Worlds & Time

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Inevitability & Contradiction

Bill "Gambling is moral" Bennett was on the Daily Show a couple months back, and he pretty much admitted that gay marriage was on it's way to America at large.

It reminded me of the time that Jon Stewart bitch slapped Tucker Carlson on Crossfire a little bit, and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It wasn't perfect, but it was still a nice thing to see. Further, I agree with him. Gay marriage is inevitable, I think. Our constitution simply doesn't support it.

I was reminded of this a few days ago when someone on CF asked me for a definition of evil, and my response was something to the effect of "Acting against the interest of others, and the society."

Now, I think that this is a simple way to phrase a complex moral problem. It's true that it does need some explanation though, and that's where I begin to have problems explaining what I mean by "interest of others" and "interest of society."

This is just a sounding board, not really a finished thought, so constructive comments are welcome.

"Interest of others" is about the way we interact with the people around us. Helping someone with a blown tire on the side of the road when it's raining is good. Stealing from someone is bad. It's often about giving people what they want, but not always. There's also a huge section of acting in someone's best interest that has to do with "character," or, as most people would say, not getting your way.

Not giving a pound of candy to an 11 year old is acting in their best interest. Stealing the keys from a drunk man before he can drive is acting in his best interest. Enforcing a curfew for a 16 year old is probably also in someone's best interest.

Some people though don't really understand what these things are or not. Prohibiting gay people from marrying isn't in their best interests.

Society, in the context of this little thought experiment (and in the world at large, the more that I think about it) exists to support the best interests of the individuals that belong to it. The foundational words are "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." That's why murder is a crime in the U.S.A., because it infringes on an individuals right to pursue his own brand of happiness.

This is why I don't completely understand speed limits, the war on drugs, or the war in Iraq. Those all seem like things that are in the best interest of the government, without being part of the best interest of individuals living whatever life they choose to live.

Gay marriage is another thing that it seems contradictory to that whole "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness thing." It's like people haven't really thought to much about why they're banning it, or if they have thought about it, they think that we live in a theocracy. (Soce would disagree, I think.)

Anyway, thinking about my definition of evil, I realized that one of the things that I consider evil is fostering division. Whether it be racial, economic or even access to education, any attempt to divide off one part of society from another part of society is not the way that things are supposed to be. I'm not talking about Communism, I'm talking about tolerance, acceptance, and equality.

So, all those people on CF that want to divide the True Christians (tm) from those that they consider "Christians in name only" suddenly shifted from having a different point of view to evil. Granted, I've believed that the homophobic bigots have been evil for a while, but those that want to divide cover a lot more people than those that want gay people to go back in the closet and lock the door (not really, but they're more vocal about it).

Don't think that I don't see the contradiction there though. As soon as you start calling people good and evil, thats a separation, and I think that I've already decided that separations are bad.

I haven't managed to work through this contradition though. I'm not sure how I can reconcile the belief in evil people without acknowledging that I'm evil. Should I drop the whole clause, or should I qualify? Perhaps that's the point. Perhaps, unless you love everyone (and their "evil") then it's impossible to be "good."

At some point though, I just remind myself that it's all relative anyway, and I'll figure it out. And I will. I just haven't yet.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Now to Wait

Well, it's in, finally. (Only a week or two later than I wanted!) It got there yesterday, by my calculations, which means I probably have between two and four months before I either get my first rejection letter or my first approval.

I'm not really sure which I would prefer. After all, rejection means that I get to work, and submit to the next place. I have no illusions, the company that I submitted too isn't going to publish me. In a way, that's almost why I chose them, because they're so prestigious and it'll make me feel good to know that at least someone really important in the industry has rejected me.

On the other hand, if they accept me, I'm going to have crap to show them for the rest of the book. The submission policy is 3 chapters, so damn it all if they aren't the best three chapters that I've ever written. Took me months and months.

And there isn't any more. I concentrated so hard on those 3 chapters, that I never wrote the rest. Why would I? A lot of work for no real material gain. After all, they're not going to accept it. So if by some incredible miracle they accept the book, they're going to say, "Great, send us the rest," and I'm going to be standing there with empty arms.

If it bothered me more, I might do the work. But I guess at the end of the day, I'm waiting for the rejection. Damn pessimisism.

So now, I have a whole bunch of things to do. I owe Christopher something for saving me from the void, so I'm working on that. I'm thinking of finishing a story about drugs for submission. I have three or four more books on the back burner. And then there's chapters four through whatever waiting for me to get around to writing them.

