The bike is dead. Long live the bike!

As I’m writing this I should have been on my way across Ohio or into Michigan on my motorcycle on the way to Madison for my daughter’s graduation, to be followed by a blast across the Dakotas and Montana to Oregon to visit friends then into California then to Utah to visit family.

Instead, I’m packing for an airplane trip. To Madison, thankfully, but not using the mode of transportation that I had intended.

So what happened? As I wrote a few weeks ago I had an “incident” with the bike which required some repairs. I made the fixes, but after getting the bike back on the road the brakes started giving me troubles. The ABS on this BMW R1150RT have been occasionally acting up over the past few years, and I certainly want operational brakes before a cross country trip. So I loaded the bike into the back of the truck (a task in and of itself) and drove to the dealer 45 minutes away. Of course by the time I unloaded the bike there and had the service writer take a look the brakes worked perfectly. Load back up and go back home.

I haven’t had much time this spring to ride due to moving and business travel. The next time I had to ride was a week or so later, when I went out for a couple hundred miles. You guessed it, quite a ways from home the brakes started acting funny, with the warning light coming on and the rear brakes disappearing. I made it home okay on the front brake, and then the next day after checking the bike both brakes were fine. As my planned cross country trip was two weeks away I thought it best to get the bike into the dealer, so rode the bike to the dealer with C following me in the car. Halfway there the rear brake died again, and about five miles from the dealer the front died as well. No brakes. I *carefully* rode the rest of the way without incident  thanks to the wonders of engine braking. Given that it’s springtime, the busiest time of year for motorcycle service, and only having a single BMW tech on staff (really?), the dealer (Montgomeryville Cycle) couldn’t even look at the bike for two weeks, and then if any parts were needed another few days would be added.

Big trip cancelled. I couldn’t be sure that the bike would be completed in time, and I couldn’t miss my daughter’s graduation, so had to get an airplane ticket instead.

Well, they finally got around to looking at the bike last week. They said it was just a loose relay wire, which they charged $125 to fix. C drove me to Montgomeryville on Saturday to get the bike. Halfway home the brakes disappeared again. Good quality work, those guys at MCC; highly recommended. Right.

I’d been thinking the last few weeks that it’s just time for a new bike. The BMW is eight years old with 66k miles on it, and despite BMW’s reputation for reliability and durability I’ve experienced nothing of the sort. The last three years have been a constant struggle to keep the bike running and on the road, and even before then the maintenance costs were not anything to be pleased with. After researching a number of different bikes (requirements: sport touring, upright riding position, lower maintenance costs, availability of accessories, dealer not too far away) I settled on a Triumph Tiger 1050.

I’ve been lusting after a Ducati Multistrada for the past year or so, but the high cost ($20k) was more than I can afford, and my experience with the BMW has shown me to distrust high tech on motorcycles — too many electronic features just provide more things to go expensively wrong. Cost is an important issue as I don’t make nearly as much as I did when I bought the Beemer eight years ago.So, off I go to the Triumph dealer (Hermy’s) who had a 2010 Tiger demo with a couple thousand miles on the clock, at a good price. Given the condition of my BMW (high miles, funky brakes, and maintenance items that I wasn’t aware were supposed to have been done, so hadn’t) they couldn’t give me more than, essentially, salvage value for the bike. But at this point my love-hate relationship with the Beemer has swung too far to one side. It’s time to send it away.

Other than the maintenance issues and expense the RT has been a great bike; the riding position was perfect for me and the combination sport and touring capabilities has made it a great all-round performer. I’ve taken it on a couple of long cross country rides (though I never got to the left coast), a number of Iron Butt rides, multiple trips up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway — and C’s first ride on a motorcycle. I’ve lost and replaced a Kermit riding buddy, made some great friends in a motorcycle club in Ithaca, and explored a great deal of the United States. I’ve made lots of good memories on that bike.
BMW at the Grand Canyon

I hope that the new Tiger 1050 will provide the same good experiences. I was quite impressed with the test ride. The bike is lighter by about a hundred pounds and has about 25 more horsepower than the BMW, so is much quicker. Like the BMW it’s going to take a bit of time and expense to get set up right; given my height I need to lower the pegs, I’ll want to upgrade the seat, and I need to add additional lights for safety, etc.

The big ride isn’t back on, yet. I still need to do my cross country ride; I still have a few states that I haven’t ridden in. I had hoped to ride in all the lower 48 on the BMW but that’s not going to happen. I’ll have to pick up the rest on the Tiger. I don’t really want to ride mid summer when the temperatures are hot, and while fall would be best for the weather I’m tied up with three weeks of business travel in September. I’ve got vacation time available but not sure when I can fit this trip into the calendar. And between having to buy a new bike and other expenses I’m not sure that I can afford the trip. But it’s gonna happen somehow, sometime.

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On the road again

A year and a half ago I wrote about riding the motorcycle all winter instead of putting it away. A few weeks ago when I mentioned riding someone made the comment that it was probably time to get the bike out for the year. Given how mild the winter has been I was a bit puzzled: who wouldn’t be riding all winter long with this kind of weather? Who was stupid enough to have put the bike away?

Strangely, now that it’s spring I haven’t been on the bike much at all. I rode all through December and January, but then in February I had three straight weeks of business travel (France, Florida, Ireland), then upon returning C. and I had to start packing as we had to move house. Then after the move we’ve been unpacking and settling in, and I would feel guilty about going out and having fun for a day while there’s work to do at home.

A couple of weekends ago I took the BMW to the dealer for an oil change and new tire. I’m planning a long ride next month (more on that in a bit) and the rear tire was pretty well used up. After a short wait for the repair I rode the bike home in the rain, carefully, as new tires need a hundred miles or so of wear to get scuffed up and have full traction.

The next Sunday morning I headed out early to meet up for a ride with a club that I sometimes ride with. Just a few blocks from home, making a right hand turn from a stop light I slid and went down; the rear wheel had gone out from under me. I had forgotten that I had no traction on a new tire on a cold morning. Fortunately there was no traffic or I would have hit a car as I slid across a couple lanes of traffic. I tore my jacket and pants a bit, and the brake lever and foot peg were broken off. I got the bike back up, stood in the center of the road for a minute to collect my thoughts and some broken bits, then rode the disabled bikes the few blocks home.

The repairs won’t be difficult, but will cost several dollars. I had to glue some cracked body work, and have to replace the brake lever and the plate that the foot peg attaches to. BMW parts are not the cheapest, but at least the factory keeps parts for old bikes in stock. I’ll pick them up today and get them installed, and should be able to get out on the bike this weekend if the weather cooperates.

I’m anxious to get on the road again, not having ridden for a few months, because I have a big ride planned for May, and I don’t want to start a ride of this length without having put a few miles on my butt. Just as for any other long-duration activity one needs to build up some endurance.

My daughter graduates from law school in Wisconsin in four weeks, and rather than fly out I thought I’d ride the motorcycle. Since that would put me almost half way across the country I thought that I’d take a couple of weeks and turn this into a cross country ride and get to the Pacific Ocean, something I haven’t done on the motorcycle yet. I’ll go across the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, then down into Northern California then across Nevada into Utah, a short stop to visit family, then home from there. As an added bonus, I can pick up the last few states that I haven’t ridden in; by the time I get home I will have ridden in all 48 lower states. My last long ride was a few years ago, so I’m really looking forward to this one. I need a vacation, and even though I can’t really afford it C. is urging me to go.

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So many hobbies, so little ____

Recognizing that I’m coming up on the two year anniversary of this blog, and not having written anything for a while I thought that I should provide on update on the world of the guy who’s interested in too many things.

C. and I have recently moved. Our previous landlord got tired of maintaining the house (as if they had done any at all…) so decided to sell the place. While they were kind enough to give us first dibs on buying, we didn’t really like the place and were thinking of moving soon anyway. Plus we’re a long ways from being able to afford to buy anything right now.

So we’ve moved into a new place, and while it’s been recently remodeled it’s not any bigger than the last house. I finally get a room to myself as an office, though, as we decided that we don’t have visitors often enough to warrant setting aside one room just as a guest bedroom. As a result I’ve got a bit more space for my activities, but still not enough. By the time I squeeze in my roll-top desk, some bookcases, the stereo, a work table, and “Chairy”, my Lay-Z-Boy recliner reading chair, the room’s pretty full.

Usually when I talk about my too-many hobbies it’s a case of “so many hobbies, so little time/money”. But the restriction also includes space.

I had been intending to dig out my bookbinding equipment and get reacquainted with that hobby after having had everything packed away for the past seven years. But I need more space. Bookbinding requires a workbench, storage space for paper, boards, and other supplies, and a place for large tools like a shear (large paper cutter) and various presses. It really needs its own room. If Chairy and the bookcases could go in the living room I’d probably be okay, but that room’s full too.

I had recently dug my ham radios out of storage after a couple of years of being off the air. I started this hobby when I lived in Ithaca; the town had a very active club that did a lot of community service activities, and as I was living alone at the time it was a great way to get out and socialize with a great group of guys. In Ithaca I also had lots and lots of room for antennas. Our new place, not so much. The roof is just beyond reach of my ladder, and it’s pretty steep too, so I’m reluctant to get on top of the house to install the 2 meter and HF antennas. The lot size is too small to string a wire for anything beyond 20 meters. Other than an antenna it would work, as the radios themselves don’t take too much space in the corner of my office, but lacking an antenna the radio’s not much use.

One thing that I do have now is a two car garage. In the previous house we had a really nice basement, but only a single car garage which, after lawnmower, snow blower, bicycles, yard tools, and motorcycles was pretty full. Now with double the space I might have enough room to do something.

(I’ve also got to store some furniture in the garage, though. In the previous house we had some furniture stored in the basement, but this won’t fit now because of the narrow stairs going down to the new basement. We had also intended to put some pieces upstairs here, including some bookcases, but they wouldn’t fit up the stairs that turn halfway up. Did I mention that C loves older houses?)

So I have most of a garage, minus the space to store furniture. I’m obviously going to build a workbench very first thing – a favorite project I learned from my Dad, a basic design constructed of 2×4’s and plywood, with a pegboard for my tools. I’ve built a few of these, including a super deluxe model at the bike shop. You really can’t do projects of any sort without a good workspace and easy access to your tools.

Beyond that, and some shelves and hooks for storing tools and boxes of stuff, I’ve got a bit of room to work with. What should I do with it? Try my hand at bicycle frame building again, perhaps, or rebuilding/restoring an old motorcycle?

Hmm…

Posted in bicycles, bookbinding, ham radio, motorcycles, tools | Leave a comment

So Many Books, So Little Time (2011 edition)

I reported a year ago the list of the books I had read during 2010. I’ll do the same again for 2011 in hopes of turning this into a habit. The key to developing a habit, or so I’m told, is to do it seven (or some other number) times, but I’m not sure how well that works with something that’s done only on an annual basis.

I’ve kept roughly the same book count as last year, mid thirties, while continuing my other reading. Every week C and I read the New York Time on the weekends, and Time and New Yorker magazines. I also read a half dozen monthly magazines, mostly motorcycle related, and the occasional magazine I pick up in an airport. And I spend too much time reading blogs and other web content. Mid summer I spent a lot of time reading the PMBOK® Guide to study for a project management certification, and lately I’ve been reading some ham radio manuals. I make all of this possible by hardly ever watching TV; at least four or five evenings a week are wholly spent reading.

Several months ago I bought myself a Kindle, mostly for the purpose of reading while traveling and while on airplanes where carrying multiple books (I’m usually reading three or four at any one time) is impractical. I previously had a Nook but was terribly disappointed with its slow performance and selection of books; the later Kindle has worked out quite well. But I always have to make the decision of whether to buy a physical copy or an electronic copy of a new book. My rule has evolved into buying an e-book for just plain ol’ reading, and physical copies for books I intend to read again later — or especially one that requires referencing or a lot of flipping back and forth or underlining. I had started one book (White’s History, below) in electronic form, and tried using the highlighting function, but after making just a few notes, and attempting to go back to check something previously read, I decided that this was a book that demanded a physical copy.

