succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Damn this is funny. The pretzel choking bit made me laugh hysterically. Click the button rapidly and it sounds like a dj re-mix.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Oh! And Steve - I *promise* next time I sit down at my computer for a somewhat-significant length of time, I will carefully read your posts and links and thoughtfully respond. :-)

and just 'cause he complained, hello to Nick the Drunken Music Critic! He writes excellent reviews, and everyone should read them. They can be found here.

So I have this scrawled at the top of my analytical methods for infectious diseases notes - blog points: 1) Nate and Reen's wedding 2) conversation with cara and april 3) & 4) articles about Dean's wife 5) disappearance of Blix 6) intelligence debate (with arrow pointing to 2) 7) meet-up and surreal conversations afterwards 8) interesting comments in classes regarding health intervention programs. So it's been a week since my last entry and apparently the topics have been adding up. I have this theory that since I live alone, and have only the cat to tell about my day, I feel compelled to blog more. You'd think I'd just call some of the people I love more often, but apparently that requires more work. Anyway, this week has felt like about 3 weeks, partly because I'm finally packed my life with enough stuff that I'm getting that cool, footlighters show feeling where the more I have to do, the more it feels like I can get done. And partly because it's February, and even though the sun shines a hell of a lot more often here than in c-land, it's still be kind of "cold" (I use the term loosely) and dreary lately and it's about that time when I start feeling worn out. So I'll re-cap the various goings-on in my life from this week and then move on to however many of points 1-8 I can manage before I get sick of myself. Feel free to skim.

Somehow I managed to have a vaguely grown-up, 9-5-type schedule this week. And I don't like it. I always spend all day Monday at school 'cause I have a morning class and a night class, and it just seems silly to waste the time in between watching tv at home (since we all know attempting productivity at home is completely fruitless). But then somehow Tuesday turned into a marathon day too, with a March Meet-up meeting in the evening. The meet-up was awesome, everyone was really motivated and it felt like we got a lot of stuff started in terms of spreading word about the march and putting up fliers and organizing buses. Afterwards April and I had a great, but surreal, conversation with 3 random middle-aged guys (see point 7). Wednesday was the first time this semester I actually had both my wednesday classes, which also kind of sucked because one is in the morning and the other is from 4:30-7:30, the worst time for a class ever, as far as I'm concerned. Thankfully, the lecture tends to be slightly amusing since the prof has a pretty thick south-boston accent. It's a little like being taught generalized linear models by ben affleck's character in good will hunting, although significantly less annoying. Straight from class I went to the alumni house where the grad school was sponsoring a free wine and cheese event. Which was awesome. Since my apt is within walking distance of the alumni house, travers, reese, andy, and jen stumbled back to my place, as I was supposed to give them a sober ride home, but jen curled up around my toilet before that could happen. Undaunted, the boys and I had perhaps the best time since I've moved here. Seriously, it was like the early days at Belmar Estates when we would just laugh and laugh and laugh and when we tried to explain it to anyone, they would just look confused and smile and nod. I spent the entire next morning giggling to myself about the previous night, so now everyone I passed on the way to school thinks I'm a nut. Ah well, small price to pay. So then Thur. I have a make-up class for this horrid three hour class. Three hour classes should a) never be taught across the dinner hour and b) never be taught on consecutive days. Anyway. After that I had a graduate senate meeting, which was ok, and then another fabulous taco mac night (though our friendly manager wasn't there :-( ) Friday morning it was up before the sun for health and human rights class (two hours about torture is a little heavy that early in the morning) then the gazillionth seminar of the week (we're interviewing faculty candidates and 3rd and 4th years are presenting thesis proposals, so we have several a week; most of which are interesting, but still, that's an hour that I could really use!) So I thought I deserved a little "retail therapy" (good grief I'm a girl) and bought this t-shirt that absolutely made my day - "free to be you & me" in velvety letters with a little rainbow. April spent all of dinner tonight staring at my breasts in envy. She's going to buy her own tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow, I will be getting up before noon (a former rarety for me on the weekends) to attend HandsOn Atlanta orientation and sort books for the Goodwill book sale, then catch Verrocchio's David at the High Museum with Anna before the exhibit ends on Sunday. Whew. So that's why I haven't been around. Now, on to the stuff that's been occupying far too much brain space.

