Parental Rights


I really tried to stay away from this.  I have failed though.

Nicole is irate because the doofus person who runs Medical Kidnap has glommed onto the story of a couple whose baby was taken by CPS, and is now on life support at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital (when it comes to medical care, it doesn’t get much better than that) with the doctors recommending that it be discontinued.

The parents want the child kept alive for no apparent reason other than that’s what they want.

The child has Down syndrome and at least one heart defect, and who knows what else.

The parents have gotten a court injunction to keep the baby on life support for about a week until they can be heard in court.

Nobody has said this, but I will.  From what I can see, these parents are unlikely to be carrying health insurance on this child or themselves either, and yet they insist that this baby be kept on life support (meaning intensive care) for an extra week, against medical advice,  but have no intention of paying a single cent for it. They are also insisting that the kid get a heart transplant, one they will not pay for, and one that the doctors insist will not work, and one that will waste a heart that could go to some kid who might live, because Jesus has said it’s his will or something.

You know, because taxation is theft.

But Nicole brings up a larger issue.

How far do parental rights go?  How far should they go?

The three examples she uses are interesting to me – vaccinations, abortion, life support.

I’m willing to tackle all three, but first, here’s a broad principle.

Your child is not your property.

I’ll repeat that.

Your child is not your property.

At the moment of birth, we as a society have determined that the child receives American citizenship.

You, as the child’s parent, have custody of the kid because somebody has to raise him, but you don’t own him.  Custody and ownership are not the same thing.


Here’s what ownership looks like.

While there were laws in place that prevented slave owners from outright killing slaves, they were poorly enforced and regularly flouted.  Many a slave died from mistreatment, from lack of medical care, from beatings, and nobody called it murder.

You do not own your children.

I get sick to death of the hypocrisy that is rampant among people who insist that “God” gave them their children and therefore they “own” them in some way, or that their decisions are paramount and the rights of the child as a citizen of this country are secondary.

The parallels to the arguments used by southern slave owners to excuse chattel slavery are unmistakable.

You do not own your children.

This means that you do not have the right to deny your child medical treatment because you believe that prayer works better than insulin.  If you try that shit, and your child dies, you can and should go to prison for a very long time.

The case she cites is not really worth discussing simply because we don’t have enough data to make any informed ideas about it.  Medical Kidnap is not a news source.  It’s a bullshit website that offers nothing but sensational fearmongering.

From more responsible journalists, we find that there is, in fact, a delay on the baby’s impending death. And that’s really all we know. The parents, of course, are totally innocent of any problem when it comes to caring for this poor little kid, as all parents are whose kids are removed by CPS, because the state is in the business of kidnapping children so they can sell them, especially those with Down syndrome and heart defects.

Oh, wait.

Well, that won’t work, will it?

So, the state took the kid so that they could kill him after a lengthy expensive hospital stay because spending state money is just so much fun.

That’s plausible, right?

So that’s the overarching principle here.  You do not own your children. They are not your property.

This means that the larger society can, in fact, tell you what you can and cannot do with and to your children.  You do have to get them proper medical treatment, and in some cases, that includes vaccinations (it ought to include those everywhere, but that’s another subject).

You do have to educate them, unless you feed the state some bullshit about how you homeschool and that state has been lobbied to death by right-wing homeschoolers to the point that the laws have been gutted.  I hope that someday some of these homeschooled students, as adults, sue the hell out of their parents.

And if you neglect them and fail to provide them with very basic food, shelter and safety, the state can and should and probably will come and take them away.

So what about abortion?

I am pro-choice.  How do I reconcile that with the idea that you do not own your children?

It’s simple. The child is not a citizen until the child is born.  Prior to that, the mother does, in fact, have life-or-death control over that fetus.

Laws have to be specific. There is a whole book full of laws with very specific definitions for the state of Kentucky. Without the book, everyone would just interpret everything any way they wished and say that making a statement on Facebook is “stalking” and we’d have chaos.

So there has to be a time when a human being is granted citizenship and we’ve determined that time to be at birth. It’s easy to see.  Any blithering idiot can get it right. “Conception” doesn’t really work because when is that?  When the sperm meets the egg?  When the egg implants?  How would you know? What if you engaged in risky behavior during the implantation period not knowing you were in fact pregnant and miscarried?  Was it the result of that risky behavior?  Did “God” do it?  Who knows?

We can argue about it forever.  People have and will continue to do so, but for right now, citizenship is granted at birth and that’s the point where the woman giving birth ceases to have live-or-death control over the fetus.  He has become a separate person and she does not own him.

And when it comes to life support, I really want an answer to my question.

If you think your child should remain on life support against medical advice, and you’ve had lots of specialists look at the situation and they all agree that it’s a hopeless situation, but you think that Jesus wants your kid to have a heart transplant, taking the heart of some other baby that you don’t even know, what makes you think that society should pay for that?

What makes you think that you are entitled to spend that kind of money that belongs to other people?

A heart transplant costs approximately a million dollars, sometimes way more.  That baby is in an ICU of some sort, and the cost of that is something around $3000/day. These parents have gone to court and I bet they didn’t pay to go to court, but found some damned lawyer who’d do it for free, and gotten a judge to declare that the state has to fork over an additional $21,000 just because of their “parental rights.”

The same people who bloviate about how the state should have no say in anything regarding their children’s health also think that the state should pay out this money.  The same people who insist that nobody is gonna tell them they have to buy insurance also think that the state should just fork over more than a million dollars fruitlessly because Jesus might want them to do so.

Frankly, I am more dismayed at some of the comments on Nicole’s page than I am with her original question. I expect her to be an idiot. I’m horrified at how many idiots read her shit and agree with it.

To clarify a little bit: when a medical decision is made to discontinue life support, the state does not make that decision. The doctors do.  I’ll repeat that.  The “state” is not discontinuing this child’s treatment.  The doctors are recommending that course because the child’s situation is not sustainable. He is going to die.

But just read these comments. This is why we have a moron in the White House and the whole world is making fun of us. This.





Seeding Stuff

There are zillions of gardening books, and websites, and videos, and methods out there.  They all purport to tell you how to best put some seed in the ground/pot and grow something.

Most of them are either hogwash or so specific that unless you’re interested in that exact small niche thing  it’s sort of useless.

This is what I know about seeds and gardening, and I say all this because I have done it for years and I have done it successfully, at least sometimes.

First, there’s seed.



You know all those fabulous seed catalogs that come in January in the mail? They’re beautiful. They sit there on the kitchen table and cause the viewer to literally salivate.

I can sit for hours with them and plan the most fabulous garden on paper.

And the ones we all have a tendency to like the best are the ones with the biggest, most gorgeous color photos of the veggies and fruits and flowers.

I have learned over the years to take those catalogs and toss them in the trash. Those are not the companies I want to deal with.  And here’s why.

Seed retailers, like Burpee and Park Seed Company and Baker Creek, don’t grow seeds.  They buy their seed from farmers who grow it and then sell it to wholesalers who then sell it in smaller quantities to seed companies.

A farmer grows a field of, say, tomatoes, one certain variety.  Let’s use one of my favorites:  Amish Paste tomatoes. That’s a nice heirloom tomato (more about heirlooms in a moment), easy to grow. To harvest the tomato seed, the farmer does not pick the tomatoes when they are ripe. He picks them when they are very overripe.

He then processes them.  Processing tomato seed involves letting the seeds sit in the tomato until well past the point where you would want to eat it.  They then have to be washed and washed and washed because they are covered with slime, dried thoroughly, tested for viability and then they are sold, probably by the pound, to a seed company like Baker Creek.


Let’s say that Baker Creek buys 50 pounds of Amish Paste tomato seeds. (I am totally guessing here – I have no idea how much they sell in a season)  Baker Creek prints up a bazillion beautiful little envelopes and puts 25 seeds in each one and sells them for a whopping $2.50 each.

[By the way, notice that if you happen to want 50 seeds, you have to buy two of those little envelopes?]

On the back of each of those little envelopes, it says clearly “Packed for 2017.”

And that’s all great.

But what happens in September, say, when nobody is buying tomato seeds because the season is winding down and they’ve sold 40 pounds of seed in those little envelopes and they’re staring at ten pounds of seed?  Do they toss it? After all, they bought it for 2017, didn’t they?

They do not toss it.

They store it for next year. Some of them store it under really good conditions. Some of them less so.

Before they sell it the following year, they do a viability test on it.  They take X seeds and sprout them and see what percentage grow.  If that percentage is XX, they then put 25 of those seeds in a beautiful little envelope that is marked “Packed for 2018” and sell it to you.

The federal government has a little say in all this. It’s called the Federal Seed Act, and it’s been in place for 78 years.  It was passed to protect farmers from unscrupulous seed sellers and to prevent noxious weeds from being spread all over hell and half of Georgia.

It also dictates exactly what percentage is the minimum allowed so that Baker Creek can put those 25 tomato seeds in a beautiful little envelope and sell them to you.  For tomatoes, that percentage is 75.

That means that 1/4 of those 25 seeds could be deader than a doornail, and it’s still okay for Baker Creek to put them in the beautiful little envelope and sell them.

And every year that Baker Creek stores that seed, the percentage of viability goes down.  After a few years of this, they have to toss the seed and start over.

And you, of course, as the customer and home gardener, are the end of the chain. You get the seed. You plant it, all 25 of those little seeds.  And only 19 of them come up.

Did you do something wrong?

Probably not. Probably that’s all that were actually alive in the first place.

Seed companies know that home gardeners are typically dumber than a box of rocks. They know that most of us have no idea what we’re doing.  They know that we’re going to most likely blame ourselves if our seed doesn’t come up, or if only half of it comes up.  Sometimes it really is our fault.

People plant stuff all the time in the wrong place, under the wrong conditions, or don’t care for it properly and it doesn’t make it.

But sometimes, they simply have shitty seed in the first place.  They have Amish Paste tomato seeds that are four years old and have only 75% viability.  And viability does not necessarily correlate with vigor.

So, what is the best course for a home gardener?

First, don’t try to save seed very much. Mostly plan to buy seed every year.  If you simply cannot bear it, and want to try, then fold up the seed packet (yeah, I know the picture is pretty, but fold it up anyway) and put it in a glass jar with a tight lid and store it in the fridge.  The key things here are cool, dark and very dry.

But then, where to buy seed in the first place?

I will tell you where I go for seed and why.

I buy seed from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

I have no stake in the company.  I don’t know anyone who works there. I just buy seed from them for a very good reason.

I do it because I think they have a pretty high turnover.

Consider this.


This is from Baker Creek’s online catalog.  As I mentioned, you have to buy those seeds, 25 at a time, to get them.

Who is Baker Creek’s average customer?

It’s somebody who wants 25 tomato seeds.  John Q Homegardener.  That’s who.  The person who is terribly impressed by the beautiful photographs and the glossy catalog.


Here’s the same tomato in Johnny’s catalog.  A packet, they tell us, is 40 seeds, not 25.  Costs a little more than Baker Creek.

But look at the rest.  Look at your options.  Do you need 25,000 seeds?  They can be yours for $143.25.

Who in the world is Johnny’s average customer?

There is a nursery near our house, up in the Mennonite community. Every year, they grow a bazillion vegetable starts and sell them by the flat. Some of those starts are Amish Paste tomatoes.  I do not know where they get their seed, but I bet it’s from a place like Johnny’s.  They don’t buy beautiful little packets with 25 seeds. They buy 500 seeds.

And when they plant them, it’s obvious to them if half the seeds aren’t germinating. They know how to plant seeds. They know it’s not their fault.

And the next time they buy seed, they find a new supplier.

Another potential customer (apart from large scale farmers, who buy most of their seed from seed companies directly) is the guy who grows a very large mixed vegetable garden and sells produce at the farmer’s market or to local restaurants.  He also knows when half his seeds don’t come up that it’s not his fault.

I want to buy from the guy who sells seed to those guys.

So I do.

They don’t have beautiful little envelopes.  They all look just like this one.


And that leads me to “organic,” and “heirloom,” and “non-GMO.”

This is fad shit, folks. Fad shit. Fad.

Let me repeat that. It’s a fad. All of it is a fad.

Even Johnny gets in on the act with the “organic” crap.  I buy non-organic if possible because it’s cheaper and the seeds are identical. I would go so far as to say it’s probably the exact same seed, but I don’t actually know that for certain, so I won’t.

I do know that some of Johnny’s customers are people who grow for the restaurant trade and they have to do “organic” for business reasons, so that the restaurant can advertise that, and it’s all fine, but it’s bullshit and a fad and a reason to make things cost more.

“Heirloom” sounds so nice and homesteady, doesn’t it?  It simply means that it’s an old variety that is not a hybrid.  If you save the seed from an Amish Paste tomato, provided you do it right and the seed sprouts, it will breed true and the resultant fruit will look just like the parents.

The alternative is hybrid seed, generally labeled as F1 hybrids.

Hybrid seed is generally better.

Think about this for a minute and you’ll see why this is so.

Plants inherit genes just like people do.  The process is not much different.  With Amish Paste tomatoes, all the genes are the same. That’s why they all look just alike.  So Daddy tomato has identical genes to Mommy tomato, resulting in little kid tomatoes with identical genes.

Is this a good idea in people?

Why not?

It’s not because it increases rather dramatically the likelihood of genetic defects.  It’s such a bad idea that there are generally laws about incest.

The same thing applies to cattle.  Artificial insemination is a marvelous thing and has revolutionized the cattle industry, because it makes a much wider gene pool.  The dairy doesn’t have to rely on three local bulls to inseminate all their cows and end up with every cow on the place closely related to every other cow.  There are still some inherent problems related to the fact that all their dairy cattle are Jerseys, but it’s still better than having a limited pool of bulls.

Hybrid seed generally has more vigor. It generally produces better.  Note I said “generally.”  Please don’t come back at me with “I grow heirloom whatevers and they are way better than the hybrid ones.”  I know that’s possible.  I already said that I often grow Amish Paste tomatoes and they are heirloom and I like them.

However, I am aware of the drawbacks in doing so. They, unlike most hybrids, are prone to wilt and blight and all the icky bad things that tomatoes get.  It’s a gamble, one I’m willing to take because I like them.  It’s a Roma tomato but much larger than the conventional Roma.  One day I might try a really new hybrid Roma and see it I like it better.

A hybrid is simply cross-bred.  An F1 hybrid is the first generation of seed from two distinctly different parents.  You can’t save the seed, or rather, you can but if you do and plant the seed (called F2), you’ll get some strange offspring.

Some of these open-pollinated (heirloom is just the term for an open-pollinated variety that is older than the person writing about it) varieties have actually been bred very carefully and do exhibit some resistance to some diseases, but most of them are not. You gamble a bit when you plant them.

I plant a mixture. I like Amish Paste because I make spaghetti sauce and ketchup (that takes a ton of tomatoes).  I also usually grow a hybrid to eat, and I often grow some sort of cherry tomato.

And now for the last fad thing:  non-GMO.

I’ve already gone into the whole GMO bullshit thing, but this is about vegetable seeds.

Read this.

There is no such thing as a GMO vegetable seed that you can purchase in beautiful little envelopes with 25 seeds in the packet.  No such thing.  Anywhere in America.  It does not exist.

Read that again.  Go back.

Nobody has them.  Baker Creek doesn’t have them. Johnny’s doesn’t have them.  Nobody does.

They don’t because if you really want to buy GMO seed, you have to get it in bulk from a seed supplier that sells directly to farmers. That’s because GMO seed (most of it, right now anyway) is patented and that evil Monsanto wants to know who in the hell is growing their patented seed.  Otherwise, how will they know who to sue?

Oh, wait. No.

It is patented. That much is true.  And the company that owns the patent does require the farmer who buys it to sign a contract which spells out the terms.  It’s Monsanto’s (or whoever – I don’t know who owns the patent on GMO sugar beets) seed. They can make any conditions they like on the use of it while that patent is good.  And one of those conditions is that the farmer agrees not to save the seed. If you didn’t sign a contract, you didn’t buy GMO seed.

That’s one reason they don’t sell 25 seeds in a beautiful little envelope to Susie Homegardener.

The other reason is that it would be the dumbest thing in the world to do.

Tomatoes don’t count because there are no GMO tomatoes.  But there is GMO corn, although the overwhelming majority of it is field corn, and Susie doesn’t want to grow field corn. But let’s say that Monsanto’s GMO sweet corn was available to Susie in those beautiful little envelopes, and she planted it in her garden.

And the weeds came up.  And Susie wanted to get rid of the weeds, so she went to get her trusty little Roundup spray bottle and went out there and sprayed the hell out of her corn.

All the weeds died.

And so did her entire garden except for the corn.

Don’t pay any attention to any seed supplier that puts out a disclaimer that they don’t sell GMO seeds. It’s silly.  Nobody does for the home garden.

And coming next, what to do with that little packet of seeds once you get it.



When All Else Fails


This is just amazing to me.

The alt-right is painting Jeremy Christian as a Bernie supporter.

But Milo leaves this out:

November 11.  Right after the election.  He didn’t vote. He couldn’t “bring [himself] to vote Trump.”  He. Did. Not. Vote.

Just like Nicole herself, he didn’t vote.

Just like Nicole, he is extremely antagonistic toward the police.

Just like Nicole, he is extremely antagonistic toward, of all things, people who circumcise babies.

Just like Nicole, he loves the expression “taxation is theft.”

Just like Nicole, he shared freely from libertarian bullshit sites, anti-government crap.

Just like Nicole.

And just like Nicole, he gravitated toward only sharing from really questionable sources, like Milo Yiannopoulos. In fact, his Facebook page looks so much like Nicole’s that I found it creepy as hell.

Jeremy Christian is a bigoted, hate-filled, failed human being.  He’s a man of questionable intelligence, certainly with little ability to use any sort of critical thinking skills when it comes to information he gets from the internet.  His comment about Bernie was that he thought Bernie might make it legal to get stoned in school. And in the end, he did not vote. And in the end, he absolutely did walk onto a train, yelled racist comments at Muslim women, because they were Muslim and for no other reason, and then killed two men and injured another who tried to stop him.

To imply that he did this because he was inspired to do so by Bernie Sanders is, well, what you do when you’re Milo.  Or Nicole.  And every other explanation is just too close to home.