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Pro-choice, pro-life, or pro-abortion?

30 Jul

The whole abortion debate is a hot one in Mississippi, as the state fails to close its last abortion clinic in Jackson.  Tempers flare quickly when the pro-choice topic comes up, but much fuss is over a lack of understanding rather than an actual difference of opinion, at least in my case.

Living in Mississippi and being pro-choice is sort of like being an atheist and living in Spain during the Inquisition.  Definitely hazardous to one’s health and well-being. All across the nation, the debate is fiery and often turns violent.

I have to shake my head.

I don’t get some of the more rabid fanatics of the pro-life faction.  They claim to value life, but they then resort to actually killing abortion clinic workers.  They claim to be Christian, but then they harass patients who approach the abortion clinics, when the usual reason for going there is not even abortion.

I’m unable to see how they justify their behavior.  It’s utterly alien to me.

You see, I’m pro-choice, but also anti-abortion.

Huh? How can that be, you wonder?

They are not the same thing.  I’m pro-choice, because I don’t feel that I have the right to choose for all women in all circumstances if and when they would opt for the abortion.  I don’t think that abortions should be used as birth control either.  To me, abortions are a last ditch solution to a problem that actually has no solution.

It might be rape.  It might be genetic flaws that would leave the fetus to grow into a baby that would die young, after many months of struggling and even pain, never getting to enjoy even its mother’s arms.  It might be a baby that has some birth defect that means that it will die during or shortly after birth.  It may be a case of incest, a girl too young to safely give birth, a woman too old to safely go through childbirth, or a woman who’s own health is so fragile that pregnancy and childbirth are apt to destroy her physically if not kill her.  It might be some sort of circumstances that I have never thought of.

But it isn’t my responsibility to predict when and if a woman should be able to get a legal abortion.  That’s her moral and medical decision, one that she should not take lightly either.

I’m in my fifties, going through menopause.  That does not mean that I am sterile, however.  I never conceived easily, and when I did, it usually ended with a miscarriage.  It’s not impossible (though highly unlikely) that I could end up pregnant now.  When I was a kid, “afterthought” children were not uncommon, and they typically were the result of a woman thinking it was all behind her, and then surprise, here’s a baby of your own that is younger than your grandchildren!

Now it’s true, Greg and I would welcome that baby, despite the adjustments that it would require in our lives.  But how would I feel if I found out that there was something seriously wrong with that baby, that it had little to no chance of anything resembling a normal life, and that carrying it to term would also endanger my own health?  Would I want to take the risk to have a child that was severely handicapped or would die anyhow?

I don’t know.

Making that decision in a hypothetical situation is not the same as making that decision and then having to drive to an abortion clinic either.  I don’t know what we would decide, and I’m not going to pretend that I do.

But nobody else has the right to make it for me either.

That’s why I am pro-choice.  My aversion to the idea of killing a fetus makes me anti-abortion.  Who knows, that fetus might have been the next Mozart or Einstein.  At the same time, it could be the next criminal or mass murderer too.  No woman knows for sure, but no woman in her right mind with anything resembling a moral compass would make the decision lightly to opt for the abortion.

I’d cry.

I would cry as I agonized over the decision, and I’d cry on the way there.  I’d cry on the way home too.

But I would also remember the woman I heard about.  She was pregnant, and the baby was kicking inside of her the way they do that last trimester.  She could feel it, alive and moving.  The whole time she felt it moving, she knew that when it was born, it would die.  There was no chance of survival beyond a few minutes.  She carried that baby to term, knowing from the first trimester that it was going to end that way, and then, she gave birth and the baby died, just like the doctors had known all along it was going to do.

I could not bear that agony. That knowing that there was absolutely no hope for that baby and that his fate was sealed at the moment of birth.  There was nothing that the doctors could do about it, his defect was not repairable.

She was a far stronger woman in her convictions than I would be, I’m afraid.  I would likely have opted for termination once the reality of the situation was known without a doubt.  I don’t think I could have deluded myself into a fantasy where there would be divine intervention at the last minute to change the course of fate.

I would have also thought about the immense amount of money being invested into a non-viable situation.  How could I justify that when so many go without medical care at all, even when the medical care would spare their lives?

I’m anti-abortion, but pro-choice.  I believe there are times when modern medicine and the mother agree that the pregnancy is a really bad idea.  I believe there may be other situations in which the pregnancy is a horrible thing, beyond inconvenience or embarrassing for the mother.  I agree that there are times when a girl’s body is well developed enough to become pregnant, but not developed enough to manage a pregnancy without causing her harm.  I don’t see where there is an up side to telling a 10 or 12 year old girl that she has to carry a baby to term after being molested, even though it is likely to leave her unable to bear a child when she’s old enough to actually be a mother.

At the same time, I don’t think that even the parents should be able to actually force a teen to have an abortion.  I remember a girl I knew when I was a teenager.  She became pregnant and hid the pregnancy from her parents until it was nearly time for the baby to be born, using baggy clothing and even a girdle, as well as half starving herself to keep her weight down.  She told no one, not even her closest friends, about her pregnancy, fearful that word would get back to her parents in the small town.  She was certain that her parents would physically drag her to an abortion clinic and force her to terminate the pregnancy.

It also meant that she had no  prenatal care, and it all resulted in disaster.  Whether it was a preventable disaster is probably debatable, as the boy was born with some genetic issues and a severe type of dwarfism.  At five years old, he was the size of an infant, yet able to walk, run and play the same as any other five year old, and without any apparent intellectual handicaps either.

I still remember the fear in the young mother’s face as she talked about what her parents would have liked to do, but that she had managed to hide it too long for it to be an option.  At seventeen, she did not have the legal right to refuse the abortion (in that state, at that time–laws are different in most states).  She did, however, have the legal right to refuse to put her son up for adoption, and she did raise him, at least through the age of five, at which point I lost contact with her.

As her teen peer, I agreed with her that it was wrong for her parents to be able to do that to her and the unborn child.  I still agree with her on that front.  She should not have had to hide the pregnancy to prevent the abortion.

But she should have had the choice.

That choice is why I am pro-choice, even if I am anti-abortion.

I hope that it has helped you understand that there is a difference, and it is a really big one, between being pro-choice and being pro-abortion, and that being pro-life does not mean that you have to be anti-choice either.  When I say I am pro-choice, I’m also saying that I don’t have the moral right or responsibility to decide when and if a pregnancy should or could be terminated.  If women are opting to use abortion to kill unwanted children over and over, then we have an issue with their morality and that is what needs to be addressed.  Surely it is far cheaper and easier to use birth control to prevent conception than it is to endure repeated abortions anyhow, and the few women that I know that have ever had an abortion weren’t exactly thrilled to have the opportunity either.  It’s a tough decision, and none of them chose it lightly.

 

 

The Homosexuality Contagion

12 Jul

I’ve heard a lot of anti-gay rhetoric.  I live in the Bible Belt where there seems to be a genuine fear that they are going to “catch the gay“.  There is a lot of statements about how people don’t want gays in their neighborhood, schools, workplace, restaurants, or churches too.  I have to assume that they truly believe that it is somehow contagious and they are afraid that they too, will become gay.

I have also read a lot about how people are gay from birth, as well as arguments that people are homosexual because of their upbringing, experiences, choices, etc.  I can’t answer those questions, and that’s not what this blog post is going to address.  I’m only going to look at the fear of “catching the gay.”

I have had a number of friends who were homosexual over the years.  I’ve gone camping with them, eaten meals with them, cooked and laughed with them, and on occasion, even shared a drink with them.  I’ve had plenty of opportunity to “catch the gay.”

Guess what?

I don’t have a single symptom of being gay.

I’m married, I’ve had kids, and I’m totally comfortable with my sex life as a monogamous heterosexual.  I don’t feel threatened by gays, whether male or female, unless they are armed and specifically state that they are threatening me.  Of course, I would feel equally threatened at that point, regardless of sexual orientation.  I have to also admit that I have never once asked anyone who was threatening me with bodily harm about their sexual orientation.  It just never seemed relevant at that point.  The assailants that were known to me also happen to not be gay, so I also don’t regard homosexuals as potentially threatening individuals.

