Sunday, August 30, 2009


Business as usual. I was surfing for something else on the web and stumbled onto this beautiful version of the Lord’s Prayer courtesy of our Kiwi cousins down south. Leave it to the New Zealanders to adapt something and make it their own. And so often the attempts to update old prayers are well meaning but clumsy. This one works.

The Lord's Prayer(from the New Zealand Prayer Book)

Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in who is heaven:
The hallowing of our name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed b the peoples of the world.
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from on another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love now and fore ever.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Loving the hate

Tonight, for the first time ever, I found an article in a mainstream news magazine that addresses the prejudice against fat people in America. My initial reaction was wow. I've read articles like this before from different sources, but they have all had a stated Fat Acceptance agenda. There's certainly nothing wrong with that. With the exception of anti-all-weight-loss-diet dogma, I fall into that camp myself. This is Newsweek though. I see national news magazines as at least holding to the illusion if not the real goal of objectivity.

When I read the article, I have to admit that I was impressed. It addressed the general size of our population, the multiplicity of reasons behind obesity, the complexity and unrealistic expectations of weight loss, that good health and healthy lifestyles are found among the fat as well as the thin, that the rudeness fat people receive often drives them to avoid seeking medical treatment for non-weight related issues and that too much weight can have medical consequences. One of its links discusses the fallacy of the use of BMI as a health index and mentions a study that shows having a few extra pounds can add to one's life expectancy.

Then I started reading the comments about the article, and the migraine I thought I'd beaten into submission early this morning flared up with a huge spike of pain. One and a half pages into the comments, I had to give up. I almost chose not to write about this at all. I had to go back to the article though and read through the editor recommended links. Good stuff there as well, including some very interesting news about the institutionalization of fat prejudice. The comments on the main article, from what I read just proved one of the points that the article made. People love to hate fat people.

As one of the hated, I've done a lifetime of thinking about this. One of my current ideas is that our culture has a history of prejudice. It used to be something that was acceptable. What we now see as bigotry and hatred used to be called common knowledge. However, we, as a country and a culture, have had to go through a lot of growing pains to get to that point. We are supposed to have learned from the struggles, the unfairness, the bloodshed, the outright atrocities of the past.

This is especially true for the educated. Prejudice is something for the uncultivated, narrow mind, but the habits of prejudice have been ingrained by generations of practice. Maybe it's generations of seeing the first kid in class to know the answer be seen as the smart one, but reaching a quick conclusion, regardless of the complexity or factual data of a situation, has come to be regarded as a sign of intelligence. That alone can be powerful feedback. Add to that the enjoyment of hatred mentioned in the Newsweek article, and why wouldn't people enjoy prejudice and want to keep it around?

The old prejudices though are just no longer acceptable. We've learned too much. We have too much class to accept racial, ethnic and sexual bigotry as a culture (except for when we do but count on people to speak up), but we still want the comfort of a socially acceptable prejudice. Right now, fat people fill that niche.

It still ain't right. It's still wrong thinking, and there's a lot to be learned about weight, health and size.

This was originally posted at Sorting The Pieces.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Goodbye, Senator Kennedy

Back in May of 2008, when we first heard about Ted Kennedy's cancer diagnosis, I asked the ladies of "Women On" to gather their thoughts on Senator Kennedy and write a few lines. When I heard of Mr. Kennedy's death today, I went in search of those posts; mine, in particular, because I knew it said what I wanted to say today.

So, rather than just post a link, I'll repost the essay in its entirety here:

I went and asked others to gather their thoughts about Ted Kennedy, and now I find I’m having difficulty corralling my own.

JFK was the first President I knew. I was only eight years old on November 22, 1963—the day his presidency was ended by an assassin’s bullet. Even so, I recall clearly the images of that day and the days following. Jackie Kennedy in her blood-stained powder-pink suit; a shaken LBJ taking the oath of office with his hand resting on a hastily acquired bible; little John-John’s grave salute; the flag-draped casket rumbling through the streets of the capitol, the prodigious assembly of the Kennedy clan on foot behind it. And the photographs—color, black & white, blurred frames of home-movie film, from as many angles as they could lay hands upon—showing the President’s head exploding…over and over and over.

