Category Archives: You Should Know

For the sharing of little-known tips and tricks which may help the reader to improve his or her self. YSKs may relate to personal skills, day-to-day efficiency, greater self-awareness, or the improvement of life circumstances.

Your feedback is particularly invited with regard to posts made to this category. I would very much like to know what you think, and would love to see related YSKs popping up in the comments section!

You Should Know: CRISPR

Something amazing is happening right now. #CRISPR is being tested, and is already starting to save lives. The technique is in its infancy, but if it works, it could lead to entirely new fields of medicine, as it enables a level of medical care previously only imagined in science fiction.

CRISPR is the name given to the process by which living bacteria edit their genetic structure, and swap out genes with other living bacteria. It’s how they evolve immunity to antibiotics so quickly. Having finally figured out the basics of how it works, scientists are now trying to apply it to humans.

Imagine being able to engineer humans who don’t require vaccination — because they’re born immune to the prevalent diseases of the time. Imagine being able to safely eliminate tumor cells with a method that leaves normal cells alone. Diabetic? Let’s fix that pancreas. Injured? Let’s reactivate the genes that allow for regeneration (we have them; our livers regenerate, in a limited fashion).

There are dark possibilities with this kind of capability. There’s no denying that. Want to ensure that all babies are born with blue eyes and blond hair? That would be possible.

Before “1984,” there was “Brave New World,” in which classifications of human being are created with specialized, often broadly diminished, physical and mental capacity, specifically engineered to fill specific functions. An early example in the book was that of a mentally disabled man designed to operate an elevator, without the intellectual capacity to do much more than that. Famously, George Orwell idolized Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World, who reviewed 1984 and said that it was “very good, but when that future arrives, it will be more like Brave New World.”

That future is coming.

What’s important to remember is that, like anything else we’ve ever made, from the first time we picked up a heavy rock to break open a clam (or crush a rival’s skull), CRISPR is a tool.

It is a tool with great potential to do good, or to cause harm, but it has no agenda. It doesn’t wish us ill, and it won’t wreak havoc — not if we refuse to let it. The scientists who are presently experimenting with CRISPR are doing so with the goal of curing genetic afflictions and improving overall human health, wellness, and lifespans. It is up to the people at large, the responsible citizens of developed countries, to stay on top of this.

We need to watch. To marvel, and delight in the achievements of those who are working to improve our lot — everyone’s lot — in this life.

And, to make certain that this is all they’re doing. Not out of paranoia, or by being heavy-handed, or presumptive about what we know, but by making ourselves heard, tracking progress as it is published, and being absolutely clear on what will and won’t be accepted as ethical applications for CRISPR.

Overall, I’ve got a good feeling about this. I’m sure that someone, somewhere, at some point, will do something they shouldn’t, but this kind of treatment offers huge promise for eradicating infectious diseases… heart disease… kidney disease… diabetes… cancer… Alzheimer’s disease… and, potentially, down the road a ways? The aging process.

Sex & Violence

Sex & Violence

Of all the scenes to ever trouble the weary fingers of the career author, those which rely on sex or focus on action and violence are the most difficult to write—and, from the writer’s own perspective, often the least satisfying. Both involve the same two hang-ups: action, and intense and passionate emotion, which can be difficult to convey in swift and sudden fashion.

This, of course, is how you often want the heart of an intense scene to progress: buildup aside, you want things to proceed briskly, rather than getting lost in the details. The mind of the reader needs just enough to work with so that they can fashion an image of what’s going on for themselves.

With that in mind, how should you go about conveying this kind of imagery, ensuring that enough bridges the gap between writer and reader—without knocking the reader’s head against the wall, just to remind them that it’s there?

Pace Your Scene

The Devil is in the details… so avoid them. Use the buildup to your sex or action scene to establish atmosphere. Describe a few important details; when you visualize the scene itself, what stands out? Is it the color of the room, or the texture of a wall—perhaps as someone’s fingertips run along uneven masonry? Does the creaking of a bed remind your main character of the treehouse that their long-vanished father built for them as a child? Establish atmosphere before reaching the heart of the scene, using colorful, vivid, but increasingly clipped detail.

