What My Taxes Could Buy

In a previous post I lamented the total my family paid in state and federal income taxes last year and suggested that with that money I could have hired my own public servant. Extending that idea some I decided to search USAJobs to find out which civil servant that money would get me. Here are some of the positions whose pay grade fell within the total my family paid. Note that this cost does not factor in fringe benefits which for federal employees are borderline ridiculous to those of us who never worked outside of the private sector where even the coffee isn’t free these days. But since that’s tough to calculate and would overcomplicate this simple blog post, I’ll assume the cost of intangibles like fringe benefits is not more than 20% of salary. We are also not wealthy so a high level civil servant like a secretary of state is out of the question. Even Hillary’s speaking fee would take several years worth of taxes to pay.

So what would our taxes buy us if the IRS decided to let us hire directly*?

1. Security Guard -  I’ve never understood why you pay a guy so poorly to protect you and your stuff. Either pay him well so that he’ll take a bullet or don’t hire one at all and go with a security system, a well stocked gun safe or both. While I like the idea of having my own private security guard even a well paid one we could really use the help in other areas.

2. Wildlife Biologist – Cool! I’ve always wanted one of these. In fact I was one (sort of) in a previous life and have a lot of respect for those who choose this profession. There’s lots of wildlife on our property and I’m interested in getting more. The other day I took the dogs out for a run in the upper field and heard a bobcat in the nearby woods. The dogs took off after the howl but the cat was too fast for them and called again far enough away that the dogs went back to sniffing each other’s pee. Several species of snakes, birds and other critters call our property home, and I’m sure we could keep him/her busy. While it’s cool to have one on staff, there are other pressing needs. Still let’s not rule this job out just yet.

3. Aircraft mechanic – Let’s rule this one out right now. Although I do plan on getting my pilot’s license before I shuffle off this mortal coil I could really use a lawnmower mechanic more than an aircraft mechanic at this juncture.

4. Foreign Service Employee – I wanted to be one of these so bad at one time but Life got in the way – most likely for the best because my deep debilitating shyness often manifests as arrogance, likely why I washed out of the interview process. Still with our taxes I could afford to hire my own diplomat. I could probably also send him or her to Switzerland to intervene in the Iran negotiations by shouting Persian insults at the Iranian negotiating team. “A mouse should eat you!” That would make the New York Times front page.

5. IT Specialist – You’re hired! There’s nothing worse for a computer professional than troubleshooting your own gear when you don’t feel like it. I need an Apple Support tech just to handle the Wife’s Apple products, and one with networking skills could rewire my home network so that I didn’t need 3 hotspots just to cover my 2,000 square foot house.

Unfortunately the IRS won’t let us hire directly, but I recommend everyone look at their total income tax bill – not just the refund. You might be surprised at how much you pay. I’ll also admit that I’m a bit jealous over the pay and perks of civil servants. Until recently I didn’t even have the benefit of paid time off, so the idea of working one day as a substitute teacher and getting a $30k/year pension for life does inspire a hint of jealousy, but even more outrage.
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  • Before someone goes all freaky the above is satire. All taxes were paid and no public servants were harmed in the making of this essay. Satire used to be allowed in our society but over the past decades I’ve watched our freedom of speech get nibbled away by mice first on the Right during the Reagan administration then on the Left during the Clinton and Obama years. If you think I’m making this up watch a movie from the 1970s. The language is shocking and would never make it on screen today which is perhaps why comedy is dying in our country. Yes it is dying. Nothing made this century comes close to the humor of Blazing Saddles or Airplane! let alone earlier classics like The Pink Panther and A Night at the Opera.

Happy Pay Your Fair Share Day

Today is April 15th and for American citizens around the world it is the annual day of reckoning when all federal, state and local income taxes for the previous year are due. For conservatives and libertarians it is a day to despise but for liberals it is a day to celebrate. 49% of Americans do not pay any income taxes and benefit in many ways from the taxes paid from the 51% percent, so how you feel about today depends on whether or not you pay income tax.

