Archive for August 2010
What is marriage? Is is a legal form of partnership between two people where their property rights are legally recognised and in which they can take advantage of their tax situation? Or is it a religious ceremony undertaken by two people to show their commitment to each other in front of their peers?
In modern times the two have been mixed up and this is starting to cause friction as human rights are being encouraged to be expressed. Marriage was introduced as a legal concept to allow and man and his wife to share their property with each other and their family. It was also introduced so that the state could decide who were allowed to marry and who weren’t. Originally this was the concensus of the society at the time. Since religion was a key part of society at that time, marriage was defined by relgious concepts and so only a man and woman could marry and they had to be of certain ages. Some places even stipulated that the couple had to have the same skin colour. Some places even try and stop a married couple from having children. Initially there were no problems because the law coincided with society’s views.
As society changed the laws didn’t. So we now get to the situation where marriage laws are tied in with the Christian marriage even though there are many different faiths and concepts accepted by society. Christian marriage doesn’t allow homosexual partnerships but society has changed to accept it.
To understand how to change it we need to understand the purpose of the State and religion. The State’s role is to administer society’s laws. The key points understood by any society is the right to life, the concept of property ownership, the need of a society to defend itself from others, and that no one should harm others. These are the basic tenets under which laws should be created. No more no less. To be able to adminster the state needs some money and it does this through taxes.
The purpose of religion is to allow groups of people to be controlled by authority figures. This is a variation of the caveman principle of tribal leader. This is because the human being is naturally part of a group in which there needs to be a leader. The other purpose of religion is to allow people to understand their world around them in simple terms and to accept such things as unfortunate events as “acts of god”. The human brain is not very good at coming to terms with random events and uses religion as a form of understanding it. Finally religion allows groups of people to define the way they live where they can be with like minded people. Be it with black caps, white towels, shaven heads, long beards, or what ever. Religion needs some money to create the temples and it collects them in the form of taxes and voluntary donations.
Marriage as a legal concept should not be any more than recognising that the couple in the marriage have made a contract to share their property. So any problems arising from breaking these contracts, such as inheritence and the sharing of tax, can be sorted out through a legal system. Generally a country needs a single legal system to ensure that everyone is fairly treated, but that doesn’t presuppose the existence of other legal systems which can be used if both sides of the argument freely care to use it.
Marriage as a religious concept is the understanding that (generally) a man and woman have made a commitment to each other for the rest of their lives. As part of this the relgious group allow the couple to have sex and to procreate to create more adherents to their religion.
Therefore if a couple are not part of a religious group that forbids a particular practise, then the state should not get involved in the marriage. It should allow any form of partnership and ensure that the property laws are upheld. It could mean that legal marriages between siblings are allowed as they show that they wish to make a contract in which their property (usually the home they live in) will be shared. It also means that homosexuals can legally marry to show that they wish to make a contract to share their property.
In both cases, if there are any children in the union (biological, adopted, guardianships, relatives, etc.) their rights are upheld by the state just like any other person. They are also allowed to take advantage of any property rights.
In order for this split in different marriages to take place the best course of action would be for the State to remove itself from the control of marriage. In effect marriage would be privatised and allowed to be administered by which ever group the couple belong to, be that religious or other.
Lynne Rosenthal was “allegedly” kicked out of a Starbucks for “allegedly” being an awkward customer. She asked for a plain bagel and refused to answer a question about butter or cheese in the affirmative. After a bit of an argument, police were allegedly called (the police don’t have a record of this) and she was kicked out. Now while it’s OK for businesses to decide who they want as customers and those who it feels are spoiling other customer’s experience of the business there is more to it than this.
This is a story in a newspaper. And newspaper stories are notoriously unreliable. For instance the case of the child kicked off a bus for wearing an England football tshirt was totally fabricated. As was the story about the women who was kicked off a bus for breastfeeding. The same with many other stories. Newspapers are all about churnalism now a days. All they care about is increasing sales to increase their money (which is normal) and churning out stories without fact checking (which is nor normal). So take the story with a pinch of salt and read between the lines.
“The academic … ordered a plain bagel … but refused to add “without butter and cheese” The key word is plain. In normal English that implies no fancy stuff, on it’s own, normal, unadorned. So just repeating that you want a plain bagel implies no butter or cheese or anything else that might be added to a bagel. Take into account that his was in America where if you ask for a something they will go through umpteen different options, rather than the British way were they expect you to ask for the extras rather than be pestered for them. Also take into account that this is Starbucks where they label a small coffee Tall, a medium Grande, and a large Venti so they do have a corportate langauge that customers need to understand to order there.
If you go back in the history of Starbucks you will find that they originally started off with short and tall which followed the usual English definitions and implied a small and a large. But with American appetites and the need to create a brand image the terms Tall, Grande and Venti (20oz) were brought in. All this to increase the cachet of Starbucks and make it sound exclusive and special and to cover the fact that their coffee is crap*. Now most people will roll over and accept that they have to use these special terms if they frequent a place like Starbucks. But many others aren’t regulars and they will order using what they believe to be universially understood terms. Most servers, if they have much experience, will accept that and inform the customer what the “special codes” mean. But there are exceptions, probably one who had a bad day or new and recently indoctrinated into the Starbucks language, who wouldn’t accept any reply except a corporate language answer.
This is not new news either. People have been pissed off about Starbucks, and other corporates’, langauge since 2001.
“Welcome to Starbucks, how can I help you?”
“You mean a Venti?”
*grumble*. Now, I’ve worked retail. It sucks to be messed with. You’re just trying to do your job. Your trainer and/or manager tells you to call it a “Venti (TM)”. I would normally understand, really I would. I’d play your despotic marketing games, normally, and call it a flying plaid pig if it made a deep, nutty-black steaming cup of the mud of life and awakening appear in front of me sooner. But it will not. And I shall not. And it’s Monday morning, and all I want is a large-as-you-have-got cup of raw, hot black coffee. And besides, this is the United States of America, not Italy, and Starbucks started in freakin’ Seattle. Why aren’t they using an Inuit word for a large cup of coffee? OK, sure, Starbucks may use Italian espresso machines, but a Ferrari owner does not a rally racer make, right? (Call a spade a fucking shovel)
“No, I’d like a large, please.”, emphatic emphasis on the “please“.
“I’m sorry,”, (No, you’re not, really, now are you?), “But we have Tall, Grande, and Venti!”, extra perkiness. Extra perkiness solves all problems in retail and customer relations. Also, she’s apparently had her coffee. I feel like I’m approaching a fickle, angry oracle, and I must be supplicant and be bearing offerings to recieve the wisdom of the ether.
“That’s nice. One large dark-roast please, no room for cream or sugar.”, (insert potentially lethal Jedi Stare (TM)). Honey, you do still understand the difference between small, medium, and large, don’t you? Starbucks can’t seriously have a brainwashing program that frighteningly effective, can it? Can it?!)
“We have Tall, Grande…”, she stops midsentence, and likely sees the trapped, caged, wild animal stare in my eyes of an IT cubeslave at 7:45 in the godforsaken morning without his precious coffee, yet, “… a-a large you say?”
“Yes, please, a large dark-roast, no room for cream or sugar, please.”. Victory! My coffee is presented to me, and I immediately feel much better with it’s bitter warmth in my hands, and that I didn’t have to call it by some silly Italian word that likely really means something insulting.
Eventually, the more reliable of the staff got used to it, and never questioned it. I’d ask for a large, and they’d give it to me, no questions asked or marketing flim-flammery foisted upon my weary self. It was a good battle, well fought.
I noticed other regulars began calling it a large as well, and this made it all worth it.
* Personal opinion.
So Tony Blair is giving the proceeds of his book The A Journey to charidy. So wappy do. He can do that because he’s already had a £4m advance for the book. I think he’s finally realised that his book will not make any money and so instead of him earning another £50k, he’s decided to give it away. Pure publicity as everyone will think that he giving loads away when in actual fact he is giving nothing away. As if you thought that Tony Liar would change his spots when he left politics. He never left.