Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Yes we have no mammograms

Yes, I know, another video instead of a post, and you've probably seen it, but on the chance you haven't, you need to before Youtube pulls it.

So where do you think our $350,000,000 a year in tax dollars goes (aside from the $105,000,000 that Planned Parenthood kicked back to the campaigns of politicians who support it)?

End abortion fast

Remember the TV show Kung Fu? I guess you're not an old fogey like me. It was about a Shaolin monk named Caine as he wanders around using kung fu. At the beginning of every episode they showed him training. The "graduation" consisted of him picking up an iron brazier filled with burning coals with his forearms. The heat branded symbols into his forearms. The point of the exercise was (presumably) to show how he was willing to suffer for his commitment to his kung fu.

Catholics are all about suffering. Not that we like it or anything, but we treat it differently from Caine or any other religion or philosophy. Suffering is not seen as something to be avoided but as a way of participating in the work Christ did. Thus, when we give things up for Lent it is not just a reminder of what Jesus did, or an issue of becoming holy by gaining self discipline (like Caine). We actually can help Christ save the world by uniting our puny penances with the infinite penance that God performed in becoming a man and dying on the cross for our sins.

My friend Christie is going a step beyond Lent and doing something courageous. She has written about it in her post "But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting". The title comes from the Gospel of Matthew 15:14-21.
When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. "I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him."

And Jesus answered and said, "You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me." And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once.

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not drive it out?"
And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."
Here we see Jesus affirm that evil can be fought through prayer and fasting. Sacrifice isn't just something to make us feel holy, or to demonstrate our commitment to a cause, it has an effect on the real world. Christie recognizes this, and is using it to help end the evil of abortion. In her words...
My dear friend, Rozanne, will be praying and fasting every Wednesday in order to open the hearts of these mothers to the alternatives to abortion. I will be praying and fasting every Thursday to help heal the women who got on that bus because they felt they had no other choice.
Check out the rest of her post. I think what she and her friend are doing is brave, and powerful. I am giving up lunch on Wednesdays and instead going to pray at an abortion clinic. Would you join us? Would you sacrifice something to end abortion?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Number 5 is pro-life!

The new non-invasive genetic testing for down syndrome and other genetic anomalies are wonderful in that they can be performed with less risk to the child than current tests. However, some are rightfully worried that it will lead to aborting more down syndrome children, and lead to abortion for other "defects." Today a "defect" can be anything the parents don't desire, including various diseases, girls and even intelligence. Take this article, for example: "Oxford Ethicist says keep clever embryos, destroy the Rest".
Human embryos should be screened for their potential intelligence and only the smartest allowed to live, an Oxford University ethicist has argued.

In shocking remarks, Prof Julian Savulescu says embryos that do not pass the intelligence test should be destroyed for the good of society.
Shocking yes, but it is already routinely done in IVF procedures, where doctors choose which embryos will be implanted and which will be killed based on their genetic characteristics. It's only a short step from there to "the master race."

I had this on my mind the other night while I watched the movie "Short Circuit" with the kids. If you haven't seen it, it is the story of an experimental military robot named "Number 5" that gets struck by lightning, becomes alive, and goes out into the world to make its way. Its makers pursue Number 5 to destroy it before the "malfunction" can put the company in a bad light. I hadn't seen the movie in years (I was never a big fan, but my wife loves it), but as I watched it I realized it has a profound pro-life message. Yes, beneath all the kitsch, and shouting "no disassemble", Number 5 actually has something to say. He repeats the message over and over - "Life is not a malfunction."

I think it's something we all need to remember, especially in cases like down syndrome, Leigh syndrome, or any other "malfunction." Life is not a malfunction. Destroying it is not the cure.

Monday, March 28, 2011

My first poll

Paul has an animal in his attic. He has not seen said animal. And so I have created my first poll ever. Please look over on the right sidebar, and vote for what kind of animal you think is up there. Voting ends Friday at noon. The winner(s) will win either the people's love and admiration forever, or have the appropriate animal installed in their own attic. While you're voting, check out Catholic Preachy and Sober Catholic.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fukushima in perspective

Worried about the claims that radiation levels are thousands or even millions of times normal at the Fukushima reactors? Do pray for the people of Japan (and not just those living by the reactors, but all those affected by the disaster), but don't be too alarmist. This XKCD chart shows the numbers in perspective. Click on the chart for a version you can actually read.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Do you deserve freedom if you support slavery?

My (and I'm ashamed to admit) senator, Frank Lautenberg this week disappointed me yet again. I already wrote about the stupidity of my other senator, Robert Menendez, and now it's Lautenberg's turn. But this is more than stupid, it's anti-life, anti-woman and anti-American. Watch the video and be outraged.

