Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Don't Let Everyday Sexism Stay Invisible

Women forget that men don't understand what it is like for us everyday. I read the following blog post and as I did, memories replayed in my mind of countless times these things happened to me and my friends. I learned quickly (as most women do) that this is our reality, that this is how life is for us.

This is not how it should be.

I don't want this to be the way it is for my daughters and their friends, but for now, it is.

I'm not saying that only women experience violence and sexism, so please don't go off on tangents about that with derailing comments. Recognizing one problem doesn't mean other problems don't exist.

Right now I'm talking about this problem. The problem that everyday sexism is a fact of life for the majority of women in the world. This article illustrates it well, and though I agree with her that it is important to hear and listen to women when they manage to speak about their experiences, I would encourage everyone of all genders and identities to do more than listen. Look. Watch for the things that go unmentioned. See what is happening around you, and when you do, offer whatever support you can. It might be a word or even just a look that says "I saw it too. You are not crazy. You are not alone." It might be more, it might be less, but be aware of it. Start seeing it.

Here is the link.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Flag On The Argument is worth sharing.

Flag on the argument! Haha! Like Liberal Mountain for more great memes! Credit for most of these go to Glen Welch.

Posted by Liberal Mountain on Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Monday, March 19, 2012

Vulcans really love green energy. It helps them live long and prosper.

I sometimes hear people ask the following question:
Why should we care about space exploration when we have problems here on earth?
That is a question that, I admit, frustrates me. To me it is obvious why space exploration matters, but I thought it might be good to get some of those thoughts and reasons down in one place that I can refer to when I get asked that question, so here it is. Or at least some of it, anyway. Let's begin with this great video that gives some perspective on NASA.

I really like the points that are made in this video. As I watched it and thought about it, something occurred to me. There is much talk these days about reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and on encouraging the development of  alternative energy technology. Yet at the same time we are cutting funding for NASA. This is extremely counter productive. Here is the reason why I say that. 
Fossil fuels cannot be taken into space to run mission equipment and technology like rovers, for example. It just isn't efficient. You need to have another way to power these things. 
Solar is one choice that works well. Hydrogen fuel cell technology might also be useful. What other options might we discover? What are the things that we haven't thought of yet? 
If we were actively engaged in a major space mission, like a return to the moon or a trip to Mars, we would need to improve the current technology and develop new tech to solve problems that would have to be overcome to reach these goals. This burst of technological creativity would translate directly to advancements in technology to benefit the rest of us who live here on earth. 
Practical application of space program technology over the years has led to advancements  in medicine, communications, computers, materials science, physics, astronomy, imaging, and earth sciences just to name a few. 
It also inspires our children to dream big and achieve big things. The space age inspired a whole generation of engineers and scientists of all kinds. What do we have to inspire our kids in science today? I try to show my own kids all the information I can about the history of space exploration and the things we have learned from it. But I have to wonder how they will be able to really see it as relevant to them when we (and our parents) have dropped the ball? 
We let it go. We stopped dreaming.We left the moon and never went back. I have never understood that. It seems so short-sighted, but there it is. What can I do about it? How can I change it? The only thing I can think of is to try to help more people become aware of what we are losing. We are losing the future and the progression of our species. I also teach my children all I can and try to encourage them to be scientifically literate. Maybe they can pick up the ball again and run with it. I hope they will. 

But even more than that, I hope we don't wait for them to do it.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Update to "What's so bad about knowledge?" post.

I'd like to encourage people to attend this event to show the governor how much support there is for a veto of this bill: https://www.facebook.com/events/284908834913197/
It is not too late to let your voice be heard! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What is so bad about knowledge?

The Utah State Legislature recently passed HB363, a bill that allows school districts to require abstinence-only sex education, prohibits the discussion of birth control and homosexuality, and also makes it illegal for teachers to answer student questions on these topics. Yes, you read that right. It makes some questions so off limits that the teacher cannot answer them under this law. Here is an excerpt from the bill: 

63 (b) [(i)  That instruction] Human sexuality instruction or instructional programs shall
64 teach and stress:
65 [(A)] (i)  the importance of abstinence from all sexual activity before marriage and
66 fidelity after marriage as the only sure methods for preventing certain communicable diseases;
67 and
68 [(B)] (ii)  personal skills that encourage individual choice of abstinence and fidelity.
69 (c)  Human sexuality instruction or instructional programs may not include instruction
70 in, the advocacy of, or the discussion of:
71 (i)  the intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation, or erotic behavior;
72 (ii)  homosexuality;
73 (iii)  contraceptive methods or devices; or
74 (iv)  sexual activity outside of marriage.
75 [(ii) (A)] (d) (i)  At no time may instruction be provided, including responses to
76 spontaneous questions raised by students, regarding any means or methods that facilitate or
77 encourage the violation of any state or federal criminal law by a minor or an adult.
78 [(B)  Subsection (1)(b) (ii)(A) does not preclude an]
79 (ii)  An instructor [from responding] may respond to a spontaneous question as long as
80 the response is consistent with the provisions of this section

Note that the lines I highlighted specify that questions can only be answered in accordance with the provisions set forth above, namely, no answers to questions that might involve intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation, erotic behavior (could they be more specific?), homosexuality, contraceptives or sexual activity outside of marriage. So, what exactly can they teach or discuss? This is so open ended and broad in what could be prohibited that I can't imagine a school district would allow ANY sex ed, and might even want to limit biology and human anatomy curricula just so they don't risk a law suit. 

But even setting aside those concerns, there are a lot of other problems with this. Studies have shown that abstinence only programs are not useful. If you read through those articles, you will notice that there seems to be some correlation between abstinence only education and increased teen pregnancy rates. As the article points out, correlation does not imply causation, but the data should give us pause. One thing that has been shown is that focusing so much on the failure rates of contraceptives without giving any other information about them seems to make teens who are sexually active less likely to use any protection. 

Utah is a very conservative state which is dominated by the values of a largely Mormon population. Given that fact, I don't think Mormon legislators have really thought this through. One of the predominant doctrines of Mormonism is the concept of free agency, or the importance of allowing people to know right from wrong and then to make their own choices based on conscience. This is where I am a bit baffled by the support for this bill. How can people be expected to make good choices if you insist on denying them access to good information about those choices? Knowledge and information is not evil. Teens need to have good, reliable information about their bodies in order to be healthy as well as responsible. Tell them the whole truth, teach them your values, and then realize that they are not you. They are separate people, individuals with their own identities and their own decisions to make. They will make their choices regardless of whether or not they have been educated. Don't we owe it to them to make sure they have the tools to make the best choices possible? Will they make mistakes? Of course they will. We all do. But do those mistakes have to be made as damaging as possible?

I know some people have said that teaching comprehensive sex ed is just allowing kids to get out of the consequences that come from such behavior. Really? How does that make sense? Why would we intentionally make things worse for our kids if they make a mistake? If a child  foolishly touches something hot and gets a minor burn (even though they were taught to stay away), no one in their right mind would then hold the child's hand to the hot object until the burn became a third degree wound. That would be cruel and pointless. So if a child chooses to be sexually active before marriage, why would we want to increase the risk to them? How will they feel when they learn that those mistakes (if that is how you see them) might not have had to be fatal, (which they could be for kids who have unprotected sex) or might not have had to have life long effects for them or their unplanned/unexpected children if they had only been given all of the facts? 

As a loving parent I could not do that to my kids. Please encourage Governor Herbert to veto this bill.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

We need more critical thinkers.

Blogging this late at night might be a bad idea. Then again it might not be. Lets find out which!

I saw this excellent article that had a series of 6 very short videos about critical thinking. They were produced by the Australian government and geared for their 8th -10th grade students.


I wish this was taught more in the U.S. I'm trying to teach these skills to my own family and thought I'd do my part to spread the word on logic and reasoning.

I want to hone my own skills in this area as well, as I can see that I have lots of room for improvement. I've also been trying to educate myself more on all the types of logical fallacies so that I can become better at spotting them, debunking them, and at avoiding using such arguments myself.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Is that a pedestal for me to stand on or are you just glad to see me?

This is the beginning of a new adventure for me. I'm not sure what this blog will become just yet. I'm still working on what the goals and focus of it will be. I do know this, though. It will have very little to do with homemaking. I just liked the alliteration. Well, that and I am both a homemaker and a heretic (at least by some people's standards).

I think it will be a good place for me to sort through my thoughts, save and share interesting links and articles, and encourage things that I think are important, like critical thinking skills.

In fact, I think I'll start with an article that I came across today. Here is the link (I hope):


I think the main reason I found this so interesting is because it describes something that I have experienced but had not been able to explain. Having lived most of my life as a member of the Mormon church (yes I know it is really The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but that name is just too long) I have had years of experience with benevolent sexism. It is in fact, doctrine. It has always bothered me, and this article shows why.