My family is one of the 51% who does pay income taxes.  I know exactly how much we pay and we pay a lot. How much is that? Well without going into too much detail we pay enough to employ our very own government worker, one of America’s 22 million government employees. It would be nice if we could buy him outright. My grass needs cutting, some of the dogs baths and there’s always trees to fell in the forest. It would be great to have someone clean house or cook, activities that I usually end up doing after work.

I know I’m not the first to realize this, but if you don’t pay taxes why should you be allowed to vote? Shouldn’t those who actually have skin in the game by paying taxes elect those who create tax laws? We had a revolution with a slogan of “No taxation without representation,” perhaps the new slogan should be “No Representation Without Taxation.”

For more info on that idea check out this Forbes piece, worth it for the Benjamin Franklin quote you won’t see on a Toyota Prius anytime soon.

 

 

Gay Married Couples Subject to the Marriage Penalty

Having just finished filing the taxes for this family unit I got to wondering how gay married couples are handling the federal marriage penalty tax. For those who aren’t familiar, the marriage penalty is a tax on those who work, make roughly the same amount of money, and are married. Since the Feds now recognize gay marriage, this means that many gay professionals who get married now find themselves subjected to the same marriage tax that their straight friends are.

USA Today has a good breakdown on the Marriage Penalty for those who aren’t familiar with it. It notes, “For a single filer, this bracket ends at an income of $89,350. If you simply doubled that number to get the top amount for joint filers, you’d see $178,700. But, unfortunately, that’s not how it works. For 2014, the 25 percent tax bracket ends at $148,850 for married couples filing jointly. Thus, they find themselves penalized for their combined income.”

I’m not sure what the history of the Marriage Penalty is, whether it was an unintended side effect as more women joined the work force or whether it was intentional. Either way one thing’s for sure: the Feds are hooked on the Marriage Penalty income and won’t be changing it anytime soon. So to all those gay DINK couples, hope the fight was worth it.

Gander Sauce

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wants America to discuss race, not his paycheck I guess since he makes over a 1,100 the average hourly wage of his employees. Prince Charles records an appeal to Brits asking them to turn off the lights to help cut greenhouse gas emissions, then hours later takes an 80 mile helicopter trip that pollutes the atmosphere with over a ton of CO2 instead of taking a car that would have emitted a twentieth of that. Apple CEO Tim Cook likens Indiana’s religious protection laws to the Jim Crow laws that kept the races separate a half century ago, then continues to do business in China, Russia and the Arab world where gays are subjected to official state-sanctioned discrimination.

Starbucks CEO Schultz: How about hiring some African-Americans to your board and beefing up the number of women? Think of it as a cost saving measure since both women and minorities tend to earn less than equivalent white guys. And since you are so keen on progressive causes, how about setting the floor for your staff at $15/hr, an effort you not-so-progressively fought? Maybe then you wouldn’t have to not-so-progressively bust their barista union.

Prince Chuck – Helicopters are cool, especially when piloted by guys with British accents, so I can understand your desire to use one. Heck, I would if I could afford it, but then again I’m not a priest in the Church of Global Warming like you are. Now I know you’ve purchased carbon offsets but the average bloke can’t afford the expense of those indulgences, so he has to sit in the dark or suffer lukewarm tea if he wants to remain a member of the faith. If you truly believed in what you preached you’d stay put in Buckingham Palace waiting for mummy to keel over and using telepresence technology to attend all the enviro-weenie forums you champion. Perhaps you’d even forgo the palace and rent a cozy flat somewhere where you and Camilla could have tiny carbon footprints together.

Apple CEO Tim Cook – How can a gay man live with the knowledge that your firm regularly does business with regimes who oppress gays in their countries? How can you sleep at night when the employees of the companies that make your gear throw themselves off buildings if they can’t tolerate the slave-like pay and working conditions? Doesn’t the cognitive dissonance of championing leftist causes while benefiting from the suffering of your global workforce ever get to you? You have the chutzpa to attack a state where women can drive, and where gays don’t have to worry about being hung or re-educated.

