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