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Of course, I’d take Sadie. She’d probably beat me down the stairs or trip me trying to!

My laptop would be next to go simply because it’s the only repository of all my grandboy photos. The laptop is the new photo album.

But I also couldn’t bear to part with this:

Land’s End Big Shirt

(Damn, my picture is too big to fit here.)

This little beauty has been my constant summer companion for the last few years. It’s my cover-up cover-up on the beach, my lightweight jacket, my robe when walking the dog in my jammies (in summer, tank top or skimpy tee) and loungers.

The other possession it would break my heart to leave behind is this:

Cheryl’s Red Pot

I can’t even recall where I picked this pot up. In my travels, I tend to buy two things…jewelry and pottery. Earrings are a favorite souvenir. I have dozens of pairs I’ve bought on vacations…Key West, Chicago, San Fransisco, San Diego, Arizona, New Mexico. My souvenir from my Barbados trip last summer was a lovely tanzanite ring in a white gold setting. I wear it almost every day.

I also enjoy pottery, especially if it is unusual. This small pot (probably measures 5 1/2 inches from lip to base…sorry, but that is small!) is smooth as silk, made of the clearest white porcelain. The thickness is remarkably consistent, all the way to the base. And the glaze…the glaze is to die for! Good reds are hard to come up with, something with the chemicals. My favorite part of pottery in college was mixing the glazes. I was able to let the inner chemist in me play. But red was always so tough to achieve.

See, I really am a very simple person, with minimal materialistic needs, though I do like my car! I am just so damned pleased with the simplest of things.

I’m glad all the brouhaha has died down around here. You know, I will not be able to read my blog stats for a month now that I had 11,000 views in two days! I’m doing a lot of thinking about all that and hope to craft a follow-up, though that will probably wait until over the weekend, after I’ve had a little more time to mull it over.

I stand by my conviction, however, that the better choice would be to to selectively reduce the number of fetuses in a very multiple gestation pregnancy to allow a reasonable chance for long-term survival with quality of life for the survivors. To me, this is the moral, ethical, logical, smartest and “right” thing to do. I do, however, respect the right of others to have a differing opinion. I just wish it could be accompanied with a little less venom on the part of some.

(Addendum to “Things to Take in Case of Fire”: How could I forget? My vibrator.  While you’re there, check out the rest of MORGASM.)

…some right-wing, right-to-life, so-called Christians can be?

Third Minnesota sextuplet dies;
others in critical condition

Have I mentioned that I have been a nurse for nearly 23 years? And that I worked 14 of those in a high-risk perinatal setting. In a hospital with a Level 3 designation, providing high-tech, high-quality obstetric care.

Here is the entire text of the brief piece, which CNN got from the AP. And I’m sure they paid the royalties to them, too.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (AP) — Half of the sextuplets born prematurely to a Minnesota couple have now died, while the others remained in critical condition, hospital officials said Saturday.

A third boy, Lincoln Sean Morrison, died Friday. Two of his brothers, Tryg and Bennet, died earlier in the week.

The four boys and two girls were born last Sunday about 4½ months early at a Minneapolis hospital. Doctors had advised the couple to selectively reduce the number of viable fetuses to two, but they declined.

Parents Ryan and Brianna Morrison released a statement saying it has been “a difficult week” for them, and they thanked everyone for their prayers and support.

“We continue to trust in the Lord and are hopeful for a good outcome for Cadence, Lucia and Sylas,” the statement said.

Hospital officials said no further information would be released.

Can I tell you how frustrating this is for an OB nurse?

When I worked in my last life, I worked with two women with fertility problems. Actually, I worked with quite a few with fertility problems but these two stand out in my mind particularly at the moment.

Linda was in her thirties, happily married and Christian. I can’t remember all the specifics but Linda underwent fertility treatments including drugs like Pergonal and Clomid, the use of which frequently gives rise to conception of serious multiples (quads or greater). Mary was in her twenties, married, Catholic and Italian. I have no idea of her fertility treatment but she conceived quads.

Linda was initially pregnant with four babies, selectively aborted one and carried three babies to over 35 weeks gestation before delivering them, all in the vicinity of five pounds. None of them needed assistance with breathing. They all fed. They may have had a few bumps but, pretty much, were as near a term pregnancy as any triplets are likely to get.

Mary, being from a staunch Catholic upbringing, opted not to selectively terminate and tried to bring her quads to term. I believe they delivered in the vicinity of 33 to 34 weeks, considerably earlier and lighter than Linda’s triplets. Mary required much intervention during her pregnancy, developing preterm labor necessitating medications. Some of those PTL meds are not the kindest or best things for even a relatively healthy, childbearing age woman.

I don’t think any of Mary’s babies was able to leave the hospital with her. If I remember correctly, they all required feeding tubes. Some of them may have had assisted ventilation (probably with nasal C-pap.) I think at least two of Linda’s three went home with Mom…it might have been all three.

I had the pleasure of taking care of Linda in the last few weeks of her pregnancy, when she was confined to the hospital. I also took care of her afterward and helped her to learn to breastfeed. Those are some of the fondest memories I have of my years as an OB nurse.

I never had to deal with Mary when she was hospitalized, thankfully. She was one of those nurses who claimed a moral and religious objection to caring for women during elective terminations. Frankly, I always thought she was just lazy and not really so morally offended, more of a selective Catholic, but that’s an even snarkier post for a really snarky day.

If the Minnesota couple had chosen to reduce the number of fetuses in the pregnancy to three, they might all have left with Mom. Had they reduced the number of babies to four, they would all probably still be alive.

As it stands, they delivered six babies at roughly 22 weeks. A 22-week singleton stands, at best, a 50-50 shot, in my estimation. And that’s a 22-weeker that didn’t have to spend those weeks sharing his environment with five siblings.

As it is, the six babies have required a tremendous amount of health care resources. I’m sure not one was able to breathe on his or her own at birth meaning 6 full teams of neonatal nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists needed to be present. Every effort is made to save any neonate, regardless of gestational age, after the point of potential viability (around 22 weeks when I left OB in 2001).

The three boys who’ve died were each treated by a team of those professionals along with all the ancillary departments necessary for a very sick infant. The three surviving babies, I’m sure, remain in a neonatal intensive care unit, fully ventilated, unable to eat, unable to see yet. Totally unprepared for survival in the environment into which they’ve been thrust.

I don’t begrudge them the medical care, which will run into millions of dollars if many more survive. God bless them that they were able to provide care for their children. I begrudge their parents’ complete lack of foresight via blind devotion to a religious ideology. It is my opinion their ideology is flawed, is too literal and basic and lacks any sense of nuance. I’m of the opinion that four of those babies might be alive today had two of them been selectively terminated early in the pregnancy.

Imagine that…abortion might have saved the life of a child that is now dead.

Theirs is a black and white world. Too bad most of the world comes at us in lovely and varied shades of grey.

What a waste.

Oh, I’ll link it up later…I’ve got a bath waiting…

Jeffrey Marsalis, sexual assaulterI was sitting in my local diner this afternoon, eating breakfast and reading my paper. The first story to draw my attention was that about the verdict in a Philadelphia rape case involving one Jeffrey Marsalis. I’ll post the whole article here, since it will disappear into archives in a week or so. If Philly Inq lawyers read this, I’m doing this for the purposes of education and elucidation.

No rape on dates, hoaxer’s jury says

It convicted Jeffrey Marsalis, 34, of two counts of sexual assault. Seven women had accused him.

By Robert Moran

Inquirer Staff Writer

A Philadelphia jury yesterday found Jeffrey Marsalis – accused of drugging and raping seven women, six of whom he met on Match.com – guilty of two counts of sexual assault but acquitted him of a slew of rape charges involving all the accusers. The jurors failed to reach a verdict on one rape count against Marsalis, who pretended to be a doctor, a CIA agent and an astronaut to persuade women to date him.

Marsalis, 34, faces up to 20 years in prison for the two counts of sexual assault, defined as intercourse without consent. Rape includes aggravating factors such as force.

