I should be happy that the New York Times is highlighting the importance of breastfeeding. But this article on the difficulties faced by nursing mothers in lower-income jobs is disturbing in ways the author did not intend.

Poor women, and their children, suffer because their employers are not as sympathetic to their need to pump milk for their babies as are the employers of professional women. Thus they are less likely to breastfeed their children, and when they do it is not for as long a time, in yet another case of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, September 1, 2006 at 8:56 am | Edit
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We stopped at a Ruby Tuesday restaurant on our way through North Carolina. There we were delighted to order the bison burger, described in their online menu as "range-fed bison cooked just the way you like it."

Not in North Carolina. When we ordered ours rare, the waiter apologized, citing a state law mandating all burgers be cooked to nothing less than medium.

I might be tempted to appreciate the state's attempt to protect us from the dangers of our modern agricultural and meat processing and delivery practices, were it not for the shocking discovery that North Carolina still allows smoking in its restaurants!

The bison burger tasted good anyway.
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 4:00 pm | Edit
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You have to bear in mind that the study was done in Britain, and was funded by the Tea Council, but it's still nice to hear more evidence of the health benefits of tea.

The actual research article in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, at least according to this abstract, is less effusive than the popular press version, but it hints at possible benefits in the areas of colorectal cancer, bone density, and dental health. Much clearer evidence associates drinking three or more cups of tea per day with a significant decrease in coronary heart disease risk.

However, the best news as far as I am concerned was learning that tea is as good for hydration as water is. Apparently the idea that tea dehydrates you is just a myth! That misconception never stopped me from drinking tea, but it did make me feel somewhat guilty, so I feel better now. The facts also conform to my experience; it was hard to believe I wasn't being hydrated when it sure felt as if I was, even if that did contradict conventional wisdom.
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, August 27, 2006 at 1:35 pm | Edit
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Imagine this scenario: After two devastating miscarriages you get pregnant, and you, your husband, and your children begin to dare to hope again. Then at five and a half weeks you have stomach pains and go to the doctor just to be sure. They do an ultrasound and tell you: No heartbeat, baby is dead, check into the hospital for a D&C to get all cleaned out. Numbly, you comply, and go home to grieve with your family.

Three weeks later you return to the doctor because you still feel pregnant. Another ultrasound: Oops, guess we made a mistake, baby is fine and growing well. Sorry about that. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, August 10, 2006 at 8:40 am | Edit
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Serendipity. Searching for one thing and finding another. And another. The Internet is a beachcomber's delight. While researching my Johari Window post, I found information on Duen Hsi Yen's commentary, which led me to his article on education, which in turn took me to another of his sites, which was chosen in May of 1999 as the Natural Child Project's Parenting Site of the Month. Investigating the Natural Child Project site led in turn to this month's honored parenting resource, Parents for Barefoot Children.

(This is beginning to sound like something from A Fly Went By: "The fly ran away in fear of the frog, who ran from the cat, who ran from the dog. The dog ran away in fear of the pig, who ran from the cow, she was so big!") (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, August 7, 2006 at 2:45 pm | Edit
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Let me make clear up front that I'm glad our grandchildren are on schedule for most of the currently-recommended childhood vaccinations. I can be pleased with that because their parents have taken the time to research the issues, and decide which vaccines they think are worth the risk, and which are not, and are willing to pay the extra costs—in money and time—to spread the vaccinations out rather than subject their children to the assault on the immune system caused by receiving many vaccines on the same day. Moreover, the children are breastfed, which helps their immune systems deal with the vaccines.

Vaccines have prevented much suffering and death, and they do work; witness the frightening polio outbreaks in Africa when immunication efforts were hindered by Muslim clerics skeptical of both the vaccines and the good will of the vaccinators. But they are far from risk-free, and the government and the medical community are doing parents a disservice by pushing vaccinations as if they were entirely safe and absolutely essential for their children's health. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, August 3, 2006 at 7:35 am | Edit
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A U. S. Department of Agriculture study has determined that watermelons stored at room temperature* are far more nutritious than those stored in the refrigerator. Apparently its power-packed carotenoids, lycopene and beta-carotene, continue to develop after a fully-ripe melon is picked, but the process is slowed by refrigeration. What's more, refrigerated watermelons spoil faster.

The news about watermelons makes me wonder if a similar process is going on with tomatoes, which are another rich source of carotenoids. Conventional wisdom says tomatoes should be stored at room temperature rather than in the refrigerator. This means we have to eat them rather quickly here in Florida, but I can attest to the superiority of their unrefrigerated flavor.

