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04 Mar

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A Baby in the Eye of the Beholder

March 4, 2005 | By |

The Corner on National Review Online Good catch. On NRO today, Kathryn Lopez noted the sad demise of yet another Hollywood “fairytale” — the Denise Richards/Charlie Sheen marriage — and then highlighted this quote from Reuters:

Richards, 34, who is six months pregnant, filed divorce papers in Los Angeles on Wednesday and asked for custody of the couple’s year-old daughter as well as the baby she is expecting with Sheen.

Since she wants the baby, it’s, well, a baby. Funny how that works.

Turns out that’s the way it works in federal studies too. The NIH and the EPA funded a study, just reported in the February issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention that found that urban air pollution can cause chromosomal damage in babies. Here’s the key:

Prenatal exposure was assessed by questionnaire, personal air monitoring during the third trimester, and PAH-DNA adducts in umbilical cord blood.
Basically, they kept track of how much air pollution the mother was exposed to, and then checked the baby’s blood once it was born for chromosomal abnormalities.

The bottom line is that in looking for ways to prevent cancer, they are starting with — and the feds are funding — research on “potential people.” Those are the very same “fetuses” that you can file for custody for, if you want them . . .or abort them if you do not.

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04 Mar

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Gilgamesh is gross!

March 4, 2005 | By |

I recently read the epic poem Gilgamesh for an upcoming Liberty Fund conference, organized by Frederick Turner, in Austin. (Fred is the renowned poet and author of a modern epic, Genesis, about the settlement of Mars.)

In my ongoing attempt to expand the Penta-Posse’s literary horizons beyond the Adventures of Captain Underpants, I snapped up an audio reading of Gilgamesh when I saw one at the library. On our next road-trip to see Jack’s mom, I felt like quite the uber-mom when the Penta-Posse became engrossed in the story of Gilgamesh, the ancient king of Uruk and his friend Enkidu, a wild man who lived among the beasts.

Problem: a key element of the story is Enkidu’s transformation into full humanity . . .through seduction by a harlot.

The print version read that they “lay together” and she “taught him the woman’s art.” That probably would have gone over their heads. The audio version, however, translates her “welcoming” him pretty explicitly. We’re riding along enjoying the story and all of a sudden we hear, “she spread her. . .” Total brain freeze! I looked over at Jack and I could see his brain racing, “Where is the off button, where is the off button?!!?

Then, that particular phrase turned out to be a refrain in the poem. No, no! Where is the off button??!!

Finally, the story moved on to tamer things.

Total silence in the back. Jack and I were still not quite breathing.

Then, suddenly, we hear the Diva: “EWWW! That’s gross!”

So, it’s official: Gilgamesh is gross. On the other hand, maybe this could be a new, more classic, approach to sex ed in the schools . . .or not.

For the record, the Dude did think that Gilgamesh’s fight with the ferocious Humbaba of the seven terrors, was “tight.”

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03 Mar

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Gandalf and audacity

March 3, 2005 | By |

Gandalf.png

The Dude (with the help of the Diva) discovered that Gandalf has something to say about audacity on PlayStation 2. They worked very hard to get the quote for mom’s blog. And it’s perfect:

For ourselves there is no hope. This is our final act to give Frodo time — time to end the evil that marshalls before us.

We now give witness that the day of men faces the final test. The eye of Sauron will be upon us, mistaking our audacity for power.

We must hold his gaze long enough for the unthinkable to become real. For hope to conquer all.

At first, the Dude gave me only the part of this quote about audacity — that evil would mistake it for power. And I was disappointed. Where is the inspiration in that?

But it’s all in the context: sometimes we are powerless; sometimes we do confront circumstances and opposition that are overwhelming. I loved Lord of the Rings for the reminder that it is a great honor to give your all on the side of good, standing against evil, even if it costs you everything. And even the weakest among us has a part to play.

You just have to go with Gimli! “Certainty of death! Small chance of success. . .What are we waiting for?” There’s audacity!

(Thx for LOTR transcript.)

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02 Mar

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West Wing propaganda on stem cell research

March 2, 2005 | By |

And speaking of declining ratings . . . is it any wonder that West Wing is headed into the tank? The show has become nothing but preaching and propagandizing. Tonight’s episode had a story line about a legislative battle over stem cell research.

The scene that was supposed to pluck the heart-strings featured the Jimmy Smits character persuading another Congressman to vote for stem cell research by arguing that “we are dragging our heels when we could be alleviating suffering.”

Nonsense. I’m skipping over the horrible irony of invoking “suffering” on the side arguing for destroying life — or as Smits parsed it: “the potential person.” Instead I want to highlight the propaganda specific to the stem cell issue. The truth is that the really promising research in this area involves adult stem cells, not embryonic stem cells.

