A British medical journal reports that Prozac can increase users' risk of suicide attempts and violence.
I remember that after Del Shannon committed suicide mere weeks after going on Prozac in 1989, his widow teamed with the Church of Scientology to push for Congressional hearings into the safety of the drug. At the time, I was on Prozac myself, and I believed Shannon's widow was being shamefully used by the Scientologists to further the cult's own agenda.
When I think about the Scientologists' accusations today, after being free from the drug for four years, I have to admit that even a stopped clock can be right twice a day.
There is a fundamental difference between drugs that were developed during the late 1980s and beyond, like Prozac and other selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors, and older drugs like lithium and tricyclic antidepressants. The toxicity level on the older drugs, and the side effects that they caused, were enough of a cause for concern that the drugs were generally reserved for people who saw a psychiatrist or therapist regularly.
With the advent of the less-toxic SSRIs, which had fewer side effects, primary-care physicians were encouraged to prescribe antidepressants to people who had no other psychological care. As a result, depressed people were often left without an important point of contact with a helpgiver.
Although I saw a psychiatrist during the time when I was on antidepressants, I noticed with the doctor a quasi-religious faith in the powers of the pills that he prescribed for me. No matter how often I told him that I was worried I was slipping back into suicidal depression, he would brush it off. He received quite a number of free samples of drugs from manufacturers—if I was too broke to get a refill, he usually had a one-week supply on hand. I had the distinct feeling that he was eager to keep me on his list of pharmaceutical success stories—so much so that he became increasingly impervious to danger signs.
People shouldn't be on psychoactive drugs unless they are in therapy that treats the problems for which they were on the drug in the first place. That therapy* has to address the patient's basic assumptions about himself or herself—regardless of whether the medication is making the person appear to be "normal." Because antidepressants, at best, is only a stopgap measure. It has to be backed by changes in the way the patient views himself. Otherwise, the patient risks falling back into depression, which is made even worse by his feeling that the one thing that was supposed to help him—antidepressants—didn't.
This is a problem of our age,not only with antidepressants, but with other medications as well. Planned Parenthood tells women that they can abort their children at home—without seeing a doctor. Anti-AIDS programs around the world are telling people that sex with condoms is "safe sex." The artificial, Band-Aid solution to a problem is held up as a safe solution—with no heed to the spiritual and physical destruction that it will cause. And why? Because modern culture devalues human life—reducing it to a body that has no soul.
*What eventually worked for me was cognitive therapy, because it helped me get to a point where I was healed enough that I could not only seek God, but also let Him in. It was an awareness of and faith in God's existence that ultimately healed me from suicidal depression, in October 1999.
Friday, December 31, 2004
A British medical journal reports that Prozac can increase users' risk of suicide attempts and violence.
Thursday, December 30, 2004
I'm going to stay in tomorrow night, so I'd like to continue a tradition that I started last year: to take some time out on New Year's Eve for intercessory prayer.
I'm already praying for my country and its troops, plus Israel, Iraq, and world peace in general, as well as for the tsunami victims and the relief workers who are helping them. What I'd really like to do in addition to that is to pray for God to bless you in the New Year.
If you'd like me to pray for you, drop me a line at dawn -at- dawneden.com (replacing the spam-foiling "-at-" with an atsign). You don't have to write your name or anything else in the e-mail if you don't want to; just put "Prayer request" in the header and I'll pray for the person who sent it.
If you'd like me to pray for anything specific for you or your friends and family, I'll pray for that too, according to God's will.
If you're reading this after New Year's Eve and want a prayer, my offer still stands. But I'd most like to receive requests by 10 p.m. New Year's Eve, as I'll have some time before going to bed, and it would be a blessing for me to be able to welcome the New Year with prayers for others whom I know want them.
An e-mail pal who's going to the inauguration wrote to his friends asking if they could suggest a slogan he could put on buttons for himself and other W. supporters, to annoy the protesters at the event.
Remembering Elvis—and Phil Ochs—I suggested:
"59.1 Million Voters Can't Be Wrong"
Janjan of With Issue spies on her teenage daughter and her friends. Specifically, she reads their LiveJournal entries and comments (and quotes a four-letter word from one) What she sees in the friends' journals' is a window into permissive parenting:
Many of the kids whose journals I see catalog a miserable life spent trying to make sense out of their disfunctional families. Actually it is heartbreaking to see how many cases of arrested development are masquerading as responsible adults. I see the inner thoughts of kids whose upbringing has been bereft of guidelines, rules and God. Kids whose parents are so busy "self actualizing" their children are involved in things which should make your hair curl, right under the radar.If I'd ever wondered what Andrea of Twisted Spinster would be like as a mother of a teenage girl, now I think I know.
Why does this affect me? These idiots have made my job difficult and it ticks me off.
Xavier of the trilingual blog Buscaraons forwards a story from Santificarnos that slipped my notice. It's a harrowing account of a legal attempt in Spain to force an abortion on a 27-year-old mentally handicapped woman because her parents don't want her to have the child.
Thank you for mentioning us on your site. Because of you and Midwest Conservative Journal, among one or two others, we were able to raise about $600.00 online yesterday. Local contributions bring the totalPenitent's rector, who is from Chennai, will travel to the region in January to oversee the distribution of the aid. To donate to the effort, visit the St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church Tsunami Relief Web site.
to $3,164.11 to date.
Watching Jacques Demy's musical fairy tale "Donkey Skin" last night at Film Forum, I was reminded of a story about Esther Ralston, the actress who played Mrs. Darling in the silent-film version of "Peter Pan." She was only 22 when director Herbert Brenon chose her for the role, and she told him that she feared audiences wouldn't accept her as the mother of the three Darling children.
The director responded, if I recall correctly, that the film's story was a children's fantasy, and all little children believe their mother is young and beautiful.
That's the charm of "Donkey Skin," a French film which I saw with English subtitles. Although the film, based on a Charles Perrault fairy tale, is often hard going, with corny humor and tawdry early-'70s sets that put the "Carol Burnett Show" designers to shame, it has moments of joyous, childlike innocence and—best of all—a child's logic.
The film won me over during the dream sequence, when the prince (Jacques Perrin—a gorgeous Frenchman in the kind of overgrown Beatle cut that you see on today's club kids) and the princess (Catherine Deneuve with about three feet of flaxen hair extensions) are doing the requisite early-'70s running-in-slow-motion-through-a-field-and-singing-to-each-other bit.
As they sing the soaring Michel Legrand-penned anthem, the subtitles come up and—what's this?
"We will do forbidden things.
"We will go to the snack bar!"
I could not believe my eyes. Could it be...?
YES! The next thing you know, there's a DESSERT TABLE in the middle of the field. It's long, with a white tablecloth and everything—just like I remember from the Oneg Shabbats* of my childhood. Looking at it, although I couldn't tell, I was absolutely certain that the goodies on it included those dark-chocolate-covered cakes with the pink, green, and white layers that I remember so well.
The joyously happy couple proceeds to eat from "le snack bar"—not in a gluttonous or erotic way (this isn't a "Grande Bouffé" for the Asterix set), but like a pair of kids exulting in being able to do something "forbidden."
Watching it, I felt this sense of exhilaration. Suddenly it was almost 20 years ago and I was back in college, eating the Matterhorn at Swensen's with a cute Monkees fan.
And I thought, when was the last time that I went on a date with a man who really enjoyed having a shared food experience with me?
So I have resolved, this will be my litmus test from now on. It takes time to learn if a man shares my faith, my values, or my interests. But it's easy to find out from the start how enthusiastic a love interest will be if I say:
"Let's do forbidden things.
"Let's go to the snack bar."
*Oneg Shabbat = post-synagogue-service coffee hour
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
One of my landlady's sons is putting in a new gas heater as I write, and his son, who is probably around 11, is bored.
"Excuse me," the boy said to me, "do you have any books?"
I LOVE hearing a kid ask that.
He is now sitting, apparently content, with one of my original, yellowed 1950s Peanuts books. I told him not to worry if he accidentally tears a page—it's an old book.
Mark Kellner writes in "CNN STILL Hates America—and Americans" that one of the network's correspondents is using the tsunami disaster to accuse Americans of lacking compassion.
I recommend reading the whole post, from the CNN transcript through Mark's conclusion. The issue is not that "compassion fatigue" is a good thing, but that the factors that contribute to it are real. Those factors include the fact that America itself is still recovering from disasters, and that foreign countries—particularly Muslim ones—are notoriously ungrateful for our aid. To deny aid on them is wrong, but to accuse Americans of lacking compassion simply for stating that those factors exist is wronger still. They represent issues that must be addressed—if not now, then in the future.
Mark observes that it's America's unparalleled generosity that makes CNN's criticism so utterly petty and punitive:
The U.S. government donated $2.4 billion in disaster relief last year, some 40-percent of such relief given worldwide. Already, the U.S. has pledged $35 million to victims of the tsunamis, versus a whopping $136,000 from that bastion of freedom and compassion, La Belle France.
And, this doesn't include private, non-governmental charities including ADRA International as well as The Salvation Army. Each of these charities deserve your support, and that's why these are "live" links to each group's Web site.
At the same time, I think it's foolish not to realize there can be a level of "compassion fatigue" that attends to repeated relief efforts originating in America when recipients later deride those who try to help. It may not be the most admirable of attiudes, but it's understandable to those of us who have lived more than a few years on this planet, and who believe in some concept of reciprocity. No, we're not expecting repayment for our charity, but a little clear-headed commentary would be nice.
The Penitent Blogger writes about her church's campaign to aid tsunami victims in Chennai, India. The church's rector is from that region and is "in contact with his mentor in India, who informs him that the Chennai region has been devastated, and as of yesterday at least 500 children have had their houses washed away and are left with absolutely nothing."
This sounds like a campaign where the money donated will go directly to people who need it. To donate, visit the St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church Tsunami Relief Web site.
Note:* If you're mindful of the fact that the tax year is almost over, and you wish to make sure that your donation is tax-deductible, you may wish to donate to the church via regular mail (their address is on their Web site) rather than via their site's link to PayPal, as its PayPal account is in the name of a parishioner. If, however, you're not concerned about having proof of the donation to the church for taxes, then the PayPal account is the quickest way to help.
*UPDATE: It is possible to get a tax-deductible receipt for a PayPal donation as well—see Penitent Blogger's comment (posted under my name).
In 2005, I resolve not to mouth-kiss any man who is not in or on the precipice of a committed relationship with me.
Hand-holding is OK.
Sex is right out.
I also resolve to be more conscious of my eyelash-flitting and hair-tossing at love interests, and—once aware—will resist doing them unless I am seriously interested in the object of the flitting and tossing.
And I continue my resolution to resist fantasizing about men—at least, not men who are still alive. I have given up all efforts to resist fantasizing about 1940s and early-1950s Orson Welles, and mid-1960s Phil Ochs; however, I am happy to report that I have not gotten beyond first base with them in a long time.
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Today marks four months since we got a new boss at Business Week Online, Kathy Rebello. Top management decided it was time for a change, someone new who could chart a future course into the bright digital future. I honestly have no opinion about her as a person because thus far she has been unable to chart a course even as far as my desk. In four months, she hasn't spoken a single word to me. I don't like to form snap judgements based on insufficient information, but I believe I now know enough at least to say that, whatever her other abilities, she hasn't got the slightest curiosity about the little people who work for her. After several years of demoralizing Internet-bust cutbacks, we're down to maybe 20 people on the whole web site, which means that in an hour a week she could have had lunch with almost everybody on the staff in ones and twos by now.In the sidebar, which lists the number of days that his boss has not even spoken to him—currently 231 and counting—he observes,
I'm trying to show a lot of understanding, because, supposing she had to meet every single one of the approximately 20 people in the department, and she met us at a rate of one every 11.6 days, and I was the absolute lowest priority in the whole department (which is very possible), then she would just be getting around to me ... um ... tomorrow. That's a hopeful thought.
Bonnie, a homeschooling mother of three, makes some insightful observations about C.S. Lewis's humility in her blog Off the Top. She also highlights several passages about human and divine justice from Lewis's Reflections on the Psalms.
On the NARAL Pro-Choice America blog, Jessica Valenti, mentioning an effort in Congress to make it illegal to transport a minor across state lines to have an abortion, writes:
Sigh. When will the f[-----] up logic ever stop? How is a minor not old enough to make the decision to have an abortion, but old enough to have a baby? Please.For the same reason a minor is old enough to grow breasts, but not old enough to walk into a hospital and demand the doctors lop the things off. (NARAL's buddies at Planned Parenthood Teenwire are doing their part to encourage teens to get that medical procedure as well.)
Saner pro-choicers like Joe Kelley acknowledge the lunacy of states' making abortion the only medical procedure for which a minor does not require a parent's permission. Kelley quotes Cam Edwards, who writes:
So let me get this straight: I have to get a phone call from my son's school before they can give him an aspirin, but I'm not allowed to get a phone call from my daughter's doctor before they perform an abortion?
Congratulations to Jeff Geerling for all the great press he's been getting for the PROLIFE wristband he and his sister created, which is sold for $1 to benefit pro-life nonprofits. The last I heard, the first batch of 10,000 wristbands had just about sold out, and a second batch was on the way.
Interestingly, no sooner did the Geerling siblings come up with the PROLIFE wristband, than Moloch came up with one of his own. It's violent—I mean, violet—made by the Ben & Jerry's-funded group Working for Change, and benefits the usual suspects—Planned Parenthood, NARAL, the ACLU.
Ironically, for the wristbands' slogan, Working for Change chose "NEVER SURRENDER"—the words most famously spoken by Winston Churchill in his 1940 speech before the House of Commons. In that speech, Churchill held out the solid hope that America would use its force to rescue Europe from the clutches of the Nazis, a group which forced abortions on "undesirable" ethnic groups. The Nazis' eugenic actions were watched closely, chronicled, and encouraged by Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, who in 1939 embarked upon her own plan for cutting down an "undesirable" ethnic population.
At any rate, coming from Planned Parenthood, NARAL, et al, I would take the "NEVER SURRENDER" slogan with a grain of salt. After all, when it came to toppling Saddam, they were all on the side of the cheese-eating surrender monkeys.
TRACKBACK: Jeff Miller of The Curt Jester delves into the online headquarters of Never Surrender. I love his encapsulation of the Ben & Jerry's philosophy: "I Scream, You Scream, Silent Scream."
During Fr. Bryce Sibley's recent New York City visit, I had the great pleasure of attending a holiday party with him as well as the vivacious, flame-haired Karen Hanley and her husband Gerard (holding Karen's fur). This is how I keep the first half of my title of Petite Powerhouse—by standing next to Very Tall People. For the first time, I can understand why blogger Dave Munger calls me "elfin." Anyway, I'm glad to have this reminder of a lovely evening. (P.S. The women at the party were duly impressed that I managed to get extra mileage out of a bridesmaid's dress.)
UPDATE: Because Fr. Bryce has sent his readers this way, I've uploaded a larger version of the photo—click on the image to see it.
Via Beatrice.com comes this link that will be a great relief to anyone who's tried to access a news article online, only to be stymied by the registration requirement: BugMeNot.com is a clearinghouse for registration usernames and passwords. You go to BugMeNot and enter the URL of the story you want to read; the site gives you the username and password that someone has contributed for that site. It saves those of us who don't want to get on Web sites' spam lists from having to give our e-mail addresses to them.
Needless to say, there are a number of ethical questions involved with such a service. Since online newspapers already have advertising that I read when I am on their sites, I don't feel that I am depriving them of income when I don't register. And the "free" registration really costs me in terms of time spent deleting spam and trying to get off of spam lists.
TRACKBACK: Dean's Journal swears by BugMeNot...well, not exactly...
Monday, December 27, 2004
On New Year's morning, I am joining my friend Janet to volunteer for Caring Community, packing and delivering lunches to elderly shut-ins. It's possible that the charity may need more volunteers. If you would like to help as well (from about 10:00 a.m. to noon), e-mail me—dawn -at- dawneden.com—and I'll forward your e-mail to the charity. This invitation is open only to personal friends or friends of friends of mine, as I have to vouch for whomever I refer.
Bioethics journalist has an excellent piece in TechCentralStation on "Quiet Breakthroughs in Africa's War on AIDS," demonstrating that the secret of Uganda's success in lowering HIV infection rates "has not been mass distribution of condoms, but aggressive marketing of abstinence."
"Inmate Gives Big Hairy Gift to Children"
As my boss noted, "Is that what he's in for?"
An article in today's Kentucky Post on Kentuckians' favorite Christmas gifts features this tidbit about Planned Parenthood Cincinnati Region CEO Sue Momeyer:
Her best Christmas gift is seeing the excitement on the faces and the joy of the season in the eyes of her three grandchildren. "Just the fun of having grandchildren and seeing how much they appreciate funny little things -- it doesn't have to be fancy or expensive," she said.She probably never thinks about the thousands of women whose grandchildren's bodies are up in incinerator smoke this Christmas—thanks directly to her.
Al Jolson rocks my world.
I mean it.
I'm still getting over seeing "The Jazz Singer" for the first time last week. The most startling revelation was watching him do "Toot-Toot-Tootsie." His pelvis never stops moving.
Back and forth. Around and around. The whole song. Meanwhile, he's got the lateral moves down—his feet are sweeping the floor with a slick gracefulness that James Brown would envy—and his voice has a Louis Armstrong trumpet edge as he wails, "If you don't get a letter, then you know I'm in jail!"
It made me realize that there was nothing fundamentally new in the young Elvis Presley's act. All those hip-sways and pelvic thrusts that made Ed Sullivan shoot him from the waist up, those soulful vocal inflections—it had all been done before.
You could say Presley was more dangerous to the nation's youth in that, being better-looking than Jolson and comparatively limited as a singer, he centered his act on his erotic appeal. In that sense, he helped spearhead the loosening of sexual mores. And likewise, you could say that Presley brought an electric style of live performance to a generation that had never had its own Jolson.
But if you watch Jolson's "Toot-Toot-Tootsie" (a clip of it's buried in an unlinkable section of his fan site—click on "His Works," then "Films," then "The Jazz Singer"), it's clear that the most supposedly radical aspect of Presley's act was actually older than he was.
As for the blackface that Jolson wore in other parts of "The Jazz Singer," I find that far less offensive than today's version—Eminem's and other white rappers' aping the black "gangsta" look in every way but the color of their skin. Jolson, by contrast, wore the dark skin, but beneath it was the persona of a good-hearted, law-abiding man. I'll take his "Mammy" over Eminem's "mutha" any day.
I just did something I haven't done in a year or so: put disc 2 of the Rhino Grass Roots Anthology into my CD player, programmed "Lovin' Things," "Heaven Knows," and "Temptation Eyes," and hit "repeat."
We will see how long I can last before I get tired of the tunes. I'm betting a half hour. But it could be days.
Sunday, December 26, 2004
The Boston Herald reports the beautiful yet chilling story of Bill DiPasquale, who recently came out of a coma. He had been in that state since December 2, when he tried to drink himself to death after getting fired from his waiter job.
Word came to DiPasquale's friend and fellow waiter, Ralph Nash, that DiPasquale's boss, Charlie Sarkis, had told a friend of the patient, "You tell him to wake up, get out of bed, and get his ass back to work."
So Nash, sitting at DiPasquale's bedside, leaned close to his ear and said, "Charlie says to get out of bed and get your ass back to work."
Five minutes later, DiPasquale awoke whispering, "I've got to get to work."
The story could end there. DiPasquale is making a miraculous recovery, telling the Herald, "I think God said it's not my time yet. I feel like I've been given two strikes by God. He's telling me, 'Now, if you want to be struck out, have another drink.' It will not happen...The show must go on."
But there's one more element of the story, which sticks out of the Herald's account like a scythe.
Just before Nash came to whisper the words of the DiPasquale's boss into his ear, DiPasquale's family—heeding the words of the doctors, who said "it may be too late"—had allowed the hospital to cut off his life support.
The story doesn't say whether the family asked the hospital to continue to feed Pasquale, but I suspect—because no continued feeding is mentioned—that the answer is no.
God gave Bill DiPasquale a new lease on life. We can only hope that He gives Pasquale's family members, and the doctors who treated him, a new understanding of how precious life is—and what a terrible sin it is to take it away.
For more coverage of life issues, including the Terri Schiavo case, visit MediaCulpa.
Saturday, December 25, 2004
I wrote "the wood" (the main front-page headline—so called because its humongous letters used to be made with wooden type) for the first time today. It's for a story on New York City policemen pitching in to bring Christmas cheer to a homeless widow and her nine kids: "JINGLE BELL COPS". My first idea was "BLUE CHRISTMAS"—a co-worker suggested putting an NYPD badge inside the "U"—but the editors thought that was too sad.
It's a great relief to have finally come up with a wood. I've been working at the paper for nearly three years (when I started part-time) and whenever I tell people I write headlines for it, they always say, "Oh, you write the front page?" And I always say, "No, just the headlines inside—the editors write the front-page ones," and it sounded so insignificant. Now I can just answer with a "yes."
It's just like when I wrote liner notes for CDs. I'd been writing them for years—over 80 of them (here's a partial list)—yet whenever I would tell people I was a liner-note writer, they'd say, "For Rhino? And I'd have to say, "No, for Sony, BMG, PolyGram, Capitol, EMI—" but it didn't matter to them...until I finally got in at the best-known reissue label.
"Hag Sameach" (pronounced with the guttural "ch") is Hebrew for "Happy Holiday," and while that greeting may be generic, it expresses the feeling of many American Jews that today is a holiday—and not just a chance to get off of work.
Kevin McCullough observes in his WorldNetDaily column that one group has been noticeably silent in the debate over religious symbols this Christmas season—observant Jews. On the contrary, such Jews are more likely than most Americans to realize the importance of allowing faith a place in public life.
I've noticed it myself here in New York City—several Jewish friends and co-workers wished me Merry Christmas today, and I don't think it's just because they knew that I'm Christian and are being polite. It's because they appreciate the fact that today has a beautiful spiritual meaning for me and others—and they too are touched by the setting aside of a day to hope and pray for peace on earth and good will towards men.
The problem with the anti-Christmas thugs is that while they claim to represent an "inclusive picture" of what America needs to be – they are in fact creating a Godless America that Americans themselves do not want.When my former high school banned religious music at holiday concerts, it didn't just ban Christian music. It banned Jewish music and any music that might be associated with a religious holiday—even instrumentals. In the name of "understanding," the secularists would ban children from gaining an understanding of the most fundamental aspect of their schoolmates—their faith.
Something in the Pope's Christmas message made me do a double take:
"The Pope, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease and no longer walks, asked the infant Jesus to encourage attempts to promote dialogue and reconciliation and to sustain peace efforts."
If that statement is accurate, could someone familiar with Roman Catholic theology please tell me why the Pope would make a request of the infant Jesus, rather than just Jesus? Not knowing what he meant, it seems strange to me to make a request of someone at a stage of their life that they've already passed.
UPDATE: Two answers have come in, both very helpful. John Brown SJ writes:
It is common for Catholics to have a devotion to a particular image or name that highlights an aspect of the person they are making a prayer request to. Christ on the cross in times of agony, Our Lady of Guadalupe as Patroness of the Americas, the Sacred Heart or an icon of Christ holding up two fingers teaching wisdom are some examples you might be more familiar with.Jeff Geerling refers me to what I'd call a Child Jesus fan page which states:
I am assuming that because it is the start of the Christmas season, JPII is associating his call for peace with all there is that was so vulnerable about the infant Jesus and all the responsibility that Mary and Joseph had to keep the Christ child safe. Picturing the all-dazzling, transfigured and glorified Christ coming down from on high might not promote the same interior sentiment that the peaceful infant Jesus in the crib would.
I think the concept is less theological and more devotional and/or stylistic.
Devotion to the Child Jesus is devotion to the reality of the Incarnation. A few of our separated brethren may object that "Jesus isn't a helpless little baby anymore", so we shouldn't depict Him as such or have a devotion to His Infancy. But the fact is that our God did become truly human and entered this world as a baby. This is how He chose to begin His saving mission on earth. St. Paul marvels at how Christ "emptied Himself" in the Incarnation, and we who love Him marvel as well. That is why we celebrate His Holy Infancy alongside His Death and Resurrection; the former made the latter possible!
Many thanks to JD King for the beautiful new Dawn Patrol caricature (the old one, by David Chelsea, still has a place of honor—just further down the page). Thanks too, very much, to Jeff Geerling and Saint Kansas's Brett Taylor for their technical help with getting the new image up and properly sized.
U.S. Air Force Capt. Steven Givler was recently moved from Iraq to a base in Qatar. He sends the following Christmas photo, photo caption, and message (if you're like me, you'll need tissues for the latter). Please include him and all our troops and their families in your prayers:
"The tree is made of clothes hangers, straightened out and taped together into a trunk, then bent down as branches. We have a surplus of hangers here. There are no laundry facilities for us to wash our own things, so we have to send them out (I know, it sounds more like a luxury than a complaint) and everything comes back on hangers so they're everywhere."
Last night I walked the nearly two miles from the compound where I work to our squadron. I could have signed out a truck and driven there, but it was a beautiful night and the walk provided an opportunity for some solitude. The waxing moon outshined all but the brightest stars, and cast its light across a far-flung layer of thin, high cloud. My walk carried me past a large spherical antenna shelter. The moonlight gleamed on the top and faded down the curving sides. In the darkness, the shelter seemed to be a planet, reflecting the light of its small silver sun.
I had a cigar in my pocket, and paused a moment to light it. Then, marked by its glowing orange tip and a wreath of silver smoke, I left the road, cutting across a broad, dark patch of desert. Had I not walked this route before in daylight, I wouldn't have done it last night in the dark. Concertina wire, which is the tinsel of deployed bases, is invisible in the dark, and once wandered into, is difficult to get out of without leaving something precious behind.
Absent razor wire though, the desert is a beautiful place at night. Having no particular schedule to keep, I sat for a bit on a rock, accompanied only by the darkness, the silence, and a tiny desert fox that flirted with the limits of my peripheral vision. On a night like this, not far from here and not particularly long ago, shepherds keeping watch over their flocks were amazed by the sight of a heavenly host. Angels shouted, trumpets sounded, and the word went out. The world is changed forever.
On the distant end of a momentarily forgotten runway, a pair of fighters lit their afterburners. They shattered the silence and leaped into the sky, trailing 20-foot cones of pink flame. No angels for me this night (none that I can see) but I am no less aware of Christmas for the lack of them. This night, this place, my circumstances - as foreign and as far removed as they are >from the Christmases I have known, they are somehow appropriate. Christmas exits outside the presents, the trees, and even the company of my family.
Maybe that explains what happened on this day during the First World War. The German troops, facing the British across a blasted landscape, caroled them with Stille Nacht. The British answered with a carol of their own. The Germans sang another, and as Christmas Eve wore on, the night was filled with songs, back and forth across no-man's land, celebrating something that transcended even war. On Christmas day, a small number of Germans climbed from their trenches. With one exception, they held their hands in the air. In the center of no-man's land, the man with his hands in front of him dropped his burden. It was a soccer ball.
The day was filled with games. Schnapps and whiskey were exchanged. Men who had faced each other across the most brutal battlefield known to man laughed and ran and drank together like brothers. Even for those men, whose world was bounded by machine guns, barbed wire and slaughter, Christmas was transcendent.
We won't be playing soccer with terrorists over here. We won't share any sense of brotherhood with them. Our religions and their conduct of war preclude that. Still, Christmas is here. This evening the open space outside the chow hall was covered with tables and chairs, and burgers and hotdogs smoked over charcoal grills. We ate under the same sky I noted last night, while the general and the chief handed out stockings filled with gifts.
After supper two of my colleagues and I retired to the smoking area - a dusty corner protected by 12 foot high concrete barriers - for a Christmas Eve cigar. (I know, that's two cigars in as many days, but it's Christmas.) We were surprised to find that the camo netting overhead, through which the silver moonlight filtered, was strung with Christmas lights. Someone had spread Astroturf over the gravel and set out chairs, and from a radio came Christmas carols. I might have failed to notice these improvements were we at home, or noticing them, failed to be affected. Here though, they mean a lot to me.
When we finished smoking and talking to the airmen gathered there, we wished them all a Merry Christmas and returned to the facility where we work. On entering, we were arrested by the sound of a flute. On the operations floor, below the many screens showing maps and aircraft, and video footage from our unmanned surveillance aircraft, a group of carolers was finishing Oh Come Oh Come Emanuel.
Normally I can't decide what I want for Christmas, but this year I know exactly. To read again to my children. To say their prayers and put them to bed. To spend a quiet evening with my wife and, when the evening is over, to peer into our little ones' darkened rooms and listen to the softness of their breathing. I will have those things. It will take a little while, but don't feel bad about that. As with many things, the waiting will make the realization that much better.
I've long been a little cynical about decorations and carols and wishing people Merry Christmas. Not long ago I told a friend that I wasn't sure why we made such a big production out of the day. Easter I understand, because Jesus' resurrection seems to me so much more miraculous than His birth. But I've come to revise that philosophy. The angels who appeared to the shepherds clearly thought Jesus' birth warranted celebration on a grand scale. I find, now, that I am inclined to agree. That alone might be worth the trip.
A dear friend of mine wrote to me early this morning:
"Hope you get everything you want for Christmas -- although your stocking's probably not big enough to hold him. (I think Santa would run afoul of human trafficking laws if he tried to make that sort of delivery.)"
I can't blame my friend for thinking that's what I want for Christmas—I certainly spill enough blog ink and use enough breath talking about wanting to be married. But, other than wishing that I had a husband in the here and now to go to services with and watch the Yule Log on TV, that's actually not what's uppermost in my prayers for myself this Christmas.
What I want is something I think most people want—peace of mind. I'd like to be better able to accept what God has for me without so often wanting something different, and I'd like to be more loving and appreciative of the people in my life, rather than being critical or taking them for granted.
God has, over the years, given me a great deal more peace of mind than I had in the past. But I still long for a greater understanding and experience of His peace, the kind that is "not as the world giveth."
The other main thing I want is to be better reconciled to God's will for me—to have a better understanding of it, and to walk in the way He wants me to walk. I believe, and experience has shown, that this is the only way I can truly be happy.
Just discovered View of the Republic, a blog run by one "Jay Gatsby," who says he's a 17-year-old student from Trenton, N.J. (and I have no cause to doubt him).
Jay's clearly of the Protest Warrior generation; it's encouraging to read how someone his age who's examining and thinking through conservative ideas. "I used to be a liberal (yeah, gasp, I know) but turned conservative after becoming more interested in politics around 9th grade," he writes. "I just know what makes sense, and it's not the left."
Check out his "Journalistic Treason" entry, about how Associated Press photographers rejoice at being able to capture thugs' executions of those working to free Iraq from terror. (Not that I think other agencies' photographers are necessarily any better.)
