Friday, November 15, 2013

Illegal Adulter-ito

In this great “modern” world that we live in, some of our practices and laws are downright archaic. Take something as simple as adultery, the act of engaging in intercourse with a person that is not your legal spouse. Sounds bad, right? It’s nothing now. Adultery has surely been happening since before the concept of marriage. But try it in a marriage and shit hits the courtroom.

Outside of marriage, changing partners when you’re in a committed relationship is still considered cheating. But within marriage, a legally binding contract between two persons, cheating can be punishable in court. A slight majority of states consider adultery to be a civil matter, meaning it’s a problem between the adulterer and the injured spouse. The injured spouse can sue for damages such as emotional and financial distress, and loss of companionship. Adultery is an offense that is grounds for divorce and can affect divorce and child-custody proceedings.

However, in the slight minority of states where adultery is a criminal offense, things can get ugly. Making adultery into a criminal matter takes it from a solvable conflict between two parties to a punishable offense against humanity. Each state’s laws treat the offense differently. The punishment can range from a slight fine to life imprisonment, as a Michigan appellate court interpreted from that state’s adultery laws in 2007.

Yes, that’s right, a life sentence for cheating. I can understand suing, fines, and community service. But life imprisonment?! This simply goes too far. Too many of our laws date back to the founding of this country and the early settlers when things were seemingly different. In this case, I’ll name the Puritans as the scapegoat. The Puritans left England because they disagreed with how the religious state was run. Upon reaching America, the Puritans founded their communities by their religion and beliefs in living a simple life devoted to the “one true God.” This inclusion of church and state’s structure and rigidity in community and faith have influenced many of the morality laws and faith bases of this country today.

While the influences of the Puritans helped to build a fledgling nation into the power it is now, there comes a time when we as a country realize that we aren't Puritans anymore. We are no longer fleeing an oppressive rule. Instead, we are a nation of many: many people, many beliefs. It’s time that we accept that morality laws are not one-size-fits-all. It’s about time “when our nation can finally move beyond laws that require citizens to comply with the moral dictates of their neighbors.”

As always, there are people who want to make the laws stronger in respect to adultery and other issues related to marriage and sex, like the Minnesota Family Council who want to strengthen the state’s laws criminalizing a married woman’s adultery and a single woman’s consensual sex. We must not allow this religious persecution through the legal system. We can no longer flee that with which we disagree. We must stand up and fight against oppression. Marriage is at base a civil matter and therefore any issues between the two persons should be handled in a civil court. By criminalizing marital issues under morality codes, we are allowing the government to favor religious beliefs over secular justice, a clear violation of the First Amendment. Therefore, and laws making adultery, and non-marital sex, a criminal offense are unconstitutional and should be abolished.


Sources/Further Reading:


Monday, November 4, 2013

Sabbatical

Hello readers,

As you've noticed, I haven't posted on here lately. I am going through some personal matters and I've lost my motivation to write for this blog. I'm thankful to have had so much inspiration over this past year. I feel this has been some of my best writing. But times change and I may need a longer break from writing than I've already taken.

So be good my friends. Keep reading and pondering of random things!

Megan

Monday, September 16, 2013

Changes


No matter where you go, you are what you are player
And you can try to change but that's just the top layer
Man, you was who you was 'fore you got here
Only God can judge me, so I'm gone
Either love me, or leave me alone
~Jay-Z, Public Service Announcement

Change is quite possibly the most difficult and scariest thing a person can do. It is also the easiest thing, especially when done subconsciously. People change everyday and throughout their lifetimes. Some set out deliberately to change, others look back after the years have gone by to see the small changes they have made. Change needs a catalyst, a trigger. That trigger could be anywhere from a death to a break up to a failed class to a move across country or even just across town. What holds us back from change? What makes us more open to change?

I personally have changed so much over the course of my 28 years. As I child, I was messy, needy, and prone to temper-tantrums when I didn't get my way. Okay, so I haven't changed that much...! I was always quiet, but I really blossomed in high school when I found fellow crazy-odd people who understood what it meant to be crazy-odd. I changed myself from the painfully shy tween to an all out social butterfly, flitting from group to group. I still didn't clean my room and I'd get amazingly upset if I broke something, like a dish or a drinking glass. In college, I started as that painfully shy kid but again quickly blossomed as I met others who were as crazy as I am. In my early years, I was still that messy kid who had stuff all over the place even though the roommate said nothing and I wore my jeans for a month without washing them but would sit on my unmade bed.

I'd say my first major transformation started in my third year at college. My catalyst: Hurricane Katrina and a slob of a boyfriend. Katrina struck at the beginning of the school year and suddenly I was inundated with family and belongings from home that were salvaged. I had to put the belongings somewhere in my apartment, which required it to stay clean. My boyfriend came from a messy family. I'd never seen so much backed up laundry in my life. Unfortunately, he came from a situation where his mother did all the housework like cooking and cleaning while catering to her idle husband and children, all after working a 12 hour day. So when Stephen got his own apartment, he no longer had his mom to clean up after him, so he didn't clean up after himself. The smell of week old sweaty laundry is disgusting. The smell of week old sweaty male is also disgusting. If I wanted to spend time in that apartment, I had to clean up or else I would puke. This led me to keeping my own apartment and person clean so that I would never be like that.

My second major transformation was more of a snowball effect with several catalysts: living with my Granny, moving out and living with my boyfriend and his son, then moving in with my parents not long before my Granny died. Living with my Granny was great, in retrospect. She was a bit pushy and always had some tidbit of advice about cleaning or life or whatever. I filed them away, ignored, like any grand kid would do. It broke her heart when I moved out against her advice. In fact, it still hurts knowing how I did that to her. But I did it anyways and moved into a household where suddenly if I wanted it done, I had to do it myself. I started using all of the tips that Granny shared with me. I began to understand that while cleanliness may not be godliness, it certainly is much healthier for you. By the time I moved out of that house, I was a full-blown neat-freak. At my parents' house, especially after Granny passed two months later, I was obsessed with cleaning my "suite." At work, I became known for my precision in completing tasks. Let me tell ya, a gift wrap clerk is the best job for a neat-freak.

Unfortunately, it was around this time that my changes began to get in the way of my life. I pushed away people that I cared about because I was so much more concerned about being clean and in control of my surroundings. But at the same time, I've been consistently told not to change who I am. That's rather contradictory, no yes? How can I stay the same when the person I am is not sustainable in a meaningful relationship? I was told very bluntly that if I don't change, I should expect to spend the rest of my life alone. I can't even tell you how much that hurt then and still hurts now. But he's right. And so I've found the catalyst for my latest transformation. Changing deliberately is amazingly hard! I'm having to go against everything my brain has been wired to do for the past however many years. My changes run the gamut from not freaking out over my mother putting seasonings between the pizza and the pan to driving more aggressively (which is actually super fun). I've even started a blog to follow my journey. But all of my changes are really minor and only on the surface, see the Jay-Z quote above. The real meat of the matter is how I interact and react to other people. Which is really hard to do when I don't have an other person to practice with! I have to learn that what I think is best for someone is not necessarily what they would consider best for themselves and that it's not the end of the world. I've been trying to work on this for quite some time now. Obviously I haven't succeeded, but I've had some success. As Macklemore says: "We press play, don't press pause/Progress, march on."

Some people say you can't change who you are. I saw we are changing who we are all the time, slowly or quickly, consciously or subconsciously. At some level you have to accept whatever changes you make; they are not forced on you. It's up to you to decide if, how, why, for whom, you should and want to change. Me, I'm changing for love.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Dating’s Prime Directive

Lately I find myself delving into new worlds, going boldly where I have never gone before. I’ve found my final frontier, and it isn’t space. No, I’ve found it in a younger man. Who woulda thunk it? After a decade of dating, from the slightly younger to the significantly older, I think I may have my match in a relatively young guy. Relatively being six years my junior, still in college and having the attitude to match.

With so many differences between us (age, life experience, education) it can be very difficult to hold back advice. I’ve come to realize that our relationship requires a Prime Directive. Starfleet’s Prime Directive states that there can be no interference with the development of an alien civilization. Okay, so calling a guy an alien is a bit of a stretch (just a bit), but the same principle applies in the younger guy situation. He is still working through his formative years, learning professionalism, self-sufficiency, adult-like manners, and personal, professional and educational responsibility. As much as I would love like to take over and show him how to do things, I can’t. Simple as that. I went through those same years without someone dictating my every move and I owe the same to him.

That all said, there are (several) times when it’s okay to breach the Prime Directive, such as a hint here or edited essay there. There is actually a difference between dictating and advising, though as a control freak that line is blurred. While I can’t tell him what to do, which ensures a rebellious response, I can offer advice that he is free to take or not. The trick for me is to not be upset if he refuses the advice even though I know it will improve his circumstances… But he has to learn from his own mistakes! However, if I am asked for advice or help, then the Prime Directive is less restrictive. I’ve been asked to proofread an essay and his resume. I did these things gladly but I also made sure to involve him in the process, that way I wasn’t taking over completely and could show him why I made the changes.

This brings up an especially important note for dealing with other people, especially younger males. No one likes to lose control. Even further, no one likes being told what to do without having solid reasons to back up this action. If you want a person to change himself or his product, then you should tell that person why you would like to see that change happen, what it would mean to change, and how it can improve their life. Then wait for them to process and adopt this change if they want to. Trust me, you’re more likely to succeed this way!

All in all, dating a younger man has its pros and cons. That’s enough for a whole ‘nother post! But, above all else, follow the Prime Directive. Be there to support your man when he needs but stay out of his hair otherwise! Just be sure to communicate clearly and accept who he is. Do this and you both will be happy.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Right to Protect

Recently, an armed homeowner shot and seriously wounded a person who illegally trespassed on his gated property around two in the morning. Sounds like a clear case of self-defense to me. But when I heard that the homeowner is being accused of attempted second degree murder for shooting an intended burglar, I got upset. Since when can we not protect our family and home?

Louisiana has very strong and clear self defense laws to protect people trying to protect themselves. These laws are considered the Louisiana Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground Laws. (RA 14:19-20, RS 9:2800.19) In a nutshell, these laws grant a Louisiana citizen under attack the right to protect their person and property using any force necessary without having to retreat. Given this and the facts that I am aware of, the homeowner was well within his right to use force, the gun, to prevent the impending attempted robbery, a felony offense. The robber jumped a fence at two a.m., rousing the family dog that started barking which alerted the homeowner that someone was outside in his private yard. Given the circumstances that night and recent instances of property theft, the homeowner had a reasonable fear for the safety of his self and his family. Therefore, when the intruder continued onto the private property after being forewarned by the barking dog, the homeowner fired one round at a distance of 30 feet to stop the intruder. By my interpretation of the statues, the homeowner was within his rights to shoot at the intruder. One might argue that the force used was not “reasonable” against an unarmed suspect. However, to counter, one might argue that the force was indeed “apparently necessary” given the unknown fact of if the burglar had a weapon or not while he posed a threat to the family.

One of the many questions that have arisen from this incident is: where were the teen’s parents? Yes, that's right. A fourteen year old was the burglar in this situation. Surprised? As seems to be the case in much of the crime committed by inner-city youth, the teen intruder came from a broken family of eight children raised by the mother and the eldest son, 23, in a low socio-economic setting. As many would agree, this does not sound like a recipe for a happy and healthy upbringing. There are many factors that, if changed, could have affected this teen. What if his father was still at home? What if he didn’t have so many siblings? What if he had a part-time job or a youth group to keep him positively occupied? Pastor Christiana Ford seems to thing this is the solution: to put the blame into someone else’s hands for the problems of the youth. While I agree that having jobs and church programs could certainly help, I disagree that this lack is where the problem lies. All problems that people exhibit can be traced back to the parents and parenting style, or lack thereof. Studies have proven time and again that a majority of low income children have very little future respectable prospects in life and get caught in the norm of violence around them. Occasionally, one kid will shine through, one kid whose parent(s) made an effort to truly be a part of their child’s life and encourage them to be more. I believe that if more parents could take that extra step, no matter how small, we would see less juvenile, and therefore adult, crime.

This entire situation is tragic. A good man protecting his family is accused of attempted murder. A teen with a troubled past is in critical condition because no one taught him now to be good. Both these persons and their families’ lives have been changed because of this incident which should never have come to happen. We as a community need to do more. We need to educate ourselves about the self-defense laws. And we need to hug our children while telling them how much they are loved. Change starts with you. Only until after you change yourself can you change another.


I support Merritt Landry.


Links and Further Reading:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Commentary on Comments Against Humanism

I saw a post on Facebook and some of the comments really upset me. The post itself bashed humanism, going so far as to label Hitler and Stalin as humanists, which is rather insulting, but interesting and not so far fetched if you read about the tenants of humanism.

So this Matt guy. While I love that he actually uses ‘balderdash,’ I’m baffled by his ‘unbearable arrogance’ comment. I’m assuming he’s talking about non-believers mostly, ‘cause obviously a good Christian girl isn’t going to have an abortion, or even put herself into a situation that would tempt her to have an abortion. So, given this, I find him “unbearably arrogant” to assume that a non-believer will care about playing God when they don’t believe in said God. Therefore his logic does not apply, negating the whole argument. Right? A believer should never presume that their beliefs apply to all people. That’s what gets us into trouble and leads to people hating people. Which is against the most basic tenants of your faith. Circular logic there. Yes, as a Christian you are called to share the Good Word, not kill over it, and love thy neighbor as thyself, even if you can’t convert them. And don’t even get me started on the first portion of Matt’s statement! Seriously, it’s the 21st Century and you have to question what RIGHT a woman has to her own body?! A woman has as much of a RIGHT to her own reproductive organs as a man has to his. What RIGHT does a man have to give or withhold his fruit of his loin? What ever happened to a culture were women were respected and appreciated for more than their subservience to man? Oh right, that was before your Christianity came along.

And the Frank guy obviously doesn’t know history. Yes, Hitler and Stalin were in the 20th Century and killed millions not in the name of God. Funny how he completely ignores the other 1900 years of persecution, war, crusades, inquisitions, etc. killing millions or even billions in the name of God. Well, the Christian God at least. Should probably count the Hebrew God “Before Christ” too since it’s the same God and all. Even though he insists that before the 20th Century God and his ways were thought of. Contrary to popular belief, people like Hitler and Stalin were brilliant. They may not have used this brilliance for the acceptable common good; however, there is no way a mentally deficient person can take over a whole country with a set of ideals that are contrary to the modern norm. Their people wanted change, something to believe in, and went along with it until finally the people realized that this was not the change they wanted. But now they were stuck, entrenched in the new regime, and called out for help! Which came in the form of their neighbor who may not have shared in their religion beliefs, but shared in their faith in each other. Maybe Frank’s “God and his ways” refers to the prevalence of Christian wars of the past. Because it’s okay to attack and kill others when it’s done for the good of the Christian God. But when you attack others under the name of another God or sans God altogether, that’s not cool and means you’re a bigot and racist.

I’m not crazy, right? I can respect another person and their beliefs even when they don’t respect me and mine. But when that other person attacks me and completely ignores the history of his own religion, I don’t appreciate it. I believe we have a right to believe. But I do not believe we have a right to force that belief upon another person through words or actions. I believe we have the right to agree to disagree. And then get on with living and being who you are and what you want to be, with God’s help or without. It doesn’t matter as long as you are happy with yourself.

Links:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Movie Review : White House Down

Spoiler Alert!


It’s been a while since I've reviewed a movie, but this one deserves it. I mean, anytime you put Channing Tatum in a movie it needs to be talked about. Because he’s sexy and I want to have his babies. But I digress.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Amateur vs. The Professional Photographer

We in the photography world have heard the argument time and again. Professionals claim that amateurs are ruining and undermining their business. Amateurs disagree defensively. In this new age of ever expanding availability of technology, the not-so-age-old profession of photography has taken a hit as more people peer out from behind a lens. Is this really such a bad thing? Is there a way to avoid this seemingly inevitable conflict? What can we do?!

First, we can recognize and accept that professional photographers are considered pros for a reason. They generally have years of experience and have trained their brain to see the nuances in the scene before them. And they have a stunning portfolio to show for it. These people eat, drink and breathe photography. Sure, your picture may be well positioned and properly focused. A professional photographer in the sane image will read the light to know the correct exposure, will study the surroundings for the best background and lighting, will know to wait one…more…second for the right amount of twinkle in the person’s eye. In other words, a professional photographer knows what to do to make a photo instead of just snapping a pic. This is why they are able to charge considerably for their time and effort, because they know how to get the perfect picture that you have paid them for.

Second, we can recognize and accept that amateur photographers are probably pretty good but just lack the final finesse and experience of a pro. Amateurs are always in the process of improving their skills and equipment to support the new skills. They may be quick to recognize the potential of a scene, but don’t know quite how to get the shot pictured in their head. Amateurs are often relatively recent into the world of photography, although there are some people who stay at the amateur level for years because they never feel the need to go pro. Amateurs fill that important place between taking a million pictures so one will come out good, and making one good picture. Instead an amateur can take nine photos and build up to making the tenth good.

