November 7, 2006

“If you’re not going to vote for us, then we don’t want you voting at all”

Posted in Politics at 1:26 pm by The Lizard Queen

Fun from the Land of Enchantment (yes, that really is the nickname of the state I currently call home):

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) – The Democratic Party of New Mexico is accusing Republicans of providing voters with incorrect information on polling locations in Albuquerque in an effort to cause confusion, but the GOP calls the allegations “preposterous.”The Democrats claim they have learned of several instances in which voters have received phone messages providing incorrect polling information from people who identify themselves as workers at GOP headquarters.

The Democratic Party said in a statement issued Sunday “all voters should be warned that false information is being spread in an apparent desperate attempt to win the election through confusing and potentially illegal actions.”

The party plans to seek a restraining order Monday that would prevent the GOP from contacting voters who are not registered Republicans, according to Matt Farrauto, the party’s executive director.

Maybe the allegations are false… but when this was mentioned on my local NPR channel this morning, it didn’t sound like it. Argh.

If you don’t know where you’re supposed to vote, here is a good place to start.

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Gina asks, and I obey…

Posted in Animals at 1:03 pm by The Lizard Queen

Okay, that’s obviously an exaggeration. However, she asked that we readers post this piece, written by Dr. Patty at Dolittler, everywhere we can, and I’m only too happy to oblige. Excerpts:

The scene: Two techs vigorously trying to stimulate respiration in two recently extricated newborn pups. A German Shepherd bitch anesthetized on the surgical table, all four legs akimbo. One tech busily manning the anesthesia and instruments. The vet, my colleague, fully gowned and sweating over an open abdomen. And finally, the stunned owner standing nearby, hands over her mouth, looking for all the world like someone who’d like nothing better than to be anywhere else.Great. Another one. Here’s where backyard breeders and I usually intersect—always under unpleasant circumstances, usually over a disaster C-section.

My colleague is like me. He likes to make them watch the fruits of their irresponsibility. While that might sound cruel—it usually works. …

The pups were huge and their lungs fluid-filled. They’d been overcooked. This bitch was probably due three full days ago (a very long time when gestation is only 63 days). This owner had completely missed the due date, signs of distress, etc.

By far the biggest mistake inexperienced breeders make is to assume nature will provide. This bountiful life force, she’s always in control and knows just when the little darlings will come into the world, right? Think again. After you breed a seventy-pound bitch to a hundred and ten pound male you’ve just offended Mother Earth. And she’s not so forgiving as the vets you desperately need when it all goes to hell. …

The bitch’s uterus was fluid-filled and unresponsive to oxytocin—it had clearly been over-used and less than cared for. In its current state it was a perfect candidate for pyometra (an overwhelming infection of the uterus). The owner did not, however, grant permission for the recommended spay.

After an hour of working on the pups it became clear we couldn’t maintain their hearts or respiration in the presence of all that fluid. Suction, oxygen, drugs….and then nothing. Yet this owner was undeterred. (Next time I’ll have to keep her inside when she starts to look big.) Great. You do that. We’ll look forward to your next visit.

You’re thinking: There should be a law against that! Nope. That’s not negligence in the eyes of the law. Nor is it considered animal cruelty. If you overstuff your fridge and it breaks that’s your dumb luck. While in Miami-Dade County (where I live) breeders have to obtain a license and fulfill some basic puppy care requirements, no pre-birth regulations are included in the legislation. Dogs are your property. You can f— them up any way you like as long as you don’t actively do them violence. …

Until backyard breeders stop doing their thing and until laws can be installed and enforced to make them stop, I’ll have to keep doing these disaster C-sections. There’s no point in denying any animal a life-saving surgery. But I will continue to make those responsible observe the outcome of their ignorance and arrogance. I want the “miracle of life” to be at least a fraction as painful and uncomfortable for them as it was for their pet.

This breaks my heart, and I know that it’s the kind of thing that happens all the time. Mohandas Gandhi said that the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated, and the idea that there are people in this country who force their animals to have litter after litter of babies without adequate veterinary care simply so that they can make some extra money, or to show their children “the miracle of birth,” or simply because that animal is their property, horrifies me.

In somewhat unrelated news, if you haven’t done so already, PLEASE GO VOTE!!

November 4, 2006

Depression in schools

Posted in Education, Mental health at 3:17 pm by The Lizard Queen

I came across this article on CNN.com the other day, and it concerned me. Here are the pertinent details (with emphasis added):

A former student who was barred from the campus of George Washington University and threatened with expulsion after checking into a hospital with depression has settled a lawsuit with the college, both sides announced Tuesday.The school told Jordan Nott his 2004 hospitalization violated the school’s code of conduct because it demonstrated dangerous behavior. He said he hadn’t tried to kill himself before the hospitalization, but had been thinking about it because of the suicide of another George Washington student.

He was barred from campus and threatened with suspension or expulsion unless he withdrew. He decided not to fight the charges and transferred to another school a few months later. …

The Bazelon Center [for Mental Health Law, which represented Nott] is also representing a student at a Connecticut boarding school who was placed on a mandatory leave after seeking treatment for depression.

What bothers me about this is less that it demonstrates the othering of the mentally ill that is all too prevalent in this country–though, of course, that does bother me–but that Nott and the unnamed student in Connecticut are being punished for seeking treatment for their depression. Depression is far from unusual in adolescents and young adults, and I feel that the message that’s being sent here is that students should keep their depression to themselves. Nott recognized that he had a problem and took positive action to alleviate that problem, and he was punished for it. I think of the mention of “the suicide of another George Washington student” and wonder what GWU’s administration would have done had they known ahead of time that that student was suicidal. Would they have simply threatened him with suspension or expulsion, as they did Nott? If Nott had killed himself after the events of 2004 took place, would the school have felt justified in barring him from campus? The more I think about this, the more it bothers me. While I don’t expect universities or other schools to be babysitting their students to watch for signs of mental illness, I think that if a student is willing to seek help for their illness, the university should be supportive, rather than wanting to rid themselves of that student.

You can’t be serious

Posted in Animals, Politics at 12:46 pm by The Lizard Queen

Well, I think this is the worst attack ad I’ve heard of thus far:

It’s an ad that could break your heart.A sad little girl is sitting on the curb holding an empty leash.

“Where’s my dog?” she asks.

The answer, according to a campaign mailer from the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania, is: Larry Glick probably stole it. …

Glick said he never stole a dog. He said that 29 years ago, he and his wife were hired as caretakers of a Bucks County estate. The only dog frolicking around the grounds was their black Lab, Magic.

Nevertheless, shortly after they moved away, a sheriff showed up at the door with a lawsuit alleging that Glick made off with Wrango, a pedigreed springer spaniel worth $450.

“We didn’t, but we hired an attorney,” Glick said. “We never heard anything more about it.”

Just when I think attack ads can’t surprise me anymore, I’m proven wrong…

(Tipping my tiara to Gina Spadafori)

November 1, 2006

Government money well spent

Posted in Government, Sex at 3:32 pm by The Lizard Queen

Abstinence message goes beyond teens:

The federal government’s “no sex without marriage” message isn’t just for kids anymore.Now the government is targeting unmarried adults up to age 29 as part of its abstinence-only programs, which include millions of dollars in federal money that will be available to the states under revised federal grant guidelines for 2007.

The government says the change is a clarification. But critics say it’s a clear signal of a more directed policy targeting the sexual behavior of adults.

“They’ve stepped over the line of common sense,” said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that supports sex education. “To be preaching abstinence when 90% of people are having sex is in essence to lose touch with reality. It’s an ideological campaign. It has nothing to do with public health.” …

“The message is ‘It’s better to wait until you’re married to bear or father children,’ ” Horn said. “The only 100% effective way of getting there is abstinence.”

Better how? Better why? What about people who are in committed relationships but choose not to get married? What about single women in their 20s who are financially secure, have a great support network, and simply want a child?

Sarah Brown, director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, says abstinence programs are among many messages that have helped reduce teen pregnancy rates. But “the notion that the federal government is supporting millions of dollars worth of messages to people who are grown adults about how to conduct their sex life is a very divisive policy,” she says. …For last year’s state grants, Congress appropriated $50 million. A similar amount is expected for 2007, but the money has not yet been allocated, according to the Administration for Children and Families.

I recognize, of course, that in terms of the federal budget, $50 million is not much money at all. But still, isn’t there something better that could be done with that money than telling 20-somethings not to have sex?

Tiara-tip to misty over at Shakespeare’s Sister.

A neurologist discusses Michael J. Fox and Rush Limbaugh

Posted in Media, Medicine, Politics at 2:39 pm by The Lizard Queen

I have a few clear biases here: first, I was utterly in love with Michael J. Fox in the mid-80s (come on, who wasn’t?). Second, I’ve disliked Rush Limbaugh since I first heard him in the late 80s or so. Third, my father wrote the following. Still, I found his analysis of the current Fox-versus-Limbaugh debate (which is, of course, much less a debate than a bully picking on a disabled kid) interesting, and thought some of my lovely readers might as well. Read the rest of this entry »