Niko's Nature

“Whatsoever thy soul shall say to me, I will do for thee.”

Posts tagged social justice

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Anonymous asked: I was asking about the picture with the Pope on the left sitting on his chair and the Poor boy on the right so skinny naked and undernourished. I was just asking because I just want to know where these kids are and why doesn't any one who is able, with so many rich people in this world help them. I am planning to start a charity organization and this really touches my heart to see children like this who are born and not at fault for their situation. Let us all pray for them. Thank you.

Well, I don’t know specifically where that photo was taken.  However, there are many hungry people all over the world.  Almost 850 million people worldwide do not have enough to eat.  Here are some more facts about hunger.  

Luckily there are a lot of aid organizations who are trying to help.  Catholic Relief Services is one of the best, and there are many ways to get involved with them.  Another great way to get involved in the fight against hunger is to volunteer your time at a local soup kitchen or food pantry (and obviously donate what goods you can to them.)  I recommend one run by the St. Vincent DePaul society, if you have one local.  They’ve operated for hundreds of years and are great at what they do.  

And of course, as you said, we can, and should, always pray for an end to hunger.  

In Christ,


Filed under Hunger Catholic Christianity Social Justice World Hunger

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Leader of Latin American Bishops: Liberation Theology ‘Archaic, If Not Already Dead’

The important quote is:

“True liberation is showing the merciful face of God the Father, the tenderness of God among us,”

Filed under Catholic Catholicism Christianity Liberation Theology Social Justice

14 notes &

Anonymous asked: Niko, a different anon recently asked if you were asexual and you responded that you were, as you chose not to have sex. I just wanted to let you know that that's abstinence, not asexuality! Asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction, while abstinence is a personal decision not to have sex. People can be one or the other or both or neither, but they aren't the same thing!

Thank you,  I’m aware of that.  I was trying to make a subtle point that I disagree with the idea of asexuality as a “sexual orientation” itself, but I probably should have been clearer about that.

But yes, you are absolutely right, abstinence is choosing not to have sex, “asexuality” as it is presented in gender theory, is a lack of sexual attraction.  The two are completely independent form each other.

Now, what I mean by I disagree with “asexuality” as a sexual orientation, is that I don’t think any human being can be asexual.  We are, by our nature, sexual beings.  Now, different people might have higher and lower sex drives, but this is not a specific “identity” just different points on a spectrum of sex drives.  (Just as I don’t think gay, lesbian, bi, trans, pansexual, and the rest of the alphabet soup are individual identities as much as points on a spectrum.  We all experience same-sex and opposite-sex attractions in different degrees all existing on the same spectrum.  There’s no reason to make an identity over it.)

Really, the label asexuality seems to be another useless, (and in many ways, harmful) social construction created by a culture that has a fetish for trying to make different labels to define every little bit of what a person considers their identity.  I know some people might take offense to this, but I really don’t mean this to be derisive towards people who use that label.  (I do mean it derisively towards our culture that pressures people into feeling the need to use any label for it at all.)  

But thank you again for giving me the opportunity to clarify!  God bless!


Filed under Asexuality Social Justice Sexuality Asexual glbt

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RE: Allofthegrero


Can you address the functional objection to your argument? I am sure critics would argue that same sex relationships should be called marriages if they- at least in appearance- function like other marriages. Can you articulate why the functionalist argument is insufficient? I was thinking about this sort of thing earlier in regards to parenting and adoption.

Plus I think you’ve missed a step in your articulation- convince why teleology should be believed before talking about ends to procreation and the like. I believe it, but others do not.

Regarding this post.  Well, those two questions are actually related.  I chose not to go this far back in my original post, because as I said, I wanted to keep it short, but if it would help people to hear it: the first point to tackle is “why teleology?”  And the answer is, because without it, we simply can’t define anything.  Take something simple like a pencil.  How do we know a pencil is a pencil?  Not by size, shape, color, etc. because there are pencils of all different sizes shapes and colors.  Some pencils have scents and make noises, some don’t.  Is it what they are made up of that makes them a pencil?  Clearly not.  Old pencils had lead, today they have graphite, but they are both pencils.  Some pencils have wood, some have plastic.  Some have rubber for erasers, some don’t.  Yet they are all pencils.  Furthermore, we could imagine someone taking a pencil, separating the wood from the graphite and making some kind of sculpture out of it.  The fact that it maintains the same materials as made up a pencil does not make that sculpture a pencil, and we wouldn’t recognize it as such.  

What makes a pencil, is its ability to write.  We recognize the form of a pencil makes it good for writing, and so we know it is to be used for writing. And all of us who have had to write essays for tests, know that when a pencil can write well, it is a “good pencil,” and when the pencil doesn’t write well, we often are frustrated with it and call it a “bad pencil.”  The fact that we all understand this shows us that we understand that a pencil, and by extension, all other things are defined by their ends.  

Now, when we apply that to the sexual act, we see that the sexual act (or the act of sexual reproduction) has a procreative end.  Thus, the sexual act in part is defined by its openness to reproduction and marriage is defined in part by the ability to use the sexual act to increase love.  Which brings us to your second question “Why can’t same-sex relationships be marriages if they function like marriages.”  Well, the answer is, they don’t function like marriages.  Because a same-sex relationship is not open to procreation, it cannot complete the sexual act, and because it cannot do so, it cannot function as a marriage.  

Now, some people might argue, “what about people suffering from infertility.”  This brings us to a key distinction.  Same-sex relationships are necessarily, definitionally closed to procreation.  Opposite-sex relationships where one or both of the members is infertile is only conditionally closed to procreation.

The best analogy I could come up with is, it’s true a broken pencil cannot write, but even though it is broken we still can tell from its form that it is meant for writing.  A donut however, we can tell is not.  And though a donut can write as well as a broken pencil, that doesn’t make the donut a pencil.  Similarly, just because a same-sex relationship is as fertile as an infertile opposite-sex relationship, it doesn’t make the same-sex relationship open to procreation.  For this reason, a same-sex relationship can never be a marriage.

Now, does that mean that people with same-sex attractions can’t have relationships with each other?  Of course not.  These relationships can be fierce friendships that lead their members to great virtue.  The problem is, these relationships are often trampled upon by everyone pushing for gay marriage, forcing relationships between people with same-sex attractions into this romantic category where they do not belong.  Thus, it takes great courage for someone with same-sex attractions to build healthy relationships in today’s world.  Yes, because they have to stand up to bigots who hate people with same-sex attractions, but more so, because they have to protect their relationship from those “activists” who cannot understand the value of a chaste friendship, and will seek to turn the friendship into an erotic relationship for their own gain.  Therefore, we who call ourselves Catholics have to do our best to support our brothers and sisters with same-sex attractions, stand with them, and most importantly, be their friend.  Because fundamentally, if being a Christian doesn’t mean being a true friend to all, then I have no idea what being a Christian means.

Filed under Homosexual Homosexuality Gay marriage Philosophy Social Justice

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princessespeachy asked: "You are literally telling someone you can’t accept them because you’re accepting." really. you do know that homophobia kills people right? like im sorry that people wont accept your bigotry and hatred

Hi princessespeach

I don’t understand where anything I’ve said anywhere would give you the idea that I hold any bigotry or hatred towards the gay community.  I love my same sex attracted brothers and sisters.  We may disagree on what the best way to love our same sex attracted brothers and sisters is, and we can discuss that, but don’t mistake disagreement over how to love as hate.  

If you’re interested, here's a cool video about the issue.  If you decide to watch it, I'd recommend watching it all the way through before making any prejudgments.  

In Christ,


Filed under Princessespeach Homosexuality social Justice Catholic Gay marriage

49 notes &

Anonymous asked: Hey. Sorry to bother you, but i wound up here after seeing your reply to that anon, and was just wondering what you mean by "people with same-sex attractions are harmed by same-sex marriage."? Because I honestly have no clue as to how that makes sense and was wondering if you could explain? Again, many apologies!!!

Hi Anon,

Thank you so much for the question.  I really appreciate that you took the time to write it out, and I’m sorry I didn’t get to it earlier, I’ve had a busy schedule, so thank you for understanding.

What you ask is a difficult question to answer completely in a short concise statement, because it requires that we look at entire fields of philosophy, including ethics, metaphysics, and even some political philosophy.  Since going over the whole history of western philosophy is not going to be useful here, let’s make a deal, I’ll skip some introductory stuff and start in the middle and try to write as brief as possible, (and it will still be way too long) but if you’re confused about or disagree with something, please message me back on what specifically you’re confused on or disagree with, and I’ll try to expand a little more on it.  

