Homebirth and Science-reporting
Jul 30th, 2010 by teragram

Some time within the next 4 weeks, I’m hopefully going to give birth in my home.

Today, my housemate brought home an article from that bastion of journalism the Metro-Herald ( page 5) claiming that homebirth puts babies at risk.

The research paper in question (by Wax et al) is behind a paywall, and might well go over my head anyway, but I did what I could to find as much detail as possible on the tubes. (Detail is definitely not forthcoming in the Metro “article”).

The first few links I found reported the findings in more or less detail:

Summary: the original journal article claims that while “perinatal” mortality rates are the same for planned homebirth and low-risk hospital birth, “neonatal” mortality rates are almost 3 times higher for planned homebirth. (It also claims that if you include babies with congenital birth defects, “neonatal” mortality rates are only twice as bad — which I find puzzling).

I nearly gave up after reading the latter, because I figured that was the most detail I was going to find outside of the article itself.

Later I went back to the search results and spotted these:

Summary: these are critiques of the paper published by The American College of Nurse-Midwives and the National Childbirth Trust. Basically they make the Wax et al paper sound – at best – incompetent. It’s a meta-analysis of other research that doesn’t indicate why some papers were included and others excluded; doesn’t insist on a consistent definition of “neonatal”; doesn’t include enough cases (in the neonatal analysis) to avoid systematic error of insufficient data; includes one study that counts twins, preterm births and post-term births in the home birth group but not in the planned hospital births group (amongst other things). In short, the Wax et al paper seems to be a crock of shit.

The Metro reported that “Midwives criticised the editorial, saying childbirth was ‘not an illness’ and insisting home birth was generally safe.” Science reporting at its finest.


Sep 15th, 2009 by teragram

I love Google reader, but the current version of comments it supports is flawed. I realised the problem tonight. Reader is all about “push” instead of “pull”. I don’t have to keep checking websites for updates and going from site to site. I go to reader and, if there’s something new, it tells me. But they haven’t extended that to their own comments. If I respond to your comment on something you shared, there’s no notification to you. So if you don’t keep checking, there can be no conversation. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they figure that out and fix it, but for the moment it’s annoying me.

See my witticisms! Respond!


Sisters are doing it for themselves
Sep 7th, 2009 by teragram

Oppression, that is.

I received an email from a friend this morning (included below for your viewing horror). If you don’t want to read about the latest evil schemes of MEN who will LIE IN WAIT IN *YOUR* CAR, you might want to skip it.

I’m always amazed by how many women I know who will forward these things; women who are not at all “silly” (particularly the friend in question). After I read aloud several passages for my housemate — my tone of incredulity rising — I started to think about the effects of these things (other than wasting my time and raising my blood pressure). The kind of fear they engender is wholly negative, in my opinion. Imagine climbing into your car from the passenger side because there was a van parked on the driver’s side! Or even, as is more likely, feeling fearful and second-guessing yourself as you get in on the driver’s side. It’s ridiculous, but women forward these things to one another in the genuine belief that they’re making themselves and their friends safer.

Reading this email left me with an image of women as gazelles: tall, thin creatures in constant fear of predators. Of course gazelles wouldn’t need the advice to always take the lift; I’d imagine the stairs would be too difficult for them anyway.



> An important message from the Police – please pass this along to all the
> women you know…..
> This actually happened a few weeks ago on the M3 FLEET SERVICES!!! It was
> early evening, and a young girl stopped to get petrol. She filled her tank
> and walked into the store to pay for her petrol. The cashier told her,
> ‘Don’t pay for your petrol yet……walk around the store for a while, and
> act as if you’re picking up some other things to buy. A man just got into
> the back of your car. I’ve called the police, and they’re on their way’.
> When the police arrived, they found the man in the back seat of the girl’s
> car and asked him what he was doing. He replied, he was joining a gang, and
> the initiation to join is to kidnap a woman and bring her back to the gang
> to be raped by every member of the gang. If the woman was still alive by
> the time they finish with her then they let her go.
> According to the police that night, there is a new gang forming here,
> originating from London The scary part of this is, because the guy didn’t
> have a weapon on him, the police could only charge him with trespassing….
> He’s back on the street and free to try again. Something similar to this
> happened at the Tesco garage on Cardiff Road in Newport recently, but
> luckily the cashier saw the man get into her car.
> Please be aware of what’s going on around you, and warn your family and
> friends. LADIES, you or one of your family or friends could be the next
> victim.
> Please forward this on to everyone you know. Please do not discard this
> message; it is very important that everyone knows what is happening. Please
> be careful when leaving your vehicle, and make sure it is ALWAYS LOCKED to
> prevent this from happening to you.
> The first bit is mainly for women, but boys, please read it and send it on
> to any women you care about. The second bit is a warning to all of us!
> Some sound advice for us all, as we all sometimes forget to take our common
> sense with us when we go out. This is from Northants Police Women….. In
> light of the recent kidnapping and now murder of Leigh Mathews, I think it
> is important to read the following info form your own safety.
> Things women should know to stay safe: Please take the time to read these
> pointers. There may be just one or two you hadn’t thought of. After
> reading this, forward
> it to someone you care about. It never hurts to be careful in this crazy
> world we live in.
> 1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do: The elbow is the strongest point on your body.
> If you are close enough to use it, do!
> 2. If a robber asks for your handbag, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away
> from you….. he is probably more interested in your handbag than you, and
> he will go for the handbag. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!
> 3. If you are ever thrown into the boot of a car: Kick out the back tail
> lights, and stick your arm through the hole and start waving. The driver
> won’t see you, but everybody else will. This has saved lives.
> 4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating,
> working, etc, and just sit (doing their cheque book, or making a list).
> predator could be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him
> to get in on the passenger side, and attack you. AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO
> 5. A few notes about getting into your car in a car park:
> a) Be aware: look around you, look into your car, look at the passenger
> side floor, and check the back seat.
> b) If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger
> door. Most attackers surprise their victims by pulling them into their vans
> while the women are attempting to get into their cars.
> c) Look at the car parked on the driver’s side of your vehicle, and the
> passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car,
> you may want to walk back into the shop, or work, and get a guard/policeman
> to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And
> better paranoid than dead.)
> 6. ALWAYS take the lift instead of the stairs. Stairwells are horrible
> places to be alone, and the perfect crime spot.
> 7. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS
> RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; and
> even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN!
> 8. As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP IT! It may
> get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking,
> well educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting
> women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked “for help” into
> his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.
> 9. Another safety point: Someone just told me that her friend heard a
> crying baby on her porch the night before last, and she called the police
> because it was late and she thought it was weird. The police told her,
> ‘Whatever you do, DO NOT open the door.’ The lady then said that it sounded
> like the baby had crawled near a window, and she was worried that it would
> crawl to the street and get run over. The policeman said, ‘We already have
> a unit on the way. Whatever you do, DO NOT open the door.’ He told her
> that they think a serial killer has a baby’s cry recorded and uses it to
> coax women out of their homes, thinking that someone dropped off a baby. He
> said they have not verified it, but have had several calls from women saying
> that they hear babies’ cries outside their doors when they’re home alone at
> night.
> Please pass this on, and DO NOT open the door for a crying baby.
> I’d like you to forward this to all the women you know. It may save a life.
> A candle is not dimmed by lighting another candle. Send this to any woman
> you know who may need to be reminded that the world we live in has a lot of
> crazies in it, and it’s better safe than sorry.
> Warning!!!! Be aware of new car-jacking scheme ….
> You walk across the car park, unlock your car and get inside. Then you lock
> all your doors, start the engine and shift or put into reverse. You look
> into the rear-view mirror to back out of your parking space, and you notice
> a piece of paper stuck to the middle of the rear window. So, you shift the
> gear stick back into park or neutral,
> unlock your doors and jump out of your car to remove that paper, or whatever
> it is that is obstructing your view.
> When you reach the back of your car, that is when the car-jackers appear out
> of nowhere, jump into your car and take off!! Your engine was running, you
> would have left your purse in the car, and they practically mow you down as
> they speed off in your car.
> Just drive away, and remove the paper later! It is stuck to your window,
> and be thankful that you read this email.
> I hope you will forward this to friends and family, especially to women! A
> purse contains all identification, and you certainly do NOT want someone
> getting your home address. They already HAVE your keys!
> ….
> Brian Molloy
> Detective Constable Force
> Intelligence Bureau
> Strathclyde Police
> 0141 532 5867

How can we make him resign?
Aug 24th, 2009 by teragram

I don’t follow the news much; I have no TV, the radio in my car doesn’t work, I don’t get much time on the ‘net any more. Occasionally though, I catch snippets. I read this article this morning on the Public Enquiry blog. Boy, did it make me angry. So, if anyone has any serious suggestions for how we can make John O’Donaghue resign, I’m listening. (If it would work as a way to pressurize our public representatives into taking a pay-cut, all the better).


