"And he would have lost the idiot vote."

A few quotations from Peggy Noonan's column in this weekend's Wall Street Journal. She discusses Mitt Romney's recent speech on religion in America:

Bill Buckley once said he'd rather be governed by the first thousand names in the Boston phone book than the Harvard faculty. I'd rather be governed by Donny and Marie than the Washington establishment. Mormons have been, in American history, hardworking, family-loving citizens whose civic impulses have tended toward the constructive. Good enough for me. [Romney is] running for president, not pastor. In any case his faith is one thing about Mr. Romney I haven't questioned.

It is true that some in his campaign thought a speech risky, but others saw it as an opportunity, and a first draft was ready last March. In certain ways Mr. Romney had felt a tugging resistance: I've been in public life -- served as governor, run the Olympics, run a business. I have to do a speech saying my faith won't distort my leadership?

Here's my favorite part:

There was one significant mistake in the speech. I do not know why Romney did not include nonbelievers in his moving portrait of the great American family. We were founded by believing Christians, but soon enough Jeremiah Johnson, and the old proud agnostic mountain men, and the village atheist, and the Brahmin doubter, were there, and they too are part of us, part of this wonderful thing we have. Why did Mr. Romney not do the obvious thing and include them? My guess: It would have been reported, and some idiots would have seen it and been offended that this Romney character likes to laud atheists. And he would have lost the idiot vote.

My feeling is we've bowed too far to the idiots. This is true in politics, journalism, and just about everything else.


I'll try not to make sarcastic remarks....

....but it won't be easy.

Republicans Report Having Better Mental Health Than Democrats, Poll Finds

Here is the Gallup poll on which the article is based.

From the poll:
The reason the relationship exists between being a Republican and more positive mental health is unknown, and one cannot say whether something about being a Republican causes a person to be more mentally healthy, or whether something about being mentally healthy causes a person to choose to become a Republican (or whether some third variable is responsible for causing both to be parallel).


Ho, ho, ho.

Now, this is a Christmas-themed shirt I would actually wear.

Unfortunately, it's sold out.


Schumann's Konzertstuck

On my drive to campus this morning, I caught the last minute or two of Schumann's Konzertstuck on radio station WDAV. After the piece ended, they announced that a video clip was posted on their blog. I had to look it up. Here is it:


Romney 2008!

After reading the interview with Romney in this past weekend's Wall Street Journal, I think I've figured out why I like him--he thinks analytically (like I do--only I'm sure his analytical thinking is much better than mine!), so I understand how he thinks through things.

I really like the idea of a president who is willing to look closely at all the data before making decisions, and who is willing to reevaluate his positions if more information suggests that he was wrong. From the interview:

Mr. Romney's data-driven world-view . . . really stands out when he starts talking foreign policy. In a debate last month, he responded to a question about the president's legal authority to attack Iran by saying, "you sit down with your attorneys" and figure out what authority you have.

But this was not merely a dodge -- if it had been, it would have been a clumsy one at best. It was a glimpse into the workings of Mr. Romney's mind. At his meeting in our offices this week, he was asked how Candidate Romney would respond upon learning that President Bush had launched an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

"I would hope that the president would have outlined a great deal of information," was Mr. Romney's response. "I have very little information, for instance, on: How many nuclear facilities are there? Where are they? Can we take them out? Can we not? What is the capacity of the Iranian military to respond? Are our 160,000 troops in Iraq safe, or are they going to get hit?" Coming from someone else, it might sound like evasion.

But given Mr. Romney's habits of mind, it sounded, instead, perfectly natural. He continued: "It's such a wide array of information I'd need to know whether something is a good idea or a bad idea. . . . So it depends."

And a bit more:

The impression he gives in person is not . . . that of a salesman tailoring his message to his audience. It is, instead, precisely the person he described in the opening moments of our meeting: A man who goes first to the data, who refers to what some would call their "core beliefs" as "concepts."

At any rate, his response to a question about his former disdain for "Reagan-Bush" is consistent with that version of the man. "Reagan gets a lot smarter the older I get," he allows. He then explains what bothered him then: "I was concerned about what seemed to be looming deficits and inability to rein in spending in those days. And as time has gone on, I've recognized that he was brilliant and did the right thing for our economy. And so I may not have been entirely in sync with Reagan-Bush back at the time, but as time has gone on, I think what they proposed was smarter and smarter."

