To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I read of black people who are confused as to what to think about J. Wright. They are confused because their own pastors say some of the things Wright says.

The church I attended in Memphis, while predominantly white, has black members, deacons, and elders. But time was, in conscious memory of some of the older members, that black people would not have been allowed to attend at all; they would have been turned away at the door. I daresay that if the black folks who now say that their pastors have said "some of" what Wright has said could have attended those services, they would have heard some familiar things from the preacher there too. It's not impossible that a church, and a pastor, can get the major things about Christianity right, and still be profoundly wrong about some pretty important stuff. Of course, one might say that racism and race relations are the most important things there are. If that's the case, then we aren't dealing with a church anymore.

Wright says that white people aren't comfortable with the styles of black churches; they are loud, the members move around. Surely he is not so stupid as to think that style is what we might find objectionable. "God damn America" is not style, it is substance, and inexcusable substance at that. His recent assertion that criticism of him is actually criticism of "the black church" is arrogance in the extreme. And his complaints about being "crucified" (while looking like he is mightily enjoying the attention) are actually blasphemous. Does he think he's Jesus?

Here is what I think is happening to Obama. I've seen it happen to some white folks a generation or two back. They spend a lot of time, a LOT of time, associating with people like them and they fall into a habit of thinking and speaking a certain way. Maybe they don't mean any harm, but they never stop and really think if they're being racist, or if they're being fair, or how others outside the group would think of what they're saying and doing. At some point they get caught out, and they are extremely embarrassed, mortified if they have the character to be, and they have to apologize and hopefully straighten up. I think Obama meant all that stuff he said about wanting to be a unifier and I think he truly never really thought about how that was not compatible with lending his supporting presence and money to a church that preached that hateful stuff. I bet he gets it now.

And I hope we get to the point that more black people in America can feel comfortable openly disagreeing with racist claptrap when it comes from people like Wright. Maybe, in the end, that will happen and it will end up being a positive thing for America.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thinking more about Abortion Girl. Erin O'Connor has a few posts about her and about Yale, with a couple of judicious comments from me.

I am reminded of a column that Mona Charen wrote in 1999. It apparently made an impression on me.

Banned in Boston?

Back in the '80s, the heyday of muscular conservatism, when the Cold War still offered the contrast between left-wing totalitarianism and the free world, we contrasted ourselves proudly with the left by proclaiming our dedication to freedom above all else.

But there was always a small voice in the back of our minds whispering that freedom cannot be an end in itself. Freedom is precious, worth dying for, we believe. But it is possible for freedom to become a fetish. The founders of this country were lovers of liberty, but they did not place liberty at the apex of desirables. That spot was saved for virtue.

And the founders would have been amazed, it is safe to say, to see their documents interpreted as license for the sort of degrading, conscience-killing, soul-destroying stuff with which we regularly entertain ourselves.

The founders sought to establish a virtuous republic, free of the vices, competitions and decadence of Europe. Whether they achieved it or not is a matter of debate (nothing human is ever perfect), but it does seem odd to find ourselves at the end of the millennium, so keen to protect our physical health and so fastidious about shielding our children from every imaginable physical danger, yet so unwilling even to consider measures that would protect all of us from moral degeneracy.

Shvarts's teachers are in trouble for not stopping her asinine, puerile "art" project. One wonders why they didn't: because they didn't think they could? Because they couldn't be sure it really wasn't "art"? Because they are completely, utterly lacking in taste and judgment? Because they didn't want to censor her or to appear like a bunch of fuddy-duddies?

I'll say up front that I don't get a lot of art. The fact that I don't get it doesn't mean there's nothing to get, of course. If other people get it that's enough. I don't pass judgment on things and say "that's not art" because it doesn't do anything for me. That is totally different from saying that something is so disgusting and inhuman that no one should even contemplate it, let alone pretend to do it. Call me a fuddy-duddy, I don't mind making that judgment call at all. Is that where her teachers were confused?

I had a conversation with a friend who happens to be an artist, about what photography and then programs like Photoshop have done to art. Up until 100 years ago, the ability to put pen or brush to paper or canvas and create a recognizable and perhaps flattering portrait was enough to make an artist's career. Once it became easy and commonplace for anyone to make a likeness of a person or a landscape or a close-up view of a flower, especially when it became possible to enhance it on the computer, the idea of what constitutes great art and a great artist inevitably had to change. If enough people get the idea that Shvarts's project is an example of what art had to change into, we might see the dismantling of university art programs. Even now the administration at Yale is promising closer oversight of the art department. What hath Ms. Shvarts wrought.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

So I'm rereading Edith Wharton's fluffy little novel The Glimpses of the Moon and I ran across this:

He sent a pneumatic telegram to Mrs. Nicholas Lansing to say that he would call on her that afternoon at four.

This is Paris, 1922 or so. What in the heck, I asked the longsuffering R who was trying to read his own book, could a pneumatic telegram be? Is it referring to the inflated tires of the bicycle messengers? For once R couldn't answer my question so I looked it up.

Check this out: The Internet of Tubes

How extremely cool.
OK, who has heard of Lenny Dee? He apparently was, like, a virtuoso of the Hammond organ. Here he is covering a Duke Ellington tune, "Caravan".

I love YouTube.

Art has lost its mind.

Y'all know what I'm talking about.

Shvarts explains her 'repeated self-induced miscarriages'

(and let me say that I do think the whole thing was a hoax - the "fabricators" she refers to are herself.)

When considering my own bodily form, I recognize its potential as extending beyond its ability to participate in a normative function. While my organs are capable of engaging with the narrative of reproduction . the time-based linkage of discrete events from conception to birth . the realm of capability extends beyond the bounds of that specific narrative chain. These organs can do other things, can have other purposes, and it is the prerogative of every individual to acknowledge and explore this wide realm of capability.


When I contemplate my body, I realize that it can do unusual things. While I [probably] could have a baby, that is not the limit of the capabilities of my reproductive organs. If I want to, I can see what else they can do.

LIKE WHAT, FOR INSTANCE? Have painful periods and make a mess? Is there a (lucky) girl out there who doesn't know that? Call me when her reproductive organs have constructed a replica of the Eiffel Tower.

(And what's with the weird punctuation?)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

My poor blog. I'm not dead, really.

I'm having a bit of tendinitis, in my left shoulder; have been for several weeks. My range of motion is limited, strength is decreased, and it's fairly painful. I'm taking celebrex and ibuprofen, using Biofreeze and the occasional ice pack, and had a cortisone injection into the joint space last Monday. Gentle stretching, trying not to overuse it and irritate it further, which is problematic in the laboratory. It's still just me in the lab, although we are in the process of getting at least some part-time help. My mom suggests that this may actually be arthritis. I'll talk to the orthop. about it when I go back in May. Anyway, I'm functional and all but I don't feel like being very expressive about my life right now.

F tells me that the increase in her Nadolol dosage appears to be pretty effective in preventing her migraines. She is now having the experience I had at half the dose, of feeling tired and stressed when school is driving her nuts, and finding herself wondering where her headache is. Also, she gets the visual disturbances - arcs of light obscuring her vision and so forth - braces for the headache to follow, and it never happens. This is victory. It's got her tremor fairly knocked down too, which is a plus.

And she's worked out how to ship and/or store her stuff at the end of the semester, allowing her to fly home as opposed to somebody having to drive her and her things. (She has no car.) We put money in her account today so she can book her flight. If she were in school closer to us, it would be so much more convenient for us to work all this stuff out ... which is why she needed to not be in school closer to us. I'm a take-charge, work-it-out kind of person and I frequently have to make myself not solve problems so that other people get the chance to do it.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Hillary lies, surprise, surprise.

(CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton will stop telling an emotional story about a uninsured pregnant woman who died after being denied medical care, Clinton's campaign said.

A hospital has raised questions over the accuracy of the story, and Clinton's campaign has said although they had no reason to doubt the story, they were unable to confirm the details.

In the story, Clinton describes a woman from rural Ohio who was making minimum wage at a local pizza shop. The woman, who was uninsured, became pregnant.

Clinton said the woman ran into trouble and went to a hospital in a nearby county but was denied treatment because she couldn't afford a $100 payment.

In her speeches, Clinton said the woman later was taken to the hospital by ambulance and lost the baby. The young woman was then taken by helicopter to a Columbus hospital where she died of complications.

The New York senator heard the story during a campaign visit to a family's living room in Pomeroy, Ohio, in late February. Bryan Holman was hosting the candidate and told Clinton the story. She has repeated it frequently since then.

