The Delicate Deception of Word Choice

There has been a lot of stories in the media lately concerning marriage equality and businesses that assert the right to withholding services to participants of same-sex weddings. In almost every case a very sly bit of slight-of-hand is used in these stories that subtly bias the piece.

Word choice is paramount in writing, Mark Twain advised aspiring writers to always use the precise word, noting that there is a world of difference between ‘lightning and lightning bug.’ A similar but I suspect quite deliberate word substitution going on in many of these pieces. Consider the following sentence:

The baker has strong religious convictions.

That’s a clear, declarative statement that is perfectly logical. Now let’s change one word:

The bakery has strong religious convictions.

Huh? How does a bakery have religious convictions, strongly held or otherwise. A bakery is a business, a company, a baker is a person and the two are not the same.

What is going on is that the person who owns the bakery is asserting that his business has the same religious beliefs as a person does and the owner is doing it to retain the option of    discriminating who is served and under what conditions.

I assure that this concept that the baker and the bakery are one and the same is purely a marriage of convenience. Let that bakery produce a product that poisons a wedding party and you will swiftly find that the baker’s assets are separate and protected from the bakery’s assets.



Movie Marathon

So for my birthday I got the Universal Classic Horror Collection on Blu-Ray. This Sunday I am going to have a mini marathon of three films. The question is which three?

Here is what is in the collection:



The Invisible Man

Bride of Frankenstein

The Mummy

Creature from the Black Lagoon

Phantom of the Opera (1942)

The Wolf-Man


Suggestions as to which three should be selected?


The P’s of Politics

There is a famous saying that ‘politics is the art of the possible.’ As far as it goes that is true, but there are additional P’s to couple with politics, Principle and Priorities and it is these secondary P’s that are often in conflict and often denied for their importance.

Principle is not dogma. Dogma is inflexible. Dogma does not admit the half-loaf and demand only total victory. Dogma demands total fealty. Principle is a guidepost, a map, not a straight jacket.

Priority is about what matters more. If we are being mature about our politics and realistic about our expectations, then priority becomes important and presents us with the most difficult decisions.

For example I support gun rights and I support marriage equality, it is quite rare to find an acceptable candidate that holds both of those positions. Therefore when looking at candidates I end up, via my vote, prioritizing one over the other. In practice it tends to be marriage equality, while I support gun rights I must be honest that it is a secondary cause and that the fight there has to wait while a more important battle is waged.

In my experience most people have the conflicting priorities, but they rarely are honest with themselves in their hierarchy. In my positions they would proclaim themselves both for gun right and marriage equality, claiming the honorable mantle of both camps while ignoring the ground facts of their actual support.



30 day experiment

Some years ago I picked a bad habit.

Snacking at work.

I don’t mindlessly eat at home, but at work I cant seem to break this accursed habit of getting junk from a vending machine and eating way too much of it. My small breakfast hasn’t made me this big, it’s not my lunch of a simple salad, and it’s not my sweetie-wifes tasty and calorically sensible dinners. Most of my trouble come from this workday eating, eating when I’m never even hungry.

So here’s my 30 day experiment to break the habit.

No money on me at work.

none. No cash, no coins, no cards. It all stays home. Remove the ability to buy the god damn stuff and I won’t eat it.

I’m going to try this from tomorrow thru May 14th. Then we’ll see what sort of shape the habit is in.




Do Not Put Your Faith in Facebook Memes

This will be quick but I have to get it off my chest.

You CAN NOT trust the things you read on partisan internet memes. This was brought to my attention when on my Facebook feed someone shared a meme about Texas Senator Ted Cruz. (I do not like Senator Cruz. In my opinion he is a dangerous disingenuous demagogue.) The member attributed the following quote to his speech announcing his candidacy for president.

“There is no room for Atheists or gays in my America.”

The quote is clearly a fabrication. Had the man been so stupid as to have uttered those words at his Liberty University announcement the new cycle would have exploded. You would not learn about such a thing from a random Facebook posting. (To be sure I went to the text of the speech and indeed he said nothing of the sort.)

It is nearly certain that I would never vote for this man. (See my opinion statement above.) However lies and hyperbole are crappy tools for persuasion. The people passing the image around are only making their own stands less secure for if you need lies to support your arguments how strong can it be?



A quite pleasant day

I throughly enjoyed my lazy, quiet Sunday.

I slept in quite late, not rising until 9:00 am. By mid-morning my sweetie-wife and I were in Balboa Park. The sun shone bright and warm, the air was crisp and clear, musicians filled the air in hopes of generous tips, and we even we buzzed by a red-tailed hawk that played in the thermals above Laurel St bridge. I succeeded in clocking 3 miles of walking before we retired for lunch.

We ate in a lovely open air restaurant, The Station Tavern, with a nice window seat, the breeze keeping us cool and comfortable. The afternoon we passed with games where we each had turns at victory and defeat.

In the evening we caught up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and then after she retired for the night I discovered an original HBO film, Conspiracy, that held my attention with pure dialogue and performance. (Watch closely and you’ll see Tom Hiddleston in a non-speaking bit part.)



Barry Manilow Concert 04/11/2015

I have been a fan of Manilow’s songs and singing since I was a teenager in the 1970s, however I have never had the opportunity to attend a concert until this evening. He is one his final concert tour, though it looks like he may still play in residence at Las Vegas and I am quite happy that I was able to catch this show in San Diego.

For someone whose career started in the mid 70’s as a pop singer his popularity remains surprisingly high. I saw people as young as ten or twelve in the audience. And from the photo you can see that this attendance was not minimal.IMG_0439

I was very happy to hear that his voice is still in excellent shape. Despite being a man 20 years my senior I have no doubt that his lung power far exceeds mine. He sang the songs with power, control, and emotion. He is a man who either loves performing or is a far better actor than his limited screen appearances would have indicated. He brought the audience to their feet several times with his infection energy and passion for his art. My seat was quite good, though I was unprepared for just how loud it was going to be.

I tried to take a few photos but with my iPhone skills the images are nearly all blurred beyond recognition. Here is the most acceptable of the lot.


He sang all the hits that I have known so well and that reside on my iPhone to this day. These are songs that still touch me, move me, and speak to me.

I did experience once curious and unexpected emotional reaction to the performance. As I sat there watching a man in his 70s talk about his career, sing about love, loss, and hope, letting us know that he always believes in hope, I thought about the uncertainty I am currently experiencing in my own artistic attempts. Now word yet from the agency, but during the concert I felt no anxiety over it. This was one book, one agency, one point in time. There will be more books. There will be more attempts. In that I found a measure of peace. So I had a very good night, a lot of fun, and a new emotional state. Not bad.




Quick Impression Apple TV

I have been a fan of streaming over traditional cable for sometime. (The last time I had cable TV was 2012 for a few weeks.) I prefer the control streaming and discs give me over what and when I watch. This week because my sweetie-wife and I didn’t want to delay in out Game of Thrones fix I picked up an Apple TV and subscribe to HBO Now.

The Verdict?

I heartily approve of the Apple TV. The onyl thing that would improve it would be the addition of Amazon Prime streaming, otherwise I have found no flaws and had no complaints.

It’s easy to set up. Easy to use, and I have a ton of options. This is working out so much better than my previous streaming device – an Xbox 360. Integrating with iMac and other Apple devices is just a bonus, but it’s really nice being able to stream my iTunes content to my living. Watching Doctor Who has just gotten loads easier.



A phrase I nearly always distrust

‘We’ve got to take back …”

“Our Country”

“Our Awards”

“Our Government”

I’ve heard this uttered on the left and on the right. I’ve heard this uttered for deadly serious things like the country as a whole and less serious things like SF’s award The Hugo. Wherever I hear this I tend to cringe. The unspoken – but only just barely unspoken – underlying assumption is one of ownership and possession. The subject of the ‘take back’ it the rightful property of of those proclaiming the mission. An ownership that is exclusionary to a segment or population.

Sorry, that’s just not freaking true. It wasn’t ‘your’ country. It wasn’t ‘your’ award. It wasn’t ‘your’ thingie. Especially with something like our nation or our government it is ours, collective. You know, our government, our nation, our conventions, they are always changing. Not always in ways you like. Not always in ways I like, but it always happens and always will.

Reverse is a suitable gear only for automobiles.