Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ooooh, Baby!

It's a girl! Catherine (Katya for short, Ekaterina pa russkie) weighed in at 7 lbs.11 oz.

What a weekend. Anya went to bed Friday night with a lot of back pain and cramping, and a little bloody show. We decided to check her Saturday morning; she was about 6 centimeters, which was kind of surprising, since in my experience with laboring patients, when you get to 6 centimeters, you are really and truly uncomfortable. But by Saturday morning, most everything had kind of settled down.

We decided to run a few errands, so it was off to Monroe. I kept wondering if we were going to catch a baby on the side of I-20. Anya somehow slowly waddled through Target and we got some last minute baby things (tub, bouncy seat). Back to the house and later to bed. I think she slept pretty well that night, although everything is beginning to blur a bit in my memory.

We got up Sunday, and just hung out lazily. We all got sleepy after lunch, and ended up drifting around the house. Emma and Eric went back to his place, and Nicole was parked on the computer playing an online Wizards game. I woke up about 3:30 pm, to find Anya in the tub, saying "I think I'm really in labor now."

Somehow, I felt calm--all the anxieties and fears that I had invested into this labor process just disappeared. I sat in a chair by the tub, and basically just watched my wife. I could tell she was uncomfortable, but after cracking a few lame jokes, I realized that it was just best for me to sit and be quietly supportive. Now in most deliveries I've done, I'm used to having a delivery table with all my instruments laid out for me. Here, in our bathroom, I've got 2 cord clamps from the delivery kit, and a couple of receiving blankets. That's it. I did use alcohol to sterilize some scissors to cut the cord. Kind of felt a little naked, you know?

So, I patiently watched my wife in second stage labor. Not a very useful feeling. After 1 or 2 pushes Anya moved around to squat in the tub. I knelt next to her as she pushed really hard; suddenly she stopped and said something like "I feel it." I looked down, and the top of the baby's head slid into view. We both reached down, and guided her out into the water, and then up onto Anya's chest, where the baby cried once and then settled down, squirming peacefully in my wife's arms.

I've probably delivered--I don't know--about 10,000 babies in my career. Some were more interesting, or terrifying, than others. But the intimacy and the emotional intensity of delivering Catherine, with Anya--that's not something that I can easily put into words. It was an incredible experience, to say the least.

I finally went out and got Nicole to come and see her new sister (she had been totally involved in casting spells the whole time); she was completely surprised. We called Eric and Emma to come. Emma was a little taken aback at first, but completely got into holding the baby, and making sure that she is comfortable. Eric took some great pictures, which we will try to get up online some where later today.

So--I assisted at a home water-birth. Yep. Me. Dr. Skeptic. I'll probably be cast out into the obstetrical darkness for this heresy. Heck--a few years ago, I would have excommunicated myself.

In fact--I was thinking about where my life has taken me the last few years. Exactly three years ago (if I am not mistaken) on February 15th, I was applying for a job at Barnes and Nobles. I was broke. Didn't have a house. Didn't really have a car. I had flushed my career away. My family relationships were broken. There was no way I could have possibly imagined that things would turn out the way they have.

If you would have told me, that I would be sitting here, in Rockettown, gazing at my beautiful wife and our beautiful daughter sitting on the couch in our living room, I would have just shook my head in disbelief. I do have so much to be grateful for.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Soviet breakdancing

Oh my.

If they would have attacked us with these dance moves, back in the '50's, this post would be in Cyrillic.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Global warming and WMD

I ran across this site a few weeks ago. Yeah, it's a site that is a bit skeptical of the global warming hysteria, as I am (which does not mean that I don't agree that warming is taking place); it is pretty easy reading, just technical enough to keep my brain engaged, and doesn't stoop to shrill tactics to get its points across. I believe it was a Weblog Award winner just recently as Best Science Blog.

They had a post about a recent Guardian article which opens with the line, "Experts at Britain's top climate research centre have launched a blistering attack on scientific colleagues and journalists who exaggerate the effects of global warming."

Wow; pretty strong stuff for the likes of the Guardian, which has been pushing the apocalyptic global warming idea for some time. The reference is obviously to the likes of James Hansen, James McCarthy and Stephen Chu, who I posted about last week.

One quote from the article:
“It is easy for scientists to grab attention by linking climate change to the latest extreme weather event or apocalyptic prediction. But in doing so, the public perception of climate change can be distorted. The reality is that extreme events arise when natural variations in the weather and climate combine with long-term climate change.”

Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

This follows a recent article on HuffingtonPost (Jan. 3rd) absolutely blasting AlGore for "the biggest whopper ever sold to the public in the history of humankind." A bit angrier in tone, it too is well worth a read.

Finally, I ran across this little exchange over on Camille Paglia's blog:

(question) Have you noticed how much the call for combating global warming crusade has in common with how we got into the Iraq war?

In both cases, there are "experts" who tell us that evidence justifying action is undeniable. They say, "The risk of doing nothing is too great for us to do nothing." And as a fallback position they say, "Even if we're wrong, we'll still be doing some good in the world."

Kind of makes me think man-made CO2 emissions will turn out to be the biggest case of nonexistent WMD since Saddam Hussein's nukes. (Or maybe even bigger!) What do you think?

Jim Carroll

(reply) Wonderful letter! . . . I have been highly skeptical about the claims for global warming because of their overreliance on speculative computer modeling and because of the woeful patchiness of records for world temperatures before the 20th century . . . the global warming crusade has become a hallucinatory cult. Until I see stronger evidence, I will continue to believe that climate change is primarily driven by solar phenomena and that it is normal for the earth to pass through major cooling and warming phases.

Not that I place much scientific value on Ms. Paglia's climate theories, but the observation about the WMD evidence I thought was insightful. If you are going to apply the same skepticism to Colin Powell's UN testimony, why not apply it to climate "science?"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Special Forces

Two servicemen pictured riding the new improved Nimbus 2000 in Tikrit, Iraq. The updated broomsticks are outfitted with Sneakoscopes and the latest model Foe-glass.

Check out a few other pics from Iraq. I especially like the one with the lady pilot with her purse danging from the controls.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Alabama vs. Europe

Two recent observations came out that I find interesting in their juxtaposition.

First, as part of a study to examine American ideas about Islam, a college student dressed in a black abaya traveled to Arab, Alabama (yeah--never heard of it either) to see how the local townspeople would react to her attire. "I expected people to say, 'What is this terrorist doing here? We don't want your kind here,' " said Hailey Woldt, a 22-year-old blue-eyed Catholic, recalling her anticipation before stepping into a local barbecue joint. "I thought I wouldn't even be served."

Instead, Woldt’s experiment in social anthropology opened her own eyes. Apart from the initial glances reserved for any outsider who might venture through a small-town restaurant’s doors, her experience was a pleasant one.

Maybe she should be studying American prejudices about the South instead. You know how stupid and backwards us rednecks can be, staring slack-jawed at the terrorist Arab lady. One native Alabaman commenter noted that he’d feel safer in Birmingham in a turban than in San Francisco in a Bush/Cheney t-shirt.

The other study, commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League is a little more scientific and perhaps more disturbing. The ADL conducted a poll, which included interviews with 3,500 people - 500 each in Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Spain.

They found that 33% of Europeans blame Jews for the global economic meltdown. That's one-third to us crackers who don't unnerstan addin' and minusin' and 'rithametic.

In Spain, 74 percent of those asked say they feel it is "probably true" that Jews hold too much sway over the global financial markets. Nearly two-thirds of Spanish respondents said Jews were more loyal to Israel than they were to their home countries.

I thought those Europeans were supposed to be so much more enlightened than us, especially us Southern good ol' boys.

I guess you don't have to go all the way to Alabama to find religious prejudice.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


The headline "Mythic birthplace of Zeus possibly found" struck me as bizarre.

Kind of like "Forge for Thor's hammer located," or maybe "Paul Bunyan's seamstress reveals secrets."


According to the Washington Post, a Bush administration official has admitted that a Guantanamo detainee was actually tortured.

"We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani," said Susan J. Crawford, in an interview. "His treatment met the legal definition of torture."

Qahtani is alleged to be 9/11's 20th hijacker. He was denied entry to the US by a suspicious customs inspector at the Orlando airport in August of 2001. Mohammed Atta, the murderer who piloted one of the planes into the World Trade Center, was at the airport that day to meet him. Qahtani was later captured in Afghanistan by US forces and has been a guest at the Guantanamo facility since January of 2003.

So--electrodes to his nether regions? Bamboo shoots under his fingernails? A little light flogging with the knout?

No. Qahtani "was forced to wear a woman's bra and had a thong placed on his head during the course of his interrogation" and "was told that his mother and sister were whores."

Wait--is this torture, or was he pledging a fraternity?

Okay, okay--I'm just an insensitive boob. And anyways, now that Obama is in charge we won't be having any more of these torture shenanigans, right?

Not exactly.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the policy of rendition predates the Bush administration. This policy of course brought howls of protest, and Obama promised to end the practice.

So, when questioned by the Senate as part of his confirmation process to head the CIA, Leon Panetta clarified that the US will still hand over foreign detainees for questioning, but only "with assurances they will not be tortured" (according to the AP).

You know, pinky swear. And no crossing fingers.

But apparently, that assurance was ALREADY part of US policy. Some former prisoners picked up during the war on terror alleged that they were nevertheless vitims of torture. When Panetta was asked about those allegations, he responded "I am not aware of the validity of those claims."

So, exactly what will be different with Obama's administration about this whole rendition thing?

"I will seek the same kind of assurances that they will not be treated inhumanely," Panetta said (emphasis added).

Hope and, umm, change?

Thursday, February 5, 2009


According to Stephen Chu, Obama's new Energy Secretary, California is doomed, doomed I tell ya:

Chu warned of water shortages plaguing the West and Upper Midwest and particularly dire consequences for California, his home state, the nation's leading agricultural producer.

In a worst case, Chu said, up to 90% of the Sierra snowpack could disappear, all but eliminating a natural storage system for water vital to agriculture.

"I don't think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen," he said. "We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California." And, he added, "I don't actually see how they can keep their cities going" either.

Can someone point me to a study suggesting that there will be no more agriculture or cities in California by 2100? What does the IPCC say? What is the consensus view?

No more agriculture, abandoned cities . . . not quite an Ehrlich (or a Hansen), but impressive just the same.

Although he is a Nobel prize winner (in Physics, 1997, for using lasers to trap and cool atoms), he is NOT a climate scientist. How interesting, in that we are often lectured by climate alarmists that only qualified climate scientists should be listened to on the subject of climate change.

For years we've heard complaints about how the Bush Administration waged a "war on science" by, among other things, distorting or misrepresenting scientific findings in order to support its policy positions.

Is this any different? Or is it "okay," because it's in line with what Obama believes?