1) Nate and Reen's Wedding - for those who are going, have you gotten/are you getting hotel rooms? Does anyone want to share? Also, there's a small chance I'll need a ride from Pittsburg, anyone going to be passing through that way? If you're interesting in spending a night there, I can promise a nice place to crash.

2) So I spent last weekend helping my friend Cara move. And afterwards she and April and I ended up having a really great conversation about politics in general, Clinton and Bush, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. April is perhaps more liberal than I, Cara is definitely more middle of the road-to-conservative (on a few issues). What I appreciated most was Cara's military perspective. She personally isn't in the military, but her entire family is (and has been her entire life). I've never really gotten that point of view before, and Cara was both well-informed and well-spoken, which made for excellent conversation. (afterwards April called a friend to say "I think I'm going to have to stop viewing Bush as out to ruin the country and perhaps give him the benefit of the doubt more often." to which her friend replied, "are you drunk?") Anyway, Cara told very compelling stories about watching grown men's lives get ruined during the Clinton administration due to military budget cuts and spoke very passionately of her distaste for Clinton. As someone who is typically in favor of a smaller military, this isn't something that concerned me too much when it was happening, but she made excellent points about how the budget cuts could have been carried out in a much better, fairer fashion. She also voiced the opinion that Bush was mislead by the intelligence that was provided to him. A statement to which I did not have a good answer at the time, but do now (see point 5). Anyway, all in all it was very enlightening and something I've been missing a lot lately.

3) Katha Pollitt has a terrific article about Judy Dean in The Nation. My favorite bits:

"It's possible she and her husband didn't understand they had left the real world for Mediaville, where it's always 1955, and thought it was no big deal if she kept working in Shelburne instead of being marched around Iowa in a power suit with a big bottle of Valium in her purse. Here's something I do know, though: Every day, this woman, about whom nobody who knows her has a mean word to say, gets up and does one of the most valuable things a human being can do on this earth: She takes care of sick people. Ordinary local people, not media princesses and princes. Is that the problem? If Judy Steinberg were a cosmetic surgeon or a diet doctor or held Botox parties after office hours, if her patients were famous, or the friends of the famous, if she could dish on the phone about Arnold Schwarzenegger and Martha Stewart, would the media cat pack think Judy Steinberg was cool?"


"But actually, it's only when a wife has her own identity that her choices are scrutinized. If Dr. Judith Steinberg was simply Judy Dean, if she spent her life doing nothing so important it couldn't be dropped to follow her husband as he followed his star, no one would question her priorities. No one thought less of Barbara Bush because she dropped out of college to get married, like those Wellesley girls in Mona Lisa Smile. No one reprimands Laura Bush for abandoning her career as a librarian and spending her life as her husband's den mother. No one asks Hadassah Lieberman or Elizabeth Edwards or Gertie Clark how come they have so much free time on their hands that they can saddle up with their husbands' campaign for months, or why, if they care so much about politics, they aren't running for office themselves.

Don't you wish, just once, the questioners and pontificators would turn it around? After all, if a woman were running for President, would they expect her doctor husband to abandon his ailing patients and his high-school-age son to soften her image? "


"What if the media tried on for size the notion that having an independent wife says something good about a candidate? For example, maybe, if his wife is not at his beck and call, he won't assume the sun rises because he wants to get up; maybe, if his wife has her own goals in life, her own path to tread, he won't think women were put on earth to further his ambitions; maybe, if he and his wife are true partners--which is not the same as her pouring herself into his career and his being genuinely grateful, the best-case scenario of the traditional political marriage--he may even see women as equals. Why isn't it the candidates who use their wives to further their careers with plastic smiles and cheery waves who have to squirm on Primetime?"

Oh my goodness! Someone actually had the nerve to say that an independent woman who is an equal partner in her marriage might actually be a good thing. Why, whatever will they think of next?!

4) Frank Rich also mentioned the horrid Primetime interview, in his article about the absurdness of defending the "sacred institution" of marriage when the current state of marriage is (often) laughable at best. (he points to Britney Spears, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance, and David Gest and Liza Minnelli as proof that homosexuals joining the fray are the least of the marriage institution's problems) The concluding point:

"Yet neither the $1 million cash nor the $4 million ceremony that sealed their marital contract were mentioned when Trista and Ryan were interviewed by Ms. Sawyer on "Good Morning America." While the Deans were treated like freaks, the stars of "The Bachelorette" were treated as a perfectly normal all-American couple. And perhaps these days they are. Trista and Ryan's wedding broadcast was the top-rated show in virtually every major television market, the one exception being Washington, where it was beaten by a rerun of "Law and Order." If only more of our politicians had tuned in, maybe someone would have figured out that it could be harder to restore the sanctity of marriage than to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."

5) The "disappearance" of Blix. This completely freaks me out. As covered by atrios and tom tomorrow: Bush is claiming that Saddam "did not let us in" (referring to Blix and weapons inspectors) and various administration officials and military officers are repeating that quote on mainstream media, completely unchallenged! What, they're just allowed to completely re-write history now?! WTF? The weapons inspectors didn't do a good job? Insulting, but ok. They didn't receive good intelligence? Dubious, but again, fine. They didn't exist?! I repeat, WTF?

6) Which segue-ways nicely into the intelligence debate. The current party line from the Bushies is, ok, maybe WMDs don't exist, but we were told that they did by bad people who lied to us. Ok, perhaps they didn't say it just like that, but they are claiming it's the result of faulty intelligence rather than, you know, political motivations on the part of Bush, Ashcroft, et al. I know next to nothing about this particular area, but this article states that contrary intelligence was available - from the UN.

"'We were all wrong,' says weapons inspector David Kay. Actually, no. There was one group whose prewar estimates of Iraqi nuclear, chemical and biological capabilities have turned out to be devastatingly close to reality?the U.N. inspectors."


"Why were the inspectors right and the administration wrong? Partly this has to do with political pressure. The CIA had been battered for 30 years by accusations from the right that it was soft on the Soviets, soft on the Chinese and most recently soft on Saddam. (Never mind that in almost every case, the agency was more accurate in its assessments than its neoconservative accusers. It lost the political battle.) The U.N. inspectors could actually make their assessments without fear. (Some in the administration did try to scare them. "We will not hesitate to discredit you," Vice President Cheney said to Blix before he began his job.)"

Ok, so the UN knew, but for whatever reason our administration considered them unreliable. But they believed the intelligence from the CIA, and that's who duped them into believing in the existence of WMDs, right? Not according to Tom Tomorrow. It would seem that the administration distrusted the CIA so much it went about setting up other intelligence sources. Rumsfeld put together his own "intelligence panel" (which often disagreed with intelligence provided by the CIA) and although the Homeland Security Department may not have been working directly on the Iraq problem, wasn't it's creation a sign that Bush thought our current intelligence agencies dropped the ball on 9-11? So if all this distrust already existed between the administration and the CIA, how exactly was it that the CIA was able to provide dubious intelligence and convince the administration to act on it?

7) after the March Meetup, which took place at this cool, political-activist-hangout-bar, April and I were stopped by three middle-aged guys sitting by the door who wanted to know what our meeting had been about. After briefly humoring our spiel they revealed that they were already well aware of the march, one definitely planned to attend, the others were still working out their schedules, and one's ex-wife is a high-ranking member of one of the women's groups sponsoring the march. So they invited us to join them and talk politics, and it was a really great conversation and they really drilled us on a few topics, which was good because I haven't had to defend some of this stuff yet and it was good practice. Turns out two of them work for the CDC and one is even a Biostatistician. So it was cool networking and all but very weird and surreal and just slightly tinged with sketchiness. though that could simply be my own paranoia.

8) lastly, two of my professors this week stated that preventative medicine is at least as expensive as tertiary care. Needless to say, this is an incredibly frustrating thing to say to people studying public health. I'm not yet convinced that they're right, though I suppose "preventative medicine" covers a broad range of things and some might be cheaper than treatment while others might be less cost-effective. Going to have to think about/research this one more and get back to it, just wanted to toss it out there.

And thus endeth the longest post ever.

oh, one last thing - Mark is still in Moscow, where a suicide bomber just blew up part of the metro system. So send him safe, happy thoughts.