Friday, December 28, 2007

NFP good for women, couples, and environment.

There is a relatively decent article on NFP over at Lower Hudson Online.For its personal story, it revolves around a couple that uses the Creighton Model to track their fertility.

Here is an excerpt of the better parts of the article:

Some couples, such as the Antenuccis, had trouble getting pregnant. They wanted to learn the physical signs of a woman's fertile times of the month so they could target their efforts. Others, including David and Colleen Toder of New Paltz, sought an eco-friendly way to avoid pregnancy without the side effects associated with birth-control pills.

Both couples agree with the Pappalardos of Stony Point, who teach Natural Family Planning in Rockland County, that the methods promote healthier marriages because of the physical and emotional intimacy required to master the techniques.

"Theresa is our gift from NFP," Tracey Pappalardo, 43, said as her husband, Andrew, cuddled the sleepy toddler, their youngest of four children. "We decided to have her because NFP made us closer to each other, and more open to new life."

The Archdiocese of New York endorses the Creighton or the Sympto-Thermal methods, which use cervical mucus and temperature readings to determine when a woman is most likely to conceive so she can avoid or have sex on those seven to 10 days each month, depending on the desired outcome.

In contrast to the infamous calendar-based "rhythm method," which wrongly assumed all women had the same cycle, these recommended techniques boast contraceptive rates between the 99.6 percent reported in the American Journal of Reproductive Medicine and the 75 percent estimated by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

And, remember, NFP isn't just for Catholics, either:

David Toder, who grew up in a Reform Jewish family in Scarsdale, also argues that the Catholic connotations are secondary to the benefits of practicing environmentally friendly parenting that strengthens a couple's emotional bond.

"Contraception puts a barrier between the couple," he said. "With NFP, you have to work together and trust each other. And, there's a cyclical relationship - a dating and a honeymoon - and that adds to the spice of life and the appreciation you have, and your relationship is well-rounded."

That's good stuff. But we can't have a complete article without the usual dose of doom, gloom, condescension, and skeptical lecturing from the Left:

The American Fertility Association doesn't oppose Natural Family Planning, but Pamela Madsen, executive director, expressed concern that women most drawn to these methods might also be the least likely to use them effectively to avoid pregnancy.

"Many women who are engaged with Natural Family Planning tend to be more conservative and may not be as comfortable in getting to know their bodies in the way that is recommended," she said, adding that she also fears that women trying to get pregnant could waste time on these techniques when they really need medical help.

Since when does conservatism entail being afraid of one's body? Madsen is not basing her opinion on facts. She is working from the popular stereotype of conservative women as being squeamish about anything having to do with their bodies, especially their reproductive health. This is a fallacy.

If anything, it is the use of artificial birth control that suggests fear of one's body, because it allows one to suppress or block natural functions that one does not understand or wish to face. Women who are afraid of their bodies (and men who are afraid of women's bodies and can't even handle the idea of mucous) do not use NFP. Instead, they usually give up before they've even tried it , and go back to artificial methods. If Ms. Madsen spent even five minutes talking to couples at an NFP class, (and five more talking to other couples about why NFP scares them) she would see that her own fears are largely unfounded.

Her other concern, that women would use NFP as a substitute for necessary medical advice is also highly pessimistic, and gives little credit to women or NFP itself. Daily tracking of one's fertility signs allows a person to be more in touch with her body than ever. Speaking from my reading and from personal experience, I can say that it can actually improve doctor-patient communication by allowing women to know when they really do need to go to the doctor. If one is using NFP to get pregnant, for example, and it is still not working, one knows that it is time to see a fertility specialist to discuss any medical problems that could interfere with conception. Not only that, but NFP allows women to be more in touch with their cycles. This allows them to spot some abnormalities that they may not have noticed otherwise, and discuss these with their doctors. In short, NFP makes women more aware, not less, of when they "really need medical help"--and can help doctors to make that medical help more effective.

Madsen's head is so buried in her prejudices (or whatever else) that she is unwilling to give modern conservative women credit for their brains, or science credit for its discoveries.

But at least her comments, despite being strategically placed for maximum dramatic effect, sound properly negative next to comments like this from couples who are throughly familiar with the pros and cons of NFP (I don't hear any fear of the body, do you?):

"With your body, with NFP, you're a gift to your spouse," he said. "It's so important for a husband and wife to be gifts to each other. And children become the fruit of that covenant."


Hat Tip: Dawn Eden.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

More Chesterton on Christmas

"There is no more dangerous or disgusting habit than that of celebrating Christmas before it comes, as I am doing in this article. It is the very essence of a festival that it breaks upon one brilliantly and abruptly, that at one moment the great day is not and the next moment the great day is. ..."

Read the rest here:

Via Tito.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

In the round of our rational and mournful year one festival remains out of all those ancient gaieties that once covered the whole earth. Christmas remains to remind us of those ages, whether Pagan or Christian, when the many acted poetry instead of the few writing it. In all the winter in our woods there is no tree in glow but the holly.

--G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Three little words: Natural Family Planning

Someone dropped by searching for "How to get pregnant". Assuming this person is interested in fertility information, and already knows how the basic process works, I recommend that he/she have a look at the Natural Family Planning links in my sidebar. (Scrolling may be necessary.) I duplicate the list here for your convenience:

Basicallly, what NFP allows people to do is track the woman's cycle, looking for signs of fertility, and then act accordingly. These signs usually include basal body temperature and/or cervical mucous. It requires that both spouses be aware and respectful of the woman's fertility.

Any one of the available methods for tracking female fertility can allow couples to maximize (or minimize if they wish to space their children) the potential of their efforts to conceive.

While NFP is often touted as a Catholic thing, there are many non-Catholics who choose to use it. In addition to the many religious and moral reasons for using NFP, there are other practical concerns. Some use it because they find it is beneficial for their marriages. Others choose it because of medical concerns or even for the sake of the environment (you'd be surprised at where those hormones go). Couples who are interested in natural and organic living may find NFP particularly appealing, because it does not involve the ingestion of any synthetic hormones, or the use of man-made barrier methods.

On a side note, I personally find it to be a handy tool for me as I monitor my reproductive and general health. It has been interesting to see the not-immediately-obvious effects that stress, illness, weight, and diet can have on my body. (Stress, for instance, sends my basal body temp on a wild roller-coaster ride.) Closely observing and charting my cycle has allowed me to spot early signs that something may be negatively affecting my health, and this has allowed me to take care of problems before they get out of hand.

Potential droolfest for fans of Peter Jackson

Today's "Spit Happens" moment is brought to us by Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema, via Jeff Miller:

Jackson and New Line have apparently just reached an agreement for Jackson to make "The Hobbit".

See, I warned you. I'll wait while you run for a bib.


