Friday, December 28, 2012

Religious Freedom (To Treat People Like Shit)

I hadn't clicked on a National Organization for Marriage link in quite some time.  NOM has been reeling since going 0-5 on election night and their articles have trended overseas to countries that still hate the gays as much as they think is appropriate.  That was until I saw this article, which rehashes an old favorite point of mine that the religious right makes.

Gay Marriage is a threat to the freedom to treat people like shit.

For those that don't want to click, an Annapolis company which features trolley rides for newly married couples is shutting down because they hate the gay, and gay marriage is now legal in Maryland.  Let's dissect just how dumb this is first:

  • Anti-discrimination laws are to blame for the trolley owner's decision to shut down.  If gay marriage didn't exist, they would still have to provide service to gay people.
  • Anti-discrimination laws also protect religious freedom.

Makes NOM strategist Frank Schubert look pretty stupid when he says "the law doesn't protect people of faith.  It just doesn't."

The best part about the bible is that it doesn't say anything about the evils of endorsing same-sex unions, or the punishment for not condemning same-sex unions.  Religious people have come up with that one all on their own out of the blackness of their own hearts.  Much of the bible actually endorses treating people pretty well regardless of anything in their background.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hating the Westboro Baptist Church is Counter-Productive

Who gives a flying fuck about the Westboro Baptist Church?  These people are universally recognized as assholes and lunatics.  Their tactics are reprehensible to an extreme which is exactly why they don't fucking matter.  Getting angry about them, and signing petitions are nice feel-good acts, but ultimately a waste of time.  At the end of the day their message isn't going to land with anyone, and they're going to crawl back to Topeka like the pathetic masses of human scum they are.  These people are mosquitoes in a room full of tigers.

Why not get angry about the Catholic Church, the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council, or Focus on the Family?  Organizations that have deluded people into thinking that they're any more legitimate.  James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and the FRC blamed the Sandy Hook tragedy on gays and godlessness.  This is an organization with the support of millions whose leaders are routinely paraded around on CNN, Fox, and NBC as experts on theology and family structures.

The Pope decided that Christmas was a good time to bash the gays.  Catholic priests have molested countless children.  Almost a quarter of adults in the United States are Catholic, and many of them willingly give money to these people.  Why don't people do something about that instead of spouting off empty disdain for a couple hundred nuts from Kansas?

MacLeod Cartoons

Friday, December 14, 2012

Off Topic: School Shootings

This isn't about me.  I want to make that very clear that I am not writing this for any sort of anything for myself.  But I do have thoughts and opinions, and I find that putting those to words helps me in these situations. And I also have this platform on which to do so.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bullying Apologists

Evidently a picture of a preschool boy wearing pink shoes that was posted on Facebook went viral recently prompting a slew of comments about how horrible the mom is for giving other preschoolers fodder with which to bully her son.

Excuse me?  Why is the onus on the (potential) victim to act like everyone else and not on the other kids to stop being (or not be) little shits (and their parents to stop enabling (or not enable) their little shits).  That a condemning comment quoted further down in the article is from a woman is even more astounding as her argument is eerily similar to the crap being spewed forth by rape-apologists in regards to victims' supposed slutty attire.

Off Topic: Dog Park Musings - The Breeds I Most and Least Like to Encounter and Why

Editor's Note: Most of the entries here deal with the LGBT community and the issues that affect us as a group.  However, from time to time Adam and I will want to share things from our personal lives. 

As I've said before, I go to the dog park as often as I can.  We have a Siberian Husky - German Shepherd mix and a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, both high energy, working breeds that need a lot of exercise.  They need to interact with other dogs that can give them the attention and energy that I cannot on my own.

In that time, I've encountered at least fifty different breeds on a regular basis, and probably another fifty on an occasional basis.  And while each dog is its own unique animal regardless of breed, there are some that seem to be better around my dogs than others.  The following is a series of lists based on my observations from probably around 500 dog park visits in the last two years.

The Breeds I Feel Most Comfortable Playing With My Dogs

1). Siberian Husky - This one's a no brainer.  There is no breed that mixes speed, energy, and bulk like a Husky.  They're fast and spirited enough to give my dogs a good workout, large enough to handle wrestling when the dogs are up for it, and their temperament is a perfect blend of friendly and aloof.  That my dog is part Husky seems to inspire a certain sort of kinship as she seems to like them best.

2). Rhodesian Ridgeback - Rhodesians were bred to hunt lions, so they are absolutely fearless, and some can grow to over a hundred pounds.  They are incredibly tough, extremely solid dogs without being super bulky.  They might be one of the best all-purpose breeds in existence given their strength, size, and speed.  Given their demeanor, they're probably one of the least likely breeds to show aggression out of nervousness.  When dogs are wrestling and accidents can happen, that's definitely a good trait.

3). Australian Shepherd - This is basically a repeat of all the reasons I like Huskies.  They're fast, decent sized, high energy, and super smart, plus their fur gives them an added barrier against rough play.  They're more of a herding dog so they tend to be less up for a straight run than Huskies or Ridgebacks, but they still usually end up being a great playmate.

4). English Bull Terrier - English Bull Terriers are like bowling balls with legs.  Small, compact, and remarkably tough, they're great for tug-of-war sessions, although not so much for running and wrestling.  They're a good sturdy smaller breed, but they tend to lack that Napoleonic aggression you sometimes see in other small breeds (Corgis).  The only downside is they will rip your toys to shreds.  Our dogs are more runners so they tend to leave them alone though.

5). Great Danes - Danes  have a reputation for being lumbering gentle giants, and while they certainly are that, they can be super playful too, especially as puppies.  They're definitely big enough to be able to handle any sort of rough play, but also goofy and clumsy enough to even the score a little bit with our smaller dogs.  When my Husky gets running with them, it looks like a dog running with a couple of deer.

The Calmest Breeds

1). Irish Wolfhound - Wolfhounds are a little frightening to some, being the largest (height-wise) breed and having been bred to hunt wolves, but they're also one of the gentlest breeds in existence.  Not recommended for any sort of guarding activity, these dogs just want to lope around the park at their own leisurely pace.  They're supposedly great coursing dogs, but I've never actually seen one run.

2). Basset Hound - I always have a hard time believing these are hunting dogs, because every one I've seen has looked like he was laboring just dragging his ears around.  They're the kind of dogs that my dogs quickly pass over because they're just not very interesting to them, but I'm sure they make great pets.

3). Leonberger - Most larger breeds tend to be relatively calm, and Leonbergers are no different.  Every once in a while I'll see a younger one that wants to romp around, but mostly they just slowly wander, oblivious to whatever the weather is.

4). Alaskan Malamute - Very similar to the Husky, Malamutes are larger, slower, and generally more docile.  Most of the ones I've seen act similarly to the Leonberger, just strolling the park at their own pace, occasionally breaking to head into one of the fields to sniff around.  

Most of the people that bring their dogs to the park do so because of their energy, so I have to end this list at four.

The Most Unpredictable Breeds / The Breeds I Least Like To Encounter

1). Golden Retriever - If I was here to be a jerk, the Golden Retriever would occupy each of the top five spots.  If you gave me a room full of family owned Retrievers and a room full of family owned Bully Breeds, I'm avoiding the Retrievers every single time.  They are the most unpredictable dog, they're big enough to do some damage, and there seem to be more stupid retriever owners than any other breed.  There are at least three Retrievers at our dog park that have to be muzzled to go there.

This probably has a lot of people wondering why I am so opposed to the stereotypical American family dog, a breed that is often rated as the best family dog.  And the answer is largely found within that sentence.  Because retrievers are so common and so popular, there are so many owners that have them without a good understanding of dog behavior.  They are a lot of people's first dog, and as such a lot of them come with poor training and a whole host of neuroses.

They also happen to be one of the most trainable breeds, which leaves their owners without a respect and understanding what more difficult dogs are like.  To them, a dog is a creature that wants to be your friend.  Tail wags are good, and any sort of noise is bad.  They have absolutely no understanding of what is typical behavior for a Shepherd, or a Husky, or a Corgi or any number of more rambunctious breeds that aren't the least bit dangerous.

In conjunction with the issues above (and also partly because of them), they're often poorly socialized.  One of the worst things you can encounter at a dog park is a poorly socialized older dog, because that leads to nervousness, which then leads to aggression.  Retrievers also most often have the habit of engaging a dog in play and then running and hiding behind their owner.  It sounds cute, but it's incredibly annoying because it ends with another dog barreling into the retriever owner's legs, or getting ticked off and starting to bark.

I've even had a few professionals tell me that the dogs that make them the most nervous are the Retrievers and Doodles (Retriever-Poodle) for the reasons listed above.

My dogs have had great experience playing with Golden Retrievers, but more often, I see at least one of the above.

2). Dachshund - This goes for a lot of little dogs because their owners think their yappiness is cute and don't do anything about it, but Dachshunds tend to be particularly nasty.  Of the relatively few major incidents at the dog park I went to in New York, several of them were caused by, or involved Dachshunds.  Luckily for the most part our dogs don't really bother with small dogs.

3). Chihuahua - Of all the breeds I've encountered, Chihuahuas seem to object the most to simply being sniffed.  A lot of it probably comes from nervousness and poor socialization, but it may just be the fact that they're small.  I can see it in my dog's eyes when she inspects a Chihuahua and it snaps at her, "Jesus fucking Christ...calm down."

4). German Shepherd - Shepherds seem to come in two types, the overly aggressive, and the overly fearful, and I don't think I'm suffering from a lack of sample size here as they're pretty common.  I've had a lot of minor incidents with Shepherds where one dog or the other ends up getting spooked, but nothing major or dangerous.  I don't worry too much since they're relatively robust, but the unpredictability is disconcerting.

5). Greyhound - Mostly Greyhounds just want to be left alone, and they will let your dog know it.  Some of this is in coming from New York where a vast majority of the Greyhounds are former racing dogs that are rescues, and rescues themselves can at times be unpredictable.  The nastiest snarls I've ever seen going to dog parks have come from Greyhounds, but I've never seen one do anything more than growl.

What Did I Leave Off?

Staffordshire Terrier (Pit Bull) - I know the stigma that pit bull breeds get, and the fact that so many are rescues gives it a little bit of basis, but I have no issue with any of the breeds or mixes that are called pitbulls themselves.  I've seen a couple dominance altercations between them, and they do sound terrifying, but I've never seen a pit bull seriously injure another dog.  I know it happens, but I think that's more attributed to most of them being rescues than it is the dogs as a whole.

Wolfdog (wolf - dog cross) - While not an actual breed either, they frequent many of the "most dangerous dog" lists that you'll see.  I've only seen maybe 4 or 5 in person, but I have never seen any hint of danger from any of them.  My dog has played with one before with no issue.  Temperament-wise, they remind me a lot of Alaskan Malamutes where they typically just want to do their own thing.  I saw a boxer-mix attempt to dominate a 9 month old German Shepherd - wolf mix which is a situation tailor made for a dog to lash out due to nervousness, and the wolfdog did nothing.  There is in fact no scientific research that suggests they are more prone to aggression than any dog breed, just a series of horror stories that are probably due to bad upbringing.  

Rottweiler - I don't see too many Rotts, but more than a few.  They are big solid dogs, and they have the strongest bite of any dog, which is probably why they're so feared.  The problem isn't necessarily that Rotts (or any bully breed) are more prone to aggression to other breeds, it's just that a larger percentage of their attacks cause significant damage.

There are plenty of stereotypes that ring true.  Corgis and Hounds are loud and annoying, Vizslas and Pointers have no concept of personal space, Border Collies never stop moving, and Bulldogs coat everything in their saliva.  Some of these things are more bothersome than others, but every breed is capable of being a good dog. It just takes a good owner.

Monday, December 10, 2012

ESPN980, Steve Czaban, Andy Pollin, and Bigotry

In case you missed it ESPN980's (Washington DC) Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin let loose an anti-trans tirade for the ages when talking about transgender college basketball player Gabrielle Ludwig.  Amid referring to her as 'it' and saying that 'it' is the politically correct term for transgender individuals, Czaban and Pollin also belittled her appearance and advised against her playing sports.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Off Topic: Dangerous Dog Breeds

I think it's important to start with my history.  I don't have any sort of official background with dogs.  My family got our first lab when I was 10 or 11, and a few months after she died 13 years later, we got a lab-pointer mix.  I myself own a Siberian Husky - German Shepherd mix along with my partner's Pembroke Welsh Corgi, who has the AKC papers to prove that he's better than your dog.  I've gone to the dog park almost every day for the past two years, and every day except five or six total since moving here to Seattle.  Over that time I've become pretty good friends with a few of the professional dog walkers and trainers that frequent the park, along with several people that have some breeding experience.  So while not an expert, I think the moniker of 'knowledgeable amateur' fits.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Those Poor Christians

I've seen this 'confession' by Ben Stein making the rounds on my Facebook timeline recently, unfortunately by a few people who I respect.  And while I'm certain that their agreement is with the sentiment, and not the words, I felt the need to tackle it anyway.  Since I find these things are often best dissected piece by piece, I will do my dirty work in that manner.  Ben Stein, for those who don't know, is the Clear Eyes shill with the notoriously monotone voice who has also hosted a couple of game shows.  He also happens to be a creationist young earth proponent with a reputation for ignoring the science he doesn't like.  The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary: