the minor premise

the minor premise

Monday, April 30, 2007

Time to Fly

It is Fledgling Central here at the minor premises. The first round of nestling birds are moving out of the nest, and we, having dogs, are on tenterhooks every time the back door is opened.

Last year, having lost a nestful of thrashers, I fenced off a large rhododendron bush and the stand of privet behind it. Last week, Baby spotted a cardinal chick in the privet. We could see a nest that looked to be tilted farther up in the underbrush, and the adult cardinal pair were frantically searching and calling above.

The chick sat very still, thankfully safely behind my fence. It had been cheeping back at the parents at first, but fell silent on our arrival. It was quite recently molted into its fledgling plumage but was still feathers short of full flight plumage. Its partly-sprouted crest feathers stuck out in all directions, giving it the appearance more of a miniature harpy eagle than a cardinal. We're lucky to see cardinals at this stage at all; their parents don't normally parade them around in public. The juvenile cardinals that accompany the males to our bird feeders have long tail feathers and are fully able to fly. I'm still kicking myself for not thinking to get the camera and trying to photograph it; online pictures at this stage seem to be fairly uncommon although there are plenty from a slightly later age. As the chick was fenced in and didn't seem to be in any distress, we decided to get out of the way for a while so its parents could find and tend to it. We rounded up the dogs and took them inside.

About half an hour later, we slipped outside again. The parents were still moving back and forth across the yard, and the chick was gone from its perch. Baby located it again after some exploration; it was now sitting in another clump of privet behind the back fence. I wish I could have seen the parents move it; there are a fair amount of yard and a large shed between the original perch and its second location. It would have had to travel a good 45 feet, either flying directly across the part of the yard without underbrush or in short hops from shrub to shrub around the other side of the shed.

The parents were farther up a nearby pine tree, and calling loudly. We again backed off, and on our return the chick had moved once more and was nowhere to be seen. We could still make out the parents moving to and fro between the pine and the neighbors' shed roof nearby and guessed that the chick had been relocated somewhere in the tangle of branches and vines in its crown. We haven't seen it again since, although the parents move around the yard daily and the male energetically evicted a potential claim jumper this morning. (Male cardinals establish territories and will keep out other cardinals.) We're watching the feeder with interest for the social debut of the new cardinal family member.

Yesterday was the turn of the brown thrashers. We spotted a fledgling toward evening sitting atop one of the smaller rhodos, outside the safety zone. It was, alas, another perfect photo op that didn't occur to me until after the fact; young thrashers aren't what you'd call subtle. The yard being full of dogs at the moment, I scooped it up (this took a few tries--while you can practically touch them when they're sitting still, they'll try to jump out of your hands if you grab them) and moved it inside my fence. It hopped out of my reach and sat on a branch until one of its parents came for it.

Our next-door neighbors have a large, overgrown privet bush in their backyard which provides excellent cover and is home to all sorts of wildlife (and of which the root system is probably responsible for the proliferation of still more privet around our yard) including the thrashers' nest, but the fledglings seem to like to disperse over our less dense undergrowth. This can be problematic as fledgling thrashers are big and ungainly (according to Cornell's All About Birds site, they fledge a little earlier than most of their relatives) and for a few days at least their flight is slow, clumsy, and unpredictable. Being undergrowth birds they are generally close to the ground as well. Our retriever mutt figured out last year how easy it is to knock a thrasher fledgling out of shrubbery, to the detriment of our yard thrasher population. They will land on open ground and aren't always quick enough to get out of harm's way, which is how we ended up losing one this morning. We're determined not to lose any more this summer. For now, the dogs are going out in pairs instead of all four at once. They will have to get acclimated to the dog run, of which they aren't fond; hopefully nobody will rip out the chain link with his teeth this year. I've got the run located across the yard from the underbrush, so I'm hoping no thrasher fledglings decide to fly in there. I'm afraid it will just be a matter of natural selection for any one who does.

Another good account of fledgling thrasher behavior may be found here.
Audubon's account of thrasher defensive mobbing behavior is here.

Ken Hanson of Hawks Ridge Images has posted a large selection of really nice pictures of many birds, including brown thrashers and Northern cardinals. Images include juvenile cardinals, some of which are probably only a little older than the one we spotted in our account above.
Chipperwood has nice closeups of adult male and female and juvenile Northern Cardinals.
I am looking for a good image of a thrasher fledgling, and will post it when I find it. As the dogs need an escort these days, I may start carrying the camera outside with me. Maybe I'll get lucky!

UPDATE 4/30 9:20 p.m.: I may have glimpsed the cardinal fledge this evening at sunset. It was hard to tell for sure as I was viewing it against the setting sun, but it seemed to fly fairly well. Still sticking to the trees and shrubbery, though.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bending Over Backwards

Inspired by the Ironic Catholic's post on the refined teaching regarding unbaptized babies, the Parody department came up with this ditty:

Limbo Rock
by Dminor (apologies to Jon Sheldon and Billy Strange)

Every little boy and girl
That does arrive into our world
Has a chance to be with God
All can have a decent shot
If the parents aren't so quick
or perhaps a little thick
God can take them in his hand
It is up to his command

We can hope it now
Limbo's over now
We hope, but not know

Tho we fear that Adam's stain
Keep babies from heaven's plain
Innocent tho they may be
of the world's depravity
tho some can baptize 'em quick
some arrive here much too sick
and those lost inside the womb
we hope God can make some room

(instrumental break)

Where God takes a baby's soul
only He can have control
We pray to the Lord above
That He handles them with love
We used Limbo to explain
How those babies kept from pain
It's for just Him to decide
certain knowledge we're denied

Don't lose that faithful hope
So said our holy Pope
We hope but not know


The Zenit dispatch on the subject is here.


A side note: I was able to visit with Rambling Speech, and she was looking well. She is very much the Balmerite, at least for now. . . .

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Fallen on Hard Times

I've been getting a little behind with the newspaper lately. One of our local columnists ran a bit of info last week on the expected opening, near London, of a new theme park purporting to re-create Charles Dickens' London.
Imagine,urges our fearless correspondent, finally your dreams of hopping over puddles of raw sewage while having your pocket picked by a malnourished street urchin can come true.
Well, heck, what are we waiting for? To Merrie Englande!

The Boston Globe has a longer, more optimistic account of the facility.

The Guardian is less sanguine about the whole thing:
Dickens World feels like Disney gone to the dark side.

The reviewer, Simon Swift, doesn't stop there, either:
The whole project cost £62m and hopes to present Dickens to coaches of schoolchildren without having to call in the Muppets for backup.
Actually, I kinda liked their Christmas Carol version. Don't think Gonzo and Rizzo would work in Hard Times or Great Expectations, though, unless perhaps Rizzo did a cameo sitting in the dessicated wedding cake.

The plan is to artfully side-step the more gruesome aspects of Dickens' work while still remaining faithful to the Victorian period...
With impressive restraint, Swift refrains from using "artfully dodge." I guess that's why he's writing for the Guardian, and I'm blogging.

...the logo on the front of the Dickens, the Artful Dodger, Bill Sikes' dog and Little Nell enjoying the thrills of the Dickens World water ride. That's the same Little Nell who died of physical exhaustion at the climax of the Old Curiosity Shop...
Okay, now that is just wrong. Where are those sensitivity police when you really need them?

Actual rides/attractions at the park include (I am not making this up):
Animatronic show of Dickens' life
Fagin's Den preschool play area (no, I am not joking!)
Ebenezer Scrooge's Haunted House
Great Expectations boat ride/flume
Newgate Prison (well, a re-creation thereof, anyway)
Dotheboys Hall classroom, where kids can sit in desks and be yelled at
Six Jolly Fellowship Porters bar

D and I were inclined to wonder what else might entice the Dickensian-minded visitor. The Old Curiosity Gift Shop, perhaps? Fezziwig's Tilt-A-Whirl? A bungee attraction called The Drop?


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Stuff and Nonsense

...I leave it to you to decide which is which.

D put me onto this Fars News Agency story posted in Sweetness and Light on Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega's meeting with Iran's Foreign Minister. We can relax; all Iran wants is peace and justice. The U.S., of course, is the villain of the piece. Excuse me, but weren't we all assured that Danny had gotten religion and was a changed man? It's sounding an awful lot like Meet the new boss/ same as the old boss to me. (Hat tip for song line: The Who)

Also in Sweetness and Light, Tehran is cracking down on women who push the limits of the dress code. Penalties include fines, lashes, and exile from Tehran (which some might actually see as a benefit!) The photo accompanying this post is edifying; the young lady being loaded into a paddy wagon could pass for a nun, yet she is nonetheless in violation.
In olden days a glimpse of stocking/
was considered simply shocking/
Now Heaven knows/
Anything goes!

(Hat tip for song line: Cole Porter)

Mike Adams proposes a gun ownership option that he suggests could be acceptable to both pro-and anti-gun types: institute a concealed carry permit program as the only legal requirement for purchasing a gun. Eliminate all other permits. Probably won't make the anti-gun types happy as it does allow gun ownership, but nothing short of an outright ban is going to make some folks happy.

Adams being a pretty resolute gun-rights advocate, I was a little surprised to see him advocating this: it does, after all, impose restrictions on gun purchases. It strikes me as eminently sensible. While I support the Second Amendment, it seems to me that the right to purchase and carry a gun ought to be balanced by the responsibility of appropriate use. You can't legally get behind the wheel of a car without demonstrating some basic competence in driving, why should you be able to buy a gun without demonstrating basic competence in using it? You can kill people just as easily either way.

Courtesy of my sister-in-law, this link to the site of
the "Real Borat."
(Warning: Adult Content. More like Slightly Suggestive Adolescent Content, actually.) As far as we can tell, this is not a spoof; if anybody has info to the contrary, however, we'd love to hear it. SIL checked, but could find nothing either way.

The owner (and primary photo subject) of the site has mercifully refrained from attempting Borat's yellow-Speedo-over-the-shoulders beach look. Although he does look rather Borat-like, he also reminds me of the old Saturday Night Live "Czechoslovakian Brothers" sketches, in a way. I wonder if he's gotten any takers? I wonder if I'll need to go to Confession for posting this link?

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Admonition to a young man

...being loaned a much nicer car than he'll be able to afford in a long time.

To be Scotch taped to the dash in some location where it is visible but does not interfere with safe driving.

It has been your incredible good fortune to have bestowed on you the use of this vehicle for the next several months, subject to your appropriate use of same. In the interest of encouraging said appropriate use, I suggest you contemplate the following analogy:

The loan of the car may be viewed as a literary symbol of Free Grace. It's not much of a stretch when you consider the gasoline costs this change in ride should save you. Think of it this way: you didn't earn it, it isn't owed you, and your benefactor is not without cause to suppose that you might, at some point, prove unworthy of it. Yet it is given you nonetheless. Car:Grace. Grace:Car. See?

Oh, don't worry; I'm not looking to blaspheme here. Salvation metaphors are extremely common in literature. Remember the parables? Remember the Narnia Chronicles? The Song of Solomon? Try to think of the number of times you heard the phrase "Christ Figure" mentioned in your last English class. Had Saint John of the Cross had grease monkey tendencies, I suspect he might have come up with a soteriological allegory much along these lines.

Going back to our analogy, however: the use of the car has been granted. Gratis--well, except for the fact that you'll have to fill it up and wash it. It's not a perfect analogy. Then again, maybe it's not so bad. Once you have Grace, after all, it rests with you to feed it, and to keep it clean as well. Otherwise you just cruise along complacently with your Grace, assuming it will always be there as it weakens from lack of reinforcement and tarnishes from the accumulated stain of sinful behavior. Eventually it gives out completely under the even inch of built-up gunk lining the entire interior of the soul/engine. You know what one of those looks like.

Let's move along with that analogy. Assume you are assiduous about feeding your car/Grace, avoiding occasions of sin and mudding, and at least hosing off the pollen every couple of weeks or so. What else is a benificiary to do?

