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A Child Needs A Mother And A Father

This piece originally appeared on now-defunct news and column website LezGetReal.

A child needs a mother and a father. Children with a mother and a father statistically do better in life. This is the Conservative mantra on social family issues and it is irrefutably backed up by the data. It’s completely correct, as well. However, Conservative political groups fail to point out one key piece of how they’re presenting this information: mother and father are roles, not genders…

The core of these roles are a push and a pull. They build confidence and a sense of being loved. The mother pulls the child in, nurtures, protects the child, and coddles the child. The mother says, “No, that’s dangerous.” The father pushes the child out, toughens the child up, throws it into the world. The father says, “Oh, s/he’ll be fine.” Through this constant push and pull, the child grows up feeling cared for and confident to jump into life. Two men, two women, and every pairing in the beautiful spectrum between can embody these roles, even dividing the various aspects however works for them. The roles are the key to this dynamic of parenting, not the genders of the parents.

This is not to say that a single parent (which I am) cannot successfully raise a child on their lonesome. This is not to disparage people who were raised by one parent. A model system is not an only choice. Myself, I try my best to mix both elements of push and pull and to provide an example of both types of social interaction that my child will absorb and process in his way. This is merely to point out how Social Conservatives, when they bother to actually use data, twist evidence to suit their ideology. So, the next time an ideologue tells you that a child needs a mother and father, you can simultaneously agree and disagree, pointing out that their use of the evidence is simply a shallow skimming of the truth behind the complex dynamics of effective parenting.

A Rational Argument for Legalizing Prostitution

This piece originally appeared on the now-defunct news and opinion website LezGetReal.

The answer to eliminating the negative activities we commonly link to Prostitution is legalization and regulation. When transformed into a legal industry, problems such as sex slavery, human trafficking, related assaults, and pimp abuse will decline sharply. These harmful occurrences associated with Prostitution are products of the industry being entirely within the realm of organized crime and black market influences, not inherent to the work itself. To solve the problems associated with Prostitution, we must legalize Prostitution.

Human trafficking, sex slavery, and abuse are horrific things. Because of this reality, the question keeps being posed: “How do we stop Prostitution?” The question is invalid. Even asking this falsely assumes prostitution is immutably linked to human trafficking and sex slavery. The question misses the point entirely. What we really should be asking is how do we stop human trafficking and sex slavery? The answer is blindingly simple: legalize prostitution.

When you create legitimate, above board business in a market rife with underground drawbacks, the risk-benefit ratio of the consumer puts the less-than-above board businesses out of business. All purchasing decisions are made on a function of: “I want this thing, but it will cost this much of my resources and present these risks. Is it worth it?” The options are weighed and a buying decision is made. With no legal options, the person looking to pay for sex has only black market choices. The black market conducts its business the way it does because it can. As a legal industry, prostitution will benefit from health care, legal protections, worker unions, and a change in the control dynamic. An entire new sector of tax revenue will emerge in an estimated 14.6 billion dollar1 industry. Suddenly, sex workers will benefit from more than adequate health care, protection from abusive bosses and customers, and gain the ability to be selective of clientele. The flood of money away from the black market and into a regulated environment will defund operations that cater to human trafficking, forced, and underage business. If a safe and legal alternative is provided, the appeal of the black market drops away and its business withers.

Workers in a black market industry, like prostitution, benefit from no health care or legal protections. One can imagine that health care is something crucial to workers in the sex industry. Legalizing and regulating prostitution will, as with any other industry, bring it into the light of modern health & safety regulations including: regular check ups, regular disease screening, and vaccination. Making this a legit industry would benefit the workers immeasurably.

Prohibition always fails. Look at marijuana prohibition, alcohol prohibition, and even internet piracy. Sandvine recently released an extensive study2 showing how bit torrent traffic plummets in an area when Netflix makes their streaming service available in that area. How many people die from running moonshine now? The vast majority of people will almost always patronize a venue which provides safe and legal products and services for which there is a demand when that safe and legal option exists. This is why prohibition will always fail. Alcohol prohibition had no success in curbing alcohol consumption. Marijuana use is at its highest. Internet piracy thrives where content is not available to purchase legally.When you have demand, attempting to make a market illegal will not curb that market, but simply drive it underground. Provide a legal means of obtaining a service or good and the consumer will take that less risky route. Make prostitution legal and sex slavery will quickly evaporate.

Open Science: Mobile Device Unlocking Response From White House

This article originally appeared on

As anyone who signed the petition and checks their email now knows, the White House has issues a response to the petition to place the mobile device unlocking exception back on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. I just received the following email in response:

date: Mon, Mar 4, 2013 at 4:54 PM
subject: Petition Response: It’s Time to Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking
It’s Time to Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking
By R. David Edelman, Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation, & Privacy

Thank you for sharing your views on cell phone unlocking with us through your petition on our We the People platform. Last week the White House brought together experts from across government who work on telecommunications, technology, and copyright policy, and we’re pleased to offer our response.

The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties. In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones. And if you have paid for your mobile device, and aren’t bound by a service agreement or other obligation, you should be able to use it on another network. It’s common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring we continue to have the vibrant, competitive wireless market that delivers innovative products and solid service to meet consumers’ needs.

This is particularly important for secondhand or other mobile devices that you might buy or receive as a gift, and want to activate on the wireless network that meets your needs — even if it isn’t the one on which the device was first activated. All consumers deserve that flexibility.

The White House’s position detailed in this response builds on some critical thinking done by the President’s chief advisory Agency on these matters: the Department of Commerce‘s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). For more context and information on the technical aspects of the issue, you can review the NTIA’s letter to the Library of Congress‘ Register of Copyrights (.pdf), voicing strong support for maintaining the previous exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for cell phone carrier unlocking.

Contrary to the NTIA’s recommendation, the Librarian of Congress ruled that phones purchased after January of this year would no longer be exempted from the DMCA. The law gives the Librarian the authority to establish or eliminate exceptions — and we respect that process. But it is also worth noting the statement the Library of Congress released today on the broader public policy concerns of the issue. Clearly the White House and Library of Congress agree that the DMCA exception process is a rigid and imperfect fit for this telecommunications issue, and we want to ensure this particular challenge for mobile competition is solved.

So where do we go from here?

The Obama Administration would support a range of approaches to addressing this issue, including narrow legislative fixes in the telecommunications space that make it clear: neither criminal law nor technological locks should prevent consumers from switching carriers when they are no longer bound by a service agreement or other obligation.

We also believe the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with its responsibility for promoting mobile competition and innovation, has an important role to play here. FCC Chairman Genachowski today voiced his concern about mobile phone unlocking (.pdf), and to complement his efforts, NTIA will be formally engaging with the FCC as it addresses this urgent issue.

Finally, we would encourage mobile providers to consider what steps they as businesses can take to ensure that their customers can fully reap the benefits and features they expect when purchasing their devices.

We look forward to continuing to work with Congress, the wireless and mobile phone industries, and most importantly you — the everyday consumers who stand to benefit from this greater flexibility — to ensure our laws keep pace with changing technology, protect the economic competitiveness that has led to such innovation in this space, and offer consumers the flexibility and freedoms they deserve.

Your move, Library of Congress…

Politics, part one.

      Yesterday’s press conference with President Barak Obama sounded like a parent disciplining his children, and with good reason. Congress haven’t actually written and agreed upon a real budget in years, instead patching up with supplementary short term hold-overs. Almost every hot button issue is deadlocked between the two major parties because compromise has become a dirty word. Civil debate and discussion has soured into ideological pissing contests. It’s no surprise the President has responded to this distasteful situation by speaking like an angry parent telling the fighting, bratty siblings to get along.

The Economy, Fiscal Cliff, Debt Ceiling, Monopoly, Scrooge McDuck, FML
      In the immediate, the debt ceiling needs to be raised to pay our already-approved bills and the fiscal cliff needs to be averted. In the only-slightly-less immediate future, a budget needs to be written. Congress should pay Nate Silver a quality sum of money to oversee this. He seems to be the only person who comments on politics who actually knows his maths. The GOP needs to accept that taxes on the wealthy will go up. There’s no way around this.

Sure, statistics isn’t economics, but I’m pretty sure no one in Congress knows arithmetic, so it can’t hurt.

Because No One Anywhere Is Going To Arm Up And Successfully Overthrow The US.
      What’s being proposed is a multi-faceted approach including an assault weapons ban, a high capacity magazine ban, and closing background check loopholes. Of course, there are segments of the population who will resist any firearm restrictions, hiding behind a Libertarian view of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, and arguing the usual points to death. However, before addressing the main arguing points, I say lets flip the debate around.

      Why should someone have the right to possess an assault rifle or high capacity magazine? Assault rifles are not utilitarian weapons (ie. standard rifle, shotgun, handguns) and have no practical civilian uses beyond what can be accomplished with their lesser counterparts.

Fuck yeah ‘Murrica!

      The Second Amendment was written in a time when the people overthrowing a corrupt government by force was actually a feasible thing (which we’d just done ourselves). This is no longer the case. No US civilian insurgency could succeed, nor would we want to affect change in this forceful manner. (The hypocrisy, as we chide Middle Eastern states for overthrowing their leaders every other year, would be overwhelming.) This renders the Second Amendment an outdated and obsolete notion. What was nobly written more than two centuries ago does not need to be propped up and dragged along like a sad, political version of Weekend At Bernie’s. Times change, people change, the world changes, and the tenets of a nation need to evolve with it all to remain relevant.

      Another key arguing point is the fact that, despite regulation or lack thereof, criminals will always be able to obtain these weapons. They won’t register them. To this, I say that these exampled criminals, the standard gang affiliated or independently immersed, will have known open channels to illegally obtain weapons. Some random nutjob like the Sandy Hook Elementary shooter wouldn’t have that knowledge and people like the Columbine shooters wouldn’t want to risk raising any flags by going that route when they were so easily obtainable in the ways they obtained them. These proposed measures aren’t aimed at the aforementioned criminals; they have their own supposed solutions in process (gang task forces, DEA, ATF, &c.).

      The last argument I’ll cover here is the comparison of statistic to homicides via baseball bats and knives. These attempt to suggest that it is the person using the tool, not the tool itself. This is inherently false. It is about both the person and the tool. To deny a difference in effectiveness between larger capacity clips and higher powered rifles vs. their lesser counterparts is almost as silly as comparing knives and baseball bats to firearms. You can’t mow down a considerable number of people from a distance with a knife or bat. It’s an illogical argument. Restrictions on the ‘tools’ and increased mental health services with lessened stigmas, as well as a progressive direction in culture, will go a long way toward preventing more tragedies like this.

Same-Sex Marriage In Vermont

   Through the democratic process, our elected officials, given power by popular vote of the people, have chosen to override Governor Douglas’ veto against the same sex marriage legislation. Those of you who are bound to post endless rants against this vote are welcome to, as they say, move to Cuba or some other non-democratic state. This is how the United States of America decides things.

   To you happy parties now able to marry, who are undoubtedly going to tout the democratic process for your win today, remember that some of you not too long ago spoke against democracy with the anticipation of losing this vote. ‘The majority should never hold sway against the minority.’ However, now that sentiment must be eaten and swallowed, for the majority is holding sway over the minority in the views of marriage. Had you lost, you would curse the word you today praise.

   The decision today is the will of the people.

WCAX coverage:
Rutland Herald coverage:

Blame Crappy Parents

Earlier, I was reading an article about the drug dealing mini-game to be included in the upcoming Nintendo DS GTA game, Chinatown Wars. The usual backlash against Rockstar Games will ensue. One commenter made the usual argument that children will play this. To her rant, I replied thusly:

Read on…