What I'm saying now:

    follow me on Twitter

    Thursday, January 23, 2014

    On Cuomo's not-really intolerant words, conservative outrage, and trolling the rubes for fun and profit.

    First, a bit of business: I'd like to thank so many of you with your incredibly kind words lately. I'm constantly blown away by the supportive things I get during my fight against ILD, or as I prefer to think of it, the scientific experiment of telling the statistics to go to hell while I continue to LIVE with AIF-ILD. One of the things you do when most of your life revolves around writing (the one thing I've always done in all my careers) involves getting into a comfort zone to write, and I don't have that luxury anymore...learning to write without that comfort zone is sort of like learning a new language...it's a long, slow battle. Some of it is pain, where just sitting at the computer for more than an hour is like being tortured, and some of it is the fact that the methotrexate, specifically, gives me a 2 day brain fog (and a one night puke party) once a week, and my disease-less specifically-gives me a transient brain fog that strikes without warning. When these strike, I can sit for fifteen minutes trying to come up with a word that corresponds to a thought...not exactly conducive to writing! But writing something, ANYTHING, does help, even if the days of banging out 6000 words of decent material in an afternoon are way behind me (I've had a few 2000 word days, though!) You people are awesome.

    More business: Since there are days that go by that I can't moderate, for the most part I've turned comments off. Most of you are not animals who go into comment zones to mark your territory. You decent types can get to me via twitter or email. 

    On Cuomo's not-really intolerant words, conservative poutrage, and trolling the rubes for fun and profit...

        
          The Right Wing noisemakers are at it again because mean old Andrew Cuomo said they needed to GTFO of New York State. But did he really? Rather than assume that most of these Wingers are idiots, I'm going to assume most of them aren't reading what Cuomo said, but what other Right Wingers have said he said. They are merely repeating words they don't understand.

         Don't think that this makes them stupid. SOME of them are probably stupid, some are uneducated, but MOST are repeating snippets of phrases that were just fed to them by people (who are in a range from stupid to evil, some comprising both)without any context, background or other things needed to understand what they are hearing.

        Instead of getting the above sentence, they are getting this:
       "This makes them stupid. Stupid, uneducated people who are evil."

          "But Kat," you say, "You didn't say that!"
           I did say it, see:
    Don't think that this makes them stupid. SOME of them are probably stupid, some are uneducated, but MOST are repeating snippets of phrases that were just fed to them by people (who are in a range from stupid to evil, some comprising both)without any context, background or other things needed to understand what they are hearing.

         The Right Wing noisemakers are cutting and pasting Cuomo's words to create a false narrative based on real reality....to that end, here are Cuomo's words:
    "I think what you're seeing is, you have a schism within the Republican Party. The Republican Party is searching for an identity. They're searching to define their soul. That's what's going on. Is the Republican Party in this state a moderate party or is it an extreme conservative party? That's what they're trying to figure out. And it's very interesting because it's a mirror of what is going on in Washington, right?
     "The gridlock in Washington is less about Democrats and Republicans. It's more about extreme Republicans versus moderate Republicans. And the moderate Republicans in Washington can't figure out how to deal with the extreme Republicans. And the moderate Republicans are afraid of the extreme conservative Republicans in Washington, in my opinion.
     "You're seeing that play out in New York. There's SAFE-ACT. The Republican Party candidates are running against the SAFE-ACT. It was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate. Their problem is not me and the Democrats, their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are "right to life," "pro assault weapon" "anti-gay"? Is that who they are? Because if that's who they are, and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York because that's not who New Yorkers are. If they're moderate Republicans, like in the Senate right now, who control the Senate -- moderate Republicans have a place in this state."
    Let's play Reading for Context. Since your kids and younger family members are going to be socked with Common Core, a little practice will help. Here's your practice questions, the answers follow:

    Question Number One:
    What is Cuomo talking about in the above quote?
    a. A conflict he sees going on in the Republican Party
    b. Who is allowed to live in New York
    c. His plans for the Republicans who live in New York
    d. Gridlock in Pennsylvania's High Court

    Question Number Two:
    How many different political factions does Cuomo mention in the quote, who are they:
    a. Two (Republicans and Democrats)
    b. Two (Extremist Democrats and Moderate Democrats)
    c. Three (Democrats, moderate Republicans and Extreme Conservative Republicans)
    d. Seven  (Extremist Democrats, Moderate Democrats, Moderate Republicans, Extreme Conservative Republicans, Extreme Conservatives, Lizard People and Greens)

    Question Number Three:
    Which of the following are given as things the Extreme Conservatives 'are':
    a. Right to Life
    b. Pro-assault Weapon
    c. Anti-Gay
    d. All of the above.

