Saturday, January 31, 2009

Because we can?

One of the big news stories this week was the California woman who had octuplets through in vitro fertilization. She has six other children, and all were born using in vitro techniques. From what I've read, it looks as though she is not working, and has always had somewhat of an obsession with having children.

A while back, I wrote about the sorry state of our healthcare system and how we need to rethink the way we look at things. The situation with this woman who decided to become her own little baby factory brings up all sorts of ethical and practical issues.

Bioethics is defined as "The study of the ethical and moral implications of new biological discoveries and biomedical advances, as in the fields of genetic engineering and drug research." Ethics has been a part of medicine since medicine's inception as a field (part of the Hippocratic oath is to do no harm), but as medical technology continues to advance, bioethics has moved from a mainly philosophical exercise to an interdisciplinary one that encompasses not only physicians and philosophers, but also other healthcare workers, theologians, and lawyers.

Some of the thorny issues involved range from organ transplants to organ donation; reproductive rights to infertility treatments; euthanasia to population control; gene therapy to gene privacy and discrimination; and stem cell research to the rights of an embryo. We could debate until we're blue in the face about some of these, but the topic at hand is this woman's infertility treatments and multiple births.

My own parents come from large families. There were 9 kids in my Mom's family and 7 in my Dad's, with a couple of stillbirths and early deaths in each family, as well. People had a lot of kids back then because 1) there was no birth control and 2) kids ended up helping on the farm or with taking care of the younger kids. The world has moved on, and there is birth control readily available to everyone and no need to bring that many children into the world, especially when you cannot support them. Even beyond that, the California woman did not have these children naturally, she had them with the aid of infertility treatments.

Several years ago, I remember hearing a comedian talking about a multiple birth through fertility treatments. I believe it was either sextuplets or septuplets. The woman said, "It's God's will." The comedian said, "Bullshit! God's will was that you have ZERO! You screwed it up!" A little extreme, I know, but these are exactly the kinds of situations we need to look at if we're going to address the multitude of problems in our healthcare system.

The hard truth is that these octuplets are going to cost millions from the cradle to the grave. They are very tiny, and although apparently doing well, will need to spend about a month in the hospital. Over 40 physicians and other staff assisted in the birth alone. Let me ask you a rhetorical question: who do you think is going to pay for that? Let me answer my own question: WE are. Whether through increased hospital costs or increased insurance premiums, we will absorb it. This is where bioethics come in. There are no easy answers, but shouldn't we set some sort of limit on the burden that an individual can place upon society and upon our healthcare system? How is having 14 kids reasonable in today's world? Why did the infertility specialist treat this woman instead of sending her for counseling? Is a physician obligated to treat such a patient, or can they refuse?

The argument doesn't stop with multiple births. At what point do we put a limit on procedures, whether the number of surgeries or the age of the patient? I've seen it happen in my own family. An elderly relative was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but they didn't treat him for such a slow-moving cancer...his life expectancy was exceeded by the amount of time in which he'd succumb to cancer. (And indeed, he died of something else.) I know these are not fun things to think about, but at some point, we have to ask the question, "Why should we do this procedure?" If the answer is simply, "Because we can," we need to come up with a better answer.

Now THIS is more like it!

Yesterday, I wrote to my representative, David Niezgodski, and received a reply a few moments ago:

Thank you for your comments.

I too believe that in this instance as in others that Rep. Walorski attempts to take an extremely harsh method of taking action. The situation did call for immediate attention. In this case these workers are no longer employees of Planned Parenthood. Other steps do need to take place to ensure that this type of situation can no longer take place.

Planned Parenthood however fulfills a much greater need within our communities. I believe that they accomplish a great deal of good in areas not directly dealing with abortion. I believe that she is leading an immensely uphill battle.

Once again, thank you for your comments.

David L. Niezgodski
State Representative HD7

Thank you, Rep. Niezgodski. I also see that you're working on a Saturday. It sounds like Walorski doesn't have much of a chance with this issue, and will have a fight on her hands.

It also sounds like there is no love lost between my rep and Walorski!

The really interesting thing in this email was that it included a note from someone who apparently checks emails as they come in and forwards them to the representative as needed. The email was from this aide to Rep. Niezgodski:

Unless Representative Walorski sent this to you directly, I do not seem to find anything in my records that the email of Ms. Riches was forwarded.

A-haaa! Busted! Not only did she not acknowledge her efforts in this whole thing, she LIED about forwarding my email! I can't say I'm totally surprised, but how funny to bust her on it. I'm glad I included the text of my letter to her in my email to my rep.

I know this is a minor issue for anyone who doesn't live here (I think it's a huge issue for Hoosiers), but to me, it's indicative of a broader mindset among so many politicians. That sense of "I know better than you do" and "I'll make the decisions here," no matter how their constituents feel. No, Walorski is not my rep, but my concern is for the bigger picture of what happens in our state, my concern is for the greater good and health of our citizens. She seems to have her own agenda, and I truly question her concern for the health of my fellow Hoosiers because of her pursuit of this. Her easy dismissal of my email and her lie that she forwarded it to my representative shows me that she is nothing more than the stereotypical condescending politician who wants only to further her career and cares nothing about the well-being of the residents of her state.

Hey, I wonder if she's watching "Lie to Me?" HA!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Why care?

After a rough (and early) start this morning due to head congestion and drainage, I curled up on the couch for a while and dozed. That seemed to help a little bit, although I'm still a weird combo of stuffy and runny. I finally had to take a decongestant because I just couldn't stand it anymore. I try not to, because that's one of your body's ways of clearing the virus, but I got tired of the constant slow leak.

I really didn't feel like going out, but I'm a trooper when it comes to getting stuff for our little Super Bowl party for two! All went well, we're well-stocked, and I was thrilled to find actual bolillo rolls for Myra's recipe! I figured I'd just get some hard rolls and use those, but there they were: Mexican bolillo rolls. I got a lot of stuff, but our grocery bill was probably saved by the fact that I had little appetite, so I only got one "special" cheese (smoked Gruyere) rather than 3 or 4!

Are you like me when you get a cold, and lose your appetite? Do you know why? I read a statistic once that said that when a person has a cold, they swallow about a quart of mucus a day. No wonder you're not hungry--you've got a full stomach! I can't remember who it was at work that got so grossed out by that happy little factoid, but someone just hated it whenever I brought that up (was it Alissa maybe?). So of course, I brought it up often. [evil chuckle] Believe me, it's not easy to gross out microbiologists, so I jumped at whatever chance I got! One of the classics was taking something over to someone (I recall using a keyboard that someone had spilled a specimen reeked), holding it out, and saying, "Hey...smell this." It was amazing how many people would actually smell it!

My decongestant is starting to kick in, and I'm glad. I need to get a little righteous indignation going--fired up! ready to go!--so I can write my rep, and while I'm at it, I think I'll write back to Walorski. My pal Milwaukee Dan #3 wondered in a comment why she should care what someone in a different district thinks. She should care because she is attempting to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood across the state, not just in her district. Her efforts would affect people in my district. So that makes ME care.

I haven't read anything in the paper lately about this (Maybe Milwaukee Dan #1 has heard something...? Know of anything, Dan?), so I did a search for Walorski and Planned Parenthood, and guess what? She's on Blogger! ROFLMAO! Yep, she's a fellow Spotter. She doesn't update very often, and hasn't done so since January 9. Perhaps I'll exercise my right of free speech and leave her a comment. I don't know if I even want to bother, though. It's not my policy to debate with other bloggers--their blogs, their right to an opinion--so I'll probably just write an email. But check out her blog if you get a's worth it just to realize that the female mullet is alive and well and residing in Lakeville, Indiana. Hee hee!

Oh, and she's on Facebook, too!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Odders and Enders

I just heard about the hackers that got into a traffic sign and reprogrammed it to display things like "Zombies ahead! RUN!!!" and "Nazi Zombies!"

Hahahaha! Okay, I totally do not agree with hacking and think it's wrong and dangerous (Remember what happened with WOPR in "War Games"? Bad!), but I have to say that is damn funny.


