The Blog

Karma Cromwellian

Those of you who are old enough to have enjoyed the music of the 80s doubtlessly remember Culture Club’s hit Karma Chameleon. I couldn’t resist the pun, and now I cannot resist describing Cromwell’s career trajectory as red, gold, and green. Yes, there is something wrong with my mind.

Red: Although Anne Boleyn had been Cromwell’s benefactress and without her he would have not risen to his current position, he turned on her like a rabid weasel. He and Anne were fighting over the fate of the smaller monasteries. Cromwell, motivated by either the hatred of Catholicism or by the desire to plump up Henry’s treasury, seemed eager to destroy every last monastery and confiscate the riches. Anne, in contrast, wanted the smaller monasteries left intact so that they could produce scholars who could in turn spread the word of God throughout England.  Cromwell knew Anne was a formidable obstacle in the way of his plans, which probably included a chance to fill his own coffers with a share of the expropriated monastic goods. Working under the timeless assumption that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Cromwell joined the Catholic faction in destroying Anne Boleyn.

Cromwell’s men were the ones tasked with finding “evidence” against Anne, and it was Cromwell who made sure no one on Anne’s side with clout got to meet with Henry. Cromwell knew he had little to no proof, so he used open ended accusations against Anne to facilitate her forgone guilty verdict at trial. Moreover, when Anne was beheaded on May 19th Cromwell made sure there was as small an audience as possible because Anne’s jailer had warned Cromwell that the queen was likely to “declare herself to be a good woman”. This same jailer told Cromwell he had witnessed Anne’s last sacrament and had heard her swear “as touching her innocency always to be clear”.

Cromwell knew he was murdering an innocent woman for his own gain.

Gold: With Anne out of the way, Cromwell was both golden with the King and raking in monastic gold from the dissolution. For the next four years Cromwell’s influence with the king made him the most powerful man in Henry’s government.

Green: Let’s say this phase of Cromwell’s life was green because this is when he reaped what he had sown. He had shown Henry the ease of legalized murder, and the king became fond of that solution. Unhappy with his marriage to Anna of Cleaves, the king had Cromwell arrested on June 10, 1540 and beheaded on July 28th of the same year. Unlike Anne, he didn’t even get the dignity of a kangaroo court. His head was embedded on a spike and displayed on London Bridge, which could also be described as going “green” if one was an uncouth individual (which I am).  

Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn’s cousin, Kathryn Howard, the same day he executed Cromwell. Unlike Cromwell, I feel sorry for Kathryn’s fate.

Blossom is Blossoming

As I have mentioned before, my eldest daughter, Blossom, has Asperger’s syndrome. In her book Does My Child Have Autism?, doctor Wendy L. Stone explains that:

There is no debate or doubt: early intervention is your child’s best hope for the future. Early attention to improving the core behavioral symptoms of autism will give your child – and the rest of the family – several important benefits that you will not gain if you take a wait-and-see approach until your child enters school at age four or five. A good early intervention program has at least four benefits: It will provide your child with instruction that will build on his or her strengths to teach new skills, improve behaviors, and remediate areas of weakness. It will provide you with information that will help you better understand your child’s behavior and needs. It will offer resources, support, and training that will enable you to work and play with your child more effectively. It will improve the outcome for your child. For these reasons, an intervention program for your child should be implemented as soon as possible after he or she receives a diagnosis. However … intervention programs that are generic – rather than autism specialized – are less likely to be effective for your child. That’s why as you begin your exploration of early intervention, you must keep in mind that not all interventions are equal.”

We got Blossom early intervention and I cannot begin to describe how much it has helped. She can easily pass for a nerdy Muggle. She has friends. She is able to make new friends because she is able to tell them, with no shame and no hesitation, what she doesn’t understand (any child worth being friends with cuts an Aspy kid some slack once they know there is a problem). I am so happy that Blossom is doing so well.

I’m an Aspy also, but they knew diddly-squat about when I was a kid. In fact, the whole understanding of Asperger’s/Autism has improved so much in the last decade that it is nearly mind-blowing. With understand, comes more diagnosis. More diagnosis is good, considering what a nightmare that a lack of an autism diagnosis can be for autistic kids and families.

