Thursday, May 31, 2007

Standardized Testing pains

Standardized tests are boring to take, and whether they are good assessment of a student's skills is debatable.

But darn it, we need them anyway, flawed or not. We have to have some kind of minimum here, or a high school diploma won't be worth the paper it is printed on.

Don't believe me?

Look at this. (Pay special attention to the sign being held by the picketer.)

Via Dave Barry.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Pill and its abortifacient side effects. (Really!)

Let's review:

Increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and blood clots, and high blood pressure, especially in women with certain pre-existing risk factors.

Increased risk of Breast Cancer, especially in women who take them before their first pregnancy.

Decreased libido.

Environmental hazards, leading to food safety issues.

Easier consequence-free exploitation of women as sex objects.

And now, a You Tube video, thanks to somebody who wants visual learners to understand exactly how BCP's can also work as abortifacients:




All of the above are very good reasons to consider Natural Family Planning, whether one is Catholic or not.

Via Pertinacious Papist

Sunday, May 27, 2007

You go, girl! Dawn Eden tells it like it is.

Read her scathing analysis of some sad tripe from the pro-choice movement, which has no idea why it hasn't completely overridden conscience, even among people who agree with it.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Serious questions raised about Gardasil

Judicial Watch obtains FDA documentation of adverse reactions to the Gardasil vaccine, including deaths from cardiovascular complications.

The New England Journal of Medicine questions the effectiveness of the vaccine:
See here

The NEJM article is written with physicians in mind and contains great deal of medical jargon. For summaries in layman's terms see articles at the San Francisco Gate (I'm amazed they even covered this), the Seattle Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

Several state governments are willing to force young girls to get this vaccine for school attendance, despite these serious questions. Mandating the vaccine at this stage, in light of such information as this, is completely irresponsible, especially for a disease that is not spread by casual classroom contact. Parents and adult women who are interested in the vaccine, and still wish to obtain it voluntarily after assessing the risks, should be allowed to do so, but to force the vaccine on the unsuspecting (and in many cases unwilling) public makes no sense.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Chapel Veils: not just for Grandma, but still optional

I wear a veil to mass. I haven't always. It used to be I would only wear head covering if I was attending a Tridentine mass. Veils are more common in those situations, and I just preferred not to annoy anybody. Later, when I began to wear a veil at every mass, it was purely a personal gesture of obedience, and not a public statement.

Then one Sunday at mass recently, a very nice lady, probably old enough to me my grandmother, and sporting one of those little round lace caps, came up to me and complemented me for wearing my veil. "It's in Canon Law," she said, and she lamented that nobody covers her head any more, and was sooo pleased to see me "setting an example". I was pretty sure she was mistaken about Canon Law, but I didn't have the detailed knowledge I needed to tell her this.

Then, lo and behold, through the magic of the Information Age, today I stumbled across In the Light of the Law, the blog of a canon lawyer, who explains the entire thing quite well, including specific citations. Some of the details are really quite fascinating, and I highly recommend reading the entire post.

The bottom line? Head coverings are indeed optional.

Via Rosetta Stone, via Kitchen Madonna

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Goodbye cramps, hello Brave New World.

There are feminists who have come to the conclusion that women cannot be valued equally because of their biological and anatomical differences from men. The fact that we ovulate, that we menstruate, that we bear children, they say, prevents us from being full participants in society.

The logical solution, it seems to me, would be to create a society in which these unique aspects of femininity are regarded as natural, and valuable: where our femininity is respected as something powerful, where fertility and menstruation is seen a part of that power, and not merely an annoyance for women, and an impediment to men being able to get sex on demand--where childbearing is a gift, and not an excuse to discriminate against women in or out of the workplace. Where childrearing (whether of one's natural or adopted children) is actually valued as a contribution to society at large. Where we work around our bodies and not against them. Where women can be valued as whole women.

Women like Mary Wollstonecraft understood this.

Unfortunately, many leaders in the feminist movement during the late 20th century preferred a different course. They could have demanded that men respect us on the basis of our femininity. Instead, they chose to tell women to repress those characteristics which distinguish us. The most important of these have been menstruation and child bearing. (Visual attractiveness seems to still be acceptable). It is pretty much expected that every modern, progressive, forward-looking woman will be using some sort of artificial birth control, "The Pill" being the most effective and convenient method devised so far.

Now we're working on eliminating those pesky little periods.

Recently, BCP's that shorten periods to three days, or that limit women to one period every three months or so have become available. Now, the FDA has approved a pill that can (potentially) get rid of periods for good.

The ideal end result? A lot of sexy, infertile, nonmenstruating women who can have sex any time--with no disgusting bleeding, no PMS, and no pesky little mouths to feed later! Sounds like some chauvinistic fantasy to me. (Except for the fact that hormonal birth control decreases female libido. Rats. They'll have to do something about that....)

If we're so disgusted with our own bodies that it becomes a handicap, even just one week out of the month, how can we women expect to have the positive outlook and confidence needed to contribute to society?

Come to think of it, if men find our natural biology so disgusting, they have no business expecting us to want to...well...you know.


There are a number of very good reasons to leave our periods alone.

In the first place, ovulation, pregnancy and menstruation are not diseases, and therefore do no need to be "cured". A healthy cycle is a sign of overall good health and hormonal balance. Just ask women who have difficulties with infertility and irregular or painful periods. Often these problems are traced to other health issues, such as unhealthy body weight, poor diet, extreme stress, or serious physical illness. Or aging and menopause. Generally speaking, being in touch with one's female cycle allows one to discover if there is something wrong with her health. Deprived of this biological indicator that all is well, we are less likely to be aware if a reproductive problem develops. We have to know what is usual for our bodies before we can detect any unusual problems. If a woman has reproductive problems, one would think that the best thing to do would not be to suppress the menstrual cycle, but rather to trace any abnormalities to their roots, to cure any illness at its source and maintain overall health.

Add to this the fact that healthy hormonal balance during our cycles is a huge part of maintaining our general health. This is why osteoporosis is such a big issue with postmenopausal women, and even younger women whose hormones are out of balance. Think about that before you take a pill that essentially gives you artificial menopause.

In the second place, the attitude that female biology is somehow an impairment, a disease, or a disability is, in my opinion, unhealthy if we are going to raise our daughters with a sense of feminine empowerment. We cannot raise girls who are confident in their futures if we teach them the lie that the quality their lives will limited by their biology. We cannot raise girls to be comfortable in their own bodies if we teach them that their natural biological functions are dirty or inconvenient. We cannot raise girls to become sexually healthy women if we teach them that men are mindless, drooling sex fiends, and that they must make themselves the same by removing the power of their fertility from the sexual equation. Simply put, we cannot demand that men respect our fertility and stop taking us for granted as mere sex objects if we do not respect our fertility ourselves.

Thirdly, and related to my second point, repressing female fertility is more likely to create a world where women are oppressed because of their natural biology--not less. It is already expected that professional women (especially those in high-powered positions) not allow motherhood and childbirth to interfere with their work, precisely because we have birth control pills and abortions to prevent or eliminate any "little inconveniences". If a woman in an executive position goes on maternity leave, this is more likely to count against her than ever, because others in her profession, rather than viewing this as a natural part of life, may look down upon her for not having the so-called good sense to prevent or terminate her pregnancy. This can also be the case on college campuses, which do not usually have on-campus day care services, and contain institutional prejudices against mothers in other areas of campus life as well. (See, for example, this post about pregnancy-based discrimination in the NCAA)

Imagine what will happen if the cultural standard shifts to where it is expected that menstruation be suppressed as well. What are presently small inconveniences for most women (extra trips to the restroom, extra purchases at the drug store, minor physical discomfort, etc.) could eventually become markers for social and workplace discrimination in a culture that expects women to take care of the "problem" with a pill. ("Well, you should have thought about that when you decided not to take birth control. I don't care if you had an ovarian cyst rupture and a trip to the emergency room, you'd better be in the office tomorrow!")

One of the best things that could possibly happen for American culture would be a renewed respect, and even reverence, for authentic femininity, fertility included--respect for the power of the female body to nurture new life--respect for the process that may create new life, and respect for what that means for adults when such new life comes into being.

In short, a greater respect within the culture for the dignity of all persons is what women need. Not a pill that gets rid of a few cramps and saves us a few dollars on tampons.

------------------------------------
Related Posts:
Freedom means Not Menstruating, Alive and Young
Against Nature, Modern Commentaries
A Glimmer of Hope, Modern Commentaries

Cooling down fashions that are too hot.

The weather is heating up as summer approaches. Catholic Mom is seeing the effects on the clothes that teens and some adults are wearing to mass at her parish.

When I taught in California the modesty issue was also quite relevant to my classroom in the spring and early summer. Coastal California has very mild weather, even in the summer. The hotter regions get into the mid-80's from time to time. A coastal Californian's definition of a "hot" day is much different from what someone in Texas or Arizona, or even the inland regions of California itself might consider hot.

So, as soon as the sun comes out, and the temperatures get above 73, out come the spaghetti straps, short shorts, bare midriffs, and mini skirts, and the complaints of "It's sooooooo hot!!!"

