Irish doctor with too many thoughts, too little time and a blog that's supposed to check in on reality.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Alito Yeah!

I’m an Alito supporter.
I did not like Harriet Myers at all – I thought she was a bit of a lightweight who would take up a spot an eminently qualified candidate should have.
Alito is that candidate. A moderate conservative whose professional and academic record makes him worthy of serving on the Supreme Court. As I mentioned before (and am wont to do so again) I sat in the chair of the Speaker of the Senate on one of the nights of the hearings and had my picture taken, just before the security guard rushed in to tell us to stop taking pictures.
Perhaps one the most telling facts of the sorry state of the Democrats – John Kerry used Ann Coulter’s endorsement of Alito as an argument for filibustering him!
He starts his statesman-like rhetoric (sarcasm) with the logic “If you need proof, just look at the response of Ann Coulter. Ms. Coulter is as inflammatory and as conservative as anyone in the country. She makes her living through character assassination. She denounced the nomination of John Roberts. She attacked the nomination of Harriet Miers, calling her completely unqualified and lamenting that President Bush had ‘thrown away a Supreme Court seat.’ Yet she celebrated the nomination of Samuel Alito, stating that Bush gave Democrats ‘a right-hook’ with this ‘stunningly qualified’ nominee”
Some conservatives don’t agree with Ann Coulter tactics (I’m one) – but how is John Kerry’s character assassination of Alito and inflammatory liberal reaction to Ann Coulter, morally superior to hers?
As for the Roe v Wade argument, the battle will go the states; as according to many of the politicos I spoke to last week in Washington, it’s no longer a matter of “if RvW is overturned” but when. This is a good thing, as 87% of US counties are already abortion-free – this should be an issue to be decided at a local level.    

I can not un-choose, and I can not forget.....

and that is why I will be Silent No More.

While I didn’t actually go on the March for Life (yes, I’m just a lazy sod who doesn’t believe in marching) but I did however swing by the Silent No More demonstration outside the Supreme Court on Monday evening.
It was one of the most moving events I have ever been at. Any woman who has had an abortion, and regretted it, can speak – I saw about 10 women speak, including Dr Alveda King. She is Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece and she spoke about her involvement in the civil rights movement, and how she was campaigning for civil rights, she violated the civil rights of 2 of her children by abortion. One of her abortions was involuntary – her doctor told her she didn’t need to be pregnant and performed a D&C, without her consent. The second one was because the father of the child pressured her into it.
She spoke of her guilt and anger that persisted years after her abortions, her need for healing and how all her children would one day be together in heaven.

The title and first line was from one of the other women who spoke. Their stories were varied- they were of different ages – from 60s to early 20s; from different parts of the country, some married, more single when they felt they had no other choice than abortion, but their stories were the same. Their abortions wounded them and they found the promise of choice an empty one. And they vow to be Silent No More.      


Blogs4Life and Me

As I mentioned before I left, I attended the Blogs4Life conference in Washington last Monday.
Several of the others bloggers present have already blogged on it – many on the day of it, while I’m about 8 days late. And blogging is supposed to be about instant news media!
It was fascinating to meet so many bloggers from so many different roles, religions and backgrounds. Blogging is a much more potent force in American life than here and it was interesting to observe how strongly so many of those present felt about blogging as a personal ministry especially when the blogger was evangelical Christian. I don’t think Catholics, or Irish people for that matter tend to think about “ministry” in their personal lives – well I don’t anyway.

A few things stood out for me –
1. My blogging hero, Kathryn Jean Lopez, of NRO’s The Corner was due to attend (the main reason I attended at all!), but she couldn’t because she had the flu and telephoned in instead. She chatted about her blogging and how the Corner evolved (basically someone in an editorial meeting said they should try something new, and 2 million visitors a month later they’re one of the most respected blogs around) She was pretty cool and sounded really nice and down-to-earth.

2. The makers of A Distant Thunder, Jonathan and Deborah Flora, a new 35 minute film on partial birth abortion, spoke about their supernatural court room thriller. It looked kinda scary but very challenging – check out the trailer.

3. Charmaine Yoest, blogger and organiser of the conference, played a clip originally posted to the FRCblog from an abortion clinic in Kansas. It was a 911 call from an abortion clinic worker regarding a Christin Gilbert, a 19-year old with Downs Syndrome who had returned to the clinic after an abortion, bleeding. She was now unconscious and the clinic worker refused to tell the emergency operator what was wrong with the woman. She also requested that the ambulance use “no sirens, no lights”. Listen to it yourself here.
I was horrified to think that an abortion clinic worker could be so remiss in her basic duty as a human being, to delay 40sec on a 911 call while a woman lay bleeding and unconscious. Christin later died. May she rest in peace.
I disagree with the concept of Operation Rescue, a pro-life group who monitor abortion clinics and do street counselling – I feel that there are more democratic and reasonable ways to defend the most basic human right of all, the right to life, but they may have a role in a culture where health care workers at abortion clinic are more worried about their reputation than actually providing a professional and caring service.

Check out a few other Bloggers4Life = LaShawn Barber (who published a column that day at townhall about Margaret Sanger’s racist tendencies); Faithmouse, a cartoonist who was at the conference with his lovely wife and ProLifeBlogs, a pro life blog aggregator.


Home Sweet Home

I arrived back from Washington yesterday – happily jetlagged and absolutely shattered due to no sleep on plane and reduced sleep for many nights. Oh, woe is me.
While I did read some stuff on bloglines, I had no time to blog and read all the emails, unpack and get updated on a week’s worth of local gossip (and what a week of gossip it was – why do all my friends’ lives get exciting when I go away?)

My first trip to Washington really had me questioning my chosen career of medicine – I quite literally did not think of my impending exams once over the week. Which is really quite scary – more importantly I just want to give it all up and start working in the Capitol/White House/some think tank/any mediocre outfit that would employ me.

Washington DC is cool. Arlington, Virginia where I spent 4 days of my week not quite so cool – except for the conveniently located Cheesecake Factory which resulted in tight squeeze into plane seat on the way home.
Unfortunately I did not have much time to go inside tourist attractions – I did get a late night tour of the Capitol which was very special (and got to sit in various Senators’ seats on the night of the Alito hearings! Still majorly chuffed over that)
I had a lovely walk on Saturday up the Mall and around by the White House and all the monuments. I also spent a few nights in Georgetown, including a very enjoyable night in Martin’s Tavern. And enjoyed lazy walks home through the deserted Downtown area afterwards.