Less than five years later, we were tortured by images of Kennedy’s younger brother Bobby lying on the floor of a California hotel, stunned and broken, an assassin’s bullet in his brain. I was almost thirteen when Bobby Kennedy was killed. But for some reason I don’t recall as much of the media coverage of his assassination as I do of JFK’s. Two things come to mind: I remember that the country was still reeling from the assassination of Martin Luther King two months before. And I remember Ted Kennedy, his voice strained with tears, eloquently eulogizing his brother.

I remember thinking how hard it must be to be Ted Kennedy. How must it have been to be the baby of that privileged household, and suddenly have all their political and social aspirations thrust upon his shoulders—at the callow age of 36? He most certainly was not the best nor the brightest of the Kennedy scions, but he was the last one standing. And as such, he would take on that burden. He had no choice.

Through the years, Ted has lived a difficult and challenging life. He fell heir to the Kennedy power and entitlement, but he also inherited their penchant for scandal and tragedy. Power and entitlement saved him from the Chappaquiddick scandal, but could not spare him from the tragedies of an alcoholic wife or a son crippled by cancer. And he has toughed out forty years of increasingly blood-thirsty media that find their greatest satisfaction (and readership) in toppling or at least tarnishing anything even resembling a "hero" in the public’s eye, and thus have chosen the Kennedy clan as one of their favorite targets.

Through it all, he’s been "Senator Kennedy." In 1962, he succeeded JFK as Senator from Massachusetts (the seat was virtually handed to him as soon has he became old enough to serve.) And he has held it ever since. Through the assassinations of both his brothers; from Viet Nam through 9/11 and Iraq; through the Cold War to the fall of the Soviet Union; through Democratic majorities and minorities, and the terms of eight presidents, Ted Kennedy has served. Forty-six years. Now, his constituents back him on his own merits, rather than on those of his two long-dead brothers or his politically potent surname. He’s the elder statesman…the liberal lion. The embodiment of everything the right wing loves to hate. He’s done his best.

So I wish Ted Kennedy godspeed as he faces his own bullet to the brain. May he fight the good fight, and may his brothers embrace him when it’s over.

And so they have, I'm sure...


This entry says about half of what I’d like to say. I’ve got it in my head but getting it on paper is a problem sometimes. Oh, well, enter rant, stage right.

I know Lisa and I knew just a little of what her family went through during her dad’s final illness. Damn little it turns out.

In a twisted way, a very sick twisted way, what happened with her dad makes perfect sense. When our fellow Americans are referred to in the media it’s usually as consumers, not citizens and our mis-named health care system is not set up to deliver health: as if you could buy five pounds of health at so much a pound, but tests, procedures and surgeries. When Lisa’s dad was sent home, he was no longer a consumer of tests, procedures and surgeries.

At that point what he needed was human on human care. And when it comes to face to face, hands on interaction with another human being you have to fight like hell to get it. And the people who provide that care are lucky if they make a little above minimum wage. No reflection on them, the men and women in the trenches do the best they can with the little they get.

Dean Ornish made the comment in one of his books that a patient’s insurance company was willing to fork over at least twenty five thousand bucks to pay for by pass surgery but wouldn’t pay for office time for a doctor to counsel the patient on diet and exercise changes he/she could make to avoid needing the by pass in the first place or to avoid needing another one five years down the road.

“Reforming” health care won’t work until we rethink how we see the other human beings who live within the lines on the map labeled the United States. And that rethinking goes far beond the cost of an office visit. It's everything from access to clean locally grown food to cleaning up the toxic left overs that don't appear on corporate balance sheets. We’re human beings, not "consumers" and we have the right to be treated as human beings and to take the time to be human simply because that is what we are whether we choose to consume what the corporate culture wishes it could sell us or not.

The system, as it exists now, doesn’t support our humanity. So ladies, how do we remake the world?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another (Slightly Rambling) View on Health Care

Our friend Robin has posted a good piece on Health Care Reform here:

Health Care Rationing

She points out that her son, who works in food service, pays a lot for an awful insurance plan. He is lucky. My employees can't pay anything for any kind of plan. I couldn't possibly afford to provide it. Husband and I are covered by his Kaiser plan from his employer. If he stops working there, we are both out of luck as well.

I pointed out in a comment on Robin's post that the idiots screaming about "Death Panels" have obviously never tried to shepherd an aging parent through our health care system. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, the treatment he received amounted to minimal (and erroneous) diagnostics, and surgery to reduce the tumor and find out that the diagnostics had been off and he was much sicker than they thought.

Then they sent him home to die. Period.

