Sarah went to her first chemotherapy session today and I think it went as well as a therapeutic ingestion of toxins can go.
UPDATE: After I posted this, Sarah had a strong reaction to the chemo and we ended up in an urgent care facility where they gave her several drugs to combat the symptoms and she's doing much better now.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Sarah went to her first chemotherapy session today and I think it went as well as a therapeutic ingestion of toxins can go.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
The article starts off by telling us that 600 Americans die every year by falling out of bed and how mundane things are likely to kill us.
I think there's a basic internal inconsistency in these types of articles. Why should I worry about eating a hamburger and my cholesterol when I could die tomorrow? The fact of the matter is that none of us know how long we'll be around. And I don't care what's most likely to kill Americans. I only care what's going to kill me.
Actually I think our society is way too safe. The fact that total idiots live to a ripe old age is a testament to the skill of our civil engineers and the nanny state perpetuated by people like Professor Sunstein...but I think our world is way too wrapped in foam and child-safe.
And I will take fries with that.
Posted by Safety Neal at 20:00
The killer had been drinking that day and had five previous DUI's. While I enjoy shooting, I make it a policy to never mix alcohol with guns. Having a beer is fine, but it's about relaxation. Guns, on the other hand, are about blowing shit up.
I knew a guy in LA who was an even bigger gun nut then I am, but he told me about one time he and a friend got totally ripped and then went out shooting at night. After he told me this, my opinion of him went way down and we never went out shooting together.
I think shooting at night is risky because the gun's flash will blind you and the gun's report will deafen you which has to dramatically increase you chances of shooting wildly. Richochets, property damage or death could easily ensue.
I have developed a rule that I do not allow people I take shooting to ask questions while holding the gun. If you want to ask a question, put the gun down! That helps prevent people from pointing the gun at me to ask how they take the safety off.
Firearms require respect and the discipline of steel.
Posted by Safety Neal at 17:26
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Popular Mechanics has a recent article discussing outdoor survival in this day and age of helicopter search and rescue and an obliging forest service. In step five they discuss building a lean-to, but don't call it that.
eHow has a simple and illustrated five-step lesson in building a lean-to here.
A lean-to is probably the easiest form of shelter to build in an emergency situation.
Posted by Safety Neal at 15:43
Monday, November 27, 2006
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Dogs are filthy animals, don't let anyone tell you different.
Posted by Safety Neal at 09:26
Did you see the story about the candidate for Oklahoma state superintendent of schools of who wants to put thick textbooks under school desks so that children can use them as shields against bullets in the event of an attack by an active shooter?
Posted by Safety Neal at 09:05
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
If you haven't seen the video of the student being tasered, you can check it out here. This took place at the undergrad library at UCLA in the computer lab.
I think the University has the right to exclude patrons who won't show an ID, but the use of force was ridiculous. A simple wrist-lock would have been sufficient. I think the taser is the lazy man's way of evicting someone.
The use of a taser against a non-violent offender is not be permitted on most campuses at the University of California.
Police at six of the 10 UC campuses carry Taser guns. Most are restricted to only using the guns against violent suspects, according to interviews with top UC law enforcement officials.
UCLA's police rules, however, allow officers to use Tasers on passive resisters as "a pain compliance technique," Assistant Chief Jeff Young said last week.
Officers can use the weapons after considering the potential injury to police and to the suspect, as well as the level of the suspect's resistance and the need for prompt resolution, he said.
Taser use was put into the spotlight after UCLA senior Mostafa Tabatabainejad, 23, was repeatedly stunned Nov. 14 when he refused to show his student ID to officers doing a late night check at Powell Library, according to authorities. Tabatabainejad said through his lawyer he didn't want to produce his ID because he thought he was being singled out because of his Middle Eastern appearance.
Video footage of the incident posted on the Internet showed Tabatabainejad screaming and writhing on the computer lab floor. |Mercury News|
Posted by Safety Neal at 19:23
Modafinil has changed the rules of the [sleep] game. The drug is what's known as a eugeroic, meaning "good arousal" in Greek. It delivers natural-feeling alertness and wakefulness without the powerful physical and mental jolt that earlier stimulants delivered. "There are no amphetamine-like feelings," says Yves. And as Yves' way of taking it shows, being on modafinil doesn't stop you from falling asleep if you want to.Now if they could just do something about the constant eating thing...
In fact, its effects are so subtle that many users say they don't notice anything at all - until they need to. "I wouldn't say it makes me feel more alert or less sleepy. It's just that thoughts of tiredness don't occur to me," says Yves. "If there's a job at hand that I should be doing, I'm focused, but if I'm watching a movie or something, there is no effect."
People who take modafinil for medical reasons usually take just enough of the drug in the morning to see them through the day, but it also seems to be able to deliver sustained wakefulness - for a couple of days at least. "The military has tested sequential dosing," says Jeffrey Vaught, president of R&D at Cephalon, modafinil's Pennsylvania-based manufacturer. "It works for 48 hours or so, but eventually you need to sleep."
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about modafinil is that users don't seem to have to pay back any "sleep debt". Normally, if you stayed awake for 48 hours straight you would have to sleep for about 16 hours to catch up. Modafinil somehow allows you to catch up with only 8 hours or so. Well before Cephalon took an interest in the drug, French researchers discovered this effect in cats back in the early 1990s (Brain Research, vol 591, p 319), and it has since been found to apply to humans too. |New Scientist|
Posted by Safety Neal at 16:32
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
I've argued before that I think we ought to partition Iraq into three states. I know some very knowledgeable people oppose the idea, but the idea is gaining ground among the Democratic party.
I just read the following, which is the most cogent analysis I've read yet about why partitioning Iraq could lead to disaster.
Prince Turki al-Faisal, the Saudi ambassador, sees the consequences of partitioning Iraq: "To envision that you can divide Iraq into three parts is to envision ethnic cleansing on a massive scale, sectarian killing on a massive scale."Of course, human knowledge is always imperfect and sometimes you've gotta pick the devil or the deep blue sea. Lord knows our current strategy in Iraq is failing.
That would certainly mean the Saudis, Iranians, Turks and Syrians would be drawn into the conflict, aligning with various factions to protect their own interests, borders and security.
Knickmeyer cites the important analysis of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a key figure in the region. He recently told "Der Spiegel," the German news magazine, "When the ethnic-religious break occurs in one country, it will not fail to occur elsewhere, too." The Syrian president concluded, "It would be as it was at the end of the Soviet Union, only much worse. Large wars, small wars -- no one would be able to get a grip on the consequences." |Niagra Falls Reporter|
Thanks to Juan Cole for the link.
Posted by Safety Neal at 23:02
Monday, November 20, 2006
Posted by Safety Neal at 08:07
Saturday, November 18, 2006
I decided to let Halle off the leash figuring she could make her way down more safely without it. That was a mistake. She bounded down the hill in about two seconds and then proceeded to sprint away up the trail. I called after her to no avail so I ran down the hill as fast as I dared and gave chase. While I am fairly quick, trying to catch a 25 pound dog that has a full minute headstart is a losing proposition. I kept her in sight for about 2/10 of a mile and then I saw her look back to see if I was still following.
Then she took off and I lost sight of her. Half a mile later I was totally out of gas and had slowed to a walk. And there was Halle, nonchalantly sniffing around a cave as if we did this every day.
I was happy that she hadn't gotten lost or escaped, but I was winded. I'm starting to a get a bit sore now after my morning run.
Posted by Safety Neal at 18:53
Friday, November 17, 2006
I just read this in the Wall Street Journal:
President Bush said Friday that the U.S.'s unsuccessful war in Vietnam three decades ago offered lessons for the American-led struggle in Iraq. "We'll succeed unless we quit," Mr. Bush said shortly after arriving in Hanoi. |WSJ|(sub'n)In what alternate universe is that true?
It's charming that from his vantage point in the Texas Air National Guard, Dubya was able to determine that 10 years of warfare and 50,000 American lives were just the beginning of bringing the fight to the enemy in Vietnam.
With that sort of blind optimism, is it any wonder that Bush got us stuck in a quagmire? Bush is obviously deluded, but that's not a surprise.
What's more disappointing is the the mendacity of his sycophantic advisors. Juan Cole points the irony inherent in the brutal honesty of the CIA director's assessment of Iraq for Congress:
[I]t is ironic that the supposedly public and straightforward politicians and cabinet members, such as Cheney and Rice, mostly retail fairy tales to the US public. But the chief of the country's clandestine intelligence agency? He's telling it like it is. He revealed that daily attacks in Iraq are up from 70 in January to 100 last spring after the Samarra bombing, and then to 180 a day last month. He also said that there were only 1300 foreign al-Qaeda volunteers fighting in Iraq, whereas the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement was "in the low tens of thousands" strong. If there are 40,000 guerrillas, then "al-Qaeda" is only 3.25 percent of the "insurgency." That is why Dick Cheney's and other's Chicken Little talk about al-Qaeda taking over Sunni Arab Iraq is overblown, at least at the moment. |Informed Comment|
Posted by Safety Neal at 16:05
The designers say new upgrades are coming, which is good because the scoring doesn't really value the significance of a piece of legislation currently. It'll be interesting to see how well it can track the meat-grinder style of politics we've developed in this country where a large number of bills arrive in committee and an omnibus piece of legislation bloated with amendments and earmarks emerges.
Posted by Safety Neal at 14:27
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Bored with American politics or just need some good electioneering to get your political buzz on? The coming French election may prove interesting. A female socialist is the leading leftist candidate to be the next French president.
Ségolène Royal's battle to become the first woman president of France begins in earnest today, after the Socialist party last night overwhelmingly endorsed her as their candidate in next April's election.Sarkozy is a charming fellow who has obviously been paying attention to Rove's strategies of using fear and racism to drive the electorate farther to the right.
The "madonna of the opinion polls", whose personal battle against a domineering military colonel father and the perceived sexism of her party's old guard has fascinated France even more than her policies, secured a decisive victory after a rancorous US-style primary....
A former education and family minister who once advised François Mitterrand, and best known for introducing paternity leave to France, she is a self-styled outsider. She has surprised the Socialist old school by side-stepping the party machine, using the internet to build up a support base and appealing directly to the public by promising to break with France's unpopular, aloof political elite.
Her supporters, known as "royalistes", say she is the the most popular figure of the left among the public and the only one able to beat likely centre-right candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, the interior minister, to the presidency. A poll published yesterday in Le Point showed she would be neck and neck with him in the final round.|Guardian|
Posted by Safety Neal at 22:38
Monday, November 13, 2006
Critics say they fear the new Conservative government believes the solution is moving Native peoples off the land they have lived on for generations and getting them to settle in southern cities.Here's a link to Flangan's book First Nations? Second Thoughts. For a critical response to the book by three Canadian students, see this piece in Znet.
"It's a complete abdication of the whole issue of collective rights and the aboriginal people's connection with the land," said the Liberal MP Anita Neville.
The New Democratic party MP Charlie Angus said the implications were profound, asking: "What about every other isolated community that's in poverty?"
Some worry the Conservatives are adopting the views of Tom Flangan, a professor at the University of Alberta who has strong ties with the prime minister, Stephen Harper.
Flangan has argued that the federal government should not keep paying for Natives to live on reservations that have no other source of income. Native people need to integrate into the modern economy, he wrote in his book First Nations: Second Thoughts.|Guardian|
Posted by Safety Neal at 08:26
Sunday, November 12, 2006
For those of us in North America looking for winter adventures closer to home, the Guardian brings us news of a Candian firm in British Columbia called Secret Stash Alpine Adventures that specializes in getting skiers to deep, untracked snow.
Just be sure to bring along your avalanche kit.
Posted by Safety Neal at 18:06
By the end the match Minnesota team wasn't even trying to score points. Rather their jammers were focused solely on knocking the stuffing out of the other team's jammers. Bellyflopping onto concrete has gotta hurt. I am always impressed by the toughness of roller derby athletes.
The crowd was much more mainstream than I'd anticipated. The were very few obvious hipsters or punks, although there were a number of tattoos, piercings, and mohawks on display. This was a St. Paul match and was pretty well attended. I wonder if the Minneapolis matches attract a more deviant crowd.
The half time show was by a band called AlpenRose who performed polka music. I've never polka'd before, but it seemed pretty easy even for someone like me with two left feet. The audience got out and danced and everyone seemed to have a good time.
During half time we went outside into a blustery Minnesota night so Aldous could pollute the air and we met one of the Ohio players, Red-Headed Slut, who helped us discern the scoring system for roller derby. See also Ohio Rollergirls on MySpace.
I think Aldous and I will be attending more matches in the future. This was the first game of the season, so it's a nice excuse to get out of the house during the winter.
Posted by Safety Neal at 09:32
Friday, November 10, 2006
He predicts that with the Democrats now in control of Congress, the culture war will become a sisyphean struggle to define our civil liberties, re-define the balance of power, and save the tatters of our legitimacy as the world's remaining hyperpower*.
Here, briefly, are five "benchmark" questions to ask when considering the possibilities of the final two years of the Bush administration's wrecking-ball regime:The whole piece is worth reading if you have the time.
Will Iraq Go Away? The political maneuvering in Washington and Baghdad over the chaos in Iraq was only awaiting election results to intensify....[E]xpect Iraq to remain a horrifying, bloody, devolving fixture of the final two years of the Bush administration. It will not go away. Bush (and Rove) will surely try to enmesh Congressional Democrats in their disaster of a war. Imagine how bad it could be if -- with, potentially, years to go -- the argument over who "lost" Iraq has already begun.
Is an Attack on Iran on the Agenda? ...If Iran is to be a target, 2007 will be the year. So watch for the pressures to ratchet up on this one early in the New Year. This is madness, of course. Such an attack would almost certainly throw the Middle East into utter chaos, send oil prices through the roof, possibly wreck the global economy, cause serious damage in Iran, not fell the Iranian government, and put U.S. troops in neighboring Iraq in perilous danger. Given the administration record, however, all this is practically an argument for launching such an attack. (And don't count on the military to stop it, either. They're unlikely to do so.) Failing empires have certainly been known to lash out...
Are the Democrats a Party?...Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats in recent years were not, in any normal sense, a party at all. They were perhaps a coalition of four or five or six parties (some trailing hordes of pundits and consultants, but without a base). Now, with the recruitment of so many ex-Republicans and conservatives into their House and Senate ranks, they may be a coalition of six or seven parties. Who knows? They have a genuine mandate on Iraq and a mandate on oversight. What they will actually do -- what they are capable of doing (other than the normal money, career, and earmark-trading in Washington) -- remains to be seen. They will be weak, the surroundings fierce and strong.
Will We Be Ruled by the Facts on the Ground? In certain ways, it may hardly matter what happens to which party. By now -- and this perhaps represents another kind of triumph for the Bush administration -- the facts on the ground are so powerful that it would be hard for any party to know where to begin. Will we, for instance, ever be without a second Defense Department, the so-called Department of Homeland Security, now that a burgeoning $59 billion a year private "security" industry with all its interests and its herd of lobbyists in Washington has grown up around it? Not likely in any of our lifetimes....
What Will Happen When the Commander-in-Chief Presidency and the Unitary Executive Theory Meets What's Left of the Republic? The answer on this one is relatively uncomplicated and less than three months away from being in our faces; it's the Mother of All Constitutional Crises...[B]uckle your seatbelts and wait for the first requests for oversight information from some investigative committee; wait for the first subpoenas to meet Cheney's men in some dark hallway...[The Supreme Court], despite the President's best efforts, is probably still at least one justice short when it comes to unitary-executive-theory supporters. I wouldn't even want to offer a prediction on this one. But a year down the line, anything is possible. |TomDispatch|(hyperlinks omitted)
* Hyperpower is the term the French use instead of superpower. Mr. Englehardt uses it, and I find it far more descriptive of the US's status than superpower.
Posted by Safety Neal at 06:59
Monday, November 06, 2006
Jurist recently had an article discussing claims that there is increasingly a climate of judical intimidation in this country, asserted by individuals including Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
The article discussed Amendment E in South Dakota sponsored by a group called J.A.I.L. for Judges. These people are a bunch of nutcases.
I'm happy to report that 89% of South Dakotans voted against this measure. The defeat of the anti-abortion amendment is getting all of the press, but I think the defeat of E also shows that South Dakotans, while being quite conservative, aren't totally crazy.
More troubling is the recent wave of attacks and murders of judges throughout the country, but that's more evidence of a systemic breakdown in civility and respect for the institution of law.
Posted by Safety Neal at 16:03
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Interestingly, they basically blame Bush for being a dumbass and lousing up their brilliant plan.
Richard Perle admits that in retrospect it wasn't such a good idea to invade Iraq.
"[I]f I had been delphic, and had seen where we are today, and people had said, 'Should we go into Iraq?,' I think now I probably would have said, 'No, let's consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.'"You know, I recall participating in the largest peace protests the world has ever seen prior to the Iraq war. There were a lot of people around the globe who thought this might turn out badly. And Mr. Perle thinks you need to be an oracle to have known this one was going down to disaster?
That gets the big "Fuck You" from Safety Neal.
Posted by Safety Neal at 13:33
Ars Technica has coverage of the forthcoming Gower report on IP in the UK. It suggests there are (at least) 4 possible approaches to IP regimes.
The study details four models which balance these competing interests in different ways. First, there's the American model, where knowledge is understood solely as an asset. Some fair use, parody, and public domain rights are recognized, but consumer rights are restricted, copyright terms are extended, and DRM trumps fair use. This is because knowledge is viewed as a form of property, not a social good. As the study notes, there is a danger in this approach: "Where IPRs [intellectual property rights] are understood as comparable to conventional property rights, public domain could potentially disappear altogether, just as the enclosure movement eradicated common land all over the UK in the late 18th century."
The second model currently describes the UK, where knowledge is an asset first and a public resource second. This means that producers are generally protected first, and while more consumer rights may be upheld, the relationship between DRM and fair use is not resolved, and copyright terms may be continuously extended.
The third model is that of a society where knowledge is first seen as a public resource and only secondarily as an asset. Comparing this to the "open access" movement in academic publishing, the authors note that such an approach is not anti-business. Under this model, public interest is the basis for IP policy, copyright terms are not extended, and fair use trumps DRM.
Finally, the fourth model is "cyber-socialism," where knowledge is seen only as a public resource and copyright is not allowed. The profits of creativity are returned to the public and a "new ethic of playfulness and voluntarism" is the norm. The authors see these ideals at work in open source projects like Linux and Wikipedia, but point out that "it is not clear how such a model could be used to fit in investment-heavy models of innovation and creativity, such as the development of drugs or films." |Link|
Posted by Safety Neal at 13:11
An article by Alex Kirby points out that this is just one of half a dozen interrelated ecological crises the human race faces. Ironically, these crises are a result of our success as a species, we are destroying the Earth through overpopulation and its concomitant demand for ever more resources to maintain our burgeoning population.
Food: An estimated 1 in 6 people suffer from hunger and malnutrition while attempts to grow food are damaging swathes of productive land.
Water: By 2025, two-thirds of the world's people are likely to be living in areas of acute water stress.
Energy: Oil production could peak and supplies start to decline by 2010.
Climate change: The world's greatest environmental challenge, according to the UK prime minister Tony Blair, with increased storms, floods, drought and species losses predicted.
Biodiversity: Many scientists think the Earth is now entering its sixth great extinction phase.
Pollution: Hazardous chemicals are now found in the bodies of all new-born babies, and an estimated one in four people worldwide are exposed to unhealthy concentrations of air pollutants. |Link|
Posted by Safety Neal at 08:41
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
It is true that partition will not end all motives for Sunnis and Shia to continue fighting or to resume fighting later, but the continuing separation of the populations will gradually reduce what is the most important motive driving the war now. |Link|
One of the comments suggests that the partition of the Indian sub-continent was hurried and therefore bungled.
A common thread amongst historians is that the entire process of [India's] partition was too hurried - a delicate operation carried out with too blunt an instrument.
I see parallels with the possible hurried departure from Iraq of the foreign forces too - leaving the warring factions to solve the problem on their own.|Link|
At least the India-Pakistan-Bangladesh partition was planned. The partition of Iraq has been actively opposed by the US and has happened organically in response to our total inability to manage the security, economic, and political situation.
I love how our draft-dodger-in-chief has the temerity to claim the Democrats don't have a plan for Iraq...
Posted by Safety Neal at 19:17
Scientists in the UK have managed to grow a tiny liver out of stem cells from an umbilical cord. Alcoholics everywhere can rejoice!
The Daily Mail broke the news, but there's additional coverage at Lifesite and Al-Jazeera.
N.B. Lifesite is a pro-life website, which I don't endorse at all, but they do have a nice collection of links on this issue.
Posted by Safety Neal at 16:54
A survey commissioned by the Egyptian government reveals that the majority of Egyptians surveyed think of Denmark as a greater enemy to Egypt than the US.
Not that the US or Denmark are actually enemies of Arab people, but the current US administration is without a doubt more of a threat to any real hope of peaceful co-existence than the Danes ever could be.
Posted by Safety Neal at 14:58
Maybe this is heretical, but I don't think the US has any influence over North Korea and I don't blame Bush or Clinton. North Korea is totally within China's sphere of influence and we just need to learn to accept that.
How would the US feel if China tried to lobby the Navajo or Lakota nations to take up arms against the United States government?
Posted by Safety Neal at 14:32