Metered Praise

I’m slowly getting used to the metric system, but there are still setbacks. For example, I still feel a little weird going up to the butcher’s counter and ordering things by the gram. Today, though, was the biggest hiccup, when I tried out the compound’s treadmill for the first time, and was running at 9.0 for two minutes without gasping for breath (recall that, for the past year, I’ve had sometimes-crippling asthma), and I was thinking, “I must be Superman!” 

Until my wife reminded me of that whole kilometer-versus-mile thing … 

Civility

I want to get something off of my chest: I don’t believe that state or the federal government should recognize gay marriage. I don’t believe that state or the federal government should recognize straight marriage either. Marriage is a religious institution and should be handled only by churches, synagogues, mosques, covens, what have you, in accordance with the First Amendment. 

What government needs to do is institute a system of civil unions, which are contracts that carry all the health, financial, housing, insurance, and child-rearing benefits of what we currently call marriage. If your church won’t marry you, find a new church. If you are repulsed by your church marrying a man and man or woman and woman, find a new church. Congress, the Supreme Court, and the president have no business defining how we the people express our love for each other. It does, however, have business in codifying secular agreements between two people, regardless of their gender. This is equality. 

This way, the State has no say in how people interpret the Bible, Torah, Koran, Big Book O’ Witchcraft, etc., and can’t be penalized for their beliefs, and, at the same time, religion can’t be used as an argument against these unions either, thus confining them to secular arguments—many of which are based on junk science. 

My idea, I realize, isn’t perfect, because I barely know what I’m talking about. 

You Auto Know

I’ve only been behind the wheel of our beloved Stella for the past week, and I’d like to take a moment to talk to you about driving in Doha. 

Every place I’ve ever lived (except for Nebraska) has claimed to have the worst drivers on the planet. Traffic in Florida is responsible for 29 percent of Dave Barry’s entire career of a writer. The spectacular car chases on the California freeway in every Michael Bay movie are actually mini-documentaries. And the things I’ve seen on the streets of Ecuador still chill me to this day. They’re all amateurs.  

Driving in Doha is the only excuse you need to drive like an asshole. 

From what I’ve learned during my stay, nothing on the roads is illegal, and that includes vehicular homicide … well, there is one exception: red lights. Nobody runs a red lights in Doha. Nobody. Hell, if you cross an intersection on a yellow light, even the Qatari locals will call you a dick (keep in mind that the locals have been known to ram people from behind for going too slow, and too slow for them is anything less than twenty kilometers above the speed limit). 

And yet, there’s something civilized about the it all. See, back home, if someone cuts you off, you unleash a stream of expletives that would make Richard Nixon tell you to take it down a notch, even if there’s kids in the backseat. Here, if someone cuts you off, you say, “Well played!” In the States, letting someone take a turn in front of you is an act of kindness. In Doha, letting someone take a turn in front of you means you lost the battle with honor. I have seen more people use their blinkers here—even when they’re going left from the center lane.  

Long story short: the Asphalt Thunderdome of Qatar is oddly relaxing.