Marsalis will remain held without bail until sentencing Sept. 18. He also faces a drugging and rape case in Idaho.

Prosecutor Joseph Khan said a federal investigation of Marsalis continued, and urged anyone with information about other possible crimes to contact the FBI at 215-418-4000.

One of the accusers threw up after learning about the verdict and “felt like someone kicked me in the gut,” the woman said in an interview.

“I feel like the Goldmans,” she said, referring to the family of Ron Goldman, whom O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of murdering.

The jury informed the court that it had reached a verdict after 11/2 hours of deliberation yesterday. It was the fifth day of deliberations, which on Monday had erupted into angry shouting.

Shortly after 1 p.m., the jury foreman was read a list of 35 counts, including 25 rape counts, such as forcible rape, rape of an unconscious person, and rape by substantial impairment.

When the foreman announced the first “not guilty,” Marsalis, dressed in an olive-green suit, looked up. After the third “not guilty,” he began to blink rapidly. But when the foreman announced the first “guilty” for sexual assault, Marsalis gulped.

One of the accusers gazed down with a sad expression when Marsalis was found not guilty of everything involving her. The woman, a lawyer, later sobbed quietly as the jury’s decision was repeated.

One juror, a young man, repeatedly looked at the woman and seemed distressed. The jury was composed of eight women and four men.

Afterward, jurors declined to comment as they rushed from the Criminal Justice Center near City Hall.

The sexual-assault counts involved a New Jersey woman and a woman who lived in Marsalis’ Center City apartment building. It wasn’t clear why the jurors had determined that those women were sexually assaulted rather than raped, or why they believed those two but not the other women.

In those cases, the circumstances differed wildly. One woman had only one contact – a phone call – with Marsalis after the alleged rape. The second woman befriended Marsalis after an alleged rape, and said he had raped her again several months later – the basis for the sexual-assault conviction.

“This is a 100 percent victory,” defense attorney Kathleen Martin said outside the courthouse, answering questions with cocounsel Kevin Hexstall before a media throng.

Martin said the jury had rejected the prosecution’s theory that Marsalis was a sexual predator who sought vulnerable woman and then drugged and raped them.

Hexstall said the convictions involved lesser charges that the District Attorney’s Office almost always threw into a case if rape charges didn’t hold up. “I think he was wrongly convicted, but I respect the jury’s decision,” Hexstall said.

Martin said Marsalis “was pleased with the jury’s hard work.”

Khan said the prosecution was “pleased that the jury recognized that Mr. Marsalis is a criminal, a sexual offender.”

He praised the seven accusers for “courageously” coming forward to testify.

Each count of sexual assault carries a maximum of 10 years in state prison, Khan said. Marsalis will be assessed to determine whether he is a sexually violent predator and will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

The jury began deliberating Thursday after 21/2 weeks of testimony highlighted by the appearances of the seven women, who accused Marsalis of drugging and raping them between 2003 and 2005.

At that time, the women were young professionals or obtaining advanced degrees or certifications.

One was a resident in the Metropolitan apartments near Hahnemann University Hospital, where Marsalis frequently roamed the halls in scrubs and a white lab coat with a phony ID.

Hexstall said the prosecution had employed “character assassination” by dwelling on the phony claims, the fake badges and manipulated photos, including one of Marsalis in an astronaut suit, “in order to get the jury to hate him.”

The women did not immediately report the alleged rapes or go to a hospital to be examined, but all did confide to someone later that they had been raped.

Those corroborating witnesses and the similar accounts provided by the women, who did not know one another, were the key elements of the prosecution.

But the women’s continued contacts with Marsalis – one befriended him, another had dinner with him, one called to recommend he go to a self-improvement seminar she was attending – had some trial followers believing the defense’s contention that the women had consensual sex with him and regretted it after authorities told them that he was a fraud.

An official of Women Organized Against Rape, which monitored the trial, said she was pleased that the jury had held Marsalis “accountable for his actions,” but was disappointed it had acquitted him of the most serious charges.

