A Bowlful of Cherries

Celebrating Matty and Noah

Archive for March 2004

Planning Families

As its international agenda weren’t unpopular enough, the Bush administration further isolates itself from the global community with its positions on family planning and women’s reproductive rights in developing countries.

Increasing population is one of the greatest threats to the global environment. Population growth exacerbates climate change, deforestation, loss of habitat, and water and air pollution around the globe. Providing universal access to family planning and reproductive health care gives families the information and services they need to make responsible choices. When given these choices, women and couples overwhelmingly choose to have smaller, healthier families.

The U.S. government claims it is committed to providing family-planning services. It says it refuses to reaffirm the findings of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) simply because the document can be interpreted as promoting abortion — even though the ICPD Program of Action clearly states (section 7.24), “In no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning.”

To appease its socially conservative political base at home, the administration has proposed language in international agreements that stresses abstinence over contraception — language opposed by an overwhelming majority of other countries and NGOs. A recent report by the Guttmacher Institute, an international reproductive-rights organization, found that unmet contraceptive needs in developing countries are responsible for 52 million unwanted pregnancies each year, resulting in 1.5 million maternal deaths and more than 500,000 motherless children.

Written by Michael

31 Mar 2004 at 1002am

Posted in Misc.

Khalil Gibran

On children:

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, “Speak to us of Children.”
And he said:
Your children are not your children.s
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itelf.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

“The whole Prophet is saying one thing: ‘You are far far greater than you know — and all is well.'”

Gibran’s best-known work is The Prophet, a partly autobiographical book of poetic essays. The Prophet, who was living away from home, is about to board a ship that will take him back. He is stopped by a group of people, whom he teaches about children, marriage, death, and other constants of life. The sermons are meant to emancipate the listeners.

In the 1960s, The Prophet became a counterculture guide, and in the 1980s, the message of spiritualism overcoming material success was adopted by yuppies. This mystical poetry is frequently read at weddings. Everybody gets something out of it.

Including me.

Written by Michael

31 Mar 2004 at 824am

Posted in Misc.

Schilling!

So we got our tickets to the 06 April game between Baltimore and Boston, and it just so happens that it’s Curt Schilling’s debut as a Red Sox pitcher. Awesome.

Written by Michael

30 Mar 2004 at 414pm

Posted in Misc.

Purchasing Liberty

The Statue of Liberty, closed to the public since 11 September 2001, will reopen to visitors in July.

Given the possibility of a terrorist attack to one of the nation’s most recognizable landmarks, there was concern about trapped visitors, especially since the museum lacked emergency exits. The Park Service invested nearly $20 million in a secondary screening process, new fire detection equipment, and new emergency exits and stairwells in the pedestal and museum.

Safety concerns will still prevent visitors from climbing to the crown of the statue itself. The narrow spiral staircase in the statue was intended only for maintenance crews and does not meet local fire, building, or safety codes, according to the visitor use and protection plan unveiled today.

The private sector chipped in over $7 million for security and safety improvements, including a $3 million donation from Wal-Mart.

It’s about time the Park Service reopened the statue, but it concerns me that they relied on private donations to fund half the improvements. Is it appropriate to criticize the marketing deals the Park Service made with Wal-Mart, American Express, and Folgers to raise money? Is it “crass commercialism” of national monuments in the United States? Does it send the “wrong kind of message about who we are” (probably not)? Is it becoming if there’s a Wal-Mart logo on the torch? Will there be?

Written by Michael

30 Mar 2004 at 112pm

Posted in Misc.

Things are against us

resistentialism (ri-zis-TEN-shul-iz-um) noun

The theory that inanimate objects demonstrate hostile behavior against us.

It’s one of those things: we remember well the times when things just go wrong, and we particularly remember what caused it. A related term is FOILED: Frequently Outwitted by Inanimate, Lame Electronic Devices.

(It’s all related to poor design.)

Written by Michael

30 Mar 2004 at 909am

Posted in Misc.

Doctors’ Day

This forgotten American holiday (do you celebrate it?) saluted the first practical use of anesthetic ether, on March 30, 1842, by physician Crawford Williamson Long, who waited until 1849 to reveal his discovery.

In the early 1800’s, during fashionable laughing gas parties, Long observed that party-goers under the influence of inhaled ether. He noted that the inebriated could fall or receive blows yet have no pain from these accidents or remember them happening. Long became convinced that a person would become insensible to pain if sufficiently etherized.

After anesthesia was proven to be effective in painful surgeries, the Catholic Church opposed using it on women giving birth, holding to its doctrine that their suffering during the delivery served as partial reparation for the “sins of Eve.” Many women would say, “The hell with that.” (Others would not.)

Bush I signed S.J. RES. #366 designating March 30 as “National Doctors’ Day”. Every day is a holiday.

Written by Michael

30 Mar 2004 at 831am

Posted in Misc.

Green Knowledge

This quiz is pretty hard, and I, unfortunately, suck at it. I’m not as up-to-date as I think I am.

Damn.

My excuse? I don’t read The Economist. Wait … that’s a crappy excuse.

Written by Michael

29 Mar 2004 at 106pm

Posted in Misc.