Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Everyone Could Use A Little Change

Hey ya folks! As most of you know, I'm an overworked, underpaid blogger. Of course, it's my own fault, but hey! This is America and it is positively American to solicit (beg sounds so gauche) for money for a good cause. I promise you people, I'm a good cause (except when I'm bad or argumentative or polemical).

It will accept even $1. Surely you can spare some change?

Just scroll down and on the lefthand column you'll see the Amazon Tip-Jar. Remember, it is more blessed to give than to receive. Be blessed, enjoy blessings, and give, give, give!


More Education=Better Dads

What isn't said in this article is that men with higher I.Q.s get more education, wait longer to get married and make better decisions including being involved with raising their children. They are better dads.

Here's a synopsis for you and it isn't the conclusion of the writers of the article: stupid people make stupid decisions, smart people make smart decisions. And stupid transcends race. No kidding. Shocking.

Now, here's the conclusion of the article:

But across all races, a dad's education still made all the difference, Martinez said. Well-educated men "are more likely to be married when they have children and are more likely to be active in the lives of their children," she said. "Education trumps race," she said.

One expert thinks that the report paints a positive picture, but added that dads still need support, especially those in lower-income brackets.

"This is a very optimistic picture of the role of dads and fatherhood in America," said Shelley Waters Boots, vice president for policy and programs at the Washington, D.C.-based Parents Action for Children. "It is quite affirming that a lot of dads are doing a lot of the work of parenting," she added.

"In America, we don't give parents credit for how hard it is, and how hard it is to do it well," Waters Boots said. "So, if you have higher income and more flexibility, you see dads really step up to the plate. For dads who are really struggling to bring home the paycheck, they are paying a price of not doing the parenting job they want to do. We need to be giving dads more support," she said.

"For dads who are really struggling to bring home the paycheck, they are paying a price of not doing the parenting they want to do. We need to be giving dads more support," she said.

Will that really make a difference? It sounds good on the face of it, of course. Fuzzy and feel good. What does support really mean?

A person must have a certain I.Q. to succeed in school. He must have certain reasoning skills in order to make prudent long-term decisions. Once the higher I.Q. dude finishes college, he will make more money. He will enjoy jobs that give him more autonomy. He will have the smarts to make better decisions life-wide--not just in parenting. Good decisions would include not getting a girl pregnant before he's married to her and then leaving the kid alone.

The key (politically incorrect) solution to this problem, since I.Q.s and education are unlikely to increase, is to emphasize marriage before parenthood. Even less intelligent people can make decisions for moral reasons. A married guy will in turn, even with a low I.Q. and uneducated, make more money than his single male friend, will have better health and because he is actually available, make a better father.

No one wants to say that marriage is a better solution than single parenthood. No one wants to say that marriage is preferable to divorce. No one wants to say that marriage is preferable to spawning children out of wedlock. That would be judgemental. That would lack understanding for the poor, unfortunate, ignorant souls who don't know any better.

Bull. Even stupid people can grasp simple moral truths--like it is wrong to have sex out of marriage, like it is wrong to commit adultry, like it is wrong to divorce (except for extreme cases and by extreme I don't mean "we just grew apart"). There was a time when ALL people, no matter their I.Q. or education, accepted these moral truths and acted on them. Higher education unnecessary. Men got a girl "in a motherly way" and he married her and supported them and they made the best of it.

There's no going back to those days--not with women actively choosing single parenthood in preference to dealing with a meddlesome male. But that doesn't make the new way better. Children being raised by one parent or the many permutations that make up modern families are vast social experiments. The results are just coming in--and they aren't good.

Marriage: It Does a Family Good

'Til Shiloh Come

Brangelina have a new baby. Snooze. They gave the kid a Biblical name. Is there any more narcisstic bunch than the Hollywood Types? Apple (Adam and Eve's downfall?), Moses, and Shiloh, oh my. Hark, here come the saviors. Oh, that we'd all submit to saving, then the world would be a better place.

Katie Couric Lovefest

Oy vey. Who care's already? That the little chipmunk will be a nightly news anchor matters not. Dan Rather, Katie Couric, Cooper Anderson, I mean Anderson Cooper, Tom Brokaw, WHO CARES?

Does anyone with an I.Q. above that of toothpaste watch the nightly news?

Dixie Chicks Debut at #1

Said I'd keep you posted. Here it is.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Healing: Getting In Tune With Your Body

"I don't know what happened, Doc," a bewildered client will say, "all of a sudden bam! There was pain!"

How is it possible for a person to not know how he or she came to be so infirmed that walking is impossible? Patient after patient will come into the office in wonder at their own body malfunction. It is as if the problem is external to them, happening to them, not IN them.

Oftentimes, after a thorough history and a little time to contemplate it, a patient might say something like, "Do you think that the time I slipped on the ice and got knocked out did this?"--usually as the Doctor is walking out the door. As the patient takes in the Doctor's expression of "uh, yeah!", he or she will usually laugh. It sounds so silly once said out loud. Of course, this injury has to do with the pain!

Part of our job is to help people to get more attuned to the workings of their body-mind-spirit. Rather than minimize, ignore, bury and deny the pain and discomfort, we like people to recognize it for what it is: a helpful message from the body. Unfortunately, many people see the pain and discomfort as some sort of "beginning of the end", or a proof of old age or a confirmation of the fear that they will "die just like dad and my brother" or some other scary, unhelpful belief. These beliefs cause people to run away from help and sometimes become a self-fulfilling prophecy. They wait so long to address the messages that it is, indeed, their worst fear fulfilled: it's too late.

At the other end of the spectrum from Minimizers are Maximizers. These people have no concept of normal body variation. Every weird poop, every stray pain, every twinge of discomfort causes great angst and despair resulting in "overusage." For the less ethical practitioners these worriers can be a practice-building dream: these patients use the health care system to fill emotional needs not met elsewhere. This is particularily true among the elderly. My own Grandma, the picture of health at the ripe young age of 88, got misty-eyed because her "doctor really cared" and I retorted, "He sure does care. He cares for your excellent supplemental Health Insurance. That is for sure!" That comment was met with a withering look which I probably deserved. Arguing medical ethics with a lonely Grandma just isn't smart.

And in this day and age, there are also the Seekers. Why these people even visit a Doctor's office, I don't know. They already know it all, they simply seek confirmation. We all do this to one extent or another--chase opinions that confirm our own, reinforcing our super-smart self-view. This category of people, though, resists information that might conflict with their own beliefs. The latest scare-media article is brought in and gravely handed to the Doctor. No, they will not try that herb, no they don't think they should take that supplement, no they read about the acupuncture needle doing this or that, no, no, no. "I have been to ten doctors for this problem," they'll say, "and NO ONE COULD help me." Often, they leave the office, disgusted with the incompetence of the staff and Doctor. On down the road this person travels to torment the next unsuspecting practitioner. Rarely does this person follow any Doctor's treatment plan. Miffed at the inadequate results in two days of trying, they quit. They enjoy the quest. Getting healthy is another matter entirely.

Do you see yourself in these descriptions? Maybe a little bit? Some of us are natural hypochondriacs, some of us are stoic toughies who "suddenly drop dead", some of us enjoy complaining for it's own sake--almost everyone has health issues.

We usually absorb some sort of health belief system from our families. Perhaps you had a mom who was sick her whole life. Perhaps everyone was told to "stop crying and being a baby, and gut it up". Perhaps in your family the only way you got attention was by being sick. No matter what, that belief system affects how you view yourself today. It is a filter that can distort your own self view.

There is also the "I own it, I know it" bias. Since we all have bodies, we all can claim expertise in bodily functions. We have been observers for years, right? Well, maybe. Sometimes, though, what seems "normal" just happens to be what you, individually, experienced. It may be totally abnormal, in fact, and require further investigation and possibly lifestyle change.

So Doctors are put in uncomfortable situations at times. We must be willing to address a patient's belief system. I remember one time, my only treatment was to tell a patient, "There is nothing at all wrong with you. You are healthy and well." "Really?" she said, "Is that really true?" "Yes," I responded. "Most people are deathly ill compared to you, that's how healthy you are." And it was true. She was well, but had gotten into a very bad spot after being sick once. Thankfully, she accepted the truth of it and stopped acting sick.

A Doctor must also teach what is "normal" and "healthy". Analyzing a diet diary is particularily illuminating. The same person who says, "Yeah, I eat healthy" will later say they "drink only one six-pack a night. Could that be causing my liver problems?"

Once people know what is healthy and what is not, what is "normal" (and this is a very wide range, usually) and what is not normal, they can start to better guage their bodily activities. It is not normal, for example, to lose bladder function at the age of 60 and can indicate some very serious, but easily treatable, problems. But if you look at the advertisements for bladder dysfunction, you might think that everyone over the age of 50 pees their pants. They don't and medications aren't the answer most times.

