The immaturity of spanking

One of the most immature acts a person can commit is that of spanking as a form of punishment. Just consider what Ronald Kronenberger did to fellow adults:

An Ohio landlord and businessman charged with assault after police suspected him of spanking a tenant who owed him rent money is now being sued in civil court for a similar accusation by a mentally disabled man.

Mark Neace filed a civil lawsuit in Warren County Common Pleas Courthouse earlier this week claiming Ronald Kronenberger, 53, punished him “with a belt and paddle” on four separate occasions…

Neace volunteered at Kronenberger’s grocery stores in Waynesville, Ohio, 40 miles north of Cincinnati, from November to mid-December, according to his attorney, Eric Deters.

Kronenberger “would find any little thing wrong with what he (Neace) had done and would take him into the office and have him pull his pants down and hit him,” Deters said…

Kronenberger was placed into a diversion program in a Warren County courtroom earlier this month after he was charged with one count of assault for striking Jimmy Marshall, 29, on the buttocks in January, according to court documents.

Marshall, a former tenant of Kronenberger, told authorities he was hit by the man as punishment because he owed him $2,800 in rent, according to the Dayton Daily News.

The rationale behind what Kronenberger did and what so many parents do is exactly the same: he saw bad behavior and sought to correct it via physical force. The only difference between his actions and the immature actions of petulant child-like parents is that we have laws in place to protect adults. I guess we just don’t feel the same way about protecting children.


Atheists of Maine is going to be running a Hug-An-Atheist booth in Hallowell, Maine tonight for charity. If anyone is interested, swing on by Easy Street Lounge on Water Street. All the proceeds go to the Kennebec Valley Humane Society.


Keith Ablow is an old man

I’ve quite often written derisively about old people. This has frequently been misunderstood as a dig at people of advanced age. It isn’t. I don’t think Betty White is in the least bit old, despite the fact that turned 91 a couple of months ago. What I mean, and what I’ve always meant and always been clear about, is that an old person is someone who irrationally embraces things from and about his or her generation, whether products or ideals or values or gumption or whathaveyou, without regard to the reality of any of those things – all that matters to such a person is that these things were from (or at least preceded) his or her incidental generation. This is most often manifested not in a promotion of those things, but in a random denigration of younger generations and the different things they possess and that define them. For instance, anyone who grew up during the time when video games were also really growing up (mid/late 80’s and 90’s) probably had a friend whose parents wouldn’t let him own an NES out of some misguided principle (as opposed to some budgetary reason), yet he never seemed to be prohibited from having just as much TV or movie time as any other kid. This was generally attributable to the attitude of “I never needed those things growing up, so neither do you” or some bullshit like that. It was another way of saying this new form of entertainment was different and therefore somehow bad. Parents who did that were old, whether they were a couple of 24 year olds just starting out or if they were well-established business professionals in their late 30’s.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and everyone will understand what I mean by “old”, but I doubt it. Regardless, I’m going to push forward and talk about an article by old man ‘Dr.’ Keith Ablow. He’s an alleged psychiatrist who works for FOX Noise, and he’s no stranger to writing really stupid things, but his latest garbage is pretty astounding:

In Steubenville, Ohio two teenage boys— a 17-year-old and 16-year-old—are on trial for allegedly stripping a very inebriated and nearly unconscious 16-year-old girl naked, attempting to make her perform oral sex on them (although she could not even open her mouth), urinating on her, using their fingers to penetrate her and carrying her from one location to another, to continue sexually violating her.

The texts they allegedly sent one another when the girl heard rumors from friends about what happened to her while she was too drunk to be aware of it, or even remember it, are chilling. They refer to her as a dead body, gleefully recall humiliating her and contain degrading statements about all females being worthy of sexual degradation.

In one text, the 17-year-old, knowing he has been identified as a possible assailant, tells a friend that he might as well have raped the girl (not just digitally, but using his penis), given the possible consequences he could face…

Equally heartbreaking is the fact that no one helped the alleged victim, despite the fact that her plight was obvious to many people at the party where she was publicly stripped naked, before being carried away to the house where she was then allegedly brutally assaulted…

How could this happen? I believe American teens are in the grips of a psychological epidemic that has eroded much of their capacity to connect with genuine emotion and is, therefore, crushing their empathy…

Here’s one of those claims where one might expect a teensy, little, tiny, miniscule bit of huge, massive, overwhelming scientific data to support. Ablow doesn’t supply any, and there isn’t any out there anyway. He’s more of an opinion guy, ya know.

