Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Back when the little one was tiny

Found this old photo of L today. I forgot what a chubby baby she was.

Tomorrow is my birthday. We're taking a five-day weekend. I've always loved being born around Labor Day.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


1 year since Katrina
I can't bear to listen to the news.

Monday, August 28, 2006

heads up

1 month and 23 months respectively

Sunday, August 27, 2006

when journalists are the news

Fox's Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig were released Sunday. Thankfully they were in good health despite the agony of the past few days.

Wiig said in an interview: "My biggest concern really is that as a result of what happened to us foreign journalists will be discouraged from coming to tell the story and that would be a great tragedy for the people of Palestine," Wiig said. "You guys need us on the streets, and you need people to be aware of the story."

Can't say I would blame other journalists for being scared off.

In Africa, another foreign correspondent was held captive, though by a government rather than a splinter group. A Sudanese court charged Pulitzer-Prize winner Paul Salopek with espionage and writing 'false news.' His driver and interpreter faced the same charges--though I wonder how the driver is culpable for publishing false information. Given that they were covering the Darfur crisis for National Geographic, the government of Sudan should understandably be concerned. If only they were as concerned about stopping the violence and corruption within their own country, perhaps they would be less paranoid about international reporters.

Most everyone would agree that reporters undoubtedly shape the stories they tell. Even the best documentary filmmaker or the most rookie local beat reporter influences the outcome of events that are covered. It's the nature of news. Still, journalists are not supposed to be the subjects of front page stories. At least we live in a society that calls international attention to reporters being threatened by political groups.

I wonder how old this phenomenon is and how it has influenced history.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I love Oprah

Her altruism is astounding, but I'm even more impressed by her integrity.

I watched her interview with Dave Chappelle, saw how she asked tough questions while still making him look good. And when he started talking about money and all the people he wanted to give it to, she cut him off, cautioning that he should be careful making too many generous promises on national tv that he may not be able to keep.

I can't even fathom how cool it would be to teach at her school.

Friday, August 25, 2006

refusing to negotiate

The kidnapping of Fox journalists has me incensed. Dangling someone else's life as though it were a bargaining chip seems to be the violent act of choice in the Gaza strip as well as Iraq.

I don't envy those who work in the State Department. The official policy "We don't negotiate with terrorists" makes sense to me. Negotiate once and you set a precedent, effectively encouraging further kidnappings. That said, it's a tough decision to live with. One of the worst effects of kidnappings is that the kidnapper makes the victim's family feel culpable if they don't comply with demands and the victim is harmed.

All this happens as Jill Carroll's story unfolds piece by piece. How exactly did she manage to survive? Can anyone honestly claim that there was no negotiation?

It's an interesting moral dilemma and a very sad pattern.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Bioethics and women's health*

Lots of exciting developments in research and public policy:

  • Stem cell research may be possible without harming embryos. An article in Nature and reports on NPR explain the new procedure that may quelch concerns by adamant pro-lifers.

  • Continuous birth control pills are viable options. This was casually encouraged by my doctors when I was in college, but it's nice to know that subsequent research shows no ill effects and repackaging of pills has been approved by the FDA.

  • A vaccine for several types of HPV, a virus linked to cervical cancer, may soon be available for young girls. The cancer may not quite go the way of polio, but it's an encouraging start.

  • Today's headliner: Plan B pills are now available over-the-counter, or at least behind-the-counter. Though it's nicknamed "the morning after pill," this is fundamentally different from RU-486: it prevents pregnancy by preventing ovulation, not by destroying a fertilized egg.

    It's an exciting time in medical history. I'm the exact age of Louise Brown, the first "test-tube baby." So much has happened since the days of Margaret Sanger and eugenics. I hope that the field of bioethics can keep pace with the next twenty-some years of medical research.

    *Not just for women.

  • Wednesday, August 23, 2006

    on loan

    When we dropped off her library books this morning, L cried.

    Random photo from the zoo and my daily life as a stay-at-home mom.*

    *Photo by grandma, who was kind enough to cover me up while John nursed.

    Monday, August 21, 2006

    striking teachers

    As in "armed with pipes, wood planks and clubs." This story about teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico brings new meaning to the phrase.

    I may complain about violence at school, but this is unheard of.

    Saturday, August 19, 2006

    opportunity knocks

    I joined a Mom's club in our area. A woman who hosted a playgroup pool party* turned out to be a local high school English teacher. She said the high school, which starts on Monday, is desperate to find another credentialed English teacher. It's my dream job: close to home, high school, and without the extreme poverty (and violence) of my current district.

    So now the question is what am I willing to give up? I could break my contract and still live with myself as long as it doesn't jeopardize my future career. I wouldn't mind walking in after school has already started and playing catchup with the students. But I'm reluctant to leave my one-month baby quite so soon. I'm hoping they interview me, and hire me to start at the end of October.

    But first they have to call me back.

    *L had a blast splashing around in the pool. Too bad she doesn't get the chance very often.

    Thursday, August 17, 2006

    happy endings

    I'm spending most of my free time with this man, 1-2 paragraphs at a time when I can snag a moment away from Huggies and Elmo ("melmo" says L). So far, I'm getting into The Scar. He's a lush writer and a pretty good one at that. This despite the fact that he loathes happy endings.

    Someone sent me flowers on Tuesday. The florist called to make sure I'd be home, so I called my husband afterward and said "Who could've sent us flowers?" His reply: "Gee, I have no idea. Who would do such a thing?" I'm so gullible, I couldn't tell if he was being coy or really didn't know. Then I saw them. Wow, life is good.

    The cease-fire is still holding. No planes were bombed. And the UK has this great principle of needing to weekly justify the detention of suspected terrorists for a limit of 28 days rather than holding them indefinitely on foreign soil (novel idea, yes?).

    Brace yourself, I feel a happy ending coming on.

    Friday, August 11, 2006

    Measuring Up

    This was the work of grandma. It turned out far better than I imagined. Now we just have to wait for the little ones to grow!

    Wednesday, August 09, 2006

    out of town

    My other half is gone for a conference all week. I miss him terribly.

    It's the two little ones, me, and my mother trying to hold down the fort. Though it's very nice to have her company, I can't wait for things to get back to normal.

    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    Chinese room thought experiment

    I'm sitting on the floor of our tiny downstairs bathroom, trying to change John's diaper, when a small slip of paper slides underneath the door. It's a 3"x3" piece of paper with purple crayon scribblings. I look at the paper, turn it over, fold it in half, and slide it back. There's a slight delay that allows me to finish clothing the baby.

    Again, a piece of paper appears under the door. This one has red scribbles. I ask a question, but no one replies. I slide it back unchanged and hear a giggle on the other side of the door.

    And people say that thought experiments have no application in real life.

    Though it felt very much like I was trapped inside John Searle's Chinese room, I don't want to push the analogy. I don't have any set of instructions for responding to toddler scribbles. That, and I'd rather feign understanding of my daughter.

    In the stage of incoherent babble and gestures, pretending to know what she means is infinitely more rewarding and amusing.

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    save Harry

    My amusement of the day.