Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Holidaze

“So if you don’t go to church, why do you celebrate Christmas?”  That was the question my Mom asked me a few years back, and my answer to her seemed to satisfy.  I had reason to ask myself the same question earlier today, and thought that it might serve as a way to wish everyone “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” or even “Merry Christmas” because they all kind of apply, despite not being Christian.

The answer is two-fold as to why I, an atheist, celebrate the season.

Habit/Tradition:  I was raised Lutheran, baptized, confirmed, and, having no other option as a youngster, assumed that this was the way it was.  I had questions that really didn’t get good answers from the ministers at Zion Lutheran, so…I went looking elsewhere.  I found a whole host of reasons not to believe (or to adopt one of the other thousand-plus religions/creeds/variations), yet, continued to practice (somewhat irregularly) as a Lutheran…until age 20, when either (a) I left the church or (b) they tossed me out, depending on who you ask.  Still, I celebrated Christmas, partly because nearly everyone else around me did.  I was hardly the rebellious type – heck, despite my lack of church membership and religiosity, I was married in a church (not that one).

My wife and I continued to join our parents and grandparents by celebrating Christmas, though the infusion of religion into the celebrations amounted to saying grace, and that was about it.  Mom and my grandfather went to Christmas Eve services, but no one else did.  It seemed no big deal not to go, so…no one did (except Mom and her Dad).  And when my grandfather was older and less mobile, he stopped going, as did Mom (for a while, anyway).  Our family Christmas get-togethers were mostly about food, presents, and family.  If it wasn’t for a Christmas tree in the corner (and presents), there was little to distinguish Christmas Day from Thanksgiving, or Easter, or the Fourth of July (well, we didn’t wear t-shirts on Christmas).  You get the idea.  It was a holiday, but it didn’t seem like a religious one.

 And when we moved away, there was no family to get together with, but we still “do Christmas.”  Which brings me to the second reason…

The Spirit:  Even if you take the “reason” away from the celebration, the “spirit” of Christmas seems to provide its own level of satisfaction.  Some might even say that the secular aspects the season seems to be what MOST folks deem important – certainly, it seems more time and money is spent on the right tree, grand presents, lights hung from every corner of the house, food, drink, merriment…and did anyone remember to put the crèche up and does anyone know why that’s important? 

Two things I should point out right about now:
  1. I do know the “Christmas Story,” thank you.  But did you know that it’s only in two of the four Gospels (Mark and John felt, for some reason, that it wasn’t important to cover in their books).  Also, the story isn’t the same in Matthew and Luke, for some reason.  While many speculate as to why this might be, you should also know that…
  2. Christmas is the reason I became atheist.  I could not reconcile all of the irregularities in the Bible (and the teachings of my church), plus, the more I learned from Biblical scholars, publications, and the like, the less the whole thing made sense.  Virgin birth?  There are at least 32 other stories in various cultures who describe similar virgin births.  You believe in one and not the others?  Why, exactly?  Plus, the idea that Jesus was born in summer and the date moved to December to co-op winter pagan festivals is also well documented.  Heck, even a past Pope questioned the date (it’s not documented in the Bible, after all). 
I could go on and on about all of that, but it’s not important.  What is important is the original question – if I don’t believe, why celebrate?  Because I can.

To me, Christmas is a happy time.  A time to share (presents and good company).  A time to reflect and prepare.  A time to remember the message:  “Peace on Earth, good will to all.”  Yes, some go overboard with how much they spend, how much they eat, how much they drink.  We try to keep it simple – no tree, but we have a wreath (I love the smell of pine).  No church service, but we play Christmas music a lot, especially these next few days.  There has been a ton of music written for the season (some secular, some not), but honestly, some of the BEST music is Christmas music, and we look forward to playing some of our off-beat Christmas CDs (Mannheim Steamroller, Kingston Trio and some compilation albums).  We send cards, we make a special meal, and we try to be jolly and merry.  And, of course, we wish the best for all our friends and family…and total strangers, too (the last week of December is when we write all of our donation checks).

And I’ll take this opportunity to wish you, dear reader, the best of the season.  Choose your greeting below, and See You Next Year!

