Friday, February 25, 2005

Conservatives and Homosexuality

Between Jeff Gannon/Guckert and Dick Cheney's daughter, it seems pretty obvious that the left in America has a problem with homosexuals that oppose them. Or at least they think we're supposed to have a problem with them when they're "discovered" on our side.

For the record, I'll state my position on homosexuals, homosexuality, and gay marriage:

I doubt you could find an issue that is less threatening to me than homosexuality. By its very nature it has nothing to do with me, I'm heterosexual. If anything, I should be happy with the reduced competition for females out there. I do find acts of homosexuality unsavory, but again, I'm a heterosexual, that seems to make sense. It just doesn't turn my world on end.

In terms of homosexuals, the actual people, I have to admit that at times I have a hard time relating. However, those are times when someone is extremely open and talkative about it, and I just find myself unsure if I'm acting normal. I bet 99% of the time I don't even know if someone is gay at all, which again makes sense, because it has nothing to do with me.

Gay marriage is a little more complex and conflicting for me, but I personally feel like the state shouldn't be involved in religious institutions, and there should only be universal civil unions. Marriages should be kept within church, and I think it's sad how much energy is being wasted "protecting" a governement institution, when it's the religious portion that should be important.

So that's that, I don't even know if those views are offensive to anyone, but I hope it's clear that I'm relatively nice to people.

What really puzzles me is the left's reaction to gay people on the right. They really seem to relish the discovery of a homosexual in our midst, and I know a lot of it is, "Ooh, the party of the religious right, what hypocrisy!" And I'm sure for some few on our side it is somehow distasteful. But not for the vast bulk of the party, and I personally think it'll be good for us moving forward to have more varied input, so we might actually get less government involvement in everybody's lives.

It's fairly entertaining to watch, because the "tolerant" left sounds pretty intolerant when they bring the issues up. "Can you believe Cheney has a GAY daughter? A GAY guy got a day pass at the White House? Unbelievable." The emphasis on their homosexuality is nothing but gay-baiting, an attempt to increase tensions with homosexuals on our side, and while I think it's disgusting, it's not surprising when you remember Clarence Thomas and other conservatives being called Uncle Toms.

We're not exactly perfect in our interactions with homosexuals, but I hope in time that as a group they will move more towards our maybe slowish, but honest, acceptance, and away from the claimed tolerance, but ultimate hostitlity toward any differences on the left.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Walmart, Linux, and Slashdot

Apparently, sometimes the evil corporations running roughshod over our lives are so evil the do exactly what you've been wanting. And no combination of circumstances could be worse for the sad sacks at Slashdot.

Have a look at the comments on this story and you'd think it was Hitler selling yarmulkes or something. A cheap laptop running Linux, something many have clamored for from there, is apparently a real conundrum when it comes from Walmart. Caught between the "virtue" of Linux and the "evil" of Walmart, what does a properly groupthinking Slashhead do?

There's not a lot to say on this except to say that the blind Walmart bashing that goes on is the absolute epitome of lazy thinking. Everybody laps it up, so it must be right, everybody knows Walmart is bad somehow.

It is always a concern when a group as large as the community at Slashdot is so narrow in its opinions, especially in a field where I'd think generally smarter people are. But I console myself thinking that maybe most people posting are those that have nothing else to do.

Which reminds me, I've got something else to do.

I've Had Enough of Hybrids

The feeling I get from listening to people talk about driving a hybrid reminds me a lot of the Simpsons where Ed Begley, Jr. buzzes of on a go-cart fueled by his own sense of self-satisfaction. I don't begrudge anyone wanting to cut back on the amount of fuel they use, and in fact I'm delighted it's still a choice left to individuals. But hybrids are nowhere near the improvement they are generally made out to be, especially when taken against existing, reliable diesel technology.

The details of the comparison of modern hybrids against modern details can be seen in an excellent article at Consumer Guide, but it boils down to this: a new VW Jetta TDI is very close to the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic hybrids in terms of gas mileage and emissions, and at the same time it has many inherent advantages.

1. Proven Diesel Technology
Diesels last significantly longer that standard engines, tend to be more reliable because they are simpler in design, and are the choice in many commercial vehicles because of that. There is no reason to be concerned about the choice you've made when there's as much experience in engine design as there is with diesels. Hybrids, on the other hand have a limited history of use.

2. No Battery Pack, No Extra Motor
The batteries are expensive to replace, they need to be recycled carefully, and they are attached to an electric motor and control computer that are unproven in the long-term. For as much extra technology is packed into these cars, the relative gains are very small. Safety becomes an unkown in collisions with these electrical systems as well, and emergency crews have special procedures for dealing with them.

3. Ready to Burn Domestic Biodiesel
Biodiesel is getting easier to get commercially, in my area there are 3 Pacific Pride cardlock stations that carry it. California has decent coverage as well. Regardless of your location though, today's hybrids will never have this option, and do little to reduce our use of foreign oil in a significant way.

4. Passing Power
The Prius has a ridiculously low 82 lb-ft of torque, and the Civic Hybrid is not much better at 116. The Jetta TDI has 177 lb-ft, more than 50% higher than the Civic and more than double the Prius. Diesel engines are inherently good in this area, and if you think you might need to pass someone someday, you might think again before you choose a hybrid.

5. Repair Costs
As of now, this is still a known vs. unknown argument, but with all of the extra equipment on a hybrid, and having some existing track record for diesels, it is not much of a stretch to say hybrids will tend to be more expensive and difficult to repair.

For now at least, I see no reason to own a hybrid automobile, and it's disappointing to see how few diesel models we actually get in our market. But if perceptions change and dealers sense some demand, we could actually get more efficient diesel cars without giving up everything you lose with a hybrid.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Should We Root Against The Dems?

Today is one of those days I wish I had someone else's traffic, because I'd really like to have an answer to this question. Between John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Ted Kennedy, just about any journalist, I think the Democrats have lost some credibility. And now with Dean's likely path to the DNC chairmanship, I've felt very good about the position the Republicans are in. I'd guess most Republicans feel similarly.

But lately I've been wondering if what appears like a bit of a losing streak on the Democrat side isn't bad to some degree for everyone. Is it good for us as Republicans when one of our two major parties becomes a joke? If you think of politics as a marketplace of ideas, I wouldn't think it is. The bulk of the ideas coming from the Democrats boil down to, "We're not Bush." I don't think it can stay that way, but I do wonder whether bad news for the Democrats is always good news for Republicans.

What I think it comes down to is whether it's better for Republicans in general to be in power and stay there, or for the Republicans to be met with the competition of a lively Democrat party. I definitely want to continue to win, I just wonder if it matters what we're winning against.

Which is exactly why I wish I had a pile of readers, because I'm certain many would have better insight on this.

My instinct is to think that more vigorous competition and close elections would be good for everyone, as it would normally be in a market situation for consumers. Dominance of one side would not normaly be good for consumers. But in the majority of races on the national level, in the House and in the Senate, when a seat is uncertain, it seems like the safest path to reelection is bringing home federal funds and working toward power in Washington instead of working on new or innovative ideas.

With safer seats and power in general, would the Republicans act more like Republicans are supposed to? Because so far I haven't been totally impressed with the size of government. I'm really hoping that further gains for the Republicans will lead to faster change and not complacency.

I suppose until I know, I'll follow my heart and keep rooting for more failures and jokes from the Democrats.