I’ve also heard that homosexuals are basically child molesters in training.  Thinking back to the years that I worked in law enforcement and corrections, I try to remember a single case involving a convicted child molester also being a homosexual.  Guess what?  I don’t remember any.  That’s not to say it is impossible, but I don’t think the two have anything to do with each other.

The next bit I hear is how the Bible specifically forbids homosexuality.  Well, sure it does, but the Old Testament has a lot of things that we don’t regard as moral or legal in modern society, like incest, polygamy, stoning, etc.  Besides, what happened to that bit about separation of church and state that is in our constitution? Or maybe the whole bit about “thou shalt not judge”?  Or even all that bacon, sausage, pork chops, etc. that America buys in the grocery store each year…that is forbidden too, if you want to get right down to it.  So, we’ll toss out that Old Testament bit, and the New Testament mostly talks about tolerance and love, and stoning homosexuals is definitely out.

I’ve also been told how the gay community and especially same sex marriages are going to threaten the “sanctity of marriage.”  When it comes out of the mouth of a man who has been repeatedly divorced or has been publicly pointed out for extra-marital affairs, that’s hardly going to fly.  Personally, I just don’t get the sanctity of marriage thing when 50% of marriages in the USA end in divorce in 5 years or less.  I also don’t see where having a gay couple who is married as neighbors is going to threaten my marriage, unless my husband was going to “catch the gay” (since I’m obviously immune to it.) I also don’t think that a gay couple’s children are going to “catch the gay” or expose my children or grandchildren to the risks of “catching the gay.”

Homosexuality isn’t a disease, and it isn’t a virus.  You can’t catch it.  You either are or you aren’t, that’s all.  Okay, there are people who are bisexual, but that’s another thing entirely.  I’m not addressing that.  Since I’m not bisexual or homosexual, I can’t pretend I understand how or why it is.  The only person that truly knows your own sexual orientation is yourself.

I don’t understand why people are so afraid of homosexuality unless it is because they have not addressed their own sexual orientation and find that thoughts of the same sex indulging in sexual behavior is arousing, and therefore is “bad” and must be suppressed.  I do know that my mother always insisted that those who persecuted gays were afraid of their own sexuality and sexual urges, which is why they became so angry and fearful when exposed to gays.

I think she may have been right.  I don’t fear them, I don’t find that they make me angry, and I do support same sex marriage.  I think it would be great for the economy too.  After all, most gays never have children, and have far more disposable income as a result.  That means that they will spend a lot more money on things like their weddings, anniversaries, homes, cars, etc. over the years than those of us who devote our lives to raising another generation.  Same sex marriages also means fewer children being born–which will mean more economic and educational opportunities for the children that are born into this world.  The same sex marriages will also probably pay more taxes over the years, as they will not qualify for the child tax credit, will be able to concentrate more on career advancement, and will probably make more money in their lives to be taxed as well.

Sure, they can adopt.  They can use surrogate mothers and sperm donors too. Some of them will have kids, and that’s okay too.  They will have jobs, buy houses, build neighborhoods, attend churches, buy goods & services and do all of the other things that other families do.  Why should I care if Johnny and Jane have two dads or two moms?  Why should I worry about their parents’ sex life at all?  Or any of my neighbors for that matter?

As long as they aren’t breaking any of the other laws we have, it doesn’t matter what orientation they have or don’t have.  It doesn’t matter and it shouldn’t matter, nor should we even give a second thought to what their sex life is about.  I honestly have never gone to a PTA meeting and sat there discussing the other parents’ sex lives or lack thereof.  There are some things that I just do not care about. I also don’t worry about co-workers, other church members, the shopkeeper, or any of the other people I may come into contact with in the course of a day.  In fact, making me visualize such a thing about any of those people is probably going to leave me with an “ewww” and a mental desire to scour out my brain to get rid of it.

The world will be a much better place when we all quit worrying about whether or not everyone else has a better sex life than we do and we start concentrating on our own issues.

Just get over it.  You won’t “catch the gay” even if your neighbors are a same sex couple and they come over for a bbq one weekend.  You can drink after them without it happening too.  You are more likely to catch hepatitis or drug resistant tuberculosis, and neither of those diseases care what sexual orientation you have.  Their marriage won’t make you get a divorce, and your husband isn’t going to run off into the sunset with a gay guy because of it either.  (If he was going to do it, he’ll do it even if you have nobody that is a homosexual in your neighborhood.)  Your wife isn’t going to start lusting after the pastor’s wife either.  You are safe, honest.

You are seriously not that stupid, are you?

America’s Religions

16 Sep

I think of myself as a typical American.  I’m nothing exceptional at all.  I’m a bit older than some, and  younger than others.

So moving away from the age debate, let’s get onto another hot topic.

Religion.

We’ve seen religion made a huge issue lately.  It’s likely been one before in American history, but I’m not a historical expert.  I’m also not a religious expert.  Or a political one.  Since I’m an average American, I really don’t see myself as an “expert” in anything.

But I do have opinions and I can be annoyed anyhow.

I have a very eclectic collection of friends and acquaintances.  They have very diverse backgrounds and cultures, even though the majority are Americans by nationality.  For the sake of this post, I’m only talking about the American ones, since I’m also referring to American society and culture.

With such a diverse collection of people, I see and hear a lot of comments about religion.  Most of the time, it doesn’t bother me one way or another.  It certainly does not influence me in terms of my religious beliefs or practices.  I’m quite comfortable with mine, and while they will continue to evolve, they are not going to go through any radical conversion to some new religion at this point in my life.  I think that usually happens when we are younger and still formulating our world view and the concept of our own mortality.

So when does it bother me?

I don’t like to have other people’s religious views crammed down my throat, especially when accompanied by the “I’ll kill you and that will change your mind” ideology.  I’m also not someone who feels a need to convert anyone else, nor do I wave my religious views around like a banner on a summer’s day.  My opinion is that the whole issue boils down to “all roads lead to Rome.”  I can agreeably accept any religious views that don’t include hurting other humans as part of their practice or ritual.

Notice that hurting other humans bit.

Now we have all encountered those who are “witnessing” from various fundamentalist Christian groups.  I understand that this is part of their responsibilities according to the religious doctrines they follow.  Most will accept the “thanks, that’s nice, but I already have mine” very courteously, especially when their answer is given in a courteous manner.  There are a few sects that practice rather aggressive methods of proselytizing to strangers at their homes.  I’m less enthusiastic about that practice.

I have never had a non-Christian religious practitioner come knocking at my door or hand me a tract.  Have you?

I really do not like the Christian groups that picket funerals–I don’t care what religion they are or practice, it is not an appropriate time to picket anything.  They seem to enjoy causing emotional distress to the grieving because of the publicity it draws.  It’s one case of negative publicity that seems to benefit someone.

But we’ll let them go for now.

I’ve read religious conservative statements that advocate returning prayer to school as a method of teaching morality to youth.  I have a  news flash for them.  A single 5 minute prayer at school each day is not going to make anyone more moral nor is it going to make them religious.  Morality and religion happen at home and in life.  Besides, who decides what prayer will be said?  What if the chosen prayer is not one from YOUR religion?

And then, there are the “other” religions.  We all hear about the Big Three: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.  We hear plenty about the various sects of those three too.  There are the Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Pagans, etc. too.  Even those get more attention with a label attached than the most rabid and often nastiest toned ones I have encountered lately.

Those happen to be Atheists and the even larger, “Church of” Science.  The two have often been allies lately, as they seem to have a single goal in mind.

The removal of religion from America entirely.

They do have some good points.  Religions tend to divide, not unify, a population with diverse cultures and a broad spectrum of religions.  Practitioners do get caught up in the little “My God is better than your God” little turf wars.  Historically, they have often escalated into actual armed conflicts.  It seems to be one of the core causes of the continual conflicts in the Middle East too.  More people are killed in its name than die from any other cause.  It is quite obvious that religion has some problems.

But these rabid proselytizing anti-religion groups aren’t exactly being endearing either.  They seem to have twisted the “my God is better than your God” bit into a whole new cry: “Your God is dead and I know it, so I’m better than all of you!”

I watch all the flaming going on, and it seems that the only thing that would make them happy is to do away with all public examples of religion.  Churches and cathedrals, mosques and synagogues…they’d all be plain cinderblock buildings with a sign over the door with letters less than 3″ tall, as though you were visiting a VD clinic.  Priests wouldn’t wear the collars that make everyone stand up straight and stop swearing, and nuns wouldn’t be allowed to wear any part of a habit in public either.

