Why Mandatory Labeling for GMOs is a Very Bad Idea

When I first wrote first wrote about anti-GMO activists (GMOers) fifteen years ago, they were just beginning to feed their Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) to the general public. Now a substantial percentage of the public has swallowed their nonsense. They’ve succeeded in convincing idiot politicians to ban them in several countries. They haven’t done as well in the US -recently several state referendums to force labeling have failed. But nannies never quit, and they’re still demanding GMO labeling. This is a very bad idea, for several reasons.

Like all nannies and conspiracy theorists, GMOers lie. Constantly, predictably, and compulsively. They have to, since there is no evidence that GMOs have ever caused any harm to anyone’s health or the environment.

Their favorite tactic is the Gish Gallop – spouting an endless stream of bullshit claims in rapid succession. If, like me, you’re foolish enough to debate a GMOer, every time you disprove one of their lies they’ll simply spew another one.

“GM Foods aren’t tested.”

“Actually, they are, thoroughly, before being approved. And there are more than 2000 studies that have found them harmless.”

“But all of those studies have been sponsored by Monsanto or The Government, which is owned by Monsanto.”

“Actually, 600 of them were completely independent.”

“But I have a French study on rats that shows it causes tumors.”

“Actually, that study, the only one that supports your position, has been thoroughly debunked. It was conducted by GMOers, using a very small sample size, on rats that are designed to be tumor-prone, with none of the standard double-blind protocols that are standard in legitimate studies. The journal that published it has retracted it.”

“But you can’t prove GMOs are safe.”

“Actually, you can’t prove anything is safe. That’s not how science works. What you can do is look for dangers, and when extensive testing doesn’t find any, conclude that it’s not dangerous. Can you prove that organic food is safe?”

(Ignoring the question…) But it made Indian farmers commit suicide.”

“Actually, the data doesn’t bear that out, let me explain. . .”

“Do you know you use the word ‘actually’ an awful lot?”

“Actually, that’s the first true thing you’ve said.”

Over the past twenty years, billions of people have eaten trillions of meals containing GMOs. Among all those people eating all those meals, GMOers can’t point to a single instance of anyone ever being harmed by them. Not one. The bottom line is there is no evidence, not even a little, that GM foods are dangerous.

Their ignorant activism is far from harmless. It is directly responsible for millions of deaths.

Vitamin A deficiencies are a huge problem in many parts of Africa. Every year it results in a million children to going blind, and causes a half a million deaths. One promising solution is Golden Rice, which has been genetically modified to provide the missing vitamin, and will be gifted to small farmers. It’s taken twelve years to develop, and still isn’t in use, because GMOers have been fighting it, including by destroying test crops. Each year of delay has cost a million lives and resulted in a half million more blind kids.

Affluent countries banning GMOs has resulted in hungry countries refusing thousands of tons of donated food. They’ve been scared into believing donations might contain GMOs, and those GMOs might get into the food supply, and that would make it impossible for them to export to countries that have banned them. Donated food and seeds that have been accepted have been destroyed by locals who have fallen for GMOer propaganda.

Here, then, are five reasons mandatory GMO labeling is a Very Bad Idea.

5) Given the safety of GMOs, it’s completely unnecessary. GMOers insist they have a right to know if their food contains any GMO components, but they can avoid them simply by buying food labeled Organic, which, by definition doesn’t contain GMOs.

4) No one is preventing voluntary labeling. Some food producers are already labeling their products as GMO Free. This not only provides information for the luddites, but makes it easy for rational people to avoid their products, to avoid contributing to the hysteria.

3) It would lend credibly to GMOer propaganda. “If they’re not dangerous, why are they labeled?

2) It would be enormously expensive. Corn, wheat, soybeans and other commodities are shipped and stored in bulk, mixed together from various farms. Seperating GMO and non-GMO commodities would require separate, duplicate facilities, which would more than double storage and transportation costs.

