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New website layout; long, ranty political reflections 
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Individuals have the unabridged right to contract with one another so long as they're not infringing on someone else's rights. I'm not really sure what government is doing defining marriage contracts, it probably has to do with the burden property and custody disputes pose the court system. In any case, it's obvious that it should recognize contracts between gays as they're individuals. As for the SS, death, and income tax discrepancies, all three of those taxes should be phased out entirely and I could write ten pages as to why, as any libertarian could. This is only one of the problems they unintentionally begot. I'm sure the private sector insurance benefits are rooted in government tax legislature as well.


Tue Nov 11, 2008 1:39 am
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I think legitimacy is more important psychologically than you give it credit for. Just think of the expression 'making it official'; there's a real sense of commitment (and romance for that matter) to the idea of getting married. When I think of marrying my boyfriend, as far off as that may be, it's not tax cuts or right of adoption that give me butterflies in my stomach. Although I would like to adopt a child, I see that as a separate issue.


Tue Nov 11, 2008 1:51 am
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FitzRoy wrote:
Individuals have the unabridged right to contract with one another so long as they're not infringing on someone else's rights.

Sure, they have a right to make a contract, but there's ton of various situations where a particular contract would not be held up in court. See business law.

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Tue Nov 11, 2008 1:54 am
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h4tred wrote:
Yeah. "Land of the Free", my arse. For this is coming from a foreigner, but America doesn't sound as free as people make it out to be. Every minority group should have rights.

Oh, and white people should just sit back and watch as theirs get stripped left and right while minorities and/or illegal immigrants gain more and more each day?

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Tue Nov 11, 2008 2:04 am
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DataPath wrote:
At least in California, the only legal benefit that homosexuals would receive (as I understand it) would be a tax break (although maybe some kinds of health insurance don't provide benefits in that case, either).


There are ~1,400 federal benefits for marriage, and ~400 state benefits. I understand the federal benefits don't apply yet, but without state marriage, federal benefits will never be possible. If tax breaks for gays was the problem, why was the amendment to ban it entirely, rather than just the tax benefits? The same for the "oh my god they'll (school teachers) teach my kids to be gay!!" arguments?

FitzRoy wrote:
all three of those taxes should be phased out entirely and I could write ten pages as to why, as any libertarian could.


And Bob Barr, the repub... I'm sorry, the "Libertarian" candidate this year got less than one percent of the popular vote. The real Libertarian, Michael Badnarik from 2004, got roughly the same.

You and I agree, but that option will never, ever happen. It's more likely to gain marriage equality, so that is to say -- it's the low hanging fruit. Even if it is the ideal goal, we should still fight for equality in the mean-time.

Verdauga Greeneyes wrote:
I think legitimacy is more important psychologically than you give it credit for.


It's important to fit into society well, too. It gives confidence.

Stranger> "Who's this?"

Option A> "This is my husband, Steve."

Option B> "This is my civil union partner, Steve."
Stranger> "So you guys work for the same workers union?"
Option B> "No, no. My domestic partner."
Stranger> "Your what?"
Option B> "My HUSBAND, geez!"
Stranger> "Uhh ... you can't get married, that's illegal!"

Ohio Option C> "It's my 'roommate', Steve."

adventure_of_link wrote:
h4tred wrote:
Yeah. "Land of the Free", my arse. For this is coming from a foreigner, but America doesn't sound as free as people make it out to be. Every minority group should have rights.

Oh, and white people should just sit back and watch as theirs get stripped left and right while minorities and/or illegal immigrants gain more and more each day?


You might consider moving to Nebrasksa ... :P

I'm actually not a fan of Affirmative Action myself, but they are clearly at a disadvantage (no racism here -- see: high school drop-out rates, income levels, incarceration rates, etc). How much of that is due to past oppression, and how much is due to genetics themselves (or if that should matter) -- I cannot say.

Your argument seems to suggest disagreement, while reinforcing h4tred's point: taking away rights only from whites, or granting them only to minorities is also wrong. It's very simple: equal treatment for everyone. Very simple.


Tue Nov 11, 2008 2:39 am
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Verdauga Greeneyes wrote:
I think legitimacy is more important psychologically than you give it credit for. Just think of the expression 'making it official'; there's a real sense of commitment (and romance for that matter) to the idea of getting married. When I think of marrying my boyfriend, as far off as that may be, it's not tax cuts or right of adoption that give me butterflies in my stomach. Although I would like to adopt a child, I see that as a separate issue.


Legitimacy in whose eyes? The government's or your own? I don't understand how getting permission from the government to love someone carries any psychological weight.

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Sure, they have a right to make a contract, but there's ton of various situations where a particular contract would not be held up in court. See business law.


Was I disagreeing with that or something? People should certainly seek legal counsel on major contracts or do some basic research on their own. I simply don't agree with the government ignoring a perfectly valid contract between two competent individuals. No law or statute which subverts supreme law is supposed to be valid. The whole thing reeks of social engineering. Any tax system in which one entity can be penalized more than another is just asking for collusion and infighting.


Tue Nov 11, 2008 2:56 am
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byuu wrote:
adventure_of_link wrote:
h4tred wrote:
Yeah. "Land of the Free", my arse. For this is coming from a foreigner, but America doesn't sound as free as people make it out to be. Every minority group should have rights.

Oh, and white people should just sit back and watch as theirs get stripped left and right while minorities and/or illegal immigrants gain more and more each day?


You might consider moving to Nebrasksa ... :P

I'm actually not a fan of Affirmative Action myself, but they are clearly at a disadvantage (no racism here -- see: high school drop-out rates, income levels, incarceration rates, etc). How much of that is due to past oppression, and how much is due to genetics themselves (or if that should matter) -- I cannot say.

Your argument seems to suggest disagreement, while reinforcing h4tred's point: taking away rights only from whites, or granting them only to minorities is also wrong. It's very simple: equal treatment for everyone. Very simple.

Actually..
1) I'm thinking about moving to Canada :P
and 2) I took h4tred's post as him supporting giving (more?) rights to minorities and stripping white people's away.

in any case, goto Cincinnati, OH. If a black person says a whitey, honky, cracker, etc it's all good. But once the white person retaliates with the N word, all hell breaks loose, and they turn it into black vs. white issue -- usually in the black person's favor, despite them starting on you first.

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Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:49 am
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i didn't read too much of this, but my two cents are just that church and state should be separated, as intended.

being religious myself, i'm personally against gay marriage. But as far as the state is concerned, what's the big deal? my church wouldn't marry a gay couple, but there really shouldn't be a reason that the state can't.

i guess it's just the nature of politics and religion that makes it hard for people to keep them separate.

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Tue Nov 11, 2008 5:15 am
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Gambling: A state issue
Narcotics: A federal issue
Gay marriage: A state issue
Polygamy: A federal issue

I'm trying to find a pattern here. What distinguishes something from being a states rights issue (let states decide for themselves, and if you disagree with it and it's important enough for you, you can move to a state where there are more like-minded people), versus a federal issue.


Tue Nov 11, 2008 5:19 am
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I took h4tred's post as him supporting giving (more?) rights to minorities and stripping white people's away.


Sorry, but where did I say about stripping the majority's rights? :) You are right in saying that I endorse giving more rights to minorities, but what I really want is equality. Not bias against white people, if thats what your view is.


Tue Nov 11, 2008 8:40 am
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adventure_of_link wrote:
I'm thinking about moving to Canada


Do you have family relatives living there? Because if not, you have only two ways in:
1) "Invest" ~$300,000-$500,000 to start a business, or hand it over to Canada and they'll return it, sans interest, in five years or so.
2) Claim refugee status. Good luck with this one.

I'd love to move to Canada, myself.


Tue Nov 11, 2008 10:07 am
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FitzRoy wrote:
Legitimacy in whose eyes? The government's or your own? I don't understand how getting permission from the government to love someone carries any psychological weight.


My own, I suppose. It's not so much getting permission from the government as it is getting its official support, and confirming the strength of our commitment to each other with my partner. I don't know if that makes sense - it's hard to put to words.


Tue Nov 11, 2008 12:22 pm
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Post Re: New website layout; long, ranty political reflections
Many many people complain about policies being wrong, feel their position is obvious, and are confused why people can't just see the 'big picture'. I've seen very heartfelt pleas to "reasonableness" from many different views as I'm sure all of you have as well. So what is the problem here?


Let me play extreme devil's advocate for a moment. I will try to show two things:
1) even simple criteria like self-consistency to judge positions regarding social interaction often fails on even the most basic ideas of rights
2) society mathematically _cannot_ agree on priorities in a fair way, even if we assume everyone is rational


#1
While everyone usually can't agree on "starting assumptions" for such arguments/discussions, the most convincing arguments for those who hold religion at first priority often rely on referring to what they feel is the authoritative word from their religion, and the most convincing arguments for those who hold logic at first priority often rely on 'self-consistency' (since while it is difficult to tack down the starting assumptions/postulates of a position, one can still 'disprove' the logic of a position if it leads to contradictory answers). There are of course a whole range of such arguments, but these are usually the core that we need to retreat to: refer to authority, refer to self-consistency.

The first ends discussion immediately, especially if the parties disagree on what a good authority/source is, as well as their interpretations of said source. The second though, people usually take as granted. Let me try to show that even the most basic principle/right leads to confusion and self-consistency problems.

Does a person have a fundemental right to live?
Should genocide be stopped?

These are things I would think the vast majority can agree on. However, even these base ideas of "correct" social interaction lead to self-confliction when applied absolutely. Intervening in a genocide can cost more lives than allowing the genocide to continue. Which human lives are worth more? How much more?

Often this leads to people trying to make finer distinctions of which lives are the lives that are worth more here. It quickly devolves and people no longer agree ... even though we started at close to the most fundemental level: empathy / the golden rule - I wouldn't want this to happen to me, so I won't do this to others. In this case: most people value their life, and therefore inherently value other people's lives.

There is no self-consistent "moral algebra".
There is, and always will be, a discussion of what "rights" people have because there is no foundation to allow purely logical discussion let alone a solution to be obtained.


#2
It has been mathematically proven that if a group of people (more than 2) want to decide as a group their priorities (of more than two things) in a fair manner, that this cannot be done (even assuming everyone is rational).

Since this was mathematically proven, some of those terms need to be defined precisely.

We can look at a proposed selection mechanism as a function, mapping the input of the list of priorities of each individual to the output of a single list of priorities for the community.

definition of fair:
- non-random / deterministic (the same votes will always yield the same results)
- no dictator or ruling party (the function cannot be independent of an individual's list)
- "reasonable", If every individual prefers a certain option to another, then so must the resulting societal preference order.

definition of rational:
- If a person ranks N items, yielding an ordered list, then is given another item to rank as well... the new ranking should be representable by the old ordered list with the new item inserted at one position. For example, if you rank pizza > bologna sandwich > pickles, if you are then asked to include pasta in the rankings ... it would be irrational to suddenly decide pizza is at the bottom of the list.

Or, as mathworld says:
"Perfect democratic voting is, not just in practice but in principle, impossible."
http://mathworld.wolfram.com/ArrowsParadox.html

------------
In summary:
I believe discussion is good. Concensus building is useful and necessary in a society. But people who bewail something like 'why can't we just be reasonable', misunderstand the gravity of the problem.

If you got the opportunity to start civilization over, what would you use as a founding principle? Basically, what is it that you are trying to 'maximize' in a civilization that you use as a measure of success of your civilization plans?

I really don't know how to answer such questions.
Until then, for better _and_ for worse (through the good times and the bad times according to my personal barometer), I will discuss my beliefs with my friends/family and even campaign for things I really feel strongly about, but ultimately I will let democracy choose. If we only agree with democracy when we get our way, that defeats the social structure of democracy.

Winston Churchill:
"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."


That being said, in the marriage debate, one 'side' clearly has a personal vested interest for it is directly affected, while the other 'side' is affected only tangentially. Historically, therefore, the LGBT side is strongly and heavily favorred to win this battle. They will continue discussing, explaining, protesting, reaching out, and they will do so until they win. So do not give up hope.

Byuu, sharing is exactly what you must do if this is important to you. That is how our system works.


Tue Nov 11, 2008 12:38 pm
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One point I wanted to get across, and didn't really succeed at, is that you can't (successfully) legislate society.

Simply passing a law doesn't change how society as a whole feels or acts.

Prohibition for example - alcohol wasn't just a product, it had become a part of our society, and passing a law banning it wasn't very successful.

Slavery was a normal part of our society for a long time, and it took a war to stop, and it was difficult to stamp out. Long after slavery was banned, there was still discrimination against not just the african tribesmen sold off as slaves, but anyone of that skin color. Long after discrimination based on skin color was banned, there's still cultural pockets of discrimination against various ethnic groups.

Now, from the perspective of those that were voting for Prop 8, they weren't banning an activity, they were trying to reaffirm the way they think things have always been. To them, the man-woman nature of marriage is implicit in the word itself. Green is a color of light in the range of about 510nm. Marriage is man and woman. The other side wants to change the definition of something that has been the way it is for thousands of years.

From the perspective of those that were voting against Prop 8, it wasn't ever explicitly disallowed - marriage doesn't HAVE to be only between a man and a woman, nowhere does it ever say it does. So what the other side it trying to do is ban something that was already allowed.

Straw man arguments, ad hominems, beliefs, etc aside, the discussion is fundamentally a question of to what degree can a society impose its norms on everyone else.


Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:24 pm
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Speaking of the devil...

EDIT: And again.

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Tue Nov 11, 2008 8:15 pm
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Post Re: New website layout; long, ranty political reflections
neviksti wrote:
Many many people complain about policies being wrong, feel their position is obvious, and are confused why people can't just see the 'big picture'. I've seen very heartfelt pleas to "reasonableness" from many different views as I'm sure all of you have as well. So what is the problem here?


The problem is pretty clear, it doesn't require pages of philosophical fluff. We live in a republic that protects rights from the tyranny of democratic consensus with a constitution. The right of two people, regardless of gender or race or sexual orientation, to contract with one another is sound. It's there, gays are perfectly capable of having a ceremony, exchanging vows, and signing a contract. No problems there, the courts will deal with those people in disputes surrounding that contract.

One issue, that isn't governmental, is that some gays want to be part of a popular theistic cult that doesn't want them, and God isn't around to clear up what he wants. The other issue is government giving tax exemptions and benefits to one valid contract over another based on sexual orientation, income, marital status, investment choices, etc. And instead of people fighting against the appropriation of the ingredients, we have everyone bickering over the distribution of the cake. It can only be solved with a rejection of the concept, either during the undemocratic creation of the constitution (which didn't happen), or a revolution that institutes a better one in a similar fashion. Because if it's up to the masses, it can't happen.


Tue Nov 11, 2008 9:56 pm
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byuu wrote:
It breaks up pretty badly in IE6. But it's still readable. I'll probably just leave it alone. Or redirect to a near-blank stylesheet for them. I'm so damn sick of IE.

The rounded corners thing looks best in Safari, where it has anti-aliasing for them. Kind of choppy in Firefox.

I don't see the 'choppiness' myself. I put your front page through Browser Shots to see what it looks like, and I could hardly see any difference on the corners between Firefox and Safari. In fact, when I zoomed in, I thought Safari's edges looked slightly rougher.

As for the other browser, IE 5.5 and IE6 are pretty ugly (though IE4 seems to look slightly better for some reason) but even IE7 and IE8 screwed up the rounded borders. Perfect right-angles there. Can't blame IE too much though, both Opera 9.62 and Konqueror 3.5 showed exactly the same problem with the rounded borders.

I'd be willing to ignore IE as well (my own page has a known glitch with IE6 and earlier that I'm not going to fix), but flaws in browsers like Opera and Konqueror show that even half-decent layout engines are having trouble with your new design.

As for the politics, my own views are quite public, and the decision of what a site should be about is up to whoever writes that site. I can't let this comment go without commenting though:

DataPath wrote:
And, given that it is a social institution, "rights" don't come into it. There's no "right to marry", whether you're straight or gay. So don't even start talking about "denying rights". It's a social institution, it's society's choice.