Now, I did most of my California teaching in public schools, which are generally notorious for either complete lack of dress code or complete lack of enforcement, and kids know it. Even at schools that do enforce dress codes, such enforcement is inconsistent at best, and usually limited to extreme cases of immodesty, or gang-related attire.

My solution? Crank up the air conditioning during class. The smart kids quickly figured out that my classroom was always cold, and they started bringing sweaters. The spaghetti straps, bare midriffs and tiny skirts soon became a little less of a problem, and I found myself writing fewer dress code referrals.

I bet that would work in Churches too. :)

Monday, May 21, 2007

How the Crazy Schoolmarm came into being...

In the beautiful (though rather high-rent) city of Santa Barbara, CA, dwelt an idealistic, bookish, introverted English major, hankering for a meaningful career. "I shall be a High School Teacher," she said to herself. "And share my love of literature with teenagers!"

And so, having searched out a place where she could learn how to do this and do it well, she entered the UCSB Teacher Education Program, known both for its rigor and its highly skilled graduates.

Upon her entry, she found herself taken through a series of rooms where portions of her brain were removed (mostly the ones responsible for sanity), and replaced with bits of Paulo Freire, Lisa Delpit, Sheridan Blau, grade spreadsheets, seating charts, red pens, Bloom's Taxonomy, multi-tasking strategies, and SDAIE.

Near the end of the spring semester, she was taken to the top of Phelps Hall, where, like Frankenstein's creature, she was hit by lightning---repeatedly.

That June, she emerged from TEP with a teaching credential, half a master's degree, and a splitting headache. But, most importantly, she was able to think like a teacher! And for the rest of her life, she seldom read a novel without creating a lesson plan in her head, whether she was actually teaching that year or not.

Two years later, she returned to have the brain implants upgraded, and emerged with her Master of Education degree completed, and perhaps with a little less of her remaining sanity.

The nature of her training was such that she also became quite fidgety, and so she started a blog, to give her fingers one more thing to type.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the Crazy Schoolmarm came into being.


"I don't suffer from insanity! I enjoy every minute of it!"
--Anonymous

Catholics and Gardasil

The Gardasil issue is no longer new, but it is still very much alive. I get a lot of search hits from people wanting to know what the Catholic Church officially has to say about Gardasil, the new vaccine that "may" protect young women and girls from HPV, which causes genital warts, and in some cases cervical cancer.

I have already said plenty of the subject, including whether or not the state has any business requiring the vaccine for school enrollment.

For those who want more official statements, the Texas Catholic Bishops have put out a statement on the matter, in response to Governor Rick Perry's infamous executive order. They state that the vaccine is an acceptable means of protecting oneself (or ones children) from HPV. However, the bishops oppose public policy requiring vaccination for school attendance. They find it to be highly problematic, and state that the decision to get the vaccine should be left with parents, and individual women who are legally old enough to decide for themselves. I highly recommend reading the statement in its entirety. It is available in HTML and PDF formats. It is also available en EspaƱol.

The Catholic Medical Association has also put out a press release and a position paper (in .PDF format) on Gardasil. The National Catholic Bioethics Center issued its own statement. Both of these organizations concur with the opinion of the Texas Catholic Conference.

-----------------------------------------------
For further reading on related issues, refer to the sections in The Catechism of the Catholic Church dealing with conscience, marriage, sexuality, government, and human dignity. The Theology of the Body is also a useful resource.

A grateful nod to Kitchen Madonna for posting the online location of The Theology of the Body on her blog.

Bubba's got a gun...

...and he's only 10 months old!

And yes, he does have a permit for that.


A nod to my brother for tipping me off to this one.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Spelling it out...

A clear definition of what we mean by "Culture of Death".

For literary examples, check out works such as Brave New World, 1984, and The Giver.

In film, see Gattaca.

Or the Twilight Zone episode known as "The Obsolete Man"

Book Meme.

Catholic Mom left an open-ended tag when she did this one, so I'll take it. :)


How many books do you own?

Between the two of us, so many we almost needed an extra room for them.

Book(s) I am reading now:

1.The Silmarillion, By J.R.R. Tolkien (again)
2. The Tolkien Reader

Books I've read recently:

(In no particular order)

1. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
2. Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray
3. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth, by Bradley Birzer
4. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
5. The Houston Garden Book.

Five Books That Mean a Lot to Me:
1. The Catechism
4. The Dictionary (Lots of meaning there, right?)
3.The Lord of the Rings
4. The Silmarillion
5. Grandma's Apron Strings (Alan's Family cookbook)


I'm tagging Alan, Michelle, Tito, and Jeff, since they are among the small number of people who actually read my blog :) Anyone else who wants to do this is welcome to do so. Don't forget to link back here!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Planned Parenthood follow-up:

Lila Rose, the 18 year old UCLA student journalist who exposed two LA area Planned Parenthood clinics as accessories to statutory rape was on the O'Reilly Factor tonight, along with the videos she took at the clinics.

