Friday, February 29, 2008

The Tax Man Cometh ...

Trust me.


I know.


The Saga Continues...

Remember the two women with Down's Syndrome who were used as 'suicide', or perhaps more accurately, homicide, bombers earlier this month?

Well, it's now being reported that although the two women had undergone psychiatric treatment for depression or schizophrenia, there is no indication they had Down syndrome as Iraqi and U.S. officials initially had claimed.

So, what are we to make of this? Ashley's mom at Pipecleaner Dreams wonders why ... why 'they' feel it's necessary to distinguish whether the women had Down's Syndrome or were mentally ill.

I tend to half agree with her ... half because while it's really irrelevant to the context of this story it does seem to tie into another issue I had picked up on in that previous post; namely, whether it matters whether we distinguish between individuals who are mentally ill and mentally challenged. Or whether we can lump them all together. In our semantics. And, by extension, in our thinking.

But I also picked up another interesting tidbit in this latest story:
On Tuesday, the Iraqi Interior Ministry ordered police to begin rounding up beggars, homeless and mentally disabled people from the streets of Baghdad and other cities to prevent insurgents from using them as bombers.

The people detained in the Baghdad sweep will be handed over to social welfare institutions and psychiatric hospitals that can provide shelter and care for them, according to the ministry.
Rounding up the homeless and mentally disabled from the streets? Like animals, perhaps? Ah well, at least they will be handled over to "social welfare institutions" that will take good care of them, right?
It is not clear, however, that such people would be safe in psychiatric hospitals. American and Iraqi troops recently detained the acting director of the al-Rashad psychiatric hospital in eastern Baghdad on suspicion of helping supply patient information to al-Qaida in Iraq.
Ah yes, you do recall the tale of the noble hospital administrator , don't you? Fine, upstanding compassion professional that he is. His specialty is supplying vulnerable individuals to al-Qaida, apparently.

And so the saga continues.

All the makings of a movie of the week, don't you think? Explosions, the callous senseless killing of innocent men, women and children ... the dregs of society, I mean those mentally challenged, err, mentally ill, whatever the hell you call them, women .. the incompetent government ... the overbearing military [just because, you now, they are the military] ... the evil hospital administrator ... and for the final scene, the police rounding up the beggars, homeless and mentally challenged ill from the streets to protect the city.

They say war is hell. Far be it from me to disagree. But I suppose it's safe to speculate that may be even more true when you happen to be among the most vulnerable members of society.

H/T to Pipecleaner Dreams

A Long Hard Road

Last December, in a post titled "May She Rest In Peace, May He Find Mercy" I wrote this concerning the Robert Latimer case:
I sincerely hope some compassion and understanding will be shown, that justice will prevail and Mr. Latimer will be soon be released. To return to his home and community, where, if I recall correctly, he enjoys widespread support. To return to his wife, who continues to remain steadfast at his side. To grieve privately for his daughter. As he is entitled to.
And although I know some many will disagree with me, I think maybe we are a step closer to see that happening. The decision to deny Mr. Latimer day parole has now been overturned on appeal.
In a move that pleased Latimer's supporters but angered some advocates for people with disabilities, the National Parole Board Appeal Division reversed a decision in early December by a three-person panel of the parole board that denied parole to Latimer, saying he refused to acknowledge his actions were a crime.
- - - - - - -
"Ultimately, [it] decided that he really didn't lack insight into his actions and motivations in a way that was sufficient to demonstrate that he presented an undue risk to society if released into day parole," Gratl said.

Yeah, I know I appear to be in the minority on this one, at least in regards to the disability community.
Marie White, chairwoman of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, wondered if any other killer would be granted parole in the absence of remorse."Due process was followed and no one can argue with due process," White said from her home in St. John’s, N.L. "I question if this issue had come up before the appeals board and it involved someone who didn’t have a disability, whether the same decision would have been rendered."
But in a case that has divided public opinion, not just in Canada but around the world, for the past 15 years and shown that perhaps not all "advocates for the disabled" see things quite the say way, I found this comment from one of the jurors who convicted Latimer telling.
"As a member of society I feel I did my job as far as deciding whether he’s guilty or not guilty — he’s guilty," Keyko said in an interview from his home in North Battleford on Wednesday night. "I’m not happy he served how much time he served and now that he’s paroled, I am happy about the outcome."
As are Mr. Latimer's more recent actions:
Latimer has never said he was wrong or admitted any remorse. He has spent his years behind bars writing letters to the Supreme Court and federal politicians complaining about what he sees as the flawed reasoning that maintained his conviction. He has continued running the family farm remotely, with the help of workers.
"By now, most Canadian realize that Tracy’s death was not an act of malice, but an escape from a life no sane person would want to live," Latimer wrote in a recent letter to The Canadian Press. "Canadian courts insist her death was murder."
And apparently Latimer doesn't intend to quietly return to his former life and "put the matter behind him". He originally sought day parole in the Ottawa area in order to pursue advocacy work with respect to his life sentence. Say what you will, whatever your feeling are on his actions, Latimer certainly appears to be a man with a mission.

Fifteen years later, after fifteen years of involvment with the legal system and well over seven years of imprisonment, Latimer still believes that he did the right thing for his daughter given the circumstances she was in. It's funny how many seem to want to ignore forget that this father was motivated by the constant, unremitting pain his daughter was in and the fact that there was little to nothing her parents could give her to ease it.

I'm not saying that what he did was 'right". But I' won't say that it was 'wrong' either. And that's not because I have any difficulty with "judging" people. Actually, I'm actually pretty good at that. But I can't see how this man's actions, in these unique circumstances, threaten the life, dignity or value of my child's life or that of any other disabled person. The whole situation was tragic. And I all I can really hope now is that, somehow, both father and daughter find peace.

Update: What they said. Said a little better than I.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

True Words of Wisdom

Have you ever thought really thought about it ... are you a Tigger or an Eeyore at heart?


What am I talking about? Why does it matter?

Well, watch this video and find out. But wait, who wants to listen to a guy who has only a few months to live? Rather a depressing thought, isn't it?

Well, maybe not. Pull up a chair, sit yourself down with a cup of coffee (or other beverage of choice) and follow the link. You won't regret it.

H/T to Neardem

Monday, February 25, 2008

Handling The Fear Factor

There's a nice post over at Mother of Shrek about FEAR, in her case fear for the next transition in her son's future and how he will handle that transition.

I suppose we all have times in our lives when we have concerns or even fears for the future. But I think as a parent of a challenged child, there are many times when you move and live in a different universe. And this is one of them.

For most parents, there's a general developmental timeline through which they can rest fairly assured their child will move. Sure, there may well be a few (or perhaps even more than a few) bumps along the road, and certainly not all our children will turn out as we might have hoped but still, most parents, essentially know the realm in which they operate.

But as the parent of a special child, the future can often look like a black hole, a complete unknown.


  • What will happen when they are out of school?
  • Where will they live?
  • Will there be a job or day program available to them?
  • Will they some day live on their own?
  • Will we be able to secure them the amount and type of help they will need to live as independently as they are able?
There's no way around it, it's a worry. Even when you're not consciously thinking about it, it's a worry. So, what, if anything, can we do about it?

Are you familiar with the saying that "Worry is like praying for exactly what you don't want to happen to actually happen"? For some people, fear of the future, of the 'what ifs' can be terrifying. Even paralyzing. Which really, when you think of it, isn't particularly functional or helpful, is it?

So what can you do about it, when you get that familiar feeling in your gut and you just can't make those thoughts go away? In all honesty, of course I don't have the complete answer to that question. If I did, I could be totally at east about my own child's future. But I did find a real gem in the site Casdock linked to.


False
Expectations
Appearing
Real

Set a landmarc
Firstly: identify the thoughts that make you feel fearful. What is it that you are thinking, and why? What must be an underlying belief about yourself that makes you project this sort of thoughts? When you can identify your fear-creating thoughts, you straight away weaken their influence on you!

Secondly: For each fearful thought you may have, ask yourself: have there been times when this thought didn’t prove to be true? The more evidence you can find, the less influential the fear thought will be; you undermine its power over you.

Thirdly: Choose to have different thoughts about the subject that makes you fearful. Choose affirmations that go directly against the fear, and stick with them. Don’t allow your mind to dwell on the old, fearful thoughts. The more you can “think yourself away”, the less grip the old thought has on you.

Lastly: Take action!! Create new honouring and effective beliefs about the future with your coach. If fear is an illusion, you don’t have to buy into it! Design an action plan in which you deliberately do the things you are fearful of (gently!), and take good note of what happens when you get to “the other side”.

Feels pretty good, right? Nothing to be afraid of, right? That’s one more nasty illusion gone!

Understand me correctly here: fear can be very functional and a great driver for action. For instance: if I see a crocodile in the water I am swimming in, boy, will I swim!!!! Same if I would be in a burning house. I’d get out of there straight away! That is functional fear, and it is very useful.

The thing with fear is, though, that a lot of it is based on thoughts about a possible future. That’s dysfunctional fear. And that’s where it gets nasty, because we do not know what the future is going to hold. We only have (often negative) assumptions and ideas about it. And why would we want to focus on negative assumptions and ideas when we can, with just as much validity, focus on the good things in life?

I will leave you with one last thought on the subject ... there is also something very important to be said for being aware of catastrophisizing. I think many people do this without even realizing it. It's taking a given situation and expecting that the worst possible scenario will play out; to put it simply, waiting for the worst to happen, assuming that the worst will happen.

But, speaking from personal experience, I know that you can get yourself into a mindset of 'catching yourself in the act', so to speak, realizing what you are doing as you are doing it and making a conscious decision not to think that way. And, trust me, when you develop the ability to do that, to change those thought patterns, it can and will make a difference in the stress level in your life.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Family Matters

My brother, who lives out west, showed up this past Friday. We don't see him often, once every two to three years, so the girls are quite thrilled to be spending some time with their uncle.

And he came bearing gifts ... a flight simulator program to teach me to fly, along with the necessary joy stick, and another program I haven't really seen yet, but something to do flying missions in a F-16. Which is all rather cool. If I can stop myself from freezing up every time I get airborne and try to keep track of all those gauges, that is. Just think, there'll be no living with me if I ever get the hang of it!

At any rate, he will be with us until this coming Friday, so posting will likely be a little scarce while he's here. But never fear ... I'll be back.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

May I Have This Next Dance?



H/T to BZ's 2007 San Fransisco Fleet Week

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pictures of You, Pictures of Me

This is the clock upon the wall
This is the story of us all
This is the first sound of a newborn child,
Before he starts to crawl

The summer before my last year of high school, Mom, Grandma and I embarked on a road trip to Texas, to visit my uncle. Our family had taken lots of trips like this over the years (although before this my brother had always went with us) but this trip was particularly memorable in a few different ways, one of the better being that I was the driver. From Regina, Saskatchewan to Houston,Texas, I drove it all.

The drive was a blast, I really enjoyed it. Get up early, drive all day, stop for a picnic lunch, get a motel with a pool around 5:00 pm. Supper in a restaurant and swimming every evening.

But when we got to Dallas, complete with all of it's freeways, it got to be a bit much for a 17 year old who only had her driver's license for a little less than two years. But mom navigated and somehow we made it through. When we got to Houston, we couldn't follow the directions to my uncle's house so mom phoned him. Turned out we weren't that far away and he tried to give us directions on the phone.

No. I absolutely refused to drive another minute. He came and got us and mom drove, following him back to his place. The whole time we were down there, I couldn't drive. Just couldn't make myself do it. I tried once, just backing out of his driveway in a quiet residential neighbourhood. Went in the ditch. Just wasn't meant to be. Apparently I had had enough.
This is the war that's never won
This is a soldier and his gun
This is the mother waiting by the phone,
Praying for her son.
We planned on spending about a month at my uncle's. But one morning after we had been there a couple of weeks, we woke to find that Grandma wasn't feeling well. She was feeling bad enough that mom tried to reach her doctor back in Canada. While she was on the phone, she asked me to check on Grandma, who was still in bed. Something wasn't right. And at some level, I knew as soon as I looked at her face what was wrong. But all I could do was tell Mom something wasn't right. Mom came over and checked. Grandma was dead.
There is a drug that cures it all
Blocked by the governmental wall
We are the scientists inside the lab,
Just waiting for the call
This earthquake weather has got me shaking inside
I'm high up and dry.
A few days later, my uncle, mom and I drove back to Saskatchewan. That was a heck of a drive. My uncle decided he and I could should drive straight through, no need for a motel. Yeah, right. We did it but only because I spelled him many a time when he was falling asleep. Not that I was any less tired. I vividly recall waking up about 6:00 in the morning to a beautiful sunrise, everyone else in the car asleep and me driving on the wrong side of the road. Obviously, traffic was light at the time which was a good thing, I suppose.

When we made it home, it was very close to the end of August and Grandma's apartment had to be cleaned out before the end of the month. I remember helping mom and my uncle and aunt do that, everyone doing their best, forcing themselves not to spend too much stopping to reminisce over each picture and keepsake.
Pictures of you, pictures of me
Hung upon your wall for the world to see
Pictures of you, pictures of me
Remind us all of what we used to be

My mom now lives in a little one-bedroom bungalow on our property. The houses are only about five feet apart. It's funny, Mom use to constantly say that she wished I would come over to her house more to visit. We were always out together a lot and she spent a lot of time at my house, but she wanted me to come to her place. To visit. And I didn't very often. Too busy, I told myself. And if she was here, I could get other things done while we talked.

