November 15, 2011


And then society does something awesome: carpooling with strangers.

Slugging, as it's called, is when a car pulls up to a line of waiting people, calls out a destination, picks up 2 random strangers, and hops in the carpool lane. Yes, trusting complete and total strangers with your commute, your car, and your life.

Why oh why would people do this, and in DC to boot? Hint: not because carpooling is environmentally friendly. Slugging has a number of benefits for both driver and passenger, which is what's making it so popular. The driver gets a quicker commute by skipping congested highways in the much emptier carpool lanes (and in some places escapes a toll, saving actual dollars) and the passengers get a free ride that's much faster and cheaper than public transportation. Win win!

The thing that makes slugging great (or rather, the thing that made news organizations take notice) is not necessarily that it's environmentally friendly or a nice time saver for everyone, it's that it came about organically and without government assistance or encouragement. People wait in line at the big employment centers in the city and sooner or later someone going their way will come along and offer up a ride. Completely for free.

I actually found out about this months ago (like, 8 months ago), but I was reminded of it this week because I've become carless.

That's right... my trusty little Hyundai which wasn't actually so trusty has finally gone kaput. It was a slow end and I kept telling it to just do this one thing (make another drive up to my hometown, jump my roommate's car, drive a little faster because I was running late) and I'd get it fixed. I also promised it new tires and shocks. But when Kelly Bluebook said my car wasn't worth even giving me an estimate (they can do that???) I decided it was time.

And now I really wish we had slugging in San Diego. Or some form of reliable public transportation. However, I'm incredibly fortunate to have people I can depend on. My roommate just so happens to work right down the street from me and usually starts and ends around the same time I do, and she's been awesomely driving me to and from work most days. I'm also fortunate to have a self-employed boyfriend who will let me use his car on days he doesn't need it and offers to drive me on days he does need it. And, by a stroke of good luck, my boss happens to have a spare truck he isn't using (due to some bad business luck on his end) and has generously offered to let me borrow it.

I wish I lived close enough to work to ride a bike, or that my city had public transportation (there isn't even a bus route near my work). But because most of my whole country is a must-have-car place I'll be buying myself a new car pretty soon here. Which makes me a little sad. I thought my car would make it to our 10 year anniversary, and I thought (and feared) I'd have it forever.

November 14, 2011


It's not surprising to hear stories like Ethiopian tribes killing their infants and children for what seem like ridiculous and insignificant reasons.

Like when a baby is born to a woman who hasn't gone through the marriage ceremony rites, or when a baby's top teeth come in before his bottom teeth, or when a child is injured in certain ways. These babies, called mingi, are cursed, and must be killed in order to protect the rest of the tribal members from drought, famine and death. The tribes don't see it as murder, they see it as protecting the rest of their members. By sacrificing one infant they see it as a sort of insurance policy that must not be allowed to expire.

Naturally, the mothers of these mingi children are sad at the loss of their babies. The connection they have with their babies while they're still developing is understated, and even when the women know they must give up their babies (often without even being able to look at them before they're killed) they still want to keep them. But they don't because they don't have a choice.

North Carolina used to (as recently as 2003) legally allow the forced sterilization of people deemed to have undesirable genetic traits, which included poverty, alcoholism and promiscuity, in order to improve the genetics of the area. The state eugenics board (aimed at "improving the genetic composition of a population") was formed in the 1920s and tens of thousands of women and men were sterilized until the 1970s. Many of the victims had no idea what was happening to them. One woman was sterilized at 13, immediately after giving birth to the child she had after her rape, and didn't find out about it until she was married 6 years later and trying to have more children.

This is America. Things like that should never happen here. It should never happen anywhere, but we're supposed to be a country of educated, free people. These victims, the ones who are still alive, might not even be compensated. The state issued an apology a few years ago, which was seen as too little too late. Sad.

November 5, 2011

No Excuse for Abortion

A person.

A proposed law in Mississippi will make it illegal to have an abortion except to save the mother's life. The new law will define "personhood" as a fertilized egg. Not even a growing fetus- a fertilized egg, two cells that haven't even implanted yet, which haven't even grown and don't have any nourishment in order to have a life. A fertilized egg will have full legal protection according to the law, which means it has the same rights as you and I and a person can be prosecuted for harming a fertilized egg. Including the mother carrying the fertilized egg.

So what if she has a natural miscarriage? Will it seem suspicious if she's unmarried? Or what if she does harmful things (drinking, eating mercury-laden fish) because she doesn't realize an egg has been fertilized? Sometimes women go weeks or even months before realizing they're pregnant, and if a fertilized egg is a person then a woman could be jailed for unknowingly harming or killing a "person."

What about birth control methods that prevent a fertilized egg from implanting? Or medical treatments that are lifesaving for a person but damaging to a fertilized egg? Even IVF is going to be sketchy under this law (and IVF is for people who want to have babies): an egg is fertilized outside of the uterus and then inserted in the hopes of implantation. Several eggs are used at once to increase the odds that one will implant and turn into a fetus and then into a baby. But what happens to those extra eggs? This new law will make it illegal for them to be discarded, which could mean parents who really want one baby might be forced to have several at once.

What about rape or incest? This new law insists that a resulting pregnancy will be more blessing than reminder of the rape, that women who go through with the pregnancy are happy they did, women who choose abortion regret it, and hey, there's always adoption (because there are so many families just waiting for an unwanted rape baby). One woman is standing up in favor is this proposed law, saying she is a rape survivor and regrets the abortion she had 13 years ago. Her words? "Rape is no excuse for abortion." She believes that what she did to her baby (the two cells that found each other in her uterus much like a tumor) was far worse than what her rapist did to her. And maybe it was. Maybe her 31 year old self is now regretting the baby she could have had at 18. But at 18 years old could she really have been in a good position to raise a baby she was forced to have? Does he really believe forcing other 18 year old women to have their rapists babies is for the best?

My biggest gripe with people who are so anti-abortion/pro-life as to want to legislate it and make it a crime for others to choose a different outcome is that adoption is always used as a fall back. Just have the rape baby and give it up for adoption, as if a life in foster care is good enough.

Maybe I'm just biased because I grew up knowing I was planned for, wanted (at least by one parent), provided for and taken care of, but I think all children deserve the same chance I got. Growing up in foster care, or in poverty because the mother had no choice but to give birth at a time she wasn't ready, or knowing you're unwanted and a burden, doesn't make for healthy productive adults. Sure there are those success stories of people who started out in shitty childhoods and became something great but they're not the majority. Shouldn't all kids be wanted? How would it feel to grow up in foster care because your mother couldn't bear looking at you because half your DNA and physical features belong to her rapist? How would you feel knowing our father was a rapist and probably has no idea you even exist? It doesn't seem reasonable to me. And that's why I believe the option to abort a fertilized egg or fetus should remain legal. It just means there's a choice, it doesn't mean that legal abortion becomes mandatory. If you want to have the baby you conceived after being raped you can, but if you decide that's an undue punishment you don't have to, and if you don't want an abortion but don't want a baby you can give it up for adoption. Three options to choose from, since no one chooses to be raped.

But that's just me. And if this thing passes Mississippi will be even more missable.