I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

New house photos!

We've finally reached a point in our move where we've carted off the 5000 card board boxes that formed a maze in our living area and are able to take some photos:

 Our living room. Big skylights make the room feel bright and open. Pay no attention to the photos sitting on the floor instead of hanging on the wall.  

We picked the rug based on the colors of our cats... 

 We have a dining room! We can eat like civilized people instead of on the couch! 

 The deck as seen from the dining room window. The deck's bigger than our old living room.

 Our kitchen. When we bought it, there were no appliances and half the cabinet doors were missing.

 We plan to fill the long hallway with art and photos. Also, cats.

 The guest bathroom doubles as an art gallery.

 The guest bedroom. Oscar, the black and white cat, is stalking me as I take photos.

My office. And Oscar. He's ubiquitous. 

Look! Up on the wall!

The master bathroom, or parts of it, at least. 

The master bedroom. You can see the new bamboo floor we had installed. The ceiling fan is also new. Also, the white cat on the bed is kind of new. She was an outdoor cat at our old house who's very quickly figured out how to use furniture now that we've brought her inside. 

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Yesterday's Progress Toward Legalizing Gay Marriage

So, gay marriage advocates had a bad day in North Carolina yesterday. Or did they? Roughly 40% of voters came out and voted against an amendment to ban same-sex unions. 40% acceptance is a pretty amazing figure considering that 30 years ago, if there had been google, and if you'd googled the phrase "same sex marriage" you would have gotten probably zero hits. The idea was not only not being debated thirty years ago, it wasn't even a thing people knew would be a debate.
As much as same sex marriage advocates promote the idea as a fundamental human right, the reality is we are asking for a radical change in human thinking. We are asking society to officially sanction a relationship model that has never been accepted before recent decades. We honestly don't know what changes will come to society by adopting this new idea. I'm optimistic that most changes will be positive, but I'm also certain there are unknown unknowns.

For instance, gay marriage could have the perverse effect of eliminating homosexuality. Assuming that homosexuality is a genetic trait, it's being passed down from generation to generation. Until recent decades, societal pressures have forced majorities of homosexuals to hide their true natures. Countless homosexuals get married to opposite sex partners and have children. This keeps the genes for homosexuality in the genetic pool.

But, if homosexuals no longer enter into show marriages with opposite sex partners, economic forces will reduce the number of children they have, since reproducing will require surrogate mothers, sperm donors, etc. If gays aren't passing on their genes because they now marry same sex partners, we could see a decline in homosexuality over generations.

I obviously don't know that this will happen. It's difficult to make predictions, especially about the future, if I may borrow a phrase. I'm just saying that it's not irrational for society to be slow to enthusiastically embrace a change of this magnitude.

But, one prediction I will make is that the future looks good for gay marriage. I just googled some stats. In 1988, the first year there were reliable polls on this issue, opposition to same sex unions was at 75%, and only about 15% were in favor. Today, nationally, the issue is very close to 50/50. North Carolina is part of the Bible Belt, so it's not surprising that it's 40/60 here, unless the surprise is that 40% of the citizens seem ready to say yes to the idea after so few years of the topic being in the public debate.

Assuming that 5% of the population warms to the idea each decade, even NC is only 20 years away from a tipping point. Anything that can be made illegal by a vote can be made legal by a vote. I recognize that, if you are gay, you have good reason to be disgusted and angered by the thought of having to wait another 20 years for legally sanctioned marriages in North Carolina. I would encourage you to turn this anger into a positive energy. Think about all the "vote against" signs you saw in people's yards over the last month. Momentum is building for your goals.

Are there bigots out there standing in your way? Yes. But you don't need to change the opinions of bigots. You need to change the opinions of ten to twenty percent of people who oppose same sex marriage out of simple momentum. You need to appeal to their hearts and minds, make your case that what you want is a positive change not just for you, but for everyone. Advocates have made astonishing progress in only a few decades. Keep moving forward. We've evidence that minds can change. Our greatest weapons in this war are reason and time.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Why Gay Marriage is Good for Straight People

Tomorrow in North Carolina, we go to the polls to vote on an anti-gay marriage amendment that would prevent the state or any business within the state from recognizing same sex marriage or even civil unions. Gay marriage is already illegal by statute. The amendment, say defenders, is to keep activist judges from imposing gay marriage on the state against the will of the people.

I'm going to be voting against the amendment. For me, it's mainly an issue of fundamental fairness. Marriage isn't just about procreation, it's also an important societal creation for helping people deal with finances as well as illness and death. I've personally experienced the turmoil of losing a beloved partner who I wasn't legally married to. Laura became ill with cancer when we were dating, and after that we were so focused on fighting the cancer that we never really stopped to make plans for the future. Her family was wonderful in giving me a say on most of the end of life decisions and the funeral arrangements, but there were still a few issues left dangling due to the fact that we were never legally married. I at least had the option, however unrealistic, of marrying Laura. Imagine being in a similar situation of losing a loved one and being told that the state was going to prevent you from forming a legal union. It just seems needlessly harmful, even spiteful, to withhold this legal sanction from someone simply because you find their partner to be of the wrong sex.

However, I find it unsatisfying to simply appeal to emotion to make a case for a matter of law. It's not that emotion has no role to play in law, but I'd prefer most laws be grounded in reason. So, here are some non-emotional arguments for how allowing gay marriage can benefit straight marriage.

1. As capitalism and evolution teach us, competition is good. Gay couples might have an incentive to build storybook marriages that other people envy. Just as people turn out in former dictatorships to vote at amazing rates, gay people long denied marriage might approach their unions with a special enthusiasm and dedication. This could provide an example for straight couples, who, let's face it, often seem a bit jaded with marriage. Maybe trying to live up to a gay standard could help lower the overall divorce rate of straight couples. This could keep more children in two parent households, which is a major force for fighting poverty.

2. As long as we're talking about economics, as someone who has been wedded in the last 12 months, I can testify that weddings and honeymoons are excellent economic stimulus. If we legalized gay marriage tomorrow, I bet the revenues generated from all the pent up demand for legal marriages could drive economic growth up a point or two. Wedded couples are also likely to go out and buy a house together. They save money together, have health insurance together, and are generally statistically less of a burden on society than single people. Gay marriage, in both the long and short term, would be good for straight people's wallets.

3. It would increase morality. Perhaps you disapprove of homosexuality. If so, do you also disapprove of sex before marriage for straight people? Do you think that sex should be between monogamous couples with the sanction of church and law? If you allow gay marriage, you are helping take a step away from the counter culture, anything-goes sexual morality that took hold in the sixties and seventies and is so ubiquitous today that no one bats an eye if two unmarried opposite sex people live together. Suddenly, you have homosexuals singing the praises of life-long, covenant monogamy. Since homosexuals are frequently drivers of popular cultural trends, marriage could suddenly be the cool, rebellious lifestyle that all young people aspire to. Again, straights win!

So, if you're thinking about voting for the amendment tomorrow, please take a few moments to reconsider. You might be standing in the way of better marriages for everyone.