Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hypotheticals and Intrinsic Value of Humans

Hello again. It's been a while. I've been a bit busy. Got my substitute teaching license and turned in paper work. Now I'm just waiting for the next steps in this whole "getting a job" process.

Yesterday on twitter a pro-abortionist/pro-choicer who has written some science fiction novels posted a hypothetical situation in which he tried to "gotcha" pro-lifers.  He claimed that his hypothetical is novel, but it's really not.  He also claimed that it puts pro-lifers in a bind except that it doesn't.  Ben Shapiro did a great job explaining in two formats no less why this hypothetical falls short.

and if you'd rather read

While the thought experiment was a miserably bad one, it highlighted one very important thing. Pro-abortionists do not believe in the intrinsic value of human beings. 

Intrinsic value is a philosophical concept.  It's one that's shared by religious and secular humanists alike. Secular humanists stop at where the concept emanates from (God, it comes from God), but they understand the concept.  It's also enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.

So what is intrinsic value? From a philosophical point of view, it's that a thing, person, or animal has value in and of itself.  Basically because you are a person, you have value regardless.

Extrinsic value is assigning value from the outside.  My family and friends have greater extrinsic value to me than a stranger does.  A fully-abled man has more extrinsic value to the work force than an elderly one.  So on and so forth.

Extrinsic value has no weight on the intrinsic value of a person.  Please re-read that.  I can say that my husband has more extrinsic value than your husband does to me, but that does not limit or define that your husband and my husband both have equal intrinsic value. 

What does this have to do with abortion?  Loads.  The justification for abortion comes from viewing all human worth as being extrinsic value.  An unborn baby is only valuable if someone (usually the mother) has assigned it this value according to the pro-abortion crowd.  So when this hypothetical situation was proposed it was proposed on this premise.  Except I don't know of anyone who does not acknowledge the concept of extrinsic value. 

The glaring issue with the hypothetical is all it proves is that pro-abortionists don't see the concept of intrinsic value while pro-lifers do.  If there is a "gotcha" to this hypothetical it's that pro-abortionists sit in good company with slave masters, racists, eugenicists, and sexists who all can't see the intrinsic value in human beings.

Pro-lifers in contrast acknowledge that because all humans have intrinsic value therefore we cannot take a human life.  This doesn't mean that we will treat everyone extrinsically the same. I'm sorry. My responsibility is to taking care of my own children before taking care of someone else's.  Self-preservation is perfectly fine.  And so on. 

This is why the fire hypothetical falls short.  I'm not throwing embryos or 5 year olds into a fire. I'm not setting a building on fire in order to murder people either. It's not a moral equivalent to murder at all.  Whereas abortion is always always always wrong because it's taking the life of someone of intrinsic value. 

Objectively abortion is always wrong. Always. Subjectively assigning extrinsic value does not change that objectively humans have intrinsic value.  Why can't pro-abortionists acknowledge this? Just be honest. It's objectively murder. It's seeing that other humans have less value. 

Monday, September 25, 2017


My dad has dyslexia.  He's the only family member that I know of that does.  He's not sure if he was ever formally diagnosed but back in the day he remembers his teacher telling his parents that he was dyslexic.  My father started 1st grade at 4.5.  Re-read that.  There was no kindergarten when he was a child so he started in 1st grade and then because he was dyslexic and having a hard time he repeated the 1st grade.

Fast forward and my youngest child is struggling in language.  Oh, he's great with math and numbers.  He can create mind boggling things out of stuff from my recycling bin.  But learning his letters or remembering words is a struggle of epic proportions. 

Not only is he speech delayed, but he can learn a letter only to "lose" it the following week when a new one is added.  He also struggles to read.  He's been put into the special reading lab to help youngsters catch up.  And we work on these concepts daily.  Daily.  We also read every night and have since he was born.

But he can't see to hold those abstract concepts in his head.  That's what his teachers think anyway.  He's almost 6 though and they are worried that it could be something like dyslexia.  For now it's too soon to give him a diagnostic.  Most of the kindergarten tests are based on auditory skills.  He hears just fine and like his mother, is most comfortable there.  They don't start the visual testing until 1st grade.

So in the meantime, we keep plugging along and trying to make the abstract concept of 'the' as concrete for his brain as possible. 

And yes, I realize the irony.  My oldest child learned his letter complete with sounds when he was 3 and moved onto reading at age 4.  My youngest knows a handful of letters and he's almost 6.  They go at different paces and have different struggles.  I should point out that my oldest has behavioral problems, which he's improved a great deal on, while my youngest received the Building Blocks Award for this month for his class.  Building blocks is having good character ie behavioral traits. We just go with it.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Yes, I'm titling this post after a Nirvana song. No, I'm not going to talk about Nirvana, song lyrics, or Kurt Cobain.  I'm going to talk about deodorant.  Despite Cobain not realizing it when he titled his song, Teen Spirit is a brand of antiperspirant.  If you were a teen in the 1990s, you would remember the popularity of this particular brand.  I'm also going to talk about stink and armpits.  Let's dive in, shall we.

What is deodorant?

A deodorant is a substance that prevents odor.  People don't actually cause this odor.  We sweat and bacteria living on the surface of our skin break down our sweat.  The bacteria causes the odor that we smell.  This is why small prepubescent children smell different than adults because some bacteria are more attracted to our hormones that we also secrete.  In other words, they produce a different smell.  You can tell when a child is going through puberty by the change in body odor.

What is an antiperspirant?

It's a type of deodorant, but a very specific type.  It's used to block your pores from sweating.  The most common substance in an antiperspirant is aluminum.  There's a great deal of controversy over whether using aluminum to essentially stop up your pores causes cancer.  Specifically certain types of breast cancer.

Regardless of whether antiperspirant does or not, I get a little leery of changing an important body function because I'm trying to avoid the body funk.  Humans need to sweat in order to cool off their bodies.  And I live in the desert Southwest where it reaches high temperatures and it's real common for people to suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  It's even written into our laws that businesses must provide free drinking water (even if it's just a fountain) to any person and that all land lords are required to have a cooling unit for their tenancy (heat isn't required).  So I want my pits to sweat.  I'd rather smell than die.

I don't want to smell even if I want to sweat...

I'm with you there.  It has landed me on a several month long journey to find something that works for me.  Something that allows me to sweat but not make my husband what to move away from me.  So here's how it works.  I'm avoiding the antiperspirants that block you from sweating and looking closely at how other deodorants work.  The vast majority of plain deodorants put a layer between your skin and the bacteria that eat your sweat.  And some also mask the smell with fragrance.

Deodorant #1 (not pictured):
The first deodorant I tried I made myself.  I used a combination of baking soda, which absorbs odor, coconut oil, which naturally kills bacteria, and essential oil, which masks the smell.

Well, my husband frowned about it, but after trying several others, he likes this one better.  The downside is that coconut oil has a low melting temperature.  This is great for being absorbed into your skin, but bad if you live in my climate.  I was having to keep my concoction in the refrigerator in order to keep it solid.  It's also bad if you are easily irritated by baking soda.  Thankfully, I am not.  So if you live in a colder climate and blessed without that baking soda irritation, then making your own probably will work well for you.

Deodorant #2: Crystal Body Deodorant
This particular brand uses mineral salts as it's main ingredient in it's products.  You can buy it in the mineral stick form that you wet, a spray, or a roll on.  I choose the roll on.  It's main ingredients are water, potassium alum (mineral salt), cellulose (plant material), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda for all you Americans), benzoic acid, and zinc gluconate.  I got the fragrance free version.

It doesn't work well.  My husband said I smelled.  And I was forced to reapply it multiple times a day (and night) which dried out my skin and thus irritated it.  That said many people have said they get good results for using mineral salts as a natural deodorant.  It just didn't work for me and whatever bacteria that I manage to attract.

Deodorant #3: Schmidt's Deodorant in a glass jar with plastic top
Schmidt's is becoming really popular and I've found this brand in several of my local health food stores.  The kind I got comes in a jar but you can also find it in a stick form.  I also once again chose fragrance-free.  You may be wondering why.  I figure if the fragrance-free version of these natural deodorants works well than the fragrance version probably will work well.  Fragrances can mask smelly odor, and I'm looking for something that will stop it in it's tracks without the need to mask.  I don't want something that will make me smell like a combo of body funk and lavender.  Ew!

The ingredients are: Shea butter, arrowroot powder, which similar to baking soda absorbs odor, baking soda, cacao seed butter, and vitamin E

Hubby has not complained yet, but that may be because he's given up on me.  I think it works great.  There's a little plastic scooper that you put the product on and then you rub it into your skin (which I find works best if you use your fingers like the label says).  The melting temperature is higher so I can leave the product where I keep all my other beauty stuff.  It's also not irritating because I don't have to constantly apply it, and it has lots of natural ingredients commonly found in lotions/butter creams.

The next deodorant I want to try is from a company called Meow Meow Tweet, but so far I'm liking the Schmidt's and may try one of their fragrance versions.

So there you go.  It wasn't so disgusting was it.  Also none of these products were given to me for review.  I bought them trying to find a good solution to my body odor issue.  If you stuck around this long I wanted to introduce you to the very addictive Darci on youtube.  She's a mother of 10! and is into minimizing her life with simple products.  Here's two videos below: One is about beauty products and the other about armpits (don't worry it's not that painful).

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

What Autism is Not

A few weeks ago, my son's therapist, who is also on the spectrum, mentioned that she's seen a shift in dialogue on the internet.  In the past people used to say "retarded" as a barb to mean that someone is stupid or unintelligent.  She said she witnessed someone saying autism in the same manner.  As in "you're so autistic."  Naturally it bothered her.  She's autistic and clearly she's not stupid.

I'm not really surprised. People use language like that all the time. Retarded is a medical term, but it's been turned into a nasty word so much so that I'm sure someone is going to tell me to stop using it even though in this context I'm not using it derogatorily.

I fear that using the word "autism" may be headed in the same direction as using "gay" is. In one context, using "gay" is fine and in another you're essentially telling a person that the they are too effeminate.

The problem, though, is that I can see that people truly believe that being autistic means you are stupid or have a lower IQ.  So let me clarify this for you...

Being autistic is like being neurotypical.  It doesn't necessarily mean that your IQ is any higher or any lower than the average.  Autistics aren't necessarily savants or have intellectual disabilities.  It's not even classified as an intellectual disability even though IQ tests are weird for people on the spectrum, but that's because they aren't designed for people on the spectrum either.

Likewise I ended up correcting an autistic person over twitter who characterized being autistic as having a "mental disability" or a mental disorder.  A mental disability is depression or schizophrenia.

Autism is a developmental disorder.  Basically it means you have it from birth and you develop skills at a slower rate.  That's it.  You aren't insane and you aren't unintelligent.  It's something else which is why it has it's own characteristics which fall into a spectrum disorder.

Most recently I read someone saying that people with autism have a low EQ or emotional quotent.  That's not true either.  Autistics aren't vegetables.  They feel things.  They also recognize when someone else is feeling something too, but they may not be able to identify what that is.  They may not also be able to respond with typical emotions either.

Let me give you an example: My son gets in trouble at school.  He gets called out by the teacher in class.  He is feeling scared because he's not sure exactly what the teacher will do (send him out of the classroom or move his clip etc).  He's also embarrassed because his classmates realize that he's messed up (again).  So how does he react?  Does he lower his head?  Cower under his desk?  Cry?

Nope. My son looks you in the face and smiles.

His teachers take that to mean that he is proud of his mistake or doesn't care, and he gets chastised more for it.  They don't bother to ask him how he feels and make assumptions of him even though they know that he's autistic (that's the frustrating part and the one I want people to walk away from here).

He is reacting.  He does care.  He's not a robot.  He feels things acutely.  So if you know someone who is autistic and they don't react or react differently than you'd expect: TALK TO THEM!

I know my son well enough to tell when he's upset, angry, happy, scared, etc.  But that's because I've lived with him since birth and just know him that well.  I don't however assume that I can guess the same thing of other autistics.  Most autistics that I know will be happy to tell you what they feel because they are tired of being misread or told that they don't feel at all.  They want you to know and they welcome telling you because you're probably the first person whose bothered to ask them instead of assuming.  It isn't considered rude or impolite.

So there you go. Spread the word. #autismawareness

Friday, September 1, 2017

Karma is not the Synonymous with Justice

Lately I've been a pickier about the words I use.  In the past I through around words like "fortunate" and "lucky" willy nilly.  They are common every day lexicon, but they do have inherent meanings.  And those meanings don't bring me closer to God.

I began to realize that I was talking about forces when really I meant a single Being.  So lately I've been trying to substitute words like "fortunate" and "lucky" with the word "blessed" or "thankful". 

Karma is another word that has religious connotations but that in every day speech has been lost.  Justice is what most people mean.  Knowing that when one has been wronged that God's Justice will ultimately prevail.  Karma doesn't mean that at all.  Karma implies that there has to be some sort of balancing force in the universe.  And it has very little to do with God.

Maybe I'm being a little over zealous, a bit too scrupulous, but I find simply changing these every day words has made a difference.  Growing up in Mississippi I heard them all the time.  Now in Tucson, most people say "lucky."  No, I'm not "lucky."  There's no such thing as luck.  I'm blessed.  Blessed by God.  And it's this slight change back to my roots that keeps God more center, and more at the forefront of my life.

Every little bit helps right?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Taylor Swift's New Song: An Anthem to Righteous Anger

Taylor Swift recently released a song entitled "Look What You Just Made Me Do."  The song is a bit repetitive and I didn't really like it at first.  But several online youtubers have analyzed its accompanying video, and I've watch several renditions stripped of all the electronic overtones.  Now I'm starting to understand it better (other than I really wish it was more grammatically correct and used "anybody").

It's Taylor taking back her voice.  In the song she illustrates all the crap that's been lobbed at her from everything to at one point pulling her music off Spotify to the tapped phone conversation with Kanye West.  She felt that she is being misrepresented in the media and she's a little angry.  And she pokes fun of those caricatures of herself.

I'm not sure if she's truly justified in her anger.  I'm not there.  But I recognize that because she is a celebrity most of the media reports about her are going to be biased.  It's just the way media is these days unfortunately. They enjoy all that "drama drama." If what Taylor herself is saying is true, than I would think her new song is an anthem to righteous anger.  An injustice has been done.

I don't know what it's like to be in the spot light.  I've never had that kind of ambition.  I really crave my anonymity.  I'm actually probably a little over protective about it.  But her song has struck a cord with people.  Many youtubers who are not normally fans of her work have critiqued the video as being well done.  I think we can all relate to being mischaracterized by the people in our lives.

For me personally I get mischaracterized as some sort of hateful Catholic and some sort of over bearing mother I'm sure.  I'm a weird psuedo-ludite who forbids the school from posting pictures of my children on the web.  I'm the women who expects teachers to follow my son's IEP to the letter even if they don't like that.  I'm the Catholic who thinks fraternal correction is important even if in some cases it may alienate friends and family.  And yeah, I get angry that people think I'm over bearing and mean.

I'm sure there are those who misconstrue what you say.  I'm sure that there are those who think the worst of you rather than the best because it's so easy to do.  Drama is far easier than earnest listening.  Taylor Swift, in her usual way, has taken some aspect of her life and made it completely relateable to other people.  Whether you are a celebrity or a unnamed blogger we have all been there.  And yes, it's okay to get angry and say "I don't like you" for it.

Well done, Ms. Swift, well done.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Atypical Review

I haven't watched the entire series but I've watched 5 out of 8 episodes.

Atypical is about an 18 year old high school senior who is interested in dating and his family.  The show is not for families with young children.  It's a show more for older teenagers and adults because there is adult language and adult topics.

I like the family dynamics. It's real and raw. Sam, the character at the center of the show, has a younger sister.  She has to deal with the fall out of having an older autistic brother.  Sam's father, we also discover, had a harder time dealing with Sam's diagnosis.  But he's trying.  Sam's mother is over protective.

Sam has friends who care about him.  They are neurotypicals but have their own quarks.  And they try to help Sam.

The support group that Sam's mother goes to is an exaggeration of some aspects of the autism community.  They expect to use people first language (which really is up to the individual person because some prefer being called autistic) for example.

Sam is a well shaped character.  He shows some aspects of what it's like to live on the spectrum such as sensory sensitivity, confusion over why he's being bullied but knowing that he is, and not understanding idiomatic language.

The affair Sam's mother has doesn't seem to make sense with the plot.  Sam's mother is beginning to realize that she's not as much needed so she starts having an affair?  The other scenes where she gets in the face of department store sales woman and how she despises Sam's therapist for helping Sam be more independent make sense.  But the affair seems to be taking the show in a direction away from light heartedness and yet realness of autism and more into a mom drama.

Likewise I'm not sure why we need to know so much about the therapist's relationship as a sub-plot. It may help for Sam to have an example of dating (although living with your boyfriend isn't a good one).  But other than that I don't really see the relevance. 

There's a bit of confusion for me with Sam about money.  In the first episode Sam is seen riding a public bus back from therapy.  Don't buses require you to use money or a bus pass?  And then later on we see that Sam's sister has to give him his lunch money every day.  So my question is this: is Sam having a difficult time with money or not?  What's the difficulty?  At school, my children don't have to deal with money for lunch.  They have lunch cards and you can deposit money electronically through an online website.  There's no need for checks or cash.  Furthermore if Sam has an IEP, which I assume that he does, why isn't his mother insisting that his lunch money be handled by the lunch staff or the office staff per an IEP?  Why is it that Sam's younger sister has to do this for him instead of the school staff?  I just have difficulty believing that this isn't possible.  And I have difficulty believing that Sam's overprotective mother hasn't been forcing the hand of the school to make some sort of accommodation.  It's just poor writing.

The other thing that I noticed is this: Sam's mother is a hair dresser, Sam's father is an EMT, Sam gets therapy but he does have a part time job at an electronic store. Okay. How do they afford a large house in the suburbs?  We've seen shots of the exterior of the house and the interior of the house and it's a nice two story house.  It's more realistic to depict Sam's family as being lower middle class to working poor given what kinds of income his mother and father probably make.  Instead we see them living in a house that would be a bit out of their income range and it's not really explained why.  Sam's sister does say that the downstairs toilet is messed up and she's in need of a scholarship in order to attend a top private school.  So we know that they do have money constraints.  It just doesn't show up in how they live, which is a large house in the suburbs.

It also bothers me that we don't see anyone else on the spectrum.  Just in my daily life I've met many people who are autistic of various age groups before and since my son's diagnosis.  The other thing is I don't like the use of high-functioning versus low-functioning.  It's a weird distinction.  I would say compared to Sam, my son is far more higher functioning.  At age 7 he's already working on social skills that Sam is only just now seeming to understand.  Likewise you can have a very social autistic who doesn't speak and would be classified as low-functioning.  You can also have children who are called autistic but have other disorders to contend with.  It's more like a pin wheel of color and it's confusing (if not pigeon holing) to say that autistics fit into groups of high versus low functioning.  It would make more sense to say things like verbal versus non-verbal or very sensory sensitive versus not so much. 

What I would like to see:
Other characters on the spectrum because being autistic is just as diverse as being neurotypical.

More of Sam: I feel like there are too many sub-plots related to other characters who are not Sam and yet Sam is the focus of the show.  It's confusing.

More of the school: Sam is a senior yet we barely see any of the school staff during the show.  In one scene Sam hides in the chemistry lab and a friend can't find him.  So the friend calls Sam's sister.  Why isn't the friend alerting the school staff especially if Sam is a potential flight risk?  It doesn't really show if the school is inept or actually really awesome about dealing with Sam's disability.

More of Sam's work: So far we've seen Sam interact with his close friend and co-worker and there's one scene with his boss.  What about his interactions with other co-workers or clients?  How is working at the tech store good for Sam?  We are told that Sam actually studied the store before he landed the job.  So did that contribute to him landing the job there?  I'm so puzzled about Sam's job.

More about therapy for Sam: We know that Sam has had a lot of therapy in the past. And now he essentially speaks to a psychologist.  Can we learn about his past therapy and more about replacement behaviors?

Does Sam have a community for support?: We know that Sam's mom attends a support group for parents, but there are likewise support groups or just groups in general for those on the spectrum.  Has Sam explored them?  Does he have autistic friends?

The show has a lot of potential and it's headed in sort of the right direction, but it could use some improving.  Overall I would say it's good and worth watching with the potential to become great.