Truer Words

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"The equal protection clause is therefore, by its nature, inherently countermajoritarian. As a logical matter, it cannot depend on the will of the majority for its enforcement, for it is the will of the majority against which the equal protection clause is designed to protect."

This was written in the "Concurring and Dissenting Opinion by Moreno, J." in today's CA Supreme Court ruling on Prop 8. From my brief read-through, he seems to be concurring with upholding the validity of the existing marriages, but dissenting with upholding the ban on future ones.

I don't want to get into this topic as a whole, because I have a lot to say, and not enough time to do it right now. But here's a link to the decision (in .pdf form). Just search for "Concurring and Dissenting" to find Justice Moreno's opinion.

The one important thing to remember here is that the court was ruling on the validity of the amendment - not on the amendment itself. So headlines saying the court ruled to uphold the ban are somewhat misleading. They ruled that the amendment was lawfully and correctly enacted by the people. Now, it's beyond me to say if this was the correct ruling in this case, so I won't even try. Just keep in mind what exactly they were ruling on.

This is, after all, the same court that overturned the "law form" of this issue a few years ago, because it was unconstitutional. And one day, we will be past this dark time in our state's history. I can only hope that it comes sooner, rather than later.

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The Mirror

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"Pssst. Hey, you. Over here. Come here for a moment. I've got some advice for you. My name? You want to know my name? Of course, I should've known you'd ask. Been watching you for a long time now... but my name? My name is [redacted].

Oh, so that grabbed your curiosity. Knew it would. So, you've got a few minutes to hear me out? Wonderful; I think this will be good.

I know all about you. I know your struggles, and your triumphs. You've had more of the latter throughout your life, haven't you. In fact, you haven't had many struggles at all... isn't that right? Look, it's good to take what life gives you, and to make the most of it. But you want in on a secret?

Life isn't just going to hand you everything. You won't always get lucky, and have these wonderful things fall into your lap. So you need to stop being passive. Get out there and do something - take risks.

Oh, I know what you're going to say, so save your breath. You're going to have to trust me on this - you need to put yourself out there. Greater risks carry greater rewards. It's not enough to sit idly by, and take the low-risk opportunities that arise - you need to do more. You need to do more, for yourself.

I know you like to give to others. I know you look for ways to help other people, even at your own expense. Selflessness is a good trait - at times. But I know your dark secret: you live through others, because you're afraid to live for yourself.

Stings a little to hear, doesn't it? Well, the truth hurts. And I can see in your face, you know that it's true. Maybe you didn't before, but you do now. So before I leave, and let you get back on your way, I have a question for you:

What are you going to do about it? Think on that one for a bit, and see where it takes you.

Me? I'll still be watching, just like I always have been..."

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Generations

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I'm home for the weekend, and having just helped my friend move, as well as starting the process of packing up for the summer, I have houses/apartments on the mind.

I was looking at an old picture on our wall, of me and my grandpa, and started thinking about the styles and decorative feels of the various houses I knew growing up.

My Grandparents
My grandparents' homes always had a distinctive "old" feeling to them. The furniture was noticeably older in style than my house, and lots of the technology was older too. There was a lot of wooden furniture, and even the TV had wooden paneling. The stove timer in one had actual rotating dials, as opposed to a digital read out. There are black & white portraits all over the place, and other "old" things.

My Parents
The house I grew up in always seemed modern to me, because it's how I grew up. But looking at it now, there are distinct things I can pick out. We have a lot of wooden furniture too, but our appliances/electronics are more modernized - the typical blacks, whites, and silvers can be seen. There's more color around, especially in pictures on the walls. My mom was also into "themed" rooms, to an extent - our bathroom had an underwater feel to it, and we actually had giant stuffed fish hanging from the ceiling at one point. Our downstairs bathroom still has a wilderness feel to it.

My Room
By my room, I mean my room(s) while living at UCLA. While I have little control over the main furniture, you can already see how my apartment in the future will differ from the house I grew up in. I have a lot of sleek black items - it's very tech based. My HDTV, on it's stand, with the Xbox and games all right there. Rather than a large wooden "entertainment center", my stuff is more compact. The brown wood has been traded out for black painted wood (you can see that in my picture frames, for example).

I hadn't really thought about it until now, but my room is definitely more "modern' than my parents' home. I'd almost call it minimalist in some ways, and while that's partially just due to my personal taste, I think that's kind of indicative of people my age.

It's really interesting to think about how each of these places captures the 'era' (so-to-speak) of the inhabitants. All three have VERY different feels, and it's kind of cool.

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Bang

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So, I went shooting for the first time. Well, to clarify, it wasn't my first time EVER shooting a gun, but I'd never shot a 'real' gun. All my prior shooting experience amounted to firing hand-pump pellet guns at tin cans. And paintball guns, I guess. Like I said, not real shooting.

But last Thursday, I went to Valencia with Alex, Caity, Carlos, and his friend Andrew for some trap shooting (at least, I'm pretty sure that's what kind it was):

Carlos bought a bunch of ammo, so we all had plenty of shots to take with his shotgun. There was only the one gun, however, so we rotated on a 5-shot basis. Carlos and Andrew were pretty dang good; it was really impressive. Alex and Caity did well too, especially considering that they, like me, were relatively new to this.

I had some early struggles in the whole shooting thing. Alex can attest to the fact that I was very nervous about shooting at first. But it wasn't a fear of guns, or the recoil, or anything like that. Oddly enough, I had major stage fright about shooting. I know WHY I had it (that's part of a future post, so I won't go into it now), but it just caught me off guard, because I didn't expect it.

After my first round (which Carlos very helpfully walked me through), I felt much better. From there, it became much more interesting to me. I still wasn't shooting very well, mainly because I was having a hard time aiming properly. That, and my stance/body positioning wasn't very good.

Then, on one of my later rounds, I realized that the gun wasn't going to recoil and knock me out, so I placed my face much closer to the grip, and was actually able to aim the way Carlos had told me to. Lo and behold, I hit one. That was a pretty satisfying experience. Ultimately, I think I hit four of the 25 total shots I took. That's a pretty bad percentage, but I feel better knowing that they all came in my last couple of rounds. I feel like next time, I'll do much better.

I remember one of the shots really well, and it's probably my favorite of them. The clay target flew out, and I was about to pull the trigger, when I hesitated. For some reason, I didn't like the shot (I don't think I was aiming properly). So I tracked the target for another second, then pulled the trigger, and nailed it. I felt like I actually knew what I was doing (even though I totally didn't), which was really cool.

That whole experience was really cool, and I'm glad that I can say I've actually shot a gun before. People can debate the good/bad about various levels of gun control, and that's not a topic I really care to weigh in on right now, but I still think that taking an hour to actually use one is a good experience.

I really enjoyed this, so I'd also like to try shooting a rifle of some sort, as well as a pistol, at some point in the future.

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Anecdote

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Caity just posted about how she randomly found a list of things that make her smile, and how it cheered her up. I love when things like this happen, and it reminded me of something that happened in high school:

One day, during my senior year of high school, my friend Malorie IMed me, asking "Did you ever find my note?"

I was really confused, and had no idea what she was talking about, so I asked her what she meant. She told me that about a week prior, while we were doing work in Spanish, she had written me a page-long note. I asked her where she put it, and she just said "I'm not going to tell you; I hope you find it when you're having a bad day." I did a quick look through my backpack for it, to no avail, and forgot about it.

Then, about a month later, I was having a really bad day for some reason, and I was cleaning my room/backpack out of frustration. As I'm moving one of my spiral notebooks, out falls the note! And sure enough, I read it, and my mood immediately improved.

I don't remember now what was on it, but I think I may have it laying around somewhere still. I'll look for it, and maybe type it up. There's no real point to this post; just felt like sharing the anecdote.

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Today

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Today, I accomplished nothing.
I didn't study.
I didn't read.
I didn't clean.
Today, I sat.
I played video games.
I watched TV.
I ate.
Today, I thought about the future.
I thought about tomorrow.
I thought about next year.
I thought about the next 5 years.
And I smiled as I did.
Today, I thought about the past.
I remembered old friends.
I remembered old memories.
I remembered old feelings.
And I smiled as I did.
Today, I accomplished nothing.
But today, I accomplished everything.

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Love Styles

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For whatever reason, we were talking about marriage today when I was hanging out with my friends, and I've had relationship stuff (both romantic and platonic) on my mind lately, so I recalled a blog post I'd read before. It was about "Love Styles", and you could liken it to a kind of personality test grouping (though there's no actual test, just the categories). Naturally, you have to take any such grouping with a grain of salt, especially when you're dealing with such an abstract & loaded concept such as love.