When does a girl become a woman?
Jun 19th, 2009 by teragram

A friend recently told me that she knows some people nearing middle age who hesitate to apply the word “woman” to themselves. They still consider themselves girls. It’s been rolling around in my head since, so I wanted to blog about some of my thoughts on the matter.

As with anything, once you start thinking about it, you see examples everywhere. A poster advertising a TV program seeking a new models refers to the (at least mid-twenties) contestants as “girls”. Marketing executives insist on referring to “females”.

I am a thirty year old mother of one. Married for nearly 6 years (6 years!). And I find I also hesitate to use the word woman for myself. Why? Girl certainly doesn’t apply, and lady is just wrong. Perhaps part of my problem is that I don’t know where the boundary between “girl” and “woman” is; I have never had a rite of passage that explicitly confirmed my new status. Do you stop being a “girl” when you have your first period? When you hit 18? When you get married, or have a baby?

The TV show I referred to above is (I think) called “Are you a model citizen?” (I can’t find it online) and it proposes to take some number of hopefuls and choose one to become a model. Thinking about why they used the word “girls”, I realised that “women” is not a word for attractive (read sexually-objectified) females. The word “woman” conjures up an image of a strong, stable, independent person, but perhaps also dowdy and unsexy.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, vast audience.


Apr 24th, 2009 by teragram


The joys of motherhood
Apr 8th, 2009 by teragram

I am currently wearing one sock. This is because the other has poo on it, as does the bed, and the urine sample bag*. What the urine sample bag does not contain, is urine. that is on my jeans, my phone and my watch. Please God, spare me from ever having to catch a urine sample from a baby girl again.

I am hungry, there are pissy/pooey clothes on the floor of several rooms, and here I am, writing a blog entry.

Tg — won’t miss her twenties that much

* K is fine, by the way, the doc just wants to make sure the temperature this morning is nothing to worry about.

So … eh …
Apr 3rd, 2009 by teragram

It’s been a while, hasn’t it, vast audience? Where should I begin?

Makes me kind of wish I has something interesting to say.

Did you know that propylthiouracil tastes disgusting?

Or that wordpress can get viruses?

Or that the plural of virus is viruses?

<looks around>

<wanders off>

Check out my victory dance!
Jul 18th, 2008 by teragram

Many thanks to whoever wrote this page: We now have a working Samba server, set up by little old me! C did a very good job of deflecting me towards man pages and so on, rather than answering my questions directly, so I feel pretty chuffed with myself for getting it done!

In other news: I’m still waiting to hear from my PhD examiners. The bound thesis has to be submitted by next Friday, so it’s getting fairly urgent. I sure hope they’re not on their holidays or something.


P.S. I know this isn’t a terribly exciting post after such a long hiatus, but that’s all you’re getting for the moment. I bet you can’t wait for all the “the baby burped today, and it was sooooo cute” posts.

One Movie Meme
May 20th, 2008 by teragram

1. One movie that made you laugh
Kill Bill

2. One movie that made you cry
The Notebook

3. One movie you loved when you were a child
The Jungle Book

4. One movie you’ve seen more than once
Grease 2 (not by choice, mind you)

5. One movie you loved, but were embarrassed to admit it
(I can’t think of anything. I guess I’m not that easily embarassed.)

6. One movie you hated
The Producers (the remake — I loved the original)

7. One movie that scared you
The Grudge (I thought I was going to puke with the tension)

8. One movie that bored you
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (so much so, I only managed to watch about half an hour of it. Or maybe it was ten minutes and felt like half an hour)

9. One movie that made you happy
Little Miss Sunshine

10. One movie that made you miserable
Requiem for a Dream

11. One movie you weren’t brave enough to see
Das Boot

12. One movie character you’ve fallen in love with
(I don’t fall in love that easily either)

13. The last movie you saw
Iron Man

14. The next movie you hope to see
Kung Fu Panda

Eh, five people who a) read my blog b) have a blog c) will actually do this? Let’s try:


That’s all I can think of. If anyone would like to volunteer ….


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