Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Buon giorno da Roma

Kerry and I made it here safe and sound and are being hosted admirably by Eric. In fact, he took us on a tour this afternoon. Maybe we'll get around to uploading some pictures while we're here, but in the interim, you can see today's wanderings via mapmyrun.com. Naturally, today's walk is 13 Feb; more to come. And if you have Google Earth on your computer, the route can be loaded right in by clicking on "3D View", at the top right of the map.

(To avoid any confusion, "Copy Of standard" has nothing to do with Rome. It's just a jog I occasionally take when I'm feeling exercisey.)

Sadly, Google Maps doesn't have enough detail to show you around the inside of the neighborhood grocer, where Eric selected a delicious dinner of antipasti. Prosciutto, olives, artichokes, bread, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes... mmmmm, antipasti. And cannoli for dessert. Mmmmm, cannoli.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Lournac the Magnificent

So our gal Louren says she can tell the gender of a fetus just by looking at mom's tummy. "Poppycock!" you say? Well, she got TinyD right. According to yesterday's ultrasound, "it" is a "he".

We haven't scanned the pictures from the ultrasound yet, but they're coming soon, maybe posted here, certainly on bf2k7. (And no, we don't have the ultrasound shot showing that he's a boy. But let's just say that TinyD may not be such a good moniker. Heh heh heh...)

And oh yes, the other details from yesterday: ten fingers, ten toes, spine, other useful-looking bones, heart, head, etc. All present and accounted for.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The bigness of a baby

As everyone even remotely associated with a pregnant woman knows by now, a Mexican woman recently gave birth to a 14.5-lb baby.

What this story made me realize is that, notwithstanding their restricted diet of the past few months, the Furryous Two will almost certainly be in an entirely different weight class than the newborn TinyD.

I don't believe the lazy media

Twice in the last week, I heard really poor news reporting. Both stories had to do with health care policy: CBS Evening News reporting on NIH cancer funding, and NPR on the President's proposed health insurance changes. Both stories were almost willfully one-sided.

CBS was reporting on cuts in cancer research funding over the last two years. The entire story was people affected by or opposed to funding cuts (including our friend, Dr Ben, the only reason I was watching this report in the first place). There was no response or explanation offered from NIH as to why cuts might be appropriate or necessary. (Never mind that, if you believe the unit-less bar chart that was shown for a few seconds, the cuts over the past two years are quite small compared to the rapid growth over the preceding six or so years. But without seeing actual numbers, I wouldn't want to push that too hard.)

NPR was better, but only in the details. They, too, presented only the analysis indicating that the administration's proposal might reduce the money going into health insurance. One wonk observed that health care costs grew faster than inflation, as if this were some sort of unalterable fact, Planck's Constant for the economy. There was never a hint that the real growth of health care costs could be an effect, not a cause, never mind that slowing that growth might be a prime motivator for the proposed changes.

What's particularly irksome about these one-sided reports is that policy questions like these are inherently two-sided. They're all about trade-offs. It's not that someone has recommended reducing these particular expenditures (or trying to reduce them) without any notion that there might be effects. No, they are facing some sort of external constraint or trying to effect some positive change. To report them without even acknowledging so is, at best, unhelpful.

PS - For the record, Ben's lab should get all the funding they want.