No Ordinary Princess

...anything but ordinary...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Back with Baby Pics!

I got to spend the weekend in Pittsburgh with my son and his family this weekend. The baby is beautiful and learning so much. Six months old, sitting up, smiling and laughing, eating some solids and soaking it all in!

And did I mention he's beautiful?

tags: family / grandboy / life

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Week and a Half to Go

Remember what George W. Bush has wrought in America with the aid of a Republican House and Senate:
  • Isolation of the United States from most major democracies on the planet.
  • An unjustified war in which we have lost nearly 3,000 US military personnel.
  • Prisoners held with no right to appeal the validity of their imprisonment.
  • Secretly listening in on the conversations of American citizens, without approval of the judiciary.
  • State-sponsored illegal imprisonment and torture.
  • A constant state of fear permeating our country.
  • A rising disparity between the very rich and very poor and thw whittling away of the middle class in America.
  • Relaxation of environmental laws to benefit corporate interests.
  • The complete inability to effectively attend to the needs of US citizens following one of the worst natural disasters in US history, arguably the most devastating in 100 years.
  • A total lack of diplomacy with nations with which we disagree and a stubbornly dangerous attitude toward potential emerging nuclear powers.
  • A 700 mile wall. Actually, the wall will never be built as legislated...there was no money allocated for its construction. It's a political ploy to bolster Republican candidates in the southwest by, once again, playing on Americans' fears.
  • A stronger, more widespread jihadist movement across the world which means, ultimately, more danger of terrorist attacks on US soil ro against our citizens.
  • Not one but two presidential elections "won" under the most suspicious circumstances. Now they want us to entrust our votes to computerized voting machines that will be ridiculously easy to alter, with no paper ballot trail for verification.
  • The erosion of a woman's right to choose what happens inside her own body which will lead, ultimately, to further erosion of women's rights in this country.
  • A total lack of recognition that we need to take care of each other, completely ignoring the Christian tenet that the powerful among us must care for those less fortunate. Is this the America we really want?
  • The list goes on and on...
We can make a difference. We can turn America back into the nation we want it to be and the first step is to restore some balance to our government.

Vote November 7th and vote Democratic.

tags: Bush / morality / US politics

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Olbermann Special Comment: Bush on Terror

Is it any wonder I love this man? He says everything I have spent the last several hours / days / weeks thinking, and in a much more succinct manner. And, oh, that enunciation!

The real terrorists here, people are our current president and his crew. If, legally, we cannot remove the incompetent megalomaniac from office for over two more years, our only alternative is to create a roadblock for any more of Bush's "progress" in the form of a Democratic majority congress...House and Senate.

Go vote on November 7th. And when you do, think about how you feel. Have the last six years increased your confidence that your grandchildren will live in a world free of the fallout of a nuclear holocaust? Are you more or less certain your grandchildren will be alive at all in ten, twenty, thirty years? If we avoid the near complete destruction of the planet, whose bills will those grandchildren be working so hard to pay off? Their own? Ours? Or will it be the debt of the wealthy corporate executives in the cloistered, sometimes gated, communities in the rich sections of your town?

This president is raping our constitution, compromising our security and endebting generations of Americans to children, grandchildren, etc., etc. Someone has got to bring some balance back into our government. The best choice for that task, flawed as they may be, are the Democratic congressional candidates.

Please care. Please vote.

tags: Bush / failure / national security / Keith Olbermann / terrorism / US politics / "war on terror"

Afterthought: You'll note that I've included the word "failure" in my tags. That term is meant to represent the current president of the United States. However, "failure" is a relative term. George W. Bush is a failure only if what he intended to deliver to the American people were unity, security, prosperity, justice, respect and decent foreign relations. If his intention included the seizure of as much power as he and his friends and allies could, disruption of international relationships on all fronts, near-complete isolation of the United States, increased risk of terrorism threats and attacks, lucrative contracts and expanded portfolios for America's wealthy citizens, the disenfranchisement of the poor in the US, grossly widening economic disparity in America and the whittling away of the very freedoms our forebears fought and died for over two centuries then I guess we'd have to concede he has been a rousing success.


Friday, October 20, 2006

I am *SO* Glad I Don't Watch TV

...especially in October and November.

And yet...

...look at all the fun I'm missing!

I love the crescendo of ticking bomb sound effects!

You can go to Tennessee Guerilla Women to see the Democratic response. Egalia links to Volunteer Voters for the video I've posted. Of course Bush doesn't want to catch or kill him...then he'll have no handy boogeyman in the closet to terrorize us with!

Nope. Can't do it. My blood pressure won't take it if I start watching this shit on tv. Hell, I haven't even been able to make it through a state of the Union address for the past six years. Better for me to stick to NPR until November 8th.

Do you believe we've been made safer as a nation since January 20, 2001?

Y'all go out and vote now, y'hear?

tags: bullshit / Bush / Democrats / midterm elections / Republicans / US politics / "war on terror"

Keith Olbermann, October 18, 2006

I found mention of this on Echidne and, through her, a video and transcript at Crooks and Liars (here).

This is why I love Keith Olbermann. He's saying what every one of us should be screaming from behind our protest signs on the mall in DC, or on the White House gates.

We have sold out our freedoms. The "terrorists" are now among us.

tags: Bush / civil liberties / habeus corpus / human rights / torture / US politics / "war on terror" / world politics

Thursday, October 19, 2006

My Changing View on Iraq

As much as I've never held with virtually any of the views of George W. Bush, I am disturbed by a news item I'm listening to on Day to Day on NPR. At least 100 people were killed by suicide bombers in Iraq in the past 24 hours. 100 people in 24 hours. Do we remember that the people who live in Iraq are people? They are as human as you and me. And 100 of them that were alive yesterday are dead today.

As much as I abhored our invasion of Iraq, as distressed as I was about the loss of life of civillians and our military personnel there, I still believed in 2004 that we needed to remain in place and try to set the state to order before our withdrawal. Now I'm not so sure. We are obviously making things worse with our continued presence. The Iraqi people clearly want us to withdraw. Maybe it's time to do just that.

I realize the country will probably dissolve into civil war but then, perhaps, the international community will be mobilized to help restore order and implement some sort of functioning government. I don't know. I'm no politician or wise pundit. I'm just an ER nurse who is tired of hearing about people dying...our men and women as well as Iraqi citizens.

It just seems to me that something has to give and soon.

tags: Iraq war / US politics / world politics

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Internet Freedom

I found today thanks to Alternet. My Alternet Mix e-mail this morning included an article by Bill Moyers and Scott Fogdall, who is not identified further in the blurb at the bottom of the article. He might be this person, via my Google search. If that's him, he writes some mighty fine kid's poems!

Anyway, Alternet led me to the source of the article, I love their banner...

Is "|mon sense" a great tag line or what? They'll be going in my sidebar.

The article is about the net neutrality legislation. I'll confess I don't understand it all that well. My take on it is that corporations in the US want to allow for a two-tier system for internet access...high falootin', high paying customers (read: businesses and wealthy individuals) will have access to a speedier internet. The rest of us, the slugs who've made the internet the place it is today, the individuals, we poor bloggers, will have lesser, slower access to the internet...unless we're willing to fork over the big bucks.

The way I see it, it's no different than the NYT making you pay for their premium subscription in order to access certain articles or columnists or to access their archives.

Sounds like bullshit to me.

The Internet of Tomorrow

If it ain't broken, don't fix it. What better way to stifle dissent in America than to limit access to the internet to the masses? Or is that the point? Although I've never fully grasped the threat, I've proudly worn buttons for the Electronic Freedom Foundation and others on my blogs in the past. I have a "Save the Net" badge, which is where I found that nifty video, here on NOP. It's important we remain free to exchange our ideas openly, without regulation and without having to pay extra for the privilege.

I hope you enjoy and support a free and open internet for all.

(Don't you know by now you can click many of my pictures to get somewhere interesting or, minimally, related?)

tags: blogging / internet / net neutrality / US politics

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Philly Area Congressional Races

As you may know, I've been closely watching the House and Senate races across the country with particular interest in the Philadelphia area. I regularly check on the most recent polls via I also heard today that Slate has a political barometer called the Election Scorecard which reflects the poll results for the midterm races. If you follow Tennessee Guerilla Women at all you'll know how key and close the Senate races in Tennessee and Virginia are. Yes, I'm partisan. I'm not paid for this so I get to say whatever I like.

You'll get to play around at those sites before me because I have only 15 minutes now before I have to get in the shower for work.

Here are yesterday's results from on key House races in my area:

Dist...Democrat... Republican.. Date Length ......Poll by
PA-06 Lois Murphy Jim Gerlach* Oct 10 3 52% 46% RT Strategies
PA-06 Lois Murphy Jim Gerlach* Oct 02 8 43% 41% Zogby
PA-06 Lois Murphy Jim Gerlach* Sep 25 5 41% 44% Keystone Poll
PA-06 Lois Murphy Jim Gerlach* Aug 29 3 50% 45% RT Strategies
PA-06 49% 51% 2004 Election
Dist....Democrat.....Republican.. Date Length .......Poll by
PA-07 Joseph Sestak Curt Weldon* Oct 10 3 52% 44% RT Strategies
PA-07 Joseph Sestak Curt Weldon* Sep 27 6 45% 44% Keystone Poll
PA-07 40% 59% 2004 Election
Dist...Democrat........Republican.. ..Date Length .........Poll by
PA-08 Patrick Murphy Mike Fitzpatrick* Aug 29 3 45% 53% RT Strategies
PA-08 43% 55% 2004 Election
* = incumbent

In today's Philadelphia Inquirer, the headline story was that of the FBI probe into possible improprieties by Curt Weldon, the ten-term Republican Congressman from a heavily Republican township in Delaware County. It'll be interesting to see what the next poll shows for the seventh district with these new allegations of ethics violations against Weldon. Of course, he's painting it as a Democratic smear campaign and "dirty, partisan politics at its absolute worst.

Yeah...and Nancy Pelosi was responsible for leaking the Foley e-mails and IM conversations last month, too. Can't they just accept that their chickens are coming home to roost.

I have a feeling it's going to be a whole new world come November 8th.

I've got more to post but duty calls, again. I might expand this post after work.

Happy Tuesday!

tags: political scandal / Republicans / Joe Sestak / US politics / Curt Weldon

Monday, October 16, 2006

Boy, 3, finds gun, kills self

This was an article I read in my Philly Inquirer this morning. It details the death of a Philadelphia toddler over the weekend when he had access to the loaded gun of his mother's boyfriend.

Here is the article in its entirety. It's fairly small, like the victim:

Boy, 3, finds gun, kills self

By Joel Bewley
Inquirer Staff Writer

Residents of West Raymond Street rushed outside yesterday afternoon after hearing a single gunshot. But the one-way street in the city's Feltonville section was quiet, until LaWanda Bailey burst out of her boyfriend's rowhouse onto the porch.

"My baby's dead, my baby's dead," she screamed in anguish. "He shot himself."

Moments earlier, Tylib Bailey-Hankerson, 3, better known as TaTa, had picked up a .45-caliber Glock handgun he found in the bedroom and pointed it at his head before squeezing the trigger, city police said.

"He was lovable, fun - anything good you could name, he was," sobbed Courtney Fleet, 17, a good friend of Bailey, 27. "Why would you have a loaded gun in the house with kids around?"

Police said the boyfriend, who was not identified, legally owned the gun. The shooting is believed to have been accidental, but the investigation is continuing and the prosecutor's office will determine whether any charges are filed, said homicide detectives, who took Bailey and her boyfriend downtown to be questioned.

Neighbors said the boyfriend lived at the house in the 400 block of Raymond Street with his young son and daughter.

Bailey and her two sons lived across the street, said neighbors, who feared the worst when they saw medics carrying the toddler into the ambulance.

"He was wrapped in a blanket, but I could see the wound," Bonnie DeVine said. "It didn't look too good."

The call to police was made just before 1 p.m. TaTa was pronounced dead at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children about a half hour later.

Four people were in the house at the time of the shooting, police said: TaTa, his older brother, 9; his mother; and the mother's boyfriend, police said.

The gun was in the bedroom on a piece of furniture next to the bed, Capt. Ray Convery said. Depending on the model, a .45-caliber Glock semiautomatic handgun can weigh nearly two pounds when fully loaded.

The older brother saw his sibling pull the trigger, said Fleet, who said she talked to him after the shooting.

"He was really upset," she said. "He's not doing too well."

Fleet was the first to talk to Bailey after she came out of the house.

"She said TaTa had shot himself in the face," Fleet said. "He was such a beautiful kid. This just doesn't make sense."

The paragraph which caught my eye most was this one:
"The shooting is believed to have been accidental, but the investigation is continuing and the prosecutor's office will determine whether any charges are filed, said homicide detectives, who took Bailey and her boyfriend downtown to be questioned."
Why is it that there are not charges filed? How many children will die before we get some sensible legislation about guns. How about we start with this one...gun owners have a legal obligation to, when there are children in the house, either have the gun locked up or have child safety features on the weapon and engaged whenever children are in the home.

We legislate all sorts of other "common sense" safety belts, motorcycle helmets (in some states), bike helmet use by youngsters, "wipers on / headlights on." Why shouldn't we create a rule to make adult gun owners responsible to make sure any children who could possibly come across a gun in the home be unable to gain access to or fire the weapon.

How many more toddlers and kids have to be killed in this way before there is some sensible behavior? And if we can't get that behavior voluntarily, then let's make it the law. Or is it not so important if the majority of kids being killed this way are poor people of color in downtrodden cities? You've got to wonder...

tags: children / gun accidents / gun control / guns / gun safety

Saturday, October 14, 2006

America Stepping into Fascism

There's a fascinating article on AlterNet today about the rise in American fascism. The author, Stan Goff, presents arguments that many of the precursors for former fascist regimes are nicely falling into place right now in the good ol' US of A! Goff has also contributed at Truthdig.

I know it's nothing we didn't know already but it's a well-written and documented piece and worth your time, if you have an interest in such things. I warn you, it's long, but I exhort you to read it to the end. It's worth it.

tags: America / Bush administration / facsism / neoconservatism / US politics / world politics

(I stole this cartoon from one Greg Spence Wolf. I hope he doesn't mind.)


I feel almost as if I'm becoming a doomsday writer. I was too young to remember much of the Cuban Missle Crisis of 1962 and didn't pay attention through much of the Cold War so this is my first, real brush with the potential annhiliation of the entire human race and most other mammals on earth.

I've read several things recently about Evangelicals who stridently believe we are heading into, or striving to usher us into, Armageddon.

[subliminal message]
"Click the pic! Click the pic!" [/subliminal message]

It's scaring the shit out of me.

We seem to be careening down this path which ends abruptly, permanently and inevitably at the intersection Religious Fervor Avenue and Fanatical Nationalism Boulevard.

Alternet's Jesus at the Movies by Sarah Posner was the port of departure for tonight's flight of fancy. It landed at Lobbying for Armageddon, also from Ms. Posner. The focus of the Armageddon article is one John Hagee, a televangelist and pastor of an 18,000 member megachurch in San Antonio, the Cornerstone Church. Pastor Hagee seems to feel that current world events are the forerunners of the great apocalypse foretold by the Biblical prophets, and he's working toward what he sees as scriptual fulfillment. Sarah Posner also wrote more extensively about Hagee at the American Prospect.

So, "fundamentalist" preachers are screaming from their pulpits for a preemptive military confrontation with Iran in order to pave the way for the return of Jesus. American children are being indoctrinated in being, literally, soldiers for Christ. And the American president may or may not be an adherent of an "end times" ideology.

Is it any wonder I'm concerned?

(Top photo pilfered, with impunity, from AlterNet.)

tags: Armageddon / Bush / Christianity / Christian Zionism / "end times" / fundamentalism / Israel / Middle East / religion / US politics / war / world politics / Zionism

Keith Olbermann

Tempting Faith, Part One:

Tempting Faith, Part Two:

Tempting Faith, Part Three:

Keith Olbermann Slams Rumsfeld:

Olbermann on the Military Commissions Act:
(Military Commissions Act on Wikipedia)

Olbermann on Colbert:

Olbermann on 9/11:

Olbermann takes Bill Clinton's challenge to document Bush efforts to prevent the events of 9/11/2001:

I think I'm in love with this man.

tags: Bush / Countdown / Keith Olbermann / US Politics

Friday, October 13, 2006

TGW Does it Again

The picture is what did it:

I've labeled it "Liberty Loves Justice," though it gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, no?

The pic is part of a post about the rise in same-sex households documented in the latest census data (2005). The article Egalia referenced is from ABC News.

I have no idea where the picture came from but it might just have to become my new profile pic!

Go read the article and show the Tennessee Guerilla Women you care.

tags: GLBT / homophobia / sexual orientation / US politics

Thursday, October 12, 2006

George W. Bush

Hear this, Mr. President!

This is what the American people **don't want** and what we **do want**:

The American people **don't want** to be led into a war with Iran.

The American people **do want** the rhetoric with Iran to stop.

The American people **do want** our diplomats and State Department officials to commit to bilateral talks with North Korea.

The American people **do want**
negotiations with Iran to resume to lay to rest any thought of nuclear weapons and their use.

The American people **don't want** to die as a result of a nuclear holocaust.

The American people **do want** our government to enter into fully cooperative partnerships with our allies around the world, including all members of the European Union.

The American people **do want** good relationships and mutual cooperation between the US and all other countries of the world.

The American people **do want** the destruction of all nuclear weapons on earth, achieved through negotiation and skillful diplomacy.

The American people **do want** to abide by all provisions of all treaties, conventions and international law.

The American people **don't want**, by and large, the US to become an island unto herself.

The American People **do want** to be members of a global community.

In case that was a little difficult to decipher, here is a simpler version:

Stop talkin' trash.
Talkin' to that Kim fella "man-to-man."
Talkin' to Iran.
Playin' nice with our friends.
Playin' nice with the rest of the world.
Gettin' rid of all the nucular weapons.
Honorin' our contracts and obeyin' the law, even international law.
Bein' good neighbors to all.

Talkin' trash about Iran.
Talkin' trash about North Korea.
Talkin' trash about anybody else, too.
Fightin' Iran.
Fightin' North Korea.
Fightin' anybody else.
Dyin' in a nucular winter...we really don't want that one, Sir.
Isolationism. Isolationism is bad.

(Mr. President, you could cut that out, laminate it and keep it in your wallet for handy future reference!)

Blowin' us all to Kingdom come, Sir, is a really, really bad idea.

Gettin' rid of all the nukes on earth...priceless!


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Pick your Antichrist

As it often does, this all started at Tennessee Guerilla Women. Egalia has a great post over there about the hyporcisy of the current US position with respect to North Korea...and a great cartoon about it, too. You'll have to go visit to find out more about it.

Of course, all this talk about North Korea got me thinking about Iran. That's when I remembered an article I'd seen mentioned in my AlterNet news e-mail. I'm in the process of reading that article on AlterNet now. It's about the fact that some of the members of the religious right believe that war with Iran is preordained and a fulfilment of Biblical prophecy. Don't we all wonder if our "commander-in-chief" is one of them?

You are reading a woman who once tried to believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible...from Exodus to Revelation. I studied the Bible, read it daily, listened to Bible education programs on the radio including Jimmy Swaggart, sent away for Bible study courses by mail. I dallied with fundamentalist Christianity for about six years in the late 70's and early 80's.

Somehow, though, too much of it just never sat right with me and that's aside from the polar opposition of my poplitical views to the views of most "Bible-based, fundamental, evangelical" churches, even back then. I never could reconcile that the earth was created in seven literal, "earth" days. It didn't jibe with that other great love of I once served two Gods, my Christian beliefs and value system and nature. I guess I've chosen nature over what passes for Christianity today. In the process I've determined that the Bible is poetry and politics and, to some degree advertising and hyperbole and is not intended to be literally translated.

But, due to my Christian background, I have a first-hand understanding of the perspective of a fundamental Christian. It's entirely possible there are large groups of people out there who feel that war with a particular country, especially one in "the east," is the predestined and prophesied precursor of Armageddon. There are, very likely, throngs who fully believe they are living in "the end times." Just look at the sales of the Left Behind series. Millions of people are scaring the shit out of themselves just as I used to do reading Daniel and the other prophets. And Revelation. Read it sometime if you never have. I think the King James Version

is much better than any of the modern texts.

It's entirely possible, therefore, that George W. Bush is one of those people.

Which brings me to an interesting thought. If Bush is an adherent of Biblical prophecy and a literal interpretation of the Bible, maybe that's what it's all been about for him. I mean, I've always understood Cheney's interest in going into's, ultimately, all about the bottom line with Dick, with a little power-tripping thrown in for fun. But why did Bush want so desperately to get into Iraq? I don't believe he's smart enough to be doing it for any monetary motivation. So, why?

If he really did experience a Christian conversion, and I have reason to believe he did, he may well be stuck in that mindset that the Bible is the literal word of God and must be read and followed literally. That means the prophecies will eventually come to pass as written. He could very well believe that Ahmadinejad is the Antichrist foretold in Revelation. This man, who is in the position of the "most powerful man on earth" could be someone who actually believes he is destined to usher in the second coming of Christ. And he sits at a desk where a most interesting button is situated.

So was that the motivation Bush felt for his invasion of Iraq? It's at least as plausible as the "weapons of mass destruction" argument and holds a lot more water than the Al Qaeda connection story. Was his entre into Iraq meant to set the stage for an eventual excursion into its neighbor, all for the purpose of ushering in the coming of the Lord?

Who knows...maybe all those years of Bible study weren't entirely fruitless. Maybe I am living in the end times and will see the return of the Christ.

Or maybe he is just deranged.

(I brazenly pilfered the photo above from AlterNet.)

tags: Bush / Iran / Iraq / mental illness / North Korea / nuclear arms / US politics / world politics

Decency in America

Good interview today on AlterNet with Frederick S. Lane, author of The Decency Wars: The Campaign to Cleanse American Culture. Fascinating stuff, really.

It can't be denied that America in the last 30-40 years, and particularly in the last 20, has shifted dramatically to a much more fundamental and puritanical view of "decency," read: anything having to do with sex, sexual choices, sexual freedom or enjoying sex as you wish is immoral. Mr. Lane discusses this and the imperative for a social decency which involves inclusion and acceptance.

Hear! Hear!

Lane comments on the impact of the Mark Foley Congressional page scandal and how the war in Iraq relates to the concept of "decency."

For me, decency involves helping other people, providing for the common good, providing for those who cannot provide for themselves, economic, social and legal justice, acceptance of all people regardless of their race, religion, nationality, gender, etc.

Decency does not involve forcing our political agenda on other sovereign nations, denying appropriate health care aid for a continent struggling to survive AIDS, refusing to bolster the nation's minimum wage unless there's a rider attached eliminating taxes for dead rich people.

For me, it's a no-brainer. There is decency which insists everyone must be decent in the same way and to the same degree and there is decency which allows adult humans to make their own choices and supports them in the life they choose as right for them as long as no one else gets hurt in the process. Which America would you rather live in?

Visit Alternet for more great stuff about America and her culture. The interview was conducted by Celina R. De Leon who is a contributing writer for WireTap magazine, and Interviews editor at, another great place to visit.

tags: American culture / Christian fundamentalism / Christianity / decency / morality / sex / US politics / values

Monday, October 09, 2006

Terry Gross on Ex-Gays

Philly's own Terry Gross (Isn't she cute???) aired an episode of Fresh Air today featuring pros and cons of Christian ex-gay ministries in the US.

"Pro" on the program was Alan Chambers, president of the ex-gay ministry, Exodus. (Link to the Alan Chambers interview.) (An interesting side note is that Alan Chambers' blog has primarily been active only during the months of September and October for the past three years. Hmmm...)

The "con" was provided by
Shawn O'Donnell, who spent eleven years in Exodus before he decided to leave and live his life as a gay man. (Link to the Shawn O'Donnell interview.) (I found a Blogger blog for Shawn O'Donnell, though it has no activity since early August. Another Google bit led me to an AOL Hometown page for him. And here's something interesting about his photo continuing to be used, against his wishes, in an Exodus advertising photo.)

Also featurerd was Tanya Erzen, author of a book entitled, "Straight to Jesus: Sexual and Christian Conversions in the Ex-Gay Movement." (Link to the Tanya Erzen interview.) The book highlights an organization in the San Francisco Bay area called New Hope Ministry, a resedential program for Christian men struggling with homosexuality.

I try not to struggle with my homo- or bi-sexuality or whatever the hell you want to call it unless, of course, my partner asks me...realll nice-like. ; )

Of course, as a lesbian, I do not agree with the stated purposes or goals of ex-gay ministries, or with their practices. I also happen to disagree with the programs as a Christian. Each person must live his own life and, although I would love nothing more for everyone in the world to live their lives according to principles which I perceive as Christ-like, that's not for me to decide. Forcing my spirituality upon another is in direct opposition to my beliefs and I don't feel is reflective as a true Christian spirit.

Which leads us to my recurring lament...why can't we all just live as we wish and let others do the same as long as nobody gets hurt and everybody is of legal age? Live and let live. Turn the other cheek.
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Gracias to Ex-Gay Watch for so many great leads on this one.

Interesting post just came up on Ex-Gay Watch about Alan Chambers' interview on Fresh Air. Thanks again!

tags: Christianity / ex-gay / Exodus / religion / self-awareness / sexuality / sexual orientation / spirituality

Saturday, October 07, 2006

This Disturbs Me

I've only just gotten to e-mail and such. I toodled around the house a bit when I got home. I heated a bowl of my hamburg-noodle stew, which was yummy. It's funny how much I am a person of rituals. I always eat my HNS in a bowl and with a spoon, not a fork. Not only that but, although I use a teaspoon for everything from cereal to ice cream to tea, I use a tablespoon for soups and stews. Always. Rituals apparently soothe me. I had a great, egg-yolky Italian bread with butter along with the stew. I feel great now.

After I, once again, reset my wireless router, I settled in on the couch with a perfectly filled belly and my laptop and opened up AOL. I know, I know...AOL. But it's where I sprung from and I just can't give it up. I have been the ORIGINAL MadMom there for-fucking-ever. And now it's free. : ) I sometimes read the news on AOL and was naturally intrigued by a teaser like, I paraphrase, "Scientists Open Exclusive Club, see what's special about the 76 members." So I opened the article to find out what it was all about.

A group of researchers in Pittsburgh has determined that there are currently 76 people on earth who can document the fact that they are over 110 years of age. There may be around 300 people over 110 in the world but only these 76 can produce the documentation. I read on about the foundation, the Supercentenarian Research Foundation, expecting to see mention of the University of Pittsburgh or any of the other great colleges and universities in P-bgh, including the one at which my son is a grad student. No mention, all the way through.

I suppose this is a fully private research foundation. What that says to me is this is a money-making proposition. These folks aren't in it so much for the science or the benefit of the elderly or of humanity. They're in it to feed on the fear of death (and, subsequently, aging) our culture foments and cash in on the secrets found in the tissues of the very old. It's sick.

What is this with our obsession with youth and immortality? Why can't we accept death as a natural part of life? It's no different than any other cycle except that we don't have any reference for it. That's all. There's no one who's done it ahead of us to say, "It'll be okay. It's a good thing. It is painless. It is joyful. Don't be afraid." So, because there's no one to bear witness, we shrink in fear of the unknown? What cowards.

Death is nothing more than another passage, another life process. Like menstruation and breast development. Like scrotal and underarm hair growth. Like sex and childbirth. Like wrinkles and sagging skin. Like surviving an illness. There is nothing any more magical about death than there is about going bald. It's only the fear of confronting whatever is beyond that door that leads to so much fear and anxiety about death.

For me, it doesn't matter what lies beyond this life. You might find that strange coming from someone who's talked about having lived the life of a fundamentalist Christian wife and who talks about still carrying God around with her. But as much as I love God, I can't claim to have any verifiable knowledge of precisely what God is. Nobody does. All we have is our belief and faith.

Whatever happens to me after I die, I trust that it will be pleasant or, at least, non-sentient. I will either be in a place where it's still possible for me to sense things around me, understand happenings, take things in and process them or there will be utter non-existence. I cannot say in which direction the God lies. I hope it will be the sentient path I'll someday take because I've come to love my senses and would like nothing more than to spend eternity continuing to appreciate them. But if God is in a silent place of non-existence, well, so be it.

So I don't fear death. And because I don't fear death, I do not fear aging to the same extent. I've written before about becoming middle-aged. I really feel I am middle-aged now because I have a belief, somehow, that I will live into my nineties. My grandfather was 92. My great-grandmother was 97 or 99, I can't remember. I think that, genetically, I am most like them (physique, lack of major health problems, etc.). Unless I get hit by a car crossing the street tomorrow, I think I stand a slightly better than average chance to live to be over 90. I hope so because I think my mother's going to live to be 124 just to torment me.

If I live to be 90 or 100 or 110, I only hope I am able to have some quality to my life...that I can smell aromas, hear music, taste food, feel cool water go down my throat or warm lotion on my skin. I hope that I'm able to read or, at least, to understand when someone reads to me. And I hope that I will always, as graciously as possible, be able to accept the natural changes my body goes through along the way. For me, that's far more important than longevity.

My wish for the world, aside for the peaceful resolution to all conflict, is that we can all learn to love all the stages of life and move gracefully through them with acceptance. I hope we can learn to allow our wonderful bodies to age as they naturally do and recognize the beauty in each and every stage. And that we can learn to cherish and revere the magic of aging and the beauty and wisdom of the elderly, that we could stop being so afraid of death.

Did I learn to be accepting of age and death because of my experiences as a nurse or did I gravitate toward nursing because I have a natural, innate appreciation for all the stages of life? I don't know.

tags: aging / death / life / middle-age

I Am Sick and Fucking Tired

I'm moving to Canada. Really. Or some little sliver of land in a vast ocean somewhere. Anybody got an island up for sale in the $250,000 US range?

The cause of my rage tonight? Wal Mart.

I went to the grocery store this evening. The rain was stopping and the sun had just set when I came out, $130 US poorer but rich in cheese, crackers, fruits and veggies, cereal, TP. You know, the staples of life. It seems such a small thing but, when you've been in the pits, as I have been for the past few months, even grocery shopping has a certain allure. Just making it to the store is an accomplishment. Finding the motivation to actually go grocery shopping is a refreshing change of pace around here.

Sorry I was away so long. I spent a couple of hours unpacking the groceries and making a "hamburg-noodle stew." My mom made hamburg-noodle stew when I was a kid and it was one of my favorite things on earth (nothing more than peppers, onions, ground beef, tomatoes egg noodles and spices. I decided to put a packet of Sazon in, which is used in Puerto Rican cooking and includes saffron. It has a very distinctive flavor. When I first smelled my concoction, I thought I had made a grave mistake but, now that the seasoning has soaked into the beef and noodles, there is just a hint of Sazon left. It really is very tasty. It felt good to chop and sautee veggies again and cook something.

Anyway, I got home and checked e-mail and such and found a Paul Krugman article on Tennessee Guerilla Women about "The War Against Wages." I read about the decision the National Labor Relations Board made this week with regard to employees who sometimes function in a supervisory capacity. The case involved nurses.

You see, nurses are put in the position at times of being "in charge" on their unit. This happens especially on off shifts, when management is home in bed. The nurse in charge really has no power beyond his/her 4 or 8 or 12 hours in the role.

All charge means is that you are the person on the floor who will decide which nurse gets the next admission from the ER or which district in the ER will take the next ambulance coming in. It means you are the one who calls the housekeeping supervisor to get the damned bed cleaned up on 8 South so that frigging admission in bay 11 can finally get upstairs. You are the one who's called in to smooth over problems with difficult patients or dissatisfied family members. You are the person who makes sure the code is run as well as you can until the code team gets there. You are the person who tries to come up with solutions for all the petty little problems that can arise during 12 hours in your own, personal hell.

In my experience, hardly anybody really wants to be in charge. I used to enjoy it as an OB nurse because we had such a small staff and unit. It was also always a given that I was charge because I'd been there forfriggingever and nobody else wanted to do it. I enjoyed being in charge in the little ER in Reading where I broke my Emergency Nursing cherry. I grumbled and could be a bitch on wheels when in charge but I did it well, I think. I didn't play those petty power games, I liked the challenge of meeting difficult situations and surmounting them. I liked the creativity and innovation needed to see outside the box to the solution. I am a scientist at heart.

In my last place of employ, I was able to skirt having to be in charge for three whole years. The fear of charge there was another impetus to move on. I did not want to be in charge, not there. Not with all those grumbling old hags and buggers! They were all soooooo miserable there. I let them have their fun with their power-tripping when in charge. I gave them the desired rise in blood pressure and facial coloration. I knew that being in charge there would, eventually, destroy me.

Power corrupts and all that.

But I'd like to, eventually, be in charge at my new ER at THAC*. This is a good group of people. They basically like each other. They get along. They work well together. They don't power-trip. They're not burnt out.

After I've gotten my feet wet, gotten my feel a bit and am not quite so wet behind the ears there, I'd like to try my hand at charge again. "Charge" is not, nor has it ever been, management. At least, not until this week.

The NLRB ruled this week that nurses who regularly supervise others are management and not entitled to union organization. In going to the source (pdf) now, I realize this is not so dreadful for nursing as I have known it on the East Coast of the US. The ruling calls for nurses who are "permanent charge nurses" to be considered management. Well, yes. In those places I've worked where a nurse was always in charge whenever she worked, she was either an Assistant Nurse Manager or a Shift Manager. And they have, in all three hospitals, been considered management.

But, does this mean that because slug nurses like me regularly direct others (Patient Care Assistants, Housekeeping, etc.) to perform tasks are we also considered "management?" If this is the interpretation then every nurse who works in a hospital is management. We all have to point the Environmental Services person into the room where we need to move a patient. We all give the PCA a list of vital signs which need to have taken at midnight. That's called delegation. It's not really us who prescribes the care, we just give direction on how to provide it in a given situation.

Does this mean that every factory worker, few of them as there are now, who directs Environmental to clean up a spill next to the line is now management? How about when he calls maintenance to fix his machine, which is malfunctioning? And every teacher who asks the janitor to clap the erasers when he cleans this afternoon? And every cashier at the grocery store who directs a bagger or cart boy? All management now?

You can see it now...everybody suddenly getting fancy, schmancy new titles...Assistant Managers sprouting like fall alfalfa. 130,000,000 chiefs over 570,000 Indians. Everybody's got a piece of the management pie now. We just don't get health insurance. Oh, and overtime? It's paid at straight time now and it's mandatory. But we've all got shiny, new tin badges. Jes' like deputies.

It's horrific enough, what Bush has done to this once great country of ours. We are probably held in the poorest regard we have ever experienced in the eyes of the rest of the world. We are seen as bullies and hypocrites. The gap between the very wealthy and the very poor is probably nearly as great as in the feudal times in Europe. The corporations are calling all the shots and raking in freight trains of cash in the process.

Now we are going to reduce a large percentage of the workforce to a position of even more powerlessness? What is wrong with this picture? What happened to the government which was truly interested in the wellbeing of the majority of American citizens? What happened to the country that opened her arms to the rest of the world, took them in and made them her own?

Where has my America gone?


The part of the article which pissed me off most was the one about Wal Mart. I looked over at the Wal Mart sign as I pulled out of the grocery store today, the last light of the day fading behind the building and the stark letters cold and white in the gathering dusk. I felt a shiver of revulsion. This was before I read about Wal Mart's most recent stragety to maximize corporate profits:
Wal-Mart already has a well-deserved reputation for paying low wages and offering few benefits to its employees; last year, an internal Wal-Mart memo conceded that 46 percent of its workers’ children were either on Medicaid or lacked health insurance. Nonetheless, the memo expressed concern that wages and benefits were rising, in part “because we pay an associate more in salary and benefits as his or her tenure increases.”

The problem from the company’s point of view, then, is that its workers are too loyal; it wants cheap labor that doesn’t hang around too long, but not enough workers quit before acquiring the right to higher wages and benefits. Among the policy changes the memo suggested to deal with this problem was a shift to hiring more part-time workers, which “will lower Wal-Mart’s health care enrollment.”

And the strategy is being put into effect. “Investment analysts and store managers,” reports The New York Times, “say Wal-Mart executives have told them the company wants to transform its work force to 40 percent part-time from 20 percent.” Another leaked Wal-Mart memo describes a plan to impose wage caps, so that long-term employees won’t get raises. And the company is taking other steps to keep workers from staying too long: in some stores, according to workers, “managers have suddenly barred older employees with back or leg problems from sitting on stools.”

It’s a brutal strategy. Once upon a time a company that treated its workers this badly would have made itself a prime target for union organizers. But Wal-Mart doesn’t have to worry about that, because it knows that these days the people who are supposed to enforce labor laws are on the side of the employers, not the workers.

Hire temps. Hire part-timers. Discourage anyone from remaining until their benefits kick in. Take away stools from old people with bum knees or backs who will now be forced to stand for their entire shift. Does it get any lower than that? Why don't they just go to their damned senior centers, anyway, you ask? Because their pensions all fell through and they can't afford their prescriptions, that's why! Workers, the kind of workers Wal Mart wants, are nothing more than a commodity, like the cans of soup on the shelf. And they have a defined shelf life. And they are as easily disposed of as an outdated gallon of milk.

The almighty dollar finally trumps basic human decency and any sense of fairness in America. I feel sullied and ashamed to say this is my country.

The religious claim there is an afterlife and a hell? Maybe, maybe not...but the corporate culture and their Rightwing pals are creating our own little slice of hell right here on earth.

On a lighter note, I found this interview with Stephen Colbert on the Paul Krugman NYT page. Do they not tell these guests that Colbert is, umm...not serious??? For all his worldliness, Krugman seemed completely non-plussed at times. It was terribly funny...somehow, I thought he'd think on his feet better.

Here's a great site I found to find Colbert and Daily Show clips.


tags: consumerism / corporate culture / economic justice / law / NLRB / nursing / Republicans / unions / US politics / work