    Question Number Four:
    Which of the following does Cuomo say about Extreme Conservatives:
    a. They need to get out of New York
    b. They are not welcome in New York
    c. They do not represent the views of New York Republicans
    d. They control the Senate in New York

    Question Number Five:
    Does Cuomo tell Conservatives to get out of the state:
    a. No, he says that they have 'no place' in the state. He probably says this because any idiot with google can look up the views of the Republican Party of New York and see that it includes phrases like "our Party is a celebration of diversity"
    b. No, he says that, unlike the Moderate Republicans who control New York's State Senate, conservative republicans are 'not who New Yorkers are.' He probably says this knowing polls show that New Yorkers (and this includes upstate) are (statistically) not Anti-gay AND Pro-Assault Weapons AND Right-To-Life. Many New Yorkers are two of the three, but not three of the three. In addition, some people will argue (we call these people CORRECT) that you cannot be pro-assault weapons AND Right-to-life. You can be pro-assault weapon and anti-abortion, but the Right to Life movement isn't just anti-abortion. Right to Life is associated with a collection of views on Abortion, Euthanasia, Violence, and War. Many Right to Life proponents, especially in New York, are Catholic, and there is a lot of evidence that being Pro-Assault Weapons is not a view considered compatible with Catholicism's view of a Right to Life.
    c. No. Even that Rag the New York Post uses the phrase 'conservatives who oppose abortion and gay rights and favor traditional gun ownership' to describe Cuomo's comments, because you need to be dumb or manipulative to read the statement as ALL Conservatives instead of Conservatives who are Anti-gay AND Pro-Assault Weapons AND Right-To-Life. Their wording is dumb (they are The Post) but they at least get the Venn Diagram right.
    d. All of the above
    e. Yes

    Question Number Six:
    Draw a Venn Diagram showing the types of conservatives Cuomo was discussing as having 'no place' in New York:


    Answers: 1:a, 2:c, 3:d, 4.c, 5 d. 6:

    Lest you think I'm joking about how some conservatives have rephrased Cuomo's completely reasonable statement, let's see how conservatives have rephrased Cuomo's completely reasonable statement:

    Cuomo: "extreme conservatives who are "right to life," "pro assault weapon" "anti-gay"
    New York Post:  "conservatives who oppose abortion and gay rights and favor traditional gun ownership"
     (at least that one is close!)
    Ed Cox: "New York's good conservatives and Catholics"
    And several places I refuse to link to who printed Cuomo's quote as  ""extreme conservatives who are "right to life," "pro assault weapon" [or] "anti-gay"" (their or, not mine)

    Andrew Cuomo is a Republican who calls himself a democrat. His dreck about job-creators comes straight out of Rand Paul's bedside gym socks. Republicans (who will NEVER win if they are in the center of that Venn Diagram) would do well to listen to him.



    Wednesday, November 13, 2013

    Peppermint Pattie cake

    This is, essentially, just a Betty Crocker recipe with additions, but it tastes amazing, so here it is presented with all my notes on it:

    2 1/2 cups All-purpose Flour (I use King Arthur, because bleached flour skeeves me out)
    1 2/3 cup sugar
    3/4 cup room temperture salted butter (don't bother with margarine)
    2/3 cup the darkest baking cocoa you can get (I like Hershey's Special Dark)
    2 tbsp espresso powder (or replace the water in the recipe with espresso)
    1 tsp peppermint extract (I use a high quality organic emulsion, because I am a snob)
    1/8 tsp pure peppermint oil (not 'flavored oil')
    1 1/4 cups water
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp vanilla (the best you have)
    1/4 tsp baking powder (aluminum free if you have it)
    2 eggs

    Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 2 9-inch round pans. Beat all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer on low for a minute, scrape, then beat on high for 3 minutes. Pour into pans, bake 35 minutes. Cool. Place a layer of peppermint buttercream frosting in the middle (add 3 drops of peppermint oil and 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract into a homemade vanilla buttercream (butter, 10X sugar, milk, vanilla) and frost with a cocoa or chocolate buttercream frosting that you've added 2tsp of espresso powder, 3 drops of peppermint oil, and 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract to.)
    Because this cake and the frosting are full of butter, serve them at room temperature. You can store it in the fridge overnight (and, in fact, I think it tastes better this way) but make sure it's allowed to come to room temperature before serving.

    Thursday, August 29, 2013

    A 10-point starter plan for Buffalo.

    Presented without comment, and the understanding that most of these things cannot exist without the other. Many of these things have long, complicated explanations. I don't intend to explain them right now.:

    10. Remove all residency requirements for non-elected positions in the city.

    9. 1% commuter Tax. 5% if you hold a city-funded job. As a commuter tax, this does not apply to people who live within the city itself. Most of the people facing the 5% tax would currently be under the residency requirements eliminated in #10.

    8. 50% of the above goes to education.

    7. 25% of the above goes to police/fire

    6. The remainder of the above goes to transit, parks, roads and all the other things people in the suburbs currently use without paying their share of taxes on. Yes, get over yourselves, suburbia.

    5. Move all of ECC into the city itself. Not all onto the abysmal city campus, either.

    4. See above, only UB. (Unlike people running for mayor, I know this and the above are not under the city's control)

    3. Waive all fees for food trucks that will spend 15% of their time in underserved areas, and offer at least one healthy $5 meal. NO, SERIOUSLY.

    2. Punish businesses who refuse to remove snow, have too long grass, etc., but only punish homeowners who are repeat offenders. [Seriously, let me tell you about this little old lady down the block, and a neighbor who made her life hell until everyone stepped in.]

    1. More farmer's markets, and no fees for produce trucks.


    Wednesday, January 2, 2013

    To reiterate: Keep the wealth where it is made.

    I've got the double barrel of an extreme pain level and spotty 'net right now, so I will try to keep this short and sweet:

    After the fiscal cliff deal was passed in the house, GOP leadership stopped Hurricane Sandy relief from coming to the floor...as one of the democrats said in the house during the outrage that followed, this would not have happened if it was a red state...I have tried to not believe this, but this seems to be absolutely true...

    Which is why I want to reiterate a statement I made a while back:

    We need a cap on how much federal money a state can get compared to how much federal money a state puts out.

    New York and New Jersey are among many of the (mostly blue) states that fund the lifestyles of people in the South. The same states that send members to the House that oppose the so-called 'socialist' policies of 'tax and spend' liberals have been sucking on the teats of states like New York for years, while states like New York (which, by the way, is still mostly rural, with 1/5 of the land being hardwood forest) have a terribly hard time affording things like teaching our children actual science instead of creationism...which are promises we've made to our citizens.

    Bad things happen. Hurricanes happen, earthquakes happen, acid clouds happen...because of this, it would not be fair for us to completely pull the social safety net out from under states like Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and the like, but it should disgust anyone who votes for 'fiscal conservatism' that states that send people to Washington DC who want to cut taxes seem okay with taking money from people who disagree with them. Therefore we should arbitrarily draw a line. My preferred line is this: No state should receive over $1.05 in federal dollars for every $1.00 they put into federal dollars, and no state should get less than $0.95 for every $1.00 they put in...I also think that unpredictable natural disasters should not be a part of this calculation at all. If a state cannot prepare for a disaster because it's never happened before (say they've never encountered a Category 2 hurricane before, or an F3 tornado) then we can't very well expect them to build houses to withstand such things, can we? Natural disasters should not even be a part of this calculation, honestly...but I think the constant mollycoddling of these states by the donor states is why they are so nasty about sharing the money THAT THEY DIDN'T MAKE, ANYWAYS.

    If you people in the red states want to not have marriage equality, fact-based education or other things found in civilized countries, you're welcome to do so (as long as you abide by the full faith and credit clause,) but I think asking the civilized states to fund your lifestyle choices is just terribly wrong...

    Over one-hundred years of sucking at the teats of New York and her siblings has made these red states fat, lazy and stupid, and now they are just damned mean...If they feel they must stop federal dollars that are going to the people who paid into the damn fund (FOR A CHANGE!) then the last thing they should get is a shiny new Air Force Base on New York's dime, right?

    So, to reiterate, here's the petition.





    Monday, December 17, 2012

    If you murder someone, you are mentally ill, full stop.

    If you murder someone...not kill out of self-defense, or kill as part of a job (whether you think that's a legitimate job or not is unimportant) or kill accidentally...but deliberately take a life, there is something wrong in your brain. There are people, right now, who are using that fact to try to either promote or attack gun control, when the answer to gun violence will always require both mental health services and sane gun laws.

    There is a legitimate concern that when we state the above-that murdering someone is diagnostic criteria, in and of itself, for a mental illness-we are restigmatizing those facing mental illness as crazy murders. Certainly, there are people who will choose to believe that in stating this I mean that all people who are mentally ill are potential murderers, but that could not be further from the truth.

    To put this in perspective, let's take three people...we'll call them Abe, Bob and Carl. Abe, Bob and Carl are all physically ill. Abe has a norovirus, and is puking and crapping his brains out even as we speak. Bob fell down skiiing and tore muscles in his back and Carl has a terminal form of cancer and less than a month to live. NO ONE in the real world would say that since Carl has a really extreme illness, Bob and Abe aren't sick, and don't need treatment. No one would say that since Bob and Abe don't have cancer, they aren't really sick, and no one would say that since Bob did it to himself he's not sick. We all agree there is something wrong with their bodies.

    When you murder, you can murder because you can't think in an ordered manner, you can kill without understanding you're killing. This is the kind of murder where we find people not guilty because of their mental illness. You killed, but you could not understand your own actions and you can't understand a trial or a sentence. Your mental illness, in this case, is so big that it overrules everything else. You're the mental illness version of the guy with cancer, your brain is a runaway train and it may or may not be able to be stopped. We do not judge if the damage to the brain is caused by a genetic condition, by a trauma to the brain, or your drug use, or if your mom stabbed you in the brain with a carving knife...we recognize that whatever the cause, you have a severe impairment as a result of it.

    You might murder because of a mental illness that is transient. You may have the mental equivalent of poor Abe, above. Most people will get a norovirus at least once in their life and will describe it as the sickest they have ever been. I, personally, have had puke-inducing chemo pills that I would rather take than ever face a norovirus again. You could be so sick you didn't understand what you were doing at the time. You could be sick from a virus, an injury, even from a trauma caused by your own emotional reaction to stuff. You could be sick from an underlying condition that only bothers you sometime (consider the kids who get confusional migraine, or the people who kill themselves during cluster headaches.) You may or may not have known better when you murdered, that's a question for the courts, but you certainly were not capable of ordered thought when you murdered.