Since I’ve been lusting after an Apple iPad for the past couple of years my wonderful wife C bought me one for Christmas last week. And of course there’a a Kindle app I can use to read my Kindle books on this device. So while I still have the same rule for whether to buy an e-book or a p-book, I now have the additional decision of which device to carry with me. It’s undoubtedly going to be the iPad, as there’s lots of other things that it can do, and while the Kindle e-ink screen is a bit easier on the eyes I haven’t been bothered by the hundreds of pages that I’ve read on the iPad so far. So I may have an extra, unused Kindle gathering dust soon.

As was the case last year I’ve read a lot of Hitchens (RIP, Christopher; I will miss you), and I started the year by reading quite a bit of Neal Gaiman. A business trip to Florence and a visit to the Galileo Museum has inspired me to read some works by the great scientist as well as accounts of the conflict of church and science, and I’ve recently been reading some Waugh, which while I don’t read a lot of novels I’m greatly enjoying.

As far as my favourites for the year, I’ll select The Information by James Gleick, Arguably by Hitchens, History of the Warfare of Science and Theology by White, and finally two by Gaiman, Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett and featuring the unforgettable image of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse now riding motorcycles) and American Gods (I know that Mr. Wednesday was supposed to be Scandinavian, but throughout the book I pictured him as Morgan Freeman).

And finally (drum roll, please) on to the list:

  • Good Omens – Gaiman, Pratchett
  • Packing for Mars – Roach
  • American Gods – Gaiman
  • Diary of Samuel Pepys (Modern Library Abridgement)
  • Samuel Pepys: The Unequaled Self – Tomalin
  • Anansi Boys – Gaiman
  • Moby Dick – Melville
  • Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch – Miller
  • A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy – Irvine
  • Neverwhere – Gaiman
  • Fragile Things – Gaiman
  • The Information – Gleick
  • Diary of Samuel Pepys (unabridged), vol.1 1660
  • Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia – Korda
  • The Infinities of Lists – Eco
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel – Diamond
  • The Friar and the Cipher – Goldstone
  • The Quotable Hitchens – Hitchens
  • The Color of Magic – Pratchett
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – Twain
  • Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide (5 novels) – Adams
  • The Believing Brain – Shermer
  • Mrs. Fry’s Diary – Fry
  • This is Not the End of the Book – Eco, Carriere
  • Driven to Distraction – Clarkson
  • Arguably – Hitchens
  • Moab is My Washpot – Fry
  • History of the Warfare of Science and Theology in Christendom (vol 1) – White
  • Scoop – Waugh
  • Collected Writings of Galileo
  • Jeeves Collection – Wodehouse
  • Brideshead Revisited – Waugh
  • Complete Stories – Waugh

Happy reading for 2012!!

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What a year it’s been

Everyone else seems to have a year-end list or wrap up or summary, so why not me? I usually don’t spend much time dwelling on a year gone by, and I never make New Year’s resolutions. But somehow this past year demands some retrospection. I believe that decades from now 2011 will be looked back upon as a watershed year, one of those years when serious things happened that changed the world.

Just off the top of my head:

