Saturday, April 23, 2016

Bathrooms, Definitions and Reality

Transgender: A person who, most often in conjunction with qualified medical providers, finds that their psychological gender or identity is not synchronized with their physiology (the way their body is laid out), often resulting in severe stress to the person involved. More clinically, this is often referred to as Gender Dysphoria.

Gender Dysphoria has been recognized as a valid phenomena since 1980, with the Encyclopedia Brittanica offering a particularly good summation. This phenomena should not be confused with transvestitism nor drag performances - the same person *MAY* engage in behaviors commonly associated with all three patterns, but nothing implies that "because one does drag, one MUST be transgendered or transvestite.

A further common misunderstanding is that "Transgender" somehow means "gay." If only things were that simple. Heterosexuals can be TG, as can gay/lesbian/bi folks...and considering that set of implications (particularly post-op) is usually where my head begins to spin and I smile nicely and, until compelled to do otherwise by reality, accept folks for who they say they are, and move right on along my merry way. Rule of No Touchie and all that.

Heteronormative: Bad things happen when Womens Studies or Social Science majors are allowed near dictionaries, not unlike having a nurse with tuberculosis working the asthma ward. Heteronormative is a puffed up way of describing the idea that heterosexuality is the only legitimate form of sexuality and that all others are somehow lesser or deviant. The term, while shorter than the explanation, doesn't seem especially intuitive to me.

Cisgender: I'm going to stick with Merriam-Webster here and hope they don't hate me for it. "Someone whose internal sense of gender corresponds with the sex the person was identified as having at birth." This has absolutely *nothing* to do with whether a person is gay or not. A gay, bi, lesbian or straight person can all be cisgender (the simple, easy and cheap option) with equal fortune/misfortune if they are lucky enough to be dealt that card by the fates. It, like getting the transgender card, is a matter of luck - not choice.

Gay: A male that is attracted to other males at a romantic or sexual level. Yes, there are a whole bunch of different kinds of Gay dudes - give up the stereotypes, don't be a SJW. Just as there are a whole bunch of different views, personalities and philosophies within the Latino, Black and Asian communities (and also similarly, with loud victimhood advocates trying to claim the spotlight as the "true community representatives"), the Gay community contains everything from cops to lumberjacks to lawyers and to hair dressers - even actors and pianists.

Lesbian: A female that is attracted to other females at a romantic or sexual level. Yes, there are a whole bunch of different kinds of Lesbian gals - give up the stereotypes, don't be a SJW. Just as there are a whole bunch of different views, personalities and philosophies within the Latino, Black and Asian communities (and also similarly, with loud victimhood advocates trying to claim the spotlight as the "true community representatives"), the Lesbian community contains everything from cops to lumberjacks to lawyers and to hair dressers - even actors and pianists.

Heterosexual: That most common of orientations (there must be an AWFUL lot of hetero cards in that playing deck), boys that like girls and girls that like boys when it comes to romance and happy naked times - usually on a fairly exclusive or locked in basis. (No, six pack conversions DON'T count).

Bi-Sexual: In a more perfect world, twice the chance of a date on a Friday night. In our sadder world, these are boys and girls that're perfectly ok waking next to or romancing persons of either traditional gender - and usually get heightened suspicion from members of the Lesbian, Gay and hetero communities based on insecurities around fidelity (they have TWICE the opportunities to cheat on me!), "oh, you're just going through a stage.." and other issues.

Non-Binary Gender: Arguably a cultural phenomenon as much as anything. Someone who either doesn't fit (or doesn't believe they fit) the cultural roles and stereotypes of either gender, instead combining characteristics of both. The most obvious stereotypes relate to sissy boys and butch girls (tomboys) to use increasingly archaic terms, but in todays less restrictive environment more and more folks are saying some variant on "BUGGER OFF! I am who I am!" and stomping off to be their own selves, usually while rather annoyed about the whole affair. This term is still being defined, particularly amongst the SJW sorts and the more esoteric discussions involve a great deal of silliness.

Ok, this was going to be a very different post. Then @kurtschlicter and @winningatmylife chimed in on related topics on Twitter and I was forced to admit that, if I'm trying to be charitable, that an explanation of terms is necessary just so folks aren't talking past each other. I'm not a social scientist, a womens studies major nor remotely a SJW - but sharing common terms at least improves the chances of communication vs shouting past each other.

Grr. The phrase "do your own research" keeps leaping to mind.Definition time is now done.

Let us define our fundamental premises here. LGBT folks insisting on pushing the boundaries of "acceptance" ever further outwards? Y'all annoy the bejeezus out of me. Just for a bit, give it a rest and let the mainstream catch up - backlash is bad, m'kay? See: North Carolina.

