December 23, 2003

Sex and the Sinner

As concerns the issue of non-marital sex, this argument con and this argument pro both strike me as almost completely silly. Dipnut* pretty much lays waste to the "conservative" argument; a rambling, turgid (and only part one, oy) paean to wishful thinking about human nature by Jennifer Morse. It is interesting how god-'n'-family conservatives have co-opted the liberal spiel about human nature being essentially good (and that's why it's "against nature" to fornicate like a rabbit in heat). The basis for Ms. (Mrs.? Miss?) Morse's ideas about marriage is the extremely progressive idea that human beings are naturally monogamous. Well, Here is a true conservative of the old school who was under no illusions about the realities of the human animal. Of men and women this rather famous, pre-Vatican II, Roman Catholic Dead White Male said:

"...[Women] are instinctively, when uncorrupt, monogamous. Men are not..... No good pretending. Men just ain't, not by their animal nature. Monogamy (though it has long been fundamental to our inherited ideas) is for us men a piece of 'revealed' ethic, according to faith and not to the flesh."

The writer is J.R.R. Tolkien, the source is a letter he wrote to his son -- letter number 43 in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, and despite the fact that I'm not Catholic I really haven't been able to find anything in his observations that doesn't dovetail with life as it seems to be for the majority of human beings. He also knew in 1941 what many popular magazines, with great labor, release as a blockbuster "New Study Finds!" story every couple of years or so.

But coming at us from the other side of the ring is studly William Baude. William knows your name, and he knows your star sign, and he knows just the right words to say this night to set you at ease and make you feel special all at once (not too slick, not too icky-sweet, with just the right combination of compliments and witty side observations on the other people standing around the bar), and he really wants to, you know, get to know you. That way, see, you and he won't be afraid of each other or sex or of having that bad dream where Father Coughlin and your first grade teacher (scary old Mrs. Phelps) and your weeping mother and the cute boy from next door that you had a crush on in high school and Shaun Cassidy all burst in on you while you were having sex with Mr. Roper from Three's Company.

Baude's theory (a theory I haven't heard bounced around since Elvis was alive, but then I don't get out much) is that having sex before marriage is not only not bad, it's not even just plain okay, it's more moral than what he charmingly describes as "presexual marriage." In other words, it's a duty. Observe:

I think it's generally unwise for people (particularly people who view monogamy as generally desirable and divorce as generally undesirable) to get married before they've begun having some sort of sexual relations. Sex is important to marital compatibility (even Ms. Morse says so), and it would be bad to be stuck married to somebody whose views about the purpose and details of sex were drastically different from one's own.

Furthermore, sex is a very important way of gaining knowledge about somebody ("Carnal knowledge," as we call it. "Not of the flesh, but through the flesh.") Sex (at least good sex) is a form of reading, and when something resembling eternal commitment is at stake, it's hardly wise to leave this chapter unperused.

I wonder if he is the kind of reader who reads the ends of books first just to see if he wants to read them all the way through. (Link to this one via Instapundit. Fill in your own pun.)

*Forgot to change this.

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November 08, 2003

Murderer's paradise

Look at all the poisonous plants that grow in my state. When I was a kid we had a big Yellow Jessamine (my father called it an "allamanda") vine growing in the front yard, so I knew about that one. The Rosary Pea (I can't remember what we called it) was also the source of those wonderful scary stories kids tell each other, about the kid they had "heard about" who died from doing something stupid like eating a poisonous plant.

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September 22, 2003

Today's Florida wildlife sighting

A bald eagle, sighted while driving down State Road 17-92 on the way to work.

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September 18, 2003


The internet is kind of slow tonight. Is it Isabel, or all those people online blogging about Isabel?

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The Isabel blog

Via the still-dry (on the outside, anyway) Michele, this news station has set up a blog -- "(Web log)" -- for people to post their pictures and stories of Hurricane Isabel. It's up to four pages already.

The weather here in Florida was gorgeous, by the way. Not a cloud in the sky (they all headed north to join the party) and the temperatures were even a little cooler (70s) towards the late afternoon.

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July 15, 2003

The Big Kaboom

Dang, that was one loud thunderclap. It made the walls shake and set off car alarms. It also gave me a headache.

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June 28, 2003

Bugs, man

EEEYOWARRUUGGH!! I fucking hate grasshoppers.

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June 19, 2003

Road warrior

Best Bad Driver Story ever.

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April 20, 2003

Florida nature

I've been playing with my toy digital camera. Here is a picture of the current scourge of my sinuses (click for larger). I don't know what these things are called, and they are pretty, but they are killing my nasal passages:

And here is a picture of a view of some swampland out near Osteen:

I had to pull over and park at the beginning of a bridge to get the picture, and cars and trucks and such were whizzing past me at great speed, because no one here drives under 50 miles per hour if they don't have to.

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April 18, 2003

Biological weapon of mass destruction

While people are still crying over the missing artifacts, a much more important ancient artifact was really destroyed by Saddam Hussein: the Tigris-Euphrates wetlands, which may have been the inspiration for the story of the Garden of Eden. Why did he do it? To get back at the Marsh Arabs for opposing his regime. He didn't even bother using the excuse that he wanted to build a new Walmart. Anyway, it looks as if now that he is out of there, the marshes can be at least partially restored. Read the whole story. (And I agree with Glenn Reynolds: Bush will still be considered an anti-environmentalist president, mostly because he declined to ratify a useless piece of paper (the Kyoto thing).

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April 12, 2003

Florida wildlife report

Sight of the day -- the week, really: a small gray squirrel running along the roof of the place I work in (it's a one-story building that surrounds a tree-shaded courtyard), carrying a large red hibiscus blossom in its mouth. Of course I didn't have my camera with me.

