Thursday, November 30, 2006

The New Blogger

Over the long weekend, I was able to wrest one of the computers away from my children. {We had a really slow computer that the kids disdained so I used it. DS#1 upgraded both computers, so the formerly slow computer has been "rediscovered." (Sigh.)}

But I digress...

I took the opportunity to move my blog to Blogger Beta, which means that I can do all sorts of nifty things with my blog, include add labels to my posts. I hope to have time to play with the new templates and come up with a jazzier look--one more along the lines of what I prefer.

But don't hold your breath. :)

Thoughts on Gender Identity

A couple of posts back, I spoke about the puzzle of Gender Identity, specifically relating to transgendered persons. One commenter was kind enough to provide some informational links (I'm writing this on the fly and I apologize for not posting internal links).

The gist is that human gender identity seems to be established in utero and that it's fixed. The cells of the human brain have different degrees of sensitivity to sexual hormones, primarily estrogen and testosterone, and that determines whether an individual sees himself or herself as male or female.

If the results of this research is correct doesn't this contradict the feminist argument that gender is primarily cultural?

How does an honest feminist researcher into gender identity resolve this?

Based on my own, extremely limited, personal experience, I think that gender identity has a strong biological basis, but there is a certain flexibility due to cultural influences. (Much as genes can determine your maximum height, but nutrition and environment determines if you actually achieve it.) On a purely personal note, I can't remember if I ever didn't know that I was female, although my interests have not always followed "traditional" patterns, as understood by my grandmothers.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Stating the Obvious

I just love it when researchers spend Many Dollars to come to a conclusion that most people (at least most people I hang out with) know intuitively.

To wit: Women Talk Three Times More Than Men Says Study

My uncle has five daughters. I have two sisters. The first time Hubs, then just a Boyfriend, encountered all of us, he was absolutely shocked. There were at least three conversations going on around the table at any one time and I was keeping up with all of them. When he mentioned this fact, the other seven women looked at him and said, "What? You aren't?"

Hubs asked my uncle, who is taciturn by nature, how he coped with all this chatter. My uncle wisely said, "I just wait until they've finished and someone tells me what's going on and what I have to do."

And here's the best quote from the researcher who is a feminist at heart:

Dr Brizendine, whose book is based on her own clinical work and analyses of more than 1,000 scientific studies, added: "There is no unisex brain.

"Girls arrive already wired as girls, and boys arrive already wired as boys. Their brains are different by the time they're born, and their brains are what drive their impulses, values and their very reality.

"I know it is not politically correct to say this but I've been torn for years between my politics and what science is telling us. (emphasis added--ed.)

"I believe women actually perceive the world differently from men."

That's what's known in my family as a "Sherlock" moment (as in "No sh-t, Sherlock!"). Anyone who has ever had more than a passing acquaintance with males or females knows that boys and girls, men and women respond differently to the same situation.

But there are always the doubters:

"Other scientists, however, are sceptical about the effects of testosterone on the brain and say many of the differences between the male and female personality can be explained by social conditioning, with a child's upbringing greatly influencing their character.

"Deborah Cameron, an Oxford University linguistics professor with a special interest in language and gender, said the amount we talk is influenced by who we are with and what we are doing."

While I agree that upbringing can influence a child's character (kind of nice to have that acknowledged as well!), we humans are still subject to biological influences. Why is it acceptable to acknowledge that when speaking of gender identity and gender preferences but not when speaking of gender differences? There seems to be a quantitative difference between the amount of time women talk versus men and, while it may vary among individuals it seems there is a pattern between the genders.

As the French say, "Vive la difference!"

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Book Review: The Nanny Diaries

The authors, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, have taken their years of experience working as nannies for some of Manhattan's upper class families and turned them into a novel that is funny, frustrating, and, ultimately, sad.

They are not kind to their former employers, skewering their obsessions with overprogramming their offspring to give said children an "edge" to get into the right preschool, the right grammar school, the right prep school, leading to the right university. Every minute of their children's lives is scheduled and manipulated, their diet monitored, their playdates arranged with an eye to all important social connections.