    You might murder because of a community or shared delusion. There are people who want to call these cultural reasons...reasons of poverty, gang violence, etc. If you have been raised to believe the only way to escape your situation is murder, you have believed the delusion of another...maybe that delusion was plausible, but it is still a delusion. If you have been taught by your mother that your only hope is joining a gang where you have to kill a person to become a 'man,' or you have been taught by your mother that your only hope is killing a person with green eyes because they are lizardmen from planet X and they will eat you, you have believed a delusion, and we treat them (medically) the same, with education (and sometimes medication.) Think about not only people 'raised with' these shared delusions, but those who kill because of a powerful leader, the people we often call (incorrectly) cult leaders. These delusions might make perfect sense at the time...your brain may, in fact, be considered 'normal,' but you're still under the effects of a mental illness...even if the organic damage behind it (if any) resides in another person's skull.

    Any of these reasons is a mental illness. They do not represent the full spectrum of mental illness in the universe. THEY DO NOT REPRESENT MOST MENTAL ILLNESSES. The vast majority of mental illnesses are nothing like this. To go back to the 'physical' illness example, most of us have vomited at some point in our lives....but most of us have not vomited up our organs. Mental illness is like puking, we're all going to face it at some point, either as a result of our own actions (ie: drinking too much), as a result of stuff we can't control (a blow to the stomach, food poisoning), or just dumb genetics...but the existence of these mental illnesses (I don't want to call them minor mental illnesses, because they are serious to those experiencing them) and the fact that they are mental illnesses doesn't change the fact that there are more severe and life-threatening forms of mental illness.

    The events in Newtown do not call for an increase in sane gun laws or better access to mental health services. Either of those things could've helped. The events call for BOTH sane gun laws AND better access to mental health services...because no one who is capable of thinking in an ordered, rational manner is going to murder someone (They could kill them accidentally, or as part of a job, and that's a valid discussion, but it's not murder.)

    If anyone, on either side of the debate brings up that OR... If they say that we can have (or that we need) sane gun laws or better access to mental health service, shout them down. We need BOTH.

    Thursday, September 13, 2012

    Up is down, Right is left, what Liberal really means.

         When the internet was fairly new, the word 'irregardless' actually appeared fairly frequently on it. If you use this word in a forum today, it's pretty unlikely that you'll get away with it. Someone, somewhere, will correct you. You'll even get corrected if you use it ironically. Using ironically incorrectly out of a sense of irony gets silence, by the way.

         I only bring this up for one reason: We can, collectively, decide that we're not going to tolerate the misuse of our language and change the dialog. It can occur in a few different ways. In the case of 'irregardless,' we mostly used shame and humor to end it. 'Irregardless' is actually a great example, because it's not a word you're going to use because they sound alike (people who 'think' in sounds, for example, might use the wrong 'your' because they are homophones, and they 'hear' their text, even if they know which is right cognitively) and it's not a word you're going to use because it has an irregular tense or second meaning (hanged vs. hung, lighted versus lit, inflammable, etc.). The only people for whom 'irregardless' makes more sense than 'regardless' are those for whom their first language allows a double negative to mean a really strong negative. In English, however, "not not doing something" means "doing something." (In other languages, not not doing something may mean REALLY not doing something...long time readers may know I think every human should experience a different language at least once, this is an example of something you might not understand without ever getting a different language experience.)

         In the grand scheme of things, the word 'Liberal' isn't the word I'd fix if I lived in a world where I could press a button and get everyone to use one word correctly. If I had that button, the word I would pick would be evolution. Seriously, that is the word I would pick. Change in relative frequency of alleles in a population over time (or equivalent definition) or GTFO. Unlike Liberal (and Conservative), the word evolution requires a bit more background to be understood, and the raging ignorance of the people who use it wrong, and the self-indulgent smugness of some who use it only mostly right means fixing that problem means changing more than a lack of knowledge. Liberal is not a word that is being used incorrectly because of stupidity, it's a word being used incorrectly with the intention of discrediting more than 50% of the English speaking world.

         In the Newspeak of the Republican right, Liberal means telling people what to believe and regulating the hell out of everything. I use the word Newspeak very intentionally here, because Newspeak includes the idea that one can kill ideas by changing the meaning of words, removing certain metaphors, etc. I believe the use of the word Liberal in a way completely contrary to the meaning of the word is an attempt to kill liberal ideas, which is why someone will look you dead in the eye, say something liberal, and say "but I am not a Liberal."
     
         The above sticker sums up the literal differences between the Liberal point of view and the Conservative point of view. The distinction between the two actually comes from the Protestant traditions of Christianity, and historically that is where the dichotomy comes from. You might not like the above sentiment, but it is accurate.

         Liberalism essentially states that as the facts come in, we have to change to deal with them. Liberalism notices that a thing is not fair or not right, and says we must change to accommodate this fact. Liberalism includes the belief that in order to have the best world we can have, we need to base our laws and other decisions on facts, not beliefs. For example, if we notice that a factory's workers are dying of black lung, Liberalism says "no factory should be killing people with black lung," it doesn't actually say you have to close the factory. If, for example, your competitor's workers are not dying of black lung, Liberalism says "you should do what your competitor is doing to prevent black lung. Again, Liberalism is facts based. Liberalism is sometimes called progressiveness, because it indicates a forward movement. As facts come in, we have to adapt to them. It is a type of evolution, but since most of you use that word wrong, it might be better to just define it as a change, based on facts. This change is as good as the facts. Sometimes the facts aren't very good, so we fail to adapt correctly. You can sum the Liberal stance this way: If something is not working, we need to try new things. It is better to fail by trying new ways than to fail by repeating things that don't work. If we treat all things as equal, the Liberal point of view errs on the side of what seems to hurt the least number of people.  

         Conservatism states that regardless of the facts, we need to keep things the same, that we need to conserve traditions because they work. For example, some conservatives in Islamic countries point out the importance of Muslim contributions in Math and Science, and point out that those contributions come from gender-unequal teaching. Since these contributions arose in situations where women got less (or no) education, they believe that reducing (or removing) the modern tendency to allow girls to be educated will conserve the tradition of Math and Science in that scenario. You can sum up the Conservative stance this way: If something is not working, we need to return to the prior way we did things to repair it. If nuclear energy is dangerous, we should go to coal, if kids are not learning in school we should return to having parents teach their kids, if divorce is happening it must be because of the new kinds of marriage, not a flaw in the old kinds. If we treat all things as equal, the Conservative point of view errs on the side of romanticizing the past. The assumption that because we didn't perceive an injustice (especially as children) that injustice in the past did not exist.

        Both sides have their flaws. Liberals (myself included) are often quick to discard things when the facts come in to prove them wrong. This means we tend to get caught up in fashions and fads. We also tend to be more interested in new facts, not old facts. Liberals who are not good at distinguishing emotional appeals from actual facts can be swayed into really stupid points of view. Although they are not the majority of anti-vaxxers, the liberal anti-vaxxers are the best example of this as far as I am concerned. These are people who believe the 'new facts' about vaccines rather than the 'old facts' without actually understanding either. Liberals tend to get screwed up the most in situations where there is no way out that doesn't hurt someone. A very recent example of this was when the movement of the Space Shuttle to CSC resulted in the felling of 400 trees in LA. Educated populace=good. Trees=good. I watched fellow liberals bitch each other out over this one. My own answer, by the way, is fell the trees and replace them with better street trees. This is because in the past 20 years, we have totally learned what makes a great street tree, and now we've got way better data on planning them. My view here is because I lived through Arborgeddon*....and so did my trees.

        So Liberal is often portrayed as meaning people who want to force changes on you that won't work, based on arcane or even fictitious things that are fuzzy or hard to understand. This isn't completely untrue, except liberalism requires facts to work, and generally believes that if you get the facts, you become invested in the change, and you want to try the new way. That may be overgenerous from the point of view of some people, but I am what is called a Libertarian Liberal, which means that I tend to err on the side of freedom. There are some situations where I go all the way to the other side of it and become an authoritarian Liberal... mostly science-based stuff. I have a big problem with people, for example, who kill their kids because they hate science (blood transfusions, anti-vaxxers, allergy ignorers [but also bubblewrap parents], anti-gay Quiverfullers who quintuple their chances of having gay sons, some crazy diet promoters, etc.) and I could probably get behind some very authoritarian ways to fight them (I generally err on the side of capitalism, for example, when we pay people to vaccinate their kids, we can save money...but that's hard for people to understand and we're never going to get a majority behind it.)

         The ideal Liberal actually doesn't dislike the old way because the old way is old. I actually think stay-at-home parenting, for example, is incredibly important. I was late to finish college, and late to start a career, because we decided, in my family, that my kid needed a stay-at-home parent. One of us worked, the other stayed home. Of course, we were both women, so most Conservatives would say it does not count. I should add that, again, facts-based beliefs are what are important, here. For example, we live in a world where stay-at-home parenting is not something most can afford on a single salary, and I see the solution to this not as 'returning women to the kitchen,' but as a collection of things, which could include everything from group parenting to a living wage. Stay at home parenting is preferable to many things, but poverty isn't preferable to non-poverty.

           In an ideal world, every time someone claims Liberalism is about regulating shit to death or forcing people to do things against their will, or forcing people to stop doing what works, people should point and laugh at (or at least pity) the deranged idiot claiming it. Likewise, every time a "conservative" advocates a return to things that did not work in the past, we should scoff at them. In the case of the meaning of the words Conservative and Liberal, we should all agree that the new meanings, which are NOT facts-based, and NOT what the words meant in the past, are just stupid.



    *Contrary to popular belief, snow in Buffalo in October, especially mid-October, is very damn rare, and when it does happen it melts before it hits the ground. I had to bring zucchini and lettuce inside during this storm. It's not that uncommon to have a little snow in the air on Halloween, but in my ten years in Buffalo, the killing frost for my garden has always happened in the end of October/beginning of November. I think most of you who think this have confused Buffalo with Syracuse, which is almost 2 weeks ahead of us in this. Most Halloweens in Syracuse (or where Phoe is from, east of Syracuse) are cold as hell. We always planned our costumes to be worn with heavy jackets.


    Thursday, September 6, 2012

    Labgrrl on politics: I'm not any of the above and my king of the world view.

    When I say I'm a liberal, it is because the liberal party, with its facts-based views, is the closest party to my beliefs. So, let me show what my king-of-the-world world would be like...the if Labgrrl was in charge view, not the 'liberal' view.

    Let me make this clear. None of these points exist in a vacuum. The requirements for most of them are dependent upon the others existing. My view, for example, that a second DWI (or a first with massive modifications to the charge) should pretty much lock you up for life requires the sane drug policy, sane legal system and sane healthcare paradigms. It doesn't work for today.

    #1. Sane Educational and Child-Rearing policies.
    We should spend the hell out of money on education. Our policy should be facts-based, and it should be multidisciplinary. In a perfect world, we don't even need the kids to do 6 hours of school, or even more, because they are saturated with facts. They get facts at home, in their games, in their entertainment. Education should be based on what works, not arbitrary grade levels. Or even age. Educational policy makes sense, and the conservatives like to say we like to need to spend money to make money. We need to send money to make money on our kids. We need to fund the hell out of it. If it takes 10% of us being teachers, then that's what we need to do. Make it competitive. Encourage parents to want to have the smartest kind on the block. Encourage situations where kids too young to be educated in schools have access to an educated stay at home parent, educated parents make educated kids. Yes, I  support a concept of professional parenthood. I think the world needs to change before we go there. People on the right who oppose this should explain why, if they so love the 1950s model of parenting and school, they are not willing to even spend 1950s era percentages of money on education. If you went to school in the 1970s, or the 1980s, there is a very strong chance your school was built as a result of post-WWII spending on schools. You probably went to school in a 20-30 year old building. Unless you went to school in a 70 year old building, from the first time those policies were funded (and in part with private funds.)
    Addendum: This goes beyond merely being pro-choice, by the way. I believe pregnancy should never be accidental. We don't have the current science to do it well, but if you GENUINELY BELIEVE that life begins at conception, you should be preventing conception that isn't intentional, and providing support to keep those who make the choice to have children to be as healthy as possible when they make that choice. Let's be honest, a lot of people who are against birth control or abortion aren't against 'killing' the 'humans' that they believe begin at conception. More than half of naturally occurring conceptions NEVER IMPLANT...people who genuinely believe a conception makes a human, even before implantation, will acknowledge that humans enjoy sex, and preventing that accidental life from ending is the goal, not stopping people from having sex.  If you oppose people having sex, don't LIE and say it is about life. Just admit you oppose people having sex. If you don't oppose people having sex, and you believe that life begins at conception, preventing ALL accidental pregnancy is a no-brainer... More, and better, forms of birth control...not less.  Since too many people is a real thing in the world, we should also support those who chose to not have children. Raising a kid to adulthood is estimated to run about $300,000 at a minimum. Maybe we should think about giving a serious tax break to non-parents. Since everyone would be invested in having everyone's kid healthy and educated, maybe we should offer a living stipend to people who voluntarily choose to become intentionally infertile. If we all knew our own health statuses and the like, it would be a big deal. This is close to me right now for two reasons: 1. If my 20 year old kid gets sick because of the autoimmune shit I have, it will devastate me. If I could've known it was there, and it turns out to be genetic, I would've not had a kid...under any circumstances. 2. I'm currently on a drug treatment that causes thalidomide-level birth defects (Pregnancy category X) and is one of the worst of the worst on that list. Fortunately, that drug usually induces miscarriage across the board, but if I somehow got pregnant the fetus would probably die, and take me out with it. I had to have a frank talk with my doctor about conception prevention...and I'm in a monogamous relationship with someone of the same gender. Maybe everyone should understand their risks like I do? Maybe we shouldn't even think about getting pregnant unless we've at least had a screening for some things?

    #2. Sane Healthcare and Work policies.
    As with education, we should spend the hell out of money on healthcare. If you have an educated populace, you will have a healthier populace, but there are things we can do (some we do not yet have the science for) that will encourage people to be healthier. There was a time when these views were universal: Access to clean water, vaccination programs, healthy lunches, research-based advice on what to eat, etc. Prevent the preventable, try to reduce the unhealthy things based on lifestyle (again, this should be science based, not 'judgement' based), encourage the things that make long life, and stop ignoring the facts. For example, if you could have 3 people work for 6 hours each, and be unlikely to die of exhaustion related disease or stress-aggravated conditions, it should be brainless to think to hire 1 person and expect them to do those 18 hours of work in 12 hours. Most science professionals are in this position, understaffed and underpaid, and doing the work of two to three people, we should see overwork as as dangerous as it is. And it is. Those are just facts.
    For example, contrary to what a lot of people preach, obesity is not a result of being lazy. My pulmonologist's clinic has a great group for people who have lung disease and want to lose weight (that can be very hard, to use me for example, I'm supposed to limit walking around, so, as you can imagine, the gym 3 days a week isn't happening) and nearly to a one, these people are working 10-12 hours a day, eating one high-calorie meal a day because it's all they have time for and the Burger King is between home and work. The successes in the program aren't the people who spend the right number of minutes at the gym or take on a fad diet. The successes in the program are the people who change their lives to bring things into the correct ratio for their bodies. If, for example, a person takes a 10% pay cut but goes down to an 8 hour day, they stop eating the one high calorie meal and break the cycle of wake up-go to work-eat-collapse from exhaustion-sleep, their blood pressure goes down, their cholesterol goes down, and if their health hasn't been wrecked, they have an overall better chance of living a long time.
    This strikes home for me because I probably would not have gotten sick the way I got sick, or as young as I did, if I had been aware that my lifestyle was killing me. I did not work 12 hours a day, but I worked more than 8 most weekdays, and an additional 4-6 every day on the weekend. I went months without a day off. I was fortunate enough to have the skills required to not do the job-to fast food-to sofa-to bed thing, but I literally could not tell when the exhaustion was from lack of sleep or when my blood started to not get enough oxygen. It took almost 4 years before I even began to see that going months without a day off was *wrong.*  We need to listen to the experts on this. We do. We need to completely change the way see a 'hard worker.' We need to work *smarter* instead of work harder. And yes, that might mean our future world has a 4 day a week workweek, or a 6 hour a day work day. I don't know. What I do know is that we can use technology and the like to reduce the number of work hours needed, and instead of having one person working 18 hours, we can have three people working six hours. Here's another thought. The reason a company will often hire one person to cramp 18 hours of work into 12 hours, instead of hiring three people for three 6-hour shifts is because of having to fund benefits for people. If we see healthcare and retirement benefits as something you get because you are born in a place that values your citizens, and separate them from the work place altogether, it becomes financially advantageous for the company to hire those three workers, who can keep on top of their health and wellness, instead of that one worker, who may well become disabled because they can't. I also think that people who can no longer work should have other opportunities other than doing nothing. More retraining, and more alternate means of doing work.


    3. Rational drug views, and harsh penalties for violating the facts-based laws.
    I manage, somehow, to piss off both sides on this one. I believe that every drug should be legal, over the counter, and taxed to hell (which MAKES US MONEY.) I believe we should have fully funded science based treatment programs. Those treatment programs will not just be for the guy who abuses cocaine. If you are 'that guy' who can't function without pot, the wake and bake dude whose life is fucked up because you spend every waking minute either stoned or trying to get stoned, then we need to treat the underlying condition that's causing that. If you've never met that guy, good for you, but those of us who've been friends with that guy know better. We need to see addiction as the problem, not what you're addicted to that's the problem. People should be allowed to experiment, preferably in a safe environment, with tested compounds, and the ability to get help if things go wrong. Yes, I do believe if you have a job that requires you to work 36 hours in a row once in a while to get out the top product, you should be able to go to the cocaine machine if that's how you want to do it. I also believe that if the thing that makes you cope with the crazy job is being able to melt into a warm pool of morphine-laced goo when you get home, that should be available. This view of mine is based on being in the real world. I know at least 20 products in your house that the designer was probably drugged when he made it. I know more health care providers in high-stress positions who are doing narcotics off the job than those who ARE NOT (some of them, who are in positions with drug tests, just drink instead.) We've rationalized this by "medicating" for many people who are only barely in need of their medication.We've got college kids on ADHD drugs because it makes them focused beyond what's normal for college kids. We are already doing this stuff, let's make it based on science instead of who holds the patent on your drug. 
    This means actual science, not fake science. So, yeah, if your drug of choice is bad for you, you don't get to claim that you want to support it because it helps another person's nausea. If you want it for escape from pain, then that's why you take it. If you take it because it feels good, that's why you take it. Don't lie about why you like it.
    ...and you don't take it while you're pregnant, because you don't get pregnant by accident in this world where I'm in charge.
    This one makes my wife furious, but I believe in this scenario you have no excuse for a second DWI, for example, and you need to face the maximum possible penalty if you do it. Getting into a vehicle, and trying to control it, while you're under the effect of a drug that stops you from being able to control it is exactly like spraying bullets into a house. Sure, you MIGHT NOT hit anyone, but we'd never say it was okay because you might be able to do it. This one, too, may require a change in the way we do things. If we're on top of our health, and driving with a critically low blood sugar, we're as out of it as the guy with a few beers in him. Maybe there are people who CAN drink and drive...or maybe the solution is something else altogether. Maybe cars are just too big to be driven around by us...I don't pretend to know. However, if the world with rational drug laws, education and healthcare were to exist, people who tricked others into doing drugs, people who decided to be stupid when they knew better, and people who intentionally risked the lives of others could not be tolerated. Which leads to...

    4. Educational and culturally based Prison reform.
    I've worked for a prison, do not tell me that prisons do not form cultures. There is a subset of crimes that are heavily influenced by a person's culture, and putting them from that culture into prison culture is like substituting one addiction for another...it doesn't work. These aren't cultures based on your race, ethnicity or religion, but gang cultures and the like. Maybe you can't get released from prison on a gang offense unless you've learned a new trade, changed your name, removed all your tattoos and swear to never contact your old associates again. I DON'T KNOW. What we do know is that "punishment" rarely works and "rehabilitation" doesn't work often enough. So we need to change what we do. I have a suspicion, however, that the second you fix the drug laws, keep people healthy (including mental health), stop 'accidental,' pregnancy, educate people and put people to work....I suspect that suddenly the number of people in prisons goes down, and this MAKES US MONEY.

     5.If you preach "American Exceptionalism," STOP DENYING IT IN THE NEXT BREATH.
      If the United States is "The Land of Opportunity" and "The Greatest Place on Earth," and if capitalism is "The Best form of Financial Governance," if you believe these things are true, then facts-based government is something we should have no problem doing. This means healthcare and childcare, sane work rules and sane drug laws. It means schools based on what works, and hospitals based on what works, and prisons based on what works. IF THE UNITED STATES IS AS GREAT AS YOU CLAIM, WE CAN HOLD IT TO HIGH STANDARDS.

    6. It should be competitive to get into the armed forces, and going to college should rely on the poverty draft and people with no other choices.
    This may be the hardest cognitive change for anyone who has made it this far to deal with reading. Let's not lie. Let's not say that there are not bulletheads in the armed forces who are too stupid to breathe. LET'S NOT LIE ABOUT SHIT ANYMORE. I know this, some of my friends and family are (or have been) their commanding officers. There are a lot of members of the armed forces who are smart, savvy, dedicated to their country, people who follow rich familial military traditions, people who believe the military is a worthwhile endeavor. There are also people who join the military because they are "big dumb jocks" who think that's all they can do, or who join because there is nothing else they can do to get out of their community. We have intentionally created this military. On dark days, when I am in a bad mood, I think we do this because we give them guns and technology. Think of it, if the only people who can operate a tank are too stupid to foment a revolution, those are TOTALLY the people who the government needs to be driving a tank, right? I've had one of these bulletheads stand not three feet from me and say "I'm just serving out the rest of my time until I can get out and" then proceed to list a slew of benefits he can actually get (as a veteran) and then a bunch of benefits he must've imagined. He believes this because of his recruiter, and that man is the last person who should be representing our country in the military. I've got another friend who constantly complains his life after the army is the same as his life before it...he was promised a lot by the poverty draft.
    If you're in high school, and you show exceptional abilities, we should recruit the hell out of you. We do this to an extent. I won't lie. I was a full-scale hippy in high school, and after I took my PSATs, the Marines contacted me once a week for the next year..even though I said very mean things to the recruiter. Phoenix, whose standardized test scores were better than mine, was recruited even harder, but that's her story, not mine. Everyone in the same 'gifted kids' classes as mine got recruited hard. NOT A ONE JOINED THE MILITARY (Well, I don't know that none did EVER, but we all planned to go to college).
    We like doing tests on our kids. If a kid shows ridiculously high spatial reasoning or problem solving, or is exceedingly strong, or is exceptionally curious or whatever, we should recruit them. The Army and the Navy should fight over the smartest kid in the High School like college recruiters over the best football player in the state.
    Our founders did not want a professional military, and we basically ignore that, so let's admit that we believe they were wrong and make a professional military that's hard to get into and has serious benefits for the people who do it. Something big...more than 'we will get you out of poverty.' Furthermore, let's change it so that you don't need to be able to march for miles in the sun to serve your country. You know that kid drinking Mountain Dew and pwning everyone in the FPS? I would like HIM to be piloting the drones. If we're going to use that technology, do it.
    Maybe we need another military force altogether for the smartest kid on the block? Maybe we need the actual Chair Force...or have the NOAA and Public health people better funded. I don't know. I want my military to have the biggest brains in the world. I want my government to take the only guy I ever met who was scary smarter than me and recruit him into military intelligence...I want my government to be giving the department of defense cancer research money to the government-sponsored lab with 6 people born here with a combined IQ above 1100 instead of the 60 people, half of whom are post-docs from other countries only here until they the credential or experience their government sent them here for. I want to have a military smart enough to worry about. Not just for us to worry about, but for other people to worry about.

    Leave the going to school forever and ever to the people who either need extreme education because their fields are so specialized they need that level of detail or who are otherwise too stupid to breathe.
    I say this as a person whose body (the meat) is killing her, and who does have a graduate degree (which I pulled a 4.0 for.) Let college be the default when you don't know what the hell you want. Throw a student at classes until they find what they can do. Leave the exceptionalism to the exceptional people and use them to our benefit.