Weeks 11–19

Will my child be bald?

In weeks 14th—17th the fetus grows hair. I was very upset that time ‘cause it looked like I was going to get laid off. So Zack kept telling me that due to all that worry, we will have a bald child as the fetus will lose all his/her hair. So what choice do I have?

Why the starter for life can endanger the life itself?

Besides major cramping and nasal congestion, rest of my first trimester ended fine so when the 18th week started, our doc gave us a “go ahead” for intercourse (they prefer to avoid calling sex). He said but masturbation is not allowed and the question comes “why? is it because it’s always better?” And to my surprise answer came out to be yes which I had said as a joke. My doc said masturbation in women results in a much stronger stimulation than regular sex so stay away from it.

I shared it with another friend of mine who is pregnant herself so she asked it from her ob/gyn at her next visit if she can use her paw or vibrator and the doctor’s eyes were wide open, unable to reply for a few minutes. I guess it’s still not good that women talk about it. They just do it quietly.

We were quite excited as nothing had stopped us in last 10 years 🙂 before. We planned like it’s our first time or at least we felt it that way. Everything went smooth from candle-light dinner to nice cuddling etc.

48 hours later I was spotting again. First few days I thought it will go away and on day 3, I called my doc who asked me to come right away for a check up. Everything looked fine. So they asked “were you sexually active before it started?” and it reminds you of teenage years when your mom asks you what were you doing talking so late on phone with a guy like what can you do beside talking but..and very shyly like we have made a mistake, we both agreed that we shared the bed one night. And the doctor was like “No, you can’t do it then.” We were like but you said it’s ok and they said “no, not any more. SEX is not for you.”

Progress of the fetus

During the 19th week,

This is an impressive week for growth! The baby will increase in weight to 8 ounces (227 grams)! If you are having a girl, her ovaries now contain primitive egg cells. Lanugo appears all over the baby’s body. This fine hair will remain until birth draws nearer. Sometimes you can still see some on the baby’s face and ears after birth.

Permanent teeth buds are forming behind the already formed milk teeth buds.

Semi-Hiatus

I am going on a semi-hiatus. What that means is that I’ll still be posting but more irregularly. I am trying to get Amber and Captain Arrrgh to write more regularly. Let’s see how that works out.

I have got to work on my thesis. Plus I had some surgery done yesterday and am a bit under the weather right now.

The Jingoists Have Won

I have been hopping mad since yesterday. Somehow I waded into the warbloggers’ world and found everyone berating the Spanish for letting the terrorists win.

I disagree. The terrorists did win. But not on sunday. They won on thursday when they killed 200 people. On sunday, the Socialist party won.

I don’t understand what the hooplah is all about. A major terrorist act affected the outcome of a national election. Well, duh! What else did you expect? That the Spaniards would totally ignore the attack, the casualties and the conduct of their government and vote according to their preferences on wednesday? What should a Spaniard voter have done? If she was going to vote for Aznar’s party, then not change her mind in the last 3 days? If he was planning on voting for the communists, then not switch to the socialists? If she had decided to abstain, then she shouldn’t have changed her mind at the last minute and voted?

If you look at the election results, it seems that not many Popular party supporters switched. The support of voters of some minor parties of the left and an increase in voter turnout were also factors.

Imagine if there was a US election was scheduled for September 14, 2001. Do you expect that the election results would have been exactly the same as the polling on September 10 had shown? So terrorism, war, economy, etc. affect elections. Great insight!

And it isn’t the first time terrorism has affected elections, though the first with such media coverage and a clear swing in the last 3 days. Remember Israel? Remember the suicide bombings right before elections there? Do you think those had no effect on the Israeli election results? Do you think that may be Hamas wanted Netanyahu and Sharon to win? Did you say absurd?

Some say it isn’t about the Spaniards. Instead it is about the perception of the terrorists. Great! Now we must weigh every single action of ours based on what Bin Laden might think of it. If that were true, Israeli soldiers would still be dying in Lebanon and American troops would still be stationed in Saudi Arabia.

Unfortunately, some great bloggers, who are obviously on my blogroll, have jumped off the cliff following the “warbloggers” on this one. The most stupid comment among these bloggers was by Virginia Postrel:

Regardless of its perpetrators, the election results provide an unhappy, and potentially dangerous, lesson: If you kill enough people, you can change the outcome of a democratic election.

Warning to terrorists: Americans do not draw the same conclusions from massacres that the Spanish did. Americans tend to rally around the president and direct our anger outward.

Isn’t that also terrorists changing election outcomes? What if the terrorists wanted Bush to win reelection and took Virginia’s post to heart?

I am too angry to write coherently, so you’ll have to go and read Randy Paul, Jacob Levy and A Fistful of Euros for some reasoned analysis about this issue.

Spring Break Movies

When one’s pregnant and not feeling well, there’s not much one can do outdoors. So no camping trips or long drives for us this spring break. We stayed home and watched a lot of movies. For the ones we watched in theater, I am not sure Amber enjoyed them since she went to the restroom about couple of times during each movie.

Touching the Void is a documentary about two British mountaineers. One of them breaks his leg and is left for dead by his partner. It showed an amazing climb down by the injured guy. If you liked Vertical Limit, this documentary is a must-see. Amazing! It was nominated for an Oscar this year but lost out to Fog of War. I think it is much better than Fog of War.

The Fog of War is a documentary about Robert McNamara, the US Secretary of Defense during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. The documentary is good with some interesting observations by McNamara, but I think some of what McNamara said about the Vietnam-America war was a bit self-serving.

Whale Rider was an interesting movie. The kid, Keisha Castle-Hughes, was good.

Twelve Monkeys is among a few select science fiction movies that Amber liked.

Rabbit-Proof Fence is the amazing story about the escape of an aborigine Australian girl of the Stolen Generation by walking across the continent. A good movie.

Spartan is a good thriller, other than near the end. However, please do not read any reviews before watching the movie. This is a movie best watched without any information. A lot of the reviews spoil some of the suspense and plot twists.

Monster makes Charlize Theron look like a monster. What’s up with beautiful actresses taking the parts of ugly women on-screen and then winning oscars for their performance? Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman and now Charlize Theron.

I am an American Now

I guess I can claim to be a real American now since I have got that quintessential American trait: monolingualism. Just kidding.

But my language skills are getting worse. Especially in my native language, Urdu. I hadn’t written anything (yes, I mean anything) in Urdu since my college years, now more than a decade in the past. Then, recently I decided to switch this weblog to a bilingual one. Trying to write here in Urdu has been hard. And not just because I was typing in Urdu for the first time in my life. I have found that my Urdu writing skills are no longer adequate. My Urdu in these posts has been stilted and unnatural.

Mind you, I am not one of those yuppie Pakistanis who never learned adequate Urdu. We spoke Urdu at home. While I didn’t read as much Urdu literature as English, I read quite a bit, which is another thing that has changed. I haven’t read any Urdu literature recently (other than the few books, especially poetry, that I brought with me from Pakistan). Even though I have never been a great writer, I used to manage to write decent Urdu essays in high school.

Another thing that has changed is that in recent years most of my friends and acquaintances are not Pakistanis. Hence, the only person I regularly speak Urdu with is Amber. The same is true for her. Even with her, I have noticed that English is creeping into our conversation quite a lot. We seem to switch between English and Urdu all the time while talking to to each other.

On the internet, I read mostly the English Pakistani newspapers. I read Dawn regularly and The News on occasion. This is more due to the liberal nature of English journalism in Pakistan as compared to Urdu newspapers than any other factor.

My efforts to be multilingual (i.e., more than two languages) as an adult have been dismal failures. I tried to learn Arabic and Persian after high school and then French a few years ago. Sad to admit, but I am not a language person.

I think I need to work on my Urdu skills more regularly. So expect regular Urdu posts here. Also, I need to find some bookstore which carries good Urdu books.

Magic Third Party

I had planned on ignoring Nader this year, but HijabMan has compelled me to write.

What I’m puzzled by, is what I see as ‘short term’ thought. Sticking with the current two party system, shuffling between two parties that obviously aren’t in it for the human-interest. So why “anyone but Bush?” and why not “Let’s try to get a third party in there, and vote Green,” for instance.

On second thought, I am still going to try to ignore Nader by keeping this discussion focussed on third party politics.

A lot of Americans I have talked to are obsessed with the two-party system. I am not sure why a two-party system as practised in the US is such a great idea. Sure, too many parties, a la Israel or Italy, can be a problem. But two major parties with a few minor parties can still lead to stable government.

On the other hand, I do not understand the logic of some third party supporters. What exactly did Nader accomplish in the 2000 Presidential elections? More than 3 years later, where is the Green party and what has it done? Where is the party machinery and grassroots support he built? What about the policies the Greens favored? Do they have any chance of being implemented by the current administration?

I look at elections very pragmatically. The purpose of my vote1 is not to waste it for a candidate I like best. Rather I weigh different options and vote for the optimum where my vote could make a difference and elect someone more likely to do stuff I would like to see done.

This is the short-term approach. For the long term, we can focus on a party or group which matches our political beliefs. We can try to build support for this party/group and run candidates at all levels. That is why I say to Green supporters: Sure vote Green. For mayor, city council, state representative, and may be even for Congress. But in what kind of a dream world would a Green party candidate run straight for President with no Green member of Congress and change the world? Want to vote 3rd party? Build one. If all goes well, in 10 years or 20, it might be strong enough to have a good shot at the President’s job.

In the 2000 elections, I also flirted with supporting Nader for a while because if he got 5% there would be federal funding for the Greens. Also, I wanted to bring a 3rd party alternative since I am not too fond of a strictly 2 party system. But then I realized that Nader was not really building the Green party at all. So I changed my support to Gore.

One argument I have heard for running a Presidential candidate is the 5% vote threshold which results in federal funding support in the next election cycle. I don’t think that really will change anything without a mass party base and activists. Plus does anyone think that there is any realistic chance of a 5% for the Green party or Nader this time around? Wouldn’t your vote be better utilized in supporting a more feasible candidate who is closer to your policy ideas?

Some Nader supporters remind me of the jihadist mindset. Change the man at the top and everything will change. Politics is much more grassroots than that.

While we are discussing third parties and Presidential elections, let’s take a look at the US Presidential elections when a 3rd candidate has gotten more than 5% of the popular vote. It has happened 13 times since 1824 from a total of 45 elections.

Year Candidate Party Vote Share
1996 H. Ross Perot Reform 8.40%
1992 H. Ross Perot Independent 18.91%
1980 John Anderson Independent 6.61%
1968 George Wallace American Ind. 13.53%
1924 Robert LaFollette Progressive 16.60%
1892 James Weaver Populist 8.51%
1856 Millard Fillmore American 21.53%
1848 Martin Van Buren Free Soil 10.12%
1836 Hugh White Whig 9.72%
1832 William Wirt Anti-Masonic 7.78%

Now, how many of these candidates had any effect at all on the political process or later elections?

In addtion to those listed above, there were the more interesting elections of 1824, 1860 and 1912 in which the popular vote was much more divided.

1912
Woodrow Wilson Democratic 41.84%
Theodore Roosevelt Progressive 27.40%
William Taft Republican 23.17%
Eugene Debs Socialist 5.99%
1860
Abraham Lincoln Republican 39.82%
John Breckenridge S. Democrat 18.10%
John Bell Const. Union 12.62%
Stephen Douglas Democrat 29.46%
1824
John Q. Adams Democrat-Republican 30.92%
Andrew Jackson Democrat-Republican 41.35%
William Crawford Democrat-Republican 11.17%
Henry Clay Democrat-Republican 12.99%

Continue reading “Magic Third Party”

Libertarian Purity

Via Brian’s Study Breaks, I scored 14 out of 160 on the Libertarian Purity Test.

It seems not only am I unlikely to vote for the Libertarian party, I am in danger of being delinked by Unqualified Offerings.

Deltoid has a list of blogger scores on this test.

Vote to Heaven

Via the Head Heeb comes this report of God focussing attention on the Malaysian elections since the football (American) season is over.

Is God a swinging voter in this month’s Malaysian elections?

An unholy row has broken out between the ruling coalition and the Islamist opposition over which side the Prophet Mohammed will be barracking for in the March 21 polls.

An opposition state premier has claimed those who voted for his Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) would get to heaven while those who voted for parties in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition were heading for hell.

“It is stated in the Koran that those who rally behind Islam are also those who want to live under divine laws laid down by Allah,” said Nik Aziz Nik Mat, the premier of northern Kelantan state.

“Naturally, they will go to heaven for choosing an Islamic party, while those who support un-Islamic parties will logically go to hell.”

The Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi, on the other hand, “pray[s] to Allah, asking him to ensure the Barisan Nasional wins a big majority.”

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Muhammad struck back at the PAS leader.

“I want to ask Nik Aziz, when is he going to heaven to see if those who voted for the party made it there?” Dr Mahathir said. “If it is true, then rogues and rapists will surely go to heaven if they vote for the party.”

While Mahathir wants Nik Aziz to go to the heavens, the Malaysian election authorities had a more corporeal warning in mind.

Malaysia’s Election Commission warned that parties promising heavenly rewards for votes were breaking the law, and offending candidates could be disqualified from parliament.

In response, Mr Aziz said: “PAS will keep using the heaven issue.”

More about Urdu Blogging

Sorry about another process post, but there were a few issues that I didn’t get to in my last post about Urdu blogging.

Win 98 issues

With a default installation of Windows 98 and Internet Explorer 6.0, you cannot see some of the Urdu characters on this weblog. It seems that Tahoma version 2.3 which is included with Windows only includes the basic Arabic characters and not all the extra Urdu ones. To solve this problem, I installed the Arabic language support for Internet Explorer from the Windows Update site. This did not fix the character issue, though it seems that it is required to display Arabic script properly in Windows 98. I then downloaded the newer version (3.0) of the font from Umair’s Urdu Blog. This fixed the problem in the entry body of the posts, but not in the entry titles or the sidebar. The reason is probably because the later two are using Tahoma Bold which is still the old version.

Since Windows 98 does not seem to support an Urdu keyboard, I downloaded Unipad, a Unicode Text Editor, and copy and pasted the Urdu text I typed in the editor into Intenet Explorer text areas for comments or a new entry. This seems to work well.

CSS issue

While I was struggling with Windows 98, I decided to change my CSS file by adding some more fonts to the font-family attribute for Urdu text. The purpose was to have at least one font which has all the Urdu characters. Unfortunately, it seems that if the first font in the list (Tahoma in my case) is installed on your machine, the page will display using that even if it does not contain all the characters used. Those characters not present in the font will show up as squares in your browser. The browser will not try to locate those characters in other fonts in the list. This is the behavior in Internet Explorer 6.0 at least, which was disappointing.

Font embedding

I tried to embed the Tahoma font with the website, but in the end decided not to do that when I realized the drawbacks of that approach.

First of all, embedding of truetype fonts works only with Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer. It doesn’t even work with Internet Explorer on Mac. Secondly, if I embed the whole font, it results in a big file. I can reduce the file size by embedding only the characters used on the website. However, this means that I have to re-analyze the website after every change, using WEFT, and upload the new embedded font file.

Blogging Configuration

To elaborate on the essential steps for Urdu blogging in the previous post, here’s what you basically need to do:

  1. Get your computer to type in Urdu either by
    • installing the language pack from your OS, or
    • using a Unicode text editor.
  2. Setting the character set for your weblog to be UTF-8.
  3. Defining some styles for Urdu and English for direction, fonts, etc.

If you blog mainly in Urdu, you might want to set the language and direction for the whole web page to Urdu. This can be accomplished by changing <html> in your blog template(s) to <html lang="ur" dir="rtl">. I think this will result in a scrollbar on the left instead of the default right as well.

This is Unacceptable

Do you think I should delink Max over this libelous post?

Here’s the news story he’s talking about. You can take the test yourself here.