Nanny is a senior at NYU, studying child development. She has worked as a babysitter, and later as a nanny, since she was 13. She has the drill down cold. She also has divided the mothers into "types." Type A needs a nanny to provide "couple time" for people who work all day and parent the rest of the time. This type of mother will treat the nanny as a professional and with respect. Type B requires "sanity time" a few afternoons a week for a woman who is basically an "at home" mom. She recognizes the childcare as a job and after one "get acquainted" afternoon, leaves her children with the nanny and lets the nanny do her job. For Type C, "I'm brought in as one of a cast of many to collectively provide twenty-four/seven 'me time' to a woman who neither works nor mothers. And her days remain a mystery to us all."

Of course, the mother in The Nanny Diaries is Type C, with a high level, high powered investment banking husband who cannot remember Nanny's name. Neither parent acknowledges that Nanny might have a life outside of their apartment, although Nanny shares a studio with a friend and has given them her class schedule.

The child is named Grayer, and he is all but invisible to his parents, brought out for special occasions, displayed, then returned to Nanny's care.

Nanny's first challenge is to gain Grayer's trust. He is four and loves his previous caregiver who has been dismissed for having the audacity of requesting a week off in August. Nanny is not sure how to handle this until her dad advises her to be Glinda, the Good Witch, when Grayer is behaving, but to switch into Bad Witch mode when he is not. It works, and Nanny is swept into the whirlwind that is Grayer's life.

It doesn't take long before Grayer's mother, Mrs. X, begins to ask Nanny to do a "few errands" outside the scope of childcare. Nanny's own mother, her grandmother, and her father sound like a Greek chorus, urging Nanny to stand up to Mrs. X's demands, which are not truly outrageous, but are insidious.

To top it all off, Nanny meets someone, nicknamed "Harvard Hunk" (or H. H.) in the elevator of the apartment building. There may be chemistry between them--if they could only meet when she doesn't have Grayer by the hand or he's not leaving for school or vacation or an internship in a foreign country.

Then Nanny finds out that Mr. X is having an affair with the head of the Chicago office. Ms. Chicago sees herself as the next Mrs. X and is willing to use Nanny to force the situation. While Nanny doesn't care about Mr. X or Mrs. X, she does care about Grayer. And Grayer desperately wants the attention of his parents.

The situation comes to head at Nanny's graduation. And the resolution is true to what we've seen of the characters involved.

Along the way we meet other nannies, other household help, consultants, and parents who live in this insular world. Mrs. X doesn't quite know what to do when she meets parents who actually eat dinner with their children. Other parents seem quite willing to foist their offspring off on Nanny while they are visiting, even though they have never met her before. The adults and their children are lonely and lost. Nanny's family, on the other hand, are emotionally close. They might not like what their daughter and granddaughter is doing for a living, but it's concern borne out of love, not control.

This book is kind of like watching a train wreck. You know it's coming, you know the ending can't be any good, but you can't stop. I only wish that the parents portrayed in this book read it and recognize themselves (and save their children expensive therapy), but I don't think they will. Reflection is not something that is done.

The rest of us can shake our heads and maybe feel a bit better that not getting into Harvard might not be fatal.

On the March Hare scale: 3.5 out of 5 Golden bookmarks

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Book Review: A Breath of Snow and Ashes

This is Book 6 in Diana Gabaldon's ongoing series about Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser, a time-traveler from the 20th Century and her 18th Century husband, James (Jamie) Fraser.

What can I say? I've been hooked since Outlander.

980 pages gives Ms. Gabaldon a lot of room to explore the years from 1773 to 1775. Claire and Jamie have settled in the mountains of North Carolina, establishing a community of ex-Jacobite Highlanders and assorted others. But even there they are not safe from war.

Claire, her daughter, Brianna (Jamie's daughter as well, although Brianna was born in the 20th Century), and Roger, Brianna's husband, know what's coming. They know that the rebels will ultimately be victorious. They also know a price will be paid in blood.

But before Rebellion breaks wide open, Jamie must walk a tightrope. Although he lives on the frontier, his land grant is courtesy of the Crown. As a Catholic, Jamie is not entitled to such a grant--and the Governor uses this knowledge as a lever to ensure Jamie's cooperation.

