Friday, June 22, 2012

Migraine Musings

My week started with the most horrendous migraine. I have had migraines since I was a little girl. I'm 36 now and am just beginning to understand what triggers my migraines: FOOD! Here's a list of the foods I suspect are causing my migraines:

Wheat -- anything that is made with wheat, from bread to pasta. White or wheat... it all makes my gut unhappy and my head even worse. So I am thinking that I am super sensitive to GLUTEN.

GLUTEN-sensitivity is only now emerging, in recent years, as a common diagnosis. My grandmother used to prepare gluten all the time as a protein replacement in some of her meals (even though there's no protein in it). Her religion called for vegetarianism. I was never very fond of the gluten and now that I know I am sensitive to it, I have dropped the consumption of it.

MEAT - particularly BEEF. Beef causes a serious migraine for me but it is also my favorite protein. In terms of taste, Beef is IT for me. Short Ribs (my favorite cut), Chuck Roast, Spencer Steak, Corned Beef, Rib Steak, London Broil... I could go on and on. Why would such flavor be such a menace to my brain? **sigh**

QUINOA - I just started putting this on the menu at home. The couple of times I ate it at Down To Earth, I remember getting a terrible migraine after consuming it but did not make the connection until I started preparing it at home. I was going to make this grain a regular part of my diet but I quickly learned that this grain is soooo not for me!

Anyway, many of the ailments we all have can be linked back to food. So, I suggest that maybe you start keeping a food journal and take particular note of how your body feels during and after consumption. My migraines feels like my brain wants to explode out of my skull. I feel like if I stuck a needle in my eye it would relieve the pressure. I get nauseous and completely sensitive to light and sounds. Having a migraine is just not a good place to be. If I can prevent it, I will do so at all costs!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fat: Contemplating a Solution

I've been turning it over in my head for about a year now:::: getting the Lap Band surgery. I want a better quality of life and a smaller waist size. Honestly, if my stomach was in correct proportion to my body, I don't think I would mind as much. But it's not. If I keep on this way -- I'm looking at Diabetes, Heart Disease, Stroke and all the diseases that come with obesity. Many of you have read my blogs on here discussing my excess weight and committing to losing the extra pounds but here I am still the same size I was a couple years ago. What motivates me is that I was about 50 pounds lighter when husband and I got married. That's a big difference. I really need to shed this weight and get rid of it once and for all.

Some of the pro's of the LapBand surgery that I've read so far:

  • No visible scar -- the incision is made in the navel. One incision. That rocks!

  • Fully reversible -- if it's not working for you, you just get it "undone".

  • No supplements for nutrition.

  • Adjustable -- if it's too tight or too lose, you just get it adjusted.

The voice inside my head, along with the advice of my husband, says that I have all the know-how to lose weight without surgery. My husband, at his largest was about 290. He is now a slim and svelte 220. He did it all-natural, without the use of any drugs. He just committed to working out and eating right and if he didn't eat right then he worked out double hard. He is such an inspiration but he makes it look so easy and I know it's not! **shrugs**

About a month ago I went on youtube and searched for lap band surgery. They actually have videos of the procedure being done. It looks so painful to me so when I watched it, I vowed to myself that I would not get the surgery done. But here I am... contemplating the surgery. What gives me serious doubts about getting the surgery done is that what I've read about it reads like a science-fiction movie. In my mind, I'm thinking that I can totally do this on my own if I commit to losing the weight. COMMIT to being healthier. COMMIT to increasing my quality of life now and into old age. Fat people just don't live long so I have to change the habits NOW.

Amateur Photographer: Weekend Wedding

Here are a few shots from a wedding I helped a friend shoot. None of the pictures are of faces due to the fact that I haven't yet given the pictures over to the Bride & Groom.

Photography has always been a hobby of mine. I often think about going professional (getting paid to do it) but... maybe. maybe not.

I love weddings, especially really romantic weddings where everything is genuine; nothing contrived. Weddings where the sentiments that are expressed are so meaningful and everyone is having a good time and the new family relationships (inlaws) are a match also.

My husband is off to the American continent to visit his folks. I could have gone but I have so much to do back here that it just wasn't the right time. I miss him dearly. The last time we were apart was in 2009 when I attended a conference for work in Oklahoma. Now, he's in Oklahoma visiting his mother, sister, and aunt for the week. I'm glad he could go but I feel so lost without him. I cried all the way home from the airport and thought of how much my dad must miss my mom too. **sigh**

Anyway -- enjoy the pics. I loved editing them! Click on the pic to enlarge it.

