Saturday, 11 October 2014

09:09 – As of yesterday afternoon, gay marriage is finally legal in North Carolina. I predicted last year that it’d be legal in all 50 states by the end of 2014, and it looks like my prediction will be accurate. Only the radical Religious Right politicians are even bothering to talk about it anymore. It’s a done deal, and long past time. SCOTUS should have prohibited gay marriage bans when they ruled against miscegenation bans in Loving v. Virginia in 1967.

Once the acceptability of gay marriage is officially the law of the land, I hope the activists won’t sit back on their laurels. The next step should be to overturn plural marriage bans nationwide to legalize any form of plural marriage, particularly line marriages. The ultimate goal should be to eliminate government interference in marriage, period. Two people (or 20 people) should be married because they say they are, not because any government sanctions it.

Barbara called yesterday from the Gatlinburg area to tell me they’d stopped at the Bush’s Best Baked Beans Museum and outlet store. Who knew there was such a thing as a baked beans museum? I told her that if they sold by the case at a price better than the $8.28 per case/8 that Costco charges she should pick up a dozen or two cases on their way home. Alas, the outlet store sells only individual cans.

Kim’s African Grey Parrot disappeared or was birdnapped yesterday around dinner time. The bird lives in a very large cage, big enough for Colin to fit into, and Kim had the cage out on the driveway behind the house to let the bird enjoy the nice weather. When she went down to bring the cage indoors, the bird was missing. The door was closed and latched, so the bird didn’t get out by itself. Half the neighborhood was out looking for it, including a bunch of kids on their bikes, but no one spotted it. Kim was out driving around until well after dark looking for it, but no joy.

I know that some species/breeds of pets are frequent victims of kidnapping by thieves who resell them, but I don’t know if African Grey Parrots are one of those. Our neighbor Mimi thinks one of the neighborhood kids opened the cage door to pet the bird and was then afraid to say anything when it escaped. The bird’s wings are trimmed, so it can’t fly very well, just well enough to flutter up into a tree. I told Kim last night that my guess was the bird had flown up into a tree, tucked its head under its wing, and gone to sleep. Kim is out again this morning looking for it, and Colin and I also looked on our morning walk. If the bird isn’t found, it’ll be a major loss for Kim. She’s had the bird for a long time. I think it’s about 21 years old, the same age as Kim’s daughter Jasmine. African Greys can live 75 years, so Kim expected the bird to outlive her. She sure wasn’t prepared to lose it.


11:04 – The bird is back home safely. As I expected, she’d flown up into a tree and slept all night. This morning, her calls gave away her position. She mimics sounds that she’s heard and (apparently) liked. She does several telephone rings, including a cell phone ring tone that causes many people to reach for their phones. Her backup beeper sound causes people to look for the truck that’s backing up. And so on. So there she was this morning, sitting in a tree in Kim’s next-door neighbors’ back yard, making an assortment of noises that shouldn’t have been coming from a tree.

Kim’s sister tried to lure the bird down with a lollipop attached to a long stick, but the bird wasn’t having any. So another of the neighbors brought over her husband’s tall stepladder and a long stick and used it to nudge the bird until she fell off the branch and fluttered to the ground. Kim and Mary had a very bad night, expecting the worst, but everything worked out well. Incidentally, I’ve known Kim since she moved to Winston-Salem from NYC in 2002, and I’ve never heard her call the bird anything but “Birdie”. As it turns out, the bird’s real name is Jessica.


16:08 – Hmmm. I just took a six-question quiz on CNN, Quiz: What city is right for you? Here’s my result:

Screenshot from 2014-10-11 16:01:12

37 thoughts on “Saturday, 11 October 2014”

  1. We have neighborhood hooliganism going on all the time around me in Tiny Town. When I was growing up, it was practically non-existent. Anybody could forget their baseball mitt and still find it at the playing field days later. And it was rare when a bicycle was stolen, but when that happened, it was always almost immediately recovered by a network of kids finding out who had done the deed.

