Monday, October 31, 2005

12% of births in the USA are premature

12% translates to 500,000 babies!

November is Prematurity Awareness Month.

March of Dimes was founded to fight polio. Now, their focus is on the health of infants.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

At the movies: Little Man

Little Man is an incredible documentary. An intensely personal tale of life, a mother's devotion, medical technology and the complexity of some of the hottest hot button social issues of the day.

At the showing that I saw, the LA premier of the film, was the writer-director Nicole Conn and many of the people involved in the production of the film. Also in attendance were some of the medical personnel shown in the film.

Ms. Conn had originally set out to do a documentary on surrogate mothers. She and her partner enlisted a surrogate mother to carry to term their son the result of using their eggs and donor sperm. Conn was intrigued by the kind of individuals who would participate in such a process.

The story took an unexpected turn when they discovered the surrogate had misrepresented her health status. Compounding the problems was the poor health of the baby growing inside the womb of the surrogate.

Baby Nicholas was born via emergency cesarian section 100 days premature. The chances of survival of a baby that early at 1 pounds 1 ounces was extremely low.

The film followed the turbulent days and weeks that followed in the NICU = neonatal intensive care unit.

I'm not ready to post an extensive debate on the issues raised by the film. Don't know if I ever will be.

But this is one situation where my "micro" reactions and "macro" reactions are completely the opposite.

On a "micro" level, you see this tiny baby fighting for life and all you can do in your heart of hearts is root for him to survive and you can understand employing every tool of medical technology to make it so.

But the hard reality is that medical technology as advanced as it is, can't do everything. In this case, it was able just barely to save Nicholas and can't make Nicholas completely healthy. He will always require various amounts of medical care the rest of his life. And that is the "macro" question: as a matter of public policy, should we spend millions of dollars to save extremely premature babies many of whom die in the attempt and of those who make it out of the NICU require life long medical care to varying degrees the rest of their lives?

When you see him, you say, we have to.

When you cover up the picture and look at the cold hard numbers ...

Amidst the cognitive dissonance, the crystal clear things that brought tears to my eyes and to many in the audience was the incredible devotion of all who care for Nicholas, the blend of competence and compassion of the medical personnel and the fighting spirit of the little man.

To see the film in Southern California, go to the Laemmle Music Hall on Wilshire in Beverly Hills.

Music Hall 3
9036 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(310) 274-6869

To understand more about the issues relating to premature births, see the Good Beginnings web page. Good Beginnings is the support group at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for premature babies, their parents and for the NICU staff who care for them.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Miers battle is over

I felt the hearings would be crucial. Thus, the analysis over at Volokh Conspiracy makes sense to me.
Harriet Miers is by all accounts a good person and a solid lawyer, but wasn't particularly well-suited for the unique environment of the Supreme Court. As I noted last week, I think the tipping point was sometime last Thusday or Friday, when it became clear on the Hill that Miers just wasn't going to be able to deliver the kind of performance at her hearings that she needed to deliver to get confirmed.
Who is going to be nominated next?

Here is a list from University of Pittsburgh law school.

Will the President brace for a showdown fight by picking one of the favorites of the Federalist Society?

Or will the President pick a Senator (Kyl and Hatch have been mentioned) because he would be confirmable?

I don't think a "stealth" or "surprise" candidate would survive in this political climate.

UPDATE: As I drove to work, I heard David Frum on the radio, he was opposed to Miers fairly early. He cited that the tide was turning against her for some time. He mentioned that for some supporters, the last straw was reports on speeches she gave 12 years ago.

On Hugh Hewitt's radioshow, Erwin Chemerinsky, a left of center law professor, said his Senate Judiciary committee sources were telling him that some Republican members didn't have a good feeling about the one-on-one interviews with Miers.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Another Curse Laid to Rest: Congrats to the White Sox

What can you say?


Pretty much summed up this year's World Series for the Astros.

Losses by 2 runs (games 1 and 3). Losses by 1 run (games 2 and 4).

If the Chicago Cubs win next year, will it be the end of the world as we know it?

What other big sports curses are left?

Maybe this will be the year there are 4 undefeated teams to help blow up the BCS?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Miers: I'm waiting for the hearings

I am neutral on the Miers nomination.

Check out TTLB for what other bloggers are saying.

I want to see how she does in the hearings.

Even Miers supporter Hugh Hewitt knows that the stakes are high for the hearings. Excerpt:
Many of the arguments against Miers are simply bogus, part and parcel of a neoBorking of a fine public servant and accomplished member of the Bar as well as the White House staff in a time of war. The best arguments against Miers are political, and on that basis, can be rejected as unpersuasive after pause and serious consideration, and provided that Miers acquits herself well in her hearings.
[ed. note - emphasis mine]
Am I concerned the nomination was a mistake?


It seems the decision was made with too little consultation where negative issues could have been raised and certainly the roll out of the nomination has been badly botched.

I'm also concerned that people who would normally be supportive of the administration are concerned. It is one thing if your detractors cast doubt on your nominee, that is expected, but when your friends are carping, you have a problem.

I'm also concerned that there have been complaints about her responses to the "written exam" given by the Judiciary Committee. I'm not a lawyer and I have to take the word of experts who believe her answers were not up to par.

Nonetheless, I do feel some of the criticism has been well over the top. This morning, I came across Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle and here are a few thoughts that resonated with me:
It's not enough that the National Law Journal named Miers one of America's 50 most influential women lawyers -- before she worked in the White House. In the world according to Bork, she's supposed to be a member in good standing of a select club of conservative ideologues/legal scholars.
... there is something refreshing about Bush's decision not to select a nominee from a prescribed list of appellate judges.

Brad Blakeman, a Washington lobbyist who worked with Miers in the White House, noted that if the Founding Fathers had wanted only judges to serve on the Big Bench, they could have written that into the Constitution -- except they didn't.
I think some critics have dismissed the nomination outright because she didn't have the right school in the education section of her resume or the right jobs in the employment section of her CV.

The poor response to her essay answers worry me. And if she doesn't do well in the hearings then I'll move from neutral to against. But until then, let's all take a chill pill and wait for the hearings.

Friday, October 21, 2005

White Sox or Astros?

Who do you root for when you don't have any personal tie to either team?

Root for the underdog? I think the Astros are the underdogs since the White Sox have home field advantage.

Root for the team with stronger starters? I think the White Sox have that edge. Just ask the Angels.

Root for the closer? Brad Lidge of the Astros despite blowing game 5 against the Cardinals has some mean pitches.

Root for the team with long-suffering fans? Last year it was the Red Sox's time to put down the curse and pick up the championship rings. The White Sox can finally erase the Black Sox.

Root for the team with old guys? Certainly Clemens and Pettitte are on the older side for the Astros. Will wily vets carry the day?

However, the most interesting reason I've found so far to be rooting for the Astros is over at 6-4-2. Quote:
Look: I want no part of the team that beat the Angels, especially after learning Ozzie Guillen practices the bloody arts of Santeria. Go Astros! Beat the barbarians!
I'm a Dodger fan so that makes me more of an NL guy. I'm in Southern California and seeing the Angels get beat by the White Sox - argh!

Astros in SEVEN.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Could this photo hang in a modern art museum?

I like some modern art but I confess a certain amount of it falls into the "what is it?" category.

Since art images are often copyrighted, I'll not pipe the image here. But I'll provide the link. What is it?

Perhaps if the artist were there to talk to the audience, I'd get it. But by itself ... well, to be honest, it looks like a pile of junk arranged to be displayed in a museum.

Some of it falls into the "I could have done that" category.

Could you or your child do this? Looks like a pile of dirt to me. I suppose adding the mirrors makes it something you or your child would not have done. But does that make it art?

And then there are some in the "I want to shock you just to shock you" category.

I'll skip providing an example as this is a family friendly blog.

I'm not one of those "snobs" who dislikes all modern art.

I think there is a measure skill and creativity and humor in something like this.

A web image doesn't do justice for this item. It is huge and the subtle colors evoke a reaction within the viewer.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Game 5 @ 5 and This or That

As a Los Angeles Dodger fan, I'm definitely okay about rooting for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim against the New York Yankees in GAME 5!!!

Go Angels!!

So let's do a little "this or that."

Angels or Yankees?

Houston or St. Louis?

VaTech or Fl State?

Big 10 football or Big 12 football?

Georgia or Alabama?

Cincinnatti Bengals or Cincinnatti Bungles?

Washington Redskins or Dallas Cowboys?

To see my answers, click on the comments.

UPDATE: Angels Win!

Angels or White Sox?

Of course, the Angels!

Friday, October 07, 2005

A modest proposal: Blawggers should help Senators on Miers questioning

As a somewhat regular reader of Glenn Reynolds a.k.a. Instapundit, Volokh Conspiracy, Professor Bainbridge and Hugh Hewitt, I've been alternately amused and appalled at the sackcloths and ashes over the Miers nomination.

Hugh Hewitt has been gamely trying to find supporters of Miers among his legal blogging buddies and fending off the critics.

As a non-lawyer but political news junkie, I confess I was surprised at the pick. However, I wasn't out on the ledge like many critics of the pick. I remain open to persuasion either way. Maybe it is my generally sunny disposition that leads me to give people a chance. I don't know.

However, if the Blawggers want to provide an invaluable service to the Country and to the Conservative movement they feel is threatened by this nomination then it is time for them to step up to the plate and call their favorite Senator on the judiciary committee and offer their services in providing appropriate Constitutional Law questions for them to use in the hearings.

Call it an oral exam of sorts for Ms. Miers.

If she fields the questions well, then it is time to quit the carping and give her her props.

And if she fumbles the ball, then they have the right to say, I TOLD YOU SO.

So how about it big-time Blawggers?

How about it Hugh Hewitt?

Do you think you will be able to use your influence on the critics of this nomination?

You got the ball rolling on the Roberts document dump. Time to harness the sub-section of the blogosphere on this project?

If the idea has been suggested already, good! Add my voice as one saying it is a good idea.

If it is happening, I'd like to know what the questions are!


Obviously, this post was written in exasperation of the critics of Miers.

At least some critics have the courage of their convictions to call on the President to withdraw the nomination or for Miers to request to be removed from consideration.

The critics who irk me are the ones who criticize her on one hand and then on the other hand won't call for her to stand down and instead just say I'm unhappy, hurumph!

I wonder what the critics will say during the hearings?

If she gives thoughtful answers, will the critics pipe down?

Or will they continue to say her resume on Constitutional matters is too thin?

Critics (on both sides) often say that the Senators often just make speeches in these hearings (true!) and that their staffs don't feed them good questions to ask (often true). I would want to know what kinds of questions these critics want her to answer. If they really believe she is not fit for the job then they owe it to the Country and the Conservative movement to come up with the questions that will reveal her to be the lightweight they think she is!

Or do they feel the hearings are irrelevant and all that counts is the resume?

If she botches her responses in the hearings, I'd be ready to call on her to withdraw or for the Senate to vote her down from this blog.

Will the critics call for her confirmation if she comes across well?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

One of many things I don't know ...

Hmmm ... ever notice how kids don't want to fall asleep?

They fight it and resist it.

As an adult, I long for a good night's sleep.

When did this transition take place from resisting sleep to desiring it?