  • The Arab Spring revolts toppled a number of dictators, with more to come, and other revolts and protests occurred worldwide as ordinary people started to express their displeasure at the way things are going, whether politically or economically. In the weeks before Time magazine named their Person of the Year I had already decided that the protester should be so honored, and apparently the magazine’s editors agreed.
  • In the United States the protests are centered around the increasing division between rich and poor. The Occupy Wall Street protesters are complaining about this inequality and the political power of the 1%. The deregulation of the banking industry, bought and paid for, allowed the banks to do whatever they pleased, privatizing profits while socializing risk. Yes, a certain amount of responsibility lies with people who borrowed more for housing than they could afford, but they were trusting the banks who were willing to give them the money.
  • The partisan divide in Congress gets worse and worse. The far right has prevented any sort of progress in dealing with the nation’s problems, saying no to any action, especially anything that would raise taxes on the rich. Let the poor pay for it.
  • I see a continued diminishing of our civil liberties. The over reactive Patriot Act following 9/11 has been renewed, and additional measures continue to be added that deprive citizens of due process.
  • There’s been an unusually large number of natural disasters this year. There was an earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and then there were a huge number of weather-related events that could be blamed on global warming: hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts. I’m beginning to see cracks in the arguments of the deniers, though; where previously they denied that the earth is warming they are starting to accept the facts — but are continuing to question causation.
  • I don’t know if other people are noticing, but I see an increase in the battle between religion and secularism in our country. Non believers are increasingly coming out of the closet and making their voices heard, demanding the constitutionally granted separation of church and state, with the churches now pushing back and demanding their “rights” — as if they haven’t been in control for the past couple of thousand years. I have no problem with people having their personal beliefs, but please leave me out of it. Don’t preach your beliefs in public – especially in our schools, and don’t codify your beliefs into laws that I have to obey. The courts seem to be doing a pretty good job of enforcing the Establishment Clause, but somebody has to bring suit for each instance, and there’s a awful lot of them.
  • The race for the GOP presidential nomination, now entering its third year, is a circus. A field of a dozen or so has been whittled down to half that number, with the last few months being a game of Whack A Mole, one candidate popping up and topping the polls only to be quickly exposed as a clown. There’s only two or three viable candidates at this point, and the good citizens of Iowa and New Hampshire are given the right to make the decision of who we get to vote for ten months from now.

As I look through this list I see a common theme: extremes. Extreme left and right in politics, extreme rich and poor. Extreme weather. What we need is a bit more moderation, a bit more effort to understand one another, a bit more tolerance. But hasn’t that been the case for thousands of years? I read a lot of history, and, as the saying goes, “the more things change the more they stay the same”. The details may differ but the basic theme is the same.

For example: I’ve been reading the book History of the Warfare of Science and Theology in Christendom by Andrew White, co-founder and first president of Cornell University. He details the development of science over the centuries and how the Christian church has continually fought it, a prime example being the silencing of Galileo. The church’s position over two millennia has been first, that there is no need to study the earth and skies because the end of the world is coming soon so that knowledge will come to naught and we should be focusing on saving our souls instead; and second, that all knowledge and wisdom is found in the Bible, so there is no need for independent investigation and experimentation. Using multiple examples, White shows the stages that the church has gone through, from demonizing and silencing the discoverer of new science, fighting the science, explaining away then gradually accepting the proofs, and then finally adopting the science and claiming it as their own once the evidence is shown irrefutable.

White’s book, published in 1896, demonstrates to us how little things have changed. Here we are 115 years later, seeing the same battles between science and religion. Creationism is being taught in public schools under the name of “intelligent design”. Faced with overwhelming evidence supporting evolution, believers have gone from denial to co-opting the science and putting a theological stamp on it.

On a personal note, much has happened this year as well. I got married to C, and we turned a business trip I had to Florence, Italy into a bit of a mini honeymoon. I was traveling a lot for business during the late summer and into the fall, some times for three weeks straight. My son came to live with us for the summer, and we had all of our children with us for Christmas. We’re still feeling the effects of the poor economy; we both lost our jobs a few years ago and while I’ve been working the past two years it’s at a salary equivalent to where I was 20 years ago, plus we’re having to start over on retirement savings at age 50+. But we have a cozy little home and enough food to eat, so we’re fortunate.

I’m continuing with too many hobbies but am hindered by restrictions on money and space. As I’ve done every year my books-read tally is pretty good: this year only 32, but some of them were pretty big. I ride my motorcycles as often as I can, though I haven’t had the time or money for any long trips; I’m hoping to ride cross country next year. C and I rode our bicycles a bit more than the previous year: we found a bike path that we enjoy, though it requires loading the bikes in the truck and driving twenty minutes. And, in search of a cold-weather hobby that doesn’t take up much space in the house I dug my ham radios out of the basement and set them up again; a new antenna should get me on the air again.

All in all, it’s been a strange year. I really hope that 2012 settles down a bit.

Posted in politics, religion, science | Leave a comment

WWJD?

