Contemplating the Strength of Women

08.12.13

Thursday night I introduced Jennifer Margulis at Vroman’s bookstore. It was a convergence of brilliance as she and Dr. Fishbein talked about prenatal care in America, birth, homebirth and baby’s first year (with an emphasis on baby’s first hours). Predictably the conversation left me with pain in my womb.

I did not love being pregnant. I did not want to experience labor and I will forever remember being alone in my apartment, a newlywed, and looking at my growing belly while recognizing that there was only one way for this baby to leave me and that it was very much the wrong size for my vagina. I panicked and cried for an hour or so, and then I cried for another 5 months.

If anyone would have suggested homebirth to me I’m unclear if I would have killed them or myself. I only know that someone would have died. So you see this isn’t a book that I would “want” or “enjoy” but it’s investigative journalism and it’s meticulously footnoted journalism. It’s the kind of writing that makes people uncomfortable, forces them to think and has the ability to either shatter or reinforce previously held beliefs.

I didn’t read the chapter on circumcision. I just couldn’t.

I did read the chapter about vaccines and I still don’t know what Jennifer’s statement is on vaccines. I know what mine is. She offers up evidence all sorts of ways both pro and con. I don’t have much patience for the anti vaccine crowd their love of pseudoscience and anecdotes makes me punchy.

I do think hospital births make breastfeeding more difficult and I recognize that as a massive problem. Books like this won’t bring an end to formula marketing in birth settings but if enough mothers read it maybe they’ll feel empowered to say, “No, my baby won’t go to the nursery.” If you want to give birth in a bathtub go for it, but if you love me please never tell me about it. I get woozy.

I’m rambling. I guess I felt like it was important for me to state that though I am completely and utterly in awe of Jennifer Margulis’ research and writing skills I would probably kill myself before I’d give birth without an epidural. In fact you can change that probably to definitely. Jennifer wrote a book that’s going to make people uncomfortable. She offers up facts and I think almost a third of the book is footnotes so it’s clearly not much in the way of opinion.

For the record: My opinion is that 89234893 footnotes aren’t enough to make me rethink my epidural. Are you seeing a theme?

Here’s what happened and I’m curious to see if anyone else is more than slightly horrified. <– that’s me being not objective. I am a blogger. I specialize in opinion and hyperbole.

The New York Times published a scathing review of the book. Not just bad, but mean spirited and it ends with the words, “Just because something is for sale doesn’t necessarily mean it’s suspect. Caveat emptor has been good advice for a very long time; I advise you to apply it when considering whether to buy ‘The Business of Baby.'”

After I picked the jaw up off the floor I was like, “OMG what did Jennifer to do piss her off”? Because that was personal. It was almost like an ex writing your book review. Then something truly shocking happened, I searched for Annie Murphy Paul on facebook. I was trying to find the source of the venom when I realized we have 34 mutual friends. One of our mutual friends is Jennifer Margulis.

So she reviewed her friend’s book? Also with friends like this who needs…. you know how that sentence ends.

Oh Facebook, you really have redefined friend for us haven’t you?

Annie Murphy Paul Facebook

The fourth from the left in the blue shirt? That’s the lady whose book she reviewed.

I love bloggers for what they are. I love that we’re unedited and unrestrained. I love that we point fingers and tell you who we like and don’t like. I love that bloggers don’t have journalistic standards to adhere to and when bloggers show little bits of journalistic integrity I can get super excited and feel like I just found a chupacabra or a leprechaun (pick your region).

I love that bloggers and journalists are so very different. I enjoy The New York Times so much I even enjoy a paper version (to be fair it’s always BBQ season in LA and I need the paper to stuff the chimney).

I was deflated to find that a New York Times Book Review was written by someone who knew the author. I don’t know if they’re friends IRL (mom, that stands for In Real Life) or if their circles of friends are so incestuous that they just sort of needed to know each other, but I love those staid old papers. I love journalists and journalism and all that blogging isn’t for me and my peers. I look to the New York Times Book Review for solid recommendations and now, knowing this, I just can’t. I just don’t.

It’s a huge bummer.

 

 

 

 

Technology Can’t Help But Change Us

02.14.13

Today’s news story is an unavoidable one for me. If you go on over to Tesla’s site you’ll see a post by Elon Musk which counters John Broder’s New York Times review of the Tesla S by using the vehicle logs.

Counters is too kind a word. Musk demonstrates that John Broder lied and that The New York Times published it. This breaks my heart into a million pieces because I adore NYT automotive reviews. Musk does have a point though when he ressurects Broder’s words, “Yet the state of the electric car is dismal, the victim of hyped expectations, technological flops, high costs and a hostile political climate.”

These charts (if they are accurate) would Broder to be an inaccurate reporter at best and a liar at worst.

Tesla broder climate control

john broder media drive

 

The reality is that the technology that’s built into the Tesla is present in every car with a GPS system and if your vehicle doesn’t have one there are a ton of options just google “fleet managers tracking device”.

This is an interesting story because the much maligned Tesla (okay maybe not much but Top Gear sandbagged them too) is the first car company that I recall to come out after a negative review and present hard to dispute data that the reporter is not to be trusted. To be fair Tesla is a new company, a groundbreaking new company and unlike the Detroit establishment there’s a very real need to be assertive, bombastic when necessary. I occasionally get media drives and currently I’m struggling with how to describe a car that people really might need and I hated driving. You see there’s the car review… it’s a car, it performs like this and like that… and then there’s the car review which lets the reader know how it fits into their life, budget and aspirations. The car review and the car review are sometimes at odds with one another and Musk’s preemptive use of technology may change the way things are done.

Before Musk’s post Broder had written a follow up blog post asserting that he was truthful in his review. I wonder if there will be a follow up to the follow up?

We can’t help ourselves from using and manipulating technology. It’s made us distant and it draws us nearer and now it’s going to make a fool of someone and a large pool of people will be on notice to get honest. Fast.

And since we’re back on the subject of cars don’t miss this video. Juan perfectly describes what it is to love cars and kids.

Don’t Bother Mommy She’s Rabid Right Now

03.14.10

Honey, Don’t Bother Mommy. I’m Too Busy Building My Brand was printed today at the New York Times. You don’t have to read it. It’s written with a self loathing pen. Jennifer Mendelson may understand writing, but she clearly doesn’t understand what a conference is. Bloggy Boot Camp is different from other conferences in that it’s attendees are a homogeneous group, but aside from that it offers a good mix of education and networking.

Ask me why I’d get a babysitter for my kids (my mother is the babysitter don’t froth), fly to Vegas at noon, keynote a small but important conference, and fly back in time to tuck my kids in?

Ask me. Because I’ll tell you.

Tiffany.

Tiffany is the reason why I’d drop everything and break my two biggest rules of blogging.

I don’t work free
Blogging doesn’t take away from family time

When Tiffany asks me if I can give up a day of my life, talk to a room full of my peers and not get paid I squee in delight. That woman gives more than she takes, and when I get a chance to give back, I do.

So, when an article hits the New York Times talking about the silliness of Mommy Blogging, and I’ll grant you there is silliness, I take great offense. I don’t take great offense because it’s so wholly inaccurate, truth can be found and manipulated anywhere. 24,000 hits to a single post on any website matters, it doesn’t matter if it’s for your tutu. Moms talk about tutu’s, when did that become a revelation?

I know the author is a blogger too, and there’s some self loathing that comes along with being a Mommy Blogger. I’m a Mommy Blogger, I get it. The pseudonyms in use are ridiculous, but that’s something we talk about inside our community, not outside.

If you’re a Mommy Blogger get used to small doses of ridicule. They will come from two sides, people who don’t have kids yet and think we are silly (trust me they mock us in real life too) and parents who don’t blog, and are a bit jealous. That’s all.

She’s right in that many of these women will never make “real money” with blogging, but when my kids were tiny a few boxes of diapers or an extra stroller would have helped us out quite a bit. The reality is that your blog can serve as a resume. When people ask me if I have one I just point them here. If you think you want to make money with your blog, or just create a place online to showcase your talents Bloggy Boot Camp will help you.

I resent the title. Since the New York Times has it’s very own Mommy Blogger in Lisa Belkin, I can’t help but wonder if she, too blanched a little.

Now That Harvard Has a Sullied Reputation

03.3.09

It’s not according to me, it’s the New York Times and the Chronicles of Higher Ed

harvard-jessica-gottliebDo you think we can start trusting ourselves a little more?
I have two degrees, and two children. Guess which duo gives me more expertise?

new-york-times-jessica-gottlieb-harvard

Unlike the nightly news, I won’t insult your intelligence by telling you how to interpret this.

The full text of Harvard’s latest Sanctimommy Spank is here, and you can decide for yourself if you know more than they do.

*curtsy*