This all sounds fine and dandy until the issue of charging for services comes up. As I said, there’s a reason why professional photographers charge as much as they do. The problem comes when an amateur doesn’t charge for their services. For example, a couple on a budget is more likely to hire an amateur photographer who only asks for dinner in return, versus the professional who will charge hundreds for a session. Sounds like a no-brainer to this budget conscious girl! But they charging food only for mediocre photos, the amateur is taking away a potential client of a professional who would have otherwise paid for a session of great photos. Obviously, not good for the professional. But what about the amateur? They have to gain experience through practice so they can qualify as a professional sometime down the road. I feel that by not charging (much) for a session and having a disclaimer about the quality of your photos, an amateur should be able to practice without offending a professional.

I am an amateur photographer. I accept this and highly doubt I will become a professional. I’m okay with this! I enjoy shooting for fun, for my portfolio, for the wall. But I also enjoy doing the occasional photo shoot for someone that I know. It gives me great practice and free dinner while giving them a budget break and decent photos. I’m sorry if this offends you as a pro, but tell me, how’d you get your experience if not by doing the same thing? So please, let me practice improving my skills while you go make some amazing photos.


Friday, May 31, 2013

Concerning Questions

Possibly to be addressed at a later time. I just needed to get these topics written down : )
  1. If pro-baby proponents are concerned about the placement of a Planned Parenthood center in a predominately black area affecting the abortion rates of minorities, shouldn't someone be concerned with the placement of a Popeye's restaurant in a predominately black area affecting the health of the minorities?
  2. This new LA law makes it illegal with or without a contract for a woman to surrogate a fetus for homosexual or single persons. since the state doesn't recognize homosexual unions, the couple would be considered as each being a homosexual single. thus the law makes it double illegal for anyone gay to have or hire a surrogate mother. But it also affects hetero-singles who want the baby they can't carry. How is this constitutional for either sexual orientation?
  3. With increasingly more young people heading to college for pricey educations in fields with limited hiring, will we begin to see lower enrollment in four-year colleges and instead see these young people go into technical colleges for trade-skills?
  4. As the country expands in size, more of our goods and services are being outsources to foreign locations. While global trade is essential for any modern economy, local trade is equally important. What will it take to realize that products "Made in the USA" are better for us as a people and country?
  5. If another country were to attack ours with nukes not jet planes, how would the country react? We are a fickle nation, prone to forget about events that don't affect us directly. If Los Angeles was obliterated, for how long would Atlanta care before resuming normal life? Would young men and women rush to enlist or just sit back and do nothing? The dynamic of our population has changed since the great wards and patriotism of the past.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Princess Problem

Throughout the ages of human civilization, little girls have wanted to be princesses. For them, it meant pretty dresses, tea parties, grand palls, and rides in a pumpkin carriage. The advent of Walt Disney’s classic princess movies drastically changed the way girls played princess. Gone were the historical figures in far away lands depicted in grand paintings. Suddenly, princesses were more accessible, beautiful, and perfect. The Disney Princesses became the new role models for generations of young girls the world over.

The Disney Princesses have a long history, with the first movie, Snow White, being released in 1937. With each subsequent movie, the Princesses changed slightly. They were each created to reflect the prevailing opinion towards women at that time. For instance, the original Princess movies, Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, were released in 1937, 1950, and 1959, respectively. During these times, women were expected to be caring for the home, completely dependent on the husband, and frowned upon for any aberration from this norm. Therefore it should be no surprise to see these princesses as homebound, waiting for their prince and falling into trouble when deviating from this path. As we meet Ariel, Jasmine and Belle (’89, ’91, ’92), we see three girls who, while homebound, choose to reject the first prince charming in favor of the unlikely second, although they still run amuck in the process. But now the tides have started turning. As we approach female equality in society, we meet Pocahontas (’95) and Mulan (’98), the first Disney Princesses to eschew the domestic life for the chance to defend her country and peoples. Tiana, Rapunzel and, lately, Merida (’09, ’10, ’12) have continued to further this trend to more independent princesses, much like women are in today’s society. Also important to note: the Princesses are young women in their stories! They weren’t created to cater to toddlers, but to maturing teens looking for any kind of guidance towards becoming a young woman.

The attitudes and appearances of the Princesses have influenced generation of growing girls. In the early years, the Princesses were an example of what a “desirable” woman was like to teach young girls that they should be obedient and accomplished at homemaking. They also taught fashion, through hair styles and clothing during the height of their princess-ness. Unfortunately, the only thing that seems to not have changed about the Princesses is their waist size. Through their perfectly shaped 36x24x36 body, the Princesses are telling girls that being skinny is the universal constant to being a desirable princess. This is wholly unrealistic, degrading and damaging to the girls who just aren’t tiny. However, hope dawned with the introduction of Merida, a realistically sized, freckle-faced, red-headed teenager. Finally, a true role model for girls of all sizes and looks! That is, until Disney decided she needed a “makeover” to match the rest of the unrealistically sized princesses. Way to send the message that being brave isn’t good enough, Disney.

Seeing as the Princesses aren’t being recalled anytime soon, parents with young girls have to make a decision. Do they embrace the appearance or the attitude of the Princesses? Personally, I’d lean towards the attitudes of the more modern Princesses. I’d want my daughter to value herself as a person before she goes searching for her prince charming. That said, I do think there are valuable lessons in the old films. Snow White’s don’t trust strangers. Cinderella’s dreams really can come true (with a bit of bibbity, bobbity, boo!). And Sleeping Beauty’s true love conquers all. As a parent, you have to make that decision on how to approach the films. Don’t kid yourself; it will happen no matter how hard you might fight against it. But above all, you should always be involved in your child’s life and be their very own, real-life Princess and Prince Charming.


Links:
What's Wrong With Cinderella?
Tope 10 Disney Controversies
Disney's 'Brave' Merida Has a 'Sexy Makeover'
Merida From 'Brave' Gets An Unnecessary Makeover

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Women’s Health: More Than Just Abortion

The other night I heard of the plans for anew Planned Parenthood center in the Broadmoor area. The district councilwoman was very excited to have the women’s’ health services available to women of all ages and races who need the low cost guidance. But along with this price comes abortion. This new Planned Parenthood center will also be a regionally accessible abortion clinic. And whenever you throw abortion into the mix, you find the fierce opposition.

Leaving abortion out of this for just a moment, let’s look at the other services offered by Planned Parenthood. At the Magazine St. location, they list birth control, HIV testing, STI testing, emergency contraception, pregnancy testing, men’s health care, women’s health care and general health care, including caner screenings. That’s a lot of services available to the general public for preventative health and well-being. Now, if we look at some maps of the area showing availability of health clinics, we don’t see too many. So instantly, having a new health clinic is a plus to the area. The services these clinics provide are essential for personas of any age and background and therefore should be available to the community.

View Larger Map

Now we can talk about abortion, since I can see you burning up over it. According to Google, there are three abortion clinics in the metro area, two uptown and one in Metairie, which I used to pass on my way to work so I know it’s in operation. According to NOLA Needs Peace, after the new Planned Parenthood center is built, the number of abortions will increase dramatically for the city and the region. How terrible that would be for a city with a ridiculously high crime rate and at least one functioning abortion clinic. How also terrible that would be for the women determined to have an abortion to have a clean and safe environment to legally do so. Like with so many other things, abortions will happen no matter how hard we try to stop them, so it’d be better to be safe about it. You may disagree, but abortion is legal and you have no right to take away anyone’s right to a medical procedure. One could even go as far as to argue that maybe abortions in high crime cities will lower the crime levels, the poverty levels, the single parent levels, the government assistance dependent levels, the child abuse levels, the homeless levels, and so on, because there aren’t as many children being brought up into these situations. Think Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.”

While the main fight against Planned Parenthood is over abortion, they do offer adoption counseling. While it may be statistically true that very few unwanted pregnancies end with adoption, a number do. The other health clinics also offer adoption counseling. I’m all for going the adoption route, but sometimes it just isn’t an option that you are willing and able to consider, physically and mentally. Personally, I don’t think one person should pressure another to carry full-term than adopt out unless that one person has been in the other’s shoes. Every year there are hundreds of thousands of babies and children that are put up for adoption. Most of these are adopted by family member or step-parents; a smaller portion of adoptions are non-familial adoptions. Imagine if there was a sudden influx of unwanted newborns? Are there really enough families ready, not just willing, to adopt? If you are pro-adoption, are you willing and able to adopt that baby yourself? If you’re not, maybe you should rethink your campaign pressuring unready women.

In the end, the Broadmoor area gets a nice brand new health clinic that also specializes in abortions. If you don’t agree with apportions then don’t get one. But also don’t stand in the way of someone who does. This center will provide services to also prevent and protect pregnancies, which is probably more effective at reducing the number of abortions than preaching abstinence and praying the sex away. You want fewer abortions? Then start at home by teaching your sons and daughters about abstinence along with safe-sex practices for when the devil’s temptation is too strong for their teenage hormones.

Links:
American Adoptions: Domestic vs. International
Did Abortion Legalization Reduce the Number Of Unwanted Children? Evidence from Adoptions
Adoption Statistics
Planned Parenthood Is a Target of 'McCarthyism,' Political Strategist Says
Planned Parenthood chief: Warrior in a Culture War
St. Thomas Community Health Center
Daughters of Charity Services - New Orleans
GNO Community - Map of Primary Care and OB Services
NOLA Needs Peace

Monday, April 29, 2013

Being a Non-Believer in a Believer’s World

I am a non-believer in a higher power. I can say this because it’s true and I’m not embarrassed by it. Growing up, the religious figures in my family were my grandparents. They took us to church and taught us to recite prayers. I remember kneeling beside my bed, hands pressed together. By high school I knew what little childhood belief I had was slipping away. I desperately wanted to believe, but nothing ever seemed to “click.” Not that I was heartbroken; hard to miss what you never had. I just learned to accept my lack of belief but also accept the possibility of a higher power. Keeps my options open. Until my eyes are opened and Jesus enters my heart, I personally don’t give one rat’s tail about believing.

I find one main misconception that believers have about non-believers is that we have “no morals.” Now, I have to admit that I was raised Catholic, so maybe that’s where my morals came from. However, I simply cannot believe that any religion has a monopoly on morals’ origins. A moral is a principle of right or wrong behavior. It’s learned through society and has evolved over the millennia of our social consciousness present in human nature. Basically, it’s a learned behavior designed for the well-being of the individual and those around her. As early societies began their sedentary lifestyles, the people had to learn how to work peacefully with each other to ensure the success of the settlement. Hence, morals are realized. Organized religions presented followers with a well organized list of morals. They basically took what was already around and copyrighted it, kinda like what Benson tried to do with “Who Dat?” One could make a stretch and say that non-believers can “learn” morals by observing the actions of believers but sometimes believers aren’t setting the best example…

As a non-believer, I am quite adamant that religion should stay out of politics, no matter how Christian of a nation we’re supposed to be. This nation was founded as a republic, a democracy, a free world, by a number of men who didn’t believe in Jesus by were influenced by a culture steeped in Christianity. Did you know that God was not mentioned in the Constitution, except in the date? The phrase “Under God” was not added to the Pledge of Allegiance until 1952. The First Amendment strictly prohibits the government from placing one religion over another. All of these things just reinforce my belief that Church and State should be separated. The government, and all its ruling bodies, was formed to protect the interests of all of the country’s citizens, not just a specific group. Which means your Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or whatever, beliefs are not necessarily in the interest of all of the citizens and so should not be forced upon another believer through the law. It’s one thing to argue for a cause you believe in, and another to demand that the entire country conform to your belief. As has been quoted in several ways: “People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution; they don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.” As a lawmaker, it’s your duty to uphold the Constitution, for liberty and justice for all. I’m not saying to put your beliefs aside, just be cognizant that what you believe is best for one may not be best for all, then make your laws accordingly.