    I am really shocked by how many people who ‘find’ things these days, think it becomes their own property by just taking it and that they have done no harm to anyone. A couple years ago, one of the Aldi’s that I shop at in Indy, had a grand opening. The Aldi (and German system for all grocery stores) requires putting a quarter (a 1 €uro coin in Germany) into a locking mechanism on the grocery carriages, and Aldi had generously put quarters in almost every carriage, so no one needed a coin to use a carriage that day. As I was leaving, some guy was removing quarter after quarter from those carriages and pocketing them. I was pretty shocked, but he stopped and left when a raft of customers started swarming the carriages.

    I have known more than one person who lost a bird, either accidentally when the bird was loose in the house and someone opened an outside door and the bird flew out, or the same way as Kim, by setting the cage outside and the bird disappeared. Not a one of them ever recovered the bird. I do not know where normally-confined animals go when they get loose, but they never seem to come back.

  2. I just hope it didn’t encounter a dog or cat. An African Grey is a pretty large parrot and has a fearsome beak, but it’s no match for even a small dog or regular cat.

  3. The ultimate goal should be to eliminate government interference in marriage, period. Two people (or 20 people) should be married because they say they are, not because any government sanctions it.

    Do you think marriage should have any legal standing? The rules for a lot of things include very specific provisions that differentiate between single and married, taxes and inheritance being two of the more obvious. Or not testifying against one’s spouse, or making end-of-life decisions, or bankruptcy, or…

  4. No, I don’t think marriage should be any concern of government, period. There shouldn’t be checkboxes on tax forms for marital status. The census has no Constitutional right to do anything other than count people, and certainly shouldn’t be recording marital status.

    The only thing marital status should convey in today’s society is rights in interpersonal relationships, such as hospital visitation and so on. Otherwise it’s simply a contract between two or more people, which can be enforced as any other contract can be.

  5. I agree that marriage is nothing more than sanctioned discrimination. But it has been a way for religion to force its precepts and demands on everyone. And religion has done a very good job at maintaining its own mandates through modern-day governments.

  6. A suggestion that might lure Kim’s parrot home. Well treated birds do consider their cage a home base, even more so one that has been home for many years. Leave the cage open with some of the parrots favorite treats. The bird may enjoy a day or two “in the wild”, but it is likely the bird will return to its “home”. Some birds have favorite music or even a TV program, playing that by the cage could be another lure.

    You might also check with a Veterinarian who is experienced with parrots. They don’t always advertise, but if you check with your own Vet they may know of one.

    I learned how to handle parrots during my teen years while working in a large full line pet shop (in the days before imported birds were banned). My suggestion comes from a couple of situations from back then that turned out well. Most birds returned in less than a week, but in one case it was more than a month.

    Do not give up hope.

  7. This Amazon-promoted thing of different prices for different people is really gaining traction. I know from my own family’s having so many lawyers, that the big firms have always discriminated among their clients by charging some more than others. One firm I was once familiar with, had a very complex system, which everyone who worked there had to sign confidentiality agreements about how they were all billed. Back in the days when invoices were prepared by hand, not making a mistake was a very big deal, and invoices were double-checked by another person than the preparer, but computers came along and pretty much prevented mistakes in that area.

    Turns out that a developing story in our area is how widely diverse charges by hospitals for the same operation can be. A recent investigation showed it varies significantly from one municipality to another — by thousands of times in some cases, in hospitals owned by the same parent company. One relatively simple procedure was quoted as $400 in one hospital, $4,000 in another one not 200 miles away, and everywhere in-between in between them.

    Latest now appearing in my broadcasting trade news, is that the radio industry wants to do this. Instead of setting advertising rates via daypart (morning, midday, afternoon, etc.), a couple of the biggest chains want to charge based on what they think various advertisers are capable of paying.

    I mentioned a few days back that brick and mortar stores are trying to figure out how they can do the same as Amazon right inside the store.

    Of course, this is anathema to Europeans, but appears quite alright with Americans.

  8. Chuck wrote:

    “I agree that marriage is nothing more than sanctioned discrimination.”

    Chuck, how many times have you been married? Did someone put a gun to your head the first time? The second time? If marriage is sanctioned discrimination, as you say, why did you participate in such an evil practice?

  9. Because I would have been discriminated against via law were I not married. Not my choice. Not only would I have been disadvantaged in several ways were I not married, but so would my kids have been. Sad state of affairs to be ruled by laws created from the cartoonish superhero fiction of Christianity. Which has consistently denied the individual rights of gay people to couple up with legal protection, until a few days ago.

  10. Which has consistently denied the individual rights of gay people to couple up with legal protection make themselves miserable in a legally binding way, just like straight people, until a few days ago.

    FIFY

  11. This sort of tiered pricing is nothing new. Companies want to make a profit where they can, but they’d rather have low-paying customer than not, just to keep their volumes up. The trick is to do this in a way that doesn’t piss the customers off.

    The classic example are supermarkets and their coupons. We make enough money that it just isn’t worth our time to go through the local paper, or to check the back of our till receipts for a coupons, hoping that one might actually be for a product we use. And we avoid the store like the plague on the days they give our their “triple super-points”, because it is too busy. For some families, those things are important, they are willing and able to invest the time, and they can save quite a lot off their grocery bills.

    The key point is that everyone is happy here. We’re happy to save the effort and avoid the crowds. Other people are happy to save the money. And the store is happy to get their tiered pricing.

    Amazon is playing a dangerous game, because two customers putting in the same effort to buy the same product may be charged very different prices. If they haven’t already, websites will spring up that let people compare prices, and those charged more will be (justifiably) annoyed.

  12. Amazon is playing a dangerous game

    A practice the airlines have been doing for years. I could get a ticket from Nashville to Las Vegas for $200.00 but the person next to me may have paid $500.00 for the same trip.

    We play the game when we book flights. We scan half a dozen travel sites daily for about two weeks. We look for trends if we can. If the price is dropping we wait. Once the price starts to rise we book our tickets. Not always sure fire as the price has dropped after we booked. But we generally use sites that will give you the lower price if the price drops in 30 days. A few times the cheaper sites may not honor the practice and we miss out on a lower fare.

    And speaking of Amazon I just bought a $149.99 item, the general selling price. I had an Amazon gift card and another bonus available. My final cost was $0.18 but apparently Amazon will not charge a credit card for less than $1.00. So I got stiffed for $0.82. In my opinion Amazon should just eat a charge of less than $1.00.

  13. My final cost was $0.18 but apparently Amazon will not charge a credit card for less than $1.00.

    Next time buy an Amazon e-gift card with a $1.00 value, use that to pay the 18 cents and then use the remaining 82 cents on a future purchase.

  14. Sad state of affairs to be ruled by laws created from the cartoonish superhero fiction of Christianity.

    Marriage predates Christianity in European society by quite a while. The Greeks had it and the Romans had various forms of marriage, including a version that is similar to the “covenant” marriages that some states now have.

  15. Only the radical Religious Right politicians are even bothering to talk about it anymore. It’s a done deal, and long past time.

    Yep. The Republican Party leaders and consultants have been saying for quite a while that the country has changed from 60ish % opposed to SSM, to 60ish % in favor in a couple of years, and telling candidates to not talk about it. The morons in Texas got a constitutional amendment passed here that if you read the plain language, outlaws all forms of marriage – not just SSM.

    The latest battlefront for the SoCons is picking on the transgendered. All the arguments against them were deployed against rights for racial minorities and then gays. Not sure who it will be after that. There are also radical feminists and lesbians that are virulently anti-transgendered.

  16. Sad state of affairs to be ruled by laws created from the cartoonish superhero fiction of Christianity.

    Marriage predates Christianity in European society by quite a while.

    Good point — it would have been clearer if I had said “perpetuated by” instead of “created from”.

    However, neither the early Christian church nor governments of that period took interest in marriage, did not record them or regulate them; they were considered private matters, as they should be today. Nevertheless, it was essentially Christianity that began imposing requirements on marriage that were then copied and supported by Western European governments of the era as power there see-sawed between religion and secular rulers who were often at odds with the church but still had to fall in line with them, in order not to drive their subjects to turn on them. No doubt in my mind that it was Christianity that formed the rules governments still try to impose on those of us in Western society today.

  17. Transgendered…much ado about nothing, if you ask me.

    There are a certain number of people expecting special treatment, because they are such special snowflakes. There was one trans-woman (i.e., used to be a man) who was upset that she wasn’t allowed to compete in women’s sport. Sorry, dudette, you still have the heart, lungs, bone structure and to some extent musculature of a male. No, you cannot compete against women, because that would be unfair.

    Beyond that, all it takes is a really simple rule: you go to the restroom and locker room that matches your external genitalia. This is practical, it keeps the pervs out of locker rooms, and minimizes embarrassment on all sides. Why is this difficult?

    The main problem are the special snowflakes, who feel that their personal problems with sexuality entitle them to public attention. Cluebat: beyond family and close friends, nobody cares. They need to just get on with life, same as the rest of us.

  18. Almost but not quite, Brad. A bunch of people care, even though it’s none of their business. Just like it’s none of their business who marries whom.

  19. brad wrote:

    “Beyond that, all it takes is a really simple rule: you go to the restroom and locker room that matches your external genitalia. This is practical, it keeps the pervs out of locker rooms, and minimizes embarrassment on all sides. Why is this difficult?”

    No need for separate locker rooms and toilets, if there was no religion then guys and girls, young and old, straight and gay could all use the same facilities. And there are obvious economic advantages, not to mention that the expected queuing time for the fair sex would be reduced.

  20. I know you’re kidding, Greg, but I agree with you completely. The idea of separate bathrooms for men and women is stupid.

  21. I’m not kidding about merging bathrooms.

    Women seem to have no compunction about using the cubicles in the gents when the queue in theirs is too long. This doesn’t bother me at all, but I’m annoyed by the double standard – if I went in to the ladies I’d likely get 20 years in the slammer.

    It makes sense to merge the two, as the combined facilities could be smaller than the two separate rooms.

    As to showering with birds – that would take some getting used to, but so would showering with guys, which I haven’t done in a gang shower setup since primary (“grade”) school. That would take just as much getting used to as with birds.

    And I don’t think religion is the main factor. A lot of guys would either like the idea, or at least would not be bothered. I think the ladies – religious or not – would for the most part be fairly skeptical.

    And no, I wouldn’t spend all my time perving at the birds – unfortunately I’m so shortsighted they’d all be pretty blurred… 🙁

  22. And I don’t think religion is the main factor. A lot of guys would either like the idea, or at least would not be bothered. I think the ladies – religious or not – would for the most part be fairly skeptical.

    Religion isn’t the main factor in the sense you mean. But it is ultimately the reason. Body shyness is cultural. In our society it stems from the Judeo-Christian concept of nudity and elimination functions being dirty, sinful, and evil. In other societies that have not had this pervasive influence, such things are ignored.

    It actually goes all the way back to the myth of Adam and Eve if you think about it. They weren’t concerned about nudity until the snake (religion) pointed it out to them, after which it became shameful.

    All of that said, I will admit that religion is not the only cause, just the major one. Women inherently expect to be judged on their bodies and physical appearance, so it’s quite natural for any woman to be shy about nudity, and particularly for women who are not in the first blush of youth. These attitudes about nudity and elimination functions are unhealthy, to say the least.

