Equal Marriage?

There is a lot of debate about legalizing gay marriage right now. The only argument against it is religious. I find it extremely interesting that equal rights are being thwarted by the church. Personally, I am in a committed hetero-sexual relationship. I refuse to get married for several reasons. To begin with, marriage has a very jaded past. Throughout history in many cultures women were treated as property. Dowries were a means of selling women into marriage–or basically slavery. Many cultures did not (do not) recognize a woman’s rights or wishes apart from her husband’s. Until 1920 here in the US, a woman was considered to have the same political opinion as her husband. His vote was meant to be a vote from the household. Women’s opinions were disregarded.

Another reason that I am against marriage is the concept of other people forcing their way into my relationship. By signing a certificate for marriage I agree to the government’s intervention in my relationship. If there is a religion or church that performs the ceremony, I also agree to let them into my relationship. In the end, there are a lot of people crowding their way into a relationship meant for two. No wonder the divorce rate is so high in the US. I’m sure the divorce rate would be just as high in other highly religious areas if divorce were an option.

Divorce is another reason that I’m against marriage. Since the deck is stacked against you to begin with, you have a crowd of people bustling through your once tranquil relationship, and all these forces are working to drive you apart from your spouse, eventually divorce is inevitable. What happens then? Usually the person who makes more money gets screwed. That person gets saddled with alimony and possible child support, while the other one simply collects the cash. How fair is that? Not very.

I think that there is a much better way to handle things. Marriage should have nothing to do with the government at all. Marriage ceremonies performed through churches, in Vegas or even in your own back yard should have no legal effects whatsoever. If someone wants a legally binding union that gives them tax breaks and what have you, that’s what civil unions are for. That should be across the board. Everyone should not have to get married or have to be civilly united. It should be a choice.

As far as your significant other is concerned, people should have to abide by your wishes, regardless of whether or not you’re married. Whoever you list as a durable power of attorney (the person who makes life and death decisions for you if you can’t) should have full access to you if you are incapacitated. There should be no law that can prevent that. If YOU made that person capable of deciding whether you live or die, that person obviously knows you well enough to visit you in the ICU.

People should have to respect the lives of others, plain simple.Every religious person I’ve spoken to claims that it is not their place to judge, it’s God’s, yet judge they do. Through proselytizing, pushing for laws that prohibit certain behavior, picketing funerals and much more these people judge on a daily basis. Every time someone says, “It’s not my place to judge,” the judgement has already been made. It’s time to stop judging and step back. Your yardstick is not the only measuring utensil out there. A person’s character is not defined by their religion, their political stance, their profession…or their sexuality. Move on. Live your own life, and let everyone else live theirs.

You know, I’ve often thought about having a ceremony. Though I will never be legally binded, the concept of walking down the isle and professing my love is appealing to me. As long as I don’t have to legally allow anyone else into my relationship to do so, I’m good.

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Leave the Whine Sessions for the Brie and Crackers

Working in customer service has its ups and downs. Today had a lot of downs. I work in a gas station. A gas station is not a bank. If you want to break a C-note, go to a bank, not a gas station, especially after dark. When I tell you that I don’t have the cash in my register to break the bill, don’t get all high on your horse and act like it’s my job to break your bill–it’s not. My job is to sell gas to people who have small enough bills for me to change. If you want $50 in gas and hand me a fifty, fine. Hell, if you want $100 in gas and hand me a C-note, fine. Don’t come into my station wanting $5 or $10 in gas and expect me to break your bill.

I card. It’s the law, not just in California, but all over the US. I could lose my job, the station could lose its tobacco license, my manager could lose her job, etc. I card. If you don’t like it, tough. The sign says if you look under 30, expect to get carded. Don’t go whining about having gray hair (after taking your hat off) and that you’re too old to be carded. Especially when you’re a lot younger than I am. I don’t feel bad at all when I see an ID showing that someone is 10 years younger than I am, yet they are upset about being carded. Bring your ID if you want to buy alcohol or tobacco, end of story. Leave the whine sessions for the brie and crackers.

Vaccination Debate

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This pic started a huge debate on a scientific page I like on FB. What gets me is how people can be against vaccines. How can someone understand how the human immune system works (by creating antibodies against foreign invaders), know how vaccines work (by introducing a weakened foreign invader so the body can create an antibody against it), then claim that vaccines don’t work! That’s idiotic!

The other issue that people keep bring up is that vaccines “cause” autism. That’s not true. There was one study in the 90s that found a link between vaccines and autism. In 2010 it was found that the lead scientist on that study, Dr. Wakefield, acted “unethically” and his findings were thrown out. Everyone else on the study withdrew their names from it.

People still try to say that the incidence of autism has increased since the introduction of vaccines. Scientifically, correlation and causation are not the same thing. Just because I get thirsty every time I start to leave my house, that does not mean that leaving my house causes me to get thirsty. So many things changed in this country during the 1950s, and any one, a combination of them or none of them at all could be responsible for the increased incidence of autism. Fast food was discovered about that time. Since then this country has grown to live on pretty much nothing but fast food. In the 1950s we started pasteurizing our food and dairy products as well as using additives and refrigeration to extend the shelf life of our food.

Pasteurization heats things to ridiculously high temperatures, killing bacteria (both good and bad), vitamins and minerals as well as enzymes necessary for digestion. By the time people get to be older, we now have to use artificial means to get our bodies to digest food (and we can’t be certain that the food is being digested “properly”) because we’ve burned all of the natural digestion aids out of the food.

What about nutrition? Our society has become one of instant gratification in huge portions. People drive-through hamburger joints and have pizza delivered, expecting it to take only a few minutes to happen. The meal sizes are 3-4 times what they should be for a healthy portion size, of course there is nothing healthy about the food at these fast food places to begin with, is there? Even the salads are loaded down with deep fried and breaded meat product or so-called grilled meat product with artificial flavoring all over it. Any dressings they offer are loaded with fat and preservatives, including their “low-fat” varieties (which usually are full of sugar instead of fat).

Even when people think they are eating healthy, they usually are not. Now, after several generations of poor diet, poor exercise and stress, how does that affect the body? How does that affect the bodies of the unborn children that are being brought into this world? We don’t know. We can’t know.

There are a lot of factors that could be responsible for the increased incidence of autism since the introduction of vaccines. Many of those could be controlled individually. Some cannot (such as pasteurization regulations). Others could be as simple as misdiagnosis before the age of vaccines. Autism is still something that doctors do not fully understand. Sixty or more years ago the condition must have been a complete mystery. It is very possible that many cases of autism were classified as something else. Now that doctors understand more about autism, they can properly diagnose it.

Regardless of why the incidence of autism has increased, there has yet to be any scientific evidence to link it to vaccination. In fact, there has been several studies showing that there is no link at all:

The Journal of Pediatrics 2000; 138(3): 366-372
Journal of Clinical Immunology November 2003; 23(6): 504-517
Journal of Neuroimmunology 2005
Brain, Behavior and Immunity 1993; 7: 97-103
Pediatric Neurology 2003; 28(4): 1-3
Neuropsychobiology 2005; 51:77-85
The Journal of Pediatrics May 2005;146(5):605-10
Autism Insights 2009; 1: 1-11
Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology February 2009; 23(2): 95-98
Annals of Clinical Psychiatry 2009:21(3): 148-161
Journal of Child Neurology June 29, 2009; 000:1-6
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders March 2009;39(3):405-13
Medical Hypotheses August 1998;51:133-144.
Journal of Child Neurology July 2000; ;15(7):429-35
Lancet. 1972;2:883–884.
Journal of Autism and Childhood Schizophrenia January-March 1971;1:48-62
Journal of Pediatrics March 2001;138:366-372.
Molecular Psychiatry 2002;7:375-382.
American Journal of Gastroenterolgy April 2004;598-605.
Journal of Clinical Immunology November 2003;23:504-517.
Neuroimmunology April 2006;173(1-2):126-34.
Prog. Neuropsychopharmacol Biol. Psychiatry December 30 2006;30:1472-1477.
Clinical Infectious Diseases September 1 2002;35(Suppl 1):S6-S16
Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2004;70(11):6459-6465
Journal of Medical Microbiology October 2005;54:987-991
Archivos venezolanos de puericultura y pediatría 2006; Vol 69 (1): 19-25.
Gastroenterology. 2005:128 (Suppl 2);Abstract-303

What vaccines do is protect people:

Smallpox: This disease once killed nearly 1,000 children per year. It was completely eradicated in 1977 thanks to the smallpox vaccine.

Diphtheria: In 1920, nearly 150,000 cases were reported in the United States, with more than 13,000 deaths. By 2002, only one case was reported nationwide.

Pertussis (whooping cough): More than 107,000 cases were reported in 1922, with nearly 5,100 deaths. In 2002, only 9,771 cases were reported nationwide.

Measles vaccination resulted in a 71% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2011 worldwide.

Be sure to watch what Penn & Teller have to say on the subject:

Entitlement Syndrome

What would you do with a million dollars? What about 100 million? When the thought of gaining a lot of money without working for it comes to mind, such as winning the lottery or gaining an inheritance, is your first idea philanthropic? Do you think of using a large sum of money to help feed hungry people or cure sick children? For most people, including myself, the answer is no. My first thought when thinking about a large sum of money like that is paying off student loans. The pressures of constant debt, debt accumulated from something that was supposed to better my life, is frighteningly overwhelming at times. The concept of being debt free is almost unfathomable at this point, but that doesn’t stop fantasies of winning the lottery from fluttering through my mind. But once I’ve paid off the measly $50,000, then what? Buy a house? Ok, so I’ll get one somewhere outside of California where they charge closer to what the house is worth (and I’d actually get a yard to go with it.) Tops, I’d spend $200,000. The powerball here in California is sitting at 600 million right now. What could I possibly do with the rest of that money? I’ve always wanted to start a coffee shop. So, about $500,000 to get that off the ground and within a year it should start bringing in business and making me money.

I like the idea of giving back. I want to be able to help others, but I don’t think that handing money to people helps anyone. If I just “acquired” a lot of money, through winning the lottery, inheriting from a distant relative or someone just giving me the money, what have I really gained? If I, in turn, just hand out money to others, what do they get out of that experience? We all need to set goals and experience the setbacks and triumphs along the road to achieving those goals. I truly believe that this is one of the main issues with our country and our political system today. People have become complacent. Everyone in this country feels entitled (I am guilty of this, too). We have been told for so long that we have “inalienable” rights, that we’ve come to believe that we are entitled to everything…that we have the “right” to everything. People live outside of their financial means, charging outrageous extravagances onto multiple credit cards, they then don’t pay their credit card bills and are upset and indignant when those things are repossessed as if they have the “right” to steal those items! Our government treats public money very similarly. They spend quite extravagantly, then expect the public to pick up the tab in higher taxes without question. Why? Because they feel “entitled” to do so.

The truth is, there are no “inalienable rights.” That was jargon used in the 18th century to ensure that the people our forefathers were targeting got a certain kind of treatment. We are not entitled to steal from others, be it another person, company, corporation or whatever. We are not entitled to hurt, maim or kill anyone else. You can argue self-defense all you want, but that is a reaction to harm, not an entitlement.

In the end, we reap what we sow. If we continue down this path of believing that we are entitled to everything and passing that on to our children, eventually we will be completely isolated. I see it more and more as I go out. People treat each other like dirt because they each feel like the other is infringing on their “rights” in some way. There is no respect, no courtesy and no desire to treat others, including friends and family, like you want to be treated. When I’ve tried to mention “the Golden Rule” to some people, I’ve gotten responses like, “Well, I just treat her the way she treats me.” At that point all I can do is feel sad. The idea that people can miss the point so deeply is heartbreaking.

I don’t have money to give others, and since I think that handing out money is a waste of time anyway, I prefer to talk. As a cashier in a convenience store in a questionable area of town, I see a lot of different types of people every day. I try my best to be a good listener for those who are down on their luck and offer sympathy and even a little advice, if it’s solicited.

Sometimes I think we all need to step back from ourselves and take a good long look. When I get angry or upset I like to stop and ask myself a few simple questions: Why? What changed to create my anger? Is this something I have control over? If I am angry at someone else, am I placing blame to avoid my own responsibility? In the course of my life, how much does this issue really matter? Even if someone else is at “fault,” will it hurt me to forgive and move on? For most people, the actual answers to those questions will probably be surprising. Most of the time, these things don’t really matter. Even something as serious as an affair in a marriage. When it comes down to it, if you love your spouse, and your spouse loves you, in the course of a lifetime, one affair will not matter, as long as it doesn’t keep coming up. If the “injured” party holds it over the other’s head, then it becomes a problem. Will forgiving a spouse for getting drunk and having a one night stand hurt you? No, of course, if you do actually forgive, you can’t keep holding the affair over the spouse’s head. So, it’s all about how much you care about the person, rather than being right all of the time.

Working Education?

Our economy is in a slump, there is no denying that. Especially out here on the west coast people have to fight for a living. I have a degree. I have a lot of work experience. What I don’t have is what employers in California are looking for…a degree in Computer Science. Unfortunately mine is in history, go figure. What I’ve noticed increasingly over the last year, is that companies are advertising more and more for interns. The issue is, they will only accept people who are in school. Years ago we had an almost completely industrial based economy. Many of the occupations were “hands-on,” therefore they were taught “on the job.” These people became professionals through being apprentices, then doing the job themselves for a while, then eventually they where pros. Internships seem very similar to me. I think companies should consider how much time, money and effort could be saved by training their own prodigies. By screening their own potential candidates, they could offer to train them, without pay, with a paid position in waiting. Of course, it would be prudent for the company to have the candidate sign a contract. It would be a shame if the candidate took off with all that training for a more lucrative position…

Stupidity Behind the Wheel

I know I’m on a stupidity kick lately, but I live in California, so I can’t help it. Yesterday I went to pick my man up from the BART with my grandson in his carseat. On the way back some girl cut me off twice while weaving in and out of traffic. I had to turn left while she went straight at an intersection, and as we pulled up beside her, my man saw that she was texting while driving. So her stupidity put my grandson in danger.

Since I’ve been here in California I’ve seen more stupidity on the road than I have just about anywhere else (and I’ve been a lot of places). It seems that in California turn signals are to be used on a whim, and do not necessarily indicate which direction the driver is turning…or even IF the driver is turning at all.

Speed limits are obviously variable and optional. Though the speed limit signs on the freeways SAY 65 mph, people are only capable of going two speeds: 40 mph or 80 + mph. It seems that I aggravate everyone by following the posted laws. The highways are not the only place where speed limits are an issue. Near my home there is a strip of road with a 40 mph speed limit. Again there are two speeds: 20 mph and 50 mph. It is unacceptable for me to go 40.

There are no passing zones all over near where I live, yet I have to watch for morons passing throughout these zones. Parking lots are death traps around here. Not just because people are idiots behind the wheel, but also because the people who designed the lots were morons. There is no space between cars, no space between lanes, no space to pull out, no visibility and to top it off, you have morons flying through at 30-40 mph. The fact that most parking lots are packed full with bustling crowds of idiots day and night doesn’t help much.

I know that there is a growing trend to make fun of stupidity. In my old age I’m finding that harder and harder to do. What I used to find humorous, I just find sad now. To think that the world is being turned over to a generation of people who have to buy tennis shoes with velcro straps, or simply not tie their shoes because they don’t know how is saddening on a fundamental level. Young people should have more sense than to use a phone while they are using s two-ton deadly piece of machinery.

Advising Ignorance

Has anyone ever wondered how so many people get paid to give others advice? What bothers me is the fact that most people giving that advice have no real world credentials that validate their abilities. Some moron posts ten “tips” to reduce stress…well duh, everyone knows that cammomile tea and hot baths help with stress! As far as the long walks on the beach, that might be more of a personal preference thing.

Now when you have people giving economic advice, especially in these troubled times, that really strikes a cord with me. Sometimes these people will actually have a degree in economics, but most of the time they are just some Joe Shmoe off the street trying to tell me how to save money on my groceries. Excuse me, moron, but did you manage to feed and clothe three children, keep a roof over their heads as well as make sure all of their needs were met on a mere $400 a month? I didn’t think so. If you really want economic advice, talk to a single mother with a deadbeat ex.