Cattle Mutilations Back in Style?

Angry Cosmic Jellyfish

I remember this kind of thing from the 70’s…

Four calves have been found dead in a pasture just north of the New Mexico state line in recent weeks.

The dead calves had their skins peeled back and organs cleared from the rib cage. One calf had its tongue removed.

But rancher Manuel Sanchez has found no signs of human attackers, such as footprints or ATV tracks. And there are no signs of an animal attack by a coyote or mountain lion. Usually predators leave pools of blood or drag marks from carrying away the livestock.

Two officers from the Costilla County Sheriff’s Office have investigated the mutilations but say they don’t know what’s killing the calves.

I wonder if the Phantom Hitchhikers are back. I’m not a vegetarian, so I’m not going to get all PETA about this. I hope that no one tortured the animals. It’s a sure thing that something from this planet took them out. Any other planet an alien might have traveled from is very far away. So the unfortunate calves were probably done in by something mundane.

ALTERNATE EXPLANATION: They went out for a cup of coffee, and given the relativistic time-dilation effect their coffee break brought them back thirty years later, Earth time.

Conscience Clause Part II

I grew up on tales of civil disobedience, I absorbed the belief that we answer to a higher standard than man’s law. I admired the Freedom Riders and Conscientious Objectors. They put their comfort, and sometimes their lives on the line.

Everything that goes around comes around. While there are many people who will follow their principles no matter what the cost, there are those who use conscience as a justification for pushing their standards on others. They feel pure, the people they are trusted to serve are subject to their judgment and bear the consequences.

The Bush administration, with its fondness for vague piety, gave cover to any pharmacist or health care provider who decided to refuse service, as long as they claimed religion. Oh, excuse me–I meant Faith. Religion is too specific, let’s not be clear when we can be evasive.

I’ve been watching this court case move slowly through the system. A nurse is being sued because she pulled out a patient’s intrauterine device without permission, and then lectured her. An IUD prevents fertilization and alters the uterine lining to make it less receptive to sperm and implantation. This is what some define as abortion. In fact, some believe that the birth control pill is abortion, and there are legal strategies in progress to separate contraception from other health care and remove it from insurance coverage.

The Freedom Riders faced dogs and fire hoses, the Conscientious Objectors went to prison or served in the hardest unwanted jobs. They stood up to power and faced the consequences. This new definition of conscience is all about the person in power exercising their conscience at the expense of the person who trusts them to provide a skilled service. Unlike the Freedom Riders and the C.O.’s, the providers are well protected by the law. But this nurse may have pushed it too far.

She could have told her employer at hire that she had a list of birth control methods she personally found unacceptable, and would not cooperate in providing care that violated her standards. She could have refused to see the patient with the IUD, and claimed conscience and let another nurse or doctor see her. She’ll have a chance now to say whether she was acting on principle, or was just clumsy. Here’s some testimony…

“[Nurse] Olona then stated, ‘having the IUD come out was a good thing.’ She asked (the plaintiff) if she wanted to hear her ‘take’ on the situation. Without receiving a response, Defendant Olona stated, ‘I personally do not like IUDs. I feel they are a type of abortion. I don’t know how you feel about abortion, but I am against them. What the IUD does is take the fertilized egg and pushes it out of the uterus.’
“Defendant Olona stated, ‘Everyone in the office always laughs and tells me I pull these out on purpose because I am against them, but it’s not true, they accidentally come out when I tug.’

The thing about conscience is that good people can disagree in important matters. I do think that medical people have a right and necessity to follow their conscience, but they have an obligation to be truthful to their patients. They do not have a right to impose their beliefs on people who are trusting them to provide care. If they need to opt out, they should make sure the patient has an alternative. Because she has a conscience too. And it’s her life and body on the line. Doctors and nurses have no right to sabotage medical procedures from some notion that they know better than the patient.

UPDATE: Apparently the case was settled out of court. Darn. I was wondering what Nurse Olona, (or Physician’s Assistant Olona in some news accounts) would have said with her hand on the Bible.

Coat Exchange

The Buy Nothing Day Coat Exchange was doing a brisk business when I walked by about 11:00, despite the change of location to the church on the corner of Smith and N.Main St. The coats and the people were nice and dry in the church basement, it runs until 1pm today.

I went to the State House lawn first, and people were gathering there for a rally against homelessness. Downtown was much less crowded than I expected, with lots of parking spaces open around Providence Place.

Some of my family might be shopping the Black Friday sales, but I’m staying warm indoors and catching up on the day job, or jobs actually.

How was your Thanksgiving?

Applying the ACORN Standard to Sarah Palin

I’m not a fan of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, or his inspiration, Allan Funt of Candid Camera. It’s very easy to take people by surprise and make them look stupid, film them unawares and show them in the worst light.

I feel a little sympathy for Sarah Palin, who was ambushed by a comedian posing as a Canadian reporter asking for America’s help in fighting socialized medicine. If Palin had time to consider the issue, and maybe study up on it, she would probably not have supported dismantling Canada’s public health system. She would instead have tapped her gift for sounding forthright and committing to nothing, you betcha.

But she was caught with her guard down and spoke her mind. A unique mind seething with visions that her staffers try to keep her from revealing before the appointed time…

After being kicked out of the book-signing, [comedian Mary]Walsh and her crew then waited outside at a loading dock close to where Palin’s bus was parked. When Palin emerged from the Borders bookstore, Walsh said, Delahunty – dressed in a more toned-down version of her trademark warrior princess costume – called out to her.

“Hey, remember us, we’re the Canadians! We came all the way here from Canada!” Delahunty yelled. “When we asked you that question, we didn’t hear your answer.”

Palin strolled over, looking down on Walsh and her crew to tell them that “Canada needs to dismantle its public health-care system and allow private enterprise to get involved and turn a profit.”

“Basically, she said government should stop doing the work that private enterprise should do,” Walsh said.

In addition to those comments, Walsh said, she found it equally bizarre that no one was allowed to ask Palin any questions at the book-signing.

“It was great fun, but also very strange,” Walsh recalled.

“We’re in a bookstore, at a public event, in a place one would think was a bastion of free speech. And no one was allowed to ask questions. What are they afraid of?”

Well that should be obvious. They’re afraid of an unscripted moment, or a mis-speak, caught by the candid camera.

Palin is a master of the wink and the nod, but she has trouble when she has to stand by her words. She’s a politician who is a serious candidate for president, by some people’s standards. She’s experienced in dealing with the press and the public, she’s been tricked before by impostors, and should be better at spotting them.

But she’s only human. Anyone can have an unwary moment. And on film or tape you can replay that moment endlessly.

So if American politics is going to slow it’s long slide into incivility, meanness and ‘gotcha’ moments, we have to start putting the brakes on.

Consider the young, low-level ACORN staffers who were lured into giving advice to some young right-wing activists who posed as a pimp and a prostitute. They were surely unwarned, inadequately trained, and ACORN has paid dearly for that failure. ACORN has other internal financial problems and might not withstand the current investigations.

But to find the whole organization guilty of wrongdoing based on some employees falling prey to entrapment and secret taping would be as unfair as claiming that Sarah Palin has an agenda to dismantle the Canadian health care system, or that Newt Gingrich tried to sell intimate encounters with himself to strip club owners– just because his low-level staffers sent some letters. Interesting mailing list they have, though. That might bear some investigation.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, when speaking to constituents this Fall at the Butcher Block Deli, said that ACORN needed to be investigated, but that he did not support imposing the sentence before the trial.

If it’s all about sound bites, ‘gotcha’ and entrapment, could any of us stand up?

Native American Democracy

Daily Kos has a fine tribute to the Original Americans.

There are not enough words to properly thank The Original Americans for their wisdom which helped form the best parts of our Republic. Thank you!

2,500 years before we arrived, The Original Americans had carved out a form of governance. It is human nature that, if a land becomes densely populated, the people will seek to create a system of management or government.

read the rest, here…

A Lot to be Grateful For

My husband and I just celebrated our 27th anniversary. It was on November 24 in 1982 that we eloped and were blessed by a true saint, MahaGhosananda. He was a great spiritual leader of Cambodian Buddhists who lived and taught in Rhode Island for about a decade. He generously agreed to perform our ceremony.

We asked him because he was the only clergyman we knew. My husband’s church– Guiding Star Baptist in Louisville on Mohammed Ali Blvd (formerly Walnut St.), was too far away. I was an ex-Catholic and a disillusioned Pentecostal, with Pagan leanings. I didn’t know that a Unitarian would have done just fine, so I didn’t ask. Not knowing how to find a priest, so to speak, we just went up to the Pope and he said yes.

I may someday know what sort of impression a couple of Americans requesting a wedding might have made on the good people in the temple. We were an interracial couple who were raised Christian and spoke not a word of their language. They accepted us, when so many around us were full of discouragement. Marriage is a leap, and when we joined hands and jumped we had to have faith. So we tuned out the discouraging words and got on the Cranston St. Bus and went to the temple to get married.

After our vows were made– our words in English with kind prayers in Khmer– the people gave us gifts of cash. I was thinking of what it might have meant, in hard-working minimum-wage time, to earn a dollar. It was hard to accept it. It’s so much easier to be Lady Bountiful, easier to give than to accept generosity. Perhaps it was a down-payment. Or a lesson.

After we left the temple we got on the bus and went downtown, to the Pot au Feu. The Pot was the pinnacle of elegant dining in the 80’s, and ain’t too shabby now. We went back last night to appreciate old times.

I’m grateful the place is still there. One lovely thing about Providence, and much of Rhode Island, is that the past is not totally razed. The bulldozers missed a lot of spots. The Custom House survives on its foundation of two-century-old stones. In the foyer of the Pot au Feu, St. Julia Child beams from a black-and-white photo near the door. She’s shaking hands with a youth who strongly resembled the distinguished man in formal dress who came to ask us how we were enjoying our dinner.

I’m grateful for what has not changed. I’m grateful for what has. When I eloped with my sweetheart I was working at a hip photofinishing lab downtown. I was out of my depth as a Rhode Island factory girl thrown in with so many future photogeniuses on their way to fame. AIDS passed through that workplace like the Reaper, taking a tithe of the young by stealth and ambush, the older by despair.

During those years, survivors of the Cambodian genocide arrived in Rhode Island. My own Irish family had preceded them by about a century, fleeing genocide by malignant neglect and an ethnic cleansing carried out via strategic advantage of crop failure . America in the 80’s was in a state of uncertainty. After the end of American war in Vietnam the college students went back to their studies. The draft was over. We had a decade of the Smiley Face. There was a natural and predictable reaction to the ‘nostalgia’ of the seventies.

In the 80’s we all wore black. If you went to buy a sweater or something you would see racks and racks of black. Sister Mary Curmudgeon could have chosen her whole year’s wardrobe at Ann and Hope. Punk was on the radio. Talking Heads was the local band that made the big time. Roomful of Blues and the Young Adults were playing at Lupos. I joined the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation and studied Uechi Karate with Charlie Earle downtown.

I remember November dusk with the glowing windows of the Arcade. I came to know Providence more intimately when I took up the occupation of nursing.

I am grateful to live in this beautiful city. I am grateful to the crazy idealists who named her Providence– who blessed her streets with names like Benefit, Benevolence, Hope and Peace. I’m grateful to be alive and feeling young at an age when Woman would be globally and historically in her old age. It’s an accident of birth, as far as I can tell. I’m grateful to live in the age of instant publishing. So I can throw this note in a bottle out to the world. Very Blessed. Happy Thanksgiving y’all.

Back on the Blog

Whew! The good news is that the guys and gals at Brown got my computer working again and it didn’t cost too much. The bad news is that they don’t know what was wrong with it. I think it’s the spirits. My coffeepot went out too, and my palm pilot has lost the touch screen on the bottom half, I’m kind of half palming until I think of something better.

So much to have an opinion on, and no one but my long-suffering husband to vent to. He did say that it was nice to see something besides the back of my head for a while.

So what did I miss?