Monthly Archives: January 2015

Freedom means people get to do things you don’t agree with

Bobby Jindal is one of the darlings of the conservative wing of the Republican Party. If you’re right-leaning, he’s done a decent job as governor of Louisiana. He’d make an intriguing presidential candidate as we slog through the cesspoo…er, move toward the 2016 Presidential election.

He also recently said he’d support a constitutional amendment to prevent gay marriage in the United States. “I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. My faith teaches me that, my Christian faith teaches me that,” Gov. Jindal said.

Sigh.

A couple things, Gov. Jindal–three things, actually:

  • One, the First Amendment says that we don’t make laws based solely on what someone’s faith says. That simple rule willl prevent the imposition of Sharia Law in this country. Someone might believe that Allah forbids women from driving or Catholics from being Catholic, but our laws don’t allow those beliefs to be imposed on everyone. Nor do they allow you to pass laws solely based on the Bible that you and I both believe in. Your amendment pokes a massive hole in those protections. Making the hole bigger won’t be that hard.
  • B, that same First Amendment effectively divides marriage into two aspects. The religious aspect is controlled by churches. If a church doesn’t want to marry gays, they’re Constitutionally protected, as they should be. But the other aspect is contractual. In the eyes of courts, marriage is simply a contract between consenting adults. In this country, we don’t prevent entire classes of consenting adults from entering into a contractual arrangement that everyone else can. There are bad examples of those limitations both in our own history, and in Europe’s.
  • Third, we’re supposed to be a free society. When gays or lesbians marry, it may offend your religious sensibilities (or the sensibilities of the people you want to vote for you), but it doesn’t materially harm anyone. In essence, gays’ and lesbians’ freedom are swinging their arms and not hitting any noses. They get to do that in a free society.

When I came of age and developed my political beliefs, I became conservative because conservatism meant liberty. It meant the government should stay out of my business and let me be free.

Your brand of conservatism isn’t really different than the liberals you claim to oppose so much. The only difference is in what you want to control.

As Barry Goldwater said, this reminds me of “an old Arabian proverb: ‘If the camel once gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow.'”

Unless someone’s about to be harmed, keep your nose out of my tent, please.

 


A humble request to women to help assure my eternal salvation

Author’s note: This post will make more sense if you read this first.

I’m a guy. A dude. A man. I react to the female body, which is completely contrary (somehow) to how I’m supposed to be in the eyes of God. So having looked at women for much of my adult life, I want to humbly suggest a list of clothing items and ensembles you and all other women should forego to prevent any discomfort or eternal damnation on my part.

  1. Jeans, boots, and a white cable-knit sweater. Or pretty much any other top. A woman is Satan if she wears this, and I don’t mean Miroslav Satan the hockey player. I mean the guy in red pajamas with a tail.
  2. Any outfit that features red pajamas and a tail. And horns. Really any Halloween costume, when it comes right down to it.
  3. Oversized sports jerseys with shorts, but the sports jersey is long enough to hide the shorts. This combination has been helping assure God’s eternal anger toward me since 1984. It’s just wrong and I wish your people would stop.
  4. Anything that shows shoulder. Because even your shoulders are sexy.
  5. baseball cap with a ponytail that goes through the hole thing in the back.
  6. Two-piece bathing suits. By wearing a bikini, you aren’t leaving anything to the imagination.
  7. One-piece bathing suits. By covering up, you’re forcing me…FORCING ME…to use my imagination. How dare you!
  8. Overalls. Especially with a t-shirt that hugs your torso underneath. You people only wear this to keep me out of heaven.
  9. Fatigues. A woman in a uniform? I know the only reason they wer fatigues is because they want to look sexy.
  10. Anything that hints at any presence of breasts under your shirt. I’ll just say it: breasts are a giant distraction. And you only have them so that you’ll look sexy.
  11. Anything that hints at any presence of your thighs or butt. Not just yoga pants, but jeans, or anything else that isn’t baggy below the waist. Also included in this item is ski pants.
  12. Make-up. I know you only go to that much trouble so men will lust after you.
  13. Any wet clothing. Wet equals form-fitting equals the devil’s workshop.
  14. While we’re talking about wet, wet suits. Even if they’re insulated, they’re form fitting. Show a little respect. Not sure what you’d wear scuba diving, but really isn’t it better to not scuba dive if wet suits cause a brother to stumble?
  15. Long underwear. I know, you don’t wear them where men can see them, but we know they’re there and they fit your form. And they’re sexy that way.