Your audience will remember the atmosphere. Now, it’s all about the action. Think of it as the foreground to the atmosphere’s background.  Describe actual action in minimalist terms—whether it’s combative, or sexual… or both, if you’re into that sort of thing. Be sparse with your description, but make sure that what you do use is well-written and relevant. As a rule, you shouldn’t describe superfluous detail that stands starkly in contrast to the atmosphere you’ve already laid out.

With the conclusion of your action sequence, hearken back to the atmosphere briefly, just to tie it all together. Make a final, departing reference to the texture of the wall, or the creaking of the bed, before you continue with your story. Unlike the buildup to an action scene, the ensuing story can return to its previous pace abruptly—not without acknowledgement, but some of the most accomplished authors in existence manage this with a short paragraph, if not a single sentence.

The transition from the main force of an action scene, back to dialogue or narrative, can be as abrupt as the action itself.

Know What You’re After in Advance

sex violence action scenes writing
I’m 60% certain that this falls under “sex.”

The broad strokes of this are obvious (“it’s a fight sequence with the villain,”) but let’s take things one step further than that.

By overcomplicating an action sequence, you risk giving your reader too much to absorb. Sudden changes, such as points that profoundly affect the narrative, need to be indulged quickly—or else they run the risk of interrupting the scene. That’s sometimes a desirable thing, but certainly not always.

Suppose that you’re writing a tense Victorian crime thriller. Your heroine is a young heiress who spends her night fighting for London’s impoverished lower classes—mask and all, although her primary tools are her father’s dueling pistol and her brother’s rapier. You’re writing a scene where she finally comes upon the villain she’s been pursuing. The setup is quick; there is both cause and vengeance at steak. You’ve laid the groundwork: a fiery intensity of emotion, a keening Warrior Princess cry that leaves her foe backpedaling, and our femme fatale draws first blood.

In so doing, she unmasks her foe—revealing the face of her brother, whom she had thought dead, and for whom she had been seeking vengeance all along.

I’ll even give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume that there’s more to the story than that, Shyamalan. Her brother, as it turns out, isn’t the villain at all: he’s been working against the same forces that she’s been fighting, the whole time, but he always did his best to hinder her progress and—in so doing—keep her out of harm’s way.

He’s less interested in the greater good, and more in avenging an unfair slight against his family’s honor. He’s done terrible, horrible things in the act of pursuing his vengeance. Your heroine is confused, and she wants answers, but that rage is still there—she knows what he’s done. She’s seen him do it. The righteous fury of the cause rises to the surface…

It’s a bit much, isn’t it? To be conveyed during a fight scene?

You’ve got two choices here. Progress the action scene for a time, giving your reader some satisfying, adrenaline-pumping excitement, before the unmasking of the noble heroine’s brother. The foe can appear to be toying with her, only to have it later revealed that he was simply trying to avoid doing her any harm.

Once he is unmasked, have the heroine stagger; convey a cold, hard shock, and shift things into a tense dialogue to explain what’s going on.

The other option is to continue the fight. In place of cold shock, there is the fiery anger of betrayal; the heroine redoubles her efforts against her treacherous brother, who is not so unwilling to do her harm that he is willing to risk his vendetta by falling to her sword. The two continue fighting, but there is brief, clipped dialogue intermixed with the action—don’t use four words, when three will do, and only cover the broadest possible details. Major revelations should pause, if not end, the scene.

Too many people get lost in the scope of the detail with an action scene that’s important enough to have more at stake than the simple result of the action itself. They try to introduce new plot elements mid-fight, to change the atmosphere entirely, or to introduce lengthy, interruptive dialogue in between every act involved. This kind of thing bogs an action scene down, and is better reserved for the consequence of a scene—not the mid-point. Full paragraphs and a sudden mood change is a transitory point, not something to indulge in while the bullets are flying.

