Friday, September 28, 2007

Beacon Press' New blog

I am of course a huge fan of independent presses, including Beacon, which courageously published the first full-length edition of the Pentagon Papers more than 35 years ago. And my novel... :)

Check out their new blog that's being launched to coincide with Banned Books Week:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sign the Petition to Stop the VIolence in Myanmar

Dear friends,

Clicking below will add your name to this petition to Chinese Premier Hu Jintao and the UN Security Council:
"We stand alongside the citizens of Burma in their peaceful protests. We urge you to oppose a violent crackdown on the demonstrators, and to support genuine reconciliation and democracy in Burma. We pledge to hold you accountable for any further bloodshed."
Click Here Click Here to Sign Now
The Burmese protests are widening, the international response is building--and the Burmese generals are panicking. Today the Burmese junta banned gatherings of more than 5, and sent thousands of troops to take control of the street -- but still the monks and protesters march. Desperate officers have beaten, tear-gassed and fired on their own people, reportedly shooting five monks in Rangoon.

The next 36 hours are crucial. Leaders have called an emergency session of the UN Security Council--but only a decisive initiative will prevent a massacre like the one from 1988. Already 85,000 people from 192 countries have signed our emergency global petition.Please click the link below to sign (a single click will add your name), then send this email to others so they can too--we'll send the updated petition to the Chinese government and the UN Security Council members every day:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Charitable search engine

Check this out:

For every search you do it gives part of the profit to a charity of your choice.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Even Lousy acupuncture works better than Western Medicine for Back Pain

Here's a link to an article (and an ABC News video) about how acupuncture, even if done incorrectly, still works better than conventional pharma/surgical therapies in the treatment of back pain.

There's been a lot of news lately also showing that those expensive spinal fusion surgeries are very invasive and often don't do squat. You might want to try acupuncture first: click here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Thousands Join Monks in Myanmar

(photo credit: New York Times)

I think this picture of Buddhist monks in Myanmar peacefully protesting the military government--and being guarded by supporters--is so beautiful. Feel the energy! From the NY Times:


BANGKOK, Sept. 24 — Protesters poured onto the streets of Myanmar’s cities in unprecedented numbers today, pushing a month-old confrontation with the military government toward an unpredictable and possibly dangerous outcome.

In the country’s largest city, Yangon, the Buddhist monks who have led the protests for the past week were outnumbered by civilians, who included prominent political dissidents and well-known cultural figures.

A crowd estimated by The Associated Press to be as large as 100,000 set out in the morning from the gold-spired Shwedagon Pagoda and marched unopposed in separate columns through the city.

As they have in past days, some monks carried their begging bowls upside down, in a symbol of their refusal to receive alms from members of the military.

Other protests were reported in Mandalay, Sittwe and Bago. Monks and their supporters have marched in other cities as well in recent days.

The government continued to remain silent and mostly out of sight, giving the streets over to the protesters with virtually no uniformed security presence in evidence.

For all the energy and jubilation of the crowds, the country formerly known as Burma seemed to be holding its breath. As the demonstrations expanded from political dissidents a month ago to Buddhist monks last week to the broad cross-section of the public that filled the streets today, the government’s options seemed to be narrowing.

The demonstrations proceeded under the shadow of the last major nationwide convulsion, in 1988, when even larger pro-democracy protests were crushed by the military at the cost of some 3,000 lives.

“We are in uncharted territory,” said the British ambassador to Myanmar, Mark Canning, speaking by telephone from Yangon after observing the crowds today.

“These demonstrations seem to be steadily picking up momentum,” he said. “They are widely spread geographically. They are quite well organized, they are stimulated by genuine economic hardship and they are being done in a peaceful but very effective fashion.”

One possible outcome is that the demonstrations could simply run out of steam. But their rapid growth and the pent-up grievances that are driving them make that seem unlikely. With each day, the size of the crowds seems to attract even more participants.

Another possibility is the opening of some form of compromise or dialogue between the government and its opponents. But that is an option the country’s military rulers have never embraced.

Instead, they have jailed their political opponents, held the pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest and rejected the demands of the country’s marginalized ethnic minorities...


read more here. (use our login: GREENFERTILITY for username and password/soylent green is the answer to thte secret question)

Read more about the courageous Daw Aung San Suu Kyi here (she won the Nobel Peace Prize...anyone remember? Hello?)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Theo Origin Chocolate


These chocolates are nothing but cacao beans and sugar. I was a little apprehensive what the taste/texture would be like without the cocoa butter and soy lechithin...but the quality of the cacao beans they use, sourced from places lik Venezuela, the Ivory Coast (my favorite!), Madagascar, Ghana is so high that blending it with organic beet sugar grown in Sweden imparts a pure, clean sweetness that complements, rather than interferes with the nuanced flavors of the beans.

Now that's chocolate. The line ranges from 65 - 91% cacao content, and offers a true chocolate experience, rich in both satisfying flavor and antioxidants. Theo Origin Bars are vegan and soy-free and the company is committed to supporting small farmers.

The company's website:

Bonus: here's an article on how eating chocolate while pregnant may make for happier babies (happier mommies, at least). Read here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Should the US boycott the Beijing Olympics?

I have the utmost respect for Chinese culture, esp. as that's where Korea gets a lot of its culture, including its Eastern medicine practice.

However, there are a lot of things about modern China that scare me, not least the environmental problems wrought by a rapidly industrializing country driven by economic concerns. But also, I was walking by a Falun Gong protest on campus and in NYC and picked up their literature. I practice chi gong myself (a generic term for exercises that move around your chi, or "spirit") and I can't see what the Falun Gong adherents are doing that's so threatening except that they are devoting themselves wholeheartedly and peacefully to a practice they believe in.

I think it behooves us to look into this issue a little more closely.


On August 3, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, the Ranking Member on the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight, introduced a House Resolution to boycott the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.

He explained, "The Olympics represent the noblest elements of humanity and the Chinese regime represents the opposite. The Olympic torch is supposed to be a beacon of light shining upon mankind's higher aspirations in the world and it's a travesty to have that torch hosted by a regime that is the world's worst human rights abuser."

Because she practiced Falun Gong, Ms. Wei Fengju was tortured to near death in the Heizuizi Forced labor Camp. Unable to recover, she passed away on July 11, 2007.

On March 28, 2007, actress Mia Farrow, a good-will ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund, drew the world's attention to the Beijing Olympics when she and her son Ronan wrote an op-ed article for the Wall Street Journal [1]. In the article, Farrow launched a campaign to label the 2008 Olympics the "Genocide Olympics." Her forthright candor gave voice to the world's awakening shock at Communist China's ever-burgeoning atrocities, its total disregard for human values and its severe human rights violations.

Not only is China bankrolling Darfur's Genocide [2]; for more than eight years it has sought to eliminate Falun Gong, which in 1999 had an estimated 70 million practitioners in China; it has likewise abused democracy activists, lawyers, human rights defenders, religious leaders, journalists, trade unionists, Tibetan Buddhists, Uighurs, ''unofficial'' church members, and political dissidents.

read more here.

Monday, September 17, 2007


(p.s. this is a stock photo)

Let's all send regular reader Ali, who always takes the time to write really good comments, a big congrats, as she had the cutest baby daughter, cute as a new penny.

Ali also did a great job listening to herself and her mommy wisdom, took great care of herself with the food, the acupuncture, etc., and it paid off. Great role model!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The EatWell Guide

MAN FERTILITY found me this site:

"The easiest and most comprehensive way for you to find wholesome, fresh, sustainable food in the US and Canada. Find food in your neighborhood and when you travel that is healthful, humane, better for the environment, and that supports family farmers."

Check it out. Good for your fertility, good for the earth's. Click here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Korean adoption: domestic adoptions going up?

There is a growing movement in Korea to encourage domestic, instead of foreign, adoption. This could be a welcome trend. I still think the best, most important hting to be done is to help birthmothers who WANT to keep their children to give them the cultural and financial supports so they can raise them on their own.

Here's an essay I wrote about my experiences working with Korean birth mothers when researching my novel, Somebody's Daughter.