Y'all denying the existence or validity of transgender existence, promoting hatred or fear of T-folks, and generally rolling about in the pig shit of ignorance whilst trying to smear that same shit on everyone in arms reach? You, too, just piss me right the hell off.

Given that it is unlikely that a shower of dreadfully well-targeted meteorites will simultaneously take you *all* out - generally reducing the level of whininess in the world - what say we examine reality and propose a solution. Ideally, any proposed solution should inflict educational levels of unhappiness upon activists on both sides - King Stork, if you will.

For the most part, North Carolina HB 2 has been - to be kind - ill-read and poorly reported. It addresses bathroom usage, but more as icing on the cake rather than substance. Katie Couric writes reasonable summary of HB 2's actual effects, and the National Review provides a worthwhile balancing commentary to the frantic hand-wringing of LGBT leadership and the Left. HB 2 is with equal certainty badly written, as are most of its clones in other states.

The goals of each party are fairly straightforward - the Trans community, understandably, desires a place to defecate and urinate (and where appropriate, change clothes and shower) in safety. Similarly, the "traditionalists" (for lack of a better descriptor) desire a place for themselves, their loved ones and those they believe they have a "duty to protect" to defecate and urinate (and where appropriate, change clothes and shower) in safety.

The problem lies in the existence of multi-user single-gender facilities for these activities that our society, rightly or wrongly, trains us to believe are not only shameful (requiring privacy) but cause us to be substantially more at risk while engaged in said activities. It does not help that there are actual predators that take advantage of persons engaged in such for a variety of criminal purposes.

The "safety" of single-gender multi-user facilities is largely exaggerated, if not entirely illusory, as shown by the vast number of arrests for voyeurism (peeping tom, for the unwashed), rape and assorted other inappropriate behavior in and around these environments. Despite this, many folks still believe that security and safety can be found in a sign posted on a wall and either a rule or statute barring persons of a given gender from a particular area. This is not supported by the evidence - at best, it filters the law-abiding, the stupid and the lazy - not the truly dangerous.

In short, Security Theater writ small and stinky. BUT THE FEELS!

Conversely, T-folk using the restrooms of their birth-gender - particularly and especially during and post-transition are at substantially elevated risk of physical and sexual assault (and potential arrest), and understandably displeased with the notion of being coerced to enjoy this heightened risk. Thus the push, however ill-advised, for access to restrooms appropriate to the gender they are currently living.

The concern of the Traditionalists are less about TG folks than about losing their largely mythical safety blanket (that is far cheaper to build and maintain than single-user facilities) and that predators will slip through this portal opened for TG folk to do their naughty predator thing. Most don't seem to care about, believe in or hold any special malice for the TG. As obnoxious as the second is, it ain't bigotry - it is denial of reality.

On the other side, TG activists believe in and loudly proclaim that they have the one true vision of moral purity and rightness - and any that might disagree are reason-free bigots with only the vilest of motivations and possible arachnid ancestry. Argument by insult, rather than reason or logic.

As hinted at earlier, a pox upon both. May the leaders of both hand-wringing and bed-wetting factions suffer cataclysmic projectile diarrhea until they calm the heck down, and reject competitive tantrum throwing in favor of reason.

Instead, I propose a solution set based in reason, logic and irritation. These people (both sides) have annoyed me.

1) The ban of multi-user changing or bathroom facilities in new construction, requiring an equivalent number of single-user facilities. Yes, it's more expensive, but you dolts started this thing - the both of you.

2) A $1 per roll tax on toilet paper to subsidize the conversion of legacy structures with multi-user facilities to single-user facilities. You like to start $#^$ so much, you can pay for it through your clean-up.

3) A reduction of the required number of toilets/urinals in new and legacy construction by 50%. This is both to save money on legacy rebuilds AND because y'all annoyed me and deserve to be punished by having to do the pee-pee dance in the hallway.

We may not be able to sell #3, but we can try. These folks deserve the dance.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

On Freedom of Speech

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." 

 - First Amendment, U.S. Constitution

The trumpkins and others seem to be making a great deal of noise about the Trump Rally shut down the evening of the 11th (last night, to me) in Chicago - idiots on both sides are crying out "First Amendment! First Amendment!"

They are idiots, all of them. 

The First Amendment (and courtesy of the 14th Amendment and SCOTUS, all lesser political bodies) prohibits Congress from (among other things) abridging freedom of speech. 

It does not shield speech from the actions or words of our fellow citizens or private organizations thereof - there are other laws relevant to such things, but by the time those are up for discussion the 1st Amendment is clean off the table. 

Did a government or government agent try to censor or suppress your speech (aka freedom of expression)? If not, you do not have a "speech" case under the 1st Amendment. 

So what about those other areas of law? 

If some large lunged type follows you about screaming "OOOK! OOOK! OOOK!" every time you try to speak, you probably  - depending on local law - have a case for harassment, and maybe to question their sanity in front of a judge.. Not a First Amendment issue.

If you show up in someones living room at two in the morning and start belting out "Eskimo Nell" at the top of your lungs you are not exercising freedom of speech. You are exercising breaking and entering, trespass, possibly burglary and being a bloody nuisance - the homeowner with a shotgun and members of and the local law enforcement agency will have things to discuss with you. None of your actions here are protected by the 1st  Amendment.

If someone puts on a large public event and wishes to exclude a person or class thereof, they can. They are exercising their 1st Amendment rights to control their message. 

Finally, if you go spelunking in bears dens and get mauled after poking the bear with a sharp stick - play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Still not a First Amendment issue.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

No. Genitalia are not a pass for assaultive behaviors.

"It is morally wrong to initiate the aggressive use of force."

That's where I base my take on it. If someone initiates force against me (hit, bite, stab, club, use projectile weapons against me, etc) their gender is utterly irrelevant to the discussion. Bringing an immediate halt to the bad behavior, regardless of gender/race/orientation or wearing of a beanie is at that point the critical goal of the day - by whatever means seem the best bet to do the job, ideally before I qualify for hospital time.

The same goes for a valid (believable to a reasonable person and actually achievable) threat. A person waving a knife and screaming "I'm a gonna stab you" qualifies - a person waving in their hands in the air and screaming "I'm a gonna puree you with my Imaginary Blender of Death" not so much. The knife-waver gets a three-dot discussion, the "Blender-Wielder" gets my undivided attention lest the situation change and a phone call for the kids with the nets.

"Play stupid games, win stupid prizes."

Women are not stupid simply by virtue of being women. Just as with men, some are dumb as rocks and some are geniuses with the majority falling between.

Women are not fragile flowers incapable of homicide, assault, poisoning or a wide variety of other criminal activity that must be protected (because they are too stupid/weak/helpless/vapid to protect themselves) not only from the world but from themselves. Women are, in fact worthy of the same respect we accord any man and - upper body strengthy aside - as tough or tougher as most men.

Women, too, can play stupid games. And earn stupid prizes. And as far as I can tell from the outside, women have a *broader variety* of stupid games available to them amongst themselves and with our cultural set-up.

Just as with men, they may get the stupid prize awarded at random by the fates - or they may try and knife someone and get shot.

"Don't start none, won't be none."

We all know there exist asshats in the world that undermine that statement as a description of reality - but we also know that the *ideal* begins with us. That if we work to avoid initiating either the use or threat of use of force in our own actions (to the extent practical) that the odds of things going rodeo drop off something fierce. The flip side is that one must be prepared for those on a different page.

So. I don't run about randomly hitting folks, nor do I favor others doing so - and that applies to either gender. I don't generally engage in horseplay - the potential for truly exciting response in the case of misunderstanding is generally not acceptable from my viewpoint. Not surprisingly, I don't encourage others to engage in horseplay for that and *other* reasons (unless folks know each other REALLY well, a "playful tap" can have bad or lethal effects on a pre-existing condition...).

And no, women don't get a special "It's Ok to physically abuse GC" license because *genitalia*.

Format Change

Folks who screw with templates and other folks blogs...suck. That will be all.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Cheesy Grits...

Cheesy Grits

A three-way recipe, after we made all three variants of these cheesy grits disappear rapidly last weekend during a gathering. It has nothing to do with low carb, and everything to do with delicious. 


5 cups chicken broth
1 1/4 cups uncooked quick cooking grits*
16 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (roughly 2 cups)
1/4 cup whipping cream (unwhipped)
1 tsp sriracha sauce**
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3 large eggs

For meat
Option A: 1 can hickory smoked spam, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices
Option B: 1.5 lbs breakfast sausage, cooked and drained***
Option C: 1.5 lbs Peter Grant's Mex Mix


Step 1:
Verify you have all the ingredients for your intended mode of destruction.

Step 2:
Butter a 9x13 glass or ceramic baking dish.**** Put meat of choice in even layer in bottom of pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Step 3:
Bring chicken broth to a boil in a Large saucepan.***** Gradually whisk in grits, bringing back to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened. (While grits are thickening, in 1 cup glass measure, mix whipping cream, hot sauce, black pepper and red pepper vigorously with a fork or small whisk. Set aside.

Step 4:
When grits have thickened, add cheese. Stir Vigorously! Large whisk works well. Keep stirring until glop is not lumpy. Add cream mix.

Step 5:
In seperate bowl, stir together the three large eggs. Stir into grits mix until thoroughly mixed. Pour into 9x13 pan over meat of choice.

