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Guest Post - Maternal Mortality

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.13.17

J, Robot writes: I'm more used to reading arguments that childbirth in the US has been over-medicalized, so this article shook me quite a bit. Of course, there's reason to believe that some of those arguably unnecessary medical interventions contribute to maternal mortality, but that's not the main narrative in this piece.

My first experience as a birth partner took place in a military hospital, and was about as far from the natural/birthing pool/midwife center experience that we had planned for as one can get. My friend was induced early due to high blood pressure, we were stuck in the hospital for four days waiting for her to deliver, and she was rushed into an emergency d&c about an hour after the birth because she hadn't expelled all the tissue. In a lot of ways, it was terrible. The funny thing, though, is that she still had the best labor and delivery team that I've experienced. They did an amazing job taking care of her, they let me stay with her during the surgery, and she's gone on to have three more amazing kiddos (though I missed the only one of those births that took place at a midwife center). This article made me feel doubly relieved that everything went so well.

Heebie's take: Maternal mortality in Texas doubled - yes, doubled - from 2010 to 2014. Two bills were proposed in the Texas house to address this. Both bills were killed by a group of pro-life politicians:

In a stunning blow to public health experts and advocates, the 12-member House Freedom Caucus used a parliamentary maneuver to kill a wide slate of bills, including House Bill 1158, which would have connected first-time pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid to services, and House Bill 2403, which would have commissioned a study on how race and socioeconomics affect access and care for pregnant black women.

Because they're terrible, terrible excuses for human beings.


 

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Around the world, around the world

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.12.17

Are pop songs getting more repetitive? Quick read with nice graphics. It's not too long. The graphics are nice.


 

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Six Months

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.12.17

Have you guys changed your news reading habits in response to the last 6 months? Have you changed your charitable donations since November?

I wasn't really online during much of the Bush years - not in a devouring-websites-for-hours kind of way. I was more NPR-level informed. I started tuning in online near the end, but the mood was already a little less grim. Then I got in the habit of following links and then FB exploded, and I saw tons of interesting links from people here, then.

Since November, I've resumed more of a daily check-in with websites from the Bush years - TPM, Atrios, Politico, etc. So my reading habits have changed. I feel more like I'm hunting for the latest update as opposed to just following stories that catch my interest.

Donations haven't changed significantly. We do both knee-jerk responses as well as some yearly donations. We always give way less than what I think we morally ought to, but I also can't figure out where to cut the budget to make room for charities.


 

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Guest Post: Good idea but . . .

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.11.17

Nick S. writes: Vox just had an interview with Paul Hawken about his new book which sounds fascinating.

The result, released last month, is called Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.

Unlike most popular books on climate change, it is not a polemic or a collection of anecdotes and exhortations. In fact, with the exception of a few thoughtful essays scattered throughout, it's basically a reference book: a list of solutions, ranked by potential carbon impact, each with cost estimates and a short description. A set of scenarios show the cumulative potential.

It is fascinating, a powerful reminder of how narrow a set of solutions dominates the public's attention. Alternatives range from farmland irrigation to heat pumps to ride-sharing.

I'm a fan of Paul Hawken. Natural Capitalism changed the way that I think about environmental debates. I was excited when I see him say that taking a more expansive view of what projects can impact atmospheric Carbon offers a vision for significantly more reductions that are generally talked about.

David Roberts:I guess what trips me up is that the scenario you're calling "plausible" involves reductions in carbon that most modeling outfits would characterize as wildly ambitious.

Paul Hawken: Our models include a lot of things that were excluded from other models. One is land use. It's given passing reference, but hasn't been given much credibility by the IPCC.

They don't include, for example, farmland restoration -- over a billion hectares of abandoned land all over the world. We know how to regenerate that, using animals, using cover, using no-till. Is there a transition cost? Yeah. But it's a big sink.

For all of that, however, the headline comment from the interview makes me very nervous.

The number one solution, in terms of potential impact? A combination of educating girls and family planning, which together could reduce 120 gigatons of CO2-equivalent by 2050 -- more than on- and offshore wind power combined (99 GT).

I too hope that reducing poverty and increasing access to contraception will reduce population growth. I don't like the idea of making that an explicit goal and/or the number one hope for reducing carbon. It's one thing to go into a project thinking that, with greater autonomy and access to resources people will chose to have fewer children. It's very different to push family planning programs with the goal of getting people to have fewer children.

There is both a long history of, and significant funding for contraception/family planning which is based around quasi-eugenicist ideas, and a lot of people who wouldn't be sad if the people running family planning programs pressured the people they were serving into using contraception (and, in particular, Long-Acting, Reversible Contraception, which is a hot topic at the moment). Knowing that, I think it's important to be careful about lending weight to that rhetoric.

But the book still sounds like a good project.

Heebie's take: I walked all the way down to a coffee shop (about 2000 steps away) and the music is so loud I can't think, even with earplugs in. Maybe I'll have something smart to say after I ask them if they can turn it down a notch.

Is this the same guy/people involved in this roadmap to prevent climate change? I can't find the other semi-recent post where I wailed about how, even if we beat the odds and address climate change, the momentum will last about 7 years before the people elect an opportunistic grifter who sees a profit waiting to be made. But that is how I feel.


 

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Will no one think of the US airline passengers?

Posted by Ben
on 05.10.17

Via Mossy:

Strikes and protests in French Guiana disrupted Ariane launches, successfully extracting new development funds from the metropolitan government. Things that strike me, with no particular rhyme or reason: even full legal union with a post-colonial first world state doesn't lead to first world development;* and that launches delayed include satellites to provide, among other things, internet connections for airline passengers in North America and for the rural poor in Brazil.

*Though in fairness the overseas departments at first glance do much better than their neighbors; by GDP per capita: French Guiana 2x Suriname, 4.9x Guyana; Reunion 1.4x Mauritius; Mayotte 7x Comoros (all imperfect comparisons off Wikipedia).


 

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Comey

Posted by Ogged
on 05.09.17

You have to figure there are some big leaks a-comin' now. But then what? There are no honest Republicans, and Pence doesn't seem like enough of an operator to strike a deal with a few of them to get rid of Trump. So, just one more (large) step away from the rule of law?


 

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Slavery

Posted by Ogged
on 05.09.17

Wait, the threesies don't get their own names? Aren't they more important than the twosies? And twosies across are impossible? I question these design choices.


 

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Guest post: Airbrushing S-town

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.09.17

Witt writes: I haven't listened to the podcast S-town, because I knew from descriptions that the topics covered weren't for me.

But I have read several reviews and critiques, and I thought this one was the best. Maybe just because it matches my own instincts and biases.

Excerpt:

So when, for example, Tyler Goodson describes and defends his intention to cut off the fingers of a man he suspected had stolen some valuable property from him, [the journalist] Reed is shocked and horrified, but won't pass judgment.
"I've tried to understand his justification for some of the choices he makes," Reed says, opting not to solve the mystery of why Tyler thinks it's okay to maim someone who has stolen something from him. And when Tyler asks if Reed thinks he's a bad person--explaining that he wants to know what people think of him--Reed again refuses judgment. "No, man, I see you as a complicated normal person," he says. "I disagree with some of your decisions. But you've also had a very different life experience than I've had."
The way that Reed says "man" in that moment--the "man" that one man says to another man to remind them both that they are men, together--speaks to the social bond they've built, as a subject and an informant have also become friends. Tyler is testing that bond, asking Reed to stand in for "what people think" and pass judgment on him, inviting him to choose between saying what he really thinks--that such violence is horrific and indefensible--and in re-affirming that they are buddies, and that no explanation is necessary. Reed takes the latter path. He does not call Tyler innocent, but neither does he say that it is vile to cut off a man's fingers because you think he stole something from you.
Put differently: Reed holds Tyler to lower standards than the basic decency of not dismembering other people. Tyler, you see, has had "a very different life experience."
I want to suggest another interpretation, one that Reed's closeness to Tyler does not allow him to explore: Sometimes judgment is warranted. We know Tyler runs with a rough crowd, but Reed presents that "roughness" in terms of colorful eccentricities. ...
Reed portrays him as haunted by fears that he'll turn out to be like his father, and perhaps this is true. But it also might be that Tyler knows how to tell a story in which he is the victim of great oppression, and that he's very, very good at telling that story--and it might also be that he knows exactly the kind of story Reed wants to hear. It might be that he was testing Reed to see if he would buy that story....
It might be that [Tyler] succeeded in utterly controlling the story that Brian Reed told. It might be that the price Reed paid for access, the exchange he made for his subject's trust, was becoming "trustworthy," becoming someone that would tell the story the way someone like Tyler Goodson would tell it.

Heebie's take: Haven't listened to it - figured we'd listen on our roadtrip this summer. Plus, whatever happened to Sayyed's appeal???


 

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Ask Yourself, Am I Adding Value?

Posted by Ogged
on 05.08.17

John Prine's Angel from Montgomery is a terrific song, but man, does it bring out the worst instincts of just about everyone who tries to cover it. What's the great song with the most, or highest percentage, of terrible covers?


 

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Meet me in New York

Posted by Ben
on 05.08.17

Hi Unfogged,

I'm going to be in New York between the sixth and the thirteenth of June, inclusive, though given when I'll be landing on the sixth, maybe make that interval half-open? Let's hang out! I've been dying to see each and every one of you.


 

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Short-term Rentals

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.08.17

I have some uninformed, Econ 101 level musings. Heebieville passed some restrictions on short-term rentals in the past year - mostly about the density of such things - and it looks like the state government is going to pass legislation this fall that cities are not allowed to regulate short term rentals. (Because conservatives are all about small, local control by the people.)

So my questions:
- Is it factually true that the number of shortterm rentals affects housing stock in places with a housing crunch?
- Is it the type of effect that would be dwarfed by meaningful new dense housing construction?
- Was there a bubble or weirdness to the hotel industry that was ripe for disruption, like there was for taxis? Or is it just that people prefer to stay in bigger spaces?

- On the San Francisco/New York/London side of density: is there an upper bound to density, given some minimum standard that middle-class Westerners have become accustomed to? I'm picturing stipulations that everyone has their own bed or one bed partner, bedrooms are meaningfully bigger if there's more than three children in a room, a kitchen and maybe a non-bedroom living space, depending on the number of people. Budgeted at or below 1/3 of a household income.

An upper bound to density would mean that there is no feasible way to make it affordable for low-income people. No upper bound to density would mean that with exceptional public transportation, meaningful housing programs, and adequate minimum wage laws, a low-income person can find affordable housing with a reasonable commute.

Is there an upper bound, but not realized within the Western hemisphere? How well do things work in Tokyo?

(I know that a lot of this stuff I can google and discover but I'm trying to generate content, here, right?)


 

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Kids' Stuff

Posted by Ogged
on 05.07.17

It's nice when you can spend a bit of money and have something work exactly as you hoped. The kids were getting into bed with us crazy early in the morning, and it was making us nuts, and damn if this didn't solve the problem. We tied staying in their room until the light turned green to various rewards, and they took to it immediately.

Another problem is that while the kids can sort of "tell" time, they don't have much of a sense of it, so if you tell them they can do something for twenty minutes, they either ask you every thirty seconds if it's been that long, or forget about the time and melt down when their time is suddenly up. Problem solved! This has been great all out of proportion to what I expected. They even use it independently for taking turns with toys, and the transition meltdowns have (nearly) gone away.


 

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Mushy feelings

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.07.17

This is about as spiritual as I get.

"I feel like I've lost faith in humanity, in our country, in myself," a client told me recently. "Is this depression, or is this the election?"

The author is a therapist.

Our anxious minds are caught in the dissonance between our belief in progress and our current political hellscape. We must understand that the belief in human progress is a myth, with historical and religious context, and it is no longer serving us. Its roots trace back to Enlightenment philosophy, whose major thinkers believed civilization would progress toward perfection if humans were free to use their reason.

The whole thing is long on specifics and I find the platitudes sufficiently sparse and grounded.


 

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