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Changa
"the only difference between a caprice and a life-long passion is that the caprice pasts longer". -Oscar Wilde 
"the only difference between a caprice and a life-long passion is that the caprice pasts longer". -Oscar Wilde



[ add comment ] ( 154 views )   |  permalink  |  print article  |   ( 3 / 1780 )
"The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban in seeing his face in the glass" -Oscar Wilde 
"The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban in seeing his face in the glass" -Oscar Wilde



[ add comment ] ( 149 views )   |  permalink  |  print article  |   ( 3.1 / 2013 )
"Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault." -Oscar Wilde 
"Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault." -Oscar Wilde



[ add comment ] ( 161 views )   |  permalink  |  print article  |   ( 3 / 1894 )
Late into the Morning. 
In all actuality my first dearest wish was to be an astronaut. And of course this was never to be, due to the imperfection of my eyesight. Yet in this instance this obvious physical flaw was a blessing as failure's bitter fruit is best swallowed quickly. Certain flaws in my nature make such a goal so impossibly unlikely as to be unobtainable in any event.

Far better put off by physical inability than by weakness of character. And once disappointment has left its sharp pangs, success comes easily in other venues. It is only after great failure that one achieves great success, and then only from great success does one truly learn fear.

Or perhaps this paraphrase of Tricia McMillan says it best, "I've learned there are time when one must never go back, and times when you must always go back. I have not learned to tell the difference between such times."

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Milk 
When disaster strikes, we want to take care of the helpless: the very young and the very old. Babies of course need extra care, and pople wonder whether they should provide formula. Short answer: No.
In devastated areas, drinking water is difficult to find, and often suspect. Far better to avoid exposing babies to extra germs whenever we can.

human-milk-4-human-babies-after-japan

There are many gray areas in life, but raising healthy happy babies is not one of those areas. No matter how horrible a disaster, no matter how risky life may become, there is no substitute for old fashioned mama milk. Formula is damaging to baby brains, significantly lowering their expected IQ. It also lacks vital antibodies and enzymes, making them more suspect to disease.

No matter how much money companies like Nestle spend to spread falsehoods about the "benefits of formula," the cold hard fact is that cow milk supplemented with vitamins will never be as good for your baby as the food your mama-ry glands will provide.

It isn't pure instinct though, you'll need to talk to a lactation consultant and/or mamas with experience. And while breastfeeding is difficult in the first few days, it quickly becomes an integral part of your day, requiring none of the shopping, refrigerating, heating and mixing of those synthetic milk products.


[ add comment ] ( 210 views )   |  permalink  |  print article  |   ( 3 / 1811 )
circumcision 
So I jumped into a rather interesting discussion online recently, and I thought I'd share it here.


I was circumcised and it ruined my life! I blame the Jews for this. -anon1

I doubt you're Jewish, or even circumcised. I circumcised, and it's no big deal, doesn't interfere with my life at all. -anon2


I agree that my circumcision is no big deal and I don't particularly care if other people do it or not. That said, the few cases of serious infection or nerve damage made me think twice before genitally altering my own children unnecessarily.

There also the fact that circumcised men everywhere hate condom use, while uncircumcised do not, which seems to confirm the "loss of sensitivity" claim. So much for the pro-circ groups claiming it magically prevents AIDS - condoms do that for real.

And Jewish circumcision involves far less actual cutting than American circumcision, so I'd go with that first, if I was going to put in the effort. But it's like piercing your baby girl's ears - why bother?

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Financial Fast February 
So it has quickly become a custom in my household that every February we cut back our spending to bare essentials, buying only what we feel we must not do without. This is a good thing, it brings us up and helps us examine what really matters to us, financially, emotionally, and as people. The idea comes from here, and we adapted it to ourselves: 21 day fast

The most interesting thing about this fast is the reactions we get from people around us. People are outraged that we would alter our spending based on nothing but a sense that spending money might not be healthy. To spend less because you are short on cas, or have creditors hounding you, that seems reasonable. But to cut back simply to stop spending and without any other goal? It angers people, and they cannot say why. And yet, I am not out to prove my superiority, nor even to improve my bank account. I am simply living now, without purchases to justify my existence.

Now, this did not originally come about because I am such a wonderful person that has found yet another way to look better than you. No, this came about because my spouse and I were desperately in debt and sought to end our cycle of running out of money and using credit, paying off the credit but then running out of money and borrowing even more...

Once we realized how hopelessly damaging this was, we stopped. We stopped buying things we did not need, we stopped buying things we somewhat needed. We also stopped paying our creditors. We simply lived within our means for five months. Now, this meant lots of angry phone calls to my google voice number by creditors -- calls I did not answer. But once our 5 months was up, I began paying bills, one by one. By the 7th month, I had made arrangement to pay off all my debts, at interest rates of 3-8% rather than 20-30%, and minus a great deal of fees and penalties. One has to call their bluff or they will never negotiate to take little more than they are owed. Of course, in the ninth month I did get a court summons, from one of the companies I was already paying. And another company I was trying to reach sent me to collections and won't talk to me now. But the collections agent is a very nice man, and he's working to ensure I don't get further trouble over it. In fact, my credit is very close to what is was before I stopped paying, and well on its way to a good score. This process was fairly painful, but will leave less of a mark than bankruptcy.

In August of 2009, I was worth negative $41,000. That is, I was slightly more than one year's wages in debt. As of now, my debt is hovering at $29,000. By August I will have payed off another 6,000 I think, putting me well on the way to living debt-free.
Additionally, as I pay off another large debt in the next couple months, my overall payments will drop off significantly, allowing me to put more into savings. Which is really good, since my car is very nice and quite reliable but really too old to depend upon without a backup plan.

And so, we return to February again, and we take stock by limiting our spending to essentials.

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Punishment and crime 
I hear so many complaints about over-crowding of prisons. With 3-strikes laws you can get 20 years for smoking pot. So maybe it's the law that's broken, not our prison system. As Reagan demonstrated, drug treatment was more (cost) effective than drug punishment. But it's not about lowering crime, it's about punishing the wicked.

A totalitarian society exists when every member of society is a criminal, due to a multitude of unreasonable laws. America is reaching the point where most everyone can be arrested and thrown in jail for living a normal life. Which lends anyone with an agenda sufficient power to press that agenda home.

Crime prevention leads to law abiding citizens, which are not profitable, since they provide no leverage. Better to remove the legal options, emphasize the illegal, and then feel free to arrest anyone when they do something you don't like. This is where thought crime management becomes a part of regular governance.

I do not say we live in such a society, only that America is closer to totalitarianism now than at any other point in my lifetime. Liberalism, as represented by the democrats, means worse than nothing. A fad-ridden party full of corporate opportunism and dishonesty. The only party that stills believes in our basic humanity appears to be the Libertarians, but they taint basic human existence with fantasies about a Utopian happy-happyland.

I don't believe in moral governance. That is, I believe the government has no inherent right to dictate moral standards. Government is a social convention solely for the purpose of legislating necessary ethical positions, so that we can choose to live our lives as we want, without undue interference in the lives of others.

That means I'm against all limitation of rights where clear societal necessity cannot be demonstrated:
I'm against prison terms where fines are a sufficient deterrent.
I'm against institutionalization, where reform is possible.
I'm against punishment in all cases where prevention was not attempted.
And, of course, I'm against the death penalty since prison time is clearly sufficient for society's interests.

When you kill someone, you are not looking to repair the damage done, you are lashing out in righteous anger at one who has hurt you. You are declaring your own moral superiority to the actions of the accused, stating that there are inherently good peole who can kill without impunity, and inherently bad people who deserve to die.

When you kill someone, you are not trying to prevent them from committing further
crimes. That goal is already accomplished by their arrest. You are looking for
retribution for your hurt feelings. You are declaring that God is insufficient, and taking His role for yourself.

This old view of yours, to punish the wicked, that comes from a society where moral authority comes from the King. We no longer accept that the powerful are inherently superior and good, we believe in inherent humanity, which grants us rights and responsibilities based on nothing but our innate nature.

This is the unique way of thinking that we refer to as Democracy, and it is this which as an inevitable consequence leads to the view that imprisonment must serve as a deterrent and a method of rehabilitation, rather than a Godly method for superior beings to express their disapproval upon the lowly masses.

Punishment is not a function of government, it is a function of religion. That you would use your moral standards to punish the wicked, regardless of the actual detriment to society is a classic example of why the separation of church and state is absolutely necessary in order to maintain any semblance of a fair and just society.

Laws have consequences, but those consequences are not punishments. If you steal a car, you can be forced to make restitution. That's what's best for society as a whole. If you kill someone, you go to jail. That's what's best for society as a whole. It might be a hardship to you, but so's having a tornado rip your home apart. That doesn't make it a punishment.

Laws that serve merely to punish crime, and not to deter crime, are a waste of
time and energy, and damage the fabric of society. Remember how Jean Val-jean
went to jail for feeding his family? Yet he stole even more afterward. Because
the law sought only to punish, not to repair.

We do what we believe is best for society, but we do not have the right to go beyond that. Locking someone up for life, that is sometimes necessary to protect society. Killing someone is never needed: only sometimes more convenient. God alone may judge what punishment a person deserves, and God alone shall judge each of us for the judgments we pass onto others.

Laws that flow from God (as in a monarchy) may include the taking of human life, because as better-than-human the King has the right to judge who is unfit to keep God's gift.

Laws that flow from the people may only extend so far as any individual person's rights extend. So that society may act to protect itself by killing a violent person in defense of its members (police officer shooting a gunman) but it may not commit premeditated murder as a convenient way to clean up the prisons. There is no person in a democracy who is so far superior to the law that they may pass judgment upon the individuals below that law. There is no hierarchy of law.

That you can presume yourself worthy to condemn another to death indicates that you do not view yourself as a human being, but as something superior. Or perhaps that you believe the American government to be superior to individual human life, which is equally false and dangerous.

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