A good doctor's goal is to help people listen to their bodies and respond to the signals they are getting. It is very interesting, as people get well and the layered problems unpeel and get removed, people are shocked at what they put up with for years. Once they start feeling great, they have no desire to fall back into the abyss of pain, dicomfort and difficulty. They become attuned with wellness instead of trying to ignore the static.

That's the goal: learn what it means to be healthy and whole and know when that wholeness is compromised and act quickly to fix it. Ultimately, the person in pain, must decide how to deal with it and the significance of that pain. That's the way it should be. It helps, though, to have the information to make informed choices. Knowing yourself can mean the difference between life and death.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Gateway Pundit: Iran: U.S. Will Fail to Provoke Ethnic Strife... Oh, Really?!!

Gateway Pundit: Iran: U.S. Will Fail to Provoke Ethnic Strife... Oh, Really?!!

Just in case you haven't seen Iran's turmoil on the news, go to this link. Um, Tehran, they have a problem. Sick of the Mullahs, the people there are burning for regime change. Remember, Iran is the seat of the former Persian Empire. They are not Arab. They have Arabs living there--about 20% of the population. In some districts lots of Arabs live, especially near their Oil Fields. This country is filled with culture and history and lots of redeeming things. The Islamists are trying to take this country back to the Dark Ages. Let's hope the revolutionaries succeed.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Day Care Concern: Don't Worry Mom, They Still Prefer You

This research can be taken a lot of ways. That a study was undertaken about whether kids bond more tightly to their Day Care providers than to mom speaks volumes about a mother's insecurity about her choices.

The child really is in a double bind, unless the mom is congruent with her choice to work while the child is in Day Care. If the child really, really loves her Child Care Provider and bonds with her, an insecure mom (and at least 75% of them are) or a mother insecure or incongruent with her decision to leave baby behind, will pass along that vibe to her child. The child is forced to choose allegiances. She often chooses mom even though most of her waking hours and core developmental time is spent with Day Care Debbie. To demonstrate this choice, Baby Girl wails inconsolably when mom drops her off. She'll take a long time to engage with the group. She will avoid the Day Care worker. Mom is delighted by the supremacy she enjoys in her child's heart. The child suffers disconnectedly around anyone but mom.

I know of where I speak. For fifteen years, my mom had a Day Care in our home. Anywhere from two to seven children came to our home daily while their mom and dads worked. The kids enjoyed a playground, homemade food, toys, and even baths and pajamas before mom picked up on hot, stinky days. Some of the kids were so bonded to my mom they called her Mama Marsha. The more secure parents were thrilled to have their children in such a familial, normal child habitat. Other parents went nuts.

The parents offended by the relationship made their kid's lives hell. Lingering good-byes for their own benefit, not the child's. Stopping by during lunch, torturing the kid with another departure. Making weird comments to my mom in front of the child like, "You don't have to eat anything you don't want to, honey." They wanted the kid to give my mom sixth like they got at home.

The reason the incongruent mothers got sxxt at home? The child sensed her unease with her choice, or with her ego needs, and they exploited it. Many kids were perfectly behaved until their mother came to the door. They immediately turned into monkeys. Disobeying where they were obedient all day. Screaming where they had been sweet and happy. The mothers hated the display at the end of a long, tired day, but reveled in it, too. Their child needed them and only them. Their child punished them for enjoying being away from him or her and swimming in guilt, the mother knew she deserved it. The psychological abuse was only fair for having a mom who secretly loathed the needy child.

The child ultimately paid for the parent's narcissism. Divided and distracted. Indulged and appeased. Tired and frustrated--bedtimes were three ring circuses at home. The kids would come to Day Care on Monday exhausted and sleep nearly all day because they hadn't slept all weekend. The confusion sowed seeds of resentment toward the parents and the parents resented the children in return. Yup, that's an ideal homelife.

The other kids, whose parents made peace with their choices, turned out fine. The parents happy with the arrangement felt no guilt and didn't overcompensate and indulge the kid at home. The kid had boundaries everywhere and while he might have preferred mom to Day Care, he didn't know the difference and adapted.

Well, most of them, anyway. Some kids with congruent parents still suffered. A few just had delicate personalities. Maybe shy, maybe immature developmentally, maybe overwhelmed by all the stimuli that a Day Care naturally contains, these children survived, rather than thrived. I felt bad for these kids. I remember a little girl I was particularity close to. She was sweet and quiet. I had a special bond with her and when I came home from school, took care of her. She had huge brown eyes and a delicate spirit. She wanted her mom. I felt bad. She needed her mom.

I think we forget that no one really likes to be left behind. Saying "good bye" to someone we love isn't easy. Now, just imagine not having a concept of time. A child can't really fathom one hour or ten hours. What does that mean? Even seven year olds don't get the concept of an hour--you can equate it to a TV show or Video or the time between Safety Breaks at the pool and only then do they understand. But children under the age of five have a tougher time with the concept of time. The younger, the harder. They eventually learn the rhythm of the day and know that mom will eventually return, but they don't know when. The anxiety increases their stress hormones. They worry. It feels like forever. It might as well be.

This will add more guilt to some. Mothers face challenging choices when it comes to balancing career and child care. There are trade-offs when working full time and putting a child in Day Care. The key is to make decisions that benefit the child.

  • Moms, let your child bond with his or her care provider. They need that relationship so they can relax and develop normally.
  • Moms, discipline your children when you have them at home. It turns them into monsters when you let them run the house. Do you really want to transfer your guilt to your child? Do you want that message sent? The child will grow up believing that what you did was wrong--you will have taught him that belief by your actions and needs.
  • Moms, put your kids to bed. I know you want to spend extra time with him or her, but the child is growing and needs sleep. The hassle you'll endure putting him or her to bed will pay off the a well-rested, happy kid. You'll both benefit.
Give the kid a chance to be happy wherever he may find himself. You can teach him resilience by the way you handle these conflicted situations. If you can't find a way to do this, quit your job already (I know some single moms can't). Live smaller. Pick up your career again when the kids are in school or a little older. I guarantee you, five years feels like a long time now, but it won't when you're 65 and retired.

John Kerry Defends HImself

John Kerry continues to live in the past--now it is the Swift Boat thing. He is releasing documents he refused to release during the campaign from his military service trying to restore his reputation. His reputation, to some Vietnam Vets anyway, is as a disloyal opportunist. Since his testimony before Congress after his return from Vietnam he lost lots of friends and made lots of enemies. If he somehow proves he was in Cambodia when his buddies say he never was, will that change opinions about the man?

Friday, May 26, 2006

User Experience: Make It Natural, Make It Easy

Over at Passionate Users they have a post on making the customer experience natural--like water running down hill. This is in contrast to making the user work hard for your product. You can bet that at least one of your competitors makes it easy.

Congress Searched: Indefensible Immunity

Glenn has more here.

Memorial Day--Remembering What We Fought For

In this day and age where Congress passes laws people don't want, where corruption reigns, where influence and manipulation triumph over openness and transparency, we celebrate and memorialize those brave men and women who fought for the common man. They fought against taxation without representation. They fought against an elite class forcing their will on the masses. They fought for freedom from oppression. They fought for a rule of law that applied to every man, equally. They fought for a sovereign, independant, unified nation without interference from others. Finally, they fought for other people to have the same thing. Many nations, not just America, owe thanks to the men and women who fought for an idea, a belief embodied in Thomas Jefferson's words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.-
Congress should be careful of their "abuses and usurpations". The President should be careful to avoid "a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism".

Throughout America's short history, her citizens in the form of the military, have fought over and over not as a tool to dominate her own people or others but to liberate. I am thankful for these people. Each day my family lives safely, protected, under a rule of law, yet free to speak, to dissent, free to congregate, free to bear arms, free to own my property, free to vote, free to enjoy a presumption of innocence. Free.

This freedom has been bought at a great price. Blood of many worthy and noble people spilled for this cause.

While our Senators and Representatives and the President pontificate on these themes this weekend, I hope they listen to their own words. They aren't empty and meaningless words. They are important words. But these words can be undone by evil actions. In fact, it is a lot easier to destroy freedom than to build and protect it.

Memorial Day comes at a perfect time, this year, to remember not just who fought for America but what they fought for. Remember.

God & Health: How Spiritual Problems Affect Health

A common American "dis-ease" that has received lots of press recently, Post-Partum Depression, I would like to rename as L.O.S.S. or Lack of Support Syndrome. Women who have suffered LOSS have the disease reverse when someone helps them clean the house, takes care of the other children, holds the baby for a while so she can sleep, and provides her with some good meals. Women rarely suffer PPD when all these supports, all this love in action, are given. Medication suddenly becomes unnecessary.

How many other diseases grow because of social and spiritual isolation? In the case of PPD, there was a time when the notion of leaving a new mother with an infant at one day old by herself would have been perceived as crazy. It was simply not done. In the ancient nation of Israel, a mother had full-time support for 30 days. Can you imagine? How much PPD occurred? And how often was an unstable mother left to her own devices? She wasn't.

Many other primitive societies did the same thing. The birth was not just a physical phenomena, it was a spiritual event surrounded by ritual, religious celebration and God-infused significance.
When did birth become a medical event?

At the other end of the spectrum, illnesses were almost exclusively viewed through a spiritual lense (this extreme was unhealthy in it's own way). Our language continues this legacy: galled, hard-headed, stiff-necked, anal-rententive, choked-up, gut-wrenching. Through our language we acknowledge the mind-body-spirit connection.

But somewhere in time that connection was disconnected. What happened?

In a European land far, far away, some old guys decided to divide and conquer. Yawn, right? The history books of Western Civilization are filled with dividing and conquering. This division affects you and me, though, to a degree we can't even fully comprehend. That is because what was divided affected life in civilization throughout the world to this day.

These men divided man. To this day, men are still divided. The spirit was given to the church. The body was given to science. The mind hovered all around and in between pushing intrusively into both domains.

This division resulted in fantastic scientific advances. Superstition got stripped away from bodily functions. Doctors could now examine the human body and learn it in infinite ways that had been prohibited in the past. Antibiotics, medication geared toward specific physiological processes, and intricate surgeries were discovered and saved lives.

Meanwhile, the church's influence (especially in Europe) diminished. Rationalism and more important, mechanism (the philosophical theory that all phenomena can be explained in terms of physical or biological causes), and in extreme cases, utilitarianism, became the belief systems that informed people's views of the world.

The result of this artificial separation was that people ceased to ponder spiritual causes of dis-ease. Even more significant, since spiritual problems aren't always a cause of dis-ease, spiritual problems weren't entertained as possible inhibitors of healing. While spiritual problems might not cause a dis-ease, they can certainly interefere with healing.

How does this manifest today? Well, if you feel depressed, there is a good chance you'll be given an anti-depressant for your "imbalanced brain chemistry". While it's true that the brain chemistry is indeed imbalanced, the bigger questions of why and what causes this aren't even entertained. Fear of answering these questions explains why the questions are avoided. Few doctors want to address "bitterness" or "lack of forgiveness" or "hatred" as the cause of depression.

Unfortunately, the person suffering with illness loses out on a very potent help in healing when the spiritual is avoided. Humans, says Viktor Frankl, search for meaning. Devoid of meaning, they wander and often unconsciously seek meaning. Like Solomon, they try food, drugs, sex, and every other sensory experience seeking, seeking a connection, answers, meaning.

Like Solomon, some people finally make a spiritual connection to God and a community of believers. And other people float, rudderless, no spirit in their sails on the vast open sea of experience. When trouble comes, as it does for nearly everyone, they are tossed about. Some succomb to the sea, some float further away never to be moored, some find a lifeline--some finally find meaning.

Rather than God being a peripheral idea, for us, God is the foundation upon which the rest of practice is built. Our practice is vitalistic. We believe that organic life cannot be explained by biology and chemistry alone. Instead of the spirit and the body or the mind and the body as separate, we believe that together they form the whole human.

We don't sit around pondering existential questions with patients, or debate theology or philosophy for that matter. We do consider a person's "spirit" and connection as part of their whole health, though. And we do this for plenty of scientific reasons.

All kinds of research shows that people who consistantly go to church, who believe as part of a community, who are socially connected, who pray regularly, who profess strong faith, who volunteer to serve others, who meditate, and who worship as a family have better health and longevity. These people have better sex lives. Yes, they do. They suffer depression much less. They enjoy the support of a community during difficult times.

These spiritual actions are very reasoned, very rational decisions. And they are often ignored. People focus on diet and exercise, some obsessively so, and ignore the big elephant in the room: their spiritual life, their connection to God and their connnection to their fellow man. One research study says that guys who smoked, drank and were overweight suffered less heart problems if they believed they were loved by their wives, than guys who were fit and believed their wives hated them. Their belief affected their health.

While we rarely pray with a patient, we almost always pray before we work with a patient. We pray for their healing. We pray for our wisdom. We ask God to help them in ways we can't see.

A smart doctor recognizes his or her limitations. Ever hear, "he's only human"? Well humans have limitations of time, space and matter.

God, on the other hand, is infinite. His wisdom is not defined or limited by time or space or things. Connection to this source of Power is a catalyst for healing.

It is my opinion that loneliness, isolation, and lack of support create and prolong illness and interfere with healing. A rich spiritual connection with Universal Intelligence sustains people even when they are alone. Confidence, centeredness, connectedness create an environment where healing occurs. Fearful and frayed people don't heal, they hide and die.

A holistic approach includes God in the equation. The spirit in man matters more than matter matters. Beliefs and faith in ideas change the mind and inform the spirit and those things drive behavior and actions.

Invisible: Now You See Me, Now You Don't

Forget Tolkien's Ring of Power, scientists think they can make things invisible. For real!

I will add my Stealth Shield to my Thought Projections. Woo hoo! Dr. Melissa morphs into Dr. Magnificent. All I need is a Red, White and Blue Dominatrix get-up like Wonder Woman and I'm set.

Dr. Magnificent would also have a Taser (those seem really cool) to stun bad guys and travel via Bobcat (those mini back-hoes--sublime). Once I've corralled the bad guys, they'd get collars like those dogs do with invisible fences, except the fence frequency would be set on fry if they crossed the boundary. One or two would try--criminals aren't that bright.

Technology.....good thing mad scientists don't think up things like this.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Lay & Skilling Go Down, Stock Market Goes Up

Well, it's over. Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling are guilty. They will likely appeal. They will likely go to jail. Lay will lose what little white hair he still has on his head.

I know a lot of people who are thrilled with this result. While I think the boys are guilty and that Andrew Fastow is the worst of the bunch, I still wonder if these criminals belong with the thugs with whom they will likely share cells.

The unevenhandedness of justice makes me uncomfortable, to say the least. I've talked about it before here, when discussing what a life is worth.

Book: Chapter 1: God Heals

In this day and age, many people will be stunned that my foray into writing about health and healing starts at the feet of the Almighty Creator. Well, it does and for good reason. With all the technological advances, with all the scientific evidence, with all the knowledge that is spread via various forms of communication, sometimes the big picture is lost. And the big picture is this: God heals, people help.

Your body was created to heal. There is an innate drive for wholeness, completeness, and wellness. And while doctors can remove interference to healing, can help accelerate the healing, can augment the healing--they cannot make the body heal.

What do I mean? While scientists can create artificial valves, joints, even blood, they cannot create valves, joints and blood. The best they can hope for in the future is cloning--reproducing what already exists. Doctors can manipulate the body's biochemistry, but the effects are hardly as delicate and elegant as when the body manipulates biochemistry itself. Most important, while a doctor with drugs or a person with diet can destroy the immune system, or through diet the immune system can be given tools to be boosted, the immune system through innate power changes itself, regulates itself, and modulates itself.

This power to change, to find equilibrium again and to change again is so complex, so variable that it is impossible to comprehend in its entirety. The scripture saying that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" comes to mind. When faced with even creating something as simple as a one-celled organism, humans fall flat. It can't be done.

Humility needs to be the beginning of any health-building equation. Doctors need to be viewed in their proper perspective. Neither creators nor healers, they are helpers. Hopefully.

Sometimes people so desperate for escape from their pain and dis-ease approach the Health Care profession as saviors. Some doctors enjoy this position. They set themselves up for a fall--all of them.

Doctor is better rendered in Latin where it means teacher. A doctor should inform you and help you make a decision. A doctor can then put together a plan, with you, to help approach your healing. A patient decides to what extent the plan is followed or ignored. A patient decides whether he or she wants to be advised by another Doctor.

Ultimately, though, any healing that occurs happens because God created a human to heal. Humans can interfere with the healing or help it. Hopefully the Doctor you choose as your teacher and advisor develops a plan where the body does what it was created to do: Heal.

Brain Waves Make Robot Work

This is the future, and depending on who you are, your reaction is terrified or triumphant.

Me, I'm waiting for the brain powered floor scrubber, the brain powered diaper changer (there's a great episode of Rolie Polie Olie with a robot diaper changer--wave of the future man), the brain powered naggy wife (I envision the ability to thought-project a message to my husband on his flat screen TV--which at some point will be the inside of glasses or something--"Are the taxes done? Paint the bathroom. The toilet is clogged!")

I'd love to hear how you would mind-direct your robot. Any ideas?

Oooo! I just had one more! I'd sit in front of the computer, think "Amazon" and "gifts for mom" and based on their metrics, they'd pop up choices. Then I'd think "pay with Visa", since they already know who I am via my ISP, they'd confirm my mental signature.

Before you know it, I'd be Stephen Hawking by choice.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Parent Trap: Part IV To Breed, or not to breed. That is the Question

Man, is this issue getting a lot of play. But I can see why. To breed, or not to breed, that is the question.

Glenn Reynolds piece is getting picked up everywhere--the Wall Street Journal, Ann Althouse with a myriad of comments, and the most interesting and accurate counter-opinion, in my opinion, The Washington Post's Mark Samuelson. He says:

Children are now usually a conscious choice -- whereas they were once considered economic necessities or religious obligations. Somehow American society better mixes child rearing and jobs than do other societies that provide greater child subsidies (government day care, family allowances). Indeed, generous welfare states may discourage having children. A study by economists at the University of Minnesota found that high Social Security payments and payroll taxes are associated with low fertility rates. People may feel they don't need children to care for them in old age. Or high taxes and poor economies may deter young people from starting families.

No one knows. Among experts, there is much skepticism that Putin-like economic incentives alone will revive fertility rates. By not having children, people are voting against the future -- their countries' and perhaps their own. It is easy to imagine the sacrifices and disappointments of raising children. It is hard, try as people might, to imagine the intense joys and selfish pleasures. People ignore Adam Smith's keen insight: "The chief part of human happiness arises from the consciousness of being beloved."

Amen to that.

I have posted about this before here, here, and here.

To reiterate my most salient point, if there was one, I decided that the pill and the resulting choice that children became changed everything:

Birth control:
  1. Takes the consequences out of unprotected sex
  2. Removes men from the child equation
  3. Allows mom to delay--she gets her education, waits for the perfect mate
  4. A delay can mean less/no kids
  5. Reduces fertility in some forms
  6. Increases STDs reducing fertility
  7. Increases risky behavior--resulting in unplanned pregnancies (false sense of security)
  8. Unplanned pregnancies result in abortions
  9. Unplanned pregnancies result in single motherhood
  10. Supercedes church doctrine (families started to rationalize away church teachings--a father used to have to be willing to forgo sex a lot of the time to not create a child, so either big families or male misery or mistress--birth control solved his problem)
When these things happened and people had fewer kids by "choice" instead of by "nature" (remember the song "Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage?"), lots of societal changes followed.
Birth Control explains birth rate declines more than any other single change. Why would Mexico, with a vast, relatively uneducated population have such a steep decline in birthrates, too? Increased female education doesn't explain it. Access to birth control does, though.

As an aside, I added up food/clothing/lessons misc. and came up with roughly 15,000 extra/year kids costs without private/home schooling. I think that some costs diminish. For example, my second son has incured almost zip except for some child care costs, but that has been made up because I am working (which I didn't with the other two). It's a net gain. He wears almost exclusively hand-me-downs. We bought nice baby stuff for the first kid and have not bought other stuff since--maybe an exersaucer because Little Toot is active. Toys? Check. Books? Check. Blankets? Check. Every baby thing ever needed? Check. Same with clothes all the way up to school age. I've bought an outfit here or there for him but mainly for fun. I think after one boy and one girl, the costs diminish because the initial investments have been made to a certain extent. For example, we bought an SUV with kid #2, we didn't need to buy another one for kid #3.

Another thing: some of the niceties we have bought we would have bought anyway. No kids: after making more money we would have bought a bigger house anyway, because we're greedy, materialistic Americans like everyone else. In fact, all that extra money would be going to investments or consumer goods. So it's not just a matter of "expensive kids", it's a matter of "expensive habits". The amount of money spent would be the same, it would just go different places--self-centered ones, rather than other-centered ones.

We must be more judicious in our activities--we don't go to ten baseball games a year. We go to one or two. We don't Jet Set all over all the time (although we do a fair bit of traveling), we pick our vacations and plan and anticipate. We rarely leave the kids. We don't have extended families supporting us. We're on our own. Childcare is expensive. Oh well! We better raise our kids right otherwise we will be living a claustrophobic, miserable experience of our own making.

Oh, and another thing! My personal experience is that I didn't get over my tight-assed perfectionism until Kid #3. The learning curve licked, my enjoyment and personal satisfaction has increased significantly. I've read all the research about depression rising for women with more than two children. True for some, no doubt. But I've experienced the opposite. My anxiety has decreased as my experience has increased.

Yes children can burn through money like souped up Hummers guzzle gas. But that reality just puts off the pessimists among us. The optimists have kids. What I see around me is that big-by-choice families are optimistic, abundant, joy-filled, imperfect social groups of their own making. They believe in life, themselves, God, and the future.

Altenative Therapies: UK "Eminant Physicians" Call It Hocus Pocus

Alternative Medicine in the UK is being debated as a subset of Socialized Medicine. The debate there is more intense because the government pays for everything. Traditional medical doctors are irritated that their fine services are even debated with Alternative Medicine. Why, Alternative Medicine is bunk, pure and simple. The lack of research proves it. The research that exists is sub-par. The gold standard of research is double blind studies. The gold standard for drug companies: medicines that can be patented.

Alternative Medicine will probably never enjoy the same religious standing as the hallowed halls of Medicine (at least with Medical Doctors). The approach is radically different. The difficulty with most Alternative Medicines? Double-blind studies are difficult (ever tried a pretend needle? or sham adjustment?). The results can't be patented. Since vitamins and minerals and herbs are food, they can't be patented. No money to be made. No research conducted.

While plenty of Traditional Medicine Docs hate Alternative Medicine in the U.S., they have a rougher time of it with patients, because the patients disregard their opinions and pay cash to see their Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, Massage Therapist, Naturopath or even Energy Healer. That makes it even worse! These other practitioners get cash while MDs are slaves to the government health care system and insurance. And if you think slavery is too strong a word, you haven't been in the double bind of wanting to help a patient, get paid nothing for it and having care managed by some pointy headed accountant or undereducated nurse somewhere.

What patients want is results. While traditional docs may loathe the touchy-feely, lack-of-stats treatments that many enjoy (much of it traditional medicine, btw), as long as people get results, they'll pay.

The great thing about being an Alternative Doctor is that I know, my husband knows, that if we don't produce results, people won't come back. We can't rely on guaranteed payments--insurance companies are very unkind to Chiropractors. The government is even worse. There is no insurance equality--that is, other practitioners get paid more for doing the exact same thing even though we have as much, and in some cases more education in the area.

Oh well... Life is tough all over. We help people. People get better and refer their friends. And people pay cash because they've tried all the stuff that should work and doesn't. Medical professionals and even some Alternative Docs swoon over statistics and double-blind studies. Most people are interested in what works. Clinical results are valid, too, even if they are only anecdotal.

While there is no shortage of people benefitting from and/or enduring drugs and surgery (traditional medicine has job security), there is also no shortage of peopld benefitting from and/or enduring alternatives. Why must Medical professionals insist upon their way or the highway? It couldn't possibly be market competition, could it? Nah.... It couldn't be that.

Not Enough Sleep Makes You Fat


Congress Searched: Me Thinks They Doth Protest Too Much

The Republican outcry over the search of scumbag Representative William Jefferson of Louisiana's Congressional office has me wondering. What else hides in that debauched palace? (I was going to say place, but it really is a palace.)

Come on, fellas! Any American can be searched for any reason if terrorism is suspected. Common citizens are violated daily just getting on airplaines. And don't get me started on the different agencies that can make a small business person's life hell: OSHA, IRS, HIPPA, ETC. Americans are hen-pecked to death by their own government.

Glenn Reynolds and his lawerly friends don't think that Congress has a leg to stand on, despite their threats that "this will end up across the street" [at the Supreme Court]. Puhleeeze.

The rest of Congress is probably peeing their collective pants right now wondering how to unobtrusively remove the evidence of their pay-offs, blackmail, kick-backs, bribes, and other nefarious schemes. They thought their badness was protected by "the separation of powers". Am I to understand that the U.S. President, His staff, all of Congress, their staffs and the Supreme Court members are all above the law? Am I to understand that if one of these people just happened to be a serial murderer and stashed the heads in the fridge in their office that they could claim "separation of powers"? Am I to understand that the Framers enacted the Constitution to create a whole specially protected class of citizens?

I'm no lawyer. But this whole think reeks to high Heaven. Arrogant idiots.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Iraq Revisionist History Debunked

Read Peter Wehner's piece in Opinion Journal about popular Iraq myths. Not that it will change anyone's mind. Facts rarely change anyone's opinions these days.

Media Failures During Katrina

Never in my personal history, has media coverage been so way off-base as during the post-hurricane Katrina coverage. Sensationalism, emotionalism, racism, and just plain ignorance substituted for fact-based news.

Instapundit revisits this issue and links to RealClearPolitics.

It just seems crazy that the press can be so self-congratulatory when outright lies were presented as truth. The amazing thing: that the press reports didn't foment more unrest than it did. The press achieved their goal though: fomenting hatred towards Bush--the cause of all natural disasters.

By the way, almost three years ago now, Pensacola and the Florida Panhandle got hit with a hurricane. The destruction did not even remotely approach what New Orleans has experienced yet a 100% recovery is still not accomplished. It takes years to rebuild, if rebuilding is even undertaken. I was amazed driving south of Miami to the Keys seeing large, flat swaths that Hurricane Andrew cleared that have never been rebuilt. When Houston was flooded five years back, a neighborhood close to ours was under water. Some houses are still uninhabited and probably will never have people living there again.

The issue regarding New Orleans has been and will continue to be political and emotional. While everyone moans and groans about the money "thrown away" on the war, wishing instead that it was spent in New Orleans (no mention of Mississippi which got it even worse), money can only support clean-up, planning and rebuilding. This can be done half-assed and with New Orleans, I expect it will. But if a little extra time, thought, consideration and planning occurs, the city has a better chance of actually surviving. No matter what, the process is slow and arduous.

It will take years, if not decades, to rebuild after such a disaster. Remember, the new Hurricane Season starts June 1. I fully expect New Orleans to be rained on this summer. More mold. More rot. The process will take time. NO has already pissed away Billions in taxpayer dollars. Money won't magically rebuild New Orleans. Hard work and people will.

Book Introduction: Get Healthy!

Hi Everyone. I'm adding a new feature to the blog today--a serial feature that I intend to turn into a book. The premise of this venture is practical: the other Dr. Clouthier and I would like to have a simple book describing what we do and what will help patients heal faster.

It's a huge transformation to travel from a medical model which emphasizes outside influences like viruses and medication and surgery to a holistic model which emphasizes inside influences like immunity and nutrition and alignment spiritually, emotionally and physically. We would like to help explain that transformation. More information equals more power. We want to give patients who transform into partners the power to succeed. Actually, they have always had the power to succeed, we just hope to help them recognize it and use it.

The book will start at what I consider to be the most important elements of health proceeding to less influential, but still very important, elements of health. Here's the thing though, like a bicycle tire, if your health has even a tiny hole letting air out, the whole tire is affected. A lot of people ignore the tiny holes that slowly sap the energy, vitality and happiness out of their life until they have complete blow-outs. We hope to avoid those blow-outs--to prevent them. In addition, we want to help you build a more aligned, stronger, healthier bike--one that can take a lickin' and keep working. We want to help our partners in health become vital, resilient and joy-filled people achieving their dreams and fulfilling their God-given potential. Yes, the goal is ambitious. Yes, the goal is challenging. The great thing? In the seven years we have practiced here, hundreds of people have achieved this very thing, so we know, without a doubt, that you can, too.

Yours in health,


P.S. The great thing about posting the serialized book on the blog is that you can participate in the content. Post your comments and ask any questions. I'll try to get them into the book somewhere along the way.

Monday, May 22, 2006

European-American Missle Defense Shield

Iran seems poised, depending on who you talk to, to become nuclear able soon--two months, two years, twelve years. Any day is too soon for the world.

The U.S., not inclined to "unilateral action" against Iran, waits while European nations dither about what to do. Well most countries dither.... Poland, a staunch U.S. ally, part of the "coalition of the willing", may soon have ten American missle defense shields up on the American base on Polish soil. Both Russia and the rest of "Old Europe" chafe at this situation. The Russians don't like the implications--that the U.S. and especially Poland view these benevolent neighbors as possible enemies. (Hmmm, I wonder why. They were so kind to Poland after WWII.)

The installation of 10 interceptors in Eastern Europe would have no significant ability to defend against Russia's sizable nuclear arsenal. American officials say that the Bush administration sought to assure the Russians that the system is not aimed at Moscow by keeping it informed about the recent visit by American officials to Warsaw. But the Russians are unhappy with the idea and have portrayed it as a step that would jeopardize cooperation between NATO and Russia, including on antimissile systems.

The development of an antimissile site in Poland would have a "negative impact on the whole Euro-Atlantic security system," Sergei Ivanov, the Russian defense minister, told a Belarus newspaper. "The choice of location for the deployment of those systems is dubious, to put it mildly."

In the meantime, the Bush administration has resumed its efforts to sound out support abroad. In early April, Pentagon and State Department officials visited Warsaw to renew discussions about the project, which has been talked about for years. American officials said the Polish government has been receptive.

"They asked us officially if we were still interested in discussing the issue," Poland's deputy foreign minister, Witold Waszczykowski, said last month. "Of course we said yes and we are awaiting details." Poland's defense minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, said recently that he has submitted questions for the Pentagon to answer before formal talks could be convened. Mr. Sikorski, who declined to be interviewed for this article, met in Washington with Mr. Rumsfeld last week to discuss an array of security issues.

The rest of Europe is in a nifty double bind of their own making.Europe despises the notion of the U.S. using some big, bad, bunker busters to blow up nuclear anything anywhere. Europe despises the notion of relying on the U.S. for some defense shield on their property even with warheads within range pointed at their pointy heads....sovereign socialist nations and all. Europe can't fathom the notion that really bad people might want to blow them into oblivian even when they are really, really, really nice to the "uninformed-not-bad" people.

What a pickle. Force is always bad. War is always bad. The U.S. is always bad. Capitalism is bad. Optimism is so banal. It's downright galling to be looking down the business end of the barrel, without the ability to defend oneself because one embraces "peace" (aka diplomacy, aka appeasement) and socialism and realism and sophistication.

Does Europe hope to "contain" Iran with American defense sheilds? The Iranians have mid-range missles after all and are quite a ways away from being able to reach America. Who exactly does Europe think will bear the brunt of the blackmail once Iran is so armed?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Mayor Nagin Wins!!!!!!!!

Ray Nagin, the chocolate mayor whose grace and vision during crisis will be the subject of management classes for decades, won by a 52 to 48 margin pulling 100% of the black vote and a significant crossover from the white population in north New Orleans.

"We are so excited about the election results," said a voting activist living in Houston. "Mayor Nagin demonstrated such amazing leadership skills over the last year that we expect amazing things in the future."

When asked why the resident wasn't living in New Orleans she said, "We're taking a wait and see approach. When it gets better, we'll move back."

When do you think that will happen? "Oh, ten or twenty years from now."

Instapundit thinks that NO will have burnt its last little bit of good will and rot in the semi-tropical sun. Brendan Loy actually thought accountability was part of politics in New Orleans. Brendan still has one year left of his law degree. You can forgive his naivite.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Iraq: Success Indicators & Concerns

Glenn Reynolds had a post regarding how things are going in Iraq. He referred to Amir Taheri's opinions about how things are going--good and improving is his bottom line. IraqtheModel has more to say about Iraq's current status.

The question is, are people leaving or coming back or both? Both, it seems. Read these links. They give more depth than the superficial blood and car bombs you see in the MSM.

Iraq Rocks to Richie

Who knew? Bagdad boogies to Lionel Richie ballads. It's all about love, says Richie, even though he was against the war. Evidently, Iraq's residents, unhappy about the impending invasion by American imperialists played "All Night Long" on loudspeakers. More evidence that the "Arab street" hates us.

Dixie Chicks Just Don't Get It

As reported by Reuters, The Dixie Chicks released their new album "Taking the Long Way" May 23rd. The first song “Not Ready to Make Nice” hit 36 and 32 on the Country and Rock stations respectively and is now riding to the bottom of the chart. The second single, "Everybody Knows" is languishing at 50 on the Billboard chart.

The groups lead singer peeved most of America (who listened to their albums) while touring in London, England professing her embarrassment to be from Texas, George W. Bush's home state. The London fans cheered. The group's American fans boycotted the group. Their new album, far from being even remotely conciliatory or better yet, moving on, stirs the hornets’ nest once again. For fans, the group’s views just don't fly, if you know what I mean.

During the controversy and for at least a year afterward, Hollywood and every liberal media institution gave the Chicks help. Yahoo Launch featured the Dixie Chicks for forever with old tunes. With all the new groups out there and Launch's demographic (not a ton of country fans) what were the Dixie Chicks doing there?

Whatever. The liberals loved their message. Even country stars like Vince Gill begged fans to be kind, "the girls are young and free to have their opinion." I didn't disagree with Vince. They are welcome to their opinion. When they howled about censorship, I had to laugh. Not buying someone's art is not censorship, ladies, its other people exercising their constitutional right to buy what they want or not buy what they don't want. I didn't see any Senators participating in public "Fly" burnings and banning the album for the moral good of the American people. That would be censorship.

Hey, I was willing to give them a pass. "Sin Wagon" is a great song--irreverent, ripping instrumentals, zippy rhythm. Fun. Even when singing about drowning an abusive SOB, "Earl", probably got a pass from the violence police, simply because the girls are cute and the tune is catchy. After they opined in England, I wanted to forgive them for being 1) cowardly--you don't level that kind of opinion offensive from the safety of Europe, for heavens sake 2) silly--embarrassed for being from Texas? Why not be embarrassed for being a woman--G.W. was birthed by a woman after all 3) naive--surely they must know their core consumer. It's never a good idea to antagonize your buyers since business tends to suffer.