*70 degrees Fahrenheit, which according to the article is "room temperature in an air-conditioned home." I wonder whose home they are talking about, and what their power bills might be. Ours is now set at 78 degrees, a real luxury considering for years it was 84, but we're older, more self-indulgent, and (most of all) this overall setting keeps the computer rooms at a bearable level. Not that 70 degrees wouldn't be really nice....
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, July 31, 2006 at 8:03 am | Edit
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In 1971 I worked with researchers at the University of Rochester who were studying the algae blooms that were making a mess of Rochester, New York's Irondequoit Bay. At the time, the limiting factor for algae growth in the lake was phosphorous, and household use of detergents containing phosphates had fueled an algal population boom. Thanks to such research, low-phosphate detergents soon became. I presume the effect on the Bay was salutory, though I graduated and lost track of the researchers.

That was 35 years ago, but apparently we are still learning the same lessons. Please take time to read the long, but worthwhile, article from the Los Angeles Times on the frightening overrowth of toxic algae and other primitive organisms in our oceans.
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, July 31, 2006 at 7:36 am | Edit
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The good news is that Starchild Abraham Cherrix and his family finally found a judge brave enough to lift the lower court order that would have forced him to undergo chemotherapy for his cancer. The bad news is that it's a temporary reprieve; he'll have to fight the battle again in court next month.

Abraham is not the only teen who has had to spend precious energy, resouces, and especially time fighting for the right to choose or refuse medical treatment. (See also Who Will Make Medical Decisions for You and Your Family?) That he has the full support of his family in his decision matters not to the social workers; they saw that as a reason to attempt to take custody of Abraham themselves. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, July 26, 2006 at 1:54 pm | Edit
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From what I read, people are getting tired of hearing about the benefits of human milk for human babies. Let's stop making mothers who "must" feed their children artificial milk feel bad, they say. Just tell people "breast is best" if you can do it, but let it go at that, and support them in whatever decision they make.

Not an unreasonable attitude; I hate having the government or anyone else harangue me about about very personal choices. But we're missing an important point. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, July 12, 2006 at 6:53 am | Edit
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The State of Florida has seized a woman's assets and imprisoned her because they think they can make better decisions for her than she can herself. Lore Farrell's story should frighten us all. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, July 9, 2006 at 8:10 am | Edit
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A 62-year-old British woman is being called selfish, ridiculous, irresponsible, and unnatural because of the recent birth of her son, who was conceived through in vitro fertilization with a her husband's sperm and a donated egg. I have serious problems with the extremes to which many people are resorting to combat infertility, but age has nothing to do with it. A post-menopausal woman who uses unnatural means to conceive a child is no more absurd than an older man with a Viagra prescription.
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, July 8, 2006 at 8:07 pm | Edit
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Most of the news we hear about people with severe brain injuries (such as Terri Schiavo) is from a negative perspective: How long can we afford (emotionally, finanacially, and in terms of prioritizing the use of resources) to keep an unresponsive, totally dependent person alive? Would a person in such a state want to be kept alive? What does the term "quality of life" really mean, and should it be the determining factor in critical medical decisions? To whom to such decisions belong—the person (through a "living will"), the family, the doctors, the government?

Organizations that focus on the possibility of recovery from severe brain injuries through coma arousal efforts and other stimulation programs, such as the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential and the Family Hope Center, are derisively labelled as "alternative medicine" if not as outright quackery. In light of recent discoveries, however, perhaps it's time to rethink our attitude.

After 19 years in a "minimally conscious state" after an accident, Terry Wallis is making significant progress towards recovery, with proven evidence of brain healing and regrowth. Now that there is clear evidence that healing of brain injuries is possible, there is no excuse for reflexively dismissing the work of those who have been saying so for years. If Terry's brain could heal itself, slowly, with minimal outside stimulation, it is inexcusable not to consider the possibility of speeding up the process.
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, July 4, 2006 at 8:13 am | Edit
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I've occasionally wondered what we might be doing to ourselves by prolonging daylight with the use of artificial lights. A study by the U. S. National Cancer Institute and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences presents evidence that the use of artificial light during the hours of darkness is a signficant risk factor in the development and progression of cancer(More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, June 19, 2006 at 7:05 am | Edit
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A recent New York Times article on the effort to promote breastfeeding includes this interesting line:

Nursing may even produce a euphoric feeling

So if you can't convince them with the overwhelming evidence of breastfeeding's benefits for the baby, try suggesting it as a new way to get high!
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, June 15, 2006 at 6:56 am | Edit
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