As recently as Friday night in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Clinton said she was "just aching inside" as she was listening to the story.

"It is so wrong, in this good, great and rich country, that a young woman and her baby would die because she didn't have health insurance or a hundred dollars to get examined," she said.

While Clinton never named the hospital in her speech, the woman she was referring to was treated at O'Bleness Memorial Hospital in Athens, Ohio. The hospital said the woman did indeed have insurance, and, at least at their hospital, she was never turned away.

Hospital Chief Executive Officer Rick Castrop in a statement said, "we reviewed the medical and patient accounts of the patient" after she was named in a newspaper story about Clinton's stump speech.

"There is no indication that she was ever denied medical care at any time, for any reason. We clearly reject any perception that we ever denied any care to this woman."

A hospital spokesperson confirmed to CNN the woman had insurance. She said the hospital decided to come forward after people in the community began to question if they had denied her care.

Clinton's speech accurately reflects what she was told that day, but the campaign admits they were not able to confirm the account.

Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee said, "She had no reason to doubt his word."

"Candidates are told stories by people all the time, and it's common for candidates to retell those stories. It's not always possible to fully vet them, but we try. For example, medical records are confidential. In this case, we tried but weren't able to fully vet the story," he said.

Elleithee added, "If the hospital claims it didn't happen that way, we certainly respect that, and she won't repeat the story."

"She never mentions the hospital by name and isn't trying to cast blame. She tells this story because it illustrates the point that we have a very serious health care problem in America. That's a point very few people will dispute."

1 - Before you repeat a story, with the national spotlight on you, you CHECK IT OUT FIRST TO MAKE SURE IT'S TRUE. I cannot BELIEVE that she and her campaign don't get this. "Clinton's speech accurately reflects what she was told that day, but the campaign admits they were not able to confirm the account." Then you don't include it in your speeches. You find something you can confirm. If you can't find anything you can confirm, what does that tell you? "Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee said, 'She had no reason to doubt his word.'" Okay, so she just automatically believes everything she's told? Boy, am I filled with confidence.

2 - Lying is especially bad when you are calling good evil or evil, good. (Isaiah 5:20) The spokesperson at the hospital that the woman was taken to hotly denies that they refused her anything. They had to defend themselves against Hillary's casual slander because "people in the community began to question if they had denied her care." It is WRONG to make false accusations against people who are doing the right thing.

3 - Continuing on a theme in (1) - If you have to lie to make a point, people will start to wonder if your point is valid. People will in fact dispute whether we "have a very serious health care problem in America" if the best you can come up with to support that is stories that aren't true.

4 - I've thought for years that Hillary has a problem with honesty - that is, she doesn't get the difference between truth and lies. Good speech is speech that gets her ahead. Bad speech is speech that doesn't get her ahead. Remember that back in 1996 William Safire told us that she is a congenital liar. Nothing has changed.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Nzingha has had her fifth and, she says, last baby. She did not, as she had earlier threatened, name him "Shock", "Surprise", or "You have to be kidding me". I think it's a good thing that human pregnancies last long enough for those of us who did not plan the offspring that we get, to reconcile us to what is coming. Even those of us who meant to get pregnant have a little reconciliation to do as we begin to realize how the path we've embarked on will change us forever.

He is a beautiful child. But they did have a bit of a surprise even at the end: Umar has Down syndrome. Fortunately, he seems to have skipped the heart defects and other problems that sometimes come with. Still, it's something for Nzingha to come to terms with, as well as getting over her emergency C-section and dealing with her other children and, as she says, PPA (post-partum aggression). Nzingha lost her mother to cancer not too long back and I'm sure part of her distress is due to still missing her and not having her mama to help her through all of this. And Saudi doesn't have much to offer by way of services for kids with Down's and so forth, so that's another hurdle. As a newborn he won't need more than the TLC any newborn needs, but I know in the States they start early intervention no later than the toddler years.

Nzingha is a strong woman, she loves her family and faces the slings and arrows of life with humor and determination, and I'm sure she and her family will be fine. Right now, I ask my readers to join me in praying for all of them: that Umar's doctors have skill and wisdom so that he will get all appropriate medical care, that Nzingha's other children will continue to support and help her by behaving well and loving their brother, that she will have calm and serenity in her home, and that she finds a way to get some rest so she can heal physically and feel at peace.