Memo to Ted Haggard: Dude? You're gay. Get over it.


Things were going pretty well today...I did my workout, took out the garbage, and tried to clear the driveway off a little bit so I can get out tomorrow (knock on wood). It's not bad, and Ken takes the truck to work so no worries there, but even a couple of inches can be a problem for the Mustangs. I really want to get to the grocery store tomorrow and get all the fixins for our Super Bowl Feast, and I hope the weather cooperates. I know Ken doesn't mind going on Saturday, but I'd rather we don't have to worry about it and can just enjoy the weekend.

Later on, though, I started feeling a little sinus congestion. I often have that in the mornings, but it clears up later on. Not today, and I think I've somehow managed to catch a cold. What the heck? How did I get exposed to a cold virus? Ohhh, I bet I know. It was at the Notre Dame game, and I bet those Marquette fans sitting behind us spewed their virus-laden saliva droplets all over me! [wink] Oh well, at least I don't have to dread catching a cold the way I used to when I smoked. It would always turn into bronchitis and linger for a month or so. I hope to be healthy by the weekend!


The Illinois Senate is voting on Blagojevich's impeachment even as I type. It's unanimous so far. Honestly, what was the guy expecting? And 40 of 59 have voted so far, and that's enough to do it. I really do think the guy has some kind of delusions of grandeur, and could very well have delusional disorder. His constant insistence that he has done nothing wrong and his recent media blitz is just bizarre and crazy. He's out as governor, they're seeking to ban him from ever holding office in Illinois again, and soon he will face a federal criminal trial, and probably be convicted and sent to jail.

Do you think "The View" will interview him from his prison cell? Me neither.


Remember when I wrote about one of our state representatives and her efforts to stop funding for Planned Parenthood offices in Indiana? I wrote a letter to her and I got a response today! Pay attention, boys and girls. This is how we duck and run:

Dear Beth R,

Thank you for contacting my office with your concerns. I am happy to be of help whenever possible.

I have forwarded your concerns to Representative Niezgodski so he is aware of your issues since you reside in his district, District 7. I am sure Representative Niezgodski will be more than happy to help you with this and any other future issues.

Once again, thank you for contacting me.


Jackie Walorski
State Representative

I'm not kidding, I was so disgusted when I got that, I just wanted to HURL. I don't give a rat's ass that she's not MY representative--she is pursuing something that affects MY state and its inhabitants, attempting to do something that I strongly disagree with: cut off funding to a needed organization. How incredibly arrogant and irresponsible to ignore her own actions and pass it along to another Representative! Why not just say something like "I have taken your comments under advisement and will proceed accordingly." Even if she doesn't change her mind, at least she could acknowledge her own behavior, and maybe, just maybe, think about the greater good of the state and its residents!!! GAHHHHH!

It's that kind of bullheaded, clueless arrogance that makes me crazy. "You're not in my district, so I'm going to ignore what you said." Even though it's an issue that affects our entire state, not just your district. And yeah, I'm tagging you on this one, Walorski, and I hope someone in your office finds it. I may not live in your district, but I know plenty of people who do.

I haven't heard much more about this issue, so I'm hoping that it died the quick death that it deserved. Just in case, I'll write to my Representative tomorrow, tell him about my letter and the response I received, and urge him to not back Walorski in her efforts. I suspect I'll find an ear that is a little more willing to listen on this issue, because not only is he my rep, he's a Democrat.


This morning I had a message from the Godfathers over on my Myspace page. (They're the band from the 80's that I've always loved and they reunited and are playing in Chicago on Valentine's Day, for their traditional St. Valentine's Day Massacre show.) The note was from Peter, the lead singer, and he said that after the show at the Metro, they're going to have an after-party. He and maybe some of the other guys in the band will be DJ'ing, and there will be pizza and beer. He invited me and anyone who is with me--how awesome is that?! Free beer! Ha ha! Seriously, what a nice thing of them to do for their fans, and how cool to sort of hang out with them. I hope it works out that we can do that, but of course, I won't be the one driving. That is still to be determined, but it will probably be either Ken or Shane.

Okay, that's the music portion of our program, now on to TV/films.

Ken and I were rather disappointed that "My Own Worst Enemy" on NBC tanked and was canceled so quickly. We really like Christian Slater, and really liked the show. But things are looking up, as we seem to have found another one that we're both really digging: "Lie to Me," which is on Fox, right after "American Idol," and stars Tim Roth.

The premise is that this doctor (a psychologist, I guess, played by Roth) assists law enforcement in solving crimes with his expertise in body language. It's kind of an interesting area to me, and I enjoy reading things about body language and "tells." (That's big in poker, because everyone has a "tell.") For me, what really sells the show is Tim Roth. I don't know that much about him, other than that he's English, and I've liked him in everything in which I've seen him. I may not like his character, because he plays a lot of slimeballs, but I think he's a great actor. Quentin Tarentino does, too, and put him in "Reservoir Dogs" (as Mr. Orange) and "Pulp Fiction" (as Pumpkin, the robber in the opening scene).

I thought this was a good description of him: "With lean hangdog looks that make him a natural for the criminals and fringe dwellers he usually plays, Tim Roth has the uncanny and incredibly effective ability to make sleaze look sexy, or at least raggedly photogenic." (Rebecca Flint, All Movie Guide) I'd say that he has that sort of intensity that I always enjoy seeing in an actor. The show gives rise to some funny moments, too, when he reads his colleagues or they try to read him. Can you imagine working with or being around an expert on body language, where you know that every little muscle twitch or minute eyebrow movement is being noticed and analyzed? It would certainly make me feel self-conscious!

So if you get a chance, I hope you'll give it a try. I think it's interesting and a lot of fun, and I hope it does well. Hey, I just saw you raise your eyebrow! Does that mean you're interested? Or disdainful of my endorsement? You think the show will fail, don't you? You think I'm silly for liking it.

Yeah...I got your number. I've got you pegged. You can't fool me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blogging: Not for the fainthearted

I'm feeling quite mellow, so I'm thinking we won't have any fireworks here today. Of course, the day isn't over yet! Don't push my buttons, Anons, and spoil my mellowtudiness!

I've been at this for about two and a half years, and I'd say I've been pretty lucky in not attracting too many loony, stalker-types. Well, not too many that make their presence known, anyway. Lurking is not the equivalent of stalking. (That one was for you, Jimi!) I've also been fortunate in not getting a lot of nasty comments, although I've had a handful. They're actually fairly entertaining at times. I know some people will delete comments and not address them, and sometimes that's necessary. I think you have to take each one under consideration and go from there. Hijacking someone else's blog in order to further your own agenda is not cool. I want to say, hey, write it on your own blog!

I'm more of the type that prefers to drag those anons out into the light of day, kicking and screaming like the toothsome, pasty-white bloodsucking fiends they are. I can't help it...I just kind of have fun doing it. Basically, my feeling is that anyone who hides behind anonymity is a puling little coward who deserves whatever they get, and they may very well get an earful if they try it with me. Chances are, if you leave a nasty comment using your screen name, and you have a profile and a blog of your own, I'll leave you alone. At least you have the balls to come out of hiding, although I probably won't take whatever bait you're dangling. But most who write nasty comments will do so anonymously, and for me, that is fair game. It's go-time, Skippy!

I'd like to tip my hat (if I were wearing one) to everyone who writes a blog and keeps at it. It's not always easy to write regularly, especially when you work. A lot of people may post only once in a while because they're so busy, and that's understandable. I think it's great when people don't give up and keep going. I've seen plenty who decide on a whim, "Everyone is doing it--I'll start a blog!" Only to get tired of it, or bored with it, or be distracted by something else ("Hey look--a quarter!"), or else they get frustrated and give up, then start the whole cycle again. Another example of the hobby-of-the-month club mentality, I suppose, being unable to follow through with something before becoming bored with it. And remember: boredom is not an option!

