This blog has moved

For all future blog entries, see:

Why leave WordPress? Well, simply put, Blogger is a better setup and I find it more suitable for my purposes. That’s pretty much it.



Back soon. Lots to say, will get back to it in the very near future. For anyone who reads this, I thank you for your patience.

Everything & Nothing

ADDENDUM: These videos have since been removed, but I still strongly encourage you to seek them out.

This is wonderful.

This BBC production is a two-part series, each an hour in length, exploring the nature of reality and the history of how science has progressed through the centuries. It reminds me of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, but with modern production values and compacted into only two hours. Very much worth a view. Hope you enjoy!

Part one: Everything

Part two: Nothing

Michael Shermer at Powell’s: The Believing Brain

Last night, Michael Shermer visited Powell’s City of Books to do a talk and book signing based on his newest work, The Believing Brain. Was a very interesting talk and he brought up some fascinating insights about how the brain works and how our inclination for belief has evolved through human history. There were some 9/11 conspiracy theorists who made their presence known during the Q&A session, inciting a collective grumble from the rest of the crowd, but Shermer answered them politely and honestly. Dr. Shermer was kind enough to join CFI folks afterward for dinner and drinks. Overall it was good times!

Looking forward to reading this book!

Michael Shermer at Powell's

An Abortion Story

I have a story I want to share. Aspects of it may be disquieting, but the outcome is positive and the circumstances offer some important perspectives. It’s a learning opportunity above all else. The story is told by a fellow WordPress blogger here. Mikki Kendall is the author of this story, but I will re-post it on here as well. I do recommend visiting her site, as she has some insightful and important things to say. But please, if you do visit her, I ask that you be respectful of her and her family. She has already seen quite a heavy response from all this.

“Abortion Saved My Life”

So, there’s this lawmaker out of Kansas who has lots to say about abortion. He’s currently best known for saying that women should plan ahead in case of rape and not expect their regular insurance to cover an abortion if they want one after being assaulted. And we could spend a lot of time going around about the flaws in his logic, or even hashing out when life begins, but really this post isn’t about any of that. This post is about the idea that anyone besides the pregnant woman should get a vote in what she does with her body after finding out about a pregnancy. For a host of reasons we as a society seem incapable of accepting bodily autonomy in women. This is reflected in the existence of street harassment, rape culture, and the million efforts to dictate whether or not women can control their own reproductive health. This attitude that women are shirking responsibility by opting out of having unwanted children has always boggled my mind.

But then I’m a mom, and I would never want my kids to grow up an unwanted child like I did. I love my kids more than I could ever explain & I do my best to give them the childhood I never had. Because I love them I had an abortion at 20 weeks. It was my 5th pregnancy (I had two miscarriages while I was trying to conceive my sons), and as it turned out my last. It was troubled from the start, I didn’t experience any of the normal indicators of pregnancy, so I found out when I was already 10 weeks along. No missed periods, in fact I was seeing an OB/GYN who specializes in treating fibroids and endometriosis in part because of the increased heaviness of my cycle. When we found out (that standard pregnancy test before surgery is necessary after all) I talked it out with my husband and we debated aborting (I got as far as the clinic), before ultimately deciding that we would try to make it work. My doctor advised me right off the bat that she wasn’t certain of a good outcome and that my pregnancy would be very high risk. I did exactly what she said in terms of taking it easy, because I wanted to give that child the best possible chance. But the intermittent bleeding wouldn’t stop and I knew that there was a high chance that I would not be able to carry to term.

I was taking an afternoon nap when the hemorrhaging started. Laying in bed with my toddler napping in his room, and waking up to find blood gushing up my body is an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone. The placental abruption that my doctor had listed as a possibility was happening and I was going to have to do my best to take care of both of us. Mind you, my husband was at work and my not quite 2 year old sure couldn’t dial 911 for me so I had to make it to the phone & make arrangements for the sleeping toddler as well as his older brother before I could leave the house. I’ll spare you the gory details of my personal splatter flick, but suffice to say by the time I got to the hospital I probably needed a transfusion.

We all knew the pregnancy wasn’t viable, couldn’t be viable with the amount of blood I was losing, but it still took them hours to do anything, because the doctor on call didn’t do abortions. At all. Ever. No one on call that night did them in fact. A very kind nurse risked her job to call a doctor from the Reproductive Health Clinic who was not on call, and asked her to come in to save my life. Fortunately she was home, and even more fortunately she was able to get there relatively quickly. But by the time she got there I was in bad shape. Blood loss had rendered me borderline incoherent, an incredibly ignorant batch of students were fascinated by my case and more interested in studying me than treating me (one had the audacity to show me the ultrasound of our dying child while asking me if it was a planned pregnancy), and then there was the fact that I was on the L & D floor listening to other women have healthy babies while I bled out and the baby I had been trying to save died in my womb.

When the other doctor got there she had me moved to a different wing, got me painkillers (we were many hours into my hospital stay, and no one had bothered to give me anything for the pain despite my screams every time they decided to push on my abdomen or examine me for student edification), and then after checking my labs told us that I would need two bags of blood before she could do anything. Her team (a cadre of students who should all go on to run their own clinics) took turns coming in to check on me and my husband. They all kept assuring me that soon it would be over, and I would feel much better. My husband had to sign the consent for surgery (there was no question of me being competent enough to make decisions), and they took me away along with a third bag of blood to be administered during surgery.

What I didn’t know until much later was that the doctor took my husband aside while they were taking me back. She promised him she would do her best to save me, and then she warned him about the distinct possibility that she would fail. See, that doctor who didn’t do abortions was supposed to have contacted her (or someone else) immediately. He didn’t. His students didn’t either. Because I was their case and they weren’t done with me yet. Or something. Ostensibly there was a communication breakdown and they thought she had been notified, but given the talk about writing a paper on me that I do remember happening over my head? I doubt it. I don’t know if his objections were religious or not, all I know is that when a bleeding woman was brought to him for treatment he refused to do the only thing that could stop the bleeding. Because he didn’t do abortions. Ever.

My two kids at home were going to lose their mother because someone decided that my life was worth less than that of a fetus that wasn’t going to survive any way. Mind you, my husband told them exactly what my regular doctor had said, and the ER doctor had already warned us what would need to happen. But, none of that mattered in the face of this idea that no one needs an abortion. You don’t know what a woman who decides to abort needs, and you shouldn’t need to know in order to trust her to make the best decision for herself. I don’t care why a woman aborts, all I care is that she has access to safe affordable healthcare. I don’t regret my abortion, and I will never extrapolate my situation to mean that the only time other women should abort is when their life is at stake. Why? Well after the news hit my family that I’d aborted I got a phone call from a cousin who felt the need to tell me that I was wrong to have interfered with God’s plan. In that moment I understood that the kind of people who will judge a woman’s reproductive choices are the kind of people that I don’t want to be.

Pretty incredible story, if you ask me. Lots of important moral questions arise. The issue of abortion is, of course, one of the most heated debates of our time. One side of the argument feels that abortion is not only a murderous act, but one that promotes casual pregnancies resulting from promiscuous sexual behavior. The other side insists that women should have the right to make their own reproductive choices, as opposed to the state making such choices on their behalf. Judging from the above piece of writing, Mrs. Kendall and I both more closely adhere to the latter school of thought. The issue of whether or not aborting undeveloped fetuses constitutes as murder is a matter for an entirely different post. For now, I think this should be viewed as a women’s rights issue. Should women have the freedom to make their own reproductive choices and manage their own reproductive health? Most certainly YES. We shouldn’t even have to ask this question. At the same time, should a growing fetus be terminated as a consequence of that freedom? In cases where it is warranted, yes again.

More on this issue later.

Aren’t We Tired Of This?

First of all, I want to apologize for writing about this again. This is a tired subject, I know, and I really feel like I’m beating a dead horse here (I thoroughly hate that phrase, by the way). The fact remains that this is still serious shit. People have done some rather extreme things in the name of the rapture prediction, from surrendering all personal possessions to attempting to kill themselves and their family in order to avoid the suffering of the tribulation. Click the link, I am not making this up! Stranger than fiction indeed.

Harold Camping’s predicted rapture didn’t happen like he said it would last Saturday. That’s what we all observed. No earthquakes, no vanishing faithful folk, nothing. Are we surprised? Not really. And now Mr. Camping has recorded an apologetic video on the matter. In it, Camping insists that the rapture actually did happen, but that it was spiritual in nature as opposed to physical. Contrary to some news reports out there, Camping did not apologize for getting the rapture date wrong but rather for assuming it would be a physical event. Harold Camping still insists that doomsday (not the rapture, this is a separate happening) will still occur on October 21 of this year.

Hold on a minute, I need to address something. Camping says that the rapture did in fact happen and that it was spiritual instead of physical… so if that’s true, then what’s the deal with those who were spiritually raptured last Saturday? Why is Camping himself still walking and talking just like before? Why is his ‘spirit’ still doing its thing here on earth rather than floating about the heavens with Jesus?

OK, done with that aside, back to the topic at hand.

In all seriousness, I very much hope that Camping’s credibility has been damaged enough by this weekend’s lack of activity that many of his followers will think better of continuing to follow him. That is my hope, anyway, but of course what will actually happen remains to be seen. The saddest thing that emerged from this whole affair, as I hinted at earlier, is that some people are willing to put so much stock into this nonsense that they open themselves up to making terrible and often irreversible decisions that damage their own lives and those of the people around them. I keep thinking about the mom who attempted to fatally slit her daughters’ throats before turning the knife on herself. The little girls didn’t hurt anyone or commit any terrible offense, they just had a mommy who put her faith in religious bullshit.

Camping’s camp aside (sorry had to say that), it’s my understanding that the majority of Christians in America did not put stock into the May 21 prediction, but rather insist that we can never predict when the rapture will occur… but it will happen. They cite Bible verses such as Matthew 24:36, which quotes Jesus as saying “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my father only.” (KJV) This is of course referring to the rapture. These Christians do indeed believe that the endtimes are coming, but that Harold Camping had no business attempting to predict it in the first place. Several of them have come out and said that the predictions, if anything, hurt the Christian faith in that it portrays all Christians in this particular light of craziness.

Silly Christians.

Someday, perhaps, the people in this nation who acknowledge that there is no rapture or day of judgment looming over us will outnumber those who do buy into such absurdities. Won’t be anytime soon, I know, but I can still hope right?

Honestly, I’m done with all this. I’m tired of Harold Camping and his apocalyptic obsessions rooted in Christian dogma. It’s stupid, it’s pointless, and there are other pressing matters that are far more deserving of our attention.

ADDENDUM: This is wonderful!

Rapture Schmapture

Never mind all this rapture silliness. Here’s some fun footage I took last Friday on campus when we were visited by Brother Jed and his family.

Part 1 features Jed himself and then his daughter:


Part 2 features Jed’s wife: