Archive for October, 2005

Panic over Pandemics

Monday, October 31st, 2005

Last year, the US ran out of the Flu shots that ended up doing little more than nothing because the flu had mutated.

Now, everyone is beating the drum of Avian flu which is still in animals and is passed to humans. Human to human transfer has yet to occur–that mutation must happen in the future. This could be it everyone–we are all GOING TO DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The relentless news reports stoke fear and pump up pharmaceutical prices and that’s about it.



Peggy Noonan Provokes Thought

Sunday, October 30th, 2005

It may have seemed from my last post that I dismiss Ms. Noonan’s morose outlook on the future of America and all that is good and decent as overwrought angst unworthy of consideration. Not true. In fact, since reading it yesterday, her piece has stuck with me like bad barbeque–my stomach hurts so much I couldn’t ignore it if I wanted to.

Evidently I wasn’t the only one distressed by her latest offering. Instapundit thinks she should “cheer up”. The Anchoress via Gateway Pundit thinks that there is a “Painless Coup” going on and that the sleeping masses are being shepherded into the gateways of hell by the “elites” and that the answer to all of this is prayer and lots of it.

Prayer definitely is a great place to start, but certainly only a start. The good Samaritan was good because he acted when others ignored and passed by. Hand-wringing rationalization have no place in a Christian’s life.

My problem with both Noonan and the Anchoresses fine writings is that they are making the simple complicated. And the problem in America is simple–we are not going down the tubes because of bloated buerocratic policies (Medicare Drug Benefits), plagues (Avian Flu, AIDs), natural disasters, Terrorism, and overwhelmed Presidents. All these things exist, yes, but tough times have always existed (Reveolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, WWII, The Great Depression,etc.)

The problem in America can be simplified to this: The God Gap.

Two philosophical groups inhabit our land and a house thus divided cannot long stand. The first group believes that God-believers founded our country, that the Constitution’s framers meant what they said just like God meant what He said when He wrote the Good Book, that families are the foundation of society (husband, wife, kids), that self-reliance means making a living to support yourself and you family, that Freedom must be defended and fought for continually and to take that fight whereever Freedom is imperiled, that Freedom is a God-given right, that power is dangerous and to be viewed with guarded skepticism but can be a force for good, that we will have to answer in the next life for what we do in this life.

The second group believes that the Colonist’s zealotry wrongly justified their exploitation of the land and the inhabitants thus undermining their whole mission, that the Constitution like the Bible shouldn’t be taken literally–and only simpletons do this, that “good people” are the foundation of society–good meaning anyone trying to be good because we all know no one is really very good so who are you to say one way is better, that not all people have the skills, intelligence or good fortune to rely on themselves so those who are more sophisticated, smarter and fortunate are obligated to take care of the “others”, that Freedom really means freedom from condemnation which means freedom from absolutes–I am free to decide what is right or wrong, that power can and should be cultivated and used as a force for “good”–government in it’s perfect incarnation can be the father, the mother, the benign loving force that our parents never were, that if we screw up this life, we’ll have an opportunity to do better next time. And God, the Universe, she is everywhere all the time and loving if only we could tune in and let go of our restrictive past.

With all this, you’d think we’d have another Civil War right now, but we don’t. Between these poles we have people who float back and forth. Many more people simply don’t pay attention and show up and vote on election day for who their family member or friend or the TV says they should vote for.

On the other hand, people haven’t been so motivated and involved in a long time. When Bush put up a milk-toast nomination for the Supreme Court, his voters pushed back. When his underlying message was, “trust me”, I paused and so did a lot of other people. Let the Germans trust, let the Maoists trust, let Communists trust, but please don’t ask me to trust you just because you are privy to some super-secret information.

When the Supreme Court decided that it was okay for developers to take Mr. Average Joe’s house to put up super condos and this was decided by Liberal justices supposedly championing the rights of the “common man”, more people sat up. The implications of this law, the implications of a few dudes in black robes changing so many lives with one ELITE sweep–breathtaking.