The bride was getting ready in a tiny banquet room. There was a ladder left in there from the setup. It was the perfect prop!

I love the shoes. At least everyone matched. The bride opted for some tennis shoes for comfort and so that she wouldn't tower over the groom.

Ringless hand... not yet married. Palms sweaty. Nervous.

The bracelet on the Brides wrist is special to her.

I love the lighting in this.

It's not official until you sign.

Execute the document that merges your two lives.

Mirrors and candle light.

The head table.

Head table ready for the arrival of the wedding party.

Cut the cake.

The cake looked so delicious. I so wanted some but they didn't distribute it to the guests.

Green anthuriums. Nice.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Dragon Ate My Positive Attitude

I can't sleep.

I have so much on my mind.

So often, my mind is thinking up new ways to eek out a living. Not just go to work to make money but to actually have passion for what I do and make money doing it. I thought I wanted to be a photographer. **shrugs** Maybe I do, maybe I don't. I thought I wanted to be a lawyer (I know I don't, now). I thought that maybe I could be a teacher at the college level but that would require like 10 more years of school. To that, I respond with a big fat HELL NO! I turn 37 in August and I'm still trying to figure it all out.

Anyway within the last 10 years, aside from dreaming of being a writer, I have always always always wanted to own my own business. So when I say the Dragon ate my positive attitude: DRAGON=HAWAIIUSA Federal Credit Union. They have put a damper in my little journey toward being a business owner.

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While I wish I could sulk and deal with my frustration in a bottle of tequila, I know that I shouldn't and I won't. Instead, I'm going to exercise in the morning to prepare to fight the DRAGON again.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Oprah meets the Kardashians?

Oprah is catching a lot of flack for her feature of the Kardashian family. I have no idea who they are except that Kim Kardashian is now a part of the cast of one of my favorite TV shows, Drop Dead Diva. I have never watched the show, Keeping up with the Kardashians because they all seem wildly dysfunctional. For me, there is no entertainment value in watching that type of show. I don't get why people enjoy their show.

I follow Oprah and OWNTV on Twitter as well as on Facebook and I was surprised when Oprah posted why she interviewed the Kardashian family.

The comment section was pretty brutal on this and it seemed to have accumulated so quickly. I was not a really big fan of the Oprah talk show because I just didn't get any entertainment value from some of the stories she featured. Rape, Incest, Molestation, and all those things just served to depress me so I rarely ever watched Oprah's talk show. I know she featured more than that but some of the topics were not my reality. I just could not connect. My mother and father loved the show though. **shrugs**

Anyway, back to the Kardashians. I find it funny that Oprah would want to interview them. Of course, they're just normal people that had a really good agent to promote their dysfunction (think The Osbournes on MTV) and acquire a TV deal for them, right? And if this is the case, isn't Oprah just helping to promote more of the same? I remember watching Oprah's Master Class, the one that features her. She explains how she made an abrupt change in the direction that she wanted to take her Television show. She remembers speaking to a skinhead and he called her a monkey because she was Black. In that moment she realized that she was promoting Neo-Nazi brand of hatred by providing a platform for them to spread their message.

What, may I ask, is she spreading by featuring the Kardashians? I just don't get it but I'm curious as hell.

Will you be tuning in to the Oprah meets Kardashians episode?

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Eugenics, Free Will, and Power: Part V

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First, I argue that eugenics desires to cleanse the human race. Second, I argue that eugenics is aimed at interrupting humanity’s free will. Previously I mentioned how Roe v. Wade legalized abortion and it’s affect on the African-American community. A reduction in the fertility rate of African-American women is frightening in comparison to how little has changed in the fertility rate of White women. The fertility rate is an obvious indication of the phenomena of eugenics.

We can talk race all day long and the differences in privilege between African-Americans and White communities however the focus of this essay is on how a handful of eugenicists and scientists are shaping the type of human beings that will prevail in the future. The circumstances could easily change and it could be that the African-Americans did not see a change in the fertility rate and the White women did. However that is not the case here. The results are clear that there is one portion of society that seeks to reduce or eliminate another segment of society. The interruption of free will, I argue, happens because there are several groups that have been created to “cleanse” the earth of undesirable human traits and undesirable human beings. There is one group that is claiming to be the responsible group, in this case the eugenicists, while another group is unconscious of the policies being applied to their existence. Medical experimentation of oral contraceptives and other reproduction procedures are used on women in developing countries. It is a common practice. Governments have been urged to allocate resources for research in human reproduction and fertility regulation (Skegg). There are many examples that can be used to illustrate the influence of the government over its citizens, worldwide, to regulate how people reproduce especially in the case of poor and undeveloped peoples.