They never backed down. They acted smug. They got attagirls from every vapid actor and musician confirming the surreal, narrow world in which they all float.

Then, they release an album full of pretentious pap. Pretentious is not fun. The Dixie Chicks might fancy themselves as important social commentators, but how can I say this nicely? Well, they're just not. Their stunning lack of self-awareness speaks volumes of their arrogance. They are not young women. They are adults and mothers. I would like to think they were raised better than to insult friends who hold different opinions than them. Would they pick a fight with someone who cares about them personally, at a dinner party because they hold different politics? Why would they do that and worse, to people who must actively choose to buy their narrative?

Do they hang around smug, self-congratulating, narrow-minded rubes confirming every little thought that pops through their heads? "Oh yes, Natalie, you are SO right! You should write a song! People would buy it. Everyone feels that way and just want someone to speak what we all feel."

Angry, snobbish, condescending people tend to not be fun to hang around. These emotions often interfere with beautiful art or even provocative art. Art needs a certain amount of intelligence, awareness, humility, humor or mystery to keep someone interested. The last element is most lacking with the Dixie Chicks. When they blabbed about their politics, they removed any mystery. They removed the fun. They added insults. In addition, they demonstrated the leading indicator of impending divorce: contempt. They continue to demonstrate their contempt for their partners in success. Clearly, they desire the relationship with their fans to end. The paperwork is all but signed.

Ladies, it's over.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Border Patrol Finds Weapons Cache

Over at Gateway Pundit, he discusses a weapons cache found at the border. Pipe bombs, IEDs, grenades.... What would those be used for I wonder. He mentions that Al Quaeda is linked with some Mexican drug/people smuggling rings. Nice. Doing jobs Americans won't do.

Jimmy Hoffa: Back from the Dead

Jokes abounded in Michigan about Hoffa's whereabouts. The usual suspect was under the Silverdome. Seems that the FBI has some credible evidence that the dead Teamster's bones are on a farm outside Detroit.

Some Southerners I know have told me that the Mafia doesn't really exist. Kinda like an urban legend. Oh really? Um, yeah they do.

Money Wasted on Unneeded Tests

Many unneccesary medical tests get order wasting millions in insurance, and ultimately, your money. Here's why:

  1. Doctors are no longer well versed in physical exams and use testing to diagnose (they should be used to confirm diagnosis).
  2. Doctors go on fishing expeditions when they can't figure the problem out and end up with lots of unuseful tests.
  3. Doctors get sued for missing something and so over-test to cover their arses.
  4. Patients demand testing not realizing more mundane methods work as well or better than the latest greatest test.
  5. Doctors and patients like testing--it's a gadget and it's fun.
  6. Doctors get paid to interpret testing. Their buddies get paid for doing testing. They sometimes have a financial stake in testing.
  7. Insurance companies pay for testing. They don't pay for more time with and thorough physical exams. This encourages testing and discourages time with the doctor.
Those are just a few reasons for testing overuse. The main problem is that consumers are shielded from the costs through insurance. If people had to pay fee for service, the best doctors, the best diagnosticians, would be in business and do very well. Patients would not be interested in spending $1500 for an unneccesary MRI when a $50 X-ray, or simple palpation would do. But patients/consumers are removed from costs so they are like kids in a candy store with medical testing. Doctors do little to discourage this because they fear being sued. Denying a patient his desired test and then finding out bad news makes for messy lawsuits.

In the end, no one is really happy. The high deductible plans will help change the system because people will be shelling out their hard earned dollars to pay for services. You can bet with the Internet and access to research, the consumers will be more educated and not so free with the greenbacks when they pay themselves. It's worked that way for our family.

Parent Trap: Part III Another Case Study

A funny thing happened this evening and it made me think of all the ideas around family size. Glenn Reynolds says he thinks that the social pressures inhibit bigger families. Based on this little experience today, I agree.

Our neighbor got robbed and so a worried 60-something neighbor came by to collect names and phone numbers. She feels the neighborhood is too disconnected and needs to "get off our butts and do something". "It's no good that we don't know each other," she lamented. Here I would agree. But in our defense, all but one neighbor on our cul-de-sac has lived here for less than a year and yet we all know each other. Ms. Neighbor lives down the street and we don't know her as well.

Anyway, I told her that the lot next door had been bought by a family with five children. The rest of us on the block are delighted. One neighbor has 5, the other two neighbors have two children a piece. All great families. All great kids.

"Well," she huffed, "time to sell! We have five bedrooms and four and half bathrooms and 4200 feet--good for a family (her husband just had quintuple bypass surgery and needs to live on one floor)."

She just breezed along through the rest of her rambling. Steve was peeved. I laughed. But she illustrated the point. Families are a menace! We wondered how all the children now inhabiting the neighborhood had influenced her at all. I couldn't think of one negative experience. Even the teenagers around are nice kids. She just didn't like kids. You should have seen her face when she heard the big family news. It was like she was smelling chicken manure for the first time.

And here's the best part: she's a children's author and artist. Ha!

Parent Trap: Part II

Instapundit again linked to a fantastic post at Szunping regarding Family Size. The author says:

Since we expect to be done living our own lives to some extent before having children, we are in essence saying we will live through our children. Their wellbeing and future are paramount to us, which really means we are elevating our children to unhealthy levels. They become projects because we feel so responsible for our choice to have them. This is where the classical music for the womb and SAT tutors come in. Plus we overprotect them because we think that is our job.

This trend is creating some weird results. The Wall Street Journal recently did an article about Mother’s Day. (Sorry, can’t find the link.) Many twenty-somethings are giving their moms self-improvement gifts. No, not a spa or cooking lessons for mom. These kids are signing themselves up for and getting their tattoos removed for Mother’s Day. I wanted to gag. The moms were actually quoted as saying they were happy with these “gifts”. Well, nice job raising these self-absorbed leeches! I do wonder if these kids used their own money for the “gifts”.

In any case, the point I wanted to make is that children used to be a given and now it’s a choice. The ramifications of that is fewer children overall but they’re extremely coddled. I have more to say, but we have to go to the supermarket before our camping trip tomorrow! Yay!

" it's a choice."

Is Female Contraception the silver bullet for reduced birthrates? After some reflection, her hypothesis seems right.

Birth control:
  1. Takes the consequences out of unprotected sex
  2. Removes men from the child equation
  3. Allows mom to delay--she gets her education, waits for the perfect mate
  4. A delay can mean less/no kids
  5. Reduces fertility in some forms
  6. Increases STDs reducing fertility
  7. Increases risky behavior--resulting in unplanned pregnancies (false sense of security)
  8. Unplanned pregnancies result in abortions
  9. Unplanned pregnancies result in single motherhood
  10. Supercedes church doctrine (families started to rationalize away church teachings--a father used to have to be willing to forgo sex a lot of the time to not create a child, so either big families or male misery or mistress--birth control solved his problem)
When these things happened and people had fewer kids by "choice" instead of by "nature" (remember the song "Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage?"), lots of societal changes followed.

Gotta go. Ballet and birthday presents!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

English As A First Language

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist posts about the bill making English the U.S. language. Given all the immigration assuming English is America's language is no longer self-evident it seems. Ah well....

Part of me wonders if this decision--having to make explicit America's culture as opposed to everyone possessing an understanding of our culture--doesn't signify the beginning of the end of America's vast influence. The French have had to be painfully obvious that French is the Lingua Franca--at least in France and at least when Chirac is speaking. Because France's influence in world events has diminished a lot of energy goes into preserving the culture instead of spreading and expanding the culture.

Da Vinci Code & Dogma

Yeah, I read it. I liked it, too. I know. Heresy. It falls into my least favorite literature category: Junk Food for the Mind.

Admit it. You read it, too, you're just not sayin' because your Christian brothers and sisters might raise an eyebrow at your base nature.

It's pure theological, biblical rubbish, of course. It's FICTION.

One question above all provides the religious titillation: Did Jesus Christ marry Mary Magdelene? Did they procreate? Another question provides the heresy: Is Jesus just a man? Nothing more. Not God. Not the Son of the Most High. Let me save you the research: No and yes, respectively. The last one, you'll have to take on faith, but so do all Christians.

Steve Bainbridge over at TCS Daily (via Instapundit)quotes C.S. Lewis (just happens to be my favorite Lewis quote):

Perhaps no one has ever captured the basic problem with the truth claims made on behalf of DVC and its ilk better than C.S. Lewis, who observed in Mere Christianity that:

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of thing Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

All Dan Brown, Ron Howard, Tom Hanks, and that whole crew have accomplished is getting richer by saying that "really foolish thing."

Amen Brother Lewis.

Why would I read a book that implied Jesus is not our Lord and Savior, you ask. I'll tell you why: Having grown up in a quasi-cult, taking negative reviews as rote doesn't sit well with me. That doesn't mean that every disgusting thing must be experienced to be understood. Hardly. But this book's author purported to present facts as authentic and true. And there were some interesting truths he included in the book mixed in with a lotta crazy. I won't go into them here.

Anyway, that's all I'll say about this controversy. If people were more well-versed Biblically, the churches wouldn't be so apoplectic. Weak minded, religion-lite and secularism has reduced theological knowledge to the very basics--the milk of the word. No one knows what the steak is, forget knowing how to cut it and "rightly divide it". The church fears that their people will be swayed by what would once have been considered outlandish nonsense. And maybe they will be swayed.

Whose fault is that?

Mexico: Revolucion

Crime. Corruption. Drug Lords. Officials on the take. Elite ruling class. Unemployment. Lack of education. Underclass.

Fear. Anger. Desperation.

Have you seen the musical Les Miserable or read the Victor Hugo novel set 100 years before the French Revolution? It is an instructive piece of literature about what creates the parts of a revolution. All that is lacking in Mexico--enraged college students taking up the plight of the common man.

Mexico teeters on the brink. If you think we have an influx of "guest workers" now, if societal unrest gets nuts, just wait.

I spoke of this concern before when blogging about the border problem. Some worry that a fence will encase Mexico like a hot tea pot that can no longer let off steam and cause an explosion.

Doubtful. The tea pot is nigh unto exploding without the fence and has been a long time brewing.

A revolution south o' the border would not be good for U.S. security amigo.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Birth Rate Decline: Discussing The Parent Trap

Reading the stats on Birth Rates in Europe, Italy and Spain fair the worst, while Germany isn't doing much better, and then hearing today about the birthrates in the United States (which is much better than in Europe but still only at 2.08 versus 2.1 needed for economic replacement value) causes concern. One wonders why people aren't having more kids.

Answers given at One Hand Clapping via Instapundit refering to Glenn Reynold's own Post at TCS Daily--The Parent Trap to the precipitous decline since the 50s include:

  1. Economics: a) kids cost too much and there is not return on investment b) kids used to help out on the farm but now kids are in the city and not needed to support the family
  2. Social: a) parental prestige is in the crapper (parents are held in contempt in some social circles) b) women are viewed as morons for not using their education when opting to raise children c) divorce is more common so makes couples shy about having a kid d) a variation on that theme (more convincing in my opinion) is that adult children of divorce are wary of putting a child through that catastrophe e) feminism stigmitized motherhood f) Baby Boomers are selfish pigs
  3. Society: a) schools make parents perform like circus monkeys to "prove" their interest in their child's education b) parents are expected to "enrich" their child's life by providing extracurricular activities c) government regulations reduce parental authority while increasing parental responsibility thus punishing parents d) Americans are gluttonous consumers and more children takes from the fat little hands e) crime, or fear of crime, intereferes with childhood freedom forcing parents to do more e) separating sex from child birth with the Pill and other forms of birth control
  4. Religious: a) People just don't see it as their moral duty to have kids b) People don't worry that they'll be judged by their neighborhood Catholics (the Mormons still do this) as less spiritual for only producing one kid or two--must have at least three, preferably four to prove your commitment to the Church c) People don't practice their religious mandates at chastity and have sex before marriage using birth control
All these things contribute to a declining birthrate. I agree with Glenn when he says:

But Gibson's slogan unwittingly captures an important aspect of the problem, in the United States and other industrial societies, at least: We've taken a lot of the fun out of parenting. Or to echo Longman, the "social costs" of parenting continue to rise, and, more significantly, perhaps, the "social returns" continue to decline.

The "social costs" far outweigh the financial costs in my mind. I cannot tell you the internal torment I've endured trying to balance career and motherhood. Having worked all my adult life before parenthood, there is no way to quantify my unease about not contributing economically to my family. No, correct that, not fully supporting myself, and possibly, my children. My mom (an early Boomer) repeated as a mantra "make sure you can work--you never know what is going to happen." The unsaid words: Look at me, my relationship sucks and I'm stuck because my economic survival means staying married to this idiot, aka your dad. This mantra hit home hard. My parents had a crappy marriage and I never wanted to have to stay married to a jerk. So, I can support myself. Very nicely, thank you. But when we got pregnant with twins, when they came early and when I took one look at them and contemplated leaving them for a second (which I couldn't do anyway--no daycare would take a kid on oxygen and meds and weighing 4 1/2 pounds at five months old), I freaked out! Money be damned! I'll eat dirt so I can stay with this baby.

In our modest new home, a woman neighbor, not realizing I was a doctor, condescendingly told me that I "might enjoy hanging out with her nanny who was at home" while she, the neighbor, worked as an Electrical Engineer. "That would be nice," is all I said. One day, a piece of my mail got in her mailbox. She saw: Dr. Melissa Clouthier on the letter. When she brought it to me, she sheepishly said, "You're a doctor? I knew your husband is, but you're a doctor? Why don't you work?" I told her that we traded a bigger house, a new car, going out to dinner, etc. because we really valued the kids having me at home with them. "Well, I really like having two brand new Izuzus," she quickly retorted, half-heartedly, I thought. Three years and a nervous breakdown later, she stays home with her two kids.

More recently, when we decided to have another child, my pastor gave me pastorly advice: "Well, Melissa, just be careful about having lots of kids. It might not seem so now, but when they get older, the in-style shoes become very important." Whaaaat? First, aren't pastors supposed to be pro-big families? Second, when did three kids become a "big family"?

Add that weird comment, to weird family comments like, "Where is Little Toot going to sleep?" "Will you be using the guest bedroom for Little Toot's room?" NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I will not! Argh! Since when did it become a crime for children to share rooms? All they do is sleep there for heaven's sake. They have a playroom which is more than I had when I grew up. My kids would all love to sleep in the same room. They HATE sleeping alone. They get lonely. They want company. In fact, if they had their way, the kids would all sleep on sleeping bags in our bedroom ala Indians in a Tee Pee.

Here in Texas, a law was proposed about strapping everyone under the age of 40 into a car seat. The Hispanic population had a fit. They have big families and must shove people into the back seat, into the bed of their pick-up trucks etc. THANK GOD they prevailed! I'm sick of all the government rules like this.

Parental double-binds abound. For example: My Divine Diva decided that she didn't want to accompany me into Dilliards Dept Store for shoe shopping after we had spent the afternoon meeting her consumer needs. She threw a fit. Store patrons, "tsk, tsk'd" at my little brat. (She is normally well-mannered but was having a bad day.) Okay, I said to the Diva, "We'll go." We went to the parking lot, I looked around suspiciously and prayed security cameras didn't catch her well deserved spanking. (She has been spanked maybe three times in her life. But you know kids, they don't pick perfect places for "teaching moments" and if I hadn't dealt with her firmly then, every other public place would be free game for fit-throwing.) She also had shopping privileges reneged for a while. But you see? I was damned either way. People want children to be little adults, perfectly behaved (like all adults are, right?), and never a nuisance. People also don't want parents to discipline, or speak harshly, or even make a mean face to the rotten little tyke, either. So you see annoying parents indulging their future psychopath and you see annoying parents that act nigh unto abusive and downright crazy trying to contain rage and not beat the kid so they pinch, grab, pull and threaten which can be more dangerous and worse than an old-fashioned spanking on the back-drop of crystal clear boundaries.

A girlfriend of mine is 47 and has three children ranging from 7 to 16. Not one of her close childhood friends is married. A couple are gay. One is living with his girlfriend. The rest are single. She has no support and no girlfriends to hang around. She lives just north of New York City. All her friends jet set and don't ask her to join them anymore. (She couldn't anyway with such short notice.) All her friends live with perfect furniture, "pieces", antiques, sharp and dangerous-to-kid things. She is like some freak anomoly. She is well-educated and works full-time. And still, it is as if she isn't a REAL person in that circle. She lowered herself to have kids. Weird.

Where I live, on the other hand, should make all population decline-fearing people relax a bit. Conservative, Bible-loving Christians around here take the admonition to "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth" very literally. The more fundamental Christians firmly believe that children are a blessing. They feel society is going down the toilet anyway, and don't give a Da Vinci Code what "worldly" people think. They travel in supportive circles. They are not uneducated hicks. The men and women are highly educated, economically-advantaged and "purpose-driven." These are the communities of people that make liberals shudder. They are independent, literate, they vote and they're breeding.

Case Study A:
In one of my kid's public school class, there are six kids in the best readers group. Here are some interesting observations: they all have very educated parents, they all have mothers at home by choice, they all have at least three children in the family--three of the kids come from families of four, they are all the best behaved, most attentive and best socialized children in the class. None of them are overweight or sickly. All the children in the big families of four were nursed for at least a year each (I did some stealth research) some, including mine, for longer. None of the children spent one day in Day Care. Most of the children went to some sort of Mother's Morning Out or Pre-School at the ages of three and four, some a little earlier. The mothers started their families in their mid-to-late twenties after education and working a while. None were teenage parents or married as teenagers.

Case Study B:
At the local Christian dance studio, the place teems with Home Schooled children. I have three friends with five, four and four children. The school is relatively racially diverse with Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and Caucasians. The parents are all highly educated and economically well-off. Few of the moms work outside the home. None of the children were in Day Care. Most never went to a Mother's Morning Out program or even Pre-School. All of the moms nursed their kids for at least six months. These parents are VERY dedicated. They drive miles to join other families in sports and service activities. Home School ain't what it used to be. These families are busy, socially connected and educationally enriched. In this environment, it feels positively unAmerican to have only one or two kids. The ladies, while tired at times, look great and enjoy motherhood. The fathers are very involved, too. Many are self-employed entrepeneurs. They take risks, they are optimistic, hopeful, filled with faith--in God, country and family. They believe and live traditional values. They feel "lead by the Lord" to fill-in-the-blank. As a northerner (from Michigan) this kind of talk is a shock. These kind of families are not shocking, though. I grew up in a middle/working-class Catholic neighborhood. These families are normal. What passes for normal now, is not normal.

I'm having to be deprogrammed from my unhappy childhood years and years spent in undergrad and grad school in narcisstic California and New York. I aspire to be like these humble, happy Texas families. They are not angst-ridden, selfish nihilists wasting away their child-bearing years trying to find themselves. They are happy, committed, determined and bolstered by their faith. They love children. They don't view them as a drain on their investments. They view them as gifts from God.

My husband had a good comment about the belief systems involved with having fewer or more children. It is very difficult, he said, to have big families when you start out at 38 and through IVF or Clomid try to get pregnant. This comes, usually, after working for years, making your mark and finding that corporate life ain't everything. Women can self-soothingly excuse themselves from the 9-5 world--"I've done all I could. I now see that there is so much more." The child is a cherry on top of the narcisstic banana split. All the ambition, determination and drive can be focused on the baby as extension of mother and father. The baby is not it's own entity. Of course, not every woman or man can procreate exactly when they want to, either. Some find true love late in life and that prevents more children. My friend suffered this fate. What could she do short of adopting as a single mom?

It seems that many people who plough through their 20s and 30s, the time when parents a generation ago were having and raising their children, as a sort of trial and error experiment. Like this industry. Like this job. Like him. Like her. Don't like this role. Don't like this city. Don't like him. Don't like her. Okay this feels right. He feels right. I'm tired of the single life (NOT marriage is a better institution or the best way). I'm tired of my life lacking meaning (NOT faith and fellowship builds a great life and community). I'm tired of me being the only thing (NOT families and children add dimension and maturity to life). Getting married and having a family is the last resort after trying everything else and coming up wanting. Sometimes the kid thing is too late. A lot of money and regret spawns crazy behavior among the 40-something crowd.

Contrast this Scientific Method (Secular Humanistic) life view with the Christian life view where marriage and religious belief, church and God are the default positions--the backdrop upon which life is lived. Many Christians, myself included, find shows like Sex and the City funny, but not for the reasons the writers necessarily intended. These girls endure empty sex, STDs, abortions, betrayal, live-in loves, and hangovers. They enjoy fabulous shoes, clothes, jobs, apartments (ha! talk about artistic license--at their salaries their apartments are hardly realistic), museums, art openings, and trendy restaurants as if us old, pathetic married people don't enjoy these things either. We still do, but not as much or as often. It is the rare parent though, who would exchange her child's smile for a glimpse of a fabulous Van Gogh.

The married Christian couple and family, too, can enjoy all the fun things without enduring the garbage that these sexy, single people do. I never loved fabulous shoes or clothes. But I like fabulous architecture and art and museums and innovative food. I enjoy photography and literature. I enjoy my job outside the home. News flash! Even as a dumpy old mom, I can still see art and read a good book. My life did not suddenly become devoid of meaning once marriage and children entered my life.

Parenthood is portrayed as some sort of step down, some compromise with a fully-fleshed out, sophisticated life. Some parents secretly reveal this belief by making their child's childhood this sophisticated, overly-indulgent, adultified job. Dressed like a junior executive, serious as a heart-attack, the only child/children fulfill objectives (mostly their parents unfinished business agendas from their childhood) in hermetically sealed lives.

Western men and women must actively overcome the anti-marriage and anti-children bias' either through conviction of faith or personal conviction. Big families receive extra societal contempt. Wide-eyed people wonder at a woman being able to handle that many kids. Everyone thinks silently of Andrea Yates. Women are viewed as abused sell-outs. Men are portrayed as abusive, enslaving cretins filled with misogyny for doing that to a woman.

Is it any wonder people have only one or two kids or no children at all? Since having kids does drain the bank account, why suffer the social stigma on top of it? Not to mention parenting, as mentioned above, has been made into one big, complicated pain in the ass by those who know better than you and me. What a hassle! Why bother?

Smart men and women contribute to society through their meaningful work (not children--children are a drain on society). They travel. They are worldly, urbane, intelligent and self-sufficient. They buy a house on the beach or a pied a terre in New York or London or Paris. They wear Gucci and Prada and black sunglasses. They eat Sushi and drink at Martini Bars. They host dinner parties with artists and authors and business titans. They do Pilates and Yoga and work out with their personal trainers. They visit the Bilbau. They take adventure vacations. They drive their BMWs and Porches. They co-habitate. They have sexual experiences. They go to Symposia hosting the Dalai Lama. They are "spiritual not religious". They consult their past-life guides and astrologists. They confess to their Psychiatrist. They kvetch over their double lattes.

They do not have children. And they most certainly do not change poopy diapers. Most. Certainly. Do. Not.

And if, by some accident, a child does enter their life.... baby travels, wears Prada, eats Sushi, rides in a very expensive, well-made European uber stroller being pushed by a Botoxed, size 5, 45 year old new mom. Tres chic! Baby, the ultimate fashion statement. (The latest Harper's Bazaar demonstrates this sentiment quite overtly with a full spread on pregnant mom couture. The models hold babies or show off baby-filled bellies.)

Does America have a cultural divide? Um. Yeah. But the trends at the coasts and in Europe tend to predate the spread to middle America. We can hope that the anti-parent, anti-child trend doesn't reach Red State America, too, but if my experiences are an indication, it's already here even though a good bunch of people are bucking it.

Children represent hope in the future. They demonstrate a desire on the behalf of the populace to actively continue the culture--a culture good enough to bring a child into. While children now represent an economic loss, rather than gain (although I think this idea could be debated--kids can support parents in their elder years and still do directly and indirectly), a child can never be viewed in strictly economic terms--although I'm afraid many people view them just that way. This utilitarian belief system can be at odds with the Judeo-Christian belief system.

Americans, like Europeans, will have to decide if society is worth continuing and if they're willing to sacrifice some material gain for society's future. Choosing to have children demonstrates their answer to those questions.

Depression Alleviated by Botox? Chiropractic Works...So Why Not?


A doctor decided to treat ten patients in his practice with Botox (botulinum toxin) to see if their depression lifted when the frown muscles were paralyzed. His theory was that if the biochemical feedback loop was interrupted, perhaps depression would be interrupted, too. It worked on 9/10 patients. Interesting.

The mini study, more like anecdotal evidence, makes sense. When we smile, happy chemicals flow through the brain. When we frown, unhappy chemicals flow through the brain. We can CHANGE our mood by forcing our faces to change. Why not use Botox? It's less invasive than a psychotropic like Prozac or Paxil (which by the way, cause suicide in some young people... CAUSE suicide).

Chiropractic works in a similar way. Have you ever seen a depressed person? She shuffles along, staring at her feet, doesn't make eye contact. Have you ever seen someone with severe low back pain? He shuffles along, staring at his feet and doesn't make eye contact. Both moan and groan. Both feel achy all over. Both lack energy. In fact, from a distance, it is difficult to tell the difference between the two.

Chiropractic patients walk into the office all sad and shuffling. Chiropractic patients walk out of the office smiling and moving with purpose. It never ceases to amaze me after all these years. People love being adjusted. They feel great. They stand taller. The sqare their shoulders. They feel strong, aligned and balanced.

Chiropractic is even less invasive than Botox. Like Botox, it isn't a direct depression treatment, but the results of reduced nervous system interference and smoothed energy often result in lifting depressive feelings.

In addition, there are mind-body therapies like Neuroemotional Technique that work on this very premise: Physiology IS Emotions. When the body changes the mind changes. When the body is optimally functioning the mind is freed to optimally function, too. (I know plenty of people in perfect shape and vital health who manage to be unhappy but not too many.)

Depression is as complicated and unique in its expression as there are people who have it. For those who try antidepressants but find that they fall short, try Chiropractic. You might be surprised how aligning your spine aligns your mind.