Friday, June 27, 2003

OK, I Guess

If you notice the plethora of posts, it's because of feeling thwarted yesterday when my blog was getting migrated to Blogger's new version. So, now I'm in that liberated-need-to-get-stupidly-chatty mode.

Stumbled over the birthday meme from someone's livejournal. Put in my birthday and got back the following:

very understanding
knows how to make an impression
active fighter for social cause
moody and capricious lover
honest and tolerant partner
precise sense of judgment.

Reads rather like poetry, doesn't it? I put in a couple other dates (like my ex's birthday -- way off, btw, and my mother's which was much closer), just for fun. Don't know what the whole algorithm behind this thing is.

Supposed to just be my sun-sign or something?

Who knows. Who cares?
Strom Thurmond, 1902-2003

Strom Thurmond's long reign a tribute to the power of forgiveness

Integration Foe Strom Thurmond Dies

Ex-S.C. Sen. Thurmond, dead at 100

Strom Thurmond, longest-serving senator in history, dies at 100

The Thurmond Timeline (Interesting slice of history, that.)

Justices Void Prison Term Given Gay Teenager in Kansas

The court's directive today that the Kansas courts reconsider the Limon case with Lawrence v. Texas in mind was tantamount to an instruction to set aside the prison term imposed on Mr. Limon, and perhaps to take a close look at what has been called the state's "Romeo and Juliet Law."
The statute gained that nickname in some legal circles because it regards oral sex differently when it involves heterosexual teenage couples, as opposed to youths of the same sex.
When one member of the couple is aged 14 to 16 and the other is older, the act is statutory rape under the Kansas law and the most common penalty is probation if the two are heterosexual. But probation is not available to same-sex teenage couples.

And that's discrimination, kids. Whether you want to argue that oral sex is statutory rape or not, punishing mixed-gender couples differently than same-gender couples is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Matthew Limon was just barely 18 when he had oral sex with someone who, bluntly, wasn't. Had that someone been a girl, he would have faced maybe a 15-month sentence, maybe just probation. The same act with another boy? 17 years.

17 years.

Wrong, wrong, wrong,wrong, wrong.
Dean, redux

I like to think I'm an imperfect example of what kind of people are, for the first time, really paying attention to the democratic process, in the form of Dr. Howard Dean.

I vote, and I always have. I'm single, college-educated, and work in IT (can you say 'disposable income', kids? I knew you could. Maybe not as much as pre-boom, but there you have it).

But, I don't feel connected to my government.
I don't like what my government does in my name.
I'm highly skeptical of marketing and advertising, so I don't appreciate being told what to think, expecially when it's just souped up cotton candy -- colorful, almost looks tasty until you actually try to eat it, and terrible for your health.

Aside from the fact that I vote, I'm just like all the self-disenfranchised citizens, who are self-disenfranchised because there's no one to vote for. Because of disillusionment with the process, and disenchantment with any government bigger than three people. Scandal and bickering and porkbarrel politics and more bickering and scandal.

STOP. You're supposed to represent me, dammit.

I think Dean does.

I think Dean's candidacy is the beginning of a revitalization of the Democratic Party, a revitalization of votors, and a re-committment of the country to democratic ideals. From the ground up.

I think the doctor has a hell of a lot more compassion than George W. Bush, who cannot speak with eloquence unless he's talking about visiting destruction upon others.

Today, Howard Dean is in San Diego, California. He spoke at a 9am rally at Trolley Barn Park, and is already at his next stop of the day. Vibrant, dedicated to service, and intelligent. A motivating speaker, telling the truth.

I tell ya, the District representative who spoke to the crowd (a crowd! 9AM! In San Diego!) before Howard Dean arrived made a strong impression on me. He described how, back when, the new governor of California flew out to meet the governor of Vermont to talk about education. It was supposed to be half an hour.

Three hours later, everyone walked out of that meeting with Governor Howard Dean with their heads spinning. Full of ideas, thoughts, and plans, from this Vermont innovator.

Long before this candidacy, Howard Dean has had a direct, positive impact on the people of California.

If you get a chance to see him in action, take it. If you have the right to vote, use it.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Soundex Me, Baybee

No-fly list ensnares innocent travelers (June 8, 2003)

"As the war on terrorism spurs U.S. intelligence agencies to constantly expand aviation watch lists, many airline-reservation systems rely on name- searching software based on a 120-year-old indexing system that mistakes the similar spelling or sound of innocent passengers' surnames for those of terrorists.
The result: Thousands of travelers have been flagged at airports for additional searches and police questioning -- while critics say real terrorists could slip through undetected."

Being that this is the Internet, of course:

Is your Soundex double in the (Google) news?

I have 2 points:

1. As the SFGate article points out

"The problem is that reservation software now relied upon by the government was designed not to catch terrorists, but to quickly summon passenger names or to catch deal-hunting passengers making duplicate bookings."
It is not always possible to use one tool for 3 different jobs.

2. The point of airport security is not, and should not be, to know who I am, which is what all the CAPPS II questions about birth date and credit report crap are designed to provide. The point is simply to make sure I do not bring an explosive device, gun, or other obvious weapon on board. That doesn't mean confiscate my nail file. That means have a bomb-sniffing device (canine or mechanical) at every security station, and use the fucking X-ray machine to look for long blades, guns, and weapons of mass destruction. ("Excuse me, miss? Is that your nuke?" "Oh, I'm so sorry, I must have left that in the bag when I unpacked from my last trip." "Perfectly all right, I'll just dispose of that for you. Have a nice flight.")

It doesn't matter who I am. What matters is whether or not I'm bringing a weapon on board.

Move Along, Nothing To See Here

Saudi Student ‘Missing’ After FBI Arrest

In The Bath With The US Elephant
More from the Paramecia Dept

Cholera in Iraq:

From 28 April to 4 June 2003, a total of 73 laboratory-confirmed cholera cases have been reported in Iraq : 68 in Basra governorate, 4 in Missan governorate, 1 in Muthana governorate. No deaths have been reported.
From 17 May to 4 June 2003, the daily surveillance system of diarrhoeal disease cases in the four main hospitals of Basra reported a total of 1549 cases of acute watery diarrhea. Among these cases, 25.6% occurred in patients aged 5 years and above.

Weekly Epidemiological Record
World Health Organization
Global Outbreak Alert & Response Network
Potential impact of conflict on health in Iraq (WHO Briefing)
WHO's Iraq Country Page

Why cholera in Iraq, when there are US forces there minding everyone's business? Simple. When your city services go to hell, you get cholera and dysentery. Among other things.

"Conflict in Iraq will also reduce people’s personal security and restrict their access to food, medicines and medical supplies, clean water, sanitation [my emphasis - Sid], shelter and health services. People's coping capacities are already severely strained: many will find the privations of war overwhelming and need both economic and social support."
"The pattern of conflict has an immediate impact on civilian suffering. If water supplies are damaged, sanitation impaired, shelter damaged, electricity cut, or health services impaired, mortality rates start to rise. If these risks are to be minimized, those involved in conflict must give priority to ensuring that civilians can access these basic needs. If access is impaired, it must be restored as rapidly as possible. Population movements and crowding in temporary shelters increase the risk of waterborne disease outbreaks such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery. In refugee and internally displaced persons’ camps during (and after) previous wars in Iraq, diarrhoeal diseases accounted for between 25% and 40% of deaths in the acute phase of the emergency. 80% of these deaths occurred in children under two year of age."

From The Paramecia Dept

Plague in Algeria:

As of 23 June, the Ministry of Health, Algeria has reported a total of 10 cases, including 1 death of bubonic plague in Tafraoui, on the outskirts of Oran. Cases have been treated with antibiotics and preventive measures have been taken. To date, no new cases have been officially reported. WHO is working with the Ministry of Health to provide rapid diagnostic tests and technical support in liaison with two WHO Collaborating Centres who are both partners in the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network: Institut Pasteur, Paris, France and Kazakh Scientific Centre for Quarantine and Zoonotic Diseases, Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Weekly Epidemiological Record
World Health Organization
Global Outbreak Alert & Response Network
Plague Fact Sheet
Plague Manual: Epidemiology, Distribution, Surveillance and Control

From the WHO Fact Sheet:

There are three main forms of plague in humans: bubonic, septicaemic and pneumonic.
  1. Bubonic plague is the result of an insect bite in which the plague bacillus travels through the lymphatic system to the nearest lymph node. The lymph node then becomes inflamed and is followed by bubo formation, a reaction in the body which occurs following the entrance of Yersinia pestis, the plague bacillus, through the skin and in the lymph nodes;
  2. The septicaemic form of plague occurs when infection spreads directly hrough the bloodstream. This form is usually fatal in the absence of antibiotic therapy;
  3. Pneumonic plague is an infection of the lungs caused by the plague bacillus and also has a very high case-fatality ratio.
Plague is endemic in many countries in Africa, the Americas and Asia. In 1999, 14 countries reported 2,603 cases to WHO (including 212 deaths). These figures are comparable with the annual average figures (2,547 cases, 181 deaths) for the previous 10 years (1988-1997). Over the past decade, 76.2% of the cases and 81.8% of the deaths were reported from Africa.

The Case of the Missing WMDs

Encylopedia Brown and the Case of the Missing WMDs

I'm sure it's even funnier if you're actually familiar with Encylopedia Brown, but even's pretty damn funny.
Go, Supremes!

"The U.S. Supreme Court made history Thursday, articulating a fundamental right to noncommercial consensual adult sex and instructing the government to keep out of American bedrooms."

The Data Lounge
The Guardian

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Howard Dean

Yes, I voted for Dean in the MoveOn primary.

Didn't you?

My Evil Triplet Medley has taken the time to write what I haven't thus far: a cogent summary of what Dean stands for, a discussion of what we find to be wrong with the directions the Bush administration and Republicans in general are trying to lead this country, and why Howard Dean is such an appealling candidate. Go read what she wrote, because all I can think of to say, is "me, too". I agree with every single word. This has been the first time I've been actively excited about what a candidate is saying and his chances of getting elected.

Howard Dean, simply put, is the person I want elected as my president in 2004.

Since, of course, I'm not running. Or at least, not this year.