Thursday 23 August 2012

Is the right answer counterintuitive? Part 1

Two plus two equals four. There doesn't seem to be any room for debate about that one, does there? However there are many things in life which are open for debate. While some may be amusing, some have a big impact not just on our individual lives, but life in general, our collective life as a society. I am struck over and over again how we adamantly hold onto beliefs without any proof that said beliefs are in fact justified. This is the question I raised in the title of this article. Is our intuition really based on a set of unproven beliefs, superstitions if you will, which leads us to overlook the right answer, the true right answer? Are we repeating the same actions in the vague hope that things will eventually work out and we'll be vindicated?

America's Embargo of Cuba
Years ago one of the columnists in TIME magazine, Joel Stein I think, made a compelling argument for the United States to use the export of its own culture as a means of influencing and perhaps "taking over" in air quotes regimes it found unfavourable to its own view of the world. Rather than resort to sanctions, embargoes, even war, America should promote itself, its products and services, to the people in the streets, to develop in those people a taste for all things American including liberty, freedom of speech, and the right to vote. Falling back on the idea that it is more successful if you get somebody to want to do something as opposed to making them do something, the export of culture would develop a revolution from within. Don't force a regime to tow the line, get the people to rise up against the regime and kick it out of power.

All these years, just what has the embargo of Cuba achieved? The Soviet Union was the mother of all Communist evil and yet, because it was too big to ignore, the United States has always had a relationship with this country. Always. Right up to when it fell. And there is little old Cuba still going like the Energizer bunny. If the U.S. through the arms race or whatever takes some credit in changing the world political map, it is curious how it has failed to change one Caribbean island.

Wikipedia: United States embargo against Cuba
"Future students of American history will be scratching their heads about this case for decades to come. Our embargo and refusal to normalize diplomatic relations has nothing to do with communism. Otherwise, we wouldn't have had diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War, with China since Nixon, and with Vietnam despite our bitter war there. No, Cuba was pure politics. Though it started out to be a measure of an administration's resistance to Castro's politics, it very soon became a straight-jacket whereby first-generation Cuban-Americans wielded inordinate political power over both parties and constructed a veto over rational, mature diplomacy."
— Gary Hart, former U.S. Senator, March 2011

Get Rid Of Abortion
Notice that I didn't say outlaw it, I said get rid of it. An abortion represents an unwanted pregnancy. If all pregnancies happened when a woman wanted it to, when she was ready emotionally, financially, and spiritually (including maritally?), there would be no abortions. How much simpler can it be than that?

Unfortunately, the pro-life movement has completely focused on abortions instead of the idea of unwanted pregnancies and therein lies the problem. The pro-life movement believes that there is one and only one way to deal to avoid this issue and that is to abstain from sex. That's the theory. In practice, abstinence just isn't achieving the level of sex or non sex one would hope for. Why? Our sexual urges are not quite as controllable as we might think. When you look at the statistics, I'd say the world doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of ever seeing abstinence working. Just think about it. If I argue that if everybody used matches to start fires in a prudent manner following all practices for fire safety, we wouldn't need fire trucks because there would be no fires. Do I hear anybody voting to disband fire departments? I don't think so. We all know well enough that accidents will happen despite our best intentions and we better be prepared for them.

Yes, oddly enough, I agree with pro-lifers about the idea of having no abortions, but from there our ideas about how to achieve such a goal differs greatly. I am a firm believer in doing anything, yes, absolutely anything to eradicate unwanted pregnancies. This includes condoms, birth control, and for God's sake sex education. But what's the truly odd part of this story? By removing sex education and access to birth control, the rate of abortions goes up. Yep, the very policies put forward by the pro-lifers to stop abortions actually increase the number of abortions.

Guttmacher Institute - Feb 24/2009
1.94 Million Unintended pregnancies and 810,000 abortions are prevented each year
By providing millions of young and low-income women access to voluntary contraceptive services, the national family planning program prevents 1.94 million unintended pregnancies, including almost 400,000 teen pregnancies, each year. These pregnancies would result in 860,000 unintended births, 810,000 abortions and 270,000 miscarriages, according to a new Guttmacher Institute report. Absent publicly funded family planning services, the U.S. abortion rate would be nearly two-thirds higher than it currently is, and nearly twice as high among poor women.

my blog: Abortion: My final word on unwanted pregnancy
The point to my articles is just this: If a woman didn't pregnant, she wouldn't need an abortion. Ah, but I should be more precise. If a woman "wanted" to be pregnant, she wouldn't want an abortion. Yes, abortion is an issue; I'll let everybody else waste their time and effort arguing their stance to the other camp until they're blue in the face. I want to move upstream and deal with the issue BEFORE the pregnancy occurs. I want to be preventative. Yes, curative is good; curative is important but what can we collectively do to prevent us from even getting to an abortion.

Fight drugs but have needle exchange programs
When I say drugs, I'm not talking about your weekend warrior enjoying a doobie at a rock concert. I'm talking about your addict for whom drugs has become the daily obsession. I'm sure we would all want to help but sometimes helping seems oddly supportive.

Needle exchange programmes have as an objective to reduce the harm suffered by injecting drug users (IDUs) in using unsterile or contaminated equipment. Think about this. Society would like addictive behaviour to stop. Society would like there to be no addicts. But it admits that such a goal is at least today unobtainable so the better social policy is to control the phenomenon and not exacerbate it. If an addict is kept healthy in the sense of not getting ill from unsterile needles or from contracting HIV from a fellow addict, they may someday shake off their addiction. Plus, society itself doesn't bear the burden of an ill addict or another HIV infected person. Yes, we want to get rid of addicts but we supply them with clean needles.

Wikipedia: Needle-exchange programme
A comprehensive study by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2004 stated that there is a "compelling case that NSPs substantially and cost effectively reduce the spread of HIV among IDUs and do so without evidence of exacerbating injecting drug use at either the individual or societal level."

Erectile Dysfunction: all you need is Viagra
Not true. With or without ED, all you need is love. Right on the box it clearly states that the drug will help with blood flow but, and that's a big but, a man still needs to be sexually excited to get an erection.

my blog: Erectile dysfunction or just not sexually aroused
... while erectile dysfunction can be a physical condition... Stress or anxiety, low self-esteem, marital or relationship problems, performance anxiety and even an unsatisfactory sex life can have an impact on a man's performance, that is, can leave a man not "in the mood". Not being in the mood is not erectile dysfunction; it's just not being "in the mood". Gee, where have I heard this before? (hint: women not being "in the mood")

Men cheat because they're all a bunch of horny old toads
my blog: Sex: And the #1 reason why men cheat is...
All men are horny old toads. They can't keep it in their pants. Their wandering eye is without remorse. When the blood rushes from their head, their higher brain functions like morality, common sense and decency give way to unbridled lust, depravity and behaviour of the nefarious kind. Is it just something that is in our genes? This is where you chime in with, "Or is it just something that is in their jeans?"

A marriage counselor for over 20 years, rabbi and author Gary Neuman conducted a two-year study involving 200 men -- 100 who cheated and 100 who remained faithful. His findings form the basis of his 2008 book The Truth About Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do To Prevent It. What Neuman learned defies most commonly-held beliefs about why men cheat. Of the men surveyed:

* 92% say it's not just about sex
* 88% say the other woman isn't better looking or in better shape
* 55% don't tell their wives or deny cheating even when confronted with evidence
* 48% say cheating is about an emotional disconnection from their wives
* 12% would cheat no matter what

Divorce: your spouse has lost his (or her) mind
Not every person is the same. Not every couple is the same. Not every divorce is the same. Nevertheless for me there seems to a common thread to many if not all of the stories. You don't really know what's going on in the mind of your spouse. And it may very well be that he or she doesn't know either. After all, do any of us truly know what motivates us? Why does that person like chocolate ice cream but vanilla is my favourite? Although chocolate syrup can be good for a sundae and sometimes even for a Saturday. But I digress with a cheap thrill from a sexual innuendo.

In the 2010 book "This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness", author Laura Munson (my blog: Laura Munson: Save a marriage by doing nothing) recounts how her husband announced one day that he no longer loved her. Her response was that she didn't buy it. The truth seems to be that her husband was suffering a major personal life crisis brought on by a career failure, an excess of debt, and the fear of losing their farm. She gave him six months but he only took four to work things out and he came back a renewed man.

Some of the comments to a newspaper article about the book condemned Ms. Munson by saying she was a doormat and she should have booted him out from the beginning. Obviously if Ms. Munson had followed their counsel she would now be divorced and she wouldn't have a book. Nevertheless she fortunately took another approach based on a more correct assessment of the situation and her bet paid off.

The question here is whether anybody truly knows what's going on in the head of the other person. If a marriage heads south, what's the reason? The real reason?

Because he's a lying, two-faced sonofabitch. He can't keep it in his pants. He's a sex addict. He's a goddamn perverted deviant jackin' off to Internet porn. He's an ungrateful, unfaithful, untrustworthy, underhanded un-man with a tiny d**k. He's a selfish @#$%^* whore-chasing douchebag that deserves to be chemically castrated then banished to some far-flung South Sea island where he'll be forced to work on a chain gang for the rest of his rotten miserable life. (my blog: Why did that @#$%^* bastard divorce me?)

I would now refer back to Gary Neuman's 2008 book "The Truth About Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do To Prevent It" in which the author states that 92% of the men he surveyed said their cheating is not just about sex, 88% said the other woman wasn't better looking or in better shape and 48% said cheating was about an emotional disconnection from their wives. What? Just what the heck is really going on? Does anybody really know? After all, if you have no idea what the problem is how do you fix anything?

People seemingly go bats**t crazy and or become belligerent because they feel trapped. They see no way to escape. It doesn't matter whether this is true or false in your eyes, in their eyes it just feels that way. Obviously not every marriage can be saved but it's certain that if you can't identify it, you ain't gunna fix it.

my blog: Negotiating: Take what you want or get what you want
“The only people with whom you should try to get even with are those who have helped you.”
-John E. Southard

... continued in part deux


my blog: Is the right answer counterintuitive? (Part Deux)

Wikipedia: Blivet
A blivet, also known as a poiuyt, devil's fork or widget, is an undecipherable figure, an optical illusion and an impossible object. It appears to have three cylindrical prongs at one end which then mysteriously transform into two rectangular prongs at the other end.


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