Having watched tens of thousands of YouTube videos with bizarre scenarios unfolding, having Tweeted thousands of senseless missives of no real importance, having watched contrived “Reality TV” programs in which people are posers in false dramas about love or lust or revenge, having texted millions of times, rather than truly connecting and having lost their real faces to the fake life stories of Facebook, they look upon the actual events of their lives with no more actual investment and actual concern and actual courage than they would look upon a fictional character in a movie.

(I realize he spends 5 rather lengthy clauses making it sound as though he’s referring to himself before he reveals that he’s still on about teenagers. He isn’t a good writer. Please re-read with that in mind, if need be.)

This really crystallizes why Ablow is such an old man. He begins his attack with references to two of the most popular communication outlets today, moves on to modern TV, then touches on another currently popular method of communication. If this was the early 90’s, he would have gone on about AOL and Hotmail, moved on to Jerry Springer, then railed against party phone lines. He doesn’t have a case to make. He just wants to shit on all the new stuff that he feels is leaving him behind in the world. He’s just being a dismissible old guy right now.

They are absent from their own lives and those of others. They are floating free in a virtual world where nothing really matters other than being cool observers of their own detached existence, occasionally alighting on one another’s bodies, in sexual embraces that remind them—for an orgasmic moment—that they are actually alive and actually human.

‘the fuck? Teenagers still sit together in school for the better part of 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. They still have jobs and play sports and do things after school. This isn’t some upside-down world where everything has changed in the course of a decade or two. Teenagers still do things commonplace of teenagers, even if much of what they do is facilitated by cell phones now.

What was once referred to as “the bystander effect”—a psychological phenomenon in which individuals in a crowd tend not to step forward to save a victim, is now an apt label for a large percentage of teens. They are bystanders in their own lives. They are bystanders to the lives of others. And just as they may stand by as a “friend” of theirs is brutally sexually assaulted, humiliated and degraded, they could stand by as forces of darkness gather to confront the American ideals of liberty and justice.

Again – ‘the fuck? I don’t know if the guy is just a fruit bat or FOX Noise has a reference quota for phrases like “liberty and justice”, but I’m going to ignore that last part; aside from, frankly, being entirely fucking stupid, it’s a non sequitur and represents little more than shitty writing to me, so it isn’t worth addressing. However, I will point out the fact that people of all ages from all generations have stood by and watched awful scenes play out – and with no more justification for their inaction than that possessed by those at the parties in Steubenville. No, there isn’t some lack of empathy suddenly emerging in society, showing up with special prevalence in those born after 1993. All we have are examples of terrible action and inaction from an extreme case that happens to be modern. Building an argument against an entire generation premised on an individual incident would lead us to believe that the rottenness of young people of the mid-1920’s was demonstrated with perfect clarity by the actions of Leopold and Loeb. That’s ludicrous.

I don’t trust Ablow. I don’t trust, first, that he’s nearly smart enough to form an argument worth considering very deeply. I’ve read and written about other articles of his and I’ve seen him on TV. I would need to be more familiar with him in order to outright claim that he’s stupid – that’s something I like to be careful to reserve for the right people: see Sarah Palin – but he doesn’t strike me as bright. Second, his entire argument reeks of old man smell. His motivation here seems to be little more than generational shitting.

Don’t be shy

People shy from frank and aggressive language in a lot of instances, but I think that’s sometimes inappropriate. For example, there’s this desire to engage in some sort of ‘respectful’ conversation with those who support ‘traditional’ marriage*, as if they deserve equal time and opportunity – despite overtly advocating to deny basic equalities and opportunities to gay people. I disagree with that desire. These people are blatant bigots and should be called as much.

Affording undue respect to scummy people like this is exactly the same as affording undue respect to a member of the KKK or some other racist organization. You lend validity to a view when you say it deserves a fair shake and a good listen. Don’t do that shit.

*I, of course, mean marriage as defined between one man and one woman in relatively recent times by, mostly, Western culture. I am not referring to marriage where dowries and goats are involved, as happened early on before our invention of particular gods.

The Universe is 13.8 billion years old

Findings from the European Space Agency’s Planck spacecraft have updated our knowledge of the age of the Universe:

Closer scrutiny of radiation left over from the creation of the universe shows the Big Bang took place about 13.8 billion years ago, 100 million years earlier than previous estimates, scientists said on Thursday.

The findings are among the first results from analysis of data collected by the European Space Agency’s Planck spacecraft, which is providing the most detailed look to date at the remnant microwave radiation that permeates the universe.

This relic radiation was first detected in 1964 and later mapped by two NASA spacecraft – COBE, launched in 1989, and WMAP, which followed two years later. With even greater sensitivity, Planck has picked out details of tiny temperature variations in the so-called cosmic microwave background.

The fluctuations, which differ by only about 100-millionths of a degree, correspond to slightly more dense regions of space, places that later gave rise to the stars and galaxies that fill the universe.

Interestingly, religion has still yet to yield any useful information about the Universe.

Thought of the day

I despise being sick.

The collapse of bigotry

Progress marches on:

A solid majority of Americans support gay marriage, capping a complete reversal in public opinion in less than a decade

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that a solid 58 percent of Americans support legalizing same-sex marriage, compared with 36 percent who believe it should be illegal. The findings represent nothing less than a stunning collapse of opposition to gay marriage: As recently as 2003, the numbers were reversed, with 37 percent favoring gay marriage, and 55 percent opposing.

As the elderly die off, religious adherence decreases, and perspectives and understandings increase in a shrinking world, the equal treatment of gay members and families of society has been on the rise. I would expect nothing less.

The fact is, one of the last times we saw anti-gay bigots come away with a significant victory was in my state of Maine in 2009. That was an off-year for elections and the spending by religious groups (especially the Catholic Church) was astronomical. They were able to organize effectively and take advantage of a relatively low voter turnout. However, they failed decisively in 2012 when Mainers made marriage equal. And why did this happen? Maine is an older, rural state, so while people die and the world shrinks, those effects are not massive here. What was significant, though, was that our generally non-religious nature was able to show through. There are no honest secular arguments against marriage for gay couples, and I think people recognized that. The integrity of secular morality was able to overcome the temporary dominance of religious ideology once a fair showing of voters happened.

If the courts don’t follow the 14th Amendment and the rest of the constitution soon, equality in marriage will still become commonplace anyway. It’s a matter of time.

Jellyfish Lake

Here’s a neat video about jellyfish that have evolved to utilize photosynthesizing algae that produce sugars, in turn providing food for the belled organisms:

These jellyfish are locked in a freshwater marine lake that formed within pieces of volcanic land that ‘sprung’ up in the Pacific; the lake filled in some 12,000 years ago as rising ocean levels reached its basin. Jellyfish Lake With no notable predators (sorry, sea anemone), the jellyfish have reproduced to incredible numbers (10 million by one estimate). They have faced huge die-offs over temperature differences and toxicity levels in years past, indicating that they are part of a fragile environment, but they are currently going as strong as ever.

As evolution predicts, these creatures have lost abilities no longer useful to them. Whereas many of their salt water counterparts are painful sons-of-bitches, the stingers on these guys are closer to being cute than harmful. This, luckily, makes it possible to swim alongside the jellies (and since every article and paper I’ve found on them takes care to note that 15 meters below the surface is a heavy layer of hydrogen sulfide, I suppose I’ll do the same – the stuff can kill you).

Visiting this lake is definitely on my bucket list.

I never get tired of this

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Maryland to finally fully outlaw murder

More states need to follow Maryland on this:

By a margin of 82-56, the Maryland House of Delegates voted Friday to ban the death penalty in that state. The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has pledged to sign it.

“To govern is to choose, and at a time where we understand the things that actually work to reduce violent crime, when we understand how lives can be saved, we have a moral responsibility to do more of the things that work to save lives,” O’Malley said at a news conference.

“We also have a moral responsibility to stop doing the things that are wasteful, and that are expensive, and do not work, and do not save lives, and that I would argue run contrary to the deeper principles that unite us as Marylanders, as Americans, and as human beings,” O’Malley added.

The only part of what O’Malley said that should unite us all is that the death penalty runs “contrary to the deeper principles”. That is, the death penalty is a form of murder. It is not self-defense. It is not during a battle or war. It is not justified – no more so than the murders committed by the people we tend to sentence to death.

Baltimore County state attorney Scott Shellenberger, a prominent opponent of the bill, said eliminating capital punishment was unnecessary, since Maryland’s current policy is judicious and one of the “most restrictive in the country.”

Since a law was passed in 2009, a judge can impose death in Maryland only if one of three factors exists: DNA evidence, a videotaped confession or a videotaped murder.

This marks what is, again, the only important factor here. It doesn’t matter if we are 100% certain that so-and-so killed someone. The death penalty is still nothing more than state-sanctioned murder that is only differentiated by mere process, not principle.

Good on you, Maryland.