Random (but not really)

Monday, August 20, 2018

House Size Vs Household Size in the US

I came across an article on how the size of houses has changed over time in the United States. I found it interesting how there was a slow decline until WWII, then the square footage drops for the only time, after which house size skyrockets.

Now this is interesting in and of itself, but I know that my great-grandmother had (IIRC) ten kids, most of whom survived to adulthood (many of whom lived to 90, but that’s another tale), so I was curious as to whether the household size briefly increased once modern medical techniques came to the fore before decreasing.

Interestingly, the data I found didn’t show a bump in the 1900s, just a steady decline. (You can also check the census data.)

So of course, being me, I wanted to see how this data looked.

It turned out to be far more linear than I was expecting, although it did make a nice X.

Now to be clear, we’re looking at household size here, not total population, so that number should include not just children, but parents or grandparents or other extended family members. Which is why I found the steady decline so interesting.

But even more fascinating–and horrifying–is that as households got smaller, the size of the house in which those smaller families live has gotten steadily larger.

Don’t get me wrong–I live in a very small house and there have been many occasions where I desperately wished my kitchen was bigger, or that I had a separate dining room, or that I had another bedroom, or that I had more storage space. But for the most part I like living in a small house.

Which is why I find the increase is house size so bizarre. What on earth do people PUT in these houses? Do people in houses three times as large as my house even see each other over the course of a day?

So that’s one of the things that has been on my mind recently, and now I’ve nattered on about it I can close a bunch of browser tabs.

ADDENDUM the FIRST: The reason there was no household data in 1920 was because apparently the census takers didn’t count large households the same as was done in other years.

Written by Michelle at 8:50 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: History,Non-Sequiturs,Religion & Philosophy  

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Thoughts on Social Responsibility

I’ve been thinking recently about social responsibility and the social contract.

It’s that time of year, so there are lots of people complaining about paying taxes, and bragging about how they manipulate things so they pay a minimum tax bill.

There are also a lot of people who insist on buying only things that are cheap: never pay full price, never buy quality goods.

Why do I think this is an issue? Because that is socially irresponsible and it breaks the social contract.

First, let’s clarify what I’m talking about.

Social contract:
1. the voluntary agreement among individuals by which, according to any of various theories, as of Hobbes, Locke, or Rousseau, organized society is brought into being and invested with the right to secure mutual protection and welfare or to regulate the relations among its members.
2. an agreement for mutual benefit between an individual or group and the government or community as a whole.

When we are part of society, we have implicitly agreed to follow certain rules and regulations that allow large groups of people to function without descending into chaos. We don’t steal, we don’t murder, and we treat fairly with each other.

But the social contract is more than that. In a moral and ethical society, it means we care for those who cannot care for themselves. For example, it’s why we have special legal protections for children.

It also means there are some things that are better managed by the government than by individuals and private companies: law enforcement, roads, and public safety come immediately to mind.

Taxes are the way we pay for these societal needs. If you don’t pay taxes, or attempt to shirk this duty, then you are taking advantage of your fellow citizens.

Let me be clear: I don’t mind paying a little extra to make up for the elderly widow who has minimal income. I don’t mind paying a little extra to cover the single parent trying to make ends meet. These are the things we do in a moral society.

What I do mind is people who can pay their way refusing to do so.

When people scheme to get out of paying their way in society, they are refusing to pay for the roads they drive on, the police that protect them, and the schools that educate future generations.

When people who have the ability to do otherwise choose to spend their money on the cheapest things available, they are making things worse for everyone else.

When people who have the ability to do otherwise buy the cheapest items available, it means they are driving down wages for those who make those goods.

They are supporting sweatshops.
They are forcing farmers to hire illegal immigrants.
They are requiring a minimum wage that is not a living wage.
They are forcing those at the bottom to struggle to pay their rent and put food on the table.
They are forcing those at the bottom to live in substandard and even dangerous housing.
They are encouraging a disposable society, where things are used briefly and discarded.

To make things worse, many of the people who purchase goods at prices lower than the cost of US production are the same people who are against providing any benefits whatsoever to the working poor.

They fail to understand the basics of TANSTAAFL.

We can’t have roads without taxes.
We can’t have schools without taxes.
We can’t have clean water without taxes.
We can’t have safe food without taxes.
We can’t have public health without taxes.

When people insist that the cost of goods remain low, the price still must be paid, but it is paid by those who manufacture and harvest and serve.

The mutilations and deaths of those in the meatpacking industries.
The injuries and deaths of farm workers.
The spread of food-borne illnesses.
Child labor.
A culture and conditions where poor working women are at constant risk for rape and sexual assault.

But what really makes me angry is when those who refuse to pay their taxes, and refuse to support businesses that pay a living wage, profess piety and claim the mantle of Christianity to hide their immoral and unethical behaviors.

Here’s the thing: I was forced to take six years of religion classes in school, and have had more than a passing interest in comparative theology as an adult, so I have more than a basic familiarity with the bible and the tenets of Christianity.

The bible speaks of caring for the poor and the sick. Of helping those in need and forgiving your enemies.

Nowhere does it claim that the poor need to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Nowhere does it say that caring for your neighbors is the responsibility of someone else.

Nowhere does it say that we should care for only the people like ourselves, and let the rest of the world sort itself out.

In fact, the bible speaks quite clearly on the subject of paying the taxes.

Matthew 22:17-21 (KJV)
17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?
19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.
20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
21 They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

If you choose to weasel out of the social contract, that’s fine. We have free will and are allowed to make our own decisions. But don’t expect me to respect you.

And don’t claim to be a Christian.

Written by Michelle at 6:44 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,Religion & Philosophy  

Thursday, August 25, 2016

On Swimwear and Modesty

I’ve been super confused by the recent news stories about bans in France on a certain kind of swimwear.

France’s highest administrative court is being asked to overturn beach bans imposed by 26 towns on women in full-body swimsuits known as “burkinis”.

Women are being fined for wearing modest swimwear.

Think about that for a few moments.

If you have any passing knowledge of history, you’ll be vaguely aware that less than 100 years ago, women were arrested or fined or removed from the beach for their swimsuits.

Because those suits didn’t cover enough of their skin.

Now we’re being arrested for covering too much of our skin?

Of course not. Not ALL women are being arrested, fined, or shamed for their swimwear!

Here’s a company that seems to be doing a good business selling modest swimwear to WASP women.

HydroChic’s core mission is to provide a stylish line of modest women’s swimsuits that at once combines the desire for chic expression on the beach and the consumer’s wish for modest swimwear coverage.

Here’s an article in the Wall Street Journal on the business of modest swimwear.

For years, Ms. Bolin, who is in her early 50s, searched for adequate bathing suits. Finally, she ventured out to her favorite Texas water park in a HydroChic outfit: Bermuda-length swim shorts and a three-quarter sleeve top.

Ms. Bolin said she still remembers admiring comments from lifeguards who loved her surfer look: “They thought I was the coolest.” She has never looked back

And that’s how it should be–a woman should be allowed to dress in a manner in which she is comfortable.

But yet women in France are being told that their manner of dress is not acceptable. That they don’t know their own minds and therefore cannot possibly have chosen to dress in such a manner, so therefore, they should not be allowed to dress in such a manner.

It’s 2016; how have we not reached the point where women can wear whatever the hell they want without some government stepping in to tell us they know what is best for us? That what we wear affects people OTHER than ourselves therefore we must toe the government line for how we clothe ourselves?

Why are more women around the world not ENRAGED by this?

Of course, some women are unhappy with these laws. Here’s a lovely image from France, of women who are standing up for their rights of their sisters to dress as they please:

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Note that none of the women are the least bit upset by how the other women around them are dressed. In fact, they seem to be enjoying the company.

Because that’s the point. We should support the rights of others to dress as they please.

Mind you, I don’t particularly want to see half-nekkid people, and the thought of sitting in a chair after someone wearing short-shorts squicks me out a bit but that’s my problem to deal with (which is why all my shorts come down almost to my knees). It doesn’t give me the right to order other people to dress in a manner that makes me happy and comfortable.

To close, here is a picture of my in MY swimsuit (no one mocked me or tried to fine or arrest me for my clothes).

20160612_Jules_Birthday_038

I don’t dress modestly because of some government or religious edict (in fact, I’m close to agnostic). I dress modestly because that is how I am comfortable dressing.

And that is and should remain MY choice and MY decision.

——

For the curious or interested, my top is a rash guard from Coolibar, which makes UPF 50 clothing and swimwear.

This does not mean I won’t mock creepy men who wear speedos and act like god’s gift to women. Because there’s dressing as you like, and then there’s being an asshole. The latter is always deserving of mockery.

Written by Michelle at 8:42 pm      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: Non-Sequiturs,Politics,Religion & Philosophy  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ethics Question

The recent anniversary of the Rwandan genocide reminded me of a discussion from years ago.

Sometimes I desperately miss those discussions, because it seems to me that if I don’t try to see why others believe the way they do, then my mind becomes stagnant, and I end up possibly holding wrong beliefs, because I can’t be bothered to stretch my brain.

The question that came to mind was:

Should we, as a society, use medical discoveries made during genocide & atrocities, ie, discoveries made by Mengele and others like him?

My opinion? I definitely fall into the Kantian category, but I’m perpetually curious about what other people think, and why, and of course I always like arguments that support my own belief.

Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (14)  Permalink
Categories: Religion & Philosophy  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Denial and the Human Psyche

The article on ScienceBlogs, Sharyn Ainscough dies tragically because she followed the example of her daughter, The Wellness Warrior is a fascinating and well-written read. I recommend you wander over and read it yourself.

But I was struck particularly by the closing paragraph, and what it means in a much broader context.

You might think that, seeing her mother die might have been a wake-up call that leads her to change the course she’s on, but I know human nature. She won’t. After all, if she admits that Gerson therapy is useless, even harmful, quackery that failed to save her mother, then she would be forced to acknowledge her role in the death of her mother. She would also be forced to accept that Gerson therapy can’t save her, either. These are both conclusions that Ainscough would likely find too painful to accept.

Those seem like conclusions that almost anyone would find too painful to accept.

How much tragedy and horror in the world are due simply to our inability as individuals to look at our past actions and see wrongdoing because that would be to recognize the cost of our mistakes?

The southerner who flies the confederate flag and claims the Civil War was only over states rights.

The spouse who claims their partner “didn’t really meant it”.

The parent who claims, “it didn’t hurt me any when I was growing up.”

It’s a defense mechanism. A defense mechanism that I truly understand. Admitting that you are wrong, especially if that caused another harm, is a very hard and very painful thing to do. It’s far easier to bend and twist facts to fit your belief system than it is to take a step back and truly consider the facts. To consider what it means if your beliefs and actions caused damage. Caused harm. Caused death.

No one wants that kind of pain, and I think our brains do everything they can to keep us from it. How many people are truly capable of honestly owning up to their mistakes, and the harm they caused?

How often do you hear someone say, “I was wrong” and truly mean it? Not very damned often.

Maybe Jack Nicholson had it right. Maybe we really can’t handle the truth–at least the truth we hide from ourselves.

When was the last time you changed your mind about an important subject? Really considered both sides of the topic? When was the last time you truly considered a view opposite of your own?

I sometimes think about Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, and I believe they have the right of it. The barriers to admitting the truth are high–higher than most people can reach. It seems to me that only by setting aside the fear of retribution can we truly do the work required to come to terms with our actions.

And only by coming to terms with our actions and stripping away our justifications can we begin to heal ourselves and those around us, and keep others from coming to harm in the future.

(NOTE: Believe it or not, this has absolutely nothing to do with the current political situation. It’s just something that I’ve been mulling over.)

Written by Michelle at 6:37 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Religion & Philosophy,Science, Health & Nature  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Something Missing…

I’ve often said that when it comes to faith and religion, I sometimes feel like I’m broken, or missing some essential part that others have.

One side of my family has a very strong sense of faith and devotion, and that has helped them through difficult times, as well as being part of general celebrations. (Perhaps to clarify, God isn’t just someone you turn to when you need help, but also someone you remember when things are going well.) Her faith was the most important thing in my grandmother’s life, along with her family.

The other side of my family, well, it’s never been discussed, but to the best of my knowledge, there wasn’t much in the way of church going. (I don’t ever remember my other grandparents going to church, or talking about god and faith.)

And then there’s me.

I was raised Catholic, went to CCD classes, went to mass every week and all the holidays, was in the choir, and got all the sacraments the way a Catholic girls is supposed to.

But at my Freshman year in college (at a Catholic university) I realized there was something missing from me. I didn’t seem to feel what others felt. Going to church was a boring chore I did because it was expected of me, not because I felt anything while there.

After college, before I got married, I tried to go back for awhile, but instead of feeling peace and calm and faith, I’d instead see people I knew to have done Bad Things, standing up and acting like role models. Instead of being inspired, I’d feel a sick anger, and think, “you harmed a child–what right do you have to stand there and act as an example to anyone?”

I’d end up leaving feeling worse than when I went.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many wonderful and amazing and inspiring people who went to my church–but they didn’t offset the emptiness I felt when everyone else seemed to be filled with the holy spirit and love and everything else.

So I stopped going.

I’d go with my grandmother, solely to make her happy, but I still didn’t feel anything, so at this point, the only times I go to church are for weddings and funerals.

This is why I read with fascination, a study about twins and faith:
What Twins Reveal About The Science Of Faith.

It’s not just me. Maybe there is something missing from my genetic make-up that makes me this way.

Funny thing is, I don’t know if this makes me feel better, or worse.

Written by Michelle at 5:35 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Religion & Philosophy  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rape, Fiction, and Doonesbury

As an addendum of sorts to the previous post, have you been reading Doonesbury this week? It’s a rerun, but it’s one I felt was very well done.

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Again, the whole strip is available on Slate.

You could say that rape isn’t a subject for a comic strip, except that it IS. Garry Trudeau is using his soapbox to bring the subject to the public’s attention. Because it IS a subject that most people do not want to talk about. It’s a subject that most people want to cover up, to close the door and walk by and pretend it doesn’t happen.

But it IS a subject that needs to be discussed and shown, and it is a subject that belongs in ALL genres.

Written by Michelle at 12:17 pm      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Religion & Philosophy  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

xkcd: Time

Hard to say what exactly where he’s going with it, but I’ve been running Monday’s xkcd comic in the background since yesterday.

To see if I’d missed anything, I popped over to the xkcd forums, and the commentary there is just as wonderful and fascinating as the comic.

I especially liked this:

xkcd time forum comments

“I love this comic. It makes everyone just stop and take their time. It’s contemplative. And it’s interesting how many people’s thoughts turn dark when faced with a quiet moment of contemplation.”

Lovely.

There are live updating gifs posted–it looks like this is going to go on awhile, since they last frames in the live updating gifs match what I’m seeing in the live frame.

Like I said before: lovely.

ADDENDUM the First:
Here’s the link to the auto updating animated gif.

Written by Michelle at 10:32 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Fun & Games,Religion & Philosophy  

Thursday, February 28, 2013

How Do You Want to Die?

I’ve been listening to Radiolab podcasts for awhile, and today, The Bitter End came up.

In an unpleasant coincidence, a friend’s mother died over the weekend, so advanced directives were already in the front of my mind.

This is a subject I’ve written about a lot over the years, because end-of-life care is something most people tend to ignore until it’s in their faces and they can’t ignore it anymore.

First and foremost, I want to congratulate West Virginia University for putting advanced directives and medical power of attorney forms out as something to be discussed NOW. Hell, PEIA will give us a $4/month discount for having filled out and submitted these forms, because it really is that important.

These are decisions that need to be made while and discussed with your loved ones while you are young and healthy.

Yes, it’s a hard thing to do, but it’s IMPORTANT.

In the podcast they interviewed a doctor who said he tries to ask his patients who are over 50, “How do you want to die?”

Good on him, except it’s not a question that should wait until we are 50 or 60 or 70, it’s something to be considered when you’re still young, because even if you are unlikely to develop a debilitating disease, you can still be struck by a bus or an infectious disease that renders you incapable of making your own medical decisions.

We all like to think that our loved ones would know what our wishes would be, but time and again this has proved to be not so for so many families. You know the ones–you probably remember seeing some of the legal fights splashed across the evening news.

Make sure there is nothing to argue about–put what you want in writing, and make sure your doctor knows your wishes.

In West Virginia you can file these medical papers electronically. If you don’t have that option, make sure you tell your family where these papers are.

Put your wishes down in writing.

Talk to your family about what you want to happen and/or where your papers are filed.

Go back to that Radiolab link. See that chart? That’s asking doctors what treatment they would want if they were were to suffer “irreversible brain injury without terminal illness.” When the same questions were asked of lay people–just your average person walking down the street–most of those responses were the exact opposite.

Why? Because doctors know things lay-people don’t.

Take CPR.

As opposed to many medical myths, researchers have reliable data concerning the success rates of CPR (without the use of automatic defibrillators) in a variety of settings:

2% to 30% effectiveness when administered outside of the hospital
6% to 15% for hospitalized patients
Less than 5% for elderly victims with multiple medical problems

(emphasis mine) Surprised by those numbers?

How about this?

risks of CPR include harmful side effects such as rib fracture and damage to internal organs; adverse clinical outcomes such as hypoxic brain damage; and other consequences for the patient such as increased physical disability. If the use of CPR is not successful in restarting the heart or breathing, and in restoring circulation, it may mean that the patient dies in an undignified and traumatic manner.

Think about that for a bit.

Is that how you want to die?

Once you’re done thinking, talk to your doctor about completing an advanced directive. Then discuss it when your family and friends.

Because these decisions and discussions really should not be put off.

See:
End-of-Life Care in the United States – August 17, 2009
At the End – May 1, 2008
End-of-Life Care – March 30, 2004
Related:
Death, Grief, and White Hot Rage

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Religion & Philosophy,Science, Health & Nature  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Compare and Contrast

Wrong:

5 years ago, I was disowned via letter when I came out to my father. This is how hate sounds.

Right:

Dear Hypothetically Gay Son

(I found those last week, but didn’t feel like posting them.)

Written by Michelle at 7:33 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Religion & Philosophy  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Comfort

I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?’ So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.
— J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5 “A Late Delivery from Avalon”)

I was thinking about this quote today as I was walking. My walking partner was out, so I was listening to my mp3 player and trying not to think too much, which is when I mentally stumbled upon the remains of the above quote floating around my brain.

Then I come back to my desk to discover that Janiece has been paralleling some of my thoughts.

It’s strange, but I DO take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe. The idea that ‘things happen for a reason’ fills me with horror. The very thought of it is repugnant to me: that God would be dealing out bad things and causing people–especially innocents–to suffer. I cannot accept the existence of such a being.

But if God set things into motion and then stood back to allow us to sort things out, much the way a parent must allow a child to make their own mistakes and live their own lives? That makes sense to me. That a God exists who allows us to make our own choices, even if those choices are bad, that makes sense to me. That God allows us to OWN our choices, be they good or evil, positive or negative or even neutral.

God did not create me broken. It is simply random chance. But within that I have the choice to overcome my brokenness or not. Some days I have the strength to do so, other days I don’t. But that’s okay. I think that God accepts me on the days I am broken as much as she accepts me during the times I am able to overcome. That kind of love gives me hope.

We all make our own choices, and we must live with the results of those decisions. But we are not immutable–we can change. We have the capacity to make decisions for good instead of evil, and that act of will fills me with hope.

Every time someone chooses to do good over evil, every time we witness a small kindness given without thought of reward, every time we overcome adversity… all these things fill me with hope.

It’s okay that the universe acts with general hostility and unfairness, because this hostile universe gives us the ability to act in a positive way. And when we choose to act to make the world a better place, all acts, be they large or small, fill me with hope.

It is this hope that gives me comfort.

Written by Michelle at 9:41 pm      Comments (6)  Permalink
Categories: Depression,Family,Religion & Philosophy  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

FOAD Notice

To Whom It May Concern:

Several events in the past couple months have brought me to the sad realization that I need to post this.

If you believe that you are morally superior to others simply because of your race, gender, religion, or sexuality, please un-friend me, remove me from your RSS feed, and basically never darken my door ever again.

Your possession of heterosexuality or a Y chromosome does not make you inherently better than anyone else, and if you think it does, I want nothing to do with you.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Michelle Klishis

Written by Michelle at 12:45 pm      Comments (4)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,Religion & Philosophy  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bitch

An interesting conversation occurred recently on Twitter. I was joking about my bad attitude, and said, “My attitude stems from ‘you’re calling me a bitch like that’s a BAD thing.'”

I was surprised to learn there are still women for whom that word has a sting and a bite.

When I was in college, I read (in Cosmo of all places) an article on the word “bitch,” which pretty much said that men use it as a term to put uppity women in their place. You know, like when we’re being strong, and assertive, and standing up for ourselves.

That was the point when I decided that the word bitch would never bother me, because I wanted to be a strong woman.

Of course, I spent several years confused about the term “strong woman” and precisely what that meant, (Note to my college aged self: You’re doing it completely wrong.) but eventually I came to terms with what it meant to me to be a strong woman, and I’ve been working on it ever since.

A couple years after college I came upon Elizabeth Wurtzel’s book Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women (I’m amazed that the cover on the current version is toned done from the cover on the version I have, which I love. How did a book praising strong women get its cover toned down?), which reinforced that idea.

…I intend to do what I want to do and be whom I want to be and answer only to myself: that is, quite simply, the bitch philosophy…

Here’s the thing, it’s not shocking for a man to believe and act in such a manner, but–even today–we’re still fighting over what feminism is or should be or who should make the sammich. (Every time I see one of the arguments I want to shut all participants in a very small, very dark basement, for a very long time.)

We can have all the debates about gender equality and sexism and male privilege we want, but it seems to me that as long as women are called bitches for saying what they think and for standing up for what they believe, it’s pretty clear what the state of things really is.

Misogyny still exists. Some of us still deal with it Every Single Day. And as long as it does I’ll willingly and proudly take the title of bitch. I will not sit down and shut up and be nice, just because that’s what society expects me to do.

I will laugh loudly. I will be brash and outspoken. I will tell you my opinion and you are free to debate me but you have to use rational arguments and logic. I will stand up tall and make my presence known and not stand in a corner waiting to be acknowledged.

I will continue be a bitch, and I’ll continue to proud to be called one.

Written by Michelle at 11:09 pm      Comments (5)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,Religion & Philosophy  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Death, Grief, and White Hot Rage

At the beginning of November I received one of those phone calls you dread–a friend was dead. She hadn’t shown up for work, and a co-worker went to her apartment where they discovered she had died over the weekend.

As we called other friends to tell them of the loss, we heard the same question again and again, “what happened?”

We didn’t know.

Over the course of the day we learned various details. She’d not been feeling well that week, and her coworkers and family had been worried about her. The thought was maybe she had pneumonia or an asthma attack, but those were all guesses. We wouldn’t know anything until the medical examiner’s report.

We talked a lot about her in the following weeks. She’d been unemployed and underemployed for the past several years, and at one point thought she was going to lose her apartment. But in the nick of time, as she was boxing up her belongings, unsure where she was going to go, she got a job offer. It wasn’t full time with benefits, but it was enough to allow her to catch up on her rent and not have to move.

She liked her job, and was delighted after so much struggle to be working again. We’d been so happy for her. Happy because it finally looked like things were turning around for her.

Then suddenly, she’s dead, without warning.

Any death is hard, but somehow it seems so much harder when it’s unexpected.

It reminds you that life is short, and you should embrace what you have while you have it, for you never know what tomorrow will bring.

It also reminded us that if we never know what will happen tomorrow, it’s a good idea to make sure your passwords and bank accounts are available for whomever comes after you and has to put away the pieces of your life.

Somehow, two months have passed, though it hardly seems like it has been that long. But it has, and the family finally received word from the medical examiner.

It wasn’t asthma.

It wasn’t pneumonia.

It was metastatic cancer.

See, when you’re unemployed and underemployed, you don’t have health insurance. And when you don’t have health insurance, you just suck it up when you get sick.

Unfortunately, there are some things that won’t go away with time. Things that only get worse if they remain undiscovered and untreated.

Metastatic cancer.

If you’re not clear on the term, that means the untreated cancer–wherever it may have started–spread throughout her body.

Spread until it finally killed her.

We cannot know whether a diagnosis and treatment would have prolonged her life. Chances are they would have given her at least a few months if not years.

But I do know one thing for certain: If she had been diagnosed, she almost certainly would not have died alone, without the chance say goodbye to those she loved.

So when politicians and talking heads claim that health care isn’t a right, when they claim that we have no moral and ethical responsibility to provide for the medical needs of every citizen, this is what happens.

People die alone.

And those who love them never get the chance to say goodbye.

Written by Michelle at 10:57 pm      Comments (7)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,Religion & Philosophy,UCF  

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wednesday’s Executions: Statements Presented without Comment

“If I saw (Lawrence Russell Brewer) face to face, I’d tell him I forgive him for what he did. Otherwise, I’d be like him. My mom forgave all three of them. My mom didn’t want violence anywhere.”
Betty Boatner, sister of James Byrd Junior

“What a travesty it would be if they don’t uphold the death sentence. … It’s time for justice today. My family needs justice.”
Joan MacPhail-Harris, widow of Mark Allen MacPhail

Written by Michelle at 10:22 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,Religion & Philosophy  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Some Numbers for Your Perusal

Here are some numbers:

Number of American children living in poverty (2009) 14,657,000 / 20.7%
Number of children in the US without health insurance (2008) 8,411,000
Number of children in the US who were food insecure (2007) 13,912,000
Infant mortality (2007) 29,138
Child deaths (2007) 10,850
Number of abortions in the US (2005) 1.2 million

Here are some comparisons:
Infant mortality < number of abortions Child mortality < number of abortions Children without health insurance > number of abortions
Children living in poverty > number of abortions
Children without adequate food > number of abortions

I often wonder about political priorities in light of what is really happening.

Written by Michelle at 10:10 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,Religion & Philosophy  

Friday, October 15, 2010

Deal with the Devil: What’s Behind the Door

So, the solution to yesterday’s puzzle of sorts, was that the devil tweaks your brain to give you incredible new creativity, but that also gives you Alzheimer’s disease.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Religion & Philosophy,Science, Health & Nature  

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Deal with the Devil

This week Eric is playing the oracle (or is it 20 questions?) and one of my off the cuff questions to him reminded me of something I read about a couple years ago.

The devil comes to you and says he can make a simple change that will spark your creativity and suddenly you’ll paint or write or create music with a skill you never had before. You do not have to sell your soul for this (but remember, this is the devil we’re talking about).

You can ask questions, but not unlimited questions. After all, he’s a busy nefarious individual and needs to get back to acquiring souls for eternal torment.

Do you take the deal?

ADDENDUM the First:
To clarify, it’s something specific I once ran across while perusing the medical literature.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (9)  Permalink
Categories: Religion & Philosophy,Writing  

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It Gets Better

This is hard to watch, but it’s also brave and wonderful and everyone should watch it.

Written by Michelle at 10:41 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,Religion & Philosophy  

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Note to Self:

Unfortunate events, though potentially a source of anger and despair, have equal potential to be a source of spiritual growth.
Dalai Lama

Written by Michelle at 12:39 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Depression,Religion & Philosophy  
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