And the #1 reason: It would cater to the real motive of GMOers movement – destroying the market for good, inexpensive, healthy food. Here are a few quotes from movement leaders:

Personally, I believe GM foods must be banned entirely, but labeling is the most efficient way to achieve this. – Dr. Joseph Mercola, operator of the junk-science site Mercola.com

By avoiding GMOs, you contribute to the tipping point of consumer rejection, forcing them out of our food supply. – Jeffrey Smith, Founder, Institute for Responsible Technology

The industry’s not stupid. The industry knows that if those foods are labeled ‘genetically engineered,’ the public will shy away and won’t take them. – Jeremy Rifkin – a fear-mongering activist nanny who is consistently wrong about everything

The burning question for us all then becomes how – and how quickly – can we move healthy, organic products from a 4.2% market niche, to the dominant force in American food and farming? The first step is to change our labeling laws. – Ronnie Cummins, Director, Organic Consumers Association

Ignorance is easier to spread than knowledge – far too many people prefer sensational, nonsense claims to clear science. Labeling is designed to foster ignorance.

Let’s pick reality instead.

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Please Punish Us Some More

Most police temper tantrums result in one of us mundanes being murdered or maimed, but the latest hissy fit by NYPD has, much to their embarrassment, been a very good thing for citizens.

NYPD cops are now ignoring most of the trivial “offenses” committed by citizens. The numbers have been widely reported. Compared to the same week last year, citations for traffic violations are down from 10,069 to 587, a 94% decrease. Summonses for offences like public intoxication and urination went from 4,831 to 300, another 94% decrease. This week last year cops wrote 14,699 parking tickets; this week, 1,241. And drug arrests dropped 84%, from 382 to 63. Total arrests are down 66%.

That’s more than 27,000 fewer tickets and citations levied on citizens. In one week. 27k citizens were able to go about their business, peacefully doing whatever, without having their day ruined, their wallets raided, or their rights infringed.

Please, please, punish us some more.

The NY POST loves loves LOVES the police. A cop could rape a baby in Times Square, then eat the corpse raw, and The Post would find something praiseworthy in the story. One of their early headlines: “Crime Wave Engulfs New York Following Execution of Cops.” But despite this “crime wave” everything is functioning normally in NYC. There has been no rise in actual crimes, i.e crimes with victims.

 

Most observers in Ferguson said the protests were peaceful until the cops started attacking the crowds with tear gas and threats. Nashville cops took a very different approach. They treated the protesters calmly and respectfully, even serving them snacks. When a citizen wrote to the police chief, Steve Anderson, and criticized his peaceful handling of the situation, he responded with a long, thoughtful letter than explained his vision of a cop’s job. He wants his cops to be Peace Officers, instead of Law Enforcers. His letter went viral, and was highly praised by everyone who chews with their mouth closed.

In the year 2013, our officers made over four hundred thousand vehicle stops, mostly for traffic violations. A citation was issued in only about one in six of those stops. Five of the six received warnings.

That is some fine police work. In most cases a warning for a traffic violation is going to be just as effective in changing behavior as a ticket. It’s not necessary to suck a chunk of money out of someone’s budget for them to get the point. We could use a more cops like him.

 

This is a teaching moment for NYC Cops. Although their snit was inspired by childishness, rather than any desire to improve the lives of the communities they infest, there is a slight possibility they could wake up and realize they’re the ones creating most of the problems they’re “solving.” If they take just a moment to listen to our response to their slowdown, they could finally start to understand what citizens want from the police. It’s not complicated, or unreasonable.

We are tired of being treated like criminals and revenue spigots for the sole purposes of fattening the public coffers and making cops feel manly. We are tired of seeing lives ruined, or ended, by aggressive, unaccountable police.

We want cops to at least try to protect us from Actual Bad Guys who hurt and defraud people. We want to see the murders and rapists and thieves locked away from us. And we want to see cops who commit monstrous crimes punished as thoroughly as citizens who commit minor ones. Start doing that, officers, and you’ll start actually deserving the respect you demand.

Will they take it to heart? Probably not. They haven’t stopped harassing us because they know the policies are wrong; they’re pouting. When their tantrum subsides, as all tantrums do, it’s more likely they’ll gleefully return to ruining people’s days, and sometimes lives, over trivia. Hell, they may even ramp it up to make up for lost time.

But it’s a teaching moment for us, too. We’re all learning just how unnecessary these intrusions into our lives are. We’re seeing how life improves dramatically when cops back off. We’re seeing exactly what happens with fewer cops bothering us over stupid crap – everything gets better.