Well, as anybody who's been there can tell you, you can very easily wreck your car by not following the rules, just as you can very easily wreck your Grace by not following the rules. The Grace rules are those ones that were written in stone back in the book of Exodus, plus those that Christ gave us in the Gospels. The car rules are the ones that were written in ink in that manual you got before you took the licensing test, plus basic courtesy and common sense. Don't drive stupid; you probably won't wreck. Don't speed; likewise. Don't cut off that semi; you get the idea. Don't read the Commandments as a challenge and try to see how close to the line you can get on them; you should stay out of trouble. But only if you also resist thinking about pushing the envelope, and love your neighbor even when he annoys the heck out of you. Not your best buds: you can rationalize excuses for their irritating behavior all day long. I mean the guy down the street with whom you can't wait to find fault.

Finally, I exhort you to assume full responsibility for your car/Grace. (I'll also leave it to you to figure out the metaphors from here on.) You are, after all, the one in control. I don't wanna hear the litany: bad brakes, bad alignment, bad idle, wants to go fast, and so on. It's your job to keep that sucker driving the way it's supposed to. If you have to slow down, so be it. If you have to spend $80 on parts and crawl under the chassis with a wrench, so be it.

So the engine tends to head for fifty: fine (unless you're driving in a thirty-five mile zone.) If you find yourself at seventy-five, you can't blame the engine. Slow the heck down, and pay more attention! So everybody else is passing you as if you're standing still. Your car is still not going to transfigure into a Ferrari, and you're still not on the Daytona Speedway. Get off and take the darn backroad. You know most of them, anyway.

In short, take care of and respect your car, and your Grace. They're both going to be rather difficult to replace if you don't. If you do these things, there is reason to hope that you will drive on the Road of the Lord joyously and well for a long time to come.

Also--and this is not meant metaphorically--the Chief just might decide to let you learn to drive the big red fire engine.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

"Home" and some Guardian Angels

I had the opportunity to visit some places in Maryland where I lived over a decade ago. I had a similar opportunity in Germany a year or so ago, so I knew to be prepared for the shock of change. Whenever you live in a place, leave, and then come back years later the changes can initially overwhelm the impression. However, the familiar aspects eventually win out if you stay long enough.

How I knew I was back home -- In the grocery line, the language being spoken ahead of me was Hindi, and the language being spoken behind, Russian. In the part of Georgia where I now live, there isn't nearly the diversity of dialect.

I hiked the trail next to the Bollman Truss bridge. The bridge, which spans the Little Patuxent River, is the last surviving specimen of the first all iron railroad bridge design. The red painted iron stucture stands out from its suburban surroundings, and the path that leads from it goes along the creek in a ribbon of woodland. It was too bad I didn't have a camera; it was a beautiful day and the rocks, plants and creek were beautiful. Fishermen and waders were out in force.

I was determined to walk for 30 minutes in and turn around and walk 30 minutes out. As I did so, memories came flooding back of taking small children and strollers down the path, of climbing down the rocks to the water. As I moved up the trail, I passed two ladies sitting on a bench chatting and came upon a couple of larged downed trees. The trees had apparently gone over in heavy wind, as they were still connected to their roots.

The large trees had fallen directly across the path. Since I had only walked about 15 of my 30 minutes, I decided to try to scramble over the trees and hike the rest of the path. One tree trunk in the way was three feet thick. I was able to get over and and through the downed trees, then veered away to see some of the larger rocks off of the path. When I returned to the path, I found it very narrow, and in one place it bordered a dropoff of 15 or so feet. The ground grew more uneven and rocky. As a younger man, the obstacles would have barely fazed me, but at my current size and age I moved slowly, stopping at one particularly treacherous passage. After a brief pause, I shamed myself into edging my way through it without falling off the cliff. And for my pains, I was rewarded with an abrupt end to the path. I found a nice seat on a rock and looked out at the river for a few minutes. I looked around and thought that if anything happened to me, and I couldn't loudly call out, it might be hours before anyone else decided to get past the obstacles and happen upon me. I gingerly made my way back over the pass of doom, back through and over the downed trees and out to where the ladies were still sitting.

"We waited for you in case you had any trouble," one of the women said. "It gets pretty narrow back there and it's pretty high." I thanked them and moved on my way. I thought to myself, you never know how or in what form your guardian angel will look after you.

For some good pictures of the Bollman Truss Bridge, click here.

BTW, I did not make it to St. J's, so I didn't meet up with Rambling Speech. Perhaps next week I'll remember to take the address/directions to the church. :-/

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Me Blogger: Me Blockhead

The eminent James J. Kilpatrick, in his latest writer's art column, reminds us of Samuel Johnson's adage:
No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.
Much as I hate to admit it, he's probably right.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Aunt C's advice desk

A few thoughts have been pinging around in my head about the Virginia Tech shootings. As the reports I've seen and read pretty much laid out everything I've mentioned below, then gone off to the usual conclusions (namely, gun access and bullying,) I figured I'd toss out my own impressions of the generally available data. I don't think the answer is nearly as clear-cut as is being made out.

I am neither a gun person nor an anti-gun person, so that's really not a fight I have a dog in. I wouldn't want to be prevented from using any reasonable means of self-defense I deemed necessary. I live in a part of the country where considerable leeway is given to self-defense, and I think it makes a difference on the police blotter. Guns have been used to commit crimes here, but also to prevent them. It's possible that tougher gun laws in Virginia would have stopped the VT shooter, but it's just as possible he would have gotten his weapons illegally elsewhere. It's also possible that another student with a concealed carry permit could have taken him out early in his rampage, or that the knowledge that there were other armed students on campus might have daunted him.

Obviously, the VT shooter shouldn't have been able to obtain a gun legally; he had a long history of severe emotional problems and had been judged a danger, if not to others, to himself. I don't think the mentally unstable bid fair to make much of a "well-regulated militia," anyway, or even for for safe use. The guy was considered a suicide risk and had been in court for stalking, for Pete's sake. It didn't occur to the court that he might try to arm himself at some later date?

It doesn't appear, however, that information that might have resulted in his purchase being turned down was readily available. Medical privacy? All well and good, until it affects public safety. I don't think it's neccessary to make a psychological dossier available to the gun dealers of Virginia. A simple "not cleared" on the insta-check system without further elaboration would do.

Gun control alone doesn't seem to me to be at issue here. We're now being told that the shooter had a history of unusual, extremely antisocial behavior going clear back to middle school. Having raised a kid with interpersonal skills deficits, I can hardly believe nobody ever called his parents and said,"Hey, Seung seems to be having some problems relating to other people. We'd like you to come in and talk to us about referring him for evaluation." I'm also frankly astonished that his parents packed off a kid they knew to have suicidal tendencies clear across the state to a huge technical university (when his field of study wasn't even tech, yet) where no one was likely to be keeping an eye on him. If I had their problems, I'd be dropping the kid off at the local community college every day and picking him up in the afternoon. I'd also make darn sure he kept up with his therapy, or made efforts to have him committed if I felt I couldn't control his behavior. (I'm told, by the way, that it's increasingly difficult to do this, which may point to another problem.)

There's another access issue that bothered me, too. I know the practice has gotten extremely common today, but I still fail to see the financial or ethical sense of issuing a credit card to a college student with no means of support. As a starving student, I couldn't have dropped five hundred bucks on a gun and ammo; neither could most people I knew. And nobody was about to issue us credit cards to be charged up and then defaulted on. I had graduated with honors before an oil company offered me a charge card that enabled me to fill up my derelict inherited Pinto and pay my gas costs monthly instead of having to hit the bank. Getting a real credit card required me to get a credit history, which had to be accomplished later by acquiring a Sears card, buying some large-ticket item (I think it was a boom box) and paying it off in two or three installments. And I had some kind of job practically the whole time.

Access to easy, unearned credit has gotten a lot of college kids into financial trouble. In this case it may have enabled a dangerously disturbed kid to set a deadly scheme into motion.

Now, I wonder if the upcoming investigation of the matter will look into any of these questions?

UPDATE 4/22/07: Found an AP article in this morning's paper that actually did a pretty good job of addressing some of the mental health issues related to this case. If I can find the online link, I'll add it.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Fathers of the Church quiz

You’re St. Justin Martyr!

You have a positive and hopeful attitude toward the world. You think that nature, history, and even the pagan philosophers were often guided by God in preparation for the Advent of the Christ. You find “seeds of the Word” in unexpected places. You’re patient and willing to explain the faith to unbelievers.

Find out which Church Father you are at The Way of the Fathers!


It's nice to see some things don't change

We were checking out the site for another of those blog award contests last night when we came across a site, previously unknown to us, dedicated to something called a Fark. The term I hadn't heard before; the entity it describes is, unfortunately, all too familiar. A Fark is a filler story used by the news media to fill space when they have nothing else to run. Farks (now that I know what to call them) bug the livin' bejeezes out of me, for the simple reason that there usually is news out there; it just is news that is happening in some other place and is therefore apparently not considered to be of interest to the navel-contemplating American news consumer. Thus, I was glad to see that somebody was calling attention to the fact that a whole lotta nuthin' gets passed off as news in the MSM, even if that somebody would seem to have way too much time on his hands.

I bring this up because it is thanks to this blog that we found a fascinating item from Pravda. Back in the bad old Soviet days, Pravda had a reputation for, shall we say, stretching the truth a little to suit the ends of the state. I'm not sure for whom they're stretching it these days, but it doesn't appear that glasnost altered their old habits any.

According to the Pravda opinion piece, it wasn't that mean-spirited slur against the Rutgers women's basketball team that got decrepit shock jock-turned-news talk moderator Don Imus fired. What really happened was that Imus (who, truth be told, hasn't struck me as being especially with it in an awfully long time--and I've been aware of him since the '70s) threatened to reveal "what he knew" about government conspiriacies leading to the 9/11 attacks. So naturally, rather than having him offed as any sensible totalitarian regime with ugly secrets to hide might have done, they created a media scandal to have him humiliated and deposed from his mike. Convincing, eh?

We haven't issued an Order of the Tinfoil Hat in a while, so perhaps this is a sign for us to get back on the ball with that program. This story is so lame that it seems there ought to be a special device to go with the hat, but I'm still too flabbergasted to try to think of one. One Hat then, to Sorcha Faal,the author of this bit of investigative reporting. If Christo and Jeanne Claude aren't too busy right now, perhaps they'd consider a project Reynolds wrapping the Pravda offices in Moscow. Shiny side out, of course.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Lippity, lippity, down the chronos path

This week I picked up Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature at the library. I suppose a biography of a woman known primarily as a writer and illustrator of charming books for young children wouldn't seem to be a terribly interesting read. I'm actually expecting it to be very much so: Potter was an accomplished amateur naturalist who made significant contributions in mycology, an excellent botanical artist, an innovative farmer, and a conservationist. Moreover, she faced the difficulties in her life with strength and character.

The prologue left me with that "Lost" feeling. I refer to the flashback-ridden television show, not the sense of abandonment. It's that disorienting feeling I get, as a non-"Lost" viewer, when I saunter through the living room while others are watching:

"Wait a minute, I thought Sawyer was dead. And what's John Locke doing in a wheelchair? What's a chick in stilettos and a business suit doing strolling along the beach? They have a submarine?"

This normally results in cries of "Mom! Either watch the whole show or stop asking dumb questions!"
But I digress.

I don't know if the practice has been coincidental with the rise of visual media, but it seems that some authors today (I'm hard pressed to think of any from centuries past who did it to this extent) feel the need to resort--heavily-- to the flashback as a literary device. Like most literary devices, it can be effective if used sparingly. Used to excess, its effect is eye-crossing. Here our author begins her story with Potter as a 52-year old farmer, searching the threshing floor for the ring her long-deceased fiance had given her. The reader is then catapulted back thirteen years to the time when, mourning his death, she had purchased the farm and thrown herself into farming to overcome her grief. A few paragraphs later, the reader is yanked back still farther to Potter's earliest experiences of the Lake District while in her teens, from whence he is at last allowed to feel his way forward in time through some two decades of summer holidays there (all accomplished in a couple of paragraphs,) eventually winding up back at the tragic loss of her fiance. It leaves one with a sense a bit like time-travelling with Merlin, only jerkier.

The author (of the book, not the show) did manage to get herself moving forward by the first chapter, so I think I may now follow the life of this fascinating child of the Victorian age without risking whiplash and paper cuts. That and make a mental note about the importance of being gentle with chronology in writing.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lessons From Herstory

It doesn't seem to have aroused much media interest yet, but it looks like there
has been a move
to resurrect (nationally) the Equal Rights Amendment. This wouldn't be such a big deal except that the apparent intent of this move is to enshrine such practices as fully funded abortion on demand as inalienable human rights. I'm refraining from further comment on this right now because I haven't read up much on what's going on. I think it bears repeating, however, that Alice Stokes Paul, who drafted the original ERA, strongly opposed abortion as "the ultimate exploitation of women." What would she think of this?

Equality for women is a sham when some women are "more equal than others." Have we risen out of exploitaition in order to become exploiters ourselves?

A few weeks ago I posted a biog of Mary Wollstonecraft by Cat Clark writing for Feminists for Life (see link above for more biogs.) Today I'm following up with Clark's biography of an unsung heroine of the female suffrage movement who, like her sisters in the movement, was resolutely pro-life. She is, in fact, known mainly because of her gutsy citizen's arrest of a man seeking to procure an abortion for his mistress. Her story:

Dr. Charlotte Denman Lozier (1844-1870), “wife, mother, scholar, physician, and woman,” made a big impact in her short life.

According to an obituary in The Revolution by former co-editor Parker Pilsbury, Charlotte Denman took charge of caring for the younger children of her family after her mother’s death when Charlotte was twelve. At fifteen, she graduated high school.

Desiring to study medicine, she became a student at the New York Medical College for Women, from which she graduated with distinction and where she was appointed a professor. While there, she successfully argued that the clinical privileges and benefits of Bellevue Hospital should be open to women medical students as well as men. Charlotte Denman also met her husband, Dr. Abraham Lozier, son of the college’s founder Dr. Clemence Lozier, during this time. They married in 1866.

Medicine and family were not Dr. Charlotte Lozier’s only concerns. Like Stanton, Anthony, Eleanor Kirk, and other early American feminists, she was a passionate defender of Hester Vaughan, a woman wrongly accused of infanticide. Through their efforts, Vaughan was exonerated. Dr. Lozier also served as the vice president of the National Working Women’s Association, and made The Revolution available to patients in the waiting room of her office.

Among all her admirable qualities and accomplishments, however, one act stood out more than others on the pages of The Revolution. The original story appears under the title “Restellism* Exposed”:

Dr. Charlotte Lozier…was applied to last week by a man pretending to be from South Carolina, by name, [Andrew] Moran, as he also pretended, to procure an abortion on a very pretty young girl [identified as Caroline Fuller] apparently about eighteen years old. The Dr. assured him that he had come to the wrong place for any such shameful, revolting, unnatural and unlawful purpose. She proffered to the young woman any assistance in her power to render, at the proper time, and cautioned and counseled her against the fearful act which she and her attendant (whom she called her cousin) proposed. The man becoming quite abusive, instead of appreciating and accepting the counsel in the spirit in which it was proffered, Dr. Lozier caused his arrest under the laws of New York for his inhuman proposition.

