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September 17th, 2008

And yet another FedEx has arrived with tax information. For 2007. Yum.

I think this justifies further stalling on filing an amended.

ETA: I just canceled the acupuncture appointment. I realize this probably is a violation of the umbrella theory, but I don't feel up to driving. And besides, look what happened when I read _The Memory of Running_: book group got canceled. What's the point?
There's a lot of loose talk about how people only read stuff they agree with (watch, listen, etc.) and how that's so damaging to our culture. Me, I've spent so much of my life having to memorize/listen to/regurgitate crap that I disagreed with and was incredibly obviously wrong (I've changed my mind since then about which bits are right and wrong), I always find a soothing sense of calm and relief when I find something to consume that doesn't just annoy the hell out of me.

The problem lies in the difficulty of finding anything that doesn't just annoy the hell out of me.

Regular readers of my blog recognize this trait (and, hopefully, are amused by it, because otherwise, it's got to be utterly exhausting). If I find someone whose conclusion I agree with, I'll still snark about the errors made along the way. Sometimes I find people who do great research, supply awesome data and then draw what I consider to be wholly unjustified conclusions from them.

And then some days, I find something with crap for data and crap for conclusions and am additionally annoyed by the fact that I really wish they were right. At least about some of it.

I'm currently reading _Three in a Bed_ by Deborah Jackson (more detailed review to follow. Maybe.). Jackson notes that people thought it was odd she'd write a book about sleeping with a baby. One wonders what people think of me, having now read at least three and a half books specifically about bedsharing, particularly since the first book was still really the best on the subject (_Good Nights_, Jay Gordon and Maria Goodavage - highly recommended; McKenna's book was good, but not nearly as fun). There are a variety of problems with this book that are of a technical nature. There are notes. There is a bibliography. But she quotes sources (repeatedly) that don't appear in the notes or the sources. I'm not an idiot. I can still track them down (haven't yet -- if it turns out they don't exist, believe me, I'll post about that, but I cannot imagine that happening) but it's still just Wrong. She also quotes secondary and tertiary sources, which always inhibits my respect for a non-fiction writer.

Here's what set me off. She's quoting Tine Thevenin (remember, I just read her book), who is summarizing Margaret Mead's research on the Mundugumor and Arapesh. When I read Thevenin's description, I just blew it right off as There Is No Fucking Way This Is True but did not pursue it; there was so much else inaccurate and objectionable in Thevenin that it was not worth the bother. Having now encountered this stinky turd twice, I figured, okay, this needs to be stomped out of existence. First off, Jackson quotes Thevenin's description, with no mention of Mead, which made it a little tricky to track down to _Sex and Temperament_. At that point, given the hammering Mead's rep has taken over the last couple decades, I could have stopped, but I was curious as to the details. The Mundugumor are now known as the Biwat, and there's maybe 2-3 hundred of them. And they intermarry with their neighbors, who include the Arapesh. So right there, any absolute (and believe me, the description given is as black and white as black and white get) generalization about the impact of child rearing practices on adult temperment and cultural behavior Cannot Possibly Be Valid. The two groups -- supposedly so amazingly different -- are intermarrying. Please. That means, inevitably, that some number of Biwat were raised Arapesh and vice versa. And that will influence how they raise their children. Etc.

I haven't been able to find out whether there's _any_ validity whatsoever to the description of breastfeeding practices, but the whole thing stinks to high heaven of (a) researcher made up shit or (b) researcher gullibly believed "primitive" who was having her on (my favorite in this category is the sheer number of field researchers who are prepared to believe that the "primitives" don't know the connection between sex and babies). I suppose there's a third possibility. Something like, (c) met some FLDS folks and generalized from them to All of Western Culture.

Look. I _really really really want_ to believe that cosleeping, bedsharing, etc. will lead to wonderfully happy, well-adjusted, emotionally secure, no night terrors, etc. babies and children. What I _know_ is that I get way more sleep by sharing a room and/or bed with my son, than trying to Answer the Call from Down the Hall, whether that's for boob or pulling up a comforter, or a pat on the back because of disturbances in the night. And it kind of pisses me off when people promise that bedsharing babes won't have night terrors. Especially when it seems abundantly clear to me that last night, my son was having some pretty crappy dreams, and woke up (if indeed he was awake) bawling and not particularly coherent this morning and took a good long while to calm down again.

It _also_ just rankles when I see someone summarizing the anthropological/ethnographic/cultural evidence as Westerners back in to bedsharing with toddlers and small children while Easterners bedshare with infants and then wean them to a separate bed. That is _NOT_ what the evidence shows. NOT.

The book has not yet hit the far wall, but it may just be a matter of time.

_Three in a Bed_, Deborah Jackson

Subtitled: The Benefits of Sharing Your Bed with Your Baby

This is the US paperback edition of the 1999 revision. Judging by the responses to the first edition included in and rebutted in this edition, the revisions were extensive. It's not clear anything was done to adapt the text for the US edition, which can be a little mysterious at times. While I am familiar with the use of the term "cot" for what we would call a "crib" (hence, cot-death, rather than crib-death, which is to say, SIDS), I was _not_ familiar with the idea of "winding" a baby, which initially confused me (I think it has to mean burping a baby, or it's something that Britishers do to babies that I just don't know about) and then made me cackle every time it came up.

As in Thevenin's _Family Bed_, Jackson is writing about bedsharing with a couple of adults (typically husband and wife but she occasionally allows for other possibilities) and one infant, with the expectation that sometime during or after toddlerhood, the kid will graduate to their own bed, possibly shared with another sibling or in a room shared with (a) sibling(s).

In other words, like Thevenin, this does not help me out at all, since the problem I'm attempting to resolve is safe co-sleeping with an infant, and a not-yet-weaned-from-the-bed toddler. While musical beds are mentioned in passing, there is such a focus on downplaying concerns about the impact of bedsharing with an infant on the marital relationship that I get no help there, either. Also, I get cranky whenever someone in Jackson's book says they never woke up when mama nursed baby. Ha! That does not work for us.

Interestingly, Jackson is more than okay with the idea of the couple having sex in the bed with the baby, even when the baby is old enough to comment if awakened. That's kind of refreshing, altho not our strategy (we're big believers in Find Another Bed Somewhere Else and/or Hire Someone to Take the Kid Out of the House).

I've mentioned in a previous post my irritation with the use of secondary and tertiary sources, and the inconsistent quality of the citations. This may be a result of multiple editions. Also, Jackson makes a set of claims about the benefits of bedsharing that I think are, in the limit, false. Depending on whether you read her statements as literal absolutes, or whether you just read them as qualified tendencies, this might bug you a lot less than it did me.

There's a lot to like about this book. It's got good narrative momentum. I don't know that you could call it a page-turner, per se, but even as annoyed as I got, it was easy to keep going. Jackson's authorial voice is really pleasant. She may not be a scholar, but she's an able advocate. Her choice of sources may be dodgy at times, and her conception of bedsharing, IMO, is so limited as to be kinda questionable, but there's a good amount of value here. She's pretty supportive of doing-what-your-instincts-tell-you, which is always nice. She includes a lot of people's stories in their own words, which is really great.

Having read as much as I have on this subject, and on the irremediably entangled topic of breastfeeding, I cannot, on balance, like or recommend this book. Any book on the subject of breastfeeding and bedsharing that doesn't spend most of its time on musical beds, and a good chunk of time on the parallels between weaning from the breast and weaning from some particular sleeping arrangement and that truly child-led anything is quite rare, regression is common and concerted measures often necessary to make a change stick, is just setting people up for annoying surprises. I suspect that Jackson _knows_ that strong measures are often necessary (anyone who talks about kind but firm and invokes the Mary Poppins voice _clearly_ has some clue). But then that really makes me wonder how relevant her advice is to my parenting style. It's tough to judge just how laissez-faire this woman is, but I suspect she isn't particularly so by my standards. On the other hand, I do not dislike, nor do I dis-recommend this book (which is how I felt about Thevenin's book). No random homophobia here to trip up the incautious reader, which was a relief, and a pretty healthy skepticism towards Freud.

If only she had been a bit more skeptical of some of her anthropological sources.

not in labor, thus, no baby

R.'s dad's b-day is today, so he'd really like it (I just got off the phone with him) if A. was born today. I told him there was another 4 hours for it to happen . . . but it probably wouldn't.

I'm not dilated at all. This is the first pelvic by this midwife; she decided to do a little bone-check while she was at it. Like everyone else who has ever checked my pelvis for any reason, she agrees there's every reason to believe there's plenty of room for a kid to get through that space. Even a big baby. So that's good; it's never good when the birth attendant is having doubts.

On an unrelated topic, Jackson is another one of those irritating people who are opposed to swaddling. Really annoying.

medical home article at NEJM

http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/359/12/1202

And it's by Elliott Fisher! I luuuurrvvv Fisher. Well, I don't know him, but this is the guy I stumbled across when I was pregnant with T., shocked by what the medical system did to pregnant women, and starting to get an inkling about just how pathetic the medical system was to everyone, not just women and their babies. He's also the guy who recommended H. Gillbert Welch's _Should I Be Tested for Cancer_, which I also luuuuuurrrrvv.

I kept running across the term "medical home" and wasn't entirely certain what it meant, other than electronic medical records, which I am more or less in favor of, altho of course there are interoperability issues, and privacy issues which as near as I can tell are both woefully under-addressed. Surprise. This article is a nice survey of how the idea of a medical home came into existence, what its promise is in terms of improving care for people with _chronic_ problems, and whether it can fulfill the high expectations in terms of saving money that a lot of people and organizations seem to have pinned to it.

It's not very long, and access is free. Fisher is always readable. Highly recommended (hat tip the Health Report blog over on WSJ for pointing to this).

WTI back up, everything else down

At least one of the two remaining Wall Street houses is shopping for a bank partner (and has already been rebuffed by Citi), AIG got a 2 year loan and a plan (which is interesting -- all the other liquidity patchwork put together by Treasury has an expiration date of January something 2009), Russian markets have been closed early two days in a row because they're having problems in the wake of the Lehman Holding BK, British antitrust authorities have decided to let Lloyds buy HBOS because of mortgage problems, Reserve Primary broke the buck and, even typing this, I think I need to take a moment to catch my breath.

A couple of years ago, when I was still reading the US edition of the Financial Times and learning a lot more about mortgage backed securities than I intended to, I kept saying to R. that this poison was everywhere, unavoidable and was going to do us all in. I'm chalking up the last few days to a successful prediction.

I talked briefly to my mother-in-law. After covering the usual (no baby, probably no baby for at least another day or so and quite possibly longer, what her upcoming schedule was with Rosh Hashanah etc.), she expressed some concern about how things were for me with the market. Which was really very sweet of her. So far, so good (obviously, like everyone else, I'm down; I haven't bothered to attempt to calculate precisely how much I've lost over the past couple days) and certainly nothing to panic about.

After all, I pulled cash out in May/June in case we bought a house. Here's hoping UBS and Citi don't wind up in too much trouble.