When the MSM embodied by Dan Rather “reported”, a little too gleefully I might add, “new facts” regarding a presidential candidate’s past and was found to be knowingly or unknowinly duped by a partisan hack, people took note. Some people participated in the unmasking of the fraud by this little thing called webblogging on a very free Internet.

Howard Dean and his Deaniacs, helped to transform grassroots efforts also via the Internet. Passionate young people came to the fore.

Meanwhile, the MSM and cultural elites in Hollywood, along with the Good Old Boys and Gals in the hallowed halls of government and justice push back after taking some time to scratch their colletive pointy head disbelieving. How dare they? Who do they think they are? Well, time will tell what kind of people “they” are.

Ultimately, because of the God Gap, it really comes down to what exactly a person views as immoral.

One group views killing animals as immoral. The other views killing unborn children as immoral.
One group views a burdened woman while the guy goes off scott-free immoral. The other views sex outside of marriage immoral.
One group views fossel fuel use immoral. The other views drug use immoral.
And on and on it goes.

But under this, is a foundational belief. One group views The Bible to be God’s written word and that Christianity and the Freedom that America embodied as a Christian country with God-given rights to be the best protection to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The other group believes that only a Simpleton puts his faith in a God who may or may not exist and that the moral authority to freedom comes from the Individual, not God. Liberty rests in men and women fighting for their rights and those rights are defined by the individual. Men, in their essence, can come together for the common good and through this coming together benefit all.

In this secular world, which philosophy sounds more fun? Which philosophy gets reinforced daily by our popular media? Which philosophy seems more expansive and inclusive?

When wrapped up in working, taking care of kids, paying bills, etc. the underlying messages of most media we take in while unwinding in front of the tube and at the movies don’t always cross the radar screen. In fact, most God-fearing Americans, those mindless-dimwits the Elites love to dismiss, possess a live and let live attitude.

Most God-fearers have friends or family who they love who are gay. Most God-fearers also believe that being a good steward of the environment is important–they just may believe that the path to conservation comes through individual rather than governmental ownership. Most God-fearers find animal cruelty horrible. Most God-fearers give very generously when tragedy strikes.

Why? The popular idea is that a God-fearing individual is a mindless robot programmed for world-destruction through domination. Again, a Christian can have a nuanced view because Christianity allows for it:

Hate the sin, love the sinner. Dress and keep the earth. Show love to the least of these. Jesus, Himself, is dressed and fed when those in need are dressed and fed.

Christianity allows for diversity of thought because a fundamental belief is that each person must answer to his Creator. It is not for one person to condemn another–but that doesn’t mean that there is no sin.

America is rich beyond measure. Who gets credit for that? God or ingenuity (the common man)?

America helped plant Democracy around the globe. Why? Benevolent belief that God endows freedom or selfish colonialism (though we have no colonies)?

America is flawed. Why? Because people are flawed or the system is flawed?

Do we really want a secular, individual as god, state as savior, society? Do we really want society where the only agreement we have is that we all have equally valid opinions?

Where are we on the slippery slope? Ms. Noonan believes the Elites have given up and the train is careening off the tracks. I disagree. The Elites are fighting tooth and nail to grab the controls and wrest it from the common person who puts God above man. The Elites believe the future depends on Man–really important men, like them.

I don’t see apathy when I see Senators bloviating, I see antipathy. I don’t see apathy when I see that Hollywood puts out a T.V. show where “America is ready for a woman President” (which, by the way, we are, but must it be the Annointed–Hilary?), I see contempt. I don’t see apathy when I see the NYT refusing to write a correction or retraction, I see arrogance.

Antipathy, contempt and arrogance require huge sums of energy–energy spent propping up and protecting power. Far from giving up, the Elites fight as if conceding that a Higher Power than them exists, means the destruction of civilization. In fact, for them it does–a civilized man is of a different and better class, a chosen class. Elite.

If America is going off-track, it is because it is being driven there willfully and with purpose. The path, as it always is, is the path of least resistence–also known as “good intentions.” The drivers intend to end up in a man-made haven called Utopia where their rules reign supreme and everyone is equal.

If the Elites believed in Hell, that’s where they’d end up–if they succeed. The jury is still out.



Gimme Some Smashmouth Football

Sunday, October 30th, 2005

Sunday afternoon’s breezes blow through trees whose leaves are leaving as I sit at my computer reading apocolyptic rhetoric from Peggy Noonan. Oh Peggy, where do I start? Mr. Dr. asked,”Do you think she is pre-Alzheimers?” No, but she did sound like old Aunt Chicken Little, “The kids these days. GRUMPH…. The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

Ms. Noonan may be right, of course. Those acorns dropping on my head could be the beginning of something ominous. In fact, I don’t have to look far to find evidence of all things and especially people who are nefarious, mendacious and pusilanimous. This among other reasons is why we don’t have TV in our household.

Oh, we own televisions, we just don’t buy Satellite TV or TiVO or Cable or any other channel delivery system for Ms. Noonan’s very reason–things are bad. Do we need to hear it and see it and ruminate on it and pontificate about it over and over and over? NO!

TV, though, does possess a tonic for the bad news buggies: Football.

Football resolves things in ways politics never gets resolved. Two teams plan and practice ways to smash their opponent into oblivion. Strategy and surprise create tension and excitement. At the end of it all, one side wins. The other loses.

It is bad form for the losers to blame the other team, the refs, the fans, the red states or blue states. No, the players pull themselves together, get back in practice and have a go of it again next week. When will Washington losers get this message? Political losers spend more time crying foul than they spend on game plans and it shows.

Athletes, especially in basketball, get reputations if they “fall” too much feigning injury: floppers. The big cry babies annoy almost everyone and receive justifiable scorn. For all the money they make and all the elite training they receive we expect more than a soupy puddle under stress.

Since I have little hope that Washington insiders will ever get over themselves and since I depend on them gleefully pointing out infractions rather than actually playing the game they were elected to play (governence), my satisfaction will have to come from a more concrete and infinitely more enjoyable endeavor: football.

If only I had TV channels that worked.



Scooter Did What?

Friday, October 28th, 2005

While the rest of America went to work, helped kids with homework and took dogs for walks, Washington D.C.-ers waited breathlessly for a political genius to fall. Alas, Karl Rove still lurks next to W and a guy named Scooter, who by all accounts is as harmless as his name suggests, sits somewhere indicted of the same kind of ticky-tack stuff that landed Martha in the clink for six months and tethered to her house for a few more.

The only thing that these cases illustrate to me is that even powerful people are subjected to the torture only a zealous prosecuter can conjure up. For all the doctors, business people and other average Joes who unknowingly run amok of some federal, state or local statute and pay a huge financial, time and reputational price for essentially nothing, perhaps Scooter will get good representation and shove back. We can hope.

I tried to explain to a dear relative of mine (she knows who she is) that every one of us is guilty of something–America has so many laws now that none of us is immune. She balked. Ha! Let’s hope the IRS never combs through her records for a start.

The problem with all this “investigation”? An indictment is not conviction of a crime, but it might as well be. For all intents and purposes, Scooter’s reputation is toast no matter the outcome of the hugely expensive trial that he will have to pay whether he is found innocent or not. Toast.

The weird thing? People actually salivate and feel good about this. What is wrong with them? Don’t they realize that they could be next?



Search Dr. M–It’s Easy!

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

Scroll down a bit and you’ll notice right above the Abe Lincoln quote and you can search by topic. It’s easy! And now I don’t have to do the programming to catagorize everything. Have fun!

Technorati fuels that technology.



I Believe in Magic

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

Do you believe in magic? I didn’t, really, either, but it grew on me (not like a fungus, stop being so cynical!).

My friends love everything Disney like most people love their children or prized pets and it all seemed a tad excessive to me. I reserved judgement, though–I am the girl who has a 6′ tall card board Legolas in my closet, afterall. What is the big deal about a Mouse-Eared Theme Park? I learned. Anyway, you can see my friends dedication at their website Laughing Place.