Merry Christmas
Happy Holidays
Seasons Greetings
Happy Kwanzaa
Happy Hanukkah
Blessed Ramadan
Happy? Festivus
Happy Boxing Day
Happy Omisoka
Happy Saturnalia
Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Introducing LousyCartoons!

No, there is no website (yet), but I am proud to say that I am drawing lousy cartoons.  And that's what this one is all about.  In all seriousness, I am getting better, but...still not ready for prime time.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ten in the Dustbin

As much as I want to like moderninity, Bill Gates and his minions try everything they can to make me long for the days of slate tablets (vs. the electronic kind), encyclopedias (vs. Wikis), and apples – the fruit, not the iPod/iPad/i-yi-yi stuff.  Mr. Hewlett and Mr. Packard have also recently gone over to the dark side, it seems.  Let me explain.

Despite the warnings and misgivings, I have been considering updating to the new Windows 10 software on my laptop.  My misgivings were not just imagined doomsday scenarios; I have first-hand knowledge.  I already knew that I would only be able to upgrade the laptop we own, as the “mainframe” computer (older desktop that we use for the business and most of our personal financial/important files) is Vista-based, so Windows 10 most likely would not fly there, plus, it’s not a free upgrade, plus, it was most likely that whatever communications/compatibility we had between the two computers would be lost if I only upgraded one of them. 
The only 10 I will ever load
on my computer

Also, I spent a couple of days this fall on a visit to my in-laws to help in what can be best described as the collateral damage leftover when Mom-in-law accidentally installed Windows 10 on her computer.  I got the printer back to working condition for a time, but then the computer rebooted itself and made the mouse and keyboard disappear.  We had to call the Geek Squad (I think she has them on retainer) to fix the mess.  Of course, I’ve read countless other accounts of the havoc Windows 10 has wreaked on various operation systems worldwide.  And the fact that Microsoft used an “update” to put an icon on my desktop reminding me (nagging, really) to upgrade all the time reminded me of the old saying, “The louder the yell, the lousier the sell.”  If it was all that good folks would be flocking to upgrade, right? 

But I was still game to attempt the upgrade, until Misters H and P sent me an email that said (and I am paraphrasing here):
“Oh, hyyyyii…we thought you just might want to note that it’s entirely possible that if your HP computer was built after August 2013, it might not be entirely compatible with the new Windows 10 operating system, maybe, perhaps.  You could click here to find out (and while you’re there, consider buying a new more expensive HP system).

Well.  Microsoft has been pushing 10 for how many months, and JUST NOW you’re finding out it might not be a good fit?  And decided to TELL ME?  JEEBUS.  After I patched the hole in the wall that I had punched through, I followed the link they provided and learned that, why, yes, my laptop probably won’t be a good fit for Windows 10.  So the decision to not download it was easy.

Getting rid of that damn reminder icon was a helluva lot harder. 

Like most cell phone plans, Kim Kardashian, and Hotel California, getting in is easy, but getting out is a whole ‘nother story.  I did some research, Google-ing, “how the hell do I get rid of this damn Windows 10 icon?” and after making several changes and rebooting THREE TIMES after doing so, I have rid myself of the damn tray icon.  For now, at least.  If you’re interested, three good sources for DIY removal are here, here, and here.

And I would tell Bill Gates to take his Windows 10 and shove it up his ass, but it’s getting crowded up there with several copies of Windows ME and a couple of Zunes.

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Chip and a Chairman of the Board

Yeah,, it's just another cartoon.

If RAWA is a Joke, Where are the Cartoons?

I have a confession to make.  Despite a career in radio, I’ve firmly believe that a picture is worth a thousand words, and I have envied editorial cartoonists for their ability to tell a story and get a laugh all at the same time.  I harbor a secret fantasy of being like them, creating witty and relevant cartoons with a scathing message.

Problem is, I can’t draw a lick.  But I am trying to change that.  One of my two “retirement goals” is to learn to draw (the other is to play a musical instrument).  I thought I might get a jump on one of these goals prior to hanging up my ice cream scoops this off-season, and for the last couple of weeks I have been learning and practicing, all in the hopes of getting something drawn to show off.

Well.  I am no Chad Holloway, neither on the green felt nor in print.  No WSOP bracelet is in my future, but I can see the day when I can draw well enough to have something of value.

Problem is, some of my ideas deal with Sheldon Adelson and Jason Chaffetz and their plan to stop online gambling with Shelly’s RAWA bill.  And thanks to Wednesday’s hearing, RAWA might be dead, and all my good ideas down the drain thanks to an inability to illustrate effectively.  I’m getting better – faces look more realistic and I can do some expressions that are somewhat convincing, but my characters don’t have decent hands.  Kinda like my poker playing, too.

My “comic strip” idea revolves around a poker player (both live and online) and his constant companion, a poker chip, who sits on his shoulder and dispenses sage advice like a guardian angel.  Oft-times “Chip” is at odds with my nameless gambler…and one of the subjects I had planned on having them discuss was RAWA.  But RAWA might be dead and gone (I hope I hope I hope) before I ever get my shading and depth perceptions correct, so…

I have decided to put my ideas in a slightly different type of comic strip for now.  I have a few of these coming, so keep up the fight, and enjoy.

PS – send more pencils.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

RAWA Hearing Aftermath – Excuse Me, Is This Your Ass? (hands it to Jason)

Today was the day that Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Clueless) got to hold his precious little
Someone is not happy today.  Make that "someones."
hearing  for Sheldon Adelson’s RAWA bill HR707 (aka Restore America’s Wire Act) in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  The Hearing’s title - “A CASINO IN EVERY SMARTPHONE – LAW ENFORCEMENT IMPLICATIONS” could have been retitled “Why not to invite witnesses who don’t actually know much about the subject at hand.” 

Of course, that would have disqualified Chaffetz, but I digress.  Yesterday I looked at the written statements of two of the four witnesses.  Today I look at the other two statements, and a brief discussion on the actually hearing follow.  Because I only saw about 20 minutes of it live thanks to a broken dishwasher, I am basing my comments on (a) what I saw and (b) mostly what others saw and wrote about.  Kinda like how Chaffetz works, I know.

Joseph Campbell, the Assistant Director, Criminal Investigative Division of the FBI was the first witness today, and frankly, I expected him to be the star witness for the prosecution…I mean, he would be an excellent expert to discuss the finer nuances of online gaming.  His written statement deals harshly with illegal gambling.  Not online gambling exclusively, and not LEGAL online gambling.  Just illegal gambling.  Illegal activity.  Hence, one could conclude that, if one were taking part in a LEGAL activity (like online horse racing or one of the three states who have LEGAL online poker), then the FBI could give a shit.

From what I have gathered from the questions asked of him, Campbell stayed in this capacity when he attempted to answer questions.  Which, from all reports, he failed to do much of.  Provide answers, that is.  He certainly provided little in the way law enforcement regarding the “implications of online gambling“ or anything like what Chaffetz and Adelson were looking for.  Hee hee hee.

The fourth witness (I wrote about the other two here) was Mark Lipparelli, State Senator from Nevada, former Gaming Control Board Chairman to the Nevada Gaming Commission and heavily involved in Nevada’s implementation of online poker.  His written statement is full of stuff the other three were missing…actually facts rather than speculation.  In fact, his best comment was about how it’s time to move on from all that:

“The three existing US markets and several regulated markets in Canada have now applied their knowledge to actual operations and historical speculation has given way to their success and foundation knowledge.” (emphasis mine)

OK, I lied.  This is even better.  Later, he talks about the potential risks involved with starting online poker in Nevada, and “…that you cannot be given complete assurance that legal igaming can be properly governed.”

“However, after spending six years with experts in the field, developers of products, independent test labs and regulators from Alderney, the United Kingdom, Gibraltar, France, Italy, Malta, the Isle of Man, Singapore and many others I can give you confidence that the regulated model does work.”


The little of the live hearing I was able to see involved Mr. Lipparelli and he was as bright a star answering questions as he was in his lengthy and detailed written statement (it a great read – here).  He was very informative, very humble, and, even when the question was about a “fool-proof method” (to keep kids from getting a cell phone from someone not the parents and going online and losing thousands…yeah, they really were grabbing at straws here), he was direct and complete in his answers.

And let me interject something here – name me ONE thing that’s “Fool Proof,” especially anything our government oversees.  Medicaid fraud, Banking regulations, Social Security scams, Agricultural subsidies…but no, we gotta make getting online and playing poker FOOL PROOF.  Idiots.

Anyway, like I said earlier I only saw a bit of the show live.  Much of the chatter I read seemed to imply that, with the exception of Lipparelli, the inquisitors (members of Congress) seemed to know more about the subject than the witnesses.  Hat tips especially to Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ), and Ted Lieu (CA).

The complete hearing in all of it’s You-Tube glory can be found here, PPA’s official take on the hearing here, and here are excellent recaps by Steve Ruddock (sort of live blogging) and Dan Cypra from PocketFives.  More to come I am sure, and I’ll post ‘em on the Coalition to Counteract the Coalition to Stop Online Gambling Facebook site.

Overall, it was a pretty bad day for Sheldon Adelson.  Well, LVS stock went up 2%, so there’s that, anyway.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

RAWA Hearing, Part II - Same Old Shit in a New Box

Tomorrow Sheldon Adelson gets to unwrap an early Christmas present courtesy of Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Grumpy): The second hearing on his RAWA bill HR707 (aka Restore America’s Wire Act, or Restore Adelson’s Wampum Act, depending on your view).  As there’s lots of similarities between this hearing and the one held last Spring.

For one thing, the witnesses scheduled to give testimony once again fail to include anyone remotely connected to the very industry Chaffetz wishes to interrogate investigate.  And it’s slanted toward the “gambling is bad” side.  Another similarity – despite the idea of holding a hearing being a key step in a move to actually get the bill passed, there is NO mention of it on Adeslon’s CSIG’s site.  It’s almost as if they don’t want their own supporters to know about it.  To his credit, Chaffetz’s Facebook page has a mention (he didn’t do that last time).  That’s the only credit Jason gets from me.

The cast of characters this time is a bit different – the March hearing was before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations This one is in front of a larger crowd – the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  The theme is different, too, with the not-so-subtle title of this hearing being “A CASINO IN EVERY SMARTPHONE – LAW ENFORCEMENT IMPLICATIONS.”  And the witnesses are more law-and-order types – from the FBI, an Attorney General (one of the 8 who signed the letter supporting RAWA), a State Senator from Nevada (the one guy who might be on our side), and the attorney from Douglas County, Nebraska.

Let’s examine this last one first.  Donald Kleine has been the Attorney for Douglas County since 2007 (Douglas County is the most populous county in Nebraska – Omaha is the county seat).  He’s a Democrat (but a Midwestern one, so he’s no screaming liberal).  But why is he testifying? 

For one thing, his election campaign website calls him “tough on crime.”  For another thing, he knows the Abbouds.  According to this website, at one time he was part of Abboud Law.  Or did something with them, it’s not clear.  We’re talking Greg and Chris Abboud.  Brothers of Andy.  Andy of “Sheldon Adelson’s right-hand man.”

So there’s THAT connection.

As for his written testimony, he’s been taught well.  He uses a lot of the CSIG buzzwords (“the challenges of local law enforcement in protecting our most vulnerable citizen from the dangers that lurk in the realm of online gambling”) and conflagulates the idea of legal and regulated online gaming with the nefarious off-shore stuff (run by “massive foreign companies”).”  The big stinker (to me) was this: “Finally, online gambling activities are extremely difficult to monitor because users can remain largely anonymous.”  This would come as a shock to anyone who signed up in New Jersey and surrendered their name, address, social security number, etc. etc. etc. 

Anonymous my ass.

Alan Wilson is the Attorney General for South Carolina, one of the strictest states (next to Utah) when it comes to gambling.  Sure, they have a lottery and some charitable bingo, but that’s it.  It wasn’t always that way – for nearly twenty years SC was the largest video poker community in the country (more than 33,000 machines) until operations were shut down in late 1999.  Wilson’s written testimony also has many classic CSIG catchphrases – Founding Fathers, States Rights (no, really), FBI warnings, and so on.  He talks about how “In South Carolina, gambling is largely prohibited and has been throughout the history of our state” (emphasis mine) and one wonders where Wilson was from 1980 to 1999 when there was a video poker machine on every corner.

He gets there, eventually, calling the experience “traumatic.”  He then gets to pull in the anecdotal stories about Mom’s leaving their kids in the car to die while they played video poker, and other fun stuff (addictions, embezzlements, and organized crime).  From there it’s a quick step to the 2011 DOJ ruling and how that opens the door to “…entities, many of which are foreign-national corporations, to operate online casinos in states like Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey without any assurance that these online casinos are not being accessed in states like South Carolina.”  That’s whopper #1.

Whopper #2 comes next: “…the reality is offices like mine, charged with the responsibilities of enforcing our own gambling laws and protecting the public, cannot  be expected to rely on the good faith of massive foreign owned gambling companies licensed by other states.”  I kinda thought technology was in play rather than “good faith” but what do I know?  And I had no idea that all of the entities in NJ, NV, and DE were “massive foreign-owned gambling companies.”  And he closes with the killer: “As a result of the DOJ opinion…it is almost impossible for parents to protect their children from accessing virtual casino games on their smartphones, tablets and laptops. Now, casinos are almost ubiquitous on every street corner in America as the virtual clouds and mobile devices operate anywhere at every hour of the day.”

Hey, Mr. Wilson!  If it’s that easy to do – access one of these legal gaming sites from your office in South Carolina – PROVE IT.  TRY IT.  And once you’ve failed, STFU.

As for Joseph Campbell, the Assistant Director, Criminal Investigative Division of the FBI – I haven’t found any links to him and online gaming.  I do know he’s done work dealing with “vulnerable children” and “human trafficking” but nothing on poker and clicking your mouse/lose your house activity.

Finally, there is Mark Lipparelli, State Senator from Nevada.  Prior to this position, he was Gaming Control Board Chairman to the Nevada Gaming Commission.  He was part of the process that led to Nevada going online, he’s worked for a firm involved with the customer verification process for online gaming, and he’s been a strong advocate for online poker ALL ACROSS AMERICA.  Finally, someone who ACTUALLY KNOWS SOMETHING ABOUT THE THING CHAFFETZ WANTS TO ELIMINATE REGULATE EXAMINE.

I’m sure tomorrow’s hearing will be both fair and balanced.  Hah – I’ll have a follow-up post in a day or two.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

We Like Murder?

I am almost ashamed to make this post, because to do so means I actually read some of the crap I am to tell you about.  The event in question occurred in 2014, so it’s not recent, but what happened today is (obviously), and it’s that that I wish to opine upon.

First – this is not about guns, nor crime, nor Donald Trump.  It is about how people “see” a situation that at first blush looks like murder, cold and simple, and then…somehow some folks see a hero, see true justice, see vindication or something…and “like” it (in a Facebookian sort of way).

What happened today was a post on a Facebook site called “We Support Donald Trump.”  It is NOT an official Donald Trump site.  It DOES have more than 195,000 followers.  It posts a lot of stuff, about one post every 20 minutes or so (no, really, a LOT of stuff) and half is actually related to Trump or the campaign.  Earlier today the following was posted:
This is the molester (dead now)
The event in question (the shooting) happened last year, so I don’t know why, exactly, the need to post it today.  But what happened is this: Jay Maynor, an Alabama father shot Ray Brooks (pictured) who was tried and convicted of molestation of the shooter’s 7-year old daughter.  Why was this sex offender not in jail?  Because the molestation and trial occurred a long time ago – the crime in 2001, with Brooks pleading guilty in 2002.  He got five years and restitution; served 27 months and made restitution.

And got shot and killed several years later.  Because…why?

So far, of the eight different stories I’ve read about this, it’s not clear.  The best I’ve come up with was an interview with the molestation victim (who would now be 21) that Maynor, “lost control of his emotions.”  OK, then.

What IS clear is that, while the majority of opinion is very clear that this is premeditated murder, there are some using the term “hero.”  There was a petition started to have a reasonable bond set.  There was a Facebook page that was set up to raise funds for Maynor (it’s gone now).  And the Facebook post that I saw has 26 “likes” on it – including one of my FB friends, which is why it found its way onto my news feed.

So let me be clear – there are some (not many), but some people who “like” the idea of tossing aside our justice system, EVEN WHEN IT WORKS, and taking matters into their own hands.  This is seen by the “likers” as a GOOD thing.

Do we even wonder why we are so fucked up as a nation?  How can you possibly think this is a “good” thing?  Can anyone illuminate me?  I am lost on this one.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Stamp Out Hate

Another day, another shooting.  One day it’s an attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic.  Another day it’s a massacre at a holiday party.  Previously, a college campus.  And a church.  And a school.  And we react the same way, over and over, and of course, nothing changes.  

The uptick in violent mass assaults such as these is not your imagination.  Here are just a couple of items I pulled off others’ internet postings:
Mass shootings under each President's term.
·       Reagan 1981-1989 (11 mass shootings).
·       Bush Sr 1989-1993 (12 mass shootings).
·       Clinton 1993-2001 (23 mass shootings).
·       Bush Jr 2001-2009 (16 mass shootings).
·       Obama 2009-2016 (162 mass shootings).
According to the FBI, a “mass shooting” is defined as 4 or more people killed.
Source (FBI Crime Statistics)
The San Bernardino shooting is America’s 1,044th mass shooting in 1,066 days.

Yeah, violence is on the rise here.  The whole world knows it.  The BBC opened its coverage of the ongoing San Bernardino mass shooting Wednesday evening by acknowledging a fairly alarming reality: “Just another day in the United States of America, another day of gunfire, panic, and fear.”

You can’t even enforce your café’s no-smoking policy without getting shot.

Let’s set aside the talk of guns and religion and political parties for just a minute and discuss the real reason things have taken a turn for the worse:


The amount of hatred in all forms is unmistakably higher than, well, than I can remember.  Hate speech.  Nasty digs.  Road rage.  Angry lies. Race-bating.  Religion-bashing.  Party-blaming.  Stereotyping “all liberals” or “all Muslims” or “all Republicans.” More lies.  Outright bullshit.

Remember civil discourse?  It seems like a distant memory.  In the last couple of days I have tried to “keep it civil” with arguing parties both on social media and in person.  I do just fine until they pull out what I refer to as “crap talk” – name calling, demonizing, blame-throwing bile that stops me in my tracks.  Before my blood pressure began to be an issue, I’d fire back.  Now, I just walk away.  I have to.

We all should.

I was reminded of an old parody song from the Broadway musical “The Mad Show.”  Entitled “Stamp Out Hate,” it was sung by a group of people so dead set on achieving peace and tolerance that they would go through extremes to do it.  Some of the lyrics:

What, me hate?
We're gonna stamp out hate! That's our creed!
Wipe out violence, intolerance and greed!
We're gonna start right now, tomorrow is too late!
We're gonna stamp! Out! Hate!

We're gonna stamp out hate, stamp it in the ground
And then take happiness and spread it all around
We'll put an end to grief, we can hardly wait
We're gonna stamp! Out! Hate!

We're gonna stamp out hate, sock it in the eye
Shoot it in the stomach, yelling Die! Die! Die!
We'll pull its insides out, and look at what it ate
We're gonna stamp! Out! Hate!

Of course, it was all in good fun…until the end.

(A door opens – footsteps – a well-dressed man approaches the audience)

Ladies and gentlemen, in these troubled times I think there's a lesson to be learned from these dedicated young people... ("okay, get the door.") ...coming together to, uh…wait! ("hold him still.")

(The singers garrote the speaker, drop him to the ground, and then walk away, whistling the final bar of the song.)

We should all be aware that yes, bad feelings can turn into bad words.  And bad words can turn into bad actions.  Hate crimes are fueled by hate speech.  Can there even be any doubt?

Several of my friends have also noted the rise in hate, and hate speech, and have spoken out about it.  Some, like me, merely decry our depraved condition.  Others have called for action – rather than speak, do good.  Volunteer at a soup kitchen, help the homeless vets, whatever moves you.

This worldwide holiday season we’re in features 29 different holidays (for several different religions and a few secular holidays, too).  Holidays are times for sharing, days off of work, but the word holiday can also mean “a period of exemption or relief” (like “tax holiday”). 

I would suggest that we all take a “Hate Holiday” and stifle the desire to lash out with hateful rhetoric.  Think before you speak or post.  Spreading hate is like spreading fertilizer to grow even more hateful action.  Stop that shit now.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

How to End All Abortions

Before I tell you my plan to end all abortions, a few disclaimers and disclosures:

First, I am pro-choice.  That might sound weird given the headline, but pro-choice does not necessarily mean one is pro-abortion.  It only refers to the choice being left up to the individual, and since I am a firm believer in self-determination, I have to remain consistent.  This is kind of like being a state’s rights advocate, only on a smaller, more personal level.

Besides, I am male and cannot have an abortion no matter how hard I try.

And one more thing – I can easily envision being in a position where a very personal decision about having a child is threatened by others – because I’ve been in that position.

When we were first married, we assumed we’d have kids.  In the early Seventies most young couples undoubtedly felt the same way.  I knew couples who never discussed the issue and had kids “by surprise.”  I knew couples who never discussed the issue and found themselves “with child” and had an abortion.  I’ve also known single women who either had the baby or had an abortion, again, with some thinking about the process ahead of time, and others being caught “by surprise.”

As time went on and the Seventies gave way to 1980, the world was a different place than when we married, and we had talked about whether or not to have children on and off for almost five years.  We finally had a very long talk (over a 3-day weekend) and came to a decision that we knew would be very unpopular with our families (and others), and so, one day, we drove off to the local Planned Parenthood clinic to do the deed.

And I got a vasectomy.

The choice for us was to make permanent the decision not to have children, and we could have done either a vasectomy or Mona could have a tubal ligation.  My operation was easier, safer, and cheaper.  That was important for us back in 1980.  So we did it and didn’t tell anyone, and we’ve not regretted the decision at all. 

But back to my idea about ending abortion. 

You should know that I don’t think we can end ALL abortions.  Very few things are ever completely eradicated…oh sure, we’ve seen a lot of plant and animal species go extinct, but as far as human behaviors, we have a lousy track record in completely eliminating those behaviors we find to be distasteful, dangerous, against our beliefs, etc.  Drinking, smoking, drugs, gambling, prostitution…you name it…we can reduce but we can’t abolish.  Making it illegal just drives the activity underground.  So let’s not even try for zero, OK?

And no, litigation isn’t the answer.  We’ve made abortion illegal in the past, and all it does is change an abortion from “safe and legal” to “unsafe and illegal.”  Abortions still occurred.  Worse, some folks with the wherewithal can leave the country and get an abortion in places where it is safe and legal, leaving (once again) those who are less fortunate to go underground to obtain an abortion.

So let’s reduce the number of abortions.  Here’s how – every abortion starts with the same basic premise – a pregnancy.  If we reduce the number of pregnancies, we can statistically assume that we will reduce the number of abortions.  Another factor – women who are pregnant and want to have a baby usually don’t have abortions.  It’s only women who are NOT ready, able, or willing to have a child that fall into the “abortion” column.  So, if we can attempt to make more pregnancies the kind where the woman WANTS to be pregnant at that point in time and fewer (or dare I say, “none”) where the pregnancy IS NOT preferred, this would have a profound effect on the number of abortions performed.

If women (and couples) could actually PLAN their sexual reproduction outcomes – I want to be pregnant or I don’t want to – you know, kind of a “planned parenthood” of sorts – that would go a long way in reducing abortions.  Education for both young women and men (actually, both genders both young and old of a fertile age) is the key.  Access to pregnancy prevention techniques – for woman AND for men – is another important step.  By increasing education about this most important life activity (sex and its consequences) and increasing access to the tools needed to PLAN properly, we can go a long way in reducing abortions.

Now, here’s the funny thing.  Many of the same people who are anti-abortion are also
  • anti-family-planning,
  • anti-sex-education, and
  • anti-birth-control.
That makes no sense.  That’s like wanting fire prevention and restricting access to water, hoses, sand buckets, and not teaching people about how fire starts.

If you really don’t want abortions, you really DO need to help people find ways not to become pregnant when they don’t want to become pregnant.  No pregnancy?  No abortion? 

What’s that, you say?  Abstaining from sex also prevents pregnancies?  True enough, but like in a previous paragraph above, I argued that we have a lousy track record in behavior modification.  Telling someone else “don’t have sex” doesn’t seem like a very well-thought-out method, and indeed, so many studies have been done to show that “abstinence-only education” is a complete failure that I wonder why it’s even discussed anymore. 

But I will humor you a bit – “just don’t have sex” is a great idea.  And you know what else is also a great idea?  Leadership.  The old saying “do as I say, not as I do” means that DOING is much better that SAYING.  Leadership.  Show the way.  Let’s see how it’s done.

In other words – when it comes to the idea of “just don’t have sex” –


Or maybe make this guy be first: