February 23, 2008


I still haven't quite got used to the way that old blog posts are not thrown away. The story can be picked up again by anyone who shares your interest. Back in 2002 I wrote a post called The Gift of Life about a girl conceived in order to give a life-saving transplant to her older sister. I defended the practice, and mentioned some pictures I found when googling the girl's name. I had forgotten all this. Now (er, not exactly now, see below) Andy Behrens writes:
The Marissa Ayala who drew the pictures that you refer to in your posting The gift of life is not the one who donated bone marrow to her sister.

The young artist is (or was at the time) a middle-school student at the Enric Grau Fontseré primary school in Flix, Spain. It looks like these drawings were done as an assignment for her English class. At any rate, Ayala is a fairly common Spanish surname, and it's not surprising that there's more than one Marissa out there.

Marissa Eve seems to have grown up to be a happy and normal teenager, and the two sisters remain close.

Andy Behrens
Strafford, Vermont

There is a second timeslip to this story. Mr Behrens' email was written on the 11th February.
Posted by Natalie at 06:35 PM


"Superficially, the stance is wryly apologetic, but the substance is a non-apology: sorry for being so clever, I should have realized that I needed to say it in words of one syllable for the benefit of those dreadful oiks in the media."

-Mr Grumpy, paraphrasing the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Another one likely to send me to the Yellow Pages to look up an affordable contract assassin is "I'm sorry you were upset." It glides past the questions of whether "I'm sorry" means "I am saddened by" or "I apologise for", and whether your upset was reasonable or hysterical.
Posted by Natalie at 06:15 PM


to this Cuban government site.

Click "Estructura del estado Cubano".
Click "La Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular".
Click "VI Legislatura".

It says,


Hombres: 390 64,04%

Mujeres: 219 35,96%

Edad Promedio: 47 años
de 18 a 40 años: 185
de 41 a 60 años: 359
de más de 60: 65

Graduados de Educación Superior: 493
Graduados de Educación Media Superior: 110

Blancos: 67,16 %
Mestizos: 11%
Negros: 21,84%

Half a century of socialism and yet whites are still overrepresented in the corridors del poder popular?

Clearly, the involuntary option has failed.
Posted by Natalie at 06:00 PM

February 20, 2008

When the history of Fidel Castro's rule in Cuba

comes to be written all that stuff about the excellence of the healthcare system will turn out to be lies but the claim of high literacy rates will be more or less true.

Communist education gets results because force is near to the surface. I acknowledge but do not approve. See previous post here (scroll down to "Two education stories from Poland"), quoting Brian Micklethwait, or you can get more recent Micklethwait here. A further advantage of communist education is that the wishes of the teachers are given almost as short a shrift as those of the pupils.

Force works well in education because the forcers can look at the forcees all the time they are doing the forcing. It works less well in healthcare and very badly indeed in agriculture.

Posted by Natalie at 11:28 PM