Monthly Archives: October 2010

A judge has ruled that a four year old can be sued for running into someone (in this case, an old lady) on her bike. ED Kain brilliantly responds:

What we really need are more reasons to keep kids from playing outside, engaging in physical activity, and generally engaging in traditional ‘childhood’ or ‘kid’ behavior. Why let them ride real bikes – obviously a recipe for death and mayhem – when they could be playing biking games on their Wii? Better yet, we should keep them in school all day, year round, so they can learn to be productive individuals contributing to society, rather than little monsters gleefully running down old ladies.

Lawsuits are a good first step, of course, but certainly not enough to stave off the coming epidemic of overly active children. 4-year-olds found biking recklessly – training wheels or no – should be prosecuted by the full force of the law. Our prisons are under populated, and especially so in regards to this particular demographic. Time to crack down on these little hooligans, show them we mean business.

Furthermore, parents need to engage in pre-emptive measures to ensure this sort of behavior doesn’t come to pass in the first place. It is quite likely your child suffers from ADHD and should be promptly medicated. A combination of television, prescription drugs, and repetitive schooling should do the trick.

This ties in nicely with a link passed on by Abel about Halloween:

Even when I was a kid, back in the “Bewitched” and “Brady Bunch” costume era, parents were already worried about neighbors poisoning candy. Sure, the folks down the street might smile and wave the rest of the year, but apparently they were just biding their time before stuffing us silly with strychnine-laced Smarties.

That was a wacky idea, but we bought it. We still buy it, even though Joel Best, a sociologist at the University of Delaware, has researched the topic and spends every October telling the press that there has never been a single case of any child being killed by a stranger’s Halloween candy. (Oh, yes, he concedes, there was once a Texas boy poisoned by a Pixie Stix. But his dad did it for the insurance money. He was executed.)

There was actually an episode of The Commish dedicated to the topic. They had a psych-profile workup of the type of people that would poison children. And, of course, a resident of Eastbridge was trying to do just that. I figured it was one of those vanishingly rare things that the media blew out of proportion. I didn’t know that it didn’t exist. I suppose it’s like the Toyota unintended acceleration problem. Parents swore that they didn’t let their kids eat too much candy and so when their kids ended up getting sick, they feared poison.

Category: Newsroom

CNN has an article about church-going (black) women having difficulty finding a man:

In raising the issue, {San Fransisco Examiner writer Deborrah} Cooper ignited a public conversation about a topic that is increasingly getting attention in the black community and beyond. Oprah Winfrey, among others, recently hosted a show about single black women and relationships after a Yale University study found that 42 percent of African-American women in the United States were unmarried.

Big Miller Grove Missionary Baptist Church, a predominately African-American Baptist church in Atlanta, is holding a seminar on the question of faith’s role in marital status on August 20.

“Black women are interpreting the scriptures too literally. They want a man to which they are ‘equally yoked’ — a man that goes to church five times a week and every Sunday just like they do,” Cooper said in a recent interview.

“If they meet a black man that is not in church, they are automatically eliminated as a potential suitor. This is just limiting their dating pool.”

This, of course, runs headlong into a lot of what we hear around these parts, which is that women usually have the option of a good man if they want one and if they end up with something else that’s because it’s their preference. The theory goes that women purposefully bypass nice and stable men in favor of bad boy alpha males.

Some women, of course, do this. Sometimes because the women are rather dysfunctional themselves (like bring attracted to like) and some women just have bad taste. The implication, however, is that women are the ones pulling the levers and men (with the exception of precious few) are just along for the ride. In some environments this may be true, but in others it most definitely is not.

This is important to recognize because it is in these environments that single motherhood typically thrive. A lot of times we look at women that go it alone or get impregnated by some ne’er-do-well and wonder why they didn’t make better decisions when it came to men. Sometimes, of course, this is valid as some women have awful choice in men (just as the reverse is true). But it’s often the case that they are simply considering the options they have. A lot of women are sleeping with guys outside of the context of a relationship not because they would “prefer 5 minutes with an alpha over a lifetime with a beta” but rather because they lack other options. Their options are not to sleep with some guy that won’t treat them right or find some good fella who will, but rather accept the fleeting companionship of someone that demands sex as a prerequisite – often someone that otherwise treats them poorly – or being alone.