Step 6:
Cook at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes. After baking, remove and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut with spatula and serve to the hovering crowd.

*stone ground grits can be substituted. Increase liquid to 6 cups & cook time to 60 minutes
**other and inferior hot sauces may be utilized, with predictably inferior results.
***drained is important! It avoids setting the stove on fire!
****Use of metal baking dish will result in cursing, soaking, scrubbing, more cursing, and more scrubbing.
******Not medium, you fool!
.****** Failure to allow resting time may result in second or third degree burns.

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Weekend Away...


Thursday afternoon found me in Bugscuffle, TX rapidly surrounded by friends, fellowship, food and a far healthier political and social environment than I am used to enjoying. Mine hosts were accommodating, the quarters most excellent and the company could have been little better.

Over the weekend I enjoyed some great lasagne, a batch of jambalaya from a roughly 90 year old recipe, and a wide variety of other culinary pleasures - and got to share several versions of my baked cheesy grits (one now known as "Tex-Mex Shepherds Pie") with friends, and even introduce a long-time southerner for the first time to that quintessential southern delicacy, the lard shortening biscuit.

One friend had an amazing new adventure, a kidney stone, that he seems eager to avoid repeating. He seems to be recovering well, and what with one thing or another my planned Sunday departure morphed to a Tuesday afternoon departure.

I had the opportunity to tour a gorgeous early Craftsman era mini-mansion (and only damaged myself slightly lurching through a subterranean tunnel therein) in astonishingly good shape after years of neglect - almost all of the original woodwork present, and only moderate weather damage.

Y'all know who you are. Thank you for a wonderful weekend(ish). I hope to see you all again soon, and ideally before October.

While as with any venture there were some bumps in the road, I am deeply grateful for this time away from home.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

On Trump, Elections

On Trump: Our nation has survived Andrew Jackson, Ulysses Grant and (soon) Obama as President. We have survived an administration that set up Concentration Camps Lite.

While Trump (at least in his public personality) is a brash, bare-knuckled candidate of no great depth (and clearly not my preference), if he is elected President the world will not end nor will the Republic collapse.

Enough with the hand-wringing, panic-mongering and bed-wetting.

Let us grow up and accept that, with the exception of Huckabee and Santorum, that any of the GOP field would be better for our nation than O'Malley, Clinton or Sanders. Within that paradigm, it remains that various GOP candidates (and perhaps Bozo the Clown) would be likely to provide better Presidential service than Trump - the key point is even Trump, unfortunate as he appears, seems likely to provide the nation substantially less destructive leadership than the (D) on offer - a do-gooder, a likely felon and a lunatic.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


A few brief words on the ‪#‎OregonNinnyhammers‬. The BLM station in question is at a wilderness location, well isolated from any population centers (cutting way the heck down on risk to bystanders). Casualties to media, regardless of who inflicts them, should be considered self-inflicted (don't be going where cranky armed people are in dispute, m'kay?).

If LE is doing their jobs (and we've not seen anything to the contrary), they have established a secure perimeter and cut all utilities (water/power/etc) to the facility and set up a nice warm camp for themselves. Given the sites isolation from civilization and the local weather conditions there is absolutely no hurry about anything.

Work smarter, not harder. In this instance, let the weather do the work for you.

Urban adventures, where non-media bystanders are at risk, are an entirely different kettle of fish and may actually justify intervention. An isolated federally owned medium-sized cabin in the wilderness isn't worth a single person suffering a hangnail, let alone getting shot/killed barring significant new data.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Texas, Open Carry and PSH

*My* friends in Texas are generally above average in cluefulness. I'm just blessed that way. They are not anticipating blood in the streets come the wee hours of New Years 2016 as Open Carry (the crippled pusillanimous version) becomes the law of the land in the Lone Star State.

Regrettably, many Texans are not nearly as well-informed and could not be bothered to actually look at how Open Carry actually works in the 45 states where it is already legal - in many cases for decades. Others are just anti-gun and, having lost their argument in the Texas Legislature, seek to re-hash it in the press amidst great hand-wringing and public pants-shitting hysteria - some going so far as to advocate "Swatting" persons lawfully engaged in Open Carry in the Great State of Texas.

For this second crowd - whether of the stupid faction or the malignantly evil faction - I have but a simple suggestion: "Knock it the fuck off!"

Texans just aren't that unique (Sorry, folks). They aren't uniquely evil, stupid nor incompetent. They have not discovered exciting new ways of cranial rectal infarction. In fact, Texans tend to be a bit friendlier and more direct than similar folks in the damp and soggy NW. It may be that the rain makes folks grumpier, passive-aggressive and foolishly lib-prog - but that is another discussion.