By Kim Tae-jong
Staff Reporter

About 60 percent of all adoptions were made domestically in the first
half of this year, making it the first time for them to surpass
overseas adoptions.

The Health and Welfare Ministry reported Thursday that 59.2 percent
of adoptions, or 729 of 1,223 children in the January-June period,
were by domestic couples, far higher than the 41percent to 42 percent
average over the past five years.

A ministry spokesman said the ``increase'' is largely attributed to a
new law prioritizing domestic adoption to overseas adoption _ rather
than changing attitudes towards adoption _ as well as tax incentives
and campaigns to encourage domestic adoptions.

But it may take time to assess the full impact of the new law on
adoption patterns, a ministry spokesman said.

Over 2,000 Korean children have been adopted by foreign families
every year, but a fall in these adoptions has contributed to an
overall decrease in total adoptions.

As a result, more children are now housed at childcare centers or
with temporary families awaiting adoption.

The Overseas Korean Foundation estimated a total of 157,145 Korean
children have been adopted by foreign couples over the past 50 years,
the majority being from the U.S., followed by France, Sweden and

In 2005, Korea was rated the fourth biggest source for overseas
adoptions, behind China, Russia and Guatemala _ 2,101 Korean children
were adopted by foreign couples in 2005.

The government has been making efforts to shake off the country's
reputation as a ``baby-exporting'

' nation but any fruitful results
have yet to be observed.

Friday, September 07, 2007

NYT: Some Food Additives Raise Hyperactivity, Study Finds

Of course this study is coming out of the UK...I can't believe the American pediatricians are all worried that not letting kids have food w/toxic chemicals might be bad for their social lives! Geez! Can we get a grip, here? Plus, I love that "many parents have suspected"--no one ever wants to listen to the parents!

NYT: Some Food Additives Raise Hyperactivity, Study Finds

September 6, 2007

Common food additives and colorings can increase hyperactive behavior in a broad range of children, a study being released today found.

It was the first time researchers conclusively and scientifically confirmed a link that had long been suspected by many parents. Numerous support groups for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have for years recommended removing such ingredients from diets, although experts have continued to debate the evidence.

But the new, carefully controlled study shows that some artificial additives increase hyperactivity and decrease attention span in a wide range of children, not just those for whom overactivity has been diagnosed as a learning problem.

The new research, which was financed by Britain’s Food Standards Agency and published online by the British medical journal The Lancet, presents regulators with a number of issues: Should foods containing preservatives and artificial colors carry warning labels? Should some additives be prohibited entirely? Should school cafeterias remove foods with additives?

After all, the researchers note that overactivity makes learning more difficult for children.

“A mix of additives commonly found in children’s foods increases the mean level of hyperactivity,” wrote the researchers, led by Jim Stevenson, a professor of psychology at the University of Southampton. “The finding lends strong support for the case that food additives exacerbate hyperactive behaviors (inattention, impulsivity and overactivity) at least into middle childhood.”

In response to the study, the Food Standards Agency advised parents to monitor their children’s activity and, if they noted a marked change with food containing additives, to adjust their diets accordingly, eliminating artificial colors and preservatives.

But Professor Stevenson said it was premature to go further. “We’ve set up an issue that needs more exploration,” he said in a telephone interview.

In response to the study, some pediatricians cautioned that a diet without artificial colors and preservatives might cause other problems for children.

“Even if it shows some increase in hyperactivity, is it clinically significant and does it impact the child’s life?” said Dr. Thomas Spencer, a specialist in Pediatric Psychopharmacology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Is it powerful enough that you want to ostracize your kid? It is very socially impacting if children can’t eat the things that their friends do.”

Still, Dr. Spencer called the advice of the British food agency “sensible,” noting that some children may be “supersensitive to additives” just as some people are more sensitive to caffeine.

The Lancet study focused on a variety of food colorings and on sodium benzoate, a common preservative. The researchers note that removing this preservative from food could cause problems in itself by increasing spoilage. In the six-week trial, researchers gave a randomly selected group of several hundred 3-year-olds and of 8- and 9-year-olds drinks with additives — colors and sodium benzoate — that mimicked the mix in children’s drinks that are commercially available. The dose of additives consumed was equivalent to that in one or two servings of candy a day, the researchers said. Their diet was otherwise controlled to avoid other sources of the additives.

A control group was given an additive-free placebo drink that looked and tasted the same.

All of the children were evaluated for inattention and hyperactivity by parents, teachers (for school-age children) and through a computer test. Neither the researchers nor the subject knew which drink any of the children had consumed.

The researchers discovered that children in both age groups were significantly more hyperactive and that they had shorter attention spans if they had consumed the drink containing the additives. The study did not try to link specific consumption with specific behaviors. The study’s authors noted that other research suggested that the hyperactivity could increase in as little as an hour after artificial additives were consumed.

The Lancet study could not determine which of the additives caused the poor performances because all the children received a mix. “This was a very complicated study, and it will take an even more complicated study to figure out which components caused the effect,” Professor Stevenson said.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Gov. Health Office Caves to Pressure by Infant Formula Companies

By Marc Kaufman and Christopher Lee

Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, August 31, 2007; Page A01

In an attempt to raise the nation's historically low rate of breast-feeding, federal health officials commissioned an attention-grabbing advertising campaign a few years ago to convince mothers that their babies faced real health risks if they did not breast-feed. It featured striking photos of insulin syringes and asthma inhalers topped with rubber nipples.

Plans to run these blunt ads infuriated the politically powerful infant formula industry, which hired a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former top regulatory official to lobby the Health and Human Services Department. Not long afterward, department political appointees toned down the campaign.

The ads ran instead with more friendly images of dandelions and cherry-topped ice cream scoops...

read more here.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Newsflash! Stress Affects Fertility!

Hm, this should be painfully obvious that from a basic evolutionary point of view, it benefits the organism to not get pregnant in times of stress (famine, war, etc.) and that our chronic-stress environment is probably making people less fertile...not to mention that IVF (takes out the stress-relieving act of making love, for one) is in itself a cause for stress.

I.e., turns the ol' cycle into a vicious cycle.

Still, it's nice to hear an "official" "scientific" person bringing this up (from the New York Times):

A Low-Tech Approach to Fertility: Just Relax

Published: September 4, 2007

Erik S. Lesser for The New York Times

Dr. Sarah L. Berga has devoted her career to one of the most hotly debated subjects in the fertility business: getting pregnant without costly drugs. She is one of a handful of physician-scientists exploring how chronic stress may keep some women from ovulating and how relaxation techniques may help.

More precisely, these researchers are examining how chronic stress alters brain signals to the hypothalamus, the walnut-size organ that serves as the master of ceremonies overseeing the delicately timed hormonal dance. Or as Dr. Berga puts it, she explores “how the hypothalamus talks to the pituitary that in turns talks to the ovary.”

Her research suggests that a cascade of events, beginning with stress, leads to reduced levels of two hormones crucial for ovulation. And her published studies, small but scrupulous, are starting to convince her critics.

In a study of 16 women reported in 2003 in the journal Fertility and Sterility, Dr. Berga showed that ovulation was restored in 7 of 8 women who underwent cognitive behavioral therapy, compared with 2 of 8 who did not get therapy. In 2006, in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, she reported that women who did not ovulate had excessive levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in the brain fluid.

Dr. Berga spoke recently about her research from her office at Emory University.

Q. You’ve studied not only people but also animals. What did those studies tell you about stress?

A. Before we did the 16-woman study, we studied monkeys. We found that when we stressed monkeys alone, 10 percent stopped menstruating temporarily. When we added exercise and limited their food intake, again about 10 percent stopped menstruating temporarily. But when we combined stress, exercise, and cut down on food, 75 percent became amenorrheic.

Q. Then you did a similar study in which two groups of women — one group with normal ovulation, the other group with stress-related amenorrhea — exercised almost to their full potential. What did you find?

A. We saw that if you are stressed when you start exercise, your body reacts differently than if you are not chronically stressed and exercise. Not only does it appear that exercise was more stressful for already stressed women, but certainly exercise did not help them lower their stress hormones, which is of course one reason people take up exercising.