Confess to me, every secret moment
Every stolen promise you believed
Confess to me, all that lies between us
All that lies between you and me
But now I spend a lot of time at mom's house. An awful lot. Taking over her pills a couple of times a day. Checking in to make sure she is eating. And that she is otherwise okay. And I find it's virtually impossible to run over 'just for a minute' to quickly do something because I see so many other things that need doing that a minute or two often turns into half an hour or more.

And then there are the times when I take her home at night and after I ensure a few things are done and prepared for the next day, we end up having the most heart-breaking and beautiful conversations. The other night, somehow I ended up sitting on the floor with my head on the couch she was sitting on as we talked about how we could continue to make it work for her to stay in her own home. It feels like I am in a totally unsustainable situation at the moment. And yet as sad as our conversation was, as many tears as I shed, when I went home that night I suddenly realized that now I not only knew the definition of the word 'bittersweet', but I also intensely knew the emotion it evoked. And, that as sad as it was, those moments would stay with me as more memories of our time together.
We are the boxers in the ring
We are the bells that never sing
There is a title we can't win no matter
How hard we might swing

Lately when I have been at her house, I have been spending more time looking at the pictures spread around the living room. My brother and his wife, my nieces, my own family and a family picture of my mom and dad, my brother as a preschooler and me as an infant. They make me smile. And make me sad.

Yesterday I spent most of the morning at Mom's while a Department of Health representative conducted her assessment. And I found myself sitting quietly a lot of the time, gazing at the pictures and dreading the day that I will have to enter that house and know that Mom won't be sitting in the living room or laying down in the bedroom. The day that I will go into the house to pack up her belongings, to take down those pictures. Is it possible to have your heart break in advance?

Pictures of you, pictures of me
Hung upon your wall for the world to see
Pictures of you, pictures of me
Remind us all of what we used to be


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pretty Cool

Lex called this pretty impressive.
I do believe I must agree.



H/T to Neptunus Lex

He Says, He Says

It's been said before on occasion and now again this past weekend, that the Taliban are targetting the Canadian troops in Afghanistan. Makes some sense I suppose, given our rather public display as a dysfunctional family country on the issue of the future of our mission there.

In otherwise unrelated news, earlier this month, Canadian Maj.-Gen. Marc Lessard took over leadership of the 12,000 NATO soldiers that are part of the Regional Command South, which covers six Afghan provinces.

'Otherwise unrelated' except for the General's comment that the insurgents are gaining in strength.
"The truth is there has been a 50 per cent increase in incidents," Lessard said. He's calling for aggressive war-fighting to combat the rising tide of violence. "In every occasion the Taliban were blocked, they didn't achieve any real success. So, what we are doing? We blocked in 2007. In 2008, we are going on the offensive," he said.
Contrast the General's comments with those of the government. After that weekend bombing, Defence Minister Peter MacKay told the press that doesn't believe the recent bombings indicate an escalation in Taliban activity. Gee, I wonder who might have a better sense of that, Mr. MacKay or Maj.-Gen. Lessard?

Peter is an okay guy, I suppose. Although I didn't know him well in law school, he always seemed friendly enough with a genuine smile. At the time, I hadn't made the connection with him being the son of a very well-known Nova Scotian politician. And I will give him this much, he certainly has done well for himself, politically. But it tends to make me a little nervous to see the Defence Minister contradicting the General in charge of the troops on the ground. Especially given that recent little spat between the Prime Minister and General Hillier.

Gee, you don't suppose there could be an agenda at work here? Although I happen to agree with the governement's position on this particular issue, I think they would be well-advised not to treat the Canadian people as too stupid or gullible. That one might just backfire.

Monday, February 18, 2008

OUCH!

Geez, that had to hurt!



Just goes to show, I suppose. I never did think it was a good idea to live too much of your life on the tube.

H/T to Take Five

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Picture Says A Thousand Words

Being somewhat of a [ahem] regular reader at Lex's, I have come to learn a fair bit about American politics. A lot more than ever before. In fact, perhaps really more than I want to know. More than what's good for me... Nah, I shouldn't say that, I actually find most of it pretty interesting.

Anyway, through Lex (and punky d at Take Five), I have been following the story of the protestors and the US Marine Recruting Station in Berkley, California. Lex has linked before on occasion to this same site, somebody obviously local to the area, who attends and takes photographs at these protests, then puts up these amazing 'photo-essays'.

I would seriously suggest you check out this one that Lex linked to today. Scroll down through the whole thing. There are two pages and it's well worth the look. Then come back and tell me what you think, okay?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Yesterday I Met A Stranger

I borrowed [okay, okay ... stole] this from Casdock at Mother of Shrek because it reasonated with me on so many levels at the moment. From my 'real' friends to my blog friends ... to the thoughts I've been having as I watch my mother slip away.

So thank you, Casdock, I hope you don't mind a little sharing between friends.

Yesterday I met a stranger…
Today this stranger is my friend.

Had I not taken the time to say hello, or return a smile, or shake a hand, or listen; I would not have known this person.

Yesterday I hugged someone very dear to me. Today they are gone… and tomorrow will not bring them back.

Wouldn't it be nice if we all knew tomorrow would be here?
But this is not to be, so take the time today to give a hug, a smile, and an "I love you"

…Just for today,
…smile at a stranger
...listen to someone's heart
…drop a coin where a child can find it
…learn something new, and then teach it to someone
…tell someone you are thinking of them
…hug a loved one
…don't hold a grudge
…don't be afraid to say "I'm sorry"
…look at a child and tell them how great they are
…don't kill that spider in your house, he's just lost so show him the way out
…look beyond the face of a person into their heart
…make a promise and keep it
…call someone for no reason, just to say "hi"
…show kindness to an animal
…stand up for what you believe in
…smell the rain, feel the breeze, listen to the wind, dance with nature
…use all your senses to their fullest
…cherish all your todays.

Author Unknown

Friday, February 15, 2008

Condolences

On Sunday, January 27, 2008, 12 year old Karissa Paige Boudreau went for a drive with her mother. Mother and daughter weren't getting along so well (no real surprises there as any parent of a daughter that age will tell you) and apparently mom was applying some of that parenting advice that talking in the car, when you don't have to actually "face each other", sometimes works better. Eventually they stop at a local grocery store and mom goes in while Karissa waits in the car. When she returns about 15 minutes later, Karissa is gone.

Fastforward two weeks, a young girl's body has been outside of town, by the side of the river. And was eventually identified as Karissa Boudreau. The police are tight-lipped on the details but are saying it's murder.

Unfortunately, that's a story you might hear repeated numerous times a day around both Canada and the US. But there's something a little different about this one; mainly, its location - the idyllyic South Shore town of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. It's a beautiful little town, split by the LaHave River. It always seems so peaceful to me, as do most places along the South Shore. It's part of Nova Scotia at its best. And now it's the scene of a murder investigation of a young girl who died much too soon.

It's a tragic story, no matter how you look at it. And it strikes even closer to home when the victim is the same as your youngest daughter. But what, in some ways, strikes me even harder, that in some way seems to make it even more tragic, is the quick spread of rumours as to what, exactly, might have happened. Perhaps in some strange way it is easier for us to think the horrific thought that somehow the parents were involved than to think that a stranger did this. Than to think that you can't safely leave your 12 year old child alone in the car while you run into the store for a few minutes. In a town like Bridgewater, of all places.

And as my much as it hurts to think of Karissa's death, my stomach clenches even more, when I hear someone repeat those rumours. Perhaps, unthinkably, we will find out there is some truth to them. Heaven knows that we have heard such horrific stories before. But for now, quite frankly, for now, we don't know. I have yet to see one iota of credible evidence to make me even consider such a thing. And unless and until I do, in honour of this half child - half woman who never had the chance to live her life and in honour of her family, I refuse to even consider such a thing. As I asked my husband last night, if Karissa was your child and people were repeating these sorts of things, how would you feel?

Sleep peacefully, Karissa. And to your family, friends and schoolmates, my deepest sympathies. And my sympathies to all of us who live in a world where we could possibly think, even for a moment, that Karissa might have met her death at the hands of her parents.

Update: I just heard that the police have two people in custody in regard to Karissa's murder and are looking for a third. Perhaps soon we will all have at least some of the answers we crave.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Deeply Distressing

We have some evidence now of how al Qaida treats the disabled. But have we checked in our own backyards lately?

The following video, caught on a Tampa, Florida, police station surveillance camera, depicts the events that occurred after Brian Sterner, a quadriplegic, was stopped on a traffic violation on January 29, 2008 and taken to the station for booking. Apparently Deputy Charlotte Marshall Jones didn't believe he was really paralyzed, so she dumped his wheelchair forwards, reulting in Mr. Sterner falling to the floor.



The Deputy has been suspended without pay and three supervisors in the booking area at the time were suspended with pay. Mr.Sterner, as it turns out, is the director of the Florida Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center, based in Tampa. He plays wheelchair rugby with the Tampa Generals, and he's working on a PhD.

I will give you that there might be little more to this story than appears at first blush.

