Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Redemption Road?

Toyota gave us the swagger wagon with their Sienna commercials, but just what is it that Honda’s trying to sell us in their latest Odyssey commercial? A heavy metal minivan with the path to Redemption Road pre-programmed into the GPS? Redemption from what? The horror of having to buy a gallon of milk? The only thing missing from this commercial is a tramp in fishnet stockings!

I think I’m supposed to be the target consumer for this product, but this marketing offends me. Is this how they think men in the minivan market need to be appealed to? The type of man likely to be swayed by this type of commercial is not going to be caught dead in a minivan, no matter how many fireworks are going off behind it.

Instead, I would have emphasized the cross-platform utility and elegance of the vehicle. Scene 1: transporting a baseball team in the morning. Scene 2: fold down the seats and transport lumber and tools for home projects in the afternoon. Scene 3: a tuxedo and evening gown affair with the wife, complete with valet parking. Leave the heavy metal fantasies to the childish childless.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

1994 Redux

Remember how, in 1994, a wave of conservative legislators were swept into office on the promise of the Contract With America? It’s hard to believe that was 16 years ago. That year coincided with my own spiritual and political awakening. As I came to recognize and embrace the truths of the Catholic faith, I also moved toward political principles that favored subsidiarity, family values, and economic opportunity. 1994 was an exciting year.

I cannot adequately describe the disappointment that I felt when, two years later, the Republicans nominated Bob Dole to be their presidential candidate. I was pleased with the platform written by the Republican delegates at their 1996 convention, but Dole distanced himself from the document, declining even to read it. I took it like a thumb in the eye, and decided that he wasn’t going to get my vote. I wasn’t about to punch the chad for Bill Clinton, so my protest vote that year went to Howard Phillips.

This year, 2010, looks like it will be as big a year for conservative Republicans as 1994 was, and we look forward to evicting President Obama from the White House in 2012. However, I worry that when it comes time to pick a candidate to run against the incumbent, the Republican Party, hot on the heels of a 1994 redux, will end up with a 1996 redux.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Going Easy

The end of my running season is approaching. I could run in a local non-tour 5K this Saturday, but I’m choosing not to. That leaves two races on my calendar. The big annual event in our little village is the Oktoberfest, and it has a 10K (6.2 miles) race associated with it. Lots of locals who don’t run at all the rest of the year will lace up their shoes to run in the Oktoberfest 10K. I join them because a) it’s kind of a big deal; b) a group of my fellow employees enters as a team (we took second place last year); and c) the race features weight divisions (I took first place in the over-220 lb division last year). Therefore, I have to run, if only to defend my fatso class title. That race is a week away. The other race is two weeks after the Oktoberfest, and is the final race in the Shelby County 5K Tour. I haven’t done as well in the tour this year – my times are slower, and I’m out of the running for first place in my age group, but I could still place second, and I have yet to win a door prize this year.

I’ve been averaging about 20-25 miles of training per week, since early April. For serious runners, that doesn’t sound like much, but I’m over forty years old now and over 220 pounds. These days, when I go out for a run, I feel it in my knees. I find myself trying to balance my need to train for the last two races against the need to maintain the integrity of my knees. Once we enter the off-season, I’m going to have to find a lower-impact form of exercise to engage in for a while.

The thought occurred to me this week: I don’t need to run those last two races. That’s certainly true. I’m not a professional athlete. Nothing requires that I maintain a minimum level of physical fitness. I could begin my off-season today. As usual, however, I immediately reminded myself of the spiritual analogy. Nothing requires me to do anything more than comply with the precepts of the Church: attend mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation; fast and abstain on prescribed days; confess mortal sins once a year; receive Communion once a year; and contribute financially to the support of the Church. Nothing requires me to pray Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer (lauds or vespers). After all, I’m not a priest, deacon, or vowed religious. I don’t have to pray the rosary, or make a holy hour, or read the Bible.

It’s not really good to think in terms of only what’s required, though, is it? There are folks who trudge off to the gym to “workout” with the least possible effort. You see them in the cardio room, putting in their allotted time on the stair climber, but supporting themselves the whole time on the rails, with their arms extended and their elbows locked. They do it out of a sense of duty, or to be able to say that they do it, but their heart isn’t really into it. That’s not how I want to exercise. That’s not how I want to pray, either.

I want my prayer to be motivated by love, even if the love has to be willed because the emotion is absent. As for my exercise, well, that’s as close as I get to penitential self-flagellation. It is a training of my self-discipline as much as anything else. “I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave….” (1 Cor 9:26-27)


The video below was featured at Catholic Exchange and conveys a beautiful pro-life message. The video is part of a collection of videos at Too Many Aborted.com, a site that seeks to educate the public about the impact of abortion on the African-American community.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Getting the Headline Wrong

I checked the Dayton Daily News headline this morning, and was shocked to see this: “Local economy gets a boost from increased tax revenue collections.” That sounds completely backwards. Are we to believe that increased tax collection actually led to an improved economy? That’s not what the body of the story actually says. According to Dayton’s City Manager, “It’s hard to pinpoint why we are doing a little better on the income tax side, but I think it’s generally because the economy has gotten a little bit better.”

That makes a little more sense. Tax revenues are up because the economy has improved. The headline, however, completely reverses the cause and the effect. This should serve as a warning to any who get their news by scanning the DDN headlines.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

On a Dry Plateau

How long does it go on?

All summer long, it seems, I’ve been running, and every 5K that I run finds me struggling to finish with about the same time (and that time being about a minute slower than last year). All of my effort seems to be just for maintenance, without any improvement. Shouldn’t I at least be losing weight? Nope. I’m stuck.

I experienced the same thing when I was lifting weights. You hit a plateau where all of the effort in the gym only goes to keep from losing the progress you’ve made. Your muscles aren’t getting any bigger, and the weight you’re moving just isn’t getting any heavier.

The same applies to my spiritual life. I have prayed the Liturgy of the Hours every morning and every evening (along with spontaneous prayers offered throughout the day), and yet nothing seems to change. I ditched the i-pod for a finger rosary when pounding out the miles, but there has still been no closer communion with God. Every confession seems to be a replay of the twenty previous confessions. There is no progress. I’m on a plateau.

But what happens if I stop running, stop lifting, or stop praying? I gain weight, lose aerobic capacity, get weak, and grow distant from God. There are things an athlete can do to break out of a rut. Runners can incorporate interval training, improve nutrition, or take supplements. It might not be as easy to overcome a period of spiritual dryness, as anyone who has read the correspondence of Mother Teresa is aware. In that case, all that we can do is trust in God’s providential love.

So I’m in a rut (or on a plateau), and it’s frustrating, but I don’t dare stop what I’ve been doing. (Actually, I do dare, occasionally, much to my detriment.) What I’m doing now might be the best I can manage, given the circumstances. Even so, I can make adjustments to my physical training or pious practices. The important thing is to hold on to what I’ve worked so hard to achieve (while at the same time remaining detached from the physical and acknowledging that the spiritual is more of a gratuitous gift) without despairing that this just might be as good as it gets.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fatherless Connection - Contraception and the Church

A recent blog post or column or whatever by Sandro Magister (and highlighted by Catholic News Agency) commented on a topic that was featured in Brian Gail’s novel Fatherless. In Fatherless, the characters of Joe Delgado and Fr. John Sweeney have to confront the failure of the Catholic Church to stand against the cultural forces pushing contraception on society.

What Magister notes (citing a book by a professor of demography at the University of Padua) is that the problem did not suddenly appear out of nowhere in the 1960’s, but goes much further back. Priests were advised, when hearing confessions, not to ask questions. There was no preaching on contraception, so many of the laity were unaware of the moral issues involved and therefore did not consider it something that needed to be confessed in the sacrament of penance. As a result, it’s use became widespread among the Catholic population, even though it was never accepted by the Church.

The distance between Church teaching and the use of contraceptives continues to be perceived by most of the population as neither a sin nor a rebellion.

Even afterward – and this brings us up to today – the condemnation of contraceptives would be the subject of papal documents, but already at the level of the bishops it would hardly appear in preaching. The clergy, for their part, would be almost completely silent on it. And would continue to be very understanding and indulgent in the confessional.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fatherless Connection - The Priority of Cable

In Brian Gail’s novel Fatherless, Michael Burns takes a job at an advertising firm responsible for marketing cable television. He eventually finds that the content of the cable channel programming leads to moral dilemmas, and he tries to argue for programming that is friendlier to family values.

In the course of his market research, Michael discovers that men are overwhelmingly behind families’ decisions to purchase cable service and women are responsible for the decision to cancel cable subscriptions. I thought of that the other day as I listened to a C-SPAN interview with financial analyst Meredith Whitney. During the course of the interview, the discussion turns to credit card lending and legal changes to the way the credit card issuers set rates. In the past, credit card companies would adjust rates for customers depending upon risk. If customers started missing payments, not just on their credit cards, but on other bills, they were viewed as greater risks, and their rates would be raised.

What I found interesting, in relation to the story told in Fatherless, was that what really set off warning bells at credit card companies was when a man started to miss payments on his cable bill. In other words, men apparently place a high priority on their access to cable programming. They will let other bills go unpaid before they give up their cable. By the time they start missing cable payments, they are in serious financial difficulties.

Something tells me that it isn’t EWTN that these men are clinging to.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Triumph of the Cross

As Christians, we believe that God, in his unity, has a trinitarian nature. We further believe that the second person of the Holy Trinity, God the Son, having no less of the nature of God than God the Father or God the Holy Spirit, entered time and took on the nature of man.

These two sentences alone are extremely hard to fathom. But consider that God not only assumed our nature, he did so in order to die, so that our nature might be redeemed. The instrument of our redemption was the cross. Every year, on the fourteenth of September (as well as on Good Friday), we remember in a special way the cross upon which the salvation of the world was accomplished through the sacrifice of God himself.

Who are we, that our creator should shower us with such incomprehensible love?

O glorious cross, your arms upheld the priceless ransom of captive mankind.
- Through you the world has been saved by the blood of the Lord.

Hail, O cross, consecrated by the body of Christ;
his members have made you wood more noble than precious pearls.
- Through you the world has been saved by the blood of the Lord

Fatherless Connection - Semantic Definitions

In the novel Fatherless, by Brian Gail, the character Joe Delgado is shocked to learn that oral contraceptives have an abortifacient effect. Most oral contraceptives work primarily by suppressing ovulation, but breakthrough ovulations still occur in approximately one of every six months. If the breakthrough ovulation results in a fertilized egg (i.e., conception), then the secondary effect kicks in. The hormones in the pill make the womb inhospitable to the newly conceived human life by preventing implantation.

Medical ethicists avoided the question of when life begins by positing that pregnancy begins with implantation. Therefore, the pill prevents pregnancy. The fact that the termination of a human life is the necessary result was (and is) completely sidestepped.

This aspect of the novel continues to be current news. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recently approved the drug “ella.” Ella is described as “emergency contraception” that can be taken up to five days after sexual intercourse. Ella works not only to prevent implantation, but to cause the body to reject an already implanted embryo.

There is some additional semantic obfuscation going on here. By classifying the drug as a contraceptive, the FDA opens the door for the federal government to fund use of the drug through Medicaid, Title X, and international family planning programs. If the drug were properly classified as an abortifacient, then laws barring the federal government from funding abortion would apply.

Words mean things, and in this case, loosely defined or even misused labels can literally be a matter of life and death.

Monday, September 13, 2010


I am not generally inclined to burn books of any sort (although, when I was a lad, my friends and I thought it was great fun to burn our school notebooks after the last day of classes), especially those considered sacred by major world religions. However (you knew a “but” was coming, didn’t you?), nothing makes me want to do it quite as much as all the hyperventilating in response to the threat of an inconsequential fringe pastor in Florida to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Seeing effigies and American flags burned while crowds shout “Death to Christians” makes me want to push back in some way.

If we can’t burn their book in a quid pro quo fashion (don’t pretend that you didn’t know Bibles are routinely confiscated and destroyed in Muslim countries) or draw cartoons mocking their prophet, what does that leave us? Yes, I know about Luke 6: 27-38. I also know that it has to be read in continuity with the rest of scripture, including the Old Testament. It really doesn’t do any good to say, “My, how uncivilized!” or “That’s not really my cup of tea” or “Can’t we all just get along?” when even quoting a historical figure who was suggesting that Islam is prone to violence and opposed to reason, as Pope Benedict XVI did at his Regensburg lecture, is likely to cause violent, unreasoning mobs throughout the Muslim world.

How ‘bout if I draw a cartoon mocking Mohammed for freaking out about some no-name threatening to burn his book and then burn my crude cartoon? I don’t even need to do it, I can just announce that I’m thinking about planning to do it. As a Catholic, though, that approach might be a little too confrontational and in-your-face. We are supposed to be more affirming of what is good and true and just.

So let’s have a full-on celebration on October 7 of the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, raising our voices in prayerful thanksgiving for the destruction of the Turkish fleet at Lepanto. Would that be a sufficiently Catholic response, or is our own calendar now too confrontational?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Booming Business

On the drive in to work this morning, I caught a bit of the business news on NPR’s Morning Edition. The news was, I think, meant to be upbeat, about small businesses that were opening or expanding in defiance of the slow economy. Normally, I would cheer such news, but this report did nothing to lift my outlook.

It was the types of businesses profiled that dampened my cheer: a tanning salon, a wine bar, a cupcake store. Economic growth and prosperity is not going to happen on the basis of frivolities like these. The image that came to my mind was the scene from Peter Jackson’s Return of the King, wherein Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, feasts while his knights, led by his son Faramir, execute a doomed attack on Osgiliath.

We find ourselves engaged in a twilight struggle of civilizations, with our brave soldiers fighting and dying on foreign fields to secure a future worthy of our past and traditions. With our economy tottering weakly, we turn our attention to tans, wine, and cupcakes? Who the heck are we?

Monday, September 6, 2010

First Assessment for 2012

The 2008 presidential campaign started early and seemed to last forever. Part of that was probably due to the ineligibility of the incumbent to run for reelection and the disinterest of the incumbent Vice President in seeking a promotion. We currently find ourselves closing in on the 2010 mid-term elections, and there’s already considerable buzz about who will be battling for the Republican nomination in 2012. There’s even been some suggestion that President Obama could face a primary challenge for the Democratic nomination. I expect that the Battle of 2012 will start to heat up around January of 2011, if not sooner. Don’t the next two years sound like fun?

Unfortunately, I live in Ohio. We have a relatively late (May) primary, so by the time we get to vote, the candidates that I really liked have been eliminated. If I learned anything from the 2008 election results, it is this: Never judge a politician by what he or she says during a campaign. Rather, judge them by their votes on legislation and/or actions as an executive to measure their governing philosophy. It’s not what they say, but what they do that defines who they are.

My tentative support at this point is split between three governors: Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Haley Barbour of Mississippi, and Mitch Daniels of Indiana. Mitt Romney says all the right things, but I have trouble reconciling what he says with what he did as Governor of Massachusetts. The one thing that Romney clearly seems capable of is surrounding himself with competent people and coordinating their actions. If, after four years of Obama governance, the country needs to be rescued, Romney may very well be the best man for the job. I like Sarah Palin, but I have a hard time getting past the way she abandoned her post as Governor of Alaska. Mike Huckabee turned me off with the way he teamed up with John McCain against Romney in 2008, and I never quite felt comfortable with his positions on taxation, crime, and foreign policy. That leaves a pair of legislators on my early list: Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Gingrich was the architect of the 1994 Republican Congress, but he quickly become a lightning rod of negatives, with every Democratic candidate in 1998 morphing pictures of their opponents into a picture of Gingrich. As for Santorum, he seems nice enough and says the right things, but he endorsed Arlen Specter over Pat Twomey, and I am loathe to turn the reins of government over to another Senator.

So there you have my very early assessment. We’ll see whether any of my top three is still around by the time that May 2012 rolls ‘round.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Language of the Missal

The new English translation of the Roman missal has been approved and is scheduled to enter use 15 months from now in Advent of 2011. Over at Headline Bistro, Cale Clarke highlights four places where the English text has been changed to more closely match the normative Latin text and notes that the new verbiage draws closer connections to important biblical passages.

But there are two basic reasons the new English translation will make the greatest thing on Earth even greater. First, the new translation conveys a better sense of what the official Latin text actually says. Second, the new translation highlights the biblical background of the Mass texts in profound ways.

This will be the biggest change to the mass that I’ve seen in my adult lifetime, even though the changes are fairly minor. It will be interesting to see how our parish implements the new translation. My guess is that it won’t be well.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Clear Conscience

I have, on a few occasions, found myself involved in discussions of Christian morality, and I often hear two assertions that frustrate me greatly. The first is that conscience is the ultimate moral authority. The ultimate moral authority is actually God. We are, however, bound to act in accord with our conscience, and no individual should be forced to act contrary to their conscience. However, one’s conscience has to be properly formed, and it is possible for an improperly formed conscience to demand an immoral act. Following an improperly formed conscience cannot make an immoral act moral.

The second assertion is similar: that if a person doesn’t know that an act is a sin, then that act isn’t sinful for that person. I certainly agree that knowledge is a prerequisite for mortal sin, but, as in the case of an improperly formed conscience, ignorance of the immorality or sinfulness of an act does not make the act moral.

I was reminded of this today when I read today’s non-Gospel reading from the Lectionary. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote, “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” (1 Cor 5:4, NIV translation) Paul, it seems, has made every human effort to comply with the will of God, and yet he acknowledges that he might have judged wrongly, and that his honest mistakes will not be without consequence when he is judged.

Ignorance is not bliss, because it is not an excuse. We should seek to form our consciences so that a clear conscience becomes a sign of innocence.

Fatherless Connection - Pushing the Pill

In the Joe Delgado story arc of Fatherless, author Brian Gail asserts that the government was complicit in promoting oral contraceptives as a means of population control, in spite of evidence that they might be harmful to the health of women. In the Michael Burns story arc, Gail notes the role played by marketing campaigns in creating demand for a cable television product that the public appeared to be rejecting. We all know how pervasive both the pill and the cable networks have become in our country.

The Phillippine Daily Inquirer reports that the government of the United States, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is actively promoting contraceptive use in other countries, and that they appear to be using the same kind of marketing ploys that the cable executives used in Fatherless.

In a 37-page report, titled “Family Planning Behavior Change Communication Strategy,” the NCHP said: “The strategy builds on the understanding that encouraging individuals or couples to use family planning is a process, involving distinct audiences that need different messages and approaches.”

“Information alone is not enough to bring about behavior change among any audience. Instead, the strategy is based on a multilevel, synchronized and holistic marketing approach to family planning.”

The same report said “the approach is unique in that it focuses on increasing modern contraceptive use through demand generation, or increasing knowledge and forming positive attitudes toward contraceptive use and birth spacing; social marketing, or repackaging or selling the concept of family planning as a lifestyle that contributes to better quality of life; and service marketing, or building capacity of family-planning service providers and promoting model providers.”

So it is a goal of our government to create demand for contraceptives in other countries around the world. Our government is actively seeking to export the hedonistic and libidinous aspects of our culture.

Tell me again how we in America are the good guys.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fatherless Connection - Cable Content

In one of the Fatherless story arcs, a Catholic husband and father, Michael Burns, takes a job as an executive with a New York advertising agency where he becomes responsible for promoting the fictional Home Show Network (HSN). The events of the novel cover a period from about 1985 t o1995, when cable television and premium cable networks like HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax were aggressively expanding their market penetration.

What Michael recognized was that the product HSN was selling to American families contained increasing levels of sex and violence and that, while many households signed up to see the latest Hollywood blockbusters, they cancelled when they found the content either objectionable or not worth the cost. The cable channel executives, however, were convinced that the content of their programming was not the problem. If anything, they seemed determined to bet the future of their network on an increasing demand for even more salacious content.

I thought of that recently while listening to a Ricochet podcast in which contributor James Lileks shared how sick and tired he is “of freakin’ vampires. And not just vampire love and vampire fascination, but SEXY vampires.” What got his ire up was the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

Rob Long, playing the straight man, goads Lileks, “Yeah, yeah. It’s a big thing, James. The kids all love the vampires. What’s wrong with YOU?” The subtle implication (with some sarcasm by Rob Long) being that if a person is troubled by the popular culture, the problem is not with the culture but with the person who just doesn’t get it.

Lileks continues his rant, “Kids are loving that – yeah. Well, it’s (the cover of Rolling Stone) got the main characters from True Blood, which is an HBO show, and, you know, people love the True Blood because it’s just got SEX wall-to-wall all over the place.” This is where the popular culture is. James continues, in a sarcastic aside, “It’s not porn if there’s an HBO logo at the end of it. HUMM, like all HBO shows end.” The normalization of the disordered that Brian Gail’s HSN executives were pushing in Fatherless appears to be very nearly accomplished. Lileks continues, “So they like it for that, and they like it ‘cause everybody’s good looking, and they kill each other in the middle of things, and isn’t that just erotic and dangerous and dark and gothic and romantic, and on the cover of Rolling Stone, they’re all spattered in blood. I mean, they’re just hosed down with blood, and I’m thinking, you know, it’s one thing to have that sort of quasi-romantic tingling of danger fascination that Bela Lugosi was able to bring to the role or subsequent vampires, but when you actually have a popular culture that suggests that we should find erotic the idea of being sprayed with arterial blood in the middle of sexual congress, I think something is askew.” Right. Our popular culture is just slightly askew.

The podcast crew then goes on to compare James Bond, as a popular icon of the past, to the current fascination with vampires. Lileks remains unhappy that today’s zeitgeist finds its expression in “the undead glorifying in all of this animalistic copulation”. I join him in his unhappiness.

Was it inevitable that we end up here, or, as is suggested in Fatherless, were we pushed, prodded, and pulled into this cultural morass by amoral programmers at the media conglomerates providing our “entertainment?” Of course there was, and is, resistance, but we now find ourselves surrounded by the stuff, and the constant barrage slowly erodes our ability to be shocked by that which should shock us. In many ways, our culture has lost, or is losing, the essential elements that made Western Civilization great, and I find myself torn between the desire to see it reformed, if necessary, through tribulation, and the desire to see it spared. I want my country to be a source of goodness; it isn’t always.

As individuals, maybe we can’t move the culture much. We do, however, exert no small influence over our own lives. We can and must resist the temptation to allow smut into our homes through the television and the internet. We can and must intercede and make atonement not just for our own failings, but for the sins of our neighbors. And we must pray that there are enough good folk left to stay the hand of God’s just wrath.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fatherless Connection - The Danger of Oral Contraceptives

One of the themes of Brian Gail’s novel, Fatherless, was the damage done by oral contraceptives to the health of the women who take them. In the novel, a pharmaceutical executive becomes aware of the link and worries about an eventual class-action lawsuit and even the potential for criminal investigations. For those who have paid attention, the side effects of oral contraceptives should be serious enough to cause any woman to resist taking the drugs, and yet the population at large seems either ignorant or remarkably apathetic about the dangers.

I was a little surprised last week, when a story on the health risks of contraceptives aired on, of all places, National Public Radio. The story, by NPR’s Richard Knox, focused primarily on problems associated with Yaz, an oral contraceptive produced by Bayer Healthcare.

First, Yaz was marketed as being more than just an oral contraceptive. Commercials for Yaz suggested that the drug, in addition to acting as a contraceptive, would also help to improve other symptoms like moodiness, fatigue, headaches, and acne. The marketing campaign worked – women (and teenage girls) specifically requested Yaz from their doctors. However, the marketing claims were misleading, and the FDA ordered Bayer to run a corrective commercial.

All oral contraceptives have accompanying health risks, but those risks are even greater with especially strong drugs like Yaz. One 16-year-old user, profiled by Mr. Knox, suffered a blood clot in her leg that resulted in a pulmonary embolism. After being misdiagnosed by one doctor, another doctor noted the patient’s blue leg and immediately diagnosed the blood clot and the connection to birth control pills. That, in and of itself, says something about the frequency of serious side effects to contraceptive drugs. Richard Knox notes, “The link between birth control pills and blood clots isn’t new. It’s been known for decades. Every year a few thousand women suffer clots because they’re on the pill. But it’s possible that Yaz and Yasmin, a similar pill, carry a higher risk of clotting.” The increase in risk has been estimated to be somewhere between 64 and 100 percent. In other words, if a given number of Yaz users resulted in 1000 blood clots, an equal number of users of the “safer” oral contraceptives would still result in 500 to 610 blood clots.

In Fatherless, Joe Delgado worried about a class action lawsuit. According to NPR’s Knox, there are now 2700 women suing Bayer over Yaz. Even so, Bayer is going to market with another new contraceptive, in spite of the potential health risks. They are, no doubt, confident that women will buy the new alternative. Contraceptives are big business – NPR reports that just last year, Bayer earned $800 million through sales of Yaz. I can’t help but wonder whether somebody at Bayer has already calculatied how many blood clot victims can be compensated before that kind of revenue ceases to generate a profit?