Friday, October 29, 2004

being forced to choose

cecily makes a point that i made privately to michelle: cecily was forced to choose between her life and that of her unborn remaining child. You can read about it on her blog; I won't recount the sad tale.

as cecily pointed out, think about this if you haven't already voted:

do you want to live in a country where women are forced into a situation where they must choose between continuing a pregnancy that will kill them, and delivering an obviously not-fully-cooked bun into a situation where it can't breathe, and will die within minutes of "birth" -- a horrible suffocating death? i'd really like to know how that's consistent with anybody's "pro-life" position. even michelle's private response, which i will obviously not reprint, didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

shrub, during the debates, pointedly did not answer the question about whether or not he would appoint a judge who would eliminate a woman's right to have an elective abortion. that really means that he thinks he can't come out and say what he thinks and still win; so he simply avoids the issue. he's said he'd appoint justices like scalia and thomas, both known abortion opponents.

kerry has pointedly said he will not appoint judges who would overturn this right.

i remain personally pro-life: in any situation where i'm asked for guidence by a woman about whether or not she should terminate a pregnancy for reasons other than her health, i will counsel her toward continuing the pregnancy.

yet i remain politically pro-choice: it is not my place to legislate my beliefs onto others.

bush has nominated pricilla owen, a former texas supreme court justice, to a place on a federal appeals court. texas has a parental notification law, and the law includes an option for judicial bypass of the notification requirement. according to the statute, a minor must convince a judge that it is not in her interest that her parents be notified. the classic example is that of parental incest and sexual assault; the other example is where parents have shown a disposition to behave in ways that would be detrimental to their childs' welfare, like parents that have thrown older sisters out of the house and onto the street when they've gotten pregnant.

owen, as a justice on the texas supreme court, wrote an opinion that essentially guts the judicial bypass option. the opinion says that, to be granted a judicial bypass, the petitioner must show that having an abortion is in her best interest, which is a far different standard than what is written into the law. the text of the statue says that a petitioner should be granted a bypass if she can show that notification of her parents is not in her interest, a far different requirement than what owen has promulgated.

this is the kind of judge bush will appoint.

is that what you want? really?

texas is a state where it's illegal to sell sex toys. it's also illegal to buy a car on sunday, to buy baby bottle nipples on sunday, and increasingly, to be intelligent. a law passed in 2003 requires that facilities that perform abortions after 16 weeks must be hospitals, or have hospital-like rooms to perform said procedures.

number of facilities in texas that are both compliant with the law and offer the procedure: 0. zero. zip. zilch. nada. not a single one. Even though it's officially "legal" to do so, you can not have an abortion in Texas if you're in the second trimester, even if you will die without it.

if cecily had lived in texas, she'd have had to be evacuated out of the state to get a medical procedure necessary to save her life.

now, i wouldn't say for an instant that kerry is right about everything and bush is wrong about everything. but even where kerry is wrong, i believe firmly that he is interested in what i think, how well i do in my life, and what goes on in our country. he's interested in learning new things, has a world-view that encompasses the idea that he might be wrong, and that there are shades of gray in the world.

bush doesn't think that way. his interests lie in his pocketbook. despite republican protestations that they've lowered taxes for everyone in the nation, the truth is that my tax burden has gone up during the bush administration, as a percentage of my income. way up. and the services i receive for those tax dollars have been cut drastically. while my federal tax burden actually has gone down, to balance those cuts, the federal government has scaled back assistance to states and state-supported services. to keep those services running in states that require balanced budges (read all 50 of them), states are either having to cut services, cut eligibility (like throwing hundreds of thousands of poor kids off state health plans), or raise taxes.

in texas there hasn't been a "state" tax increase, but in texas our government is so decentralized and the taxing entities so numerous that if you don't watch what happens, you'll be taxed without even realizing it.

so, when you're at the polling booth on tuesday, think about this: is this really the world you want to live in?

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

no words

what do you say when the world ends?

nothing but love.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


it's sometimes interesting to see who's coming here and why.

ovidril and ovulation. obviously someone doing fertility stuff. welcome to our world.

people seem to come here when i slap julie with a trackback. cool to know those work. but nobody writes back, except cecily who is, as i wrote last post, unable to join us this evening.

homeschool vs public school: i know, i'm suffering from the same quandry. i really don't feel confident to home school, i can't afford private school, but i really hate public school.