Rather than take steps to discipline their employees for violating the law, PP preferred to abuse California privacy laws to bully an 18 year old journalist for exercising her freedom: her freedom as a clinic patient to disclose the content of the conversation, and her journalistic freedom to do so. Ms. Rose had the journalistic integrity to collect hard evidence before making her claims in public.

A person who deliberately commits a criminal act, in this case intentionally concealing a statutory rape, should have no expectation of privacy. Even so, PP prefers to cover up the criminal behavior in the tapes, rather than account for it.

The only people who benefit from this are PP and the abusers of young girls. PP gets the business they want, and statutory rapists go uncaught and unreported because the evidence of their crimes is destroyed. How is this supposed to help women?

On the advice of Ms. Rose's attorney, the video has been removed from You Tube, and she will be turning her tapes over to PP tomorrow.

But, the tapes have now been shown on national news, and the You-Tube videos and TV clips may possibly have been preserved by countless others. The story is all over the blogs, and both conservative and mainstream online news outlets. Take this guest post over at the Dawn Patrol, for instance.

Hmmm. Doesn't look like there's a rug big enough to hide this mess.

-------------------
Related Post from Granny Grump at Real Choice.
Annie at After Abortion discusses similar incidents in other states.

A little timely poem..

...is over on PhatCatholic.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Planned Parenhood's Sparkling Whine

This story needs little comment than for me to say this: if this girl can be sued for her investigative reporting, then so can the folks at "To Catch a Predator".

Anybody who covers up a statutory rape is an accessory in my book. Don't whine when you are caught breaking the law. It just makes you look stupid.

Oh, and by the way, while PP Los Angeles is suing one teenager for collecting videotape evidence that they deliberately cover up statutory rape, another teen in Ohio is suing PP for their failure to report that she was a victim of incest. Imagine that. A crime victim who actually wants justice. I bet they never saw that one coming.

Appreciative nods to: Jeff and Tito

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

"Don't take the play so serious!"

There are two things you can do when confronted with racial slurs. You can get offended, and try to silence the person using them. Or, you can appropriate them, and turn them into terms of endearment, thereby taking the sting out of the words in question.

Here's a little story about what happened when some people did the latter, but found themselves in a confrontation with someone who did the former.

Who came out looking like the bigger person?

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Sound of Vocations

I watched The Sound of Music today for what is probably the millionth time in my life.

And I was struck by the way the film approaches marriage: as a vocation.

If you haven't seen the movie, go watch it. Don't worry, it's safe, your kids can see it too. Then come back and read the rest of this.

Anyway...

Maria begins the movie believing she has a vocation to the religious life. In a way she assumes it is her vocation, the way most people expect to find themselves married one day.

But it turns out her calling is not what she expects, and it scares her a little. Well, it scares her a lot, actually, and she tries to run away from it, before her very wise mother superior tells her she must embrace it, if it is God's will.

Instead of taking vows as a nun, she takes marriage vows.

The film treats both marriage and the religious life as vocations of equal value.

Very interesting.

It is pretty much assumed that we will all get married, eventually. Many people expect that a person who discovers she has a vocation to the religious life will struggle with this, in part because it is so unconventional, even though there are people in the priesthood and religious life who have had no dramatic struggles with their callings.

But it is rare in life, or in Art to see a person struggling with the choice of marriage, as opposed to religious life, especially from a perspective that views both as profound ways of dedicating oneself to God.

I think it is worthwhile for us to see this. Marriage has become so "normal" to most of us, we rarely give it a second thought.

We should think about it. Marriage is every bit as serious a thing as entering a convent. Or becoming a priest. It involves taking vows before God, to dedicate oneself to the life He has chosen, embracing the joys and also the sacrifices involved in one's vocation.

That's a pretty big deal any way you look at it.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

What is your at home mom worth to your family?

Reuters says about $138,095 per year.

That's how much you'd be paying to have someone else do all that work.

If the typical stay-at-home mother in the United States were paid for her work as a housekeeper, cook and psychologist among other roles, she would earn $138,095 a year, according to research released on Wednesday.

This reflected a 3 percent raise from last year's $134,121, according to Salary.com Inc, Waltham, Massachusetts-based compensation experts.

The 10 jobs listed as comprising a mother's work were housekeeper, cook, day care center teacher, laundry machine operator, van driver, facilities manager, janitor, computer operator, chief executive officer and psychologist, it said.