Will now attempt to blog on a panoply of unrelated things….while gorging on Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – I keep meaning to see if these are sold anywhere here – anyone know???

Friday, January 20, 2006

I'm going to Washington Tommorrow

and I'm excited.
Despite the increasing study pressure, I'm leaving it all behind to go to DC and I'm excited.
It's only for a week and I'm debating bringing a small textbook to assuage any guilt that may arise.
I think the fact that I thought about bringing one probably exonerates me from actually bringing one.

I'll be doing touristy things and meeting people. On Monday, I'll be attending the Blogs4Life conference. It'll be the first time I'll meet other bloggers in person ever. (Well apart from those I met before I started blogging).
It should be good - I won't be going on the March4Life later that day - I'm not really into the whole marching thing. Should be an interesting experience anyway.

Anyway - I'm really excited and need to pack. Have never been to DC before (and I'm really excited!)

Not to leave you in the breach check out Eagle's posts on priestly celibacy and Reason magazine's article on the Alito nomination and media bias.

While I would like to think you all be berefit without me (I do know you won't - cue self pity with wailing and gnashing of teeth) but hopefully you'll manage!
I might blog over the week but as I'm not bringing my laptop, it might just be too akward.

Naomi Wolf = SHAM!

Well she does when SHAM equals Self Help and Actualization movement.

Sarah Carey has a post on Naomi Wolf's interview in the Sunday Times 2 weeks ago (and I ramble on about happiness in the comments) and a post today on Wolf's interview on Ryan Tubridy's show this morning, which I've tried to listen to but the RTE website thing doesn't seem to be working for me.

She says you want some sauce in dat, Says I, I do in my...roll!

From Ken McGuire, the fantastic Jumbo Breakfast Roll by Pat Shortt as seen on the Late Late.
Smil version, Mp3 version.

Before Fence comments again on the worrying development of people watching the Late Late at all at all, I promise not to watch it tonight!

I wonder who got the Jumbo Breakfast Roll notion first - Pat Shortt (whose song is a mini sociological masterpiece) or David McWilliams, who probably eats muesli for breakfast but followed the Breakfast Roll Man up and down the motorways of the Greater Dublin region?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Stop listening to that Devil's Music....

and join in me in listening to heart murmurs on your iPod. (check out some seriously intense whackos at Satan's Music)

According a new study listening to heart sounds recording about 500 times to reliably discriminate between the different sounds made by various heart problems. After listening to the sounds on their iPod, a group of medical students were better able to identify the heart sounds on a test - up from 30% before the practice listening session to 80 after using the iPod.

500 times - and there's about 10 or so murmurs I've to know. So that's 5,000 murmurs to listen on my iPod before well as using my demon stethoscope on patients....I will go insane.


Is the Religious Left Right and the Religious Right Wrong?

I don’t have a major problem with artists singing/ranting about their politics – if I did I would have about 2 albums, as my “politics” are not quite in line with say, Bright Eyes “When the President Talks to God”. (“patriotic” quote - When the president talks to God Are the conversations brief or long? Does he ask to rape our women's rights And send poor farm kids off to die? Does God suggest an oil hike When the president talks to God? Etc etc etc)
I just wonder will there be a similar polemic against Ray Nagin’s chats with God, where God specifically told him to create a chocolate, African-American oasis in New Orleans after God sent Hurricane Katrina as He was “mad at America... for being in Iraq under false pretences"
Blogs with interesting posts about this – La Shawn Barber and The Y Files.


Caitlin Flanagan on American Girls' Knees (Teenage Oral Sex)

Caitlin Flanagan reviews Rainbow Party
by Paul Ruditis, a young adult book that takes place on a single day, in which a tough little sophomore named Gin issues invitations to a party at which she and five of her friends will perform oral sex on the lucky guests, a group of popular boys. The girls will each wear a different color of lipstick, so that when a boy has completed the circuit, his penis will bear the colors of the rainbow. The party is to take place after school, to last about an hour and a half -- including time for chitchat -- and to conclude before Gin's father returns home from work.

In her review, the consistently thoughful writer for Atlantic Monthly, asks lots of pertinent questions like
How, exactly, in the course of thirty years, did we get from Katherine to Gin? How did we go from a middle-class teenage girl (fictional but broadly accurate) who will have sex only if it's with her boyfriend, and only if her pleasure is equal to his, to a middle-class teenage girl (a gross media caricature reflective of an admittedly disturbing trend) who wants to kneel down and service a series of boys? Katherine and her mother (who still enjoys a pleasurable sex life with her husband) represent two points on a continuum. In the mother's generation sex was contained by marriage; in the daughter's it was contained by love and relationships. The next point on this progression ought to be a girl who feels that nothing save her own desire should control her choice of sexual partners. Instead we see a group of young girls who have in effect turned away from their own desire altogether and have made of their sexuality something that fulfills all sorts of goals, but not the one paramount to Katherine and her mother: that it be sexually gratifying to themselves.

She also discusses the American's media obsession with teenage oral sex (which is girl on boy - where are the feminsts of the Story of O now?) as
It's a no-miss formula: descriptions of young girls performing oral sex that are so luridly specific as to seem pedophilic in the adults' retelling, coupled with stern warnings to parents that their daughters are in harm's way. All of which misses a less alarming but more poignant fact. What's most worrisome about this age of blasé blowjobs isn't what the girls might catch (one can contract an STD through oral sex alone; however, the risk is lower than for most other forms of sexual transmission), it's what the girls are almost certainly losing: a healthy emotional connection to their own sexuality and their own desire. In this context all the unflinching medico-sexual naughty talk is but a cowardly evasion of a more insidious problem -- one resistant to penicillin.

She then goes on
Blowjob nation has also been blamed on "abstinence only" sex-education programs. In this line of thinking the evil Republicans have made such a fetish of the intact hymen that teenagers -- parsing the term "sexual abstinence" with Jesuitical precision -- have decided to substitute oral sex for intercourse, thereby preserving their technical virginity. I'm no fan of these programs. In light of advances in birth control and the economic advisability of delaying marriage until after the college years, sexual purity seems a goal best advanced by those religions that advocate it, not by our public schools. But even if "abstinence" is at stake, why would girls voluntarily turn to giving blowjobs? Whatever happened to the hand job? Whither the dry hump? Why do girls prefer the far more debasing, uncomfortable, and messy blowjob? And why are they apparently giving them out so indiscriminately? These are questions that none of the usual suspects can answer.

