Things I Wrote This Week: Healthcare, Christian Veganism, Charleston, and Father’s Day

I’m trying to get in the habit of writing daily to improve my writing and get the creative juices flowing in my brain. In the past when I try to blog daily I end up quitting shortly afterwards. So, this time I’m going to just try to write something relatively quick daily… maybe something that was distracting me while meditating, or maybe a current event, or maybe something else. Regardless, if I keep up the practice I will post them as a blog post every week or so. These aren’t meant to be a completely thought out opinion or well formatted posts, they are just some thoughts going around in my head.

6/18/2015 – Health Care
I know I may lose my libertarian credentials for this view, but at this point I don’t really care. More and more my libertarian opinions are founded on the belief that libertarianism will bring the best life for the most people instead of some philosophical purity. If I have to muddy my libertarianism in order to make life better for others then so be it.

All other things being equal, I don’t have a problem with a tax-based single payer healthcare system in the United States. As much as the US likes to boast about being the best we are actually pretty shitty in most healthcare measurements. The VA system when I was in the military wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t worry about breaking my arm and going bankrupt. Young soldiers didn’t worry that their children would get an ear infection and die. Pregnant wives didn’t wonder if they could afford to see a doctor throughout the pregnancy. I see no reason why we can’t have a single-payer system in place that is supplemented by private practices.

I realize it will be imperfect. But our current system seems devastatingly imperfect. Particularly for people like me who don’t have a traditional life. My partner is paying for health insurance but is basically uncovered because most plans won’t cross state lines, and those that do cross state lines are prohibitively expensive. We might as well be crossing international borders. Hell, even if there wasn’t a tax based system it would be nice if there was a truly national healthcare system available. I just don’t understand why car insurance companies have figured out how to operate in both North Carolina and Oregon, but if I need to get pink eye looked at in Oregon I may be shit out of luck because my insurance is from California. We live in an online, international age but we still act like people only leave their homes for an annual vacation to a time share 200 miles away.

6/19/2015 – Christian Veganism

When God gave man dominion over the beasts of the earth (Genesis), was there any limits to this? Does this dominion mean that man can do whatever he wishes… own, cause pain, and even kill? Or does it mean that man is to care for the beasts of the earth?

I’ve seen this argument made to basically say God is okay with us eating animals for food unneccesarily. I’m not a Biblical scholar but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Christ seems to have wanted to minimize pain and suffering in the world. His message was one of love towards all, particularly those who can’t defend themselves. Maybe that doesn’t apply to animals, but I don’t see how God would be upset if we lived our lives in a way that minimized harm to animals as well.

Doesn’t the Bible also say that husband has dominion over the household and his wife? Does that mean that he can abuse and kill them as well? Maybe it is a different root word or my memory is wrong. It has been a while since I read up on this. Even if Biblical morality allows for eating animals, it seems like it is better if we don’t. Animals don’t exist simply for our pleasure.

6/20/2015 – Charleston
What happened in Charleston was a tragedy. It was a racist, terrorist act committed by a young adult who was indoctrinated and brain-washed. I’ve lived in South Carolina, I was engaged to a young woman from South Carolina, I have a little bit of insight into the culture there. There is certainly a pride in ignorance. Much of “Redneck Pride” and “Southern Pride” is about rejecting outside influence, placing tribe above all else, and racial segregation. As disgusting as the rebel flag is to many of us, the outside push for it to be removed from the SC statehouse is only going to make things worse. There is a strong current of belief in the south that all the poverty and problems are the fault of outsiders. They cling to their flag and what it means to them (sometimes racist, sometimes not) because it gives them a reason why things are bad. It is a corner of the US with a weak economy, a poor education system, and a theocratic view of government. It is no coincidence that poverty, obesity, abstinence only education, and harsh criminal penalties for marijuana all exist in the same place. There is little education available and a cultural resistance to what education can be found. There is a religious culture that views contraception as evil. I remember when my ex-fiancé wanted to get an Associates Degree at a Community College, her family freaked out and didn’t understand why she would ever want to leave her hometown (a hometown with three generations of family members living in trailers with no economic opportunities). I remember her father saying that he would never allow his daughters to date anyone who wasn’t white, though his son could date any race as long as he didn’t marry them or get them pregnant. A nice dash of sexism with your racism. He swore he wasn’t racist, just that the races mixing was unnatural… “like cats and dogs fucking”.

