worst blog month ever.

I'm staring at a blank screen.

actually the screen is cluttered with open applications and this entry is a wedge forcing its way into a pre-existing collection of randomly-indented html gobbledy-gook. words proliferate like cancer cells in my mind; ideas devolve into turbid meandering recollections; unfinished entries float contentedly in the stream of unconsciousness.

this afternoon we're heading up to oakland to have dinner with scott cohen. the first time I met scott he had just finished working a 24 hour shift on call at the hospital; scott's a pediatrician but also has lots of experience with high-risk deliveries and infant resuscitation. grueling hours and immense responsibility, an untenable, almost unthinkable, combination for my anxiety-infested psyche --- I ended up pestering scott about his job for a good long time.

scott said that the first step in resuscitating a newborn is to dry it off and then wrap it in dry towel or blanket. this struck me as counterintuitive, plus it seemed to contradict my dusty recollections of red cross cpr training where the first step is always to restore breathing. but scott explained it: a newly born infant is struggling to regulate its body temperature and the massive heat loss through wet skin can drain its metabolic resources to the point that breathing and circulation stop. dr. scott says "you can't resuscitate a cold, wet infant. so if you ever end up in a plane or a taxi with a woman giving birth find something to dry the baby off with. like your shirt."

but because I'm a dork I didn't take scott's word for it --- I looked it up when I got home. the first step in infant resusciation is, drum roll please, "dry the baby off and wrap it in a dry cloth." (it must be true, I read it on the internet.) and don't forget to clamp the umbilical cord, scott mentioned that too.

having just claimed that this is counterintuitive I'd now like to ask "why doesn't everybody know this already?" that is, why isn't this knowledge part of our common cultural inheritance? think of all the things humans have collectively figured out through trial and error: how to make soap and sauerkraut and steel; how to eat poisonous fish and how not to eat poisonous mushrooms; how to turn hides and wool into shoes and sweaters. tibetan yak herders learned how to make live vaccines without any knowledge of the germ theory. surely it would be much easier to figure out "dry the baby off and keep it warm" than "take the blood of an infected animal, heat it just enough to kill some but not all of the micro-organisms, then stick it up the nostrils of uninfected animals" by trial and error.

then again, I don't actually know how to make soap or sauerkraut myself. (you make soap from fat, ashes and lye I tell bill confidently. so what is lye? and where would you get some? bill asks.) the "information" embedded in the slurry of modern western culture turns out to be about as useful as a rabbit's foot and a bowl of leeches --- the crucial item for assisting at a televised emergency delivery seems to be boiling water. what exactly are those tv samaritans doing with all that hot water? I have no idea, and neither does dr. scott.

scott did mention a 17th century medical text that recommends drying the baby off and putting it near a warm fire, then briefly describes mouth to mouth resuscitation for infants. but surely this is common knowledge among midwives or in other cultures? I asked. not the case actually --- tune in to our next entry to find out what scott's doing about that.

blogger's block

I seem to have developed a bad case of blogger's block somewhere along the great american highway. we made it to in california about two weeks ago, but I'm still stalled out somewhere along the information highway. construction has resumed on the potato palace, the completion date wavers in the distance like an asphalt mirage on the loneliest road in america (route 50 across nevada, in case you were wondering).

I'm holed up in a coffeeshop in mountain view, the dana st. roasting company. the cement floor is scarred with tile adhesive and the walls could use another coat of paint. as coffeeshops go, it lacks personality, charm. but it's always packed. and I'm here. maybe the coffee is better than other places. green tea costs $1.25, a good deal even by madison standards. there are plenty of electrical outlets but they are all marked with signs that say

Please use battery power for our wireless internet.

suppose that makes sense, if they had power and wireless people would probably bring sleeping bags and start camping in. the wireless is a mixed blessing, googlenews just a mouse click away. this morning, a new reason to gloat, as reported by the bbc news

Users are being told to avoid using Internet Explorer until Microsoft patches a serious security hole in it.

file that under "bwha-ha-ha" if you're a mac user like me. (microsoft stopped updating IE for OSX when mac developed its own browser, safari. and the malicious code now embedded in all those websites doesn't affect OSX anyway. bwha-ha-ha^2.)

more gloating

most of my googlenews gloating comes from the steady stream of bad news for/about the bush administration. like yesterday's report that dick cheney told patrick leahy to go *fsck yourself* on the senate floor. the cracks are starting to show. the washington post's coverage was particularly amusing.

paul krugman points out that g. w.'s *straight-talking straight-shooting* persona was a media fiction all along ( To Tell the Truth 28 may 2004). sydney schanberg of the village voice exposes the weasel wording of a letter bush sent to both houses of congress on march 21, 2003, the day after he began bombarding iraq:

I have also determined that the use of armed force against Iraq is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

now bush says he never claimed that hussein was connected to the the 9/11 attacks. so what exactly is that reference to 9/11 doing in the same sentence with his announcement of the use of armed force against iraq? as quoted in

The President wants to link Al Qaeda and Iraq, but the knot keeps slipping:
Bush's 9-11 Problem

it depends on what the meaning of "is" is

according to thomas h. kean, chairman of the commission investigating the attacks on sept. 11 there is no contradiction between the commission's finding that there was no "collaborative relationship" between al qaeda and saddam hussein and the bush administration's increasingly shrill insistence of "connections" and "links" between the two because

All of us understand that when you begin to use words like "relationship" and "ties" and "connections" and "contacts" everybody has a little different definition of with regard to those statements.

kean's remarks on the abc news program "this week" were quoted in the new york times on 21 june 04 in an article by susan jo keller entitled "9/11 panel members debate qaeda-iraq 'tie'."

also worth a read:
because I say so by leonard pitts jr.

more blog-O-rama
entries from 05.04