"negatives of homeschooling" and "positives on homeschooling": yeah. that too.

preeclampsya: sucks, doesn't it?

crowley isd having problems with discipline: oh dear. i live in the crowley isd. this is something i want to hear about.

tertia babies: she's here.

someone got here from indigo girl's pad, but i can't for the life of me figure out where.

13yo bound free naked: what the fuck?

with love

for cecily, with love. as much as charlie, except with pants. read if you wish; pray if you do; help if you can.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

infertility considerations ...

... a couple years past ...

as most of you know, i speak with only limited authority on infertility subjects, but something jody said (responding to julie's fantastic post) seriously caught my attention.

my own re's office publishes statistics for all their multiple births, on the web page back to 2001 (though apparently they haven't updated the 2004 cycles yet; some of those babies will have been born by now no doubt). they list trip and quad homs (high order multiples), and since the quads are all 0 i'd presume that they haven't gotten any octs either.

when we went through all our infertility stuff, the general agreement between us and the facility staff was that the potential benefit of implanting more than two embryos wasn't worth the risks of a potential hom pregnancy. very occasionally, if all three embryos looked "really bad" at best, they'd do three; otherwise the clinic's limit is two. their success rate appears to be good enough that they can justify it, and heaven knows they've got a by-the-numbers system down. great service, responsive doctors and staff, knowlegeable professionals, i'd recommend them to anyone anywhere needing art, but there's also a certain cattle-chute feel to the place. it's strange.

jody's suggestion is that there's ptsd in the infertile population, unreported and unstudied; it's known that there's lots of ptsd in the hom parent population. i'm curious to know how that stacks up against parents of not-spaced-singles or twins, like ours. ian is just a year and four months older than the twins, so all three of our kids are well within two years of one another.

what kind of stress does that situation put on a family? my wife and i haven't been to dinner together without our children in ... uh ... so long we don't know how long it's been. we haven't been to dinner out of the house even with our children in ... uh ... and there's all the other usual nonsense going on -- school, work, car, money money money. if that's not its own kind of combat, i guess i dunno what is. i don't have trips in my family, but i'm as close as you can get with infertility.

i wonder this, and i wonder why nobody's studied it, and why nobody seems to give a shit with, shall we say, low-number high orders or not-spaced ("catholic twin") children, compared to, say, quits or octs, which get the media coverage.

julie's right. it's all bullshit. you fight all this time and your friends disappear on you. and jody's right -- they disappear and you feel like you're in a fucking warzone.

our babies came with manuals -- the hospital gave us some. and we get great help from our professional helpers -- the doctor, the dentist, the speech therapists for ian, the whole bit. but the family and friends are too wrapped up in their own lives. even the nearby grandma will only take one at a time. what the fuck do we do with the other two, if we want to go out to dinner or -- like it would ever happen anyway -- have sex?

if i had it to do over again, i wouldn't do multiples. not ever. i wouldn't even do two as close as ian is to the twins. we felt like we had to, both because of her age (39 at the time of the second delivery -- advanced maternal age is a risk factor for a number of problems, including ivf failure), and because we didn't know how long the insurance would continue to cover ivf (and sure as shit, the year after we did it, they dropped the coverage).

don't get me wrong, i love my kids and will certainly keep em. but it's no wonder parents of homs are shell shocked. there's no support system in place to help them care for their families, their relationships with their spouses, and most of all, themselves.

will it take another dozen andrea yates cases to get the medical profession to look into this? the yates case is extreme, obviously. but melt-downs in families like ours happen all the time; even to me, in august 03, when i spent a week in the hospital needing a fucking siesta.

Friday, October 22, 2004

bush's attitude

sherry f. colb, writing for cnn, wrote a column about the differences between john kerry and shrub (as we in texas know him) over abortion, constrasting their town meeting responses to a voter's question.

i'll leave abortion for another post. but colb points out something that i've seen pointed out elsewhere, and that i've seen in the way shrub has behaved both as president, and before as governor of texas.

shrub doesn't think outside of his ideological box. at all. he's not capable of it.

his answer to the abortion thing during the town hall debate is a perfect example: you do or you don't support abortion. there's no room in his little box for people who find it morally repugnant but medically necessary and a legally desirable option under certain circumstances (like i do).

the famous "you are with us or you are against us" line from the post-september 11 speech is another example of that thinking. Except that in this case it makes a fantastic soundbite. yet there is little dissention within the ranks of his administration; he has surrounded himself with people who share his world-view.