As I’ve pointed out before on this blog I grew up in a conservative Utah Mormon family. Most of my siblings are still quite conservative. We generally get along, though I have no doubt that a couple of them, at least, see me as the black sheep of the family. I no longer consider myself a Mormon, and certainly see the world differently than they do. Case in point: I replied the other day to my brother’s Facebook post where he criticized the Occupy Wall Street protesters and implied that they were a bunch of lazy losers. I asked who Jesus would stand up for, the rich or the poor. Somehow my reply was deleted within the hour.

I noted on Facebook a few weeks ago how it’s an echo chamber, citing an article on Salon. The internet has enabled people to be selective about the opinions that they hear. Previous generations could do this only by selecting which newspaper to subscribe to, assuming that they lived in a big enough city to have more than one paper. But now, with thousands of blogs and online news sources you can fine tune the news that you read to match exactly what you want to hear. I suppose that I’m guilty of this as well to some extent; I don’t go out of my way to listen to Fox News. Listening to opinions on either extreme may get my blood pressure up, but my biggest objection is to those who won’t consider other opinions. I enjoy having discussions with people who are equally willing to consider other viewpoints, but discussing politics or social issues with someone who won’t consider any other points of view is painful. “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” Who said that? So having a Facebook comment, expressing a dissenting opinion, deleted was a bit sad. (And why does Facebook only have a Like button? Why not a Dislike button as well?)

So, back to my reply to my brother’s post. What I really wanted to say was “What Would Jesus Do?” That’s a popular mantra among Christians, particularly the conservative kind. But is it just a mantra or do they really ask themselves that when faced with moral decisions? I tend to think that it’s the former. In an article at HuffPo a few months ago a professor of Sociology asks “what’s the deal?”

“Jesus unambiguously preached mercy and forgiveness. These are supposed to be cardinal virtues of the Christian faith. And yet Evangelicals are the most supportive of the death penalty, draconian sentencing, punitive punishment over rehabilitation, and the governmental use of torture. Jesus exhorted humans to be loving, peaceful, and non-violent. And yet Evangelicals are the group of Americans most supportive of easy-access weaponry, little-to-no regulation of handgun and semi-automatic gun ownership, not to mention the violent military invasion of various countries around the world. Jesus was very clear that the pursuit of wealth was inimical to the Kingdom of God, that the rich are to be condemned, and that to be a follower of Him means to give one’s money to the poor. And yet Evangelicals are the most supportive of corporate greed and capitalistic excess, and they are the most opposed to institutional help for the nation’s poor — especially poor children. They hate anything that smacks of “socialism,” even though that is essentially what their Savior preached. They despise food stamp programs, subsidies for schools, hospitals, job training — anything that might dare to help out those in need. Even though helping out those in need was exactly what Jesus urged humans to do. In short, Evangelicals are that segment of America which is the most pro-militaristic, pro-gun, and pro-corporate, while simultaneously claiming to be most ardent lovers of the Prince of Peace.”

I suppose that one of the many ways to get lynched in the South would be to have a bumper sticker that reads “How many guns would Jesus own?”

I’m not a big bumper sticker fan; I’ve only displayed one bumper sticker in my life, one supporting the Obama campaign, but I suppose that a bumper sticker that I should display would be the one that says “Good Without God”. How many times have you heard it implied or even directly stated that atheists have no morals, or are inherently evil, communists, or, gasp, homosexuals and perverts? Obviously if there’s no expectation of a heavenly reward or eternal punishment then a person will immediately become a follower of Satan. Why is that? Why couldn’t a person, on his or her own without other influence, decide to be good? I certainly don’t feel that I need to be told, once a week, how to live my life. I can choose to be good on my own. Being good is its own reward. If I contribute my little bit to making the world a better place to live then I have my reward. I feel that, imperfect as I am, that I am just as good a person as any believer. I do my best to be honest at all times, to be fair and decent towards others, obey applicable laws and contribute to society, and give to charity when I can. I pay all of my bills on time, and help my children financially when I am able. I haven’t killed anyone, robbed or stolen, raped or assaulted. (I did get a speeding ticket a couple years back, though.) I stand up for the rights of the less fortunate. And yet I don’t believe in an eternal reward or punishment and I haven’t been to church in nearly twenty years. How is that possible?