But basically, there are six groupings, or styles: Eros, Ludus, Storge, Agape, Mania, and Pragma. If you want to read about the various ones, you can do so here. I think that even though the article calls them styles of love, you can still be a little loose with that definition. I think it does an interesting job of just categorizing how people are in serious relationships, regardless of whether you're "falling in love" or already "in love".

When I first read this, what really jumped at me was how well I fit one of the categories. I am very much a 'Storge':

Storge – some people experience love as a gradual and slow process. When love is based on Storge, getting to know someone comes before having intense feelings for that person. Love based on Storge takes time, it requires genuine liking and understanding of a partner, and it develops slowly over time. Love based on Storge is often compared to the love that one has for a friend. In fact, people who experience love as Storge often fall in love with their friends.


It really struck me, because this is something I've come to notice. My most recent relationships have either become strong friendships even after they ended, or sprung up from existing strong friendships. One thing I've heard from exes is that they felt like they were "more like a friend". This was always a rough thing for me to hear, because while I genuinely cared, and felt strongly attracted to them emotionally (and physically, but that's not relevant to this point), I also always thought of them as friends as well. That's how I am. But it appears that the distinction between being "just a friend" or something more got blurred at times.

The other type that I pull from is 'Agape', which is a kind of caregiving approach to love. And it's pretty easy to see how when you combine elements of that with the strong friend bonds, it can cause problems.

The problem gets compounded when you factor in the fact that I tend to fall for people who are 'Eros'es - those who see love in the very romantic way. I'm bad at being romantic. And so it makes it even harder to keep things going with an Eros, because I show my feelings differently than how they look for them, and this miscommunication causes problems. Knowing all of this now, I'm more aware of it, and I know what things I need to work on in future relationships. So that's a good thing at least.

I'm not really sure why I wrote this. I've written a variant of it my personal journal/writing collections, but for whatever reason felt like typing it up here. I know that people I've dated do read my blog on occasion, so if any of you see this, and it clears something up, then that's good. The point of this was more for my own benefit though, and to share the link for others to peruse. Take what you will from this; I'm off to bed.

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Unconditional

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So the other day, I had this interesting thought come to me randomly, and I've been wanting to write up a post about it ever since. But I've been hesitant to do it, because I'm afraid of somebody I know reading into, misinterpreting it, and causing issues. Not sure who, what, or why that would happen, but just given the subject, it's made me a little hesitant. But I decided to post it up anyways, with the following disclaimer:

This post is purely a semantic musing of mine. It is not inspired by any of my past relationships, short or long. Also, it's worth pointing out that I'm not commenting on the abstract meaning here, just the literal, semantic one. So nobody should read into this in any way.

This post talks about love. In particular, the notion of "unconditional love". And I'm going to argue that for the vast majority of people, unconditional love does not exist (in the literal sense). Love always has conditions, no matter how much movies, music, or our own wishes try to tell us otherwise.

The reason I say this is that no matter how much you love somebody, there are things they can do which would change that. You say you love somebody unconditionally, but would you still say that if they slept with somebody else? If they hurt somebody in your family (or a close friend)? If they took advantage of you? If they stole from you? If they murdered somebody? If they posted nude pictures of you on the internet?

You wouldn't (or at least, I'd really hope not). So there are conditions on your love. Cheating is the classic example; a lot of people might say they love somebody unconditionally, yet if they're cheated on, that tune will change quickly. Maybe not the first time, but if the pattern continues again and again, it will. The conditions of love were broken.

Just to be clear, I'm definitely NOT trying to argue that this is unreasonable. I think staying faithful is a perfectly fine condition to have on love. It's just that semantically, the love isn't "unconditional".

Of course, the true meaning behind "unconditional love" is not intended to be the literal one. I suppose one way to look at it would be that "unconditional" love is really "no extra conditions beyond standard societal conditions" love. Or, even better, you could look at love as a kind of "contract" where you initially set out the terms, and "unconditional love" is then used to mean that no OTHER conditions are being added beyond the ones initially agreed upon. (Side note: I'm definitely not trying to suggest that people should draw up contracts; that certainly makes the whole "I love you" moment much less special).

Despite the disclaimer above, I want to reiterate that this post isn't supposed to represent my thoughts on love in any way. There's no real point to this post, other than to just muse aloud about the semantic inaccuracy of the phrase. Though I am curious what other people think.

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