It seems only fair that we hold these rich and powerful men to their own standards. The stupidity is going to keep on coming until we force those who demand one thing from a group of people “the public”, “Indianans” or “Americans” while refusing to hold themselves to the same standards.

Iran Nuke Talks 2015

A summary:

Best Argument Against Electing Hillary Clinton

Name her accomplishments.

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Red Barchetta Coming to a Road – and Sky – Near You

Starbucks Race Together – Forgive me for not wanting to be lectured to by a company with an all-white board of directors and a billionaire white CEO, one without locations in poor neighborhoods including my own. I don’t ask the Dali Lama for Italian Roast whole bean, and so I don’t see why I should be forced to talk to a harried twenty-something coffee-slinger about anything beyond wanting my coffee black.

The ISIS Attack in Tunisia – How many people have to die before we start seeing these attacks for what they are? Religiously motivated hate crimes by adherents of the “religion of Peace.” Sure the machete wielding guy shot dead in New Orleans was a Jehovah Witness, but he wasn’t passing around copies of the WatchTower as he killed people, was he? Terrorist apologists just don’t get that there’s a difference between killing someone because you are nuts and killing someone because you are nuts IN THE NAME OF ALLAH. It’s the difference between a white guy gunning down a black guy and a white guy shouting “N****r” gunning down a black guy. I had plans to visit that museum in the near future, and although I haven’t torn those plans up, I am realizing that the “safe places to visit list” is getting smaller by the day.

Ted Cruz – Ted Cruz is courting the Christian wing of the GOP. That worked well for President Huckabee 4 years ago didn’t it?

Israel – The Obama administration demands Israel commit suicide while allying with its mortal enemy. No surprise given Ayatollah Khameini and President Obama’s shared hatred of both the US and Israel.

The UK’s Green Party – Leader of the Green’s Natalie Bennett is promising to demilitarize the UK and evidently lives on a different planet, one without a Vladimir Putin partitioning Ukraine. If she does win in May, it will make it easier for Downton Abbey fans in the US to mount an invasion, take over the island and force creator Julian Fellowes to write a seventh season – one where Mary awakens from a dream to find her sister Sybil and husband Matthew at her bedside. The fans should be able to take the place over with a few pointed jabs and threatening remarks, that is if Putin doesn’t get there first, which given the recent Russian overflights of the UK may be soon.

Germanwings crash – Humans make mistakes. They make far more mistakes than the control systems that fly the planes, and there’s only so much we can do to protect lives from a pilot who wants to become one with a mountain. Has the time come for pilotless planes? It’s going to take courage for the first cabinfull of passengers to fly without a pilot but in the end it’s going to be the norm. Ditto driverless trucks, trains and eventually cars. Would I trust a fully automated car over my 18 year old kid? Damn right I would. I love driving but I have had too many close calls myself, and recognize that an automated driving system would be a safer driver system, and when that happens driving will become illegal (hence the Rush reference in the title.) The Germanwings crash is going to accelerate the discussion on the technology that could revolutionize our worlds this century. It’s coming and the sooner the better. I think…

BBC firing Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear – Please forgive my descent into British English, but F*** the Beeb, the bunch of spineless lefty nanny-state loving tossers. They’ll protect a pedophile like Jimmy Savile but not Clarkson whose political views tended towards the right in the UK (which makes him a moderate Democrat here). It’s one thing to discipline him for his misbehavior; it’s another to dog him for his populist beliefs. Well, the sooner Bennett wins the election, the sooner my comrades and I can take over the country and rest assured, the BBC license will be the second item on our chopping block (after that driving on the wrong side of the road business.) Let them grovel like NPR does here.

Head Transplants – My favorite hard Left science magazine wasted 2,000 words on this “what if.” I say wasted because the success of such a surgery hinges on the ability to meld one spinal cord to another. If we can do that, we can cure paralysis – and to me that’s far more newsworthy than worrying about the ethics of something that may not even be possible.

 

 

Shoutdown

We’ve lived under the Obama administration for 6 years, 2 months. During that time we have witnessed a world turned upside down, one where our allies are treated like our enemies and our enemies are courted. Alliances that can be measured in lifetimes have been ignored, such as the “special relationship” with the UK. Others like Israel have been actively undermined. Even the Canadians have suffered at the hands of this administration as it has pivoted to China and kept the Keystone Pipeline mired in indecision and red tape.

Russia annexes the Crimea, the first territorial annexation in Europe since the Third Reich. It assassinates and jails the critics of its leadership. It invades Ukraine and even shoots down an airliner full of Europeans without consequences. Russian propaganda broadcasts throughout Russia unopposed, developing an ultranationalism straight from a work of fiction or video game. Critics of this coddling are accused of Cold War era thinking, and the administration continues to engage with the regime even as the US people view it as the single greatest threat.

The Obama administration leaves Biden to negotiate the status of forces agreement with Iraq, wasting the blood and treasure expended during the Bush administration. Any physics student or poli-sci major can tell you that nature abhors a vacuum, so Iran takes over in the East and an Islamic Death Cult rises in the West. An ignominious Vietnam-like defeat would have been preferable as Obama wouldn’t have been able to interfere in the region as he has done so. No love letters to Iran and certainly no attempt to overthrow the only friend we have in the region.

Leading from behind a harmless loon is attacked in Libya, leading to a failed state in Libya and the death of our first ambassador in two generations. What difference does it make? Evidently none because there are no consequences for the man in the White House or his Secretary of State minion who orchestrated the affair, the latter of whom is measuring the Oval Office for drapes as the 4th Estate gives her a standing ovation.

In 2008 I worried we had elected Carter. It turns out we elected Nixon instead, although one with a press who would call modern-day duo of Woodward and Bernstein racist. When Nixon went to China the Right had no fear that he would sell out our country to the Communists, a political fact that made it into of all things a Star Trek movie. There is no such comfort with Obama’s obsession for a nuclear deal with Iran. The Mullahs can write any deal they want, chanting “Death to America” all the way to the Bomb.

The Obama administration took power, sneering at the apparent ignorance and failures of the previous administration. Yet this supposedly bright and intelligent group of people have done some incredibly stupid things, mistakes so bad they can only be made by extremely intelligent and ignorant people. Boko Haram in West Africa, al-Shabaab in East Africa, ISIS in North Africa and the Middle East, Iran and Pakistan in Middle East and Central Asia, Russia in Europe and Asia, China in East Asia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Argentina and Venezuela in Central and South America. All these actors are stronger in the world today than they were 74 months ago. America and its allies are all weaker thanks to the efforts of this narcissist and his administration.

Can America survive the next 22 months, and if it can, will it have any allies left?

 

The New Eco-Feminist Top Gear Unveiled

Zoe Williams writing at The Guardian on Top Gear calls for an “eco-feminist Top Gear,” “What would my Top Gear look like? Cool cars. Some cars that were not cool. Intelligent people saying things that were not facile. A vision for the future; a vision that baffled belief, a little like Tomorrow’s World, except, you know, just around the corner. Realistically, possibly, about to happen tomorrow.” And more than likely, one that no one watch because eco-feminists like Ms. Williams aren’t interesting and funny the way Brian James May, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson are.

The BBC, true to its lefist eco-feminist roots has responded with this ad for the new Top Gear:

Listening Is Still A Virtue

The Telegraph asks,”Why do do many middle-aged men feel so lost?” The answer? “...(R)eject that old, outdated part of the masculine code, which gave a sense of entitlement, a sense that men can go home, rip open our belts, pop open a beer, belch and be loved. We just don’t get away with that anymore.” Meaning become women. “Terry Real, a psychologist and the author of How Can I Get Through to You? Reconnecting Men and Women, thinks the time has come for men to readjust their sights. Our culture’s masculine code, he says, dictates that “men don’t need relationships, men don’t need to be connected, men don’t need to be heartfelt”. ” So put another way, become women.

If 25 years of marriage has taught me anything it’s this: the last thing a woman wants in the house is another woman. For as much as I read about women complaining about men, the only thing they hate more is other women. I’ve seen it in the workplace where men and women work in the same office and sense the office climate in different ways. The men see it like “The Office,” soul-deadening boredom punctuated by arrogant idiots trying to stroke their own egos. But women see the workplace as “Game of Thrones” where each compliment exposes weakness and every mistake becomes an opportunity for advancement.

One interviewee thinks like me. “For House, married and a step-parent, life is quite simple: being a man means to work and provide as well as being supportive to his partner. On the one hand he is a Real Man (very strong on boundaries, earns money); on the other, he is touchy-feely. His wife also works and he is supportive towards her and their daughter.” Damn right. I work full time, always have dinner on the table, clean house as well as the guns, and thawed the house well-head one frosty morning a few weeks ago. I enjoy making quiche almost as much as I enjoy cutting timber using a sharpened chain on my Husqvarna saw. Why limit yourself to outdated gender roles?

Since the 1960s Society has taught men masculinity is bad. I agree it’s not perfect. If I love my kid I’m going to hug or kiss them, and if that makes me look emasculated to other men then so be it. But to criticize men for expressing their masculinity is just as damning as telling women to stay in the kitchen. Society must allow people to express themselves and should not impose sexist codes of behavior. If a guy wants to wear makeup as one of my friends does, he should be allowed to. If a woman wants to rebuild a transmission in her garage in her spare time, then she should come to over and fix my truck.

I don’t think many women want men to express every emotion we feel. If men did I’m sure most women would be surprised at how boring we are. Most men are not seething cauldrons of emotion, and I doubt that women would appreciate living with one who was. Women might say they want that, but my experience finds they prefer to express themselves to someone else and don’t want to listen. That’s okay. I don’t think women and many modern men appreciate the joy of keeping one’s mouth shut, an underrated trait in today’s feminist-dominated culture.

The Council Has Spoken: February 20, 2015

Council Winners


Non-Council Winners


Has Putin Declawed Pussy Riot?

Russian Punk band Pussy Riot has released it’s first English song, “I Can’t Breathe,” inspired by the death of illegal cigarette vendor Eric Garner in a chokehold courtesy of New York’s finest. So two years after the bandmembers spent time in Russian jail with Putin on the cover of this week’s Economist headlined “Putin’s War On The West”, less than a year after Putin’s annexing The Crimea and likely within weeks of his pulling an Anschluss in east Ukraine, as well as his covert support of pro-Russian separatists throughout Eastern Europe, Pussy Riot has come out with a song critical of NYPD for choking a citizen to death.

The Daily Beast makes a critical note of the group, “It certainly says something that the group, with all that is going on in Russia and the Ukraine at the moment, feels the need to make their voices heard on an issue that’s confined to our shores.” Huffington Post is kinder, writing “The video, shot in Russia, shows (Pussy Riot members) Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina wearing Russian riot police uniforms and being buried alive. ‘We were realizing that Russia is burying itself alive in terms of the rest of the world. Committing suicide. Daily,’ Pussy Riot told BuzzFeed News.”

But the fact remains the video is in English and it is about an event that happened within the United States. Americans will likely miss the subtexts within the song that Pussy Riot claims attack Putin’s regime, and the Kremlin will likely see the video as targeted at the US  not Russia due to its subject and language.

So has Putin declawed Pussy Riot? It seems likely.

Council Submissions: February 18, 2015

Council Submissions


Honorable Mentions


Non-Council Submissions


What ISIS Really Wants

No, not the Isis from Downton Abbey who likely expired this week between Lord and Lady Grantham. The ISIS that is making the 7th Century cool to kuffars.

Graeme Woods piece in The Atlantic lays out what makes the group tick, and more importantly, how it fits with all the other groups that make up what we call Islam. It’s a one-stop shop that explains the difference between your friend who is a Muslim (and doesn’t want to behead you) and the devotees of ISIS who do. It reduces the complexity of extremist Islam to non-Muslims, and suggest ways to deal with it. It’s one of the best pieces I’ve read that wasn’t penned by Bernard Lewis. Here’s a brief sample.

Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.

So do yourself a favor and read the entire thing.

Update: Evidently lots of people have read the entire thing. The article has really split liberals into the realistic “these guys are who they say they are” sect against the politically correct “ISIS is not Islamic” group as represented by Obama and his sycophants administration. Asra Nomani, a Muslim, writes in The Daily Beast in defense of Woods, “But we, as Muslims, recognize every word in the Islamic State’s theology from teachings, ideas and interpretations we’ve heard through our approximately 50 years on this earth, from the living room chatter of “couch jihadis,” as one FBI agent describes “wound collectors,” to sermons, Facebook posts and Twitter messages.” Her article is titled “Will It Take The End of the World For Obama To Recognize ISIS As ‘Islamic’?” and argues that we need to view ISIS for what it is: an Islamic death cult. The article itself is worth reading in its entirety too.

Fifty Shades of Pathetic

My teenage son is being forced by his girlfriend to see Fifty Shades of Grey. I suppose this is payback for him taking her to see American Sniper, a movie that’s much more his speed. Although he’s old enough to see Fifty Shades, I’d rather he didn’t because I have serious issues with the relationship portrayed in the movie, and I know that kids his age are still quite impressionable. When I was his age The Story of O was making the rounds of the art houses and I remember seeing it and finding deep revelations within the movie. I saw it multiple times and it did influence my thinking about relationships.

Unlike The Story of O, I haven’ t read the book Fifty Shades of Grey nor will I see the movie. I am past the age where sex touches upon every waking thought and with age, I hope, comes wisdom. Here is what I am telling my son about Fifty Shades of Grey.

Submission Is Not Empowering; It Is Abuse. One of the aspects of movies like O and Fifty Shades is that I find particularly troubling is the idea that being submissive to someone is somehow good for you. In the fantasies portrayed in these movies the protagonists become submissive to their partners and are toyed with and dominated. Through this state of submissiveness they end up learning  about themselves, becoming better, stronger people in the process.

Half a century of life has taught me this is bullshit. The submission portrayed in these movies would in real life be viewed as a form of psychological and sexual abuse that would result in war crimes if it were practiced on prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. Everyone I know has suffered in relationships where they have been dominated by a partner at one time in their life, one who cut them off from family and friends, who controlled what they did, what they wore and even what they ate. This goes way beyond kinky sex, and although I’m not personally familiar with the BDSM community I do know people who are, and my understanding is such domination only occurs within the context of  the “dungeon” where it is limited and contained.  Samantha Field who happens to be a part of the BDSM community and sees the movie as abusive writes, “Fifty Shades of Grey does to its audience what Christian does to Ana and what my rapist did to me: it completely resets our expectations and what we believe to be acceptable… The danger in Fifty Shades of Grey is that it does what an abuser does: it makes us think that abuse is normal.”

At a time when young men are being viewed as potential rapists, the last thing I need my son to think is that his girlfriend really wants to be abused, or worse, think it’s normal for her to do the same to him. There are so many mixed messages in our culture, so many competing definitions of what it means to be a man or woman, that a story like Fifty Shades should be seen for what it is: a vehicle to make money by the author and movie studios, and one that will inevitably hurt people.

People are Fragile. It will take the people who suffer in these unhealthy relationships years, and sometimes even decades to recover. It’s almost like the people hurt by the their own personal Christian Greys are poisoned by them, and this poison takes a very long time to dissipate. Before they recover anyone they touch will have to deal with the poison left by the Christian Greys in one way or another. The loved one who come after will be forced to deal with the alcoholism and drug abuse that comes with the destroyed self-esteem. They will spend years, decades even (for the more persistent) rebuilding what their loved one’s Christian Grey did without care or thought long before. At the very least those with a basic level self-preservation will run – not walk – away from the victims of the likes of the Greys, fueling their own guilt.

A Real Man Empowers and has no need to dominate another in order to feel alive. Consider how pathetic it is for a billionaire like Christian Grey to feel compelled to dominate a young nobody like Anastasia Steele (Good grief I can’t believe I’m wasting words on characters named like those in a self-published romance novel.) What, doesn’t he have any flies to pull the wings off of or puppies to kick? In real life a man like Grey would easily become Carl Icahn’s bitch, and would inspire an entire generation of character assassins and short sellers the way Enron’s Ken Lay did.

A real man builds up his partner. Destroying is easy, construction is hard, but just as fleeting as an orgasm is, the love that is built through daily nurturing can endure a lifetime. Imagine if Grey was a real man who helped Steele become a fully actualized human being, helping her define and chase her own dreams. The book would have been completely different and likely wouldn’t have been a best seller.

Real Men are the ones who encourage their spouses to go back to school or to start their own businesses. Real Men are the ones who flood the mail with books from Amazon on the works of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and Galen Rowell when their loved ones express an interest in landscape photography. They are the ones who make sure there is endless half and half in the fridge so their loved one’s never miss having their morning coffee the way they like it.

A Real Man encourages without needing his own encouragement because he finds fulfillment in his creation, whether that is his career or his family (hopefully the latter). A Real Man’s character is evident through the success of his creation. Is his partner better off than before in all ways? Are his children well-rounded individuals who can grow outside their father’s shadow? Can his business survive without him at the helm? The answers to these questions are what separate Real Men from poorly written contrivances like Christian Grey.

Don’t Learn How to Live Your Life from Movies.  Movies are created for one reason only: to make money. We watch them for one reason only: to be entertained. Movies can inspire just as good music and good books can, but most movies, music and books are created to pay bills and consumed to keep boredom at bay. As science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon once noted “ninety percent of everything is crap.” This is just as true for movies, so it’s likely that his saying will apply to Fifty Shades.

If you want to learn how to live your life, look around you. I learned faithfulness from my parents and from seeing the lives of my friends ripped apart by divorce. There have been times where I thought long and hard about the suffering I witnessed, and from the care expressed by my mother for my father, but in the end I made the right choice. There are all kinds of role models; Hollywood or whatever it produces should not be one of them.

Romance Novels Suck. Men watch porn, women read it. Back in the day I tried to read erotica like Anais Nin and of course Ann Rice, but it didn’t work for me. Writing about sex is like trying to photograph music. I just don’t think writing and sex go together. Maybe it’s because I write for a living, I don’t know.

I’m sure the author could have written a better book by reversing the roles. Why make Grey the dominant? Isn’t the power he wields being a billionaire enough? How much more interesting the story would have been had the relatively poor Steele been the Dominant, the one holding a billionaire’s heart in her cold steel hands (Get it? Ana Steele, steel hands? This is why I write systems requirements) . What would she do with that power? Perhaps she would only come to realize the power she held in a sequel, and then there would be the books exploring her own morality. See? The mommys get their porn, the studios and author get rich, and Fifty Shades has a better chance of beating Sturgeon’s Law. Everybody wins!

It’s a Fantasy. Just because a person might fantasize about being dominated by a man like Christian Grey doesn’t mean they want to be dominated. It’s a fantasy; it’s not real. Truth be told people often do not want fantasies to come true. It’s one thing for their imaginations to run rampant, it’s another thing to have an emotional vampire like Grey appear in their lives.

Oh well. Telling an 18 year old boy about porn is like explaining water to a duck. I’m sure he’ll figure it out on his own…