Saturday, May 12, 2012

Just watch this...

As I'm sure you know I used to be a teacher, and now I work for a Home Health Care agency. I see every day people dealing with circumstances out of their control. I've been a liberal all my life, but seeing the actual consequences of what today's GOP really wants, really thinks is good public policy has actually made me more liberal. How is it that people who rail on about the sacredness of marriage and the family, and how much they love babies, don't seem to care about families or babies that are poor? Aren't they citizens and human beings too, Paul Ryan? Just watch this.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It Was A Beautiful, Sunny September Day...

I'm up early this Sunday morning because I haven't been to sleep. As with the nights before the anniversaries of my parents' deaths, I don't sleep then either. I couldn't sleep the night before any of these awful days a decade ago.
I truly hate the wallowing that goes on every year in the media-did they really think anyone has forgotten? Especially people who live here in New York? I began spontaneously posting on Facebook. As much as I avoid talking about it, this is my generation's Pearl Harbor, Kennedy assassination-the day that hits you so hard you carry it in excruciating detail for the rest of your life.

I lived in Hoboken 10 years cat smelled the smoke and evacuated himself, jumping over the balcony and forcing me to chase him in my pajamas all the way up Washington St. He had been heading for the river. When I caught him by the PATH...we saw we had been heading the wrong way. We came from the Jersey suburbs with lots of woods. He had been put out by some heartless previous owner as a kitten and has lived semi-wild. So he knew to run if he smelled smoke.

Rocky was my late mother's cat, so I inherited him when she died that past January, I had sold the house, and we moved to a far too large apartment in a city filled with young people. Being both depressed and overwhelmed, the place was still half-filled with boxes in September, though I had moved in July first.

I had managed to doze off sometime around seven, I was totally alone for the first time in my life and often didn't rest well. The commotion my cat was making woke me. He was running in and out of the rooms crying, wailing. He came up to the bed and slapped my leg-clawed me. I noticed a strange smell coming in the ajar door to my patio. (The patio opened into the master bedroom-yes weird design, I know.) Rocky pushed the door, meowing at me to follow. When I got out there, he went to the rail and dove off. He made me chase him across half the town in my pajamas as he made his way to the river up the main street: Washington.

After I finally caught my terrified cat, I stood in the small park watching the towers burn, and the giant cloud of smoke drifting in the direction of Hoboken. I am normally good in a crisis, but I was frozen as were all those around me. People were sobbing, and breathlessly asking what had happened. No one believed the people who said it was a plane crash, I'm still unsure why. I don't know how long I stood there in shock either. When he began biting me and wrapped his body around my arm, I woke up. The smoke cloud was expanding and making its' way toward New Jersey. I ran all the way back home, shut all the doors and windows, and turned on the television. I still hadn't put Rocky down, he had climbed to my shoulders and dug his claws in my shirt. I was wearing a cat, who kept making strange crying sounds in my ear.

It was on every channel. The fire was so much worse now, then one of the Twin Towers collapsed. I called my cousin, Elaine, who said she hadn't felt this threatened and shocked since she was young listening to the attack on Pearl Harbor. We could call each other, but no one could use cell phones, or call New York. My friends in London could reach me, but not family in central Jersey. We couldn't reach my cousin, Christopher. Couldn't reach him for days. He lived in Hoboken too.

My next door neighbor was out on her patio crying. Her husband's best friend since babyhood worked at Cantor Fitzgerald, as did many people in Hoboken, back then. The man's pregnant wife was wailing on the other end of the line, certain he was dead. She was right. I came back in without a word to Marilyn, and stared at my TV again in disbelief. Then I did something, I had done as a child, and again after my mother died, I walked into my closet and closed the door. I didn't come out for a long time.

I remember the anger and confusion, and how distressing it was to be confined to Hoboken for the next few days. We were told not to leave. How every cafe and coffee shop and restaurant was filled because no one wanted to be alone. People were gathering, asking about people, worried about another wave of attacks, some talking about moving away. I recall the camaraderie and patriotism of those days, survivors supporting each other and mourning the dead. I remember every day there being a funeral, and the processions walking down the center of Washington St. becoming a parade, for everyone in the mile square city had become the deceased's neighbor and friend.

I certainly won't forget.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wisewomen, Witches, Midwives, and The Age of Ignorance , Part II

I began to write a follow-up to this post from last February about myths concerning men's reproductive health quite a while ago, but couldn't really find much besides vasectomy, tightness of underwear, and penis size. Next to the constant discussion of women's fertility, there is a relative silence on men's role in making babies. One can almost hear crickets.

Think about this: many of the attitudes regarding male reproduction seem to date back to Henry VII, historically, a rather low point for women's rights, and for medicine in Europe. What I mean by this is, in fertility issues, always assume it's the woman, not the off with her head part. Mothers are always to blame. With Henry, and with today's anti-women forces, women are always the problem.

There clearly was something genetically wrong with Henry Tudor. Though outwardly, he seemed healthy, and was quite athletic in his youth, many years before what appears to have been type II Diabetes and gout set in, and he became the morbidly obese glutton we have seen in so many films, he was in reality, a ticking time bomb.

Henry had six siblings, yet only three survived childhood. His older brother Arthur, died at fifteen, only six months after marrying Catherine of Aragon. Six months, that produced no pregnancies, and according to Catherine, was because the prince had been unable to consummate the marriage. A fifteen year old boy who could not get an erection? Only Henry's two sisters, Margaret and Mary lived to be adults, and had children that both grew up and produced children.

Henry himself had sex with quite a few women, as we all know, though, obviously not as many as in the series The Tudors, or he would have spent zero time actually ruling his kingdom, but I digress. With his first wife, Arthur's widow, Catherine, Henry had five children, but only Mary I lived past infancy. When she grew to adulthood, Mary never had more than a phantom pregnancy, and was mysteriously weak, and ill for some years, withering and dying at only forty-two. Anne Boleyn had four miscarriages, and two stillbirths, all of male children. Only her girl child, Elizabeth I lived.

Elizabeth was not really the Virgin Queen she pretended to be, (I give little credence to the bestiality with her horses stories, people were as mean-spirited then as they are today) for diplomatic reasons, though it was likely she was sterilized by her teenage bout of smallpox. (Smallpox was the reason for her big red wigs and pale, pale makeup too.) So if Elizabeth was fertile we'll never know, though she did manage to outlive most of her Tudor relatives, dying at sixty-nine years old. Jane Seymour's only child, Edward VI did not live to adulthood either. Edward died at only fifteen of lung disease and kidney failure, after a long decline that even the doctors of the day knew was ending in death.

No children, or pregnancies at all, with his final three wives. One was unconsummated, one was with a presumable healthy teenage girl, and last wife, Catherine Parr, had a child with the man she married six months after Henry's death.

The officially recognized bastard, with Elizabeth Blount, Henry Fitzroy, like his uncle Arthur, Prince of Wales, and his half brother, Edward VI of England died as a teenager, only seventeen years old. He also had a marriage that even before his illness visibly set in, he was unable to consummate. Again, a teenage boy who could not get an erection?

Even in those days, when the vast majority of the medical knowledge of the Classical World had been forgotten, or lost, and the ancient wisdom of the wisewomen, witches and midwives ignored by frightened, and bigoted male doctors, somebody still should have thought there were some really strange coincidences occurring here. One man, so many women, and so few healthy babies. A whole family, a royal family, with the best of everything, yet they couldn't reproduce, and died tragically young, and painfully. Royal physicians did have medical records on the Tudors, which is why we know all I've recounted.

The science of the time was promoting a version of Preformationism, in short, a form of the Homuniculus theory of heredity, that claimed that either the sperm, or egg held a miniature complete human being inside it. Pregnancy was just the magical way it transformed into a baby. There was disagreement on whether it was the sperm, or the egg that contained the mini-person. The Spermists concept was what seems more popular since it made a woman little more an an incubator for a man's child.

Such reproductive chauvinism would be a perfect excuse for writing laws that mimicked those of early Rome. Tudor England's-and honesty, most of Europe's laws were more oppressive than the Manus laws.

