Friday, November 29, 2013

Getting Frank about Fistula

I played Half the Sky for the first time today on Facebook. 

I met a cheerful Indian cartoon woman whose daughter has pneumonia.  After going through several steps of decision-making with her, I ended up getting her daughter to the doctor for medical care--in virtual reality, not real life.

But the path included making a $10 donation to a charity for women, so perhaps somewhere in the world some woman was helped.

The various options include watching short explanations of nonprofit organizations.

I chose Fistula Foundation and learned the following:

Fistula Foundation works to end the suffering caused by obstetric fistula, a devastating childbirth injury that occurs when a woman’s labor becomes obstructed and she does not have access to medical help. Without emergency intervention, such as a C-section, a woman often loses her baby and is left with obstetric fistula, which renders her incontinent and uncontrollably leaking wastes – an injury that can only be repaired through surgery.
With access to a $450 fistula repair surgery that Fistula Foundation works to provide, a woman’s life is transformed; she no longer has to suffer the shame and embarrassment caused by her incontinence and can resume living a healthy and productive life.
- See more at:

I also invited all my FB friends to do this game.  Try it out yourself!

Games for Change

I heard a new term today: the gaming generation.

For these kids, there's been a new Facebook game invented: "Half the Sky."  

It's part of an effort to help women in developing countries by educating people in places like the US through online games.

My sister-in-law Kelly Arthur and her son Braeden got to say a few words this morning on National Public Radio about how they like the game.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women World-Wide is a book by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof that has turned into a movement.  I first encountered it as an exhibit at the Skirball Center on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles.

Laura Sydell reported on the games-for-change phenomemon for All Tech Considered.

I never tried to do Farmville on FB, but I'm going to try to do Half the Sky, joining the 1.1 million people already playing it.  

As Braeden explained, playing the game can trigger donations ($450,000 so far).  

Things have changed so much since I sat in second grade studying My Weekly Reader and learning about national and world news.  Now kids can jump right in to work for change. 

Here's a link to get started:

Learning To Kill

Itzcoatl Ocampo joined the Marine Corps at age 18 "with the hope of learning to kill.",0,3412408.story?dssReturn#axzz2m4thekxa

The Marine Corps disappointed him: "during a six-month tour in Iraq he drove a water truck and never saw combat," according to LA Times writers Adolfo Flores and Hailey Branson-Potts.

After leaving the Marines, Ocampo became a free-lance killer two years ago in Orange County, according to charges for which he was arrested. 

He was charged with killing the older brother of a friend, the friend's mother, and four homeless men.  His goal was to kill sixteen people, according to prosecutors.

Instead, he ended up in jail  and was found shaking and vomiting on Wednesday afternoon.

He died in a hospital on Thanksgiving Day, yesterday, only 25 years old.  Eating the household cleanser Ajax may have been his cause of death, according to reports today.,0,278031.story#axzz2m6DIMxy4

Earlier he had complained of headaches and hearing voices and also had tics.

His sad face appears in today's Los Angeles Times.

What factors led to his desire to kill and to this sad end?  Was he abused in his childhood?

Did he ever play those shoot-and-kill video games?  

How strange that our nation provides free training in how to shoot and use weapons.  

Then while being held in prison, he is given enough Ajax that he can save it up and kill himself.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A bed could not be found in any psych ward for Gus Deeds, son of Virginia state senator Creigh Deeds.

Three days later Gus stabbed his father and took his own life with a gun.

Do we need any more reminders that we as a nation have not devoted enough funding and attention to mental health care?  That guns are too easily accessible to the mentally ill?

We're not far from Dec. 14, the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre. 

December 5 will mark eight months since Pastor Rick Warren's son took his own life.

Today's Boston Globe

My brother-in-law is in Boston today, where The Boston Globe is selling commemorative reprints of the front page of November 22, 1963.

50 Years of the Unexpected

I never imagined that President John Kennedy would be shot and killed.

My father had worked for the Kennedy campaign in 1960 in Boulder County, Colorado--mainly because he was unemployed at the time, and it gave him something to do.

Yet there I was, a sophomore at East Bakersfield High School on November 22, 1963, standing outside near the journalism classroom, when the announcement came over the loudspeaker.

I never imagined that I would marry someone whose mother had grown up next door to Jacqueline Bouvier in East Hampton on Long Island.  Jackie was seven years younger than Rosamond; horse-riding and participating in horseback competitions were central to their lives. 

A picture of Jackie Kennedy, First Lady of the United States. 

Rizz never imagined that she would outlive Jackie, but Jackie died not yet 65 years old and Rizz is now 91.

I never imagined that my life would stretch out much longer than either Jack or Jackie's.  He had only 46 years on this wild, rotating planet, and I've now had nearly 66 years.

Jackie died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1994.  Both she and Rizz had smoked cigarettes in the 1950s, but Rizz had managed to quit.

One more day I never imagined: 

Rizz and I had visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in the early 1990s.

We entered the elevator to leave and found only one person already there, Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

Rizz and Jackie recognized each other and exchanged greetings.  Their style of dress was similar--light coats in dark colors, pumps and purses, the uniform of Upper Eastside ladies.

I listened in awe, trying to be invisible.

And then a few years later, Jackie died.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Take that, you freebooters!

Take that, you freebooters!

Thanks to Megan Buerger of The Wall Street Journal for reporting on the ignominious history of the word filibuster.

Here's more proof that the Senate was right to bust the filibuster today.

Word for Pirates Morphed Into ‘Filibuster’

The word 'filibuster' originally referred to 18th century pirates, or 'freebooters' who pillaged colonies in the Spanish West Indies, before it took on its legislative meaning.

The word “filibuster” originally referred to 18th century pirates, or “freebooters,” who pillaged colonies in the Spanish West Indies.
The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word’s roots to the Dutch term “vrijbuiter” and the Spanish term “filibustero,” both of which relate to looting. The treasure was, of course, booty.
It was more than a hundred years before filibuster took on political connotations. The term doesn’t appear anywhere in the U.S. Constitution and didn’t surface on the Senate floor until the late 19th century, when it was used to condemn legislators who talked so extensively that they obstructed progress.
Senate rules allow for unlimited debate, but filibusters gradually became notorious as a result of one strange feature: The legislator doesn’t have to actually speak about the matter at hand.
Before 1900, filibusters were a rare occurrence. At the beginning of the 20th century, filibusters increased and attempts to block them weren’t often effective.
But according to the publication Foreign Affairs, 65% of all Senate filibusters in history have been waged in recent times, since 1975.
The modern definition can be foggy—technically, it can depend on the exact intent of the stalling senator, often a tricky thing to determine. But generally, filibusters are understood to be a roadblocking move by the minority to derail a bill or a nomination.
Write to Megan Buerger at

Will the real bullies please stand up?

Hooray for Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats who threw off the shackles of the Republican filibuster today.

True, it's only President Obama's judicial nominations that have been freed.

Republicans in the House and Senate can still block immigration reform, gun control, preschool education, helpful tweaks to the Affordable Care Act, and anything else they take a fancy to oppose.

But in one small area of the Senate, work can go ahead.  Nominees for judge in the D.C. Court of Appeals can receive a vote, up or down.  Yay.

I heard Sen. Rand Paul on CNN this morning complaining that Harry Reid was acting like a bully by changing the rules so that a mere 51 votes can pass these nominations.

Excuse me, did you say BULLY?

Trying to defund Obamacare after it was passed by both houses is not bullying?

Refusing to act on immigration, a year after the Senate passed legislation, is not bullying?

Insisting on the right to carry automatic weapons and long magazines of bullets, even after children were killed at Sandy Hook, is not bullying?

It's high time the real bullies were identified and stopped.

In Harry Reid's sober comments this morning, it was clear that President Obama and his team have had enough.  They are finally standing up and saying "No more!"

Reid's contrast between use of the filibuster in the past and use during Obama's presidency was shocking.

I am so grateful for the rule change.  I've been listening to Republican House leaders block this year's last efforts to try to get some kind of immigration reform passed, and yesterday for the first time in years I felt deep partisan anger spread through my body.

Clearly the President and Democrats in Congress have concluded that any legislation they try to pass will continue to be blocked.  Efforts to compromise and win non-partisan support for any action are over.

To get anything done at all, the Dems will have to go it alone.

Stop whining, John McCain and Rand Paul.  This is the kind of game you insist on playing.  You are the real bullies.

Toni, Maya, Jhumpa, James, and E.L.

It's "the Oscars of the book world."

Last night in New York City the 2013 winners of the National Book Awards were announced at a gala banquet.

Best novel was taken by James McBride for his novel about a slave in the John Brown rebellion just before the Civil War.

Jhumpa Lahiri was a finalist for her new novel The Lowland.

"Easy reading is damn hard writing," said Maya Angelou in a speech after being presented with the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.  

I can relate to that comment.

Angelou is now 85 and gets about in a wheelchair.  I had the privilege of hearing her speak  in 2009.

E. L. Doctorow also got an award and spoke of reading a book as "the essence of interactivity," even though "It's written in silence and read in silence." 

If you haven't read him yet, try "A House on the Plains," which is available in The Ecco Anthology of Contemporary American Short Fiction.  If you like Alfred Hitchcock, you'll like this story.

Toni Morrison, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993, presented the award to Maya Angelou. 

 Wish I could have been there!  These great writers won't be with us much longer.  Morrison and Doctorow are 82.  

Happy Birthday, Joyce!

Thank you to Mary Hunt for sharing this scene of Joyce Ride's 90th birthday on the Water Voices blog.  It's fun to see Gloria Steinem in the photo.

Joyce is a truly generous soul and the mother of astronaut Sally Ride, who died in 2012.

Ministry to persons in prison is Joyce's passion.  She came to the 2004 EEWC conference in Claremont to present on this topic.

More and more of my friends are entering their 90s.  

In 2012 I attended three 90th birthday parties: Rizz Arthur Dean (my mother-in-law) in Locust Valley, NY; Virginia Johnson (an EEWC friend) in Benecia, CA; and Ada Marie Grell (a PEO sister) in Santa Monica.

 I'm in my 60s and hope someday to become a nonagenarian!.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Arminda's Questions

When Eddie was shot down, he had his cell phone on him.

The Santa Monica Police Department confiscated the phone as part of the evidence needed for their case.

They promised to return the phone when it was no longer needed, and then decided that instead they would give Arminda a CD of all the photos, names, and text messages on his phone.

She would treasure this as a record of the last days of his life, but she never received the promised CD.  

Now that the trial is over and the killer is convicted, could someone please return the cell phone or give her the promised CD?


Arminda received a phone call with news of the conviction of Jose Zapien before an announcement was made to the public.  

The father of the other young man killed in 2006, Miguel Martin, did not receive any phone call or notice.  He found out about the conviction by visiting Arminda at her workplace.

How can we improve police contact with the families of crime victims, years afterward when a trial is finally conducted and a verdict reached?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Spreading Hate

Where do you buy a license to hate?

Even Pope Francis says, "If a gay person is seeking God, who am I to judge?"

This note to a person waiting tables in New Jersey tops my list of mean things done to other people.

The author of the note didn't mind giving his/her order to the waiter, and being served by her--but on moral grounds can't tip?

High grounds--and very slippery.

A Thousand Words

The death of 14-year-old Elawnza Peebles did not make headlines.  After all, these shootings occur so often in Los Angeles.  Innocent bystanders being shot as gangs fight with each other is not news.

This photo, however, moves his death from the world of statistics to the closeness of heart-wrenching loss.

The caption:

"Tears stream down the face of 10-year-old James Dotson of Bellflower at a candlelight vigil for his cousin Elawnza Peebles, 14, who was fatally shot Friday near Kansas Avenue and 46th Street in L.A.'s Vermont Square.  A police detective said Elawnza was not a gang member and had recently moved to the area."

Thank you to the Los Angeles Times for choosing this photo for the daily feature, 1,000 Words.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Justice for Eddie Lopez

A young gang member was convicted Tuesday in the murder of Eddie Lopez in 2006 in Santa Monica, as well as the murder of Miguel Martin later that year, two days after Christmas.,0,47319.story#axzz2kbbvlKEl

Eddie remains on my mind because he attended the same schools as my daughters: John Adams Middle School and Santa Monica High School.  

He was only 15 years old, a popular student and outstanding right fielder on a SMHS baseball team when he was gunned down.  Jose Zapien is the convicted killer, now 25 years old but then only 18.

Eddie's life was taken on Pico Blvd. at 26th Street, two blocks from Virginia Avenue Park where Miguel was shot.  I drive past these locations, a mile from my home, daily.

I see Eddie's mother, Arminda Lopez, when I go to the local grocery store where she works.  

Each time I see her, I am riveted: she lives every day with the loss of her son.  She goes to work and smiles at the customers.  How does she do it?

This past weekend she mentioned hoping for a conviction.  "There's plenty of evidence that it's him," she said. "But some people are saying that the real killer is in Mexico."

I was amazed that for seven years the case has been unresolved.  To me, Eddie's death is an event in the past.

For her, however, it's not over.  She has accepted the loss of her son but still has had to follow the case in court and worry about whether Eddie's killer will go free.

As of today, she has one less uncertainty: Zapien faces multiple life sentences without parole.

Knowing Arminda and caring about Eddie reminds me of the shallowness of my life and my problems.  There I am, rushing down the cereal aisle, pressured to get back home and get papers graded before tomorrow's classes, when suddenly a wider perspective opens before me.

Arminda.  Eddie.  Gang warfare right here in Santa Monica.  

Economic privilege is the underpinning of every moment of my life.  The neighborhood has been safe for my daughters, probably because they are white and female and well-off and did not hang out at the park.  

For those born male and Mexican-American or Salvadoran-American, the area is not so safe.  

What factors drew Jose Zapien into the gang life?  

I don't know, but one thing is sure: he did not grow up surrounded by books and toys, driven to soccer games, taken to the pediatrician and orthodontist every few weeks. 

Thank you to LA Times reporter Robert J. Lopez for writing up this report from the statement issued by the Santa Monica Police Department.  As far as news in Los Angeles today, this conviction is just a footnote.  In the lives of many, however, it is huge.

Here's the Santa Monica Daily Press report:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Name Change Issue

In the 1960s, I never questioned whether women should take their husbands' names in marrying.

In 1970, however, I read a newspaper article about women keeping their birth names, and I decided instantly that I would never change my name to that of a husband.

In 2012 my daughter Ellen married, and she decided to take her husband's surname.  

It seems she hadn't really appreciated the surname Eggebroten that I in my feminist ardor had bestowed on her.  

John had agreed to giving each daughter both his surname and mine: Rosamond Arthur Eggebroten, Ellen A.E., and Marie A.E.  No hyphen.  

But the middle surname got slighted over the years by teachers, schools, and friends.  Ellen was known as Ellen Eggebroten, and she was more than happy to gain a more elegant surname: Michel.

In today's LA Times, another millennial explains her decision to add her husband's surname to her own.,0,7533204.story#axzz2klRVD5MH

Read it.  Each generation, each person has her own reasons for deciding how to represent her identity.

It's all about choice.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Kystallnacht--Nov. 9

I never heard of Krystallnacht when I was growing up in Boulder, Colorado, in the 1950s.  

My Weekly Reader told me about efforts to end segregation in the South; I knew about slavery and the Civil War.

We scrambled under our desks for "Civil Air Defense drills," so I knew about the Cold War.  My father had fought in World War II and still put on his Army uniform once a month and went to do something with the National Guard.  

We had lived in Tokyo for three years before I started kindergarten, so I was vaguely aware of the Korean War.  I had heard about Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima.  When we kids were jumping off a bed, we'd throw our arms up and shout banzai as if we were fierce warriors.

But I never heard about Krystallnacht, the night of November 9, 1938, when a thousand synagogues and seven thousand Jewish businesses were destroyed in Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, followed by rounding up 30,000 Jews and sending them to concentration camps.  This event marked the beginning of Nazi genocide on a large scale.

Thank you to Mark Hetfield, president of HIAS, an international Jewish nonprofit that has protected refugees since its founding in 1881, for his eye-opening op-ed piece in the New York Times today:,0,7964340.story#axzz2kJ3GkEZw

This year marks the 75th anniversary of this horror, leading us into a string of 75th anniversaries to come in the next seven years.

I first heard about Krystallnacht in the 1990s or first decade of the 21st century by watching a television documentary, perhaps marking fifty years since the violence.

What a well-kept secret.   Why didn't I learn about it in high school in the 1960s?  

When I visited Berlin in 1967, the German family I stayed with was reluctant to talk about World War II.  I wanted to see that famous landmark, the Berlin Wall, but my hosts were not keen to take me.

I read The Diary of Anne Frank several times, starting in the 1950s, but no one ever told me that Anne's family made many attempts to get visas to join her uncles in Boston while the US refused.  There was no right to seek asylum until the UN passed the Refugee Convention in 1951.

The arbiters of our culture pick and choose as much of history as they think we can stomach--or perhaps as much as they can bear to view.  

Even Elie Wiesel could not write Night until ten years after being released from a concentration camp.  

Now that we are safely 75 years beyond Krystallnacht, this horror is getting some attention, and stolen art treasures are being returned to the descendants of those who lost them.,0,4039020.story#axzz2kJ3GkEZw

Hallelujah--a broken Hallelujah.

One way to learn about the continuing impact of Krystallnacht is to read the short story by Irene Dische titled "Die Juden" ("The Jewess").  It takes place in 1980 as an American of Jewish heritage travels to Berlin to claim his inheritance, now being returned by the German government.

It's in International Women's Stories ed. Kate Figes (Penguin, 1996).

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Least We Can Do

My daughter sent me a link to one of the many organizations working for immigration reform in the US.

Reform Immigration for America:

This website does not ask for money.  It just asks you to send an email to three key Republicans in the House of Representatiaves: Kevin McCarthy, Eric Cantor,and John Boehner.

I did it--I sent my letter.  You can do it too.  In fact, the website provides a letter for you, which you can edit or rewrite as I did.

Here's my letter:

I've lived in California for 52 years, and I passionately support immigration reform--including the path to citizenship.

Please allow it to come to a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives!  It's the decent thing to do.  A majority of the citizens in California support comprehensive immigration reform, as do many other persons in every state.  

I lived in Bakersfield CA during my formative years and graduated from East Bakersfield High School in 1966, first in my class, graduated from Stanford University in 1970, and earned a doctorate to teach English literature, which I have done for most of my life.

I urge you, as a leader in the Republican party and the House of Representatives, to honor our nation's values of family, dignity and justice. This bill will permit reunion of families that are now unable to see each other over holidays or even when a parent is dying.  People who have lived here 20 years need to have family visitation rights.  As it is, when they return to Mexico or El Salvador or some other country to visit a dying parent, they cannot return to care for their children, except by trying to cross the border illegally at the risk of their lives.

I've visited both Tijuana, BC, and Nogales, AZ & Sonora.  I know.  I have talked with two women who returned to visit a dying parent and then could not get back across the border to take care of their children.

See my article on these women posted on a Christian feminist website:

See also my report on my visit to Nogales.  Take a few days and fly to Tucson yourself.  Drive down to Nogales and spend an hour at the soup kitchen for recent deportees "El Comedor," sponsored by the Catholic church.;postID=3261627817225865994;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=93;src=postname

Our current immigration system is inhumane.  It also wastes money.  You have the power to enact lasting reform that benefits our economy and keeps families together.

The American people deserve and demand a vote on citizenship. 

Representative McCarthy, you are the Majority Whip.  You can make this happen.  I call on you to lead the Republican party to act now, and pass immigration reform with a fair path to citizenship this year.

Representative Boehner, you are a family man.  Please care about the families of those who plant and harvest the food your family eats.

Representative Cantor, you are the leader.  Please lead.  This will help your party in the 2016 elections.  

Anne Eggebroten

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I never know what to expect when I walk in the door of my church on Sunday morning. 
I-Joen Beer, Sue Mallory, Thomas Beer, Dr. Anderson.

Today it was the pastor of a megachurch in the Washington, D.C., area speaking on Gracism: The Art of Inclusion (which is also the title of his 2007 book published by InterVarsity Press).

I'd never heard of Dr. David Anderson, but I quickly realized he is a talented public speaker and a profoundly committed Christian with insights I need.

For instance, he coined the word gracism--"what you get when you put God in front of racism."  He defined racism, then defined grace, and then said the answer to racism is grace.

He described founding a church that now includes 4000 members from 52 nations.  He wrote the book on Multicultural Ministry--literally.  His wife is Korean.  

He's on his way to a Mosaic Conference--"a Christian experience for international students" with conferences on the East and West coasts.

Sue Mallory, a member of Brentwood Presbyterian Church and long-term friend of David invited him to come early to the west coast and visit our church this morning.

Praise the Lord!  Or Lady.  

An Unpredictable Pope

These days I almost pity the religious right in the US.  They can't even rely on the Pope any more.

Previous popes could be depended on to issue solemn edicts against abortion, contraception, and homosexuality.  Pope Francis says the Church should "stop being obsessed" with those issues.

Fighting against a godless society, the right enjoyed a series of Popes who saw the world the same way they did: atheists and Communists vs. the Kingdom of God, a world order quite comfortable with capitalism.  

Pope Francis not only shrugs off the fight against gays with "Who am I to judge?"  He met in September with a well-known atheist journalist and downplayed the idea of saving the world through gaining converts.

Sylvia Poggiolio, correspondent from Rome for National Public Radio, gave a hilarious report on the radio today about Vatican Pope-handlers scrambling to keep up with Francis:

The journalist met the pope in the small hotel on Vatican grounds that Francis has chosen as his modest residence, forsaking the palatial papal apartment. And Francis made some sensational statements, including: "Proselytism is solemn nonsense" and "The world's most serious afflictions today are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old."

A report on the interview with Eugenio Scalfari is available from Scott Neuman on an NPR blog "The Two-Way":

In the conversation with Scalfari, Pope Francis revealed how much a professor, both Communist and female, had influenced him in his days as a university student:

He said that in his youth, he was influenced by a university professor "who was a fervent communist."
"She often read Communist Party texts to me and gave them to me to read. So I also got to know that very materialistic conception," he said. The woman, he said, "was later arrested, tortured and killed by the dictatorship then ruling in Argentina."
This woman is a martyr, and Francis expects to see her in heaven.  Consider his comments last May, also reported in the same NPR blog:

  In a radio address in May, the pope shocked many by calling atheists "precious allies" and advising them to "do good: we will meet one another there."

Footnotes: Matthew 25 and Jesus' words to the thief on the cross.

Francis is behaving more and more like Jesus, and that of course is scandalous.