Saturday, June 17, 2006

This Week's Recommended Reading

From Ash:

Choosing Your Baby's Sex

(Apart from major news stories) I think the most perturbing story I saw this week was an AP story about parents' choosing the gender of their children. We've had a Huxleyian debate whether or not it was happening, was a good thing, for years now, but it turns out that the US is becoming destination for wealthy couples from elsewhere around the world who want to choose their child's gender. At first, I thought it was that they were using ultrasound, then aborting a child of the wrong sex. Instead, it turns out that they artificially inseminate a few eggs, then wait far enough in the process to determine the sex: when it's the "right one," that's what they go with. I can't tell how widely this is going on, probably not that much, but it's still frightening enough that I expect that some newsmagazines (print or t.v.) and other venues will be picking this up in the near future.

Education Making a Difference Beyond the Classroom

On the other hand, I was surprised how unfortunately little coverage this story got. A Harvard prof, looking at the rate of deaths in hospitals due to error -- an estimated 44,000 to 98,000 deaths per anum -- decided to create a six-point program to address these problems. He convinced 3,100 hospitals to sign up for the program. After 18 months, they determined that the program probably saved 120,000 lives or more.

AP also reported on much smaller program -- but with just as worthy a goal. Following the example of a few other states, Maine is training its beauty salon employees to recognize the symptoms of domestic violence in their clients, hoping that the stylists, who see women on a regular basis, in a non-threatening environment, will be able to refer those who need help to services they need.


The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times had two twists on the normal coverage of urban redevelopment. First, the Post reported that there's an unlikely way to spot gentrification in the District of Columbia: new yoga studios are opened in areas that are just on the verge of being up-and-coming. (And here I was thinking it was the arrival of a Starbucks on every corner.) And the LAT reported that a result of gentrification is that school enrollment in some LA urban areas is fallen because of gentrification. That's not a new or unique problem, but here, it's actually sort of a good thing -- not that poorer families are being economically forced out of the area -- but that it is slightly alleviating the horrendous overcrowding of schools in those areas.

The Mosquito Ring Tone

The New York Times had a piece this week about a new phone ring tone that is a high enough frequency that teens can hear, but an adult often can't, due to "aging ear." This story hit their "most emailed" list for a couple days, but, for my money, NPR's coverage a couple weeks ago was better. Why? Because they had a sample of the tone on its website as well, and I could still hear it, proving I'm not old after all!!

"Breast feed or else"

The Times fared better on this piece, "Breast feed or else" about the movement to encourage (force?) women to breast feed their children until they're six months old.

Student Loans

Granted, I'm particularly sensitive to the subject, having a loan pay-off date of 2035, but I also was intrigued by the NYT Magazine piece on how some colleges are addressing the student loan problem -- that college debt forces people into careers that they don't really want, etc. -- and how colleges and other countries are trying to remedy this program with grants, different repayment plans, etc.

Uncle Wil

Not directly newsworthy, but for a truly heartwrenching look at the complex fate of the African-American underclass, don't miss Wil Haygood's autobiographical feature in the Washington Post Magazine. At times, you'll probably be angered by the piece, wondering why the members of his family aren't more pro-active removing children from their drug-ridden, neglectful parents, but Haygood constantly reminds you that, as messed up as they are, the parents love their kids, too, and that there is no easy answer.

But Did She Say Yes??

Paging Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me: AP reported that an Ann Arbor man was trying convince his girlfriend that they should get married, but she wasn't sure she was ready to take the big leap of faith. He decided to prove to her that sometimes, you gotta take a risk. So he stripped naked, jumped out of a first-story window and ran across the street. When a neighbor, hearing what he thought was a prowler, promptly chased and then shot him. The guy is all right, and neither man is pressing charges. But in the most egregious factual omission in an article I can recall in quite a while, the reporter never said if the couple got engaged. Not that you can blame the girl, if she said "No."


Blogger Andreia said...

I can't hear it! How annoying!! Im blaming it on a A Flock of Seagulls concert a few years back. : )

8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find this interesting. A few days ago there was much brouhaha over some 10million missing women in India, a topic over which I participated in a BBC World call-in and gave my egregious views on female foeticide and infanticide NOT being the norm in India, to oppose a sociology professor who complained her parents discriminated against her and favoured her brothers (which must be how she became educated enough to be a professor!). So how is this any better? This gender choice s**t? The pathway does not matter - just because you do not abort does not mean you do not flush down the unwanted embryos..

This brings me to the point - if more Americans understood what happens in IVF they would probably consider stem cell research a good use of those embryos which are otherwise bound to be flushed...

6:52 PM  
Anonymous surrogacy said...

Great Post.....

I found your site on stumbleupon and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

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9:02 PM  

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