Christmas would become “Generic Winter Holiday.”  Easter would be “Spring Break.” Thanksgiving? Just “Harvest Festival”.  Memorial Day? It too has some religious overtones, along with military ones, so obviously that would be re-designated “Beginning of Summer Holiday.”  Labor Day, with no religion attached, might retain its current name.  Halloween would be subject to suspicion, but without recent religion attached to it by the majority of citizens, its consumerist ideology might let it stand.

There would be re-writing of history too, to sanitize it of religious overtones.  Nevermind that many historical events did have strong religious overtones, as the entire war was focused on the idea of “My God is better than your God.”

All of that for political correctness?

To me, anti-religion is just as rabid as religions are when they are at their worst.

It was wrong to kidnap Native American children and send them to boarding schools where they were robbed of their culture, language, and religion and given the “gift of Christianity”.  It’s just as wrong to do that to anyone else, even in the name of anti-religion as the new religion.  It was wrong for the federal government to deny tribes the right to have ceremonies and practice their religions for most of the 20th century.  It’s just as wrong to do that to the rest of American society.

I grew up in a multi-cultural family.  We didn’t practice the same religion as our classmates and neighbors did.  I enjoyed learning about Judaism and their holidays.  I was curious about all of the Christian denominations and their religious practices too.   I’m not Catholic, yet I too was terrified by nuns in their spooky long black habits and that head dress they wore.  I still stand straight and clean up my conversation when conversing with  or even nearby a preacher, priest, or nun.  I’m also respectful of shamans and medicine men/women.  I enjoy learning about rituals and beliefs.  I like hearing the stories too.

But just because I read the Koran or the Book of Mormon or even participate in a ritual does not mean that I have become a convert of that religion.  Just because I am respectful of someone else’s belief system does not mean that I advocate it as a lifestyle.

Respect and courtesy are important traits of a civilized society.  This respect and courtesy means that many people, from many cultures and many religions, can live and work together harmoniously.  That’s what we need.  We don’t need another doctrine to separate groups of people from one another, to divide them and put them in conflict with each other.

I may think it is extremely foolish for a couple to spend a vast amount of money that could be put to better use in purchasing a home and getting established in life (at least in MY opinion, right?) on their wedding and reception.  That does NOT give me the right to go to their wedding and reception, standing around and being nasty or waving a sign pointing out their foolishness.  It does not give the government the right to forbid them from doing so either.

Heck, I might even think that marriage is a ridiculously antiquated monogamous ceremony that is in opposition to our biological and natural sexual and social needs and object to a couple’s marriage on those grounds alone.  Does that give me the right to cause a scene at the wedding? To forbid it?

Wake up, America.  We don’t need more rabid and inflammatory religious or anti-religious sects.  We need the concept of courtesy to lead us towards harmonious respect and co-existence.

Oh, and for the fundamentalists that I have undoubtedly offended…if you are a Christian, see A.  If you are an Atheist, see B.

A) What would Jesus do?  Jesus did not advocate violence of any kind, nor was he ever cruel or rude to others.  His original doctrine was one of kindness and teaching, of giving and not taking.  He had no church, no fancy car, and financial success didn’t happen either.  He never built a church building and never took up the sword either.  He sure never cut someone’s hair,  jailed anyone or took away their personal property because they didn’t agree with him on religion.

B)  If religions are all based on the concept of an imaginary friend, then why are you so adamant about the whole thing?  Do you spend that much time and effort in the eradication of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?  Do you even THINK about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?  How about Rainbow Brite?  Strawberry Shortcake? The Gingerbread Man?  Star Wars? Star Trek?  Heck, all of Hollywood is based on imaginary friends, so I guess it’s also the equivalent of Vatican City!

The Facebook Bubble

18 Apr

There are rumors flying that the Facebook bubble is about to burst, that it has exceeded its own growth potential, resulting in a speedy demise.

Maybe it has, and maybe it hasn’t.  I’m not an expert, but…I am smart enough to learn from the past.  That’s what history is for, isn’t it?

We have had a lot of bubbles related to the internet.  The dot com bubble burst some time ago.  MySpace, once the king of social networking, is pretty much history.  I have an account, but I have logged into it about twice in the last three years.  Even then, it was just to connect with someone who hadn’t moved on to Facebook, not because I cared about my own account.  I didn’t like it much, and I found it awkward and with an excessively youthful nature.  Facebook suited me better, with a more run of the mill air about it as Every Man and Every Woman took to it like ducks to water.  Now, I actually know some people who think the internet IS Facebook, never leaving its comforting pages to wander unfettered through the digital universe we have collectively created.

At the same time, people aren’t going to magically abandon Facebook unless something better comes along.  Google presented us with Google Plus, then disappointed many users as it adopted more and more features that resembled those of Facebook.  We hadn’t flocked to it for a Facebook replacement, we had flocked there to find something DIFFERENT.  Somehow, I think it may have failed to deliver what we were craving, although it does have some of the features people seek.

So what do people want?

That is the million dollar question really.  In general, among the people I have approached , they want some specific things:

Ability to connect with others with similar ideas/interests.

Ability to control how much information is made public.

Ability to integrate and yet separate their private and public personas.  (Yes, they are different!  We all have our pro side, and then we have the side who gets depressed, eats a quart of ice cream, a whole bag of chips, and vegs on the sofa for an entire weekend in their pajamas…featuring My Little Pony on the bodice.  Do we really want our co-worker and clients s to see our angst?)

The ability to share things, especially cute kittens and political  memes.  Oh, and their opinions, of course.  Often.  Without.  Thinking.

The real kicker is that it is hard to keep public and private separate, and yet it is very important.  More and more companies want to take a look at who you are on Facebook before..and after….hiring you.  There have been cases where they wanted the passwords as well, even before hiring you.  (Not sure how legal that really is, and I would object strongly, but desperation in this job market probably inspired many applicants to just give in.)  Law enforcement is looking harder at this information as well, and many people suspect that the government spies on us all continually through social media.  If so, I hope they enjoy the recipes and cute animal pictures  that litter my posts.  Oh, and MouseHunt, the one game that I keep on playing.

So, that big mysterious agency, which is called Big Undercover Liberty Limiting Special Host of Investigating Technicians (BULLSHIT for short) is watching our every tweet and post, whether its on Google Plus, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or Secret Text Updating Data Inside Technology (aka STUPID) status update in search of covert, illegal, or terrorist activities.  That’s a big job, and it’s an important one.  After all, not even the super snooping capabilities of the latest CARNIVORE government spyware program can detect and analyze the language used inside of a cute kitten meme.  They have even found it necessary to put undercover agents into the dating sites in search of terrorists and anarchists who are using these sites to find women to marry and then obtain legal status to continue their illegal activities in the United States.

Sure they are.

The US is notorious, world wide, for their strong stance against illegal entry compared to other countries.

And I have a couple of bridges for sale, one on each coast of the USA, been in the family for a long time…

Go try sneaking into Mexico, China, North Korea, or heck, even sneak into Iraq while  you are at it.  After you have your “vacation” they’ll send you home, free of charge, right?

Wrong.

But that’s okay, we’re okay with that.  Just like we’re okay with the way Facebook is going.  Never mind that we’re already suspicious of their marketing techniques and desires to use our names and images to promote other goods and services.  We’ll happily go along with it, until the rats all find another ship to jump to.  All we have to do is figure out which ship will be the one they choose, so we’re riding along with our own cheese store, right?

At least  we know what it won’t be.  It won’t be Yahoo, MSN, AOL, MySpace, or G+.  Will it simply fracture apart, as people opt to leave the ultra populated space for smaller, more intimate and more user-responsive versions of social media?

Actually, I think that’s what I would place my bet on.  As shifts occur in how we interact, obtain our information and entertainment, how we shop, and where we work, we’re going to see that continual evolution.  Chat programs, while now usually subscription based, are becoming increasingly popular, and often oriented to topic or demographic data oriented.  We want our information and written entertainment also delivered digitally, and that creates another mode of connection.

