wyrd thoughts: my other blog

"The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things...."

News and views about current affairs, religious freedom issues, and the fight against euthanasia. Also the latest about my cats, goats, sheep, geese and chickens, life in Menominee county, and whatever else is on my mind.

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Location: Wallace, Michigan, United States

"I'm Nobody, who are you?"

These blogs are the work of Nissa Annakindt, writer and farmer from Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

My poetry and prose have been published in: Struggle, Above the Bridge, HEATHENzine, Idunna, Marklander, Asynjur and PanGaia.

I also was editor/publisher of the Nine Virtues News in its print incarnation, which ran weekly for a while.

Contact me at: Nissa Annakindt PO Box 95 Wallace, MI 49893 USA

"My strength is the strength of ten, because my heart is pure."

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

New Pope is Catholic: why are media guys so surprised?

Pope Benedict, the new holy father of the Catholic faithful, is true to the beliefs of the Catholic faith. He continues in the tradition of John Paul II in that respect. Given how loved John Paul II was, this should please all those Catholics who actually still are Catholics in the sense of practicing the faith.

The news media wanted a pope who would change the Catholic church. They want changes similar to the ones that liberal Protestant denominations have made--- women priests, acceptance of birth control and abortion, and a rejection of the idea of moral absolutes in favor of relativism. Of course, the liberal Protestant churches are shrinking in membership. The people who agree with the liberal Protestant ideas are the same people who don't actually bother to go to church anymore. In the same way, those 'Catholics' who most want change are those who no longer go to Mass. If the church does change they may be happy, but looking at the example of liberal protestantism it's very unlikely that they'll get involved with the Church.

I personally am not a Catholic or any other kind of a Christian, being of the Odinist faith. I don't agree with the Catholic church on many issues--- the teachings on homosexuality and the idea of legally banning all abortion, for example. But the new pope, like the old one, is absolutely right on the issue of fighting moral relativism. If an evil action can be OK, sometimes, and a good one wrong, sometimes, as the relativists teach, how can you make any moral judgment on anything? Even if someone is about to kill you, maybe this is one of those situations where killing is OK, so you have nothing to complain about.

The Catholic church has done a good job standing up against one of the great evils of our time: the euthanasia movement. By the act of re-naming 'euthanasia' as 'right to die', 'compassion in dying' and the like, they have made euthanasia essentially legal in the US, at least in certain forms. The euthanasia movement's 'living will' document has been widely accepted by many people who are not really aware this is a document requesting euthanasia in the case you become 'terminally' ill or disabled. Former President Clinton has suggested that if we can get more older people to sign living wills, this will cut health care costs.

Pope John Paul II had the courage to call this evil by its right name. There is every reason to believe that Pope Benedict will do the same. Even those outside the Catholic faith can welcome this powerful aid in the fight against the falling darkness of the pro-death culture.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Protecting Children from Sexual Predators

In the news last night there were several reports of missing girls. It's a fearful thing to know children are so vulnerable.

Children are at higher risk these days for a number of reasons. Low moral standards in our culture make it easier for the offender to believe that acting on his evil sexual impulses isn't wrong. Parents no longer seem to believe they have any authority over their children--- I've seen the mother of a toddler almost asking permission of her child before she decided not to buy a product he pointed out to her. It used to be that parents felt it part of their duty to discipline the child, teach him right behavior, and supervise his actions, including checking out his friends and forbidding the child to associate with the wrong sort of companions--- those who swore, stole and got in trouble at school for example.

One major modern risk is the almost universal idea that children ought to start using the internet from an early age. Most adults have difficulty understanding the risks and protecting themselves on the internet. How is it that we are willing to expose children of fourteen, twelve or even ten to such risks? We wouldn't allow such young children to go to a seamy strip club by themselves. Yet we seem to think that it's normal for such children to use the internet unsupervised, to have their own e-mail address, to use chat rooms and Yahoo groups and the like. This is more dangerous than sending the child to the strip club--- on the internet the typical sexual predator has an ignorant confidence that he can approach the child in complete anonymity.

The internet gives the illusion that we can pretend to be whatever we want and not get caught. We can make up our own screen names and internet identities after all. We can fudge about our age and occupation and many people will believe us at first. But we are actually giving ourselves away all the time. On the technological level it is possible for a computer expert to recover what we have been up to on the internet. That's why the moment a suspect is under investigation they take his home and work computers, and look at any public computers he may have used. On another level the internet pretender will usually be caught by his own words after a short time.

Here is an example: Imagine you went deranged and developed an obsession with the writer Stephen King. You might decide to use 'Stephen King' as your screen name, take out an e-mail account under that name, and use that name in postings in chat rooms and groups. You might put up a web site calling itself 'Steve King's site' and start a Yahoo group claiming you are Stephen King chatting with his fans. Now of course this is illegal and you could face criminal charges over it. But you will also be setting yourself up for ridicule. Every person has his own style of speaking and writing, and though you might start out trying to disguise it, you will get recognised. You may know that Stephen King himself, when he tried to publish under the name of Richard Bachman, got caught out when people noticed how Bachman wrote too much like Stephen King for it to be a coincidence. So before long, people would know you were a pretender.

The same thing happens with sexual predators. They may pretend to be a teenage boy, or a woman, in the hope of attracting underage girls. But observant people can tell before long that a writer who's made a few posts is a lot older than fifteen, or that a posting apparantly written by a woman is really made by a man. But unfortunately, less observant and suspicious people may be fooled long enough to be tricked into giving away important information.

What the sexual predator wants to do is connect a child's screen name to certain information--- an e-mail address, a real name, a home town, a school, and ultimately a home address and phone number. You can warn a child about giving this information out but a sexual predator might find it anyway--- he may do searches on your child's screen name and come up with a real name on one bulletin board, an e-mail address on the other, a hometown and a school name in still other places--- and then he will have the ability to capture the child.

Adults can also be victims of sexual predators on the internet. Some sick, weak, deranged individuals who can't have relationships with people in the real world may get a sexual thrill by sending porno e-mails to elderly strangers and imagining the reaction. Stalkers may use the internet in order to send threats to their victims without leaving fingerprints (though they do leave 'cyber-fingerprints' most are too ignorant to know it.)

If you or your child receive threatening, sexual or other harassing e-mail, don't respond to it and don't delete it. Leave it on your computer, and print out a copy with full headers. Take it to your local law enforcement immediately. This is doubly important if there is any possibility that the sexual predator knows your real-world location--- either your home, your workplace or your child's school.

Preventing the problems requires going against the tide and giving up on some modern technology. You will have to abandon all your current e-mail addresses that may be listed somewhere or another on the internet and get a new one. Guard this new internet address, only give it out to people you know in the real world. Lycos.com has free e-mail which you can set so you only receive e-mail from people on your list of known and trusted senders. Do this. It will not only foil sexual predators, it will stop spam.

When children want their own e-mail address, don't automatically give in. Ask them who they want to e-mail and why. Encourage them to write postal letters instead to communicate with cousins and distant friends. When your child is mature enough to start using e-mail, start them off sharing your e-mail address. Be sure and read all messages sent and received. After a few years of this your child will be ready for his own e-mail address, but be sure he knows that you will be watching his communications. Keeping the family computer in the TV room or other high-traffic area of your home is the best way to know what all family members are doing on line. (It will also help keep you from the temptations of viewing stuff, like porn, that you know full well is bad for you.)

Never use chatrooms, message boards or Yahoo groups. There is just no way to know who you are dealing with in these situations and you are likely to let down your guard and give out information you shouldn't. Yahoo groups are particularly hotbeds of abuse. Anti-stalking groups feel that Yahoo isn't doing enough to stop obvious stalkers from using or forming groups to attack their victims. They may ignore things as serious as death threats. In any case, even if Yahoo were to become hypervigilant, they can't possibly review every posting before it is made public and so abuse of victims cannot be stopped. If you or your child currently use chatrooms or boards as a social outlet, stop it and find an alternative. Be more active in your church, synagogue or temple, volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul or some other cause, and just say a few friendly words to everyone you meet and you will soon not even miss it.

If you are over 21, and are a freelance writer for example, and feel you must have an internet presence which includes contact information, consider your situation carefully before relaxing your safety rules. How safe is your home environment? If you own a gun and are sharing a household with a retired FBI agent and a gun safety instructor, you have a greater safety level and can take a small risk. If you live alone or with one other person and are an anti-gunner, you probably should not take any risks. If you must, after consideration, put up contact information along with your name on a web site, get a post office box. Never put up an e-mail on your site--- you will only receive spam and worse these days. Putting up a phone number can just lead to prank calls.

Children will have a hard time accepting the need for safety rules--- especially since our children no longer want to even call themselves children but 'teens' or 'young adults'. But the internet safety rules are wise at any age. They are the only way anyone, of any age, can take control over their internet use instead of having the internet control them. And children who take the mature approach and accept both the general safety rules for all ages and the special restrictions appropriate to younger users are setting an example that will help others see the wisdom of protecting themselves.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The day the baby chicks came

Yesterday my order of baby chicks from the Murray McMurray hatchery came. For those of you trapped in the cities who've never ordered chicks, this is how it goes:

When I order the chicks they announce the day my order will arrive at the post office. (Sometimes the chicks can be a day late though.) The morning they arrive--- some time about 7 in the morning--- the post office calls me to say the baby chicks are there. This year I was prepared--- I was awake and fully dressed at the time.

When I arrive the post office lady hands me the cardboard box with 26 baby chicks peeping away inside. When I bring them home I put them into a brooder area which is sheltered from drafts and which is kept warm by a heat lamp with a red bulb. Last year I found that if you use a cheaper white bulb the chicks may peck one of the weaker ones to death.

The chicks need warmth, food and water and protection from the cats. Last year when the chicks became old enough I put them out in a space in the barn. One of my barn cats kept finding ways to get in and eat chicks even when they were getting quite big. Every time I plugged a hole she found a new one. Finally I gave up on blocking the holes when she started climbing to the ceiling to get through. I got a broody goose and put her in to protect the baby poultry. Next time the cat tried to get in she got trapped in there by the aggressive goose and I had to rescue her.

I heard a few years back they tried to stop them from being able to send baby chicks by mail. This would have put all the hatcheries which specialize in rare breed chicks for small home flocks out of business, and many of the endangered poultry breeds would become extinct. But luckily people got involved and took action and so the right to buy poultry by mail was preserved.

Just shows what people can accomplish when they get up off their butts and do something.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Remembering the pope

Now that Pope John Paul II is dead, everyone, even those who fought everything the pope stands for, is speaking well of him.

What he may be most remember for is how he fought the pressure to have the Catholic church do what all the mainline protestant churches were doing: they were abandoning all the old traditions and doctrines of their faith in order to conform to whatever ideas were trendy at the moment. Us older folks may remember reading about or even attending church services where one was told how groovy God was, or invited to groove on God....

The pope stood for the idea that there are in fact moral absolutes: and in addition, rather than throwing out traditional forms of worship for something more 'groovy', he encouraged old-fashioned things like the rosary and the eucharist.

It might be noticed that the mainline protestant churches who abandoned most of their faith to follow the gospel of Sigmund Freud now are shrinking in numbers. The little they have left seems to be a rather political effort on issues such as social justice, and most people don't see the point of going to church for that.

A religion without sincere spiritual content will wither away. Pope John Paul II helped prevent that happening to his church. Those of other faiths could do worse than look to his example.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

"Bickering" in Schiavo case

I've noticed several different news announcers on different networks characterizing what went on in the Schiavo case as 'bickering' which robbed Terri Schiavo of 'death with dignity'.

What was this awful family bickering about? Whether or not to kill this disabled woman by dehydration/starvation! Exactly what compromise were her parents, brother and sister supposed to offer?

As for 'death with dignity'--- it's been implied that fighting to save her life was undignified, showing pictures and videos of her after she became disabled was undignified....

This is the fact: LIFE is undignified from the day we are born to spend a year messing in our diapers, through the constant embarrassment of school life, our first adult years, and then, when we've finally got the ropes of living, the embarrassment of cheeky young people saying we are out of touch. If 'death with dignity' is this highest moral value, how can any murder be criticised? In every case you are sparing the victim lots of undignified incidents in their future life.

Instead of 'death with dignity' the world needs to see the dignity of life, even the dignity of the weak, the disabled, the imperfect.

Deadly Compassion: truth about the euthanasia movement

This is the text of the actual suicide note of Ann Humphry, co-founder of the Hemlock Society, a euthanasia group. The note was addressed to her husband, Derek Humphry, author of the best-selling suicide manual Final Exit.

"Derek,

There. You got what you wanted. Ever since I was diagnosed as having cancer, you have done everything conceivable to precipitate my death.

I was not alone in recognizing what you were doing. What you did--- desertion and abandonment and subsequent harrassment of a dying woman-- is so unspeakable there are not words to describe the horror of it.

Yet you know. And others know too. You will have to live with this until you die.

May you never, ever forget.

Ann"

Review of the book Deadly Compassion

This book tells about the death of Ann Humphry, co-founder of the Hemlock Society, and also gives a lot of info on the modern euthanasia movement including cases where brain damaged people have been starved/dehydrated just like Terri Schiavo.

Detailed book review also has link to buy the book from Amazon.com

What the disability rights community wants

Click on link.

Eight things that need to happen to prevent non-voluntary euthanasia

One of the most urgent things is a Congressional investigation into non-voluntary euthanasia of the disabled which is going on right now. It doesn't just involve brain-damaged people. Also Downs Syndrome babies are being starved/dehydrated to death.

Shades of Nazi Germany.

Liberal defends rights of Terri Schiavo

It's not just right-wingers who defended Terri's right to live.

Read the article

"Bickering" in the Schiavo case

I've noticed several different news announcers on different networks characterizing what went on in the Schiavo case as 'bickering' which robbed Terri Schiavo of 'death with dignity'.

What was this awful family bickering about? Whether or not to kill this disabled woman by dehydration/starvation! Exactly what compromise were her parents, brother and sister supposed to offer?

As for 'death with dignity'--- it's been implied that fighting to save her life was undignified, showing pictures and videos of her after she became disabled was undignified....

This is the fact: LIFE is undignified from the day we are born to spend a year messing in our diapers, through the constant embarrassment of school life, our first adult years, and then, when we've finally got the ropes of living, the embarrassment of cheeky young people saying we are out of touch. If 'death with dignity' is this highest moral value, how can any murder be criticised? In every case you are sparing the victim lots of undignified incidents in their future life.

Instead of 'death with dignity' the world needs to see the dignity of life, even the dignity of the weak, the disabled, the imperfect.

Should doctors have the right to kill useless and expensive patients?

They actually have the right to do so in Holland. In Holland even if Terri Schiavo's husband and family had all wanted her to live, the doctors could and probably would have killed her anyway.

Here is an excellent article on the topic

Why we should pray for the pope regardless of our faith

Pope John Paul II lies near death, and millions/billions of many faiths are praying for him.

Only a miracle would enable the pope to live and to regain his health to a significant degree--- but--- miracles are only improbable, not impossible. Catholics might pray to the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) for the pope.

As a member of the Odinist faith I certainly don't regard the pope as my religious leader: but the pope has been so effective in the fight against things my faith calls evil, such as the Nazis, communists, and the abandonment of moral absolutes, that I offer him my love and gratitude.