The Revolution then published extracts from articles in the New York World and Springfield Republican. The former clarified that “procuring of a miscarriage [is] a misdemeanor” despite “the frequency of the offence of ante-natal infanticide among the most respectable classes of society.” The latter agreed that the law “has long been practically a dead letter,” and added that Andrew Moran attempted to bribe Dr. Lozier, “offering to pay roundly [$1000] and shield Mrs. Lozier from any possible legal consequences” should Ms. Fuller die. Lozier refused the bribe. The Republican ’s report said the police took both Moran and Fuller, but Fuller was fortunately discharged. Against critics who claimed Lozier violated medical confidentiality, according to the World, “Dr. Lozier… insists that as the commission of crime is not one of the functions of the medical profession, a person who asks a physician to commit the crime of ante-natal infanticide can no more be considered his patient than one who asks him to poison his wife.” The Revolution editors closed the story with this wish:

May we not hope that the action of Mrs. Lozier in this case is an earnest of what may be the more general practice of physicians if called upon to commit this crime, when women have got a firmer foothold in the medical profession? Some bad women as well as bad men may possibly become doctors, who will do anything for money; but we are sure most women physicians will lend their influence and their aid to shield their sex from the foulest wrong committed against it. It will be a good thing for the community when more women like Mrs. Lozier belong to the profession.

It has been suggested that Dr. Lozier’s compassionate response to Caroline Fuller, when Lozier “proffered to the young woman any assistance in her power to render,” was strengthened by the fact that Dr. Lozier was herself pregnant with her third child.

Tragedy struck a month later. Dr. Lozier was injured in an accident and began to hemorrhage. Her daughter Jessica was born prematurely, at just seven months, and Dr. Charlotte Lozier died soon after.

A few weeks later, Paulina Wright Davis, Stanton’s new co-editor at The Revolution, recalled:

[Dr. Lozier’s] recent action, prompt and decisive, against a high-handed crime cannot be too much commended. She chose to bear reproach and bitterness, rather than a stain upon her conscience…. Her real strength did not reveal itself in the brief [meeting] we had with her; it was not till she came out firmly to stay the prevalent sin of infanticide that we knew the woman in all her greatness.

Her sense of justice would not allow her to let the wrong-doer escape the penalty of the law, while at the same time she pitied and tenderly cared for the victim. We have been amazed to hear her denounced for this brave, noble act on the ground of professional privacy. It is said she had no right to expose the outrage of having one thousand dollars offered to her to commit murder.

The murder of the innocents goes on. Shame and crime after crime darken the history of our whole land. Hence it was fitting that a true woman should protest with all the energy of her soul against this woeful crime.

The spirit in which Dr. Charlotte Lozier “proffered to the young woman any assistance in her power to render” lives on in Feminists for Life’s mission to eliminate the root causes that drive women to abortion—primarily lack of practical resources and support—through holistic, woman-centered solutions.

*"Restellism:" "Madame Restell" was the pseudonym of a notorious New York abortionist of the 1800's. She was so widely known that her "handle" became synonymous with the practice itself, although she was by no means the only practitioner of her day.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Playing "Possum"

Inspired by our elder daughter's comment that a passage in a T.S. Eliot poem reminded her of blogs, the parody department got busy mangling a classic:

The ComBox of J. Alfred Prufrock
by Dminor (Apologies to T.S. Eliot)

Let us log in, you and I
When evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table
Let us read through certain half-thought out blogs,
The muttering retreads
of useless tracts with no-account theories,
And two-bit news reviews with pundit claims.

Sites that propose such a tedious argument
of insidious intent
to lead you to their overwhelming big point.
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
We have some other sites to visit.

In the combox, people come and go,
Criticizing Michelangelo.

The yellow dog that puts its bile into your comment box
Unpleasant smoke that blows into the blog
Kicked its gall into the thought-stream of the posting
Lingered upon the words from other brains
Let fall upon the blog the spite that falls from keyboards
Slipped by the readers, a sudden logic-leap,
And seeing that it was a small, religious blog
Cursed once without a cause, and slinked away.

And indeed, there will be time
For the yellow dog that leaves its "presents" in the comment box
Rubbing the readers the wrong way;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a post to meet the bozos that will call;
There will be time to argue and debate
And time for all the posts and trackback links
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred "anonymouses,"
And for a hundred versions and aversions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Holy Thursday

To the old law still obedient
In its feast of love divine
Love divine, the new law giving,
Gives himself as Bread and Wine

. . . .

Come , adore this wonderous presence;
bow to Christ, the source of grace!
Here is kept the ancient promise
Of God's earthly dwelling place!

- from Pange Lingua

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