February 1, 2024: Today’s Hunter-Gatherer Hunts for Information

Gathering information is like gathering mushrooms—some are healthy, some can kill you.  Hoo-nōs

A work of art does not answer questions, it provokes them; and its essential meaning is in the tension between the contradictory answers.  Leonard Bernstein

There is nothing new that follows, but to the extent of what is known, it seems not much is considered or acted upon by enough of us.

Premise #1/2: Abortion as a regular means of birth control is at best, lazy.  That is likely the only real point about intervening, and such an intervention also means creating opportunities for available birth control and for access to such prescriptions as the “morning-after pill.”  However, the subject has become a chaotic carnival platform where we’ve lost ourselves in the tall weeds and are busy trying to chop our way out, but forgetting others are also wandering about in that field swinging a scythe.  What could possibly go wrong?   The issue of abortion is not about a simple-solution or a one-point fix. Trying to do so is as lazy as a woman who uses abortion as her regular birth-control method of choice, when other choices to prevent conception or end it quickly are made available.

Consider: That which has a heartbeat can still end others, including heartbeats in the womb, heartbeats of the mother, heartbeats of the stridently-against birth control, including politicos or judicial decisions or voters who supposedly want to honor the sanctity of life.

The central nervous system grows from the bottom-up and dies from the top-down.  For this reason alone, it becomes important to know the difference between “stages” of prenatal development as well the development of babies, infants, pre-adolescents, adolescents, and young through old adult life, if we are really considering the wellbeing of those involved at any of those points.

Apparently, it takes about a month after conception (the first two weeks after conception are called the germinal stage) to set-up processes for central-nervous-system development.  The completion of the embryonic stage—which ends about eight to ten weeks after conception, is where the transformation to the physical infrastructure is nearly complete. Lots of developmental and neural “tweaks” proceed in the fetal stage. It is late in the embryonic and early in the fetal stage that the growing being is now fully recognizable as human.  But that does not mean it is a viable human (can the fetus live outside the womb?).  And even at the point of viability (now about 24 weeks post-conception), we’re not yet talking about “complete” cerebral-cortex development, which is considered to take about 28-ish years (I’m in the camp who think there is no “completion”—growth, though slower, continues).

As we all know, a brainstem-only life does not seem like a viable one, whether it is at the beginning, during, or at the end of life.  Even at that, I do not personally feel qualified to make a quality-control category for others.   And even at viability and still in the womb, the fetus could be the death of the mother. So, a total abortion ban means we do not give a shit about the life and wellbeing of either the mother or the unborn. A partial abortion ban that becomes law when a heartbeat is detected, or at 6 weeks after conception, or 15 weeks, or 24 weeks, or at any time during gestation, means we don’t give a shit about changes that could imperil the life or wellbeing of the mother or the unborn.  The premise that sperm and egg will get together does not mean they will.  The premise that conception means a human being to be, fails to consider what life is. A heartbeat!?  An embryo no matter what?  A fetus no matter what.  Not a mother, though—she’s had her life, right?  How is it that abortion means murder, but letting the mother die, does not?

With the exception of qualified obstetricians, how much weight should a group of folks be given who cannot or do not want to get pregnant, to dictate the outcome, much less to regulate it at all? Okay, fathers get a break here, but it’s a weighted issue—it is the one who is pregnant, who has the most input, with some exceptions. As with any quality-of-life decision, the one bearing the most to lose gets the biggest voice in deciding, short of major cognitive-emotional and/or biological issues impairing their understanding of what is happening.  And if that is the case, we need a judicial and support system who knows and embraces that justice means better living for everyone, not just those with loudest voices and/or the most money, and/or are the most threatening if they don’t get what they want. Relative to justice, how is any law that criminalizes abortion or those who help in the slightest, or outlaws leaving the state to get an abortion, embracing our Constitutional rights?  How is it a conservative issue if those who believe in a near static read of the Constitution and its principles, will still throw into entire disarray the rights afforded to us by that same document (as in all of us, not just the unborn over the born!)?  How does consideration of the malleability within a category, much less than the malleability of a category itself, get lost?  If one is going to be single-minded, perhaps it is about justice for all of us—which means considering nuance, not just that we care the unborn gets born.

Let us suppose we are psychics and know both the unborn and the mother will be physically healthy during the entire gestational period.  Do we pass a law making it criminal to end the pregnancy no matter the antecedents (or make draconian laws for any help in any way)?  For example, in a country so dead-set on individual choice, do we force a pregnancy to continue despite any emotional trauma, like rape?  Have we even made available the opportunity for both birth control to prevent pregnancy or medication, like the morning-after pill, to end pregnancy even during the two-week gestational period where there is not even an embryo present?   Moms-to-be have to man-up, right?

Abortion decisions can be extremely difficult.  So can understanding the consequences.  Folks who want to regulate based on one bit of data alone are out-of-the gate just plain incorrect.

Premise #2/2:  I am unable to find any reference to Jesus claiming he was the savior.  Certainly others did make such claims. However, it seems to me that all the wise folks who came before us and those who are presently among us, do not claim to be saviors, instead, they point to ways we can save ourselves individually and therefore collectively. Yes, it is possible for one being or a small group to save a life or even some group of life.  But when it comes to human beings’ moral or quality of life, wisdom can help us see it, but doing it is what matters. Others cannot do it for us.  It is the authoritarian mantra that they can force us to be as we “should” (we need our civil butts spanked and there is only one origin of morality and only they know).  Right, and freedom-loving people everywhere are going for authoritarian because such a character has the ability to save us from ourselves? It is a false-equivalency to compare such “leaders” to Jesus or any wise prophet—neither they, nor any true prophet, nor any book, nor any “sappy” stories, ever claimed they could save us, they pointed the way. And, in fact and despite many good efforts at pointing, too many of us still have faulty moral compasses or kaput bullshit meters.  In the first place, such prophets were not in fact authoritarian, they were authoritative.  We (meaning enough to wreck it for the many) have not done so well in either the interpretation of, or in our actual civil behaviors. And those who claim that authoritarian “leaders” will help us to be better in the long run regardless of the ensuing chaos and loss of life, have a history of dead ancestors going “oh, yeah—how many more dead and how many more subdued, does it take?”

We do not elect leaders.  We hire them. Yes, we need good leaders, but being a good leader is about as diverse a skill as is being a good human being.  So we have to include in our decision what we know we do not want.  And that itself requires incredible nuance.  Hiring leaders is not a game show.  Do we need to hire a leader who thinks freedom requires blood be spilled (yep one such claim came from Thomas Jefferson) or is it that we require blood to be spilled because we’re too angry and too lazy to think and feel and practice civility and good will?  Do we want to hire a leader who feels calls for the right to judge others as “children of a lesser God”—vermin—(who shall throw the first stone?) because the “vermin” are not going to get rid of themselves?  Do we want to hire an uncivil, civil leader?  Do we want a hire one who cannot distinguish a fact from an interpretation, who cannot tell a false equivalency from a true one?  Isn’t that how we wind up in the weeds when we embrace such a hire? What if we knew the difference between someone advocating for our better angels, but are also able to carry a big stick, from those who seek a whack-a-wretch policy? The latter folks mostly are looking for wretches because it takes the spotlight off of their BS and wagon of wrong-doings (if you cannot spot the wretch at the table, you’re the wretch—because there just has to be one?).  Are there true wretches among us, born and bred?  If we do the best we can to not dehumanize and to provide the basic thriving needs, any real “category of wretches” will still be human beings, though they must be stopped.  But we are not talking about much of the population and we cannot use broad categories as our inclusive catch-all.

Bullet points in this arena:

Citizens United v. FEC (Federal Election Commission):

Philanthropy or donations are not limited to those with vast sums of money to give, but includes those who are able to suss out what civil liberties and thriving means to humanity (no, I personally have not reached such wisdom).  But it also can be done in small, but important ways—like picking up some trash along with not tossing it out in the first place, or to be aware of how their lights and noise and “pets” and hasty, angry judgments can infringe.

States, Feds, business entities, non-profits all have rights, but that does not mean they are all individuals, nor do they get the same rights afforded to individuals.  Even though individuals have rights, it does not mean the right to unilaterally infringe upon others and their rights. It seems to me that a collective is plural and does not mean a single individual, but a single collective. But, how does any individual or individual-collective get the right to own the headwaters or any resource while remaining unregulated, including the collection and dissemination of information?

Reportedly, a Supreme Court Justice took exception to then President Obama’s admonition that the ruling in Citizens United v. FEC would open the floodgates to large donations where individuals don’t have to be identified and where elections become unduly influenced.  Let’s say none of us really knew at the time what could happen.  We know now.  And we know that creating a non-profit turned into a dodge and not directly being able to interact with a candidate, did not stop influence peddling.  Politics is about collecting and disseminating information and that apparently requires tons of money. The point here is that the one-person, one-vote notion of democracy has been successfully attacked by such rulings, along with gerrymandering, making voting difficult, and constant assertions that voting is rigged (mostly by those who do things to get the voting outcome they want—more power).  If members of SCOTUS can hint in a decision that it might apply in other areas as well, can they put out a similar “hint” for bringing a request to review a prior ruling that now looks like a bad one (they can and have done so)?

Facts v. Interpretations:

Getting the facts correct is hard enough, and, like science, facts can change (the caveat most scientists use is “good for now, but more research is needed”).  But interpretations of the facts are not what makes facts, facts.  It is the chain-of-evidence beyond a “reasonable doubt” that is required (except in civil cases where a lower standard is in place, but a standard nonetheless).  It is clear we have had individuals, states, business entities, non-profits, etc. who were wildly incorrect and in many cases, even acted illegally and/or immorally against the rest of us. That does not mean the entirety of such an entity (from a family to a community, an ethnicity, a country, a political party, a religious denomination, etc.) is forever guilty and deserves punishment ad infinitum.  An individual acting illegally and/or immorally, does not mean their relatives or associates are also automatically guilty.  Labeling applied broadly must be applied carefully and then ignored when dealing with a particular individual or issue, otherwise we confuse patterns as particulars and interpretations as facts (or vice versa).

Voting or Hirings:

The leader or leaders of any country may not be representative of the rest of us, but they can sure create havoc if we don’t step-in before they’ve amassed an arsenal of weapons and sycophants and industrial/military complexes and courts to do their bidding.  It isn’t just government that can get too big for their britches, it is also any complex of power and influence.  It is also individuals who participate in a hire (vote) without getting and/or thinking about opposite points of view, and then walk away like they’ve done their civic duty. It’s even worse when we think our “I Voted” sticker is a badge allowing us to speak in venom-as-wisdom tones from the comfort of our armchair.  Okay, we can make honest mistakes in hiring, but to continue to do so?  More laziness at best?

Judging is easy.  Nuanced thinking and feeling are not.  Even if one is actually an expert, teaching others is best served with wonder.  And if we’re students—and we all are—learning is best approached with wonder. Beware of venom and shouts of hang-‘em by folks who didn’t get their way? Hire folks who are authoritative, who understand that laughing and crying at the same time, along with a healthy dose of wonder and a healthy dose of anti-venom, are characteristics we need—for those are the fountains of youth, civility, and wisdom.


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