The problem then with eugenics and free will comes down to who has the power and governing authority to exert control over another. Eugenics is a tool of people in power and the nature that is used to implement policy to discourage reproduction by “unfit” parents is in itself deceitful. The United States, through the American Eugenics Society and the Eugenics Records Office, has been a leader in eugenics. Those groups have dissolved but continue to have a presence in modern America through the missions of select groups like Planned Parenthood and the World Health Organization. Hitler’s scientists looked to the U.S. for guidance on forced sterilization and the obvious racial cleansing that they so desired.

North Carolina in the United States is the only state that allows access to its sterilization records. They initiated more state-sponsored sterilizations per capita since the inception of the program in 1937 until it reformed its policies in the 1960’s. Social workers were able to petition the state to assert sterilization on its clients (Schoen). There were many states that had the same practices of which none of its records can be accessed at this time. However, it is safe to assume that other states used the same procedures against its citizens.

In the early 20th Century when the eugenics movement was emerging, some women were in support of it citing women’s health problems that arise out of constant childbearing and the inability to care for the children they already have as the motive. Sterilization seemed to be a better avenue for contraception. This type of thinking was most prevalent in poor, minority neighborhoods.

My final argument is that humanity’s concept of free will is compromised by eugenic science. If this is true then I have already concluded that humanity is free to choose his or her life and is not a victim of his or her circumstances. We are each independent, responsible agents with the right to self-determination. However, in the case of eugenics, we are not free to determine the natural course of our life.

Free will or self-determination is dependent on social structures. We are all born into certain social structures. Across the planet are vastly different cultural values and practices. Our ability to exercise free will is dependent on them. In Free Will and Continental Philosophy David Rose explains that we can separate this into two different types of freedom, subjective (the freedom of the agent to satisfy his or her wants, aspirations and projects) and objective (the social structures, institutions, norms, meaning and expectations that maintain, sustain, and promote subjective freedom) (152). If this is true then we are subject to a social lottery. Some of us are born into countries that may promote subjective freedom and thus are freer than others on the planet.

Inserting the science of eugenics and allowing certain governments and organizations to establish social and legal policy on human reproduction undermines the idea of subjective freedom. Rose explains, “An agent is free if he or she is capable of acting in such a way as to satisfy his or her desires, aspirations and projects. The objective institutional structure of a society either aids or hinders such action (153). What eugenics does, because those in power promote it, is assert their objective onto unknowing people and removes the ability for a person to exercise choice.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom

If my mother were still alive, she would have been 64 today but she only lived to be 63.

If my mother were still alive, I would have asked her to recount every single year of her life. "What was it like to grow up in Samoa?"
"Mom, tell me what it was like to lose your father at a young age. I can't imagine having lost mine."
"Who were your friends and what did you do for fun?"
"Mom, tell me what it was like to wash clothes in the stream or ride horse back along the beach."
"Mom, tell me what it was like to dig for clams for dinner and walk several miles to the plantation."
"What was it like, Mom, to use an outhouse."
"Tell me Mom, what was it like to be you?"

If my mother were still alive, I would have spent this entire past year learning how to crochet. She had been trying to teach me it all of my life.
"Sorry Mom!"

If my mother were still alive, I would have been so proud to show her my gardening techniques and my recycling techniques... all the things that she was so famous for.

If my mother were still alive, I would have taken her to the graveyard to clean Great-Gramma's grave and Aunty Anapogi's grave. She always wanted to go but I was always too busy doing something else. I find myself at the graveyard often... wishing I could hear her voice just one more time.

If my mother were still alive, I would hug her every day. I would tell her how much I love her and how grateful I am that she's my mother.

If my mother were still alive...

If only my mother were still alive...

Monday, June 04, 2012

Eugenics, Free Will, and Power: Part IV

A novel by Ira Levin titled The Boys from Brazil and a movie of the same name presents a deterministic type of scenario, which is relevant to eugenics and the concept of free will. The main plot of The Boys from Brazil is the reemergence of Nazi ideology. A surviving medical doctor, Josef Mengele (played in the movie by Gregory Peck), from the concentration camps of Nazi Germany wishes to reconstruct the life of Hitler in Brazil. Mengele has placed ninety-four clones of Hitler with ninety-four different civil servants in Brazil. They are placed as infants. When each of the ninety-four clones reaches thirteen years of age, Mengele sets off on a crusade to have all ninety-four fathers killed. Mengele desires to create the same circumstances that Adolf Hitler endured in the hopes that it would lead at least one of the ninety-four to become Hitler and resurrect Nazi idealism.

