Jan 29 2012

Hey, What About MY Choice? Part 2

The previous post in this three part series is here.

In the beginning post of this series, I told the story of how California doctors and medical providers just couldn’t get it through their heads that even though I was a 35 yr old soon-to-be-mom, I did NOT want amniocentesis, because of the risk of miscarriage and the fact that it could not reveal any information I would actually be able to use.  But the medical types were really determined.  Read on.

I agreed to have a high-resolution sonogram referred to by my doctor as “Level 4” (L4), to be performed by a different doctor when I was about four months pregnant.  When I called to set up the appointment for this procedure, the nurse on the line began discussing the preparations for amniocentesis.  I patiently explained that I had declined this procedure and would be having the sonogram only.  She seemed quite surprised, but finally said that she would put a notation on my chart so that I would not be “hassled” any further.  (But wait, it was ALREADY on my chart.)  About two weeks later, another nurse called to confirm my appointment for the next day and began giving me instructions regarding amniocentesis.  I told her, a bit less patiently this time, that I had declined amniocentesis and would only be having the sonogram.  She told me that I was scheduled for amniocentesis.  I said, “Read my chart.”  She said, “Come prepared for amnio anyway!”

My husband (aka Harmonicminer) and I arrived at the clinic for my L4 sonogram the next day.  I tried to put all thoughts of large needles near babies’ heads, prenatal child kil …. er, I mean “pregnancy terminations,” etc., out of my head.  I just wanted to see my baby.  I was, of course, hoping the exam would bring good news but was prepared to accept whatever the test might reveal.

The clinic’s high-risk specialist, Dr. Shah, entered the room, glanced at his notes and said, “You’re here for an L4 and an amniocentesis.”  Feeling like a broken record, I explained – AGAIN – that I had thoroughly discussed my options with my obstetrician and had signed the form refusing amniocentesis and genetic counseling.  I had only agreed, on my doctor’s advice, to have the L4 sonogram.

Dr. Shah snapped, “You should not have been ALLOWED to sign that refusal without first undergoing genetic counseling!”  He then said, nonsensically, that amniocentesis was “for my own safety.”  Furthermore, he refused to even do the sonogram until, at a minimum, I subjected myself to “counseling.”  Seriously?!?    Was he actually threatening to withhold medical care unless I submitted to his authority?

I was too upset to endure the heated exchange between Mr. Miner and the doctor, so I agreed to see the genetic counselor down the hall.  I walked in her office in a very unhappy frame of mind, and I let her know that I was there under duress.  To her credit, she was very kind, but the questions were truly useless.  To paraphrase one of the more sophisticated queries,  “So, is there any chance you and your husband are biologically related?”

After signing yet ANOTHER refusal of amniocentesis, I returned to the exam room where the doctor, somewhat begrudgingly, finally did the sonogram.

And there she was, my little SOMEBODY…  not “potential life,” but undeniably a miniature human being with unfathomable potential.  Stretching, moving, kicking, growing, EXISTING.  I may have even seen her make a rude gesture to the doctor.  Way to go, kid.

Part three (the last part of this series) is here.


Jan 28 2012

Justice at Last

Category: diversityamuzikman @ 10:44 am

A great piece from Fred Reed

The Look Like America bill, originally H.R. 1533, seemed a perfectly ordinary piece of feel-good legislation when proposed by Barack Osama Obama. “Our diversity is our strength,” he said. “We must increase the representation of minorities in our institutions to reflect our diverse population and ensure the fairness for which America stands.” Congress passed the bill without reading it. It was the sort of thing one passed. Besides, there was no money involved, and the bill was not obviously anti-Semitic.

Not obviously. But then one of the obscure policy shops that abound in Washington, the Committee for Ethnic Piety, filed suit against Harvard for noncompliance. The proximate cause was an article in the Harvard Crimson, the school newspaper, about a course called Math 55, the hardest math course at the university and thus, Harvard liked to think, in America. The students in Math 55, reported the Crimson, were 45 percent Jewish, 18 percent Asian, and 100 percent male. The class didn’t, said the Committee for Ethnic Piety, look like America.

It certainly didn’t.

Harvard, ever sensitive to questions of justice, which it conflated with federal funding, agreed to make the class Look Like America. The administration asserted that only through inadvertence had it failed to notice the clear racism, sexism, and continent-ism occurring under its nose. It established a committee of reform, which set to work.

The first and most ticklish hurdle was The Jewish Question. Jews were two percent of the American population. At 45 percent in Math 55, they were over-represented by a factor of over twenty. The injustice was undeniable. Two percent of a class of twenty-five meant that Math 55 should contain half a Jew. It would then look like America. The Jewish students would have to go.

As news of the proposed ethnographic hecatomb spread across the country, alarm erupted among the prejudiced. Over seven hundred departments of engineering across the country protested. They could see where Looking Like America was going. Math departments, Silicon Valley, the National Institutes of Health – all reeked of injustice, meaning Koreans, Jews, Indians, and Chinese, and were conscious of sin. They didn’t Look Like America. They Looked Like Math 55. In the Bay area, the proportion of geniuses from India in computing was alarmingly high. Some laboratories Looked Like the Punjab. These malefactors knew well that the coming of justice would gut their enterprises.

Desperate to maintain their positions of racial and patriarchal privilege, they pointed out that the Jewish kids, like all the students in Math 55, had 800 math Boards and had done things like independently develop tensor calculus by the age of three. The view from the Gulch was expressed off-the-record by Dr. Gud Soma Darjeeling, president of Santa Clara Neurocomputing, which employed seventy PhDs in solid-state physics, including three Anglos. “Look, the US is in intellectual collapse. The average American university wouldn’t qualify as a high-school in Japan. It’s crazy. The whole world know it’s crazy. But take out the Kims, Khans, Nguyens, Wangs, and Cohens, and what’s left is Albania in 1750.”

The lead attorney for CEP, Patricia Mikoyan-Gurevich, wasn’t having it.

“Ability doesn’t exist, and occurs equally in all groups, and anyway justice is more important than patriarchal-racist abstractions. Sexism is clear at Harvard. When an entire class is male, it isn’t by accident.”

With this, no one was in disagreement.

Asians were as problematic as Jews. If a Jewish population of two percent required half a Jew in a class of twenty-five, then a six percent population of Asians required an Asian-and-a-half. Various solutions were proposed. Perhaps a short, lightweight Gujarati would do, or maybe a prodigy of ten from Mumbai. Otherwise, admitting three Asians every two years might serve.

The paucity of females in Math 55 was easier to address. Harvard had already established that there was no difference in mathematical ability by firing a president who thought there might be. Since ability didn’t exist and was found equally in everyone, the sexual balance was quickly rendered equitable by eliminating entrance requirements.

Harvard then set about the intricate matter of making the class thirteen percent black, sixteen percent Hispanic, a tenth of a percent Iroquois, and so on.

Meanwhile, CEP turned its attention to the lush pastures of music. The New York Philharmonic, being in New York, was discovered to consist disproportionately of Italians, Jews, Hungarians, and so on. It Looked Like New York, which wouldn’t do. The American Association of the Musically Hopeless, consisting of the deaf, tone-deaf, mutes, and amputees, filed suit on grounds that their membership was not represented at all. (They carefully overlooked the fact that they were over-represented among rock bands.) This brought up an important juridical question: Since most Americans could not play an instrument, should not the orchestra reflect this?

Thirteen years after the passage of the Look Like America bill, the United States ranked in international measures of mathematics just behind the Central African Republic, the New York Phil couldn’t play Happy Birthday, and racial and sexual justice flourished. Yet the vexed problem of Math 55 had not been entirely solved. Progress had been made, yes. The class looked almost like America, counting on its fingers and showing no trace of patriarchalism, which in any event it couldn’t spell. However, CEP’s Committee on Oppressed and Marginalized Indigenous Peoples of Color noted that the class contained no student from oppressed peoples of the Amazon rain forest. CEP regarded national boundaries as essentially phallic, since they were longer than they were wide, and thus beneath notice.

Harvard, distraught at finding yet another instance of its institutional racism, cast about for a suitable indigene.

After a laborious search the university discovered Wunxputl, a member of the Tloxyproctyl tribe of the Amazon Basin, consisting of twelve people who lived on yams and the flesh of the Three-Toed Sloth. Wunxputl was at Wellesley, where he served in a minor administrative position that had no responsibilities. He had been brought there seven years earlier by the anthropology department, so it could atone for White Guilt. It didn’t matter that Wellesley was guilty of nothing. The atonement was a pleasant form of narcissism, allowing the faculty to congratulate themselves on their moral purity.

Harvard arranged with Wellesley to borrow Wunxputl for three minutes every seven years, which it had calculated would satisfy the demands of ethnic proportionality. Justice, at last, had been achieved.

A very funny piece, funny because it is so absurd.

A very sad piece, sad because it is not far from the truth.


Jan 24 2012

Hey, What About MY Choice? Part 1

Category: abortion,election 2012,family,healthcare,liberty,science,technologyMrs. Miner @ 4:08 pm

This blog entry is for my daughter Elyse.  You make me smile.  Every day.

I’ve never been into New Year’s resolutions, but around this time each year, without fail, I go into a reorganizing frenzy.  Out with the old, in with the new.  That sort of thing.  Well, perhaps not every year, but most years.  Okay, every decade or so I decide it would be a good idea to throw out copies of bills I paid more than five years earlier, put at least three photos in albums, and pay THIS month’s bills.  THAT sort of thing.

As I was going through various old papers (how do we accumulate so much STUFF?), I came across notes I had written detailing some of what I experienced during my pregnancy with my youngest child (Elyse), now 13, and my relationship with the ….  ahem, medical experts that was often, unfortunately and unnecessarily, fraught with conflict.  You see, even though I had two other children and thought I knew what to expect, my pregnancy was now defined as high risk due to my “advanced maternal age,” and the rules had changed.  Big time.

During my first prenatal visit, I was given brochures outlining the prenatal testing options available for a mature woman such as myself.  The literature I read stated that I had a small chance of having a child with some sort of genetic defect, and my obstetrician, Dr. Alvarez, recommended that I have a simple blood test known as AFP that checked the levels of certain substances found in the blood of pregnant women.  A “screen positive” result could indicate a problem with the developing baby, in which case amniocentesis would be recommended.

If you’re familiar with amniocentesis, you know that it is a somewhat invasive test.  The doctor, guided by ultrasound, sticks a large needle into the mother’s abdomen and then her uterus, in order to extract a small amount of fluid surrounding the baby.  Fetal cells in the fluid are then examined.  This test is not risk free.  The literature I received from my doctor stated that the test carries about a one percent chance of miscarriage.  (By contrast, my chances of delivering a child with Down syndrome were about one in three hundred.) I was not about to take such a risk, particularly with the heartbreak of a miscarriage not even a year earlier.

At my next medical appointment, I informed my doctor that I had decided against AFP, which has a high false positive rate.  I didn’t want to raise any questions that only amniocentesis could answer, and I was unwilling to undergo such a risky procedure as amniocentesis.  He seemed surprised and asked me if I was sure.  I asked if there was any way to fix a problem that amniocentesis might uncover, and he said no, but that I would then have the option of “having the baby or terminating the pregnancy.”  I told him that I would not have an abortion under any circumstances.  This said, I believed that my choice would be honored, and that would be the end of that.  Yeah, right.

In a tone of voice that seemed to suggest he was speaking to a slow-witted child, he said, “You just really need to ask yourself if you could handle raising a handicapped child.”  Doing my best impression of an adult, I responded that I knew that raising a child with such challenges would be difficult, but I could not live with KILLING one.

After more discussion, my doctor and I came to the decision that genetic counseling would also serve no useful purpose, so I signed a form refusing the counseling and amniocentesis.  Doctor Alvarez put a note on my chart so that I “wouldn’t be bothered about this whole amnio thing again.”  Now I really thought that would be that.  Wrong again.

Here is Part 2 in the saga of California medicine trying to stick needles in my abdomen.


Jan 18 2012

Man bites dog?

Category: mediaharmonicminer @ 11:09 pm

Sure, some military veterans are bad guys. A few are probably really dangerous, as the following story reports. But the focus on the background of the killer as an “Iraq war veteran”, rather than any other aspects of his background, speaks volumes about the prejudice and pandering of the coverage of these murders.

Prosecutors Say Veteran Killed Homeless for Thrill

An Iraq war veteran charged with stabbing to death four homeless men in a weeks-long rampage in Southern California was a thrill seeker who took pleasure in killing his victims, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told reporters outside a jailhouse courtroom that 23-year-old suspect Itzcoatl Ocampo appeared lucid, calm and intelligent and showed no signs of mental illness.

“He gets a thrill out of it,” Rackauckas said. “This is a serious, vicious killer who went out there intentionally going about killing people and terrorizing a whole area.”

Later in the story reported here, we’re told about another recent violent crime by a vet.

Ocampo’s arrest was the latest violent crime involving a veteran. This month, an Iraq War veteran fatally shot a ranger at Mount Rainier National Park and died later as he fled police across the mountain’s snow-covered slopes.

Well, now we get the picture. Those war vets are dangerous people. After all, they volunteered to go into military service and kill people, didn’t they? We’d better keep our eyes on them, and travel in groups. Those guys are dangerous.

Or maybe not so dangerous.  For the most part, our nation’s military is a microcosm of American society generally, except that it mostly behaves better, on average.  Sure, the military has some proportion of nutcases.  So does any large population.  But generally, if I am being approached by a young man at night, I’d prefer it be someone who had served.  I have more reason to trust him, and his motives, and his self-discipline.

But can you imagine what would happen if all the murders committed by 20-somethings who hadn’t served were headlined as follows?

Killer who never served in the military stalks and murders helpless old people

or

Military service evader kills young mother in car-jacking gone wrong

Well.  THAT would get some attention, wouldn’t it?  And wouldn’t all the decent people who never served in the military be right to resent the implication?

Anyone who picks on the fact that a particular cretin happens to have served in the military, and uses it to draw attention to a headline, is despicable.  Isn’t there anything else to identify about the killer?  It might be different if there was any link between the military service and the crime….  oh, I forgot.  In the minds of lefty reporters, it’s automatically assumed that military vets must be half-cracked, and probably dangerous (maybe with PTSD and bad dreams), and so of COURSE there’s a link between that service and any crime that vets may commit.

Come to think of it, I think I know who the cretins are in this tale.  The by-line.


Jan 16 2012

Lies and facts

Category: mediaharmonicminer @ 10:23 pm

You used to hear that there are lies, damn lies and statistics…  implying, of course, that you can tell the biggest whoppers with them.

I’ll add one to that….  the new mantra is lies, damn lies, statistics, and fact checkers….

 

That’s because fact checkers seem almost always biased to the left, at least the ones that appear in the major media.

 

Here’s a howler, from AP “fact checker” Calvin Woodward:

ROMNEY: “Three years into office, he doesn’t have a jobs plan.”

FACT CHECK: Like them or not, President Barack Obama actually has proposed several plans intended to spur the economy and create jobs. The most well-known was his stimulus plan, introduced in February 2009, which included about $800 billion in tax cuts and spending.

At the end of 2010, Obama struck a deal with GOP congressional leaders on a package intended to stimulate hiring and growth. The deal cut the Social Security payroll tax, which provided about an extra $1,000 a year to an average family. It also extended an unemployment benefits program that provided up to 99 weeks of aid.

And in September, Obama introduced his most recent jobs plan, rolling it out in a speech to the full Congress in which he urged Congress to “pass it right away.” It included $450 billion in tax cuts and new spending, including greater cuts to payroll taxes and tax breaks for companies that hire those who’ve been out of work for six months or more. The proposal also would have spent $50 billion to upgrade schools and included other infrastructure spending. Almost none of it has been passed into law.

Calling ANYTHING that President Obama has either done or proposed a “jobs plan” is historically laughable, bordering on the willfully blind.  But the most risible part of this:  the “fact checkers” appear to consider extending unemployment benefits to be a “jobs plan.” 

That’s like calling cemetery insurance a health plan.

The “stimulus” has been the single biggest dollars down the rat-hole boondoggle in US history, as far as I can recall, at least.  It has produced jobs, all right, jobs that cost a half-million dollars to fund but pay $50,000 to the worker.  And not very many of those.

An actual “jobs plan” has to be something with a realistic prospect of removing barriers to the private sector creation of jobs.  Obama has nothing lke that…  almost by definition.

This is, of course, just one failure in the “fact checking” in the linked article.

Just repeat after me. 

Fact checkers in the major media are mostly liars. 

There, now I feel better.


Jan 16 2012

Keep it up Newsweek! Are you working for Romney now, under the table, or are YOU just dumb?

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 1:13 pm


Jan 13 2012

Decisions: Except that some options should really be off the table

Category: abortion,familyharmonicminer @ 7:11 pm

h/t: Powerline


Jan 05 2012

Reverse the murder of Christians and imagine the coverage

Category: mediaharmonicminer @ 10:55 pm

Al Jazeera reports that Deadly attack hits Nigeria church

Gunmen have stormed a church service in Nigeria, killing six people and wounding 10, the church’s pastor said, the latest in a string of attacks that has raised fears of sectarian conflict in Africa’s most populous nation.

“It was around 7:30 pm (1830 GMT),” Pastor John Jauro told AFP news agency of Thursday’s attack in the city of Gombe.

“I was leading the congregation in prayers. Our eyes were closed when some gunmen stormed the church and opened fire on the congregation. Six people were killed in the attack and 10 others were wounded.”

He said there was confusion as worshippers sought to flee at the Deeper Life Christian Ministry Church.

Local police spokesman Ahmed Muhammad confirmed the attack, but declined to say how many people the gunmen killed and wounded.

The attack comes after a purported spokesman for Islamist group Boko Haram on Sunday issued a three-day ultimatum for Christians living in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north to leave the region or they would be killed.

Did you hear about this? Did you read about it? Was it on the evening news?

I’m trying to imagine the coverage of a reversed but parallel event, namely, if Jewish killers murdered worshippers in a mosque in Israel or if Christian terrorists (if you could find any) stormed in a mosque somewhere and killed Muslims. 

There would be days and days of coverage, and the usual suspects would use it to create moral equivalencies between Orthodox Jews, Christian Evangelical Conservatives, and Islamist terrorists.  I’m sure Obama would have something to say about it. 

Let’s see how much coverage of this sort flows from the murder of Christians.  Or this.  Or this.

Of course, the idea that Islamist authorities would be expected to have prevented the murders is absurd on its face.  Obviously, Boko Haram was cheering the killers on.  Along with too much of the rest of the Islamist world.