Archive for March, 2008

Slaves and Babies

One cool thing about getting movies through Netflix is the wide assortment of titles we can get rather than the slightly limited selection at Blockbuster.

Alli and I have been watching the now-canceled HBO series Rome, and while the first two episodes were slow in character development (and Alli says the actor who portrays Julius Caesar is an awful actor at that), the subsequent episodes pick up and we’re enjoying it.

One thing that caught our eye: slaves. Especially in the fifth episode of season one, “The Ram Has Touched The Wall,” one of the characters went to pick up his slaves from the market, only to find all but one had died from a bubonic plague of some sort. The only survivor is a little boy. After the episode was over, Alli said to me “I’m used to the American concept of slaves — black people. It’s strange to see these white slaves in Rome.” I paused and thought about it and agreed — most of the slaves in Rome were taken through conquest of territories — i.e. Gaul, Carthage. These slaves would be of different race, gender, or ethnicity — not what we’ve learned in American textbooks.

Find out more about Roman slaves here.

Then last night we watched The Business of Being Born. (Here again, is a good example of why we like Netflix — the cool movies we can select from Netflix’s list).

Here’s a synopsis of the movie:

Birth is a miracle, a rite of passage, a natural part of life. But birth is also big business.

Compelled to explore the subject after the delivery of her first child, actress Ricki Lake recruits filmmaker Abby Epstein to question the way American women have babies.

The film interlaces intimate birth stories with surprising historical, political and scientific insights and shocking statistics about the current maternity care system. When director Epstein discovers she is pregnant during the making of the film, the journey becomes even more personal.

Should most births be viewed as a natural life process, or should every delivery be treated as a potentially catastrophic medical emergency?

Alli and I are strong advocates of the use of midwifes during childbirth. We don’t support the whole hospital thing — in fact the number of of women getting a c-section, being drugged on Picotin and getting an epidural has risen dramatically. The medical industry views this as a business. You have a baby, then it’ll reap plentiful for the hospitals. It was quite shocking to see some of the statistics (for instance, the U.S. has the third highest infant mortality rate in the world — yes, even after many third-world countries; and in Europe 70-80% of women have their births with  midwife while here in the U.S. it’s 8%.)

Without giving away too much information — I strongly encourage any couple or anyone who is planning to have a baby to watch this documentary. You won’t lose anything by watching, but hopefully you will learn something.

Oh…by the way, I wish I had a ticket to tonight’s game at Nationals Park. It’s the first game in a brand-spankin’ new stadium in DC for the Washington Nationals!


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I went to meet Alli for her school project at Freer and Sackler Galleries (part of the Smithsonian Institution).

We pretty much didn’t do anything there except steal gazes at each other and I mustered up the courage to give her a kiss in front of some kind of Japanese tapestry enclosed in a protective glass.

There became our everlasting courtship. It’s been nine years since.

As our faboo friend Shilpa always says when she sees what shenanigans we’re up to — “you guys should start your own reality TV show,” to our “yeah, yeah, we’ve heard that before,” the CK and Alli Reality Show has been airing for nine years now, and won’t be off the air for quite a while.

Happy date-nniversary, hon!


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Four Sweet Sixteen match-ups are tonight in the third round of this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

For junkie economists out there who suffered from so-called “worker productivity” during last week’s first two rounds of action during a weekday, several press outlets reported an estimated $3.8 billion in loss revenues for workers who watch live streaming video at their work desk, courtesy of NCAA.com.

Whether this figure is true or not, check out this article on Slate about “worker productivity.”

For the men out there who need an excuse to stay home and watch all the games they desire on their 50 inch LCD HDTV, an Oregon urology clinic is encouraging men to go get vasectomies and “recover” at home.

They’re even offering free sports magazines, pizza, and a bag of frozen peas as part of the deal.

Frozen peas?

They’re for the swelling down there.


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Over the years, I’ve used drive through windows at fast food restaurants. I drive up to the window with a paper with my handwritten order ready.

Often I get puzzled looks from the worker, but after I gesture that I’m deaf, they nod and place my order and I pay.

One thing that bothers me is with the advent of technology, why aren’t the order voice boxes digital? Don’t you think it’s time that each drive thru has a push-button service so I can place my order by pressing buttons on a touch-screen computer or a similar device?

Case in point: This afternoon I needed to get some change in order to not put a $20 bill in a car wash machine, I decided to get a side dish of nachos with cheese from Taco Bell. I waited in line, with five cars in front of me, and when I got to the window, I had my order ready.

“No. Walk in the restaurant.”

I gestured that I was deaf and cannot place my order.

“No. Walk in the restaurant.”

“No. I want to order here,” giving him my order paper. He doesn’t look at it and repeats his sentence.

I wrote on the paper I have the right to request service. I’d like to speak to your manager please.

He read the paper and wrote down this, and I’m not kidding you: I ain’t against you. I can’t put your order in. I have too many orders. Please come in.

I’m like — what? Oh man. Part of me wanted to sit there and continue to demand, but I was in no mood to argue. Looking in the restaurant, I saw there were several people waiting to order, and since I had already been in line for more than 10 minutes, I was in no mood to wait anymore. I wrote I’ll go park. Please have my order ready when I come in so I don’t have to wait. He nodded.

I parked and walked in. My order wasn’t exactly ready, but it didn’t take too long.

After I explained all of this to Alli, she said there was a lawsuit a couple of years ago where a deaf mom sued a fast food restaurant for refusing service at the window. Now if I had known about that…

But, still…why not just make the order box more “current” with touch-screen service? Or is it a hearing thing? With many American newspapers and Internet news at the sixth to eighth grade level, it’s possible that fast food chains know the average American probably won’t be able to read the menu.

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