Write a letter saying that you'd like the party platforms to push an anti-war message in the 2008 elections:
Republican National Committee
310 First Street, SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
Democratic National Committee
430 S. Capitol St., SE
Washington, DC 20003
[if you are easily offended, my blog is probably not the place for you]
On the Soup Line, Endive and OctopusRead entire article at NYTimes.com...
By KIM SEVERSON
December 20, 2006
EVEN at the soup kitchen, everyone’s a critic.
At a church on the Upper West Side, Michael Ennes has earned a reputation for serving what may be the best soup kitchen meals in town.
The multicourse lunch that Michael Ennes cooked in the basement of Broadway Presbyterian Church last week started with a light soup of savoy and napa cabbages. The endive salad was dressed with basil vinaigrette. For the main course, Mr. Ennes simmered New Jersey bison in wine and stock flavored with fennel and thickened with olive oil roux.
But some diners thought the bison was a little tough, and the menu discordant.
“He’s good, but sometimes I think the experimentation gets in the way of good taste,” said Jose Terrero, 54. Last year, Mr. Terrero made a series of what he called inappropriate financial decisions, including not paying his rent. He now sleeps at a shelter. He has eaten at several New York City soup kitchens, and highly recommends Mr. Ennes’s food.
Her response: "I don't know if I'd be alive. If I had stayed in Atlanta, I'm sure I would have gotten on heroin. I'm sure I would've gotten pregnant. I'm sure I would be HIV-positive, like a few of my friends who have been and are. Who the hell knows? Maybe I would have been happy still being a waitress or working at a bank. Maybe I'd have three wonderful kinds. You never know."
"You never know." That's Monday morning...you simply never know.
Thanks, Greek Geek, I found this funny. Mac's are fine, but I don't care for their cult status. When my former employer was buying a new computer, the computer service company they use said, "We'd recommend Apple or Dell." That's like saying, "We'd recommend a Honda Accord or any Pontiac." Given choices like that, most would buy the mac, which was, by the way, slow out of the box with hardly anything loaded on it. If you want to talk computers, perhaps it's best to talk to someone who knows BMW to exist. Secretly, I'm glad that mac's are no longer immune to viruses.
from a schoolgirl in the subway on a visit to the city /
she likes how it looks on her chest with three open buttons /
she likes the part where one brother kills the other /
she has to wonder if the the world ever will recover /
because cain and abel seem to still be causing trouble /
"Perhaps this has all come about because in her quiet, barely awakened youth, she had encountered extraordinary and wonderful things. So she got used to dichotomizing her life with a naturalness that later almost terrified her: as a Here and Now and a Then and There. I don't mean longing to attain any particular thing, but longing as what makes up a life, what can constitue it."
silly rabbit / tripping is for teenagers /
murder is for murderers / and hard drugs are for bartenders /
i think i might have mentioned that before /
"The early Christian tradition and the spiritual writers of the Middle Ages knew no conflict between 'public' and 'private' prayer, or between the liturgy and contemplation. This is a modern problem. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say it is a pseudo-problem. Liturgy by its very nature tends to prolong itself in individual contemplative prayer, and mental prayer in its turn disposes us for and seeks fulfillment in liturgical worship."
I decided to go to my office early this morning while it was still dark outside. I was excited about the pages before me and the rhythm I've recently developed as far as reading goes. I was thankful for Orion's belt visible in the dark morning sky, and grateful for a conversation had the evening before. "As man thanks God and is man in so doing, he does no more and no less than all other creatures do with their life. He does no less than the sun and Jupiter, but also no more than the sparrow of the lane or indeed the humblest Mayfly."
Sometimes I tire of hearing 1 Corinthians 13 read at weddings. This is partly because it's cliché and partly because the passage is responding to church divisions, but no one says during a wedding service, "You're going to need these verses as a daily practice, 'cause you're going to end up hating one another!" So I thought I'd juxtapose the beginning of 1 Corinthians 13 and a few lines from brother Karl:
but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries
and all knowledge, and if I have faith, so as to remove
mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away
all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned,
but have not love, I gain nothing."
"Obedience without gratitude would be nothing.
Love without gratitude would be nothing.
The best and most pious works in the service of God,
whatever they might be, would be nothing if in their
whole root and significance they were not
works of gratitude." 
 Barth references come from CD III.2, p 170-172.
1) First is a fun article from the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal. Fun because I enjoy hearing the opinions of people who have acquired virtues outside of the field on which they comment. So why not listen to what a former world chess champion, Gary Kasparov, has to say about Iraq. It sounds as good as any of the soundbites that came out from the "Iraq Study Group Report."
"This dire situation is a result of the only thing worse than a failed strategy: the inability to recognize, or to admit, that a strategy has failed."
Read entire article...
2) The second article, which comes from The Washington Post, is more personal as it relates to the home that I lived in last year in Washington, D.C. More specifically, it is about Gene, one of the people with whom I lived. The MRDD (Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities) system in D.C. has a terrible track record (think: occasions of people with developmental disabilities starving in group homes) and is in need of so much help. True care involves eye contact, listening and speaking, having relationships of reciprocity, and doing all the above with joy. These are things which a governmental body simply cannot do well. Often it seems that the governmental efforts to try to force group homes to care for those in need end up being an obstacle for those who are providing quality care. Laws don't easily allow for differentiation, so you end up teaching your A students with a curriculum geared towards the students who are failing, a recipe for mediocrity. This story is about Gene and Gene's pride and joy, his studio apartment on the first floor of our home. Gene's life-long dream had been to have his own apartment, so when he could no longer live on the second floor of the L'Arche home around the corner due to difficulty with all the exterior and interior stairs, he moved into the house on Ontario St. Gene is dying; he receives exellent care and has a lovely place to live among people he has lived with for twenty years.
"Ten days ago, just before Thanksgiving, the city's fire department issued the order to evict [Gene] Sampson..."
Read entire article...
If you live in the District, please email, write, or call Mayor-elect Fenty. Please note that this is only the latest in a series of scandals in the District's system for people with intellectual disabilities and that you believe there has to be change! This issue is only one within a very broken system. The more attention we bring to the MRDD system the more likely Mayor-elect Fenty will direct energy to fix it!
Adrian M. Fenty
Ward 4 Councilmember
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Suite 408
Washington , D.C. 20004
(202) 724-8120 (fax)
Thanks to all of you who prayed, wrote letters, and made some noise about the threatened eviction of Eugene -- they worked! The government has rescinded the eviction order. Now we just have to fix the system....
"It is bad to be fascinated and transfixed as it were by the picture of erotic man in the Greek sense to which the picture of Christian man can be so easily - indeed, far too easily - opposed. The remarkable consequence of this far to simple opposition has been that in whole spheres of Christendom Christian love has been far too unthinkingly accepted merely as the antithesis to Greek eros and thus unconsciously depicted and extolled in the contours and colours of the original. At a first glance it is not easy to tell which of the two figures in Titian's famous painting is supposed to be heavenly love and which is earthly. For the two sisters are so much alike." 
 Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, vol. III.2 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1960), 280.
1) Robert Satloff, executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, answers a set of questions about his book Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust's Long Reach into Arab Lands, wherein he uncovers stories of how many Arabs risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust in Europe and North Africa. Read the article at Aljazeera.com...
2) "Wanting to have children who follow in one’s footsteps is an understandable desire. But a coming article in the journal Fertility and Sterility offers a fascinating glimpse into how far some parents may go to ensure that their children stay in their world — by intentionally choosing malfunctioning genes that produce disabilities like deafness or dwarfism." Read the article at NYTimes.com...
Below I reproduce the New York Times piece in full, but will happily take it down on request.
December 5, 2006
Wanting Babies Like Themselves, Some Parents Choose Genetic Defects
By DARSHAK M. SANGHAVI, M.D.
Wanting to have children who follow in one’s footsteps is an understandable desire. But a coming article in the journal Fertility and Sterility offers a fascinating glimpse into how far some parents may go to ensure that their children stay in their world — by intentionally choosing malfunctioning genes that produce disabilities like deafness or dwarfism.
The article reviews the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or P.G.D., a process in which embryos are created in a test tube and their DNA is analyzed before being transferred to a woman’s uterus. In this manner, embryos destined to have, for example, cystic fibrosis or Huntington’s disease can be excluded, and only healthy embryos implanted.
Yet Susannah A. Baruch and colleagues at the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University recently surveyed 190 American P.G.D. clinics, and found that 3 percent reported having intentionally used P.G.D. “to select an embryo for the presence of a disability.”
In other words, some parents had the painful and expensive fertility procedure for the express purpose of having children with a defective gene. It turns out that some mothers and fathers don’t view certain genetic conditions as disabilities but as a way to enter into a rich, shared culture.
It’s tempting to see this practice as an alarming trend; for example, the online magazine Slate called it “the deliberate crippling of children.”
But a desire for children with genetic defects isn’t new. In 2002, for example, The Washington Post Magazine profiled Candace A. McCullough and Sharon M. Duchesneau, a lesbian and deaf couple from Maryland who both attended Gallaudet University and set out to have a deaf child by intentionally soliciting a deaf sperm donor.
“A hearing baby would be a blessing,” Ms. Duchesneau was quoted as saying. “A deaf baby would be a special blessing.”
Born five years ago on Thanksgiving Day, the couple’s son, Gauvin, was mostly deaf, and his parents chose to withhold any hearing aids.
Controlling a child’s genetic makeup, even to preserve what some would consider a disease, is the latest tactic of parents in an increasingly globalized society where identity seems besieged and in need of aggressive preservation. Traditionally, cultures were perpetuated through assortative mating, with intermarriage among the like-minded and the like-appearing.
Modern technology has been adopted for this purpose; for example, a quick Web search reveals specialized dating services for almost any religious or ethnic subgroup. Viewed in this context, the use of P.G.D. to select for deafness may be merely another ritual to ensure that one’s children carry on a cultural bloodline.
Still, most providers of P.G.D. find such requests unacceptable. Dr. Robert J. Stillman of the Shady Grove Fertility Center in Rockville, Md., has denied requests to use the process for selecting deafness and dwarfism. “In general, one of the prime dictates of parenting is to make a better world for our children,” he said in an interview. “Dwarfism and deafness are not the norm.”
Dr. Yury Verlinsky of the Reproductive Genetics Institute in Chicago, who also refuses these requests, said, “If we make a diagnostic tool, the purpose is to avoid disease.”
But both doctors said they would not oppose sending families to other doctors who might consent.
Today, parents increasingly use medical procedures to alter healthy bodies. In 2003, for example, the Food and Drug Administration granted approval to Eli Lilly to market human growth hormone for “idiopathic short stature,” or below-average height in children — to make them taller, purely for social reasons. Theoretically, almost a half million American boys qualify for treatment. Why, some may argue, should choosing short stature be different?
Mary Ellen Little, a New Jersey nurse with dwarfism, had her first daughter before a prenatal test for achondroplasia was available. For her second child, she had amniocentesis. “I prayed for a little one,” meaning a dwarf, she told me.
The wait, she recalled, was grueling, since “I figured I couldn’t be blessed twice, but I was.” Both her daughters, now 11 and 7, are “little people.”
The major barrier to Ms. Little’s simply choosing her children’s height is ease. To her, P.G.D. to select for dwarfism is too invasive; however, if having dwarf children were simply a matter of trying to conceive at a certain time of the month or taking a pill, she said, “I would do that.”
Barbara Spiegel, a homemaker in Maine who has dwarfism, had a first pregnancy that ended in miscarriage. She underwent genetic testing during her second pregnancy, and because of a laboratory mix-up involving petri dishes, was told that her child would grow to normal height. She would have loved the child, she said, but in an interview, she recalled thinking, “What is life going to be like for her, when her parents are different than she is?”
She worried that the child would be teased excessively. Ms. Spiegel’s best friend, who has average height, has a daughter with dwarfism, and the child sometimes comes to Ms. Spiegel for support; maybe an average-size child would also go to others for motherly advice. For a brief time, Ms. Spiegel grieved because she felt a dwarf baby would have been “just precious.” But after a week, the mix-up was detected and she got her wish.
Genetic testing for dwarfism has an extra ethical wrinkle. When both parents are dwarves, their embryos have a 25 percent chance of normal height, a 50 percent chance of dwarfism, and a 25 percent chance of what is called a double dominant mutation, which is usually fatal soon after birth. Because many dwarf mothers worry that their fetuses might have the fatal mutation, those who conceive without assistive technology, like Ms. Little and Ms. Spiegel, often undergo amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling to detect double dominant mutations. Many consider abortion if the test is positive — but many would carry either a dwarf or an average-height child to term.
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis can identify embryos with double dominant mutations, so they can be discarded before implantation, while preserving embryos destined for either dwarfism or average height. In dwarves, then, P.G.D. could help avoid many doomed pregnancies if double dominants were never implanted. But then a choice would have to be made, since the genes are known. And many dwarves might select embryos for dwarves — although others might choose those for average-size children.
Dr. Stéphane Viville, who first reported P.G.D. for dwarfism in 2003 in France, used it to eliminate embryos with dwarfism among couples where one member was a dwarf and the partner had average height. Interestingly, if confronted with a situation where both parents were dwarves, Dr. Viville says that he most likely would implant only an embryo destined for normal height — and forbid not only double dominants but also dwarf embryos.
I think Dr. Viville fears that P.G.D. could be used willy-nilly to make genetic freaks. Yet the same fears pervaded the issue of in vitro fertilization decades ago. The small number of P.G.D. centers selecting for mutations doesn’t bother me greatly. After all, even natural reproduction is an error-prone process, since almost 1 percent of all pregnancies are complicated by birth defects — often by more disabling conditions than dwarfism or deafness.
More important, as a physician who helps women dealing with complex fetal diseases, I’ve learned to respect a family’s judgment. Many parents share a touching faith that having children similar to them will strengthen family and social bonds.
Of course, part of me wonders whether speaking the same language or being the same height guarantees closer families. But it’s not for me to say. In the end, our energy is better spent advocating for a society where those factors won’t matter.
Dr. Darshak M. Sanghavi is pediatric cardiologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the author of “A Map of the Child: A Pediatrician’s Tour of the Body.”
This article exhibits the difficulty of choosing the proper terms and how the people who choose the terms of the discussion wield enormous power. It also shows how abitrarily the medical community defines its notions of good, health, etc. Dr. Verlinsky is quoted as saying, “If we make a diagnostic tool, the purpose is to avoid disease.” But then, one could ask: what constitutes a disease? what constitutes disability? what constitutes health? what constitutes defect? Most of the medical community has made its peace with non-repairative, purely cosmetic/aesthetic plastic surgury. Since when is a big nose, a disease? "Oh, but the psychological harm it might cause," one might claim. At this point our social psychosis becomes clear: perfectionism. Let's be honest. We're not perfect. We are going to die. We are finite and dependent creatures. And, yes, we pretend to be otherwise. Dr. Sanghavi is right to point us in the direction of becoming "a society where those factors won’t matter." I suspect that there is an inverse relationship between appropriate knowledge of self and need for amniocentesis. Why should we want to get rid of our babies with Down's? Is it because we don't think we are the kind of people or live among the kind of people who can receive this child as a gift? Is it because we hide rather than hold those parts of ourselves with which society is least comfortable? This article, however, raises another concern, the desire to have children who follow in one’s footsteps. This seems to be the desire for immortality, or at least an egoism with some grotesque features. I think the desire for children is a more basic (and less corrupt) desire than the desire for one's children to be like oneself. That being said, the desire to pass on the gifts that one has received is a desire to be embraced as this hopefully stems from one's gratitude for such gifts. It is when one is unsure of that for which one is to be grateful, that one gets the desire to replicate oneself.
beauty with thorns among our leaves.
To pick a rose you ask your hands to bleed.
What is the reason for having roses
when your blood is shed carelessly?
It must be for something more than vanity. 
 A procedure for finding certain disorders in a fetus during pregnancy. In amniocentesis, a small amount of the salty liquid that surrounds the fetus in the amniotic sac is drawn out through a needle inserted into the mother's abdomen. The fluid generally contains some isolated cells from the fetus. These cells are analyzed to detect abnormalities in the chromosomes of the fetus, such as Down's syndrome, and may also be used to judge some other conditions, such as the maturity of the fetus's lungs. I'm opposed to the procedure.
 Lyrics from the 10,000 Maniacs' song "Eden."
In a recent interview for StopSmiling, Waits commented about the album, saying "Mainly, I was afraid I was going to lose all this stuff because I don't really keep good records. I don't have a big vault or a real organized room with all my stuff...when I want something, I can't find it. And when I don't need it anymore, I find it. So I wanted to get this out."
Give it a listen or put it on your Christmas list!
"The other means of taming the Photograph is to generalize, to generalize, banalize it until it is no longer confronted by any image in relation to which it can mark itself, assert its special character, its scandal, its madness. This is what is happening in our society, where the Photograph crushes all other images by its tyranny: no more prints, no more figurative painting, unless henceforth by fascinated (and fascinating) submission to the photographic model. Looking around at the customers in a café, someone remarked to me (rightly): 'Look how gloomy they are! nowadays the images are livelier than the people.' One of the marks of our world is perhaps this reversal: we live according to a generalized image-repertoire. Consider the United States, where everything is transformed into images: only images exist and are produced and are consumed. An extreme example: go into a New York porn shop; here you will not find vice, but only its tableaux vivants (from which Mapplethorpe has so lucidly derived certain of his photographs); it is as if the anonymous individual (never an actor) who gets himself tied up and beaten conceives of his pleasure only if this pleasure joins the stereotyped (worn-out) image of the sado-masochist: pleasure passes through the image: here is the great mutation. Such a reversal necessarily raises the ethical question: not that the image is immoral, irreligious, or diabolic (as some have declared it, upon the advent of the Photograph), but because, when generalized, it completely de-realizes the human world of conflicts and desires, under cover of illustrating it. What characterizes the so-called advanced societies is that they today consume images and no longer, like those of the past, beliefs; they are therefore more liberal, less fanatical, but also more 'false' (less 'authentic') - something we translate, in ordinary consciousness, by the avowal of an impression of nauseated boredom, as if the universalized image were producing a world that is without difference (indifferent), from which can rise, here and there, only the cry of anarchisms, marginalisms, and individualisms: let us abolish the images, let us save immediate Desire (desire without mediation)." ============
 Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida (London: Vintage, 1993), 118-119.