Category Archives: Social Rules

02082014 Child and Domestic Abuse Isn’t Caused by Alcohol

My dad is the gentleman on the left…

I gave up trying to edit this blog post. All errors or poorly worded areas are my fault. Thanks.

First, I was a victim of child abuse and alcoholism. And all that accompanies this type of story.

Second, most people would probably agree that my point is obvious; yet it’s not.

Breaking news: adults who abuse their children tend to also sometimes suffer from substance abuse. Their tendency to abuse is not due to their substance abuse but rather exacerbated by it. Drinking does not cause normal people to commence abusing their children anymore than drinking suddenly makes a person want to publicly rant about Jewish people or burn white flags on their neighbor’s lawns. The root of it was already present, seeking release.

Take away all the alcohol, drugs or substances and the abuse remains. I don’t doubt that drinking removes inhibitions for many adults and allows them to abuse; but alcohol in itself is not the culprit.

Anyone who is on the verge of committing child abuse cannot honestly say that the lack of alcohol is the only catalyst missing from their intention of a crime. If they were to say this, they already need treatment for psychological issues.

(Removal of all alcohol would not eliminate child abuse, if the argument is stretched to its longest possible scenario.)

In a world of my choosing, everyone would have access to free mental health care, regardless of income.

In a world of my choosing, anyone having committed documented child abuse would be required to undergo rigorous evaluation as to when and if they would ever be permitted to have their children again. Anyone already convicted has already demonstrated their lack of normalcy in this regard and the presumption would be against them. In a world of my choosing, if you abused your spouse, one of the many requirements would be lengthy and difficult counseling (among other things).

As a victim of abuse, I can rant expertly on the stupidity and cruelty of abuse. As a victim of a family of alcoholics, I can rant expertly on that, too.

The difference for me is that most people who drink do so responsibly, in my worldview. It would be very easy to exaggerate and shout for prohibition of alcohol. But it would be irresponsible on my part. Each of us is responsible for how and when we imbibe, and whether we do it too much.

In a world of my choosing, anyone could ask for and get free substance abuse treatment. Anyone.

It is a crime against personal liberty to abolish the availability of alcohol simply because those pitiful creatures who abuse other people suffer from its use.

This sort of thinking leads down many dark roads wherein adult citizens are treated as inferior creatures who would otherwise run amok absent a parental government watching them.

 

No Will? Cremation

I would like to establish a centralized system where people could indicate their preferences regarding death – and they chose not to do so, society would determine the course of action for everyone not making the choices. 

As for burial versus cremation, if you die without having expressed your wishes, everything would default to cremation.

If you don’t take the time to register your wishes, as well as setting aside the finances to pay for your specific choices, you should be cremated. Lack of doing so would constitute an agreement to be cremated. Dragging your feet about it or superstitious about planning your death? Sorry, we decide for you: cremation.

Unlike everyone else, I would figure out a way to let people smarter than me establish a database for everyone. Each person would be able to document their wishes regarding “do not resuscitate,” and living will-related decisions, whether they wish to be cremated, buried, and the general circumstances and details for either choice. Each person would indicate how their choices are to be paid for upon their death. Everyone would also be able to streamline much of the will process by making choices or delineating their choices on the database. This might anger lawyers and others whose livelihood is affected by simplification, but these are changes that should happen regardless of economic impact.

Any lack of clear indication about your wishes after death defaults to cremation. Lack of the ability to pay would allow for our tax dollars to put you to rest without financial debt or family stress. I think that it would be beneficial to our society if everyone could be guaranteed a decent cremation in the absence of an expensive and elaborate burial. I think that over time a lot of people would opt for cremation once they noticed that it didn’t cause the earth to spin off its axis or the universe to implode. The financial appeal would be obvious for anyone who has ever suffered when someone they loved died and had to face they economic difficulty of it.

We are all going to die. I think we should have systems in place to encourage and require people to at least express their general inclinations so as to avoid the confusion and stress of it all when we die.

Hypocrisy of Abolishing Legal Activities or Substances Due to Someone, Somewhere Misbehaving….

If you advocate the restriction or abolition of anything legal because its misuse might result in harm to people, your logic opens up a can of worms in regards to your attitude about other, yet similar subjects.

Your stance indicates that adults can’t be trusted to behave and reason. Since some can’t behave reasonably, everyone’s access to the otherwise legal thing or activity must be abolished.