This is particularly true in certain segments of the population where there is a man shortage. Or a shortage of men with any discernible quality. The black community in particular is hit hard by the number of men going in and out of prison, exceptionally high unemployment rates, and high crime rates in general. When it comes to the black community, the number of decent women (defined as being self-supporting and having a relatively clean criminal record) vastly outnumber that of decent men. Now, maybe it’s true that these women should look outside the black community, but as others have pointed out, black women (like Asian men) are the losers in the musical chairs of interracial dating. It’s not clear that white, Asian, and Hispanic men are lining up at the opportunity. And most people want to date people with similar backgrounds.

But this isn’t just an issue in the black community (and this post is not really about the black community). If you look at the poor white communities you will often see the same sort of thing. While white men are substantially less likely than black men to end up in prison, they’re still far more likely than white women to end up there. Or homeless. Or, these days, perpetually jobless and unemployable. Society’s most successful and least successful participants are typically men. Women seem, generally, most likely to populate the center (after school is over with, anyway).

So imagine a graph to this effect. Women with a tall curve towards the center and men with a flatter curve and higher numbers on each end. Women on the left (dysfunctional) side of the curve, in the third quartile, are going to pretty substantially outnumber the men. Look at the third and fourth quartile as a whole and women are going to populate the most functional half and men the least. Women in the third quartile that are close to the halfway point are sometimes going to be able to get men in the second quartile, but you don’t have to move too far to the left before the general dearth of men in the middle is going to be a problem.

The long and short of it is that a lot of women on the left side of the curve are going to be stuck in their own half. That half is one in which women are going to generally be more functional than men. In other words, they are going to either end up with someone less functional than they are or they’re going to end up alone. Even the women on the fourth quartile are not in as advantageous a position as we might think because though they are outnumbered by men, a substantial portion of the men are either completely unavailable or undateable by any standard because they’re dead, in prison, completely dysfunctional alcoholics, pedophiles, homeless, or have a serious anti-social personality disorder. So at best these women have their pick of a very bad lot. The kind of lot that if they did date these men they would be further proof of how women are attracted to awful and dysfunctional men.

In reference to mail-order brides, Phi objects that women can be critical of the dating choices of men that they wouldn’t date. This is a fair observation. But I think it behooves us men to ask ourselves if we do the same thing. Case and point: Anne McClaren. It is unlikely that Phi or I would ever seriously contemplate dating such a woman (for any substantial period of time) even if she were quite attractive (and, actually, she is). Even if you set aside the fact that she’s got three kids (and a fourth on the way) to men of varying degrees of worthlessness and that she may be attracted to this sort, she has a host of other drawbacks that would be dealbreakers even if she had sober taste in men. She can’t hold down a job, can’t support herself, can’t take care of children, and has a history with drugs. If she’s half as smart as her sister is, you can’t tell it by virtue of the fact that she’s a walking, talking wreck. And, to be honest, given that I wouldn’t have dated her if I were her age and living in Appalachia and unmarried unless I was absolutely desperate, I am disinclined to be all that condemning towards her taste in men.

Not just, I should add, because of the kids in tow. In fact, since all three have been taken up by her parents, they don’t even factor in. But the kids and the drugs and all that are the result of an impulsive and reckless nature that I would find unattractive even if it all the bad stuff hadn’t happened yet.

And so it goes with a lot of the women that become single mothers to some guy that wouldn’t commit to a weekend much less to nuptials. I remember a while back when I was at Dharla’s birthday party and met an attractive and seemingly smart girl that got knocked up by some guy who promptly disappeared. A part of me wondered why she seemed to have such bad taste in men. I got to know her and discovered that she was really quite bitchy and entitled – and beautiful or not most decent men wouldn’t want to be with her anyway. And this girl did not seem remotely as incompetent as Anne. Neither Anne nor this girl is unworthy of criticism, but their removal (or the removal of people like them) from my dating sphere was really no great loss.

And not because she wasn’t attracted to men like me. Lots of women were unattracted to men like me. Some real quality women were very, very unattracted to me. But those women didn’t get knocked up by some semi-functional jerk or throw away a promising future for parties and pot and directionless hanging out. They weren’t the type of woman to do so.

