Stop it, brain.

There are two things which my brain is thoroughly convinced I am good at, in spite of the fact that I suck at them both and have never successfully done either in my life:

Tap-dancing and juggling.

But I constantly, CONSTANTLY have dreams in which I demonstrate coolly casual, master-level expertise at both, and when I wake up I do so with the briefly-lived, sincere and complete belief that I am awesome at them. It lasts about 60 seconds.

To this day, I can juggle up to one ball without hurting myself, and tap one foot to a rhythm no more complex than a Britney Spears tune. That’s it. But try telling my brain that: it’s convinced that if I just tried them once more, the latent skills would all come flooding back to me and I would be AMAZING. Because I have all this dream experience, and that’s almost like practicing, right?

So I do. And I look like a dumbass once more.

Goddammit brain: I hate you so much.

And any time it doesn’t use lying to me about my juggling and tap-dancing skills, it spends dreaminding me how crappy and stressful high school was. THIRTY GODDAMM YEARS AGO.

If you feel you are in danger, then leave the danger zone.

If you see people walking into a store or a restaurant with openly-carried rifles and weapons, there is no way for you to ascertain what their intentions are. You can’t tell whether they are a “good person with a gun”, a “bad person with a gun”, or a “generally good person with a gun who could be triggered by some unknown level of confrontation into becoming a bad person with a gun” or anything in between.

The correct action to take is to remove yourself from the situation. Abandon your cart of purchases, don’t worry about paying for food; just get out. It is perfectly rational to feel unsafe, and it’s better to be out of the way in case their (unknown) intentions are not good ones. You should not feel obligated (legally OR morally) to stay and pay for your purchases if you feel your life is endangered. If you are in a restaurant and have already eaten your meal, you can call the restaurant after the fact, let them know why you left, and offer to pay for it over the phone. You may call the store and explain why you left your purchases in a cart in the middle of the aisle. You may also advise them whether you intend to return to the restaurant or store if you do not feel safe there.

It’s a risk with which companies that allow open-carry into their stores and restaurants will have to learn to deal.

Unless you can explain to me why I should always feel perfectly safe when random people carrying rifles walk into a Target store or a Mexican food restaurant or any other place where rifles are not part of the general commercial activities conducting within, then this seems to be a perfectly rational response. This isn’t even a gun-specific action: I would probably do the same thing if someone came into a Chipotle wielding a chainsaw.

Then again, “Stand Your Ground” laws in your state also allow you to take matters into your own hands if you are armed and feel threatened, and act preemptively. I can’t make any recommendation in that situation, but it seems to me that the law would be pretty clearly on your side in those cases.

Excerpt #9

“Have you met the Killersteins? Absolutely lovely couple, quite charming. You’d really like them. Unfortunate last name though!”

“Ha ha, yes. It does rather make them sound like murderers.”

“What? Oh yes, but they are: serial killers, both of them. Quite psychopathic. I meant it’s just so unfortunate to telegraph their intentions quite so blatantly. There’s just no subtlety: it completely *ruins* the surprise.”

- Excerpt from my upcoming book “Murderbia in Suburbia”, available in 2015 through every possible publishing company in the world simultaneously because it’s so awesome and they each felt unworthy to publish it by themselves.

Constitutional Rights for corporations, yes… and they can still be not equal to people.

Granting rights to corporations is what gives us freedom of the press and many of the positive rights enjoyed by unions and non-profit organizations that we support. I’m not saying I agree with the Court’s rulings in Citizens United and Hobby Lobby: I’m just saying that a blanket statement of “corporations don’t have rights like people have rights” and any movement to amend the Constitution to remove those rights has a very hard job ahead of itself to carve out the consequences we don’t like about granting rights to corporations (which are, at the end of the day, just groups of individuals) from the consequences we do like.

There’s a reason the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government and to free speech are in the same Amendment. The combination of those three is what gives us the ACLU, for example. Whenever you move to amend, don’t just think about what your proposed amendment will do to Hobby Lobby: think about what it will do to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, to the ACLU, to the AFL-CIO, to the press, and to for-profit companies that use their money for speech that you support, not just that which you oppose.

Let’s just say I’m not opposed to a “move to amend”, but when organizations that promote the amendment say things like “money is not speech!”, they aren’t clearly contemplating the consequences of that statement. Any movement that restricts a person’s OR GROUP OF PERSONS’ right to political speech and expression of political opinion will find it close to impossible to do without screwing up the very freedom to conduct robust, fiery and heated debate about the political climate which led to the creation of the United States in the first place. It took money to publish the Federalist Papers.