Wherever there's a girl gone wild, there's a gender-studies professor not far behind, eager to blame her actions on the patriarchy.

She ends with

I believe that we are raising children in a kind of post-apocalyptic landscape in which no forces beyond individual households -- individual mothers and fathers -- are protecting children from pornography and violent entertainment. The "it takes a village" philosophy is a joke, because the village is now so polluted and so desolate of commonly held, child-appropriate moral values that my job as a mother is not to rely on the village but to protect my children from it.

I am old-fashioned enough to believe that men and boys are not as likely to be wounded, emotionally and spiritually, by early sexual experience, or by sexual experience entered into without romantic commitment, as are women and girls. I think that girls are vulnerable to great damage through the kind of sex in which they are, as individuals, as valueless and unrecognizable as chattel. Society has let its girls down in every possible way. It has refused to assert -- or even to acknowledge -- that female sexuality is as intricately connected to kindness and trust as it is to gratification and pleasure. It's in the nature of who we are.

We've made a world for our girls in which the pornography industry has become increasingly mainstream, in which Planned Parenthood's response to the oral-sex craze has been to set up a help line, in which the forces of feminism have worked relentlessly to erode the patriarchy -- which, despite its manifold evils, held that providing for the sexual safety of young girls was among its primary reasons for existence. And here are America's girls: experienced beyond their years, lacking any clear message from the adult community about the importance of protecting their modesty, adrift in one of the most explicitly sexualized cultures in the history of the world. Here are America's girls: on their knees.

Apologies for the crazed cut n' pasting but Flanagan says it very well.
I'm going to post my review of Female Chauvinist Pigs later on this evening after I do a bit of college related study!


Neil Young

This interview with Neil Young from this month's Rolling Stone starts well but dies somewhere along the way. Worth reading though if you don't know the background to the songs on Praire Wind.
Here's the 1st paragraph -
The filament tethering Neil Young to the actual world is delicate. One is aware almost on meeting him that nobody else appears to be quite as real to him as he is to himself, and that behind his seerlike eyes is a capacious landscape that is just as absorbing as the one that he sees in front of him. He doesn't seem so much defended or reserved as singularly constituted, one of the small tribe of artists for whom responsiveness is a creed. He receives songs as much as he writes them. The exchange is a mystical one, and mysticism, as G.K. Chesterton somewhere remarks, keeps people and cultures sane. Logic, too emphatically embraced, is what undoes the mind.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Equality Legislation

I don't like it. Oh, I'm fine with the big picture - we're all equal without question or qualification. But I hate this nitty bitty lawyers-gone-wild stuff which enumerates every possible inequality and puts realms of it into law.
It's fundamentally pointless.
Richard Waghorne at his hugemongous blog
Sicilian Notes has a post on Maman Poulet's posts on the EU's Resolution on Homophobia.
Legislating against speech is a bad idea - for the most part it's subjective and the test of reasonableness is hard found.
Crimes are crimes regardless of who they're committed against or why - the thug who beats up a homosexual person commits the same crime as the thug who beats up a heterosexual.
Why do we need laws to protect minorities when the main priniciple that they're protected under, namely the right to be treated equally, stands on it own?

Reactions to my post on Kevin Sharkey focused mainly on why the opponents of gay marriage should not be allowed to air their views, at all. The reasons being their hatred, homophobia and general awfulness and similiarity with Nazi apologists - I do not accept this view at all.
I think it's censorship rooted in a smug superiority that's afraid, or unwilling to engage opponents in a meaningful discourse.
If you are so adamant that those who do not agree with you are so fundamentally wrong, why shy away from the public forums where you can competently and convincingly dismantle their arguments?
Why resort to name calling and excessive labelling?


What makes a good priest?

I always thought a man who strived for personal holiness in the context of a religious vocation to serve as priest in Catholic Church was what made a good priest. Bad priests are those horrible weeds of men who abuse children.
Good priests are those that struggle daily to become saintly, while helping their parishioners where they can.
The fact that they're celibate should not turn away men who can become good priests. In fact, those that truly appreciate the nature of the priestly vocation are more likely to welcome celibacy than those that don't.

The original Fr Trendy, Brian D'Arcy with well-known Manchester priest Fr Denis Maher today both backed Fr Dillane and warned the Catholic Church that it was losing its best priests because they weren't allowed to marry.

Fr Dillane had sex as consenting adult with another consenting adult. I personally find the age difference (70 to 30) a little odd but if that's what they want so be it. He can, in full personal freedom, choose to leave the church, or cease his sexual relationship and continue as a priest.
He did committ a sin in the eyes of the Church and that is something that he must deal with himself, in the same way we all must examine our consciences.

I know from personal family experience that priests who leave the priesthood to continue relationships find it an incredibly draining and emotionally wrought experience.
All we can do is not to use Fr Dillane's personal life for some ill advised and dead ended "sex for priests" campaign and let him make his own decisions and deal with them in his own conscience, as he has done so far.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Brokeback Mountain - This Might Annoy You

Tammy Bruce has a different view on Brokeback Mountain's popularity than simply "the power of movies to change the way we're thinking."
She's speaking about how culture and movies interact and what can be gleamed from this interaction.
There are two very different issues here--the importance of marginal films that challenge the staus quo, and the value and dynamic importance of American culture. Personally,and as a homosexual myself, I like edgy, marginal films. In my first book, 'The New Thought Police.' I write about the importance of film challenging us. But there's a big difference between marginal films and what is to be determined as 'mainstream' American classics. There's a place for both, but Hollywood, of course, wants there to be a place for only one.
I want to be able to see all sorts of films, but the sort I may enjoy as a marginal person perhaps with marginal interests is not the sort of thing that furthers or makes better American culture.
And no homosexual should require society to look like them in order to have self-esteem or to feel moderately good about themselves. As long as your sense of yourself, no matter who you are, is reliant on what strangers think, you'll never truly be your own person. You will be enslaved by the attitutudes of others.
Unfortunately because of how damaged they are the Gay Gestapo relies on such Thought Police tactics. Because they want to force you to love them, and if you don't you had better pretend you do or you will be hurt. They want to wipe you from the mainstream, bexcause you remind them that they are, well, marginal.

(I told you it might annoy you - hers is not a mainstream opinion)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Bell Orchestre

Perhaps all those Arcade Fire freaks know all about these guys but the torture garden has an interview with Bell Orchestre. Pretty good stuff.


Can you not keep your hands off the template?

I just changed the links to add in some medical blogs and now the posts have disappeared to the bottom.
Why? How?

Please Click and Sign

I’ve gotten this by email 6 times today – the most I’ve ever gotten for such an email.

Join the Irish Cancer Society campaign for the introduction of free nationwide cervical cancer screening
Ireland has one of the highest rates of cervical cancer in Europe and while we know screening saves lives, Ireland has no national screening programme. The Irish Cancer Society is lobbying Government to urgently implement a free nationwide screening programme for cervical cancer.In the meantime, please visit your GP or family planning centre for a regular smear test, if you're aged 25 years or more. Screening detects cells in the cervix before they become cancerous or spread, and this allows for successful treatment. For further information on cervical smears and/or cervical cancer, call the National Cancer Helpline on Freefone 1800 200 700

C&D Fire

Just watching the news about the C&D Pet Foods fire in Longford.
I truly hope arson is not implicated – that would be too dreadful to think about but thankfully no one was hurt.
It’s so devastating for the local community – I didn’t think I knew anyone who worked there but I just saw one of the boys I went to school with on the telly.
Hopefully business will be able to resume and continue to provide employment for hundreds of people in the very un-industrialised south Longford.

All or Nothin’ At All

I’m now living the rest of my life – early mornings and long days spent in hospitals. I’m not happy.
For the 1st 5 years of medical school, I had a healthy respect for the individual timetable and happily manipulated my days to suit me (missed whole years of 9am lectures). This is no longer an option as I now have to learn all of medicine and surgery in time to pass exams in April.
So I started this morning, like all mornings since November, on the 7.10am Luas to Tallaght which decided to park its little purple bum in Belgard, one stop from Cookstown – the stop where all the medical students get out to slip in the emergency exit gate of AMNCH and to the back door of the Trinity Medical Centre. Apparently a car was on the track in Blackhorse (ages back the other direction) and we were helpfully informed that our Luas tickets were valid on Dublin Bus – there are no buses anywhere near Belgard so we all headed off through the Cookstown Industrial Estate to the 8am neurology lecture that has been cancelled and rescheduled a million times already. With the help of a friendly lorry driver we found our way out and turned up at 8.35am for the cancelled lecture (again). This was a bad start to day that ended at 6pm.
And I had 3 chapters on stroke (the hardest thing in medicine) to read for tomorrow. They’re read. And not remembered. And put in the bag to be read on the 6.15am Luas tomorrow en route to the 7 am tutorial where they’ll be discussed – God love the patient with a stroke whose breakfast we will interrupt to manhandle in the interests of “medical science”.
I’ve several things I want to write about. Even more books I want to read.
And my life is being inexorably reduced to the largest subject of all – the human body – as contained on 2 book shelves and the neatly marshalled hours of tutorials, lectures and clinics. So this blog will probably start having more “I hate my life, when will it all be over” rants and random medical facts. (Did you know that people with polycystic kidney disease get subarachnoid haemorrhages not just from the 8% of them that have associated berry aneurysms but because of the hypertension? I didn’t either)
The point of this post (there should always a point in the post) is that I’m sick of it.
I spent the weekend trying to organise my notes, bank statements, life and “study”. Study which consisted of 1 hour of nephrology last night before I watched ER.  I want to do my Leaving Certificate again. Or become Dr Auds through a meandering, gentle research PhD.
Yes, medicine is fascinating. And sitting there while patients tell you the most personal and innermost workings of their bodies is an amazing privilege. And the subtle mysteries of humanity are never ending. But dammit, the medical profession needs more night owls to stand up against the early morning tyranny.
The Irish Blog Awards have no medical blog category (probably because there are no Irish medical bloggers!) but the international ones I’ve now stuck underneath the other blogs are also checking out.
Intueri, written by a psychiatrist is especially good – I really like this post about the unexpected awe of blogging.
Perhaps my skull is simply constructed of industrial grade concrete, but sometimes I still don’t entirely believe that real human beings actually read (and care about) what I write here, let alone take notice of how my writing has changed over the years. It’s such an abstract idea: these pixels are connecting one individual (who may be thousands of miles away from here) to me. It’s actually kinda mind-blowing when I really think about it: something shifts upon this exchange of ideas.
And I guess that’s the crux of it: Writing online—or for public consumption in general—reveals a lot about the author. This seems really obvious, I know, but is it? Here I am, sitting on a charcoal grey, rolling office chair in front of my computer on a sky blue desk, by myself. No one else knows I am typing right now. And yet, in a few minutes (God willing), I will click that “publish” button on Wordpress and this text will leave the privacy of my head and the confines of this physical space here in rainy Seattle…
… and it will appear on the grey and white space that is my weblog and, for whatever reason, people (real, live human beings) will read it.


Saturday, January 14, 2006

911, NYT and wiretapping

I like this post from The Anchoress on the New York Times report on wiretapping which many now claim has made terrorists' jobs that little bit easier.
Her post is strong sentiment but her memories of 9/11 remind me of how important, complicated and difficult it is to fight the amorphous evil of terrorism. Something that here in Ireland, we thankfully don't have to think about all that much.
If it happens anywhere in America, (or, really, anywhere else) I will look toward the NY Times and the rest of the “pure, patriotically motivated” press and leftists, because they will have, by their actions and their rhetoric, enabled terrorists to move forward where they had perhaps formerly been stalled. By making the job of surveillance and information-sharing more difficult (drop the Patriot Act and Jamie Gorelick’s wall snaps back in place) and the terrorist’s job easier, they will have participated in something deadly - all because they wanted to “get” the president and keep him from succeeding - which means keep America from succeeding - which means keep the world from progressing away from the scourge of terrorism.

Kevin Sharkey, the Late Late and Gay Civil Partnerships

Kevin Sharkey was on the Late Late talking about his planned challenge to the current ban on gay marriage/civil partnership in the European Court of Human Rights.
He should have not been on the Late Late without someone providing an alternative point of view.
Regardless of his position on the issue, it is a public policy issue and RTE are required to provide fair and balanced coverage of such issues. Interviewing one pseudo-celebrity and allowing him free rein with his opinions is not good enough.
There are legitimate concerns about civil partnerships and I'm not going to get into the rights or wrongs now (my comfy bed calls me!); but it is biased and unfair to all involved to simply allow 1 specific side of an issue prime airtime, without even a substanial question from the airbrushed Pat Kenny. Do RTE assume that we all simply agree with something because its politically correct to and want to hear a little spiel from Kevin (sure, I'm from Donegal) Sharkey just to update us on our comfortable consensus?
It's a serious issue that deserves a little more rigour.
Sarah Carey has a post on gay couples adopting that has attracted lots of opinions and is worth a read. I'm still not halfway through the 40something comments!

UPDATE - Maman Poulet has post up entitled "Who's Balance Is It Anyway?" about this. She says
I believe media outlets have a responsibility to ensure that the debate on civil partnership and lgbt rights in particular is one where lgbt’s do not have to defend their existence or right to life, and equality because of some bible bashers obsession with talking about back passages (Late Late Show 1989 and many other times subsequently.)
This is not balance when the 'other side' is one which seeks to deny rights to other individuals on the basis of hate speak (no matter how beautifully or condescendingly it is phrased).

Labelling the people on the other side of the debate is not an argument. If LGB groups want the rest of us to take this issue seriously, provide us with something more than the same rancid hatred that they claim that those disagree with them have.
Telling us that those who disagree with them are the essentially scum of the earth who make stuff up is doing a disservice to themselves.
Legislation for something which has not been legislated for before does have 2 sides and both deserve a hearing. I'm disappointed that Maman Poulet does not concede that at least.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Pro James Blunt and Anti David McWilliams

This is the first time I've ever really looked at my referrals thingie and did the google searches that brought people here.
I'm number 2 on google foranti-James Blunt even though I'm a fairly dilute fan of his.
Despite my disappointment with David McWilliams loads have come looking for him here. I hope you enjoy my review of the book. I especially like the searcher who was looking for "david mcwilliams is he really so great?".

Clap Your Hands tickets featured strongly too. (you're not getting mine! ;-))
And 1 person who was disappointed came looking for "mark steyn the constant gardener". With all the colums he writes, I doubt he ever gardens.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My Life is Now Complete

with the new supermarket Fresh opened in Smithfield.
Yesterday evening I pressed my nose up to the glass and frightened the builders inside as I tried to figure out what exactly was happening in the shop.
Today, I went in and bought some lovely things, including organic curry powder and lamb's liver (I'm a huge offal fan). The fruit and veg is seriously fresh and most organic.
I didn't have much time to browse though, but I noticed bottles of lime juice, fresh fish, a seriously good looking in store bakery and Nigella Lawson's pink peppercorns (not hers, but one of her books has a recipe using them - the only one I know that does)
This will be a huge improvement to my quality of life - no more treks to Tesco in Jervis or Supervalu on North King St and no more futile trips to the dearest Spar in Ireland. Fresh is here.

In a classic "I don't know, I only work here moment", I tried to engage the checkout guy in some chat beginning with "so, you just opened today". "I don't know" was the answer.

There's an interview with Sean Kelly the developer in the Sunday Business Post: "We've opened a 13,000-square-foot supermarket and it's all about fresh food, organic food and different products.

�We want you to say that: �I will destination shop in Smithfield. I'm going to walk by Tesco and ignore the Spar shop on the corner because I get better quality deli food and more choice.�

�The word Fresh reflects everything in it. There's too much Spar, Mace and Centra around. The guy in the street doesn't find the established supermarket brands attractive. You go there because it's convenient but we want to trade as a destination.�

Fresh will still sell the old reliables, but not cigarettes. �We're not going to sell cigarettes. I think it looks grotty in Tesco and I think most people would sooner go around to the local Spar. We're still going to sell Brennan's bread and Avonmore milk though."

I'm definitely on my way to becoming a cruchy conservative- I even brought a pile of old newspapers down to the recycling bin today.

More on Abortion, Mental Health and Feminists

I posted a month ago on new research linking abortion to negative mental health outcomes.
Well, there's new research out this week saying the same thing, this time from New Zealand.
From the abstract
Those having an abortion had elevated rates of subsequent mental health problems including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviours and substance use disorders. This association persisted after adjustment for confounding factors.

Also, OxBlog links to an exercpt from Meet the Press with Kate Michelman, the president of NARAL. She gives the pretty standard feminist party line on the issue...

But you can be absolutely anti-abortion, if you will, and pro-choice; believing that women ultimately, not the government, not Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay and Bill Frist, but women themselves must determine the course of their lives, and central to that determining the course of their lives is determining when and under what circumstances they will become mothers. Because the thing that most women want is to be successful at mothering. And the first ingredient is being able to determine when that time is right and not being forced by the government and by politicians or by judges to bear a child under circumstances of one—not of one’s choosing. So I...

MS. O’BEIRNE: Well, as Kate just explained, you cannot believe that there ought to be legal protections for the unborn and not be read out of the modern women’s movement.

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

All's Right With the World Again

Mary’s inda house again. Well, she’s gotten the chance to marshal the buachailli dana in the Dail again, if the people of my home constituency deem her suitable….

Mary O’Rourke’s beaten Boxer Moran at the FF selection convention and is back in the running – just like the good old days, Longford and Westmeath are all loved up together again. Longford’s brief affair with Roscommon was never gonna work as votes don’t swim the Shannon. However, we can look forward to more showdowns at Tang (where I attended National School) with the school marm back in action.

I’ve posted on O’Rourke before and this is one Longford-Westmeath vote that she’s very unlikely to get.

Update - actually, all's not right with the world - Richard Delevan has the low down. I only heard that she had gotten in last night on the bus from Athlone at about 10 pm (I missed the train). The comment was not played so I cannot comment on the reaction from the bus travelling crowd leaving the great town of Athlone. Perhaps it was the "inaudible gasps" that I missed.

update 2 - Kinda pathetic that I giggle at my own sad jokes but I reproduce a comment of mine from Damien Mulley's blog here - Oh, Mary, where would the Midlander stereotypes of BIFFOs and boggers be without you?
Unlike George W, who Anne Richards described as being born with a “silver foot in his mouth, Mary O’Rourke was born with a silver lump of turf in hers.

Friday, January 06, 2006

I'm for families; I'm for values....

I noted my reaction to the family in Family Stone a few days ago.
Meghan Cox Gurdon has a piece in OpinionJournal about the increase in Hollywood families with loads of children and the stereotypes that abound.

"Some adults flare their nostrils with distaste at the sight of even one child. Little wonder then, that large families will come in for hard looks from those who believe that they are overpopulating the planet, or selfishly consuming too many resources, or simply exhibiting religious zealotry. (Demographically at least, the last is true.)
The odd thing is that, off the screen, large families are seldom the ones with wildly misbehaving children. In real life, they tend to be the orderly people with the polite children, the families in which older siblings can be seen caring for their little brothers and sisters without griping about it. Indeed, onlookers are so taken in by the popular stereotype that they are often surprised to see a large family acting peacefully."

The Clone Wars

Wesley Smith at Secondhand Smoke has been following the Hwang fake cloning story in great detail over the last few weeks.
I especially like the post on how the fact it didn't happen, doesn't actually affect research.
"I don't think it has set back research, but clearly we weren't as far forward as we thought we were," says Jack Price, professor of developmental neurobiology at the Institute of Psychiatry in London.

He mentions the story about how Hwang coerced the women in his lab to donate their eggs. What an exploitation of women!

The Time magazine's bizarre spin is also dissected by Smith -

By all accounts, the tales of Hwang's dedication and personal discipline are all true. Hwang was one of the first to arrive in the lab, at 5 a.m., and rarely left before midnight. He rejected the role of aloof, inaccessible scientist to become a father-like figure for his young charges. And he introduced some genuine innovations into the science of cloning--gently squeezing the nucleus out of a donor egg rather than sucking it out violently and inserting the entire adult cell, not just its nucleus, into the hollowed-out recipient egg. Hwang insisted he had no interest in profiting from his discoveries; indeed, he turned over his patent rights to the university and the government.

That being the case, it seems unlikely that Hwang set out to perpetrate fraud.
Hwang claims it took six months to recover from the disaster. But it also might be that Hwang's team couldn't recover quickly enough and began taking shortcuts to fill the gap. Under pressure from the government and the university, and with a deadline looming for publication in one of the world's most prestigious journals, the temptation to stretch the truth [!!!] might have been irresistible...

Incredible - the man lies and defrauds the scientific community, but because he works hard and is "father-like" his greed for fame is overlooked because of deadlines - what planet is Time on??

Hwang deliberately misled Science and more importantly, then profits from his "discovery" in terms of recognition, which amounted to pretending to vulnerable patients that their diseases could be cured his way. Whereas most of the advances in terms of treating disease in animal models, and in some humans, has been from the use of adult stem cells.

The scientific community should not protect Hwang or anyone like him. Nor should the media, and more importantly, the media shouldn't pretend that his concepts of cloning are the only way that these therapeutic revolutions can happen.

Good news for Women with Ovarian Cancer

Today's NEJM publishes a paper on intraperitoneal chemotherapy for women with stage 3 ovarian cancer - it improves survival.

This is very good news not just for ovarian cancer patients, but anyone with cancer which may spread transcoleomically (through the layers of the linings of the bowel and abdomen). Basically injecting the chemo drugs straight into the peritoneal cavity (the tummy!) instead of intravenously is more effective.

More on Demographics

If, like me, you like Mark Steyn, you'll like this.

If you don't, it's still an intersting and prescient read.

Since the president unveiled the so-called Bush Doctrine--the plan to promote liberty throughout the Arab world--innumerable "progressives" have routinely asserted that there's no evidence Muslims want liberty and, indeed, that Islam is incompatible with democracy. If that's true, it's a problem not for the Middle East today but for Europe the day after tomorrow. According to a poll taken in 2004, over 60% of British Muslims want to live under Shariah--in the United Kingdom. If a population "at odds with the modern world" is the fastest-breeding group on the planet--if there are more Muslim nations, more fundamentalist Muslims within those nations, more and more Muslims within non-Muslim nations, and more and more Muslims represented in more and more transnational institutions--how safe a bet is the survival of the "modern world"?

Is this question scaremongering? An overreaction? Or something we should think about with clarity and honesty?
The follies of multiculturalism for its own sake aren't discussed without the requisite meaningless drivel about tolerance. We are doing a disservice to ourselves and to those of non-traditional faiths, including fundamentalist Muslims who live here, by pretending differences in philosophies on how societies should be run, are excused under the guise of progressive lovey-dovey tolerance. Stoning women who have been raped and amputation instead of a fine are not facts of daily life that any Irish person would welcome.

Read Steyn's article - even you hate him.....


Thursday, January 05, 2006

More Immigration = More Patriarchy??

From the excellent Civitas

Of the women not born in Britain who in 2004 bore a child in Britain, 27 % came from the Indian sub-continent and 13% from Africa, parts of the world not noted for being in the vanguard of sexual equality, especially in occupations to which the attach the greatest prestige, income and political power. The traditional societies in these regions tend to be distinctly patriarchal in character.

These facts suggest that, quite apart from any other reasons, the suggestion made by the Equal Opportunities Commission in its just-released annual sex and power survey that it might take as many as 200 years before women enjoy as much power as men do in Britain could well be overly optimistic. Indeed, given cultural inertia, and the changing demography of Britain, the balance of power between the two sexes could well in future start to tilt further in the opposite direction with more and more patriarchy.

Carry On Doctor....

When people hear I’m finished med school in April they invariably ask what I’m going to specialise in. I have no idea whatsoever, which after 6 years is a little pathetic so I mutter incoherently about clinics, surgery, general practice and forensic pathology.
I just did the Medical Specialities Aptitude Test which despite having 130 questions, just repeated the same few about listening, working hours, being part of patients’ lives and manual dexterity.  

So, my top 10 options for my future career in medicine are -
preventive med     
occupational med     
allergy & immunology     

The top 5 specialities are the things I hate the most. If I was a pathologist I would gouge my eyes with my microscope by the end of my first day. I can’t see the difference in slides to save my life, let alone anyone else’s.
The other speciality that, in my estimation is all about imagination, is radiology. I would hate that too – living in a dark room, pretending to consultants that you too see that tiny slightly-different-shade-of-white line burrowing its way into some indistinguishable anatomical dead end .
Theoretical medicine (preventive and occupational) is dry, boring and inhabited by people who feel way too passionate about it and tend to give really long lectures. No way.
The next option is neurology, which I thought I would love as I really love neuroscience and Oliver Sacks, but when I did it I was underwhelmed. It’s all about grey area, maybes and infighting (the Dublin neurologist case conference is the bitchiest event I’ve ever been too)
Cardiology is becoming a real possibility – I heard a murmur today and came up with the diagnosis of aortic stenosis with my trusty stethoscope. Given that yesterday, I believed stethoscopes were the implements of the Devil and my one was especially cursed – I could never hear anything with the blasted thing. Now, I feel all warm and fuzzy toward my little green Littmann.
The derm/immuno route is quite interesting and involves lots of new and exciting science and patients that can be cured.
Aerospace medicine came in at 26 which sounds like so much fun, but the likelihood of getting a consultant job in Ireland depends on the future of the Irish Space Programme. I don’t think even Soldier Willie’s Moustache dreams about that.
The one I return to again and again is GP (which came in at 33), mainly because the hours are less than 100 hours a week – unlike all specialities mentioned above.

There is another way to help choose a speciality – this algorithm. I like the simplicity of the first criteria – crazy or sane???
And if you are medically inclined, you will get a giggle from this – If you’re not into medicine, you’ll probably think we’re all bad, mad or just very sad.


Irish Blog Novel Plotline

Any suggestions?

The Wonkette's novel featured in 2 articles in NYT books in recent days is described as
The two friends concoct their fake blogger to divert attention from Melanie and Rick's affair, which is in danger of being exposed. They also cook up Capitolette to give the book its entree into the blog world. "She was fascinated by the blogosphere, though she had a hard time explaining why," Ms. Cox writes of Melanie, with the limp faux naïveté that makes much of "Dog Days" so tepid. Anyone expecting "Dog Days" to sound like Wonkette will wait a long time for any Wonkette wit to kick in.

What would the Irish version be like? I know some bloggers want to write books but all flashy awards aside, I can't imagine enough there'd be enough glamour in the Irish bloggers life to write a whole novel!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Crunchy Conservatives

Rod Dehrer writes in Sunday Times about the emergence of Cruchy Cons in the UK as he as noted them in the US.
If I was David McWilliams (there's a thought I never thought I would have - bit like what would Jesus do??) would I call him a Juicy Carrot Rural Nostalgist Contrarian????
"Although the loony lefties who lead the environmental movement are deeply off-putting, my wife and I recoiled from a crass conservatism that had no use for conservation and which never saw a field or a forest that it didn't want to pave over to create a Wal-Mart parking lagoon."

THERE is much more to this than just conservation. In a nation that, like Britain, lives for shopping, Julie and I disdained malls and mass-produced culture. As a general rule we preferred the Small, the Local, the Old and the Particular over Big and Global and New and Abstract.

Because we value family above all, Julie chose to quit her editorial assistant’s job to take full-time care of our first-born son — a move that put off even some of our conservative friends.

We thought we could do a better job of teaching our son at home than public or private schools could, so we committed ourselves to the growing home schooling movement, which in New York City attracted mostly left-wing nonconformists.

At the same time the white-bread happy-clappy services at the neighbourhood Catholic churches bored us silly, so we started attending mass at a Maronite (eastern rite) Catholic parish church where the ancient chants and liturgies were still celebrated.

You get the picture. We are crunchy, for sure, but not liberals. We are traditionalist conservatives of the Catholic sort who identify more with Pope John Paul II, JRR Tolkien, GK Chesterton and even, God help us, with the Prince of Wales when he talks about the value of small farms and traditional town design.

Here are some of the original National Review articles - 1, 2 and 3.

While I wear Birkenstocks (had a really cute pink pair this summer) and think organic apples/meat etc taste better than the other kind, I'm not really sure if I'm a cruchy con.
I don't recycle. I know those 3 words are enough to strike me dead in some circles - but I don't. I couldn't be bothered. I'm fairly sceptical about nearly all the environmental issues of our day. I didn't even send a stop sellafield postcard that time.
In recent weeks, I have however, finally grasped my mother's composting work of art, did seperate the plastic from the paper in her bins and bring bottles to the bottle bank. But, me, in my world, I don't do recycling.
I simply couldn't be bothered.
(Please don't send me recycled bombs in the post - I'm not worth your ire)

So this is the New Year for the Retail Challenged

My scheduled tutorials were cancelled for this afternoon so I headed out to the South Dublin Shopping mecca – Dundrum.
I was playing my iPod on random and just as the Luas stopped at Ballally I got Death Cab for Cutie’s “New Year” from Transatlanticism. .
Here’s the start –
“So this is the new year.And I don't feel any different.The clanking of crystalExplosions off in the distance So this is the new yearAnd I have no resolutionsFor self assigned penanceFor problems with easy solutions”
I’ve no resolutions except the one I made when I was about 12 – that I would go to bed before 12 and get up when my alarm went off. We’ll see how it goes, but the last 10 years, and the last 3 days of 2006 have shown its success to be very unlikely.
But I’ve business proposition for a problem with an easy solution.
I’m retail challenged.
I hate shopping – I think retail therapy is a capitalist conspiracy (and I’m a sworn free market capitalist)
I’ve only been to Dundrum once before and that was after a trip to the Central Mental Hospital. I hated it then and I hate it now.
Got on grand for the first 15-20 minutes or so and then the headache sat in. Went into Virgin Megastore which had a really good Folk section that I wanted to explore but my gyri started to shrivel and bounce against the walls of my skull. The unse-unse-unse music was turned up and I ran away. I then wandered aimlessly through shops, disgusted, depressed and annoyed. Nothing in my size except things I didn’t like. Got told by one shop assistant that “no, we don’t have that boot in 8 – that’s very big isn’t it???”. No it’s not, stupid shop assistant  - size 12 is big for a woman. Size 8 is rarer than 5, but so is 3. I’m 5 foot 7 and a bit. My feet have to hold me up somehow – centre of gravity and all that.
Went into Starbucks for a muffin which was so horribly stale I had to return it. Then I tried to get some juice in Boost. But every option I wanted was unavailable – no mangoes, carrots, pineapple or passion fruit – so I had an orange juice which I drank on my way to the Luas, while running away from South Dublin’s Hellmouth.
My little business proposition is very simple – Shopping Centres arranged per size – the size 12 shop, the size 14 shop, the size 7 shoe shop etc.
Then, I could go shopping, look at what was available in my size and more importantly not fall in love with things that will never fit me.
Each of these shops would be organised as per item of clothing – coats, long and short, short and long sleeved jumpers etc.
There could also be a cross referencing system which allows those of us who only wear 4 colours (black, brown, burgundy and pink) to explore the greater shades of the universe. These fashion dictates would, of course, be optional.
Perhaps, in the meantime, I could use last year’s Christmas present – a Colour Me Beautiful voucher from my mother. Not for my mother (a la Bridget Jones’ mother) but from my mother for me. That’s how bad it is.


Sinead ends her residency at sigla blog with a bomb of a piece - so honest, well written and clear. It certainly ensures that I'll be reading her blog forever.
She speaks uncompromisingly about her possible infertility. Read it. My synoposis will do her no favours! I can't comment at her site so I'm commenting here....
Sinead mentions 2 things that I want to note -
1. The Chlamydia problem. It's real. It's serious and noone's talking about it. We've ads about "it only takes 1 sperm" but nothing about this very serious health risk to young women especially. I posted a while back on new research about teenage sex and depression - as a society we must examine what exactly we want teenagers to be doing. (well what message we want to send anyway) Chlamydia is a disease that can affect any age but there is a proven increased risk related to early onset of sexual activity.
2. IVF.
It doesn't always work - it fails 75% of the time.
I'm not going to go on about its expense etc. Martina Devlin has written loads about the emotional expense.
While there are many women who will be infertile due to disease or medical treatment, there are many more who have unexplained infertility that is linked to nothing. I read some woman recently (no idea where - probably a Sunday paper) giving out about fertility specialists "scaremongering" about the ideal age to get pregnant (early 20s) and 2006 should be a year free from such bullying.
That's rubbish. Anne Crittenden's "The Price of Motherhood" paints a picture of an IVF clinic waiting room where 40 something women are hoping desperately for the final thing-to-do to materialise. This is the reality of modern life.
There has to be sensible middle road somewhere - I don't know what exactly and most of these great sociological ideas are pretty hard to put into action. For example I do like the idea of an early-ish marriage followed by time off for kids and then back to the career as I should (statistically) live well into my 90s.
This however is unlikely at the moment as I lack a boyfriend. Hell, I even lack a crush. It's hard to envisage early marriage and kids (before I'm 30!) when I don't even fancy anyone from afar let alone have real prospects.
Ah, yes, the sad moaning singleton. I'm a living, breathing cliche. And pass me the Ben and Jerrys, please.

Best of 2005 lists

I did my fav albums ages ago. In recent weeks I have really come to appreciate 29 by Ryan Adams and Twin Cinema by the New Pornographers so I would try and fit them somewhere into that list.

Sinead and in fact ah have their best gigs of 2005 up – mine are
  1. Bruce Springsteen at the Point. See my review here. He’s the greatest.

  2. Laura Cantrell in Whelans.

  3. Willie Nelson/Mary Gauthier at the Point.

  4. U2 – the 1st night in Croke Park. I was in the pit and queued all day and it was so good. Review here.

  5. Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion in Whelans. I really like them. And urge you to check them out. There was something delightfully homespun about them and they lacked all artifice. They happily made mistakes and bantered in their earnest American way and I was entranced – mainly by 1 amazing song – “In a Young Girl’s Mind”. Check out a little sample here. And you can hear their live EP here.

Other best of lists worth checking out include –
Kollege Daily’s lists. Best of is at bottom of page after the Onion’s Least Essential.
Pitchfork’s best of 2005. I haven’t heard of most of them but those that I have I agree with. Except Sleator-Kinney.
Against the Grain’s top 10
Hickory Wind 1 and 2 for Americana – my fav genre.


Happy New Year!

I hadn’t meant to delay so long in getting back to the blog, but the piles of milk tray and pudding that I had to cross to reach the internet connection thwarted me every time!Christmas was a quiet affair – the only excitement being that the 2nd reader didn’t show up for Midnight Mass and I had to read both readings. There was an embarrassing conflab with the psalm soloist who I thought was the reader and then he said “but there’s a psalm” and I said “there’s one every Sunday – is the choir singing it?” Not the conversation to be had while standing at the pulpit and the Church fuller than it is all year. We also had a few ewes lambing – lambs are really the cutest animals alive!
I saw 4 films over Christmas –Family Stone and Just Friends (last night) at the cinema; go once for a few giggles and forget all about them! I also saw Pirates of the Caribbean on TV which was better than I had expected and Hitchcock’s Rebecca – which was absolutely fantastic. The remake is so rubbish in comparison. Mrs Danvers is so scary and you really get a sense of Max and Mrs De Winters love – both of which are major themes in the book, but are lost in the modern version.
I also read a lot – I spent New Year’s Eve reading “These Old Shades” by Georgette Heyer and listening to the New Pornographers’ “Twin Cinema”. While they sound like an unlikely combination, I happily dreamt of Justin, Duke of Avon while humming “Sing me Spanish Techno”.
I just have one pseudo political point to make – why do Hollywood portrayals of liberal families involve loads of love and books? The love bit I can stomach, but the whole books everywhere thing just annoys me – the Family Stone’s house was like a library and everyone kept reading. What’s the point? That liberal families are these greatly evolved dynasties where intellectualism, humour, love and acceptance abound? That conservative families are dim witted and bigoted in comparison? Once you’ve read a few books, how can you be anything but painfully politically correct?
This point really rung home when I read Zadie Smith’s On Beauty – her portrayal of 2 families headed by opposing academics was sympathetic, realistic and funny. I wanted to spend time with the Belseys despite disagreeing with every thing they stood for. She does pander a little too much to the bullish conservative notion with Monty Kipps, but the fantastic Mrs Kipps saves the day. Also, we don’t get to see the world from the Kipps point of view, we just see the Kipps from the liberal Belsey’s POV which is entertaining.
Recommend it a lot. Also White Teeth, which is similar in many ways, is also a really good read.