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March 16, 2003

Out of her tree

You know, I like trees, but I don't like them this much:

"There is no one I would rather spend my birthday with than this tree."

Quoth one Remedy, who is one of those "tree-sitters" -- or as I prefer to call them, "tree-invaders" -- who impose their bodies upon the helpless trees in order to "save" them from the lumber companies' saws. As for myself, I can only imagine the weary tree thinking, "Just cut me down already. It's one thing with the owls and squirrels crapping and pissing on me, but do you know how much waste a human produces, especially one who subsists on granola? My life is hell -- turn me into planks already."

(Via Brent.)

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February 28, 2003

Everyone gets to play in the snow but me

For example: here's some people building a snow-thing in Jerusalem. It's hard to tell what this is exactly; it could be a snow-sheep on its hind legs, or a grouping of several figures. Anyway, one usually thinks of the Mediterranean area as being hot and sunny. I suppose it is, compared to, say, England or Scandinavia. But I rather doubt I'll see that much snow in Florida in my lifetime. (If it ever does snow here, the flakes usually dissolve before they hit the ground, or very soon after. It is usually too dry to snow during our "cold" season. The most we get are freezes, even as far north as the Georgia/Alabama border.)

Via Balagan.

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February 19, 2003

Girls just wanna have fun

Via Steven Chapman we have

Lesbian Japanese Monkeys

Click the picture:


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ah, nature

'Scuse me folks, I'm going to go wash my car while there is still a little light out. (Note to self: do not park car under tree in neighborhood where people feed the birds and squirrels popcorn and sesame seeds.)

Update: where people feed the birds and squirrels that birdfood that consists of sesame seeds bound together with some sort of sticky, honey-like substance. Jeebus. I'm so glad our furry and feathered friends are getting plenty of fiber in their diets.

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February 04, 2003


The woods are calling me, people. Gotta go out for a bit. Later.

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SUVs have their uses

Via Dave Barry comes this argument in favor of SUVs. (It's the animated gif at the top of the page.)

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January 23, 2003

Nature update

We could use a little global warming right now -- there is ice forming on New York City's waterways. Meanwhile, down here Central Florida the temperature is supposed to drop to 24 degrees Fahrenheit tonight. Time to break out those old "Aagh! The Ice Age is Coming!" stories from the seventies vault...

(Via Asymmetrical Information.)

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January 21, 2003

From the Pointless Grousing Files

What on earth is this woman's problem? Well, one thing might be the fact that she thinks the apparent dearth of nice waiters in her native country (New Zealand) is a "tragedy." Um -- it's not a tragedy unless someone dies. That's in the rule book.

There's an attempt to pull in linkage by invoking the Lord of the Rings juggernaut (one of her puzzling complaints is that there are going to be more visitors to that land because of the movie, which she decries even though she seems perversely proud of the fact that she has "taken this fair land for granted my whole life.") Well, speaking for myself, I have wanted to visit New Zealand ever since I was a child and my great-aunt and grandparents went on a trip there. I was taken in further by a variety of National Geographic articles and such. Darn those hordes of tourists anyway, they might encourage NZ to spiff up its (she says) lousy service industry and then writers like her will have one less thing to complain about.

Anyway, I live in a major tourist area, so if she wants points on how to cope with the expected onslaught of foreigners to her pristine shores she can always write me.

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January 17, 2003

Florida freeze

Looks like I'm going to have to bring my plants in tonight.

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January 04, 2003

Rat Bastard

Yvonne has a rat story. So do I. I left it in her comments but I thought I'd share this with you all since you are probably about up to HERE with Frodo and the gang. Anyway, here is The Tale of Rat Bastard:

I lived in a small, cruddy, down-and-out pseudo-apartment (that was probably illegal) in Miami. One day I saw The Rat. I swear, I've seen smaller possums. (Yeah, I've got possum stories too.) See, these giant rats breed along the canals in Miami, and they can chew through metal pipe and concrete block, no lie. So my landlord provides me with... the trap and the peanut butter-smeared piece of chicken. I wait. One night as I am attempting to sleep (trying to ignore the fact that I now have a roommate who is A Rat) I hear the familiar rustle-crackle-thud of Mr. Giant Rat Who Must Wear Combat Boots Because He is So Loud. Then I hear a *snap!* and a high-pitched squeal. Well, I wasn't going to sleep with a mouldering rat corpse in my bathroom. I got up and reluctantly went to the bathroom. I turned on the light -- NO RAT. But the trap was sprung, and there was a little pool of rat blood on the floor next to it. I looked around wildly. THEN I SAW IT.

It was near the door, not three inches from my foot, glaring at me with the most concentrated look of malevolence I have ever seen. Naturally, I jumped backwards faster than I have ever done before or since. The rat ran out of the bathroom and headed for the semi-enclosed kitchen. It was staggering but still too quick for me. The little bastard ran under the fridge. And there it stayed.

After a night of no sleep I had to go to work the next day. I told my landlord what had happened and he promised to Do Something about it. I kind of half-hoped it had escaped (somehow) and decided to leave the abode of humans for good. In a way it did -- when I got back home, I opened the door to be greeted by the odoriferous stench of rotting rat. Obviously it had expired during the night under my fridge. I called the landlord over (he lived in the main part of the house), and we tipped over the fridge. To see a bare floor. Finally it occured to me to look at the bottom part of the fridge. Sure enough, the rat bastard had climbed into the grill and wedged itself in firmly before going to that garbage can in the sky. No doubt its last thoughts were: "This'll fix the bitch!"

It sure did. My landlord and I had to scrape Rat Bastard's remains off my fridge bottom with a knife, and I had to done plastic gloves and clean the whole thing with undiluted chlorox. In the meantime we bathed in the wonderful stench of ex-rat.

I hate rats.

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