Update 14 Nov: Here’s a great comic on picking and choosing your beliefs.

Update 3 Aug 2012: additional articles on this topic here and here. Jesus, apparently, was a liberal socialist.

Posted in gay rights, politics, religion | Leave a comment

Tickled Pink

I’m tickled pink (heh, heh) at the news from Albany, NY this morning, that last night the New York state legislature has approve a law allowing gay marriage, and that the law has been signed by the governor. This is a great step forward for civil rights.

Civil rights? Yes. This is about the equal rights of a group of individuals living in our society. I see absolutely no difference between gays as a group and racial minorities as a group. Both groups have been and continue to be discriminated against. Laws protecting the civil rights of minority races were passed over decades in the late 20th century, though true acceptance of racial minorities as equals in our society still has a ways to go.

Laws protecting the civil rights of persons of minority sexual orientation are in progress, state by state, but I expect that even after the entire country is covered in such equality laws, whether after state-by-state victories or by federal mandate, total social acceptance may still take a while. On the other hand, I see signs that this movement will be speedier than the movement for racial equality: if you count the start of the racial civil rights movement with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in the 1860’s, that’s been a long time. The Stonewall riots were 42 years ago.

I have high hopes for a younger generation who are more accepting of others and quicker to embrace change. An interesting note: a Republican NY senator asked his constituents for input on his vote (what a concept!!) and while snail mail and telephone responses were negative, email and Twitter responses were positive. Those who embrace new technology are, at least in this instance, more likely to embrace change and favour equality.

But who is not accepting of this change? The religious right, of course. The people who are stuck in a previous century – perhaps the last one, or the one before that, or perhaps two millennia ago when the myths they use for guidance were written. The only prohibition in the Bible to homosexual relations is included in the same guidance on day-to-day living for a wandering desert tribe such as prohibitions against eating shellfish, mixing fabrics, and mingling with menstrual women, while at the same time allowing slavery, treating wives and children as property, and stoning of unmarried daughters who get pregnant. The shrimp-eating, polyester-wearing right are happy to pick and choose which of these rules they want to apply to us 2500 years later. If they want to continue to follow the Old Testament, they should do so, but in its entirety: they should move to the middle eastern desert, live in tents, raise goats, and sell their daughters… but for those of us who want to live in the 21st century, please leave us alone.

I find it interesting that the most vocal opponent to the New York state law was the Catholic Archbishop, who wanted to lecture us all on the violation of natural law. Really? A representative of the world leader in protecting pedophiles lecturing us on what is right and wrong? If there was ever a more hypocritical stance I haven’t seen it. The Catholic hierarchy can’t even seem to follow their own scripture when it comes to the treatment of children (see Matt 18:6), and have most certainly forgotten the highest rule of all, to love one another (John 13:34-35, and many others).

And besides, aren’t we supposed to have separation of church and state in our country? Churches are happy to claim their protection against government regulation, but don’t see it as a two-way street. If a member of one of those churches wants to believe certain things I have no problem with that (as strange as some of those beliefs may seem). But those beliefs should not be imposed on others. It is not government’s job to enforce religious beliefs. If the only opposition to gay marriage is based on religious principles (and I have seen no other objections), and we are supposed to have separation of church and state, then there should be no objections. None. If a church doesn’t want to perform gay marriages, so be it, but do not prevent gay marriages from occurring outside of the church.

The negative comments I read on various news sites this morning are interesting but sad. Many are from people who seem to require something in their lives to hate and to rail against. People who cannot accept others for who and what they are. They write hate-filled expletives against people they do not know nor want to get to know. They make arguments without any backing or reason besides hate. They do not even understand their book of scripture upon which they think they’re basing their arguments.

It’s sad, really, that some people won’t take a minute to stop, think, reason, and figure out why they see things the way they do, why they don’t question what they’ve been told and start trying to think for themselves.

Why do I support gay marriage? Because I have the ability to be married myself to someone that I love, and I don’t see why I should have that right while others do not. I see no reason why gays should have fewer rights in our society. No reason at all.

[Update 4 July 2011] At least there’s one Christian minister who seems to think that “All are God’s Children”: Bishop Tutu.

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