29 November 2002

Typically, I avoid John Leo's column in US News and World Report, because it usually irritates me, and I've been trying to avoid irritation. Yeah, I know I should read it to keep track of what the enemy is thinking, but it just isn't worth it. But this week I saw that his column was on the Augusta National brouhaha, and since I agreed with his first sentence, that the flap as "so trivial and idiotic" I thought that I might agree with his column, and so I read it.

Regarding the issue of women playing in Augusta National, I think that it's a waste of news time to talk about this issue--partially because I hate golf and think it's a stupid activity, but also because I think that if private groups want to be segregated, that is their choice. If they are not taking public funds, then they can do whatever they damn well please, freedom of speech and freedom of association and all that. So I thought I'd be able to read this article without getting mad.


So here is a quick refutation to his more absurd points:

Mr. Leo (who is from his picture and attitude is a white male) seems to think that in the US, blacks, women and Jews are completely different when it comes to segregation and civil rights. And in this he would be somewhat correct. Men who are Jews received in unqualified right to vote in the 1840s, while men who are black received the legal right to vote in 1870. Women were granted the right to vote only with the passing of the 19th Amendment, in 1920. Women were still legally forbidden to vote when my grandmother was born, and my grandmother is only 85. (See: http://www.lwvabc.org/services/history.html)

But minority groups still have more in common than differences. The earning power of women is still not on parity with that of men (See: http://www.ncpa.org/edo/bb/2002/bb052802.html) while women and blacks still have not reached all seats of power, although this has improved greatly in the past two decades--we have had black and female presidential candidates in recent years that actually received press attention as mainstream candidates. I'd like to point out here that there are many countries that have managed to elect black presidents and female prime ministers, but the US has not yet joined that club.

Mr. Leo also gripes about the fact that women sportswriters are allowed into male locker rooms while male sports reporters are not allowed to interview a naked Anna Kournikova. My response to this is well DUH—it would be nice if women sports reporters could cover female sports in the way males sports are covered, but for some reason there are no female football teams, female baseball players, and I don't see major coverage of women's basketball and soccer. Perhaps if women's sports in this country received even a portion of the media coverage received by football, baseball and men's basketball (both professional and college), this would be an issue, but we don't, so it's a non-issue. And even if we DID, we still would not have the same kind of locker room interviews that we do for male football players, because the FCC tends to have problems with unclad women appearing on TV.

Do I care whether women play at Augusta National? Nope. Not in the slightest. Golf is an activity for the upper classes that buy gas guzzling and ultra-consumerism SUVs. I am quite firmly still in the lower middle class, and prefer to be disgusted by the waste of resources needed to keep golf courses in shape, instead of whether women get to participate in and encourage this waste.

Don't even get me started about what's going wrong with the enviornment. Ridiculous SUVs and resources wasting sports arenas and golf courses are only the tip of the iceburg. Our president wants to drill for oil in ANWAR, roll back clean air regulations, continue to subsidize the oil and auto industries that create vehicles with lower and lower gas mileage, ignores the existence of global climate change, and repealed the regulations keeping snowmobiles out of Yellowstone (first step to paving our National Forests I suppose). I don't have time to get mad about this, so I'll save it for later.


27 November 2002

Stuff on my mind to day is both random and varied.

I heard this morning on Morning Edition that McDonald's is going to start accepting credit cards. That just bothers me, and Erin kinda looked at me like I'd grown an extra head when I mentioned it (at least that was my translation of the look). It bothers me for a multitude of reasons. First of which is that you shouldn't have to use a credit card to pay for a fast food meal. Second of which, it is an idea that seems tailor made for further credit card abuse in a country already known for keeping buying things on credit--how much do you think that Big Mac will end up costing if it takes you a year to pay it off? Thirdly, the population of the US does not need further encouragement to buy and consume fast food. They need instead, the McDonald's advertising campaign in France, where they told children that it was not healthy to eat fast food (and McDonalds more than once a week. Fourthly, I want to what McDonald's is doing to make credit cards profitable. Credit cards cost businesses, which is why many smaller businesses don't have them. Considering how badly McDonalds pays it's employees (no, not the managers, I mean the poor slobs who wait on you at the counter), I would think the money could be better spent there. Of course I am sure hell will freeze over first. But I wonder what kind of deal they have made with Visa and MasterCard to make this profitable for them. And LASTLY, considering that all our purchases are going to be tracked by the new homeland security department, so we really need to make things EASIER for our government to spy on us? Next thing you know they'll bring back pay toilets, only you'll have to use a credit card instead of a dime, so that big brother can keep track of how much we use the facilities. Good grief!

I am shocked and stunned that Henry Kissinger has been tapped to lead the September 11th enquiry. That must be Bush's idea of a bad joke. Kissinger apparently does not fly to certain countries for fear of being arrested on human rights abuses from his tenure as Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under Nixon and Ford, but yet he is an acceptable statesman for the Bush administration? What the hell is this world coming to?

And on a final note, I found out today that an ex just got married, and it gave me a somewhat nauseous feeling. I know one is not supposed to be bitter about the past, and for the most part, I'm not; I know that the fact I was so miserable was, in some ways, as much my own fault as it was his, but it was still somewhat jolting to discover. Not that I wish him badly, I'm not that childish, but it was a part of my life that really had a huge impact on the way I feel about many things now (and really, I didn't have to spend nearly as much time in therapy as I had thought I would) so it was a bit of a shock to learn that he finally gotten married. Perhaps that means that he grew up and got bearings on reality. One can hope.

Today's bad news was that Andy is going to Spain for Thanksgiving to visit his family there, so I won't be seeing him, which totally sucks, because I was looking forward to getting together and talking with him, but such is life, and it is great that he's going to see his grandmother and other family there, since it's been over a year since he has seen them. So I'm glad for him, sad for me. But perhaps I will get to see him a little. If not, depending upon how the car is, if we are lucky we'll be able to make a trip to Cincinnati during spring break to visit him, and Susan, then.


26 November 2002

I have not felt like doing much of anything--although I'm not break from school, I still have to work, and I have a final next Tuesday. The semester seems like it's ending very early this year, I'm not sure that it's true, but it sure feels that way. So I am supposed to be studying for my Epidemiology exam and instead am doing everything but. How unusual.

Read another story, this one in the NY Times, on Lithuania's Miss Captivity pageant. This is actually a pretty nice article, talking about how although they had considered making the whole contest a joke, the decided to take it seriously.

For some reason, obesity has been kept coming up for the past two days. Yesterday there was an interview on Fresh Air with Ellen Ruppel Shell who has written The Hungry Gene: The Science of Fat and the Future of Thin, and it was a very interesting interview. Today in the NY Times I was reading another article on obesity and why we eat. Both the interview and the article are very good, and on a subject that I find very interesting. It bothers me, a lot, the emphasis that we have in the US on weight and size. Yes, there are health problems associated with obesity, but there are also health problems associated with being too thin, and sometimes I think aneorexia and bulimia exist in epidemic proportions in young women. It seems to me that there are as many costs associated with being too thin, or trying to be too thin, as they are with being to heavy, and what the US really needs is to stop emphasizing how people look.

I'm sure it has a snowballs chance in hell of happening, but one can hope.


22 November 2002

They weren't kidding when they said you could get burned by holding a laptop on your lap. Of course when I've used my laptop in the car, it is always sitting on the case, or the pillow, because it's too low to type comfortably when it's sitting on my lap.

Think the internet isn't addictive? A man in South Korea died after gaming online for 86 straight hours (That is 3 and a half days for those who don't want to do the math) with breaks only to go to the bathroom and buy more cigarettes. Apparently South Korea is the most wired country in the world, and thus may be the first to see any negative mental and physical health consequences of high internet usage.

For anyone curious about smallpox vaccination, Israel is already vaccinating emergency and health care workers. Stunningly, they have had no deaths or major complications, and some in the US are taking this as a sign that we should start vaccination, but other say it is still to great a risk to take. The problem is that those who have been vaccinated can be a threat to those who have not, if the unvaccinated come in contact with the site, or possibly even the dressings used to cover the sites, could become sick. In a nation that can not even take antibiotics correctly, that may be too much of a risk to take.

And on a completely unrelated note, the futuristic wheelchair that can climb stairs and allow it's user to reach items on high shelves may soon be available to the general public. That is pretty fantastic I have to see. Not the same as allowing those wheelchair bound to walk, but a huge step in making more places accessible. I think it's great that someone finally designed such technology, and I will be more impressed if they are able to keep prices down enough to make it affordable for everyone.


21 November 2002

Read a very interesting article, Judging Judaism by the Numbers, by Douglas Rushkoff, in the NY Times. He talks about how Judaism needs to change, not to reflect a genetic categorization of Judaism, which is defined not within Judaism, but instead by the enemies of Judaism (think the Spanish inquisition), but instead to those who belive in the ideals of Judaism. It is related a bit, I think, to Constantine's Sword by James Carroll, where he talks about the genetic categorization of Jews as an idea that was created by the enemies of Judaism, in an attempts to wipe out the ideas and principles of Judaism. Anyway, I found the editorial interesting.

Gunther von Hagens was not arrested yesterday, as he performed the public autopsy of a 72-year-old German man in East London. It is said that most of the attendees were either in the medical or journalism professions, but there were some lay people there, and I think that, despite his showmanship and rather obvious promotion of his Body Worlds show, von Hagens is actually doing a good thing. First, autopsy rates are extremely low in Britan, as well as the United States, because they are not required in the US, if the person who died was under the care of a physician at the time of death. This means that we are losing a wealth of information on human health, and how health conditions affect death, because we know only the health conditions that were visible and known to the doctor before death. Why, you may ask, is this important? I think prostate cancer is probably the best example to illustrate this. Prostate cancer is a major health concern for older men, and PSA tests are performed regular to monitor for prostate cancer. This is, of course, a good thing, because survival rates for cancer are typically much better if the cancer is found early. The problems comes in with the statement that "most men will die with prostate cancer, and not from it" meaning that prostate cancer is endemic in older men. So is it imperative to treat all cases of prostate cancer? It is hard to say, because we do not know how many cases of population cancer there are in the general public, except for those individuals for which autopsies are performed. So by performing autopsies we can learn how frequently diseases appear in the population, even if they did not cause the death of the individual.

The second reason that I found his public autopsy to be important, is because death has become something more and more distant from the realities of most people. 100 years ago the dead were laid out not in funeral parlors, but in the home. The family tended to be body, and friends came to help and support the family in their loss. Today, death is a frightening stranger to most people; something to be feared. From this, I think, serious illness and old age have also become something to be feared, because of their association with death. Yes, death is a hard thing, but I think that our refusal to talk about it, or face it, makes the subject harder still.


20 November 2002

Professor Gunther von Hagens of Body Worlds is in danger of arrest for his scheduled public autopsy as part of his Body Worlds London exhibition. Although some people are up in arms over his exhibition which displays preserved human corpses, showing different body groups, in life like poses, other see it is an educational project, allowing people to discover the human body in a way that simply can not be done though textbooks, lectures or even video.

Thinking about getting a personal trainer? You may want to think again. A 37 year old woman died while working out with a personal trainer who was supposedly certified, but may have been nothing more than a high school drop out. It may have been the "nutritional supplements" he recommended for her, he may have pushed her too hard, it may have been a combination of things, but her husband is suing.


19 November 2002

We all got holes to fill
and them holes are all that's real
some fall on you like a storm
sometimes you dig your own.
But choice is yours to make
time is yours to take
some dive into the sea
some toil upon the stone

To live is to fly low and high
so shake the dust off of your wings
the sleep out of your eyes
Townes Van Zant a la Cowboy Junkies


19 November 2002

Don't know about too rich, but you most certainly can be too thin. This article from the NY Times talks about the health problems associated with extreme thinness, including inability to reproduce. The article mentions how standards of beauty have changed in the past century; the beauties of 50 years ago--Marilyn Monroe for example-- would be overweight by today's standards.

You can check out National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance for information on an activist group fighting discrimination against those who do not conform to society's ideal size.

The NY Times also has a fascinating article on autism. It also contains poems written by the subject of the article, a 14 year old boy named Tito. What is most fascinating to me is that the article seems to give you a small glimpse as to what it would is like to be autistic.

Don't bother to call.... A special federal appeals court ruled that intelligence wiretaps can be used in criminal cases. This is important because the intelligence taps are supposed to be easier to get, with a lower standard of proof, then the taps used for criminal proceeings.


18 November 2002

I studied absolutely nothing yesterday, and it was good.

I did, however, manage to do some Christmas shopping, all without having to leave the house. I ordered on-line from Amazon, and Gardener's Supply Company, and I made Michael call and order from the Signals catalog, because I couldn't get logged into the site properly. I'm also planning to order from Literary Calligraphy today--assuming I remember. We still have things to get, but I feel like we have at least accomplished something, which is good because I don't think I'm going to think about Christmas gifts again until my other final is over! (I say that now, but I'll probably start stressing over it again in just a few days!)

Michael spent Saturday avoiding me by helping James and Dani to install tile floor in their basement. He says it was easy enough that we could easily do it, and that we could (in theory) do that in our basement. I'm not sure whether we'd need to level the floor or note before we did that, but that's be a nice addition.

Read an interesting article on A. Philip Randolph, the black union organizer who was involved in what eventually became the AFL-CIO. Not a very interesting description on my part, but an interesting man.

Another interesting tidbit I read today was that Halle Berry is on the cover of Cosmopoliton. Not a big deal in and of itself, and normally something about which I could care less, since I don't read that type of magazine, except that there have only been 5 black women on the cover of Cosmo, and the last one was Naomi Campbell in 1990. What the hell is wrong with these people? It seems ludicrous to me that it is the end of the year 2002 and there has not a black woman on the cover a widely circulated women's magazine for TWELVE (12) years. Sometimes it stuns me how little in some ways we have progressed as a society.

As far as I can tell, totally unreported by anyone else is Mohammad Ali's visit to Afghanistan. According to the BBC he is in Afghanistan viewing reconstruction efforts, and he is also a spokesperson for the UN World Food Program.

And Lithuania made the news for a Miss Captivity pageant, a beauty contest held in the Panevezys Penal Labour Colony, where the winners don't get their prize money until they are released from prison.

THIS is the tactic that Morgantown needs to take against various and sundry slum lords. I'd love to see the names, addresses and home phone numbers of the evil beings that run McCoy 6(66) posted. Perhpas the new beautification projects combined with the apartment complex building boom will help.

But I won't lay money on it.


16 November 2002

The Nickel Creek show was absolutely fantastic! They played for over 2 hours, some songs from each album, some traditional songs, and some new songs. The way that they interacted on stage reminded me of the Dave Matthew's Band, and although I could hope that they have the kind of success that DMB has had, that would mean that the chance to see them in such a small venue again would be almost nil. They played in the Mountainlair Ballrooms, which means that there was not a bad seat in the house. I was quite surprised a the number of small children there, considering the late start hour (10 pm) and I did see on little boy who was out cold being carried out by his parents about 11:30. They had an extra member, Derek who played bass and was quite good, and meshed well with the band, although he unsurprisingly, said little and remained in the background, although he did come forward to mention the Steel Drum creator, Ellie Mannette who is here at WVU. That was pretty cool. All in all they were pretty fantastic, and I think that I would love to be able to talk to them. But the next best thing would be to see them again. Perhaps they'll come to Mountainstage again.

You know, I'd love to go on at length, but I do have a final in only a couple of hours, so I had best close here for now...


13 November 2002

I should be studying. But I absolutely cannot concentrate at all.

A new study at the University of Michigan found that older adults who help others are 60% less likely to die than other adults. I wonder how this is related to religious faith and longevity, i.e. are those who are very religious more likely to be involved in helping others?

Even better news, Thanksgiving dinner is GOOD for you! The article lists disease fighting properties of many of the items in a traditional Thanksgiving, from Cranberries to Pumpkin Pie. Yummy!
And have a glass of wine with dinner, because a new study conducted in Denmark found an association between drinking wine and a lower risk of dementia.
And in other health news, I am always stunned by the number of people who don't understand what overuse of antibiotics is doing to the world. This story from the NY Times, on how easy it is to get antibiotics without a prescription, is to me at least, frightening. Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses and if not taken properly, lead to resistant microbes. Some antibiotics that used to be effective against bacteria are now less than 50% effective. But people just don't get it, and the news doesn't report it, and the food industry don't want things to change.


11 November 2002

Veterans Day

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the11th month

"A man's country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle; and patriotism is loyalty to that principle."
-- George William Curtis

It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.
-- John Philpot Curran Speech upon the Right of Election (1790)

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Day Web Page
The Origins of Veterans Day from the VFW

The virtual wall (Vietnam Memorial) a digital legacy for remembrance
National Park Service's web site for the Vietnam Memorial in D.C.
This year the wall celebrates it's 20th anniversary, with ceremonies that include reading all the names of those list.

Data on Veterans from the US Census Bureau


10 November 2002

New modem day!

So, since my modem got toasted, I kept forgetting to unplug it after getting off-line, so all day long while we were going, the modem would try to answer the phone, and fail--which means that no one could leave a message, which is NOT good for Michael's job hunting. So we went to Office Despot and for $29 I got a new USR modem (yeah) and much to my surprise, the modem in my computer was NOT a USR, even though I thought it was, which makes me feel better about my modem going. I really like USR modems--in fact I think they're the best modems around--so I'm glad the one that went bad was NOT a USR; that leaves me with a perfect USR modem record--and I have used a LOT of USR modems. (I have only bought 2 56k modems, one in Michael's computer and now the new one in mind. The other were 14k and 28.8k modems. So I upgraded, not replaced.

Gee, do you think they'll give me a discount for saying such nice things about them?

So I had Friday off, most of which I spent doing computer work with my Dad. Saturday was the last football game, so that was the last tailgate we worked for the Ronald McDonald House tailgate. I enjoy doing it, but I'm also glad it's over, if you know what I mean. Of course now I won't know what to do with myself on the weekends. (grin) Yesterday's other project was to go to James and Dani's to help paint. There was little work with as many people as there were! It was the first time I had seen the basement that they are redoing, and it looks quite nice--I think the orange was a good choice, that it would make the basement brighter and warmer.

But I'll still stick with more muted colors for myself thank you.

But I did buy the newest CD from Nickel Creek, so I can at least have heard some of it before we see them on Friday. (!)

Read something interesting in my current Discover magazine, regarding electrical appliances and the power they use when they are "off". They found that about 6% of residential electricity comes from appliances that are turned off. And I wonder why my electric bill is so high. For my part, I just moved my power strip to where I could reach it so I could turn off the power for my computer for real. Discover also listed a website that lists devices that use 1 watt or power or less when they are turned off.


6 November 2002

Grandmothers are good for your health! A very interesting article in the New York Times on the importance of Grandmothers, looking at some of the studies that found that having a maternal grandmother in the home increased the chance of a child surviving. It also mentioned that grandchildren tend to prefer their maternal grandmother over their paternal grandmother, which I find interesting (I'm off the curve on that one).

This is a good day to read the police reports in the Arcata Eye.


6 November 2002


(bonus points if you catch the reference)


5 November 2002

Yup. I'm a junkie. Radio tuned to AM to listen to the election returns come in, I've got web browsers open to CNN and Metro News watching the returns (I ditched ABC and NBC).

So that person in the 2nd Congressional District is ahead. Bah Humbug. The brother of the President is reelected. Faugh. It's that train wreck thing--I don't really want to listen, but I can't turn away.

I also finished my project today. At least I think I finished it. I put in the PowerPoint narration this evening, and I am contemplating turning it in, even though it is not due until the 11th. Part of me wants to add more, but another part is going, don't do it, you'll screw it all up.... Regardless, if you want to know about hospice, just ask.


4 November 2002

Enjoyed this article by Maeve Binchy -- For the Irish, Long-Windedness Serves as a Literary Virtue in the New York Times. As a bit of a talker myself, from an area of the US where it is more typical than not to be friendly, I was quite amused.

(I should be studying, but I'm reading the news instead.)

Came across this article: $25 for free speech in the town of Virgin, Utah. Apparently they mayor wants to keep things short and sweet, and limiting free speech is the way to do it.

Woke up this morning to news of Bush campaigning all over the country to try and get a Republican House AND Senate. What a good use of my tax dollars. Never mind the fact that last month we were on the brink of war with Iraq, but THAT was put on hold, apparently less important than these midterm elections.


3 November 2002



1 November 2002

I hate computers.

My entire day has been spent trying to reinstall Mozilla on my laptop. Instead of accomplishing this, I am instead slowly losing browsers, so that now I have only IE and Opera left.

I don't like IE and Opera. I want Mozilla back.

It should be illegal to have such a Monday type day on a Friday.

It works! It works! (Dancing for joy!) I have Mozilla back and am now pleased. Plus I can check out Erin's revamps to her site to make sure they still work!
Apparently Windows XP Service Pack 1 cause install issues for Mozilla (and I presume Netscape) so I had to download the zip file, and that took care of the problem. WHEW!

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