Using someone else’s sperm without permission

A few days ago I blogged about the adoption agency that is buying human embryos – I wrote that I think they are on morally shaky ground.  Well, today’s news gives me the same confused and uncomfortable feeling.  This guy’s family took sperm from his dead body, found a volunteer mom and they are having his kid!  They did have to prove in court that he wanted to have kids even though he hadn’t left a will or anything in writing that said that.

I’ve had lots of discussions about sperm, pregnancy and fatherhood over the years because I have several friends that are single moms on purpose.  We used to get into debates about how best to get pregnant without ending up with a dad in the process – just for fun, I used to think.  One of my friends ended up getting a volunteer egg donor and a volunteer sperm donor and going the in vitro route.  The donors are a relative and a friend and although they are not active in the parenting role, she still maintains contact with them.  The other friend only says that she used a "donor." 

So if the donor agreed to help her, I don’t see a problem.  So for argument’s sake, let’s say she found a way to get pregnant without him knowing.  Is that moral?  If he was dead like the guy mentioned above would that make the situation different?  Obviously she wouldn’t be able to tell him but it would still be doing something without his explicit permission. Did you know if a woman gets pregnant, doesn’t tell the guy, has the baby and then years later goes on welfare, the guy will be liable for current and back child support if the state can figure out who he is?  Kind of scary if you’re a guy right?  Does that change your answer to the "is that moral?" question?   I mean, if he has legal and financial responsibility for the child, it seems like he should be informed that the child exists.  In the case of the dead man, will the family be responsible since they are the ones who made the decision to have a baby?

I think once again technology has enabled us to do some amazing things (impregnanting a woman after you are dead!) and has brought along with it some very complicated moral and ethical issues.

Book review: Guns, Germs and Steel

If you like to ask "why" questions, this book is for you.  Jared Diamond answers why some societies succeeded and why some, like the Mayans or Aztecs, didn’t.  I don’t want to give away the book, but here are some examples that he uses:

  • Agricultural societies could store food.  Storing food enabled them to have people who specialized in something besides food gathering, like writing or medicine or fighting.
  • Storing food allowed them to conquer other societies because they could take their food along and so they didn’t need to stop fighting to gather food.
  • Keeping animals brought a lot of diseases.  The people that kept the animals eventually became immune to most of the diseases but they would bring those diseases (like smallpox) to other societies and it would wipe them out.

Jared Diamond also spends time explaining that he doesn’t think industrialized societies are necessarily any better than hunter-gather societies – hunter-gatherers might have actually been healthier, taller, stronger – but he is just explaining why some succeed and others die out.

It’s a very interesting book and worth reading if you like knowing why things happened the way they did.

Travel tip: Why is one itinerary so important?

You should always put your entire trip on one itinerary.  Here are two reasons why along with some real life pain caused by multiple itineraries.

  1. You should put all your flights on one itinerary because if anything goes wrong, the airlines will help you get to your final destination.  If you are on multiple itineraries they will play the blame game and nobody will be responsible for getting you home.   I ran into this last year flying home from the British Virgin Islands.  I booked a Denver-San Juan roundtrip ticket on Continental and a San Juan-Beef Island roundtrip ticket on American Eagle.  I booked them separately to save money.  On the way home my flight on American Eagle was delayed due to weather and I missed my Continental flight.  When I got to San Juan, I ran to the Continental desk but they said "Sorry, you were a no show.  We can get you out on the first flight tomorrow."  Now I was absolutely positive that the airlines had some kind of relationship where they could get me on one of the two American flights left.  It was that conviction that carried me through the next couple of hours.  After talking to Continental, I went to American.  They said they needed a piece of paper from American Eagle.  American Eagle said the delay was due to weather so it wasn’t their fault and they couldn’t help.  When I protested they said they could do something if I got a "ticket" from Continental.  At the Continental desk they printed every paper they could think of for me (they were very nice) but they wouldn’t sell me a paper ticket for $50 because they said they didn’t need it.  Two hours and many swallowed frustrated tears later, I finally got the right piece of paper from Continental, American Eagle took it and printed another piece of paper and American issued boarding passes for me.  Maybe this process would have been a lot less frustrating if the American Eagle folks had been nicer (they were extremely rude) or if they would have talked on the phone to the Continental agent.  I got her number and called her on my cell phone but the American Eagle folks wouldn’t talk to her and kept sending me back and forth.  When I finally got the right Continental "ticket" for American Eagle, the guy said, "Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?"  I was so, so mad, I couldn’t say anything.  I was completely speechless for the first and only time in my life.  I called Frank and told him if they arrested me for murder, that I did it, so hire an attorney!  If both my flights had been on the same itinerary I would have been automatically rebooked on the American flight and I could have spent those two hours reading a book instead of walking around the airport.  Here’s my path:


  2. The second reason you should be all on one itinerary is if you have multiple people traveling, you want to be sure the airline keeps you together.  A few years ago I was in San Francisco for business and I used my frequent flier miles to fly Frank out for the weekend.  As luck would have it, Denver had a big snow storm and the airport closed on Sunday.  I called and United said they could fly me home on Monday since I was a 100K flyer but they couldn’t get Frank home until Wednesday.  I pointed out that we were traveling together.  They said, nope, separate itineraries.  I pointed out that I had used my miles for Frank’s ticket so shouldn’t he get my status?  Nope.  So we ended up spending another three days in San Francisco!  If we’d been on the same itinerary they would have flown us both home on Monday.

So there are two very good reasons for keeping all your travel on one itinerary.  The airlines will make sure you get to your final destination with the people you are traveling with!

Watch who you bid against in eBay!

Last night on my way home I got a text message from eBay saying I hadn’t won the item I bid on.  That was a little strange.  I use eSnipe, so usually if I bid, I win the item. – If the item is still below what I’m willing to pay for it, three seconds before the auction ends eSnipe places a bid for me.  No human can squeeze in a bid after that so if the item is going for a price I think is reasonable, I win it.  So eBay only gets a bid from me when I’m going to win the item.  If the item is out of the range I’m willing to pay, eBay never even knows I was interested in it.  So, if I got an email saying I lost, that meant someone had squeezed in a bid in the last three seconds of the auction!  They had to be using a tool like eSnipe too.  Interesting.

Then I got home and Frank said, "hey, I bought one of those shirts for Jacob!"  I said "for $6.50?"  He said, "yeees … the yellow one?"  We were bidding against each other and I drove his bid up 50 cents!  We had a good laugh about it. 

FogDog Review: I won’t order from them again

I ordered a treadmill from and I won’t be ordering from them again.  I placed the order on 12/28/06, they sent me a confirmation email that same day.  According to the website they gave me to track my order it shipped on 12/29/06.  There were no updates to the website.  So I called on 1/12/07 and they said oh, it was with a shipping company near my house and they gave me their number.  I called the shipping company and they said they would drop it off on Monday.  Frank took the afternoon off on Monday, came home early and waited.  When the treadmill arrived it was damaged!  Well, these things happen, right?  So I called FogDog and they said when the treadmill arrives at the warehouse they will credit my account.  If I still want a treadmill, I need to place another order.  No "I’m sorry" or "we’ll speed up the second order" or anything.  So I said, "no, thank you.  I will not be ordering from you again."  She said, "Thanks.  Good-bye."

So, needless to say, I won’t be ordering from them again.  I got no status update for two weeks and then I got a damaged treadmill, no apology and was told to start the process all over again!

My grandmothers have blogs!

Both of my grandmothers have blogs now!  I’m very proud of them and I’m very proud of my mom for typing in the stories and creating the blogs:

Check them out – they are/were amazing women!

Picking lice

Speaking of unusual careers.   This woman picks lice eggs out of (mostly) children’s hair.  She charges $100/hr and it can take her 2-3 hours of painstakingly detailed work to completely remove the eggs from a head of hair. 

In case you are wondering why you can’t just use one of those shampoos … the shampoos kill the adult lice but the eggs remain on the hair and hatch later.

If you like detailed work, the market is wide open!

Best website for finding cheap airfares

I’m always looking for better sites to find cheap airfares.  I get really frustrated that the airlines can charge not just different fares for different days but different fares for the same seats on the same airplane!  I found this site, ITA Software, yesterday and it’s great!  It even has an option "search within this 30 day timeframe for the cheapest roundtrip ticket assuming I want to stay 6-8 days."  Terrific.  You do need to register but it’s free.

Buying human embryos

This adoption agency is now providing embryos!  They buy eggs from women, get sperm from donors, combine them, make embryos and then provide them to couples as a "service."  So they say they are not selling them.  But since they own them, it sure seems to me like they are selling them.  Whether or not they are selling them, they own them and they are either selling or giving them away.  Selling or giving away potential human beings. 

The owner of the adoption agency says she doesn’t currently have a stockpile of embryos because they are taken (or sold?) as fast as she produces them.  But she could stockpile them because embryos can be frozen indefinitely.

So does this mean I could collect a library of human embryos, advertise them and sell them based on different potential characteristics?  And since they are frozen I don’t have to feed or cloth them while I wait for someone to take them. … I see the beginnings of a science fiction story.

With the number of couples trying to conceive and the number of people wanting to adopt growing constantly, I can see how there could be a huge demand for this type of service.  I can also see how it could be very easily abused.