Why should we let people commit suicide?

The most recent cover of People® magazine has a full cover photo of Brittany Maynard, who has chosen to end her life rather than suffer through the end stages of cancer and just take pain medication until things end “naturally”.  Blogger Ashley E. McGuire attacks both Brittany and People in this post.

I don’t like going after someone personally, and I don’t intend to try to shame or attack Ms. McGuire.  I do hope to give some perspective on a more compassionate view, as I take exception to her proselytizing to someone else over something I gather from her article she has not personally experienced.

I have lost five very dear people to cancer, and know many more still fighting with it.  Cancer destroys in a huge swath, hurting not just the person with the disease, but family, friends and community as well.  The disease itself can affect motor and brain function, and the treatments themselves can sometimes speed a patient’s demise.  Even if they don’t, the medicines used seriously weaken a person, and can cause all manner of mental issues like strange mood swings and even hallucinations.  There are also the emotional impact of disfiguring issues such as losing hair and, in the case of breast and cervical cancers, parts of the body that a person feels makes them who they are.  Sometimes a person has to chose between getting treatment and losing an unborn child or refusing treatment and not living to see the child born.  In short, cancer is not a life event to be taken lightly, and it is unfairly judgmental to preach to someone afflicted with this about how they chose to deal with it.  Especially in Mrs. Maynard’s case, where the doctors have told her her only option left is administering pain medication until her body shuts down. Continue reading

Why can’t we learn to be good losers?

People worry about how they want to raise their children.  Their babies should be smart, strong, well-mannered, industrious, confident, and many other good qualities.  Basically, we all wish for our kids to be winners.  No one would dream of teaching to lose or to fail.

Teaching kids how to lose is as important as teaching for success.

Unfortunately, we are pushing so hard to make sure our special snowflake never has to feel the sting of coming up short at something, they are ill-equipped to handle adversity when it sneaks through our hovering.  That may not happen until we turn them loose on the world, and then they are in emotional crisis because they never had to figure out how to bounce back from anything. If everyone gets a trophy just for showing up, they get no value out of their effort.  Additionally, without a little adversity and struggle, winning seems empty as well if everyone gets the same reward.  So in our battle to make every kid a champion, they never learn how to be good losers or winners.

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Why Couldn’t We See The Tears Of The Clown?

Every Thursday starting in the fall of 1978, I had one thing on my mind: Mork and Mindy was on tonight!  I often used television as an escape from a not very happy childhood, and the wild and unpredictable humor of Robin Williams was cathartic.  When he started making movies, I did everything I could to see them all.

Robin Williams soon became one of the most-recognized comedians in the world, on par with the likes of Bill Cosby and George Carlin.  He brought joy to millions with movies like Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs. Doubtfire.  He also sought to raise morale for the military with dozens of USO excursions.  What none of us knew was that Robin Williams’s ability to make us laugh was fueled by hiding behind humor to avoid his inner demons.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, over 170 million people in the world suffer from some form of depression.  The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates one in four adults in the US suffer from some form of mental illness.  Mood disorders such as depression are the third-most-common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both children and 18-44 year old adults.  One in 17 Americans live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.

Robin Williams had been fighting bi-polar disorder for years.  He masked his pain with the laughter of others.  Many people who are bi-polar find ways to hide their suffering because they don’t want others to know they are hurting.  Attitudes toward mental illness are getting better around the world, but we are a long way from removing the fear and stigma it carries.  Continue reading

Why Should People On Welfare Be Allowed To Vote?

I saw something on Facebook a while back that got me thinking.  At first I was completely behind it, as it was talking about ways to reform public assistance.  It talked about taking most everything but basic staples off of food stamp programs.  If you wanted things like “steak and frozen pizza” you had to get a job.  It also talked about mandatory birth control and drug testing if you wanted to stay on public assistance.  Not sure I fully agree with the birth control thing, but it would keep from putting new kids on welfare rolls, and I definitely agree with the drug testing.  If you want to have children or do drugs, then you should be getting a job.  Next was public housing, which would be expected to be maintained in good working order and inspections would be possible at any time.  Again, if you wanted housing you could destroy as you saw fit or wanted things like an Xbox, you had to get a job.

But then things started to get a little questionable to me.  The next part talked about either presenting a pay stub from a job or you would be assigned a government job, such as cleaning highways or government housing.  Unemployment insurance exists so that if someone loses their job, like many Americans have lately, you can get by until you find work similar to what you had and for which you have the skills.  Forcing someone to take whatever job the government sees fit to give you sounds a lot like Communism to me and I will not get behind that.

The part that really got me came next.  The post asserted that while on public assistance, you would relinquish your right to vote as it would be a conflict of interests.  Regardless of your employment situation in this country, or lack thereof, everyone over the age of 18 in this country has the right to vote.  That right is only dependent on citizenship and not having committed a felony.  Taking the right to vote from people just because of no employment would lead to huge amounts of disenfranchisement throughout the populace. Continue reading

Losing Weight Is A Heavy Burden

More than one-third of U.S. adults (34.9%) are obese.  Additionally, almost twice as many women as men who are not overweight think that they are. 25.3% of men and 47.9% of women defined as within their normal weight range think they weigh too much.  Whether it’s actually needed or not, that equals a whole lot of people with weight concerns.

Sadly, even when we know better, changing for the better is hard.  While millions of people run out each January determined that this will be the year they lose weight and get in better shape, most people quit the gym after 6 weeks.

Hard to break the obesity cycle






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Incorrectly Politically Correct…Again.

Recently, a long standing philanthropic event at Dartmouth College was cancelled because one student chose to portray it as “the Americanization of Cinco de Mayo and its construction as a drinking holiday in the United States”.  It doesn’t matter that Cinco de Mayo was not mentioned anywhere in the event.  Or that it wasn’t even happening in May.  Or that no alcohol was actually being served at this event.  Or even that it was a charitable function for cardiac care and a worthy cause.

The event in question was to be called Phiesta (pronounced like the traditional Spanish word “fiesta”) as it has been for years.  It was to feature Mexican inspired cuisine such as burritos, and virgin margaritas and daiquiris.  The proceeds would have gone to aid people undergoing cardiac care.

Apparently, only people of Mexican heritage are allowed to use this kind of “Spanglish”.

The blowup was caused by a single email from Class of ’15 student Daniela Hernandez, who also railed against “cultural appropriation and the inappropriate usage of cultural clothing, and the exploitation of groups of people and cultures for the sake of business opportunities.”

Phi Delt president Taylor Catchcart explained why the Greek organizations folded.  “We felt that the possibility of offending even one member of the Dartmouth community was not worth the potential benefits of having the fundraiser,” he said.

While she may be personally offended, there is no law protecting one from offense.  Other things people seem to think they have a right to but don’t are detailed in The Bill of No Rights by Lewis Napper.  I would be willing to bet she has also not read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury about a futuristic dystopia where all books are banned because any of them could offend someone.

I won’t go into the hypocrisy of the fact that most of the people seeking the “business opportunities” Hernandez spoke of are Mexican owners of Mexican restaurants.  I have decided instead to play her game by her rules, and lay out some things from other cultural backgrounds she should avoid to prevent the offense to others she feels entitled to herself.

I am predominantly Irish by descent, so I have decided she is no longer allowed to drink green beer on St. Patrick’s Day.  Up until the 1970’s, this day was considered a Holy Feast day and pubs were closed in Ireland.  Also, she clearly does not consider herself Irish.  I must admit, it really bugs me that people who have no attachment to Irish culture go out and use this as a day to drink themselves stupid.  However, I would never impede another’s choice of evening, regardless of how boorish they intend to act.

There is a long list of other things, to prevent Miss Hernandez from offending others, that should cease immediately.  They are listed below.

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Why can’t fathers take more time for their family?

In 1993, the Family Medical Leave Act was passed, primarily to allow mothers to take time off from work to have children without losing their jobs.  But the wording of the act also allowed a rather revolutionary idea: fathers could take time off for the birth of their children as well.  At the time, some fathers were already allowed this opportunity but is wasn’t exactly encouraged.

Since this act’s passage, many fathers have taken advantage of provisions not only to be there for the birth of their children, but also to spend a least a couple days caring for mom as well, should they be so disposed.  All these things are positive changes for the good of families, encouraging men to take more active roles in their children’s lives from day one.

Some people don’t agree with this mindset, however.  Some men still see the man’s role to hold a job, make as much money as possible.  Basically, a material provider while mom handles all the emotional squishy stuff.

In the middle of this debate is New York Mets star, Daniel Murphy.  This man missed a the first couple games of the season, completely within Major League Baseball’s labor agreement, to be there for the birth of his child and see to his wife’s welfare.  Pro sports commentators railed against this.  Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason even went so far as to say, “Quite frankly I would’ve said ‘C-section before the season starts.”  Never mind the very misogyny of telling your spouse what to do as opposed to deciding as a family, C-sections are not something you should do for convenience. Continue reading

Why Is Tom Brady Considered Great?

To stay relevant in the offseason, nfl.com does a lot of fun things to keep fans checking things out.  Right now they are using the bracket idea of your March Madness office pool to create a tiered survey as to who the fans think the best quarterback of all time is.  This subject creates a lot of argument among fans, some bandwagoning on the newest thing, some taking a more historical perspective.  My man Russell Wilson is coming up a lot.  I love that he took my beloved Seahawks to the Super Bowl, but I am withholding judgement until he gets a few years on him.  Guess that puts me in the old school camp.

Tom Brady’s frustration mounts through the years

To make things fair, the QB Bracketology is broken into eras for the first comparisons.  Sitting at the top seed in the Right Now bracket is Tom Brady  of the New England Patriots.  I would have agreed a few years ago, before Eli and Peyton Manning figured out how to deny the Patriots championships.  Peyton Manning has even managed to stop Brady on two separate teams.  And Eli should probably put Tom on his Christmas list.  He wouldn’t have two Super Bowl Rings without Tom’s help, after all. Continue reading

Why are single moms being painted as villains?

In 2012, there were 24,725,000 single parent families in the United States.  That accounts for 35% of the families. The vast majority of those families are headed by mom, as nearly one in three children in this country live without a father.  While it is not requisite to have a male figure in children’s lives, statistics bear out that life is more difficult for these kids.

Boys without fathers are twice as likely to go to jail. 63% of youth suicides come from fatherless homes.  85% of children with behavioral disorders live without fathers.  Kids without dads have a 71% dropout rate in high school.

I was about four or five when my parents divorced.  Mom and I moved to a new state, and she began the process of trying to rebuild a life that got off on the wrong foot with my father.  Obviously, I did not know this at the time.  All I really knew was that my dad was not around any more.

Like many little boys who don’t know any better and need their father, I put a lot of unfair blame on my mother.  I didn’t know my father didn’t send a dime to help support me until I was almost seventeen.  I didn’t know my father chose to live away from where I did for personal reasons.  There was a lot I didn’t know, because kids just don’t understand some things.  I just knew that unlike some little boys, my dad was not around.  And it made life a fearful place.

Daniel Beaty summed up what it is like to grow up without a father in his performance piece, Knock Knock.  Things that a father should teach his son, but isn’t there to teach.  Things that little boys who grow up without a father or male role model must try to figure out themselves. Continue reading

My Long Relationship With Cancer

Cancer is probably the worst thing a person can experience.  Most people are lucky enough not to know someone with cancer.  I, unfortunately, am not one of them.

I was ten years old when my cousin, Michael, died of cancer, specifically a mass in his brain.  He went from being a very active teen to being bed ridden in just a few months.  After several painful and body wasting treatments, he passed at the young age of thirteen.  So began my relationship with this horrible disease.  To my cousin’s credit, he resigned himself to his fate early.  He bravely told his doctors to try anything, not for him, but to learn so they could help other children.  I have always been humbled by his willingness to go through so much to help others he would never meet.

Since my cousin’s death, there have been several others I have known that have dealt with cancer in some form.  Breast, liver, lung, and even bone marrow cancers have affected friends and family.  Some treatments have thankfully been successful, but not all.

Just for children, over 175,000 are diagnosed with cancer worldwide each year.  Around 13,500 children are diagnosed with cancer in the US in that time.  In total, nearly 1.7 million new cancer diagnoses happen each year in the US.  That is just slightly less than the population of Wyoming, Washington DC, and Vermont.

Throughout the world, about 14 million people learn they have cancer and 8 million people die from the disease each year.  If you took every person in the Caribbean except Haiti and the Dominican Republic, there would still be almost 4 million people receiving a cancer diagnosis.  If you take away Puerto Rico, you would have the rest of those island nations all dead every year. Continue reading