The outrage for me not just because he claims we don't deserve freedom, but "they'll give it to us anyway" but more because of what he's standing there fighting for my tax dollars to go support, which is in the following videos. You see, Frank Lautenberg wants to directly support, with my tax dollars, an organization that supports child rape and human trafficking, and they do it knowingly, and he supports them knowing that they do it.

If this bothers you, you can contact him here.

H/T Michelle Malkin and Proud Parents of Staten Island. Sorry for posting so many videos.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Misconceptions about pro-lifers

If you read news stories or blogs outside the pro-life arena, you'll find that there are a lot of misconceptions about what the being pro-life means. I thought I'd set the record straight. Here for your enjoyment and edification are 10 myths about pro-lifers.

1. Pro-lifers believe life begins at conception.

No, we do not believe that; we know it begins at conception. two hundred years ago it was true that pro-lifers believed life began at conception. Since then, science has shown us, through technologies like DNA analysis and ultrasound that we were right. At conception (meaning fertilization) a new human life begins. Also check out this blog post for references. The thing we believe is that all human life is worthwhile.

2. Pro-lifers are against stem cell research.

We are in favor of stem cell research. We are against the methods used to obtain embryonic cells used for certain types of research because they destroy a human life (see #1). All other forms of stem cell research are just fine, and embryonic stem cell research would be fine too, if the cells could be obtained without costing lives.

3. Pro-lifers are against science.

We are in favor of science. Science proves our case for us (see #1 again).

4. Pro-lifers don't care about women, only about fetuses.

We care equally about both. If it sometimes appears we focus more on the unborn it's because fewer people are trying to kill adult women, and they can speak in their own defense. It is pro-lifers that support adoption agencies, pregnancy centers, and help women who have financial problem. We also help post-abortive women deal with problems the pro-choicers can't admit exist.

5. Pro-lifers are pro-death penalty.

While we agree that all innocent life should be protected, there is room for disagreement about whether or not one can forfeit one's life by committing a crime. Thus you will find that some pro-lifers are in favor of the death penalty while others are staunchly against it. The two issues are not necessarily related.

6. Pro-lifers are religious nuts.

There is no requirement to hold a particular religion or any religion at all. While the Catholic church and some other religious groups hold to the sanctity of life, one can come to a pro-life position through logical reasoning alone, without recourse to any religious beliefs.

7. Pro-lifers hate gays.

There is no official position in the pro-life movement on homosexuality. You can be gay and pro-life. There are no doubt some fringe groups who are anti-gay, as there are anti-anything people in a large enough segment of the population. Certainly the pro-lifers who follow Catholic doctrine are not anti-gay, as the Catholic church is not (despite claims of its detractors).
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative to U.N. addressed the Human Rights Council March 22, telling it that the Vatican affirms "the inherent dignity and worth of all human beings" and condemns "all violence that is targeted against people because of their sexual feelings and thoughts or sexual behaviors."
8. Pro-lifers are violent.

While there may be nuts out there who resort to violence, there is no pro-life group that condones or permits its members to use violence. Despite pro-choicers' claims that George Tiller's murder was pro-life, there is no evidence linking him to any pro-life group and the killing was roundly denounced by every pro-life group out there. On the other hand, violence against pro-lifers goes unreported (ever hear of Jim Poullion?) and pro-choice groups are silent on the issue. The site abortion violence documents over 8,500 cases of violence by pro-choicers, including over 500 murders.

9. Pro-lifers want to restrict women's freedoms.

Quite the contrary. We want women to have the freedom to live, grow, speak and enjoy life as they please, including those women who are not yet born. It is pro-"choicers" who believe that rights can be taken away from some people, and in doing so wind up trampling the rights of women to choose life anyway, and fostering violence against women.

10. Pro-lifers are all bitter old people, and the movement is dying out with them.

There are pro-lifers of all ages. In fact, polls show a higher percentage of young people are pro-life than their parents' generation. As for the movement going away guess again. The Catholic church has been pro-life for 2,000 years. The pro-"choice" movement is the upstart, tracing its roots back to people like Margaret Sanger. If anything is transient, it is.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spoiling the bunch

I wrote several posts about Apple's censoring of the iPhone app for the Manhattan project. Now history is (possibly) repeating itself with the Exodus International app. Exodus International is a non-denominational Christian ministry to offer support and resources for people with same sex attraction who want to live chaste lives.

A gay group has started a petition and vowed to hold protests outside of Apple headquarters unless they remove the app. They have also flooded the app's entry in iTunes with hundreds of negative reviews along the lines of the following:
Be Aware! Dangerous Anti-Gay App - Feb 28,2011

This is hate-based initiative of the fanatical religious right intending to brainwash and emotionally destroy gay and lesbian people by coercing them to hate themselves based on their natural sexual orientation.

Their methods include kidnapping, discredited notions that being anything other than heterosexual is "unhealthy" and "harmful", extreme and out-dated social ideas that cause suicide and lasting psychological damage...
Note that this was posted the day the app became available. With reviews sorted by "helpfulness" (as measured by the reviewers) I had to wade through 10 pages of vitriol before I came to the first positive review of the app.
Just so I'm clear - Mar 20, 2011

So if a person experiences unwanted attraction to the same-sex, they don't have a right to seek help.

Funny, nothing about Exodus expressed hatred toward gays. It exists solely to help people who WANT TO BE HELPED.

How dare you people accuse this group of hatred. They are providing support and help TO THOSE WHO WANT IT. If you're gay and proud, fine! But don't force your ideology on someone who doesn't WANT to be gay. If they want help in overcoming same-sex attraction, they should be allowed a place to go.

That place is Exodus.
It was another 10 pages before I found a second positive review. On the very last page (page 93) of reviews is the following:
Wonderful Resource for those who are interested. - Mar 14, 2011

In all my experience with Exodus, I have never been demanded to live or think a certain way. That freedom of choice has always remained my own, and I have always been supported. My friends at Exodus wake up each day with one goal though their organization 0 and that is to offer support and love to other people, gay identified, struggling, or those who have chosen to walk away from that lifestyle, and to honor them through grace and love as God calls us all to live. There is no hidden agenda or harmful goal. This is an app that I am proud to have and thankful that it has been created, It will certainly be one that I recommend to others who I believe can benefit from it and find it useful.
I downloaded the app, to see what it was about (it is a free app), and found it to be mostly a statement of intent and wrappers for web pages served by the Exodus International site. There was nothing I could find that said anything disparaging about homosexuals or homosexuality.

Exodus responds
“In no way shape or form is our message about trying to cure or do we try to promote that type of methodology or message,” Jeff Buchanan, Exodus International’s Senior Director of Church Equipping & Student Ministries, told The Christian Post.

“This is a label (gay cure app) that has been put forth by opponents to the application to serve as propaganda in order to stigmatize and really label the application in a false way and provoking a response such as you are seeing with the application.”
and Forbes has an article which is rather interesting.
At the risk of putting myself at the center of a firestorm of disapproval, I have to say that what I viewed and read on the Exodus app was not hate speech but simply the expression of religious beliefs with which I, and many other people, disagree.

Exodus International appears to be a non-denominational religious organization that believes homosexuality is a sin. It also promotes the idea that this sin can be relieved by establishing a spiritual relationship with Jesus.

At this point, all we can do is wait and see how Apple will respond. Given their claim that the Manhattan Declaration was "hate speech" for affirming the sanctity of all human life, I don't have high hopes. I guess my next phone will be an android.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Land of the free

Just a quick note - I was struck by the juxtaposition of these two articles.

In secularized, post-Christian Europe we have
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Italian public schools can continue to display crucifixes in classrooms, providing a final resolution to a case that had sparked concern about aggressive secularism on the continent.

...In a summary of the Grand Chamber's March 18 ruling, Court Registrar Erik Fribergh explained that the judges had found “nothing to suggest that the authorities were intolerant of pupils who believed in other religions, were non-believers or who held non-religious philosophical convictions.”
...and in the land of the free, we have
TOLEDO, Ohio - An architect is removing a design element from a new elementary school that looked liked the Christian cross.

"I actually have not noticed a cross," said Mona-Mae Mitchell. "Is that a light pole?"

Some have never noticed the design at the Toledo Public Schools' new Beverly Elementary School construction site at the corner of Glanzman Road and Detroit Avenue, the former location of old Bowsher High School.

Others say the designs look like Christian crosses.

..."I was also surprised to be honest with you that these looked like crosses," Gant added. "I appreciate the concern that was brought up and it does look that way and we need to be careful about that process of what we're doing. It's a legitimate concern, and it was not the intended design."

Sunday, March 20, 2011

An open letter to my governor

Here is a letter I just wrote to Governor Chris Christie. Please read the letter, follow the links, and consider writing your own letter. The governor can be contacted at
Dear Governor Christie,

It was with shock that I read this story, which happened here in New Jersey, at St. Barnabas Hospital. A mother was charged with abuse for not consenting to a C-section and her baby daughter was taken from her. Five years later, despite a NJ Superior court ruling last year in their favor, the child has yet to be returned to her parents.

Assuming this story is accurate, I am disgusted that such a thing could happen in our state. Please take whatever action is necessary to correct this injustice and reunite a family as soon as possible.

The stories mentioned can be found at



How's that Lent thing going for you?

Lent is a time of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Lent draws us closer to God and prepares us for the mysteries of Easter. And every year I look forward to Lent - it is one of my favorite times. Some years I have had fantastic spiritual experiences during Lent.

Not this year. Instead of being a time for slowing down and reflecting on my life, this year Lent has been marked by extra stress, extra work; broken commitments and missed opportunities. Instead of stepping up my commitment to life through 40 Days for Life, I have had various conflicts that have caused me to do less than ever. My prayer life has been rushed and hollow, when I haven't been too tired to pray at all.

In fact, the only thing that has gone "as planned" this Lent is the Great Adventure Bible Study I am taking, and although it's wonderful, and I highly recommend it, it's a minor part of my life, being 1.5 hours once a week. so for the most part I'd biding my time, trying to hang on until something changes.

So how is Lent going for you? I hope it's better than mine.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Are nukes safe?

With the threat of nuclear "meltdown" adding to the troubles in Japan, and even more so adding to the worries of the US, I've been thinking about nuclear power. Darwin Catholic has a lot of good links and information on his site today. The question that people seem to be debating (and have been for a long time) is should we use nuclear power in light of its safety record.

I found a document (Comparative Assessment of Natural gas Risks) online about the safety of various means of energy production. The aim of the paper is to demonstrate the safety of natural gas vs. other power sources, so we should keep that in mind. However, it does present a rather complete analysis of data across a wide range of power sources. Here is a summary of some of the raw data, from 1969 through 2000. The data includes "severe" accidents that resulted in one or more of the following:

1) at least five fatalities or
2) at least ten injured or
3) at least 200 evacuees or
4) extensive ban on consumption of food or
5) releases of hydrocarbons exceeding 10’000 t or
6) enforced clean-up of land and water over an area of at least 25 km2 or
7) economic loss of at least five million USD(2000).

Whenever any one of the above criteria is satisfied, the accident is considered to be severe. Here are the numbers presented.

Natural Gas1592,273

(a) Including China
(b) Banqiao and Shimantan dam failures together caused 26,000 fatalities
(c) Latent fatalities are treated separately.

By these criteria, nuclear is extremely safe. However, as noted the table does not include latent fatalities. Here's what they have to say about latent fatalities:
The presence of nuclear in these tables is primarily due to the Chernobyl accident, with a contribution from the Three Mile Island (TMI) accident to the economic losses and evacuation. Estimates of latent fatalities and latent cancers are only available for the nuclear chain for which they are of particular relevance. Delayed fatalities are likely to have occurred for the other chains with no records available; their significance per accident should, however, be incomparably smaller in comparison with the Chernobyl accident.
Later in the paper nuclear latent fatalities are given as 33,000. No figures for latent fatalities from other sources are given. This presents a dilemma. One can't compare the technologies' relative safety without all the data. Not including latent fatalities, nuclear is clearly the safest energy source there is. Including latent fatalities for only nuclear energy make nuclear look bad, but we don't know what the numbers would be for other technologies. For instance, how many people die of latent effects of chemical exposure in an oil accident?

Adding to the uncertainty is the assumption that these technologies do not result in deaths when they are working properly. For instance, should we include black lung deaths to be latent deaths from coal generation, even though they aren't associated with an accident?

In the case of nuclear, there are additional issues. The number of latent fatalities is itself a hotly disputed subject. Claims for deaths from Chernobyl range from 4,000 to 500,000. According to the IAEA's (International Atomic Energy Agency) publication "Ten Years After Chernobyl":
Compared with other nuclear events: The Chernobyl explosion put 400 times more radioactive material into the Earth's atmosphere than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima; atomic weapons tests conducted in the 1950s and 1960s all together are estimated to have put some 100 to 1,000 times more radioactive material into the atmosphere than the Chernobyl accident.
They also note that the design flaws of the Chernobyl reactor have been fixed in other reactors.
The most serious deficiencies in other operating RBMK reactors are being addressed through safety upgrades. Between 1987 and 1991, a first stage of upgrading was performed on all RBMK units to eliminate the design deficiencies which contributed to the Chernobyl accident, to improve shutdown mechanisms and heighten general safety awareness among staff. There are plans for further safety improvements.
So, should Chernobyl be counted? Nuclear reactors aren't designed and built that way anymore, and the ones that were built that way have been improved, so the failure that occurred there shouldn't in theory be possible anywhere else. On the other hand, it can be argued that all technologies improve over time and if we exclude that event we should exclude events from all technologies that were not up to the latest safety standards. That would leave us with virtually no data to work with, and that would be skewed by the current state of the art in that field.

So I worked the numbers both ways - with and without nuclear latent deaths, and using the estimates in the original article of 33,000 latent deaths from Chernobyl. Understand that the truth lies somewhere between the two sets of figures.

Lastly, there is disparity in the number of deaths because some technologies are more prevalent than others. The following table shows fatalities per GWeyr (fatalities per Gigawatt of electricity years). This is IMHO a more meaningful number than just fatality numbers, because it takes into account the fact that more electricity is generated by coal and oil than hydroelectric and nuclear.

Fatalities per GWeyr
Natural Gas0.196--
Nuclear0.04848 (6.4-800)

For nuclear, 48 fatalities per GWeyr is the figure used in the document. Using the 4,000-500,000 numbers results in the range shown (6.4 to 800 fatalities/GWeyr).

So nuclear is the safest or the most dangerous power source, or something in between. If we consider all historical data, nuclear energy appears to be far less safe than other methods of electricity production (assuming latent deaths from other technologies are not significant). However, if we consider the Chernobyl accident an anomaly and consider only modern, properly designed reactors, nuclear becomes the safest method of electricity production by far. It all depends on one's assumptions. So, I'd have to say that the results are inconclusive. There are arguments to be made on either side.

What did surprise me in researching this was how dangerous hydroelectric power is. To be fair, 90% of those fatalities were due to two disasters in China, and if those are considered anomalies then the safety of hydro would be in line with oil. I didn't consider this data to be anomalous because it was not due to a flaw in the design, but a natural disaster, just as the current nuclear accident in Japan is due to a natural disaster. One can argue that a bad design, once fixed, is eliminated from future consideration, but a natural disaster such as a flood or earthquake is not controllable by humans.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's Catholic Media Promotion Day!

As you may recall on my post for Catholic Media Promotion Day today is the day we are supposed to:
On March 15, 2011, everyone with a blog, podcast, or Facebook page should list their favorite 3 blogs, 3 podcasts, 3 other media, 3 random Catholic things online, and their own projects.
This presents a problem for me, as it is very hard to narrow the list down to three of each, but here goes. One of my goals here is to list things that I really like but that perhaps are not so mainstream as to have everybody list them.


  1. Redneck Reflections - This guy is the smartest redneck I've ever met. "It's not what you expect. It's what you fear."
  2. Darwin Catholic - Is a great blog about science (and Catholicism). I like the tag line "...because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive."
  3. Satan's blog - Yes, know thy enemy, by following his blog.


  1. Catholic Answers Live - I started listening to this when I had no other podcasts to listen to. I've yet to find an episode where I didn't learn something new and interesting.
  2. The Catholic Laboratory - Over 1000 years of Catholic science.
  3. The Saintcast - A podcast about Catholic Saints.

Other Media

  1. Catholic TV - A new Catholic broadband streamed TV network.
  2. Pope2you - Did you know the Vatican has a Youtube Channel?
  3. Ignatius Press - Old style printed media. Ignatius press is the official publisher of Pope Benedict, and carries his latest book Jesus of Nazareth - Holy Week

Other random Catholic things online

  1. The Cukierski Family Apostolate - Purveyors of natural health products and all sorts of unusual Catholic sacramentals.
  2. Drawn to Catholicism - Owen Swain is an online friend of mine who has this (almost) daily drawn blog.
  3. Catholic Preachy - The brain child of two other online friends of mine - Jerry Kohlbrand and Paul Sofranko.

My projects

  1. This blog.

Monday, March 14, 2011

You win a few

Two pieces of good news today:

Baby Joseph, whom I blogged about earlier is now at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis, Mo. Kudos to Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life for working with authorities and health care providers in Canada and the US to help save this boy from being euthanized. The new hospital is willing to perform the tracheotomy that will allow baby Joseph to go home and be with his family.

In a similar story, the feeding tube has been restored for Rachel Nyirahabiyambere, a refugee to the US from Rwanda, who has been denied food and water by a US hospital for three weeks. Kudos here go to the Alliance Defense Fund and the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network for providing legal and other assistance to Mrs. Nyirahabiyambere and her family.

That makes two people in two countries that were going to be murdered by hospitals that now have a chance to live the remainder of their lives in peace. If you are looking for ways to perform your Lenten almsgiving, these three are worthy causes.

Happy Pi Day

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The bible tells me so

When my kids were young we had this board book that played a number of songs when you opened it. One of them was Jesus Loves Me. And perhaps it is OK for small children, but I winced whenever it came on. For those unfamiliar, the theme of the song is I know Jesus loves me because the bible tells me so.

I can't abide by a faith that makes me abandon reason, and the way some people treat the bible has always been a sticking point for me. The argument goes something like "well, 'X' is true because hte bible says so."

"How do you know the bible is true?"

"Because it's the word of God."

"How do you know it's the word of God?"

"The bible says so."

This is what's known as circular reasoning. I could write a blog post that says it's the word of God, and that wouldn't make it the word of God.

At any rate, I've been thinking of a series of blog posts about how a belief in God is not only possible, but necessary by applying logic, and that Catholicism is not only plausible, but very likely true using reason. Of course faith is always required at some point, but faith and reason go hand in hand.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Catholic Media Promotion Day-March 15, 2011

On March 15, 2011, everyone with a blog, podcast, or Facebook page should list their favorite 3 blogs, 3 podcasts, 3 other media, 3 random Catholic things online, and their own projects.

Then, post the link to your list here on March 15th.

Additionally, to help get the word out, press are asked to write articles and press releases for this day.

Lastly, on March 15th, go to iTunes and leave at least 3 positive written reviews for various Catholic podcasts and 3 positive written reviews for Catholic mobile applications.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Where to give help

I'm sure you have heard of the earthquake near Japan. The Catholic News Service has posted a page on their blog listing where you can donate to help those affected by it. They are Catholic Relief Services, Caritas, and for those in the UK, CAFOD. I don't list these organization merely because they are Catholic. They are already "on the ground" and are helping. In addition, they have some of the best track records in getting the help to the people who need it, rather than funneling funds off to other purposes, diluting them, or delaying the use of funds they receive.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why are people pro-choice (part 3)

This is the third in an ongoing series of posts about the reasoning pro-choicers use to arrive at their point of view. In part 1 and part 2, we covered the back alley abortion argument and the when does life begin argument. Today's reason is:

Reason #3: It's my body, my choice.

This may actually mean one of two reasons. The first meaning is that the fetus is part of my body, and I have the right to do what I want with my body. An abortion is just like liposuction - taking away part of my body. Of course, this falls prey to the same logic we applied in part 2. Without regurgitating the whole thing I submit this one quote and direct you to read Part 2.
Dr. Jerome LeJeune, professor of genetics at the University of Descartes in Paris, was the discoverer of the chromosome pattern of Down syndrome. Dr. LeJeune testified to the Judiciary Subcommittee, “after fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being.” He stated that this “is no longer a matter of taste or opinion,” and “not a metaphysical contention, it is plain experimental evidence.” He added, “Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.”
Note that this is a scientific fact. With technology like DNA analysis we can prove that the fetus is not part of the mother's body, but is a unique individual, from the moment of conception on.

But perhaps what the pro-choicer means is "I accept that it is a separate and unique life, but my right to control my body trumps the fetus' right to use it for warmth and nourishment. The two arguments that can be made are defense and privacy.

The defense argument goes something like "if an intruder entered my house and attacked me I would have the right to defend myself, even if I killed the attacker. Therefore I have the right to abort the baby that has entered my body." Mother Teresa was well aware of this argument when she said:
"America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father's role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts -- a child -- as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. (Mother Theresa -- "Notable and Quotable," Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14)
She saw at once the problem with this argument is that it purports the child to be an attacker. The child is not attacking the mother. It is not threatening her, and in fact is there naturally. In over 99% of abortions, the woman willfully chose the behavior that put that child in that position. Even in the case of rape, the child is not the one who attacked the mother. Rather than being the case of defending against an intruder, it's like inviting a neighbor for tea and then murdering them.

The privacy argument reasons that although I could not kick someone out of a public place, it is perfectly reasonable for me to kick them out of my own home, because it is my place. How much more so do I have the right to "kick out" the fetus, within my own body, which is more my domain than my home.

This falls to similar logic. Although you can kick someone out of your private house, you can't kill them because they are in your private house. Even more so if you invited them in in the first place. Human life trumps property rights in law (and in Asimov's three laws of robotics).

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Suggestions for Lent

If you're like me most years, you waited until Ash Wednesday and then try to think of something to give up. Beer? Chocolate? It should be something that makes you a better, healthier person, right? I have a suggestion for you.

Instead of giving up chocolate (again) how about saving someone's life? Last year I joined 40 Days for Life during Lent and it has changed my perspective on a lot of things. I go to an abortion clinic once or twice a week (or as often as I can make it) and pray. If you find it hard to get to a 40 Days site, you can still participate by fasting and/or praying along with their set of daily devotionals.

Another way to get involved this Lent is to spiritually adopt an unborn child. To do this, pick an unborn baby in danger of being aborted. It doesn't have to be anyone you know, just focus your intentions on a single child. You can give the child a name if that helps you to focus on him or her. Each day pray for this child. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen recommended the following prayer:

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I love you very much. I beg you to spare the life of the unborn baby that I have spiritually adopted who is in danger of abortion.”

Of course you can (and should) pray for the mother and father of that child as well. These things are simple enough to do, and yet they can save a human life, and change yours.

Good for women and men

According to an article in Smart Money, a method has been successfully trialed in Switzerland to regenerate breasts that have been damaged or removed by breast cancer surgery. Other details are found here. From the Smart Money article:
ZUG, Switzerland -(Dow Jones)- A longterm study looking at Cytori Therapeutics Inc's (CYTX) tissue regeneration method--which uses stem cells from a person's own fat to reconstruct breasts--shows the procedure to be safe when used on former breast cancer patients who suffered from scars or had part of their breast removed, the U.S.-based company said Wednesday.

Cytori's system includes the extraction of stem cells from the fat tissue of a patient, which are then injected in the affected area such as the breast, where tissue needs to be regenerated.

Unlike other stem cell companies such as Stemcells Inc (STEM), Cytori doesn't use embryonic cells, a method which is facing opposition as it is considered unethical. Scientists, however, hope the use of stem cells can help cure complex diseases such as cancer as stem cells have a long life and can develop into other cells.

...and from the Sys-Com article:
The trial, referred to as RESTORE-2, was a 71 patient prospective long-term breast reconstruction study. Specifically, 12 month physician satisfaction was 85% and patient satisfaction 75%, which is consistent with reported six month results. Physician and patient satisfaction criteria encompassed functional and cosmetic outcomes, namely breast deformity, breast symmetry, appearance of scarring, and skin pigmentation. With no generally accepted standard of care, there was no defined control for this trial. The comprehensive data are being prepared for peer-review and are expected to be publicly available later this year.

"We believe cancer treatment is incomplete without reconstruction," said Marc H. Hedrick, M.D., president of Cytori Therapeutics. "The RESTORE procedure has the potential to become the gold standard for lumpectomy defect repair, even in the context of radiation scarring, for which there is no accepted standard-of-care. The data from the study strengthens the long-term safety profile of this treatment and soundly shows efficacy in breast cancer patients."

During the RESTORE procedure, fat is taken from the patient's stomach, hips, thighs, or other areas, by liposuction. Some of the tissue is used to extract the patient's own stem and regenerative cells which occur naturally inside the tissue, using Cytori's Celution® 800/CRS System. The extracted cells are then combined with some of the patient's own fat tissue, which forms a cell-enriched fat graft that is injected into the breast to restore its natural look and feel. In addition to providing an entirely natural option, the impact of post-operative scarring is greatly reduced due to the minimally invasive nature of this procedure.

More information on the procedure can be found at

Monday, March 7, 2011

Light bulbs are cool

Here's a cool video on a seemingly simple thing - the filament of an incandescent light bulb.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Vegans and Christians and gays

I have a few friends (and relatives) who are vegetarians. A few go as far as ovo-lacto vegetarianism, and even as far as vegan. For those who don't know the difference (I didn't until they told me), a vegetarian avoids meat of some sort, ovo-lacto vegetarians will eat eggs and milk, and vegans strictly avoid animal products or byproducts.

Catholics join the ranks of vegetarians on certain days, including Fridays during Lent, which starts this week. We do so according to an old testament practice outlined in the book of Daniel.

Daniel 10:2-3: In those days, I, Daniel, mourned three full weeks. I ate no savory food, I took no meat or wine, and I did not anoint myself at all until the end of the three weeks.

For this reason Catholics abstain from meat on Fridays in Lent, in mourning for Christ's Crucifixion. However, we may eat fish, as fish is a symbol of Christ. Eating it is symbolic of the Eucharist, in which we consume the body of Christ.

So why are people vegan (or vegetarian in general)? Some do it because they think it is a healthier life style. Some do it because their bodies don't react well to meat, and they find it easier to digest vegetables. Some do it because they feel that it is morally wrong to eat animals.

If you are a fan of "Dinner Impossible" you will know that Chef Robert Irvine often laments the fact that he has to make vegetarian dishes for the people he cooks for. I don't find it to be a burden at all to make vegetarian dishes, and when we have friends over who are vegetarian, we always make sure there are not only things like salad, but an entire meal they can eat. I have discovered some delicious Lenten dishes in cooking food for vegetarian friends.

Likewise, when I go out to eat with friends who are vegetarian I alter my diet to make them feel more comfortable. If I know they believe it is wrong to kill animals I will have a potato and salad, even if I have a hankering for a steak that day.

My point is that even though they think eating meat is a sin and I don't, I respect both them and their opinion. I don't take them to court and have them declared unfit to care for children because they think I am wrong to eat meat.

Not so the case in the UK. In a recent case, the high court ruled that parents can be denied foster children for "refusing to talk to children about homosexuality as though it were an acceptable lifestyle". Now, I'm not trying to compare a homosexual lifestyle to eating meat, because in my view they are different. However, if you are a person who professes that there is no moral difference (in other words if you see a gay lfiestyle as being as morally valid a choice as eating meat), there is no reason to discriminate against those who do consider it sinful (as a vegan would consider eating meat sinful).

According to this Daily Mail article [emphasis mine]:

Owen and Eunice Johns heard that their values could conflict with the local authority’s duty to ‘safeguard and promote the welfare’ of those in foster care.

The grandparents have already fostered 15 children and were praised by social workers as ‘kind and hospitable people’ who ‘respond sensitively’ to youngsters.

During the case, the Equality and Human Rights Commission argued that children risk being ‘infected’ by Christian moral views.

Yesterday the retired couple’s request for a ruling that faith should not be a bar to becoming a carer was denied at the High Court in London.

...The Johnses are considering an appeal but campaigners fear the ruling will be used as a blueprint for other councils to stop devout Christians from becoming foster parents.

The couple, who have four grown-up children and six grandchildren, had applied to be respite carers offering short-term placements for children aged between five and ten.

Mrs Johns, a retired nurse, said: ‘This is a sad day for Christianity. The judges have suggested that our views might harm children. We do not believe that this is so. We are prepared to love and accept any child.

‘All we were not willing to do was to tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing.’

She added that the couple have visited her nephew, who is gay, and his partner in San Francisco.

Her husband added: ‘We wanted to offer love and stability and security to a vulnerable child. Eight-year-olds we have looked after want to play, not talk about their sexuality.’

Yesterday the council denied that it had sought to discriminate against Mr and Mrs Johns on the grounds of religious belief, but added that it ‘welcomes the judgment’.

Friday, March 4, 2011

You knew it was coming

With all the recent attempts by people to redefine marriage from what it is - a union between a man and a woman to create an environment for their children's benefit - into what they want it to be - namely a way to express a desire for sexual pleasure, you knew it had to happen sooner or later. I just didn't think it would be this soon.

The Canadian Parliament's House Justice Committee heard arguments from "expert" witnesses to the effect that pedophilia is another form of sexual orientation, just like homosexuality. The implications are that just as it is "wrong" to try to "treat" homosexuals, and just as society should not "judge" them and should treat their activities as "valid" and even "laudable", pedophiles should be treated the same. After all, we're talking about sex between consenting people, even if one of them is a "child". Who are we to denigrate these people for following the natural urges that they were born with (despite the fact that there is no evidence that sexual orientation is inborn) and can't change (despite the fact that some do)?

From the transcript:
Mr. Marc Lemay (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, BQ): I will try to focus on this subject. I have to admit that I was not expecting, on this Valentine’s Day, to be talking about this inappropriate type of love. It is not really love. It has more to do with violence and control. I am concerned, Professor Van Gijseghem—and I know you well as I have heard you testify on a number of other subjects—because you say, if I am not mistaken, that pedophilia is a sexual orientation.

Dr. Hubert Van Gijseghem: That is what I said.

Mr. Marc Lemay: Should it therefore be compared to homosexuality?

Dr. Hubert Van Gijseghem: Yes, or heterosexuality. If, for instance, you were living in a society where heterosexuality is proscribed or prohibited and you were told that you had to get therapy to change your sexual orientation, you would probably say that that is slightly crazy.
I would say it's more than slightly crazy. Heterosexuality is normal because that is the way our bodies are designed to perpetuate the species. In the society where it was outlawed, where would children come from? Cabbage patches? Test tubes? To coin a phrase, this idea is so dumb it would take a PhD to accept it.

Of course, the context here is whether pedophiles should be prosecuted, not whether we should enshrine their actions in law. But of course if children are not to be protected form this under the law, the implications of where this is going are obvious. And yet, the psychologists involved do have a point in that acts of pedophilia and the acts of a homosexual lifestyle both involve expressing a disordered notion of sexuality.

The last shuttle launch

Still short for time, but I wanted to share with you this incredible video of the last launch of the shuttle Discovery(STS-133) filmed from a commercial airliner.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Save Baby Joseph

Once again real life prevents me from blogging all the things I want to blog, but this is time sensitive. If you can Save Baby Joseph! If you don't know who Baby Joseph is, you need to read LifeSite News!