Thursday, June 30, 2005

A good start - but what about funding WHO?

Bush unveils funding for women in Africa. ""I ask Congress to provide 55 millions dollars over three years to promote women justice and empowerment in four African nations, nations that can stand as examples of reform for others. I ask other G8 nations to join us in protecting the lives and the rights of women in Africa," Bush said."

It's something, but the #1 thing he could do to empower African women - taking charge of their own reproduction via birth control and condoms? The crickets are deafening....

**UPDATE: Maybe not such a good start after all. Maybe more of a poor attempt to give back some of what was already cut, per Body & Soul.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Sometimes it sucks to be right

The AMA is now saying "conscientious objection by pharmacists is a major public health problem in many areas of the country" because some pharmacists are not stopping with just refusing to provide birth control or emergency contraception. Refusals have now begun to spread to medications for mental conditions and pain medicines. And doctors are asking for legislation to allow them to dispense meds in those cases.

Back in October I wonderred when they would begin to target HIV/AIDS drugs. So far it doesn't look like they've gone quite that far though I'm really curious to see under what specific situations they're refusing psychological and pain meds. But it's good to see the AMA and other professional physicians groups finally taking a tough stand on this issue.

What I'm really disappointed to see are national professional pharmacists groups *not* stepping up to self-regulate this new phenomenon. Doctors take the hypocratic oath. Are pharmacists not bound by a similar uniform code of ethics? A quick google found this Code of Ethics for Pharmacists, adopted by the American Pharmacists Association wherein it very specifically says:
"a pharmacist considers needs stated by the patient as well as those defined by health science". Nowhere does it say they should consider needs stated by their own personal religious beliefs. To the contract, the ethical code goes on to say "In all cases, a pharmacist respects personal and cultural differences among patients."

I don't get it - does APhA just not have any self-regulating authority or do they just not choose to exercise it?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Save Big Bird!

In case you're not aware, has been classified by the wingnuts as an "extreme" organization, I've even heard them classified as terrorists by some (sorry, can't recall exactly where). Yeah... gotta keep an eye on those whackos who are determined to kill democracy by saving Big Bird.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Me & Mr. Bill

I have a love-hate relationship with Bill Gates. Love him for all the charitable work his foundation funds (in the news today: Gates Foundation gives WHO $7 Million for cervical cancer vaccines; in the past they've given millions to global AIDS/HIV prevention/ condom use promotion ; disease prevention (i.e. malaria) and other vaccination efforts and are one of the biggest supporters of Int'l Planned Parenthood, among many other initiatives).

And it is my expertise in some of said Microsoft software that keeps the RiverClan in shoes and internet access and allows me to send a few $$ to progressive causes of my own every now and then.

But you can't really help but hate him for Microsoft's monopolistic stranglehold on the software industry, and questionnable business tactics. Many question his charity work (especially that which promotes technical literacy) as self serving. His AIDS work in India, for example an attempt to not only ensure a continued market for his software but also to garner cheap labor.

And I really take his name in vain everytime they release a new "improved" version of said software (bugs & all) that didn't really need improving, to replace software they'd finally got most of the bugs worked out of, just as you'd developed a nice, stable, copacetic working environment with it and the rest of your software. Yes, I do think it's being forced to upgrade every 2 years and incurring not only significant financial cost but added frustration/stress leels that irks me the most. But again, as much as I hate that headache, it, too provides a great deal of my job security. So I probably shouldn't complain.

So perhaps you'll understand why I hesitate to jump on board the opensource/ Linux/ "Microsoft is the antichrist movement". It's so easy to villify Bill Gates. But really - at a time when you can't count on your own government to do the right thing with your hard earned money, doesn't it make sense to spend it in a manner that has some chance of actually accomplishing that?

In the last 5 years Bush has withheld $100+ Million to the U.N. Population fund in a blatant attempt to court the votes of ultra conservative voters, using as an excuse a totally fabricated tie between those funds and abortions in China. $25 Million of that money alone could have been used to prevent 3,500 maternal deaths and 57,000 infant and child deaths outside of China.

In the last decade Gates on the other hand has pledged more than $7 Billion to good causes. $1.4+ Billion specifically to HIV, TB and Reproductive Health. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to do the math. If $25 Million could have bought the lives of 3,500 women and 57,000 infants/children, then $1.4 Billion has likelu bought roughly 56 times that many lives: 196,000 women and 3,200,000 children.

Let's think about that for a minute. Yes, we love to hate Bill Gates. Mostly because we're jealous as hell. But how much is your cynicism worth? Is it worth the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of women and children? So what if his rich corporate shareholders cheated the rich corporate shareholders of Microsoft's competitors out of some cash by employing unfair business practices? If it's a crime to use charity to promote technical literacy Microsoft's competitors are just as guilty (albeit they probably don't have as deep of pockets).

And you know what, in the grand scheme of things, I should remember that if my biggest headache on any given day is dealing with fallout from one of Microsoft's obnoxious forced upgrades that means I'm already living life better than 99% of the rest of the planet. I don't think that's such a high price to pay to help finance the charitable work of someone who has proven he actually has the ability (and the inclination) to save and improve the lives of the millions who comprise that other 99%.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


For the person who found me by Googling “2nd hand smoke pregnant women fetus”: There’s a new study that seems to show a mother’s exposure to tobacco smoke while pregnant not only puts her unborn child at increased risk of asthma, but more surprising (and scary) her grandchildren if that fetus is female. Apparently it affects the dna in the developing eggs of the fetus. As a new mother whose own mother smoked while pregnant with me, this obviously concerns me.

For the dozen or so Google hits I get EVERY. SINGLE. DAY* regarding meth use and pregnancy &/ breastfeeding – if you want to know the effect your meth use will have on your fetus/children, this article is an excellent place to start.

I’m afraid I can’t find any more studies on the actual physical affect than what I’ve already posted on the subject. The actual physical results just won’t be known for a decade or two as meth is such a new toxin. But the indirect affects are becoming very well known (snips from the above article):

“The scars are inflicted in myriad ways: exposure to the drug in the womb, contamination from toxic chemicals used in home-based meth manufacture, explosions and fires, long-term neglect from parents obsessed with their drug habits, physical and sexual abuse. Many of the meth-lab homes are filthy, often strewn with drug paraphernalia and pornography; meth-making chemicals have been found in diaper bags and toy chests. "I've been in homes where you'd find jars of meth oil in the refrigerator, but no milk, no bread for the kids," said Marvin Van Haaften, a former country sheriff who is now Iowa's drug-policy coordinator.

Dr. Rizwan Shah, a pediatrician at Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines, encountered her first meth-exposed child in 1993 and has studied more than 500 of them since, becoming a respected expert on the phenomenon. She stresses that the prognosis for meth-exposed kids varies widely, and strives to prevent them from being stereotyped. Some suffer serious brain damage and others experience long-lasting developmental problems, while many will grow into adults without serious health consequences, she said.

What's beyond doubt, Shah says, is that pregnant women using meth are harming their babies. "The brain gets hijacked by the drug," she said, describing patterns of overstimulation and disrupted sleep cycles among infants, as well as hyperactivity and attention-deficit disorder among meth-exposed schoolchildren.

One 2-year-old boy Shah treats must be fed through a tube to his stomach because meth exposure left him unable to swallow properly.

But as the above cigarette study shows, you have NO IDEA what effect exposure to toxic substances (whether they be from illegal substances, Rx meds, or environmental toxins) will have on your children. Or on *their* children. Take GetupGrrl for instance, whose mother (like many others) when pregnant took a supposedly “safe” prescription drug called DES to prevent miscarriage. In perhaps one of the biggest ironies of all time, this drug proved to put the daughters of patients given DES at increased risk of a certain rare type of cancer, malformation of reproductive organs, infertility and if not infertile, increased risk of pregnancy complications.

Logic pretty well dictates it’s a very bad idea. Period. Even though the specific results are not yet known. But as I mentioned in the above post, even if the direct physiological affects on your fetus prove to be relatively harmless there are much worse consequences for continuing meth use while pregnant or breastfeeding. Which happen to be the same as the likely consequences of meth use while not pregnant. It’s just a miserable, deadly lifestyle for everyone concerned: you, your fetus and your children.

First, addicts are prone to neglect their own health which puts their fetus at higher risk of malnutrition and birth defects. Second, addicted mothers are at even more increased risk of being abused by their partners than non-addicted pregnant women (who are already at substantial increased risk). Which puts your fetus at risk. And those abusive partners are likely to still be around after the child is born. And will likely abuse those children when they’re not abusing you. And/or expose those children to other criminal elements who will likely abuse those kids as well or subject them to a toxic environment (I mean… why buy meth when you can cook your own! Nevermind meth labs are ticking chemical time bombs just waiting to go off. There’s a reason the hazmat crews are called in every time one is busted…).

By all that’s good in the world, if you find yourself pregnant and are addicted to meth, even if you no longer can find enough love for yourself to check out of that lifestyle for your own sake – I beg you to find enough love for that unborn child to do it for theirs. Here’s someplace to start: Please click on your state-specific link for more information and resources. There is hope.

*I do not exaggerate. Terrifying, isn't it?

Lazy Day News Roundup

Once again Flea (and then her readers – the comments are the best part) proves my life is an anecdotal wasteland. I should remember the old Chinese curse, however: “may you live in interesting times”.

Another study that apparently proves there is a genetic component to the female orgasm ). I’m not sure yet how this will be spun in the ongoing debate over whether or not the female orgasm is an evolutionary selection or pleasant byproduct (and the bigger debate of “the only reason that question keeps surfacing is because men are looking for a way to trivialize women’s sexual pleasure”)*

And finally, the tragic results when you combine stupid, scared kids; inadequate access to birth control and comprehensive sex ed and ruthless fetal protection laws: 19 Yr old gets life for helping girlfriend induce miscarriage. I got into this with a coworker yesterday who sees no ethical difference between this and a medically provided abortion. I don't know why we're so worried about back-alley abortions. Clearly, today's "Do It Yourself" mentality is taking care of that....

*I can’t put my finger on any links regarding these recurring issues, at the moment but if I do I’ll post ‘em.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Critter Update

As much as I really like our daycare provider, I’m a little concerned that since Duncan started going he’s jumping on the fast track to adulthood full throttle. C. (provider) tells us he’s remarkably alert for his age and (when awake) is totally enthralled with what the bigger kids are doing (all 5 and under). And he seems to love storytime. So far he’s been way ahead of his development norm physically – lifting his head by just a couple of weeks, pretty much able to control it by 8. Really wide-eyed, alert & tracking almost out of the gate. He’s recovered remarkably from our early bf’ing difficulties and is now proudly in the 75th weight %. Yesterday she said he was raising his head from a belly-down position for a really long time to watch the other kids. And he’s totally obsessed at home with trying to sit up. He’s taken a strong dislike to being on his back lately… almost as if he’s thinking “OK, I’ve memorized the plaster patterns on all the ceilings. Time to look at other stuff now”. Unfortunately some of that “other stuff” he’s absorbing involves the T.V. I didn’t think we’d have to start monitoring his TV exposure at 2 months!! He’s getting more and more verbal. Cooing, giggling, little nonsense phrasing when happy interspersed with adorable loud grunts when he’s not.

Grunting, is in fact the RiverClan family 2nd language. I’m the master (can carry on entire conversations with Curt in the mornings without my having to say a word) but D. apparently picked up quite a bit of the syntax in utero. He gets really pissed when we laugh at him though and shoots us amazingly expressive dirty looks.

I want to shout at him “NO! This is the best time of your life! Don’t grow up yet!!!” He’s just so damned adorable right now. Doesn’t cry much at all unless we disrupt his sleep schedule (then holy shit the screaming emerges!). Which is, by the way pretty ideal. One or two hour-long naps in the morning, a really long 3-4 hour nap in the afternoon and most nights, yes – he sleeps through from 8 pm to 5 or 6 am. The few nights he does wake up around 2 he goes back down pretty easily after nursing.

That’s not to say that I get a full night’s sleep, however. I still get up around 2 am to pump or else I soak my nightgown. And I usually have to conduct a few pacifier search & rescue missions throughout the night to keep him from fully breaking the surface of consciousness. I feel a little guilty about this “quick, plug the fuss-hole before he wakes up and realizes it’s gone!” but hey man, I need my sleep (and it’s an orthodontic pacifier!)

We have to really swaddle him up tight in his Miracle Blanket or he pulls a Houdini and gets his arms free to wave around the air like he don't care. Total props to GFriend, by the way… it really is miraculous how well that puppy works! He looks like an adorable little pupae when wrapped up in it. Or a burrito depending on how hungry I am. Though once when it was dirty I improvised with two long strips torn from an old sheet and that worked just as well.

I’m deathly afraid he’s the cosmic equivalent of a new parent loss leader, however. We’ll get suckered in to this procreating thing by a deceptively mellow and easy first baby and BAM!! get nailed with the spawn of Satan the next time around.

In other RiverClan news, Curt’s started his new job and is adjusting well. I got to go play with some used car salesmen over the weekend and traded in my 5 yr old bare bones, mechanically challenged non-A/C equipped 5 speed Ford Focus for a new bare bones 2005 Hyundai Sonata. It’s black. The front grille reminds me of Darth Vader so I’m leaning towards dubbing it either “the Vadermobile” or “Vader the Hun”. Like this only with a sunroof. The difference is a base model Hyundai comes with power everything; A/C; CD player; side airbags and a kick ass warranty. My Focus only came with a free coffee mug. They should have thrown in a bottle of Excedrin for all the headaches it caused as soon as the 36,000 mile warranty ran out. I've always bought American before but not this time. They failed me.

I know I’m a masochist and a total nutjob to actually enjoy trying to thwart their insidious little mind games but I do. I go in with massive internet research, pre-approved credit union financing and a serious chip on my shoulder. Oh, and my Dad for moral support. I left the love of my life at home for this one. To say Curt doesn’t do well with car dealers is an understatement. When I was a kid I used to be embarrassed by my Dad’s propensity for haggling. He’d try to haggle down anyone – even in stores where you’d never think it was an option. Then I saw it work one time and thought “fuck the embarrassment. Pride doesn’t pay the bills but that $200 he just saved will” and I’ve been a haggler myself ever since. So we tag teamed ‘em. Our salesdude had to bring in back up and then back up for the back up, a pizza and free stainless steel mug just to get me to sit down at the table. But I got the car I wanted at the price I wanted.

While in the bathroom hand expressing my grossly engorged breasts and watching that precious milk go down the drain (I’d left D. at home of course and didn’t bring my pump) I decided they were going to pay for every drop wasted. Then I thought I should have brought D. Might have cut their stupid stalling tactics short to have a screaming sleep-deprived infant in the showroom and a mom whip out her boob to feed him. But no, it wouldn’t have been fair to subject him to that.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

There Be Treasure Here!

You may have heard of geocaching. If you're local to the Portland area you may be familiar with the annual treasure hunt for the Rose Festival Medallion. Now there's a children's book out that gives readers clues to find treasure tokens redeemable for one-of-a-kind jewels. Somebody has already found one.