Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Born Free... Not

Did anyone else see this article by Ayelet Waldman at Salon: Mothers in Chains? Looking around for info on my own state, I discovered that here in NC Departments of Corrections may use handcuffs, leg-irons and belly-chains. Belly-chains during transport to the hospital? Women may be shackled and chained here during labor and delivery. How often is this necessary?

Doula News has excerpts from the Amnesty International report on pregnant women in prison. Do people ever think?

Update: that link isn't working, so check out Amnesty report blasts shackling female inmates . Thanks to The Mommy Blawg for the link.

Friday, May 20, 2005

blast and botheration

I'm having one of those maddening days. The sort of day when you discover that the name you've always used for your freelance company (and blog) is somebody else's company name. And now I'm going to have to come up with something else.

Oh, and I can't print. And I don't have email. This is feeling like the worst sort of minor annoyance. Paper cuts.

Anyway, I'm pasting in a list of books I want to read because I've got no other way to get the list home. Let's see if this works at all.

Charles Todd A Test of Wills
Deborah Grabien The Weaver and the Factory Maid
Laurie King A Grave Talent
Laurie King To Play the Fool
Deborah Grabien Matty Groves
Charlaine Harris Dead as a Doornail
Charles Todd A Fearsom Doubt
Charles Todd A Cold Treachery
Alan Bennett The Clothes They Stood Up In
Alan Bennett The Lady in the Van
Aldous Huxley After Many a Summer Dies the Swan
Betsy Burton The King's English
Bill Fitzhugh Cross Dressing
David Wiesner & Kim Kahng The Loathsome Dragon
Deborah Grabien And Then Put Out the Light
Deborah Grabien Eyes in the Fire
Deborah Grabien Fire Queen
Deborah Grabien Woman of Fire
Douglas Adams Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
George Packer The Village of Waiting
Gourevitch We Wish to Inform You
Hope Mirrlees Lud-in-the-Mist
Jasper Fforde The Big Over Easy
Jean E. Karl Strange Tomorrow
John Crowley Engine Summer
John Crowley Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land
John Grisham The Broker
Kingsley Amis The Alteration
Linda de Haan, Stern Nijland King & King
Louise Lawrence Children of the dust
Marta Randall Islands
Maureen Waller London 1945
Miriam Weinstein Yiddish:a nation of words
Octavia E. Butler Clay's Ark
Peter Abrahams Oblivion : A Novel
Peter Abrahams Their Wildest Dreams
Peter S. Beagle Tamsin
Richard Powers Galatea 2.2
Robert Swindells Brother in the Land
Samuel R. Delaney Dhalgren
Sarah Dunant Mapping the Edge
Stewart O'Nan A Prayer For the Dying
Tanith Lee The Silver Metal Lover
Timothy Findley Not Wanted on the Voyage
Ursula K. LeGuin The Lathe of Heaven
Pinkerton's Sister

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Chasing Obsessions

Lately I've found myself even more prone than usual to random obsessions. The top two this week are Affective Forecasting and "Why Did People Who Voted For Bush Get His Positions So Wrong?" So far, the answer to thes second seems to be that the campaign did such a good job of going negative on Kerry that Bush's record and/or plans were irrelevant. Some people voted not for Bush, but against the loathed Kerry.

Anyway, my experiment here is to gather all my shiny web ephemera and bring it back here, where I can peck at it and preen, and try to understand.

Affective Forecasting

My interest in Affective Forecasting began less than two weeks ago, when reading The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2004 . The book only has two nonfiction pieces, and one of them was The Futile Pursuit of Happiness by Jon Gertner. This one little bit caught my eye:

We often yearn for a roomy, isolated home (a thing we easily adapt to), when, in fact, it will probably compromise our happiness by distancing us from neighbors. (Social interaction and friendships have been shown to give lasting pleasure.) The big isolated home is what Loewenstein, 48, himself bought. ''I fell into a trap I never should have fallen into,'' he told me.
I'm a sucker for anything about urban planning or architecture.

Now I'm trying to find the following sources that should give me some more info on social relationships as a critical determinant of happiness: Argyle, 1999; Biswah-Diener & Diener, 2001; Diener, Gohm, Suh, & Oishi, 2000; Diener, Suh, Lucas, Smith, 1999; Larson, 1990; Myers, 1999; Sheldon, Elliot, Kim, & Kasser, 2001.

Some sources on the idea that people know social aspects are more important than material comforts: Putnam, 200; Schor, 1991.

You got to love Harvard. This paper ends with a section called Policy Implications. Here, the author points to slum clearance projects of the past, and the decision to replace crumbling tenements with modern high-rises. There are innumerable anecdotes about folks who are poor but happy, living in tiny and/or decaying houses, but all the fun they have with their neighbors. To some extent we all know that crappy houses are okay in a close-knit neighborhood, but when it's time to choose someplace to live this knowledge is ignored. Some of it is beyond us: there are only so many houses for sale when we're looking, and many of those will be new suburban (or even exurban) models with big, private yards, and big private houses, and no social interaction at all. And it may not be possible to buy somewhere we'd like to, due to mortgage lenders' redlining neighborhoods. Some of the problem is widespread, such as the common belief that you need a yard to raise kids. We tend to overlook the corollary that a giant yard isn't as much fun if you have to ply in it all by yourself.