New Zealand recognizes gay marriage:
Here are a few photos I took at the St. Louis Zoo over the past few weeks. All of these involve physical grooming by primates, three of them featuring two orangutans and one of them involving a larger group of chimpanzees. This is one of the ways these animals know who is their friend or foe.
We human animals groom for this same purpose, but we generally engage in verbal grooming: gossip. Using words rather than physical grooming we can connect with many more fellow humans at one time than any of those animals limited to physical grooming. I make this claim based on the work of Robin Dunbar.
Salon presents a young adult’s description of how Ayn Rand destroyed her family. This vivid and intensely personal article by Alyssa Bereznak exposes the ugly underbelly of objectivism, summed up by the following words by Ayn Rand:
My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.
I disagree with those who believe that Rand offers a path to a meaningful life. I see life as a yin-yang dynamic, a struggle we all have trying to balance our own needs and wants with the needs of the group. [More . . . ]
I’m not convinced that most rich kids hate their parents, but there are presumably some who do. I also know many non-rich kids who don’t get along with their parents. Franco Lombardo says many rich kids hate their parents in his new book, “The Great White Elephant: Why Rich Kids Hate Their Parents.” Lombardo bases his claim on the failure of 70% of rich families to pass their wealth-making ability onto the next generation intact. This reminds me of a proverb:
The first generation in a family makes money (goes from rags to riches); the second generation holds or keeps the money; and the third generation squanders or loses the money (and so goes back to rags).
In this report by CNBC, he gives three reasons:
First, wealthy parents don’t say “no” enough. “A child grows up with a sense that they get whatever they want,” Lombardo says. “When they go out into the world and the world tells them ‘no,” they’re angry. And they resent their parents.” The second cause is time. Wealthy parents are often absent parents, and the kids feel abandoned. . . . The third reason is society , , , makes fun of rich kids. So parents tell their kids at an early age to hide their wealth. When the kids grow up, they feel that a big part of their identity has to remain hidden – and they blame their parents.
These reasons make some sense to me, but I like to see some numbers quantifying this supposed hate. I’d like to know who we “know” that rich kids hate the parents any more than non-rich kids hate their parents.
This is an unscientific response to a ridiculous claim. Rick Santorum, who wishes to be the next Bishop In Charge of America (or whatever prelate his church might recognize) recently made the claim that Gay couples are going to destabilize the family in America in order to accommodate their lifestyle.
We’ve all been hearing this claim now for, oh, since gays stopped sitting by and letting cops beat them up on Saturday nights without fighting back. Ever since Gay Pride. Even on my own FaceBook page I had someone telling me I was blinded by the “Gay Agenda” and that the country was doomed—that because of the Gay Agenda little children were being taught how to use condoms in school and this—this—would bring us all to ruin.
If we collectively allow homosexuals to marry each other, how does that do anything to American families that’s not already being done by a hundred other factors?
I’ll tell you what destablilizes families. And I’m not genius here with a brilliant insight, this is just what anyone can see if they look around and think a little bit.
Families are destabilized over money.
[More . . . ]
In the November 2011 issue of The Atlantic, Kate Bolick reviews the history of marriage, finding that “traditional marriage” is not so traditional. She reports that Stephanie Coontz, a social historian at Evergreen State College in Washington was
struck by how everyone believed in some mythical Golden Age of Marriage and saw mounting divorce rates as evidence of the dissolution of this halcyon past. She decided to write a book discrediting the notion and proving that the ways in which we think about and construct the legal union between a man and a woman have always been in flux.
What Coontz found was even more interesting than she’d originally expected. In her fascinating Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage, she surveys 5,000 years of human habits, from our days as hunters and gatherers up until the present, showing our social arrangements to be more complex and varied than could ever seem possible. She’d long known that the Leave It to Beaver–style family model popular in the 1950s and ’60s had been a flash in the pan, and like a lot of historians, she couldn’t understand how people had become so attached to an idea that had developed so late and been so short-lived.
Bolick amply supports her well-written article with statistics such as these:
[W]e keep putting marriage off. In 1960, the median age of first marriage in the U.S. was 23 for men and 20 for women; today it is 28 and 26. Today, a smaller proportion of American women in their early 30s are married than at any other point since the 1950s, if not earlier. We’re also marrying less—with a significant degree of change taking place in just the past decade and a half. In 1997, 29 percent of my Gen X cohort was married; among today’s Millennials that figure has dropped to 22 percent. (Compare that with 1960, when more than half of those ages 18 to 29 had already tied the knot.) These numbers reflect major attitudinal shifts. According to the Pew Research Center, a full 44 percent of Millennials and 43 percent of Gen Xers think that marriage is becoming obsolete.
One of the most sobering themes of this article is that the economic decline of males has been bad news for marriage; women “as a whole have never been confronted with such a radically shrinking pool of what are traditionally considered to be ‘marriageable’ men–those who are better educated and earn more than they do.”
America has a long track record or the dangers of monopolies. With the closing of Borders, Amazon is one step closer to becoming a monopoly. At Mother Jones, Kevin Drum makes a strong case that Amazon maintains its position of strength thanks to the fact that it doesn’t collect sales tax.
For all its talk of technology and convenience and selection, Amazon basically stays in business because it can charge slightly lower prices than brick-and-mortar stores. A level playing field might be good for state coffers and the schools and police officers they support, but to Amazon that doesn’t matter. It’s nothing personal, mind you. Just business.
Local bookstores are more than commercial enterprises. They are social institutions, where people meet, share ideas and organize. This pertains especially to independent book sellers, but it occurs at all bookstores because they tend to attract open-minded socially responsible people. If we don’t stop the current trend, the market will be completely dominated by a cyber-bookshop, leaving local communities in the lurch.