A great resource on this issue is Joni Eareckson Tada. She has been confined to a wheelchair since a diving accident left her a quadriplegic in 1967. She knows real suffering — and she opposes embryonic stem cell research. Here’s a link to her organization and solid research on this issue.

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02 Mar

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FOX ratings rocket upward

March 2, 2005 | By |

CNN sees a double-digit decline in viewers. . .the report says this is the sixth straight month that FOX has beat all (cable) comers. . . hmmmmm. . . .

You heard it here first: CNN will try to fix the problem with a new talk show hosted by Michael Moore — and Janeane Garofolo as cohost for balance.

Oops, there goes my shot at Tucker Carlson’s seat.

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01 Mar

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Beijing +10 and the Androgyny Agenda

March 1, 2005 | By |

Beijing +10 opened at the UN yesterday. More on that in the days ahead; today be sure to see Steve Rhoads’ article in NRO on the fallacies of the androgyny agenda many delegates will be pushing.

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28 Feb

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I’m in Vogue magazine

February 28, 2005 | By |

In an article on Katie Couric, this month’s Vogue magazine covers the reasoned audacity v. Naomi Wolf duel from November’s Today Show appearance. The article isn’t online, so my Director of Puffery is working on getting a copy . . . check back soon!

UPDATE: Here’s the Vogue mention at the jump. Check out how I was dressed in a “sharp” red suit, while Naomi looked, um, “luscious” in pink?!?! Vogue thinks Naomi was using pink to send a message. . What would that be? Pink now means: “my candidate just lost . . .but don’t move to Canada, the sun will come out tomorrow?”

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Better red than dead

February 24, 2005 | By | No Comments

My friend Bill McClay (Professor of History, UT/Chattanooga) gave a talk in DC at the Ethics and Public Policy Center last night, arguing that it is odd that the Democrats have given up the color red without a peep. Odd, and stupid strategically.

Historically, beginning with the French Revolution, red has symbolized “a commitment to progressive reform. . human freedom. . .liberation.”

And, it appears purely through chance (if one believes in chance) that the color now belongs firmly to the Republicans. Red-state America is here to stay in the public consciousness of this generation.

A focus on color may seem quirky, but emblems and iconography matter. Particularly when they are deeply embedded in our shared historical experience. Red invokes a “grand commitment to high ideals and the good of humanity.”

But the real problem for the Democrats is that this redecoration of the ideological map fits. The GOP is now the party of progress, the new Progressives — and liberals are leading the opposition to change. Bill pointed out: look at tax reform, social security reform, education reform . . . on it goes.

The Democrats are the Establishment now and they are all about the status quo; are they the new conservatives?

To wind this up: Bill moved on to sketch out President Bush’s contribution to the political landscape — crafting the outlines of an evangelical conservatism. He noted that evangelicals have been the source of “profound moral radicalism” in our country, which makes for an uneasy alliance with conservatism. Bill cited the civil rights movement and the abolitionist movement.

I would add: the pro-life movement fits squarely in that tradition.

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Aaron Burr and Boo

February 23, 2005 | By | No Comments

Today was completely taken over by getting Boo’s vaccinations up-to-date. He had to get five shots. I hate getting my kids vaccinated. If I could morally justify it, I wish I could be a free-rider. . .The very thought of watching someone take a needle and inject my perfectly healthy baby boy with a virus that used to kill people makes me uneasy.

And then, of course, mom is the one who has to hold the baby down while they do it.

Sweet: the Dude was very unhappy about the idea of his little brother getting shots, and wanted to be nearby and watch over him, too.

So, I kept thinking of Aaron Burr! The man who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel was orphaned at two years old after his mother died from a smallpox innoculation.

One wonders: would history have taken a different turn if that little boy had had a mother?

To think that I am scared of shots now. What a debt we owe to the people who took those early vaccines. . .

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Toqueville and the bloggers

February 23, 2005 | By | No Comments

Who knew there was a community of Movable Type users on the web? They are a remarkably helpful and charitable bunch of very smart people.

I asked some dumb questions in a support forum and once even got a response back in three minute. Thanks Kymberlie.

So hey, I got this thing up and running. I’m jazzed.

When Tocqueville, the French political philosopher, visited America in the early 1800’s, he observed that Americans were characterized by a habit of forming “groups and associations.”

We’re still at it! Tocqueville wouldn’t be surprised. And I think he would be very interested in bloggers.

UPDATE: I still like this point about Americans and their propensity to from groups to help another as “self-interest rightly understood.” But in the spirit of ecumenism, I should mention that the bloggers who helped me were international: a (good!) German photographer and a Canadian.

And, as always, I am indebted to my Brilliant Brother, who made the mistake of calling and saying, “so, how’s it going, sis?”

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