When a site like “Move to Amend” proposes an amendment that strips all Constitutional rights from any and all “artificial entities established by law”, I think of freedom of the press and shudder.

There’s probably a way to achieve these goals through an amendment process, but I have yet to see proposed a good way to do it that doesn’t undermine principles of expression, self-determination and self-government cherished by both the left and the right.

Open Carry MN

I’m launching a local chapter of Open Carry Minnesota: we’ll be openly brandishing IUDs and Plan B packages at the Hobby Lobby store that opens here in August.

Don’t worry, we’ll have the safety on. No chance of a contraceptive accidentally going off and providing choice to an employee against their (employer’s) will.

Teachable moments

The moment of the soccer 2014 World Cup that I wanted my son to watch the most was Brazil’s David Luiz consoling Colombia’s James Rodriguez after Colombia’s defeat. There is so much in that instant: sportsmanship, the ability as a male to express your emotions openly, respect, not gloating over the win but rather feeling empathy for the match losers, a heartfelt moment between two players who have both worked so hard and so long to be at the top of their game, the shared humanity of both players after 90 minutes of being on opposing sides, Luiz pointing to Rodriguez to the crowd so they would recognize him… even as they exchanged shirts, suddenly they appeared as two equal human beings, no longer differentiated and set apart by national colors.

It was a beautiful moment, and a very teachable one.

As a parent I want more moments like this. I want all moments like this.

I’m hoping my son will remember that moment, and not the time 24 hours later when his dad was screaming himself hoarse at the television for two hours.

Costa Rica moves ahead. Some not as fast as others.

I have several FB friends and acquaintances from Costa Rica who in the past few days have expressed dismay that the brand-new President of CR, Luis Guillermo Solís, raised the rainbow flag on the lawn of the Casa Presidencial in honor of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17.

To their credit, very few friends are expressing this dismay as clear homophobia, although some have (and are no longer my FB friends). But the other expressions, while more subtle, are still troubling.

The most common are variations on the theme expressed and forwarded in online articles that say “The Casa Presidencial should represent ALL Ticos, not just a few! Why don’t they raise the banner of the Dia del Agricultor (Farmer’s Day) or the Dia de la Familia (Family Day)? Why not the flag of the Roman Catholic Church?”

That sounds reasonable, right?

But I wonder if any of the people who express that point of view would be offended if there were a Farmer’s Day banner flying over the Casa Presidencial. How many of them would run to their FB wall to complain that we are not all farmers, and how dare the President single out just that one group? How many of them would criticize the new President for being so exclusionary, since most Ticos are in fact NOT farmers?

How many would stand up and protest for the rights of Ticos who don’t have a family, if the banner for Family Day were flying? Who among them would be writing letters to the Tico Times expressing concern that non-Catholics in the country were being oppressed and excluded by such blatant pandering?

How many would complain on the International Day Against Violence Towards Women, that the President is only recognizing 50% of Ticos because… they are actually Ticas?

None. You would most probably simply appreciate that many Ticos ARE farmers and ARE members of a family, and that recognizing them on their day is a nice tribute, even if you are a Tico who does not belong to their ranks.

But oh, the irony of complaining about the rainbow flag, on the very day of the year in which we should be thinking about how much violence and hatred and EXCLUSION is directed towards other human beings because of their sexual orientation and gender identification. Including in Costa Rica.

I would like to suggest that you consider that no one in Costa Rica is afraid of “coming out” as a farmer to their parents and friends and co-workers; that no one gets bullied and beaten up in their school because they are a Roman Catholic. That no one can get fired or thrown out of a bar because they are members of a family, and that farmers are not denied the right to marry the person they love, or adopt children or even have their partners farmers recognized as their own family members. NO Roman Catholic in Costa Rica has been denied visitation rights to their own family because of their religion.

And consider that perhaps the hatred and criticism towards Luis Guillermo Solís for making a the tiniest token of acceptance towards a group that has been historically sidelined, discriminated against and a target of violence and abuse ON THE VERY DAY the world is recognizing how big of a problem that is, is a sign for those of you who feel such vitriol to start thinking about why that abuse is such a huge problem. It’s because of that very mentality: cloaked in the “we are all Ticos!” excuse, it manages to generate outrage only when you are reminded that there are many Ticos who are different from you in ways you find uncomfortable.

That discomfort, that outrage, is exactly what the Día Internacional contra la Homofobia y la Transfobia is supposed to be fighting against. If you are feeling it, then perhaps you are missing the entire point of the day, the very point of raising the banner, and the pain and suffering your attitude is causing towards other people who are just as Ticos as you are.

And to my LGBTQ friends in Costa Rica, I offer the love and unconditional support you deserve, on this of all days; and the hope that some day the public statement that you, too are Ticos, causes as little controversy as it does today for the farmers, for the families, for the church members.

Defending the indefensible

The people who were defending the ex-CEO of Firefox and the Duck Dynasty character on freedom of speech grounds, and decrying their criticism as un-American censorship have been remarkably quiet in their defense of Donald Sterling.

Ted Cruz on Phil Robertson: “If you believe in free speech or religious liberty, you should be deeply dismayed over the treatment of Phil Robertson. Phil expressed his personal views and his own religious faith; for that, he was suspended from his job.”

Ted Cruz on Donald Sterling: “I agree with President Obama: Don Sterling’s comments are ignorant and offensive. Millions of Americans of all races love the NBA, and these racist sentiments have utterly no place in our society.”

So, I’m guessing that if Donald Sterling were a racist for *religious* reasons, then he’s an American Patriot expressing his religious freedom, just as the Founding Fathers intended. But if you’re a racist because you’re just a straight-up dumbass, then that’s unacceptable.

So you can be a racist or not a racist, a homophobe or not a homophobe, depending on where you think the voices in your head are coming from.

in Pope news…

Yesterday in the Vatican the Pope, the world’s most widely-beloved while simultaneously ignored religious leader, canonized two other Popes while a fourth Pope looked on from the wings. Then, with a cry of “ULTRAPOPE: ASSEMBLE!” the four Popes joined together to form a single giant mecha-Pope with the power to take credit for a single poorly-documented case of leukemia remission, while millions of other people worldwide continued stubbornly and blasphemously dying of malaria.

The UltraPope then schismed into 14 different SectPopes, each one with the infallible and unchallengeable authority to interpret religious texts in ways that differ substantially from the other 13.

Parallels

Since nobody asked me but I have a keyboard so suck it, here’s a couple of thoughts on “infinite parallel universe” theories.

Much has been said about the fact that if there are infinite universes, that anything that you can think of is reality in one of those universes. A universe in which Justin Bieber is a type of mollusk? Sure. A universe in which “Star Wars” is real history? Absolutely. A universe in which “Frozen” is NOT the best animated movie of all time? Definitely (spoiler alert: it’s this one. Sure, it’s a good movie, but c’mon…).

These are all theoretically possible in a reality with infinite universes that demonstrate infinite variety; but there are different types of infinity. Just because something has an infinite number of instances, doesn’t necessarily mean there is infinite variation between them.

Take the fraction 41/333, for example. It converts to 0.123123123123… with the ellipsis meaning that the “123″ part repeats forever, an infinite number of times. Infinity embedded in a fraction. So does the fact that there are infinite instances of that “123″ pattern mean that at some point there HAS to be a variation down the line where just one of the instances is actually “124″? Or does the concept of infinity somehow imply that several trillion instances down the fraction you’ll find the pattern “12zappos.com3″?

Of course not. There is a basic rule to that particular infinity, and that rule is that there are an infinite number of instances of that single pattern, but they will not vary. That rule will not be broken no matter how many times you repeat it. Infinity doesn’t work that way.

The same can be the case in the multi-verse: just because I can imagine it, doesn’t mean that there HAS to be a universe out there with that set of properties. For example, there wouldn’t be a universe in which the Earth as we know it today coalesced fully-formed out of the quark soup in the first millionth of a second after the Big Bang, except all the people are golems made out of spoons and gravity reverses directional pull every Thursday and the Sun is made out of Chiclets yet still has all the other sun-like qualities like heat and nuclear fusion and requiring Bono to wear sunglasses everywhere, even indoors.

There could be an infinite number of universes, but a finite variation of instances. Maybe there are an infinite number of universes, but there are only 60 different types of them, each type with an infinite number of instances. Infinite “you”s with no variation, 60 different “me”s that only show slight changes in handsomeness and sex appeal.

And I’m stuck in this universe, where obviously something went horribly wrong.

But here’s the other thought: if there truly were an infinite number of universes and every possible thing that you could imagine happening is true in one of those universes, then one of those universes has a version of me that has discovered the ability to jump between universes. Not only that, but there HAS TO BE a universe in which a version of me has discovered the way to jump to THIS universe, and will post a followup comment to this post that will prove this fact.

The fact that he will not (or *she* will not: I accept an alternate universe in which I am a different gender, and I have a prehensile tail I use to type) is good enough for me to disprove the concept.

In fact, in the theoretical all-things-are-possible-in-one-of-the-multi-verses, there are actually an INFINITE number of “me”s who will now jump to this universe instance and post comments below, crashing WordPress.

The fact that you can read this post is proof that this has not happened.