October 23, 2009

DT Friday Freakout: Nuclear Edition

Here are some stories from the science, safety, and parenting worlds designed to help give your confidence a little extra push--over the cliff. Have a great weekend!

Actually, these first two are just funny-sad:

  • True, the rabbits died, but their transplanted uteri were fine. Which is enough for an English bookie somewhere to take bets on the Times of London's headline, "First womb transplant could take place in 2 years." [timesonline.co.uk]
  • The Mocha Moms [aka, the every-Tuesday, NPR-sponsored, bane of my kindergarten pickup line existence] successfully bludgeoned a hapless Swedish children's rights advocate into silence last week, thereby preserving their Biblically sanctioned right to beat the children they love. Listener reaction was surprisingly mixed! [npr.org]
  • The only thing left of her was a blood-stained PDF copy of Save The Children Sweden's report, Never Violence: Thirty Years on from Sweden's Abolition of Corporal Punishment, published in partnership with the Ministry of Social Affairs, which wasn't that easy to find, so I'm mirroring it here: NeverViolenceSweden2009.pdf
  • Speaking of beatdowns, the New Yorker's Daniel Zalewski delivers several to current children's book authors who depict powerless, incompetent parents. Which, truth be told, was only fourth on my 100 Things I Hate About The Pinkalicious Franchise list. A must-read before bedtime. [newyorker.com via @jodikantor]
  • I know a lot of people are waiting to see if their kid gets into Harvard before demanding a refund from Baby Einstein. But if you're the impatient and easily dissatisfied type, and your kid's IQ did not, in fact, jump 10 points while you were in the shower, Disney is offering you a full refund. No proof of your child's averageness is required. Details at the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood [commercialexploitation.org, thanks dt sr freakout correspondent sara]
  • Fetal exposure to stress hormones was linked to male fertility problems later in life. The kid's that is. So worrying about becoming a mother gives you a great leg up on worrying about becoming a grandmother! [sciencedaily; abstract at endojournals.org]
  • When covered by insurance, IVF results in fewer multiple births. [sciencedaily]
  • As early as five months, kids can tell human speech from a monkey call. But they can't distinguish between CNN and Fox News. Hey-o, thanks, you guys are great. I'll be here all week. [sciencedaily]
  • You remember David Vetter? No, he's not the conservative, family values senator from Louisiana who frequents prostitutes in a diaper and hates interracial marriage. That's David Vitter. David Vetter was the Boy In The Plastic Bubble who had a big comeback with Pulp Fiction died young, but a 26-year study at Duke found that a bone marrow transplant pretty much clears that whole "I have no immune system!" thing right up. [sciencedaily]
  • Using a bunch of math tricks Jennie McCarthy will never believe, [hippie!] researchers at UC Davis found that autistic kids have the same blood-mercury levels as non-autistic kids. Not that that means anything, mind you! Seriously, half their press release is pre-emptive vacctivist tampdown. [sciencedaily]
  • Wired Magazine has like ten articles on vaccine scares under a heading, "War on Science." [Um...boo? Yay, Science!...?] I haven't read a single one, because if I had three spare hours, I'd drive the kids around the city looking for flu shots. [Wired]


The wife got our 9mo old an H1N1 vaccination shot this morning at Kaiser in Oakland. Long line apparently. Keep looking! Then settle down and read the wired articles, good stuff.

Just read that NPR transcript and I'm throwing up a little. Parents who don't spank at all are low-nurturing...um, yeah.

Funny, I thought the first few comments on that Wired article were far more balanced and well-reasoned than the Wired author's take, which was pretty hysterical. The first comment alone was a better use of my time than most of that article.

I heard this on the air, and I was completely baffled. Near the end, the Swedish anti-spanking advocate described time-out as "psychological violence", which I guess leaves a parent in the same position as, say the rest of the world vs. North Korea. "Turn off your video game, Sven, or I'll ask you to turn off your video game AGAIN. Unless that upsets you, of course."

Is anyone else pretty annoyed at our government's handling of this H1N1 vaccine rollout? Sebelius is out there again today; this time apologizing for the lack of vaccine supply while blaming the lack of availability on "demand." Sure, this is technically true but "demand" is only as strong as it is because Seblius told us that (a) we need if for our safety and the greater good and (b) there will be plenty of vaccine to go around. She is the one who drove the demand in the first place but now seems ready to pass the buck to 'market forces' and the growth rate of the virus in chicken eggs. Now I'm not saying any of this is easy. We're in uncharted territory and science is trying to get out in front of something that is inherently unpredictable. I'd be more than willing to give the government a pass here if they would just tone down the alarmist warnings. I don't want to be told by my government that I'm a bad parent because I haven't gotten my kids the vaccine that can't be had.
H1N1 can't be blamed on the government any more than, for example, Hurricane Katrina could be. But as Katrina showed us, leadership needs to respond with solid execution and a coherent message. Perhaps the execution is going as well as possible but the message is a disaster. Sebelius and Co. better get their act together before H1N1 becomes Obama's Katrina.

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