a referendum against Democratic values, it was a referendum against lousy candidates. Creigh Deeds was inarticulate, said almost nothing of substance, and then turned traitor with his problematic comments about the public option. Sasha and I had yard signs ready to go. When Deeds made his infamous health care comments, it completely knocked the wind out of our sales.

One thing they’re saying is true: The rush of excitement that gave us President Obama has faded. But fading excitement shouldn’t be interpreted as a reversal of opinion. The people still want health care reform. They want our warriors to stop fighting a war based on lies, they want clean air and clean water and they don’t want to wait for the economy to fix itself while a do-nothing government watches neighborhoods decay and jobs go overseas. And most of them don’t give a crap if some guy marries some other guy.

But it’s hard to get to the polls when your candidate is barely running, seems embarrassed to call himself a Democrat, and if incumbent, is doing a lousy job. Democratic politicians don’t need to pull back on Democratic values, they need to charge harder. And they need to stay true to Democratic values without pandering to the other side.

Democratic citizens shouldn’t give up on what they hoped for last year. These elections were big a set back, but nothing more. Politicians are only part of the equation. They should keep writing letters, join organizations, read news sources that tell the truth, and donate time and money to causes that are important to them.

The future is trending towards the values of equal rights, scientific intelligence, and compassion. It’s just a matter of time.

Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change

Melina tweeted a couple of times this week about Blog Action Day, but the thought got lodged in the back of my head somewhere and didn’t come forward until I noticed hers and Tina’s blog posts.

So I’m completely unprepared, and I considered posting nothing but a link to Google’s search results for “percentage of scientists who believe in global warming”. Because that should be enough, shouldn’t it?

The Global Warming issue is very frustrating. The people who are calling it a myth have all different reasons. Some say it’s not really happening but others say it’s perfectly natural. Some say it’s caused by geothermal forces from under the ocean while others point to melting ice on Mars as proof that it’s not our fault. And every time it snows an army of idiots wakes up and rehearses the same global warming jokes they told the last time it snowed. Even if the deniers outnumbered the believers, they would still just be factions of differing opinions, joined solely by unwillingness to take action.

While the deniers and believers point to each other and say “Idiot”, one interesting fact remains. There are some very intelligent people on both sides. Apparently, denying the reality of man-made global warming doesn’t prove that you’re an idiot (Don’t get confused: Basing that denial on a recent cold snap does).

So if you’re a denier, and base your denial on the research of respectable scientists, I’ll try real hard to hold off on calling you an idiot. The majority of scientists are believers, but you can cobble together an impressive list of scientists who aren’t.

You should still support global warming legislation. Mainly, because I have more scientists than you do, but also because even if you had the majority, and all I had was close to half, I’d still have an impressive number of them warning of an impending global disaster that must be averted by taking serious steps to reduce carbon emissions. What if I was pointing a revolver at you and you knew I only had two bullets. Wouldn’t you take action to keep me from pulling the trigger?

Maybe someday you’ll make an derisive comment about me and I’ll sheepishly smile and admit that I was one of those dopes who believed in the global warming crisis, just like I’ll admit today that I had water stored up in buckets ten years ago. I’ve made some bad decisions based on “expert” opinions. But even though the experts are sometimes wrong, you’ll more often than not do better if you follow the advice of the expert majority rather than follow the advice of those who are saying what you want to hear. The numbers are on my side.

Let’s give the majority of climatologists the benefit of the doubt.

The war on food.

While browsing Tina’s blog, I noticed she had a feed from the Polyface Farm Blog, which had a pretty interesting post about corporate efforts to shut down righteous food production.

I’m a little tired now. I was up late last night and I woke up early to do some chickens. I may write something that I’ll regret later and delete. So read now! Tomorrow it could be too late! With that in mind, I offer these thoughts:

Human production is turning to crap. Everything. The fine works of craftsmen are being replaced by plastic junk made by near slaves in factories supervised by people who have no connection to the product. It’s bad enough when it’s fake trinkets: Voodoo dolls sold in New Orleans museums that were actually made in China; Quilts made to look like they were sown with a grandmother’s love, mass produced and made of petroleum. They sell because they’re cheap. They make them cheap, sell billions at thin margins, make tremendous profits, and run the artisans out of business. Who cares if it’s hand made by a little old man in a 200 year old workshop who learned his skills from his grandfather. I can get one that looks just like it for $1.95 at Walmart. And because everything’s so cheap we buy lots of it and surround ourselves with gas-emitting crappy trinkets for which we have no respect. When the stupid thing breaks we’ll toss it in the landfill and buy another.

It’s cheap because of improved technology. It’s also cheap because of disrespect for the environment and for laborers, which of course, isn’t new, but technology has allowed us to take advantage of that disrespect in amazing new ways.

It’s bad when it’s trinkets. It’s worse when it’s food. We’re eating mass produced meat made from confined animals produced by near-slaves. It’s cheap but we buy so much that the purveyors of this poison make massive profits. It’s causing suffering to humans and animals by way of cruel treatment, deforestation, pollution, and the myriad detrimental effects of filling our bodies with chemical laden, disease ridden and nutrient deficient substances.

As the price of everything except the crap keeps going up in comparison to wages, it becomes harder to live without the cheap crap. In fact, the very existence of cheap crap justifies the low wages that make it easier to produce. Why pay someone enough money to buy real food when he can get ground beef from Walmart for less than two dollars a pound?

But there’s a small yet noticeable backlash against the mass produced substances that masquerade as food. And because there’s a backlash, the mass producers are fighting back, as described in the blog post that I mentioned above. If they win, it will be a tragedy. While I don’t actually believe that corporate executives are evil people conspiring against us, I do believe that the effect will be as if they were. We will have greater instances of disease outbreaks that will make headlines for a couple of days and then be forgotten. Animal cruelty will be institutionalized. The income gap will increase. Our waterways will be more polluted.

I can go on and on but as tired as I am I know that I might turn people off instead of encouraging them to read more. There are dozens of reasons to buy real food and encourage others to do so.

It is OK to indulge occasionally. I won’t tell you to stop eating at restaurants that probably use mass produced meat. I won’t tell you to spend $300 for burgers at you’re next cookout with friends, if you really can’t afford it. I support real food and real craftsmanship, but I also have made-in-china crap, and I occasionally eat fake food substances. I can complain all I want about mass produced trinkets, but I can’t write a blog without one. I think the benefits of communications technology outweigh the cost, and I make choices that reflect my beliefs.

But learn how important it is to support real food. Read Polyface Farm, See Fesh, read In Defense of Food. Then budget your time and effort so you can afford to support real food producers. Because we’ll all be better off if you do.