This is my random collection of random thoughts. fnord
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April 2003
Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.
          --Marie Curie
Some of my current reading has included Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters by Kathleen Ragan and From Dawn to Decadence 1500 to the Present 500 Years of Western Cultural Life by Jacques Barzun. I've just started the later, and so don't have much to say about it. (The link goes to the book section of my site if you are interested in reading more.

Okay, this is gross, but still fascinating. Boy 'pregnant' with twin brother. Apparently he was supposed to have been one of Siamese twins, but something happened and he has been carrying around the fetus of his dead brother for seven years.

The disturbing thing about Five Technically Legal Signs for Your Library is that it's not a joke. From I find it ever more surprising and disturbing that our congress has allowed Ashcroft to walk all over the constitution, and that Orrin Hatch wants to remove the sunset provisions of the Patriot Act. I am beginning to think that I really need to find out how much it costs to join the ACLU. Hmmm... Perhaps people are not blindly ignoring what is going on. Several news articles say that membership in the ACLU has gone up 20% since 11 September. Guess I ought to put my money where my mouth is.

I had a disturbing dream last night. It was extremely vivid, and the dregs of it have remained with me into the morning, making me feel strange and out of sorts.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003
If a woman doesn't vote, she doesn't have a right to complain about anything.
          --Bess Brown
You know, I'm beginning to wonder if we are not setting ourselves up for another Iran. I worry about a secular US supported regime in Iraq, unpopular with the people, being a simple replay of the late 1970s. But I also don't see how we can create a secular democracy against the will of the people, which is what it sounds like Rumsfeld and Cheney are doing. Creating a government that is acceptable to the US, despite the opinions and interests of native Iraqis. Didn't we hold up the Shah for oil interests and didn't that come back to haunt us? As a result of this, didn't we then have a push in the US for decreased dependence on oil through conservation and fuel efficiency?

But instead we see to be acting as if the way to create oil is to use it. Buy an SUV. Drive it across the street to visit your neighbor. (Which seems to be a theme in this administration, make money by spending it.)

It seems to me that our entire foreign policy is being dictated by oil interests. In a way it reminds me of Reagan's policy of supporting dictators--any dictators--as long as they were anti-communist. Here, we are supporting dictators--any dictators--as long as they supply us with cheap oil.

I read so many conflicting reports, but I am beginning to wonder, could the House of Saud hold power without the support of the US? Are we supporting them for any reason other than oil interests? They are as undemocratic as a regime comes, but they are our friends. They breed derision and political unrest the way Iowa grows corn, exporting their conservative brand of Wahabbi extremism to other parts of the middle east, of eastern Europe, of Asia. We branded Iraq a rogue state for its support of terrorist groups, yet Hamas was originally supported by the Israelis, as a way to undermine support of Arafat.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, other than it being a simple need to express my frustration with this current administration and its policies. Oil interests rule, and the populace has blindly accepted Iraq being handed over to the administration's political and economic cronies, and no one says a word. Cronyism sounds so late 19th century in so many ways, but as poor of a student of history as I am, I am reminded of the political corruption that was rife in that era. Sure the political bosses aren't beating people on the streets any more, by the economic drubbing we're taking seems is in a different way just as painful as the physical beatings administered back then.

I'm stunned.
The United States has said that virtually all its troops, except some training personnel, are to be pulled out of Saudi Arabia.
From the BBC.

I'm assuming this is repayment to the Saudis for keeping the Arab street under control during the war against Sadaam Hussein, but I'm still surprised--I really didn't think that we'd leave.

Monday, April 28, 2003
There is a fine line between healthy dissent and arrogant disregard for authority.
          --Pamela Herr
According to Susan "The cell cycle is exactly like a Russian novel"

Which has absolutely nothing to do with Environmental Health or Biostatistics, but that's okay, because I don't think I can study Environmental Health any more, and the rest of the biostats should hopefully be explained in tomorrow's class. This leaves me to consider some of the material covered in the Environmental health class.

Optimally, I think that much of this is information that should be taught in college and in high school. Global temperatures have increased in the past century, and the range of vectors such as mosquitoes is reaching farther north. I think that the spread of West Nile Virus is a prime example, and I'll be interested to see where we have West Nile infection and spread this summer. Malaria is making a come back in the Americas, disease that we thought had been destroyed and conquered are causing illness in areas from which they have been previously eradicated.

Pollution has contaminated water sources around the world, again causing a resurgence of water borne illnesses that had previously been under control. You can see examples of that in the current outbreaks of cholera in Iraq, where water supplies have been disrupted, and contaminated water is spreading illness. It's interesting to consider that Baghdad was a thriving metropolis, but it only took a couple of weeks for cholera to spread following the loss of clean water.

Air pollution is something that has been more of a focus in this country in recent years, but despite any attention it received, the message seems to be lost on the majority of people, as evidenced by increased sales of SUVs and other vehicles that get poor gas mileage and thus have increased pollution. People are also ignoring the fact that the current administration is attempting to roll back pollution statutes and laws across the board.

Even planning a public health to a terrorism event is running into problems, in that we have mandated regulations for states to follow, but have failed to fund many of those requirements, thus causing many states and localities to make cutbacks in other areas of public health that are just as necessary as emergence response planning, but are not mandated by law, and are thus up for cuts in our current economic crisis, a topic I've ranted about before and will rant about again I'm sure.

Still listening to the Wonder Stuff while I'm walking.
Me, I'd like to think life is like a drink,
and I'm hoping that it tastes like bourbon.
You know that I've been drunk a thousand times,
and these should be the best days of my life,
Life, it's not what I thought it was.

Our ancestors went to great lengths to invent clothing. I wish that more people would respect this and partake in far more of this invention than they currently do.

This from the BBC:
The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is searching for plumbers to stop the pipes from freezing on its bases and ships near the South Pole.

Workers will be paid a maximum of £18,888 a year, whereas back home an in-demand plumber could earn up to £80,000 annually.

But BAS spokeswoman Athena Dinar said the surroundings made up for the shortfall.

Yesterday on our way to Lowe's we briefly stopped at the new Books A Million store that just went into that shopping complex. It was large, which was nice, but there were a couple of disappointing things. First, which affects only me, they didn't have a separate section for folktales and mythology. Of course that's probably for the best, else I'd spend more money that is good for me, eventually purchasing the entire section. Second, I noticed that their "organization" left something to be desired. They have a decent sized Sci Fi Fantasy section (perhaps about the same size as the bookshelf) but I could not find some authors. I discovered that this was because they have placed quite a few Sci Fi/Fantasy authors and titles in the Fiction/Literature section. Charles de Lint was the first I noticed, and I thought that perhaps it was because the books are urban fantasy, but then I found several titles that were quite definitely Sci Fi--Sara Douglass, Rob Hubbard to name two off the top of my head (and the bindings even said Sci Fi--I checked). I suppose that this might be good for these authors, to be placed in with general fiction, but bad for me and anyone else who tends to peruse only the Sci Fi section when looking for books. I may look occasionally Fiction, but as a rule I generally only browse Fantasy, History, Religion, and Folklore/Mythology (when available). It's mostly a matter of self-defense--there are simply too many books for me to go through the entire store. I can afford that in neither more nor time.

So I guess me point is that I wasn't thrilled with the new store. Perhaps it was just a part of getting a new store up and ready for business, and once they settle in (and perhaps hire someone who likes Sci Fi/Fantasy) they'll get things sorted out. Oh, an interesting thing was that they placed the gaming section in the back with the comic books, which I liked, since it seems like some stores will place such materials in the Sci Fi/Fantasy section, and this have fewer books to make room for more games. At least what you're looking at in the Sci Fi section is all books.

Sunday, April 27, 2003
Responsibility is the price every man must pay for freedom
          --Edith Hamilton
I'm supposed to be studying, which is why I've done all these other interesting things. I made biscotti this morning, because I wanted to try to make it, and I wanted to bake something. It turned out to be very delicious, even if I don't drink coffee, so I'm quite pleased. Although almond biscotti sounded very delicious, I don't have almonds on hand, so I made chocolate biscotti. The recipe called for chocolate chips but 1) I don't care that much for chocolate chippy things and 2) I don't have any chocolate chips, so they were chocolate without the chips, which I think was perfectly delicious. It was actually easier to make than I had expected, so perhaps I'll buy some almonds, and make almond biscotti some time.

I also did a small amount of gardening. It rained all day yesterday, but was beautiful today--far to beautiful to spend the entire day inside studying. We had to go to Lowe's to get some top soil for along side the house where we took out the tree last year, we made a raised bed, but it was actually only an empty bed, not very exciting, so we needed dirt, and I found some Irish moss, which is supposed to have beautiful flowers, and it said sun or shade, so I picked up two and planted them by the mailbox. I'll have to remember to water them (shouldn't be a big deal) and hopefully that will start to make that area look a little bit better. When Michael ran out for more soil (of course) he also picked up more lavender for me, so I now have 8 plants along the driveway wall, and I am really hoping that they do well, so that I'll have a small, fragrant hedge. I had also planted some more lavender seeds, but I don't really have much hope for them, since out of a total of two seed packets I planted in pots, I have about about four weak looking seedlings and a an empty pot of dirt. But hopefully the grown plants will do well.

In our raised bed, Michael planted pumpkin seeds (since I had plenty, and still have plenty) and some garlic that had sprouted. We'll see what happens there. And some weeding was done along the back hill. It still looks ugly, but it's getting better. The ivy and the other ground plant (can't remember the name for the life of me) are really coming back, so although it's ugly, it's only half as ugly as it could be, and it's a lot better now that the giant weeds and dandelions are gone. Hopefully the ground cover will come back strong now that the area has been cleared and is now sunny. I'll keep my fingers crossed anyway. I'm still considering getting an Japanese maple, but still don't want to make that kind of investment until we have made a decision for certain about parking along back. I don't want to buy and care for a tree only to have it destroyed during a construction project.

So for someone who was supposed to be studying all day, I got a lot of other stuff done. Luckily, I think that I now have a handle on biostatistics for the most part, and the Environmental Health, well, I'm very comfortable with that, which is why I'm having a hard time studying!

Indian eunuchs' day in the sun is a very interesting article that looks not only at this brief time that the eunuchs can celebrate, but also briefly at the lives of these women as despised people in their culture.

An amusing quote from a BBC article on raising children in Paris:
"Last summer we were with some friends and their young children in the market in Carjac in the Lot valley when we stumbled across an old beekeeper, dressed in baggy blue shorts and a faded brown trilby hat.
How quaint, we thought, when he offered to tell the children how honey is made.
At first, as he began his often-told tale, I was distracted by his uncanny resemblance to Francois Mitterrand, but then - as I began to pay attention to his words - I realised that these three- and five-year-olds - thankfully, with varying levels of French - were being told about the Queen Bee's pleasure at having a multitude of male partners simultaneously thrusting themselves upon her.

Saturday, April 26, 2003
Plain women know more about men than beautiful ones do
          --Katharine Hepburn
If you came in the long way (i.e. though my main page) you'll notice that I revamped the front page almost completely. I replaced images and made some major rearrangement. The original idea was if the page I loaded to the new hosting service looked different from the old one, I'd immediately know everything had been switched. Realisitcally, removal of the text I posted on the site and the old hosting service would have done perfectly well, but as usual, things got carried away.

The fact that I am supposed to be studying has nothing at all to do with this of course.

Friday, April 25, 2003
Hate is like acid. It can damage the vessel in which it is stored
as well as destroy the object on which it is poured.
          --Ann Landers
Regarding the move, I am involved, in that it's my site and all, but Michael is doing all the work of dealing with the companies and setting things up, I just get to transfer files when the time comes, and then figure out the new system.

Why am I moving hosts? {Primarily, because I'd like to be able to have POP e-mail addresses (this means that any family or friends that would like a e-mail address can have one. And I'm sure there will be a raging demand for THAT) and Michael is pretty sure that if I so desired, I can set up MovableType. Not that I'll have any time to do any of this until finals are over (which is one of the reasons Michael is doing all the work. Because I am supposed to be studying (Yes, studying on a Friday night. I know I'm a loser. It's okay, I can accept that.) and in fact have already done a good deal of studying-- I worked through my linear regression statistics problem. I think I understand it now, but I'll really need to look over it more, but of course Environmental Health is next week, so that takes precedence. Of course I already did the calculations to determine that I can probably get a 70 on the final and keep an A, which makes me a little more relaxed about the process--primarily because the module on radiation is rather confusing, and I was stressing out about it. But I feel much better now--not that I'm going to blow off this final--I'd like to ace it, but I'm just as pleased to know that if I flub the questions on radiation, I won't fail the class.

Kudos for whoever created this true "Iraq's most wanted" deck of cards.

Kim sent me a citizenship quiz to see how much I know about the American government.

Senator Byrd has a nice piece on The Sham of the Federal Budget Resolution

One of the headlines in today's DA is More funds needed for W.Va. homeland security. Which is something that has set me off before. The federal government has made laws and requirements for the states to follow, but has done nothing to help the states pay for these requirements. Unlike the federal government, states are required to have balanced budgets, so money for these mandatory federal programs must be taken from other state programs--education, public health, public works...

Yet despite the ballooning deficit and the increasing debt, despite a continued lack of funding for these mandatory state programs, the president wants to cut taxes. The sheer stupidity of this is almost overwhelming, and to be honest just thinking about it makes me almost incoherently mad. I do not understand how such fiscal irresponsibility can be placed before the American people with a straight face--especially considering the fact that according to a variety of polls, American's don't even want a tax cut. What astounds me further is that more people are not against the tax cut, that more people do not realize that this tax cut will benefit not the middle class and the lower class, but the corporations that make huge donations to president Bush and the Republican party. (Cheney and the contracts to rebuild Iraq are a rant I'll save for later.) But to sum up (before I become completely incoherent) if we can afford huge tax cuts for the rich, then we should be able to afford these federally mandated homeland defense contracts.

Green tea is linked to skin cell rejuvenation. Research at the Medical College of Georgia has found that components of green tea may be helpful in wound healing and skin health. I've seen skin products before that contained green tea, but tended to think of them as just making any product they could think of to cash in on the health benefits of green tea. But it seems as if there was something to this. One of the proposed benefits is for diabetics, who suffer from poor wound healing.

Thursday, April 24, 2003
None who have always been free can understand
the terrible fascinating power of the hope of freedom
to those who are not free
          --Pearl S. Buck
Read this on Neil Gaiman's site, which kinda sums up the way I feel about dressing.
I was a bit put out when they asked which black I wanted. The whole point of picking black is no-one needs to ask you which black you want.

It is really starting to sound like SARS is out of control in regions of China.

I ran across the Is That Legal blog, and he had a link to this article on the eviction of Arabs by Kurds in northern Iraq, and it reminded me of previous discussions with Dee (et al), in which she has asked (I hope it was Dee who said this, if not, sorry Lenny), when do you stop? You look back through history and almost all land previously belong to someone else but was taken by conquest. How far back do we go back in history to prove whether someone is a rightful owner? What requirements must we have? Do we gave the entirety of the US back to the Native American tribes that were here first? Do the Native Americans need to make reparations to the descendants of Lief Erickson? Shouls we remove British rule from Ireland and give Ireland back to the Picts? Should the descendents of the Mongol hordes be required to make reparations? What is the stopping line?
Does the previous owner have to be alive? This would just make those who plunder more likely to murder their victims, so no one could retake the land.
Should land or property be reclaimed by living relatives if the owner is dead? This would seemingly lead then to genocide--kill anyone who could plausibly make claims against you, including the children and nieces and cousins.
What if we create a time period during which claims can be made, but after that time ends you're out of luck? Would this then not simply mean criminals would be more careful about covering their tracks?

So what do we do? How far back in history can we go, to right wrongs?

I think that this may be why ideas such as affirmative action are important in society. Because we may not be able to do anything for any individual who was harmed, but we can attempt to make reparations to the group that may still be suffering as a result of historical actions taken against that group. We can say, I'm sorry that your ancestors were enslaved/killed/robbed/conquered. We can't make things up to you personally, but we can can do is try and make it easier for your group/class/whatever to make up for lost time, by allowing you to have subtle advantages. You still have to work, because TANSTAAFL, but we know that coming from disadvantage should not preclude you from being able to succeed.

I guess the problem with this is that mingled in with getting a late start in the rat race, members of some of these groups also have to deal with the lingering effects of racism. A degree from Harvard doesn't matter if the boss is a prig.

Main Entry: 2prig
Function: noun
Etymology: probably from 1prig
Date: 1676
1 archaic : FOP
2 archaic : FELLOW, PERSON
3 : one who offends or irritates by observance of proprieties (as of speech or manners) in a pointed manner or to an obnoxious degree

Okay, what is the genetic advantage of curly hair? Why do some have curly hair and some have straight? Is it just random, or is there a reason for it?
Apparently I have to purchase my answer from e-bay:

Stupid e-bay

Can't find anything useful from a quick search of the web, so I'll let it drop for now.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003
If thine enemy wrong thee, buy each of his children a drum.
          --Chinese proverb
Today's walking music is Never Loved Elvis by The Wonder Stuff. One of the few Wonder Stuff albums I have on tape. The problem is, of course, that I want to skip along to the music as I go. Since people tend to look an askance at those of us who wanted in circles anyway, that would just add another dimension I don't want to consider. But I still got to walk to:
Ohh in another world............
yeah he could wear a dress.
Ohh in another world............
yeah he could wear a dress.

Erin was having a quadratic occasion.

An interesting article from the Baltimore Sun about live on ancient Rashid Street, a district in Baghdad. Just an article about normal life in Baghdad right now.
A drive the length of the road shows signs of the war and its aftermath: two bank buildings, both cleaned out; a telephone switching center with a gash in its side; the partially ruined Defense Ministry complex at the street's north end.

Equally eye-catching, though, are the graceful wooden porticoes that poke out from many of the two- and three-story facades. These shuttered overhangs, with their iron balconies, remind an American of New Orleans' French Quarter, but they are a gift of the Turks called shanashils.

This style of design is not seen elsewhere in Baghdad, a sprawling, 1,200-year-old city that is nonetheless crammed with blocky, 1960s-style construction. Adding to the striking effect of the balconies and porticoes are the thick columns, made of brick and covered in decades worth of peeling paint, that support them.

In response to dad's pictures, I received the following message from my grandmother via my aunt:
I saw the pictures and wondering why dad has so many egg dippers.
She's known him far longer than I have! If she doesn't know the answer, then I certainly can't help!

In response to the WHO's published guidelines that no more than 10% of ones diet should come from fat, "The Sugar Association, which includes such giants as Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola and General Foods, is reported to have threatened to lobby Congress to withdraw funding from the WHO unless its sugar report is withdrawn." And then we wonder why people sue McDonald's for being fat? It's because special interest groups so dominate our government. It reminds me of something I read in my Violence Against Women class as an undergrad. Witches were burned at the stake not necessarily because they had done anything wrong, but because they tended to be midwives and "natural healers" and when sugar became readily available they suggested that people not eat a lot of sugar, but the government had sugar interests, and wanted the message of these women stopped, so they accused them of being witches.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee,
and just as hard to sleep after.
          --Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Happy Earth Day!

Q Why did Cisco decide to build "lawful interception" into its products? What prompted this?
A Cisco's customers, not just in United States but in many countries, are finding themselves served with subpoenas to mandate lawful intercept functionality. Cisco received requests from its customers for this capability.

Q Do you have any moral problems with helping to make surveillance technology more efficient?
A I have some moral and ethical issues, but I think quite frankly that the place to argue this is in Congress and in the courtroom, not a service provider's machine room when he's staring down the barrel of a subpoena.

Q The current draft does not include an audit trail. Could you do that by having your equipment digitally sign a file that says who's been intercepted and for how long? That could be turned over to a judge. It could indicate whether the cops were or weren't staying within the bounds of the law.
A I'm not entirely sure that the machine we're looking at could make that assurance... In fact, the way lawful interception works, a warrant comes out saying, "We want to look at a person." That's the way it works in Europe, the United States, Australia and in other western countries. The quest then becomes figuring out which equipment a person is reasonably likely to use, and it becomes law enforcement's responsibility to discard any information that's irrelevant to the warrant. That kind of a thing would probably be maintained on the mediation device.
Read the full article here (found via BoingBoing).

I'm starting a collection of the asinine things that Rumsfeld has said.

Since Gina and I spent about an hour looking for this, here is information on the Lost Ark of the Covenant, including possible scientific explanations for the miraculous powers of the Ark, such as the fact that it was an electrical conductor. There is a detailed explanation as to how this might have worked. This is really fascinating, and also goes into the history of the Ark and what may have happened to it.

The TV doesn't just turn your brain to much, it also contributes to obesity and diabetes. A Harvard school of public health study found that women who watched more TV were more likely to be obese and to develop diabetes. "Each hour per day of brisk walking was associated with a 24 percent reduction in risk for obesity and a 34 percent reduction of risk for diabetes." So the take home message is stop watching TV and DO something!

Another study from the Harvard school or public health found that few Americans have heeded the government's warning to prepare for terrorist attack. What I disturbed me about this study, was something that I simply had not considered before: "The majority of parents with children who attended school or day care thought their children would be adequately cared for and safe if they had to remain at the school due to a terrorist attack for a day (85%), overnight (76%) or for three days (55%)." Last I heard, day care providers were underpaid and overworked, and that is was difficult for most places to keep good carers, because most places don't pay decent wages. The thought of these underpaid and overworked people having to keep all those children without break is somewhat disturbing. This then leads me to wonder if the same would be true of school teachers, another group who are overworked and underpaid. Will these people be expected to remain at school in case of an emergency, not only separated from their own families, but required to work overtime, possibly uncompensated, during such an emergency? (Don't forget, school systems all over the country are suffering budget cutbacks as state and local governments try to implement mandatory but unfunded federal requirements.) Ludicrus!

Which reminds me of something I heard yesterday on NPR's Morning Edition. There is a website for NY schools called Donor's Choose where "a teacher who wants to provide his or her students with an activity that school funds would not cover. At this website, the teacher can describe a student project and list the materials needed to make it possible. Next, civic-minded individuals can browse teachers' submissions. A donor can make a tax-deductible contribution that fully or partially funds a chosen proposal." This is a fantastic idea, and one that should be replicated aorund the country. The only part that bothers me is that we fund our education system so poorly that teachers need to beg the public for funding.

More on tea for health. Researchers found that drinking tea allows a body to build a defense against some bacteria, tumour cells, parasites and fungi. Chemicals called alkylamine antigens seem to stimulate the immune system which helps the, to fight off an infection. There are already some links between tea and an increased ability to ward off cancer. The drinking of coffee was found to have to effect. So Michael doesn't get sick, because he drinks so much tea. I, on the other hand, am luck just to drink some water every day.

A very interesting article on the BBC website about the mutation rate of SARS. The vaccine is expected to mutate very quickly, which means that it may be difficult to create an effective vaccine for SARS, and that if the virus is not stopped here and now, then we may not be able to control it. Of all the news I have read about SARS, this is probably the most frightening. I read or heard something yesterday, basically saying that if the virus reaches Africa, then we will have lost all control over it. That is also pretty scary. Lets hope that the US budget cuts for public health will not effect our ability to react to SARS if it does spread here.

Yeah! I just got mail from one of my friends in China! She's doing well, and the province she is in is relatively unaffected by SARS, though she is unsure whether she'll travel to Toronto this summer, because she says the SARS is worse in Toronto than it is in her province. (Which is too bad, because I was hoping to make a trip to Canada to see her while she was in this summer.)

Monday, April 21, 2003
I finally figured out the only reason to be alive is to enjoy it
          --Rita Mae Brown
So I put up an HTML version of my paper on antibiotic usage in animals and how it effects humans. There is so much more I wanted to add to that paper, but the limit was 8 pages, which I just made, after I decreased my margin size and decreased my font size. But still, there is so much that is so disturbing about the use of antibiotics in food animals, from the sheer pharmaceutical waste, to the fact that the use of antibiotics in cattle is due primarily to the diet of those animals. We feed cattle food that makes them sick! We take an animal that is capable of living on marginalized land, of eating grass which grows free, and we force feed them grain that makes them ill. And unlike grass, which doesn't really require an intensive farming effort, corn and other grains require fertilizer and other chemicals. One of the articles I found mentioned that it takes oil to make a bushel of corn, because the fertilizer is produced from it is, I'll quote the passage: fact, to get the kind of harvest of corn we get and the surpluses, you have to apply vast quantities of fertilizer, which is a fossil fuel. It's ammonium nitrate...We get 130 bushels of corn off an acre where a hundred hears ago we got 20. And all of that fertilizer is made from oil. And, in fact, it takes 1.2 gallons of oil to grow a bushel of corn. So I realized that I was looking at a different kind of system. We had gone from a solar system to a fossil fuel system. And this strikes me as a kind of crazy thing.
He also talks about how this effects those who consume the meat.
And one of the most striking things I discovered in doing this research is that...corn-fed meat has got a lot more saturated fat in it than grass-fed meat. It also has all different kinds of fats. It has--grass fed meat has lots of omega-3 and beta carotene and CLA, which is another good fat. And corn-fed meat is full of the kinds of fats that give us heart disease. And you know, a lot of the rap against eating meat, if you look at it closely, science is finding that the problem is not so much with eating beef per se or meat, it's with eating corn-fed beef.
He also talks about the use of hormones in cattle ranching, which is something that has also bothered me, but I simply couldn't cover it in this paper. It was entirely too much information.
Anyway, if you are at all interested in how food animals are effecting our health, I have a huge list of references that are an excellent starting place. And I also recommend (again) Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation.

Catching glimpses of people

As I was walking today at lunch (in circles--somehow suitable) I walked past the elevators, the elevator doors were open--people had just gotten off--and caught a glimpse of those who remained in the elevator, waiting for the doors to close, so they could arrive at their destinations. It just struck me as odd, seeing just a couple of people, standing there, just waiting patiently, looking at nothing in particular, as people in elevators do. Did they see me, walking by, just glancing around and noticing them? Did it even register that they saw someone walking by? I work in a large building with lots of people, so it's not as if I know everyone I pass, although sometimes, when I walk, I start to recognise the people that I see on a regular basis. But normally I just walk by offices or elevators, or doors, and don't even notice the people inside, or the people who I pass in the halls. How does this happen? How do we tune out our fellow human beings as so much white noise, so much chatter to be ignored? I know that in our modern world it's a self-defense mechanism. If we stopped to talk to everyone we saw, we'd never get anywhere, but does that mean we can't give those who pass by a friendly greeting? I don't know. As someone who is inherently shy and has a horror of talking to strangers (crowds make me sick to my stomach) it's relatively easy, but do all people have that same fear? I somehow don't think so, but perhaps they do, and it is just that no one else talks about it.

Another fantastic bit from Making Light on the burning of the library in Baghdad, and why the burning of old libraries is an almost incomprehensible loss. This is in response to the comment that it didn't matter that the Baghdad library was burned down, they could always just print new copies of the books.

Here is another article on the looting of the Baghdad museum, this one from a legal prospective, from FindLaw. This article has some of the actual comments that were made by Rumsfeld as he was trying to brush of questions about the looting. And I actually heard that press conference, and he really did pooh-pooh reporters questions about the looting of the museum, as if this were a loss of no consequence. Complete bastard barely touch the surface of my feelings for Rumsfeld, my only hope is that he one day gets exactly what he deserves.

Sunday, April 20, 2003
Perhaps one has to be very old before one learns
how to be amused rather than shocked.
          --Pearl S. Buck
I recently finished The Norse Myths retold by Kevin Crossley-Holland, and I have to say that I really enjoyed this book. Most of the tales were ones with which I was unfamiliar, which made them enjoyable to read, but the retelling was also quite good. The language was made accessible, which is not something that is always common I've noticed. There were tales and themes that were familiar, and some of it reminded me of different series by different authors (which means that the myths may have been the inspiration for the stories or the foundation for the world created. But I could be wrong. The tales that were unfamiliar were quite interesting, especially those where Loki is one of the main characters. Loki is really a much more complex character than one would give a trickster figure credit for, although his change in character is quite substantial, moving from one's typical idea of a trickster:
(This follows Loki changing into a mare and dallying with the stallion of a giant building the wall of Asgard, to keep the giant from winning a bet.)
A number of months passed before Loki the Shape Changer was seen in Asgard again. And when he returned, ambling over Bifrost and blowing a raspberry at Hemidall as he passed Himinbjorg, he had a colt in tow. This horse was rather unusual in that he had eight legs. He was grey and Loki called him Sleipnir.
When Odin saw Sleipnir, he admired the colt greatly.
"Take him!" said Loki. 'I bore him and he'll bear you. You'll find he can outpace Golden and Joyous, Shining and Swift...(etc) No horse will ever be able to keep up with him.'
Odin thanked Loki warmly, and welcomed him back to Asgard.
'On this horse you can go wherever you want,' said Loki. 'He'll gallop over the sea and through the air. What other horse could bear its rider down the long road to the land of the dead, and then bear him back to Asgard again?'
Odin thanked Loki a second time and looked at the Sly One very thoughtfully.
to a creature that deliberately sets out to cause harm and destruction to all those about him:
(This occurs after Loki is told that the only thing on the planet that had sworn not to harm the god Balder, and he goes and creates a weapon from mistletoe. The gods have made sport of this and are now throwing items at Balder to see them bounce off without harming him. Loki is speaking to Hod, the blind brother of Balder.)
'Take this twig then,' said Loki, and he put the sharpened mistletoe between Hod's hands. 'I'll show you where he;s standing. I'll stand behind you and guide your hand.'
Loki's eyes were on fire now. His whole body was on fire. His face was ravaged by wolfish evil and hunger.
Hod grasped the mistletoe and lifted his right arm. Guided by Loki, he aimed the dart at his brother Balder.
The mistletoe flew through the hall and it struck Balder. It pierced him and passed right through him. The god fell on his face. He was dead.
This is, for me, one of the most fascinating parts of the story, Loki's change from jokester to devil. But the other stories, even those not involving Loki, are also well told and interesting, well worth reading in and of themselves. But it's also nice now catch the references to these stories in other works of fiction, especially fantasy. Some of these themes are used in Guy Gavriel Kay's Fionovar Tapestery, as well as Neil Gaiman's American Gods. Not that you need this knowledge to enjoy the books (obviously, since I hadn't read these myths before!) but the knowledge adds further depth and nuance I think. I will say that I wasn't overly enamoured of the tales that were simple recitations of history or knowledge, such as The Lay of Loddfafnir though I supposed that they would be different when recited than when read. Something that surprised me was the fact that Odin hanging on Yggdrasill was a recitation more than it was a tale, because this is a theme that I have read on several other occasions, and I guess I expected it to be filled out instead of the bare bones of an idea, although I suppose that is what has made is irresistible to authors. There is so much detail missing, or not given, so much left unsaid, that the simple recitation leaves you wanting to know much more than you are told. I am curious as to whether there was an oral tradition that fleshed out this tale more, that we simply did not receive.

I have further thoughts, but it's getting late, and I'm tired, so I'll leave this for now. This is a very good collection and well worth reading.

Saturday, April 19, 2003
There are no dangerous thoughts;
thinking itself is dangerous
          --Hannah Arendt
So we went out to my parents house to dye eggs (and of course while we were there, my mom had just a few questions to ask, since I was there and everything.

Now there are some things that sort of need explained for the pictures I took to make sense. The first is that my dad has a few, shall we say quirks, regarding egg dying. The first is that he was always annoyed that there were only 2 dippers for 9 colors. So every year he saves the dippers so that we'll have one dipper for each color. Of course he saves all the dippers we get, not just the nine or ten we might need. You can see the result in two pictures. The second thing is that the eggs never turn out quite as dark or bright as we want them to, so for the past couple years when egg dye goes on sale after Easter, we'll pick up some dye for him so we can use more than one dye pack at a time, and he'll pick it up if he sees it. You can see the result of this in another picture. We discovered that using more of the tables doesn't make the egg color any darker, at least not if you don't use more vinegar (we decided that is what we'll try next year) and in fact one of the blues turned out kind of off, since it looks like all the tablets did not completely dissolve. The third thing is that every year the eggs are boiled and my mom immediately flattens the egg cartons and and puts them in the recycling, which means that once we dye the eggs, we have no where to put them. This year dad boiled the eggs and saved the cartons. This was quite exciting of course.

And in case you are curious, we used four (4) dye kits this year.

Go here if you'd like to see the pictures.

Just because I hadn't done anything stupid in awhile, this evening when we stopped to get gas, I wanted to clean the windshield. Of course there was no squeegee where we were, so I had to walk over to the other set of bays to get one, and when I get back to the car, I hear a CRUNCH as a car drives behind me to leave. I look over, and there are my sunglasses, lying on the ground, in multiple pieces. I'd stuck them in my pocket when we got to my parents house to dye eggs (and answer software questions) and I guess I didn't get them securely in the pocket, so they chose the gas station to fall out of my pocket, right as someone drives away.


It only took me ages to find those sunglasses, and I really liked them. They were extremely comfortable, and they didn't slip off my face, and they were polarized. So it cost me $100 to find a replacement that I'm not sure I like as well. (Yes, I had to get new sunglasses right away. My eyes are very sensitive to the sun, and it's painful to be out during the day without sunglasses.) Well, what's gone is gone, and there's nothing I can do about it, other than be frustrated with myself, which gets me nowhere, so hopefully this will allow me to get it out of my system and get on to more important things.

But I'm still pissed. Michael kept saying, "I think they aimed for your glasses to drive over them!" which absolutely did not make me feel better. I prefer to think not that my fellow humans are complete jerks, but that it was an accident.

Friday, April 18, 2003
If you just set out to be liked,
you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time,
and you would achieve nothing
          --Margaret Thatcher

My favorite type of quiz--one that tells me what type of brain I have. I am Type E, or empathising. Unsurprisingly. I had an EQ of 57 and an SQ of 24.

What is it about Legos and the internet? Here is a site dedicated to a lego church.

Susan sent me a link to create my own Unsafe Material Data Sheet (UMDS)

Research has made a controversial discovery that some people who have religious visions may instead be suffering from a form of epilepsy . This may include Ellen G White, the spiritual founder of the Seventh-day Adventist movement. This article includes the quote: "She said, isn't it nice to be part of the holy family?"

In the permafrost of Siberia scientists have discovered ancient DNA from creatures like woolly mammoths from ice cores. The DNA, which is from 300,000 to 400,000 years old, is not whole, so don't expect any Jurrasic Park scenarios, but it is still amazing that DNA has been preserved for that long.

Kim sent me this link for the flags of the world so we could figure out what flags were hanging from the ceiling at Garfield's. They didn't really have a lot of variety, and it looks like they had mostly France and Ireland. The topic came up because we were surprised that they hadn't taken down the French flag. At least they were not trying to sell "freedom fries" because then we would have had to leave.

So yesterday, I decided that I'd try to set up MovableType (journal software), and Michael (of course it was Michael) checked to see if we could set up, and the person with whom he chatted (online support) said he/she thought we could, so I downloaded and them Michael and I bickered and set things up, and then I went to shower while uploading everything to my site, and when I came down, Michael was talking to support again--this time on the phone. In the end, it seems that we can't set it up on my site, because Earthlink doesn't support databases. I don't know what this means, other than I'm disappointed, because I was looking for a way to make a couple of things simpler for my blog, and I really like the set-up for Movable Type. I looked at JournalScape which Erin uses, but although it's a great site and set-up, it's not exactly how I want to have my journal set up. Journalscape has entries on separate pages, Movable Type has a main page with permalinks and an archive. Since I tend to make multiple entries a day, one page with permalinks and an archive is better for me than each entry on a separate page. Which is really too bad because Erin loves Journalscape and I think it's a great set-up--just not what I want. So, I'll keep doing what I'm going, and perhaps continue to look around to see what is available.

You can now get an Iraqi Dis-information Minister Action Figure Doll (it even talks!), plus a variety of other action figure dolls, including Osama bin Laden in a pink dress. Please note that some pictures on this site may not be appropriate for young children.

Thursday, April 17, 2003
The very commonplaces of life are components of its eternal mystery
          --Gertrude Atherton
Tried to get some pictures of the flowers today--partially because I like flowers and partially because I like to play with the digital camera. (I lucked out on picking the Iris. Not a clue as to what I was getting. This one however is quite pretty.) They turned out only okay, but I have plenty of opportunity to take more pictures!

I also took pictures of the guest bedroom--in its current state. I still am having problems with getting the picture right for stitching, getting the lighting right, and holding the stupid camera still. Either way, it's not too bad of a job (considering it took me about 10 minutes for the entire process), though I want to redo that room even more--with all the computer junk gone you can actually see the horrid wallpaper.

Archeology may confirm the existence of the biblical kings David and Solomon. The research doesn't prove whether the stories put forth in the bible are true or not, it only shows that various structures were created in the time period when it is believed that the Israelite Kings David and Solomon are believed to have lived.

Here is another piece of commentary on the continued looting of Baghdad which is again more eloquent than I have managed to be. She reiterates some of the points I've been making, that many of the problems occurring can be laid on the doorstep of Donald "It's an Air War" Rumsfeld, who insisted that a large number of troops for a ground war were not available, since they wouldn't be necessary.

Cirque Du Soleil is currently in Baltimore, and will be going to Columbus this summer. I think I would really like to see that show--despite the fact that tickets are quite expensive. Baltimore would be ideal, because then I could visit Grandmom, but Columbus would be a good alternative--and it will be after finals are over. Of course depending upon how things work out, we might not even be able to afford tickets, but it would be really fun....

Media bias? Apparently if you are a conservative Republican, you are more likely to think the media is biased if you talk primarily to other conservative Republicans. They found little variance for Democrats.

Which just goes to show that listening to Rush Limbaugh really does skew your perceptions and rot your brain.

More on the dangers of antibacterial products and the conversion of triclosan into dioxin.

Thanks to the wonders of virtual anthropology, we now know that not getting a good seat in the theatre in ancient Greece may have meant not being able to see the stage at all. Makes those less than desirable lawn seats look a lot better.

Yogurt really is good for you. A recent study found that eating yogurt not only helped people lose more weight, but they also lost a higher percentage of fat that those dieters who did not consume yogurt. They also found that adding yogurt to the diet helped to reduce stomach fat.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003
To Live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else
          --Emily Dickenson
It should not have been that difficult. I just wanted to print out my resume. That's all. But that process ended up involving sniping back and forth between Michael and me, a lot of crawling behind my computer, more sniping, a trip to Office Despot, changing the black ink cartridge, more fiddling with the printer, and then finally (finally!) printing a nice copy of my resume with associated cover letter so that perhaps I can find get a GA position so that Michael and I will then have no money.

On days like this I wonder what people who are not computer savvy, and don't able to deal with these issues, do when a problem like this comes up.

No, I take that back. I know exactly what they do.

They call us.

Regardless, the entire evening is gone, with my only accomplishments being getting the printer to work, and balancing the checkbook. I never even got the chocolate milkshake I wanted.

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On a completely different note, WHO has confirmed that SARS is caused by a corona virus-- the virus that causes the common cold. The cool thing is that this confirmation is due to the research of 13 different laboratories. Considering how proprietary since has become in recent years a (like the fact that you can patent living creatures) it's good to see different groups working together, instead of in competition. This is how science is supposed to work, although it rarely does. There is also information in the CDC website about he sequencing of the SARS genome and how this may effect the outbreak. The CDC also lists the number of suspected infections in each state and global information is available at the WHO site.

And more on why antibacterial soaps are bad.... Triclosan may convert to dioxin on exposure to sunlight or sewage treatment. So you can STOP USING ANTIBACTERIAL PRODUCTS NOW! Becuase they are BAD! BAD! BAD!

Can I say it again? BAD!

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Today's walking music was Bloodletting by Concrete Blonde. I almost chose Prince's Sign O' the Times but since I listened to Prince yesterday (Around the World in a Day--one of my favorites) I opted for something else. I haven't decided if this delving into the past is good for me or not (not that I have any choice unless I buy a new CD walkman), because some of the music brings back memories of where I was in my life when I listened that music. I dunno, another one of those topics that makes me think, but when I try to compose my thoughts and write them down, I realize that I was once again thinking in circles and in the end there was little of substance to where my mind would wander. Oh, and my good news for the day is that I aced my paper for Environmental Health. I am really pleased about that, and am even doing a little happy dance (on the inside).

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Tuesday, April 15, 2003
The mistake a lot of politicians make is in
forgetting they've been appointed and
thinking they've been anointed
          --Mildred Webster Pepper
Got to see Andy and Heather yesterday. As usual the visit was far too short, but it was longer than our last visit, so this was a good thing. We spent more time with Heather, and got to know her better, and I really like her. Andy and I had a rousing discussion about anything having to do with politics, which I, of course, immensely enjoyed. We of course ranged far and wide with our topics, covering everything from the war to welfare.

Nobody can piss me off like Andy.

I really miss that.

I considered saying something about the threatening noises the administration is making towards Syria, but decided that I couldn't do so without using a wide variety of four letter words, so I'll be saving that for later.

Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, Iraqi Minister of Information's Greatest Hits: "NO", snapped Mr al-Sahaf, "We have retaken the airport. There are NO Americans there. I will take you there and show you. IN ONE HOUR!" and "They are superpower of villains. They are superpower of Al Capone."

"Almost all of the contents of Iraq's national library and archives are reported to have been destroyed by fire, meaning the loss of priceless records of the country's history ... A Western journalist - Robert Fisk of the Independent - reporting from the site of the library told the BBC that the whole building had been gutted, with handwritten documents from as far back as the 16th century - when Iraq was part of the Ottoman Empire - strewn on the ground. A nearby Islamic library has also gone in up in flames, he said, destroying valuable literature including one of the oldest surviving copies of the Koran."

Perhaps history is being made, but it is also being destroyed just as quickly.

Monday, April 14, 2003
Life isn't a matter of milestones but of moments
          --Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy
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Congratulations James and Dani!
Welcome to Hunter Jade born today.

Hunter's website.

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I was listening to a news segment on spam, and how people want to make it illegal, and how much of a problem it is, and so on and so forth, but the thought occurred to me, and it may have occurred to others as well, that people wouldn't use spam if it didn't work! The same for those horrid pop-up and pop-under ads (most of which, thankfully, Mozilla blocks for me). So I would think that a much more effective way of stopping spam would be to not purchase anything from spammers, I mean, if we boycott anyone who sends us unscolisited e-mail, then shouldn't that send them a message?

But more interestingly, to me at least, is who are the people who are purchasing this spam sent items? I think a better use of government time would be not to make laws about spam, but to instead go to companies that spam, and obtain their list of customers who purchased items after receiving spam, and then publicizing that list, so that the rest of us who don't want junk e-mail can know who these fools are.

It would certainly be a far better use of time than making a law that can't be enforced, won't be enforced, and has the likelihood of curtailing legitimate use of the internet.
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Sunday, April 13, 2003
Convince an enemy, convince him that he's wrong
Is to win a bloodless battle where victory is long
A simple act of faith
In reason over might
To blow up his children will only prove him right
History will teach us nothing
          Sting -- History Will Teach Us Nothing (1987)
From yesterday's Non-Sequitur:

Non-Sequitur cartoon

Back to SARS, I still have not heard anything from or about my friends in China. I hope that everything is fine with them. Recent reports seem to indicate that the epidemic has not, in fact, slowed in China, and that the disease may be spreading to other regions. I heard something on NPR the other day, about the fact that Chinese officials were refusing to publish any information about the epidemic, to keep from panicking the populace. I can only imagine what information is getting out, and how that is affecting people.

Regarding the ransacking history, Erin sent me a link, which came, I believe, from Neil Gaiman's online journal about the looting of the Iraqi National Museum. Written far better than my earlier attempt to express how I feel about the situation.

As the day has gone along, I keep thinking that there is more I want to add about the recovery of our soldiers, but the news is covering it all. It just makes me happy to know that here are seven families today who received good news when soldiers came to their door. Children who will have their parents back, parents who will be able to hug their children again.

But it's a bittersweet joy as I think of all those whose loved ones have died--children who will never again be held by their parents.

Why must our governments choose this means for solving problems? What is so inherently wrong with the human race that we see the destruction of others as a viable political solution? And by this, I am not blind to the realities of the situation. I am just as disturbed by the actions of the Ba'ath party in Iraq as the actions of my own government. The more I read, the more relieved I am that I do not have TV, so that I am not subjected to constant images of the war and its destruction, but again, I realize how lucky I am to have that choice. To escape from the war and its aftermath, by simply refusing to view it.

There but for the grace of God go I.

Forces have recovered six or seven American soldiers, but it is not yet known whether they are those who were listed as POW or MIA. News from the BBC

An article in the NY Times says that it is the members of the 507th and Apache pilots, and the article specifically mentions a women POW recovered.

I read this last night, but was too tired to post anything about it.

The Iraqi National museum has been ransacked, with a hundred and seventy thousand items of historical and cultural significance being looted. The blurb on NPR this morning interviewed a professor from Chicago who had helped compile a list of sites of historical and archeological significance that was given to both the military and the white house, and he said that the museum topped that list, with a request that the museum be guarded when the city was taken. Items that were 7000 years old, from when the area was known as Mesopotamia, were stolen or destroyed. The loss of these items does not effect just Iraq, but the entire world, for it is the history of civilization that has been lost or destroyed.

Before, I've wondered how items of historical significance become lost to time. The actions of the Taliban in Afghanistan seemed an abberation to me. How could people destroy such irreplaceable items? Do they not understand their historical and cultural significance? The answer is quite clearly, no. The burning of the library at Alexandria isn't surprising in retrospect, it should have been expected.

All in all, I simply find it terribly depressing.

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Saturday, April 12, 2003
Monarchs ought to put to death the authors and instigators of war,
as their sworn enemies and as dangers to their states.
          --Queen Elizabeth I
Flubtitles website contains the English subtitles to foreign movies. Most of these movies seem to be of the Kung Foo variety, which is unsurprising. "The police suspects that you gamble illegally, assault, cheating, and also stealing old lady's underwear" and "Why am I to stupid? " As for "She said you're Stupid with all the fats in your body " I'm pretty sure I know exactly who that is.

Some pictures from the latest project, including how the bedroom looked with some of the books from the other rooms (other books were in the basement).

I have not even looked at a school work for days. Instead, we did house projects, which was a nice change. The floors are done--I decided not to do the bedroom, but it didn't really need it since it's barely walked upon (and then typically in socks and slippers. Not hard on a floor.) and that was pretty hard work, mostly because it meant moving absolutely everything out of those rooms, followed by me sitting on the floor with a paintbrush and the can of Deft putting three coats on each floor. Ugh. And then we got to put everything back together. The books have now been reorganized, and books went to my mother, and books are going to my grandmother, and I have books to trade in at The Bookshelf and books to donate to Christian Help--plus a lot of other stuff to donate to Christian Help. Stuff that is useful--but not to me. Things like boxes of (unused) crayons and the like. Stuff I don't need, but don't want to throw away, because it seems to me that someone should be able to use it. The only problem is of course that last I heard Christian Help was no longer open Saturdays for donations, which will make donating my stuff difficult. We'll see.

The other big thing was setting up the computers in the basement. Michael put in the breaker and ran the electric Thursday, so the computers are all on their own circuit now, and we got everything moved down here and set up. Did I mention that Michael got a new computer desk? Yup, he got a new desk and I got a new chair. His old desk and the comfy reading chair that was absolutely covered in cat fur went along side the road at noon, each with it's own "FREE" sign. The chair was gone by 12:30, the desk was gone by 1:30. There are advantages to living along a busy road. So we have a separate power circuit, and Michael has a new desk, and everything is set up relatively comfortably, so we now have a "new" computer room, which means that we now have an honest-to-God spare room. So when you come to visit you now have a place to sleep besides the futon in the basement (which is still available). All in all it turned out well, but it did emphasize the fact that I really want to redo that room. It has ugly wallpaper on the lower half of the wall, and ecru flat pain above, and it just isn't us, and the new layout really emphasizes that. Hopefully the painting will come this summer (although I really am not looking forward to taking off that wallpaper. Yuck). But the important thing is that we now have a spare bedroom.

Plus, we picked up some more day lilies and irises, which are planted along the front of the house, and today I planted the lavender plants beside the driveway, and I also planted some sunflower seeds by the mailbox and under the bird feeder in front of the house. We'll see what happens. Either way, we've completed another fairly big house project, and made things look better, and I'm really hoping that the flowers and shrubs will take off this summer.

But now I have to return to the world of school and studying, for finals are just around the corner. Yuck!

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Friday, April 11, 2003
Realization: I've been placing books helter-skelter on bookshelves in the living room since the shelves were full. I had to empty the bookshelves to clear out the living room.

Thought: I'll get rid of some books--that should give me room to fit everything on shelves.

Reality: I have a pile of books for my grandmother, a pile of books for my mom, and a pile of books for The Bookshelf or charity, and I still have a huge stack of books that won't fit on the shelves.

And this is just the first two bookshelves.

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Thursday, April 10, 2003

I'm in the basement!

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It's a good thing that I turned in my paper yesterday, because I think I'm killing off brain cells left and right, putting this protective coat on the floors.
Yes, I have windows open (despite the cold) but it is still very strong smelling. But I have two coats on most of the living room floor (the stuff I'm using requires only 2 hours between coats. It's not really meant for floors, but I have neither the time nor the energy to refinish the floors, so this will do nicely as a cheat, thank you) then we'll rearrange things this afternoon so I can get the computer room, and that will be followed by the bedroom. So the house will stink for days. And in the midst of this the computer room will be moved down to the basement, so that we can have an actual spare bedroom, thanks to Michelle S. wanting to get rid of a spare bed (Thanks Michelle!).

But it's good to be doing stuff with the house again.

Oh, we got more day lilies for the front of the house, as well as two irises, and I picked up three lavender plants, which I think will go along the driveway. We'll see how the seeds I replanted do. Either way, it's also nice to be be able (again, despite the cold) to be doing something about greenery about the house. Now if we could just get the grass beside the driveway to grow!)

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On the news front, the Muslim community in WV has formed to bring Mohammed, the Iraqi civilian whose tip led to the rescue of Jessica Lynch, to WV, Unfortunately the link in the Charleston Gazette is currently not functioning, but may be later. The story was also mentioned in WVPR's Dateline WV, and you can hear the story at the West Virginia Public Radio website--if you hurry. It was aired Wednesday.

Either way, I think it's fantastic that someone is doing something for this gentleman who risked to much.

I'll share more as I find is an article in today's DA on the subject. As usual, Morgantown's conservative fish wrapper has nothing on the subject, which is what I'd expect from that bastion of conservatism, misspelling and poor editing.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2003
In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for;
as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.
          --Henry Louis Mencken
Today's walking music is A Quiet Normal Life, The Best of Warren Zevon

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Over-the-counter pain relievers may prevent breast cancer This is a very interesting study, and I'm curious to know more about it, I mean, an average of two a week, but can that also be 10 in a month or does it have to be on a weekly basis, because I tend to take NSAIDs only about one week a month, and not at any other time. Does that count? And what about rebound headaches and such? I've read recently about rebound headaches where people people take a pain killer and then suffer terrible headaches whenever they don't take a pain killer, although the examples that were used in the stories I believe were Tylenol, but that doesn't reassure me that it won't happen with other drugs. So I'm supposed to take aspirin for heart health, and any kind of NSAID for reduction of breast cancer risk, but some kinds of NSAIDs can lead to rebound headaches, so what am I supposed to do? I suppose the sensible thing would be to do what I've been doing, and take ibuprofen when needed, and aspirin if I have a headache that I feel warrants it (which to be honest is not very often).

It's just confusing that the information seems to be so contradictory in some ways. Medicines are good for one thing but can cause other problems... Of course I realize upon reflection that I sound like an idiot, I mean, all medications have side effects, and that includes herbal medications and natural remedies, but what I'm specifically considering is whether the possibility of a bad outcome for following one course of action is outweighed by the good outcome of following another course of action.

I suppose that if I asked a doctor, I would be told that it all depends upon my specific situation: that if I was at high risk for heart disease then I would want to take aspirin, and if I was at a high risk of breast cancer, I might want to consider a course of NSAIDs, but if I don't have risks for those, then I probably don't need to take those medications.

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I turned in my paper. I decided that I wasn't really going to look over it anymore, so I sent it off, and it's done. Hoorah!

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Tuesday, April 08, 2003
Giving unchecked freedom to one group means denying it to another.
          --Eric Schlosser
A recent study looking at quality of life in obese children found that obese children have significantly impaired quality of life, comparable to that of children with cancer. This fits right into the fact that this is National Public Health week and the focus this year is on obesity and overweight you can find information on public health week on the CDC website and at the World Health Organization website.

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Today's walking music is Document by REM, which contains one of my favorite songs by REM Exhuming McCarthy. If you are interested in reading where the excerpt from that song came, you can check here. Of course what worries me the most is that I see portions of our government seeming to want to go back to the blacklisting and witch hunts of the McCarthy era, and I wonder if they realize that is how things look from the outside.

I've got a couple of posts recently that are extra wordy, so in the true spirit of the internet, I've taken an idea I've seen elsewhere and appropriated it for my own. So posts that are out-of-control long, now get to live on their own pages, and you can read them by the simple click of a hyperlink. If you, my loyal reader, think this idea sucks and absolutely hate it, please let me know and I'll go back to being all wordy all on one page.

Okay, I came across this at Neil Gaiman's Journal, it's the Brick Testament. Please beware that there is lego nudity and lego sex here, but the site does give warnings and guidance for sex, violence, nudity and cursing, so you can avoid that which may offend you.

Erin's new poetry discussion board is up on her new site! Check it out!

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Eric Schlosser on Fast Food Nation

So Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation spoke last night, and although I think he may have, to a degree, been preaching to the converted, I hope that at least some of the students who were forced to attend as a requirement for a class got something out of it.

He started out by asking why, in the midst of everything that is happening in the world right now, is the subject of fast food worth talking about? I think he summed it up very nicely in a quotation that is directed not just specifically at the fast food industry in the US, but to the world in general “giving unchecked freedom to one group means denying it to another.” When we refuse to regulate the fast food industry, or the meat packing industry, or the agribusiness giants, we are taking away the freedom or workers and consumers, and that is something that is simply not considered.

He says that you can tell a lot about a country by what it eats, and that fast food has really changed America, but he stressed that things don't have to be they way they are, because although these companies are extremely powerful, they are not invulnerable. These companies are having for the first time to deal with criticism of what they are doing, because the battle with the fast food industry is one for our health, our future and our freedom to choose.

He talked about how freedom is the bedrock of every society that ever was, because the ability to develop writing came from the fact that agricultural surplus allowed our ancestors the leisure to develop writing and culture and everything else that has come to define modern society....

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You are also read what the Daily Athenaeum and the Dominion Post had to say about the talk, as well as a DA review of Fast Food Nation. (As usual, the article in the DP is poorly written with mistypes and other problems.)

blue green line rule

I'd heard about this last week, but I did not pay a lot of attention to it. This quote from an editorial in the NY Times sums things up rather nicely I think:
Last week John Kerry told an audience that "what we need now is not just a regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime change in the United States." Republicans immediately sought to portray this remark as little short of treason. "Senator Kerry crossed a grave line when he dared to suggest the replacement of America's commander in chief at a time when America is at war," declared Marc Racicot, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Notice that Mr. Racicot wasn't criticizing Mr. Kerry's choice of words. Instead, he denounced Mr. Kerry because he "dared to suggest the replacement of America's commander in chief" knowing full well that Mr. Kerry was simply talking about the next election. Mr. Racicot, not Mr. Kerry, is the one who crossed a grave line; never in our nation's history has it been considered unpatriotic to oppose an incumbent's re-election.
wavy line ruler
7 April 2003
Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the
powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.
          -- Paulo Freire
Eric Schlosser spoke this evening, it was a great talk, and I took lots of notes, but the talk went quite late, and I'm still not adjusted to daylight savings time, so I'd best save it for tomorrow.


"11C-Acetate PET shows promise for early detection of prostate cancer recurrence."

"Scientists from the University of Minnesota demonstrated yields of corn and soybeans were only minimally reduced when organic production practices were utilized as compared with conventional production practices. After factoring in production costs, net returns between the two production strategies were equivalent." Which means that the claims that chemical fertilizers and pesticides are a requirement to meet growing demand aren't valid. There is no excuse to continue with high polluting agricultural strategies, and it also leads one to wonder about the price difference between organic and standard produced foods. Are standard farms really that subsidized? Just a thought.

Here is an interesting article on female POWs and the Geneva convention on FindLaw.


Today's walking music: The Replacements Don't Tell a Soul

According to the BBC, it seems as if the global SARS death total has reached 100. Australia has enacted rules for quarantine, and the closing of schools if needed.

There is also an interesting article on the BBC website about how the SARS epidemic is being handled in China. I have not heard anything from my friends in China recently, so I don't know if they are affected by this at all or not. I hope not.


There is a very interesting article on Al-Jazeera on the BBC website. I think what has fascinated me about the station, is that we Americans have called for a free and independent press in the Middle East, but yet we have had constant complaints because Al-Jazeera is just that, a free an independent press. I think what the US really wants is a press in the middle east that is independent in name, but dances to the tune of the American government, and we can't have it both ways.

Did Al-Jazeera make a mistake when they broadcast footage from Iraqi TV of American POWs? It was their decision to make, and they made it, which is, I think the important thing that people are missing. Yes, the footage was upsetting, there is no denying that. But are we harmed by information? As I've said before, is the footage of American POWs and dead shown in Arab TV wrong while the US media continue to show the faces of Iraqi POWs and surrendering troops and (in some cases) dead? Is there a fundamental difference between the two types of footage? I don't know. As I don't have cable, and have not seen any of the TV coverage, I can only speak of what I see in print and on the web, and hear on the radio, but I am not sure that there is a fundamental difference between allowing Al-Jazeera to have freedom of the press, and allowing the same thing here in the U.S. We shall see.


All in all, despite the somewhat dreary weather, it was a pleasant weekend. I think I'm pretty much done with my paper, did some spring cleaning (I washed all the curtains upstairs. I have to say it's not the cleaning I mind as much as the ironing. I don't know how people put up with having to wear things that require ironing all the time, wrinkled is much easier. And I read through several gardening books, trying to decide what I want to do outside. Perhaps you have to have a green thumb to appreciate it, but I love working with plants and seeing all the green and new growth. I dunno, I'm sure people who garden more than I can explain it better, but there is something satisfying about it.

On the way to the dentist this morning, despite the drizzle, so many trees are in bloom, and so a week ago there were bare limbs, suddenly all around the trees were covered in white or pink flowers, or green buds. And bulbs are flowering--I've got daffodils in my yard, and you can see them throughout town, and the leaves on the tulips are up, and you know they'll be blooming soon. As much as I enjoy the beauty of winter, in the snow and the ice, it's time for spring.

6 April 2003
"One in three American Christians call themselves evangelicals and many evangelicals believe the second coming of Christ will occur in the Middle East after a titanic battle with the anti-Christ. Does the president believe he is playing a part in the final events of Armageddon? If true, it is an alarming thought."

5 April 2003
The bodies recovered with Jessica Lynch were identified today as:
Sgt. George Buggs, 31, Barnwell, South Carolina;
Master Sgt. Robert Dowdy, 38, Cleveland, Ohio;
Pvt. Ruben Estrella-Soto, 18, El Paso, Texas;
Spc. James Kiehl, 22, Comfort, Texas;
Chief Warrant Officer Johnny Villareal Mata, 35, Amarillo, Texas;
Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa, 23, Tuba City, Arizona;
Pvt. Brandon Sloan, 19, Cleveland, Ohio and
Sgt. Donald Walters, 33, Kansas City, Missouri.
My sympathy goes out to their families, as I can only imagine that they had hopes that their loved ones too would also be found alive.

To view photographs, when available, of the missing and dead, you can go to the Baltimore Sun or CNN.

"The dead included the first American woman soldier killed in the Iraq war, Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa, 23, of Tuba City, Ariz. Piestewa, a Hopi who was one of the few American Indian women in the military, was the mother of a 4-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl." I again hope that the generosity that the American people have shown Jessica Lynch will also go out to these two children who have lost their mother, and the other children and loved ones of those who have died in this conflict.

4 April 2003
Main Entry: hu∑bris
Pronunciation: 'hyŁ-br&s
Function: noun
Etymology: Greek hybris
Date: 1884
: exaggerated pride or self-confidence
- hu∑bris∑tic /hyŁ-'bris-tik/ adjective
I can hope that the U.S. will be as generous with the Iraqi civilian responsible for the rescue of Jessica Lynch as they are willing to be with her. " "A person, no matter his nationality, is a human being," the man, a 32-year-old lawyer whose wife was a nurse at the hospital, said in an interview at Marines' headquarters, where he, his wife and daughter are being treated as heroes and guests of honor."


Forum in the War in Iraq

Last night there was a forum on the war, presented by the Office for Social Justice. The three presenters were history professor William Arnett, religious studies professor Aaron Gale, and political science professor Joe Hagel. The set up was to be a brief talk by each of the presenters (about ten minutes) followed by a question and answer session. Unsurprisingly, the presentations ran longer than ten minutes, but that was okay, because there was a lot of background material to cover and ten minutes was a very short period of time in which to do so. Enjoyably, there was no decisiveness from any members of the audience, which could have been quite likely considered that this topic has been polarized even further in recent days.

Professor Arnett started the presentations, and, unsurprisingly for anyone who has had him for class, he ran over this time limit. This was not, again, a bad thing though, because there were about 6000 years of history to cover, and it is impossible to cover that much information in such a short period of time. Starting in about 4000 BCE there were a long succession of state and empires in Mesopotamia—the land now known as Iraq. We have written and archeological records for the past 4000 years of history for this region, both Mesopotamia and Egypt, known as the cradle of civilization...

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3 April 2003
That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is
the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.
           -- Aldous Huxley
Some thing came to mind just now, about all the protesters, yelling about the war and how our government is not following the will of the people, and so on and so forth. I have just this to ask: Who did you vote for in the last presidential election?

What? You say you couldn't be bothered to vote?

What about the last congressional election? The one that gave Bush his "mandate from the people" to do whatever he wanted?

You didn't make that one either?

You know what? You don't vote, you don't have the right to bitch.

I voted in 2000, and I voted in 2002. I did my part. If you couldn't be bothered to get off your butt, then you got what you asked for. I am singularly unimpressed with most of what is happening now. The "pro-peace" rallies where everyone douses themselves in fake blood or the calls for slaughter of American troops show nothing except a lack of understanding about how the American system works, and their own lack of respect for human life. You HAD your chance to do something, and you deliberately missed it.


If you want to impress me with your activism, then why not get out and become politically active? Why not make a point to take your friends with you to vote next time we have an election?

But if you can't be bothered to vote, then please shut-up. Your right to bitch stopped 100 feet from the polls.

Democratic Party. Libertarian Party. Thomas
the U.S. Congress
on the Internet.
Project Vote Smart The ACLU

colorful line

The World Health Organization is now recommending that people put off travel to Hong Kong and the Guangdong province of China because of SARS. Here is the CDC page on SARS.

It's always hard for me to judge, since I miss the TV news, but I am curious as to how much of this is reaching the general public, and how it's being expressed.

From her hospital bed in Germany, Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch wanted to know if the story of her capture in Iraq and her dramatic rescue made the local newspaper.

I really hope that everything is going to be okay with her, because she really sounds like a wonderful person.

colorful line

More on Jessica Lynch:
An article in the NY Times which includes a quote I really liked: ""What she has learned growing up in the country and woods, and by what her brother put her through, that kind of prepared her for a lot," Mr. Lynch said."

An in the Washington Post says this: "Pfc. Jessica Lynch, rescued Tuesday from an Iraqi hospital, fought fiercely and shot several enemy soldiers after Iraqi forces ambushed the Army's 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition, U.S. officials said yesterday."

And an article in the Baltimore Sun. "The military official said that while special operations soldiers, pilots and some other fighters are trained in how to endure being held by hostile forces, Lynch, as a private in a maintenance brigade, would not have received such training, known as Survival, Escape and Evasion."
Okay, all this brings to mind several questions. First, why is it that everyone in West Virginia cares so much about this? I think the reason is multifold. This is a state of 1.8 million. Comparatively, New York city has a population of 7.8 million. This is also a state that has suffered on-going economic hardship for as long as I can remember. When we heard reports that she joined the army because she couldn't find a job and she couldn't afford to go to school, I think that everyone in WV knows someone like that, which brings it close to home. I think the other reason is that there is something about being from West Virginia--having to out up with the redneck jokes, and people who don't understand that we are a separate state, and we aren't near the beach. So those of us who live here, I think we feel a degree of affiliation with her, because even those of us living in the most urban areas have left the state, and gone to "big" cities, and felt overwhelmed (even if we didn't want to admit it) by the sheer numbers of people, and the size of the buildings, and the fact that things there just weren't like home. Even here in Morgantown, where we don't speak with a drawl (but we say y'all) we live in a county of only 81 thousand people. Chances are, that when you meet someone (not a student, but a townie) you'll know someone in common, which I think makes one tend to be more friendly, since you almost know them already.

Not that you can't have this in other areas, and in other states, but I think it is much less common, which is why, for most of us, when someone from the state does well, everyone has a sense of pride, because even if we don't know the person, it seems like we should know someone else who knows that person, so it's like seeing a friend do well.

I don't know if that made any sense or not, but even if it didn't, just know that it's a nice feeling, to feel that your state is part of your community.

The other question brought to mind by those articles, is why is it that we don't give survival training to all soldiers, and if the answer is cost, then why would we be sending people who do not have such training into an area where they could be captured or face enemy troops? This incident seems to show that we must either better train our supply personnel who must enter hostile territory, or we must make sure such areas are secure before sending such personnel in. Of course I'm not an expert, and I know only what I read, but it saddens me that we have placed people into situations for which they are not prepared.

2 April 2003
Flowers are not made by singing "Oh, how beautiful," and sitting in the shade.
          --Rudyard Kipling
leaf bullet  Busy day after work. Got home and decided that since it was so beautiful out, and should remain beautiful, this would be a good time to move all the plants out out to the porch (it's certainly warmer outside than in the basement!) So my porch is again full of green plants... though looking at the forecast I'll have to cover everything after the weekend, since I see cold temperatures for next week (sigh). But it is good to get everything outside. The porch (which still needs cleaned unfortunately) looks much better with all the plants out there, and I'm sure the plants much prefer the light and fresh air to being cooped up in the basement. Since we won't be able to do anything else until Sunday, we went to Lowe's after work. Went to get some pots and some seeds (to replace what did not bloom). Came home with" a raspberry bush, tiny day lilies, a lavender plant (to make up for the non-sprouting lavender seeds) some other seeds to plant in the planter boxes that did not have a high sprouting success rate, dirt and the required pots.

So not only did Michael get to repot the plants that needed repotted, he also got to dig a hole for the raspberry bush and then another for the day lilies. I think I may get some more day lilies, because I think they'd look nice in the front of the house, hiding the ugly laticework under the porch. The only problem is that area is sheltered from the rain for the most part, and so I need to come up with a good plan for getting everything watered. I'm wondering whether I should invest in a soaker hose and just leave it there. We also need to find castor oil, because we have a MOLE who is digging up the area. Michael is all for using fatal techniques, I would prefer just making the mole(s) go away. We'll see what happens.

But the point is that it was good to play in the dirt and doing something for my plants other than attempt to keep them alive despite low light, cool temperatures, and extensive kitty grazing. (The added bonus of the plants being outside is that this should reduce the amount of cat vomit we find.) Of course now the living room looks bare, with the Devil's Ivy and the Christmas Cacti outside, so I feel like I should now find a low light plant (other than the rather pathetic looking philodendron that's now there) to add some life (literally) to the living room. Of course any plant I buy now, will have to contest with the annual fall "Good Grief! Where are we going to put all these plants!" So perhaps I'll hold off.

But probably not.

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Got this in my work e-mail today:
1) WVU offers rescued WV POW additional financial assistance to pursue college
West Virginia's rescued prisoner of war Jessica Lynch of Palestine, Wirt County, has been offered financial assistance to attend her home state university - West Virginia University, President David C. Hardesty Jr. announced today upon news of Lynch's miraculous and dramatic rescue. "We've been thinking about and praying for U.S. Army Private First Class Jessica Lynch's safe return since her capture on March 23," Hardesty said. "We've read about her reason for joining the military, and along with her love for her country and her concern for the plight of the Iraqis, she wanted to better her life through a college education. West Virginia University wants to provide that opportunity to our West Virginia hero, and will offer Jessica sufficient financial assistance - in coordination with any other assistance she may receive from the Army - to pursue her dream of becoming a kindergarten teacher - when she is ready, of course."
Okay, don't get me wrong, I think it's fantastic that WVU is doing this, especially since it has been stated repeatedly that the reason she joined the military was to help pay for school. I think this is a wonderful thing for WVU to do, but will they do this for other WV residents who are injured in the war and want to go to school? Is it not reasonable that all from WV who serve their country should receive extra opportunities for education?
I dunno, it's not something that makes me mad, it's just something that I was considering after reading that e-mail.

In other words, is this just a feel-good publicity stunt by the University, or do they really mean it?

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We uncovered the roses again today, since the weather is supposed to get up into the 70s. The new rose we planted in front of the porch looks great, the two miniature roses survived the winter quite well, and I even found that the rose we planted last year, that I thought was a goner, had some tiny little buds on it, so it may not be dead! We woke up extremely early this morning, so for once had plenty of time before leaving for work, so I went out and pruned some of the dead from my holly bushes. The two we planted last spring seems to have come through okay, despite getting buried in the snow, the older plant is okay, but doesn't look quite as healthy. Hopefully some judicious pruning will do the job. The seeds I started in the basement are not doing nearly as well as I'd hoped. The cats traipsing through them might have something to do with that. I'm going to try and get them outside, and see if that helps. It doesn't look like any of the lavender came up. I may go and get some more seeds and try again, since I'd like to keep some year round. Of course I'll either have to send Michael to the store tonight to buy some more seeds, of I'll have to wait until Sunday....

But all in all, it's lovely to have flowers blooming. The crocuses came and went already, the daffodils survived the snow, and there are some small hyacinths up. Michael said he thought some of the tulips were getting ready to bloom as well. The heather I planted last year, came back this year--but just barely. There is a lot of dead I'll have to prune out, and I'm not sure there will be much of the plant left after I prune, but I really hope it will come back.

1 April 2003
American troops have rescued Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch, 19, of Palestine, W.Va!
Thew news is also available at USA Today and the Baltimore Sun.

rock line

There is a good article in the NY Times on SARS and tracking the illness. WHy they think it's a corona virus, what made the World Health Organization thing it was a serious illness, and just general information. I think it's pretty fascinating, but then I would, wouldn't it?

rock line

Today's walking music is Introducing the Hardline According to Terrence Trent D'Arby which, despite all the hype at the time, I still really liked (and still do obviously). The odd bit (there is always an odd bit) is that when I was getting this tape this morning, I realized that it was from a time that was almost half my life ago. Which was a pretty scary thought at first. One of those thoughts that makes you feel older that you feel you really are. But then I thought about it a little more, and realized that this is a good thing. I am not the person I was in my teens and early twenties, and having that part of my life, that far behind me, makes me feel a little better, because I'm glad I'm not that person any more.

So instead of stressing out about getting older, I now feel pretty good, which is always a pleasant change.

An article from the BBC on SARS had two striking paragraphs:
"But on Tuesday when it became clear this strategy was not working, they began to move residents out to disease quarantine centres set up holiday camps."

The combined effect of SARS and the conflict in Iraq has led to a 20% fall in tourists travelling to Cambodia.
Okay, holiday camps? That seems a bit of a misnomer. And I didn't realize that there was a lot of tourism in Cambodia, I mean, when I think of Cambodia, vacation is not what first comes to mind. Perhaps they've recovered from the civil war and strife and unrest and I just didn't know about it.

Okay, besides that bit of irreverence, I wonder when the media is going to start paying attention to this, especially when you get quotes like "He stressed that SARS was more contagious than the deadly Ebola virus." Why would a reporter but something like that in an article, unless he wanted attention for attention's sake? I mean, that looks like a guaranteed way to may the general public completely freak out. Yes we need to be cautious of this, and yes we do not understand its mode of transmission, but to use SARS and Ebola in the same sentence?!

Remember the attack in Mombasa, Kenya on the Mombasa Paradise Hotel, and how it was linked to al Quaeda and the war on terror? It was only five months ago, yet it is already forgotten by those who are not living in Mombassa Kenya. "The local people who either lost their relatives or incurred serious injuries after the bomb attack feel neglected and forgotten. For them life keeps going from bad to worse. " Those injured no longer receive medicine, those who were employed by the hotel never received their paychecks, and the only tangible change is comes from the Kenyan anti-terrorism police unit.

Food combinations 'fight cancer'. Which supports my contention that we're better off eating whole foods than extracting what we think is important and taking that as a supplement. It's kinda of a neat idea that a cancer fighting diet may actually involve specific recipes. Of course it would be nice if they came up with a cookbook for cancer fighting recipes, for I have no idea how to prepare watercress.


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