Occasionally the news will break out into hysteria that there is a new “autism epidemic” because of the rise in autism diagnosis, but that is just more hyperbolic bad reporting. More kids are getting diagnosed because now professionals are significantly more aware of the myriad symptoms of autism and how to put the clues together to solve the puzzle. There wasn’t even a decent set of diagnostic criteria for the condition until 1987, and the realization that the problem was really an autism spectrum disorder with a huge range of severity didn’t really kick in until after 1995. It’s like dinosaurs. People were digging up fossils for millennia but it wasn’t until 1841 that Richard Owen put the clues together and came up with the concept of dinosaurs. The “rise” in dinosaur discoveries since then doesn’t mean that there is an epidemic of dinosaur fossils – we can just recognize them now and know what to look for.

The concept of “early intervention” was not part of the lexicon until recently, either. Thanks to a very, VERY astute per-school teacher we got Blossom tested (and thus diagnosed) when she was four years old. In a “perfect storm” of luck, we live in a town with a specialist in Asperger’s/autism presentation in girls and women, which is insanely underdiagnosed – much to the determent of hundreds of thousands of little girls. It was only because of this lucky access to a specialist that we were able to get Blossom in treatment so young. Other parents have had to struggle a lot harder to find the answers, and the older a kid is when he/she is diagnosed the more likely it is that he or she has suffered in school and with peers.

That is why, as a feminist and a mother, it drives me batcrap crazy that so many little girls are labeled “quirky” or “difficult” when what they are is “autistic”. Kids on the spectrum and their families have enough issues on their plate without having to deal with gender-bias as well.

I am grateful beyond expression that Blossom got diagnosis and help early and is now thriving. I want the same “luck” for every child. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen until more doctors and teachers are trained to spot autism across it’s varied spectrum, especially when it manifests in little girls.

Henry Fitzroy’s Early Death


Henry Fitzroy, the king’s only living son at the time, died on July 22, 1536 from what has been commonly reported to have been tuberculosis. There’s some doubt about that diagnosis, though. There had been no sign that Fitzroy had been ill in the spring, which doesn’t fit the long, drawn-out death suffered by those with tuberculosis. It is more likely to have been a relatively quick decline, meaning a much more rapid ailment.

Claire Ridgway, over at the Anne Boleyn Files, did an excellent sum up of Fitzroy’s life, including records of his appearance: “John Joachim, Seigneur de Vaux and the French Ambassador, wrote of Richmond as ” a most handsome, urbane and learned young gentleman, very dear to the King on account of his figure, discretion and good manners… he is certainly a wonderful lad for his age” and in 1531, the Venetian Ambassador said: “so much does he resemble his father.”

When he received news of his son’s passing, the King ordered the Duke of Norfolk to bury the teenager in secret; the succession was in grave doubt and (although illegitimate) Fitzroy had been a possible heir. The King may have wished to keep Fitzroy’s death a secret until Henry had impregnated his new queen, Jane Seymour. Maybe he was worried people would panic if there wasn’t at least one male heir. Whatever the King’s motives, Norfolk tired to follow Henry’s directions.

Fitzroy’s body was covered in straw and transported on a wagon, followed by only two mourners. He was then interred surreptitiously at Thetford Priory. When the King heard the details about the small funeral he flew into a rage. In one of the lightening fast shifts of mood that can occur for sufferers of McLeod syndrome, Henry forgot the fact he had ordered a furtive burial and was furious that his son had not been given a more lavish service.

He threatened to imprison Norfolk in the Tower, much to the dumbfounded Duke’s fear and consternation. Norfolk first wrote his will, because Henry’s anger was not conducive to longevity, and then he wrote to Cromwell to insist that he was not a traitor. Fortunately for Norfolk, the King’s vexation waned, and the Duke was spared.

Norfolk was also Fitzroy’s father-in-law. The young widow, Mary Howard, never remarried. This wasn’t from sentiment. The power politics at court never lined up another suitable mate at a suitable time.

