Archive for January, 2011

Obamacare Ruled Unconstitutional in Federal Court

by Jason Stotts

Today is a wonderful day and a cause for celebration.  U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson sided with 26 states in their argument that Obama’s socialistic push for control of healthcare was unconstitutional.  He agreed that the “invidual mandate,” aka the government’s right to coerce it’s citizens to buy the things it wants them to buy, was flatly unconstitutional, saying:

It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place. (via Slate)

I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Furthermore, he argued that since the individual mandate was clearly unconstitutional and that it was not severable from the bill itself, the entire bill must be null and void.

Of course, the battle doesn’t end here.  The president will certainly file an injunction and the case will go to the U.S. Supreme Court, where hopefully they will do the right thing and throw the whole mess out.

Nevertheless, today is still cause to celebrate the first really good thing to happen to that monstrosity and hopefully we an look forward to it being thrown out entirely, hopefully with social security, medicare, and medicaid along with it.

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Formspring: Sleep Sex

by Jason Stotts

In response to my request for questions the other day, a reader asks:

I’d love to see your thoughts on “sleep sex” aka sexsomnia. I think it raises some interesting ethical issues around consent, and I would just like to hear more about it from your perspective. Thanks!

Unfortunately, I haven’t thought much about this issue before and I don’t know that I have a whole lot to say about it.

My first thought is that you’re definitely right that it raises some interesting ethical questions.  From the perspective of the sleeper, the problem is that Ethics applies to voluntary actions and the actions performed while we’re asleep are certainly not voluntary.  Yet, by the same token, we are still performing actions.  For example, let us say that the sleep sex happens with someone who doesn’t consent, would this be rape?  Well, yes and no.  Certainly there was nonconsensual sex, but there was no intention to rape.  In fact, if both people had sleep sex, then what would we call it? I would oppose calling sex when one or both of the people is/are asleep rape, as in these instances calling it rape would serve to diminish the severity of the act of intentionally and forcibly having sex with another person without, or against, their consent.

This is a good place to bring in a distinction between voluntary, involuntary, and nonvoluntary action. Voluntary action is action that we choose to do and that has a consequence we will; as, for example, if you choose to do X and X is the outcome, then the action is voluntary. Nonvoluntary action is action that we choose to do, but that has a consequence that we do not will; as, for example, if you choose to do X and Y is the outcome, then Y is nonvoluntary. Involuntary action is action that you do not will; as, for example, if you do something accidentally or if you are forced to do something against your will. The distinction is important, because these kinds of actions are very different.

In sleepsex, it’s clear that the action is involuntary: given that the person is asleep, they are not choosing to have sex with the person.

From a moral standpoint, the sexsomniac must be considered morally blameless.  Unless, and this is an important caveat, he knows that he is a sexsomniac and does not reveal that information to a person who is (literally) sleeping with him.  If he knows that he is a sexsomniac and does not reveal it, then he is blameworthy because he should have revealed to the person that he has been known to have sex with people in his sleep and that if they did not want this, then they should not sleep with him.  In this case of a sexsomniac who does not reveal this, it seems like you could hold them morally blameworthy and it could be considered to be some kind of lesser moral offense, perhaps “unconsensual sex,” as opposed to full blown rape, since they still are not choosing to have sex with the person.

From a legal perspective, sexsomnia is very problematic.  One could easily (intentionally) rape someone who was sleeping in the same bed and then claim that one is blameless, because it wasn’t voluntary, but was sexsomnia.  As a legal defense, then, it must be treated as improbable and it must be proven to be something that the person actually suffers from by independent doctors.  I would support a legal distinction between rape and some lesser crime, like “unconsentsual sex,” based on intentionality, like the distinction between murder and manslaughter.

It is interesting, though, that while sexsomnia is rather rare, the phenomenon of people doing things in their sleep is really not all that rare.  Many people talk in their sleep or sleepwalk.  The problem is that in these people, the paralysis that is supposed to keep us immobile during sleep is, at least sometimes, ineffective and this allows their body to be controlled by their sleeping mind.  There is also the opposite, where in some people they become conscious while still being under the effect of sleep paralysis, with the effect of them being completely awake and conscious, but unable to move or speak.  Frankly, I’d rather have sexsomnia than awake to find myself apparently paralyzed.

I hope this, at least somewhat, answers your question.

Additional questions can be submitted via Formspring or by e-mailing me directly at Jason(at)JasonStotts.com.

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Sex Tips #1: Pee After Sex

by Jason Stotts

I’m starting a new series called “Sex Tips” that I think will help people out in their daily sex lives. For anyone who already knows these tips, they may seem obvious, but for those of you who don’t know about them, they can be very helpful.

The first tip I have is to pee after sex.  This may sound obvious, although to some of you the purpose may not be.

Peeing after sex is very important, especially for women, as bacteria, as well as other things you probably don’t want in there, can get pushed into the urethra during sex and other sexual activity.  Peeing after sex clears out the urethra and can help reduce urinary tracy infections and bladder infections.  Now, obviously this is less important for men, since ejaculating helps with this too, but it is still helpful for men to pee after sex.

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House Votes to Repeal Obamacare

by Jason Stotts

In a welcome, but mostly symbolic, move, the US House has passed a measure repealing Obamacare.  I am certainly pleased that this happened, since Obamacare is the biggest push towards socialism since the New Deal and the most radical denial of individual rights yet, but I can’t help but to be somewhat pessimistic.  First, the law will never clear the Senate and, even if against all odds it does, it will get vetoed by Obama.  Second, the Republicans are not truly our allies or the allies of any reasonable person.  Although they posture as protectors of rights and this move was, in fact, consistent with that, they actually only care about certain rights: those that their god approves of.  Case in point: yesterday the Republicans also introduced two bills intended to ban abortion, at least through the universal healthcare system and, they hope, completely in the future.

We, and by that I mean Objectivists and all people of reason, need to remember that neither Democrats nor Republicans are, or could be, our allies.  We might be forced to cooperate against a larger enemy from time to time, but we can only truly be allies with those committed to individual rights and freedom and who are so committed as a matter of principle.  Let us hope that this push to repeal the socialistic advances by the Democrats succeeds and continues and that the Republics are not able to harness it into a vehicle for movement to theocracy.

Frankly, I look forward to a political party that is founded on, and committed to, the principles of individual rights and whose entire platform stems from these principles.

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Anti-Conceptual Mentality in Action

by Jason Stotts

I don’t usually talk about myself on my blog, because this blog is about ideas and not its author.  I also don’t usually talk about my part time job, because I’m not exactly proud of it.  However, something happened yesterday that was so funny I can’t help but to relate it to you, dear reader.

I work in the wireless industry and part of my job is to help customers that have problems with their phones. Well, yesterday a customer came in complaining that her new phone, that she just got, was not as loud as her old phone. I asked to see it, to make sure that the volume was as high as it could go.  It was at the max, which was 7.  I told her that it was as high as it could go.  She looked at me and, being completely serious, told me that her old phone was better, because it went all the way to 10, which was louder than 7.

I felt like I was having a Spinal Tap moment and if I wasn’t so sure she was serious, I would have thought she was playing a joke on me, but unfortunately she wasn’t.

As sad as it was, it’s a great example of an anti-conceptual mindset.  Since the number 10 is greater than the number 7, that must indicate that the old phone was louder than the new one.  However, those numbers are arbitrary and don’t reference any facts of reality.  If they had been set in a standard, like decibels, then it might have been a cogent thing to say.  But, because she could not look beyond the numbers themselves to the real underlying phenomena, she couldn’t understand what was really happening.

Just in case you’re wondering, I did look it up and, yes, the new phone had a higher decibel rating and was objectively louder.

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Secularism and Sex

by Jason Stotts

I’m posting a link to this survey from Dr. Darrel Ray, author of The God Virus, about sexual attitudes and ideas and beliefs in religion.  I encourage everyone to take his short survey so that the results will be more interesting and statistically significant (I can’t stand low N studies).  From Dr. Ray:

We are doing a groundbreaking survey on sex and secularism. We will collect data for a month or so, then shut it down and analyze it. Depending on what we find, we may publish it in a journal but it will definitely be used in my next book in some capacity. Here is the link:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PGHSWMW

This is a short survey about how your sexuality has developed over time and how it has changed in relation to your lack of belief in a god. The research is being conducted by Dr. Darrel Ray, author of The God Virus and Amanda Brown at the University of Kansas.

