Doctors are prescribing opioid painkillers to pregnant women in astonishing numbers, new research shows, even though risks to the developing fetus are largely unknown, says the New York Times.
“Of 1.1 million pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid nationally,nearly 23 percent filled an opioid prescription in 2007, up from 18.5 percent in 2000, according to a study published last week in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. That percentage is the largest to date of opioid prescriptions among pregnant women. Medicaid covers the medical expenses for 45 percent of births in the United States.
“The lead author, Rishi J. Desai, a research fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said he had expected to “see some increase in trend, but not this magnitude.”
“One in five women using opioids during pregnancy is definitely surprising,” he added.In February, a study of 500,000 privately insured women found that14 percent were dispensed opioid painkillers at least once during pregnancy. From 2005 to 2011, the percentage of pregnant women prescribed opioids decreased slightly, but the figure exceeded 12 percent in any given year, according to Dr. Brian T. Bateman, an anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, and his colleagues. Their research was published in Anesthesiology.Dr. Joshua A. Copel, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the Yale School of Medicine, said he was taken aback by the findings, which come even as conscientious mothers-to-be increasingly view pregnancy as a time to skip caffeine, sushi and even cold cuts. Continue reading “Narcotic use rising among those expecting”
Writing in the New York Times Book Review, UCI Department of Art faculty member Sandra Tsing Loh discusses two recent books on immigration and identity in contemporary America. Loh’s cover-story review, entitled “Secrets of Success,” is excerpted briefly below:
“Quanyu Huang’s new book, “The Hybrid Tiger: Secrets of the Extraordinary Success of Asian-American Kids,” may sound like yet another flogging for hapless Western parents, but it’s not.
“You can’t blame American mothers for still smarting from Amy Chua’s best-selling 2011 book, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.” In breathtaking and bold calligraphic strokes, she laid out her argument: American parents overindulge their children, allowing them sleepovers, video games and laughable extracurricular activities like playing Villager Number Six in the school play, as they collect trophies for being themselves in a self-esteem-centered culture. By contrast, Chinese parents strictly limit television, video games and socializing, accept no grades but A’s and insist on several hours a day of violin and piano practice, regardless of their children’s complaints. As a result, Chinese-parented kids play Carnegie Hall at 14, get perfect scores in science and math, and gain early admission to Harvard while their floundering American counterparts wonder what on earth hit them. Continue reading “American success stories”
This past week 26 men and 10 women wrote for the New York Times. A new blog is keeping track of these numbers, as discussed below:
“The glaring disparity between men and women writers contributing to large, influential media publications has reared its ugly head once again. But this time, we can watch along in real time.
“Launched this week, Who Writes For The New York Times? tracks the bylines on the Times’ online front page, breaks down the writers by gender and refreshes every five minutes.
Andrew Briggs, the creator of WhoWritesFor (its common designation), credits his inspiration for the site to reading a 2011 study by literary organization VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. “The Count,” as it is called, annually charts gender disparities across media giants such as The Atlantic, Boston Review and Harper’s. From i’s beginnings in 2009 to its most recent 2012 report, VIDA has consistently found that men have more bylines, write more reviews and have more reviews written about their work than women do. Briggs explained his reaction to the study and his new site in an interview with The First Bound:
I think that was really the first time the idea of an imbalance in voice occurred to me. I don’t think [The New York Times has] deliberately imbalanced voices, but rather this is the kind of thing that happens when the people in charge aren’t really paying attention. Continue reading “Who writes for the Times?”
China has promised major steps to improve air quality as smog and greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow, reports today’s Asia Times. “On June 14, the State Council released a package of 10 anti-pollution measures to ease the emissions crisis, state media said. Topping the list is a pledge to cut pollution from six smog-producing industries by at least 30% per unit of output by 2017, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
“The government has already targeted producers of thermal power, iron and steel, petrochemicals, cement, non-ferrous metals and chemicals with rules to make them gradually comply with international standards in 47 cities.
“The 2017 target is seen as speeding up the process in the six dirtiest industries that account for over 70% of emissions, according to Chai Fahe, vice president of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, cited by the official China Daily. Despite a series of efforts, the government has made only limited progress in cleaning up the big six emitters. The same group was cited as the source for 70% of power consumption and sulfur dioxide releases as far back as 2007. But there are signs that the new government is serious about making faster progress on environmental issues after rising public anger over urban smog. “It has proven that environmental crises can stir controversy and greatly undermine social stability,” Xinhua said in a separate commentary. Continue reading “China’s pledge on pollution”
Here’s a fact that may not surprise you: the children of the rich perform better in school, on average, than children from middle-class or poor families. As today’s New York Times puts it: “Students growing up in richer families have better grades and higher standardized test scores, on average, than poorer students; they also have higher rates of participation in extracurricular activities and school leadership positions, higher graduation rates and higher rates of college enrollment and completion.
“Whether you think it deeply unjust, lamentable but inevitable, or obvious and unproblematic, this is hardly news. It is true in most societies and has been true in the United States for at least as long as we have thought to ask the question and had sufficient data to verify the answer.
“What is news is that in the United States over the last few decades these differences in educational success between high- and lower-income students have grown substantially. Continue reading “No wealthy child left behind”
The participants at “Lifestyles for the Disabled” do not exactly seem like naturals as radio personalities.
There is Anthony Cossentino, 29, a huge “Jeopardy” fan who for years has been arriving at Lifestyles, a daytime occupational program on Staten Island for developmentally delayed adults in their 20s and 30s, every morning with a self-written question of the day, to pose to anyone who will listen,reports the New York Times.
“Or take Michael Halbreich, 32, who has an uncanny ability to remember the birthday of anyone he meets, and to instantly name the day of the week that any date in history fell on.
“He has yet to get one wrong,” said Burak Uzun, a staff supervisor who runs the media program at Lifestyles, which offers vocational, social, recreational and educational services geared toward independent living.And then there’s Anthony DiFato, 22, who is well known at Lifestyles for his obsession with mystery novels, films and television shows. He is known as the Mystery Man because he is never without a whodunit book.
“Ever since I was a kid, I was always into mysteries,” Mr. DiFato said at Lifestyles one recent weekday while holding a paperback copy of a book in the Mrs. Jeffries mystery series by Emily Brightwell. But these quirky skills and interests can make for good radio. Just over two years ago, Mr. Uzun, along with another staff member, Joel Richardson, began recruiting participants at Lifestyles with varying degrees of autism to record brief talk show segments on a laptop. The segments were posted online as podcasts, mostly for friends and relatives of participants and staff members to listen to.
More at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/14/nyregion/radio-personalities-at-lifestyles-for-the-disabled-make-their-voices-heard.html?ref=nyregionspecial
Addressing whether research has a “gender dimension” is to become a greater priority under new plans for European funding, reports the Times of London
“The term refers to the fact that research does not always account for differences between men and women and this needs to be woven into the fabric of research projects.
“Katrien Maes, chief policy officer at the League of European Research Universities, said a failure to consider gender in research has led to medicines being less evidence-based for women and has also resulted in products and services being ill-designed for, or untested on, women.
“The issue was discussed at the Leru round-table event on “Women, research and universities: excellence without gender bias” on 22 March in Brussels, and may gain greater prominence under the next research funding framework, Horizon 2020. Dr Maes said the European Commission was considering whether to strengthen its requirements for applicants to take into account the gender dimension of research in funding applications from 2014 to 2020.
“If somebody puts in a proposal for a research project, they could ask, have you taken into account whether there is a need to have a gender dimension? Are there any gender or sex analyses that are necessary?” said Dr Maes. The Commission may also introduce specific funding for gender- related research in areas such as the environment, transport and nutrition. Continue reading “Europe sees research gender gap”
“Otherwise: Queer Scholarship Into Song” took place Friday at new York’s Dixon Place, presenting a musical review/book party featuring the unconventional transformation of recently released queer scholarly works into original songs. Notably, a review of the evening appeared in today’s New York Times. The writer seems a bit mystified:
“Queer theory, with its impenetrable jargon and radical utopian politics, may seem to have little in common with musical theater beyond an overlapping fan base. But at Thursday’s event, a dozen scholars and the performers invited to interpret their recently published books proved that even if it lacks a beat, you can still dance to it.
“It’s a really queer version of a book launch,” Kay Turner, the organizer and M.C., said at the start of the show. “Tonight we’re going to eat each other’s words and put them into song.”
“The musician David Driver, whose credits include both Dunkin’ Donuts commercials and experimental opera, captured the evening’s spirit of fond mockery when he asked: “Is anyone else thinking what I’m thinking? Total SiriusXM show — all academics, all the time!” Continue reading “Dancing to queer theory”
For some people the task of naming a dog is perfectly obvious. Others leave it to the kids. But for some the task becomes a vexing dilemma. today’s New york times carries an essay on the trails and tribulations of coming up with something better than “Spot,” “Fido,” or simply “Dog.”
“What to name the new puppy? For our family, choosing a name was neither simple nor swift. After all, it had taken my daughters a decade of whining and deliberating over breeds that wouldn’t aggravate the allergy-stricken (me), just to get to the point of agreeing to get a Havanese.
“And because I am the family research queen, I found a way to make the process even more complicated. A little research elicited a lot of information.I found lists of the most common dog names. A Web site with thousands of names, sorted into categories like “cool,” “cute” and “unusual.” And countless dos and don’ts from self-anointed dog-naming experts. Continue reading “The art of naming a dog”
Class in Britain used to be a relatively simple matter, or at least it used to be treated that way. It came in three flavors — upper, middle and working — and people supposedly knew by some mysterious native sixth sense exactly where they stood, reports today’s New York Times “As the very tall John Cleese declared to the less-tall Ronnie Corbett in the famous 1966 satirical television sketch meant to illustrate class attitudes in Britain — or, possibly, attitudes toward class attitudes — “I look down on him, because I am upper class.
“It is not as easy as all that, obviously. The 2010 election was enlivened at one point by a perfectly serious discussion of whether David Cameron, now the prime minister, counted as upper upper-middle class, or lower upper-middle class. But on Wednesday, along came the BBC, muddying the waters with a whole new set of definitions.
“Having commissioned what it called The Great British Class Survey, an online questionnaire filled out by more than 161,000 people, the BBC concluded that in today’s complicated world, there are now seven different social classes. (“As if three weren’t annoying enough,” a woman named Laura Phelps said on Twitter.) These range from the “elite” at the top, distinguished by money, connections and rarefied cultural interests, to the “precariat” at the bottom, characterized by lack of money, lack of connections and unrarefied cultural interests. Continue reading “Class more than upstairs/downstairs”
Restorative justice is a concept for helping students develop empathy and social concern. Today’s New York Times carries the story excerpted below on the topic:
“There is little down time in Eric Butler’s classroom.“My daddy got arrested this morning,” Mercedes Morgan, a distraught senior, told the students gathered there.
“Mr. Butler’s mission is to help defuse grenades of conflict at Ralph J. Bunche High School, the end of the line for students with a history of getting into trouble. He is the school’s coordinator for restorative justice, a program increasingly offered in schools seeking an alternative to “zero tolerance” policies like suspension and expulsion.
“The approach now taking root in 21 Oakland schools, and in Chicago, Denver and Portland, Ore., tries to nip problems and violence in the bud by forging closer, franker relationships among students, teachers and administrators. It encourages young people to come up with meaningful reparations for their wrongdoing while challenging them to develop empathy for one another through “talking circles” led by facilitators like Mr. Butler. Continue reading “Teaching empathy in schools”
Things must be pretty bad in California if it takes the New York Tims to assemble a coherent argument to save their universities. But this is what happened today in an NYT editorial stating that current plans to force the universities to shift to online teaching will probably wreck the UC system, fail students who need the university most, and damage the California economy to boot:
“Even before the recession hit, the public colleges and universities that educate more than 70 percent of the nation’s students were suffering from dwindling state revenue. Their response, not surprisingly, was to raise tuition, slash course offerings and, in some cases, freeze or even reduce student enrollment. The damage was acute in California, whose once-glorious system of higher education effectively cannibalized itself, shutting out a growing number of well-qualified students.
“The same California State Legislature that cut the higher education budget to ribbons, while spending ever larger sums on prisons, now proposes to magically set things right by requiring public colleges and universities to offer more online courses. The problem is that online courses as generally configured are not broadly useful. They work well for highly skilled, highly motivated students but are potentially disastrous for large numbers of struggling students who lack basic competencies and require remedial education. These courses would be a questionable fit for first-time freshmen in the 23-campus California State University system, more than 60 percent of whom need remedial instruction in math, English or both. Continue reading “How not to wreck California’s universities”
Today’s college age generation has been disillusioned by a decade of recession, the decline of the U.S. in the world, and a general loss of confidence in democratic capitalism as a promise for their futures.
Hence they are less likely to buy into the idealism and work ethic of 90s kids. But who knows, maybe they have better critical instincts. David Brooks is worried about all of this, as he writes in today’s New York Times:
“Twelve years ago, I wrote a piece for The Atlantic, called “The Organization Kid,” about the smart, hard-working, pleasant-but-cautious achievatrons who thrive in elite universities. Occasionally, somebody asks me how students have changed since then. I haven’t been perceptive enough to give a good answer.
“But, this year, I’m teaching at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale, and one terrifically observant senior, Victoria Buhler, wrote a paper trying to capture how it feels to be in at least a segment of her age cohort. She’s given me permission to quote from it. Buhler points out that the college students of 12 years ago grew up with 1990s prosperity at home, and the democratic triumph in the cold war abroad. They naturally had a tendency to believe deeply “in the American model of democratic capitalism, which created all men equal but allowed some to rise above others through competition.” Continue reading “College students worry … and think”
“Culture of poverty” and “cycle of dependency” theories have largely been discredited as biased and often ethnocentric. They also often don’t square well with popular American ideals of individual achievement and upward mobility.
But recent economic studies looking at the changing gender gap in education and income suggest new reasons for explaining the shrinking numbers of people living in what used to be called the “traditional” nuclear family, as discussed this week in the New York Times
“The economic struggles of male workers are both a cause and an effect of the breakdown of traditional households. Men who are less successful are less attractive as partners, so some women are choosing to raise children by themselves, in turn often producing sons who are less successful and attractive as partners. Continue reading “Male losers and the “traditional” family”
A new generation of museum curators and directors is pushing photography to unprecedented heights – and audiences seem to love it.
On a recent wintry afternoon, Jeff Rosenheim, the newly appointed head of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s photography department, stopped in at its special exhibition galleries, reports today’s New York times. “He was checking on the installation of a new acquisition: a 61-minute video called “Street,” by the British-born artist James Nares.
“As brilliantly colored images splashed across a 16-foot-long screen, teams of art handlers and curators were placing photographs, drawings, sculptures and paintings in adjacent galleries. “This is exactly what we’re trying to do,” Mr. Rosenheim said, “to show photography in the context of many different kinds of art.” Continue reading “Photography now booming in museums”
Male authors and reviewers continue to take a disproportionate slice of the literary pie, according to new research which reveals that publications including the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement and the New Yorker all show a considerable bias towards men, reports todays edition of The Guardian Continue reading “Today’s literary gender gap”
MOMA in New York as always saved a spot for design, and by extension, popular culture.Video games, as their name suggests, combine the ancient human practice of formal play with moving pictures, a younger form, reports today’s New York times. “But the unsatisfying name we are saddled with for this medium — itself approaching middle age, if you date its history to the first home console in 1972 and apply the rule that middle age begins when you are older than every current Major League Baseball player — doesn’t capture the essence of video games.
“The defining feature of video games is interaction, the three-way conversation among designer, machine and player. “Applied Design,” a new installation at the Museum of Modern Art — and an important one because it is the first time the museum has displayed the 14 video games it acquired in November — attempts to isolate this relationship. The games on view, from Pac-Man toCanabalt, are naked, without their packaging or other nostalgic trappings. There are no arcade cabinets on view, no outmoded consoles or computers to gawk at.
“Instead, each game is austerely contained on a screen set against a gray wall, with a joystick or other controller resting on a spare platform beneath it. The installation is “an experiment to isolate the experience of the interaction itself,” said Paola Antonelli, the senior curator of the museum’s department of architecture and design, comparing her decontextualized approach with Philip Johnson’s in his 1934 “Machine Art” exhibition at MoMA, which set things like propeller blades against white museum walls.
“This philosophy is markedly different from the one that motivated the Museum of the Moving Image’s “Spacewar!” show, which closed Sunday. That exhibition, which presented a more focused argument, refused to separate the interactive experience of playing a game from the object it first appeared in. An iPad game would be played on an iPad, and Space Invaders and its ilk were on view, and playable, in their original stand-up cabinets.
It’s widely acknowledged that when it come to drug addiction, treatment is more efficient and effective than jail or other punitive measures. Rather than punishing a human being who is already suffering, society should move to more therapeutic and restorative strategies.
Federal judges around the country are teaming up with prosecutors to create special treatment programs for drug-addicted defendants who would otherwise face significant prison time, an effort intended to sidestep drug laws widely seen as inflexible and overly punitive, reports today’s New York Times. Continue reading “Treatment rather than jail for addiction”
Facebook’s new search tool can allow strangers (like police, employers, or marketers), along with “friends” on Facebook, to discover who you are, what you like and where you go. the New York Times says that “While Facebook insists it is up to you to decide how much you want others to see, you cannot entirely opt out of Facebook searches. So right now Facebook is quietly nudging each of its billion subscribers to take a look at privacy setting and policies to be sure they know what is happening.
“The nudge could not have been more timely, said Sarah Downey, a lawyer with the Boston company Abine, which markets tools to help users control their visibility online. “It is more important than ever to lock down your Facebook privacy settings now that everything you post will be even easier to find,” she said. That is to say, your settings will determine, to a large extent, who can find you when they search for women who buy dresses for toddlers or, more unsettling, women who jog a particular secluded trail. Continue reading “Thinking about Facebook privacy”
Michael J Fox’s continuing role on “The Good Wife” and other programs has been a singular example of an actor willing to reveal a disabling illness, testifying to Fox’s professional commitment and his openness to disclosure.
Both things are praiseworthy, but the latter is remarkably rare in a media economy so predicated on bodily perfection and endless youth. Ben Brantley writes in a recent New York Times review of several theater groups that are doing similar work, however – as they foreground forms of disability and “difference” among actors that typically never get revealed or seen on stage or screen. As Brantley writes,
“Theatergoers generally expect actors to abide by certain longstanding conventions, and if actors fail to oblige, it usually isn’t intentional. Continue reading “Acting, disability, and visibility”