Those that I’ve kept in touch with (thanks, Facebook) mostly married guys who were… a lot like them. A couple married guys that seem kinda like me, actually, except better looking or with better job prospects. Others married guys that were more… well, normal, like they were and I wasn’t.

I think along similar lines when it came to the ones I never asked out. Will Tyson‘s sister was cute and, though she never made any romantic overtures, oddly nice to me. I briefly considered making a move but was enthusiastically warned against it. And I thank them for it because even if she had said yes, nothing good would have come of it on my end. On her end… she might not be in prison right now if I’d tried. She and a later boyfriend tried were convicted of armed robbery (he robbed, she was in the car). Women attracted to jerks? Women finding a suitable mate? Women just doing the best they can? Chances are she was never interested in me because I wasn’t her type. But neither was she mine in any meaningful sense, my temporary infatuation notwithstanding.

This post isn’t a full-frontal assault on notions of hypergamy or the Alpha-Beta Theory. Merely, it’s to point out that a good portion of the women removed from the dating scene because they got knocked up or because they date losers aren’t really women that we would consider dating anyway. They’re women with two strikes against them often trying to get the most out of their situation or women making the same poor choices in romance that they make in other aspects of their life that make them not our type anyway. And oftentimes they’re actually quite decent people, but somewhat unintelligent or socialized in a way that we would be hard-pressed to want to introduce them to our families or simply from a subculture with which we are not likely to be able to relate all that well to.

Category: Coffeehouse

Maura Kelly, mentioning Hit Coffee favorite Mike & Molly, raised some eyebrows with this:

My initial response was: Hmm, being overweight is one thing — those people are downright obese! And while I think our country’s obsession with physical perfection is unhealthy, I also think it’s at least equally crazy, albeit in the other direction, to be implicitly promoting obesity! Yes, anorexia is sick, but at least some slim models are simply naturally skinny. No one who is as fat as Mike and Molly can be healthy. And obesity is costing our country far more in terms of all the related health problems we are paying for, by way of our insurance, than any other health problem, even cancer.

So anyway, yes, I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other … because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.

Just as am discomforted being in an elevator with someone that has massive burn scarring that has consumed their face. It’s not an unnatural reaction to respond negatively to someone aesthetically displeasing. Of course, the difference when it comes to obesity is that we get to tuck it into something self-righteous. It seems wrong to be disgusted with someone that had the misfortune to be in their house as it burns down. But the obesity thing, you see, is about health. Maura herself says that of course they could lose the weight if they only tried. Trying. If only they’d thought of that. To be fair, this is something I used to agree with until (a) I saw how abysmal the numbers actually were on sustained weight-loss of large amounts of weight and (b) that weight-loss through force-of-will was a losing proposition (or a not-losing proposition, depending on how you look at it).

I would actually be more understanding of Maura’s point if the show were about fat-and-happy people that were reveling in it by calling each other Big Mama and the like. While Mike and Molly make jokes about it, they’re pretty self-conscious jokes in nature. They don’t accept their weight so much as it is a personal struggle that they’re losing.

Maura has taken (in my view) an excessive amount of heat for this article, though. Her bio page now has some hateful comments and she has since issued an apology. I think this, as with many things, is something that people should approach more carefully. Not just Maura, but her critics. The fact is that a whole lot of people think like she does. Invective against her is invective against all of those that feel that way, which is most people who are not nor have ever been fat themselves. It’s better to simply point out the problems with being so glib about problems that they have never really faced and point out the statistics about how truly difficult sustained weight-loss (of large amounts of weight) actually is.

Category: Coffeehouse

Commented on here in the past has been interchange fees on credit cards. My position at the time was that it was probably a good thing that credit cards forced retailers not to pass on the interchange fees (because it encouraged people to get used to the concept of cards) but that maybe it wasn’t needed anymore (because we’re too comfortable with it). In the course of our conversation, Web won me over to the point of view that regardless of whether or not masking the fees was a good thing at the start that the time has come for retailers to be able to start passing these charges along.

