Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bathroom laws, part 1

The only solution to the bathroom debacle is kindness. If you see someone in your preferred bathroom who makes you feel uncomfortable because they are different than you, smile and do your business. Or smile and say, are you almost finished? Or smile and leave. That person's life is difficult enough without your making it more difficult.

And if a young woman or man comes into the bathroom and is clearly made uncomfortable by your presence, smile and say, "I'm almost done." The young person has no experience, probably has no context, and a little kindness will go a long way toward reducing anxiety. Just because you think they are wrong doesn't mean you can't treat them kindly.

And if anyone, of any gender, in any bathroom, is misusing the bathroom for bullying, or for abuse, or for peeping or leering or invading privacy or whatever, then we all need to band together to get that person to knock it off (with law enforcement if necessary), because we all should feel safe in bathrooms.

(And if you are an adult and see a transgender person using the bathroom for what it is for, then you should get on with your business even if you are uncomfortable. Because we are adults and disagreeing with someone is no excuse for hurting them. Get a life.)

Unfortunately, it seems that we are a long way past kindness in this country.

Friday, June 1, 2012


I read the article above and started thinking about some things which are necessary for getting your kids to do what you want.  I started to write, "necessary for good parenting," but what I'm really talking about is keeping the relationship between you and your kids from disintegrating into a daily yelling contest.  Whether it's good parenting is up to you.

Theorem 1:There are things that need to be done around the house, things that the kids benefit from.  Your time is limited.  So some of those things will have to be done by the kids. 

Theorem 2: The kids don't want to do anything except have fun. Almost without exception, whatever you want them to do is not fun.

Corollary: There will be arguments about what you want them to do: watch less tv, make their beds, go to bed at a reasonable hour, etc.

So here are some things I think are necessary for solving this problem.  They are certainly not sufficient---If I ever find that, I'll quit my day job and make a ton of money.  In fact, they may not be necessary.  I do think they are helpful.
  1. A clear goal.  There are two problems: first, the child might not know what you want him to do.  So if you say, "Set the table," he might just throw the silverware on the table and be done,  Make sure he knows what you mean.  On the other hand, she might interpret "Go to bed," as "Go to your room and play on your DS."  She needs to be encouraged (maybe told) that she can figure out what you mean and you do not need to lawyer the whole thing out.
  2. No excuses.  "I tried, but I was just..." is one of the least attractive phrases he can use.  It's OK to fail, that's how you learn.  The correct response is, "Well, do it again the right way."  And again, and again.  I am a Christian, and I live my life in thanksgiving for the infinite forgiveness that Christ offers me.  I can forgive my kids...but it helps if we both try to get it right the next time.
  3. It's got to be important to you.  I cannot have a battle with my kids about making beds, because it is not important enough to me.  My standard is thinking about what kind of adult I want them to be.  If they don't make their beds, that's ok.  If they can't keep their room clean, that's not ok and we need to work on it.  If they don't eat vegetables at dinner, that's not ok either, and I'm willing to go to bat.  The nice thing about only doing this with important things is that when the kids get old enough, you can explain your family's values.  "In our family we..." is a useful turn of phrase.
  4. Achievable, measurable goals.  Just saying, "You need to eat more vegetables," is not a clear enough goal.  Saying, "Eat 1 serving of veggies for lunch and dinner and a serving of fruit for breakfast," is better.  Or, "Take everything out of the car every night," rather than, "Keep the car clean."
  5. A path to success.  The goal is eventually to have the kids obey you even when you are not watching.  So help them come up with plans to turn the goals into a habit---keeping fruit and vegetables around, brushing teeth right when you wake up, and so on.  For younger kids, the parents guide the path.  For younger elementary, parents help plan but expect the kids to follow it by themselves.  For older kids, the parents should make sure that there is a plan, but let them come up with something that works for them.
Always keep the goal in mind: the kids grow up and need to figure out what needs to be done and how to get it done by themselves.     Yelling, arguments, top down irrational incomplete orders don't get you there.  Maybe some of these ideas might help.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Response to Dan's post about healthcare being a right

Your question about whether health care is a right reminds me of two separate stories, neither of which directly applies. But here goes.

First is my friend Brigid's feelings about the risks that people have the right to take. Her opinion of drinking raw milk is that people should be allowed to do it, but that then they should pay for their own treatment if they contract listeria (I think this is what it is called...) She also says that if you don't vaccinate your child and someone else's (vaccinated) child contracts measles or some other such disease, then you should be held responsible.

Of course, this leads to the question about whether people who pickle their own livers through years of drinking should be paid for by society. Or people who are 100 lbs overweight, or people who eat fast food, or who don't eat organic... In writing this, I think it comes down to the philosophy, "let those who are without sin cast the first stone."

The second is from the only sensible story about health care reform I read during the entire debate: a Dr. wrote that there are two truths we must acknowledge: first, the healthy must pay to take care of the sick, and second, we all die.

From this I get that it is not OK for anyone to say, "I don't want to pay into this health insurance," whatever it ends up being. If you are well, you have an obligation to the sick and should be grateful that you can pay. If you are well, you can rest assured that you, or your parents, or your children, or your brother will need care at some point. Finally, if you somehow got away with selfishly not contributing and then did get sick, it would be inhumane for us to not take care of you, so we will. Since society really has no choice about treating you, you really have no choice about participating in health insurance.

OK, one more story about what health care is a right: For my last two children, the bill for their births was 4,000 and 7,000. The first we paid for, the second was paid for by insurance, but I'd say it was worth it. A friend had preeclampsia for two pregnancies: the first baby was delivered and taken care of for 50,000 and the second cost 250,000. Then I have another friend whose baby was severely disabled and was in and out of the hospital, didn't ever smile or interact with the world past the first few months, and died just before her 3rd birthday. I can't even imagine someone adding the bills up, or deciding the little girl's worth. What I am getting at is that if some health care is a right, some must not be. Your piece says that it is impossible to get this all down in a short article, but I think it might be just plain impossible. If the government recommends that some mammograms are not covered, then it is (basically) deciding that some people will die---the equivalent of at "death panel". If the government says all mammograms are covered, then theoretically someone could get one every month, if she could find a Dr. to do that. We cannot say yes to everything, and what we say no to could make a life-changing difference, or even prevent death. I can't cut that knot, and no one I know of has the moral authority to do that, especially the government.

Finally, when you say that "the people who are most against the individual mandate are most in favor of socialized medicine in the form of medicare," I don't know that I agree. I've seen a few signs, and I certainly haven't read much by Rush Limbaugh or Glen Beck, but in all the articles on WSJ and National Review and other conservative sites, I've never seen anyone who opposes the individual mandate have anything positive to say about medicare, other than "it's not bankrupt yet." Not a ringing endorsement. So either you mean "a few people who oppose the individual mandate are in favor of keeping medicare the way it is," or maybe there are more articles out there which show this kind of sloppy thinking and I just haven't read them yet.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"Gospel" music

I really liked Disney's "The Princess and the Frog." I especially liked the fact that Disney finally has an African American princess---all little girls should be able to see themselves on screen as a Disney princess, and it has been too long. I really liked the music---best music since The Little Mermaid, in my opinion. I might actually buy the soundtrack.

That said, there was really something missing from all of the great gospel-style music. For example, the song "Almost there" is about how if Tiana just keeps working hard, she can accomplish her own dreams. There's nothing wrong with that, except that in the end, we need grace, and salvation, and we just can't do it all on our own. Same with "Dig a little deeper:" There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the idea that we all need to be true to ourselves and not pay attention only to what is on the surface. The point is that in addition to digging a little deeper, we need to know ourselves in the way God knows us. The idea that we might need "good news" of any sort is missing.

Although God is missing from the gospel numbers, Satan seems to be in evidence. The beings that the Shadow Man deals with have power, but only grant it at a price, and don't take very well to being messed with. I have no idea if the picture is accurate, but the lesson seems useful.

As usual, this is not very well explained. Sigh. This is why only about 3 people know this blog exists...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More insurance reform responses

My father-in-law sent me an interesting blog post about health care reform, written from the perspective of someone at a small non-profit hospital in the Ozarks:

Anyhow, he seems to have 3 main points:
  • The much maligned public option is ironically exactly how the biggest for profit insurance agencies started out,
  • government run health care (in the form of medicare) pays more than the big for profit insurance companies, and
  • the government actually pays bills in a timely fashion, whereas the hospital in question has to get its employees to chase down the payments from the insurance company.
The first point is a misunderstanding of the public option, I believe. Creating a number of non-profit insurance companies to provide low cost insurance to the uninsured who cannot afford regular coverage was a separate proposal from the public option, at least according to the health care reporters from NPR. It is a proposal that made sense to me, but it was rejected by some Democrats and so didn't make it into the bill. I think the writer's point of view is also discredited by the number of people interviewed on NPR (in the talk shows and on the news shows) who say that the public option was the best way to get to a single-payer government-run system.

The second point is disputed in the comments, where a commentor from the Northwest says that insurance companies pay above 80% of costs, while Medicare pays 50%. This is what is frustrating about the insurance debate to me---I simply do not have the ability to judge between the two competing claims. Based on this, I'll go with what is "common knowledge," taking the author's viewpoint into consideration.

Finally, he says that the insurance companies do not actually want to pay the bills. I have some experience with this and agree. But on the other hand, Medicare paying the bills right away isn't necessarily a great thing. Peter Orszag testified this spring that Medicare's costs could be cut by 30% without cutting benefits because Medicare is so filled with "waste, fraud and abuse." Presidents have been trying for years to get rid of the unnecessary spending without much success. Also, Medicare is due to go bankrupt in just a few years---this does not fill me with trust in a government run health insurance option.

I think his main point is correct, though---he is afraid this will just be a way to get government money to the health care companies. Like the drug benefit before it, this plan seems to try to fix the problem of access but not of cost, using taxpayer money.

One other part of his post interested me, and that is the idea that his hospital is trying to do the right thing towards people in need, without any rewards from the government or financial rewards. The reason this whole reform is so hard is that the people who are trying just to do the right thing are not the people in charge of the bill and the debate.

Correction: The hospital is a for profit hospital----they just haven't made much of a profit.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Beware the argument your opponents cannot win. If your response means that there is nothing they can do to change your mind, then it's not an argument, just a couple of speeches. If your mind can't be changed, then your opinion becomes less rational and more like a gut reaction. Not that gut reactions should be ignored, but they deserve less respect.

Also beware the argument that lets you dismiss your opponent. Even if they are racist, stupid, liberal, religious, or bound to have wrong ideas for any number of reasons, almost always there is something in their argument that you need to think about. It's better to ignore the person and their motivations for making the argument, and focus on the argument itself. I know, it might lead to an outbreak of civil dialogue, but why not try it?

One of the most frustrating things about this whole health care debate is the way each side doesn't answer the pressing questions of the other. People are getting cut off by their insurance when they need it most for dumb reasons. People who work hard can't afford insurance. On the other hand, someone in the government (as opposed to private insurers) is going to decide what counts as health insurance, what gets covered and for whom. Medicare covers lots of people, but it is going bankrupt, is wasteful, people need additional insurance, and is not controlling costs (it might even be fueling some of the fast increases). Anyhow, these questions are treated rhetorically, not substantively, and I'm getting fed up.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Odd couple?

I just heard the Rev. Al Sharpton and Newt Gingrich being interviewed on Weekend Edition by Scott Simon. They were having a respectful conversation. They were working together to promote education.

They did not try to hide the fact that the two of them had serious disagreements. But they both said that what they were working for was so important, they needed to work together. I never thought I'd say that Gingrich and Sharpton are good role models for restrained, polite, bipartisan (and hopefull effective) work. But here we are..