Casino

Autonomy Versus Life: Suicide, Depression, Lifesaving Interventions, and Free Will

Autonomy, to me, is sacred. I value it more than I value other things, competing things.

The direct opposite of autonomy is something like coercion or slavery. But to the side of that exists infringements on autonomy we’ll call “care,” including suicide prevention and breathing machines.

An illustrative, if stark, example of autonomy violating care is the metal cage around the toilet in the in-patient mental health facility Ken White went to. As someone with “I own me.” tattooed on my arm, the thought of getting in the way of someone who wants to kill themselves badly enough to disassemble a toilet to do it pisses me the fuck off, to be honest. Then again, the in-patient doesn’t have the right to disassemble a toilet they don’t own.

The fly is my atomistic ointment is that full autonomy is impossible. We’re all fighting our own brains all the time, to one extent or another. The rider fights the elephant. My friend Jessica bravely fights to stop the state from prosecuting people who help their loved ones stop suffering. I couldn’t support her organization, Compassion and Choices, more. Yet even I can acknowledge that sometimes I’m out of my mind. At my lowest point, maybe I want someone to intervene until I can feel differently.

Full autonomy is impossible because there’s no central, unified you. Free will has very little empirical basis. Conscious thought is the loudest of the at least four corners of your brain all shouting at you at the same time.

The question of autonomy actually rests on this question: How much does the part of your brain you like have to be losing against the part of your brain you don’t before you’re willing to let someone else’s brain make decisions for you?

It’s a question evangelical Christianity tends to answer differently than, for example, atheism. It’s a little ironic that the belief system which includes a terrific afterlife would chain people to respirators while people whose best guess is that what awaits you after death is black void of nothing for an eternity advocate for getting their sooner.

When I was active in the evangelical church in high school and college I was part of what is sometimes called a “culture of life.” The culture of life holds that human life is sacred. God gifts life, and our job as Christians is to guard those lives. Because all human lives are precious to God, they are precious to us.

Sometimes the culture of life butts up against other competing cultural beliefs. For example, it conflicts with the conservative desire for law and order, resulting in the much-mocked support for the death penalty among people who consider themselves pro-life. It also conflicts with the sex-negative aspects of cultural conservatism. It’s been empirically demonstrated that giving out free birth control and teaching kids how to use it actually prevents abortions, while laws that close clinics mostly make it more dangerous. Yet conservatives continue to pass laws to shut down clinics while doing nothing to offer broader access to birth control or education because they can pretend these laws don’t result in women having later, more dangerous abortions, getting kicked out of their homes and beaten by their husbands. But they can’t pretend that birth control and sex education fail to properly shame and stigmatize sex they don’t approve of.

I’m a little pissed about evangelical Christianity’s sexual ethic, in case that wasn’t clear. Those rare examples of cognitive dissonance aside, my experience with evangelical Christianity showed Christians consistently demonstrating reverence for human life through significant, sacrificial care for living people.

For a recent example, we can look to Richmond, Virginia where my mom is laying in an ICU bed. My stepmom, one of my stepsisters, and my baby niece are planning to drive up from Hazel Green, Alabama to visit her. That’s 10 hours and six minutes of driving, with light traffic.

Like a lot of first wives and mothers of the kids, my mom was sometimes a pain in my stepmom’s ass. She isn’t malicious, but she was often overwhelmed. She needed a lot of help. He was always there, every time the toilet broke or when we needed a lawn mower. Dad spent way above and beyond the state-mandated child support. My stepmom never, to my knowledge, resented my dad doing for us, and for my mom.

In return, mom gave dad more visitation than she had to. Soon after he remarried, we were spending all weekend, every weekend with dad, my stepmom and our two stepsisters. We went to church with them, and nearly every Sunday after church we’d have lunch as a family. Mom was always invited, and very often joined us, after her church let out.

I brought my best friend home from college one weekend. The private Baptist college my dad and stepmom are still paying off. Neither of her kids went to college. She told me later than when she heard my mom was coming over after church, she got anxious, ready for a showdown. It amazed her to see my mom and stepmom chatting happily, catching up, as they’d done since I could remember.

Inextricably linked with the culture of life is the culture of care. I’ve never seen it in my liberal, secular, rational, urban life like I saw it in the Southern Baptist churches of my youth. Ken Crane from church provided a last-minute babysitter, Christmas presents, church camp — things a single mother has a hard time getting together, provided by believers in the name of Christ. Mrs. Bruder, hunched over at the waist from rheumatoid arthritis, and her husband drove a school bus to pick up kids whose parents couldn’t or wouldn’t take them to church. These kids were neglected, and a handful. But she was unfailingly kind.

Sure, I haven’t shamed anyone about their sex lives since I left active church membership. But I also haven’t shoveled the remnants of someone’s home, still shit-covered from the broken sewer line, years after Katrina. I haven’t made small talk with strangers with dementia in a nursing home. Nothing is stopping me. And there are plenty of people who embody the culture of care without Christ. But there’s nothing driving me either, anymore. I’m no longer part of a community where that kind thing is expected.

Here’s another bugger about autonomy: Humans are terrible at predicting how we will feel.

When the Terri Schiavo case hit the news, I so fully immersed in the culture of life I absolutely could not empathize with the other side or comprehend the argument that her feeding tube should be removed. They seemed like callous Nazis to me. They seemed to look at her like an animal who needed to be put down. She was a person, not an impediment to her husband’s next marriage. Not a cost on a spreadsheet. Her life was sacred.

Until very recently, I viewed my own life as sacred. I always thought I’d want every medical intervention, for as long as possible. And I told everyone this, since they’ll likely have to convey the information.

But seeing at my mother in the ICU has shaken my desire for that. I didn’t realize how rudimentary pain management still is. After massive physical trauma, you basically have two choices. One: You can feel terrible pain from recovering from the surgeries and massive stapled up cuts. Don’t forget the discomfort from the breathing tube stuck down your throat and forcing your mouth open, cutting into your lips and drying your mouth out, drainage tubes coming out of your side, needles stuck in your arms, and boots that squeeze your legs to prevent blood clots.

Or, you can feel numbed, hazy, disoriented, confused, and sleepy. The only problem is, you’re not really getting better when you’re feeling that way. You need to get stronger to get off the breathing tube. You need to be alert and awake and fighting. Not numb and sleepy. So you can be in terrible pain and discomfort and get better. Or you can feel hazed out and just kind of atrophy.

Between Terri Schiavo and now, it’s not so much that I changed my mind on life being sacred. It’s more that I decided that autonomy is more sacred. There are a lot of reasons for this. The biggest is that as I began to see how freedom to make self-directed choices create innovation and prosperity. Technological innovation makes more of something people desire out of the same or less of what people have. It’s how lives get longer, better. It creates free time to read, learn, play. Property rights and the risk of failure, freedom and autonomy, people making choices in a market economy, that’s how you get innovation.

It’s also how you get progress. Challenging authority and dogma and starting to base your ethics around something other than superstition helps defeat bigotry and fear.

So it’s not actually accurate to say I see autonomy as more sacred than life. I respect the sacredness of life by supporting autonomy, because I believe it improves the quality and duration of life for the most people.

So I tattooed “I own me.’ on my arm and starting supporting assisted suicide and opposing abortion laws. Ultimately, I want a world which more fiercely guards autonomy than intervenes to make sure every person who’s ever lived lives as long as possible.

It’s not so much that I changed my mind on Terri Schiavo or the culture of life or life-saving interventions. It’s that I’ve recognized that the tension isn’t between loving people and Nazis. It’s between care and autonomy. It’s an argument between respecting someone’s agency and picking up the slack when their body breaks down or the shitty part of their brain takes charge.

Ken White at Popehat writes about needing to “put myself in the hands of the people who care about me.” Because, “As the Bloggess says, depression lies. Depression tells me that it’s never going to change. Depression tells me that there’s no hope, that I’m going to feel this way forever. Depression tells me I’ve tried everything to get better and it doesn’t work. Depression tells me that I’m a failure as a husband, a father, a friend. Depression tells me that I suck at my job — that if clients are happy with my work it’s only because they are deluded.”

I’m not depressed, I’m anxious. The lies my brain tell me include that my mother would be better off dead, because recovering is going to be grueling and painful, and her life is horrible and lonely and stressful anyway. It says my boss is disappointed with me and lying to me about being a good worker so I don’t quit before they can find a better replacement. It says that everyone is laughing at, not with, me for my writing and social media posts. It says that despite being utterly obsessed with myself, I ironically have zero self-awareness. It says I’m actually much, much dumber than I think I am. That I make people really uncomfortable in social situations and people hang out with me only out of morbid curiosity and pity. That my breath is bad. That there’s something in my teeth or on my face or my hair looks horrible. That I’m going to get fatter. That my IBS is going to get worse and my body will fail me but I won’t be able to afford healthcare so I’m going to die early because I chose to write for a living instead of doing something profitable. That I’ll never have another enthralling romantic relationship because I’m too emotionally healthy to get into another fucked-up relationship but too fucked-up to get into a healthy one. Also I’m wasting my beauty and youth. Also I’ll regret not going to grad school. Also I’ll regret not having kids.

This bitch in my brain makes life a little less enjoyable, denies me some sleep, tires me out, reduces the quality of my social interactions, etc. She works against the interests of the part of my brain that knows that my boss is being straight with me and some people genuinely enjoy my company.

I think of the first one as me and the second one as not me. There’s Cathy and there’s Bitch Cathy. Which makes me wonder. Would someone else forcing me to do what Cathy would want against what Bitch Cathy wants actually make me more autonomous?

We say depression lies and I personify my anxiety as Bitch Cathy, but of course it’s more complicated than that. Sometimes my anxiety is right. Sometimes I’m about to get fired. There’s evidence that for some people the threat of bad things happening is a more effective motivator than thinking about future rewards.

Bitch Cathy creates a lot of worst-case scenarios and loves to waste cognitive energy worrying about things that never happen so I have less brainpower to devote to the unanticipated problems that continually arise. But luckily for me, so far she hasn’t issued any directives other than “leave this relationship” or “leave this job.” She certainly doesn’t tell me to do anything I’d need someone to stop me from doing, like killing myself.

The question of autonomy comes down to when you’re willing to give control to someone else’s brain because yours has crapped out. Neither my brain nor my body has crapped out enough yet that I feel like I can know.

It was easy for me to be blithe about the preciousness of life until I’m staring down at my mom’s bruised, swollen face, bloody breathing tube, and unfocused gaze. And it’s easy to be blithe about my right to total autonomy until I contemplate Bitch Cathy getting louder and more demanding.

Autonomy, at the end of the day, requires a self that simply doesn’t exist. There are multiple selves, all competing against each other at all times. And constantly changing. At the same time, the society I want to live in requires a great deal of respect for agency. Care can’t justify people trampling on each other. It can’t force people to live miserable lives they desperately want to end. The empirical economic research strong supports that being free to make choices makes societies richer and healthier on average. Meanwhile, neuroscience strongly suggests that free will is merely an illusion.

The only thing I know about the tension between life and autonomy is that it exists, and they’re both important. I changed how I feel about autonomy and life. Would I want someone to keep me around until I changed my mind about killing myself? Would I want someone to force me to shit the bed while I scowled in pain, unable to speak?

I only know enough to know that I don’t know.

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How The Hunger Games Made Me a Libertarian

We’ve got another awesome Sex and the State guest post! If you would like to submit a guest post, please fill out my contact form with an brief outline of what you want to write about.

I hated The Hunger Games movie. It was so depressing and morbid. What could be worse than watching children battle to the death on a reality show in a totalitarian dystopian future? It made me feel hopeless. What would make our teens and young adults like such a bleak tale?

I decided to write a book to give them hope: Blessed Are They That Hunger-Young Adult Fiction, America and The Bible. I wrote about loss of peace, loss of justice, and loss of personal freedom in America. I predicted many of the abuses revealed by Edward Snowden as I wrote about the Patriot Act, as well as what Obamacare would cost in compromised liberty. I created a Facebook fan page to promote my book called Hope For The Hunger Games Fans.

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As I compared the themes of the Hunger Games Trilogy to America today, I realized that maybe The Hunger Games resonates with the younger generation because they get it. They understand that we are just a breath away from that fiction becoming a reality. There are more laws constraining today’s youth than my generation had and they already feel the iron fist of an unfree society. I grew up in a freer world that they may never know. I gave them hope that we still have the tools to make it free again and the hope found in the Bible for all of these ills.

As I found memes on Facebook to share the message of liberty and a return to a freer America, the posts of one of my friends seemed to mirror what I was saying and I continuously posted them on my page. He was promoting The Libertarian Party. I didn’t really know much about the Libertarian Party. I knew they had something to do with Ron Paul, who I had voted for in the 2012 primary. I liked the fact that Liberty was in their name. I had been a staunch Republican all of my adult life, but found myself increasingly disillusioned with what the Republican Party had become. The name now seemed to represent hate and war. As a Christ follower I do not have the stomach for either.

My friend noticed I was reposting his stuff and invited me to a mixer for the local Libertarian organization. I felt like I had come home among the libertarians. I could freely discuss my conspiracy theories with no judgement and plot to take over the world and then leave it alone!
I quickly became impassioned about spreading the Libertarian message and volunteered to help manage the group’s Facebook page. Within a few months I was the Vice Chair Pro Temps and a year later I was Chair of my County’s Libertarian Party. Somewhere along the way I had renounced my Republican roots with nary a thought.

My involvement gave me the opportunity to meet Ron and Rand Paul, Governor Gary Johnson and various proponents of Liberty from around the country. I found my voice as a political blogger and thanks to the support of the original Blue Republican Robin Koerner, was interviewed on his radio show and got hundreds of views on my blog for promoting them on his Facebook page. I also had the opportunity to be a guest as well as host a local cable show “Libertarian Counterpoint.”

I have been a contributor to Watchdog Wire.com and Liberty Chat.com and a guest blogger on Sex and the State.com. Thanks to The Hunger Games my eyes have been opened-I was blind but now I see. The floodgates have opened and I am joining the cry for Liberty and Justice for all Americans and the World.

The battle for liberty is seems daunting but it is worthy. Change is happening and I am hopeful for our future.

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Cindy Biondi Gobrecht is the author of the book Confessions of a Christian Twihard My Life Lessons and the Twilight Saga  and newly published Blessed are they that Hunger-Young Adult Fiction, America and the Bible both available on Westbow Press. She lives in Sacramento, California and is a Sales Director for Mary Kay Cosmetics. She is single with a daughter who is in the Marine Corps Band stationed at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California. Cindy has a BA in Linguistics with minors in Literature and Anthropology from the University of California, San Diego. Cindy led Bible Studies for all ages for over 30 years in churches in California and South Carolina. She is Chair for the Sacramento County Libertarian Party. Her blog is www.cindybiondigobrecht.wordpress.com

polyamory

Polyamory Doesn’t Equal Cheating

We’ve got another awesome Sex and the State guest post! If you would like to submit a guest post, please fill out my contact form with an brief outline of what you want to write about.

A recent article from The Guardian delved into a common issue associated with polygamy and polyamorous relationships—cheating.

Guardian contributor Emer O’Toole described a recent interaction with a man at a party, where the man expressed his desire to be in a relationship like O’Toole’s, a polyamorous arrangement. When O’Toole asked the man if he discussed the possibility with his partner, the man said she was too traditional and narrow-minded to consider it. He then flatly told O’Toole that he cheated on his girlfriend because she wouldn’t go for a polyamorous relationship.

O’Toole made his opinions of the man’s actions known, calling it an “unfortunate attempt to use poly identity as an excuse for shitty treatment of his girlfriend.” But his story brings up an interesting point: people outside of polyamory seem to think it’s a form of cheating. However, O’Toole made it clear that that is not the case or the mindset of those within the community.

While he admitted that it’s not easy to define polyamory, he has no trouble explaining what it isn’t. “Poly isn’t cheating. It isn’t lying. It isn’t a disregard for the agreements you share with the people you love,” he wrote. “And it certainly isn’t positioning monogamous people as more blindly traditional or less emotionally evolved than you.”

Unfortunately, it seems that the man O’Toole ran into isn’t an isolated case for those looking to branch out from their partner. According to a survey about cheating performed by Adam and Eve, there are several reasons why people decide to cheat on their significant others. Most people (45 percent) claimed it happened out of the blue, but 33 percent said they cheated because it was exciting. After that, 30 percent claimed sexual boredom as their reason while 23 percent simply said they were lonely.

While people may associate these reasons with the drive to be polyamorous, the real reasons behind the decision to be polyamorous has little relation to cheating at all. According to this post at Love More, one partner isn’t searching for another because they’re unhappy with their current partner, which usually leads to cheating. Instead, they want to love their partners equally, sharing their intimate feelings emotionally, spiritually, and physically with both. Then, when outside desires no longer have to cause the end of relationship, you can create a polyamorous relationship that is stronger, more open, and more honest than any monogamous relationship could ever be.

Now, that isn’t to say that people in polyamorous relationships are more evolved or at all better than those who choose monogamy. Actually, perhaps polyamorous site More Than Two describes it best when they say that “Poly people have a different preferred relationship style, that’s all.” The writer at that site continues to state that “I’ve seen monogamous people who are enlightened, passionate, caring, compassionate, wise, and benevolent people. I’ve met poly people who are selfish, inconsiderate jerks.” In conclusion, it seems that “people are people,” meaning that you can be pretty much any type of person, regardless of your relationship model.

I couldn’t agree more.

Angela Peck is a twenty-something freelance writer and photographer. She lives in Knoxville, TN, with her two rescue dogs, Bits and Bobs.

Sophia and parents

New Learn Liberty, DPA Documentary is Pretty, Moving, and Kinda Late to the Game

For new readers, let me warn you that I’m an asshole. However, I’m a true believer that all publicity is good publicity, so trust me when I say that I’m writing this out of love. Learn Liberty is definitely the best thing IHS has going right now. While I consider most of the team close, personal friends, I say that earnestly and as impartially as possible.

You should definitely watch their latest video. It’s a beautifully shot, moving documentary about Sophia Nazzarine, a 7-year-old girl who suffers from epilepsy which can only be controlled through medical marijuana.

This is a personal issue for me. I suffer from a digestive disorder for which cannabis is the most effective medicine. My ex has Crohn’s disease and cannabis is the only drug shown to put it into remission. My sister and her fiance are moving to Colorado this summer to help move the cannabis industry forward. (Plz comment if you have any job intel)

Legislation has been introduced by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-­KY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D­-NY) to allow states to allow patients access to this powerful, effective medicine. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States­ CARERS ­ Act is the first-ever bill in the U.S. Senate to legalize marijuana for medical use and the most comprehensive medical marijuana bill ever introduced in Congress. Obvs I support it and am grateful to these organizations for bringing awareness to the issue.

Onto my gripes. Get bolder! Medical marijuana already has majority public opinion support. Sure, there are some holdouts, but fuck ‘em. Put this money, time and energy into ginning up support for more contentious issues. A great topic for exploration would be why most anti-sex trafficking bills would actually hurt sex workers. I’d love to explore why we should legalize all drugs. Let’s go deep into how the Chicago Police Department is disappearing citizens into CIA-style black sites. I want a documentary about how the FBI is infiltrating Mosques, entrapping hapless Muslims, and claiming it’s fighting terror.

For new readers, my philosophy tends to be go big or go home. If we want to change anything, human stories like Sophia’s are the ones we need to be telling. Please share this video/post so this documentary does well. This is already a huge step forward from their previous videos, which tend to be more dry and academic. Hopefully Learn Liberty raises the stakes again with the next one.

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Sex Advice From a Fuck-Up: He Doesn’t Want Up In These Guts

Text from a girlfriend:

I’m “dating” this guy. I don’t really date but he straight-up asked me if I wanted to be his monogamous girlfriend. I was like uhhh I guess.

He’s hot. And we have lots of mutual interests. We’ve been dating for about six weeks. He won’t have sex with on my period, I can tell he’s uncomfortable going down on me. I’ve literally dropped my towel — ass naked — and told him to fuck me. And he’s like, “I’m busy.” Or “I don’t feel like it.” Also he was uncomfortable when he accidentally rolled over onto my vibrator which I accidentally left under my pillow and was weirded out that I’ve had sex with a girl. Are these legit reasons to break up? Had to share, want your opinion.

First thoughts, he sounds like he’s not super into vaginas. In my experience, people who enjoy vaginas aren’t weirded out when they bleed, get masturbated, and have sex with other vagina-havers. It also sounds like his sex drive is lower than yours. Bottom line: These are all perfectly legitimate reasons to decide someone isn’t an ideal partner, especially a monogamous one.

However.

When I was younger, I felt rejected and insecure when my partner’s sex drive dipped below mine. Since then I’ve learned that my sex drive is unusually high. Plus, the difference between men’s and women’s average libido is much smaller than I’d been conditioned to believe. And there’s much more to sex drive than attractiveness.

Ideally, a lower sex drive is an inconvenience, not a source of angst. But you’ve got to be real with yourself here. If it gives you angst, is this something you can work through?

What would still give me angst about this guy is his apparent attitude toward my ladyparts. I’m not saying that an aversion of indifference toward a pussy means misogyny. Clearly not all gay men or asexual individuals hate women. But it does set off some alarm bells. Beyond that though, I just can’t imagine having sex with someone who’s not crazy about my vag. Seems like a drag to feel like my partner is freaked out by or indifferent about getting all up in these guts.

Side note: One of my favorite memories is an early boyfriend who got down there and stayed there. It wasn’t about pursuing a goal to make me come and proving he’s good at it. Instead, he took the tack that he didn’t know what he was doing and wanted to learn. He took his time, no pressure, no hurry, just learned by experimentation how I liked being touched. It’s never happened like that since. I certainly can’t see it happening with someone who doesn’t adore your pussy.

But, I’ve also discovered in my nearly 30 years on this planet that not everyone uses sex as a basis for making decisions to quite the extent that I do.

Being partnered up is something I used to take for granted. Six months ago, I became single for the first time. Since then, I’ve been thinking for the first time about whether I want to be partnered again. Partnership has many benefits outside of sex — stability, shared property, economies of scale, the simplicity of knowing who’s going to pick you up from the hospital.

In many ways, partnership is actually antithetical to good sex. Women’s sexual attraction to their partners drops off more significantly and faster than men’s. And research shows women actually need more novelty for arousal than men do. A good friend of mine doesn’t have sex at all with her husband. She’s probably not the only one, but she’s the only one who’s upfront about it with me.

Truth be told, it just seems odd to me that the person I live with, buy groceries for, and pick up from the airport needs to be the person I fuck. Those are completely different activities, are they not, with different requirements?

What I’ve figured out is that for the purpose of making my life easier, friends are much better than boyfriends or husbands. Being single has given me the time, and impetus, to develop a nice squad. They specialize, so one doesn’t have to be good at meeting all my needs. Their number means one is likely to be free when I need help. And my friends don’t get jealous when I talk to other friends.

But the other thing I’ve figured out is that while friends will work in a pinch for the purpose of sex, they’re really far inferior to a romantic partner. Mutual respect and emotional intimacy are kinda necessary for great sex for me, and getting to that level with multiple people just takes a ton of time and work.

So at this point, I couldn’t imagine partnering with someone for any purpose other than mind-blowing sex. It’s the one thing a partner can more easily provide than my friends. (I’m not buying a house or having kids tho, that may change the calculus.)

And I think as long as couples are honest about the need for novelty sex can stay fun, or ideally improve, as time goes on.

So, if this dude is ideal for having kids and buying a house with, and sex isn’t important to you, or you can work out a poly arrangement, and he’s definitely not a misogynist, I say go for it. If not, I say break up with him, lean on your friends for practical and material support, and go find someone who really wants to get up in them guts!

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Heterosexual Christians Want The Government Out of Their Bedroom Too!

We’ve got another awesome Sex and the State guest post! If you would like to submit a guest post, please fill out my contact form with an brief outline of what you want to write about.

There is an old saying that marriage is like flies on a screen door — the ones on the inside want out and the ones on the outside want in.  This seems to be true in the debate over gay marriage.  I wrote in my blog  about a new law in Oklahoma that was proposed to end the legalization of marriage by privatizing it to avoid the federal laws causing states to legalize gay marriage.

I write about how I agree with this, because I believe marriage is a sacred rite, and not something that should be regulated by the government.

Apparently, I am not alone in my feelings and, in a new twist over the debate, I have found a Christian couple that refused to have the government “legalize” their marriage.  They opted not to get a marriage license because they felt that the government should not have control over their marriage. They had a marriage presided over by their pastor and witnessed by family and friends.  They created their own contract, not unlike the contract used in Jewish wedding ceremonies, signed and witnessed by the attending pastor.

They did not go down to the country clerk’s office to get the government’s permission for something that (they believe) is deeply personal, between and man and a woman and the God of their faith.

As I reflect on this, it reminds me of how African-American slaves created their own ceremony to sanctify what was then an illegal union by “jumping the broom.”

In a recent article by Jeffrey Tucker he equates marital laws in the U.S. as a form of eugenics.  These laws were instituted to control who could legally procreate.  The laws outlawed interracial marriage and to this day in some states a clean bill of health is required for marriage-as Tucker puts it, “To plan the gene pool just as socialism planned the economy. The ambition was to wipe out undesirable recessive genes in one generation.”

So maybe it is time to get the government out of our private relationships.  Maybe it is time to take a stand-like my Christian friends and say “no” by opting out of legalizing marriage at all.  Maybe we could then opt out of the thousands of intrusive laws that tell us what to eat and drink and put in our bodies and who we can do business with and what kind of written consent you need to have sex and on and on and on……

We are only as free as the laws of the land allow us to be.

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Cindy Biondi Gobrecht is the author of the book Confessions of a Christian Twihard My Life Lessons and the Twilight Saga  and newly published Blessed are they that Hunger-Young Adult Fiction, America and the Bible both available on Westbow Press. She lives in Sacramento, California and is a Sales Director for Mary Kay Cosmetics. She is single with a daughter who is in the Marine Corps Band stationed at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California. Cindy has a BA in Linguistics with minors in Literature and Anthropology from the University of California, San Diego. Cindy led Bible Studies for all ages for over 30 years in churches in California and South Carolina. She is Chair for the Sacramento County Libertarian Party. Her blog is www.cindybiondigobrecht.wordpress.com

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The Subreddit That Proves I Know Absolutely Nothing About Straight Men

http://www.reddit.com/r/wtsstadamit

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I have a lot of male-dominated interests, and a lot of male friends. And yet, at the end of the day, I am a straight(ish) woman with no brothers, a dad who lived 30 min away while I was growing up, no stepdad until I was in my mid-20’s, and no fucking clue how the straight male brain works.

It’s not for lack of trying. The boy crazy started early. Before the guy friends, who started once I grew (little) boobs and they started being able to see me. But no matter how much I write about bitcoin or how many graphic novels I read or how many times I argue anarchy vs. minarchy I still am continually surprised by them.

I’ve been told that guys don’t really talk about sex amongst themselves, except in the broadest terms. I’m not sure I believe that. I’m always trying to get all my friends to dish to me. I didn’t name my blog Sex and the State just for the clicks. So this morning one of my best dude friends gchats me “do you know the wtsstadamit subreddit?” I’m a casual reddit user, so I’m not surprised I don’t. Then he types:

When
the
Sun
Shines
Through
a
Dress
and
Makes
it
Translucent

http://www.reddit.com/r/wtsstadamit

And I go. And I’m a little horrified.

The first memory it brings up is in college, a friend photographed me and my future husband backlit with sunshine. It was a beautiful photograph, well composed. Except my skirt, unbeknownst to me, was made translucent by the sun. Being an extra skinny bitch back then, you could tell exactly where my cootch began.

The second is far further back, to YMCA camp. We went swimming every day, so every year I got a new bathing suit. I’m not sure how I noticed that boys were staring at me underwater through their goggles. But someone definitely had to explain to me why. That bitch puberty’s decision to show up had unfortunately coincided with my ill-fated choice of a white bathing suit. I’ve always been a tiny person, so maybe the manufacturer didn’t anticipate the thin white fabric having to cover actual lady parts? It never occurred to me that white fabric goes see-through when wet, and that this might be of interest to anyone.

That general cluelessness impacts my interaction with straight men to this day.

So yeah, the whole “oops you can see my goodies” thing. I get it. I think. Maybe? I mean, surprises are nice. They weren’t for me either time, because, you know, I knew to be ashamed once I realized I’d been showing basically my naked body to everyone at the YMCA camp pool and my cootch to people walking by me in the sunshine at Samford.

So is that the appeal? The good, modest woman who made a mistake? The sneak peek you’re not supposed to be getting?

But the women in the photos on reddit don’t look ashamed, or unaware, to be ashamed later. At least the ones who have faces in frame look like they’re fucking owning their sun-made translucent dresses. So maybe it’s just a novel way to show, but not fully show, lady parts.

To be honest I’m still taken aback that a woman’s body, devoid of context, is of such interest to straight men. None of the boys staring at me underwater ever tried to talk to me. That was the greatest ambition of mine, to know boys, to hear their thoughts and get acquainted with their hopes and dreams. I remember it was high school before I really, really wanted to see any boy naked.

I remember a year or so ago following all these Tumblrs with gorgeous photos and gifs of beautiful men and women in various stages of undress and coitus. And I’d scroll through regularly for a while, maybe weeks, maybe months. But it was a phase. Without context it got boring to me and I haven’t done it for a really long time.

What is the appeal? How is this not boring as shit? Maybe men make up a backstory. “Angela loves the feel of sunshine on her skin through a thin layer of linen. She grew up in Alaska so…”

Who knows. It’s taken me thirty years to figure out that I haven’t changed much since middle school. I like writers who are much smarter than me and know exactly what to say. I love men with rich inner lives — I can’t resist the urge to plumb depths of emotion and analysis. My husband was a Philosophy major. That boy in high school was a poet with a penchant for peppering his speech with phrases from hip hop and a canny awareness of what one needs to say to an insecure literary magazine editor to make her want to drop her panties. If someone could approximate that with a Tumblr that would be awesome. For now the most erotic medium for me is Twitter.

Now I’m imagining a straight dude reading Will Moyer thinking, “This is boring as shit. When does someone get naked?”

ted

Where is Ted Cruz on Bitcoin?

On Monday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz announced that he’s seeking the nomination for GOP presidential candidate at Liberty University. His stump speech included goals such as abolishing the IRS, securing the border, growing the economy, and protecting religious liberty. Cruz did not mention bitcoin or cryptocurrency, getting closest with “Imagine innovation thriving on the Internet as government regulators and tax collectors are kept at bay.”

The four years following 2016 are likely to be transformative for bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Earlier this year, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss announced they had recently began building a “fully regulated” Bitcoin exchange. As peer-to-peer, decentralized payments systems come into their own, regulators will have to balance consumer demands for risk pooling with entrepreneurs’ need to have the freedom to innovate.

On the issue of entrepreneurial freedom, Ted Cruz has been fairly clear. “Which has greater innovation: the United States Post Office, or Facebook and Twitter? Which has greater innovation: Taxi commissions in local cities, or Lyft and Uber? Every time you put unelected bureaucrats in charge of the market, they stifle innovation,” CNN reported Cruz saying at Reboot Congress in February.

MSNBC quoted him as saying “The principle I’m going to suggest to you is, don’t mess with the Internet!”

Cruz supports auditing the Federal Reserve, and on Twitter took a jab at expansionary monetary policy:

expan

While Cruz might be sympathetic to tech innovation, his campaign has not quite mastered it. People trying to donate to his campaign were stymied by 404s and redirects. Those who found his actual home page found it lacking an SSL certificate, or basic encryption to prevent you from donating to Nigerian princes. Speaking of, when a Vox reporter manually typed in the “https” prefix to the URL, they noticed that “nigerian-prince.com” is listed as an alternative domain for Ted Cruz’s campaign donations.

Cruz is the first Republican to announce a campaign for the 2016 nomination. He will likely be joined by Kentucky Representative Rand Paul, who has been vocal in his support of bitcoin. At Reboot Congress, MSNBC reported that Paul, “bantered easily back and forth about Bitcoin currency” onstage with TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington.

Cuomo to Public Schools: Stop Destroying Our Kids

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The absurdity starts immediately. “At 8 a.m. this morning I was shivering outside PS 10 in Park Slope.” Way to make the story about yourself, bro. Gothamist memoirist Jake Dobkin is a rally to protest Governor Cuomo’s education budget plan.

Kids sang “All we are saying is give Public Schools a chance… testing, testing, all we do is testing… Listen to us Cuomo, give Public Schools a chance,” to the tune of John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance.”

So what are these terrifying proposals? Cuomo wants state-administered tests to weigh more in teacher performance evaluations for grades three through eight. That’s because while 97.5% of New York public school teachers for grades three through eight are rated “effective,” only one-third of their students are proficient in math and English language arts, according to the passing rates set by the state. He also wants to raise the charter schools cap and give parents some choice in their kids’ education. Or, as Dobkin writes, “force public schools into a Darwinian competition for dwindling public financing.”

It’s odd that New York’s public school teachers can teach kids bastardized John Lennon songs to protect their underperforming colleagues, but can’t teach more than a third of them how to read.

The biggest problem with protecting schools from Darwinian competition is that there’s nothing to protect students from it after they drop out or graduate. While teachers can stay employed their entire careers while utterly failing literally two thirds of their students, no such protection from market forces exists for those illiterate children.

Perhaps a victim of New York public education herself, parent Amy Schwartzman was quoted as saying “Cuomo’s plan to fire teachers whose students don’t test well will destroy our public schools. This plan creates so much fear that teachers will feel they have no choice but to do endless test prep.”

It’s not clear to me how one destroys something that is already broken. Nor is it any clearer how test prep would be anything but an improvement over whatever is currently happening in New York classrooms, as I assume that in the course of test prep all students would learn reading and basic math.

City Councilman Brad Lander is as bold as Schwartzman is dense. “We demand the $2.7 billion that New York owes our kids. Our public schools are too important to be held hostage to anyone’s political agenda.”

Being a politician, perhaps he could explain how using public school students to protest in order to protect teachers from competition and evaluation isn’t holding schools hostage to anyone’s political agenda, but trying to reform a broken education system is.

In fact, if I had to assess which political agenda was holding schools hostage, from innovating, from competing, from hiring and firing at will, I’d look to Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers. She and Mike Mulgrew, current president of the United Federation of Teachers, took turns answering the question at the rally: “Whose school? Our school!” How right you are.

Dobkin is himself a product of New York public education, which may explain his deficient critical thinking skills. Walking home from the protest, he ponders “how much worse off my life would’ve been if my family hadn’t had access to free public schools.” It’s a sentence as self-absorbed as it is irrelevant, as no one is threatening state-sponsored, compulsory K-12 education.

I also thought about all the good teachers I’d had in those 13 years, and wondered if any of them would go into teaching now, with all stress that comes with testing, and all the politicians constantly blaming the performance of schools on teachers, instead of say, poverty or lack of funding.

Who would want to work a job where half your yearly evaluation was based on something you had very little control over?

Everyone. Everyone wants to teach in New York. Probably because you can get rated effective by only teaching a third of your students.

What would happen if we fired all the teachers with low-scoring classes, since most of those teachers work in schools in the poorest neighborhoods? How would you replace all those teachers?

They’d be replaced immediately. New York is currently facing an oversupply of teachers. There are more people who want to teach than teaching jobs, despite testing requirements and badmouthing politicians.

Dobkin doesn’t need to muse on these questions. He can Google “job market for teachers in New York” just like I did to find the answers. But he doesn’t, and he gets published anyway. Maybe the real world isn’t that Darwinian after all.

sex-criminals

I never write anything when I’m happy

I never write anything when I’m happy

It’s funny that for my love of positive psychology, which begins with the idea that maybe people interested in mental health should study mental health, and not exclusively focus on mental illness, I never, ever write when I’m happy. I’m always angry, or at the very least irritated, or sad, or disturbed. These feels make me write.

I guess it’s because there’s nothing more boring than someone else’s happiness. Ughhhh. Yay for you! Happy families are all the same, etc.

I like positive psychology so much I actually read books about it. What is more exciting than the idea that you can, through “mere” habit, alter your baseline level of happiness? Nothing. That’s what. But lately I’ve been reading other books. The first is a history book, Modern Times. A great friend who I want to be a closer friend recommended it to me. After gently poking at me for not reading books. Sorry I have zero attention span or interest in something that’s been available for public consumption for more than a few hours. #sorrynotsorry

But it’s good. The writing is dry but sassy, if that makes sense. And the other book I’m reading, well, it’s a comic book. I LOVE Strangers in Paradise, but I haven’t read a comic book since high school. But, I’m doing this fake girl geek thing right now, with the purple hair and comic book movie and a recent Dr. Who party I invited an amazing girl to after she couldn’t come to the comic book movie, for which I customized a TARDIS dress (no I didn’t sew the whole dress, weirdos. I would have sewn one that actually fit me. I bought that one when I was skinny). So I bought Sex Criminals, and fuck me if it isn’t the best thing in the entire universe.

tardis

As I told the friend who has me reading history, you can pry my funny memoirs about people with fucked-up families from my cold, dead hands. I do read those books, along with blockbuster YA fiction. And the occasional, like one every three years, chick lit book. Like Jennifer Weiner or Gone Girl.

Sex Criminals is that, but with art and sex. God, it’s so good.

Speaking of good things, and friends, I’m at another friend’s place tonight and she puts on this video.

Which is, you know, everything. And I’d literally just suggested another friend fill his bare wall with Metamorphosis of Narcissus that afternoon.

Anyway, I can usually rant about something with a proper outline when I’m pissed. But when I’m happy? Why? Is it the fact that I feel good about my speech for Alt SXSWi? Is it that I’m really happy for my sister on her engagement to a wonderful woman? Is it my beautiful, interesting, hilarious friends?

Earlier I was thinking that I’m at a job which is clearly meant for people with families. But I have a family. I have one that’s bound to me by DNA in Pentagon City, Virginia, Virginia Beach, Virginia, Huntsville, Alabama, Beavercreek, Ohio, Houston, Texas, and Niceville, Florida, at least. And I have one that’s bound to me by nothing more than a willingness to put up with my awkward, foot-in-mouth, failed-to-land joke making, self-absorbed ass. And they give me book recommendations and show me awesome videos and give my jokes mercy laughs. And I’m happy.