Archive for July, 2008

Medicine and religious freedom

The Bush Administration has proposed regulatory measures that will deny federal funding to health entities that do not accommodate employees who object to providing certain services to patients–mainly, family planning. This is enough to provoke a bit of hair tearing, but the proposal also seeks to define abortion as:

any of the various procedures — including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action — that results in the termination of life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation.

This is especially troubling to me, not just because of the broadness of this definition–which presumably would include such things as oral contraceptives–but because it applies to stem cells, which are harvested from fertilized eggs. Abortion most foul!

Federal intervention in this moral dilemma is constitutionally sketchy to me, though I may be completely off base in even bringing up the Constitution here. To me this falls in that tricky area between the clauses of Free Exercise–protection of religious expression–and Establishment–separation of Church and State. Should government protect those who feel pressured to abandon their religious beliefs for the sake of their employment and/or professional reputation? Or should government take a step back from the debate altogether, lest its employees become scholars of theology?

It should be pretty obvious which side of the fence I’m on. To me, going into the medical profession means giving up a fair degree of autonomy. You respect your patients’ wishes, even if they go against your professional and personal opinions.

I can understand why someone would feel so desperate about this–you go into medicine expecting to save lives and end up assisting in life’s termination–but there must be less financially hostile ways to address these concerns.

July 31, 2008 at 8:39 am Leave a comment

It’s not a blog until you slam other blogs.

I love Jezebel–it’s one of my favorite blogs because it toes a graceful line between celebrity fashion missteps and deadly serious current events–but their resident self-appointed memoirist, Moe, needs an editor.

Look, that is my role in this economy, you can take it or leave it, and sure, there are truth-tellers out there who don’t have any alcohol dependency issues, but if they try to tell you they have no dependency issues, my friend, that truth they are peddling is Lite, and Lite tastes like shit to me, all of which I say, ha ha ha, in “lite” of a NY Times story out today, on how the poor economy is slowing down women’s “progress” in the workforce, sending them home to their families and threatening our struggle to achieve parity in the quantifiable ways we can use to calculate the slope of the trajectory of our emancipation.

That’s a sentence. She goes on to sort of draw parallels between “The Wackness” and the recent New York Times piece about recession’s impact upon women. She then takes a lengthy time-out for an anecdote about crying in a McDonalds at 5:30am, which then sort of segues into how she had “known half the halfway houses in Philadelphia, not because I’d been addicted to anything but because I was an anxious young reporter assigned to a sort of nebulous urban blight beat and desperately sure I might as well be.” And then she actually realizes how ridiculous this post has become (“Jesus Christ, what was this post about? oh wait, the wage gap, seriously?”) and then talks about how people are interdependent and that’s okay or something. And then she ends the whole thing on a grand note of:

And yeah, that is obvious, but in the moment it can feel totally, like, wack, but then you step away for awhile and maybe have a beer and read what you’ve written and think “No my friend, your brain is what is wack, maybe look into Wellbutrin next time you contemplate leaving the workforce.”

And somehow we’re supposed to deduce from this rambling trainwreck of a post that Moe has left Jezebel to go work for Radar. What? Okay. Bye.

July 23, 2008 at 9:05 am 1 comment

I’m late to this party…

…but it’s still pretty great. David Sedaris (not the actual David Sedaris) delivers a pizza:

July 21, 2008 at 3:51 pm Leave a comment

The most important YouTube video you will watch this hour

July 18, 2008 at 9:09 am Leave a comment

Oh, hey.

So I’ve actually been fairly busy at work—or at least the size of my projects have provoked me into keeping busy—which has been a change of pace. I also passed my background check and got my security badge, which is a huge landmark—I can actually enter my own office now without having to call someone to pick me up. Plus I get to wear it and look awesome. I celebrated my freedom yesterday by going to our building’s Starbucks and buying a frappucino, a little consumerist fist-pump of a gesture that made me feel sort of ill afterward.

Highlights of the morning: tomatoes won’t give you salmonella anymore, Jennifer Garner is pregnant again, and Al Gore is going for broke.

July 18, 2008 at 8:43 am Leave a comment

Interesting web navigation at a Smithsonian site

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (also known as NMAAHC–what an awkward acronym!), which is currently in search of an architect to design its new building on the Mall, has a pretty sweet website. Check out the web-style navigation at the top. Concepts are connected to one another by threads–click one concept and it takes you to the corresponding article, shifting the map’s center to a new area. Furthermore, each article is tagged, so you can finish reading their article on James Brown and hop to other articles tagged with “music.” It’s a little clumsy, but nonetheless it’s a fun, sort of Wikipedia-ish way to explore.

July 11, 2008 at 2:59 pm Leave a comment

Personal histories

Still on the Encylopedia project, of course. 310 articles down, 272 to go—it would go quicker if I didn’t take so many breaks. In all fairness, despite the eternal click-and-scroll, it’s been a fairly interesting project just for the appreciation I’ve gained for USHMM’s commitment to getting everything down on paper (figuratively speaking).

My favorite gem so far: a small excerpt from the taped interview of a Holocaust survivor, describing her liberation. Here’s a bit, but you’ll have to follow the link to hear the end, the real kicker:

And then he asked an incredible question. He said, “May I see the other ladies?” You know, what…what we have been addressed for six years and then to hear this man. He looked to me like a young god. I have to tell you I weighed 68 pounds. My hair was white. And you can imagine, I hadn’t had a bath in years. And this creature asked for “the other ladies.” And I told him that most of the girls were inside, you know. They were too ill to walk, and he said, “Won’t you come with me?” And I said, “Sure.” But I didn’t know what he meant. He held the door open for me and let me precede him and in that gesture restored me to humanity.

The testimony from the American soldier himself is here. A bit:

The girl who was my guide made sort of a sweeping gesture over this scene of devastation, and said the following words: “Noble be man, merciful and good.” And I could hardly believe that she was able to summon a poem by the German poet Goethe, which was called–is called–“The Divine,” at such a moment. And there was nothing that she could have said that would have underscored the grim irony of the situation better than, than what she did. And it was a totally shattering experience for me.

Honestly, if you’ve got a little time to spare, dig around the USHMM website a bit and find more survivor interviews–though they run the gamut from horrifying to uplifting, they’re all pretty amazing. Here’s a good place to start.

July 11, 2008 at 1:29 pm Leave a comment

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