“We had hoped that he would be found guilty of all the charges,” said Kathryn Fidler, the group’s legal services director, who was in court each day of the trial.

“But our primary focus was, first and foremost, on the well-being of the victims in the case,” she said. “It is very difficult to come into an open courtroom and have to talk about the worst experiences of your life. We really respect the women for doing that.”

Marsalis was found not guilty in January 2006 of drugging and raping three other women.

Okay.

So this man meets accomplished professional women over Match.com and gets together with them. He lies about everything in his life, claiming to be a doctor, a CIA agent, a Secret Service agent with direct access to the current president of the United States (as if that’s impressive!), a flight surgeon, an astronaut.

Here is a list of what he was then accused of doing to the women:

A summary of the charges against Jeffrey Marsalis

Prosecutors had contended that Jeffrey Marsalis drugged and raped the seven plaintiffs after they had drinks with him or shared food with him. In most cases, the women had left their drinks with Marsalis when they went to the restroom. The defense argued that the women consented to sex after drinking heavily and there was no evidence of drugging.

Jurors considered three definitions of rape in most cases: rape by forcible compulsion, rape of an unconscious victim and rape by causing substantial impairment.

*** Woman No. 1: Nov 30, of New Jersey. Drank a few beer samplers, then one or two beers at the Independence Brew Pub in January 2003.

– Not guilty on the three counts of rape.

– Guilty on sexual assault.

***No. 2: Now 26, met Marsalis in the Metropolitan Apartments, where both lived.

1) October 2003: She went out with him to Fado pub. Had about two gin and tonics.

– Not guilty on the three counts of rape.

– Not guilty on sexual assault.

2) January 2004: Marsalis came to her apartment after she got out of the hospital. No drinks. The woman testified that he forced himself on her. In this case, prosecutors did not contend she was first drugged.

– Jury hung on a charge of rape by forcible compulsion

– Guilty on sexual assault.

*** No. 3: Lived in Bethlehem, Pa. Was 26 when Marsalis allegedly got her pregnant. Testified she had about half a glass of red wine at a restaurant. At her condo, Marsalis later poured her another glass of red wine, of which she drank some.

After she told him she was pregnant and wanted him to pay to end the pregnancy, she said he threatened her with his “CIA connections” if she were to report anything to police.

– Not guilty on the three counts rape

– Not guilty sexual assault

– Not guilty of impersonating a public servant

*** No. 4: Single mother and nurse from New Jersey, now 36. Testified that she had three glasses of merlot and a kamikaze shot with Marsalis at Tir Na Nog on Nov. 12, 2004.

– Not guilty on three counts of rape

– Not guilty on sexual assault

*** No. 5: Now 32, was a law-school student when she met Marsalis on Dec. 30, 2004. She had three beers at Fado. After, at Tir Na Nog, she had ordered a white wine, but didn’t remember drinking it. She recalled parts of her night with Marsalis.

– Not guilty on three counts of rape

– Not guilty on sexual assault

*** No. 6: now 36, of Exeter, Pa., spent a weekend in Marsalis’ apartment, in June 2004. On the first night, they went to Tir Na Nog, where she had two beers and a mixed-drink shot. She said she blacked out. The next day, she said she drank iced tea in Marsalis’ apartment, and sometime after having lunch with him, blacked out again.

– Not guilty on three counts of rape

– Not guilty on sexual assault

*** No. 7: Now 30, public accountant, lived in Downingtown, had medical problems that affected her memory, concentration and word fluency.

1) Feb. 26, 2005: She had one draft beer each at World Cafe Live and later at Continental Midtown. Afterward, they went to Striped Bass, where Marsalis ordered them each a glass of white wine. She said she had a few sips. The only time she testified going to the restroom was at Striped Bass. Shortly after, she said she blacked out.

– Not guilty on three counts of rape

– Not guilty on sexual assault

2) March 1, 2005: She said she agreed to meet Marsalis again. She wanted to confront him with having raped her on their first date, she testified. They went to a Chinatown restaurant, where Marsalis served them food from platters and she had a Coke. She did not go to the restroom.

– Not guilty on three counts of rape

– Not guilty on sexual assault.

Is it possible, I suppose, that these women had consensual sex with Marsalis and later pressed their claims due to embarrassment at having been duped by this asshole. That was the contention of his defense team, though, perhaps, not in those exact words.

I suppose it’s possible that these women, who did not know each other, came up, independently, with scenarios that are remarkably similar in modus operandi.

I imagine it’s possible that other women…

(“Marsalis was found not guilty in January 2006 of drugging and raping three other women.”)

in Philadelphia, or even in another state,…

(“If he is found not guilty, he faces another drugging and rape case in Sun Valley, Idaho. He is alleged to have assaulted a woman in October 2005 while he was awaiting trial here in a similar drugging and rape case. He was later found not guilty in the previous Philadelphia case.

While in the ski-resort town of Sun Valley, he joined the local fire department as a probationary firefighter in the summer of 2005, said Fire Chief Jeffrey Carnes. Marsalis’ mother, Darlene Jevne, owns several condominiums in Sun Valley and a nearby 400-acre ranch.

“He said he was going to be living here,” Carnes recalled.

At that time, he was out on bail in Philadelphia.

“He disappeared shortly after August,” said Carnes.

Marsalis remained in Sun Valley until he was arrested in the alleged rape there and then returned to Philadelphia to face rape charges here.”)

have had the same unfortunate type of encounter with this man. I guess there is some possibility that the Idaho woman could have had the same regrets about having fallen for his bullshit and chosen to falsely accuse him in that case, as well.

I suppose it’s also possible that it may snow overnight here in suburban Philly on June 14th or that Bill Clinton will really be able to keep it zipped for 4-8 years if Hillary manages to get into the White House. Feel free to insert whatever definition of “it” you like.

I am sitting here in my 62-degree F apartment in ski socks, fuzzy slippers, Polartec sweats and a velour sweater on June 14th, after all.

Possible.

Not likely.

But here’s what I really don’t get.

“Marsalis, 34, faces up to 20 years in prison for the two counts of sexual assault, defined as intercourse without consent. Rape includes aggravating factors such as force.”

According to this passage, the law in Pennsylvania defines “rape” as involving some sort of aggravating factor, such as force. Since when is drugging someone to the point of rendering them incapable of giving consent not “force?” I know that the verdict was more about believing the defense attorneys’ contention that there was no drugging and that the women merely later regretted an incredible lapse of judgment in having consented to fuck the loser. I simply don’t understand how a reporter could not come to the conclusion that doping does not constitute the use of “force.”

In my browsing this afternoon, I happened upon the definition of “rape” at the website of a district justice in Chester County. (Another thing I don’t get is the whole “District Justice” thing in PA, or judges running for the office at all, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.) That website was the closest I could come to finding the criminal code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania online, despite the name of this site. What’s up with that? Do I not, as a resident of PA, have the right to ready access to the laws governing the commonwealth in which I live? Where’s that ACLU phone number again?…

I don’t understand the tendency of our species to perpetually denigrate the female. Women in some Muslim countries are not allowed to attend school, read books, drive cars or leave the house without head-to-toe coverage or male escort. Women here in America may be lied to and deceived, drugged and sexually penetrated without significant penalty, without calling it what it is, without defining it as “rape?” Somebody please remind me how these things benefit the species from an evolutionary standpoint? How, again, does this make sense?

I suppose a world of mutual love and respect is possible.

But not likely.

(Another tidbit I offer for your perusal is a stunning letter from the Women’s Law Project to then-FBI director Robert Mueller about the definition of “rape” in the Uniform Crime Report.)

Oh, one more thing I can’t understand is how any woman could represent this man but; as a woman, a feminist, a Christian, a mother and grandmother, a liberal/progressive/libertarian/borderline socialist; I respect and defend Kathleen Martin’s right to make her own mistakes.

I’m an amateur US Constitution and Supreme Court buff. I was quite happy, therefore, to find a couple of great feeds for news on the court.

Okay, okay, I’ll share.

Here’s the other.

While I was on Medill’s On the Docket site, I happened upon a decision from Monday, April 2. It is fitting that on Earth Day I should find “Court sides with environmental interests in landmark car emissions case.” Of course, environmental non-activist that I am, I found it necessary to go read the original case, Massachusetts v. EPA, which dates to 1999.

Our wonderful Environmental Protection Agency declared in 2003 that it did not have jurisdiction over the regulation of greenhouse gases and that, even if it were within its power, it would opt not to regulate them.

Here’s an excerpt of the article on On the Docket that I found particularly compelling:

…in 1999, environmental groups unsatisfied with the federal government’s response to global warming filed a petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles. They said greenhouse gases should be considered air pollutants and thus, regulated under the federal Clean Air Act.

The petitioners cited Section 202 of the act, which states that the federal government is to regulate “any air pollutant” that can “reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.”

The EPA denied the petition in August 2003, saying that the act does not authorize the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and, even if it did, the EPA would not exercise such authority.

The agency cited a study by the National Research Council that concluded that “a causal linkage” between greenhouse gases emissions and global warming “cannot be unequivocally established.” EPA said it was inappropriate for the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions without more understanding about the causes of global warming.

Again, Section 202 of the act “states that the federal government is to regulate “any air pollutant” that can “reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” Can we not make a fair assumption that greenhouse gases contribute to global warming which is likely to have devastating effects on American citizens in the nearer rather than distant future. I fully expect to see horrible global consequences within my lifetime, don’t you?

What better US agency, you may ask, to regulate an air pollutant which can “reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare” than the Environmental Protection Agency?

Oh, I guess I’m just one of those ill-informed, bleeding-heart liberals who’s screaming that the sky is falling for no good reason!

I smile sardonically at the irony of all this. The things today’s “noted scientists” are now proclaiming as truths are all the things the rowdy, smelly environmentalists were ranting about back in 1970, on the first Earth Day. Now the whole world is up in arms over something the tree-huggers were being irrational and extremist over way back when and still the money grubbers don’t want to give an inch.

Record profits for any US company…ever.

Redux.

Happy Earth Day, all!

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

1922-2007

 

Automatic flush toilets were the beginning of the end of personal responsibility in America and herald the ultimate disintegration of civilization as we know it in these United States.

My evidence?

Courtesy of Nick Schultz at Slate.com.

Poop Report.com

I heard on NPR yesterday that a hospital in New York has been conducting research and is close to being able to offer uterus transplants to women who want to bear children. You can listen to the story on NPR’s Day to Day by clicking here. You can read about the research here. Here‘s some more on the subject from the AP via The Spokesman Review in Washington. Need a little satire with your news? Try this, from The Spoof, in the UK. Gotta love them Brits!

Uterus transplants. That’s right. Not lungs, which are necessary to breathe. Not kidneys, which are necessary to process and excrete fluids and minerals. Not a heart, which is, of course, the ultimate transplantable necessity. No, a uterus. Harvested from a woman who was unlucky enough to be killed while of childbearing age.

In case you hadn’t heard, having or using a uterus is not necessary for life. It’s not even, truly, necessary for a fulfilling life.

C’mon, folks. We are so obsessed with having (i.e. “bearing”) our own children that we will go through major abdominal surgery (we’re not talking about a laporoscopic procedure here) and treatment with immunosuppresant drugs for the sole purpose of being able to say we bore our own child?

How much attention is being paid to the impact of those immunosuppressives on a developing fetus? More importantly, why expose a child to any kind of risk associated with that therapy if it’s really not necessary?

Reproductive science has developed some marvelous therapies…first artificial imsemination then in vitro fertilization. We can now screen for a large number of genetic disorders early enough in pregnancy to allow parents the choice to bear a child with Trisomy 18 or cystic fibrosis. We can implant the ovum and egg from one couple into a woman’s body and successfully cultivate a pregnancy to a healthy conclusion.

Why is it so imperative for a woman to actively, personally participate in the incubation and delivery process to reach fulfilment in parenthood?

The basic immorality of this doesn’t even address the fact that this therapy will probably be out of the reach of all but the wealthiest infertile couples. The working poor infertile couple who has no health insurance will just have to go without. Or they can do what we’ve done for centuries…take in a family member’s child, adopt…

This seems the ultimate folly and vanity to me. If we want to outlaw some procedures, instead of focusing on embryonic stem cell (using cells which will be destroyed anyway) why not focus on something really needless, like transplanting uteri?

Had to be a real penishead that thought up this gem.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. A day (or more) late and a dollar short, that’s me. Actually, several dollars shorter than I was yesterday since I spent the day out Christmas shopping with my mother. (We actually didn’t do too bad, considering, but that’s another post, another blog, another day.)

Four Things I Bloody Well Hate About the Christmas Season

1) Rude Drivers: Why is it necessary to place your vehicle square in the middle of the intersection when the light is turning yellow? Will it really hurt so much to wait out one more traffic light sequence? Is that lost 90 seconds going to keep you from baking one more holiday cookie for the unfortunate family that lives down the street? Or is it going to keep you from putting yourself further in debt in an assinine attempt to impress the neighbors and the neighbor kids (see holiday decorations, below)?

C’mon…is the “Christ” now so far removed from “Christmas” that we can’t even display a little common courtesy? An iota? A smidgeon???

2) Commercialism and commercials: Fortunately, by listening to public radio most of the time and working until 11 PM, I’m not exposed to much commercial television. This was a great blessing during the recent congressional elections. It’s also a boon every Christmas holiday season.

3) Christmas Muzak: Don’t get me wrong, I like a little Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby or Peggy Lee…to a degree. But to hear them continually pumped from the day after Hallowe’en until Christmas is more than any sane human can tolerate. About the only thing worse are the champagne commercials between Christmas and the New Year. [See 2, above]

4) Holiday decorations: Even in my small apartment complex (maybe 60 or 70 units) there is this infernal competition! In the summer, it’s gardening. In the Christmas season, it’s decorations! There is a lawn to one apartment which I’m amazed hasn’t caught on fire due to the wiring.

Every year I’ve been here, it’s gotten worse. The McMansion communities have incubated their evil offspring and it’s now infested my little community! Anybody have a recipe for a good, organic pest control agent?

I dunno. Maybe it’s just me, getting older. I justlong for the “old days” which seemed like such simpler and happier times. Back when we cared less about impressing the neighbors and more about helping them, caring for each other. Do I really remember a time when things were better, when there was less tension and more peace or is it just a figment of my imagination or the yearning regrets of a woman who’s becoming more familiar and comfortable with the concept of her own demise?

While you’re out shopping for the holidays, consider doing an old broad a favor? Be kind to other people. Let someone out into traffic. Don’t rush to clog up the intersection. Choose not to flip off the idiot behind you who beeped. Go ahead…be that daring! It’s Christmas, for Christ’s sake!

You can flip him off again on January 2nd.

I read this in my Philadelphia Inquirer this morning but had read it earlier on Sexuality and Religion Turns out the article being referenced was originally from yesterday’s Washington Post. Here is the article, in its entirety

House to Consider Abortion Anesthesia Bill
Conservatives Vow More Tests for Democrats on Social Issues When Congress Returns

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 5, 2006; Page A05

In a parting gesture by social conservatives before Republicans relinquish control, House leaders plan to bring up a bill tomorrow that would declare that fetuses feel pain and require abortion providers to offer pregnant patients anesthesia for their unborn child.

The scheduled vote may be the last on abortion-related legislation for years. That’s because Democratic leaders hope to avoid confrontations over hot-button social issues that divide their caucus, and focus instead on military and pocketbook issues.

But Republicans and antiabortion activists signaled yesterday that they intend to press hard on social issues, even those that failed to gain traction during GOP control, to separate moderate-to-conservative Democrats from their more liberal leaders.