Regardless, the outside pressure is going to make things worse. It is going to make those in poverty believe that outsiders are trying to destroy their way of life. And maybe outsiders are, I’m all for the destruction of terrible institutions and cultures. But I will be very surprised if this outside pressure through petitions and phone calls and viral videos of  rebel flag burnings is going to bring about anything fruitful. Like it or not, if you want the rebel flag to come down the culture of the region needs to change on its own, or you will have to send in men with guns to force it.

6/21/2015
Today is Father’s Day. A hallmark holiday with good intentions, buy like many good intentions meant for universal distribution it often has some negative side effects. Those who have suffered the most often bear the worst of it. A child whose father was abusive, absent, or just a shit-head are forced to be surrounded by happy children celebrating the paternal figure in their lives. Some are likely forced to make cards by well-meaning teachers who are unaware of the hurt and pain that these children experience at home. I think it is important to show love and caring and recognition to those in our lives who are good to us, but to force a universal standard upon children is a maneuver that will hurt many.

Adults on Father’s Day are better off, for they are adults and can handle more pain, but it can still be a day of sadness. Many are plagued by memories of betrayal, sexual abuse, or abandonment. While others long to be a father but can’t due to lacking a partner or physical inability. As ads flood our tv channels, radio waves, and online searches imploring us to “thank dad” many people have a spotlight shone on their pain.

Sure, Father’s Day (as well as Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day) means well. But for some it hurts. That doesn’t mean those of us with loving fathers shouldn’t recognize those in our lives who have provided support, comfort, and guidance. But maybe, just maybe, we should be aware that our perspective is a limited one and not everyone feels the same.

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Popping Sweet Oregon Cherries (with our mouths)

It is always kind of bittersweet when we leave a place that we love. We may be nomads right now but that doesn’t mean we are immune to the pull of a place to set down our roots. Someday we may return to Eugene… it is our type of place and having a college in town with an applicable Master’s program certainly doesn’t help. Alas, we had to get moving so we swung by Voodoo Doughnuts for a few more vegan noms and headed north to Corvallis.

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The ride was a long one for us (about 50 miles) but with a slight downhill the whole way it was not incredibly difficult, just a little long. We arrived at around 6:30pm and met our Couchsurfing hosts. Our hosts (Ebba and John) had a beautiful little farm house with a few acres. After getting settled in we helped get the potatoes, berries, and other vegetables out of the garden for dinner. The meal was delicious and our hosts were incredibly warm and fun to chat with, it is just a shame we were all pretty tired. They even shared some homemade mead with us. After dinner and some chatting we hit the sack.

On our way out of Corvallis we swung by our 19th Brewery for a beer. We had some time to kill with only 20ish miles planned that day. We took our time riding up to Independence where we had a tour schedule at the Rogue Farm, we arrived early to have a few drinks before the tour got started. It was pretty cool hearing the history of the area, seeing hops growing on the vines, and touring the facility where hops are processed to give beer that glorious taste. We did have to leave early because we didn’t have a place to camp yet and the sun was quickly going down.

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We did meet a cool couple of people at the Rogue Farm (Brewery 20*) but one of the comments they made kind of stuck with me. One woman said we must be “trust fund” babies. It made me wonder how many people that we talked to were under the impression that our adventure was somehow funded by our parents… the implication being that it is unearned by us. The truth is, this trip is one of the results of decades of decisions, risk-taking, and following our hearts. If I hadn’t joined the army, went to college, took an incredibly low-paying job in DC because I loved the organization, and left DC when I was no longer happy there I would not be here now. Anna and Hans have similar stories, they took risks by moving when they were unhappy, we all saved money by living minimally, and we all got out of relationships that were no longer in line with our goals. We very intentionally have not had children because we properly use birth control, knowing that there is not really a rush. If we want kids in 10 years or more that is very possible. Anna’s job is a big part of why we can do this and not tap into our savings, but she is not our sugar-momma or anything… more like an employer where she pays us to do things like shopping, blogging, pictures, arrange housing, laundry, etc. She is basically our boss.

None of us were willing to settle for “what if”. We left homes, changed states, and leveraged opportunities as they came. We aren’t “trust fund” kids. Our families provide no financial support. There are things that benefited us that we had no control over (such as place and time of birth) but this ride is a result of our hard work. Maybe it is our age (though I’m in my early 30′s… hardly a child) that sparks this type of comment, maybe it is because we have ignored social requirements that we live where we grew up, marry early, have kids, take a shitty office job that we hate, and decide on security over liberty at every turn.

Anyway, end rant. We ended up finding an RV park that technically didn’t allow tent campers. They had some extra RV spots (and nobody on duty) so we paid the fee and set up. As is usually the case things went without any problems. The park was clean, had showers, and nobody bothered us. The only thing peculiar was the RV across from us that had an original 13-colony American flag flying on it. It reminded me of the Confederate flag that we saw flying over a house in southern Oregon a couple weeks ago. Last I checked Oregon didn’t really have any connection to the civil war… but I might be wrong. Regardless, it seems stupid to me

Living in the south for half a decade means I am pretty used to seeing the “stars and bars” flying. Part of me understands that there is some history there, but I still think it is a bad idea to hold onto that symbol. In fact, I find the whole “states rights” movement to be filled with poor judgement. States do not have rights, they may have powers vested to them by the Constitution but they do not have some sort of human rights that can be violated. Even those people (like myself) who believe in smaller, more local government shouldn’t hold on to the civil war or the Confederacy as something positive. Any institution that decides owning humans is okay is not one we should look back on for any moral guidance, even if they were right about other things. It is like trying to reclaim the swastika or quoting Hitler, no matter how noble your cause is it is a PR nightmare to bed yourself with that type of imagery. This is a lesson some libertarians should learn, no matter how economically correct or politically efficient it might be to back someone if they are a racist or sexist we should distance ourselves completely from them. If we want to change hearts and minds it is better to support good people who might not be philosophically pure over racist assholes who are correct in their ivory tower.

The next day (Saturday, June 21) we had our longest day scheduled, 56 miles. The route wasn’t too bad with only a couple 400ft hills but we didn’t want to take chances so we left early. Things went pretty smoothly as we took breaks every 10 miles or so to let the dog out and get food. There wasn’t a lot of population or stores on the road, it was essentially just a highway over the Coastal Range to Lincoln City. The sparse population of our ride ended up working well for us.

At one stop we had a big field behind us with a couple of trees blocking us from the highway. Anna and I decided to bang. It is important to keep the passion alive with trying new things and exploring interests with each other. You gotta be GGG. If one of your partners has an interest in trying something new you should be on the lookout for opportunities to explore that. I think very few things are so extreme that an immediate “no” is allowed (like anything involving feces for me). You should be able to babystep up to basically any interest or kink, as long as there is plenty of communication and respect for each other it is incredibly beneficial to experiment. Life is too short for just missionary position. I should also note how fucking awesome Hans is for acting as a look-out whenever play happens in public, true friends encourage and help you get orgasms whenever possible.

The ride continued to be smooth as we left the farmlands and found ourselves in the green hills and mountains again. As we got to the top of one of the hills I noticed the girls had stopped about 100 ft behind me. I thought they were peeing on the side of the road, but after about 20 minutes I thought maybe something else was up. It turns out they found some cherry trees and were picking them clean. So now we have some freaking awesome wild(?) cherries. They are delicious.

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We arrived in Lincoln City (motto: A Great Place to Try New Things) with a couple of hours of sun left which gave us plenty of time to get some food (and beer), find our campground, and get set up. We will be here for three nights so Anna can catch up on some work and then north to the Washington border and east to my family in Portland.

 

*Brewery List

  1. Highway 1 Brewing Company (outside Pescadero, CA)
  2. Firestone Walker (Paso Robles, CA)
  3. Russian River (Santa Rosa, CA)
  4. Lagunitas (Petaluma, CA)
  5. Bear Republic (Healdsburg, CA)
  6. Ruth McGowan’s (Cloverdale, CA)
  7. Anderson Valley Brewing (Boonville, CA)
  8. North Coast Brewing (Fort Bragg, CA)
  9. Eel River Brewing (Fortuna, CA)
  10. Redwood Curtain Brewing (Arcata, CA)
  11. Standing Stone Brewing (Ashland, OR)
  12. Oakshire Brewing (Eugene, OR)
  13. 10 Barrel (Bend, OR)
  14. Deschutes (Bend, OR)
  15. Boneyard Brewing (Bend, OR)
  16. Crux Fermentation Project (Bend, OR)
  17. Ninkasi Brewing (Eugene, OR)
  18. Hop Valley Brewing (Eugene, OR)
  19. Block 15 Restaurant & Brewery (Corvallis, OR)
  20. Rogue Farms (Independence, OR)