Framed in that way, what was a flip-flop becomes an openness to reconsider former positions. That may not do much to mollify those who worry about his ideological reliability -- he's changed his views before, so what's to stop him from changing them again? But it is a kind of Romneyian consistency -- belief in what works, belief in praxis over abstract theory or ideology.

That would rule out most politicians.

"Personally I want to know that I have someone who's honest representing me."

From a CNN.com story about Hillary's campaign allegedly planting questions at a campaign event.


Homework break!

This was probably my favorite cartoon episode ever when I was a kid:


Iowa taxman chooses trick over treat

My tax prof mentioned this in class a few days ago; now, here's the article from CNN.com:

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- The taxman in Iowa is going after jack-o'-lanterns this Halloween.

Most pumpkins are used as decorations, making them taxable, Iowa has ruled.

The new department policy was implemented after officials decided that pumpkins are used primarily for Halloween decorations, not food, and should be taxed, said Renee Mulvey, the department's spokeswoman.

"We made the change because we wanted the sales tax law to match what we thought the predominant use was," Mulvey said. "We thought the predominant use was for decorations or jack-o'-lanterns."

Previously, pumpkins had been considered an edible squash and exempted from the tax. The department ruled this year that pumpkins are taxable -- with some exceptions -- if they are advertised for use as jack-'o-lanterns or decorations.

Iowans planning to eat pumpkins can still get a tax exemption if they fill out a form.

The new policy, published in the department's September newsletter, has some pumpkin farmers feeling tricked this Halloween.

"I don't mind paying taxes, but let's get real here, people," said Bob Kautz, owner of the Buffalo Pumpkin Patch in Buffalo, just west of Davenport.


"Cold and Calculating"?

I thought this article about Socks was interesting.

To give Hillary the benefit of the doubt, maybe she had a good reason for not keeping the cat....


I'm annoyed with Ann Taylor.

Toward the end of May, I bought two sweaters (same style, different colors) at an Ann Taylor Factory Store. I wore one of the sweaters to work several times during my internship in July and August, and I wasn't terribly happy with how well it held up. (It's not falling apart--it's just not looking as good as an Ann Taylor sweater should after being washed and worn only a handful of times.) So I decided to return the other sweater. Unfortunately, between work, school, the CPA exam, and wedding planning, I didn't have a chance to stop by Ann Taylor until the end of August--and found out that a regular Ann Taylor store doesn't take returns of Factory Store merchandise. (My fault--didn't thoroughly read the return policy.)

The nearest Factory Store is two hours away, and I wasn't able to go until last Thursday. I took the sweater and my receipt into the store, and an employee told me that they have a 90-day return policy: After 90 days, they refund only the current selling price of the item--even with a receipt. Of course, the current selling price of my sweater is about $20 less than what I paid for it. I decided not to take the pathetically small refund offered to me and instead see about selling the sweater on eBay.

I'm glad I made that decision, because when I got home and looked closely at my receipt, I couldn't find any information about the 90-day return policy. The receipt says:
If you are not delighted with your purchase, simply return the unworn, unwashed or defective merchandise with your original receipt. We will be glad to credit you in the same form of payment with which your purchase was made. If you do not have your original receipt, we will issue a Merchandise Credit for the current selling price.
Granted, the policy doesn't explicitly state that Ann Taylor will credit the customer the same amount that the customer originally paid, but absent information to the contrary, wouldn't that be the assumption?

I'm planning to drive home again Wednesday, which means I'll be driving by the outlet mall. And I'm definitely planning to stop at the Ann Taylor Factory Store to try again to get all of my money back.

As a side note: Ann Taylor's profits have been falling recently (assuming that you put much faith in quarterly earnings numbers--many people seem to). I wonder if anyone in the company has considered that inadequate disclosure of return policies is likely to tick off customers and, in the long run, lose more revenue than is likely to be saved by stricter return policies?

UPDATE: I went back to the Ann Taylor Factory Store today and was able to get a full refund for that sweater. Apparently, their return policy changed August 1, but since my purchase had taken place before that date, it was covered under the old policy. I guess the employee who helped me last week had missed that little detail. ;-)

Free health care for everybody!

This is not the kind of health care I want.

I posted here about universal health care. The link I have posted above is helping to solidify my opinion that universal health care is a really, really bad idea.

I'd love to elaborate on this, but I'm taking my final section of the CPA exam this Friday, and something tells me that I ought to be studying for that rather than posting on my blog. :-)


"The right choice is to support the right answer."