So to all of you who have the sticktoitiveness to keep writing, the tenacity to not give up, who love putting your thoughts to the screen if not the page, and who have a thick enough skin to put up with some of the inevitable nasty comments, here's to ya! Huzzah!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Let's address a comment, shall we?

A comment from "Ted" (who apparently ain't got a home in the profile info, no blog listed):

With the mounting job casualties, here's hoping SCOTUS either finds someone, somewhere, has standing to require BHO's birth certificate or fixes attention on a criminal indictment before he wins his War on Prosperity.

What the hell does that even mean? The Supreme Court has already refused to hear the birth certificate argument because it's obviously completely ridiculous and a waste of their time.

Criminal indictment? I'd say that President Bush is more likely to be indicted in the near future, although I suspect that President Obama will not pursue that course of action.

"War on Prosperity?" Who exactly in our country is prospering at the moment? How is President Obama waging war on prosperity?

Hey, "Ted?" Crackuh...please.


You probably all saw that President Obama took the oath of office a second time, due to Chief Justice Roberts' misspeaking on Tuesday. As soon as it happened, I knew it was inevitable that there would be some that would question whether or not he was really President. As sure as night follows day, the question was raised, so the oath was given a second time. Apparently, there was no constitutional basis for the redo, because at noon on Tuesday, George Bush ceased being President, and Barack Obama became our new President. The oath followed a few minutes later. Considering all the brouhaha over whether or not he should have been the Democratic nominee, then whether he was a Christian or a Muslim (which has no bearing on his eligibility for President), then whether or not he was even an American citizen, they decided that a "do-over" was prudent. I agree. Even if you're not happy about him being our President, I think it's time to accept it and move on!

I had a couple of emails from my Supervisor at the lab, Mary. The only person I ever worked with who maybe knew more about Microbiology than Mary was the Ph.D. who ran the Micro lab where I worked in North Dakota. I feel like I learned a lot from her in the ten years we worked together, and I think she is a remarkable woman. Anyhoo, when the primaries were going on, and the fight between Senator Clinton and Senator Obama was heating up, I was curious to get her opinion on Obama. Mary is from Chicago, and I wanted her perspective as a black woman, so one day I asked her what she thought about Obama. She told me that she had originally supported Clinton, but she was starting to find out more about Obama, and that she was really impressed by him. I don't think she had thrown her support behind him at that time, but she was pretty close. After I stopped working, we exchanged the occasional email about the election, and realized we were on the same page.

She ended up doing a lot of work for Obama's campaign, and come to find out, she got to go to the inauguration! She took her granddaughter, who is probably around 10 or so now, too. How cool is that? I asked for her impressions about it, and for her permission to put her thoughts up here. She kindly granted permission, so here is Mary's take on it.

As for the trip, all I can say is that if you remember how you felt watching it on TV, it was 10 times that being there among the millions. To be standing there full of emotion, among so many other people also full of emotion, watching even more people also full of emotion, observing history in the making, was overwhelming! It felt like being filled up almost to the point of being "airborne". It will be a week tomorrow and I still feel like I am bouncing up and down on my toes.

Yes, President Obama is just a man, but those who fail to grasp the significance of having this man, as president at this time, just do not get it. To have such a pessimistic outlook and not dare to hope, is their loss. Yes, he is the first African-American president, and that in itself is huge, but who he is, the extent and the direction he wants to move this country at this time of need (2 wars, financial disasters and economic crisis, etc., etc.,) is HUGE!

It is generally agreed that the economy will get worse before it gets better. We have a lot to be afraid of, but I would rather choose hope, to feel and believe that there will be a positive outcome under the leadership of our new president. He is someone who sees the big picture, feels compassion for those affected, listens to all with courtesy and respect, and is so smart and goal-oriented, that he can see how to navigate toward the goal. The hardest part will be to get others to understand so that they can help, and if they cannot, convince them to not stand in the way of others.

I'm so happy for her that she got to go. Just seeing pictures of it gets to me, so I can just imagine the emotions that she experienced being there. I also think that my friend Mary needs to sit Rush Limbaugh down and have a good talk with him and tell him to get out of the way. I don't think Mister I-Hope-He-Fails would stand a chance with her. I bet all my friends at the lab who know Mary are going, "Yep, you're probably right." Ha ha! You find out pretty quickly that it's useless to get into an argument with Mary. You can't win. She has an amazing talent.

Remember a while back when I said that I don't get the mentality of anyone who would actually wish for the guy to fail? He's the leader of our country...if he fails, our country suffers. Leave it to Limbaugh to come right out and say that he hopes Obama fails. He backpedaled like mad, saying that of course he wants the liberal agenda to fail, blah-di-blah-blah, but I don't doubt for a moment that he meant exactly what he said the first time. He wants Obama to fail. I was happy to hear that Obama called him and the GOP on the carpet about it and basically said they can either stick with Rush or they can get things done. About time someone shot an arrow at that gasbag's balloon.

I'm sure Limbaugh would think that the picture with the caption that I made is a little juvenile. Oh yeah? Well, I know you are, but what am I?

Maybe tomorrow I'll tell you more about how I really feel! [grin]

Monday, January 26, 2009's the law

At least in Indiana, it is.

Notre Dame lost to Marquette (I'm shaking my fist at you, Milwaukee Dan #2!), but it was a fun game to watch. They played 'em tough, and took the lead a few times, but couldn't quite pull it off in the end. Marquette is a good team, and I say good job on both teams' parts for keeping it clean and not playing dirty. I love a good defensive game, and this was a really low scoring game (indicative of either good defense from both teams, or really really crappy shooting from both...I'd say this game was more of the former) with very few fouls. I know that elbows fly and their hands are everywhere, but I didn't see any really dirty play.

Man, I love basketball.

Luke Harangody is amazing. The guy is a forward, and he's big. He's a junior, and there is some speculation of whether he'll stay for his senior year or go pro. I think he definitely has a shot in the pros, but I hope he stays and gets his degree. Oh, and he can play basketball while he's at it. [grin] He's got a killer hook shot. Even the Marquette fans sitting behind us were impressed with some of the shots Luke made.

Even though our team lost, it was really fun to go to a game. We've got a couple more coming up, too. The Joyce Center at ND is a great place to see a game (or a concert). There's not a bad seat in the house, and the student section is loud, crazy, and green.

Of course, this has got me even more antsy for spring, so I can go out and shoot some hoops. I really enjoyed doing that last fall, and I can hardly wait to work on my mad skillz. Don't let my short stature fool you...I'm the Muggsy Bogues of Nutwood! (Actually, I totally suck. I just have fun shooting.)

I hope everyone is safe and warm tonight. There's a nasty storm passing through to the south of us, with ice and freezing rain. Tis a night fit for neither man nor beast!

I had a Diet Coke at the game, so I'm all hopped up on caffeine. Think I can manage to get to sleep at a decent hour? The jury is still out.

Sports and food

Can't have one without the other, can we?

I don't have to cook tonight, because we're going to the Notre Dame/Marquette basketball game, and we'll grab a bite to eat there. Even if we were staying home, I wouldn't have to cook because I've got so many leftovers in the fridge! I made a roast chicken with vegetables yesterday (everything turned out great!), and I've probably got enough stuff in the fridge that I won't have to cook much this week.

Even though I'm not cooking, food is on my mind as I start figuring out what our Super Bowl spread will be. I have to say that I really don't care much about the game this year (sorry Lisa, or anyone else who is a fan of either team!), but we always enjoy watching the game (and the commercials, of course), the half-time show (Brooooooce!), and chowing down on all kinds of snack foods.

I think we'll splurge a little and have some cold shrimp, and I think I'll try a few different things along with the usual cheese, crackers, etc. I'm going to try Myra's stuffed bolillo rolls, and I bet they'll be really good! In the interest of health, we'll do some fresh veggies and then make them unhealthy by dipping them in blue cheese dressing. I think I might do a hot cheese dip, and I'll do my baked brie with caramel and almonds. Avocados are on sale, so I think I'll make some guacamole, too.

I think we'll even have some champagne. Come on over, it'll be a party!

Wow, I am starving! Ha ha!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

War, huh, yeah. What is it good for?

Last night, Ken and I watched "Windtalkers." It was released way back in 2002, and was one of those movies that we've had for a while but never got around to watching. It's based on the WWII Navajo code talkers and the code based on the Navajo language. The code was never broken, and it is one of the really neat stories of WWII.

It's not a great movie, but it's pretty decent. Some of it was a little cliched, but all in all, I liked it. However, a lot of it was disturbing to watch, because there were some fairly graphic war scenes. Nothing as devastating as "Saving Private Ryan" (I can't watch the opening scene without sobbing and trembling, because it gets to me so much...I've only been able to watch the movie twice.), but still bad. I feel that sometimes it's a good thing to see scenes like that, though, as a reminder of what our military faces in combat situations.

There was a lot of hand-to-hand combat in this movie, as there was in "Ryan," and I made the comment to Ken that it makes me wonder if war has almost become too easy for us. Bear with me while I explain. I was reminded of the "Star Trek" episode (And I do manage to relate many things to "Star Trek." Some truths are universal and timeless.) in which the crew of the Enterprise encounters a planet that is at war with their neighboring planet. ("A Taste of Armageddon," Season One) They speak of the extensive casualties of their war, but Kirk and the others soon find out that in order to avoid the complete devastation of war, the inhabitants are targeted by computers as "dead," and willingly report to antimatter chambers where they are zapped out of existence. Kirk destroys the chambers and explains to the rulers of the planet that in their complacency they have forgotten the horrors of war, and if faced with the reality of it, they will work towards achieving peace through diplomatic solutions.

Our military technology has increased so much that it is a simple thing to kill with a smart bomb, guided by computer systems and launched without seeing the face of the enemy. This doesn't mean that combat doesn't happen up close and personal, too, but thousands are killed without ever seeing who, exactly, is shuffling them off this mortal coil. This is not an indictment or criticism of our military; just the opposite. We have too often put our military personnel into a situation that is so far removed from us and from our sight that we don't understand what they are going through. It is us, back at home, existing happily unaware of what is going on, who are forgetting that war is hell. I also believe that those giving the orders can forget what they are sending their troops into. The men and women who are in the middle of it understand it all too well.

I recently read a column in which the author said that one of the greatest mistakes that President Bush made was sending our troops to war without asking any sacrifice of the American people. I agree with that assessment. We went on with our lives, spending our money, not paying any extra taxes to fund the war, deprived of nothing. We are like the inhabitants of the planets Eminiar and Vendikar: we have forgotten that war is not neat and tidy. It is bloody, gory, messy, and deadly. We have asked our military men and women to sacrifice, sometimes to sacrifice all, while we have been asked to sacrifice nothing.

Do I think that war is a necessary evil? Unfortunately, yes. I'm not so naive to believe that there aren't times when you have to fight back. But I would hope that in the future, it becomes the last resort. I firmly believe in a strong military, but hope and pray that in the years to come, we will be able to better utilize their abilities with peacetime assistance rather than military might.

I remember in high school, we had a debate in our World History class about our use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My position was that it was the right decision at the time, based on the cost of American lives that would have resulted in the planned invasion of Japan. My late Uncle Ted was on his way to Japan for the invasion when the bombs were dropped. He may very well have been one of the thousands that would have died. I was the head of my debate team for this exercise, and my team won. As you can probably imagine, I can be relentless.

I won't go into the pros and cons here of dropping the bomb. Suffice it to say, I was a high school kid, and I saw things in black and white. I realize now that there is much more to it than saying it was the right thing to do, the ONLY thing to do. Different time, different place, different people, and it is not for me to pass judgement. I can actually see both sides of the issue now, and could probably argue successfully for both positions. However, I wonder if I could have been the crew member on the Enola Gay who flipped that lever to release the bomb? No clean launches from silos in the Midwest...they flew over the city, saw the buildings, and dropped their payload right on top of civilians. I don't believe I could do it.

Is it easier to push a button thousands of miles away? Is it easier to shoot someone from yards away than it is to slip a knife into their heart? You tell me.