One of the things that convinced me was the research I did based on some of the things he said, which demonstrated that one of the most damning things about the card/retailer relationship was that the latter would have absolutely no idea what the fees would be at the end of the day. That sort of lack of transparency is really problematic. As is, on a larger scale, the consumers being unaware of what the interchange fees are, exactly, is also something that I am less than comfortable with. I know people who get agitated and angry when retailers put minimum purchases on card purchases (which they’re not supposed to do, but sometimes do anyway) without any real idea that there are absolute reasons why they would do this. It also provides credit card companies the ability to inflate interchange fees without the consumer objecting, despite the fact that we get bit in the end. All of this aggravated by the fact that which card the consumer uses ends up mattering because some cut the retailers less than others. All of this provides no incentive for banks to keep charges down. After all, you can’t accept a low-interchange card without also accepting a high-interchange one if they’re under the same banner (Visa, Mastercard, etc). And so, I decided that passing these charges on to the consumer in a more transparent manner is a win/win for everyone except the card companies.

Apparently a little while ago an agreement was reached with Mastercard and Visa that allows retailers to cut slack to people that use the lower-intercharge cards. With all of the above in mind, this strikes me as a good thing. Some of the ways in which this will make things even more complicated for the consumer make me cringe, but the entire system was set up in a very complicated fashion and it’s not realistic for the consumer to be immune from this. Ultimately, I’m not sure how much good this is actually going to do since really only for the largest of the large retailers will it be worthwhile to complicate the system. But it’s a start. And it seems that it would have to provide more leeway for cash discounts, which are allowed but for which the rules are a bit ambiguous.

This would all be much easier if retailers would be allowed to do what my old comic shop used to do. They basically said that for any purchase under $10, they wanted a $.50 fee for using a debit card. They were actually upfront that they couldn’t do this and framed it more as a request. Even though money was tight, I complied.

Ultimately, what would be really nice is market pressure to simplify the process. I’m not entirely sure how to get there from here, though. The barriers-to-entry are so tough that those at the top can stick together without formal agreements that would violate anti-trust law and nobody is going to come along with vanilla-only cards and none of them are going to simplify things for the sake of a consumer that is likely to remain oblivious to the deals that are going on behind the curtains. You could try to regulate simplicity by forcing interchange caps and the like, but I’m not there yet for supporting that.

Category: Market

The bright side of wrong.

This is really the only way to combat prostitution, in my view. Go after those with the most to lose. That’s more likely to be the johns than the prostitutes. Speaking of Sweden, they have awesome thieves.

There seems to be a slate of “things you think you know are wrong” and this falls into that category. Stretching was considered sacrosanct in PE.

Happy to see that Happy Burger (the regional chain from where I grew up, pseudonymmed) rates so well by Consumer Reports.

Beijing is raising its minimum wage. As I’ve said, Chinese labor won’t be this cheap forever. Of course, they have quite a long ways to go before closing the gap with us.

Why innocent people confess. There’s really a thin line between interrogating the guilty to get them to confess and confusing the innocent into thinking that confession is their best option. Relatedly, dogs have been declared unreliable witnesses.

This sounds like a pretty sweet gig.

Does early voting hurt turnout? It’s counterintuitive, but makes sense in its own way. Even aside from this, I think that something is lost when we no longer have an “election day.” Our votes essentially don’t matter individual basis, particularly when it comes to the presidential vote. I mostly do it to reserve bitching rights and to participate in the process. By my perhaps old-fashioned way of thinking, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November is a part of that process.

I am all about increasing the gasoline tax and other things so that our roads pay for themselves. However, the conversion of existing roads into toll roads for some reason bothers me a bit. I like toll roads as a concept, but I think I like it better when there is a free, slower option.

Category: Newsroom

Are family films sexist?

They have all been smash hits: Finding Nemo, Madagascar, Ice Age, Toy Story. Fish, penguins, rats, stuffed animals, talking toys. All good innocent family fun, right? Sure, except there are few female characters in those films. There are certainly few doing anything meaningful or heroic—and no, Bo Peep doesn’t count. I know, there’s the ditzy, amnesiac Dory in Nemo, and the cute cowgirl in Toy Story, but these are sidekicks and exceptions. It’s weird, isn’t it? It was one area in which I optimistically thought progress must have been made—the realm of children’s films, of fantasy, slapstick, cute animals, and moral tales. Haven’t we just finally seen a black heroine in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog? It was startling to discover that a new study has found that there is only one female character to every three male characters in family movies. Even creepier is the fact that many of the female characters are scantily clad, and hot (the Little Mermaid wasn’t always depicted popping out of a tiny bikini top).