I certainly don't enjoy or endorse everything on The Onion, but this video clip completely cracked me up--perhaps because it reminds me so much of how I usually feel during class discussions (particularly discussions in the course I'm taking in the law school)!

(Oh, and I don't know anything about the show advertised at the beginning and the end of the clip. I apologize if it's something objectionable.)

In The Know: Situation In Nigeria Seems Pretty Complex


Modest Clothing Website

I ran across a link for Christa Taylor on another blog several weeks ago. The site sells clothing that it labels both "modest" and "trendy." I've looked at the site a few times, and while there are definitely some items that I wouldn't be caught dead wearing (I may be a little older than their intended demographic), they do have some things that I think are kind of cute. I think it's worth keeping an eye on.

And for the socially conscious among us, the site says that they give "at least 30% of [their] profits towards the needs of the poor and towards social justice throughout the world." Right now they're helping to support an orphanage in Cambodia.


Bubble? What bubble?

I passed this on the sidewalk this morning and had to whip out my phone to get a picture....



There's a story on FoxNews.com about a horrible situation in which a mother allegedly set her three young daughters on fire.

And apparently the proofreader wasn't terribly thorough:

As another neighbor sprayed the kids with a hose, Lopez grabbed some wet towels and ran to the house, which he wrapped around the 7-year-old.

University of Florida taser incident

Did anybody else look up the video on YouTube and very quickly arrive at the conclusion that the idiot deserved to be Tasered?

And it still didn't get him to quit whining.


Is universal health care a good idea? Or, I'm glad I live in the U.S.

(Let me say right off the bat that I haven't spent much time or effort studying universal health care, and I'm basing my comments here on one article, which isn't very much evidence. The one article, however, does cite some rather interesting--and, perhaps, surprising--statistics.)

Today's Wall Street Journal contained an interesting column by Betsy McCaughey titled "Cancer Killers." (I'm not sure whether you can access the article without being a subscriber.)

Ms. McCaughey takes issue with the American Cancer Society's plans to scrap its ads educating the public about cancer-causing behaviors and the benefits of regular screening in favor of ads promoting universal health coverage. She presents evidence that "shows that universal health coverage does not improve survival rates for cancer patients. Despite the large number of uninsured, cancer patients in the U.S. are most likely to be screened regularly, have the fastest access to treatment once they are diagnosed with the disease, and can get new, effective drugs long before they're available in most other countries." McCaughey cites several studies showing that cancer survival rates in the U.S. are the highest in the world and that U.S. patients are more likely than those in other countries to undergo screening procedures on a regular basis.

But, McCaughey points out, early diagnosis isn't the only factor to consider: the speed with which a patient can access treatment is also critical. From the article:

Long waits for treatment are "common devices used to restrict access to care in countries with universal health insurance," according to a report in Health Affairs (July/August 2007). The British National Health Service has set a target for reducing waits. The goal is that patients will not have to wait more than 18 weeks between the time their general practitioner refers them to a specialist and they actually begin treatment.

18 weeks?! Wow. I wonder how much cancer could spread in the more than 4 months that it would take for a patient to being treatment.

As many problems as the current U.S. health care system may have, I think I'd still choose capitalism over socialism.


Evolution: The Rest of the Story

From the website of Jeff Nelsen, the horn player for the Canadian Brass:



Recently, the Charlotte Observer has been publishing articles and pictures related to its public schools' integration 50 years ago.

It amazes me to see what children were willing to go through--and what parents were willing to put their children through--just so black children could have the same opportunities as white children. I'm glad they were willing to do that; I don't think I would have been.

Check out the articles and pictures posted here. Especially look at the Dorothy Counts photos and story.

Credit card debt?

They make it sound so simple....

HT: Jonathan Taylor


It followed me home! Can I keep it?

No wonder they couldn't find it....

It appears that a search is completed for a two-foot-long alligator that had been seen recently in a pond on the [near campus] estate.

A two-foot-long alligator found at the University's _______ International Conference Center has been turned over to ___ ____ Reptile Rescue, a non-profit organization.

The University News Service distributed an e-mail Wednesday afternoon reporting that an alligator had been spotted on the estate and that ___ ____ Reptile Rescue was trying to locate and capture it. The e-mail prompted a [conference center] employee to inform the University that he had caught a small alligator last Sunday after it crossed ________ Road and walked onto the [conference center] property. Unaware that the University was looking for it, the employee had taken the alligator home and was attempting to find an appropriate organization to take it.

