Monday, April 15, 2013

Alan Simpson's comments on abortion laws

A Modest Proposal in response to one of my Facebook friend’s commentary about former Republican Senator Alan Simpson’s assertion that male elected representatives should not vote on abortion laws. See:

John Janovy, Jr.

So here’s a modest proposal, based on the premise that it’s irrational to demand that a public health problem be solved but at the same time be adamantly opposed to the methods of solving it. The public health problem in this case is one we know how to solve, namely, unwanted pregnancy. The methods of solving it are readily available, safe, extensively tested, and found to be effective, at least at the individual level. It’s a well-known and widely-accepted fact that long-term effects of this particular public health problem fall unequally on the sexes, with the female being physically affected, subjected to potential medical complications, and traditionally burdened with nearly two decades of direct responsibility for the care, feeding, and education of another human being, whereas the male’s participation in this responsibility is largely voluntary or, when involuntary, limited to financial contribution. Because the large majority of state legislators are male and claim to understand public policy, my modest proposal is perfectly capable of being carried out at the state level, at least, and should be carried out in those states imposing severe restrictions on elective abortions. The main points are:

(1) Immediately enact a so-called “life tax” to provide for public funding of “life services,” defined as prenatal health care, treatment for medical conditions arising from pregnancy, and care, including medical care, clothing, food, shelter, and both education and special education as needed, for any infant born to a mother who would otherwise have chosen to abort it. Life services would continue until the child is 18 years old.

(2) Establish residency requirements, for access to such support, similar to those already established, for example, for tuition at a state’s post-secondary institutions.

(3) Establish a means test for access to such support. The federal government already has established guidelines for access to other social services, and means testing is already in place for Medicare premiums, so enacting such a test for “life tax” services should be easy to accomplish.

(4) Require DNA testing of mother, infant, and father (when the father can be ascertained) when an infant is born to a mother who would otherwise have aborted it. Costs of such testing would be paid by life tax revenues. If necessary, use test results to identify the father. Require, by law, the father to contribute half of the costs incurred in providing life services to mother and infant, and provide for an 18-year lien on the father’s earnings if necessary, with an extension to such time as the state is re-paid half of the life services costs by the father. Include in this law a provision that the father’s parents are liable for this contribution if the father is a minor.

(5) Immediately establish sex-education programs in all public schools, the curriculum to include effective contraception. Withhold certification from private schools that do not institute such a curriculum.

(6) Immediately provide birth control services for all individuals who want them but are unable to afford them. Pay for these services through the life tax. Services would include oral contraceptives, Plan B, condoms, patches, injections, and all other forms of artificial birth control to individuals over the age of 14. These services would be available in school health centers.

(7) In the event that an infant born to a mother who would otherwise have obtained an abortion requires long-term care or services due to a congenital condition, then such care and services would be provided by the state and funded by life tax revenues.

(8) In the event that pregnancy results from rape or incest, the mother would receive a lifetime stipend for carrying the fetus to term and the state would fund all services resulting from this birth, including counseling, adoptive services, and treatment of any medical conditions, including mental or emotional ones, resulting from the conception and delivery of this infant. In the case of rape or incest, residency and means requirements do not apply.

(10) The overall impact of this program, including life tax and life services, will be reviewed every ten years by qualified consultants from outside the state. Life tax will be adjusted annually to ensure revenues adequate to support life services programs.

I don’t know what the tax base is for North Dakota, but a VERY rough estimate, based on the widely available information on costs of rearing children in the United States, and North Dakota’s population, would fall in the range of $500,000 per non-aborted fetus, if you add in the overhead costs of administering the above program. North Dakota reported 1,290 abortions in 2009, so we’re looking at somewhere in the vicinity of $645 billion over the next 18-20 years to provide life services as part of this male legislative action to deal with the problem of unwanted pregnancy. Alternatively, of course, that $645 billion would be paid by those who would have had an elective abortion but could not because of the law or other de facto restrictions on reproductive services, and that’s assuming that the individuals involved actually had the resources to pay these bills.

We have, of course, not even started to consider the social costs of unwanted pregnancy brought to term, and I’m not sure there is any real way to calculate those costs so that the public in general, and male legislators in particular, appreciate their impact on society. We do know that social factors such as lack of education, poverty, and crime are linked at least to some degree, and that “quality of life” factors are important for the attraction of business to a particular region. So in essence, the $645 billion should probably be considered a conservative estimate of the overall impact of unwanted pregnancy on the State of North Dakota.



Wednesday, April 3, 2013


But if you go to a cocktail party filled with attorneys and elected city officials, the main question you are likely to be asked about this research is: “Why is this kind of stuff important?”  The question really means: “Why are you wasting time and money, maybe even tax money, on this kind of activity, and why do you seem to be so interested in sex?”
There may be a thousand good reasons why you are studying the sex life of obscure worms, but these reasons probably involve the fundamental nature of science itself.  The worms could, potentially, become a model system for the study of hormone action at the cellular level, thus serving to help explain developmental anomalies in humans, livestock, and companion animals.  The worms might be extraordinarily beautiful creatures under the microscope, thus quite attractive to students who in turn could easily become internationally renowned scholars studying some global human affliction but who remember fondly their carefree undergrad days back in the lab when all they had to talk about was worm sex.  The worms’ reproductive biology could easily shed light on the origin of sex itself, or the evolution of pheromones, both subjects of enormous interest to the scientific community.  Pheromone action, as you might suspect, also could be of substantial interest to the cosmetics industry.  When a scientist hears that another scientist is studying the sex life of obscure worms, then all of the possibilities mentioned in this paragraph usually come to mind because scientists typically understand how science itself works on a grand scale.  Politicians, however, like their constituencies, rarely get past the issues of time, money (especially tax money), and sex, although sometimes, if not often, there is a hidden disdain for people who would spend their lives studying microscopic creatures with no immediate economic importance.
In our example of the worms, politicians’ focus on time, money, sex, and utility is not necessarily stupid, evil, or dangerous, although it has the potential for being all three.  In the previous paragraph, I’ve actually revealed all the reasons why in order to remain economically competitive in a technologically competitive world, a nation needs to have a strong, healthy, broad, and active scientific enterprise.  Flourishing scientific activity, sustained largely by curiosity about the natural world, breeds scientists, models, new ways of studying nature, and new applications of existing technology.  In other words, it is the human resources that are of prime importance to a highly developed nation, not the discoveries themselves.  Given enough human resources engaged in research, techniques for studying heretofore mysterious aspects of nature will be developed and the discoveries will be made.  Furthermore, breadth of research interest tends to produce transferable technologies, a critical factor in sustaining a technology-based economy.  

INTELLIGENT DESIGNER is available as an e-book from kindle and, and as a paperback from


By this time there are sirens winding down, red lights flashing out front, and a bunch of cops and first-responder ambulance types charging through the front door. I don’t need to tell you that this is one real mystery unfolding for anyone who wasn’t in Hair of the Dog Saloon over the last hour. It’s almost like a stage play—bartender doing what bartenders do, a guy (me) sitting at the end of the bar, a few customers scattered around tables, bar girls taking some drinks out, kitchen shoving a big plate of cheese fries up on the delivery shelf under the hot lamps. And, of course, this disemboweled and dismembered carcass without a face, drying blood and small intestines all over the floor, and that Glock lying right there in the middle of it all. I won’t bore you with a detailed description of the next hour at Hair of the Dog, except to say that it involved a lot of interesting discussion. Some time when he has a break, the bartender brings me my refill.
“We’re going out after closing,” he says; “you’re welcome to join us.”
Of course I joined them. I’m not sure there’s much literature on werewolf packs, so perhaps this unsavory time of my life represents an opportunity to provide information to whomever might need it in the future: law enforcement agencies, teen paranormal romance writers, Hollywood wannabes, and anyone else who might have more than a passing interest in extreme evil for the sake of evil. If you think one 230 pound, 6’ 3”, beast with razor-sharp, two-inch canine teeth can wreak havoc, try a dozen of these bad boys all hell-bent on complete destruction of anything and everything in their path. The trouble is, there’s not much happening in Omaha after 2:00AM and the last call for alcohol, so the pack has to go cruising for 24-hour places like certain pharmacies and grocery stores. My advice to the average reader: don’t go to Heartland out on west Dodge after two in the morning. In fact, even if you don’t live in Omaha, I recommend getting all your normal business done before bar closing time. Yes, there are werewolf packs all over the country, and probably throughout the world, too.
You’d think that high-ranking elected officials, especially in the United States, would figure this out, but in general they’re so stupid they can’t even understand evolution and global climate change, so why would anyone expect them to appreciate the finer attributes of a werewolf pack hiding right there under their noses? Anyone wouldn’t, of course; the average person on the street still believes in angels and that Barack Obama is not an American citizen, but come to think of it, such individuals ought to be sitting ducks for a werewolf pack. I suspect there’s some group dynamics at work here: it’s okay to believe that an American President is not a citizen of this country because you get told that a thousand times a day by some fat jerk with a cigar in his mouth spouting it out over our common authority for all things, namely, television. So maybe if these kinds of idiots started blaming your everyday problems on a pack of werewolves, then 56% of the American public would come to believe it. Well, I’m here to tell you the truth, that yes indeed, many of your common problems are, indeed, caused by a pack of wolves.
Back in those days, before I joined the pack, I honestly believed that the main function of a werewolf was to instill terror in the human mind. What I discovered as a result of that fateful evening in Hair of the Dog, was that there is a form of evil that goes well beyond physical destruction. Trust me on this one: you see it almost every day in the affairs of nations, the truly stupid conclusion based only on belief (try “weapons of mass destruction” for starters, or if that hits too close to your patriotic home, try “Let’s bundle these sub-prime mortgages and sell the bundles as derivatives, then sell options on the derivatives.”) I will admit to being a very na├»ve wolf in my solitary days. What I learned from the pack, and especially the bartender—I’ll call him “Claude,” a very unlikely name for such a role model—was that the words Shakespeare put into Mark Antony’s mouth were right on target, and that if you really wanted to generate some evil that lives after you, then you start by messing with the minds of those proverbial people on the street. In other words, instead of killing them, you kill their ability to think rationally.

The complete e-book, CHRISTIAN ZOMBIE: A TALE OF SIN AND REDEMPTION, is available on kindle and from

Monday, April 1, 2013


An excerpt from DINKLE'S LIFE: A SPIRITUAL BIOGRAPHY, a serious ghost story for our times:
“It has rained most of the night,” continues Jimmy; “a cool damp soaking September rain. Leaves are just starting to turn, and the few yellowish ones stand out like wet signals in the green oaken forest. Lonnie Paul can smell the Earth as he walks toward the open mound, picking his way through the harsh and tangled blackjacks, green briar snapping at his cuffs. As he walks, a doe comes up beside him, slipping silently through the brush until she is suddenly at his side, within reach, tiptoeing over dead branches, through the litter. Her eyes are large black wet marbles. Far off he hears blue jays calling, then closer, until they’re overhead, jumping through the branches, softening their bell-like notes. A small covey of quail runs ahead, taking many paths; the doe sidesteps them nicely. The sun breaks through the clouds, casting a shaft of light on bare earth, a spot where the day before he’d stopped digging. It had been too dark to see exactly what he was doing, and his trowel had struck something hard. I’m going to make a discovery today; he smiles at the doe. He swears she smiles back.”
“With his trowel in one hand, a brush in the other, he starts to uncover the object he’d encountered the previous day. An unusual number of wild creatures seem to be moving in the nearby woods, almost frolicking, he thinks, absolutely unafraid. The doe lies down, folding her long legs. Titmice call—peter peter peter—then bounce nervously above his head, waiting, almost, excited, happy . . . yes, happy, that was the word he wanted . . . happy. He moves the soil away one grain at a time. His brush uncovers a bone, rounded, with figures carved into its surface. A skull! At a deeper level than the flint! He spends most of the day enlarging his trench in order to excavate around the head. It is tedious work, for all flints pottery shards, basket pieces, implements, must be numbered and recorded. He stops periodically to rest and make notes. Slight movements reveal two dozen birds, a pair of squirrels, watching; rabbits, their noses twitching regularly with their chewing of the fresh grass, waiting . . . almost smiling. The doe is at peace.”
“By late afternoon be has the top half of the skull excavated. The carved figures are locked in a violent dance, a fire on the left temple, flames on the right. Daylight fades, nearly into darkness before he lifts the entire skull free, after centuries, from its earthen prison. He stares into the face; it smiles back, an ancient, long gone, happy, almost entertaining, smile. It has been a spectacular and fascinating day. Lonnie Paul is exhausted but the doe is wide awake; night time is whitetail time. Rabbits nibble green twigs. The suns final rays, coming in red and low from the west, make shadows on the underbrush. The shadows move, a sylvan theatre of . . . of what? The weasel comes from nowhere at the speed on light, hitting one of the rabbits with a heavy thump. Screams pierce his ears, then more screams, screams that will not end. The doe sits hypnotized, frozen. Then it’s over and as red shadows fade the air becomes cool, and black. The skull crumbles in his hand, the lower jaw, facial features falling in pieces on his feet, leaving only the cap with its twisting figures. A great suction takes his breath, a giant suction, pulling up leaves, a whoosh of air that he can hear careening through the valley, escaping into the mountains to the south.”
“Then it is silent and still. From far in the distance he hears Radiator yapping. He puts the skullcap into his pack and starts for home, where Ma tells him what he’s done.”
“What had he done?” asks Monica, staring at Jimmy in a way that made him uncomfortable.
“He’d let out the first of the North Sallisaw Burial Mound demons: the spirit of the fairy tale, the God of Fiction.”
“That’s stupid, Jimmy! What’s wrong with fairy tales?”
“Ask those rabbits, Monica. They believed everything was okay, that everything was going to be all right.”

DINKLE'S LIFE is available on kindle and The demons that Lonnie Paul Dinkle released from the North Sallisaw Mound are still with us.