The typical mother puts in a 92-hour work week, it said, working 40 hours at base pay and 52 hours overtime.



For some mothers (like mine, for instance), you could also add handy(wo)man, private tutor, groundskeeper, and part-time nurse.

Something to think about for those of you--especially in the left wing of the feminist movement-- who talk about the domestic engineering involved in "only staying home to raise the children" as though it is nothing of significance and requires no talent. If you were true feminists, you would appreciate all contributions women make to society, even the traditional ones.

Full time mothering is one of the few roles that provides almost limitless opportunity for women to use their talents--because there is no end to what children will think of next.

And for those of you who have made the sacrifices to stay home with your kids (and also your husbands who work extra hard to make it financially feasible) a big hats off. You do make a difference in the lives of your children.

Happy Mother's Day.

---------------------------
Some cool Blog-moms to check out:

Kitchen Madonna
Catholic Mom
Desperate Irish Housewife
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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Unnatural Selection Continued: Slippery Slopes

We have pre-natal tests for all sorts of things. That's not a problem if the goal is to treat the diseases they detect for the sake of the child.

Now, a British clinic is already screening for non-life-threatening"cosmetic defects", and "creating" a baby for a couple who fears their children may inherit a severe squinting problem from their father. This means creating several embryos (presumably in-vitro), and then "selecting" the one that does not inherit the genetic disorder. What happens to the others? The article is careful not to say.

Where will this end?

We start off with screening for life-threatening illnesses, and then suggest to parents that it is better for their children to die in the womb than to face even a few short months outside of it.

Then we move on to non-life threatening, but still severe defects.

Then what? Mild diseases? Vision problems? Crooked teeth? Vulnerability to obesity? Bee allergies? Migraines?


Here's the creepiest bit about what is happening at this British clinic:

When asked if he would screen embryos for factors like hair colour, he [Prof Gedis Grudzinskas, who is responsible for the project in question] said: "If there is a cosmetic aspect to an individual case I would assess it on its merits.

"[Hair colour] can be a cause of bullying which can lead to suicide. With the agreement of the HFEA, I would do it.

"If a parent suffered from asthma, and it was possible to detect the genetic factor for this, I would do it.

"It all depends on the family's distress."

Athsma? I know tons of people who have varying degrees of athsma. Many are in my own family. The distress is minimal, thanks to the available treatments. Are we to be pitied? Seen as having inferior lives because we need an inhaler? I don't think so.

And the idea that a parent's neurotic anxiety over a child's HAIR COLOR would be a reasonable justification for playing God is just absurd.

Watch Gattaca, people. Please.

Before we find ourselves living that "not too distant future".



Related: My previous post.

Unnatural Selection: Eugenic abortion for disease

From the Washington Post:

Despite technological advances, it's still anything but simple for pregnant women to determine what do after getting test results that suggest possible problems with a fetus. At issue is the possibility that an unborn child will develop Down syndrome or other conditions related to chromosome abnormalities. Down syndrome can lead to congenital heart defects and mental retardation.

...

In January, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended that doctors offer non-invasive screening tests to all mothers before the 20th week of pregnancy. The doctors' group favors a combination of two tests: nuchal translucency (a type of ultrasound exam), and a blood test.

...

The ultimate decision about screening, though, should remain with the mother, the doctors said. After all, she must decide whether to continue with a pregnancy if there are indications the child will have a birth defect.


Apparently, it is better to die in the womb than to live with a serious genetic health problem.

As a trained educator, I find this notion sickening. Obviously, we hate to see anyone suffer, but we have no right to decide that they can't be born because we are too weak to handle it, and we'd prefer to eliminate the problem rather than make sacrifices to help them. Highly trained professionals in education and medicine have been working tirelessly for decades to help people with genetic abnormalities and disabilities to lead the most normal lives possible. I have had students with physical disabilities, emotional disorders, learning disabilities--even mild autism. I am required both by my own personal beliefs and the ethical requirements of my profession to give them the best possible learning opportunities when they enter my classroom. Each of these students has left his or her own special imprint on my memory, and I can safely say that their very presence has helped me to become a better person. I hope I was able to do the same for them.

But here is the elite in the medical community telling us in one breath that, while we must care for the disabled, it is okay to abort them so we don't have to be inconvenienced.

Huh?

What is all of that educator training for, what is the point of so many advances in health care, and all of the equal access legislation to protect disabled persons? How deep does this institutional compassion in education and medicine and law really go, if society would simply prefer to eliminate these human beings from the gene pool? How can we as a culture be expected to treat disabled persons with equal respect and dignity, if we resent their very presence?

Dean Barnett over at TownHall has extra insight into the issue, being a Cystic Fibrosis patient himself. Many doctors would have told his parents to abort him, and even his own father has advocated that other parents to so with their own children. In spite of this, Barnett has lived a much longer (and I may dare to guess much fuller) life than what he was expected to have at the time of his birth. And he now adds to the ranks of the pro-life movement, along with other persons with disabilities and genetic diseases who realize the implications of such suggestions as those the ACOG is making now. Read Barnett's perspective on this story here.

Also, to see how even the smallest and shortest of lives can be full of meaning, check out this video made by two parents, whose infant son was born with Trisomy 18.

"Even the smallest person can change the course of the future"
---------------------------------------------------------------
Update: Dean Barnett has also posted a letter he received in response to his essay on pre-natal screening and abortion. This is from a neonatologist who is also the father of a little girl with down syndrome. I strongly recommend reading it.
---------------------------------------------------------------
Update II: I feel famous! Slate.com has linked to my blog in their daily roundup of blog chatter. Naturally, they disagree with me, but I can handle it. :) Honestly though, if they really wanted compelling stuff, they should have linked to one of the posts to which I have referred here.

Speaking of which, Slate also links to another blog post on this issue by a woman who describes the general shock and fear among her health care providers when she chose to carry her child with down-syndrome to term.
---------------------------------------------------------------
Update III: If you are facing the possibility (or the reality) of raising a child with down syndrome, there are many organizations that offer support and information. A Google search for "down syndrome support" yields many promising links.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Pope to public abortion supporters: REPENT!

...Or, if they don't repent, they must stop taking communion.

I'd love to hear Nancy Pelosi, Gray Davis, Rudy Giuliani, and John Kerry react to this.

I remember when (former) California Governor Davis was told the same thing by his Bishop. He didn't listen, and instead put out a statement criticizing the Bishop for telling him how to live his faith.

Wait, isn't that what clergy are there for?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Breast Cancer Follow-up.

Did anyone else see the episode of George Lopez where his son thought his daughter's BCP's were mints and ate the whole package? And now we have Femcon--the mint-flavored chewable birth control pills.

Yeah.

Moving right along, we have another reason to read the full prescribing information for your medications. The following are quotations from the Femcon Fe patient information regarding risks and side effects, many of which I have blogged about before (emphasis mine):

Most side effects of the pill are not serious. The most common are nausea, vomiting, bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods, weight gain, breast tenderness, and difficulty wearing contact lenses.

... you should know that the following medical conditions have been associated with or made worse by the pill:

1. Blood clots in the legs (thrombophlebitis), lungs (pulmonary embolism), stoppage or rupture of a blood vessel in the brain (stroke), blockage of blood vessels in the heart (heart attack or angina pectoris), or other organs of the body. As mentioned above, smoking increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes and subsequent serious medical consequences. Women with migraine also may be at increased risk of stroke when taking the pill.

2. Liver tumors, which may rupture and cause severe bleeding. A possible but not definite association has been found with the pill and liver cancer...

3. High blood pressure, although blood pressure usually returns to normal when the pill is stopped. The symptoms associated with these serious side effects are discussed in the detailed patient information leaflet given to you with your supply of pills. ...Breast cancer has been diagnosed slightly more often in women who use the pill than in women of the same age who do not use the pill. ...Women who currently have or have had breast cancer should not use hormonal contraceptives because breast cancer is usually a hormone-sensitive tumor. Some studies have found an increase in the incidence of cancer or precancerous lesions of the cervix in women who use the pill.

Interestingly, the Mayo Clinic study I cited before noted that increases in breast cancer diagnosis have been higher in developed countries--where hormonal birth control use is more frequent. This is certainly cause for concern in the public health arena, and should be considered by health care professionals when they decide how frequently hormonal contraceptives should be prescribed. Even more urgency is added when you consider that these synthetic hormones end up in aquatic environments, contaminating the fishier part of our food supply, and putting the general public at risk.

For a more personal look at what it means to find out about this after it is too late, here is a blog post by a long-term contraceptive user who was not told of their carcinogenic properties, and then ended up with breast cancer at the age of 31.

There is always NFP.

Monday, May 7, 2007

With wedding season warming up:

One of our friends gave us this as a wedding gift. We keep it on our coffee table:

Married Saints by John F. Fink.

The Publisher description is as follows:

Most of the saints in heaven were married during their lives on earth; most of the canonized saints were not. While this book cannot change this fact, it does bring to the attention of the world many of those who were. Joseph and Mary, Isidore and Maria were married couples. Sts. Peter, Monica, Frances of Rome, Margaret of Scotland, Perpetua and Felicity, Bridget of Sweden, Elizabeth of Hungary, Elizabeth of Portugal and Elizabeth Ann Seton were married, as were St. Thomas More, St. Stephen of Hungary, St. Henry and St. Edward the Confessor. The brief biographies in this unique work will encourage husbands and wives everywhere to strive for greater holiness in their marriages and to take pride in their peers who did so before them and are now listed in the roster of the saints.

I've started a second blog. As if one isn't enough...

If you have an interest in plants, you are welcome to check out Transplanted, my new gardening blog. Now that I live in a climate so different from the one in which I grew up, I'm having to re-learn much of what I thought I knew about gardening. I needed a place to write some of it down.

Legalizing abortion doesn't stop back-alley deaths

California prides itself on being the most pro-choice state in the union. No parental consent laws, no waiting periods, no restrictions of any kind if they can help it.

So why would a 31-year-old San Bernardino woman, living in an age of legalized abortion, with an appointment in only two days for an abortion attempt one at home with the aid of her boyfriend, risking (and ultimately losing) her life in the process?

And don't tell me she was afraid of protesters. Planned Parenthood alone has so many clinics in the LA metro area that the pro-life advocates out there can't possibly cover them all that thoroughly, and the general cultural and political atmosphere of the area is heavily in favor of abortion.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Global Warming Update: Exercises in Futility

We should really be willing to exercise some forethought when we try to take care of the planet.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs save energy, but disposal is tricky, because they contain mercury, and when broken become a toxic environmental hazard. (Click here to read about the dangers and cost of breaking one...)

Rumor has it our attempts to fix the ozone hole back in the late 80's may have contributed to Global warming. That's what it says in USA Today.

And the new, "green" Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa in California, which features low-flow toilets and solar power now (in addition to the usual Gideon-issue Bible) keeps copies of Al Gore's global warming book in its rooms. Maybe they're trying to conserve toilet paper.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Good news for fans of blogs and NFP!

The Kippleys have now entered the blogosphere!
Check it out...

Who are these Kippleys, you ask?

They literally wrote the book on the Symptothermal Method. Literally. Really. It is titled The Art of Natural Family Planning. It's a very handy reference. How do I know? Because we use it and it has been...well...very handy.

:)

Friday, May 4, 2007

Regarding legal "Personhood"

Soooo....

There are people who think this should be a legal person....


But not this?


Chimps are cute and everything, but I don't get it.

Full story here.

Human fetal development info here.

Is Austin,TX going to the dogs?

This sounds like something you might see in Los Angeles:

New Condominium In Texas Features Country's First Ever Dog Toilet

May 3, 2007 10:28 p.m. EST

Nidhi Sharma - AHN Staff Writer

Austin, TX (AHN) - People who own a pet and plan to live in the upcoming luxurious 55-story condominium at Second Street and Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas, will have a complete floor dedicated to a dog park for walks and pet toilets.

Read more...

Only the most pampered of pooches will be living there though. This California-esque living comes at a California price. The condos start at $550,000 and go all the way up to 3.8 million.

Via Dave Barry

Thursday, May 3, 2007

2008 Presidential Rat Race: Dumb answer award

At the Republican debates today...

Moderator: Would it be a good or bad day for America if Roe v. Wade were overturned?

Most candidates: "It would be a glorious day!" (or words to that effect)

Rudy G(sounding uncomfortable): "It would be ok...I think that’s something the Court has to decide"

ummm.....

In the question the court already made a decision, sir. What would be your opinion of that? Answer the question.

Oh, that's right, I forgot. If you gave an honest answer, you would lose the nomination.

Authentic Femininity and the Bride of Christ

Contemplate the imagery in these words for a few moments:

...the Church, at her nature, has ALWAYS been feminine, for the soul of the Church is Marian. The soul of the Church projects us all as the Bride of Christ, of which Mystical Wedding was consummated upon the Cross. It is the place of the Church as a whole to be receptive to Christ, who gives everything for us, thus for we, His Bride, to give fully of ourselves.


Just take some deep breaths. Let it sink in. Feel a cozy thrill run up and down your spine.

And then read the original post from whence it came, which addresses the important issue of men fleeing the Church.

My original take on this was, "It's all their doing. The women are just picking up the things they've abandoned". But the post I've linked to above has me re-thinking this in part.

Those of you who have read books like The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands are aware of certain persons who theorize that men will respond quite readily if their wives use the power of their femininity properly. This isn't about some 50's notion that women should be subservient sex objects. It's more a question of understanding our men and how they work and using that understanding to help them to be happier people. One suggestion: make a concentrated effort to make your inner beauty shine. Another: be willing to do some basic maintenance with your outer beauty. You don't have to look like a pin-up. Just be healthy and well-groomed--and wear a smile now and then. The results of such efforts, the theory goes, are that good men will feel more "warm fuzzies" and automatically become more interested in understanding and pleasing their women. In short, we women can take the lead in creating a mutually satisfying marriage, even after the first one or two blissful years have come and long gone.

In the post referenced above, the same principle has been applied to the liturgical life of the Church. I think there is something to this. Beauty and femininity are usually associated with one another. Feminine beauty, both internal and external, varies widely from soft and delicate to stern and regal. Though each man has his particular preference, all men are attracted to what they perceive as beautiful. This is not a problem when beauty is accompanied (and enhanced) by dignity.

The Church, though her clergy is entirely male, is, as a body, usually referenced in the feminine (Bride of Christ, Holy Mother Church, etc.).

If one is to adapt this notion to the current state of liturgy in many parts of the Church in America (and possibly in other parts of the world), one could say that, of late, she has been struggling a bit with beauty. You could say the honeymoon is over and she has kind of let herself go. She is not producing the kind of great artistic works she used to. As Barbara Nicolosi noted in one of her lectures, the Church used to enjoy another feminine designation: "Patroness of the Arts". There was a time when the Church would commission great works of art, architecture and music.

Such artistic endeavors are still appreciated by people today. The Sistine Chapel, for instance, receives throngs of visitors of many faiths, hundreds of years after it was painted. Liturgical music from the Renaissance, though seldom used at mass today, is now frequently performed in concert for non-religious listeners because its haunting beauty draws people to it. Even if one does not understand Latin, such music certainly achieved a sense of divine beauty.

But what of today? How many churches built in the last 40 years make us catch our breath, or give us that little ache of longing in our hearts when we walk into them? How much of the music written in the last three decades will still be sung in 400 years? How many of us are so thrilled by the skills of our liturgical musicians that we wish we could record their efforts and take them home? How many scripture passages are proclaimed in a monotone?

Yep.

J.R.R. Tolkien understood the value of beauty in our journey toward salvation. There is certainly thorough appreciation of natural beauty woven through his writing. Creation, he argued was the ultimate work of art, and sub-creation (the artistic works of created beings such as ourselves) comes from both our love of the beauty of this world and our longing for the perfect beauty of the next.

That is what the Liturgy should do. In the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass, we are allowed, for a brief moment, to witness as Heaven and Earth meet. Tolkien put it this way,"Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament. There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves on earth." We catch a glimpse of paradise itself.

Our church buldings should be reflective of the awesome power of God which we witness in them every week. They should be places where our hearts burn within us--where our longing for perfect beauty, and our hope for its fulfillment, reaches the forefront of our thoughts. Nobody, male or female, can resist that kind of call.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Scientific American Discovers Estrogen Footprints

My husband and I have both posted before on the environmental hazards of hormonal birth control pills which Canadian researchers have been monitoring.

The heart of the problem here is that synthetic estrogens from the Pill and similar birth control medications gets excreted into the sewage system. Current water treatement techniques do not remove these estrogens, and so they enter aquatic environments when treated water is returned to nature. There, these hormones are ingested by fish and other forms of aquatic life.

Another problem, which I have also mentioned in previous posts is that synthetic female hormones are classified as known carcinogens by the World Health Organization.

Scientific American has now picked up on both stories in their April 17 issue, according to the California Catholic Daily. Apparently the problem exists in the U.S. as well, and has the potential to be problematic for our food supply.

The article, titled "Bringing Cancer to the Dinner Table" states (emphasis mine):

Many streams, rivers and lakes already bear warning signs that the fish caught within them may contain dangerously high levels of mercury, which can cause brain damage. But, according to a new study, these fish may also be carrying enough chemicals that mimic the female hormone estrogen to cause breast cancer cells to grow. "Fish are really a sentinel, just like canaries in the coal mine 100 years ago," says Conrad Volz, co-director of exposure assessment at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute's Center for Environmental Ecology. "We need to pay attention to chemicals that are estrogenic in nature, because they find their way back into the water we all use."


Somebody call Al Gore about my Estrogen Offset Program idea...

So, let's tally up the reasons hormonal birth control such as the pill is lousy: decreased libido, increased risk of breast and other cancer, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attack, and blood clots, and environmental damage including the emasculation of aquatic life. Now we can add increased breast cancer risk for everyone else (assuming they eat fish and/or drink estrogen contaminated water).

Hmm. Natural Family Planning, anyone?

Via Tito.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Hey, Congress, if you want to pass a useful bill...

...you should consider this idea for minimizing hot air! I gaurantee the voters will unanimously approve. It might even make a worthwhile ballot measure for voters to gather signatures on, if there is no action in Washington. Who is with me?