Henry Fitzroy was only 17 years old at the time of his death. His as-yet-unborn brother Edward would die when he was 15 years old.  His uncle, Prince Arthur Tudor, died when only 16 years old. People have speculated that there was a genetic condition that caused these deaths, but no one had figured out what it is.

Any ideas?


My daughter Bubbles has three “fiancées”; AKA the boys who like her and have asked her to marry them because just being boyfriend/girlfriend is passé obviously. This last week one of those affianced fellows, whom we shall call Sheldon, and his mommy were both with all of us at my parent’s house.

Sheldon has Asperger’s syndrome, albeit a little more “severely” than Bubbles has it.  Needless to say, they understand each other and get along really well … most of the time. However, are the car ride back from my parents house – normally a 4.75 hour trip which turned into a 10 hour trip because of parking-lot traffic jams – there was a tiff.

They were sitting together in the farthest back seat of my minivan and all was going well until Bubbles lost Sheldon’s place in the book he was reading. She picked up the book and the book mark was no more. Not a big deal, right? Wrong. For an Aspy ANY disruption in The Plan causes angst and rage.

Sheldon, already at the end of his rope, reacted like an overwrought Aspy. He yelled at Bubbles and thwacked her in the arm (not hard) with the book. His mother promptly began to scold him on the inappropriateness of this action as a way to deal with stress. Bubbles, understandably indignant that she had been thwacked and yelled at, hollered “I want a divorce!” and laid her head down in her arms to sob Cinderella-style.


Her declaration of divorce intentions broke Sheldon’s heart and he burst into tears. I mean “burst” literally. Tears the size of dimes spurted from his eyes and splashed on his chest he was crying so hard.

calvin crying

It took us a while to calm things down, but after suitable apologies were tendered there was reconciliation between the pint-sized love birds. Nevertheless, the drama was VERY dramatic while it lasted.

Life with an Aspy child is seldom dull. Or copacetic. Or restful.

It’s worth it, though.

Bye-Bye “Bishop of Rome”

On this day in history during 1536 the Parliament of England “passed An Act Extinguishing the Authority of the Bishop of Rome. This Act was wordily insulting to the pope, but contained within it the power to punish anybody defending his authority in Britain. It was a step that for Henry’s reign at least ended all possibility of reconciliation with Rome.”

Now Henry VIII was not only saying he was head of the Church of England, he was saying anyone wanting to still embrace papal authority and Catholicism would be in deep poo. Quite a change of opinion in the monarch who was the erstwhile defender of the faith in 1521, no? Henry had changed quite a bit in the intervening fifteen years. For one thing he had recently beheaded his wife Anne Boleyn, the woman he was fighting the Papacy about in the first place.

As far back as 1528 Henry’s chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey tried desperately to warn the Pope that if he did not grant Henry his divorce, then the King would reject Rome’s authority. The Pope apparently thought that the Cardinal was bluffing because Wolsey just worried about his place in Henry’s court. The Defender of the Faith wouldn’t really turn apostate! The idea was ridiculous! In hindsight, the Pope should have listened to Wolsey’s advice. Wolsey’s greater knowledge of Henry’s nature had forewarned him that the King was not a man who would submit himself to any authority that was not directing him to do exactly what he had wanted to do in the first place. Sure enough, when push came to shove – Henry VIII shoved.

Excited for Daddy :)

My Dad had Type II diabetes and high blood pressure. I didn’t like it. He didn’t like it. He also disliked the way his high blood pressure meds made him feel. (They made him feel “like crap”.)

Having heard/read many good things about Plexus vis-a-vis Type II diabetes and high blood pressure I got my Dad to start taking it. Dad stopped talking his high blood pressure meds (he’s a doctor, so it was with medical supervision).

Two months later, his blood sugar is under control and his blood pressure was 121/74 yesterday FOR THE WIN.

This makes me all the kinds of happy!!!

Seriously, I love Plexus. I wish they would change the name to Plexus Health or something less annoying than Plexus Slim, but I love the product.

Day 2 of the Nine Days Queen

Lady Jane Grey Dudley ruled England from July 10 – July 19, 1553. One of the best biographies of her life and reign that I have ever read, Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery, was by the incomparable Eric Ives and I strongly, strongly recommend it.

Queen Jane was named as the heir to the throne by her cousin, Edward VI, in his will. Edward had been crowned king as a child, and was the lawful ruler of England. His will was the only will that mattered. The wills of past kings, including Henry VIII, were defunct after Edward became the monarch.

Therefore, Queen Jane was the lawful and right queen of England.

Nevertheless, the pro-Catholic faction sprang into action to put Mary Tudor on the throne based on the will of Edward’s father, Henry VIII. Jane was a hard-core protestant, and I don’t blame the Catholics from being worried that they would be subject to persecution for their faith. However, I do blame them for the fact that they wanted power in order to persecute protestants for THEIR faith.

With an army to back her, Mary Tudor usurped the throne of the rightful queen. Both Jane and her husband Guildford Dudley were imprisoned for the crime of being named heir in a legitimate, legally binding will. If Queen Mary I had stuck to that, it would have been wrong but not awful. Power plays happen. It was life in the 16th century. I can even see why she executed John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, since she blamed him for her brother’s decision to declare her illegitimate. 

Mary kept Jane and Guilford apart in the Tower. I suspect she was afraid Jane would get pregnant with a rival heir to Mary’s heirs, the children Mary was sure that she would have. Okay, fair enough. However, Mary would need to go further to secure her throne.

Mary’s protestant subjects were unhappy with her coup. They were driven to revolt by the information that Mary would wed Prince Phillip of Spain. Even her Catholic supporters disliked the fact she would be marrying a foreign noble and perhaps subject England to foreigner’s rule.

That’s when, to me, Mary earned her sobriquet of “Bloody”. She not only executed 100 of the the actual rebels (pardoning 400 others, which was very good PR and a decent thing to do), she decided to execute Jane and Guilford Dudley because they might be the focal point of other plotters in the future. They didn’t have anything to do with the rebellion, mind you. It’s just that they were alternatives to Mary and she felt more secure with them dead. There was also one other motive”: Phillip of Spain said he wouldn’t come to England to tie the knot with Mary until she had disposed of her rivals.

On February 12, 1554 the Lady Jane Grey, rightful queen of England, and her husband Guilford were murdered under the orders of the usurper Mary I.

Jane was at most 17 years old. Her husband was  approximately 19 years old.

Bloody Mary would reign for less than six years before she died in November of 1558.  She had almost three hundred protestants burned at the stake during her rule.

The Great Flanders Mare

On this day in history Henry VIII annulled his marriage to Anna of Cleves, a woman who is often remembered for the horrible nickname he gave her – The Great Flanders Mare. Henry’s side of the story was that she wasn’t pretty enough, but the reality is she just busted his ego up something fierce. As I said in the book:

“Although his bride-to-be was considered by all who met her, with few exceptions, to be an attractive woman, Anna was ill equipped to enthrall the King. Her upbringing had been very strict, and as a result she did not have any abilities that would keep Henry entertained.  Henry adored music, singing, dancing, hunting, and playing card games. Anna was proficient in none of these things. She was unfamiliar with the rules of courtly love so she did not know the proper behavior expected of a lady by her noble lover …

Anna was standing at her window, watching the bull-baiting on New Year’s Day with ostensible enjoyment, when something happened that altered the whole course of her life. A group of six men, ‘disguised’ in matching cloaks and hoods made of multi-colored patches, burst into the room, much to the consternation of Anna and her ladies. One of the men grabbed Anna and kissed her, claiming that he and his fellows had come on behalf of the King, and gave her a token of the King’s affection. Anna was “abashed, not knowing who it was, thanked him, and so he communed with her; but she regarded him but little but always looked out of the window on the bull-baiting” (Warnicke, 2000:130-131).  Unfortunately for Anna, this odd-acting messenger in whom she clearly had no interest was her prospective bridegroom, Henry VIII.

Henry had tried to make a romantic gesture and it had gone badly awry … What if in an unguarded moment she had revealed, through some quick expression on her face, that she was appalled by the idea of marrying the hulking and foul-smelling man announcing himself as the King? … once Henry had met Anna of Cleves he decided she was a “Great Flanders Mare” and he wanted nothing more to do with her.”

In sum, Henry thought he was still young and handsome and when he met Anna her reaction showed him the truth; without a crown he wasn’t hot any more. So what is the best way to call sour grapes? To tell the world she is ugly and you don’t want her.  Moreover, since women’s value has often been correlated with their physical appeal, to tell her she was unattractive was to tell her she was worthless.

I’d like to say that kind of behavior has stopped, but nope. Recently a 14 year old girl named Carleigh O’Connell discovered that some “witty” person had made a very ugly comment in graffiti about her body, specifically about the size of her butt. So she responded in a manner that I personally would describe as epic: “She snapped a photo while posing proudly with the graffiti.”

take THAT body-shamers

Good for her. I wish Anna of Cleves could have done the same. As it is, here is Holbein’s portrait of her, which is as close to a photo as they could get:

Anna of Cleves

You go girl.

Did Henry Drive Anne Boleyn Crazy?

I was recently reading some fascinating new information about the brain. Recently, a group of  “University of California, Berkeley, researchers have shown that chronic stress generates long-term changes in the brain that may explain why people suffering chronic stress are prone to mental problems such as anxiety and mood disorders later in life … conditions such as schizophrenia, autism, depression, suicide, ADHD and PTSD”.

My first thoughts when I read it were, egocentrically, about myself.  I am overweight and have some of the “cluster” issues (like PTSD and anxiety) that come as a side dish with the entrée of Asperger’s. Both weight and the “cluster” issues  are strongly effected by cortisol, a hormone released when you feel stress. Having Asperger’s is REALLY stressful. Could Asperger’s syndrome be giving me belly fat and anxiety on top of a general air of dorkiness?

Then I thought (because I have Asperger’s our train of thought is a UFO) that things must have been REALLY stressful if you were Anne Boleyn. Think about it. From the moment Henry VIII decided she would honored with his intentions, Anne was either in hiding, dealing with a no-way-out decision to marry her stalker, responsible for charming her stalker while also appeasing relatives (The Duke of Norfolk leaps to mind) and court members who were wretched and ill-mannered to her, hearing herself called a “goggle-eyed whore” by the populace who loved Katherina of Aragon, and being the target of hatred from Katherina’s faction at court. Oh, and she was constantly on display and every word out of her mouth was subject to a conspiracy of misrepresentation and misinterpretation.

That seems hella stressful to me.

I know she remained ever-slim, but some people remain slim even when eating 5,000 calories a day so that doesn’t mean there was no cortisol pumping into her system. What if the stress hormones were bathing her brain in a chemical stew of fight-or-flight most of the time for years?

How would that effect her personality?

I don’t find any reports of her being “high-strung” or “temperamental” or “willful” or anything like that before she was targeted by Henry. It is only after she took a Soviet vote and discovered she had “won” the right to be his next lady love that she is recorded as being anything other than charming. Both Queen Claude of France and Margaret of Austria thought Anne was the bee’s knees. She had the lads at court hanging on her every word, but there is no evidence she wasn’t also popular with her fellow ladies-in-waiting. Henry Percy, the future Earl of Northumberland, fell head over heels for her. The poet Thomas Wyatt immortalized her in verse. Where was her “foul temper” then?

Anne only started throwing fits and falling in them while she was trapped as a shadow queen waiting for the finalization of Henry’s divorce. She only became “shrewish” when she had been pushed to the limits, if not of human endurance, than at least to the limits of acceptable feminine docility. She even tried, from all appearances, to end things with him. Henry is recorded having  pleaded with her not to talk of leaving him and in January of 1531 she had such a big fight with the King that Henry VIII went begging to her relatives to help him gain a reconciliation.

She must have been juggling torches in a room full of TNT the entire time she was with Henry.

No wonder when she was told the date of her execution, “she was more joyful than before”.

Facts About Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby

As you all have doubtless heard, the SCOTUS recently found in favor of Hobby Lobby in Sebelius v/s Hobby Lobby. In a nutshell, Hobby Lobby can now offer health insurances that does not cover women’s contraceptives.

Some people think this is about abortion.  Hobby Lobby founder and CEO David Green wrote in an open letter in 2013 smugly declaring that, “Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions, which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill … We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs.”

Regardless of his personal beliefs, that is not a factual statement.

Emergency contraception, the morning-after-pill or the week-after poll are NOT things that cause abortions. They MAY sometimes prevent the implantation of the fertilized egg into the uterine wall, but so can birth control pills.  If the fertilized egg does not implant, the woman has not conceived because “according to both the scientific community and long-standing federal policy, a woman is considered pregnant only when a fertilized egg has implanted in the wall of her uterus”.  Considering that 2/3 of human embryos fail to develop, nature itself causes abortions by David Green’s standards.

Additionally, if David Green feels preventing implantation is abortion (which it is not; abortion is the expulsion of an embryo or fetus), then that means that women who have used the birth control pill would be every bit as “guilty” of “taking drugs that might cause abortions” as a woman who has taken Plan B. More than 27% of all fertile women in the US are currently using the pill, and 80% have used the pill in an attempt to prevent pregnancy. Considering that more than 3/4 of the American population identify as Christians, I suspect there are many Christian women who have taken birth control pills.

That is not the only lack of factual information I have found regarding public perceptions of this case. Here is a quick fact sheet of the most common misconceptions:

Hobby Lobby facts

The real issue here is that “A provision in the Affordable Care Act requires corporations to offer insurance plans that meet minimum coverage standards if those corporations take advantage of tax benefits for compensating employees in health insurance, rather than wages. But the owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Store, a Pennsylvania wood manufacturer, challenged this provision, arguing that it violated their religious freedom.”

Hobby Lobby could have chosen to deny all employees health insurance and allowed them to get private insurance via Obamacare, or Hobby Lobby could have said no to the tax break and continued covering whatever it wished. However, Hobby Lobby wanted the tax break for offering health insurance while NOT following the rules of the tax break.

It is that simple.

I have to wonder — If this had been an Islamic-owned company demanding the same thing, would some Americans be as supportive as they are for Hobby lobby?

However, as a Christian it is the hypocrisy of Hobby Lobby’s founders that bothers me the most. 

  • David Green, the CEO of Hobby Lobby, has only three children; did his wife ever take birth control pills or other methods, such as the IUD, that may have prevented implantation? He has not disclosed this information about his own private life, while seeking to control the private lives of others.
  • Moreover, David Green is worth $5.1 BILLION. In Matthew 19:24 Jesus warned that “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” In Matthew 19:21 Jesus instructed a rich man that “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Clearly David Green, like most people of any religion, is more stringent about following some aspects of his faith than others.
  • Christianity and preventing abortions are, in spite of rhetoric to the contrary, separate things. Jesus says nothing about abortions in the New Testament, even though they were commonly practiced by Romans and Hebrews during his lifetime. Furthermore, in Exodus 21:22-24 the Bible indicates that a miscarried fetus is not considered to be equivalent to a person, since causing a miscarriage does not engenders a fine rather than the death penalty. Abortion is a theologically complex topic. Christians are found in both the Pro Choice and Anti Choice camps for that reason.
  • Hobby Lobby gets the products it sells from China, because imported goods are less expensive. China not only supports abortions, it forces women to have one upon occasion. Wouldn’t that conflict with David Green’s stance that to “end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs.”
  • Hobby Lobby appears to lose its sincerely held beliefs when there is money to be made. As reported in Forbes, “Mother Jones has uncovered numerous investments on the part of Hobby Lobby’s retirement fund in a wide variety of companies producing abortion and contraception related products.”

The hypocrisy is manifest.

While Jesus did not mention abortion he repeatedly castigated hypocrisy. Entire chapters of the New Testament, such as Matthew 23, are devoted to decrying hypocrisy. That’s something that David Green should consider carefully.