    I remember having this discussion with Paul and Mary. Like me, Paul has no problem with casual nudity, particularly among friends. As he commented, regardless of the reality, most men’s self-image is that they are an Adonis, so why not get naked. Barbara and Mary were horrified at the idea. Like essentially all women, they think of clothing as something that conceals their physical “imperfections”. Yeah, right. Like anyone is physically perfect. Even the top models and actresses think there’s something wrong with them. They’re too fat or too thin, or their boobs and/or ass are too big or too small, or whatever.

    I remember when I was in college being present at an impromptu skinny-dipping session at a quarry during an outing club hike. All of the guys and many of the women stripped down and jumped in. The water was cold, so none of us stayed in for long. Afterwards, I was lying in the sun drying out next to one of the women who’d kept her clothes on. She was extremely attractive and had a great figure. She eventually told me that she was embarrassed to strip down because, get this, her pubic hair grew in what she considered an unattractive pattern. (This was the early 70’s, when very few American women shaved their pubic hair.) Geez. But it reinforced what I already knew, that any woman, no matter how attractive, thought there was something wrong with her physically.

  23. Barbara and Mary were horrified at the idea.

    It may not have been their own body image that was the problem. Barbara might have been aghast at the thought of seeing Paul nude, and likewise Mary at the thought of seeing you.

    Oh, but wait. That can’t be it. I have it on good authority that you look like Adonis.

  24. Well, I’m not bad for age 61, but I’m certainly no Adonis.

    Barbara and Mary were definitely worried about the other’s husband seeing them nude. They made comments along the lines of, “you guys strip down if you want to, but we’re keeping our clothes on.” Rats.

  25. I wouldn’t want to take my gear off in that situation either. I’d provoke unbridled lust in the ladies and envy in the guys… 🙂

  26. I’d provoke unbridled lust in the ladies and envy in the guys… 🙂

    Only in a blind nudist camp where visual images are limited to descriptions as defined by the owner of the body.

  27. Now, Ray, that’s not nice. I’m sure that if Miles_Teg looks diligently enough he’ll be able to find women who are turned on by someone who looks like a three-day-dead corpse and smells like sourdough starter.

  28. Cluebat: beyond family and close friends, nobody cares. They need to just get on with life, same as the rest of us.

    Not at all true. Transgendered people, even those that have had sex reassignment surgery, are subject to arrest in many states if they use the bathroom that matches their new gender. They are at risk of getting beaten up. They get discriminated in the same ways that racial minorities and gays are/were.

    Look, gender identity sometimes doesn’t match genetics. Sexuality is mostly genetic, with a bimodal distribution: most people’s sexual attraction is to the opposite of their genetic gender. A few percent are attracted to the same sex. A smaller percentage are along the continuum in between – bisexual.

    This is practical, it keeps the pervs out of locker rooms, and minimizes embarrassment on all sides.

    I don’t think there are many dudes that will get hormone therapy and dress as a woman so they can go into the ladies room, much less have surgery. And having been tasked with cleaning the ladies room at restaurants, it’s generally dirtier and more littered than the men’s room.

  29. @ech: Yes, I understand that mental and physical gender don’t always match. The thing is: I don’t care about the gender identity issues of some random stranger. Just the same as I don’t care to know about their personal health issues, or the spat they just had with their boy/girlfriend. It’s TMI unless you are family or close friends, and certainly does not belong on the evening news.

    I suppose I then make the classic mistake: If I don’t care, I don’t see why anyone else does either. Why persecute people based on some personal issue over which they have no control? We should all just get on with life. Unfortunately, as you point out, some people apparently cannot keep their noses out of other people’s personal issues.

    As for the toilet/locker-room rule: Would pervs go on hormone therapy to get into the other gender’s locker rooms? No, probably not, but I can certainly imagine someone cross-dressing and claiming to be transgender, in order to get in and take pics for their buddies (do note the careful gender neutrality of that sentence). Which is why I propose the rule: Go where your genitalia match. Barring certain rare birth defects, it provides a clear and objective guideline. If that doesn’t match the law, then the law is pretty screwed up, no?

  30. Or just eliminate separate bathrooms for men and women, which solve the problem and, as Greg said, optimizes things from a queuing theory point of view.

  31. Most non-chain mom and pop restaurants around me have only one toilet; same with smaller businesses — and my doctor’s office. But only one person gets in at a time, so there is no mixing of sexes.

    Actually, when I have had this conversation with people around here since I got back from Germany, it has been occasionally relevant to note that toilets are almost always manned in Germany, with an attendant (almost always female), who frequently waltzes in on anybody and everybody in the men’s room to clean, while men are in there doing their business. Never bothered me in the least, but to a person, every man I have mentioned this to, said they would not like that at all.

    Strange, strange differences between cultures. Going naked in the US is a moral sin that will get you examined for mental problems; walk through a park in Germany on any sunny summer day, and people will be lying on the grass stark naked, and nobody complains. Same at beaches around water. A good third of all there will be completely naked.

    Worse yet, the word “naked” in the US, often means ‘not really naked, but only stripped to undies’. Americans are definitely an uptight culture. Any reference to topless or bare feet in the media here is ALWAYS accompanied by super-critical comments. If I had a nickel for every time Britney Spears was slammed for the way she dresses, I would be rich.

    Well, maybe not rich, but enough for a lifetime of carriage quarters needed for shopping at Aldi.

  32. I never noticed attended toilets in Germany (or Northern Europe) when I’ve been there. I think once in London there was an elderly gentleman looking after the (large) men’s room. That’s it.

    In Turkey, it’s different. They always have an attendant and you’re charged an admission fee. Some are fairly basic, others are really quite beautiful and well decorated, with nice mosaics.

    A small office building I worked in in the early Nineties seemed always to use men to clean the ladies room, and women to clean the men’s room, which surprised me a bit. I don’t care about mixed gender bathrooms but I get annoyed when a woman is cleaning the men’s and closes it to use while she’s doing so.

    Many beaches here permit topless females, but I’ve never seen people sunbathing nude in parks or the beach (but nude beaches do exist here.)

  33. who frequently waltzes in on anybody and everybody in the men’s room to clean

    When I was in the Philippines the cleaning lady assigned to my barracks would clean the bathroom and showers while they were being used. The showers was just a large tiled area with multiple shower heads. You would be showering on one end while the lady was cleaning the other end. Bathroom had open toilets, no stalls. Crapping on one end while the lady was cleaning toilets on the other end.

    Took some getting used to the first few times I used the facilities. After those first few events you got so you ignore her and she ignored you.

    And lest anyone think it was demeaning, and OFD knows what I am talking about, those jobs in the military facilities were considered primo jobs for the locals. Pay was fairly good, environment was good, there was a waiting list for the positions.

    I had a maid for my room where she would do my laundry, make my bed, shine my shoes, clean the room. Paid her a few dollars a month. My room and the few dollars along with the other rooms and the few dollars a month she actually made good money for the area and was very happy to have the job. Did an excellent job.

  34. I had a maid for my room where she would do my laundry, make my bed, shine my shoes, clean the room.

    Ditto during my tours in Korea. Mostly “houseboys” there and a mile long waiting list since pay was standardized plus any tips or gifts on holidays you would give. Better pay than most nationals would get on the economy.

  35. Yah, on the “houseboys”, who were twice as old as us lieutenants. Low status job, but the pay more than made up for it and there was a line for the job.

    One of my “George” jobs was collecting the houseboy money for the battalion and giving it to the Korean guy who was actually in charge of them. That apparently made me his boss, so he surprised me with a Christmas gift — Oriental custom has employees giving their bosses gifts rather than the other way around. Well, I couldn’t let that stand, so I gave him a fifth of American whiskey. Oh, was he delighted.

  36. so I gave him a fifth of American whiskey

    My standard go-to gift. Being in an Army Aviation Battalion, houseboy coordination always went to the youngest Warrant Officer. On both my tours, I was a primary staff officer (S-4, XO) so no shitty-little-details.

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