Then again, I'd much rather be playing D&D. Sorcerous Ease, bitch. Eat a fireball.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Other Side of Morality

I once had a person on Christian Forums tell me that if he didn't believe in God he'd loose all sense of good and evil and would start murdering everyone that displeased him, raping women he found attractive, and simply stealing everything that he wanted.

Now, I'm not claiming that this person represents Christianity. It was just one person whom's comments were particularly emotive and over the top.

I thought I'd just take a moment to talk about my own morality for a moment. I should point out first that I don't speak for all atheists in the same way that the above person doesn't speak for Christianity.

My morality is conventionally based on what Christians know as the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Why do I follow the Golden Rule? Because I find that since I recognize that I am a person, and there are other people, then those other people probably have feelings similar to the feelings that I have. This is the basis for empathy.

Since I have empathy for other people, I'd like them to feel how I would like to feel. This is, namely, happy.

The problem is, the Golden Rule isn't perfect, because all people aren't all the same. If you're just following the Golden Rule, for example, you can be either neutral or against gay marriage because if you're straight, you probably don't want to marry another person of the same gender. The thought process is: I'm straight, and I'm trying to treat others the way that I want to be treated, so I'll treat gay people the way that I want to be treated and vote against allowing people to marry others of the same sex.

Yeah, that's overly simplistic, and it's not why most people vote against gay marriage, but it illustrates the problem, I think.

The solution is another version of the rule, my Platnium Rule: Do unto others what they want you to do to them. Not as catchy, but as a precursor to the Golden Rule, it covers the differences between different people. Now, even if you don't like getting whipped and your girlfriend does, then the Platnium Rule provides you with a basis for interacting with her in a moral way without preventing her from getting what she wants.

You'll note that all the things that the golden rule prohibits are mostly still verboten. Murder, for example, is probably not what most people want to happen to them, so that's out. I can't steal your stuff, either. Or have sex with your husband. That is, unless you want me to have sex with your husband.

See, there's the big problem with the Platnium Rule: it's really, really hard to accomplish successfully if you don't know someone. You need a lot of information about what other people want and like and what they find mortally offensive, so the Platnium rule isn't perfect, and when you don't have enough information, that's when you fall back on the golden rule.

Now, there's a problem with both of the above rules that requires and addendum that I call the Silver Rule: If either the Golden or Platnium Rules call for something that you know is not in a person's best interests, then ignore the first two rules and do what you think is best. I'm not talking about hurting their feelings though. I have to have a darn good reason to think that something is against a person's long term interests before I'll resort to the Silver Rule. For example, if someone hands me a gun and asks me to shoot them, the Platnium rule says that I should. The Golden Rule asks me how I would feel, and since I'm chronically depressed, that says I should too.

However, I know that shooting someone that's suicidally depressed (or perhaps just crazy) is not in their best interest. Silver rule wins out, and I try to talk them off the ledge.

There's one final rule that restricts what I do, the Copper Rule. The Copper Rule says: If you have no other basis for making a decision, try to follow the law. Granted, we're down to fairly common metals at this point, so there's some leeway with the Copper Rule, but at least it provides a general guideline.

And that's basically my decision making process when it comes to ethical dillemas. Granted, there are a lot of things that require a solid defition. For instance, I don't think that something that can't think and has never been able to think is a person. Also, I don't think that a corporation is a person. That sort of stuff. But all that is sort of off topic. This is just the basic process.

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Some Short Comments

I'm working toward having my book ready for submission in the next week or so, which will be very nice. In the meantime, here are some comments about how the week has gone:

Maybe it's just because he's a movie star, but one of our guests had a slew of odd requests, including one that had me scrubbing down women's clear plastic heels with club soda for his daughter. That and apparently he likes Wendy's and Heineken. Which is cool, cause I like Wendy's too.

One of my bellmen left for school, which sucks cause he was one of the good guys. However, he could get a hockey scholarship out of the deal, so more power to him.

The second of my cool bellmen was helping the above mentioned movie star, and despite spending a huge amount of time and effort on him, including getting ice and removing room service trays and all sorts of other things, only got a five dollar tip. This is funny because it's less than I got for the shoes.

The third of my good bellmen has turned out to be the most interesting single person that I've ever met. He's only nineteen but he's had an absolutely incredible life. I listened for about an hour, and then had to start taking notes. Wow, just wow. Such an amazing guy (and the best bellman that I've ever had).

Last Wednesday, I woke up and decided that I wanted to submit my book sometime in the next week, so I was thinking about work issues. I've been trying to start my own company, but I never expected that by Wednesday night, I would have two employees, which now has me curious about what health benefits they'll need.

Today, Friday, I went to visit a really good friend of mine named Mike. I took a left instead of a right, and ended up in the area that Christopher calls the void. If I hadn't gotten stuck ain the mud bout a half mile in, I could have died out there, lost in the huge open spaces. I hiked for about a mile, and managed to get a weak cell phone signal that I used to call for help. It was really embarassing.

I've seen Mike's house now. The house is quite literally a symphony, although I'm not going to explain how. It's probably one of the most beautiful places that I've even seen. It's not a place I could live, but it's a place that I want to visit, maybe get stuck out there for a few days during a storm. It has one of those views that some people would kill for.

So, that's a quick synopsis of where I've been and what I've seen this week. I happen to think that it's worth mentioning, cause really it's been an interesting week to live through.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Total Embarassment

So, V is checking in some guy when I get back from dinner. Wearing a black cap, stuble. Two daughters. I don't look at him twice. She's being awfully nice to him, showing him rooms, and even offering to take him up to our concierge floor to show him a room up there personally. At some point I notice that he has a strong Brittish accent.

But she's having some issues about his billing. As a hotel, we get stiffed fairly often. People will give you a bad credit cards or do anything they can to stay the night and then walk out in the morning without paying the bill.

So, she pulls me aside, and says something about him wanting his company to pay for it. I've heard this one before, and only one time has the company actually paid for it.

So I tell her that we're not going to do that. He needs to put down a credit card, and we'll talk to the company the next day. I think he said something about working on a movie here in town. I tell him that we still need a credit card, or no go.

V talks his credit card out of him, and is filling out his registration card, and while she's doing this, I look over at the screen. Bean. Sean Bean. That sounds familiar.

Oh, Sean Bean. Internationally famous actor. Voted the second sexiest man in Brittain a few years back.

One of nine guys with an Elvish nine tatoo. You know, one of these:

Crap. I look up at him. Yeah, definately him:

I turn to V. "Look," I whisper to her. "Swipe his card, don't run it. I'll take care of everything.

No wonder she'd been so nice to him, I thought to myself.

Rob's back, so I turn to Rob and say, "Hey, does the father of these two girls look familiar?" He nods, totally cool. That's Rob for you. He's a customer service guy too, he knows how to act.

It takes them another fifteen minutes for Rob and V to work out the details. I spend most of this time making funny faces in the back, and looking up his IMDB profile. Yup, two daughters from his first marriage.

So they're pretty much finished, and Rob turns to help another guest. Mr. Bean hesitates, turns around, and comes back to the desk. V's doing something else, so I step up.

"Is there something I can help you with?" I say smiling. Nervous as all get out, but still smiling. Customer service is about remaining calm.

"No," he says. "I don't think you have a good attitude. I don't think you know what you're talking about, and I want to talk to Robert."

Whoa . . . I feel like I've been slapped in the face, and everything's reeling. I know who this guy is now, and he just told me off. Well, don't I feel like a dumbass.

I couldn't think of anything to say except "I'm sorry."

And he leans closer, eyes flashing like Boromir and he says, "I don't think you understand. I think that you have a bad attitude."

"Yeah," I reply, "And I'm apologizing for you thinking that I have a bad attitude." The phrasing could have been better, I'll admit, but I don't think well when I'm flustered. "Robert will be right with you."

Then I stepped back, still smiling from years of customer service work. Back when I used to work Night Audit, I learned how to smile through anything. There was a while where I simply couldn't frown when someone told me bad news, when I was told that my Great Uncle had died, my first reaction was to smile.

I waited until he left. And then I turned to Rob and V and said, "Wow, I've never been insulted by the second sexiest man in England before."

To tell the truth, when he said that, I had absolutely no idea why he'd said that to me. Both me and Rob thought maybe he overhead me say the "Does the father look familiar" line. It took about ten minutes before I remembered that I'd been part of the whole "We need your credit card Mr. Bean" thing. We authorized it too, for about a thousand dollars. Yeah, I hope he doesn't find out about that.

V apparently didn't know who it was until we told her afterward either. She was just being polite, which is cool. When you find out that that person that you're helping is famous, it's always cool to know that you've gone out of your way to help them.

It's not like guests don't insult me sometimes. Customer service sucks, because few people are nice to you. You have to learn how to deal with it. Most times, people assume that since you're serving them, they can treat you like crap. But this was Sean Bean. Ouch.

Granted, he was nothing compared to the abusive handicapped woman last night. The one that beat up her husband out front of the hotel, decided she didn't like our rooms, and checked out and moved to the Loretto. Yeah, that was an interesting check in, 'specially since it took them a half hour to get around the corner of our building. Hope the Loretto's having fun with them.

Anyway, as I write this, he's not due to check in until tomorrow. So, I'm considering what I should do. Should I write a note or something? He's already pissed off that I made him give a credit card. I hope I don't piss him off more.

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Class Warfare

This is past due, but Slacktivist has been running a set of posts on relative wealth, including this one, this one, and this one.

I'm posting in a few of those, under the normal name, but I suppose that I really should admit it:

I believe in class in America today.

At which point, my Republican readers, if I had any, would accuse me of "Class Warfare."

Yes. That sounds about right. You know what the best thing about that is? They can make it sound like they themselves are not engaging in warfare. And it is war. The problem is that one side of the war is very, very well funded, whereas the other side is having trouble making ends meet.

The ideal American Dream (now trademarked to Disney and Universal Pictures, with network rights owned by NBC) is that of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps by the power of hard work.

Of course, in this day and age, there are some caveats on that. You see, most people want to have more wealth so that they can live better, but really, in order to build yourself up that means living down.

Someone on one of those Slacktivist threads pointed out that if you're making $40k a year, and you live frugally, you can save a million dollars. I have two sets of aunts and uncles that have done this, actually.

But what does that mean? No kids, first off. They're too expensive, and you tend to want spend money on them. Or, if you do have kids, don't feed them too well.

And you need a sort of inhuman focus. The ability to work two full time jobs, or at least one full time and one part time job is a good way to pull it off. You might also want to consider being a teetotaller, because alcohol is expensive.

Otherwise, you really want to be born into it. This article is an analysis of people on the Forbes 400 wealthiest people list, and also an interesting read.

It basically says that the number of people on the list that have actually pulled themselves up from relative poverty is overstated by Forbes, and they insinutate that it's due to some sort of misplaced desire to attribute it to this great American Dream. In fact, 42% of people in the top 400 were born with enough wealth to qualify, and another 13% started with a background worth more than a million dollars.

True, 31f the people on the list managed to get there without significant assets to start with, including Ross Perot and Kluge (whom I've never heard of before), but does that really indicate that people can work they way up just by working hard?

Perhaps, but it helps if you're born with it.

And of course, this means that I support the estate tax. Or the Death Tax if you prefer to put it that way. I'm not afraid of it, really. If I ever had millions of dollars and children to pass it on to, I'd still support it. If you're going to work your way up to the top, that still means that you should have to work for it.

And, I believe in class. I believe that there's a widening class gap, as proved by the widening gap between CEO pay and pretty much everyone else. The Slacktivist posts are about relative wealth though, and there's another interesting point of view.

I'm not in the upper class of the U.S., but as a citizen of the U.S., I am in the upper class of the world. When someone says that 100K a year isn't enough to live on, it's not just based on American wages, it's based on the world. Mexicans are so desperate to live in a place where 20K a year is possible that they're willing to risk their lives crossing the border.

So even when people qualify what they've said, that makes me sick. I don't care if you live in New York City. You're in the top 1f people in the world in terms of wages per year. Do they have any clue what they're actually saying? How much of a disinterest must you have in the rest of humanity do you have to have before you can't understand the relative terms?

After all, according to Slacktivist, the median household income for NYC is roughly 60K per year. Does that mean that even people around the midpoint in New York City are living in poverty?

So I guess I'm a bad person, a class warrior.

I suppose I can live with that.

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On Relationships (Not light reading)

If you're one of my relatives, be warned, this post has content that you may find objectionable. I don't know exactly why I'm including it, but I guess I'm just tired of not talking about it.

Thomas had a really interesting idea that he called the slut phase.

A gay man starts off, pretty much by default, closeted. And while it's not impossible to get action when you're closeted, it's not really easy either. There are "stages" of closetedness, I suppose, but in the first one, you haven't even admitted it to yourself, so pretty much no relationships.

After coming out, at least to yourself and perhaps a nightclub full of strangers, Thomas said that most gay men went through a slut phase where they basically slept with anything that moved. And, in the media, they do. Look at Queer as Folk. Brian is always in this phase. It's probably the most well documented period in gay life, after the coming out.

I pointed out that I never had. That I went directly from closeted to being nearly a monk. Then he would just say, "Just wait." Ah, but if he only knew.

After I came out to my parents (I never had really close friends in high school) that was it . . . no sex because I didn't know any other gay people. No interest in guys that weren't of my own age, so I rejected the older guys online.

Well, actually, strike that. The first person that I found that was my own age and gay was D. D was a nice guy, and we found each other out because we both liked spending to much time talking about the actors that we thought were good (and also pretty). I can't remember who finally said, "You know, I talking about guys because I'm gay" first, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he did.

