#INLove: Indiana Approves Marriage Equality

Yesterday, a federal judge in Indiana struck down our state’s same-sex marriage ban. This is a good thing. Here are just some of the reasons why I think this is a positive step for our state and the nation as a whole.

I believe:

  1. Marriage is an expression of commitment between two people to love each other and share their lives together.
  2. We should support marriage between loving couples capable of consent.
  3. Our society is strengthened by healthy marriages.
  4. Members of the LGBT community have every right to marry the person of their choosing.
  5. Children benefit by being part of stable, loving families.
  6. God loves and cares for all people fully, without qualification.
  7. God would prefer to see more love in the world rather than less.
  8. My gay friends who have been partnered for 48 years have a relationship that is more deserving of being called marriage than the relationship between Britney Spears and Jason Alexander, whose ‘marriage’ lasted 55 hours (for example).
  9. Denying basic rights to anyone based on immutable characteristics is wrong.
  10. If you were to sum up the ministry of Jesus in one word, I think it would be ‘love’.

These statements form the core of my beliefs about gay marriage and why I support it. I do not believe that gay people are disordered in any way. I believe that many of them struggle with acceptance of themselves and their sexual orientation, but that is because of society’s historic approach to them, not due to a fault in themselves.

What about the children?

I once had a conversation with a former teacher who obviously found it impossible to accept gay relationships. He told me a story about a student whose father left his family and entered into a gay relationship. The child was tormented relentlessly and bullied by others. He then asked how could I support a father doing that to his family?

The response I wish I had given is that I don’t know anything about that man’s life. Maybe he hated himself for living a lie; maybe he had tried to live a ‘normal’ life until it broke him. Regardless, that man is not responsible for the bullying and ridicule heaped upon his child. The people bullying that child are the ones responsible for their behavior. What if those around him had responded with love, helping him to see his father as a person with his own tough choices and struggles? Each person is responsible for his/her own actions. No one makes you ridicule or despise another person. That is your choice. It’s also your choice to choose love.

Choose love.

The reason we are seeing this overwhelming support of same-sex marriage is because more people are choosing love. Our LGBT neighbors are no longer hidden to us; no longer can we pretend that gay people are not in our lives or affected by our actions.

In my opinion, gay people are also choosing love. They are choosing this path by loving themselves and accepting themselves as people worthy of respect. [Note: I’m not trying to imply this is something new.] This has not always been encouraged or rewarded by our larger society. It is now.

I know that many disagree with these opinions. They feel strongly that God has spoken unequivocally in condemning gay relationships. They have the right to believe that and no one can force them to change their mind. However, while some may hold these personal beliefs, we can no longer legitimately sanction these beliefs as a society.

Our society benefits from stable, loving relationships. Indiana just helped our country benefit a little bit more.

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TripIt, Waze, Sunrise: 3 essential travel apps that work together

Sometimes it’s hard to remember we are still in the very early, experimental stages of smartphones and apps. Some of the things they can do seem like magic, much in the way that saving and editing a simple text document on the first computers must have blown the minds of people who were used to typewriters.

This is most clear to me when I realize just how fractured the smartphone experience is right now. Perhaps Apple has it all solved, but I have real reservations about getting locked into that ecosystem. So for now, I’m an Android guy.

The place I notice this the most, and find most frustrating, is the way most apps work together (or don’t). Calendars and maps rarely work together well and require too much work to get them to play nicely. Apps like TripIt have changed my life by maintaining my itineraries and more, but they don’t play nice with other apps either.

Until now.

To manage travel, you need 3 great apps:

tripit
TripIt
:
Itineraries, schedules, confirmation numbers, addresses

TripIt Review

 

 

Sunrise: Beautiful calendar app that works with TripIt when you want it to without filling your calendar with unnecessary clutter

Sunrise Review

 

 

Waze: The perfect app for getting you where you need to be

Waze Review

 

 

 

TripIt is simply the best tool I’ve used for managing the details of a trip and organizing confirmation numbers and more. Connect TripIt to Sunrise and everything is right in front of you in a beautiful calendar. Connect Sunrise to Waze and all you have to do is tap the location to get fantastic directions that adjust based on current conditions and even alert you to police cars and accidents while you drive. Send your ETA and updated route info to those you are meeting and you won’t have to update them to say you are running late!

The best part is that all of these work together seamlessly, giving us a glimpse of the future when everything will work together flawlessly. We’re not there yet, but traveling with these three apps makes you wish the future would hurry up already!

5 Greatest Late Night Sidekicks

I don’t know why but I have always been obsessed with late night television. I caught the tail end of Johnny Carson’s tenure at The Tonight Show and enjoyed it, even though I didn’t always understand the political and cultural references. I would then sometimes be able to catch Late Night with David Letterman, which I absolutely loved. Chris Elliott became a celebrity seemingly known only to me at the time (this was prior to the internet, of course).

I’ve read every book I can find about the late night talk show wars, watched HBO’s The Late Shift about Letterman’s move to CBS, and continue to watch as much late night as possible. Much like the soothing rhythm of regular season baseball, late night television is a comfort that helps me put our world into context.

An often overlooked, yet critical, ingredient to the late night talk show is the sidekick. I tend to believe that the more fully the sidekick is integrated into the show, the better the show is overall. It’s a special talent, to be comfortable being second banana, never getting the full credit you deserve. Below are samples from the 5 best sidekicks in late night:

5. Zorak (Space Ghost Coast to Coast)

4. Paul Shaffer

3. Geoff the Robot

2. Andy Richter

1. Ed McMahon

Cutting the Cord

Do you have too much money? Do you have more televisions than people in your home? If so, this post is probably not for you.

Cable Television: $125/mo
Netflix: $8
Hulu Plus: $8
Amazon Prime: $8
High Speed Internet: $55
Grand Total: $204/mo or $2448/year!

That is a lot of cheese every month just to watch television. At one point, I realized what a waste of my time and money this was and I cut the cord. Now those of you who know me know that I love watching television and I really love movies (see my Ebert posts, for starters).

Over a year later, it’s time to see how this experiment is working. Truth be told, it’s fantastic with one exception. Let’s take a closer look at why this works for me and whether or not it’s an option for you.

What can you watch without cable/satellite television? 

Quite a lot, actually. I’m not even going to get into the various workaround options for using BitTorrent or other sites. Nope, these are straightforward, official channels only.

The online or streaming options have improved dramatically in recent years. In fact, I can pretty safely say that unless you are absolutely addicted to sports on a nightly basis, you should get rid of cable television. You won’t miss it. Here’s what $24/month will get you:

Netflix: The reigning champ of streaming services. Here you can find plenty of movies but more importantly, full seasons of past television shows. With Netflix adding original programming like The Fall, House of Cards, and Orange Is The New Black, it’s hard to spend $8 better than this.

Netflix

Hulu Plus: While Netflix gets all the press, Hulu Plus was a deciding factor in my willingness to cut the cord. As a movie buff, having the vast majority of the Criterion Collection available for streaming at a moment’s notice was unbeatable. Add in the fact that they feature next-day episodes of many current television shows (Daily Show, Colbert Report, etc.) and it’s a no-brainer. This has also been the saving grace for me after losing my DVR. Who needs to record programs when you can watch them on-demand?

Hulu-Plus-2-Weeks-Free

Amazon Prime: I’ve been a Prime subscriber for many years, in large part due to the free 2 day shipping on almost anything. Amazon Prime has always been the last resort for video streaming, if there wasn’t anything good on Netflix or Hulu. Until now, that is. Amazon is also running new original programming, such as Orphan Black. However, the real coup for Amazon is the HBO library: Deadwood. The Sopranos. The Wire. Band of Brothers. Oz. Carnivale.

amazon-prime

There is a reason their slogan is “It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” These series are in a class by themselves and worth every penny of that Prime subscription.

There are other services as well, including Redbox, Crackle and more. However, the three services above provide more content than I can possibly watch, and they constantly add new material.

So what’s missing?

Sports. Specifically, ESPN. When you consider the sports options currently available on network television and how often you get together at a friend’s house or bar to watch a game, I find I’m really not missing out on much. Certainly not $1500/year’s worth (cable subscription).

We get about 30 HD channels from a small HD antenna, giving us our local channels, PBS, and more. For me, the streaming services + local HD channels are more than enough and I’m a TV/movie junkie. Only you can decide if Monday Night Football and a few other games are worth $1500/year. For me, I’d much rather have the cash.

Further Reading: