What’s Wrong with Profit?

Many would say it’s simply undeserved.  By any standard – be it need, ability, effort, or accomplishment/contribution.  In this respect, one might be tempted to compare profit to the ridiculously high salaries of sports stars.  And senators.  But salary is not profit.  Even if a salary is ridiculously high, it is still a salary, a payment for services rendered; and as such it is, in theory, deserved.  Or at least earned.

Profit, on the other hand, Continue reading


God Promised

With such regularity, it really should be the refrain of every national anthem, we hear something along these lines: ‘The land is rightfully ours. God promised it to us.’

Yeah well, God lies. Or at least he changes his mind.

Consider this: Continue reading


The Political is Personal

Back in the 60s or 70s, one of the insights feminism gave us was that the personal is political. It’s been a valuable insight. Many of us now routinely interpret personal interaction politically: we try to understand the influence of race, class, and gender; we try to determine the nature of the power differentials.

I suggest that the converse is an equally valuable insight: the political is personal. Continue reading


The Pill for Men

‘Outrageous!’ That was the word used way back in ’85 in response to the expectation that men take a contraceptive that had a side-effect of reduced sex drive. Hello. Let me tell you about the contraceptive pill for women. Side-effects include headaches, nausea, weight gain, mood changes, yeast infections, loss of vision, high blood pressure, gall bladder disease, liver tumours, skin cancer, strokes, heart attacks, and death. Oh, and reduced sex drive. (Thing is, and get this – do not pass go until you do – Continue reading


Every Man, Woman, and Child

There’s an interesting phrase.  Man, woman, and child: those are my options, are they?  Identifying oneself by one’s sex is a prerequisite for adulthood: if I don’t want to identify myself by my sex, as either a man or a woman, I’m left with identifying myself as a child.  How interesting. Continue reading



Congratulations.  Now there’s a word we misuse a lot.

‘I’m getting married!’ ‘Congratulations!’  Why?  Why should this be cause for congratulations?  Is it a good thing?  Half of all married couples end up divorced.  (The other half just couldn’t be bothered.)  Is it an achievement?  There are no qualifications except being a certain age.  Which generally happens without any effort.  So you’re entering into a legal contract with another person.  Big deal.  Bet you haven’t even read the contract.  So you’re going to a church for some obscure sacrament.  What, Christmas and Easter wasn’t enough?

What’s getting married really about?  Proof you’re not gay after all.  Proof that you’re all grown up, gonna settle down, maybe start a family (like having a kid means you’re no longer a kid is the logic, I guess).  Proof that someone somewhere somehow found you loveable long enough to agree to marriage.  Yeah right, whatever.

‘I’m pregnant!’ ‘Congratulations!’  What?  Again, is this necessarily a good thing?  ‘Cause it can seldom be called an achievement.  I mean I’m sure you have succeeded at sexual intercourse before.  So now you got lucky.  Should we congratulate for luck?

‘I won the lottery!’  ‘ Congratulations!’   It sounds right.   But it sure takes the wind out of the congratulations we give to the person who wins a triathlon or a Beethoven competition.


Paying Stay-at-Home Moms

Every now and then, we hear the proposal that women be paid to stay at home and be moms.  That women are paid to be surrogate mothers suggests that regular mothers also deserve payment.  So.  Should we pay regular mothers the same as surrogate mothers?

For starters, who is this ‘we’?  Surrogate mothers are paid by the people who want their labor.  Who wants the children of non-surrogate mothers?  The state?  If so, for what?  There is no civil service labor shortage.  We aren’t at war.  And if we were, we would need more soldiers, not more children.  So the job paid for should be not ‘making a child’ but ‘making a soldier’.

Because if we’re going to pay, it would be a job.  You’d have to wait for an opening and then apply.  So not only would the state, should it be the employer of mothers, have the right to be quite specific about the job description (“Women wanted to make soldiers”), it would have the right to be quite specific about the qualifications (“genetic make-up must include average IQ or lower, above average physical health and fitness, pliant personality….”).  And it would have the right to be quite specific about the performance standards – no drinking on the job, or substance abuse of any kind except that prescribed by the employer, etc.

You want to be paid for being a mother?  Well, he who pays the piper picks the tune.


A Millennial New Year’s Resolution

This was written, of course, in January 2000.

I don’t do New Years’.  I especially didn’t do this New Years.  Though the chance to join in worldwide celebration of an error in addition (our calendar is such that there wasn’t a year zero – 1 A.D. came right after 1 B.C., so actually we’ve just begun, not finished, the 2000th year A.D.) (and A.D., well that’s a whole mess of mistakes, not the least of which is marking time across the entire planet according to a religious myth) – what was I saying, oh yeah, while joining with humanity worldwide to celebrate, indeed to proclaim in song and dance, our F in arithmetic had its attraction, I declined – because even if they’d gotten it right, the arbitrariness of it all is pretty insulting.  I mean, I’ll celebrate and reflect when I have good reason to – but our fascination with base ten is a mere evolutionary happenstance, and to rejoice at the occurrence of multiples of ten serves merely to reassure us that we do indeed have ten fingers and toes.

Nevertheless, I ended up watching several hours of the “2000” telecast.  Not the midnight champagne and crowds part, but the performance parts throughout the day: I realized early on that it would probably be another thousand years before so much art was given so much air time.  Certainly I’d never see Jean-Michel Jarre on tv again.

But pretty soon the irony (and the heritage schlock stuff) spoiled it, and I stopped watching.  I’m referring, of course, to the fact that  Continue reading


Why Do Men Spit? (and women don’t)

Why do men spit? (And women don’t.) I mean, is it physiological? Do males produce a larger amount of saliva?

Even so, why the need to spit it out? Why not just swallow it? Would that remind them of swallowing semen? Which is female, effeminate, gay? (I’ll ignore for the moment the assumption that all, or even most, women swallow semen.)

But no, that can’t be right: it seems too…reasoned. Spitting seems to be more of a reflex, a habit, a that’s-the-way-I-was-raised sort of thing, a cultural thing, a subcultural thing: to spit is to be manly. Little boys spit to appear grown up. Grown up men. So what’s the connection between spitting and masculinity?

Consider the way men spit. Continue reading


As if getting good grades…

Who among us has not heard the student in distress, claiming not to know ‘what the professor wants’? As if getting good grades is dependent on finding out each professor’s hidden idiosyncrasies – on figuring out how to please. This attitude has become very prevalent, and I’ve seen students paralysed by it. A professor will assign an essay, and students who are uncertain about how to proceed believe it’s because they don’t know what the professor wants; they truly believe they’re missing some crucial bit of information. Of course, the real reason for their uncertainty is usually their poor academic skills – they don’t know enough about the topic to generate some ideas or opinions with which they can then play around and organize into a paper. But instead of heading to the library, they wander the halls and poll other students, trying to discover ‘what the professor wants’.

My answer to this question, which is Continue reading