Sterner was arrested at his Riverview home and taken to the Orient Road Jail on a charge of fleeing and attempting to elude a police officer, according to records. He posted $2,000 bond and was released Feb 3.

A warrant for Sterner's arrest was issued after an Oct. 25 incident, in which police stopped him while driving a car fitted with hand pedals and cited him for blocking an
intersection.

"My client was stopped that night and was given a traffic citation, so how could he be fleeing and eluding?" Sterner's lawyer John Trevena said. "We're very skeptical about the basis for the charge itself."

In addition, the video appears to show that Mr. Sterner did have some abiltiy to move his arms and legs and might have been somewhat combative. Prior to being dumped on the floor, I mean. After that, I suppose he might have had the right to be. I would love to be able to hear the sound on that video, I tell ya.

But none of that justifies the actions of the officers in the video. Personally, watching the video, I found myself fantasizing about getting my hands around the Deputy's neck. Although I suppose some form of education concerning disabilities might be more useful and relevant.

After all, if she wanted him on the floor, she could have just tasered him, right? [/sarcasm off]


H/T to Pipecleaner Dreams

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Lesser of Two Evils

It's not often that I am at a loss for words. But I was in the case of the two women with Down's Syndrome who were used as 'suicide', or perhaps more accurately, homicide, bombers earlier this month.

It has now come to light that the acting director of a Baghdad psychiatric hospital has been arrested on suspicion of supplying the two woman to al-Qaida. Apparently even before his arrest, U.S. officials believed that al-Qaida was scouring Iraq’s hospitals for mentally impaired patients whom it could dupe into acting as suicide bombers. About half a dozen cases are suspected.
The attraction of mentally impaired women to al-Qaida was obvious, he said. Being women, they could get close to targets with less chance of being stopped or searched. Being mentally impaired, they were "less likely to make a rational judgment about what they are being asked to do."
Obviously a sick bastard. No doubt just one among many. I am glad they found him and, quite frankly, should he be found guilty, I would consider merely strapping a bomb to him and detonating it by remote control to be letting him off too easy.

And although in the initial reports there was conflicting comments as to whether or not the women were actually mentally challenged, that too appears to be cleared up now. And in a chilling way. By no less than their severed heads, recovered from the wreckage. One very obviously had Down's Syndrome and the other had the characteristic facial features associated with the disorder, although her symptoms were less pronounced. Perhaps now you can better understand my feelings towards 'the good doctor'.

But in the midst of the great horror that is this story, there is another, much smaller thing that niggles at me. See if you can pick it out.

"They (the security forces) arrested the acting director, accusing him of working with al-Qaida and recruiting mentally ill women and using them in suicide bombing operations," a hospital official said.
The women with Down's Syndrome were mentally challenged, not mentally ill. A small thing, nothing but nit-picking, some might say. And in the context of the evil inherent in these events, I agree. Whether the victims were mentally ill or mentally challenged, it matters not; whoever did this was simply and purely evil.

But in so many media stories, you will see this same mistake made. The terms 'mentally ill' and 'mentally challenged' are used interchangably, like they mean the same thing. I can only assume that many journalists simply don't know the difference. Which is ironic when you consider that they are the ones that are suppose to be reporting the news to us, meaning they are suppose to be out there, "uncovering the facts". Or not, I suppose.

Because there is a difference, you see. And yes, it does actually matter. Individuals whom we now refer to as "mentally challenged" are those whom we use to call "mentally retarded". This is not at all the same condition as individuals who suffer from mental illness. People who suffer from schizophrenia, psychosis, depression and autism, for example, are considered mentally ill. People with Down's Syndrome are, often along with other medical conditions, mentally challenged.

And just as many seem to lump the two groups together in their minds and use the terms interchangably, so too it seems there are those who think that the two groups require the same services and, for example, can always be housed together in the same group home and all shall be well. That kind of thinking has had tragic results in the past, when proper sepervision was not in place and individuals who were severely mentally ill have brutally killed those who were mentally challenged.

But now, even I have to query why I am focusing on this point given the context of this story. And as I turn it over in my mind, the answer I believe is two-fold: Although I did immediately notice the error in the article, just as I do every time I see the terms used interchangably, and yes, it did irk me; perhaps the reason it stayed with me as it did is it is easier for my mind to grapple with that than with the horror that is the real story.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Grow Up Already ... Says She

Cassandra has up a great post on the relevance of marriage in today's society. Or, in other words, just what the heck is Generation X and Generation Y thinking?

She's a much better writer than I and it's a good read. Check it out. You won't be disappointed.

H/T to Fuzzilicious Thinking

Calling All Hypocrites

It will be interesting to see how this whole Canada can't/won't continue its mission in Afghanistan unless NATO ponies up an additional 1,000 soldiers and certain equipment plays out.

Last week, France 'hinted' that it may be ready to help. But as the pressure ups, some are speculating that the issue could result in the enf of NATO.
Robert Gates, US defence secretary, told the Senate armed services committee on Wednesday that he was concerned about “the alliance evolving into a two-tiered alliance, in which you have some allies willing to fight and die to protect people’s security, and others who are not”. He added: “It puts a cloud over the future of the alliance if this is to endure and perhaps get even worse.”

I don't know about you but I always appreciate a touch of irony, to say nothing of a little hypocrisy to sweeten the pot. Apparently Germany has been saying for quite a while that NATO could collapse "unless Canada remains committed to rebuilding Afghanistan and doesn't abandon efforts to convince reluctant European allies to send troops to that country's most dangerous areas". Gee, I guess that means that the Germans will be right out there beside us, eh?
Germany recently increased its troop contingent to 3,500, most deployed to Afghanistan's relatively peaceful northern area. The country also added to its contribution by deploying six Tornado reconnaissance jets, which stirred a huge controversy. Germany has lost 26 soldiers since its original 2002 deployment, mostly in non-combat situations like roadside bombs. Canada has lost 73 soldiers and one diplomat.

Klose, who is his party's former parliamentary leader and appears regularly in the German media, acknowledges that a clear majority of German politicians -- and, in particular, members of his party -- are opposed to a combat role in the south.
Sorry, Klose, I'm afraid you can't have your curryworst and eat it too. Perhaps if you're really concerned about the future of NATO, you best work a little harder on your fellow parliamentarians. Because those countries that are actually fighting the war in the south of Afghanistan, we're a little busy. Insurgent attacks have risen by a quarter in the past year for the whole of the country but in the particularly violent south attacks are up 60 per cent. So feel free to drop by and offer a helping hand. But don't fret, we'll have the tea ready.


Master Corporal Frank Flibotte of Canada from the NATO-led coalition
jumps from the roof of a mud house during a combat operation
in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, Oct.



Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dreamland

Kris has this beautiful video up at her place and I can't help but borrow it. It's just so peaceful and magical ... both qualities I eagerly welcome into my life at the moment.



And although, unlike Kris, I've never had the honour and pleasure of swimming with these amazing creatures, it's definitely one of many on my list of things I would absolutely love to do. Ah well, first things first ... that would be skydiving. And whale watching. That last just because I live so close and yet never have.

Ah, that's good. Now I have a little smile as on my face as I think ahead to this summer.

Well, Well, Well

I hadn't realized it had been that long since I posted ... three whole days! I'm pretty sure that's a new record since I've started writing the blog. And not of the good kind. No, not of all. It's the kind that makes peoples get bored and look elsewhere.

So, what's a poor girl to do when she has neither the time nor the ambition at the moment to put up something more substantive?

Why, check out last year's most interesting headlines, of course:

Crack Found on Governor's Daughter
Imagine that!

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
No, really?

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
Now that's taking things a bit far!

Is There a Ring of Debris around Uranus?
Not if I wipe thoroughly!

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
What a guy!

Miners Refuse to Work after Death
No-good-for-nuttin' lazy so-and-so!

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
See if that works any better than a fair trial!

War Dims Hope for Peace
I can see where it might have that effect!

If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile
You think?

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
Who would have thunk it?!

Enfield (London) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
They may be on to something!

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
You mean there's something stronger than duct tape?

Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge
He probably IS the battery charge!

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
Weren't they fat enough?!

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
That's what he gets for eating those beans!

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
Tastes like chicken?

Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
Chainsaw Massacre all over again!

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
Boy, are they tall!

And the winner is....

Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
'Nuff said.

H/T to Tera


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Fight's On

Some of you might have noticed that I have a just a teeny tiny bit of interest in aviation. In particular, fighter jets. Yes, I confess to having been bitten by the naval aviation bug. It started innocently enought with Rhythms ... nah, there was nothing innocent about it. Lex clearly and cleanly hooked me.

Of course, I have also been rather hooked on Jetstream lately. And I do believe that I have now developed a new level of respect for Lex and his merry band of brothers. Of course, I've had a lot of respect for what he does did as a fighter pilot for quite a while but I'm thinking maybe he made it sound just a little too easy. Despite his great ability to put you in the cockpit and keep your heart in your throat most of the time, it wasn't until I watched the latest episode of Jetstream last night that I felt I really started to get just a bit of the sense of what it takes to to do what he does.

It took watching the rookies get their first few lessons of BFM (Basic Flight Maneouveres) [much of it from their point of view in the HUD (heads up display)] to really make me shake my head and go 'Huh'? Half the time the students ouldn't even find the bandit on the HUD. Needless to say, neither could I. And you know, as fun as it all sounds (and it really does), I am reminded that even as a kid I've never even really liked roller coasters. Or any of those other wild amusement park rides. Not that that keeps me from desperately wanting to take flight with Lex in his latest adventure, mind you.

But as I've said before, the series is pretty cool. There are a couple of nice sites for the show which offer some good video. On the right hand side of this page you will find short excerpts from the second last episode which are pretty well done and look fairly decent in full scream mode. This is the series' main page [note that this page takes a while to load] which also has some neat stuff, including the ability to watch that same episode online in its entirety, bonus footage and, for any interested, a game that I haven't checked out. Unfortunately, on both sites the most recent episode from last night (which showed the BFMs) isn't up yet but I imagine it will be in the next few days. That last episode, when it's up, will definitely be worth checking out.

Update: My apologies to my international readers (yeah, all 2 of them!). As was pointed out to me at The Flight Deck yesterday, neither the videos nor the full episodes on the Jetstream pages can be viewed outside Canada. Licensed only in Canada, you say? Sorry ... sucks to be you!

Monday, February 4, 2008

When You Cover Yours, Please Leave Theirs Out Of It

When Canada changed its policy to provide that that our military would no longer turn over prisoners to the the Afghans, the government neglected to tell anybody. I guess it must have been on a 'need to know' basis. And Canadians, apparently, didn't need to know.

To add insult to injury, when the truth was outed ten weeks later, the Prime Minister's Office deicded to blame the mess on military. They had failed to keep their political masters informed, said he. Although General Rick Hillier was on leave at the time and somewhere 'down south', that didn't mean that Harper was safe in his little white lie.

Apparently word quickly made it to the General, who called the Prime Minister direct-like. Although nobody knows for sure what was said, or to whom, Harper's spokeswoman issued a retraction.
Hillier had bypassed his own minister, gone straight to his accuser, grabbed a vulnerable body part with both hands and squeezed until Harper cried uncle. And that’s why the troops love this guy. The soldiers nicknamed him The Big Cod because, regardless of his faults, he’s an unrepentant fighter, fully prepared to throw his weight around in Ottawa.
Uh huh. Next time you attempt to cover your a**, sir, please do not attempt to do so at the expense of our military. You might just find that yours get bitten.

Cross-posted at The Flight Deck

Saturday, February 2, 2008

"Wisdom is Knowing When You Can't Be Wise"

Some of you may be familiar with this story from the UK, having seen or heard news coverage of it last year.

The mother of a severely disabled teenager has asked doctors to give her daughter a hysterectomy to stop her from starting menstruation. Alison Thorpe, 45, from Essex, says 15-year-old Katie, who has cerebral palsy, would be confused by periods and they would cause her indignity.

Doctors are now seeking legal approval before carrying out the surgery.

The disabled charity Scope said the operation would set a "disturbing" precedent for other disabled girls.

If approved, it will be the first time in the UK a hysterectomy is carried out without it being medically needed.

As it turns out, after Britian's National Health Service took legal advice, the procedure was not approved.

But as unusual as this story may sound, it's not unique. Ashely's mom, at Pipecleaner Dreams (a blog I would recommend, by the way, for any parent of a challenged child seeking like-minded company) tells the tale of a second Ashley, in Seattle.

READ MORE

Cross-posted at A Primer on Special Needs and the Law

Friday, February 1, 2008

Who Knew?

A military aviation personality test? Who would have thunk it?

What military aircraft are you?

EA-6B Prowler

You are an EA-6B. You are sinister, preferring not to get into confrontations, but extract revenge through mind games and technological interference. You also love to make noise and couldn't care less about pollution.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests.

I guess I will have to invent a whole new label for that one.

H/T to Lex

Unfrickinbelievable

Found this in the comments at Lex's.

Unfrickenbelievable. That's all I have to say.
Excuse me. I have to go get sick now.

About Those Marines ...

I mentioned before how pleased I was that the US is to send 3,000 Marines to Afghanistan. And the more I think about it, the more sure I am that it's a really good idea.

Because they would appear to be getting a little bored in Iraq. And when they get that way, well, quite frankly, I'm not too sure what to make of the results.

H/T to Lex

'24' - 1994 Style

How would Jack Bauer have ever survived ... in 1994?



H/T to Sui Generis