Here we go again – drugs and sports. What’s the problem? No really, what exactly is the problem?
Some say those who’ve used cocaine should be banned from the Olympics because it’s illegal. Well, there are many things that are illegal – shouldn’t we therefore ban every athlete who’s ever done something illegal?
But why? Haven’t they already paid the penalty determined by whatever country they live in? The IOC is not a criminal justice system.
Then some call upon the moral character point: athletes are expected to be of high moral character – or at least of higher moral character than the rest of us. Why? Continue reading
I’m intrigued by the psychological devastation that seems to accompany layoffs, not to mention ordinary unemployment, as well as underemployment. It doesn’t seem to be just a matter of money – it seems to be a matter of self-worth, self-esteem; personal identity seems to be at stake.
It’s an intriguing claim: one is what one does for money. And I suppose that insofar as one chooses what one does, it’s valid. But Continue reading
I finished a novel by J. D. Robb the other day and also happened to read the back inside cover blurb: “Nora Roberts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than one hundred novels. She is also the author of the bestselling futuristic suspense series written under the pen name J. D. Robb. With more than 145 million copies of her books in print and more than sixty-nine New York Times bestsellers to date, Nora Roberts is indisputably the most celebrated and beloved women’s fiction writer today.” Why the qualification women’s fiction? My guess is that with those numbers, she’s a well celebrated and beloved fiction writer, period.
And what exactly is ‘women’s fiction’? Fiction by women? Unlikely. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird would be women’s fiction then. As would be Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.
Fiction for women? And what’s that, fiction that women are interested in? As if all women are interested in the same things. Continue reading
Long ago and far away, I was one of several high school students to participate in a Federal-Provincial Government Simulation. Each of us took on the role of a provincial or federal minister and met for three days of plenary sessions, committee meetings, and caucuses.
I was the federal Minister of State for Science and Technology, and I remember well the instructions of our Prime Minister: be vague; don’t commit yourself to anything; if you don’t know what they’re talking about and have never heard of it before, tell them they’re out of order; constantly assure them with such phrases as ‘We will consider that’, ‘You have our support’, and ‘That will be discussed at a later date’ – in other words, don’t say ‘I don’t know’, ‘That’s a good point’, or ‘This is a weakness with our policy, any suggestions?’. I was to represent and defend the federal government’s position. Period. (That and always disagree with the opposition’s position.)
I did my job well. And I guess because so many others did the same, it was three days of go-nowhere achieve-nothing head-butting and face-saving. Any strategizing at caucus was not to solve a real problem, but simply to protect ego: insist, and be confident about it, that our way is the best way. Obviously there weren’t any real discussions.
I went away disillusioned and discouraged. But I realize now that it was a political simulation, not a government simulation.
Then again, who am I kidding: after reading one Hansard or watching one televised parliamentary session, I knew it was a government simulation. So my question is, how did government ever get mixed up with politics? Continue reading
I recently read The Fourth Procedure by Stanley Pottinger, in which, during a surgical procedure, a man is given a uterus containing a fertilized egg. He is enraged when he finds out, afraid that if it becomes public knowledge he’ll be a laughingstock. Turns out he’s right. But I don’t get it. What’s so funny about a man getting pregnant?
Is it like laughing at the guy who slips on a banana peel – laughing at another’s adversities? For when pregnancy is unwanted and occurs in a world without abortion, it is certainly an adversity. Forget going to college, forget that career. You’re screwed. (The double meaning of that phrase is no coincidence.) Even if you give the child to someone else, a good year of your life has been derailed. Continue reading
It finally dawned on me after reading one too many ‘failed android’ stories. I can’t remember whether it was sci-fi or AI, but suddenly I saw the problem: they always try to create an adult without a childhood.
If it weren’t for Mary Shelley, I’d be tempted to put the blame on our sexist society: leave it to the men to ‘forget’ childhood, to forget that we don’t come out of the womb fully formed, to forget that we are as much a product of our nurture as our nature. After all, the most men aren’t responsible for it, they don’t participate in it, they don’t work at daycares, they don’t teach elementary school.
You want to create an android? An artificial life form that can think and feel, that can respond to questions, to situations, like an ordinary human being? Then create a baby android. One with the capacity to learn, to benefit from experience, to grow, to develop. In fifteen or twenty years, eureka!
It’s income tax time. Do you know where 9.2% of your taxes will go?
Well, let’s just say that you bought the bullets. (Out out damned spot, you say?)
Then again, $2500 (if your taxable income is about $25,000) might buy more than a few bullets. Maybe you can pay for a whole box of screws for one of our nuclear submarines. Or maybe you even can buy a bit of gas for one of those fancy helicopters.
Sure, better your money than your life, but wouldn’t neither be better still? Wouldn’t it be good if at least you had a choice about serving the military?
I mean, it wouldn’t be so bad if it really were the Department of Defence. There are many arguments in favour of waging a war and, in truth, I find a few convincing; sometimes killing is the best of a bunch of really bad options.
But we live in a world in which countries routinely sell weapons to their enemies. Continue reading
If you believe in the supernatural and on that basis obtain a paying job, as a minister, priest, pastor, whatever, you don’t have to pay income tax. If you establish a group of like believers and buy a piece of land and/or a building for meetings, you don’t have to pay property tax. And if your group buys stuff, like computers, billboards, and so on, you don’t have to pay sales tax. You’re a charitable institution.
What’s charitable about killing people who don’t believe what you believe? What’s charitable about telling half of your group that they’re subordinate? What’s charitable about telling another portion of your group that they’re sick? What’s charitable about discouraging rational thought unless it supports your beliefs? What’s charitable about telling all of them they’re sinners just by virtue of having been born?
If we’re going to exempt people from contributing to the upkeep of our roads, hospitals, schools, and so on because of their (presumed) ethically good behavior (an interesting idea, by the way), then let’s at least be consistent: let’s exempt snowplow operators, doctors, nurses, teachers, firefighters, police officers, counselors, plumbers, electricians. And so on.
Property tax (money one must pay to the government based on the land, and the building/s on the land, that one owns) is odd in that unlike sales tax (money one must pay to the government based on the goods and services one purchases), it is payable every year, not just once when you buy it. It is, in this respect, more like income tax, which is payable every year. But if you don’t pay your property tax, you lose your property; if you don’t pay your income tax, you don’t lose your income. (Well, you might, if you’re imprisoned, but that’s an indirect result, whereas losing one’s property for failure to pay one’s property tax is a direct result). What justifies this difference, this having to keep on paying property tax even though you own the property (that is, even though you’re not renting, not paying to use someone else’s property)?
In Canada, if one agrees to pay someone else’s way in life, one gets to pay $7,500 less in income tax. I’m referring, of course, to the spousal deduction.
If one decides to make some people and pay their way, one gets to pay $7,500 less per person in income tax. The deduction for kids.
What’s the ethical basis for these deductions? If you’ve agreed to pay someone else’s way in life and therefore pay less income tax, who picks up the slack? Me! How is that fair?
Maybe we can answer that question if we first answer the question ‘Why are there any deductions at all?’ That is, why shouldn’t we all just pay a percentage of our total income, period?
Are the deductions corrections for other errors? University tuition is too high, so those who pay it get to deduct a certain amount on their income tax as compensation? Well, fix the high tuition! And in the case of spousal and dependent deductions, what error is being corrected?
Or are deductions a sort of social engineering? Is the spousal deduction meant to encourage men to have wives? Why? Why is it such a good thing to have, or to be, a ‘kept woman’? And is the species in danger of becoming extinct? Is that why we need to encourage people to make more people?
"We License Plumbers and Pilots - Why Not Parents?"At Issue: Is Parenthood a Right or a Privilege? ed. Stefan Kiesbye (Greenhaven, 2009); Current Controversies: Child Abuse, ed. Lucinda Almond (Thomson/Gale, 2006); Seattle Post-Intelligencer (October 2004)
ImpactAn extended confrontation between a sexual assault victim and her assailants, as part of an imagined slightly revised court process, in order to understand why they did what they did and, on that basis, to make a recommendation to the court regarding sentence does not go … as expected.
What Happened to TomTom, like many men, assumes that since pregnancy is a natural part of being a woman, it’s no big deal: a woman finds herself pregnant, she does or does not go through with it, end of story. But then …
Aiding the EnemyWhen Private Ann Jones faces execution for “aiding the enemy,” she points to American weapons manufacturers who sell to whatever country is in the market.
Bang BangWhen a young boy playing “Cops and Robbers” jumps out at a man passing by, the man shoots him, thinking the boy’s toy gun is real. Who’s to blame?
ForeseeableAn awful choice in a time of war. Whose choice was it really?
Exile (full-length drama) Finalist, WriteMovies; Quarterfinalist, Fade-In.
LJ lives in a U . S. of A., with a new Three Strikes Law: first crime, rehab; second crime, prison; third crime, you’re simply kicked out – permanently exiled to a designated remote area, to fend for yourself without the benefits of society. At least he used to live in that new U. S. of A. He’s just committed his third crime.
What Happened to Tom (full-length drama) Semifinalist, Moondance.
This guy wakes up to find his body’s been hijacked and turned into a human kidney dialysis machine – for nine months.
Aiding the Enemy (short drama 15min)
When Private Ann Jones faces execution for “aiding the enemy,” she points to American weapons manufacturers who sell to whatever country is in the market.
Bang Bang (short drama 30min) Finalist, Gimme Credit; Quarter-finalist, American Gem.
When a young boy playing “Cops and Robbers” jumps out at a man passing by, the man shoots him, thinking the boy’s toy gun is real. Who’s to blame?
Foreseeable (short drama 30min)
An awful choice in a time of war. Whose choice was it really?
Minding Our Own Business A collection of skits (including “The Price is Not Quite Right,” “Singin’ in the (Acid) Rain,” “Adverse Reactions,” “The Band-Aid Solution,” and “See Jane. See Dick.”) with a not-so-subtle environmental message