succumbing to peer pressure

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What they said

I haven't blogged about the latest SCOTUS outrage because it nearly makes my head asplode. So instead I'll just copy other people's fine words:

Bitch PhD - Seriously. Equal pay for equal work? We're still fighting over this? Not the details of what it means, but the simple idea that it's the law? What? The? Fuck?

August J. Pollak - the Roberts majority isn't just anti-abortion. It's anti-women. And the sooner liberals and progressives start telling moderate and even conservative women that even if they don't like abortion, these people also want your daughters to not get the same pay, not get the same education, not have the same chance to play sports or even try and have the same jobs, the better. Because even if a mother thinks abortion is wrong, I doubt there are many mothers who think a judge has the right the tell them their daughter isn't allowed to do something because she's a girl.

A post that probably only Ahalya will appreciate

So I'm re-watching Party of Five, via netflix (feel free to mock) and I've finally gotten to the episode in the second season where Julia is pregnant (Before and After). I remember that this episode made an impression at the time, but re-watching it as an 'adult' I have a whole new level of appreciation. Julia is 15 (16?) and in love with her boyfriend, and he's a stand-up guy, and they've always been careful, and she's pregnant. And they spend an entire hour-long episode wallowing around in it. My two favorite things about this episode are 1) no one is a villain. everyone has different feelings and opinions, often in conflict, but no one plays the role of the bad person. instead they let it be complicated and messy and not black and white. 2) they aren't shy about the word abortion. they don't fall back on euphemisms or whisper it, they talk about it. And they really let Julia reason out her situation and the characters come across as very honest and unfiltered (and melodramatic, but the show always is). In the end she decides to get an abortion, but miscarries before her appointment. People try to tell her its better this way, but she really owns her decision - she acknowledges that she can't act like she hadn't made up her mind. No one shies away from any of it. She has a great argument with her boyfriend, who keeps asking if she's mad at him. She says he didn't do this to her, they both did it to her, but nonetheless, she's the one who has to carry it around (literally and figuratively). No matter how much he cares and wants to, he can't really share this with her, not in an equal way. Which is, sadly, so true.


Some of you may have no idea what that collection of letters means, but to me, and to plenty of my colleagues, it's the stuff of nightmares. It means extreme-drug-resistant tuberculosis. Multi-drug resistant TB is resistant to at least two frontline drugs. It's still incredibly treatable, just with more expensive second-line drugs (they also feature ickier side effects). Extremely drug resistant TB is resistant to all frontline and at least one second-line drugs. It's easily, and frequently, fatal. And a gentleman with it is currently under federal quarantine here at a local hospital. They put him there after he flew to Europe for vacation. This is my favorite part of the article:

“I’m a very well-educated, successful, intelligent person,” said the man, who declined to give his name. “This is insane to me that I have an armed guard outside my door when I’ve cooperated with everything other than the whole solitary confinement in Italy thing.”

I could ring his neck! Except for that one tiny little thing, you know, where I potentially exposed hundreds, if not thousands, of people to a deadly disease!

This type of attitude is also exactly how we get drug-resistant illnesses. I hope I'm preaching to the choir here, but the flippant, oh yeah, I took most of my antibiotics, I only left one dose, or two doses, or three doses, but I feel better, I'm sure those doctors are just exaggerating, is really unacceptable! It isn't some big conspiracy (and you know I'm no fan of big pharma), you really honestly do need to take every single pill that is prescribed to you (if it's an antibiotic).

This is also, for me, a really interesting area of public health, because it's where health and human rights are actually in conflict. Individuals have rights that entitle them to freedom of movement and access to employment, both of which are unequivocally violated under isolation and quarantine. Personally, I think justifiably so, but you can get into some good arguments about it. For example, this man, if his boss fires him for missing too many days of work, can he sue his employer? Can he sue the federal government, since they physically restrained him from going to work? Is it the federal government's job to prevent him from losing his job? If he isn't receiving a paycheck, who pays his rent? The federal government, since they are the cause of the absence of a paycheck?

It gets really fun when you expand the scenario to an entire town. But lucky us, Bush has pretty much taken that debate off the table with his latest expansion of power. NSPD-51/HSPD-20 consolidates all federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal governments plus private sector organizations under the president's direct authority in the event of a national emergency. And the best part? The president is the one who declares something to be a national emergency! Under the National Emergency Act, a president could declare a state of emergency, but that had to be immediately confirmed by Congress. This appears to supersede that act, and includes absolutely no mention whatsoever of Congress or any sort of approval or oversight.

Monday, May 28, 2007