31 October 2008

California Proposition 4

Prop 4 is the Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor's Pregnancy Initiative Constitutional Amendment. I'll start with the two aspects mentioned in the title.

The waiting period, while often suggested by anti-abortion groups, is necessary for the parental notification to be of any use, and as such, not a focus of debate. The parental notification aspect, on the other hand, is mentioned in every ad on the proposition. So, what constitutes parental notification? A written notification delivered in person or two notifications mailed, one first class, the other certified mail return receipt requested. While proponents claim this would protect teenage girls from complications, I can't help but wonder how many of them forgot their childhood and how often there was actually a parent home when the mail was delivered. Yes, in some households there is always at least one parent home. In others, there isn't always a parent at home when the mailman comes, so who gets first access? That's right, it's the teenager! Hey, here's the first class letter about my abortion, and here's some matches! Oh, and here's the card saying there's a letter to pick up at the post office. More matches! Do you see what I'm getting at?

Prop 4 also includes some exceptions - a medical emergency, a signed waiver by a parent or guardian, notice to a different family member combined with an abuse report, and a waiver granted by the court. There really isn't much to discuss for the first two exceptions, but the second two more than make up for the first.

A scared teenage girl who can't tell her parents that she's pregnant is not going to want to bare all to a judge, much less know that option exists. The one redeeming aspect of a judicial waiver is the free help from the courts. But the whole thing is moot anyway since how on earth is she going to get to the court on a school day? And with all the safeguards schools use to ensure that parents know about absent students, such as calling parents' cell phones and offices, it is likely that her parents will find out that she wasn't in school. And then what?

Rape is one of the most under reported crimes (an estimated 40% of victims file a police report) for a variety of reasons, such as fear of the rapist, humiliation, worry about being believed, and disbelief of family and friends. In cases where the rapist is a family member, even fewer reports are made. So why would an abused teenage girl who hasn't told anyone suddenly be able to tell a complete stranger, knowing that a formal abuse complaint will be made against the offender? She already has a myriad of reasons for not telling, and they didn't just disappear. Mom still won't believe that her beloved second husband can do any wrong. Dad will beat her worse than last time when he finds out. It'll be her fault for breaking up the family.

In such abuse cases, I can't see this amendment doing anything but worsening the situation as girls find alternate means of abortion. Similarly, I can't see girls going through the court system, much less doing so successfully. Mailed notifications can easily be intercepted. While drafted with noble intent by its writers, this amendment is fundamentally flawed and based on a disconnect from reality. I am voting no.

Some of my resources:

29 October 2008

Tokyo, the Über Post

I've received quite a few requests to put all the posts together in chronological order. And here it is:

Days 1,2 September 5-6, 7
Day 3 September 8
Day 4 September 9
Day 5 September 10
Day 6 September 11
Day 7 September 12
Day 8 September 13
Day 9 September 14
Day 10 September 15
Day 11 September 16
Day 12 September 17
Day 13 September 18
Day 14 September 19
Day 15 September 20
Day 16 September 21
Day 17 September 22

28 October 2008

California Proposition 8

For those of you living under a rock buried in a dune at the bottom of the ocean, Prop 8 is described quite well by its title "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry."

Prop 8 is a Big Deal here and, from what I've heard, all over the country. Homosexual people want to get married just like heterosexual people, and conservatives/fundamentalists/people who like to legislate their morality do not want their sacred institution corrupted. With the amount of money both sides have raised, I've been bombarded by quite of few ridiculous arguments, mostly on the Yes! side. Saying that you don't want your church to be forced to marry gays qualifies as ridiculous. Saying that children in public schools will be indoctrinated qualifies as ridiculous. Saying that it does not take away rights when the title starts with "Eliminates Right" extra super qualifies as ridiculous. Saying that marriage is an institution with religious origins and the government should keeps its secular nose out of religious business, well, that got me thinking.

What constitutes a marriage has changed radically over thousands of years. Depending on what society you trace the origins of marriage through, there are different levels of formality and consequences. However, a religious or spiritual component is almost universal. And while it is no longer possible to wed simply by saying, "I marry you," the religious implications have remained an integral part of the ceremony for many Americans.

Now that being publicly gay is not an automatic death sentence, gay people want to get married, but that tends to conflict with the historical religious wedding. In waltzes the civil union, a separate-but-equal attempt at appeasing both sides that is not recognized by the federal government, and forget about other states.

Even though marriage has been redefined as our culture has morphed, perhaps it should be civil union that is redefined. A giant search/replace all on marriage/civil union, if you will. Regardless of any details about the couple, as far as the government is concerned, it is a civil union. Churches, synagogues, and even drive through chapels in Las Vegas could still hold whatever type of ceremony they deem fit. Churches that accept gays could marry gays. Churches that don't would continue not to. But the important thing is that the legal end result is the same for every person.

Back in reality, I'm fully aware that this won't happen any time soon, and probably not ever. Millions of people are too attached to the word marriage and everything it means to them. Not to mention the undertaking necessary to rewrite all the tax code. Personally, I think the word is not nearly as important as the relationship that it signifies, as long as the word is the same for all. I will vote no on Prop 8.

26 October 2008

A Touch of Grey

After another week of alternating between work and sleep, what could possibly be more fun than spending the weekend at the office, again?

Today, however, was different from all other days - Matt brought me lunch at the office! We had a fairly short repast consisting of leftovers and take out from Chipotle. Definitely nothing special about the food, but I can't tell you how nice it was to be eating with another human being away from my desk. Now granted away from my desk consisted of a table in the conference room, which has been converted into a war room filled with lcds, laptops, and 62 miles of network cables. BUT IT STILL COUNTS.

Eventually this disaster will be over, and my shiny new Hyper X driver will be taught a lesson. Specifically that it should make golf balls go far in the desired direction.

18 October 2008

You Know Things Are Bad When...

Today I'm using a Windows XP vm on a Vista box accessed through tsc on an XP vm running on an OS X machine. Today sucks.