Meanwhile, the Governor cannot guarantee the safety of those in the backwoods, nor does he seem able to protect them from corrupt Sheriffs, Judges, and other officials. Like a pot coming to boil, rebellion seethes just under the surface. The Governor calls upon Jamie to help keep order. Jamie's sympathies are with the rebels, but he can't declare himself--not yet.

Meanwhile, life goes on. Claire, a doctor in her time, must depend on the crude instruments and medicines available in her present. Brianna, who has a knack for engineering, tries to bring some of the conveniences and innovations of the future to her present as well. Roger, trained as a historian, has to learn to be an 18th Century husband and provider--which means hunting and butchering. Marsali, Jamie's stepdaughter, is assaulted and Fergus (Jamie's adopted son) feels particularly humilated because he cannot protect his wife. Their fourth child is born with a handicap, one which is particularly devastating in the 18th Century. Claire finds an apprentice, who is later found murdered in Claire's vegetable patch.

And the French gold intended for Bonnie Prince Charlie, but spirited away to help Jamie's aunt and uncle set up life in the New World is missing.

A Breath of Snow and Ashes is a book to get lost in. Snuggle under a comforter with a cup of tea or chocolate, suspend your disbelief, and fall under the spell of these people. Stay up reading way past your bedtime. Let the housework go. Forget the holiday stress.

One other note: There is considerable discussion about what it means to be a man, particularly an honorable man. Jamie has some very definite ideas about duty, honor, and loyalty. Much is made of his physical strength, but he is morally strong as well. And he appreciates the strength of his wife (in my experience, strong men often choose strong women for their wives). I'm not sure if this exploration of the roles of husbands and wives is more pronounced in this book than in the earlier books or if I noticed it because of discussions in the blogs (check the archives of The Anchoress and Fausta's Blog in particular).

On the March Hare scale: 4 out of 5 Golden Bookmarks.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Not All My Ideas Are Crazy

One of the things I love about Christmas are the lights on the homes and one the commercial buildings and trees. The Embarcadero Center outlines its buildings with thousands and thousands of white lights (to the left is a very poor picture of the effect). Last Friday was the Winter Carnival and Official Lighting. Since I work nearby, I asked Hubs if he'd like to meet me there. And maybe bring the kids.

Hubs thought it was a grand idea. DS#2 thought it was "stupid," but asked if he could bring a friend. DD#2 was skeptical. DD#1 came because she had locked her keys in her car and Hubs drove out to the college with the spare set.

DS#1 was no where to be found.

The kids, electronic leashes (i.e., cell phones) turned on were let loose during the "boring" part. The San Francisco High School Honor Jazz band (not to be confused with JROTC, mind you) was the opening act at the outdoor ice rink. They were followed by a Cirque du Soleil type show, combining ice skating, rhythmic gymnastics, aerial acrobats, and a drum line. Sounds weird, but it worked. Mayor Gavin Newsome did the countdown and flipped the switch and then there were fireworks. I knew we had a hit when DS#2 tried to capture the fireworks on his cell phone video display.

The fireworks were pretty awesome, considering they were set off between one of the office towers and the Hyatt Regency with a few hundred people clustered in the plaza below.

After the outdoor show, we went into the hotel for the lighting of the Christmas tree in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency. The San Francisco Girls Chorus sang Christmas carols; young students from a local Circus arts school did a great show; there were stilt walkers and clowns strolling through the crowds, and the lobby had several displays of miniature villages from a private collector. Each display had several moving parts: trains, balloons, streetcars, toboganners. When the switch was flipped, not only did the 47' tree light up, but there are thousands of strings of lights cascading down from the ceiling.

The kids were impressed.

The best part was the cost: a BART ticket, hot chocolate and a sandwich.

I love it when one of my ideas works out!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Purely Personal Reaction to the Dems Victory

What I am dreading, more than almost anything the Democrats might actually do, is reading and hearing about "San Francisco Liberals" now that Ms. Pelosi is the Speaker-Apparent.

Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer are not San Franciscans. Not really. They both are products of the East Coast.

Dianne Feinstein and SF Mayor Gavin Newsome are.

While Mayor Newsome supported gay marriage, he also supported keeping JROTC in San Francisco public high schools. When the School Board voted to eliminate JROTC, Mayor Newsome commented that they just made it more difficult to keep families in San Francisco. (Out-of-reach home prices have something to do with it, too!)

Senator Feinstein understands San Francisco's military heritage and that having a military is essential to the country's well-being. While mayor, she reinstituted Fleet Week. She tried to have the USS Iowa anchored at SF as a history museum.

Yes, San Francisco is, at its heart, a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat-and-Labor-Union town. And, like many cities, it was at once blue-collar and ultra-rich. That began to change in the '60's and '70's when San Francisco eliminated residency requirements for its civil servants. Police officers, fire fighters, teachers, even letter carriers no longer lived where they worked. Yuppies and "Guppies" moved in and they did not have children. People had "lifestyles" instead of lives.
At one time the Board of Supervisors were elected at large, which meant they had to appeal to those who lived in the Castro, the Sunset, the Mission, the Western Addition, Chinatown. Now they are elected by district and consequently their politics is driven more by identity than by an overarching concern for the welfare of The City.

The Navy closes Hunter's Point shipyard? Good--we don't want the monstrous, beastly military there anyway. Forget that hundreds of skilled blue-collar jobs (which paid well) disappeared. The Army closes the Presidio? That's great. We can use the prime real estate and buildings as "study centers" for folks like George Lucas and Mikhail Gorbachev. And we need the open space--even though the kids living in Hunter's Point or the Bayview or the Tenderloin can't get there to enjoy it.

A Christian Evangelical group held a rally at AT&T Park. During the rally, they preached about the evils of the homosexual lifestyle. A Supervisor protested, "This isn't what San Francisco is about! We're about tolerance! We're about freedom!"

One Supervisor disagreed: Michaela Alioto. She pointed out that "tolerance" means that even opinions you disagree with can be heard. Yep, she's another native.

A Odd Prayer Request

First, some background...

My kids' orthodontist is a big man and very outgoing. He usually has a smile on his face. He jokes with the kids and puts them at ease. He had me laughing when I signed the contract to pay for three sets of braces and assorted orthodontia.

In his waiting room is a montage of newspaper clippings. Seems the good doctor was a center for Joe Kapp--and the last Cal team to make it to the Rose Bowl, the Holy Grail of Pacific 10 College Football. Cal hasn't been since 1958; it's been longer since they actually won. Two years ago, USC was headed for the National Championship game and the Rose Bowl invitation was open. Cal, as usual, had a critical game coming up.

Doc happened to come into the waiting room. I smiled and said, "So, are you going to the game this weekend?"

We chatted for ten minutes or so about Cal football, about the alumni of that Rose Bowl team, about how most of them were professionals--doctors, lawyers, dentists, successful businessmen, and how they were really tired of being known as "The Last Cal Team to Play in the Rose Bowl." They were ready to hand that legacy on.

Last year, we received a letter letting us know Doc was undergoing chelation treatment for heavy metal poisoning. A couple of months ago we received a letter introducing his new partner. At DD#2's appointment last week, I asked one of the staff how Doc was doing.

"Not good," she said. "He's failing fast."

"Oh, no," I replied. "What is it? Cancer?"

"ALS," she said. "Lou Gehrig's disease."

Cal was on track to go to the Rose Bowl this coming January, until they lost to Arizona last weekend. This weekend they face USC at Memorial Stadium in Los Angeles. In order for Cal to assure themselves of a Rose Bowl bid, they have to beat USC. Cal is the underdog, by about 25 points. USC has lost once this season and they're not ready to repeat that experience.

So there are two parts to my request: one, that Cal beats USC and goes to the Rose Bowl and two, that Doc stays healthy enough to enjoy it.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Importance of Having Humor

First, go read the excellent article about "American Culture" written by The Anchoress. I'll wait.

Back again? Good.

Okay, one of the reasons I think her article is excellent is that I happen to agree with her. But, then, I have noticed that I have a somewhat odd sense of humor, one of the many legacies my father left me.