It’s a start.

Update: The NYPD continued their slowdown for a second week. The New York Times has responded by reaffirming their love of Big Brother. They are furious at the cops for refusing to harass New Yorkers for trivial offenses. The title of the editorial is “No Justice, No Police.” Shaking down citizens is, in their opinion, justice.

They could have pointed out that another 24k NYC citizens went about their lives peacefully, without being harassed for trivia. They could have concluded that this proves the primary purpose of the NYPD is revenue generation, not protection. They could have talked about the fact that no one was strangled by cops for some minor crime.

Instead, they said labeled it as “a reckless, coordinated escalation of a war between the police unions and Mr. de Blasio and a hijacking of law-enforcement policy by those who do not set law-enforcement policy.” They call it a “deplorable gesture.” The refer to it as a “madness [that] has to stop.”

I looked for the by-line, expecting to see it was written by some well-known boot-licker, but it lists the authors as “The Editorial Board.” The entire board is appalled at the increased freedom NYC citizens are now enjoying.

I hope everyone on the board gets a traffic ticket on the way home.

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Cameras On Cops Won’t Change Anything. Here’s Something That Could.

For the past couple of years I’ve been obsessed with stories of cops murdering and maiming citizens and never being held accountable for it. The scenarios are always the same, and have happened literally thousands of times:

A cop maims or murders a citizen who was doing nothing wrong, or perhaps suspected of some minor infraction.

The cop is given a paid vacation while the police investigate themselves.

The local news covers the story, and often gleefully vilifying the victim. The mainstream media ignores it.

The “investigation” determines the cop acted appropriately, and he goes back on the streets.

It often ends there, but if there is enough public outcry, the prosecutor may send the case to the grand jury. Grand juries, who are famous for indicting nearly everyone brought before them, almost never indict a cop. The cop goes back on the streets.

In the extremely rare case where the cop is indicted, a jury that includes people with ties to the police nearly always declares him not guilty. The cop goes back on the streets.

In the extremely, extremely rare case where a cop is convicted, he is given a pathetically light sentence.

After the cop is cleared in one of these steps, there is an inevitable civil suit. Civil courts are not controlled by prosecutors, so the victims (or their surviving family members) usually win, and six and seven figure judgments are common. In every case, the money is paid by the taxpayers, not the cops who caused the damage.

This scenario has been played out thousands of times. Each incident reinforces what cops already know: they can do whatever they want with no fear of recrimination. The odds of them ever receiving any punishment, regardless of the egregiousness of their crimes, are so small they are virtually non-existent.

I’ve been waiting, for years, for the mainstream media to cover the story of these thousands of murders and maimings. It finally happed with Ferguson, which is unfortunate, because the facts of that case are not clear-cut (partly because the police have intentionally obfuscated them). However, the cases of Eric Garner and John Crawford are clear-cut – the cops murdered those men. And the grand juries, of course, cleared them of any wrongdoing.

This has been going on for decades. It appears to be escalating, but we can’t be sure. A twenty-year-old federal law requires police departments to report such incidents to the justice department, but most cops ignore this law the same way they ignore every other law. The only things bringing these incidents to light are citizens with video cameras, recording the events in often-horrific detail.

Obama wants to spend a quarter of a billion dollars to put cameras on every cop. Cop cameras have been implemented in a few jurisdictions, and seem to have a slightly calming effect on testosterone-infected officers, but not enough to make a significant difference. It’s common for the cameras to “malfunction” just moments before a cop goes Rambo on a citizen. More importantly, cops don’t appear to care about video evidence. Why should they? Clear and convincing videos proved the cops murdered Eric Gartner and John Crawford, but it didn’t matter, not even a little, to the fate of the murderers. They’re still free.

Changing the system is a pipe-dream. Cops are the violent arm of The State, and The State will do everything it can to protect them. Prosecutors will do everything possible to exonerate them. Grand juries will keep setting them free. It’s simply not possible to create effective change in the tens of thousands of jurisdictions in the US.

Citizen review boards are toothless, and a waste of time. All they can do is make recommendations, which are summarily ignored.

Calls for police to pay for their own liability insurance, which would become unaffordable after a large judgment or two, sound workable, but the police unions will never allow it.

Special state or federal prosecutors, assigned to handle police violence, sound like a good idea. But they’d still be an arm of the state, and are unlikely to make any real difference. The most we could hope for would be a couple of extra convictions before they become as complicit in the violence as the rest of the system.

But there is one thing that could dramatically reduce police violence, rather quickly.

The Supreme Court created the legal doctrine of “qualified immunity,” which removes personal responsibility from violent cops and transfers the liability to the local government. Removing qualified immunity and making cops financially responsible for the judgments against them, would cause a rapid change in police interactions with citizens.

Currently, cops have no reason to fear any repercussions for their actions, no matter how egregious. Making them personally responsible for civil judgments would give them a powerful incentive to act like peace officers, instead of the unaccountable standing army they’ve become.

Imagine what would happen the first time a cop has to sell his house and vehicles, empty his bank accounts, and liquidate his pension to pay off a multi-million dollar judgment.

Police all over the country will howl. They’ll claim it will make cops hesitate before gunning down one of us, which could get them killed. They’ll set up a crowd-funding site to mitigate the damage. (Officer Wilson made over $400k for shooting Brown. The head of the organization that raised the money was also the prosecutor in the case.) They’ll preach about how dangerous and vital their job is, and how nobody on the outside can understand it.

The second time it happens they’ll do the same. And the third and the forth times as well. But when the count gets higher, when a dozen of their brothers in blue have been impoverished for their violence, they’ll realize that things have finally changed, and now, for the first time in decades, there are consequences for their brutality.

They’ll think twice about conducting a 4 a.m. SWAT raid on a citizen’s home based on the claims of some unreliable informant. Maybe they’ll cancel it completely. At the very least, they’ll make sure they’re at the right address. They’ll pause before smashing someone’s face into a concrete wall. They’ll take a moment to consider alternatives to emptying their guns into one of us. They’ll try to come up with a peaceful solution to a situation, instead of immediately escalating it into a violent encounter. Hell, they may even shoot fewer dogs.

The most violent gang in the country will have no choice but to chill out a bit, quite a bit, and we’ll all be safer than we are now.

And the good cops, the ones who really do try to protect and serve? It will have no effect on the way they do their jobs.

A side benefit will be a reduction of public anger. The marches and protests we’re seeing are the direct result of cops getting away with whatever they do. Seeing them actually punished will have a strong calming effect on the community. It would be great to see bad cops go to jail, but since that’s not going to happen, we may be satisfied seeing them living in ratty apartments and driving a twenty-year-old beaters for the rest of their lives. Imagine the joy of seeing the cops who murdered Kelly Thomas becoming homeless themselves.

The beauty of this solution is the ease of implementing it. We don’t have to change a broken, unfixable system, or spend billions of dollars on solutions that won’t change anything. All we have to do is eliminate the qualified immunity doctrine. Simple. Straightforward.

And very, very satisfying.

 

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Farewell, Sammy

With the possible exception of a few human beings, dogs are the finest creatures on the planet. Having a dog makes life much better, so losing a dog makes life much worse.

I’ve shared my life with lots of different dogs, and every time I’ve lost one I’ve cried like a toddler. I’m crying as I write this, because I just lost the best dog I ever had, Sammy.

JillandSamedited

Before Sammy we had Jenny, a rescue Black Lab we adopted when she was about a year old. She had a sweet disposition, but obviously had been abused. We never hit her, of course, but if you made quick movements around her she’d flinch, always.

Jenny was diagnosed with cancer, and given only a few weeks to live. My father-in-law, Art, went to a supermarket where someone was giving out black lab puppies. They were a compromised litter from a breeder. An unknown dog had broken into the kennel and impregnated Sam’s mom, so she gave birth to a litter of mutts. We never knew for sure what mix of breeds he was. He was obviously Black Lab, but we think he had some Golden Retriever. Some people said he looked like a Flat Coat Retriever.

It would have been cruel to introduce a new puppy into the house during Jenny’s last days. Sam was Art’s dog for the month or so before Jenny made her final visit to the vet.

From day one, it was obvious that Sammy had more style and personality than most other dogs. He had boundless energy, and loved to run, especially to play fetch. One of his favorite activities was getting the morning paper. We’d look at him, say, “Paper?” and he’d run to the door, eager to get it for us. Several times we postponed canceling the paper (consistent delivery is well beyond the capabilities of the Times Union) just so Sam could have the pleasure of retrieving it.

He was a big dog, a hundred and ten pounds of mutt, and was aggressively friendly. He sometimes scared strangers, wanting to jump up and lick their faces, but most people immediately took a liking to him. He had several dog-friends in the neighborhood, and loved playing with them.

sam in the snow_small

He was so good-natured it was impossible to discipline him. You’d try giving him the stern Bad Dog Lecture, and he’d stare at you wagging his tail, delighted you were paying attention to him.

He had a strange reaction to riding in a car. While most dogs love it, sticking their head out the window, he dealt with it with resignation, laying down in the back seat and not paying any attention to what was going on outside. We never could figure out why.

His favorite thing was sticks. Big sticks, little sticks, but especially big sticks. The bigger the better. I once cut down a twelve-foot sapling in the yard, and gave it to him. He pranced around with it like he had just conquered the world. Whenever we went for walks he had to have a stick in his mouth. We referred to them as his walking sticks.

There is a paved path near our house, a very long stretch that used to be railroad tracks. It was his favorite place for walks, and when the weather was nice we took him there nearly every day. He loved the water, and the woods off the path provided him with streams to prance in. Another part of the path is lined with ditches that fill with water after rainstorms. He would get on one end of the ditch, run-splash to the other end, then turn around and run back, drenching himself in the process. We had a cupboard full of old bath towels that were “Sammy towels,” used to dry him when we returned home.

Strolling casually down the path while enjoying a fine cigar and watching Sam blast through every pool and puddle was a sublime pleasure. I don’t know which of us enjoyed it more.

He was well-known in the neighborhood, and in our whole village. We’d take him for walks through the village and everyone had to say hello to him. People we didn’t even know somehow knew him and would greet him by name.

He loved neckerchiefs. When we put a fresh one on him he’d prance around with a “Hey, Look At Me” attitude.

And he had a sense of humor. If he did something that made you laugh, he’d immediately do it again.

About a year ago, he started having leg problems. Our vet, Dr. Desiree Thibeault (a wonderful woman who has kept our various pets healthy for the past twenty years) said it was a problem with the joints in his hind legs not being connected quite right. We had to curtail his running, and be very careful with him. Since running was his thing, it wasn’t easy, but over time his leg got better.

About a month ago he got very weak and despondent. So weak he couldn’t walk. My wife, Nona, sewed a stretcher for him and we took him to the vet. The vet said he was bleeding internally, probably from a ruptured growth on his spleen, and his weakness was due to a very low red blood cell count. She kept him for a couple of days, then sent him home with meds and instructions to help nurse him back to health.

His recovery was slow, but after about two weeks he was getting better. We celebrated Thanksgiving early, and when we had a house full of people last Sunday he was almost perky.

And then he went downhill. Walking because more difficult for him with each passing day. The vet had told us to feed him liver, lightly cooked, as a source of iron. I have never cooked anything so disgusting – it was like frying a slug, and stunk up the whole house. When he first came home from the vet, he loved it, but as he got sicker, he refused it. He had no interest in the dry dog food he’d been eating for years, so I made him different things to try to get him to eat. Greasy cheeseburgers. Scrambled eggs with ham and cheese. turkey left-overs.  Sometimes he’d eat, but more often he’d just turn away from the plate.

I’ll spare you the details of his last couple of days. Describing them would be gross and unpleasant and unnecessary. Suffice it to say we knew he was bleeding internally again. Yesterday it became apparent he was never going to get any better, so this morning we put a fresh neckerchief on him and took him for his final visit to the vet.

Thank you, Art, for picking out Sam for us. Thank you Desiree, for taking care of him for ten years. Thanks to all my friends and neighbors who made him the prince of the neighborhood.

And thank you Sam, for all the love and laughter and pure delight you gave us for a decade. I’ve owned good dogs, and great dogs, but you were the Best Dog I’ve ever had, and probably the last dog I’ll ever have. I’ve cried for every dog I’ve lost, but I’ve been crying longer and harder for you than I ever have before.

Farewell, my dear friend. You made our lives so much better, and so much more fun.

I will miss you forever.

 

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Herfing With The Smartenizer – Life, Liberty, and Proper Tea

I just did an interview on the Life, Liberty and Proper Tea podcast. We talk (and disagree somewhat) on source of rights, touch on understanding statistics, then move on to the subject of Nicotine Nannies, and how they’ve inspired other nannies with different causes. From there we discuss the joys and risks of tobacco, and why smoke filled rooms are a good thing.

Check it out.

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Michael Bloomberg Goes To Heaven

I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.   - Michael Bloomberg

 

Michael Bloomberg died and approached the Pearly Gates. Saint Peter looked up from a thick book, and said, “A lot of people have been looking forward to this moment, Mayor. Go right in.”

Heaven was loud. There was music playing in the distance to his left, and gunshots going off to his right. He turned right and started walking.

He soon reached a shooting gallery, and was appalled at what he saw. Hundreds of people were carrying guns, and shooting at targets at the end of a large field. The targets were moving, and on closer examination, he saw they were people. Saddam Hussein was there, along with Osama Bin Laden and Stalin and Mao and dozens of rough looking people he couldn’t identify. They were trying to dodge bullets, hiding behind rocks and sparse cover. Every time they ducked behind a rock it disappeared after a few seconds, leaving them exposed. As he watched in horror, a bullet hit Osama in the throat, knocking him over, as one of the shooters exclaimed, “Got him!” Osama screamed, then dropped to the ground. His body quivered, convulsed, and then he died.

Ten seconds later, he came back to life, shivered a bit, and then started dodging bullets again.

The tiny mayor had seen enough. He turned and headed toward the music.

It was some kind of festival, in a park that seemed to go on forever. On stage, Freddy Mercury was belting out a song. Behind him, Ray Charles was pounding the keys of his baby grand, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Duane Allman were trading guitar licks, and Keith Moon was playing the drums. The music was loud. Very loud.

The little man was watching the dancers who had gathered at the front of the stage, when Farrah Fawcett walked up to him. She looked like an angel. She held out an open box of cigars – Cuban Montecristo #2s – and said “Take One.” He hesitated, then declined. He noticed several people smoking them, filling the air with slightly bluish smoke.

There were waiters everywhere, passing out a variety of food, drinks, and smokes. One was offering everyone very, very large cups of soda.

He had seen enough. He stormed back to the gate where St. Peter was having a discussion with someone. “Peter!” he shouted. “I demand to see God right now!” Peter shrugged and snapped his fingers.

The gate faded, and Bloomberg found himself sitting in an office. The man behind the desk looked like a combination of George Burns, Morgan Freeman and Brian Dalton, with just a touch of Alanis Morrissette. He looked at Bloomberg and said, “What can I do for you?”

“I don’t mean to complain,” said Bloomberg, “But people are doing things that are just…not right.”

God leaned back, a trace of a smile on his face, and said, “Please, go on.”

“We need some rules,” said Bloomberg. “We have to help people make the right decisions. For instance, in New York City we didn’t allow dancing without a cabaret license.”

God said, “So you’d like to see some rules put in place? Very well.” God snapped his fingers. A sheet of parchment and a quill pen appeared on the desk in front of him. He looked at the quill and said, “Michael Bloomberg’s Rules.” The quill scratched across the top of the parchment, writing The Almighty’s words in perfect calligraphy.

“No dancing without a cabaret license,” said God, and the pen danced and wrote The Lord’s command. He looked up and said, “What else?”

“No alcohol served without a liquor license.”

“Done,” said Jehovah, and the pen moved across the page.

“And no tobacco in public places, it’s disgusting. And no e-cigarettes in public either.”

“OK,” said God, and the pen did its thing.

“No loud music without a permit. And no guns. And no soft drinks bigger than sixteen ounces.”

God nodded as the pen wrote it all down. He asked, “Anything else?”

“That will do for now, I guess,” said Bloomberg.

“Ok, I’m going to add one more thing. These rules will be in force for one billion trillion years, sixteen eternities, twenty-seven forevers and eleven thousand years after that. I like David Bromberg.”

Bloomberg had no idea who that was, but said, “Thank you.”

“You are not allowed to bother me again until that amount of time has passed. Agreed?”

Bloomberg nodded.

God smiled. Well, smirked. Then he snapped his fingers. A lit Cuban Montecristo #2 appeared in his hand. He took a long drag, then blew the smoke in Bloomberg’s direction. Bloomberg resisted the urge to lecture God on the dangers of second hand smoke. Instead, he asked, “How soon will these rules go into effect?”

“They’re in effect right now,” God said. He took another long puff on his cigar, then held it up and examined it. “This,” he said, “This, is proof that I exist.” The office faded to gray, and Bloomberg was back in the park.

Nothing had changed. The music was still loud, the people were still dancing, and quite a few of them were smoking Cuban Montecristo #2s.

He was thirsty, and grabbed a bottle of soda from a passing waiter’s tray. The waiter stopped and grabbed it back. “Sorry, Mayor, but that’s a 17 ounce bottle. You can’t drink that.”

“OK,” said Bloomberg, “Give me a small one.”

“That is a small one,” the waiter said. “That’s the smallest we have here in heaven.” He walked away, laughing.

The band was still playing, and they were still too loud. But the music was great, and he found himself moving to it, just a bit. Suddenly, his feet froze to the ground and the rest of his body was locked in position. He had to relax completely before he could move again.

Another waiter walked by, with a tray full of single malt scotches. He pointed, and said, “I’ll take one of those.”

“Sorry,” said the waiter, “you don’t have a license.”

“I don’t need a license, you idiot, you need the license.”

The waiter laughed and moved away quickly.

Other waiters passed, carrying trays full of  forbidden foods. He made several attempts to grab some, but his fingers always closed on empty air while the waiters laughed and laughed.

He searched the crowd for Ferrah, and finally found her. “I’ll take one of those,” he said, pointing at the cigars. She laughed at him.

“Now you can’t have one, Mr. Mayor.”

“But everyone else is smoking them. And eating things they’re not supposed to be eating and drinking what they’re not supposed to be drinking. Why? God said those rules would go into effect instantly.”

“Oh they did,” she said, still laughing. She held out her hand and the list appeared in it. She handed it to him. “Read it.”

He read it. When he was done, he looked puzzled. “I don’t understand,” he said.

She giggled. “Read the first line, out loud.”

“Michael Bloomberg’s Rules.”

She smiled at him, waiting for him to figure it out.

He figured it out. “Wait, you mean these rules are only for me?”

“Yes! Why should you spoil everyone else’s fun?”

Bloomberg heard laughter coming from all directions. He looked up. They were all laughing at him.

“Oh, one more thing,” said the angel, and she reached out and lightly touched his ears.

The music died. There was nothing left of it but a faint whisper, just enough to make him long to hear it again. But he could still hear the laughter clearly.

“Wait!” he yelled at the crowd, waving his list at them. “This isn’t fair! This isn’t what I wanted! I do not intend to be laughed at for an eternity!”

“Sixteen eternities,” Ferrah said, striking the pose that had once graced twenty million bedroom walls. “A billion trillion years, sixteen eternities, twenty-seven forevers and eleven thousand years after that. But there’s always Thursdays.”

“Why, what happens on Thursdays?”

“On Thursdays you’re a target in the shooting gallery.”

The laughter became unbearably loud.

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Wrong Thinking People Should Not Be Employed

I’m a strong supporter of gay rights. No, scratch that, I’m a strong supporter of human rights, and last I checked, gay people are human. I’m also certain that 90% of the problems in the world are caused by people who won’t mind their own damn business. How someone amuses themselves with their genitals is none of my business. Or yours.

But recent events have left me with…wait for it…a bad taste in my mouth. The movement has gone from reasonable demands for equal treatment to appalling demands that wrong thinking people should not be employed.

A review for those who haven’t been following the story: Mozilla promoted Brendan Eich, who co-founded the company, to the position of CEO. Six years ago, he contributed $1,000 to help pass California’s Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage. There was no evidence of him ever discriminating against a gay person, at Mozilla or anywhere else, but that didn’t stop activists from calling for his ouster.

The story went viral when OK Cupid modified their web site to lecture Firefox users about the issue, and suggest they switch to a different browser.

As a result of the growing pressure, Eich resigned from his position, and the company he helped create, after just ten days of becoming CEO.

Wrong thinking people should not be employed.

Then it was discovered the Sam Yeagan, the CEO of OK Cupid, donated $1,000 to a politician that was not only against gay marriage, but wanted to ban abortions and funding for birth control both at home and abroad. Shouldn’t Mr. Yeagan be fired too?

Meanwhile, in Portland, Chauncy Childs is preparing to open Moreland Farmers Pantry, where she plans to sell organic and non-GMO food to people who will eagerly play premium prices for food they imagine is magically better for them. Neighbors were delighted until someone visited her Facebook page and saw she left two posts opposing gay marriage. Two! There was no evidence she actually discriminated, or planed to discriminate, against gays, but she was a Wrong Thinking Person.  A boycott was announced, before she even opened the store.

Here’s one of her offensive comments:

Yes, I am a Christian. I believe the Bible. I do not support homosexuality or homosexual ‘marriage.’ Yes, I still love you. Yes, we are still friends. No, I am not judging you. No, I am not condemning you to hell. No, I will not let anyone bully you. But realize that name-calling and stereotyping those of us who stand for what we believe is exactly what you don’t want done to you.

While I disagree with her stance on the issue, that sounds pretty reasonable to me, especially, “No, I will not let anyone bully you.”

But that was offensive to gay activist Sean O’Riordan, who posted a YouTube video calling for a boycott before the store even opened. Chauncy responded by visiting him to discuss the matter. Sean agreed to take down the video if she contributed to a LGBT group. She kept her word, made the donation, and Sean removed the video.

Chanucy released a statement that said, in part:

We would like to reiterate our position that we will not discriminate against anyone in any form. We support diversity and anti-discrimination in all business practices. As a gesture of goodwill we donated $1,000 to the LGBTQ Youth program of the Equity Foundation in Portland. This program supports safe communities for LGBTQ individuals where sexual orientation and gender identity should not be the basis for social alienation or legal discrimination.

But even though he removed the video, Sean is still calling for a boycott. An LBGT group is now harassing vendors who are planning to sell their products in the store, vilifying them on a web page until they refuse to let Chanucy sell their products.

Wrong thinking people should not be employed.

When I buy a hot dog from a street vendor, I have no idea of his position on gay rights. Or abortion or the federal deficit or Obamacare or gun control or global warming or the inerrancy of the Bible. I don’t know if he’ll contribute some of the profits from my purchase to Pat Robertson or the ACLU or the NRA or Media Matters. More importantly, I don’t care, not even a little. It’s none of my damn business. I just want a hot dog. With mustard, relish and onions please.

Yesterday I did quite a few errands. I bought several things from several stores. I don’t know about the politics or religious beliefs or morals or life philosophy of the CEOs of the companies that made the products. Or the owners of the stores where I bought them. Or the clerks who rang me out. I’ve hired people to do varous jobs without checking their opinion on any controversial issue. I only care that they can fix the plumbing or paint the siding or get that damn website to look right. It never even occurred to me that I should refuse to hire them if their personal beliefs don’t perfectly coincide with mine.

I used to hold the position that gays should have civil unions, which would be the same as marriage, but we should reserve the word “marriage” for same-sex couples. Around ten years ago I was debating this position in a forum when someone said, “separate but equal is never a good idea.” He was right. I was wrong and changed my mind.

If someone digs up that old forum exchange, or earlier ones from before I changed my position, should I be prohibited from any good job, forever, because I once held an opinion that was not completely, perfectly, 100% on-board with the cause?

In discussions with people who oppose gay marriage, they’ll often combine the term “the gay agenda” with the phrase “being forced down our throats.” I seldom miss the opportunity to poke fun at their choice of words. But in the light of current events, it looks like they may be right. And I hate that they may be right.

Gay activists, you have a right to equal treatment. If someone is actively trying to case gay people harm, actually doing things with that in mind, you should be doing everything you can to oppose them, and I’ll be there offering moral support. But you most emphatically do not have a right to destroy someone’s life and livelihood because of their thoughts, which are none of your damn business. It is a vile and evil thing to do, and it’s going to cost you the support of people who once cheered for your causes.

People like me.

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