That makes me wonder.  What if Amazon introduced a social media program, one that allowed people to discuss types of products, literary works by genre, etc.?  Would we see the rise of that type of social media connection, one provided by the seller of goods as a way to encourage people to continue shopping via their website rather than to venture into the “real world” with all of its inconveniences, expenses and dangers?

Or maybe we’ll see the right wing control factor coming into play, and instead of corporations operating the social media, it will become a government sponsored, controlled, and monitored environment.  We’ll all be tagged with our personal data, preventing any more mysterious encounters, as well as encounters of the really dangerous sort that we’ve all heard about.

The ancient Chinese may have regarded “May you live in interesting times” as a curse, but it’s our mantra.  We do live in interesting times, and who knows how they’ll be regarded in the future.  Are we going to be immortalized in unrealistic works of fiction that equate this era to the Wild Wild West that really never was what the movies portray it as?

That could be too.  All I know is that we’re going to see changes, some from evolution, others from reactionary governments.  We’ll see how our data is delivered and censored change, as well as who delivers what will change.  The wild and utterly independent voices of today’s internet radio may be silenced in the coming years, as expenses continue to rise as economies continue to struggle.  We don’t know.

But, it will definitely be interesting to watch and find out, won’t it?

 

Stupidity of Daylight Savings time and election mania?

4 Nov

I’ve ranted about it before, and I will rant about it again today…and twice a year for as long as the idiocy continues.  Daylight savings time is an idiotic concept, dreamed up and perpetuated by ridiculous propaganda that far too many people buy into.  If it saves so much energy…why don’t we just STAY on that time?  What do people really think they are saving?

But speaking about ridiculous propaganda, have  you paid much attention to the stuff circulating on the social media sites as people wave the figurative flag of their favored candidate?

It’s made me realize, with a two party system, we really are given a choice.

Between a rock and a hard place.

That’s about all the difference I really see between the parties.  The parties and their candidates are so far out of touch with what life is like for Average Joe and Average Jane that we may as well elect Brad Pitt for president.

Heck, he might even do a better job.  If not, well, at least he’d make interesting photo ops, right?

Neither party represents what we’ll call the “working man” of American society.  They don’t have a clue what our lives are like.

Like Mitt Romney’s wife, featured in an article about how she went shopping at Sam’s Club.  She was immensely proud of her ability to feed a large gathering of family for only $4.50 per person for the meal.  I don’t think she’d be too happy with my food budget, capped at $5 per person per day.  Some months, if there are extra bills to pay, well…the food budget gives up a portion of it’s funding to cover the deficit.  She’d even be more horrified to discover that if I’m serving guests, it comes out of the monthly budget, not an extra slush fund.  So does holiday cooking, as a matter of fact.  While the Romneys might not be concerned at the reports of higher prices for serving up the traditional turkey dinner later this month, for the rest of us, that IS a concern.  We can’t spend what we’re not earning, and there are still not enough jobs to get everyone back to work that has been looking for work since this recession started.  It’s unfortunate that with each passing year, we’ve seen more jobs going overseas too.

For those of us struggling to make ends meet, to pay our bills, and to just get by, while family members are unemployed or underemployed…having to deal with an English-is-a-second-language customer service rep in some foreign country is really a slap in the face.  It’s another reminder of how many jobs we’ve lost to countries with lower standards of living and more relaxed workplace laws.

In the stores, it’s hard to buy American made goods.  It’s harder yet to buy from companies that have American based customer service.  I don’t think it’s an unrealistic expectation that if I buy an item or service with American money while I am in the United States, that customer service will be provided in the United States as well.

Then, there is health care.  I’ll admit, I am not thrilled with the Obamacare package, but…I wasn’t thrilled with nothing either.  Do I think that it’s the best that our government could come up with?  No…and it shouldn’t be so long that nobody can possibly read it and understand what it says either.  That’s the problem with these bills–they are excessively complicated and too often contain unrelated stuff.  Each bill should be one thing, written in a manner that any average person can understand it, but they aren’t.  Washington has become a place of bureaucrats worried about perpetuating their own existence, whether elected or appointed or hired.

The part that I think stinks is the idea that people are to be forced to buy health insurance.  Seriously, I don’t know anyone who can afford health insurance and opts to just not buy it for some reason.  I’ve priced it, long before Obama was ever heard of, and there was no way I could afford it, even just major medical was about 30% of my monthly take home pay, and there wasn’t any way I could give up that much of my monthly income and survive.  Utilities, rent, and automobile insurance already took care of about 80% of my net pay!  That left very little for luxuries such as food, gasoline, clothing, medical expenses, and assorted sundries.  Taking a second job wasn’t an option, really–my job required extensive overtime already, and while I was paid for it…that extra overtime is what was used for those “luxuries” I bought.

So I read the things that the candidates say, I read the things that their opponents say about them.  I read the things their supporters say about them.  I read the “fact checker” articles.

I’ve concluded that I was right.  We do have a choice between a rock and a hard place.  It then comes down to specific issues that are…or are not…supported by the two parties.

What concerns me?

  1. Women’s rights, including reproductive rights.  I’m pro-choice, and before anyone gets their underwear in a wad over that…let me clarify that statement.  I am pro-choice, not pro-abortion.  There is a very clear difference.  While I don’t think that abortion is the right choice for me, in any circumstances that I have actually faced, I also don’t think that it is the government’s job to make that decision for me…or any other woman.   I don’t think my boss should be able to decide if my insurance is going to cover birth control either.  There are many reasons and many circumstances for a woman’s choice, and few women are going to choose to use abortion as birth control if they have any conscience or concept of right and wrong.  If they don’t have those things, well, do we really want her reproducing anyhow?  Morality cannot be legislated, and there should not be an attempt to do so.  Laws are to protect society as a whole, and allow individuals to not have their personal rights infringed upon by others.  While that includes freedom of religion, it does not give anyone the right to impose their religious standards and expectations on others.  Period.
  2. Right to bear arms.  Okay, these mass murders we’ve had at schools and theaters have been horrific and shouldn’t have happened.  Yes, I know many other civilized countries have banned weapons of all kinds.  That doesn’t mean I support weapons being banned in this country.  Regulated and restricted perhaps, but not banned.  Assault rifles aren’t needed for hunting or self-protection.  Automatic rifles and handguns aren’t either.  Armor penetrating ammunition and weapons are also not particularly appealing to think of my neighbor having and using for target practice.  I think we need to address the underlying causes of these incredible acts of violence more than act on restricting gun ownership excessively.  Do we ban bathtubs for the accidents they cause?  Have pools been banned due to the high numbers of children that have drowned in them?  Do we still allow downhill skiing after people die in skiing accidents?  How about cars and car accidents and their fatalities?
  3. Same sex marriage.  I’m not gay, and I never was.  I’m not even bi-sexual.  I am in a traditional marriage, even if our wedding was far from traditional.  My parents weren’t gay, neither is my daughter.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t support the concept of equality among all Americans.  While I don’t deny that states can allow or forbid same sex marriage according to their citizens’ wishes, I don’t think that the federal government should be able to override those states’ rights to choose either.  Currently, federal law does not allow federal employees in a legal same sex marriage to enjoy the same benefits for their spouses that someone in a so-called traditional marriage enjoys.  I think this is wrong.  I have little hope of Mississippi, my current home state, is going to legalize same sex marriages anytime soon.  It’s got far too high of a percentage of ultra conservative citizens for that to happen.  But, if it was allowed…I don’t think the federal government should deny benefits to those people’s spouses because they don’t agree with it.
  4. Education.  It wasn’t working, so they tried “No Child Left Behind.”  That’s working about as well as new math did.  It’s absolutely not working, instead of educating kids and preparing them for the real world, whether that includes college or a job, kids are spending the year prepping for their standardized test.  Something else needs to be done, and this ineffective method of measuring both school and teacher performance needs replaced with something a bit more effective.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you went to a fast food restaurant, local store, or other location with staff that needs nothing beyond high school to get a job…and they actually could SPEAK American Standard English?  How many high school students can actually write down a coherent telephone message that anyone could read and understand, let alone write an essay for a college class?
  5. Jobs/Industry.  Face it.  We lack an industrial base and we’re importing too many goods.  We need jobs, we have willing workers.  We need to figure out how to get people back to work, back to creating the things that made America into what it was.  We need factories running, producing goods that are high quality and reliable.  We’ve all had enough of cheap, shoddy, imported garbage.
  6. National Transit System.  We rebuilt Europe’s trains after World War II, or so I’m told, but we can’t get trains to cover the USA in anything resembling efficient and cost effective.  It costs more to ride a train than it does to take a plane or even drive, and Amtrak is subsidized by the federal government.  Few cities have train stations where passengers and small freight can be economically transported to the next city, county, state, or anywhere.  In addition, the transit times when trains are used are utterly ridiculous.  We need efficient mass transportation beyond the urban bus and subway systems.  We need it both within states and to other cities and states, providing efficient and low cost transportation coast to coast.  Putting such a rail system into place would employ thousands of people, from creating the infrastructure to service jobs when it is up and running.  It would appeal to foreign tourists as well, especially since most industrialized countries have train systems already.
  7. Legalization of hemp & medical marijuana.  Hemp is a good crop, and it’s good for a lot of applications.  It can be used for making rope, paper, and clothing, as well as a host of other things.  It’s a good fiber, and more durable than cotton.  Medical marijuana is a good product too, when properly used.  Even recreational marijuana is less of a problem with the users than those people using alcohol.  Taxed and regulated, it would remove marijuana from the hands of drug cartels, reducing their income and clout not only in the United States, but in the countries where their supplies of marijuana are grown and prepared for smuggling into the United States.  The tax revenue would enhance the American budget, maybe even bringing the annual deficit down a notch, especially if recreational use was legalized.
  8. Energy.  We’re going to have to bite the bullet and come up with alternative energy plans.  We’ve seen the disasters nuclear reactors can deliver.  We’re seeing the disaster of the oil industry, each and every day.  We need inexpensive and efficient energy to recreate a strong economy.  We don’t have it, therefore, we need to figure out how to get it.  If we got a man to the moon, not once, but several times, and did it with computers that had less power than the old Nintendo 64…surely we can figure this problem out.  Quit subsidizing the oil industry and let them struggle on their own, they’ve been milking America too long.  Devote attention to alternative energy that is less costly, both to the consumer and the environment, and put America at the forefront again.
  9. Taxes.  Corporations.  Okay, taxes are something nobody wants to pay.  We’re all a bit tired of corporate entities making huge profits while paying little in terms of taxes, and then adding to the insult by outsourcing portions of their business to foreign countries.  We’re sick of them lobbying Congress for favoritism.  We’re tired of paying the bill, you might say.  It’s time to start taking a good hard look at how corporations are affecting the way we elect politicians, and how they affect the bills that go through Congress to become laws.  It’s a form of corruption, folks.  Plain and simple.  These corporations are doing nothing more than paying politicians for favors, no matter how it is sugar coated.
  10. Foreign aid.  I really do not understand why we are borrowing money only to give it away to other countries.  That makes no sense to me.  If I am unable to pay my bills without borrowing money, it would be foolish to give my money to other people after I borrowed it.  Why is the federal government continuing to do something that any of us would look askance at a private individual doing?  I think it’s time that foreign aid is cut back, if not eliminated, and there should be more accountability as to why we’re giving it to anyone.

