Netflux: “Happy Endings”

This is the first in what I hope will be a series of posts about noteworthy films that I got from Netflix and watched on a laptop propped up onto my chest!

“Happy Endings” is a movie about people. “People, you say?” I hear you thinking, “who would make a movie about that?” It’s about what happens when people collide, and specifically what touched me about it is that it is about what happens when people collide and it creates more people.

People in the movie have a tendency to get pregnant. Well, just the women, mostly, but the guys (sometimes) play their role. The circumstances surrounding these various and sundry activities are unusual, and the outcomes even moreso. This is not the best thing about the film, though. The best thing about the film is Tom Arnold.

Really.

Well, not really really. I’m a big fan of the work of Maggie Gyllenhaal (I always spell it right on the first try) and Lisa Kudrow is not too shabby, either. But the best part of the film, for me, came when two of the movies unique aspects came together: an earnest Tom Arnold, and words on the screen explaining the past, present, and future situations of the characters.

“You mean I have to read?” you say? Stop interrupting! Yes, there are slides that come onto the screen and they are often funny, insightful, or sweet. They are one of the many touches that give the movie a charm that is rarely found.

I would recommend you queue it up!

I’ve got you, to thank, for this

The hardest times for me are the 1-3 hours nightly Melissa spends on the phone with her new boyfriend. I just have the most terrible urge to mope, and I am very lonely.

My strategies for dealing with this are mainly to distract myself by watching netflixes (always thought it should be netflices!), chatting to old college friends online, and now blogging. Being distracted helps but it is still the most painful part of my day.

Taxation without Representation

If the people you vote for are never elected, are you really being represented in a republic like the one we live in?

Some idealists may claim that politicians represent all of their constituents, even the ones who voted against them, but this claim seems baseless. Representatives hold values that inform their decisions, and if those values are not held by one of their constituents, that constituent is not being given a voice in their own government.

So, could we claim, as the founders did, unfair taxation without representation? Absolutely. Many do, for what little it gets them. I am wary to change this, since it is such a strong claim against the unfairness of our republican system, and I am interested in minimizing government as much as possible. Even so, I intend to present:

A new plan for assuring accurate representation in government.

Firstly, all citizens are entitled to be representatives. They must only announce that they are selecting that option, and they automatically get one vote on any issue — their own.

Secondly, any citizen who is not interested in being a representative can choose to select someone who has announced their intention to serve. That person then gains the votes of anyone who has so selected them.

Thirdly, a citizen can change their representative at any time, without having to wait for an election cycle. The number of votes held by each representative would be recalculated on some regular schedule, such as weekly.

And that’s it! Votes would have to be held on the internet, probably, and there would have to be a mechanism for selecting your representative, probably available online, over the phone, or in person. In fact, this whole system is probably workable only with the most recent technology.

I would predict that a small number of representatives would gain a large number of votes. One person could even gain a majority of the votes, though I think this would be doubtful.

Another interesting development available from this system is instant polls. In fact, polls don’t need to be held since the entire election is one big constant poll. Very cool charts could be developed showing the support for various legislators bouncing up and down, and they could be broken down by region, age group, and other factors.

Does anyone have a nation they are planning to start where I could try this system out?

I have mad skillz

Drawing of Melissa

Melissa and I are taking a drawing class. This is a gesture drawing I did of her which I am a fan of. A gesture drawing is a drawing done in 15 seconds or so and that captures the essence of the subject without really any focus on accuracy.

Sorry for any blurriness, I did my best at getting this image digitized.

Election Obsession?

electoral-vote.com is up and running for the primaries this year.  I know a lot of you like to obsessively follow these things, and their coverage was unsurpassed four years ago in the general election.

Also, the maps are very pretty.

For the record, I am not a fan of the electoral college.  I’ll post later on the way I think a well-designed republican democracy should be run.

Intellectual Development

We all have a story that helps us explain who we are today.

I was recently challenged to specifically identify the parts of my personal history that turned me into the person I am today with the values I hold today. If that’s a little too weighty for you, consider this a getting-to-know-you post.

Here’s a brief overview:

  • I went to a montessori school for 15 years. It was essentially generically liberal, with emphasis on learning by experience, freedom to choose what to work on, having discussions by sitting on the floor in circles, etc.
  • My parents are both Republican-types. So far as I know, they voted for Reagan twice and Bush twice. They approved of the war and are only now (like much of the rest of the country) souring on Bush.
  • I grew up on science and science fiction books. Star Trek, Heinlein, Neal Stephenson, Feynman. Generally a libertarian outlook comes from these books. Note that I have never read Ayn Rand!
  • I spent most of my high school years on IRC. The people there taught me that freedom is a good, especially in relationships. That is, people should be free to associate with each other emotionally, socially, and sexually as long as it’s not causing anyone physical harm. This is when I started thinking of myself as a polyamorist (though I have never put those beliefs into practice).
  • I went to Grinnell College. I was still essentially a generic liberal, albeit with these weird ideas about sexual and emotional freedom. Some of my best friends were anarchists of various stripes. One was a tribalist, and one was a Marxist. I described myself as a “futurist.” We had frequent and vociferous arguments about tactics and results, but tended to agree that people should be able to choose to live freely and simply in societies made up of the people they wanted to associate with.
  • In my final year I met a nihilist who had turned into a staunch Catholic with aspirations of being a monk. We talked about religion and metaphysics almost every day. He showed me that deep convictions cannot prevent one from being rational.
  • In my last few years at Grinnell, I started reading blogs, mainly liberal ones like Atrios, Matthew Yglesias, The Poor Man, etc. Yglesias would often link to some of the more libertarian blogs, and I started reading some of those as well, like Reason Hit and Run, Will Wilkinson, Julian Sanchez, Unqualified Offerings.
  • I still read most of those libertarian blogs, and some of the liberal ones, but I mainly find myself in agreement with the people who believe in both the principle of Non-Initiation of Force and that big corporations are not the end-all and be-all of civilization. Jesse Walker, Kevin Carson, and Jim Henley loom large on this list.

If you have a blog, please share your own personal history.  If you don’t, e-mail it to me or start a BLOG!

How to befriend your soon-to-be-ex

When your marriage is ending, if you and your spouse are both reasonable and compassionate people, you will probably want to try to stay friends, if it is at all possible. If it is going to work, you will want to avoid a few pitfalls. Here are the tips that I have discovered so far going through this process myself:

  1. Don’t sulk. If you feel the need to sulk, go do something else to distract yourself. Or maybe you could start a blog!
  2. Offer to listen. They are no doubt feeling some strong emotions and might want to talk about them.
  3. Don’t talk about sex. Your ex will be turned off by it and think you are trying to get them interested when they are not.
  4. Be honest. Don’t tell them something just because you think they want to hear it. A real friend is not afraid to tell the truth.
  5. Don’t press them to talk if they are not ready. Sometimes people need time to process what is happening to them. They will talk to you when they are ready.
  6. Offer to do new things with them. Invite them to join you in taking a class or learn a new skill. These kinds of things won’t remind them of your old married life and will make them see you in the new light you want them to.
  7. Don’t spy on them. It will make them paranoid and that’s the last thing you want. The comfort level is what is really important.
  8. Ask for help if you need it. Most people are genuinely interested in helping the people they care about, and it’s a way to put yourself out there without being offensive.

I am still in the process of developing some of these guidelines, if you want to give me any tips please leave a comment! I’m not even sure these will work, this is just what I’ve discovered over the past few weeks.