T Minus 3 Weeks

Folks, we are 18 days away from the due date of WEJr, and things are starting to get crazy around the WhiteEyebrows household as we get ready for the big moment.

Kicking it all off, the nesting instinct decided to go into full gear on Monday.  The lady in our birthing class had mentioned that your wife would become a “crazy lady” some time before the baby came – that getting ready would suddenly become an emergency.  I just kind of laughed inside – “not A2 – she’s like the coolest lady on the planet.”  Well, just like clockwork – she was right.  The two emotions of “holy crap, this baby could come any time” and “holy crap, we’re totally not ready yet” hit at the same exact day – Monday.

Perfect — it was just in time to conflict with a work trip I had planned to California.  To make a story short, the trip was cancelled and we’ve been working our cans off all week getting everything ready for WEJr to come so that we could try to alleviate the second half of the anxiety.

Also, it turned out as a nice marital learning moment.  This is just one of those things you do; sometimes we have to pass up what the right/best thing to do is for what your spouse happens to need at that time.  I am blessed to have one of the least needy, most independent spouses on the planet – so I don’t have to do this very often – so I wasn’t too hard to make an exception of what I needed to do for what she needed me for – as unrealistic and hormonal as that need was.

Plus, I informed her that I now have a huge chip to cash in at a later time… 🙂

So… back to that nesting list then…

Tonight I’ll be prepping the nursery for paint and tomorrow we’ll be painting.

There is some last minute shopping to be done – as well as this terrible concept of a “push present” that I now have to figure out.  (Whoever gave A2 that “Hot Moms” book needs to be shot.)  (I know, I know, it’s cute – but you all know that gift giving isn’t one of my “love languages”)

We’ve got all the bags packed, and are almost ready to go to the hospital at any time.

We’ve met with one pediatrician close by the house, and we’re meeting another near the hospital we’ll be delivering at.  We like them both, so it will probably come down to what location we decide will be most convenient.

We posted an ad for a nanny on Care.com.  We’ve had lots of responses but haven’t really earnestly started responding or interviewing.  I’ve kind of felt like we could do that after the baby comes anyway – we will have 3 months to figure out exactly what we’re doing in that department.  I guess we’re both still hoping that the perfect thing will just pop up – maybe someone we know and trust refers someone who we will feel comfortable with.  We’ve basically ruled out using anyone from our family or Church congregation – because you have to be able to hire someone you can fire as well and I would hate for relationships to sour over it.  So… we continue to look.  We do have a backup plan, though, so not feeling too much anxiety over this.

As far as a status report on A2 – she has started battling the swelling in the last two weeks.  Every night her feet and ankles are a mess – and every morning she can barely move her hands.  We’re just elevating and keeping the fluids moving.  She’s being a trooper, though, and a great unintended consequence is that she gets to wear jeans and tennis shoes to work every day now – Doctors orders!

For those who’ve been asking for a belly picture – I think she’s going to pass on that request.  Sorry… 🙂  I will, however, post pictures of our painted nursery this weekend, though!

Oh – and one more thing.  The Christmas tree is still on the floor of the living room.  Just to see how long we can stand to leave it there… (so far I’m winning)

Week 5: The Work of X in the Age of Y

Honestly, I found the two readings this week to be a bit opaque.  I could clearly see that Nichols’ article was a revisionist approach to the Benjamin article, but I found neither reading very compelling or interesting.  Perhaps I missed a key point of comparison or differentiation between them… I suppose I will find out on Monday.

One thing that did draw my attention, though, was toward the end of the Nichols article where he begins to talk about copyright and then (purposefully or not) ends the paper on genetic engineering.

The sequence of these topics took me back to the documentary film “Food Inc.” which lays a pretty strong case (considered by some to be propaganda that even the Facists would be proud of) for how genetically engineered food could be controlled by vast multinational corporations.  In their particular allegation, Monsanto Inc had developed a “Round-up ready” soybean by genetic alteration.  This gave the plant much better resistance to harsher pesticides.  Great idea, huh? — except the seed is copyrighted.  Farmers must pay Monsanto for every seed they plant with this chemical resistent property.

This doesn’t seem so bad – except when the forces of nature decide that this new, stronger seed can still cross-pollenate with regular soybeans.  Farmers soon saw their natural soybeans being taken over by the Monsanto seed, forcing them to become part of the Monsanto monopoly on Soybean crop.  Rather than producing their own seed, they now must destroy their seed crop and purchase new Monsanto seed each year.

The film is clearly asking the viewer into an awkward position; forcing them to consider their capitalist sympathies (hey, if I were Monsanto, I’d want my money too!) against this ambiguous moral question of whether it’s right to force farmers, seeders, and others into paying a corportation for a naturally occurring phenomenon.  They are taking this naturally occurring phenomenon, the growth and promulgation of a plant, and attempting to monetize and control the process of its dissemination.

For future advancements, in medicine particularly, is it right for corporations to control the “intellectual property” of an advancement or genetic modification, even if it naturally promulgates through a species?

As someone who has struggled with terrible eyesight my entire life, I would be ALL over a proven genetic therapy that could ensure proper development of our retinas, corneas, and lenses – ensuring 20/20 vision.  Surely I would want my children or grandchildren to enjoy the benefits of this type of genetic therapy.  But can a corporation essentially own every descendent of mine because some of their intellectual property will exist in every one of them?  It’s a silppery slope.

Nichols seems to have discovered the peculiarity of various court decisions that have, over time, set and reversed legal positions on these issues of intellectual property and ownership.  He points out a frightening possibility for the future:

Gametes, embryos, and foetuses become, like other forms of engineered intelligence that have gained legal status, babies-to-be, subject now to the rules and procedures of commodity exchange.  Human life, like Baby M herself, becomes in every sense a commodity to be contracted for, subject to to the proprietary control of those who rent the uterus, or the test tube, where such entities undergo gestation.  (Nichols, 43)

Through the eyes of a child

I get daily emails from Groupon.com, though I’ve never bought anything from them.

Today, for the first time, I noticed at the bottom of every Groupon web page they have some funny kid thought.

Here was the one that had me in stitches this morning:

For reals… teachers do live in their classrooms! I totally thought that as a kid… Either that or they were robots and just got into the one tall closet they all had in their rooms (but never opened) and turned themselves off.

Reneg (and HTML5!)

I’ve decided to go back to the old look.  Sorry.  The search continues for a great new blog theme.  Any tips?

In the meantime, check out the new HTML5/JS Chrome “Apps” I discovered last night.

It appears that companies are (very sneakily) starting to push out HTML5 versions of their sites.  So far, it looks like this URL (http://nytimes.com/chrome/) works both in Chrome and in Safari.  Try it out.  It’s really cool!

Week 4: Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe

For me, the focus of Eisenstein’s book focused on the cultural significance the printing press had on early European culture.  Specifically, one of the things I found most fascinating was her attempt to put the reader into the culture of the day, attempting to recreate or decode some of the attributes of that society and their reactions to the creation of this new invention and the movement from script to print.

As I read part one, the cultural references constantly drew my mind to a comparison with the technology industry of today.  I got pretty excited about writing this blog about the comparisons between this period in Europe and the past 20-40 years here in North America.  Then, by the time I got to the afterword, I was pretty disappointed that I wasn’t the only one with this comparative thought:

The cluster of printing houses in Venice is reminiscent of what happened to “Silicon Valley” — not least because so many “startups” (like recent “dot-coms”) rapidly went bankrupt and closed down.

I guess I’m not the only one to have drawn this distinction, but I did pull out a few interesting references to support my claim.

First, there is some parallel lines in the technology itself.  Just as printing increased the ability to retain data in a society through replication and sheer quantity (as opposed to using a higher quality or longer lasting data recording technique), the information age also relies heavily on data replication to ensure archival.  Technologies like RAID have made fallible, fragile electronic media (hard disks) less of an issue in solving the local archival issue.  More recently, data storage in the cloud (which sounds nebulous, but quickly becomes very concrete when we consider that people with a hosted (gmail, yahoo, etc) email account stores all of their email communication ‘in the cloud’) has increased our footprint and the potential longevity of our digital communication.

This naturally extends to txts, tweets, status updates, blogs, etc.  The Internet features many complex caching systems, and the open web is notoriously copied, recopied, and saved all over itself.  Sites like WayBackMachine show us how even websites have been routinely captured, though this is becoming harder and harder to do as the browser experience turns more toward interactivity and rich media experience rather than static information presentation.

But, going back to culture, Eisenstein painted a very interesting picture of the landscape of the 15th century, in discussing the implications of having this new printing industry cropping up all over Europe, and the people who saw the potential of it.  As I read page 28, I couldn’t help but think of the comparisons with today’s Internet entrepreneurs, many of whose operations reflect this description:

… the master printer himself bridged many worlds.  He was responsible for obtaining money, supplies, and labor, while developing complex production schedules, coping with strikes, trying to estimate book markets, and lining up learned assistants.  … In those places where his enterprise prospered and he achieved a position of influence with fellow townsmen, his workshop became a veritble cultural center attracting local literati and celebrated figures.

The printers became a driving force as they attempted to crack the new, untested market for book production and sales.  As Eisenstein pointed out in the afterward, these printers probably rose and fell as quickly as many of the small ‘dot-com’ companies of the early 2000’s.  The successful, however, ascended to celebrity status (page 33), just as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Sergei Brin, Mark Zuckerberg and others.

Eisenstein also mentions:

as edicts become more visible, they also become more irrevocable. (page 93)

The printing press created the notion that now something is declared, it would hold government to that declaration.  We see that happening even today as every initiative coming from the White House seems to come with a new .gov website promising full disclosure of the progress of the program.  While the key feature of this initiative is more transparency, it also becomes a declaration of success of failure that is quickly consumed and replicated across digital media.

One final issue I wanted to touch on was of distortion.  Eisenstein brought to my attention something that makes perfect sense, but which I had not thought of before.  Bible texts are believed to have undergone transformation and change through the scribal period.  Whether these were purposeful changes or simply human error, Bible scholars often place the blame of any loss in biblical fidelity on the scribes who copied and compiled it throughout the years.  Eisenstein points out, however, that the early printing press had just as much (if not more) to do with distortion, as it magnified the mistakes made by the still-new technology as it passed from copyist to copyist.  This is most interesting to me because we tend to look at the printing press as the technological salvation of inaccuracy, when actually it holds the power of promulgating, more quickly and more widely, inaccuracies.  Because remember — if it’s in print, it must be true.

Hot New Look

Ok.. so I’m no Paris Hilton or anything, but this blog has looked pretty much the same since 2007.  I figured it was time for a change of pace!

I’m still going to tweak this layout a bit – I want bigger text when you read a post and more width in the post area, and I need to clean up my widgets and add more photos to more posts to make it look right – but basically, you can see it coming together.

What do you think?  Am I crazy?  Any suggestions?

Would like to thank the fellows over at WPSHOWER for the base code.  If you guys want any of my tweaks, just let me know.