December 5th, 2007

_Exposed_ by Mark Schapiro

I heard Schapiro on NPR and he sounded sensible and well-informed so I bought his book about the changing regulatory environment for chemicals. He lays it out clearly. The US, as part of the big push to clean stuff up in the '70s, implemented TCSA, which required a lot of stuff to be done for new chemicals, but not much of anything for stuff that had been around already. The effect of this was to make everyone think the old stuff was safe, and discourage innovation. In light of recent developments (pthalates and bisphenol-A spring to mind), the EU has required a bunch of information regarding these grandfathered chemicals to be collected and actions taken based on whatever information is collected -- to the point where they are limiting what corporations can hide after they've discovered it, even if it's very, very unflattering to whatever they produce.

The EU is doing this for a variety of reasons including (a) it can and (b) they're looking at some truly heinous health costs if they don't and since they actually pay that aggregate cost, they care. The US (as a government, and as a variety of corporate and quasi-corporate entities such as the Chamber of Commerce), needless to say, resisted. Other countries are busy playing me, too -- to the EU, not the US. It _might_ be because they're feeling pissy abou the Iraq, but Schapiro makes a strong case that it's really all about the total size of the EU as a market, vs. the size of the US. Also, there are real health and moral issues like, say, will any of us still be able to reproduce with another decade or so of this crap being pumped into the environment.

Individuals states and other smaller jurisdictions in the US are now playing Me Too also, and now the chemical industry is in the unpleasant situation of lobbying for us to match ROHS, because the prospect of having to understand and comply with 50+ alternative regulatory structures is too horrible to contemplate. Also, there is access to the EU market, and wanting to force companies which only sell in the US onto a level playing field with the big guys.

Great book; I highly recommend it. If you live in my town, my copy will shortly be on the shelf at our local library. If you don't, get it from yours. While it is excellent, it is hardcover, and I have this feeling that there's going to be another chapter in this saga written in the next couple years. It's a good read, too -- Schapiro presents a lot of wonky information within a dual narrative structure. On one level, it's the story of how he traveled around and talked to people and learned about this stuff. On another level, it's the story of the EU coming into its own as a market and a regulatory entity.

to misquote Keith Olbermann. . .

DHL is the Worst Shipper in the World!

I understand it's a bit snowy and slippery out there. That's why I spent about an hour chipping away at the driveway and walkway so that the inevitable deliveries of stuff (especially Christmas stuff) ordered online would not result in a slip and fall. The other day, after dark (which comes early around here this time of year), I saw a person headed down my driveway on foot, which was kinda weird. It being dark, I only noticed when I saw a head occlude a neighbor's light across the street. I wasn't looking, just caught it out of the corner of my eye. While I was busy musing over how humans are programmed to be aware of stuff like that without any effort at all, I went out to see who it was. It briefly occurred to me that maybe I should be worried about someone walking down my driveway after dark, but I immediately realized it must be the UPS guy, who generally parks on the street and walks down the drive. Sure enough, package delivered. I like the UPS guys. Not just because they have nice calves, either, altho they uniformly do.

By contrast, today I didn't notice the unmarked white van in my driveway until it was driving away. Then I got to wondering what the hell that was about (this was around 3 p.m. and therefore still light outside, if what you get in Brookline, NH on a cloudy winter afternoon can be considered light). Out I went in T-shirt, socks and REI technical pants (the fluffy kind -- I'd been clearing ice and snow from the drive earlier as you may recall from a paragraph ago, and removed the top layers when I came in and overheated). No package. Yet, I wondered, and I went to look at the drive and garage doors. Sure enough, on the ground, _between the garage doors_, lay an Amazon package. Already damp from the slightly melted snow. The black drive, once partially exposed, does help melt the snow, even in low light.

Had I left it there until it was discovered (hopefully not by someone driving over it), it would have been soaked and, probably, refrozen.

Hence, DHL is the worst shipping company in the world!

But we like us some UPS and I'm neutral to negative on FedEx.

toddler language development

First, I'd like to thank everyone who patiently listened to me worry about T.'s language development (or lack thereof). I'd like to thank the people who observed that I could get free language assessment and therapy through the schools, particularly since _not one single person_ pressured me into actually doing so. I'd like to thank the people who observed that their children (or some other child they knew) had [insert salient language delay here], and while they had (no) therapy, everything worked out just fine, particularly since _not one single person_ pressured me into either getting T. assessed or NOT getting T. assessed.

Finally, I'd like to thank J., who in addition to doing _all_ of the above, spent a few hours several days a week (while taking T. off my hands in general, and also providing the cheapest therapy in the world) patiently encouraging T. to use words.

Ooops, one more: I'd like to thank _Super Why_. Angela Santomero rocks. I mean, we knew this, because the Blue's shows are/were amazing, but come on. _Super Why_ is toddler crack.

Oh, wait, one more: I'll shout out Leap Frog, for their amazing Fridge Phonics letters.

For whatever reason (internal timeline, J.'s help, TV shows, whatever), T. has started using words. You can ask him if he wants juice and he'll say juice. You can ask him which kind and he'll say app, which means apple. And he means all of it. He'll even suggest TV. And today, he lined up a bunch of letters on the fridge, and proceeded to (mangle) A-B-C-D-E-F-G. But in a way that both J. and I understood. The letters he was pointing to were in a line, weren't oriented up uniformly and weren't the ones he was saying, but who the fuck cares.

Best of all, when he crawls up on the couch and looks at my shirt expectantly and I ask him what he wants, he says "B? B!"

Baby got word.

Awesome.

Also, today he said, jok, which I eventually realized meant chocolate, as in, get me down the chocolate chips woman, this blonde brownie isn't doing it for me.