Monday, January 27, 2014

The Death of Conversation

Perhaps you are following the outcry over remarks made recently by former Governor Huckabee.  He was immediately attacked by the press and pundits - all taking his comments so out of context as to accuse him of saying the exact opposite of his actual words.  I read an excellent review on this trend in our public discourse.  Here is the link to the article by Charles Cooke in the National Review.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Am I Prepared for the 21st Century?

I am thinking about my moral compass.  Here are events that would not have happened 50, 25, some only 10 years ago. (I have already written about some of them.) Technology makes them possible.  Are we ready to deal with the results?  A sperm donor is ruled as the legal father of a child, and held accountable for thousands of dollars of child support.  The Supreme Court considers what the viewers of child pornography owe to the victim of the videoed rape.  In Sweden, doctors successfully transplant a uterus taken from a live donor and are on track to implant the recipient's own frozen embryos.  Brain death declaration is challenged by the deceased's family who assert that she is alive.  A brain dead pregnant woman's body is kept on life support over the objections of her family to protect the life of the 14 week old fetus. A woman stands by the side of the road holding up a sign soliciting a kidney donation.  A man convicted of murdering his wife will receive a sex change operation while serving his life sentence.  There are many similar events, every day.  They are written up in the news papers.  I read them and wonder what view I would take if my loved ones were involved. Morals are supposed to help discern right from wrong.  I thought my own morality was grounded, my compass true.  Sometimes I am not sure.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Murmuration, Again

In 2012 I wrote about the astonishing flight of large flocks of starlings called "murmuration".  Two young women recorded a murmuration on a recent canoe trip.  Here it is.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


There is new information from the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.  A court ordered mediation has been underway between the Church and victims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests.  The mediation has been going on for almost a decade.  Church documents have just been released supporting the victims allegations.  This is just one sordid chapter in what is now apparent - until the churches' victims of the last quarter have come forward sexual abuse was condoned and managed by church leadership rather than condemned.  As I read today's news the scene from a movie played in my memory.  It illustrates the ravages of a dishonest life.  Watch it yourself.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Tummy For Sale?

I am troubled by the medical news from Sweden.  You can read it here.  Doctors have successfully transplanted a "womb" (uterus) from a living donor to a woman who otherwise would be unable to bear a child.  They have completed this transplant nine times.  Doctors in other countries are also pursuing this course.  You will read about the life changing possibilities of this procedure.  The recipient may have been born without a uterus - about 1 in 4,500 girls.  Or, for some other reason be unable to conceive.  Her eggs will have been fertilized in-vitro and frozen in preparation for transfer into her new uterus.After successful use, the uterus will be removed, sparing the new mother a life time of anti-rejection medicine.  For a childless couple the chance offered is tantalizing.  Why am I troubled?  If, as is expected, the transplant procedure will lead to the birth of healthy babies, what will prevent a "uterus market" from flourishing?  What will protect a desperate woman from offering her uterus for sale on a black market?  What will assure that the recipient's benefits will outweigh the risks to the donor?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Home Again

I have been away from home for two weeks.  Sun, sand and surf - all novelties for a resident of the Pacific Northwest.  I am tired (and NOT sunburned).  I will post again soon.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

When Pigs Fly

An idiom of improbability. We are visiting family in Philadelphia. Much talking and walking and waiting around all in the name of fellowship. This is a large family. It is easy for the non family husband or wife to get confused, to loose the train of thought. Or, to simply get left out as reminiscing goes into high gear.  At the last supper tonight eaten by the last few to pack up and leave I glance at my husband. He is a gentleman to the core, as he says "jerked up by his mother to have impeccable manners".  He also has a new smart phone with new apps, and it is football playoff day. He is streaming live! Go Seahawks.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What Would I Think?

If I were a Jew.  Living in Israel.  What would I think of developments in the Arab world?  Perhaps I was hopeful when press in the United States wrote about the "Arab Spring", quoting politicians who predicted the evolution of peaceful democracy.  Or perhaps I was skeptical, knowing that my Arab neighbors include many whose mission with respect to Israel is total annihilation.  Today I see clearly that my erstwhile American ally pursues a new strategy.  My own country's leaders don't appear to be in the inner circle.  I am expected to be patient as negotiations run their course.  Patience did not serve my ancestors well.  Patience is not a defensible plan.  If I were a Jew, living in Israel, I would be scared.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


Death has become very complicated.  There are two cases in the news about brain death.  One, a child declared dead in the hospital, whose family wants her kept "alive" on a ventilator.  The other, a pregnant woman declared dead in the hospital whose husband wants her ventilator turned off.  State law may protect the unborn child, requiring that the woman's body be sustained 26 more weeks so the child may be delivered at term.  Here is a link to a recent article, written for a lay audience, that covers some of the basics of brain death.

I am thinking about the pregnancy.  I wonder what the remaining term might be like for the unborn child.  More than half the gestation carried out in motionless silence.  No back and forth as mother walks.  No music as she sings.  No caress.  No babble from excited 14 month old brother.  Nothing but the constant hum of machines.  Nature and nurture mingle in the womb.  Not for this babe.