#16. Think very carefully before getting a pet

Most species of domesticated cats and dogs have evolved over time alongside humans. They are actually dependent on human companionship for the survival of their species and have no other “natural” habitat in which they would otherwise thrive.

However, the existence of the lap dog, the house-bound cat never allowed outside because they’re a danger to native wildlife, or the dog confined in a dog cage (as I’ve horrifyingly seen practiced commonly in the USA), are not natural conditions to these species of animals evolved over millennia, but a recent change to what could be viewed as natural to a dog or cat, a lifestyle forced on them for which they are not at all adapted.

Dogs left alone for most hours of the day while their owner works suffer depression. Caged birds shed feathers and chew at their flaking skin. All species of fish die (let’s just face that fact out right) very prematurely when kept in bowls. Can you even imagine being a cat whose entire existence occurs within the confines of a small house?

Yes, animals kept as pets provide endless therapeutic and joyful benefits to their owners, but the ethical considerations for the kept animal are terrible to contemplate.

Working dogs on farms are a far better representation of how dogs have actually naturally evolved alongside humans, enjoying endless exercise, working with purpose, having constant companionship with their human pack, and being treated to solid food and shelter from the elements.

If you visit any third-world or developing nation you can’t help but trip over a wirey, muscular street dog of indeterminate breed dozing in doorways, scrounging through rubbish for chunks of meat, and trotting happily down dirty beaches nosing unsuspecting British tourists. These dogs are usually very friendly and seemingly perfectly happy. They exist within the world of humans but are by no means confined by it. This is how dogs have evolved, living within tribal communities with no singular owner but enjoying the readily available friendship, food and shelter provided by their human companions. Rabies and overcrowding in human cities turning humans against these street dogs are their only real threats.

There are many dogs, cats, rabbits and other ill-treated, neglected, forgotten, abandoned pets living on death row at numerous pounds and animal prisons around every town and city. From an ethical perspective, rescuing one of these animals stands as the humane option to offer them sanctuary, providing the new home is better than the alternative.

But what is better for an animal? To be left at home alone for hours? To be trapped inside? To be offered only short walks on a leash as freedom? The vast majority of pet owners have no idea how to meet the needs of the animal they have brought into their home. They don’t research the species. They believe the animal should conform to the human way of life with no regard to what the other animal needs or wants. We keep pets, believing that we love them and consider them part of our family and cry great wads of tears when they die, but we don’t really treat them like family, do we? We stick them in kennels when we go on a holiday, leave them alone all day, refuse them freedom beyond the gate, keep them on leashes, never really figure out what they might need.

I believe there are some pet owners who have put a lot of effort, thought and research into their pets and do provide the right environment, remembering that most of these species couldn’t exist without humans. If you really want to be a sensible pet owner, you should really ask yourself if you have what it takes.

Do I have any pets? Not currently. I have in the past. I have been a shitty fish owner (I tried really hard but had no idea. I suffered extreme hypertension watching my fish die one by one). I had dogs, and I could have done a hell of a lot better by them despite how much I loved them. I had a cat who got run over. I believed I was a great animal lover who could provide a lovely home, but the truth is I really didn’t have a clue and I wasn’t able to offer the right environment for them to live and thrive. I don’t have a pet now because I can’t offer them what they need, especially when 100% of my attention goes into my children. It particularly shits me when families already overrun with their kids decide to throw a pet into the mix, like the pet stands any chance of having their needs met.

Just think, a lot, before you add a pet to your mix. And if you already have a pet, don’t just get shitty at me, but think about what you can do to better meet their needs.That’s all.

#15. Use condoms

My husband and I have 2 children. I can tell you down to the exact date and time of day they were conceived. We had no trouble conceiving either child. I tell you this, not to show off our fertility prowess, but to help illustrate a point I’m about to make.

I am 36 years old and I have been pregnant twice, both planned. I have never had an unwanted pregnancy. While I haven’t had a huge total number of sexual partners in my life, I have been sexually active since my late teens. How have I managed to avoid a single unwanted pregnancy? Fertility is apparently not an issue for me, I can get pregnant in the blink of an eye if I choose to (see first paragraph). All the other kids are getting pregnant left, right and centre, so what’s my secret?

Honestly? Condoms. That’s it. I have been on and off the pill, but honestly I prefer condoms. I can’t forget to use one, I always know they’re being used properly, they’re easy to use and readily available. So there is really absolutely zero excuse for unplanned / unwanted pregnancies.

But the single most important thing about condoms is, they are the only contraceptive that protects against STDs. My mind boggles and I start to make fish-faces when I hear about teenage girls on the pill. No! (I scream) You’ll have herpes before you even find a guy who can make you orgasm! You’ll spread thrush like it’s going out of fashion! And at the very worst, you’ll contract AIDs before you hit 20!

Condoms, those very simple little rubber sleeves, are really really easy to use, just read the instructions once and you’ll get the hang of it. Pop some in your knicker drawer, carry a couple in your bag, whatever it takes. Just use them and stop getting pregnant and disease-ridden, you stupid people!

#14. Stop looking for mystical answers

This needn’t be a very long post, hopefully the conversation alone should be enough to illustrate my point sufficiently. I just found myself involved in the following conversation on FB (I’ll paraphrase to protect the innocent and idiots):

Woman 1: My toddler just pulled over a big heavy bookshelf and nearly killed herself. Luckily there was a pile of washing on the floor that caught the bookshelf and so my toddler didn’t get crushed.

Me: Wow, scary. Damn climbing toddlers.

Woman 1: Yes, but the weird thing is I had just thought earlier that day how dangerous that bookshelf was, so I had taken all the books off it and asked my husband to move the bookshelf out to the garage.

Woman 2: Wow, the universe was really watching out for you.

Woman 3: God was watching over your beautiful angel.

Me: She probably saw you taking all the books off and heard you talking to your husband, which made her want to go and investigate. Good thing for messy piles of laundry, eh?

What I really wanted to say: No, God is only responsible as far as the big heavy bookshelf falling down and nearly killing your child, it was magical elves that put the laundry pile there. Or, there’s no mystical nonsense going on at all. Take your pick.

Am I the only person whose head explodes every time people choose nonsensical mystics over obvious common sense?

#13. Don’t be my cleaner

Granma-hippie-001
Oh, shut up and get over it. Yeah, I have a cleaner. What of it? I pay her, and I listen to her inane babble. If anything, she should be paying me.

First up, I chose her from all the millions of cleaners who listed their service on Gumtree because she offered a unique service using special products (and no harmful chemicals). I quite like the idea of there being no traces of bleach left in the bathtub come nighttime when my baby likes to sit in the bath and drink the bath water. A little urine won’t hurt her, but unknown chemicals left behind by a careless cleaner might. I’d actually never heard of the products she uses, but I did some research and thought “what the hell, won’t hurt to try” and ended up pleasantly surprised by the results.

Secondly, I am by no means a corporate conservative yuppy. I used cloth nappies on my first born (not so much the second child who broke out in bleeding blisters at the mere suggestion of cloth). I research the ethical issues of tourism before going on a holiday. I recycle and have a compost bin. I’m prone to wearing feathers in my hair and painting my son’s nails blue. I have some pretty “out there” ideas of the world (all scientifically proven as being absolutely, 100% correct). So it comes as no real surprise when the cleaner opens her mouth and out comes the drivel she incorrectly assumes I will agree with her about.

She believes in the use of homeopathy. Goes to church. Has a severely depressed husband who suffers constant panic attacks but refuses medical help because he is afraid of the side effects. She is scared of flouride in water. And told me today that we should eat diets according to our blood type. Her children are diagnosed with every learning disability ever invented, as is her husband. She believes her parents and her sister are out to get her (they live rent-free in her parent’s house, but no that’s just a way for her parents to control her). She believes she is entitled to every form of government assistance possibly available including all he family payments, carers payments, disability for her husband and is now talking about removing her children from the lovely house she lives in curtesy of her parents to live in housing commission. So basically, she thinks a lot of things that make my eyeballs bleed internally.

The fact that she yaps so much when she should be cleaning is bad enough, but she does a pretty good job so I’m ok with that. I just do wish she wouldn’t heap so much nonsense on me, it makes me stressed. I might need to hire a personal masseuse to come over right after the cleaner has been.

 

# 12. Don’t be a Neanderthal

Driving on the motorway I have often witnessed some pretty stupid behaviour from other motorists. The worst offenders are the drivers who weave dangerously across multiple lanes, cutting off other drivers and narrowly avoiding multiple collisions only because other drivers manage to get out of their way. Their mission appears to be to get from A to B in the fastest time possible. However, “the fastest time possible” in normal urban traffic when driving a normal distance is maybe 2 minutes faster than if they drove like a normal person driving in such normal conditions.

How many times have you been overtaken, dangerously, only to meet up with the oxygen-sapper 15 minutes down the road when you catch up at a set of lights? It’s not just a mathematical theory, the evidence sits throwing cigarette butts out their window, revving their engine impatiently while they wait for the red to turn green.

This has, in the past, led me to the conclusion that such drivers are sub normal. Idiots with the IQ of a low-level mammal, perhaps a skunk. At best a badger. However, a realisation about IQs and the general populace hit me. 50% of every person driving on those motorways (assuming a representative sample of the entire population) has an IQ of 100 OR LESS.

In fact, 95% of the population has an IQ between 70 and 130. I feel fairly comfortable in guessing that most of the people in my family and among my social group are more towards the 130 mark, but looking at the bell curve of IQ distribution I shudder in horror suddenly understanding what’s wrong with the world, and it is sitting there between 70 and 100.

Yes, I know that half the population has an IQ from 90 to 110, and the percentage drops with each point in either direction away from the centre point of 100, but that doesn’t mean those Neanderlithic morons aren’t out there, on the motorway, risking the lives of all the higher IQed people on the road.

So in conclusion, I can’t in good conscience truly suggest that people stop existing if their IQ falls short of 100. Or even that driving tests should include an IQ section. All I really do with this information is resign myself to understanding that there are, always have been and always will be idiots around me and there’s nought that can be done about it. There will, however, always be fodder for me to write about.

PS. I wrote this blog entry about a month ago and forgot to publish it. Maybe it was incomplete or there was a major failing in my logic, some reason I didn’t publish it at the time. Who cares, I am going to publish it and deal with the fallout later.

#11. Don’t be so ignorant

Okay, so in all seriousness I know that people don’t generally choose to be ignorant, as such. I mean if you don’t know you’re ignorant about something you can’t do anything about it. However, it does appear to me that some people are happily ignorant about things they know fully well they could easily know a little more about.

We (the rest of the world) can be quite harsh about citizens of the country that lies between Canada and Mexico. We laugh at their expense, marveling at how they can possibly not know that there are hemispherical differences in seasons, or an international dateline that results in some countries being a day ahead or, at the very least, at a different time of day. We (the collective who aren’t them) love to deride their seeming ignorance of everything that occurs outside their national borders, and enjoy stories of citizens of that very country unable to point to the country’s wang on a map.

I admit to having been like this at various times in my life, but after actually marrying one of them I have toned it down considerably. I also moved from a very cosmopolitan city where I mixed with a generally well-educated and well-informed social group and found myself living in a demographically large-enough city full of uneducated ignorant morons.

Last weekend we hired a little half-cabin boat on mother’s day to cruise the sparkling waterways on a glorious, sunny and warm late-Autumn day (in case you’re wondering why we moved to this strange city, there’s your answer). The owner of the boat hire place recognised my husband’s accent and asked where he was from.

Seattle area”, came my husband’s reply. This is, in fact, a bit of a geographical stretch but Seattle is the nearest large city to his hometown and most people have an idea where it is. Not the boat man, however. In true salesman style, he started trying to relate so he mentioned that the owner of the marina pub was from the same area, and then came the strangest question I’ve ever heard.

“Excuse my ignorance, but is there a mixture of people from a different country there, like Mexican or something maybe?”

My husband tried to follow his train of thought. “Seattle is quite multicultural, yes.”

“But isn’t it near the border of another country, like Mexico or something?”

“It’s pretty close to Canada.”

“Excuse my ignorance again, but I get confused…”

The conversation continued a little until we discovered the owner of the pub was, in fact, from San Diego and that the boat man was confused because he thought the further North you go, the hotter it gets (which is true of the Southern Hemisphere, but not so much of the Northern one), and that was why he thought Mexico was at the top.

During this conversation he kept requesting that we excuse his ignorance, and I did so – to his face – but in actuality I really don’t excuse his ignorance. He already knew he was ignorant, he has met other people from the USA and has feigned interest in their lives but has never bothered to open an atlas or take a quick look at Google maps. If you can wrap your head around his level of ignorance try to consider how little he knows about the layout of the rest of the world, like Asia or the Middle East, or indeed outside the city he’s lived in his entire life and has probably never left.

There’s just really no excuse for being that ignorant when information is so easily available.

#10. Be politically ethical, or don’t bury your head in the sand

I’ve been thinking about ethical boundaries. When it comes to eating meat, vegans have the strongest ethical convictions. I say this from the perspective of someone who has taken an ethical stance on this issue. I only ever eat free range meat and animal products, but I don’t have my head buried in the sand. I know there are far reaching considerations such as what happens to all the baby chickens born from free range egg farms, or what happens to the unwanted calves born in the milk industry who are torn from their mothers the moment they’re born. I know the answers to those questions, but I drew a line in the sand and took a position (not that I’m overly proud of myself).

When it comes to politics and governments, voluntaryists hold the strongest ethical convictions, more so than libertarians who believe in limited government, and far more so than anyone who believes in big government.

V for Voluntary

V for Voluntary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Voluntaryists believe all humans should have both personal and financial freedom and no one else has a right to force another person to do anything, even the most noble causes must be  supported voluntarily. The  ethical standard here is one of non-violence. If violence is bad, it is bad in ALL circumstances. Laws are enforced through the threat of violence.  If you don’t comply, you will end up with a gun pointed at you.

Back in the day, religion was defined geographically (and often still is). There were catholic states, protestant states, muslim states, hindu states etc etc. People living within those geographical boundaries were forced to worship in a prescribed way. Now, for most of us reasonable people such a concept as coercive religious worship is truly horrendous. Of course we should have freedom of religion (or no religion if we are so enlightened).

So why, then, should we be forced to comply with the government as defined by a specific geographic boundary? In vast expanses of the world such boundaries are not just arbitrary, but divide tribes, separate families, and displace people resulting in conflict and suffering. And yet, perfectly (seemingly) reasonable people actively support the forcing of government on their neighbours.

My sister works for the CIA. Actually, she doesn’t. She works for a particular international organisation that even she admits is a pawn for the CIA. From her position she has been exposed to all kinds of underhanded dealings, supposedly good governments (like the US) doing shady stuff with corrupt governments (weapons trading, propping up one warlord over another, that kind of thing).

She’s a very clued in woman, this sister of mine. She asks the question is she the only one with x-ray vision when it comes to these things, or is everyone else just doing a very good job at pretending not to notice? Whatever the case, she then goes on to say that she is willing to accept such shadowy stuff because it limits organised crime and terrorism.

I can’t even find the right words to respond to her, because (as a voluntaryist and, therefore, the most ethical of all political types) I can’t accept that (a) the end justifies the means, and (b) that organised crime or terrorism is limited at all. In fact, wasn’t it the US government that propped up the Taliban? Wasn’t it prohibition that gave power to the mafia? Isn’t it the War on Drugs that creates the perfect swill in which drug lords prosper? What’s the difference between the government (who enforce laws at the threat of violence) and other gangs, anyway?

Clearly my sister has drawn her line in the sand and  stands firmly on one side of ethics while I stand on the other. She is a vegetarian, so she’s more ethical on the meat issue than I am. Where do you stand?

Links to help you decide:

Mexican Drug Lord Officially Thanks America

How the US Funds the Taliban

The Gun in the Room – How government operates at the threat of violence

The Non-aggression Principle