Saturday, September 09, 2006

Fiction vs. Non-fiction

Last weekend Callista and I were putting her books on two different shelves when I had the idea that we could sort them into fiction and non-fiction, just as one of those spontaneous learning exercises.

Well, I almost messed up big time, because she picked up a book about Santa Claus and said "oh, non-fiction". I started to correct her by reminding that non-fiction is "stuff that's true", but luckily I caught myself just in time. (By the way, I've never technically lied about Santa Claus. I do believe in the spirit of Santa Claus, so when I tell Callista that I think he's "invisible", I'm quite sincere.)

Then, to add to the humor of the moment, she picked up her Children's picture Bible and asked "These stories - are they real or not?" I, the good UU parent that I am, hemmed and hawed for a bit, then began a confused and ultimately ineffective explanation of library standards. Which she rather abruptly interrupted with "I believe 'em.", while thrusting the book into the "non-fiction" section. I didn't laugh out loud, but was I laughing very hard on the inside! Did I ever mention that I really like 7-year-olds?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Importance (or lack thereof) of Fertilized Eggs

There's a conversation going on in one of my posts below having to do with the so-called "rythym method"/Natural Family Planning and the death of very young embryos.

I linked to the article here: Journal Article. L. Bovens argues that it's quite possible that the rythym method causes quite a bit of fertilized egg death, rivaling other birth control methods, such as condoms or perhaps even the pill.

Putting that article aside for a moment, I will argue as follows -

1) It's widely understood that 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, most of them prior to the woman even knowing she's pregnant.
2) The earlier in the pregnancy, the more likely the miscarriage will happen, so most of the 50% number is at the zygote (cluster of eggs) stage
3) An egg fertilized in optimum conditions (i.e. sperm not too old or egg not too long after release) has a better chance of surviving than one fertilized a few hours/days "too early" or "too late"
4) An egg fertilized in less than optimum conditions is a likely cause of the high numbers of early miscarriage.
5) Natural family planning has resulted in many pregnancies (much more so than birth control pills), so we know that eggs are getting fertilized with this method.

Therefore, Natural family planning is an intentional limiting of sexual activity to times when an egg, if fertilized, would less likely survive. And, since natural family planning does end up fertilizing a lot of eggs, it is also probably killing a lot of zygotes.

The question I have for Amy is this: Which one of the 5 premises do you think is wrong and why?

Aside from this, I would argue that the intention of using condoms and other barrier methods is to prevent fertilization from ever occurring, so the intention is essentially that there would never be any risk of zygote death. In fact, the true moral high groud in this matter would go to those who are sterilized. Thus, sterilization, condoms, or diaphrams should be the preferred methods of birth control for those who are truly concerned about zygote death. When a couple is ready to have children, they should at least make a passing attempt to time their intercourse during ovulation.

In truth, I suspect that very few people are really concerned about zygote death, since no one seems to be trying very hard to prevent it in any meaningful way. One could argue that not directly trying to cause their death makes the difference, but we certainly try to prevent later miscarriages, and things like SIDS.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


I was tagged for a book survey by The Happy Feminist which is really cool except that I have a hard time answering those particular questions! I've really just read too many books in my life to catagorize them easily.

So instead, I will talk about some books I've read recently. I just finished "The Parable of the Sower" by Octavia Butler and it's really cool. I like sci-fi, but I haven't read much lately. I happen to really like the main character in this one. I plan to read more of her books and more women sci-fi authors in general.

Prior to that, I read "Guns, Germs and Steel". I really enjoyed it, because although none of its ideas were earth-shattering, it was still a new, more plausible perspective on the way history (& prehistory) has played out, compared to what I learned in school.

Prior to that, I read the first 3rd of "Atlas Shrugged" and have found it difficult to continue with it. I've got some issues with that book, and I almost wonder if Ayn Rand wasn't a bona fide sociopath (assuming that the "philosophy" she put forth in her novels is what she truly believed in). I don't mean she was "evil"; in fact, I made up the term "honorable sociopath" to describe her.

And prior to that, I read "Les Miserables", which was a good book in many ways, though the women characters were a bit one-dimensional. I always liked the musical, and I wanted to finally read the original story.

I'm probably going to stop reading for a while since I have two courses this fall and a project to focus on. Come next summer, though, and I'll be starting up again!