Friday, March 31, 2006

Partial Birth Abortion Ban

The following image is a political cartoon by Ann Telnaes that was published online on 10/21/03:

This image is a political cartoon by Ann Telnaes (10/21/05) it shows a caricature of President Bush seated at a table facing the audience and behind him is a phalanx of dark suited grinning men. Each of the men behind the president is labled 'GUY' and the caption reads 'The PARTIAL BIRTH ABORATION BAN signing ceremony'.

I sent it to Tom, among others, and got a quick response:


This one I can't get with you bub! I support the ban...I have read a good bit about this "procedure" and the occurrence of its legitimate use is rare - the occurrence of its use as an after-the-fact abortion of an inconvenient child is a dirty little secret. I am more ambivalent about abortion in general, perhaps because I have a kid, than I was in my youth. Could also be the 2 abortions that occurred where I would have been a father... One done with my consent, the other done without my knowledge (and a different relationship).

I really am big on the RU486 approach and wish america would "get with it" as the only ethical after-the-fact birth control method. I do not want to see a wholesale overturning of Roe v. Wade, and personally doubt this will happen. Too many rich republican women getting abortions just like po' demmicrat ones!

Your pal, Tom


Some thoughts on the subject:

  1. I'm pretty sure that the courts are going to strike it down, because as usual there isn't an exception for legitimate medical emergencies, thus rendering all the shouting moot. This was just an exercise in appeasing the religious right, nothing more. Sometimes I think they leave that exception out on purpose knowing it won't pass muster in the courts.

  2. There is another 3rd trimester abortion procedure which is never mentioned in any of the P.B.A. bills. I forget the clinical name but it consists of killing the baby in the uterus, cutting it up, and extracting the pieces through the cervix. To me this one is a lot worse than P.B.A. It's also harder and more dangerous, but if the ban isn't struck down in the courts then that's the procedure they're going to start using. Since legislatures consistently leave this procedure out of those bills (and Dr Bill Frist oughta know) this to me is further evidence that conservative politicians aren't serious about banning 3rd trimester abortions.

  3. Partial-birth abortion may be rare but that doesn't mean it's never necessary (as opposed to voluntary). As far as I'm concerned banning the procedure is wrong when what you're trying to do is ban the behavior of choosing to have such an abortion when there is no medical reason to.

  4. Although I too believe the fetus in the 3rd trimester is pretty much a human being and shouldn't be aborted if it can be helped, I'm also not the one who's pregnant. In my humble opinion (and with all due respect to your feelings & experiences on this subject) when, where, & how a woman has an abortion is nobody's business but her own. If men were the ones who got pregnant these bills would never pass muster must less both houses of congress.

I've become very cynical lately. Education is the key. Education would empower women and allow them to take the necessary preventive steps so that P.B.A. will someday be the rare procedure it should be. Education to empower women has been shown to work in 3rd world countries, but something like that for sex education will never happen here. I'd like to see RU486 dispensed by school nurses along with honest sexual advice. I'd like to see condom dispensers in high school bathrooms. I'd like to see health education nationwide realize that teaching abstinence is silly because Pandora's box on this subject was opened almost 40 years ago. I'd like to see the Catholic Church take its collective head out of its collective ass on condom use to fight AIDS. I'd like to live in a society that doesn't think kissing a woman's breast requires an "NC-17" rating while cutting it off gets an "R". There are so many preventive & educational steps we as a society could take, but they're never going to happen.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Sarah Kaye at Rutgers

Originally written 02/04/06:

All of the discussions of late about the Kaye elders moving to Texas and being near Sarah brought back a pleasant memory for me recently that I wanted to share with my fellow Rancho Marfil members. Around 1979 I was 3 years out of high school and I had just returned to the Livingston College campus at Rutgers in Piscataway. There's always a certain amount of excitement and trepidation at the start a new school year. This time though was different because this was the year that a close friend from the neighborhood would be there too. Sarah was starting her first year at Rutgers on the Cook College campus in eastern New Brunswick.

I had just gotten back from dropping off the van that I'd borrowed to haul my stuff down there and was sitting at my desk looking out the window and wondering how I was going to get in touch with Sarah. Dope that I was I'd never gotten together beforehand to discuss how we'd meet up. Being a freshmen the thought obviously never crossed her mind. She no doubt was dealing with all of the attendant feelings that goes with leaving home for the first time and wasn't aware that we'd be like two islands unable to see or communicate with each other. I on the other hand should've known better.

Thinking about it today I suppose I could've called Mrs. Kaye as she would've known where Sarah was. The reasons I didn't were probably numerous (men never asking directions, no change for the payphone, etc.), but the main one I think was the demon that was sneaking up my arm to sit on my shoulder. It was a time in my life where I was just beginning to understand how to be more social, to curb my negative thoughts, and to swat the demon off whenever I realized it was whispering in my ear.

The welcome letter from the school always included instructions on where to find the dorm assignments and where to pick up one's room key. It also included the obligatory map of each campus at the university. At Livingston that year the location of the room assignments were at the student center. The walls inside and out were plastered with mimeographed pages of the endless lists of every student and the location of their dorm and room number.

That of course was many hours ago when I still had the van. Now I had my car back, I was alone at my desk awaiting the arrival of my new roomie, thinking of ways to contact Sarah, and staring out the window while the demon tried to lull me into a stupor. That's when it hit me. Cook College, being part of Rutgers, probably did it the same way as Livingston, mimeographed sheets on the walls of their student center.

I grabbed the pseudo-map of the Cook/Douglas campus and took off on a new quest. I say "pseudo-map" because as it typical of these kinds of things it wasn't drawn to scale. The roads in and through were not very clear as it's purpose was mostly to identify parking and building locations. Needless to say finding the student center wasn't all that easy and when I got there the walls were bereft of room assignments. A quick inquiry at the coffee shop told me that that Cook probably posted their room assignments at the library, but the student cashier wasn't sure. Off I went again, studying the pseudo-map and picking my way through the byways of the campus to the Cook library.

The lists were posted on the outside on the walls of the buliding and they went round, on the columns, and on one or two bulletin boards. Quite haphazard, but I finally found Sarah's name. According to the map her dorm's location was in a clutch of buildings that had only one identifier so as to which building she was in was anybody's guess. When I finally got there I picked the building I thought was most likely her dorm and went inside.

Past the door was the common room and right in front was a receptionist's desk with a student sitting behind it. This was a new experience for me. Of all the campus dorms I'd ever been in this was the first one with a receptionist. Thinking that since her desk was right in front of the door that meant that I was obligated to speak with her before doing anything else, I greeted her and said that I'd come to see a friend of mine. She responded by saying that I wasn't allowed in the dorm. I asked her how was I supposed to see my friend and I think she said something to the effect that I should have called my friend first so that she could have met me at the door.

As I leaned on the desk to contemplate how I would find my way through this latest obstacle I heard a conversation coming down a hall beyond. The voices were both female and the first voice said something like "...but how are you going to find him, the university is huge" and the other more familiar voice responded with "I don't know but I have to try..." and then when they entered the common room a very loud "JOE!" I looked up and Sarah was running towards me and she gave me a big hug.

Turns out she had been sitting in her dorm room terribly home-sick thinking the same thing I was. What a coicidence running into each other in the common room of her dorm. Had I arrived a few minutes later we would have missed each other completely. Later she told me that the receptionist was only there for the Douglas students who were housed in the right half of the dorm. (Douglas was an all-female college that shared the campus with a very co-ed Cook.) When I stopped at the receptionist's desk she just assumed I wanted to see a Douglas student. Had I just walked past her into the left side of the dorm she wouldn't have paid me any mind.

We walked around the campus, and later drove around to see the sites, just talking and laughing. I seem to recall there was a lot of jumping up and down on her part along with a near constant Kaye grin. I'd never seen anyone so happy to see a familiar face. I of course was very happy too. Having a close friend from home in the intimidating environment of the university was most welcome. In-between classes and studying Sarah and I would be able to share some quality time and needless to say my demon was squashed flat.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Tolkien on the Brain II

Originally sent 02/04/01


> Write back and tell me what's doing.

What's doin'? Let's see...

After lynching a Satyr, a contingent of temple guards from Hills Edge attacked us tonight looking for the set of Hoak's teeth, which were ensconced in Pud's jaw. I thought we were all goners but we, and some Centaurs, vanquished the dozen or so marauders, including a wizard and a high priestess, but they killed Pud with a staff that had turned into an anaconda and squeezed him to death before we could kill it.

The priestess, being chased by Topaz's tiger amulet and losing hit points, broke her wand in half killing herself, a temple guard, the tiger amulet, and nearly killing Topaz and Brenda. Topaz and her tiger were a pair of killing machines, destroying the wizard and several guards. Sylvanis and Brenda's deity were with me tonight as I could do no wrong on the field of battle. My flail was a most lethal weapon and I killed at least four guards single handedly. Without Brenda's "Bless" spell it could have gone differently for me.

Myshka's plight was very funny as he succumbed to a sleep spell while still on his horse and was driven right through the battle and out the other side. Eventually his horse threw him off and he lost sight of it completely. He woke up in the middle of the group of Centaurs who agreed to help us in our fight.

We extracted the teeth and buried Pud, and the lynched Satyr, with high honors. Tomorrow we will try and bribe Nimbus to let us pass the gate above the waterfall on our journey to find the Gate of Nightmares. We might try selling Myshka to him as a slave and then stealing him back afterwards. If we can't get him back then that's OK too because this half-orc has been annoying us all for more than a few rides.

Sylvanis advised me in a dream that I must be at seventh level before we reach the Gate of Nightmares or I will probably not survive. (I have 6,000 more points to go before I reach that goal.) Inside the gate is the skull of Hoak, which, along with the teeth, will aid us in our quest to free Hill's Edge of its evil personages and restore the temple to Tyr.

Wish us luck, Edrahil (son of Edrohil, 6th level druid)

- ahem -

Oh, you wanted to know what's going on with us, here on planet Earth; well that's different....

Donna's back still gives her pain, but it's better then what she was suffering through before the surgery. We'll be going back to her surgeon soon for our last visit and hopefully we can get some good advice on alleviating the rest of this pain.

My mother seems to have completely recovered from both her hip fracture and breast cancer surgeries. In case I didn't tell you, she broke her femur clean off her hip about a year ago and had a recurrence of breast six months ago. The hip ball was replaced and she was in PT for a while. With the cancer she had the combination mastectomy, tummy tuck, and breast reconstruction all in the same operation.

At the same time six months ago my father was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, which is kind of like M.S., only weird. He gets very weak and often falls and can't lift himself up. He's never had anything like this before and it make him feel vulnerable, so he compensates by being a stubborn pain in the butt doing things he shouldn't be. The holiday season was no fun as he got a concussion and ended up in the local emergency room twice before his doctor got him a room at Mt. Sinai. He's been on Prednazone for awhile to build up his strength for surgery to remove the thymus gland in his chest, which usually does the trick for M.G. sufferers. His surgery date is two weeks away.

The weekend before Thanksgiving I helped my mother go and see her dying sister in northern California. We had to get an earlier flight because she suddenly gave up trying to stay alive and started going down-hill very fast. We only wanted to stay a few days but we ended up being there a week because we couldn't get an earlier flight out because of Thanksgiving. She died on our last day there. It was very emotionally healthy experience for all concerned. My aunt was an alternative psychotherpist and at one time her practice included all kinds of therapists and their differing approaches. That house and its inhabitants were steeped in mental therapy for many years and this experience definitely had that kind of feel. The tears were healthy and welcomed. Quite a different experience from what I would have expected.

Our two cats still hate each other and must still be kept apart.