After hearing from the employee late Wednesday, University Police contacted ___ ____ Reptile Rescue. The employee gave the alligator to a representative of the organization. The organization will relocate the alligator in an appropriate setting.

[University] News Service

I'm sure that taking it home would be my first impulse!


Inappropriately Located Alligator!

I received the following email today:
Recently, the University learned that an alligator, approximately two feet
in length, is in Lake _________ at [gardens near campus]. At the suggestion of _______ County Animal Control staff, the University has reported the alligator's presence to a non-profit organization that rescues reptiles and moves them to appropriate locations.

Meanwhile, the University Police department asks that people stay away from the alligator and report its exact location if anyone sees it. The number to call is _______ or _______.

The alligator was reported to University Police on August 31. Officers saw
the alligator on a log in the lake, near the lake's bank, and promptly
contacted _______ County Animal Control. That same day, county staff
recommended that the University ask ___ ____ Reptile Rescue to capture it.
Since that time, the rescue organization has attempted but failed to capture it. Efforts to remove the alligator will continue.

[University] News Service

For some reason, I find this entertaining.

No, I do not attend school in Florida or in any other state with which one typically associates the presence of rogue alligators.


Global warming! Global warming!

This reminds me of Gen Chem I, when the professor suggested solving the problem of global warming by putting catalytic converters on cows....

My question is: The next time I want to drive my car 8,077 miles, should I shoot a moose first to avoid harming the environment?


I wonder if my doctor gets many calls like this.

On the package containing a free sample of make-up:

Discontinue use if signs of irritation or rash appear and consult your physician.

So it's OK to keep using it if you have signs of irritation or rash, as long as they don't consult your physician?


I'm a bit surprised at how long it's taken me to notice the sign at Macy's that points shoppers in the direction of the "Jewlery" department.




I needed this today.



I never thought I would be writing a blog post about antacids, but here I am.

Sadly, Mylanta Gelcaps have been discontinued. My mother and I were both unable to find them in stores, so I finally emailed the company and they responded with the sad news.

Why is this such a tragic event? Because, to my knowledge, Mylanta Gelcaps were the only the only non-chewable, non-liquid antacid on the market: In other words, they were the only antacid that didn't actually make me feel more nauseated when I took them. No chalky texture, no vile fruity flavor.

I figure that if enough people complain, the company may consider reversing its decision to discontinue Mylanta Gelcaps. So here's a website that will allow you to email the company with your complaint. If you prefer, there's also a phone number.

Thanks in advance for helping to get my favorite antacid back on the market. ;-)


Three cheers for SC elected officials.

I knew there was something about this guy that I didn't like.

Unfortunately, I think I may have voted for him in the general election, although I'm sure I did not vote for him in the primary. At the time, I didn't have any reason to dislike him, other than some concern over a couple issues such as the fact that his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign was hit with a fine of almost $20,000 for reporting violations--which, according to this article, Ravenel explained as an "oversight." I don't have a citation at the moment, but I seem to recall that his business in Charleston was also in a bit of trouble for some sort of (similar?) issue. Nothing too serious, I don't think, but enough to make me wonder whether electing Ravenel was really in the state's best interest.

The story has made more than local news websites.


Sob story

(This post is for those of you who keep up with my life via blog rather than through Facebook.)

My grandmother passed away in Illinois on Tuesday morning. I booked a flight through United--I was supposed to fly from Charlotte to O'Hare (on a flight operated by US Air) and then from O'Hare to Peoria, IL, on Thursday morning. My dad would pick me up and drive me to where I would be staying with an aunt and uncle before the funeral on Friday morning.

I got up at 3:30 a.m. on Thursday to make the drive to Charlotte for my 7:40 a.m. flight; after arriving, I found out that my flight had been cancelled. The US Air people, who were very nice, spent an hour finding a way to get me to Peoria. The best they could do was to get me on a flight that arrived in Atlanta shortly after 10 a.m. I would have to wait until nearly 9 p.m. for a Delta flight to Peoria.

Thankfully, I was able to fly standby on a flight leaving Atlanta around 3 p.m. My dad took me back to the airport to pick up my luggage, which was supposed to be arriving on my original flight shortly before 10 p.m. (Central time). The flight was a bit late, and then it took an hour after the flight's arrival for the luggage to start showing up at the baggage claim. Mine didn't show up. I began to remind myself of God's sovereignty and goodness, while simultaneously berating myself for packing two of my CPA review books, which caused me to have too much stuff to cram into a carry-on.

The airport baggage person sent us to the Delta ticket counter, where we found that the Delta people had already gone home for the night. My dad finally stepped behind the counter to find a baggage problem phone number. I called and spoke to a gentleman whose first language was apparently not English; he was able to look up the whereabouts of my luggage in the computer system and told me that it had been scanned in Peoria at 10:47 p.m. Too bad it was nowhere to be found.

So my dad and I made a midnight Wal-Mart trip to find me some important stuff such as a toothbrush, deodorant, and an outfit to wear to the viewing and the funeral. We managed to make it back to my aunt and uncle's house before 1 a.m., and I was thankful to get to bed fewer than 24 hours after having gotten up.

My dad and I drove to the airport (again) the next morning--after trying to call an airport phone number which nobody answered. We walked in, and I saw my luggage sitting in the office behind the Delta ticket counter. My stuff had apparently been locked in the office all night. They gave us my luggage without making any apologies, and we hurried to the funeral home, where I changed from my Wal-Mart outfit into my own clothes and made it to the viewing almost on time.

I was very thankful that I'd purchased only a one-way ticket so I could make the 12-hour drive home with my dad. He didn't hide my luggage from me.

I helped set a record!

This explains the length of the line at airport security on Thursday morning....



I turned on my TV a few minutes ago to catch the weather forecast and heard the following on a commercial:

If you have a stroke, you are more likely to die from one.

No kidding.

Maybe I heard it incorrectly...?


Yeah, Associated Press!

Two examples of poor proofreading courtesy of the AP (from a single article on the website of the Charlotte Observer):
"It was the Lord that got me through that," [John] Edwards said, along with both of his wife's cancer diagnoses.
Perhaps "Edwards said" could have been moved to the end of the sentence so it wouldn't sound as if the cancer diagnoses were speaking along with Edwards.
"The danger of using good verses evil in the context of war is that it may lead us to be not as critical as we should about our own actions," Obama said to applause.
As I skimmed the article and the phrase "good verses" caught my eye, I momentarily thought that Obama must be referring to Scripture passages about war. How about "versus"?


You've got to be kidding.

Let's say, "hypothetically," a person with a blood-alcohol level of nearly twice the legal limit and with marijuana in his vehicle speeds down a highway without wearing a seatbelt and while talking on his cell phone. He crashes into a tow truck that's helping a stalled vehicle and dies. Whose fault is it?

Naturally, the bar, the towing company, the tow truck driver and the person whose vehicle stalled must be at fault.

I can, perhaps, understand suing the restaurant that allegedly kept serving the deceased alcohol for more than 3.5 hours--even after he was already intoxicated. (Although is it really the restaurant's fault that the deceased chose to drink and then drive?)

I don't mean to be harsh, but perhaps this apparent unwillingness of the parents of the deceased to blame him for his actions is part of a pattern; perhaps if the deceased had been taught to take responsibility for his own choices, he would have made better ones. And perhaps he would still be alive today.


Why I went "elsewhere" for grad school.

Haven't actually pulled an all-nighter in the library yet (although it may be coming up in a couple days), but I think the idea of "Wake the Library" is great--it's open 24/7 during final exams, and free food is provided in the early morning hours. Check out the pics here!

(I'm probably just proving what a nerd I am by being excited about this. I also still get excited about wearing jeans to Wal-Mart. Although I think the latter proves that I'm scarred for life and not necessarily that I'm a nerd.)


Is it just me?

From the annual report of a Singapore-based company:

Like a prized seashell, [name omitted] is a company in constant evolution for excellence.

I'm not getting the analogy. Seashells evolve? Am I missing something?


Tax for Dummies

I received this via email yesterday. I've no idea whether it was actually written by the economics professor whose name appears at the end. But I think it's worth reading anyway. And perhaps someone could pass it along to the Democrats.


Because it is tax season. . . Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can


Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten

comes to $100.

If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like


The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.

The fifth would pay $1.

The sixth would pay $3.

The seventh would pay $7.

The eighth would pay $12.

The ninth would pay $18.

The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the

arrangement, until on day, the owner threw them a curve. "Because you are
all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your
daily beer by $20."Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the

first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what
about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the
$20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?' They realized that
$20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's
share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to
drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill

by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each
should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).

The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).

The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).

The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).

The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).

The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to

drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare
their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20,"declared the sixth man. He pointed to

the tenth man," but he got $10!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too.

It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!"

"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I

got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get

anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down

and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they
discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of
them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax

system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from
a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they
just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas
where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.

Professor of Economics

University of Georgia

For those who understand, no explanation is needed.

For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.


This got to the Supreme Court?

To my non-legally-trained mind, it seems ridiculous that the case discussed here made it as far as the Supreme Court. I mean, I definitely think that police should be prevented from using unreasonable force, but it seems that any idiot would assume that, if you're driving along two-lane roads (not always in the correct lane) at speeds in excess of 100 mph, you could expect to be injured--probably seriously. And would you not also expect the police to try to stop you from hurting somebody else? And wasn't there a judge on any lower court smart enough to figure this out?

Is it too harsh to be thankful that this guy is no longer able to drive, since apparently the suspended license didn't stop him from endangering himself, the police, and everyone else on the roads?


I picked the right place to go!

Although "entry-level tax accountant" doesn't seem to be on the "hottest jobs" list.

Good news!

Looks like world's best donuts (and, ahem, coffee) (apologies to my favorite Starbucks addict!) will soon be more readily available back home!


Reader discretion advised.

I was browsing a news website and ran across a link to today's Supreme Court ruling upholding the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act. The following information describing the procedure is copied and pasted directly from the ruling. Don't read it if you have a weak stomach.

Intact D&E gained public notoriety when, in 1992, Dr. Martin Haskell gave a presentation describing his method of performing the operation. Dilation and Extraction 110-111. In the usual intact D&E the fetus' head lodges in the cervix, and dilation is insufficient to allow it to pass. See, e.g., ibid.; App. in No. 05-380, at 577; App. in No. 05-1382, at 74, 282. Haskell explained the next step as

" 'At this point, the right-handed surgeon slides the fingers of the left [hand] along the back of the fetus and "hooks" the shoulders of the fetus with the index and ring fingers (palm down).

" 'While maintaining this tension, lifting the cervix and applying traction to the shoulders with the fingers of the left hand, the surgeon takes a pair of blunt curved Metzenbaum scissors in the right hand. He carefully advances the tip, curved down, along the spine and under his middle finger until he feels it contact the base of the skull under the tip of his middle finger.

" '[T]he surgeon then forces the scissors into the base of the skull or into the foramen magnum. Having safely entered the skull, he spreads the scissors to enlarge the opening.

" 'The surgeon removes the scissors and introduces a suction catheter into this hole and evacuates the skull contents. With the catheter still in place, he applies traction to the fetus, removing it completely from the patient.' " H. R. Rep. No. 108-58, p. 3 (2003).

This is an abortion doctor's clinical description. Here is another description from a nurse who witnessed the same method performed on a 26-week fetus and who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

" 'Dr. Haskell went in with forceps and grabbed the baby's legs and pulled them down into the birth canal. Then he delivered the baby's body and the arms--everything but the head. The doctor kept the head right inside the uterus... .

" 'The baby's little fingers were clasping and unclasping, and his little feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors in the back of his head, and the baby's arms jerked out, like a startle reaction, like a flinch, like a baby does when he thinks he is going to fall.

" 'The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening, and sucked the baby's brains out. Now the baby went completely limp... .

" 'He cut the umbilical cord and delivered the placenta. He threw the baby in a pan, along with the placenta and the instruments he had just used.' " Ibid.

Dr. Haskell's approach is not the only method of killing the fetus once its head lodges in the cervix, and "the process has evolved" since his presentation. Planned Parenthood, 320 F. Supp. 2d, at 965. Another doctor, for example, squeezes the skull after it has been pierced "so that enough brain tissue exudes to allow the head to pass through." App. in No. 05-380, at 41; see also Carhart, supra, at 866-867, 874. Still other physicians reach into the cervix with their forceps and crush the fetus' skull. Carhart, supra, at 858, 881. Others continue to pull the fetus out of the woman until it disarticulates at the neck, in effect decapitating it. These doctors then grasp the head with forceps, crush it, and remove it. Id., at 864, 878; see also Planned Parenthood, supra, at 965.

Of course, it is still legal for a doctor to use forceps to pull the baby out of the womb, ripping the baby apart in the process. I'm sure that's much more humane.

I suppose it shouldn't amaze me that many in our society can condone--and even passionately argue in favor of--such atrocities; yet those same people express shock and horror at events such as those that occurred at Virginia Tech this week. While what happened at Virginia Tech was horrible, it somehow seems even worse to stab a helpless baby in the head with a pair of scissors, force the scissors open, and vacuum out the baby's brain.

I find myself tempted to hate the people that butcher babies like that. But really, I'm just like them--a sinner. I am as undeserving of God's mercy and grace as any abortion doctor or any school shooter or any other human being who has ever lived. Praise God for His grace in choosing to save any of us.


This is cruel.

Severely obese fastest-growing U.S. overweight group

You'd think that somebody could have come up with a more tasteful headline.


Jesus Lives and So Shall I

Jesus Lives and So Shall I
(Christian F. Gellert; tr. John D. Lang)

Jesus lives and so shall I.
Death! thy sting is gone forever.
He, who deigned for me to die,
Lives the bands of death to sever.
He shall raise me with the just;
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives and reigns supreme;
And, his kingdom still remaining,
I shall also be with him,
Ever living, ever reigning.
God has promised: be it must;
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, I know full well,
Naught from him my heart can sever,
Life nor death nor powers of hell,
Joy nor grief henceforth forever.
None of all his saints is lost;
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives and death is now
But my entrance into glory.
Courage then, my soul, for thou
Hast a crown of life before thee;
Thou shalt find thy hopes were just;
Jesus is the Christian's Trust.


I'm impressed.

Check out this article (originally from the Wall Street Journal, here) and tell me if you aren't impressed with Rontrell Matthews and with Faye Brown.

Today's WSJ has an update on the story. I'm not sure whether you can access the article without a subscription, so I'll summarize: Since the original article's appearance, Journal readers have donated $32,000 to the school and its students. The school, for the first time, has its bills fully paid, and there's even money left over. One person wants to use a $100,000 inheritance to start an endowment.

Also since the original article was published, the SC State Legislature voted down a school choice bill.

So what can we learn from these stories? Well, apparently it's possible for private schools to succeed where public schools have failed. Apparently money doesn't really make that much of a difference in students' success--Capers has been operating on a shoestring budget and succeeding (at least, based on its SAT scores) while SC public schools have continued failing even while receiving increased funding. (At least, I assume funding has actually been increased; the politicians certainly talk about it enough.)

And apparently those evil capitalist Wall Street Journal readers who have donated money to Capers care more about South Carolina's underprivileged children than the majority of SC state legislators, who refused to pass a bill that would help those children escape their failing public schools.

Or maybe it's not a question of caring; maybe legislators just don't understand basic economics (specifically, the often-beneficial effects of competition in a free market) as well as Journal readers do.

But either way, is anyone else impressed with the good things that can happen when people stop depending on the government and just do something about a problem on their own?



I came across the following sentence in a reading assignment for a class:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights ... asserts that basic human rights to goods such as health and education pre-exist society just as negative liberty [i.e., freedom from governmental restrictions] does.

What do you think? Do we all have a right to health care and education? For that matter (and I hate to say this, since at this point I fall somewhere between conservative and libertarian on the political spectrum), do we even have a right to freedom from governmental restrictions?

I'm pretty sure I can count on Monica for a spirited response here, but if anyone wants to argue an opposing view so I can think about it from both perspectives, that'd be great. Thanks in advance to all my brilliant friends who are going to help me think through this! :)

UPDATE (4/5): Andrew over at Points of View has posted a reply to this topic.



For those of you who haven't already seen it, this is precious!



Congratulations to my friends Sarah and Jon on their new arrival! You can see pictures of Karin Joy here.


Personality types

According to the personality test I took the summer I worked at Ironwood, I'm an analytical. I ran across this website that lists the various names for the personality types. I though it was rather interesting reading; I'd never really thought of myself as the Eeyore or Ziggy type!


Gotta look out for punctuation.

Foxnews.com strikes again:
She lapsed into a comma and died three days later.



Something I hate: Textbooks that somehow get published before they are proofread.

Sure, the textbook that I was reading today was a first edition, and maybe there wasn't enough time to proofread it before it had to go to press. But is that really an excuse for using the word "breech" instead of "breach," or for consistently using the singular possessive rather than the plural possessive form of the word "auditor"? I can overlook the word "acounting" [sic] in a URL in a footnote a little more easily, but the sheer number of errors overall almost makes me wonder about the competence of the authors and/or the publisher.


The irony...

All my friends back in Greenville are allowed to walk on the grass this week.

When I got back to school here after spring break, I found a large area of grass roped off. We're not allowed to walk on it because they're doing something to get it ready for commencement.


Minimum wage

Articles like this make me want to get a degree in economics. Then I could study out the whole issue for myself and, because of actually having an economics degree, have some credibility when arguing that government-mandated price (wage) floors are harmful and, in a word, stupid.

Or maybe upon studying the issue I would find that the minimum wage is actually a good thing. I would be surprised, though, because it makes so much sense logically to say that the minimum wage is a really bad thing.


New links in the sidebar! (Updated!)

Please direct your attention to the sidebar, where you will find a link to points of view, the new blog of Andrew and Melanie Garland. Add it to your RSS feeds!

Updated 3/13/07: More friends with a new blog! Check out Jon and Sarah Abbott's site!


"Women Who Intimidate"

I ran across this article today. The title definitely piqued my interest--not because I see myself as intimidating, but because my mother has told me that I am. (At least, she used to--she seemed to think that's why my having dates was so rare!) And, to be perfectly honest, there are plenty of times when I want to be intimidating. I found it interesting that the author points out the difference between being competent/successful and being intimidating, and how the world tends to equate the two.


FOXNews.com Strikes Again

Headline: World's Largest Winemaker Ernest Gallo Dies at 97

Isn't it great how FOXNews.com continually undermines its credibility by posting poorly-worded (and frequently misspelled) headlines, articles, etc.?

Yes, I did go skim the article to see whether the deceased winemaker really was an exceptionally large fellow; the article does not say.

States I've Visited

create your own visited states map

I've been seeing these maps on Facebook, so I finally decided to post one of my own. I'm sure the lives of all my readers will be complete now that they know what states I have visited (or driven through, as the case may be).


Quote of the Day, 2/6/07

A caption on a photo at Foxnews.com: "Frost forms on a sea lion at the Milwaukee County Zoo; the cold has killed at least 9 across the U.S."

Nine sea lions?


Misplaced modifiers...

"While working on his master's degree, the Lord called Mike to preach."

I don't think I have to comment.

Quote of the Day, 2/3/07

Dave Barry is covering the Super Bowl. He offers suggestions to Miami residents for assisting visitors from the Midwest:

Midwesterners tend to be friendly, polite, honest and trusting, so down here they are dead meat. We need to keep an eye on them. If you see a visitor who looks confused, don't hesitate to offer help:

YOU: Hello! I see you are from the Midwest.

VISITORS: Why, yes we are! How could you tell?

YOU: By your non-taut, yogurt-colored bodies. Do you need directions?

VISITORS: Yes, thanks! We want to go to the beach.

YOU: Like that?


YOU: We have no beach.

See? By going a just little out of your way to help, you have averted what could have been an unfortunate situation.




I'm pretty sure that the city in which I am temporarily living intentionally attempts to confuse visitors and new residents with its system (or lack thereof) of naming its streets.

For example, when my father (who is not directionally challenged) and I (who am directionally challenged at times) visited the city several weeks ago to scout out possible living arrangements for me, we were unable to find an extended-stay hotel which we wanted to investigate--because we didn't realize that, while driving down a particular road, we needed to turn right at a stoplight to remain on the same road. I don't mean that we needed to bear right--we needed to turn at a right angle. I recently realized that a road which I take to get to where I'm staying does the same thing.

As if that isn't bad enough, the city apparently arbitrarily changes the names of some streets from time to time, just in case some of those newcomers were somehow finding their way to their destinations with a minimum of time, effort and frustration. I spent two days in town here before heading to Florida for a week of training. When I drove into the central business district Monday morning, I was looking for 2nd Street, which is one of the streets that borders my building. I passed 1st street and, naturally, the next street was... Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard! Yes, the city changed the name of the street over the weekend. Apparently, the city leaders believed that 2nd Street was unnecessary, since the city already boasts 1st through 37th streets. (At least, 37 is the highest numbered street that I can find on the map.) (Oh and 1st through 37th streets are not all consecutive, either. For example, between 4th and 5th streets is a street that does not have a number as its name.)

And to top off my Monday, when I walked into the home in which I'm staying while I'm in this city, I discovered that the living room furniture has been rearranged. It made me feel like I was losing my mind!