Showing posts from March, 2009

Good Death: Another Oxymoron

The legalization of human euthanasia is a contentious issue in many nations. In the United States, euthanasia is often thought of as a closure for the pain of the terminally ill. Unfortunately, history and present global developments indicate that the promotion of euthanasia can create an environment where terminal illness, serious pain, and even consent are no longer considered requirements for the medical extermination of human lives. In the handicapped community, euthanasia is perceived as a potential threat to the societal value placed on the lives of those struggling with disabilities. Governments have euthanized the handicapped in the past, and now, movements for society to become selective about the life and death of its members may again be placing the disabled at risk. The United States should not institute a national policy legalizing euthanasia because it creates a great risk that such ethical disintegration may once again threaten the lives of the disadvantaged – and of al…

Income Tax and the Theft of the Our Love of Freedom

The Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States: The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

During the Civil War, the first direct tax on income was instituted under President Lincoln's tenure. In 1890, it was begun again. The courts then deemed the policy unconstitutional, which led to the passage of the sixteenth amendment. Since then, high income tax rates helped the United States through both world wars. The rates dropped below 50% only in the late twenties, before rising to unprecedented rates as Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office, ultimately reaching a high of 94% for top bracket income-earners in 1944 and 45. This rate was never lower than 70% until 1982, and since then it has dropped steadily so that today, the very richest in the United States are required to pay only 35% of their income to the federal go…

Criminal Neglect

A woman has a large household - many family members, many children, all contained within a sprawling yet modest house. Some of the children do well in school, others have dropped out. Many of the adults have lost jobs and the family's economic situation has taken a downturn, but they are still doing adequately well, and everyone is carrying on admirably. The woman's children and family look up to her as a leader in the house, and she takes on the task of organizing things, although she does need a lot of help.

Regardless, one day the woman is approached by a suited man who offers her the kind of money her family would need to get back on the up-and-up. He offers money to fix up the house, money to buy new things, money for medicine, money to support the unemployed members of the family, and money to put the household's children into better schools.

Of course, the woman decides she'll take the money and is thankful for it. It does seem like a lot though, so she thinks …

One Moment Please

At any single moment in my life, what am I? Perhaps I don't seem to be much, short-statured seventeen-year-old student, son and sibling that I am. At any given moment these last few days I was perhaps reading diminuitively, playing soccer unimpressively, more likely clicking and typing away on my computer resignedly, or most likely sleeping - lazily and practically worthlessly. And yet, despite all this seeming insignificance, what am I really in each of those moments? I am a record and a result. I am a constant and a cotninuance. I am a potential and an opportunity. I am the past, present and future of myself - and if the precise present doesn't look so great, so be it.

At this time there are perhaps a bit more than 150 hours until I will be back in school, sitting in my calculus class. Within those hours I will likely have done quite a bit of calculus in preparation for that sitting; I'll have spent at least eight more hours on Kayhi soccer; I may get through quite a bit…

A Dream (Sitka, Murder, and Guilt)

Last night I had a strange, intricate and memorable dream. More accurately, I had the dream this morning, since I went to bed after midnight and awoke about at noon. In fact I believe I dreamt sometime between 8 and noon, since I was half-awakened at the earlier time. It does always seem we dream near the end of our rest, but it is not often that I dream at all, let alone remember that of which I dreamt. For that reason, then, here is what I dreamt:

I am in a house with a woman. The house is an exact dreamscape replica of my own, complete with my grandparents' house across the street, but despite this, I know in my dream that I am in the town of Sitka, and despite my having no mental image of any view from that town, my view from the house's window is not of Tongass Narrows. If I remember correctly, it's as if flat residential areas were just laid across the Narrows in my real view from my house.

The specifics of the woman I cannot remember. I don't even remember doing…

Blondes, Blue Eyes, Marriage and Muslims

Recently while researching a debate topic (Resolved: Morality is part of human nature) and while looking up "human nature" I happened upon an article entitled "Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature." The article is interesting, to be sure. It brings up a few insights into myself, a few questions for all of us, and - of course - some criticism.

1. "Men like blond[e] bombshells (and women want to look like them)"

Number one, this is a bullshit generalization. Of course this can be forgiven, if one accepts the idea that men generally have a particular liking for blondes, which is probably true - in this society with our culture. Although in other light research I've seen there are at least a few other hypotheses out there for why blondes exist (and have been favored by natural selection - at least in the past), the hypothesis posited as fact by this article is that men are drawn to blondes because they look younger. I can understand this id…

Every Day a Free Day

This afternoon I mentioned to someone that I had no sixth period class and then said "Yeah, I get to go home early. I get a free day every day." In context the phrase made little sense; a shortened day certainly isn't "free" as most would think of it. I don't know exactly why I said it. And yet, every day we live our lives really is free. School doesn't take away my freedom; it's a place I go to daily show what I've done with my free and beautiful life. Regardless of where we are, we are, even in the worst of troubles, at our very innermost, fundamentally, undeniably free.

All this comes down to attitude and perspective. I honestly believe that one's attitude is the single most fundamental element in living a good life. Believe me, I know there is oppression in this world, and millions of people across the planet are entirely unable to have what we would call a good life. I know a good attitude would seem to do little for the starving or imp…

Ever-Ending, Ever-Continued

A single life is a cascade of change over a bedrock of continuity. Even the bedrock may shift over time, and the casade may surge or lessen at points, but our lives are still a constant politics: We all have the strictest Constitution of the Self, under which there's always a revolution going on. In the last few weeks I have experienced many "lasts." I'm sure there are many I don't even realize, but then again there must always be things we're doing we'll never do again. As you know I've now finished with Academic Decathlon. I also worked my last session at Kayhi concessions a few days ago. Today I did what are certain to be my last soccer games referreed as a child - and yes I'll still use that word. There may not be much physical or "actual" change that occurs when I turn 18 (who knows when my physical adulthood was or will be defined), but I can assure you there will be mental change. The meaning society places on one's 18th birthd…

On Fighting

“War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings, which thinks that nothing is worth war, is much worse.  A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing that is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature. One who has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” — John Stuart Mill

Regardless of the respect accorded to John Stuart Mill for various important stands he made in history, I find the above statement to be incredibly ignorant. Admittedly, one could certainly be less harsh regarding Mill's ignorance when taking into account his life and times, but unfortunately this was a quote I saw retyped for the world today, and the views held within it are ones I know that many hold in our present time.

Pacifism is something I have addressed before on this blog, perhaps most notably here, which is at least where my views received t…

Paradigm Shift

I know that my post here won't be terribly true to the real definition of a paradigm shift, but I think it sounds good so I'll go with it. What I'd like to get across with that title and with my post is actually pretty basic: my life is shifting course. Explaining the multitude of ways in which this is happening would be incredibly complicated and probably impossible, (even for the world's leading expert on me - me), but ironically, my life now - at least for the moment - seems a lot less complicated than it was.

The major landmark of change in my life in the last few weeks was the Alaska State Academic Decathlon, which stretched from the 25th to the 28th last month. Ketchikan took a pretty great team to the competition and ranked better than its ever done - fourth place in the state. Our team took seventeen individual medals, out of which I took six. Much more importantly for me, however, I was the second-highest overall scorer in the state. In all I'd have to say…