The Boys from Brazil presents one single question: are we all victims of circumstance? If we are victims of circumstance then free will must surely cease to exist or has never existed. Eugenics, much in the same manner as The Boys from Brazil, creates the ideal circumstances for a stated objective. In “Boys,” the objective was to recreate Adolf Hitler. Mengele used the right DNA and attempted to recreate Hitler’s childhood for each of the ninety-four boys all in an attempt to recreate Hitler in a very deterministic way. Of course, this is fiction but it gives pause to the idea of eugenicists in the modern era doing the same.

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Sunday, June 03, 2012

Eugenics, Free Will, and Power: Part III

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In this section, I discuss the idea of free will and determinism. Free will stipulates that we have the full capacity to choose a path in every moment. The past does not influence the present and the future is unpredictable. There are two features of free will. First is our own realization that we have the ability to decide our fate. We are our own captains of our destiny. We are reasonably competent in making various choices from day to day. Determinism states the opposite: that everything in the past has led up to this very moment and that the future can be predicted based on past events. There are certainly statistics that suggest that the latter is truer than the former. This is the second feature of free will that even though we accept that we can make our own decisions, much of the decisions we make are based on previous life experience. At the time a decision is made, we surmise that it is done of our own free accord yet we must come to a realization that the decision is a result of our heritage, our culture, our upbringing, our education, possibly our biological makeup.

Our modern idea of justice and the legal system hinges on the idea that at any moment a person makes a decision of his or her own free will and is not a product of life experience. The legal system presumes that a person that has committed a crime must be held responsible because he or she could have selected a different choice. Most of society can operate in the world as moral and legal free agents. However there is significant evidence suggesting that perhaps we are more subject to the influencing factors around us rather than responsible agents.

The entire advertising industry is centered on the idea that an ad can create circumstances such that a person is forced and/or compelled to purchase a certain item. The sex-driven media can turn the sight of a Fiat 500 Abarth into a mid-day fantasy of a foreign language-speaking woman. The commercial features a studious Caucasian male wearing glasses, dressed in business attire walking down a busy street. At the curbside is a supermodel bending over. He stops to stare at the sight before him. When the supermodel realizes that the man is gawking at her she approaches him, backs him up against a street lamp, scolds him in a foreign language, tugs on his tie, and slaps him. When the man comes out of his walking daydream, he looks at the curbside and sees a Fiat 500 Abarth automobile. I mention the ad to expose one thing, that human thinking can be shaped and prodded to do certain things by creating the illusion of a desired outcome. The ad illuminates the idea that the human mind can be manipulated! Advertising agencies have pre-determined for its viewers what would be effective in pursuing a stated objective. The objective is to sell cars. The illusion they created is that a Fiat is as beautiful as a supermodel and that the average person must have it.

Free will’s defining problem is whether or not individuals are selecting their own independent choices as free agents. The opposite would be that all of our thoughts and activities are determined completely by prior choices. Since the Big Bang, are we all fated to live a certain way? David Edward Rose presents the problem of determinism:
If we accept determinism, then, if I knew all the laws of the universe and the initial starting conditions, I should be able to deduce and predict the whole of history. Now, such knowledge is beyond any one person, but that does not falsify the position. The point is, if the theory of determinism is true, that it seems to undermine ethical action because if no agent acts feely, then there is no such thing as moral responsibility (11).

The only alternative to determinism is to go back to the concept of free will in which we are all free to choose in every moment. We are not fated to behave a certain way or accomplish specific things.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Eugenics, Free Will, and Power: Part II

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Some Politicians and Social Engineers in the last century and a half have used the science of eugenics to help progress their movement in an effort to implement their ultimate goal of population reduction and control. Some techniques that have been used are birth control, abortion, forced sterilization, human experimentation, and even murder. There are hardly any positive connotations in relation to eugenics even though early proponents had good intentions (Gillham 84). Galton and other eugenicists desired to eliminate mental illness and other diseases from the world, along with other social ills like violence and promiscuity. The approach was to breed it out of existence and end the misery caused by illness and disease.

Initially, with Galton’s intention of perfecting humanity, the idea behind eugenics was to encourage reproduction by “fit” parents and discourage the reproduction by “unfit” parents. Galton was keen on producing pedigree data on his subjects and presented this in his book Hereditary Genius (Gillham 88). Galton surmised that human beings inherited traits from their parents. This “theory of inheritance” drives Galton to adopt the concept of nature versus nurture and eliminates the idea of “acquired characteristics” (Gillham 92).

Special interest groups in America have lobbied for legislation to support involuntary-sterilization laws in the recent past, prior to Roe v. Wade. Spearheading the charge is the American Eugenics Society and the Eugenic Records Office. Three past presidents of Planned Parenthood, a large proponent of the abortion and contraceptive movement, appear in the membership records of the American Eugenics Society (Messall 34). There are all sorts of statistics to support the idea that there is a segment of society that is targeted for elimination by the programs that were created by the eugenicists. Rebecca Messall’s controversial article, The Long Road of Eugenics: From Rockefeller to Roe v. Wade gives a shocking account of eugenics in America and around the world. She paraphrases Bertrand Russell stating, “Eugenics is based on the premise that people are not equal, that some are lesser than others; particularly people who are disabled, but also people who are not white, or who are not well educated, or who are weakened by age or illness (33).”

Within the last century and a half, wealthy American families like the Carnegies and Rockefellers have funded scientists who studied genetics and racial hygiene (Messall). Probably one of the more vocal and well-paid eugenicists in her era was Margaret Sanger who founded Planned Parenthood under the guise of sexual health and reproduction. The organization supports the use of contraceptives and abortion as a way of planning a family. It still exists today and was pivotal in Roe v. Wade, which affords a woman the right to have an abortion. The legalization of abortion has had a “disparate effect on African-Americans (Messall 33),” reducing the fertility rate per one thousand women from 84.9 to 65.8. Whereas the fertility rate for whites moved down only slightly from 65.6 to 64.8 per one thousand women (Messall 33). If the aim of eugenic organizations is to reduce the population of a certain segment of society, it is succeeding.

There are some positive implications associated with eugenics. Eva M. Neumann-Held, in the article Can It Be A Sin to Understand Disease, suggests that people in the modern era must disconnect from the eugenics of the 1930’s (6). Modern scientists are more interested in investigating the role of genes in disease. Neumann-Held defines genes as something that is “inherited, has to do with DNA, and influences the shaping of traits in the development of living beings and, over evolutionary times, of biological species (6).” Proponents of eugenics suggest that the practice of breeding out negative tendencies will help to end misery and illness and disease. Conversely, there are so many questions about how eugenics plans to do that. Prenatal testing can now confirm whether a fetus will have Downs Syndrome or Spina Bifida (Lawler 73). We now have the ability to either terminate the pregnancy or continue on as nature intended. It all seems so sterile, so sanitary, so harsh to test an unborn child for physical and mental defects and then choosing to end its life based on the results. However, Bioethicists say that it is “cruel to choose just for life; nobody should choose misery and pain for another (Lawler 74).” We have the right to think of our own lives and determine the best way to enhance and increase the quality of life.

However grand the American Eugenics Society’s master scheme might have been in manipulating human behavior and eliminating certain segments of the population, ultimately the damage is done on an individual scale, first, then balloons into a social phenomenon that produces shocking statistics like the reduction in fertility rate mentioned previously. The negative implications of eugenics only get worse with government involvement such as Hitler’s and yet it is disturbing to think that this segment of science will go unregulated.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Eugenics Free Will and Power: Intro

The topic I have selected to research is eugenics. There are several things that can be discussed under this topic. The way that eugenics is promoted to the general population is that it is a way of creating a more perfect human race. Early eugenicists had good intentions and thought “natural selection would improve if it were guided by human intelligence” (Gillham 84). Eugenics as defined on
…Is the study or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits (negative eugenics) or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits (positive eugenics).

I expand the general definition of eugenics to include government-sponsored programs that are directed to manipulate the general population in the efforts to purify or clean the human race.

There are three components to this paper. First, I give a brief explanation of eugenics and a brief historical background within the United States. Second, I discuss and explain the concept of free will and determinism outside of the concept of eugenics. It is a general assessment of the ideas behind the two opposing theories. The final component of the paper brings eugenics and free will together in a discussion that asserts two things. I argue that eugenics is first, a method of human cleansing and second that it is aimed at interrupting humanity’s free will.

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