Blessed Yule

This is the longest night of the year. It is a time of darkness, of quiet, and of thoughtfulness. The sun returns today, and each day from here on will be longer and brighter. Some think it a time of sorrow, for the long winter is still before us, but I see it as a day of joy, and not just manufactured joy, because now we have seen the proof that life shall return and winter shall not be everlasting.

Look to the dark parts of your life, the defeats, weaknesses, and sadness. Yule is a day of promise, and should serve as a reminder that all bad things hold a kernel of goodness, and all death contains life. No matter what your religion, never forget that the sun will always return each year.

The Secret to Population Control

The human population growth rate has always been of concern to me. Through compassion and innovation we have cut the death rate drastically without doing anything to reduce the number of babies we create. The amount of humans that this planet can support is probably tremendous, but we won’t be able to reach that maximum number without destroying whatever life we don’t simply transform into fuel for the human engines. I don’t believe it is ethical to sacrifice this planet so we may continue our unnatural multiplying, nor do I agree with the shortsightedness that prevents us from taking the painful steps to resolve this issue. It would involve overcoming instinct, and making a conscious choice not to procreate.

I have made that choice as a result of divine inspiration. I love children, but I am gay. Rather than believing this to be an unnatural state, I recognize what any gay person does, that it is part of their nature, and born to them. My beliefs do not accept things that occur in nature as being without reason, so it occurred to me that homosexuality must be intended as a method of population control, albeit one that isn’t terribly effective. The instinct to procreate is simply too powerful, and so we continue to have babies. Even if no gay people had children (and quite a few do) I’m sure that gays would continue to be born, as this mechanism is built into our genetic code to manifest proportionately to our population density.

You see, I believe strongly in Intelligent Design: a divine intelligence created man, using a tool we call evolution. But I digress.

When I discovered a few days ago that soy creates gays and shrinks penises, I was intrigued. There is some research out there about soy being used to slow the growth of prostate cancer because of its estrogen levels or somesuch, so could this article have value?

Others asked the same question and, turning to the research of Kinsey, found that “. . .homosexual men reported larger penises than did heterosexual men.” So when science is shone upon soy beliefs, they fail, at least in the penile department. As for orientation, I know a boy of fifteen that nursed on soy and hasn’t exhibited anything less than a full interest in girls, but that’s just anecdotal.

So where are we? We know that gay men have large penises, that soy may cause gayness, and that gayness may be a method of population control. Add to this the revelations from India that men there have smaller than average penises. We’ve always been led to believe that this is the case in China and Japan as well. Sounds to me like small penises can be correlated with large families. Whether this is due to compensation, or if it’s that sperm lose motility swimming that extra inch or so, I can’t say, but the evidence for this link seems fairly compelling. Being that gays have larger penises, this lends credence to my theory.

Now we have established that small penises increase population, and gayness exists to reduce it, which is why gay men have such large penises. Perhaps a link between soy and homosexuality can be established, so that we can feed our baby boys soy formula, engorging their members and reducing the chances of them ever having children. If soy does not, in fact, cause gayness (and, logically following, increased penis size), we should investigate other methods of increasing penis size to determine if they also reduce fertility, including hormone treatments and surgical engorgement.

This could result in a win-win situation. All men want larger penises, and larger penises can be linked to smaller families. Science should focus its efforts on increasing worldwide penile dimensions as quickly as possible.

Vita-meata-vege-min

According to eartheasy.com, if you ate meat-free meals every other day for a year, you would save 487 pounds of CO2.

I like the idea of being a vegetarian. Eating lower on the food chain uses less energy. The amount of pollution that is created by our meat-production facilities is really stunning . . . and most of it comes from the meat itself, from animal waste pouring into rivers to methane in the air. Our digestive tracts really do a better job with plant matter than animal parts. The foods are more nutritionally diverse, lower in fat, and would reduce my chances of heart attack, stroke, and gods know what else. Only one thing has ever gotten in the way of a lifetime commitment to vegetarianism:

I don’t like beans.

Have you noticed just how much of the healthy vegetarian diet is comprised of beans? Black ones, white ones, orange and purple ones. Beans that taste like every variety of paste imaginable, and even some that taste like dirt. And each and every one of them doing its best to strengthen the one skill I have that I would prefer to downplay, at least in polite company. Maybe I should just scald my tongue or have the taste buds surgically removed?

Now to be fair, that is only a seeming requirement of the healthy vegetarian diet. I could keep myself full of plant-based convenience foods and not have to eat all that many beans. But if
it’s not going to be healthy, why not eat bacon and go for broke?

There are some good arguments for eating meat in the proper mindset. Animals are animate, and so it is easier to remember that they had an end to their lives so I could continue with mine. It’s easier to remember to thank the animal for dying than it is a carrot. Or a bean. Heck, probably didn’t even have to kill the plant.

But I’m going to give a vegetarian week a shot. Maybe beans aren’t so bad after all. But it’s not just about what I taste, it’s about what the family smells . . .

Unconsumption


I have a lot of stuff. Being someone that cares a bit about the environment, I tend to hesitate before I throw things away. So my files and furniture and clothing and especially books pile up.

Rationally the best way to deal with this is to get less stuff. I try that, I really, really do. Stuff = bad. I get that. But a love of the physical rears its not-unattractive head and bats those lashes at me and I find myself with yet another object that it completely cool, absolutely worthwhile, and utterly useless.

Enter the concept of unconsumption: getting rid of what you’ve already got, in a responsible manner. My typical cycle of materialism is like this: Get stuff. Get some more. Sort out stuff to get rid of. Get more stuff. Organize stuff that can be recycled. Birthday comes, more stuff! Panic; much stuff goes into the trash. Repeat. Shameful, and unpretty. Unconsumption is work, yes, but I’m hopeful that attaching a cool new word to the idea will give me the impetus to make something more of it this time.

Economy that Mimics Nature

Supply and demand are much like natural laws, and a balance must be struck when we tinker with them.

Government procurement policies can be used to dramatically boost recycling. For example, the Clinton administration issued an Executive Order in 1993 requiring that all government-purchased paper contain 20 percent or more post-consumer waste by 1995 (increasing to 25 percent by 2000). Since the U.S. government is the world’s largest paper buyer, this created a strong incentive for paper manufacturers to incorporate wastepaper in their manufacturing process.

I’ve been saying this for years. If the only barrier to lowering price is that there is no demand for the product, it seems silly that governments will create the supply through mandating recycling without similarly creating the demand by becoming the first and largest consumer of those goods.

The most pervasive policy initiative to dematerialize the economy is the proposed tax on the burning of fossil fuels, a tax that would reflect the full cost to society of mining coal and pumping oil, of the air pollution associated with their use, and of climate disruption. A carbon tax will lead to a more realistic energy price, one that will permeate the energy-intensive materials economy and reduce materials use.

I have to draw the line here, however. Taxing of the most common pollutants will only lead to resistance to the environmental movement at best, and its defeat at worst. Humans are convenience-driven and will fight tooth and nail for the right to spew filth. However, I’m fully in support of dropping any government funding and support for these industries. They are mature businesses that should be able to succeed or fail on their own merits, and the good of the country does not depend on taxpayers supporting their efforts. If they can’t hack it we’ll find a better way all the more quickly.

On Violence and Force

King Arthur, it is said, lived in a time when might made right. He created a new order, one where the little guy was watched out for by the strong sword arm of his beneficent monarch. Whether or not it happened that way, the tales demonstrate an appropriate use of force.

I’m not fond of using force, nor am I of violence and aggression. Quickly-flaring tempers and enraged posturing say to me that you have not done much to earn your status on the evolutionary ladder. We have an amazing combination of opposable thumbs, a versatile oral cavity, and brains large enough to use both well. Why stoop to using force to get what we want? I can find no better reason to abandon respect for a person than to see them posturing, screaming, or striking to solve their problems. I don’t think it’s what the gods intended for us, and I think it’s a shame when someone ignores the amazing gifts we are given to behave like any other animal.

It’s not unreasonable to argue that force is the way of nature, and that Pagans worship nature, so we should emulate it, rather than being incense-burning love monkeys. What better way to honor the Old Ways than to honor the really old ways? Fine, do that if you wish; I still think it’s a copout that ignores the intelligence and sophistication that those selfsame forces of nature bequeathed you with.

I’m not someone who is so clouded by pot smoke and patchouli that I believe that no man will ever raise a hand in violence. I’m of the belief that violence is the first refuge of the incompetent, and the rest of us will use force when it is necessary. However, when that time comes that force is necessary, it should be used decisively, to put an end to the matter as quickly and definitively as possible.

The United States of America has carefully brought itself to a fascinating conundrum through its policies about the use of force. We are regarded as the brutish overlords that will force our wills upon any that dare disagree with us, smashing them back into the Stone Age and making them over in our image. And yet, when push comes to shove, we are extremely reluctant to ever use decisive force. More than half the world regards us as a looming threat, but we continue to cultivate despots and zealots as enemies precisely because we do not react forcefully, thus sending a simultaneous, contradictory message that we lack the nerve.

There are many, many places that I do not believe my country has any business exercising force. I do not draw a parallel between now and the early days of World War II. Sixty years ago several countries were hoping to divide the world as their subjects. Today several fanatic religious groups feel that the world will not be a good place as long as this country continues to exist. Then, it did not matter who stood in their way. Now, it is only our perception as a threat that creates the enemy.

If we were to commit to an energy policy that was free of oil, the money that funded these groups would vanish and they would blow away like the sand upon which they now live. If we were to withdraw our forces entirely from the Middle East and allow the Semites (which include both Hebrew and Arab) to pursue their bloodthirsty need for vengeance, and commit horror after horror upon each other, ranging from blowing up busloads of innocent children to bulldozing the homes of families that are only trying to survive, our country would no longer be perceived as a threat, and the violence level of that region would drop considerably. Our presence in the Middle East is the primary cause of violence in the Middle East. It is not in our best interests to maintain any presence in that region. It would honor the Earth to cease sucking her blood, and it would be more natural to allow the humans of the region conclude their ancient fight for territory unmolested.

I do not believe we will, as a nation, abandon oil; nor shall we withdraw support for Israel. In that case, it is time that we finish what we have started. We have the power to end violence by unleashing so much of it that no one will be left standing that can hold a gun. Let all those that threaten us fall so that the timeless winds of the desert will scour their bones, and their names will be forgotten as swiftly as the dunes do shift. This would honor the gods of war, the ancient ways of glory in battle that show the Universe who holds the true power. The world would tremble before our might, and for generations none would threaten us, for we would again remind our fellow, short-sighted humans that we are capable of eradicating our enemies.

Both paths hold peril. But one must be chosen. To walk the middle path is to walk into the twilight that heralds extinction.

Fear, Justice, or Cheapness?

My father tried to teach me well, explaining that every doorman, porter, cabbie, waitress, and mail carrier deserved a tip for their services and that the bulk of their earnings depended on tips–a precarious situation since one’s paycheck is thus determined by the often inconsistent kindness of patrons.

I continually wrestle with tipping. Emotionally I understand that it’s a good way to put positive energy out into the world, in accordance with the Threefold Law, because money is nothing but congealed energy. Intellectually, I find myself demanding that people “earn” the tip that they get.

I go out of my way to treat anyone that traditionally expects a tip kindly; this includes waitstaff, hairdressers and the like. I have been in the service industry and understand quite well that they are ofttimes abused needlessly. When it comes time to tip, however, my sense of justice demands that the tip be commensurate with the service, since I made a special effort to make them feel at ease. I’m completely willing to leave two pennies in a upside-down glass of water if the service warrants it.

Then there’s the other tippable professions, like garbage collectors, postal carriers, and yes, even baristas. Despite what Donna Freitas says in her essay in tipping, these people don’t depend on tips to survive, and if they are getting a large percentage of their income from their holiday tips, they are doing much, much better than I. The intimation that your service will be improved by a generous tip smacks of extortion to me, so I avoid it.

But then we get to the crux of the matter: giving is good. Tipping is giving, and so tipping is good. What we put out into the world comes back to us three times. I don’t think I would be classified as a bad tipper, but my excuses, borne of fear of poverty, prevent me from being a good tipper. I don’t have faith enough in my own beliefs, and that’s something that needs to change.