Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rules I Learned from My Father

Father's day has come and gone, and to mark the occasion, here are some of the principles for living that I learned from my father:

1. There's no shame in breaking unjust rules.

2. Always put the screwdriver back.  And keep a screw jar handy.

3. 80% of connection issues are cable problems.

4. When troubleshooting, change only one thing at a time.  If the change didn't fix your problem, change it back to where it was and try the next thing.

5. Only one person can drive the computer at a time.

6. Concentrate on what actually needs to be done, not what you think needs to be done.

7. Sometimes the only thing to do is wait until she burns herself out.

8. There isn't anything an intelligent person can't learn to do.

9. Zen isn't thinking about God while chipping ice, Zen is just to chip the ice.

10. Being up at five in the morning holding the world together really is an expression of love.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Liberal Social Experiment

GOP Congressmen object to a commitment ceremony held on a Louisiana army base.

"The liberal social experiment with the military continues."  You mean the one that allowed black soldiers to join Union regiments in 1862?  Or the one that led the U.S. armed forces to desegregate in 1948, well before the civil rights movement of the 1960's?

I think I'm okay with that.

Or perhaps he means the liberal experiment that abandoned the European tradition of an aristocratic officer class in favor of granting comissions for merit or ability?

I'm okay with that, too.

Perhaps he means the social experiment where soldiers, sailors, and marines can profess a multiplicty of faiths: catholic, protestant, jewish, muslim, buddhist, wiccan, pastafarian, agnostic, athiest, and on and on?  Where the bigotry and misunderstanding of ignorant fools at least doesn't have official support from the chaplin corps?

I'm okay with that.

The U.S. armed forces have pretty much always been a mechanism of social change.  There's something about living together, digging trenches together, fighting together, bleeding together, and dying together that tends to vividly demonstrate that we're all pretty much the same on the inside.  And when the fit hits the shan, it becomes clear that some of our social conventions and niceties (along with our prejudices and hatreds) are kind of foolish.

And I'm okay with that.


Although I have to say, I'm not okay with this "commitment ceremony".  Louisiana does not recognize GLBT marriage.  They don't even recogognize civil unions.  And current DoD regulations require that the armed forces aknowledge state laws in this matter.  I believe this is entirely unfair and inappropriate.  No reason not to actually allow full civil rights to everyone.

After all, the comittment ceremony isn't anywhere near legally binding.  There are no survivor's benefits for the spouse.  No assumption of writ of attourney.  Limited hospital visitation rights.  Difficulties in adoption and child custody.  All those legaland financial benefits that come with a marriage contract in our particular society..  And this for people in a dangerous job that could call upon them to go overseas for years at a time, only to become injured or killed in action.  Leaving their spouses with little legal or financial recourse.

That's just wrong.  And easy to fix.