succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, February 21, 2004

You're The Guns of August!

by Barbara Tuchman

Though you're interested in war, what you really want to know is what
causes war. You're out to expose imperialism, militarism, and nationalism for what they
really are. Nevertheless, you're always living in the past and have a hard time dealing
with what's going on today. You're also far more focused on Europe than anywhere else in
the world. A fitting motto for you might be "Guns do kill, but so can

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

I've never even heard of this book, but now I feel like I need to go out and read it. I posted on Ahalya's blog that I was to be described as measuring life in coffee spoons. But I think I also like "Guns do kill, but so can diplomats."

And since I know you all care so much, I think I'm hitting my productivity wall, but neverthess, I did manage to get a good chunk of my To Do List accomplished, which is something of a rarety on Saturdays, especially when they begin around 3 pm. I'm hoping to pound out a bit of writing for my health and human rights midterm and then I'm calling it a night. Working at 11:00 on a Saturday night, after watching "Outbreak." Could I be more of a grad student?

Gay marriage stuff

Oops, forgot that I was going to post this, via April. I particularly enjoy #s 6, 9, and 10:

" 6. Gay marriage should be decided by people not the courts, because the majority-elected legislatures, not courts, have historically protected the rights of the minorities.
" 9. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

10. Children can never suceed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why single parents are forbidden to raise children."

And atrios is talking about it some more today too:

"Lyndon Johnson didn't create the Civil Rights movement, and I'm not sure he cared much for it, but at some point he managed to push through legislation which was almost unimaginably far-reaching. He saw where things were headed, and saw what needed to be done and he did it."

Fabulous 24 hours

Played some soccer yesterday afternoon with random public health kids. I mostly sucked, as it's been years since my feet touched a soccer ball, but had lots of fun and plan to make it a regular friday thing (since Brad bails on climbing most fridays anyway). Then birthday extravaganza for Travers and Sanna - perhaps the best party since I got here in August. Lots of new faces, a handful of prospective students, just the right amount of crowd, just the right amount of alcohol. E-mail me if you want some funny pics. Party finally wound down around 4 am, with Andy, Travers, Sanna, Sanna's best friend Jess, and I chillin' and being drunk and using a sharpie for some textual healing. Crashed on the fouton and borrowed way-too-big-for-me pajamas from Andy 'cause April's roommate accidentally locked their door with my stuff inside before I headed to bed. Woke up this morning to Andy in his safety goggles and latex gloves (as usual) in a cleaning frenzy. Lounged on the couch at their place through Scrooged and MacGyver and didn't head home until 3 this afternoon. Which means that it's now 5:30 and the only thing I've marked off my To Do list is go to Krogers. But that's ok because it's an absolutely gorgeous day and somehow that makes me think it'll be easy to finish up the dozen or so things I have left to do before the end of the day. We'll see how that goes.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Ok, it's in the Washington Times, so perhaps it isn't quite time to panic yet, but...oh shit doesn't really seem to cover it.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

More beautiful pics from all the weddings in SF. I think my favorite is of the guy with a post-it note that says, "Justly Maryed." Also, follow the link to send flowers!

Nature or Nurture?

In an interesting example of genetics, my Dad just e-mailed me about a report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Some highlights:

"A growing number of scientists, policy makers, and technical specialists both inside and outside the government allege that the current Bush administration has suppressed or distorted the scientific analyses of federal agencies to bring these results in line with administration policy. In addition, these experts contend that irregularities in the appointment of scientific advisors and advisory panels are threatening to upset the legally mandated balance of these bodies. The quantity and breadth of these charges warrant further examination, especially given the stature of many of the individuals lodging them. Toward this end,the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) undertook an investigation of many of the allegations made in the mainstream media, in scientific journals, and in overview reports issued from within the federal government (2) and by non-governmental organizations (3). To determine the validity of the allegations, UCS reviewed the public record, obtained internal government documents, and conducted interviews with many of the parties involved (including current and former government officials).

1.There is a well-established pattern of suppression and distortion of scientific findings by high-ranking Bush administration political appointees across numerous federal agencies. These actions have consequences for human health, public safety, and community well-being.
2.There is strong documentation of a wide-ranging effort to manipulate the government ’s scientific advisory system to prevent the appearance of advice that might run counter to the administration’s political agenda. These actions include: appointing underqualified individuals to important advisory roles including childhood lead poisoning prevention and reproductive health; applying political litmus tests that have no bearing on a nominee’s expertise or advisory role; appointing a non-scientist to a senior position in the president’s scientific advisory staff; and dismissing highly
qualified scientific advisors.
3.There is evidence that the administration often imposes restrictions on what government scientists can say or write about “sensitive” topics.
4.There is significant evidence that the scope and scale of the manipulation,suppression, and misrepresentation of science by the Bush administration is unprecedented."

Spent part of theory this morning mulling over issues raised by Monster. One of the more troubling parts for me personally were Aileen's parting lines, essentially mocking cliche sayings like everything happens for a reason. Ok, so other parts were tremendously more disturbing, but the parting lines were what I spent most of this morning thinking about, primarily because they are the sort of cliche sayings that I happen to believe in. Believing that everything happens for a reason is a very simplistic way to reduce stress in my life. Once something is out of my control, like an internship application, letting go is easier if I can tell myself that things will work out the way they're meant to. But this is the sort of luxury that someone like me, who's life is pretty damn good, can afford. When Aileen mocks these sorts of sayings while walking to death row, it's clear that none of these statements could ever apply to her life and it would be completely unreasonable to ask her to believe them. (no one could honestly defend getting raped at 13 as something that was "meant to be") So this brings me to an issue I've never been able to settle with myself - why bad things happen to good people. A character in Dan Brown's novel Angels and Demons suggests a parent/child analogy for this question - a parent may know that riding your bike too fast is likely to result in injury, but allowing your child to discover that for themselves will leave a stronger impression than simply telling them not to. Although this analogy might work for small individual examples, I don't find it to be a very satisfactory explanation. Particularly because it implies that the bad things that happen to good people are somehow a) punishment and/or b) a lesson to be learned. That's like saying, in the example of Monster, that Aileen's life sucked because she "chose" to be a hooker. Ok, perhaps she had some choices, but I think assuming that she had the full spectrum of choices that say, someone like I did, is a huge overstatement. (brought home by a particularly painful sequence during which she looks for "real" work) Applied on a larger scale, I suppose one could choose to view all of "mankind" as the child to which God is teaching a lesson, in which case I would agree, to a certain extent, since it's so obvious that society has failed people like Aileen...and we as a society should aspire to evolving in such a way that people like Aileen no longer fall through the cracks...but that's the very big picture/long term sort of idealistic view...and I still don't find this to be a satisfying answer...So, generalizing outside of christianity, not necessarily believing that god/gods/goddesses are looking out for us, but just that things will work out, in some zen/kharmic way, how does one reconcile that belief with all the contrary examples? I realize that perhaps the logical answer would be simply to let go of that belief, but I don't find that to be a very satisfactory solution either. Perhaps I'm just being too picky.

In other news, a group of scientists have published a report criticizing the Bush administration for "'frequently suppressing or distorting' scientific analyses from federal agencies -- including information on condoms and abortion -- when the data disagree with administration policies."

Also, this article about Ashcroft getting sued brought a smile to my face yesterday. Pehaps that makes me a bad person, since I shouldn't really rejoice in other's misfortune, but, well...Ashcroft is a pompous asshole who should get precisely what he deserves. Nothing more, nothing less.

Continuing to work backwards chronologically, I had the opportunity to meet Gillian Sorenson, the former assistant to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. I kind of want to be her when I grow up. She was so eloquent and passionate. She quit her job at the UN to, in her words, add her voice to the current discussion of the relationship between the US and the UN. After her round table discussion with a bunch of law students I introduced myself and said that I'm a public health student and she said that when I graduate I will have a skill that the UN will be interested in. Which is very cool. I never really thought about working for/with the UN before, and I'm not really saying that it's at the top of my list now, but she was inspiring enough that the suggestion felt a lot like a compliment.

Lastly, Bob Harris has a lovely post regarding Bush's recent comments about gay marriage over on this modern world. I also want to link to a funny/cool list April sent on the same topic, but that link is bookmarked on my laptop at home and I'm at school. So that'll just have to wait. And on that note, I should be getting to work.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Whoa. Monster - so good. so upsetting. All the positive things you've heard about Charlize Theron's performance are true. Also, Christina Ricci, for some reason, looked like Kate to me. Even though, I know Kate doesn't look like that. Anyway. In tangentially-related-to-Kate topics, saw a preview for The Dreamers (see, she just saw The Dreamers and wrote about it on her LJ). Way to go Michael Pitt. Way to parlay a stint on Dawson's Creek into parts in movies like Hedwig and the Angry Inch and The Dreamers. (see, now it's going to bug you and you're going to have to imdb-him. haha) Right. Other things I've been meaning to mention, like meeting Gillian Sorenson, but those will have to wait. Bedtime.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Make Some Noise

Two summers ago I cut a "This Modern World" cartoon out of a pamphlet for an activist group in DC. It was obviously an archived cartoon, even then. I used to have it taped up next to my desk, as a reminder. Time to tape it up again.

"They smile reassuringly and tell you everything's fine, that the economy's going gang-busters and a rising tide lifts all boats - but you know that something's wrong here. You know that 85% of the wealth is controlled by 20% of the population...that the wages of a majority of Americans are actually lower, in real dollars, than they were in 1973. You know that your leaders have been bought and paid for, that corporate money sets the political agenda. You know that the free market has become the dominant religion of our age...that anyone foolish enough to suggest tempering the quest for profit with a modicum of concern for human rights or the environment is viewed as a heretic - if not an utter lunatic. You know that something is deeply, fundamentally wrong. But what can you do? You don't matter. Your vote doesn't matter. Your protests don't matter. Go ahead, march in the streets and chant your little slogans. The political sophisticates and media elites will smirk at your naivete, your misguided nostalgia for the sixties, and then they will steer the conversation back to the stock market, or the fabulous new restaurant they've recently discovered. They're not worried about you. And yet...something extraordinary just happened in Seattle. Demonstators took to the streets and made their voices heard - and it made a difference. The media were forced to address issues they had previously swept under the rug, to explain why anyone could possibly be opposed to unfettered global capitalism. In a few short days, the entire debate was altered, perhaps irrevocably. You know something's wrong. Maybe it's time to start making some noise about it. Happy new millennium."

Monday, February 16, 2004

For Anne

As Amelia says in her link to this wonderful event, Love is good.