Christmas presents stolen during baby’s birth

Here's a charming story to tell around the Christmas tree.

While an Ohio couple was at a Columbus hospital for the birth of their son, thieves broke into their home, wrecked it and stole their Christmas presents.

Tom Sheehan, who until last summer was a member of the military force stationed in Iraq, and his fiancee, Tonya Verduga, knew their new baby might come into the world around Christmastime.

So the couple had purchased all the presents for Tonya's two sons, aged eight and 10. But while they were at the hospital for the birth of their baby, Jonathan, thieves broke in and took all the presents, as well as a television, a computer and some jewelry.

Sheehan, who served three tours of duty in Iraq, told reporters earlier this month, "Take a TV, take something...that's fine, that can be replaced. But a child's Christmas spirit? How do you just break that without any regard?"

No water birth for Pink, she tweets

The singer Pink was reported to be planning a water birth with her first child, but this week she tweeted that the story isn't true.

"My mom just told me that "in touch" has informed her that she is invited to my delivery, and that I want a water birth. She asked me if she needs to get a snorkel. This is all news to me. Amazing. Good reporting," she wrote.

Pink, nee Alecia Beth Moore, and her husband, motocross racer Carey Hart, are expecting their first baby in the spring. The singer announced her pregnancy on The Ellen DeGeneres show last month.

Pink told DeGeneres that the doctor thinks the baby is a girl, and that she waited to talk about the pregnancy until she was a few months into it because she had a miscarriage in a previous pregnancy.

Inductive reasoning comes to science

Francis Bacon, no particular relation to Roger, is credited with introducing inductive reasoning into scientific inquiry in the 17th century. A distinguished member of the English aristocracy during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I, his life was a checkered affair that included a destructive corruption scandal.

However, as the 20th-century writer and anthropologist Loren Eiseley put it, Bacon, "more fully than any man of his time, entertained the idea of the universe as a problem to be solved...."

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon

Bacon was a philosopher, and he sought to resolve the problems that Aristotle's deductive approach to creation presented, such as the fact that Aristotle decreed that the world conformed to his construction of it, rather than vice versa.

Not only that, but most medieval thinkers had swallowed Aristotle whole, and regurgitated his ideas, which were often not even close to being correct. Bacon was frustrated by the obsolete and often clearly erroneous view of the world most of his contemporaries held.

He sought to bring a whole new approach to philosophy and science. And so he did. While many others built on his ideas, Bacon accomplished something truly revolutionary.

Inductive reasoning begins with specific details and observations — of natural occurrences or behavior, say — and uses them to arrive at a principle to explain them. What we now call the scientific method is largely inductive.

Deductive reasoning moves from the general to the specific. It uses logic to confirm something we already know to be true. Deduction is vulnerable to error at every step because it accepts the truth of the elements it uses to establish new truths.

Women’s health fail

For every step forward the United States takes toward improving women's health, the country appears to be taking one back — or more.

The overall picture is so bad that the nation got a big, black "Unsatisfactory" grade on a report card issued recently by the National Women's Law Center, in conjunction with Oregon Health & Science University.Art deco woman

We are doing all right in some areas. Women are smoking less. The percentage of women getting regular mammograms, annual dental checkups and colorectal screenings has held steady since 2007. In only one area, cholesterol screenings, have we actually improved.

On the negative side, more women are binge drinking, and fewer are getting Pap screening tests for cervical cancer. More women are obese, diabetic and hypertensive, too. More are turning up with chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease.

Not a single state got a "Satisfactory" mark this year; in 2007, three states made the grade. Massachusetts and Vermont have the best scores, a limp S (for satisfactory) -minus.

Many of the goals have to do with things people can conceivably control themselves, like quitting smoking, and drinking only moderately.

However, nearly 20 percent of women ages 18 to 64 have no health insurance. The disparities are troubling: 38 percent of Hispanic women, 32 percent of Native American women, 23 percent of African-American women — but only 14 percent of Caucasian women — lack health coverage.

And only seven states now require comprehensive maternity care — prenatal care, childbirth and postpartum care — be included in all individual and group health plans.

Most of the goals the report card addresses come from the Healthy People 2010 campaign of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. On its website, Healthy People is already hoping for better results in 2020, its new goal year.

"The Favorite" by Leon-Francois Comerre, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons