Friday, February 03, 2012

Cut Out the Middle Man

As I work on the latest story fighting for head space, I take a few moments to read the news and am appalled by what I see. I've known about the fight in the UK to keep libraries open and a world where libraries cease to exist because of budget cuts is not a world where I want to live.

Yes, I can afford to buy books on digital and in print, but can the community afford to let free access to books end? Not if they want to maintain literacy or informed people. Not if they want to fund a place where poor children can go to learn to read and be introduced to new writers and books. Not if they want a place where even the poor can go to learn and dream and become more. It's not an option in a sane world.

The UK has socialized medicine, but they can't afford -- or won't pay for -- libraries? What is wrong with this picture?

Fighting for attention is the Susan G. Komen organization's decision to stop funding mammograms for poor and indigent women through Planned Parenthood. They can donate their money wherever they choose, but their reasoning is specious and faulty. Mammograms through Planned Parenthood aren't done on the premises? Okay, so why not make funds available to buy the equipment so the mammograms can be done in-house? End of problem and better use of resources. The $700,000 a year for mammograms previously granted to PP wasn't enough to buy the equipment and provide trained technicians to do the exams. The choice in how to spend the funds was up to the people making mammograms available.

Of course, machines and technicians for detailed exams and ultrasounds would also have to be purchased since that is the next step if a suspicious nodule is found on mammogram, but that could be shunted off to the local hospital or clinic and the funds could follow the patient. It's a hack's way of doing things when SGK could erect their own buildings and buy the equipment, pay the staff to do mammograms in a SGK funded facility, but why waste the money when there are facilities already available.

My biggest beef is calling Planned Parenthood an abortion facility. That is not all that Planned Parenthood is about and minimalizes what the facilities do. Education is a big part of their services, as is providing condoms and doing pregnancy tests. There are also training classes in safe sex and parenting and counseling on options while pregnant. STD testing, psychological counseling, group therapy for parents and would-be parents, a place to go to fill out forms for WIC and Welfare and a host of other groups and services, and, yes, a place to go for an abortion if that is a choice. Planned Parenthood is about choices -- all choices, not just approved choices.

On a positive note, donations to Planned Parenthood have gone viral and, at last count, were up to $400,000. It's a beginning.

Did I mention that prenatal care is also one of Planned Parenthood's services? Check-ups and risk assessment?

The spokespeople for Susan G. Komen say their decision wasn't based on politics and yet it looks political. It sounds political and it smells political. What do people say about something that looks, talks, sounds, and smells like something? 'nuff said.

We live in a world of political expediency where what looks like a money-saving issue is really anything but. The UK is supposedly trying to save money by shutting down libraries. Susan G. Komen is supposedly intent on spending their money where it would do the most good. Neither situation passes the smell test.

The people who donated their hard earned dollars to the Susan G. Komen Foundation should find a better place to donate their money, like directly to Planned Parenthood.

As for the UK, as an American anything I say would be ignored because I don't live in the UK, but in a country noted for its social programs and the home and birthplace of many literary stars, you'd think that politics wouldn't be the deciding factor in whether or not to fund libraries. It must be hard to close libraries with such a legacy, but it certainly doesn't look hard from here. 

Put your money and your votes where they will do the most good. Speak in a way that politicians understand -- with votes and dollars. Go directly to the source.

Planned Parenthood 

British Libraries

Monday, January 30, 2012

Somewhere in Time

The fantasy of time, its limits only solid when looking at it from a day-to-day perspective, has been a popular element in fiction and movies. From H. G. Wells's The Time Machine to the modern day Map of Time by Felix Palma, it's all about time, where you can go, and what is found when the boundaries of time are crossed. Time travel was an element writers like Andre Norton and Stephen King have employed, King in his last 11/23/63, which I have not yet read, but look forward to whenever I unearth it from the cracks it feel between a month or so ago. I may have to tear down a wall to get to it, but that's what happens when reading in bed and falling asleep with it still in my hands.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could think or dream ourselves to a different time and walk the streets of Venice or watch the Battle of Waterloo from a mountaintop neaerby? Or find that perfect love, the one who was made with us in mind, and find that happily ever after?

It was a portrait of an actress who appeared at a theater after the dawning of the 20th century that drew Richard Collier to the past. Richard Matheson wrote Richard's love story in Bid Time Return, which was made into the movie, Somewhere in Time, with Christopher Reeve as Collier and Jane Seymour as Elise McKenna, a woman of beauty and talent appearing in a theatrical production. That has to be my favorite story and movie, although I saw the movie before I read the story, which is the way I find many books that have become favorites.

It wasn't so much the longing and excitement of that One Love that drew me to the story but the feeling that tim is a barrier only in the mind. To be in a room so steeped with time that the past bleeds into the present so seamlessly and to be able to walk from this time to that is an exhilarating possibility. Walking around in that time, knowing that you have been there before and can be again is a marvel of invention and relies only on the heart and mind of the traveler to make it so.

Although the story does not end happily ever after, the power of love and longing that reaches through time and connects two people is romantic and the sadness of the loss makes it that much more romantic and poignant. It is the delicate balance between romance and self-destruction that makes the story so memorable. Was it madness that drove Richard to reach through the veils of time or was it love, that most powerful of emotions? Truth be told, there is madness in love that so single-mindedly drives us to assault the hurdles that prevent us from being with The One. Maybe that's what makes it so compelling, so intoxicating.

There is also a sense of wondrous possibility and hope that permeates the story as Richard strives to find the connection between himself and an actress he met just once, an aging woman who leaves him with a gold watch and a cryptic message: Come back to me. Who would not have remembered and, given the opportunity, follow, no matter the risk? There is hope in such madness and madness beyond words that fills the soul with love and possibility.

Each time I read the story or see the movie I wish again that Richard and Elise had found a way to stay together, but then there would be no story and neither would have reached the pinnacles of their arts. It is the conundrum of time -- and love -- that what burns hottest and brightest is too seductive to resist and is still more worth the having. Who would not risk all to find even a moment of perfect happiness and to know that what was once found can be found again somewhere in time?