“The Democrats are facing an interesting situation because they ran to the right in this election,” said Wendy Wright, president of the conservative group Concerned Women for America. “They promised one thing to America with their campaigning. The question is, will they live up to that image? Running and hiding is not a solution.”

Democrats are shying from the fight. Party leaders in the House have declared tomorrow’s decision “a vote of conscience” and will not try to sway the outcome. House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) does not plan to speak on the bill, a rarity for her.

The fetal pain bill is coming up nearly as an afterthought, in the final week of a lame-duck session of Congress. House Republican leaders are using expedited procedures to bring it to a vote, meaning it will take a two-thirds vote of the chamber to pass. Its supporters are setting expectations low.

“Hopefully, we get a majority,” said Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), the bill’s author. “Two-thirds is hard on anything, except if it’s a post office.”

Even if the bill can muster a two-thirds vote, it cannot pass the Senate before Congress adjourns.

But social conservatives see an opportunity to test Democrats’ evolving position on abortion, a position that has become more amenable to incremental curbs on ending pregnancies and more vocal about reducing the number of abortions. Under Republican control, Congress passed a ban on the late-term abortion method called “partial birth” abortion by its foes and passed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which increased penalties for crimes that harm a fetus.

At first blush, the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act would seem to be anathema to abortion rights groups. It requires abortion providers to tell a woman whose pregnacy is 20 weeks past fertilization “there is substantial evidence” that the fetus will feel pain during the procedure — a point hotly debated among physicians and pain specialists.

The woman would then have to sign a form accepting or declining anesthesia for her fetus. Some medical groups interpret the language to mean that the fetus would have to have an application of anesthesia separate from the mother’s, a procedure that many abortion clinics are not capable of providing.

Even the bill’s definition of pregnancy — beginning at the moment of fertilization, rather than at implantation in the uterus — is problematic to some abortion rights groups, since it would legislatively establish that some forms of birth control induce abortion by blocking implantation after fertilization.

Backers of the bill have framed it as a common-sense extension of existing state laws that mandate that patients receive information about abortion procedures before giving their consent.

“This is just a compassion piece of legislation to take informed consent to the level it should be at,” said Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), an obstetrician and antiabortion conservative.

While the measure has provoked strong opposition from Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation, NARAL Pro-Choice America, perhaps the nation’s leading abortion rights group, has stayed neutral.

“Pro-choice Americans have always believed that women deserve access to all the information relevant to their reproductive health decisions. For some women, that includes information related to fetal anesthesia options,” Nancy Keenan, NARAL’s president, has said in a statement on the bill.

Democratic leaders cited NARAL’s position when they decided against trying to influence the vote. Democratic leadership aides said yesterday that they are leery of Republicans charging that they are already out of touch with mainstream values, even before they assume power.

Citing those divisions, the National Right to Life Committee’s Douglas Johnson dared Democrats to vote against the bill. If it passes the House, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) will try to pass it in the Senate by a unanimous voice vote.

“Somebody will object,” Johnson said. “We want to know who that person is.”

As Rev. Haffner rightly points out, scientists do not know at what point fetuses are capable of perceiving pain but evidence suggests it’s not until the third trimester.

The problem? Well according to a review article by the American Medical Association, “Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester,” and there is “little or no evidence” of the effectiveness of fetal anesthesia and “limited or no data” on the safety of administering it.

Why am I still surprised that Republicans in Congress continue to press bills about highly devisive social issues simply because they can? Why does it still shock me that these ideologues push for what has clearly been voiced by the American public as a failed agenda in order to score points with a radically far right base? This is beside the fact that it’s absolutely pointless. Even if control of Congress were not passing into Democratic leadership next month, this bill stands far less than a snowball’s chance in hell of passage. It’s being proposed purely to make a point.

Have we not made it clear that we’ve had enough of this? Apparently not in the mind of Christopher Smith of NJ, sponsor of the bill.

2007 can’t come too soon for me!

There are crickets chirping in the balmy, 62 degree breeze in suburban Philadelphia at 2 AM on December 1st. Only 23 shopping days left, peeps…

Before that she bitched about: