Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This week's column ... as a wordle.

Or read the column as it was intended here.

What if we call it gay capitalism?

As I listened to the debate and subsequent vote over the marriage equality act in the New York state Senate on Thursday, I couldn't help but beam with pride as the “yes” votes were cast.

I thought lifting the ban on gay marriage was the right thing for the state to do and I was overwhelmed with emotion that 33 of the state's 62 senators agreed with me.

Yes, I realize that there are many of you out there who disagree and are dismayed at our state Senate. I also realize that this column isn’t going to change your mind. And, to be honest, I’m not one to gloat. But I would like to revel a bit in all the new possibilities.

For one, think of the new revenue streams that same sex weddings can bring into the state. I didn't like this benefit as a reason to pass the bill, but I think it's a great side effect of its passage.

I know we tend to forget what a draw it is, but Niagara Falls – despite its drawbacks – is still a world-class destination for travelers both foreign and domestic. And while I'm pretty sure the ship sailed on it being the “Honeymoon Capital of the World” quite some time ago, there's nothing to say we can't be the gay honeymoon capital of the world.

Same sex couples can get hitched in the Falls, book receptions, motels and spend massive amounts of cash here … on this side of the border. I'm talking about private dollars being spent on private enterprises.

Sad as it may seem, I'm thinking a reality show has got to already be rolling around in someone's head. Maybe they follow a specific couple. Or maybe they follow around a member of the clergy who specializes in gay marriage. I haven't worked the details out in my head yet, but Hollywood's got to be thinking of it.

A reality show based in Niagara Falls would have to mean more tourists, and as such, more revenue for hoteliers, restaurateurs, and the like.

And, like it or not, more weddings will eventually mean more divorces. While I certainly can't get excited about this, I can only imagine that divorce lawyers are licking their chops at the new opportunities.

And not just lawyers, but marriage counselors, psychologists, etc. Yes, the downside of marriage is profitable for some.

Again, these side effect benefits aren't reason enough to support gay marriage, in my opinion, but they might help make the concept more bearable for those of you who opposed the idea.

As for me, I'm just happy that gay couples can join in on the party that the rest of us were invited to … just by having been born straight.

Strangely, Thursday night I sat at my desk, listening to the arguments being made and the votes being cast, overwhelmingly happy for thousands of people I'll never meet.

I hope that those of you who disagree with the concept can set aside that difference and be happy for them, too. And if not, try to figure out a way to make a buck on it.

After all, the only thing more American than equality is capitalism.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

This just in: Cigarettes are bad for you!

The FDA announced on Tuesday that they will be making the warnings on packs of cigarettes bigger and more graphic.

I can't help but be reminded of an old Denis Leary bit about the warnings on the packs of cigarettes:
There's a guy- I don't know if you've heard about this guy, he's been on the news a lot lately. There's a guy- he's English, I don't think we should hold that against him, but apparently this is just his life's dream because he is going from country to country. He has a senate hearing in this country coming up in a couple of weeks. And this is what he wants to do. He wants to make the warnings on the packs bigger. Yeah! He wants the whole front of the pack to be the warning. Like the problem is we just haven't noticed yet. Right? Like he's going to get his way and all of the sudden smokers around the world are going to be going, "Yeah, Bill, I've got some cigarettes.. HOLY SHIT! These things are bad for you! Shit, I thought they were good for you! I thought they had Vitamin C in them and stuff!" You fucking dolt! Doesn't matter how big the warnings are. You could have cigarettes that were called the warnings. You could have cigarrets that come in a black pack, with a skull and a cross bone on the front, called tumors and smokers would be lined up around the block going, "I can't wait to get my hands on these fucking things! I bet you get a tumor as soon as you light up! Numm Numm Numm Numm Numm" Doesn't matter how big the warnings are or how much they cost. Keep raising the prices, we'll break into your houses to get the fucking cigarettes, ok!? They're a drug, we're addicted, ok!? Numm Numm Numm Numm Numm *wheeze*
Leary, one of my favorites, meant that bit to be sarcasm. Nearly 20 years later, he looks prescient.

Aside from thinking of Denis Leary's channeling of Nostradamus, I also considered how quickly parody cigarette packs would be up and running. Turns out, they already were.

Is there anyone out there that doesn't already know that smoking is bad? I can't help but think that the government is just totally out of touch. I also can't help but think that the government is attempting to regulate cigarettes out of existence. 
Looks, smoking is bad. People who do it are stupid. But we have the right to behave stupid. And anything we do will be used against us. 
If government is going to try to regulate cigarettes off the face of the earth, they should do the same with alcohol, fatty foods, sex, gambling and everything else I enjoy. And I pray to God they don't do any of those things.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Email: "Two people of the same sex just don't 'fit' together"

Hot off the email: (in response to this week's column).
Hi Scott,

               No, you don't know me.  Opinions are for everyone and yours don't count any more than anyone else's.  You already know that but I expect that you think yours are better.

               The problem with homosexual so called "marriage" is that it doesn't remain a matter of free choice once it's submitted for an "official" State policy and "legal" definition. You're right that the State shouldn't define such a "marriage".  The State should not even be considering such a thing as "legality" of homosexual "marriage".  Thinking people (if there are any) probably don't object too much to what homosexuals do in their private lives but they sure don't want to be told that they have to accept or recognize that lifestyle as a normal definition of what marriage should consist of.

               To me, "homosexual" means just what it says.  It's all about two people choosing what kind of sex they'll have, although it's a mystery to me what that could be.  After all, two people of the same sex just don't "fit' together.  This is NOT about civil rights because they're still free to choose that life.  It's NOT about religious standards either.

               It IS about the universal laws of nature which require a male and female to produce offspring (children) for posterity.  Two homosexuals cannot produce a thing under the natural laws of the universe.  I wonder why some people lose sight of this FACT when deciding whether homosexuality is "right" or "wrong".  The decision shouldn't have to go beyond this one universal law.
For the record, I don't think my opinion is better. But I do think it's right.

And frankly. more letters like this will only help the cause.

Beer week? Don't mind if I do.

Take a tour of Buffalo Brewing History this Saturday June 25th - 9:30AM! Tickets available though

Seating is limited so act fast to ensure a spot on this fun and historical adventure! Click the Buffalo Brewery Tours link above to reserve tickets. $50 ea. includes the following:

Tour Details

  • June 25, 9:30AM to 4PM
  • Bus departs Ulrich’s at 9:30 AM sharp, please be parked and ready to board the bus at 9:15AM 
  • 9:30 to 11:20. Buffalo’s Awesome Brewing History Tour.  A drive around the brewhood narrated by local brewery history expert Peter Jablonski.  A tour of the old Simon Pure facility narrated by William Simon IV himself!
  • 11:30- 12:30 Lunch at Gene McCarthy’s with Craft Beer Talk by Bill MetzgerMenu = Weißwurstfrühstück.  Talk “What is Craft Beer?”
  • 1PM – 2PM. Latitude 48 Hoppy Hour at Pizza PlantJump into the craft beer present with an IPA tasting at Pizza Plant of Sam Adams new Latitude 48 Deconstructed…   a new twist on Hoppy Hour.  Special happy hour pint prices.  Special Pod promo on draft card purchases.  Draft card raffle.
  • 2:30- 3:30  Rare Belgian Tasting. Mike is going to dig around in the far corners of his vast cellar at the Blue Monk and pull out some rare 750ml bottles for our tasting pleasure -$10 for 4 4oz samples. I can’t wait!
  • 4PM.  Zum Schluss @ Ulrich’s Tavernone of our local beer geeks will talk about the difference between the beer scene now and back in the day all while enjoying a no-host pint of lager or ale with some tidbits at Ulrichs. There may e! ven be a free sneak preview of the brew prototypes coming up o! ut of Community Beer Works some fine time in 2011.

Government has no role in marriage

Some people have no respect for the sanctity of marriage. They view marriage as something to horde and keep for themselves. To them, it’s a political football to be kicked around Albany — or  Washington, D.C.

There is no logical reason that I can understand why Republicans and Democrats should have the privilege of defining marriage, any more than they should be allowed to define the words “hope,” “love” or “commitment.”

If I believed for a second that politicians understood hope, love or commitment, I may be willing to consider their ability to define marriage. But I have little faith — another word I don’t want politicians defining — that elected officials understand any of these concepts.

There are several dictionary definitions of the word “marriage.” The one I tend to give the most credence to is: “The combination of two things into a new single entity.”

In the current debate over the word marriage, the question is whether it need be a union between a man and woman, or simply a union between two people. See, the state of New York decided a long time ago that marriage is specifically a union between a man and woman. And currently, there are 31 people in the state Senate who seem to want to keep it that way.

The latest census figures say that there are more than 19 million people living in New York. Scientific data says that one in 10 people is gay. Simple math, therefore, says that there are 1.9 million homosexuals in New York who can’t marry their person of choice because of 31 people who call themselves “public servants.”

I’ve always viewed marriage as a commitment between two people — and God. Marriage is a religious institution. Not a state institution. The only reason for the state’s involvement is to oversee the financial ramifications of the marriage, and as is far-too-often the case, the eventual divorce.

The state should be nothing more than a witness to a union created by the church. But as it is right now, there are 31 people objecting to what could potentially be 10 percent of marriages. Not just objecting, mind you, but vetoing them.

In my opinion, if a happy couple can find a church to marry them, the state should not stand in the way.
Many churches won’t want to marry same-sex couples. And I don’t have a problem with their hesitation or refusal to do so. They should not be forced to. They shouldn’t be barred from it, though, either.

Some would suggest that “marriage” be reserved for couples of a man and a woman, while allowing same-sex couples to have “civil unions.” These people are engaging in semantics, essentially creating the “straights-only” drinking fountains of the 21st century.

You may wholeheartedly disagree with me. That is certainly your right. I would suggest, however, that if you don’t want gay marriage, don’t marry someone of your own sex. And leave it at that.

You don’t get to tell other people what they can eat, drink or say in their own homes. We’ve finally reached the point where most of us have concluded that you can’t tell people what they can do in their own bedrooms, either. The next logical step is that we shouldn’t tell people who they can marry in their own churches.

Hope, love, commitment and faith are not things to be hoarded.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Taking joy in watching King James be dethroned

Growing up a Bills and Sabres fan, I've never had the opportunity to see my team win it all. And seldom do I even get to see my team in the big game. Sure there was that nice little stint in the 90s with the Bills, but for the most part, I find myself watching two teams I could care less about.

Certain life circumstances have caused me to follow baseball and basketball, too. In typical fashion, I've chosen loser teams in those sports as well. In baseball, it's the Washington Nationals. And on the hard court, it's the New York Knicks. So again, come the end of the season, I'm watching two teams I don't care about and usually, I decide to root for the team I dislike less.

Almost always, though, I'm rooting for a team instead of against a team. There are exceptions, however, as was the case in this year's NBA Finals. I have no love for the Dallas Mavericks. But an intense dislike – I'll stop short of saying hatred – of the Miami Heat.

Truth is, I only started watching basketball – even casually – a couple of years ago. And it was basically against my will. But I watched. And grew to not hate it. I moved over to full-fledged liking last year when I was taken to a Knicks game at Madison Square. Seeing the game up close and in person in one of the world's greatest arenas gave me an appreciation I previously lacked.

I watched with great interest last summer as “The Decision” played out on live TV. Any basketball fan knows what I'm talking about, but for the majority of you who likely don't, it was a live television special in which Cleveland Cavaliers all-star LeBron James announced he'd be leaving his hometown team and hightailing it to Miami in order to win a championship.

As a former Clevelander, I felt bad for my friends who still lived there and were fans of the Cavs. Surely, for them, they felt deserted by “King James.” He left his fans in search of a championship ring. Understandable, I suppose, but it was just another blow for Cleveland, who in so many ways is just like Buffalo.

So it was with great intensity that I watched the NBA playoffs this year, hoping to see LeBron James get his comeuppance. Surely, God would not reward a traitor such as him.

With the Knicks knocked out in the first round, my only real pleasure could come from Miami losing. But rounds came and went and Miami was still in it, besting Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago to make it to the Finals. And I got nervous.

In the end teamwork and true character won out over talent and ego.

Watching Miami lose game six to Dallas wasn't nearly as enjoyable as it would have been to watch the Sabres win a Stanley Cup. But it was pleasurable, nonetheless.

Sometimes life's grand pleasures escape you and you have to enjoy the little ones all that much more.

For right now, schadenfreude will have to do.  

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Dilbert nails it ...

GOP attempts to tie Weiner's indiscretions to other Dems

I got a letter from the NRCC this afternoon railing on three New York Congressmen, including Brian Higgins, for taking "tainted money" from the apparently aptly named Rep. Anthony Weiner. The letter (full text below) demands that they give the money back.

For the life of me, I don't know what makes the money "tainted" other than the fact that it was at one time held by Weiner, who, although he showed horrible judgment and a general lack of morals, has broken no laws. Is it tainted because Weiner is basically an idiot? If that's the case, is the GOP claiming that they only take money from smart people? Better give all that Sarah Palin money back. Are they claiming that they take money only from people of good moral standing? Anyone out there who ever got cash from Newt Gingrich better throw themselves on the alter and ask for forgiveness. I can't help but wonder how many Republicans Arnold Schwarzenegger campaigned with in the past decade.