Laws justified by the POSSIBILITY of improper action are stupid. Anyone can behave idiotically if they choose. Their idiocy stays confined to them.

If you advocate that alcohol be abolished because it’s being abused during some other distinctly illegal activity, you must also agree that your logic be used toward other activities that are potentially important to you. For example, alcohol is a “factor” in some domestic abuse cases, whether toward spouses or children. Therefore, all alcohol is bad. Because some misbehave people when imbibing, even when most adults never engage in such illegal activity, we must abolish alcohol. Also, alcohol is assumed to have a causative effect on an otherwise normal person to engage in domestic abuse. Eliminate the alcohol and thus some of the abuse. Not all. Just some. (Because even by your own weak argument most people who abuse others aren’t using alcohol and will still abuse their family.)

Another example: guns are used in daily acts of violence. Therefore, we must abolish private ownership of guns. People will sometimes misbehave and commit illegal acts if they have guns. When both anger and guns are present, otherwise law-abiding citizens will be enticed to inflict harm that would have been otherwise impossible. Eliminating the guns therefore eliminates some criminal acts. Not all. Just some. (So goes the argument.)

Yes, that means that you can’t have a beer at the baseball game, nor a dark draft with your steak. Not even one.And forget about trying to have a beer at a gun show.

You don’t take away law-abiding normal citizens access to anything on the basis of the legal substance or activity being misused by idiots.

If you want to abolish or limit alcohol because of what OTHER PEOPLE MIGHT DO, yet you drink, it’s time to examine your logic.

I would never abuse anyone – no matter how much I drank.

I would never drink and drive – no matter how much I drank.

I would never commit murder, rape or armed robbery – no matter how much I drank.

And I would also never take time out of my life to limit what other people can drink, smoke or use if they are doing so responsibly.

The abolitionists need to stop misunderstanding causation at the expense of my rights to live my life devoid of unreasonable interference.

 

08092012 Women As Clergy

Ricky Gervais:

“Suggesting I hate people with religion because I hate religion, is like suggesting I hate people with cancer because I hate cancer.”

“On my Twitter feed, I express MY feelings. If that hurts YOUR feelings you should immediately unfollow or block. Hope that helps 🙂 ”

Whether it is my place to judge, I have the ability to share my thoughts here, just as if you and I were having a conversation. Under that light, it is is harder to be so demanding about the requirements of justifications, explanations, or accountability. I’m not singling out a specific religion and I’m the first to admit that each of us has our own opinion about the matter at hand. Where religion lives, opinion is the rule, although most of us wish to paint our beliefs as if they were infinitely perfect.

“Assuming they ever had one,  a person will lose his or her mind when religion walks into the room.” -x

I’ve written before in this blog about my lack of enthusiasm for religions or denominations which do not allow women to be clergy. In my opinion, all of them are critically wounded and flawed. Having visited many, many types of churches, I can still say that some of my disfavor with modern churches and dogma is the lack of objection toward religions which prohibit women from being clergy.

The religions which do so have a long and complex rationalization for it and their ongoing campaigns have surprisingly not been stripped entirely of their ability to convince women to willingly submit to its ongoing existence.  I know many women who are members of such denominations; many are fiercely loyal to their churches, despite being relegated to a “lesser” status. Apparently, many women don’t feel “lesser” as members of these churches.They each have found a way to accept it and persist in their application of loyalty toward their churches. I’m fascinated by this. I know that many churches are wrestling heavily with this issue and that many women are beginning to agree with me.

I’ve no doubt that in the future, churches which unilaterally prohibit women from being clergy will change their dogma or wither away – and rightly so. The historical arc of this development is undeniable, in my opinion and after years of watching.

But even if churches willingly or unwillingly have women clergy, there will still be those who would want to continue the old traditions, even if no longer accepted.

I personally can’t attend any church which prohibits me from being clergy based on physical characteristics. It’s hard for me to understand anyone who would knowingly allow it in their own case, either.

 

Registration Day Voting or Election Day Registration (EDR)

It is an odd thing that people in many states can register to vote on election day itself. It blows people’s minds. In some other states, you can register to vote and then vote at the same time ahead of the election.Imagine being able to get your friends to go with you to both sign up and vote at the same time. It would eliminate much of the procrastination people tend to exercise about registering to vote.

Studies have shown that states that allow election day voter registration have a much higher voter turnout than states that don’t. There are several states which allow election day registration.

North Dakota has no voter registration laws at all. Think about that one, especially when so many of us live in states where the politicians still attempt to pass laws to affect how minorities or certain demographics have the ability to vote.

 

Disallowing Convicted Criminals The Right To Vote Is Wrong

“Just to be clear, I think that no one’s right to vote should be abridged – ever. The potential abuse and demand for exemptions is arbitrary.” -x

Felony Record Vs. Voting Rights Map

USA Today Article on Voting Rights Changes

“There is no rational reason to take away someone’s voting rights for life just because they’ve committed a crime, especially after they’ve completed their sentence and made amends.” Attorney General Eric Holder

“A study by a parole commission in Florida found that formerly incarcerated people banned from voting were three times as likely to re-offend compared to those who were allowed to vote…” This seems logical to me, as being denied the right to participate in the most basic function of democracy is a deplorable way to further convince someone of their worthlessness. (Not all felons are murderers, either, so avoid using the worst case scenario to justify denying someone the right to vote.)

Telling someone he or she can’t vote while in prison is one thing, but denying them the right to ever vote again after paying for their crimes is one of the most asinine things I can think of. The fact that in many states the whim of the governor determines who can vote or not is dumb politics. Since felonies are defined by lawmakers and are subject to the capricious whims of politicians, anything can be made to be felonious, under any pretext, to strip someone or a group of their right to vote.

For those of you who don’t know, much of the body of these laws are remnants of the aftermath of the Civil War and Voting Rights for Blacks in the South. Reassigning crimes as felonious allowed whites to disenfranchise blacks in large numbers. I know that many readers will not believe this until they go search for themselves. But it’s true.

PS: If I were in charge, even those currently in prison would get to vote. And they’d vote where they are incarcerated, giving them a local voice which would require some accountability from the places where prisons are located.

 

 

 

06082014 Minimum Wage (And Petitions)

“I used to work at McDonalds making minimum wage. You know what that means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boss was trying to say? It’s like “Hey if  I could pay you less, I would, but it’s against the law.” – Chris Rock

A signature collector rang the doorbell yesterday, on a nice quiet Sunday afternoon.

His task was to collect signatures for a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage in Arkansas. Of course I signed it. Not just because I agree with the particular initiative, but also because I get so weary of special interests bludgeoning the initiative process unfairly.

(To be clear, I very much endorse minimum wage increases, especially ones tied to ‘real’ economic indexes.)

As weird as it sounds, I always sign petitions, even if I disagree, believe it or not. I say let the democratic process have its chance. If I sign a petition with which I disagree, I had better make sure to get to the polls to vote against it, hadn’t I? Many people I know foam at the mouth when confronted with petitions they disagree with.

The minimum wage arguments are particularly odd to watch, as most people against such attempts are conservative.

 

Cell Phone Admonition

A cellphone is an incredible tool. Unlike most, I still can look at one and marvel a little at how much convenience and technology is packed into the device. While I am still insistent on using a text-and-call phone instead of the complex type, my simple phone still contains a massive amount of smart built into it.

Unfortunately for those of us using phones, we sometimes forget that we are missing the big picture. Granted, when everyone owned a landline home phone, it seems like even then that most people acted as if we were slaves to the devices. How could we hear it ring and not answer? How could we not have an answering machine, call waiting, call forwarding, etc? For whatever reason, I never felt the compulsion to answer the phone simply because it rang. I know that I was in the minority on that front. However, I also know that it made me more at peace than other people that I knew.

I couldn’t stand the thought of having a phone in the bedroom where I try to relax the most. If a phone had to be in the room where I slept, I always had the ringer turned off and any lights rendered invisible to me. Any true emergency would result in a loud banging on the front door, if necessary. All other calls would be better served by 911 responders. Having a cellphone hasn’t changed my outlook. In fact, I always make it a point to leave my phone in another room. Having it in the bedroom creates an artificial importance to my presence.

A few years ago, an actual emergency ensued and my wife and I didn’t know it. I can’t even remember if my wife’s phone was in the room or not, to be honest.  We didn’t even hear the loud bangs on the door due to the noise-suppression magic of a box fan to mask extraneous sounds in the night. When we got up the next morning, the emergency had been addressed and we had to respond accordingly – but we got a night’s rest, which turned out to be the biggest gift we could have received in order to survive the next few days.

Since then, all I have seen from having a phone present is an interruption to normal sleep, a continuation of the perceived necessity of being available, in “case we are needed.”