Having enjoyed "The Lord of the Rings" very much, I would have to say that I am looking forward to seeing the results. I do have to admit, however, that my enjoyment was somewhat marred by the more drastic liberties good ol' "P.J." took with plot and character in "The Two Towers" and "Return of the King". I thought the story lost a little of its original depth. Still, the films were revolutionary in their special effects, unless I'm mistaken, and I absolutely loved the visual depiction of Middle Earth. While the changes took some of the meaning out, Jackson still made considerable effort to remain true to the thematic material--much more effort than most filmmakers, in my opinion. To be fair, it should also be said that it would be nearly impossible to capture the fullness of Tolkien's work in any movie.

I have to echo Jeff Miller's hope that Sir Ian McKellen will be willing to participate in this again. I also hope that there will be some continuity between Ian Holm's version of Bilbo, and whatever new performances may be in the new movie.

At the very least, this is a good opportunity for New Line to redeem itself after The Golden Compass.

At the most, this could be one butt-kicking movie. :)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Belated Post: The rising cost of higher education...

I saved this post for publication a few days before I was admitted to the hospital for appendicitis. That was about three months ago now. I never got around to making my final edits and hitting the "Publish" button. Whoops. :) It's all done now:


The rising cost of higher education apparently includes stupid behavior.

To women seeking higher education:

College is meant for education. While it's a bit silly (o.k. VERY silly) to go just to find a husband, at least it isn't completely illogical and counterproductive. College education can and often does come in handy when one is a wife and mother.

However, there is no point in going if all you are going to do while you are there is turn yourself into a mindless sex object for some guy(s). There is no use improving your brain if you don't plan to use it.

Speaking of brains, for those of you who think you have to be "doing it" along with all of the other college lemmings, here's something to put in your bong and smoke while you still have parts of your brain left:

It is possible to live without sex. It is impossible to get pregnant if you aren't having any. Think about that before you start whining to your university about how much your birth control costs. What's next? Asking the university to provide beer and pot money?

Rats, I'm probably giving someone ideas.

Your college budget would be better spent on a class in accounting or economics.

*End rant.*

Hat tip: Catholic Mom.

Related: Reasons to stay away from birth control Pills, Brain Chemistry and bonding During Sex

Wisdom from Across the Pond

In a refreshing display of real tolerance, non-Christian religious leaders in the UK defend the right of Christians to celebrate Christmas as freely and openly as they themselves would wish to celebrate their own holidays.

"It's time to stop being daft about Christmas. It's fine to celebrate and it's fine for Christ to be star of the show," said Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

It's nice to see people with enough common sense to realize that a society that is willing to tell Christians to celebrate in the closet will probably be willing to harass people of other faiths as soon as it becomes fashionable or politically correct to do so. It is in everyone's best interest to defend religious freedom, even for people who do not share one's own beliefs.

Maybe Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) (FL), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and anyone who will still vote for them after recent events, should listen.

Hat Tips: Modern Commentaries, Pertinacious Papist

Monday, December 10, 2007

When a bad film is a good thing.

I overheard a conversation among some younger (as in, old enough to go to movies semi-unsupervised, but not to drive themselves there) persons today who, after seeing it over the weekend, decisively proclaimed the new Golden Compass movie to be "soooo BORING!".

No apparent interest in the books for them, it would seem. I have yet to see interest in a book sparked by a boring movie.

Rumor has it that the movie isn't doing too well in the box office, according to USA Today and Reuters. Between the outrage in the Christian community, and reviews like this, how could it be otherwise?

I think I can leave the told-you-so's to my fellow bloggers.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Light a candle for them:

So when we stop using electricity in order to preserve the planet, I guess working (or praying) by candlelight instead is out now:

'Green Hanukkia' campaign sparks ire'

I wonder what they'd say about the Day of the Candles celebrations in Colombia.

Via: Catholic Pillow Fight, Modern Commentaries

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Why I won't see certain movies.

When I was taking a Chicano Studies class in college, our instructor frequently brought in guest speakers. One week he invited Josefina Lopez, the playwright who penned Real Women Have Curves.

I was repulsed by her talk. She spent most of her time crassly expounding the merits of artificial birth control ( proudly showing off her norplant), promiscuous sex, and vibrators. To say the least, her talk had little academic and no moral merit and was, in my opinion, a complete waste of every student's time. So repugnant did I find her talk, that when Real Women Have Curves came out on film in 2002, I refused to see it, knowing that I would be contributing to Lopez's career through the royalties she would get.

It's not that I have a problem with the overall concept behind Real Women Have Curves. I believe women should be able to feel beautiful even if they don't look like supermodels.

But we don't need promiscuity, norplant, or vibrators to help us do that.

And I won't contribute to the paycheck of a person who makes it her life's work to tell people the lie that we do need those things, however sincerely she may believe it.

Similarly, when a certain other film written by a certain anti-catholic (and generally anti-religious) person was released into the theaters, I resolved that I would never contribute a single red cent to the profits that would be made through it. Let's just say I have objections to supporting the career of a man who has publicly stated that he wishes to use his writing talents to lead unsuspecting children away from faith in God.

Here is a sampling of his statements (Emphasis mine):

I'm a great fan of J.K. Rowling, but the people - mainly from America's Bible Belt - who complain that Harry Potter promotes Satanism or witchcraft obviously haven't got enough in their lives. Meanwhile, I've been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God."

(Source: Meacham, Steve. "The Shed Where God Died". Sydney Morning Herald. 13 December 2003.)

"I'm trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief..."

(Source: Wartofsky, Alona. The Last Word. Washington Post 19 February 2001)

Given the above, my objections remain, even if Harry Forbes and John Mulderig say that the film, taken by itself, may be O.K.

Even if that is true (and I haven't seen the film, so I can't confirm or refute that), two inconvenient problems remain.

The first is that if people of faith pay money to see this movie, they will be enriching a man who is willfully seeking to undermine the faith in which they are trying to raise their children.

The second problem is this: if Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Lord of the Rings are any indication, a well-made fantasy movie will generate interest in the book on which it is based, which means that the film cannot be taken by itself by forward-thinking parents and teachers.

And that, as Forrest Gump would say, is all I have to say about that.

*Related: Reasons to avoid Birth Control Pills and other forms of artificial hormonal contraception.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Your Daily Chuckle:

"DesperateIrish Housewife" Susan Vigilante posts on art inspired by your own DNA---very expensive art.

Paul Cat at Alive and Young posts a humorous video: "Automated Confession". Irreverent without being sacrilegious, this video is a great illustration of why the privacy of the confessional--and the presence of a real priest--is such a blessing in our automated drive-thru world. Who says we can't have a sense of humor about our Catholic faith?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Let the shopping begin!

Dave Barry's Holiday Gift Guide is out for those of you looking for something to entertain yourselves while you stay away from malls.

Thanks to Christina Dunigan for linking to this first.

Brain Chemistry and Bonding

The hormone Ocytocin appears to be part of the hard-wiring in the female brain that helps women bond emotionally to their sex partners (as well as their friends and children). While both men and women produce this hormone, it is most powerful when combined with the female hormone estrogen, according to some of the articles I link to below.

Even MSNBC posts an interview with an expert who states:

One of the reasons [women don’t understand how men can differentiate so easily between love and sex] is that during sex, women produce lots of oxytocin, a hormone that stimulates a strong emotional connection. As a result, women are more emotionally integrated when it comes to sex. That’s why casual sex and hookups often backfire for lots of women. ...

There is also some suggestion that the bonding effect is more powerful over time spent with a single partner.

Good news for us married women. Bad news for the "hookup culture" as Miriam Grossman notes in an article Dawn Eden cited today:

[UCLA] psychiatrist [Grossman] lamented the "mental health crisis on our campuses." Prozac, she said, is the number one prescribed medication. And Grossman said the rise in prescription anti-depressant use among young women is linked to the rise in the number of women who come to the health center because of sexual relationships.

"We have a problem. We should be alarmed, but we should not be surprised," she said. Young people are influenced by a popular culture that is constantly bombarding them with blatant lies about sex, she said. Grossman said television shows, including Sex and the City and Friends, give a false notion that sex can be divorced from emotions.

It gives the message that sex is "recreational without consequences and that condoms provide good enough protection," she said. Teenagers arrive on college campuses with those ideas and are rudely awakened when they learn that they have been deceived.

"High risk behaviors are being promoted," said Grossman. Because of that, she said, "the number of sexually transmitted diseases has exploded."

The facts are evident, she said, but health care professionals are not responsibly educating young people. Hard science alone proves that bonding hormones are released in a woman’s body during sexual activity. "It cannot be disputed," she said. Grossman said science has shown the release of the hormone oxytocin in a woman’s system during such activity makes her more susceptible to distress, anxiety and depression with a "hooking-up" situation.

Related Articles:
Ocytocin - The Cuddle Hormone (Note: Very secular site.)
Femme Mentale (San Francisco Gate--really!)
Neurobiology of Human Sexuality by Tania Romero, Bryn Mawr College

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Doctors have a "license to lie"?

Doctors who can't be honest with their patients have no business practicing medicine. Period.

How could he possibly assert that informed patients make it less necessary for Doctors to lie? Or does he mean that the media outlets he names are doing the lying for them by passing along skewed information?

For more on Alberto Hodari's history as an abortionist, see this story about a 15-year-old statutory rape victim who died after he performed a third trimester abortion on her. Here is a list, complete with citations of public records, of what happened to some of his other patients. Also, see Christina Dunigan's many posts over at the Real Choice blog. This man is not someone who should be held up as a professional standard of any kind, even by Medical Students for 'Choice'.

Nods: Dawn Eden, Christina Dunigan

Friday, November 16, 2007

Why I avoid malls after Thanksgiving:

Everything that makes this little bit of satire funny, and yet painfully true keeps me far away from major shopping centers as much as possible during the madness of certain parts of the holiday season.

Thanks to Paul Cat over at Alive and Young for his constant reminders that we should always be ready to laugh at ourselves.

Monthly Blessings...

Just when they come out with birth control pills that can completely suppress our periods, we discover that menstrual blood may be a highly accessible source of useful adult stem cells.

Read the story here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Study links birth control pill to arterial plaque

As if increased risk of blood clots isn't enough by itself.

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - A European study released on Tuesday has raised new concerns about the safety of women's long-term use of the birth control pill, suggesting increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

Women who had used oral contraceptives were more likely than those who did not take the pill to have a buildup of plaque in their arteries, the researchers told an American Heart Association meeting.

"The main concern is if you have higher plaque levels that you might develop a clot on one of these plaques and have a stroke or a myocardial infarction (heart attack) or sudden cardiac death," Dr. Ernst Rietzschel of Ghent University in Belgium, who led the research, told reporters.

"That's the main risk with having plaque, with having atherosclerosis."

Rietzschel's team studied 1,301 women ages 35 to 55.

Of them, 81 percent had used the pill, for an average of 13 years. The researchers saw a rise of 20 to 30 percent in arterial plaque in two big arteries -- the carotid in the neck and the femoral in the leg -- for each decade of use.

The researchers measured plaque levels using a technique called vascular echography.

In atherosclerosis, there is a hardening and narrowing of the arteries caused by the slow buildup of plaque, made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other material, on the inside of artery walls.

See for the full story.

I wonder if anyone is planning to study women in their twenties who have been using the pill for 12-13 years (As in, since junior high), especially now that some are pushing to make the Pill more accessible to girls as young as 11.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

If cats and dogs get it...

...why don't we?

(Video not working? Try watching it on YouTube)

Whoever said you can't love someone you didn't give birth to? :)

Via Crazy Kitties

Friday, November 9, 2007

You do the math...

Remember back in sixth grade when you learned about negative and postitive numbers?


These people didn't:

A LOTTERY scratchcard has been withdrawn from sale by Camelot - because players couldn't understand it.

The Cool Cash game - launched on Monday - was taken out of shops yesterday after some players failed to grasp whether or not they had won.

To qualify for a prize, users had to scratch away a window to reveal a temperature lower than the figure displayed on each card. As the game had a winter theme, the temperature was usually below freezing.

But the concept of comparing negative numbers proved too difficult for some Camelot received dozens of complaints on the first day from players who could not understand how, for example, -5 is higher than -6.

Tina Farrell, from Levenshulme, called Camelot after failing to win with several cards.

The 23-year-old, who said she had left school without a maths GCSE, said: "On one of my cards it said I had to find temperatures lower than -8. The numbers I uncovered were -6 and -7 so I thought I had won, and so did the woman in the shop. But when she scanned the card the machine said I hadn't.

"I phoned Camelot and they fobbed me off with some story that -6 is higher - not lower - than -8 but I'm not having it.

My favorite bit is that she doesn't believe them when they explain the math to her.

Even English majors should know better than that.

Full article at the Manchester Evening News (UK).

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The verbal irony of "progressive" thinking, part 2

(Click here for Part 1)

Many in my generation, and the current one now breathlessly awaiting its own entry into the "real world" were left to start from scratch as they discover the world for themselves. Some were left there by those who told them they did not need to listen to authority, and never heard anyone say otherwise. Many others listened to that message and clung to it for their own convenience. These found themselves stranded by their own refusal to listen to wisdom when it was offered.

In both cases, they are now moving in any random direction, often anywhere but forward.

It is forward one must go in order to be "progressive" by definition, as Chesterton explains.

"Progress, properly understood, has, indeed, a most dignified and legitimate meaning. But as used in opposition to precise moral ideals, it is ludicrous. So far from it being the truth that the ideal of progress is to be set against that of ethical or religious finality, the reverse is the truth. Nobody has any business to use the word "progress" unless he has a definite creed and a cast-iron code of morals. Nobody can be progressive without being doctrinal; I might almost say that nobody can be progressive without being infallible--at any rate, without believing in some infallibility."

Here is where many modern progressives run into a snag. Their fear of all authority, whether it be their own in their homes and classrooms, or someone else's in the workplace or the government, makes them balk at the notion that anybody else can advise them, much less authoritatively direct them, in any matter--especially in matters of faith.

No journey is going to lead anyplace if one refuses to decide where to start.

Fortunately, not all who wander stay lost. Some eventually find common sense (or have it knocked into them as St. Paul did). Some even find Chesterton. Ultimately, they begin to find Truth.

And that is when they find God.

Related posts by Alan at Ad Altare Dei:
Independent "free" thought can never be progressive.
Is Dogma so Constraining?
Dogma is a Progressive Good!

Monday, November 5, 2007

The verbal irony of "progressive" thinking, part 1

How many times have we said to our parents that they should leave us alone and let us learn from our own mistakes?

Not an easy thing for a parent to do, especially one who has had enough life experience to know that there simply isn't time to make and learn from all of the available mistakes on one's own.

Part of learning to think for oneself is learning that the perspectives, experiences and advice of others are worth considering, especially when it is offered with our own well being in mind. If we can learn from the errors and successes of those who have come before us, this frees us up to do things right the first time.

G.K. Chesterton wrote the following on this issue in 1909:

The modern man says, "Let us leave all these arbitrary standards and embrace liberty." This is, logically rendered, "Let us not decide what is good, but let it be considered good not to decide it." He says, "Away with your old moral formulae; I am for progress."This, logically stated, means, "Let us not settle what is good; but let us settle whether we are getting more of it." He says, "Neither in religion nor morality, my friend, lie the hopes of the race, but in education." This, clearly expressed, means, "We cannot decide what is good, but let us give it to our children.

The case of the general talk of "progress" is, indeed, an extreme one. ... We meet every ideal of religion, patriotism, beauty, or brute pleasure with the alternative ideal of progress--that is to say, we meet every proposal of getting something that we know about, with an alternative proposal of getting a great deal more of nobody
knows what."

Decades after Chesterton published the above words, Baby Boomers were teaching my generation to "question everything". This made things very difficult for those parents who actually tried to provide answers to many of those questions--it made it a lot easier for us children not to listen.

By the time we reached our legal adutlhood, the 'question everything" mentality left most of us in two categories: those who questioned everything with the intent (and eventually the result) of settling on answers, and those who found themselves in a state of aimless wandering--with lots of questions, little curiosity (or at least little of the necessary patience for satisfying it)and no answers to use as a foothold for their lives.

Within the Church, those in the former category often confound their elders by becoming interested in things that used to be part of the "establishment"--traditional liturgy, for one; traditional Catholic morality for another. The tables have turned. "Question Everything" is now the establishment--the standard set out by a slowly (and reluctantly) aging preceding generation. We hear it from parents, teachers, and even the occasional authority figure within our parishes.

Those in the latter, wandering category are...well... all over the place. Many no longer even in the Church, often carrying the spiritual baggage of those who came just before us.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Alan blogs Chesterton on neo-paganism

Toward the end of last March, Alan posted some excerpts from Chesterton that I believe everybody should read.

Click here to do so. Outer Space!

No, it's not a new movie. But last week, it could have been the title of the Democrat debates.

Kucinich thinks he might have seen something from there (and looks like he'd be an expert on such, as Jay Leno pointed out.)

Hilary "Because I'm a Woman" Clinton must think that's where the rest of us are from, if she thinks her inconsistent answers make her look presidential. Even her rivals, who have been reluctant to question her too much up until this point are beginning to pick up on this, as the John Edwards ad below demonstrates:

The whine and cheese pity party she's throwing for herself now is not going to improve her public image, either. Trying to appeal to feminist voters and then calling in your husband to protect you against those mean little men (who happen to be treating her like they would any other high-profile candidate) at the debate does not make one look like a strong woman who can hold her own in a boys club. C'mon, Mrs. Clinton. Ditch the whiny little girl act and fight like a real woman!

Barack Obama was probably the only person to escape the debates with even a shred of his dignity intact. His remarks after the debate should make poor Hilary Clinton ashamed of herself. I'm not voting for him, but at least he didn't participate in the UFO discussion.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Taking refuge in common sense.

Today, I found this little passage from Chesterton highly relevant:

It is commonly the loose and latitudinarian Christians who pay quite indefensible compliments to Christianity. They talk as if there had never been any piety or pity until Christianity came, a point on which any mediaeval would have been eager to correct them. ... Christianity was the answer to a riddle, not the last truism uttered after a long talk. Only the other day I saw in an excellent weekly paper of Puritan tone this remark, that Christianity when stripped of its armour of dogma (as who should speak of a man stripped of his armour of bones), turned out to be nothing but the Quaker doctrine of the Inner Light. Now, if I were to say that Christianity came into the world specially to destroy the doctrine of the Inner Light, that would be an exaggeration. But it would be very much nearer to the truth.

... That Jones shall worship the god within him turns out ultimately to mean that Jones shall worship Jones. Let Jones worship the sun or moon, anything rather than the Inner Light; let Jones worship cats or crocodiles, if he can find any in his street, but not the god within. Christianity came into the world firstly in order to assert with violence that a man had not only to look inwards, but to look outwards, to behold with astonishment and enthusiasm a divine company and a divine captain. The only fun of being a Christian was that a man was not left alone with the Inner Light, but definitely recognized an outer light, fair as the sun, clear as the moon, terrible as an army with banners.

All the same, it will be as well if Jones does not worship the sun and moon. If he does, there is a tendency for him to imitate them; to say, that because the sun burns insects alive, he may burn insects alive. He thinks that because the sun gives people sun-stroke, he may give his neighbour measles. He thinks that because the moon is said to drive men mad, he may drive his wife mad. ... Nature worship is natural enough while the society is young, or, in other words, Pantheism is all right as long as it is the worship of Pan. But Nature has another side which experience and sin are not slow in finding out, and it is no flippancy to say of the god Pan that he soon showed the cloven hoof. The only objection to Natural Religionis that somehow it always becomes unnatural. A man loves Nature in the morning for her innocence and amiability, and at nightfall, if he is loving her still, it is for her darkness and her cruelty. He washes at dawn in clear water as did the Wise Man of the Stoics, yet, somehow at the dark end of the day, he is bathing in hot bull's blood, as did Julian the Apostate. The mere pursuit of health always leads to something unhealthy. Physical nature must not be made the direct object of obedience; it must be enjoyed, not worshipped. Stars and mountains must not be taken seriously. If they are, we end where the pagan nature worship ended. Because the earth is kind,we can imitate all her cruelties. Because sexuality is sane, we can all go mad about sexuality. Mere optimism had reached its insane and appropriate termination. The theory that everything was good had become an orgy of everything that was bad.

--G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pun intended:

My inner nerd is doing her happy dance!

I think even Mr. Keillor would approve.

Via Catholic Mom

More fun with Chesterton:

"I have always imagined myself to be a lover of all animals, because I have never met any animal that I definitely disliked. Most people draw the line somewhere. Lord Roberts disliked cats; the best woman I know objects to spiders; a Theosophist I know protects, but detests, mice; and many leading humanitarians have an objection to human beings."

--G.K. Chesterton, Dogs

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Apostle of Common Sense or cultural Prophet?

In "On Evil Euphemisms" G.K. Chesterton wrote quite eloquently about the sexual revolution--and the euphemisms that came with it--before it actually happened:

For this sort of revolt strikes me as nothing except revolting; and certainly not particularly realistic. With the passions which are natural to youth we all sympathize; with the pain that often arises from loyalty and duty we all sympathize still more; but nobody need sympathize with publicity experts picking pleasant expressions for unpleasant things; and I for one prefer the coarse language of our fathers.

I bet if he had been around in the late 1960's he would have said " I told you so."

Though he would have certainly said it in a much more interesting manner.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


It's not often that we have a natural disaster of such magnitude that the media need not exaggerate the story. Here is a picture from NASA that shows the satellite's-eye-view of the smoke and flame:

My husband and I have friends in areas threatened by the fires, as well as many of my family members, and former students and colleagues and their families.

Many people in L.A. and SanDiego counties have already lost their homes, and it is expected that many more homes will be lost before this is over. In places not threatened by fire, poor air quality due to massive amounts of ash and smoke is a serious problem. All San Diego county school districts, as well as Catholic schools operated by the Diocese of San Diego were closed today, as were several college campuses, including UC San Diego and USD.

Let us remember all of the people whose lives have been affected by these fires in our prayers.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What is a "schoolmarm", anyway?

Somebody found my blog while searching for the etymology of that word.

I could be a typical teacher and tell my reader to go look it up in the dictionary. :)

But I guess, since I'm in a good mood right now, I'll tell you anyway.

Here is one definition I found on etymologies, such as are available:

From the American Heritage Dictionary (AHD)
school·marm (skōōl'märm') n. --A woman teacher, especially one who is regarded as strict or old-fashioned.

Schoolmarm is a a compound of the word school and the dialectal marm (variant of ma'am).

According to the AHD, the etymology of school is as follows:
[Middle English scole, from Old English scōl, from Latin schola, scola, from Greek skholē; see segh- in Indo-European roots.]

Ma'am is itself a dialectal variant of madam, which, according to the AHD is derived from the Middle English word madame, which itself is derived from the Old French ma dame (which, if I'm not mistaken translates as "my lady")

There you go. The etymology of a schoolmarm.

For the origins of this schoolmarm, read this post.

I get really annoyed...

... when information is misused.

Especially when that information is misused to promote a political agenda that is both disgusting and immoral.

To see what I mean, read the update to my post on a certain sex scandal at a certain middle school last march. Apparently, someone has used my opinions as an excuse to defend immoral, predatory--and might I add generally illegal--- behavior.

I'm very vexed.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Wholegrain goodness.

I had a look at Wheat & Weeds today, after another blog I read linked to a post over there.

And my inner Catholic, pro-life feminist (not an oxymoron, I assure you) did a little happy dance when I started browsing through posts labled "It's Only Women", which examine ways in which the present culture of death betrays the women it claims to empower. She makes many of the same points I have made here, only in a more articulate manner. Check them out for yourself, and see what I mean.

At least read these two posts:
"Thank Heavens for littler girls and free clinic access"--on the recent decision to give Maine middleschoolers birth control pills.
"Death is better than babies"---As long as it's only women who die so men won't have to deal with any...shrinkage. Read the post on some little mentioned anti-feminist history behind the development of the female birth control pill.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Kids' Maine source for birth control pills.

It's official! The Portland, Maine middle school I posted about earlier approved the plan to provide birth control (including "the pill" and condoms" to 6-8th grade students, with or without parental knowledge or consent.

I posted on this story yesterday. Click here to read my post, and my opinion of just how irresponsible this decision is.

Modern Commentaries also has a post on this today, examining ways in which this erodes parents' ability to responsibly raise their children.

Even Bill O'Reilly covered this on his show this evening.

Click here to read about the hazards of birth control pill use.

Update: Read what Catholic Mom posts on this issue from her perspective as a medical doctor and a mom. You don't need an M.D. to see that she makes good sense, though. Parents, you do not have to take this lying down! Really!
Update 2: The Guttmacher Institute, the research tentacle of Planned Parenthood, inadvertently demonstrates that easier access to birth control does not reduce unplanned pregnancies or abortion rates, contrary to what many who support policies like that just adopted at the Maine middle school would have us believe. Via Jeff Miller.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Congratulations... Archbishop (now, soon to be Cardinal) DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston Houston.

Read more at:
Houston Chronicle
Ad Altare Dei

Portland area middle school to provide "the pill"?

Parents living in Maine may want to keep their eyes on this story at the Portland Press Herald. King Middle School is considering providing birth control pills and other contraceptives to students in grades 6-8.

My favorite line from the article is the following:

Of 134 students who visited King's health center during the 2006-07 school year, five students, or 4 percent, reported having sexual intercourse, said Amanda Rowe, lead nurse in Portland's school health centers.

"This is a service that is totally needed," Rowe said. "It's about very few kids, but they are kids who don't have the same opportunities and access as other students."

What "opportunities and access" is she talking about? Opportunities to decide not have sex, like the other 96% of their classmates? If they don't have a choice in that, they don't need pills. They need the police.

This blogger has posted extensively on the serious health risks associated with use of birth control pills. There are no words for how irresponsible it is to provide them to young girls who have barely even started puberty.

Portland, Maine: These are your tax dollars at work.

Nod: Tito

Monday, October 15, 2007

"I don't want to go on the cart!"

"Back off! I'm Not Dead Yet"--an article on living wills and advance directives at the Washington Post by Charlotte F. Allen (If my link does not work, try the one at Real Choice) Her article begins with her short battle with breast cancer, and her experiences with the paperwork that comes with risky (yet often life-saving) medical treatments.

Having recently been seriously ill enough to be in the hospital--and asked questions about advanced directives--and having had two of my relatives diagnosed with cancer in the past 6 months, and the oldest living member of my family now receiving hospice care, this article really hit home for me.

Here's a small excerpt:

...I found something weasely in the way all those options were presented, as though my only real choice were between being dispatched into the hereafter at the first sign of loss of consciousness or being stuck with as many tubes as needles in a voodoo doll and imprisoned inside a ventilator until global warming melts the ice caps and the hospital washes out to sea. I found the box on the form that said "I decline a living will" and checked it. Right now, my husband is my living will, and after we spent 13 days observing Terri Schiavo exercise her "right to die" by being slowly dehydrated to death after her feeding tube was removed in 2005, he knows exactly how I feel about such matters.


it seems that people talk a good game about living wills, especially when they're healthy, but when their health begins to fail, they often have very different ideas about what they would be willing to undergo to stave off death for a little while. Furthermore, according to a 1990s study by the National Institutes of Health, even when patients have living wills, if those wills contain directives with which doctors and hospitals disagree (such as, I myself suspect, prolonging the patient's life instead of terminating it), many doctors simply ignore the patient's desires. Living wills, it would seem, are effective only if they happen to comport with doctors' and bioethicists' own theories about what is best for the patient anyway. For this reason, the authors of the Hastings study propose that instead of filling out a living will, people execute a durable power of attorney, a simple document that entrusts decisions about end-of-life care to a relative or friend who shares the signer's moral beliefs about death and dying. That sounds about right to me.

None of us should be tossed on the cart before it's time.

Hat tip: Christina Dunigan

Legal help for women harmed by Abortion.

Information about several possible resources, including the beginnings of a new one can be found in this post at the After Abortion blog.

  • Abortion Malpractice litigation services for lawyers
  • American Catholic Lawyers Association
  • American Center for Law and Justice
  • Life Legal Defense Foundation
  • National Institute of Family & Life Advocates
  • Rutherford Institute
  • Thomas More Law Center

  • For emotional and spiritual healing after abortion, here is a list of resources.

    If you are facing a difficult pregnancy, abortion is not the only option. Click here for more information and links to pregnancy centers and shelters where you can get help. Also, check the list in the sidebar. You may have to scroll a bit.

    Friday, October 12, 2007

    Cleaning up the Culture of car at a time!

    I missed out on this event this year, but I wanted to draw attention to it, because I like it!

    Wash for Life is nationwide pro-life fundraiser. Young people wash cars to raise money for their local crisis pregnancy centers. The next one will be September 13, 2008.

    Occasionally I'll see kids doing car wash fundraisers for sports teams and cheerleading squads--the kinds of extra-curricular activities that define the American high school experience, but which have little long-term impact on the world. These kids are doing something that has much more significance.

    Contrary to popular belief, not all teenagers are up to no good. It's kids like these that remind me what potential there is in the young people I work with, and why my job as a high school teacher is worth doing.

    Here is the website for this event:

    Click here to find out where this year's car wash opportunities were located.

    Shame on them...

    Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts apparently supports Planned Parenthood. It is playing host to a conference for The Massachusetts Alliance for Teen Pregnancy which features organizations such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts.

    Among those who have spoken out forcefully has been Bishop Robert J. McManus of the Diocese of Worcester, who said in a lengthy statement, “It is my fervent wish that the administration of the College of the Holy Cross will unequivocally disassociate itself from the upcoming conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy so that the college can continue to be recognized as a Catholic institution committed to promoting the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.”

    Bishop McManus identified three key reasons the event should be cancelled: Holy Cross living its identity as a Catholic university; the Church’s teachings on life issues; and Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts’ position in opposition to Church positions on life.

    Unfortunately, Holy Cross President Father Michael C. McFarland, S.J. responded to the Bishop’s thoughtful statement by declaring his continued support for the event.

    The full story is at Phatcatholic Apologetics.

    This is nothing short of scandalous. Keep the college administration, especially Father McFarland in your prayers. They ought to know better.

    Related: The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College

    Update: The Cardinal Newman Society is putting on a counter-event highlighting Catholic teaching as an answer to the problem of Teen Pregnancy. Click over to Dawn Eden's blog to read more.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2007

    Another study that re-states the obvious

    Big news, ladies and gentlemen!

    Drumroll please...

    Parent involvement is the most important factor in student academic success!

    It's even more important than where you send your child.

    They could have just paid me the money they spent on this research. I could have told them the same thing.

    Hat tip: Catholic Mom

    Interesting: NSAID's and infertility?

    I can't take NSAID's (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) myself. These include medicines like aleve an asprin.

    But I heard recently that they can sometimes interfere with ovulation.

    Here is a link to a list of abstracts of studies that relate to this connection.

    Tuesday, October 9, 2007

    Just one of the family

    Here's a kitty whose manners have elevated her to new status in her family:

    See the video on YouTube.

    Mandatory organ donation?

    BBC news reports that the British house of Lords has been contemplating its participation in the European Union's organ donor pool. Specifically, whether it should be an opt-in program, where donors must explicitly state their desire to participate, or an opt-out program, where citizens are considered donors by default, unless they specifically opt out.

    According to an article ath the BBC news website:
    The UK is currently considering switching from an opt-in to an opt-out system, in the hope of meeting a chronic organ shortage.

    The article also states:
    The Church of England has declared organ donation to be a Christian duty, in keeping with giving oneself and one's possessions freely.

    Body parts should not be mistaken for the person themselves, and the best way to treat them reverently is to use them to heal others, the Church said.

    The Anglican Church officials would not state a preference for an opt-in or opt-out program.

    Though it encourages organ donation, the Catholic Church does not elevate organ donation to the level of being one's required duty. Paragraph 2296 of The Catechism of the Catholic Church says the following about organ donation:

    Organ transplants are in conformity with the moral law if the physical and psychological dangers and risks to the donor are proportionate to the good that is sought for the recipient. Organ donation after death is a noble and meritorious act and is to be encouraged as an expression of generous solidarity. It is not morally acceptable if the donor or his proxy has not given explicit consent. Moreover, it is not morally admissible directly to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons.

    A mandatory donor program, where the default position is for every citizen to be a donor, unless s/he opts out creates a problem in the area of explicit consent. If a person is unaware of this program, or for any reason unable to submit the necessary paperwork to "opt-out," his or her organs may be removed without explicit consent. I suspect that those in favor of such a program know that this may be the case, as they expect it to solve the organ shortage problem. Clearly, they know that people who would not explicitly volunteer will become donors by default under an opt-out policy.

    Add to this that the legal definition of death (at least here in the US) allows for the harvesting or organs from braindead persoons whose hearts are still beating. (See this blog post by an anesthesiology resident involved in such a procedure--be warned that it is somewhat disturbing) Sometimes, according to this, anesthesia is not included. The BBC article makes no mention of any provisions to be made to protect the braindead or the terminally ill from exploitative organ harvesting.

    While generosity with one's organs is to be encouraged, it should not be mandated by the state.

    Related Links:
    Searchable online Catechism

    Hat tip: Christina Dunigan

    Monday, October 8, 2007

    Gossip Girl: "harsh realities" or low expectations?

    Susan Vigilante over at Desperate Irish Housewife has an article in the current National Review about "Gossip Girl", yet another distorted television series about high school age kids. Click here to read the entire article, which is in Vigilante's usual conversational-satirical style.

    Noticing excessive underage drinking in a famous New York hotel bar (among other moral issues) in the series, she called the director of communications at the New York Palace. Here are some parts of her summary of their conversation (with my favorites of his comments in bold)

    I spoke to Peter Holmberg, director of communications at the hotel, and asked him what he thought about the New York Palace bar’s new identity as the easiest place in New York for teenager to score a martini.

    At first, Holmberg seemed even more surprised by my call than I was that he took it. No one else, he said, had asked this question. But he was willing to discuss it.

    First of all, he said, it’s important to remember that Gossip Girl is a fantasy. The hotel you see on the show “isn’t really our hotel. Our hotel is called the New York Palace; the one in the series is called the Palace. Our hotel is playing a character in the series. It isn’t really us. Did you see the show? That reception desk wasn’t even ours. It was a fake.”

    “But that really was your bar,” I said. “And that really was your courtyard.” Besides, I went on to tell him, “The Palace” might be a slightly different name, but there’s no way anyone who had ever seen the place would confuse it with some other hotel. The place has been a landmark for a hundred years. There is simply no mistaking it for anything else.

    “We are the New York Palace Hotel,” he repeated. “The ‘Palace” in the series isn’t really us.”

    I said that was like saying “The cathedral” across the street wasn’t’ really St. Pat’s.


    “Look,” Holmberg went on, “I read the script.” If it hadn’t included things like drinking and pot-smoking, he said, “it would not have rung true to me. This series illuminates some of the harsh realities of teenage life. It’s a quality program that touches on controversial issues.” But, he added, “If I felt it was endorsing [these behaviors] I would never have allowed it to film here.”

    'Scuse me? Since when does a "fantasy", as he calls it, have to be true to life? And why does it have to teenagers trying to get into bars to score an illegal martini or five to "ring true"? What does that say about what he expects of teens?

    Oh yes, and did we mention that Mr. Holmberg tires to placate Mrs Vigilante my mentioning that he himself is the uncle of teenagers?

    Holmberg told me he has two teenage nieces. Thanks to Gossip Girl, he said, he has had some very “fruitful, in-depth” discussions with them about things like underage drinking

    Oh, that makes me feel sooo much better.

    Look, people. Teenagers already know that our expectations of them are pathetically low. But, believe it or not, there are plenty of them who manage to get through high school (and sometimes even college) without getting drunk, high, or pregnant, and who will probably never be cruel enough to put anybody in dire need of therapy.

    Is there a lot of that going on? Absolutely. But even if destructive behavior is "normal" do we have to reinforce it? What's wrong with raising our kids to be a little better than that? If we're going to talk about "fantasy," what's wrong with the occasional TV protagonist who can rise above these "harsh realities"? That doesn't have to be a fantasy, you know. Most kids are capable of doing that, if given proper motivation. The trouble is, many adults don't believe this is true.

    The other trouble is, many parents are afraid of rasiing kids that are different. Teenagers may get pressure to conform from their peers, but their fear of being different is reinforced by parents who lack the courage to teach their kids to be proud of what makes them distinct. Some parents are so afraid that they actually buy the kegs for their teenagers' weekend parties! They help their kids engage in destructive behaviors, assuming that if they get drunk and have promiscuous sex at home, they'll be safer because they are in a "safe place" being "supervised".

    Note to concerned parents: If you want your child to survive junior high and high school, you cannot participate in mindless conformity yourself. You cannot make your first concern your child's social popularity. You must start teaching them not to follow the lemming hordes from an early age. Like, say, as soon as they start school. It really can be done.

    And, by the way, if we really want teens to avoid underage drinking and similarly destructive behaviors, why are we going to such lengths to cultivate the "everybody 's doing it" myth with our popular entertainment?

    So a big high five from this educator to Susan Vigilante, for her attempt to infuse some common sense into a world that needs it.

    Update: I wasn't kidding about parents providing alcohol for their minor kids' parties. This was a prominent enough problem at the high school I attended, that a local judge was actually invited to a parent meeting to explain the legal ramifications of it.

    According to a post over at Catholic Mom, One parent in Rockville, MD just got in BIG trouble with the law for doing so. In my home state of California, you could be charged with "contributing to the delinquency of a minor", among other things, assuming anyone actually bothered to enforce the law. Unfortunately, most of this stuff goes unreported.

    I should have added earlier that parents who put on keggers for their kids are not only guilty of being lemmings--they are also criminally negligent.

    Saturday, October 6, 2007

    Another of life's mysteries explained?

    Having recently had mine removed, I have been pondering the appendix quite a lot lately, wondering why we have one in the first place.

    As if in answer to my questions, my husband found the following on today:

    The function of the appendix seems related to the massive amount of bacteria populating the human digestive system, according to the study in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. There are more bacteria than human cells in the typical body. Most are good and help digest food.

    But sometimes the flora of bacteria in the intestines die or are purged. Diseases such as cholera or amoebic dysentery would clear the gut of useful bacteria. The appendix's job is to reboot the digestive system in that case.

    The appendix "acts as a good safe house for bacteria," said Duke surgery professor Bill Parker, a study co-author. Its location _ just below the normal one-way flow of food and germs in the large intestine in a sort of gut cul-de-sac -- helps support the theory, he said.

    Also, the worm-shaped organ outgrowth acts like a bacteria factory, cultivating the good germs, Parker said.


    In less developed countries, where the appendix may be still useful, the rate of appendicitis is lower than in the U.S., other studies have shown, Parker said.

    Read the rest here.

    Friday, October 5, 2007

    Intelligence and Confusion

    "Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief."
    Mr. Knightley, Jane Austen's Emma

    I tell my students that asking questions when they are confused is a sign of intelligence.

    Let me explain that.

    Two possible things happen when people are confused: they recognize the confusion, or they do not. The ones who do not tend to forget whatever it was that confused them. So, for instance, a student may read the assigned chapter for homework, but he won't remember a thing---and he probably won't wonder why. He'll just assume he doesn't remember things he reads very well, when the real problem is that his reading comprehension skills are not at th level he needs to understand the text.

    Those whose conscious minds do in fact register confusion tend to react to it in one of two ways. The most common response is to say something like, "That's dumb!" (Translation: I don't get it, and I don't feel like finding out why I don't get it, therefore the problem is with the concept, and not with me.)

    The other (more intelligent, and generally more practical) response is to ask questions, listen openly, get clarification and *gasp!* resolve the confusion!

    Now, speaking for myself as an educator, I have a great deal more respect for people who respond in the latter fashion. I have absolutely no respect for opinions formed based on needlessly ignorant filling in of the blanks, especially when ignorance can be easily fixed with a quick look at reliable publicly available documentation. I get even more annoyed when ignorant filling in of blanks is presented as "fact".

    I once heard someone wisely point out that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Maybe it has something to do with keeping our feet out of that mouth.

    So you can imagine my opinion of what went on recently at The View.

    'nuff said.

    Nod: Tito

    Thursday, October 4, 2007

    Newer Comedy?

    In the beginning, there was Old Comedy, which centered around a male clown figure, or possibly a pair of them involved in farcical shenanigans, usually in a misguided attempt to resolve a conflict.

    Then there was New Comedy, which revolved mostly around love stories (think Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, Pride & Prejudice)

    Dawn Eden links to "When Harry Met Sal," an interesting article by Justin Shubow on recent trends in comic movies, involving male clown duos exhibiting patterns of behavior that have mostly been reserved for romantic couples. Is this a twist on New Comedy, or another way of combining elements of Old and New?

    Shubow offers the following explanation for this recent innovation:

    But there might be a deeper reason for the advent of the man-crush rom com. In these extremely unromantic times (Is there anything less romantic than having sex while wearing a condom?), in which serial monogamy followed by divorce-prone marriage has become the norm, living happily ever after has become a less and less believable fantasy. By contrast, “best friends forever” is not just a live possibility, it’s one that is widely lived. And when romantic relationships are impermanent, life-long friendship becomes one of our few consolations. Admittedly, such an interpretation is an awfully heavy take on light entertainment. But if one looks past the full-frontal vulgarity, even the most immature comedies might be capturing a contemporary truth: Outside the family, anyone looking for undying words of devotion might just have to settle for “I love you, man.”

    Read the rest of the article here.

    For further reading on New Comedy: Ordinary Pleasures: Couples, Conversation, and Comedy by Dr. Kay Young

    Saturday, September 29, 2007

    Public service announcement

    Maybe that severe abdominal pain and vomiting is just a stomach virus. Go to the emergency room anyway. It could be your appendix. At least, in my case it was. The sooner you go, the sooner you can fill out your paperwork and find out.

    from Monty Python's Flying Circus, episode 45

    Saturday, September 1, 2007

    Get a shovel...

    ...and see if there are any more ways for these people to dig themselves into a hole. Or should I say, "tunnel"?

    This reminds me of an incident near my hometown, where beaches were closed to protect the young of a certain shorebird from humans. This left the birds vulnerable to birds of prey, who did more damage than the people did. Whoops.

    Here, according to Reuters, we have salamanders who need to cross a road at night. Previously, volunteers had to help them along, because some environmentally insensitive human had put up a curb that they couldn't climb. The curb was removed, and the salamanders began to cross freely, only to get squashed by oncoming traffic. Now, tens of thousands of dollars are being spent to put tunnels under the road, so the salamanders can pass unscathed. They might want to consider putting the curb back too, just to be on the safe side.

    Update: As an illustration of why I suggested replacing the curb upon the installation of the tunnels, check out this little Davis, CA landmark, graciously pointed out by friend and fellow blogger Michelle in her comment on this post. Also check out the appropriately named "Nutty Narrows" squirrel bridge in Longview, Washington.

    Thursday, August 30, 2007

    Today's etymology lesson:

    lunatic (adj.)

    c.1290, "affected with periodic insanity, dependent on the changes of the moon," from O.Fr. lunatique "insane," from L. lunaticus "moon-struck," from luna "moon." Cf. O.E. monseoc "lunatic," lit. "moon-sick;" M.H.G. lune "humor, temper, mood, whim, fancy" (Ger. Laune), from L. luna. Cf. also N.T. Gk. seleniazomai "be epileptic," from selene "moon." The noun meaning "lunatic person" is first recorded 1377. Lunatic fringe (1913) was apparently coined by U.S. politician Theodore Roosevelt. Lunatic soup (1933) was Australian slang for "alcoholic drink."

    Speaking of the moon, here is a photographic progression of the recent lunar eclipse. It is the work of my brother, an astrophysics student and self-taught photographer. Click on the image if you want to see a larger version:

    My husband also links to this on his blog.

    "lunatic." Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 30 Aug. 2007.>.

    Sunday, August 19, 2007

    Revival Kitty

    I don't know where Adoro Te Devote found this picture, but it gave me a good chuckle:

    On a more serious note, her post is worth reading too. Especially if you want to know why it is so important to listen to people when you want to share the gospel with them.

    2008 Presidential Rat Race: Giuliani again...

    He is in favor of public funding of abortion and embryonic stem cell research, and personally gives his money to Planned Parenthood, even though he is "personally opposed" to abortion (when he could just as easily have given it to pregnancy centers that counsel women on options he does approve of, such as adoption). That is enough to put this blogger off of ever voting for him in the primaries.

    Now, out of an attempt to gain the approval of more conservative republicans, we have a candidate who embraces one of the least forward-thinking educational policies to come out of his party. In short, we have one more reason why this blogger sincerely hopes the former New York Mayor does not get the Republican nomination:

    He is in favor of state-funded vouchers going to private schools.

    Now, that sounds fine as long as the government is run by people who won't interfere in the workings of private religious institutions. But what would happen if Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton (or their ilk) ran the show, after private religious schools had come to depend upon publicly funded vouchers? The picture doesn't look so pretty to me now.

    Here's a novel idea. Let's not adopt policies that will come back to bite us if the other side gains power. Let's keep the vouchers in the public system--and stop forcing the parents of private school students to pay extra taxes for a service they don't use. Then everybody gets what they need. The public schools get the competition that will help them to live up to their potential, and the private schools need not have any conflicts with the state.

    This last feature is crucial. We need to have one section of the educational world that is free from the underhanded political abuse of the public education system we already see in certain public schools and other organizations that receive government money. In the UK, government funding is not even needed as a tool of manipulation. Merely providing a public service such as adoption in cooperation with the state is enough to create problems.

    While we have the legal wiggle room to do so, we should protect the Church from the State. Let's not go asking for trouble.

    Related posts:
    On the Nature and Purpose of Public Education.
    Public Money and Private Schools.
    Rethinking Schools--but without school choice.
    2008 Presidential Rat Race--Starting Positions

    Hat tip: Tito