That’s an initial list. As a man, I am powerless against all these forms of clothing. In a free society, your right to wear these things should end at the point of my discomfort. Basically, if I got to hell, it’s your fault.


I think most reasonable people will agree that if you stay away from these clothes, we’ll all be a lot better off.

Jesus and I thank you.


Running to the fight

In the finale of LOST, there’s the climactic scene where Jack and Locke (the smoke monster Locke, not the dead Locke*) fight on a cliff. (* — It makes sense if you watched the show. Well, it probably makes sense. Maybe.)

If you watched the show, you know that Jack’s trek to that fight began because he was flying his father’s body back from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles when some guy forgot to push a button and the plane crashed. He didn’t ask to be in a plane crash. Because of a series of events–some of which Jack influenced and many he didn’t–he wound up fighting an evil entity to the death.

I like the beginning of the fight. Jack has the high ground and calls Locke to start the fight. Then he runs, sprints, toward him to engage in what has to be done.

Usually in fights like that, there’s some circling and reluctance, but not this one. Jack knows that fighting this guy will suck. It will probably be costly (it was; Jack eventually died from it). But it had to be done and he sprinted toward it.

It reminds me of a circumstance a relative went through. She got a concussion and missed a ton of class, but she also missed the deadline for dropping the class. She wound up teaching herself a lot of the content of the class and getting a good grade, anyway.

We can discuss whether the school should have been more pro-active in helping her deal with it, but that’s really beyond the scope of this discussion. The circumstance sucked. It was probably unfair, but it was what it was. And she did what she needed to do to succeed.

That’s an amazing example. She could have stopped at the (righteous) argument that she was done wrong, but that wouldn’t fix the problem. So she did a hard thing and succeeded anyway. I hope her actions in this regard will stick with her longer than the series of missteps that caused the situation in the first place.

Look, this isn’t an absolution of people who wrong others. We can’t exist without justice. If there are issues, they need to be addressed. But in the meantime, sometimes you have to make your own justice and overcome the crap that happens to you, even if it isn’t fair.

It’s wrong and it’s terrible, but it’s also life and we only get one of those.

I want people around me who run to the fight when it’s inevitable. I want to be the guy who runs to the fight when it’s inevitable. Too often, I’m not.

Running to the fight gives you a chance to win. Letting the fight happen to you means you’ll always lose.

 


The dirty secret about Deflategate

The National Football League has more money that God and Bill Gates combined. In 2012, the leagues revenue was more than $9 billion. If you want to air an ad on the Super Bowl, prices start at $4.5 million for 30 seconds, up 12.5 percent over last year.

And yet, the league doesn’t have a framework in place to stop dumbass issues like deflategate, in which the Patriots allegedly used underinflated footballs and gained a supposed edge against the team they beat in the AFC championship game, the Indianapolis Colts. Deflated footballs are easier to grip and catch, you see. And each team provides the balls when they’re on offense, which gives the Patriots an advantage and isn’t stupid at all.

In reality, in spite of the coverage and the moans of grievous harm, this will go away as soon as the teams arrive in Phoenix. It has to. The league will want it to. The league needs it to.

That’s because if the NFL really wanted to make sure everyone used appropriately inflated balls, they have the money to do it.

In baseball, the home teams provide baseballs in sealed packages that are delivered to umpires before the game. The umpires inspect the balls before they’re used. From the time the seal is broken on the ball until it’s used, the umpires have custody. They’re are full-time employees and that’s part of the job.

For the AFC Championship game, the footballs that were used were inspected by a referee, who said they complied to league standards. So the balls were manipulated sometime during the game–when they are controlled by the teams.

A league that has $9 billion dollars at its disposal each year could probably find a way to hire a few full-time people to supply and control balls until they’re used in the game. They could hire an extra official–the ball judge. They could hire a Big-Four accounting firm, like they do for every major awards show. Allowing the teams to control the balls used in play is, you know, a conflict of interest.

If the league were serious about this issue, the conflict of interest would be gone and the Patriots and whoever else wanted to screw with the balls would be out of luck.

Then again, this $9 billion sports league uses part time officials. Game officials in the NFL have regular jobs from Monday through Friday and moonlight for the league on weekends. Apparently, although the teams study each other relentlessly before the games, the league sees no need for the officials to study the teams.

In light of the other problems the NFL has around concussion and domestic abuse, this isn’t that big a deal. But unlike those problems, this one’s easy to fix. It would cost about what the league takes in between the first and second quarters of next weekend’s games.


In defense of ugly…

This morning’s run could have been uglier. I could’ve skipped the shorts over the compression pants I wear when it’s cold out.

For the record, I ran five miles, after running three yesterday, after spending most of the last two and a half weeks being sick, mostly with the flu. I only graduated back to the standing desk the day before yesterday.

Performing ugly is the norm in life. There are people who make it look easy, the Michael Jordans or Ozzie Smiths of the world. Most of us aren’t those guys.

 

Most of us are guys like Kurt Rambis (pictured below). Kurt’s game was every bit as attractive as he was, but he worked hard and was a member of four championship teams with the Lakers in the 1980s.

Here are seven tips to remember when you’re performing ugly:

  1. Most of the time, you’re ugly because you’re stretching yourself. In this morning’s run, the wheels started to come off after about two miles. I could have quit there and saved myself some ugliness, but then I’d have only gone two miles. Five miles is better. Any time you push yourself outside your comfort zone, it gets ugly. And that’s in fitness, work, even personal relationships. Sure, you could be perfect and beautiful, but five miles is better than two.
  2. Understand there’s risk and do it anyway. My goal was five miles this morning. I didn’t know if I could do it, but that was the goal. If I hadn’t done it, I’d have been angry at myself and dejected. It’s only a run, so it’s not a big deal, but the same thing happens with bigger stakes. You might fail. But you might succeed, too. Don’t let the possibility of failure eliminate the possibility of success. In the words of the great philosopher Pink, “Just because it burns doesn’t mean your gonna die. You gotta get up and try, try, try.”
  3. Be kind to yourself. During the second half of my run, after the wheels started to wobble, I talked to myself. I didn’t curse myself for not covering the five miles the way I could before. I coached myself. “Come on. You can do it. You just have to get up this hill and down. That’s all you have to do.”
  4. Accept that it’s ugly. I’m running in Florida so there are no mountains, just rises and an overpass that’s the closest thing to a hill. One of the rises seemed a little bigger than morning it normally does. And my legs were protesting already. So I said, “It’s okay. All you have to do is get up this hill and down the other side.” Of course, I said this, just as another runner passed me. I sounded foolish. And that’s okay.
  5. Compare yourself to what you can do, not what other people can do or to what you think you should do. Two months ago, I ran 11 miles at Tough Mudder. Three weeks before that, I ran 17 miles. This morning 5 miles was a major accomplishment. And that’s okay. It’s about what I can do today, not what I did three months ago. Not what the guy who blew by me can do. I’m coming off the flu and some time when I didn’t run because I was doing P90X3. This morning, five miles was an accomplishment.
  6. Understand that when you’re done, it’s going to hurt. So it’s Sunday morning, which means church. And every time I torture my legs, there’s something at church where you have to stand up and move around. Like clockwork. It will happen this morning, and my legs will hurt. That’s how it goes. Moving around at church after a run is minor, but it’s the same with bigger stakes. If you lay yourself out on a big project at work, when you’re done, you’ll be tapped out. You’ll be flat and you won’t want to dig deep again right away. Understand that and accept it. When it happens, you won’t kick yourself about it.
  7. Celebrate your success. I’m just a few days removed from taking a nap in the afternoon because it’s the only way I could get through. I haven’t done a workout in almost three weeks and I haven’t run in close to six weeks. And this morning, even though it was ugly and I sounded silly, I ran five miles. In the cold. While most people are sleeping. It would’ve been easier and safer to stay in bed or to only go two or three miles. I went five. How awesome is that?


Leggings, loving Jesus, and YOU!

Veronica Partridge. The woman who divided this great country.

It started innocently enough, as these things do, when Christian blogger Veronica Partridge wrote about her decision not to wear leggings. She’d talked to friends and to her husband and she found that men are distracted when attractive women wear form-fitting pants. (Duh.) So she decided not to wear them out of the house any more and blogged about it.

As you’d expect, there was mockery (check the headline at this link), and the shots against Christian “modesty culture.” Some have gone beyond that, saying that she’s slut-shaming and victim-blaming. (She’s not.)

And then people rallied to her defense, and then other people reacted to those people, and so on.

On Facebook, I follow radio hosts marketed as Chicks on the Right, based out of Indianapolis. (I follow a mess of political people from all over the spectrum.) They wrote that they’re Christian, and they love their husbands, but they also dig their yoga pants.

The Chicks on the Right. Why do women always touch cheeks in pictures?

<Howard Cosell voice>Pandemonium ensued.</Howard Cosell voice> They shouldn’t criticize a fellow Christian for a personal decision (in my opinion, they didn’t). And I’m a guy and I struggle with leggings, too.

That prompted another post that basically said “Yeah, not my problem. Yoga pants are for my comfort, not your arousal. Get over it.”

Yoga pants. Can you handle it?

I responded to the second post, saying that I didn’t think a loving God would consign anyone to an eternity of fiery damnation over yoga pants. One of the responses paraphrased the Apostle Paul, who said in 1 Corinthians that if what you do causes your brother to stumble, maybe you shouldn’t do it.

I responded that the Bible’s pretty clear about lust: if you can’t look at a woman wearing leggings without lusting for her, you have to gouge your eyes out.

It’s, like, Biblical. And stuff.

This post is about two things: first of all, if you struggle around women in leggings, that’s your problem, not theirs. Period.

Second, and more important, people get offended over anything. Some were horribly offended by what Ms. Partridge wrote. If some woman in Oregon decides not to wear a certain item of clothing, what’s it to you? It’s a personal choice about what she does with her body. That’s supposed to be sacrosanct.

Others were offended because people criticized her. Some were offended because women who claim to be Christian wear leggings.

Your pants aren’t a litmus test on whether you love Jesus enough. Even if they’re leggings.

THIS is the proper litmus test on whether you love Jesus.

For the record, if an attractive woman wears leggings, I notice. Billy Graham, Gandhi, and Mr. Rogers would notice. Noticing isn’t the same as actively wanting to throw down with that woman. And even if it was, that’s my problem, not the woman’s. My need to change my approach should not drive her wardrobe choices.

Now, can we please get on to something important, like the amount of air in footballs?


Patience and aging

The last time I worked out was January 5. I did an upper-body workout that made me feel very manly and muscular. It will be two weeks on Monday.

Stupid flu.

The problem is, just sitting at a computer for an extended period of time and pressing keys is like a marathon these days. I prefer to work standing up, by the way. It’s healthier. As I wrote those words, my body laughed and said, “Yeahhhh, that’s not happening. Silly Chris.”

Me completing this stupid blog post.

Bastard.

I’m not sick, but I’m sure as hell not well.

And it’s pathetic. Excuse the language, but this really pisses me of to no end.

Physically, I can do things I’ve never done before. I can do pull-ups and one-handed push-ups, not to mention rocking the black bamboo shirt I got on vacation.

But where I used to be able to tough my way through a cold, the cold typically kicks my butt any more. And this flu–pathetic! Pathetic, I tell you.

It’s not mean, just true.

Sure, it could be a lot worse. I got to the Minute Clinic fast enough to get Tamiflu (an amazing product), which moved my sickness from Dammit, I’d walk in front of a truck except I can’t even make it across the room to Netflix is really boring status.

Product of the year.

People die from the flu. In fact, more people died from the flu than died from Ebola last year. My dad says that my grandfather got the flu kind of late in his life and was never the same. And 1918? Don’t get me started. That flu was so powerful it put World War I on hold.

High fashion in 1918.

So I soldier on, going from nap to nap and cursing my frailty.

But if I’m going to feel wrung-out, I’m going to feel wrung-out whether I’m irritated about it or not, so I might as well not be irritated.

Getting older, as they say, sucks. But it beats the alternative.


My one New Year’s Resolution

Since late October, I’ve been sick five times. Five. Times.

feeTinesAMady

Not just feeling a little crappy, but legitimately sick.

I got sick the Saturday before Christmas, then got mostly better, went on a cruise, got back, was home a day, and then boom, sick again, then two days later–the flu.

I’m in the best shape of my life. I have things to do. I need to work out. Getting sick–especially this often…it’s just not acceptable. To reach back to song lyrics from a time–before I can remember…yeah, that’s right, before I can remember–I haven’t got time for the pain.

Seriously, my daughter was home and I spent most of the time in the other room on my back. That sucks. And now I’m getting better just in time for what? Not vacation! Work. In time for catch up from the work I missed.

It’s horrible. Horrible, I tell you.

Horrible.

Well, except over the last month or so, I found out that a guy a grade ahead of me from high school died. I didn’t know him well and I don’t know if he was sick or anything, but judging from the way people reacted on Facebook, his passing left a massive void in their hearts and their lives.

My sister’s in law’s family lost a person this year. Totally out of the blue. A guy whose shadow was huge and whose memorial service required overflow parking to the overflow parking.

And then there’s another person I know who started 2014 healthy and moving forward with no problems, and started 2015 with a transformed body and life from battling brain cancer.

So I got sick. I got the flu. So what?

I haven’t worked out in a week and probably won’t work out for a week or so more just so I’m ready.

And work’s gonna be a little much because I’m behind a little. It’s gonna be a struggle for a while, more than the struggle I was expecting on getting back from vacation.

Again, so what?

I had people checking on me and offering to do things to help me feel better. I went to a clinic five minutes from my house and was examined, diagnosed, and had medicine within half an hour. I got to take two days of sick leave with no problem and with no threat to my livelihood. And I have people at work who helped cover for me while I was out, and whose biggest concern about me will be that I’m okay and ready to work again.

I got time off–a lot of time off. I went on a cruise. I bought a bamboo shirt that makes me wish I were a middle-aged woman so I can see how good I look in the shirt and be impressed by myself. (I look mahvelous, dahlings.) I get to work out again in a few days and run another mud event at the end of the month.

In my bamboo shirt, I look better than this guy in these old rags.

So yeah, all that crap at the top of the post is true. And it’s immaterial.

It’s good to start a new year with the understanding of how incredibly blessed I am, and how massively incredibly lucky I am to have the people I have around me.

I do a really crappy job sometimes recognizing these things.

So while I have the typical aspirations–kick butt at work, eat better, work out more, do more writing, finally get an RPLA award, all that–that’s all they are.

My New Year’s resolution is much more important–to live each of the 355 days left this year as the valuable, finite blessings they are, regardless of what they bring. You have my full permission to just kick my ass if I forget.


Killing people for offending you is bad, mmmkay?

When I was thirteen, Billy Joel released a song called Only the Good Die Young. I was in the car with my mom, who was offended by the song and said the radio station we had on shouldn’t be playing it. I suggested the car had a standard feature called a radio tuner, and using that feature could take care of that problem for her. I suspect my mother wasn’t thrilled with the tone of my response, but I stand by it.

Today, three people who believe their god is so mighty that he needs a bunch of earthbound idiots to dole out justice for him, killed 12 people, including cartoonists at a French publication called Charlie Hebdo. To be fair, Charlie Hebdo is a far cry from the French version of The Onion. It goes out of its way to be as offensive to as many people as possible. Way more offensive than Billy Joel saying that Catholic girls start much too late. Way more offensive than placing a crucifix in a jar of urine. Based on some of the cartoons they’ve published, their targets aren’t just Muslim. Their mission seems to be finding things people hold dear, then peeing on those things as forcefully as possible.

And that doesn’t matter.

When the mere expression of an idea results in such an extreme effort to shut that idea down, we all lose.

Some have said this murder isn’t a statement. I disagree. It’s a very clear statement: This is a nice little life you have here. It would be a shame if something were to happen to it. All you have to do is watch you mouth and we won’t kill you. (And of course, if we can get everyone else to watch their mouths, we’ll be back with more…helpful suggestions).

Some of the response says that you don’t have to offend people. It’s not necessary to draw and publish cartoons specifically aimed at offending people. Pushing back against that kind of self-expression isn’t political correctness; it’s acting like a decent human being.

There are some words I rarely use because they’re offensive to me. But I choose not to use them. I haven’t been threatened into not using them. In fact, I used to use many of them until people reasoned with me about why I shouldn’t use them and convinced me. Reason doesn’t emerge from the barrel of a gun.

In a free society–and I’m assuming we’re in favor of that concept–you don’t murder someone because they drew a cartoon. You don’t hurt them. You don’t even get to threaten them. You cannot, ever, in the smallest way, get the impression you can force people into silence.

If Billy Joel had recorded Only the Good Die Young in the dark ages, his livelihood–not to mention his very life–would have been at risk. That’s not a good thing. The world that gave use Only the Good Die Young also gave us All in The FamilyBlazing SaddlesThe Satanic Verses, several songs including the word bitch, The Dixie Chicks, Saving Private Ryan, Harry Potter, The Last Temptation of Christ, and any number of other things that offended some people.

And that’s okay. They get to be offended. They get to say that song shouldn’t be played. They get to use the tuner and take their business elsewhere.

That’s freedom.

They don’t get to kill, threaten, or intimidate people into silence.

With all respect to everyone else, if that’s what your religion requires, then you are offending your god, not anyone else. And if that’s what your religion requires, then maybe the best thing in the world is for everyone to offend you.

Your religion, as you practice it, is not worthy of respect. I disrespect you and it in the strongest possible terms, right here and right now.