Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Socialism: addendum

What is true in your world about the way resources are distributed? Previously, I talked about limiting beliefs. So, there is enough to go around, and people will still work even if their basic needs are always met. Why are those statements so hard to believe?

There is also a prevailing belief that nothing is free, therefore "hard work" is the inheritance of every human being. What if we change that to: Everyone has something to give therefore abundance is the inheritance of every human being. Why wouldn't you believe this?

I don't say that you need to take from the rich and give to the poor, but should a very small portion of the population control an overwhelming majority of the resources? Has any one family truly earned that much over another based on "hard work?" How about CEOs who make lots and lots of money when their company is failing? Upper level managers who get bonuses just because it's in their contract? Why would a society keep giving fortunes to such people?

Advancement of knowledge (technological, artistic, ecological...) is sustainable. Economic growth is not. If you measure progress by money, you leave out what you really want. Take health for example: When you're spending lots of money on doctor visits and medication, that's great for the economy. You're demanding goods and services and many hard working people are supplying them. Hey, wait a minute, you're sick!

What do you really want? A higher paid job where you work more hours or time with family and friends? The highest sales record in your company or the opportunity to explore creative pursuits?

Which do you think is a happier occasion? A company dinner at a fancy restaurant or a recently homeless family cooking a meal together in their new home.

Money is not bad. Earning large amounts of money doesn't make a person evil. Feeling stuck in a job you hate is bad. Killing an innocent cashier over a few dollars in a cash drawer is evil.

Decide what you really want and create it. Everything was once just an idea in someone's mind.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Abortion debate: All the wrong questions

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 23: Pro-life activists us...
WASHINGTON - JANUARY 23: Pro-life activists use a bullhorn to interupt a vigil held by the National Organization For Women outside the U.S. Supreme Court on January 23, 2012 in Washington, DC. The vigil was held to mark the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Now that we've hopefully calmed down a bit over the recent incident where an abortion debate led to a legislator being silenced for using the word "vagina." I'd like to offer some prospective on the topic.

When you make laws regarding abortion, you're coming up with all the wrong answers because you're asking all the wrong questions. The real question and the real answers start to come when you take a compassionate look at the desperation and pain leading to abortions.

Ensure that those who can't afford birth control can get it. Compared to previous times, birth control access in the most developed nations on Earth is pretty good, but it could be much better. 

Keep working on your nonprescription birth control options rather than just putting the same synthetic hormones in different forms.

Protect women and children from domestic violence. No woman should fear for herself or potential children. 

Empower women during pregnancy and childbirth. Doctor and hospital protocol mean nothing when compared with a woman's instincts. There is so much fear surrounding one of life's greatest miracles, and there shouldn't be.

Make motherhood sacred. All mothers, birth mothers and adoptive mothers, are special, just as every child is special. Whatever circumstances brought a woman to motherhood, there is no shame, only love. If you want to make laws, then make open adoption legally enforceable so that agreements to share a child's life are honored.

Create socioeconomic opportunity for every potential mother. Give every woman the education and career resources to meet her full potential. Make sure child care and emotional support are available to all mothers. Don't ever leave a woman to consider the terrifying prospect of raising a child alone. No one should ever feel they have nowhere to turn. 

Compassion doesn't make moral judgements or claim its rights above anybody else's. The point is to create better options instead of trying to limit them.
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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day to those without fathers

Like many of you, I've lost father figures in my life. If you have lost a father due to death or other circumstances, I want you to know you are not alone. Regardless of your age or family situation, you have been someone's child. Someone loved you, and you loved them (maybe a mother, grandmother, or other person stood strong and supported your dreams and that's just as valid). I know that those we love are never really gone, but it's still normal to feel a little emotional and want them to still be physically around you. It's okay to have mixed emotions (You are a complex life form, after all.) Allow yourself to feel the joy of those in your life who are celebrating (friends, partners, children...)

To those who are standing strong and supporting a child's dream, I celebrate you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How do you treat transgender people?

English: From the female and male symbols. Int...
English: From the female and male symbols. Intersexual or transgender. ⚥ Unicode U+26A5 Male and female sign; hermaphrodite Русский: Композиция из женского и мужского символов. Символ транссекусализма. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being female has always felt right to me. I am comfortable with the gender I was born into. Not everyone can say that. How are you supposed to act around people who don't feel right living the gender they were born into?

I heard about the recent incident on Cake Boss where Carmen Carrera, a former contestant on RuPaul's Drag Race, was promised to be called "she" out of respect for her transition into female life. That's not what happened, and she came away from the show feeling disrespected. This is very important to her because she wishes to be a role model for those like her.  There has been an apology, but not before a tweet referring to Carmen as "it." (Cake Boss’ Star Apologizes To Carmen Carrera) I say "her" and "she" when referring to guinea pigs as does my friend when referring to her hens. A human being deserves at least that much respect. (To clarify, whatever a person's biological gender, it is most appropriate to refer to the gender the person is expressing.)

On Earth, I see so much disrespect for people who don't conform to gender norms. I'm really at a loss to understand the obsession with maintaining such rigid gender norms. Gender is not a black and white concept (if anything really is.) If you truly believe that humans were created that way, consider that a small, but significant, number of babies are born with the physical characteristics of both genders. (Most doctors believe in immediate surgical alteration in such cases, but such decisions should probably be left with the person who will ultimately be living a lifetime with the consequences.)

People here on Earth tend to feel very uncomfortable with the idea of a transgender person flirting with them. Men in particular don't like the idea of being "tricked." First, it's always a bad idea to worry about what's in the pants (or under the skirt) when you first meet someone. Second, everyone (regardless of gender or sexual orientation) has had someone they are totally incompatible with or just not interested in flirt with them. There's no reason to take anything like that so seriously.

On my home world, people almost never feel the need to surgically alter themselves or take high doses of synthetic hormones in order to be the gender where they feel they belong. Gender identity is not entirely based on physical characteristics so it is very possible to be a gender other than the one you were born into without permanently changing your body. Everyone simply accepts people being who they are. Not every world makes it so easy on people who don't physically "pass" as the gender they are living.

On other worlds, people go through very dramatic alterations to change genders, sometimes more than once in a lifetime. (But most people do ultimately feel drawn to one gender.) I do feel strongly that everyone should be able to look into a mirror and love what they see, but it always has to start within.

Anyway, diversity is beautiful and nobody deserves disrespect. You have a saying that goes "Don't judge a book by its cover." It's way past time to live it.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Is anybody out there? Maybe God?

Universe (Photo credit: Loulair Harton)

There's a time on every planet where people think that they're alone in the world, and people on Earth are moving beyond that time. Space is so vast it's hard to believe there's nobody out there.
However, you're probably more inclined to believe that I'm a whack job giving bad advice than to actually believe that I'm an alien from another planet. Why is that?

A vocal bunch of people believe humanity is being or will be punished by God. Others believe there is no God. Most people fall somewhere in between. Most people wonder about God. Some people are even wondering if humanity invented God.

How do I know you wonder? Yeah, I watch Morgan FreemanThrough the Wormhole” too. I think people misunderstand what he meant.

So what you all really want is if there's something “out there” beyond yourselves. I've already given you some of that answer, not expecting you to believe someone could come to your planet from somewhere else and walk among you unnoticed. I'll give you a little more of the answer.

If you're looking for a God to punish all perceived wrongdoing, I think you already know it isn't there. What if all those things you want God to punish people for are just aspects of God? Consider that everything might be an expression of God. I like to say it's all part of the landscape, whether I want to see it or not. 
I wish I could answer all your questions and definitively prove the answers, but I can't. Even if I've experienced other planets and other sentient beings I can't know it all. The universe is so vast that there must be more (maybe even other universes). All I can tell you for sure is that anything ever created is a reflection of its creator. So in all of creation, there must be something of our Creator.