My father--in fact, his entire family--loved a bon mot, the more bon, the better. Sitting around the table at family gatherings, especially when the wines and the liquers had flowed, I learned the fine art of verbal sparring. My first attempts were crude and clumsy, more like broadswords than rapiers, but with practice I improved.

Of course, I had to learn the hard way that not everyone appreciates this sort of humor. Nor is it appropriate under every circumstance. You have to know your audience. (I also found that age improves the acceptability of this sort of humor. What got my children into no end of trouble in grammar school is now considered "witty" by their peers and adults.)

Rocky & Bullwinkle were right up my dad's alley. It was one of the few "kids' shows" we were encouraged to watch. What I didn't realize until I watched the shows on VHS many years later was how rich they were. While I caught the essential silliness of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Peabody & Sherman, Aesop & Son, and the Fractured Fairytales, what I didn't always understand was the context and the puns. I did a mental double-take when I first heard of the opera Boris Godunov.

Of course, Rocky was not the only cartoon my dad enjoyed. He liked some of the Warner Brothers and Disney classics, especially the ones that skewered the Hollywood elite or the pompous. He liked the Goofy cartoons were purported to teach safe driving skills or skiing or how to be a good dad. Or the ones were Donald Duck courted Daisy and ended up having to take care of Huey, Dewey, and Louie. (When we thought Sis#2 was going to be twins and started coming up with appropriate names, Huey, Dewey, and Louie were mentioned. Along with Faith, Hope, and Charity, as well as Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperence. Sis#2 is very glad she is a singleton!)

Dad also loved comics. When he discovered that Sis#1 and I had been buying them fairly regularly with our allowance, he asked, "Do you have any more?" We brought out our stash, thinking we were in Big Trouble. Instead, he told us, "I'd like to read them when you're finished." We should have known better--after all, we usually had to wait in line to read the funnies on Sunday. He enjoyed the action/adventure comic books (he would have laughed at the pretentiousness of "graphic novels" as well as shudder at the price), he enjoyed Prince Valiant and The Phantom, but the strips that focused on the foibles of everyday life were the ones he bother to bring to my attention.

"Did you see Zits this morning?" he would ask. Or, Hagar the Horrible. Or Sherman's Lagoon. Or BC. The theme was usually parents and kids or husbands and wives. The stuff of everyday life that drives us crazy while its going on and becomes fodder for stories around the table many years later. Okay, or just months later.

This gift of finding humor, appreciating humor, sharing humor, got me through my dad's final illness and his funeral.

"Father John came by," my mother said at the hospital when we came by to visit my dad. "He heard your dad's Confession and gave him Communion."

"Really?" I said. Turning to my dad, I added, "And he made it out of here in time to preside at evening Mass!"

Dad gave me his Evil Eye(tm) and shook his finger at me.

At his funeral, one of his close friends commented that while she had often seen my dad lying down, she had never seen him with rosary beads. She was standing in front of his open casket at the time.

"He should have the remote," Bro#1 replied. And we all cracked up, including my mother. And, I want to add, one of the few times I can remember where Dad didn't have the last word.

Today would have been his 81st birthday. To celebrate, I think I'm going to pull out my Wassamatta U. sweatshirt and visit Frostbite Falls. After, of course, picking up DS#2 from soccer tryouts. Maybe I can find a gentle bon mot in his tan knees and white legs...

Book Review: Cell

Stephen King has a knack for using ordinary things as agents for evil: a car, a dog, a small town in Maine. In this book, it's cell phones.

Clayton Riddell is "a young man of no particular importance to history." He is in Boston and has just sold his first graphic novel and its sequel for a large sum of money. To celebrate, he has bought a gift for his estranged wife and is planning on buying the latest Spider-Man for his young son. But, first he stops to buy himself an ice cream cone.

The woman in front of him in line is wearing a "power suit" and has a poodle on a leash. A cell phone is clipped to her ear. Behind her are two teenage girls. One has a "peppermint-colored" phone clipped to her waist. The woman begins a conversation with a friend, the girl's phone rings and she holds it up so her friend can hear the conversation.

Then the world goes crazy. The woman attacks the ice cream vendor. The girl with the phone attacks the woman. Her friend looks at Clay and asks, "Who are you? Who am I?"

It doesn't take long for Clay to realize that most of Boston has gone crazy. Worse than crazy--they have become savage. Clay rescues another "normal" man and together they head back to Clay's hotel, trying to avoid the savages running amok in the street and trying to understand what, exactly, has happened. It doesn't take long for them to figure out it has something to do with the cell phones.

Besides an estranged wife, Clay has a young son living in Maine. While neither he nor his wife have cell phones, his son does--for emergencies. He knows Johnny doesn't always bring his cell phone with him, so there is a chance his son has not been affected. Land lines are down, so Clay decides to go home.

The rest of the novel is the trek of the trio from Boston to Maine and Clay's search for his son. Along the way, Clay and his companions meet the Head of an elite boys' school and one of his charges. The boy has figured out what has happened to the "phonies"--much like a computer hard drive, their brains have been wiped and are in the process of rebooting. But they are becoming something other than human. The "phonies" seem to be acting as a group, as a hive.

At this point, strange graffiti appears: "Kashwak = No Fo." What could it mean?

The group makes a fateful decision and does, eventually, figure out what the graffiti means.

Like many of King's novels, his descriptions of the mayhem is very graphic. His characters range from blue collar to, well, the Head of an elite boys' school. Like many of his novels, the ending of this one is a little weak and not all together satisfying. But what a ride he takes us on to get there!

I'll never quite trust my cell phone again.

On the March Hare scale: 3.5 out of 5 Golden Bookmarks.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

More About Raijon

In my original post about Raijon Daniels, I wondered where his father was. That part has been answered.

From the Contra Costa Times:

On the day prosecutors charged the mother of an 8-year-old boy with torture and child abuse in connection with his grisly death last week, the boy's father could only shake his head in disbelief, wondering why it happened the way it did.

Desmond Landers was angry that nobody informed him about the alleged abuse.

"I'd have stepped up," Landers, 26, said outside a barbershop in downtown Richmond. "There ain't no question."

According to Mr. Landers, Ms. Moses and her family kept him from seeing Raijon. In fact, he was sending child support payments until Ms. Moses told him to stop and that Raijon was not his son. He didn't believe her--but he didn't pursue custody or request a paternity test.

Given the above, would Children & Family Services even have known there was a father around? Mr. Landers changed his name several years ago--is that change reflected on Raijon's birth certificate?

The adults in Raijon's life clearly let him down, beginning with his parents.

He didn't need a village. He needed one person who cared.

Messing with Mother Nature

The Anchoress has a link to this article in the New York Times: "New York Plans to Make Gender Personal Choice".

The idea: Under the rule being considered by the city’s Board of Health, which is likely to be adopted soon, people born in the city would be able to change the documented sex on their birth certificates by providing affidavits from a doctor and a mental health professional laying out why their patients should be considered members of the opposite sex, and asserting that their proposed change would be permanent.

But if they did that, how would the Transgendered make the plea that x% of the population is transgendered and they should be a protected minority? Wouldn't they just become part of the general population then?

But for me, this was the "money" quote:

Joann Prinzivalli, 52, a lawyer for the New York Transgender Rights Organization, a man who has lived as a woman since 2000, without surgery, said the changes amount to progress, a move away from American culture’s misguided fixation on genitals as the basis for one’s gender identity.

“It’s based on an arbitrary distinction that says there are two and only two sexes,” she said. “In reality the diversity of nature is such that there are more than just two, and people who seem to belong to one of the designated sexes may really belong to the other.”

(emphasis added--mh)

Okay, I only majored in Cell Biology at The University, but I seem to remember there are only two chromosomes that determine the gender of the human primate, X and Y. Now, if a human has a Y chromosome, that person is male, no matter how many X's may also be present. There are a whole host of physical problems associated with those who have more than two of the gender chromosomes or with those who have fewer. But, as far as I know, they still are either male or female, not some third type of creature.

There are, in fact, fish and amphibians (and possibly reptiles, though I can't think of any specifically) who can, in fact, change their genitalia in response to environmental or chemical cues. I don't know of any mammals or birds that can do the same--but, as I said, my field of study was not zoology.

However, I'm willing to wager that it was not Ms. Prinzivalli's major, either.

The only place where I've read that three (or more) sexes are needed for reproduction is in science fiction. Although male dolphins need a second male to help support the female during mating. But I think that might have more to do with the fact they are in water and don't have an efficient gripping limb.

I feel sorry for those who are uncomfortable within their own skin, who don't identify with the gender they are born with. But is the answer really to let them change their birth certificates? What if they decide they aren't transgendered at a later date? Can they change their birth certificates back?

New York City is thinking about doing this for a population that admits it's a minority. And only those born in NYC would be able to alter their birth records; merely living in NYC doesn't count. This also changes public health records and Census records.

And it avoids the whole messy issue of why these people are transgendered in the first place. Is the study of human anomalies no longer viable? Is everything "normal"? In this morally relative culture, it certainly seems that is the case. But I'm not convinced that Nature is quite so accommodating.

Friday, November 03, 2006

In Case You Missed It...

...because you were sleeping under a rock or in an Internet-free zone or were confined to the MSM for all your news:

(H/T: Free Republic)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Please Pray For...

...the soul of Raijon Daniels. You might also pray for his mother, Teresa Moses, who was arrested for his murder.

Raijon was 8-y.o. When his mother called 911, saying there was a medical emergency, the police found signs that Raijon had been badly abused physically. He was also locked in a room which mom monitored by using a baby monitor with a camera.

Child & Family Services had been contacted previously, on at least three occasions, and in each case dismissed the charges without inspecting the home.

Ms. Moses was 15 when Raijon was born. She also has a 2-y.o. daughter, who is now in protective custody. The daughter does not appear to be abused.

A couple of things stand out for me. One is how young Ms. Moses was when Raijon was born. What kind of family support did she have to help raise the boy? Did she get any parenting classes? The other is she claimed to homeschool Raijon because of conflicts she had with his school. I'm waiting for someone to claim that Raijon would still be alive if he had still been going to school. After all, no rational parent would want to deprive their child of the important social skills learned in a public school classroom. What are these parents hiding? Why don't they want their children interacting with the general public, with the children's peers?

Actually, the school was one of the agencies that reported suspected abuse to Child & Family Services. They were worried that Raijon was not being fed properly. When CFS investigated, Ms. Moses wrote, "I changed my slothful attitude and non-responsive spirit to proper discipline, to constructive discipline, time-outs, reading books, stay in your room and study, things of that nature when necessary to complete a balance in his life." I wonder if she also joined a church or a Bible group that has a literal view of "spare the rod." If she had, I'm sure that will come out and much will be made of "fundamentalist Christians abuse their children in the name of religion."

And where were the men of the family? Ms. Moses accused her ex-husband of abusing the boy, but CFS found no evidence of molestation and Ms. Moses did not return follow-up calls. The article does not indicate if the ex-husband was the father of Raijon.

Perhaps Raijon looked like his father and that caused Ms. Moses to retaliate against her son. Perhaps Ms. Moses didn't know how to handle--or couldn't handle--a high-spirited, active boy. Perhaps being a single mother of two, working full-time, and trying to homeschool was too much for her.

The community is shocked. The attitude is that, once again, the government let them down. But this community does not talk to government authorities. They'll maybe call 911 to report a gunshot victim, but they haven't seen or heard anything. Did this willful blindness--born out of a necessity to survive, by the way--cause some to overlook Raijon's neglect? To stay out of what they perceive as "family business"?

Perhaps we can name this New Orleans Syndrome; the idea that it's the Government's job to take care of all our ills, all our problems. If the people in authority don't see a problem, then there isn't one. We don't have to get involved. We don't have to take care of our family, our neighborhood. Someone else will clean up the mess.

There will be an investigation. Heads will roll. Procedures will be changed, will be tightened. Some social workers, already stretched emotionally and physically to the max, will quit. The remaining workers will do more with less. And the community will forget Raijon until the next child who dies at the hands of his mother.