Pace your Writing

We’ve gone over pacing a scene, but there’s something else to remember about pacing: it applies to your actual writing habit. The greatest writers all say the same thing: “just write.” Sit down, and write. Write until you don’t have anything else to write. Write until you’ve hit the end of your ideas and you’re rambling—then ramble some, before stopping.

Never, ever “edit as you go.” Editing as you go is writer’s block waiting to happen. It’s 100% assurance of dissatisfaction with your own work, and for something as important as an action scene, you don’t want to second-guess yourself unto eternity.

With sex and violence, it’s more crucial than ever that you just… keep… going, until you’re done, and then don’t let yourself change anything right away! Continue writing your story. Write it until the end. Write subsequent action scenes; during the editing process, what you’ve written later may inform some minor tweaks you want to make to what came before, but you’ll be far more likely to be happy with what you’ve written in context. Editing sex or violence as it’s written is the surest way to wind up mired in what I like to call “porn syndrome:” too much detail, not enough reality.

Trust Your Reader, Trust Yourself

This point is critical, but is too often overlooked: you need to relax. Your reader knows what they’re after in a story. Have faith in yourself, in your ability to convey the desired imagery for this scene in the same way that you’ve held your reader’s attention thus far. By the same token, you should also trust that your reader is enjoying your story; if they’ve made it to the sex, or the action, they want to appreciate the scene—but they also want to know what’s coming next. It’s very unlikely that anything you’re likely to do, if you relax and let the words flow, is going to shatter their immersion or ruin their appreciation of your work.

By staying true to yourself—to your vision, your established style, your existing techniques—everything will most likely turn out fine, without a lot of hassle.

Friends, Romans, Countrymen

As a writer who has spent the last couple of years trying to transition into new genres and mediums, I’d be very interested in what you have to say about this, or any of my other articles concerning advice for writers. If you have questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to share them in a comment below.

If there’s anything I’ve left out, such as some strategy which has worked well for you in the past? Share it in a comment as well—for the benefit of anyone else who might come along!

The Devil’s Bean?

The Devil’s Bean?

Currently, this article condemning Red Bull is #trending on Facebook. It is an example of #fakenews. It contains shoddy, limited, and low-effort research. The low-quality graphics and basic errors in grammar show a lack of careful editing, which also manifests itself in the subjective content.

Here is why you should read such content with a critical and otherwise well-informed eye, and never accept it as the sole source of input for your opinion.

The Source Article has Nothing Specifically to Do with Energy Drinks, Let Alone Red Bull

Nothing about the article has anything to do with #RedBull, or even with “energy drinks” in any general sense. The content relates, solely and entirely, to the effects of caffeine. Important natural processes, which are always at work in your body, are cast in a villainous light, thereby making the effects of caffeine appear far more insidious and pervasive than they actually are. The Church of Latter Day Saints, one of the most notorious advocates against the use of caffeine in the modern world, even clarified its policy five years ago; they now explicitly allow Mormons to drink caffeinated soft drinks, some of the least healthy caffeinated beverages in existence.

You Always Lose Valuable Nutrients When You Urinate

This is why animal waste (ours included) makes such an effective fertilizer. The digestive process is simply not that efficient. This is a point that is regularly raised to make soft drinks, energy drinks, and alcohol look worse than they are, but it would happen even if you drank nothing but crystal-clear mountain springwater. Meanwhile, anything that *isn’t* water (including milk, soy milk, almond milk, and fruit juices) will suck more nutrients out of your system than water will; such is not the exclusive province of caffeinated beverages.

Releasing Sugar Into Your Bloodstream Is Part of Your Liver’s Vital Function (You Need This to Be Alive)

Your liver’s normal, everyday function includes the release of sugar into the bloodstream. Insulin is used to turn sugar into chemical fuel, so more is produced in response to more sugar. This is how you get more energy and stave off exhaustion, which most of us are trying to do when we drink caffeine in the first place.

Blood Sugar Spikes Happen Every Time You Consume Anything Edible (Again, Necessary for Life to Exist)

When you consume anything edible, your body turns part of it into sugar. This sugar is processed into chemical energy by your cells, and used as fuel. This is where all of our energy comes from; supplementing with B-Complex Vitamins doesn’t “give you” energy. Instead, it makes the process more efficient; you lose less of what you’re already taking in. If what comes out of your bottom doesn’t look like what went in at the top, that’s because part of it was chemically altered to produce sugar.

Your Body Naturally Stores Chemical Energy as Fat

Excess chemical fuel is stored as fat when its energy is not needed. The article implies that this is some diabolical twisting of your body’s systems by caffeine. This is how your body normally works. The problem, here, isn’t what you’re taking in: it’s how much of it you’re consuming, and what your daily routine looks like. You shouldn’t drink energy drinks if you’re sitting around on your ass all day. You also shouldn’t eat a lot, or drink anything but water, if you’re sitting around on your ass all day. While we’re at it, you shouldn’t sit around on your ass all day. That is unhealthy in itself. These processes, the way in which your body creates and stores chemical energy, are why that is unhealthy.

Let’s Talk About Red Bull, Since The Source Didn’t Bother

Red Bull does have a lot of sugar, but the total amount (including processed sugar) is no greater than the total amount of sugar found in an equivalent volume of fruit juice.

Its sugar content is roughly equivalent to the maximum daily sugar intake advised for an adult human. That’s in one normal-sized can. It’s equal to about 4-9 teaspoons of sugar, depending upon how high you heap those teaspoons. Many of us put that much in 1-2 cups of coffee, and we’re otherwise generally very careless about our sugar intake regardless (on average, we consume 2 times the recommended daily intake), but that doesn’t objectively make Red Bull any better.

The issue here is the accessibility of that sugar. Processed sugar is easily accessed, and quickly stored (often, I’ve found, in the hips).

Except, there is sugar-free Red Bull. There are also sugar-free varieties of most other energy drinks.

You can restrict your energy drink intake to when you actually need that extra energy, which will burn more sugar without storing the excess as fat. The American Heart Association’s maximum daily intake advisement is based on averages in both body size and daily activity levels. A person with more non-fatty tissue can safely consume higher amounts of sugar. A person with unusually high activity levels, such as someone who gets 30 minutes or more of physical exercise in a given day, will burn through substantially more calories.

The average intake advisement only involves 100 – 150 calories per day, maximum. It is so restricted due to the necessity of making room for calories from other important nutrients *within the average daily allotment of 2000 calories*. An amateur bodybuilder, someone who works out for 1-2 hours per day, may consume 2-3 times as much. It’s all about healthy activity levels and well-informed habits.

Energy drinks are not the Devil. Caffeine is heavily consumed by countries with some of the highest life expectancies on Earth, including the US and the Nordic countries. Articles like the one I’m referencing present a woefully incomplete and deeply skewed angle that is designed to mislead. This is so they can trend on sensationalism, which is exactly what this article is doing.

You Should Know: The Ninth Amendment

You Should Know: The Ninth Amendment

First, let’s have some background. There are a lot of popular misconceptions about the Bill of Rights, ranging from the false, but relatively harmless (“it wasn’t called that at the time”) to the alarmingly misinformed (“it wasn’t the work of the Founding Fathers, and shouldn’t be regarded as a real part of the Constitution”). Here’s a quick summary of the actual history of the writing of our Constitution, including how the Bill of Rights (the first nineteen… I mean, ten Constitutional Amendments) came into existence.

United States Constitution Ninth Amendment rights
Can you honestly say, or even think “We the People” without rolling your eyes a little, at this point?