There is something magical about people being kind when you’re dealing with three “energetic” children. There is something magical about the attention to perfectionistic detail. There is something magical about someone being prohibited from saying “I don’t know” and then finding an answer for you. There is something magical about fireworks on a good day, but then team them up with lasers and music on a 30 acre surround-sound system and imagine a world at peace. That first night at Epcot, I felt magic through my tears, but I still didn’t get it.

Meandering past people from all cultures getting along was definitely magical. Seeing the delight and anticipation in my son and daughter’s faces as Cinderella and Jasmine hugged them was more than magical. Seeing my husband’s face light up seeing Jasmine and wishing he could be hugged too was closer to hysterical than magical, but did prove entertaining. But, I still didn’t get it.

And then, on day two, we had breakfast with Pooh. My kids marched along with Pooh and Piglet and Eeyore and Tigger in a clamorous indoor parade utterly unselfconscious and totally believing. They knew that “real people are in there mama”, but for a moment they chose to forget and lose themselves in a world that was sweet and loving and friendly and forgiving.

I got it. A few days into Disney, my concern about Iraq and Avian Flu and Wilma waned. For ten days I got to lose myself in a world that was sweet and loving and friendly and forgiving. It is a longing that everyone, every single person in the whole wide civlized world has–that some day there will be peace on earth and perfection and answers to questions and kindness.

Now, I too believe in Magic. If only real life were as easy as Wishing Upon A Star. In the meantime, I have Disney and I can’t wait to go back.



Back in the Saddle Again

Wednesday, October 26th, 2005

Hidey ho neighbors! Hope all is well in cyber-land. Although it feels like months since I’ve been gone, bumbling around the blogosphere makes me feel like no time has passed at all. I don’t think that is a good thing.

Our trip exceeded my every expectation. The family togetherness and shared experiences will last a lifetime. I have a two lifetimes of picture management of work, unfortunately. I’ll load some up for everyone part way through this one (lifetime, that is).

You know you’ve had a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious vacation when at least one member of the family gets sick. Yup, we’ve had one (vacation, that is). I haven’t slept for a good 72 hours for more than two hours at a time. So this post will be short.

Got LOTS of topics to write about. It will be good, YOU’LL see. (I love invoking Pooh Bear.)



Wonderful World of Disney

Friday, October 14th, 2005

Going to be taking the family to Disneyworld. You may never hear from me again.

My only question: How is it possible to have no clothes and this negative thing, this black hole of style, weighs five thousand pounds? That’s what I want to know. It’s a mystery. Stephen Hawking needs to get right on that.

While I’m at the House of Mouse, Harriet Miers will be flagalated. Louis Farrakhan will wax elephant on explosives and dikes (not dykes, dikes). Burmese pythons will try to eat alligators. Iraq will attempt a democracy and for that many innocent people will get incinerated by nutjobs. The Astros will get their collective asses handed to them by the Braves…..again. Hey, wait a minute, the Astros won and are playing the Cardinals!

All in all, it will be a normal week and a half, which is to say completely nuts, but it will all go on anyway.

So, if Playhouse Disney or Rolie Polie Olie or a bunch of pre-feminist, needy princesses lock me in a room somewhere to rot, please know that I’ll die fulfilled–my kids will have met Winnie-the-Pooh in person. What could be better than that? That’s right! Nothin’!



The Value of Apology: A Path to Reconciliation

Wednesday, October 12th, 2005

What are the two hardest words to hear? Maybe “You’re dying” or “You lose” or “You’re wrong”.

What are the two hardest words to say? That’s easy. “I’m sorry.”

In fact, some people would rather hear “You’re dying” than say, “I’m sorry.”

Apologizing for hurting someone or something that someone holds dear can be very difficult. Who wants to admit that he failed? Nearly nobody.

But a wise person admits his error and corrects it. A wiser person, and a humble one, admits it not just to himself, but also to the person affected by the error. The wisest person, does everything in his power to make the situation right–mending what can be mended.

Not admitting faults is stupid. Not apologizing is arrogant. Allowing the mistake to stay uncorrected reveals a serious character flaw. Ignorant arrogance: what a deadly combination.

Pop psychology focuses on forgiveness. Little time is spent on learning to take responsibility for mistakes and making them right. Both bitterness (a lack of forgiveness) and contempt (scornful towards those you’ve wronged) eat away at the fabric of the person.

This is the perfect time of year to take personal stock. Stop carrying the burden of bad behavior. Ask for forgiveness (not to dump your emotional baggage–note to those who have “cheated” on a spouse and want to “unload”, for this I recommend your conversation be between you and God) and make it right, to the extent that you can. Some things can never be undone, but that doesn’t mean a new start can’t happen today.

If a person comes to you and asks for forgiveness and does everything in his power to make the situation right, give the blessing of forgiveness. It is a gift to the wrong-doer and to yourself. We’ve all been the person who messed up. It’s good to remember that when contemplating forgiveness.

For those of you not versed in apology here’s an example:

“Mr. ________, I am sorry that I _____________________. It was wrong and hurt you in this way: _________________________________. Please forgive me. To make up for what I did/said, I will ________________________________. Is that okay with you?”

In these days of “spinning” and “denial” and then absolute brutality when someone does finally apologize (instead of kind forgiveness), is it any wonder people don’t want to own up to their mis-deeds? Well, the answer is to apologize and do right anyway.

Our own health, physical, spiritual and mental, depends on apologizing. It’s an art that can be learned and practiced.

Reconciling ourselves to our friends, family, co-workers and customers. What could be a better way to start the day?



A Better Life

Monday, October 10th, 2005

While still in school, the dh and I visited my childhood chiropractic mentor. Funny, smart, intuitive and solid, he made his patients (including me) feel like the center of the universe when with him.

A particularily difficult patient (not the case, but the person herself) came in during our visiting time. Even the ever-unperturbed Dr. R seemed exasperated.

The woman, a semi-professional mountain-biker, had hit a stump going downhill about 35 miles per hour and landed square on her head–the full compressive force jarring through her spinal column and mashing her cervicals all the way up to her atlas (the bone the cranium rests on). She had waited six months for it to “get better” as if that would happen by magic and then wanted the good doctor to “fix me up” in one visit.

Right.

“Why don’t people want to get well?” I asked. By that meaning–not just patched up but really well. This woman could be an even better athlete with a little body-maintenance afterall.

“All people want to get well, Melissa,” he corrected, “not all know how.”

His words stuck with me, but it has taken years to figure it out. My experience hadn’t been that everyone wanted to get well. Quite the contrary, in fact. Some people seemed to relish being sick–talking about “my arthritis” or “my surgery” or “my cancer” as a badge of honor that defined them. These people seemed, to my view, to actively try to stay un-well.

If you asked the un-well people though, they would vociferously defend their actions, saying they desired to get better BUT the chemo didn’t work, or the doctors removed the wrong organ (I kid you not) or the medication needed to be at a higher dose.

Did you notice that not one of those actions was pro-active? The underlying belief was “if someone else did their jobs better, I’d be well.”

Dr. R was right, though. People do want to be well, very often, the pay-offs of change to be well don’t outweigh the risks of being sick.

Often the choices necessary to get better scare the tar out of us and we either paralyze deer in the headlights style, or “run from the pain” like some thoroughbred horses do when sick.

Lifestyle changes can mean many frightening things: confronting wife about her mean mouth so home is a place of peace where peace and healing is possible, irritating the kids by changing everyone’s diets to healthier food, taking time from a demanding boss by going for a walk at lunch or upsetting hubby about finances when he sees your actions as self-indulgent quackery.

You see? Getting healthy means a lot more than “self-control” and “discipline”. It often means upsetting some pretty heavy-laden applecarts.

Longterm health gains won’t happen keeping the system that produced the illness the same. A person embarking on a journey to health needs the loving support of friends and family. That might mean letting some relationships go and building others.

Everyone wants to get healthy. Getting healthy means healthy ideas, beliefs, relationships and the traditional diet and exercise.

Scary? Maybe. Worth it? Absolutely.