succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, July 10, 2004

And another thing...

In the process of digging my coffee table out from under numerous piles of papers, bills, magazines, and whatnot I came across this week's This Modern World, a definite must-see. Share with your friends!

Random Weekly Wrap-Up

So I post a lot less often these days, and I think that's probably a good thing. I guess that means I'm spending more time talking to actual people instead of myself or the cat. Anyway, item number one on today's wrap-up list is scary electronic voting machines. I recently learned that it's probably too late to get paper records on my local machines here in GA, so it's probably too late most other places that lack printers too. But the least we can do is stay informed about how fucked up and terrifying this could turn out to be. To that end, there's a pretty cool lady out in California doing some research and crusading. She sounds pretty shrill, but hey, these are desperate times. Do you want to wake up on November 3 to discover they needed to do a recount in several states, but without a permanent record there was no way to do that, so Bush just got elected again?

And speaking of scary things related to this administration, we have this little tidbit from the times:

An internal investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services confirms that the top Medicare official threatened to fire the program's chief actuary if he told Congress that drug benefits would probably cost much more than the White House acknowledged.

In security news, I have lots of mixed feelings about the new frequent traveler quickie pass through security. On the one hand, I already work for the man, so he already has all that info on me and then some. On the other hand, I'm not very comfortable with the idea of a database sitting around somewhere collecting all that information.

And to cleanse the palate, this is just too damn funny. Do people actually believe that a filing cabinet with a blinking light on top might be a legitimate security device?

And back to the depressing news - a new report by the NEA found that only 57% of all adults in America read a single book during 2002. One single book over the course of an entire year! I can't even wrap my brain around that.

To harp on my latest book just a little more - the Houston Voice reported yesterday that among the CDC-authored papers cut from the Bangkok AIDS conference were seven studies about homosexual men. Good grief, it's like I don't even need to read "And the Band Played On" because I'm fucking living it!

If this were actually a joke, I'd be laughing. Far as I can tell, it's real.


So I went home last weekend for the first time in way too long, and it was lovely, as home always is. Spent quality time with the parents, did some shopping, slept, ate, helped them clean up the basement, listened to Mom play cute hippy songs on her new guitar, and managed to squeeze in an evening with Jennings and Kelly, continuing our tradition of terrible Vin Diesel movies by catching a late showing of The Chronicles of Riddick. So bad. So funny. Best line of the night - "It's been a long time since I smelled beautiful." Though Jennings is partial to "29.4 kilometers" but I figure that loses a little something without the accompanying context.
Also, turns out Bush decided to visit WV over the Fourth of July holiday. Dad suggested we make signs and stand in the median outside the church where he was rumored to attend services on Sunday morning. I guess it's probably a good thing we slept in instead:

A worker with the Federal Emergency Management Agency who wore an anti-Bush T-shirt at the president’s July Fourth rally in Charleston has been sent home to Texas.

Nicole Rank, who was working for FEMA in West Virginia, and her husband, Jeff, were removed from the Capitol grounds in handcuffs shortly before Bush’s speech. The pair wore T-shirts with the message “Love America, Hate Bush.”

Aight, that's enough for today. T-minus 5.5 hours until April and Scott's big summer shindig (The Too Drunk to Drive Party) and I have way too many things on my to do list for the rest of the afternoon.

Friday, July 09, 2004

I PASSED!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

If you ever wondered what sort of work I want to do "when I grow up," or why I am so passionate about public health, read "And the Band Played On" by Randy Shilts. (Sudiptya - I don't think it will change your life, but it is a good read) Or, if you are somewhat daunted by a 600+ page book on the history of the AIDS epidemic, simply rent the HBO movie, which I mentioned in an earlier post. Actually, it was just random chance that I decided to rent that movie the night I finished my exams, but since then, I've been slightly obsessed.

The process of reading this book veers between heartbreaking and infuriating and inspiring. As Randy Shilts says in the prologue, "Because of their efforts, the story of politics, people, and the AIDS epidemic is, ultimately, a tale of courage as well as cowardice, compassion as well as bigotry, inspiration as well as venality, and redemption as well as despair."

One of the first things that is so heartbreaking and frustrating is an account of the 1980 Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco, celebrating much the same things I lauded about the Atlanta parade just a few days ago. Feels like in two and half decades we've barely gotten anywhere. Not to mention all the repetition of how there's no money to study this disease because it's only killing gays, and the only time it gets any real media attention is when the first few heterosexuals are stricken. I can imagine a nearly identical argument today. "Don't mention homosexuals in your grant proposal, it will only get sent back." "Don't create panic among the homophobes or give them a reason to start a backlash against the few small gains homosexuals have managed to make."

In the book I am once again reminded of why, during Matthew Modine's portrayal of his outburst at a meeting with blood bank officials, I was prompted to state, I could marry a man like Don Francis. He was a researcher for the CDC, and although the book often reads like fiction, making it a little too easy to think of everyone as characters, he is a very real person. At one point, using money and resources from his own projects and center, since the American government couldn't be bothered to cough up any funding, Francis realizes that continuing research on "gay cancer" could cost him his job, but he is determined to keep at it anyway. How often do you come across someone willing to risk their career for what they believe is right, for the betterment of others?

Although fate or the powers that be or whatever you want to call it was against us, and the spreading of AIDS was inevitable, the severity of the crisis could have been reduced if more people had done their jobs, if fewer researchers were blinded by the belief that a disease might actually care about a person's sexuality, and if the crawling gears of government could have been forced to move a little faster. And countless lives might have been saved. And if that doesn't motivate you to want to change things, I don't know what will.