Thursday, March 15, 2007

Why 12 Steps Make Me Cranky

There was an article today on about a man who was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment today for a rape he committed in 1984. The rape occurred in Virginia which has no statute of limitations on felony prosecutions. The main piece of evidence against him? His letter he wrote in 2005 confessing/apologizing to the victim as step 9 of his alcohol treatment program. Apparently he wrote her a letter, which led to an email exchange in which he stated "I want to make clear that I'm not intentionally minimizing the fact of having raped you. I did." Step 9 involves making amends to those you have harmed, although not when doing so would cause further harm. And that, I guess is the rub, I am not sure as a group I think people recovering from an addiction are in a particularly good place to make that determination. This guy is a great example. He apparently thought that making contact out of nowhere with the woman he raped over twenty years ago would not be harmful to her. According to the article she has since forgiven him (although she did support the prosecution). But forgiving him and wanting the contact in the first place are not the same thing. I am glad that he is taking accountability for his actions and that from the account he has gone on to help others, but I guess I agree with the prosecutor that the letter was a selfish act, this was about his own need for absolution not about her or her feelings or needs. I am not sure what the right answer is for a rapist who sincerely wants to make amends but I don't think unsolicited contact with the person they victimized is the answer.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Confession, part gizillion and two

In case my Obama Myspace confession wasn't enough to solidly cement my case for nerd of the year. I just took over the management of a Minnesota Fantasy Legislature Team - The Royal Flush. A team just barely out of last place, and recently the subject of an unflattering comparison to the T-Wolves. So my goal is to stay out of last place - ambitious I know. The system based on the various fantasy sports leagues allows managers to "draft" 6 legislators, at least 2 in each party and assigns points for bills filed, heard in committee, passed, etc. Nerd Factor? Incredibly High!!! Although I think the fact that I have been following the commissioner's blog incessantly without a team might be even worse ;)

I have been following a lot of the public safety and social policy bills but I totally ignore all the other committees. So my plan is to use this league as a tool to learn more about the boring stuff and the legislators who love it.

Any draft suggestions?

Clown Appeal

I was walking to lunch today through the downtown Minneapolis skyway and passed a man dressed as a clown making balloon animals in front of Beyond Juice. There are no children in the skyway. He was hired as a marketing gimick to appeal to adults. All the adults I know think clowns are at best creapy if not terrifying. Who thought that was a good idea?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Good in Theory...Dangerous in Practice

In Washington State, the state's supreme court in Andersen v. King County (July 2006) found a “legitimate state interest” allowing the Legislature to limit marriage to those couples able to have and raise children together. Because of this “legitimate state interest,” the court found that it is permissible to bar same-sex couples from legal marriage. In response, the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance is sponsoring a ballot initiative to hold the Legislature to its word by making procreation required in marriage, prohibit divorce/separation when there are children, and make the act of having a child together the legal equivalent of a marriage ceremony.

Here is the text of Initiative 957

If passed by Washington voters, the Defense of Marriage Initiative would:

* add the phrase, “who are capable of having children with one another” to the legal definition of marriage;
* require that couples married in Washington file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage automatically annulled;
* require that couples married out of state file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage classed as “unrecognized;”
* establish a process for filing proof of procreation; and
* make it a criminal act for people in an unrecognized marriage to receive marriage benefits.

In explanation, The Alliance offers the following:
Absurd? Very. But there is a rational basis for this absurdity. By floating the initiatives, we hope to prompt discussion about the many misguided assumptions which make up the Andersen ruling. By getting the initiatives passed, we hope the Supreme Court will strike them down as unconstitutional and thus weaken Andersen itself. And at the very least, it should be good fun to see the social conservatives who have long screamed that marriage exists for the sole purpose of procreation be forced to choke on their own rhetoric.

I get where they are coming from and I sympathize (both with the cause and the slightly sarcastic tone to the campaign) but I am not sure that this is effective or just alienating. I definitely wouldn't expect this tactic to sway diehard homophobes (and I doubt they do either). Maybe it will prompt social conservatives and moderates who are on the fence about gay marriage to think about what these DOMA laws are really saying and how ridiculous the arguments are, but I think it is just as likely if not more likely that the conservative groups will be able to spin this as just more evidence of the gays attacking marriage and destroying our way of life.

I think I don't have enough faith in the level of public discourse in our society for us to have this conversation in a way that this initiative would be effective, maybe I am cynical but it seems all Fox News and Bumperstickers and i don't think irony plays well there. I guess (can you tell I am thinking this through as I write) this initiative is in the vein of The Colbert Report but again I think that show is funny for liberals but doesn't do much to shift conservative sentiment.

What do you think? Is the a good idea, bad idea, irrelevant?