The Manus form of marriage was one where the woman went from being her father's daughter to her husband's. She was in manum viri-under her husband's authority. Then later there was coemptio, where a woman was literally sold by her father to her husband. Though this was for the Patricians not the Plebeians. Plebeian wives just had to live away from the husband for three days and nights and were after this able to remain part of their own families and retain their property rights. Plebeians had no money, so they were not citizens, and their marriages were not legal anyway at this time. They could live together, but not legally marry.

Now while, yes, a Roman matron had lots of freedom compared to a Tudor housewife, a Victorian one, or shamefully, even to an American woman in the early twentieth century-remember, we only got the vote in 1920-Rome set the precedent for male domination in reproductive matters codified by law. Matrimonium was a deal to produce children, and pass on property. Patria Potestas made a child male, or female subject to the father for as long as that father lived. The laws of The Twelve Tables that legally made a man head of household, also gave a father life and death over his family, were rarely applied. It was considered bad form to expose an infant, unless he or she was really horribly deformed. Though it was his right to kill any infant-to fail to accept it, for a child was yet another possession of the man. A paterfamilias essentially was the king of his own little castle.

While Roman Law gave us some rather useful things like birth registration, divorce laws, voting, the laws were clear in stating the importance of all things male. Law is the basis of society, the rule book so to speak for what is acceptable, and as Rome conquered most of Europe, North Africa, the Mideast these cultures grew more and more misogynistic. As the Catholic Church, which originated in Rome grew, so did the whittling away of the rights of women. This new church wasn't really what Jesus sanctioned, rather that of St. Paul, who was most definitely not a fan of women, and completely against women having power over their own lives. Because he was a Roman citizen, and an educated man, Paul set the tone for the new religion, not Jesus' "rock" Simon Peter, a poor, illiterate fisherman.

These conquered cultures had been by and large much more willing to allow women a place in their societies other than as babymakers. Most of these cultures had their own herbalist, naturopathic healing traditions that were often female-dominated. And most likely what knowledge was passed down was the remains of their aboriginal cultures. Many were something the English called Cunning Folk. Useful witches. They might drive out evil spirits, tell a fortune. Perhaps have some herbal remedy that worked better than bleeding someone, know what grasses to feed a sick sheep. Henry VIII hated these people, and made something as innocent as locating treasure or casting love spells punishable by death. So even though Henry was after fortune tellers and gypsies, the wisewomen, midwives, and other practitioners of the old medicines could be seen as falling under this umbrella. Not quite a witchhunt, but close.

As I noted in my previous post, when male doctors actively began to push women out of women's medicine, the mortality rates for both mothers and babies rose. Dramatically. Back then, as now, men in power made fear-based attacks on women's rights and healthcare options. Why did the medical and scientific establishment endorse such things as the Spermist theory, stripping midwives of the right to practice, and making abortion a crime, and not simply a private issue with the wisewoman or doctor? Why were birth-control methods that were known to the Ancient Egyptians illegal to discuss by the nineteenth century? Why was divorce, which was common and easy to obtain in Ancient Rome extraordinarily hard to obtain for a good half of the 20th century?

Two words. Power and money.

Why is it that at the same time that there is a chipping away of abortion access, and birth-control options, there is also a great deal of misinformation about fertility? Convincing women over 40 that they are nearly incapable of having a baby without medical intervention has resulted in the highest accidental pregnancy rate after teens will mean what? Giving teens and poor women less access to reproductive care and birth control mean what? These War On Woman restrictions, and attacks on institutions like Planned Parenthood mean what? The endgame for the Republican extremists is this: forcing woman back in to so called traditional roles and reversing the second half of the 20th century. Giving older women babies they don't expect and can't afford alone might reduce divorce rates. Young women scared they might not be able to have a baby might marry younger, and have babies younger, curtailing career ambitions. More unplanned for babies, mean more women making hard choices.

As for the money part of it...these treatments are rather expensive and when surveyed only 41% of American companies offer insurance that pays for the drugs. Most do not cover in-vitro fertilization. The experts recommend a couple come in early, so they can do extensive tests and start giving the woman drugs. All of those drugs mentioned in that article are for the woman. Like Henry VIII thought, it's gotta be the woman's fault.

Social conservatives get to set fertile women's lives back using misinformation and political dirty tricks. The industry that is fertility medicine gets to clean up on the infertile ones, or the ones who fear they are infertile. Motherhood is a wonderful thing, but being tricked into it, is not. Nor is having the truth about one's actual chances to have a baby kept from one fair. These lawmakers and interest groups are almost modern day Henry VIIs taking their personal ignorance and bias and imposing it on others. The world would have been quite different if Henry Tudor understood that switching wives every few years wasn't going to make him the father of a healthy son.

Monday, August 30, 2010

People Not Worth The Price Of The Gunpowder Needed To Blow Them To Hell Aug 10 Edition

August of 2010 has been a month to remember, for all the wrong reasons. I begin with least offensive or most offensive? So hard, they are all so very, very offensive. I can't decide, so they will simply be as they come to me.

1. Morrissey: What the Hell? Everyone agrees that Chinese law allows horrible abuse of animals, he's got a point, but to then suddenly draw this Nazi-like conclusion that the Chinese are some sort of subspecies of human because of this?

Morrissey, you are a racist dumbass. These sort of hyperbolic, nasty remarks set your cause back. People instinctively run away from even good causes when they are championed by kooks.

Oh, and Morrissey, as the son of Irish Catholic immigrants to England, you should be doubly ashamed.

"They use their fields mostly for pasture. Little is cultivated and even less is sown. The problem here is not the quality of the soil but rather the lack of industry on the part of those who should cultivate it. This laziness means that the different types of minerals with which hidden veins of the earth are full are neither mined nor exploited in any way. They do not devote themselves to the manufacture of flax or wool, nor to the practice of any mechanical or mercantile act. Dedicated only to leisure and laziness, this is a truly barbarous people. They depend on their livelihood for animals and they live like animals."

Written by Gerard Of Wales, a chronicler who visited Ireland with Prince John. You know, Richard the Lionheart's brother who became king in 1199? The English have had some kind of theory about YOUR people's genetic inferiority for a very, very long time.

2. Glenn Beck: You are not oppressed. You are not Martin Luther King. What you are doing is your damnedest to fleece your audience of the ignorant, the racist, the terrified into a 21st century Beer Hall Putsch. You are a deluded, dishonest, and dangerous man.

3. Pastor Terry Jones: Pastor of the Dove Outreach Church in Florida. Author of Islam Is Of The Devil. Organizer of the Quran burning scheduled for 9/11. Watch him in action while I go throw up.

4. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer: Racial profiling as law. Beheadings in the desert?? Lying about her own father's death? Privatized prisons that hold killers in medium security so they can easily escape?

5. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: There are so many reasons, but the latest, and worst so far is wanting to change the 14th Amendment so children of illegal immigrants are not citizens. And just how would we do this, Mitch? Will you ask for the parents papers as the mother is in the delivery room? What if one parent is legal and one is not? What is the baby then? Would all children someday have to earn their citizenship like in Starship Troopers?

6. All Kentuckians voting for Rand Paul.

7. Sharron Angle.

8. All Nevadans voting for Sharron Angle.

9. Jorhan Van Der Sloot: Not only did he kill a second girl in Peru, he extorted money out of Natalee Holloway's grieving family who hoped he could lead them to her body. He gave them a bogus spot and kept the money.

"I wanted to get back at Natalee's family – her parents have been making my life tough for five years," the paper quoted him as saying from prison in Peru. "When they offered to pay for the girl's location, I thought: 'Why not'?"

10. Those fools driving a missile around Ground Zero in opposition to the Park51 center.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Riding Those Dinosaurs

Back when I was a college freshman, I learned something important that was not in my actual curriculum, but a life lesson. This life lesson learned came from watching my fellow students struggle through classes that covered topics I had learned freshman year in high school, and were often discussed at the dinner table in my home. The American Education system is not simply greatly unequal in terms of quality between rich and poor districts, but also influenced, and run by people who haven't the slightest idea of what produces adults who fully comprehend the world they will someday control.

It was glaringly obvious in our World History classes, some people had never had anything other than an American History class. They didn't know who Hannibal was, other than the character from the A-Team, thought China was always communist, had never heard of the Ottoman Empire, and were shocked that democracy was not begun in the United States. All good things come only from the USA, you know.

I am still uncertain what shocked me the most, that they didn't know these simple facts or that many didn't want to know. It was boring. It had no bearing on their life today. It wouldn't help them get a job, so why bother? The sad, sad fact is that at some point in the last, maybe thirty years, American universities, and high schools, as well, became a factory line for cranking out drones. Go to high school, get a job. Go to college, get a better job.

The entire track is training, not educating. Our schools, don't teach civics, hell, they barely teach art and music, and many places there is a shortage of gym teachers. The pretty much long gone, and sexist home ec. at least used to give lessons on how to manage a household. Depictions of it on television seemed to concentrate on cooking classes, but that is misleading. Yes, they taught them, but also nutrition, child development, sewing, and most importantly, managing your money.

We no longer think it important to teach children how to manage their money.

Once upon a time, we taught high schoolers something called civics! A class that taught them about types of government, and the rights and duties of citizens! Personally, I never had such a class it was a dinosaur by the time I was in high school-I got these lessons at home. Don't even start me on the subject of sex education.

So are we reaping the whirlwind of our short-sightedness, and anti-intellectualism today? The overall ignorance isn't openly insane like the Creationists who think the Earth is 10,000 years old, and Jesus rode dinosaurs. They are kooks, but what is worse is what has been done by sane school boards, and administrators. That is, the whittling away of classes that teach you how to live, and critically think, not simply work for some corporate overlord, is dangerous.

An angry, threatened, population that does not comprehend how it fell into economic hard times, or who is to blame, always seems to lash out, looking for a scapegoat. And things such as this happen.

And if you know your history...what does this scene bring to mind?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Single Bullet Got Ya, Arlen?

I imagine that was the expression on the faces of many of the MSM, especially those who work inside the Beltway.

Incumbents losing?!! Being forced into a runoff??!! Isn't the Tea Party signaling a Rightward tilt to our politics??

Maybe it was this...progressives, while not so vocal as the Tea Party stunads, who seem to have been dying to yell "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" since the first time they saw Network, Progressives are mad too.

Progressives are mad at Blue Dogs, and Fake Democrats, and useless status-quo beltway types. The crazy populists wear tea bags on their hats, and spit on congressmen, and rant about scary Mexicans. The Progressives? They very quietly, voted.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

More People Not Worth The Price Of The Gunpowder To Blow Them to Hell

I haven't done this in a while. The title for these posts is a quote from my late father, and he didn't say it often. To make the Gunpowder List you have to be really quite despicable. Like say...

Newt Gingrich. Stop using 9/11 to try to score political points! You don't even know the facts of the terrorism cases you are using to criticize Obama anyway. Obama is treating these cases the same way Bush did, a rare instance when he did something right, by trying these crimes in civilian courts.

Why are you so scared of Miranda Rights anyway? And Newt, terrorists are criminals. They are international organized crime syndicates working in concert with Colombian drug cartels, the Russian mob, and other similar groups. Do we send the army after the mob? Nutley, NJ has yet to be attacked by the military. All Newt and others like him really want to do is grease the Military Industrial Complex and play general.

John Edwards. Eww. The most sordid distasteful love life since Rudy Guiliani began dating. We all make some poor choices, do things we regret, but John Edwards is a combination of Newt, Rudy, and Erica Kane. If she were real, and a man. The Democratic Party dodged a cannonball, not simply a bullet when this guy lost the primaries. Real men face their mistakes, John.

Sarah Palin. Everything she does and says: but I'll go with the latest one, using that poor baby's disability to bring attention to herself as the suffering mother of a special needs child. She does not care about the use of retard, or she would not attack Rahm Emmanuel for something he said privately, and defend Rush Limbaugh for something he says publically on a constant basis.

John Mayer. Mayer and his white-supremacist penis can each get a keg of powder. He needs a team of psychiatrists working round the clock. I always had the impression he was an unpleasant man who had issues with women and intimacy, but didn't think him vile, creepy, and disturbed. I was wrong. Fake apology not accepted, John.