So now that you’re thoroughly appalled by my (non) beliefs, I know what question comes next: how on God's green earth will I raise children? Well, it’s not rocket science, Einstein. You teach them about love, compassion, peace. You know, the simple things a Christian needs a bunch of commandments to know. Then you teach your children about fear and pain, because it’s going to come one day and they’ll need to know how to cope with and overcome adversity. Don’t need fire and brimstone as examples when we have plenty enough bad examples in real life. When it comes to those pesky morals, you teach them to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Sounds like a bit of self-preservation common sense to me. Hmm, those two words: common sense; things that make sense on a common level. Like not lying to your mom because you know she’ll be mad if you do. Yep, didn’t need a commandment to tell me that one. See, raising children as a non-believer parent should be easy. Well, as easy as raising kids in any way can be.

Obviously none of my belief points here matter to anyone else, especially when that anyone else wholly disagrees with me. But that’s the beauty of this country: we’re free to disagree with each other. And to agree to disagree, but that seems a bit more advanced than we intelligent creatures seem to be able to handle. The apparent issue over religion in this country upsets me greatly. I respect your beliefs even though I don’t ascribe to them. All I ask is that you respect my beliefs and stop proselytizing through the law. Jesus may have said to spread the good news, but he didn’t say to force it unto us.


Links:

Further Reading:
  • Christopher Hitchens - God Is Not Great
  • Sam Harris - The Moral Landscape, Free Will, Letter to a Christian Nation, The End of Faith
  • Dharmachari Nagaraja - Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for You to Read with Your Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Semantically Separate but Equal

Semantics are a bitch. They create such schisms in today’s world that have polarized the populations of the earth into those for or against (insert issue here). Most recently, the issue of the fundamental civil right of two persons to form an official civil union in the eye of the state has made its way to the US Supreme Court. Wait, you say, that right already exists. Ah, this is where semantics enter the game. Try this fragment: “the fundamental civil right of two persons to marry in the eye of the state.”  The above statement sounds perfectly fine also, but when you change that to “the fundamental civil right of two persons of the same sex to marry in the eye of the state,” shit hits the proverbial fan. But what if you were to say “the fundamental civil right of two persons of the same sex to form an official civil union in the eye of the state”? Confused? So is the rest of the world.

First, a little history. The concept of marriage is as old as society. The word is more recent, Middle English originating from Latin 1 2. Before the word marriage was coined, union was the oft used term. A union is a binding of people, things or ideas to a common goal. Marriage at its beginning meant basically the same thing, but the roots of the word come from the words for woman and man. Marriage, as we understand it, is end result of the traditional ceremony that joins two people via an appropriately vested religious figure. Now, throw homosexuality in the mix and, again, shit hits the proverbial fan. That’s because religious teachings tell us that it is “an abomination for one man to lie with another as he would a woman” 3 and that marriage is a sacrament designed to produce new little children of God through the sanctioned sin of sex between heterosexuals 4. Therefore, an abomination in the eyes of God simply cannot be married under God. Hence why so many people are opposed to gay marriage.

However, we are also taught that “all things, great and small, are God’s creations” and that we should “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Archbishop Gregory Aymond sums this up pretty well: “People of the same sex attraction, we love them as God’s people, we want to be in community with them, but we very much disagree on marriage for people of the same sex.” 5 So, if I understand this correctly, homosexuals were created by God and Jesus said to love them. But it’s not cool for them to marry because marriage involves sex and procreation, which is an abomination and not physically possible, respectively. Well, that’s quite understandable in a religious way. As a non-religious person, I can even respect your position in as much as it’s a core belief and you’re sticking to it.

My first concern with this whole hullabaloo is that one set of people is denying another set of people the right to a legal union. My second concern is in the semantics: by using the word marriage, the question of civil rights is taken out of the courtroom and into the church. Marriage is a civil union with the extra step of being blessed by God. Using the term “gay marriage” is offensive for people who believe in the traditional meaning of the word marriage, generally Christians, who will fight to keep the sanctity of this meaning. I really wonder, had it been coined as “gay union,” if there would not be such uproar over the issue. Think about it: the LGBT community is simply asking for the same civil rights as any civil union between two people. They’re not asking for God Himself to bless these civil unions, just the courts. Where’s the civil harm in that?

Ah, the harm is the fact that we live in a country that people insist is Christian founded and governed, even though the original Constitution was very careful not to promote one religion over another. 6 7 8 Then they insist that allowing gays a legal civil union will destroy the institution of marriage, by calling it marriage, and harm their children. Instead, this should be taken as an excellent learning tool. We can teach our children that love really does conquer all. That freedom is worth fighting for. That everyone can be happy. But most importantly, we can teach future generations to respectfully disagree with another person without denying their civil rights.

We as a people have no right to deny another person their rights because we don’t agree with who they are. I believe one day all people will have equal rights, but as history has shown us, that equality doesn’t happen instantly and certainly not without a fight.
 

Sources:



1 http://www.wordorigins.org/index.php/more/1021/
2 http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=marry
3 Leviticus 18:22
4 tp://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c3a7.htm
5 http://www.fox8live.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=8712798
6 http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html (First Amendment)
7 http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_amendments_11-27.html" (section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment)
8 http://www.usconstitution.net/constnot.html#god

Friday, March 15, 2013

Before & After: Side Table



I’m currently remodeling my room. New paint, furniture, accessories. Since I’m on a budget, I opted not to get the nightstand that matches my new bedroom furniture. So I decided that I didn’t need a table since the dresser would be all of two feet from my bed. But I really wanted to do a pendant light next to the bed, and that would just look silly without having something to shine on.

Fortunately, Providence was smiling down on me. I happened to accompany my mom on a job, who happened to bring some trash to the dumpster, which happened to have this cherry stained Queen Anne style pedestal side table sitting next to it. I thought it was ugly at the time, and it was a little wobbly, but we loaded it in the truck anyways. After the table sitting in the den for a week, the proverbial light bulb turned on. I needed a nightstand, but cherry was the wrong color for my room, so why not paint it to match?! (My room and two part bathroom each have a shade of bluish-grey to greyish-blue color, in light, medium and dark) To add a pop of monochromatic color to my room, I decided to paint the table the darkest blue as it would be sitting next to the middle blue accent wall.


The refinishing process took just three days. Well, three evenings of work and two days of drying. Day One: lightly sand, Gorilla Glue the screw post back in place, and paint the first coat. Day Two: paint the second coat. Day Three: put felt pads on leg bottoms and bask in my brilliance. At this point the only downfall was that I used high-gloss paint, so everything stuck to the surface. Solution? Round rattan placemat in a similar color pattern! I made sure to bring my color samples so I could match or contrast the placemat correctly.


The result is perfect! It’s big enough for a book and bottle of water while being a complementary contrasting accent to the d├ęcor. Complementary as it is within the same color scheme of the walls. Contrasting as the Queen Anne and painted style is opposite of my Espresso stained Transitional style furniture. It’s fun and chic without being outrageous so.
What do you think?

Monday, March 11, 2013

From Clutterbug to Neatfreak


I am a recovering clutterer. Yes, there is such a thing. I have hoarding tendencies that I fight against daily. I also have a bit of an OCD problem. Growing up, I was a messy kid, shoving toys under my bed, leaving piles of stuff on my floor. But there was always a path and I generally knew where everything was. As I got older, I accumulated more stuff until I have more belongings in storage boxes than I had out being used. I didn’t understand where this was a problem until the last time I moved and we needed a small U-Haul to carry 3 pieces of small furniture and all of my boxes of stuff. Finally, it sank in that I had a problem and that I needed to do something about it.
My transformation began two years ago when I moved in with my parents. I realized that I needed to lower my “stuff footprint.” All fine and good but where do I start? I had so much stuff I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume. After mostly settling in, I found a box, a box of stuff that hadn’t found a home yet, and I decided to go through this box. And so I found my goal to go through one box, bag, drawer, bin and shelf at a time to minimize its contents. I would do my cleaning chores on Saturday morning weekly. I would start going through my closet monthly and pulling out clothes and shoes to pass on. Once I had these goals in mind, I was ready to take it to the next step.
One of the more difficult aspects of organizing is figuring out how to organize to your advantage. I know I’m a visual person so I needed to organize with clear or open containers and color order. Before I ran out to buy boxes and bins, I evaluated my belongings and how they should be stored. Shoes went into clear plastic shoeboxes that now stack neatly in the closet. Winter gear is in a plastic bin that can easily be tossed in the attic or hall closet during the summer. While my file cabinet is in the closet, out of sight, I have a ladder shelf with my pre-filing open top bins, one for receipts, to-be-filed, and important papers. My closet clothes are arranged in type order then color order, ex. sleeveless then short-sleeved then long-sleeved, each in color order. My dresser clothes are arranged by most used in the top drawers, like sock and t-shirts, to least used in the bottom, like my very nice collection of exercise clothes. In the bathroom, hair supplies and toiletries go under the main sink while facial care and cleaning supplies go under the extra sink because I use those objects at the different sinks. So that’s how I organize.
Now the hardest part of all of this is maintaining the clean. Fortunately for me, though I may be a clutterer, I also have OCD tendencies. Which means once my room is clean, it’s much easier to keep it that way because of the compulsion to keep it clean. This is easily done with starting the day by making the bed as soon as I get out of it. Acts as a burst of energy and discourages me from sneaking back into bed! After that, everything goes back in its place, wherever it came from. Shoes back in the shoeboxes in the closet, coat on the hanger, keys on hook, phone on desk. After washing sheets and clothes, the sheets immediately go back on the bed and the clothes get folded and put away. If I can’t fold them right away, I at least lay out the hanging items so that they don’t get wrinkled. My main rule is that all clothes must be put away appropriately before bed. This rule is a lifesaver for me; otherwise I’d have clothes hanging and hiding all over the place!
While it sounds like I have this clean room thing down pat, truth is I can mess it up in a heartbeat. It seems like one day of not picking up suddenly becomes a week’s worth of stuff sitting on my floor. After I blitz-clean, I remind myself that a few minutes picking up before bed could have saved me a few hours worth of cleaning. I also remind myself of this every time I’m tempted to leave my clothes on the chair. I don’t want to be a clutterer. In fact, I hate having the compulsion to cover every square inch of flat space available in my room. I noticeably avoid my room when it’s messy and seek sanctuary when it’s clean. So I fight against the clutter; sometimes I win, sometimes I lose. What matters to me is that I win more than I lose. What can I say? I’m human!
 
Links:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Making Mardi Gras Greener: An Idea to Throw Out There

The revelry. The lights. The bands. The crowds. The floats. And, of course, the throws. This is our modern Mardi Gras. The kind of event where people come in drove to partake of the city’s hospitality as they fight over pieces of plastic. Once upon a time, Mardi Gras meant something. Now, it just stands for debauchery, greed and ill-manners.

Throwing beads has been a tradition of Carnival since the late 1800s. Back then, the beads were Czech glass in multi-colored strings. With the advent of cheap plastics, beads turned commercialized. Soon these small plastic beads were replaced with larger plastic beads until they evolved into today’s oil based beads. Today’s beads have lost their intrinsic value because of their mass-produced availability, yet because they are flashier than ever, these beads become more sought after. At the same time, more and more beads are being left in the street from being broken or unwanted. Revelers don’t respect the beads because there are simply too many to be had.