In the comic business, there is (or was, but probably still is) an ongoing debate on the subject. Why so few female heroines? Even accounting for the fact that comic book fandom is predominately male, female leads are dramatically unrepresented even when compared to said fandom. At some point in one of the conversation, someone came forward with a study that demonstrated one pretty big reason: males, and young boys in particular, are far less likely to read a book with a female lead than vice-versa. The girls rally behind Superman far more readily than do the boys around Wonder Woman. In comic books, this is far from the only reason. Comics are generally written by men and people veer towards writing their own gender. Further, the lack of female characters makes it so that female characters run the risk of being The Female Character. It’s not enough that Wonder Woman is female, for instance, but she must embody feminism or femininity. She must come from a culture of women. She must represent women everywhere. It’s not so surprising that the character would be unappealing to men. And so it becomes a sort of cycle that female characters are few and therefore their femininity must be enhanced and so guys don’t buy the comic book and so fewer comic books with female leads get put out. And to add on top of that, men have their choices of comics with male leads and can ignore the female leads altogether while women, if they’re interested in comics, have to collect those with male leads.

Some, but not all, of this apply to family movies. I don’t know the demographics of family movie writers, so I don’t know what that role plays. Unlike comics, family movie consumers are not predominantly male to my knowledge (and it’s more likely to be women that select the movies their kids are going to see). However, the fact that male leads are common does allow boys to avoid leaving the comfort zone of lead characters that share their gender (if not their species!). And it’s possible that there is something inherent in boys (either biologically or in terms of social conditioning) that make them less likely to see themselves in female characters.

But the study about male characters versus female ones does ring true to me. And I think that these things do matter. One of my favorite comic book characters of all time, Helena (Huntress) Bertinelli is female*. Another one of them, Ted (Blue Beetle) Kord, is male. While I love both of these characters, Kord was more of an idol to me. Partially because of the peculiarities of his character (his battle with his weight, for instance), but in part because it’s easier to see myself in Ted than in Helena even though, at the time, my personality was far more aligned with the latter. Having icons to look up to is important even if they’re bears or attendees of a wizarding academy.

* – The Huntress managed to avoid what befell Wonder Woman by virtue of the fact that she started out as a supporting character. Batman’s daughter, in her original iteration. When they brought the character back after a re-sorting of the internal history of DC Comics, they severed the familial relationship and she did actually start off in her own series. It failed, in part due to the comparative unattractiveness of the character (they intentionally made her plain looking at the outset), and she became a supporting character in the Batman line. Her character grew mostly in the context of her being a supporting character, though. A really good comic book series, Birds of Prey (which included the Huntress, among other), featured some of the most interesting female characters in comics. All of them got their start or became well-known primarily due to their association with male characters (Black Canary as Green Arrow’s ex-girlfriend, Oracle as the former Batgirl, Huntress as a rival to Batman, Lady Shiva as a villain, Hawkgirl as Hawkman’s partner, Big Barda as Mister Miracle’s wife, and Power Girl as an exception). It is positive, I suppose, that female characters can become quite dynamic and well-developed over the course of a male-dominated series, but in another sense it’s depressing when that’s the only real way it seems to happen.

Category: Theater

When our current byzantine system of home loans was created, nobody really expected this:

Representatives of Deutsche Bank told The Daily Caller via email that the bank’s involvement in the Jeffs case [wherein a guy named Jeffs was denied the opportunity to show up at a foreclosure trial -ed] was merely nominal, as it had to be named as the plaintiff in the case because it ultimately held the right to foreclose, not Chase, which originally made the loan and which was accepting Jeffs’ payments and forwarding them to the proper recipients. But Chase had tried to work out a loan modification with Jeffs, and he was current on his payments when Chase abruptly informed him that his modification was denied without explanation. Several days later, Jeffs found out that he supposedly no longer owned his home. He stopped making payments, and he hasn’t made them since. But no bank has been able to successfully repossess and sell the property. To the banking system, the asset backed by the house—the mortgage—has simply vanished into thin air.

Does that mean that Jeffs is finally in the clear? Not exactly. “Quite often, what happens in these cases is the bank creates new documents to fix the old documents,” said Goldman. “One of the most common things we see is a paper with a notary stamp that gives the bank the legal authority to foreclose. Well, anyone can buy those stamps. I can buy those stamps. A lot of what’s going on is law firms desperate to win a case are hired by banks who don’t know what those law firms are up to. Then the bank thinks it can foreclose, even though other banks also think they have that right, and those banks might not figure out what happened for a long time because the system is absolutely overloaded with foreclosures. And even if they do figure it out, suing to repossess a property that another bank already sold is a long and arduous process. So you wind up with a scenario in which the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.”

It’s easy to look at this situation and say “Oh, that’s all just a bunch of buck-passing. Of course they expected it and this is their way out of it!” or something to that effect. The problem is that the system they created is disadvantaging them more than anyone else. They have enough legitimate foreclosures that they don’t need to toss legitimate homeowners out of their house. And it’s not like once the homeowners are gone they’re going to make a killing in the re-selling. As the saying goes, never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence (well, incompetence and reckless disregard). This isn’t to let the banks off the hook. Right now I am not sure how much they care about “false positive” evictions except insofar as it is an inconvenience to them. As such, of course, we need to make it as inconvenient to them as possible. Congress and the White House have been trying to meddle in the housing meltdown since the start (well, before the start, many will point out) with forcing re-negotiations and the like. It strikes me as a flypaper sort of thing where the more they try to do the more they mess things up.

However, if they wanted to set up a system wherein someone erroneously foreclosed on is guaranteed a reward, I wouldn’t object. You would have to be kind of careful, though, because it’s easy to find a goof-up in the paperwork of even legitimate foreclosures due to the system’s inadequacies. You might want to limit it so that the only ones who get compensation are those that are actually up to date on their mortgage or owe none. This is one of those cases where it’s really tempting to stick it to the banks, but I’m not sure it’s in our interest. It is in our interest, though, for a lot of the pending foreclosures to actually go through. We can’t recover until we know where we are. If the foreclosures are delayed and smattered over the next decade, it’s going to prevent any rebound or growth in the market. Of course, growth in the market helped start this whole mess, but that was in part because the growth was a bubble. Suggesting that we don’t want a robust housing economy because of the housing bubble is like suggesting that we want Dow Jones to stay as low as possible because of what happened in the early naughts.

Clancy and I were talking about our plans for our future living arrangements (now that we’ve signed a longer-term contract, do we want to consider buying?). I know that for my part, buying is the last thing I am interested in until we know what the actual value of a house is within a reasonable margin of error. We can’t know that until we know how many vacancies we have.

Category: Market

As they say, it’s funny because it’s true.

Another one that I stumbled across looking for that first one:

Category: Theater

I almost called this “TV Review:” to fit in with the other reviews of new shows, but this is less about the quality of the show and more about a couple of themes it brought up. The basic premise of the Better With You (as with other shows such as “Til Death” and “Rules of Engagement” as well as the British show “Cold Feet”) is following the adventures of three couples at different stages in their relationship. In this case, you have long-married Joel and Vicky, long-term yuppie cohabitants Ben and Maddie, and newly-coupled Mia and Casey. The only two other things you need to know are that Joel and Vickey are Maddie and Mia’s parents and that Casey knocked Mia up and so she’s pregnant and they are immediately engaged.

In the first episode, everyone meets Casey and the situation that she and Mia are in. Maddie and Ben are stunned when the parents are extremely supportive and excited about the engagement and the grandchild. Though he’s a dimwit and not responsible like Ben, Casey is immediately accepted as a member of the family. The entire situation accentuates the fact that Ben and Maddie have been together for nine years and are neither married nor parents. Leaving aside the marriage issue (I’ll get to that in a minute), the parenthood issue struck home a bit with me because in that sense they are doing the “responsible” thing and waiting until they are settled down and entirely ready before taking that next step. And for all of these shows of responsibility, the parents start half-favoring the irresponsible ones that are unintentionally giving them a grandkid.

It hit home with me because my parents are getting antsy about grandkids. My brother Ollie has kids, but it’s not quite the same since Ollie has always been so independent, a little different, and not a Truman by blood. He did buy us some time, but they still want both Mitch and I to have kids. And since Mitch has already said that he won’t… well… we become the designated grandchildren-bearers. Naturally, they want us to do it the right way. But we’re already married and now that we’re not moving around every year or two (we hope) the timing is getting good. But for reasons I’m not getting into, it’s not going to happen for another year or so, assuming that everything goes account to plan. According to plan. Though they want us to do things the right way and though having a baby back when she was a resident would have been a logistical nightmare, they would have been ecstatic nonetheless. They probably would have been happy even if Clancy and I hadn’t been married yet, cultural disapproval aside. Sometimes, I wonder in retrospect if they would have been happier if one of those pre-Clancy pregnancy scares with others would have at least given them that grandkid.

In that sense, I could relate Maddie and Ben. “Wait… all we had to do to get you this excited for us is f*ck up?!” That’s pretty unfair, though, as they were very happy for us at our wedding and they do like Clancy a great deal (a lot more than they expected to like any woman that I would marry – they expected me to find someone that they disliked). But… it’s hard to overlook that had a pregnancy test with Julianne actually come up positive, they would have an 11-year old grandkid. A divorced son, most likely, but a grandkid nonetheless. Maybe more than one before the likely divorce.

While I could relate to Maddie and Ben on the issue or monogamy and children, they lose a lot of my sympathy on the marriage issue. On the third episode, they are upset that Ben is not allowed to be in the family Christmas card while Casey is. Joel, the father, had pretty simple reasoning. “They’re having a kid and you’re not and they’re getting married and you’re not. If you get married, he gets to be in the Christmas Card.” They object on the basis that he’s really family and that Joel is being unfair.

I don’t think he is. I mean, to me it’s something that could go either way, but something I see on TV pretty frequently is this notion that non-married, long-term cohabitants deserve the same respect as married couples. The nature and love of the relationship is more important than the piece of paper. I don’t think that’s inherently true at all. If you want the respect that marriage brings, then you should get married. If you want the rights and privileges of being married, you should get married*. This has been an issue on some legal shows I watch where unmarried people claim that they are being discriminated against because they’re functionally married but didn’t want to be bound by that piece of paper. Sorry. That piece of paper carries meaning. Legally, but also culturally. If you choose not to respect the institution of marriage, the rest of us do not have to go along.

Both Clancy’s and my parents held the same attitudes, so that’s probably where I get it from. No matter how obvious it was that we were serious about one another, when visiting we slept in different rooms right up until the logistics of it made it too impractical (our wedding, at that point, was imminent). It never occurred to us to complain. I suppose with our own future kids Clancy and I will be ridiculously old-fashioned by maintaining the same standard. It’s something I expect we will do even if they are cohabitating like Ben and Maddie.

* – Assuming you legally can. Gay couples get a pass outside states that allow them to marry.

Category: Coffeehouse

My father was raised in a small town in Ouachita in the state’s smallest county. It’s not a town that you hear a whole lot about. It is, however, the hometown of two former NFL players. Brothers, in fact. The older brother Luke Dawson was known for being a stand-up guy who was big into helping inner-city kids (despite the fact he was from the sticks) above and beyond what the league called for. His younger brother (over a decade younger), Mack, on the other hand, was known for being a problem case. He was the more talented of the two, but his career kept getting interrupted by team suspensions and trips to jail. When Dad told me this, he was never very specific. He just told me that Mack Dawson was bad news.

On a lark, I decided to look up Mack on a lark to find out more about him. Turns out that everything he got in trouble with was pot. Pot?! Seriously? But yeah. He got arrested for it, suspended for it, and imprisoned for it. I was expecting him to be something more along the lines of Ray Lewis. Well, not the murder part, but maybe assault. With a deadly weapon or something. Or maybe serious drugs.

But no… pot.

Category: Newsroom