Thursday, November 30, 2006

Family Influences Sexuality


A major study published last month in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal, Archives of Sexual Behavior, provides striking new evidence for the influence of childhood family factors on sexual-orientation development.

The study used a population-based sample of 2,000,355 native-born Danes between the ages of 18 and 49. Denmark -- a country noted for its tolerance of a wide variety of alternative lifestyles, including homosexual partnerships -- was the first country to legalize gay marriage. The researchers assessed detailed marriage records for all Danish-born men and women marrying a
same-sex partner from the years 1989 through 2001.

With access to the "virtually complete registry coverage of the entire Danish population," the
study sample therefore lacked the problematic selection bias that has plagued many previous studies on sexual orientation.

Parental Influences on Sexual Orientation Development

The authors conclude: "Our study provides population-based, prospective evidence that childhood family experiences are important determinants of heterosexual and homosexual marriage decisions in adulthood."

Assuming that people who marry heterosexually are almost always heterosexual -- especially in a country where homosexuality carries little stigma, and gay marriage is legal -- and people who
marry homosexually can be presumed to be homosexual, the study's findings offer intriguing evidence about family factors separating homosexual from heterosexual persons.

The following are findings from this new data:

    • Men who marry homosexually are more likely to have been raised in a family with unstable parental relationships -- particularly, absent or unknown fathers and divorced parents.
    • Findings on women who marry homosexually were less pronounced, but were still associated with a childhood marked by a broken family.
    • The rates of same-sex marriage "were elevated among women who experienced maternal death during adolescence, women with short duration of parental marriage, and women with long duration of mother-absent cohabitation with father."
    • Men and women with "unknown fathers" were significantly less likely to marry a person of the opposite sex than were their peers with known fathers.
    • Men who experienced parental death during childhood or adolescence "had significantly lower heterosexual marriage rates than peers whose parents were both alive on their 18th birthday. The younger the age of the father's death, the lower was the likelihood of heterosexual marriage."
    • "The shorter the duration of parental marriage, the higher was the likelihood of homosexual marriage...homosexual marriage rates were 36% and 26% higher among men and women, respectively, who experienced parental divorce after less than six years of marriage, than among peers whose parents remained married for all 18 years of childhood and adolescence."
    • "Men whose parents divorced before their 6th birthday were 39% more likely to marry homosexually than peers from intact parental marriages."
    • "Men whose cohabitation with both parents ended before age 18 years had significantly (55% -76%) higher rates of homosexual marriage than men who cohabited with both parents until 18 years."
    • The mother's age was directly linked to the likelihood of homosexual marriage among men -- the older the mother, the more likely her son was to marry another man. Also, "only children" were more likely to be homosexual.
    • Persons born in large cities were significantly more likely to marry a same-sex partner -- suggesting that cultural factors might also affect the development of sexual orientation.

    • "Whatever ingredients determine a person's sexual preferences and marital choices," conclude the study's authors, "our population-based study shows that parental interactions are important."

The reference for their quotes was: "Childhood Family Correlates of Heterosexual and Homosexual Marriages: A National Cohort Study of Two Million Danes," by Morten Frisch and Anders Hviid, Archives of Sexual Behavior Oct 13, 2006

LifeSite story link.

The abstract for this study can be found at SpringerLink.

There's no doubt in my mind that genetics plays a role in our personalities and traits, but family plays a crucial role in whether certain traits are mitigated or exaggerated.

It looks like an interesting study anyway.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thousand-Hand Bodhisattva

Twenty-one deaf Chinese women dance beautifully together. Check it out.

Thousand-Hand Bodhisattva

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Gift Card Theft

The following was emailed to me by a friend:

Well the crooks have found a way to rob you of your gift card balance. If you buy Gift Cards from a display rack that has various store cards you may become a victim of theft. Crooks are now jotting down the card numbers in the store and then wait a few days and call to see how much of a balance they have on the card. Once they find the card is "activated", and then they go online and start shopping. You may want to purchase your card from a customer service person, where they do not have the Gift Cards viewable to the public. Please share this with all your family and friends...

Snopes says this is possible in certain cases. Read the whole article to discover ways to protect yourself and those for whom you buy gift cards from being defrauded of the card's purchasing power. If you're going to fork over money for a gift card, you'll want it to actually be worth something when you present it to your friend or loved one.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Acid Bombs Explode in Maine Walmart

Two homemade acid bombs exploded in a Skowhegan, Maine Walmart on Saturday at 3:15 in the afternoon, scattering and frightening shoppers. One had exploded in a pet aisle and the other in the toy area. At least eight were treated for minor injuries such as ringing in the ears and irritation to throat and eyes.

Apparently, the formula for such bombs can be found easily on the internet and made with common household products so anyone could produce one. When mixed together, the chemicals expanded in their plastic container until it exploded. Two fifteen year old boys were charged with criminal use of explosives after a parent of one of the boys recognized him from the photo and met with police. Both boys have been released to their parents’ custody.

The conflicting emotions that must have swirled about in that parent can only be imagined.

Is this a case of foolishness being bound up in the heart of a child or of evil lurking within the heart of man? Regardless, the boys will undoubtedly suffer consequences for their behavior.

Sources: Kennebec Journal and CBS 4

Hat tip to The Bos’un Locker. Read his post and comments here and here.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

My Holiday

Here's where I spent my Thanksgiving holiday--in the foothills of the Appalachians with family and friends. Where'd you spend yours?

Traveling down wasn't too bad, until the rain hit. Driving in the storm was more disconcerting than usual, as we were listening to McCullough's "The Johnstown Flood" on CD. The trip home was better since the skies were clear. However, by that time they were searching for and trying to identify the dead, cleaning up, and attempting to affix blame--on the CD, that is.

The in-between part was best of all, of course. Lots of loved ones all about, laughter, merciless teasing from "siblings" (it's rumored that I smacked one in retaliation, but don't you believe it), kids running around who were actually very well behaved, cooking, cleaning, visiting a dairy farm and getting slimed by calves-- you know-- the whole holiday thing. Hope yours was great too.

Friday, November 24, 2006

I'm Gooder at Grammar

Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

Ah. That's better. Perfect score. (But don't look at my blog too closely, because I regularly find errors when I look at posts later.)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Happy Thanksgiving!

Many of you will be traveling the next couple days and visiting with loved ones. Have a blessed and safe holiday. If you've got family and friends, count your blessings since when all's said and done the people we love are what it's all about.

Most years I search about for displaced people who have no one with whom to share the holiday for whatever reason. The best Thanksgivings and Christmases always seem to be the ones in which we have such special guests. They always bring so much to a gathering. This year I am not hosting so I don't have that liberty. If you find someone who can't make it home for the holiday, take him or her in for me, please. You won't regret it. But make sure he knows that he's doing you the favor by coming to your feast. If he thinks for a minute that he's a charity case, he'll avoid you like the plague (and in the generosity engendered by the holiday you'll forgive the over-used simile, yes?)

So happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in the U.S. and blessings to all my readers from outside the country.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I Guess I Deserved My High School Diploma

You paid attention during 97% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

This score is soooooo embarrassing. I thought the quiz was exceptionally easy and can't imagine which one I missed. It must have been a stupid mistake as I clicked away with one hand and shoved popcorn into my mouth with the other. Yeah, that's it. No more binges during quizzes.

Thanks to Jeff the Baptist for another fun quiz. Even if I did miss one. And he didn't. I know it's not because he's smarter than I am. (Careful, Jeff. I'm holding your book hostage over here.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

That Was a Good Question

"'You clearly have no understanding of certain people's need for private transport.'
-Stan Rosenfield, publicist for actor George Clooney, after a reporter asked why Clooney drives a fuel-efficient electric car but burns 7,000 gallons of jet fuel by traveling to Tokyo on a private jet."

Source: "World" November 4, 2006

(Hmmm. Good question. I'm pretty sure that there are commercial flights to Tokyo from the U.S. I'm so sure, in fact, that I am not even going to waste my time to do a search and provide a link to prove it. I bet if Clooney were to travel with a few hundred other people on the same plane he could cut down significantly on fuel usage and pollution to the environment. Do you think someone should tell him since he is, after all, a staunch supporter of the environment?)

You know, even in a large, less-than-fuel-efficient vehicle, I don't think I and my family could use 7000 gallons in fewer than several years. Also, we carpool, regularly sharing driving with other families whenever possible to reduce time, cost, and yes, even pollution. Why, I'm positively green!

Saturday, November 18, 2006


When we think of the first Thanksgiving, we conjure up images of the fifty-one surviving Pilgrims and ninety Native Americans feasting after the 1621 fall harvest. Though they never called it Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims were indeed thankful and became the model for our Thanksgivings today.

But why were they so thankful? To whom were they thankful? Would we have been thankful in similar circumstances?

Over one hundred Pilgrims and Strangers had traveled across the ocean on the Mayflower, the Pilgrims in search of a place in which they could practice their faith without losing their children to the surrounding culture. The trip was treacherous. There were storms and winds. Sea-sickness, intestinal disorders and foul smells abounded. Personality conflicts were bound to happen in cramped quarters when people weren’t feeling well. A couple even died along the way.

Arriving in Massachusetts in November was unfortunate timing at best. It was long past the growing season, and shelter needed to be set up quickly. Originally supposed to have landed at an existing settlement in Virginia, they were now on their own far to the North. That first winter, half their number passed away. Life was hard. Yet half remained, and they found room in their hearts for gratitude to God. The following autumn, they rejoiced and feasted in what we call the first Thanksgiving with the Native Americans who had aided them. I suspect that they may have possessed a better character than I.

I often wonder how we can have so much and yet raise young people who think life is unfair when they can’t have the latest and greatest fashions and toys. I’m guilty too. Far too often, I complain when I ought to praise.

At one point when my children were rather young and I was worn down from the constancy of their needs, it occurred to me that my attitude was counterproductive. I decided it was time for a change. At night as I collapsed into bed exhausted, I recounted my blessings to God. Thank You, Lord for one more day. Thank You, Lord for giving me these children to love. Thank You, Lord, that I had food to feed them today. Thank You, Lord, that I had the physical capacity to meet their needs today. Thank You, Lord, that we have shelter and warmth. Thank You, Lord, for loving me and caring for me no matter what.

