Archive for April, 2014

The month of April, according to the folks over at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is Fair Housing Month.

There’s even a link provided by HUD that describes what the Fair Housing Act is. Officially known as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the Fair Housing Act basically bans a home seller or landlord from discriminating against a buyer or renter on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Originally, this post was going to be about the exceptions to this law. I was going to title this post “The Discriminating Discriminator”, but then I came across something bizarre enough to make me rethink my post. Something bizarre enough to share.

In 1988, an amendment was added banning discrimination against anyone with a handicap. Seems simple enough. The law even goes into detail as to define “handicap”. Title 42, Section 3602, paragraph (h) of the United States Civil Code (USCC) states:

(h) “Handicap” means, with respect to a person—
(1) a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities,
(2) a record of having such an impairment, or
(3) being regarded as having such an impairment,

Again, seems simple enough…until you read the Notes section for this part of the USCC.

The Notes section states, in part, that “neither the term ‘individual with handicaps’ nor the term ‘handicap’ shall apply to an individual solely because that individual is a transvestite.”



Who was it that ever thought being a transvestite was a handicap akin to a “mental impairment”?!?

Oh…up until May of last year, the bible of the psychological profession, the DSM-IV, thought so. The latest version, the DSM-V, has removed “gender identity disorder” as a mental illness.

Here’s another thought. Since someone took the time to put those Notes in the USCC, I wonder if there was ever a moment (after 1988 but before May 2013) when a transvestite attempted to buy/rent a home and the seller/landlord refused. Then, did this transvestite file a complaint claiming discrimination because of his “disability”. Hey, it was defined in the DSM-IV as a “mental disorder” so here was the transvestite’s one opportunity to use that moniker to his/her advantage. In the court case that followed, did the judge rule for the transvestite, which then prompted legislators and/or HUD officials to add the Note.

There’s a story here. Just wish I had the time to ferret it out.

Read Full Post »

I can only start this post off by saying that Japan – like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s description of the rich – are very different from you and me.

I’m old enough and cynical enough to not be surprised that there is a website whose membership are people trying to have extra-marital affairs. Husbands and wives have had wandering eyes since marriage became a social institution. So, no, the fact that a company like Ashley Madison exists is not enough of a thing to make me write about it. (Side Note: Now that I have had to search for Ashley Madison on this computer for this post, please excuse me for a moment while I erase my browser’s memory lest my wonderful wife accuse me of ill). However, the fact that over a million citizens of Japan have become members of Ashley Madison in less than nine months is an item of note. You can find the full story here. Japan is now the fastest country to reach the one-million membership mark. The United States took a year and Brazil took ten months. I had absolutely no clue that the Japanese were so interested in coveting thy neighbor’s spouse, but according to the linked story, “There is a tradition of wealthy men taking mistresses in Japan and its male-dominated society has provided plenty of outlets for married men to find casual sex.” Just to make my eyebrows rise in surprise again, the story ends with this observation, “…84 per cent of Japanese women in the survey believed an affair worked as a plus for their marriage.”

A follow-up question I would have is “How?”

From love (or lust) to employment, comes this news from the island nation of Japan that their premier crime organization, the yakuza, have launched a web site with the purpose of increasing their membership. You can read the full story here. I actually surfed on over to The Onion to make sure that this wasn’t a fake news story that other news outlets had bought. Hey, it’s happened before! No, apparently it’s on the up-and-up that an up-and-coming goodfella can use his (or her) browser of choice and sign up to be made.

How many hackers working for the police do you think are trying to break into that website and see who is signing up?

I’ll finish up my tour of the weird tales of Japan with two words: bijinesu neiru. Translated as “business nail”, it appears to be all the rage among Japanese worker drones who want to be less dronish. You can read the full story here. I’ll just leave the story here without comment save for the thought that I would pay dearly to see Warren Buffet sport a bijinesu neiru.

Of course, the trend is not new and should have been named the Penn Jillette nail. Jump here to find out why.

Read Full Post »

Back when I was growing up, one of the activities a younger version of myself did was to engage in scavenger hunts. Yes, it may be hard to believe, but there was a time when parents actually allowed their progeny to go door to door, knocking on the doors of strangers in the neighborhood, and ask for objects from a list of items such as blue rubber bands or combs with broken teeth.

Nowadays, scavenger hunts – like most other things – have migrated to the digital world and the Internet. Instead of rapping on doors, participants in scavenger hunts now use cameras to take part in photo scavenger hunts. These are activities where the object is to capture on film (or pixels) certain visual imagery. You can have an outdoor photo scavenger hunt with your kids, participate with Cisco in a photo hunt at the 2014 Mobile World Congress, or take part with the folks who brought you the largest scavenger hunt ever (according to the folks at the Guinness Book of World Records) – which would be GISHWHES (which stands for Greatest Internet Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen).

In that vein of photo scavenger hunts, I would like to offer up the following images (free of charge) for anybody who would like to use them for a future event. All I ask is a credit. We’ll start with a picture of actor Nicholas Cage selling watches.


If you need a photo of melted store signs, this should suffice.


I’m not sure why this would ever come up, but the beauty of photo scavenger hunts is that the organizers can come up with some odd objects to find. So, if your list of photos to procure includes “An advertisement for the country of Andorra on a bus”, here’s your sign.


For my grand finale – and for an image that should be worth over 1,000 points in any hunt, I give you Beetlejuice in a Santa outfit.

DSCN5973Now go out there and snap some photos.

Read Full Post »

A Frozen Tundra of Theories

Earlier this week, I posted my thoughts about a theory making the rounds of the Internet about how the Disney movie Frozen is a conspiracy put forward by the House of Mouse to turn children into homosexuals.

Since the gentleman who floated that theory offered up no actual evidence for his rant, allow me to do the same and state for the here and now that Frozen is actually a movie that…

…teaches children the evils of the gold standard;
…is a stunning repudiation of the metric system;
…is a gateway studio to lure unsuspecting kids into Touchstone Pictures.

All kidding aside, let me show you what can happen when you actually offer up evidence for a crackpot theory or two. Here and now, let me state for the record (and with tounge firmly placed in my cheek) that the Disney animated movie Frozen is actually a promotion of misogyny.

As proof that this movie actually shows a hatred and dislike for women allow me to remind my reading audience that there are only three speaking roles for human females in this movie. There is Elsa, the older sister. There is Anna, the younger sister. Finally, there is Elsa and Anna’s mother, the Queen.

Of those characters, they are either killed outright (Queen), threatened with death (Elsa by orders of the Duke of Weselton and, later, at the sword of Hans, Anna by Hans’s refusal to help), or are killed but come back (Anna). Other than a dunking in water (Hans) and being exiled from Arendelle (Duke), there is no consequence for the murderous activity of any of the male characters.

So there you have it, my proof that Frozen is anti-woman.

Of course, there is also proof (read: reading what you want to see) that Frozen is an allegory of the story of Christ and is thus pro-Christian.

At the start of the movie, the audience sees Anna and sees how she wants to build things (such as a snowman). A carpenter likes to build things also and Jesus was a carpenter.

Jesus was tempted in the desert and Anna is tempted by Hans’s offer of marriage.

After Elsa goes off by herself and builds her ice castle on top of a mountain, Anna tracks her down and gives her a sermon on how she needs to stop the blizzard. Jesus also gave a sermon on a mount.

Anna comes to aid of a wrongly-accused woman (her sister) just like Jesus came to the aid of Mary Magdalene.

And now the coup de grace

At the climax of the movie, Anna is turned to ice and is therefore killed. However, she comes back to life through the power of love. Jesus also died and came back to life because as 1 John 4:8 states “God is love”.

So there you have it. With actual elements from the film, I can spin it so that Frozen can be both anti-woman and pro-Christian.

It really is too bad Mr. Swanson couldn’t have come up with any evidence to support his theory that Frozen would turn his daughters into lesbians. It would have been extremely easy (as I have shown above), but I guess that would have meant actual mental effort on his part.

Read Full Post »

One of my favorite comics on the web is xkcd.

In addition to its use of math, language, and sarcasm, this comic often introduces me to things in popular culture that I would not have tripped over on my own.

The popular block-building game Minecraft was on my radar thanks to xkcd.

This comic alerted me to the fact that there is a discussion about a replacement value for pi.

Also, the genius of Randall Munroe was my first inkling that there was a game called Kerbal Space Program.

With the above being said, xkcd has now brought me awareness about the game 2048.

This game, 2048, has now become my new addiction. It is simple and maddeningly tought to put down.

I am, however, happy to state that I was able to create the 2048 tile. Yeah, me! My high score stands at 20,264 (there’s your number for the day). How’s your 2048 score?

But now, the game hits my pleasure center by daring me to uncover the 4096 tile. Curse you, creators of 2048!

Read Full Post »

A Hate Frozen in Bias

I’m going to start this post with a story. At the international school that my trio of children attend here in Bangkok, my middle child, Jared, has a foreign language teacher that he cannot stand. Jared finds this teacher to be unfair, capricious in his punishments, and unhelpful when asked for advice. At first, I thought my middle child was being his usual stubborn self, but after a few interactions (i.e., back to school night, parent-teacher conferences, emails), I can verify that Jared’s teacher is rude, paranoid, obnoxious, unable to hear criticism, and basically should find another method of employment. Because of my new-found attitude toward this teacher, I now view everything this teacher does through the lens of my own dislike for him. In all subsequent electronic correspondence with this teacher, I now read his words with his sarcastic, defensive tone, which colors my emotions of what the teacher is trying to convey. I realize that. I understand that. I try to modify my displeasure towards this teacher, but it’s tough.

My displeasure towards this teacher taints his input and so the output I take away is sullied by my bias. It’s coming to the point where the teacher could say, “Jared is fantastic”, but I would read that praise as ironic.

I understand this issue is mine and I need to work on it. An article I recently read in BBC News showed me that I am not alone in allowing my hate to bias me, but at least I’m working on it. The same cannot be said for Kevin Swanson.

When I first read this article on the BBC’s website, I at first could not convince myself to click on the link to read it. I simply could not comprehend that anyone would go so far as to say that the Disney movie Frozen had a “gay agenda”. You can read that story here.

Well, I finally did click on it and it was even worse than I thought.

Kevin Swanson, a talk show host, makes the claim that not only is Frozen part of a conspiracy to turn kids gay, but that this movie is “…evil, just evil.” Oh, but why take my word for his word when you can leap on over here and read selections from his diatribe.

If you’ve read Swanson’s comments and if you’ve read the BBC News article, you notice that Swanson offers up absolutely no evidence for his allegation that Frozen promotes homosexuality. None. So, with no evidence to back up his claim, where does Swanson’s claim come from?

It comes from the same place where my displeasure for Jared’s teacher originates. It comes from bias.

For someone who is so biased against gays (as an example, this article makes the claim that Swanson wants homosexual behavior criminalized), it makes sense that he would see everything in popular culture through the lens of his bias. Just like I read the teacher’s emails with my biased view against him, Swanson’s view of movies is colored by his bias.

That doesn’t make it right, it just makes it irrational.

I should lean into my irrationality and remember the words of Mark 12:31, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

I wonder if Swanson is aware of that passage.

Read Full Post »