Sunday, June 29, 2008

The smallest of things

The Guardian Foundation and British council have posted selected Middle Eastern political cartoons here. There are captions, but they're often buried in text.

Friday, June 27, 2008


go!!, originally uploaded by medic112.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Disaster Gaming

John Gaudiosi has an article in Wired about a new video game called Zero Hour that is designed to allow First Responders (especially paramedics and fire fighters) to undergo simulated disasters.

You can watch a demo here using Flash from George Washington University's National Medical Emergency Services Preparedness Initiative.

Not only do you provide direct services to virtual patients, but you also get to be the incident commander and set up your command post, triage, treatment areas and transport. In the demo, they don't actually you set up a morgue... but based on the condition of some of the virtual patients....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Alternative Reality Comic

Thunder Road

My friend Sean writes the comic Thunder Road.

It's the first comic to ever be distributed solely for cell phones.

Welcome to the 21st century.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Weight of Water

exhale, originally uploaded by _Neverletmego_.

Safety Propositions: Breath Control

I've recently learned from several sources talking about the value of controlling your breathing during times of crisis. Controlled breathing helps keep you calm by controlling your heart rate. On a related note, if you are injured controlling your breathing may also help control bleeding.

I also think that breathing more consistently increases oxygenation and may help stave off fatigue.

I've been taking some yoga classes which is what first got me thinking about breath control. But I also have read about the value of controlling one's breathing in recent issues of Police and Time magazine.

When I mentioned this to a friend who has had a couple of children she suggested to me that these are all reasons why women take lamaze classes and that controlled breathing may also help in tolerating pain.

Definitely something I need to work on myself. I generally take breathing for granted and never give it a second thought, but I'm now persuaded that my cavalier approach to breathing is far from optimal.

Summer Viewing: Rape Revenge Movies

The Guardian has a review of rape revenge films, The Evil that Men Do. I still haven't seen Ms. 45, I'll have to put that into my movie queue.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Minnesota Birches

Birches, originally uploaded by HelenJr.

Minnesota Nice

Visiting Baltimore has done wonders for my relationship with Minneapolis, it's such a nice city by comparison. And I'm so happy to be home in Saint Paul. I'm going to do some gardening this morning and then work on my conference report this evening.

Sarah's on her way to DC today for a meeting, it's good that we're so close to the Minneapolis airport.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Safety Propositions: Mugger Wallet

Since I'm in Baltimore today, I re-instated an old practice: the mugger wallet.

When I travel to cities that have high rates of crime, I carry two wallets. The one in my front pocket has all of my ID and most of my cash. The one in my back pocket has a canceled credit card, $40 in small bills and random wallet stuff like a library card, other people's business cards, et cetera.

I've only been mugged once (it was in DC) and I'm pretty reticent to give up my wallet even though I know I should just hand it over, but I'm really sizing the mugger up trying to decide if I can kick the living shit out of him. But that's just me being irrational and fighty.

The mugger wallet is a self-preservation mechanism for me because I know I will give it up without feeling any remorse.

That being said, it's also important not to go any place with a criminal. Never let them transport you from crime scene A to crime scene B. They can have your wallet and keys... but don't let them take you any place. If they carjack you, crash the car, don't let them transport you.

I can almost guarantee that crime scene B will be remote or hidden. If they're going to rape/torture/shoot you... they've already decided that. They are less likely to do that to you at crime scene A, and if they do... at least you've a decent chance of getting medical help.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The National Incident Management System

I don't usually compliment the Bush administration on anything, but I do like the National Incident Management System (NIMS) that is now mandated for disaster response under Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 (HSPD-5). Although I don't know why we need HSPD's in the first place. Could we just have regular CFR regulations or an executive order?

Anyway, HSPD 5 reads is "[t]o prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies, the United States Government shall establish a single, comprehensive approach to domestic incident management... to ensure that all levels of government... have the capability to work efficiently and effectively together, using a national approach to domestic incident management... crisis management and consequence management [is] a single, integrated function, rather than as two separate functions." |HSPD 5(3)|


vio0690, originally uploaded by antonis2009.

Safety Propositions: Responding to Crime

I love criminal law. Don't ask me why, but I do. Maybe it's the study of human deviance that really attracts me. I've always been a very respectful person and the audacity of criminals often shocks me. Hopefully a crime in my presence will jolt me into action rather than inaction....

I'm not a law enforcement officer and I'm not trained to arrest people, but I dislike criminals.

Minnesota has a very liberal citizen's arrest law (Dunnell's Minnesota Digest is a good source for a more in depth discussion).

I am a (highly) responsible citizen and an officer of the court.

If a crime occurred in my presence, I would (as far as prudent) interdict the criminal act and/or make the criminal take flight and protect the innocent. At the very least, I could call for help on my cell phone and observe the crime so I could testify as to what happened later.

We all have different tolerances for danger and no two incidents are alike, so you'll have to make your own judgments, but if nothing else, you can go to police and report what you saw.

One doesn't have to know the law to be a witness, but to make a lawful arrest, you must know the law. You could theoretically be sued for wrongful arrest, but fear of litigation should not make us immune to the suffering of others, such as the notorious Kitty Genovese case where dozens of people heard a woman being stabbed to death in New York City but didn't want to get involved and a young woman died.

Failure to prevent or prosecute crime is arguably illegal under an old doctrine called misprision.

[M]isprision is almost never prosecuted, and to the few U.S. lawyers who even know the term, misprision is virtually a dead crime.

The crime is nonetheless far from obsolete in Anglo-American law... In Australia in 1959, for example, the Victoria Supreme Court upheld the misprision conviction of a man who knew who shot him but refused to tell the police. In England in 1961, the House of Lords upheld the similar conviction of a man who had discovered an arms theft at a U.S. Air Force base but failed to report it. In the U.S., says Goldberg, misprision of felony is a perfectly viable common-law charge in Vermont, a statutory offense in Maine, and a 176-year-old federal crime (U.S. Code, Title 18, Section 4 ), which is punishable by a $500 fine and up to three years' imprisonment.Time

18 USC 4 (2007) is misprision of felony. "Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both."

I first read about misprision during the prosecution of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. Michael Fortier knew of the plans for the Oklahoma City bombings but did not warn authorities was charged with misprision of felony.

Misprision has largely fallen into desuetude.

Desuetude is when a law is not enforced or dormant. Sometimes laws are merely unenforced, but other times they are reclassified and not decriminalized at all.

The crime of mayhem, for instance was a felony at common law, punishable by death.

Mayhem (at common law) was amputating someone else's body parts leaving one less able to defend him or herself, such as eye-gouging or hand-chopping. Mayhem still exists in a few jurisdictions, but modern legal codes typically criminalize mayhem under a different name or concept.

But some things are totally decriminalized, like possession of a crossbow. During the middle ages, crossbows were so effective against cavalry that the Pope banned them. Now you can own them, but you still cannot hunt with them in many jurisdictions. (Many jurisdictions don't even allow hunting deer with a 5.56mm NATO round or smaller. It kills humans reasonably well, but isn't enough gun for a deer or larger animal.)

I wonder if the Brady Campaign would go after my crossbow if they ever managed to ban my handgun... would they leave me unarmed among the lawless?

At least I'd still have my pepper spray....

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Flamethrower demo, originally uploaded by Glenn Abare.

All the King's Horses

It's an interesting paradox that American power is so vast, yet so ineffectual. We could destroy every person on the face of the Earth with a gallon of Q Fever or our massive nuclear arsenal, but even our formidable military might cannot convince people that the United States should rule the world.

One scholar who sees serious differences within the Democratic Party is Edward A. Kolodziej, a political scientist who directs the Center for Global Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Kolodziej argues that both Bush-style neoconservatives and Clintonesque liberal internationalists hold vastly exaggerated senses of America's ability to shape the world. Our overwhelming military dominance, Kolodziej says, does not mean that we can snap our fingers and persuade allies and adversaries to do as we please.

In From Superpower to Besieged Global Power: Restoring World Order After the Failure of the Bush Doctrine (University of Georgia Press, May), which Kolodziej edited with Roger E. Kanet, 15 political scientists argue that President Bush's foreign policy has been so hubristic and self-defeating that it has failed to advance American interests in even a single region of the world.

Of the presidential race, Kolodziej says he is cautiously hopeful that Obama would bring to the White House a "mature" sense of the nature and limits of American power — a maturity that Kolodziej also sees in Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Christopher J. Dodd but not in McCain or Clinton.

In Kolodziej's view, with the exception of Biden, Dodd, and Obama, most of the Democratic Party since 1989 has been wedded to a naïve and triumphalist liberal internationalism that is not very different from the Republican framework.
Robert Kagan, a prominent Iraq hawk and McCain adviser, appears to agree with Kolodziej that there is no great gulf between conservative and liberal American foreign-policy ambitions. In the spring issue of World Affairs, Kagan, a senior associate at the Car-negie Endowment for International Peace, emphasizes the similarities between Bill Clinton's and George W. Bush's approaches to Iraq, and he writes that this fall American voters will "choose between two variations of the same worldview."

But where Kagan is comfortable with a United States that acts as a hegemonic, "indispensable" power, Kolodziej argues that to regain its strength, America must repair the multilateral alliances that thrived during the cold war.

"What emerged from the cold war was not an American super-power so much as a constellation of open, market-oriented societies as the principal power-constellation of the modern world system," Kolodziej says. "The Bush doctrine was marked by the undermining of that coalition, and an attempted break in American strategic doctrine and diplomatic policy. That all failed."|Foreign Policy: A Campaign Primer – Chronicle of Higher Ed|(emphasis added)
I don't want to get too optimistic about Obama... but given the alternatives, at least he gives me some hope.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sometimes I miss the illusion of privacy

Making a list, checking it twice

I've been enjoying the Urban Dictionary's Word of the Day feature recently. Today's word is:

yellow listed: a person who does not wash their hands after urinating is placed on the 'yellow list', or they are 'yellow listed'

Co-worker: You may want to double up on the hand sanitizer after shaking hands with Edith, she was yellow listed last week

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Alternate Views

What's a gun for Dad?, originally uploaded by Melvind.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


neal's plant, originally uploaded by SarahDeer.

Voice of the Whirlwind

George Monbiot explains why he recently tried to arrest John Bolton.

I had no intention of arresting John Bolton, the former under-secretary of state at the US state department, when I arrived at the Hay festival. But during a panel discussion about the Iraq war, I remarked that the greatest crime of the 21st century had become so normalised that one of its authors was due to visit the festival to promote his book. I proposed that someone should attempt a citizens' arrest, in the hope of instilling a fear of punishment among those who plan illegal wars. After the session I realised that I couldn't call on other people to do something I wasn't prepared to do myself.

I knew that I was more likely to be arrested and charged than Mr Bolton. I had no intention of harming him, or of acting in any way that could be interpreted as aggressive, but had I sought only to steer him gently towards the police I might have faced a range of exotic charges, from false imprisonment to aggravated assault. I was prepared to take this risk. It is not enough to demand that other people act, knowing that they will not. If the police, the courts and the state fail to prosecute what the Nuremberg tribunal described as "the supreme international crime", I believe we have a duty to seek to advance the process. |War criminals must fear punishment - Guardian|
One of the commenters, MartinSmith, mocks Monbiot by saying:
The prominent antiwar lawyer, Philippe Sands, said that your attempted arrest of Bolton was illegal, as well as inappropriate. The fact that went ahead and tried to commit this illegal act anyway rather undercuts your argument given that it's based on legality.

And there lies the rub. Most people - the majority of the British and Iraqi public opinion at the time of the war - just don't accept that removing a fascist totalitarian regime, that started two unprovoked wars and had not complied with UN resolutions for decades, is "the greatest crime of the 21st century". Many of those people now think the war was a mistake in how it was handled, yes, but certainly not "criminal". They are outraged that you would compare such a thing to the Nazis, who certainly didn't set up a free press and democracy. |Id.|
While I think Mr. Monbiot's actions were futile and a bit silly... how can you compare a simple act of civil disobedience with Bush's war crimes?

We make our choices in life and we have to be prepared to face the consequences.