Yet, out here in Washington we've had Open Carry for decades - not the neutered Texas version turning up on Friday where someone needs to hold a concealed pistol license and have training - but the real deal where if you can own it you can carry it. It only requires a license (with no training requirement) to carry concealed.

Surprisingly enough there hasn't been blood in the streets, nor has there been mass hysteria. As with any other lawful practice where someone will buy themselves an invitation to go away, a stern talking to by local gendarmes or in truly special cases manage to stupid themselves right into a cell.

I'm not aware in the period where I've been present and cognizant (30+ years) of an Open Carry critter getting ventilated by a cop that couldn't tell the difference.

The main difference between carrying out here and back in Tx under the pre-1/1/16 regime is that I don't need to fret if my shirt gets blow open in the wind out here. It's the same gun, carried in the same holster, with the same number of spare magazines. There is *no* functional difference, unless I'm being consciously showy and using a Hollywood style buscadero holster (a darned rare occurrence, as playing ambassador eats time).

So. If you are honestly ignorant, stop wringing your hands and educate yourself on how Open Carry has worked in 45 other states. If you are a malice-filled SWAT-monkey eager to risk getting folks killed to push your toxic agenda of harassing law-abiding gun owners - I hope every single misfortune you wish on us strikes you, thrice over.

Falling forward....

In contemplating the tragic circumstances in Roseburg, San Bernardino, Colorado Springs and elsewhere - where terrorists, loons and terrorist loons went on homicidal rampagesone is faced with multiple choices in how to react.

You can tear at your hair and gather sack cloth and ashes for a rousing session of emotionalism with a strong theme of "there ought to be a law!" and "we need more gun control!" This lacks a certain amount of rationality, maturity or likelihood of actually accomplishing anything in terms of preventing shootings, mass shootings or the heat death of the universe. Murder is already very, VERY illegal (as is assault with a deadly weapon) and yet another law seems dreadfully unlikely to deter bad actors from acting badly.

You can campaign to address parts of the problem. While overall violent crime is down, mass murder is never a good thing and worthy of extra effort. This approach is somewhat more productive, if a bit long term and speculative. In this model you can work to improve immigrant screening, better fund domestic intelligence efforts, improve the availability of mental health care (and reduce the practicaly and perceived stigma of seeking out such care), seek to limit over-criminalization and work to isolate demonstrably violent bad actors - all this is to the good.

Despite the generally worthwhile nature of this approach (and I'd argue that if naught else, you score moral brownie points for such efforts), such long-term efforts fail to address the immediate "crap happening right here, right now" range of situations. These longer term efforts fail to address "What is the right action should it all go south right there in front of me?"

"Can't happen to me..." really kind of sucks as a plan. It may be unlikely, but the fates may make the choice to crap in YOUR hat one fine day and assuming that you are magically immune doesn't really prepare you for a better outcome than dying messily. Thinking it through and talking it over with folks you respect might at least allow for the chance of a substantially improved endgame.

Sometimes the very best option left on the table is to decide to die falling forward - the exits are blocked, the bad actors have numbers and logistics on their side, and life just generally sucks and appears to be a short term phenomena. A "sucks to be you" kind of day, if you will. The best option you have is to take down as many hostiles as you can on your way to the funeral parlor - if nothing else, every hostile you take down is one that is unlikely to ever get all anti-social with someone else in the future.

The key to doing this successfully is having made the decision, far in the past, just what the bar is for your personal final charge to glory - how bad does it all have to be before honor outweighs survival?

Give it some thought, and then some prayer you never find yourself in a situation so fouled up that it becomes a practical consideration.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

GC's Rules of Serious Social Interaction

Let's be really clear - I come at this from a lay perspective and my rules are based in that, not in years of gun-fighting, training, brawling or any of that other fun. I've been largely content to observe and learn from those who HAVE had those experiences, and the below is based on THAT and my own eccentric system of ethics and goals.


1) Be where the trouble isn't.
2) Failing #1, RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!
3) If, having failed at #1 and #2 being impractical for medical/moral/practical reasons - swiftly prepare to open fire at the center of what you can hit.

4) Repeat as needed until threat abates. 

Saying bad words with greater or lesser vigor at any point in this ritual is entirely your choice.  

Often #1 is fouled by other considerations ranging from "the only decent cheese shop in town is in the middle of the hood!" on up to "I'll be damned if I'll be intimidated out of my own city." How rational those motivates may be is a question left for the reader. 

If one MUST violate #1, try to avoid playing Lady Godiva. Don't go skipping naked through the crime zone with a bag of gold in one hand while singing "tra-la-le, please victimize me." Either be the visually baddest of the badasses on the block (and able and willing to back that up), or strive to fade into the background or as C/W singer Ray Stevens puts it "I just lead a quiet little life, sing my little songs, and don't do anyone harm" as you do your thing and get the hell out. 

Option 2 is fairly self-explanatory. Running away doesn't work terribly well if you are medically fouled up, aged or are entangled with mini-humans (or other critters) you cannot morally abandon. Using offspring and elders as bear food ("you don't have to the fastest - you just have to be faster than the next one the bear is chasing") is frowned on in most societies. 

The third option is best employed when things have gone thoroughly to hell, quite possibly to the point where survival is no longer a likely option. At this point, MANY considerations go right out the window as the goal shifts from de-escalation and conflict avoidance to conflict termination and acquisition of a sufficient honor guard. *

A gun isn't a magic wand. Some folks take a whole lot of persuading when you are trying to educate them on the virtues of non-aggression and require repeated high velocity lessons. Sometimes hostiles bring their friends, who ALSO require additional education. Thus is the lesson of GC's rule #4.

*The notion that ones status in hell is determined by the number of enemies that one slays in ones final battle - your "honor guard." Often attributed to Robert A. Heinlein.

Monday, August 31, 2015

I ain't dead yet...Situational awareness.

Just running the Red Queens Race, which sort of gets in the way of regular blog entries.

Tam's post on situational awareness  kicked over the writing thing for me though. Was down in Pioneer Square last week after being trapped in traffic and discovering a need for dinner - and the only surviving Cajun joint in Seattle is down there - and I like a real jambalaya.

Now, historically Pioneer Square has been a tad rough around the edges. Its cleaned up a fair amount from the bad old days of the 19th century when hookers were dropping flower pots on the heads of passers-by, looting the bodies and selling said bodies onto the UW Med School of the day for use as cadavers.

These days you just have the occasional shooting, stabbing, mugging and drunken brawl. It's become a combination of a social workers dumping ground and Frat Boy Central (with a few bars that would best be described as either catering to the late stage alcoholic or the super-annuated frat boy/girl trying to recapture their youth by re-enactment). Events are not unpredictable - you have a whole bunch of desperate and often addicted folks through whom you are dragging high-value and frequently inebriated potential targets.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

Anyway, I was down there at Marcela's and it was a lovely summer evening - I'd finished my meal and decided to take a little stroll to work off the pecan pie. It was, after all, still light out and in general things don't get frisky till after sunset. Also, at 6'2" and reasonably well filled out many of the frisky seem to be of the view I would make a poor target.

Walk was pleasant enough, but I realized a couple of things.

1) I'd gotten too comfortable. I'm used to hauling my iPhone 6 around in a breast shirt pocket and semi-visible. Various skanky sorts wandered up to ask if they could "use it" - which had me firmly saying "no, but thank you for asking" while reaching for various tools with a reasonable degree of subtlety. In the future, phone carry position will be more discreet.

2) This was the first time I'd been down to Pioneer Square *alone* in years. Alone seems to make a significant difference to the local predators. I think I will do any future solo  Pioneer Square strolls closer to high noon, regardless of how lovely the evening.

As Tam puts it - situational awareness is a constantly honed skill and it has a shelf life. If 95% of your existence happens around semi-safe locations in secure offices, malls, homes and other locations - you may have mal-adjusted assumptions and outdated data.

It seems to me Pioneer Square is, yet again, trending friskier. Protocols modified accordingly.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Same sex marriage, Tolerance, MYOB, Get Off My Lawn & the Constitution

As we grind towards a SCOTUS decision on same sex marriage, various socially conservative folks and organizations are suffering from an epidemic of pants-wetting and chest-beating.

In introduction, I'd point to the ever instructive tale "And Then There Were None" authored by Eric Frank Russell in 1951 that introduced the term MYOB (Mind Your Own Business) to the language and, to a significant extent, the philosophical landscape.

As with many things, MYOB is a multi-edged sword, as I'll explore later. Hang on tight...this may be a rough ride.


Until quite recently (on a historic scale), government more or less ignored the notion of who got married to whom. After the Civil War a variety of anti-miscgenation (no interracial marriage) statutes popped up, and in the early twentieth century heyday of eugenics the whole marriage license thing (i.e., "folks are too stupid to decide who to marry on their own! Government MUST STEP IN!") popped up.

However, beyond ensuring that participants in a marriage are competent and consenting adults entering into a civil contract of their own free will government has no legitimate role in deciding who can and cannot get married and its sole legitimate service is as a civil registrar and default adjudicator of disputed dissolutions.

Civil marriage, essentially a rather convoluted contract between two competent and consenting adults1, is a legal construct defining the obligations, privileges and responsibilities of those engaged in it (who gets the kids, what happens to property, survivorship, tax and legal rights, etc) and is somehow recorded in an official manner.

Some argue that even the default agreements defined by civil marriage should be dropped in favor of individually negotiated contracts of union, thus further lessening state involvement. See Alabama for recent efforts in this area.

The ethical argument is that civil marriage should be available to all competent and consenting adults, in such configurations as such adults believe will ensure their happiness - with neither subsidy nor penalty imposed by the state.

Religious marriage is an entirely different kettle of fish - a private institution whose activities, within exceptionally broad parameters, are protected by the provisions of the First Amendment. When little matters (say, human sacrifice or the use of peyote as sacraments) do come up for legal debate, they are held up against the harshest form of constitutional examination - "strict analysis" wherein the state actor (usually the folks saying "No. Human sacrifice is NOT ok." or "Peyote is bad, m'kay?") have to sell the judges (or SCOTUS) on the notion that not only is there some kind of compelling state interest, but that the state solution to that "interest" is  the least possible infringement on the right in question (here, freedom of religion).

Religious marriage can be considered either a second layer on the wedding cake, or a second sheet cake set parallel on the table to the first. Churches have performed marriages not recognized by the state, Churches have performed marriages not recognized by other churches, and the states have sanctioned marriages not recognized by various churches.

All well and good.

Each faith, within those very broad limits, gets to do its own marriage thing - but that marriage thing, by itself, bears no legal weight. This is also all well and good. Just because a particular faith doesn't like it if a Jew and a Catholic get hitched, or two muslim dudes (or dudettes) tie the knot, or when a Wiccan and a Buddhist of indeterminate gender get married to each other - doesn't mean that those things shouldn't happen - just that a particular faith cannot be compelled to honor or celebrate such unions.

Under such a relatively minor shift from our historic paradigm, everyone - more or less - wins.

Also under the shield of First Amendment protections is the right of people to make statements either celebrating or denigrating either a specific marriage ("YAY!" v. "Jason and Maria - the syphilitic leper marries the sociopathic nymphomaniac, we can but hope they do not reproduce") or a group of marriages as an entire class ("Same Sex Marriage is Bad!", "Inter-racial Marriage is bad," or even "Marriage as a broad general concept is bad!") - and then have those who disagree vigorously respond with criticism and unkind words.

II. You MYOB, too.

MYOB is a game everyone can play. Just be cause you marry someone that - for religious, practical or many other possible reasons - I consider exceptionally bad for either you or for society (or both), doesn't mean I get to do anything more than kvetch about it (and I should probably hold my tongue and let you discover your errors on your own). As long as everybody playing the marriage game is consenting, competent and adult - it's none of my business. (Note that offspring and policy regarding same should be considered a separate argument). 

III. Not everyone does it your way, nor should they have to...

Look. There are a bunch of different ways to do the marriage/family thing out there. So long as you start with competent and consenting adults - from a "does the .gov need to get involved" point of view, as a default you and yours should be allowed to go to hell in your own special and personalized way.

IV. Legal thoughts from a lay person

1) Yes. There are exceptions, with some states and nations permitting substantially sub-adult marriages. There are fights about "what's an adult?" and "what does competent mean???" and the ever popular "what's consent?" You'd think all these questions would be well settled, but no - even in the United States there are significantly different definitions for each of these terms.

2) Isn't marriage, and regulation of it a state level issue? Yes, yes it is. But two factors come into play - "Full faith and credit" and the broader requirement that states act within the bounds of the U.S. and their state constitutions. And off we go to Federal court....

What would you propose?

Get the state entirely out of the marriage business and limit their role to that of licensing and regulating private contract registrars (not unlike domain registrars), and beyond that dealing with the bad actors inherent to any situations where you have large numbers of humans interacting.

A few thoughts on the special snowflakes....or "Are folks engaged in long arm open carry the particularly badly behaved drag queens of 2A?"

So. Tell me how a bunch of drag queens showing up at a Catholic church and mid-service throwing a major hissy advances the cause of LGBT rights?

Or how would that same group of semi-theoretical drag queens, showing up at someones house, kicking in th
eir door, and starting to do a full-out drag show in the middle of the living room of a very startled resident improve LGBT relations with the broader community and protect and restore LGBT civil rights?

Finally, how would our same bunch of drag queens - now riding rental elephants complete with golden howdahs - crashing the local St. Paddy's day parade as a surprise participant improve LGBT rights/causes/etc?

In the first two cases, well before we would even have the discussion "well, how does this advance the cause and why was it a very bad idea?" we'd likely be having a lovely discussion of trespass on private property and breaking and entry...only then to discuss "gee, tell me again how this was such a great idea??" as the matter came up for hostile discussion the subsequent year in Olympia.

Any of the above would be counterproductive for the LGBT community (to put it mildly) and would merit (and likely receive) scathing criticism from that community.

