Tag Archives: NPR

Three-Minute Fiction

Okay. Here’s the deal. I do not write fiction. I have tried to write fiction, and I am a terrible, nigh unto dismal, fiction writer. But this blog is about building some chops, and so I’m going to throw this assignment out there.

NPR has an ongoing series called Three-Minute Fiction. A few times a year, they have a special celebrity judge who gives a theme, or a phrase, or some kind of rule. You can read about it here. Go on. I’ll wait.

So, stealing this assignment from NPA, I am putting this assignment out there. Write a three-minute piece of fiction (about 600 words or so) that features a US president: real or imagined, past or present. If you want to submit it to NPR, go to the website referenced above. The deadline is Sunday, September 23 at 11:59PM.

(I am going to attempt this, but I will place a disclaimer excusing anyone from actually reading it. I will also probably drink some whiskey first.) (See above, with regards to my fiction writing.)

For those new to Small Assignments, if you choose to accept the challenge, just post your link in the comments here, so we can all read each other’s work.



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Filed under Drinking Whiskey, Humor, Life, Politics, Small Assignments, Writing


Trigger warning: sexual abuse.

Today is a day for… I don’t even know. Justice is not quite the word, because when it comes to sexual abuse against children, there is very little justice that can actually be achieved. I have in mind the image of Lady Justice, blindfolded, holding the balanced scales. In cases of sexual abuse against young people, there is simply no balance possible. So, this is a day for a moderate kind of recognition of the real-life consequences of the actions of those who perpetrate abuse as well as those who work to shield the perpetrators from the consequences of their actions.

Yesterday, the NCAA announced sanctions against Penn State University for the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. A $60 million fine. Vacating a decade’s worth of victories for the Penn State football team and their coach Joe Paterno. A ban on post-season play for four years. And though it was not part of the sanctions, Penn State removed the statue of Joe Paterno that stood outside of Beaver Stadium.

There is a saying in 12-step circles that it is right to allow an addict to have the benefit of his or her own consequences. In the case of addicts, this means that the family members and friends are doing the addict a disservice by shielding him or her from the consequences of her or his destructive behavior. And the truth is, the consequences remain, even when the addict is shielded from them. Instead of the addict suffering the consequences, often times, the consequences fall to the children or other family members. This is neither just nor healthy, and the fallout almost always does more damage than if the addict had been allowed to experience the consequences herself.

What we are seeing at Penn State is the fallout after entirely too much time, energy, and money was spent shielding Jerry Sandusky from the consequences of his destructive behavior. NPR ran a piece this morning in which some students were upset that they are being penalized for Sandusky’s actions. And, of course, they have the right to be angry. They are experiencing the fallout of an extended delay of consequences. But let us be clear. The NCAA is not the bad guy here. There is plenty of blame and anger to be spread around, but it ought not be directed at those who are finally enforcing consequences for a decade of cover-up. The fallout always happens, and the fallout is not necessarily just.

It is for this reason that I have to wonder when the fallout will come down in the Catholic Church, and who will suffer the consequences.

Today Monsignor William Lynn sentenced. Last week, Monsignor Lynn was found guilty of child endangerment for participating in a cover-up of sexual abuse. Let’s make this clear. Monsignor Lynn allowed priests he knew to be predators to continue to minister to children.

His sentence is 3-6 years. Now, apparently, the defense lawyers are appealing the court’s decision, and the appeal has a significant chance of being successful. The reasoning behind the appeal is that Monsignor Lynn never directly supervised children.

Monsignor Lynn is really a middle-man in this scandal. He did not abuse anyone directly. Apparently he even had moments when he wanted to document and report the abuse. “But when Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua instead had the list destroyed, Lynn chose to remain in the job and obey his bishop – by keeping quiet.”

I fear that we have not yet begun to see the real fallout from the abuse dolled out by predatory priests and the cover-up that extends all the way up the ladder to the Vatican. At Penn State, after a decade of sexual abuse perpetrated by one man, the university cleaned house, and the fallout is to the tune of $60 million, and other sanctions, most of which will be felt rather acutely by the students who had nothing to do with the abuse. In the Catholic Church, we are looking at decades of abuse by who-knows-how-many priests, and what we see most often is a single diocese making token settlements to a group of abuse victims.

All actions have consequences, and when the offender is shielded from the consequences of his or her actions, there is always someone else who ends up bearing the brunt of it. I don’t yet know how to predict who will bear the brunt of the fallout from the Catholic Church’s efforts to keep the misconduct of its priests quiet and secret.

“Let the children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”

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Filed under Life, News, Parenting, Politics, Uncategorized

Home Births, according to NPR

I might as well start this blog off with a confession of sorts.  I gave birth to both of my children at home, and I liked it.

Now, having experienced pregnancy and birth and the incredibly personal, individualized experiences that they are, I cannot sit here and call myself a “home birth advocate.”  I am certainly in favor of women and their partners making the best, safest, most informed decision possible when it comes to pregnancy and birth, but that may be home birth, hospital delivery, or some other option.

Of course, I do tend to get a little… annoyed… when I hear stories like the one I heard on NPR’s All Things Considered last night.  The story was a report on the CDC’s findings that the trend of home births are increasing.  Or rather, that they have increased.  From 2004-2009, home births in the United States increased 29%.

The problem with the NPR story, as with many reporters who write and speak about home birth, is that the Home Birthers (if I may use a phrase that I find weird) end up looking like a bunch of women who are out to beat the system.  They are trying desperately to avoid a C-Section or a repeat experience of a hospital birth they had previously.  They interviewed a woman who is not a midwife  and they interviewed two OB/GYNs.  They did not interview a home birth midwife, and they failed entirely to include a list of all the various precautions that a well-trained midwife takes in the context of a home birth.

For example, when I went into labor with my daughter (who is now 2 years old), my midwife came and set up oxygen tanks, saline IVs, antibiotics, pitocin (in case of hemorrhaging), sutures, and many other pieces of medical equipment that I never even saw.  My temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure were closely monitored, and the baby’s heart rate was checked every 10 to 15 minutes both during rest and during contractions. After I gave birth, I got several sutures while my husband walked around with our newborn baby and the midwife assistant did laundry. Before they left for the night, the midwives trained my husband to take care of me and the baby; he spent the next twenty four hours checking temperatures, heart rates, respiration rates, bleeding, and even urine output.  Our midwife then made house calls for a week to monitor me and the baby.

Midwives are field medics. They are trained for normal birth and for emergency management. But when home births are reported in the news, so often, they make it sound as if the choice to give birth at home is risky, dangerous, and anti-medical.  In fact, it is simply choosing a different medical professional to assist.

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Filed under Home Birth, Life