Monday, October 28, 2013

Leave Antarctica Alone

For the past few years, Antarctic scientists have been focused on finding life beneath the ice shelves. Once thought to be too extreme to host any life, scientists now believe there could be previously unknown species that have lived there for millions of years undisturbed.

I take the unpopular opinion that we should leave this alone. There are few places on earth that have been left undisturbed. Where humans go, eventually tourism and pollution follow. Antarctica is already polluted by cruise ships. Tour companies are preparing to bring thousands to Hang Song Doong.

Lake Vostok is another good example of why we should not disturb this pristine location. After 20 years of drilling, Russian scientists broke through the ice to sample the water of the previously undisturbed prehistoric lake. What they found was astounding: 3,500 new species including the possibility of highly complex aquatic creatures. Even more astounding has been the reaction to this discovery. Many scientific peers believe a great majority of these discoveries are not new species but rather due to contamination of the outside world. In other words, we disturbed an ancient lake only to contaminate it.

So please, leave us this one last place. Leave the subglacial lake alone. Stop drilling. We don't need to know everything and we don't need to know what tiny life might possibly exist below the layers of ice. Just let it be.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Saudi Women Protest Driving Ban

It is understood that Saudi Arabia is by far the most socially advanced of Middle Eastern countries. They just recently received recognize for "tangible" progress in human rights. The Kingdom is far less extreme than some of their neighbors. Women hold positions in the government and are well educated.

But they are not there yet. In 2013, women are still not permitted to drive in the KSA. Any woman must be driven by her father, brother, husband or son. Or, if she can afford it, she can hire a driver. Now, when we consider the oppression of women in other Middle Eastern countries this may not seem so bad. Surely, it is worse to be forbidden an education, a right to vote, the ability to hold gainful employment, or to chose your own spouse.

But the freedom to control your own movement is one that should never be denied women. Without the right to drive herself, a woman is forever subject to the whim of the men in her life. Should her husband decide he doesn't want her to leave the house, he can simply refuse to drive her. She cannot work if there is not a man to drive her which means she cannot gain economic equality. And what if she suffers abuse at home and needs to drive to the local courts to report it? How likely is it that her abuser will gladly warm up the engine?

Today, 60 Saudi women defied the driving ban and took the brave step of driving without a man. Five women were stopped, forced to sign a no-driving pledge and released to their male guardians. Male guardians! As if these grown women were children.

Worse still, there is not actually a law that prohibits women from driving. But religious leaders issue edicts that are enforced by police. Saudi Arabia wants to be seen as a modern nation in line with the West but how can we ever see them that way if they seek to hold women down through these means?

Driving is a basic right that leads to equality between men and women. If you have no say in how and when you move about, you are not free - you are a slave.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Boy Sentenced For Killing Nazi Father

He grew up in an abusive home with a Neo-Nazi father. When he was ten years old, he shot and killed his father and now he is facing the courts that will determine his fate.

He was not an innocent child. Raised in an abusive, hateful household, this young man attacked teachers, repeated the racist rhetoric his father taught him and was deemed out of control by an age most boys are riding their bikes and playing sports with their friends. Hist attorneys say he is better now that he receives regular therapy. He is controlling his rage and is regularly attending classes.

This case makes me so sad. It did not have to be this way. This boy likely would never have killed anyone had his father not taught him to do so through his indoctrination. Of course the boy must be punished - he took a life and that is not something that should be let go. But is it fair to take away his life, too?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Great Scare

There are not words to adequately express the abject fear that coursed through my soul when the vet used the word "cancer." All I could hear was the rushing of blood in my ears. My eyes went right to Ludo as he leaned heavily into my knees.

Cancer? Ludo is only six. He can't have cancer. He is supposed to have years of healthy days ahead of him. I don't hear most of what the vet is saying. I watch as Ludo sighs heavily and lays down slowly. He's been doing this a lot lately.

She finally gets my attention when she suggests we schedule surgery for the next morning. They want to remove the tumor as quickly as possible to determine how advanced the cancer has become. We pack Ludo into the car. He is uncharacteristically subdued - can he feel my fear and sadness? I spend the night crying, terrified of what the next day will bring.

What if surgery goes wrong? What if the cancer is advanced? What if they cannot remove it all? What if it is all over his body? Will I agree to chemotherapy? Could I make the decision to put him down? What will I do if I don't have my constant companion?

I go to work after dropping Ludo off for surgery. The vet says I will hear from her by noon. I spend the next four hours staring at my phone and checking to make sure the ringer is turned up. When she does call, I am on such edge that I nearly drop the phone.

She was able to remove all of the tumors. It does not seem advanced. It appears to be benign. I take Ludo home. He is groggy and unsure of his steps. The e-collar around his neck makes him run into almost everything. But he wags his tail fast and hard when we arrive at the front door as if to show how happy he is to be home. With me.

I love you, buddy. Don't ever scare me like that again.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Nomadic Soul

I often wonder where I would go if money was no object.

Would I move to Alaska and live on the island of Baranof? Sitka is phenomenally beautiful, secluded, naturalistic, and simple. I crave the oceans and the mountains, the rain and the sun, the bears and the eagles. The kind people and genuine culture could keep me happy for a long time.

Or would I move to Vegas? Would I enjoy the nightlife and the constant parties? Visit the desert and casinos?

Perhaps I could move back to Oregon or back to my family in Washington? Maybe Europe? Maybe I would just travel the world.

I am truly a nomad at heart. Even if I had no obstacles I am not sure I could decide on just one place. I want to go everywhere and see everything all the time.

But here I am. In Oklahoma. The one place I would never want to be.