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Friday, March 31, 2006

My New Column

I'm learning something new, stretching my wings, and writing a new column all at the same time. Please click on the link embedded within my title to see my new column at VOID. I've been a behind-the-scenes member since the very beginning, but now I'm getting more exposure and stepping out a bit. Please tell me what you think!

UPDATE: At David Remer's request (or with his help, depending on how you look at it), I have changed the link in my title to go straight to the cited column.

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Wisconsin State Supreme Court

On Tuesday, the 28th of March, Justice Jon P. Wilcox announced that he will retire from the Wisconsin Supreme Court next year.

From the Wisconsin State Journal, this is the part that got me:

Then-Gov. Tommy Thompson appointed Wilcox to the court in 1992 after the retirement of Justice William Callow. He won election to a 10-year term in 1997 by handily defeating Milwaukee attorney Walt Kelly in a race that later led to fines against his campaign for alleged evasion of election laws.

Wilcox, 69, said he announced his decision one year before next April's election to give potential candidates time to enter the race. He could have retired this year, but that would have allowed Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle to appoint his replacement.
--emphasis added

Now, when I first saw this article I was thinking, "Come on, guys! We gotta get Green into office! The last thing we want is Doyle appointing someone to the Wisconsin Supreme Court!"

But, wait! Elected? Justice Wilcox was elected? Yep. I confirmed it.

The court is comprised of seven justices who are elected in state-wide, non-partisan elections. Each justice is elected for a ten-year term, and only one justice may be elected in any year. In the event of a vacancy on the court, the governor has the power to appoint an individual to the vacancy, but that justice must then stand for election in the first year where no other justice's term expires.
--emphasis added


Now, in my own defense, I didn't grow up in Wisconsin. I never went to school in Wisconsin. So, as far as Wisconsin politics go, sometimes I'm very much a foreigner. (Gosh, the things you can learn from reading the newspaper...)

But, my point is that this seems like an very intriguing way to do it! I mean, does this work? Obviously it works well enough for us to get things done, but it's hard to tell if Wisconsinites are actually satisfied with the results. So...

Hmm. The Supreme Court being filled by elected Justices? The SCOTUS actually being representative of the will of the people? It would certainly be an interesting solution to all the partisanship that's been going on. But, naw, it could never happen!

Then again, would we want it to?

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Value of Religion

Recently I have been having some very interesting discussions about the value of religion. So as not to further hi-jack the very worthy blog of Reverse_Vampyr (and as a not-so-subtle means of "borrowing" some of his readership), I'm starting a thread devoted to the topic.

(Note: To see the discussion in the first link I provided, you actually have to click the comments. Laborious, I know, but I couldn't figure out how to link the comments directly, sorry.)

The meat of the post will be in the comments as y'all bring in your opinions and p.o.v.s and we sling 'em around and hash it all out, preferably in an amicable and friendly manner. However, to get things started I'd like to share a bit about myself and where I'm coming from. For those of you who simply do not give a damn, feel free to jump straight into the comments section and let the wrestlin' of ideas begin! For the rest of you, here's a bit about why I value religion:

First off, I'd like to make it perfectly clear that while I am a member of an organized religion, I'm more spiritual than religious. Basically, when it comes to actually actively participating in organized religion, I suck. However, I've been spiritually inclined since before I can actually remember (literally), with my own personal form of Christianity being the meat of my spirituality the entire time. Now, there are those who'd claim this is a matter of nurture, not nature. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that's just not so. I didn't grow up in a Christian home, and while my Mom did become more of a Christian (born-again variety) as I grew into my teen-age years, I basically rejected her religion in favor of my own brand of faith. I can literally count the times I've attended church with both my parents on one hand. Actually, with one finger. Both my parents attended my first baptism, which was by my own choice and was with the Lutheran faith. Now, I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

That being said, organized religion has been of great value to myself and my family in many different ways. When I first started investigating religion, I was rather lost. My parents' marriage wasn't exactly a happy one; a fact that I was hardly aware of and didn't understand at all until BAM! my parents got divorced nearly two years after I got married. But, when I was growing up, basically I didn't feel I had a whole lot of people I could trust. It wasn't true, but that's how I felt. (This also happened a few months after a rather traumatic experience, which I will only go into detail upon request.) As such, I found the welcoming atmosphere of the local Lutheran church to be very beneficial. It was an exhilarating experience to actually be able to sit down with adults and talk about anything and have them actually listen. I will readily grant that this could have been accomplished WITHOUT religion being involved, but for me that wasn't the way it happened.

Now, in my adult life, the main value of religion has been the community it has provided me and my family with, something the LDS church is actually very good about most of the time. For instance, the day I had to go in to deliver my third child through emergency inducement, it was a very loving friend from my church that drove Mark and I to the hospital at 5am. She, along with several other members of the church and my Mom, watched our two older children for us so Mark could be with me through this ordeal. Not to mention the fact that we were right in the middle of a move to our new, three-bedroom apartment. They were helping Mark pack (because I had neither the strength, nor the doctor's permission to do so) and clean in preparation for this move when I came home in tears to tell Mark that our baby's life was in danger while in utero and that I'd be going in the next morning for emergency "evacuation" procedures. All things being equal, this was a very rough time for us as a family and the ONLY way we got through it was through the grace of God manifest in the helping hands and loving hearts of our dear church family.

I could go on, but I think I've established where I'm coming from, at least well enough for the sake of discussion. I'd just like to say, in closing, that to me, the value of spirituality and the value of religion are two separate matters and I've only touched on the value of religion, not going into the value of spirituality at all. However, in this thread feel free to discuss both with equal measure. For now, I think this is depth enough for me... I wouldn't want to be accused of proselytizing, now would I?

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Musical Inspiration

As some of you have probably figured out by now, to me parenting and "disability" issues are irrevocably intertwined. As I see it, that's how it should be for me and my family and I hope my predilections at the very least raises awareness and/or interest in individuals with special needs for those of you not deeply embedded in the strange world some of us wade through on a daily basis. That being said, sometimes what I have to share is more heartening than others. This, thankfully, is one of those times.

Now, I'm not a newshound nor am I a journalist. I'm a person who enjoys stories and as such, likes to share the good ones I find.

In today's paper, the Wisconsin State Journal had one of those heart-warming stories that makes the news bearable. And, I'd like to share it with you. It's a small segment of the story of a young man named Brian Sanders.

Madison native Brian Sanders turned a disability - only two fingers on his right hand - into his greatest ability, playing the cello.

"Many of my teachers have said this: It's almost as if this hand is made very well for cello playing," said Sanders, 22. "Part of it is that it's just a very simple system. Most people have five fingers to deal with; I have just two. So there's fewer factors to analyze, I guess."

Sanders will graduate in May with a degree in music performance from the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. Later that month, he will perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., as one of four $5,000 winners of the national Young Soloists Award from VSA arts (formerly Very Special Arts), a national organization promoting artists with disabilities.

Not only is Brian Sanders a remarkable young man with obvious talent, a talent that would be well-recognized whether he had a disability or not, but he also has an inspirational message to share with us all.

Years after Sanders started playing the cello, his parents confided "that they assumed I would pick it up for a couple weeks, realize I couldn't do it, and do something else," he said. "Of course they never said that; they were always really encouraging.

"I just wonder if some less introspective parents might discourage their children from that sort of thing," he said. "When who knows - they might find themselves naturally predisposed to it. It makes me wonder: With any sort of disability, what sort of advantages might lie within."
--second set of emphasis added

And, that's the message I would like to share with you all!

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Illegal Immigration and Illegal Hiring

Illegal immigration is a crime. It should be a crime that is punished and rectified, preferably with deportation. It should be difficult to get in this nation illegal, for security reasons. It should be easy to get in legally for legitimate purposes, for ethical reasons.

America is a nation of immigrants. Immigration has been a strength of America since we became a nation, and should continue to be a strength.

I take this to heart:

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

I'm not one who recommends we do away with immigration, or reduce it to a trickle, but please, please come here legally!

Illegal immigration isn't good for us. And it's not good for those who choose to attempt it.

Look here. It's a harrowing story of death, dismemberment and abuse and yet to try this is considered heroic!

A lone child embarks on a terrible journey through a landscape of monsters and villains. His goal is noble, almost chivalric -- he travels through hardship and dangers to find his mother, lost in the far mysteries of the north. To add another layer to the story, it contains a vehicle right out of a fairy tale: a Fury-haunted freight train known as El Tren de la Muerte -- the Train of Death.

This isn't heroic; it's foolhardy. A mother who leaves her children to seek out a better life for herself, and in turn, eventually, for them isn't to be commended, she's to be scorned! You do not abandon your children for financial gain! I don't care how poor you are, that's not a commendable occupation! Then to have your child follow you traversing all these dangers and breaking countless laws all alone? This is somehow commendable, somehow something to be encouraged?

Then, the article continues, explaining that it's all about the money. As if, that's somehow reason enough to justify these barbaric practices.

Why does the problem continue? Follow the money. Everybody wins -- except the abandoned children. Who can blame them for trying to save themselves the only way they've been shown?
--emphasis added

I'm sorry, but no. Everybody does not win. American citizens don't win. Legal immigrants don't win. Illegal immigrants don't win. Childless mothers don't win. Motherless children don't win. The only ones who win from these life-and-death gambles are the businesses who illegally hire undocumented workers on the cheap. Sure, it's about money, but it's not a win-win situation.

If these women and their children want to come to this country, then fine. I have NO problem with that whatsoever. Just do it legally. Come here as a family. Prosper. Grow. Learn English. Live amongst us and help us grow. We'll nurture you. You'll nurture us. We'll all prosper. However, you've got to do so legally, or else all bets are off and as far as I'm concerned you're a criminal and deserve deportation. It is not our responsibility to distinguish between those who just want a better life, and these guys:

In the madness of the harsher border, drug lords and gangsters rule the day. Any border patrol agent will tell you that criminal elements are on the rise -- as are violence and the terrible toll of deaths due to heat, cold, misadventure and homicide.
--emphasis added

You choose the life of a criminal, then you become a criminal and no amount of protesting should change that. The laws in America need to be changed. But, amnesty for those "heroes" who've chosen to break our laws isn't the way to go. Make coming here legally easier. Then prosecute anyone who comes here illegally very quickly and get them out of our country. Prosecute those businesses who choose to hire illegal immigrants and close them down. Secure our borders. Secure our nation. And give every legal resident a fair chance to prosper.

Thank you, David Schantz, for asking a provocative question.

Void Sticker

Antibiotics, Resistance and the Perpetual Cold

I'll start off by saying that "healthy" is not a word I would generally use to describe myself, despite my doctor's use of it, mostly because I know better. Intellectually I know there are at least a thousand habits I would need to change in order to count my lifestyle as a healthy one. Spiritually I know I should treat my body like a temple, and I also know I treat mine more like a plow horse. I expect it to go when my brain says go, to go faster when I need it to, and to stop when I can finally allow myself to sleep. I also know that this does not work!

Habits, however, are hard to break. My lifestyle is one of priorities and while I am on my own list of priorities (which is a successful habit-breaking bit of change, as I used to not be), my brain and my soul are still prioritized much more highly than my body. I also know that my body tends to be much more healthy when I have money to spend on it. For instance, I don't dislike exercising. However, I much prefer exercising in a gym and membership is something I cannot currently afford. I also like to eat healthy, balanced meals, however I dislike (read here: suck at) making such meals, especially when I'm the only one who ends up eating them. So, right now, on the top of my priorities is getting a college degree which will help me find a job which will help me to better afford to take care of myself.

So, I've been sick for about a week now. With what? I don't know, except that it's not strep, because we tested for that. I also know it is virulent, because my husband caught it and his immune system kicks ass. But, it all started Monday. I took my son to the doctor for a big glob of wax that was stuck in his ear (this was a mistake, because the experience traumatized my son and he still has the glob of wax in his ear). I had had a perpetual sinus infection of some sort for about a month. I'm a stubborn sort, and since it had not interfered with my body-as-plow-horse mentality, I had not seen a doctor to remedy the situation. This is typical for me. However, when I got back from the doctors and joined an impromptu meeting (the meeting wasn't really impromptu, I'd just forgotten it was scheduled and it wasn't posted where it should be, so it felt impromptu) I couldn't stop coughing. Every thirty seconds or so I coughed this phlegmy, nasty sort of coughing that shook my whole chest. I was just shocked. I don't get sick fast like that. Usually it creeps up on me, so I know it's coming. I hadn't been sick (not really) before I went to the doctor and yet, here I was coughing up a storm. (My husband, of course, claims I got sick at the doctor's office, but usually it doesn't start so fast from there either.)

Basically, the coughing got worse. Tuesday I went to see my doctor and he said I was generally a young, healthy, vigorous individual and that I should do well on my own and he gave me a cough syrup laced with codeine to help me get over it. This is something he and I go through about twice or thrice a year. I get sick enough to go to the doctor, he says the generally I'm a healthy individual and should be fine, but if I get worse he'll give me an antibiotic. I get worse. He gives me the antibiotic and I get better. This pattern is pretty much set in stone for us.

Now, the thing of it is that I agree with him, to a certain extent. I know what antibiotic resistance is and I recognize the serious problem it poses our society. I'm not wasteful with antibiotics, nor do I seek out medication frivolously. And doctors that hand out antibiotics at the first sign of the sniffles bother the hell out of me (yes, they're still around, my step-son has such a doctor). My point is that it doesn't really matter how my congestion starts. As soon as it starts getting into my lungs it always turns into bronchitis and I always end up on antibiotics. This was true when I was a child. It's still true now. Part of it is my Mom's smoking, part of it is my smoking, but most of it is simply that my immune system was seriously compromised as a child by a staff infection, followed by open-heart surgery, and I've never really recovered.

As a world-wide society we are worried about antibiotic resistance. It's even hitting our pets. This is a serious problem which I recognize. However, does this mean people have to be complete immersed in their illness before antibiotics are used? I'm not sure, but I suspect not. Then again, that's how we developed this problem in the first place, so...

Maybe the solution is getting my tonsils and adenoids removed, like my six year old son who experiences a very similar problem. I don't know.

Void Sticker

Friday, March 24, 2006


So, after waiting for nearly eleven months, my husband and I finally got to drive an hour and half to get the results from all the testing our three year old son has endured. This was supposed to be the visit that set us on the path to help our son deal with/excel beyond his various developmental delays. After the lengthy drive from our small city to Milwaukee, an hour and half of freeway driving through intermittent rain/snow, we arrived at the sprawling medical facility and went to the specialized child developmental clinic. There we met with the two specialists who were in charge of diagnosing our son. We talked for nearly an hour as they explained the reasoning behind their conclusions. About half way through it I knew that the diagnosis I expected, that of Autism Spectrum Disorder which is the same diagnosis my two other children with developmental delays have received, would not be forthcoming. The build up was just too great. There were too many "buts" and "howevers" in their little prep talk. However, that did not prepare me for the climax of our lengthy discussion. In the end, after all the tests, all the expense, all the inconvenience.....there is NO diagnosis. Their summation: Ben has global developmental delays....but we already knew that.

We're supposed to come back in a year for Ben to be re-evaluated (we were, at least, assured the process would be quicker the next time through) to see if anything has changed, to see if a clear diagnosis could be made. See, it could be Autism. However, it could also/instead be mental retardation. There is no known causation they can offer us as a clue to what's going on. And they have no proscribed treatment beyond what we're already doing/attempting. Altogether, "disappointed" and "frustrated" don't begin to describe how I feel. I'm left with a great, wide-open sense of WTF!

Perhaps you were expecting something profound. Something useful or insightful when you started reading this post. Sorry to disappoint you. But, maybe given time, I'll be able to learn something from this and then I'll gladly share it with you. For now this all I can offer. I hope you understand. I sure as hell don't!

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Thursday, March 23, 2006


It's been a long week, I'm still sick, and I have one more long drive/major doctor appointment left before it's over, so please bear with my eclectic series of thoughts.


It seems that the big military move pulled off recently in Iraq, while having several recognized purposes, was partially done to obtain the freedom of some of our captives.

Abu Ghraib, also the site of the infamous prison, is where U.S. and British forces stormed a house Thursday morning and freed three Christian peace activists held hostage since Nov. 26.

I realize that I've been sick, and the world is entirely allowed to move on without my awareness, especially with a war going on, but...

This article calls this military engagement "Northern Lights." Is this or is this not the same military engagement that was termed "Operation: Swarmer"? I cannot tell. It seems so similar and the news articles seem so generic, I just cannot tell. Anybody know?

Also, I have to ask: When are those durned insurgents going to realize that Bush already declared victory here? I must be missing something here, and I know I'm not the only one, but this still looks like war to me!!! If it's a war, which I'd argue it is, then we have to fight it like a war, not like some game of whack-a-mole. Somebody, please, convince whoever needs to be convinced that our soldiers need more solid plans than "let's go get d'em guys!" to be able to win this!


The three men who were, apparently, rescued as part of "Northern Lights" were James Loney, Harmeet Singh Sooden, both from Canada, and Norman Kember, from England. They are members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams. Unfortunately, this rescue came too late for Tom Fox, their American associate.

Mr. Fox's body was found this month, shot and dumped in western Baghdad.

"We remember with tears Tom Fox," group co-director Doug Pritchard said in Toronto. "We had longed for the day when all four men would be released together. Our gladness today is bittersweet by the fact that Tom is not alive to join his colleagues in the celebration."

This raises these questions: If our troops did more operations of this nature, would we have less civilian casualties? Would we be able to conclude this war, which now isn't a war, all the more quickly? Are these operations as successful as this article suggests? Or are we still playing whack-a-mole? We successfully rescued three out of four men; could we have rescued others who are now dead?


Now, last but not least, I couldn't help but notice this trend...

This article (and many others, so it's not just an Egyptian thing) says:

U.S. and British forces freed three Christian peace activists without firing a shot early Thursday, ending a four-month hostage drama in which an American among the group was shot to death and dumped on a Baghdad street.
--emphasis added

Which brings to mind this question: How close do they have to be shooting and how much gun-power need they have before it's considered "firing a shot" whether the shots were fired within the building or not?

The first I heard of this the rescue was part of "Northern Lights," which involved 1,400 of our guys, weapons caches, terrorists captures, explosives detonation, and hostages releasing! Where does the "no shots fired" thing come in? Was that as misleading as it seems to me it was intended to be? Was it intended to be misleading? "Look! We can free our hostages without firing a shot! Too bad we have all those silly guns!"


Like I said, these thoughts aren't exactly coherent...but, I did warn you! Besides, it gave me an excuse to play around with my formatting options more than I have before!

Void Sticker

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Just wondering...

I've been sick for the last 36 hours, so I've not been on-line. But, I've been wondering...

I realize I'm new to Blogger and am not familiar with all the "rules" both said and unsaid, but I've been noticing a lot of "old" blogs.

Like this one. And this one. And this one, which is listed (by Blogger) as having a "recent post".

So, my question is this: What's with all these out-dated blogs? Do people just not notice the "delete" feature? Does Blogger not go through it's files to check on those that aren't being accessed? Or is there a purpose to this that I might just not fathom?

I know with Yahoo! there's a time-limit. If you don't access your account for six months (I think) they shut it down. Should Blogger consider trying something like that, too?

What do you think?

Void Sticker

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Mainstreaming vs. Inclusion

My husband and I recently returned from our second-to-last Parents As Leaders conference, a series of conferences dedicated to teaching Wisconsin parents of children with special needs how to be leaders in their communities for their children. It's for parents of children who are currently in Birth-to-3 or, as in our case, who were recently in Birth-to-3. It's a great program, and I highly recommend participating if you are offered the opportunity.

As always, we learned a lot at this conference. One was clarifying a common misconception, one that school districts tend to encourage. Mainstreaming and Inclusion are NOT synonymous. Even Wikipedia (cited above) treats them as equivalents with this statement:

Mainstreaming in education, also known as inclusion, is the process of grouping disabled students with general education students in the classroom.

However, this statement:

In the 1980s, the process of mainstreaming became popular after the requirement of a Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) (Clearinghouse, E. 2003). Students with minor disabilities integrated into classes of normal students while students with major disabilities were secluded to special classrooms, with the opportunity to be among normal students for a few hours each day.
--emphasis added

Followed by this description of inclusion:

An Inclusive Education refers to schools, centres of learning and educational systems that are open to all children, and that ensure that all children learn and participate. For this to happen, teachers, schools and systems may need to change so that they can better accommodate the diversity of needs that pupils have and that they are included in all aspects of school-life. It also means identifying any barriers within and around the school that hinder learning and participation, and reducing or removing these barriers. Inclusion in education is a process of enabling all children, including previously excluded groups, to learn and participate effectively within mainstream school systems. Placing excluded children within a mainstream setting does not of itself achieve inclusion. Inclusive Education must be underpinned by key principles and practices...
--emphasis added

...belies that notion.

I feel this distinction is important. Mainstreaming is, in essence, about a child with a disability earning his way into a regular classroom by not being too disabled. While those who cannot earn their way into such a classroom are segregated into special education classrooms. As per my recollection of history, which I've checked for accuracy, the legal concept of "separate but equal" was struck down in 1954.

From the Opinion of the Court:

We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of "separate but equal" has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.

And this:

Because these are class actions, because of the wide applicability of this decision, and because of the great variety of local conditions, the formulation of decrees in these cases presents problems of considerable complexity. On reargument, the consideration of appropriate relief was necessarily subordinated to the primary question -- the constitutionality of segregation in public education. We have now announced that such segregation is a denial of the equal protection of the laws.

I guess, nowadays, if you just take out the "equal" part, it's somehow okay? Mainstreaming is now widely accepted, though some still fight it because of the cost involved. However, inclusion is still all too rare.

As recently as 2000, the National Council on Disability found none of our states, none of them, were in compliance with IDEA, which is federal law.

More recently, the National Council on Disability (2000) released similar findings. Investigators discovered that every state was out of compliance with the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and that U.S. officials are not enforcing compliance. Even today, schools sometimes place a student in a self-contained classroom as soon as they see that the student is labeled as having a disability. Some students enter self-contained classrooms as soon as they begin kindergarten and never have an opportunity to experience regular education. When families of students with disabilities move to a different district, the new school sometimes moves the student out of general education environments and into segregated classrooms.

This is unacceptable. Inclusion isn't easy, it's not cheap, but segregation is wrong. For a nation that cherishes freedom and equality, this is totally absurd. Parents, school faculty and our communities need to work cooperatively to ensure all children get a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment, as required by federal law.

There are many resources out there: just Google "resources for inclusive schools" and you'll find a bunch of them. None of us have to be in this alone. The risks are too great to fail. The successes too precious to ignore. Please remember, all children deserve a quality education. All children deserve to learn with their peers. All children should be equal under the law.

Support inclusion for every child!

Void Sticker

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Government Waste

Surprise, surprise...or not.

The government has wasted millions of dollars geared toward Katrina relief. All you out there who are actually surprised say, "OH NO!"

*crickets creak then croak*
(After all, it's still winter in Wisconsin.)

"The government's response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita depended heavily on contractors to deliver ice, water and food supplies; patch rooftops; and provide housing to displaced residents," said the report by the GAO, Congress' auditing arm. "FEMA did not adequately anticipate needs."

Nicol Andrews, a spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the agency was working hard to improve its awarding of billions of dollars of government contracts as it prepares for the next hurricane season.

"We have been working with (Homeland) Secretary (Michael) Chertoff to incorporate unprecedented levels of oversight in FEMA contracting," she said. "However, in the event of a disaster when minutes count, we have the authority to do what it takes to move quickly."

By and large, the initial criticism of FEMA from members of Congress and others was that the agency moved too slowly to assist hurricane victims.
--emphasis added

After reading this...after thinking about how badly FEMA messed things up down there...I've finally thought of a good solution. I might be accused of religious pandering of some sort, but...

The Boy Scouts of America!!!

They're already working together.

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is pleased to work with the Boy Scouts of America to increase the level of citizen preparedness across the country.

Why not just make for the push and go all out?

At the very least, steal the Scouts' motto "Be prepared" and act on it!

If FEMA had actually known what it was doing and had the programs/contracts ready and in-place, we wouldn't be going through the money-pinch now and the Gulf Coast residents wouldn't have suffered nearly as much as they did then. What could be a better win/win situation than that?

So, I say give the Boy Scouts of America a shot. They care, they're prepared, and they're trained to act in an emergency. All three are very necessary qualities FEMA seems to be lacking now-a-days.

Void Sticker

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Something light...

After all the seriousness lately, I need a little lightening up.

My husband, Mark, recently finished reading The DaVinci Code. Despite the way he usually reads a book, he finished this one quickly. Which is probably part of the reason it was a best seller. However, that's not to say he liked the book, because it pretty much trashes religion while not even coming close to exploring the established religions that would better suit the mind-set that's explored in the novel.

That aside, we both thought this was rather interesting.

Brown admits he used "Holy Blood" when he wrote "The Da Vinci Code," but that it was only one of several sources and he did not copy its "central themes."

"I have never been shy about saying 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail' is part of this," Brown said. "The whole Teabing section of the book -- those are the sorts of snippets of information that 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail' is very good on."

Apparently he's being sued for stealing his ideas from another book, without giving proper credit. Frivolous perhaps, but then again... Intellectual property should be exchanged freely and credit should be given where it's due. Perhaps Brown should have boned up on the Ten Commandments before he started his project?

Void Sticker

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Eugenics: The Time is Now!

It is with great sadness and abiding anger that I type these words. I admit that, only a few months before, I really couldn't imagine this to be necessary. The should NOT be happening now, in the post-Hitler era. Not that it should ever have happened, but... We've learned! We know better! Or, so I would have thought.

Somehow, I thought it couldn't ever happen. Somehow, I thought we had become more humane than this. Somehow, I would have never known this had been happening for six years in the Netherlands!

Times Online has this story:

When Frank and Anita's daughter Chanou was born with an extremely rare, incurable illness in August 2000, they knew that her life would be short and battled against the odds to make it happy.

They struggled around the clock against their baby's pain. "We tried all sorts of things," said Anita, a 37-year-old local government worker. "She cried all the time. Every time I touched her it hurt."

Chanou was suffering from a metabolic disorder that had resulted in abnormal bone development. Doctors gave her no more than 30 months to live. "We felt terrible watching her suffer," said Anita at their home near Amsterdam. "We felt we were letting her down."

Frank and Anita began to believe that their daughter would be better off dead. "She kept throwing up milk that was fed through a tube in her nose," said Anita. "She seemed to be saying, 'Mummy, I don't want to live any more. Let me go'."

Eventually, doctors agreed to help the baby die at seven months. The feeding was stopped. Chanou was given morphine. "We were with her at that last moment," said Anita. "She was exhausted. She took a very deep last breath. It was so peaceful. It made me feel at peace inside to know that she wasn't suffering any more."

Even so, they felt that the suffering had gone on too long. Child euthanasia is illegal in Holland and doctors were afraid of being prosecuted. "It was a long road to find the humane solution that we reluctantly decided we wanted," said Frank, a bank worker.

Now, they're working to legalize it!

If you really didn't think this could happen again... you were wrong!!!

Thanks to 4TheLittleGuy for bringing this to my attention.

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

It's Time to Support the Troops!

Start here, don't argue...just click it! Read it. Then, go here. Check this out if you're wary.

This isn't a conservative thing, or a liberal thing, it's a write a letter and show you care thing. If it suits your conscience to support a family in need with loving concern, contact Lisa (not my frequent commenter Lisa) at MyWay716@aol.com.

And, in on a totally unrelated topic, if you're still in the supportive mood, check this out.

All these links were brought to my attention thanks to David Shantz who is a participant in American Bloggers for Inclusive Debates, which I too am hoping to join soon.

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I've been tagged...

And so, I'll have to go outside my pattern once again...

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18 and find line 4.

The book nearest to me (under a pile of clutter) is my quad, the first book in my quad is the Holy Bible (King James version): Genesis 12:15 "The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house."

2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can, what do you find?

The green curtain that covers one of the windows in my den.

3. What is the last thing you watched on TV?

The basketball game that interrupted me son's Saturday morning cartoons...as I reached to turn off the television.

4. Without looking, guess what time it is.

2:30 p.m.

5. Now look at the clock, what is the actual time?

3:04 p.m.

6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?

My children playing, happily for the moment.

7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing?

All the way outside...last night, on my way home from going out to eat with my family. To my garage, which is sort of outside...a few minutes ago to smoke a cigarette.

8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at?

Herzing College's on-line course requirements.

9. What are you wearing?

lavender colored thermal pajamas.

10. Did you dream last night?

Yes, but the details are fuzzy.

11. When did you last laugh?

A few moments ago, Ben needed comforting so we were silly together.

12. What is on the walls of the room you are in?

A "Gone with the Wind" calendar, a shelf with cd-roms, a quote from Orson Scott Card "It might be true enough that the story isn't ready for publication--but that isn't why you aren't sending it out. No, you're hanging on to this manuscript for one reason only. Raw, naked fear." --emphasis added, a picture of my father-in-law, Willy and Brandon, a cross candle sconce, a cherub candle sconce, three shelves with various pretties on them, a white cross with a quote from J. Reuben Clark above it "If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.", cobwebs.

13. Seen anything weird lately?

Yes, I have looked in the mirror.

14. What do you think of this quiz?

It's making me seem more religious than I am.

15. What is the last film you saw?

"Never Been Kissed" on DVD...again.

16. If you turned into a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy?

A lot of things....home repairs, the equipment for my husband to design video games, more therapy equipment for my boys, a nutritionist/chef (hire, not buy), a gym membership, an anniversary gift for my husband...a lot of things.

17. Tell me something about you that I don't know.

Vodka and gin make me sick, but McGillicuddy's is good stuff!

18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt and politics, what would you do?

Give everyone the hope that this world can truly be a better place and the will to make it so--then lots of things could and would be done.

19. Do you like to Dance?

Like to? Yes. Any good at it? Sadly, no.

20. George Bush.

President of the United States of America...whether you like it or not.

21. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?

Rachel Michelle.

22. Imagine your first child is a boy, what would you call him?

My husband named him William Frederick, and I concurred.

23. Would you ever consider living abroad?

No, though I'd like to visit.

24. What would you want God to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?

"Well done, good and faithful service."

25. 4 people who must also do this theme in their journal.

As a baby blogger I'm doubting I know four people (especially since Lisa's excluded) who'll cooperate, but we'll try...

I tag... Reverse_Vampyr, Unsomnambulist, Estee and Zilari.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Or, Russ Feingold goes too far...

It's two years away from the next Presidential elections and he's already putting his political ambitions above his current role as a Wisconsin Senator. He's wants to know how to market his platform to garner the support of the nation, so he's going to give Americans all across the nation a chance to write what's on their minds. It's a psychologically sound strategy that has worked in Wisconsin, despite the fact that he doesn't actually use this knowledge to change his own positions. He gives people the feeling of being listened to without the messy side-effects of changing his policies.

Unfortunately, the strategy works, as do the other advertising tactics he uses, as indicated by his continued re-election. You talk to the people of Wisconsin and find they generally do support Russ Feingold. You talk to the people of Wisconsin about the positions Russ Feingold takes on the issues and you get a lot less support--but Feingold is a good guy and couldn't possibly vote like that!

Hmm. It makes one wonder whether we, as Americans, really want to be represented by a man whose showmanship is superb, but who's votes are often ones we don't support? I know my answer is "No!" But, then again, I pay more attention to what people do than to what people say, especially if that person is supposed to be representing me.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Free Speech vs. CIA

Now, who do you thinks going to win here?

T.J. Waters has a point. Apparently he was told his book was okay to go, but then the CIA changed their collective mind (sorry, bad dig) and decided to revise it a bit more. As a writer, I can understand Waters frustration, but...

It's the CIA, what do you really expect? Fairness?

Now, there's two problems I see with the whole mess.

1) If the CIA was okay with it the first time, and Waters didn't make any changes (this has not been clarified), why would they change their minds? Did they not do their job the first time (hmmm), or did some internal mechanism change? And, more importantly, will we ever know why they felt these deletions were important?

The thing that makes me question what changes Waters made is this:

"But last month, after more than a year of waiting, the agency informed him that dozens of deletions would be required -- many of them blocking previously cleared material, he said."
--emphasis added

If the book really hadn't changed, then wouldn't it ALL be previously cleared material? If the book HAS changed, then why is he oh-so-surprised that it would have to be reviewed again. And, if he gave away just a little bit more information in the right places, presumably it might be enough to help people connect dots that the CIA doesn't think they should be connecting.

So, as a writer, this kind of pisses me off. As a citizen, it makes me wonder just how honest Waters is being and whether it's really a good idea to publish for the world what our CIA agents are learning in their special classes. I mean, sure, some of us may dream of being the next Sidney Bristow, but most of us realize that's just not going to happen and are also wise enough to realize we really wouldn't want it to happen to us.

2) Now, my second problem may prove more telling in the whole mess. Here it goes... Waters was in for 2 years. Two years, that's it! And, he knows enough to write a book? Hmmm. I wonder.... He went through training, became a desk jockey (not that I have a problem with desk jockeys, but this book is supposed to be about training for field work), got out of the CIA and proceeded to write a book. Something's missing here. Something important. It's on the tip of my fingers...it's....it's...CREDIBILITY!!!

Now, people buy stupid things all the time. Stupid books are amongst those stupid things people buy. This book very well may sell. It may sell big time, especially if Oprah picks it up (yes, I know, now I'm just getting snippy). The thing of it is, the writer in me wants to jump up and scream about the censorship, but the citizen in me is saying that maybe, just maybe, the big bad CIA isn't really trying to hush this man up, but is instead trying to protect us, the unwitting public, from misinformation!

Though, ya' know, this hype is probably going to make his books jump right off the shelves once it finally gets on them...it's great to buy American!

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

A Disturbing Timepiece

Eugenics is a scary word for anyone who believes in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, the term becomes especially scary for me when it's used in reference to my own children.

"The possible elimination of the autism genotype is a significant political issue in the autism rights movement which claims autism is a form of neurodiversity."

The autism rights movement, as wikipedia calls it, is something that's fairly new to me. I really didn't think there was anyone else out there who wasn't looking for a "cure" for their children with autism. However, due to developing my own blog and my search for other bloggers to converse with, I found Estee and Zilari, among others, who have helped me realize that my husband and I are far from alone in our belief that autism is not a disease to be cured, but another way of functioning. As for myself, I don't know where I fit as per the autism rights movement. My views have been developed while pursuing what's best for my children. But I do know that I don't want other women, soon to be mothers of children with autism, to be pressured into aborting their child, because some scientist believes it will "lessen human suffering." My boys are precious individuals who's quality of life is determined by their joy, not their neurological differences from their peers.

The truly sad part is that autism is already under-funded:

"But NIH spending per afflicted individual still lags well behind most other diseases — with only $66 spent per person with autism."

To add insult to injury, the bulk of this very limited funding goes to genetic research! This isn't to help my children, or the many other individuals with autism in the world, it's to prevent them!

The article I've found that describes the ambitious pursuit for a prenatal autism test calls for a pharmaceutical answer to eliminate autism. However, there are many in the autism community who seriously fear that developing a prenatal autism test is a major step towards eliminating autism through abortion, "impolitely" called eugenics.

Whether you're pro-choice or pro-life, please realize that autism is not a disease. It doesn't need a cure and it certainly doesn't need a eugenics program; it needs researchers to seek ways to help individuals with autism learn to cope with their differences, use them to their advantage and, where detrimental, overcome them. If an autistic individual is uncomfortable, help them reach a better level of comfort, don't abort their future peers out of existence.

Please help me say "NO!" to eugenics!

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Poor Appointment Choice

Rod Blagojevich, Governor of Illinois, obliviously chose to appoint an official of the Nation of Islam to the Governor's Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes. While a fellow member does support her placement as appropriate, despite the commission losing four members in protest to her continued presence, that's not what gets me. She can stay or not as far as I'm concerned, and I think that this rarely used commission will continue on it's waning path just fine.

However, this is just too much:

The Democratic governor, in a recent interview with The Associated Press, said he did not realize he had appointed a Nation of Islam official until learning about it from news reports.

He nodded vigorously when asked whether his staff should have discussed the appointment and its implications with him, but would say little else about the incident.

This is the same man who unwittingly agreed to an interview on "The Daily Show," not realizing it was a comedy and that he was there to be mocked.

I don't live in Illinois, but I have to wonder how they feel about putting this man in control of their entire state! I know he's too close for my comfort.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

New Template

Thanks to the diligence, creativity and blogging-know-how of Lisa Renee at Liberal Common Sense I now have a new, personalized template that better reflects my tastes and sense of order.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!!!

Be sure to check out the new blog description on top!

Thank you very much, Lisa! It looks great!

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Tech question

Okay, am I the only one who finds it very annoying that my sidebar isn't working right? Possibly, but... If any of you know how to make it go back up where it's supposed to or can tell me where to look to solve this problem, I'd very much appreciate it.