I correctly or incorrectly believe that having a cellphone in the bedroom creates a mental barrier to relaxation. The phone “could” ring at any moment, someone “might” need us, etc. As a minimalist and avoider of the “Just In Case” lifestyle, this really drives me crazy.

How did people manage to lead good, relaxing lives before telephones, before technology afforded an always-in-touch lifestyle? I am not idealizing the past, as there were a great many impediments that diminished a person’s quality of life compared to our modern time.

I am constantly catching myself disliking technology when in reality I am disliking the automatic response we seemed to have trained ourselves into. It will be a few more years until we have embedded cellphones that are always with us.

At some point, each of us has to ponder and decide if we are using technology and cellphones appropriately, or if we are misusing them at times to lend our lives that self-importance that being reachable by “someone” at all times brings with it.

Cell Phone Voicemail Etiquette

Although it’s just my opinion and I’m probably the last person who should be able to recommend normal behavior, especially with cellphones, I will nevertheless offer an obvious guideline. If you are going to take the time to call someone, especially in lieu of texting/email/messaging, please state the general nature of your call when you leave a voicemail. Please don’t say something inane such as “Call me back” and end the call. If we could call such a vote today, my vote is that we shall henceforth never returns calls to people who leave messages like that. Ever.

For example, if you are afraid that you might not have either enough time or energy to communicate your message, say ” 911 ” for an emergency and ” 411 ” for a request for an at-leisure call back. Either one is short, yet contains the essential 2 types of messages.

Better still, why not leave a message something like this: “I have very important or juicy news that I personally and desperately wish to tell you. Call me back.” By doing this, the person you are calling will immediately know without threat of stress that the call is not time-sensitive or urgent.

Under no circumstances is it fair or wise to sound desperate without leaving clues as to whether it’s a true emergency, something that it important to you but not necessarily to me, or any combination thereof.

While I’m moaning and complaining, if you are going to take the time to call, leave a message – any kind of message. Take a second and be creative. If you are going to make me go through the motions of checking voicemail, putting in my password and listening, please make it seem like there was some effort and genuine effort involved. Zombie calls should be made by legitimate zombies.

I think that we all need to focus when we call other people and be better communicators.

It’s unfair to leave the person getting your message without a clear understanding of WHY you called.

Again, just a few words from my frazzled brain for you to consider.

Minimum Wage, Labor Efficiency and The Idiocy of Not Preparing Ourselves

Start with the premise that every adult goes to college, gets a degree, stays healthy and fulfills the imagined expectations of the steps necessary to achieve the American dream. Every single adult. I know it is a far-fetched premise, but imagine it – or even a future where most adults enter the job market with great educations and equal footing to the job market. Our push toward more education, health and opportunities ultimately results in just such a scenario if we can ever come together and agree upon a common implementation for access to resources.

How do we decide who mops the floors, cooks and delivers the pizza, works at Subway, or digs the ditches? How do continue to pay them less than is needed to sustain themselves?

We could no longer justify a terrible minimum wage. No one would “deserve” it. If we are still able to choose our field of work, most people would choose to do the work that traditionally has been identified as more meaningful. (Some people tell themselves that others have earned or somehow deserve their lower economic place in life. I know you find that hard to believe – that someone could be so dumb, right? Maybe laziness is a factor for some people, but certainly not everyone?) Implicit in this context is the idea that we are demeaning those who do service jobs by assigning their functions to the column of “less important.”

Factor in that we have continued to automate manufacturing and other sectors to such a degree that labor is at a massive surplus. Throw in the idea that we will still have a large population, one which grows increasingly old as health care, diet and lifestyle make further significant inroads toward human longevity.

Since people live longer, they retire later, further minimizing the job pool for those earning their degrees and looking for a spot to work, regardless of pay. No one is to blame as younger adults have no method of earning a living in the way that our ancestors did.

How do we “pay” those who have no means of employment? If we don’t pay them and no jobs are available, how do we fund a system to sustain them?

For those who do work, why would we allow a system of pay that cannot sustain them in the economy? Again, someone has to perform the service jobs and other functions that can’t be done by machines. If people are allowed to choose careers, then we will undoubtedly have a role reversal toward those who are willing to do the service economy jobs that are currently looked down upon by many people. It is indeed a strange possibility to imagine that well-educated people could and would choose occupations that are otherwise considered lower class in our current system.