I can't believe no one else has thrown this in your face.

"Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival" - Portion of the majority decision in Loving v. Virginia.

They may have been talking about interracial marriage first, but don't go about saying stuff like "There's no "right to marry"" because it's already been established that marriage is a fundamental right, meaning it is the government's responsibility to give a major and pressing reason why two people should not be allowed to get married.


Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:14 am
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If by marriage, you mean, the act of people contracting with each other to share property or custody and calling it marriage or anything else, yes that is a fundamental right. However, government has socially engineered the tax code to give benefits to a certain kind and licensure is required to effectuate that. Licensure implies privilege granted under conditions defined by the licensor.

Once again, that is the root of the bickering. Gays aren't mad because they can't get permission from a politician or cult to love each other, they're mad because they're seeing heterosexuals getting recognized for preferential tax treatment. And by tax, we mean the government specific power of appropriating money by force for constitutionally approved purposes.

Unfortunately, the constitution didn't prevent government from amending it to create a permanent income tax 1913. Bit of an oversight there, kind of defeats the purpose of having one. So yeah, now you know why there are people who propose a flat tax or complete repeal of the 16th with a corresponding reduction in the size of government.


Wed Nov 12, 2008 6:40 pm
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byuu wrote:
2) Claim refugee status. Good luck with this one.


My brother (a lawyer) has been succesful in sending hundreds of people on that basis. Then again, Mexico lends well for that, being full of narcs and corrupt authorities.

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Wed Nov 12, 2008 7:54 pm
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neviksti wrote:
Many many people complain about policies being wrong, feel their position is obvious, and are confused why people can't just see the 'big picture'.


Which ... is why we have the Fourteenth Amendment and the words from Loving v Virginia re Marriage as a fundamental right (thank you Rhapsody) :/

But yes, I agree that both sides are looking at this as simple and obvious truth. I would like to see into the other side more clearly.

neviksti wrote:
Does a person have a fundemental right to live?
Should genocide be stopped?


Reminds me of this philosophy quiz website. It asks if you believe in god, then asks you a series of 30 questions to try and find contradictions in your logic, and explains them in detail. Very difficult to beat.

DataPath wrote:
Simply passing a law doesn't change how society as a whole feels or acts.


Based on past equality laws, it seems to speed the process along once the entire country is forced to oblige. Without being able to see the effects with and without the federal mandates, it's hard to say for sure. Passing laws in single states seems to temporarily harm support overall, but it quickly recovers. At least if same sex marriage polling over the last 20 years is to be trusted (and nothing else affected the statistics in a large way.)

creaothceann wrote:
EDIT: And again.


How cute. What kind of revolution does 57-year-old Orson Scott Card think he is going to lead from his retirement home? Careful, he might still have a musket!! :O

Rhapsody wrote:
I don't see the 'choppiness' myself. I put your front page through Browser Shots to see what it looks like, and I could hardly see any difference on the corners between Firefox and Safari. In fact, when I zoomed in, I thought Safari's edges looked slightly rougher.

As for the other browser, IE 5.5 and IE6 are pretty ugly (though IE4 seems to look slightly better for some reason) but even IE7 and IE8 screwed up the rounded borders. Perfect right-angles there. Can't blame IE too much though, both Opera 9.62 and Konqueror 3.5 showed exactly the same problem with the rounded borders.


Ah, it's only in FF2. It just uses one pixel color. FF3+ seems to have anti-aliasing.

Also, it seems to break in IE5.5, IE6.0, and to a lesser extent, Opera 7.2. Works fine everywhere else ...

And yeah, for border-radius-lacking browsers, square boxes are fine by me as a fallback. I'm disappointed in Opera. It always gives off the impression of leading in CSS3 support.

There's some nice CSS3 selector stuff I'd love to use. I wish Gecko and Webkit would hurry up with that already :(

FitzRoy wrote:
Gays aren't mad because they can't get permission from a politician or cult to love each other, they're mad because they're seeing heterosexuals getting recognized for preferential tax treatment.


That seems really disingenuous to their love. A lot of it is a feeling of worth to others, at least by the eyes of the law. And for those that still disapprove, not allowing them to hold power over us. Stupid that we'd care, but we do ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyXEaR-qdyg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrwAUV8Ofcc

MisterJones wrote:
My brother (a lawyer) has been succesful in sending hundreds of people on that basis. Then again, Mexico lends well for that, being full of narcs and corrupt authorities.


Well -- I'd also like to be able to go back to the US to visit :P


Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:57 am
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byuu wrote:
Ah, it's only in FF2. It just uses one pixel color. FF3+ seems to have anti-aliasing.

Ah, well I haven't been using FF2 for a long time now.

byuu wrote:
And yeah, for border-radius-lacking browsers, square boxes are fine by me as a fallback. I'm disappointed in Opera. It always gives off the impression of leading in CSS3 support.

Well looking at your code and the state of browser support, the KHTML glitch is actually your fault. It'd probably look fine if you added "-khtml-border-radius: 1em;" to enable KHTML's experimental support. Sadly, no such equivalent for Presto exists yet.

byuu wrote:
There's some nice CSS3 selector stuff I'd love to use. I wish Gecko and Webkit would hurry up with that already :(

I know Gecko 1.9.1 (which will be in Firefox 3.1) will have some extra support, though I don't know if it will implement the parts you want. Anything not in Gecko 1.9.1 will probably have to wait for Gecko 2.0, the layout engine in Firefox 4, which is quite a way off.

Safari 4 (using some future version of WebKit that I don't know the number of) will also presumably have better standard compliance, though I don't know which areas they're currently focusing on, nor do I have any real idea of when to expect Safari 4 to actually be released.


Thu Nov 13, 2008 1:37 pm
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A question that has probably already been asked:
Byuu, where is the "articles" section on your new version of the site?


Thu Nov 13, 2008 6:32 pm
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byuu wrote:
FitzRoy wrote:
Gays aren't mad because they can't get permission from a politician or cult to love each other, they're mad because they're seeing heterosexuals getting recognized for preferential tax treatment.


That seems really disingenuous to their love. A lot of it is a feeling of worth to others, at least by the eyes of the law. And for those that still disapprove, not allowing them to hold power over us. Stupid that we'd care, but we do ...


Marriage can serve as a word to imply a certain kind of commitment. Even if it originated in religion, there's nothing wrong with secular or gay couples extending the definition to themselves in today's society. If you pledge yourself to someone else and call it marriage, people will understand the implications of that in the commitment sense. Nobody who doesn't want to be punched in the mouth will question your love or ask to see your license at a party when if you say you're "married."

It grants people no more belief in their love to have government licensure, and if it did they would be shallow individuals, for it would ignore the countless dissolutions of relationships and the ease with which that license went along with them. That there are benefits for a certain kind implies that politicians, ergo the majority of people who elected them, thinks one type of marital contract is more beneficial to society than another. That was the consensus before government had any sort of licensure, and it led to those government inequities, not the other way around. That's the problem I'm trying to point out: societies fundamentally should not be able to vote on certain things, and the constitution would have done well to prevent such an amendment from being created. But it didn't and we're never going to see the right solution without another one.


Thu Nov 13, 2008 7:21 pm
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Added a faded SVG background. Only works with Opera 9.5+. Tried to support rounded borders through Opera+SVG, but Opera gets really buggy and sizes the SVG DIV background images wrong when you use borders. Ah well.

Articles section re-added.

Quote:
Well looking at your code and the state of browser support, the KHTML glitch is actually your fault. It'd probably look fine if you added "-khtml-border-radius: 1em;" to enable KHTML's experimental support. Sadly, no such equivalent for Presto exists yet.


My fault? Geez. Their fault for not using "border-radius" -- experimental or not. Like I'm supposed to know every last -foo-border-radius property >_>


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byuu wrote:
Articles section re-added.

Wonderful news. I always enjoy reading your articles.


Sat Nov 15, 2008 4:32 pm
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