With that out of the way, I think it’s important that we start with a basic thing that often gets overlooked:

Sexual orientation =/= sexual identity

What I mean by this is that in our culture, one’s sexual orientation, whether they are attracted to men or women, or both, is often turned into a sexual identity, gay, straight, bi, etc.  This is a mistake.  As BadCatholic put so eloquently in this post, “the unique identity of man is not defined by where he wants to put his penis.”  Thus, I often try to avoid talking about people with same-sex attraction as “gay,” “lesbian,” or “homosexual.”  They are people with same-sex attractions.  Homosexual does not describe a person, it rather describes a sexual act between two people.  The fact that a man prefers men to women does not affect their sexual identity anymore than the fact that I prefer brunettes to blondes. Thus, we are not gay and straight men and women, rather we are just men and women.  Some of us are attracted to men, some of us are attracted to women, but whoever we are attracted to, does not define us.  

Now that we’ve talked a little bit about sexual orientation, let’s talk about sexuality.  Fundamentally, our sexuality is a “force” or “urge” within us that drives us to “productive unity.”  Now, what do I mean by that term? I mean that our sexuality calls us first to “unity” with another person.  Human beings are inherently social, and our sexuality is clear evidence of that.  Fundamentally, we want to become “one” with other human beings.  This becoming “one with” other human beings is very different from the way I become one with a hamburger.  In that kind of union, the hamburger is consumed, ceases to exist, and becomes a part of me.  I take what I want and leave the rest behind. That is a union of domination.  Though it sounds silly to say it this way, I dominate the hamburger.  I don’t see the hamburger as an equal partner in the relationship.  (And because it is a hamburger I shouldn’t)  However, that is not what we are talking about when we talk about a union of human beings.  A union of human beings refers to a relationship in which they act as one, AND YET, retain their unique identities.  It is a relationship between equals, characterized by respect, compassion and self-giving. It really is, love.

In love, or a “productive unity,” we recognize that the union is working “for” something.  We experience it as a push, beckoning us to service.  This can be done in several ways, through charity to others, to perfection of each other, and to procreation.  In this sense, one’s sexuality does not belong to oneself, rather, one’s sexuality belongs to the whole community, in the sense that the fruits of sexuality ought to benefit someone else, not oneself, either through the works of mercy, (feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, teaching the ignorant, etc,) by helping someone live virtuously, or by the creation of new life through the sexual act.  Note that these are all expressions of sexuality, even if we don’t experience it as such.  I certainly don’t love the person begging for food the same way I love my best friend, or the way a husband loves a wife, but each of these relationships with each of these people stems from the same fundamental human desire to love and be loved.

Now, having laid down the groundwork we can start getting around to answering your question, but, there’s something else we have to cover.  Having talked about sexuality and its relationship to our desire to love and be loved, to enter into relationship with others, it ought to be clear that there are moral imperatives related to our sexuality.  This is because it has an “end” something it strives for.  To turn it away from that end would be morally wrong.  Taking this into account, we see that for example, masturbation is wrong.  The reason is because it is taking something, our sexuality, which is meant to be “other-oriented” and turning it onto ourselves.  Thus, the part of ourselves that exists for others, instead of being used for others, is used for ourselves.  It is turned away from its purpose, its “end.”  Similarly, pornography is wrong.  The reason is, because it turns other people, (the people in the pornography) into sexual objects.  Those people are being used, (first by the pornographers to make money, and then by those watching the pornography for pleasure) like objects.  They are not being treated like people.  In doing so, it reduces their humanity.  As the great John Paul II so wisely said, “The problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of a person, but that it shows too little.”  Thus, instead of using our sexuality to serve others, when we use pornography we are using others to serve our sexual desire, and so it is wrong.  It is like the relationship between me and the hamburger.  The person who watches porn takes the parts of the person they like, uses it for their pleasure and ignores the rest.  It is a relationship of domination.  Thus it is wrong because it dominates another human being.  Again our sexuality is really our gift to others, and so it is important to understand it as such.  

Now, we’ve talked about sexual orientation and sexuality, and talked about some offenses against sexuality, I want to talk about vocations.  Vocation is often used by many people to mean a job or a career, and this is one use of a vocation, but there’s another meaning to vocation that I think is more important.  Your vocation refers to how you live out your sexuality, how you are to serve others.  There are many different vocations, including being single, being married, being a priest, being a brother, a monk, a sister, a nun, etc. and there are even subdivisions in these, like, do I want to be a missionary, do I want to live in a cloistered order, do I want to take a vow of silence, how will I devote my time to my friends, family, and community?  Will I work creating wealth to share with my community, or will I provide direct service for those who need it and cannot afford it?  etc.  Now, these aren’t jobs, though fulfilling one’s vocation often requires some kind of career or work as well.  Rather, a vocation is a “canvas” on which we can paint the picture of how we are going to serve people.  A vocation connects “who we are” “what we do” and “why we do it.”

Everyone has a vocation, and though everyone’s is a little bit different, they are all expressions of sexuality.  Because of this, we all need to learn chastity.  Chastity is often seen as an imposition, or something made to limit our freedom, but this is a mistake.  All chastity refers to, is to having a proper understanding and control of one’s sexuality.  In the sense that cultivating chastity gives us control over our sexuality and how we express it, it is very much a positive expression of our freedom, since we choose to live in a well-ordered manner.  Chastity is at its core, making sure that our sexual expression is always in service of other people, and never for ourselves.  However, chastity is expressed differently in different vocations.

In marriage, which is what concerns us currently, (promised I’d get around to it,) chastity is expressed through union and procreation.  Union means that for the many people whose vocation is marriage, they are able to physically “become one” with their spouse.  This stems from the “productive unity” I talked about above, but it’s even deeper.  Essentially, this union is the two people saying “I do” to each other with their bodies.  (Seriously, look up the powerful chemicals at work during sex.  The psychology of sex clearly shows us the powerful bonding it creates between two people.)  Even if that’s not what we intend to happen, even if we are just looking to “feel good,” that is what happens.  In fact, because sex causes us to bond in such a powerful way, it is important that we have sex only within the confines of a committed monogamous union.  In a sense, to have extramarital sex is a bit like lying.  It is saying with one’s body, “I am giving you everything I have, everything I am,” when one’s not actually intending to do that.  Which is one major reason why sex cannot be separated from marriage.

The other reason is procreation.  Procreation refers to the creating and raising of children, and it most certainly is a sexual expression of the parents.  Essentially sex is ordered towards creating new life, sexual intercourse is called the act of sexual reproduction.  Marriage exists between a man and a woman to create a stable family structure to bear and raise children.  Numerous studies show that a committed marriage is the ideal environment in which to raise a child, and in fact, family life is often the best indicator of future success of a child.  We recognize that marriage and the sexual act are both ordered to procreation in this sense.  

Having established that marriage and the sexual act is ordered towards union and procreation, something immediately jumps out at us.  Marriage necessarily exists between a man and a woman.  The reason for this is that it is only between a man and a woman that both the unitive and the procreative functions of marriage can take place.  Only a man can give his full self to a woman and only a woman can give her full self to a man, because one’s full self includes one’s fecundity.  Thus, the sexual expression of marriage, union and procreation can only take place between a man and a woman.  So, two men or two women could not marry each other, not because their love doesn’t count, or that it’s not as valuable as the love between a man and a woman, but because that love, and that relationship is necessarily different, (not better or worse) than what we understand marriage to be.  It is a different vocation.  (Another note, marriage is not just for the couple but also for children, and children deserve a mother and father.  People with same-sex attractions are no better or worse at parenting than people without same-sex attractions, but, it’s not a question of being good at parenting, it’s just that children have a right to a mother and a father.  And a man can be the best father in the world, but no matter how good he is, he cannot be or make up for a mother, in the same way that a mother can be the best mother in the world, but no matter how good she is, she cannot be or make up for a father.  Thus, those who argue for adoption by same-sex couples are wrong, not because people with same-sex attractions can’t be wonderful parents, but because a child deserves both a mother and father.)

Having established that marriage is necessarily between a man and a woman, we can finally get into why same-sex marriage hurts people with same-sex attractions.  (I know it was a hard road, but we’re finally here)  Fundamentally, the reason is, it takes people away from their very real vocations and promises them a fake one.  Now, I’m not calling the relationships between people of the same sex fake.  Those are very real relationships, with very real love.  But, what I am calling fake is the labeling of those relationships as a marriage, because, for the reasons we’ve already talked about it is not marriage.  People with same-sex attractions are called, like everyone else to love by and be loved all people, and to develop deep passionate friendships, and may, like many people without same-sex attractions develop romantic feelings for people, and that’s okay.  But, it’s necessary to understand that marriage, and therefore, sexual intercourse can only exist between a man and a woman.  Thus, same-sex marriage cannot exist for the same reason that a square circle cannot exist.  The people who push for gay marriage who are trying to force people who aren’t attracted to people of the opposite sex, who don’t have calling to marry someone of the opposite sex, to see their relationship as sexual or as a marriage, are putting pressure on, and misunderstanding the beautiful passionate friendship that already exists there in favor of a relationship that can never exist.  This can harm people with same sex attractions, because they will be looking at, and thus acting in, their relationship not as it is, but as something it is not.  When that happens, the relationship loses, maybe not completely, but in some way, the capacity to be a true loving encounter with the other person, and gets caught up in abstractness.  Thus, opposition to same-sex marriage exists, not because we want to deny people with same-sex attractions a relationship, but because we want to preserve the one that is already there, a celibate friendship.  

Having answered that question, the only question that remains is how do we help our brothers and sisters with same-sex attractions?  And this is a question that we as a society have not answered nearly as well as we should have in the past.  Clearly, for the reasons stated above, same-sex marriage isn’t the way to do it, but neither are “gay conversion centers” which try to “make people heterosexual.”  Not because its necessarily impossible for some people to be able to change who they’re attracted to.  For some people it may be possible, for most, it doesn’t seem that way.  But, centers like this don’t seem to be addressing the root issue.

Really, it seems like the most helpful thing would be to help people with same-sex attractions accept those same-sex attractions, and provide them assistance, if they need it, in learning how to live a celibate lifestyle of service.  In this second effort, I think priests would be people who can help.  Priests, who (in the Latin Rite, with some exceptions,) are celibate, can share the knowledge they’ve gained about celibacy through their classes and their life experience with the gay community, and show how meaningful human relationships are not only still possible while one is celibate, but how in many ways, celibacy can lead to still deeper relationships.  Of course, most priests don’t have experience ministering to people with same sex attractions in this capacity, and so, priests will have to listen to people with same-sex attractions and learn about their specific needs and struggles to be accepted.  Through this dialogue, I have high hopes that great progress on this issue will occur.   

I’ve already taken way more of your time than I should have, so I think I’ll end hear for now.  Thank you very much for reading, and I hope everything made sense.  If it didn’t, again, please message me back.  And if you have any other questions, feel free to ask.  

Your friend,


Filed under Catholic Homosexuality Social Justice Gay Marriage Homosexual

95 notes &

The Third Way: Homosexuality and the Catholic Church

I encourage all my friends to watch this short 30 minute film.  It is first of all, a love letter to all of you who experience same-sex attraction.  I just have one request.  If you do choose to watch it, watch the whole thing, from beginning to end. 

Filed under Homosexuality Same-sex marriage Homosexual Social Justice Gay

16 notes &

Anonymous asked: How could I respond to someone who says religion only causes wars?


This is something that gets thrown around a lot, the idea that religion is violent, and therefore bad. There are several points to that.
1. The idea that only religion causes wars or that religion gives people more reason to fight is incorrect. In one of the most complete studies of wars throughout history, less than 10% of wars had religious origins. As for those 10%, there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t have happened without religion. Politics, economics, or other social forces may have caused similar, if not the very same wars.
2. Atheism has not exactly proved to be a “peaceful” force either. If you look at the history of the 20th century. Fascist and communist countries were often driven by a statist atheism and the wars, genocides, and general abuses of human rights of these countries should give pause to anyone who claims that atheism is necessarily peaceful.
3. Finally, it is true that some studies find religious people in some situations, tend to be more violent. But this is to be expected. Theists believe in a universal moral code, meaning that any offense against man becomes an offense against God and the whole moral structure of the universe. One who believes that has reason to become indignant at and fight against injustice. That’s not necessarily saying people are right to be violent in the face of injustice, but simply noting that if one witnesses a “crime that cries out to heaven” one can see how one may be tempted to violence. That spirit of warring against evil and injustice is also a great motivating force behind the great civil rights struggles, and the massive charitable infrastructures of religious foundations.
This is not to say that atheists can’t also be disgusted with the injustice in our world and seek to rectify it, but simply noting that their metaphysical beliefs preclude them from believing in objective morality. This can lead to a moral apathy that can lead either to silence in the face of injustice, or perhaps even causing injustice. I hope this answered your question.

In Christ,


Filed under atheist atheism religion social justice

4 notes &

Hunger Games Math

Get ready, get scared, a philosophy major is about to try to do math. 

Questions to be answered:

How many tesserae must be taken out to feed all of district 12?  How would you distribute the tesserae to minimize the additional risk of being selected of any one individual?  How much would the odds of any one individual rise under this system? 

Assumptions taken:

1.  We will pretend for sake of argument that the Capital either wouldn’t notice or wouldn’t care that District 12 was gaming the system. 

2. We’ll also pretend that the poor of District 12 are able and willing to organize what might be a fairly complex system of signing up for and distributing tesserae, and they are able to trust each other. 

3. Also, tesserae don’t provide all necessities of life.  They only provide grain and oil.  And given the tight controls on the district, it seems unlikely that you could trade grain and oil with other districts for necessary resources.  Thus, there is a maximum utility to tesserae and having surpassed it, it’s unclear why anyone would do additional tesserae.  But for the sake of doing this, we’ll pretend that there is no maximum utility and that an additional tesserae will make you happier than before.  (If you want, you can pretend Katniss and Peeta run a blackmarket by smuggling stuff from other districts in through the victor’s village.)

4.  We will assume that every non-merchant of district 12 will get in on this.  Furthermore, we will assume 1 tessera is enough to feed one person and every person needs a tessera to feed themselves.

Having assumed all that, here’s what we know.

A.  There are approximately 8,000 people in district 12. 

B. According to 10-15% (800-1200 make up the “merchant class” who we assumed will not take out tesserae.  I’ll use the dif. between 10-15% later.)

C. According to the same site approx. 40% of the population are children.  Now, that includes children 0-12 who cannot take tesserae.  I don’t know what the ave. distribution of children in any country are, so let’s assume they’re distributed fairly evenly.  That means that only 1/3 of those children are between 12-18 and can be reaped and take out tesserae. (~13.3% of total pop.)

D. Thus, approx. 1067 children are in the population can be reaped and take out tesserae.  Again, assuming they are evenly distributed we can assume there are approx 153 per “reaping” year.  Since one’s name goes in an additional year, not accounting for tesseraes yet, we can say that there are approx. 4284 names in the reaping pool. (A 12 year old has their name in once.  A 13 year old has their name in twice…) So, we can construct our first “reaping bracket.”

Before Tesserae are accounted for:

Chart 1:

Chance that the selection from district 12 will be…

…any 12 years old: 3.571%/ A particular 12 year old: .023%

…any 13 years old: 7.203%/ A particular 13 year old .047%

…any 14 years old: 10.714% A particular 14 year old .07%

…any 15 years old: 14.286% A particular 15 year old .093%

…any 16 years old: 17.857% A particular 16 year old .117%

…any 17 years old: 21.429% A particular 17 year old .140%

…any 18 years old: 25% A particular 18 year old .163%

E.  Now, we need to figure out the relative divisions between young kids and adults vs. 12-18 y.o. among the poor and the rich to see how many tesseraes we need to account for.  An easy way to do this would be to simply be to say one in 8 would be rich and and 7 in 8 would be poor since that’s the number we came up with in A.  But this fails to account for the fact that poor people, for a variety of reasons tend to have more children.  Thus, we would imagine the kids would be disproportionately poorer compared to the general pop.  Not knowing how to get around this problem statistically, I’m going to cheat a little and use the 10-15% in A as a somewhat reliable guide, and say that 15% of the gen. pop would belong to the merchant class, but only 10% of kids.  Thus, there would be 1200 people in the merchant class, but only ~107 of them are of reaping age, and ~15 would be in per reaping year.

F. Thus, there would be 107 people in the merchant pop. of “reapable age” and 1193 of non reapable age.  There would be 960 people of reapable age in the “poor” pop. and 5,840 people of non reapable age.

So let’s get a new reaping bracket up to figure out what are the chances of a non-merchant v. merchant being selected:

Chart 2:

Chance that the selection from District 12 will be a non-merch./merch…

…12 year old: 3.221%/.35%

…13 year old: 6.442%/.7%

…14 year old: 9.663%/1.05%

…15 year old: 12.884%/1.4%

…16 year old: 16.105%/1.75%

…17 year old: 19.326%/2.1%

…18 year old: 22.547%/2.45%

G. Now, given all that, the number of tesserae we need are 6,800 divided among 960 people who can take out tesserae.  The obvious thing to do seems to divide the 6,800 tesserae evenly among the 960, so that each kid takes out ~7 tesserae.  But, this is not correct because this would lower the chances of the older kids being selected while raising the chances of a younger kid being selected.  Our goal was to try to keep the chances of being reaped as even as possible.  This may not seem clear so think of it this way.  If you have 2 red marbles in a jar and 1 blue one, what are the odds of selecting a red marble, 66.7% right?  And a blue one? 33.3%  Now, add one more red and blue marbles to the jar.  Now what are the odds?  60% and 40% If you want to keep the odds the same, then you’re going to have to add 2 reds for every blue.  By the same principle, for every tessera a 12 year old takes out, a 13 year old takes out 2, a 14 year old takes out 3… an 18 year old takes out 7.  This means in order to keep odds as equal as possible, we need to divide 6,800 by 28 (~243) which tells us how many tesserae non-merchant 12 year olds as a group need to take out. Which means 13 year olds as a group take out 486 and 18 year olds as a group take out 1,701 tesserae.  This means that instead of there being 4,284 names, 3,563 of which belong to non-merch. there will be 11,088 names in there 10,367 of which belong to non-merch.

H. Now, let’s see how that affects the odds.  We’ll only look at the 12 and 18  year old groups for reasons I’ll explain shortly:

Chart 3

Chances that the selection from District 12 will be a nonmerch./merch…

12 year old: 3.436%/.135% (original: 3.221%/.35%)

18 year old: 24.052%/.945% (original: 22.547%/2.45%) 

So, since the increase in odds is minimized for each individual if its even across the board, lets see if the increase was proportional:

3.221/3.436 = .937

22.547/24.052 = .937

I. So, it looks like we met our goal of getting enough tesserae with the minimum possible increase in risk of being selected for the reaping.  But there’s a problem.  We said this would require nonmerch. 12 year olds to take out 243 tesserae, but there are 138 of them, (rounding error.)  243 does not go into 136-8 evenly, and its impossible to take out a percentage of a tessera.  Therefore, we need to come up with fractions that divide evenly (or relatively close, I’ll accept a small rounding error.) 

K. Now, we could spend time hunting for LCDs and whatnot, but if my theory is correct, it doesn’t matter how many tesserae we apply for, so long as they’re distributed evenly.  They should still match (roughly) the numbers in Chart 3  Therefore, instead of worrying about doing math the right way, let’s just have the 12 year olds apply for the next largest number after 243 divisible by 138 which is clearly 276.  Following the same rules as before, this means that we will have 7,728 tesserae, and we only needed 6800.  So this should be enough and it should be divisible by what we need.  So, essentially, each nonmerch. between the ages of 12-18 will take out 2(Their age - 11) tesserae. 

L. This means that there’s a total of 12,012 names in the reaping pool.  The people with the most, 18 year olds, have their name in 21 times.  The people with the least, 12 year olds have their name in 3 times. 

So let’s see how that works.

Chart 4

Chance of a particular nonmerch…

…12 year old being selected = .025%

…13 year old being selected = .05%

…14 year old being selected = .075%

…15 year old being selected = .1%

…16 year old being selected = .125%

…17 year old being selected =.15%

…18 year old being selected =.175%

M. How close were we to the original odds?  Well, the original odds of a particular 12 year old being selected was originally .023% and the original odds of a particular 18 year old were .163%  So, we only increased the 12 year olds chance of being selected from 23 in 100,000 to 25 in 100,000. (or from .92 to 1 in 4,000)  And we only increased the 18 year old’s from 163 in 100,000 to 175 in 100,000 (or from 6.52 to 7 in 4,000) Which I think is pretty damn close.  This means that we can make sure everyone in District 12 is able to eat without raising their odds of being reaped substantially. 

N. Now, are there any drawbacks to this system?  Unfortunately yes and its a structural problem inherent in the system.  The only people who would take out tesserae are the poor, so as we said before, its unlikely that any of the merchants would get in on this system.  What does that mean? That the reason the poor kids odds of being reaped remain relatively low is that they are essentially betting against each other that one of the others are going to be reaped.  What this ends up doing then is disproportionately benefiting the merchants as far as reaping goes.  For example, the likelihood of being reaped if you were a 12 year old merchant before was .023%.  Under this system, it would be .008%.  In other words, while it does not increase any individual nonmerch. kids odds of being chosen significantly, it does significantly increase the odds that the one chosen will be a nonmerch.  That seems a bit unjust.

O. So, what did we learn? That it would require 7,728 tesserae to feed district 12 without significantly increasing the likelihood of any particular individual to be chosen.  You would distribute them in such a way that each person signs up for 2(Their age - 11) tesserae.  The increase in odds for any individual is between .002% and .012%.  But we also learned something else.  It’s possible to survive in an oppressive system by gaming it, but if you want justice, and not mere survival, we need to change it.


Tried to est. the ave. fertility rates for District 12, this is what I got:

Total: 1.33, Approx. the same as Poland

Merchant class: .727, slightly less than Singapore.

Nonmerchant class: 1.469, almost as high as Belarus.

(So, on average, between any random 3 women in District 12, there will be 4 children.  Between any random 3 women in the merchant class, there will be 2.181 children.  Between any random 3 women in the nonmerchant class, there will be 4.407 children.)

Filed under Hunger Games The Hunger Games Social Justice Math

9 notes &

Anonymous asked: I'm a bit confused with your "people are people" post. Do you mean that females should be feminine and males be masculine? Or are you saying that because we can choose, that the post shouldn't exist? Sorry, I'm so confused on what you were saying. If you could explain it not in the poem form haha, that would be great. :)

For those who didn’t see the post referenced, it is this one.

And you’re right, I was a bit vague, partly because its hard to express all my thoughts on such a complicated issue in a short poem. 

To directly answer your question, yes, I believe females should be feminine and males be masculine.  But, to be clear, I don’t mean our constructed norms of femininity and masculinity.  (i.e. woman are dainty and sweet and men are rough and competitive.)  Rather, what I’m saying is that woman and man are two distinct categories and that as a male, I cannot claim to be a woman because I “identify” as one.  Further, I argue that if the feminist orthodoxy does claim that there are no essential distinctions between women and men then it contradicts more fundamental parts of the feminist project.

I give several reasons for this in the poem which I’ll explain more in depth here.  The first one I give is in regards sexual orientation, as in, same-sex attracted, opposite-sex attracted.  My point does not get into whether same-sex or opposite-sex orientations are good or bad etc., only that people with them do exist, which should be uncontroversial.  People may agree or disagree on whether homosexuality is right or wrong, but I think we all agree homosexuals exist.  I argue that if anyone can be “a woman” including males, then what the hell does it mean to be attracted only to women?  Or vice-versa, if anyone can be a man, including females, then what does it mean to be only attracted to men?  In fact, we recognize that if we claim there are no discrete categories between men and women, it’s impossible to claim that there can be individuals who are attracted exclusively (or predominately) to one or both categories.  But in fact, there are individuals who are attracted to one or both categories.  For example, I met (a very attractive) someone of one sex who “presented” as the opposite gender, and so I assumed that they were the sex corresponding to the gender they presented as.  When I realized they were not that sex, and were the opposite, I did not feel the same sexual attraction to them.  One could try to explain this away by compartmentalizing sexual attraction to an attraction to their genitals, but I think this is a very limited view of sexuality.  Therefore, recognizing that single sex oriented orientations exist, we must say that there are discrete differences between the genders. 

The other problem is that without affirming a direct relationship between sex and gender, (i.e. male=man and female=woman) transgenderism becomes nonsensical.  This might sound strange, so let me explain. (Again, I am not in this post seeking to ascertain whether transgenderism is right or wrong or good or bad, but merely noting that it is a phenomenon that exists, even if we don’t understand how it exists, there simply are some people who for some reason or another feel like they belong to the opposite gender than the one they were born with.)  If a male feels like he is a “woman” and not a “man” (or if a woman feels like she is a “man” and not a “woman”) it means they recognize that the categories “man” and “woman” are different, because if they were the same, then it would be impossible to say I am this one and not the other.  But, if you say anyone can be a “man” or “woman” then there are no distinctions between the two.  And if there are no distinctions between the two, then the categories “man” and “woman” are either synonymous or do not actually exist.  Both of which do not line up with human understanding.

Therefore, while I agree with the sentiment of the original post, that we should respect all people, and more to the point, love them, even if we disagree with their thoughts or actions, I think the original post has a self-contradicting (though unfortunately common) gender theory.  Thank you for your question, and I hope this answer helps you. 

In Christ,


Filed under Social Justice Gender Theory People are People Sexuality Gender

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