the minor premise

the minor premise

Monday, May 29, 2006

Credit Where Credit is Due, and other musings

No one will ever nominate him for "Husband of the Year," but the Godfather of Soul demonstrated this weekend that he can be a real class act. Though no one would have faulted him for politely declining to perform at local wannabee politico Charles Walker, Jr's ill-conceived and abysmally organized James Brown Soul of America Music Fest--especially given that its taking place at all was no guarantee even a few weeks before--Brown, who after all is no spring chicken, flew home from a paying gig at his own expense and trekked to the Fest to perform a short program. It is too bad that the gross lack of planning and local disinclination to trust Walker's grandiose claims for the three-day event resulted in lackluster attendance. Shamefully, Walker wound up the event nearly getting it shut down by quarrelling over payment with local deputies who were working security for him. This guy shouldn't be trusted with so much as a moderate-size Tupperware party in future.
Thank you, Mr. Brown. Your community spirit is admirable.


Dog Bud dispatched three--three!-- brown thrasher fledglings Saturday. Initially I didn't catch on to what the clever fella was up to; he figured out that he could, by pouncing on the big rhododendron bush in which they were sitting, knock them down and then scoop them up before they could recover. While he doesn't seem to have any interest other than carrying them around awhile, that itself is (unfortunately) pretty quickly fatal to them. Once I got wise to what he was doing I took off to the home & garden and picked up several fencing stakes and a roll of mid-gauge 2" wire mesh, and fenced off a 10 x 15 foot section of the backyard around the rhodo. While pounding stakes (and having my ankles eaten by the no-see-ums that have cropped up with the arriving heat) I could not but muse on comedian Jeff Foxworthy's assertion when the Olympics were held there that the locals might be inclined to bring nails and barbed wire to the Fencing venue. Future thrasher nestings should be safe now; Bud seems to have accepted that he's not gonna get past that fence. We don't have this problem with other fledglings, but thrashers are comparatively big and tend to nest and forage in low shrubbery so I guess they're more vulnerable. I don't think Donna Reed ever did fences. I may have to turn in my Domestic Goddess card.


The Ironic Catholic has posted a news item reporting on Benedict XVI's Polish trip. It seems that take-away cream cake sales in Wadowice have been stopped during the papal visit due to fears that they might "go off" in the heat. One of the IC's commenters helpfully explained that this is a British idiom equivalent to our "go bad" or "spoil;" still, for those of us on this side of the pond the image of cream cakes exploding all over Wadowice and whipped cream raining down on the faithful is just too much fun to give up! (Gosh, I hope they do Boston Cream in Poland!)


Harvest: Anyone out there want some zucchini? Tomatoes in fruit. Picked one large cuke today, several small ones coming along.
Environment: The fireflies are out!
House painting: Don't even ask...

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"As enjoyable as comboxes may be, I do not think that constructive dialogue can take place in them. " from the May 27 post of Catholic Sensibility . The blogger objected to the "substantial number of conspiracy theorists, detractors, and the like" that gravitate to the comment section of blogs. Reminds me of a "law" of internet posting I read long ago, stating that no useful information would appear on a thread once Nazism or Hitler was invoked. Could this "law" be applied to other topics or epithets as well? Are comments useful?


Friday, May 26, 2006

Revisiting Hentoff

I went looking for Nat Hentoff columns this morning, for the first time in several months. He can be found online at Jewish World Review and at the Village Voice (talk about disparate!) The self-described "stiff-necked Jewish atheist" (I feel compelled to pray for him every time I read one of his columns) is an excellent writer and is always worth the read even when I don't agree with him. Lately most of his columns have been on civil liberties in the War on Terror, but on his Feb. 7, 2006, column Hentoff digresses to look in on an abortionist's day:

Unlike most people I know in journalism, I am a pro-lifer. When accused of this unpardonable heresy after years of being categorized as a nonreligious liberal, I quote a letter in the Feb. 18, 1990, Journal of the American Medical Association by a North Carolina physician, Dr. Joel Hylton:
"Who can deny that the fetus is alive and is a separate entity? Its humanity also cannot be questioned scientifically. It is certainly of no other species. That it is dependent on another makes it qualitatively no different from countless other humans outside the womb. It strikes me that to argue one may take an innocent life to preserve the quality of life of another is cold ..."
As a reporter, I usually am able to understand why people with whom I disagree, think and act the way they do; but I am at a loss to understand how an abortionist finds his daily vocation in deliberately, brutally ending a human life.

Most of the rest of the column cites a news story ("Offering Abortion, Rebirth," by staff writer Stephanie Simon, LA Times Nov. 29, 2005) on an abortionist's office. We learn that even this abortionist has his sensibilities (won't do third-trimesters for any reason--that he considers infanticide. How he draws the line, God only knows.) and acknowledges that he is taking life. He rationalizes this as a trade-off between two lives:

But he is convinced that he is simultaneously giving life — calling his patients "born again." He explains: "When you end what the woman considers a disastrous pregnancy, she has been literally given her life back."

Of course, one of his clients on the day of the interview was "getting her life back" for the fourth time in twelve years and couldn't seem, at 32, to grasp the finer points of taking her birth-control pills or keeping her britches on (and this was a college student--ignorance should not have been an excuse.) It's all a lot easier to rationalize when you can convince yourself that the woman was an innocent victim--decieved, used, abused, abandoned, or just hopelessly ignorant of how her body worked. I wonder what percent of his lifetime career of 20,000 served actually were?

That which claims the mantle of "Feminism" demands that women have "choice." Well, with choice comes responsibility. Female liberation rings hollow when used by the liberated to exploit others. Ladies, if you like your freedom, learn to use it wisely. And have the judgement not to indebt yourself to a butcher with a medical license and questionable ethics who will cheerfully do your dirty work for you and then patronize you while claiming "White Knight" status for himself.

Recommended reading for teens: The Day They Came to Arrest the Book by Nat Hentoff. An oldie but goodie on the subject of school censorship. Debate erupts when Huckleberry Finn is banned from the school library. Hentoff writes better for adults than he does for kids; still, he's no slouch at the youth novel genre. The book is a challenging read but the lessons it teaches are worth the work.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thinking of Casting a First Stone?

"Reminds me much of this lady when she said 'worship a stone if you like but don't hit me with it'." This from Iraq the Model . In a world that will burn your embassy if you draw the wrong cartoon, this is comfort.

Cminor edited the text.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Two Brave Women

An excellent column from The Washington Times' Suzanne Fields on two Muslim women fighting female oppression:

Harvest: The zucchini are coming!
Reading: Beginning to Pray by Anthony Bloom

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Da Vinci-Free Zone

I hereby declare this blog a DaVinci-free zone. I have not read The DaVinci Code. I will not watch the movie. I consider its premise utter tripe not worth one iota of the attention--positive or negative--that it's been given. I am tired of reading articles on what a fascinating story it is--it's just another piece of pulp fiction! I am tired of reading articles on where it's wrong--as if any sentient being needed to have that explained! (Oh, yeah--I am on Earth, aren't I? Never mind.)

Anyway, I will not dignify DVC with anything resembling discussion or analysis of it on this blog. I will not link to anything DVC or anti-DVC. I will make a point of hereafter ignoring anything to do with it. Anyone who wishes to may join me in proactively tossing this bit of sensationalist claptrap on the ash-heap of literary obscurity where it belongs and should, if humanity has not abandoned taste entirely, eventually end up.

As an alternative, I plan to take in Pride and Prejudice. The 5-hour A&E Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version. Maybe with popcorn and knitting.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

When Plan B Becomes Plan A

Opposing abortion as I do on the premise that a human being is a human being regardless of whether it resides in or ex utero and that if one class of human is disposable then none of us is safe, I follow the "Morning After Pill" saga with not a little concern. This is primarily because, despite what we are all led to believe, one action of this pill is to prompt an abortion--a microabortion perhaps, but an abortion nonetheless--in cases in which fertilization but not implantation has already occurred. I'm not talking about a random failure to implant here--I'm talking about one directly attributable to the chemical action of the drug itself.

In addition to the issue of the life of the unborn, however, I am concerned about the implications for women's health of the intended dispensation of the drug. I've now been around long enough to have very clear memories of a number of biochemical and biotechnical "miracles" that went wrong with tragic results (i. e. thalidomide, Bendectin, DES, CVS) and I'm very conscious of the fact that even medications useful in some limited cases can wreak havoc when used indiscriminately.

The "Plan B" pill's promoters are currently waging a campaign to make it universally available to the end that many pharmacies and pharmacists face legal action if they choose not to carry it. (Most make this decision either for personal moral reasons or to avoid alienating clientele with moral objections to the drug, but it's a safe bet that the potential for future lawsuits should something go wrong is also on their minds.) The eventual outcome of this campaign--if Plan B's apologists have their way-- will probably be over-the-counter availability of the drug in any pharmacy. You, I, your daughter, and mine, anytime, no prescription needed, no doctor needed, no questions asked. As often as we feel we need it. Oh, the presumption is that the "average" woman will use Plan B fewer than a half dozen times during her reproductive life, and on that premise is based the current medical viewpoint. But medications are widely misapplied in the real world, a fact that every doctor knows very well. With Plan B on the shelf among the OTCs, available for cash and with complete anonymity, what is to stop any teenage girl (or even some older ones) from making Plan B their Plan A contraceptive? Cost? If it's too expensive, what is to stop them from theft?

Because of their usefulness in concoting meth, several medications useful in treating cold and allergies have in the past year been pulled from open shelves either temporarily or permanently and had limits placed on the one-time purchase amount. Moreover, I have to pull out my driver's license to prove I'm an adult every time I buy a package. If I'm miserably sick at home and the only help available is seventeen, I'm outta luck. All this for a drug that (unless deliberately chemically altered) is generally pretty innocuous, and has few serious side effects. Yet the "Reproductive Rights" lobby wills a powerful hormone with no purpose other than to destroy a human embryo to go out on drugstore shelves to be available to all.

This is by no means the first time in medical history that women's health has been put at the service of social engineering concerns. The history of the contraceptive/abortion movement is rife with cases of women--or, more specifically, poor women, uneducated women, and minority women, exploited as guinea pigs in the latest attempt to limit their fertility (this, please note, is often a separate concern from improving their health.) In this case, however, social engineering is combining forces with marketing in an effort both to create a clientele and to blur the line between real contraception (that which fits the dictionary definition of the word) and "contraception" that is actually a chemical abortifacient. While we all know what the result will be for the unexpectedly concieved human, what we do not know is what the long-term effects will be on a generation of women who have been popping three, or six, or twelve or more Plan B pills a year for five or ten years of their lives.

The following article makes some excellent points on the campaign to force a clientele for the Plan B pill:

More Huswifery

Harvest: Inundation with first radish crop. More planted. Would that carrots grew as well here! I'm going to be reduced to growing them in pots if I can't do better with them. We have a deal with the bunny as regards the radishes. He gets the top; we get the root. Everybody happy. Now if only Son #1 could eat the darn things a little faster...

Knitting: Back & left side of baby gift finished. Learned to turn heel on sock last night--really cool!

Reading: The Language Police by Diane Ravitch. Worth the read for anyone concerned about free speech. Must put together review for this site.

This Old House: Kitchen still decked out in tape. Ought to paint this weekend, if time allows. One tub caulked, one in progress.

Environmental: Recent feeder arrivals--Ruby-throated hummingbirds, house finches. No evidence of conjunctivitis among finches yet, though I haven't had the op to train field glasses on them & can't therefore be certain. Juvenile cardinals very much in evidence now, and looking increasingly mature. Saw what looked to be a phoebe or pee-wee yesterday on the back patio but didn't get a really good look.

House finches seem to come and go at my feeders, though they are around all year as far as I know. I hadn't spotted one in months and then, hello! Conjunctivitis cases turn up on occasion but do not to my limited observations seem to reach the pandemic levels that were originally feared. I've seen about three cases in the last five years or so, and have attempted unsuccessfully to treat one. Water stress and vulnerability to predators are the biggest hazard, from what I glean. I clean and sun the feeders periodically for good measure.

Monday, May 15, 2006

A New Use for That Good Ol' Mountain Dew

According to an AP wire story by Bill Poovey (dateline: Tullahoma, TN,) a Tennessee inventor and business owner is marketing an old hill country practice as a fuel-stretching strategy. Bill Sasher and his company, Dogwood Energy, are building and selling--like hotcakes, apparently--stills modified to brew ethanol as a fuel additive. Naturally the stills are built in a creekside warehouse "down a backwoods road, next door to a noisy rooster, and less than five miles from..." the Jack Daniels distillery. No word on whether the warehouse is camouflaged with an overgrowth of Virginia creeper.

The story ran in my local newspaper; alas, they seem to have left it off the web archive (out of embarassment?) and I haven't yet been able to find a link to it. Perhaps when my tech support (love ya, hon!) gets home we can add it in. Or I might just stoop to scanning in the clipping

Honestly, I don't go looking for these stories--they find me. I feel soooo Southern.
Maybe I should get one of those horns that play "Dixie" for my Volvo wagon.


Saturday, May 13, 2006

A quote for the day

Our quote for today:
As long as you aren’t dealing with Hezbollah psychopaths, Semtex-strapped “martyrs,” or Al Qaeda head-choppers, Arabs really are the most pleasant people you can find anywhere.
- Michael Totten (actually a very well done post on the Israeli Arabs in Jaffa)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Folk Marxism

I think this guy is on to something -- the victim mentality, not limited to the United States by the way, as an outgrowth of Marxism. Class warfare and immobility serve no one. See how many instances you can spot in a given day's news.

I found this some time ago, but could not blog it due to tech issues (trying out new Internet Provider). Now I have forgotten who led me to the article, and thus cannot give the hat tip.
Senior moments -- gotta love em.