Pronatalism, Bringing The Stupid Once Again

Health organizations and a smattering of opinionators were a couple weeks behind me in seeing the necessary reaction — and a potential silver lining — to the Zika outbreak in the Americas. Unless you have been living under a fairly large rock, you know this is a mosquito-borne, flu-ish sort of affliction — sometimes silent and symptom-free — which appears to be behind a rash of microcephaly in Brazil. Pregnant women get it, maybe don’t even know they’ve got it, and some months later produce an infant that will essentially be nothing much more than a deformed piece of breathing meat for the rest of its life, which will probably be short.

Brazil’s reaction to the spectre of this level of sickening waste and expense was interesting. They told women not to get pregnant for two years. Other governments in the region followed suit. It took until the last couple days for anyone to say loudly: How the hell do you just tell women not to get pregnant in an area where there is little or no birth control available, some countries punish abortion with a 50 year jail sentence, and in some countries — like El Salvador – rape is rampant?

The silver lining part is that the United Nations finally said something louder than a peep about making contraception and abortion available to women in Latin American nations. Whatever it takes, okay? Apparently, up to this point, the suffering of women who have no choice about getting pregnant, and the sheer stupidity of unchecked population growth, were not enough to get the UN to make a sustained noise. A piece in Newsweek reminds us that abortion was always bad wrong illegal bad girls get them bad bad bad in the United States until we had a blast of German measles that produced another rash of deaf children. Hey, women enduring pregnancies they didn’t choose were invisible; who cared about them? But oh dear, defective children, terrible, terrible. Suddenly abortion was on the table. Or at least on a table other than the kitchen table.  So maybe, just maybe, governments will get the picture in the countries affected by Zika. After all, if you see women as factories, you don’t want product quality going down, right?

But anyway. Whatever it takes.

The one thing that still makes me spit is the sheer weirdness of of remarks by a spokesperson for the Pan American Health Organization, as a coda to her promotion of contraceptive access:

Her organization would never tell a woman not to get pregnant—”It’s a woman’s right” to choose when to have a baby, she says.

Okay, what the fcking fck? There’s a disease spreading “explosively,” it causes the birth of defective children, and you’re going to make a mealy-mouthed statement that we can’t tell women to refrain from having any until the thing is under control? Is the idea that reproduction = Good Thing Joyous Thing Wonderful Gift From God so deeply entrenched that no one wants to say NO, DON’T?

We tell people not to drink and drive. We tell them not to smoke. We tell them not to have unprotected sex. We quarantined people with suspected Ebola. But someone who speaks for a health organization isn’t willing to say “don’t reproduce in the middle of an epidemic of birth defects?” Is no one willing to point out that a loud NO, which prevents a crushing burden of problems and misery, always, always, always trumps a namby-pamby, delusionally optimistic Yes?

I see this over and over. Organizations that exist because women need the means not to have children feel they have to beef up their cred by making speeches about defending the right to have them (in a world drowning in people). Legislators always know they can come across as great humanists by getting their britches in a twist over some long-past incident of mandated sterilization, even if it clearly involved people who demonstrably had no business reproducing. Even the great-grandmother of all champions of contraception is called Planned Parenthood.  

There’s some hope that governments will see sense, at last, in freeing women to use what science and medicine have made available. Come on, governments and doctors and NGOs: act like people who know better, and stop talking about the right to strike a match until the gas leak has been checked and all the fumes are out of the house.

Maybe by the time that happens, whole nations of women will have realized that there is something more to life than self-replication. And will refuse to go back. I can hope.

The Long Nightmare Ends

Pop generation quiz: are you old enough to remember Gerald Ford, newly sworn in as Nixon’s successor, telling the nation with visible relief, “Our long national nightmare is over?” I keep hearing that phrase in my head.

I don’t mean the blizzard, which was possibly the politest blizzard as such ever to strike the Eastern United States in my lifetime; it arrived late on a Friday, moved out on Sunday, and began to immediately become history on Monday when temperatures rose above freezing. Today it was nearly sixty degrees and the ramparts of snow blockading my curb had turned to slightly rotten layers of carbon-coated Sno-cone that could be raked to either side with a slid shovel.

But! at the same time we saw the end of the alleged three-week renovation project, which didn’t go on as long as Watergate — only since November fifth; it just felt that way.

True to form, the God Pan called me Tuesday morning to ask if I could be home for the County inspector. I had certainly mentioned that as a good day about a week before, but I do rather like warning. Never mind. Let’s get this over with. Slightly ahead of time — meaning I could hope for a full deadlift workout — a stocky, grey-haired country boy pulled up in what might have been an M-1 Abrams with a County logo (hard to know why he needs this to go from house to house peering at wiring, but perhaps it was a concession to the half-completed plowing).

He peered at wiring. Did you know that the main box has to be grounded to the water supply within a five foot distance? Christian had hooked it up to my water heater. I don’t know why that sounds to me like something that might explode, but it seems to be counterintuitively about safety.

He peered at outlets. They seemed to please him.

“I can see you like cats,” he said. “There are six,” I admitted.

“You’re probably the person I should ask about this then,” he digressed, and explained that he had just adopted a feral kitten whose mamma, a resident of his big back yard in the provinces, didn’t seem able to feed it though she was coming to the porch for food. He felt bad about taking him from mamma but he looked so sick and skinny. Would I ever declaw a cat? (No, no, no. I demonstrated the use of a claw clipper then and there, with the assistance of doofey Mystery). How do you deal with a kitten who likes to bite when he plays? (The first bite signals the end of play for now.) We were, more or less, walking around the house while he tested GFI’s, but his heart no longer seemed to be seriously in it. By the time we got to the top floor he had spotted an actual fox, a big healthy one with a thick pelt, trotting across my neighbor’s lawn and behind her shed; explained to me about the Manassas fox hunt, which is actually fox harassment that ends when the fox scurries up a tree (I still think it’s mean, but at least they don’t kill the fox); discussed his theory of how people don’t grow food for themselves any more, so they don’t plant by the almanac, and freak out when they see a late season snow as if it never happened before. We agreed on everything that was wrong with the world and, as an afterthought, he signed off on an orange ticket that said my job was kosher.

I still made it to the gym in time, somehow.

I gave the God Pan a final check. He promised he would bring me his new high-end bottling of organic VOGH when it was ready.

I can’t wait.

I have a row of paint chips up in the dining room, because I really have never seen housepainting like they did and it all makes me think of a fresh new color on the walls, but not this year. Unless I get a very, very strong prescription.



Things You Learn On Snowy Days, or, Kilrat Redux

See, this happened to me, as loyal and longtime readers of this blog might remember. And the Animal Control yokel who took my semi frantic call to the County for assistance tried to tell me it was an urban legend.

See, you officious prat? It’s a thing! Really! National Geographic says so!

The only thing I still wonder about is… what kind of mind designs and builds a Visible Toilet for rats to spelunk in? (Bonus points for anyone who can point to the connection between this quaint facet of natural history and Alan Garner’s juvenile novel The Weirdstone of Brisingamen.)

It’s a good thing the snow is over and there was plenty of shoveling to do today, or I might learn more of this kind of thing. Scary.

The Locutus

Faithful readers will remember my birthday drink, the Picard.

So there we were, the Engineer and I, after a day of alternating cabin fever and snow hoickery, having another Picard — we eke them out parsimoniously — when he surprised me by pouring himself a second (an ounce of creme bergamot, an ounce of Armagnac) and then unstoppering a bottle of Absinthe that has been in the cupboard since 2010 at least, when he broached it to accompany his traditional New Year’s Eve snack of pickled herring. About which the less said the better.

“The Green Fairy, right?” he said as he handed me the snifter. “So the Borg are all about the green lights? Float a spoonful of this on the Picard and it’s the Locutus.”

Apologies if you’re not a Star Trek geek. But find the ingredients for this anyway. Dear Goddess. Resistance is futile.


Well, That’s Settled

If there was every any doubt about who is in charge in this house, Mr. Ferguson’s arrival at the breakfast table resolves the matter.

I am sure this is hopelessly insanitary. But he is just too damn cute to throw off the table more than once every five minutes.

Just so you know we tried, he does have his own saucer of milk on the floor. He just prefers our breakfast.