Trinkets have quickly become a much sought after commodity. Perhaps one of the most coveted trinkets is neither plastic nor stuffed. It is the Zulu coconut, a traditional throw that is as old as the krewe and has only gone through cosmetic change. Bar these, trinkets have become screen-printed, monogrammed, embroidered, light-up bits of poly and plastic. While some can be pretty cool, like Orpheus' light-up tambourine, others can be amazingly cheap, like the admittedly cute Saints plush that was already falling apart when I caught it. Most of the plushes don’t seem to be worth more than as a dog’s toy. At least the light-up trinkets can be useful but once that non-replaceable battery dies, they become yet another item cluttering your home.

The amount of waste generated during Carnival is astounding. So much so that you don’t need hard numbers to know this, you just have to look around after the parade has passed. Discarded plastic bags, broken beads, food, and drinks litter the ground, lying where they were dropped and forgotten. The trash doesn’t just stay on the parade route; it finds its way down side streets and onto peoples’ front yards. However, the city-hired clean-up crews don’t worry about that; they were hired just to clean the parade route itself. The city spends millions to pick up trash after the parades, money that could be used elsewhere.

There has to be a solution to cut down on the excesses while keeping the exuberance of Carnival. The season’s success should never be measured by how many tons of garbage is produced. But what can we do, you ask? We start by changing the American psyche. Bigger is not always better. We need to cut down on the volume of beads being bought and thrown by going with more locally-made and eco-friendly beads like glass, wood, clay, even newspaper. Instead of plastic bag packaging, beads should come in paper bags, a renewable, recyclable and biodegradable resource. Recycling bins should be set up equidistant down the parade route, with slots for an assortment of goods to encourage their use. In the meanwhile, programs like Arc of New Orleans’ “Catch and Release,” need to be legalized and instituted to promote and facilitate the reuse of unwanted beads.

Mardi Gras and Carnival season need a green facelift. There is too much trash and waste. Something has to be done about this and it has to start at home. This is our city, our world-famous New Orleans. We don’t want it trashed, we want it beautiful. So next time you sign up to ride, think green. One person can make a difference by inspiring the next.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

How to Train Your Rabbit: My Adventure There and Back Again


I had a rabbit once, for two weeks. Why? Because I’m a sucker for stray animals. One night I found a stray black rabbit down the street from my house. A few pieces of lettuce later, I have the rabbit in my possession and safely ensconced in a tall laundry hamper, with lid. I figured it was the safest thing to keep him in temporarily. Fortunately for the rabbit, we always have an extra kennel and I have plenty of plastic shoe boxes. The poor rabbit lived in the ghetto with his shredded newspaper litter and iceberg lettuce and carrots for food. I decided that he needed proper care, so $40 later, he had real rabbit food, fresh aspen shavings litter, sweet potato sticks, sea grass sticks, wood blocks, timothy hay cubes, and a willow stick ball. Yep, this rabbit was livin’ large. And then the fun started.

Rabbits can be litter box trained; just don’t come out knowing to use it, like cats. So for the first few days, the whole cage was his litter box. Gradually, after throwing his poop in the box and wiping up his pee, which is toxic in my opinion, I came to realize that the box was both too small and in the wrong corner of the cage. Apparently rabbits are very picky and function better when each corner, or half, of the cage is set with a specific function, ie bathroom, food, water, toys. And the rabbit will let you know where the bathroom shall be. Once you get past this initial hurdle, however, there’s smooth sailing.

Rabbits are fairly easy to care for indoors. Start with a good sixed cage that is easy to transport or take apart for cleaning. Smaller rabbits need a larger cage as they tend to be more active whereas a larger rabbit is more sedentary. For the litter box, get a plastic shoebox or washtub big enough for the rabbit to set comfortably. For the litter itself, use aspen shavings or pellet style cat litter. Also put a bit of hay, timothy for adults, on one side of the box. They hay is good for them and rabbits tend to poop while they’re eating so this serves a dual purpose. Get some nutritious food and a few snacks, but don’t over feed the rabbit either! Fresh water should of course be available at all times. Make sure to get some wood blocks or cardboard and toys to keep him busy.

Cleaning the cage doesn’t take long. Go ahead and let the rabbit run around for his exercise while you’re cleaning. Keep an eye on him, though! Rabbits can get into some tight spaces. I opted to clean the cage everyday to cut down on any odors, so I only placed enough litter to cover well the bottom of the box. Either way, dump the litter out, wash the pan (remember, rabbit pee is disgusting), refill and replace. Sweep up any stray poops and litter. Wipe off food bowls and the bottom of the cage. Refill water and replace everything as it was. See, that was easy!

Now that you’re done cleaning, play with the rabbit! He may be more interested in hopping arounf the room but he will get back around to you and would love some head scratches before hipping off again. If you want to pick him up for cuddles, make sure you support his back legs, otherwise he’ll lick out. Once you’ve got a secure hold on him, cuddle away! When playtime is over, gently put the rabbit back in the cage and give him a treat. This will reinforce the idea that it’s okay to go back in the cage.

And that, my friends, is how to care for a rabbit. At least, for two weeks. Long term, find a vet and get it fixed. Yes, you can spay or neuter a rabbit and it’s inexpensive! If you’re getting a rabbit for your kid, be sure to show them the proper way to hold the rabbit and remember that you’ll be doing all the work. The internet is your friend for info but always ask the vet if something goes horribly wrong.

To help cut down on rabbit over breeding, adopt a rabbit from your local rescue group! The adoption fee will include a snip or spay and will make room for another rabbit to be rescued. Please remember that pet rabbits are domestic animals and don’t have the necessary skills anymore to survive in the wild, so please don’t release them.

Links:
Magic Happens Rabbit Rescue
PetSmart Rabbit Care & Nutrition