VBAC Flim-flammery

Yesterday NPR’s All Things Considered had a segment about the falling VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) rate. The piece included an interview with Steven Lewis, the Chief Medical Officer of Flagstaff Medical Center. According to Lewis, his facility could not offer VBAC to mothers because they could not guarantee the immediate availability of a surgical team, as per ACOG’s (flawed) VBAC guidelines.

The NPR reporter bracketed the segment with a young mother named Audrey Creed. Creed had wanted a VBAC, but had been forced to have a repeat cesarean by her hospital’s policy, even though medical evidence demonstrates that VBAC is safer than planned repeat cesarean section.

Creed might or might not have been aware of this medical evidence. But being no fool, she cuts right to the chase: “That’s what the hospital is there for — to handle emergencies.” Exactly. Not only do dire emergencies occur in non-VBAC labors, but hospitals are more than happy to offer services that substantially increase the chances of an emergency, such as an epidural or induction of labor. Any hospital that claims it can’t handle VBAC safely is admitting that it is not adequately prepared to handle any labor.

So to sum up, Dr. Steven Lewis has just conceded on national radio that his facility is a deathtrap for laboring women. Until Flagstaff Medical Center can offer adequate emergency care for its patients, Arizona mothers should avoid it like the plague.

We Shall Never Run Out of Things to Blog About

The other day Bart sent me a link to the Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics site. I had actually seen that site many years ago, but I’m happy to see that they’ve added some new reviews. Including Star Wars Episode III. Clouds of chaff-like black smoke in outer space! Missiles that turn into little chewy bitey robots! Healthy young (non-smoking, non-drinking) women who die in the delivery room of… a broken heart! What’s not to like?

Anyway it was really thoughtful of Bart to point me to that site, but don’t worry, I’m not running out of things to post about. There’s always something. For example — lunch! See, the other day I got a plate of Mexican food at the cafeteria, and I carefully arranged all the different foods around the plate: rice, beans, chicken, salsa, guacamole, etc. Now obviously you want to eat them all together, so why not mix them all together at the start? Rookie move! What you should do is keep all the items separate so that you can mix them in the center as needed. This keeps the cool and hot items from mixing too early, plus if you get the proportions slightly off (too much sour cream? not enough rice?) you can easily correct that in the next mouthful.

As you can see, I am pretty awesome at lunch. With practice, you can be too.

Next week, pictures of my cats!**

** I don’t actually own any cats.

Sunshine and Exposition; or, What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate


A couple of weeks ago, I saw Sunshine with Sammy. We both thought it was excellent. I was a little worried that it would be a little too scary… this is Danny Boyle, after all. But this movie was more about tension than anything else. One of those movies where when the credits roll, you realize you’ve been leaning forward with your teeth clenched the whole time. “What’s going to go wrong now?” “Who’s going to get killed off in an interesting way next?”

The strongest criticism against the movie is that the last third turns into a slasher flick. Garunya, for instance, was not a fan of this development. Ditto for the Avocado of Death. Dave T. was more okay with it, and I fall more on that side of the fence. But you know, reasonable people can disagree.

What I don’t understand is the Slate Spoiler Special podcast for Sunshine. Usually their spoiler podcasts are enjoyable, but this one was really irritating, because the reviewers missed so many plot points. They were confused — why did the airlock suddenly blow up? “Could that have been [Pinbacker]?” one of them wondered. Gee, you think? There was also a long discussion about why Capa the Dreamy Emo Physicist had to go into the “bomb” to set it off manually. The reviewers guffawed about this — why would you design a device that had to be operated that way? How silly! Ha ha! Too true! And while we’re on the subject, I never could figure out why Slim Pickens ended up riding the bomb down in Dr. Strangelove either. Stupid Air Force and their stupid bomb designs!

This has got to be one of the most frustrating aspects of storytelling, particularly SF. You get one chance to tell your story. If your audience misses a detail and gets confused, tough luck. I know that if I were the screenwriter for Sunshine, I’d be in a sputtering rage. “But — but — the computer was broken! We had a ten minute scene about that! With a nasty death-by-coolant to drive the point home! Gaaaah!” Sadly, you can’t run around the country explaining to every indvidual reviewer and audience member how they got it wrong.

Although with enough forum sock puppets, you can sure give it a try.