Q. Today, you head a department at a prestigious university, which must help you promote your message. How was your research received initially?

A. With great skepticism. There are definitely more people now who endorse our work but there is certainly a group that doesn’t want to believe it. Chronic stress, whether emotional or physical, taxes the body. We can accept that stress is linked to heart disease, but not to fertility.

Q. Are you saying that a woman who may have had a stressful month at work is hurting her fertility? Isn’t life without stress impossible?

A. We are talking about chronic stress related to behavior or personality. People are designed to endure acute stress. That is a part of life. I am telling women, and men, that it is important to find a balance and learn to cope with their stress.

Q. Some of your work focuses on undereaters and overexercisers. Isn’t it the nutritional state that is hurting the women, not their mental state?

A. Anorexia or excessive exercise can certainly make women stop menstruating. But I believe that many of these women undertake exercise or limit food intake to deal with stress. I believe that treating the underlying stress is more likely to encourage women to relax, eat healthier and exercise healthier rather than just telling women to change their diet and exercise regime.

Q. Do you hope that your research will change the way fertility treatment is administered? How would you want to see it change?

A. Ideally, it would be good for doctors and patients to understand the link between stress and fertility so that they would know when to offer some sort of intervention. For instance, cognitive behavioral therapy is a relatively simple and inexpensive 16-week program that sometimes removes the need for expensive and risky infertility drugs and procedures.

Q. It sounds as if you’re against fertility drugs, which are a necessary component of in vitro fertilization.

A. We do I.V.F. in this department. I like to think we offer the least technology necessary to get the job done. I do think that with a certain population of women — women who may be infertile due to stress — benefit the least from I.V.F. Others absolutely need these drugs and procedures. I also believe that it is imperative that doctors communicate the risks of the drugs and help patients understand when they are and are not necessary.

Q. You have not studied the fetus as much as female hormones, but do you believe that stress hurts the fetus?

A. I do believe stress on the mother may imprint the fetal genome forever. There is some pretty solid animal research, done by other researchers, and some highly suggestive human studies. Other researchers have shown that stress decreases thyroxine levels, which controls energy availability. The mother is the sole source of thyroxine for the fetus during the first trimester of pregnancy and the major source of thyroxine for the second two trimesters. And thyroxine is absolutely vital for appropriate fetal brain development. I think doctors should tell women that if the maternal component is stressed, the fetal component will also be exposed to maternal stress hormones.

Q. In the 1940s, Freudian analysts told infertile women that lurking antimaternal thoughts made them sterile. Feminists later attacked this theory. Do you think of yourself as a continuum of this practice, or do you feel your ideas are completely different?

A. Back then they did not know the mechanisms and they intuited relationships, but they were not all wrong. They were closer to the truth than we’d like to believe. The truth is that if you are not in harmony with yourself and your culture, you are stressed. That is not totally different from Freud.

Q. Do you insist all of your patients have cognitive behavioral therapy before drug therapy?

A. I try to come at it from the perspective of suggestion. I went into women’s health to protect women’s autonomy, so the last thing I would want to do is to make a decision for my patients without their input. At the end of the day, it’s the couple who is trying to get pregnant who bears the most immediate consequences.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Nettles can help fertility

Nettles are a rich source of many trace minerals and they are "famous" for helping fertility of both men and women. When I was at my writers' colony, I got out a lot and harvested fresh nettles and dried them by my woodstove and drink it as a rich tea.

An article from the Idaho Observer says,

Nettles are used to increase fertility in both men and women. Due to its high calcium content, the tea is specific for easing leg cramps and other muscles spasms, and also diminishes pain during and after birth.

It does a lot of other stuff that you can read about here.

Most people need gloves to harvest them, by the way. And only use them before they flower; once they go to seed they are hard on the kidneys. Also, many people consider them to be a weed, so be careful where you get them and make sure they aren't being sprayed with pesticide! You can often also buy nettle seeds and grow your own.

Nettles also helped me get rid of my seasonal allergies. Read here.