You can see this in how the Iraq war has been managed: Even if the supposed no casualties comment never happened, his world-view remains that everything is going peachey keen, that there are no mistakes, and even if you agree the sacrifice is worth it, it should tell you something that mothers back home are taking up collections for body armor for their kids serving.

body armor. military operation. seems like you wouldn't do the latter without the former, eh? I suppose in a universe where the conquered are going to throw flowers at you, great. But when was the last time flowers got thrown at anybody in that part of the world? Even dead people don't get that.

What all this means is that shrub is someone who tunes out what he doesn't want to hear, or worse, his handlers don't let people near him who won't tell him what he wants to hear. this leads to a view of the universe that simply isn't in touch with reality. even if shrub himself is mentally stable and sane (and anyone who claims to hear from god i worry about), selective hearing is not acceptable in a leader with the power to condemn thousands, tens of thousands, or even millions of people to death.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

opposition to the war

i wrote the following back before the invasion of iraq, and so as you read it, keep in mind the context of the day. also keep in mind that the context of the conversation was a jewish mailing list, and part of the topic revolved around opposition of the war on purely religious grounds.

1) There has been no publicly available data that suggests that such a war is necessary -now,- except President Bush's (and Tony Blair's) pronouncements on the issue. No photographs. No documents. No interview transcripts. Nothing. Watergate, Vietnam, Iran-Contra and Kenneth Starr all show us what happens when we trust and do not critically evaluate for ourselves, when we fail to exercise control over our government. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, true ... but it does make a bad case for going to war.

The blank check resolution authorizing war with Iraq, which is not a declaration of war, is very troubling. It's basically a blank check without much in the way of Congressional oversight, and because the majorities in Congress are so narrow, a veto override is very unlikely if Congress tries to use the power of the purse to quit paying for a war. That means, basically, funding for the war will go on at least in some form for as long as the President wants it. Gulf of Tonkin was a disaster (and it turns out based entirely on fabrication or misunderstanding anyway); what's different now?

[It's interesting to point out that J. Edgar Hoover, of all people was horrified by President Nixon's ideas for warrantless and oversightless use of the FBI. Maybe we should harness the rotational energy of Hoover's grave to generate electricity, thus reducing our need for oil ... ]

2) Any attempt to promote "regime change" must consider American relationships with Iraq's Arab (and non-Arab) neighbors, inasmuch as those countries will be affected by the actions of the United States. Some of these regimes have only a questionable grip on power, and can directly affect Jewish interests.

Example: Syria doesn't have the most stable government; Bashar Assad was elected with 97.29% approval in a one-man election in 2000 [CNN], and his grip on power remains tenuous at best, apparently. What would an American invasion do to an unstable Syria? What happens if, during our war with Iraq, there's unrest and revolution in Syria? What kind of government will we wind up with there if Assad is ousted/assassinated/etc, and how will that affect our relationship with other nations in the region, and what will that new country do with respect to Israel?

3) Money. War costs money. Where is this going to come from? While I've observed already that money spent on a war would be unlikely to find its way into educational, social service, or infrastructure priorities that need attention here at home, that doesn't mean that money spent on war isn't wasted. Taxpayers will have to foot the bill somewhere, and given our President's proclivities for cutting taxes in ways that primarily benefit the wealthy, the cost of that waste will most likely fall disproportionately on those who can least afford it (as usual). While it's true that the federal government can create money out of thin air (and does regularly), eventually the money has to come from somewhere unless we want 70's-style inflation (again). And it ain't gonna be President Bush's pocketbook. (Leona Helmsley comes to mind. "Only little people pay taxes.")

4) Oil. It has been observed that a primary (if unspoken) outcome of a war in Iraq will be to open Iraq's oil fields to American commercial development, which will only increase American dependence on foreign oil. And while I observed that one of President Bush's pet projects is to open Alaskan fields to drilling, I'll also point out that this isn't an either-or proposition for him. If he can do both, he will. This is not in America's interest, and it's not especially in Iraq's interest either, because American development of Iraqi oil reserves will not primarily enrich Iraq -- it will enrich American oil companies (and we all should know by now that trickle down economics does not).

5) Civil liberties for everyone, especially people (citizen and non-) of Arabian or Islamic descent, appearance, or belief. While I observed that erosions of civil liberties will continue with or without war, they and hate crimes will only increase as American soldiers come home in little metal boxes. If, that is, we don't simply decide to put them all into [internment/resettlement/relocation/detainment/deportation camps/units/areas/prisons] like we did during World War II.

It could never happen, you say. It did once. And humans have a short collective memory.

6) I've observed that only a huge change in US policy toward Israel and the Middle East will reduce anti-US and anti-Israeli sentiment in the world. Coupled with the instability issues noted above, any effort to change Iraq must not only clearly articulate the particulars of motivation (see point 1), but such articulation must be coupled with a clear communication of a change in attitude about the rest of that part of the world. That is, will the United States continue to support Israel seemingly at every turn, to the endless expense of its Arab enemies? Or another way, will the United States continue to prop up repressive regimes if the money flows our way, and when it does not, what happens? If we choose change, how will that change work?

This isn't a question that's best answered from our Jewish point of view. Rather, it needs to be considered and answered in light of the people we need to persuade. There's a reason that support for an American invasion of Iraq is poor in countries surrounding Iraq. A key part of our PR strategy, at least to help insure stability in the region while we're there and after we leave, must be to find out why they hate the United States, and address their concerns. (While I know a number of Jews who might simply favor a low-yield nuclear weapon, and while I agree that such a solution has a certain amount of flair, that doesn't really solve the problem.)

Failure to do so will only bring on more disrespect of the United States, more terrorism in the United States, Europe, and Israel, as well as against "targets of interest" such as embassies, industrial facilities, and tourist attractions, and lessen America's influence on things that really make a difference, like human rights, democracy, and tolerance.

7) Arguments based on religion tend to fall on deaf ears in society, unless the religion in question is the one practiced by the majority. That means, in the United States, if Jesus (or John, Paul, George, and Ringo) didn't say it, it doesn't matter.

By way of illustration, my favorite quote, from a Christian about prayers at high school football games (a huge issue in Texas): "If they want to pray to their dead gods, let them do it at home." Try telling this person that Jews don't believe in Jesus and see what happens. I have been physically assaulted for making that mistake, and it is a mistake I do not repeat.

This means that, while it's not wrong to base our arguments in our religion, it doesn't help us to couch our arguments in our religious terms, because Joe Average will tend to dismiss it as not Christian and so not relevant.

We must therefore find a way to re-frame our moral arguments to be both at once consistent with our views and something that Mr. Average will listen to and think about.

I'm not suggesting, by the way, that Mr. Average's disregard of our religion is right, moral, appropriate, or something we should approve of. But in a situation where we must choose between educating Mr. Average about Judaism and how we're not people with horns and huge noses who are a couple inches short in the crotch, and educating Mr. Average about why war with Iraq is bad, we need to choose one and leave the other for later.

i am a liberal

as i sit here and think on matters political, i'll post something here that was written by warren norwood, an author and friend of mine. i've edited slightly. reprinted by permission. over the next few days i may (hope to) write about some stuff that's been on my mind in the political universe over the past couple months.

An Explanation

I am sure that some of you, if not all of you, wonder how your son or daughter, brother or sister, mother or father, aunt or uncle, co-worker, or friend could be a political liberal in the midst of this new swell of conservatism in the United States. The answers to that are all too simple.

I am a liberal because the system originated by liberals called Social Security has made my grandparents' retirement more possible and comfortable than it would otherwise have been.

I am a liberal because the system originated by liberals called Medicare paid for my grandmother to have two knees and a hip replaced at a cost that otherwise could not have been borne by all of her children and grandchildren together.

I am a liberal because Medicare paid for my grandfather's operation to remove a cancerous kidney at a cost that would otherwise certainly have forced them to liquidate their assets.

I am a liberal because of that system originated by liberals called WIC a close relative gets food stamps for cheese and milk and other necessities when she needs to feed her children.

I am a liberal because of that system originated by liberals called unemployment insurance permits people I care about to get some help making ends meet when they lose their job through no fault of their own while they look for another one.

I am a liberal because that system demanded by liberals called company-paid employee medical insurance helps pay doctor bills for me and my wife and our children and most of my other close relatives.

I am a liberal because the idea of autonomy of the individual is a liberal idea.

I am a liberal because the idea of political liberty is a liberal idea.

I am a liberal because government by the consent of the governed is a liberal idea.

I am a liberal because the Bill of Rights is a set of liberal ideas which protect us all. Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom to worship, freedom of the press, due process of law, freedom from torture, the right to face our accusers, the writ of habeas corpus, and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure are all liberal ideas. Most people in the world do not have those rights.

I am a liberal because those liberal ideas in our Constitution give us control of our representatives from the school board to the Senate and President of the United States, give us the liberal idea of checks and balances, and the liberal idea of no taxation without representation.

I am a liberal because the idea of free and equal access to public education is a liberal idea.

I am a liberal because the idea of free markets is a liberal idea.

I am a liberal because the idea of a five day work week is a liberal idea.

I am a liberal because the idea of a strong, well funded and disciplined military under civilian control is a liberal idea, as is the notion of veterans' benefits and military retirement.

I am a liberal because the idea of public maintenance of roads is a liberal idea.

I am a liberal because almost all the progressive ideas of the last four centuries have been liberal ideas resisted by the conservitaves of their times. Those liberal ideas make this a better place to live for me, my family, my community, my country, and my world.

Repudiate liberalism if you must. Just check off the liberal ideas above you're ready to do without.

Monday, October 18, 2004


there hasn't been much that's been good. i should have been writing and getting some of this off my chest, but shit happens.

the pickup fried. blown head gasket. we're now running up the mileage on the minivan. joy.

i had to take my older son to the doctor today. seems he got some kinda something on his penis, of all things, possibly a bug bite. it swelled up to the size of a golf ball. some benadryl fixed it, it looks like, but it was scary and painful apparently. ian was most uncomfortable.

sue claims she doesn't want me to quit school but i know what always happens when i don't go full time; i wind up pissing the opportunity away. it's happened so many times i could cry. i'd really like to graduate with a bachelor's degree before i turn 40. really. meantime she quotes doctor fucking phil at me, like that self-righteous son of a bitch is going to solve everything for us.

but my grades, for the most part, are pretty good. i'm doing surprisingly well in geology, and i'm passing all the rest. except i have no clue about the stupid physical education course; we've had a bunch of assignments, but the idiot instructor hasn't posted any grades. we're half way through the semester already, asshole. how about some fucking feedback!

i got that letter accepting me into uta but the dickheads there are so totally unable to help me understand what they require that i've decided to skip schools. if i'm going to pay something on the order of $30k for a degree, i'd like a little customer service and someone who answers my emails when i ask questions like, "what requirements will be left when i transfer in with these credits?" the admissions department, the counseling department, and the political science department all blew me off. completely unacceptable.

unt, on the other hand, makes it so blindingly simple that they even put a pdf document on their website telling me exactly what courses to take, in my current school's course numbering system, so i don't have to even think or wonder, i simply have to accomplish. unt is farther away, but it turns out it's a better program anyway.

i'm migrating away from my hosting service and back to doing my own hosting, over the next few weeks. if i can figure out how to preserve my database. i've always preferred to do my own hosting. i originally went with csoft because i had a cable modem and couldn't run my own server; now that i've got dsl, i'm going to static ip addresses and will be putting my own server back up. so it'll be running web service, mysql for the blog, mail, all that jazz, for myself here at the house. that way when it crashes it's my fault and i don't have to get pissy with anyone but me.

don't forget to vote. like it'll make a difference. my guess is that it's already been rigged.

Friday, October 1, 2004

yippee!!! a letter

the university of texas at arlington
office of the dean
college of liberal arts

september 27, 2004

my house
my city state zip

dear my name:

welcome to the university of texas at arlington college of liberal arts. i'm confident you will find your experience here to be a positive and rewarding one.

the college of liberal arts at uta is characterized by a diversity of intellectual styles and interest. our thirteen departments and programs cluster into social science, humanities, and fine arts. faculty in the college are caring, dedicated teachers who produce quality research. this balance of teaching and research results in excellent instruction. graduates of liberal arts disciplines are well prepared for a wide range of employment opportunities in public and private sector organizations, as well as for continuing study at the graduate level.

the college also provides a number of special programs and opportunities for students. lecture series and seminars, conferences, gallery showings and theatrical productions to round out the educational experience at uta and enhance the learning community you are about to enter.

congratulations on your decision to attend uta.

[digitized signature]
beth s. wright
interim dean of liberal arts