You are the total antithesis of alone in the universe because you are a part of absolutely everything. You were once stardust. You were once living elsewhere as something else in the ever changing universe. Now, you have the incredible ability to look at the rest of the universe and reflect on it. You are capable of deciding what plants will grow in your garden (or indoor pot or multi-acre field ...) You can create earthquakes or blast off mountaintops (or build wind turbines and solar panels.) In that sense, you are god. What else could you create? Who do you want God to be?

All the answers are within you.
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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What's the fracking big deal about earthquakes?

See Gasland: The Movie for more information
See Gasland: The Movie for more information (Photo credit: ltmayers)
Hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") is a process used to tap into natural gas or oil deposits. The process involves injecting so much water and chemicals (acids, propellants....) deep underground that it causes fractures in the rock. Then, some of the fluid flows back towards the surface and is disposed of (frequently in open pits), and the rest remains underground to hold the fractures open.

Obviously, the water use for this type of operation is unthinkable, and the chemical contamination is horrendous Much progress has been made in disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking. See EARTHWORKS | Hydraulic Fracturing 101. Far less is known about the geologic stress fracking causes. Ohio and Oklahoma have both seen unexpected seismic activity that some scientists believe is related to fracking. That's right. Man-made earthquakes. For more details, see Quakes in the New York Times. Thus far, earthquakes have been 4.0 on the Richter scale or lower, but what happens if you continue on this technological path? Think about it. Just seriously think about it.

I know it seems necessary right now to do whatever it takes to get cheap energy into the economy. It isn't. Put your energy elsewhere. On my planet, there never was so much fossil fuel to dig for in the first place. We relied on biofuels, solar, wind, and tidal energy to fuel our industrial and technological growth. (Yes, even space travel is possible on biofuel.) I know a planet that mastered nuclear fusion centuries ago, and they have no roads or parking lots. It sounds far fetched, but it's not. It's all about what you put your energy into.
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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Animal Friends: Squeakers

Squeakers is the hoppiest little guinea pig I know. She was found at a shelter hiding under the newspaper in the cage. Most shelters don't adopt out small friends, but you can go to Petfinder small and furry to find a new friend.

 See the hair standing all over the place? That's the mark of the Abyssinian breed guinea pig. (I had to look that up when I met her) They're show quality if they have a particular number of whirls in their fur. Squeakers has a mohawk on her tail end too.

According to the paper from the shelter (filled out by her first family who had too many little guinea pigs), she has always hopped like a little bunny when excited. In the cavy (the proper term for a not pig and not guinea) communities it's called "popcorning." It's not a very high hop, but it is cute. Any guinea pig given sufficient space and fruit, hay, or something really exciting like wheatgrass will hop. (Squiggles does hop occasionally, but she's a little chubby and doesn't go real high.)

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Animal Friends: Squiggles

This chubby little guinea pig was found on Craigslist. She and her cage mate were stuffed into a tiny cracked aquarium, and her name wasn't given when she was picked up. She was scared and not very socialized. Very sadly, her cage mate died two days after being rescued, most likely due to vitamin C deficiency. Fresh vegetables and fruit are essential for guinea pigs because unlike other animals they are incapable of producing their own vitamin C (same as human beings). Pellets are only a supplement and lose vitamin C content very quickly so they can't be relied on exclusively. Grass hay is also essential for health.

The night after her loss, Squiggles let out an almost human scream. Guinea pigs are very social animals. The following day, the people who love her called the nearest shelter that had guinea pigs and found her a new friend. She immediately started snuggling and mothering her new little friend. After a while, she started snuggling with people too. She has a new cage, and wow can she run. Once, somebody left a granola bar still in its wrapper within reach when Squiggles was out for supervised floor time. Squiggles ran like a furry streak of lightning, ripped the wrapper open, and started chewing before anybody could take it away. (She got in a couple nibbles, but guinea pigs shouldn't eat grain.)

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