He was a year younger than me at the time. Perhaps sixteen. Maybe fifteen. And while I was totally unexperienced, he wasn't. He'd met a much older guy online, and when the guy came for a visit they spent three days solid in a hotel room together.

At the time D told me, I pulled away, which was stupid on my part. Now when I look back, I should have slept with him, but instead I just turned and pretty much ran away because I didn't know how I felt about what had happened (and I was terrified that he'd caught something). I don't really know what to feel about it now. On one hand, it's abuse, on the other hand, the guy didn't really rape him. D knew what he was doing, and now I sort of wish that I'd done the same thing. After all, it would have helped me get over my sex issues with someone that knew what they were doing, and it would have also have made me feel that at least someone out there cared about me.

I was depressed, and hey, at least the pedophiles pay attention to you, right?

Then came Rochester, where I developed a crush on someone that basically left me completely fucked up for years. I don't want to talk about that, because it's only been what . . . four years? Yes, I'm still fucked up by it.

Also, there was a night where Thomas once volunteered to be my wingman if I wanted to pursue a guy in a Marroon hoody (there was nothing but hotness under the hoody, incidentally). I don't really regret not taking that one. I told Thomas that it wasn't special enough to be my first time, and it wasn't.

So then Miami. It's my 21 birthday, and I'm getting desperate. The pedophiles have stopped emailing my account. I've never been laid. I'm not religious, and I don't have any proscription about sex and I'm even freaking out, and I'm still a virgin.

I met Adriano at work. He was not particularly interesting to me physically, but he was intellectual and interested in me. So, more because of numerology (don't ask) and desperate opportunity, it happened, finally.

He was also a mistake. Why? Because:

1. He was huge, and it was painful.

2. I lied about it being my first time.

The second part is what I really regret, although I think the first part has shaped my relationships more since then. I was either bored or in pain throughout the process (and, since I couldn't ask questions, worried about said pain). I really wish I wouldn't have lied. I'm going to point to Paul Monet and say he fucked up my first . . . er . . . encounter. I was going to add Becoming a Man to this post, but apparently MySpace doesn't carry stuff like that, but you can always look it up yourself.

There was also a guy in a white Passat in Miami, sometime after Adriano so casually let off a "So, my boyfriend will be home next week." Actually, I didn't really care so much about the boyfriend, although for a while I worried that being with him "wasn't special enough." And then I had to ask myself Did I need it? and the answer is Yes. So much for maroon hoody guy.

So what about the white Passat guy? He was proof of the old gay maxim, "Always buy the head drag queen a drink in a drag bar." I ended up on stage kissing someone, and the second cutest boy in the club ended up in a car with me. It was a good night, but I wouldn't let him take me home. He was sharing a hotel room, and that was that.

Miami was also where my profile pic was taken. I guess I hang out with the wrong crowd, I never have any pictures of myself except when I start begging people to take them. But the reason that my profile picture is my profile picture is because I was trying to figure out how to beat the security at the Winter Party, and this older guy started to hit on me. I told him nothing was going to happen, and then I lied about my "boyfriend" for a bit. I think he believed me. I don't know why.

So then I moved home to go back to school.

I think I've been to Pulse perhaps a half dozen times since I moved home. The guys that have hit on me, for the most part, are the ones that I'm least attracted to. It's embarrassing really, because my response is this is the class that I'm in? I rank this far down the ladder on the looks scale? Girls tell me I'm cute, and the clubs tell me that I might as well be a dead fish.

I picked up a guy at the foam party. That was a disaster. I thought I was going to get kicked out of the club for getting head on the dance floor (I wish I could have seen my face . . . priceless) and actually returning the favor.

But then, he had a birthmark in a bad place, which terrified me. And nothing happened. I seem to remember that he lied about his name, and I ended up checking his driver's liscense while he was in the bathroom. So yeah, disaster, and a battery of tests later at the doctors office.

Which brings us to here. And if you know me, you know that I was in a four week relationship that basically qualifies as a trainwreck. The guy has me blocked on MySpace, so I suppose I could speak more freely, but I won't. Maybe when those wounds aren't so fresh, I'll revisit that. Or if I ever feel vengeful.

So, total tally?

Two guys, more than just friends.

Three guys, head.

No real relationships during any of this.

So, where's my slut phase? I think that I'm right still, and Thomas is wrong. My standards are too high or I must be incapable of relationships, termporary or long term.

Which is depressing, again, and makes me regret the whole pedophile thing again.