Thursday, July 24, 2014

Another Botched Execution and Horror

News Radio gives me stuff to think and write about.

Last night, Arizona tried a new drug combination to carry out the execution of inmate Joseph Wood.  The process required 117 minutes before Wood was finally pronounced dead.

I have written about botched executions before and, while other executions have been done without incident, it is still disturbing that there are so many recent failures.  I believe it is because we no longer have a source for obtaining the drugs that are known to work - and now states are now left with trying new and unproven methods for lethal injection.

All this I can understand.

But what really got my jaw on the floor was the statement by Richard Brown, brother-in-law of Debbie Dietz' (the victim whom Mr. Wood murdered)  He is quoted as saying:

“This man conducted a horrific murder and you guys are going, let’s worry about the drugs.  Why didn’t they give him a bullet, why didn’t we give him Drano?”

I understand the pain of loss.  That senseless murder.  The need for justice.  I know there are masochistic monsters inside us.

But we have to evolve beyond that and we have to be better than the murderers.   We develop lethal injection because, in the view of U.S Court, it is legally acceptable.  When it deviates outside of the normal is when the law must take notice and take action.  It has yet to be determined whether the process that happened last night was a violation of Mr. Wood's Eighth Amendment Constitutional Right (where a government cannot impose cruel or unusual punishment or torture).

Should we even consider those who are wrongfully-imprisoned?  A recent study says we get it wrong more than four out of one-hundred times.  Does an innocent man deserve Drano?

Ask yourself, if you were to be murdered, would you want your kids to avenge you - risking their own futures?  Or would you want them to forgive and live on?  If they were murdered, do you think they would want you to seek blood in return?  How much blood do you think they would want?  Or would they rather see you better than their own killer?

Forgiving a killer does not lessen your love for those around you.

This is why cease-fires are so difficult to attain.  Right now, the death toll in Gaza is over six-hundred.  That's six-hundred individual instances where they have to put their bloodthirst aside for peace.  Six-hundred individuals must unanimously decide for forgiveness.

It's just about unfathomable.  Especially if the social-constructs that bind people together, be it government or religion, don't foster the idea of forgiveness or, worse yet, proclaim revenge-killing as acceptable.

It's very hard to forgive, I won't deny that.  And if some radical comes around saying "it's OK to kill your killer." that's pretty enticing to someone who has just lost their entire world.  But we should try to retain that little voice that tells us something's not-quite-right about that.  Something we realized in kindergarten.

We'd have more time to play on the swings if we weren't so consumed with revenge.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Daddy Issue: Drug-Sniffing Dog Services

Here's another one from an NPR snippet:

Parents can now hire the services of a drug-sniffing dog to search their homes for illicit substances.  During the interview, a dog and handler were able to locate a private stash of heroin that was hidden inside a family recliner.  The quantity was, in the handler's opinion, not enough to warrant police involvement and the father's mood changed from immediate disownment to wanting to help his daughter get clean.

I can understand the recent popularity of these types of services - parents become more and more distant to their aging teenagers and communication breaks down quite easily.  Teenage independence gives way to invasion of privacy - which the article also touches upon.  I can just imagine that calling for a drug search means you have a suspicion of what is going on in the house, but you somehow need that final confirmation to act upon.  Moms and dads start looking for EVIDENCE and talks become defensive and confrontational - if there's even a talk to begin with.

We can all become out-of-our-element when dealing with our own children.  I think the key is to earn the respect of our kids - talking becomes easier when both parties are seen as equals.  Especially if illegal drugs are involved, then we're way past grounding or spankings.  Know that heroin in the home is a reflection of the entire family - and blame should be acknowledged equally.  Try to reach that common ground on why drugs were tried in the first place and progress from there.  Show your child that you have that unlimited amount of love and forgiveness, no matter what they've done or how bad the situation is.  If they need rehabilitation, they're going to need your strength as well as their own to get through it successfully.

Ignoring it makes it worse.  Incarceration makes it worse.  Turning them away altogether makes it worse. 

Make it better.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Daddy Issue: Male Birth-Control Research

Right now, there's a company called the Parsemus Foundation that is working on (still in animal trials in the U.S) a very important product.  It is a form of reversible male birth control called Vasalgel.

A little bit of history, male birth-control similar to Vasalgel has already been in use in India under the name RISUG for fifteen years.  The U.S has not adopted RISUG because of stringent FDA regulations, hence the market for Vasalgel.  How, exactly, does Vasalgel work? 

1.  A chemical is injected into the vas deferens where it stays active for between TEN and FIFTEEN YEARS.
2.  The chemical's positive charge, in effect, shreds the spermatozoa as they travel through the gel.
3.  To reverse the control, another opposite-charged solution is injected.


Yes, dudebros are now clutching their Ed Hardy necklines, bemoaning the fact that they have ANOTHER thing to be responsible for - not to mention they may be averse to anybody injecting anything with any kind of needle anywhere near whatever a vas deferens is.

But, as my hero Bill Nye would say, "Consider the Following":

1.  This renders you seedless like a grape*
2.  No more unwanted requests to be on "Maury"
3.  This is totally reversible*
4.  It only has to be done once and will probably outlast your procreative years*
5.  It gives you EVEN MORE control of your own fertility - no more relying on her daily pills or norplants or copper wires or vampire-bat-blood
6.  Bro, it don't even hurt*
7.  No side-effects for her anymore
8.  No side-effects for you*  The gel does not impede the flow of other fluids through the vas deferens.
9.  The drug costs less than the needle they use to administer it
10.  Hobby Lobby most-likely will allow it under their health insurance plan

I am ALL DONE having kids, so I've subscribed to their newsletter in the rare chance they need test-subjects in the New England area.  I do regret not getting a vasectomy when presented the chance.  Men, it's time to man-up and take the shot.  Give her what she wants and don't give her what she doesn't want.

Currently, the Parsemus Foundation has successfully completed tests on rabbits and are now seeking funding for tests on baboons.  Once that phase is successful, then human trials begin.  The Parsemus Foundation is a charity, not a for-profit organization, so public fundraising is currently underway and donations are gratefully accepted and desperately needed on their homepage.

Caveat:  This is only, I repeat, ONLY for contraception.  This will NOT PREVENT the transmission of any sexually-transmitted disease.  That is not what this is designed for.  Please practice safe sex every time.

Can I just say vas deferens one more time?  No?  okay.

*-pending test results

Close Quarters: Moneyballing Mates and Munchies

Here's what I'm reading this morning:

Moneyballing (yeah, I'll learn that later) certain aspects to get a lasting relationship.  According to Tasahiro, moneyballing is "..all about finding undervalued traits and assets in the dating market. And, just like with baseball, it starts with trying to ignore the superficial indices of value — attractiveness, wealth — in favor of hidden attributes with a stronger correlation to long-term relationship success."

It's not a matter of lowering one's expectations - rather, it's about changing the expectations altogether.  Instead of looking at the cover-of-the-book, it's advised to look at other traits that will strengthen both of your compatibility and lead to better sex and a longer lasting relationship.

One of my biggest flaws choice of food.  Now, I'm not at any immediate risk of a heart-attack - according to my excellent doctor who doesn't put me through a horrible quality-of-life.  But I will admit (I am munching on a Frosted Brown-Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tart at this moment), that my food choices are not-ideal - in that they are not kale.  I know this is a sticky point for my wife, because she also has as much willpower against ice-cream that I do.

I can't be the only one in this situation.  My metabolism allows me to somehow eat all of this delicious chemistry and not gain weight from it - but my wife is not so blessed and bemoans the bathroom scale.  She relies on me for the food shopping and cooking, so it is a challenge to undertake researching healthier foods to buy and prepare while not going bankrupt at our local Whole Paycheck.

I mentioned quality-of-life and I need other people to recognize it as well.  Many will argue that a life spent eating kale and raw oats is not life at all, especially when compared to a life of eating perfectly-prepared bacon.  Us New Englanders are all-too-familiar with Puritanical doctrine and we are quick to equate SUFFERING with Godliness (really, it's the only way to survive the winter Nor'Easters).  I find the zen buddhist approach more attractive in that "If you are hungry, eat."  Also, mad props to Buddha for appearing as a happy, fat, Asian dude.

So, this is one struggle that we are battling in our lives.  Yes, our pet iguana eats better than we do, but at least we're happy sharing a chocolate shake together.

Take that, kale.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Daddy Issue: The Economic Impact of Dad

I was listening to my other NPR station on the drive into the office today (yes, I have two to choose from) when I caught the last few minutes of a piece on fatherhood and the impact it has on the larger society.  If WGBH happens to post it, I'll update with a direct link.

The statement that drew me in was "a deadbeat dad has a measurable and significant cost to taxpayers in the form of incarceration, lowered education, and unemployment"  What is really significant is that this effect doesn't end with just one man - it is perpetuated into the next generation in his children.  Social programs have been trying to make fatherhood a more-attractive lifestyle choice and one place where it is being focused is in prisons.

A social-worker commented on how she viewed a recently-released prison inmate.  She saw him in his car driving along and he had his children in the back.  This was success.  Not just re-integrating a man back into society, but having him assume his responsibilities as a father.

One of the interviewees simply put it as "growing up" and I do agree.  Being able to "put aside childish things" and placing the needs of others (especially when it's your own child or your niece or nephew or your wife) before your own is a stage of maturity.  Staying in school, toughing-it-out in some cases, recognizing that these efforts do eventually lead to better opportunities and an easier life later on is a gamble worth taking.

So how can we keep families together?  We as a society must spend an embarrassing amount of money, time, and personal resources when we don't get along.  What can we do to stay together and live harmoniously?


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dad Tech: Kudoso Kickstarter and the Chore-Router

Now, more than ever, it seems that internet access is becoming more-integrated in our daily lives.  We seem to be tethered to our personal clouds and social circles.  Keeping our secure information online seems routine now as opposed to ten or even five years ago.  Online storage has proven itself more-convenient over maintaining your data in your own basement.  In extreme cases, people prioritize high-speed internet connectivity over water.

My home is no exception - it seems the kids are always consuming media or socializing with their remote friends whenever they have a moment of down-time.  For the majority of the time, it has not been an issue.  However, it only takes that ONE time where I end up texting the wife something like:

They were delicious.

Well, they would've been, if I were a less-patient father.

Which is why the Kudoso Kickstarter caught my eye.  They are developing a home-internet solution where the internet access is controlled by an application.  This application is then able to meter internet usage based on certain criteria - like chore completion.  You can install this on any compatible router, or purchase the router and software together.

So, if Megan picks up all of her fuse-beads, she can be rewarded with internet access time.  If Cameron unloads and loads the dishwasher, he earns enough sessions to complete his Minecraft pagoda.  You get the idea.

It's the same as earning an allowance, but without the hassle of having to handle currency (who uses cash anymore, anyway?)

I know there are those of you out there saying "just TAKE the computers away?  Why do you need to complicate it with spreadsheets and routers?!?"  and that's a fair point.  But I think this technique teaches the kids about currency, value, work, and reward instead of just "you can't have this - PERIOD".  When you say they've earned 45 minutes of surfing time, it's exactly 45 minutes - no more, no less, no arguing, and no drama.

And if they don't learn that, they'll probably learn how to reset a router.  I can't be angry at that.

I suppose it'll be just a matter of time before a child is in the middle of a crucial online campaign when the time runs out and they start begging mom to let them do the laundry.  (Yes, I dream big).  Who knows?  Eventually, they may even just do their chores without having the bandwidth limitations in place...