Friday, December 24, 2004
Thanks to Dean's Journal, I have recently had the pleasure of discovering BlameBush!—rather late in the game, I'm afraid, but that's what happens when one spends one's days reading a few favorite blogs. The entry that Dean noted, "Crazy Freak Fetus Resembles Human Baby" (which, unlike many of the site's other entries, is profanity-free), is a perfectly done satire on all those wacky Planned Parenthood sites that I comb for Dawn Patrol material.
I saw the original version of "The Jazz Singer" for the first time last night and, besides being instantly transformed into an Al Jolson fanatic (which is kind of scary), I was struck by its thematic similarity to the religious or quasi-religious "quest" films of a later age, like the "Lord of the Rings" and "Matrix" trilogies.
What all those films have in common, as well as G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday plus C.S. Lewis's Narnia books and That Hideous Strength, is the sense not only of conflict between a faith community and a worldly or materialistic community, but also a sense that the faith community appears hopelessly backward. It's small, its leaders are aging, it lacks power, and its members are often reduced to bickering. Yet, for all its flaws, it possesses the Truth—and it's for the sake of that Truth that the story's hero endures great suffering and sacrifice.
I won't divulge "The Jazz Singer"'s plot if you haven't seen it (though, I warn you, the kind folks at United Artist saw fit to give away the ending on the video's box), but I was struck by how it contrasted the image of the aging Jews from the Lower East Side ghetto with the glittery and glamorous Broadway performers. There's no reason for Jolson's character to sympathize with them—as everyone keeps reminding him, he's no longer a mere cantor's son, but a jazz singer. Yet they have something that he doesn't—and he fears that in gaining the world he'll lose his soul.
I think that's one of the reasons why "The Jazz Singer" was such a hugely successful film—besides its ushering in the era of "talkies" and featuring the wildly popular Jolson. The Jews in the film don't represent Judaism as opposed to Christianity, but faith in God as opposed to secularism. They are a reminder that such faith communities, however imperfect, have something—and that one, small thing is more important than the whole world. It's a good thing to remember on Christmas.
I wish you and yours a blessed Christmas.
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Today Dustbury linked to a Flash video of a Tom Lehrer song which was apparently authorized by Lehrer, who reportedly asked that its proceeds go to "progressive causes" like the ACLU. The Flash animator also includes several liberal links on the site, like an Air America plug and the requisite Google-bomb link of our president's name to "miserable failure."
While I realize Lehrer's liberal cred is unmistakable—this is, after all, a man who gleefully made fun of family-oriented institutions like the Boy Scouts, and slammed U.S. interventionist tactics—I'm sorry to see him identified with today's blinders-on liberals. Many of Lehrer's classic songs show a distaste for political correctness and reform-for-reform's-sake that would earn him the revulsion of the Air America crowd—if they could understand that his barbs were directed at people just like them.
A prime example is "National Brotherhood Week," which rivals Phil Ochs's "Love Me, I'm a Liberal" in its damning satire of liberals' hypocrisy and their push to get goverment involved in making people nicer to each other—something we see today in the attempts to push hate-crime laws that would make it illegal to read from the Bible. Lehrer introduced the song saying, "One week of every year is designated National Brotherhood Week. This is just one of many such weeks honoring various worthy causes. One of my favorites is National Make-Fun-Of-The-Handicapped Week, which Frank Fontaine and Jerry Lewis are in charge of as you know. During National Brotherhood Week various special events are arranged to drive home the message of brotherhood—this year, for example, on the first day of the week, Malcolm X was killed, which gives you an idea of how effective the whole thing is."
Lehrer also wasn't afraid to attack liberal ideologies if he felt they were wrong or just plain silly—like his hilarious exposiition on the "New Math," which accurately pointed out that the point of it was to understand what you're doing,rather than to get the right answer. And I can't think of any liberal comic today who, in doing a satire on the Roman Catholic Church, would choose to satirize not its tradition—but its altering tradition. (That tune also had the side effect of teaching hundreds of thousands of non-Catholic kids the word "transubstantiate.")
A newsman on WCBS-AM just announced a story about a scandal at the New Jersey acting governor's whimsically named mansion.
It was gloriously clear from the way the announcer pronounced the abode's name that he just loved the opportunity to say "Drumthwacket."
I've been trying to think of something to write today that shares something more meaningful than just a comment on the news, and I'm coming up blank. Perhaps it's because I keep thinking about how I'd better get some sleep before PSE&G comes to (hopefully) fix my apartment's "Honeymooners"-era gas heater this morning (I've been getting by on space heaters). But as it happens, Karen of Lent & Beyond has sent a link to a beautiful and deep post by a young woman who says what I'd like to say. And The Happy Homemaker sends another one. So enjoy those and hang on 'til I get rested and heated...
Also, coming very soon—what promises to be a wonderful new Dawn Patrol caricature, by the great JD King.
Sarah responds to Ian, who commented on my post about He's Just Not That Into You ("I Love a Cheerful Giver"):
My husband and I (30 when we got married) both waited for marriage to have sex. We were not in the same church when we met.
Why? I was committed to my future husband even when I did not know who he was yet. My husband was committed to me even when he did not know who I was yet. A marriage can be broken every day up to the time you say "I Do" -- my sister married a fellow who was already engaged when she met him.
Oh, there's another couple. My sister and her husband waited for marriage as well. (And my husband and her husband are not related)
What I find sad is that Ian says he is a Christian yet finds the world's acceptance of premarital sex more compelling than the Bible's insistence on purity -- which includes no sex outside of marriage (for both singles and married folk)
I probably found it easier than some to avoid sex outside of marriage because I simply did not hang around with and encourage guys who had the attitude that it was okay. My husband was my first serious boyfriend for this reason (because my attitude was I would not date who I would not marry). Perhaps this is part of the problem. with Ian's attitude, he won't attract the kind of woman who is committed to her future marriage so much she isn't interested in momentary pleasures today. So therefore, he seems to think they don't exist.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Just saw the Hitchcock film "Strangers on a Train" for the first time, at the Film Forum's noir festival, and had my first-ever cinematic impression of the old Penn Station. Now I know what people are talking about when they say what a crime it was to tear that building down. I got angry just thinking about it as I saw the stunning interior, with its towering columns. You can learn more about the old Penn Station and a few surprising remnants of it that dot New York City today, on the Forgotten NY page "The End of Penn Station."
Kevin Walsh wrote me the following words about yesterday's story of the "wrongful-life" suit. While I respectfully disagree with him about the death penalty (I believe while it may often be wrong in practice, it's right in theory), his larger point is right on:
There's an acclaimed movie out now about a paraplegic played by Javier Bardem struggling to be allowed to die (with dignity, I imagine.)
I wonder if Hollywood would ever do a film set in some future age about a time when euthanasia for the old and ill were the rule, and a paraplegic or even a 70+ guy, faced with the fatal injection, struggled to keep himself ALIVE?
Hey, could "Logan's Run" be made today?
One of my main tropes is that death is increasingly getting to be too much the solution, from terrorism, to abortion, to euthanasia, to the death penalty. I see it as all part of a theme.
If you need a smile this afternoon, Xenofile has a very funny piece about the ultra-creepy Screen Gems closing-theme music—known to pop-culture buffs as the S From Hell. [Note: That's not necessarily a work-safe link: The word "cr-p" appears alongside the post, and there's stronger language elsewhere on the blog.] As a bonus, Xenofile links to my own post about an even creepier theme—the bizarre music that opened the talking-heads show "The Open Mind."
On page 325 of the Regnery edition of Whittaker Chambers' Witness, the author—a longtime Communist who eventually renounced the party and brought down one of its major spies—tells how his life was changed when he faced the prospect of aborting his child. It is a deeply moving story and I would like to share it with you today.
