Reestablishment of Prerogative

I started this blog to have a serious place to empty my mind. To show that I think of more than Social media chatter. I lost that. From anxiety about ideas going out that may go to the wrong place/people, to worries about actually emptying my mind, to generic apathy, I lost my concern for this blog. Not for the ideas, not for the passion to go do things, or speak up, but for the actual writing. Allow me to illuminate a dark secret: I do not like to write. Yep, I abhor the physical act of it, and the process of it tires me, and often bores me too. Typing gives me some help, but it is still a chore for me. I write precisely because it is a hard, tedious task for me. I have always heard poetry in the world around me, I hear rhythms (another secret: I can’t read or write music either) and intertwining harmonies of all sorts and kinds, but don’t have the tools to give the expression of them life. So, in order to not shirk that which is difficult, in order to bring greater richness and wealth to my own psyche and personal development, in order to hold myself to my own convictions and principles of finishing what I start even if neglected or partly forgotten, for the pure sake of doing it, I will be writing here more. My other blog gets more people, this one is more in line with my mentality. I also plan on making this a bit more proper. I do not do my due diligence on these and research at all times, I do not properly vet my own ideas and allow them the proper words, I just vomit them onto the screen and allow that to be OK. So to the few who do read this, you will begin to see more from me here, at minimum once per week. My life, my words, my ideas, my blog. Welcome to A Dose of Andrew, the Doctor is in.

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A Matter of Choice

Choice. It seems so simple. In this particular case, I am referring to the choice to give birth or not. It should be a simple thing, only women can do it, only women should be able to decide. It rarely ends up that way though. Take myself, if I had the choice, I would say that every woman under the age of 18 should have a mandatory abortion… but I will come back to that. I want to speak to some of the other views that irritate me. If there is one thing i will stand up for it is choice, so lets spend a minute defining that.

Choice. There are a few definitions in online and print dictionaries, the one I will focus on, mostly because the other pertinent ones are able to be encapsulated by this focus, is this one from Merriam-Webster, whose wording I personally like: Choice: the opportunity or power to choose between two or more possibilities : the opportunity or power to make a decision (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/choice) A poignant choice of words (pun intended). The Opportunity or Power… very specific. There’s an inherent nowness to those words. A prescience of presentness if you will. To mince words, and get into semantics a bit, any way you want to push the definitions (check the websites and print, this applies to all numbered definitions as far as I can tell) in order to make it about a future choice, you have to put a modifier on the word, like I just did. That is blatant implication of immediate present within the very word, and since words describe concepts, an inherent immediacy to the concept of choice, of choosing. A future choice is not completely foreseeable, and unmakeable. A past choice is unchangeable, so the present is the ONLY choice possibility. And therefore the power of choice rests in the right now. This may seem to be redundant, or unnecessary, but to establish that choice is a determination of the future that lies with the immediate present is important. Now then, since we have established that with a certain amount of reasonability, I will move on to the next part of my ranting.

The very definition I used for choice implies a sort of consciousness, a minimum awareness of external circumstances and the separation of them from self. This is a minimum amount of awareness necessary to even establish the concept of self. That may be a bit esoteric for some people, so let me rephrase. In order to even establish the idea of self, yourself, or someone/thing else as self,  you must first be able to establish the thought process and idea of separation. The distinction of this from that, if you will. We often use those words without thought, and we instinctively know when one sounds wrong, but when pressed, I bet most people would be unable to provide a reasoning as to when and why you would use one instead of the other. Try it, try to explain in just words, no examples, of when you would use this instead of that, and vice versa. More difficult than it seems, yes? But yet you can do it instinctively, and you know that there is a separation between the two, even if you cant describe it. This is an example of that distinction. An inherent separation of 2 or more unitary ideas. The power of choice rests in separating self from the actions, in order to to have that opportunity, there must be enough consciousness to at least comprehend that  distinction, and I will state that it is the minimum necessary awareness for consciousness itself. The ability to determine the separation of self from all that is not-self. I believe, in a minimalist way, this is the definition of self-awareness. Anything without this has neither opportunity, nor power of choice. The privilege of choice is a different story, one of power and circumstance, but the definition of choice allows for any person/animal/thing that has such awareness the power of choice, and nature constantly provides opportunity. I will briefly mention that the constancy of choice is what gives rise to time, and is inherent to self-awareness. but that intertwining circular definition of time and choice is for another ranting, one which hits more upon Godel and the idea that no self-referencing system can be free of paradox. For now, I will stay with this definition, and leave the more metaphysical definition for the after-arguments. Right now, the minimum requirement for the power and opportunity of choice is that awareness of separation between self and all else. This is an important distinction, an instinctive awareness is good enough.

Choice, back to the heart of the matter. When making choices for other sentient beings that also have the ability to choose, the being taking that away is depriving the other of liberty, freedom, and they are reducing the sentience and consciousness of the being that is deprived to one of lesser status, an arbitrary and arguable reduction at best. When people do it to animals, we do it as a matter of conscience in order to feel better about the (arguable) necessity of killing other sentient animals for food or in order to usurp common living areas for only people to live in. This allows us to make a distinction between murder, and simple killing. Make no mistake, this is the only distinction, any argument other than this is a semantic one, a prettying up of the concepts. Structured choice produces similar reactions in all organisms, and we can easily group them as such, but in order to alleviate a moralistic inequality, we make a distinction between us and them. Now we get to the current political issue of choice in giving birth, the subject I opened this with.

I said at the beginning that i believed that every woman under the age of 18 should have mandatory abortions when impregnated. I hope that produces reflexive anger in people. I truly believe that is the responsible course of action given world population, natural resource use, and the psychological maturity of the majority of teenage girls who have the physical ability to give birth, but don’t have the mental development to properly give a child a sense of responsibility in the world. However, I do not believe I have the right to take away the inherent power of choice from the women who would, or would not, give birth. Their inherent right to make that decision is not something I can arbitrarily take away, nor can any society that makes claims to liberty, freedom and individualism. The right to choose is not given to the baby that is yet-to-be-born. Our previous definition of awareness precludes it. The pre-born (a term right-to-life folks use to give a sense of impending life, but I like it for different reason I will show in a moment) have not had the opportunity to establish a separation of self from environment. That precludes them from having the power or opportunity for choice, by previous definitions. They are pre-born, and therefore pre-aware, and pre-life, which places them, by any non-hypocritical definition, at a lower state of awareness and therefore right of choice, to even our animal friends that we routinely slaughter. An egg is pre-born, sperm is pre-born, DNA fragments floating waiting to be inserted into a cell is all pre-born. If that is the term, then pre-born is pre-life,  and has no rights at all. A rock has no rights, the basic chemical building blocks of life are all pre-born, and they have no rights, so without any non-arbitrary temporal distinction, pre-born is pre-life and pre-rights. Parents routinely make decisions for their children, and to take that right away from them is contrary to all belief systems that advocate for parental rights. A person has the power and privilege of making choices, but they cannot escape the consequences and responsibilities of those choices. A woman who makes the choice to give birth should do so knowing that she will have to take the responsibility of that child on herself, alone. A man cannot be involved in the personal decision to carry the child, and therefore should not be required to be responsible for the consequences of said decision personally. Society in general is by its nature, but individual males should not be making the decision to carry children to term, and also should be absolved of responsibility of the burden by legal requirement. That is a hypocrisy and laziness of the society requiring it. While I make no statement here about a moral obligation by a societal convention or paradigm, it should not be a legal requirement in a society that claims individual opportunity, liberty, freedom and responsibility. A man has no business telling a woman what to do with her body, and she has no business telling a man that he has to be responsible for her decisions, nor should the courts or other legal bodies. Her decision, her responsibility, her liberty and freedom. To take that right away is to reduce the consciousness of a woman to that of something lesser than man, and on a level with young children, and even animals. Every woman who believes she has the same rights as a man, and every man who believes that too, and that women are capable, intelligent, responsible, independent beings with the ability to reason, interact, and contribute meaningfully to society in a manner that is anything other than a lesser role to men should be standing behind this.

i intentionally left out medical definitions of life, or humanity, or even a breakdown of a development of consciousness. that was done beautifully by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan in the book Billions and Billions. (Also in Parade magazine) Rather than plagiarize or redo their outstanding work, I will just reference it here. For me, it is a simple matter: the rights of the actuality override the rights of the potentiality, so the right of a woman to choose, overrides the right of the pre-born. Period. I quite honestly do not believe in the existence of rights for non-viable pre-born, and have limited belief in the rights of viable fetuses prior to actual natural delivery. i understand this personal belief is contradicted by medical interference and practice, and many fetuses have become living people with modern medical intervention and assistance. For me, this is a compromise, and my conservative nature allows this as a compromise, knowing that to do otherwise would then be legislating religious belief, which I am against as a proud American.

Choice. It’s a requirement for sentience, consciousness, and for a fetus to go from pre-born, to fully born, or to go from being pre-born to fully un-born. It is also required to give women the inherent rights they deserve: to be fully equal, independent and capable human beings with all the same rights and responsibilities as men in a free society.

Africa, Poop, Waste, and Common Needs

If you have seen my blog before, or are looking at it now, (ahem, as you should be if you are reading this) you can see my previous posting about biogas and waste in a small-scale business model with a cartridge or small receptacle style collection paradigm. Here is a paper I recently wrote that expands on that, and can include a traditional sewer and solid waste treatment type, as well as normal waste with mechanical separation. It is brief, because of the necessity of the forum I was using, but here is the whole paper…

Africa and the World, an Energy and Agriculture necessity
Africa is on a cusp of a revolution in how it lives. What that revolution is will depend heavily on how it comes to fruition. Africa has many problems, and none will be solved quickly, but ideas are the currency of the future, and so, here is mine. There is a push for biodiesel produced and farmed in Africa, but destined to make profits, and be used, mostly in foreign markets. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/may/31/biofuel-plantations-africa-british-firms)  Even the local governments push that the revenue will be mostly tax generated to improve the standards of living through social programs. (http://www.africabiofuel.com/Benefits.aspx) Yet the report on Africa’s problems concerning irrigation and mechanization show a distinct need for diesel-engined equipment to further the mechanization and agricultural development of Africa to maintain standards for the population, economies, and governments of Africa sustainably. I have another suggestion: poop. Or, more accurately, waste. Disposal of garbage, human, and livestock waste all have massive potential in a continent with the varied geography, natural resources, and cultures that Africa has. They all share problems common to the world however, which is to say that mechanization and progress almost inevitably lead to more waste.
Biogas generators have been around for awhile, but only in recent years have the efficiency and multi-use capabilities really been looked at, and developed. The most efficient design is a CHP (Combined Heat and Power) design that not only gets energy from the Methane produced, but uses the exhaust gasses to drive a steam turbine. And let us not forget that the exhaust from burning Methane is about 60% water (clean water) and 30% carbon dioxide, with a few impurities making up the remainder. (CHP and municipal solid waste designs here: http://www.clarke-energy.com/gas-type/sewage-gas/ and http://www.clarke-energy.com/gas-type/biogas/mbt-ad-energy/ best diagrammatics I found were from this companies’ website, but the principle is the same everywhere) the same principles and basic designs apply across a range of waste sources: the leftover material from fermentation, for alcohol or biodiesel production, the organic waste from agriculture including livestock waste and unused plant material, solid waste from landfill-type facilities, and my favorite, seaweed. One of the ideas not discussed in any website, but the technology is sound, is to use the exhaust gases from a methane burner to power desalination. Distillery methods of desalination are old, well-proven, and of extreme utility to the parched regions of Africa, and the Sea Salt leftover from the process is a valuable commercial commodity worldwide as well as locally. There is some concern for a major impurity known as siloxanes, which leave a silicate residue from the generation. This is also a commodity, as the silicate can be smelted same as with any silicates mined. Also, the sludge left after anaerobic digestion is a high quality fertilizer that enriches the soil, and slows or eliminates the erosion and strip-farming techniques used without high-quality fertilizers.
To recap, there is a renewable resource for electricity production, and it’s waste products are: heat, to be used for generating steam electricity, creating nearly 90% efficiency, or to be used to desalinate water for drinking or irrigation; its exhaust is mostly water vapor, again usable for drinking or irrigation; and carbon dioxide, a useful commodity itself for petroleum production, or even soft-drinks; and high quality organic fertilizers. The byproducts are almost completely usable, either for the direct good of the populace, or as commercially salable commodities. With village-based digesters, it can scale down for remote areas to produce their own intermittently, or with village size collectors, the waste can be transported to larger collection facilities to maximize constant running and efficiency and to make up for the extra transportation costs. Also, the by products of biodiesel production make excellent biogas seed materials. (http://www.clarke-energy.com/gas-type/biogas/agricultural-biogas/)
With a trinity of needs; mechanization, fertilization, and irrigation, driving the agriculture, and a solid electrical infrastructure to co-develop the industrial and commercial sectors along with that agricultural growth, waste is a serious resource for regions that are used to subsisting on less than human or direct livestock power, as well as industrialized regions transitioning to a more sustainable future. And as a bonus, all the wonderful fauna in Africa can help: think of all the electricity that can be made from elephant dung and other large animals. I focus on Africa for this, but the ideas can be implemented anywhere, from Africa, to Central America, to developed regions. San Diego, CA already has biogas electrical generation supplementing other municipal electricity sources, and is one of the largest users of desalinated water. Future designs for electricity could incorporate both. Central American, or Carribean nations with coastlines could benefit from this also. But Africa has the greatest potential gain, both in the short term, and in the long run. It is a sustainable energy source for now, and the future.
Other sources: http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/24176 , http://emispec.ca/en/internal-combustion-engine-powered-by-biogas.php , http://askville.amazon.com/combustion-byproducts-methane-natural-gas-Comparasons-ethanol-pump-help/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=2747357 , http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/drinkseawater.html , http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544206003033 , http://www.biocycle.net/2012/12/biogas-production-and-potential-from-u-s-wastewater-treatment/ , http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/17591/InTech-Biomass_waste_as_a_renewable_source_of_biogas_production_experiments.pdf

Role Models in Marriage

Scalia: “Mr. Cooper, let me — let me give you one — one concrete thing. I don’t know why you don’t mention some concrete things. If you redefine marriage to include same-sex couples, you must — you must permit adoption by same-sex couples, and there’s — there’s considerable disagreement among — among sociologists as to what the consequences of raising a child in a — in a single-sex family, whether that is harmful to the child or not. Some States do not — do not permit adoption by same-sex couples for that reason.”

A quote from Justice Scalia regarding the current hearings before the U.S. Supreme Court. He was referring to role models in both a gender, and societal, framework, and I would like to put my two cents in. Especially regarding the idea of harmful.

I originally was going to present a thoughtful argument with sociological studies, raw data, and a personal interpretation of that data. Instead, I will simply make anecdotal arguments, as I believe they are more powerful, and illustrative. If you want raw data, there’s always Google.

Stating that there is “considerable disagreement” among sociologists about same-sex marriage is incomplete in its scope, and misleading in its wording, especially coming from someone regarded as an authority in argumentation. Considerable is such a vague word. How about a more legal one, such as Preponderance of Evidence? the greater many social psychologists, sociologists, psychologists, and now he general population, understand it isn’t about the gender, it is about the people within that relationship. It is as if Justice Scalia has forgotten all of the domestic violence, rape, incest, and other crimes committed within that institution he is arguing is less harmful to children. There are plenty of examples of terrible Role Models within the traditional institution of marriage. I would argue that being raised by two people who belong to a class that have been able to overcome centuries of oppression, humiliation, and legal persecution, sometimes while other “sinful” practices are left legal, like bestiality, to name one, would be an outstanding set of Role Models. When compared to a traditional set of that may scream about a falsely perceived “war” on their religion, among many other beliefs not supported by evidence, and a tradition of oppression cloaked in tolerance, I argue that same-sex marriage has the potential to be even more nurturing and compassionate than what Justice Scalia is arguing for.

The Honorable Justice uses the lower courts’ rulings in a state basis to distance himself from the argument, but even using it places his position on the same side. Using vague, opinionated terms like “considerable disagreement” is comparable to saying “there’s considerable disagreement amongst biblical scholars as to the proper interpretation of the Bible”. Of course there is! That is why we have a Supreme Court! While unfortunate that it is not a court of Science and Logic, it is a Court on the interpretation of Law, in fact, if memory serves me correctly, it is The Supreme Court in this country on such matters. It isn’t just hearing arguments, but evaluating evidence in a logically consistent manner. Statements made such as Justice Scalia’s illustrate, on the face of it, a lack of comprehensive evidence, and an opinion based on such a lack.

Arguments about Role Models for children do not even touch upon the definition of a “class of peoples”, such as race, but also in religious beliefs. Religion is not only merely behavioral, it is a choice that can be changed throughout a person’s life, and every single choice is protected as a “class of people”. Homosexuality is not a choice, it is statement of being. Even if it was a choice, it is one of thought processes, behavior, and is not as changeable as religion, but it does involve thought processes that determine behavior, and should be afforded the same minimum protections as religious beliefs. Given the amount of death, dishonor, and harm perpetrated by religion (ahem, altar boys), Allowing people to have equal protection for believing they have the same rights as any other citizen to have their personal beliefs about their own sexuality and love, while still maintaining protections levied against any other loving couples, isn’t a choice, it is an Inalienable Right. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, guaranteed by that wonderful document The U.S. Constitution.

I challenge any sociologist, social psychologist, or legal authority to find a preponderance of evidence that would state the alternative to be less harmful. By that alternative I mean having a gay parent that is forced into a relationship that suppresses their true feelings, breeds resentment for the establishment, and has feelings derived from those that are projected onto their children, and say definitively that such an institution is better than allowing a more open and natural expression of their feelings. And also, present such ann argument without resorting to the necessity of counseling, as counseling is a great tool for helping all parents, not just heterosexual ones. There is a preponderance of historical evidence that shows traditional marriage has many pitfalls also, many of which are alleviated by community help, professional counseling, and nurturing unconditional love. All of those criteria are necessary regardless of the sexual orientation of the parents. I mean no disrespect to Justice Scalia, and my next statement is meant to be more generally applicable: Statements about the harm of same-sex marriage are ignorant, support an agenda that oppresses freedom, is in violation of the principles of this country, and if they violate ANY community standards, then it is those community standards that must change, it is known in the modern world as Progress.

Bullet Control, not Gun Control

Bullet control. It is a term used by some to describe good marksmanship, and a rallying cry for responsible gun ownership and use. I do not disagree, I do, however, believe it has not gone far enough. A gun without bullets is pretty much just a club. It isn’t intelligent, responsible, “good guys” with guns that we need to worry about, it is the the others, the irresponsible, the uninformed, and the overly scared and overly funded gun “nuts” that are worrisome. Which brings me to the crux of what I am saying: Keep the large stockpiling of ammunition at Gun Clubs and Shooting Ranges. Make them get licensed, and register with, at the very least, local authorities, and preferably, a national registry. Limit the amount of new ammo purchasable by individual citizens. There are holes in this, for sure, but there is no foolproof plan, and we have a guaranteed right to keep and bear arms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. However, we have no guaranteed right to a personal arsenal large enough, and supplied enough, to massacre dozens, or worse, hundreds of people. A well armed civilian militia is NOT a lone gunman with body armor holed up in a cabin with a personal arsenal. If our civil system, or if we are militarily invaded, our regulations of civilized life will be null and void, and ammunition stockpiles would be as close as a local gun range.

So, here are details of my idea, in a generalized manner. Limit personal ammunition, is first and foremost. There are several ways to do this, and Colorado has started (link here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/colorado-senate-gives-final-ok-to-gun-bills-including-magazine-limits-and-background-checks/2013/03/11/01ac55dc-8aac-11e2-a88e-461ffa2e34e4_story.html ) and I like the idea. Limit large capacity magazines, and to slightly address the other part of this, expanded background checks. I will come back to the expanded background checks. Limiting the amount of ammunition available for personal purchase has a few logistical snags, not the least of which is keeping track of who has bought what, and how often. However, just as the weapons themselves are registered, a centralized database of ammunition purchases, and a “soft” limit on how often (I will come back to this) individual citizens can purchase ammunition will encompass most of private  citizens, and nearly 100% of responsible gun owners. I know of very few responsible gun owners that would need more than 2-5 clips, magazines, or the equivalent amount of ammo, and/or the materials needed for reloading that equivalent amount. There are a small number of, mostly high profile (read Nugent) gun owners who would disagree, but they are the minority, and, if I may say, possibly borderline sane. (Ted, I like your hunting show and your music, but you are the full version of fan, you are a fanatic…) While limiting ammunition in this way will present some issues, most can be controlled by manner of implementation, proper time of that implementation, and adoption of the commercial opportunities the regulations will present.

First, limiting personal ammunition will garner some pushback, which is to be expected. Some will be in the form of lobbying, but most will really be a purchasing rush by individual citizens. Businesses will not need to make a rush, as the regulations would preclude that. This is to be expected, and implementing the national registry BEFORE the regulations (i.e. upon passing, or even prior, a national database will have been setup and the bugs worked out) will allow for tracking of individual stockpiles. We should not be concerned with people who have 50 guns, but only 10 bullets per gun, but 1 person with an assault rifle, and 1000 rounds is possibly a threat, and by the nature of their stockpiling, possibly a mild sociopath. either way, registering the ammo type, and amount, and being able to correlate with registered firearms, will be the first major step. Claiming your weapons, and your responsibility, should not be an issue with educated, responsible gun owners. While I do not know for certain, I am sure that any massive purchase of ammunition is already somewhat tracked, but once purchased it is no longer regulated, and tracked or correlated. This should be changed, and explicit when purchased. Any person that has that much ammunition and weapons should be registered, I would, and I am sure many others would, like to know if I and my children are living next to a small arsenal that could be turned against us at anytime, with devastating effect. And, conversely, any person that is responsible, registered, and known in the community, I would want to know, as they would be a valuable asset to any neighborhood watch program. With expanded background checks, both for violent charges, mental health history, and other violations of law, as well as historical violence, we can ensure responsible gun owners can continue exercising their Constitutional rights, and those who present the most clear and present danger are prohibited from taking as many people with them as they can.

Secondly, by allowing Gun Clubs and shooting ranges the ability to buy wholesale ammunition, as well as other regulated weapons to be available for rent, a whole new commercial opportunity, and still regulating while also educating, will be offered. Rather than expound on this in a linear, logical manner, I will attempt to present a picture not unlike an advertisement. Imagine for a moment, if you will, a family of gun enthusiasts who are also responsible gun owners. They wish to enjoy their passion, which they are constitutionally entitled to. So they do what any responsible family would do, they go to their local gun range. Nothing new there, it would be the standard way to do such things. No changes, still what people would do. The change? They do not bring ammo with them, they purchase it at the gun range, much like golf balls at a driving range. Also, for those who are so inclined, and have taken courses in safety, as well as proper use, can rent weapons that would otherwise be unavailable to everyday citizens. You can’t buy a Barrett .50 cal, but you can rent one for a day, and with proper construction and preparation of the range, you can fire one, and enjoy a rare thrill for anyone not involved with military or law enforcement. You want to fire a grenade launcher? Come on down to Guns-R-Us and fire off a few! Just purchase our complete package of safety class, ammunition, and you can make use of the Grenade and Rocket range. You wouldn’t necessarily need to even pack your own weapon around, but education and practice with your own weapon would be the main reason for going in my mind, but commercial possibilities abound. Competitive shooting, recreational shooting, and educational practice are all regulated, contained, and monitored. Also, with all the weaponry, private security has a whole new market with which to provide a needed, and valuable service. While there will always be a fringe amount of people that facetiously take advantage of the system, this layout limits that, and also allows for massive tracking, and easier pinpointing, of those likely to, or already engaged in such activity. Increased gun education, safety, commercial opportunity, and access to safe areas for enjoyment of these things, are all benefits to this idea, while there are no real practical detriments. No Constitutional rights infringed, general public safety is increased, and law enforcement would have a more effective and comprehensive tool when dealing with armed citizens, and their mental makeup, and personal arsenal. While it would not be perfect, after time, and enough ammo has gone past its shelf life, the regulations would be effective, and unintrusive. And an increase of commercial Gun Ranges would be likely, which would need significantly greater regulation, but that SHOULD be so. Any large depot of weapons and ammunition should be registered publicly. The general public has a right to know whether it is guns, ammo, nuclear missiles  napalm, or any other weaponry that has a potential for causing massive public harm. Individual rights, as well as the public interests are maintained with this plan.

Thirdly, background checks, as well as violent crimes, especially domestic violence or a history of using weapons while committing crimes, should be a deterrent to owning your own. I do not believe that it should always preclude someone from going to a gun range. I believe in second chances, and given enough time, education, and some other factors, i believe that gun ownership could be reinstated. That is my opinion, but my reasoning is thus: if someone commits a violent crime with a weapon when young, but after 20 years, they have been through  gun education, have no other offenses, violent or otherwise, and have a clean record and possibly even required recommendations from certain people involved in commercial gun use, they may be able to be granted provisional, and leading to full reinstatement of, their gun rights. They may be in a minority, but if they can do all those things, they may have done enough to show they are not a danger to society at large, and with the regulations I present, any lapse of such, by a singular individual, or small group thereof, would be limited in the damage they can do.

My ideas are not perfect, no attempt to regulate the behavior of people is. However, it presents, at least to me, the best balance of regulation in the name of public safety, while still allowing individual rights to continue with the least amount of infringement, and providing an expanded commercial sector that will only continue to grow. As I said in the beginning, a gun without bullets is just a club, and with this type of regulation, it would also be a Club. I would want to become a member, and i would still be unlikely to actually own a firearm, but I can tell you what, I would be one hell of a good shot. And judicious marksmanship, along with proper regulation, my friends, is bullet control, not gun control.

Sanitation for the Developing World

I have thought of the problems you often see in developing countries that tend to be extremely repulsive to western societies, and for good reason: poor sanitation. Human waste problems are rampant in developing nations. I always think of the movie Slumdog Millionaire and the outhouse scene. Far too many people live in this barely-worth-the-name sanitation solution. i have had some ideas, but the best variation on the theme i have seen yet is from Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) Unilever, and Clean Team Ghana. (article here: http://skollworldforum.org/2013/02/23/building-a-scalable-business-in-ghana-because-every-family-deserves-a-toilet/ ) The model this goes upon may seem archaic to people used to living with the modern equivalent of the Roman Aqueduct system; we tend to think of it like an outhouse, or a portable potty. But please, stop for a moment, there are advantages to this system, and they are many.

First: The cartridge system keeps the traditional stink to a minimum. They are basically sealed until the flush happens. This is a HUGE improvement over standard dug outhouses, and less harmful than the chemical fragrances used by portable toilets at outdoor concerts and such. it also allows for easier pickup, it is basically a switch-and-presto system. no muss, no fuss. The collection would be cheap, and there is benefits to the collection company(ies) that would perform the service to help keep costs low, or nonexistent. Which brings me to…

Second: the local storage solution can be  used as a local business model. Currently, this model with WSUP  is taking the collected waste to a municipal treatment site. This requires constant maintenance, governmental personnel, and is a drain on taxes and the working poor. If these smaller, localized collection drop-off locations can be planned correctly, there are several benefits to be realized. One benefit is the fertilizer from the fermentation and decay by bacterial means of the waste. In developing countries, this is a multiplicity of benefits. The reduction of public defecation and urination cleans up disease carrying waste, and the fertilizer is a concentrated form that can either be bought and distributed by the government as a free benefit for using the system, or it can be sold by the collection companies as a means to offset the cost of collection, either way it benefits the agricultural societies that tend to be the ones with the greatest sanitation problems, and it provides a lowering of costs for the working poor, and for those who have no money, while also providing an increased job market, and thereby an increased economic flow within a localized geographic area. Secondly, the gases that are released by the breakdown process are collectible, and saleable. Methane is the most  productive of these gases, as a cooking gas, and possibly heating as well. But the Carbon Dioxide, and Hydrogen Sulfide gases have industrial uses, and would create a localized supply for, what would be at least in the beginning, a small industrial complex. the sale of these gases would also offset the cost of collection. For developing countries, or at least areas, foreign aid, investment, or just local government investment, would be able to provide free sanitation to the most remote, and poor, constituents of their population. The poorest and most remote of the population brings me to the third benefit, one not realized by the capitalist side, but one for the governments, and the population itself.

Thirdly: By concentrating collections into smaller, economically feasible collection points, another benefit is created; Health and pollutant monitoring. If 2 or 3 villages have their waste collected into a local collection facility, one that breaks it down into fertilizer and gases, it will naturally concentrate an important means of monitoring what is going into the people in the even of a health crisis: their very own waste. For the very rural, very poor parts of the world, this is a very important piece. for the developing world, it provides local clustering for outbreak scenarios that is incredibly easy to monitor. Sampling small nodules of waste can identify sources of disease and pollution quickly, and accurately. This is important in countries where developing industries have the potential to do great, and irreparable harm. Also, for outbreaks of diseases that occur in the tropics, and other places, where on person coming from a trip to the country before hopping on a plane, can infect the world, this is a major benefit to the world that is worth monitoring. Small, accurately labeled samples, can be taken for governmental or other health agency collection and monitoring. The last benefit on my list is a bit more intangible too those used to the aqueduct system.

Fourth: The lack of centralized municipal plumbing and treatment facilities. This does several things; one, it either massively limits, or completely eliminates, public burden of sanitation. This is a striking contrast to the western world where the sewer piping, waste treatment facilities, and personnel are all publicly paid for. It also eliminates another public burden: digging and laying those large pipelines. Not having to massively engineer slopes, flow, and also eliminating the need for electrical pumps, never creates a public cost, while still providing jobs for the populace, but in a more scalable, and sustainable way. It creates businesses, and careers, not just 1-time work that mostly benefits large, foreign companies. Another subsidiary eddy in this economic flow is the fuel the collection vehicles would use: since most vehicles that would do this would be diesel powered, biodiesel can be used instead, thereby creating a demand, and supply, for high-yield, low value crops. Small rural farmers can not only farm for subsistence, many root vegetables that are not edible, or are less nutritionally dense for people, can be farmed more easily, and sold for creating biodiesel. This gives the farmers a constant market, allows for betterment of living conditions in areas that may not grow all food crops well, and provides another local industry by which local governments can sustainably tax.

While large foreign companies can, and likely will, supply the raw things like the vehicles, and many of the farm tools and implements, not to mention the huge market for designing and developing the smaller, more modular collection-site facilities, it provides local people with a sustainable base industry on which many others can build, as well as creating an atmosphere that allows foreign aid and investment to flourish. Immediate benefits to the education, industry, and health of local people will not only raise the standard of living, but provide the local governments with a strong base of public support, and a legacy of humanitarian industry that could serve to model the rest of the world. Not just Africa, also India, Island nations, and South and Central America can all benefit from this business model. (Latin America has a humanitarian streak that continues, and would lend itself to this model well, link here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/19/no-alternative-latin-america-has-a-few ) Let us hope, for all the wonderful poor, but hard-working and independent people of the world, that this will be adopted, and invested in, by the rich nations of the world. it is an investment in a future market and economy, it is an investment in independent business, and lastly, it is an investment in the welfare of people, and the world. there is NO long-term downside to this. There is an inherent flexibility to new technology, a much easier method of deployment of such technology, and a lower cost of maintenance, and a lowered cost and impact of any disaster. The modularity, local and global commercial opportunities with their associated tax revenue, and the multi-fold  health benefits to almost half of the world’s population makes this a model the world, and western industry, cannot afford to lose. This is how the world will continue to improve, this is one step of many, but it is a huge one.

Please, titans of industry, Giants of philanthropy, angel investors, and officials of government, hear this plea: Implement this program, everywhere you can, as much as possible, challenge our existing commercial industries to rise, and meet this unanswered demand. the children who die every day from something simple like diarrhea need it, the farmers who have to continually deforest land because their crops take too much nutrition out of the soil need it, the impoverished people in countries that have all the good land, but none of the needed help need it, and most of all, we that live in the developed world need this. We need to believe in the Soul of industry again, like when the motor car changed transportation, when refrigeration staved off food poisoning, and we eradicated smallpox. We have lost the Soul of industry, and we need it back. Let’s start here, shall we?

 

 

A Whorish Man, an Honorable Stripper

It seems almost cliche’ anymore, you hear it everywhere, but especially women, call each other a whore. I have read some other blogs, and articles on it, from ordinary and average, to outright feminist. It seems to have lost its power, and gained some panache’. What the feminists used to deride in men, they now wear like a badge. It was once only used to describe a prostitute, a woman who sold her sex for money, and money alone. No hellos, no goodbyes, no how-do-you-dos. You got what you paid for, and then you left, no babies, no relationship, you just got done and left with no headaches, though in the days before modern contagious disease medicine, you might have something else start to ache. The world’s oldest profession, with old temples in nearly every major society dedicated to this gentle art. Some may even call traditional marriage forced prostitution, but I do not. I have a personal take on it, the prostitution, not marriage. A story to tell, from personal experience. So yes, I have paid for it before, in a most egregious, and beautiful way.

I was 19, and working as a construction laborer, and I had  friend working as a stripper. I never really had a stigma I attached to strippers; i grew up in a state where there is no alcohol allowed in strip clubs, and many cities had no-touch clauses, and I also had a few friends who were employed, most of which I had not slept with. I also tend to not make assumptions about such things, I have found that most things in this life are not as they seem. One thing I found to be a good stereotype: Strippers are hot. Do not misconstrue me, I have always had a soft spot for women, especially attractive ones, at least ones I found attractive, and I feel safe in my assumption that I am not alone in that respect. Quite honestly, strippers, and other beautiful women, have made a good living taking advantage of that, and performing beautifully. This particular one, well, at the time, she broke nearly all my rules, and I loved it.

She was long, lean and lithe. Beautiful long hair, it was blondish, but the highlighted nature gave away a darker color, and perhaps side of her, underneath. Her all white, lacy lingerie glowed in the dark club, highlighted by the occasional black light. You must understand, this was no high brow gentleman’s club, it was slightly seedy, a little dirty, and small. The DJ booth was elevated so he could watch the girls and receive signals. I don’t know if you have even heard a 2-minute version of a 5-minute pop song, but you could tell when a VIP dance, wasn’t going well. But, in the dark and dusty place, she glowed I was amazed when she came right to my couch, but then a friend of mine came by, told me it was her second night, and to be nice to her. It was an unnecessary request. I have always enjoyed conversation, and I suppose I stood out in a strip club.  I bought a dance, and then started talking, and it wasn’t long before she sought out a more lucrative customer. I ended up buying a dance from another girl, and again, talking doesn’t pay their minimum, so I was left by myself. Then the real experience started. At this point I saw her giving  a rather large and athletic-looking man a dance, but she looked straight up at me, and smiled, a little smile, but the kind that grabs you. She quickly finished, and came back over to me, and I spent yet another $20. During the dance, she mentioned that she didn’t think i would come back, but was glad I did, and I answered her with a single question, “I wonder why that is”  in a tone I was unused to. She gave no verbal answer, but instead escorted me directly to the VIP section, which was really just a more secluded place in which the girls could charge, and do, more. I didn’t get charged. This is not a porn story, nor do I mean to over-glorify a banal strip club encounter. I had been to this particular club a few times, usually to visit an old friend, and make new ones. But this experience was different, and it was intangible (so to speak) but palpable. I had never before felt so genuinely wanted by someone, not in lust, not anything like I had experienced before, and I was very much LIKING it. I also want to make something clear, i do not dance, and very little dancing went on in the “VIP” area. Yet, there was no intercourse, a lot of foreplay, but no kissing, a very pure type of sexuality. That is when she did it, she propositioned me, just a suggestion, a very simple one, “Do you want to go to the hot tub lace down the street when i get off shift?” I answered an emphatic “yes!” without knowing the details, and I would have likely agreed to severing some sort of limb right at that moment, it was a brilliant stroke on her part. “Bring at least $200, and I am off in 2 hours” was her next response, and as I was working steady, and had the money, agreed, we talked about where to meet, and I left to the ATM lickety-split.