Did I tell you that we did some work on our house? New siding, new roof, new windows, new bedroom walls and a refinished floor. We got rid of the useless dormer and had a small barrel vaulted peek built over the front door.

Because of Donna's back we traded in her low-riding Acura Integra and bought her a VW Passat. She in that stage where she has to park it far away from any possible door dings. I keep praying she'll get a door ding soon so we can stop this nonsense.

I'm back and forth with my job and things. For several months I was doing web-type programming on an IBM iSeries server using Net.Data, but now I just got stuck with an EDI contract for the next 8-12 months. EDI is the most boring thing on the planet and I'm not looking forward to it. I'm currently teaching myself Java so I can get certified in a nine month time frame.

What's up with you and your family?

Love, Joe

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Message of Small (and Great) Importance

Originally sent 10/31/04:


I spoke with my Mom tonight. No word yet on whether or not she has the B2 cancer, but we're still hopeful. She said she'll probably find out at her therapy session on Monday, but that is not why I'm writing this email...

I'm writing to you tonight on a matter of small and great importance. Small because the matter itself is small and not very significant in the whole realm of our lives. Great because its potential for hurt feelings is unpredictable. Obviously that is a road we don't want to travel and even more obviously you and Evan are very important to us and wouldn't want you to feel hurt in any way.

Last year you made a contribution in our names to the Heifer Project for 1/3 of a goat. At the time I wrote back and told you that it was a unique and thoughtful gift and it was. We totally understood your feelings and motivations, and on the surface supporting such a cause looks like an altruistic act, but the reality is much more complex.

Many non-profit organizations fall into the age-old trap of assuming that the American way of doing things is the best thing for the third world. In most cases after the supporters have finished cheering from the front porch the Law of Unintended Consequences always comes through the back door where no one is expecting it. In the case of the Heifer Project they're trying to export American farming techniques and the results more often than not includes deforestation, the disconnection of the land from the people, increased mortality from imitating American diets, economic hardship, etc.

Here is an article that explain more fully what I'm talking about: What's wrong with the Heifer Project. If you really have some time you might peruse this one too: The Meat Mob Muscles In.

As vegetarians we of course want to support groups and organizations that promote those ideals, but we're not as a matter of practicality against the consumption of meat. As much as we might think it would be better for the world if everyone became herbivores, we also recognize that it's a pipe dream that will never happen. The best we can do therefore is to support those organizations that promote the humane treatment of domestic farm animals the world over. Among other things this means eradicating American-style factory farming techniques which has helped to turn animals in the eyes of Americans from sentient beings into product. The Heifer Project, for all it's good intentions, is another small brick in a wall that we want torn down.

Not that I'm making assumptions, but just in case you were considering making a contribution in our names to a non-profit organization this year I was hoping that you would be open to some suggestions. What follows is a list of organizations any one of which would be most welcome to make a contribution to in our names:We hope your feelings haven't been hurt by this email. We should have sent it last year, but we were afraid.

Much love, Joe & Donna

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Tolkien Ring on the Brain

From...: Joe Code (AS/400 High Priest)
To.....: Jack Fozzi (Network High Council)
Date...: 06/12/92
Subject: LIBRA and BIZNET, Fellowship of the Ringed Network.

Dear Jack, Counsel to the Rings,

When is LIBRA going to become a member of BIZNET?

My kindred have been waiting long for the new era to be born and it still has not come to pass. Though the Librans may be a fair and interesting people in a far off land, that does not mean we cannot include them as equal members in the BIZNET fellowship.

When the messenger came to your doorstep in the Northern realm of Bergen you responded in haste and said " the end of April the deed will be done and the fellowship of the network will be made whole again." It is now June and the rings are still broken. I realize that your time was taken up by the new evil that has risen across the river Hudson on the island which is long. Therefore I will not berate you for not keeping your word.

Hear this warning: The rings must be joined fully and the fellowship of the network made whole again on or about the beginning of the summer. If this deed is not carried out then a greater evil (Greater even than Arthur, son of Andersen the Terrible) will rise from the swamps in the land of Secaucus and smote the procrastinators with fire.

We must talk.

Hail and farewell for now,
    Joe, Wizard of Biz

Saturday, March 11, 2006

My Dad is a Pain in the Butt

Originally written on 09/12/03


My dad was in the hospital over Labor Day weekend. He was at work on Sunday and he went to the bathroom, sat down, and all this blood came out of him. Now if I was his age I would have called 911. Not him; he's going to drive himself to the hospital, but first he has to turn off the midrange computer at work. 15 minutes later he's in the bathroom again with more blood coming out of him. Now he's scared, but does he call 911? No, stubborn pain-in-the-butt that he is he gets in his car and drives to the hospital. Does he drive to the hospital just up the road from his business? No, of course not. He drives to the hospital where his fricken doctors are registered which is 20 minutes away.

In the hospital waiting room he goes to the bathroom again, more blood. They get him on a gurney and since he looks OK they're not rushing to give him blood or fluids just asking questions. Then the blood comes out of him on the gurney and it becomes like one of those emergency room reality shows where doctors and nurses are rushing all around sticking him with needles and barking orders. At that point he became very pale and lost consciousness.

It's 10:30 am and Donna and I are asleep. This is normal because we're not morning people. Last night we had attended a Rancho Marfil reunion and we were up kind of late. Some friends said that they would call the next day if they were available and when the phone range I didn't get up right away because I figured it was them and I was too tired. Fifteen minutes later I got up and listened to the message.

It was a friend of my parents calling from the church saying my Dad was on his way to the hospital and so was my Mom. Given this wording I wasn't quite sure which one of them was sick, but I had a feeling it was my Dad. I called Ed's house (no answer), Mom's cell phone (not turned on), Dad's cell phone (no answer), Lou was at the shore, and Aunt Betsy wouldn't have known any more than I did at that point, so I threw on some clothes, told Donna what I knew and drove to the hospital.

Mom was sitting in the waiting room and she was a basket case. They wouldn't let her in the emergency room because the nurses and doctors were still a flurry of activity creating the maze of tubes and needles around him. She told me that Ed was at Swan Harbor (his in-laws residence in PA) and she didn't have the number. When we finally got to see him he was very pale and barely conscious. When the admitting person came by she asked about insurance and Mom unloaded on her to the point that I had to intervene. (Don't get her started on her health insurance problems or you'll be talking with her about it for hours.)

Eventually his internal bleeding stopped and the activity around him started to slow down. Many fluids were dripping or being pumped into him, his doctor was there, he started waking up and looking less pale. They assessed the symptoms and concluded that a dyverticulitus polyp must have burst. (They produce a lot of blood and then eventually stop where as other kinds of bleeding in the intestinal system either don't shed so much blood or don't stop.) An angioplasty through the artery in his groin was inconclusive so they admitted him into ICU for observation.

Lou called me from the road crying and Ed drove home that night from Swan Harbor. We all went to dinner at the Bronze Stallion, which is normally very good, but on this particular night sucked. We tried to convince Mom to keep her cell phone turned on 24x7 but I don't think she quite grasped the concept. She didn't even know her cell phone number; we had to dig deep in the phone's memory for it.

The next day the nurses in ICU told us that he constantly bugged them and the doctors to let him go home. Dad spent 24 hours in ICU and then they moved him into a semi-private room. 24 hours after that he was out of the hospital and Uncle Hans drove him home. Mom had to hide his car keys because he wanted to go to work even though the doctors told him to take it easy for another 24 hours.

Apparently he's had some inkling that he had dyverticulitis for some time now and that he should stay away from seeds and nuts. Does this stop from eating poppy-seed bagels every day? Of course not, but all in all, he's doing OK now and I think he's now sticking to the advice. This week he worked a little too hard because they had a show.

Mom has some nausea from the injections but she hasn't lost any appetite and she's actually gained two pounds. I figure that if she ever does start to lose her appetite we could score her some medicinal weed.

Anyway, can't write more, gotta get back to making the doughnuts..

Love, Joe