Tuesday, November 29, 2011

And Now For Some Utah Politics On Liquor

A local beer. One of my favorites!
Utah's Hospitality Association, a group that represents hotels, bars, and clubs, is suing the state of Utah over it's liquor laws. This would repeal some of the newest legislation foisted upon us drinkers in the state that makes it illegal to advertise drink specials. This same bill, bill SB314, also limited the number of liquor licenses available in the state, creating a two year waiting list to be considered. On top of that it also made the City Weekly's (a local paper here) Beer Festival illegal, citing "overconsumption" as an issue, despite the fact that no arrests were made or citations given to any participant of the festival.  This legislation came into effect shortly after Utah got rid of it's private club laws, which made it so that you had to pay a membership fee to enter a "private club" (bar). When that legislation went away, I was pretty happy, only to have it replaced with this. 

The Hospitality Association claims that the laws violate the Sherman Act on trade and is unconstitutional because it violates the separation of church and state because, wait, there is more to the story! Turns out the Mormon Church is another reason the state is getting sued! The LDS church had a hand in crafting SB314, allegedly sending two representatives who,

"...warned lawmakers that if they did not agree with that Church's support of SB 314 [a big alcohol bill] there would be repercussions."

And the fact that the author of the bill received,

"...approval...from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

Senator Valentine (he's in charge of the liquor law committee) has said numerous times that the church has a stake in the liquor laws, so of course he listens to their opinion. He has even admitted in a radio interview on a local station, X96, that the laws have a religious basis because a majority of our population is LDS. He also says the LDS church has the freedom of speech, so we should just butt out. Valentine completely misses the point that the separation of church and state trump the first amendment. By having the church help craft laws, you are violating the Constitution. They can have their opinion all day long, but they can't force that on the public via legislation, whether a majority of the population belongs to that faith or not.

Sadly, this isn't new in Utah. Every so often there is a big scandal here that the church may be influencing the legislation. They get caught, get a slap on the wrist, and proceed to be sneakier than ever about it. It's depressing, really.

I hope the Hospitality Association's lawsuit goes well. It will be a victory for church and state separation, and a victory for those of us who choose to drink in this state. If this lawsuit fails, I see prohibition right around the corner.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

They Want A War? I'll Give Them A War!

Sorry Thanksgiving, even I'm passing you up (for a moment).

It seems like every year after Halloween all the Christmas decorations go up. Hell, if you're Target you put them out on Halloween. Thanksgiving is entirely bypassed by most stores. I have yet to walk in to any store and see any Thanksgiving decorations, promotions, ads, or any kind of acknowledgment that the holiday exists.  It's all Christmas stuff. So by now you're probably thinking to yourself, "Self, everyone knows this. Why is he going on about things we can all readily see?" And I think that is a good question. The reason I bring this up is The War On Christmas.

That's right. There is supposedly a war on Christmas going on as we speak (read, whatever). My problem is that I have never seen any evidence of the war. There certainly aren't Hanukkah decorations in my work place. No Kwanza decorations either. Every year we hear from Limbaugh and O'Reilly about this conspiracy to eradicate Christmas. They rail against people and companies who say "Happy Holidays!" because this is America, and in America we celebrate Christmas goddammit! I guess the strategy of making all of your customers feel welcome makes you unAmerican. Again, I don't see any evidence that this is the case.

Let's take a quick sidetrack. I, personally, despise Christmas. I find the materialism of it to be sickening, the fake care for ones fellow man that fades after the holiday sickening, really all of it. It's a commercialized sensationalized holiday that I feel has no value. I do enjoy spending time with family during the holiday season, but I enjoy that year-round. That's about where my enjoyment of Christmas ends. I don't like decorating, gift giving, gift receiving, or carols.

I hate this attitude
With all of that said, I have decided I am going to wage an actual war on Christmas. It's not a conspiracy, it's not secretive, I'm going right out into the open. I am waging a full on war against this holiday. I will say "Happy Holidays" to everyone. I will refuse to partake in the festivities that are Christmas specific. I will actively denounce the materialism that is inherit in the holiday nowadays. I will spread a message of caring about your fellow humans year-round. Part of my war on Christmas will be to research the pagan holidays that Christmas borrowed heavily from and share them with my readers. There are some fascinating festivals from around the world. I'm hoping that by doing so I will show that Christmas is a patchwork of pagan holidays with a dash of Christianity added and a heaping scoop of materialism. This is the strategy that I am hoping will bring the holiday to it's knees.

This is what my War On Christmas will most likely look like.

So stay tuned for fun Christmas history and join me in my march on Christmas!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo, Say What?

Last year I heard about this fun little thing my friend Wit was doing, NaNoWriMo, also known as National Novel Writing Month. the goal of which is to write a novel by the end of November. I was intrigued, and so I decided to join in this year. The minimum is 50,000 word, or about 1,667 words a day. The only rules are that you make it to at least 50,000 words and that you can't begin before November first or end after November thirtieth. You can write any genre you want with any characters you want. They say on the site "If you believe you are writing a novel, then we believe you are writing a novel." If you win all you get is a little paper that you can print out and an internet banner you can put on your site, so there is no real reason to cheat. It's more about the satisfaction of writing a rough draft of a novel. (Edit later, the goal is to get a rough draft. If you edit it will be infinitely harder to make the goal.)

The main reason I decided to participate this year is that I keep telling myself I need to write more. I need to get in the habit of writing regularly. I also want to write a comic book script (something I have been 'working' on for over a year now) and I feel that this will help me get into the habit of writing fiction instead of just my opinions on things. Anyway, I have started my novel this evening and I am excited to complete this challenge! I also encourage everyone to join in! It's easy to do, just click on that NaNoWriMo link I have up there and sign up! If you are already participating, or just signing up, pleas feel free to share a little bit about your novel, I would love to hear about it!