Then reality hit when we met outside of the club. She was driving a beat-up old car, filled with what looked like most of her belongings, and it wasn’t in the best of condition. She seemed a bit embarrassed, as if she were lessened by this version of reality. To ease the tension, I asked her about it, and she told me she wanted to move to California to be an actress, and she was dancing to save that money. Having always admired an industrious woman, I gave her an honest compliment, I only give honest ones, and asked where this hot tub place was, as i was uninitiated in this realm of interpersonal relations. We left, and i followed her to the local “soak-n-poke”, her terminology, not mine. now, Grew up in this area, and I happened to be known by the clerk in the soak-n-poke (heretofore known as S-n-P) which made her signing as a Miss Smith, and me using my real name, a bit awkward, and she was a bit verbal about it. the other details are less important, other than my old school buddy gave us an extra hour, complimentary, as the place was deserted except for us. It was, however, a singular experience for me. I was not a virgin, but I was not very experienced either. She seemed almost as unsure of what was happening too, but one thing I knew, we WANTED one another, the conversations, the smiles, the laughs, it was a true desire, not just physically, but in a deeper, more honest sense. I am not saying we then got married or anything, in fact, I only saw her once after that that I am certain of. i like to think that she made it to California, and became a successful actress or other type of artist, as she was hoping, and saving up for. At the end of our forbidden tryst, i went to open my wallet, and give her the money promised, and she actually declined it. That was a major ego boost to me, but i had been raised to honor my word, and i insisted at this time, saying, “consider it money to help with your California trip, if that is more appropriate” and handed her the money. It was a bittersweet, if honorable, moment. As we left and parted ways, she asked if she could come to my place, I lived with my parents and was embarrassed of such, so I declined. Yes, I was foolish, but an honest fool. I saw her once again, some time later, but again, with some terrible karmic timing, I had just started a relationship with another woman, and i am not the type to cheat, had I known then, what I know now about the girl I was starting a relationship with, it would have been different, but at the time, I had committed myself to her, and again, I foolishly declined. I do not know precisely the events, but I wish that girl well, she would be a grown woman now, and I am sure such a genuinely amazing person has done well in her life. Which brings me back to the beginning of my story.

A whore she might be called by some, prostitute by others, and some may even call her a vision. She affected the rest of my life. The money was a corollary to an experience that set a bar for other women in my life. I have since met women who spout words of love,  yet never gave me a feeling of pure desire like that one beauty. I have changed a few details, and left out others, mostly because if she is out there, she will know which ones. I have felt other women, and even some men, that have had a similar feeling of desire, but she was first. In some ways she took a form of my virginity, and I paid for it. yet prostitutes are often derided, and many with good reason, most without. Some provide a service to older men who have lost a spark in their marriage, they haven’t lost the love in their lives, just the spice of life. Some do for a fee what wives wont, or husbands can’t, or just to provide a little bit of food or gas or other needed supplies, and it is quick, tax-free cash. For me, I will always remember the woman who gave me something special, she changed the course of my life, not so much externally, but my inner vision of myself. I still do not have a stigma attached to such things, at least not a conventional one. i cannot say i would want  her today, but I know one thing, I still feel that somehow, I did something wrong by handing her that money. It was both too much, and not enough to place a value on what it was. Perhaps for her it was nothing, for me, it changed everything. Whatever the societal pressures and views, perhaps I was lucky that I had such an experience, for what it was. Some say it should be legalized and taxed, some say it shouldn’t. I am not, for the simple reason that what I did was not about the money, and never will be. I tend to use the term “whore” to refer to a woman who sells her soul, or the lack thereof, not her body.

I do not mean to glorify what is usually a soulless endeavor. For me it was great, and I hope also for her. I am a feminist, but I understand the sense of power, and freedom such an act can give. I also understand very personally, that a single act doesn’t make a profession. Broke people can do bad things, and sometimes, those bad things, are oh-so-good.

P.S. – if she happens to somehow read this, here are some thoughts:

It was B. Dalton. of course I remember,  it was 2 hours, and you showered. I have seen some things, and whatever it brings, does that mean you can still fit in them?  I am not longing, nor am I declining, I would love to have a conversation. it has been almost 20 years. Name calling I hope is beneath us, and I hope this little blog gives you an idea of the beauty I see in everything. I saw the beauty in you, and i like to think you saw the light that was inside me too. and last but certainly not least, for all that you gave, and for making what felt ugly, feel beautiful, THANK YOU. you couldn’t (?) have known what I went through before, but you started me out of my cocoon.