"Sadly, for many, the response is to retreat from complexity and difficulty by embracing the darkness of fundamentalist unreason."
(BBC NEWS - Science faces 'dangerous times'.)
I couldn't have put it better myself. Yes, any "science" that refuses to brook critique of its theory - or even to allow it to be called a "theory" at all (I am, of course refering to what they like to call "Evolution") - does not square with the fundamental work of the discipline itself: The creation, refining and discarding of theories in the pursuit of a better description of the world around us.
I often wonder what would have happenened to Einstein if the same rhetoric that is used to squash any debate of evolutionary theory had been used by the proto-physicists of the early twentieth century: "Newtonian motion is not a theory it is a fact, firmly established and beyond question, sir! How dare you question this fundamental truth. You and your kind bring science into disrepute. Away with you!"
Okay, perhaps the dialogue sounds a little more Elizabethan - I was imaging Prince George from Blackadder delivering these lines as I wrote them, which probably did not help - but you get the point: Where would we be now if these early physicists had held onto their sacred cows and refused to contemplate change? Think how the Twentieth Century would have been different: Yes, no nuclear weapons for sure, but we would have missed a lot of the other developments that Einstein's breakthrough made possible if dogmatists had had their way.
This is about more than whether Intelligent Design is a good model or not. The real question is whether science stands or falls as a philosophy of practical value.
"The Hollywood film adaptation of the best-selling novel Memoirs of a Geisha has received its world premiere at the national sumo arena in Tokyo." (BBC NEWS)
Ironically, it would seem that this is the first time the production has been in Japan from the list of locations at IMDb.
Although the producers seem to be congratulating themselves over their "all Asian" cast, they seem to have skated over the subtleties and various hues of "Asian", incurring the wrath of both the Japanese and Chinese.
I think the Japanese and Chinese should get revenge by producing a biopic of, say, Michael Jordan written by an Indian, directed by a Nepalese and with the title roles played by blacked-up Inuits. (Well, they are North American - same continent, right?) That would be worth seeing for a laugh, and just as culturally crass.
The front of a bright green t-shirt I saw today on a pregnant woman in aerobics class: "Mint Ice Cream Gluttons."
The back of the same t-shirt: "Overeat."
I heartily agree.
Always something interesting going on in there. Here's the latest from pregnancy.about.com:
"The baby's finger nails are almost fully formed and the lanugo darkens. Your baby continues to grow in preparation for the journey of birth. He or she is totally unaffected by the Braxton Hicks, or practice, contractions. Meconium, the baby's first stool, is developing. Baby weighs 1 pound 2 ounces (510 grams)."
(By the way, this is not our baby. It is, however, an amazing piccie of a baby sucking its thumb at 23 weeks! I've set it as wallpaper on our computer. Just couldn't help it--it's so cute!)
Doesn't Stephen look rested and content? He's happy to be rocking in our new chair we bought ourselves for Christmas/coming of baby. Right now the chair is hanging out in our computer room, which will soon be converted to Baby Central. But for now, the big baby is in Rocking Chair Hog Heaven.
Count your blessings,
See what God hath done;
Count your blessings,
Name them one by one;
Count your many blessings,
See what God hath done."
I love that old hymn. As I was making a pumpkin pie a few minutes ago, so many blessings were rolling around in my thoughts that I just had to burst out in song, right there in the kitchen. Here's a not-so-very comprehensive list, but the big ones I was just feeling grateful for:
- The assurance that I'm a child of the King, one of His little lambs
- A husband who is just what I always dreamed about
- A baby growing inside me, kicking and moving and causing my heart to burst with love
- Good friends and family who love and encourage me in such delightful ways
- The smell of autumn with its dry, brisk air and amazing sunshine
- Everything I need and sometimes special treats, too
- Good health
- The means to go to the ATM, get out some cash, and buy groceries (as much food as we could ever want, and all fresh and healthy)
- The comforting fragrance of clothes and sheets dried in the sun
- Bob, our faithful Corolla
- An apartment I love coming home to
- Nice neighbors
Hope it's a fun, blessed day with your families, wherever you are. I couldn't send a card to everyone, but check out this turkey song!
Masako and Ikuyo came over to chow down with me on Tuesday after our maternity aerobics class. They're two of my new friends and we get along splendidly. Masako, on the left, is due March 2, and Ikuyo is due one day after me, on March 29. I'm bigger than both of them, of course, but I do take consolation in being the baby. Those two are 31 and 32, so I just squeeze in under those ages at a very young 30. Good thing we're not going by weight, hey.
As you can probably guess, we all ate quite a lot of lunch, which consisted of porcupine (which aptly translates as needle mouse in Japanese, which I didn't know before) meatballs and apple crisp. I think all the babies were pretty satisfied.
Mommy and Daddy took me to a kid's day at church yesterday. It was a national holiday in Japan (Labor Day) so Daddy had off work. There were lots of kids who were older than me, and another one in her mommy's tummy who plans on coming out next month. We had a lot of fun playing together. We both moved around a lot, especially when this group of boys found the drum set. The kids were all doing strange things: rolling around in boxes, throwing brightly colored balls into a box with a monkey on it, eating lots of rice snacky things, jumping through hula hoops, and doing lots of yelling and laughing. The adults were just as bad: wearing monkey hats, throwing balloons around, and making the same amount of noise as the kids. Daddy got really tired because he used a lot of energy giving an interactive gospel message, playing all the games, and running around just like a Thanksgiving turkey does. He even bragged about having all his teeth to Mizuki, who lost some of hers, poor girl. And he was really happy because the boys' team won the overall competition. I think he thought it was all because of him.
Mommy was the photographer, and did a lot of sitting in the back watching. She told me the pastor and his wife wouldn't let her play the games, something about her tummy.
I had so much fun, though. Can't wait to play for real with the other kids. Soon enough I'll be out and we can play all the time!
Pregnancy Week by Week - Week 22: "The baby is getting bigger and continuing to practice for extrauterine life. This week your baby has developed eyebrows! S/he weighs about 15 ounces (425 grams) and is 27.5 cms or 10.8 inches total length!"
Just thought of this one today, although it is a really obvious one. (When I say "really obvious", that obviously means that it is only obvious if you speak Japanese, obviously.) But anyway, here is the offending name: Anna. And the reason? Ana is the Japanese word for "hole".
We had a great time last night at Russ and Pat Bankson's home in Nagoya celebrating Thanksgiving with an eclectic group of nationalities. A wonderful spread of traditional food (with pumpkin-related deserts in cluding Abigail's delectable cheesecake) combined with much conversation, which was followed by fun games and a showing of some of Russ' short films.
In one of the games that involved thinking of words related to Thanksgiving and also beginning with each of the letters of that word, Abigail skirted controversy by callously terminating "God" in favor of "giblets", to the shock and distress of some of her team members. I was also shocked to find my afternoon research on the roots of Thanksgiving was to no avail when I offered the word "Texas" for the letter "T", with the explanation that it was one of the first true thanksgiving feasts in North America, only to have this ruled incorrect by the presiding (American) judge.
So, just to set the record straight, here is the full quote from Wikipedia:
"Prior to this, there was also a Thanksgiving feast celebrated by Francisco VÃ¡squez de Coronado (along with friendly Teya Indians) on 23 May 1541 in Texas' Palo Duro Canyon, to celebrate his expedition's discovery of food supplies. Some hold this to be the true first Thanksgiving in North America." (Unsubtle emphasis mine.)I rest my case. I suppose we would have lost to the kids and couch-potato ladies team anyway.
I have just been reading up on Thanksgiving to make sure I am not exposed as a total infiltrator at the dinner this evening, so I went to Wikipedia and searched out the history.
It seems that Thanksgiving was established as a national holiday in the US by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 in a speech that amongst other things said this:
"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy." (Thanksgiving - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Disgraceful! I can't believe that he, as a sitting President acting in his official capacity, was allowed to breach the fine line between Church and State so comprehensively. (It seems to be a much more clear-cut case than that of Koizumi visiting Yasukuni Shrine.) Anyway, I'm sure the ACLU, being very principled, legalistic people, will protest this obvious violation of the Constitution by refusing to recognize the holiday and working right through. Or will they?
A customer confused me today when he wished me, "Happy Holidays" when signing off his email. At first I thought it was the first harbinger of Christmas, much like the swallow is said to be the first sign of summer. But just as one swallow doth not a summer make, so this comment did not seem to be quite appropriate so early in the year. Anyway, my next thought was that he was referring to the weekend. I guess he must really enjoy his weekends if he thinks of them as holidays, I pondered.
It was only when I was halfway to the station on the way home that I realized: He's referring to Thanksgiving! Who'd a thunk it. It's come around again, and there will be more about this tomorrow when we report on our Thanksgiving meal in Nagoya.
I noticed on the train coming home that Disney (blech!) has posters up to entice cuteness-loving Japanese people to spend Christmas at Tokyo Disneyland. These posters looked largely like the image on the left that I stole (for reference and educational purposes) from their website.
As you can see, they are being careful to avoid associating Christmas with Christ, but what is the big deal about that these days? What made me chuckle in a cringing-kinda-way was the slogan they have come up with for their promotional campaign - reijingu supiritsu - or to translate the katakana transliteration back into "English" - "Raging Spirits!"
Quite ironic, really, as the pagan spirits are more than happy, I'm sure, with Disney's presentation of the Christmas message. Not much to rage about for them....
Forgot to mention that the use of pain medication during labor and delivery here in Japan, from what I've heard, is almost nonexistent (we're going to beg for it, but don't know if we'll get our wish). So, according to the nurse on Wednesday, you can continue smoking if it's just too hard to stop, drink a bit of alcohol, have all the caffeine you want (and not wear your seatbelt, according to some) while pregnant, but tough toenails getting any pain relief while actually giving birth! (Call me wimpy if you want, but it seems to me that pushing something the size of a watermelon through a hole the size of a lemon just might be a tad painful. I have renewed respect for Japanese mothers everywhere.)
And then it's OK to ride away from the hospital while holding the baby.
I've been learning quite a few differences between American culture and Japanese culture just by listening to what Japanese mommies and nurses (especially yesterday in my first maternity class) are saying about being pregnant:
- It's OK if you don't want to wear your seatbelt as a pregnant woman. You wouldn't want to squish the baby.
- Drink as much coffee and other caffeinated drinks as you like.
- You can have a beer or wine sometimes if you want; don't be concerned about it.
- It's OK to continue smoking while pregnant, as long as you don't smoke too much.
- It's the law to have a child seat in your car, but if you want to hold the baby while someone else is driving, that's fine. If you get pulled over by a cop, just give some excuse (like you had to breastfeed). The cop will surely let you off with no fine or ticket.
- It's very helpful to diet during pregnancy; you wouldn't want the baby to get too big. If the doctor tells you you're only allowed to have spinach for a while because you've gained too much weight (more than 1 kg or 2.2 pounds per month), then just go with it.
- Always wear a special stomach wrap under your clothes; you wouldn't want the baby to get cold.
- It's OK to have Chinese herbal medicine while pregnant.
- The flu shot is definitely not recommended for preggos (but is allowed if you press).
We have been using Statcounter on this blog to see who has been visiting, but this week we have switched over onto the new Google Analytics free service that is based on Urchin. Talk about overkill! This thing puts the ytics back into analytics. Way OTT for this blog, but great for tracking conversions (that is "purchases", not people becoming Christians!) on Japanese-Name-Translation.com.
Q: Why did the chicken cross the road when it saw a dentist coming?
A: It had flosstrophobia.
[Disclaimer: Abigail said this joke was funny, so I put it on the blog. However, this is no guarantee that this joke is, in fact, empirically funny and, therefore, even a joke per se. So, to sum up, if you don't find it funny, that's your problem, and there is not a whole lot I can do about that.]
... said the doctor.
Abigail demonstrates her beautiful stoolwork as she ties her shoes in our genkan. Yes, for those of you who did not understand Baby Munday's earlier post, this is a genkan: The entrance area of our apartment.
...so send in the presents! I'm waiting. My favorite gifts are tangerines, pears, yogurt, soy milk, cucumbers and tomatoes with homemade Greek dressing, mashed potatoes, tuna-broccoli casserole with lots of cheese, and very occasionally a Dorito or two. I have been known to turn Mommy's steering wheel into KFC. And I really like it when Mommy lies down for a rest, so will somebody please tell her to get on with it already!
Mommy says I'm growing big and strong and asking for lots of food, so maybe that's why I'm so rambunctious lately. She was so proud of me today at her aerobics class because I actually cooperated with the nurse. It was easy for her to find my heartbeat before and after class. Usually it takes the nurse a long time (heh heh heh). Not today, though. I decided to be a good baby and didn't do too much running away from the annoying machine.
You know, it feels nice to be 21 weeks old. I like it. I recommend it. Still have enough room to swim around in this warm dark place, and weigh under 1 pound so I'm not too big a load yet for my mom. Daddy did put a stool for her in the genkan, though, 'cause she's starting to have trouble bending over to tie her shoes. Can't blame it on me, though! I can't help it if she's not a gymnast. She told me she never even could do a cartwheel. Sheesh. Aren't parents hilarious? You just gotta love 'em.
From the groans of pain I hear coming from Daddy, I guess he's tired of holding Mommy over the keyboard for me to type. Better go. Don't forget the presents.
In case any of you are wondering just how Baby Munday writes his or her posts, the answer is simple: I hold Abigail above the keyboard and Baby Munday punches and kicks out the the text. Very simple, really. Although I don't know if I have the stamina for longer posts....
I don't know if you noticed, but our extremely precocious, yet unborn baby posted below for the first time. Baby Munday has apparently become a new team member on Fushigi News. Leave it to the child of Abigail and Stephen to have a mind of his/her own so early on. We're so proud.
It is a bit of a nail-biter, however, because we just have no idea what this child is going to say! We can't vouch for the future contents of this blog. Faithful readers, proceed with caution.
Mommy took me to a harp and violin concert with some of her students yesterday. At least, that's what she told me. I wouldn't know a harp from a toenail. But it was nice anyway. I liked the sounds and danced a lot while Mommy sat and felt me movin' and groovin'. It was a big workout, and I got pretty pooped out, so it's a good thing Mommy fed me well today at lunch with a whole foot-long sub and some pumpkin ice cream. Mommy was doing a little dance because her new friend Liberty told her there is a new Subway in Nagoya, where she went with Daddy and Liberty after the Foreign Parents' Group today. Then on to Baskin Robbins. It was a major treat day. The little country mice had fun in the big city this afternoon. I know why Mommy got so excited about the food. It was pretty yummy. And now, if they'd only open a Subway out here in Okazaki...
Maybe when I get big and can hold a pen I'll write a really convincing letter to the Big Boss at Subway.
With Christmas coming, I was looking for a tool that would allow me to create an simple online wishlist of all the things I would like. I am going to give TheThingsIWant.com a spin and see if it is any good.
You are now 20 weeks old. And apparently you are having sleep-wake cycles already, and are about 9.8 inches (25 cm) long and weigh about 10 ounces (283 grams). Congratulations! You're getting so big and beautiful! We love you!
Today was another maternity aerobics day, and I met up with my preggo buddies again. I also met a new lady named Tomoko who's pregnant with twins, though, as she's Japanese and tiny, you'd never be able to tell!
It was a lot of fun again and Aerobics Sensei made us laugh like crazy. She comes up with new steps and arm movements each class to confuse all of us hormonally challenged and off-balance women! What a hoot. Our faces are red at the end of class, more from giggling than from workout!
After we had all ambled along to the Ob/Gyn section of the hospital to get our blood pressure taken after the class, I told my friends I had to say goodbye to them there, as I was going to get my flu vaccination.
You have to know a bit of the background: In America, apparently almost all pregnant women are told to get the flu shot. When I asked Dr. Hayashi about it, Stephen and I saw shock written all over her face. Even though it's the exact same vaccination as in the States, they haven't done as much scientific testing on it here, so they don't recommend it for preggo ladies. Doc finally acquiesced after we pressed for it.
[Stephen's comment: This is the same country that took over 30 years to approve the Pill on the grounds that it had not been fully tested. In contrast, the largely male and middle-aged members of the Diet took just a couple of months to approve Viagra.... So perhaps the situation with the flu shot has more to do with bureaucracy and protecting vested interests than it does with scientific research.]
So when I mentioned it today to the ladies, they were taken aback at first, but then I saw the light dawning in their eyes. Someone spoke up and said it would be a good idea, and then another joined in, until finally, they were all saying they're definitely going to ask Dr. Hayashi about it.
[Stephen's comment: Buy shares in Chiron and Sanofi-Aventis now!]
Great. I can see it now: twenty ladies from aerobics hectoring the Doc, and who will get blamed?
Yep. The gaijin.
I receive Grace Gems every day in my inbox, words of wisdom from giants of the Christian faith, past and present. Mostly I just delete them after meditating on them, but some I have to keep.
Like this one:
His beauty covers my deformities!
(A Puritan Prayer)
O, how I mourn my sin, ingratitude, vileness.
All things in heaven, earth, around, within,
without, condemn me . . .
the sun which sees my misdeeds,
the darkness which is light to You,
the cruel accuser within who justly charges me,
Your countenance which scans my secret sins.
Your righteous law, Your holy Word, my sin-soiled
conscience, my private and public life, myself--
all write dark things against me. I deny them not. I
frame no excuse, but confess, 'Father, I have sinned!'
Yet still I live, and fly repenting to Your outstretched arms!
You will not cast me off--for Jesus brings me near!
You will not condemn me--for He died in my stead!
You will not mark my mountains of sin--for He leveled
them all, and His beauty covers my deformities!
I bid farewell to sin by . . .
clinging to His cross,
hiding in His wounds,
sheltering in His side.
So here's something to help you with the due-date competition: according to my preggo Japanese friends in my aerobics class, first babies born in Japan always come early.
American friends say that first babies born in America tend to come late.
Does this have anything to do with culturally appropriate ideas for being on time or not? It could be indicative...
But I don't think so.
My idea is that it has something to do with calculating the conception date. When I figured out my due date according to an American book about pregnancy, I was due at a different time than Dr. Itoh says I am. Go figure.
Guess accordingly, folks. And rack up those points and prizes.
(Oooh, just felt a little kick from Baby Munday. I think Baby wants you to submit your guesses!)
With almost 20 weeks of the pregnancy gone, we are about halfway from the finish line, so I think it is a good time to introduce our competition.
Now, don't go thinking that it is going to be something simple, like guessing the sex of the baby. Boring! With a fifty-fifty chance of success, that is hardly a great challenge. No, we have come up with something much more tricky for you to try your hand at: Guess the birth date and time of the baby! To give you a little helping hand, the official due date is March 28th, but as you probably know, these can be off by up to two weeks either way and it will still be considered a normal birth.
To participate, all you have to do is to click the "Comments" link below and leave a comment on this post containing your name and your guess. Remember to put your predicted date and time, and to write the time in 24 hour clock format. Of course, don't leave an "Anonymous" comment, as then we won't know who you are...
And you want us to know who you are, because precise predictions mean points and points mean... prizes!
Dates and times are all in JST, Japan Standard Time. Results will be announced when the judges get around to it, and the decisions of the judges are, of course, final.
... and find stuff on your computer more easily.
Now, I'm sure there are some of you (in fact, I know there are some of you) who are into the latest technology and are fully conversant with blogs and podcasts etc., but for those of you who are not, here is a little tool that may help you keep up with our blog a little more efficiently.
It's called Google Desktop Search. Of course, as the name suggests, its primary purpose is to help you find stuff on your PC. As with the online Google search you are all familiar with, simply typing in a keyword will bring up all the documents on your PC that contain it.
So what has this to do with Fushigi News? Well, it also contains a number of useful features, one of which is a (really) simple feed aggregator (that is labeled "Web Clips"). OK, don't panic. What this does is to automatically update itself with the latest posts from your favorite blog(s) so that you don't need to keep on clicking over to each blog itself to see if it has been updated.
Here's how to use it:
1. Copy the site feed URL - http://stephenandabigail.blogspot.com/atom.xml
2. In the Web Clips panel, click on the downward-facing triangle and then select "Options" from the menu that appears:
3. Paste the Fushigi News URL into the box, click "Insert URL", et voila!
Today was a time of intense birth-planning, preceded by intense Japanese studying and accompanied by not-so-intense cocoa drinking. (Especially in my case, since Abigail managed to sneak the medium-sized cocoa I had ordered, leaving me with the small.)
Anyway, now we have a birthplan. Or at this stage, I think it would be more accurate to call it a "birth wish-list". There are lots of things we would like (the main one being some good drugs for Abigail), but now the question is whether we will get any of them. We now have to book a meeting with the midwife to see what we can get her to agree to. The meeting is optimistically scheduled to be just 30 minutes long, but looking at the huge list of points I have just written out in Japanese, I have a feeling we will be more than a little over that time limit.
Ah. More names we have to add to our "can't use" list!
BBC NEWS | Middle East | Names fall foul of Israeli rabbis:
"A group of Israeli rabbis has issued a list of names they say Jewish parents should not call their children for fear of bringing bad luck.
The list includes the names Ariel and Omri - which happen to belong to the Israeli prime minister and his son."
What you have all been waiting for - the latest ultrasound pics. As you can see, this month the baby is too big to fit on the screen and so you will just have to imagine what all the bits look like when they are assembled together.
The one thing you can see very clearly is that the baby is folded in half in the classic Melton frank breech position. So let's hope he or she unfolds a bit more before heading for the exit! Frankly, that would be a good idea.
I went to my first maternity aerobics class at the hospital this morning and made some new mommy friends. One of them is due the day before me, and we really hit it off. It's funny to think we might be giving birth at the same time. Highly unlikely, but es posible.
I invited two of the mommies over for lunch on the 22nd after class, and I think they are more excited about my cooking than they should be! I'll have to make a pile of food to feed three pregnant women post-aerobics.
The classes are at the hospital, so the nurses watch over us like hawks. (I'm starting to feel kind of old---all the nurses look like their mommies just popped them out at the hospital and promptly put the babies in uniforms!) We get our blood pressure and heart rate, and the baby's heart rate, checked before and after class. A dance instructor leads us, and she's very energetic and funny. We all had a blast. On one side of the workout room is a huge picture window facing the big hills to the east, and it was a gorgeous morning. They gave us cold oolong tea to drink during the class, and hot wet washcloths for our faces and necks afterwards while we were cooling down. Seems like hot cloths would have the opposite effect, but it was very refreshing. Wish I could go every day, but they only offer it once a week. I already signed up for every Tuesday this month (as far as the sign-up sheet goes).
Baby's hungry after that workout, so I'll be running to the kitchen in a sec. In the meantime, look what's happening this week (according to http://pregnancy.about.com):