Sunday, January 18, 2009
Guys like CJ extend the argument a bit too far in my opinion when they introduce transvestites &c. into the mix. I think you can divide the objections to people with "alternative lifestyles" serving into two categories. First is the effect on discipline. Second is the impact on the public's perception of the service. This second one is most easily overcome when it comes to the Navy. Nearly all sea commands these days are homeported in blue states (Kings Bay is technically not, but it's so close to Jacksonville that it might almost count.) and many of those are in or near major liberal strogholds (San Diego, Seattle, New York/Boston). While the Navy, like the other services, belongs to the whole country, public perception of homosexuals in those areas is certainly more neutral than in other parts of the country where you might find other major forts, camps, or air bases. As a result, the communities that would have to deal with integration would already mostly be open to it. This is a major ameliorant to the public image problem.
There is still a valid public image complaint against transvestitism. A man dressed up like a woman looks ridiculous if he doesn't make a good effort to pass as a female. If he does, well, I knew a mechanic who liked to go to Thailand every chance he got and he could tell you how effective the illusion can be. I think the problem is overplayed for the simple reason that you can't hide your physical gender from the military. It's not hard to tell what you are when you have to strip naked for a medical exam before you even start. It becomes nearly impossible to pull off a deception when your routine involves regular use of locker rooms and group showers. So if you have a cross-dresser in your outfit, he wears a male uniform. Period. If he gets off by going to a club in a wig and a dress on liberty, so what? I'm getting too far afield, so I'll wrap this part up by noting that these are extreme cases and not really valid test cases.
What about good order and discipline? I know that here in the sub force we needle each other with whatever we can find. We're professionals at it; it's what we do. When a new guy arrives we figure out what bothers him and then we poke him with it for fun. Since it happens to everyone, it's mostly good; it makes people feel like they belong. I don't know if women do this, but men definitely do. (If you take it too far it's called "hazing" and gets people fired.) What's my point? We're already a rabble. Adding a gay man into the mix just gives the guys another angle to try and poke fun at and if it fails then nobody notices the difference. If he's smart, he'll use his gayness as a weapon in similar attacks on his buddies.
One common objection stems from insecurity, I think. The reasoning is that just as we don't mix men and women in bathrooms and showers due to possible ogling or other harassment, we can't integrate gay men since they're attracted to us! Well, five minutes later I'll hear most of these people tell me that women shouldn't be offended at stares and complements, they should be flattered. Why can't straight men take the same approach? What makes you think you're even attractive to the average homosexual man anyway? If you look around the locker room after PT, you're at least as likely to be rewarded with nasty fatbodies as you are with fit guys anyway. So your gay crewmate is probably not that into you anyway.
I think back to my underway time and I remember that we're the community that plays "gay chicken" to kill time on watch. Most of us probably wouldn't care if the sailor next to us likes to be called Sally in his spare time as long as he knows where the nearest CO2 bottle is in a fire. So yes, I think the submarine force is ready for the change, even if the rest of the military might not be.
My revised playoff goals were finished last week. First thing was that I wanted the Colts eliminated (modern rivalry). Next, the Chargers (personal animus against Ladanian Tomlinson). Finally, the Giants (grudge from SB XLII). So here are my unbiased, uninformed picks for the championship round:
NFC: Cardinals 14, Eagles 13.
AFC: Steelers 21, Ravens 14.
Let's all hope baseball season comes soon.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Fortunately we have elected a man made of sterner stuff. He will surely not be afraid to do as much work as is necessary.
The best thing about living in the White House would be running around like a maniac. The thing I would like least is the work.— Holly Wong, age 9, San Francisco
The truth about Area 51 is already public. A team of three brave special forces soldiers singlehandedly exterminated the alien menace arising there, saving the human race from certain destruction. The documentary still plays in bowling alleys, skating rinks, and laser tag arenas everywhere.
Good job on winning. I heard about Area 51. I wanted to ask you if there are any U.F.O.’s there. I think that you should tell people in public the truth about Area 51. You would just maybe say, “That we will take care of it.” And do it.
— Edwin Jara, age 9, New York
I'm not going to rip on this kid for trying to help his family get jobs that are frankly tough and thankless. These are hard times and those of us who are employed are lucky in at least some small measure. The default answer these days seems to be begging for a bailout, so I applaud his parents for trying to get any work they can to make ends meet. I just want to say two things:
Could you help my family to get housecleaning jobs? I hope you will be a great president. If I were president, I would help all nations, even Hawaii. President Obama, I think you could help the world.
— Chad Timsing, age 9, Los Angeles
1) "Even Hawaii?" What's this kid have against the Aloha State?
2) Woe be it that our public schools can't even seem to get across the difference between other states and entirely separate nations.
So, from that we have a list of non-work-related things that have bothered me recently
1) Child beauty pagents. C likes "What Not to Wear" on TLC and on comes this ad for something called "Toddlers and Tiaras," which appears to be a look behind the scenes at these horror shows. (Wasn't this once the "learning channel?" All I see there now are makeover shows and exploitative reality TV.) Seeing these tiny girls painted up, dressed like pin-ups (at best), and gyrating (literally!) on stage is frankly nauseating. I have a two-year-old daughter and I am just dumbfounded to see that anyone thinks doing that to their children is a good idea. I don't care if that's what the child wants to do. You need to be the parent and say no.
2) All things Barack Obama. At this point, it's as much exposure fatigue as it is the man himself. Last week it was news every hour that they were having a rehearsal for the inauguration. You don't say? All of my colleagues out there who have ever been through any kind of ceremony know that at least one run-through is a given. Are we supposed to believe that the last one was unrehearsed? This is just one instance of the red-carpet mania sweeping the media this month. Now it's behind-the-scenes at inauguration catering. No, I don't care what they're going to eat. It's not news! I hate the red carpet when it's Hollywood; I am frankly embarassed to see in in our politics.
3) Lists that have fewer than three things in them.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Thanks also to Bubblehead for his plug. As to the commenter(s) over there who call me whiny, you go right ahead. Like I said in the beginning, this is an exercise almost entirely for my own benefit, and if I feel like venting about something then that's what I'll do. Those who find it interesting are invited to read it. Come to think of it, so are those who don't. Has it occured to you that I see my complaining for what it is and that's why it's vented here rather than out in the real world? Don't think I don't know that other people have it as bad or worse than me, but this is my story. If those others feel like sharing, they're welcome to do so here or on their own pages.