No, this has nothing to do with intelligence or morals and everything to do with the GOP trying to tie popular Democrats like Higgins to people the GOP thinks are toxic. They did the same thing with Kathy Hochul and Nancy Pelosi. How'd that work for them?

If the Republican Party would spend more time governing and less time trying to bring down Democrats, they might actually accomplish something. The "wisdom" and "leadership" at the NRCC these days is completely rudderless. No direction. No clue. No thanks, GOP. Isn't it time for you to go away yet?

Will Owens, Bishop and Higgins Continue to Silently Condone Weiner’s Unacceptable Behavior?  
Good Afternoon, Reps. Bill Owens (NY-23), Brian Higgins (NY-27) and Tim Bishop (NY-1) find themselves deeply exposed to the scandalous Anthony Weiner story which grew to historic proportions yesterday.  Combined they’ve accepted almost $20,000 in tainted campaign cash from the web-surfing and picture-Tweeting Congressman. 
In news I’m sure you didn’t miss, Rep. Weiner came clean after lying about inappropriate pictures he posted of himself on Twitter. Despite Weiner’s stiff denials at the outset of the scandal, New Yorkers now know the hard truth about his bizarre behavior.  
This question remains: Will Owens, Higgins and Bishop return Weiner’s tainted campaign contributions?  
Please consider the following comment from the NRCC as you cover the downfall of Weiner and everybody it touches: “Anthony Weiner’s New York colleagues find themselves between a rock and a hard place.  Owens, Higgins and Bishop should return this tainted cash and stop supporting the Democrats’ bulging spending habits.” – Tory Mazzola, NRCC Spokesman  
Included below is additional information on the money received from Rep. Weiner, as well as these members’ history of returning tainted campaign cash.  
Tainted Campaign Cash from Weiner 
Bishop $10,000 
Higgins $4,000 
Owens $4,000  
Tainted Campaign Cash from Rangel 
Bishop $15,000 / All returned 
Higgins $11,000 / ??? 
Tory Mazzola 
National Republican Congressional Committee 
Twitter: @ToryMazzola

The circle of (food) life ...

I’ve gone through periods of my life where I eat very healthy. Those periods, however, are the exception — not the norm.

I grew up with four food groups, where things were “part of a complete diet,” or something like that. It was the nutritional standard from 1956 until 1992. There was meat, dairy, grains and fruit. Pretty simple. Even I could understand it.

But the year I left for college, the USDA went and gummed up the works, trading four food groups in for a food pyramid consisting of grains, fruits, veggies, dairy, meats and sweets.

This mattered none, however, because the college I went to had the best food. Seriously. And it was all you could eat, so I couldn’t care less what step of the food pyramid it was on.

After graduation, we were lucky enough to have money to afford food at all. And quickly thereafter there were only two food groups: Baby food and adult food.

The whole food pyramid was kind of complex, in my opinion. And never really caught on. It certainly didn’t in my household.

Actually, my household is an anomaly. I’ve joked with my kids for years that just about everything is good for you. For example, “Coffee’s good for you. It’s got vitamin C in it. The C stands for coffee.” Likewise, bubblegum has vitamin B in it, and so on.

Fortunately, my kids are smarter than me and ignore me when I say stupid things like that.
In 2005, the food pyramid got revamped into “my pyramid,” with the same basic info, but presented in a manner which was much less easily digestible. It was like the government didn’t want us to understand nutrition.

Last week, they ditched the pyramid altogether, thankfully, replacing it with “my plate,” which looks a whole lot like a pie chart. But don’t call it a pie chart. You’ll upset the USDA. Plus, pie is not a food group ... even if I think it should be. It’s got vitamin P, you know?

My plate shows that about half of what you eat should be fruits and veggies, with a slightly higher percentage being veggies. The other half should be grains and proteins, with again a higher percentage being grains. And then off on the side, there’s a separate circle for dairy. So we’re almost back to the four food groups, except they gave fruits and veggies each their own group. It’s five food groups. It’s much easier to understand than a food pyramid, that’s for sure. Maybe food pyramids would make sense in Egypt ... or parts of South America.

But this is America where everyone knows that circle gets the square.

For the life of me, I don’t understand why food doesn’t just come color coded at the grocery store. Green label means you can eat as much as you want (veggies, for example). Yellow label means eat in moderation (red meat, for example). And red label means eat very sparingly (Snickers bars). I mean, really, could it get more simple?

Well, sure it could. We could eat all of our meals through a straw like in the movie “Wall-E.” But that didn’t go so well for them.