It all started out, as it so often does, at AlterNet. That's where I found this terrific article about a Baptist pastor musing, "What if we're wrong about homosexuality?" Given the ever-rising mountain of scientific evidence suggesting that being gay is no more a choice than being blond or left-handed. (I am neither of these but I do happen to be gay.)
Anyway, I noticed the article was written by Melissa McEwan, who blogs as Shakespeare's Sister. I've really got to go visit there more; there's some good stuff there. I took a side trip to The Heretik's long enough to become depressed about Pam and Kid's break-up. They say it's a sign of the coming Apocolypse. Phew, glad I'm in good with the Lord! Seriously, I don't follow many B-level personalities but Pamela Anderson's got to be the most tragic woman around. I mean, look at that boob job! I'd be on a permanent bummer following that surgery, too. I hope things start looking up for her soon.
Anyway, A link in the Pam Anderson story led me to the Boston Globeonline. While there, I noticed a headline in the sidebar which read, "The Anti-gay Obsession." Well, of course I had to go check that out. Well, this wonderful op-ed piece "highlights" some of the recent activity among religious types with regard to homosexshality. I'd highly recommend it.
While all this nuttiness was going on here, the South African parliament this week voted 230-41 to legalize same-sex marriage. This vote came after South Africa's highest court ruled that existing marriage laws discriminated against gay and lesbian couples. The post-apartheid South African Constitution passed about a decade ago was noteworthy for being the first in the world to explicitly outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
South African Defense Minister Mosuia Lekota was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, "The roots of this bill lie in many years of struggle. . . . This country cannot afford to be a prison of timeworn prejudices which have no basis in modern society. Let us bequeath to future generations a society which is more democratic and tolerant than the one that was handed down to us."
The tone of affirmation in South Africa had been set years before by the likes of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who lost a son to AIDS, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, who has repeatedly criticized homophobia in the church. "This is crazy," the retired archbishop said eight years ago. "We say the expression of love in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship is more than just the physical but includes touching, embracing, kissing, maybe the genital act. The totality of this makes each of us grow to become giving, increasingly God-like and compassionate.
I want you to pay particular attention to this part. Read it again:
"The roots of this bill lie in many years of struggle. . . . This country cannot afford to be a prison of timeworn prejudices which have no basis in modern society. Let us bequeath to future generations a society which is more democratic and tolerant than the one that was handed down to us."
Are they not the most glorious word combinations you've ever seen? "Timeworn prejudices." "Modern society." Leave our community a better place than when we came into it. Isn't that what's it's all about?
I'm very heartened to hear and read more about the rising social consciousness of many Christian movements, even some evangelicals. (These are not the first stirrings I've heard. When I'm off on Thursday, I'll have to research some more...a recent interview on Radio Times here on Philly's NPR station. Tonight, I've got to get to bed! It's 2 AM now.) This is what it's all about. Leaving the world not only unspoiled but better in some ways than when we were put here. Like packing out your hiking trash, moving or cutting that log in the tail.
This coming from Africa. If there's one place on earth that is still perceived by the "western world" as primitive, dark, dangerous, backwater it's Africa. Asia is garnering her respect via India and China. South America has its bright spots. But Africa is still widely viewed as more 'uncivilized' than we Eurocentric snobs here in the good, ol' US of A. Yet they've gone ahead and done the "right," the "progressive" thing. And we in the US lag far behind even the "darkest continent."
We should hang our collective head in shame.
tags: Christianity / classism / discrimination / gay marriage / glbt / linkage to come at a more reasonable hour...
Well, we celebrated Thanksgiving at my mother's house yesterday. When you have a nurse in the family, you get used to accepting alternative holidays...Christmas on the 26th, Thanksgiving on the fourth Saturday in November. I'd been imagining all manner of horrors, this being the first major holiday we'd be celebrating since Dad died. In some ways, the weekend lived up to those expectations. It was very hard to be at my parents' house. In other ways, the pain of Dad's abscence was almost completely ameliorated by this:
Seven and a half months, came to Jersey with one tooth (lower right) and had a second one (lower left) coming through by the ride back to Pittsburgh. A much more pleasant disposition than his father deserves. From what her mother has said, better disoposed than his mother deserves, too. Sits up, tries to stand and is creeping...just like his dad, who never crawled. Brendan is so efficient and quick in his creep I wonder if he, like his father, might choose never to crawl proper but creep himself along until her learns to walk. He is a truly wonderful baby and I wish I could see him more often. About once a week ought to do.
And I didn't feel the need to run away but spent a few hours after Mike and Jen left helping Mom access and organize her Christmas things and erecting their spiral "trees" on the front lawn. Came home with a sack full of goodies, too. Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, veggies, crab dip, olives. Yum! At least two meals at work this week. I do so love taking leftovers to work.
Something must have suited me about the weekend because, for the first time in months, I actually felt like doing something when I got home instead of simply vegging in front of the computer. I swept the steps and walkway, filled the bird feeders, let Sadie have a little run.
I decided I'd make some Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars. That meant I needed eggs. I searched the web for substitutions for eggs in recipes, none of which I had ready at hand (corn starch? potato starch? egg whites? Why the fuck do you need egg whites to create an egg substitute??? Sort of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?). I made out to go the the Acme to pick up eggs and other needed supplies then decided at the last minute to go to the Wawa across the street instead.
I feel like a kid in a candy store when I start feeling a little better, you know. The smallest, simplest things bring me so much joy. Just feeling like cleaning out the refrigerator and taking the trash out fills me with pleasure. I did both of those when I got home, even wiping the shelves in the fridge. But, though I felt better enough to get out to the store, I couldn't quite make myself face the Acme. So I went to the Wawa and spent $14.00 for milk, potato chips, peanut butter (no name), half a pound of American cheese and a dozen eggs.
I felt as if I was doing something I shouldn't as I walked around the store with my bounty. I felt decadent, like a spendthrift. I am a child of children of the Depression. Money is not to be wasted. Things are not to be thrown away if we might possibly have a use for them, now or in a distant future. My dad's basement offers testimony to that ethic. The difference tonight was this...I didn't care.
It's my money and I can do with it as I choose. It really didn't bother me to be spending $2.99 for a bag of rippled chips just because I want to have french onion dip during the game and I was too lazy, tired and indifferent to brave the Acme.
So, I made my pan of cookie bars, adding peanut butter as per one of the package suggestions. Too bad I found out too late that I didn't have enough butter. Take it from me now that I've sampled one of the bars I'd planned on treating my co-workers with on a Monday...Crisco and oil do not make up for a stick of Land o' Lakes. Oh well. They're tasty enough. It's just the floury texture and Sahara-esque dryness that's the issue. Fortunately for me, I love milk and now have a full gallon plus. I guess I'll be eating dry chocolate chunk cookie bars as my after work snack all week.
Washing clothes now while the Eagles play. So far they look pretty good, making their way down the field. Too bad Indianapolis scored on their first possession so the Birds are playing to a 7 point deficit. And now David Akers, one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL, miss a three-pointer to the left because of a high snap. Damn.
It's a good thing I'm feeling better or an evening alone with the Eagles on tv might be enough to push me into the dark abyss.
Baker's Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars
Oven at 375 degrees Farenheit
1 3/4 cups flour 3/4 tsp. baking soda 1/4 tsp. salt 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened (trust me on this one) 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar 1 egg 1 tsp. vanilla 1 package (12 oz.) Baker's Semisweet Chocolate Chunks
3/4 cup chopped nuts, if desired
Variation: leave out nuts, add 1 cup peanut butter
Mix flour, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl; set aside. Beat butter and sugars in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chunks and nuts (or peanut butter).
Spread dough in a greased, foil-lined 15x10x1 inch baking sheet and bake 18-20 minutes until golden brown. (Makes 3 dozen) Or spread into a 9x13 inch baking pan and bake for 20-22 minutes. (Easily cut into 21 pieces. They're softer this way.) Cool in pan. Cut while chocolate still warm. Enjoy. Great with cold milk.
Update: by the time I got done this post, the Eagles were down 21-0 with 8 minutes to play in the second quarter. On national television yet. I think it's time for a glass of wine.
Friendly and eager. Sexy in white. You are The Nurse.
Like your male counterpart, The Poolboy, you're a fun and goofy, but giving, friend. You believe that life and love should be taken with a grain of salt. We'll bet you smile a lot, which people find contagious.
Your exact opposite: The Battleaxe
If only they knew the reason...the fact is, you spend WAY more time fantasizing than the average girl. While your friends lean desperately towards love, you're chemically biased towards anti-love: sex. You'd never date someone you didn't find immediately kissable.
To maximize satisfaction, you should find someone carefree and sexual, just like you. Avoid Brutal types at all costs. A final bit of advice: experience doesn't matter. You didn't qualify as a Master, and your perfect match need not either. Consider both The Nurse and The Playstation.
Pa. Green Beret who died in Iraq had set aside money for bash.
By Bob Sipchen
Los Angeles Times
LAS VEGAS - Shortly after Jeffrey "Toz" Toczylowski's last mission in Iraq a year ago this month, friends received a message.
"If you are getting this e-mail, it means that I have passed away," the missive said. "No, it's not a sick Toz joke, but a letter I wanted to write in case this happened."
The Army Special Forces captain, 30, who was raised in Montgomery County, Pa., said he would like family and friends to attend his burial at Arlington National Cemetery, "but understand if you can't make it." The message, distributed by a fellow Green Beret after Toczylowski's family had been notified of his death, added: "There will also be a party in Vegas with a 100k to help pay for travel, room and a party."
Last Saturday, Jeffrey's mother, Peggy, hustled about Las Vegas' Palms Hotel and Casino, making final arrangements for a bash that drew family and childhood friends of her son's from suburban Philadelphia, young men and women from his days at Texas A&M, and comrades in arms who had bonded with "Toz" on missions they could not discuss with civilians.
By 7 p.m., the last of 120 or so invited guests were offering hotel bouncers the password and trooping into the Palms' 10,000-square-foot "Hardwood" entertainment suite.
Two young women in skimpy outfits poured liquor from the fully stocked bar. Disc jockeys blasted rock and rap from a loft decked out with a pool table, a wide-screen video-game console, and a circular love seat that rotated out of view.
At 9 p.m., six Green Berets swarmed an unsuspecting colleague on the suite's attached basketball court. A few feet from where one chef carved rare prime rib and a sushi chef sliced hamachi and spicy tuna rolls, the men wrestled their comrade onto an 8-foot stepladder, secured him with a few hundred feet of duct tape, covered him with whipped cream and cherries, spray-painted his hair red, poured whiskey down his throat, and then hoisted the ladder into a vertical position and stuck a microphone to his face.
"The first time this happened we were in Bosnia," detachment Cmdr. Ryan Armstrong, 31, said, spitting booze and dessert toppings. "Jeff was a sniper team leader. I was the assault team leader... . That time they left me taped to a dolly for a couple of hours... . Toz was the one who cut me loose."
A limbo contest erupted, and a full-size cutout of Toczylowski in a red flight suit appeared to hold the pole as a long line of partyers wobbled underneath.
Around midnight, the Toz cutout, wearing a Russian fur cap with goofy earflaps, joined in the dance contest, wriggling between couples to show off moves of dubious propriety. Inspired by this boldness, several former girlfriends danced suggestively with the photo.
At 3 a.m., music still thudded, folks were still hurling basketballs at the hoop, and the Toz cutout hovered over the suite's glass-enclosed Jacuzzi.
Jeffrey's mother had placed photos of the missing host - hoisting a big fish, grinning beside a waterfall, posing with his motorcycle - near the chocolate fountain, around the pasta station, and throughout the opulent bedrooms and baths.
Likewise, though most of the wall-mounted flat-screen TVs showed football games, the main room's largest screen featured home videos that Jeffrey's sister Pam, 34, had assembled.
Early in the evening, the footage was of Toczylowski as a child, frolicking in the snow with his sister, helping his father build a backyard pool, playing football and soccer. As the night wore on, the young man went skydiving across the screen, ran with the bulls in Pamplona, and helped lock a friend in an outhouse.
Peggy, 55, had wanted all the images to be joyful. But well past midnight, someone put in a more current DVD. Tracer bullets streaked across the Iraq sky. Buildings exploded in fireballs. And there was Toz, crammed into a helicopter with Special Forces comrades.
The screen filled with footage of Toz's memorial service at a dusty base in Iraq. Taps sounded.
Off and on, Peggy Toczylowski got teary.
A manager at a design studio, she'd been in her office on Nov. 4 last year when three uniformed soldiers came to tell her that her son had been killed on a combat mission in Anbar province. A few weeks after Jeffrey's Nov. 14 burial at Arlington, a team of Special Forces soldiers arrived at her home and presented an hour-long PowerPoint presentation on the details.
On Nov. 3, a string of Black Hawk helicopters had been roaring across the desert on a nighttime counterinsurgency raid, carrying Special Forces soldiers to hunt high-value targets who had been making improvised explosive devices.
Flying over the desert at night is disorienting. Toz apparently believed the helicopter had touched down. He stepped out. It was more than 100 feet off the ground and thundering ahead at 100 m.p.h.
His mother took comfort in learning that the mission had been a success. Her son's e-mail precluded any resentment.
"I died doing something I believed in," he wrote, "and have no regrets except that I couldn't do more."
Toczylowski, a graduate of Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster, went through the ROTC program at Valley Forge Military College, then turned his Texas A&M criminal-justice degree into an assignment as platoon leader with the military police. He completed the Special Forces training course in 2003.
After a sergeant in his company died of a heart attack, Toczylowski got serious about his own mortality, fellow soldiers said. He earmarked money from his savings and insurance policies to assist friends and help cousins with college tuition and to fund a scholarship at Valley Forge, his mother said.
The party was the challenge for the family. But Peggy and Pam say Jeffrey was wise, and they're convinced he knew that assigning them planning duties would keep their minds off losing a son and brother.
By the time a waiter arrived with a breakfast cart full of juices and pastries, Pam Toczylowski ventured to guess that the party would probably come in just under $100,000, including airfare and rooms for her brother's teammates and a few friends.
She said it was worth it.
"Jeff was the kind of person who lived every day as if it would be his last," Pam said. And he would want them to make his farewell bash "a party that when people leave, they will talk about it forever."
And if that's not a party people will talk about for a lifetime, I don't know what is.
I read in my Philadelphia Inquirer today that the FDA is lifting the ban on the use of silicone breast implants for breast reconstruction and augmentation surgery. Fourteen years after being pulled from the market amid fears of debilitating physical ailments caused by leakage from or rupture of the devices, the purported medical "watchdog" in the US has agreed to give women what they are supposedly "clamoring for."
FDA ends ban on silicone-gel breast implants Two companies' products are safe but not without risk, the agency said in giving its approval.
By Andrew Bridges
WASHINGTON - The government ended a 14-year virtual ban on silicone-gel breast implants yesterday despite lingering questions, making the devices available to tens of thousands of women who have clamored for them.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the implants for women 22 and older, or those undergoing breast-reconstruction surgery, but warned that patients probably would need at least one additional operation, because the implants do not last a lifetime.
The decision clears implants made by two California manufacturers, Inamed Corp. - now part of Allergan Inc. - and Mentor Corp.
"There is reasonable assurance that Allergan and Mentor silicone-gel breast implants are safe and effective, and there is adequate information to enable women to make informed decisions," said Dr. Daniel Schultz, the FDA's medical-device chief.
Mentor called the decision a "historic moment," and Allergan said the decision created new options for women.
Dr. Sidney Wolfe, a longtime opponent, called the implants "the most defective medical device FDA has ever approved."
The twin approvals came with conditions, including that the companies complete 10-year studies on women who have already received the implants, to study leaks, and begin new decade-long studies of the safety of the devices in 40,000 women.
Shultz called the implants "one of the most extensively studied medical devices. We now have a good understanding of what complications can occur and at what rates."
The FDA warned that the implants did not lack risk and that women might not immediately know if their implants break and silicone begins oozing into their breasts. That means women will need regular MRI exams for the rest of their lives to catch those so-called silent ruptures. Patients will have to be given special brochures that explain these risks.
The FDA decision opens the implants to much wider use by women seeking to reconstruct or augment their breasts. Since 1992, the silicone implants had been available only as part of research studies.
Silicone-gel breast implants first went on the market in 1962, before the FDA required proof that all medical devices be safe and effective. Thirty years later, they were banned amid safety concerns.
At the time, there were worries about a possible connection to diseases, including cancer and lupus. Alarming cases of ruptures added to the concern.
Since then, most studies have failed to find a link between silicone implants and disease.
The rupture issue persists: The implants eventually must be removed or replaced, according to the FDA. A 2000 Institute of Medicine report found rupture rates as high as 77 percent.
Women whose silicone implants ruptured have reported years of pain, swelling, and other symptoms that they attribute to the devices.
Some researchers also worry that the platinum used to manufacture the implants can seep into the body and cause harm. The FDA says there is no evidence of that.
Proponents say silicone-gel implants look and feel more natural than do those filled with saline, or salt water. Those implants are sold without restrictions.
Breast implants have grown in popularity for augmentation, despite a history of lawsuits. Last year, 291,000 women had their breasts surgically enlarged in the United States, a 37 percent increase since 2000, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
The popularity of implants for reconstructive surgery shrank over the same five-year period by 29 percent, to 58,000 procedures. Last year, 39,000 women had their implants removed.
Impants didn't make their first appearance until 1962; amazingly, a few, short years following Mattel's introduction of the Barbie doll. Hmmm. So, Barbie was given a totally unrealistic bustline and women learned to desire to emulate that. Ken, on the other hand, was endowed with nothing more than a pubic bone and that's okay. Well, Ken may be far more realistic after all.
Here's my thought...equality for all.
Let's give Ken what he "ought" to have. Then men will clamor for silicone penile implants the way women clamor for breast implants. What do you suppose is the size of the average dildo? Maybe 7 - 7 1/2 inches? And what, pray tell, is the penile size of the average American male? Maybe 5 1/2 inches? Let's give men the opportunity to implant silicone into their bodies for the purpose of making themselves more sexually attractive to women. Women will be happier and men will no longer need to feel self-conscious at urinals. And Ken can finally be sold "fully equipped."
Men will just have to get periodic MRI scans to detect leaks early. Men will have to deal with consequences such as immune system disorders, intense and painful permanent firmness due to slow, undetected leaks (hey...being firm for life...no downside I can see), having to have their weinies squeezed to pop the hard sacs of fibrous tissue that grow around the implant (or not. Again, the downside is?...)
When men are willing to have this shit shoved into their most precious body part to fill out their jeans better, I'll be willing to have my size A-plusses slit open to accomodate a couple of canteloupe halves to create a little cleavage. Until then, you can keep your dangerous implants and I'll keep my little handfuls.
I read this in yesterday's Philly Inquirer and am totally psyched about it. It seems scientists have been able to withdraw amniotic fluid, extract the stem cells and use them to grow heart valves in vitro. The idea is to use a fetus's own cells to create these valves so they are ready (they grow in 4-6 weeks) for use in a newborn with congenital heart valve anomolies.
Here is the whole story:
Scientists grow heart valves from stem cells
The technique, which uses no embryo cells, could lead to ways of repairing hearts.
By Lindsey Tanner Associated Press
CHICAGO - Scientists for the first time have grown human heart valves using stem cells from the fluid that cushions babies in the womb - a revolutionary approach that may be used to repair defective hearts in the future.
The idea is to create these new valves in the lab while the pregnancy progresses and have them ready to implant in a baby with heart defects after birth.
The Swiss experiment follows successes at growing bladders and blood vessels and suggests that people may one day be able to grow their own replacement heart parts - in some cases before they are born. And it is one of several radical tissue engineering advances that could lead to homegrown heart valves for infants and adults that are more durable and effective than artificial or cadaver valves.
"This may open a whole new therapy concept to the treatment of congenital heart defects," said Simon Hoerstrup, a University of Zurich scientist who led the work. It was presented yesterday at an American Heart Association meeting.
Also at the conference, Japanese researchers said they had created new heart valves in rabbits using cells from the animals' own tissue. It was the first time replacement valves had been grown in this manner, said the study's lead author, Kyoko Hayashida.
"Very promising," University of Chicago cardiologist Ziyad Hijazi said.
Heart-valve defects can be detected during pregnancy with ultrasound tests at 20 weeks. At least one-third of afflicted infants have problems that could be treated with replacement valves, Hoerstrup said.
"It could be quite important if it turns out to work," said Robert Bonow, a Northwestern University heart-valve specialist.
Conventional procedures to fix faulty heart valves have drawbacks. Artificial valves are prone to blood clots and patients must take anti-clotting drugs for life. Valves from human cadavers or animals can deteriorate, requiring repeated open-heart surgeries to replace them. That is especially true in children, because these valves do not grow along with the body.
Valves made from the patient's own cells are living tissue and might be able to grow with the patient, said Hayashida, a scientist at the National Cardiovascular Center Research Institute in Osaka.
The Swiss procedure has another advantage: Using cells the fetus sheds in amniotic fluid avoids controversy because it does not involve destroying embryos to get stem cells.
"This is an ethical advantage," Hoerstrup said.
Here is how it worked:
Amniotic fluid was obtained through a needle inserted into the womb during amniocentesis, a common prenatal test.
Fetal stem cells were isolated from the fluid, cultured in a lab dish, then placed on a mold shaped like a small pen and made of biodegradable plastic. It took only four to six weeks to grow each of the 12 valves created in the experiment.
Lab tests showed they appeared to function normally.
The next step is to see if they work in sheep, a two-year test Hoerstrup said is under way.
He and co-researcher Dorthe Schmidt called their method "a promising, low-risk approach enabling the prenatal fabrication of heart valves ready to use at birth."
It makes one wonder what kind of progress could have been made without restrictions on embryonic stem cell research in America in the last six years. Almost makes me want to get back into OB at some very cutting-edge facility.
The goal being to have a massive surge in energy on the day of the Winter Solstice. Okay, you can keep the Wiccans and the Paul Winter Consort and their howling at the moon that night and just let me howl at my bedroom ceiling.
I think all lesbians should join in for one fantastic smack off at 10 PM and see if we can shift the karma of the world with our little deaths.
What a day today! I awoke to rushing sounds to discover the winds were high. It doesnt matter what day the Mexicans (I know they're Mexican...I've asked) come to blow and vacuum and dispose of the leaves. Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday invariably the winds and/or rain will come the following day. They were here yesterday.
I don't mind, though, because I love crunching through things...leaves, crusty snow, bubble wrap. I'd probably blissfully walk through Frosted Flakes given the chance. Some of my favorite moments have been spent in the woods in the fall, hiking boots on and walking stick in hand. I love the scent of the damp or dessicated leaves, the richness of the earth beneath them as she prepares to nap for a few months. I love the cool air in my nostrils. I love the fall.
It was a wild ride today, though. I still have the windows cracked because it's been unseasonably warm here this November. The apartment was full of creaks and howls and whistles and rustles. The curtains flapped. The light fixtures rattled. Even Sadie was spooked by the wind and she's not usually disturbed by the weather.
I drove the car up the hill and parked in the parking lot today. There was a tornado watch until 6PM and gusts up to 80 mph expected so I figured I'd halve my walk. I'd rather be whisked off to Oz in my car than out of it. Sadly, tragedy struck southern North Carolina as a tornado developed and tore through a trailer park. What is it with tornadoes and trailers, anyway? Despite those postulations about the higher mortality rates making for better 11:00 news coverage, I still believe there must be some scientific fact which has not been discovered yet which will prove a definite affinity tornadoes have for people living densely packed in overlarge sardine cans on cinderblocks. Magnetic force? The scoopability of the homes?
It was the first time in a long time I've had to lean into the wind as I walked to the ER. Nothing untoward happened on my abbreviated walk except my grey helmet blew up a little at the edges. I'd plastered the hair with gel then blowdrying then more gel then the ironbound hair spray I have left over from Mike and Jen's wedding and kept my head pointing at fortuitous angles at the wind. The hair mostly didn't budge and was easily repaired. However, I made sure not to head butt anybody today, even joking around since I could have done some damage.
We're back to relatively normal now, though the temperature is still weirdly in the 60's. High should drop to the 50's over the weekend so I should be able to do some traipsing through crunchy leaves then. Sadie is all calmed down now that the winds are a bit calmer and "Mom's" home earlyin preparation for a 12-hour day tomorrow. All's welll with the world.
I hope all my fellow Mid-Atlanticans and Philadelphia-area friends fared equally well and that everybody has electricity. Well, Baltimore can stay in the dark since that's where the Catholic Conference of Bishops declared yesterday that my sexual orientation is "disordered," that I am not to be damned unless I actually engage in "same-sex activity," (Not much liklihood there if they mean with another woman) and that I "possess innate human dignity" from having been "created in the image and likeness of God." So God is a middle-aged, woman-identified dyke? Cool!
I'm relieved because I was worried about this. Still, the Bishops can sleep in the dark with no air conditioning for a night. I would consider it appropriate payback.
My condolences to the people in the mobile home parks in North Carolina. I hope things are righted for you all soon and I'm sorry about your losses.
Glass of red wine (for the health, you know), a little off-lead walk after the wimpy dogs have gone to bed then bedtime for the bitches. I hope you all fared well in the weather today.
Well, the beer didn't work...I chickened out after just one. Either I've been in a continual hot flash since 4PM or my thermostat is acting up again. No, I don't believe it's flushing from the beer. On top of all that, Hoyle Klondike solitaire is kicking my rosy ass.
Think I'll switch to backgammon, take a couple Lunesta and have some ice cream.
By COLLEEN SLEVIN The Associated Press Monday, November 6, 2006; 11:49 AM
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Members of the New Life Church were stunned and brought to tears by the Rev. Ted Haggard's confessions of "sexual immorality," then accepted his plea for forgiveness with open arms.
Haggard, who had been a leading evangelist and vocal opponent of gay marriage, apologized Sunday in a letter read from the pulpit of the 14,000-member church he founded.
Some in the standing-room-only crowd wiped away tears and embraced each other as they heard Haggard's words read by a member of the board that fired him a day earlier.
"The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem," Haggard wrote. "I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life."
After services, Patty Erwin kneeled near the back of the 8,000-seat auditorium and said a prayer for Haggard.
"We all love him because he's a part of our family. You don't just throw away a sister or a brother," said Erwin, who's been coming to the church for 15 years. "Desperately, we love him, and we wouldn't be here if we didn't."
Haggard, 50, resigned last week as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents 30 million evangelical Christians, after a man claimed to have had drug-fueled trysts with him.
He also placed himself on administrative leave from New Life, which he founded in the 1980s. Its independent Overseer Board fired him Saturday.
In his letter, Haggard said "the accusations that have been leveled against me are not all true, but enough of them are true that I have been appropriately and lovingly removed from the ministry."
He did not specify which accusations were true. Haggard had acknowledged Friday that he paid Mike Jones of Denver for a massage and for methamphetamine, but said he did not have sex with him and did not take the drug.
The letter was read to the church by the Rev. Larry Stockstill, senior pastor of Bethany World Prayer Center in Baker, La., and a member of the board that fired him. Haggard asked for forgiveness for himself and for his accuser.
In a separate letter, Haggard's wife drew laughter when she promised to remain with her husband and said church members no longer had to worry about her marriage being so perfect she couldn't relate to them.
Neither Haggard nor his wife, Gayle, attended.
Youngsters were sent from the room before elders began discussing the church crisis.
"Worshippers are always challenged by crisis. And when tragedy and crisis strikes it is at that moment that you truly decide if you are a worshipper of the most high God. And today as the worship pastor of this church I am very proud of you," said the Rev. Ross Parsley, who has replaced Haggard.
Ryan Price and his fiancee, Karen Geyer, were impressed. "It seemed genuine _ from the heart. It's unfortunate but it happens," said Geyer.
"He's reaching out and asking for forgiveness," said Price.
Jones, who said he is gay, said he came forward because he was upset when he discovered who Haggard was and that New Life opposed same-sex marriage _ a key issue in Colorado, with a pair of issues on Tuesday's ballot.
"I wish him well. I wish his family well," Jones said Sunday. "My intent was never to destroy his family. My intent was to expose a hypocrite."
The scandal has disappointed Christian conservatives, whom President Bush and other Republicans are courting heavily in the run-up to Tuesday's election.
Many were already disheartened with the president and the Republican-controlled Congress over their failure to deliver big gains on social issues even before the congressional page scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley.
Haggard, who had been NAE president since 2003, has participated in conference calls with White House staffers and lobbied Congress last year on Supreme Court nominees.
Youngsters were sent from the room before elders began discussing the church crisis...
news of Pastor Haggard's exploits has made headlines nationwide. The teenagers, at least, have got to know and understand the implications of Haggard's actions. The action he took on Sunday was to have a letter of apology he'd written read to his congregation. Rev. Haffner is right to wonder which sins Rev. Haggard feels must be forgiven. What, precisely, was his "sexual immorality?" Is it repressing his innate sexuality? Was it marrying a woman when he really wanted a relationship with a man? Was it denying to himself all his life what he really is? Was it lying...to himself, his family and his congregation? I think we understand his meaning when he writes, "There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life." What else could be as repugnant to an evangelical Christian as homosexual urges?
Imagine you live with parents who rant and rave regularly about those horrid gays and lesbians. Imagine that you're taught that gay men are pedophiles, sexual predators. Imagine you've never received any real sexuality education except to abstain from sex until marriage...always with the understanding that, for you, there would be marriage. Imagine you attend rallies to promote legislation barring gay marriage or any other form of legally sanctioned gay relationship. Imagine that "fag" or "lezbo" or "homo" is the most awful ephitet a schoolmate could hurl at you. Imagine your parents and your pastor and your friends tell you that all gays are doomed to an eternity in a fiery hell.
Now imagine you're gay.
It's not the being gay which is the sin. The sin lies in the failure to accept other people regardless of their color, age, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or lack of same. The repugnance is to be found in the closed minds of those who poison their children with images of boogeymen which don't exist, who teach their children that they should revile themselves. That is the sin. Therein lies the shame.
I drove over to Jersey today to visit my mom. I fixed her computer again...the second time I've had to replace the wireless card...and watched the Eagles' football game with her. The "Birds" won, routing the Redskins 27 to 3. I have to wonder if Washington would do better if they changed their name. It's either bad karma for continuing to usurp and make caricatures of Native American icons and ideas or RFK Stadium was built on some sacred burial ground. Some Great Spirit somewhere seems to be perpetually pissed at the Redskins.
It was a good day to spend with Mom. It was rainy and gloomy so even what little I've ever felt as the bosom of mother's love was some comfort. To her credit, she tries. She just has no idea the damage done in my formative years and beyond and is clueless as to how to bridge the gap. I'm still trying to figure out if I want to or if I just feel obligated to reach out out of guilt. Ahhh, therapy.
It was raining cats and dogs on the ride home, making for a white-knuckle drive up I-95, thankfully only a few miles from the bridge. I'm safely ensconced in my living room, Smithwick's at hand. Sadie is snoozing now after sulking mightily because I would not share my meat-on-a-stick with her. When she can pay her way, she can have all the Chinese she wants.
My mom happened to mention that tomorrow is the anniversary of my sister's death. I heard her but was in the process of trying to fix the computer so I didn't immediately reply and, when I thought of it again, I chose not to go there. I don't know if I avoided it for me, for her or out of spite. For so many years I wanted to talk about the impact Lisa's death had on us and for years the subject was taboo.
I decided to gas up in Jersey because gas is always about $.20 a gallon cheaper there than in PA. Since it was pouring, I decided not to make the trip into the little "downtown" I grew up in but headed north to Glassboro, which would shorten my route home after my fill-up. It wasn't until I made the turn onto Route 322 that I realized my route would take me directly past the spot where my sister was hit by that car. It was a weird feeling to drive by there, 22 years minus 5 hours from the time a 20 year-old swerved 6-10 feet to the right and struck my sister from behind then sped off, leaving the scene, leaving my sister lying there with her blood clotting in her throat.
I don't think I still know fully how I feel about all this. I'm obviously still angry...angry at Kamela, angry at the fact that she knew she'd struck my sister and chose to drive home, angry that there was no death by auto charge or reckless driving charge, angry that there was never an apology, barely an acknowledgment. Sometimes I ponder how different my life would have been if Lisa had never been hit. I think I would trust much more. I think I would let people in more and have more friends. I should have more friends.
I should have been an aunt.
I should still have my sister.
But life is funny that way and we take what's given to us most of the time because, most of the time, we have no choice. What would I give up to have my 41 year-old sister, married, with kids, hopefully happy, living a few towns away or in the next state? I don't know. I feel selfish to even consider that because there's not much that I'd care to let go. Then again, if Lisa were still here, I have the feeling there would be a whole lot more in my life today.
So, I think I'll hoist another beer and drown my sorrows in my father's poison of choice. Here's to life, whatever it give us and whatever we make of it.
Here's to my sister, who had so short a shot at this world.
Here's to my dad, who I will miss terribly this holiday season.
And here's to my grandson, who has his mother's and father's (and my father's, my sister's) brown eyes.
The fall is beautiful around here this year. I don't recall ever seeing colors so varied and brilliant. Opening my apartment door is like lifting the lid on a pirate's treasure chest, gold sparkling above and glistening below. I traveled to Jersey the other day for a haircut and drove through tunnels of orange so rich it was like driving through an old Hallowe'en Jack o' Lantern.
Sun and beaches and temperate climes be damned, you can keep your desert out there. I know where the real "Golden" states are and they're mine.
I listened to This American Life this evening. If you've never tuned in, give it a try. Each week, they choose a theme and present several stories related to that theme. Sometimes it's funny. Sometimes it's thought-provoking. It's always interesting. The host is Ira Glass. This is where I first heard David Sedaris, the hilarious openly-gay contributor and storyteller.
Tonight's program was poignant.
The theme this evening was What's in a Number?
The This American Life website is one of those annoying ones that won't let me copy a specific URL to get you where I'd like to direct you so I'll tell you how to find this episode if you'd like to listen to it. Scroll down in the left sidebar and type "episode 320" in the search box. That will get you to a synopsis of the program as well as a free podcast. You can also download the episode for $0.95, if you're so inclined.
The first part of tonight's trio reported on the Johns Hopkins University study presented in October 2004 that estimated the number of civilian deaths in Iraq since the start of the war. This study and a second one completed last month were published in the British medical journal The Lancet. If you register (for free) with The Lancet you'll be able to read summaries or abstracts of the studies they've published. The original study, published in October of 2004, estimated that 100,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed in the country since the invasion began a year and a half prior. It also found that most of those deaths were not at the hands of insurgents of from disease but at the hands of coalition forces. This is the summary of the Lancet article. The full text is available for purchase.
Part two of this evening's broadcast highlighted Captain Ryan Gist, a young American soldier who was charged with befriending and developing relationships with townspeople in an area where civilians had been killed by American bombs. Here is a photo of Capt. Gist. I believe the program said he's now out of the service and working for Human Rights Watch. He now asks the US military why they are not counting the number of civilian dead in the war since the Johns Hopkins study showed it is possible. He has not yet gotten a satisfactory answer.
The final segment of tonight's show offered commentary on the results of another estimate of civilian dead published last month, again in the journal, The Lancet. That study has now put the estimate of civilian casualties at 650,000. 650,000 over 41 months. That averages out to almost 16,000 per month. Of course, now more are dying at the hands of insurgents raather than US troops.
650,000 civilians have died in 3 and 1/2 years.
There has got to be a better way to get this job done.
When partial birth abortion first came to national prominence, in the mid-1990's, I was still working in a high-risk antepartum setting in a hospital. We performed terminations at my hospital and I participated in them. Our terminations were always for genetic reasons, usually because the fetus was found to have a condition which was not compatible with life. The terminations I assisted in were all prostaglandin induction abortions where prostaglandin suppositories were inserted behind the cervix dilate it and induce termination or laminaria inductions, in which "seaweed sticks" are inserted into the cervcal opening where they would swell and mechanically open the cervix, followed by induction of labor with pitocin. These procedures were performed at my hospital when the pregnancy has progressed to the point of 20 to 26 weeks and vacuum aspiration was no longer an abortion option.
(On a side note, I have spent the last hour plus searching the web for information about induction of abortion using prostaglandin suppositories in lay language. It's nearly impossible to find information that someone who is not a medical professional would understand, even on sites like Medline and WebMD, that is not anti-choice propaganda.)
Since earlier abortions are usually possible in an outpatient setting, I have no clinical experience with those procedures. I understood partial birth abortion to be a procedure of the second trimester and, since this was the population I was dealing with in the hospital, I wondered why I had never heard of such a thing. I asked our head of Perinatology about the procedure and this is how he explained it to me. Intact dilatation and extraction involves inserting an instrument into the fetal skull to evacuate the contents in order to reduce the sizeof the head, allowing for the vaginal birth of a pre-viable fetus which would have otherwise required surgical (i.e. C-section) removal. I don't know if this physician had ever performed an intact dilatation and extraction but he told me it would only be used in those instances where a fetus had such severe hydrocephalus or macrocephaly that it would not survive and the mother would be harmed by continuing the pregnancy or potentially harmed as a consequence of major abdominal surgery.
If you think about it, if a fetus is of a gestational age of 20 weeks (halfway through a term pregnancy) and the fetal head is already too large to pass through the birth canal as is, this is a fetus with severe troubles. These are often fetuses with anencephaly (lacking brain material entirely) with a skull full of fluid instead or microcephaly (very small amount of brain matter) and hydrocephalus (fluid inside the skull). These are not usually children who are destined to survive in the world outside the mother's womb.
I can't attest to what is done in outpatient abortion settings but, in 17 years in Gyn and OB in this facility, I had never heard of an intact dilatation and extraction being performed. These are very rare procedures. It's not as if perinatologists and OB/Gyns are out there rubbing their hands together at the prospect of being able to suck out some fetal brains. The procedure is, typically, reserved for only those circumstances when no other option short of surgery is available without causing maternal morbidity.
This is the big, bad Boogeyman of the "right to life" movement.
So, as you listen to or read about the proceedings at the Supreme Court in this case, bear that in mind. It's the "straw" abortion procedure being used to cast the poorest light on those who feel abortion should be a safe and available option for women in our country faced with unwanted pregnancies.
Here are some great resources on this issue and Supreme Court consideration if it courtesy of the fabulous SCOTUSbLog.
Who really believed two months ago that things would end up this way on November 8th?
The House of Representaticves has gone handily to the Democrats. The Senate hangs on the almost certain recount in Virginia. As for the Virginia race, may I refer you back to my post of one week ago...
As much as I want to see that racist anti-semite in Virginia defeated, I would still consider a 50-50 split in the Senate a victory for the side of decency in America. The Senate has always been a much more deliberative body than the House. There are a number of conscientious moderate Republicans who are not exactly salivating at the prospect of continuing to "stay the course" on the faulty policies of the Bush administration. Even with Tricky Dickie II as the deciding vote in a 50-50 Senate, it will be a much more interesting place than it has been for the past several years.
Joe Sestak, the congressional candidate I've volunteered for this season (my first time participating so directly in the political process) won easily, defeating a ten-term incumbent. Surprisingly, the Pennsylvania 8th district is still tied 50% each as of this writing. Frankly, if I lived in Bucks County, I might very well have voted for Mike Fitzpatrick over Patrick Murphy. I just learned that Lois Murphy, the Democratic candidate in the county I lived in a few years back, was narrowly defeated by the Republican incumbent (though she has not conceded yet). That's a darn shame. This was Murphy's second tight race against Jim Gerlach and second defeat. But then, Berks County is rife with old-timey white sheeters, being considered by some to be the birthplace of the KKK in the central-eastern part of the state.
The greatest victory is that Rick Santorum will not be returning to DC to represent me in January, not that he ever represented me at all and not that Bob Casey is a tremendously better choice. Both candidates are "pro-life," running counter to my core belief in a woman's right to control what happens inside her own body. But Santorum is frighteningly fundamentalist...claiming gay sex is a step away from bestiality and that women should not work outside the home. It's scary to think of how our nation might have evolved had Santorum's presidential aspirations come to fruition. Hopefully, he will return to the private sector and squelch any desires for the White House in the future.
All in all a very good day to be a Democrat in PA!
I've been out canvassing for my local congressional candidate recently. It's been a very positive experience; something I've never done before; so I haven't had much time online lately. Even when I've been online, I haven't felt much like talking or even reading much. My apologies to anyone who reads me here if I haven't made it to your place in a while. I imagine it's another slump and hope it will pass soon. I sure have missed go go bimbo and You Are Here and Persephone's Box and Amber Rhea and Bitch | Lab (even if her feminist stuff is WAY too out of my league!) and too many others to mention and link. But there's a few...go check them out...AFTER you've voted, ofcourse!
I got in tonight around 12:30 AM after hanging doorknob hanger reminders to vote for my candidate, Rendell for Gov and Casey for Senate (who wouldn't be my ideal choice but look at his opponent) and decided to check out Tennessee Guerilla Women. Things aren't looking so good for the decent candidate, Harold Ford, Jr. there. I empathize with the anxiety all moderate or progressive or liberal voters and activists must be feeling down in the Volunteer state. You have my sympathies. I'm glad I stopped by because I came across this video which plays into something that's been on my mind recently. Egalia at TGW got this from Ann at Feministing.
I heard a news item on NPR recently about the South Dakota abortion ban. They mentioned tht it might get voted down for not allowing for exceptions for rape or incest. State legislators would then have to decide if they wanted to float the bill with those exemptions. What struck me so much, and I am late in developing my feminist sensibilities so this has probably been said before by many others, is that those two instances which might make acceptable exceptions for the "pro-birthers" are two in which the woman is not at all complicit in the act which results in the pregnancy. In other words, women don't choose to have sex in those circumstances.
So it's all about punishing women who opt to have sex. Never mind if the condom breaks or the other contraceptive fails. If you are a woman and you choose to be sexually active with a man and a pregnancy results, you've just got to swallow your bitter syrup and deal with it.
It truly is not about babies. It's about keeping American women from having the freedom to choose if they want to have sex and with whom and under what circumstances. Choose to have sex, pay the price.
It's all about controlling women, period, and it makes me sick!
The Rev. Ted Haggard, the Colorado minister who resigned Thursday as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, admitted yesterday that he bought methamphetamine and received a massage from a male prostitute.
But Haggard told reporters outside his home in Colorado Springs that the massage was arranged by a Denver hotel and was not sexual. He also said he threw the drugs away. "I never kept it very long, because it's -- it was wrong. I was tempted. I bought it, but I never used it," he said.
And Bill Clinton smoked pot but never inhaled.
Oh, and he did not have "sexual relations" with that woman.
Democracy in America Today: US Senate Incumbent George Allen (R-VA)
This is an example of how democracy works in some parts of America in 2006. I'm sure we all remember stories about carefully selected audiences for Bush's stumps in the presidential race in 2000 and 2004. Has Allen learned from Bush or did our president learn from this apparent racist?
You'll note the protester is not being charged. I sure hope he does press charges against Allen's crew.
George Allen...the man who calls an American-born citizen of Asian descent "Macaca." The man who is so ashamed of his Jewish heritage that he blows up at someone who questions him about it.
Funny, but my great-grandmother's maiden name was Rennebaum. I have forebears that had names like Hannah and Rebekkah. We used an awful lot of Yiddish idioms in my household when I was a child. And I've never once felt that having a heritage that was probably, in part, Jewish in any way "diminished" me.
all things ~ amorous beautiful clean decadent erotic feminine gratifying hedonistic indulgent
joyful kissable loving (not to mention, lesbian : ) marvelous nasty orgasmic playful (also petulant pleasing
and pleasurable) queer ribald sensory (also sensual sensuous sex-positive sexual sexy..."S" is a good letter)
titillating untidy vixenish wet x-rated yummy and zoologic, though limited to the species homo