Monthly Archives: June 2009

More Iran Links

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Swiped from Bob and Mod:

Contentious Centrist: Friends of the Ayatollahs

Dissent: From Ramin Jahanbegloo, Michael Walzer and others

Roland Dodds (But, I am a Liberal!): Neda Agha Soltan – Voice of Iran

The Field:

Flesh is Grass:

Ganselmi: “Friends” of the Iranian People

LabourStart: Iran updates

Martin in the Margins:

The Spirit of Man: Loads of stuff to read

Michael Totten: Ahmadinejad and the rural poor

Mom in Town

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My in-laws took off on Saturday morning and my mom arrived on Tuesday. Everyone wants to come hang out with the baby. She wants to get a pastrami on rye while she is out here and we are going to Shabbat at Beth Elohim. Besides that, nothing major on the agenda for this trip.

Bro-in-law was going to fly out a few days after mom heads back to California but he is postponing his trip until August. That will give us (wife, baby and me) a few weeks to chill. August is a rough month in NYC, at least for me. I can’t stand the humidity. Maybe we will be able to escape to the beach for a day.

I start working again next week. Not totally looking forward to it, but we need the income. You know how it goes.

Needless to say, all of this will keep me away from the blog. There is a lot going on right now, especially in Iran, but I just don’t have the time to devote to writing.

ADDED:

Went to Coney Island on Thursday. I can’t believe I have lived in NYC for over eight years and it was my first time out there. We walked down the boardwalk, had some fried seafood and a couple beers, and escaped before it got overrun by teenagers. Next time I want to visit Beer Island.

Sunday Afternoon Tunes: Loungin’ on Dad’s Day

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Peace and quiet at last. The in-laws took off Saturday morning and our apartment feels so much bigger with just the three of us (well, really four if you count our dog). Not to say we do not already miss them. We do, especially wifey. She had a great bonding experience with her mother. Something about a daughter having a child. It was great to see.

We had a nice dinner and our son actually got a decent night’s sleep. No major plans for dad’s day. We went out for a walk in the park. As soon as we get the baby in his carrier and stroller, he is out like a light. This evening we might grab a light dinner at the local Italian spot. Besides that, it is great just to lounge and enjoy the afternoon. Here are some tunes to put you in a loungy mood:

George Duke: North Beach (1974) and Malibu (1975)

Irakere: Explosion (Live in Japan, 1993)

Joyce: London Samba (1999)

Grant Green: The Final Comedown (1971)

Kool and the Gang: Blowin’ With the Wind (1972)

Guru: Loungin’ (1993)

Grover Washington, Jr.: Not Yet (1976)

Have a great Father’s Day!

Iran Election Demonstrations Roundup

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iran demo

Too busy with the newborn to write about events in Iran right now but here are some posts and links from around the Web:

Ben Cohen at Z-Word

But, I am a Liberal!

Flesh is Grass

Ganselmi (h/t to Mod and Z-Word)

Kellie (Airforce Amazons)

Loads of posts at Martin in the Margins

Michael Totten’s website and more articles at Contentions.

Modernity Blog

2 Year Blogoversary

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2 bday

When I first started blogging I never thought I would last one year, let alone two. I started doing this to get things off my chest. My wife was tired of listening to me vent all the time.

Blogging provides a nice release and I find it a good way to get ideas out of my head. I never thought I would get many–if any–readers. I don’t write this to be self-deprecating but to be realistic. After all, how many thousands (hundreds of thousands? millions?) of blogs are out there?

I had read other people’s websites and posted comments–a lot of comments–long before I started my own blog so I had a certain level of interaction with the blogosphere (I hate that word). But having your own blog is different. As the days have progressed to months and the months now two years, I have developed a number of virtual friendships that have opened my mind in many ways. So I want to thank you for that.

And big h/ts to my top referrers (in alpha order), Bob, Kellie, Martin, Noga, Norm, Roland, Snoop, Stark and Sultan. You all have brought a lot of readers to this humble third-tier blog and I greatly appreciate it.

What does the future hold? I’m not sure. As far as this blog goes, I’d like to move towards the slow-food approach (slow-blogging?). Less concern about staying on top of the latest news and events and more in-depth explorations.

Whether this will happen, I do not know. Our son is the main priority now. I am also trying to complete my dissertation and would like to finish by fall 2009  or spring 2010 at the latest. After that, who knows? My wife and I have been discussing moving back to California. We both miss it a great deal and our parents are not getting any younger. We want our son to grow up around his grandparents.

Sunday Miscellany

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I have not had much, if any, time to blog lately but I have been keeping up with my regular reads. Here is a selection that I hope you will enjoy:

Airforce Amazons: “Exactly wrong.”

Bob from Brockley explains how the left turned to the right

But I am a Liberal reflects on a new piece by Muravchik

Contentious Centrist disects President Obama’s Cairo speech.

Elder of Ziyon: “A Case Study in Replacing Facts with Wishful Thinking.”

Martin in the Margins on Tom Paine.

Modernity Blog takes on racist thug, John Wight

Simply Jews: “Pre-election Iran, pot calling kettle black, pink glasses, etc.

From ZWord I learn of the new online Jewish magazine, Tablet.

The new Perspectives on Politics (published by the American Political Science Association) has an exchange between Robert Lieberman and Mearsheimer/Walt. Check it out if you are interested. Here are the editor’s comments:

We open this issue with a vigorous exchange on a matter that, to put  it mildly, is politically fraught. In a series of provocative  publications beginning in 2006, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt  address what they call “the Israel Lobby” and detail what they see as  the dire consequences that that lobby has generated for American  foreign policy making. In our lead essay here, Robert Lieberman  challenges Walt and Mearsheimer in precisely the way I think debate on  their thesis needs to proceed. Lieberman focuses on the causal claims  Walt and Mearsheimer advance, the evidence they adduce for those  claims, and the ways that their arguments fit with established research  on how American politics operates. Mearsheimer and Walt have written a  spirited response to Lieberman who, in turn, offers a brief reply. It  is safe to say that neither party to this exchange has persuaded the  other. Yet, though their exchange is frank, both Lieberman and  Mearsheimer and Walt keep their eye on the ball—they are concerned to  establish whether and to what extent the Israel lobby exists and  operates in the way Mearsheimer and Walt claim it does.

While my wife was in the hospital I happened to watch this documentary called “Wings of Defeat” on the kamikaze. It was illuminating and moving. Here is the trailer and some other video clips:

In-Laws in Town

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Most regular readers know my wife is Tamil. For Indian families it is not uncommon for in-laws to come visit for a month (or more) after a daughter gives birth. They were ready to fly out the day after it happened. She called them to let them know she had a c-section and that she would be in the hospital for a few days. “How many days,”  they asked? “When can we come out to see you and the baby?” She said she would be released on Sunday (May 24) and that she wanted to spend a few days alone with me and the baby before they came out. “Ok,” they replied. “We will stay until June 30th”.  I said,  “Did they say June 13th? They didn’t say the 30th, did they?” She was able to negotiate June 18th.

I love my in-laws. They are wonderful people. I am glad to be part of their family. But three weeks is a long time for an introvert like me (more on this later. In the meantime read this post by Martin). And this being New York, our apartment is not that big. How would I cope? Would I go totally bonkers?

I am happy to report that, aside from one meltdown, I have been doing really well. And my wife and I really appreciate all the help they are providing, from cooking delicious South Indian food–chapati, veggie curries, dosas, etc.–to looking after the baby in the afternoons so my wife and I can get out for a walk around the neighborhood and up to the park.

They are vegetarians so I have not been cooking any meat the past few days. Actually, that isn’t entirely true. They visited a cousin in New Jersey one evening and I fired up the bbq and cooked a teriyaki hanger steak (and fake meat kabobs for wifey) which were delicious. They also took off to Puerto Rico for a couple of nights and I did some fried chicken and mashed potatoes and am hooking up some tacos tonight.

After they head home we have a few days to ourselves then my mom is flying out for a week. Then we get another few days to chill and bro-in-law is coming out for the 4th of July. He is bringing a couple of tri-tips which is my favorite thing in the world to grill. Sadly, you cannot find it on the East Coast so I always try to get family and friends to bring it out from California. I  am also going to grill some oysters with butter, shallots, white wine, lemon juice and a little Crystal hot sauce. I will provide the recipes next month.

The Miracle of Birth

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People often say “birth is one of the most beautiful things to witness” and I always thought they were full of it. I have seen videos and it is anything but pretty. One of my wife’s friends gave me perhaps the most useful advice for an expecting father when he told me “dude, you don’t have to look.”

My wife went into pre-labor around 11:00pm and we went to the hospital the next day. Her contractions were rather weak and far apart so we thought there was a high possibility that they would send us home and have us retun when the contractions got stronger and closer together. We live about five minutes away from the hospital so we left her overnight bag here at home. After they checked her out they decided to have her check in and stay so they could monitor the progression of her contractions. They gave her a drug to help the labor progress and said they would see how things progressed over the next twelve hours.

I walked home to pick up her overnight bag and to take our dog out for his afternoon/evening walk. After I returned my wife called to say the labor wasprogressing faster thanour doctor had anticipated so I ran out the door to get to the delivery room. When I arrived I found her hooked up to a variety of devices including an i.v. and an external baby monitor which keeps track of the baby’s heart rate. She was visibly in pain but coherent and asked if I could put some music on. I fired up the laptop and turned on one of my favorite jazz stations. This seemed to calm her down a bit. I settled into the chair to prepare for a long evening.

She was doing well when all of a sudden three of four nurses came rushing into the room with a concerned look on their faces. They proceded to probe and push on her belly and fuss with the external monitor. The baby’s heart rate was decreasing at a dangerous rate. My wife began to cry and they put an oxygen mask over her mouth. I felt so helpless. All I could do is hold her hand and let her know “everything is going to be o.k. Breathe, breathe…” Soon the baby’s heart rate went back to normal and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. But then it happened again. The heart rate decreased, the nurses came rushing in, they poked and prodded and the heart rate went back to normal.

They switched to an internal monitor to track the baby’s heart rate. The internal monitor attaches to the top of the baby’s head and is more accurate than the external monitor. We knew from our birthing classes that hospitals use the internal monitor when they feel there is a higher possibility of complications for the mom or the baby. So there she was, hooked to yet another device and they were all blipping and bleeping, a quartet of lights and sounds.

At this point I made myself comfortable (if that’s the right word) for the evening. There was a low ledge against the wall and I laid a sheet down and put a pillow under my head in preparation for a long night. I dozed in and out but never really went to sleep. All the sounds and light from the monitors made it difficult. At one point I was shocked awake by the lack of noise. All the monitors were off and I could not hear any heart beats! Was this a dream? I wandered out into the hallway and found a nurse to inform her what was happening and a group of them came rushing in again, fiddling with the equipment. Aparently the wire on the internal monitor had come loose.

At about 3:00 or 4:00 in the morrning our doctor arrived and stayed with us in the delivery room, keeping a close eye on everything. Every once in a while he would get up and make an adjustment here or there. By 5:30am the sun was starting to come up. The labor was progressing but she was still not dilated to the extent that she needed to be. Around 7:00am our doctor said, “I don’t think it is good to wait any longer, the labor is not progressing so I am going to have to do a c-section, ok?” We both said “yes”. What else do you say in this situation.

So they wheeled her out of the delivery room to surgery. I got suited up in some scrubs and joined my wife. When they do a c-section there is a curtain right above the breasts so you can’t see them cutting or removing the baby. I imagine that would quite frightful if you were not used to seeing it. They gave her some anesthetic and put an oxygen mask over her mouth. I held on to her and stroked her hair and the doctor with a group of assistants made the cut and began to remove the baby. It seemed like it took a great deal of effort. They were pulling this way and that. For some reason I thought it would be a little more smooth. You know, make a cut and whoosh! out comes the baby. After a couple of minutes they got him out and said “he’s a baby boy!” We heard him cry and my wife and I both started crying. What an ordeal and he was finally here.

I know it sounds crazy but those cries were the most soothing sound I have ever heard in my life. To know that my wife and he were ok. It was so wonderful. After that they wheeled her to the recovery room and I made the requisite calls to my mom, mom and pop in-law and bro-in-law to let them know there were grandparents and an uncle of a healthy baby boy.