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Big Brother Warning: If you click on the Amazon link and purchase The God Virus, then I will be monetarily compensated.  So, help me out and if you’re going to buy it, use the link.

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Update:

As I was going through the survey, I came across this question: “Are there fantasies that you would be afraid to tell your partner for fear of rejection?”

I’m very happy to say that no, my wife and I have very open and honest communication and there’s nothing that we can’t talk about.  The question made me appreciate that fact and I feel sorry for those who do not have open and honest communication in their own relationships.  If you are in that kind of position, you should seriously consider taking the steps to move to a position where you can openly communicate with your partner.  Start small and be upfront with your partner that you want that kind of relationship.  Make an effort to be open and honest with your partner and your partner will likely reciprocate.  Opening yourself to your partner and showing them your deepest desires can definitely be a scary experience, but it is worth it and the kind of deeper intimacy you’ll gain from this will far outweigh any negatives that come from the actual process of opening up.

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Reminder: Formspring

by Jason Stotts

This is just to remind you, my loyal readers, that if you want to ask me a question and possibly have the answer appear here, you can go to http://formspring.me/JasonStotts and submit questions.  I’ll answer any kind of question, but would prefer questions of a philosophical or sexual nature.  You can also suggest topics you’d like to see me write about in the future.

If you want to contact me directly and in a non-public way, you can e-mail me directly at Jason(at)JasonStotts.com.  I try to answer all e-mails quickly, but I’m perpetually behind on my e-mail.  Don’t worry though, you will get a response sooner or later.

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Hugh Hefner

by Jason Stotts

Here’s a very interesting essay by none other than Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun Times about Hugh Hefner and the positive influence he’s had on our culture.

Many of you will find my comments deplorable. You may believe Playboy was the enemy of women. It objectified their bodies. It schooled men to regard them as sex objects. It stood for all that feminists fought to correct. There is some truth to that, but it doesn’t impact upon my experience, and the best I can do here is be truthful.

Nobody taught me to regard women as sex objects. I always did. Most men do. And truth to tell, most women regard men as sex objects. We regard many other aspects of another person, but sex is the elephant in the room. Evolution has hard-wired us that way. When we meet a new person, in some small recess of our minds we evaluate that person as a sex partner. We don’t act on it, we don’t dwell on it, but we do it. You know we do. And this process continues bravely until we are old and feeble.

Yes, Playboy presented women’s bodies for our regard. Yes, they were airbrushed and photo shopped to perfection. Not a blemish, not a zit, not one single chewed fingernail. This process of perfection doesn’t deny nature, it reflects it. When we meditate on the partner of our dreams, the mental image we summon is without flaw. We don’t dwell upon a pimple or a bad tooth or a little underarm fat. We meditate on the gestalt. We meditate on being accepted and loved by that wonderful person.

I think Ebert is refreshingly honest here, saying the kinds of things that we all know, but that many of us are afraid to say.

He goes on to point out that Hugh Hefner was also an early defender of civil rights:

His syndicated TV program “Playboy After Dark,” which he owned and controlled, showcased mixed-race singing groups and blacklisted performers like Pete Seeger at a time when networks enforced a ban on both. It also showed black and whites dancing together on a set supposed to be “Hef’s Penthouse.” Some stations in the south refused to carry it. The show went on the air not long after Nat King Cole’s show left NBC after failing to find advertisers who would buy into a “black” show.

In New Orleans, Hefner franchised one of the first Playboy Clubs, later to learn it was forbidden by law to mix black and white patrons. He bought back the franchise, and reopened it to club members of all races. It was in that club that a black comedian performed before whites for the first time in Louisiana (although black musicians were “legal”).

Ebert also talks about how Hefner is largely responsible for the kinds of sexual freedoms we have today and is also, at least partly, responsible for the freedom we have to look at and enjoy pornography.  It’s worth reading the entire essay and it is probably my favorite thing I’ve ever read of Ebert. I also think that Ebert is right about Hefner.  Although he certainly has his share of detractors, it’s hard to deny all the good he’s done, and I think that if people step back and look at the larger picture, they should be able to see that Hefner helped to make our country a better place.

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