The Constitution of the United States was hammered out by the Confederation Congress. They came together for this purpose in 1787, in Philadelphia, and worked out the particulars of the document over the course of four months: from May 25th through September 17th, at which point the Constitution was signed by the delegates. At this point in time, America had no executive branch, and therefore no chief executive officer. George Washington would be elected as our first president the following year, with John Adams elected vice president.

Several key figures in our nation’s fledgling history, including both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, were serving in diplomatic positions abroad at the time of the Constitutional Convention. They communicated extensively with the delegates by written correspondence, and works for which they were already responsible were among the influential factors in shaping our Constitution. Given such, they are recognized as having been deeply influential in the shaping of the original Constitution.

The original document was drafted by James Madison, who would go on to become our fourth president, serving two consecutive terms following his election in 1808. Substantial input was provided by such individuals as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine, author of “Common Sense.” Notable patriot Patrick “Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death” Henry was hotly opposed to the idea of creating a Constitution at all, as at first blush the very idea supported a strong centralization of power. He was persuaded to come on board through the addition of the Bill of Rights, which afforded rights—not just to We the People—but also to the individual states.

States’ rights versus federal authority has always been a controversial topic throughout US history (we spent four years killing each other over it, you know—that one time), and it remains a heated issue even today. At the time of the Constitutional Convention, however, it was easily the fiercest point of fevered contention among the delegates. There was a tremendous sense of the responsibility inherent in what they were doing, and the understanding that whatever direction they took would subsequently shape the course of American history. Thanks to this issue, the necessity of incorporating protection for individual and states’ rights directly into the language of the Constitution was understood, and in the planning stages, before the ink was dry on the original document itself.

The Ratification of the Bill of Rights (and, Yes, It Was Called That at the Time)

Like the original Constitution itself, the Bill of Rights was drafted by James Madison, and originally took the form of nineteen proposed Constitutional Amendments. These were proposed to the United States Congress on June 8th in 1789, Madison drafted nineteen amendments, which he proposed to Congress on June 8, 1789, not quite two years after the Constitution itself had been signed. Through a steady series of approval procedures, the fledgling proposal was narrowed down to seventeen Amendments, and then to twelve, by the House of Representatives and the Senate respectively. After approval by Congress on September 25th of the same year, these twelve Amendments were sent to the individual states for ratification.

The final ten of those twelve Constitutional Amendments were officially ratified, as the Bill of Rights, on the 15th of December in 1791. At this point, they became a recognized part of the US Constitution. The original First and Second Amendments ultimately failed to meet with necessary state approval. The first dealt with certain particulars in how representation was apportioned in the House of Representatives, and the second would have prevented Congressional representatives from voting themselves a pay raise within the current session (in other words, “effective immediately”). That original Second Amendment would eventually become our Twenty-Seventh Amendment, being ratified on May 7th, 1992.

Fun Facts: The Unopposed Elections of George Washington

Washington is considered to have run unopposed during the elections of 1788 and 1792. He received one vote per elector. Each elector was supposed to cast two votes, supporting two candidates, with the overall runner-up at the time being elected as vice president. By receiving one vote per elector, Washington is said to have earned 100% of the presidential vote. It was widely understood that the other candidates were “functionally” running for the vice presidency; the eventual 12th Amendment to the Constitution would change the

The Ninth Amendment: Our Forgotten Potency

Ninth Amendment inalienable rights US Constitution
Click the image to view this image of the original Ninth Amendment text at full resolution

Ask the average American today what rights are acknowledged as being afforded to them by the Bill of Rights, and most will stumble to a halt after the first two. A distressing number of people view our rights as being provided by the Constitution, when the idea is that they’re inherent—undeniable, inalienable—and that the Constitution acknowledges the government’s duty to protect them. Technically, “Constitutional rights” is a misnomer, though its use is unlikely to go away any time soon. More’s the pity.

A few people who remember the investigation into Bill Clinton, during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, can hash out a guess as to the Fifth Amendment—it protects one from self-incriminating. Some states’ rights enthusiasts are familiar with the Tenth Amendment, which affords jurisdiction over any matters not specifically retained by the federal government to the discretion of individual states. The Ninth Amendment, however, is rarely referenced in popular culture or major news items, and that’s a pity. It’s entirely relevant to many ongoing issues affecting Americans today.

Like most of the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution, the Ninth Amendment is pretty short. In fact, at a single modest sentence, it’s shorter than several others. Here it is:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

It’s an open door to “Power to the People.” It’s the Billy Mays “But wait, there’s MORE!” of the Bill of Rights. It literally, inarguably, and uncompromisingly asserts the fact that the American people can, by general consensus, stake their claim to fundamental and inalienable human rights which aren’t mentioned in the Constitution at all.

So, why did Madison write this?

As I mentioned earlier, the issue of federal versus state power was the number one issue during the drafting of the Constitution. There were individuals who were heatedly opposed to the idea of a Constitution, which they felt was nothing more than a tool for solidifying centralized power over the rights of the individual states to by-and-large govern themselves. This was ultimately the driving force behind the Tenth Amendment, which assured that any rights not specifically retained by the federal government were left to the individual states.

In writing our first batch of Constitutional Amendments, however, James Madison came to recognize another disturbing possibility, with regard to the future expansion of the power of the government. He understood that society, technology, and general human innovation would continue to advance over time; after all, significant advancement had occurred within his own lifetime (that whole “rebellion against the Crown” and “establishing the first great modern democracy” thing, not to mention the one-man technological revolution that was Benjamin Franklin).

Should society advance significantly, Madison reasoned, it seemed likely that there would eventually exist some commonly-perceived right or fundamental necessity to ensure the continuation of that whole “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” deal which he, from his hot and non-air-conditioned chambers, could not hope to anticipate. At such a time as such an innovation came into being, there was the distinct possibility that the Constitution could be turned on its head, and used to restrict the rights of the people.

There is an old Latin maxim, which was recognized at the time of America’s founding: expressio unius est exclusio alterius. In English, this means “the expression of one thing is the exclusion of another.” It is the implication, in legal documentation, that—in a situation with two possibilities—the “common sense interpretation” of one of those possibilities legally excludes the other. It has been raised and debated many times throughout American history since James Madison’s time, and it was a common subject of debate and interpretation going back to a time when people spoke Latin as a native tongue.

James Madison drafted the Ninth Amendment to try and prevent the list of rights recognized by the Bill of Rights as being used to imply that no other protected rights could be claimed in the future. It reinforced the notion that the rights listed were inherent and inalienable, while providing them with room to grow. Though the average American isn’t even aware of the existence of the “Silent Amendment,” it affords us as a society great power over the direction our government takes—should we choose to exercise it.

Given that there are hundreds of millions of us, it should come as no surprise that—despite the general lack of understanding of the Ninth Amendment, and what it entails—efforts have been made to bring it to bear on behalf of all American citizens.

Recent Efforts to Apply the Ninth Amendment

gay rights protest inalienable rights Supreme Court
The hatred that arose in response to the push for gay rights is a national embarrassment.

Here are a few areas where the Ninth Amendment might just come in handy, in terms of securing the future of American freedom for all its citizens. Please note that, while they are certainly not my opinions alone, these do reflect upon my own personal views quite heavily.

