Thursday, December 09, 2004


In case you're curious about where this blog got its name, "Salamasond" is the infamous island on which Dr. Seuss' Yertle the Turle once ruled as an overly ambitious dictator. Dr. Seuss has always been one of my favorite authors/illustrators, primarily because of how he was able to take such powerful, important, salient issues and present the liberal view of them in a format that was accessible to everyone from 2 to 92.

If you're interested in Dr. Seuss, PBS has a great show about Theodore Geisel's life and work.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Slippery Slopes

Maybe there's a really vulgar pun in here somewhere, but we can just leave that aside for the time being...

I recently read an interesting statement about making pro-choice / anti-abortion arguments that suggested "in order to make a convincing case that will span religious precepts, you have to make arguments that are secular rather than faith-based in nature." (I'll credit that paraphrase to someone if I can find it again.) I tend to think the same is probably true for the seemingly more immediate cause of same-sex marriage.

During the past election cycle at least 11 states either passed or reaffirmed laws defining marriage as the union between 1 man and 1 woman. Spurred on by his recent mandate, it seems that Bush is going to push forward with his highest profile flip-flop. According to USA Today: "Karl Rove, who oversaw Bush's re-election victory, said Bush will renew the effort, which failed in Congress this year but may enjoy new support after 11 states approved bans on same-sex marriage on Election Day."

The courts will hopefully strike down the states' individual laws as unconstitutional; but if Bush finds support enough to pass a constitutional amendment through the congress it will be much more difficult to fight in the courts. I think it's critically important to build a grassroots movement among the general populous to support marriage rights for same-sex couples. The best way I know to do this, is to discuss the issue with your family members, coworkers, friends, barber, and mail carrier. But you have to be prepared to make a good solid case and refute ridiculous slipper-slope arguments.

Likening same-sex marriage to inter-racial marriage is, unfortunately, a somewhat poor analogy; although I hope that we can make it at least that far in our country's tolerance for same-sex marriage. I tend to take the equal-rights approach to support same-sex marriage. When confronted with "they can a civil union, just don't call it marriage," my best response is to sugest the difference between state-sanctioned marriage and religiously-sanctioned marriage. The thought that an individual religion defines marriage as the union between 1 man and 1 woman shouldn't preclude another religion (or the state) from defining it differently. Several christian denominations already support same-sex marriage rights. If the state chooses to define marriage as the union between 1 man and 1 woman, it should be based on secular arguments the are underpinned not only by religious morals but also by intellectual reason.

It seems to me that many people voted on the issue of "do you approve of gay marriage" rather than "do you think the state should deny same-sex couples the rights of marriage." I think that some people would rethink their vote on the issue if they thought of the vote not as a survey about how they believe, but rather as a definition of what everyone is allowed to believe. I hope that for some at least, this changes their vote.

In same-sex marriage discussions, you'll also need to be able to refute the slippery slope argument that allowing gay marriage will lead to legalized polygamy. This is nothing more than the same slippery-slope, fear-based argument that conservatives make on any number of issues. There are certain to be groups that want to abolish marriage all together, and they'll use same-sex marriage as a stepping stone; but still, the argument is falacious. There's no reason to believe that one will necessarily lead to the other.

Still, consider that in the 19th century when Congress outlawed polygamy, part of the justification was based on the traditional way in which polygamous relationships were structured: typically one man subjugating the others to his will. Most societies that still practice polygamy are also known for their denegration of women. Confronted with any one of the vaste number of hypothetically equal-powered polygamous relationships, the best argument I have is an analogy to committees. As the number of individuals involved in any decision making process increases, the complexity of the situation increase exponentially because the combination of relationships between each person and each combination of the other people increases. (With 2 people, each has only the other's opinion to consider. With 3 people, each person has to consider the opinion of each of the other 2 people as well as what their collective opinion may be. With 4 people, the combinations grow larget yet.) As the complexity of the relationship increases, it is human nature (as nearly all societal forms provide explicit evidence) that we will form decision making hierarchies based on a perceived ability to lead. So, even in a group as small as three, there is likely to be a power stuggle that results in one or two of the people subjugated to the remaining. We tend to consider this kind of subjugation as neglect or abuse.

All of my arguments, of course, could use some backup. I just hope that we can short-circuit any federal action by showing individual votes how wrong a legal ban on same-sex marriage are.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

New Hope...

Every cloud should have a silver lining, right? Well, just think. We've got 4 years to get ready for the next Presidential election. Plenty of time to relax, play some video games, mope around, and wallow to our heart's content. Or, alternatively, we could start trying to help all of our friends and colleagues understand what's wrong with implementing the conservative agenda.

But first, I need to play some Pikmin.

Vote (cont.)

It's great to see that so many people did come out an vote on Tuesday. I hope they all get counted, and I wish the best of luck to the officials who are eventually declared winners -- even if they aren't the officials I voted for.

That's me being generous...

What the hell is wrong with our country! I just want to shake people who believe (a) the war on Iraq can be justified by WMDs or terrorism, (b) a woman's right to choose isn't as important as our government's opportunity to dictate, (c) love and marriage, despite being sacred things, should be defined and controlled by the government, or (d) no matter what the rest of the world thinks, our own priorities in the world are clearly the most important. I haven't heard any rational, secular, legal, or scientific arguments to support any of those views. It's like some NASCAR guy said in his proclamation of support for W, "I'm not an issues guy." I guess there are a lot of people out there who have degenerated into letting their emotions drive their decision making.

Best of luck to our new officials. May the intellect God has endowed you with help you govern with wisdom; and may we all see our own intellect as a gift to be exercised regularly. Faith and wisdom don't have to be in such opposition.

Monday, November 01, 2004


Don't forget to vote on Tuesday.
No matter how the election turns out, we should all get to have our voices heard.

Visit (run, incidentally, by one of my favorite computer science authors) for some good information on the polls. Or visit Internets Vets for Truth if you haven't been inundated with enough information from the liberal media, yet.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Gay Marriage in Missouri

Missouri state-primaries were on this past Tuesday and we voted on two different major issues:
  • Should we allow another casino on the Mississippi River?
  • Should we add language to reinforce the statement that marriage can only exist between one man and one woman?

As a state, it turns out, we're morally divided on just how bad a thing gambling is. Bad for the neighborhood. Good for school funding. Encourages crime. Adds a few hundred jobs. Morally reprehensible. Keep the government out of business. The amendment failed 44/55.

As for marriage though, 70% of Missouri residents seem to believe that the bedrock for our state should include a strong statement on who each of us should be allowed to publicly and formally declare our love... I realy thought Missourians were more conservative than that! I honestly don't think that many people who voted "Yes" on this amendment really understood that they were voting to change our constitution, not just declaring their opinion on whether or not two men or two women should be allowed to legally declare love and dedication to each other.

Marriage is one of those sloppy institutions that crosses the line between church and state. In my belief, the "holy bonds of matromony" by definition are something beyond the control of any earthly judgement. Marriage is a statement of love and devotion. Something like this can't be constrained or defined by legal dictates. On the other hand, as a society, we believe that being married should also change how your legal matters are handled. You've declared a deep committment to someone; it makes sense that this person should have some legal rights and responsibilities when it comes to your affairs. Making financial and medical decisions, for instance.

Some people will claim that legal constructs already exist for these relationships: powers of attorney. I heard an anecdote at work this week from a conservative woman about problems she's had with powers of attorney. When her husband was in the Navy and away on duty, they went to sell their house. Her standard power of attorney wasn't satisfactory for the bank to complete the sale, though. Her husband ended up needing to send a telegram from his ship to the bank for the sale to be final. Overlooking the sexist implications of this annecdote, it serves as an example of how complex and full of holes the power of attorney construct is. We've also all heard annecdotes about how powers of attorney are sometimes ignored completely by medical and financial institutions.

Let's be clear, of course. I'm not gay. I'm a happily married breader. I do have gay friends. Even if I didn't have any close gay fiends, it wouldn't matter. There are certainly things that the government should be able to say about marriage: no, you can't marry a turtle (search for "Texas Senator John Cornyn, turtle, John Stewart" if you don't know the reference) -- we don't have any way of knowing the turtle has actually concented. But gay marriage is well outside those things that the government should be controlling.

As a holy institution, marriage can only be defined and constrained by religious leaders -- and there are definitely mainstream denominations already defending gay marriage. The government's obligation is to ensure the rights and privileges of marriage are there for everyone who is called "married."

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

U.S. Senate resumes debate on gay marriage ban

From U.S. Senate resumes debate on gay marriage ban:
Vice President Dick Cheney's wife Sunday said states should have the final say over the legal status of personal relationships. Lynne Cheney's comments on CNN put her at odds with the president and her husband.

From: Lynne Cheney: Leave gay marriage to the states
She also says people should be free to enter into relationships they choose.

So, I'm from Dick Cheney's home town of Casper, WY. In fact, my highschool nearly got renamed after the Vice President. Of this relationship to the Vice President, I'm not particularly pround. Remember, our common home-state is also home to high profile stories of anti-gay violence and religious antics.

Anyway, it's nice to see Lynn Cheney standing up against her husband to show some level of support for their lesbian daughter, Mary.

Software Profiling

Constructing a first post is a daunting affair, so I'll just forgo that and start off with something interesting...

I'm starting to work on new article that I'd like to target at Dr. Dobb's Journal. I published an article there in Dec 2003 on Application Level Data Caching.

This article is going to be about a framework for integrated software performance profiling. Obviously, you can run your code through a profiling tool and see how much time is spent in which functions, and how often they return success/failure results. What my article will suggest, though, is that it's far more affective to actually integrate profiling features into your code, just like you'd integrate debugging features. The article will describe an object-oriented framework for software performance profiling that I've been designing.

Look for it some trade publication... I hope.