Something roughly equivalent, less the elephants & drag queens & golden howdahs, resulted in a Supreme Court decision ( making clear that not only does a group have a right to associate freely - but that it has the right to refuse to associate.

This, perhaps, was not the intent of the LGBT activists - to score a SCOTUS decision effectively sanctioning their exclusion. This might, perhaps, be a lesson for those in the 2A community.

In other words, a group holding a private event (we'll get back to that shortly) has the right to insist on only admitting those it likes, that display "proper attire" (whatever said group might think such is) or persons that bring boxes of really good belgian chocolate. It may also, barring other provisions of law, ban from their event any person or class of persons the organizers feel either offensive or somehow compromise the First Amendment protected message of the organizers.

You will note the above uses "group" - not "LGBT" group. This is a game everyone can play, and was originally used to deny the right of a bunch of the LGBT Irish folk the right to march or participate in the Boston St. Paddy's parade - a private event.

Now, to our next question - WhAT IS A PRIVATE EVENT!!!!???

Now is a good time to grab an adult beverage and hang on tight.

A private event is some kind of event not sponsored or substantially organized by any governmental organization or paid for with government funds that has not been (for the most part, it gets a bit gray here) publicized as a public event.

As long as said event is held on private property and doesn't somehow violate other law(human sacrifice, as an extreme example, is considered poor form no matter where or at what kind of event you propose to do it at), participatory restrictions are pretty much fair game (consult your attorney for the few and odd exceptions).

A public event is *not* a private event. It happens when an event is announced as a public event or, in most cases, is a government sponsored thing (This comment applies ONLY to WA, and recognizes MANY exceptions). A public event or activity sponsored by a private body is still able to engage in some of the same restrictive practices that a private event may lawfully enact, but not all. IANAL - it's easier to "just not go there" and refrain from discriminating.

In WA, only Governmental bodies (specifically state/county/muni/odd-critters) are completely barred from most forms of discrimination - against gender/orientation/color/ethnicity/religion and, under separate statute, the lawful carry of firearms within the bounds of statue and precedent.

Now, the complex concept - you may believe (and even be correct) that you have the right to do something. That doesn't mean that the "something du jour" is a remotely good idea, isn't counterproductive, and might not look an *awful lot* like a false flag from the hostiles - but you have the *right* to do the "something du jour.*

It doesn't mean you should. It doesn't provide some kind of magic fairy dome immunizing you against criticism, even harsh criticism - particularly from those you claim to be helping who are in fact or believe they have been injured by your "something du jour." And it doesn't mean you have any right at all to demand support from those who you neither consulted, actively derided or simply ignored if it doesn't work out well.

It doesn't even mean that you are sufficiently festive in your "something du jour" that others - who if consulted and/or respected might otherwise have been neutral or even on your side - may not take steps (legislative or otherwise) to neutralize what they see as an active hazard to the well-being and rights of the community du jour (LGBT, 2A, Square Dance Association...fairly universal rule).

When that happens, everyone loses. Years long division that make working together well night impossible are formed, which serve only to ease the work of the hostiles (this is equally true whether we are talking 2A/LGBT/Warthog Breeders Association).

As someone with a wee bit of knowledge and experience of both the LGBT community and the 2A community - the LGBT community is "blessed" with its fair share of do-gooding "we want it all right now or will accept nothing" folks (aka "No Justice, No Peace"), and attention whores. The 2A community is equally blessed, heaven help us.

Neither community really benefits (beyond the "See crazy Uncle Sally over there? The one with the torch and pitchfork? Would you rather work with me or with him?" effect) from the non-consultative "in your face" my way or the highway approach. It can be useful as a last resort, but even then usually carries all kinds of backlash that can end up as a Pyrrhic victory.

The position "because four OC folk were denied access to a small Pride event I shall never again support gay rights for anyone" is a bit beyond the pale. It means you would never be able to work with potential allies, such as Pink Pistols. It means you would have difficulty working with pro-gun Libertarian folks. It is extending ones foot, drawing ones 1911, and opening fire upon the extended appendage. It also fails a fundamental concept of gun safety - target identification.

A far more productive approach might be to simply show up at the proposed site of the 2016 event for a *obscenely early in the morning picnic* with roughly a 100 or so of your best friends, OC'ing or CC'ing pistols, while wearing Pride shirts or Pink Pistols shirts (PP does not discriminate re orientation - if you shoot safely and not at them, they simply don't care)...and simply decline - politely - to vacate as you are present to attend a public event and to celebrate Pride held in a public place. If pushed, retreat to surrounding sidewalks and begin to pamphlet against bigotry.

Getting inside folks heads can neutralize hostiles, befriend fence-sitters, and build relationships that may be useful in pushing common causes forward.