A New Year with Old Problems

Like many people out there, I felt surprised by how this year began.  On January 1st, the Pope slapped a woman's hand, an action that I feel was completely justified.  The woman grabbed him aggressively and he responded fairly but unexpectedly.  Then on January 2nd,  the U.S assassinated an Iranian general.

Gun Target

(Side note:  I spent some time on Friday, January 3rd, wondering what would happen next.)

I read the headlines a few times before learning more, because my brain could not comprehend that our country brazenly assassinated someone.  Especially someone from a country with which we are currently not on good terms.

I realize that I've been in a funk since then, worrying about when a new war with Iran will begin. (Sadly, I think it's a 'when' question, not an 'if' question.)  I wonder why Trump picked out this particular man to kill.  I know that American media portrays the victim as a "bad" guy, but I also know that American media is extremely biased.  Even if the victim was a bad guy, how does that justify murder?  How do the people who claim to be Christian accept this action?  Isn't "Thou shalt not murder" part of the Ten Commandments?  I know for a fact that none of the commandments has an asterisk to list exceptions.

Going down this thought path leads to depression and anxiety about the future.  Will any of my relatives in the military die because Trump wanted to distract the nation from his impeachment?  Will anyone in the military or civilian installations die?  How is this morally acceptable?

Instead of looking for answers to these mostly-unanswerable questions, I decided to look for the silver lining.  It's a technique I learned long ago when faced with bad/unhappy/terrible situations.  I know that there is no silver lining to this situation that makes up for the chance of world war 3 happening, but what I'm trying to do is find some peace of mind while waiting.

I spent several days thinking about what good can come of this situation.  Will the assassination wake up some of Trump's supporters to the truth about his presidency?  No, not really.  Someone who drank enough of the kool aid to still support Trump isn't about to change their minds now.

I finally conceded that there is no silver lining to this situation.  The U.S. will not, in all probability, face any real consequences other than a worse reputation.  Iran is gaining a better international reputation, but has no way to get reparations for the damage.  The United Nations won't censure the U.S. because we're on the Security Council.  The World Court system can't do anything, because the U.S. will pressure our allies to support us.  And our allies are smart enough to plan for the future.

The situation plays into the hands of smaller countries who feel like that larger countries can do anything and get away with it, while holding the smaller countries to stricter standards of behavior.

Yes, this is depressing.  So I ask you, do you see any good coming from this?

Thoughts about Birth Control: Female vs Male

Opened condom

While the abortion debate rages on and on, I wonder why we don't talk about birth control more.  Why is the topic of condom, pills, IUDs, and such controversial?  I mean, it seems to me that preventing pregnancy is a good way to know need abortions.

But even this topic is not without strife.  
"Why do women need to worry about birth control and take the pills (get an IUD,...)?" "Why don't we have male birth control (that's not a condom)?"

Here's the thing.  It's easy to control women's fertility because women have a built-in pause and stop mechanism.  Women don't have periods during pregnancy and have a limited number of fertile years.  When scientists wanted to control a woman's fertility, they just had to figure out how to utilize the already existing system.

But the same is definitely not true for men.  A boy grows up, hits puberty, and BAM!  Instant sperm factory!  The testes begin to work, producing something like 1,500 sperm per second each, every second of every hour of every day.  That's millions of sperm per day.

But men don't have a built-in pause or a built-in stop.  In fact, any given man can father a child up until death.  That's why there's exactly one temporary male birth control option is a barrier, such as a condom, and one permanent option - a vasectomy.

To be honest, there's research ongoing into creating other options for men.  But I don't know of any that are ready for prime time yet.

Just a thought...

I Got Permission Before I Posted This

Women Gossiping

These days, you hear about kids, safety, and the Internet. People discuss how to limit information so that predators do not know too much about your kids People discuss the dangers of cyberbullying, and sexting. But no one has discussed whether or not the kids want to put their stories on the Internet.

Sometimes I read parenting blogs or Facebook posts where the parents complain about their kids or
relay negative stories, such as how some three year old took their poop and smeared it all over the
walls. The stories are not limited to babies and toddlers - some parents continue with these stories
as the kids progress through elementary school and higher. When I read the story about how a kid
cheated at school, I wonder if that kid really wants the world to know about it. Or if the kid simply has a bad day, does he or she want the Facebook community at large to share the information?

How will this sharing effect these kids in the long run? Will your teenage son or daughter want their
future dates to be able to look up every dirty story from his or her childhood? What about future
employers? Will a kid who screws up in elementary school still be haunted by it ten years later?

I know some of you will think I’m exaggerating, but once something is posted on the Internet, you have to assume it is out there forever. It is the only safe and sane assumption. So if an employer has a
pool of qualified candidates and begins to use the Internet to learn more about each candidate, who’s
to say that these stories won’t affect the decision?

That doesn’t mean I don’t like parenting blogs, or cute stories of kids. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t post about your kids. I just think that we as parents need to think about what we post, and maybe ask kids for their permission before posting about them. After all, it is their life and their story to tell.

Besides, would you want your kids to tell everyone about your bad days?

Book Review: "Iron and Magic" by Ilona Andrews

Iron and Magic (The Iron Covenant, #1)Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Iron and Magic" by Ilona Andrews is the first of a spin-off series from the Kate Daniels universe. It begins with the character of Hugh D'Ambray, Roland's former warlord and Kate's one-time stalker. Roland casts Hugh out after Hugh fails to get Kate to willingly agree to meet with Roland. So Hugh has sunk into a drunken stupor, waiting to die.

Hugh is forced to become sober and help out the remnants of the Iron Dogs, the fighting force he put together for Roland, because Hugh's enemy, Landon Nez, is hunting and killing all of the Iron Dogs that he can find. With his back against the wall, Hugh agrees to marry The White Warlock, a woman leading a group of people called The Departed.

This book explains who Hugh is, why he did what he did in the Kate Daniels books, and why he worshipped Roland. It also hints at who Hugh might have been in different circumstances. Elara Harper, The White Warlock, is a a new character in the universe, though there is a reference to her during a conversation with the Witch Oracle. The readers learn about Elara and the Departed alongside Hugh and his Dogs.

I read the entire book in one day. Not that I didn't have other things to do, but because the story pulls you in. You just don't want to put the novel down until you know what happens. How do Hugh and Elara work together? What's going on with Landon Nez? How will the Iron Dogs fit in with the Departed?

There are more questions, but that would be spoilers. Let's just say I now think of Hugh as a good guy combined with an anti-hero.

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Book Review: "The Ape That Understood the Universe: How the Mind and Culture Evolve" by Steve Stewart-Williams

The Ape That Understood the Universe: How the Mind and Culture EvolveThe Ape That Understood the Universe: How the Mind and Culture Evolve by Steve Stewart-Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

"The Ape That Understood the Universe" by Steve Stewart-Williams is an amazing book that discusses how evolutionary forces shaped human beings, and continue to shape human beings, in terms of culture and psychology. The book begins with a fictitious report by an alien species on the strange life on the planet, asking all sorts of questions that seem obvious once someone points them out. Stewart-Williams then goes on to explain humanity, answering the alien's questions.

I found this book to be interesting, in the good sense of the word. I also found that I could not read it as quickly as I read other books. I would cover one section, and then my brain felt full. There is no better metaphor for the sensation. I spent time thinking about what I read, and sometimes I would even reread sections. It was a slow, wonderfully-engaging narrative that made me think about what it means to be human.

I recommend this book to anyone who wonders about who we as a species are, why we exist, and where we might be going.

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