It’s amazing what a change of focus can do for a person. The Scriptures teach us to give thanks to God and to maintain a heart of thanksgiving. Sometimes I forget that. I suppose some people might balk at commands to praise and give thanks to God and think God is a self-centered being to demand our praise and gratitude. Yet it’s not for His sake, but for our own as He hardly needs our attention. As we focus on Him and become more thankful, we benefit. We become healthier and happier. We become more generous and helpful to others. Our relationships become more peaceful and loving.

Apparently one need not be a Christian to practice thanksgiving. One relative of mine does not claim to be a Christian, yet she keeps a journal of thanksgiving in which she recounts her blessings on a regular basis. I wonder if this practice has a foundation in the Christian faith in which she was raised even if she doesn’t completely practice it now. Regardless, she is one of the most generous, giving people I know. I think there is a connection between her focus and her generosity.

I think it is time this Thanksgiving and Christmas season for me to refocus. I want to return to my “no whining” stance (or at least decrease my current level of whining) and increase my practice of gratitude and thankfulness. Perhaps I will start by reinstating our “tell us what you’re thankful for” rounds at Thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps I’ll return to my habit of recounting my blessings when I lay in bed at the end of the day.

Perhaps you’ll join me?

A link if you're interested: Pilgrim Hall Museum

Blogging Chicks carnival will be hosted today at Suspension of Disbelief.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Adult Stem Cells and Heart Valve Therapy

From Citizen's Link:

Scientists with the University of Zurich have grown human heart valves using stem cells from amniotic fluid, The Associated Press reported.

The promising research has the support of the pro-life community. Unlike embryonic stem-cell research, which always requires the destruction of life to extract the cells, noncontroversial adult stem cells — such as those used in the heart-valve research — do not require the loss of life.

The goal of the research is to aid preborn children with heart defects. Scientists could grow the valves in the lab until the baby is born and able to undergo transplant surgery — bypassing the need to wait an additional six to eight weeks that is necessary to grow the valves before they are ready for surgery.

Dr. Simon Hoerstrup, the lead scientist, presented his research Wednesday at an American Heart Association conference.

"This may open a whole new therapy concept to the treatment of congenital heart defects," he said. "(It's) a promising, low-risk approach enabling the prenatal fabrication of heart valves ready to use at birth."

A heart-valve defect can be detected by about the 20th week of pregnancy. Hoerstrup estimated at least a third of infants with the problem would benefit from such treatment.

More than 1 million babies are born each year with heart problems.

Amniotic stem cells can also be frozen, Hoerstrup added, and could be used to create replacement organs for aging or diseased valves in adults.

I'm not sure what we need embryonic stem cells for since all the breakthroughs so far have come from adult (non-embryonic) stem cells.

Click here for more information about stem cells.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Bear Connection

Eureka! All these years wondering why I can't sleep as well as I'd like, and I've finally found the answer. It's just too warm.

I'm pretty sure there's a connection; I can be a real "bear" when I'm tired.

No Cruising

A friend sent this to me recently:

I had a wreck a couple of weeks ago and totaled our Lincoln Town Car. I hydroplaned on Hwy 135 between Gladewater & Kilgore, Texas. I was not hurt, just emotionally rattled! I know the Lord was with me.

I learned a lesson I'd like to pass on to you. You may know this already---but the highway patrolman told me that you should NEVER drive in the rain with your cruise control on. He said if you did and hydroplaned (which I did) that when your tires were off the road your car would accelerate to a high rate of speed (which it did). You don't have much, if any control when you hydroplane, but you are totally in the hands of God when the car accelerates. I took off like I was in an airplane. I'm so thankful I made it through that ordeal. Please pass the word around about not using cruise control when the pavement is wet or icy. The highway patrolman said this should be on the sun-visor with the warning about air-bags.

The only person I've found out who knew this (besides the patrolman) was a man who had a similar accident and totaled his car. This has made me wonder if this is not why so many of our young people are dying in accidents. Be careful out there!

This story had begun making its rounds in email in 2002. Snopes says it's true, but gives a fuller explanation of the phenomenon:
Snow, ice, slush, or even rain can cause wheel-spin and loss of control, situations to which drivers must react quickly. Although cruise control can generally be cut off by the driver's simply tapping the brake pedal, the extra reaction time required for a motorist relying upon cruise control to recognize the danger of the situation when his wheels begins to spin or slide on a slippery surface, bring his foot up off the floor to the brake pedal, and disengage the cruise control can be crucial (especially for drivers lured into a hazardous level of inattentiveness on long, flat stretches of road).
You can read the full Snopes entry if you wish.

Just thought I'd pass the info along. Stay safe!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Speeding=Child Abuse

A West Palm Beach, Florida man was charged with child abuse for speeding. Seriously.

When I first read the caption I thought, you've got to be kidding.

But go read the article.

The guy was clocked at 103 mph in a 55 mile zone while workers were working construction. The man and his thirteen year old son smelled of alcohol.

So what do you think? Does this qualify as an "intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child"--the legal definition of child abuse?

I just can't justify 103. I've never gone that fast except in an airplane (which I was piloting at the time, by the way). I like speed, but not 103 mph on U.S. highways. No way. Even the Autobahn has an advisory speed of 81 mph. (Hmmm... that speed caution surprised me. And to think I've always longed to drive it. Doesn't sound like such a much with an advisory speed limit on it.)

Lock him up? Yeah, probably. Nevertheless, there's still this fear gnawing at me that next thing you know, they'll be taking people's kids away when they're driving 75 on the interstate.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Jury's Still Out

Last week news broke that the alleged attempted "honor" killing of Kaihana Hussein was a hoax. Newspaper reports indicated that the seventeen year old apparently had lured her parents into her room and blindfolded them for a “surprise.” The surprise? She was going to kill them.

Still, various commenters continue to weigh in with their opinions. One commenter, Anonymous, started the ball rolling with his claim that Kaihana was really the murderer and that her claims that she was almost a victim of an honor killing were lies. Current news reports seem to bear out that claim. She has been arrested.

Nevertheless, more commenters have come by, one a close friend of Kaihana. She said that there was a history between the girl and her parents and that she believes the original accounts in the papers were closer to the truth.

It’s all enough to make a person’s head spin! Clearly, news reports in Australia confuse people as much as news reports in the U.S. do, and some people close to the situation in Australia have a very different take on events than what is reported in the news, just as happens here in the U.S.

If the recent news reports are correct, then this young woman did the unthinkable in committing matricide and attempting patricide. With the focus of human rights groups and the UN on violence against women, including honor killings, she claimed that her parents had tried to kill her after she expressed interest in converting to Christianity.

Undoubtedly, it is difficult for normal people to imagine parents trying to murder their children or children their parents. Such people must have given in to a wickedness in their souls that would cause others to shudder. However this case turns out, one of those unthinkable alternatives did happen or was attempted. The home should be a place of peace and love and acceptance. Obviously and sadly, this home was not.

If Kaihana is guilty, then this young woman has sunk to even deeper depths of wickedness. How so? She claimed she was the victim of an attempted honor killing thus cheapening the suffering of thousands of women in the world. She claimed she was the victim of religious persecution thus cheapening the suffering of Christian martyrs for two millennia, Jews for even longer, and Buddhists in Tibet, for example.

Women who lie about rape are similarly evil. Not only do they wrongly accuse an innocent man of a crime, but they make it harder for true victims to press their case. If no woman ever had lied about rape, women may not have to suffer humiliating cross-examinations that cause many a woman to decide against pressing charges. False allegations of such a heinous crime make it easier for those predisposed toward callousness toward rape victims (and misogyny in general) to blow off the seriousness and the reality of victims’ claims.

If guilty, then Miss Hussein played off the international attention of the past few years on honor killings, a horrible abuse toward women mainly in the Middle East, South Asia, or Mediterranean regions. Now victims who escape may have an even harder time pressing their case and being believed. Additionally, religious persecution is a real phenomenon in this world, and many have suffered and are suffering for their faith. Yet Miss Hussein would have been attempting to take advantage of a growing concern about religious persecution by claiming that she was yet another victim. These claims made her an even more pitiable soul than if her parents had “merely” tried to murder her in an outburst of rage and certainly garnered more attention and support for her supposed suffering.

If, on the other hand, her father, Dr. Hussain, killed his wife and attempted to kill his daughter, then this would be yet another case of honor killing on which the UN and National Geographic have reported—yet another case in which women are kept in line one way or another. Regardless of who is guilty, there can be no happy ending in this story.

Despite the possible treachery of this one young woman (or the possible heinous actions of her parents), good people must never give up exposing evil wherever it resides and fighting for the protection of women and children, religious minorities, and all who suffer.

Previous posts on this topic are here, here and here.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Christmas Giving Idea

Looking for a classy yet inexpensive gift-giving idea for Christmas?

Why not make your own homemade vanilla and present it in a decorative bottle? It's a terrific gift idea for teachers, coworkers, neighbors or friends. But start early. It's at least a month-long process.

Go read more "Holidays Made Easier" tips from this week's Blogging Chicks Carnival.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

We Remember on Veterans' Day

Today we remember and honor those who have fought under the U.S. flag. They have often sacrificed earthly comfort and wealth and even life and limb to perserve our nation and our freedoms. Perhaps Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, USMC said it best:

"It is the soldier, not the reporter who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag."

Here is a video which incorporates excerpts from several speeches in honor of Veterans' Day.

Also, below is a very moving music video in honor of Canadian Remembrance Day which can certainly be applied to U.S. military veterans as well. Be sure to check out Word around the Net for the story behind the song.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Post-Election Ramblings

My, but I’ve been neglecting my blog as of late! I’ve just been so depressed by the results of the election that I’ve barely been able to drag myself out of bed. This is the first time I’ve lifted my head since Tuesday…….NOT.

Actually, I’ve just been busy with work, family, and a new friend who is facing a challenge with which I am fairly uniquely qualified to help. This is a case in which the needs of the one outweighed the needs of the many.

So why did the obviously disappointing results of the election last Tuesday not generate more concern from me?

For starters, the results were not overly surprising. The base has not been thrilled with the Republicans for some time now. They seem to have run on one platform and then governed from another. Conservatism is alive and well. It’s merely Republicanism as recently practiced that has suffered.

The results also were not all that shocking as Americans are a bit finicky. We like controlled change. How often do we vote in a President of one party and a Congress of another? We actually seem to like the friction which seems to bring a sense of balance in our minds, keeping any one group from being too powerful. At least that’s my observation.

To tell the truth, I went to bed Tuesday night, knowing things weren’t looking good and yet slept quite well. That’s rather significant for an avowed insomniac. I rested in the knowledge that the worst that would happen if Republicans managed to pull it out was that we would have to listen to a lot of whining, complaining, widespread accusations of cheating, demands for endless recounts, and other examples of poor sportsmanship. If, on the other hand, the Democrats won, there’d be some fairly mature displays of resignation to the will of the people by Republicans and it would all be over. In other words, it really wasn’t going to be all that bad either way. There’d be no buildings burning, cars being over-turned, or armed militants in the streets determined to force their candidate’s way into office. The world as I knew it would not end either way. America’s capacity for accepting the will of the people is remarkable. The system works.

Now, do I have some worries about a Democratically controlled Congress? You betcha. For one thing, Pelosi keeps using the word “civility,” yet I have deep concerns regarding her understanding of that word. But we’ll see. They can do a fair amount of damage in the next two years, especially if they see the election as a referendum for their own policies (which were?….I still don’t know!) and not as a rejection of leaders who failed to listen to the people who elected them. At least that’s how I interpret the results. I could be wrong. Time will tell. On the bright side, two years may be just enough time for them to so thoroughly disgust the American citizenry that they respond by putting another conservative into the Oval Office, maybe even a more conservative conservative next time. We’ll see. We’ll see.

Anyway, life goes on. Thankfully.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote Today

Just a friendly reminder to vote today. Unless you have voted already by absentee ballot, today is the big day. Get out there and do it.

I won't be writing much this morning because even though I scheduled myself to go in late to work, I'm still worried about potential lines. Actually, said job and other circumstances of life have kept me rather mum about the whole election lately as I like to know what I'm talking about rather well before I spout off about something. (Hey, you, I heard that; stop cheering!) That said, allow me to direct you to Delaware 2006 and Jokers to the Right as those sites have done a far better job keeping up with the election coverage from a conservative point of view.

Monday, November 06, 2006

For the "Stonemen"

I received an email from a friend of a friend about a trial their family is going through. I had not heard of this disease, F.O.P., before. It's so very sad, and yet there is the glimmer of hope due to some new research. For the sake of the family's privacy, I have deleted all personal information. Still, if you are one who prays, I'm sure they would be more than appreciative of your intercession on their behalf. As the letter was well-written and contains good information and some useful links, I have left this missive otherwise unaltered.

Dear longtime and newfound friends,

It's with sadness and, yet, also hope that we share some troubling news with you. Our youngest child has been diagnosed with a very rare disorder - so rare, that presently, there are only about 600 known cases worldwide, though statistically, there are an estimated 2500. The condition is called F.O.P. (Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva), or "Stoneman's Disease." With F.O.P., the body's soft connective tissue inexplicably metamorphoses into newly formed “healthy” bone, typically after a bump, cut, or some other trigger. Ultimately, the F.O.P. patient becomes immobilized, encased in a secondary skeleton, and eventually succumbs at the average age of 45. Presently, there is neither treatment, nor cure for F.O.P. But, there is hope. That hope lies with you. Support and contributions from friends, family, and acquaintances help to significantly advance the research and progress, already well underway.

After 15 years of relentless work, Dr. Fred Kaplan and a team of researchers at UPenn miraculously discovered the, one in six billion, gene combination responsible for F.O.P. It made headline news in April (We discovered the news on Yahoo one fateful night, when checking email) and that's when we realized that our child had certain indicators of F.O.P. Despite having visited specialists at Hopkins periodically since birth, her condition, like almost 90% of F.O.P. patients, was not diagnosed properly; the disease is so rare, most doctors are simply not aware of it. Thankfully, she never underwent surgery to correct her skeletal abnormalities; most F.O.P. patients are not so fortunate, and the resulting damage is irreversibly ravaging.

Though F.O.P. is rare, the potential benefits of the gene discovery are HUGE! Potentially, with this ‘Skeletal Key’, researchers will discover effective ways to curtail bone growth where it’s detrimental, and stimulate bone growth where it’s required. Inhibiting bone growth would benefit F.O.P. patients, as well as patients who commonly suffer from extraneous bone growth, due to osteoarthritis, spinal cord injuries, sports' injuries, joint replacement surgeries, and wounds sustained from explosives (The Walter Reed Army Medical Center is very interested in the research currently underway, due to the number of soldiers who've survived I.E.D. blasts and are experiencing extra bone growth in their wounds). On the other hand, stimulating bone growth would greatly benefit those healing from fractures, and those with degenerative bone conditions, such as osteoporosis. Lastly, directing bone growth may one day help victims of traumatic accidents re-grow portions of missing or irreparably damaged bones.

The discovery of the skeletal gene was monumental for the F.O.P. community, providing a stunning ray of hope for a possible treatment, and perhaps, one day, a cure. However, there exists, at best, another 5 to 10 years of intense research, development and testing, before a treatment for F.O.P. may be available. The researchers are currently exploring three avenues of potential treatment: (1) an antibody, to help the body’s immune system respond appropriately to bumps & cuts; (2) a statin drug, to inhibit protein receptors from receiving the mutant gene's demands to make more bone, and (3) RNAi technology, to 'interfere' with the mutant gene's ability to transmit its errant message in the first place. Dr. Kaplan and his team of researchers are fully committed themselves to finding a treatment, and one day, a cure for F.O.P., but none of it will be possible without increased funding and collaborating partners. I should also note that Dr. Kaplan does not charge F.O.P. patients a single dime!

Please, if you feel led to learn more about F.O.P. and want to help kids like our child, you can do the following:

  1. Read some recent articles:
  2. Donate to, or join IFOPA
  3. Pray, Pray, Pray, Pray
    • That our child's F.O.P. would progress very slowly, and that she would continue to enjoy her childhood years, and beyond.
    • That God shows us how we're to help our child, and others like her.
    • That pharmaceutical firms would partner with F.O.P researchers to develop a treatment, and ultimately, a cure.
    • That one day, F.O.P. patients can have their extra bone surgically removed, without fear of it aggressively growing back.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

"Not a 'Victim'"? Back It Up

Last month, I posted on a story involving an attempted "honor" killing in Australia after reading two or three articles in Australian newspapers online. Since then, I have been searching for updates on the tale to see if the details given were borne out by subsequent investigation and to discover the condition of the girl and her father. I could find nothing. Blogger Bos'un took up the search and wrote to several sources that might have additional information but to no avail.

Then in the wee hours of the morning, Anonymous left me this comment on my original post:

Hi Sorry to disapoint you but [name removed] was not a “victim” of an [attempted] honor killing. She killed her mother and stabbed her father after she came back from overseas. Her parents were quite angry with her after she married her heroin addict boyfriend and ran away to sydney (illegally, whilst she was still 16). After her parents forced her to move to the Gold Coast and sent her boyfrind to jail she was quite resentful to say the least. I hope you will think twice before jumping to conclusions about ones religion as there is NO ritual or honor killing in Islam. Killing is the greatest sin. to quote the Holy Qúrán Upon you is your own religion, and mine in upon me.
I hope this has cleared some things for you. PS she has not converted.

Right away there were a few things that disturbed me about the comment. First is the possibility that I posted a story in error. I'm just a little blogger, a nobody in the blogosphere who can do little damage to anyone, but truth is incredibly important to me, and I try very hard to post only things which are verifiably true, backed up by reputable sources. Before I posted the story in question, I had read it in at least two Australian publications, an American one, and a couple blogs. I've been seeking corroboration for the past few weeks (with the help of Bo'sun), prepared to give additional information on the topic, regardless of what it might be.

Next, it was bothersome that the commenter left no links whatsoever to even a disreputable source so I could check it out. Anyone can spout off lies. What we're searching for is truth. Back it up. But "Anonymous" didn't.

Third, the commenter failed to identify him/herself. Now, obviously, I don't have a problem with anonymity and welcome anonymous comments. Women, especially, have cause to write under pseudonyms. However, everything I write is traceable to this site. All one has to do to judge my words anywhere in the blogosphere is come to my site and see what I'm all about. This commenter dropped a bomb and left no way to follow up.

While I'm still searching for some kind of substantiating evidence for Anonymous's assertion regarding the true nature of the murder that nightmarish evening, part of his statement is demonstrably wrong. True, there are differences of opinion about whether Islam formally condones "honor" killings or not, with Qu'ran-ic verses flying all about. Nevertheless, his conclusion that there are therefore NO "honor" killings by followers of Islam is patently false. Sadly, even if the original reports of the attempted honor killing were incorrect, it is all too believable simply because "honor" killings do happen all too often. When the UN--- who would have its member states in an uproar if it wrote inflammatory and less than accurate statements about them-- writes a report highlighting the reality of honor killings in women's lives and deaths amongst predominately Muslim peoples, we can be sure that this is a real problem in the world.

Last, the commenter was from Australia. Given the circumstances, that was the main thing that caused me to take him even remotely seriously. Maybe, just maybe, he had heard something that I wouldn't have over here in the U.S.

Luckily for me, bloggers are incredibly helpful. I wrote to Tim Blair this morning, and he answered immediately. He's following up on his blog this morning. If anyone would know more about this case, it would be Australians. So far, none of his current-events-following friends can corroborate Anonymous's claims. But keep following the thread over there for updates.

And remember, if you're going to drop a bomb on someone's site, back it up. Bloggers will mine for truth.

Oh, and one last thing...If this young woman is actually the first degree murderer that Anonymous claims she is, thank goodness "she has not converted". I really hate it when people who claim to be Christians murder in cold blood. If all you say about her is true, Anonymous, feel free to keep her in the "religion of peace".


Things are getting more interesting. Anonymous came back--thank you---and left a link this time. (That's better.) The only real fact in the link is that the girl has been arrested but not charged. The rest of his assertions are not backed up in the article. Either they are gossipy lies or Anonymous is close to the situation and has the ability to know. I expect that we'll find out in the weeks to come.

On Tim Blair's site, two other links were left with pretty much the same lack of particulars, just that the girl has been charged. Looking over my schedule for the next few days, I won't have much time to follow up on this myself, but please continue to add any updates to my comments section. And, as always, keep any heated arguments respectful and respectable. ;) I will continue to check in as I'm able and hopefully will have some time to update myself.

Here are the links:

The Australian and another from the same paper

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Careful What You Say

...someone, somewhere, is keeping track.

Word around the Net has posted a little quiz which I am shamelessly posting below. Can you guess to whom each quote belongs?

1. "Every nation has to either be with us, or against us. Those who harbor terrorists, or who finance them, are going to pay a price.

2. "If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow by the knowledge that they can act with impunity, even in the face of a clear message from the United Nations Security Council and clear evidence of a weapons of mass destruction program."

3. "We stopped the fighting [in 1991] on an agreement that Iraq would take steps to assure the world that it would not engage in further aggression and that it would destroy its weapons of mass destruction. It has refused to take those steps. That refusal constitutes a breach of the armistice which renders it void and justifies resumption of the armed conflict."

4. "It is the duty of any president, in the final analysis, to defend this nation and dispel the security threat. Saddam Hussein has brought military action upon himself by refusing for 12 years to comply with the mandates of the United Nations. The brave and capable men and women of our armed forces and those who are with us will quickly, I know, remove him once and for all as a threat to his neighbors, to the world, and to his own people, and I support their doing so."

5. "I mean, we have three different countries that, while they all present serious problems for the United States -- they're dictatorships, they're involved in the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction -- you know, the most imminent, clear and present threat to our country is not the same from those three countries. I think Iraq is the most serious and imminent threat to our country."

6. "There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein's regime is a serious danger, that he is a tyrant, and that his pursuit of lethal weapons of mass destruction cannot be tolerated. He must be disarmed."

7. "I don't [feel I was misled]. I asked very direct questions of the top people in the CIA and people who'd served in the Clinton administration. And they said they believed that Saddam Hussein either had weapons or had the components of weapons or the ability to quickly make weapons of mass destruction. What we're worried about is an A-bomb in a Ryder truck in New York, in Washington and St. Louis. It cannot happen. We have to prevent it from happening. And it was on that basis that I voted to do this."

8. "Iraq is a long way from Ohio, but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face."

9. "Imagine the consequences if Saddam fails to comply and we fail to act. Saddam will be emboldened, believing the international community has lost its will. He will rebuild his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. And some day, some way, I am certain, he will use that arsenal again, as he has ten times since 1983."

10. "Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."

11. "As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."

12. "The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retained some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capability. Intelligence reports also indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons, but has not yet achieved nuclear capability."

13. "Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance -- not even today -- of the disarmament, which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and to live in peace."

14. "The global community -- in the form of the United Nations -- has declared repeatedly, through multiple resolutions, that the frightening prospect of a nuclear-armed Saddam cannot come to pass. But the U.N. has been unable to enforce those resolutions. We must eliminate that threat now, before it is too late.

15. We must combat an unholy axis of new threats from terrorists, international criminals, and drug traffickers. These 21st century predators feed on technology and the free flow of information... And they will be all the more lethal if weapons of mass destruction fall into their hands.Together, we must confront the new hazards of chemical and biological weapons and the outlaw states, terrorists, and organized criminals seeking to acquire them. Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade and much of his nation's wealth not on providing for the Iraqi people but on developing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them."

16. "Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option."

Here are the answers:
  1. Senator Hillary Clinton
  2. President Bill Clinton
  3. Senator Harry Reid
  4. Senator John Kerry
  5. Senator John Edwards
  6. Senator Ted Kennedy
  7. Senator Richard Gephardt
  8. Secretary of State Madeline Albright
  9. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger
  10. Vice President Al Gore
  11. Congressman Nancy Pelosi
  12. Senator Robert Byrd
  13. UN Weapons Inspector Hans Blix
  14. Senator John D. Rockerfeller
  15. President Bill Clinton
  16. President George Bush the younger

Note that these are people who should have known what they were talking about and that many quotes are even from before President George W. Bush came to office. Who's lying now?

Word around the Net continues:

Freedom Agenda has an enormous section of quotes from leading Democrats and politicians - almost all of whom today pretend they never thought Hussein had WMD, that Bush lied, that the intelligence was withheld, that they always opposed the war. All of them are clearly cited, and quoted in context.

No, I'm not all that happy with the Republicans either. I told a representative of the Republican National Committee so just today. Nonetheless, people who lie through their teeth while labeling others liars appeal to me less.

Furthermore, despite claims that Bush lied, Iraqi documents--of which there are incredible quantities--have been translated, revealing:

  • Sadaam Hussein did have ties to Al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden
  • there were terrorist training camps in Iraq
  • the existence of WMDs
  • that Iraqi scientists were very close to building their own atomic bomb.

Word around the Net has links to many sites which have been covering this issue.

Friday, November 03, 2006

No Accent Here

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Now, how did that happen? I'm a Delawarean. Shouldn't I have some kind of accent?

I'll never forget going into a Burger King--a Burger King, mind you-- and having the girl taking my order say, "Wood-er? Wood-er? How do you spell that?"

I thought that was rather rude. She knew perfectly well I wanted water.

Where do people from the Eastern Sure of Maryland get off making fun of Delawareans?

At least Philly wasn't my biggest influence. Thank goodness.

Thanks to Hube and Jeff the Baptist for this fun little quiz.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

What's Up, Quebec?

Anyone know French?

This is apparently an influencial newspaper in Quebec. Its writers seem to have it in for homeschoolers which make up about .5% of the population up there. Cleo, a visitor on The Well-Trained Mind message board had this to say:

This newspaper is a small one, but taken very seriously, and usually read by influencial people.

La loi devrait surtout interdire à toute personne, morale et physique, d'organiser ou de dispenser, durant les heures de classe et en dehors du cadre de la loi, un enseignement aux enfants d'âge scolaire.

The law should proscribe anyone, moral or physical person, from organising, and giving, during class hours, and outside of the boundaries in the law, any teaching to children of school age.

ok, my translation sucks, it's a hard sentence to translate. Basically, they're calling for the law to be changed so that no one can teach children outside of a school building, and without a teacher diploma, during school hours...

Wow.. That left me speechless...

I don't know a lick of French, so I'm taking her word for it.

I don't get it. Why are people so afraid of homeschooling? Furthermore, they are such a small population up there; why even bother? Will Quebec go the way of Germany?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Mother's Right to Know

Just over two years ago, Diana Lopez received a phone call that no parent wants to get. Her thirteen year old daughter’s school called to inform her that her child had been taken to the hospital because she was bleeding. The staff member told Ms. Lopez that she didn’t know what had happened but that her daughter’s boyfriend’s mother had picked up the girl to drive her to the hospital.

Bells and whistles should be going off in the minds’ of parents about now. The school has no idea what happened to Lopez’s daughter, just that she was bleeding. Lopez was not called right away. Her daughter was released to another woman who was not even on the emergency call list. No ambulance had been called although the girl was bleeding badly enough to need to go to the hospital. Hmmm.

As it turns out, the girl was four months pregnant and the boyfriend’s mother had taken it upon herself to schedule the girl for an abortion. She had already been escorted to a Planned Parenthood and had laminaria, a cervix dilator, inserted, and she began bleeding heavily as she was walking to school with her sister that morning from whence she was to be picked up and driven to the Planned Parenthood by the boyfriend’s mother to finish the abortion.

How badly was she bleeding? Obstetricians routinely tell their patients to call in right away if they experience bleeding “heavier than a normal period”. Women accustomed to heavier flows will say, “Yes, but I can bleed heavily. How will I know?” The frustrating response is, “You’ll know.”

And the truth of the matter is, YOU’LL KNOW! The girls were frightened for a reason. But as it turns out, she was not taken to a hospital but to the local Planned Parenthood. Also, the school staff knew before they called Lopez that the girl was scheduled to have an abortion. Nevertheless, before contacting the mother, they released the girl to another woman who had lied about where she was taking the minor.

By the time Lopez found out where her daughter had been taken and arrived at the Planned Parenthood, her child was in surgery. The clinic receptionist told Lopez that she could not release any information to her because it was a “confidential matter”. Afterwards, the Planned Parenthood staff sent the child home with painkillers, antibiotics, and birth control pills. They gave Lopez no instructions on how to care for her daughter after the surgery.

Is there any other surgical procedure performed on a minor in this nation that is too private to speak to a parent or legal guardian about? How can a thirteen year old girl have a drug medically inserted within her body without her parent’s consent or knowledge? A minor cannot even get a tattoo or a piercing without parental consent. Even a grandparent cannot take a granddaughter to have her ears pierced without her mother being there. So how does a Planned Parenthood insert laminaria into the cervix of a minor without her mother’s knowledge? How do they perform a surgery on a child—a much more invasive procedure,--- refuse to release any information to the mother, and get away with it?

Because it’s an abortion. And it’s a “woman’s right” to abort her child-- even if she’s eleven or twelve or thirteen-- without her parent’s knowledge or consent. Abortions are performed even if an older man who has committed statutory rape brings the girl in to cover his crimes.

There are a million things that can go wrong with such a surgery. A woman really can bleed to death from a miscarriage or a botched abortion. She really can die from infection. Shouldn’t a parent be made aware and be involved in the medical decisions? A doctor would consult with a parent before removing a mole from a minor! Is a girl afraid to tell her mother that she’s pregnant? Heck, yeah! Most kids are afraid to tell their parents they’re failing social studies, but that doesn’t mean the parents shouldn’t know.

Parents aren’t perfect. They aren’t always going to respond calmly to the bad news their children tell them. But most parents in this nation do love their children and are best qualified to walk through the traumas of life with their children. How awful for surgical procedures to be performed on children without their parents’ knowledge of consent! Something is definitely wrong.

Source: LifeNews: California Mom's Experience Highlights Need for Abortion Measure