-A. Monkey

Hmmm...Better than a lot of other options

You Are Most Like John F. Kennedy

You live a fairy tale life that most people envy.
And while you may have a few dark secrets, few people know them.

Ohhh yeah bring on the envy!!!

-A. Monkey

Friday, February 09, 2007


It's trivia weekend - 50 hours of nerdy nerdy fun. Be prepared for late night random calls!!!

-A. Monkey

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Shrub talks to/at the DNC Winter Meeting

Bush is on TV right now giving an address to the DNC Winter Meeting. He was invited and I guess he gets points for showing up. The tone is weird, he is clearly trying to walk a line between sticking to his policies/talking points while making conciliatory efforts towards the new majority party. It is awkward but he is getting some applause especially on healthcare for all and comprehensive immigration reform. The mention of no child left behind didn't win him any friends, though. Wow he just mentioned Darfur, apparently we are going to stay focused on it. It took him two-thirds of the way through the speech to even mention Iraq (interesting in part because CNN was displaying a split screen with the live speech and updates on a major bus bombing in Baghdad with a rising death toll, currently at 102 and 215 injured) The speech was a little wattered-down state of the uniony not much new but it is going to be followed by a private Q & A which might be more critical/interesting.

My favorite line was when he stuttered out something along the lines of I hope you don't believe that I think if you don't agree with me then you are not a patriot, I know people think that but it is just not true Seriously??? that has basically been the battle cry of the neocons since 9/11 - how many did he call the Democrats the party of cut and run this past election cycle alone? How many critics of the war have been compared to terrorists, been accused of hating america, freedom, etc.

-A. Monkey

Friday, February 02, 2007

I am a Nerd...Total, Total Nerd

Not only did I ask Barack Obama to be my friend on myspace, I made him one of my top friends. NERD!!!! Seriously though I have totally drank the kool-aid, having read Dreams from My Father and Audacity of Hope over Christmas I am really excited about him. I am definitely more liberal than Obama but what totally won me over is that when he says things I don't agree I end up respecting him more...that never happens, seriously for the most part my knee jerk reaction tends to be: you disagree with me, well you're an idiot (one of my more quality attributes, I know). I think his ability to work with people on the issues without using strawmen or dehumanizing character attacks will serve to begin to mend the damage wrought by the US (both abroad and at home) in the past 6 years. I have no idea if he can win either in November or in the primaries but I do know that when and if I get my opportunity to vote for him, I will be doing just that - voting FOR him and not just against his competition which will be fan-frickin-tastic!

Today is the start of the DNC Winter Meeting and Barack got the chance along with Hillary, Dennis Kucinich, Chris Dodd and John Edwards to pitch his candidacy. Live news coverage got pre-empted by the Florida disaster coverage but from the clips he and John Edwards both sounded great! Hmmm, maybe John will be my friend too, just not one of my top friends ;)

-A. Monkey

as soon as I posted this I heard Tucker Carlson talk about how Rigoberta Menchu was a total fraud and undeserving of her Nobel Peace Prize unlike, wait for it... Rush Limbaugh. My immediate response was this guy oughta be shot - see my tendencies to evil knee jerk reactions. And just to be clear - NO ONE SHOULD SHOOT TUCKER CARLSON - we should just all agree he is a pompous ass ;)

Sooooo.... What to Do With this Blog???

I initially started writing this blog in an attempt to stay in touch with family and friends while traveling and also to have some kind of record of this crazy journey into saving the world. Lately it seems though that as saving the world has evolved into saving the world one meeting at a time - which is still important and satisfying but doesn't lend easily to blogging. Sooo do I let the blog stay in Eric's Moribund Blog category, do I start writing about my exciting travels from St. Paul to Minneapolis to (wait for it....) St. Paul, or do I do something different with it? (this is a rhetorical question, I am not sure I want to see how many people would vote for activist monkey going quietly into the dying of the light, probably signaled mostly by a deafening silence). I read blogs, a lot, too much, seriously I would have to work at home waaaay less if blogs didn't exist. The ones I read are primarily feminist or political or both and this is what I am probably the most likely to write about (I thought about a blog about motherhood but all I have is a plant and seriously if I exposed my plant cruelty and neglect to the WWW the botany police would be at my door before long). The problem is that there are a million zillion blogs by smart dedicated bloggers so I am not sure if there is a missing voice or if there is, that it is mine... but I guess the reality is that I love this stuff and I am reading about it and talking about it all the damn time anyway so why not. Besides, one positive side of being home more is being able to get more involved in what is going on here both through politics and through my community and with the '08 elections already totally exciting both nationally and specifically here in Minnesota so welcome to the home for my ramblings!

-A. Monkey