Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Piece of Advice #115: Don't rely on the government to protect you

It should now be clear to even the least engaged American that, when it comes to our government, the adults are not in charge. In fact, from Ferguson to the Ukraine to Iraq, whatever our current U.S. Government has touched has turned to blood. They've been busily destabilizing sovereign nations and stirring up race hatred in the heartland, all the while ignoring their role in scandal after scandal, and responsibility for their decision making processes in failed projects of their own choosing, like the healthcare rollout.

However, the average American, not really known for his awareness of what is happening within his ever expanding, ever more complex and corrupt government, can't really be blamed for his ignorance of large scams like Pigford. First, because it doesn't affect him directly and probably doesn't affect anyone he knows directly. Second, because the media has been running cover for the Obama Administration for over six years, framing their actions and covering their misdeeds in a decidedly Soviet fashion. And, third, because, under the New Normal that followed the economic freefall of 2008, we're all pretty busy trying to do more with less. At the end of the day, if there are only bread and circuses, we'll we'll take a second helping of both, please, and maybe a beer?

But here's the deal: while the bad faith misdoings of the IRS, the DHS, the FBI, the ATF, the HHS and the Justice Department are certainly bad news for all of us, and the military purges and our porous border will absolutely affect the security of the U.S. longterm, in the shorter term, most of this stuff, again, doesn't affect us directly in ways we can point to and accuse. Yes, the new jobs aren't anywhere near as good as our old jobs, and the average taxpayer will be on the hook for the needs and demands of an unending stream of immigrants, but it's still a fairly indirect assault. You have to be paying attention to pinpoint the source of your troubles.

But now we have Ebola on our soil, and there's nothing like a disease that makes people's inner organs hemorrhage and their eyeballs liquify to shake things up a bit.

So far the CDC is doing about as good a job as you might expect from a federal department under this administration. Ebola has been ripping through Africa for months now, a horrible disease that has no cure. The mortality rate is currently about 70%. 70%! Still, the media has attempted to run cover for the inadequacies of organization and planning which lead to it cropping up in Texas, instead bringing up gun deaths and Republican budget cuts, and reminding us that the flu kills 36,000 people in the U.S. every year (a statistic that even the Huffington Post blatantly calls out as a lie). Obama personally told us that it was "unlikely" that Ebola would surface in the U.S. CDC officials told us it was unlikely that Ebola would spread in the U.S. And now we have pockets of Ebola in several states and at least two homegrown cases in healthcare workers who treated Thomas Duncan, the Liberian man who knowingly brought it here. The last case even flew about the U.S. after her coworker was diagnosed with Ebola. Wow, the government is really on it. Relax, peeps, cheeel. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow golf. Yeah, that's right. Absolutely nothing to worry about.

Seriously, people. My brother-in-law's border collie mix could do a better job of herding people and keeping mischief from happening.

I think it's time we realized that our leaders have a different agenda here, and it's not keeping average Americans safe or healthy. Obama can give Frieden the ax to try and save face, but until we stop flights from West Africa, seal our borders, and quarantine anyone - anyone - who's had exposure to the virus, we are all at risk.

Most of these scares will prove to be false alarms, and it looks like the people who did not treat Duncan medically have not come down with the virus. But officials have begun rethinking that 21-day quarantine period as sufficient, and, frankly, we don't know enough about this disease and how it's spread yet to make any more mistakes. But it's hard to imagine, after such an auspicious beginning, that there will be no more mistakes. The paperwork from the medical liability lawsuits will decimate forests.

So, we're on our own here. The CDC isn't going to save you, so take care of your own. Beef up your health as best you can, stock up on Sambucol, and start a hand washing ritual. We may have to self-quarantine as well - which would require stocking up on essentials and will have a significant impact on our economy. Be aware of the risks of being in public places or in germ incubators like public transit. Prepare for possible financial disruption. And make sure your employer has some policy on how to handle outbreaks of sickness in the workplace to minimize exposure to everyone else.

Good luck, and God bless.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Piece of Advice #115: Teach your girls not to rape

Originally, I was going to talk about hitting and physical violence among women since new evidence has shown that frequently, in roughly 40% of cases, men are the target of domestic violence. We are so programmed by our duplicitous media to regard women as victims, that younger generations cannot imagine such a high rate of abuse victims are men - except for young people who grew up in the households of abusive women. They can imagine all too well.

I've known a number of men personally who were perhaps not physically beaten by their wives or partners, but were subjected to endless psychological abuse, crazy, jealous, or controlling behavior. At least three of these men's wives took a blowtorch to their lives, and they barely survived. They were normal men whose lives were ruined when vicious women used the system against them for fun and profit.

Teach your girls not to be like that.

Start with the idea that they need to keep their hands them themselves. That just because they're cute and small, they don't get a free pass on hitting. It's not okay to hit a boy just because he's bigger or male. Then move up to the idea that "Want, take, have" is a philosophy suited to psychopaths not women, and certainly not ladies.

It's distressing to read all of the recent stories about adult women who have taken sexual advantage of the boys entrusted to them socially or professionally, like local teacher Jamila Williams who sexually molested two of her students. This is not an isolated incident. Women pedophiles are becoming more common. I'll forgive you if you haven't read more of the hundreds of these cases (h/t SOBL1). The media doesn't seem to think they are as interesting as priest pedophile cases. We are still getting thorough coverage of archived Catholic scandals in the national press, although female pedophile cases are much more of a trend now. Where there is little oversight, predators will roam, and schools apparently are great hunting grounds these days.

Some may say boys who are sexually molested by women must consent or sex cannot occur, but the fact remains that these boys are still minors. Their brains have not fully formed, and they cannot conceptualize the legal responsibilities they will have for their predators' children should these women become pregnant or what life with herpes (or antibiotic-resistant Gonorrhea) will be like. We shelter them from the responsibilities of voting and drinking because our society thinks they are unready. If it's wrong for a 30-year-old man to have consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl because one is adult and has adult understanding and the other is a child with inadequate experience, it's wrong for women to have sex with boys as well. Personally, I don't think we have the punishments right for these "consensual" sex cases, but I do agree that this isn't trivial stuff. I'm not raising my son to believe sex is like a handshake and matters just as little.

Then there are the truly crazy cases, like the one in Chicago where the nurse had sex with a medicated patient without his consent. It's fair to say that if on college campuses consensual sex must contractual, having sex with your drugged up patient is rape. You can't broker any kind of business if you can't count to 10.

For those confused about how women (and girls) should respect men's boundaries physically, psychologically, emotionally, sexually, and legally, remember: What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Piece of Advice #114: Stay together for the children

This piece of advice basically goes against all of the "wisdom" of the last 45 years, since the second wave feminist movement and the Sexual Revolution. Since I was a child myself I've heard adults rationalizing that if they're not happy in their marriages, the kids suffer, so it's just better to make a clean break and create a new happier environment for them to thrive in.

This sounds really great; the problem is, it's just sheer crap.  I think by now we all know it because the people who are of childbearing age now have seen so much of the insecurity, sadness, loneliness, anger, violence and abuse that are the results of broken families.

It's hard to even type that phrase, "broken families," because I've had so much negative reinforcement and reeducation of the "every family type is unique and valuable" kind. "No family is broken, we're all just making different choices, etc., etc."

So last week I found out that a woman I know, have known for several decades, who comes from a good intact family of loving but strict and religious parents, who was homeschooled as a girl and has been homeschooling her many children, has decided to Eat Pray Love and dump her, by all accounts, kind, decent looking, good provider, good dad husband so she can find herself. Or whatever. I should have known this was going down by the large increase in Facebook preening selfies (a number of them on horseback) being posted on her timeline, but I guess I wasn't paying enough attention. I really didn't pick up on the fact that she was getting divorced until she changed her last name back to her maiden name and her status to divorced.

She has many children. And, yes, she's held together well. She's still really attractive, and she's fun and creative and energetic, but what a nightmare. At least one of her daughters is taking being separated from her daddy really hard. And looking even a short distance into the future, her economic prospects are fairly grim. She's not particularly educated, and her job training isn't in a lucrative field. I don't know what she's thinking.  There is no way that she's ever going to do better than her now ex-husband.

She says her children are doing really well, but "well" is a pretty relative term.

My son spent a lot of time this summer playing with a friend whose parents got divorced two years ago. It was an "amicable" split up, and they were both very discreet on the reasons for it. Their son had anger issues then, and I remember thinking, "This isn't going to make him less angry." He spent this last summer terrorizing his family, including both sets of grandparents who were helping to take care of him. Apparently the only time he was easy to be around was when he had friends over, so out of pity, I let my son play there more than I was comfortable with because I know his grandmother, have known her for years, and I was dismayed to hear her say in astonishment how good he was when my son was over.

The last week of the summer his mother locked herself in the bathroom with her daughter because he was so out of control. Her father had to come over and get this boy talked down. Another total nightmare.

While I think this boy could seriously benefit from the establishment of some strict parental boundaries, the longer the summer wore on, the more I realized he was punishing everyone because he was angry and because he couldn't do anything about the divorce two years ago, but he sure could now. So he did. He made everyone in his family as miserable as he could.

In the last six year since my son went to school we've seen numerous families split up, and a number of my son's classmates have really floundered. They've been angry. They've hit kids on the playground, they've gotten thin and ghostlike, and their grades have seriously suffered in school. I've had to inform my son's school of abuse, and I've testified in court. And this is a private, middle class Catholic school, not the inner city.

Their parents have suffered too. They don't know how to handle escalating misbehavior. They don't have time to do enough intervention. They don't have any money. They've married and divorced again, or not married and just had serial relationships. Or posted a lot on Facebook about how strong and independent they are when it was obvious that they were just hanging on by a thread.

I don't know what was going on behind closed doors in most of these situations, but divorce didn't make any of these people better parents or happier. Yes, it's still the short term, but there has been so much collateral damage.

Marriage is hard. It's not always happy. Sometimes there are long spells of sadness, disappointment, health problems, money problems, or incompatibility that must be weathered. Children add complications and stress. Individual wants or even needs often must be put off. But the sheer act of keeping on keeping on in the face of difficulties is an education for kids, and the long term benefits of growing up in a house with both biological (or adoptive) parents are of immeasurable. An inheritance richer than pearls or diamonds. 

If that's a gift you can give your children, why wouldn't you do everything you can to provide it?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Suffer the children...

Recently in Grand Rapids we had a rather shocking murder: Jamarion Lawhorn, a 12-year-old boy, took a knife to a playground of a private trailer park and fatally stabbed a 9-year-old boy and then asked a nearby adult to borrow his cellphone so he could turn himself in to the police. "Hi. I just stabbed somebody. I want to die. I'm tired of living in this world. Please pick me up," he said.

Besides the extreme youth of Lawhorn and his victim, Connor Verkerke, the case was troubling in a number of ways. The two boys didn't know each other. There had been no contact between them. The act was premeditated, committed in a place Lawhorn didn't play, and done in broad daylight. Also, Lawhorn was black and Verkerke was white.

If you haven't heard about this case, it's not surprising. The larger media doesn't cover stuff like this; it's too busy trying to inflame a race war in Ferguson. And although by all accounts Connor Verkerke was a very nice boy, well behaved and very loved, he tragically was the wrong color for clickbait. Just another unfortunate incident. Nothing to see here.

The story gets grimmer, though. Lawhorn, when examined after the crime, was found to be covered in bruises. CPS substantiated child abuse allegations against his mother and stepfather last year, but apparently the parenting classes they were required to attend didn't "take." So Jamarion and his two younger siblings continued to live in a house with little food, no sheets or blankets on the beds, drug paraphernalia in the bathroom, and turn-off utilities. Oh, and two abusive. drugging adults. Of course, now that Jamarion's done something even CPS can't sweep under the rug or try to repair with therapy or classes, the other children have been pulled from the home, and the state has filed to terminate Anita Lawhorn and Bernard Harrold's parental rights.

Jamarion will spend his life locked away somewhere. He's still being held in jail until they can figure out what charging a 12-year-old as an adult really means. No judge will ever assign bail and shouldn't. He probably has a metric ton's worth of rage shoved down not so deep inside. Who wouldn't? No mention has been made of whether his mother and stepfather will be charged. Anita already surrendered her rights to two other children back in the 1990s because of abuse.

This kind of thing absolutely guts me. Stuff with kids always does. And it's not because CPS didn't do its job. CPS can't do its job - we place parental rights to abuse and neglect children above the rights of children to have functional families, just like we place the rights of people to "express themselves" sexually, socially, emotionally, politically, criminally, etc., before the rights of children (and all people) to live in safe, prosperous, and orderly cities and towns. It's important that we mouth the right sentences, not that we protect the vulnerable. Ideas over people.

Anita Lawhorn is a bad mother and very likely a very nasty piece of work. But she's feral because she's been allowed to become feral and to continue to be feral. And at the individual level, there's very little we can do about any of it. Agencies will encourage people to become foster parents, and many well meaning and very ill-prepared people will sign up to try and put the pieces of the puzzles of the Anita Lawhorns out there back together - and then the state will give those kids right back to their abusers. And innocent people, black and white and every other race, will get mugged, robbed, stabbed, shot, raped, and murdered because children who live in hell grow up to have, to be demons.

And that is not even remotely surprising, just horrible and terribly sad.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Piece of Advice #113: Stock up

One of the things that I was grateful I had done when we found out my husband was being laid off was to have fully stocked my pantry. Between that and the freezer we could have eaten for a couple of months, at least, although thankfully it didn't come to that. It was still a huge load off my mind when I was calculating expenses that we would have enough food to eat, no matter how long unemployment took to kick in. And it took a long time. I don't know how families without any savings do it.

Yesterday I also restocked my freezer with meat and fish from the coop, enough to make it through at least several months. I've purchased a half a pig as well from my local farmer who puts them out in his fields to fatten them up for fall. I'm splitting it with a friend since we both have smaller families. Last December we got a quarter hog's worth of meat, and it filled my freezer up. Meat is so expensive right now that buying it in bulk, even free range as I prefer, often costs less than what's in the grocery store. You do have to be organized in how you use it, though, because more than six months in the freezer is bad for most meats.

Many staples last in storage indefinitely, though. Beans, rice, split peas, lentils, wheat berries (if you own a grinder) all can last for years without spoilage. My pantry also has sugar, honey, and agave nectar, condiments, spaghetti and other noodles, canned fruits and vegetables, an embarrassing amount of tea leaves, as well as oils and spices and medicinal herbs. I have perhaps 40 gallons of water in storage as well. I put 3 drops of bleach in each container to keep it from molding. I've never had to use much of it, but the bleach will quickly evaporate once uncapped and then it will be safe to drink.

Other things I keep about in case of emergency: batteries, flashlights, extra blankets, a battery operated shortwave radio, a crank radio/lantern, camping gear, and a complete medical kit (with surgical tools and a number of spare bandages). I also have ibuprofen, Tylenol, and aspirin, elderberry elixir, as well as an additional stock of any medicines we regularly use.

The medical supplies could easily come in handy during an extended electrical blackout, blizzard situation, or epidemic. This has been on my mind be cause of the uncontrolled Ebola outbreak in West Africa. While I don't believe the disease would spread nearly as fast in a first world country with a complete infrastructure and advanced medical care available, I do think we will see cases in the U.S. before long, given the entirely insufficient attempts to limit travel to and from West Africa or quarantine asymptomatic people who have recently been there.

Fortunately Ebola is not an airborne disease, but influenzas are and all we'd need to bring the world basically to an at least temporary stop is one virulent and highly infections avian or swine flu. No matter how prepared cities and hospitals feel they are for an epidemic, the fact remains that as a society we don't know how to deal with mass illness or large amounts of infectious medical waste. Even professional cleaners used to disinfecting don't know enough about the sterilization required in such an emergency, and although medical supplies are generally not in shortage, that could change rapidly if there is enough sudden demand.

You can't always control your circumstances, but long term planning for a number of eventualities can make challenges easier to manage when they do arise. Stock up now.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Piece of Advice #112: Pray

As the world spirals into chaos, with Russian separatists bombing airliners full of HIV researchers out of the sky, and ISIS beheading toddlers, and militant Muslims destroying millenia-old Christian communities and committing genocide, while Israel decides now is the time to show the Palestinians who's got bigger guns, Ebola rips through Africa and missionaries put self-preservation ahead of the safety of the whole North American continent, the U.S. Government deliberately floods our southern border with tens of thousands of  homeless children with a variety of contagious medical conditions, and the majority of people in post-economic-recovery America can't scrape together $400 for an emergency expense, the future seems bleaker by the hour. Add in extreme cold and extended drought, wars and rumors of wars, famine, livestock disease, oil spills, poisonous solvent exposure, groundwater contamination, and nuclear waste, and it feels downright biblical.

Of course, none of this is new. Horrors have happened before, on a grander scale, and some survived to tell of the carnage and degradation. Drought and dust storms have happened before and been addressed, albeit with tremendous environmental damage and human suffering. Christians and Jews, Russians and Chinese, as well as any number of other religious and ethnic groups have been targeted for genocide, not even that long ago.

It's frightening, though, when stories like this one hit your local news: a twelve-year-old boy walks up to a nine-year-old on a playground and stabs him repeatedly with a knife, killing him, then turns himself into the police, saying, "I don't want to be on this earth anymore." It makes you doubt your own advice and think twice about ever letting your kid out of your sight again. You get to wondering if these parts can be cleaned, if the puzzle can be put together again, or if this time things are too messy to put back in order again.

It's during these times that I've taken up prayer again, albeit in a different way than when I was a child. For one, I no longer really expect miracles or direct intervention in my (or others') problems. I pray for perseverance. I pray that I will be able to be generous with others instead of hoarding and counting what savings we have. I pray that people will build community and that they will be grateful for what they do have instead of resentful over what they do not. I pray that I will build community and that I will be grateful. I pray that my husband will figure out how to make the hours he's put into his business pay off.

Over a year ago we found out my husband was going to be losing his job, and I decided to say my rosary daily so he would find something else. Our income was drastically reduced, and I've had to step up my hours writing to keep the family economically afloat, and during the long, horrific winter, I got fairly discouraged.  But I kept praying. During Lent I asked if anyone needed prayer, and slowly my prayer list has gotten longer and longer. I didn't realize before how many people in my social circle were struggling with health issues, family problems, unemployment, grief and sorrow. Praying for them made me realize how common my problems were, how this was just another thing people, even people who plan and prepare, go through and endure and try to stiffen their spine through. It's been humbling and eye-opening.

There really isn't anything I can do right now for Christians being murdered in the Middle East, except pray for them. But I can pray for them. And the act of prayer connects me to them and to all the other people who pray and have prayed. Some people say that prayer is worthless, that time and money is more important to give. But I've found that, by praying, I am more aware and concerned about the people around me. I check in on them more and am moved to be more personally generous. If I pray for the Israelis and Palestinians, I conceptualize them as people with needs. I know that when people tell me they are praying for me, I feel loved and cared about. And if that is the main gift I can afford to give now, that's the one I'll give.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Piece of Advice #111: Bypass Craigslist Casual Encounters

The big news in my neck of the woods this last week has been the triple homicide that resulted from a Craigslist Casual Encounters sex meetup gone wrong.

Police are being somewhat mum still, but only hours after Brady Oestrike fled a police chase, slammed his car into a highway barrier, and shot himself, and the police recovered the body of 18-year-old Brooke Slocum and her unborn baby from his trunk, people online were already making connections between Slocum and several Craigslist postings from June and July.

Apparently, Slocum, 8 months pregnant with her boyfriend Charles Oppeneer's baby, arranged to meet Oestrike with Oppeneer at a park for sex. Oppeneer's headless body was found on Wednesday, July, 16, and a search for Slocum was carried out and ended with the aforementioned chase, crash, and suicide.

I've covered stranger danger here at  TLAoS-PfW and have argued against Craigslist as a good place to look for love or sex, even. As I've explained to my 10-year-old son, repeatedly, you do not know who is on the other end of an internet chat, and it's imprudent to meet anyone you don't know in anywhere other than a very public place (and never without adult supervision). From interviews with Slocum's family members, it seems this was not a first encounter for Brooke Slocum. She'd been augmenting her income through Craigslist for awhile - until she met the wrong guy and was murdered.

This story is depressing on so many levels. You have Slocum and Oppeneer strange relationship (Oppeneer had two children from a previous failed relationship) and plans to co-parent, with or without the third party Slocum was seeking out for true love (?). So there's three children with precarious futures because clearly these two weren't going to make it as a couple. And then there's Slocum's apparent attempt to hold on to her boyfriend by including him in other sexual adventures. She's an attractive enough young woman with her whole life ahead of herself and this is the best arrangement she can create for herself?

Additionally, you have Slocum's family who could not control her behavior. Her father was quick to say in interviews that Brooke "wanted love" and to justify his daughter's behavior as a desperate attempt to "keep her new family together." Based on Brooke Slocum's online profile's, it's obvious that her home life had taken a few beatings long before she signed up on Craigslist. She was writing letters to her unborn baby, Audi, explaining why she met men on Craigslist for sex.

Who does that? Not anyone who's had healthy parent-child relationships patterned for her.

And then there's the killer Oestrike who is more of a cipher at this time. It appears he had used Craigslist before for role playing stuff (that he paid for). He seems strange, lonely and obsessed with weaponry, particularly guns, but not a poster child for triple homicide. And where did he put Oppeneer's head? Police have taken apart Oestrike's car part by part, and gone through his house, ripping apart furniture and walls. I suppose we will have to wait some time to get a reason for why Oestrike took it in his head to murder Oppeneer and Slocum.

It's not surprising that in a country when we have government subsidized Planned Parenthood employees educating 15-year-old girls about rough sex and bondage, you eventually get young women comfortable enough with prostitution to turn to it for money. It's also not surprising that, given the divorce rate, many young people are insufficiently supervised and get into trouble. But how sad and unnecessary this all is.

I hope that any young readers of this blog will think twice about their safety before they go anywhere with people they don't know and will skip Craigslist Encounters altogether.