Wednesday, November 28, 2007

nothing that dramatic

Life continues.

Thanksgiving came and went, much like the waves upon the seashore, but with pie. Kids were with their mom this year, so I went to Texas, where it was every bit as cold and rainy as Seattle.

My mom & dad are on a cruise in Mexico, spending our inheritance, which I heartily approve of. People rant on about high "death taxes", but if there is one tax I can get behind, it's that one. People should be able to leave their kids a little something, sure, but AFAIC it should be up to each generation to make their own way in life. Knowing you have a big inheritance coming is a sure way to make people lazy. Of all the kinds of money I don't have a problem seeing escheat to the state, money that used to belong to people who are now dead is first on my list.

Camila turned 37. She looks about 27 and I look my age, which is too bad. A waitress once asked if she was my daughter. Oh well. I cry about that sometimes. (Not.) *

Which reminds me: you know how sometimes you'll see a guy in his 50's (or more) with a sweet young thang on his arm, and people (okay, mostly women) wrinkle up their noses and say sniffily "She's young enough to be his daughter!" ?
That's what I aspire to.

Planning a fambly get-together at Xmas. Hannah has generously let me have most of the kids' Xmas break this year, which I appreciate. She has been very flexible with our custody scheduling, which allows me to see the kids and still travel to make money consulting. Which nobody cares about, but now that I typed it and you read it, well, it's too late to remedy.

I've been making myself laugh a lot lately, but nobody else really thinks my witticisms are that. Perhaps the first step on the road to insanity; if so, it's kind of fun.

A person I don't even know but have a (very remote) connection to is dying this week. 39 yrs old, seemed in perfect health, worked out, felt great, diagnosed with stage 4 terminal cancer 3 months ago. Good reminder about how life is a crapshoot and we ought to be thankful for every day.

I have more work than I know what to do with lately; still trying to get caught up and maintain balance of work, time with kids, and a little time for myself (hockey game tonight!).

David turns 15 Monday. Sam is 17 going on 11 going on 30. She's weathering the hard teenage years pretty well, actually. I get pretty frustrated with her sometimes, but then she turns around and does something really sweet or demonstrates some new level of maturity that impresses me. They're my kids and I love them.

That will be all at this time. Back to your regularly-scheduled (and less boring) life.

*And it's not why I'm with Camila, anyway -- it's not irrelevant, but it's not even in the top 10.
As she says, La belleza se acaba -- Beauty doesn't last. There better be something more going on, or you're doomed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I got a kick out of this...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

There's always something better you could be doing.

By “better”, I mean more moral, more helpful, more “good”.

The problem I have is that whenever someone wants you to get excited and take action about Things Of Importance (homelessness/global warming/badgers), they almost always try to make you feel guilty about some luxury; they want you to feel obligated to give that up in order to spend time or money on the thing they’re in a dither about.

Example: People tell you that you could feed a child in Africa for what you currently spend on Diet Coke. And it’s probably true. And I have no problem with them pointing that out and trying to influence you to spend your money better. (Diet Coke sucks anyway, and so does being hungry.)

The problem I have is when people get all Jello-sheriff-of-the-house about it, and try to tell other people that they’re immoral for their choices in how they spend their money or their time: “How can you justify buying a boat/snowmobile/diamond ring/pedigree lizard/whatever when people are hungry and homeless?” Etc.

But the problem is that whatever you do, you could have done something better.
· If you get a cosmetic procedure, I can tell you how you should have donated the money to pay for cleft palate surgeries for orphans.
· If you splurge at a nice restaurant, I can tell you how you could have eaten at Denny’s and spent the difference on insulin for diabetic children.
· If you eat out at all I can tell you how you could have prepared the meal yourself and donated the difference to the March of Dimes.
· If you eat any meal that cost more than $2, I can point out a way you could have eaten less/better/cheaper (or skipped a meal) and given the remainder to the homeless shelter.
· If you weed your garden, I can tell you how you could have spent the time caring for the sick.
· If you buy new shoes, or a vehicle, or a bicycle, or just about *anything*, I could tell you how you could have been more compassionate and enlightened with your choice of how to spend your money.

Even if you do “good” things, you could have done better:
· Read a book? You could have spent the time tutoring poor kids.
· Tutor some poor kids? Should concentrate on their critical health issues first.
· Mowed your neighbor’s lawn? Should have used the gas to drive poor sick people to the doctor.
· Etc.

As far as I can see, the reductio ad absurdum of “you should give to X instead of buying Y” is that no one should have a savings account, send their kids to college, have a hobby, play sports, buy a house, car, clothes, or anything else until everyone in the world is warm, fed, and clothed.

And clearly, that might be a little unworkable. Besides being unrealistic and an impossible philosophy to sell to anyone other than dreamy college students, it means that all the people in the industries that make clothes, boats, houses, etc wouldn’t have jobs, and everyone here would be poor because we sent all our money to Africa or India or Guelph, Ontario.

The fact is that healthy economies run on the idea that work is directly rewarded, that people can better their situation. If they can’t – if industriousness, innovation, and risk are NOT rewarded – you end up with Soviet Russia, where nothing worked, including the workers.

As much as the “trickle-down economy” is mocked, and even though a rising tide always seems to lift the yachts higher than the rowboats, it does work.

Now, having made the point that since you can never be perfect you might as well be Caligula, I offer another idea for your consideration: a couple years ago I read a fairly persuasive article whose point was that an income of something like 30 or 40 thousand dollars is all a person really needs in this country (USA) to have all their natural needs met and live in relative comfort (ie, not hungry, cold, or sick).

The author posited that to be truly moral we should probably live at this standard and give everything above that to a charity with an effective track record [Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders, etc]. I found it kind of hard to argue with, but luckily I am free to ignore the whole thing because I’m content with being evil. *You*, on the other hand, are now responsible for living up to this standard. You’re welcome.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

rambling on...

I always admired actor Tim Roth’s British accents, which as far as I could tell were absolutely pitch-perfect. What I didn’t realize was that, um, he’s British. So that’s why, you know, he can do the accent…

What he *does* have is an impeccable American accent, and does excellent regional British accents as well.

Another British actor with a great American accent is Hugh Laurie (A Bit of Fry & Laurie, House).

Aussie actress Toni Collette also does a good American accent, although perhaps not in a class with Roth and Laurie.

And speaking of Toni Collette, I quite enjoyed the movie Japanese Story.

Not that you cared.

Friday, November 09, 2007

voting redux

Last November I posted my opinion about voting (it's not that tragic if you don't always do it). The result was a firestorm -- or what passes here for one -- of comments.

Well, here is another point in favor of my position. So there.

my hero

Duane Chapman (aka Dog the bounty hunter) is in trouble for using the N-word and telling his son that he had to break up with his (black) girlfriend if he wanted to work for Dog or be welcome at home.

From portions of a phone call being played on the news (which apparently his son recorded and sold to the National Enquirer), Dog appears to want his son to break up with his girlfriend because she’s black. But if you listen to the whole thing, he’s actually just says “We sometimes use the N-word around here. I don’t want some F-ing N-word to wreck our show because she hears us say 'N-word' and sells that info to the National Enquirer.”

Aaaaahhh. So it’s not that she’s black at all. It’s just that she’s black and she may hear Dog’s family using the N-word. So that’s okay then.
Dog further explains his use of the N-word by saying that he *doesn’t* mean “you soul-less N-word”, he just means… something else, I’m not sure what.

In a bit of cognitive dissonance, Dog’s lawyer said “I’ve known Duane for 7 years; I’ve never seen anything that suggests that he judges people by the color of their skin or their racial background or anything but on their character.”
Oh, I see. Other than that phone call, you mean…