There are a lot more issues too, more than I could possibly put in here, but those are the top ten ones.  Neither party is very concerned about all of them.  None of the candidates are either.  So who do I vote for?

I’ll cast a vote in less than forty eight hours now.

I have no idea who I’m going to vote for right now.  Just when I think one candidate or another has trumped finally, they show signs of obviously reneging.  I was never a fan of Obama, so I have to admit that he has done better than I thought he would.  At the same time, the Romney/Ryan ticket isn’t exactly thrilling either.  I’m not a Romney fan, and the idea of something happening that would catapult Ryan into the Oval Office makes me gag.  Biden’s not a rocket scientist either though, and I actually had someone crack a joke about Biden being Obama’s “insurance policy” so that no one would assassinate him–they were afraid that Biden would then become president.

Once again, it seems that I’m faced with a choice of who I am going to vote against rather than who I am going to go vote for.  Which candidate has the most potential to cause harm?  Are we better off with the devil we know…or a new devil?

Oh will I be glad when Tuesday is over.  I’ll have my mind back, as well as cease to see the endless parade of pro-this candidate or anti-that candidate on my Facebook wall!

Independent thinking

1 Apr

Years ago, I was called into the school for a session with the school psychologist.  My daughter, then in primary grades, had just been through a battery of tests.  The school was armed with a long list of learning disabilities, and I was a bit overwhelmed by their “diagnosis” and demands.

In the course of our conversation, the psychologist announces in a disdainful voice, as though we had some type of social disease, that my daughter was an “independent thinker” and that I obviously was too.  I was shocked.

Wasn’t independent thinking something that all parents hope their children exhibit?

Apparently not, and it was also something that the school system did not encourage either.  To me, the opposite of independent thinking is essentially a herd mentality.

Is this what the public school system is encouraging?

I’ll admit, I made some serious mistakes in terms of her education and the public school system.  I didn’t take her out and home school her until she was in the 8th grade, at the same time that I discovered that she was functionally illiterate, and it wasn’t due to any cognitive deficiencies either.  She had been outsmarting the “professionals” in the school system for years.

With a family that put high value on books and reading, it was an appalling situation.  She had to learn to read and write effectively, or she was going to face a life severely handicapped by her inability to do so.

To make a long story short, she did learn to read and write.  It wasn’t easy, and as any mother knows…mothers and daughters at that age have enough conflicts to begin with, and adding this issue made the equation very difficult.  She didn’t like me very much for a while, but I’m thrilled that today, as a mother herself, she can not only read and write effectively, she reads for enjoyment.

That’s a long ways from the 8th grader that couldn’t tell time on a clock face or read a menu in a restaurant or take a phone message that was understandable by anyone (even herself.)  Her learning disabilities didn’t vanish, they still existed, the difference was in how they were being managed when she was faced with a teacher that was also Mom.  Busy work vanished, instead she got practical practice at reading and writing.  Excuses also vanished, because instead of dealing with tests and I-can’t-do-that or I-don’t-know, there was okay, it’s hard, but if you do it like this, maybe it will be easier.

I didn’t care if she read from a reading book, a comic book, a novel, or the latest dog show catalog…I just wanted her to be able to read!

After being home schooled, at seventeen she took a GED course and obtained her GED.  

Do I think she missed out on things?

Yes, but she was frequently hospitalized from age 15-18 due to Type 1 diabetes complications.  She would have had a lot of trouble passing classes in the traditional public high school because of these frequent absences as well.  She would have also been dealing with more peer pressure, continued mismanagement of her learning disabilities, and her functional illiteracy would have been continually masked.  In addition, since she had been raised to question things that she found contradictory, unfair, unreasonable, or wrong, she would have been regarded as a “problem student.”

Not that she was an angel.  She was a challenge her entire life.  She can still be “hard headed” and “stubborn” about some things, and on occasion, I’ll even accuse her of being narrow minded.  I am still immensely proud of her and the person she has become.  I not only love her intensely, but I like her too.  I really enjoy doing things with her.  I know she isn’t perfect, but I haven’t met a perfect person yet.

But back to the independent thinking thing.

Why would a public school encourage a “herd mentality” versus the independent thinking?

Herds are easier to manage.  They don’t question authority, they just do as they are told.  The teacher and other staff are always right, and the status quo is maintained.  These students grow up and go on to college, technical schools, and the work force, carrying along their sheep-like herding tendencies. They pay taxes, vote, and raise their family to also stay within the herd.

It’s a conspiracy to erase the independent thinking and ingenuity that has created this country.  We are now facing the second generation of widespread encouragement of this herd mentality and what do we have?

A disastrous economy, politicians that are more corrupt than ever, increasingly restrictive laws, virtually no privacy, increasing instances of censorship,  rampant crime, high rates of debt, lack of industry…

And a whole lot of sheeple.

Don’t let “them” turn your kids into sheeple.  Don’t join the herd yourself.  Practice independent thinking, follow your own conscience and heart.  Reward your kids for doing what my dad always called “using your head for something besides a hat rack.”  Wood makes a better hat rack anyhow!

 

Ron Paul, Google Plus, and uncircling

22 Feb

Google Plus has become my new favorite place to hang out and find interesting people and ideas and even websites.  It’s amazing, it’s like Twitter, it’s like Facebook, but it is also its own kettle of fish.  It’s not as sentimental & sappy as Facebook can be sometimes with its syrupy sweet sayings and quotes, it has some meat to it.  It’s also not restricted to 140 characters like Twitter, so ideas aren’t left skeletal and requiring the reader to click on a link to get the whole thing.

I like it.  Greg isn’t as fond of it as I am, but I seriously think that it is a great place to go and share ideas.  I don’t know who said it first, but it has been said that Facebook is for the people you know, and Google Plus (shortened to G+ usually) is for the people you want to know.

For some reason, just like on Twitter, it has a popularity contest facet as well.  Some people think if you don’t circle them back, you aren’t worth listening to and keeping in a circle.  I guess I’m not into that game–I failed that class in junior high.  I circle people because I think they have something interesting to share with me.  I don’t circle people thinking we are now engaged in a lifelong joined-at-the-hip relationship.

For some people, they don’t get it.  They have an idea, they cling to it with every breath they take, and they are bound and determined to share it with you…twenty seven times a day, via a personal message.  The first day of this bombardment, I tuned it out, certain that the person would get over it.  After all, they only had been circled by a handful of people.

Before long, I understood WHY only a handful of people had circled the person in question.  I was bombarded more than once an hour with a personal message via G+ about Ron Paul.

Okay, technically, I am a Republican, but only because declaring a party of some sort is a habit, I never vote straight ticket, and really don’t agree with the mainline of Republican politics a lot.  I’m actually one of those peculiar species…on even days of the month, I am a devout conservative liberal.  On the odd days of the month, I am transformed into a devout liberal conservative.

So what does that mean, really?

Not much.  It means I like to see smaller government that isn’t in the daily lives of honest, hard working, law abiding citizens.  It means that I’m pro-choice and anti-abortion too.  It means I think that marijuana should be legalized.

It means I also rarely approve of anybody who sits in the Oval Office.  It’s nothing personal, they are just easy to dislike, even though I’m completely aware that most of the bills I see in the news are an issue of our Congress.  I dislike them too, it’s practically mandatory since my dislike is totally democratic.  I honestly don’t think we have a truly honest politician in Washington D.C.

But…I’m digressing.

Poor Ron Paul…he has this fanatical supporter on his side.  He really should pay this person to support someone else, because after less than 48 hours of the spamming…I hated Ron Paul.  The G-plusser also was becoming hated.  It was annoying, since a personal message also pops into my email.  I get notified its there…every time one was sent.  It was time to uncircle someone.

Now I didn’t have anything against Ron Paul before.  I wasn’t sure I liked him either–it was a typical case of I liked some things, and was really unhappy about some others.  I’m also that way about all of the other Republican runners still in the race.  Even so, for me, Ron Paul did seem SLIGHTLY better than the others.

Until the spam.

Will I get over it?

Well, I may not like Obama, but compared to the ones running against him, he looks like a much safer bet.  It won’t be a case of voting FOR anyone in this election…as usual.  It will be a case of voting against someone worse.

It’s funny though, how passionate people can get over their favorite candidates.  I wish someone inspired me to that level of support, but most aren’t even able to inspire me to write an x in favor of them versus the other guy.  Usually the x is chosen to vote against someone when I’m actually there with my ballot.  That is sad.

We need to get big business and corporations out of the business of politics somehow.  I’m tired of corporate sponsors decided who wins by donating more money so they have a better advertising campaign.  It smacks of buying votes to me, and it sure as heck hasn’t gotten “Average Joe” or “Average Jane” good representation in Washington.  Getting elected to public office shouldn’t mean that the winner has a free lunch ticket for life, and that’s what it has boiled down to these days.

Have you ever noticed, that when it’s time to do a budget crunch, who they choose to threaten with no check?

Social security, federal workers, and our military…

It’s never Congress that is going to miss out on that check.  It’s never Congress that is looking at a pay cut.  Social security wasn’t originally even in their hands…until they started dipping into their funds to fuel congressional spending.  Now, when it has to go back to pay out for the current recipients, they are screaming like three year olds who can’t have an ice cream cone.

They are also apparently exempt from the Obamacare plan.  They are probably also the only ones happy with it, as the current plan doesn’t seem to be doing what everyone hoped it would, which was provide universal health care, and instead is looking like a logistic nightmare more intent on punishing everyone than it is in making anyone healthier.

Obama has used G+ hang outs to talk with people.  I find that amazing and somehow heart warming too.  Keep in mind, I have never been an Obama fan, but at the same time, I like seeing a president take use of modern technology to connect with the people of this country.  It’s a lot safer and less expensive than public appearances too, which makes sense in a cash strapped economy.  I don’t know about the rest of the world, but seeing national leaders spending money unnecessarily while their citizens are struggling to pay bills does not look good.  My biggest complaint about our political leaders is that they are out of touch with reality for most of us.  Granted, it’s probably a small slice of the nation that is using G+ hang outs at this point, but it IS a start.

Now if I can get up the time, energy, and motivation to try out using the hang outs.  It would be a start for me too.

If you want to circle me on G+, that’s fine…but remember, I do not automatically circle back.  It’s not out of snobbery, but out of sheer practicality.  I don’t have time to go through the list of who-has-circled-me and add them back.  I add people when they pop up when I’m searching on a topic.  I add people when I have time and they have commented on a post.  Sometimes, I’m busy or distracted…and it takes another comment or two before I get my “round tuit.”  I don’t post a LOT of stuff, especially compared to my spamming former circled person…but what I do post is mostly publicly available.  I’m not playing the popularity game…like I said…I failed that class in Junior High!

With that said…Happy Hump Day!  It’s Wednesday again, and Mardi Gras is over, and we’re officially in Lent.

The future…past and present

16 Feb

Once upon a time, when predictions were made about the future, it included things like clean cities, efficient transportation and communication, fast transportation, peace, good educations, healthy diets, good health care, and all the things that we still are striving towards obtaining for our society as a whole.

I’m serious.  Here’s an article that lists some of 1911’s predictions in Ladies Home Journal.  They aren’t particularly accurate, although they do have some intriguing ideas.  Just for the record, I am glad the horse isn’t “practically extinct.”  I like horses, even if my riding days are probably long gone.

That article has some predictions about the future, with everyone having implants that monitor our health conditions and allow electronic house calls.  I’m not sure about that.  I may be wrong, but I don’t see that in the crystal ball I’m using.  My crystal ball seems to b e similar to the ones used by many people I know.  It’s a lot more gloomy than I like.

We see war, and we’ve seen war.  It seems to be an unending series of conflicts to me, punctuated with periodic “cease fires” and a change of venue, but it’s like a rock band that never stops touring.  It goes on and on…and on.  I’ve never been in the military myself, although other family members and friends have been.  A young man, sort of our adopted “god son” in a fashion, is leaving soon for boot camp, mostly spurred by the lack of jobs and ability to attend college because of money.  We worry about him, he’s newly married and a bright young star in our world.  He’s just a little bit younger than my son would have been now, and maybe that’s part of my attachment to him.  I understand the worry of a parent with a child going off to join the military.  There isn’t really any glory in death, just the loss of a bright young star in your life.  I don’t think politicians see it that way either.  Their kids aren’t going into the military as a way to escape grinding struggle and impending poverty, they are going to Harvard or Yale or Southern Cal…or anywhere but the US Army.

As for health care for the future, well, it’s obvious that something has to change.  I was talking to someone this week, they are having a health crisis with a serious disease, and the latest medication to treat it costs $30,000 per month.  It is hoped that this treatment will allow them to avoid chemotherapy in an attempt to control it.  What kind of medicine can justify a price of $30,000 per month for its use?  What can it be made out of?  I know research is expensive…but $30K a month?  No wonder the insurance company in question is refusing to pay for it.  No wonder no other insurance company would pick up a patient with a pre-existing condition like this either!  It’s as though the pharmaceutical companies are  blackmailing sick people and their families with “Either you pay us or you are going to die.”

What kind of a situation is that?

We’re seeing the middle class of America begin to vanish.  The jobs that once fueled the economy and put that vast middle class to work are disappearing into foreign countries, and the goods they once manufactured are being manufactured overseas.  Unfortunately, that also means that the people that once bought all of these manufactured goods are now suffering from “fiscal problems” and there are fewer buyers for everything from houses to cars to toy cars.  I wanted to buy an American made bicycle.  Unfortunately, there are very few of them anymore, and they are all very expensive, at least by my standards.  Many of those bicycles cost as much as the 1999 Chevy Venture Mini-van cost when we bought it several years ago.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to “buy American”.  Even on our mini-van, from an American manufacturer, probably contains a large number of parts and other components that were manufactured in some other country.  You don’t get a list of where those parts came from either.

So, in 100 years, where will the American middle class be?  Nearly extinct, I suspect.  That shrinking middle class will mean a lot of other things, once fueled by that vast middle class, will also shrink.  That will include things like government services, universities and colleges, school systems, sports, health care facilities, and parks.  Few people will get an education beyond the 12th grade, and we may see more drop outs, as the high school diploma doesn’t mean much either if there are no jobs to be had that require it.  Poverty, crime, and disease will spread rampantly through the country.  More facilities will employ both security guards and physical security structures to keep intruders out, including private residences.  Corruption in public offices will increase as well.

It’s a pretty gloomy picture, and while these dark scenes will play out in a large portion of the country, I believe there will be regions that remain somewhat ‘bright spots’ on the map.  These communities will pool their efforts to maintain peace and a semblance of prosperity, although probably a different model than the towns of today use.  These may be more along the lines of a “planned community” crossed with a corporation, designed to benefit the “shareholders” or residents of the community with everything from cooperative commerce to farming/agriculture and education.  Just like medieval times, they may employ features like walls to protect the town itself, along with armed guards at the city gates and patrolling the streets.  So much for those who advocate gun control–it’s the guns that make communities such as this somewhat safe from roving gangs.

I guess I don’t see our federal government as being capable of maintaining order any better than it has managed its war on terrorism or the war on drugs.  It’s invested too much in foreign aid and ignored too many problems here for too long.  We see too many cities and towns with too many streets that are not safe to walk down, too many schools that need armed security guards on duty, and too little learning going on within their walls.  We’ve had our head stuck in the sand as a nation for so long that I don’t see it changing anytime soon.  Apathy is rampant.

Then, there are the GMOs.  I don’t know if they are safe or  not.  The problem is…neither do they.  Genetic diversity and crop diversity are two features agriculture has employed to prevent a repeat of Ireland’s infamous Potato Famine.  We seem to have let that lesson get forgotten now though, and it may come back to bite us.  We need labeling and we need testing…and we need an FDA that is mandated to protect the consumer, not the corporation.  Right now, we don’t have any of that, and a famine or other biological disaster hitting these experimental crops could be a disaster unlike any we’ve ever seen before.  That would destroy this nation in a way that the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl failed to.  What if these foods cause a mutation in human genes resulting in some weird birth defects?  What if it isn’t in the first generation, but the second or third, that it hits?  What then?

I want a nice sunny future where my granddaughter lives in the Land of Milk and Honey…and it isn’t toxic.  I want her safe, happy, and reasonably prosperous.  I want her to be healthy.  The reality is that I’m not seeing these things as being commonly available to the masses in the future.  I’m seeing poverty, disease, despair, struggles, conflicts…and I don’t like it.  There is only one way to deal with such a future though.

Start working to change it.

Sitting around and singing the blues won’t fix it.  Neither will ignoring it.  We have to work now to ensure a safe environment and reasonable society for our grandchildren…and their grandchildren.  Do something.  Vote.  Write to your congressmen and women.  Be part of the change for the future, don’t wait for “them” to do it for you.

 

Politics, liberalism, socialism, conservatives, and the Occupy Movement

11 Oct

I live in Mississippi, one of THE most conservative states in the Union.  It isn’t known for progressive ideas or having a fondness for change.  I didn’t live here during the previous election, and have no idea if they voted for President Obama or not.  It doesn’t even matter to me.  Sometimes, I have to roll my eyes, because as a Liberal Conservative or Conservative Liberal…I find some things woefully outdated here.  Like requiring Greg and I to have a syphilis blood test to get our marriage license–of all the things to test for in 2011, syphilis is actually the least of them.  Only one other state apparently requires this blood test.  I am not sure what they do if you turn out to HAVE syphilis, no one informed us of that when we were inquiring about the requirements.

There are a lot of things that I do not anticipate happening in Mississippi in the coming century.  Things like medical marijuana are about as likely as a herd of state supported flying pigs.  Part of me is very surprised about the states that have casinos–I honestly wonder how they got the necessary laws passed, since gambling is regarded as a social evil by most of the counties within the state.  I suspect that it was tax dollars that appeared in legislatures eyes and helped push the bill–those dollar signs can often trump moral righteousness.

So this morning, I leafed through the paper, which because of our proximity to Mobile, Alabama, also contains substantial Mobile news.  Inside, there was a political cartoon, often a good sign of which way the wind is blowing in terms of local public opinion.

Mobile is unlikely to have a viable Occupy Movement group get a grasp on the hearts and souls of its citizens, it seems.  I’d not put my money on that horse anyhow.  The cartoon I saw illustrated public opinion (or so we suspect.)  It showed a “future protester” and then the adult protester, indicating that a protester was a grown-up spoiled child demanding something that his betters had decided wasn’t necessary or even good for him.

I’ve heard a lot about the socialism of the Occupy Movement, but I don’t perceive it as socialist movement.  I perceive it as an anti-corruption movement at its core, for it is the corruption that has caused so many problems.  Politicians apparently don’t like being regarded as a pestilence upon democracy either, but they’ve done it to themselves…with the voters consent.

Jefferson got re-elected in Louisiana, while under indictment for accepting bribes, and the videos were apparently shown on national television repeatedly.  The voters did the re-electing, and Jefferson was convicted with the evidence against him, resulting in his seat needed to be filled.  At least you can’t represent your district while currently incarcerated, even in Louisiana.  That isn’t pointing the finger at Louisiana, either.  They aren’t the only state with corruption, even if everyone likes to think they are.  They likely aren’t even the worst about it, they are judged guilty because its often not a secret, whereas the other states like to bury their heads in the sand and deny its existence.  That’s all the fault of an apathetic voter population.  If you don’t get out and demand better, you sure won’t get it!

Politics always caters to the lowest common denominator.

We have let our government become a government stuffed to the gills with corruption, bureaucrats,  red tape, pompous and arrogant politicians, and corporate shills.  This is the result.  Don’t like it? Do something about it.  Like it this way? Do something to keep it this way, like almost nothing.

I’m a bit uncertain about the Occupy Movement, I’ll admit that.  I’m not physically up to coping with the rigors of being a demonstrator myself either, and the idea of being roughed up by police is extremely intimidating to me because of my physical issues.  How would I cope with that kind of abuse?  Is it reasonable to even contemplate such a thing?

Maybe I’m excessively empathetic to their situation and idealism, but once upon a time, I too was young and idealistic, and I would have been right there with everyone else, fighting for what I believed in.  Now…I realize that when you get smacked with a baton, bones and tissue can be seriously damaged and take months to heal.  I struggle with daily routines such as getting dressed and brushing my hair, how could I defend myself when confronted with angry and aggressive police officers?

Do I think that these demonstrators are the adult versions of spoiled children?  Not in most cases, but there can be some–they grow up and go SOMEWHERE, don’t they?  Spoiled children just usually don’t grow up to become empathetic adults with social woes on their minds.  They usually grow up to become adults without empathy for others and greed on their minds–the same ones that have fed this cycle of corruption and greed.

I do think there is a lot of idealism in the Occupy Movement, and while that can be a good thing, it can go horribly wrong too.  We saw the rise of many communes in the 60s and 70s.  They had great ideas, but the idealism didn’t always follow through–too many didn’t realize that EVERYONE has to contribute equally, or some get tired and disgruntled, and move on.  Communes were an extreme example of idealism, and the bigger they were, the harder they fell.  They didn’t work.  Utopia isn’t found in a commune.  People are often lazy and greedy at the same time, and they can shatter idealism to the core in a season of hard work.

We’ve tried a lot of things in America that turned out to be big mistakes, and we’ve had to work hard to rectify them when we made them, as a nation, as states, as communities, and as individuals.  We’ve built a big government, and we’re discovering that it was a big mistake now.  It’s gotten too big for its britches, and it spends more time thwarting individual rights than it does in protecting society from corporate predators.

Corporate predators…those massive entities that apparently have “rights” as individuals, yet lack responsibilities.    Our current woes include things like GMOs, oil spills, high energy prices, low wages, out-sourcing to foreign countries, importing cheap (and contaminated) goods, high priced medications, lack of health care, and unevenly distributed tax loads.  The list could go on and on, with everything from environmental destruction to even genocide.

We’ve let them get by with it.  Over and over.  What’s that old cliche?

Something along the lines of: Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.

It’s our fault, and it is long past time to do something about it.

Is the Occupy Movement the beginning of “something about it“?

We’ll see.

Weddings, beards, and the Amish

11 Oct

I asked Greg to grow his hair and beard out last summer, about a month after we set a wedding date…so that would make it in July.  He has a very heavy beard, largely coal black although it does have a light sprinkling here and there of silvery hairs.  His hair is VERY thick, very black, and while it’s straight when it’s short, it has a definite curl when it starts getting longer.  In other words, like many men, he has hair AND eyelashes women would die for.  I can only wish that my hair was that thick, that shiny, had that kind of body, etc.

Yeah, I admit it…I get jealous.  It’s even worse because he’s so nonchalant about it and doesn’t even appreciate what he has on his head.  He would happily shave his head, especially in summer.  In winter, he MIGHT appreciate the warmth of such a thick head of hair.

So his usual goatee is long gone.  In its place, we have a thick bushy beard and his head is topped by hair that even I will admit is getting pretty unruly, especially since the owner of that head doesn’t appreciate the use of a hair brush much.  I tried to talk him into letting me tie it up or braid it–no go.  He might be comfortable with his own masculinity, but I have a sneaking suspicion he wants no funny looks or comments from the men in the area for some reason.

Now, if you have gotten this far, you are wondering what on earth the Amish have to do with Greg’s hair, because even though he IS from Ohio, he isn’t Amish, nor am I.  That isn’t necessarily a given, since some formerly Amish people are using the internet, I suppose…somewhere.  I grew up in a very progressive household in Iowa and Arizona.  Greg grew up in Ohio and West Virginia in an equally progressive household.

But, this whole post WAS inspired by an Amish incident recently.  It seems that there is some sort of a religious-based dispute between two groups of Amish in Bergholz, Ohio.  As a result of the dispute, a number of Amish men and women had their hair and beards cut off.  Two of the accused are the sons of a man called Sam Mullet.  (Article is located here.)

This is something you could not make up…that a man named Mullet was responsible for the beards of some Amish men being cut, and the hair of some of the women.

The gist of the story is that the two sons, along with a third man, hired someone to drive them the distance to the other community that had apparently offended Sam Mullet over some religious differences.  With battery operated clippers and scissors, the hair cuts were forced upon their victims, and the perpetrators fled.  The victims are upset, and I can sympathize with them.  I’d be upset, and my hair has no religious significance, nor does my culture demand that it be a certain length or done in a certain way.  The same for Greg.  He has a long beard and long hair right now, with three weeks before the wedding.  I’d be upset if he had his beard and hair cut now, he’s spent several months growing it.

Some of these Amish men and women had spent decades growing theirs.

It seems the Amish quit trimming their beards when they get married.  That would mean that by visual appearance alone, they are declaring the length of their marriage by the length of your beard.  That’s kind of profound in a way, and isn’t easily removed, like stashing your wedding ring in your glove box when you are on that business trip.  (I’ve actually known many men who have done exactly that, and some men have gone as far as to have a girlfriend in several towns and a wife in at least one town…all at the same time.)  Okay, so maybe fooling around doesn’t happen when you are Amish, but…we’ve seen it happen all across the globe in a wide variety of cultures, so I suspect it happens there just like anywhere else.  It is even in the Bible that such incidents occurred.

Not that I am worried about Greg fooling around, I’m not.  But, I have been there, done that before, as I was married before.  I can appreciate a man who is honest and trustworthy as a result.

It’s just that I’m so disappointed in the whole Amish incident.  After all, most Americans regard their choice to maintain a separate and simple life as the epitome of peaceful, and now, we see an incident that is as profoundly violent as anything in the mainstream.  Granted,  there was no blood shed, but this was a violent attack on these peaceful people, in which they had something they valued taken away from them, something that cannot be replaced.  This act has undoubtedly divided their community and caused great dissent as well.

It makes me worry about what on earth is going on when we see the Amish involved in violent episodes too.

Seriously.

We’re seeing protests, riots, acts of violence everywhere…and now among the Amish?  Are we dealing with some kind of cosmic influence that is going to reduce us to brutish mobs tearing our own societies apart?  What is going on?

So, I shall reflect on this new possibility, and at the same time, beginning Wednesday, our own wedding preparations start into high gear.  My mother comes from out of state, and with her arrival, we’ll have the “rocket fuel” drive of an aging parent who’s probably more than ready to marry off her sole single chick, especially since she likes Greg.  She knows ALL of the buttons to push to spur me to action, because even though I’m also a grandmother…I’m still a daughter.

Psychologists would undoubtedly label our family as dysfunctional–it seems that all normal families are.  At the same time, we function well with our dysfunctions.  I come from a family of opinionated, intelligent, and independent women.  We also have smart, independent, and opinionated males.  The outlaws, those who dare marry one of our members, have to be smart, opinionated, tolerant, and independent as well, or they are either not going to last or get run over.

The perfect litmus test, I discovered late in life, is to expose the prospective male to my mother and one or more of her sisters…for several days.  If they survive the experience without a serious misstep, they are a keeper.  If they don’t survive, it prevents a divorce later, because over those several days, they are going to get it all–razzed, teased, tormented, picked on, laughed at, jokes, and our quirky family mores.  Lord help the male who can’t appreciate a matriarchal family, or thinks that it demeans a man to belong to a family that is matriarchal in operation.

That’s the thing.  Matriarchal does not mean that men don’t matter, it simply means that a number of things are the women’s department that may not be mainstream America’s view of “women’s department.”  I’ve long observed that chauvinistic men are the first to fall into the trap of trying to demean the matriarchal family.

The heart of the matriarchal family rests on the basic concept that women are the ones who bear and care for the children, and because of this…they are the ones who teach basic morals, social skills, and the foundation of everything else they will need to become productive adults.  Historically, it also was connected to the idea that no one can question who the mother was, while the father is occasionally open to debate and speculation, and by attaching bloodlines and property to the female line, there were no doubts.

There was also the issue in days gone by of the father’s need to be a soldier or trader, or to travel great distances to find food  or work.  That could be risky, and many a man went off to war or a distant trading location never to be heard of in days gone by.  The woman was the one who held home and hearth together, fed and cared for the children, and ensured that if he did get home, he had something to return to.  If he didn’t return, she would still have to provide for the children and ensure they grew to adulthood.  In today’s society, it’s much more likely to be that there is a divorce rather than a war, trading, hunting, etc. that takes the man from the home.

The woman ensures that the culture remains intact and is passed on to the next generation.  It does not take away from the man being a man, nor of his role as a father.  Men and women, within this context, are merely different, but equal.  Mutual respect are required in order to preserve this kind of balance within a relationship, the family, and the “culture.”  It has nothing to do with one being better or more important.

I honestly find men who think women’s opinions and knowledge is unimportant or irrelevant amusing, even if they are irritating on occasion.  It’s even sadder when they are the fathers of daughters.  Do they want their daughters to be treated that way by the world at large?  If they think their wives are “stupid”, why on earth did they marry them and then dare to procreate?  After all, the woman does contribute half the DNA and is usually the primary caregiver the first few years of life to their children.  Stupidity just MIGHT be “catching” you know!

Then again, that might be part of the insidious plot of Theirs too.

Conspiracy theory alertThey want men to marry stupid women to dumb down the world!  

Maybe that’s what is wrong with society today…decades of encouraging mainstream America to regard women as stupid, shallow and lesser within society to create a society of stupid people!

All of that, just because we decided to have a “hippy” wedding on the beach in the name of Universal Love and Peace in the year 2011…in Hancock County, Mississippi, which caused me to ask Greg to grow out his hair and beard…and made me read that article about the Great Hair Caper in Amish Country, Ohio, and then write this.

That and pumpkins, but that’s a story for another night.

 

 

 

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