We got no help from his "primary care physician." We were not referred to an oncologist. The only services he was directed to when he left the hospital were "home health'--which provided a constantly shifting array of inept nursing practitioners to come to house to "check on him" twice a week—and the place where we got his tube-feeding equipment and supplies.

No one gave us a prognosis. No one discussed with him or us what we could expect from the course of the disease. We had to scratch and claw for every bit of care he got, just to keep him comfortable. For four months.

A week before he died, when his hospice nurse had him checked into the hospital because he was unable to tolerate the tube feedings anymore and he was dangerously dehydrated, the resident on call at the hospital asked, "What is this man doing here?" Kind of like--"He's dying. He can't do that HERE."

And they made sure they got dad checked out of that hospital before he was in there long enough for Medicare to have to pay for the stay.

This was ten years ago. And let’s just say that I’m confident the system has not improved in the interim.

So who is getting all this great insurance coverage with all these choices and wonderful physicians that they don’t want to lose? And who is getting all the unnecessary procedures that they say are driving up the cost of health care? Who makes the decision that a 79-year-old man has lived plenty of life, and the dollars and the care need to go to someone else?

My family is slightly to the north of middle class, economically, and yet we are suffering substantially from the lack of accessible health care. Then I heard on NPR the other day that the West, particularly the Pacific Northwest, is a model for how well the HMO system can work. I looked at the radio like it had just vomited pea soup into my car...

Surely it’s evident that health care is just one more arena in which the wealthy are buying the right to control the outcome of the debate. Are we going to sit quietly and let that continue?

Monday, August 24, 2009

at long last...

photos from Google Images

When I was a young woman I bought and read Glamour Magazine every month. I poured over the fashion photos and read the articles and spent a fair amount of time dreaming about someday writing some of those articles. A male friend once berated me for how much I loved that magazine. He said it was a complete waste of my time and mind to read it. I pointed out that he spent at least much time perusing Playboy, Hustler, etc. I don't remember him being properly chagrined, but it did shut him up.

I haven't read Glamour in years, but it's still around. In the September issue (on the newsstands now), in an article on feeling comfortable in your skin, Glamour ran a photo, not of an actress or supermodel or of anyone whose idea of lunch is a can of Red Bull, but of 20 year old Lizzie Miller (above, left), a softball playing, belly-dancing young woman who's coincidentally 5'11" tall, 180 pounds, size 12-14, and BEAUTIFUL. One of things I love about her photo is that she's not afraid to show that like most of us, she does not have a belly off which one could bounce quarters.

Since this issue hit the stands, Glamour has been inundated with favorable letters to the editor about this pic. By
modeling industry standards (there's an oxymoron for you) Lizzie Miller is a plus size model. Dove started the Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004, in an attempt to make people realize that beauty comes in all shapes, ages, and sizes. Maybe the message is finally beginning to take.

So which model do you find more attractive?

cross posted at Talking to Myself


“Our ancestors held that both Spirit and the universe are eternal, but in dark times, both may be overwhelmed by fire and water. As we have grown in understanding, so has mankind, like the Great Spirit, developed the power to destroy by fire and water. But, like the Great Spirit, we may use our power, not to destroy, but to create and sustain. I pray that Spirit grant us the wisdom to nourish and sustain our Mother, the Earth, as she nourishes and sustains us.

May we always sow more than we reap. May we always recognize our kinship with all of Earth’s beings: with the stone ones that define this circle. The green ones that give us food and medicine, the feathered ones who carry our prayers to the heavens, the furred ones who are our guardians and guides, the scaled ones who slide between the worlds-all who grow or walk upon the earth, who crawl beneath it or fly above it, all who swim in her rivers, lakes and oceans.

I swear the oath our ancestors swore: If we break our covenant with Mother Earth and the creatures that the Great Spirit has made, may the ground open up and swallow us, may the waters rise up and overwhelm us, and may the heavens fall and crush us. So let it be.”

The setting is the ending of a Samhein celebration at Avebury Henge from the novel Overshoot by Mona Clee published in 1998. The book may be a work of fiction but eleven years later we find ourselves closer and closer to the latest incarnation of God’s Little Acre: west of the rock of rising sea levels and west of rock of rising temperatures. With just as many naysayers now as there were over a decade ago. Unfortunately the modern day Druid’s curse may end up falling on all of us; not just the blind ones who still believe that we can do whatever we want to our wounded earth and keep avoiding the consequences.

This is a better than average book by the way. Ms. Clee has an absolutely wicked sense of humor even when she is writing about the possible end of the world. It’s one of those books where you find yourself laughing because the humor is so wicked; but you’re tempted to cry because the books’ plot is so horribly possible. The main character is an eighty plus old gal who leads up a sort of commune near Oakland for the geriatric set called Withering Heights by the residents. San Francisco is half drowned and the rest of the Bay Area is was baked to a turn by the mid 2020’s.

You might be able to find a copy in the paperback section of a library and Amazon has used copies.

Insightful Reading

A reasoned argument in the health care debate:

Health Reform: Throwing Good Money After Bad

Here are a few lines I couldn't help but quote:

Alone among advanced countries, we treat health care like a market commodity to
be distributed according to the ability to pay, not like a social service to be
distributed according to medical need.

Surely this is the root of the problem...the root that is so deep and so well protected that nothing much short of an atom bomb will dislodge it...

Dr. Angell concludes her piece with these two paragraphs.

In economic terms, health care is a highly successful industry -- profitable,
growing, and virtually recession-proof -- but it's a massive burden on the rest
of the economy. I'm aware that phasing out private insurers would mean a loss of
jobs. But I believe the job loss in that sector would be more than offset by job
gains in the rest of the economy, which would no longer be saddled with the
exorbitant costs of an industry that offers very little of value to justify its
. (Emphasis mine.)

One thing is certain: We need a complete overhaul of our health system.
Tinkering at the edges won't do it. Expanding coverage through government
subsidies and mandates, as advocated by the president, won't either. Besides
being a windfall for insurers and drug companies, that approach will just add to
our soaring costs and be a temporary fix, at best. In my opinion, it makes no
sense to throw good money after bad.

Is there a way to amplify this informed, reasonable voice loud enough to drown out the dittoheads?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

but I would not be convicted, by a jury, of my peers...

I spent the day at the Crowley Building being eliminated as a juror in a criminal case. I found it incredibly frustrating. Voir dire went on all afternoon. The purpose of voir dire is to enable the parties to select an impartial panel, but of the final 12 people who were chosen from our panel of 76 potential jurors, not one had uttered a single word during voir dire. One of them, a guy in his 50’s, did speak to me in the hall outside the courtroom while we we were waiting to hear who was picked. And what did this man who made the final cut he have to say? “Well, if this “victim” is a 13 year old girl, all I’ve got to say is, 13 year old girls LIE…” He was picked over the SMU professor who had asked for clarification between individual and corporate deterrents when sentencing was being discussed, and over the business man who said, in response to a question from the prosecutor, that yes, there is a difference between innocence and being found not guilty. During voir dire, the lawyers succeeded in eliminating many people who clearly could not participate fairly in this case; however, they also appeared to eliminate anyone who appeared to be a thinking, intelligent person. The experience did not leave me feeling confident about the state of the jury system.

cross posted at Talking to Myself

Saturday, August 8, 2009

toot, toot, tootsie...

Reading the NY Times style section, I came across an article on feet. Apparently, a majority of women in the US hate their feet. Huh?

I remember in the 60's there was an ad for an exfoliant foot cream that showed a woman, apparently nude, sitting with her arms and legs crossed strategically, that read: What's the ugliest part of your body? Whoa, I found the ad on Google images; you can see for yourself:

The first time I saw that ad, I have to admit, "feet" did not come to mind...

According to the article, so many women hate their feet that there are apparently "I hate feet" groups on Facebook! Sheesh! I'm not sure why, but I've always liked my feet, and I've always taken better care of them than I have of my hands. Admittedly I now spend 9 months of the year in open toed sandals, but even when I lived in the frozen north and wore socks for 9 months a year, I gave myself regular pedicures. I read the comments posted on the NY Times article, and there were the usual killjoys, upset and critical that anyone would spend time or money having a pedicure, yada yada yada, whining that feet are purely functional. Yeah, but so are teeth, and yet most of us brush and floss daily and see a dentist a couple of times a year. Years ago I had a neighbor who loved to harass me about the fact that I colored my hair, while she'd allowed herself to go grey. One day I'd had enough and pointed out that she permed her hair on a regular basis, so really, although we were doing different things to achieve it, both of us were changing what nature had given us, in an attempt to improve our appearance. Having well groomed feet is more than just a matter of personal style, though. Ask any diabetic, or anyone caring for a diabetic, about the importance of taking care of their feet.

I've always liked my feet, and at 59, I still like 'em!