Author: Ryan Lau

Ryan is a first-year sophomore at the University of Vermont, double majoring in philosophy and psychology. He is 71 Republic's Editor in Chief and a member of the Board of Directors. The works of Konkin, Goldman, Rothbard and Tolstoy have influenced his anarchist beliefs and led him to seek a way to bring those ideas into reality.

5 Sexist Laws That Still Exist in the United States

3. Banning Men From Seducing Unmarried Women

The next law also affects the state of Michigan. But for a change in pace, it has the opportunity to unfairly punish men, rather than women. Michigan Penal Code 750.532 reads as follows:

Punishment—Any man who shall seduce and debauch any unmarried woman shall be guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment in the state prison not more than 5 years or by fine of not more than 2,500 dollars; but no prosecution shall be commenced under this section after 1 year from the time of committing the offense.

On the contrary, there is nothing in Michigan law that prohibits a woman from “debauching” an unmarried man. It is unclear to what extent this law is upheld, though one can reasonably infer that it is seldom, if ever. After all, the seduction of unmarried people is what creates initial bonds that eventually lead to relationships and marriages.

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5 Sexist Laws That Still Exist in the United States

2. Married Women Need Permission for Haircuts

Many laws have existed regarding hair policy over the years. Over time, most have changed to represent the obvious freedom to get whatever haircut you choose. However, Michigan still has one particular sexist law on the books that solely targets married women.

In the state, a married woman must have her husband’s permission in order to get a haircut. Clearly, this represents past times of gender inequality. In modern times, this law does not see any real enforcement. Though it appears to still be on the books, hairdressers do not ever put it into practice. For this reason, one article stated that the very concept is now a myth. Though it may be a part of an antiquated law code, it does not tangibly affect women’s lives.

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Amtrak Ran Slower Than an Average Marathon Runner

Ryan Lau | @agorisms

In an embarrassing loss for public transportation on Sunday evening, Amtrak’s Vermonter train ripped through a truck just north of Bellows Falls, Vermont. Immediately following the incident, the train screeched to a halt. With few updates, passengers sat in the dark for hours, figuratively and literally.

The Amtrak Vermonter Crash

Eventually, conductors were able to disseminate information to the passengers. Some of them had been en route for more than 12 hours, boarding the train in Washington, D.C.

According to local police and Amtrak officials, the truck had fallen off of the highway due to icy conditions. Then, it smashed through a guardrail and fell onto the tracks. Though police quickly arrived on the scene, they failed to notify Amtrak of the incident with enough time for them to apply the train’s brakes. As a result, the train plowed through the fallen truck, slicing it in half.

Luckily, the driver had already left the vehicle and there were no injuries. Passengers on the Vermonter reported feeling a “slight bump” and “standard train turbulence”, but none were entirely sure of the nature of the stop until much later.

After about three hours, school buses arrived and brought the disgruntled passengers to nearby Bellows Falls Station. There, they waited another two hours for a double-decker bus that would take them to their final destination.

Public Transportation Shortcomings

The events of Sunday clearly portray a number of inadequacies. The quasi-public corporation, of course, cannot control when trucks fall on the tracks. However, they could have easily communicated better with the police in order to prevent the accident in the first place. Doing so would have saved the many passengers a lot of time, and in some cases, money. As a result, several resorted to calling long-distance Ubers to combat the inefficiency of Amtrak.

This is far from the first time that this specific line has had major issues. Last November, the train halted in Massachusetts, causing a four-hour delay before buses finally arrived and departed. The train also has a track record of arriving late to several key stops.

Just one day prior, Amtrak faced another brutal delay. The Lake Shore Limited line, which runs from Chicago to Boston and New York, arrived an astonishing five hours late to Springfield, MA and later stops.

Amtrak Lake Shore Limited delays

Moreover, the amount of time between the crash and the transportation to Bellows Falls shows a lack of organization. In the end, three local school buses reported to the site of the crash. By the time they reached Bellows Falls Station, three and a half hours had passed since the crash.

Bellows Falls Station is roughly 23 miles north of nearby Brattleboro Station. The Amtrak train left there at 5:00. In the time it took to transport the passengers by train to Bellows Falls, around four hours, an average marathon runner could have made the trip. Presumably, the five-hour delays on the Lake Shore Limited line involved similar speeds, for a duration.

Mass transit exists to reduce the time between points A and B; the fact that Amtrak operated at less than a runner’s average speed is a stain on not only the company but what it claims to represent.

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Governor Ralph Northam Has a Disposition for Destruction

Ryan Lau | @agorisms

On Wednesday, the abortion debate took a spin in a new direction. After talks of overturning Roe v. Wade, this new proposal made every pro-lifer’s head spin. In case you missed it, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam recently voiced support for a bill that would allow women to receive abortions up to the moment before birth. Ultimately, the bill failed.

What’s the catch? Well, the moment before birth, abortion is not remotely possible, as the mother is already dilating. So, Northam proposed a purely terrible solution: birth the babies and kill them after. Specifically, he stated the following:

“So in this particular example if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen, the infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

If this wasn’t clear already, the “discussion” at hand pertains to whether or not to kill a live, birthed, innocent child.

I happen to fall on the side that believes a fetus is a human being from conception. The fetus, with genetically unique DNA, meets the biological requirements of life. I also believe that, given the fact that a fetus can feel pain early on, it checks an additional, philosophical box. But the semantics of when exactly life begins during pregnancy is relatively unimportant for this discussion. Similarly, the legal positions of pro-life and pro-choice matter little. I happen not to really agree with either, but the discussion at hand is one of morals. This bill shows a clear lack of them.

Ralph Northam, Father of Jonas?

Regardless of one’s beliefs about the fetus, we can all agree on one thing; once a mother gives birth to a baby, that child is very much alive. Suddenly, all of these questions go out the window, and we can recognize the sanctity of life. After all, who didn’t grow up reading The Giver? The antagonistic society is guilty of heartlessly killing babies after birth for not being desirable. Though without bad intentions, we can recognize that these actions were morally wrong. The novel was supposed to serve as a warning, not an instruction manual.

However, it appears that Ralph Northam and other legislators supporting this action missed the message. When a child is alive, there is no place, no room for discussion of killing it. You can slap a nice label on it, wrap it in a bow, and give a grand smile. But no masking job can hide the nature of murder. This is no longer a discussion of abortion: it’s a matter of infanticide.

Intent vs Result

Of course, I am in no way suggesting that Ralph Northam is a proud supporter of murder. In fact, he claimed quite the opposite on Twitter recently.

But the Virginia governor is missing the key difference between intent and result. Though the intent of an action is important, it certainly does not excuse a predictably poor result. In this case, the results are the loss of a child’s life. When this is a guaranteed future, can any intention truly justify such an act? I am inclined to believe that this is not the case, that life is sacred beyond all else.

In the face of these ideas, what can the average person do to safeguard lives? Most importantly, the answer lies in spreading awareness and knowledge in a peaceful, comforting way. The matter at hand really shouldn’t be all that controversial; thus, it should be a simple task to show others the consequences. Regardless of your beliefs on abortion, it is time to unite around common respect and love for infants. In doing so, renounce post-birth terminations for the heartless ending of a human life that they are.

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Psilocybin Mushrooms Are Changing the Way You Die

Ryan Lau | @agorisms

For thousands of years, people have used psychedelics to pursue life-altering experiences. With relatively low risk, these drugs have provided great insight to many. They also have, in smaller doses, helped to improve concentration and mental ability. Recently, LSD microdosing even became the subject of an anonymous public study. Now, information is out about the healing effects of psilocybin mushrooms on depression and anxiety on the terminally ill.

Also known as magic mushrooms, the drug can produce vivid hallucinations in heavy doses, but the overdose and injury risk are both particularly low. As a result, Denver is actually considering decriminalizing the drug, but they are not alone in showing support; a recent study points to a very interesting medical use for psilocybin mushrooms.

Psilocybin Mushrooms and Terminal Cancer

In December of 2016, the Journal of Psychopharmacology published a groundbreaking study on the effects of psilocybin mushrooms on terminal cancer patients. It’s fairly common knowledge that those facing a terminal illness have higher rates of depression and anxiety; of course, people with terminal cancer are prone to these effects. But evidence shows that the drug may have a major effect on their condition.

In the study, researchers looked at 51 cancer patients, each of whom had symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. A month after getting baseline measurements of depression and anxiety, half of the group received 3 micrograms of psilocybin (less than a microdose, a placebo). The other half consumed 30 micrograms, which is a medically significant quantity.

Five weeks later, the two groups reversed, getting the opposite dose. The researchers also monitored depression and anxiety levels after the first and second trial, as well as six months later. They then published their results from after the first and second session and at the follow-up.

The Results

Psilocybin mushroom trial results

Astonishingly, the drug had a clinically significant effect on the patients. The researchers defined this as depression and/or anxiety decreasing 50% or more from the baseline. For those that received the high dose first, the results were immediate. After the first session, 92% of subjects with depression and 76% of those with anxiety saw a clinical response. For 60% and 52%, respectively, the symptoms were in full remission.

On the other hand, those with the placebo dose did not see these changes. Clinical response rates were 32% and 24%, while remission rates were a paltry 16% and 12%. But once they received their dose the second time, the numbers shot up.

After session 2, the group that then received the high dose (the low-dose group from session 1) saw similar results to the high-dose group from session 1. Their clinical response rates for depression and anxiety were 75% and 83%, while remission rates spiked to 58% and 42%. At the six-month follow-up, the figures only changed marginally.

What Can We Conclude?

All in all, this study strongly suggests that psilocybin mushrooms may be very helpful in treating depression and anxiety in cancer patients. After all, just one dose sent over half of all participants into remission. Of course, the drug is not helpful in treating the diseases themselves. However, it can still change the way that people die, altering their perception of life for the better.

At this time, the biggest obstacle to treatment will almost certainly be governments across the world. In most countries, it is a crime to consume psilocybin mushrooms or other hallucinogenic drugs. Very few allow the practice and those that do have many nuances in the law. For example, psilocybin is illegal in Brazil, but the sale and consumption of mushrooms containing them are not. The United States, along with most countries, has a blanket ban on the substance.

With increasing evidence for medical capability, it is entirely possible that the world will soon see a push to legalize mushrooms. This could play out quite like the drive to legalize marijuana. As stated previously, Denver is already considering the measure. The FDA is also beginning to approve trials for their use. However, there likely will be pushback, particularly from more conservative lawmakers hesitant even to take action on marijuana. The future of psilocybin as a medical treatment is quite unknown, but one thing is clear: the drug has the potential to make a major impact on the world.

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