Little Red Ribbon-Hood: March 2008: Archives

March 26, 2008

Apologies For My Recent Absence genre: Indie-Script & Little Red Ribbon-Hood

SickInBed.jpg

After writing the prior posting on Easter Sunday, I received a call that my sister was in the emergency room and had been diagnosed with severe pneumonia, organ stress, and sepsis. Needless to say, I have spent most of my time at the hospital since receiving that call. The good news is that it appears she is finally making some progress though it was rather scary for the last three days. It's hard to imagine that someone in great health can suddenly be so sick.

I'm hoping to be back on a more normal schedule the remainder of the week...so long as she continues to improve. I've been completely out of touch with world events so I'll have to get busy reading to get myself back up to speed. Needless to say, from what I've seen this morning, little has changed.

Anyway, my apologies for my absence and my thanks to those who frequent Thought Theater. It's always a pleasure to hear from readers and to have the opportunity to engage in thoughtful dialogue. I remain amazed at the power of the internet and the ability it provides for us to connect with others around the world.

Lastly, while none of us want to endure the travails of illness and loss, such events provide perspective and remind us just how important it is to fight for those we love. All too often we get lost in the push and pull of daily life...allowing ourselves to take for granted those who mean the most.

Tagged as: apology, illness, priorities

Daniel DiRito | March 26, 2008 | 3:14 PM | link | Comments (3)
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March 12, 2008

The Sex As Sin Scam: One In Four...And Then Some More? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Uncivil Unions

SexEd.jpg

They say life imitates art...and if that is true, then the words spoken by Jack Nicholson in the film A Few Good Men may explain why the Bush administration and so many of its followers continue to insist on promoting abstinence as the preferred approach to sex education. Those who "can't handle the truth" and insist on wearing blinders might want to read the latest study on the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases in teenage girls.

If the information is accurate, 25 percent of girls aged 14 to 19 have a sexually transmitted disease. I'm no statistician, but if one in four of the girls in this age range has an STD, how many of of those who make up the other 75 percent must be engaging in sexual relations? Let's be honest, the STD infection rate isn't 100%...which means that many of the other girls have to be sexually active as well.

The first national study of four common sexually transmitted diseases among girls and young women has found that one in four are infected with at least one of the diseases, federal health officials reported Tuesday.

Nearly half the African-Americans in the study of teenagers ages 14 to 19 were infected with at least one of the diseases monitored in the study -- human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, genital herpes and trichomoniasis, a common parasite.

The 50 percent figure compared with 20 percent of white teenagers, health officials and researchers said at a news conference at a scientific meeting in Chicago.

The two most common sexually transmitted diseases, or S.T.D.'s, among all the participants tested were HPV, at 18 percent, and chlamydia, at 4 percent, according to the analysis, part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Among the infected women, 15 percent had more than one of the diseases.

The president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Cecile Richards, said the new findings "emphasize the need for real comprehensive sex education."

"The national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a $1.5 billion failure," Ms. Richards said, "and teenage girls are paying the real price."

Look, I understand that parents don't want to believe their children are sexually active nor do they want schools to encourage sex. However, admitting the difference between wishful thinking and cold hard facts may be the best way parents can protect their children...especially their daughters...from potentially fatal diseases. Reality remains reality...even in the presence of self-deception.

The death of a daughter from cervical cancer seems an exorbitant price to pay for burying one's head in the sand. Nonetheless, millions of parents continue to be willing to put their children in the position to play a deadly game of Russian roulette when it comes to sex.

Let's assume that fifty percent of girls in this age bracket have engaged in sexual activity. That suggests that parents who continue to embrace the effectiveness of abstinence only programs have a fifty percent chance of being wrong. Put in terms of risk management, at least half of the daughters of those parents who are in denial are at risk to contract an STD.

Even worse, this preoccupation with abstinence sets in motion a default mindset that accepts the habit of participating in unsafe sexual activity. Here's the equation. Once a teenager has been bombarded with admonitions to abstain...often premised on the construct of morality versus immorality (behavior is reduced to a good v. bad concept)...the decision to engage in sex is viewed as wrong.

Rarely do people about to engage in an activity they view as wrong take the time to employ prudent practices and thoughtful judgment. It's the principle of premeditation versus happenstance. I suspect many of these teenagers want the deniability that comes with an unintended act...an accident if you will. Being able to tell mom and dad that they didn't intend to break their pledge to abstain is much easier than admitting a deliberate act of defiance.

Recent reports that girls are engaging in more oral sex as a means to maintain their virginity is a clear example of the unintended consequences that come with unrealistic expectations. The emotional burdens we're heaping upon these young people is a recipe for failure and it often plants the seeds of future dishonest dalliances. If one's initial view of sex is that it must be committed as an act of deception or secrecy, one is apt to repeat that behavior.

In the end, asking children to suppress their sexual desires as a function of morality begins the process of disconnecting sex from love...its intended partner. Once sex is viewed as sin, it becomes increasingly difficult to embrace it as an act of the heart. As this sex as sin notion takes hold, I'm inclined to believe that many of these teenagers, who subsequently contract an STD, begin to internalize the diagnosis as the inevitable consequence of being "immoral" (God's punishment). Once the identity is viewed as damaged (or demonic in the extreme), the likelihood for more damage is enhanced in what I would characterize as a predictable spiral of self-loathing.

We would be far better served to instruct children on the merits of sex as an adjunct to love...giving them the tools they need to maintain both their physical and mental health. Sex is an inevitable human activity. STD's and a sinking self-esteem need not be its destructive companions.

Tagged as: Abstinence, Cervical Cancer, Condoms, Evangelical, HPV, Morality, Religion, Sex, Sex Education, Sin, STD's, Teenagers, Virginity

Daniel DiRito | March 12, 2008 | 11:06 AM | link | Comments (5)
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March 10, 2008

Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern: Gays Worse Than Terrorists genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

I'm always amazed when the religious right seeks to characterize the pursuit of gay equality as a militant homosexual agenda. I'm especially amused when the rhetoric by which they put forth this argument is laced with the words we normally associate with the very militancy they seek to attach to the gay community.

In the following video, Oklahoma Representative Sally Kern waxes on about the threat posed by homosexuals. According to Kern, homosexuality poses a greater danger than terrorism. Just listen to the angry and confrontational imagery laced throughout her speech. When Kern states that she is in jeopardy by just making her comments, what kind of jeopardy is she alluding to? This is fear mongering at its worst. Sadly, these are the words we hear so often from those who claim to be Christians.

Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern

As is so often the case with bigotry, Kern's remarks are rife with exaggerations and misinformation. Kern tells us she was a teacher for twenty years and that schools are no longer teaching facts and knowledge. It sickens me to imagine the curriculum Kern and her ilk would favor. Thank goodness she's no longer teaching. We can only hope that her political career comes to an end as well.

Honestly, when I hear the assertion that no society that embraced homosexuality has survived, I want to puke. I could just as easily assert that no society that has embraced a monetary system has survived. There isn't a scintilla of evidence that any society failed due to an acceptance of homosexuality...unless of course one chooses to cherry pick from the Biblical account of Sodom and Gomorrah.

I find it amusing that homosexuality is given the distinction of being the preeminent means by which sexual behavior can destroy a society. Somehow, the Kern's of the world seem to ignore God's supposed admonitions against adultry, premarital sex, or any other heterosexual indiscretion. I wonder what Kern thinks about the growing prevalence of pegging. Of course I'm sure she would blame it on gays.

Rather than rant on about the ramblings of another run of the mill right winger, I decided to grant her inane fears the credence they warrant.

The following is my version of the top ten goals of militant homosexuals.

Number Ten:

Organize local groups of gay men and women to form "Queer Make Over Militias" designed to convert and enlist heterosexuals who are style challenged.

Number Nine:

Align with the growing metrosexual population to form an underground alliance to chase rural right wing Republicans away from major metropolitan areas. (Think pink robes and hoods from a Dave Chappelle skit)

Number Eight:

To take advantage of the outrage at Janet Jackson's Super bowl wardrobe malfunction, gays are quietly seeking legislation to ban all beer commercials that objectify women's breasts and promote a stereotypical heterosexual male persona.

Number Seven:

Distribute campaign door hangers on election day that contain gay inspired victory party planning tips complete with recipes and decorating tips.

Number Six:

Use Bill O'Reilly's confusion about the differences between a loofah and a falafel on a stick as an opportunity to ban the use of soap on a rope from all public shower facilities.

Number Five:

Establish a non-profit to donate tea sets to all preschool aged boys.

Number Four:

Begin marketing a new doll called G.I. JoAnne...one that morphs from a dainty debutante into an androgynous action hero when her American Graffiti poodle skirt is transformed into a paramilitary parachute.

Number Three:

Promote a high school curriculum which requires that all students take a home economics course on using springform pans to bake the perfect cheesecake.

Number Two:

Establish a nationwide ex-gay ministry that is actually a clandestine gay dating service for closeted christians and discredited evangelical ministers.

Number One:

Produce and promote a blockbuster film titled Jesus Camp - The Sequel...a sassy musical portraying the tribulations of Jesus, Mary, & Joseph, a polyamorous trio played by Matthew Broderick, Harvey Fierstein, and Nathan Lane.

Tagged as: Bible, Bigotry, Evangelical, Gay Bashing, Homophobia, Humor, LGBT, Religion, Religious Extremism, Sally Kern

Daniel DiRito | March 10, 2008 | 11:32 AM | link | Comments (3)
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March 4, 2008

More On That Alleged Best Health Care In The World - Part III genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Six Degrees of Speculation

Syringe And Vial

There is an ongoing battle over health care in the United States. Those opposed to universal health care argue that the implementation of such a plan will result in a decline in the quality of care. Time and again, they cite the reported delays in accessing needed procedures in those countries that provide such care as evidence. They also make anecdotal assertions about the growing number of foreigners who seek medical care in the United States...while ignoring the same indications that more Americans are seeking medical care in other countries.

While there may be legitimate concerns about the implementation of a universal health care system, I've previously written about the fallacies contained in many of these arguments. I've also directed readers to studies that offer a less than stellar assessment of the health care we're currently receiving.

The recent report from Nevada on the mishandling of syringes and vials, which may have resulted in potentially exposing 40,000 patients to Hepatitis C, is further evidence that our system has its share of deficiencies.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- An outbreak of hepatitis C at a Nevada clinic may represent "the tip of an iceberg" of safety problems at clinics around the country, according to the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The city of Las Vegas shut down the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada last Friday after state health officials determined that six patients had contracted hepatitis C because of unsafe practices including clinic staff reusing syringes and vials. Nevada health officials are trying to contact about 40,000 patients who received anesthesia by injection at the clinic between March 2004 and Jan. 11 to urge them to get tested for hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., met Monday with CDC head Dr. Julie Gerberding, and on a media conference call after their meeting both strongly condemned practices at the clinic.

Health care accreditors "would consider this a patient safety error that falls into the category of a 'never event,' meaning this should never happen in contemporary health care organizations," said Gerberding.

"Our concern is that this could represent the tip of an iceberg and we need to be much more aggressive about alerting clinicians about how improper this practice is," she said, "but also continuing to invest in our ability to detect these needles in a haystack at the state level so we recognize when there has been a bad practice and patients can be alerted and tested."

Let me attempt to explain exactly what appears to have happened at these clinics. In performing procedures on patients with Hepatitis C, clinicians may have been reusing the syringes used in sedating these infected individuals on other patients...or they were reusing the same syringe a second time on an individual infected with the disease when drawing a sedating medication from a multi-dose vial...which was then used to draw medication to sedate other patients. The bottom line is that the disease could have contaminated either the syringe or the vial containing the sedating medication.

Look, I'm not a doctor or a scientist...but it isn't that difficult to understand that if you put something (a needle connected to a syringe containing a fluid) into a contaminated substance (blood in the tissue of an infected individual in this case), there is a risk that the infected substance can travel into any connected portion of that device (think backwash from a straw or the basic concept of osmotic transfer) or into any container that device may subsequently come into contact with.

So what does this tell us about our health care? Well, according to the representative from the CDC, these clinicians were conducting practices that are NEVER EVER acceptable. In doing so, they were violating a very basic guideline; not some complex concept beyond those capable of rudimentary rational thought. Frankly, if one can't be sedated for a colonoscopy without the risk of contracting Hepatitis C, what hope should we have that a life saving surgical procedure will follow proper protocol?

To be fair, that isn't an argument that affirms the quality of services one might expect under a universal health care system. However, it is a valid criticism of our existing system as well as a rebuttal to those who sing its praises. Truth be told, health care is only as good as the commitment of those who provide it. The argument that universal health care will make the practice of medicine less lucrative may...and I repeat may...have some merit. At the same time, are we to believe that the hippocratic oath is subject to suspension should the bottom line be diminished?

Given the incidence of malpractice and the other previously referenced negative reports on our health care system, it appears that ever increasing profits are no more a predictor of high quality health care than decreased profits would be of lesser quality care. Further, if those in the field of medicine predicate their performance upon profitability, we're all one bad bottom line away from a botched procedure.

Unless and until we restore the word "care" to our health system, it won't actually matter whether it is administered as a result of an open market construct (think 47 million uninsured) or as a function of some degree of universally mandated insurance. The provision of care ought to be a given; not an endless negotiation. It's time we choose to do the right thing. It's a matter of life and death.

Tagged as: Centers for Disease Control, Health Care, Hepatitis C, Hippocratic Oath, Insurance, Malpractice, Mandates, Medicine, Nevada, Poverty, Universal Health Care

Daniel DiRito | March 4, 2008 | 1:50 PM | link | Comments (0)
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