Chambers himself, at the time that he got married, had no desire for children. His family had seen a great deal of depression and other mental illness—his brother committed suicide—and he feared perpetuating such misery. Moreover, he believed, as did an extreme Communist faction, that it would be wrong from a party standpoint for him to have children, as they could only "hamper or distract" his work.
Even though abortion was illegal in the New York City of the 1930s where Chambers did his illicit work, it "was a commonplace of party life." He writes:
There were Communist doctors who rendered that service for a small fee. Communists who were more choosy knew liberal doctors who would render the same service for a larger fee. Abortion, which now fills me with physical horror, I then regarded, like all Communists, as a mere physical manipulation.
One day, early in 1933, my wife told me that she believed she had conceived. No man can hear from his wife, especially for the first time, that she is carrying his child, without a physical jolt of joy and pride. I felt it. But so sunk were we in that life that it was only a passing joy, and was succeeded by a merely momentary sadness that we would not have the child. We discussed the matter, and my wife said that she must go at once for a physical check and to arrange for the abortion.
When my wife came back[...]she was quiet and noncommittal. The doctor had said that there was a child. My wife went about preparing supper. "What else did she say?" I asked. "She said that I am in good physical shape to have a baby." My wife went on silently working. Very slowly, the truth dawned on me. "Do you mean," I asked, "that you want to have the child?"
My wife came over to me, took my hands, and burst into tears. "Dear heart," she said in a pleading voice, "we couldn't do that awful thing to a little baby, not to a little baby, dear heart." A wild joy swept me. Reason, the agony of my family, the Communist Party and its theories, the wars and revolutions of the 20th century, crumbled at the touch of the child. Both of us simply wanted a child. If the points on the long course of my break with Communism could be retraced, that is probably one of them—not at the level of the conscious mind, but at the level of unconscious life.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Air Force Capt. Steven Givler just sent his friends and family the following e-mail from Qatar, having just recently left Iraq:
I just heard we've lost some good people in Mosul. They were killed when the chow hall, a large, quasi tent-building, came under fire by rockets and mortars. Terrorists timed the attack to coincide with mealtime, so the place was full.
I mentioned that chow hall when I wrote about my trip to Mosul. I said I had the best manicotti I've ever eaten there. That seems like such a trivial observation now. What I should have mentioned were the smiling Turks who served the meal, the young soldiers who sat beside me while I ate. I wonder if they are still alive.
For many families, Christmas from now on will be a reminder of the loved ones who died in that attack. My heart goes out to them. I pray that God will comfort them, and that their loved ones are with Him now.
And that we will destroy the ones who did this.
I know, because I've heard this sort of argument at home, that people will be saying, "we have to get out of Iraq. Our boys are dying over there." And to that I say the only thing worse than our dying over here would be your dying over there. At home.
Remember when you hear about my brothers and sisters dying here that we are taking the battle to the enemy. He has obligingly concentrated his forces from many different nations into this small area, where we are steadily, unstoppably, killing them in their own back yard. Better that, than digging our brothers and sisters out from the ruins of another skyscraper.
Mourn the lives we lost today, but celebrate the fact that they died for what is right. They sacrificed themselves for others' freedom.
And don't let their loss detract from this special time. Instead, see it as proof positive that Americans, because of our heritage, have an instinctive understanding of the true meaning of Christmas, and it leads us to sacrifice so that others can be free.
Remember that scene in "The Incredibles" where the suicidal man sues the superhero who prevented him from leaping to his death?
The depiction was all too familiar in an age that is seeing an increasing number of "wrongful-life" lawsuits.
Thankfully, one such suit was just rejected by the South Carolina Supreme Court, as the Associated Press reports:
The South Carolina Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit that claimed a woman was denied the option to abort her disabled son because she was not told about the condition.There they go again. Planned Parenthood claims it's "up to [the] woman" to determine if she can "handle" a disabled child—and if not, kill it.
Jennie Willis of Marion County contends she would have legally aborted had she known when she was pregnant that most of his brain was missing, said her lawyer, O. Fayrell Furr Jr. of Myrtle Beach.
The lawsuit was filed by Willis on behalf of her now 8-year-old son, Thomas....
[T]he state's high court unanimously ruled Monday it recognizes the "extremely severe nature" of the boy's impairment, but it could not accept the "wrongful life" claim.
"Even a jury collectively imbued with the wisdom of Solomon would be unable to weigh the fact of being born with a defective condition against the fact of not being born at all," Associate Justice E.C. Burnett of Spartanburg wrote for the court. "It is simply beyond the human experience."
South Carolina joins 27 other states, including Georgia and North Carolina, that either reject or limit the "wrongful life" claim, the court said. California, Washington and New Jersey are the only states that allow such claims; the remaining states haven't taken a position.
Willis contended in court papers that Dr. Donald S. Wu, an obstetrician-gynecologist, failed to tell her about her son's condition in 1995 before the 24-week deadline under state law to have a legal abortion.
Wu in court papers said at the 22-week stage he informed Willis after her third ultrasound examination of a potential problem and ordered another test by a fetal specialist in Charleston.
But she refused to go, even after another examination a week later showed her son "lacked any significant brain," he said in court papers.
"The question I posed to the court was, `Where do you draw the line?'" said Stephen Brown, Wu's Charleston lawyer. "Is it (for example) a Down Syndrome case or a child who takes 20 diabetic shots a day?"...
"There are better ways, there are positive alternatives to dealing with people with disabilities than to get rid of them," said Holly Gatling, executive director of South Carolina Citizens for Life. This child was born less than perfect, but I would say who of us is not?"...
Brian Lewis, spokesman for Planned Parenthood of South Carolina, said Monday that expectant mothers should always be told, if possible, whether their children might be born with disabilities so they can decide whether to keep the child, seek adoption or have an abortion.
"It's up to that woman (to determine) where she is in her life, what her needs are, what she can or cannot handle," he said.
Read this mother's account of the baby she refused to abort. How cruel that Planned Parenthood and others would say the child should have been killed before birth to spare its mother grief. (As if an abortion actually could spare a mother grief—plenty of post-abortive women would give the lie to that.) Thank God that, as with this South Carolina case, there are still judges who refuse "to weigh the fact of being born with a defective condition against the fact of not being born at all."
Riding from work on the V train at 11 p.m. last night, my beloved copy of Witness preventing me from making eye contact with the few others in the subway car, I did a double take when I heard the conductor announce the next stop: "The main branch of the New York Public Library."
It was 42nd Street all right, but why would he announce the NYPL at 11 p.m.—when the building's closed for the night?
The delicious thought occurred to me that the mysterious, unseen voice was that rare and wonderful creature—the New York City subway conductor who actually loves his job.
My suspicion was borne out when the train reached the next stop and the conductor listed a host of points of interest—I just remember, "...and Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks, actually named after the Knickerbocker brewery. For more useless facts, see your conductor."
That was my stop, so I dashed out, found the conductor, shook his hand, and thanked him for the useless facts. I also recommended he read Forgotten NY.
Monday, December 20, 2004
Sunday, December 19, 2004
"You can be sure that as soon as the results of the Kinsey study are made public, the smart people in the Madison Avenue advertising firms will be all over it figuring out how to get women to make stupid decisions. If a woman can be tricked into making a stupid decision to have sex with a stranger, then surely there must be a way to get her to spend her money on products or services that she doesn't need, don't do what they claim to do, or are dangerous and stupid. And if they can get the taxpayers to fund the research to find out how to do it, so much the better."
Saturday, December 18, 2004
This Tuesday at 5 p.m., Bogota, N.J., mayor and gubernatorial candidate Steve Lonegan is sponsoring an "illegal" Christmas-caroling session outside my former high school—the same one I wrote about in my op-ed. God bless him. I wish I could be there.
Actually, this might just be the least-newsworthy published article of the year, period—not because of the tragic subject matter, but because some editor thought that the headline-celebrity still mattered:
"Kato Kaelin Mourns Loss of Nephew in Iraq"
Planned Parenthood President Gloria Feldt picked the wrong day to reaffirm the organization's commitment to partial-birth and late-term abortions.
The press release Feldt issued yesterday is worth quoting in its entirety:
An Open Letter to the Democratic National Committee from Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Gloria Feldt Regarding Comments Made by Former Congressman Tim RoemerHow extraordinarily shameless.
December 17, 2004
I was dismayed to hear former Congressman and DNC chair candidate Tim Roemer speak with John King on CNN last night about his plans for the Democratic Party. Rejecting his party's platform and core belief that women should have access to the reproductive health care they need, he said, "I personally don't think that we should have late-term abortions or partial birth abortions. I think that's a moral blind spot."
The phrase is familiar. Republican Congressman Bob Barr of Georgia once scolded me and several other pro-choice leaders with the very same words after we testified that reproductive health decisions should be made by women, their families, and their physicians, not by the government. Unfortunately, this instance of bipartisan consensus leaves women in the dark.
The real moral blind spot is the one that keeps lawmakers from seeing how restricting access to needed reproductive health care puts women's lives in danger.
The Democratic Party and its leadership should champion pro-choice values, and uphold the platform's stated commitment to women's rights and health. But this is about more than one party's platform. Reproductive rights are human rights. Regardless of their party affiliation, all our legislators should respect our human right to make our own childbearing decisions without government interference, our right to privacy in our medical and sexual lives, and our right to access to health care that makes the other rights meaningful.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
With this statement, Planned Parenthood is effectively giving up pretending that partial-birth abortions and late-term abortions don't brutally destroy viable babies. There's no longer any claim from them that such procedures are not cruel, inhumane, and utterly abhorrent. Their only defense is Feldt's squawking, like a broken record, "Reproductive rights are human rights."
That immediately spurs the answer, "What are reproductive rights, but the right to reproduce?" All women have reproductive rights—except those in China, whose government works in complicity with Planned Parenthood to force them to have abortions.
As for "human rights"—whose human rights? Roe vs. Wade states that a baby the age of the one that was ripped from its mother's womb yesterday has no human rights—so long as it's still in its mother's body. Is that morally right?
Think of that baby girl beginning her ninth month of development, who police found miraculously alive and apparently healthy. Think about the sighs of relief from men, women, and children across the world when the news went out that the baby was alive.
Now think of that same baby girl if she had been aborted at eight months, rather than stolen alive from her mother's womb. Does the girl suddenly go from being a baby to being an subhuman "thing" because she was killed in her mother's womb rather than removed from it? She's still the same baby. Yet, outside her mother's womb, she's a person, with human rights—and inside it, in Planned Parenthood's eyes, she's a mere extension of her mother, subject to mom's "reproductive rights."
The last word goes to Kevin O'Brien, who writes that he is appalled by the media's calling the live baby a "fetus":
Can't people see? Isn't this proof enough that this little varmint is a person, not a "blob of protoplasm?"And that path has a darkness that may be Feldt.
The monster that killed his mother -- now THAT's a blob of protoplasm. One of the many evil, degraded beings that will see the sun rise tomorrow only because I am not King! But you are not born a soulless blob of protoplasm. You become one, if you go down whatever dark path that creep took.
COMMENTS: Richard J. Stuart writes: "Ms. Feldt speaks eloquently in favor of libertarian values and keeping the governement out of peoples lives. Wonder if she has that same attitude on income taxes? No doubt she's also issued a press release praising President Bush for his efforts in freeing women from oppression by Iraq's former government. I'll expect a flying pig to deliver the text of her remarks."
Friday, December 17, 2004
The major greeting-card companies wish you a reverent, Happy Hanukkah; a reverent, Happy Kwanzaa; and a rude, scatological, farty, body-fluid-laden Christmas.
Syndicated columnist Bill Press argues that the United States is not a Christian nation, and Shock and Blog's Jinx McHue is having none of it. Read Jinx's fisking of Press's column, and then read Press's smug "response."
When I was growing up Jewish, I was offended when Falwell and others would call America a Christian nation. I am still offended when people use that or any other excuse to belittle people of other religions. But I now realize that America is a Christian nation, in that it was founded by believing Christians who based the country's principles and laws on God's word and God's laws. Bill Press is countering that not because he believes that Jews or Jehovah's Witnesses or Hindus, or even atheists are being oppressed. He is countering it because he is so against faith that he refuses to believe that men of faith could create a country such as ours. He is wrong.
Now that President Bush is no longer a candidate for office, Planned Parenthood is free to openly compare his administration to Nazi Germany. How ironic coming from an organization whose population-control tactics would make Josef Mengele blush. Like Margaret Sanger's Negro Project—which Planned Parenthood's Web site would tell you was "a unique experiment in race-building." That it was—for the white race.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
J.R. Taylor begins his nightlife column in the current New York Press with the story of his recent appearance on "Air America," where they'd invited him to discuss his piece on Matthew Shepard's killing. Then they rushed him off so they could have Shepard's mother on—and not have a debate between the two.
Taylor writes:Let me tell you about a mother you'll never hear speaking on Air America. Her name was Cindy Thompson Dixon, and her son was one of Matthew Shepard's murderers.
Cindy Thompson Dixon was killed the year after Shepard's death in a strikingly similar fashion. She was also raped. She wasn't a lesbian, though, so the same judge who gave her son a life sentence arranged it so that Dixon's murderer was out of jail in four years. That's why hate crime legislation is a joke—but you won't hear that on Air America, either.For more background on the Shepard and Dixon killings, read JoAnn Wypijewski's recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.
The pro-death former New Jersey governor and EPA head Christine Todd Whitman is hitting the talk-show circuit to publicize her upcoming book, the title of which cracks me up: It's My Party, Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of America.
For a former Bush official, she sure sounds a lot like Gore. No, not Al—Lesley.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
"How To Want More Sex More Of The Time."
That's the line greeting women at tens of thousands of grocery-store checkouts as I write this, blaring from the cover of Elle*. Not "How to Have More Sex," or "How to Have Better Sex." It's "How to Want More Sex." As though all humanity's problems could be solved if only we wanted to be more carnal—to intercourse one another upon meeting, say, instead of doing the traditional handshake.
How blue-state can you get?
The article by Laurie Abraham is actually a Kinsey-film cash-in, as she visits the Kinsey Institute and takes part in its study "Mechanisms Influencing Sexual Risk Taking."
This is the very same study that Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) attempted to defund—and which won a nearly half-million-dollar government grant despite his and others' objections.
Would you like to witness your tax dollars at work?
As we come in, the researchers have attached wires to Abraham so they can monitor her sexual response as she watches videos. She's just been shown a series of photos of handsome men. Fasten your seat belts for what comes next:
From cute boys the video moves to…the scene in "Sophie's Choice" where a Nazi soldier orders Meryl Streep to choose which of her two children to keep! If she refuses, presumably both will be sent to the gas chamber. Janssen is specifically examining how emotions—anxiety, depression, happiness—impact sexual arousal (which could help predict when someone is more likely to, say, lose her head and have unprotected sex with a stranger).Oh. My. God.
WE ARE THROWING HALF A MILLION DOLLARS OF TAXPAYER MONEY TO MONITOR A WOMAN'S SEXUAL AROUSAL AS SHE WATCHES "SOPHIE'S CHOICE"?!
What's next—tossing a few hundred thou so we can find out what part of "Schindler's List" excites 10-year-old girls?
Right now, I DO want more sex more of the time. LOTS of sex. And a husband to have it with. Just so I can spawn oodles of children who will grow up with strong family values, cast votes, and DEFUND THESE PERVERTED SEX STUDIES.
For more on the Kinsey Institute, see Dr. Judith Reisman's site.
Thanks to Michael Potemra for noting that the Elle headline would be good Dawn Patrol fodder.
*Sorry, no link, though the article is Elle's site. I used up my obscene-links quota yesterday with the Joey Ramone entry.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
I just heard Joey Ramone's version of "What a Wonderful World" for the first time when I accidentally hit the button for Q104.3. (It was an accident, honest.) What a great version. It's the best thing by him or any of the Ramones that I've ever heard. And now I learn from an obscenity-laden but otherwise perspicacious article online (read it only if you can tolerate the language) that it was the last thing Joey ever recorded. Amazing.
The author of the aforementioned review, John Saleeby, writes:The man is dying a good thirty or forty years ahead of his time and what is he singing to us about? "I hear babies crying, I watch them grow . . . They'll learn much more than I'll never know . . . And I think to myself 'What a wonderful world' . . . Yes, I think to myself 'What a wonderful world'." I betcha Louis Armstrong didn't feel like singing anything like that when HE was going under. Hell, put on anything by most rock singers in the prime of their lives and they sound like the test results just came in and their kidneys are turning into flesh eating worms that are going to gnaw their way through their torso and out the top of their head. What else could that poor Bob Seger possibly be so upset about? I have no idea what them Night Moves he's come down with are, but I sure hope I get cancer like Joey Ramone before I get em. They sound like Hell. Maybe that's what Eddie Vedder's got.
You may not have heard of Seventeen editor Atoosa Rubinstein, but she's an icon to millions of young girls. In 1996, at the age of 24, she founded CosmoGIRL, becoming the youngest-ever editor-in-chief of a major teen magazine. Last year, she became the editor of Seventeen, and it is in that capacity that she writes an advice column which appears in the Detroit Free Press.
The headline for a recent Rubinstein column was "Girl must work out ill-timed pregnancy."
Can you guess where we're going here? Can you guess what this self-appointed adviser to teenage girls means by "working out" a pregnancy?
It gets worse:
Dear Atoosa: I'm seeing a guy who's four years older than I am. Well, he just left for Iraq for two years. He wants me to wait for him, and I was planning on it, but I just recently found out that I'm pregnant, and I don't know how to tell him. I know that he's not ready for kids yet, and neither am I. Help! -- Jen, 16, Deer Park, Wash.First of all, with Jen being only 16, Rubinstein shouldn't be printing this letter at all. The age of consent in Washington is 16, but it's possible the teen might have been impregnated at 15—which would have made it statutory rape. In case the girl was indeed underage, Rubinstein should have reported the rape to the authorities—she may even be required to do so by law. Something must be done to prevent the 20-year-old perpetrator from having sex with other underage girls.
But Rubinstein replies:
Dear Jen: Wow. That's quite a lot that you have to deal with right now. There are many different directions you can go in your scenario, and in every case, they are totally life-altering and need to be based on your value system -- not mine.Give her credit for not wasting time—she leaps immediately into the world of moral relativism.
So while I'm happy to help, it's not really my place to tell you what to do, so I will encourage you to go to your family first and foremost, because they will be closest to you in value system.Translation: "Don't let your boyfriend talk you out of killing his child. He shouldn't have a part in the decision anyway."
So just to be clear, before you even tell your boyfriend, it's important to have discussed this with a few family members or friends who will have your back no matter how the conversation with him goes.
Once you have your support system in place (and obviously this is something you need to get done immediately because your situation is time-sensitive), then you need to figure out what you want to do about the pregnancy."Time-sensitive." Doesn't that just curdle your blood? You know what she means. I know what she means. But she's just frightened enough of red-state America to avoid the "a"-word.
Because ultimately, while it's certainly a couple's conversation, it's your body and your future that will be the most impacted, and chances are, with him being so far away, he will be wondering what your perspective is, and you need to have that answer ready.Translation: "RUSH! GO TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD. GO DIRECTLY TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD. DO NOT PASS GO. DO NOT COLLECT $200. AND DO NOT LET YOUR BOYFRIEND STOP YOU."
(No doubt he doesn't get a ton of phone time when he calls, so I'm sure a long, drawn-out conversation unfortunately isn't in the cards for you two.)
It won't be an easy decision for you. But you need to make it fairly quickly and then make that phone call to your boyfriend. I know it will be hard -- but just start with the facts and say that you two need to make a decision. After the conversation, rely on your friends and family to give you emotional support.Again, she's telling the girl, "you" need to make that decision. Unilaterally. That's the Planned Parenthood party line.
It's no surprise that Rubinstein concludes:
You can contact your family doctor or call Planned Parenthood at 800-230-7526 for more information regarding your decision so you can take the right steps -- whether that means getting prenatal care or otherwise.Or "otherwise." Again, the euphemism is sickening. And she even puts the abortionists' phone number in the newspaper.
So this is what Seventeen—a magazine that parents could once trust to give sensible advice to their daughters—has become.
The Detroit Free Press's e-mail address for letters to the editor is firstname.lastname@example.org. Atoosa Rubinstein's e-mail is email@example.com.
COMMENTS: Joel B. Martin, who knows the region where the teen letter-writer lives, writes:
Although Washington showed up blue on the election map, Deer Park is in a decidedly red-state area. In Spokane, the nearest city, there is only one facility that offers "abortions services." Naturally, it's Planned Parenthood. The nearest other facility is in Yakima, about 200 miles away. There are, however, at least three crisis-pregnancy centers in Spokane, and most likely another in Deer Park.
[Also], Eastern Washington is very, very strongly religious in its demographic makeup. This is farm and logging country, and kind of divided between the black-helicopter militia crowd and the more mainstream Bible Belt culture, with a generous helping of Mormon thrown into the mix. In short, this is not a very abortion-friendly area, which means that Jen's family is most likely to be pro-life in the advice they give her.
So take a little bit of heart. Planned Barrenhood may yet get their hooks into this girl, but it will be a much more uphill fight for them than it would be in New York.
I'm reposting this entry because the bands are now officially available, distributed by the St. Louis Archdiocesan Pro-Life Committee:
The color blue was chosen for these wristbands for a variety of reasons:Not bad for $1. Ordering information is at the bottom of the PROLIFE wristband home page. It's a beautiful idea and I hope it takes off.
Features of the PROLIFE Wristband
- Blue stands for sprituality, grace and truth
- Blue is the color used by Catholics to represent Mary's humanity—her dependence on God*
- Blue is the color of the seas and of the pure sky, signifying the innocence of all the babies who are aborted daily and the hope they will attain eternal rest in Heaven
- Blue is the color for healing*; it is important for us to work towards healing the hearts of those women who have had abortions
Made of the same durable silicone rubber as the LIVESTRONG wristbands Won't easily wear or break Completely waterproof Stretchable, so it can fit most any wrist Boldly proclaims you are standing up for the basic right to life for all people!
Monday, December 13, 2004
Sunday, December 12, 2004
Had a fab time deejaying last night at POP GEAR!—especially meeting Donna of Donnaville, who came with her sister Lisa and friends Audra and Glenn. Afterwards we all went to Veselka for coffee and lots of conversation. I really enjoyed meeting all of them—it was especially great to see the chemistry between the sisters and Audra, who've known each other for years—and it was the most fun I've had in a long while.
Donna is very sweet to accuse herself of "gushing too much", because I think I was gushing too much. She was exactly as I'd imagined her—poised, graceful, sharp, warm, and funny. I've met several people with whom I've corresponded via e-mail or read their blogs, and often they display a personality on their blog that's far more outgoing than anything they can manage in real life. It's such a pleasure to discover that all the best elements of a person's virtual self, which I already like, are obvious in their real self as well.
The Donnaville diva is nearly a head taller than me—her first words to me, referencing my nickname, were, "You really are a petite powerhouse!"—and looked fantabulosa in her black V-neck blouse and psychedelic mini. Having met her, I can better understand her inspired essay "My Heroine Addiction, where she describes how her favorite pop-culture femmes influenced her—she definitely has that young Paula Prentiss thing going.