Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A text and the pill

Two interesting articles in this week's Time Magazine:

The first is about an innovative health education program to try to reach hard-to-reach pregnant moms called text4baby. Basically, the thought is that lots of low-income women don't receive prenatal care, but do receive text messages. So women are being encouraged to text "baby" to a certain number (511411) and then enter their due date. Then they receive texts geared toward the development of their baby.

You know, it's a nice use of new technology, and I'm all for technology. I have two problems with it. One, it's really generalizing and stereotyping to say that low-income women use their cell phones but don't get prenatal care. It makes them seem, well, stupid. Also, I wonder how effective random text messages can be as health education. If the text says to do something, will a woman stop and do it necessarily? Just wondering.

So I haven't seen any evaluation yet of this program. Okay, I found something about an evaluation that's currently being done. Why can't I get a cool job like this one? I'll be curious to see what the results show. Call me cynical (you are so cynical!) but having worked in health education for many years, I just don't see this having the impact that they are expecting. It's cool, but I'm not sure it's really going to work. Will women really access prenatal care, stop smoking, etc. due to these texts? We'll see...

The second article is about the Pill: yes, the Pill has been around for 50 years. Almost for as long as I've been alive (gulp). The article makes some interesting social commentary. Was it the availability of the Pill that lead to changed roles for women, dramatically shifting the social fabric of the U.S.? For example:
In later years, commentators claimed that the Pill changed everything for women. But real social change required the meeting of means and opportunity. "If there were no opportunities out there, it would just be another contraceptive but not revolutionary," argues Elaine Tyler May, author of America and the Pill: A History of Promise, Peril and Liberation. "The revolutionary potential of the Pill could never have been achieved without the opportunities that came about because of women's activism."


Friday, April 16, 2010

Let's pretend

This train of thought has been spinning around in my head for the past few days, since I attended a meeting at our Temple earlier in the week. It goes something like this...

Most people who belong to our Conservative congregation--this is an educated guess, mind you, I have no hard data on this -- do not keep the Conservative-style mitzvot (Jewish laws) outside of the synagogue proper. Some of them have Kosher homes, but some of them don't, and many of them eat non-kosher outside the home. Some of them regularly (or occasionally) attend Shabbat services, but most of them do not keep Shabbat. Many of them drive on Shabbat. Some of them work and shop on Shabbat. Most of them likely use electricity on Shabbat. Lots of the kids do sports on Shabbat.

There is a kind of fiction going on. A "let's pretend". Let's pretend that people are more observant than they actually are.

So when an issue comes up, like, should we allow instruments to be played on Shabbat as part of a way to increase spirituality and connection in the Shabbat services, my issue is: who is going to be offended? The rabbi? A few congregants? Or, really, does a large portion of the congregation really not care in the least? And if there is more to be gained than there is to be lost: why not do it?

Monday, April 05, 2010


Forsythia bursts like strings of popcorn
Daffodils, happy trumpets

Children run and shout
Like convicts escaped
Throw balls
Ride bikes
Grow in the sunshine

Pink buds fold out of gray pods
Green stems rise out of muddy earth

Every year I am amazed
By the miracle
That is