Friday, March 31, 2006

A Note about Breastfeeding and Hospitals

Baby Babble is running a piece on The Public Health Council in Massachusetts prohibiting hospitals from giving away infant formula and coupons to new parents. The ban was scheduled to go into affect in July, then Governor Mitt Romney requested a repeal of the ban, and nothing is settled or going to be settled for a while.

What's to reconsider? Well, I suppose the money companies like Nestle make, roughly $3000 per child per year. The US is currently 36th in infant mortality. That's not good. Romney supposedly said that the ban would limit choice for parents. That's total crap. The only choice he's afraid of limiting is that of formula companies to market heavily to a captive audience. Perhaps he'd like hospitals to branch out: how about Benson & Hedges gift bags in the cancer ward, Rollerblades (without helmets, natch) in the sports injury department...I'm sure someone out there has even better ideas.

This is not about parental choice. This is about social policy. Social policy that is at the mercy of big companies.

This is about how social policy in America sucks eggs.

Ever heard of something called the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative? No, I didn't think so. That's because only 52 hospitals in America are certified Baby-Friendly. That puts the U.S. well behind Turkey (83) and way the hell behind Mexico (692). [These are absolute numbers provided by UNICEF, not rankings or rates.]

So, what kind of crazy stuff do hospitals have to do to be "Baby-Friendly"? Here's the complete list:

* Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.

* Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.

* Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.

* Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one half-hour of birth.

* Show mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation, even if they should be separated from their infants.

* Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically

* Practice rooming in - that is, allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.

* Encourage breastfeeding on demand.

* Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to
breastfeeding infants.

* Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support
groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative was begun in 1991. It is a follow-up to the World Health Organization's International Code of Marketing Breast-Milk Substitutions, from 1981. The US did not sign on to the Code, which forbids Breast-Milk Substitutions (how's that for reframing?) to be marketed to the public. No free samples, no doctor's offices and parenting magazines rife with glossy ads, no commercials on TV showing a woman with a six-month-old baby slurping from a bottle and a disclaimer that "breast is best" .

Mitt Romney has asked the Public Health Council in Massachusetts to reconsider. To spend some more time thinking about a policy WHO recommended 25 years ago. You know how many Baby-Friendly hospitals there are in Massachusetts? One. Admittedly, that's one more than NC.

What I've Been Not Reading

Just under a year ago I posted a list of books here, because I couldn't get the list home any other way. It's a long, stupid, and boring story, most of which I can't remember.

But today I happened to take a look at that list of 46 books, to see how many I'd actually got around to. For anyone keeping score at home, out of those 46 I actually picked up 7. Of those 7, I completed 5, and quite liked them.

That scant bit of information would suggest that I don't read much, but I read about 250 books last year. It's just that I don't structure my reading much. Damn near everything sounds appealing to me, such that there are close to 2000 books on my list of books to read.

Here are the books from last year's post that I read and enjoyed:

The King's English by Betsy Burton
Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
Matty Groves and The Weaver and the Factory Maid by Deborah Grabien
Lord Byron's Novel: This Evening Land by John Crowley

Shorts and bunnies

Two things really.

The first, is a short story available at Amazon by my new best friend, Lauren Baratz-Logsted. Lauren has so far published three books, which are all fun and witty and arch and available: The Thin Pink Line, Crossing the Line, and A Little Change of Face. She also has an essay included in the Smart Pop (an apt series title) collection Flirting with Pride and Prejudice : Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit .

This Amazon Shorts idea is brilliant. It's the best thing they've added to the site in ten years. For $0.49 you can have a quickie with a writer you like between books, or you can try out someone new. When even a mass market paperback costs $7.00, and magazines rarely run short fiction anymore (even Reader's Digest has dropped fiction! It's a sign of the end times), the chance for a little taste of something for less than a can of soda delights me no end. They have an amazing quantity of short works, covering the same broad territory as their books.

While I was linking, I happened to notice one that surprised me. Daniel Wallace, author of Big Fish, did a reading at the library several years ago now. He read from something he was working on, sort of a graphic novel, but I guess more a picture book for adults. Anyway, talking afterwards, he described the crazy publishing history of the book. He'd sold it to an Italian publisher, but his American publisher didn't want it. There it is. Available in two parts at Amazon. So, while you're looking, be sure to look at O Great Rosenfeld! : In Which Our Esteemed Leader, Rosenfeld, and His Tribe of 33 and 1/2 Followers Find Themselves Trapped Between a Bunch of Very Dangerous ... After Sally, the Most Beautiful Woman . That's part one.

Looking through that list is dangerous. I've already seen about a dozen I want: James Morrow, Audrey Niffenegger, someone called Lord Breaulove Swells Whimsy, M. J. Rose, Gregory Benford and Michael Rose, Gardner Dozois, Gayle Brandeis, Peter S. Beagle. I could spend all day in a frenzy of linking and buying and reading.

Okay, the other lighthearted thing: My soon-to-be-seven-year-old daughter was talking about Easter yesterday, making plans. She's very big on planning and making lists. She told me that the Easter bunny had left her a note, informing her that this year there would be three Easter baskets: one each for she and her sister, and one for me. I kind of mildly said something about "are you sure the Easter bunny said he was bringing me a basket?"

She was sure, but she had lost the note.

Shortly after we got home, said daughter brought me a piece of paper torn out of a small spiral-bound notebook, such as the one she has to write herself notes. It said:

Dear V--,

there will b 3 bastets. 1 for mama, 1 for you, 1 for sis.

ester bunny

The sis in question, who is four, about lost her tiny mind with excitement. The Easter Bunny had stopped by and left a note!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

BlondeSense: you don't have to go all the way to South Dakota

"Texas. Promoting pregnancy in 13-year-olds." As slogans go, that's probably not the worst. I expect there are some people who'd really go for that.

North Carolina is 9th worst in the nation. Although I'm happy to report, there has been a decrease in the teen pregnancy rate. Perhaps this explains why

APPCNC hopes to have science-based programs in the eight counties they've targeted implemented within a year....

Two places where we're really failing: "abstinence education" is required statewide, which doesn't actually work, and access to emergency contraception isn't addressed at all. For advice on what to do, Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina has some suggestions.

Eat the Rich

Well, this sums up everything wrong with the US. It could be the definition of bass-ackward.

Only 30 out of more than 180,000 Millionaires Faced Traditional IRS Audits Last Year

Audit Rates for Low Income Taxpayers Greater than for Top Earners

IRS Says Release of Statistics that Might Explain Aberration "Would Adversely Affect Tax Administration"

Part of that is apparently a crackdown on people taking advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit. Because that's so incredibly profitable, I guess. Yeah,

On 2005 returns, the maximum credit can be as much as $4,400 for workers supporting two or more kids.
That's $42 a week per kid (as long as you don't have more than 2). That'll pay for, what, one day of childcare? Well, it means more when you get it all in one big chunk. Assuming you do, because many of the people who qualify for the EITC won't get it, what with it being incredibly complicated to apply for, and the working poor being less likely to hire someone to help with their taxes.

But the IRS isn't just cutting rich people a break:

the largest growth in corporate audits this past year has been for the smallest companies.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

From Media Matters I get this quote, you can fill in the blanks:

"___________is run by nothing but criminals."

"[I]t is so riddled with corruption that you cannot have a job and make money there. It is so riddled with drugs and corruption and mob that you cannot raise a family. It is a country that has been overtaken by lawbreakers from the bottom to the top. "

Pretty much anything works there, doesn't it? It's uncanny.

So Broadsheet brought to my attention a Washington Post story by Libby Copeland entitled Glamour Babes. Broadsheet reminded me of JonBenet Ramsey and that "the practice of sexualizing kindergartners is alive and well". Spluh. But to my grim amusement, when I checked out Copeland's story, larger than the photo of three girls getting skanky, was an ad for Ralph Lauren Children starring some young kids modeling way-too-adult styles. Admittedly, the Lauren ad doesn't look skanky, just sort of distressing retro in a Conservative child clone way. But still.

My Beloved Bookshelf , as of March 2006

These are the books I've read at least twice, and loved both times. I notice that I'm not rereading so much these days, mostly because there are so many wonderful books yet to try. Years ago I would wander into a bookstore or library, and maybe find something and maybe not. Now, I've got Amazon suggesting titles, many of which I would actually like to read, and I've got Readerville which is just chock full of people who can suggest zillions of titles in every genre or subject matter or odd little interest I can come up with. There are people out there who can recommend ten great books about plague, and thanks to the internet, I'm getting those recommendations. And a special shout out to my local library, who's online catalog makes locating books a breeze, and those wonderful librarians, who go out of their way to find me obscure titles.

Douglas Adams Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Jeffrey Archer A Twist in the Tale
Margaret Atwood The Handmaid's Tale
Jane Austen Emma
Jane Austen Mansfield Park
Jane Austen Northanger Abbey
Jane Austen Persuasion
Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice
Wilton Barnhardt Emma Who Saved My Life
Wilton Barnhardt Gospel
John Berendt Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Maeve Binchy This Year It Will Be Different
Scott Bradfield The History of Luminous Motion
Berkeley Breathed Goodnight Opus
Berkeley Breathed The Last Bassalope
Berkeley Breathed Red Ranger Came Calling : A Guaranteed True Christmas Story
Bill Bryson Mother Tongue : English & How It Got That Way
Douglas Coupland Generation X : Tales for an Accelerated Culture
Roald Dahl Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories
Roald Dahl The Witches
Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens Bleak House
Daphne Du Maurier Don't Look Now
E. M. Forster A Room with a View
E. M. Forster Howard's End
John Fowles A Maggot
Dick Francis The Danger
Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchitt Good Omens: the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter Witch
Libby Gelman-Waxner If You Ask Me
William Goldman The Princess Bride
Helene Hanff 84, Charing Cross Road
Florence Parry Heide The Shrinking of Treehorn
Alice Hoffman Practical Magic
Alice Hoffman Seventh Heaven
John Irving A Prayer for Owen Meany
John Irving The Cider House Rules
Shirley Jackson The Haunting of Hill House
C. S. Lewis The Chronicles of Narnia
C. S. Lewis The Screwtape Letters
Sue Miller The Good Mother
Jacquelyn Mitchard The Deep End of the Ocean
Jacqueline K. Ogburn Scarlett Angelina Wolverton-Manning
Rosamunde Pilcher Coming Home
Rosamunde Pilcher September
Rosamunde Pilcher The Shell Seekers
Philip Pullman His Dark Materials
J. K. Rowling The Harry Potter series
Paul Rudnick I'll Take It
Mary Doria Russell Children of God
Mary Doria Russell The Sparrow
J. D. Salinger Nine Stories
Carolyn See Golden Days
William Shakespeare A Midsummer Night's Dream
William Shakespeare Romeo & Juliet
William Shakespeare Hamlet
William Shakespeare The Tempest
George Bernard Shaw Pygmalion
Anne Rivers Siddons Heartbreak Hotel
Neal Stephenson The Diamond Age
Tom Stoppard Hapgood
Tom Stoppard Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Tom Stoppard The Real Thing
Josephine Tey The Daughter of Time
Kurt Vonnegut Bluebeard
Kurt Vonnegut Galapagos
David Foster Wallace A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again
David Foster Wallace The Broom of the System
John Welter Night of the Avenging Blowfish
Connie Willis To Say Nothing of the Dog
Connie Willis The Doomsday Book
Tom Wolfe The Bonfire of the Vanities
Edward Gorey ed. Edward Gorey's Haunted Looking Glass

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I love, love, love this Open Letter to CNN. I'm rushing out to buy all of Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez's books.