  • Right to Privacy: During the time of America’s founding, privacy was a little-known luxury. Most houses didn’t even have hallways: they were built as a series of interconnected rooms, including bedrooms. The large families of the day meant that multiple people typically shared a bedroom, which was predominantly used only for sleeping. A lack of privacy doesn’t simply impact personal comfort levels: it affects social roles and behavioral norms. No activity that is remotely unusual can be engaged in without observation and influence by those around you. In the present day, privacy concerns have expanded into the electronic medium, with fiercely debated arguments regarding what is required to spy on a person through their mobile device activity. If we indeed hold the rights of the individual as sacred, the modern scientific understanding that you cannot observe someone without affecting their behavior should limit the extent to which said observation is permitted. There is even some argument to the effect that mobile devices and personal information should be treated with the same reverence as a person’s own thoughts (video link), due to how we approach the electronic medium psychologically.
  • Right to Engage in Private Sexual Acts Between Consenting Adults: Recognition of gay rights was long overdue, but without the teeth of a Constitutional Amendment to back this up, there are many ways in which gay rights are still under attack—and too many people are now sitting back, congratulating themselves on a job well done. This is quite possibly well-earned, given all that homosexuals in the United States have endured by way of decades of completely legal persecution (video link), but it means that progress in some areas is being reversed. In certain states, for example, the right to start a family via gestational surrogacy is limited to those for whom natural reproduction is a medical—not biological—impossibility. In a country with millions of homosexuals, such situations regularly impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, while representing a problem that can be easily dealt with through the introduction of a carefully and simply-worded Constitutional Amendment.
  • Right to Die with Dignity: (video link) Thousands of individuals struggle, day by day, with the pain and the suffering of terminal illness. With no end in sight, they are not permitted to pursue painless, physician-assisted suicide, due to a lingering stigma that is entirely religious in its origins. These include individuals who are elderly, with no surviving family members, and people with conditions for whom even viable, experimental treatments are years away (it isn’t so simple as “discovering a cure;” the overall process can take years, and that’s assuming it’s viable to begin with). People with terminal illness are forced to waste away, often on life support, past the point where they can care for themselves—or even communicate with the outside world. They endure until they suffer organ failure, drown in their own fluids, or suffer brain death—and it is not unknown for a person who is brain dead, and only being kept “functionally” alive by machines, to be kept on life support against the wishes of their immediate family. There are high profile cases of the government interfering in this (lookin’ at you, Jeb).
  • Right to Reproductive Autonomy: The ongoing issue of abortion is clouded with misunderstanding, false myths, and deliberate ignorance (video link). The pro-life “platform” is based entirely on these misconceptions, and it has its roots in the enforcement of ideas that are at worst rooted in individual religious preferences—and, at best, a matter of personal opinion, completely unenforceable in accordance with known facts. The platform is notoriously unconcerned with the reasons why an abortion is being sought, with the other services provided by an organization that offers abortion services, with the consequences of a society without legal abortions, with the health and well-being of the mother, with the welfare of a child once it has left the womb, or with the profoundly negative way in which it impacts the lives of millions of American women every year. It is one of the primary focal points for under-reported incidents of extremist Christian violence and domestic terrorism, and is a major example of how American policy allows for “religious freedom” to involve the imposition of one’s religious beliefs on other people.
  • Right to High-Speed Internet Access: This is a relatively recent proposal, but it is an idea that is gaining traction (video link), both in America and abroad (I’ve always wanted to study a broad… I’m so sorry). The European Union and the United Nations have both come out in favor of pursuing the classification of high-speed internet access as a necessary public utility, and its advancement as an inalienable right. We live in a world that is becoming increasingly globalized; internet access is frequently required to look for a job, to shop for basic necessities, and to pay bills. Our legal regard for internet access—which is still regarded almost as a passing fad, or a curiosity, by the US government—is decades out of date. This antiquated regard for the electronic medium has contributed in many ways to the ability of law enforcement and other government agencies to flout existing, recognized Constitutional rights in ways that wouldn’t be possible in direct physical analogy: recognizing internet access as an inalienable right could assist in the ongoing fight against invasive electronic search, seizure, and surveillance practices.

The Right to Know More

There are many more areas where the Ninth Amendment could be brought to bear, for the good of all American citizens. Is there an issue about which you are passionate, that you would like to see raised in regard to the Ninth Amendment and the protection it could potentially afford? Leave a comment; I’d love to hear from you! In the meanwhile, feel free to check out these additional resources on the subject: